Letters to friends/1.6

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To P. Lentulus Spinther in Cilicia[edit]

Rome, February 56 BC[edit]

What is going on you will learn from Pollio,[1] who not only was engaged in all the transactions, but was the leader in them. In my own deep distress, occasioned by the course your business has taken,[2] I am chiefly consoled by the hope which makes me strongly suspect that the dishonest practices of men will be defeated both by the measures of your friends and by mere lapse of time, which must have a tendency to weaken the plans of your enemies and of traitors. In the second place, I derive a ready consolation from the memory of my own dangers, of which I see a refiexion in your fortunes. For though your position is attacked in a less important particular than that which brought mine to the ground, yet the analogy is so strong, that I trust you will pardon me if I am not frightened at what you did not yourself consider ought to cause alarm. But shew yourself the man I have known you to be, to use a Greek expression, "since your nails were soft."[3] The injurious conduct of men will, believe me, only make your greatness more conspicuous. Expect from me the greatest zeal and devotion in everything: I will not falsify your expectation.


  1. The famous C. Asinius Pollio.
  2. The postponement of the Egyptian commission.
  3. ex apalôn onuchôn, i.e., "from your earliest youth." Others explain it to mean "from the bottom of your heart," or "thoroughly," from the idea that the nerves ended in the nails. ex autôn tôn onuchôn, "thoroughly," occurs in late Greek, and similar usages in the Anthology.