Letters to friends/13.6a

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To Q. Valerius Orca, proconsul in Africa[edit]

Rome, May 56 BC[edit]

If you are well I shall be glad. I am quite well. I presume that you will remember that, when escorting you on the commencement of your official journey,[1] I mentioned to you in the presence of Publius Cuspius, and also afterwards urged you privately at some length, that whomsoever I might recommend to you as connexions of his, you should regard as among connexions of my own. You, as was to be expected from your extreme regard and uninterrupted attentions to me, undertook to do this for me with the utmost liberality and kindness. Cuspius, who is most careful in his duties towards all connected with him, takes a surprising interest in the well-being of certain persons of your province, because he has been twice in Africa when presiding over the very large concerns of his revenue-company. Accordingly, this patronage of his, which he exercises on their behalf, I am accustomed as far as I can to back up by such means and influence as I possess. Wherefore I thought it necessary to explain to you in this letter why I give letters of introduction to all the friends of Cuspius. In future letters I will merely append the mark[2] agreed upon between you and me, and at the same time indicate that he is one of Cuspius's friends. But the recommendation which I have resolved to subscribe to in this present letter, let me tell you, is more serious than any of them. For P. Cuspius has pressed me with particular earnestness to recommend Lucius Iulius to you as warmly as possible. I appear to be barely able to satisfy his eagerness by using the words which I generally use when most in earnest. He asks for something out of the common way from me, and thinks I have a special knack in that style of writing. I have promised him to produce a masterpiece of commendation—a specimen of my choicest work. Since I cannot reach that standard, however, I would beg you to make him think that some astonishing effect has been produced by the style of my letter. You will secure that, if you treat him with all the liberality which your kindness can suggest and your official power make feasible—I don't mean merely in the way of material assistance, but also in words and even in looks: and what influence such things have in a province I could have wished that you had already learnt by experience, though I have an idea that you soon will do so. This man himself, whom I am recommending to you, I believe to be thoroughly worthy of your friendship, not only because Cuspius says so (though that should be enough), but because I know the keenness of his judgment of men and in the selection of his friends. I shall soon be able to judge what has been the effect of this letter, and shall, I feel certain, have reason to thank you. For myself, I shall with zeal and care see to all that I think to be your wish or to concern your interests. Take care of your health.


  1. Paludatum, lit. dressed in the paludamentum, the military dress in which provincial governors left Rome with imperium.
  2. Notam, some cipher, which he had agreed upon with Valerius to indicate that the commendation was not to be looked upon as a mere matter of course.