Letters to friends/15.4
To M. Porcius Cato at Rome
Your own immense prestige and my unvarying belief in your consummate virtue have convinced me of the great importance it is to me that you should be acquainted with what I have accomplished, and that you should not be ignorant of the equity and disinterestedness with which I protected our allies and governed my province. For if you knew these facts, I thought I should with greater ease secure your approval of my wishes.
Having entered my province on the last day of July, and seeing that the time of year made it necessary for me to make all haste to the army, I spent but two days at Laodicea, four at Apamea, three at Synnada, and the same at Philomelium. Having held largely attended assizes in these towns, I freed a great number of cities from very vexatious tributes, excessive interest, and fraudulent debt. Again, the army having before my arrival been broken up by something like a mutiny, and five cohorts—without a legate or a military tribune, and, in fact, actually without a single centurion—having taken up its quarters at Philomelium, while the rest of the army was in Lycaonia, I ordered my legate M. Anneius to bring those five cohorts to join the main army; and, having thus got the whole army together into one place, to pitch a camp at Iconium in Lycaonia. This order having been energetically executed by him, I arrived at the camp myself on the 24th of August, having meanwhile, in accordance with the decree of the senate, collected in the intervening days a strong body of reserve men, a very adequate force of cavalry, and a contingent of volunteers from the free peoples and allied sovereigns. While this was going on, and when, after reviewing the army, I had on the 28th of August begun my march to Cilicia, some legates sent to me by the sovereign of Commagene announced, with every sign of panic, yet not without some foundation, that the Parthians had entered Syria. On hearing this I was rendered very anxious both for Syria and my own province, and, in fact, for all the rest of Asia. Accordingly, I made up my mind that I must lead the army through the district of Cappadocia, which adjoins Cilicia. For if I had gone straight down into Cilicia, I could easily indeed have held Cilicia itself, owing to the natural strength of Mount Amanus—for there are only two defiles opening into Cilicia from Syria, both of which are capable of being closed by insignificant garrisons owing to their narrowness, nor can anything be imagined better fortified than is Cilicia on the Syrian side—but I was disturbed for Cappadocia, which is quite open on the Syrian side, and is surrounded by kings, who, even if they are our friends in secret, nevertheless do not venture to be openly hostile to the Parthians. Accordingly, I pitched my camp in the extreme south of Cappadocia at the town of Cybistra, not far from Mount Taurus, with the object at once of covering Cilicia, and of thwarting the designs of the neighbouring tribes by holding Cappadocia. Meanwhile, in the midst of this serious commotion and anxious expectation of a very formidable war, king Deiotarus, who has with good reason been always highly honoured in your judgment and my own, as well as that of the senate—a man distinguished for his goodwill and loyalty to the Roman people, as well as for his eminent courage and wisdom—sent legates to tell me that he was on his way to my camp in full force. Much affected by his zeal and kindness, I sent him a letter of thanks, and urged him to hasten. However, being detained at Cybistra five days while maturing my plan of campaign, I rescued king Ariobarzanes, whose safety had been entrusted to me by the senate on your motion, from a plot that, to his surprise, had been formed against him: and I not only saved his life, but I took pains also to secure that his royal authority should be respected. Metras and Athenaeus (the latter strongly commended to me by yourself), who had been exiled owing to the persistent enmity of queen Athenais, I restored to a position of the highest influence and favour with the king. Then, as there was danger of serious hostilities arising in Cappadocia in case the priest, as it was thought likely that he would do, defended himself with arms—for he was a young man, well furnished with horse and foot and money, and relying on those all who desired political change of any sort—I contrived that he should leave the kingdom: and that the king, without civil war or an appeal to arms, with the full authority of the court thoroughly secured, should hold the kingdom with proper dignity. Meanwhile, I was informed by despatches and messengers from many sides, that the Parthians and Arabs had approached the town of Antioch in great force, and that a large body of their horsemen, which had crossed into Cilicia, had been cut to pieces by some squadrons of my cavalry and the praetorian cohort then on garrison duty at Epiphanea. Wherefore, seeing that the forces of the Parthians had turned their backs upon Cappadocia, and were not far from the frontiers of Cilicia, I led my army to Amanus with the longest forced marches I could. Arrived there, I learnt that the enemy had retired from Antioch, and that Bibulus was at Antioch. I thereupon informed Deiotarus, who was hurrying to join me with a large and strong body of horse and foot, and with all the forces he could muster, that I saw no reason for his leaving his own dominions, and that in case of any new event, I would immediately write and send to him. And as my intention in coming had been to relieve both provinces, should occasion arise, so now I proceeded to do what I had all along made up my mind was greatly to the interest of both provinces, namely, to reduce Amanus, and to remove from that mountain an eternal enemy. So I made a feint of retiring from the mountain and making for other parts of Cilicia: and having gone a day's march from Amanus and pitched a camp, on the 12th of October, towards evening, at Epiphanea, with my army in light marching order I effected such a night march, that by dawn on the 13th I was already ascending Amanus. Having formed the cohorts and auxiliaries into several columns of attack—I and my legate Quintus (my brother) commanding one, my legate C. Pomptinus another, and my legates M. Anneius and L. Tullius the rest—we surprised most of the inhabitants, who, being cut off from all retreat, were killed or taken prisoners. But Erana, which was more like a town than a village, and was the capital of Amanus, as also Sepyra and Commoris, which offered a determined and protracted resistance from before daybreak till four in the afternoon—Pomptinus being in command in that part of Amanus—we took, after killing a great number of the enemy, and stormed and set fire to several fortresses. After these operations we lay encamped for four days on the spurs of Amanus, near the Arae Alexandri, and all that time we devoted to the destruction of the remaining inhabitants of Amanus, and devastating their lands on that side of the mountain which belongs to my province. Having accomplished this, I led the army away to Pindenissus, a town of the Eleutherocilices. And since this town was situated on a very lofty and strongly fortified spot, and was inhabited by men who have never submitted even to the kings, and since they were offering harbourage to deserters, and were eagerly expecting the arrival of the Parthians, I thought it of importance to the prestige of the empire to suppress their audacity, in order that there might be less difficulty in breaking the spirits of all such as were anywhere disaffected to our rule. I encircled them with a stockade and trench: I beleaguered them with six forts and huge camps: I assaulted them by the aid of earthworks, pent-houses, and towers: and having employed numerous catapults and bowmen, with great personal labour, and without troubling the allies or costing them anything, I reduced them to such extremities that, after every region of their town had been battered down or fired, they surrendered to me on the fifty-seventh day. Their next neighbours were the people of Tebara, no less predatory and audacious: from them after the capture of Pindenissus I received hostages. I then dismissed the army to winter quarters; and I put my brother in command, with orders to station the men in villages that had either been captured or were disaffected.
Well now, I would have you feel convinced that, should a motion be brought before the senate on these matters, I shall consider that the highest possible compliment has been paid me, if you give your vote in favour of a mark of honour being bestowed upon me. And as to this, though I am aware that in such matters men of the most respectable character are accustomed to ask and to be asked, yet I think in your case that it is rather a reminder than a request which is called for from me. For it is you who have on very many occasions complimented me in votes which you delivered, who have praised me to the skies in conversation, in panegyric, in the most laudatory speeches in senate and public meeting: you are the man to whose words I ever attached such weight as to hold myself in possession of my utmost ambition, if your lips joined the chorus of my praise. It was you finally, as I recollect, who said, when voting against a supplicatio in honour of a certain illustrious and noble person, that you would have voted for it, if the motion had related to what he had done in the city as consul. It was you, too, who voted for granting me a supplicatio, though only a civilian, not as had been done in many instances, "for good services to the state," but, as I remember, "for having saved the state." I pass over your having shared the hatred I excited, the dangers I ran, all the storms that I have encountered, and your having been entirely ready to have shared them much more fully if I had allowed it; and finally your having regarded my enemy as your own; of whose death even—thus shewing me clearly how much you valued me—you manifested your approval by supporting the cause of Milo in the senate. On the other hand, I have borne a testimony to you, which I do not regard as constituting any claim on your gratitude, but as a frank expression of genuine opinion: for I did not confine myself to a silent admiration of your eminent virtues—who does not admire them? But in all forms of speech, whether in the senate or at the bar; in all kinds of writing, Greek or Latin; in fine, in all the various branches of my literary activity, I proclaimed your superiority not only to contemporaries, but also to those of whom we have heard in history.
You will ask, perhaps, why I place such value on this or that modicum of congratulation or compliment from the senate. I will be frank with you, as our common tastes and mutual good services, our close friendship, nay, the intimacy of our fathers demand. If there ever was anyone by natural inclination, and still more, I think, by reason and reflexion, averse from the empty praise and comments of the vulgar, I am certainly the man. Witness my consulship, in which, as in the rest of my life, I confess that I eagerly pursued the objects capable of producing true glory: mere glory for its own sake I never thought a subject for ambition. Accordingly, I not only passed over a province after the votes for its outfit had been taken, but also with it an almost certain hope of a triumph and finally the priesthood, though, as I think you will agree with me, I could have obtained it without much difficulty, I did not try to get. Yet after my unjust disgrace—always stigmatized by you as a disaster to the Republic, and rather an honour than a disaster to myself—I was anxious that some very signal marks of the approbation of the senate and Roman people should be put on record. Accordingly, in the first place, I did subsequently wish for the augurship, about which I had not troubled myself before; and the compliment usually paid by the senate in the case of success in war, though passed over by me in old times, I now think an object to be desired. That you should approve and support this wish of mine, in which you may trace a strong desire to heal the wounds inflicted upon me by my disgrace, though I a little while ago declared that I would not ask it, I now do earnestly ask of you: but only on condition that you shall not think my humble services paltry and insignificant, but of such a nature and importance, that many for far less signal successes have obtained the highest honours from the senate. I have, too, I think, noticed this—for you know how attentively I ever listen to you—that in granting or withholding honours you are accustomed to look not so much to the particular achievements as to the character, the principles and conduct of commanders. Well, if you apply this test to my case, you will find that, with a weak army, my strongest support against the threat of a very formidable war has been my equity and purity of conduct. With these as my aids I accomplished what I never could have accomplished by any amount of legions: among the allies I have created the warmest devotion in place of the most extreme alienation; the most complete loyalty in place of the most dangerous disaffection; and their spirits fluttered by the prospect of change I have brought back to feelings of affection for the old rule.
But I have said too much of myself, especially to you, in whom singly the grievances of all our allies alike find a listener. You will learn the truth from those who think themselves restored to life by my administration. And while all with nearly one consent will praise me in your hearing as I most desire to be praised, so will your two chief client states--the island of Cyprus and the kingdom of Cappadocia—have something to say to you about me also. So, too, I think, will Deiotarus, who is attached to you with special warmth. Now, if these things are above the common run, and if in all ages it has been rarer to find men capable of conquering their own desires than capable of conquering an enemy's army, it is quite in harmony with your principles, when you find these rarer and more difficult virtues combined with success in war, to regard that success itself as more complete and glorious.
I have only one last resource—philosophy: and to make her plead for me, as though I doubted the efficacy of a mere request: philosophy, the best friend I have ever had in all my life, the greatest gift which has been bestowed by the gods upon mankind. Yes! this common sympathy in tastes and studies—our inseparable devotion and attachment to which from boyhood have caused us to become almost unique examples of men bringing that true and ancient philosophy (which some regard as only the employment of leisure and idleness) down to the forum, the council chamber, and the very camp itself—pleads the cause of my glory with you: and I do not think a Cato can, with a good conscience, say her nay. Wherefore I would have you convince yourself that, if my despatch is made the ground of paying me this compliment with your concurrence, I shall consider that the dearest wish of my heart has been fulfilled owing at once to your influence and to your friendship.
- These times do not exactly agree with those given in Letters CCVII and CCXXVII, but the differences are unimportant and might easily be accounted for by lapse of memory.
- Seditione quadam. He qualifies seditione, as he doesn't wish to say that there was a downright mutiny; quadam might be translated "so to speak." He had heard of these difficulties in the army, but hoped that they had been put right by Appius Claudius.
- The priest of the temple of Bellona at Comana, who had command over a large body of slaves of the temple and its dependencies. It was a position of quasi-royal power. Pompey had confirmed or restored a certain Archelaus in this position.
- I venture to read et fretus iis, for Tyrrell's ego tuto iis, "with safety to those," which is a very doubtful construction.
- Some columns put up near the field of the battle of Issus by Alexander, or to mark the line of his march.
- That is, movable towers pushed up on rollers to the wall.
- What Cicero wants is a supplicatio of as many days as the senate will grant, i.e., days of solemn thanksgiving such as had been voted in honour of Caesar's Gallic victories and on many other occasions.
- Probably P. Cornelius Lentulus Spinther, consul B.C. 57, who did much to secure Cicero's recall. He asked in vain for a supplicatio, or perhaps even a triumph, for his achievements in Cilicia B.C. 56–54. See Letter CXXV.
- Togato. The consul in Rome, though he had imperium, was a civilian, and wore the toga, not the paludamentum. The difference has been expressed by distinguishing the imperium domi and imperium militiae, which latter he had if he commanded an army, and which a proconsul had when in a province. Thus, in his poem on his own times, Cicero had a line which he was fond of quoting: Cedant arma togae, concedat laurea laudi.
- See vol. i., p. 64, and 2 Phil. 2. In 2 Phil. 13, he says the motion for a supplicatio after the execution of the conspirators in December, B.C. 63, was made by L. Aurelius Cotta and passed unanimously.
- The province of Gallia Cisalpina, to which Metellus Celer went in his place and won some victories over the Salassi. See vol. i., pp. 21, 62.
- A vacancy was made in the college of augurs in B.C. 59 by the death of Metellus Celer, which Cicero would have liked to fill (see vol. i., P.90). But he was not nominated as one of the two candidates, as was necessary. He filled the vacancy caused by the death of P. Crassus B.C. 53.
- Cato, to get him out of Rome, had been sent in B.C. 58 on the motion of Clodius to take over Cyprus; he therefore (as usual) became its patron. It is not known why he was specially connected with Cappadocia and Deiotarus, but client kings generally selected some prominent Roman to represent their interests. It has been suggested that Ariobarzanes' indebtedness to Cato's nephew Brutus had something to do with it. But we cannot be sure. Brutus, it may be observed, was also a friend of Deiotarus, and defended him before Caesar in B.C. 47, when charged with attempting to poison Caesar.
- Cicero applies to himself and Cato what he elsewhere repeated from Greek sources of Socrates—that he "brought down philosophy from the sky to the earth and to common life" (Acad. 1.15; Tusc. 5.10). His appeal to their common love of philosophy should be compared with his chaff of Cato's impracticable Stoicism twelve years before in the pro Mur. § 61 seq., which Cato must have well remembered. The contemptuous view of philosophy taken by many serious persons at Rome, and Cicero's early passion for it, are commented upon at greater length in the de Off 2.2.
- Ex literis meis, i.e., Cicero's public despatch to magistrates and senate. Ex literis was the regular phrase on these occasions. See Caes. B. G. 2.35; 4.38.