Letters to friends/15.6
To M. Porcius Cato at Rome
“Right glad am I to be praised”—says Hector, I think, in Naevius—“by thee, reverend senior, who hast thyself been praised.” For certainly praise is sweet that comes from those who themselves have lived in high repute. For myself, there is nothing I should not consider myself to have attained either by the congratulation contained in your letter, or the testimony borne to me in your senatorial speech: and it was at once the highest compliment and the greatest gratification to me, that you willingly conceded to friendship, what you transparently conceded to truth. And if, I don’t say all, but if many were Catos in our state—in which it is a matter of wonder that there is even one—what triumphal chariot or laurel should I have compared with praise from you? For in regard to my feelings, and in view of the ideal honesty and subtlety of your judgment, nothing can be more complimentary than the speech of yours, which has been copied for me by my friends. But the reason of my wish, for I will not call it desire, I have explained to you in a former letter. And even if it does not appear to you to be entirely sufficient, it at any rate leads to this conclusion—not that the honour is one to excite excessive desire, but yet is one which, if offered by the senate, ought certainly not to be rejected. Now I hope that that House, considering the labours I have undergone on behalf of the state, will not think me undeserving of an honour, especially one that has become a matter of usage. And if this turns out to be so, all I ask of you is that—to use your own most friendly words—since you have paid me what in your judgment is the highest compliment, you will still “be glad” if I have the good fortune to get what I myself have preferred. For I perceive that you have acted, felt, and written in this sense: and the facts themselves shew that the compliment paid me of a supplicatio was agreeable to you, since your name appears on the decree: for decrees of the senate of this nature are, I am aware, usually drawn out by the warmest friends of the man concerned in the honour. I shall, I hope, soon see you, and may it be in a better state of political affairs than my fears forebode!
- Cato had voted against the supplicatio, and Cicero has to tax his skill to appear not to be vexed (as he was), and to assume that Cato's complimentary speech was as good as if he voted for it. He is answering Cato's letter. See Letter CCLXV.