Letters to friends/5.4

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Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Q. Metellus the consul, at Rome[edit]

Dyrrachium, January 57 BC[edit]

A letter from my brother Quintus, and one from my friend Titus Pomponius, had given me so much hope, that I depended on your assistance no less than on that of your colleague. Accordingly, I at once sent you a letter in which, as my present position required, I offered you thanks and asked for the continuance of your assistance. Later on, not so much the letters of my friends, as the conversation of travellers by this route, indicated that your feelings had undergone a change; and that circumstance prevented my venturing to trouble you with letters. Now, however, my brother Quintus has sent me a copy which he had made of your exceedingly kind speech delivered in the senate. Induced by this I have attempted to write to you, and I do ask and beg of you, as far as I may without giving you offence, to preserve your own friends along with me, rather than attack me to satisfy the unreasonable vindictiveness of your connexions. You have, indeed, conquered yourself so far as to lay aside your own enmity for the sake of the Republic: will you be induced to support that of others against the interests of the Republic? But if you will in your clemency now give me assistance, I promise you that I will be at your service henceforth: but if neither magistrates, nor senate, nor people are permitted to aid me, owing to the violence which has proved too strong for me, and for the state as well, take care lest—though you may wish the opportunity back again for retaining all and sundry in their rights-you find yourself unable to do so, because there will be nobody to be retained.[1]


  1. This intentionally enigmatical sentence is meant to contain a menace against Clodius, who is hinted at in the word omnium, just as he is earlier in the letter in the word tuorum. Clodius was a connexion by marriage of Metellus (through his late brother, the husband of Clodia), and Cicero assumes that Metellus is restrained from helping him by regard for Clodius. He knows, however, by this time, that one of the new tribunes, Milo, is prepared to repel force by force, and he hints to Metellus that if he countenances Clodius's violence he may some day find that there is no Clodius to save—if that is his object. In Letter LXXXIX he shews how early he had contemplated Clodius being killed by Milo (occisum iri ab ipso Milone video).