Letters to his brother Quintus/2.9

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To Q. Tullius Cicero in the country[edit]

Rome, February 54 BC[edit]

Your note by its strong language has drawn out this letter. For as to what actually occurred on the day of your start, it supplied me with absolutely no subject for writing. But as when we are together we are never at a loss for something to say, so ought our letters at times to digress into loose chat. Well then, to begin, the liberty of the Tenedians has received short shrift,[1] no one speaking for them except myself, Bibulus, Calidius, and Favonius. A complimentary reference to you was made by the legates from Magnesia ad Sipylum, they saying that you were the man who alone had resisted the demand of L. Sestius Pansa.[2] On the remaining days of this business in the senate, if anything occurs which you ought to know, or even if there is nothing, I will write you something every day. On the 12th I will not fail you or Pomponius. The poems of Lucretius are as you say—with many flashes of genius, yet very technical.[3] But when you return, ... if you succeed in reading the Empedoclea of Sallustius, I shall regard you as a hero, yet scarcely human.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Lit. "has been beheaded with the axe of Tenes," mythical founder and legislator of Tenedos, whose laws were of Draconian severity. A legatio from Tenedos, heard as usual in February, had asked that Tenedos might be made a libera civitas.
  2. Some publicanus who had made a charge on the Magnesians which they considered excessive.
  3. Lucretius seems to have been now dead, according to Donatus 15 October (55 BC), though the date is uncertain. I have translated the reading multi tamen artis, which has been changed by some to multa etiam artis. But the contrast in the criticism seems to be between the fine poetical passages in the de Rerum Natura and the mass of technical exposition of philosophy which must have repelled the "general reader" at all times. It suggests at once to Cicero to mention another poem on a similar subject, the Empedoclea of Sallustius, of which and its writer we know nothing. It was not the historian.