This momentous year opened apparently without any special signs of danger.
Introduction to‘letters to his friends’ for the year 44 B.C.
translated by Evelyn S Shuckburgh.
These letters are in the public domain.
First period of letters: From 15th of March to 31st of August
The letters in this volume bring us to the end of the correspondence and to the last period of
's life. They naturally fall into two
divisions, those following the assassination of Caesar to September, B.C.44 - five
months of hesitation and doubt - and those which begin after Cicero's return to
Rome from his abortive start for Greece (31st August), and bring him before us
once more active and eager, all doubt and hesitation thrown to the winds. He is
straining every nerve to organize opposition to Antony, whom he has now made up
his mind to be the enemy of the constitution and of liberty - a weaker and a
worse Caesar, trading on his great patron's name, intoxicated with the wealth
that has fallen into his hands, and stained with every private and public vice.
The first period is one of disenchantment, the second of desperate strife. The disenchantment indeed begins at once: The volume opens with a note, scarcely more than a line in length, addressed to one of the assassins, of almost hysterical exultation.
had been in the senate when the
assassination took place:1 he tells us of
the "joy with which he feasted his eyes on the just execution of a
tyrant."2 He and again declares that the Ides of March consoled him for all his
troubles and disappointments. The assassins he calls "heroes" or
almost divinities. But the uselessness of this treacherous crime was at once
made evident, and became more and more conspicuous every day that followed it.
Within a month Cicero
saw that "the constitution had not been recovered along with
liberty," and was discussing with Atticus whose fault it was. At the
meeting of the senate, summoned by Cicero
on the 17th of March, the acta’s of Caesar had been confirmed, and a public funeral
voted. The revulsion of popular feeling, caused by Antony's funeral oration and
the publication of Caesar's will, had encouraged Antony to make the fullest use
of the confirmation of the acta, until Cicero indignantly exclaimed that the
concession made to the exigencies of the time was "being abused without
moderation or gratitude," that "measures which Caesar would never
have taken nor sanctioned are now produced from his forged minutes," and
that "we, who could not endure being his slaves, are the humble servants
of his memorandum books." 3 Antony
The difficult position of the assassins.
Added to this was the increasing difficulty of the position of the leaders in the assassination. Decimus Brutus indeed, in spite of
Antony's protest, went to
his province of Gallia
Cisalpina and took over the command of the troops there; while
Trebonius started for his province of Asia,
having a secret understanding with the Ciceronian party that he was to concert
measures and collect forces in view of future contingencies. But M. Brutus and
C. Cassius, though praetors, could not venture to Rome, and Antony was
eventually able to force the senate to name others to the provinces of
Macedonia and Syria, to which they had been respectively nominated by Caesar:
while Trebonius could only leave Italy for his province by travelling almost in
disguise by by-roads to the coast. Every day that passed seemed to shew that
they would have to fight for their position or even their lives. Antony was gathering a considerable force in , under the pretence
of a bodyguard, and against an alleged intention of Brutus and Cassius to
resort to force. This bodyguard was partly at least formed by inducing Caesar's
veterans to rejoin, and was continually increasing. Even those veterans who did
not actually rejoin the colours were persuaded to hold themselves in readiness
for a summons, with their proper arms provided, and at any rate to be prepared
to come to Rome Rome to vote in favour of 's proposals.
Besides this Antony Antony extorted from the senate
early in June, if not before, the command of the legions which had been
stationed in the province of Macedonia with a view to the Getic and Parthian
expeditions, and presently sent over his brother Gaius to bring them to . Brutus
and Cassius on their part were collecting ships and men, resolved to possess
themselves of the provinces originally assigned to them (Macedonia and Syria)
at the end of their praetorship; Decimus Brutus by engaging his forces against
the Alpine tribes was training troops which he might use against any
"intending successor," and all things pointed to a coming struggle.
"In my opinion," says Italy
on the 15th of June, "the state of affairs points to bloodshed and that at
an early date. You see what the men are, you see how they are arming." Cicero
Arrival of Octavian.
Matters had been farther complicated by the appearance of the young Octavian on the scene. He had been sent by his uncle for the winter to Apollonia, where he might with less interruption than at
pursue his studies and perfect his military education. But immediately he
received from his mother the news of the Dictator's assassination, he started
with a small retinue of friends for Rome . On the 11th of April Italy writes that he has
heard of his arrival and is anxious to know how he has been received. On the
18th he came to Naples, saw Balbus, and declared his acceptance of his
great-uncle's inheritance, which was sure to cause, Balbus thinks, much bad
blood between him and Antony, who had laid hands on much which Octavian would
claim, on the ground that it was public money. In a letter of the 22nd Cicero decribes a meeting
with him at the villa of his stepfather Philippus near Puteoli. He watched to
see how he was addressed by his friends. They all called him Caesar, in virtue
of his adoption in the will of his great-uncle. But Philippus - who wished him
to refuse the inheritance - did not do so. Cicero Cicero
therefore also refrained, but anxiously observed his disposition towards the
party of .
The young man appears to have been characteristically cautious, speaking of the
existing state of things indeed as "intolerable," but not suggesting
his views as to their remedy or committing himself to anything. Antony was doubtful. He
mistrusted the friends surrounding him, who would make it "impossible for
him to be a good citizen," and he felt indignant at his being able to go
safely to the city from which Brutus and Cassius and the other
"heroes" were excluded. Still he could not but acknowledge that
Octavian treated him personally with respect, and he presently began to cherish
a hope that he might use his grievances against Cicero to draw him into closer union with the
party of the Optimates. But this hope was a good deal dashed early in May by the
report of a speech delivered in Antony
by Octavian, in which he spoke in glowing terms of his great-uncle, declared
his intention of paying the legacies to the citizens, and celebrating the games
which he had promised. However, Rome
did not give up hope of him, and his final verdict at this period is distinctly
rather favourable: “In Octavianus, as I have perceived, there is no little
ability and spirit, and he seems likely to be as well disposed to our heroes as
I could wish. But what confidence one can feel in a man of his age, name,
inheritance, and upbringing may well give us pause. His stepfather, whom I have
seen at Astura, thinks none at all. However, we must foster him, and, if
nothing else, keep him apart from Cicero .
Marcellus will be doing admirable service if he gives him good advice. Octavian
seemed to me to be devoted to him: but he has no great confidence in Pansa and
Hirtius. His disposition is good if it does but last.” Antony
It will be observed that
now speaks of the young man as Octavianus,
thus acknowledging his adoption. He also seems now or soon after to have begun
a correspondence with him, unfortunately lost, which later on became almost
more continuous than he quite relished. For the present he was only one of the
agents whom he hoped to use against Cicero .
Like so many of his hopes, this too was doomed to disappointment. Octavian was
determined to maintain his rights against Antony, but in his heart was no
thought of permanent friendship with the clique which had murdered his uncle
and adoptive father, and was anxious above all things to retain the direction
of the state and the wealth of the provinces in its hands. Antony
Pansa and Hirtius.
Another cause of anxiety which
had in this first
half of the year was the uncertainty of the line likely to be taken by Pansa
and Hirtius, who were consuls-designate and would come into office on the 1st
of January, B.C. 43. Of Hirtius especially, who had been Caesar's intimate
friend and trusted officer, he was more than doubtful. It was true that he had
been on good social terms with Cicero ,
had taken lessons in rhetoric from him, and in return had initiated him in the
art of dining. But at the end of a visit of Hirtius at his villa at Puteoli, Cicero writes to Atticus
(17th May): “When Hirtius was leaving my house at Puteoll on the 16th of May, I
had a clear view of his whole mind. For I took him aside and exhorted him
earnestly to preserve the peace. He could not of course say that he did not
wish for peace: but he indicated that he was no less afraid of our side
appealing to arms than of Antony doing so: and that, after all, both sides had
reason to be on their guard, but that he feared the arms of both. I needn't go
on: there is nothing sound about him.” This mistrust of Hirtius was not much
relieved by a letter which he wrote to Cicero
a few days later, begging him to warn Brutus and Cassius to keep quiet. Pansa,
though using more satisfactory language, did not appear to Cicero to be much more trustworthy. A severe
illness put Hirtius aside for some time from active intervention in politics,
but the future tenure of the consulship by these two men did not in the first
half of the year inspire Cicero
with much hope. Still, it was not likely to be as bad as the policy of Antony;
and when the meeting of the senate of the 1st of June, so far from producing a
compromise which would satisfy Brutus and Cassius, actually irritated them
farther by offering them for the rest of the year the inferior office of
curatores annonae, and changing their praetorian provinces for the next year,
Cicero could only look forward to the 1st of January as the time when it might
be proper for him once more to attend the senate and take part in politics.
Meanwhile he was meditating a tour to Athens, both for the sake of withdrawing
himself from possible collisions with Antony, and in order to visit his son,
whose first year as a student there had given Cicero much anxiety, but who was
now shewing signs of iniprovement, and might be confirmed in better ways by the
personal influence of an indulgent father. Cicero
But, as usual with
, this step caused him much searching
of heart and many weeks of hesitation and irresolution. As usual also, all his
doubts and difficulties are imparted to Atticus, whose advice is constantly
asked, and somewhat querulously criticised when given. Cicero Cicero
was torn different ways by the refiexion that a departure from at this
time might be regarded as a desertion of his party and his country: that in his
absence some blow might be struck for liberty, the credit of which he should be
sorry not to share. On the other hand, as long as Italy was consul things would most likely
remain as they were, and he would be personally safer out of the country, and
would be doing his duty in visiting his son. But he was a wretched sailor, the
long voyage was odious to him, and especially one that would have to be taken
late in the year, if he was to be back in Antony
before the beginning of the new consulate. Again, he would have liked to sail
with Brutus; but Brutus was delaying indefinitely, and besides, did not receive
the suggestion very warmly. After one abortive start (1st August), on which he
got as far as Rome ,
he again set sail from Leucopetra on the 6th of August. But the south wind was
too strong and the ship put back to Rhegium.4 There
in a friend's villa for the night and heard next day what he thought was good
news. There was to be a full meeting of the senate on the 1st of September, for
Brutus and Cassius - still in Italy - had issued an edict urging the attendance
of their partisans, and it was believed that they had come to some
understanding with Antony, whereby they would be able to resume their position
at Rome and take up their provinces at the end of their year's praetorship. The
men who gave Cicero
his intelligence also told him that he was wanted, and that his absence was
being unfavourably criticised.5 Cicero
This was precisely what
wished to hear, and we may be sure
that he did not make very curious inquiries as to the authenticity of the
report, or the means of knowing the truth possessed by his informants. He
regarded himself as "recalled by the voice of the Republic," and
blessed the south winds for having saved him from deserting his country in its
need. He visited Brutus at Velia on his way to Cicero , and no doubt heard from him what
somewhat cooled his ardour. He determined, however, to continue his return to Rome , though with no
definite intention of taking as yet any leading part in politics, or indeed of
attending the senate at all. But the state of affairs which he found existing
at Tusculum on his
arrival on the 31st of August soon dispelled any ideas of repose, and drew him
into the final storm and stress of political contest, from which he was not
free when the correspondence ceases, and which brought him finally to the
The final breach with
Sept., B.C. 44. Antony
The meeting of the senate on the 1st of September, for the sake of which
professed to have come to ,
was not attended by him. Among the agenda at that meeting he found that there
was included a motion of Rome 's
for a supplicatio in honour of Caesar's memory. To this, of ourse, Antony Cicero objected on political grounds; but he also advanced
the technical objection that it was mixing up funeral rites with divine worship
(parentalia with supplicationes), and he was at any rate determined not to vote
for it, and did not wish to exasperate
by voting against it.6 There was to be
also some farther confirmation of Caesar's acta, which would be equally
objectionable in Antony Cicero's eyes,because it meant
the production of more of Caesar's memoranda and notes, which he believed to be
falsified or altogether invented by
himself. He therefore abstained from attending the senate, but did not thereby
avoid exasperating Antony .
His arrival in Rome was of course known to Antony, who regarded his excuse of
fatigue after his journey as a mere pretext (which it was), and threatened
openly in the senate not only to use his consular power of compelling his
attendance, but to send a gang of workmen to demolish his house. Antony
The first Philippic, 2nd Sept., B.C. 44.
On the 2nd of September therefore
attended and made
a statement of his position and views, which has come down to us as the first
Philippic. It is a dignified and comparatively gentle statement of his case
against Cicero .
But it puts clearly his belief as to the abuse by him of the confirmation of
Caesar's acta, passed by the senate on the 17th of March. It recalls Antony Antony's own measures of which approved - especially the abolition of
the dictatorship and the suppression of the riots round the memorial column - and
appeals to him to keep within the lines of the constitution, and to trust to
the affection rather than the fears of his fellow citizens. There is an absence
of personal invective and insult, which shews that Cicero Cicero
was not yet prepared to throw away the scabbard in his contest with , though he had
long seen that his existence made the murder of Caesar vain and useless. The
tyrant was dead, not the tyranny; the assassins had acted with the courage of
heroes, but the folly of children, and left the heir to the tyranny alive.
Yet he remained on tolerably courteous terms with Antony , and even requested a legatio from
him. But that was to be over for ever. Antony
It made all reconciliation, however formal or official, for ever impossible. From that time forward the letters shew us Cicero in determined and unhesitating opposition to
. For some weeks still he is doubtful
as to what practical steps he is to take, but he has no more hesitation as to
what his political object is to be: it is to crush Antony by any and every means within his
power. The letters henceforth are more and more exclusively political. Though
references to private affairs and to literary questions, connected with the de
Officiis, still occur in the letters to Atticus, even they are almost
monopolized by the one absorbing subject. He still expresses gratitude to
philosophy, "which not only diverts me from anxious thoughts, but also
arms me against all assaults of fortune" - but literature and philosophy
in the old sense are over for him: and when for a nioment he touches on lighter
subjects to Paetus, he hastens to excuse himself: "Don't suppose because I
write jestingly I have cast off all care for the state. Be assured, my dear
Paetus, that I work for nothing, care for nothing all day and night except the
safety and freedom of my fellow citizens." Antony
The legions from
The final step on
part which made war inevitable in 's
view was connected with the six Macedonian legions. He had - as I have said - earlier
in the year obtained from the senate the command of these legions on the plea
that the Getae were threatening Cicero .
One of them he gave over to his colleague Dolabella, one was to be left to
guard Macedonia ,
which he intended should be governed by his brother Gaius at the end of his
praetorship. The other four he regarded as being at his own disposal for his
provincial governorship, to begin in January, B.C. 43. This he now resolved
should be Macedonia Cisalpine Gaul. The senate refused
to assign him this province, but he got it by a lex carried in spite of the
senate; and Gaius was sent to bring over the legions. On the 9th of October he
started to meet them at Brundisium. There he found them in a mutinous state,
and had recourse to great severity in order to reduce them to obedience. Two of
them, the Martia and the fourth legion, were ordered to march up the coast road
to Ariminum in readiness to enter Gallia Cisalpina with him; the rest he led
himself towards Rome, and encamped at Tibur.
In answer to this measure Octavian, now in constant communication with
on his own authority, and at his own cost, raising troops among the veterans in
was very successful, "and no wonder," says Campania , "for he gives a bounty of 500
denarii apiece." Cicero ,
then at Puteoli, was at first in grave doubts as to the effects of this step.
He did not feel sure of Octavian's real aims, he mistrusted his youth and his
name; and yet was inclined to accept his aid, and help him to get senatorial
sanction: and soon afterwards - having finished his de Officiis - he
began a leisurely journey to Arpinum, and thence to Tusculum. He agrees with
the suggestion of Atticus that, "if Octavian gets much power, the acta of
Caesar will be confirmed more decisively than they were in the Cicero temple of Tellus,"
but yet he sees that "if he is beaten, Antony
becomes intolerable." 7 But events
were soon to leave
no choice. The fourth legion and the Martia, instead of going as ordered to
Ariminum, turned off to Alba Fucentia and closed its gates. Antony, who had
meanwhile arrived at Rome and summoned a meeting of the senate for the 23rd of
November, heard of this and hurried off to Alba Fucentia to recover the loyalty
of the legions, but was repelled from the walls of the town by a shower of
stones. He therefore returned to Cicero Rome, hurriedly
held the postponed meeting of the senate, at which a sortitio was accomplished assigning Macedonia
to Gains Antonius, and then joined his own camp at Tibur.
The Martia and the fourth legion presently declared their adhesion to Octavian,
who, thus reinforced, marched at Antony's heels northwards in the direction of
The third and fourth Philippics, 20th Dec., B.C. 44.
But the immediate point at which war seemed certain was Gallia Cisalpina. There Decimus Brutus had been governor since April, and it remained to be seen whether he would acknowledge the validity of the law which named
as his successor. This question was set at rest by the publication of his edict
in Antony on the
19th of December, in which he forbade anyone with imperium to enter his
province. But by this time Rome
was on the point of investing him in Mutina, and Octavian on his way to relieve
him. Such was the state of things when the tribunes summoned a meeting of the
senate on the 20th, at which the state of the Republic was referred to the
senators by Casca. A motion was proposed and carried by Cicero, giving the
consuls-elect authority to protect the senate at its meeting on the 1st of
January, and ordering all holders of provinces to continue in office until
successors were appointed by the senate; approving of the edict of Decimus
Brutus; and formally commending the actions of Octavian and of the fourth
legion and the Martia. Antony 's
speech is that now called the third Philippic and the decree of the
senate was explained to the people in a contio now called the fourth Philippic.
From the 1st of January, B.C. 43.
The reader of the letters, taken in combination with the remaining Philippics, will now be able to follow the course of events almost step by step: the futile negotiations with Antony, the authority and rank bestowed on Octavian, the defeat of Antony at Mutina, and his masterly retreat across the Maritime Alps to Vada, the vain pursuit of him by Decimus Brutus, his reinforcement by Ventidius Bassus, and the treason of Lepidus, who after a few weeks' hesitation united his forces with him. There, too, he will see foreshadowed, though not completed, the similar treason of Plancus and of Pollio, the coming destruction of Decimus Brutus, and the unfolding of Octavian's real policy in regard to the Optimates. In the East he will find M. Brutus master of
with Gaius Antonius a prisoner in his camp: Trebonius put to death in his
province of Asia by Dolabella, and Dolabella
being slowly but surely brought to bay by Cassius. The defeat of Antony at Forum Gallorum and Mutina (April 13th and 15th)
was the prelude to a series of bitter disappointments to . When the report reached Cicero Rome he and his party confidently believed that the war
was over, that
was entirely crushed, that the old liberty was restored. This exultation was
very little damped by the subsequent intelligence that both consuls had fallen.
Decent expressions of regret and complimentary votes in their honour seemed all
that was necessary. But despatch after despatch from Decimus Brutus revealed
the fact of how little had been accomplished, and how strong Antony still was. Antony Cicero,
whose energy was still unabated, turned with frantic eagerness to the task of
inducing Lepidus and Plancus to remain loyal to the senate; and, as a last
hope, to persuade Brutus and Cassius that it was their duty to return to Italy with their victorious armies and protect Rome from .
The correspondence leaves Antony Cicero still hopeful
and eager, before Plancus had declared for , or Decimus Brutus had been finally
ruined; and before it had become evident that Octavian meant to turn upon the
senate, under whose authority he had been acting. Antony
The last days of
But within a month from the date at which the correspondence stops
knew that his last chance was gone. The inaction of Octavian after the victory
of Forum Gallorum puzzled Decimus Brutus, Plancus, and Cicero almost equally.
He declined to hand over any legions to Decimus Brutus, or to join him in the
pursuit of Cicero ;
but he did not commit any act of positive hostility against him. There were,
however, sinister rumours. An epigram of Antony 's,
to the effect that the young man was to be "complimented, promoted, and - got
rid of;" was said to have been retailed to Octavian, and he had replied
that he had no intention of being got rid of. Other reports asserted that
Pansa's wound had been poisoned by his physician at Octavian's suggestion.
Others, again, that he was negotiating with Cicero , with a view to holding the consulship
as his colleague. All that was certainly known was that he was keeping his
whole force in hand, and shewed no sign of intending to lay down his command.
Successive decrees of the senate had invested him with imperium, the
praetorian, and then the consular rank, and had given him the privilege of
standing for the consulship long before the legal age. But after the victory at
Forum Gallorum the tone of the senate towards him altered. His name was
ostentatiously omitted in the complimentary vote of thanks to the army, and
when presently some of his officers appeared in the senate with a formal demand
to be allowed to stand for the consulship at once, the demand was rejected. The
senate trusted for protection to two legions which were being sent from Africa
by Cornificius; but Octavian at once started for Cicero in person at the head of his army. There
were no troops between him and Rome Rome, or in itself; to withstand
him. The legions from Rome Africa arrived indeed
about the same time as he did, but their officers almost immediately
surrendered them to him. Cornutus, the praetor urbanus, committed suicide in
despair, and the senate and city were alike at his disposal. Cicero,
among the rest, had to make a somewhat pitiful submission, and after one
attempt to organize an opposition, on a false report that the Martia and fourth
legion had deserted Octavian, he retired to and disappeared from public life. Tusculum
The only question for him and his brother now was whether they would be allowed to live unmolested in a private station. Octavian soon made it evident that he meant relentlessly to punish his uncle's murderers. He was elected consul on the 19th of August with his cousin Q. Pedius. By his direction Pedius brought in a law condemning all the assassins of Caesar, and the tribune Casca was the first victim under it. The law did not touch
personally, but events quickly followed that made his death certain. What
Octavian had now to deal with was the force collected in Cicero Gaul.
By this time
had been joined not only by Lepidus, but by Plancus from Celtic Gaul, and by
Pollio from Baetica. He had therefore a formidable force. Decimus Brutus was
now a condemned man, and was besides entirely powerless; for when Plancus
nearly all the troops of Decimus Brutus did the same. He was almost alone, and
was making desperate efforts to find his way to Marcus Brutus in Antony . So
that when Octavian, leaving the care of the city to Pedius, started once more
for the north, though his object was nominally to crush Decimus Brutus, he had
nothing to do but to prevent his reaching Ravenna, and force him back to Gaul,
where he was arrested and put to death by Antony's order. The real question for
Octavian was how to deal with Macedonia .
He had resolved on coming to terms with him, and after a certain amount of
negotiation, he met him and Lepidus on a small island in one of the tributaries
of the P0, not far from Bononia, and agreed to share the Empire as
"triumvirs for the reconstitution of the state." They were to be
appointed for five years, and as a preliminary were to draw up a list mutually
agreed upon of men who were to be declared outside the law, and liable to be
put to death at once. The obedient
people of Antony
accordingly voted the appointment on the 27th of November, and the first
exercise of their dictatorial powers was the publication of an edict and a
provisional list of men to be thus "proscribed." The first list had
been forwarded to Pedius before the actual publication of the edict,8 and Cicero, who was at Rome , soon learnt that
his own name, and those of his brother and nephew, were on it. The last scene
shall be told in the words of Plutarch. Tusculum
"While the conference between the triumvirs was going on
Cicero was in his
with his brother. When they heard of the proscription they resolved to remove
to his seaside villa at Astura, and thence to take ship and join Brutus in Tusculum : for
there were great reports of his success there. They travelled in litters
overpowered by distress; and whenever there was a halt in the journey, the two
litters were placed side by side and the brothers mingled their lamentations.
Quintus was the more cast down of the two and was haunted with the idea of
their want of money, for he had brought nothing, he said, with him, and Cicero
himself was poorly provided for a journey. It would be better, therefore, he
thought, for Macedonia
to precede him in his flight, while he went home, collected what was necessary,
and hurried after him. This course was resolved up on, and the brothers parted
with embraces and tears. Not many days after this Quintus was betrayed by his
slaves and was put to death with his son. But Cicero reached Astura, found a vessel,
embarked, and sailed with a favourable wind as far as Circeii. The pilots
wished to put out to sea from that place at once: but whether it was that he
feared the sea or had not yet given up all trust in the promise of Octavian, he
disembarked and travelled a hundred furlongs upon the road to Cicero . But once more, almost beside himself
with distress and indecision, he returned to the sea-coast at Astura and there
spent the night in terrified and hopeless reflexions. One of his ideas was to
go to Octavian's house in disguise and kill himself at the hearth - altar and
thus bring a curse upon it. But from undertaking this journey also he was
deterred by a dread of being put to torture; and with his mind still dazed with
confused and contradictory designs, he put himself in the hands of his servants
to be conveyed by sea to Caieta, as he had property there and an agreeable
summer retreat, when the Etesian winds are at their pleasantest. In this spot
there stands a temple of Apollo just above the sea: from it a flock of ravens
rose and flew towards Cicero's ship as it was being rowed to land, and settling
down upon the yard-arm on both sides of the mast, some of them began uttering
loud cries and others pecking at the ends of the ropes. Everybody thought this
a bad omen. Rome ,
however, disembarked and went to the lodge and lay down to get some rest. But
most of the ravens lighted down about the window uttering cries of distress,
and one of them settling on the bed, where Cicero was lying with his head covered,
gradually drew off the covering from his face with its beak. The servants,
seeing this, thought that they would be base indeed if they endured to be
spectators of their master's murder, and did nothing to protect him, while even
animals were helping him and sympathizing in his undeserved misfortune, and so,
partly by entreaties and partly by compulsion, they got him again into his
litter and began carrying him down to the sea. Cicero
"Meanwhile the executioners arrived, Herennius the centurion and Popillus the military tribune (whom he once defended on a charge of parricide) with their attendants. Finding the doors locked, they broke into the house; but when Cicero was not to be seen, and those indoors denied knowing anything about him, it is said that a young man named Philologus - a freedman of Quintus, whom Cicero had educated in polite learning and philosophy - told the tribune about the litter which was being carried through woodland and over-shadowed paths towards the sea. So the tribune, taking a small party with him, ran round to the entrance to the grounds, while Herennius ran down the pathway.
perceived him coming and ordered his servants to set down the litter. Cicero
himself, with his left hand as usual on his chin, sat gazing steadfastly on the
executioners, unwashed, with streaming locks, his brow contracted with his
anxieties. It was more than those present could endure, and they covered their
faces while Herennius was killing him, as he thrust out his head from the
litter and received the stroke. He was in his sixty-fourth year. By the command
of Cicero the
man cut off his head and the hands with which he had written the
Philippics!" 9 Antony
The character and aims of
will have been
abundantly illustrated for the reader of these letters. That controversies
should rage round his memory is only what must always be the case with a man
who takes an active share in political life. Enmities and their expression in
invective are more interesting to many than praise, and therefore more lasting.
It is an easy task, moreover, to find faults in a character so impulsive, so
many-sided, and so complex as that of Cicero .
But the one view which I think inadmissible is the Mommsenian one of sheer
contempt. Perhaps Cicero
was not so important a figure in Roman politics as he thought himself: that he
was of no importance is disproved both by the warmth of his friends and the
rancour of his enemies. If he lacked originality as a writer or philosopher,
neither did he pretend to any. He wished to interpret the Greek philosophers to
his countrymen: he did it imperfectly, but he did it as no one else could or
did. The magic of style has found its way to the intelligence and taste of
mankind, as many a more learned and accurate man would have failed and has
failed to do. He composed speeches which are often unfair, overstrained, and
disingenuous, but they remain among the first in the world. He wrote letters
incessantly: they are sometimes insincere, sometimes weak and tiresome, but
taken as a whole they are scarcely surpassed by any existing collection. Signor
E. Masè-Dari has lately written a volume tending to throw a doubt on his
financial purity, especially in his administration of Cicero Cilicia.
The attempt is, I think, a failure; and though was a man habitually embarrassed in
regard to ready money, it seems that the Roman system of investment - of short
loans and accommodation money - is more accountable for this than personal
extravagance or reckless contraction of debt. In politics, he doubtless made
the mistake of putting confidence in the leaders of the losing side. But it was
really because he believed their side to be the side of right and justice. He
had no personal aim in the choice, beyond the advantages which he would share
with all his fellow citizens, and the primary desire to be allowed to live and
enjoy the position to which his talents had raised him. His vacillation is
never in his conviction as to right and wrong: but that which arose from his
innate faculty of seeing every side of a question and all possible
contingencies. To a nervous temperament such as his it was impossible that the
dangers to himself and his family should not loom large before his eyes. But
when the time came to act, he usually shewed far more resolution than his own
language allows us to expect. If we had as much self-revelation from the other
men of his days as we have from him, we should probably find no less
vacillation, and certainly no greater conscientiousness. His almost savage
expressions of joy at the murder of Caesar do not present his character in an
amiable light. But then in his eyes Caesar had ruined the state. The
constitution needed reform: Caesar had destroyed it. Social and political life
needed purifying: Caesar had used some of the most reprobate members of society
to put an end to all political and social freedom. That may not be the true
state of the case as we see it, but it is what Cicero saw and believed. Caesar was a
tyrannus. Even when he did well, he did it in the wrong way, and could give no
security that it would not be wholly undone by a successor. The only security
for justice was law-abiding and constitutional government, and that Caesar had
made for ever impossible. By a convention as old as the Republic, "
lynching" was the proper punishment of a man who set himself up as rex,
and that Caesar practically, and almost even in name, had done. Cicero
The last months of
's life are not marred by the
vacillations of former periods. From the 1st of September, B.C. 44, his aim is
single and continuous. He was resolved to resist to the death the attempt to
perpetuate Caesarism after Caesar's death, and to use all his powers of
eloquetice and persuasion to rouse the loyalist party to make a stand for
liberty. And when one after the other his hopes failed and his supports fell
away, he met death with a courage which did not belie his life and his
Besides Atticus, who still claims a considerable share of the correspondence, the majority of letters in these last months are addressed to Plancus, Decimus Brutus, Lepidus, Cassius, and M. Brutus. There is one to
quoted by him against
in the senate, and some few to Dolabella. Cicero
Marcus Antonius, b. B.C. 83.
This is hardly the time at which a final review of
Antony's character should be
made, for the test of his real worth as a statesman and ruler came in the
period following 's
death. Yet in spite of personal prejudice Cicero
does not seem to have made a mistaken estimate of him. In B.C. 51 he had
foreseen that he and his brothers were likely to be important personages in the
Caesarian era, and had warned his friend Thermus not to offend them. Marcus had
been through the regular official round. He had served with Gabinius in Cicero Syria and Egypt
(B.C. 57-56), had been quaestor and legatus to Iulius Caesar in Gaul (B.C. 54-52), and was one of the tribunes of B.C.
50-49 who vetoed the fatal motion in January, B.C. 49, for his recall. His
greatness then began. After Pompey's flight and Caesar's departure for Spain, he was left in charge of with the
rank of propraetor. In B.C. 48 he joined Caesar in Italy Epirus
with reinforcements, fought at Pharsalia, and was sent back after the victory
to take over again the management of Rome and Italy; and when Caesar was named Dictator in
was named his Master of the Horse. Thus far his energy and courage had put him
in the front rank of Caesar's younger officers. But from this time his
weaknesses as well as his strength began to shew themselves. He was not
successful in his government at Antony Rome during
Caesar's absence in ,
and the disorders which grew to a dangerous height under his administration,
both in the city and among the veteran legions, were only suppressed by the
return of the Dictator. His wild debaucheries seem to have contributed to
weaken his influence, and his financial embarrassments, partly at least to be
attributed to them, caused him to attempt their relief by dealing with
confiscated properties in a way which brought him into collision with Caesar. A
coldness appears to have arisen between them, and Lepidus took his place as
Master of the Horse. But this coldness, whatever its nature and cause,
disappeared upon Caesar's return from Alexandria Spain
in B.C. 45, and
was named consul as Caesar's colleague for B.C. Antony 44. In spite of Cicero's invectives against him in the last months of the
orator's life, Antony does not seem to have
treated him with personal disrespect or harshness: and this Cicero
often acknowledges, scandalized as he was by his conduct whilst in charge of . He was
in fact not unkindly by nature, capable of genuine affection and even passion
(he ended, we all know, in throwing away the world for a woman's smile),
good-natured, and florid in person as well as in style of speech and writing.
But with some amiable qualities, he was without virtues. In a ruler
good-natured indulgence to followers means often suffering to the ruled. In a
competitor for empire, reckless gallantry is by itself no match for
self-control and astuteness. In the end the unimpassioned youth, whom we find
him here treating with some disdain, out-manoeuvred him and outbid him for
popular favour, and finally even beat him in war. In these letters, in spite of
their hostility, we learn of what was perhaps his greatest military
achievement, his masterly retreat from Mutina and his rally in Gallia
P. Cornelius Dolabella, b. about B.C. 70.
Dolabella is on a much lower plane than
Antony, and would not be much worth our
attention were it not for his peculiar connexion with . He was one of the wildest and most
extravagant of the young nobles of the day, but was apparently possessed of
some oratorical ability. As was the fashion of the time, he trusted to this
ability to bring him office and means to escape from his embarrassments, and in
order to make himself a name as an orator and man of affairs commenced a
prosecution of a man of high rank for malversation in his province. The person
he selected was Appius Claudius, Cicero Cicero's
predecessor in Cilicia. This happened to be
particularly inconvenient to Cicero, who, besides wishing to stand well with
Claudius, found that just about the time the prosecution was to begin (early in
B.C. 50) his wife had consented to Dolabella's marriage with Tullia. It is not
quite clear what 's
views on the subject were. He had been consulted, and wrote to Terentia leaving
the matter in her hands. Yet when he found it an accomplished fact, he felt
much annoyed, especially as in the meanwhile he had been visited by Tiberius
Nero with a proposal for Tullia's hand, and would have preferred him. The
marriage, however, had taken place, and he was obliged to make the best of it,
and consoled himself in B.C. 50-49 with the reflexion that, as Dolabella took
Caesar's side in the Civil War, he might prove a protection to his wife's
family, which perhaps turned out to be the case. But neither was the marriage a
happy one, owing to Dolabella's gross misbehaviour, nor had Cicero any reason to approve his son-in-law's
public conduct. He was tribune in B.C. 47, whilst Caesar was in Cicero Alexandria, and produced much uproar in by proposing a law for the abolition of
debts. Though his conduct was condoned by Caesar, who took him on his campaigns
in Africa and Rome
(B.C. 46-45), he never shewed any qualities fitting him for public life.
However, his behaviour in the field may be supposed to have earned Caesar's
regard, for he promised him the consulship for half the year B.C. 44, when he
himself should have gone on the Getic and Parthian expeditions. Spain objected to such a
colleague and went so far as to attempt to invalidate the election - as he had
threatened to do - by announcing bad omens. The decision of the augurs on the
point was not given when Caesar was assassinated, and in the confusion that
followed Dolabella assumed the insignia of the consulship. Two years before
this his conduct had been so outrageous that Antony had induced Tullia - somewhat
unwillingly, it seems - to divorce him. But the strangest part of the business
to our feelings is the cordial and almost affectionate manner in which Cicero continues to
address him. This is raised to absolute adulation - in spite of a private
grievance as to the failure to repay Tullia's dowry - by his belief that after
Caesar's death Dolabella meant to take the constitutional side. He had at first
openly shewn his sympathy with the assassins, and a few weeks later had
suppressed the riots which took place round the column and altar placed over
the spot where Caesar's body had been burnt, by executing - in what appears a
most arbitrary manner - a number of citizens and slaves. But this show of
republican ardour soon disappeared. He shared with Antony in the plunder of the
temple of Ops, obtained a nomination to the province of Syria, left Rome while
still consul to take possession before Cassius could get there, and on his way
through Asia barbarously murdered the governor of Asia, Trebonius (February,
B.C. 43). Trebonius was in Cicero Asia with the
express understanding that he was to collect forces and money for the
republican party; and this act of Dolabella's was a declaration of hostility to
it. The senate declared him a hostis and Cassius was commissioned to crush him.
Rumour of his fall (he committed suicide while blockaded in Laodicea)
before the correspondence closes, but no official confirmation of it.
Dolabella's private character was bad, and there is nothing in his public
conduct to make up for it. Rome
C. Cassius Longinus, born B.C. 83.
But the chief figures in the last stage of the correspondence are the two Bruti, Marcus and Decimus, Gaius Cassius, Plancus and Lepidus. With Cassius Cicero's intimacy seems to have begun in B.C. 46, when they were both living in
by Caesar's indulgence, and both of them
with feelings of very doubtful loyalty to his régime. Cassius had distinguished
himself after the fall of Crassus - whose quaestor he was - by successfully
getting the remains of the Roman army back to Rome , and repelling an attack of the
Parthians on that town in the following year (B.C. 52). His success made Antioch Cicero's year in Cilicia
(B.C. 51-50) safe as far as the Parthians were concerned. But he does not speak
with much cordiality about it, or as if he knew Cassius at all intimately.
Cassius was in command of a fleet off
when the battle of Pharsalia took place. When he heard of it he sailed towards
the Sicily Hellespont; apparently with a view of
intercepting Caesar, but almost immediately surrendered to him. After the
Alexandrian War he seems to have returned to Rome
and turned his attention to philosophy, adopting the doctrines of the . His letter (vol. iii., p.194)
shews the zeal of a late convert, as Epicurean School
implies that he was (vol. iii., p.174). He was never a hearty Caesarian,
though, like others, he submitted. In B.C. 46-45, when Caesar was going to Cicero Spain to attack the sons of Pompey, he seems to
have excused himself from fighting against old friends, and consequently to
have received a hint that he had better go on a tour that would keep him from during Caesar's
absence. On Caesar's return, however, in the middle of B.C. 45, he appears to
have been treated respectfully and nominated as praetor for B.C. 44, though he
was annoyed at the preference being given to his brother-in-law M. Brutus, who was
praetor urbanus. They were also to be consuls in B.C. 41, their proper year. To
assign his personal annoyance as to the urban praetorship as the motive for his
promotion of the conspiracy does not seem reasonable, in face of the evidence
of his profound discontent at the Caesarian régime. He of course accepted
office by Caesar's favour, but he probably regarded that office as no more than
his due, and the influence which gave it him as an unconstitutional exercise of
prerogative, with which he could have dispensed if the state of the Republic
had been normal. On the whole his share in the crime of the Ides of March is
not aggravated by the additional stigma of ingratitude to the same extent as
some of the others. His letters from Rome are short and soldierlike.
Without being a man of great ability, he evidently possessed energy and
military capacity. Syria
L. Munatius Plancus and M. Aemilius Lepidus.
Plancus was only accidentally of interest to
He was one of Caesar's legati in Cicero Gaul who
stood by him in the Civil War. He fought with success at Ilerda in B.C. 49
(Caes. B. C. i. 40) and in the African Campaign of B.C. 46 (Caes. Afr.
iv.), and was to be rewarded by the governorship of Celtic Gaul in B.C. 44-43,
and the consulship in B.C. 42. His connexion with Antony
afterwards, his long residence with him in , and his ultimate betrayal of
his secrets to Augustus made the court historian Paterculus particularly fierce
in denouncing him as inflicted with a kind of disease of treason, and as the
most shifty of men. His letters to Egypt
do not do much to relieve his character, clever and graphic as they are. He was
influenced, it seems, almost entirely by personal considerations. If he did not
resist Cicero ,
he feared he should lose his province; if he did so unsuccessfully, he feared
he might lose the consulship of B.C. 42. He therefore is vehement in his
professions of loyalty to the senate, as long as it seemed that their generals
were winning. He allowed Decimus Brutus to join forces with him, and was urgent
that Octavian should do the same. But when he found that Antony had been joined by Lepidus and Pollio,
he accepted the compromise offered him, and saved his consulship, if not his
Lepidus was another man whom the chances of civil war had brought to a higher position than he had strength or character to maintain. He happened to be praetor in B.C. 49, and to do Caesar some service in securing his nomination as Dictator to hold the consular election. He was rewarded by the governorship of Hispania Citerior in B.C. 48-47, and the consulship of B.C. 46 as colleague of Caesar himself. Caesar does not seem to have employed him in a military capacity, but to have left him at home to keep order in
Rome: and when Caesar was again appointed Dictator after , and again for
life after Munda, Lepidus was named his second in command or Master of the
Horse. Though he still held that office in B.C. 44, he was not to accompany
Caesar in the Parthian War, but was to hold the combined provinces of Narbonensis
and Hispania Citerior. He used the troops collected for those provinces to keep
order in Thapsus
after the assassination. He did not, however, stay long in Rome . Having secured his own election as
Pontifex Maximus in succession to Caesar, he went to his province. Whether he
had any understanding with Rome
or not, he seems at first to have been engaged in negotiations with Sext.
Pompeius ostensibly in the interests of the senatorial party. From the
proceedings of Antony Antony in B.C. 44, and his
ultimate determination to oust Decimus Brutus from Gallia,
he stood aloof. When the siege of Mutina began he seems to have sent officers
nominally to communicate with Brutus, but with secret orders not to take part
in the struggle; and when Antony entered Narbonensis, after his retreat from
Mutina, his officers at the frontier made no resistance, and though he feigned
to be displeased and to punish them, they evidently were acting with his
connivance. He was - says Decimus Brutus - "the shiftiest of men"
(homo ventosissimus 10), and his letters to Cicero and
the senate professing loyalty, when on the eve of joining forces with Antony,
are curious for their laboured treason. Like turncoats generally, he was little
valued by the side which he thus joined. Antony
and Octavian found it convenient to admit him to the triumvirate, but he was
always treated with contempt by his two colleagues, and after his futile
attempt in B.C. 36 to undermine Octavian's authority in , he was compelled to live in ignominious
retirement till his death in B.C. 13. Sicily
did his best by flattery and exhortation to keep him loyal, but never thought
highly of him. Cicero
Decimus Iunius Brutus Albinus.
Of all those who joined in the murder of Caesar, Decimus Brutus seems to have had the least personal motive and the least excuse. Caesar evidently thought highly of him, and regarded him with personal affection. He had served with some distinction in
Gaul. He commanded the fleet against the Veneti in B.C.
56, was left in charge of troops in ,
and fought at Alesia in B.C. 52. Caesar always calls him adulescens on these
occasions: he probably therefore was under thirty, and had not held the
quaestorship. When the Civil War broke out he was placed in command of the
fleet built by Caesar's orders to blockade Auvergne (B.C. 49), and seems to have shewn
himself efficient. We have no information as to the years in which he held
office; but he was in Marseilles
in B.C. 50, and may have been quaestor. He does not seem to have been in any of
the other battles of the Civil War. Soon after B.C. 49 he was named governor of
Farther Gaul, and fought successfully with the Bellovaci. There he seems to
have remained for about three years, and on his return to Rome Rome,
about the same time that Caesar came back from (B.C. 45). was received by
Caesar with great honour and affection, being admitted to ride in a carriage
with Octavius and Spain Antony, behind that of the
Dictator, when he entered .11 He was also named for the Rome for B.C. 44-43, and to
the consulship for B.C. 42 with Plancus. Finally, as it transpired after
Caesar's death, he was named "second heir" in the Dictator's will.
There seems no explanation of his having joined in the conspiracy except
possibly his marriage with Paulla Valeria, the sister of a strong Pompeian. His
known influence with Caesar enabled him to play a particularly treacherous
part. When the usual honorary procession of senators called at Caesar's house
on the fatal Ides of March they found him disinclined to go to the Curia, owing
to various warnings, dreams, and omens. To Dec. Brutus was therefore assigned
the task of persuading him to alter his resolution. The letter written by
Decimus immediately afterwards shews no sign of remorse or regret. He was
therefore fully persuaded in his own mind that he was doing a public duty. He
gained nothing by it, and could hardly have hoped to do so. At first it seemed
likely that he would be prevented from taking over his province. But province of Cisalpine Gaul appears to have
found it impossible to prevent his going there; and as the regular complement
of men were already awaiting him, as soon as he entered the province he was
able to act in all respects as a lawfully appointed governor.12 But he was also resolved to
hold the province through B.C. 43, to the eve of his consulship, and refused to
acknowledge the lex obtained by Antony
authorizing him to succeed Brutus in January of that year. This was the origin
of the war of Mutina, which fills so large a part in the letters of this
volume. Cicero's letters to him in B.C. 44 will illustrate his position before
Antony's open war against him, and his own despatches after his relief at
Mutina (April, B.C. 43) take us step by step along the road in that vain
pursuit of Antony, which finally brought Decimus himself to destruction. Antony
M. Iunius Brutus (Caepio), b. B.C. 83, ob. B.C. 42.
The most notable figure in this last section of the correspondence is Marcus Brutus. He has long enjoyed a unique reputation, founded partly on his name and imaginary descent from the expeller of kings, partly on the supposed loftiness of his motives and his stoical purity. He was the preux chevalier of the conspiracy, a Bayard or a Sidney, who acted only as a gentleman, a patriot, and a Stoic was bound to act. Even
acknowledged that he alone of the assassins was without selfish aims; and
Shakespeare faithfully caught the spirit of his authorities when he made him
the hero of his Julius Caesar. There have not, of course, been wanting critics
to take a different view of the character and career of Brutus. He is, for
instance, an object of positive aversion to the editors of the great Dublin
edition of the letters, who not only refer to his stiff and ungracious manners,
of which Cicero himself seems to complain, and to his shallow pedantry, but
accuse him of gross oppression and usury in Asia and Cyprus, of betraying to
Caesar Pompey's intention of going to Egypt after Pharsalia, of mean motives
and gross ingratitude in the assassination of Caesar, and, while trying to make
terms with the Antonians, of failing his party at their direst need by not
coming over from Macedonia with his army. There is thus nothing left of the
heroic about him, or even of what is decently honourable. If whitewashing the
villains of history is an unsatisfactory employment, a still less satisfactory
one is that of dispelling our illusions as to its heroes. His contemporaries
admired Brutus, even his opponents admitted his high qualities, an almost
constant tradition agreed in exalting his character. If Dante placed him in his
lowest hell, it was from the stern condemnation of murder, whatever might be
pleaded for the murderer. There was no more pardon for him than for Francesca's
adultery, in spite of infinite pity. It is, of course, impossible to acquit
Brutus of sinking to the level of his age and belying his philosophy in the
usurious proceedings in Antony ,
and of at least indifference as to the harshness with which his agents exacted
the money. It was, however, too common a custom among the Roman nobility to
shock his contemporaries, or to surprise moderns who know how often practice
does not square with theory. In the government of Gallia Cisalpina (B.C. 56) he
seems to have been blameless in regard to money, and to have shewn considerable
ability. The alleged betrayal of Pompey's intention of going to Cyprus is not
really substantiated by Plutarch, and seems to be rendered nearly impossible
from the fact that Pompey had not made up his mind himself when he escaped from
Pharsalia; and Brutus, who left the camp after him, could scarcely have known
it, if he had. In the matter of Caesar's murder he was as guilty as the rest - neither
more nor less. He probably felt no special gratitude to Caesar, who could
hardly have done other than spare him after Pharsalia, in view of his own
relations with his mother Servilia. The rumour that Brutus was in reality
Caesar's son is in the highest degree improbable, though perhaps not absolutely
impossible. He had no reason to love Pompey, who had treacherously killed his
father, but he did love his uncle Cato, whose death was at Caesar's door. His
coming over to Italy in B.C. 43, as Cicero urged him to do, even if it had been
possible with such transport as he had, would hardly have been wise. His
opponents were then in great strength; there is no reason to believe that Italy
was - as Cicero alleged - ready to rise in his support, and an unsuccessful
battle with Antony, Lepidus and Octavian, who would assuredly have united to
oppose him, would have not only entailed the final loss of the cause, but have
given the excuse for a massacre worse than the proscriptions. The charge of
dallying with the Antonians rests on his leniency in the matter of Gaius Antonius,
whom he had taken prisoner. On the 13th of April, just before the result of the
battles of Mutina was known, a despatch arrived from Brutus, accompanied by one
from Gaius Antonius himself, which began Gaius Antonius proconsul. They were brought by Pilius
Celer, the father-in-law of Atticus, and handed to a tribune. The tribune
passed them to Cornutus, the praetor urbanus who was presiding in the senate in
the absence of the consuls. The despatch of Brutus referred to Antonius in
indulgent terms, and the fact of having allowed him to style himself proconsul
was regarded by the Ciceronians as a practical abandonment of their contention,
that Brutus was alone lawful proconsul of Egypt . Macedonia felt so much embarrassed that he said
nothing. But at the next day's meeting he spoke severely of this assumption of
the title of proconsul, and some of the party tried to insinuate that the
despatch of Brutus was a forgery. There is no evidence, however, that Brutus
ever attempted to disown the despatch, and even after the battles of Mutina he
continued to treat Gaius Antonius with consideration, who, according to the
most probable account, was not put to death till towards the end of the year,
and then not directly by the order of Brutus. Some of the Ciceronian party were
alarmed at the possible position of their relations if they had borne arms
against a "proconsul," and were therefore eager to mark the rejection
of the claim implied by the use of the title. But there could not be any doubt
of the right of Gaius Antonius to this designation, as he had doubtless been
invested with imperium in the usual way. The question was really whether he
had any lawful claim to be exercising that imperium in Cicero . In
that point of view he stood - as Macedonia Cicero remarked
- in the same position as his brother Marcus in Gaul.
But Marcus had been proclaimed by the senate a hostis, which it does not seem
that Gaius had been. There may, therefore, have been room for negotiation, and
in the midst of so much bloodshed it is hardly a matter for reproach to Brutus
that he hesitated to execute a prisoner captured in open fight, and was willing
to allow him to obtain terms from the senate. In 's view, however, everything but war à
l'outrance with the Antonies was treason, and he constantly presses upon Brutus
the necessity of getting rid of him. Cicero
The genuineness of the letters ad M. Brutum.
As controversy has thus raged round the character of Brutus, so has it done also on the genuineness of the two books of letters between Brutus and Cicero. The question has been fully stated and the latest arguments reviewed by the
editors, and need not be discussed over again here. The general result is that
the two books are shewn to be part of one book, the ninth, of a much larger
collection once existing; that those in Book II. should precede those in Dublin ;
and that the evidence is in favour of the genuineness of all the letters except
1.16, 17 (pp.243-252). Even of these the Book I.
editors think that the evidence in their favour is on the whole stronger than
that against them. The MS. authority of these two letters is not different from
that for the rest of the book, but I believe that there are many points both of
style and historical allusion that would strike a reader of the correspondence
as suspicious. The letter to Dublin
is worse than that to Atticus both in substance and in style, but neither is
worthy of the reputation of Brutus. We unfortunately do not know the details of
dealings with Octavian well enough to pronounce with certainty that he did not
write to him in the tone to which Brutus objects. But we do know that the
senate - acting under Cicero 's
influence - in their vote of honours to the army rather studiously ignored
Octavian's services,13 and rejected
the mission of Salvidienus when he asked for the consulship for him. If Cicero was at the same
time writing in flattering terms to him and proposing an ovation, he was
playing a very treacherous and very dangerous game. Therefore if Letters 1. 16,
17 are to be put aside as later compositions, we should be glad to think that
1.15 (pp. 318-324) must follow in the same road: and the panegyric on Messalla
- so premature, and so likely to be inserted afterwards - makes the
spuriousness at any rate of part of the letter highly probable. There seems to
be a kind of fashion in criticism. Forty or fifty years ago there was a
tendency to throw doubt on the genuineness of ancient writings with a kind of
triumphant scepticism; now the pendulum has swung back - for the most part
happily so - and the impulse is to defend everything. Neither fashion is wholly
in the right. Cicero
2 ad Att. xiv. 14)
3 "We seemed not to have been freed from a tyranny - only from a tyrant: for though the tyrant has been killed we obey his every word . . . immunities are being granted; immense sums of money squandered; exiles recalled; forged decrees of the senate entered in the aerarium."
4 1 Phil. §7.
5 He says that he also had a copy of a contio of
6 1 Phil. § 13.
8 The edict was not put up till the triumvirs entered
12 See his expedition against Alpine tribes.
13 App. B. C. iii. 74, 86.
The proscription edict.
Civil Wars 4.2,8-11 abridged.
Had not perfidious traitors begged for mercy and when they had obtained it become the enemies of their benefactors and conspired against them, neither would Caius Caesar been slain by those whom he saved by his clemency after capturing them in war, whom he admitted to his friendship, and upon whom he heaped offices, honors, and gifts, nor should we have been compelled to use this widespread severity against those who have insulted us and declared us public enemies. Now, seeing that the malice of those who have conspired against us and by whose hands Caius Caesar perished cannot be mollified by kindness, we prefer to anticipate our enemies rather than suffer at their hands.
Let no one who sees what both Caesar and we ourselves have suffered consider our action unjust, cruel, or immoderate. Although Caesar was clothed with supreme power, although he was pontifex maximus, although he had overthrown and added to our sway the nations most formidable to the Romans, although he was the first man to attempt the untried sea beyond the Pillars of Hercules and was the discoverer of a country hitherto unknown to the Romans, this man was slain in the middle of the Senate house, which is designated as sacred, under the eyes of the gods, with twenty-three dastardly wounds, by men whom he had taken prisoner in war and had spared, while some of them he had named co-heirs of his wealth. After this execrable crime, instead of arresting the guilty wretches, the rest sent them forth as commanders and governors, in which capacity they seized upon the public money, with which they are collecting an army against us and are seeking reinforcements from barbarians ever hostile to Roman rule. Cities subject to
that would not obey them they have burned, ravaged, or levelled to the ground,
other cities they have forced by terror to bear arms against the country and
against us. Rome
9. Some of them we have punished already; and by the aid of divine providence you shall presently see the rest punished. Although the chief part of this work has been finished by us or is well under control, namely the settlement of Spain and Gaul as well as matters here in Italy, one task still remains, and that is to march against Caesar’s assassins beyond the sea. On the eve of undertaking this foreign war for you, we do not consider it safe, either for you or for us, to leave other enemies behind to take advantage of our absence and watch for opportunities during the war; nor again do we think that in such great urgency we should delay on their account, but that we ought rather to sweep them out of our pathway once and for all, seeing that they began the war against us when they voted us and the armies under us public enemies.
10. What vast numbers of citizens have they, on their part, doomed to destruction with us, disregarding the vengeance of the gods and the reprobation of mankind!
We shall not deal harshly with any multitude of men, nor shall we count as enemies all who have opposed or plotted against us, or those distinguished for their riches merely, their abundance or their high position, or as many as another man slew who held the supreme power before us when he too was regulating the commonwealth in civil convulsions, and whom you named the Fortunate on account of his success, and yet necessarily three persons will have more enemies than one. We shall take vengeance only on the worst and most guilty.
This we shall do for your interest no less than for our own, for while we keep up our conflicts you will all be involved necessarily in great dangers, and it is necessary for us also to do something to quiet the army, which has been insulted, irritated, and decreed a public enemy by our common foes. Although we might arrest on the spot whomsoever we had determined on, we prefer to proscribe rather than seize them unaware – and this too on your account, so that it may not be in the power of enraged soldiers to exceed their orders against persons not responsible, but that they may be restricted to a certain number designated by name and spare the others according to order.
11. So it be then a! Let no one harbor anyone of those whose names are appended to this edict, or conceal them, or send them away anywhere, or be corrupted by their money. Whoever shall be detected in saving, aiding, or conniving with them we will put on the list of the proscribed without allowing any excuse or pardon. Let those who kill the proscribed bring us their heads and receive the following rewards:to a free man 25.000 Attic drachmas per head, to a slave his freedom and 10.000 Attic drachmas and his masters right of citizenship.
Informers shall receive the same rewards. In order that they may remain unknown the names of those who receive the rewards shall not be inscribed in our records.”
Such was the language of the proscription edict of the triumvirs as nearly as it can be rendered from Latin into Greek.
a ‘So it be then’ (or) ‘so be it then!’
A pious formula like the Latin;
quod felix faustumque sit.
[R.I. May it be good, fortunate and prosperous!]
DCXCVI (Fam. VI. 15)
to L. Minucius Basilus (On the Capitol) – Cicero
I congratulate you! For myself I am rejoiced! I love you: I watch over your interests: I desire to be loved by you and to be informed of how you are, and what is being done.
1. Basilus. One of the assassins, who struck so wildly that he wounded Rubrius (Nic. Dam. c. 24). He was murdered early in the next year by his own slaves in retaliation for a barbarous punishment inflicted on some of them (Appian, B. C. iii. 98). The note is no doubt written immediately after the assassination; though there is no direct evidence of it, nor do we know anything of
DCXCVII (Fam. VI. 1)
D.BRUTUS TO M.BRUTUS and C.CASSIUS
(ON THE CAPITOL) -
I write to let you know our position. Yesterday evening Hirtius called on me, and told me about the disposition of
"What, then," you say, "is your advice?" We must yield to fortune: we must quit
After my last conversation with Hirtius I decided to ask that we should be allowed to remain at
1] [R.I. free legation.
(Liberam Legationem; Free Commission.)
In the later Republic the practice arose by which a senator proposing to travel to a province on private business, after stating the purpose and destination of his journey, was granted the title of ambassador by the senate. That meant that he travelled at the state’s expense and enjoyed the other advantages and dignities of an ambassadorial status. A legatio Libera would not confer immunity from prosecution.]
Leg.III.18 strongly condemns this abuse, which
[R.I. The term Libera Civitas simply means "free city." The Romans, allowed
3] That is, take up arms against the government.
4] Sext. Pompeius had a large fleet in
5] That is, as to the llibera legatio and the guard
DCC (A XIV. 1)
MATIUS’ SUBURBAN VILLA, 7 APRIL 44 B.C.
I have come on a visit to the man, of whom I was talking to you this morning.1 His view is that "the state of things is perfectly shocking: that there is no way out of the embroglio. For if a man of Caesar's genius failed, who can hope to succeed?" In short, he says that the ruin is complete. I am not sure that he is wrong but then he rejoices in it, and declares that within twenty days there will be a rising in
1] Gaius Matius (Calvena), as shewn in the letters following.
2] In B.C. 47, when Caesar was on his way home from the Pontic campaign. Deiotarus had been Pompeian, and was afterwards accused of having attempted to poison Caesar, but the subject of Brutus' pleading was whether he was to retain his dominions.
DCCIV (XIV. 5)
ASTURA, 11 APRIL 44 B.C.
I hope you are now as well as I could wish - for you were fasting owing to a slight indisposition: still, I should like to know how you are.1 Among good signs is Calvena's annoyance at being an object of suspicion to Brutus. It will be a bad symptom if the legions come from
But I should like to know something about the arrival of Octavius.4 Is there a great flocking to visit him, any suspicion of a coup on his part? I don't expect it myself: still I should like to know the truth whatever it is.
I write this to you on the point of starting from Astura, 11th of April
1] We have heard once or twice before of some illnesses of Atticus, but Nepos says that he had no occasion for medicine for thirty years of his life. He seems, however, to have had a tendency to stomach disorders which he treated by fasting (Nep. Att. 21, 22).
2] That is, C. Asinius Pollio, now governor of Hispania Ulterior.
4] C. Octavius (the future Augustus) was at Apollonia in
DCCIX (A XIV. 9)
PUTEOLI, 18 APRIL 44 B.C.
I have learnt a good deal about public affairs from your letters, a considerable batch of which I received at the same time from the freedman of Vestorius. However, to your questions I shall make a short answer. I must premise that I am delighted with the Cluvian estate.1 As to your question about the reason for my having sent for Chrysippus - two of my shops have fallen down and the rest are cracking. So not only the tenants but the very mice have migrated. Other people call this a misfortune, I don't call it even a nuisance. Oh Socrates and Socratic philosophers, I shall never be able to thank you enough! Good heavens, how paltry such things are in my eyes! But after all I am adopting a plan of building on the suggestion and advice of Vestorius, which will convert this loss into a gain.
Here there is a great crowd of visitors and there will, I hear, be a greater still. Our two consuls-designate forsooth!2 Good God, the tyranny survives though the tyrant is dead! We rejoice at his assassination, yet support his acts! Accordingly, M. Curtius3 criticises us with such severity that one feels ashamed to be alive. And not without reason: for it had been better to die a thousand deaths than to endure the present state of things, which seems to me likely to be more than a passing phase. Balbus too is here and often at my house. He has had a letter from Vetus, dated on the last day of the year, announcing that "when he was investing Caecilius Bassus, and was on the point of compelling him to surrender, the Parthian Pacorus arrived with an immense force: that accordingly Bassus was snatched from his hands, for which he blames Volcatius."4 Accordingly, I think that a war there is imminent. But that will be the affair of Dolabella and Nicias. Balbus also gives better news from Gaul.6 He has a letter dated twenty-one days back announcing that the Germans and the tribes there, on hearing about Caesar's death, sent legates to Aurelius, who was put in command by Hirtius, promising obedience. In short, everything speaks of peace in those parts, contrary to what Calvena said to me.7
1] Some property that had been left to Cicero and others by Cluvius of Puteoli.
2] Pansa and Hirtius had been designated consuls by Caesar, though probably a form of election had been gone through.
3] M. Curtius Postumus, an ardent Caesarian.
4] Q. Caecilius Bassus (quaestor B.C. 59) escaped from Pharsalia to
5] Dolabella had been allotted the
6] That is Belgic
7] See Letter DCC. C. Matius Calvena had prophesied a rising in
DCCX (A XIV. 10)
Can it be true? Is this all that our noble Brutus has accomplished - that he should have to live at Lanuvium, and Trebonius should have to slink to his province by by-roads? That all the acts, memoranda, words, promises, and projects of Caesar should have more validity than if he were still alive? Do you remember that on that very first day of the retreat upon the Capitol I exclaimed that the senate should be summoned into the Capitoline temple? Good heavens, what might have been effected then, when all loyalists - even semi-loyalists - were exultant, and the brigands utterly dismayed! You lay the blame on the Liberalia.1 What was possible at the time? Our case had long been hopeless. Do you remember that you explained that it was all over with us, if he were allowed a funeral? But he was even burnt in the forum, and a funeral oration was pronounced over him in moving terms, and a number of slaves and starvelings instigated to attack our houses with firebrands. What next! They even have the impudence to say: "You utter a word against the will of Caesar?" These and other things like them I cannot endure, and accordingly I am thinking of wandering away "from land to land." Your land,2 however, is too much in the eye of the wind.
Is your sickness quite gone by this time? I rather judged so from the tone of your letter.
I return to the case of the veterans - your Tebassi, Scaevae, and Frangones. Do you suppose these men feel any confidence in retaining their grants so long as our party have any footing in the state? They have found it possessed of more resolution than they expected. They, I presume, are devoted to the cause of public tranquillity rather than supporters of robbery! But when I wrote to you about Curtilius and the estate of Sextilius, I must be understood to have included Censorinus, Messalla, Plancus, Postumus,3 and the whole lot. It had been better to have risked destruction4 - which would never have befallen us - when Caesar was killed, rather than to have lived to see this sort of thing.
Octavius arrived at
My brother Quintus writes to me with heavy complaints of his son, chiefly because he is now taking his mother's part, whereas in old times when she was kind to him he was on bad terms with her. He sent me a very hot letter against him. If you know what the young man is doing, and have not yet left
1] That is, on what was done in the senate on the 17th of March. The course of events referred to is as follows: (a) March 15th. Caesar is assassinated in the Curia Pompey about noon. The conspirators (joined by some who wished to be thought in the plot) marched through the city protected by Dec. Brutus's gladiators and barricaded themselves on the Capitol.
• There they were visited by Cicero and others.
• In the afternoon Brutus and Cassius ventured down into the forum and addressed the people, but then returned to the Capitol.
• (b) March 16th was spent in various negotiations with the consul
(c) March 17th. At the meeting of the senate (to which the assassins were summoned, but did not come)
• (1) That there should be a general amnesty, i.e., no prosecution of the assassins.
•(2) That Caesar's acta should be confirmed.
•(3) That grants of land made or promised to the veterans should hold good.
•(4) That Caesar should be allowed a public funeral, and that Piso (his father-in-law) should publish his will.
It was the funeral and the recitation of the will to which Atticus (as did
3] All men enriched in various ways by Caesar's confiscations.
4] That is, by taking strong measures. This seems the only meaning possible if the MS. reading, quod nunquam accidisset, is retained, but I doubt whether the meaning is to be got out of the Latin. It would be at any rate much more intelligible if we read with Gronovius, quod utinamaccidisset. What
DCCXI (A XIV. II)
PUTEOLI, 21 APRIL 44 B.C.
The day before yesterday I sent you a fairly long letter. Now I will answer your last. I only wish to heaven Brutus would stay at Astura. You mention the "intemperance"1 of the Caesarians. Did you expect anything else? For my part, I look for worse things. For when I read his speech "Concerning so great a man," "Concerning a most illustrious citizen," I can scarcely contain myself; yet all that sort of thing is now really ludicrous. But remember this: the habit of delivering unprincipled speeches is being fostered to such a pitch that our - I won't say heroes - our gods, while sure of eternal glory, will yet not escape prejudice or even danger. They, however, have a great consolation in the consciousness of a most magnificent and noble deed: what consolation is there for us, who, though the tyrant is slain, are not free? But let fortune look to this, since reason is not at the helm. What you say about my son is very gratifying - God bless him! I am exceedingly obliged to you for arranging that he should have an allowance ample for the amenities as well as the necessaries of life; and I emphatically beg you to continue to do so. About the Buthrotians your idea is quite right. I am not losing sight of that affair. I will undertake to plead the entire case, and I perceive that it daily grows simpler. As to the Cluvian inheritance, since in all business of mine you even surpass me in interest - I may tell you that the total is approaching one hundred sestertia. The fall of the houses did not depreciate the value of the property: I am not sure that it didn't increase it. I have here with me Balbus, Hirtius, and Pansa. Octavius has lately arrived at the next villa to mine, that of Philippus.2 He is quite devoted to me. Spinther is staying with me today: he goes early tomorrow.
2] The stepfather of Octavius. It was the policy of Octavius for the present to feign devotion to the boni as a protection against
DCCXII (A XIV. 12)
PUTEOLI, 22 APRIL 44 B.C.
Ah, my dear Atticus, I fear the Ides of March have brought us nothing beyond exultation, and the satisfaction of our anger and resentment. What news reaches me from
Octavius here treats me with great respect and friendliness. His own people addressed him as "Caesar," but Philippus did not, so I did not do so either.3 I declare that it is impossible for him to be a good citizen.4 He is surrounded by such a number of people, who even threaten our friends with death. He says the present state of things is unendurable. But what do you think of it, when a boy like that goes to
1] Deiotarus of Galatia, whom
3] Being adopted in Caesar's will the future Augustus was now properly Gaius Iulius Caesar Octavianus (the adjectival form of his original name, as usual). But this adoption required a formal confirmation by a lex curiata - which
4] Reading bonum civem esse. By omitting esse
5] Pansa and Hirtius.
6] Vestorius was a banker of Puteoli, often mentioned in the letters. For writing letters at the dinner table.
DCCXIV (A XIV. 13 b)
PUTEOLI, 26 APRIL 44 B.C.
The request you make to me by letter I have only one reason for wishing that you had made personally. For in that case you would have been able to perceive my affection for you not merely by my language, but from my "expression, eyes, and brow" - as the phrase goes. For while I have always loved you - incited thereto at first by your zeal in my service and then by your actual favours - so in these times the interests of the state have so recommended me to you, that there is no one whom I regard with warmer affection. Moreover, the very affectionate and complimentary tone of your letter had such an effect upon me that I felt as though I were not doing you a favour, but receiving one from you, when you qualified your request by an assurance that you would not restore a personal enemy of mine, who was a friend of your own, if I did not wish it, though you could have done so without any trouble. Of course, my dear
As for the boy Clodius, I think it is your duty to imbue what you call "his young and impressionable" mind with the conviction that no vindictive feelings remain between our families. I fought P. Clodius, since I was supporting the interests of the state, he his own. Upon the merits of our controversies the state has decided. If he were now alive, I should have had no cause of contention with him remaining. Wherefore, since you put this request to me with the reservation that you will not avail yourself of what is undoubtedly within your power against my wishes, please grant this to the boy also as a present from me, if you think it right. Not because a man of my age need suspect any danger from a boy of his, nor because a man in my position has reason to shrink from any controversy,1 but that we may be still more closely united than we have as yet been: for owing to the intervention of these feuds your heart has been more open to me than your house. But enough of this. I will only add, that I shall always zealously do without hesitation whatever I think to be your wish and to your advantage.2
1] An answer to
DCCXV (A XIV. 13)
PUTEOLI, 26 APRIL 44 B.C.
Your letter of the 19th did not reach me till the seventh day. In it you ask me (and even seem to think I can't answer) which of the two I like best-hills and a fine view or a walk along a flat coast. Well, it is quite true that, as you say, the charm of both spots is so great, that I can't make up my mind which is to be preferred.
“But 'tis no time to think of dainty fare,
When heaven upon us rolls this cloud of woe:
We look and shudder - is it life or death?”1
For though you have sent me important and welcome news about Decimus Brutus having joined his legions,2 in which I see the promise of very great things. Nevertheless, if there is to be a civil war, as there is sure to be, if Sextus Pompeius is going to remain in arms - as I know for certain he will - what I am to do I am at loss to conceive. For it will not be allowable now, as it was in Caesar's war, to go neither to the one nor to the other. For anyone that this party shall believe to have rejoiced at Caesar's death - and we all of us shewed our joy in the most open way - they will consider in the light of a public enemy: and that means a formidable massacre. The only resource is to go to the camp of Sextus Pompeius or perhaps to that of Brutus. It is a tiresome step and quite unsuitable to our time of life. Considering the uncertainty of war, and somehow or another I can say to you and you to me:
"My son, the deeds of war are not for you:
Seek rather thou the witching works of speech.”3
But I will leave all this to chance, which in such matters is more powerful than design. For ourselves let us only take care - a thing which is within our power - that we bear whatever happens with courage and philosophy, remember that we are but mortal, and allow literature to console us much, but the Ides of March most of all.
Now join me in the deliberation which is distracting my mind, owing to the many conflicting arguments which occur to me on either side. Shall I start for
Now I return to your letter. You say that there are rumours that I am about to sell my property on the Lake;4 while I am going to convey my bijou villa - and that at a fancy price - to my brother Quintus, for him to bring home, as young Quintus has told you, the rich heiress Aquilia. The real truth is that I have no thoughts of selling unless I find something that pleases me better; while Quintus has no idea of purchasing at this time. He is quite bothered enough by his obligation to repay the dowry. To marriage, moreover, he has such a distaste that he assures me that nothing can be pleasanter than a bed to oneself.5 But enough of that. I return to the downcast or rather to the non-existent republic. Marcus Antonius has written to me about the recall of Sextus Clodius - in what a complimentary manner, as far as I am concerned, you may see from his letter, for I am sending you a copy. But you will at the same time have no difficulty in recognizing the unprincipled and improper nature of his proposal,- so mischievous in fact that it sometimes makes one wish Caesar back again. For measures which Caesar would never have taken or sanctioned are now produced from his forged minutes. However, I made no difficulty about it to
1] Homer, Il. 9.228.It is no time -
2] Decimus Brutus had been named to the government of Gallia Cisalpina by Caesar, and had gone there in spite of
3] Homer, Il. 5.428.
4] The Lucrine lake.
5] Quintus Cicero had recently divorced Pomponia.
DCCXVI (A XIV. 14)
PUTEOLI, 27 APRIL 44 B.C.
"Oh tell me o'er your tale again."1 Our nephew Quintus at the Parilia wearing a garland?2 Was he alone? You certainly mention
Now about things more "political." You defend the two Brutuses and Cassius as though I were finding fault with them: whereas the fact is I cannot praise them enough. lt was the weak points in the situation, not in the individuals, that I reviewed. For though the tyrant has been removed, I see that the tyranny remains. For instance, things which Caesar never intended to do are being done: as in the case of Clodius - in regard to which I have full assurance not only that Caesar was not likely to have done it himself, but that he would have actually forbidden it. The next will be Vestorius's old foe Rufio,4 Victor whose name was never in Caesar's minutes, and so on with the rest - who shall we not see restored? We could not endure being his slaves; we are the humble servants of his memorandum books.
As to the senate of the 17th of March - who was strong enough to refuse to attend? Suppose that could somehow have been done: when I did attend, could I possibly speak with freedom? Wasn't it on every ground necessary, seeing that I had nothing to protect me, to speak up for the veterans who were there with arms in their hands? You can bear me witness that I never approved of that lingering on the Capitol. Well, was that the fault of the Brutuses? Not at all, but of those other dull brutes, who think themselves cautious and wise, who thought it enough in some cases to rejoice, in others to congratulate, in none to persevere. But let us leave the past: let us bestow all our care and power of protection on our heroes, and, as you advise, let us be content with the Ides of March. Yet though they gave our friends - those inspired heroes - an entrance to heaven, they have not given the Roman people liberty. Recall your own words. Don't you remember exclaiming that all was lost if Caesar had a public funeral?5 Wisely said! Accordingly, you see what has been the issue of it.
So you say that on the 1st of June
To record the outrageous crimes of the men by whom we are still held down? Shall I be able to refrain from complimenting those very persons, who have asked you to act as their witness? 7 And it isn't, by heaven, the petty gain that moves me; but it is painful to attack with invectives men who have shewn me personal goodwill, whatever their character.
However, as you say, I shall be able to determine my whole line of conduct with greater clearness by the 1st of June. I shall attend on that day and shall strive by every means and exertion in my power-with the assistance of your influence and popularity and the essential justice of the cause - to get a decree through the senate about the Buthrotians in the sense of your letter. The plan of which you bid me think I will of course think over, though I had already in my previous letter commended it to your consideration. But here are you seeking just as though the Constitution were already recovered - to give back their just rights to your neighbours of
P.S. The short letter written by you afterwards was very agreeable to me - that about Brutus's letter to
1] This quotation, expressing horrified incredulity, is from the Iliona of Pacuvius (Ribbeck, 202).
2] See DCCXXII. The Parilia were on the 21st of April.
4] Apparently C. Sempronius Rufus, who had a controversy with Vestorius.
5] The scene at the reading of Caesar's will, the funeral oration of Antony, and the burning of the body in the forum - so faithfully dramatized by Shakespeare - is given most fully by Appian (B.C. 3.143-148). The revulsion of feeling caused by it made
7] Of wills, in which legacies were left to
8] Massilia (as we have seen, had held out against Caesar in B.C. 49, and had been obliged to surrender after a long siege, and had given up its arms and ships. But it does not appear to have lost its position as a libera civitas, or if it did, it soon regained it. A figure of Massilia was carried in Caesar's triumph (Off. 2.28: see also Phil. 2.94; Phil. 8.18), and this perhaps implies a loss of libertas for the time. Why
DCCXVII (A XIV. 15)
My admirable Dolabella! For now I call him mine. Before this, believe me, I had my secret doubts. It is indeed a notable achievement - execution from the rock1, on the cross, removal of the column, the contract given out for paving the whole spot.2 In short - positively heroic! He seems to me to have put an end to that artificial pretence of regret, which up to this time was daily growing, and which, if it became deeply rooted, I feared might prove dangerous to our tyrannicides. As it is, I entirely agree with your letter and hope for better things: though I cannot stand those people who, while pretending to desire peace, defend unprincipled proceedings: but we can't have everything at once. Things are beginning to go better than I had expected: and of course I will not leave the country till you think I may do so with honour. Brutus certainly I will always be ready to serve at any time or place, and that I should have done, even if there were no ties between us, for the sake of his unparalleled and extraordinary character. I put this whole villa and all that it contains at the service of our dear Pilia, being myself on the point of departing this 1st of May for my house at
1] [R.I. The Tarpeian Rock (Rupes Tarpeia) was a steep cliff of the southern summit of the Capitoline Hill, overlooking the Forum Romanum. It was used during the
2] In the absence of Antony (2 Phil. 107), who had already punished some of the rioters, Dolabella took stringent measures - pulled down the memorial column (Phil. 1.2), crucified those of the rioters who were slaves, and hurled from the Tarpeian rock some who were free. This unconstitutional conduct on the part of both consuls was condoned by the Senate and Optimates because exercised against Caesarian sympathisers. Dolabella, after Caesar's murder, had at first taken the side of the murderers and even pretended to have been privy to the plot, but seems gradually to have betrayed sentiments of the opposite description (App. B.C. 3.122).
DCCXIX (A XIV.
Though I am quite content, my dear Dolabella, with the glory you have earned, and feel it to be a source of great exultation and pleasure, yet I cannot help confessing that it adds a finishing stroke to my joy that popular opinion associates my name with your praises. I meet a great many people every day, for large numbers of men of rank are collected in this district for their health, besides a goodly crowd of friends of mine from the country towns. Well, I have met none who did not with one consent praise you to the skies, adding in the same breath a very warm expression of thanks to me. For they say that they have no doubt that it is in obedience to my precepts and advice that you are shewing yourself to be a most eminent citizen and brilliant consul. Though I can answer such men with the most absolute truth that what you are doing you do on your own judgment and your own initiative, and do not need any man's advice, yet I neither admit outright the truth of their remark, lest I should detract from your glory by making it seem to have sprung entirely from my advice, nor do I deny it entirely either. For I am even too covetous of honour. And, after all, it is no disparagement to your dignity - as it was not to that of Agamemnon himself the "king of kings" - to have some Nestor to assist you in forming your plans. Whereas it redounds to my glory that as still a young man1 you should have a brilliant reputation as a Consul while being, so to speak, a pupil of my school.2
Lucius Caesar, for instance, when I visited him on his sick bed at Naples, though racked with pains all over his body, scarcely got the formal words of greeting out of his mouth before he exclaimed: "Oh my dear Cicero, I congratulate you on having an influence with Dolabella, such as if I had had with my sister's son,3 we might now have been safe. Your Dolabella indeed I both congratulate and thank - for he is the only man since your consulship that I can with any truth call a consul." Then he proceeded to say a great deal about the occurrence, and how you had managed the affair, declaring that no more splendid and brilliant act had ever been done, nor one more beneficial to the state. And this was the observation of everyone.
Now, I beg of you to allow me to accept this quasi-inheritance, so to speak, of another man's glory, and to permit me to some extent to be a sharer in your reputation. However, my dear Dolabella - for this is only my joke - it would give me greater pleasure to divert the full stream of my glories, if I may be said to have any, upon you, than to draw off any part of yours. For while I have always had the warm attachment to you which you have had every opportunity of appreciating, by your recent acts I have been so inflamed that nothing can exceed the ardour of my attachment. For there is nothing, believe me, fairer, more beautiful, or more attractive than virtue. I have always, as you know, loved Marcus Brutus for his eminent ability, his very agreeable manners, and unequalled honesty and consistency. Nevertheless, on the Ides of March my affection was so much enhanced, that I was surprised to find an addition possible in what I had looked upon as having long ago reached its height. Who could have thought that any addition was possible to my affection for you? Yet so great an addition has been made that I seem to myself never to have loved before, only to have liked. Wherefore what need to exhort you to support your position and reputation? Shall I quote to you the examples of illustrious men, as people usually do when exhorting another. I have none to quote more illustrious than yourself. You must imitate yourself, vie with yourself. It is not even admissible after such great achievements for you to fail to be like yourself.4
This being so, exhortation is superfluous. What is called for is rather congratulation. For it has been your good fortune - as I think it has never been anyone else's - to inflict the most severe punishment, not only without exciting ill feeling, but with full popular approval, and to the greatest and most universal satisfaction of aristocrat and plebeian alike. If this were merely a stroke of luck in your case I should have congratulated your good fortune; but it is in fact the result of a certain largeness of spirit, ability, and prudence. For I read your speech. It was wisdom itself. So well did you feel your way in first approaching and then avoiding the points of the case, that by universal consent the time for striking the blow seemed naturally to arise from the facts. So you have freed the city from danger and the state from terrorism, and not only done a useful service in view of the present emergency, but have set a precedent. Wherefore you ought to understand that the constitution depends on you, and that you are bound not only to protect, but to honour the men who laid the foundation of liberty. But of such matters at greater length when we meet, which I hope will be soon. For you, my dear Dolabella, since you are preserving the Republic and us, take care to guard your own life with every possible precaution.
1]That is, below the statutable age for the consulship. Dolabella was only about twenty-five.
2] vol. iii., p.93, forDolabella's study of rhetoric under
3] L. Caesar's sister Iulia married first Antonius Creticus, by whom she was the mother of Marcus Antonius, and secondly Lentulus, the Catilinarian conspirator (Phil. 2.14).
4] Surely party spirit never so perverted a great man as when it induced Cicero to write these words to a dissolute young scoundrel like Dolabella; and in praise of an act of wholly unconstitutional cruelty. Even the unhappy boys hanged after the Gordon riots were allowed some form of trial.
DCCXXII (A XIV. 19)
Being in my Pompeian villa on the 7th of May I received two letters from you, the first dated five days ago, the second three. I will therefore answer the earlier one first. How glad I am that Barnaeus delivered my letter at the nick of time! Yes, with Cassius as before. It is, however, a lucky coincidence that I had just done what you advise me to do. Five days ago I wrote to him and sent you a copy of my letter. But after I had been thrown into a great state of despair by Dolabella's avarice1 - to use your expression - lo and behold, arrives a letter from Brutus and one from you. He is meditating exile: I, however, see before me a different port, and one better suited to my time of life.2 Though, of course, I should prefer entering it with Brutus in prosperity and the constitution on a sound footing. As it is indeed, you are right in saying that we have now no choice in the matter. For you agree with me that my age is unsuitable to a camp, especially in a civil war. Marcus Antonius merely said about Clodius, in answer to my letter, that my leniency and placability had been very gratifying to him, and would be a source of great pleasure to myself. But Pansa seems to be fuming about Clodius as well as about Deiotarus. His words are stern enough, if you choose to believe them. Nevertheless, he is not sound - as I think - on the subject of - Dolabella's achievement,3 of which he loudly expresses His disapproval. As to the men with the garlands,4 when your sister's son was reproved by his father, he wrote back to say that he had worn a garland in honour of Caesar, that he had laid it aside as a sign of mourning; lastly, that he -was quite content to be vilified for loving Caesar even when dead. To Dolabella I have written cordially, as you said that you thought I ought to do. I have also done so to Sicca. I don't lay the responsibility of this upon you: I don't want you to incur his wrath. I recognize Servius's style of talk, in which I see more of timidity than wisdom. But since we have all been frightened out of our wits, I have nothing to say against Servius. Publilius has taken you in. For Caerellia was sent here by them as their envoy; but I convinced her without difficulty that what she asked was not even legal, to say nothing of my disliking it.5 If I see Antony I will seriously press the case of Buthrotum.
I come now to your later letter, though I have already answered you in regard to Servius. You say that I am "making a good deal of Dolabella's achievement." Well, by heaven, it is my genuine opinion that it could not be surpassed in the circumstances and actual state of affairs. But after all, whatever credit I give him is founded on what you wrote. However, I agree with you that it would be a still greater "achievement" on his part, if he paid me what he owes me.6 I should like Brutus to stay at Astura. You praise me for coming to no decision about leaving
1] No doubt - if the reading is sound - he refers to Dolabella still retaining Tullia's dowry in part.
2] That is, "death" (cp. de Sen. § 91). He had just written the essay on Old Age. There he makes Cato say that at his age death is so pleasant that "as I approach it more, I seem to be catching sight of land and to be at length coming into port after a long voyage." We often find the sentiment occurring in his letters which he was at the time expressing in books.
3] In executing the rioters collecting round the pillar marking the spot in the forum where his body was burnt. See pp.33-35.
4] At the Palilia. See Letter DCCXVI.
5] Remarriage with the divorced Publilia.
6] The instalment of Tullia's dowry which he had to repay.
DCCXXIV (A XIV. 20)
PUTEOLI, II MAY 44 B.C.
First, thank you for what you have done on my behalf both as to the payment and the business with Albius. Next, as to your Buthrotum. When I was at my Pompeian villa,
I have answered your first letter: I now come to your second. I will see to the Quinti and Buthrotum when I come, as you say. Thank you for supplying my son. You think me mistaken in my idea that the constitution depends on Brutus. The truth is that it will all go or will be saved by him and his friends. You urge me to send you a written copy of a speech to the people. Well, here, my dear Atticus, you may take it from me as a general maxim applicable to the affairs in which we have had a fairly wide experience - no one ,whether poet or orator, ever yet thought anyone else better than himself This is the case even with bad ones. What can you expect of the brilliant and accomplished Brutus. I had actual experience of him recently in the matter of the edict.4 I drafted one on your request. I liked mine, he his. Nay, more, when in answer to what I may almost call his en treaties I had dedicated my book "On the best Style of Oratory" to him, he wrote not only to me, but to you also, to say that he did not agree with my choice of style. Wherefore, pray, let each man write for himself:
a “Each man has the best of wives: So have
That you have a sweeter love, I deny.”
That you have a sweeter love, I deny.”
It is not well put, for it is by Atilius,5 the most wooden of poets. And I only hope he may be allowed to deliver a speech at all! If he can but shew himself in the city with safety, it will be a triumph for us. For if he sets up as a leader in a new civil war, no one will follow him, or only such as can be easily beaten.
Now for your third letter. I am glad that Brutus and Cassius liked my letter. Accordingly, I have written back to them. They want Hirtius made a better citizen by my influence. Well, I am doing my best, and his language is very satisfactory, but he passes his time and almost shares houses with Balbus, who also uses loyalist language. What to believe of that I must leave you to determine. I see that you are much pleased with Dolabella; I am eminently so. I saw a good deal of Pansa at
1] Brother of Marcus Antonius. He was tribune this year, and had been speaking about a distribution of land.
2] Tertia half-sister of Brutus, and wife of Cassius. She was daughter of Servilia by D. Iunius Silanus. Another sister was married to Lepidus.
[R.I. See Tacitus, Ann.III.76 & Sir Ronald Syme’s “The Augustan Aristocracy”]
3] Some report of harm having happened to Cleopatra. The son called Caesarion (Suet. Aug. 17) was believed to be Caesar's, though Caesar himself is said to have denied it, and his friend C. Oppius published a pamphlet to disprove it. Suetonius (Iul.52) says that Caesar granted Cleopatra permission to call the boy after him as a favour. And Plutarch (Caes. 49) attributes the assertion to the common talk of
4] Atticus had suggested
5] A translator of tragedies and comedies. See de Fin. 1.2, where
6] The banker at Puteoli.
a [R.I. Suam quoi/que sponsam, mi/hi meam;
suum quoi/que amorem, mi/hi meum.]
DCCXXV (A XIV. 21)
PUTEOLI, 11 MAY (at Vestorius’ place) 44 B.C.
Only a little while ago I had sent you a letter by Cassius's letter-carrier, when my own letter-carrier arrived on the 11th, and, marvellous to say, without a letter from you. But I soon concluded that you had been at Lanuvium. Eros, however, made great haste to have Dolabella's letter delivered to me. It was not about my money - for he had not received my letter: but he wrote in answer to the letter of which I sent you a copy. It was very well expressed. Balbus, however, came to see me immediately after I had despatched Cassius's letter-carrier. Good heavens! how plainly he shewed his dread of peace! You know, too, what a reserved fellow he is, yet he told me
I write, or rather dictate this, after the dessert has been put on the table at the house of Vestorius. Tomorrow I am thinking of dining with Hirtius - the sole survivor indeed of our set of five.4 That is my way of bringing him over to the Optimates. It is all nonsense: for there is not one of that party who does not dread a period of peace. Wherefore let us look out our winged-sandals! For I prefer anything to a camp. Pray give my best love to
The text of this clause is doubtful, arma being a conjecture for utram of the MSS. Mueller reads castra. The duumviri also may mean the two chief magistrates of the colonia. For
3] Servilia, the mother of Brutus, had an estate at
4] penteloipon. The reading, however, is not certain. Tyrrell and Purser reckon the set or coterie at Puteoli as including Hirtius, Pansa, Octavius, Lentulus Spinther, and Philippus. But the political views referred to in the next sentence do not apply to Philippus.
5] As he did in his tribuneship of B.C. 47. Tinniat has a double meaning: (i) ringing true, like a vessel when tapped, and so being "honest (cp. Persius, 3.20); (2) "to chink" like money when handled, and so to be ready to pay.
DCCXXXIV (A XV. 5)
My letter-carrier has come back from Brutus, and has brought me a letter both from him and from Cassius. They are very earnest to have my advice - Brutus, indeed, wants to know which of the two courses I recommend. What a miserable state of things! I am quite uncertain what to say to them. So I think I shall try silence, unless you think I had better not. But if anything occurs to you, pray write and tell me. Cassius, however, begs and entreats me earnestly to bring Hirtius over to the right side as much as possible. Do you think he is in his right senses?
“ Ashes and dust
Is all our trust.”1
Is all our trust.”1
I inclose his letter. Balbus also writes to the same effect as you do as to the
1] The MSS. have the apparently unmeaning words ὅτε ναῦς ἄνθρακες. I venture to propose a proverb which makes sense, and which is no violent change in the MSS., considering the hopeless confusion with which they generally present Greek words. It is ὁ θησαυρός, "the treasure turns out to be dust and ashes," a proverb for disappointed hopes (see Lucian, Zeuxis, § 2; Timon, § 41).
DCCXXXVII (F XI. 2)
BRUTUS AND CASSIUS TO M. ANTONIUS (AT
LANUVIUM (LATE IN MAY) 44 B.C.
Brutus and Cassius, praetors, to M. Antonius, consul.
If we had not been convinced of your honour and kind feeling to ourselves, we should not have written this letter to you. And this being the state of your mind, you will, we feel sure, receive it with all possible favour. Our correspondents inform us that a crowd of veterans has already collected at
Wherefore we beg you to let us know what your feeling towards us is: whether you think that we shall be safe in the midst of such a crowd of veteran soldiers, who, we hear, even think of replacing the altar.1 That is a thing which we think that hardly anyone can wish or approve, who desires our safety and honour. The result shews clearly that our aim from the first was peace, and that we have had no other object than the liberty of all. No one can beguile us except yourself, and that is a course of conduct quite alien to your virtue and honour. But no one else has the means of deceiving us: for it is you alone that we have trusted and intend to trust. Our friends are disturbed by a very great alarm on our account. For though they have every confidence in your good faith, they yet cannot help reflecting that the crowd of veteran soldiers can be more easily moved by others in any particular direction, than they can be held back by you. We ask you to write back and explain everything. For the suggestion that notice has been given to the veterans to appear, because you intended to bring in a law about their pensions in June, is wholly inadequate and meaningless. For whom do you think likely to hinder it, since in regard to ourselves we have made up our minds to do nothing whatever? We ought not to be thought by anyone too greedy of life, since nothing can happen to us without general disaster and confusion.
1] The altar and column erected by the pseudo-Marius in the forum on the spot where Caesar's body had been burnt. Dolabella had removed it.
DCCXXXIX (A XV. 9)
On the evening of the 2nd I received a letter from Balbus telling me that there would be a meeting of the senate on the 5th, in order to appoint Brutus to the superintendence of the corn-supply in Asia, Cassius in
1] A stream in the property of Brutus at Lanuvium, to which he had given the name of the
3] Apparently Atticus was contemplating a visit to Brutus at Lanuvium with some proposals from
DCCXLI (A XV. 10 (2))
ANTIUM, 8 JUNE 44 B.C.
I reached Antium on the 8th. Brutus was delighted at my arrival. Thereupon in the presence of a large party - Servilia, dear Tertia, and Porcia1 - he asked me my opinion. Favonius2 was there too. I had thought over what to say as I was on the road, and now advised him to avail himself of the corn-purchasing office in
“Where deeds and fame of the Pelopidae
May greet my ears no more.”6
But look here! Not to keep you in the dark, Dolabella named me his legatus on the 2nd of June. That announcement reached me yesterday evening. Even you did not approve of my having a "votive legation." And indeed it would have been absurd for me to be discharging the vows made in case of the constitution being maintained, after that constitution had been overthrown. Besides "free legations" have, I think, a fixed limit of time by the Julian law, and an addition is difficult to secure. The sort of legation I want is one that admits of my coming back or going out as I choose: and that is now secured to me.7 Very pleasant too is the privilege of exercising this right for five years.8 Yet why think about five years? If I am not deceived the end is not far off. But absit omen.
1] Servilia, mother of Brutus; Tertia, his half-sister and wife of Cassius; Porcia, his second wife, recently married.
2] For this imitator of Cato, see vol. ii., p.31 ; cp. vol. i., pp.35, 188.
3] Because he had used his forces in Gallia Cisalpina in wars with the natives instead of attacking
4] That is,
5] To Achaia, on his way to take possession of his
6] See vol. iii., p.100, etc.
8] The period for which Dolabella had the governorship apparently, for he was to carry on the Parthian war (Appian, B.C. 3.7, 8).
DCCXLII (A XV. 12)
ASTURA, 10 JUNE 44 B.C.
I am glad to hear about Buthrotum.1 But I had sent Tiro, as you bade me, to Dolabella with a letter. What harm can it do? About our friends at Antium I think my last letter was sufficiently full and explicit. It must have convinced you that they intended to take no active step, but to avail themselves of
1] The favourable decision of the consuls.
2] The decree promoted by
3] Lucius Antonius was a tribune. He seems to have written to
5] This is the first time that
6] Husband of Octavia, Octavian's sister. Consul B.C. 49.
7] The text is corrupt.
DCCLXVI (A XVI. 1)
PUTEOLI, 8 JULY 44 B.C.
I arrived at Puteoli on the 7th. I write this on the following day as I am crossing to Nesis.1 But on the day of my arrival, as I was at dinner Eros brought me your letter. Is it really so? "Nones of July!"2 The gods confound them! But one might rage all day long. What could be a greater insult to Brutus than "July"? I come back to my old quousque tandem? I have never seen anything worse. But what is this, pray, about the land-grabbers being cut to pieces at Buthrotum?3 How also came Plancus to be on the run day and night - for that is whispered to me? I am very anxious to know what it means. I am glad that my going abroad is commended: I must try and get my staying at home praised also. That the Dymaeans4 should harry the sea after being expelled from their lands is no wonder. There seems to be some protection in making the voyage in company with Brutus. But I think his vessels are small. However, I shall know all about it directly, and will write to you tomorrow. As to Ventidius,5 I think it is a canard. As to Sextus, it is regarded as certain that he is giving in.6 If this is true, we must submit to being slaves even without a civil war. What are we to say then? Is our hope in Pansa and the 1st of January? That's all moonshine, considering the drunken and drowsy habits of these men. About the 230 sestertia - capital! Let my son's accounts be put straight. For Ovius has just arrived7 and his report is much to my satisfaction: among other things it is by no means bad that seventy-two sestertia is enough, and quite liberal, but that Xeno furnishes him very sparingly and stingily. You say that your bill of exchange amounted to more than the rent of the town lots. Well, let the year in which he had the additional expense of the journey be credited with the balance. From the 1st of April next let his allowance be kept to the eighty sestertia.8 For the town lots now produce that amount. We must see to some settlement for him when he is back in
Now let me inform you of my motive for sending you a letter-carrier. Young Quintus promises me that he will be a regular Cato. But both father and son urged me to guarantee this to you, though with the understanding that you shouldn't believe it till you had practical proof of it yourself. I will give him a letter such as he desires. Don't let it influence your opinion. I am writing this to prevent your supposing that I am convinced. Heaven send that he carries out his promises! It will be a satisfaction to everyone concerned. But I - well, I will say nothing more. He starts on the 10th. He says he is making a consignment of debts for the 15th, but that he is being very hard pressed. You will judge from my letter what answer to give him. I will write at greater length when I have seen Brutus and am sending Eros back. I quite accept my dear
1] Nesis (mod. Nisidia) is a small island between Puteoli and
2] The change of name of the month Quintilis to Iulius, as being the month of Caesar's birth, was voted by the senate early in this year, Dio, 44, 5; but it does not seem to have quickly come into public use, for it was re-enacted in his honour after his death, Dio, 45, 8. It probably had not been used in formal documents, and
3] New coloni often found themselves roughly treated by the men dispossessed in their favour. See last letter, p.104, and Phil. 2.300.
4] Some of the pirates whom Pompey had settled on lands at Dyme in Achaia, after the Piratic war of B.C. 57-56, Plut. Pomp. 28.
5] P. Ventidius Bassus, a devoted adherent of
6] Lepidus was negotiating with Sextus Pompeius, offering him the restitution of his father's wealth (Dio, 45, 10). It is rumoured that be is accepting.
8] About £640, accruing from the rents of the blocks of houses (insulae) which apparently formed part of Terentia's property secured to her son. His first year's expenditure had exceeded, his second year had fallen below it, and
DCCLXXXI (F XI. 27)
I have not yet been able to make up my mind whether Trebatius - kind man and devoted friend of us both - brought me more pain or pleasure. The fact is that I having reached
I came to Brundisium:2 do you suppose that I have forgotten with what speed you flew to me from Tarentum, as soon as you heard of it? Or, of how patiently you sat by my side, talked to me, and strengthened my courage, which had been broken by the dread of the universal ruin? At length our residence at
To what end, therefore, is this preamble which has run to greater length than I anticipated? Why, to explain my surprise that you, who were bound to have known all this, should have believed me capable of having done anything incompatible with our friendship. For besides these facts, which are well attested and as clear as the day, I could mention many others of a more secret nature, such as I can hardly express in words. Everything about you gives me pleasure: but above all your surpassing fidelity in friendship, the prudence, trustworthiness and consistency of your character, as well as the charm of your manners, the cultivation of your intellect, and your knowledge of literature.
This being understood, I return to your statement of grievance. That you voted for that law3 I at first refused to believe. In the next place, if I had believed it, I should never have believed that you did so without some sound reason. Your rank makes it inevitable that whatever you do should be noticed: while the ill-nature of the world causes certain things to be represented in a harsher light than your actions have really warranted. If you never hear such observations I don't know what to say. For my part, whenever I hear them I defend you, as I know that I am always defended by you against my detractors. Now my line of defence is twofold. There are some statements which I meet with a blank denial, as about that very vote of yours. Others I defend on the ground of the loyalty and kindness of your motives, as in regard to the superintendence of the games. But it does not escape a mind so highly cultivated as yours that, if Caesar was a tyrant - as I think he was - two opposite theories are capable of being maintained in regard to your services. One is mine - when I hold that your loyalty and kindness are to be commended for shewing affection to a friend, even after his death. The opposite theory, advanced by some, is that the liberty of our country is to be preferred to the life of a friend. From such discussions as these I only wish that the arguments I have advanced had come to your ears! Two other points, which above everything else redound to you reputation, no one could put oftener and with more satisfaction than I do: that your voice was the strongest both against beginning the civil war, and for moderation in victory. And in this I have never found anyone who did not agree with me. Therefore I am grateful to our friend Trebatius for giving me an excuse for writing this letter. And if you do not believe in it, you will thereby condemn me as wanting in duty and good feeling: than which nothing can be more discreditable to me or more foreign to your own character.
1] For a joint letter from Matius and Trebatius acquainting
2] That is, after Pharsalia, at the beginning of November, B.C. 48.
3] We have no certain indication of what law is meant. It may mean the law which gave Antony Gallia Cisalpina and the Macedonian legions.
DCCLXXXII (F XI. 28) a
C. MATIUS TO
Your letter gave me great pleasure by convincing me that your opinion of me was what I had hoped and wished that it should be. And although I had no doubt about that, yet, as I valued it very highly, I was anxious that it should remain intact. I was, moreover, conscious in my own mind of having done nothing calculated to wound the feelings of any good man. Therefore I was all the less inclined to believe that a man of your many splendid qualities could be induced to adopt any opinion inconsiderately, especially as my good feeling towards you had always been, and still was, heartfelt and uninterrupted. As then I know this to be as I wished it to be, I will now answer the charges, which - as was natural from your unparalleled kindness and our friendship - you have often rebutted in my behalf.
Now I am well acquainted with the allegations made against me since Caesar's death. People blame me for shewing grief at the death of a dear friend, and expressing my indignation that the man whom I loved had been killed. For they say that country should be preferred to friendship, as though they had actually proved that his death has been beneficial to the Republic. Well, I will speak frankly. I confess that I have not attained to that height of philosophy. For in the political controversy it was not Caesar that I followed, but it was a friend whom - though disapproving of what was being done - I yet refused to desert. Nor did I ever approve of a civil war, nor of the motive of the quarrel, which in fact I strove my utmost to have nipped in the bud. Accordingly, when my friend was victorious I was not fascinated by the charm either of promotion or of money-rewards upon which others, though less influential with him than I was, seized with such intemperate avidity. In fact, even my own personal property was curtailed by the law of Caesar,1 thanks to which most of those who now exult in Caesar's death maintained their position in the state. I was as anxious that conquered citizens should be spared as I was for my own safety. Wishing therefore the preservation of all, could I fail to be indignant that the man by whose means that preservation had been secured had perished? Especially when the very same men had caused both the feeling against him. and the death which befell him. "Well then," say they, "you are assailed for venturing to shew your disapprobation of our deed." What unheard of tyranny! One party are to boast of a crime, others are not to be allowed even to grieve at it with impunity! Why, even slaves have always been free to fear, to rejoice, and to grieve at their own will rather than at the behest of another - emotions of which, to judge from the frequent remarks of your champions of liberty, they are now endeavouring to deprive us by force. But they are throwing away their labour. I shall never be deterred from duty and humanity by the threats of any danger. For I have convinced myself that an honourable death is never to be shunned, is often even to be sought. But why are they angry with me for wishing them to repent of what they have done? For I desire Caesar's death to be regretted by all. 'But," say they, "I ought as a citizen to desire the safety of the Republic." If my past life and future hopes do not prove me - without my saying a word - to desire that, I do not expect to convince them by anything I can say. Therefore I ask you with more than usual earnestness to regard facts as more convincing than words; and if you think it good for the world that right should prevail, to believe that I can have nothing in common with criminals. The principles which I maintained as a young man, when I might have had some excuse for going wrong, am I now that my life is drawing to its close entirely to change and with my own lips to give the lie to my whole career? I will not do so! Yet I will not act in a way to cause offence farther than by avowing my grief at the hard fate of one so deeply loved, and a man of such extraordinary distinction. But if I were otherwise disposed I would never deny what I was doing, lest I should get the reputation of being at once unscrupulous in committing crime, and timid and false in disavowing it.
"But," say they, "I superintended the games given by the young Caesar in honour of Caesar's victory." That is a matter of private obligation with no constitutional significance. Yet, after all, a service which I was bound to render to the memory of a dear friend even after his death, I could not refuse to the request of a young man of very great promise and in the highest degree worthy of Caesar.
I have also frequently been to the house of the consul Antonius to pay my respects. Yes, and those who now regard me as unpatriotic you will find going there in crowds to prefer some petition or to pocket some bounty. But what insolence is this that, whereas Caesar never interfered with my being intimate with whom I chose, even with those whom he personally disliked, these men who have torn my friend from me should now endeavour by their captious remarks to prevent my loving whom I choose? But I have no fear either of the regularity of my life not being sufficient to protect me hereafter, or of those very men who hate me for my constancy to Caesar not preferring to have friends like me rather than like themselves. For myself, if I get what I like, I shall spend the remainder of my life in retirement at Rhodes: but if some accident intervenes, though I am at
Good-bye, and do not cease to love me.
1] There were two financial laws of Caesar's, one in B.C. 49, which provided for the payment of loans - minus interest - by transferring property at a valuation, and regulated the proportion of money to be invested in Italian land (App. B.C. 3.48; Caes. B.C. iii. I; Dio, 41, 38); and a second of B.C. 47, remitting certain proportions of house and land rent in
a [R.I. Prof.Sir Ronald Syme’s remark about this letter:
“A monument to the eternal glory of C.Matius.”
DCCLXXXVIII (F XII. 3)
Your friend1 daily becomes madder. To begin with, he has caused "To the father for his eminent services" to be inscribed on the statue which he has placed on the rostra, so that you are now condemned not only as murderers, but as parricides.2 But why do I say "you"? Rather I should say "we" are condemned: for that madman asserts that I was the head and front of that most glorious deed of yours. Would that I had been! He would not have been troubling us now.3 But it is you and your fellows who are responsible for this: and since it is past and done with, I only wish I had some advice to give you. But the fact is, I cannot feel satisfied even of what I myself ought to do. For what is possible against force without having any force oneself? Now the gist of this policy of theirs is to punish the death of Caesar. Accordingly, on the 2nd of October, being introduced to an assembly by Cannutius,
2] The title of parens (or pater) patriae had been formally given to Caesar and was inscribed on coins (see Dio, 44, 3; Suet. Iul. 80).
4] Though Dolabella had gone to take possession of the
DCCLXXXIX (F XII. 23)
Tratorius has explained to me the whole state of the case regarding your governorship and the position of your province. How many intolerable things are being done in all quarters! But considering your high rank, the treatment accorded to you is still less endurable. For because you put up with these things in the loftiness of your spirit and character without excessive irritation, they none the less call for your vengeance, even though they do not sting your heart. But of this at a future time.1
I feel sure that a gazettea of transactions in the city reaches you. If I had not thought so I would have written an account of them myself, and first and foremost of the attempt made by Octavianus. In regard to this the common people think it a charge trumped up by Antony, as an excuse for making an inroad upon the young man's money. Men of the world, however, and loyalists both believe that it took place and approve of it.2 In short, I have great hopes of him. There is nothing he may not be expected to do in future for fame and glory's sake. Antonius, however, our whilom intimate friend, feels himself to be the object of such violent dislike, that though he caught the assassins within his own doors, he does not venture to make the fact public. On the 9th of October he set out to meet the four Macedonian legions, which his idea is to win over to his side by money-bounties, to lead them to the city, and station them as fetters for our necks.3
There is the state of the Republic for you, if a republic can be said to exist in a camp. And in this matter I often lament your fortune in not being old enough ever to have had a taste of a sound and healthy republic. And up to this time indeed it was at least possible to hope: now even that is snatched from us. For what hope can there be, when
For my part I bear these things, and in fact all that can befall a mortal, in such a way as to make me grateful to philosophy, which not only diverts me from anxious thoughts, but also arms me against all assaults of fortune. And you too, I think, should do the same: and believe that to a man who is clear of all wrong-doing nothing is to be reckoned an evil. But you understand this better than I.
I always thought highly of our friend Tratorius, but I have been specially struck by his eminent fidelity, activity, and good sense in your business affairs. Take care of your health: nothing you can do could please me more than that.
1] Q. Cornificius had gone as governor to
2] Whether Octavian did really countenance the attempt to assassinate
3] There were six legions stationed in
a [R.I. The Acta Urbis or Acta Diurna was a publication begun by Julius Caesar and – with a break under Tiberius - continued by his successors, which contained official announcements, and general news that the government desired to convey to the public.]
DCCXCI (A XV. 13)
PUTEOLI, 25 OCTOBER 44 B.C.
On the 25th I received two letters from you. I will therefore answer the earlier one first. I agree with you: but I would neither lead the van or bring up the rear, and yet be on that side in sympathy. I am sending you my speech. As to whether it is to be kept locked up or published, I leave the decision to you. But when shall we see the day when you shall think that it ought to be published?1 I cannot see the possibility of the truce which you mention. Better a masterly silence, which I think I shall employ. You say that two legions have arrived at Brundisium: you in
Yes, as you suggest in your letter, I am keeping up with Vettienus and Faberius. I don't think Clodius meant any harm, although. But it is all one! As to the maintenance of liberty - surely the most precious thing in the world - I agree with you. So it is Caninius Gallus's4 turn now, is it? What a rascal he is! That's the only word for him. Oh cautious Marcellus! I am the same - yet not after all the most cautious of men!
I have answered your longer and earlier letter. Now for the shorter and later one - what answer am I to make except that it was a most delightful one? Events in
1] The venomous second Philippic - perhaps the most terrible invective ever composed - was never delivered. It is a pamphlet in the form of a speech supposed to be delivered in the senate on the 19th of September in answer to
2] Varro had promised a Dialogue either dedicated to
3] That is, on constitutional theories, like the work of Heracleides of Pontus.
4] Most editions now read C. Annio, and refer it to C. Annius Cimber (Phil. 11.34), a follower of
5] For this agent of Brutus, see vol. ii., p.329.
6] For Caecilius Bassus, the Pompeian who had nearly succeeded in occupying the
7] Cassius was on his way to
8] The partisans of Antony.
DCCXCIV (A XVI. 8)
PUTEOLI, 2 NOVEMBER 44 B.C.
When I know what day I am coming to town I will let you know. I must expect some hindrances, and there is illness among my household. On the evening of the 1st I got a letter from Octavian. He is entering upon a serious undertaking. He has won over to his views all the veterans at Casilinum and Calatia. And no wonder: he gives a bounty of 500 denarii apiece. Clearly, his view is a war with
1] Augustus was born in September, B.C. 63, and was therefore now nineteen. In the Monumentum Ancyranum, § I, he begins the record of his achievements thus: "When nineteen years old I collected an army on my own account and at my own expense, by means of which I restored to liberty the Republic, which had been enslaved by the tyranny of a faction." By a "faction" Augustus here means, however, the anti-Caesarian aristocrats. At this time
2] Of the Caecinae of Volaterrae. See vol. iii., p.123.
DCCXCV (A XVI. 9)
PUTEOLI, NOVEMBER 44 B.C.
Two letters on the same day from Octavian! His present view is that I should come to
1] Impossible, that is, with safety to the opponents of
2] Now governor of Gallia Cisalpina, who would be sure to take Octavian's side, because
DCCCIV (A XVI. 15)
ARPINUM (BETWEEN I I NOV. AND 9 DEC.)
Don't put it down to idleness that I do not write with my own hand - and yet, by heaven, do put it down to idleness; for I have no other excuse to give: and, after all, I think I recognize the hand of Alexis in your letters. But to come to business. If Dolabella had not treated me in the most dishonourable manner, I should perhaps have considered whether to be somewhat easy with him or to press for my strict rights. As it is, however, I even rejoice that an opportunity has been presented me of making both him and everybody else perceive that I have become alienated from him. I will avow it openly, and shew indeed that it is not only for my own sake, but for that of the Republic also, that I detest him: because, after having undertaken under my advice to support it, he has not only deserted it for a money bribe, but has also, as far as in him lay, contributed to its ruin. Well, you ask what proceedings I wish to be taken. As soon as the day comes, I should like them to be of such a nature as to make it natural for me to be at
I return to public affairs. I have received - heaven knows - many a prudent word from you under the head of politics, but never anything wiser than your last letter: "Though that youth is powerful and has given
P.S. - When I had already sealed this letter I got one from you and Sextus.4 Nothing could be more delightful and loving than Sextus's letter. For yours was only a short note. Your previous one was fuller of matter. Your advice is as prudent as it is friendly - that I should remain in this neighbourhood by preference, until I hear how the present movements end. But for myself, my dear Atticus, it isn't the Republic that at this moment gives me great anxiety - not because there is anything dearer than it in my eyes or ought to be so, but Hippocrates himself forbids medical treatment in desperate cases. So good-bye to all that! It is my personal property that affects me. Property, do I say? Nay, rather my personal reputation. For great as my balances are, I have not yet realized enough even to pay Terentia. Terentia, do I say? You know that we some time ago settled to pay twenty-five sestertia for the debt to Montanus. My son, from a very keen sense of honour, asked us to pay this out of his allowance: and very liberal too it was of him, as you also thought. I promised him, and told Eros to earmark it. Not only did he not do so; but Aurelius5 was forced to raise a fresh loan at a most oppressive rate of interest. For as to the debt to Terentia, Tiro wrote me word that you said that there would be cash from Dolabella. I believe that he misunderstood you - if ever a man did misunderstand - or rather that he did not understand anything about it. For you wrote and told me the answer made by Cocceius, and so did Eros in nearly the same words.
We must come therefore to
1] The contio delivered by Octavian on his first visit to
2] One of the assassins. He was tribune-elect, and would come into office 10th December.
4] Sextus Peducaeus.
5] The agent of Montanus.
DCCCIX (F XI. 6)
Our friend Lupus, having reached
1] The speech delivered by
• (1) C. Pansa and A. Hirtius, the consuls-designate, are authorized to provide for the protection of the senate on the 1st of January.
• (2) In regard to the edict of Brutus his services are to be commended, and he - like the other governors - is to hold his province for the full term of his appointment by the lex Iulia, and until successors are named by the senate.
• (3) The action of Octavian (whom he now calls Gaius Caesar) in raising the veterans is to be commended, and also that of the Martian and fourth legions, as done in the defence of senate and people.
See also Dio 45, 19, sq.