Page images

called on me, though he was not fully recovered. I scolded him for not being sufficiently considerate of his weak health : but he said that nothing had been more wearisome to him than waiting to see me. Nothing fresh happened, has there?” said I. Then he told me of your grievance.

But before I answer it I will put before you a few facts. As far back as I can remember I have no older friend than yourself. But after all the length of a friendship is something in which many others share. Not so warmth of affection. I became attached to you the first day I knew you, and formed the opinion that you were attached to me. After that your absence—which was a very prolonged one-my own official career, and the different line we took in life did not allow our inclinations to be cemented by a constant intercourse. Nevertheless, I had proof of your affection for me many years before the civil war, when Cæsar was in Gaul. For you secured what you were strongly of opinion was to my advantage and not without advantage to Cæsar himself—that the latter should like me, pay me attention, and rate me among his friends. I pass over instances in those times of words, letters, and various communications of the most friendly character passing between us. For a more dangerous crisis followed : and at the beginning of the civil war, when you were on your way to Brundisium to join Cæsar, you came to call on me at Formiæ. How much that implies in itself, to begin with, especially at such a crisis ! And in the next place, do you suppose that I have forgotten your advice, conversation, and kindly interest? And in these I remember that Trebatius took part. Nor, again, have I forgotten the letter you sent me after you had met Cæsar in the district, if I remember rightly, of Trebula.” Then followed the period in which whether you call it shame or duty or fortune compelled me to go abroad to join Pompey. What service or zeal was wanting on your part, either towards myself when away from town, or my family, who were still there? Whom did all my family regard as more warmly attached either to me or to themselves ?

1. For a joint letter from Matius and Trebatius acquainting Cicero with Cæsar's movements in B.C. 49, see vol. ii., p. 350.

2 Vol. ii., p. 5.

I came to Brundisium: 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 Rome began : could anything be more intimate than we were? In questions of the first importance I consulted you as to my attitude towards Cæsar, and in other matters availed myself of your good offices. Setting Cæsar aside, whom else but me did you so far distinguish as to visit constantly at home, where you often spent many hours in the most delightful conversation ? And it was then too, if you remember, that you instigated me to write these philosophical works. After Cæsar's return, was there any object dearer to you than that I should be on the terms of closest friendship with him ? And this you had accomplished.

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 aīl 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 law? 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

1 That is, after Pharsalia, at the beginning of November, B.C. 48. See vol. iii., p. II.

2 We have no certain indication of what law is meant. It may mean the law which gave Antony Gallia Cisalpina and the Macedonian legions.


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 Iknow 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 Cæsar was a tyrant—as I think he wastwo 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.




Your letter gave me great pleasure by convincing me that your opinion of me was what I had hoped and wished that

i See p. 52.


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 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 Cæsar'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 Cæsar 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 Cæsar,' thanks to which most of those who now exult in Cæsar'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

1 There were two financial laws of Cæsar's, one in B.C. 49, which provided for the payment of loans-minus interestby transferring property at a valuation, and regulated the proportion of money to be invested in Italian land (App. B. C. iii. 48 ; Cæs. B. C. iii. 1; Dio, 41, 38); and a second of B.C. 47, remitting certain proportions of house and land rent in Rome and Italy (Dio, 42, 51; Suet. Iul. 38). Matius may be referring to either or both. He lost by them, being an investor rather than a borrower of money. See vol. iii., pp. 93, 98.

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 Cæsar'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 Cæsar in honour of Cæsar's victory.” That is a matter of private obligation with no constitutional significance. Yet, after all, a service which I was bound to

« PreviousContinue »