« PreviousContinue »
had a hearty laugh over your witty and amusing remarks about Vestorius's “sect” and the Puteolian custom of the Pheriones.
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. It 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 Cæsar never intended to do are being done: as in the case of Clodius-in regard to which I have full assurance not only that Cæsar 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, Victor whose name was never in Cæsar'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 Cæsar had a public funeral ?? Wisely said! Accordingly, you see what has been the issue of it.
? Cicero (p: 22) had jocosely referred to the banker Vestorius as “no philosopher but good at accounts,” and Atticus seems to have replied by a punning reference to the aipois, “sect," with perhaps an allusion to the meaning "taking,” as the characteristic of a banker. We can never explain the joke as to the local habits of the “Pheriones," because we don't know who they were or what Atticus said about them. May it be a similar pun on pépelv, " to carry off”—“convey the wise it call”? Puteoli was the mart of the corn trade from Egypt, and its merchants and bankers may have had a name for sharp practice.
· Apparently C. Sempronius Rufus, who had a controversy with Vestorius (vol. ii., p. 6).
3 See p. 17.
So you say that on the ist of June Antony means to bring the allotment of provinces before the senate, and to propose taking the Gauls himself. Well, will the senate be free to pass a decree? If it is, then I shall rejoice that liberty has been recovered. If not, what will that change of masters have brought me except the joy with which I feasted my eyes on the just execution of a tyrant? You mention plundering going on at the temple of Ops. I, too, was a witness to that at the time. Yes in truth, we have been freed by heroic champions with the result that we are not free after all! So theirs is the glory, ours the fault. And do you advise me to write history ? 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 ? 3 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 ist 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
1 The scene at the reading of Cæsar'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. iii. 143-148). The revulsion of feeling caused by it made Antonyall-powerful for some weeks.
Cicero elsewhere insinuates that Antony took forcible possession of 700,000 sestertia (about £5,600,000) deposited in Cæsar's lifetime in the public treasury at the temple of Ops (2 Phil. 893). See infra, p. 41.
3 'Of wills, in which legacies were left to Cicero. See p. 8.
already in my previous letter commended it to your con sideration. But here are you seeking—just as though the constitution were already recovered—to give back their just rights to your neighbours of Marseilles. These rights may possibly be restored to them by arms—though I do not know how far we can rely on them—they cannot be so by anybody's influence.
P.S. The short letter written by you afterwards was very agreeable to me—that about Brutus's letter to Antony, and also his to you. It seems possible that things may be better than they have been hitherto. But I must take measures as to my present position and as to where to go immediately.
DCCXVII (A XIV, 15)
CUMÆ, 1 MAY 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 rock, on the cross, removal of the column, the contract given out for paving the whole spot. In short-positively heroic! He
1 Massilia (as we have seen, vol. ii., p. 394) had held out against Cæsar 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 Cæsar's triumph (Off. ii. & 28: see also 2 Phil. $ 94 ; 8 Phil. § 18), and this perhaps implies a loss of libertas for the time. Why Cicero calls the people of Massilia “ neighbours" to Atticus is not clear. One suggestion is that their ambassadors were living near him at Rome.
? In the absence of Antony (2 Phil. 107), who had already punished some of the rioters (see p. 9), Dolabella took stringent measurespulled down the memorial column (1 Phil. § 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 Cæsarian sympathisers. Dolabella, after Cæsar's murder, had at first
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 ist of May for my house at Pompeii. How I wish you could persuade Brutus to stay at Astura
DCCXVIII (A XIV, 16)
TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
PUTEOLI, 3 MAY
I DESPATCH this letter on the 3rd of May, when on the point of embarking on a rowing boat from the Cluvian pleasure-grounds, after having handed over to Pilia my villa on the Lucrine lake, its servants, and bailiffs. I myself on that day am threatening the cheese-and-sardine dishes of my friend Pætus.” In a very few days I shall go to Pompeii, and afterwards shall return to my domains at Puteoli and Cumæ. What desirable spots in other respects, yet owing to the crowd of visitors almost to be shunned !
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. iii. 122).
Those inherited from Cluvius of Puteoli. See p. 15. 2 I am going to stay with Pætus at Naples. See vol. iii., p. 92.
But to come to business. What a gallant coup de main of my Dolabella! What a magnificent display! For my part I never cease mingling praise and exhortation in writing to him. Yes, you are quite right in the opinion you express in all your letters about the action as well as the man. In my opinion our friend Brutus might walk through the forum even with a gold crown on his head. For who would venture to assault him with the fear of the cross and the rock before their eyes ? Especially as this transaction has been so loudly cheered and so heartily approved by the very mob?
Now, my dear Atticus, do make things all right for me. I want, as soon as I have done fully all that Brutus requires of me, to make an excursion into Greece. It is much to my son's interest, or rather to mine, or by heaven to that of us both, that I should drop in upon him in his studies. For in the letter of Leonides? which you forwarded to me, what is there, after all, to give us any great pleasure? I shall never think the boy's report satisfactory while it contains such a phrase as “as he is going on at present. ” These are not the words of confidence, but rather of anxiety. Moreover, I had charged Herodes : to write to me in detail ; but as yet I have not had a line from him. I fear he had nothing to say which he thought would be pleasant for me to know. I am much obliged to you for having written to Xeno. It concerns my duty as well as my reputation that my son should not be in any way short of means. I hear that Flaminius Flamma' is at Rome. I have written to tell him that I have given you a written commission to speak to him about the business of Montanus. Please see that the letter I have sent him is delivered, and -if quite convenient to yourself—have a personal interview with him. I think, if there is a spark of shame in the man, he will see that the payment is not deferred to my loss. As
As the best way of keeping him up to the mark. Cp. vol. ii., p. 59. 2 The tutor of the young Marcus Cicero. 3 One of young Cicero's teachers at Athens. We have already heard of him as undertaking a history of Cicero's consulship (vol. i., p. 67).
4 An Epicurean philosopher at Athens (vol. ii., pp. 26, 31). · Atticus seems to have employed him to transmit money to young Cicero.
5 C. Flaminius Flamma owed Plancus money and also it seems Cicero. See vol. iii., p. 258.