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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Cicero’s Reply to Sulpicius
By Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 B.C.)
 
YES, my dear Servius, I could indeed wish you had been with me, as you say, at the time of my terrible trial. How much it was in your power to help me if you had been here, by sympathizing with, and I may almost say, sharing equally in my grief, I readily perceive from the fact that after reading your letter I now feel myself considerably more composed; for not only was all that you wrote just what is best calculated to soothe affliction, but you yourself in comforting me showed that you too had no little pain at heart. Your son Servius however has made it clear, by every kindly attention which such an occasion would permit of, both how great his respect was for myself and also how much pleasure his kind feeling for me was likely to give you; and you may be sure that, while such attentions from him have often been more pleasant to me, they have never made me more grateful.  1
  It is not however only your arguments and your equal share,—I may almost call it,—in this affliction which comforts me, but also your authority; because I hold it shame in me not to be bearing my trouble in a way that you, a man endowed with such wisdom, think it ought to be borne. But at times I do feel broken down, and I scarcely make any struggle against my grief, because those consolations fail me which under similar calamities were never wanting to any of those other people whom I put before myself as models for imitation. Both Fabius Maximus, for example, when he lost a son who had held the consulship, the hero of many a famous exploit; and Lucius Paulus, from whom two were taken in one week; and your own kinsman Gallus; and Marcus Cato, who was deprived of a son of the rarest talents and the rarest virtue,—all these lived in times when their individual affliction was capable of finding a solace in the distinctions they used to earn from their country. For me, however, after being stripped of all those distinctions which you yourself recall to me, and which I had won for myself by unparalleled exertions, only that one solace remained which has been torn away. My thoughts were not diverted by work for my friends, or by the administration of affairs of state; there was no pleasure in pleading in the courts; I could not bear the very sight of the Senate House; I felt, as was indeed too true, that I had lost all the harvest of both my industry and my success. But whenever I wanted to recollect that all this was shared with you and other friends I could name, and whenever I was breaking myself in and forcing my spirit to bear these things with patience, I always had a refuge to go to where I might find peace, and in whose words of comfort and sweet society I could rid me of all my pains and griefs. Whereas now, under this terrible blow, even those old wounds which seemed to have healed up are bleeding afresh; for it is impossible for me now to find such a refuge from my sorrows at home in the business of the State, as in those days I did in that consolation of home, which was always in store whenever I came away sad from thoughts of State to seek for peace in her happiness. And so I stay away both from home and from public life; because home now is no more able to make up for the sorrow I feel when I think of our country, than our country is for my sorrow at home. I am therefore looking forward all the more eagerly to your coming, and long to see you as early as that may possibly be; no greater alleviation can be offered me than a meeting between us for friendly intercourse and conversation. I hope however that your return is to take place, as I hear it is, very shortly. As for myself, while there are abundant reasons for wanting to see you as soon as possible, my principal one is in order that we may discuss together beforehand the best method of conduct for present circumstances, which must entirely be adapted to the wishes of one man only, a man nevertheless who is far-seeing and generous, and also, as I think I have thoroughly ascertained, to me not at all ill-disposed and to you extremely friendly. But admitting this, it is still a matter for much deliberation what is the line,—I do not say of action, but of keeping quiet,—that we ought by his good leave and favor to adopt. Farewell.  2
 
 
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