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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From Cicero’s Correspondents
By Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 B.C.)
 
          IT seems desirable to add a few letters by other hands than Cicero’s, to indicate the manifold side-lights thrown on the inner history of this intensely interesting period. Sulpicius’s famous attempt at consolation has already been given above. Two brief letters by Cæsar will illustrate the dictator’s marvelous ability to comprehend and control other men. Pompey’s gruff rudeness forms a contrast which is hardly accidental on the editor’s part. Cælius’s wit is biting as ever; and lastly, Matius’s protest against being persecuted merely because he, who loved Cæsar, openly mourned for his dead friend, has an unconscious tone of simple heroism unequaled in the entire correspondence.
WILLIAM CRANSTON LAWTON.    


Cæsar to Cicero

YOU know me too well not to keep up your character as an Augur by divining that nothing is more entirely alien from my nature than cruelty: I will add that while my decision is in itself a great source of pleasure to me, to find my conduct approved by you is a triumph of gratification. Nor does the fact at all disturb me that those people whom I have set at liberty are reported to have gone their ways only to renew the attack upon me; because there is nothing I wish more than that I may ever be as true to my own character as they to theirs.
  1
  May I hope that you will be near town when I am there, so that I may as usual avail myself in everything of your advice and means of assistance? Let me assure you that I am charmed beyond everything with your relation Dolabella, to whom I shall acknowledge myself indeed indebted for this obligation; for his kindliness is so great, and his feeling and affection for me are such, that he cannot possibly do otherwise.  2
 
Cæsar to Cicero

THOUGH I had fully made up my mind that you would do nothing rashly, nothing imprudently, still I was so far impressed by the rumors in some quarters as to think it my duty to write to you, and ask it as a favor due to our mutual regard that you will not take any step, now that the scale is so decisively turned, which you would not have thought it necessary to take even though the balance still stood firm. For it will really be both a heavier blow to our friendship, and a step on your part still less judicious for yourself, if you are to be thought not even to have bowed the knee to success—for things seem to have fallen out as entirely favorably for us as disastrously for them; nor yet to have been drawn by attachment to a particular cause—for that has undergone no change since you decided to remain aloof from their counsels;—but to have passed a stern judgment on some act of mine, than which, from you, no more painful thing could befall me; and I claim the right of our friendship to entreat that you will not take this course.
  3
  Finally, what more suitable part is there for a good peace-loving man, and a good citizen, than to keep aloof from civil dissensions? There were not a few who admired this course, but could not adopt it by reason of its danger: you, after having duly weighed both the conclusions of friendship and the unmistakable evidence of my whole life, will find that there is no safer nor more honorable course than to keep entirely aloof from the struggle.  4
 
Pompey to Cicero

TO-DAY, the 10th of February, Fabius Vergilianus has joined me. From him I learn that Domitius with his eleven cohorts, and fourteen cohorts that Vibullius has brought up, is on his way to me. His intention was to start from Corfinium on the 13th, Hirrus to follow soon after with five of the cohorts. I decide that you are to come to us at Luceria; here, I think, you will be most in safety.
  5
 
Cælius in Rome to Cicero in Cilicia

THE CAPTURE of his Parthian Majesty and the storming of Seleuceia itself had not been enough to compensate for missing the sight of our doings here. Your eyes would never have ached again if you had only seen the face of Domitius when he was not elected! The election was important, and it was quite clear that party feeling determined the side which people took: only a few could be brought to acknowledge the claims of friendship. Consequently Domitius is so furious with me that he scarcely hates any of his most intimate friends as much as he does me; and all the more because he thinks that it was to do him wrong that his hopes of being in the College of Augurs are snatched away, and that I am responsible for it. He is savage now to see everybody so delighted at his mortification, and myself more active than anybody, with one exception, on behalf of Antonius.
  6
  As to political prospects, I have often mentioned to you that I do not see any chance of peace lasting a year; and the nearer that struggle which must infallibly take place, is drawing to us, the more manifest does its danger become. The point at issue about which our lords and masters are going to fight is this: Pompeius has absolutely determined not to allow Cæsar to be elected consul on any terms except a previous resignation of his army and his government, while Cæsar is convinced that he must inevitably fall if he separates himself from his army. He offers however this compromise, that they should both of them resign their armies. So you see their great affection for one another and their much-abused alliance has not even dwindled down into suppressed jealousy, but has broken out into open war. Nor can I discover what is the wisest course to take in my own interests: a question which I make no doubt will give much trouble to you also. For while I have both interest and connections among those who are on one side, on the other too it is the cause and not the men themselves I dislike. You are not, I feel sure, blind to the fact that where parties are divided within a country, we are bound, so long as the struggle is carried on with none but constitutional weapons, to support the more honorable cause, but when we come to blows and to open war, then the safer one; and to count that cause the better which is the less likely to be dangerous. In the present division of feeling I see that Pompeius will have the Senate and all judicially minded people on his side; those who have everything to dread and little to hope for will flock to Cæsar: the army is not to be compared. On the whole, we have plenty of time for balancing the strength of parties and making our decision.  7
  I had all but forgotten my principal reason for writing. Have you heard of the wonderful doings of our censor Appius—how he is rigorously inquiring into our statues and pictures, our amount of land, and our debts? He has persuaded himself that his censorship is a moral soap or toilet powder. He is wrong, I take it; for while he only wants to wash off the dirt, he is really laying bare his veins and his flesh. Heaven and earth! you must run, and come to laugh at the things here—Appius questioning about pictures and statues. You must make haste, I assure you.  8
  Our friend Curio is thought to have acted wisely in giving way about the pay of Pompeius’s troops. If I must sum up my opinion, as you ask, about what will happen—unless one or other of them consents to go and fight the Parthians, I see a great split impending, which will be settled by the sword and by force; each is well inclined for this and well equipped. If it could only be without danger to yourself, you would find this a great and most attractive drama which Fortune is rehearsing.  9
 
Matius to Cicero

I RECEIVED great pleasure from your letter, because I found that your opinion of me was what I had hoped and wished it to be; not that I was in any doubt about it, but for the very reason that I valued it so highly, I was most anxious that it should remain unimpaired. Conscious however that I had done nothing which could give offense to the feelings of any good citizen, I was naturally the less inclined to believe that you, adorned as you are with so many excellences of the most admirable kind, could have allowed yourself to be convinced of anything on mere idle report; particularly seeing that you were a friend for whom my spontaneous attachment had been and still was unbroken. And knowing now that it has been as I hoped, I will answer those attacks which you have often opposed on my behalf, as was fairly to be expected from your well-known generosity and the friendship existing between us.
  10
  For I am well aware of all they have been heaping on me since Cæsar’s death. They make it a reproach against me that I go heavily for the loss of a friend, and think it cruel that one whom I loved should have fallen, because, say they, country must be put before friends—as though they have hitherto been successful in proving that his death really was the gain of the commonwealth. But I will not enter any subtle plea; I admit that I have not attained to your higher grades of philosophy: for I have neither been a partisan of Cæsar in our civil dissensions,—though I did not abandon my friend even when his action was a stumbling-block to me,—nor did I ever give my approval to the civil war, or even to the actual ground of quarrel, of which indeed I earnestly desired that the first sparks should be trampled out. And so in the triumph of a personal friend I was never ensnared by the charms either of place or of money; prizes which have been recklessly abused by the rest, though they had less influence with him than I had. I may even say that my own private property was impaired by that act of Cæsar, thanks to which many of those who are rejoicing at Cæsar’s death continued to live in their own country. That our defeated fellow countrymen should be spared was as much an object to me as my own safety. Is it possible then for me, who wanted all to be left uninjured, not to feel indignation that he by whom this was secured is dead? above all when the very same men were the cause at once of his unpopularity and his untimely end. You shall smart then, say they, since you dare to disapprove of our deed. What unheard of insolence! One man then may boast of a deed, which another is not even allowed to lament without punishment. Why, even slaves have always been free of this—to feel their fears, their joys, their sorrows as their own, and not at anybody else’s dictation; and these are the very things which now, at least according to what your “liberators” have always in their mouths, they are trying to wrest from us by terrorism. But they try in vain. There is no danger which has terrors enough ever to make me desert the side of gratitude or humanity; for never have I thought that death in a good cause is to be shunned, often indeed that it deserves to be courted. But why are they inclined to be enraged with me, if my wishes are simply that they may come to regret their deed, desiring as I do that Cæsar’s death may be felt to be untimely by us all? It is my duty as a citizen to desire the preservation of the constitution? Well, unless both my life in the past and all my hopes for the future prove without any words of mine that I do earnestly desire this, I make no demand to prove it by my professions.  11
  To you therefore I make a specially earnest appeal to let facts come before assertions, and to take my word for it that, if you feel that honesty is the best policy, it is impossible I should have any association with lawless villains. Or can you believe that the principles I pursued in the days of my youth, when even error could pass with some excuse, I shall renounce now that I am going down the hill, and with my own hands unravel all the web of my life? That I will not do; nor yet will I commit any act that could give offense, beyond the fact that I do lament the sad fall of one who was to me the dearest friend and the most illustrious of men. But were I otherwise disposed, I would never deny what I was doing, lest it should be thought I was at once shameless in doing wrong and false and cowardly in dissembling it.  12
  But then I undertook the management of those games which Cæsar’s heir celebrated for Cæsar’s victory? Well, this is a matter which belongs to one’s private obligations, not to any political arrangement; it was however in the first place a tribute of respect which I was called upon to pay to the memory and the eminent position of a man whom I dearly loved, even though he was dead, and also one that I could not refuse at the request of a young man so thoroughly promising, and so worthy in every way of Cæsar as he is.  13
  Again, I have frequently paid visits of compliment to the consul Antonius. And you will find that the very men who think me but a lukewarm patriot are constantly going to his house in crowds, actually for the purpose of soliciting or carrying away some favor. But what a monstrous claim it is, that while Cæsar never laid any such embargo as this to prevent me from associating freely with anybody I pleased,—even if they were people whom he personally did not like,—these men who have robbed me of my friend should attempt by malicious insinuations to prevent my showing a kindness to whomsoever I will!  14
  I have however no fear that the moderation of my life will hereafter prove an insufficient defense against false insinuations, and that even those who do not love me, because of my loyalty to Cæsar, would not rather have their own friend imitate me than themselves. Such of life as remains to me, at least if I succeed in what I desire, I shall spend in quiet at Rhodes; but if I find that some chance has put a stop to this, I shall simply live at Rome as one who is always desirous that right should be done.  15
  I am deeply grateful to our good friend Trebatius for having thus disclosed to me your sincere and friendly feeling, and given me even an additional reason for honoring and paying respect to one whom it has always been a pleasure to me to regard as a friend. Farewell heartily, and let me have your esteem.  16
 
 
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