I WAS doubly charmed by your letter, first because it made me laugh myself, and secondly because I saw that you could still laugh. Nor did I in the least object to being overwhelmed with your shafts of ridicule, as though I were a light skirmisher in the war of wits. What I am vexed at is that I have not been able, as I intended, to run over to see you: for you would not have had a mere guest, but a brother-in-arms. And such a hero! not the man whom you used to do for by the hors d'aeuvre. I now bring an unimpaired appetite to the egg, and so the fight is maintained right up to the roast veal. The compliments you used to pay me in old times "What a contented person !" "What an easy guest to entertain !" are things of the past. All my anxiety about the good of the state, all meditating of speeches to be delivered in the senate, all getting up of briefs I have cast to the winds. I have thrown myself into the camp of my old enemy Epicurus not, however, with a view to the extravagance of the present day, but to that refined splendour of yours I mean your old style when you had money to spend (though you never had more landed estate). Therefore prepare! You have to deal with a man, who not only has a large appetite, but who also knows a thing or two. You are aware of the extravagance of your bourgeois gentilhomtne. You must forget all your little baskets and your omelettes. I am now far advanced in the art that I frequently venture to ask your friend Verrius and Camillus to dinner--what dandies! how fastidious! But think of my audacity: I even gave Hirtius a dinner, without a peacock however. In that dinner my cook could not imitate him in anything but the hot sauce.
So this is my way of life nowadays: in the morning I receive not only a large number of "loyalists," who, however, look gloomy enough, but also our exultant conquerors here, who in my case are quite prodigal in polite and affectionate attentions. When the stream of morning callers has ebbed, I wrap myself up in my books, either writing or reading. There are also some visitors who listen to my discourses under the belief of my being a man of learning, because I am a trifle more learned than themselves. After that all my time is given to my bodily comfort. I have mourned for my country more deeply and longer than any mother for her only son. But take care, if you love me, to keep your health, lest I should take advantage of your being laid up to eat you out of house and home. For I am resolved not to spare you even when you are ill.
I AM afraid you may think me remiss in my attentions to you, which, in view of our close union resulting from many mutual services and kindred tastes, ought never to be lacking. In spite of that I fear you do find me wanting in the matter of writing. The fact is, I would have sent you a letter long ago and on frequent occasions, had I not, from expecting day after day to have sonic better news for you, wished to fill my letter with congratulation rather than with exhortations to courage. As it is, I shall shortly, I hope, have to congratulate you: and so I put off that subject for a letter to another time. But imi this letter I think that your courage-- which I am told and hope is not at all shaken--ought to be repeatedly braced by the authority of a man, who, if not the wisest in the world, is yet the most devoted to you: and that not with such words as I should use to console one utterly crushed and bereft of all hope of restoration, but as to one of whose rehabilitation I have no more doubt than I remember that you had of mine. For when those men had driven me from the Republic, who thought that it could not fall while I was on my feet, I remember hearing from many visitors from Asia, in which country you then were, that you were emphatic as to my glorious and rapid restoration. If that system, so to speak, of Tuscan augury which you had inherited from your noble and excellent father did not deceive you, neither will our power of divination deceive me; which I have acquired from the writings and maxims of the greatest savants, and, as you know, by a very diligent study of their teaching, as well as by an extensive experience in managing public business, and from the great vicissitudes of fortune which I have encountered. And this divination I am the more inclined to trust, from the fact that it never once deceived me in the late troubles, in spite of their obscurity and confusion. I would have told you what events I foretold, were I not afraid to be thought to be making up a story after the event Yet, after all, I have numberless witnesses to the fact that I warned Pompey not to form a union with Caesar, and afterwards not to sever it. By this union I saw that the power of the senate would be broken, by its severance a civil war be provoked. And yet I was very intimate with Caesar, and had a very great regard for Pompey, but my advice was at once loyal to Pompey and in the best interests of both alike. My other predictions I pass over; for I would not have Caaesar think that I gave Pompey advice, by which, if he had followed it, Caesar himself would have now been a man of illustrious character in the state indeed, and the first man in it, but yet not in possession of the great power he now wields. I gave it as my opinion that he should go to Spain; and if he had done so, there would have been no civil war at all. That Caesar should be allowed to stand for the consulship in his absence I did not so much contend to be constitutional as that, since the law had been passed by the people at the instance of Pompey himself when consul, it should be done. The pretext for hostilities was given. What advice or remonstrance did I omit, when urging that any peace, even the most inequitable, should be preferred to the most righteous war? My advice was overruled, not so much by Pompey--for he was affected by it--as by those who, relying on him as a military leader, thought that a victory in that war would be highly conducive to their private interests and personal ambitions. The war was begun without my taking any active part in it; it was forcibly removed from Italy, while I remained there as long as I could. But honour had greater weight with me than fear: I had scruples about failing to support Pompey's safety, when on a certain occasion he had not failed to support mine. Accordingly, overpowered by a feeling of duty, or by what the loyalists would say, or by a regard for my honor--whichever you please--like Amphiarus in the play, I went deliberately, and fully aware of what I was doing, "to ruin full displayed before my eyes." In this war there was not a single disaster that I did not foretell. Therefore, since, after the manner of augurs and astrologers, I too, as a state augur, have by my previous predictions established the credit of my prophetic power and knowledge of divination in your eyes, my prediction will justly claim to be believed. Well, then, the prophecy I now give you does not rest on the flight of a bird nor the note of a bird of good omen on the left--according to the system of our augural college--nor from the normal and audible pattering of the corn of the sacred chickens. I have other signs to note; and if they are not more infallible than those, yet after all they are less obscure or misleading. Now omens as to the future are observed by me in what I may call a twofold method: the one I deduce from Caesar himself, the other from the nature and complexion of the political situation. Caesar's characteristics are these: a disposition naturally placable and clement--as delineated in your brilliant book of "Grievances"--and a great liking also for superior talent, such as your own. Besides this, he is relenting at the expressed wishes of a large number of your friends, which are well-grounded and inspired by affection. not hollow and self-seeking. Under this head the unanimous feeling of Etruria will have great influence on him.
Why, then--you may ask--have these things as yet had no effect? Why, because he thinks if he grants you yours, he cannot resist the applications of numerous petitioners with whom to all appearance he has juster grounds for anger. "What hope, then," you will say, "from an angry man?" Why, he knows very well that he will draw deep draughts of praise from the same fountain, from which he has been already--though sparingly--bespattered. Lastly, he is a man very acute and farseeing: he knows very well that a man like you--far and away the greatest noble in an important district of Italy, and in the state at large the equal of anyone of your generation, however eminent, whether in ability or popularity or reputation among the Roman people--cannot much longer be debarred from taking part in public affairs. He will be unwilling that you should, as you would sooner or later, have time to thank for this rather than his favour.
So much for Caesar. Now I will speak of the nature of the actual situation. There is no one so bitterly opposed to the cause, which Pompey undertook with better intentions than provisions, as to venture to call us bad citizens or dishonest men. On this head I am always struck with astonishment at Caesar's sobriety, fairness, and wisdom. He never speaks of Pompey except in the most respectful terms. "But," you will say, "in regard to him as a public man his actions have often been bitter enough." Those were acts of war and victory, not of Caesar. But see with what open arms he has received us! Cassius he has made his legate; Brutus governor of Gaul; Sulpicius of Greece; Marcellus, with whom he was more angry than with anyone, he has restored with the utmost consideration for his rank. To what, then, does all this tend? The nature of things and of the political situation will not suffer, nor will any constitutional theory--whether it remain as it is or is changed--permit, first, that the civil and personal position of all should not be alike when the merits of their cases are the same; and, secondly, that good men and good citizens of unblemished character should not return to a state, into which so many have returned after having been condemned of atrocious crimes. That is my prediction. If I had felt any doubt about it I would not have employed it in preference to a consolation which would have easily enabled me to support a man of spirit. It is this. If you had taken up arms for the Republic--for so you then thought--with the full assurance of victory, you would not deserve special commendation. But if, in view of the uncertainty attaching to all wars, you had taken into consideration the possibility of our being beaten, you ought not, while fully prepared to face success, to be yet utterly unable to endure failure. I would have urged also what a consolation the consciousness of your action, what a delightful distraction in adversity, literature ought to be. I would have recalled to your mind the signal disasters not only of men of old times, but of those of our own day also, whether they were your leaders or your comrades. I would even have named many cases of illustrious foreigners: for the recollection of what I may call a common law and of the conditions of human existence softens grief. I would also have explained the nature of our life here in Rome, how bewildering the disorder, how universal the chaos: for it must needs cause less regret to be absent from a state in disruption, than from one well-ordered. But there is no occasion for anything of this sort. I shall soon see you, as I hope, or rather as I clearly perceive, in enjoyment of your civil rights. Meanwhile, to you in your absence, as also to your son who is here--the express image of your soul and person, and a man of unsurpassable firmness and excellence--I have long ere this both promised and tendered practically my zeal, duty, exertions, and labours: all the more so now that Caesar daily receives me with more open arms, while his intimate friends distinguish me above everyone. Any influence or favour I may gain with him I will employ in your service. Be sure, for your part, to support yourself not only with courage, but also with the brightest hopes.
SERVIUS SULPICIUS TO CICERO (AT ASTURA)
WHEN I received the news of your daughter Tullia's death, I -was indeed much grieved and distressed as I was bound to be, and looked upon it as a calamity in which I shared. For, if I had been at home, I should not have failed to be at your side, and should have made my sorrow plain to you face to face. That kind of consolation involves much distress and pain, because the relations and friends, whose part it is to offer it, are themselves overcome by an equal sorrow. They cannot attempt it without many tears, so that they seem to require consolation themselves rather than to be able to afford it to others. Still I have decided to set down briefly for your benefit such thoughts as have occurred to my mind, not because I suppose them to be unknown to you, but because your sorrow may perhaps hinder you from being so keenly alive to them.
Why is it that a private grief should agitate you so deeply? Think how fortune has hitherto dealt with us. Reflect that we have had snatchcd from us what ought to be no less dear to human beings than their children--country, honour, rank, every political distinction. What additional wound to your feelings could be inflicted by this particular loss? Or where is the heart that should not by this time have lost all sensibility and learn to regard everything else as of minor importance? Is it on her account, pray, that you sorrow? How many times have you recurred to the thought--and I have often been struck with the same idea--that in times like these theirs is far from being the worst fate to whom it has been granted to exchange life for a painless death? Now what was there at such an epoch that could greatly tempt her to live? What scope, what hope, what heart's solace? That she might spend her life with some young and distinguished husband? How impossible for a man of your rank to select from the present generation of young men a son-in-law, to whose honour you might think yourself safe in trusting your child! Was it that she might bear children to cheer her with the sight of their vigorous youth? who might by their own character maintain the position handed down to them by their parent, might be expected to sta~id for the offices in their order, might exercise their freedom in supporting their friends? What single one of these prospects has not been taken away before it was given? But, it will be said, after all it is an evil to lose one's children. Yes, it is: only it is a worse one to endure and submit to the present state of things.