Cicero Fam. 7.30: ego vero iam te nec hortor nec rogo

by Tom Gardner

CICERO CURIO Romae AUC 710

ego vero iam te nec hortor nec rogo ut domum redeas; quin hinc ipse evolare cupio et aliquo pervenire, ‘ubi nec Pelopidarum nomen nec facta audiam.’ incredibile est quam turpiter mihi facere videar, qui his rebus intersim. ne tu videris multo ante providisse quid impenderet, tum cum hinc profugisti. quamquam haec etiam auditu acerba sunt, tamen audire tolerabilius est quam videre. in campo certe non fuisti, cum hora secunda comitiis quaestoriis institutis sella Q. Maximi, quem illi consulem esse dicebant, posita esset; quo mortuo nuntiato sella sublata est. ille autem, qui comitiis tributis esset auspicatus, centuriata habuit, consulem hora septima renuntiavit, qui usque ad K. Ian. esset quae erant futurae mane postridie. ita Caninio consule scito neminem prandisse. nihil tamen eo consule mali factum est; fuit enim mirifica vigilantia, qui suo toto consulatu somnum non viderit.

haec tibi ridicula videntur; non enim ades. quae si videres, lacrimas non teneres. quid, si cetera scribam? sunt enim innumerabilia generis eiusdem; quae quidem ego non ferrem, nisi me in philosophiae portum contulissem et nisi haberem socium studiorum meorum Atticum nostrum. cuius quoniam proprium te esse scribis mancipio et nexo, meum autem usu et fructu, contentus isto sum. id enim est cuiusque proprium, quo quisque fruitur atque utitur. sed haec alias pluribus.

Acilius, qui in Graeciam cum legionibus missus est, maximo meo beneficiost (bis enim est a me iudicio capitis rebus salvis defensus) et est homo non ingratus meque vehementer observat. ad eum de te diligentissime scripsi eamque epistulam cum hac epistula coniunxi. quam ille quo modo acceperit et quid tibi pollicitus sit velim ad me scribas.

Cicero to Curius. Rome, 44 BC.

Well I don’t ask or urge you to come home anymore. I’m longing to fly off, and to arrive someplace “where I can’t hear the name or deeds of Pelopidae“. You wouldn’t believe how disgusting I feel when I meddle in these things. But you saw the writing on the wall, before you escaped.

This is harsh to hear about, but that’s still easier than seeing it happen. You weren’t in the campus for the opening of the comitia for the election of quaestors at seven in the morning. This is when the official chair of Quintus Maximus, who they had declared consul, was set in its place. Then his death was announced and the chair was put away. Then Caesar, despite taking the auspices for the comitia tributa, held a comitia centuriata, and by one o’clock had announced the election of a consul, who would hold office until the morning of the first of January — the next day! So I can inform you that nobody had lunch during the consulship of Caninius. And nothing bad happened in that consulship. In fact the consul was extraordinarily watchful, as he didn’t catch a wink of sleep in the whole consulship.

You probably think this is a joke, but you aren’t here to see it. If you saw it, you wouldn’t be able to contain your tears. What if I told you the rest? Because there are countless examples of this sort of thing. I wouldn’t be able to take it if I hadn’t turned to the refuge of philosophy and if I didn’t have my friend Atticus as a partner in my studies. Since you say he’s yours officially and by ownership, but mine in using and enjoying him. And indeed, what one uses and enjoys is his property. But more on this later.

Acilius, who was sent into Greece with the legions, is very much indebted to me (in fact I successfully defended him twice on capital charges). He isn’t an ungrateful man, and he pays me earnest respect. I have written keenly to him about you, and I’ve attached that letter to this letter. Please write and tell me how he has taken it and what he’s offered to do for you.