Cicero Fam. 7.10: legi tuas litteras ex quibus intellexi

by Tom Gardner


legi tuas litteras ex quibus intellexi te Caesari nostro valde iure consultum videri. est quod gaudeas te in ista loca venisse, ubi aliquid sapere viderere. quod si in Britanniam quoque profectus esses, profecto nemo in illa tanta insula peritior te fuisset. verum tamen (rideamus licet; sum enim a te invitatus) subinvideo tibi ultro etiam accersitum ab eo, ad quem ceteri non propter superbiam eius sed propter occupationem aspirare non possunt.

sed tu in ista epistula nihil mihi scripsisti de tuis rebus, quae me hercule mihi non minori curae sunt quam meae. valde metuo ne frigeas in hibernis. quam ob rem camino luculento utendum censeo (idem Mucio et Manilio placebat), praesertim qui sagis non abundares. quamquam vos nunc istic satis calere audio; quo quidem nuntio valde me hercule de te timueram. sed tu in re militari multo es cautior quam in advocationibus, qui neque in Oceano natare volueris studiosissimus homo natandi neque spectare essedarios, quem antea ne andabata quidem defraudare poteramus. sed iam satis iocati sumus.

ego de te ad Caesarem quam diligenter scripserim, tute scis, quam saepe, ego; sed me hercule iam intermiseram, ne viderer liberalissimi hominis meique amantissimi voluntati erga me diffidere. sed tamen iis litteris, quas proxime dedi, putavi esse hominem commonendum. id feci; quid profecerim, facias me velim certiorem et simul de toto statu tuo consiliisque omnibus; scire enim cupio quid agas, quid exspectes, quam longum istum tuum discessum a nobis futurum putes.

sic enim tibi persuadeas velim, unum mihi esse solacium qua re facilius possim pati te esse sine nobis, si tibi esse id emolumento sciam; sin autem id non est, nihil duobus nobis est ‘stultius, me, qui te non Romam attraham, te, qui non huc advoles. una me hercule nostra vel severa vel iocosa congressio pluris erit quam non modo hostes, sed etiam fratres nostri Haedui. qua re omnibus de rebus fac ut quam primum sciam.

aut consolando aut consilio aut re iuvero.

Cicero to Trebatius. Rome, December 54 BC.

I have read your letter, from which I learnt that our friend Caesar thinks you are a formidable lawyer. It’s something to be glad about that you’ve arrived in places where you appear somewhat knowledgeable. If you’d gone on to Britain too, you would have found nobody more expert in that great island. Be that as it may (I’m free to laugh, as you invited me to), I’m a bit jealous that you were summoned by the man whom others can’t hope to approach, not because he is haughty, but because he is so busy.

But you said nothing in your letter to me about your affairs, and, by God, they don’t concern me any less than my own. I am very afraid that you’ll freeze in the winter; this is why I propose the use of a nice bright fireplace. Muncius and Manilius concur with my advice, especially on the ground that you don’t have a great many cloaks. But now I hear that things are pretty hot for you over there! This news certainly alarmed me on your account. But you’re far more cautious as a soldier than as a lawyer, not wanting to swim in the ocean, passionate swimmer as you are, and not wanting to watch the British chariots, although before we could never cheat you out of going to watch even the blindfolded gladiators!

But that’s enough joking. You know yourself how earnestly I’ve written to Caesar about you; only I know how often. But I have ceased, so it doesn’t look like I distrust the kindness of one so gracious and so fond of me. But in my last letter I thought he needed some reminding. So I did. Please let me know what effect this had, and at the same time tell me about your general position and all your plans. For I very much want to know how you are getting on, your expectations, how long you think your absence from us will last.

Please assure yourself that the one consolation allowing me to easily bear your absence is that I know it will benefit you. But if that isn’t the case, nothing is stupider than us two: me for not dragging you back to Rome, you for not hurrying way back here. By God, one meeting between us, whether serious or jovial, will be worth not just more than the enemy, but more than our brothers the Haedui. So let me know all these things as soon as possible.

‘By comfort or by counsel or by some means, I shall help you.’