Letters to his brother Quintus/1.4

Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Q. Tullius Cicero at RomeEdit

Thessalonica, August 58 BCEdit

I beg you, my dear brother, if you and all my family have been ruined by my single misfortune, not to attribute it to dishonesty and bad conduct on my part, rather than to shortsightedness and the wretched state I was in. I have committed no fault except in trusting those whom I believed to be bound by the most sacred obligation not to deceive me, or whom I thought to be even interested in not doing so. All my most intimate, nearest and dearest friends were either alarmed for themselves or jealous of me: the result was that all I lacked was good faith on the part of my friends and caution on my own.[1] 1 But if your own blameless character and the compassion of the world prove sufficient to preserve you at this juncture from molestation, you can, of course, observe whether any hope of restoration is left for me. For Pomponius, Sestius, and my son-in-law Piso have caused me as yet to stay at Thessalonica, forbidding me, on account of certain impending movements, to increase my distance. But in truth I am awaiting the result more on account of their letters than from any firm hope of my own. For what can I hope with an enemy possessed of the most formidable power, with my detractors masters of the state, with friends unfaithful, with numbers of people jealous? However, of the new tribunes there is one, it is true, most warmly attached to me--Sestius--and I hope Curius, Milo, Fadius, Fabricius; but still there is Clodius in violent opposition, who even when out of office will be able to stir up the passions of the mob by the help of that same gang, and then there will be found some one also to veto the bill. Such a state of things was not put before me when I was leaving Rome, but I often used to be told that I was certain to return in three days with the greatest éclat. "What made you go, then?" you will say. What, indeed! Many circumstances concurred to throw me off my balance--the defection of Pompey, the hostility of the consuls, and of the praetors also, the timidity of the publicani, the armed bands. The tears of my friends prevented me seeking refuge in death, which would certainly have been the best thing for my honour, the best escape from unbearable sorrows. But I have written to you on this subject in the letter I gave to Phaetho. Now that you have been plunged into griefs and troubles, such as no one ever was before, if the compassion of the world can lighten our common misfortune, you will, it seems, score a success beyond belief! But if we are both utterly ruined--ah me-I shall have been the absolute destruction of my whole family, to whom I used to be at least no discredit! But pray, as I said in a previous letter to you, look into the business, test it thoroughly, and write to me with the candour which our situation demands, and not as your affection for me would dictate. I shall retain my life as long as I shall think that it is in your interest for me to do so, or that it ought to be preserved with a view to future hope. You will find Sestius most friendly to us, and I believe that Lentulus, the coming consul, will also be so for your sake. However, deeds are not so easy as words. You will see what is wanted and what the truth is. On the whole, supposing that no one takes advantage of your unprotected position and our common calamity, it is by your means, or not at all, that something may be effected. But even if your enemies have begun to annoy you, don't flinch: for you will be attacked by legal process, not by swords. However, I hope that this may not occur. I beg you to write me back word on all subjects, and to believe that though I have less spirit and resource than in old times, I have quite as much affection and loyalty.


  1. Reading defuit for fuit.