Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Terentia, Tullia and young Cicero at RomeEdit

Partly written at Thessalonica, partly at Dyrrachium, 28 November 58 BCEdit

Greetings to his Terentia, Tulliola, and Cicero. I learn, both from the letters of many and the conversation of all whom I meet, that you are shewing a virtue and courage surpassing belief; and that you give no sign of fatigue in mind or body from your labours. Ah me! To think that a woman of your virtue, fidelity, uprightness, and kindness should have fallen into such troubles on my account! And that my little Tullia should reap such a harvest of sorrow from the father, from whom she used to receive such abundant joys! For why mention my boy Cicero, who from the first moment of conscious feeling has been made aware of the bitterest sorrows and miseries? And if, as you say, I had thought these things the work of destiny, I could have borne them somewhat more easily, but they were really all brought about by my own fault, in thinking myself beloved by those who were really jealous of me, and in not joining those who really wanted me.[1] But if I had followed my own judgment, and had not allowed the observations of friends, who were either foolish or treacherous, to have such great influence with me, we should have been living at the height of bliss. As it is, since friends bid us hope, I will do my best to prevent my weakness of health from failing to second your efforts. I fully understand the magnitude of the difficulty, and how much easier it will turn out to have been to stay at home than to get back. However, if we have all the tribunes on our side, if we find Lentulus as zealous as he appears to be, if, finally, we have Pompey and Caesar, there is no reason to despair. About our slaves,[2] we will do what you say is the opinion of our friends. As to this place, by this time the epidemic has taken its departure; but while it lasted, it did not touch me. Plancius, the kindest of men, desires me to stay with him and still keeps me from departing. I wanted to be in a less frequented district in Epirus, to which neither Hispo[3] nor soldiers would come, but as yet Plancius keeps me from going; he hopes that he may possibly quit his province for Italy in my company. And if ever I see that day, and come once more into your arms, and if I ever recover you all and myself, I shall consider that I have reaped a sufficient harvest both of your piety and my own. Piso's[4] kindness, virtue, and affection toward us all are so great that nothing can surpass them. I hope his conduct may be a source of pleasure to him, a source of glory I see clearly that it will be. I did not mean to find fault with you about my brother Quintus, but I wished that you all, especially considering how few there are of you, should be as closely united as possible. Those whom you wished me to thank I have thanked, and told them that my information came from you. As to what you say in your letter, my dear Terentia, about your intention of selling the village, alas! in heaven's name, what will become of you? And if the same ill-fortune continues to pursue us, what will become of our poor boy? I cannot write the rest--so violent is my outburst of weeping, and I will not reduce you to the same tearful condition. I only add this: if my friends remain loyal to me, there will be no lack of money; if not, you will not be able to effect our object out of your own purse. In the name of our unhappy fortunes, beware how we put the finishing stroke to the boy's ruin. If he has something to keep him from absolute want, he will need only moderate character and moderate luck to attain the rest. See to your health, and mind you send me letter-carriers, that I may know what is going on and what you are all doing. I have in any case only a short time to wait. Give my love to Tulliola and Cicero. Good-bye.

Dyrrachium,[5] 27 November. P.S.-I have come to Dyrrachium both because it is a free state, very kindly disposed to me, and the nearest point to Italy.[6] But if the crowded condition of the place offends me, I shall take myself elsewhere and I will write you word.


  1. The party of the triumvirs.
  2. See Letter Author:Marcus Tullius Cicero/Letters/LXI.
  3. A centurion or other officer in the army of Piso crossing to Macedonia. But the name is otherwise unknown, and some have thought that it is an intentional disguise for the name of Piso himself.
  4. Cicero's son-in-law.
  5. The greater part of this letter was evidently written at Thessalonica. Cicero appears to have put the date and place of departure to it after arriving at Dyrrachium, and then added a postscript to explain why he had come there.
  6. As a libera civitas Dyrrachium had the jus exilii, and would not be filled with Roman officials. The crowded state of the town--by which Cicero means crowded with Romans--would arise from its being the usual place of disembarcation from Rome across the north of the Greek peninsula to the East. There was doubtless always a large traffic between it and Brundisium, but at this time of year, when sailing would be, if possible, avoided, he might hope to find it somewhat less crowded.