Letters to Atticus/2.4

To Atticus at RomeEdit

Tusculum, April 59 BCEdit

I am exceedingly obliged to you for sending me Serapio's book, of which indeed, between you and me, I scarcely understood a thousandth part. I have ordered the money for it to be paid you at once, that you may not put it down to the cost of presentation copies. But as I have mentioned the subject of money, I will beg you to try to come to a settlement with Titinius in any way you can. If he doesn't stand by his own proposal, what I should like best is that what he bought at too dear a rate should be returned, if that can be done with Pomponia's Consent: if that too is impossible, let the money be paid rather than have any difficulty. I should be very glad if you would settle this before you leave Rome, with your usual kindness and exactness.

So Clodius, you say, is for Tigranes? I only wish he would go—on the same terms as the Skepsian![1] But I don't grudge him the job; for a more convenient time for my taking a "free legation" is when my brother Quintus shall have settled down again, as I hope, into private life, and I shall have made certain how that "priest of the Bona Dea"[2] intends to behave. Meanwhile I shall find my pleasure in the Muses with a mind undisturbed, or rather glad and cheerful; for it will never occur to me to envy Crassus or to regret that I have not been false to myself. As to geography, I will try to satisfy you, but I promise nothing for certain.[3] It is a difficult business, but nevertheless, as you bid me, I will take care that this country excursion produces something for you. Mind you let me know any news you have ferreted out, and especially who you think will be the next consuls. However, I am not very curious; for I have determined not to think about politics. I have examined Terentia's woodlands. What need I say? If there was only a Dodonean oak in them, I should imagine myself to be in possession of Epirus. About the 1st of the month I shall be either at Formiae or Pompeii.[4] If I am not at Formiae, pray, an you love me, come to Pompeii. It will be a great pleasure to me and not much out of the way for you. About the wall, I have given Philotimus orders not to put any difficulty in the way of your doing whatever you please. I think, however, you had better call in Vettius.[5] In these bad times, when the life of all the best men hangs on a thread, I value one summer's enjoyment of my Palatine palaestra rather highly; but, of course, the last thing I should wish would be that Pomponia and her boy should live in fear of a falling wall.


  1. That is, if it ends in his death, for Meliodorus of Skepsis was sent by Mithridates to Tigranes to urge him to go to war with Rome, but privately advised him not to do so, and, in Consequence, was put to death by Mithridates (Plut. Luc. 22). The word Scepsii (Skêpsiou) was introduced by Gronovius for the unintelligible word Syrpie found in the MSS., which so often blunder in Greek names.
  2. Clodius, alluding to his intrusion into the mysteries.
  3. Atticus has asked Cicero for a Latin treatise on geography—probably as a publisher, Cicero being the prince of book-makers—and to that end has sent him the Greek geography of Serapio.
  4. In his Formianum or Pompeianum, his villas at Formiae and Pompeii.
  5. An architect, a freedman of Cyrus, of whom we have heard before.