Letters to Atticus/3.12

To Atticus at RomeEdit

Thessalonica, 17 July 58 BCEdit

Well, you argue earnestly as to what hope is to be entertained, and especially through the action of the senate, and yet you mention that the clause of the bill is being posted up, in virtue of which the subject is forbidden to be mentioned in the senate. Accordingly, not a word is said about it. In these circumstances you find fault with me for distressing myself, when the fact is I am already more distressed than anybody ever was, as you know very well. You hold out hope as a consequence of the elections. What hope can there be with the same man tribune, and a consul-designate who is my enemy?[1] But you have dealt me a blow in what you say about my speech having got abroad.[2] Pray do your best to heal that wound, as you express it. I did indeed write one some time ago, in a fit of anger at what he had first composed against me; but I had taken such pains to suppress it, that I thought it would never get into circulation. How it has leaked out I cannot think. But since the occasion never arose for my having a word of dispute with him, and since it appears to me to be more carelessly written than my other speeches, I think it might be maintained not to be by me. Pray look after this if you think I can do anything to remedy the mischief; but if my ruin is inevitable, I don't so much care about it. I am still lying idle in the same place, without conversation, without being able to think. Though, as you say, I have "intimated" to you my desire that you should come to me, yet it is now clear to me[3] that you are doing me useful service where you are, but could not give me even a word of relief here. I cannot write any more, nor have I anything to say: I am rather waiting to hear from you all. Thessalonica, 17 July.


  1. Clodius was not re-elected, and Q. Caecilius Metellus Nepos, who had as tribune (B.C. 63-62) been hostile to Cicero, now as consul supported Pompey in befriending Cicero.
  2. The speech in the senate in Curionem et Clodium, i.e., against the elder C. Curio, who had been Clodius's advocate in B.C. 61 on the charge de incesto. Fragments only of it are preserved. They are sufficiently violent. Cicero suggests repudiating the authorship, because the speech had never been delivered, and therefore was not necessarily intended for publication. There is no special reason for abusing Cicero's character on this account. If some enemy had got hold of the MS. and published it without his consent, it was not really the expression of his deliberate sentiments.
  3. Reading nunc tamen intellego for si donatam ut intellego, which is meaningless. There may be latent in si donatam some proper name, as Dodonam or Macedoniam, but it is not possible to extract it now. Istic, as usual, means "where you are," i.e., at Rome.