Letters to Atticus/3.9

Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Atticus at RomeEdit

Thessalonica, 13 June 58 BCEdit

My brother Quintus having quitted Asia before the 1st of May, and arrived at Athens on the 15th, he would have to make great haste to prevent proceedings being commenced against him in his absence, supposing there to be some one who was not content with the misfortunes we have already sustained. Accordingly, I preferred that he should hurry on to Rome rather than come to me; and at the same time—for I will tell you the truth, and it will give you a notion of the extent of my wretchedness—I could not make up my mind to see him, devotedly attached to me as he is, and a man of most tender feelings, or to obtrude upon him my miseries and ruin in all their wretchedness, or to endure their being seen by him. And I was besides afraid of what certainly would have happened—that he would not have had the resolution to leave me. I had ever before my eyes the time when he would either have to dismiss his lictors, or be violently torn from my arms. The prospect of this bitter pain I have avoided by the other bitter pain of not seeing my brother. It is all you, who advised me to continue living, that have forced me into this distressful position. Accordingly, I am paying the penalty of my error. However, I am sustained by your letter, from which I easily perceive how high your own hopes are. This did give me some consolation, but only, after all, till you passed from the mention of Pompey because, though a provincial governor retained his lictors till he reached Rome, he was bound to go straight home or dismiss them. To the passage beginning "Now try and win over Hortensius and men of that sort." In heaven's name, my dear Pomponius, don't you yet perceive by whose means, by whose treachery, by whose dishonest advice, I have been ruined? But all this I will discuss with you when we meet. I will only say this much, which I think you know: it is not my enemies, but my jealous rivals, that have ruined me. Now, however, if things are really as you hope, I will keep up my spirits, and will rely upon the hope on which you bid me rely. But if, as I myself think, this proves illusory, what I was not allowed to do at the best time shall be done at a worse.[1] Terentia often expresses her gratitude to you. For myself one of my miseries also consists in fear—the business of my unhappy brother. If I could only know how it stands, I should know what I ought to do. Personally, the hope of the advantages and of the letters you mention keeps me still, as you advise, at Thessalonica. If I get any news, I shall know what I ought to do about the rest. Yes, if, as you say in your letter, you left Rome on the 1st of June, you will soon see us. I have sent you a letter which I wrote to Pompey. Thessalonica, 15 June.


  1. I.e., suicide.