Letters to Atticus/4.5

Translated by Evelyn Shuckburgh

To Atticus at RomeEdit

Antium, April 56 BCEdit

Do you really mean it? Do you think that there is anyone by whom I prefer to have what I write read and approved of before yourself? "Why, then, did I send it to anyone before you?" I was pressed by the man to whom I sent it, and had no copy. And—well! I am nibbling at what I must, after all, swallow—my "recantation"[1] did seem to me a trifle discreditable! But good-bye to straightforward, honest, and high-minded policy! One could scarcely believe the amount of treachery there is in those leaders of the state, as they wish to be, and might be, if they had any principle of honour in them. I had felt it, known it—taken in, abandoned, and cast aside by them, as I had been! and yet my purpose still was to stick by them in politics. They were the same men as they ever had been. At last, on your advice, my eyes have been opened. You will say that your advice only extended to action, not to writing also. The truth is that I wanted to bind myself to this new combination, that I might have no excuse for slipping back to those who, even at a time when I could claim their compassion, never cease being jealous of me. However, I kept within due limits in my subject, when I did put pen to paper. I shall launch out more copiously if he shews that he is glad to receive it, and those make wry faces who are angry at my possessing the villa which once belonged to Catulus, without reflecting that I bought it from Vettius: who say that I ought not to have built a town house, and declare that I ought to have sold. But what is all this to the fact that, when I have delivered senatorial speeches in agreement with their own views, their chief pleasure has yet been that I spoke contrary to Pompey's wishes? Let us have an end of it. Since those who have no power refuse me their affection, let us take care to secure the affection of those who have power. You will say, "I could have wished that you had done so before." I know you did wish it, and that I have made a real ass of myself. But now the time has Come to shew a little affection for myself, since I can get none from them on any terms.

I am much obliged to you for frequently going to see my house. Crassipes[2] swallows up my money for travelling. Tullia will go straight to your suburban villa.[3] That seems the more convenient plan. Consequently she will be at your town house the next day: for what can it matter to you? But we shall see. Your men have beautified my library by making up the books and appending title-slips. Please thank them.


  1. palinôidia—something he had apparently written and sent to Pompey or Caesar, giving in his adhesion to the policy of the triumvirs. It can hardly have been the speech de Provinciis Consularibus or the oratio pro Balbo, which had probably not yet been delivered, for the arrangement recommended in the former speech was not that of the conference of Luca, while in the latter, though he speaks respectfully of Caesar, there is nothing in the shape of a palinode in general politics.
  2. That is, the dowry and expenses of Tullia's betrothal to Crassipes.
  3. Tullia de via recta in hortos, for tu, etc., and ad te postridie. This may not be right, but no other suggestions as to the meaning of these abrupt clauses have been made which are in the least convincing. We must suppose that Atticus has asked Tullia to stay with him and his wife Pilia, and Cicero is describing her journey from Antium.