Letters to Atticus/4.8a

To Atticus at RomeEdit

Arpinum, April-May 56 BCEdit

There were many things in your letter which pleased me, but nothing more than your "dish of cheese and salt fish"![1] For as to what you say about the sale,

Boast not yourself before you see the end,[2]

I can find nothing in the way of a building for you in the neighbourhood. In the town there is something of the sort, though it is doubtful whether it is for sale, and, in fact, close to my own house. Let me tell you that Antium is the Buthrotum of Rome, just what your Buthrotum is to Corcyra. Nothing can be quieter, cooler, or prettier—"be this mine own dear home."[3] Moreover, since Tyrannio has arranged my books for me, my house seems to have had a soul added to it; in which matter your Dionysius and Menophilus were of wonderful service. Nothing can be more charming than those bookcases of yours, since the title-slips have shewn off the books. Good-bye. I should like you to write me word about the gladiators, but only if they fight well, I don't want to know about them if they were failures.


  1. We must suppose Atticus to have mentioned some money loss (see last letter), and to have added that, though a ruinous one, his tastes were simple, and he could live on simple fare. Cicero laughs at the affectation of the rich Atticus. Raudusculum, "a piece of bronze," was the ancient term for the piece of bronze money used in sales, per as et libram (Varro, L. 50.5.163).
  2. mêpô meg' eipêis prin teleutêsant' idêis, "Do not boast till you see a man dead"—a well-known line from a lost play of Sophocles, containing a sentiment elsewhere often repeated, especially in Herodotus's account of the interview of Solon and Croesus.
  3. eiê moi houtos philos oikos, according to a probable restoration of the Greek words (instead of eiê misêtos philos oikos, "I might even hate my town house in comparison"); cp. Hor. Od. 2.6, 7.