Letters to Atticus/4.8b

To Atticus at RomeEdit

Tusculum, January 55 BCEdit

[1]Apenas had scarcely left me, when your letter came. Really? Do you suppose he won't propose his law?[2] Pray speak a little louder: I seem scarcely to have caught what you said. But let me know it at once, if it is all the same to you, that is! Well, since an additional day has been assigned to the games, I am all the more content to spend that day with Dionysius. About Trebonius I cordially agree with you. About Domitius,[3]

I swear by Ceres that no single fig
Was e'er so like another,

as his case to mine, either in the sameness of persons, the unexpectedness of it, or the futility of the loyalists. There is one difference—he has brought it upon himself. For as to the misfortune itself I rather think mine is the less grievous. For what could be more mortifying than that a man, who has been consul-designate, so to speak, ever since he was born, should fail in securing his election? Especially when he is the only (plebeian) candidate, or at most had but one opponent. If it is also the fact, which I rather think it is, that he[4] has in the register of his pocket-book some equally long pages of future, no less than of past consuls, what more humiliating position than our friend's, except that of the Republic? My first information about Natta[5] was from your letter: I couldn't bear the man. As to your question about my poem: what if it is all agog to escape from my hands? Well? Would you permit it? About Fabius Luscus—I was just going to speak of him: the man was always very cordial to me, and I never had any cause to dislike him; for he is intelligent, very well-behaved, and serviceable enough. As I was seeing nothing of him, I supposed him to be out of town: but was told by this fellow Gavius of Firmum, that he was at Rome, and had never been away. It made a disagreeable impression on me. "Such a trifle as that?" you will say. Well, he had told me a good deal of which there could be no doubt as to these brothers of Firmum. What it is that has made him hold aloof from me, if he has done so, I have no idea. As to your advice to me to act "diplomatically" and keep to the " outside course"—I will obey you. But I want still more worldly wisdom, for which, as usual, I shall come to you. Pray smell things out from Fabius,[6] if you can get at him, and pick the brains of your guest, and write me word on these points and all others every day. When there is nothing for you to write, write and say so. Take care of your health.


  1. The letter appears to be from Tusculum, because Cicero asks for a letter every day, which he could hardly expect if he were farther off. This year Cicero was much away from Rome, and yet his correspondence is meagre compared with other years. So far as this is not due to accident in the preservation of his letters, it may be accounted for by the fact that he was working at his de Oratore—so hard, that even his brother Quintus had scruples in breaking in upon him.
  2. This may refer to the laws of Trebonius, giving Pompey and Crassus Spain and Syria respectively, and Caesar an additional five years in Gaul, or to some of Pompey's own legislation.
  3. L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, a candidate for the consulship of B.C. 55, but whose election had never come off. By various contrivances the comitia were prevented, so that the new year opened with an interregnum; and Pompey and Crassus were elected under the presidency of an interrex (Dio, 39.31).
  4. Pompey.
  5. L. Natta, a brother-in-law of Clodius, a pontifex who had presided at the consecratio of Cicero's house. He seems to have just died.
  6. A friend of Pompey's. I think "your guest" must be Pompey himself, whom Atticus is about to entertain at dinner.