26 Brieven aan en van Brutus uit het jaar 43 v. Chr., Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 v. Chr.)
Marcus Junius Brutus was by the mother’s side nephew of M. Cato (Uticensis). When Cicero governed the province of Cilicia, to which Cyprus seems to have been annexed, Brutus wrote to him, and was supported by Atticus in his request, entreating him to give Scaptius a commission as an officer of the Roman government, and to allow him to employ a military force to exact from the Salaminians the usurious interest which he illegally demanded. Cicero was too upright a magistrate to comply with such requests, but they were so agreeable to the practice of the times that he continued to live on intimate terms with the man who could prefer them; and the literary tastes of Brutus were a recommendation which he could not resist; so that he appears soon to have forgotten the affair of Scaptius, and to have spoken and thought of Brutus with great regard. They both, indeed, were of the same party in politics, and Brutus actively exerted himself in the service of Pompey, although his own father had been put to death by the orders of that commander. In B.C. 44, on March 15, he murdered Caesar with Cassius, his republican friend.
After the assassination of Caesar, the conspirators endeavoured to stir up the feelings of the people in favour of liberty; but Antony, by reading the will of the dictator, excited against them so violent a storm of odium that they were compelled to flee from the city. Brutus retired to Athens, and used every exertion to raise a party there among the Roman nobility. Obtaining possession, at the same time, of a large sum of the public money, he was enabled to bring to his standard many of the old soldiers of Pompey who were scattered about Thessaly. His forces daily increasing, he soon saw himself surrounded by a considerable army, and Hortensius, the governor of Macedonia, aiding him, Brutus became master in this way of all Greece and Macedonia. He went now to Asia and joined Cassius, whose efforts had been equally successful. In Rome, on the other hand, the triumvirs were all-powerful; the conspirators had been condemned, and the people had taken up arms against them. Brutus and Cassius returned to Europe to oppose the triumvirs, and Octavius and Antony met them on the plains of Philippi in B.C. 42.
In this memorable conflict Brutus commanded the right wing of the republican army, and defeated the division of the enemy opposed to him, and would in all probability have gained the day if, instead of pursuing the fugitives, he had brought reinforcements to his left wing, commanded by Cassius, which was hard pressed and eventually beaten by Antony. Cassius, upon this, believing everything lost, slew himself in despair. Brutus bitterly deplored his fate, styling him, with tears of the sincerest sorrow, “the last of the Romans.” On the following day, induced by the ardour of the soldiers, Brutus again drew up his forces in line of battle, but no action took place, and he then took possession of an advantageous post, where it was difficult for an attack to be made upon him. His true policy was to have remained in this state, without hazarding an engagement, for his opponents were distressed for provisions, and the fleet that was bringing them supplies had been totally defeated by the vessels of Brutus. The condition of things, however, was unknown to the latter, and, after an interval of twenty days, he hazarded a second battle. Where he himself fought in person, he was still successful; but the rest of his force was soon overcome, and the conflict ended in a total defeat of the republican army. Escaping with only a few friends, he passed the night in a cave, and, as he saw his cause irretrievably ruined, ordered Strato, one of his attendants, to kill him. Strato refused for a long time to perform the painful office; but, seeing Brutus resolved, he turned away his face, and held his sword while Brutus fell upon it. He died in the forty-third year of his age, B.C. 42.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
AT the time of my writing this it is thought that the decisive hour has arrived. For melancholy despatches and messages are arriving about our friend Decimus Brutus. For my part I am not excessively alarmed by them, for I cannot possibly distrust such armies and leaders as we now have. Nor do I agree with the majority of people: for I do not think ill of the loyalty of the consuls, which has been the subject of great suspicion. In certain particulars I do find them wanting in prudence and promptitude. If they had displayed those qualities we should long ago have recovered the constitution. For you are not ignorant of the importance of times and seasons in public affairs, and what a difference it makes whether the same thing is settled, undertaken, carried out before or after a particular period. If all the decrees expressed in severe language during this civil disturbance had been passed on the day on which I spoke in their favour, and had not been postponed from day to day, or not been delayed and put off from the moment that their execution was undertaken, we should not now be at war. I have made good, Brutus, every duty to the state, to which a man was bound, who occupied the station in which I have been placed by the judgment of the senate and people. And I am not speaking now of those duties which alone, of course, can be positively demanded of every human being–good faith, vigilance, patriotism. Such duties there is no one who is not bound to make good. But I think that a man who speaks among the leading members of the senate is bound to display wisdom also. And since I have involved myself in the heavy responsibility of taking the helm of state, I should think myself no less deserving of reproach, if it was against its true interests that I advised the senate, than if I did so with insincerity. All things actually transacted, or which are in the Course of being transacted, I know are carefully written out for your benefit. But there is one thing I should like you to learn from me–that my heart is at the seat of war, and seeks no means of retreat, unless it chance that the interest of the state compels me to do so. The feelings of the majority, however, look to you and Cassius. wherefore, my dear Brutus, prepare yourself to believe that, if at this time a success is achieved, you will have to reform the constitution; if a reverse is sustained, your task will be its restoration.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
ROME (11 APRIL)
YOU have had the opportunity of learning Plancus’s splendid loyalty to the Republic, his legions, auxiliaries, and forces from his own letter, a copy of which I think has been sent to you. The fickleness and inconstancy of your relative Lepidus, who, next to his own brother, holds his relations by marriage as his deadliest foes, and his feelings perpetually hostile to the constitution, I think you have clearly perceived from the letters of your family. As for me, I am restlessly waiting for news. The decisive hour is upon us: for our whole hope depends on relieving Decimus Brutus, for whom I am greatly alarmed. Here in Rome I have my tribune Titius. Cicero wishes to make Plancus look upon it as unimportant. It probably, however, contributed to confirm his intention of joining Antony, as he eventually did. hands full with that madman Servilius. I have endured him longer than is consistent with my position, but I have done so for the sake of the Republic, for fear of giving unprincipled citizens some one–who, lunatic as he is, is yet a man of rank-round whom to rally. They are doing so none the less, and I do not think that he is a man who ought to be wholly alienated from the Republic. But I have come to the end of my tolerance of him. For he has begun giving himself such airs, that he regards no one as free. In the case of Plancus, however, he flamed up with extraordinary anger, and for two days maintained so fierce a controversy with me, and was so crushed by me, that I hope I have permanently brought him to a more reasonable frame of mind. In the midst of this controversy too, on the 9th of April, a letter was handed to me in the senate from our friend Lentulus, telling me about Cassius, about his legions, and about Syria. I immediately read it aloud, whereupon Servilius and several besides looked somewhat small. For there are a good many distinguished men who cherish the most disloyal sentiments: but what annoyed Servilius most bitterly was that the senate agreed to my motion about Plancus. It is a portentous thing in the Republic, but to what end…
MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS TO CICERO (AT ROME)
DYRRACHIUM (1 APRIL)
I am anxiously expecting the letter which you wrote after you received the news of my movements and of the death of Trebonius. For I feel certain that you will expound your plan of action. By a shocking crime we have at once lost a most loyal citizen and have been driven from the possession of a province, the recovery of which is easy. But its subsequent recovery will not relieve the scandal and crime. Antonius is still in my camp; but, on my honour, I am much affected by the man’s entreaties, and I fear a violent outbreak in some quarter may carry him off. I am really distracted with indecision. But if I knew your opinion, I should cease to be anxious: for I should be persuaded that it was the best thing to be done. Wherefore at the earliest possible moment let me know what your opinion is. Our friend Cassius holds Syria and the legions stationed in it, having indeed been actually invited to come by Murcus, Marcius, and the army itself. I have written to my sister Tertia and my mother, not to publish this most admirable and fortunate achievement of Cassius before they knew what your advice was and you thought it right. I have read two of your speeches, one delivered on the 1st of January, the other against Calenus. You are, of course, waiting for my praise of them at this time of day! I cannot decide whether it is your courage or your genius that is the more admirably displayed in these pamphlets. I quite agree in their having even the title of Philippics by which you jestingly described them in one of your letters.
The two things which I want are money and more men. The latter–the sending some part of the soldiers now in Italy to me–you can accomplish either by a secret arrangement with Pansa or by bringing the matter before the senate. The former can be got from the senate direct. This is still more necessary, and not more so for my army than for that of the other commanders. This makes me the more regret that we have lost Asia: which I am told is being so harassed by Dolabella that his murder of Trebonius no longer appears the most cruel thing he has done. Antistius Vetus, however, has come to my aid with money. Your son Cicero is giving me such ion by his industry, endurance, hard work, and high courage, in short, by every kind of service, that he seems to me never to forget for a moment whose son he is. Therefore, as I cannot by any possibility think more highly than I already do of one who is the dearest object of your affection, pay my sagacity the compliment of believing that he will not have to trade upon your reputation for the attainment of the same offices as his father held before him.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (AT DYRRACHIUM)
ROME (12 APRIL)
AFTER I had given Scaptius a letter for you on the morning of the 11th of April, I received one from you in the evening of the same day, dated from Dyracchium on the 1st of April. Accordingly, on the morning of the 12th, having been informed by Scaptius that the men to whom I had [p. 210] given the letter the day before had not started and were going at once, I have dashed off this brief note in the midst of the turmoil of my morning levée. I am delighted with the news about Cassius, and I congratulate the Republic, and also myself, for having proposed in the senate, in spite of Pansa’s opposition and anger, that Cassius should make war upon Dolabella. And indeed I boldly maintained that he was already engaged in that war without any decree of ours. About you also I said on that occasion what I thought ought to be said. This speech shall be transmitted to you, since I perceive that you like my “Philippics.” You ask my advice as to Gaius Antonius: my opinion is that he should be kept under arrest till we know the fate of Decimus Brutus. From the letter you addressed to me it appears that Dolabella is harassing Asia and behaving in a most abominable manner there. You have mentioned also to several people that Dolabella has been prevented from landing by the Rhodians. But if he has approached Rhodes, I think he must have abandoned Asia. If that is so, I think you should stay where you are. But if he once gets a hold of that province, believe me it will not be right for you to do so, but I think you will have to go to Asia to attack him. As to your saying that you are in want of two necessary things-money and more men–it is difficult to see what to suggest. For I can’t think of any resources upon which you can draw, except those which the senate has assigned to you by its decree–that you should raise loans from the cities. As to more men also, I do not see what can possibly be done. For so far from Pansa sparing you any of his own army or levy, he is even annoyed that so many are going to you as volunteers: because, as I believe, he thinks that he cannot have too great a force; but, as many suspect, because he doesn’t wish you to be too strong either. But this is a suspicion which I do not share. You say in your letter that you have written to Tertia and your mother not to disclose the achievements of Cassius until I think it right. I understand your motive to be a fear lest the feelings of Caesar’s party–as that party is still called-should be violently affected. But before your letter was received, the facts had been heard and were quite public property. Your letter-carriers also had brought letters to many of your intimate friends. Therefore there is no need to suppress the truth, especially as it is impossible to do so. Besides, even if it had been possible, I should have thought that it should be spread broadcast rather than be kept concealed. As to my son, if he has all the good in him which you describe, I am of course as delighted as I am bound to be, and if you exaggerate it from affection for him, the mere fact of your being attached to him rejoices me more than I can say.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (AT DYRRACHIUM)
ROME (16 APRIL)
I BELIEVE that your friends–to not one of whom do I yield in affection to you–have written to tell you what despatches were read in the senate on the 13th of April from you, and at the same time from Antony. But though there was no need for us all to repeat the same story, yet it is necessary that I should write and tell you my feeling, deliberate opinion, and sentiments as to the nature of this war generally. My object, Brutus, in imperial politics has always been the same as your own: my policy in certain points-not in all-has perhaps been somewhat more drastic. You know that it was always my opinion that the Republic should be delivered not only from a tyrant but from a tyranny also. You took a more indulgent view-to your own undying honour, no doubt. But which was the better course we have felt to our bitter sorrow, and are still feeling to our grave peril. More recently you have directed all your efforts to secure peace–which could not be brought about by mere words–I to secure liberty, which is impossible without peace. But my view was that peace itself could be brought about by war and arms. There was no want of enthusiasts who were eager to fight, but we checked their enthusiasm and damped their ardour. And so it had come to such a pass that, had not some god inspired Caesar Octavianus with that resolution, we must necessarily have fallen under the power of Marcus Antonius, the most abandoned and depraved of men, with whom you see at this very moment in what a desperate contest we are engaged. Now that, of course, would never have occurred if Antony had not been spared at that time. But I pass over these reflexions: for the deed which you performed-ever memorable and all but divine-disarms all criticism, for it is one which can never be even praised in terms adequate to its merit.
You lately came to the front again with a look of stern resolve. In a brief time you collected by your unaided exertions an army, forces, sufficient legions. Great heavens! What a message, what a despatch! What exultation was there in the senate, what an outburst of cheerfulness in the city! I never saw anything praised with such complete unanimity. There was some anxiety about the remnants of Antony’s forces, whom you had deprived for the most part of his cavalry and legions. But that was happily relieved. For your next despatch, which was read in the senate, clearly sets forth the excellence both of com mander and soldiers, and the good service done by your staff-among others, by my son. And if your friends here had thought it right that a motion should be brought before the senate in consequence of its despatch, and had it not come at a time of great confusion, just after the departure of the consul Pansa, a regular vote of thanks and one due to the immortal gods would have been passed.
Lo and behold, on the 13th of April, early in the morning comes Pilius Celer in hot haste–what a man, good heavens! How trustworthy and consistent! What an honest politician! He brings two letters, one in your name, a second in that of Antony. He hands them to the tribune Sevilius. Sevilius passed them on to Cornutus. They are read in the senate. “ANTONIUS PROCONSUL ! “-There was as much surprise expressed as though the words read had been “DOLABELLA IMPERATOR”; from whom indeed letter-carriers have arrived, but no one of the position of Pilius to venture to produce a despatch and to hand it to the magistrates. Your despatch is read. It was short indeed, but very indulgent in its reference to Antonius. The senate was greatly astonished. And I could not see my way clearly as to what I ought to do. Was I to declare it a forgery? What if you had acknowledged it? Was I to assert its genuineness? That will be a reflexion on your official position. So I let that day pass without saying anything. But next day, when there had begun to be much talk about it, and Pilius had made himself offensively conspicuous, the first step was after all taken by me. I said a great deal about “the proconsul” Antonius. Sestius backed me up. Afterwards, in private conversation with me, he dwelt on the danger he inferred for his own son and mine if they bore arms against “a proconsul.” You know the sort of man he is. However, he did not shrink from supporting the contention. Others also spoke. Our friend Labeo, for instance, remarked that there was neither any seal of yours on the despatch, nor any date affixed, and that you had not written to your friends, as was your custom. By this he meant to argue that the despatch was a forgery, and, if you would know the truth, he was thought to be convincing.
Now, Brutus, you must take into consideration the whole question of the war. I notice that you take pleasure in lenient measures, and think that the most advantageous line to take. It is an admirable sentiment: but it is for other circumstances and other times that a place for clemency generally is and ought to be reserved. As things are now, Brutus, what is actually being done? The hope of the needy and the ruined is the plunder of the temples of the immortal gods; and what depends upon the issue of this war is neither more nor less than our bare existence. Who is it that we are sparing, or what is our object? Are we then consulting for the interests of those, whose victory means that not a trace of us will be left? For what difference is there between Dolabella and any one of the three Antonies? If we spare any of the latter, we have been harsh in the case of Dolabella. That the senate and Roman people take this view is partly the result of the mere facts of the case, but for the most part has been brought about by my advice and influence. If you disapprove this policy, I will speak up for your opinion, but I shall not abandon my own. From you men expect neither weakness nor cruelty. An obvious mean between these is that you should be stern to the leaders, placable to the soldiers. I should like my son, my dear Brutus, to be as much as possible by your side He will find no better school of virtue than the contemplation and imitation of you.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
ROME (LATE IN MAY)
L. Clodius, tribune-designate, is much attached to me, or, to speak with more empressement, loves me dearly. And when I am assured of that I feel certain–for you know me–that you will conclude that I love him: for nothing seems to me less human than not to give an answering affection to those by whom one’s love is challenged. He seemed to me to suspect, much to his chagrin, that some unfavourable report had reached you from his friends, or rather through his enemies, by which your feelings were alienated from him. It is not my habit, my dear Brutus, as I think you know, to make rash statements about another man. It is a risky thing to do, owing to the secret feelings and complicated natures of mankind But I have seen to the bottom of Clodius’s heart: I know it, and have formed my judgment of it. There are many proofs of it, but such as I need not write down, for I want you to regard this as a solemn deposition rather than a letter. He has been promoted by Antony–though a large share even of that very favour has its origin in you–and accordingly he would wish his safety so long as it is compatible with ours. But he fully understands–for he is no fool, as you are aware–that matters have come to such a point that both cannot be preserved; accordingly he prefers us. As to yourself, indeed, he both speaks and feels in the most affectionate manner. Wherefore, if anyone has written to you or spoken to you by word of mouth disparagingly of him, I beg you again and again to believe me rather than them. I have greater opportunity of judging than any such casual observer, and I am more devoted to you. Make up your mind that Clodius is most warmly attached to you, and is such a citizen as a man of the greatest sense and most ample fortune is bound to be.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
ROME (LATE IN MAY)
When I had already written and sealed a despatch to you, a letter from you was delivered to me full of startling intelligence. But the most surprising of all was that Dolabella had sent five cohorts into the Chersonese. Is he so flush of troops that a man who was said to be in flight from Asia is now attempting to get a foothold in Europe? With five cohorts, moreover, what did he think that he could do when you had five legions, a splendid body of cavalry, and very large auxiliary forces? These same cohorts, I hope, by this time are in your hands, since that outlaw has been so insensate. I strongly commend your policy in not having moved your army from Apollonia and Dyrrachium, until you heard of the flight of Antony, of Decimus Brutus having broken out of Mutina, and of the victory of the Roman people. Accordingly, in saying that you had afterwards resolved to lead your army into the Chersonese, and not to suffer the government of the Roman people to be a laughingstock to an enemy stained with the worst of crimes, you are acting in the interests of your own position and of theRepublic. You speak of an outbreak in the fourteenth legion on account of Gaius Antonius; you will excuse my saying that I am in sympathy with the severity of the soldiers rather than with yours.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (AT DYRRACHIUM)
ROME (17 APRIL)
I rejoice that you have found the army and cavalry well affected to you. About Dolabella, as you remark, you will inform me’ if you hear any news. In regard to this, I am pleased to think that I foresaw how independent your judgment would be as to making war on Dolabella. That, as I saw clearly at the time, was of great importance to the state, and, as I now am of opinion, of great importance to your own position.
You say in your letter that I have not hurried myself at all in making attacks on the Antonies; and you go on to commend me for it. I have no doubt that you think so; but I can in no sense admit the justice of the distinction you draw, when you say that more vigour should be used in preventing civil wars, than in wreaking vengeance upon the vanquished. I strongly differ from you, Brutus, and I do not admit your clemency doctrine. A salutary sternness is superior to the empty show of clemency. But if we choose the rôle of clemency we shall never have any lack of civil wars. However, that is more your concern than mine. For myself I can say, like the father in the Trinummus of Plautus, My time is all but past: ’tis you this most concerns.
You will be crushed, believe me, Brutus, unless you take proper precautions. For you won’t always have the same people, nor the same senate, nor the same leader of the senate. Regard these words as uttered by the oracle of the Pythian Apollo. Nothing can be truer.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (AT DYRRACHIUM)
ROME (21 APRIL)
OUR cause seems in a better position: for I feel sure that you have had letters telling you what has happened. The consuls have shewn themselves to be the sort of men I have often described them in my letters. In the youthful Caesar indeed there is a surprising natural strain of virtue. Pray heaven we may govern him in the flush of honours and popularity as easily as we have held him up to this time I That is certainly a more difficult thing, but nevertheless I have no mistrust. For the young man has been convinced, and chiefly by my arguments, that our safety is his work, and that at least, if he had not diverted Antony from the city, all would have been lost. Three or four days indeed before this glorious news, the city, struck by a sudden panic, was for pouring out with wives and children to seek you. The same city on the 20th of April, with its fears all dispelled, would rather that you came here than go to you. On that day in very truth I reaped the most abundant harvest of my great labours and my many sleepless nights–that is, at least, if there is a harvest in genuine and well-grounded glory. For I was surrounded by a concourse of people as great as our city can contain, by whom I was escorted to the Capitol and placed upon the rostra amidst the loudest cheers and applause. I have no vanity in me–and indeed I ought to have none: yet after all a unanimous feeling of all orders, thanks, and congratulations do move my heart, because it is a thing to be proud of that in the hour of the people’s preservation I should be the people’s hero. But these things I would rather you heard from others. Pray inform me of your own doings and plans with the greatest exactness; and do be careful that your generosity does not bear the appearance of weakness. This is the sentiment of the senate, and of the people, that no enemies ever more richly deserved condign punishment than those citizens who have taken up arms against their country in this war. Indeed in every speech I make in the senate I call for vengeance upon them and attack them amidst the applause of all loyal citizens. What your view of this is I must leave you to judge for yourself: my opinion is that all three brothers stand on one and the same ground.
MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS TO CICERO (AT ROME)
DYRRACHIUM (7 MAY)
MY joy at hearing of the success of our friend Decimus Brutus and the Consuls it is easier for you to imagine than for me to write. I have nothing but praise and pleasure for everything that has occurred, but especially for the fact that the sortie of Brutus not only proved his own salvation, but also a very great assistance to the victory.
You remark that all the three Antonies stand on one and the same ground, and that it rests with me to decide what view I take. Well, my only conclusion is that the decision in regard to those citizens who have fought and not been killed rests with the senate or the Roman people. “Ah, but,” you will say, “you are wrong to begin with in calling men citizens whose feelings to the state are those of enemies.” On the contrary, I am acting with the strictest justice. For that which the senate has not yet voted, nor the Roman people ordained–that I do not take upon myself to prejudge, nor do I claim to decide it on my own authority. From this position I do not budge-from the man, whom circumstances did not compel me to put to death, I have not wrested anything in a spirit of cruelty, nor have I given him any indulgence from mere weakness; but I have retained him in my power until the end of the war. I consider it much the more honourable course, and one which the Republic can with more safety concede, not to press heavily on the unfortunate, rather than to indulge men of influence in what is calculated to inflame their ambition and arrogance. In this matter, Cicero, you–who have done the most splendid and gallant services, and are most deeply beloved by all on private and public grounds alike-seem to me too ready to believe what you hope; and the moment anyone has done anything well, to be ready to give and concede everything to him. As though it were not quite possible that a mind should be corrupted by bribery and perverted to evil. You are so good-natured that you won’t be angry at receiving this hint, especially as it concerns the common safety. You will act, however, as it may seem best to you. Even I, when you have admonished me…
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (AT DYRRACHIUM)
ROME (5 MAY)
ON the 27th of April, when the speeches were being delivered in the senate as to the proceedings to be taken against the men who had been adjudged public enemies, Servilius referred among others to the case of Ventidius, and also advised that Cassius should conduct the war against Dolabella. I spoke in support of this, and added to the motion that you, if you thought it expedient and to the public advantage, should direct your attack upon Dolabella: and that if you could not do so with advantage to the public service, or if you thought that it was to the interests of the state, you should keep your army in the district in which it now is. The senate could not have paid you a greater compliment than leaving you to decide what you thought to be for the benefit of the state. For my own part my feeling is that, if Dolabella has a body of troops, if he has a camp, if he has any footing anywhere, it concerns your honour and position that you should go against him. As to the forces in the hands of our friend Cassius we know nothing, for we have had no despatch from him personally, nor has any news reached us upon which we can rely. But how important it is that Dolabella should be crushed you certainly fully appreciate, both that he may be punished for his crime, and that there may be no place of refuge for the ringleaders of the outlaws after their rout at Mutina. And indeed that this has all along been my opinion you may recollect from my previous letter–though at that time our only harbour of refuge was in your camp, and we were looking to your army to save us from destruction. Much more, now that we have been freed as I hope from absolute danger, ought we to devote ourselves to crushing Dolabella. But think the matter over carefully, decide it wisely, and–if you deem it right-let me know what you have resolved and what you are actually doing. I wish my son Cicero to be co-opted into your college. I think in the circumstances that in the election of sacerdotes candidates might be voted for in their absence : for it has been done even before this. For instance, Gaius Marius, though he was in Cappadocia, was created an augur under the lex Domitia; nor has any law since made that illegal. There is even a clause in the lex Julia–the most recent legislation on the subject of the priesthoods–in these words: “the candidate and anyone for whom votes shall be taken.” This clearly indicates that votes can be taken for one who does not act as a candidate. I have written to my son on this subject telling him to follow your advice, as in all other things. It is for you again to decide about Domitius and our friend Cato. But however legal it may be for votes to be taken for a man in his absence, yet it is easier in every way for those who are on the spot. While if you have resolved that you must go to Asia, we shall have no means of summoning our friends to the comitia. Certainly I think that everything would have been more expeditiously done if Pansa were alive: for he would have at once held the election of his colleague, and then the comitia of the sacerdotes would have been held before those of the praetors. As it is, I foresee a long delay on account of the auspicia; for as long as there is a single patrician magistrate left the auspicia cannot revert to the senate. It is certainly a serious complication. Pray write and tell me your views on the whole question.
MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS TO CICERO (AT ROME)
19 MAY Don’t expect me to thank you. From the closeness of our intimacy, which has now reached the highest possible point of friendship, that ought long ago to have become superfluous. Your son is not in my quarters; we shall meet in Macedonia. His orders were to lead the cavalry from Ambracia by way of Thessaly, and I have written to him to meet me at Heraclea. When I see him; as you consent, I will settle with him about his return for his candidature, or rather his recom mendation to the office. I commend to your protection with the utmost warmth Pansa’s physician Glyco, who is married to the sister of my freedman Achilles. I am told that he is suspected by Torquatus in regard to Pansa’s death, and is in custody as a murderer. Nothing could be more incredible: for who lost more than he did by Pansa’s death? Besides he is a well-conducted moral man, whom even personal advantage would seem unlikely to tempt to crime. I beg you, and that with great earnestness–for my Achilles is as anxious about it as he is bound to be–to rescue him from prison and be his preserver. This I regard as affecting my duty as a private man as nearly as anything else could do.
While I was actually writing this letter to you a despatch was delivered to me from Satrius, a legate of Gaius Trebonius, saying that Dolabella had been defeated and put to flight by Tillius and Deiotarus. I am sending you a Greek letter of a certain Cicereius to Satrius. Our friend Flavius in a dispute that he has with the people of Dyrrachium about an inheritance has named you as arbitrator: I beg you, Cicero, as does Flavius also, to settle this business. There is no doubt that the town owed money to the man who made Flavius his heir, nor do the Dyrrachini deny it, but they allege that they received from Caesar a remission of their debt. Don’t allow your friends to do a wrong to a friend of mine.
19 May, in camp at Ima Candavia.
MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS TO CICERO (AT ROME)
MACEDONIA (LATTER PART OF MAY)
No one can better judge than you how dear Lucius Bibulus ought to be to me, considering his great struggles and anxieties on behalf of the Republic. Accordingly, his own excellence as well as our intimacy ought to make him your friend. I think myself therefore obliged to write at the less length: for a wish of mine ought to influence you, provided that it is equitable and is conceived in fulfilment of a necessary duty. He has resolved to stand for the place of Pansa. I beg you therefore to nominate him. You cannot do a favour to any man more closely attached than we are to you, nor can you nominate a more deserving man than Bibulus. What need to write about Domitius and Appuleius, seeing that they are most warmly recommended to you by their own merits? To Appuleius certainly you are bound to lend the protection of your influence–but Appuleius’s praises shall be sung in the special letter he brings with him. Do not fail to take Bibulus to your bosom–a man, believe me, who may develop into the sort of character to deserve your most select praises.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
I SHALL recommend many to you, and it is inevitable that I should do so–for it is always the best men and best citizens that are most inclined to follow your judgment; and it is for your approval that all brave men desire to work and study with activity; and finally everyone thinks that my influence and favour have very great weight with you. But I recommend to you Gaius Nasidienus–a burgher of Suessa–with an earnestness beyond which I cannot go about anyone. In the war in Crete under Metellus he led the eighth “first line”: afterwards he was employed in the management of his property. At this period, influenced by the party divisions in the state, and by your pre-eminent position, he wishes to gain some distinction by your means. I am recommending to you, Brutus, a man of courage, a man of good character, and– if that is at all to the point–of wealth also. I shall be very much obliged if you treat him so as to enable him to thank me for favours received from you.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
ROME (8 JUNE)
I would have performed the function, which you performed in my own time of mourning, and have written you a letter of consolation, had I not known that you did not stand in need of those remedies in your sorrow with which you relieved mine. And I should hope that you will now more easily heal your own wound than you then could mine. It is, moreover, quite unlike a man as great as you are not to be able to do himself what be has enjoined on another. For myself, the arguments which you had collected, as well as your personal influence, deterred me from excessive indulgence in grief: for when I seemed to you to be bearing my sorrow with less firmness than was becoming to a man, and especially one accustomed to console others, you wrote upbraiding me in sharper terms than were usual with you. Accordingly, putting a high value on your opinion, and having a wholesome awe of it, I pulled myself together and regarded what I had learnt, read, and been taught as being the weightier by the addition of your authority. And at that time, Brutus, I owed nothing except to duty and nature: you now have to regard the people and the stage–to use a common expression. For since the eyes not only of your army, but of all the citizens, and I ought almost to say of all the world, are fixed on you, it is not at all seemly that the man who makes us all braver should himself seem weakened in mind. To sum up: you have met with a sorrow–for you have lost a thing unparalleled in the world–and you must needs suffer from so severe a wound, lest the fact of having no sense of sorrow should be a greater misfortune than sorrow itself: but that you should do so in moderation is advantageous to others, necessary for yourself. I would have written at greater length, had not even this been already too much. We are expecting you and your army, without which-even if everything else succeeds to our wishes–we seem likely to be scarcely as free as we could desire. On the whole political situation I will write at greater length, and perhaps with more certainty, in the letter which I think of handing to our friend Vetus.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
I have no letter as yet from you–not so much as a rumour–to shew that you are aware of the resolution of the senate and are bringing your army into Italy. That you should do so, and with all speed, the Republic urgently requires: for the internal mischief daily grows more serious, and we are in difficulties from enemies at home no less than from those abroad. The former have, it is true, always existed from the beginning of the war, but they were then more easily crushed. The senate was then in a more resolute frame of mind, roused to action not only by the motions which I brought forward, but also by my earnest exhortations. Pansa was then in the senate very strenuous and bold in his attacks upon all men of that sort, and especially his father-in-law. As consul his courage never failed him from the beginning, nor his loyalty at the end. The conduct of the war at Mutina left nothing to complain of in Caesar, though some few points in Hirtius. The fortune of this war is For happy though but ill, for ill not worst. The Republic was victorious: Antony’s forces were cut to pieces, and he himself driven out of the country. Then came so many mistakes on the part of Decimus Brutus, that in a certain sense the victory slipped through our fingers. Our generals did not pursue the demoralized, unarmed, wounded enemy, and time was granted to Lepidus to give us a taste of that fickleness, which we had had many occasions to know before, in a more disastrous field. The armies of Brutus and Plancus are good but raw; their auxiliary forces of Gauls are very numerous and very loyal. But certain persons by most unprincipled letters and misleading agents and messages induced Caesar–up to that time wholly governed by my advice, and personally possessed of brilliant ability and admirable firmness of character–to entertain a very confident hope of the consulship. As soon as I discovered that, I never ceased offering him advice by letter in his absence, and remonstrating with his connexions who were in town, and who seemed to be supporting his ambition; nor in the senate did I hesitate to lay bare the sources of a most criminal plot. Nor indeed do I remember a better disposition on the part of senate or magistrates. For in the case of voting an extra-constitutional office to a man of power, or rather of super-eminent power–since power now depends on force and arms–it never yet happened that no tribune, no one in any other office, no private senator was found to support it. But in spite of this firmness and manly spirit, the city was after all in a state of anxiety. For we are flouted, Brutus, both by the airs assumed by the soldiers and the arrogance of their commander. Each man claims to be powerful in the Republic in proportion to his physical force. Reason, moderation, law, custom, duty–all go for nothing: as do the judgment and opinion of their fellow citizens, and their respect for the verdict of posterity. It was because I foresaw all this long ago that I was on the point of flying from Italy at the time when the report of the edicts issued by you and Cassius recalled me. You also roused my spirits, Brutus, at Velia. For though it vexed me to be going to a city from which you who freed it were an exile–which had also happened to me formerly in a similar danger, though with more melancholy result-yet I continued my journey and reached Rome, and without any guard to protect me I shook the power of Antony, and encouraged by my influence and advice the protecting force offered by Caesar against his treasonable arms. And if Caesar keeps his word and follows my counsel, I think we shall have protection enough. But if the counsels of the disloyal have greater weight than mine, or if the weakness of his time of life proves unequal to the strain of the business, our whole hope is in you. Wherefore fly hither, I beseech you, and put the last touch to the freedom of a state, which you liberated by courage and high spirit rather than by any fortunate coincidence. Men of all sorts will crowd round you. Write and urge Cassius to do the same. Hope of liberty is nowhere to be found except in the headquarters of your two camps. We have, it is true, generals and armies in the west on which we Can rely. The protecting force of the young Caesar, for instance, I regard at present as trustworthy: but so many are trying to shake his loyalty that at times I am mortally afraid of his giving way.
That is a complete view of the political situation, as it exists at the moment at which I write. I could wish that it might improve as we go on: but if otherwise–which God forbid! I shall grieve for the sake of the Republic, which ought to have been immortal: but for myself–what a brief span of life is left!
MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS TO CICERO (AT ROME)
ANTISTIUS VETUS is so devoted to the Republic that I feel no doubt of his shewing himself in the case both of Caesar and Antony a most determined champion of the common liberty, if he ever gets the opportunity. For the man who, meeting P. Dolabella in Achaia in possession of infantry and cavalry, preferred incurring any danger from the treachery of an utterly unscrupulous outlaw to being thought either to have been compelled to give money, or to have given it voluntarily to a most abandoned and unprincipled man-he, I say, has not only promised but has paid us 2,000 Sestertia out of his own pocket, and, what is much more valuable, has presented himself in person and has joined us. I have been desirous to persuade him to remain in my camp in military command and to support the Republic. But he has made up his mind that he is bound to go home after having dismissed his army. He assured us, however, that he would return promptly in the position of legatus, unless the consuls intended holding the praetorian elections; for with a man of his political views, I was urgent that he should not postpone the time of his canvass. What this man has done ought to be approved by everybody, at any rate by those who believe that this army is of great moment to the state, by you all the more so in proportion as you defend our liberty with greater spirit and fame, and are sure to enjoy a higher position if the result of our plans is what we desire it to be. I also ask you, my dear Cicero, as a personal favour, and with the confidence of a friend, to love Vetus and to desire the highest promotion for him. For though nothing can turn him from his purpose, he will yet be capable of being incited by your praises and kindness still more to embrace and hold fast your principles. I shall be very grateful if it is so.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
ROME (BEGINNING OF JULY)
Though I am immediately about to give a letter to Messalla Corvinus, yet I could not let our friend Vetus reach you without a letter from me. The Republic, Brutus, is in the most imminent peril, and though victorious we are forced to begin the struggle once more. This is the result of the crime and infatuation of M. Lepidus. At such a time, while many things afflict me owing to the anxiety I feel for the Republic, yet nothing has given me greater vexation than to be unable to grant the petitions of your mother and sister: for as to yourself–which is of the greatest importance in my eyes–I think that I shall have no difficulty in satisfying you. The fact is that the position of Lepidus cannot on any consideration be separated from that of Antony, and in the judgment of all is even a worse one, both because he had been complimented by the senate with the most splendid honours, and had even sent an excellent despatch to the senate a few days before. Suddenly he not only receives the remnants of the enemy, but begins a war by land and sea with the greatest ferocity, the result of which is still in the balance. Therefore, while we are asked to shew consideration to his children, no guarantee is offered that we shall not undergo the most extreme penalties, if their father– which God forbid–is victorious. Not indeed that I fail to consider how cruel it is that the crimes of parents should be expiated by the punishment of sons. But it is an excellent doctrine in law that affection for children should make parents more loyal to the Republic: therefore it is Lepidus that is Cruel to his children, not he who declares Lepidus a public enemy. Nay, even if he laid down his arms and was condemned for vis–a prosecution in which he would have no defence to offer-his sons would have met with the same disaster by the confiscation of his property. However, what your mother and sister deprecate in the case of his children, that very thing and measures more cruel still are what Lepidus, Antony, and the rest denounce against us. Therefore our chief hope at this time is in you and your army. It is of very great importance both to the highest interests of the Republic and to your own glory and political position that–as I wrote to say before-you should come to Italy at the earliest possible Opportunity: for the Republic stands sorely in need both of your material forces and of your counsel. I have gladly, in pursuance of what you said in your letter, opened my arms to Vetus as his affection and his extreme loyalty to you deserved, and I have found him most zealous and devoted both to yourself and the Republic. My son I hope shortly to see: for I feel confident that he will promptly come to Italy in your train.
MARCUS IUNIUS BRUTUS TO CICERO (AT ROME)
MACEDONIA (1 JULY)
The fear which others entertain makes me nervous about M. Lepidus. If he has wrenched himself from us–which I hope it will turn out that people have suspected about him hurriedly and without good grounds–I beg and beseech you, Cicero, appealing to our close friendship and your kindness to me, to forget that my sister’s children are the sons of Lepidus, and to consider that I have succeeded to the place of their father. If I can induce you to do that, there is certainly nothing that you will hesitate to undertake for them. Some people live on one sort of terms with their relations, others on another, but I cannot do enough for my sister’s children to satisfy my affection or duty. What consideration is there, moreover, which either the loyalists can shew me–if I am but worthy of some consideration from them–or what can I promise my mother and sister and these children, if Brutus being their uncle has no weight with you and the senate against the fact of Lepidus being their father? I am neither able for anxiety and vexation to write at great length to you, nor ought I to do so. For in a matter of so much importance and so vitally affecting me, if I need words in order to move your interest and confirm your resolution, there is no hope that you will do what I wish or what you are in duty bound to do. Therefore don’t expect a lengthy petition from me. Only fix your eyes on me, who have a good right to obtain this service from you, either on private grounds from Cicero the man–and the closest of my friends–or from the consular, all private ties put aside. What you mean to do please write and tell me as soon as possible.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
ROME (11 JULY)
YOURS was a very short letter. “Short” do I say? Rather it was not a letter at all. Brutus write to me in three lines at such a crisis as this? I would rather have written nothing at all. And you talk of not hearing from me! Which of your men ever came to you without a letter from me? And what epistle of mine had not something of weight in it? And if they have not reached you, I think that your family letters cannot have done So either. You say that you will give a longer letter to my son. So far, so good: but even this one ought to have had more matter in it. Now upon your writing to me about my son’s quitting you, I immediately bustled my letter-carriers off with a letter to my son telling him that, even if he came to Italy, he should return to you: for nothing could be more gratifying to me and nothing more honourable to him. However, I had several times written to tell him that the election to the sacred colleges had by great exertions on my part been put off to another year. This I had taken pains to do for the sake of my son, and also for that of Domitius, Cato, Lentulus, and the Bibuli–as I wrote to tell you. But of course when you sent me that stingy little note this was not yet known to you. Wherefore I urge you, my dear Brutus, with all my might not to send my son from your side, and to bring him home with you in person, which if you have any regard for the Republic, for which you were born, you ought to do at once. For the war has revived–and a very serious one–owing to the crime of Lepidus: while Caesar’s army, which was in an excellent state, is not only of no service, but even makes it necessary for your army to be summoned. If that once reaches Italy there will not be a single citizen, deserving to be called such, who will not find his way to your camp. It is true that Decimus Brutus has effected a splendid junction with Plancus, yet you are not ignorant how uncertain are men’s feelings when infected with party spirit, how uncertain the results of battles. Nay, even if we conquer, as I hope, nevertheless the public service will require a great deal of guidance from your wisdom and your influence. Come to our help, therefore, in God’s name, and that as soon as possible: and assure yourself that you did not do better service to your country by the Ides of March, on which you shook the yoke of slavery from your fellow citizens, than you will do if you now arrive in good time.
TO MARCUS IUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
ROME (MIDDLE OF JULY)
You have Messalla with you. What letter, therefore, can I write with such minute care as to enable me to explain to you what is being done and what is occurring in public affairs, more thoroughly than he will describe them to you, who has at once the most intimate knowledge of everything, and the talent for unfolding and conveying it to you in the best possible manner? For beware of thinking, Brutus–for though it is unnecessary for me to write to you what you know already, yet I cannot pass over in silence such eminence in every kind of greatness-beware of thinking, I say, that he has any parallel in honesty and firmness, care and zeal for the Republic. So much so that in him eloquence–in which he is extraordinarily eminent-scarcely seems to offer any opportunity for praise. Yet in this accomplishment itself his wisdom is made more evident; with such excellent judgement and with so much acuteness has he practised himself in the most genuine style of rhetoric. Such also is his industry, and so great the amount of midnight labour that he bestows on this study, that the chief thanks would not seem to be due to natural genius, great as it is in his case. But my affection carries me away: for it is not the purpose of this letter to praise Messalla, especially to Brutus; to whom his excellence is not less known than it is to me, and these particular accomplishments of his which I am praising even better. Grieved as I was to let him go from my side, my one consolation was that in going to you who are to me a second self; he was performing a duty and following the path of the truest glory. But enough of this I now come, after a long interval of time, to a certain letter of yours, in which, while paying me many compliments, you find one fault with me–that I was excessive and, as it were, extravagant in proposing votes of honour. That is your criticism: another’s, perhaps, might be that I was too stern in inflicting punishment and exacting penalties, unless by chance you blame me for both. If that is so, I desire that my principle in both these things should be very clearly known to you. And I do not rely solely on the dictum of Solon, who was at once the wisest of the Seven and the only lawgiver among them. He said that a state was kept together by two things-reward and punishment. Of course there is a certain moderation to be observed in both, as in everything else, and what we may call a golden mean in both these things. But I have no intention to dilate on such an important subject in this place.
But what has been my aim during this war in the motions I have made in the senate I think it will not be out of place to explain. After the death of Caesar and your ever memorable Ides of March, Brutus, you have not forgotten what I said had been omitted by you and your colleagues, and what a heavy cloud I declared to be hanging over the Republic. A great pest had been removed by your means, a great blot on the Roman people wiped out, immense glory in truth acquired by yourselves: but an engine for exercising king. y power had been put into the hands of Lepidus and Antony, of whom the former was the more fickle of the two, the latter the more corrupt, but both of whom dreaded peace and were enemies to quiet. Against these men, inflamed with the ambition of revolutionizing the state, we had no protecting force to oppose. For the fact of the matter was this: the state had become roused as one man to maintain its liberty; I at the time was even excessively warlike; you, perhaps with more wisdom, quitted the city which you had liberated, and when Italy offered you her services declined them. Accordingly, when I saw the city in the possession of parricides, and that neither you nor Cassius could remain in it with safety, and that it was held down by Antony’s armed guards, I thought that I too ought to leave it: for a city held down by traitors, with all opportunity of giving aid cut off, was a shocking spectacle. But the same spirit as always had animated me, staunch to the love of country, did not admit the thought of a departure from its dangers. Accordingly, in the very midst of my voyage to Achaia, when in the period of the Etesian gales a south wind–as though remonstrating against my design–had brought me back to Italy, I saw you at Velia and was much distressed: for you were on the point of leaving the country, Brutus–leaving it, I say, for our friends the Stoics deny that wise men ever “flee.” As soon as I reached Rome I at once threw myself in opposition to Antony’s treason and insane policy: and having roused his wrath against me, I began entering upon a policy truly Brutus-like–for this is the distinctive mark of your family–that of freeing my country. The rest of the story is too long to tell, and must be passed over by me, for it is about myself. I will only say this much: that this young Caesar, thanks to whom we still exist, if we would confess the truth, was a stream from the fountain-head of my policy. To him I voted honours, none indeed, Brutus, that were not his due, none that were not inevitable. For directly we began the recovery of liberty, when the divine excellence of even Decimus Brutus had not yet bestirred itself sufficiently to give us an indication of the truth, and when our sole protection depended on the boy who had shaken Antony from our shoulders, what honour was there that he did not deserve to have decreed to him? However, all I then proposed for him was a complimentary vote. of thanks, and that too expressed with moderation. I also proposed a decree conferring imperium on him, which, although it seemed too great a compliment for one of his age, was yet necessary for one commanding an army–for what is an army without a commander with imperium ? Philippus proposed a statue; Servius at first proposed a licence to stand for office before the regular time. Servilius afterwards proposed that the time should be still farther curtailed. At that time nothing was thought too good for him.
But somehow men are more easily found who are liberal at a time of alarm, than grateful when victory has been won. For when that most joyful day of Decimus Brutus’s relief from blockade had dawned on the Republic and happened also to be his birthday, I proposed that the name of Brutus should be entered in the fasti under that date. And in that I followed the example of our ancestors, who paid this honour to the woman Laurentia, at whose altar in the Velabrum you pontiffs are accustomed to offer sacrifice. And when I proposed this honour to Brutus I wished that there should be in the fasti an eternal memorial of a most welcome victory: and yet on that very day I discovered that the ill-disposed in the senate were somewhat in a majority over the grateful. In the course of those same days I lavished honours–if you like that word-upon the dead Hirtius, Pansa, and even Aquila. And who has any fault to find with that, unless he be one who, no sooner an alarm is over, forgets the past danger? There was added to this grateful memorial of a benefit received some consideration of what would be for the good of posterity also; for I wished that there should exist some perpetual record of the popular execration of our most ruthless enemies. I suspect that the next step does not meet with your approbation. It was disapproved by your friends, who are indeed most excellent citizens, but inexperienced in public business. I mean my proposing an ovation for Caesar. For myself; however–though I am perhaps wrong, and I am not a man who believes his own way necessarily right–I think that in the course of this war I never took a more prudent step. The reason for this I must not reveal, lest I should seem to have a sense of favours to come rather than to be grateful for those received. I have said too much already: let us look at other points. I proposed honours to Decimus Brutus, and also to Lucius Plancus. Those indeed are noble spirits whose spur to action is glory but the senate also is wise to avail itself of any means-provided that they are honourable–by which it thinks that a particular man can be induced to support the Republic. But–you say–I am blamed in regard to Lepidus: for, having placed his statue on the rostra, I also voted for its removal. I tried by paying him a compliment to recall him from his insane policy. The infatuation of that most unstable of men rendered my prudence futile. Yet all the same more good was done by demolishing the statue of Lepidus, than harm by putting it up.
Enough about honours; now I must say a few words about penalties. For I have gathered from frequent expressions in your letters that in regard to those whom you have conquered in war, you desire that your clemency should be praised. I hold, indeed, that you do and say nothing but what becomes a philosopher. But to omit the punishment of a crime–for that is what “pardoning” amounts to-even if it is endurable in other cases, is mischievous in a war like this. For there has been no civil war, of all that have occurred in the state within my memory, in which there was not certain to be some form of constitution remaining, whichever of the two sides prevailed. In this war, if we are victorious, I should not find it easy to affirm what kind of constitution we are likely to have; if we are conquered, there will certainly never be any. I therefore proposed severe measures against Antony, and severe ones also against Lepidus, and not so much out of revenge as in order that I might for the present prevent unprincipled men by this terror from attacking their country, and might for the future establish a warning for all who were minded to imitate their infatuation. However, this proposal was not mine more than it was everybody’s. The point in it which had the appearance of cruelty was that the penalty extended to the children who did not deserve any. But that is a thing of long standing and characteristic of all states. For instance, the children of Themistocles were in poverty. And if the same penalty attaches to citizens legally condemned in court, how could we be more indulgent to public enemies? What, moreover, can anyone say against me when he must confess that, had that man conquered, he would have been still more revengeful towards me?
Here you have the principles which dictated my senatorial proposals, at any rate in regard to this class of honours and penalties. For, in regard to other matters, I think you have been told what opinions I have expressed and what votes I have given. But all this is not so very pressing What is really pressing, Brutus, is that you should come to Italy with your army as soon as possible. There is the greatest anxiety for your arrival. Directly you reach Italy all classes will flock to you. For whether we win the victory–and we had in fact won a most glorious one, only that Lepidus set his heart on ruining everything and perishing himself with all his friends-there will be need of your counsel in establishing some form of constitution. And even if there is still some fighting left to be done, our greatest hope is both in your personal influence and in the material strength of your army. But make haste, in ,God’s name! You know the importance of seizing the right moment, and of rapidity What pains I am taking in the interests of your sister’s children, I hope you know from the letters of your mother and sister. In undertaking their Cause I shew more regard to your affection, which is very precious to me, than, as some think, to my own consistency. But there is nothing in which I more wish to be and to seem consistent than in loving you.
MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS TO CICERO (AT ROME)
I have read an extract from your letter to Octavius which was sent me by Atticus. Your zeal and care for my safety gave me no novel pleasure; for it is not merely a matter of habit, but of daily habit, to be told of you that you have said or done something in defence of my position which displayed your fidelity and complimentary opinion of me. But that same extract of your letter to Octavius about us caused me a distress as great as my heart is capable of feeling. For you thank him in the name of the Republic in such terms! With such abject and whispering humbleness-why must I write the word? I blush to think of my position and high estate, yet I must write it-you commend our safety to him! Could any death be worse disaster? You, in fact,. avow that the slavery is not abolished, only the master changed! Recall your words and dare to say that those prayers are not the prayers of an enslaved subject to a tyrant. The one and only thing-you say–that is demanded and expected of him is that he consent to the safety of those citizens, of whom the loyalists and the people have a good opinion. What? If he doesn’t consent, shall we not be safe? And yet it is better not to be than to be by his favour. Upon my honour I do not think that all the gods are so hostile to the safety of the Roman people, that we need entreat Octavius for the safety of any citizen, not to say for “the liberators of the world”–for there is a certain advantage in using strong language, and at any rate there is a propriety in doing so to people who do not know what every man ought to fear or to aim at.
Do you confess, Cicero, that Octavius has this power, and are you his friend? Or, if you regard me with affection, do you wish me to appear at Rome, when in order to do so safely I have had to be recommended to that boy? Why do you thank him, if you think he has to be asked to allow and suffer us to keep our lives? Is it to be regarded as a favour that he has preferred to be himself rather than a second Antony, to whom we had to make petitions like that? Does anyone address to the destroyer of another’s tyranny, and not rather to its successor, a prayer that those who have done the most splendid services to their country may be allowed their lives? This is mere weakness and a counsel of despair. And the fault is not yours more than everyone else’s. It was this that egged on Caesar to desire royalty, and induced Antony after his death to aim at occupying the place of the dead man, and has at the present moment put that boy of yours on such a pedestal, as to make you think that he must be absolutely entreated to grant life to such men as us, and that we shall even now be able to enjoy a bare safety from the pity of one man, and by nothing else whatever. But if we had remembered that we were Romans, these dregs of mankind would not have conceived the ambition of playing the tyrant with more boldness than we should have forbidden it: nor would Antony have had his ambition more roused by Caesar’s royalty, than his fears excited by Caesar’s death. For yourself; a consular and the avenger of such abominable crimes–and I fear that by their suppression the mischief was only postponed by you for a short time–how can you contemplate your own achievements, and at the same time countenance, or at any rate endure these things with such abject humbleness as to have the air of countenancing them? Again, what was your private and personal quarrel with Antony? Why, it was just because he made this very claim–that our safety should be asked as a favour from him; that we should hold our civil rights on sufferance–we from whom he had himself received his freedom; that he should be absolute in the Republic–it was for these reasons that you thought we must take up arms to prevent his playing the tyrant. Was the object of doing so that, when he had been prevented, we should have to petition another man to allow himself to be put in his place? Or was it that the Republic should be its own master and at its own disposal? Surely: unless we are to suppose that our objection was not to slavery but to the terms of our slavery! And yet, not only had we the opportunity of supporting our high estate with Antony as a liberal master, but even of enjoying rewards and honours as his partners to the top of our ambition: for what would he have refused to men, whose submissiveness he saw would be the greatest bulwark of his tyranny? But nothing seemed sufficient to make us barter our honour and freedom.
This very boy, whom the name of Caesar appears to instigate against the slayers of Caesar, what would he give, if there were a chance of such traffic, to be as powerful with our support, as he certainly will be when we choose life for its own sake, and the possession of money, and the title of consulars! But Caesar will have perished in vain: for why did we rejoice at his death, if we were to become none the less slaves when he is dead? No one else cares about these things, but may the gods and goddesses take from me every. thing sooner than the resolution of never conceding what I would not endure in Caesar–I won’t say to the heir of the man I killed, but even to my father himself if he were to come to life again-namely, that he should, without a protest from me, be more powerful than the laws and the senate. Are you so deluded as to think that the rest of the world will be’ free from one without whose consent there is no footing for us in Rome? Moreover, how can you possibly get what you ask? For you ask that he would consent to our safety: do we therefore appear likely to accept safety, since we have accepted life? But how can we accept it, if we previously give up position and liberty? Do you count the fact of living at Rome as complete citizenship? It is circumstance, not the particular place of residence, that must secure me that. I was neither properly a full citizen while Caesar was alive, except when I had resolved upon doing that deed; nor can I ever be anywhere an exile so long as I abhor servitude and submission to insult worse than every other evil. To ask a man who has adopted a tyrant’s name as his own for the safety of the avengers and destroyers of the tyranny–is not this to fall back into the very dungeon from which you have just escaped? Why, in Greek states when tyrants are put down their sons are included under the same punishment. Am I to desire to see a state, or to regard it as a state at all, which is incapable of recovering even a freedom handed down by its ancestors and rooted in its very being, and which is more afraid of the name of a slain tyrant in the person of a mere boy, than confident in itself; though seeing the very man who possessed the most over-weening power removed by the valour of a few? For myself–do not henceforth recommend me to your Caesar, nor yourself either, if you will listen to me. You must have a great value for the few years that your time of life allows you, if for their sake you are going to be a suppliant to that boy of yours. Again, take care that those very splendid attacks which you have made and are still making upon Antony, instead of getting you credit for courage, are not misinterpreted into a belief that you are afraid. For if you think Octavius the sort of person from whom to make petitions for our safety, you will be thought not to have fled from a master, but to have looked out for a more agreeable master. Of your praising him for his conduct up to this time I quite approve, for it deserves to be praised, provided that he adopted these measures against the tyrannical power of another and not in support of his own. But when you shew your opinion that he is not only to be allowed so much power, but is even to have so much tendered to him by yourself; as to be petitioned not to refuse us our lives, you are making a very bad bargain with him, for you are giving away to him the very thing of which the Republic seemed to be in possession through him. And it does not occur to you that, if Octavius deserves those honours for waging war on Antony, to those who have cut up that mischief by the roots–of which the present position is but the last trace–the Roman people will never give what is an adequate reward of their service, though it should heap everything it had to give upon them at once. See too how much more awake people are to actual fear than to the memory of past terrors. Because Antony is still alive and in arms, while in regard to Caesar what could and was bound to be done is all over and cannot be undone, Octavius is the man whose decision as to us is awaited by the Roman people; we are in such a position that one man has to be petitioned to enable us to live. I however–to return to your policy–so far from being the sort of man to supplicate, am one forcibly to coerce those who demand that supplications should be addressed to them. If I can’t do that, I will withdraw far from the servile herd and will for myself regard as Rome wherever I am able to be free. I shall feel only pity for men like yourself; if neither age nor honours nor the example of other men’s courage has been able to lessen your clinging to life. For my part I shall only think myself happy if I abide with firmness and persistency in the idea that my patriotism has had its reward: for what is there better than the memory of good actions, and for a man-wanting nothing except liberty–to disregard the vicissitudes of human life? But at any rate I will not yield to the yielders, nor be conquered by those who are willing to be conquered themselves. I will try every expedient, every plan: and I will never desist from the attempt to rescue our country from slavery. If the luck follows which ought to follow, I shall rejoice: if not, I shall rejoice all the same, for on what better deeds or thoughts can my life be spent than on those which are directed to the liberation of my fellow citizens? For you, Cicero, I beg and entreat you not to give in to fatigue or despair. In warding off actually existing evils ever seek to discover those that will occur if they are not prevented, and so prevent their creeping in upon us. Consider that the brave and independent spirit, with which as consul and now as a consular you have vindicated the freedom of the state, ceases to exist if a consistent and even tenor of conduct is not preserved. For I confess that tried virtue is in a harder position than virtue that is unknown. We exact good deeds as a debt: we assail the reverse with anger in our hearts, as though we were cheated by such men. So, for instance, though it is a most laudable thing that Cicero should resist Antony, yet because the consul of that time is thought naturally to guarantee the consular of today, no one admires him. And if this same Cicero when dealing with others has distorted his judgment, which he kept unshaken with such steadiness and high spirit in routing Antony, he will not only snatch the glory of future action from his own grasp, but will even force his past career to fade from sight (for there is nothing which is truly great in itself; unless it is deliberate and systematic), because no one is under a greater obligation to love the Republic and to be the champion of liberty, whether we regard his ability or his great past or the eager demands upon him from all the world. Wherefore Octavius ought not to be petitioned to consent to our safety. Rather do you rouse yourself to the fixed belief that the state in which you have performed the most splendid services will be free and honoured, if only the people have leaders in their resistance to the plots of traitors.
TO MARCUS JUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
ROME (27 JULY)
AFTER I had often urged you by letter to come as soon as possible to the aid of the state, and to bring your army into Italy, and when I thought that your relatives had no doubt on that subject, I was asked by that most prudent and careful lady your mother–whose every thought and care are directed and devoted to you–to call on her on the 24th of July, which, as in duty bound, I at once did. On my arrival, I found Casca, Labeo, and Scaptius there. Well, she opened the subject and asked me my opinion, whether we should ask you to come to Italy, and whether we thought that to your advantage, or whether it were better that you should put it off and stay where you were. I answered–as was my real opinion–that it was of the highest advantage to your position and reputation to bring help at the first possible moment to the tottering and almost prostrate Republic. For what disaster do you think is wanting in a war, in which the victorious armies refuse to pursue a flying enemy, and in which an officer with imperium in full possession of his rights, enjoying the most splendid honours and the most ample fortune, with wife and children, with you and Cassius related to him by marriage, has yet proclaimed war on the Republic? How can I use the words “in such unanimity of senate and people,” when such fatal mischief abides within our very walls? But the bitterest sorrow which is affecting me as I write this is that, whereas the Republic accepted me as a surety for that youth, or, I might almost say, that boy, I seem scarcely able to make my promise good. Truly, a guarantee for another’s feeling and sentiment, especially in affairs of the greatest importance, is more onerous and difficult than one for money. For money can be paid, and a loss of property is bearable. But how are you to make good what you have guaranteed to the state, unless he for whom you undertook the obligation is willing that it should be fulfilled? However, I shall retain even him, I hope, in spite of many adverse influences. For he seems to have a character of his own, though he is at the pliable time of life, and there are many prepared to corrupt him, who hope that, by holding out before him the glamour of false honour, the sight of a naturally good intelligence may be blinded. Accordingly, to my other labours has been added the task of applying every engine to the keeping of a hold upon the young man, that I may not incur a reputation for rashness. However, where is the rashness? I bound the man, for whom I gave the guarantee, more tightly than I did myself; nor can the state regret my having given a guarantee for one who in the actual campaign was rendered more resolute by my promise, as well as from his own disposition. But, unless I am mistaken, the greatest difficulty in the Republic is the want of money. For the loyalists grow daily more callous to the call for property tax. All that was collected by the one per cent. income tax, owing to the shameless returns made by the wealthy, is exhausted by the bounties given to two legions: whereas endless expenses are hanging over us, both for the armies now protecting us, and for yours–for our friend Cassius seems able to come home very well provided. But of this and many other things I desire to talk to you when we meet, and that as soon as possible. About your sister’s sons, Brutus, I did not wait for you to write. As a matter of fact, the state of the times itself–for the war will be protracted-guarantees that the case will be left for you to decide. But from the very first, though I could not divine the long continuance of the war, I pleaded the cause of the boys in the senate, as I think you Can have learnt from your mother’s letter. Nor will there ever arise any circumstance in which I shall not, even at the risk of my life, say and do whatever I think is your wish and to your interest.