numbers. I never saw anything more obliging and humble

wagging tailpower2023-11-30 16:38:26 52 8679

I WAS charmed with your letter, in which, first of all, what I loved was the tenderness which prompted you to write, in alarm lest Silius should by his news have caused me any anxiety. About this news, not only had you written to me before--in fact twice, one letter being a duplicate of the other--shewing me clearly that you were upset, but I also had answered you in full detail, in order that I might, as far as such a business and such a crisis admitted, free you from your anxiety, or at any rate alleviate it. But since you shew in your last also how anxious you are about that matter-- make up your mind to this, my dear Paetus: that whatever could possibly be accomplished by art--for it is not enough nowadays to contend with mere prudence, a sort of system must be elaborated-- however, whatever could be done or effected towards winning and securing the goodwill of those men I have done, and not, I think, in vain. For I receive such attentions, such politenesses from all Caesar's favourites as make me believe myself beloved by them. For, though genuine love is not easily distinguished from feigned, unless some crisis occurs of a kind to test faithful affection by its danger, as gold in the fire, there are other indications of a general nature. But I only employ one proof to convince me that I am loved from the heart and in sincerity--namely, that my fortune and theirs is of such a kind as to preclude any motive on their part for pretending. In regard, again, to the man who now possesses all power, I see no reason for my being alarmed: except the fact that, once depart from law, everything is uncertain; and that nothing can be guaranteed as to the future which depends on another man's will, not to say caprice. Be that as it may, personally his feelings have in no respect been wounded by me. For in that particular point I have exhibited the greatest self-control. For, as in old times I used to reckon that to speak without reserve was a privilege of mine, since to my exertions the existence of liberty in the state was owing, so, now that that is lost, I think it is my duty to say nothing calculated to offend either his wishes or those of his favourites. But if I want to avoid the credit of certain keen or witty epigrams, I must entirely abjure a reputation for genius, which I would not refuse to do, if I could. But after all Caesar himself has a very keen critical faculty, and, just as your cousin Servius--whom I consider to have been a most accomplished man of letters--had no difficulty in saying: "This verse is not Plautus's, this is--" because he had acquired a sensitive ear by dint of classifying the various styles of poets and habitual reading, so I am told that Caesar, having now completed his volumes of bons mots, if anything is brought to him as mine, which is not so, habitually rejects it. This he now does all the more, because his intimates are in my company almost every day. Now in the course of our discursive talk many remarks are let fall, which perhaps at the time of my making them seem to them wanting neither in literary flavour nor in piquancy. These are conveyed to him along with the other news of the day: for so he himself directed. Thus it comes about that if he is told of anything besides about me, he considers that he ought not to listen to it. Wherefore I have no need of your DEnomaus, though your quotation of Accius's verses was very much on the spot. But what is this jealousy, or what have I now of which anyone can be jealous? But suppose the worst. I find that the philosophers, who alone in my view grasp the true nature of virtue, hold that the wise man does not pledge himself against anything except doing wrong; and of this I consider myself clear in two ways, first in that my veiws were most absolutely correct; and second because, when I found that we had not sufficient material force to maintain them, I was against a trial of strength with the stronger party. Therefore, so far as the duty of a good citizen is concerned, I am certainly not open to reproach. What remains is that I should not say or do anything foolish or rash against the men in power: that too, I think, is the part of the wise man. As to the rest--what this or that man may say that I said, or the light in which he views it, or the amount of good faith with which those who continually seek me out and pay me attention may be acting--for these things I cannot be responsible. The result is that I console myself with the consciousness of my uprightness in the past and my moderation in the present, and apply that simile of Accius's not to jealousy, but to fortune, which I hold--as being inconstant and frail--ought to be beaten back by a strong and manly soul, as a wave is by a rock. For, considering that Greek history is full of examples of how the wisest men endured tyrannies either at Athens or Syracuse, when, though their countries were enslaved, they themselves in a certain sense remained free--am I to believe that I cannot so maintain my position as not to hurt anyone's feelings and yet not blast my own character?

numbers. I never saw anything more obliging and humble

I now come to your jests, since as an afterpiece to Accius's DEnomaus, you have brought on the stage, not, as was his wont, an Atellan play, but, according to the present fashion, a mime. What's all this about a pilot-fish, a denarius, and a dish of salt fish and cheese? In my old easy-going days I put up with that sort of thing: but times are changed. Hirthms and Dolabella are my pupils in rhetoric, but my masters in the art of dining. For I think you must have heard, if you really get all news, that their practice is to declaim at my house, and mine to dine at theirs. Now it is no use your making an affidavit of insolvency to me: for when you had some property, petty profits used to keep you a little too close to business; but as things are now, seeing that you are losing money so cheerfully, all you have to do, when entertaining me, is to regard yourself as accepting a "composition"; and even that loss is less annoying when it comes from a friend than from a debtor. Yet, after all, I don't require dinners superfluous in quantity: only let what there is be first-rate in quality and recherche. I remember you used to tell me stories of Phamea's dinner. Let yours be earlier, but in other respects like that. But if you persist in bringing me back to a dinner like your mother's, I should put up with that also. For I should like to see the man who had the face to put on the table for me what you describe, or even a polypus--looking as red as Iupiter Miniatus. Believe me, you won't dare. Before I arrive the fame of my new magnificence will reach you: and you will be awestruck at it. Yet it is no use building any hope on your hors d'aeuvre. I have quite abolished that: for in old times I found my appetite spoilt by your olives and Lucanian sausages. But why all this talk? Let me only get to you. By all means--for I wish to wipe away all fear from your heart--go back to your old cheese-and-sardine dish. The only expense I shall cause you will be that you will have to have the bath heated. All the rest according to my regular habits. What I have just been saying was all a joke.

numbers. I never saw anything more obliging and humble

As to Selicius's villa, you have managed the business carefully and written most wittily. So I think I won't buy. For there is enough salt and not enough savour.

numbers. I never saw anything more obliging and humble


BEING quite at leisure in my Tusculan villa, because I had sent my pupils to meet him, that they might at the same time present me in as favourable a light as possible to their friend, I received your most delightful letter, from which I learnt that you approved my idea of having begun--now that legal proceedings are abolished aiid my old supremacy in the forum is lost--to keep a kind of school, just as Dionysius, when expelled from Syracuse, is said to have opened a school at Corinth. In short, I too am delighted with the idea, for I secure many advantages. First and foremost, I am strengthening my position in view of the present crisis, and that is of primary importance at this time. How much that amounts to I don't know: I only see that as at present advised I prefer no one's policy to this, unless, of course, it had been better to have died. In one's own bed, I confess it might have been, but that did not occur: and as to the field of battle, I was not there. The rest indeed-- Pompey, your friend Lentulus, Afranius--perished ingloriously. But, it may be said, Cato died a noble death. Well, that at any rate is in our power when we will: let us only do our best to prevent its being as necessary to us as it was to him. That is what I am doing. So that is the first thing I had to say. The next is this: I am improving, in the first place in health, which I had lost from giving up all exercise of my lungs. In the second place, my oratorical faculty, such as it was, would have completely dried up, had I not gone back to these exercises. The last thing I have to say, which I rather think you will consider most important of all, is this: I have now demolished more peacocks than you have young pigeons! You there revel in Haterian law-sauce, I here in Hirtian hot-sauce. Come then, if you are half a man, and learn from me the maxims which you seek: yet it is a case of "a pig teaching Minerva." But it will be my business to see to that: as for you, if you can't find purchasers for your foreclosures and so fill your pot with denaril, back you must come to Rome. It is better to die of indigestion here, than of starvation there. I see you have lost money: I hope these friends of yours have done the same. You are a ruined man if you don't look out. You may possibly get to Rome on the only mule that you say you have left, since you have eaten up your pack horse. Your seat in the school, as second master, will be next to mine: the honour of a cushion will come by-and-by.


I WAS doubly charmed by your letter, first because it made me laugh myself, and secondly because I saw that you could still laugh. Nor did I in the least object to being overwhelmed with your shafts of ridicule, as though I were a light skirmisher in the war of wits. What I am vexed at is that I have not been able, as I intended, to run over to see you: for you would not have had a mere guest, but a brother-in-arms. And such a hero! not the man whom you used to do for by the hors d'aeuvre. I now bring an unimpaired appetite to the egg, and so the fight is maintained right up to the roast veal. The compliments you used to pay me in old times "What a contented person !" "What an easy guest to entertain !" are things of the past. All my anxiety about the good of the state, all meditating of speeches to be delivered in the senate, all getting up of briefs I have cast to the winds. I have thrown myself into the camp of my old enemy Epicurus not, however, with a view to the extravagance of the present day, but to that refined splendour of yours I mean your old style when you had money to spend (though you never had more landed estate). Therefore prepare! You have to deal with a man, who not only has a large appetite, but who also knows a thing or two. You are aware of the extravagance of your bourgeois gentilhomtne. You must forget all your little baskets and your omelettes. I am now far advanced in the art that I frequently venture to ask your friend Verrius and Camillus to dinner--what dandies! how fastidious! But think of my audacity: I even gave Hirtius a dinner, without a peacock however. In that dinner my cook could not imitate him in anything but the hot sauce.

So this is my way of life nowadays: in the morning I receive not only a large number of "loyalists," who, however, look gloomy enough, but also our exultant conquerors here, who in my case are quite prodigal in polite and affectionate attentions. When the stream of morning callers has ebbed, I wrap myself up in my books, either writing or reading. There are also some visitors who listen to my discourses under the belief of my being a man of learning, because I am a trifle more learned than themselves. After that all my time is given to my bodily comfort. I have mourned for my country more deeply and longer than any mother for her only son. But take care, if you love me, to keep your health, lest I should take advantage of your being laid up to eat you out of house and home. For I am resolved not to spare you even when you are ill.



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