Cicero, Ad Familiares 14.4 (29 April, 58 BC)



1. Ego minus saepe do ad vos litteras, quam possum, propterea quod cum omnia mihi tempora sunt misera, tum vero, cum aut scribo ad vos aut vestras lego, conficior lacrimis sic, ut ferre non possim. Quod utinam minus vitae cupidi fuissemus! certe nihil aut non multum in vita mali vidissemus. Quod si nos ad aliquam alicuius commodi aliquando recuperandi spem fortuna reservavit, minus est erratum a nobis; si haec mala fixa sunt, ego vero te quam primum, mea vita, cupio videre et in tuo complexu emori, quoniam neque di, quos tu castissime coluisti, neque homines, quibus ego semper servivi, nobis gratiam rettulerunt.

2. Nos Brundisii apud M. Laenium Flaccum dies XIII fuimus, virum optimum, qui periculum fortunarum et capitis sui prae mea salute neglexit neque legis improbissimae poena deductus est, quo minus hospitii et amicitiae ius officiumque praestaret: huic utinam aliquando gratiam referre possimus! habebimus quidem semper. Brundisio profecti sumus a. d. II K. Mai.: per Macedoniam Cyzicum petebamus.

3. O me perditum! O afflictum! Quid enim? Rogem te, ut venias? Mulierem aegram, et corpore et animo confectam. Non rogem? Sine te igitur sim? Opinor, sic agam: si est spes nostri reditus, eam confirmes et rem adiuves; sin, ut ego metuo, transactum est, quoquo modo potes ad me fac venias. Unum hoc scito: si te habebo, non mihi videbor plane perisse. Sed quid Tulliola mea fiet? iam id vos videte: mihi deest consilium. Sed certe, quoquo modo se res habebit, illius misellae et matrimonio et famae serviendum est. Quid? Cicero meus quid aget? iste vero sit in sinu semper et complexu meo. Non queo plura iam scribere: impedit maeror. Tu quid egeris, nescio: utrum aliquid teneas an, quod metuo, plane sis spoliata.

4. Pisonem, ut scribis, spero fore semper nostrum. De familia liberanda nihil est quod te moveat: primum tuis ita promissum est, te facturam esse, ut quisque esset meritus; est autem in officio adhuc Orpheus, praeterea magno opere nemo; ceterorum servorum ea causa est, ut, si res a nobis abisset, liberti nostri essent, si obtinere potuissent, sin ad nos pertineret, servirent praeterquam oppido pauci. Sed haec minora sunt.

5. Tu quod me hortaris, ut animo sim magno et spem habeam recuperandae salutis, id velim sit eiusmodi, ut recte sperare possimus. Nunc miser quando tuas iam litteras accipiam? quis ad me perferet? quas ego exspectassem Brundisii, si esset licitum per nautas, qui tempestatem praetermittere noluerunt. Quod reliquum est, sustenta te, mea Terentia, ut potes. Honestissime viximus, floruimus: non vitium nostrum, sed virtus nostra nos afflixit; peccatum est nullum, nisi quod non una animam cum ornamentis amisimus; sed, si hoc fuit liberis nostris gratius, nos vivere, cetera, quamquam ferenda non sunt, feramus. Atqui ego, qui te confirmo, ipse me non possum.

6. Clodium Philetaerum, quod valetudine oculorum impediebatur, hominem fidelem, remisi. Sallustius officio vincit omnes. Pescennius est perbenevolus nobis, quem semper spero tui fore observantem. Sicca dixerat se mecum fore, sed Brundisio discessit. cura, quoad potes, ut valeas et sic existimes, me vehementius tua miseria quam mea commoveri. Mea Terentia, fidissima atque optima uxor, et mea carissima filiola et spes reliqua nostra, Cicero, valete. Pr. K. Mai. Brundisio.


Tullius sends his greetings to his Terentia, Tullia, and Cicero

1. I give you letters less than I can, especially, because I am miserable all the time, then indeed, when I either write to you or read your letters, I am in such floods of tears that I cannot bear it. Would that we had less desire for life! Certainly we would have seen nothing or not much evil in life. But if fortune has reserved for us any hope of recovering an opportunity at some point, I have erred less. But if these evils are fixed, I truly wish to see you as soon as possible and to die in your embrace, my darling, since neither the gods, whom you have worshipped most chastely, nor men, whom I have always served, have granted favour to us.

2. We stayed for thirteen days at Brundisium at M. Laenius Flaccus' house, an excellent man, who has ignored the risk to his fortunes and his life for my safety, nor was he compelled by the penalty of a most unjust law to allow that to stand in the way of the right and duty of hospitality and friendship. May we time someday be able to repay him! We will always remember this. We  set out from Brundisium on the 29th of April. We made for Cyzicus via Macedonia.

3. O my ruin! O my disaster! What can I say? Should I ask you to come? A sick woman worn out both in body an mind. Shouldn't I ask you? Am I to be without you, therefore? I think I should do this. If there is any hope of return, you may stay put and help the matter: but if, as I fear, it is a fait accompli, come to me however you are able. Know this one thing: if I have you I will not seem to have totally died. But what will happen to Tulliola? Now look to this: my advice is lacking. But certainly, however the matter turns out, we must protect the poor little girl's marriage and reputation. Again? What should my Cicero do? Let him, truly, always be in my heart and embrace. I can't write anymore. Grief prevents me. I don't know what you have done; whether you possess something or, as I fear, have been openly plundered.

4. As you say, I hope that Piso will always be our friend. There is nothing that should affect you concerning the slaves to be freed. Firstly, you promised your slaves that you would treat each of them as they deserved. Orpheus, however, is still in office, and moreover noone exerts greater effort. The reason for the other slaves is that, if the property is taken from us, they should be our freedmen, if they are able to obtain it, but if the matter pertains to us,  But if my property remained in my ownership, they should be slaves, except for a very few. But these are smaller matters.

5. As to what you encourage me, that I should have a great heart  and have hope of recovering my safety, I wish that it was like this, so that we can rightly hope. Now when shall this wretched one receive your letter? Who will bring it to me? I would have waited for it at Brundisium, if the sailors had allowed it, because they did not want to lose the favourable weather. As for the rest, my Terentia, hold yourself high as far as you can. We have lived most honourably, we have flourished. It is not our fault, but our virtue has struck us down. There is no sin, except that we did not lose our life along with our distinctions. But, if this was more pleasing for our children, that we live, let us bear the rest, although they are unable to be borne. And yet I, who encourage you, cannot do so for myself.

6. I have sent back Clodius Philhetaerus, a faithful man, because he was hampered through weakness of the eyes. Sallustius has defeated all with his dutifulness. Pescennius is very kind to us. I hope that he will always be attentive to you. Sicca had said that he would be with be, but he has left Brundisium. Take care, as far as you are able, so that you are well and think like so -  that I am moved more extremely by your distress than my own. My dear Terentia, most faithful and best of wives, and my darling little daughter, and our last hope, Cicero, good-bye! 29 April, from Brundisium.


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