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Cicero, Letters to Atticus 4.3




Cicero Ad Atticum

Scr. Romae viii Kal. Dec. an. 57

[1] I assuredly know that you desire both to know what is being done here and to know my doings from me, not that matters, which are being done in the eyes of all, are more reliable if they are written by me than when by others they are written or reported to you, but so that you might perceive from my letters in what frame of mind I bear these things which are being done and what is at that time either the sentiments of my mind or [what is] wholly the condition of my life.

[2] By armed men on the third of November the workmen were driven out from our site, the porticus of Catulus, which was being rebuilt by a contract of the consuls and had nearly reached up to the roof, was razed, the house of my brother Quintus was shattered by a volley of stones from our site, then set on fire by the order of Clodius, while the city looks, with a volley of firebrands, with a great complaint and groaning–I don't say of good citizens, who I'm inclined to think don't exist, but certainly of all men. That senseless man fell to ruin, after this madness in fact, he thought nothing except the slaughter of his enemies, he went around from street to street, [and] openly held out the hope of freedom to slaves. For indeed formerly when he was destroying the legal investigation, he had indeed a difficult and plainly guilty case, but nevertheless a case; he could deny, he could divert [it] to others, he could even defend something was done in the right. After these destructions, these acts of arson, these robberies he has been abandoned by his own, he scarcely now retains Decimus the usher, he scarcely retains Gellius, he employs the advice of slaves, he sees, if he kills openly everyone whom he wants, that his own case is going to be more difficult in no way than it is at present.

[3] And so on the eleventh of November, when I was going down on the Sacred Way, he followed me with his own men. There was shouting, stones, clubs, swords, all these things occurred unexpectedly. We dispersed into the courtyard of Tettius Damio. Those who were with me easily held back his mob from the entrance. He himself could have been killed, but I am beginning to take care by diet, surgery wearies me. That man, since he saw that he was being driven not to court but to immediate punishment, by the voices of everyone, he thereafter turned all the Catilines into Acidinii. For he tried to storm and burn in this fashion the home of Milo, that one which is in the Cermalus, on the twelfth of November, so that openly at the fifth hour he brought alone men with shields–their swords having been drawn–others with lit torches. He himself took up the home of Publius Sulla for himself for the camp for that assault. Then from the Annian house of Milo, Quintus Flaccus brought out his brave men. He slew the most notorious men out of the whole Clodian gang, he wanted to kill that very man, but he [the text is defective here]. There was a meeting of the senate on the 14th. Clodius was at home. Marcellinus was outstanding, all were resolute. Metellus wasted time for speaking by chicanery, with Appius assisting, also by hercules your friend, about whose steadfastness of life there is that most true letter of yours. Sestius was furious. Afterwards that man, if his own elections did not happen, threatened the city. With the opinion of Marcellinus having been published, which he had spoken in such a way from writing that he embraced in his judgment all entire case of the site, of the fires, of my danger and he would consider all these things before the elections, Milo proclaimed that he was going to observe signs from the sky during all the comitial days.

[4] There were the rowdy public meetings of Metellus, the rash ones of Appius, the very furious ones of Publius, nevertheless this was the sum total [of the meetings]: unless Milo announced ill omens in the campus, there were going to be elections. On the 19th of November Milo before midnight with a great band of men came into the campus. Clodius, when he had select troops of runaway slaves, did not dare go into the campus. Milo held out to midday with the wonderful joy of men, with the greatest glory. The struggle of the three brothers was disgraceful, their violence was shattered, their madness was despised. Nevertheless Metellus demanded that omens be declared to himself on the next day in the forum. [He said that] there is no reason why he was coming to the campus at night. He would be in the comitium at daybreak. And so on the 20th Milo came into the comitium before daybreak. Metellus with the first light hurried furtively by out of the way paths to the campus; Milo reached that man between the groves [and] announced his omens. That man returned himself with the great and insulting censure of Quintus Flaccus. The 21st was a market day. For two days there was no public meeting.

[5] I was writing this on the 23rd at the ninth hour of the night. Milo already holds the campus. The candidate Marcellus was snoring thus that I–his neighbor–hear it. It is reported to me that the courtyard of Clodius is empty, really, a few ragged men without lanterns [are there]. They complained that everything is being done by my advice, they are unacquainted with how much spirit is in that hero, also how much wisdom. His courage is astonishing. I pass over certain new godlike [acts]. But this is sum of things. I don't think that there is going to be an election; I think that Publius is going to be a defendant unless he will be killed earlier by Milo. If he presents himself now in a disturbance to him, I see that he is going to be killed by Milo himself. He does not hesitate to act, he shows his demeanor. He does not dread that fate of ours, for he is never going to employ the advice of anyone jealous or faithless nor is he going to trust a sluggish aristocracy.

[6] We flourish in spirit as far as one estimates even more than when we bloomed. We are weakened with respect to domestic resource. Nevertheless we repay the generosity of my brother Quintus as far as my means allow, lest I be drained completely, with the aid of my friends, while he protests. We don't know what plan we should take concerning our entire condition while you are away. Therefore hurry back.

TTranslation Copyright © 2000 by Ulysses K. Vestal
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