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Letters to Atticus - Cicero- PDF ebooks

Letters to Atticus by Cicero - Three Volumes - Translated by Eric Otto Winste

Letters to Atticus by Cicero



The letters contained in this volume begin with one written just after Caesar's final victory over the remains of the Pompeian party at Thapsus in April, 46 B.C., and cover three of the last four years of Cicero's life. When they open, Cicero was enjoying a restful interval after the troublous times of the Civil War.

 He had made his peace with Caesar and reconciled himself to a life of retirement and literary activity. In the Senate he never spoke except to deliver a speech pleading for the return from e.xile of his friend Marcellus ; and his only other public appearance was to advocate the cause of another friend, Ligarius. In both he was successful ; and, indeed, so he seems also to have been in private appeals to Caesar on behalf of friends. But their relations were never intimate, and Cicero appears always to have felt ill at ease in Caesar's society,- disliking and fearing him as a possible tyrant or at least an anomaly in a Republican state. 

He evidently felt, too, some natural qualms at being too much of a turn-coat, as he dissuaded his son from joining Caesar's expedition to Spain at the end of the year on that ground, and persuaded him to go to Athens to study instead.3 No doubt he considered that it was more consonant with the dignity which he was always claiming for himself to take no part in public affairs at all than to play a secondary part where he had once been first. Consequently he spent the year 46 peacefully engaged in writing and in liis private affairs ; and even of those we hear little, as he was at Rome the greater part of the time. 

Somewhat under protest he wrote, apparently at the suggestion of the Caesarian party, with most of whom he was on good terms, a work on Cato, which satisfied neither friend nor foe, as Brutus thought it necessary to write another himself, and Caesar composed an Anti-Calo. Of his other writings, two rlietorical works, the Brutus and the Orator, and one philosophical, the Paradoxa, fall in this year. In the early part of it he divorced Terentia, and at the end of it married his rich and youthful ward Publilia ; but he soon separated from her. 

The unhappy marriage between his daughter Tullia and her profligate husband, Dolabella, was dissolved at much the same time, but she only survived for a few months. Her death, which occurred in February, 45 B.C., seems to have prostrated Cicero with grief, and a long series of daily letters, from March to August of that year, are largely filled with reitera- tions of his grief and projects for the erection of a shrine in her honour.

 They are interesting for the ligiit they cast on Atticus' treatment of Cicero when he was unstrung and excited. Atticus evidently disapproved entirely of the project ; but from Cicero's answers one infers that he kept on humour- ing him and at the same time delaying action on his part by continual suggestions of a fresh site for the shrine, knowing that Cicero's ardour would cool and the scheme drop through, as it did..


Author: Marcus Tullius Cicero
Translated by Eric Otto Winstedt
London Heinemann
Publication date: 1912 - 1918

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