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Cicero. (106 B.C.–43 B.C.). Letters.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Rome, 12 February

VIII. To His Brother Quintus (In Sardinia)

I HAVE already told you the earlier proceedings; now let me describe what was done afterwards. The legations were postponed from the 1st of February to the 13th. On the former day our business was not brought to a settlement. On the 2nd of February Milo appeared for trial. Pompey came to support him. Marcellus spoke on being called upon by me. We came off with flying colours. The case was adjourned to the 7th. Meanwhile (in the senate), the legations having been postponed to the 13th, the business of allotting the quæstors and furnishing the outfit of the prætors was brought before the house. But nothing was done, because many speeches were interposed denouncing the state of the Republic. Gaius Cato published his bill for the recall of Lentulus, whose son thereon put on mourning. On the 7th Milo appeared. Pompey spoke, or rather wished to speak. For as soon as he got up Clodius’ ruffians raised a shout, and throughout his whole speech he was interrupted, not only by hostile cries, but by personal abuse and insulting remarks. However, when he had finished his speech—for he shewed great courage in these circumstances, he was not cowed, he said all he had to say, and at times had by his commanding presence even secured silence for his words—well, when he had finished, up got Clodius. Our party received him with such a shout—for they had determined to pay him out—that he lost all presence of mind, power of speech, or control over his countenance. This went on up to two o’clock—Pompey having finished his speech at noon—and every kind of abuse, and finally epigrams of the most outspoken indecency, were uttered against Clodius and Clodia. Mad and livid with rage, Clodius, in the very midst of the shouting, kept putting questions to his claque: “Who was it who was starving the commons to death?” His ruffians answered, “Pompey.” “Who wanted to be sent to Alexandria?” They answered, “Pompey.” “Whom did they wish to go?” They answered, “Crassus.” The latter was present at the time with no friendly feelings to Milo. About three o’clock, as though at a given signal, the Clodians began spitting at our men. There was an outburst of rage. They began a movement for forcing us from our ground. Our men charged: his ruffians turned tail. Clodius was pushed off the rostra: and then we too made our escape for fear of mischief in the riot. The senate was summoned into the Curia: Pompey went home. However, I did not myself enter the senatehouse, lest I should be obliged either to refrain from speaking on matters of such gravity, or in defending Pompey (for he was being attacked by Bibulus, Curio, Favonius, and Servilius the younger) should give offence to the loyalists. The business was adjourned to the next day. Clodius fixed the Quirinalia (17th of February) for his prosecution. On the 8th the senate met in the temple of Apollo, that Pompey might attend. Pompey made an impressive speech. That day nothing was concluded. On the 9th in the temple of Apollo a decree passed the senate “that what had taken place on the 7th of February was treasonable.” On this day Cato warmly inveighed against Pompey, and throughout his speech arraigned him as though he were at the bar. He said a great deal about me, to my disgust, though it was in very laudatory terms. When he attacked Pompey’s perfidy to me, he was listened to in profound silence on the part of my enemies. Pompey answered him boldly with a palpable allusion to Crassus, and said outright that “he would take better precautions to protect his life than Africanus had done, whom C. Carbo had assassinated.” Accordingly, important events appear to me to be in the wind. For Pompey understands what is going on, and imparts to me that plots are being formed against his life, that Gaius Cato is being supported by Crassus, that money is being supplied to Clodius, that both are backed by Crassus and Curio, as well as by Bibulus and his other detractors: that he must take extraordinary precautions to prevent being overpowered by that demagogue—with a people all but wholly alienated, a nobility hostile, a senate ill-affected, and the younger men corrupt. So he is making his preparations and summoning men from the country. On his part, Clodius is rallying his gangs: a body of men is being got together for the Quirinalia. For that occasion we are considerably in a majority, owing to the forces brought up by Pompey himself: and a large contingent is expected from Picenum and Gallia, to enable us to throw out Cato’s bills also about Milo and Lentulus.  1
  On the 10th of February an indictment was lodged against Sestius for bribery by the informer Cn. Nerius, of the Pupinian tribe, and on the same day by a certain M. Tullius for riot. He was ill. I went at once, as I was bound to do, to his house, and put myself wholly at his service: and that was more than people expected, who thought that I had good cause for being angry with him. The result is that my extreme kindness and grateful disposition are made manifest both to Sestius himself and to all the world, and I shall be as good as my word. But this same informer Nerius also named Cn. Lentulus Vatia and C. Cornelius to the commissioners. On the same day a decree passed the senate “that political clubs and associations should be broken up, and that a law in regard to them should be brought in, enacting that those who did not break off from them should be liable to the same penalty as those convicted of riot.”  2
  On the 11th of February I spoke in defence of Bestia on a charge of bribery before the prætor Cn. Domitius, in the middle of the forum and in a very crowded court; and in the course of my speech I came to the incident of Sestius, after receiving many wounds, in the temple of Castor, having been preserved by the aid of Bestia. Here I took occasion to pave the way beforehand for a refutation of the charges which are being got up against Sestius, and I passed a well-deserved encomium upon him with the cordial approval of everybody. He was himself very much delighted with it. I tell you this because you have often advised me in your letters to retain the friendship of Sestius. I am writing this on the 12th of February before daybreak; the day on which I am to dine with Pomponius on the occasion of his wedding.  3
  Our position in other respects is such as you used to cheer my despondency by telling me it would be—one of great dignity and popularity: this is a return to old times for you and me effected, my brother, by your patience, high character, loyalty, and, I may also add, your conciliatory manners. The house of Licinius, near the grove of Piso, has been taken for you. But, as I hope, in a few months’ time, after the 1st of July, you will move into your own. Some excellent tenants, the Lamiæ, have taken your house in Carinæ. I have received no letter from you since the one dated Olbia. I am anxious to hear how you are and what you find to amuse you, but above all to see you yourself as soon as possible. Take care of your health, my dear brother, and though it is winter time, yet reflect that after all it is Sardinia that you are in.  4
  15 February.  5