quid nisi de vitio scribam regionis amarae, utque loco moriar commodiore precer? cum totiens eadem dicam, vix audior ulli, 40verbaque profectu dissimulata carent. et tamen haec eadem cum sint, non scripsimus1 isdem, unaque per plures vox mea temptat opem. an, ne bis sensum lector reperiret eundem, unus amicorum, Brute, rogandus eras2? 45non fuit hoc tanti. confesso ignoscite, docti: vilior est operis fama salute mea. denique materiam quamvis3 sibi finxerit ipse, arbitrio variat multa poëta suo. Musa mea est index nimium quoque vera malorum, 50atque incorrupti pondera testis habet. nec liber ut fieret, sed uti sua cuique daretur littera, propositum curaque nostra fuit. postmodo collectas utcumque sine ordine iunxi: hoc opus electum ne mihi forte putes. 55da veniam scriptis, quorum non gloria nobis causa, sed utilitas officiumque fuit.
that befits it. Of what am I to write save the evils of a bitter country and to pray that I may die in a pleasanter region? I write so often of the same things that scarce any listen, and my words, which they feign not to understand, are without result. And yet the words are always the same, I have not written to the same persons: my cry, always the same, seeks aid through many. Should I—that some reader might not twice find the same sense—petition you alone, Brutus, among my friends? It was not worth the price; pardon the confession, ye men of taste! Cheaper in my eyes is the reputation of my work than my own weal. In fine though he himself may have fashioned the subject, the poet introduces many a variation when led by his judgement. My Muse is but too true an index of my misfortunes; she has all the weight of an incorruptible witness. Not to produce a book, but to send a letter to each has been the object of my care. Later I collected them and put them together somehow, without order—not to have you think perchance that for this work I have made selections. Grant indulgence to my writings, for their purpose has been not my renown but my advantage, and to do homage to others.