<EPISTULAE> AD CAESAREM SENEM DE RE PUBLICA<I>
1. Pro vero antea optinebat regna atque imperia fortunam dono dare, item alia quae per mortaleis avide cupiuntur, quia et apud indignos saepe erant quasi per libidinem data neque quoiquam incorrupta permanserant. 2Sed res docuit id verum esse, quod in carminibus Appius ait, fabrum esse suae quemque fortunae, atque in te maxume, qui tantum alios praegressus es, ut prius defessi sint homines laudando facta tua quam tu laude digna faciundo. 3Ceterum
<LETTERS> TO THE ELDER CAESAR CONCERNING THE AFFAIRS OF STATE1<I>
[ca. Oct. 48 BC]2
1. Previously, it used to be taken for granted that Fortune makes a gift of kingdoms and empires, as well as other objects eagerly coveted among mortals, because those possessions were often in the hands of the undeserving, as if given capriciously, and they had not remained intact under anyone’s control. But experience has demonstrated that what Appius3 stated in his verses is true, that “every man is the fashioner of his own fortune,” and especially so with regard to you, who have excelled others so much so that men have sooner become weary in praising your deeds than you have in doing deeds worthy of praise. But
- 1This is the heading in our sole manuscript V (fol. 127r). Since both essays appear to have been cast in the form of an open letter—the second explicitly referred to as such (2.12.1, perlectis litteris)—“Epistulae” is easily understood. See volume 1, p. xxix n. 34 for a discussion. “Elder” (senem) is designed to distinguish Caesar the Dictator (100–44 BC) from his adopted son Octavian Caesar (63 BC–AD 14), the future emperor Augustus. The need for a distinction did not arise until after the spring of 44, when Octavian took the name C. Julius Caesar under the terms of his great-uncle’s will (Cic. Att. 14.12.2).
- 2The war with Pompey is in the past (§2.2, bellum tibi fuit), so the letter postdates the defeat of Pompey at the Battle of Pharsalus (August 9/June 7, 48 Jul.). 46 BC (the date assigned by Vretska 1.1961, 48) seems unlikely in view of the absence of any mention of the African campaign in 46 and Cato’s suicide.
- 3Appius Claudius Caecus (cens. 312) composed Sententiae in the Saturnian meter, in imitation of the “Golden Verses” of Pythagoras (cf. Cic. Tusc. 4.4).