This lesson begins with a continuation of Plutarch’s Life of Cicero. Plutarch is describing Cicero’s exile.
Although many people visited him and the cities of Greece competed for the honor of being his host, Cicero was broken-hearted. Like an unlucky lover, he often looked back to Italy. He was so sad, so humiliated, and so broken by his misfortunes that no one could have expected a philosopher to behave in the way he did.
He would often ask his friends not to call him an orator but to call him a philosopher instead. He said it was philosophy that he loved and that he only used rhetoric as a tool. But the love of fame can wash philosophy out of the souls of men. Custom can stamp the passions of the common people in the minds of those that govern them. This will always happen if the politician allows himself to be ruled by the passions that arise in politics.
When Clodius had forced Cicero into exile he burned his farms and his house in the city. He built a temple there to Liberty. By these actions, Clodius became so sure of himself that he began to fight against Pompey and he attacked some things Pompey had done. This made Pompey regret that he had not stood by Cicero and now he changed his mind and began to work for Cicero’s return.
When Clodius opposed this, the Senate voted that no law should be passed by them until Cicero was called back from exile. While Lentulus was Consul, the fights about Cicero’s exile were so bloody that Tribunes were wounded in the Forum, and Quintus, Cicero’s brother, was badly wounded.
[Lentulus Spinther Consul, 57 B.C.]
The People,too, began to change their minds. One of their Tribunes was Titus Annius Milo, and he was the first who attacked Clodius. Many of the common people joined with Pompey and Milo and together they drove Clodius out of the Forum. Then the People voted about whether to bring Cicero back. It is said that no law had ever been passed as large a margin as this one. The Senate tried to compete with the People and sent letters of thanks to every city that had been a host to Cicero and passed a law that his house and country places, which Clodius had destroyed, should be rebuilt at public expense. Cicero returned sixteen months after he had been exiled. The People were so eager to meet him that what he boasted of afterwards - that Italy had brought him on her shoulders home to Rome - was really an understatement.
Next follows a continuation of theLife of Cato by Plutarch.
When Cicero returned from his banishment, he was eager to get revenge on Clodius. Being once again very popular with the People, he went to the Capitol and removed the records of all of the laws that Clodius had passed while Tribune. When the Senate assembled, Clodius complained about this and Cicero answered that Clodius had been Tribune illegally, and that therefore whatever he had done was illegal. But Cato interrupted him while he spoke and said that though he did not approve of what Clodius had done, his own actions in Cyprus would be declared illegal, if what Clodius had done as Tribune were to be declared illegal, because Clodius had sent him to Cyprus. Cato said that he thought that Clodius had been legally elected Tribune, for the law had allowed him to transfer from a Patrician into a Plebeian family. Cicero was very angry that Cato defended Clodius. For a long time, they were not friends.
[Meeting at Lucca, 56 B.C.]
Pompey and Crassus, by agreement with Caesar who had crossed the Alps to see them, made a plan that they would be elected Consuls a second time and that they would make sure that Caesar would be given control of Gaul for five more years. This was a plain conspiracy to overthrow the constitution and to divide the territory of the Republic. Several honest men had planned to run for the Consulship that year, but when they saw they had to run against Crassus and Pompey, they all gave up except for Lucius Domitius. He had married Porcia, the sister of Cato, and Cato persuaded him to run even though it was dangerous. Cato told Domitius that he was running not just for the Consulship but to save the liberty of Rome.
In the meantime, many of the people realized that they should not allow Pompey and Crassus to hold the Consulship which would give them great power and would be dangerous to the Republic. They decided that only one of them should be elected. For these reasons, they supported Domitius and encouraged him. Pompey’s faction saw what was happening and attacked Domitius by force. They killed one of his servants and wounded several others. All of the rest of his friends ran except Cato and himself. Even though Cato was wounded in the arm, he tried to encourage the friends of Domitius to make a fight and not to give up the defense of their liberty against the tyrants who were clearly showing that they were by using force, but finally Domitius too became scared and he hid in his own house. Pompey and Crassus were elected.
It is difficult to describe the situation in Rome after Cicero’s return. Caesar was in Gaul winning great victories and sending reports of them to the Senate. Pompey and Crassus remained in Rome, but Pompey had his hands full with Clodius. Pompey was supported by Milo who balanced the power of Clodius. It is also difficult to describe Cicero’s actions during this time. The best single source
for explaining his actions is found in a letter he wrote in 54 B.C. to Lentulus Spinther.
Thanks to your actions, my dear friend, I was restored not only to my family and friends but to the Republic. I owe you more thanks than I will ever be able to repay. To the Republic, which had helped you to bring me back, I felt I owed the deepest loyalty, the same deep loyalty that I had always given it.
During your Consulship, the Senate heard me say these things and we talked about them in private. Even though I had great respect for Pompey - to whom I owed a great deal - I did not repect his wishes but stuck to all of my old political ideas.
During the trial of Sestius, I said in Pompey’s presence that I thought that what had happened to Bibulus was worth more than any man’s Triumphs and victories. I said that the same people who had not allowed Bibulus to leave his house had forced me to leave mine. Indeed, I attacked all of the actions of the Consulship of Caesar and Bibulus and I spoke with great spirit. In the year that Marcellinus and Philippus were Consuls, the Senate actually adopted a proposal of mine that the question of the Campanian land should be debated by the entire Senate. Was not that invading the central fortress of our rulers? And could I have shown myself more ready to forget my past misfortunes?
That speech caused a sensation not only where I had wanted it to but in quite unexpected places as well. After the Senate had passed the decree agreeing with my motion, Pompey - without giving me any sign of anger - left Rome and joined Caesar at Lucca. There, Caesar complained about my motion on the Campanian Law. He had already been stirred up against me by Crassus. Pompey was very upset. I heard this from many sources but most important was my brother. Pompey met him a few days after leaving Lucca.
“You’re the very man I want”, Pompey told him, “Unless you talk seriously to your brother, Marcus, you are going to break the promises you gave me about him.” He argued with my brother and mentioned everything that he had done for me and he reminded him of the many discussions they had had together about the laws Caesar had passed, and the promises my brother had given him about my future actions. He reminded my brother that his support for my return had had Caesar’s support. He asked him to encourage me to support Caesar and requested that if I could not defend Caesar’s actions I should at least not attack them.
Though my brother told me all those things, Pompey also sent a friend of his and asked me not to discuss the Campanian law until he returned. Then I sat down and thought. It was like a dialogue between me and the Republic. After all I had suffered and gone through for my country I asked whether she would allow me to keep my word and honor the promises given by my brother. I asked whether she would allow a loyal citizen - as I have always been - to be a man of honor also.
All this time I was acting and speaking in a way that might anger Pompey. It was then that I heard how the Optimates were talking. What I was now doing was consistent with their past and present political beliefs. Even so, I found out that they were glad that Pompey was becoming angry at me and were delighted that Caesar would be my enemy in the future. This was bad enough, but what was worse was the way they acted towards my enemy - no, not my enemy - I should rather say the enemy of the law, justice and peace, the enemy of Rome and of all honest men. This individual they chose to support right before my very eyes. It was not enough to make me angry - because that emotion I no longer feel. When I saw this I reviewed all of my positions and decided then to do what I have done.
I had, therefore, no choice but to patch things up with Caesar - for as you well understand the interests of Pompey and Caesar were closely connected. I should also add that I have long been friends with Caesar and so has Quintus. You know of all the nice things that Caesar has done for us. In addition, patriotism encouraged me to do this. I decided that it was not in the best interests of our country that there should be a fight with these men, especially after the great things Caesar had done in Gaul. I decided the country did not need a civil war.
But the most important thing which persuaded me was the guarantee which Pompey had given to Caesar and which my brother gave to Pompey. It was then that I realized the truth of what our friend Plato wrote: “The members of any political society begin to resemble their leaders.”
I remembered that from the first day of my Consulship, foundations were laid for making the Senate stronger so that no one should have been surprised by the courage that they demonstrated during the month of December.
I also remembered that from the day that I resigned my office down to the Consulship of Caesar and Bibulus, so long as my views remained supported by the Senate, all honest men were pretty much of one mind.
Later, when the state had no Consuls but only greedy men looking for a province and rabble-rousing troublemakers, my life was thrown into danger. At that crisis, I was defended by the Senate, by all Italy and all honest men, and this was a great and wonderful thing. Why I was exiled I cannot say. It is difficult to explain, and many people must share the blame. Let me just say that it was not an army that I lacked, but generals.
When I returned, my enemies thought I would be humble. The truth was that my country had made me prouder than I had ever been in my life. Had she not said openly that she could not go on without me, one single citizen? I was brought back to Rome by the entire Republic. The law which brought me back was supported by almost every magistrate and was moved by you as Consul at the Assembly of the Centuries with the strong support of all classes and individuals. To put it simply, the entire Republic brought about my return.
I do not claim that all I have done since then is perfect. I try to help my friends with hard work. The way I live makes those who do not see how hard I am working angry with me. I often hear myself criticized because I have deserted the cause by speaking in favor of Caesar. I have told you why I have done this and I have one more important reason to mention.
You have been away from Rome since your Consulship. If you returned, you would see that there is not the same harmony among the honest men that there was when you left. Made strong in my Consulship, then weakened from time to time, broken completely before you became Consul, and then restored by you, it has now been left behind by those who should have supported it. You can see this in their faces and they have showed it in many votes in the Senate and the court rooms. It is the fault of those men who in the world we used to know were called Optimates. For these reasons, all intelligent men have had to change their point of view.
Let me mention Plato here again, for he is a great authority with me. He tells us to take part in politics for the good of our fellow-citizens but never to use force against our native land. He explained why he kept out of politics in the following way: He found the people of Athens to be foolish and senseless and saw they could be governed either by persuasion or force. He did not think he could persuade them and he thought that forcing them to do things was a crime.
My situation was different. I was not dealing with a nation that was decaying, nor did I have the choice about whether or not to take part in politics because I already was taking part. I congratulated myself on having a cause that I could work for which was both good for me and respectable to any honest man.
Another incentive was Caesar’s great generosity towards my brother. He would have deserved my support no matter how he was doing, but when we look at the amazing string of victories he has won, I would think that he should be respected even if he were not a friend.
You now begin to understand why I act as I do. I would like to make clear to you that my opinions would be just the same if I had a completely free choice.
I would not be in favor of fighting against such a great power nor of abolishing the powers of our great citizens even if I thought that were possible.
I do not see the sense in sticking to the same set of opinions when things have changed and the sentiments of honest men are no longer the same. I believe in moving with the times.
Rigid consistency has never been considered a virtue in great statesmen.
At sea, it is good sailing to run with the wind. And if the ship can get to harbor by changing tack, only a fool would risk shipwreck by holding to the original course rather than change to reach port safely. For the same reason, while all of us as statesmen should set before our eyes the goal of peace with honor to which I have so often pointed, it is our aim, not our language, which must always be the same. Therefore my politics would be exactly what they now are, even if my hands were free.
You asked me to send you the things I have written since you left Rome. There are a few speeches - don’t worry, there aren’t too many of them! I am starting to move away from oratory and to go back to the more gentle Muses which please me best as they always have. I have written three volumes of a dialogue called On the Orator. I have tried to imitate Aristotle. I think your son will find it useful.
This was the letter to Lentulus Spinther. It’s important to note its date was December, 54 B.C.
What follows is an excerpt from a speech Cicero made in defense of Sestius in 56 B.C. This speech was made two years earlier when Cicero was more optimistic and still hoped that the control of Rome by three men might be prevented.
There have always been two kinds of men in the Republic who have held political office. One of these aimed at being the friends of the People; the other claimed to be the best men. Those who wished everything they did and said to be liked by the people were called ‘Popular’ and those who tried to please the best citizens were called ‘Optimates’.
But who are these ‘best citizens’ of yours? In number, they are infinite - for otherwise, we could not exist. They include those who rule the Republic and those who follow their lead. They include the Senate, they include Romans living in the country, and they include businessmen. In its numbers, I repeat, this class is spread far and wide. But to prevent misunderstanding, the whole class can be summed up and defined in a few words.
All are the best men who are not criminals nor vicious nor debt-ridden nor revolutionary. It follows then that those who are moral, sane and respectable are the best men. What principle guides these men? That which is best and most desirable for all who are sound and good and prosperous: it is peace with honor. Those who desire this should be called the best men; those who achieve it are the greatest men and the saviors of the Republic. For just as it is bad to be so carried away by ambition that peace comes second, so too it is bad to accept a peace which is dishonorable. Now this peace with honor has the following foundations which our leaders ought to protect and defend even at the risk of life itself: religion, the lawful powers of the magistrates, the authority of the Senate, the laws, custom, the administration of justice, credit, our provinces, our allies, the power of our empire, the army, and the treasury. To be a defender of so many interests requires spirit, great ability and great courage.
For in a large body of citizens, there are many who either from fear of being punished for their crimes seek to cause revolution and changes of government or, who because they are naturally revolutionary love civil war, or who because of debts prefer revolution to their own ruin. When such men as these become leaders, storms rise in the Republic so that everyone else must watch and try with all their skill and vigilance to secure peace with honor. If I were to deny, gentlemen, that this is difficult, I should be telling a lie. This lie could not be excused because I have not only always understood that this is true, but also because experience has taught me the hard way how true this is.
There are greater forces for attacking than for defending the Republic. The reason is that reckless men need only a hint to set them moving while honest people show less activity. They do not notice the beginnings of revolution and are called to action only at the last moment. Wishing to enjoy peace even without honor, they often lose both.
Throughout our history there are many great examples of vigilant men. I beg you to imitate these examples, you who want honor, praise, and glory. These examples are mentioned in day-to-day conversations, they are recorded in history, and they have been handed down to you. It is difficult to imitate these men, I do not deny it. There are great risks, I admit it. Truly has it been said, many traps have been set for the good.
But I have a few more things to tell you about the best men and who their leaders are and about the defenders of the Republic. You young Romans who are nobles by birth, I encourage you to imitate the example of your ancestors. And you others who can win nobility by your virtues, I encourage you to follow the career which many new men have done before you. Believe me, the only path to honor is to deserve the praise and good-will of patriots who are wise and good. What is most important is to understand the constitution of our great Republic, which was established by our ancestors.
When the rule of Kings had become intolerable to them, they created Consuls who would hold power for one year only. They set up a Senate that would guide the Republic forever. They wanted anyone with ability and virtue to be a Senator. The Senate was set up as the guardian and the defender of the Republic. They wanted the magistrates to be guided and advised. In addition, they wanted the Senate to be supported by the other classes which were next to it - especially the Knights - and that the Senate should always be ready to protect the liberty and interests of all the people. All those who defend these principles to the best of their power are the true Optimates no matter what class they belong to. Those who do their duty to the Republic will always be considered the best men and the saviors of their country.
But I admit there are many who hate men like this. These men have many enemies, many dangers surround them. They must suffer much. They have to encounter injury and death.
But my speech is addressed to virtue, not to laziness, to honor, not to quiet, to those who think they are born for their country, for their fellow-citizens, for glory, not for sleep, for feasting, or for pleasure. For if they are led astray by pleasure and have given themselves up to vice and desire let them keep out of politics, let them avoid public life, let them enjoy their pleasure and give thanks for it to the struggles of brave men.
But those who want to be considered loyal citizens – the only thing which can be called true glory - ought to seek pleasure for others, not for themselves. They must work for the common interest, they must expose themselves to dangers, they must often face storms for the sake of the Republic, they must be ready to fight against bold, wicked and sometimes with very powerful men. That is what we have heard. That is what history teaches us. That is what we have read about how our most famous citizens have fought and acted.
Throughout our history we never see those men praised who have stirred up the people to violence or who have blinded the minds of the inexperienced by bribes or who have disgraced brave and illustrious men who have deserved rewards from the public. Our people have always considered such men to be untrustworthy, and to be reckless, wicked, dangerous citizens.
On the other hand, those who have checked their attacks and efforts, those who by their influence, their loyalty, their firmness, their greatness of soul, have resisted the evil plans of villains, have always been regarded as men of great worth, as our true leaders and as those to whom we own our greatness. Let no one be frightened to follow this way of life because of the bad things that have happened to me or have happened to anyone else.
It is not just in our own history but even among the Athenians - who were only Greeks and very different from our own people in the strength of their character - even there, I say, there was never a lack of a defender of the city against the foolishness of the people, although those who defended it were often banished from the city. Remember the great Themistocles. He did not give up his patriotism because of what had happened to Miltiades who had just saved it, or the exile of Aristides - the one man who was called “The Just!” Later, other men of Athens whom I do not need to mention by name, even they saw how foolish the people were and how easy it was to fool them, stood up for their city. I ask you Romans, if Greeks did this, what should we do? We who have been born in this Republic which is the birth place of strong and noble characters, who have reached such heights of power and glory that all human history can show nothing to rival us! We are Romans who have defended a Republic whose worth is so great, that to die in its defense is more to be desired than - by fighting against it - to gain supreme power.
Those men of Greece whom I mentioned before and who were unjustly banished by their fellow-citizens are today famous and honored not only in Greece but here as well. As a result, no one remembers the names of the people who banished them but remembers only them.
Who was the greatest Carthaginian? Was it not Hannibal, who fought for so many years against us? He was forced into exile by his fellow-citizens. Although he was our enemy, we find that he is remembered in our books and our memories.
Therefore, let us imitate our ancestors; men like Brutus, Camillus, Scipio and many others who built up this Republic and who, I believe, are now in heaven. Let us love our country! Let us obey the Senate! Let us serve the interests of loyal citizens! Let us disregard present advantages! Let us work for glory in years to come! Let us think that what is best is that which is good! Let us pursue our goals, but let us have the strength to accept what comes! Lastly, let us remember that if the body of a brave and great man is mortal, yet his soul and the glory of his virtue are eternal. Let us all believe that those who have defended and preserved this mighty Republic will gain immortal glory!
58 B.C. Piso and Gabinius Consuls; Clodius Tribune
March: Cicero leaves Rome
April: Pompey and Clodius begin fighting.
May: Pompey begins to work for recall of Cicero.
July: Clodius begins to attack Caesar.
August 11: Clodius forces Pompey to hide in his house.
October 29: Law recalling Cicero vetoed by a Tribune.
December: Sestius visits Caesar to ask for his support for Cicero.
57 B.C. Publius Lentulus Spinther and Q. Metellus Nepos, Consuls.
Until July, fighting between gangs controlled by Clodius and other gangs led by Pompey’s
supporters Milo and Sestius over support of the law to bring Cicero back from exile.
August, : Cicero recalled from exile by Senate and People of Rome.
September 4: Cicero returns to Rome.
September 5: Cicero publicly welcomed by the Senate and People of Rome.
October: Cicero declares that all of Clodius’ laws as Tribune were illegal.
Angers Cato who supports Clodius’ actions while Tribune
56 B.C. Marcellinus and Philippus Consuls
Early Months: L. Domitius runs for Consul, says he will take Gaul from Caesar if elected.
February to 11 March: Trial of Sestius, who is defended by Cicero and acquitted. He had been accused by Caesar’s supporters.
April 5: Cicero calls for 15 May debate on Caesar’s Campanian Law (of 59 B.C.)
July: Cicero “backs down” by supporting law extending by five years Caesar’s command in Gaul.
Fall: Elections postponed.
55 B.C. Pompey and Crassus elected Consuls by force with support from Caesar’s soldiers.
Pompey to control Spain; Crassus to Syria for five years.
LESSON XIII – Supplement
The supplement to Lesson XIII is a dialogue between Cicero and a Greek philosopher whom he met in Athens. This conversation took place during Cicero’s exile and it is reported by Diokassius. The philosopher’s name was Philiscus.
PHILISCUS: Are you not ashamed, Cicero, to be crying and acting like a woman? I would never have expected this of you, you who have had such a good education and who have defended so many. I would never have thought you could be so weak.
CICERO: It is a very different thing to give advice to others and to follow that same advice yourself. When we advise others, our minds are strong, but when we run into disaster, our minds become weak. For this reason it is much easier to help others than to help oneself.
PHILISCUS: That may be human nature but I did not think that you – who have so much wisdom – could have failed to prepare yourself for all disasters.
But since I see that you are so upset, I thought that I might be able to help you. I hope you will not be angry at me for offering to help you. The truth is that if Hippocrates himself got sick, he would have to go to a doctor.
CICERO: If you can say anything that will bring me back my happiness, I am ready to listen. For words are like medicine and it is probable that you will be able – by your philosophy – to help me even though I have done so much in the Senate, the Assemblies, and the law courts.
PHILISCUS: Since you are ready to listen, let us first consider whether what has happened to you is actually bad. Next, let us find out how we may cure you.
First of all, I see that you are still healthy and strong, which is the greatest gift that nature can give. And I see also that you are not poor. When one’s physical condition is good and one can live without fear of starving, two of the things that make happiness possible are present.
CICERO: But none of these things are of any use when sadness fills your mind. Mental grief causes more pain than physical comfort causes pleasure. I do not think much about my physical health because my mind is troubled.
PHILISCUS: If you had lost the things which were necessary for life, I could understand your pain. But you have all that is necessary. Why then do you want more? We do not need anything more than is necessary. You did not come into the world with the things that you have lost. And you should remember that the things that you have lost were things you had to win. Ship captains are prepared for great losses because they know that the same sea that gives them wealth can always take it away again. I believe that we should be happy with the things that are necessary and that everything extra just causes us trouble.
You tell me that you cannot enjoy your physical health because your mind is sad, but I think it is much easier to control one’s mental health than one’s physical health. It is difficult to heal the body, but our souls can be trained.
I can see that you are a man of wisdom. The proof is this is that you have often persuaded both the Senate and the People.
Next, I see that you are a just man. You have always been loyal to your country and worked hard for your friends. Indeed, it is this which has caused the pain you are now feeling. For you have often said that everything you do is to support the Republic.
You have also shown much self-control, for it is impossible for a man who is a slave to pleasure to work as hard as you do; to always be coming before the People and working in the Forum.
Because of these things I thought that you were also very brave, for you are so intelligent and are such a great orator. But it seems because things have turned out differently from what you expected, you have lost your courage. I hope that you will get it back.
CICERO: Are you telling me, Philiscus, that you think it is not a terrible thing to be exiled and not to be living at home with your friends? To be forced away from your country, to live in a foreign land, and wander through the world as an exile, being laughed at by your enemies and bringing sadness to your friends?
PHILISCUS: No, I do not think that these are evils. We human beings are made of two things, soul and body. Each part experiences some good things and some bad things. These things which you mentioned: being banished and away from home – are disgraceful and bad only because people think they are bad. Neither of these things can destroy the body or the soul. You cannot mention to me anybody who has died or any soul that has become wicked because it was exiled. The reason is that things like this are not bad bynature but by convention. For neither citizenship nor living at home is by its nature a good thing; it is our opinions about them that make them seem to be good. You know that there are many men who chose to live away from home for a long time and some even spend their whole life traveling from one place to the other. They do not think that their lives are ruined. So you should see that it is not just being exiled that bothers you.
Perhaps what is bringing you pain is the fact that even though you have done you country no harm, and in fact have helped her a great deal, you have been forced to leave. But it seems to me that it is a great blessing to be treated unjustly without having done anything wrong. You did everything that a citizen should do - not just as an individual, but as Consul. Everything you did was for the good of the Republic. Because of their superior power, certain other people have ruined you. But these are the people who are truly sad, for they have been unjust.
You, Cicero, must be noble and show courage and accept what heaven has given you. Surely you would not prefer to have joined with Catiline and conspired with Lentulus! Surely you would not prefer to have given your country bad advice and to have done none of the things you ought to have done, if you could remain at home as the reward of wickedness instead of saving your country by being exiled! If you care for your reputation at all, it is far better to have been forced away without having done anything wrong. The person who should be ashamed is the person who has unjustly thrown a good man out and not the man who has been unjustly exiled.
Besides, Cicero, I have heard that you left of your own free will - that you hated to live with wicked men and that if you could not make them better you would rather leave. You did not leave behind your country but those who were destroying it. These are the men who are dishonored and banished. They have exiled all good from their souls and you are the one who is lucky and honored. You are nobody’s slave, whether you choose to live in Sicily or in Greece or anywhere else in the world. For surely it is not places that bring us success or misfortune, but each man creates his own country and his own happiness always and everywhere.
This was the feeling of Camillus when he was exiled. It was also the way Aristides and Themistocles accepted what happened to them. And do not forget, Cicero, that Solon left his home by his own free will for ten years.
Do not, therefore, think that things which do not hurt either our body or our soul are evils. And do not be pained by what you cannot change. We must accept what heaven gives. If we do this of our own free will we will not be sad. But even if we do not do it of our free will, we cannot escape it, and by doing so, we will bring on ourselves the worst of evils - we will bring pain to our minds for no purpose. The proof of this is that there are some men who accept even the worst things and do not consider themselves sad, while others, who become sad because of some small disappointment, imagine that they are the unhappiest of men. Keep these things in mind and do not be sad because of what has happened to you. For the successes of men do not last forever and the higher a man climbs as a result of them the more easily does he fall. This is especially true during times of faction. In times like these, people are like sailors in a storm - they are tossed up and down, here and there and if they make the smallest mistake they are bound to sink.
Remember what happened to the Gracchi and also remember that Camillus became even more famous after he was exiled and that Aristides later did a great service to his country.
First of all, Cicero, you should hope to be restored to your country. You have not been driven away because you have been unjust. I believe that the same ones who pushed you out will soon begin to miss you. But even if you never return, do not be sad.
If you will take my advice, you will be satisfied to find a farm somewhere in the country. There you will be able to write books like Xenophon or Thucydides did. Love of learning lasts forever and can be enjoyed by every man. For you will see that exile brings with it a kind of leisure that is very useful.
If then you wish to become really immortal like those historians, imitate them; you have all the necessary skills and there is no honor you have not won. You have already been Consul. You will get no more fame by being Consul a second or third or fourth time. You would not rather be Marius who was elected seven times than Cicero, nor are you eager to command armies or province seeing that you gave up the chance to do this when you were Consul.
You have given your life to the Republic, and you have learned enough from politics to see the difference between the two kinds of lives and to choose what is best and to avoid what is worst. Our life is short. You ought to live part of your life for yourself and not all of it for others. Consider how much better quiet is than struggle, peace than war, freedom than slavery, safety than misfortune, and then you will begin to desire to live the way I am asking you to. In this way you will be happy and your name will be great because of it. And your reputation will last forever.
But if you are eager to be restored to Rome, and you still wish for a great career in politics, I have something that I must say to you.
I hope you will not be angry, but when I look at the situation and I remember how bold you are in speaking; when I see the power and numbers of your enemies, I fear that you will be defeated again. If you are defeated again, it will not mean exile but death. Don’t you think it would be a terrible thing to have one’s head cut off and set up in the Forum for any man or woman to spit on?
Do not hate me because I am predicting bad things in the future, but listen to me as one who warns you about what will happen. Do not let the fact that you have friends among the powerful fool you again. You will get no help against those who hate you from the men who seem to love you, as you should already have learned from experience. For those who are ambitious for power, value nothing else in the world, and they will betray even their friends and family to win a victory