Scholars dispute the authenticity of this letter to a friend. Some say it was dictated by the great Cicero himself to his secretary Tiro; others say it was scribed by Ryanus, also known as “rex paulo” (“little king”), an ambitious but not so well-known senator.
The state of things in regard to my candidacy for the consulship, in which I know that you are supremely interested, is this, as far as can be as yet conjectured.
At every opportunity I’m denying that I’m a candidate but my denials do not seem to stick. You know last year I insisted that I won’t be a candidate for the praetorship but there I was a few weeks later sitting in the praetor’s chair. My intention is not to begin my own canvass but I’m dropping subtle hints in my campaign-style speeches, urging everyone “to have a contest of whose ideas are better and why our ideas are better.”
I hope my prospects are to a certain degree improving by the reports getting about that my friends are found to be numerous and mega-rich. When I have ascertained the feelings of the nobility about my candidacy I will write you a word.
The canvassing of the present candidates is not unfavorable to my interests; for none of them would get the required majority. I’ll let them fight – and fall – like gladiators in Circus Maximus. See how quickly they fall. From twelve to three in six weeks, not even counting the timorous five who tumbled down the starting gate.
That Kasichus fights like an andabata gladiator wearing a helmet without any hole for the eyes making his experience and expertise utterly useless. He is there to amuse the crowds (and my super PAC supporters). Cruzpus has suddenly found a trident and a net. This retiarius thinks that he can now net all the delegates. Not knowing that the Trumpus, the Thracian, has a curved sword. A sword curved like a dragon’s spine to entangle the trident and sharper than a serpent’s tooth to cut through the net.
Curlier and sharper than his sword are his taunts. His “low energy” spell turned out to be more thunderous than Jupiter, the mighty king of gods. The spell that fills me with dread is the one that imploded the career of a “little” senator. His magic of the mind is murderous. Even the thought of what spell he has in reserve for me makes me tremble. But I find solace in the hope that Cruzpus and Trumpus would wound each other fatally in the arena.
Augures say the gods are happy with my plans. I have been to the temple of Vesta with my offerings of ears of spelt. About my visit to the temple of Apollo at Delphi. Pythia, the high priestess, sitting on a tripod in a small cavernous chamber holding a sprig of laurel in one hand and in the other a cup containing water from a spring beneath the temple, appeared to be in trance and burbled on for a while in reply to my request for a deadly spell. The attending priest translated her answer as “make your own nature, not the advice of others, your guide in life.” What help is this Delphic prophecy in these turbulent times?
Not much of help especially when I think of Romnius, the old dog who now fancies himself as the new Romulus, waiting in the wings when we republicans enter the voting pen on the Campus Martius.
I imagine you smiling or sighing when I tell you that I’m proposing a motion that there should be a minimum of 1,237 roped off sections instead of usual thirty-five, and if candidates fail to walk through all these sections, the assembly should call for new nominations. That would keep Cruzpus and Trumpus lost in the maze if they survive the deadly gladiator fight about to begin. Good news is that some senators are vying with each other to nominate me.
(Historical note: Cicero did indeed write a letter, in 65 B.C., to his friend Atticus in Athens in which he described his planning for the next year’s election to the consulship for the year 63 B.C., which he won.)
© Surendra Verma 2016