Life of Cicero, 6

Plutarch  translated by Bernadotte Perrin

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6He was appointed quaestor[12] at a time when grain was scarce, and had the province of Sicily allotted to him, where he annoyed people at first by compelling them to send grain to Rome. But afterwards they found him careful, just, and mild, and honoured him beyond any governor they had ever had. 2Moreover, when large numbers of young men from Rome, of illustrious and noble families, were accused of lack of discipline and courage in the war and sent up for trial to the praetor of Sicily, Cicero pleaded their cause brilliantly and won the day. While he was journeying to Rome, then, highly elated over these successes, he had a laughable experience, as he tells us.[13] 3In Campania, namely, he fell in with an eminent man whom he deemed his friend, and asked him what the Romans were saying and thinking about his achievements, supposing that he had filled the whole city with the name and fame of them; but his friend said: “Where, pray, have you been, Cicero, all this while?” 4At that time, then, as he tells us, he was altogether disheartened, seeing that the story of his doings had sunk into the city as into a bottomless sea, without any visible effect upon his reputation; but afterwards he reasoned with himself and abated much of his ambition, convinced that the fame towards which he was emulously struggling was a thing that knew no bounds and had no tangible limit. 5However, his excessive delight in the praise of others and his too passionate desire for glory remained with him until the very end, and very often confounded his saner reasonings.

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  • [12] In 75 B.C.

  • [13] Or. pro Plancio, 26. This was in the succeeding year (74 B.C.).

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