On the Shortness of Life V

While tossed hither and thither by Catiline and Clodius, Pompeius and Crassus, by some open enemies and some doubtful friends, while he struggled with the struggling republic and kept it from going to ruin, when at last he was banished, being neither able to keep silence in prosperity nor to endure adversity with patience, how often must Marcus Cicero have cursed that consulship of his which he never ceased to praise, and which nevertheless deserved it?

What piteous expressions he uses in a letter to Atticus when Pompeius the father had been defeated, and his son was recruiting his shattered forces in Spain? “Do you ask,” writes he, “what I am doing here? I am living in my Tusculan villa almost as a prisoner.”

He adds more afterwards, wherein he laments his former life, complains of the present, and despairs of the future.

Cicero called himself “half a prisoner,” but, by Hercules, the wise man never would have come under so lowly a title: he never would be half a prisoner, but would always enjoy complete and entire liberty, being free, in his own power, and greater than all others: for what can be greater than the man who is greater than Fortune?