You did well to put on a show of gladiators for our people of Verona, who have long shown their affection and admiration for you and have voted you many honours. Verona was also the home town of the excellent wife you loved so dearly, whose memory you owe some public building or show, and this kind of spectacle is particularly suitable for a funeral tribute. Moreover, the request came from so many people that a refusal would have been judged churlish rather than strong-minded on your part. You have also done admirably in giving the show so readily and on such a lavish scale, for this indicates a true spirit of generosity.
I am sorry the African panthers you had bought in such quantities did not turn up on the appointed day, but you deserve the credit although the weather prevented their arriving in time; it was not your fault that you could not show them.
I am reminding you about Sittius' bond, not for the first time, because I am anxious to make you realize my strong personal concern in that matter. Likewise about panthers -- please send for some from Cibyra and have them shipped to me.
Caelius Rufus to Cicero, 1 August 51 BC
In almost every letter I have written to you I have mentioned the subject of panthers. It will be little to your credit that Patiscus has sent ten panthers for Curio and you not many times as many. Curio has given me those animals and another ten from Africa -- in case you imagine that country estates are the only form of presents he knows! If you will but keep it in mind and send for beasts from Cibyra and write to Pamphylia likewise (they say the hunting is better there), the trick will be done. I am all the more exercised about this now because I think I shall have to make all my arrangements apart from my colleague. Do be a good fellow and give yourself an order about it. You generally like to be conscientious, as I for the most part like to be careless. Conscientiousness in this business is only a matter of saying a word so far as you are concerned, that is of giving an order and commission. As soon as the creatures are caught, you have the men I sent in connection with Sittius' bond to look after their feeding and transport to Rome. Indeed, if you hold out any hope when you write, I think I shall send some more men over.
Caelius Rufus to Cicero, 2 September 51 BC
Curio is behaving handsomely to me, and has made me a somewhat onerous present in the shape of the African panthers which were imported for his show. Had he not done that, one might have let the thing go. As it is, I have to give it. So, as I have asked you all along, please see that I have a few beasts from your part of the world. And I commend Sittius' bond to your kind attention.
Caelius Rufus to Cicero, early October 51 BC
It will be little to your credit if I don't have any Greek panthers.
Caelius Rufus to Cicero, February 50 BC
About the panthers, the usual hunters are doing their best on my instructions. But the creatures are in remarkably short supply, and those we have are said to be complaining bitterly because they are the only beings in my province who have to fear designs against their safety. Accordingly they are reported to have decided to leave this province and go to Caria. But the matter is receiving close attention, especially from Patiscus. Whatever comes to hand will be yours, but what that amounts to I simply do not know.
Cicero to Caelius Rufus, 4 April 50 BC.
Cicero's Letters to His Friends, volume 1, pages 170, 172, 180-1, 189, 190-1 (Penguin). Translation by D.R. Shackleton Bailey.