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Cicero's letters to and from various public and private figures are considered some of the most reliable sources of information for the people and events surrounding the fall of the Roman Republic. This is volume three out of four with Cicero's letters from the years B.C. 48 through B.C. 44.
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The Letters 3, Cicero
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
Translated by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh (1843 – 1906)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. Details on this licence and the usage of this text can be found at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/.
B.C. 48. Coss., C. Iulius Caesar II., P. Servilius Vatia Isauricus.17
B.C. 47. Dict. r. p. c., C. Iulius Caesar, Mag. Eq., M. Antonius. Coss. (for three last months), Q. Fufius Calenus, P. Vatinius.34
B.C. 46. Coss., C. Iulius Caesar III., M. Aemilius Lepidus. Dictator C. Iulius Caesar III. Magister Equitum, Am. Aemilius Lepidus.62
B.C. 45. Dictator, r.p.c., C. Iulius Caesar III. Magister Equitum, M. Aemilius Lepidus. Coss., C. Iulius Caesar IV., sine collega. Q. Fabius Maximus, mort., C. Caninius Rebilus, C. Trebonius.144
B.C. 44, aet. 62. Dictat. r. p. ger. C. Iulius Caesar IV. Mag. Eq. M. Aemilius Lepidus II. Coss., C. Octavius, Cn. Domitius (non inierunt.) C. Iulius Caesar V. occis. M. Antonius. P. Cornelius Dolabella.273
Appendix A.. 278
THE correspondence in this volume (January, B.C. 48-February, B.C. 44) opens with a letter to Atticus from Pompey's headquarters in Epirus. There are only nine letters during the fifteen or sixteen months which intervene between Cicero's departure from Italy and his return after the battle of to Pharsalia. One of these is from Caelius (p. 4), foreshadowing the disaster which soon afterwards befell that facile intelligence but ill-balanced character; and one from Dolabella (p. 6), inspired with a genuine wish—in which Caesar shared—that Cicero should withdraw in time from the chances and dangers of the war. Cicero's own letters deal mostly with the anxiety which he was feeling as to his property at home, which was at the mercy of the Caesarians, and, in case of Pompey's defeat, would doubtless be seized by the victorious party, except such of it as was capable of being conceded or held in trust by his friends. He was no doubt prevented from writing freely on the state of affairs in the camp, and on war news generally, by a sort of military censorship to which letters were exposed (p. 4); but he is by the beginning of B.C. 48 evidently in the lowest spirits, and not in the least hopeful of Pompey's success. This may partly be accounted for by ill-health (p. 10), but from the very first he seems to have been convinced that things were going wrong. He says that he avoided taking active duties of any sort,1 because of his dissatisfaction with what was being done. But part of this dissatisfaction seems really to have arisen from fact that Pompey did not offer him any employment of importance.2 This made him still more inclined to listen to Cato, who met him with the remark that he would have been much more useful to his country in Italy, and that his joining Pompey's army was quite unnecessary. Cicero must have felt this a mortifying result of what seemed to himself an heroic resolve, arrived at after months of painful indecision. He avenged himself by indulging in bitter epigrams and sarcastic comments, which no doubt amused his hearers, but did not tend to make him agreeable to Pompey, who, however, was forced to borrow a considerable sum of money of him—the savings of his provincial government, which he had deposited with some companies of publicani in Asia.3 Such an obligation does not make it easier to endure caustic wit in a creditor, and there is no doubt that Cicero was a disturbing element in the camp, and made himself thoroughly disagreeable. His defence of himself on this point in the second Philippic (§§ 37-39) is not very convincing. But we are more in sympathy with other reasons for discontent, which he dwelt upon a few years later in letters to his friends. It was not only the hopelessness of the military position and the inferiority of Pompey's miscellaneous army which disgusted him; it was the evident reasons actuating the aristocratic followers of Pompey. Not only did they desire a bloody revenge on the opposite party, and the attainment of offices and honours from which their opponents were to be ousted; but they were for the most part deeply involved in debt, and were looking forward to confiscations on a vast scale to recruit their bankrupt fortunes.4 It was the old story of the "Lucerian talk" which had revolted Cicero in Italy at the beginning of the war. It became more and more plain to him that there would be little to choose between the victory of either side, as far as the amount of suffering and injustice inflicted on Roman society was concerned. His just criticism on Pompey's mistake after winning the battle of Dyrrachium, in allowing himself to be drawn away from his base of supplies, and with his raw soldiers giving battle to Caesar's veterans, may very well be a criticism conceived after the event, or gathered from the remarks of others. But it is at least plain that he recognized the decisive nature of the defeat at Pharsalia, and quickly resolved not to continue the war. When the news of that disaster reached the fleet at Dyrrachium, Cato and young Gnaeus Pompeius desired Cicero, as the only consular present, to take command of it. Plutarch says that on his refusal Pompey and some of his friends drew their swords and threatened his life, but that he was rescued by Cato and allowed to go to Brundisium. Plutarch's narrative, however, is suspiciously inaccurate, as it implies that Cicero went at once to Brundisium, whereas it is plain from his letters that he sailed by Corcyra to Patrae.5
From Patrae he came to Brundisium at the end of October or the beginning of November, by special permission of Caesar obtained through Dolabella.6 He was still accompanied by lictors, as an imperator who had not abandoned his claim to a triumph; but he found it necessary in entering Brundisium to disguise or dismiss them, and we hear nothing of them again.7 It does not appear that he had been forbidden to go to Rome; but Caesar had expressed disapproval of others doing so, and Cicero did not venture to leave Brundisium and approach the city without more distinct authority from the Dictator. The letters from Brundisium are distressing. It was not a pleasant place of residence, and the presence of part of the victorious army at times made it dangerous. As the months went on also he heard of Caesar's difficulties in Alexandria; of mutinies in the Caesarian legions that had been sent back to Italy; of disorders in Rome, caused by the tribunician proceedings of Dolabella, which made the position of Antony, Caesar's Master of the Horse, very difficult; and of the increasing strength of the Pompeians in Africa.8 All these reports made him doubt the wisdom of the step he had taken in submitting to Caesar and throwing himself upon his protection. In doing so he had committed an unpardonable sin in the eyes of the Pompeian party. If they eventually succeeded, therefore, he would be in a still worse position than he was now. His heart was still with them—though he disliked young Gnaeus Pompeius—but for his own personal security he was forced to wish them ill. To complete his unhappiness, the failure of the opposition to Caesar had caused a bitter quarrel with his brother and nephew. The younger Quintus had always been Caesarian in sympathy, and had caused his uncle much disquiet by going to Rome to meet Caesar in the previous year.9 But now the elder Quintus seems to have joined his son in reproaching Cicero with having misled them into joining the losing side. They had parted from him in anger at Patrae, and were on their way to meet Caesar as he was following Pompey through Asia, and make their submission to him. Cicero is not only distressed at the loss of his brother's affection, but fearful of their denouncing him to Caesar.10 As far as the younger Quintus was concerned, there may have been cause for such fears. But though the elder Quintus was always intemperate in language, there does not seem any reason to suppose that he wished or attempted to injure his brother. If he did, Cicero took a generous revenge: for he was careful to let Caesar know that he himself was alone to blame for the course they had taken as a family in the civil war; and that Quintus had followed, not led him, in the matter.11 "Believe rather," he says, "that he always advised our union; and was the companion, not the leader, of my journey." The breach between the brothers was not long in healing; but the subsequent conduct of his nephew, who served under Caesar in Spain, gave Cicero much distress for the next two years.12 An interview between them in December, B.C. 45, described in a letter to Atticus, shews how strained the relations between them still were.13 After Caesar's death, though young Quintus for a time adhered to Antony, he surprised his uncle by suddenly announcing his conversion to the cause of Brutus and Cassius.14 And though Cicero doubted the sincerity and the motives of the change, there seems to have been no farther quarrel, till the proscription overwhelmed all three of them in the same destruction.
Caesar's return to Italy in September, B.C. 47, after successfully settling the difficulties in Alexandria, and the rising in Pontus under Pharnaces, restored peace and safety to Italy.
The mutinous legions were either satisfied by the payment of their promised bounties, or sent over to Sicily to be ready for the next year's campaign in Africa. The troubles in Rome caused by Dolabella's wild measures collapsed in the presence of the Dictator, who, however, pardoned Dolabella and continued to employ him. To Cicero Caesar's arrival brought the long-wished-for freedom to quit Brundisium and resume his life at Rome or in his villas. Caesar landed at Tarentum, and Cicero went with others from Brundisium in a complimentary procession to meet him. Whatever doubts he had felt as to the reception he was likely to meet were quickly dispelled by Caesar's cordial kindness. As soon as he saw Cicero in the procession he alighted from his carriage, greeted him warmly, and walked some distance conversing with him exclusively.15 Caesar always liked Cicero, and we can imagine that, returning to Italy after an absence of three years, so crowded with various experiences, there would be abundant subjects of conversation between men of such wide interests without touching on dangerous political topics. Caesar seems finally to have expressed a courteous desire that Cicero should return to Rome. On the 1st of October therefore he writes to Terentia, announcing his arrival at Tusculum on the 7th or the next day. The letter is from Venusia, so that he was already on his way home by the Appia. From that time till the death of Caesar he resumes his old life as far as residence and studies are concerned. But it was in other respects a changed life. Outwardly things at Rome seemed to be going on as before. The comitia still elected the magistrates; the senate still met for deliberation and the transaction of public business; the law courts were still sitting in the forum. In fact, for a time at any rate, Cicero complains that he was overwhelmed with legal business.16 But the spirit was all gone out of it. The will of a single man really controlled everything. The comitia returned his nominees; the senate merely registered his decrees, and dutifully recognized his appointments, when they were not rather made by a lex passed as a matter of course by the tribes. Even the law courts felt the hand of the master, and though they still probably settled private suits unchecked, men accused of public crimes were tried before the Dictator in his own house (cognitio), or were banished and recalled by his single fiat. The constitution, so dear to Cicero, and under which he had lived in the constant excitement of success and fame, was practically abrogated. The Dictatorship, begun while Caesar was still at Alexandria, continued till the end of B.C. 46, was renewed at the beginning of B.C. 45, and made lifelong after Munda. It gave him unlimited control over all magistrates and all citizens, and all parts of the empire. "If we seek freedom," Cicero says to M. Marcellus, "what place is free from the master's hand?"17 From the first, therefore, Cicero refrained as much as he could from speaking in the senate, and absented himself from it as often as he dared.18
Neither did he find the old charm in social life at Rome. With one or two exceptions he declares that he finds no satisfaction in the society with which he is forced to live.19 He dines constantly with the Caesarians, who sought his society, enjoyed his wit, and, as he flattered himself, had a genuine regard for him, and he confesses that he liked dining out.20 He even gave up his old simplicity of living, and allowed Hirtius and Dolabella to initiate him in the mysteries of the fashionable epicure.21 Yet when the excitement was over—and he had a natural love for society—he sadly reflected how few of those with whom he thus passed a few hours of gaiety could be reckoned as friends. "Am I to seek comfort with my friends?" he says to Lucceius in answer to his letter of condolence. "How many of them are there? You know, for they were common to us both. Some have fallen, others have somehow grown callous."22 This is a subject on which, as he gets on in life, a man is likely to take a somewhat exaggerated view, and after all perhaps Cicero still found in general society as much satisfaction as it can give, which is not very much. And though the number of his friends was of course greatly curtailed, there were still some left.
But there were other sources of unhappiness, such as the continued disloyalty of his nephew, his own resolution to divorce Terentia, and a continual uneasiness as to his own position. The Pompeians were still strong in Africa when he returned to Rome, and might conceivably be successful against Caesar. In that case he looked forward to acts of retaliation on the part of the victors, in which he would certainly have his share of suffering. Nothing could be more miserable, he thought, than the state of suspense; and he was astonished at the gaiety with which men who had so much at stake could crowd the games at Praeneste.23 Even after the news reached Rome of Caesar's victory at Thapsus, he imagines that the clemency which had hitherto characterized the Caesarians would in their hour of victory give place to a vindictive cruelty, which had been only concealed while the result was doubtful.24 The constitution he thinks had totally collapsed: things were going from bad to worse: his very house at Tusculum may before long be torn from him for the benefit of some veteran of Caesar's.25 He himself has no place in politics, is ashamed of surviving the Republic, and can find no consolation for the general débâcle in the personal kindness of Caesar to himself.26 Victory in a civil war, he reflects, forces the victors to be ruthless and cruel in spite of themselves. The conqueror does not do what he wishes, but what he must: for he has to gratify those by whose aid he has won the victory. In fact the disorganization and confusion are so great and universal, that every man thinks that the worst possible position is that in which he happens to be.27
These are the views of the political situation which Cicero communicates to his friends—mostly leading Pompeians now living in exile. Yet he is constrained to confess that it is possible for a member of his party to live at Rome unmolested: "You may not perhaps be able to say what you think: you may certainly hold your tongue.
For authority of every kind has been committed to one man. He consults nobody but himself not even his friends. There would not have been much difference if he whom we followed had been master of the Republic."28 Nor could he deny that Caesar himself acted with magnanimity and moderation, even increasingly so.29 Still, nothing could make up to him for the loss of dignitas implied by power being in the hands of one man, and the senate being no longer the real governing body. Though after the battle of Thapsus, and still more after Munda, one source of anxiety was removed—that of his own precarious position should Caesar be defeated—the other grievance, that of the constitution being in abeyance, grew more and more offensive to him. "I am ashamed of being a slave," he writes in January, B.C. 45. "What," he says in March, "have I to do with a forum, when there are no law courts, no senate-house, and when men are always obtruding on my sight whom I cannot see with any patience?"30 Again and again he asserts that there is no form of constitution existing.31 A number of lesser annoyances served gradually to complete his indignant discontent. We have no allusion to Caesar's triumph after Munda, or to the scene at the Lupercalia so graphically described in the second Philippic (§ 85), when Antony offered him the crown. But we are told of disgust at his nephew being made a member of the college of Luperci, revived and re-endowed by Caesar; of his own annoyance at being kept waiting in Caesar's antechamber;32 of his disapproval of Caesar's plans for enlarging the city; and, worst of all, of his statue being placed in the temple of Quirinus, and carried among the figures of the gods in the opening procession in the circus.33 Finally, in January, B.C. 44, he tells Manius Curius: "You could scarcely believe how disgraceful my conduct appears to me in countenancing the present state of things."34 And, indeed, Cicero had not only countenanced it by his presence, he had written more than once to Caesar in an almost more friendly and cordial strain. Once indeed he composed letter which even Caesar's agents Balbus and Oppius thought too strong. They advised him not to send it; and though Cicero was annoyed at the advice, and explained to Atticus that of course it was mere κολακεία, yet he followed suggestion.35
It is of course impossible to reconcile Cicero's public utterances, as contained in the three speeches of this period,36 with the private expressions of feeling of which a selection has been here indicated. Nor is it possible to feel full sympathy with a man thus playing a double part. But it is not difficult to understand and partly condone it. He might plead that he yielded to force majeure: that his exile or death could not benefit his country; whereas by conforming to the inevitable he might hope to benefit his friends, to secure their restoration to civil rights and property, and to raise his voice now and again on the side of equity and mercy. Nor would he have been really safer anywhere else than in Italy. The arm of the Dictator was a long one and would reach to Rhodes almost as easily as to Tusculum. Philosophers had generally taught that the wise man was justified in submitting to superior force, and in living his life under whatever form of government. Again and again he is at pains to justify at great length both his having originally engaged in the war and his having refused to continue it after Pharsalia. The eventual victory of either side was sure to be calamitous to the state, he thinks, and it was better to bear the ills they had than fly to others the extent of which they could not measure.37 It may perhaps be right to attempt to estimate briefly the justice of the grievance against Caesar which led a man like Cicero, generally generous, wise, and high-minded, to regard the stupid crime of the Ides of March with such exulting approval, as the righteous punishment of tyranny and treason to the state.
It is useless to argue on general principles as to the blunder as well as the crime involved in an assassination. We must try to get at Cicero's point of view. Caesar had destroyed the Constitution. The general line nowadays adopted in defending him for this is something of this sort: The constitution had become a sham. The assemblies of the people were not assemblies of the people, but of the City proletariat, corrupt, ignorant, and disorderly. The real power was in the hands of a clique. A few families monopolized office: enriched themselves at the expense of the provinces: controlled the senate and manipulated the comitia. It was to free the state from this oppressive oligarchy that Caesar stepped into the place of the Gracchi, of Saturninus, of Marius, and perhaps of Catiline, and determined that a sham, which had become the means of endless oppression, injustice, and rapacity, should cease. However much may be said for this view of the case—and each point in it admits and indeed requires very large modification—it was not the light in which it appeared in Cicero's eyes. No one was more conscious than he of the need of reform. He had the greatest contempt for the idle "fish-breeding" nobles, the most hearty indignation for the oppressors and plunderers of the provinces. But reform with him did not mean destruction. The constitution—the res publica—under which he, "a new man," had risen from a moderate position to the highest rank; under which the power of Rome had been extended over the orbis terrarum; the Republic consecrated by so many memories, adorned by so many noble names, such heroic actions, such signal reverses, and such brilliant successes — to annihilate that was worse than parricide. Every feature in the constitution had its charm for Cicero—the complexity of its legal code, the conflicting powers of its magistrates, the curious mixture of religion and imposture known as the science of augury, the traditional ceremonies in the working of the comitia—he had studied them all, and was prepared substantially to defend them all. To sweep them all away, or rather to reduce them all to mere unmeaning forms by the personal supremacy of a king or a dictator—whose powers were only known to the constitution under strict limit of time—was to him the worst of crimes. Now Caesar had not only beaten Cicero's party in the field—that might have been forgiven: he had not only accepted a dictatorship which had no precedent except the ill-omened one of Sulla—that perhaps might have been endured as a temporary suspension of the magisterial authority. He had struck at the very root of the constitution—the right of the people to elect magistrates, and the traditional (though not legal) right of the senate to control them. Candidates were indeed still elected, but they were those formally recommended by himself. Laws were still passed, but a crowd of his veterans—whose property depended on his word—could and did carry every measure which he wished. The senate still voted the equipment of the provincial governors, but these governors were no longer assigned by the senate or by the sortitio over which the senate presided, but were directly nominated by Caesar and confirmed by a lex, which was passed as a matter of course. The excellence of Caesar's laws—which he elsewhere acknowledges38—did not compensate for the unconstitutional manner in which they were carried.
Caesar too no doubt made certain mistakes. He has been often called a consummate judge of men. If it was so, it is only another proof of the truth of Cicero's words that a conqueror in a civil war is much at the mercy of those who helped to win his victory: for his choice of agents was not happy. Neither Cassius nor Trebonius, whom he sent to Spain, was successful there. Of those he selected as his second in command or masters of the horse—Antony no doubt was a man of energy and courage, but shewed neither wisdom nor ability as a statesman, while Lepidus lived to prove the contemptible weakness of his character. Perhaps his own commanding personality choked off men of ability. But the fact remains that a large number of men of energy who had served him turned against him, while those who remained faithful to him were men of second-rate abilities. He was probably unwise to undertake the Getic and Parthian wars. His presence was needed to maintain order in Italy. He had been engaged for fifteen years in almost incessant military labours. No man could hope to be at his best at the end of such fatigues; and we gather from expressions in Cicero's speech pro Marcello39 that he was weary in body and mind; and, like Napoleon at Waterloo, he might have found that he no longer had the vigour that had won him so many victories. An absolute ruler may have almost any vice except that of weakness. If weakness had begun to shew itself in Caesar, it would not only encourage open enemies, it would make everyone prone to regard as a hardship what they tolerated before as inevitable. The very multitude and greatness of his beneficent schemes, while they prove his wisdom and statesmanship, must have brought him into collision with a hundred vested interests and as many deep-seated prejudices. He was ruling men who had known what it was, not only to be free, but to belong to a body small enough to allow every member to feel himself an integral part of the government in a world-wide empire. His great-nephew—more adroit, though without a tithe of his great-uncle's military ability and largeness of view—was more successful, partly because he had to deal with a generation that had largely forgotten what it was to be free. Cicero at any rate was never for a moment reconciled in heart to Caesar's régime; never for a moment forgot and perhaps exaggerated the dignity of the position from which he had fallen.
His final view of Caesar is perhaps best expressed in the second Philippic (§ 116): “He had genius, a power of reasoning, memory, knowledge of literature, accuracy, depth of thought, energy. His achievements in war, however disastrous to the Republic, were at any rate great. After planning for many years his way to royal power, with great labour, with many dangers he had effected his design. By public exhibitions, by monumental buildings, by largesses, by fiats he had conciliated the unreflecting multitude. He had bound to himself his own friends by favours, his opponents by a show of clemency. In short, he at last brought upon a free state—partly by the fear which he inspired, partly by the toleration extended to him—the habit of servitude.”
In these circumstances Cicero found his consolation in literature. He had the power which distinguished Mr. Gladstone—nor is this the only point of resemblance—of throwing himself with extraordinary vehemence and apparently exclusive interest into whatever he took in hand. His first impulse was to return to his old field of distinction—eloquence;
and to discuss the science and history of the art to which he owed his splendid reputation. Accordingly, we owe to the first years of his return to Rome and his villas three rhetorical treatises, the Partitiones Oratoriae, the Orator ad M. Brutum, and the Brutus or de claris Oratoribus. The last-named is made especially interesting by numerous references to his own intellectual history. For a time he found some interest, as well as renewed health and cheerfulness, in teaching a number of young men the art of which he was master.40 But his thoughts were turning in another direction. He soon resolved to abandon as much as possible the active business of the forum, and to bury himself "in the obscurity of literature."41 From oratory therefore he passed to philosophy. He begins with a brief tract on the Paradoxes of the Stoics; but when, early in B.C. 45, the death of his beloved daughter Tullia added a new motive and a new excuse for retirement, he strove to dispel his sorrow and drown bitter recollections by flinging himself with ardour into the task of making Greek philosophy intelligible to his countrymen. The de Finibus and the Academics were the first-fruits of this toil. They were produced with extraordinary speed; and whatever may be said about their value as original treatises, they were and still remain the most popular and generally intelligible exposition of post-Platonic philosophy existing. The charm of his inimitable style will always attract readers who might be repelled by works which contain clearer reasoning or more exact statement. At any rate their composition had the effect of lightening his sorrow, and distracting his mind from dwelling so exclusively on the mortifications caused by the political situation. Finally, in the last few months preceding the murder of Caesar, he composed what is perhaps the most pleasing of all his quasi-philosophical works, the Tusculan Disputations. The first book "On the Fear of Death"— both from the universal interest of its subject and the wisdom which it contains—whether his own or of the authorities from whom he quotes—has an abiding place among the choicest books of the world. Thus posterity has had as much reason to be glad as he had himself that he "effected a reconciliation with his old friends—his books."42
The retirement to Astura, after the bitter sorrow caused by the death of Tullia, was thus not unfruitful. "The passionate unrest," of which he speaks,43 drove him to literature, but though it pervades the letters it does not monopolize them. They are still full of signs of his interest in affairs, both private and public. He had also conceived the idea of purchasing a site near Rome, some horti in which there might be built a memorial chapel or shrine to commemorate the daughter he had lost. This design does not seem to have been carried out; but its mere conception, with the endless discussions which it involved, seems to have been a consolation to him. Before the letters in this volume come to an end, though he tells Dolabella that "the old cheerfulness and gaiety, in which he took more delight than anybody else, had all been taken from," yet by the latter part of May he is back again at Tusculum, not appreciably less cheerful, and certainly not less interested in public affairs than before. He is especially eager as to the opinion Varro will express of his Academics, to whom the book is eventually dedicated in a very careful and courteous letter (pp.304-305).
Another subject of anxiety to Cicero during this period of which we hear a good deal in the latter part of this volume is the settlement of his son. The young man—now just twenty years old—was anxious to join Caesar's army in Spain. He seems to have been more fitted for the life of a soldier than for anything else: but his father shrank from seeing a son of his fighting against Pompeians even now, and was anxious that he should go to Athens to study rhetoric and philosophy. The young man yielded. But the natural result followed. The academical studies at Athens had no attraction for him, and he sought amusement in idleness and dissipation. His allowance, which seems to have been an ample one, drawn from the rents of certain houses in Rome which had formed part of his mother's fortune, was apparently exceeded in his first year, and the reports of his tutors and instructors gave his father great anxiety. However, in his second year matters began to improve. His expenses went down, better—though not yet quite confident—reports came home, and Cicero began to hope both from the style of his letters and the reports of more than one of his correspondents that he was reforming and seriously attending to his work.44 Still—though he says that he was glad to allow himself to be deceived on such a subject—the doubtful tone of his son's tutors gave him some uneasiness. In the summer of B.C. 44 he meditated going to Athens to see him. His discontent with the policy of Antony made him wish to leave Italy, but he also fancied that his presence at Athens might confirm his son's good resolutions. The treatise on duty—de Officiis—was now composed for his benefit. Cicero also took great pains, as he became more convinced that the young man was really improving, that he should be liberally supplied with money; and the last letter from young Cicero himself, addressed to Tiro in August, B.C. 44, gives a perhaps too rosy account of his own diligence and determination to please his father. But the opportunity came soon afterwards for a career better suited to his disposition and ability. Brutus arrived in Athens in the autumn of B.C. 44, and offered young Cicero, as he did the young Horace, a position in the army which he was collecting to take possession of Macedonia. The offer was gladly accepted, and—to his father's great delight—he served with some distinction in that province against Gaius Antonius. After the battle of Philippi in B.C. 42, he seems to have attached himself to Augustus. He was sent home in B.C., 30 to announce the death of Antony, and was rewarded by the consulship for the latter part of that year. His after career is not known. Probably it was undistinguished and short, as he is said to have become addicted to drink.
Of the divorce from Terentia we have in the letters only one very brief direct mention.45 But as to the repayment of her dowry, and the disposition of her property in the interests of her son, there is a great deal said in the letters to Atticus. The death of Tullia about the end of February, B.C. 45, not only threw Cicero into a paroxysm of grief, which finds expression in a whole series of his letters to Atticus, but brought him letters of condolence from a great many men of distinction—from Caesar, M. Brutus, Dolabella, Lucceius, and others. Only a few of them survive, among them that of Servius Sulpicius,46 which has been much admired, and often quoted, notably by Addison in The Spectator. The same friend writes a graphic account of the murder of M. Marcellus in his tent at the Piraeus in May, B.C. 45.47
Of Cicero's other correspondents in this volume, Atticus once more takes the first place, and is again the patient recipient of all Cicero's doubts and difficulties while residing at Brundisium in B.C. 48-47; and in B.C. 45, when he was trying to drown his grief for Tullia's death by a feverish devotion to composition at Astura; and again when he was hovering about from villa to villa in the spring and summer of B.C. 44, in painful indecision as to whether to go to Greece or stay at home. All his business affairs were transacted by Atticus—the purchase of property, the allowance to his son, the repayment of Terentia's dowry, and the demand for that of Tullia from Dolabella, the payment or the receipt of debts—nothing is too great or too small to be committed to those faithful hands and all-enduring patience. To him were fittingly dedicated the essays on Old Age and Friendship, composed in the early part of this year.
Of the other correspondents, most of the more important letters in the first part of the volume are addressed to members of the beaten party residing in various places of exile—expatiating on the chances of their recall, on the miseries of Rome which they escape, and justifying his own policy of submission to the conqueror. There is a certain sameness about these letters, but they bring out clearly Cicero's real view of the situation, and serve to illustrate very fully the state of things under the dictatorial government: and while they shew how unreconcilable was the old party of Optimates, they certainly tend to increase our respect for the moderation and magnanimity of Caesar.
There are some rather interesting letters to the famous M. TERENTIUS VARRO.48 They do not, indeed, possess the charm of the more open and impulsive letters addressed to some others. Cicero, I think, was afraid of Varro's great learning and critical disposition. He envied, while he could not copy, the calmness with which he went on with his old pursuits in the midst of political troubles: "I consider the time you spent at Tusculum," he says to him, "a specimen of true life: and I would with pleasure resign all the wealth in the world on condition of being allowed, without the interruption of violence, to live a life like yours."49 But the two men were not really sympathetic. Varro's learning was encyclopaedic, and his industry must have been immense: but he neither possessed nor cared to possess any graces of style; and probably regarded Cicero's popular tracts on philosophy with little respect. Cicero was anxious to be introduced into one of his dialogues, or to be named in the dedication of one of his treatises, but that compliment which he had been promised had never been paid to him, and it was with considerable trepidation that he dedicated to Varro his own Academics. Varro himself, who had been in Pompey's army in Epirus, had easily obtained his pardon from Caesar, and had been employed in collecting a great public library. He appears to have entirely abstained from politics after that. His being placed on the list of the proscribed in B.C. 43-42 was probably owing to Antony, who, having plundered his villa at Casinum, had been forced to make restitution,50 and probably had quarrelled with him. He however escaped, and survived all the leading men of the Civil War, dying in B.C. 28.
Another recipient of long and friendly letters was SERVIUS SULPICIUS RUFUS, a jurisconsult of eminence, who had taken the Pompeian side, though without much enthusiasm, for his son, apparently with his consent, was serving under Caesar: and after Pharsalia he himself accepted the government of Greece and Epirus as Caesar's legatus. He died whilst on the embassy from the senate to Antony at Mutina in B.C. 43. Cicero addresses him as though confident of his disapproving of much in Caesar's government,51 but he had previously referred in rather severe terms to his lukewarmness and inconsistency. Sulpicius in fact appears to have been a man of high character, but of no strong political opinions, content with performing his administrative functions without troubling himself too much on the constitutional authority of those under whom he acted.
More ominous is the evidently closer relations with M. BRUTUS and C. CASSIUS. We have seen that the intercourse with Brutus in previous years had not been entirely a pleasure to Cicero. Brutus adopted rather too high and patronizing a tone, which Cicero resented, though he wished to stand well with him. But in the letters of introduction addressed to him in this volume there is an air of greater intimacy. And though Cicero did not much like the letter of consolation from him on the death of Tullia, he is always shewing interest in his movements; continually questions Atticus about him; and is particularly eager to hear all about his marriage with Porcia, daughter of Cato Uticensis and widow of the Pompeian Bibulus—a match which seems to have fluttered society at Rome a good deal, as a sign that Brutus was gravitating back to his old party. The two letters also addressed to Cassius when on a tour undertaken—perhaps on a hint from headquarters—so as to be absent from Rome while Caesar, whom he had declined to accompany, was in Spain, indicate a growing understanding between them. An estimate of Brutus, Cassius, and other persons who took a prominent part in politics after Caesar's death must be reserved for the next volume. Here I must be content with noticing the growing rapprochement between them.
Another group of letters which are attractive in a different way are those addressed to L. PAPIRIUS PAETUS. They are not the less interesting that we know nothing about Paetus beyond what we read in the letters. As in the case of M. Marius in Volume I. (to whom there is also an interesting letter in this volume, p. 78), we are content to regard him simply as a friend of Cicero's, to whom he seems to write with frankness and affection. He lived at Naples and was rich and hospitable, and though his sympathies were Caesarian, politics play a minor part in the correspondence. Light banter, social anecdote, historical, literary and philosophical discussions of a superficial kind fill up a large proportion of the letters. One letter, on decency in language and the Stoic rule of calling a spade a spade (pp. 293 ff.), throws a curious light upon the squeamishness of a society which was far from being over-nice in conduct.
1 P. 10. Cp. pp.114, 115.
2 τὸ μηδὲν μέγα αὐτῷ χρῆσθαι Πομπήιον (Plut. Cic. 38).
3 See pp.2, 9.
4 See pp.17, 79, 87, 114, 115, etc.
5 P.14. Plut. Cic. 39.
6 P. 19. Cp. <=>2 Phil. § 5.
7 Pp. 16, 18. Cp. pro Lig. § 7.
8 See p. 27.
9 See vol. ii., pp.363, 366.
11 See his letter to Caesar, p.30.
12 See pp.88, 144, 280, 321.
14 Vol. iv., pp.97, 100.
15 Plut. Cic. 39.
18 Pp.137, 171, 172.
20 See p.103 "I like a dinner party. I talk freely there on whatever comes upon the tapis, and convert sighs into loud bursts of laughter."
21 Pp.76, 93, 95.
23 Pp.65, 70, 72-74.
24 Pp.74, 75.
25 See pp.81, 100, 101.
26 Pp.104, 106, 109, 110.
27 See pp. 118, 134, 316.
28 P. 117
29 Pp.101, 123, 129, 137, 256.
30 Pp.173, 214.
31 Pp.232, 234, etc.
32 Pp.88, 141.
33 Pp.300, 307, 310
35 Pp.197, 228, 260, 332, 334.
36 Pro Ligario, pro Marcello, pro Deiotaro.
37 See especially pp.70, 78-80, 87, 92, 95, 115, 121.
38 See 2 Phil. § 109.
39 See pro Marcello, §§ 25, 32; vol. iv., p.56.
40 See pp. 93, 95. He jestingly compares himself to the tyrant Dionysius keeping a school at Corinth. He also observes that the exercise of declamation was at one time at any rate necessary for his health (p.95).
41 See p.97.
42 See p.31.
44 Vol. iii., pp.144-145, 218; vol. iv., pp.12, 32, 58.
45 See p.183.
46 See Letter DLIV, p.209.
47 Letter DCXII, p.272.
48 See pp.65, 73-78, 82, 86, 304.
49 P. 88
50 2 Phil. §§ 103, 104.
51 See especially p.138.
There is a sudden pause in the correspondence after the letter of the 19th of May, B.C. 49, in which we find Cicero abandoning the passing idea of retirement to Malta—still waiting to be assured of Caesar's failure in Spain before taking the plunge and joining Pompey in Greece. The silence is only broken by the one letter to Terentia written on the 7th of June, the day on which he finally set sail. Something then had happened between 19th May and 7th June to finally determine him on taking this step: and it is not unreasonable to suppose that it was the news of Caesar's dangerous position behind the flooded river Segre, which prevented the arrival of his supplies; while his opponents in Spain, Afranius and Petreius, having command of the bridge at Ilerda, could supply themselves with necessaries. Caesar's difficulty did not last many days, but exaggerated reports of it reached Rome, and "Afranius's town house was thronged with visitors offering their congratulations; and many persons started from Italy to join Pompey, some that they might be the first to carry the good news, others to avoid the appearance of having wished to see how things would go and of coming last" (Caes. B.C. 1.53). Then follows another silence of six months. When we next take up the correspondence, in January, B.C. 48, we have a few short letters up to the middle of July from Pompey's quarters. Those from Cicero are almost wholly On private matters, with only very dark hints at the uneasiness and discontent which he felt at the state of things in Pompey's camp. Caelius had begun to regret his adhesion to Caesar, but Dolabella was still urging Cicero to retire from active participation in the war. Cicero appears to have given much umbrage to the Pompeians by his caustic criticisms on the management of the campaign and the conduct of his party generally (Plut. Cic. 38; Phil. 2.57). After the 15th of July there is another pause in the letters of nearly four months, and when it again opens the issue of the war had been settled at Pharsalia, and Cicero is in Brundisium on sufferance, having been invited or permitted by Caesar to return from Patrae—to which he had gone from the fleet at Corcyra—to Italy, not venturing yet to return to Rome. There he has to remain till late in September, B.C. 47, when Caesar's return from the Alexandrine and Asiatic wars at last relieved him from this quasi-exile. He met Caesar near Tarentum, who greeted him with warmth, and invited him to return to Rome and resume his position there (Plut. Cic. 39). It must have been a dreary time, and his letters, as usual, reflect his feelings, but with somewhat less exaggeration than do those of the exile. He was really in greater danger, and owed something to the forbearance of Antony as well as to that of Caesar (Phil. 2.5). He had besides the sorrow of finding that his brother Quintus and his nephew had not only hastened to give in their adhesion to Caesar, but had passionately denounced him to the conqueror.
TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
I have received from you the sealed document conveyed by Anteros. I could gather nothing from it about my domestic affairs. What gives me the most painful anxiety about them is the fact that the man who has acted as my steward is not at Rome, nor do I know where in the wide world he is. My one hope of preserving my credit and property is in your most thoroughly proved kindness; and if ill this unhappy and desperate crisis you still maintain that, I shall have greater courage to endure these dangers which are shared with me by the rest of the party. I adjure and intreat you to do so. I have in Asia in cistophori 1 money amounting to 2,200,000 sesterces (about £17,600). By negotiating a bill of exchange for that sum you will have no difficulty in maintaining my credit. If indeed I had not thought that I was leaving that quite clear—in reliance on the man on whom you have long since known that I ought to have no reliance 2 —I should have stayed in Italy for some little time longer, and should not have left my finances embarrassed: and I have been the longer in writing to you because it was a long time before I understood what the danger to be feared was. I beg you again and again to undertake the protection of my interests in all respects, so that, supposing the men with whom I now am to survive, I may along with them remain solvent, and credit your kindness with my safety.
TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
EPIRUS, 5 FEBRUARY
I received your letter on the 4th of February, and on the same day formally accepted the inheritance in accordance with the will. Of my many and most distressing anxieties one is removed, if; as you say, this inheritance is sufficient to maintain my credit and reputation; though even without any inheritance I am aware that you would have defended them by all means at your disposal. As to what you say about the dowry, 3 I adjure you, in the name of all the gods, to undertake that whole business and protect the poor girl, whom my default and carelessness have reduced to distress, by the aid of funds belonging to me, if there are such, of your own if you can do so without inconvenience. You say that she is without any means: pray do not allow that state f things to continue. Why, what are the payments that have swallowed up the rents of my estates? For instance, one ever told me that the sixty sestertia, which you mention, had been deducted from the dowry; for I should never have allowed it. But this is the smallest of the frauds from which I have suffered: of which sorrow and tears prevent my writing to you. Of the money deposited in Asia I have called in nearly half. It seemed likely to be safer where it now is than in the hands of the publicani. You exhort me to be of good courage: I could have wisheded that you were able to allege some reason for my being so. But if to my other misfortunes there has been added the confiscation of my town house, which Chrysippus told me was in contemplation (you gave me no hint of it), who is he now in all the world in a worse plight than myself? I beg and beseech you,—pardon me, I can write no more. You must see what a crushing weight of sorrow mine is. If it were only such as is common to me with the rest of those who are regarded as being in the same position as myself, my error had seemed less grave and therefore more easy to bear. As it is, there is no consolation, unless you secure (if it is not now too late to secure it) that I have no special loss or wrong inflicted upon me. I have been somewhat slow in sending back your letter-carrier, because there was no opportunity of getting him across. Pray send letters in my name to any to whom you think it right to do so. You know my intimates. If they remark on the absence of my signet or handwriting, pray tell them that I have avoided using either owing to the military pickets.
M. CAELIUS RUFUS TO CICERO (IN EPIRUS)
ROME (FEBRUARY OR MARCH)
To think that I was in Spain rather than at Formiae when you started to join Pompey I Oh that Appius Claudius had been on our side, or Gaius Curio on yours ! 4 It was my friendship for the latter that gradually edged me on to this infernal party—for I feel that my good sense was destroyed between anger and affection. You too-when, being on the point of starting for Ariminum, 5 I came at night to visit you—in the midst of your giving me messages for Caesar about peace, and playing your rôle of fine citizen, you quite forgot your duty as a friend and took no thought of my interests. And I am not saying this because I have lost confidence in this cause, but, believe me, I'd rather die than see these fellows here. 6 Why, if people were not afraid of your men being bloodthirsty, we should long ago have been driven out of Rome. For here, with the exception of a few moneylenders, there is not a man or a class that is not Pompeian. Personally, I have brought it about that the masses above all, and—what was formerly ours—the main body of citizens should be now on your side. 7 "Why did I do so?" quoth you. Nay, wait for what is to come: I'll make you conquer in spite of yourselves. You shall see me play the part of a second Cato. 8 You are asleep, and do not appear to me as yet to understand where we are open to attack, and what our weak point is. And I shall act thus from no hope of reward, but, what is ever the strongest motive with me, from indignation and a feeling of having been wronged. What are you doing over there? Are you Waiting for a battle? That's Caesar's strongest point. I don't know about your forces; ours have become thoroughly accustomed to fighting battles and making light of cold and hunger. 9
DOLABELLA TO CICERO (IN EPIRUS)
CAESAR'S CAMP IN EPIRUS (MAY OR JUNE)
If you are well, I am glad. I am quite well, and so is our dear Tullia. Terentia has been rather unwell, but I am assured that she has now recovered. In all other respects things are quite as they should be at your house. Though at no time did I deserve to be suspected by you of acting from party motives rather than from a regard to your interests, when I urged you either to join Caesar and myself, or at least to retire from open war, especially since victory has already inclined in our favour, it is now not even possible that I should create any other impression than that of urging upon you what I could not, with due regard to my duty as your son-in-law, suppress. On your part, my dear Cicero, pray regard what follows-whether you accept or reject the advice—as both conceived and written with the best possible intention and the most complete devotion to yourself.
You observe that Pompey is not secured either by the glory of his name and achievements, or by the list of client kings and peoples, which he was frequently wont to parade: and that even what has been possible for the rank and file, is impossible for him,—to effect an honourable retreat: driven as he has been from Italy, the Spanish provinces lost, a veteran army captured, and now finally inclosed by his enemy's lines. 10 Such disasters I rather think have never happened to a Roman general. Wherefore employ all your Wisdom in considering what either he or you have to hope. For thus you will most easily adopt the policy which will be to your highest advantage. Yet I do beg this of you,—that if Pompey succeeds in avoiding this danger and taking refuge with his fleet, you should consult for your own interests, and at length be your own friend rather than that of anyone else in the world. You have by this time satisfied the claims of duty or friendship, whichever you choose to call it: you have fulfilled all obligations to your party also, and to that constitution to which you are devoted. It remains to range ourselves with the constitution as now existing, rather than, while striving for the old one, to find ourselves with none at all. Wherefore my desire is, dearest Cicero, that, supposing Pompey to be driven from this district also and compelled to seek other quarters, you should betake yourself to Athens or any peaceful city you choose. If you decide to do so, pray write and tell me, that I may, if I possibly can, hurry to your side. Whatever marks of consideration for your rank have to be obtained from the commander-in-chief, such is Caesar's kindness, that it will be the easiest thing in the world for you to obtain them from him yourself: nevertheless, I think that a petition from me also will not be without considerable weight with him. I trust to your honour and kindness also to see that the letter-carrier whom I send to you may be enabled to return to me, and bring me a letter from you.
TO TERENTIA (AT ROME)
POMPEY'S CAMP IN EPIRUS, 2 JUNE
If you are well, I am glad. I am well. Pray be very careful about your illness: for I have been informed by both letter and messenger that you have suddenly contracted fever. I am much obliged for your prompt information as to Caesar's despatch. Continue, pray, in future to inform me of any news I ought to know, whatever occurs. Take care of your health. Good-bye.
TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
CAMP OF POMPEY IN EPIRUS, 13 JUNE
What is going on here you will be able to ascertain from the bearer of your letter. I have detained him longer than I otherwise should, because I am in daily expectation of something happening, and even now I have, after all, no other motive for despatching him except the subject on which you asked for an answer from me, namely, my wish as to the 1st of July. Both courses are dangerous-either the risk of so large a sum of money at so critical a time, or the divorce, of which you speak, while the result of the campaign is still uncertain. 11 Wherefore, I leave this, as I do other things, as absolutely as possible to your care and kindness, and to her consideration and wishes, for whose interests-poor girl I-I should have consulted better, if I had formerly deliberated with you personally on our safety and property rather than by letter.
You say that in the common misfortune there is no danger threatening me more than anyone else. Well, there is some consolation certainly in that; yet there are also after all many circumstances peculiar to myself, which you must certainly see to be very dangerous and such as I might very easily have avoided. However, they will be less grave, if, as is the case at present, they are mitigated by your management and activity. The money is lodged with Egnatius. There, as far as I am concerned, let it remain. The present state of things cannot, I think, last long: so that I shall presently be able to know what it is most necessary to do. I am, however, hard put to it for every kind of thing, because he with whom I am 12 is in straits too, and I have lent him a large sum of money, under the idea that, when things are settled, that measure will be to my honour also. 13
Yes, please, as before, if there are any persons whom you think ought to have a letter from me, compose one yourself. 14 Remember me to your family. Take care of your health. First and foremost, as you say in your letter, by every means in your power be careful to see that nothing is wanting to her, 15 on whose account you know that I am most unhappy.
From the camp. 13 June.
TO TERENTIA (AT ROME)
POMPEY'S CAMP IN EPIRUS (JUNE)
If you are well, I am glad. I am well. Do your best to recover. As far as time and circumstance permit, provide for and conduct all necessary business, and as often as possible write to me on all points. Good-bye.
TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
I have received your letter by Isidorus, and two written subsequently. From the last in date I learn that the property did not sell. Pray, therefore, see that she 16 is supplied by you. As to the estate at Frusino, 17 always provided that I am destined to enjoy it, it will be a great convenience to me. You Complain of not getting a letter from me. My difficulty is lack of matter: I have nothing worth putting into a letter, for I am not at all satisfied with anything that is happening or anything that is being done. Oh that I had originally talked the matter over with you, instead of writing ! 18 Your property here, as far as I can, I protect with these people. The rest Celer 19 will see to. Up to this time I have avoided every kind of function, the more so that it is impossible for anything to be done in a way suitable to my character and fortunes. You ask what fresh news there is. 20 You will be able to learn from Isidorus. What remains to be done does not appear more difficult. Yes, pray, as you say in your letter, continue to give your attention to what you know to be my greatest wish. I am overpowered with anxiety, the result of which is extreme physical weakness also. When that is removed I shall join the man who is conducting the business, and is in a most hopeful state of mind. 21 Brutus is friendly: he is extremely enthusiastic in the cause. This is as far as I can go on paper with prudence. Good-bye.
About the second instalment, 22 pray consider with every possible care what ought to be done, as I mentioned in the letter conveyed to you by Pollex.
EPIRUS, 15 JULY
It is not very often that there is anyone to whom I can entrust a letter, nor have I anything that I am willing to write. From your letter last received I understand that no estate has been able to find a purchaser. Wherefore pray consider how the person may be satisfied whose claims you know that I wish satisfied. As for the gratitude which our daughter expresses to you, I am not surprised that your services to her are such, that she is able to thank you on good grounds. If Pollex has not yet started, turn him out as soon as you can. Take care of your health.
15 July. [There is now a break in the correspondence for more than three months, in the course of which the fate of the Republic was decided. On the 7th of July, Caesar, after Pompey had pierced his lines and inflicted a defeat upon him, retreated into Thessaly. Pompey's exultant followers forced him to follow, and on the 9th of August the battle of Pharsalia drove Pompey to his retreat and death in Egypt, and made Caesar master of the Empire. The fleet, indeed, still held out, and took those of the Pompeians who had not been in the battle or had escaped from it to Africa and Spain. But Cicero (who was with the fleet at Corcyra) refused to join in continuing the war, and after staying some time at Patrae returned to Brundisium, having, it appears, received Caesar's permission through Dolabella to do so. At Brundisium, however, he waited many months, not venturing to approach Rome till Caesar's will was known. It is during his residence at Brundisium that the next thirty-three letters are written. The dates are according to the unreformed calendar—in advance of the true time as much perhaps as two months.)
TO TERENTIA (AT ROME)
BRUNDISIUM, 4 NOVEMBER
You say that you are glad of my safe arrival in Italy. I only hope you may continue to be glad. But I am afraid that, disordered as I was by mental anguish and the signal injuries which I have received, I have taken a step involving complications which I may find some difficulty in unravelling. 23 Wherefore do your best to help me: yet what you can do I cannot think. It is no use your starting on a journey at such a time as this. The way is both long and unsafe; and I don't see what good you can do me if you do come. Good-bye.
Brundisium, 4 November.
TO ATTICUS (AT ROME)
BRUNDISIUM (4 NOVEMBER)
What the reasons were, and how distressing, peremptory, and unprecedented, which influenced me and compelled me to follow an impulsive feeling, so to speak, rather than deliberate thought, I cannot tell you in writing without the utmost anguish of mind. They were so powerful as to effect what you see. 24
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