previous next

B.C. 59. Coss., C. Iulius Caesar, M. Calpurnius Bibulus.
This year was a crucial one in the history of the Republic, and also of Cicero particularly. It witnessed the working of the agreement entered into in the previous year between Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus, to secure their several objects, commonly called the First Triumvirate. The determined enmity of the consuls to each other, the high-handed conduct of Caesar in regard to the senate, his ultimate appointment to the unusual period of five years' government of the Gauls and Illyricum, were so many blows at the old constitution; and scarcely less offensive to the Catonian Optimates were the agrarian laws passed in favour of Pompey's veterans, the forcing of his acta through the senate, and the arrangement whereby he too was eventually to have the consulship again, and an extended period of provincial government. Cicero was distracted by hesitation. He had pinned his faith on Pompey's ultimate opposition to Caesar, and yet did not wholly trust him, and was fully aware of the unpracticable nature of Cato and the weakness of the Optimates. The triumvirs had an instrument for rendering him helpless in Clodius, but Cicero could not believe that they would use it, or that his services to the state could be so far forgotten as to make danger possible. We shall find him, then, wholly absorbed in the question as to how far he is to give into or oppose the triumvirs. It is not till the end of the year that he begins to see the real danger ahead. We have one extant oration of this year-pro Flacco-which was not much to his credit, for Flaccus had evidently been guilty of extortion in Asia. He also defended the equally guilty C. Antonius in a speech which brought upon him the vengeance of the triumvirs, but it is happily lost.

XXX (A II, 4)

I am exceedingly obliged to you for sending me Serapio's book, of which indeed, between you and me, I scarcely understood a thousandth part. I have ordered the money for it to be paid you at once, that you may not put it down to the Cost of presentation copies. But as I have mentioned the subject of money, I will beg you to try to come to a settlement with Titinius in any way you can. If he doesn't stand by his own proposal, what I should like best is that what he bought at too dear a rate should be returned, if that can be done with Pomponia's Consent: if that too is impossible, let the money be paid rather than have any difficulty. I should be very glad if you would settle this before you leave Rome, with your usual kindness and exactness.

So Clodius, you say, is for Tigranes? I only wish he would go—on the same terms as the Skepsian! 1 But I don't grudge him the job; for a more convenient time for my taking a "free legation" is when my brother Quintus shall have settled down again, as I hope, into private life, and I shall have made certain how that "priest of the Bona Dea" 2 intends to behave. Meanwhile I shall find my pleasure in the Muses with a mind undisturbed, or rather glad and cheerful; for it will never occur to me to envy Crassus or to regret that I have not been false to myself. As to geography, I will try to satisfy you, but I promise nothing for certain. 3 It is a difficult business, but nevertheless, as you bid me, I will take care that this country excursion produces something for you. Mind you let me know any news you have ferreted out, and especially who you think will be the next consuls. However, I am not very curious; for I have determined not to think about politics. I have examined Terentia's woodlands. What need I say? If there was only a Dodonean oak in them, I should imagine myself to be in possession of Epirus. About the 1st of the month I shall be either at Formiae or Pompeii. 4 If I am not at Formiae, pray, an you love me, come to Pompeii. It will be a great pleasure to me and not much out of the way for you. About the wall, I have given Philotimus orders not to put any difficulty in the way of your doing whatever you please. I think, however, you had better call in Vettius. 5 In these bad times, when the life of all the best men hangs on a thread, I value one summer's enjoyment of my Palatine palaestra rather highly; but, of course, the last thing I should wish would be that Pomponia and her boy should live in fear of a falling wall.

1 That is, if it ends in his death, for Meliodorus of Skepsis was sent by Mithridates to Tigranes to urge him to go to war with Rome, but privately advised him not to do so, and, in Consequence, was put to death by Mithridates (Plut. Luc. 22). The word Scepsii (Σκηψίου) was introduced by Gronovius for the unintelligible word Syrpie found in the MSS., which so often blunder in Greek names.

2 Clodius, alluding to his intrusion into the mysteries.

3 Atticus has asked Cicero for a Latin treatise on geography—probably as a publisher, Cicero being the prince of book-makers—and to that end has sent him the Greek geography of Serapio.

4 In his Formianum or Pompeianum, his villas at Formiae and Pompeii.

5 An architect, a freedman of Cyrus, of whom we have heard before.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (L. C. Purser)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: