previous next

Renewal of the Triumvirate at Luca, April, B.C. 56, and Cicero's change of policy.

The hope, however, of detaching Pompey from Caesar was dashed by the meeting at Luca in April,B.C. 56, at which a fresh arrangement was made for the mutual advantage of the triumvirs. Caesar got the promise of the introduction of a law giving him an additional five years of command in Gaul, with special privileges as to his candidature for the consulship of B.C. 48; while Pompey and Crassus bargained for a second consulship in B.C. 55, and the reversion of the Spains (to be held as a single province) and Syria respectively, each for five years. The care taken that none of the three should have imperium overlapping that of the others was indeed a sign of mutual distrust and jealousy. But the bargain was made with sufficient approval of the members of the party crowding Luca to secure its being carried out by the comitia. The union seemed stronger than ever; and Cicero at length resolved on a great change of attitude. Opposition to the triumvirs had been abandoned, he saw, by the very party for whom he had been incurring the enmity of Pompey and Caesar. Why should he hold out any longer? "Since those who have no power," he writes to Atticus in April, "refuse me their affection, let me take care to secure the affection of those who have power. You will say, 'I could have wished that you had done so before.' I know you did wish it, and that I have made a real ass of myself." 1 This is the first indication in the letters of the change. But it was soon to be publicly avowed. The opposition to the consulship of Pompey and Crassus was so violent that no election took place during B.C. 56, and they were only elected under the presidency of interreges at the beginning of February, B.C. 55. But by the lex Sempronia the senate was bound to name the consular provinces—i.e., the provinces to be governed by the incoming consuls after their year of office—before the elections, and in his speech on the subject (be Provinciis Consularibus), delivered apparently in July, B.C. 56, Cicero, while urging that Piso and Gabinius should have successors appointed to them in Macedonia and Syria, took occasion to announce and defend his own reconciliation with Caesar, and to support his continuance in the governorship of Gaul. Shortly afterwards, when defending the citizenship of L. Cornelius Balbus, he delivered a glowing panegyric on Pompey's character and services to the state. This was followed by a complete abstention from any farther opposition to the carrying out of Caesar's law for the allotment of the Campanian land—a subject which he had himself brought before the senate only a short time before, and on which he really continued to feel strongly. 2 Cicero's most elaborate defence of his change of front is contained in a long letter to P. Lentulus Spinther, written two years afterwards. 3The gist of it is much the same as the remark to Atticus already quoted. "Pompey and Caesar were all-powerful, and could not be resisted without civil violence, if not downright civil war. The Optimates were feeble and shifty, had shown ingratitude to Cicero himself, and had openly favoured his enemy Clodius. Public peace and safety must be the statesman's chief object, and almost any concession was to be preferred to endangering these." Nevertheless, we cannot think that Cicero was ever heartily reconciled to the policy, or the unconstitutional preponderance of the triumvirs. He patched up some sort of reconciliation with Crassus, and his personal affection for Pompey made it comparatively easy for him to give him a kind of support. Caesar was away, and a correspondence filled on both sides with courteous expressions could be maintained without seriously compromising his convictions. But Cicero was never easy under the yoke. From B.C. 55 to B.C. 52 he sought several opportunities for a prolonged stay in the country, devoting himself—in default of politics—to literature. The fruits of this were the de Oratore and the de Republica, besides poems on his own times and on his consulship. Still he was obliged from time to time to appear in the forum and senate-house, and in various ways to gratify Pompey and Caesar. It must have been a great strain upon his loyalty to this new political friendship when, in B.C. 54, Pompey called upon him to undertake the defence of P. Vatinius, whom he had not long before attacked so fiercely while defending Sestius. Vatinius had been a tribune in B.C. 59, acting entirely in Caesar's interests, and Cicero believed him to have been his enemy both in the matter of his exile and in the opposition to his recall. He had denounced him in terms that would have made it almost impossible, one would think, to have spoken in his defence in any cause whatever. At best he represented all that Cicero most disliked in politics; and on this very election, to the praetorship, for which he was charged with bribery (de sodalitiis), Cicero had already spoken in strongly hostile terms in the senate. For now undertaking his defence he has, in fact, no explanation to give to Lentulus (vol. i., p.319), and he was long sore at having been forced to do it. Through B.C. 54 and 53 he was busied with his de Republica, and was kept more in touch with Caesar by the fact that his brother Quintus was serving as legatus to the latter in Britain and Gaul, and that his
Quintus Cicero in Gaul.
friend Trebatius (introduced by himself) was seeking for promotion and profit in Caesar's camp. But even his brother's service with Caesar did not eventually contribute to the formation of cordial feeling on his part towards Caesar, whom he could not help admiring, but never really liked. For Quintus, though he distinguished himself by his defence of his camp in the autumn of B.C. 54, lost credit and subjected himself to grave rebuke by the disaster incurred in B.C. 53, near Aduatuca (Tongres), brought about by disregarding an express order of Caesar's. There is no allusion to this in the extant correspondence, but a fragment of letter from Caesar to Cicero (neque pro cauto ac diligente se castris continuit 4 ), seems to show that Caesar had written sharply to Cicero on his brother's faux pas, and after this time, though Cicero met Caesar at Ravenna in B.C. 52, and consented to support the bill allowing him to stand for the consulship in his absence, 5 there is apparent in his references to him a return to the cold or critical tone of former times. But of course there were other reasons.

1 Letter CVII, vol. i., pp.219, 226.

2 Ever since its capture in the second Punic War, Capua had ceased to have any corporate existence, and its territory had been ager publicus, let out to tenants (aratores). Caesar had restored its corporate existence by making it a colonia, and much of the land had been allotted to veterans of his own and Pompey's armies. The state thus lost the rent of the land, one of the few sources of revenue from Italy now drawn by the exchequer of Rome.

3 Letter CLII, vol. i., pp.310-324.

4 Quoted by Flavius Charisius, Ars: Gramm. i., p.126 (ed. Kiel).

5 Vol. ii., p.204.

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.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: