previous next

C. Cassius Longinus, b. B.C. 83.

But the chief figures in the last stage of the correspondence are the two Bruti, Marcus and Decimus, Gaius Cassius, Plancus and Lepidus.1 With CASSIUS Cicero's intimacy seems to have begun in B.C. 46, when they were both living in Rome by Caesar's indulgence, and both of them with feelings of very doubtful loyalty to his régime. Cassius had distinguished himself after the fall of Crassus—whose quaestor he was—by successfully getting the remains of the Roman army back to Antioch, and repelling an attack of the Parthians on that town in the following year (B.C. 52). His success made Cicero's year in Cilicia (B.C. 51-50) safe as far as the Parthians were concerned. But he does not speak with much cordiality about it, or as if he knew Cassius at all intimately. Cassius was in command of a fleet off Sicoly when the battle of Pharsalia took place. When he heard of it he sailed towards the Hellespont; apparently with a view of intercepting Caesar, but almost immediately surrendered to him. After the Alexandrian War he seems to have returned to Rome and turned his attention to philosophy, adopting the doctrines of the Epicurean School. His letter (vol. iii., p.194) shews the zeal of a late convert, as Cicero implies that he was (vol. iii., p.174). He was never a hearty Caesarian, though, like others, he submitted. In B.C. 46-45, when Caesar was going to Spain to attack the sons of Pompey, he seems to have excused himself from fighting against old friends, and consequently to have received a hint that he had better go on a tour that would keep him from Rome during Caesar's absence. On Caesar's return, however, in the middle of B.C. 45, he appears to have been treated respectfully and nominated as praetor for B.C. 44, though he was annoyed at the preference being given to his brother-in-law M. Brutus, who was praetor urbanus. They were also to be consuls in B.C. 41, their proper year. To assign his personal annoyance as to the urban praetorship as the motive for his promotion of the conspiracy does not seem reasonable, in face of the evidence of his profound discontent at the Caesarian régime. He of course accepted office by Caesar's favour, but he probably regarded that office as no more than his due, and the influence which gave it him as an unconstitutional exercise of prerogative, with which he could have dispensed if the state of the Republic had been normal. On the whole his share in the crime of the Ides of March is not aggravated by the additional stigma of ingratitude to the same extent as some of the others. His letters from Syria are short and soldierlike. Without being a man of great ability, he evidently possessed energy and military Capacity.

1 The family ties uniting the leaders of the anti-Caesarian party will be seen by the annexed table:

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: