previous next

Letter VI: ad Atticum 1.17

Rome, Dec. 5, 61 B.C. At this time there had been a disagreement of long standing between Quintus Cicero and his wife Pomponia, who was the sister of Atticus. On leaving Rome to assume the propraetorship of Asia in 61 B.C. , Quintus had invited Atticus to accompany him as legatus, and Atticus had declined the invitation (cf. Ep. V. 14). This refusal and the suspicion of Quintus that Pomponia was abetted in her opposition by her brother (cf. odiosas suspiciones, 1), had led to such a serious breach between the two men that Quintus, as current rumor said, had expressed himself very unfavorably in regard to his brother-in-law at Rome, and had actually left the city without writing to him (cf. 4). Atticus naturally felt aggrieved, and in his letter to Marcus Cicero took occasion to remind his friend of the services which he had rendered him in the past (cf. 5). To avoid a misunderstanding with Atticus, and to put his brother's conduct in a more favorable light, without aggravating the quarrel between Quintus and Pomponia, and without putting Atticus in the wrong, constitute the delicate task which Cicero essays. With this letter, cf. Ep. XXX. 3, 4.


epistularum ... exempla: the letters which Quintus addressed to Atticus from Thessalonica (cf. 4), which would seem to have been very bitter in their tone. Cf. offensionem tam gravem, below.

discedentem: sc. for Epirus at the close of 62 or in the early part of 61 B.C. (cf. Att. 1.13.1).

insedisse: sc. in animo.

antea saepe: it is evident that the ill-feeling of Quintus antedated the refusal of Atticus to serve as legatus.


in istis locis: i.e. in Epirus, where Atticus now was. Cf. Ep. V.15n.

nihil attinet: cf. de quo quid sentiam, nihil attinet dicere, Fam. 4.7.3.

perincommode: cf. Intr. 77.

nonnullorum artificus: the anger of Quintus had evidently been inflamed by some of the enemies of Atticus.


facilius ... scribere: Cicero touches upon one of the fundamental and unknown causes of the enmity of Quintus, which, however, he does not dare state in a letter.

meos ... tuis: the plural used politely for the singular (cf. ego autem, Ep. VII. I), as Cicero can be thinking only of Q uintus and Pomponia respectively. -

Ut nihil, granting that no, etc.

domesticis: i.e. Pomponia.


de iis litteris: cf. Intr. 91.

de sermonibus: cf. introd. note, and Att. 1.19.11 (written in March, 60 B.C. ) Quintus frater purgat se mihi per litteras et adfirmat nihil a se cuiquam de te secus esse dictum.

causae: sc. for his conduct.

irritabiles: cf. Q. fr. 1.1.37 omnes enim, qui istinc veniunt, ita de tua virtute integritate humanitate commemorant, ut in tuis summis laudibus excipiant unam iracundiam.


provincialium probably refers not to political positions but to business opportunities in the provinces which Atticus had neglected in serving the interests of Cicero, notably during the latter's candidacy for the consulship and incumbency of that office. Most of the business ventures of Atticus, who was a money-lender, were carried on in the provinces.

voluntatem institutae vitae: Cicero was interested in politics while Atticus held aloof from them; cf. Intr. 58.

honorum: public distinctions, especially political offices.

cum ... discessi, if I except the love of my brother and of my family. Cf. Fam. 6.12.2 Caesaris familiares cum ab illo discesserint, me habeant proximum.

primas: sc. partes.


sustinebam, nunc: sc. sustineo.


purgatos ac probatos: cf. Intr. 93.

nota ... testificata: AttiCus had informed Cicero several months before of his intention not to go to Asia, and had probably based his refusal upon his well-known policy of keeping out of politics (cf. Ep. V.14). These facts would absolve Atticus from the charge of cherishing any ill-will toward Quintus.

et illa. et haec nostra: the letter up to this point consists of two distinct parts; in the first part (1-4) the relations existing between Atticus and Quintus are discussed, in the second part (5-7) the relations between Atticus and Marcus Cicero. A third division of the letter, devoted to politics, begins with 8.


ob iudicandum: this senatorial investigation was directed particularly against the jury in the Clodian trial, the majority of which was supposed to have been bribed (cf. Ep. V.5). Cato, who proposed the investigation (cf. Att. 2.1.8), was acting simply in the interests of justice; but, as many of the suspected jurors were equi tes, the equestrian order regarded the investigation as a covert attack upon themselves, which 'at the same time they could not oppose (neque aperte dicere) without appearing to defend crime. The incident offers an excellent opportunity to contrast the methods of Cato and of the political group to which he belonged, with those of Cicero and his school. Cato wishes to punish the offenders regardless of the political consequences, or, as Cicero puts it (Att. 2.1.8), dicit tam quam in Platonis roXtreig, non tam quam in Romuli foece sententiam. Cicero abhors the deed, but does not wish to punish the evil-doers, for fear of alienating the class to which they belonged, and thus weakening the opposition to the democracy. Cf. Att. 2.1.8 (end). Cato prevailed.

accepissent: used absolutely, as inAtt. 5. 21.5 and 11.22.2. Ordinarily pecuniam is expressed. Cf.Crit. Append.


ecce aliae takes the place of a correlative to primum, 8

aliae deliciae, another charming scheme.

Asiam: the privilege of collecting the taxes in the provinces for a period of five years was assigned to the highest bidders by the censors (cf. Marquardt's Staatsverwaltung 11.2 248 ff.). Those who had contracted for the taxes in Asia, finding that they had offered too much, demanded that their contracts should be cancelled (Ut induceretur locatio). atque adeo: to introduce a correction; equivalent to vel potius. Cf. Cic. in Caec. 68 and Dziatzko on Ter. Phorm. 389.

secundus: Cicero was their second champion in point of time and of prominence. Crassus was probably heavily interested in a pecuniary way in the matter. Perhaps he also wished to widen the breach between the senate and the knights in order to further his own political plans.

summum periculum: see Crit. Append.

frequentissimo senatu: at a frequens senatus mentioned inAtt. 1.14.5 there were 415 members present, while a frequens senatus in the December holiday season contained 200 members (cf. Q. fr. 2.1.1, and Willems, Le Sénat de la Républ. Rom. 2.165-170).

Metellus: i.e. Q. Metellus Celer; cf. Att. 2.1.4; pro Cael. 59.

heros ille : because regardless of the political consequences. Cf. note to ob iudicandum, above.


concordiam: cf. coniunctione, Ep. V.6n.

quaedam ... via: in response to a warning from Atticus, Cicero explains his political plans inAtt. 2.1.6, as follows: non ut ego de optimati illa mea ratione decederem, sed ut ille (Pompeius) esset melior et aliquid depopulari levitate deponeret. He has hopes even of Caesar: quid Si etiam Caesarem ... reddo meliorem.


Lucceium: cf. intr. note to Ep. XVIII. Cicero is writing of the elections which would take place in midsummer of 60 B.C. Caesar allied himself with Lucceius, but the Optimates partially frustrated the combination by the election of Bibulus as Caesar's colleague.

cum eo: i.e. Caesar.

Arrium: a man of neither ability nor distinguished antecedents, but put forward by Crassus to support Caesar.

cogitat, putat: sc. Luc-celus.

cum hoc: i.e. Bibulus; cf. Ep. VII.2n.

C. Pisonem: C. Calpurnius Piso, who had been consul in 67 B.C. and later governor of Gallia Narbonensis, was an extreme member of the party of the Optimates, and a bitter enemy of Caesar, who had brought a legal action against him a few years before. He could therefore be relied upon to use his best efforts to further the cause of Bibulus, upon whom the Optimates centered their efforts in their struggle against Caesar.

mihi crede: cf. mihicred; Ep. XXVII.1n.


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 Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
61 BC (3)
60 BC (2)
67 BC (1)
hide References (13 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (13):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 6.12.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.13.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.14.5
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.19.11
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.1.4
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.1.6
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.1.8
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 1.1.37
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.1.1
    • Cicero, For Marcus Caelius, 59
    • Cicero, For Aulus Caecina, 68
    • Terence, Phormio, 2.3
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: