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Letter LXIX: ad Atticum 12.1

Near Arpinum, second intercalary month after Nov., 46 B.C. (old calendar); Nov.24 (Julian calendar).

a te: Atticus was probably in Rome.

hoc litterularum, these few lines; a still stronger expression than hoc litterarum, which Cicero uses elsewhere. Cf. also ne patiamur intermitti litterulas, Att. 14.4.2; nescio quid ab eo litterularum, Att. 15.4.1.

exaravi: for scripsi. Exarare is properly used of writing with a stilus upon wax tablets. It is almost certain, however, that Cicero's letters were written with pen and ink upon papyrus (cf. Intr. 59), and that exarare was loosely applied to the new method of writing, just as we carelessly speak of “sealing a letter.” Exarare was also used of something written in haste; cf. ante lucem cum scriberem contra Epicureos, de eodem oleo et opera exaravi nescio quid ad te et ante lucem dedi, Att. 13.38.1; certior a Pilia factus mitti ad te Idibus tabellarios, statim hoc nescio quid exaravi, Att. 14.22.1; plura (sc. scribam) otiosus; haec, cum essem in senatu, exaravi, Fam. 12.20. Cf. the English expression “to scratch off a few lines.” In the following passage, however, the reference would certainly seem to be to wax tablets: accubueram hora nona, cum ad te harum exemplum in codicillis exaravi, Fam. 9.26.1; and it is possible that the letter before us, being brief, and being sent only from Arpinum to Rome, was written on wax tablets.

e villa: i.e., from his villa at Arpinum.

in Anagnino: sc. esse Cf. Ep. LX 2 (end).

ad constitutum: i.e. in locum (or loco) ubi tecum constitui (Boot)

Atticae: Attica the daughter of Atticus, must have been at this time less than eight years old Cf also in eius nuptiis Ep XVI 7 n

quod ipsum: referring loosely to osculum.

scribes ... nuntiabis: Cicero is uncertain whether Pilia and Attica are in the country or with Atticus in Rome.

scribes: cf. Intr. 84b.

complicarem: the technical word for fastening a letter.

noctuabundus, after travelling all night long; found nowhere else in Latin, nor is there a verb noctuare known. Adjectives in -bundus belong exclusively to archaic or vulgar Latin. Gellius (N. A. 11.15) indicates correctly the force of the ending.

febricula, slight attack of fever.

sed quod scribis, etc., but as for your writing that 'a bit of fire in the morning is a sign of old age,' it is a surer sign when one's memory is weak and tottering. Cicero was about to visit Atticus, and had asked him to have a little fire for him in the morning. This request Atticus makes the basis of a sally at his expense, upon which Cicero retorts; for, as he goes on to say, he had written to Atticus that he should spend with him the third day before the Kalends, but Atticus had forgotten the day, and thought Cicero was to be with him on the fifth day before the Kalends.

memoriola: the large number of diminutives for so short a letter, litterularum, igniculum, and memoriola, is worthy of note. All three of these words are rare, and have not only a diminutive force but express other shades of meaning, e.g. memoriola expresses commiseration and sympathy.

dederam: the object is IIII Kal., i.e. quartum Kal.

quo dic venissem: sc. Romam.

hoc igitur habebis, take that then; a phrase from the arena, of one who has received a telling thrust or blow. hoc refers to γεροντικώτερον ... vacillare. On habebis, cf. habes, Ep. XC.7n.

garrimus: a colloquial word properly applied to the chattering of children, as in 1.

quicquid in buccam (venerit): the vulgar expression for quicquid in mentem venerit. The same phrase is found inAtt. 1.12.4; Att. 1.7.10; Att. 14.7.2. In all these cases the letters, as is this one, are of a very colloquial character. The vulgar bucca has been preserved in the Romance languages (Fr. bouche, Ital. bocca), while its literary equivalent os has been lost, just as in cheval and cavallo, caballus has survived at the expense of equus. Cf. testificor, Ep. L.1n., and civitatem, Ep. LII.3n.

est profecto quiddam λέσχη, mere talk is really worth something.

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46 BC (1)
hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 12.20
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 9.26.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 13.38.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 14.22.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 14.7.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 15.4.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.12.4
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