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Letter LXXXIII: ad Atticum 13.52

Puteoli, Dec. 19, 45 B.C. This letter describes a visit which Caesar, accompanied by his bodyguard, made at Cicero's villa near Puteoli.

O ... ἀμεταμέλητον, would you believe it, I have nothing to be sorry for in the visit of a guest so formidable to me! The acc. hospitem expresses astonishment.

tam gravem: so formidable because he had been a political enemy. mihi tam gravem is to be taken parenthetically, and a contrast is intended between gravem and ἀμεταμέλητον.

fuit enim periucunde: sc. Caesar. Cf. Intr. 85. Cicero addresses almost the same words to Caesar (pro Deiot. 19): cum in convivio comiter et iucunde fuisses. On the force of per-, cf. Intr. 77.

sed, but (to my tale). Breaking off his general comments upon the incident, he proceeds to describe it in detail.

secundis Saturnalibus: i.e. Dec. 18.

Philippum: cf. Ep. LXXII. n.

quippe hominum CIC CIC: sc. fuerunt.

postridie: when he expected a visit from Caesar.

Barba Cassius: cf. Galli Canini, Ep. XIX.4n. Cassius Barba was a friend of Caesar; cf. Philipp. 13.3.

ille: i.e. Caesar.

apud Philippum: sc. erat.

Balbo: Cornelius Balbus, Caesar's financial agent. Cf. Ep. XXI.2n.

in balneum: sc. ivit. This was doubtless at Cicero's villa. With these words the account of the visit proper begins, and since no reference is made to Caesar's arrival or to his reception by Cicero, Boot suggests with probability that one or more lines have fallen out after post h. VIII.

de Mamurra: Mamurra had been Caesar's praefectus fabrum in Gaul and Britain. It is he against whom Catullus directs his fierce invectives, Catul. 29 and 57. The reference here is possibly to the death of Mamurra, but probably, as Manutius suggests, Cicero has in mind his conviction under the sumptuary laws; cf. also Riese on Catull. Car. 29.

mutavit: used absolutely as in Fam. 16.1.1.

accubuit: Caesar followed the regular order, viz., exercise, the bath, dinner.

ἐμετικὴν αγεβατ (sc. τέχνην), he was taking a course of emetics. Emetics were regularly prescribed by physicians in order that patients might escape the effects resulting from eating elaborate dinners. They were taken in the morning, after the bath or after the cena. The use of them was, however, by no means confined to men of a gluttonous disposition; cf. pro Deiot. 21, where the speaker certainly has every reason to avoid offending Caesar: cum ... vomere post cenam te velle dixisses. See also Marq. and Momm. Handbuch, VII. 330, and n. 5 and 6. For the Greek word, cf. Intr. 97.

opipare: from the colloquial vocabulary. Cf. Plaut. Bacch. 373; Caecil. Stat. 100, Ribbeck, Com. Röm. Frag. It occurs also Att. 5.9.1; Att. 7.2.3; and de Off. 3.58 in a quotation.

sane : cf. Ep. XVI.2n.

apparate : used only in the Letters (Hofmann).

bene cocto condito: sc. cibo. The quotation, which is from Lucilius is found also de Fin. 2.25:ex quo illud efficitur, qui bene cenent omnes libente, cenare, aut libenter, non conntinuo bene. Semper Laelius bene. Quid bene? Dicet Luilius: “cocto | condito”; sed cedo caput cenae sermone bono quid ex eo? “Si quaeri‘, libenter.””.

si quaeri: for si quaeris.

libenter: to be connected with some form of cenare in the unquoted part of the original.

tribus tricliniis : in uno liberti lautiores, in altero minus lauti, in tertio discubuere servi (Manutius).

nam, etc.: the reason for Cicero's use of the words minus lautis.

quid multa, in a word; cf. quid quaeris, Ep. V.4n. These words indicate that what follows conveys Cicero's general impression of the whole affair.

homines, ordinary mortals (not Caesar the dictator, and Cicero the constitutionalist). Cf. Ep. XX. 3 virum te putabo, si Sallusti Empedoclea legeris, hominem non putabo. The dinner was such a dinner as one gentleman might give to another.

amabo te: see Intr. 100; Archiv f. lat. Lexiko IX. 485 ff.; and cf. si me amas, Ep. XIII.3n.

ad me: sc. deverte.

σπουδαῖον οὐδὲν: i.e. no discussion of politics; see Intr. 97, and παρρησίαν, Ep. V.8n. Cf. also φιλόλογα and ἐπισταθμείαν, below.

quid quaeris: cf. quid multa, above.

libenter: cf. periucunde, 1.

ad Bajas: sc. fore or venturum esse.

habes: cf. sic habeto, Ep. XXVI.1n.

ἐπισταθμείαν: billeting.

hic: sc. ero.

Dolabellae villam : sc. at Baiae.

dextra sinistra: cf. Intr. 94.

ad equum: sc. Caesaris. This military evolution, which consisted in parading on either side of Caesar, was intended as a compliment to Dolabella.

Nicia: a common friend of Cicero and Dolabella. The excitement which this visit produced is reflected in the language of the letter, which in the great number of ellipses and of Greek expressions presents a fine specimen of the sermo familiaris (Hofmann). It is a significant fact that Caesar was assassinated three months after the incident described in this letter. The spectacle which Caesar presented when making a progress through Italy attended by a disorderly bodyguard of 2000 men, may well have crystallized the sentiment forming against him.

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45 BC (1)
hide References (11 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (11):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 16.1.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.9.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 7.2.3
    • Catullus, Poems, 29
    • Catullus, Poems, 57
    • Cicero, Philippics, 13.3
    • Cicero, For King Deiotarius, 19
    • Cicero, For King Deiotarius, 21
    • Plautus, Bacchides, 3.1
    • Cicero, de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, 2.25
    • Cicero, De Officiis, 3.58
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