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Letter VII: ad Atticum 2.19

Rome, July, 59 B.C. In accordance with the Compact made in 60 B.C. between Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, who formed what is commonly called the First Triumvirate, Caesar had been elected consul for 59 B.C. , and the radical measures whose passage he had secured or was securing with the help of Pompey (cf. Att. 2.16.2) opened Cicero's eyes to the character of Pompey, and to the danger which threatened the state. The letter presents a lively picture of the political turmoil in Rome, throws light upon the attitude of the populace toward Caesar and Pompey, as viewed from an aristocratic standpoint, and discloses Cicero's realization for a moment of the danger with which the designs of Clodius threaten him.

sescenta: cf. miliens, Ep. V.4n.

Statium manu missum (esse): Quintus Cicero had lately set his slave Statius free, and this action had given color to the rumor that Statius exerted too great an influence over Quintus. Cf. Q. fr. 1.2.3 quod autem me maxisne movere solebat, cum audiebam illum plus apud te posse quam gravitas istius aetatis imperiprudentiae postularet, etc.

nec meum imperium, etc.: from Ter. Phorm. 232.

mitto, I waive.

revereri: an exclamatory infinitive expressing indignation.

ego autem, etc.: perhaps a general statement, or Cicero may refer to his brother alone, as on grounds of politeness or discretion he often employs the plural when thinking of a single person.

cetera, etc.: pointing back to multa me sollicitant; 'my other troubles concern important matters.'

dignitatis ἅλις, tamquam δρυός, quite enough of dignityy, as men said of the oak. The proverbial expression, ἅλις δρυός, refers to the time when men gave up a diet of acorns for one of bread. In general language, 'times are changed, and what suited the past is ill adapted to the present.' Jeans aptly cites the same proverb from Voltaire: 'Le siècle du gland est passé, vous donnerez du pain aux hommes.' Cf. also Intr. 102.

τυφλώττω and τῷ καλῷ προσπέπονθα (I am passionately attacked) are very likely naturalized Greek phrases. Cf. Intr. 97.

generibus, ordinibus, to all parties, classes.

non modo quam putaram: 'to say nothing of what I had anticipated.'

populares: the triumvirs, who found their supporters in the democratic party.

Bibulus: Caesar's colleague in the consulship; cf. Lucceium, Ep. VI.11n. He opposed Caesar's plans to the best of his ability, but his opposition was rather obstinate than effective. Cf. Mommsen, Röm. Hist. IV. 245. Subsequently he was commander of Pompey's fleet in the Civil War.

in caelo est: is extolled to the skies.

unus homo, etc the celebrated line from the Annals of Ennius descriptive of Fabius Maximus Cunctator, ironically applied to the passive resistance of Bibulus.

ipse se adfixit: i.e., by allying himself with Caesar.

tenent: sc. the triumvirs.

illa causa: the cause of the triumvirs.

illam amicitiam: Cicero's well-known friendship for Pompey.

utor via: i.e. the via media, turning off neither to the one side nor to the other.

theatro et spectaculis: abl. of time. Cf. gladiatoribus, Ep. V.11n. and Intr. 83d. Upon political demonstrations on such occasions, Böckel Cites pro Sestio, 115-126.

qua ... qua=et ... et: a usage not occurring in Cicero outside the letters, but found in comedy; cf. Plaut. Men. 666.

dominus: this seems from the connection to refer to Pompey. As Tyrrell remarks, to the Roman at this time the figure in the foreground was Pompey, not Caesar. Pompey attended the gladiatorial show which was given by Gabinius (Att. 2.24.3).

ludis Apollinaribus: given July 6-13, under the direction of the praetor urbanies.

istam: difficult to understand as referring to the subject of gemes; but perhaps we may understand, 'the time shall come when you (Pompey) shall bitterly repent of this very prowess of yours,' i.e. in carrying everything through with a high hand.

mortuo plausu, as the applause (for Caesar) died away. The contrast revealed Caesar's unpopularity. Allowance should be made for the fact that Cicero was sitting among the senators and knights, who favored Curio, and at a distance from the lower classes, who were in the rear of the theatre, and could not well compare the applause from the two sections, even if he were impartial.

Curio filius: the younger Curio continued to be Caesar's most active and dangerous opponent until 50 B.C. , when Caesar purchased his support by the payment of a large sum of money. Cf. Fam. 2.1; 2.7; 8.10.3; 16.11.2, and Vell. Paterc. 2.48.3.

litterae ... erat susceptum: the tenses in this paragraph are probably epistolary. Cf. Intr. 84c.

equitibus qui, etc.: the hostility of the equites toward Caesar is hard to understand, as his legislation to relieve the publicani who had bid too high for the privilege of collecting the taxes (Att. 1.17.9; 2.16.2) was calculated to win their favor.

Capuam: Pompey was at Capua as a member of the commission appointed under Caesar's agrarian laws.

Rosciae legi: the lex Roscia, proposed by L. Roscius Otho in 67 B.C. , set apart 14 rows of seats for the knights immediately behind the orchestra, where the senators sat. This law had been threatened in Cicero's consulship also; cf. Att. 2.1.3 and Mommsen, St. N. III. 520.

frumentariae: the lex Terentia et Cassia passed in 73 B.C. fixed a low price for corn. Cf. Cic. Verr. 2.3.163, 174. The repeal of this law would be aimed at the poor people, as the repeal of the Roscian law would injure the equites.

quam prae sidio: i.e. than by power of resistance.

noster: the possessive is often thus used ironically in the letters of one whom the writer dislikes or despises. Cf. Intr. 88b.

impendet negotium: Clodius wished to take vengeance upon Cicero for the latter's evidence on the trial for sacrilege, and for the discomfiture which he had suffered at his hands in the debate in the senate (cf. Ep. V.2n). Cf. Intr. 14.

consularem exercitum: i.e. the backing which Cicero's consulship won him.

illum (facturum): i.e. Clodius.

in locum mortui: Cosconius had been a member of Caesar's land commission. Cicero is offended that, instead of making him an original member of the commission, the triumvirs should wait until a member died, and should then offer him the chance of stepping into a dead man's shoes, so to speak. The phrase implies also that one holding a place on the commission would be dead politically. istam: Atticus had evidently recommended a conciliatory course; see above, 'saluti, Si me amas, consule.'

apud bonos invidiosi: the division of the public lands was always bittedy opposed by the Boni.

legatum: as Caesar's legate during his proconsulship, Cicero might hope for protection against the attacks of Clodius. Cf. Att. 2.18.3. Cicero's agitation shows itself in the abruptness of the style (Rillerbeck).

perfidelem: cf. Intr. 77.

Laelium: Cicero elsewhere (Ep. 111.3) compares himself to Laelius. In his next letter to Atticus (Att. 2.20.5) he announces his intention of calling himself Laelius in the letters and leaving the name of Atticus unchanged. The plan suggested here does not seem to have been carried out. Furius, consul 136 B.C. , was a friend of the younger Laelius.

cetera erunt ἐν αἰνιγμοῖς: numerous illustrations of this fact may be found in the care with which Cicero often avoids referring to people by their names. He alludes also to delicate personal and political matters in a covert way. Cf. Intr. 104.

Caecilium: cf. Ep. 1.3.

edicta Bibuli: Bibulus, Caesar's colleague in the consulship, after ineffectual efforts to oppose Caesar's action, shut himself up in his own house and issued proclamations declaring Caesar's acts illegal. Cf. Mommsen, Rom. Hist. IV. 247.

noster: cf. 4 n.

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hide References (10 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (10):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 2.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.17.9
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.16.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.18.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.1.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.20.5
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.24.3
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 1.2.3
    • Terence, Phormio, 2.1
    • Plautus, Menaechmi, 4.2
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