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Letter IX: ad Atticum 2.23

Rome, Aug. or Sept., 59 B.C.

nisi mea manu scriptam: cf. Intr. 64.

quanta occupatione distinear: his attention was given to professional matters rather than to politics; cf. 3.

voculae: cf. pulchellus, Ep. V.10n, and voculas, Ep. LI.2n.

ambulare: Quintilian, 11.3.19, recommends walking, among other things, as good for the voice.

dictavi : Tiro, Cicero's principal secretary, was an expert shorthand writer and the author of a system of stenography. Cf. Intr. 57.

haec dictavi ambulans: no better proof could be required that Cicero did not intend his letters for publication than the fact that many of them were composed while on a journey, or just as the vessel is weighing anchor, between the courses at dinner, or while the messenger is impatiently standing behind him with cloak and hat on. Cf. Ep. LXX.1. To his brother, who had complained of the illegibility of his letters, he writes: sed hoc facio semper, ut quicumque calamus in manus meas venerit, eo sic utar tam quam bono, 2.14.1. Cf. also ante lucem, Ep. XVI. 7 and Intr. 64.

Sampsiceramum: a nickname several times applied to Pompey (cf. Att. 2.17. i). Sampsiceramus was the petty ruler of Emesa, which Pompey had conquered. Elsewhere (Att. 2.17.3) Pompey is alluded to as Arabarches, the despot of eastern Egypt, or Hierosolymarius, 'the Jerusalemite' (Att. 2.9. i) from his capture of Jerusalem. The application of these nicknames to Pompey suggests that after his return from the East, he assumed an arrogant and autocratic manner more befitting a petty eastern despot than a Roman citizen. The very sound of the nicknames would also suggest his pompous manner.

ex quo decidit: cf. quia deciderat ex astris, Att. 2.21.4.

medicinam ... quaerere: a favorite metaphor, not only with Cicero but with other Roman writers; developed at great length, for instance, by Servius Sulpicius in Ep. LXXV. 5. Cf. also Intr. 99.

desiderio versamur: i.e. I am haunted by a painful remembrance of my past achievements.

βοώπιδος: cf. Ep. VIII.5n.

nostrae: cf. noster, Ep. VII.4n. Clodia had at one time hoped to attract Cicero by her charms, and her hatred of him was partly due to the failure of her efforts.

Si comitus (esse Romae) non potueris: the elections were to take place Oct. iS (cf. Att. 2.20.6), but the tribunes did not enter on the duties of their office until December 10. Cicero's urgent requests for the presence of Atticus would seem to have been successful, as there is a break in the correspondence between the two men from November, 59, to March, 58, during which time Atticus was doubtless in Rome. The correspondence of the year 59 B.C. reveals the utter helplessness of the senatorial party to cope with the triumvirs. The former were without a 'platform' and without leaders. The petulant opposition of Bibulus and the tactless obstinacy of Cato excited only ridicule and anger. These letters as a whole disclose also Cicero's lack of political insight in failing utterly to appreciate the strength of the Triumvirate, and in failing to see up to the last moment the danger of his own position (cf. also Intr. 14). In striking contrast to the letters of this year are those written six months later.

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59 BC (2)
hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (6):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.17
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.17.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.20.6
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.21.4
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.9
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.14.1
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