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Letter X: ad Atticum 3.4

Vibo, about April 12,58 B.C. The letters of this third book, ad Att., written in exile, expose perhaps more than any other portion of his correspondence, the weak side of Cicero's character. He is unmanly, selfish, and ungrateful. In contrast the letters of 44 and 43 B.C. breathe a spirit of unfailing courage and unselfish patriotism. It is only when two such epochs in Cicero's life are placed side by side that the reader can discover the true key to his character, which is to be found in the fact that he was peculiariy sensitive to his surroundings, and was exalted or depressed by circumstances which would have had no abiding influence upon a more phlegmatic nature (cf. Intr. 50). Without waiting to see what action would be taken upon the bill of Clodius, which did not mention him by name (qui civem Romanum indemnatum interemisset, ei aqua et igni interdiceretur, Vell. Paterc. 2.45), Cicero left Rome about March 20, 58 B.C. , and went to his friend Sica, near Vibo. Here news reached him of the amended bill directed against him personally. He therefore hastily left Vibo for Tarentum and Brundisium. See Intr. 15 f.

quo te arcessebamus: inAtt. 3.3.

rogatio: cf. Ep. V.2n. The rogatio in this case read as follows: velitis iubeatis ut M. Tullio aqua et igni interdictum sit; cf. Cic. de Domo, 47.

correctum: the amended bill forbade Cicero to remain at any point within 400 miles of Italy. After a bill had been brought forward an interval of 17 days, a trinundinum (cf. Herzog, 1.1092, n. 2; see, however, Momm. St. N. 111.376, n. I) was allowed to elapse before a vote was taken upon it, during which time it could be modified.

illo: to Sicily or Malta.

rogationis: sc. ferendae.

ne et: carelessly used for et ne, as the force of ne does not extend to the second of the two correlative clauses.

ne ... periret: those who should harbor an exile within the prescribed limits made themselves liable to a severe penalty.

Melitae: Malta was within the 40 0-mile limit.

mi Pomponi: Cicero rarely addresses his correspondent by name in a letter. In the 397 letters to Atticus, Atticus is addressed by name only 28 times: mi Attice nineteen times, mi Tite once, and mi T Pomponi once, otherwise as in this letter. The omission of the praenomen, as Tyrrell remarks, indicated intimacy; cf. quod sine praenomine familiariter, at debebas, ad me epistulam misisti, etc., Fam. 7.32.1. The polite order was mi Pomponi, and Cicero deviates from this order but once, when in a jesting letter he addresses a friend, Testa mi. Cf. also Cicero mi, Curius, Fam. 7.29.1. In general, the possessive pronoun indicates informality.

paenitet vivere, qua in re ... valuisti: Cicero seems to have contemplated suicide. Cf. Att. 3.7.2, first sentence, and Att. 3.3 utinam ilIum diem videam, cum tibi agam gratias quod me vivere coigisti l adhuc quidem valde me paenitet.

coram: cf. Intr. 95.

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58 BC (2)
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  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 7.29.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 7.32.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 3.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 3.7.2
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