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Letter XV: ad Atticum 4.1

Rome, Sept., 57 B.C. Cicero landed at Brundisium Aug. 5, 57 B.C. , after an absence of 16 months (Plut. Cic. 33). He entered Rome Sept. 4, delivered the Oratio post Reditum in the senate Sept. 5, and directly afterwards addressed the people (cf. 5 of this letter); Sept. 7 he proposed a bill in the senate putting Pompey in charge of the corn commission, and after the adjournment of the senate advocated the bill before the people (6). It became a law Sept. 8 (7).


recte, with safety.

tibi absenti: Atticus was in Epirus.

cognoram enim: the reason for the congratulation, which is the main thought, is contained in the second infinitive clause, eundem te ... contulisse; the first infinitive clause, te ... diligentem, which is concessive, and therefore logically subordinate, is in a free way made codrdinate with the other.

nec fortiorem, etc.: inAtt. 3. I 5.4 also Cicero reproaches Atticus for a lack of wisdom and bravery: sedtu tantum lacrimas praebuisti dolori meo. Cf. tam timidi, Ep. XIII.1n.

nec nimium diligentem: this means in formal Latin, 'not too active,' but here it means, 'not very active,' without any idea of excess, or, as we say, 'none too active.' This use of nimium, nimio, and nimis is frequent in colloquial Latin. Cf. homo nimium lepidus, 'a very charming man' (not 'too charming a man'), Plaut. Mil. 998; locos nimium mirabilis, 'exceedingly strange places,' Trin. 93'; illud non nimium probo, 'I don't particularly approve of it,' Cic. Fam. 12.30.7. Cf. also Intr. 90.

erroris nostri: in assuming that the first bill of Clodius, which did not mention Cicero by name, was directed against him, and in confessing thereby its applicability to him. Cf. Ep. X., introd. note.

plurimum operae, etc.: during Cicero's exile Atticus not only made the best use of his wide acquaintance with politicians of all factions to secure Cicero's recall (cf., e.g., Metello, Ep. XIV. 2 B), but also aided Cicero's family, which was in financial straits (Ep. XIII.).


quem: antecedent in tuum.

dimisero: in eariy Latin the fut. peif. did not involve the idea of completion before the occurrence of another event (cf. F. Cramer, Arch. f. lat. Lex. IV. 594-598), so that Plautus writes, “huc aliquantum abscessero,Trin. 625; “immo alium potius misero,Capt. 341. In the later period the distinction between the fut. and fut. perf. was introduced into formal Latin, but was not always observed in colloquial Latin; cf. Cic. Att. 3.19.1 nusquam facilius hanc miserrimam vitam vel sustentabo vel, quod multo est melius, abiecero.


forensem: i.e. as a lawyer.

optamus: he fears his position may excite envy.

in re autem familiari : Cicero's house upon the Palatine had been destroyed, his villas plundered, and the rest of his property had been so badly managed by Terentia and her dishonest steward Philotimus that he found himself neariy bankrupt on his return. He was even forced to put up his Tusculan villa for sale; cf. Att. 4.2.7.

fracta, etc.: for the metaphor, cf. contraxi vela, Ep. V.2n.


Tulliola: cf. pulchellus, Ep. V.10n.

coloniae: its establishment as a colonia dated from 245 B.C. Cf. Müller's Handbuch, 111.475.

Salutis: for the erection and decoration of the temple of Salus, see Livy, 10.1, Pliny, N. H. 35.19, and Val. Max. 8.14.6.

concursu Italiae: Cicero was more popular with the people of Italy than with the populace at Rome, and by a decree of the senate the former were urged to come to Rome to uphold his cause.

ornatus: used absolutely without the abl. of the thing, as in Fam. 1.1.3.

legati: delegates representing the towns on the Via Appia.


nomenclatori: the nomenclator stood at his master's elbow, and whispered in his ear the name and the calling of those whom his master met, and any fact of importance concerning them. For the valuable services which he rendered a candidate, cf. Hor. Ep. 1.6. 49-54.

ad portam Capenam: the Via Appia entered the city through the porta Capena, at the right of which was the temple of Honos and Virtus.

ab infimo, from top to bottom.

plebe : as Böckel remarks, Cicero wishes to emphasize the enthusiasm which the lower classes showed .

usque ad Capitolium: i.e. between the Palatine and Caelian, thence through the Forum, and up the Clivus to the Capitol.

senatui gratias egimus: in the Oratio post Reditum, though the authenticity of the extant oration bearing that title is sometimes questioned.


ad theatrum: to the temporary theatre where the ludi Romani were being held.

impulsu Clodi: Böckel shows by a quotation from Asconius that there had been scarcity at Rome for three months. Perhaps, however, the populace had been led by Cicero's friends to expect a return of prosperity upon his recall, and as they found that this result did not follow, there was a popular reaction against him, led by Clodius.

id ipse (sc. Pompeius) cuperet: in the latter part of 58 B.C. Pompey and Clodius had a violent quarrel, and were still at enmity with each other. Atticus might therefore have supposed that the position, which was to be offered to Pompey, since it was the result of the agitation led by Clodius, was distasteful to Pompey.

ut id decernerem, that I should advocate that course.

quod ... dicere: Cicero comments bitteriy upon the cowardice of the Optimates in an oration delivered a short time after this: at enim non nulli propter timorem, quod se in senatu tuto non esse arbitrabantur, discesserunt. Non reprehendo, nec quaero fueritne aliquid pertimescendum; puto sno quemque arbitratu timere oportere, de Domo, 8. The entire sentence beginning with eo biduo, with its rapid succession of temporal clauses, the rapidity of whose effect is heightened by the use of asyndeton, with its graphic description of the movements of the populace, is calculated to present the urgency of the popular demand in a forcible manner. Cicero seems to feel that his action in coming forward as the champion of a measure which would give Pompey extraordinary power, and thereby offend the Optimates, may appear unwise, and therefore calls for justification. Its unwisdom would consist in its tendency to estrange the Optimates at the moment when Cicero needed their help in getting indemnification for the loss of his house on the Palatine. It would also seem inconsistent with Cicero's political principles to advocate increasing the power of one of the triumvirs. Cicero strives to meet these two objections by presenting the urgency of the case and the fact, if we may accept it as a fact, that Pompey's appointment was favored by the Boni (verum etiam bonorum). Böckel acutely remarks that it may have been the purpose of Clodius to force Cicero to propose the grant of extraordinary powers, in order to compromise him in the eyes of the aristocracy and the pontifices. He certainly succeeded in putting him in a dilemma: to oppose the bill would have been to brave the wrath of the people and the enmity of Pompey, who had labored to secure his recall from exile; to favor the measure was to antagonize the aristocracy.

quod ... negarent: on the subj., cf. dicere: Ep. 1.3 B.

Messallam: M. Valerius Messalla Niger, consul in 61 B.C. He is highly praised by Cicero, inAtt. 1.14.6, for his integrity. Messalla and Afranius were supporters of Pompey. On Afranius, cf. Auli filius, Ep. V.12n.

eam rem: i.e. the procuring of corn.

meo nomine: Cicero had been a leading advocate of the bill, so that his name probably appeared in the list of those who put it into legal form; cf. note on legem conscripserunt below.

recitando: here, as frequently in Livy (e.g. 25.30. ~6) and occasionally in Tacitus, the ablative of the gerundive takes the place of the missing pres. part. pass.

praetorem: the praetor was Appius Claudius Pulcher, the brother of Clodius. Cf. Ep. VIII.2. The two tribunes, Sex. Atilius Serranus and Q. Numerius Rufus, had already opposed Cicero in other matters. Cf. Cic. pro Sest. 72, 94.

dederunt (sc. contionem): a contio was either an assembly of the people held to consider a question but not to vote upon it, or a speech delivered before such an assembly. Only a magistrate could give a private citizen the right of speaking in a contio, and the technical phrase for such permission was contionem dare or in contionem producere.


senatus frequens (sc. fuit): cf. frequentissimo senatu, Ep. VI.9n.

alterum se : cf. vide quam mihi persuaserim te me esse alterum, Ep. XXI. 1, and verus amicus est tanquam alter idem, Laet So.

legem ... conscripserunt: the senate voted upon a general proposition or upon a number of propositions laid before it. If a motion was adopted, it was written out in legal form, after its passage, by a committee containing the leading representatives of the party which had supported it. It contained, when thus drawn up, the title, the year, the day, the place of meeting, the name of the proposer and of those who witnessed the drawing up of the bill, and then the enacting clause or clauses, with sometimes an indication of the number present. For a senatus consultum in legal form, cf. Allen, Remnants of Early Latin, Nos. 82, 105; Cic. Fam. 8.8.5. Cf. also Willems, 2.206-216.-Messius: a tribune and a follower of Pompey; cf. Att. 8.11 v.2.

maius imperium in provinciis, etc.: the bill of Messius would have subordinated Caesar to Pompey.

consularis: because action was proposed by a consul, not by a tribune, as in the case of the other law.

Pompeius ... hanc: a good illustration of Pompey's political methods.

Favonio: a man of more energy than tact; an admirer and imitator of Cato. Although only a quaestor, the boldness with which he advocated the cause of the Optimates brought even the consulares to accept him as their leader. He was praetor when the Civil War opened, took Pompey's side, and was pardoned by Caesar after the battle of Pharsalus. He fought on the side of the liberatores in the battle of Philippi, and was put to death after the battle by the order of Octavius.

de domo nostra: cf. Ep. XIII.3n. Either the pontifices may decide that the consecration by Clodius was void (si sustulerint religionem), return the site to Cicero, and reimburse him for the loss of his house; or they may consider the consecration legal (sin aliter) and indemnify him for the loss of both house and grounds.


ut in secundis ... bonae: probably an iambic verse from an old poet. The quotation occurs, Att. 4.2.1, Ep. ad Brut. 1.10.2. Cf. Ribbeck, Trag. Röm. Frag. p. 274.

in re familiari: cf. note on 3 above.

quaedam domestica : the first reference in Cicero's letters to the trouble between himself and Terentia, which led eleven years later to a divorce. Cf. Att. 4.2.7 (written a month later) cetera, quae me sollicitant, μυστικώτερα sunt: amamur a fratre et a filia. The omission of Terentia's name here is very significant. The reference to domestic troubles immediately after a statement concerning the unsatisfactory condition of his property lends color to the hypothesis that the reckless management of Cicero's property by Terentia and her steward was one of the causes of the misunderstanding. Cf. Intr. 52.

quidam: the Optimates, whose sympathy, shown while he was in misfortune, had now given way to the same jealousy which they had evinced towards him in former years. Cf. voluntates nobilium, Ep. 1.2 n. They disapproved also of his political course after his return; cf. quod dicere, 6 n.


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hide References (15 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (15):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 1.1.3
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 8.8.5
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.14.6
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 3.19.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 4.2.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 4.2.7
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 8.11
    • Cicero, Letters to Brutus, 1.10.2
    • Cicero, For Sestius, 72
    • Plautus, Trinummus, 1.2
    • Plautus, Trinummus, 3.1
    • Plautus, Captivi, 2.2
    • Plautus, Miles Gloriosus, 4.2
    • Horace, Epistulae, 1.6
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