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Letter LXXVIII: ad familiares 4.12

Athens, May 31, 45 B.C. M. Claudius Marcellus, the consul of 51 B.C. , who had been living in banishment at Mytilene since the battle of Pharsalus, was recalled by the senate, with the consent of Caesar, towards the close of the year 46 B.C. The indifference which he felt concerning his recall is shown both by the coldness and brevity of his letter of acknowledgment to Cicero (Fam. 4.11), and by the fact that he did not set out for Rome until the middle of 45 B.C. On his way thither he was murdered at the Piraeus, as described in this letter, the style of which is terse and graphic.


non iucundissimum : instances of litotes are common in the Letters; cf. non minimum, non pessimum, non mediocriter, etc.

visum est faciendum: Landgraf, p. 327, notes that facere ut is a colloquial expression (cf. Fam. 10.17.3), while facere followed by the infin., as here, belongs to vulgar Latin; cf. Petron. 51 fecit Caesarem reporrigere.

navi: the regular form in early Latin. Nave appears first in Cicero's time. From Livy on nave is the common form.

collegam nostrum: probably in the augurate.

ab Athenis: cf. ab Aegina, Ep. LXXV.4n. Cf. also ab Epidauro, above, and ab Athenis, 2.

reliquam ... absolverem: before leaving his province he held the circuit courts, which it was part of a governor's duty to do.

supra Maleas: super is the common preposition in this sense.


P. Magio Cilone: certain persons at Rome suspected that Caesar had instigated the murder of Marcellus; but cf. Att. 13.10.3 hodie Spintherem exspecto; misit enim Brutus ad me; per litteras purgat Caesarem de interitu Marcelli, in quem, ne si insidiis quidem ille interfectus esset, caderet ulla suspicio, nunc vero, cum de Magio constet, nonne furor eius causam omnem sustinet? ... Quamquam nihil habeo quod dubitem, nisi ipsi Magio quae fuerit causa amentiae, pro quo quidem etiam sponsor factus erat. Nimirum id fuit; solvendo enim non erat: credo eum petiisse a Marcello aliquid, et illum, ut erat, constantius respondisse.

secundum aurem, directly behind the ear. This meaning of secundum is Plautine, and is found in no other writer of the classical period.

ipsum: to be joined with Magium.

e vestigio, forthwith.

eo: i.e. to the Piraeus.

codicillis: see Intr. 59.

diem suum obisse: euphemistic; cf. Ep. LXXV. 4.

inimici: Caesar is thought of especially.


ad tabernaculum eius: the Piraeus being in ruins (cf. Ep. LXXV. 4), travellers were obliged to camp in tents.

pauculos: Servius shows a fondness for the use of diminutives. Cf. muliercula, homunculus, and animula, Ep. LXXV.

metu: if a citizen was murdered by a slave, all the slaves of the household were liable to be put to death; cf. Tac. Ann. 14.42 Pedanium Secundum servus ipsius interfecit; ... ceterum cum vetere ex more familiam omnem, quae sub eodem tecto mansitaverat, ad supplicium agi oporteret, etc. Even when the murderer was not one of their number, the slaves had good reason to fear the severity of the law.

meis lecticariis: abl. of means.

pro ea copia, so far as the facilities (at Athens) allowed.

ut (darent): the position of ut in the middle of the clause lays emphasis upon the words which precede. Cf. Ep. XXX.1n .

quod ... dicerent: the subj., although not expressing a pretext but the real reason; cf. diceret, Ep. 1.3 n.

neque tamen, and after all ... not.

in quo vellemus gymnasio: there were three in Athens: Λύκειον, Κυνόσαργες, Ἀκαδημία.

orbi: locative.

iidem Athenienses: i.e. the same people who had declined to allow the ashes to be deposited within the city.

propinquitate: how Marcellus was related to Servius is unknown.

d. pr. K., etc.: cf. Intr. 62.


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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.17.3
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 4.11
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 13.10.3
    • Tacitus, Annales, 14.42
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