Letter XXXI: ad familiares 8.1Rome, about May 24, 51 B.C. M. Caelius Rufus was born about 85 B.C. , and came to Rome when fifteen or sixteen years of age to study law and politics. He sympathized with Catiline, but took no active part in the conspiracy. In 52 B.C. as tribune he vigorously supported the aristocratic cause, but in later life he went over to Caesar. In 51 B.C. , when his letters to Cicero begin, Caelius was a candidate for the curule aedileship. In January, 49, he opposed the senate, and fled with Curio to Caesar's camp. Disappointed with the 'spoils' which fell to his share, he joined Milo in an uprising in southern Italy, and was put to death by Caesar's troops in 48 B.C. In the social world his intimacy with Clodia (Ep. VIII.5) gave him great notoriety. The wit and beauty of Caelius attracted this “Palatine Medea,” and the banquets and revels at Rome and Baiae, in which Caelius and Clodia were the central figures, were the talk of Rome. At last they quarrelled, and many of the difficulties in which Caelius was subsequently involved could be traced directly to her, in one of which, a charge of murder, Cicero delivered in his defense the Or. pro Caelio. It was natural that Cicero, when setting out for a distant province at so critical a moment, should choose in preference to all others a man so familiar with the ins and outs of politics and society, to keep him informed of the course of events at Rome. The letters of Bk. 8, ad Fam. are not only of great interest on account of their intrinsic literary and historical value, but they offer sufficient material upon which to base a comparison between the epistolary style of Cicero and that of one of his contemporaries.
discedens: Caelius accompanied Cicero part of the way from Rome to Brundisium. See Cumarum tenus, 2n. diligentissime perscripturum: cf. Intr. 77. paravi ... persequeretur: Caelius had evidently employed a reporter to collect news, probably a certain Chrestus. Cf. Ep. XXX III. 1. peregrinantibus gratum: so eager for news were the Romans in the provinces that certain persons in Rome drove a thriving trade by sending them reports of the news of the day. In 59 B.C. their task was lightened by the law of Caesar requiring the doings in the senate and the courts and in the field, together with some events of a private character, to be published officially in the Acta diurna, which were copied and sent in great numbers to the provinces. Cf. Fam. 12.23.2 rerum urbanarum acta tibi mitti certo scio. Cf. also Att. 3.15.6; 6.2.6; Mommsen, St. R. 3.1017 f. meum hoc officium, this method of keeping my promise. volumen: the document of Chrestus apparently took the form of a diary of political happenings. Cf. senatus consulta edicta, etc., below. In Fam. 8.11.4 Caelius calls it a commentarium rerum urbanarum. edicta: sc. consultim et praetorum (Manutius). delectarit : cf. Intr. 82.
existimatio: in this one paragraph there are five substantives in -tio. Cf. Intr. 75. ut nunc est: a colloquial expression. Cf. Fam. 8.4.2 and Hor. Sat. 1.9.5. nulla magnopere exspectatio, there is nothing in particular expected. Magnopere with an adj. (here nulla) is rare in classical usage. Cf. magnopere nemo, Ep. XI. 4. de comitiis Transpadanorum: it was said that Caesar had ordered the Transpadanes to elect quattuorviri (Att. 5.2.3). By such action their towns would become municipia. The rumor anticipated Caesar's action by a year and a half. Cf. Marq. Röm. Staatsverwaltung, 1.62,n.3 Cumarum tenus: Caelius found the rumor comnion until he passed Cumae on his return, but on reaching Rome the report was heard nowhere. caluerunt : on the metaphor, cf. Intr. 99. de successione ... Galliarum: M. Marcellus, the consul, proposed to bring in a bill appointing a successor to Caesar. sane quam : this expression occurs five times in the 17 letters of Caelius, and but four times in the other 853 letters of Cicero's correspondence. Brix, in his note upon nimis quam cupio (Plaut. Capt. 102), says : 'nimis quam cupio, the fusion of two expressions, nimis cupio and quam cupio.' In a similar way sane quam, valde quam and perquam are to be explained. eos sermones expressit, he has revived that gossip; reference is made to the dilatory course of Marcellus. If we read eos sermones repressit, he has put an end to the stories, as some prefer, the reference is to the proposal to displace Caesar; but Cf. nuntii varios sermones excitarunt, Fam. 8.10.2.
Pompeium: Cicero met Pompey near Tarentum. Cf. Att. 5.7.
quod ad Caesarem: sc. attinet; a favorite phrase with Caelius, who uses it five times in his letters, while de with abl. (cf. Intr. 91) occurs four times. belli: cf. Ep. XXIV.2n. susurratores: probably coined by Caelius. It is apparently found elsewhere only in the Vulgate translation of the Bible. Cf. also Intr. 74. equitem : for equites. opinor: this unusual parenthetical use of opinor, like that of puto (e.g. in theatrum Curionis Hortensius introiit, puto, ut suum gaudium gauderemus, Fam. 8.2.1), belongs to the language of conversation. Cf. Intr. 86. septimam ... vapulasse: this rumor was apparently without foundation; cf. Caes. B. G. 6.8.8. vapulasse,has been whipped. For a similar metaphorical use, cf. Ep. XCIII.1 verberavi te, etc. Vapulare and verberare are frequent in comedy, both in a literal and in a metaphorical sense. Cf. Plaut. Stich. 751; Pseud. 15. In a literal sense they are used of the flogging of slaves. Their use in other connections, therefore, carries with it, as here, a comic force. apud Beluacos: Caesar in 51 B.C. engaged in a war with these people; cf. Caes. B. G. 6.8.6 ff. His position was in point of fact at this time a perilous one; cf. Caes. B. G. 6.8.11 f. quos tu nosti: sc. Caesar's enemies. palam secreto: cf. Intr. 94. Domitius: sc. haec narrat. On Domitius, cf. Ep. I.3n. cum manus ad os apposuit: probably a proverbial expression signifying, with the greatest air of mystery; or does it mean that he uses his hands for a trumpet —'from the housetops,' as we say? subrostrani: the loungers about the rostra. The word occurs only here. Plautus calls the same class of people “subbasilicani,” Plaut. Capt. 815. quod illorum capiti sit, may it be the death of the rascals themselves. Perhaps capiti is the locative or dative of the end; cf. Draeg. Hist. Syn. 1.2 427. So Ter. Phor. 491 metuo lenonem nequid ... (Ge.) suo suat capiti? See also Cic. Att. 8.5.1. For the phrase, cf. Otto, Die Sprichwörter der Römer, p.75. dissiparant: sc. sermones. Q. Pompeio: a friend of Clodius and enemy of Cicero, living now in exile. embaeneticam : the word which Caelius used is hopelessly lost. The meaning is that Q. Pompeius has been reduced to such a degree that he has been obliged to take up with some mean employment. See Crit. Append. defungeremur: sc. iis periculis. Plancus tuus, your friend Plancus. Cf. noster, Ep. VII.4n. T. Munatius Plancus, an enemy of Cicero, also living in banishment. Ravennaest: the MSS. of Cicero's Letters offer several undoubted instances of crasis, e.g. Navennaest (= Ravennae est) here, neglegentiast (Fam. 8.3.1), commentariost (Fam. 8.11.4), stomachost (Fam. 8.13.2). All the instances cited here are in the letters of Caelius, and harmonize perfectly with the Plautine tone of his correspondence. Cf. also benest (Balbus, Att. 9.7B.1 and Fam. 14.15 = Ep. LVIII.). tui politici libri omnibus vigent, your work on civil government is well received on all sides. The de Re Publica is meant. Cf. Ep. XXIII.