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Letter LXXX: ad familiares 9.8

Tusculum, July 11 or 12, 45 B.C. On Varro, cf. Ep. LX. introd. note.

promissi tui: Varro had promised, as early as 47 B.C. , to dedicate one of his works to Cicero; cf. Att. 13.12.3Varro mihi denuntiaverat magnam sane et gravem προσφώνησιν”; but in 45 Cicero writes impatiently (Att. 13.12.3): biennium praeteriit, cum ille Καλλιπίδης assiduo cursu cubitum nullum processerit. Ultimately Varro's work de Lingua Latina appeared, between 45 and 43 B.C. , of which twenty books were dedicated to Cicero.

quattuor admonitores: the four books of the Academica. These books, at the suggestion of Atticus, were dedicated to Varro. Cf. Att. 13.19. Cicero hoped that this might stimulate Varro to the performance of his promised work.

os, effrontery; a colloquial word. Cf. Plaut. M. G. 189os habet linguam perfidiam”; Ter. Eun. 806os durum!” (you brazenface!). Varro was not an adherent of the New Academy.

qui ... flagitent: although these admonitores have been directed to make only a request of Varro, such is the boldness of all that comes from the adulescentior Academia, Cicero fears it may be a demand.

exspectabam: cf. Cic. Acad. 1.2 inquit ille1 ... ‘sed habeo opus magnum in manibus idque iam pridem; ad hunc enim ipsum’ -- me autem dicebat - ‘quaedam institui, quae et sunt magna sane et limantur a me politius.’ Et ego, ‘ista quidem,’ inquam, ‘Varro, iam diu exspectans non audeo tamen flagitare; audivi enim e Libone nostro, cuius nosti studium -- nihil enim eum eius modi celare possumus, -- non te ea intermittere, sed accuratius tractare nec de manibus umquam deponere.’

me sustinebam: sc. in my desire to write to you.

coniunctionem ... nostri: cf. Cicero's remark upon Varro in Acad. 1.1 hominem nobiscum et studiis iisdem et vetustate amicitiae coniunctum.

in Cumano: the dialogue is supposed to have taken place in Varro's villa at Cumae; cf. Acad. 1.1.

Pomponius: i.e. Atticus.

partis Antiochinas: Cicero composed the Academica at first in two books, with Q. Lutatius Catulus for the principal speaker in the first, and L. Licinius Lucullus in the second. When he learned from Atticus that Varro wished to have a work dedicated to him, he reconstructed the Academica, divided it into four books, and dedicated the whole work to Varro, making him a mouthpiece for the opinions of Antiochus of Ascalon. Cf. Att. 13.19.3; Att. 13.12.3; Att. 13.25.3. Antiochus, a pupil but not a follower of Philo, sought to harmonize Academic with Stoic and Peripatetic teaching.

Philonis: Philo, the head of the Academy, fled in 88 B.C. from Athens to Rome, where Cicero attended his lectures; cf. Brut. 306 cum princeps Academiae Philo ... Romam venisset, totum ei me tradidi admirabili quodam ad philosophiam studio concitatus, in quo hoc etiam commorabar attentius, quod etsi rerum ipsarum varietas et magnitudo summa me delectatione retinebat, tamen sublata jam esse in perpetuum ratio iudiciorum videbatur.

si videtur: cf. si tibi videtur, Ep. LXXV.4n.

inter nos: sc. loquemur.

superiorum temporum, etc.: the state of public affairs might justify their literary inactivity in the past, but, since they would have no share in politics in the future, they would not be kept from the pursuit of literature. Literary work would in fact be their only feasible occupation, and failure to engage in it would be a dereliction of duty.

haec2 ... debemus, the responsibility for the present (lit. times like these) rests with us.

aliquo ... certo statu civitatis: a government conducted upon some fixed constitutional principles at least.

vel = etiam.

darent: apodosis to the condition in tum.

cum his ipsis (studiis) vix: sc. est cur vivere velim.

migrationem: sc. into a house lately bought.

feliciter evenire: a formula often used in wishing for the happy outcome of a new enterprise; cf. Cic. pro Mur. 1, and Plaut. Trin. 40uxor, venerare ut nobis haec habitatio bona fausta felix fortunataque evenat”. See also Ep. XC.7n.

1 i.e. Varro

2 sc. tempora

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hide References (10 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (10):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 13.12.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 13.19
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 13.19.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 13.25.3
    • Cicero, For Lucius Murena, 1
    • Plautus, Trinummus, 1.2
    • Plautus, Miles Gloriosus, 2.2
    • Terence, The Eunuch, 4.7
    • Cicero, Academica, 1
    • Cicero, Academica, 2
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