Letter LXX: ad familiares 15.17Rome, about the close of Dec., 46 B.C. On Cassius, cf. Ep. LXXXVI. introd. note.
praeposteros, unreasonable. petasati: on journeys, especially in hot countries, the Romans wore broad-brimmed hats (petasi or causiae). Thus of the Sycophanta in the Trinummus, who is supposed to have just arrived from Seleucia, Charmides says (Trin. 851): pol hic quidem fungino generest: capite se totum tegit. Harpax, who is to impersonate a messenger from abroad, is provided with a chlamys, a machaera, and a petasus (Pseud. 735). Perhaps, however, Cicero means that Cassius's messengers are always on the move, like Mercury, who wore the petasus. ignosces: Cf. Intr. 84b. alteras, etc., this second letter from me will be short.
P. Sullam patrem: P. Cornelius Sulla, in whose defense against the charge of having taken part in the Catilinarian conspiracy Cicero delivered the oration Pro Sulla in 62 B.C. habebamus: cf. sic habeto, Ep. XXVI.1n. populus, etc.: i.e. the people do not care (to know how he died), as long as they know he is dead. There is probably, as Reid suggests, a double meaning in combustum. Comburere is used literally of burning a man's body upon a funeral pyre, as inAtt. 14.10.1, and figuratively of roasting a man in the courts, as our slang phrase has it. Cf. Q. fr. 1.2.6 deinde rogas Fabium ut et patrem et filium vivos comburat, si possit; si minus, ad te mittat uti iudicio comburantur. hoc tu, etc.: Cassius replied (Fam. 15.19.3) cuius (i.e. Sullae) ego mortem forti mercules animo tuli. πρόσωπον πόλεως, a familiar face in the city. ne hasta refrixisset: a hasta stuck in the ground was the sign of an auction. Sulla gained possession at such sales of many estates confiscated by Caesar; cf. Fam. 15.19.3 Sulla ... omnia bona coemit. This fact caused his unpopularity. Cicero speaks of his death in the same way in writing to Dolabella (Fam. 9.10.3): ego cetero qui animo aequo fero; unum vereor ne hasta Caesaris refrixerit. Upon refrixisset, cf. Intr. 99. Mindius ... perdidisse: the butcher Mindius and the perfumer Attius have now no competitor at auction sales.
de Hispania: upon de, cf. Intr. 91. Caesar went to Spain (cf. Bell. Hisp. 2) in Nov., 46 B.C. , and the battle of Munda took place Mar. 17, 45 B.C. , i.e. only a few months after this letter was written. The difficulties in which Caesar was involved, and the imminence of the decisive contest, were doubtless known at Rome. Pansa: C. Vibius Pansa, the colleague of Hirtius in the consulship in 43 B.C. He had set out to join Caesar in Spain; cf. Schmidt, Briefw. 272. paludatus: of a soldier, as togatus is used of a civilian. The paludamentum was the cloak of a commander, the sagum the cloak of a common soldier. nuper: Cassius had lately become an Epicurean; cf. Fam. 15.16.1. τὸ καλὸν δι᾽ αὑτὸ αἱρετόν: a Stoic doctrine which the Epicureans rejected. Cassius's analysis of Pansa's conduct is: Pansa, qui ἡδονὴν sequitur, virtutem retinet, Fam. 15.19.3. si ἀκενόσπουδος fueris: the Epicureans discouraged an active participation in politics, and Cicero, perhaps ironically, approves of the consistency with which Cassius puts into practice his new faith by remaining at Brundisium, remote from dangers and annoyances, while Pansa had unwisely stayed in Rome, the center of political action, and given himself annoyance by relieving the distress of the unfortunate Pompeians.