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Letter XXXIV: ad familiares 15.4

Cilicia, close of 51 B.C. or early part of 50 B.C. Cicero, having Completed a successful Campaign against the independent mountaineers of his province, wrote this letter to secure Cato's support to his request for a supplicatio. Understanding the blunt and frank nature of his correspondent, he affects a similar style, and presents the facts without comment, but with much skill in bringing his best achievements into the foreground, and in making it appear that the retreat of the Parthians was due to their dread of his prowess. The letter presents a side of Cicero's life which is brought out nowhere else. It has also many points of resemblance to Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War. The first part of it is essentially a military report without embellishment, addressed, it is true, to Cato, but to all intents and purposes an 'open letter.' So Caesar's Commentaries are a soldier's diary, intended for the eye of the Roman people. In these two documents, therefore, a comparison may fairiy be made between the styles of the two men. Cicero's campaign is also described at some length inAtt. 5.20; Fam. 2.10; and in two letters to the senate, Fam. 15.1 and 2. For Cato's reply to this letter, cf. Ep. XXXVII.

Laodiceae: for Cicero's itinerary to Athens, cf. Epp. XXX, XXXII., introd. notes. He set out from the Piraeus July 6, reached Ceos July 8, Gyarus July 9, Syrus July 10, Delos July 11, Ephesus July 22, and, after a halt of 4 days in that city, Tralles July 27, and Laodicea July 31. Cf. Att. 5.12.1; 5.13.1; Fam. 3.5.1; Att. 5.15.1.

acerbissimis tributis : Cicero's letters from Cilicia show the nature of these demands; e.g. the towns in Cilicia, already hopelessly in debt, were required at great expense to send envoys to Rome to thank the senate for the beneficent government of the monster Appius (Fam. 3.8.2 f). Caelius had the hardihood to ask Cicero to levy a tax upon the provincials to pay for the games which he was to give at Rome as a candidate for the aedileship (Ep. XXXV. 21).

gravissimis usuris : cf. Intr. 23.

falso aere alieno, from a debt fraudulently charged against them. Cicero relates inAtt. 5.21.12 a flagrant instance of the kind, where a money-lender, Scaptius by name, a financial agent of M. Brutus (Att. 5.21.10), tried to extort 200 talents from the people of Salamis in Cyprus, who owed him only 106.

M. Anneio legato: cf. 8 n.

apud Iconium: apud with the acc. for the locative or in with the abl. is archaic; cf. e.g. apud aedem Duelonai in the senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus. The expression is here used as a set form of speech for a military report; cf. apud Issum, Fam. 2.10.3. It is also preserved with certain words in colloquial Latin. In this case, as in many others, colloquial Latin and official Latin preserved forms of expression after they had disappeared elsewhere, as colloquial and official (especially legal) English preserve certain otherwise obsolete phrases. Silver Latin, straining after novelties, brought this, as well as many other archaisms, into use again; cf. Nipperdey on Tac. Ann. 1.5; Rönsch, Itala u. Vulgata, 391. See also ut ne Ep. XXX.1n.

a. d. VII K. Sept.: Aug 24. Under the pre-Julian calendar August had 29 days.

evocatorum: veterans who had served their time, but might be called upon for volunteer service, enjoying therein certain privileges.

auxilia: usually light-armed troops.

exercitu lustrato: Cicero had 14,000 men; cf. Att. 5.18.2; 6.1.14.

rege Commageno: Antiochus, king of Commagene, a district on the northern border of Syria.

pertumultuose: although the regular superiative form tumultuosissime is used in his orations, e.g. in Verr. 2.2. 37, here Cicero prefers the colloquial form with per-. Similarly in the Letters Cicero uses the intensive forms peracer, peramans, and perlubens, while in his other writings only the regular superiative forms are used to indicate the possession of a quality in a very high degree. Cf. also Intr. 77.

neque non vere, and not without justification.

nec ... quicquam: cf. similar use of nihil for nemo, Ep. XXV. 4.

apud oppidum: cf. apud Iconium, 2 n

nova finitimorum consilia: the intentions of Artavasdes, the king of Armenia, were a matter of doubt; cf. Fam. 15.2.2.

rex Deiotarus : Cicero defended him in 45 B.C. against the charge of planning to murder Caesar.

fide, etc.: cf. Cic. Phil. 2.34 quid de Cn. Pompeio loquar? qui unum Deiotarum in toto orbe terrarum ex animo amicam vereque benevolum, unum fidelem populo Romano iudisavit.

se ... venturum: upon the omission of the verb of saying, cf. Intr. 95.

cuius salutem, etc.: the disclosure in this letter of the relations which existed between Rome and Ariobarzanes, throws a sidelight upon the attitude which the Roman Republic assumed toward her provinces. Ariobarzanes, being harassed by plots within and wars without his kingdom, sought protection from Rome, and became thereby deeply involved in debt to Pompey and M. Brutus (cf. Att. 6.1.3). Knowing that the deposition of Ariobarzanes would mean the loss of their money, Pompey and Brutus secured a decree of the senate through the influence of Cato, the uncle of Brutus (te auctore), to the effect that Cicero should maintain him upon his throne.

praesentibus insidus: Athenais, the mother of Ariobarzanes, had plotted with Archelaus, the priest of the temple of Bellona at Comana, to depose her son. In pursuance of their plans, Metras and Athenaeus, the ministers of the king, had been banished; cf. also Fam. 15.2.4, 8.

adulescens: in apposition with sacerdos.

et totus iis: cf. tota tibi est puella, Tib. 4.6.3.

occidione occisum: the figura etymologica, i.e. the bringing together of two words from the same stem, which are closely connected logically and grammatically, was a favorite device in colloquial Latin. Cf. e.g. from Plaut. Pseud. 13:misere miser”; “ludo ludere,24; “cursim currere,358; “condimentis condire,820. The same figure is common in the Letters, e.g. solacio consolamur, Att. 4.6.1; facile facies, Fam. 3.9.1; amavi amorem tuum, Ep. LXI.1; ut suum gaudium gauderemus, Cael., Fam. 8.2.1. See also copias occidione occiderit, Phil. 14.36.

quo ... recessisse : the writer skilfully conveys the impression that the retreat of the Parthians was the result of his own action. Cf. also the first part of this section. A perusal of the letter, indeed, fails to reveal the fact that any one else than Cicero was acting against the Parthians. In reality the scene of the struggle lay entirely outside of Cicero's province. The Parthians, emboldened by the defeat of Crassus, began just before this time to threaten Syria. The proquaestor C. Cassius checked their advance upon Antioch, defeated them in a pitched battle, and forced them to retreat in disorder. In a similar vein Cicero writes to Atticus: rumore adventus nostri et Cassio, qui Antiochia tentbatur, animus accessit et Parthis timor iniectus est. Itaque tos cedentes ab oppido Cassius insecutus rem bene gessit, Att. 5.20.3.

Bibulum: Bibulus, who had been consul in 59 B.C. , was proconsul of Syria.

apud Epiphaneam: cf. apud Iconium, 2 n.

Quintus ... legati: usually there was one legatus to a legion, but Cicero had four for his two legions.

repugnantibus: sc. iis. The omission of the subject is so remarkable that Baiter and Wesenberg would read repugnantes or insert hostibus.

Aras Alexandri: the place took its name from the three altars which Alexander had consecrated to Jupiter, Hercules, and Minerva; cf. Q. Curt. 3.33.

viniis: a parallel form for vaneis.

quinquagensimo : cf. quadragensimum, Ep. XC.1n.

pari scelere: their crime would seem to have been their independence. No other charge is made against them.

Pindenisso capto: Cicero understands how his metropolitan friends will take the news of his victory over these petty mountaineers, whose name, even, was not known to the average Roman; cf. Att. 5.20.1 Saturnalibus mane se mihi Pindenissitae dediderunt septimo et quinquagesimo die postquam oppugnare eos coepimus. 'Qui, malum ! isti Pindenissitae, qui sunt?' inquies, nomen audivi numquam.' Quid ego faciam? num potui Ciliciam Aetoliam aut Macedoniam reddere?

a me: for mihi, to secure the contrast with te.

ad caelum extulisti: it was Cato who bestowed upon Cicero the title “pater patriae” in 63 B.C.

cuidam clarissimo: P. Cornelius Lentulus Spinther, one of Cicero's predecessors in Cilicia. He had secured a triumph in 51 B.C. ; cf. Att. 5.21.4.

decerneres: a shorter expression for decernendam censeres.

ob eas res: his efforts to secure Cicero's recall from banishment in 57 B.C.

non ut multis, etc.: cf. in Cat. 4.20.

inimicum meum: with special reference to Clodius.

Milonis causa, etc. : cf. Ascon. in Mil. p.53 fuerunt qui crederent M. Catonis sententia eam esse absolutum, nam ... et studebat in petitione consalatus Miloni et reo adfuerat.

orationibus: e.g. pro Mur. 54 M. Cato, homo in omni virtute excellens; pro Sest. 12 M. Cato, fortissimus atque optimus civis; pro Mur. 61 in M. Catone, iudices, haec bona quae videmus divina et egregia, ipsius scitote esse propria. While respecting the uprightness of Cato, Cicero considered him lacking in tact and judgment; cf. e.g. Att. 1.18.7 carat (rem publicam) constantia magis et integritate ... quam consilio aut ingenio Cato.

Graecis Latinis: cf. Intr. 94.

honoris a senatu: the connection of two substantives by a preposition is especially frequent in the case of a; cf. Antibarbarus, I. p.38. For the construction in general, see Reisig-Schmalz, Lat. Syn. note 512.

provinciam ornatam: cf. de ornandi e praetoribus, Ep. XVI.1n. Macedonia fell to Cicero by lot, and Cisalpine Gaul to C. Antonius. To secure the support of Antonius, Cicero exchanged provinces with him, and afterward declined Cisalpine Gaul. For another statement of his feelings with reference to a province, cf. contra voluntatem, Ep. XXIX.1n.

sacerdotium: the augurate. But Cicero writes to Atticus, 59 B.C. : de istis rebus exspecto tuas litteras ... cuinam auguratus deferatar, quo quidem uno ego ab istis capi possum, Att. 2.5.2. He was elected a member of the college of augurs in 53 B.C.

iniuriam : one of Cicero's euphemisms for exsilium.

meam calamitatem: sc. his exile.

eum honorem qui ... solet: the nearest approach to a definite statement of his wish for a supplicatio. Such a statement he purposely avoids.

paulo ante: in 11.

hoc nescio quid: a phrase of modesty; cf. 13.

mores, instituta, atque vitam: when in Cicero three or more substantives follow one another, no connective is used, or a connective is used with each pair of substantives, or the members of the last pair only are connected, in which case que is commonly employed.

Cyprus insula: Cyprus had been taken from the Ptolemies by Cato in 58 B.C. , and henceforth he was its patronus. It was part of Cicero's province.

Cappadociae regnum : cf. cuius salutem, etc., 6. For Cicero's services to Ariobarzanes, cf. 6; for his services to Cyprus, cf. falso, 2 n. 16.

philosophiam veram: Cicero, in so far as ethics was concerned, was, like Cato, a Stoic.

quae ... videtur: the innate prejudice of the Romans against what Cicero elsewhere (Att. 2.16.3) calls θεωρετικὸς βίος was very strong.

a Catone: for a similar effective use of the proper noun for the pronoun, cf. Fam. 2.4.1 quid est quod possit graviter a Cicerone scribi ad Curionem (instead of a me scribi ad te) ?

ex meis litteris: i.e. on the basis of the facts stated in this letter and in Fam. 15.1 and 2, addressed to the senate. For litterae of more than one letter, cf. Ep. XCIX.1n.

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hide References (35 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (35):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 15.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 15.2.2
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 15.2.4
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 2.10
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 2.10.3
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 2.4.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 3.5.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 3.8.2
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 3.9.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 8.2.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.18.7
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.16.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.5.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 4.6.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.12.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.15.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.18.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.20
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.20.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.20.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.21.10
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.21.12
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 5.21.4
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 6.1.3
    • Cicero, Against Catiline, 4.20
    • Cicero, Philippics, 14.36
    • Cicero, Philippics, 2.34
    • Cicero, Against Verres, 2.2.37
    • Cicero, For Lucius Murena, 54
    • Cicero, For Lucius Murena, 61
    • Cicero, For Sestius, 12
    • Plautus, Pseudolus, 1.1
    • Plautus, Pseudolus, 1.3
    • Plautus, Pseudolus, 3.2
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.5
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