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Letter XC: ad familiares 16.21

Athens, July-Oct., 44 B.C. On young Marcus, cf. Intr. 54. The young man had been pursuing his studies at Athens for about a year and a half, but he was fonder of the pleasures of life than of study, and the reports which came to the father from Leonides (cf. Att. 14.16.3; Att. 15.16 A.), under whose special care he had been put, were so unfavorable that Cicero had considered the advisability of going to Athens to investigate the matter. In view of this alarming possibility, the young man wrote this letter to Cicero's confidential secretary, Tiro. This and Fam. 16.25 are the only letters extant from a rather large correspondence, known to the ancients, of the young Marcus with his father and with Tiro. Most of the stylistic peculiarities of the letter may be classified under the following categories: (1) extravagance of statement; (2) the use of Greek words; (3) a tendency to use certain expressions otherwise rarely found outside the writings of the elder Cicero; (4) colloquialisms. On dulcissimo, cf. Intr. 88a.

post ... sextum: the distance from Rome to Athens could be covered in 21 days (cf. Intr. 64) under favorable circumstances. Possibly young Marcus had delayed in replying and wished to conceal that fact. The archaic form quadragensimum is sufficiently supported by tricensima (Fam. 10.31.5) and quadragensimo (Fam. 10.33.5). Cf. also CIL. 1.198.21 and 199.27. See also Crit. Append.

exoptatissimus : the generous use of superlatives in the first sentence illustrates well young Cicero's desire to please his correspondent. See also Intr. 96.

vehementer: cf. Intr. 90.

gratos optatosque: cf. firmo constantique, 2; dolorem cruciatumque, 2; sollicitudinis et doloris, 2; frugi severaque, 4; familiaribus et convictoribus, 5; and gratum acceptumque, 7; see also oro obsecro, Ep. L.1n.

rumores : more favorable reports mentioned in Tiro's letter, to which this epistle is an answer.

gratos ... esse ... non dubito: cf. Pollio, Fam. 10.31.5 illud me Cordubae pro cantione dixisse nemo vocabit in dubium Trebonius, Fam. 12.16.2 cui itos et caritate et amore tuum officium praestaturos non debes dubitore. Cf. also Ter. Hec. 326; Varr. Ling. Laot. 7.107. The infin. after non dubito is not found in Cicero (cf., however, a scarcely parallel passage in Cic. de Fin. 3.38). In all the cases cited the dependent verb precedes non dubito, and the writer in using the acc. and infin. has in mind a verb of thinking in general, and not the special phrase non dubito. When non dubito precedes, quin with the subj. is always used; cf. 7 of this letter. See also Schmalz, Ueber d. Sprachgebrauch d. Asinius Pollio, p. 88.

mi dulcissime Tiro : cf. mi Pomponi, Ep. X. n. and Intr. 88a.

in dies magis magisque : for the strict classical expression in dies magis (cf. Cic. pro Mil. 25).

bucinatorem: apparently not used in the figurative sense elsewhere.

successa: Mendelssohn cites, as parallel to this unusual participle, custodibus discessis from Caelius Antipater and sole occaso from Q. Claudius. Schwabe conjectures successe (for successisse) with considerable probability. Cf. decesse, Ep. XIX.2n.

ut duplicetur: for the classical acc. and infin. after praestare (cf. Cic. Tusc. Disp. 5.29). The same construction is used by Marcellus, Fam. 4.11.2. Similarly the negative form of the dependent clause after praestare is expressed by ne with the subj. in the letters of Cicero's less careful correspondents; cf. Cael. Fam. 8.10.5; D. Brut. Ep. XCVII.1; C. Cass. Fam. 12.13.4.

Cratippo: a celebrated Peripatetic, and young Marcus's principal instructor in philosophy (cf. de Off. 1.1).

Bruttio: see 5 n.

nullo tempore: for numquam; cf. hoc loco for his, 7; hoc tempore for iam, Att. 8.12C. 3. Such periphrastic expressions are common in Plautus and Terence.

in proximo: for the phrase cf. Ter. Heaut. 54; Ter. Hec. 341.

ex meis angustus: a pathetic hint at an increased allowance. The income of young Marcus was by no means a small one. Cf. Ep. LXXIV. 2 praestabo nec Bibulum, etc.

Cassium, Bruttium: teachers of elocution, not mentioned elsewhere. It is noticeable that both are Romans.

Epicrates: otherwise unknown.

Leonides: cf. introd. note.

τὰ μὲν οὖν, etc., that is the way things stand with me. The use of Greek words and phrases in this letter is noticeable, but not surprising in a letter from a student at Athens. Cf. Intr. 97.

Gorgia: an instructor whose influence had demoralized young Marcus, and whom the elder Cicero had evidently ordered his son to dismiss.

tergiversari: a common word in Cicero's writings, but rare in other authors.

σπουδή, esteem (for him).

importaret: a colloquial word borrowed from commercial language; cf. Nägelsbach, Stilistik,7 p.346.

succurrebat: for occurrebat; cf. succurret, Ep. LXXXVI.4n.

feliciterque ... cupio: cf. Ep. LXXX.2n.

hoc loco, at this point (in my letter). Courtesy would have naturally called for an earlier reference to Tiro's purchase.

habes : used either absolutely or, as it was colloquially employed, of a telling blow in the arena, i.e. “you are hit.” Cf. hoc igitur habebis, Ep. LXIX.2n. See also Verg. Aen. 12.296; Plaut. Most. 715; Ter. And. 83, with note of Donatus.

mihi ... ante oculos ... propono: cf. mihi ante oculos, Ep. XIII.3n.

mensa secunda: when fruit was served.

de mandatis: cf. Intr. 91. The stereotyped character of the introductory phrase with de is shown here by its lack of influence upon the construction of the rest of the sentence.

hypomnematis: the dative and ablative plural of Greek nouns in -ma ends sometimes in -bus, sometimes in -is, with a decided preference in classical Latin for the heteroclite ending -is, as though the noun were a feminine noun of the first declension or a neuter of the second.

Anterum: the tabellarius. The good intentions of young Marcus stated so extravagantly here were serious; for a month or two before this letter was written Trebonius, who was at Athens, wrote to Cicero (Fam. 12.16.1), vidi filium tuum deditum optimis studiis summaque modestiae fama; ... noli putare, mi Cicero, me hoc auribus tuis dare; nihil adulescente tuo atque adeo nostro aut amabilius omnibus eis qui Athenis sunt est aut studiosius earum artium quas tu maxime amas, hoc est optimarum. It cannot be too keenly regretted that young Marcus makes no mention of Horace, who was of the same age and was pursuing his studies in Athens at this time.

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hide References (20 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (20):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.31.5
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.33.5
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 12.13.4
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 12.16.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 12.16.2
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 16.25
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 4.11.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 14.16.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 15.16
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 8.12
    • Cicero, For Milo, 25
    • Plautus, Mostellaria, 3.2
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 12.296
    • Terence, The Self-Tormenter, 1.1
    • Terence, The Mother-in-Law, 3.1
    • Terence, The Mother-in-Law, 3.2
    • Terence, Andria, 1.1
    • Cicero, de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, 3.38
    • Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, 5.29
    • Cicero, De Officiis, 1.1
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