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Letter XXV: ad familiares 7.10

Rome, December, 54 B.C.

te Caesari ... videri: cf. quotation, Ep. XXI. (end).

sapere : with special reference to technical legal knowledge.

in Britanniam: cf. τῶν Βρεττανῶν, Ep. XXIV.1n.

in ... insula peritior: where all were savages. A similar jest at end of Ep. XXIV.

sum ... invitatus: the letters of Trebatius were apparently written in a personal and humorous vein.

subinvideo tibi, I envy you a trifle. Cf. Intr. 77.

accersitum: sc. to give advice.

minori curae: colloquial Latin showed a fondness for the predicate dative after esse; and curae, often with an adjective, magnae, minori, summae, etc., is very frequently found in this construction.

valde metuo, etc., I am very much afraid that you are suffering from cold in your winter quarters; so I advise you to keep a bright fire going on the hearth (Mucius and Manilius hold the same opinion), especially as you are not well supplied with clothing for a campaign, and yet I understand that you find it hot enough over there just at present. The humor of the passage consists in the rapid transition from the literal to the metaphorical meaning of certain words, and in the citation of learned authorities in support of self-evident conclusions. frigeas in hibernis is perhaps best taken literally, sagis non abundares with a double meaning, and calere figuratively.

Mucio: Q. Mucius Scaevola, pontifex maximus, consul in 95 B.C. , an eminent jurist and Cicero's preceptor Cf. Lael. I.

Manilio: M'. Manilius, consul in 149 B.C. ; an authority upon civil law often mentioned with Scaevola.

placebat: like censeo a technical legal word.

sagis non abundares: inasmuch as Trebatius is not well supplied with heavy garments, and the weather is cold, his only protection lies in keeping a good fire; but the sagum was the typical garment of a soldier, as the toga was the main article in the dress of a civilian (thus sagati, Non. 11.202, Müll., is opposed to togati), and to say that Trebatius was not well supplied with saga implied that he avoided the dangers of the campaign.

calere: used metaphorically of the 'warm work' which the insurrection of the Gauls under Ambiorix (Caes. B. G. 5.23-53) gave the Romans. See Intr. 99.

cautior, more discreet. Cavere as a legal term means, to provide for a person, as his counsel. Cicero suggests that Trebatius showed more discretion as a soldier, in keeping out of range, than he did as a lawyer. The same pun occurs in another letter to Trebatius (Fam. 7.6.2) tu, qui ceteris cavere didicisti, in Britannia ne ab essedariis decipiaris caveto. One of the main sources of humor in Cicero's letters to Trebatius lies in the double meaning which he gives to judicial terms ,— a form of wit which would appeal forcibly to the legal mind of Trebatius; cf. placebat and censeo above and respondere in the foregoing letter. Cf. also Cic. Philipp. 2.7 quam multa ioca solent esse in epistulis quae, prolata si sint, inepta videantur!

qui ... volueris: a humorous way of saying that Trebatius avoided the dangers and hardships of the British campaign by staying in Gaul. See in Britanniam, 1 n.

studiosissimus homo natandi: Trebatius's fondness for swimming Horace wittily uses for his own purposes in Sat. 2.1.8.

spectare : cf. τῶν Βρεττανῶν, Ep. XXIV.1n.

andabata: Trebatius had been so fond of combats in Rome that his friends had not been able to keep him away, even from the shows where blindfolded warriors fought on horseback. It is strange, therefore, that he feels so little interest in seeing similar contests in Britain. The essedarii were especially dreaded by the Roman soldiers.

defraudare: a colloquial word, which, though common enough in Plautus and Terence, Cicero uses elsewhere perhaps only in a proverbial expression, Or. 221.

mercule: this oath is found in Cicero's correspondence in the forms, hercules, mehercules (or mercules), and mehercule (or mercule). Cicero himself writes (Or. 157) mehercule libentius dixerim quam mehercules, and the more polished letter-writers of this period seem to have agreed with him.

hominem: cf. homini, Ep. XVI.6n.

nihil: stronger than nemo.

advoles: Lorenz, on Plaut. Pseud. 535, says: The Roman sermo cotidianus had a host of substitutes for ire and abire, e.g. ambulare, se agere, se penetrare, se adferre, se dare, se immergere, se ducere, se abrigere, etc. Such substitutes as advolare and convolare are especial favorites, because of their exaggerative character. Cf. Att. 1.14.5; Ep. LXIX. 1 .

fratres nostri Aedui: a thrust at the absurdity of bestowing such complimentary titles upon remote barbarians, whose 'brotherhood' did not keep them from frequent treachery and insubordination. The grant of the title is mentioned in Caes. B. G. 1.33. With the sentiment, cf. Fam. 7.11.2 una mercule conlocutio nostra pluris erit quam omnes Samarobrivae.

aut, etc.: Ter. Haut. 86.

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hide References (8 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (8):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 7.11.2
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 7.6.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.14.5
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 1.33
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 5.23
    • Cicero, Philippics, 2.7
    • Plautus, Pseudolus, 1.5
    • Terence, The Self-Tormenter, 1.1
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