Letter LXXXII: ad familiares 7.25Tusculum, about Aug.24, 45 B. C.
quod ... salva est: apparently Gallus had destroyed Ep. LXXXI. after reading it, for fear that it might fall into the hands of Tigellius or of his friends. Cicero seems to assure Gallus, however, that he has preserved a copy. quod, etc.: cf. Intr. 91 and Fam. 7.32, 33. mones: sc. ut cautior sim. istum : i.e. Tigellius. γέλωτα σαρδάνιον: a bitter laugh of anger or secret triumph. But perhaps we should read, with Ernesti, σαρδόνιον was a poisonous plant of Sardinia, which caused death when eaten, and which so distorted the faces of those who ate it that they seemed to be laughing. The jest would then be in harmony with the sneers at the Sardinian origin of Tigellius in the previous letter. heus tu: cf. Ep. XXXV.25n. manum de tabula: sc. tolle. The schoolmaster (Caesar) has been away (in Spain), but suddenly returns, and those under him (like Cicero and Gallus) had better stop the pranks they have been playing in his absence, or they will suffer for it (cf. in Catonium Catoninos). Cicero is probably thinking of a roomful of schoolboys, who, instead of giving their attention to the task set them, have aroused themselves during the master's absence by scribbling upon their tabulae. The master suddenly appears, and the order comes manum de tabula (tollite). The scribbling which Cicero and Gallus have been guilty of during Caesar's absence, is in writing political biographies of Cato. Cf. Catonem tuum, Ep. LXXXI.2n. Or the reference may be general: 'No more indiscretions.' Cf. Otto, Sprichwörter, 210. citius quam putaramus: Caesar arrived from Spain Sept., 45 B.C. ; (cf. Suet. Jul.83). He had been expected in the last week of Aug. (cf. Att. 13.51.2). vereor Catoninos, I am afraid that he will send us Catonians to the lower world; or to reproduce the pun involved in Catonium and Catoninos: I am afraid that he will send us followers of Cato to the world where Cato is. The term Catonium for the lower world was, according to Schmidt (Briefw. p. 355), a current witticism in the last days of the Republic, originating in a mime of Laberius; cf. Gel. 16.7. 4. Cf. also Hertz, Gel. 11.281. It has a double meaning: as a comic derivative from Cato, it means the abode of Cato; as a hybrid formation from κάτω (cf. Intr. 80), it means the world below. On Catoninos, cf. Archiv f. lat. Lexikog. 1.184.
ab eo loco, beginning with. Gallus's words were perhaps quoted from Cicero's Phaenomena. tecum habeto, keep it to yourself; for the more common construction, tibi habeto, cf. the formula of divorce, res tuas tibi habe; but see Att. 4.15.6 verum haec tu tecum habeto, and Plaut. Poen. 890 “hoc tu tecum tacitum habeto”. The expression is colloquial. ne ... dixeris: cf. Intr. 84b. videro: I am as yet undecided. transversum unguem (sc. discedas), the breadth of a nail; a proverbial expression, the meaning of which appears from Plaut. Aul. 56 “si hercle tu ex istoc loco digitum transvorsum aut unguem latum excesseris”. As Manutius observes, this letter is remarkable from the number of popular expressions which it contains: rideamus γέλωτα σαρδάνιον, manum de tabula, and transversum unguem. Proverbilis autem locus magis videtur esse cum ad familiares familiariter scribimus; nam ad spectatos viros, in re praesertim gravi, sententiis quidem proverbiorum similibus, ut Homeri aliorumve poetarum versibus, saepe utitur Cicero; quae vero proverbia vere et plane sunt, ea non ita frequenter attingit, arbitratus fortasse Romanae gravitatis non esse proverbia inculcare (Manutius). is ... opifex: cf. de Or. 1.150 stilus optimus et praestantissimus dicendi effector ac magister; 1.257 stilus ille tuus quem tu vere dixisti perfectorem disendi esse ac magistrum. equidem: common in the Ciceronian letters, while ego quidem is regularly used in the non-Ciceronian letters; cf. Fam. 6.7.3; 8.5.1; Ep. LXXIX. 2.