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Letter L: ad familiares 8.16

Intimelium, April 16, 49 B.C. This letter also appears in the collection of letters to Atticus, Att. 10.9A.


tuis litteris : in this letter, which has not been preserved, Cicero must have conveyed the impression that he intended to join the Pompeians.

nihil nisi triste: attributive acc. Cf. Intr. 83a; see also Stinner, 58, n. 2; Becher, 31.

perscripsti: for perscripsisti; cf. praedixe for praedixisse, below. Cf. Intr. 82.

Cicero: the earnestness of Caelius is shown by his use of the vocative Cicero twice in this letter. It occurs but once elsewhere in his letters.

oro obsecro: the use of such double expressions is especially common in colloquial language. The writer or speaker seeks to bring the idea home by coupling words or phrases which have essentially the same meaning. Cf., e.g., in this letter, salute et incolumitate, 1; atrox et saevum, 1; sciens prudensque, 5; insolentiam et jactationem, 5.

testificor: for the fondness of colloquial Latin for facere in various phrases, see Intr. 89. As for words compounded with facio, in early Latin their number was limited, but in the Vulgate there is a host of such verbs as beatificare, castificare, damnificare, and this formation gave rise in turn to certifier, notifier, etc., in the Romance languages, so that the formation supports the view that the Romance languages were derived not from literary but from colloquial Latin. Cf. also civitatem, Ep. LII.3n.; quicquid in buccam, Ep. LXIX.2n.

sententiam: a kind of prolepsis especially frequent in comedy; see Draeger, Hist. Syn. 11.498, and cf. Plaut. Trin. 373scin tu illum quo genere gnatus sit?Plaut. Men. 247ego illum scio quam carus sit cordi meo”, etc. Caelius himself writes similarly (Fam. 8.10.3): nosti Marcellum quam tardus sit. In general, cf. Reisig-Schmalz, Lat. Syn. n. 554 and Ziemer's Junggrammatische Streifzüge, 60 ff.

eandem rationem: i.e. as in the case of Domitius at Corfinium.

nihil cogitat: see note on nihil nisi triste, above.

exut: sc. ex urbe; for the reason of Caesar's anger, see Caes. B. C. 1.33.

intercessionibus: the tribune Metellus forbade Caesar's removal of the treasure from the temple of Saturn, and opposed all his plans in the senate.

mehercules: cf. mercule, Ep. XXV.3n.


domus: Cicero's family were, however, urging him to join the Pompeians. Cf. Att. 9.6.4 praesertim cum ii ipsi, quorum ego causa timidius me fortunae committebam, uxor filia Cicerones pueri me illud1 sequi mallent, hoc turpe et me indignum putarent; nam Quintus quidem frater, quicquid mihi placeret, id rectum se putare aiebat, id animo aequissimo sequebatur.

gener tuus P. Cornelius Dolabella, who was a pronounced Caesarian.

illud cogita: see note on nihil, 1.

offensae: on offensa, Meyer (De Ciceronis in epistolis ad Atticum sermone, 17) says: “used only in conversation.” Cicero himself does not use the word even in his letters, employing offensio in its stead. The more colloquial writers of a later period, however (e.g. Plin., Suet., and Petron.), use it frequently.

optimatem ... optimum: the singular form optimatem, which is very rare in Latin, is used here for the sake of the pun with optimum. “Don't be so good a nobleman as to shut your eyes to what is noble.”


de Hispaniis: Caesar had set out for Spain in the early part of April.

isti: i.e. the Pompeians.

accedere: in apposition to tuum consilium. A more regular construction would be accedendi.

medius fidius: cf. Ep. XVII.2n.


dicendo : the abl. of the gerund indicating manner is rare before Livy's time. Cf., however, bellum ambulando confecerunt, Ep. XLVIII.1, also from Caelius.

litteras: probably Att. 10.8B.

contendissem: here transitive. Cf. Intr. 83a.


sciens prudensque : “the proverbial expression sciens prudensque, or prudens et sciens, was used of one who takes an ill-advised course with his eyes open” (Landgraf, 318).

aut voces, etc.: i.e. the reproaches of the Optimates on the one hand, or the insolent demeanor of the Caesarians on the other.


1 i.e. the cause of Pompey

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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 8.10.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 10.8
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 10.9
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 9.6.4
    • Plautus, Trinummus, 2.2
    • Caesar, Civil War, 1.33
    • Plautus, Menaechmi, 2.1
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