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Letter LXI: ad familiares 9.16

Tusculum, July, 46 B.C. L. Papirius Paetus, to whom are addressed Fam. 9.15-26, was a friend of long standing. We first hear of him through a collection of books which he presented to Cicero in 60 B.C. (Att. 1.20.7; 2.1.12). Like Atticus, he was an Epicurean and held himself aloof from politics. The large fortune which he had inherited made it unnecessary for him to engage in business, and he was able to give himself up to the pleasures of a literary and social life. Cicero's letters to him testify to their intimate relations, and offer the best commentary upon his character and tastes. No better specimens of the sermo urbanus and no better proof of Cicero's wit and brilliancy as a letter-writer can be found than in the letters to Paetus.

amavi amorem: cf. occidione occisum, Ep. XXXIV.7n., and cura ut valeas meque ames amore illo tuo singulari, Fam.15.20.3.

Silius: probably P. Silius Nerva, to whom, when he was propraetor of Bithynia in 51 and 50 B.C. , several letters of recommendation (Fam. 13.47, 61-65) are addressed.

bis: for fear that one might be lost.

eodem exemplo, to the same effect; as in Q. fr. 2.10 (12). 5. Exemplum without idem, when applied to letters, means 'a copy,' e.g. Caesaris lillerarum exemplum tibi misi, Att. 7.23.3.

quomodo: equivalent to quoquomodo, as in Fam. 14.14.1: quomodo quidem nunc se res habet, ... bellissime mecum esse poteritis.

sic ... habeto: cf. Ep. XXVI.1n. and Intr. 89.

istorum : i.e. Caesar and his friends.

cuius opera: sc. in the suppression of the Catilinarian conspiracy.

Servius: Ser. Claudius, son-in-law of the Roman grammarian L. Aelius Stilo (cf. Suet. de Gram. 3), and a well-known editor of Plautus (cf. Aul. Gel. 3.3.1). He was the cousin or half-brother of Paetus (cf. Att. 1.20.7; 2.1.12).

notandis generibus poetarum: i.e. by noticing the characteristics of the different poets.

ἀποφθεγμάτων: that Caesar in his youth made a collection of witticisms we know from Suet. Iul. 56 feruntur et a puero et ab adulescentulo quaedam scripta, ut Laudes Herculis, tragoedia Oedipus, item Dicta Collectanea; quos omnes libellos vetuit Augustus publicari in epistula, quam brevem admodum ac simplicem ad Pompeium Macrum, cui ordinandas bibliothecas delegaverat, misit.

quod meum non sit: cf. pro Planc. 35 quod quisque dixit, me id dixisse dicunt ... stomachor, cum aliorum non me digna in me conferuntur; Fam. 7.32.1 ais enim, ut ego discesserimm (to Cilicia), omnia omnium dicta ... in me conferri. Quid? tu id pateris? non me defendis? non resistis? equidem sperabam ita notata me reliquisse genera dictorum meorum ut cognosci sua sponte possent. Of the ioci Ciceronis in their published form Quintilian, however, expresses (6.3.5) a rather unfavorable opinion.

cum reliquis actis, with the rest of the day's doings.

Oenomao tuo: Paetus, with a flattering application to Cicero, had quoted the words of King Oenomaus from the Oenomaus of Accius: the king speaks of his position made difficult by the envy of men, and compares himself to a rock, on which the waves of envy beat. Saxum id facit angustitatem, et sub eo saxo exuberans Scatebra fluviae radit rupem. Cf. Ribbeck, Trag. Rom. Frag. p. 201, and Röm. Trag. p. 437.

loco, appositely enough.

sic : limiting placuisse and explained by nihil ... culpam. Cf. sic habeto, 2 n.

praestare, to be responsible for; commonly used with a thing to be desired, e.g. felicitatem, but here employed, as is now and then the English phrase by which it is translated, of a thing to be guarded against; cf. T. D. 3.34 videt culpam nullam esse cum id, quod ab homine non potuerit praestari, evenerit.

in officio, in so for as it concerns the duty. Cf. liberalis in populo, Att. 4.17.3; quo me animo in servis esse censes, 1.1.17, and often in the Letters.

ille : i.e. Caesar.

ad fortunam : while I am not exposed to envy, the passage which you quote from Accius may well be used to describe the position of the brave man, exposed to the assaults of fortune, as I have been.

sapientissimi viri : e.g. Socrates in Athens and Plato in Syracuse.

iocationes: not found in Cicero's orations or philosophical works; cf. Intr. 75.

secundum Oenomaum: the first part of your letter was serious in its tone, the last part humorous. “You have brought out, as they do at the theatre, first a tragedy, and then not a farce, as was done in olden times, but a mime.”

solebat: sc. fieri.

Atellanam : cf. Oscos ludos, Ep. XIX.3n.

mimum: cf. mimos, Ep. XIX.1n.

popellum: see Crit. Append.

cantharum: see Crit. Append. The MS. reading denarium can hardly be correct, as the name of some cheap dish is expected.

narras : colloquial for nominas or dicis. Cf. Plaut. Men. 402; Ter. And. 367, 434, 466; Heaut. 520; Ep. LXVII. 3; Att. 2.7.2;11.1; 13.51.2 .

tyrotarichi patinam: a plebeian dish of cheese and salt fish, which, as Cicero elsewhere also intimates in jest, Paetus was in the habit of offering to his guests: ipse autem eo die in Paeti nostri tyrotarichum imminebam, Att. 14.16.1.

Hirtium: best known as the author of Bk. VIII. of the Gallic War (cf. Suet. Iul. 56). He was also the author, apparently, of the celebrated “open letter” to Cicero, which was intended to counteract the political effect of Cato's suicide and of Cicero's eulogy upon him (cf. Intr. 33, 42).

Dolabellam: see Intr. 56. Cassius and Pansa were also pupils of Cicero.; cf. Fam. 7.33.2. Cicero's object in giving his time to these aspirants for oratorical honors seems to have been largely a desire to secure through them the friendship of Caesar, for he writes to Atticus two years later: haud amo vel hos designatos1 qui etiam declamare me coigerunt, ut ne apud aquas quidem acquiescere liceret; sed hoc meae nimiae facilitatis; nam id erat quondam quasi necesse, Att. 14.12.2.

declamitare, cenitare: see Intr. 79. Hirtius was fond of dining well; cf. Att. 12.2. 2 ibi Hirtius et isti omnes; et quidem ludi dies VIII: quae cenae! quae deliciae! Cf. also Ep. LXIII. 2.

tu ... eiures, etc., the fact that you take oath before me to your insolvency goes for nothing; cf. eiurare militiam, to swear oneself unfit for service. Paetus is legally stopped from pleading poverty as an excuse for not serving a fine dinner.

quaesticulis: cf. Intr. 76. The subject of faciebat is res understood.

bona perdas: as a partial relief to the debtor class, Caesar appointed arbitrators to estimate the value which certain property had before the Civil War began, and this property creditors were obliged to take at its estimated value; cf. Caes. B. C. 3.1.2 per eas2 fierent aestimationes possessionum et rerum, quanti quaeque earum ante bellum fuisset, atque hae creditoribus traderentur. Many creditors, of whom Paetus seems to have been one, had suffered seriously from being obliged to accept this depreciated property.

aestimationem accipere, there is no reason why you shouldn't take the attitude of thinking that when you receive me generously, you are accepting one of the many 'cuts' in your property to which you have submitted. Aestimatio is used concretely for the depreciated property.

Phameae: a rich and vulgar freedman like the host whom Petronius satirizes in his Cena Trimalchionis; cf. also Ep. LXXXI. 2. He was grandfather of the well-known musician Tigellius (cf. Ep. LXXXI. 1).

temperius fiat: the approved time for the cena in Cicero's day was the ninth hour; cf. Fam. 9.26.1 accubueram hora nona. To begin the dinner too early or to prolong it beyond a reasonable hour was in bad form.

ad matris tuae cenam: Manutius explains: ut accipias me frugali cena, qualem dare solebat mater tua.

animum: cf. ab animo, Ep. LII.1n.

polypum ... similem: the polypus, which is still a favorite article of food with the poorer people in Italy, was probably served in a red broth. This fact suggests the comparison with the statue of Jove, which on festal days in olden times was streaked with vermilion; cf. Pliny N. H. 33.111 enumerat auctores Verrius quibus credere necesse sit Iovis ipsius simulacri faciem diebus festis minio illini solitam, etc., and he adds (35.157) fictilem eum fuisse et ideo miniari solitum. See also Crit. Append.

mihi crede: cf. Ep. XXVII.1n.

promulside: the cena proper in Cicero's day was preceded by the gustus, gustatio, or promulsis, as it was sometimes called from the mulsum or mead which was commonly drunk with this course. The promulsis consisted of light articles of food, such as eggs, sausage, salads, olives, artichokes, asparagus, etc.

isto: cf. Ep. XLVIII.2n.

de villa Seliciana: a villa near Naples, belonging to Q. Selicius. Cf. also Ep. LXVII. 3.

salis ... parum: perhaps Paetus had referred to salt works upon the estate of Selicius, and Cicero is commenting upon the statement, giving a double meaning to salis. Sannio was one of the regular characters in the Atellan farces (cf. Oscos ludos, Ep. XIX.3n.). The sentence would then mean: “there is sal (i.e. “salt” and “material for jests”) enough already, but few who are in the mood of jesting.” With sanorum or saniorum (both gen. plur. neut.), which some editors read, the meaning would be nearly the same. If salis is used in a metaphorical sense, and without a double meanmg, Cicero must have in mind the statements made in 3 f. See Crit. Append.

1 i.e. Hirtius and Pansa

2 i.e. arbitros

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hide References (25 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (25):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 13.47
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 14.14.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 7.32.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 7.33.2
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 9.15
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 9.26.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 12.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 14.12.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 14.16.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.20.7
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.7.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 4.17.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 7.23.3
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 1.1.17
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.10
    • Cicero, For Plancius, 35
    • Caesar, Civil War, 3.1
    • Terence, The Self-Tormenter, 3.2
    • Plautus, Menaechmi, 2.3
    • Terence, Andria, 2.2
    • Terence, Andria, 2.6
    • Terence, Andria, 3.1
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 56
    • Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, 3.34
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 3.3.1
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