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Letter XVI: ad Quintum fratrem 2.3

Rome, written Feb.12, sent Feb.15, 56 B.C. This letter presents in a graphic manner the disordered state of affairs in Rome in 56 B.C. and the isolation of Pompey. The latter fact led Pompey to meet Caesar at Luca in April and renew the Triumvirate, notwithstanding his manifest jealousy of Caesar and his open enmity towards Crassus; cf. Momm. Röm. Hist. IV. 354-370.

antea: in his last letter, Q. fr. 2.2, written Jan. 17.

legationes: i.e. audiences given to foreign embassies.

reiciebantur, were postponed. The reception of foreign embassies was the regular order of business for February.

eo die: i.e. the Ides.

res: Ptolemy Auletes, the king of Egypt, being unable to maintain his position at home, had fled to Rome for help, and in his absence the Alexandrians had placed his daughter Berenice on the throne. The senate, at the suggestion of the consul Lentulus Spinther, voted that the consul who should receive Cilicia as his province should restore Ptolemy. Cilicia fell to Lentulus, but the friends of Pompey contended that the restoration of Ptolemy should be placed in his hands. For the dispute which followed, cf. Fam. 1.1. Cicero espoused the cause of Lentulus. He uses simply res in referring to the matter here, as he had written in detail upon the subject in his last letter to Quintus (Q. fr. 2.2.3).

adfuit (sc. comitiis tributis): Milo was accused of riotous proceedings by Clodius. For the method of procedure before the comitia tributa, cf. Momm. St. N. III. 354-357.

advocatus: the advocatus appeared to give advice and to lend the defendant the benefit of his moral support; M. Marcellus was the patronus, or legal adviser and advocate.

honeste discessimus, we came out of it with flying colors.

prodicta dies: a trial before the comitia tributa ran through four meetings of that assembly. In this case the days of the trial were Feb. 2, Feb. 6, Feb.17 (2, end), and May 7 (cf. Q. fr. 2.5.4).

de omandis praetoribus: i.e. supplying the praetors with the troops necessary for their provinces.

querelis interponendis: abi. cause; cf. recitando, Ept XV. 6 n.

C. Cato: a tribune and enemy of Pompey (Fam. 1.5 B. I); not to be confused with M. Cato.

de abrogando: so as to checkmate the plans of Lentulus with reference to Egypt.

vestitum filius mutavit: the son put on mourning in order to excite sympathy for his father and prevent the passage of the bill, as did Cicero's friends in 58 B.C. , when the law threatening him with banishment was pro. posed; cf. Att. 3.15.5.

sive: like sire potius to correct a statement.

sane: with adjectives and adverbs, a common colloquialism in Cicero's letters for the more formal valde; cf. sane plenum, Att. 7.4.1; sane commode, Att. 7.14.2, etc. Cf. also Intr. 90.

peregerat: the change of tense is strange. The text is probably corrupt.

a nostris: especially the 'operae' of Milo.

referre gratiam, to return the compliment (Tyrrell).

Ut . . consisteret, so that he lost his seifpossession, his tongue, and control of his countenance. ea res ad horam VIII, this scene, although it was nearly noon when Pompey had finished speaking, continued clear up to 2 o'clock.

versus ... dicerentur: serious charges were freely made concerning the relations existing between Clodius and his sister. On Clodia, cf. Ep. VIII.5n .-qui plebem fame necaret: by failing in his duties as corn commissioner. Cf. Ep. XV. 6 f. -Alexandream: cf. res, I n.

consputare: see Intr. 79.

fuga operarum: sc. facta est.

de rostris: the trial of Milo took place in the Forum, where the comitia tributa commonly met.

ne quid in turba (sc. accideret nobis): the frequent ellipses, the historical infinitive urgere, the condensed expressions, and the rapid transition from one idea to another in this whole passage give a panoramic effect to the description, and illustrate Cicero's skill in narrative.

in curiam: the Curia Hostilia, or original senate-house, faced the comitium, an open space at the north corner of the Forum.

Bibulo: cf. Ep. VII. 2,5 nn.

Curione: cf. Ep. V.1n.

Favonio: cf. Ep. XV.7n.

Servilio filio: P. Servilius Vatia Isauricus was, like Favonius, an admirer and imitator of Cato. These four men with M. Cato were leaders of the ultra-conservative element of the aristocratic party.

bonorum virorum: here evidently used strictly as the name of a political party, opposed to mali or improbi.

in posterum: sc. diem.

Quirinalia: this festival was held Feb.17.

ad Apollinis: cf. a Vestae, Ep. XIII.2n

ut Pompeius adesset: since Pompey's house was probably near the Circus Flaminius, this arrangement enabled him to avoid the danger of coming through the City to the Curia.

Cato: the tribune; cf. 1 n.

me invito: Cicero did not wish to be drawn into the dispute.

illius in me perfidiam: in allowing Cicero to be banished.

magno silentio malevolorum: a speech in which Pompey was censured and Cicero praised would tend to make them enemies, and would therefore please the democrats.

Crassum descripsit: i.e. without mentioning his name.

quem C. Carbo interemisset: Scipio Africanus Minor was found dead in his bed, and probably died a natural death; but the statement of Pompey was the explanation of his decease which the aristocrats gave for party purposes. In this case Pompey is the Africanus, and C. Cato, secretly supported by Crassus, the Carbo.

contionario illo populo: cf. contionalis hirudo aerari, Ep. V.11n.

populo ... alienato, etc.: a striking commentary upon Pompey's weakness as a political leader and upon his present isolation. The populace was controlled by Clodius, who had quarreled with Pompey; the aristocracy and senate regarded Pompey as the leading member of the Triumvirate, which threatened their supremacy; the coming generation of young politicians (iuventute) were extreme democrats.

improba: with a political rather than a moral significance. Cf. note on bonorum virorum above.

in eo, in this respect.

ipsius: i.e. Pompey.

ex Piceno: which was filled with Pompey's followers; cf. Vell. Pat. 2.29.

Gallia : Gallic recruits would be furnished by Caesar.

Lentulo: cf. note above on de abrogando.

Sestius: as tribune in 58-57 B.C. , he had worked earnestly for Cicero's recall.

Pupinia: sc. tribu.

nos ei iure suscensere: Cicero may have well been offended at Sestius's method of advocating his cause, which showed more zeal than judgment and was likely to injure his prospects. Of the bill which Sestius offered in his interest Cicero writes (Att. 3.20.3): rogado Sesti neque dignitatis satis habet nec cautionis.

sed idem Nerius, etc., in addition to the others implicated, Nerius has located information against Vatia and Bestia also. The charge made was evidently that of bribery; cf. ambitus above.

sodalitates decuriatique: the former were originally social, religious, or semi-religious societies; cf. Cic. de Sen. 45. It was soon found convenient, however, to use such organizations for political purposes; cf. de Pet. Cons. 19 nam hoc blennio quattuor sodalitates hominum ad ambitionem gratiosissimorum tibi obligasti ... qua re hoc tibi faciendum est, hoc tempore ut ab iis quod debent exigas saepe commonendo rogando confirmando curando ut intellegant nullum se umquam aliud tempus habituros referendae gratiae. Clodius saw the advantage to be derived from such bodies, and reorganized them in 58 B.C. Under his control they played a part in politics not unlike that of the political clubs in France before the Revolution. The decuriati were men organized into decuriae or groups, in this case for political purposes; cf. pro Sest. 34.

que is explanatory; 'political clubs, i.e. definite organizations.'

discederent, should disband.

lex ferretur i.e. in the comitia. Cf. Ep. V.2n. Such organizations were not effectually controlled until under Julius Caesar's constitution the permission of the senate was required before permanent societies with fixed times of meeting and standing deposits could be organized.

pro Bestia: L. Calpurnius Piso Bestia, the tribune who in 63 B.C. by a speech against Cicero was to give the signal to the Conspirators for active operations (Sall. Cat. 43.1). The oration for Bestia has not been preserved.

Cn. Domitium (Calvinum): he supported in later years the cause of Caesar in the Civil War. The last reference to him is in connection with an unsuccessful campaign against Pharnaces in 47 B.C. (Bell. Alex. 65).

cum Sestius, etc.: in Jan., 57 B.C. , after many delays a proposition to recall Cicero from exile was laid before the people; but as Clodius had already filled the comitium and the curia with armed men, a riot followed, in which Sestius was seriously wounded. The forces of Cicero's friends had taken up their position at the temple of Castor, on the south side of the Forum; cf. pro Sest. 75 f.

προῳκονομησάμην brought out in advance. By eulogistic references to Sestius, Cicero wished to pave the way for the oration in his behalf, which was delivered a month later and brought about his acquittal (Q. fr. 2.4. I).

homini: here, as elsewhere in the Letters, almost equivalent to a pronoun. This use may be colloquial, as it is unusually frequent in comedy, e.g. Ter. Ad. 536

Facio te apud illum deum? virtutes narro.


Tuas; homini ilico lacrumae cadunt

pridie Idus Febr.: this remark fixes the date of the letter proper. What follows is a postscript written, as we see from the last sentence, Feb.15.

ante lucem: cf. haec dictavi ambulans, Ep. IX.1n. See also Q. fr. 2.5.4.

in eius nuptus: sc. with Pilia. A daughter was born to them, Caecilia, who married M. Agrippa, and their daughter Vipsania Agrippa was the first wife of Tiberius.

patientia: Quintus Could scarcely lay claim to patientia or suavitas; cf., e.g., Q. fr. 1.1.37.

domus ... conducta est, the house which belonged to Lucinius near Piso's park has been hired for you. Tyrrell would change lucum to lacum, as lucus is elsewhere regulariy applied to a grove sacred to a god.

K. QuinctilisJuly I was 'moving day' in Rome (Böckel); see Suet. Tib. 35.

in tuam commigrabis: the house of Quintus on the Palatine adjoining his brother's was being rebuilt under the direction of the Celebrated architect Cyrus; cf. Q. fr. 2.2.2.

in Carinis: between the Forum and the Esquiline.

mundi habitatores Lamiae, respectable tenants, the Lamiae.

Olbiensem, from Olbia, in the northeastern part of Sardinia.

tamen Sardiniam, etc.: the climate of Sardinia where Quintus was stationed (cf. Intr. 55) was dangerous, even in the winter; see also Pomp. Mela, 2.123.

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hide References (16 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (16):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 1.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 3.15.5
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 3.20.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 7.14.2
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 7.4.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 1.1.37
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.2
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.2.2
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.2.3
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.4
    • Cicero, Letters to his brother Quintus, 2.5.4
    • Cicero, For Sestius, 34
    • Cicero, For Sestius, 75
    • Terence, The Brothers, 4.1
    • Suetonius, Tiberius, 35
    • Sallust, Catilinae Coniuratio, 43
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