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Cicero's Correspondence and its First Publication.

65. The earliest letter (Att. 1.5) in the correspondence was written in 68 B.C.; the latest (Fam. 10.24), a letter from Plancus to Cicero, bears the date of July 28, 43 B.C. Cicero's last extant letter (Fam. 10.29) was written July 6, 43 B.C. The correspondence with Atticus closes with Att. 1.6.15 in Dec. 44 B.C. The fact that the extant correspondence stops several months before his death is probably due to the circumstance that the attitude of Octavius changed in the summer of 43 B.C., and Cicero's letters after that date were not published because of the strictures they contained upon the conduct of Octavius. The following tables indicate the extant and lost collections of letters:

Ad Familiares16 bks.
Ad Atticum16
Ad Quintum3
Ad M. Brutum2
Total37 bks.

Ad Axium 2 bks.
Ad M. Brutum7
Ad Caesarem3
Ad Calvum2
Ad filium2
Ad Hirtium9
Ad Nepotem2
Ad Octavium3
Ad Pansam3
Ad Pompeium4
Total37 bks.

The extant collections contain about 870 letters, of which 423 are included in the Bks. ad Fam., 394 in the Bks. ad Att., and the remainder is divided almost equally between the other two collections. The correspondence contains 98 letters from 31 other persons than Cicero. Seventy-three of these letters are found in the Bks. ad Fam.

66. The collection of letters ad Fam. seems to be made up of three parts1: (i) Bk. 13, (ii) Bks.1-9 and 14-16, (iii) Bks. 10-12. The letters of Bk. 13 are all letters of recommendation, and were probably collected and perhaps published in the summer of 44 B.C. Of the other books, 1-9 and 14-16 contain epistles, other than letters of recommendation, written before the summer of 44 B.C.; and Bks. 10-12 contain letters written later than that date. The date of publication of parts ii and iii is not known. In view of the criticisms made upon Antony in some of these letters, perhaps they were not published until after the battle of Actium, or still later.2 The title Episitulae ad Familiares is modern.

Tiro, Cicero's secretary, was making a collection of Cicero's letters in 44 B.C.3 The collection of letters ad Fam. contains no letters from Tiro, but many addressed to him, even by other people than Cicero. He is therefore almost certainly the editor of this collection.

67. The collection ad Atticum contains no letter from Atticus. This state of things, together with the well-known fact that Atticus was a publisher, and that Cornelius Nepos says4 that such a collection of Cicero's letters, not yet published, was in the possession of Atticus, makes it almost certain that these letters were arranged for publication by him. It is probable that they were not published until after his death (32 B.C.).5 Some of the men of note upon whom Cicero had expressed unfavorable opinions were still living in 32 B.C., and the publication of these letters would therefore have been indiscreet. The books in the collection ad Att. stand in chronological order, and the letters within the books are arranged chronologically, but not with accuracy.

With the Epistulae ad Quintum fratrem may be mentioned the Commentariolum Petitionis,6 a document which Quintus sent to his brother when the latter was a candidate for the consulship. The letters proper, as well as the Epistulae ad M. Brutum, were edited by Tiro.7 There were originally nine books of the letters to Brutus, but seven of them have been lost. Those which remain are probably Bks. 9 and 8 of the original collection. The authenticity of the Epist ad M. Brut. has been seriously doubted, but, with the exception perhaps of 1.16 and 17,8 they are now commonly regarded as authentic.

68. A few references to Cicero's letters during the Middle Ages are found,9 but they do not seem to have been as well known as his philosophical writings. In the year 1389, however, Coluccio Salutato, the Florentine chancellor, obtained from Vercelli a copy of a Ciceronian manuscript, which was found to contain the Epist ad Fam.10 This manuscript and the copy secured by Coluccio are now in the Laurentian Library at Florence. The former belongs to the ninth or tenth century and contains all of the Epist ad Fam. This manuscript, in the opinion of most editors, is of paramount authority for the text. Bks. 1-8 of this collection are also found in two manuscripts of the twelfth century, one in the library of the British Museum and the other in the National Library at Paris. Another manuscript of the eleventh century in the British Museum and one of the fifteenth or sixteenth century at Rome contain Bks. 9-16.

In 1345 Petrarch discovered at Verona a manuscript containing the Epist. ad Att., ad Q. fr., and ad M. Brutum, and, although the original and Petrarch's copy are both lost, another copy, made for Coluccio Salutato, survived and is preserved in the Laurentian Library at Florence. The only other independent sources for the text of these letters are a few leaves at Würzburg and Munich, and a manuscript known to us only through the marginal readings in one of the early editions, that of Cratander, published in Basel in 1528.

1 Cf. in general L. Gurlitt, De M Tulli Ciceronis epistulis earumque pristina collectione.

2 Cf. Mendelssohn, M. Tulli Ciceronis Epistularum Libri Sedecim, p. iii. n.

3 Att. 16.5. 5.

4 Nep. Att. 16.

5 Bücheler (Rhein. Mus. 1879, p. 352) believes that they were published between 60 and 65 A.D., but his argument is not convincing.

6 Upon the authenticity of the Commentariolum Petitionis, cf. Tyrrell, vol.1.2 pp. 110-121; Hendrickson, Amer. Jour. of Philol. vol. XIII. no.2.

7 Gurlitt, p.37.

8 K. Schirmer,Ueber die Sprache des M. Brutus in den bei Cicero überlieferten Briefen, pp.25-6.

9 Mendelssohn, pp. iv-x.

10 Mendelssohn, pp. xi - xli.; Schmidt, Briefw. pp.449-451.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.24
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.29
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 1.5
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 16.5
    • Cornelius Nepos, Atticus, 16
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