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Letter LXXV: ad familiares 4.5

Athens, March, 45 B.C. Servius Sulpicius Rufus, who was of about the same age as Cicero, was for a time his rival in oratory, but, soon recognizing his friend's matchless oratorical powers, he turned his attention to the study of jurisprudence, and was for many generations a leading authority in that subject. His opinions are frequently quoted in the Digest. In politics he was, like Cicero, a conservative and a lover of peace, and, as such, strove during his consulship in 51 B.C. to avert the impending struggle between Caesar and Pompey. When the other Pompeians left Rome at the outbreak of the Civil War, Sulpicius was prevented by illness from accompanying them, and, like Cicero, he hesitated long whether to maintain a neutral position or to join them. A lively correspondence upon this point passed between the two in 49 B.C. (cf. Fam. 4.1, 2). In 46 he was made governor of Achaia by Caesar (cf. Ep. LXV. 10). After the death of Caesar, in the struggle between Antony and D. Brutus, his sympathies were again upon the side of peace and compromise, and he was sent by the senate, in 43 B.C. , upon a peace embassy to Antony, who was laying siege to Mutina. While on his way thither he died. Cicero's ninth Philippic is a eulogy on him. This epistle, like the letters from Caesar, Lucceius, and Dolabella (Intr. 53), was called forth by the death of Tullia, and is perhaps the most widely known of all the letters in the correspondence of Cicero.

sane quam: cf. Ep. XXXI.2n.

pro eo ac: for ut; cf. perinde ut, Ep. LXVII.1n.

graviter molesteque: cf. oro obsecro, Ep. L. 1n.

istic adfuissem: pleonastic for adfuissem.

istic : i.e. in Italy. Servius was in Athens.

miserum atque acerbum: see graviter molesteque, above.

confieri: colloquial from two points of view: (1) it is used for the simple verb fieri. Lorenz, Introd. to Pseud. n. 36, says: “In general compounds with con- are popular throughout the old comic poetry, and must have been extremely common in the Roman vulgar language of that day. The loss of force which the preposition suffers in almost every case bears witness to this fact”; (2) facio, when compounded with a preposition, has -fici for its passive form. Such forms as confieri and defieri for confici and defici are found only in colloquial and archaic Latin. Cf., e.g., Plaut. Trin. 408; M. G. 1261; and Thielmann, De sermonis proprietatibus in primis Ciceronis libris, 52.

propinquos ac familiaris : cf. graviter molesteque, above. The words quoted are thrown in loosely, as an appositive to quos ... perspicias: the mood is determined by forsitan.

qui: cf. Intr. 81.

minoris existimare: existimare (for aesti mare) with the genitive is colloquial. Cf. Plaut. Capt. 682dum ne ob malefacta peream, parvi existumo”; Suet. Aug. 40magna existimans”. Cf also Intr 78.

tu veneris ... nos incidimus: there is an implied compliment in the application of veneris to Cicero and incidimus to himself.

cum iis esse actum: cf. nobiscum egerit, 2.

licitum est : licitum est and placitum est, for licuit and placuit, belong to the sermo cotidianus. Cf. Fam. 8.4.4; Ep. XI. 5; and see Krebs, Antibarbarus, 11.22. These passive forms are frequent in Comedy. Cf. Plaut. Men. 589; Ter. And. 443, and Donatus, note. See also placitum est, Ep. LXXXVI.2n.

quae res? quae spes? a case of assonance.

adulescente: Tullia's last husband, Dolabella, must have been about 18 years old at the time of their marriage; cf. Appian, B. C. 2.129.

primario: adjectives in -arius are very rare in Cicero, but common in colloquial Latin. Cf. manufestarius, Plaut. Aul. 469; praesentarius, Trin. 1081 quasillarius, Petron. 132, etc. Cf. also Lorenz to Plaut. Pseud. 952. In late Latin the ending is especially common, e.g. barbaricarius, scandularius, muliercularius, etc.

ut ... gereret : ironical. Tullia's first husband, Piso, died prematurely, and from Crassipes and Dolabella she was divorced after an unhappy wedded life (cf. Intr. 53).

licitum est : cf. licitum est, above. Schmalz thinks that licitum est ... putares may be an adaptation of Ter. Hec. 212: qui illum decrerunt dignum, suos quoi liberos committerent.

ex hac iuventute: the degenerate youth of today, as they seemed to be to the old man of 60, although Sulpicius has in mind Tullia's unhappy married life in particular.

honores ordinatim: i.e. the offices of quaestor, aedile, praetor, and consul.

ordinatim: for classical ordine. Adverbs in -im are found frequently in early and late Latin, but in the Ciceronian period, with a few exceptions, their use is confined to colloquial Latin. Neue, Formenlehre, 2.662, says: “Adverbs in -im are especially common in archaic Latin, and in late writers who affected an archaic style”; and of ecclesiastical Latin, Rönsch writes (It. u. Vulg. 473): “In the formation of adverbs the substitution of the endings -im and -iter for -e is especially common.” In Cicero's letters to Atticus we find affatim, summatim, and syllabatim. No one of these forms occurs, however, in the orations.

malum ... perpeti: it is a misfortune to lose one's children, unless it may be regarded as so much greater a misfortune to witness the ruin of one's country and the loss of one's liberty that all other afflictions become insignificant.

volo tibi commemorare: used politely for tibi commemorabo.

si forte: the use of these particles with the subjunctive is Plautine (Schmalz).

ex Asia: i.e. from Samos, whither he had gone after the battle of Pharsalus.

ab Aegina: ab and ex to denote motion from, and in to denote position in and motion towards, with names of towns and islands are archaic. Cf. ex Epheso, Plaut. Bacch. 236; in Epheso, M. G. 778; in Ephesum, Bacch. 171. Spengel (to Ter. And. 70).

circumcirca: to be joined with regiones. The use of an adverb for an attributive adj. is of colloquial origin. It becomes especially common in Livy; cf., e.g., Liv. 3.26.3 nulla magnopere clade accepta; 6.39.6 nullo publice emolumento. In the Letters we find (Fam. 12.14.3) ullae privatim iniuriae; (Att. 11.12.1) profectionis meae tum; (Ep. XCI. 2) tuus deinde discessus. Cf. Intr. 85b; Brenous, Les Hellénismes dans la Syn. Lat. pp.394 ff.; Nägelsbach, Stil. pp.229 f. Such compounds as circumcirca, praeterpropter, and exadversum are colloquial.

post me erat ... esse natum: Schmalz (Z. f Gymn. 1881, p. 90) calls attention to an interesting imitation of this passage in one of St. Ambrose's letters (Ep. 39.3): nempe de Bononiensi veniens urbe, a tergo Claternam, ipsam Bononiam, Mutinam, Rhegium derelinquebas, in dextera erat Brixillum, etc. Tot igitur semirutarum urbium cadavera terrarumque sub eodem conspectu exposita funera non te admonent, etc. Byron's stanzas in Childe Harold (IV. 44) are also inspired by it.

Aegina: its decline probably dated from its submission to Athens, in 457 B.C. or 456 B.C.

Megara: destroyed in 307 B.C. by Demetrius Poliorcetes.

Piraeus: taken by Sulla in 86 B.C.

Corinthus: utterly destroyed by Mummius in 146 B.C. Cf. Cic. de Leg. Agr. 2.87 Corinthi vestigium vix relictum est.

quodam tempore: for quondam; cf. Intr. 101.

prostrata et diruta: cf. graviter molesteque, 1.

mecum ... cogitare: a pleonasm common in the older poets; cf., e.g., Ter. Ad. 30, 500; Eun. 629; Heaut. 385.

hem: cf. Intr. 92.

homunculi: the diminutive expresses contempt.

nos homunculi ... iacent: Böckel quotes from Rutilius Namatianus, 1.413: “Non indignemur mortalia corpora solvi:
Cernimus exemplis oppida posse mori.

oppidum: the shorter form of the genitive plural of the second declension is especially common in early Latin.

visne te cohibere: imperative; see Intr. 84b, and cf. Petron. 111 Vis tu reviviscere? vis discusso muliebri errore, quam diu licuerit, lucis commodis frui?

si tibi videtur: a colloquial expression, while si videtur is the more formal and elegant phrase. The former is therefore the common expression in the Letters. Cicero himself uses si videtur in the Letters but once, while si tibi videtur occurs 18 times or more. Cf. Att. 8.6.2, etc.

ante oculos tibi: cf. mihi ante oculos, Ep. XIII.3n.

tot viri clarissimi : cf. Ep. LXII.2nn.

deminutio: the struggle between Caesar and Pompey had lessened the majesty of Rome, and weakened the sense of allegiance on the part of peoples dependent on her.

mulierculae, animula: the diminutives convey an idea of pity and depreciation.

mulierculae, a delicate woman.

hoc tempore: for nunc; cf. quodam tempore, above.

persona: cf. persona, Ep. LXV. 10n.

adulescentibus primarus: cf. adulescente primario, 3.

praecipere et dare consilium: cf. graviter molesteque, 1.

neque: the negative idea of the preceding noli has turned the conjunction into a negative; cf. Hor. Od. 2.12.2.

malos medicos, tute tibi: cf. Intr. 93. Servius uses the strengthened forms tute and egomet, 4.

minuat ac molliat, tempus tibi turpe: alliterative.

hoc ... est: the use of tibi and te in the same clause is unclassical. In his use of the same phrase, Fam. 4.6.1, Cicero omits the dative.

illi mortuae: a fair instance of the use of the demonstrative as equivalent to the Greek article. Cf. [Tusc. Disp. 5.78 quae est victrix, ea laeta prosequentibus suis una cum viro in rogum imponitur, illa victa maesta discedit (Watson).

denique, etc.: added as an afterthought.

finem faciam: alliterative. Cf. ferre fortunam, below.

apisci: Cicero uses apisci only twice, Att. 8.14.3 and de Leg. 1.52. Cf., however, Plaut. Trin. 367; Ter. Heaut. 693; Phorm. 406.

quod attinet: cf. Intr. 91.

provincia: i.e. Achaia. While the letter reveals the real sorrow of Sulpicius at Cicero's loss, he seeks to comfort his friend, not so much by assuring him of his sympathy, as by setting before him certain philosophical considerations. The training of Sulpicius as a lawyer and a jurist goes far to explain the peculiarities in his style and Latinity. The epistle will illustrate how closely allied legal, archaic, and colloquial Latin are; in fact, the expressions which have been noted as common in colloquial speech, are really legal archaisms as used by Sulpicius.

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hide References (27 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (27):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 12.14.3
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 4.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 4.6.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 8.4.4
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 11.12.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 8.14.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 8.6.2
    • Plautus, Pseudolus, 4.1
    • Plautus, Trinummus, 2.2
    • Plautus, Trinummus, 2.4
    • Plautus, Trinummus, 4.3
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 40
    • Terence, The Self-Tormenter, 4.3
    • Terence, The Mother-in-Law, 2.1
    • Terence, Phormio, 2.3
    • Plautus, Aulularia, 3.4
    • Plautus, Bacchides, 2.1
    • Plautus, Bacchides, 2.3
    • Plautus, Captivi, 3.5
    • Plautus, Menaechmi, 4.2
    • Plautus, Miles Gloriosus, 3.1
    • Plautus, Miles Gloriosus, 4.6
    • Terence, The Brothers, 1.1
    • Terence, Andria, 1.1
    • Terence, Andria, 2.6
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 26.3
    • Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, 5.78
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