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Letter XXI: ad familiares 7.5

Rome, April, 54 B.C. C. Trebatius Testa, the date of whose birth is uncertain, came as a boy to Rome to study law. He became attached to Cicero, and pleased the latter by both his wit and good-fellowship, and also assisted him by his knowledge of jurisprudence. Being anxious, however, to see something of the world, to win his spurs, and to make a fortune, perhaps, in the provinces, Trebatius set out for the Roman camp in Gaul, carrying with him this letter of recommendation. Cicero's relations with Trebatius were of a most intimate nature, as his seventeen letters to him (Fam. 7.6-22) prove. Like most of the young men who served upon Caesar's staff in Gaul, Trebatius became his devoted admirer, and followed his fortunes in the Civil War. He was one of the few members of that coterie of young men about Caesar who survived the Civil War and lived to see Rome at peace under Augustus. Horace introduces him as a speaker in Sat. 2.1.

me alterum: cf. Ep. XV.7n.

quocumque exirem: Pompey had named Cicero as one of his 15 legati on the corn commission in 57 B.C. (Ep. XV. 7), and Cicero would naturally have gone to some province in connection with that matter, but as he preferred to stay at Rome, his place was taken by Quintus, who went to Sardinia (Ep. XVI. 7); or perhaps reference is made to the fact that the province of Spain was assigned to Pompey at the close of his consulship in 55 B.C. , and Cicero may have been invited to accompany him as his legatus, but, as we know, Pompey remained at Rome.

dubitatio: Cicero's hesitation to leave Rome was due perhaps partly to a fear that Clodius might attack him during his absence, and partly to a fondness for Rome. Cf. si potes, etc., Ep. XVII.2n.

exspectare ... sperasset: in the contrast between these two words lies a delicate compliment to Caesar. The favor of the successful governor of the Gauls would insure to Trebatius what the friendship of a legatus to Spain could only make probable.

prolixe: not infrequently in the Letters with verbs of hoping, thinking, and promising, adverbs are used instead of the neut. acc. plur. of the adj. used substantively, e.g. ut ipse facile animadverterem male (for mala) eum de me cogitare, Fam. 8, 12.1; non licuit diutius bene de eo sperare, Fam. 10.21.1; si humaniter et sapienter et amabiliter in me cogitare vis, Att. 14.13A. 2. This is a colloquial usage.

promisi: used of a formal agreement, while polliceri implies a voluntary promise.

Balbo: L. Cornelius Balbus, a native of Gades, who had received Roman citizenship for his services against Sertorius; cf. Cic. pro Balbo, 5 f. He attached himself closely to Caesar, and was often Caesar's confidential agent in Rome. We have three of his letters to Cicero, Att. 9.7A, 7B, and 13A.

M. Iteium: nothing is known of him. See Crit. Append.

Leptae: Q. Lepta held some minor position under Caesar at this time. Fam. 6.18 and 19 are addressed to him.

sustulimus manus: a gesture of surprise.

invitatu: apparently used nowhere else. Parallel forms, however, as Tyrrell remarks, are involatus (Ep. LXV. 7), reflatus (Att. 12.2.1), itus (Att. 15.5.3).

mi Caesar: cf. mi Pomponi, Ep. X. n

non ... Romano, not with that overworked phrase of ... but in the (hearty) Roman fashion. What the 'overworked phrase' was, or for what purpose Cicero wrote to Caesar concerning Milo, is unknown. Milo wished to be a candidate for the consulship for 52 B.C. , and Cicero may have tried to secure for him Caesar's support, or at least his neutrality. For more Romano, cf. ego te Balbo, cum ad vos proficiscetur, more Romano commendabo, Ep. XXVI. 3. See also Ep. XXIV. 3.

familiam ducit, he leads the profession, sc. as concerns memory and knowledge of jurisprudence. Trebatius was a special legal adviser of Augustus; cf. Justin. Inst. 2.25.

tribunatum: it was the fashion for young men of good family at Rome to go out to the provinces with the title of tribunus militum. Such men often had neither a taste for a military career nor the intention of adopting it, but desired the political and social prestige which such an experience would give them on their return to Rome (cf. Tac. Agr. 5). Caesar has these military tyros in mind when he says: hic (timor) primum ortus est a tribunis militum praefectis reliquisque, qui ex urbe amicitiae causa Caesarem secuti non magnum in re militari usum habebant, B. G. 1.39.2. Trebatius received the position of tribune from Caesar.

gloriolae: such positions, being purely honorary, indicated little with regard to a man's real merits, but carried a certain distinction along with them. Hence gloriola, not gloria.

de manu in manum: a characteristic of colloquial language is its fondness for concrete phrases in expressing a thought which formal language conveys in abstract phrase's. In such phrases manus is of frequent occurrence. Thus, in the language of everyday life 'generously' is often manu plena (Att. 2.25.1), to be present prae manu esse, i.e. to be on hand (Plaut. Bacch. 623), to assist manum dare, i.e. to lend a hand, etc. Cf. also Otto, Sprichwörter der Redner, p.210.6, Landgraf, 329, Krebs, Antibarbarus under manus.

putidiusculi, something of a bore; cf. pulchellus, Ep. V.10n.

quamquam ... licebit: i.e. although it is scarcely pardonable to take advantage of one who is so generous, by laying upon him such a task as I do in turning Trebatius over completely to your care, yet I feel you will pardon the liberty.

cura ... ama: cf. Ep. XVIII.10n. The generous spirit in which Caesar responded to the request of Cicero is indicated by his reply, the substance of which Cicero quotes in a letter to Quintus (2.13.3): Trebatium quod ad se (i.e. Caesarem) miserim, persalse et humaniter etiam gratias mihi agit; negat enim in tanta multitudine eorum qui una essent quemquam fuisse, qui vadimonium concupere posset.

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hide References (12 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (12):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.21.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 6.18
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 7.6
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 8
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 12.2.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 14.13
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 15.5.3
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 2.25.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 9.7
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 1.39
    • Tacitus, Agricola, 5
    • Plautus, Bacchides, 4.3
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