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Letter XLVIII: ad familiares 8.15

Place of writing unknown; about March 9, 49 B.C.

tuum: opposed to nostro below.

nugax: adjectives in -ax are found relatively much more frequently in colloquial Latin; cf., e.g., Plaut. Pers. 410, 421; Capt. 959; Petron. 43; 132. Cicero in his own letters uses only one such adjective, tagax (Att. 6.3.1). In the letters to Cicero we find minax (Fam. 11.3.1); pugnax (Fam. 8.13.1 and 10.31.5); efficax (Fam. 8.10.3); sagax (Fam. 10.23.4), and nugax here.

commorit: for syncopation in the Letters, cf. Intr. 82. The loss of v in the perfect tenses of moveo and its compounds is peculiar, since the lost letter is not the sign of the perfect system but belongs to the stem. Cf. Priscian, 10.3.16 (Keil, 2.508), upon this point.

temperatiorem: cf. hanc, Ep. XLVI.2n.

quid est? nunc tibi, etc., well! do our soldiers, who in the roughest and coldest sort of a country, in the most abominable winter weather, have promenaded through the war, seem to you to have dined on truffles? Caesar crossed the Rubicon Jan.10, 49 B.C. , of the old calendar, but as the time of year was really late autumn, the season was not in itself unfavorable to military operations; but his troops had been obliged to make a difficult passage over the Apennines. In this campaign of two months Caesar had invested northern Italy, and made 30,000 men prisoners of war without a serious engagement. Upon quid est, cf. Intr. 98.

ambulando confecerunt and malis orbiculatis esse pasti look like proverbial expressions. The malum orbicalatum, a fine fruit so named from its shape, was regarded as a great delicacy.

gloriose omnia : sc. facta sunt.

quam sollicitus sum: this MSS. reading need not excite surprise in so colloquial a letter; cf. quam conversa, etc., Ep. XLVI.2n. See also Ter. And. 650, and Spengel on Ter. And. 45.

quae ... pertinet: the failure of Caelius to share in Caesar's glory is explained by nam me, etc.

quae (tibi): with reference to the general statements of the preceding sentence, especially the anxiety of Caelius.

expulisset : sc. Caesar.

id quod: with reference to the expulsion of Pompey from Italy.

nisi si: cf. nisi si, Ep. XIII.1n.

peream si: cf. ne vivam, Ep. IV.4n.

isto: archaic form; cf. Servius on Verg. Aen. 8.423 pro huchocveteres dicere solebant, sicut pro illucillodicimas. See also Intr. 81. In isto the demonstrative particle -c(e) is lacking, as it is in illi below.

discupio , etc., I am dying to see you, etc. Verbs intensified by the addition of dis- belong exclusively to colloquial Latin, and are similar in meaning to those compounded with per- (cf. Intr. 77). Cicero allows such compounds, when not applied to physical matters, only in his more informal writings (cf. discrucio, Att. 14.6.1; dilaudo, Att.4.17.5),but in Latin comedy a considerable list of them is found, — discaveo, discrucio, discupio, disperdo, dispereo, dispudet, distaedet.

quam: not to be regarded as exclamatory (“how many!”), but as intensive; cf. reiecit se in eam flens quam familiariter, Ter. And. 136. We should then consider the phrase elliptical (tam) malta quam (habere possum).

hui : like hem (Ep. XIII. 2) confined to colloquial Latin; cf., e.g., Plaut. Truc. 29; Rud. 154. See also Intr. 92.

ad Alpis versus: the combination ad ... versus occurs in Caesar, Sallust, and Livy, but not in Cicero. Versus is to be taken adverbially with the preposition. It emphasizes the direction.

illi: for illic; see note on isto above.

se ... dant, the Domitii are everywhere going wrong. One Domitius surrendered Corfinium, and another has now let himself be killed, so that Caelius is obliged to make a long march to the Alps in the middle of winter. On se dare, see advoles, Epist. XXV. 4 n.

Venere prognatus: i.e. Caesar, who claimed to be descended from Venus.

Psacade natus: i.e. Bellienus. Psacas (Ψακάς) means a crumb, morsel, or anything insignificant. Psacade natus would therefore mean the son of a nobody, and is coined by Caelius to offset Venere prognatus. He wishes that Caesar had shown as much sternness in putting Domitius Ahenobarbus to death after the capture of Corfinium as Bellienus had shown in the case of the other Domitius.

f. s. d.: for filio salutem dices; cf. nos diliges, Ep. XVIII. (end) n. and Intr. 62. The admiration which Caelius felt for Caesar, and his enthusiasm for the latter's brilliant campaign, give to the letter an extravagant and unconventional tone, which naturally finds expression in the use of colloquial and archaic words and phrases. Cf. the notes on nugax, commorit, ambulando confecerunt, malis orbiculatis, etc., quam sollicitus sum, nisi si, peream si, isto, illi, discupio, quam multa, hui, and se ... dant. The style of the letter confirms the judgment of Tacitus in regard to Caelius (Dial. 21): Sordes autem illae verborum et hians compositio et inconditi sensus redolent antiquitatem, nec quemquam adeo antiquarium puta ut Caelium ex ea parte laudet qua antiquus est.

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49 BC (2)
hide References (13 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (13):
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 10.23.4
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 11.3.1
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 8.10.3
    • Cicero, Letters to his Friends, 8.13.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 14.6.1
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 6.3.1
    • Plautus, Persa, 3.3
    • Plautus, Rudens, 1.2
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 8.423
    • Plautus, Captivi, 5.2
    • Plautus, Truculentus, 1.1
    • Terence, Andria, 1.1
    • Terence, Andria, 4.1
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