Living With Dictatorship
Living With Dictatorship
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter begins with a discussion of Cicero's return to Italy. It then discusses his composition of his survey of past and present orators, dedicated to Brutus; his attitude towards Caesar's dictatorship, the pro Marcello and pro Ligario, his philosophical retirement, and the climax of the dictatorship.
THE RETURN TO ITALY
THE thirty‐eighth chapter of Plutarch's Cicero, which deals with Cicero's stay in Greece and presence with the Pompeian army, is remarkable for being largely composed on the basis of Ciceronian jokes, all of them bitter, none very funny—the exception is an anecdote about Cato, who criticized him for uselessly abandoning his neutrality.1 This indicates the paucity of other material about this period of Cicero's life. There is no correspondence from the latter part of 49, which can be in part explained by his living with Atticus and in part by fears over the security of letters. We do not know how soon Cicero actually attached himself to the Pompeian army. He certainly had no active commission from Pompey—his own decision (Att. 11. 4).2 He may have spent some time with Atticus on his estate in Epirus first, before the arrival of Caesar on the Illyrian shore of the Adriatic on 5 January 48 brought Epirus itself into the front line and hastened Pompey's arrival from Macedonia. At this point Pompey's camp would have offered more security than Atticus' ranch.3 Owing to the lack of intercalation in the calendar, it was still not yet winter.4 A desperate note to Atticus, asking him to look after Cicero's private affairs in Italy, seems to belong to the first half of January and implies that by then Cicero was with Pompey's forces.5
A sprinkling of letters follows. In one Cicero's excuse for not writing more frequently is that he had nothing worth saying, inasmuch as he did not approve of events and Pompeian policies (Att. 11. 4). It was also difficult (p.302) both to find suitable carriers and to get letters through without their being intercepted.6 In spite of receiving an inheritance Cicero had money problems both in Illyricum and back in Italy. Although he soon moved half of the 2,200,000 sesterces he had deposited at Ephesus, by midsummer it seems that it had largely disappeared in a loan to Pompey.7 He was miserable with frustration and anticipation, unlike most of his companions in the Pompeian cause; in the summer he was also ill physically; only the presence of Brutus was a comfort.8 Caelius wrote to him from Italy, expressing disgust at the side he himself had chosen: every one in Italy except the money lenders was now a Pompeian. He promised to secure a Pompeian victory, even if the Pompeians themselves did not want it: Cicero was invited to wait for further news. Meanwhile, Caelius warned prophetically against attempting to defeat a Caesarian army in pitched battle (Fam. 8. 17. 2). This is the last letter from Caelius, evidently written on the eve of his unsuccessful attempt to raise rebellion in southern Italy with Milo, after he had been prevented from proposing laws about debt‐relief in Rome.9 Dolabella, who was with Caesar's forces, wrote to Cicero after Caesar's successes outside Dyrrhachium, begging him, not to desert Pompey immediately, but to refuse to follow him when he retreated from the area.10 It was Caesar who was to retreat from Dyrrhachium but this was only a preliminary to his victory at Pharsalus. On the news of this battle Cicero, who had in fact remained at Dyrrhachium but with the excuse of illness,11 chose to follow Dolabella's advice unambiguously and, after travelling to Patras, where he parted with Quintus and Quintus' son, returned to Italy.12
The first letter to Atticus after Cicero reached Brundisium (Att. 11. 5), usually dated about 4 November on the ground that it is parallel to a dated letter to Terentia (Fam. 14. 12), shows that Atticus and others in Rome already knew about his journey to Italy and were taking thought about his future (Att. 11. 5. 1): they recommended that he should come close to Rome, passing through towns by night (ibid. 2). Cicero was worried both about security of travel for a known Pompeian and the attitude of leading Caesarians to him, should he have succeeded in reaching the neighbourhood of Rome. He wrote to Oppius and Balbus and in a letter of 27 November hoped Atticus would (p.303) enlist the support of Trebonius and Pansa (11. 6. 3). There was some confusion when Antonius believed that, in the light of a letter of Caesar regarding Cato and L. Metellus, he should ban Cicero from Italy until Caesar had investigated his attitude. However, Cicero explained through L. Lamia that he had come in response to an invitation by Caesar sent through Dolabella. In consequence Cicero found himself, like Laelius, to be a named exception in Antonius' edict (11. 7. 2).
Cicero still felt it too embarrassing and uncomfortable to come to Rome and its neighbourhood. His arrival in Italy had sprung from impulse rather than reflection (11. 5. 1); he might have done better to hide himself somewhere in Greece like Sulpicius Rufus.13 He still had his lictors; above all the civil war was not yet over and he felt himself the subject of a whispering campaign among both Pompeians and Caesarians: nor was this paranoia.14 Although he disliked Brundisium (11. 6. 2, 11. 7. 6), the longer he hesitated to place himself more in the public eye, the less confident he became (11. 9. 1). He was particularly reluctant to commit himself openly to the Caesarian side, while the Pompeians in Africa were undefeated (11. 7. 2). This was not through any remaining affection for what had been the republican cause, as he made clear to Atticus in late November 48. He had never regretted leaving the Pompeian army (by this he seems to mean his remaining at Dyrrhachium when Pompey pursued Caesar into Thessaly). ‘There was such cruelty among them, so great was their association with barbarian peoples that they had outlined proscriptions not only of men by name but of whole classes, that it had been established by everyone's judgment that the property of all of you would be the spoils of his (Pompey's) victory. I really mean “of you”, for I realized that they only had the cruellest plans for you yourself’ (11. 6. 2). Atticus is likely to have been a special target because on his return to Italy in 48 he seems to have allied himself closely to the leading Caesarians there, to judge from Cicero's request that Atticus should join with them to write to Caesar on his behalf.15 More generally he was a leading example of the equestrians who had gone over to Caesar in droves in 49.16
By then Cicero knew of Pompey's murder in Egypt and claimed that it did not surprise him: ‘such a despair in his cause had overtaken the minds of all the [sc. barbarian] kings and peoples…I cannot fail to grieve for his fate, for I knew him as an upright, decent, and responsible man’ (Att. 11. 6. 5). In this (p.304) bleak obituary Cicero stresses moral virtues rather than political principles and judgement. He has not changed his mind about Pompeian policy. Just as Pompey's non‐Roman allies had helped to turn what might have been a fight for the republic into a projected raid on the propertied classes of Italy, so they had proved true to form in his defeat, sacrificing their leader in pursuit of their own interest. Distrust of foreign allies also helped him later to justify his failure to join the Pompeians in Africa: ‘the res publica was not to be defended by barbarian auxiliary forces from a most treacherous nation, especially against an army with so many victories behind it’.17 Of course a large number of ‘good men’ were there. Cicero hoped that they would in whole or part surrender to Caesar: if they stuck to their cause and were victorious, his own prospects would be disastrous; so would theirs, should they be defeated, but at least their fate would be more honourable.18 Meanwhile Quintus and his son, who had gone to make their peace with Caesar, were taking every opportunity to denounce Cicero both to Caesar and to others.19 Cicero's magnanimous response was to write to Caesar—some time before 8 March 47—saying that Quintus had done nothing to alienate him from Caesar and had not been responsible for his departure to Greece: rather he had followed Cicero (Att. 11. 12. 2).
A LITERARY FAREWELL TO THE REPUBLIC
Cicero finally received an ‘adequately generous letter’ from Caesar in early August 47.20 He waited till September to greet Caesar after his landing in Italy and then left Brundisium for his villa at Tusculum.21 There ‘he resumed good relations with his former friends, his books’, as he wrote to Varro (Fam. 9. 1. 2). It is probably from this time that we can date the composition of his survey of past and present orators, dedicated to Brutus.22 Unlike de Oratore and de Re Publica it is set in the immediate past. Cicero begins with the death of Hortensius in 50—a source of grief at the time, especially because the political (p.305) situation required his wisdom and authority, but now to be regarded as fortunate because he did not see the present state of the res publica when oratory was at a discount and the forum was deprived of speaking of any sophistication. On the other hand, Cicero argues, the potential influence of a good speaker was highlighted at a time when men shut their ears to the advocates of peace through error or fear.23 The parallel with the evocation of L. Crassus in De Oratore book 3 is obvious: the great speaker dies, fortunately for him, on the eve of a disaster for the res publica which arises because oratory has not received the respect that it merits. At the same time Cicero takes the first steps in an interpretation of the civil war, which reappears in his correspondence and his speech for Marcellus (13, 20, 30)—tactful to the aims of both victor and vanquished, but not without plausibility—that it was not caused by greed and ambition but by confusion and mistaken fears. As to Hortensius, Cicero claims that their rivalry did not obstruct his own reputation but added lustre to it through the very competition (Brut. 2–3). This presages how later in the dialogue he will describe at length both the development of Hortensius' career as a parallel to his own and the nature of his oratory, which provided a contrast with the current Atticist tendency and absolved Cicero from discoursing at length on what was special about his own oratory.24
In the mise en scène Cicero portrays himself being visited at home by Atticus and Brutus and thanking them for the comfort they had brought him by encouraging him to resume his earlier studies. Brutus has sent him a letter from Asia,25 while Atticus has given him a copy of his recently produced chronography.26 Atticus asks Cicero to resume a conversation he had begun in his Tusculan villa on the history of oratory, which had arisen from his hearing of Brutus' successful defence of King Deiotarus before Caesar in Asia and his despair at the thought that Brutus would never have a suitable field for his talents (20–2). Brutus comments that the study and practice of oratory is conducive to wisdom, which no one can do without, even amid the greatest (p.306) wars. To which Cicero rejoins approvingly that at the moment all the nobodies think that they have gained or can gain what were once held to be the finest prizes in the community, but no one has been made eloquent by victory (23–4). This sets the tone for the work: admiration for the past is to be mixed with regret for the rift that now separates it from a present dominated by Caesarian arrivistes, while oratory itself is to be set on a pedestal as high as philosophy: indeed the participants take their seats on a lawn next to a statue of Plato (24).
Cicero's discourse anchors itself on his previous work in De Oratore. The praise of oratory, undertaken there by Cicero in his own person and in the personae of Crassus and Antonius,27 is swiftly completed. Oratory is the most difficult art because it is a composite of five arts, each important in itself;28 it was invented in Greece, later than the other arts from the Greek point of view though early in relation to Roman history (Brut. 39 ff., esp. 49). The review of the great Greek orators here (26–52) is more elaborate than Antonius' brief list of Greek models in de Oratore (2. 93–5): like its predecessor, it includes Thucydides (Brut. 29; cf. de Or. 2. 93) but no other historian; the sophists appear as teachers of rhetoric with their opponent Socrates, who is at the same time the founder of both dialectic and ethical philosophy (30–1).29 Finally, Cicero addresses the history of the Roman republic (52 ff.). The catalogue of more or less distinguished orators that follows was perhaps to some extent a compliment to Atticus by imitation. The annotation, however, renders it more than a collection of data.
As soon as Cicero reaches the period for which he has evidence through writings or oral tradition received from his elders, he gives opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the orator concerned and an overall estimate of his ability (the written speeches that the orator has left behind are treated as an important contribution to his reputation).30 The orators are judged both in a judicial and a political context, if the latter is appropriate, and allowance is made to for the type of speaking they practised. Thus Cicero distinguishes a popularis style in oratory, both its more elevated form in the persons of men like the Gracchi and C. Carbo and that used by effective rabble‐rousers;31 although his partisanship for the optimates is obvious, he tries to do justice to (p.307) the abilities of their opponents. In the judicial field he notices the rise of the professional accuser with an aggressive style appropriate to his task—not a career for someone of good breeding.32 At one point he turns aside to point out the orators from the Latin and allied towns of Italy before the Social War (169–70); similarly there were eloquent equestrians from Italy in the period after Sulla (246, 271). The account becomes tedious at times through Cicero's insistence on getting on record every orator he can remember, good, bad, or indifferent. Atticus is made to comment to the effect that in some orators the main quality for their inclusion is that they are dead.33 Cicero's comprehensiveness is perhaps intended to rival Atticus' chronography. The Brutus also, however, has the nature of a multiple funeral laudatio, which is also a laudatio for the Republic.
It is no surprise after De Oratore that L. Crassus and M. Antonius are singled out as the supreme orators of the age before the Social War (138–65) and that Q. Scaevola is associated with them as the best jurisconsult who also had genuine oratorical ability (145–52). As in the earlier dialogue we get the impression of a golden age, one which survived in the persons of C. Cotta and Hortensius during Cicero's earlier years as an orator,34 but had been blighted by the violence begun by the Social War. Cicero's account of his forensic apprenticeship during that period is the more important, because the rest of his surviving writing provides tantalizingly little light on his attitude and conduct then. As we have seen, the letters of early 49 reveal the horror of civil war that the experience of his youth had instilled and his pride over his own abstinence from arms. If his family connections with the Marii allowed him to survive the domination of Cinna, the fate of his mentors Antonius and Scaevola probably allowed him to transfer his allegiance to Sulla with convincing sincerity. However, precisely how he survived the Sullan restoration remains obscure.
In the dialogue Cicero is urged by Brutus and Atticus for a long time to talk about his own career and he gives way to the extent that he discusses Hortensius and himself in parallel (232, 279, 292–7). After a brief appreciation of Hortensius' talents Cicero begins with his own arrival in the Forum in the first year of the Social War (90 BC), when many orators, including Hortensius, were absent on military duty,35 Cotta was in exile, and the only judicial activity was the trials under the lex Varia—the law providing for crimimal charges against those who had abetted the Italian revolt.36 We hear (p.308) of Cicero's apprenticeship to the jurisconsult Scaevola in 89 and his study of philosophy the next year under Philo, at Rome as a refugee from the Academy at Athens owing to Mithridates' invasion of Greece. In 88 Cicero could listen to the contiones of one of his models, the tribune P. Sulpicius, but by the end of the year Sulpicius was dead and this was followed in 87 by the ‘cruel’ deaths of Catulus, Antonius, and C. Iulius Caesar Strabo—Cicero passes over how the first had been ordered by Sulla and the others brought about by Marius and Cinna (305–7). There followed the ‘three years without arms’ under the domination of the Marians. Earlier in the dialogue, when discussing the oratory of Antistius, Cicero referred to this as a period when the res publica was without law and dignity and so Antistius had little competition (227). He now argues that Hortensius was the leading orator, while he himself studied dialectic and practised declamation in Latin and Greek under the Stoic Diodotus (308–10).
The violence when the res publica was recovered caused the deaths (in 82) of Scaevola, C. Carbo, and Antistius.37 However, the return of men like Cotta and Curio and the re‐establishment of law and the courts led to Cicero undertaking both private and public cases, while taking the opportunity to study oratory under Molon, the ambassador from Rhodes (311–12, cf. Ch. IV and App. 1). By focusing on his rhetorical education Cicero keeps the account almost, but not quite, sterile of political implications: in the end it is clear that Sulla did restore the Forum to its former importance—a contrast with the time of writing. As for Cicero himself, the impression is that he carefully remained a neutral spectator in the troubled times, taking advantage of his opportunities for study, until the situation was ripe for entry into forensic practice. This might have seemed an encouraging precedent for a young orator who read the Brutus, if the dialogue did not have the general atmosphere of the end of an era.
Cicero then describes his journey to the East for further study and his return to compete with Hortensius, which led to the successful prosecution of Verres (313–19, cf. Ch. VII). Hortensius' consulship the next year (69 BC) was the beginning of a temporary decline in his powers, ascribed here to luxurious living and a relaxation from study and rhetorical practice (320), while Cicero himself kept up his hard work and created a new, more refined, style of oratory. He defines this by listing the qualities that other orators did not possess: a more thorough study of literature than the average; knowledge of philosophy, Roman law, and history (including the capability of citing (p.309) witnesses from the dead); the ability to use humour against his opponent, to broaden an issue from the particular to the general, to make amusing digressions, to move a judge to anger, grief, or whatever emotion was required (321–2).38 As for Hortensius, Cicero's consulship revived his competitive instinct and for the next twelve years they lived in friendly rivalry, which culminated in their pleading similar cases under the restricted conditions of Pompey's legislation of 52, just as Brutus had himself. If Hortensius was less successful in his old age, it was because the two styles of Asiatic oratory in which he excelled—the one full of elegant and charming constructions, the other a flood of elaborate and recherché language—suited a young man better than an old, from whom something more imposing and authoritative was required. Both their careers, Cicero claims, ended in 50, the one with Hortensius' death, the other with the death of the republic (323–9).
Finally, Cicero turns to the addressee of the dialogue. Brutus had consoled him in a letter, arguing that his past achievements would speak for themselves about him, when he could no longer, and would live when he was dead: Cicero's political policy would be justified by the preservation of the res publica, if things went as they should, if not, by its death. Cicero, however, grieved for Brutus, whose career had been knocked sideways by the impact of politics. ‘I am your supporter; I want you to make best use of your talent. I wish for you a res publica in which you can renew and expand the reputation of two most distinguished families. Yours was the Forum, yours that career…’ (330–1) Cicero goes on to talk of Brutus' rhetorical studies and urges him to continue them in order that he should stand out of the mill of orators (the incomplete end to the dialogue argues that there have never been more than one or two outstanding in any period). On the surface we have a wish for the return of republican politics and the republican law‐courts. However, the two families, that of Brutus' birth and that of his adoption, were the Iunii Bruti, descended from L. Iunius Brutus who was the enemy of tyranny and founder of the republic, and the Servilii, among whom had been Ahala, the assassin of the would‐be tyrant Maelius. Brutus had placed both L. Brutus and Ahala on his coins.39 The cryptic message could be disowned but it must have been obvious, not least to Brutus himself.
The ample correspondence with Atticus during Cicero's dictatorship, though it occasionally contains allusions to current politics, is largely void of political comment: instead it is centred on Cicero's private life and his studies. Cicero's attitude to Caesar's dictatorship emerges more clearly from letters to his friends. A number of themes recur—consolation for their present fortunes, reflection on the civil war, Cicero's attitude to the new regime, which ranged from resignation to exasperation, and the new life he has adopted.
Even before his return to the neighbourhood of Rome he wrote to C. Cassius, who had now returned to Italy after making his peace with Caesar in the aftermath of Pharsalus, recalling the conversations that they had at the outbreak of the civil war. They both had hoped that one battle would decide the issue: in that event, Cicero thought, the remains of the republic could be put together again. Unfortunately Caesar's delay in Alexandria had recreated hope among the Pompeians (Fam. 15. 15. 1–2). Cicero wrote to Varro near the end of 47 about his return to Rome and the resumption of his studies (Fam. 9. 1); a number of letters followed the following year. In these he lamented the suspicions that still surrounded former Pompeians like Varro and himself: the exultant victors treated them as beaten men, those who grieved over the Pompeian defeat were annoyed that they were still alive (9. 2. 2). At the time of this letter (April 46) the news of Caesar's victory over the Pompeians in Africa at Thapsus had just arrived: Cicero was embarrassed at the thought of taking the usual spring holiday in Campania (9. 2. 1, cf. 9. 3, 1). An earlier letter to Atticus refers to various dubious rumours about the conduct of the war. Cicero comments: ‘Meanwhile there are games at Praeneste. Hirtius is there and all that lot. And indeed the games are eight days. What dinners, what entertainments! Meanwhile the issue has perhaps been decided. Amazing men! Yet Balbus is building: what does he care?’40 The Caesarians had been so confident that they celebrated even before the victory. Cicero now advised Varro to keep his head down until the fervour of mutual congratulation among the Caesarians had cooled off (Fam. 9. 2. 4). Yet he regularly dined with the new rulers (Fam. 9. 7. 1).
In a later letter to Varro, written on the eve of Caesar's return from Africa in late June, Cicero returns to the civil war in Greece. He says that he realized that the Pompeians wanted war, while Caesar did not so much desire it as have no fear of it. Hence one side was bound to suffer calamitous defeat and the other side the greatest of evils, victory in civil war. The last was also true of (p.311) the Pompeians who were making the direst threats even to those who wanted peace like Varro and himself.41 A more studied piece of self‐justification is to be found in a letter to M. Marius (Fam. 7. 3). Cicero begins with their meeting at his Pompeian villa on 12 May 49—at the time when he was offered command of the garrison of Pompeii.42 His self‐respect had then driven him to decide to join Pompey. In Greece he was so revolted at the bloodthirstiness and the rapacity of the Pompeians, especially in the light of their debts, that he shuddered at the thought of their victory. ‘There was nothing good except the cause’. Accordingly, he first tried to persuade Pompey to make peace and then to draw out the war. Unfortunately, success at Dyrrhachium gave Pompey confidence in his army and henceforward he was no commander. After Pharsalus Cicero could not contemplate war further; exile was preferable to the risks of continued fighting, but Cicero chose rather to be at home with his own family in order to live, if any form of res publica returned, as in his fatherland, if not, as in exile.43
The letters to Papirius Paetus reveal how Cicero is learning to live with the present. In one probably written before Caesar's return from Africa, a response to Paetus' concern that Cicero may have caused offence in Caesarian circles, Cicero reassures him about his own popularity among Caesar's friends.44 ‘As for the man, in whose power is all power, I see nothing to fear, except that everything is insecure, once the rule of law has been abandoned, nor can the future nature of anything be guaranteed, which depends on another's will, not to say, whim.’45 Cicero encapsulates the revolution that had struck the aristocracy of the republic. Formerly, allowing for foreign enemies, dangerous political opponents like Clodius, and natural mortality, they had a secure dominance of the world—otium cum dignitate indeed. Now they were always looking over their shoulders, as the new aristocracy was to do under the Principate. Like them, Cicero had to watch his tongue. His reputation for humour meant that a number of witticisms were being attributed to him. If he disowned them, it was at the cost of losing that reputation, which he was happy to do, if he could. Fortunately, he was told that Caesar (p.312) had a critical ear for what was Ciceronian and non‐Ciceronian, thanks to the way Cicero's Caesarian friends were ordered to relay to Caesar any good remarks that Cicero made at parties (Fam. 9. 16. 3–4). All he could do was to avoid stupid or imprudent remarks: he could not guarantee what might be reported to Caesar as his, or Caesar's reception of what he heard, or the good faith of the Caesarians with whom he spent his time. Greek histories were full of stories of how philosophers managed to live under tyrants at Athens and Syracuse. He could surely expect to maintain his status without giving offence.46
In a lighter mood Cicero jokes about the declamation lessons he had been giving to Hirtius and Dolabella, while receiving in return lessons in eating dinners. In this he was rivalling the epicure Paetus.47 He compared himself in his next letter of late July to the tyrant of Syracuse Dionysius II, who in exile had become a schoolmaster. It was a protection against the present political climate. The alternative was death—at least in one's bed. The deaths of Pompey, Lentulus Crus, Afranius, and Scipio had been filthy. Cato's suicide had been glorious. That was still open to him, if he wanted, but he was taking measures to make it unnecessary. The second advantage of the declamation school was that he was regaining fitness and renewing his rhetorical ability by exercises. The final one was the new style of eating.48
He made a general defence of the dignity of this sort of teaching in his work on the ideal orator (Orator), which he composed after the Brutus and Atticus was reading before the end of the year.49 His day, as portrayed to Paetus, began in the morning with the customary greetings (salutatio) from gloomy ‘good men’ and cheerful Caesarians; he then wrapped himself in his studies, reading or writing.; next came his classes; after that he devoted the rest of the time to his body (Fam. 9. 20. 2–3).50 His interest in good food led to a new friendship with Volumnius Eutrapelus, whose freedwoman, the actress Volumnia Cytheris, had been travelling around as Antonius' mistress in 49: he actually dined in their company towards the end of 46 and felt no shame.51 His one surviving letter to Volumnius reassures him for missing his declamations, apologizes for his present preoccupations, and promises that, once these are (p.313) over, he will say goodbye to Forum and Senate‐House and devote himself to the delights of literature with Volumnius and their fellow devotees like Cassius and Dolabella.52
Cicero had not, however, lost all contact with politics. The death of Cato led him to write an obituary memoir. His problem was that it was difficult to write anything acceptable to the Caesarians, whether he gave a detailed account of Cato's expressed views and political policy or he simply wrote a trite panegyric of his high principle and constancy. Cicero believed that justice could not be done unless the memoir were sufficiently elaborate, because Cato foresaw the present regime and its likely development, strove to prevent it, and finally died to escape seeing it in place. He was pleased with what he eventually produced (Att. 12. 4. 2, 12. 5. 2). According to Plutarch, Caesar treated the author with respect in the reply he composed, the Anticato (Cic. 39. 5). Cicero must have somehow managed a denunciation both of the corruption that characterized the last years of the Republic and of its overthrow by violence, without pinning the blame exclusively on the Caesarians. Some idea about how this was done can be gleaned from considering the speech he produced about the recall of Marcus Marcellus, which was delivered in the senate in September or October and probably circulated by Cicero soon afterwards.
HELPING FRIENDS: THE PRO MARCELLO AND PRO LIGARIO
Cicero wrote conciliatory letters to Marcellus some time before the debate, in which he pointed to their shared distrust in the Pompeian cause, once it became a question of war. Marcellus was right to retire, as he had after Pharsalus, to exile in Greece, but it was time now to put an end to it, as his friends under the leadership of his cousin Gaius were pressing for his recall: Cicero himself was not in a strong enough position to plead with Caesar, but he was lending his support (Fam. 4. 7, cf. 9). The senate meeting itself is described in a letter to Servius Sulpicius Rufus, who had recently accepted from Caesar the position of proconsul of Achaia.53 For Cicero it is the first time since men had begun to settle constitutional problems by violence that (p.314) anything had been done ‘with dignity’. He describes how, when the matter had been raised by Caesar's father‐in‐law L. Piso and C. Marcellus had thrown himself at Caesar's feet, the whole senate rose and approached Caesar as suppliants (Fam. 4. 4. 3). In reply, Caesar spoke of Marcellus' bitterness and compared him unfavourably with his consular colleague Sulpicius. He reached, however, the unexpected conclusion that he would not deny the senate's request in spite of the bad omen (for the senate's future attitude to him).
Cato would have questioned the term ‘dignity’, when applied to this senate debate, but the day seemed to Cicero ‘so beautiful that I seemed to see some sort of vision (species) of a res publica that was, as it were, breathing again.’ All the consulars asked their opinion on the decision before Cicero thanked Caesar, apart from Volcacius Tullus (ibid. 4).54 Cicero then decided to change his policy of remaining silent in the senate and thanked Caesar at length. He was afraid that this might have brought to an end his policy of respectable retirement (honestum otium), but was pleased that he had avoided giving offence to Caesar, who might have thought Cicero's silence an indication that he thought that there was no res publica. Nevertheless, he intended only to involve himself in public life within strict limits, so that he could satisfy both Caesar and his studies. Caesar was the only good thing in public life in Rome; for the rest, Sulpicius did better to hear of this by report than see it with his own eyes (ibid. 4–5).55 Cicero writes in similar terms to Cornificius, who was at that time governing Syria, and goes on to talk of his thick skin when he saw Titus Plancus at Caesar's games and heard what was said in the plays of Laberius, an eques who was forced to appear on the stage,56 and of Publilius Syrus (Fam. 12. 18. 2).
There is no reason to doubt the presentation of the senate debate in the letter to Sulpicius Rufus. Caesar's response was not predictable. If it had been negative, Cicero would have remained silent. His ability to improvise what was no doubt a polished speech was once more in evidence, made easier by the fact that he had already rehearsed many of the themes in previous writing (see below). As for the speech that he circulated, this must have borne some relation to what he said at the time but have been composed ex post facto, and (p.315) Cicero would have taken the opportunity to improve it further. Since Cicero's aim in speaking was to find an acceptable position for himself in relation to Caesar (Fam. 4. 4. 4), an early circulation was desirable.57 What we possess in our manuscripts goes beyond thanks to Caesar over this issue, becoming an apologetic reflection on the civil war and a speech of advice to a ruler.58
In the prooemium we find the same self‐justification that Cicero gave to Sulpicius: he has broken silence because Caesar has subordinated his own feelings to the authority of the senate (1–3). Cicero then contrasts Caesar's military success, in which he needed the physical support of his forces and, above all, the help of fortune, with the self‐control and forgiveness that Caesar has just displayed (4–12). He claims that there is no force that cannot be weakened or broken by the force of iron (8). This argument is similar to that of Cato's letter to Cicero explaining why he did not support the proposal for a supplicatio for Cicero's success in Cilicia: the exercise of virtue is superior to military success, which depends of the strength of the army and divine favour.59 Cicero, however, talks not of the gods but fortune (6–7)—appropriately, given Caesar's claim to have a fortune of his own.60
Caesar's decision about Marcellus is then interpreted as confirming a view of the civil war that Cicero has already expressed as his own in the Brutus: it had been undertaken by the majority through ignorance and unsubstantiated fears rather than through greed or cruelty (13).61 Cicero goes on to point out his own continued belief in negotiation and his despair that ‘not only peace but the speeches of citizens demanding peace were rejected’ (14)—another echo of sentiments in the Brutus (7): he had never joined an army in civil war; his adherence to Pompey was through private, not public duty; he had spoken for peace before the civil war and continued to do so during it.62 That his support for Pompey was through personal loyalty is attested by a number of texts in the letters.63 Similarly, when he goes on to contrast Caesar's clemency (p.316) with the Pompeian ‘anger’ and threats to all who had not joined them, he is merely making public what he had been saying in letters since before Pompey left for Greece in 49.64 Caesar is urged to keep in mind this clemency and generosity as a form of true wisdom, and this idea generates a transition from gratitude for the past to an appeal for the future, by virtue of which the speech becomes a senator's advice to a supreme magistrate (19 ff.).65
The subject of threats to Caesar's life is delicately broached. Who, Cicero asks, can want Caesar dead? Hardly his old friends, nor those whose lives he has saved and turned from enemies into friends. The safety of everyone depends on Caesar's. It is a cause of fear and sorrow to Cicero that the res publica, which should be immortal, is established in the life of one mortal (21–2). Caesar is briefly recommended to re‐establish civil society—the law‐courts, the soundness of credit (fides), the decency of family life, and the breeding of children (23). We may cynically wonder whether Cicero was seriously expecting Hirtius, Volumnius, and Paetus to cut down on their dinners. However, it was probably true generally that the atmosphere of civil war had led to the search for instant pleasure, and financial uncertainty would not have encouraged the propertied classes to settle down to raise families. The wounds of civil war, Cicero continues, must be healed. For this reason Caesar must not be careless with his own life—at this point Cicero quotes his remark that he had lived long enough for either nature or glory—but continue his policies in order to recreate stability (24–9). The conclusion returns to the theme of the confusion and uncertainty about motives and policies in the civil war. The forgiving commander has won, which should be an argument against further resort to arms and for concord among all sane men. Everyone should now be Caesar's bodyguard; everyone is grateful to Caesar, not least Cicero, both for Marcus Marcellus and himself (30–4).
The question arises how we should treat a speech that at times seems to be outrageous flattery of the dictator, yet by its emphasis on the threat to Caesar's life is interpretable as an invitation to murder Caesar by innuendo? Dyer has argued that the very praise of clemency was intended to arouse indignation among Cicero's senatorial audience, because it pointed to despotism, citing the attitude of Cato (Plut. Cato mi. 66. 1).66 M. Marcellus himself, to judge from the tone of his letter of thanks to Cicero (Fam. 4. 11) also thought that clemency implied servitude. However, a large number of the senators were Caesarians and even pardoned Pompeians were not necessarily so sensitive to indignity, when they considered the alternative. We can compare Cassius' (p.317) remark in a letter of early 45 (Fam. 15. 19. 4). Cicero makes it clear in his letter to Sulpicius Rufus that part of his object was to satisfy Caesar that he believed some form of res publica still existed and was co‐operating with it (Fam. 4. 4. 4); he also thought at the time that Caesar himself was the best thing in a disagreeable regime (ibid. 5).67 He would not, therefore, have been intending positively to advocate tyrannicide either in the original debate or in a speech circulated in the aftermath of the event.68
The comment that there was no force that could not be weakened or broken by the force of iron was a conventional sentiment, if anything a warning against relying on force rather than conciliation, not a threat from Cicero (8). As a sentiment, it can be linked with Cicero's call to restore the rule of law (23): they are both pleas for a restoration of a genuine res publica. The repeated allegation that the civil war was an unfortunate mistake (13, 20, 30) is also an argument that at bottom there was nothing wrong with the old system. Cicero argues that this restoration (23, 29) is the reason for which Caesar himself and all around him must work to preserve his life. He carefully does not say that, if Caesar does not fulfil this function, his life does not matter. The speech was probably produced more in hope than expectation, but in any case it had at the time of its production the function of expressing an attitude to Caesar's dictatorship to which Caesar could not reasonably object, even if he did suspect it. By the same token it would have contributed to Cicero's good relations with the friends of Caesar whom he was cultivating. This would have been helpful in the efforts he was making to secure pardon or reinstatement into Roman society for Pompeian friends.
At the time he delivered pro Marcello Cicero had probably already decided to approach Caesar on behalf of his friend Q. Ligarius. He had been left to govern Africa when a legatus of Considius Longus in 50, had joined the Pompeian side there, and after Thapsus had been spared by Caesar but apparently not permitted to return to Italy.69 Cicero promised Ligarius to help his brothers in their efforts to get him recalled, offering ‘the ghost of my former standing (dignitas) and the remains of my influence’.70 In a later letter he talks of coming to Caesar on the morning of 26 November with Ligarius' brothers, ‘withstanding all the indignity and unpleasantness of approaching him and addressing him, with Ligarius' brothers and kinsmen lying at his (Caesar's) feet’. He had made a speech to fit the case and circumstances and (p.318) was pleased with Caesar's friendly words and expression (Fam. 6. 14. 2). However, Ligarius was then accused of treason by Q. Aelius Tubero, a former Pompeian71 in a trial which seems to have taken place before Caesar in the Forum (Lig. 6)—evidently an ad hoc procedure, not a trial before the established tribunal for treason, the quaestio de maiestate, in which Caesar could have no place. The point of Tubero's accusation was that Ligarius had sided with an enemy of Rome, King Juba.72 Pansa, who spoke first for the defendant, admitted that Ligarius had been involved in the African war (Lig. 1), which left Cicero only room to make a plea for mercy (deprecatio). According to Plutarch, Caesar is supposed to have said to his friends who were assessors, ‘What prevents us spending some time listening to Cicero speaking, since it has been established long ago that the man is criminal and an enemy?’, but was then so moved by Cicero's speech that he acquitted.73 Cicero was therefore pleading for someone who on his own advocate's admission had sided with a foreign king against a Roman magistrate.
Cicero first describes carefully how Ligarius happened to be in Africa at the time of the civil war, but leaves somewhat vague, attributing it to necessity, how he came to stay there when P. Attius Varus came and on his own authority seized command of the province. He passes over the fact that Varus had prevented Tubero's father Lucius, then the Pompeian appointee, and Tubero himself from landing.74 At this delicate point Cicero digresses into a eulogy of Caesar's clemency towards himself (6–8), after he had joined the same side as Ligarius.75 This is then developed into an attack on Tubero's accusation (10–19). Caesar's clemency should not inspire cruelty from those he had pardoned. Tubero is accusing some one who has admitted his guilt, someone whose case for pardon is somewhat better than Tubero's own. The man is already in exile, so Tubero can be only intending to get him executed.76 No one had ever tried that even at the time of the Sullan proscriptions, those cruel actions for which Caesar himself had at last taken revenge.77 It was not as if Tubero were trying to refute a dubious defence which Cicero was using to obtain Ligarius' pardon, he was telling Caesar not to pardon (16). Furthermore, he called adherence to the Pompeian cause a crime. This brings Cicero back to a theme of the pro Marcello that the resort to civil war sprang from (p.319) error and fear78—or at worst from hope, greed, hatred, and obstinacy (17–19). In any case a weakness sent by fate had overtaken men's minds.79 Just as Caesar was protecting his dignitas, so were the Pompeians—Cicero had already argued this to Caesar in a letter of 49 (Att. 9. 11A. 2). It was a dispute between citizens, not a war against the res publica by enemies who wanted its destruction.
After arguing from Caesar's clemency, the inappropriateness of Tubero as a prosecutor, and the nature of the civil war, Cicero now compared his client's conduct with that of his prosecutor's father, suggesting, more than a little ingenuously, that it had been no easier for Ligarius to leave Africa than for L. Tubero to disobey his commission from the senate to take over the province. As for their being excluded, it was not Ligarius who was responsible, it was Varus. What had the two Tuberones then done? They went to complain to Pompey, whose partisans Varus and King Juba claimed to be (20–7). Cicero is happy to accept that Africa was a threat, ‘the citadel of all the provinces, created for making war against this city’ (22), and stress the influence of Juba, a most powerful enemy of Caesar's cause, and that of the Roman citizens in Africa (24).80 This implicitly excuses Ligarius by suggesting that he was no longer free to follow his own inclination. In Macedonia, Cicero continues, the Tuberones received no satisfaction for their expulsion from Africa; they nevertheless remained with the Pompeian army, not because they believed in the cause, but because they wanted to be on the winning side when a fight was inevitable (25–8). The orator makes no comparison with Ligarius here, he suggests it by implication: the Tuberones remained Pompeian by choice.
The peroration is relatively long. Cicero claims that he is not pleading this case as he would before a judge but asking for pardon as from a parent. Pardon will be welcome among Caesar's own friends but also among Ligarius' family and connections in Sabine territory who—like most of municipal Italy—had gone over to Caesar's side in 49 (32–6). The final comparison is with M. Marcellus. Caesar had achieved glory by conceding his life to the senate; he should win similar glory with the people by showing mercy to Ligarius (37–8). The pro Ligario is in more than one way a pendant to pro Marcello and Cicero had a similar interest in publishing it—to stake out openly his relationship to Caesar. We know that it was in circulation in June of 45: Oppius and Balbus were so pleased about it that they sent it to Caesar (Att. 13. 19. 2, 13. 20. 2).
(p.320) Another beneficiary of Cicero's pleas was T. Ampius Balbus, a diehard Pompeian whom the Caesarians called ‘the trumpet of the civil war’ (Fam. 6. 12. 3).81 From what Cicero says, it appears that he made a formal plea before Caesar, in which he was greatly helped by Cicero's friendships with Hirtius, Pansa, Balbus, Oppius, Matius, and Rabirius Postumus. The pleas of Ampius' kinsman Tillius Cimber were also effective. Cicero tries to minimise, when writing to Ampius, any humiliation that might have been involved. He pleaded the case ‘more frankly than his circumstances permitted’. He had not used any method that he would not have used for himself. He had not made himself a slave to the situation: his connections with the leading Caesarians were longstanding—that is, not a product of toadying to the victors (ibid. 1–2). The letter implies that Ampius was still truculent and uneasy about Caesar's clemency. He needed reassurance, in particular that he would get a diploma, a warrant entitling him to travel at public expense. Cicero had not offered him much hope before and consoled him on his fortitude in exile. He now urged him to show the virtue he commemorated in his historical writing, although the need for it would be less when he returned (ibid. 3–5). Three letters to an otherwise unknown exile Trebianus suggest a similar story to that of Ampius. The first two letters promise help, finding encouragement in Caesar's tendency to be more equitable, the likely revival of the res publica, and Cicero's own good relations with Caesar's friends and, to an extent, the man himself (Fam. 6. 10a. 2, 6. 10b. 2). A later letter (6. 11), perhaps to be dated in June of 45,82 shows that Trebianus had obtained his repatriation, thanks to help from Dolabella.
In fact pleading with Caesar was an inevitably humiliating business for a consular. After Caesar's murder Cicero was told an anecdote by Matius about the time when Cicero approached Caesar on behalf of Sestius (Att. 14. 1. 2)—an event that cannot be precisely dated during Caesar's stays in Rome.83 Matius must have been in Caesar's council on the occasion, as he probably had been for the case of Ampius. Cicero was sitting waiting outside the room used for the audience and Caesar commented, ‘Should I be in any doubt that I am supremely hated, when Marcus Cicero is sitting and cannot meet me at his own convenience? Yet if anyone is easygoing, he is. Nonetheless I have no doubts that he really hates me.’ The anecdote illustrates how it had been a characteristic of the republic that any of the leading men (principes) would (p.321) normally make themselves available immediately to those of similar status. Now Cicero was in a similar situation to someone who in the present era wants to see the chief executive of a major company and has to wait in an ante‐room.
To his old friend Aulus Caecina, however, Cicero could offer no more than consolation and assistance in his exile.84 In a letter written shortly after the pro Marcello he is still optimistic, remembering with gratitude how Caecina, an expert on Etruscan augury, had apparently forecast Cicero's recall from exile (Fam. 6. 6. 2). Here he refers to his own expulsion in 58 as a preliminary to an attempt to overthrow the republic. With similar precision to Caecina's, Cicero had predicted the disastrous consequences of Pompey's alliance with Caesar: the alliance broke the power of the senate, the divorce stirred up civil war (ibid. 3). Apart from prediction Cicero had offered good advice to both parties. His recall of his efforts to secure peace seems to be not quite accurate. He certainly did not urge Pompey to go to Spain, as he maintains here,85 though of course this formed part of the terms Caesar sent to Capua after the outbreak (Fam. 16. 12. 3). As for his struggle for the acceptance of Caesar's right to stand in absence for the consulship, this might have been part of the package that he was trying to negotiate in the first week in 49: he seems to be suggesting something of this sort in his letter to Caesar in March.86 However, his letters of 50, while they show his own acceptance of this right, show no evidence that he was insisting on it with others.87 The account of the civil war is one familiar to us. He had tried to remain neutral but eventually self‐respect got the better of fear and he had left Italy to join Pompey; he had predicted all the disasters (Fam. 6. 6. 6).
Having established his augural credentials Cicero goes on to prophesy that Caesar, although he has been unmoved by Caecina's pleas so far, will in time give way. He is naturally mild and clement, as Caecina's book of ‘Complaints’ makes clear, and, although so far he has been angry at the criticisms there, will soon absorb the praises. He will also be strongly influenced by a united Etruria, in whose aristocracy, as in that of Italy as a whole, Caecina is so (p.322) distinguished (ibid. 8–9).88 There was encouragement too in the treatment of Pompeians: they were not treated as criminals. Caesar always referred to Pompey with respect; Cassius had been his legate, Brutus had been made governor of Gaul, Sulpicius Rufus of Greece, while Marcellus, with whom he was most bitter, had been recalled. So had a number of villains, but that should be an argument for helping a good man (ibid. 10–11). Cicero ends by moral encouragement and assuring Caecina that he has promised help to his son, the more valuable because of his influence with Caesar's friends (ibid. 12–13).89 Caecina, for his part, was not mollified but intransigent. In a letter written at the time of Caesar's departure to fight the sons of Pompey in Spain he assumed that everyone was hoping for Caesar's defeat (Fam. 6. 7. 2). So far from obtaining his return, Cicero had to work hard to get him support on a business journey to Asia, after he was no longer permitted to stay in Sicily (Fam. 6. 5, 8–9). Similarly, Cicero could do no more than console Aulus Torquatus, who had given him moral support while they had been in Pompey's camp, (Fam. 6. 1–4, esp. 6. 1. 5) and the polymath Nigidius Figulus, who had been at his side in 63.90
One of the most interesting examples of Cicero's patronage was his contact with his one‐time enemy Vatinius. The latter had supported Cicero when in charge of Brundisium in 48–7 (Att. 11. 5. 4, 11. 9. 2), served with Caesar in Africa (Bell. Afr. 10. 1) and in July 45 was proconsul in Illyricum fighting brigands, who perhaps included Pompeian rebels. Vatinius now approached Cicero as a former client, who had been saved by him at this trial, asking him to support his efforts to be rewarded for his successful campaigns (Fam. 5. 9. 1). He expressed dismay over Cicero's request for pardon for a certain Catilius who had been responsible for murder, rape, and devastation and was now on trial. He was prepared to oblige but wished for Cicero's help over a decree of thanksgiving (Fam. 5. 10a). Cicero seems to have done what he asked and was repaid: in particular Vatinius recaptured a runaway slave called Dionysius, whom Cicero had used as a reader (Fam. 5. 9. 2, 5. 11. 3). In the last surviving letter of 5 December 45 we find Vatinius, inspired by receiving the thanksgiving decree, relating a further successful campaign in Dalmatia, which had only been terminated by the cold (5. 10b). More generally, 55 of the 79 letters of commendation collected in book 13 of the Letters to Friends can be assigned to the period of Caesar's dictatorship. They are mostly in favour of businessmen and show that Cicero still had a role as a patron of the equestrian order, whose importance was growing under the new regime.
Towards the end of the year 46 Cicero was already disillusioned once again with the new regime. In one letter to Paetus he mentions the surveying of the land of Veii and Capena, clearly imagining possible land confiscations but claiming philosophical indifference. If Caesar wanted there to be the sort of res publica that he perhaps wanted and they all should hope for, he had no means of achieving it; he had tied himself to so many people. Neither Cicero nor even the ‘princeps’ could foresee the future: Cicero was Caesar's slave and Caesar was slave to circumstances (Fam. 9. 17. 2–3). He consulted Paetus about buying a house in Naples and, when the latter was clearly surprised that Cicero could abandon most of his life at Rome, referring to the behaviour of senior statesmen like Catulus—presumably the consul of 78, who remained active in the sixties BC—Cicero replied that he himself had not wanted to be too long away from his post as watchman over the res publica then. ‘I was sitting at the stern and holding the tiller, but now I have hardly a place in the bilge. Do you think that there will be any fewer decrees of the senate, if I am at Naples? When I am at Rome and a regular visitor to the forum, decrees of the senate are drafted at the home of your devotee, my friend; and indeed, when it occurs to him, I am put down as present at the drafting and I hear that a decree has been transmitted to Armenia and Syria, which is said to have been passed on my motion, before the matter has been raised for discussion in the first place.’ Cicero has been thanked by foreign kings totally unknown to him for proposing that they should be recognized as kings by the Romans (Fam. 9. 15. 4). The forger of decrees was probably Balbus,91 but the ultimate responsibility must rest with Caesar himself. In a note to Atticus shortly before Caesar's departure to fight Pompey's sons, Cicero wonders if he will hold the elections in the Campus or, in defiance of the constitution, in Spain (Att. 12. 8).
While Caecina hoped for a Pompeian victory in Spain, Cicero was uncommitted. Writing to Torquatus, he commented that the size and training of forces on either side made the result unpredictable. However, he also remarked that the general attitude in Italy was that, although there was some difference between the causes on either side, there would not be much difference in the result of victory for either side. People knew about Caesar; as for the young Gnaeus Pompeius, everyone was thinking how terrifying a victorious army with a grudge would be (Fam. 6. 4. 1). About the end of (p.324) the year Cicero was exchanging letters with C. Cassius, the later tyrannicide. He refers briefly to the lack of news from Spain (15. 18. 2, 15. 17. 3), but his main object seems to be to make fun of Cassius' new adherence to Epicureanism, with references to current events. Humour, he writes in one letter, is the only relief from their troubles. ‘Where, you will say, is philosophy? Yours is in the kitchen, mine is harassing me; for I am ashamed to be a slave’ (Fam. 15. 18. 1). In another he refers to the death of his former client, P. Sulla. ‘Some said it was brigands, others over‐eating.’ Cassius, he suggests, would bear his death philosophically, although they had lost the ‘face of the city’. Caesar would miss his bidding in the auctions of the property of the proscribed. Pansa, however, who had just set out for Spain with good wishes from everyone (30 December), illustrated how virtue should be pursued for its own sake (Fam. 15. 17. 2–3). By the third letter Cicero has nothing to say about politics but jokes about Epicurean theories of sense‐perception, especially as they were propounded by a certain Catius (15. 16. 1–2).
Cassius replied from Brundisium that for every Catius he could hurl back quantities of insensitive practitioners of Stoicism. As for Epicurean ethics, while it was difficult to convince men that what was morally good should be chosen for its own sake, it was both true and probable that pleasure and freedom from pain were achieved by virtue, justice, and by morally good behaviour. This was why an Epicurean like Pansa was virtuous. ‘For this reason Sulla (Cassius now becomes jocular too) amidst the disagreement of philosophers did not ask what was the good, but bought up all the goods.’ He had borne bravely the news of Sulla's death, but Caesar would soon find substitutes for him. Cassius now begged for further news from Spain. ‘Damned if am not worried and prefer to have an old and clement master rather than try a new and cruel one. You know what an idiot Gnaeus is; you know how he thinks cruelty a virtue; you know how he thinks that we have always despised him; I am afraid that he may crudely want to take reprisal with a sword’ (15. 19. 1–4).
For most of the following year Cicero's writings shed little light on politics. In the midst of his disillusionment the death of his daughter Tullia, shortly after she gave birth to a son to Dolabella (by now divorced from her) cast him into deeper despair.92 As he said in his reply to the letter of consolation Servius Sulpicius sent him, Tullia had been the one consolation he had, after abandoning through distaste his forensic life and the senate house; now she was gone, he could not take refuge in public affairs.93 Atticus even (p.325) assumed that he would not be interested in news from Spain (Att. 12. 23. 1). When he received news from Hirtius about the Caesarian victory at Munda and the flight of Pompey's son Sextus from Corduba, he professed little interest.94 The letters also shed little light on his divorce and remarriage, which must have occurred about the end of 46. There is one reference to his new young wife Publilia; when he mentions Terentia, it has something to do with money.95
He was at the time finding it impossible to write a letter of advice to Caesar on the model of those of Aristotle and Theopompus to Alexander, because what it would be honourable to write would not please Caesar. This task had perhaps been suggested by men like Oppius and Balbus as a response to Caesar's praise of him in his Anticato.96 By the end of May he had produced a text, which seems to have showered praise on Caesar's victories and suggested that (on the model of Alexander) he should turn his victorious arms against Parthia, but Caesar's friends, who vetted the draft, suggested so many changes that he was glad to drop it (Att. 13. 27. 1). They seem to have objected to anything that suggested that Caesar's current measures were defective (13. 28. 1–2). One political matter that stirred Cicero's interest came from the more remote past. Brutus had written a Cato, which had in Cicero's view overstressed the contribution of the hero to the debate on the fate of the leading Catilinarians. In fact, Cicero complains, almost all the consulars had spoken in favour of execution. He had chosen Cato's motion because Cato had praised his own contribution in brilliant language. However, Brutus had given him no credit either for detection of the conspiracy or his advocacy of execution, simply calling him ‘the excellent consul’ (Att. 12. 21. 1). It is hardly surprising that in his depression Cicero was so sensitive about his past moment of glory.
He sought positive comfort for Tullia's death by seeking to buy a garden estate, in order to erect a shrine to her there—in fact unsuccessfully.97 Another resource was to write a Consolatio, perhaps in the form of a letter addressed to himself.98 The basic nature of this genre of writing can be seen in the letter that Servius Sulpicius sent him. Servius began by pointing to the misery that fortune had inflicted on ‘us’, that is, the Roman aristocracy by (p.326) depriving them of the position of respect that was as dear to them as their children. What sort of life lay before Tullia? Could she have found a suitable young man for an alliance to raise children, who could maintain the family property, ascend the ladder of public office, and enjoy their freedom in assisting their friends in their affairs (Fam. 4. 5. 2–3)? Servius then appealed to history. When returning from Asia to Greece, he looked at the cities round about the Saronic Gulf, once of considerable importance but now desolate, and meditated on the impermanence of human achievement. Amid the deaths of so many distinguished men and the losses inflicted on the Roman world, was he troubled by the death of one little woman? She had at least enjoyed the republic while it lasted. Finally, he turned philosophical. Cicero, who spent so much time philosophically consoling others, should take his own medicine and by recognizing that his grief would pass overcome it. If the dead had any feelings, Tullia would not want her father to grieve (ibid. 4–6). In his reply Cicero turned back the argument from the fall of the republic: its very collapse made him inconsolable; in this way he was unlike the historical exemplars he cites—previous consular fathers who had lost children (Fam. 4. 6. 1–2).
Such exemplars formed one of the themes of his own, now lost, Consolatio (Div. 2. 22; Tusc. 1. 70). However, much of it was philosophical argument (n. 98 above). Cicero had certainly been returning to philosophy before Tullia's death but this gave him further impetus. He began his series of philosophical works with the Hortensius, of which we only have fragments. It was an invitation (protreptic) to philosophy in the form of a dialogue between Hortensius, Catulus, and Lucullus, set in the latter's luxurious villa99—somewhat ironical in view of Cicero's denunciation of the ‘fish‐tank men’ (piscinarii) in letters of the late 60s.100 The question seems to have been, how a statesman or general should relax. Lucullus advocated reading history (F11–15); Hortensius attacked philosophy (Fin. 1. 2) and presumably advocated reading oratory, while Catulus advocated philosophy: one small book on duty was better than a long speech for the seditious fellow Cornelius, that is, Cicero's pro Cornelio (F 21). However, philosophy was not for women or slaves, who were busy with other tasks (F 89). One wonders whether Tullia would have agreed.
Cicero originally intended to use the same cast for his first philosophical dialogue proper, the Academica, though for Book II the location was Hortensius' villa at Bauli.101 However, we learn from letters to Atticus of late June 45 (p.327) that Cicero became convinced of the inappropriateness of presenting these characters discussing philosophy in a technical way; he then decided to ascribe the dialogue to Cato and Brutus, but finally, on the suggestion of Atticus, transformed it into one between himself and Varro, someone genuinely learned in Academic philosophy, with a further contribution from Atticus.102 Curiously, the book 2 that we possess is from the original draft, which can only have had a limited circulation (Att. 13. 13/14. 1), while the long extract from book 1 is from the revised version. The topic was appropriate for a foundation work—the theory of knowledge. It allowed Cicero to sketch the philosophical tradition in which he worked, that of the Old and New Academy with their relatives, the Peripatos and the Stoa. It also enabled him to defend the value of writing Greek philosophy in Latin and the propriety of coining Latin technical terms (Acad. 1. 10–12, 24–5). However, it becomes clear in the dialogue that theory of knowledge and the appropriate parts of physics and metaphysics are ultimately important as the basis for ethics.
‘Varro’ is portrayed as claiming that he undertakes the study of philosophy in order to acquire a consistent way of life and intellectual pleasure,103 while in his reproduction of Antiochus' attack on New Academic scepticism ‘Lucullus’ asks how the wisdom manifesting itself in a consistent way of life can come into being without a sure basis in perception and knowledge (Acad. 2. 23). In the sketch of the history of the philosophical schools Socrates is praised as the man who brought philosophy down from the obscurities of nature to ordinary life, as well as for the introduction of dialectic and scepticism (Acad. 1. 15–17). Later the chief feature of the difference between the Peripatetics and the Stoic Zeno is said to lie in their treatment of virtue. Theophrastus is said to have stripped virtue of its glory and strength by denying that it was sufficient for happiness (in fact the doctrine of the Nicomachean Ethics),104 while Zeno thought happiness lay in virtue alone (Acad. 1. 35–8).105 At the end of book 2 we find Cicero portraying himself in his own person defending New Academic scepticism against the dogmatism of Antiochus. In the course of this he touches on moral philosophy and argues that scepticism allows him the flexibility to choose a preferred view, in his case (p.328) the Stoic view that moral behaviour was the only good for man, while allowing him some susceptibility to alternative views, even that of Epicurus (Acad. 2. 129 ff., esp.138–41).
The Academica, therefore, are in a number of ways a preparation for Cicero's first major work on ethics, the De Finibus, which Cicero had finished about the time he was revising the Academica (Att. 13. 12. 3, 13. 19. 4). Atticus started to publish both the books, in Cicero's view prematurely, about the end of June (Att. 13. 21a. 1–2). The De Finibus concerned the ultimate purposes in life which acted as standards by which conduct could be chosen and judged (1. 11). In the introduction, addressed to Brutus, which defends his project, Cicero stresses that devotion to philosophy, because of the very nature of philosophy, cannot be half‐hearted (1. 2–3). Furthermore, he once again justifies his writing in Latin: he was not trying to translate the Greek philosophers, except for some passages, but to give support to those whom he approved, with his own judgement and his own organization of their ideas (1. 4–10, esp. 5). Nothing could be more important that the ‘ends’, the ultimate aims of human behaviour, the standards by which all conduct should be judged (1. 11–12). The work consists of three separate dialogues, two of which are set in the late fifties and the third in Cicero's youth: apart from Cicero, the participants had since died (Att. 13. 19. 4). In the first, consisting of books 1 and 2, L. Torquatus, Pompeian praetor of 49, defends Epicureanism in the presence of Cicero and another Pompeian, C. Valerius Triarius, and Cicero replies. In books 3 and 4, Cato, who is portrayed in Lucullus' library at Tusculum ‘surrounded by many Stoic books’ (3. 7), defends Stoicism and Cicero replies.106 In book 5, set in Athens during Cicero's studies in Greece in the early seventies, M. Piso expounds traditional Academic and Peripatetic philosophy, as revived by Antiochus, for the benefit of Cicero's cousin Lucius, with an audience of Cicero, Quintus, and Atticus.
Cicero does his best to make Epicureanism attractive and convincing. His Epicurean friends, especially Atticus, who is portrayed expressing his devotion to Epicurus and his teacher Phaedrus (5. 3, cf. 1. 16), would have complained if he had done otherwise. It was also important to stress the seriousness of the philosophical contest with Epicureanism. Cicero mentions the large number of Epicureans (1. 25, 2. 44) and their devotion: they have his image on their cups and their rings (5. 3). At Athens, following his will, his school celebrated his birthday on the twentieth of each month (2. 101). He concedes that their arguments have the advantage of accessibility and intelligibility, thanks to the (p.329) non‐technical language in which they are couched.107 In his argument Torquatus is made to equate pleasure, something which everyone knows from experience and therefore needs no definition, with absence from pain, from which a policy of virtuous conduct can be derived.108 This, according to another Epicurean, Cassius in the letter discussed above, was why Pansa pursued virtue (Fam. 15. 19. 2).
In Cicero's rebuttal, however, the move from pleasure to absence of pain is seized on as a vulnerable point. Absence of pain is something different and more complex than the simple pursuit of animal pleasure and should not be linked with it (2. 6–26). Nor is pleasure self‐evidently the ultimate end towards which even animals strive: they aim for self‐love and survival (2. 31–4). In fact, it is more plausible to deduce from animal behaviour the old Academic and Peripatetic ideal of living in accordance with nature (2. 34, cf. 40). Furthermore, the avoidance of pain is not self‐evidently an adequate explanation of how people make choices in every situation. Once we accept the existence of the concept of what is honourable (honestum, ∢u ρomicron ⦎ppa ←pha «mbda ⇂omicron ≉), it is far more convincing as the aim of people who act altruistically and patriotically (2. 45–66). People do their duty for its own sake (2. 72); people love their friends for themselves (2. 78–83)—an anticipation of the doctrine of true friendship in the later De Amicitia. This brief summary does not do justice to the passion and the rhetoric that Cicero deploys in expounding his case, which sometimes make the logic of his actual argument obscure.109 It is important too that he does not question the practical morality of his interlocutor: he knows that Torquatus himself did pursue virtue in his friendships and in prosecuting his father's enemy (2. 62, 80). He abhors, however, a theoretical basis that justifies a very different kind of morality, especially in men like Crassus, who pursued his own interest, and Pompey, who refrained from injustice although he could have been unjust with impunity (2. 57).
There is a change of tone in books 3 and 4. As Cicero points out in the introduction, the simplicity of the Epicurean argument facilitated a transparent exposition; the Stoic form of discourse was, however, precise or rather thorny (spinosum) (3. 3). The argument follows naturally from the point that Cicero was arguing at the end of book 2. Cato undertakes to persuade him that there are important differences between the Stoic and Academic views of moral worth as a good, between the conception of it as the only good and as (p.330) the supreme good (3. 10–14).110 There follows an exposition of regular Stoic doctrine—the aim of living in accordance with nature (3. 20 ff.), the equation of the good with what is morally worthy (honestum) and praiseworthy, and hence of the moral life with the happy life, in which the supreme good will be achieved in the mind (3. 26 ff.). The crucial difference between the Stoics and the Peripatetics is the view of the latter that pain is an evil. The Stoics believe that the good man can be happy when tortured on a rack, the Peripatetics not: for the Peripatetics the good things of the body and external goods make a person happier; for the Stoics this is anathema (3. 41–4). Cato then explains the doctrine that, although only moral worth is good and moral evil is bad, certain things are to be promoted in men's estimation, such as health and wealth, and others not, such as illness and poverty (3. 51–4).111 The consequences for conduct are then explored. The wise man performs his duties, including those in the intermediary field between good and evil, that is, those not in themselves conducive to virtue, which are according to nature. This leads on to specific topics: the propriety of suicide in certain circumstances (60–1), the love of children (62), the unity of mankind under divine providence, including those of future generations (63–9), friendship, justice, and truthfulness (70–2).
Cicero begins his reply by criticizing the Stoics for minimizing their dependence on Peripatetic thought (4. 3 ff.) and developing a new and less satisfactory mode of argument, which neglected rhetorical presentation. He then turns to ethics and attacks the limitations that Stoics set on the concept that they inherited of living according to nature: they argued that matters like health and the absence of pain could not be classed as good (only as something to be promoted) and they restricted what was good to the operations of the mind, which took away the moral value of the majority of human choices (4. 14 ff., esp. 23, 27, 40–2). It was not true that everyone except the wise was equally unhappy: there were grades of moral achievement (4. 63–8).
Cicero ends by re‐emphasizing what he has been regularly saying throughout his discourse—that the Stoics had unnecessarily separated themselves from the philosophic tradition in which they worked by insisting on over‐subtle distinctions in terminology and pressing apparently logical argument to implausible conclusion (68 ff.).112 In this he appeals to his now dead friend (p.331) M. Piso (4. 73) and to the arguments he had himself used in the pro Murena, which, he admits, were light‐hearted and designed for the Forum audience (74).113 On the other hand he rejects the tactics of the speech in favour of a subtler attack. Were all moral failings equal? Strings out of tune were indeed equally out of tune, inasmuch as they were out of tune (as a Stoic would argue). However, they were not out of tune equally, and the same was true of moral failings. His final move is to invoke Panaetius' gentler and less thorny mode of argument, which acknowledged his debt to the Academy and the Peripatetics, in response to which Cato is made to acknowledge that the differences between Stoicism and these schools lay more in language than thought (4. 78–80).
In book 5 the tone is more relaxed, the exposition smooth, and the language simpler. The persona of M. Piso undertakes an exposition of the approach of the Old Academy and the Peripatetics, which serves to show both Stoic dependence on their thought and the differences to which Cicero has already drawn attention. It is appropriate that Cicero himself, though present in the dialogue, does not take a leading role, given his criticism of Antiochus' dogmatism in the second book of the Academica. Piso begins with a sketch of the development of Peripatetic philosophy with special attention to its interest in the supreme good (5. 9–14). The old Academics and Peripatetics understood this to be living according to nature, a principle that, he maintains, cannot be reconciled with either pleasure or absence of pain (5. 17–23). Seeking to live according to nature is a natural consequence of our self‐love (27–37). This implies desiring the fullest development of our corporeal and mental faculties, the more distinguished of which are mental, which in turn implies the pursuit of virtue (37–40). We naturally seek to discover our own nature and this provides us with moral education (41–4).
There is nothing wrong in seeking good things for the body, such as beauty, health, and freedom from pain, but mental excellence is superior (46–54). This is cultivated by action, and it is actions that produce virtue (55–60). The actions in question are those of moral worth, which are pursued for their own sake, not for utilitarian reasons, as is shown in men's intuitive reactions to the behaviour of others and their own conduct (61–4). The greatest moral worth is seen in relationships with others—in families, friendships, neighbourhoods, and civic communities, where justice is the product of individual moral worth. These relationships are to be pursued for their own sake, although they are external to the nature of the individual, whose supreme good is the development of his own nature, because they are cultivated through the performance of duties that are the expression of virtue (65–70). (p.332) The goods of the body complete a most happy life, but a happy life can exist without them (71–2).
Piso's exposition ends with remarks on some variations of doctrine and a complaint about the Stoics for stealing Peripatetic ideas and placing them under their own flag (72–4). Cicero then in his dramatic persona contrasts what they have heard with the views of another Peripatetic, Staseas of Naples, who put more weight on good or bad fortune and the good or bad condition of the body. He then raises the problem that, once these are admitted as relevant, the wise man cannot be always happy (75–7). This leads Cicero to expound a slight modification of the Stoic view that virtue is the only good—which, he argues here, has the merit of logical coherence. His own, he admits, is somewhat logically inconsistent, that virtue is so far the supreme good that it completely outweighs any misery: in consequence, the truly wise man with outstanding virtue is always happy (71–95, esp. 91, 95). He ends, nevertheless, by admitting the attractiveness of Piso's presentation (95).
The dialogue finishes with a core of agreement, surrounded by some uncertainty. In a piece of byplay Cicero emphasizes his alignment with the New Academy in so far as he only approves views as probable rather than certainly true (5. 76). Virtue has certainly won over pleasure. However, although the philosopher Cicero would like to believe that virtue is enough for happiness, he cannot ignore external goods. And this of course reflects Cicero the man in 45 BC. He would have liked to have obtained happiness through what, he believed, had been his recent pursuit of virtue, but he was still the victim of his external circumstances.
The immediately succeeding work, the Tusculan Disputations, show him once again gnawing the bone of the problem of happiness (Div. 2. 2). Like the De Finibus, it is dedicated to Brutus and is presented as a suitable rejoinder to the latter's book de Virtute which he had sent to Cicero (Tusc. 1. 1, 5. 1). The work has a setting, the Academy in Cicero's Tusculan villa (2. 9, 3. 7), but no named participants, only an anonymous group of friends (familiares) (1. 7, 2. 9).114 After the introduction in book 1 Cicero begins tackling the problem posed—whether death is an evil—with a brief piece of Socratic dialectic, which soon tires his interlocutor, and he is invited to deliver a discourse (1. 9–17); a similar pattern is followed in subsequent books, the dialectic becoming often almost perfunctory.115 Cicero says that great eloquence is required to for men to desire death or at least not to fear it (1. 117). He saw the books as a form of declamation on philosophy (1. 7), and their (p.333) discourses are more exercises in rhetoric than philosophical exploration. Gelzer rightly points out that this can be justified in the light of the scepticism of the New Academy, which held no assertions to be certain but only more or less probable.116
In book 1 Cicero asserts the immortality of the soul and, without repeating Plato's argumentation, reaches a Platonic conclusion that we only really live after death (esp. 1. 74–5), appealing to Cato as a recent witness. In the next book the question is whether pain is the greatest of evils or indeed an evil at all (2. 14), which Cicero answers from the Stoic position in the negative. In book 3 the topic is sickness (3. 7–9) and Cicero adopts a similar Stoic approach: the only real sickness is sickness of the soul, which can be cured by a form of cognitive therapy, in other words ¡gma Ωega ⋴rphi ⫔o Ωicron ¡gma ⇂upsilon ≉ ða (translated by Cicero as frugalitas) (3. 14 ff., esp. 16). Next he considers whether the wise man is free from any form of mental agitation (≪ ⇂alpha þeta Ωicron ⋴rsigma or perturbatio). After an exposition of Stoic psychology (4. 14 ff.), he makes some concession to the plausibility of the Peripatetic case that a modicum of some passions, such as anger and pity, may be useful (4. 43 ff.), but finally maintains the view that virtuous action is based on reason rather than passion (51 ff.). In the final book he comes back to the question treated in the last book of De Finibus, whether virtue is enough for the happy life (5. 2, 12), but with a different outcome. Here he maintains the strict Stoic position that it is enough, dismissing the counter‐arguments of the Peripatetics (5. 22–31).117
The rigid adherence to Stoic dogma lacks conviction, when compared with the more flexible Academic position he advocated in De finibus, which was in fact that espoused by Brutus in his own treatise (Tusc. 5. 1, 21–2). There is, moreover, an air of unreality about much of this work in spite of the fact that it purports to have a practical purpose—well illustrated by the story of the Carthaginian Academic philosopher Clitomachus (Hasdrubal), who after the destruction of Carthage in 146 sent to the enslaved Carthaginians in Italy a consolatory homily about the wise man not being miserable about the capture of his country (3. 52–4). At one point Cicero admits that philosophy cannot cure the minds of everyone and that this was true of all but a few philosophers. The majority used their teaching to display knowledge rather than as a rule for life; they did not order their life according to reason but were slaves of their desires (2. 11–12). On occasion Cicero leaves philosophy for more conventional wisdom. At the end of book 1 (82 ff.) he talks of the advantages of death over life for many men; the end of book 3 (74 ff.) gives practical (p.334) advice on forms of consolation. In the philosophical works that were to follow, De Natura Deorum and De Divinatione, the sceptical Academic in Cicero returned and the author seems more comfortable in this persona.
THE CLIMAX OF THE DICTATORSHIP
Caesar's long‐awaited return from Spain did not occur until late summer.118 The adulation that followed his final defeat of the Pompeians had been manifest for some time—to Cicero's displeasure. As early as mid‐May he commented on the proposal that Caesar's statue, dedicated to The Unconquered God, should be erected in the temple of Quirinus (near Atticus' house on the Quirinal): ‘I prefer that he should share a temple with Quirinus than with Salus (Safety)’. The story was that Romulus (deified as Quirinus) had been murdered by senators.119 In July Cicero found disagreeable the procession at the games in which Caesar's ivory image was carried.120 In mid‐August he is surprised at a remark of Brutus to Atticus that Caesar was going over to the ‘good men’: ‘where will he find them, unless perchance he hangs himself?’ He then asks about the stemma Atticus had constructed for incorporation in Brutus' ‘Parthenon’, depicting his descent from L. Brutus and Servilius Ahala.121 He refers to Caesar as a king (rex), when discussing how Quintus' son had been denouncing both his father and Cicero for disloyalty, and talks of ‘royal’ shows, when apologizing to Lepta for being unable to get him a job as one of their supervisors: there was no room for Lepta among Caesar's intimates, especially one who would be a beneficiary without making a corresponding contribution to Caesar's welfare (Att. 13. 37. 2–3; Fam. 6. 19. 2). Meanwhile he exchanged compliments with Caesar about their writing. Caesar commented that frequent reading of Cicero's Cato had enriched his own vocabulary, while Brutus' Cato made him think himself eloquent (Att. 13. 46. 2). Cicero for his part had expressed admiration to Oppius and Balbus (p.335) for Caesar's two invectives against Cato, presumably for their rhetorical qualities, and on Atticus' advice expanded them in a letter addressed to Caesar himself, which was vetted by Oppius and Balbus and passed on (Att. 13. 50. 1; Suet. Iul. 56. 5).
Probably not long after Caesar's return he found himself once more defending a Pompeian. It was, however, a rather different trial from that of Ligarius. King Deiotarus of Galatia had been accused by his grandson Castor of plotting to murder Caesar, when Caesar stayed with him on his way from fighting Pharnaces in 47. Deiotarus had been already tried by Caesar at Nicaea in 47—the occasion on which Brutus spoke for him.122 It was perhaps as a result of this trial that Deiotarus lost his tetrarchy over the Galatians.123 Cicero was indebted to him for his friendship and help during his governorship of Cilicia. Deiotarus was not a Roman and therefore unprotected by provocatio, nor would his trial have been limited by the rules governing the treason court (quaestio de maiestate).124 It was held not in the Forum but in camera: Cicero complains about the limitations imposed by speaking between walls of a private house without the background of the buildings surrounding the Forum (Deiot. 5–7).125 Caesar was judging a case in which he was the alleged victim. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the introduction Cicero appeals to his fairness and clemency, especially as Caesar was well known to have borne a grudge against Deiotarus for actually appearing in Pompey's battle line at Pharsalus (Deiot. 7–9).
Cicero links his client with other Pompeians by referring to the ‘widely shared mistake’ (error communis) (Deiot. 10)—a theme of his in the speeches for Marcellus and Ligarius.126 This leads him into a narrative of Deiotarus' participation in the civil war, which, Cicero argues, was affected by the fact that he only heard one side of the story—the ultimate decree against Caesar and the flight of the consuls and senate from Italy—not of Caesar's desire for reconciliation and the conspiracy of ‘certain men’ against his dignity. Above all he was moved by the authority of Pompey who was both his guest‐friend and friend, and this outweighed any connection to Caesar.127 After Pharsalus he changed sides, supporting first Domitius Calvinus, Caesar's appointee in the Asiatic provinces, and Caesar himself in their war against Pharnaces, for which Caesar rewarded him by maintaining his royal title (13–14).128 All this (p.336) is used as an argument from probability against the accusation that Deiotarus then planned to violate the laws of hospitality at his palace at Blucium by having Caesar, although his guest, assassinated by armed men when on the way from bath to dinner (15–17).129
Cicero then turns to the evidence from a royal slave, the doctor Phidippus, asking, if a doctor was involved, why they did not try to poison Caesar (17–18). The story the doctor told was complex. Caesar's fortune saved him first when he did not visit the place appointed for him to receive gifts before dinner. Then the following day, when he had left Deiotarus' palace for a fortress, a further attempt failed, because Caesar decided he would vomit after dinner not in the bath but in his bedroom (19–21). After the failure, Phidippus' brothers were imprisoned, while Phidippus himself was sent with an embassy to Rome. Here he revealed the plot to Castor, whom Caesar was keeping there, presumably as a hostage for Deiotarus' good behaviour (2–3, 21–2). There was an arguably more serious charge: Deiotarus had sent troops to ‘some Caecilius or other’ and imprisoned those who did not want to go. Cicero brushes this aside, pretending ignorance of Caecilius Bassus, the one survivor of the Pompeian cause in the East, still in arms in Syria (ibid. 22–5).130 He similarly dismisses allegations of Deiotarus' alienation from Caesar, including one that he had danced naked, while drunk, when hearing news that Caesar was in trouble in Africa (ibid. 24–8).131 As for Castor, he was over‐enthusiastic for battle, even after Pharsalus, in spite of Cicero's attempt to dissuade him (28–9). Granted, however, that Deiotarus was alienated from Caesar, this was not enough to induce him to commit such a crime. The slave who was source of the evidence had been corrupted to make accusations—a complete violation of Roman tradition. Here Cicero claims that Phidippus had actually tried to escape from Castor and revealed his corruption to Cn. Domitius Calvinus, when Servius Sulpicius Rufus and Titus Manlius Torquatus were dining with him (30–2). Calvinus, Caesar's commander in Asia in 48–47, was among Caesar's assessors.132 So this allegation by Cicero cannot have been totally unfounded.
One particularly delicate allegation is reserved to last. Blesamius, an envoy of Deiotarus, had been briefing the king on Caesar's unpopularity. Caesar was thought to be a tyrant; men were offended at seeing his statue placed among those of the kings; they had not been applauding him. Cicero claims that this was simply city gossip, not in Blesamius' letter, and pointed to Caesar's (p.337) clemency: he did not use violence outside battle; there were no executions, torture, or attacks on households—in other words no proscriptions—the forum was not filled with soldiers. What was one statue more (the most distinguished place was after all the Rostra)? The lack of applause did not matter to Caesar and could be explained by sheer stupefaction—or perhaps the desire to avoid commonplace approbation?133
Cicero devotes his peroration to reconciling Caesar with Deiotarus and takes the opportunity to play with the concept of kingship. Caesar gave everything to Deiotarus, when he granted him the name of king. Deiotarus is content with the title and the reputation he has acquired among Roman commanders, confirmed by decrees of the senate. He even keeps in mind the doctrine of the philosophers that virtues are the only goods and sufficient for the happy life (Cicero manages to slip in here a reference to the major theme of his recent philosophical writing) (35–8). Cicero is working for his friend, but at the same time for all those men Caesar has pardoned who may otherwise worry that their status may be in question (39). Caesar, urges Cicero, should keep in mind two kings. We may wonder who these are: Deiotarus and his potential successor Castor? That would be what Cicero would have said to Caesar, but his audience could not have helped thinking of Caesar himself. Cicero goes on to say that the royal name has always been sanctum at Rome, that of kings who were friends and allies most sacred (sanctissimum) (40). The word sanctum has a double meaning, ‘sacred through respect’ and also ‘forbidden under penalty’. The office of kingship had been under a curse since the beginning of the Republic.134 Cicero's concluding plea, after invoking the loyalty of the royal ambassadors, is that Caesar should remember that his sentence today will either bring disaster on kings or an untarnished reputation and security (41–3).135
The speech had an immediate reputation. Dolabella wanted a copy, and Cicero sent it to him with the deprecation that it was an unimportant case where he was doing a favour to an old friend (Fam. 9. 12. 2). Caesar must have realized what Cicero had been saying to him about the precariousness of kingship but ignored it. In a letter to Atticus written two months after Caesar's murder Cicero remarked that ‘it was less dangerous to speak against that nefarious faction when the tyrant was alive than after his death’ (Att. 14. 17. 6). In December Caesar was prepared to take dinner with Cicero during the Saturnalia holiday (Att. 13. 52). He was travelling with a guard of 2,000 (p.338) soldiers. When Caesar came, they were accommodated in the grounds and the villa was cordoned off. Caesar was still on a regime of emetics and could eat without restraint; he also enjoyed the conversation over dinner. Three extra triclinia were for his entourage, and entertainment was provided for the less important freedmen and slaves—an anticipation of the imperial court. ‘In short’, Cicero told Atticus, ‘we seemed human beings.136 He was not, however, the sort of guest to whom one could say, “Please look in on me again on your return journey.” Once is enough. There was nothing serious in the conversation, but plenty about literature.’ That last remark is revealing. One cannot imagine two Romans of consular rank having dinner under the Republic and never talking about politics, their lifeblood. This too was probably not lost on Caesar.
Cicero's correspondence gives us one last glimpse of Caesar before the Ides of March. In January 44 he wrote to his friend M'. Curius at Patras, reassuring him that he had been commended to the incoming governor Acilius Glabrio and suggesting that there was no reason for him to return to Rome.137 He himself was embarrassed at participating in public affairs.138 An illustration follows (Fam. 7. 30. 1). On 31 December Caesar was planning to hold, in the presence of the consul Q. Fabius Maximus, the election of quaestors in the Campus, a procedure involving the tribal assembly (comitia tributa). Early in the morning with the election beginning, the death of Fabius was announced, his curule chair was removed, and Caesar moved directly to hold an assembly of the military assembly (comitia centuriata), which an hour after midday returned C. Caninius Rebilus as consul suffect for the rest of the year, that is until the following morning. Cicero has fun over this: ‘In Caninius' consulship no one had lunch. However, there was no crime, for he had such marvellous vigilance that he did not sleep throughout his consulship.’ However, he adds, if Curius were at Rome, he would not be able to refrain from weeping: there were countless other things of this kind. Cicero's consolations were philosophy and their mutual friend Atticus (ibid. 2) and, one might add, his surviving importance as patron.
(1) Plut. Cic. 38. 1—probably deriving from a Cato biography, like the story of Cato helping Cicero to escape being killed by Pompey's son and his soldiers when he refused to take command of the Pompeian forces after Pharsalus (ibid. 39. 1–2).
(2) Whether he actually behaved as part of the Pompeian army is uncertain. Note the contrasting claims later in Marc. 14 (not to have joined the Pompeian army but Pompey) and Lig. 9–10 (L. Tubero and I were both in the same army).
(3) Caes. BCiv. 3. 6 for the crossing, ibid. 11–13 on Pompey's journey and 16. 1 on Caesar's march to Buthrotum.
(4) See Caes. BCiv. 3. 9. 8—winter ‘approaching’ when Octavius joined Pompey at Dyrrhachium.
(6) Att. 11. 2. 4, 11. 4a; cf. Fam. 14. 6.
(7) Att. 11. 1. 2, 11. 2. 1–4, 11. 3. 1–3; Fam. 14. 6.
(8) Att. 11. 2. 2–3, 11. 3. 1, 11. 4a. See Fam. 6. 1. 5 for support also from A. Torquatus.
(9) Caes. BCiv. 3. 20–2; Dio 42. 22–5.
(10) Fam. 9. 9. 2–3, cf. Caes. BCiv. 3. 39–53.
(11) For the presence at Dyrrhachium of Varro and Cato also see Div. 1. 68, 2. 114 (the story of the prophecy by the praetor C. Coponius in command of the Rhodian fleet); Fam. 9. 6. 3. The date of Pharsalus comes from the Fasti of Amiternum (Inscr. It. xiii. 2, pp. 190–1, 493).
(12) Att. 11. 5. 4, 11. 9. 2, cf. Plut. Cic. 39. 1–3.
(13) Att. 11. 7. 4; cf. Brut. 156.
(14) Att. 11. 6. 2, 11. 7. 3, 5, 11. 8. 1, 11. 9. 2.
(15) Att. 11. 8. 1, cf. 11. 5. 1 for his joint letters with Caesarians to Cicero, 11. 7. 5 for his pleading Cicero's cause to them. Atticus may also have had a particular quarrel with the Pompeians, when he was in Epirus. Nepos' comment that Atticus did not offend Pompey (Nepos, Att. 7. 2) perhaps leaves unsaid more than it says.
(17) The idea that Curio's expedition to Africa was a war against a successor to the Carthaginians was to be developed in Lucan's Bellum Civile 4. 736–7, 788–93.
(18) Att. 11. 7. 3 of December 47. Cf. Fam. 15. 15. 1–2 for Cicero's opposition to the continuation of the war. Atticus and Cicero received diametrically opposed accounts of the strength of the Pompeians in Africa (Att. 11. 9. 2).
(19) Att. 11. 7. 7, 11, 8. 2, 11. 9. 2, 11. 10. 1, 11. 13. 2, 11. 16. 4, 11. 22. 1.
(20) Fam. 14. 23 to Terentia, of 12 August; Lig. 7.
(21) Plut. Cic. 39. 4–5; Fam. 14. 20; cf. Att. 12. 1.
(23) Brut. 1–7, cf. 21, 157 on the emptiness of the courts and the Forum, where there is no place for Brutus and Servius Sulpicius Rufus.
(24) Brut. 301–4, 317–33. The digression on Atticism is at 284–91. See Douglas, 1966, pp. xiii–xviii. The argument there that Lysias' Atticism was currently in vogue because under Caesar political activity was eclipsed by lawsuits runs counter to Cicero's view that all forms of oratory were at a discount at the time.
(25) Brut. 11–12. The letter is argued by Hendrickson, 1939, to be Brutus' poorly attested De Virtute (cf. Douglas, 1966, p. xi). See Fin. 1. 8, Tusc. 5. 12; Sen. ad Helv. 8. 1, 9. 4–7. Hendrickson compares the references in Seneca to M. Marcellus with that in Brut. 250, arguing that the latter derives from Brutus'work.
(27) De Or. 1. 11. 19, 30–4; 2. 2. 30–8.
(28) Brut. 25. Presumably the five elements of eloquence in Brut. 215 and De Or. 2. 79. In De Or. 1. 16–17 Crassus enumerates six skills.
(29) This is a rather different appreciation from that voiced in De Or. 3. 59–61, that it was Socrates who separated philosophy from oratory by removing it from public life.
(30) On the significance of written speeches, mainly produced after the event, see Brut. 91–4.
(31) C. Carbo and the Gracchi 103–5, 125–6. Contrast 136 (Thorius), 178 (Afella), 223–4 (Cn. Carbo, M. Marius, L. Quinctius, Lollius Palicanus, Saturninus, and Glaucia). Even L. Crassus could deploy popularis diction (165).
(33) Brut. 297, cf. 244, 269 for earlier complaints.
(34) Brut. 189, 203–4, 228–9.
(35) See Phil. 12. 27; Div. 1. 72 for Cicero's own appearances on the battle front.
(36) Brut. 301–4, cf. 228–9 for Hortensius' first speech in 95; GC 136–7 for the lex Varia.
(37) On the orders of the younger Marius, App. BCiv. 1. 88. 403; Vell. 2. 26. 2. In Rosc. Am. 89–90 Cicero treats the massacre of accusatores, including the old man Antistius, in a light‐hearted fashion, an appropriate attitude before a Sullan audience.
(40) Att. 12. 2. 1–2. See SB Att v. 298 for a reassertion of the traditional dating of this letter.
(42) Fam. 7. 3. 1, cf. Att. 10. 16. 4.
(43) Fam. 7. 3. 1–4. See Att. 9. 11. 4 for Cicero anticipating the rapacity of Scipio, Faustus Sulla, and Scribonius Libo in view of their debts; Caes. BCiv. 1. 4. 2 on Lentulus Crus. Cicero also obliquely criticises Pompey for failing to support his search for peace (Fam. 5. 21. 2 of early 46 to Mescinius Rufus and 4. 7. 2 to M. Marcellus).
(44) Fam. 9. 16. 2; cf. 4. 13. 5 (to Nigidius Figulus); 6. 6. 13 (to Caecina); 6. 10a. 2 (to Trebianus); 6. 12. 2 (to Ampius Balbus) 6. 14. 3 (to Ligarius).
(45) Fam. 9. 16. 3. See Fam. 4. 8. 2, 4. 13. 5, 7. 28. 3 for other descriptions of Caesar as the man with supreme power, who controls everything.
(46) Fam. 9. 16. 5–6. Tacitus advocated a similar policy under the Principate (Agric. 42. 4; Ann. 4. 20).
(47) Fam. 9. 16. 7–9. How Epicurean Paetus was philosophically is not quite clear. He was later attending a lecture from an Epicurean philosopher (9. 26. 1, 3), but not taking it very seriously.
(48) Fam. 9. 18. 1–3—about the time of Caesar's return (cf. 1). For the date of this see Bell. Afr. 98.
(49) Or. 142–4; Att. 12. 6a. 1.
(50) There is a similar account in a contemporary letter to Curius, where the salutatio is said to be better attended, because it was unusual for the visitors to see a decent citizen (Fam. 7. 28. 2).
(51) Fam. 9. 26. 1–2, cf. Att. 10. 10. 5; Phil. 2. 58–9.
(52) Fam. 7. 33. This perhaps belongs to the period when the issue of the recall of Marcellus was being raised in the senate (see below).
(53) See Fam. 4. 4. 2, 4. 12. 1 and the letters of recommendation to Sulpicius in his post (Fam. 13. 17–28a).
(54) Of the consulars only Tullus (cos. 66), M'. Lepidus(cos. 66), if alive and present, and L. Caesar (cos. 64) were senior to Cicero by year of office. The dictator probably privileged Piso and C. Marcellus (cos. 50) in the order of speakers because of their kinship with him and their involvement in the petition.
(55) A similar comment in a contemporary letter to Cornificius, the governor of Syria—‘Many things would not please you, things on the other hand which do not even please Caesar himself’ (Fam. 12. 18. 2).
(56) Macr. 2. 7. 4 = Laberius 125 Rib.
(57) Kerkhecker, 2002, 99. Contra Dyer, 1990, 19, 30, who believes in a date in 45 after Caesar's return from Spain. This is necessary for him in order to sustain his interpretation of the speech as an implied advocacy of tyrannicide. One may wonder, however, whether Cicero would consider circulating the speech after the news of Marcellus' murder in Athens at the end of May 45 reached Rome, as this would have appeared tasteless.
(58) Cf. Att. 12. 40. 2, 13. 27. 1, 13. 28. 1 for Cicero's later attempt to write a parallel to Aristotle's letter to Alexander the Great. On the rhetoric of the pro Marcello see Kerkhecker, 2002, with a useful bibliography; Dyer, 1990.
(61) Cf. Marc. 20, 30; Brut. 7.
(65) For Caesar as dictator rei publicae constituendae see CRR 113 n. 88.
(67) Cf. Fam. 9. 17. 2 to Paetus on the restrictions placed on Caesar by his partisans.
(68) The scholiast (Schol. Gron. 295–6 St.) is therefore right in rejecting the interpretation of the majority of commentators that this is an oratio figurata.
(69) Lig. 2–5; 11; Bell. Afr. 89. 2.
(70) Fam. 6. 13. 2–4 ‘imago meae dignitatis…reliquiae gratiae’, also, more conventionally, ‘studium, consilium, opera, gratia, fides’.
(71) Lig. 2, 10–11, 17; Caes. BCiv. 1. 30. 2, 1 31. 3.
(72) Quint. 11. 1. 80.
(73) Plut. Cic. 39. 6.
(74) Lig. 2–5, esp. 4 (necessitas); cf. 23, Caes. BCiv. 1. 30. 2, 1. 31.
(75) Lig. 9–10. In Marc. 14 he had argued that he had not joined the Pompeian army but Pompey himself. Here, he admits participation in order to link himself to Tubero.
(76) Lig. 11. Exile, not execution, was the penalty under Caesar's own laws against public violence and treason and this seems to have been true of the law governing the quaestiones in the late Republic (Phil. 1. 23; cf. Sall. Cat. 51. 22, 40).
(78) Cf. Marc. 13, 20, 30 and Deiot. 10.
(79) Fatalis calamitas seems to mean the mental blindness called ⌉acalpha ∢u ða in Greek literature.
(80) For Cicero's distrust of Juba see Att. 11. 7. 3. Juba had been Pompey's guest‐friend and enraged by Curio's attempt to confiscate his kingdom in 50 (Caes. BCiv. 1. 25. 4); he had been recognized as a friend and ally of the Roman people by the senate in January 49 (ibid. 1. 6. 4).
(81) See HRR ii, pp. lxix f. and 45; Suet. Iul. 77; Caes. BCiv. 3. 105 on his failure to extract money from the temple at Ephesus.
(83) It might have had nothing to do with Sestius' own problems but concerned his patronage of Ariarathes of Cappadocia (Att. 13. 2a. 2), with whose family Cicero had a connection since his governorship.
(84) Caecina is surely the man for whom Cicero delivered pro Caecina (Fam. 6. 7. 4–veterem tuum.…clientem). It is no problem that Cicero knew his father also (6. 9. 1), cf. How, ii. 410. Rawson, 1991, 297, n. 43 prefers a son of Cicero's client, on the ground that the correspondent was apparently coeval with or younger than Cicero, while the client had married in the 70s a widow with a grown‐up son. However, marriages with older women for financial reasons are not unthinkable and the widow need only have been in her thirties herself. Rawson, infers more plausibly (ibid. 298) a Sullan allegiance, which would help to explain the current implacable hostility between Caesar and Caecina.
(85) Fam. 6. 6. 5, cf. Att. 5. 11. 3, 7. 9. 3, 7. 18. 2; Fam. 3. 8. 10 for his attitude to the possibility.
(88) A brief reference to the bitterness of the Querelae in Suet. Iul. 75. 5.
(91) Cf. Fam 9. 17. 1, 9. 19. 1 on his closeness to Paetus. The forger is not Caesar, who is given his title of praefectus moribus in 9. 15. 5, cf. Suet. Iul. 76. 1. See How ii. 418. Oppius and Balbus were to act for Caesar while he was in Spain (Fam. 6. 8. 1). See Malitz, 1987, 54 ff. on Caesar's cabinet of non‐senatorial friends.
(93) Fam. 4. 6. 2, cf. Att. 12. 21. 5, 12. 23. 1.
(94) Att. 12. 37a (5 May); cf. Bell. Hisp. 31–4. The news had arrived in Rome on the day before the Parilia, 20 April (Dio 43. 42. 3).
(95) Publilia and the divorce Att. 12. 32. 1; cf. Quint. 6. 3. 75; Plut. Cic. 41. 2–6; Fam. 4. 14. 3 (on Terentia's domestic treachery); Terentia—Att. 12. 18a. 2, 12. 19. 4, 13. 46. 3.
(96) Att. 12. 40. 1–2. For Caesar's letter of consolation to Cicero, received in July and containing references to his plans see Att. 13. 20. 1.
(98) Att. 12. 14. 3, 12. 28. 2; Div. 2. 3. Fragments and testimonia in Div. 2. 22; Tusc. 1. 65, 76, 83, 3. 71, 76, 4. 63.
(100) Att. 1. 18. 6, 1. 19. 6, 1. 20. 3, 2. 1. 7.
(101) Acad. 2. 9; Att. 13. 16. 1, 13. 19. 5.
(102) Att. 13. 12. 1, 13. 13/14. 1, 13. 16. 1–2, 13. 19. 3, 5. Fam. 9. 8 is Cicero's letter of explanation to Varro. See Inwood and Mansfield, 1997, on this work, in particular on the various versions, Griffin, 1997 a.
(103) Acad. 1. 7; constantia vitae seems to be here a life according to stable moral principles (cf. Ar. EN 1. 1100b11–13 ⌆ta ∬silon ⌆ta ←pha ⩝ta ⇂omicron ∢u ða ⋴rsigma) and not simply resistance to pain or pleasure.
(104) Acad. 1. 33–4; cf Ar. EN 1. 1099a31 ff.
(105) Cicero had been trying to impress on Cassius the corollary of this—that virtue should be chosen for its own sake (Fam. 15. 17. 2–3). On the philosophic importance of the letters see Griffin, 1995.
(106) The dramatic date is clearly the beginning of April 52, as Cato refers to the new law of Pompey that gives the defence counsel only three hours to reply (Fin. 4. 1, cf. Asc. 39 C), that prescribed for the trial of Milo. The Megalensia had just begun, implying 5 April (3. 8).
(107) Fin. 1. 15, 2. 15–16, 3. 3. See also Acad. 1. 5, Tusc. 4. 3. 6 on the popular Epicurean writers Amafinius and Rabirius.
(108) Fin. 1. 29–54, 65–9 (on friendship).
(109) Book 2 begins with Socratic questioning, for which Cicero is invited by Torquatus to substitute a continuous discourse, more rhetorical rather than philosophical (2. 17).
(110) This also involves explaining why the view of Pyrrho and Aristo, that it was the only good, is wrongly formulated. Pyrrho and Aristo's views were not in fact precisely the same. See Long and Sedley 1987, i. 20–2 and more generally on Stoic ethics Wright, 1991.
(111) We also find another highly technical distinction between constituent goods and productive goods (3. 55).
(112) Notice his earlier rejection (49–50) of the Stoic equation of the good with the praiseworthy. Some goods were praiseworthy, but others like health and wealth were not (since they involved no moral achievement).
(113) Cf. Mur. 61–3.
(114) In Att. 13. 19. 3 he told Atticus that he was on the whole avoiding having living persons in his dialogues, but had made an exception for Varro in the Academica.
(115) Tusc. 2. 14–15, 3. 7–8, 4. 8–10, 5. 12–18.
(117) He admits that there is a vital difference between the two, contrary to what was said in De Finibus 4 (Tusc. 5. 32): in his view the wise man is not only happy but most happy (5. 34).
(118) See Att. 13. 46. 2 for Caesar's plan to return before the ludi Romani in early September, 13. 47a. 1 for his request that Cicero should attend the senate on 1 September. He did not in fact hold his triumphs before October (Vell. 2. 56. 1–3).
(119) Att. 12. 45. 2 cf. Dio 43. 45. 3. SB Att v. 338 doubts whether Cicero had the last point in mind, but the remark is sinister in any case. See also Weinstock, 1971, 169 ff., with references to previous scholarship, who raises the possibility of a cult of Salus Caesaris.
(120) Att. 13. 44. 1; cf. Dio 43. 45. 2; Suet. Iul. 76. 1. For a convincing restatement of the view that these games were the ludi Apollinares in the first half of July and not the ludi victoriae Caesaris at the end of the month see Ramsey and Licht, 1997, 25–40; Ferrary, 1999, 224–5.
(121) Att. 13. 40. 1, cf. Nepos, Atticus 18. 3. Brutus had gone to meet Caesar on his journey home (Att. 13. 23. 1, 13. 39. 2, cf. 13. 44. 1).
(122) Brut. 21; Att. 14. 1. 2; Tac. Dial. 21. 5.
(123) Bell. Alex. 78. 5.
(124) Cicero treats it as a capital trial, Deiot. 1.
(125) Note ‘intra domesticos parietes’ (5). Trials intra cubiculum were to become a scandal under the emperor Claudius, Tac. Ann. 11. 2, 13. 4; Suet. Claud. 15.
(126) Marc. 13, 20, 30; Lig. 17–20.
(127) Deiot. 9–13; Schol. Gron. 300 St.
(128) In fact hardly surprising, as Pharnaces had occupied some of Deiotarus' territory (Bell. Alex. 34–5).
(130) Cf. Att. 14. 9. 3; Fam. 11. 1. 4, 12. 18. 1; Dio 47. 26. 2–27.
(131) Cicero does admit that these rumours had inspired Caecilius' revolt (Deiot. 25).
(132) ‘Hunc Cn. Domitium’ (Deiot. 32).
(133) Deiot. 33–4. Cf. Dio 43. 45. 3–4 for the statue in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.
(134) Livy, 2. 8. 2.
(136) Shackleton Bailey translates ‘homines visi sumus’ as ‘I showed him I knew how to live’, comparing a deliberately precious remark of Nero's (SB Att v. 259, 396; Suet. Nero 31. 2). But Cicero is more worried about seeming inferior through being forced to treat Caesar as a superhuman being, not just as another senior senator, than on account of his domestic lifestyle.
(137) Fam. 7. 30. 1, 3, cf. 13. 50.
(138) Fam. 7. 30. 1; cf. Att. 13. 42. 3 for his assisting the master of horse Lepidus as an augur in early January.