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Classical ConstructionsPapers in Memory of Don Fowler, Classicist and Epicurean$

S. J. Heyworth

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199218035

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199218035.001.0001

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Natura narratur: Tullius Laurea’s Elegy for Cicero (Pliny, Nat. 31.8)

Natura narratur: Tullius Laurea’s Elegy for Cicero (Pliny, Nat. 31.8)

(p.113) 6 Natura narratur: Tullius Laurea’s Elegy for Cicero (Pliny, Nat. 31.8)
Classical Constructions

Llewelyn Morgan

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the poem of Tullius Laurea from a number of angles — literary-critical, sociohistorical, archaeological, literary-theoretical — but and also addresses its most striking feature, and that is its abnormally marked connection to physical nature. It argues that ‘consecration’ of the name of Cicero is precisely what Laurea’s poem helped to achieve.

Keywords:   Cicero, Pliny the Elder, Tullius Laurea, physical nature

Our gaze on the past is always the ‘view from somewhere’.

(Don Fowler)1

Saw ruins; fell on knees and uttered some enthusiastic words.

(James Boswell)2


Towards the beginning of Naturalis historia 31, a book devoted to medicinae ex aquatilibus, ‘remedies derived from things aquatic’, Pliny the Elder describes some springs at a villa that had once belonged to Cicero. The property was located in the volcanic region of Campania known as the Phlegraean Fields, and the springs had erupted shortly after Cicero’s death, by which time ownership had passed into the hands of an individual named Antistius Vetus. The spring water was known for its medicinal qualities (for eye (p.114) complaints, specifically), and it is this which, ostensibly at least, motivates its presence in Pliny’s encyclopaedia. Much of Pliny’s account, however, is given over to an epigram by Tullius Laurea, a freedman of Cicero, which Pliny implies was displayed at the site. The burden of the poem is that the emergence of the springs is a mark of honour from the place to its former owner: the more readers Cicero has, the more eyes will be tired out with reading him, and the locus has responded to this need with waters specifically therapeutic for ophthalmic disorders. I quote the passage (Nat. 31.6–8) in full:

iam generatim neruis prosunt pedibusue aut coxendicibus, aliae luxatis fractisue, inaniunt aluos, sanant uulnera. capiti, auribus priuatim medentur, oculis uero Ciceronianae. digna memoratu uilla est ab Auerno lacu Puteolos tendentibus inposita litori, celebrata porticu ac nemore, quam uocabat M. Cicero Academiam ab exemplo Athenarum. ibi compositis uoluminibus eiusdem nominis, in qua et monumenta sibi instaurauerat, ceu uero non in toto terrarum orbe fecisset. huius in parte prima exiguo post obitum ipsius Antistio Vetere possidente eruperunt fontes calidi perquam salubres oculis, celebrati carmine Laureae Tulli, qui fuit e libertis eius, ut protinus noscatur etiam ministeriorum haustus ex illa maiestate ingenii. ponam enim ipsum carmen, ubique et non ibi tantum legi dignum:

  • quo tua, Romanae uindex clarissime linguae,
  • silua loco melius surgere iussa uiret,
  • atque Academiae celebratam nomine uillam
  • nunc reparat cultu sub potiore Vetus,
  • hoc etiam apparent lymphae non ante repertae
  • languida quae infuso lumina rore leuant.
  • nimirum locus ipse sui Ciceronis honori
  • hoc dedit, hac fontes cum patefecit ope,
  • ut, quoniam totum legitur sine fine per orbem,
  • sint plures oculis quae medeantur aquae.

Now—by class—waters are good for sinews, or feet, or hips; others for dislocated or broken limbs; they clear bowels, cleanse wounds; they have effect specifically on the head or ears, or in the case of the Ciceronian, eyes. It is worth recording the estate situated on the shore as one heads from Lake Avernus to Puteoli, known for its colonnade and grove, which M. Cicero, after the model of Athens, called the Academy. There he wrote the volumes of that same name, and in it also he left many memorials to himself, as if indeed he had not done so throughout the whole world. In the front part of this estate, shortly after Cicero’s death, when Antistius Vetus (p.115) was in possession of it, there burst forth hot springs, extremely beneficial for eyes, which have been celebrated by a poem of Laurea Tullius, one of Cicero’s freedmen: immediate proof that even his servants drank of that exalted mind. I shall quote the actual poem, which deserves to be read not only in that location, but everywhere:

  • In the place where, most illustrious champion of the Roman tongue,
  • your wood flourishes, bidden to rise more strongly,
  • and the villa honoured by the name of Academy
  • Vetus now restores under better cultivation,
  • here also are to be seen waters not discovered before,
  • which, dripped on weary eyes, relieve them.
  • Evidently the place itself gave this gift as an honour
  • to its master Cicero, when it disclosed springs with such properties
  • that, since he is read throughout the whole world without end,
  • there may be more waters to treat eyes.

The literary merits of Laurea’s poem must remain a matter of debate. What made it seem a promising text to write about by way of homage to Don Fowler was partly its susceptibility to Don’s memorable ‘101 things to do with …’ rubric. My diverse, although rather fewer than 101, readings of Laurea’s poem will attempt to approach the text from a number of angles—literary-critical, socio-historical, archaeological, literary-theoretical—but will all address what I find its most striking feature, and that is its abnormally marked connection to physical nature. Pliny’s account implies that Laurea’s poem was some form of inscription—probably, as it turns out,3 a dipinto—and what complements the poem’s actual location in nature (qua inscription) is the high concern which the poem itself evinces for what might be termed physical ‘groundedness’. The poem opens by identifying the locus of Cicero’s villa, described in some physical detail, with the site of the new spring (1–6), then proceeds to attribute this coincidence to the initiative of the locus itself, paying honour to its former owner; and of course this locus was also the location of the poem itself. There thus follow three, or perhaps three-and-a-half (at a generous assessment) musings on the place of Tullius Laurea’s elegy in the landscape. There is another, self-evident reason for contributing to this of all collections a discussion of a memorial (p.116) for a man whose work opened and exercised eyes across the world, and there is no need to labour it.

It would be hard to argue that the current status of Laurea’s piece is anything but non-canonical, definitively so (and this is another good reason to give it an airing here). But at an earlier juncture in the history of Classics it did enjoy a certain vogue. I first encountered Laurea in connection with a play published anonymously in London in 1651 entitled The Tragedy of that Famous Roman Oratour, Marcus Tullius Cicero, which seems to find in the rise of the second triumvirate and murder of Cicero, who is constructed in the play as a quite literal embodiment of the free Republic, a focus for the anxieties of certain Englishmen in the face of the increasing militarism of the commonwealth government.4 In its dramatis personae the play features ‘Laureas—a poet’, one of ‘Marcus Cicero’s men’,5 a figure whom the author of Cicero need not necessarily have come across during a trawl through Pliny’s thirty-seven books, since the poem became quite early on a staple of collections of Latin epigrams and short excerpts composed by scholars such as Joseph Justus Scaliger.6 Here, (p.117) at any rate, in an attempt to reinforce Laurea’s return to scholarly visibility, and because it has a certain pertinence to the circumstances of this collection, is his finest moment in Cicero. Laureas is speaking after Cicero’s death to his fellow servant ‘Tyro—a great pretender to history’, a speech which alludes to M. Tullius Tiro’s composition of a biography of his former master (Asc. 48.25–6 Clark) and to the elegy of Laurea preserved by Pliny, and perhaps glosses Pliny’s minister-iorum haustus ex illa maiestate ingenii:

  • LAUREAS   Come, Tyro, since our day is set for ever,
  • Wee’l live like owles, those Citizens of Night,
  • Like Owles indeed, but like Athenian owles;
  • Thou shalt sublime thy pen, and write the life
  • Of our deceased Lord, that spotlesse life,
  • Which Vertue’s self might make her meditation.
  • Tyro, thou shalt, and I, poor Laureas,
  • Will sit and sigh forth mourning Elegies
  • Upon his death. He while he liv’d, good man,
  • Delighted in my Muse, and now my quill
  • Shall consecrate his name to th’ Muses’ hill.

(Cicero 5.10)

‘Consecration’ of the name of Cicero, I shall suggest in this paper, is in fact precisely what Laurea’s poem helped to achieve.


If location in nature is the issue, an appropriate place to start might be with a map (Figure 2). Unusually, we know pretty exactly where the estate of Cicero, the spring, and the poem stood,7 and the history of their survival will occupy us later in this paper. But to prempt (p.118) things a little, the villa in question was the one to which Cicero referred as his Cumanum, ‘estate at Cumae’,8 and it stood by the Lucrine lake and on the road which led from Lake Avernus (and ultimately from Cumae) to Puteoli, a road which the wording of Pliny (Nat. 18.111) suggests was treated as part of the Via Consularis Campana, the main road from the Phlegraean Fields to Capua.9

Figure 2. Map of Cicero’s Cumanum and its environs (courtesy of Stuart Campbell)

(p.119) If ‘Cumanum’ seems a rather tendentious name to give a villa so far from the town of Cumae, Cicero was within his rights to do so since the property lay within the town’s territory, which extended right up to the outskirts of Puteoli. But as Catullus 44 reminds us, the naming of these tokens of high status, villas, was always liable to be tendentious in a Roman elite context, and there was an element of choice inherent in the naming of the Cumanum.10 The estate was close enough to Puteoli for Cicero to define it as part of the ‘Puteolanum’ (here in the sense of ‘vicinity of Pozzuoli’) when it suited his purposes (Fam. 5.15.2), but ‘Cumanum’ had more cachet, Cumae being by a distance the classier district. (‘Puteoli’ is, after all, ‘The Pits’.) It also, incidentally, had none of the potentially embarrassing associations which ‘Baianum meum’, ‘my place at Baiae’ (another perfectly accurate title for an estate on the Lucrine lake), might have had for the author of the Pro Caelio. As we shall see, the naming of this villa never stops being tendentious; it is instructive to note that it always was.

Geographically Cicero’s villa was ‘obvious’, in the basic sense of the word. It stood on a busy road,11 and Cicero himself had either rejoiced in or complained about the constant visitors its position encouraged.12 Furthermore, Pliny tells us that the spring and its inscription were in the most accessible part of the villa, in parte (p.120) prima. It seems fairly clear from what Pliny and Laurea have to say that Vetus, the new owner of the villa, made of his private property a place for the public to visit, a monumentum for Cicero, of which the springs, seemingly converted into a bath building, were the focal point, marked as such by Laurea’s poem. The location of this monument on the main road to Cumae makes it a kind of very elaborate version of the standard, attention-seeking siste, viator roadside monument, such as the one honouring Pallas, freedman minister of Claudius, that Pliny the Younger found so offensive (Ep. 7.29). Laurea’s poem, too, is a very much more elaborate text than would normally be attached to such monuments, but is as a consequence quite informative about the socio-political background to this act of commemoration. The poem is primarily concerned with Cicero, of course, but another individual is also given considerable prominence, and it is Vetus, whose work to restore the villa is evoked in the first four lines, rather than the author Tullius Laurea. In fact, then, it is not only Cicero who is being commemorated and honoured by the poem, but Vetus also for his dutifulness towards the orator’s memory, and this impression of the inalienability of commemorator and commemorated must have been corroborated by the experience of visiting, as a member of the public, a monument to Cicero on the private estate of Vetus.13

Vetus is glossed as ‘Antistius Vetus’ by Pliny, and was almost certainly C. Antistius Vetus, suffect consul in 30 BC. What we can discover about this man’s life and career indicates both that there were grounds for the dutifulness that he displayed towards Cicero’s memory, but circumstances also that lent it a political significance greater than might at first be appreciated.14 Vetus became a close associate of M. Brutus in 43 BC, handing over HS2 million of state funds to him as he passed through Macedonia on his return from a governorship of Syria, and later operating as his legate. A sequence of letters between Brutus and Cicero show him entering Cicero’s acquaintance. Ad Brutum 1.11 is actually a letter from Brutus recommending Vetus to Cicero; by the time of 1.9.3 (which postdates 1.11) Cicero is talking in (p.121) terms of ‘Vetus noster’; and at 1.12.3 (later still), a letter from Cicero sent with Vetus to Brutus, we find:

Veterem pro eius erga te beneuolentia singularique officio libenter ex tuis litteris complexus sum eumque cum tui tum rei publicae studiosissimum amantissimumque cognoui.

Following your letter I have gladly made a friend of Vetus in view of his good-will and outstanding services to you; and I have found him most zealous and loyal to you and to the commonwealth.

This letter dates to July 43 BC, five months before Cicero’s proscription and death. When next we hear of Vetus, some time after Philippi (where Syme assumes he fought for Brutus),15 he is operating under Octavian’s command in 35 and 34 against the Salassi, an Alpine tribe (Appian, Ill. 17), as he does again in 25 against the Cantabri in Spain. In between these military campaigns he holds the consulship, as Octavian’s colleague, from the Kalends of July to the Ides of September 30 BC. So it is evident that there has occurred some sort of rapprochement between Vetus and the heir of Caesar, but the sequence of consuls into which Vetus falls in 30 BC suggests that compromise, as so often at the outset of the Principate, was ‘symmetrical’. The year 30 BC saw in total four consular colleagues for Octavian, and in each case the choice seems designed to communicate Octavian’s pluralistic inclusiveness in the face of Antonian tyranny. Vetus’ predecessor in the consulship (January to June) had been M. Licinius Crassus, on whom Dio comments (51.4.3): ‘this man was Octavian’s fellow-consul, even though he had not previously held the praetorship, and had actually been a supporter both of Sextus Pompey and of Antony’. His successor, even more suggestively, was M. Tullius Cicero, son of the orator (14 September to the end of November), with whose consulship Plutarch’s life of Cicero reaches a ‘uniquely satisfying’ conclusion, the reconciliation of Octavian and the line of Cicero, and the demonization of Antony that implied.16 The fourth and last suffect consul of the year, L. Saenius Balbinus (December), was also apparently a proscript who had served with Sextus Pompey (Appian B Civ. 4.50).17

(p.122) If the presence in the consular fasti of C. Antistius Vetus, erstwhile acolyte of Brutus and Cicero, might contribute to the impression of a Roman consensus led by Octavian, then there is a not dissimilar ideology being promulgated by the monument on the busy road to Cumae, glorifying Cicero and re-establishing him as a Roman exemplum18 rather as his son’s consulship had done, and advertising the role of Vetus, favoured Augustan aristocrat (a favour of which the gift of the villa may itself have been a tangible token),19 in that glorification. The consulship of Cicero’s son rehabilitated Cicero, but in the process in obvious ways drafted the orator into an Augustan definition of what constituted Rome and its history. In Campania, too, Cicero was (literally) back on the map, visible, honoured, and exemplary, and there is a very Augustan quality to the comfortable, paradoxical pun of line 4 of Laurea’s poem: reparat … Vetus, ‘Old … restores’. But again, it is a map that bears the stamp of the princeps, and not only for Vetus’ presence on it. The view from Cicero’s villa over the Lucrine lake had changed dramatically since Cicero’s death. The pisciculos exultantes, ‘little fish leaping’, to which the protagonists of Cicero’s Academica had their attention drawn (frr. 71, 13) were likely to be overshadowed by the massive harbour works of the Portus Iulius, in preparation for which, notoriously, Agrippa had felled the forest around Avernus (Strabo 5.4.5: was this in fact the depredation from which Vetus rescued Cicero’s silua?). Frederiksen is clear that the extensive construction works undertaken under Octavian’s auspices in this area of Campania were mainly for show rather than any practical reason (the naval base was swiftly eclipsed by Misenum), but that merely reinforces the point that these structures in the Campanian landscape were designed above all to be seen:

Octavian had … learnt from his adoptive father the uses in the quest for public attention of spectacular alterations of the physical environment. The feeling behind his massive corrections of nature in Campania is not in the least utilitarian. The project is designed to impress the beholder with the colossal power and awesome magnitudo animi of its creators.20

(p.123) These activities thus sought to mould this part of Campania into a recognizably Augustan environment.21 Obviously, giving names to places is an assertion of control. But in this case a particular interpretation of the landscape (Augustus’ control of it) was being promoted very vigorously indeed—permanent alterations to the environment such as the linking by canal of the Lucrine Lake and Avernus clearly imply an intention to ‘fix’ this interpretation in indelible fashion. Vetus, for his part, did not alter the landscape so much as respond to the kind of natural alteration characteristic of volcanic regions, but otherwise his project was similar: to impress meaning upon raw nature. Between them, and others of course, the Phlegraean Fields were rendered a kind of text, one which spoke in its own way of the authority—and the subtleties—of the Augustan settlement. Cicero’s place in that landscape–text must have been as eloquent as the sight of his son on the sella curulis.


Thus far I have tried to read Laurea’s poem as part of a process whereby political change found a reflection in the organization (or construction) of the Italian countryside. But it is also appropriate to consider it where we originally found it, in the text of Pliny’s Naturalis historia, and investigate at a little length some of the significance of its presence there—of Pliny’s decision to quote it, in other words. Pliny leaves us in no doubt that he deeply approves of the sentiments of this poem; and it is not hard to come up with reasons why he might see in Laurea a sympathetic text, a model (in effect) for his own undertaking. One point of connection we can point to is a cluster of allusions at this juncture of Pliny’s work to what Beagon calls Pliny’s ideal of ‘universal communication’,22 an ideal asserted (p.124) throughout the Naturalis historia, but particularly prominent here. Thus Pliny’s grounds for recording the inscription are that it deserves the universal exposure which a unique inscription can only get from inclusion in his text (ubique et non ibi tantum legi dignum); but this virtue of worldwide communication is also what Laurea’s poem identifies as Cicero’s great achievement (totum legitur sine fine per orbem), and Pliny picks up on this element of the poem (in toto terrarum orbe). Quoted text and host text thus match one another in this assertion of the value of total communicative scope, and indeed host text bestows this capacity on the quotation.

But another area of kinship between Pliny’s text and text of Laurea is more obviously related to my theme of place and nature. Laurea’s poem is a text in the landscape, an inscription in nature; it is also itself about the relation of text to nature: the ‘place itself’ gives honour to Cicero and facilitates the reception of his writings. What the poem is, then, and what it is about correlate closely with each other, but also with some quite fundamental impulses of the Naturalis historia as a whole. A basic preoccupation of this work is the nature of the relationship between human creativity and the creativity of natura. The statement of the work’s topic at praef. 13, rerum natura, hoc est uita, narratur, implies that the essential nature of the universe, rerum natura, is closely bound up with the creatures that live in it (uita), man in particular: and it is always evident that man occupies the centre of Pliny’s natura. Nevertheless a fundamental tension—and dynamic—of the work is the issue, often fraught, of man’s precise role in nature, how far human shaping of the world, ars, is acceptable, and how far the initiative should be left to Pliny’s basically benevolent natura artifex. There is always a threat in the Naturalis historia that human intervention in nature may constitute a violation or perversion of the providential natural order.

This is not to say that Pliny does not recognize and honour human achievement: we see him doing just that in our passage, and again in various ways his entire work itself embodies such aspirations. But Pliny inclines towards an ideal of the kind represented by the following passage from Nat. 12.9 concerning celebrated plane trees, one particularly well treated by Beagon:23 (p.125)

nunc est clara in Lycia fontis gelidi socia amoenitate, itineri adposita, dom-icilii modo caua octoginta atque unius pedum specu, nemorosa uertice et se uastis protegens ramis arborum instar, agros longis obtinens umbris, ac ne quid desit speluncae imagini, saxea intus crepidinis corona muscosos complexa pumices, tam digna miraculo ut Licinius Mucianus ter consul et nuper prouinciae eius legatus prodendum etiam posteris putauerit epulatum intra eam se cum duodeuicensimo comite, large ipsa toros praebente frondis, ab omni adflatu securum, oblectante imbrium per folia crepitu laetiorem quam marmorum nitore, picturae uarietate, laquearium auro, cubuisse in eadem.

In the present day there is a famous one in Lycia, allied to the attractiveness of a cool spring. It is located by the road, with a hollow cavity like a house inside it 81 feet across. Its top is a grove in itself, and it shields itself with huge branches as big as trees and covers the fields with its long shadows. And so as to complete its resemblance to a cave, it contains within itself mossy pumice-stones in a circular rim of rock. So worthy was this tree to be regarded as a wonder that Licinius Mucianus, three times consul and recently deputy governor of that province, considered that it should be communicated to posterity that he held a banquet within the tree with eighteen of his retinue, the tree providing couches of leaves bounteously, and that he had slept in the same place, protected from every breath of wind, and happier with the delightful patter of rain through the leaves than he would have been with gleaming marbles, rich painting or gilded coffering.

The collision here of wonder at nature’s creativity and suspicion of the artificial generates a fascinating eulogy of a natural object in which the action of nature is explicitly preferred to the artes of men, but in which at the same time it is so very human and domesticated an artefact which nature is honoured for creating (just like a domicilium, conveniently close to the road, offering, as if consciously, comfort and protection for a Roman governor, thrice consul … ). The initiative is to be left whenever possible to nature, yet nature does best, it seems, when it mimics man.

It hardly needs to be spelt out how well the aquae Ciceronianae correspond to this complex Plinian ideal of harmonious acquiescence between nature and man—warm springs which Laurea interprets as a gift from within earth given up at the initiative of nature herself (there is no human violation of the earth’s surface to get at them),24 but marking human achievement and serving the benefit of (p.126) the higher human arts: the metaphor haustus which Pliny uses of the debt of Cicero’s servants to their master is particularly suggestive of this synthesis of human and natural processes. (Pliny might have been less sanguine about volcanic activity had he foreseen the circumstances of his own death in ad 79.) The general point would be sharper if we could accept Courtney’s reading of line 5, arte repertae for the rather superfluous ante repertae of the manuscripts: that is, ‘not discovered by the actions of man (but provided spontaneously by nature)’: an inspired emendation, but given that Courtney makes absolutely no reference to it one that looks horribly like a misprint.25 Nevertheless, and as Don would have insisted, that doesn’t make it any less acceptable.

This tension and interplay between the artificial and the natural which pervades the Naturalis historia inevitably has resonance on more narrowly literary levels. The Nat. is a representation of natura: natura narratur is, as we have seen, one of the ways in which Pliny defines the theme of his work in the general preface. The larger context of this remark is an extended discussion, which constitutes a large part of the preface, of the literary status of Pliny’s undertaking. The preface is addressed to Titus, future emperor, and expends more than enough energy disavowing literary status to alert us to the relevance of that category. The two snatches of poetry he quotes in this preface are suggestive in a similar way, since both (from Catullus 1 and Lucilius’ preface to his satires in Book 26)26 ironically dispute their claim to any kind of elevated literary status. That Pliny cites poetry at all in the process of denying any aspiration to the status of literature is telling enough, but particularly so when he rewrites Catullus’ hendecasyllables for Titus’ amusement in line with the Flavian taste for an opening spondee (praef. 1). Passages like praef. 12–15 reveal an author not straightforwardly rejecting literary, or elevated, status for his project, but not comfortable with it either: Hutchinson notes the odd shift in this passage from apologetic self-censure to an assertion of the nobility and glory of his undertaking, and remarks in general on the ‘complicated interplay, even on the level of style’, between the critical rationality displayed by Pliny and ‘his zeal for the wonders characteristic of nature’, his combination of (p.127) ‘scholarly reserve and the heightening of marvels, lowness and exaltation of language and of content’.27 The complexity has a lot to do with the ambivalent quality of Pliny’s natura itself, simultaneously the everyday and mundane, which communicates these subliterary values to the text which describes it,28 and the very highest principle in Pliny’s universe, his God, than which no higher literary topic is imaginable. We are not a million miles here from the ambiguous poetics of that other narrator, dear to Don, of the Nature of Things.

Pliny does not often quote poetry, and given the practical values and suspicion of artifice which characterize the text this is not surprising. If we sought to characterize the Augustan alterations to the Campanian landscape as the construction of a meaningful text, Pliny’s tendency is essentially in the contrary direction, downplaying the role which humans should play in the natural environment and emphasizing the agency (the authorship, perhaps) of nature. If Laur-ea’s poem found a place in the Naturalis historia partly for its message of harmony between nature and human endeavour, it is also partly for its ambivalent literary status, which coincides so closely with that of its host text. Laurea’s poem is an artifice, but an artifice that is both in Natura and of Natura. In it Pliny can reconcile (momentarily) the often contradictory impulses to narrate nature and to be an auteur.


For the next part of this paper I return to the issue of the precise location of the aquae Ciceronianae. As we have already seen, lines 1–4 of Laurea’s poem imply that Vetus restored the villa after a period of neglect,29 and it appears that Vetus converted the springs into some (p.128) form of bath complex, the centrepiece of his monumentalization of Cicero’s villa. Staggeringly, this Balneum Ciceronis persisted right through Antiquity and the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance,30 and did so ultimately as a consequence of Vetus’ decision, assisted by Tullius Laurea, to perpetuate the association with Cicero, thereby making a landmark of the villa and its baths. Cicero’s Cumanum was still a place for sightseeing in the later first century ad, as Pliny shows,31 and it may well have corresponded to the iugera facundi… Ciceronis owned by Silius Italicus at the end of the century (Mart. 11.48) and το Κικέρωνος τοϋ τταλαιοΰ χωρίον near Puteoli, where a colloquy between Demetrius and Apollonius of Tyana supposedly took place at roughly the same time (Philostratus V A. 7.11.1),32 although the situation is complicated by the existence of another villa (the Puteolanum) in the same vicinity which had also been in Cicero’s possession for the last two years of his life.33 The temporary burial place of Hadrian in uilla Ciceroniana Puteolis after his death at Baiae mentioned in the Historia Augusta might be either Cumanum or Puteolanum; the home where Tiro allegedly lived to the age of a (p.129) hundred was probably the latter.34 But it is certainly the Cumanum at issue when, in the late sixth century, the Dialogues of Gregory the Great mention one Fortunatus, associate of St Equitius and abbot of monasterii quod appellatur Balneum Ciceronis (1.3.5).35 There is a danger of over-interpreting specks of evidence such as this, but the reduction of Cicero from the rich cultural symbol of Vetus and Pliny to the simple topographical marker he is for the contemporaries of Gregory, denoting without (apparently) doing much connoting, is at least suggestive of the peculiar kind of sanctified obscurity that Cicero, along with much else of the classical world, entered as the Christian era advanced.36 The name hangs on. It even strikes a distant chord with Gregory, or so it would seem from the way he dwells momentarily over the title of this monastery. But the richer significance of this act of attribution is long lost.

Cicero’s status in the next text to mention the baths is quite hard to gauge, but he certainly remains marginalized. By the time of the De Balneis Puteolanis et Baianis of Peter of Eboli (c.1160–c.1220) in the early thirteenth century even the name Balneum Ciceronis has slipped from common use. Peter’s account of the bath entitles it ‘Balnea de Prato’, a Latinization of ‘Bagni di Prato’, ‘Meadow Baths’, as they now seem generally to have been called, and the association with Cicero (his precise relationship to the bath long forgotten) is referred to pretty much in passing as a local tradition: Est aqua quam populi de Prato balnea dicunt: | Creditur a multis hoc Ciceronis opus (‘There are waters which the people call the Meadow Baths: it is commonly believed to be the work of Cicero.’) Whether it be a matter of high medieval culture or didactic genre, this poem has little time for antiquarianism. As Kauffmann puts it, ‘The poem is clearly written from a medical or practical viewpoint, rather than from one of (p.130) antiquarian interest’,37 and in general, despite its classical form and occasional classical allusions, the ancient world rarely impinges on the poem. All of which makes the difference between Peter and Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–75), who discusses the springs a century and a half later, both striking and symptomatic of bigger cultural processes. Boccaccio’s De montibus, syluis, fontibus, lacubus, fluminibus, stagnis seu paludibus, de nominibus maris (c.1355–7) is an alphabetical dictionary of geographical features category by category modelled on Vibius Sequester. Under de fontibus we find the following:

Ciceronis fons haud longe a Puteolis est calidas euomens aquas quae aegris oculis plurimum conferunt. Et ideo Ciceronis uocant quia in uilla eius quam Academiam uocauerat ea in uia quae ab Annio [sic] lacu fert Puteolos est. Nec tamen eo uiuente fons erat, sed breui interposito post eius necem tempore illam Antistio Vetere possidente eius in parte prima prorupit; (p.131) quem etiam Laurenas [sic] Tullius unus ex libertis olim Tullii carminibus celebrem reddidit, ut appareret clarum hominem dum uiueret scientia sua mentalibus mortalium oculis praestitisse medelam et eius post nomen eo defuncto praestare corporeis.

Cicero’s spring is not far from from Puteoli. It spews out warm waters which are of the greatest benefit to diseased eyes. It is called ‘Cicero’s’ because it is in a villa of his which he had called ‘The Academy’ on the road which leads from Lake Annius [sic] to Puteoli. There was no spring while Cicero was alive, however, but a short time after his death, when Antistius Vetus was in ownership of the villa, it burst forth in its front part. Laurenas [sic] Tullius, once one of Tullius’ freedmen, rendered it famous in poetry, with the result that it appeared that the brilliant man whilst alive had provided a cure for the minds’ eyes of men by his wisdom, and thereafter his name, once he was dead, provided it to the eyes of the body.

Peter of Eboli presented his knowledge of the baths as a matter of empirical observation, peppering his accounts of the various baths near Puteoli and Baiae with statements of autopsy like quod proprio uidi lumine testor ego (‘Balneum quod Pugillus dicitur’) and rem loquor expertam proprio quam lumine uidi (‘Balneum quod de Arcu dicitur’). Boccaccio was the author of the Decameron, of course, but more importantly for our purposes a friend of Petrarch; and his account of the baths is in various ways characteristic of the style of humanism he represented. In contrast to Peter, Boccaccio seems to owe little to direct observation of the site, and a great deal to his reading of the texts of antiquity: all the material here, besides the concluding sententia, is derived directly, sometimes verbatim, from Pliny, and even the concluding sententia mimics the structure of Pliny’s account. Consequently the multifarious uses of the water testified to by Peter have narrowed to the only one which has the authority of Antiquity, the treatment of eye complaints, and a later reference to the baths by Gioviano Pontano in his (posthumous) Hendecasyllaborum libri of 150538 shows that the Renaissance interpretation of the bath continued to be so restricted. Cupid has angered Pallas, and been blinded as a result; he resorts to the Tulliana lympha, ‘water of Cicero’, for a cure.39 Here the ‘Awakening of (p.132) Europe’ can actually be seen to be responsible for an impoverishment of the narrative of place (initially at least, before myth-makers like Pontano took a hand), the multiple functions of Peter’s bath (among which anything to do with eyes has only a small place) giving way to a simple awe of the name of Cicero exemplified by Boccaccio’s odd formulation, eius post nomen … praestare corporeis.

The most telling detail of Boccaccio’s account, however, is the corruption Annio lacu for Auerno lacu. That this originated with Boccaccio is proved by the presence of an Annius lacus in the De lacubus section of Boccaccio’s work. Boccaccio was not a textual critic. As Pfeiffer puts it, he ‘stood firm to the pre-critical tradition’ in his recovery of the ancient inheritance, ‘satisfied with the recovery of the codices40 without attempting any feat of textual criticism’;41 and his response to the corruption of his text of Pliny is clearly one of pretty abject respect for the tradition. Presented with an Annius lacus, (p.133) and unprepared to interrogate the text, Boccaccio tried to find it instead. Unsurprisingly, he is hard put to locate it:

Annius lacus Puteolis uicinus est quem ego arbitror hodie Sudatorii lacum uocari a balneo quod in eius est margine, cum lacus alter praeter hunc in partibus illis innominatus sit.

Lake Annius is close to Puteoli. I think that today it is called the lake of the Sweating Room from the bath which is located on its shore, since no other lake besides this one is mentioned in those parts.

The Balneum Sudatorium with which Boccaccio tries to identify Cicero’s bath is now the (wonderfully titled) Stufe di S. Germano, a steam bath on Lake Agnano, east of Puteoli. Boccaccio has some local knowledge, then, but it remains the kind derived from reading rather than immediate familiarity: innominatus seems to mean ‘not mentioned’ (that is, in a text). This humanist felt no strong need to consult real geography, then; his account of the fons Ciceronis fully exemplifies his infamous (albeit somewhat playful) remark at the end of the De montibus: mallem potius eorum autoritati quam oculis credere meis (‘I would rather believe the authority of ancient authors than my own eyes.’)

With the ‘library-bound’ Boccaccio the geography of our part of Campania becomes almost exclusively a function of the classical literary tradition, and as a consequence the Balneum Ciceronis was lost, victim of scribal error in the text of Pliny which Boccaccio was consulting. But the development of humanism,42 not to mention better texts, effected some form of reconciliation between place and text, and in the process the bath was rediscovered. The interest in antiquity of Flavio Biondo (1392–1463)43 took the particular form of a fascination for its surviving physical remains. In the Italia illustrata, ‘Italy revealed’ rather than ‘Italy illustrated’, composed between 1448 and 1458, Biondo set out to convey the continuing presence of the antique landscape in the contemporary. If Boccaccio marks an extreme case of viewing the landscape of Italy through the (p.134) Classics, Biondo’s perception of the Italian countryside was also structured in fairly obvious ways by his humanist preoccupations. Italy, in Biondo’s eyes, was an ancient landscape requiring to be rediscovered,44 and his apprehension of the landscape was consequently profoundly informed by ancient literature, thoroughly examined by him at the first stage of composition of the Italia illustrata.45 But Biondo’s ambition to restore ancient Italy (Boccaccio’s aim was essentially the less ambitious one of elucidating ancient texts) drew him out of the library and into the landscape, and thus it was that in the spring of 1452, with his guide Prospero Camogli,46 an excited Biondo visited Cumae, Baiae, and the vicinity. He singles out one bath building of many:47

Sunt et aliae pene similes thermae illis propinquae, quarum conditoris et nominis notitiam habere nequiuimus. Sed balneum longe infra Avernum petentibus et Lucrinum est obuium, nedum aedificii structuram sed et picturam quoque aliqua ex parte integram conseruans, in quo uersuum pars pictorum extat, ex quorum uerbis carptim lectis coniicere licet, id fuisse Ciceronis balneum, cui id carmen libertum eius adscripsisse Plinius asserit.

There are other more or less similar hot baths close to these ones, knowledge of the builder and name of which we were unable to obtain. But there is a bath some distance below on the way to Avernus and the Lucrine which preserves intact not only the fabric of the building but also the decoration as well to a certain extent. On it survive the remains of painted verses; and from the words of them, read in bits and pieces, it is possible to infer48 that it (p.135) was the bath of Cicero, for whom Pliny states that his freedman wrote up the poem.

The process of selection and interpretation of material in accordance with the viewer’s priorities is quite explicit here (Sunt et aliae … sed), and not only from Biondo’s omission of any reference to contemporary structures. Nevertheless, Biondo’s proto-archaeological method, it turns out, had rediscovered not only the bath of Cicero but also the inscribed poem of Tullius Laurea which Pliny had seen and copied there fourteen hundred years previously.


I must confess to finding the notion of Biondo discovering the traces of Laurea’s poem there, on the wall, still extant a millennium and a half after its and their creation extraordinarily compelling. Don, I suspect, would have suggested that this was because Biondo’s discovery is a rather blatant reification of the phantasy (as he would have it) which I share with much of the classical profession of the possibility of some kind of direct communion with the ancient world—the impulse to ‘ground’ interpretation of text, to find meaning out there. Classics, according to this paradigm, is a process of searching and discovery, of the relocation of meaning; and Biondo’s stumbling upon this text etched on the wall of the Balneum Ciceronis makes a powerful metaphor for the classical project, as traditionally conceived. Don’s mantra was, on the contrary, that ‘meaning is constructed, not discovered’, but even more relevant in this connection is his piece on memorialization, ‘The Ruin of Time: Monuments and Survival at Rome’,49 and his discussion there of what he terms the ‘venatic paradigm’ in classical scholarship:


The two processes of cleaning and restoration—as boasted of by Augustus in his Res gestae—find a common metaphorical centre in museology and archaeology, but they are also part of what Alföldy called ‘steinerne Detektivarbeit’, ‘stone detective work’. Beginning from the traces left us by antiquity, we solve the crime by following up the clues: what from a historical point of view is the end-point, the nail-holes left as the letters of history fall away, is for the modern scholar the beginning. The process was discussed in a famous essay ‘Spie’ or ‘Clues’ by the Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg, who tried to identify a particular historical moment in which the paradigm of the ‘clue’ came to the fore. He settled on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the figures of Freud, Sherlock Holmes, and Giovanni Morelli, the art historian who pioneered the techniques of connoisseurship later familiar from the work of Berenson, and for classicists forever associated with Sir John Beazley. Central to the work of each figure was the venatic paradigm, by which from small clues we hunt down the truth: mud on the boots, a slip of the tongue, the shape of an ear, all these natural signs, if rightly interpreted by a master semiologist, enable our detectives to track down the truth. (200–1)

‘We all know by now’, Don continues, provocatively, ‘that it cannot be done.’

Well this classicist stills finds himself loath to abandon the venatic paradigm: indeed there is, it seems to me, a very ‘Holmesian’ quality to Biondo’s ex quorum uerbis carptim lectis coniicere licet …, several centuries before Freud, Morelli, or Conan Doyle. But what Don teaches me to recognize is the tellingly, richly arbitrary nature of the process of naming and description at the heart of the act of commemoration on which this paper has been concentrating. Hot water rises to ground level, a not unprecedented occurrence in the volcanic region of the Phlegraean Fields; Vetus and Laurea place it under the sign of Cicero, legitimizing the naming with not much more than the poetic conceit of lines 9–10 of Laurea’s elegy, and the fact that the naming rests so heavily on literary play (play, moreover, of debatable felicity) is bound to exacerbate our sense of its wild arbitrariness.50 Indeed, the very elaboration of this act of naming (p.137) bespeaks the absence of any true connection between springs and Cicero. Thereafter the history of the baths up to and into the Renaissance is in important respects an ongoing struggle to assert that name and interpretation and meaning of some warm, bubbly water in preference to any other. No easy task: ‘Nothing is more changeable than the meaning of a monument.’51 A passage of Greek poetry describing the springs preserved by Stobaeus,52 which makes no (p.138) mention of Cicero at all, is a good reminder of the ‘partiality’ of the name: either their author ‘Heliodorus’ did not make the connection with Cicero, or Stobaeus excerpted the piece in such a way as to omit what was (from his Greek, fifth-century, pedagogical point of view) not a relevant detail. The situation is telling either way. Obviously, giving names to places is an assertion of control, I wrote earlier; but equally obviously, that control is automatically open to contestation: the city known as Derry or Londonderry or Doire stands out, but the contemporary examples are legion.53 It behoves me in turn to be conscious of the ideologies and power systems which have insisted upon the description ‘Ciceronian’ from Vetus’ day onwards: the Roman system of patronage, as it impacted on ex-slaves and junior aristocrats, and the peculiar twists it took on under the early Princi-pate, which constructed the springs as Cicero’s in the first place; the veneration of, and nostalgia for, the classical period among members of the imperial elite like Pliny and Silius,54 not to mention the Augustan elite (including Vetus) to whom Augustus’ rehabilitation of the memory of Cicero was playing, which maintained them as such through antiquity; the Neapolitan nationalism expressed through assertions of a special relationship between the Duchy of Naples and the vestiges of antiquity—be they the Byzantine Empire, the ‘tomb of Virgil’ (a figure also popularly credited with the foundation of baths in the Phlegraean Fields), or a ‘bath of Cicero’—which was presumably mainly responsible for preserving Cicero’s association with the location (p.139) (just) through the Middle Ages;55 and the privileging of things ancient—Cicero and his works especially—by humanism which reasserted Cicero’s proprietorship so forcibly in the Renaissance; not forgetting myself, aspiring to compose a paper relevant and interesting for classicists, and to do appropriate honour to Don: they needed to be Cicero’s springs, not springs good for conjunctivitis, or sciatica, let alone plain volcanic phenomena without any meaning or useful function at all.

The end comes for the baths, and this paper, on 29 September 1538, when geophysical processes in the vicinity of the Lucrine lake related to those that created the aquae Ciceronianae in the first place effaced what remained of the Balneum Ciceronis, reduced the lake by more than half its size and in the course of a single day threw up a cone of ash still known, five hundred years after the event, as Monte Nuovo. And yet, and yet—ends, as Don has often shown, can never be so definite. Somehow the name of Cicero floated free of this catastrophe. Capaccio’s True History of Pozzuoli, originally written some seventy years after the eruption,56 talks of the villa of Cicero as something still substantially extant, something (crucially, for Capac-cio’s purposes) of which the townspeople can still be proud: aedificii amplitudinem id quod parietinarum reliqui est patefacit.57 In the subsequent Italian editions Capaccio supplements the description a little (pp. 143–4), but in a way which fails to convince that he has any real idea where the place is, or was. At any rate, the general map of the area to be found opposite page 84 in the 1652 edition, perhaps trying to make sense of Capaccio’s (deliberately?) vague topographical information, locates the villa at a safe distance from Monte Nuovo, nowhere near its true site.58 Utter physical annihilation, it seems, was but a blip in the history of Cicero’s villa, which has simply migrated a couple of miles down the coast. The confusion is probably, at least in (p.140) part, a consequence of the conflation of the two Ciceronian villas in the area, the Cumanum and the Puteolanum, and this conflation is also behind Baedeker’s identification of the villa ‘which the orator in imitation of Plato called his Academy, and where he composed his ‘‘Academica’’’ with ‘a few fragments’ of ancient buildings two miles east of Monte Nuovo, on the outskirts of Pozzuoli.59 But we hardly need a specific case of misidentification or confusion like this one to appreciate the point that, so far as exiguous remains (those ‘few fragments’) such as Baedeker points out to his reader are concerned, the denotation of a place in nature is not the real issue: there isn’t, after all, very much to name. The truth is that the urge to deploy the name ‘Cicero’ is stronger than any impulse to identify a topographical feature, for an Augustan aristocrat, Victorian tourist, Renaissance humanist, or contemporary classicist. As recently as 1896 the tourist urge was drawing viewers to the Balneum Ciceronis, and its actual location didn’t much matter. To which Don’s response would certainly have been: ‘Did it ever?’


(1) Fowler (2000) ix.

(2) James Boswell’s response to the site of Horace’s villa, cited by Brown (2001) 16.

(3) Flavio Biondo describes the traces of poetry he saw at the site in 1452 as uersus picti: see p. 134 below.

(4) For attempts to contextualize Cicero in the politics of the early commonwealth see Randall (1991a) and (1991b), and Morrill (1991). Cicero is among a number of commonwealth plays published in Clare (2001).

(5) As a name for an exemplary poet figure drawing inspiration from the master ‘Laurea’ must have seemed a gift to the author of Cicero, but that this really was his name is proved not only by Pliny but also by three Greek epigrams under the name Laurea or Tullius Laurea in the Anthologia Palatina (7.17, 7.294, 12.24). In fact the nomen is no more loquens than ‘Tiro’, ‘apprentice’ (cf. Cicero’s affectionate play at Fam. 16.3.1): compare Varro on the arbitrariness of slave names (Ling. 8.21). Nevertheless, Michael Reeve has wondered out loud (personal communication) ‘what thoughts went through the mind of someone called Laurea when he wrote about Cicero’s lingua’, bearing in mind the famous verse from Cicero’s poem on his consulship, cedant arma togae, concedat laurea linguae—if that is what Cicero wrote: see Courtney (1993) 172. With Laurea’s Romana lingua compare the Latia lingua whose silence following the death of Cicero is deplored by the Augustan poets Sextilius Ena and Cornelius Severus (Seneca, Suas. 6.25-7; cf. Velleius Paterculus 2.66.2-3 on his uox publica); ‘tongue’, in connection with Cicero, is hard to dissociate from the story told at Dio 47.8.4, and vividly dramatized in Cicero, of Fulvia’s maltreatment of Cicero’s severed head, pulling out the tongue and piercing it with her hairpins. Laurea’s contrasting optimism is partly predicated on an interesting modulation from Cicero as speaker (Romanae uindex clarissime linguae) to Cicero as text (legitur), broadly paralleled in Velleius’ eulogy at 2.66.

(6) A selection: Scaliger (1572) 215, Pithou (1590) 58, Burmann (1759) vol. 2 no. 156, Garrod (1912) no. 61.

(7) Annecchino (1938); M. W. Frederiksen, RE 23.2059.37-49 (s.v. ‘Puteoli’); D’Arms (1970) 198-200 (cf. 69–70, 172). The location is misidentified by Dahlmann (1982) 15-16 n. 16, who is unaware of D’Arms, and Courtney (1993) 182, who follows Dahlmann (despite also citing D’Arms).

(8) Among other things, this best explains Laurea’s allusion to Cicero’s Academica. The impulse to use an association with this text to glorify the place has to do with the prominence of the Academica among Cicero’s philosophical books, in his own view and others’: see MacKendrick (1989) 125. But Pliny is in fact wrong to say that either edition of the work was composed at the Cumanum: see Reid (1885) 28–38. Nevertheless, the fictional location of the discussion was at least in the vicinity of the villa, at M. Varro’s villa on the Lucrine lake, and the Academica posteriora begins, in Cumano nuper cum mecum Atticus noster esset . . . . See also Fam. 9.8.1.

(9) Pliny is describing the area known as Leboriae or the Phlegraean Fields, an area defined uia ab utroque latere consulari quae a Puteolis et quae a Cumis Capuam ducit (‘on either side by the consular road which leads from Puteoli and from Cumae to Capua’). This seems to describe a road from Capua which forks, one fork leading to Cumae and one to Puteoli, which would match our road nicely. If this was already regarded as a main road it might also explain why Statius’ account of the Via Domitiana, a road from Sinuessa to Puteoli which replaced a track as far as Cumae but between Cumae and Puteoli superseded this road, marks its end at Cumae (Statius Silv. 4.3.114-18), as if the real achievement of Domitian ended at the point where this (already well-established) road started. Alternatively, it is an indication of quite how far Cumae overshadowed Puteoli, figuratively if by no means economically. Frederiksen (1984) 37 interprets Pliny’s words rather differently, and in such a way that they describe roads encompassing a much larger extent of territory.

(10) Catullus 44.1-5 suggests that men have a choice of names for his fundus depending on their inclinations towards its owner. A villa described as Tiburtan is ipso facto ‘smarter’ than a Sabine farm. For the considerable status which accrued to the owner of a villa ‘at Cumae’ see D’Arms (1970) 199.

(11) For the roadside position of the villa see Att. 10.4.8; 14.16.1; 15.1a.1.

(12) Att. 5.2.2: habuimus in Cumano quasi pusillam Romam; tanta erat in iis locis multitudo; 14.16.1: o loca ceteroqui ualde expetenda, interpellantium autem multi-tudine paene fugienda!

(13) Cf. Pliny Ep. 1.17.4 on Titinius Capito’s erection of a statue of L. Silanus, which brought as much credit to Capito as to Silanus: neque enim magis decorum et insigne est statuam in foro populi Romani habere quam ponere.

(14) Shackleton Bailey (1980) at Ad Brut. 2.5, 16.1; PIR, 2nd edn, A 770.

(15) Syme (1939) 206 n. 8.

(16) Moles (1988) 201.

(17) See Syme (1986) 35 n. 20 for the identification of L. Saenius with Appian’s ‘Balbinus’.

(18) Cf. Cicero, Fin. 5.1-6 for the exemplary force of such physical vestiges of famous men.

(19) See n. 29 below.

(20) Frederiksen (1984) 334.

(21) For the panegyrical possibilities of the ‘taming’ of the Phlegraean Fields see Propertius 2.1.39–42, 3.9.47–8, Virgil, Aen. 9.710-16 and Hardie (1994) at 715–16. If one mythological civilizer of the area was Zeus-Jupiter, another was Hercules: a Via Herculea, supposedly constructed by the hero, separated the Lucrine lake from the open sea and was reinforced by M. Agrippa. Cf. n. 50.

(22) Beagon (1992) 229.

(23) Beagon (1992) 82.

(24) Cf. Nat. 33.1–3.

(25) Courtney (1993) 182–3.

(26) Warmington (1938) 200–1.

(27) Hutchinson (1993) 41 and n. 4.

(28) See in particular the prefatory remarks on crops at Nat. 18.1–5, which see a modulation from condemnation of man’s corruption of the simple gifts of nature to an assertion of the value of his own text with its unelaborate (yet, in its way, honourable) content.

(29) The process whereby Vetus came by the villa is plausibly proposed by D’Arms (1970) 68–70. Cicero himself identified estates in the spa region of Puteoli as among the prizes sought by Antony’s henchmen (Cicero, Phil. 8.9), and Appian (B. Civ. 4.5) talks of the triumvirs proscribing men because they possessed enviable country or town houses (ήδτ, δε TLS και Oià κάλλος ίτταύλεως και οικίας ττροεγράφη). From Velleius (2.14.3) we learn that Cicero’s town house on the Palatine came into the possession of the Antonian L. Marcius Censorinus (cf. RE 14.2.1554-5). As Syme puts it, Cicero’s ‘villas in the country and the palatial town house... cried out for confiscation’: Syme (1939) 195. Such confiscated property would ideally have been sold by the triumvirs to raise desperately needed revenue, but as D’Arms says, ‘there was more property than could find buyers’ at this time of political and economic uncertainty. The natural conclusion is that the Cumanum remained in the possession of the triumvirs, in an increasing state of disrepair, and came to Vetus from Octavian in the context of the former’s reassessment of his loyalties after Philippi.

(30) RE 23.2059.49-52 (Frederiksen): ‘Der na¨chste Eigentu¨mer, C. Antistius Vetus, baute es zu einem Badehaus um, und als solches bestand es das ganze Altertum und Mittelalter hindurch.’

(31) Nat. praef. 3, sexies consul, dates the completion of Pliny’s work to ad 77.

(32) D’Arms (1970) 200. The plane tree under which Demetrius and Apollonius converse might suggest an Academy (cf. Pliny Nat. 12.9), but more likely an archetypal location for philosophical dialogue (cf. Plato, Phaedrus 229a).

(33) This villa was part of a bequest from Cluuius, a Puteolan businessman; Cicero refers to it as the Puteolanum (Att. 14.7.1; 15.1b.1; Fat. 2), the horti Cluuiani (Att. 13.46.3; 14.16.1) or the Cluuiana (Att. 14.9.1). It has been tentatively located, by a combination of local tradition and inference from Cicero’s letters, to the immediate north-west of the ancient city of Puteoli:

(34) Tomb of Hadrian: SHA, Hadr. 25.7 (cf. 27.3). Suetonius 289, 14-16 Roth (Teub-ner), from Jerome’s Chronicle, has the notice, M. Tullius Tiro Ciceronis Puteolano praedio suo ad centesimum annum consenescit.

(35) Annecchino (1938) 40 lyrically imagines how ‘nel volger dei secoli le salmodie dei monaci rompevano il tragico silenzio, incombente sulle colonne mozze, sulle statue infrante, sugli stipiti divelti, su tutte quelle fabbriche in rovina, ancora echeg-gianti, tra sterpi, rovi ed ortiche, dei fasti del glorioso passato’.

(36) Zielinski (1912) 130: ‘man lass ihn hin und wieder, man sprach von ihm mit grosser Achtung, auch wenn man nicht recht wusste, oberein Dichter oder ein Prosaiker gewesen ist, und ob er mit Tullius zusammenfalle oder von ihm verschieden sei’.

(37) Kauffmann (1959) 12; cf. Novati (1926) 632: ‘composto o no da un medico, il De balneis puteolanis è un poema medico’. On the poem see also Raby (1934) 2.166–70. Frombeing oneofthe mostpopular textsofthe late Middle Ages (witnessthenumerous illuminated MSS to which Kauffman’s book is devoted), the De Balneis experienced a precipitate fall from grace, and is now very hard to find. It is included in J. C. Capacius’ Historia Puteolana (Naples, 1604), and the subsequent vernacular editions of the work under the title La vera antichità di Pozzuolo (and the name G. C. Capaccio), first published in Naples in 1607. The passage on the Bagni di Prato runs in full:

Balneum quod de Prato dicitur

  • Est aqua quam populi de Prato balnea dicunt:
  • creditur a multis hoc Ciceronis opus.
  • est via difficilis quae ducit ad inferiora
  • in quibus inveniet quam petit eger aquam.
  • haec bene visceribus fertur conferre molestis;
  • alleviat corpus quod gravat humor inhers.
  • dicitur et duros mire mollire lacertos,
  • et caput et scapulas ad sua iura trahit.
  • lipposos oculos declarat et ulcera tergit;
  • in toto pariter corpore praestat opem.
  • in sudore madens fugiat pro tempore frigus
  • nec potum sumat dum sua membra calent.

The So-called ‘Meadow Baths’

There are waters which the people call the ‘Meadow Baths’: this is commonly believed to be the work of Cicero. There is an awkward path which leads to a lower level, where the sick man will find the water he seeks. This water is said to be very good for troublesome guts; it relieves the body weighed down by the sluggish humour. It is also said to relax stiff arms marvellously, and to restore the head and shoulders to their proper functions. It clears bleary eyes and cleanses sores: it provides relief in the whole body equally. Whilst dripping with sweat the patient should avoid cold and should not take liquid whilst his limbs are hot.

(38) On this text, and Pontano’s contribution to the Catullan tradition in general, see Gaisser (1993) 220–33.

(39) Pontano 2.37.80–98, in the edition of Monti Sabia (1978):

  • Cumanos puer ut sinus peserrans
  • intravit placidos lacus et ipsis
  • lavit fontibus ac calente lympha
  • (ter ludens oculos puer lavabat,
  • ter natans puer ora surrigabat),
  • illi candida lux repente fulsit,
  • fulserunt nitidae ad latus pharetrae,
  • effulsit nitor aureus metalli,
  • fulserunt nitidi lacus sinusque,
  • fulsit plus solito serenus aer
  • et toto micuere litore undae.
  • Tum felix Amor et puer deusque
  • tinxit spicula fervidis in undis,
  • mox laeto pariter salutat ore:
  • ‘Salvete, o liquidi lacus et undae,
  • salvete, o latices mihi salubres,
  • o salve mihi, Tulliana lympha,
  • de cuius merito resumo tela,
  • cuius munere et hic resurgit arcus.’
When the boy, traversing the bays of Cumae, entered the calm lakes and bathed in the very springs and the hot water (thrice in play the boy bathed his eyes, thrice as he swam the boy splashed his face), suddenly his bright sight shone, the gleaming quiver at his side shone, the golden gleam of the metal shone, the gleaming lakes and bays shone, the clear sky shone even more than it usually does, and the waters glittered along the whole shore. Then Love, happy boy and god, dipped his arrows in the bubbling waters and then with joyful face and voice hails: ‘Good health, o limpid lakes and waters, good health to you, o liquid which brings me health, o I wish you good health, Ciceronian water, by whose kindness I take up my weapons again, by whose gift this bow also is restored.’

(40) For Boccaccio’s activities in this area see Reynolds and Wilson (1991) 132–4.

(41) Pfeiffer (1976) 23.

(42) On the limitations of Boccaccio’s engagement with the remains of Antiquity see Weiss (1969) 43–6.

(43) On Biondo’s life and works see, succinctly, Weiss (1969) 66–73, 108. On the ‘antiquarian’ strand of humanism represented by Flavio Biondo, see Grafton (1996) 218–19. Cf. Moatti (1993) 36: ‘Poggio Bracciolini, Bernardo Rucellai, and especially Flavio Biondo were the first to compare texts with inscriptions and remains.’

(44) Cf. Moatti (1993) 36 on Biondo’s earlier, parallel work on surviving ancient monuments, the Roma instaurata: ‘The very title of Biondo’s book Roma instaurata (Rome restored) revealed the aim of these new topographers: to rebuild Rome by scholarly evocation, which was just as important as physical restoration’; Weiss (1969) 66–7, also on the Roma instaurata: ‘[Roman remains] were irresistibly attractive to him, . . . as he saw in them a tangible proof, the still living part of the city’s ancient glory. . . . to abandon these relics now would have been tantamount to forsaking . . . what had been Roman civilization. . . . To see, but above all to show to others, what classical Rome had been, was in his view imperative.’

(45) See Clavuot (1990); and for a broader view of the ‘library-bound’ nature of humanist research see Grafton (1997).

(46) Clavuot (1990), 50.

(47) Italia illustrata (Basle, 1531) 414.

(48) A coniectura, in Biondo’s Latin, means an ‘inference’ rather than a ‘guess’; cf. p. 413 on the Sibyl’s grotto at Cumae: cauerna . . . quam Sibyllae antrum fuisse socius itineris nostri Prosper Camuleius uir doctus eam ingressus quibusdam coniecturis affirmauit. In general Biondo makes a very reliable witness. It was not in his character to jump to conclusions: see Reeve (1996) 37-9 on his exposure of Geoffrey of Monmouth and other examples of his rigorous scholarship.

(49) Fowler (2000) ch. 9.

(50) Thereis perhaps something inherently odd abouta bath acting as a monument to Cicero. The awkwardness of his association with something so essentially trivial comes across particularly strongly in a passage like that of Pontano. On the other hand, no less a figure than Hercules was associated with bath foundation, in the Phlegraean Fields and elsewhere—see Leigh (2000)—and emperors later followed his lead.

(51) Fowler (2000) 206. And thus Philip Hardie, G&R 48 (2001) 90 (from a review of Roman Constructions): ‘A monument aims to stabilize the past, but paradoxically is always the starting-point for new interpretations... In that sense this book is a monument, one that will stimulate and enable others to construct their own readings and interpretations, as Don Fowler so memorably did in life.’

(52) ‘Heliodorus’ (RE 8.15.49 ff.) apud Stobaeus, Anth. 100.6 (III, p. 244 Meineke, 4.36.8 Wachsmuth and Hense) seems certainly to be referring to the Balneum Ciceronis. This is an excerpt from a Homerizing didactic text apparently entitled ‘Ιατρικά (since the MS reading ‘Ιταλικά would surely render the opening word of the passage redundant) Θαύματα or Θεάματα which describes waters good for eye complaints near Mons Gaurus (modern Mte Barbaro, a short distance north-east of the site of the Cumanum). Gowers (1993) 54, following Kiessling and Heinze (1921), ad loc ., makes the extremely attractive identification with Horace’s travelling companion in Serm.1.5. Her further suggestion that Horace’s ‘Heliodorus’ is not a man but a book, ‘a kind of ‘‘Companion Guide to Southern Italy’’’, can be retained even if Meineke’s emendation to ‘Ιατρικά is adopted. What more appropriate book than a kind of home health encyclopaedia for the hypochondriac satirist of 1.5, whose lippitudo (30-31) would have benefited from a dip in Cicero’s springs?

  • ’Ίταλίης ού πολλαν ύπερστείχοντι κολώνην
  • Γαυρανην χώρη τνς ὁοιτάων ίπΐ λαίà
  • κΙκλιται, άργήεσσα χιών ώς· έκ δε οι ཕοωρ
  • άΐσσει, μάλα πικρί,ν άναπνεΰσαι πιέειν τε.
  • κείνο πολυστάφυλοι περιναιίται ãvépes ΐιοωρ
  • ὕσσων Άκαρ ίχουαιν Ò μέν λοετροΐο χατίζων
  • αΰτως, ὕφρα kε μοίνον év ὕοατι γυΐα καθήρη,
  • οφθαλμούς βλεφάροισι λίην άραρώσι καλύψας
  • δεύεται, ως μή οΙ τι παραδράμτ, ϊρκεος είοω
  • ύγρον ίπϊ γλήνης- το γαρ Άγεος αίτιον èariv.
  • ὕς δέ κε λημηρτ νεφέλτ πεπυκαομένοξ ὕσσε
  • ασχάλλγ ὕδναις, KcpociMa δ αμφϊ χιτώνα
  • οίοος πιαλέοιοι περιβριθχ, πελάνοιοι
  • κείνω καίριόν kaτι καϊ άσφαλέζ ὕμμα οιηναι
  • άμπετές άκλήιστον αφαρ δ ίπο πάσα τελέσθη
  • θυμοδακ-ί,ς οδύνη, péa δ Άθεται ΰοατι νοΰοος.

In Italy, not far beyond the peak of Gaurus, a place slopes away to the left of travellers, white as snow. From it shoots water very bitter to breathe and drink. In that water the vine-rich men who live about have a protection for the eyes. He who wants a bath only in order to clean his limbs in the water covers his eyes with lids tightly shut before he drenches himself, so that no liquid may pass inside the barrier to the eyeball: for that is a causeofpain. But whoeverisdistressed with pains, his eyes covered witharheumy cloud, and whoever has swelling around the curved lower lids, hanging down with thick pus, for him it is appropriate and safe to wet the eye wide-open and unfastened. Forthwith all heart-biting pain is quite ended, and the disease is easily healed by the water.

(53) Cf. Benvenisti (2000) esp. 11–54. Benvenisti describes the process whereby the newly established state of Israel replaced Arabic with Hebrew toponyms, and the ongoing Palestinian resistance to this assertion of cultural and political hegemony. More clearly than most such instances the new map of Israel encoded a perception of the ‘true nature’ of the landscape being described.

(54) On the Neronian and Flavian construction of ‘Golden Age’ Latin literature as classics, see Mayer (1982) 317–18. Cf. Isager (1991) 223–9, esp. 229: ‘in spite of everything this is a laudatio of Rome, a clear signal of the coming new times and of the revival of ancient virtues that are being promulgated by the Flavian dynasty’; Conte (1994) 491-2 for the connoisseur Silius’ ‘museumlike conception of literature’; and Feeney (1991) 302.

(55) On the nationalistic dimension of the Neapolitan myths of Virgil, specifically, see Comparetti (1997) 283–5. It is worth considering whether Peter of Eboli’s suppression of such material might have something to do with his loyalty to the imperial cause, and suspicion of material associated with Neapolitan autonomy. For Peter’s politics, see Novati (1926).

(56) For this text and its various editions see n. 37.

(57) Historia Puteolana 46–7.

(58) Maps and images of the contemporary topography of the Phlegraean Fields are available online at

(59) Baedeker (1896), 97, and maps between pp. 92 and 93.