Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Cicero's Life and letters : The life of Cicero, by Dr. Middleton, Cicero's letters to his friends, translated by Wm. Melmoth [and] Cicero's letters to Atticus, translated by Dr. Heberden online

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Online LibraryMarcus Tullius CiceroCicero's Life and letters : The life of Cicero, by Dr. Middleton, Cicero's letters to his friends, translated by Wm. Melmoth [and] Cicero's letters to Atticus, translated by Dr. Heberden → online text (page 64 of 230)
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opportunities of his leisure, to take some friends
with him into the country, where, instead of
amusing themselves with idle sports or feasts, their
diversions were wholly speculative, — tending to
improve the mind and enlarge the understanding.
In this manner he now spent five days at his Tus-
culan villa in discussing with his friends the several
questions just mentioned ; for after employing the
mornings in declaiming and rhetorical exercises,
they used to retire in the afternoon into a gallery
called the Academy, which he had built for the
purpose of philosopliical conferences, where, after
the manner of the Greeks, he held a school, as they
called it, and invited the company to call for any
subject that they desired to hear explained ; which
being proposed accordingly by some of the audience,
became immediately the argument of that day's
debate. These five conferences or dialogues he
collected afterwards into writing, in the very words
and manner in which they really passed, and pub-
lished them under the title of his Tusculan Disputa-
tions, from the name of the villa in which they
were held''.

He wrote also a little piece in the way of a
funeral encomium in praise of Porcia, the sister of

h Praefat. Davis in Lib. De Fin.

i De Fin. i. 3.

k In Tusculano, cum essent complures mecum fami-
liares — ponere jubebam, de quo quis audire vellet ; ad id
aut sedens aut arobulans disputabam. Itaque dierum
quinque scholas, ut Gra;ci appellant, in totidem libros
contuli. — Tusc. Disp. i. 4.

Itaque cum ante meridiem dictioni operam dedissemus
— post meridiem in Academiam descendimus : in qua dis-
putationem habitam non quasi narrantes cxponiraus, sed
eisdem fere verbis ut actum disputatumque est.— Ibid. ii.
3 ; iii. 3?.




Cato and wife of Domitius Ahenol)nrbiis, Caesar's
mortal enemy ; whieli shows how little he was still
disposed to court the times. Varro and LoUius
attempted the same subject, and Cicero desires
Atticus to send him their compositions; but all
the three arc now lost, — thouf^h C;icero took the
pains to revise and correct his, and sent copies of
it afterwards to Domitius the son, and Brutus the
nepliew of that Porcia'.

C'i;-~ar contiinied all this while in Spain jiursuing
the sons of Pompey, and providini^ for the future
j)eace and settlement of tlie jirovincc ; whence he
paid Cicero the compliment of sending him an ac-
count of his success with his own hand. Ilirtius
also gave him early intelligence of the defeat and
flight of the two brothers, which was not disagree-
able to him ; for though he was not much concerned
about the event of the war, and expected no good
from it on either side, yet the opinion which he
had conceived of the fierceness and violence of the
young Pompeys, especially of the elder of them
Cuaeus, engasjed his wishes rather for Csesar. In
a letter to Atticus, " Hirtius (says he) wrote me
word that Sextus Pomjiey had withdrawn himself
from Corduba into the hither Spain, and that
Cuicus too was fled I know not whither, nor in
truth do I care"'." And this indeed seems to have
been the common sentiment of all the rejjublicans ;
as Cassius himself, writing to Cicero on the same
subject, declares still more explicitly : " May I
j)erish (says he,) if I be not solicitous about the
event of things in Spain, and would rather keep
our old and clement master than try a new and
cruel one. You know what a fool Cnseus is, — how-
he takes cruelty for a virtue, how he has always
thought that we laughed at him ; I am afraid lest
he should take it into his head to repay our jokes
in his rustic manner with the sword"."

Young Quintus Cicero, who made the campaign
along with Ciesar, thinking to please his company
and to make his fortunes the better among them,
began to play over his old game and to abuse his
uncle again in all places. Cicero, in his account
of it to Atticus, says, " there is nothing new but
that Hirtius has been quarrelling in my defence
with our nephew Quintus, who takes all occasions
of saying everything bad of me, and especially at
public feasts, and when he has done with me falls
next upon his father. He is thought to say nothing
so credible as that we are both irreconcilable to
Caesar, that Csesar should trust neither of us, and
even beware of me : this would be terrible, did I
not see that our king is persuaded that I have no
spirit left"."

1 Laudationem Porciae tibi misi correctam : ac eo pro-
peravi ; ut si forte aut Domitio filio aut Bruto mltteretur,
haDC niitteretiir. Id si tibi erit commodum, luognopere
cares velim ; et velim M. Varronis, Lolliique mittas lauda-
tionem. — Ad Att. xiii. 48 ; it. 37.

■n Hirtius ad me scripsit, Sex. Pompeium Corduba
exisse, et fugisae in Hispaniam citeriorem ; Cnseum
fugisse nescio quo, neque enim euro. — Ad Att. xii. .37.

n Peream, nisi soUicitus sum ; ac malo veterem ac
clementem dominum habere, quam novum et crudelem
experir:. Scis, Cnaeua quam sit fatuus ; scis quomodo
crudelitatem virtutem putet ; scis, quam se semper a
nobis derisuni putet.

Vereor, ne nos rustice gladio velit avTiuvKTTjpiiXai. —
Ep. Fam. xv. VJ.

o Novi sane nihil, nisi Hirtiuni cum Quinto accrrime
pro me litigasse; omnibus eum locis facers, maiimeque

Atticus was always endeavouring to moderate
Cicero's imjjatience under the present government,
and persuading him to comi)ly more cheerfully
with the times, nor to reject the friendship of
Cjesar, which was so forwardly offered to him ; and
upon his frequent complaints of the slavery and
indignity of his jjresent condition, he took occasioa
to ol>serve, what Cicero could not but own to be
true, that if to j)ay a j)articular court and observ-
ance to a man was the mark of slavery, those in.
])()wer seemed to be slaves rather to him than he
to them''. With the same view he was now pressing
him among his other works to think of something
to be addressed to Caesar : but Cicero had no appe-
tite to this task ; he saw how difficult it would be
to j)erform it without lessening his character and
descending to flattery, — yet being urged to it also
by other friends, he drew up a letter, which was
communicated to Hirtius and Balbus, for their
judgment ujion it whether it was proper to be sent
to Caisar. The subject seems to have been some
advice about restoring the peace and liberty of
the republic, and to dissuade him from the Parthian
war, which he intended for his next expedition, till
he had finished the more necessary work of settling
the state of things at home. " There was nothing
in it (he says) but what might come from the
best of citizens." It was drawn however w-ith so
much freedom, that though Atticus seemed pleased
with it, yet the other two durst not advise the
sending it unless some passages were altered and
softened, which disgusted Cicero so much that he
resolved not to write at all ; and when Atticus was
still urging him to be more complaisant, he an-
swered with great spirit in two or three letters''.

" As for the letter to Csesar (says he), I was
always very willing that they should first read it ;
for otherwise I had both been wanting in civility
to them, and if I had happened to give offence,
exposed myself also to danger. They have dealt
ingenuously and kindly with me in not concealing
what they thought ; but what pleases me the most
is, that by requiring so many alterations they give
me an excuse for not writing at all. As to the
Parthian war, what had I to consider about it but
that which I thought would please him ? for what
subject was there else for a letter but flattery? or if
I had a mind to advise what I really took to be the
best, could I have been at a loss for words? There
is no occasion, therefore, for any letter : for where
there is no great matter to be gained, and a slip,
though not great, may make us uneasy, what
reason is there to run any risk ? especially when it
in conviviis ; cum multa de me, turn redire ad patrem :
nihil autem ab eo tam a^ioTriaroos dici, quam alienis-
simos nos esse a Cassare ; fidcm nobis habendam non esse ;
me vero cavenduni. Kpo^ephf rjV, nisi vidercm scire re-
gem, me animi nihil habere. — Ad Att. xiii. 37.

P Et si mehercule, ut tu intelligis, mngis niihi isti ser-
vimit, si observare servire est. — Ad Att. xiii. 49.

1 Epistolam ad Ccesarem mitti video ILbi placere — ^mihi.
quidem hoc idem maxime placuit. et eo niagie, quod nihil
est in ea nisi optimi civis ; sed ita optimi, ut tempora,
quibus parere omnes ttoXitikoi praecipiunt. Sed scis ita
nobis esse visum, ut istl ante legerent. Tu igitur id
curabis. Sed nisi plane intelliges iis placere, mittenda
non est. — Ad Att. xii. .51.

De epistola ad Ceesarem, KeKpiKa. Atque id ipsum,
quod isti aiunt ilium scribere, se, nisi constitutis rebus,
non iturum in Parthos, .'demego suadebam in ilia epistola-
—Ibid. xiii. 31,



is natural for him to think that as I wrote nothing
to him before, so I should have written nothing
now, had not the war been wholly ended : besides I
am afraid lest he should imagine that I sent this
as a sweetener for my ' Cato.' In short, I was
heartily ashamed of what I had written ; and no-
thing could fall out more luckily than that it did
not please ■■."

Again, " as for writing to Caesar, I swear to you
I cannot do it : nor is it yet the shame of it that
deters me which ought to do it the most ; for how
mean would it be to flatter whea even to live is
"base in me ? But it is not, as I was saying, this
shame which hinders me, though I wish it did, for
I should then be what I ouglit to be ; but I can
think of nothing to write upon. As to those
exhortations addressed to Alexander by the eloquent
and the learned of that time, you see on what
points they turn : they are addressed to a youth
inflamed with the thirst of true glory and desiring
to be advised how to acquire it. On an occasion
of such dignity words can never be wanting ; but
what can I do on my subject? Yet I had scratched
as it were out of the block some faint resemblance
of an image ; but because there were some things
hinted in it a little better than what we see done
every day, it was disliked. I am not at all sorry
for it ; for had the letter gone, take my word for it
I should have had cause to repent. For do you not
see that very scholar of Aristotle, a youth of the
greatest parts and the greatest modesty, after he
came to be called a king, grow proud, cruel, extra-
vagant ? Do you imagine that this man, ranked
in the processions of the gods and enshrined in the
same temple with Romulus, will be pleased with
the moderate style of my letters ? It is better that
he be disgusted at my not writing, than at wliat I
write. In a word, let him do what he pleases ; for
that problem which I once proposed to you and
thought so difficult, in what way I should manage
him, is over with me ; and in truth I now wish
more to feel the effect of his resentment, be it what
it will, than I was before afraid of it^" " I beg
of you, therefore, (says he in another letter,) let us
have no more of this, but show ourselves at least
ihalf free, by our silence and retreat'."

From this little fact, one cannot help reflecting
on the fatal effects of arbitrary power upon the
studies and compositions of men of genius, and on
the restraint that it necessarily lays on the free
course of good sense and truth among men. It
had yet scarce shown itself in Rome, when we see
one of the greatest men, as well as the greatest
wits which that repubhc ever bred, embarrassed in
the choice of a subject to write upon, and for fear
■of offending choosing not to write at all ; and it
was the same power which, from this beginning,
gradually debased the purity both of the Roman
■wit and language, from the perfection of elegance to
■which Cicero had advanced them, to that state of
rudeness and barbarism which we find in the pro-
ductions of the lower empire.

This was the present state of things between
Ca;sar and Cicero, all the marks of kindness on
Caesar's part, of coldness and reserve on Cicero's.
Caesar was determined never to part with his
power, and took the more pains for that reason to
r Ad Att. xiii. 27. « Ad Att. xiii 28.

' Obsecro, abjiciamus ista ; et semiliberi saltern simus ;
iquod assequemur et tacendo, et latendo.— Ibid. 31.

make Cicero easy under it ; he seems indeed to
have been somewhat afraid of him, not of his en-
gaging in any attempt against his life, but lest by
his insinuations, his railleries, and his authority, he
should excite others to some act of violence ; but
what he more especially desired and wanted was, to
draw from him some public testimony of his ap-
j)robation, and to be recommended by his writings
to the favour of posterity.

Cicero, on the other hand, perceiving no step
taken towards the establishment of the republic,
but more and more reason every day to despair of
it, grew still more indifferent to everything else ;
the restoration of public liberty was the only con-
dition on which he could entertain any friendship
with Csesar, or think and speak of him with any
respect ; without that no favours could oblige him,
since to receive them from a master was an affront
to his former dignity, and but a splendid badge of
servitude : books, therefore, were his only comfort,
for while he conversed with them he found himself
easy, and fancied himself free. — Thus, in a letter
to Cassius, touching upon the misery of the times,
he adds, " What is become, then, you'll say, of
philosophy } why, yours is in the kitchen, but
mine is troublesome to me ; for I am ashamed to
live a slave, and feign myself, therefore, to be doing
something else, that I may not hear the reproach
of Plato"."

During Caesar's stay in Spain, Antony set for-
ward from Italy to pay his compliments to him
there, or to meet him at least on the road in his
return towards home : but when he had made about
half of the journey, he met with some despatches
which obliged him to turn back inall haste to Rome.
This raised a new alarm in the city, and especially
among the Pompeians, who were afraid that Cfesar,
having now subdued all opposition, was resolved,
after the example of former conquerors, to take
his revenge in cool blood on all his adversaries, and
had sent Antony back as the properest instrument
to execute some orders of that sort. Cicero him-
self had the same suspicion, and was much sur-
prised at Antony's sudden return ; till Balbus and
Oppius eased him of his apprehensions by sending
him an account of the true reason of it"; which,
contrary to expectation, gave no uneasiness at last
to anybody but to Antony himself. Antony had
bought Pompey's houses in Rome and the neigh-
bourhood, with all their rich furniture, at Caesar's
auction, soon after his return from Egypt ; but,
trusting to his interest with Caesar, and to the part
which he had borne in advancing him to his power,
never dreamt of being obliged to pay for them ;
but Caesar, being disgusted by the account of his
debauches and extravagances in Italy, and resolved
to show himself the sole master, nor suffer any con-
tradiction to his will, sent peremptory orders to L.
Plancus, the praetor, to require immediate payment
of Antony, or else to levy the money upon his
sureties according to the tenor of their bond. This

" Ubi igitur, inquies, philosophia ? Tua quidem in
culina ; inea molesta est. I'udet enim servire. Itaque
facio me alias res agere, ne convicium Platonis audiam. —
Ep. Fam. xv. 18.

^ Heri cum ex aliorum litoris cognovissem de Antonii
adventu, admiratus sum nihil esse iii tuis. — Ad Att. xii. 18.

De Antonio Balbus quoquead me cum Oppio conscripsit,
idque tibi placuisse, ne perturbarer. IlUs egi gr.ittas, -
Ibid. ]<).



was the cause of his quick return, to prevent that
disgrace from falling upon him, and find some
m'?an8 of complying with Ciesar's commaiuls ; it
provoked liiin however to such a degree, that in
the height of his resentment lie is said to have
i?n*ered into a design of taking away Ca;sar's life ;
of which CiEsar liimself complained openly in the

Tlie war heing ended in Spain by the death of
Cnieus Pomjiey and the flight of Sextus, Ca;sar
finished his answer to Cicero's " Cato,'' in two
•rooks, which he sent immeiliately to Rome in order
to he published. This gave Cicero at last the argu-
ment of a letter to him to return thanks for the great
<'ivility with which he had treated liiin in that
piece ; and to pay his compliments likewise in his
turn upon the elegance of the composition. Tiiis
letter was communicated again to Balbus and
Oppius, who declared themselves extremely pleased
with it, and forwarded it directly to Caesar. In
Cicero's account of it to Atticus, " 1 forgot," says
he, " to send you a copy of what I wrote to Cjesar ;
not for the reason which you suspect, that I was
ashamed to let you see how well I could flatter ;
for, in truth, I wrote to him no otherwise than as
if I was writing to an etjual, for I really have a
good opinion of his two books, as I told you when
we were together, and wrote, therefore, both with-
out flattering him ; and yet so that he will read
nothing, I believe, with more pleasure'."

Ceesar returned to Rome about the end of Sep-
tember, when, divesting himself of the consulsnip,
he conferred it on Q. Fabius Maximus
A. up.B. 700. and C. Treboaius for the three remain-

cic. 62. jjjg months of the year''. His first
care ^fter his arrival was to entertain
MAXIMUS ^'^^ '^''-y ^''"'^ ^^^ most splendid

c. TREDO-' triumph which Rome had ever seen ;
Nrus. but the people, instead of admiring

and applauding it as he expected, were
sullen and silent, considering it, as it really was, a
triumph over themselves, purchased by the loss of
their liberty 'and the destruction of the best and
noblest families of the republic. They had before
given the same proof of their discontent at the Cir-
censian games, where Caesar's statue, by a decree
of the senate, was carried in the procession along
with those of the gods ; for they gave none of their
usual acclamations to the favourite deities as they

y Appellatus es de pecunia, quaui pro domo, pro hortis,
pro sectione debebas — et ad te et ad prsedes tuos milites
niisit. [Phil. ii. 29.] Idcirco urbem terrore nocturne,
Italiam multorumdierum metu pertuvbasti — neL. Plancus
pra^des tuos venderet — [ibid. 31.] Quin his ipsia temporibus
domi Caesaris percussor ab isto missus, deprehensiis dice-
batur esse cum sica. De quo Caesar in senatu, aperte in to
invehens, questus est. — Ibid. 29.

^ Conscripsi de his libris epistolam Caesari, quae defcr-
retur ad Dolabellam: sed ejus exemplum niisi ad Balbuin
et Oppium, scripsique ad eos, ut turn deferri ad Dola-
bellam juberent nieas literas, si ipsi exemplum probas-
sent ; ita mihi rescripserunt, nihil unquam se legisse
melius. — Ad Att. xiii. 50.

Ad Caisarem quam inisi epistolam, ejus exemplum
fugit me turn tibi mittere ; nee id .'uit quod suspicaris,
ut me puderet tui — nee mehercule scrips! aliter, ac si
TTphs 'iaov H/MOiov que scriberem. Bene enim cxistimo de
ill is libris, ut tibi coram. Itaque scripsi et a.Ko\aK€vrws,
et taraen sic, ut nihil eum existimem lecturum libentius.
—Ibid. 51.

" Utroque anno bines consules substituit sibi in tcrr.os
novisBimos menaea. — Suet. J. Cks. 76.

passed, lest they should be thought to give them
to Cuesar. Atticus sent an account of it to Cicero,
who says in answer to him, " Your letter was
agreeable, though the show was so sad — the peo-
ple, however, bi-haved bravely, who would not clap
even the goddess Victory for the sake of so bad an
neighbour'*." Cicsar, however, to make amend*
for rlie unpopularity of his triumph, and to put the
jjcople into good humour, entertained the whole
city soon after with something more substantial
than shows ; two public dinners, with jilenty of the
most esteemed and costly wines of Chios and

Soon after Caesar's triumph, the consul FabiuB,
one of his lieutenants in Spain, was allowed to
triumph too, for tlie reduction of some parts of that
province which had revolted ; but the magnificence
of Caesar made Fabius's triumph aj)pear contem))-
tible, for his models of the conquered towns, which
were always a jiart of the show, being made only
of wood when Ciesar's were of silver or ivory,
Chrysijipus merrily called them, the cases only of
Caesar's towns''.

Cicero resided generally in the country, and
withdrew himself wholly from the senate'^ ; but on
Ctesar's approaeii towards Rome, Lepidus began
to press him by repeated letters to come and give
them his assistance, assuring him that both he and
Caisar would take it very kindly of him. He could
not guess for what ))articular service they wanted
him, except the dedication of some temple to which
the presence of three augurs was necessary'.
But whatever it was, as liis friends had long beea
urging the same advice and persuading him to
return to public affairs, he consented at last to
quit his retirement and come to the city ; where,
soon after Caesar's arrival, he had an opportunity
of employing his authority and eloquence, where
he exerted them always with the greatest pleasure,
la the service and defence of an old friend, king

This prince had already been deprived by CaesaLT.
of part of his dominions for his adherence to
Pompey, and was now in danger of losing the rest,
from an accusation preferred against him by his
grandson, of a design pretended to have been
formed by him against Caesar's life, when Caesar
was entertained at his house four years before, ou
his return from Egypt. The charge was groundless
and ridiculous ; but under his present disgrace any
charge was sufficient to ruin him, and Caesar's-
countenancing it so far as to receive and hear it,

•> Suaves tuas literas ! etsi acerba pompa — populum
veio praeclarum, quod propter tarn malum vicinum, ne
Victori.'E quidem x^lauditur. — Ad Att. xiii. 44.

c Quid non et Caesar dictator triumphi sui coena vini
Falerni amphoras, Chii cados in convivia distribuit? idem
in liispaniensi triumpho Chium et Falernuni' dedit — Flia.
Hist. Nat. xiv. 15.

Adjecit post Ilispanicnsem victoriam duo. prandia.—
Sueton. 38.

il Ut Chrysippus, cum in triumpho Caesaris eborea
oppida essent translata, et post dies paucos Fabii Maximi
lignea, thecas esse oppidorum Caesaris dixit. — Quint, vi. 3 ;
Dio, 234.

^ Cum his temporibus non sane in senatum ventitarem.
Ep. Fam. xiii. 77-

I Ecce tibi, orat Lepidus, ut reniam. Opinor augurea
nil habere ad templum effandum. — Ad Att. xiii. 42.

Lepidus ad me heri — literas misit. Kogat magnopere ut
sim Kalend. in sonatu, me et sibi et Caesari vehementer
Kratum esse f£.(!t'jrM>»»^— Ibid. 47-



showed a strong prejudice against the king, and
that he wanted only a pretence for stripping him
of all that remained to him. Brutus likewise in-
terested himself very warmly in the same cause ;
and when he went to meet Cfesar on his road from
Spain, made an oration to him at NicEea, in favour
of Deiotarus, with a freedom which startled Ctesar,
and gave him occasion to reflect on what he had
not perceived so clearly before, the invincible fierce-
ness and vehemence of Brutus's temper *>'. The pre-
sent trial was held in Caesar's house, where Cicero
so manifestly exposed the malice of the accuser
and the innocence of the accused, thatCsesar, being
determined not to acquit, yet ashamed to condemn
him, chose the expedient of reserving his sentence
to farther deliberation, till he should go in person
into the East, and inform himself of the whole affair
upon the spot. Cicero says that Deiotarus, neither
present nor absent, could ever obtain any favour or
equity from Csesar ; and that as oft as he pleaded
for him, which he was always ready to do, he
could never persuade Cfesar to think anything
reasonable that he asked for him''. He sent a copy
of his oration to the king, and, at Dolabella's
request, gave another likewise to him, excusing it
as a trifling performance and hardly worth trans-
cribing ; " but I had a mind, (says he,) to make a
slight present to my old friend and host, of coarse
stuff indeed, yet such as his presents usually are to

Some little time after this trial, Caesar, to show
his confidence in Cicero, invited himself to spend
a day with him at his house in the country, and
chose the third day of the Saturnalia for his visit,

Online LibraryMarcus Tullius CiceroCicero's Life and letters : The life of Cicero, by Dr. Middleton, Cicero's letters to his friends, translated by Wm. Melmoth [and] Cicero's letters to Atticus, translated by Dr. Heberden → online text (page 64 of 230)