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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a season always dedicated to mirth and feasting
amongst fiiends and relations''. Cicero gives
Atticus the following account of the entertainment,
and how the day passed between them. " O this
guest," says he, "whom I so much dreaded ! yet
I had no reason to repent of him, for he was well
pleased with his reception. "When he came the
evening before, on the eighteenth, to my neighbour
Philip's, the house was so crowded with soldiers
that there was scarce a room left empty for Csesar
to sup in ; there were about two thousand of
them, which gave me no small pain for the next
day ; but Barba Cassius relieved me, for he assigned
me a guard, and made the rest encamp in the
field, so that my house was clear. On the nine-
teenth, he staid at Philip's till one in the after-

S Ad Alt. xiv. ]. The Jesuits, Catrou and Rouille, take
Nioea, where Brutus made this speech, to be the capital
of Bithynia, Deiotarus's kingdom : but it was a city on
the Ligurian coast, still called Nice, where Brutus met
Caesar on his last return from Spain ; and when he was not
able to prevail for Deiotarus, Cicero was forced to under-
take the cause as soon as Caesar came to Rome. — Hist. torn,
xvii. p. 91. uot.

•> Quis enim cuiquam inimicitior, quam Deiotnro
Cassar? — a quo neo praesers, nee absens rex Deiotarus
quidquam sequi boni impetravit — ille nunquam, semper
enini absenti affui Deiotaro, quioquam sibi, quod nos pro
illo postularemus, aequum dixit videri. — Phil. ii. 37.

• Oratiunculam pro Deiotaro, quam requirebas — tibi
misi. Quam velim sic legas, ut causam tenuem et inopem,
nee scriptione magno opere dignani. Sed ego hospiti veteri
et amico munuseujum mittere volui levidense, crasso filo,
cujugmodi ipsius Solent esse munera. — Ep. Fam. ix. 12.

^ This festival, .after Csesar's reformation of the calen-
dar, began on the 17th of December, and lasted three days.
— Macrob. Saturn, i. 10.

noon, but saw nobody ; was settling accounts, I
guess, with Balbus ; then took a walk on the
shore; bathed after two; heard the verses on
Mamurra', at which he never clianged counte-
nance ; was rubbed, anointed, sat down to table.
Having taken a vomit just before, he ate and drank
freely, and was very cheerful™: the supper was
good and well served :

But our discourse at table, as we eat,
For taste and seasoning still exceU'd our meat".
Besides Cssar's table, his friends were plentifully
provided for in three other rooms ; nor was there
anything wanting to his freedinen of lower rank
and his slaves, but the better sort were elegantly
treated. In a word, I acquitted myself like a man ;
yet he is not a guest to whom one would say at
l)arting, ' Pray call upon me again as you return ;'
once is enough ; we had not a word on business,
but many on points of literature : in short, he was
delighted with his entertainment, and passed the
day agreeably. He talked of sjjending one day at
Puteoli, another at Baise ; thus yo)i see the manner
of my receiving him, somewhat troublesome indeed,
but not uneasy to me. I shall stay here a little
longer, and then to Tusculum. As he passed by
Dolabella's villa, his troops marched close by his

1 Mamurra was a Roman knight, and general of the
artillery to Csesar in Gaul ; where he raised an immense
fortune, and is said to have been the first man in Rome
who.incrusted his house with marble, and made all his pil-
lars of solid marble. [I'lin. Hist. Nat. xxxvi. C] He waa
severely lashed, together with Cfesar himself, for his
excessive luxury, and more infamous vices, by Catullus ;
whose verses are still extant, and the same probably that
Cicero here refers to, as being first read to Caisar at his
house.— Vide CatuU. 27, 55.

The reader perhaps will not readily understand the time
and manner of Caesar's passing from Philip's house to
Cicero's in this short account of it : but it must be remem-
bered, that their villas were adjoining to each other on
the Formian coast, near Cajeta ; so tliat when Csesar came
out of Philip's at one, he took a walk on the shore for about
an hour, and then entered into Cicero's ; where the bath
was prepared for him, and in bathing, he heard Catuilus'a
verses ; not produced by Cicero, for that would not have
been agreeable to good manners, but by some of his own
friends who attended him, and who knew his desire to see
everything that was published against him, as well as hia
easiness in slighting or forgiving it.

™ The custom of takhig a vomit both immediately before
and after meals, which Cicero mentions Cfesar to have
done on different occasions, [Pro Deiot. 7-] was very com-
mon with the Romans, and used by them as an instrument
both of their luxury and of their health : " they vomit,"
says Seneca, " that they may eat, and eat that they may
vomit." [Consol. ad Ilelv. 9.] By this evacuation before
eating, they were prepared to eat more plentifully ; and
by emptying themselves presently after it, prevented any
luirt fron^ repletion. Thus Vitellius, wlio was a famous
glutton, is said to have preserved his life by constant
vomits, while he destroyed all his companions who did not
use the same caution : [Sueton. 12 ; Dio, Ixv. 734.] And the
practice was thought so effectual for strengthening the
constitution, that it was the constant regimen of all the
athletae, or the professed wrestlers trained for the public
shows, in order to make them more robust. So that Cssar's
vomiting before dinner was a sort of compliment to Cicero,
as it intimated a resolution to pass the day cheerfully and
to eat and drink freely with him.

n This is a citation from Lucilius, of an hexameter verse,
with part of a second, which is not distinguished from
the text, in the eaitions of Cicero's Letters,
sea bene cocto et
tVmdito sermone bono, et si quaeris libcnter.



horse's side on the right and left, wliich was done
nowhere else. I liad this from Nicias"."

On the last of December, when the consul Tre-
bonius was abroad, his coUeaijuc, Q. Fabius, died
suddenly ; and liis death l)iing declared in the
morning, C. Caninius Rebilus was named by
Ciesar to the vacancy at one in the afternoon,
whose office was to continue only through the re-
maining part of that day. Tiiis wanton j)rofanation
of the sovereitfu dignity of the eni])ire raised a
general indignation in the city, and a consulate
BO ridiculous gave birth to nuu'h raillery, and many
jokes which are transmitted to us by the ancientsi',
of which Cicero, who was the chief autlior of them,
gives us the following specimen in his own account
of the fact.

Cicero to Curius.

" I no longer either advise or desire you to come
home to us, but want to fly somewhitlier myself,
where I may liear neither the name nor the acts of
these sons of Pelops. It is incredible how meanly
I think of myself for being present at these transac-
tions. You had surely an early foresight of what
was coming on when you ran away from this (jlace ;
for though it be vexatious to hear of such things,
yet that is more tolerable than to see them. It is
well that you were not in the field when, at seven
in the morning, as they were proceeding to an
election of quiestors, the chair of Q. Maxinius,
whom they called consul'', was set in its place, but
liis death being immediately proclaimed, it was
removed, and Caesar, though he had taken the
auspices for an assembly of the tribes, changed it
to an assembly of the centuries ; and at one in the
afternoon, declared a new consul, who was to
govern till one the next morning. I would have
you to know, therefore, that whilst Caninius was
consul nobody dined, and that there was no crime
committed in his consulship, for he was so won-
derfully vigilant that through his whole adminis-
tration he never so much as slept. These things
seem ridiculous to you, who are absent, but were
you to see them you would hardly refrain from
tears. What if I should tell you the rest ? For
there are numberless facts of the same kind, which
I could never have borne if I had not taken refuge
in the port of philosophy with our friend Atticus,
the companion and partner of my studies," &c.''

Caesar had so many creatures and dependants,
who expected the honour of the consulship from
him as the reward of their services, that it was
impossible to oblige them all in the regular way,
so that he ^as forced to contrive the expedient of
splitting it, as it were, into parcels, and conferring
it for a few months, or weeks, or even days, as it
happened to suit his convenience : and as the
thing itself was now but a name, without any real
power, it was of little moment for what term it was
granted, since the shortest gave the same privilege

° Ad Alt. xiii. 52.

P Macrob. Saturn, ii. 3 ; Dio, p. 236.

<J Cicero would not allow a consul of throe months, so
irregularly chosen, to be properly called a consul : nor did
the people themselves acknowledge him : for, as Suetonius
tells us, [in J. Cacs. 80.] when, upon Fabius's entrance into
the theatre, his officers, according to custom, proclaimed
his presence, apd ordered the people lo make way fur the
consul, the wliole assembly cried out Jle is no consul,

* Ep. Fam. vii. 30.

cic. 03


with the longest, and a man once declared consul,
enjoyed ever after the rank and character of a con-
sular senator'.

On the opening of the new year, Ctesar entered
into his fifth consulship, in partnersiiip with M.
Antony : he had promised it all along
*• ;;«n;.,7<«- to Dolabtlla, but, contrary to expec-
tation, took it at last to himself. This
was contrived by Antony, who, jea-
lous of Dolaljella as a rival in Cu-'sar's
M. ANTo- favour, had been suggesting somewhat

NH)8. to his disadvantage, and labouring to

create a diftidenee of him in Ciesar ;
which seems to liave been the ground of what is
mentioned above, Csesar's guarding himself so
particularly when he passed l)y his villa. Dolabella
was sensibly touched with this affront, and came
full of indignation to the senate, where, not daring
to vent his spleen on Caesar, he entertained the
assembly with a severe speech against Antony,
which drew on many warm and angry words be-
tween them ; till Cxsar, to end the dispute, pro-
mised to resign tlie consulship to Dolabella before
he went to the Parthian war : but Antony protested
that, by his authority as augur, he would disturb
that election wlienever it should be attempted';
and declared, without any scruple, that the ground
of his quarrel with Dolabella was for having caught
him in an attempt to debauch his wife Antonia, the
daughter of his uncle ; though that was thought to
be a calumny, contrived to colour his divorce with
her and his late marriage with Fulvia, the widow
of Clodius".

Caesar was now in the height of all his glory,
and dressed (as Florus says) in all his trappings,
like a victim destined to sacrifice''. He had received
from the senate the most extravagant honours,
both human and divine, which flattery could
invent, a temple, altar, priest ; his image carried
in procession with the gods ; his statue among the
kings ; one of the months called after his name,
and a perpetual dictatorship''. Cicero endeavoured
to restrain the excess of this complaisance withia
the bounds of reason^, but in vain, since Caesar
was more forward to receive than they to give ;
and out of the gaiety of his pride, and to try, as it
were, to what length their adulation would reach,
when he was actually possessed of everything which
carried with it any real power, was not content still
without a title, which could add nothing but envy
and popular odium, and wanted to be called a
king. Plutarch thinks it a strange instance of folly
in the people to endure with patience all the real
effects of kingly government, yet declare such an
abhorrence to the name. But the folly was not so
strange in the people as it was in Caesar : it is
natural to the multitude to be governed by names
rather than things, and the constant art of parties

» Dio, p. 240.

' Cum Ceesar ostendisset, se, priusquam proficisceretur,
Dolabellam consulem essejussurum — hie bonus augur eo
sc sacerdotio praditum esse dixit, ut comitia auspiciis vel
impedire vel vitiare posset, idque se facturum asseveravit.
—Phil. ii. 32.

1 Prequentissimo senatu — banc tibi esse cum Dolabella
causam odii dicere ausus es, quod ab eo sorori et uxori
tuae stupruni oblatum esse comperisses. — Phil. ii. 38.

'^ Quae omnia, velut infute, in destinatani morti victi>
mam congerebantur. — Flor. iv. 2, 92.

y Flor. ibid ; Sueton. J. Cses. 76.

z Plut in CxB.



to keep up that prejudice ; but it was unpardonable
in so great a man as Ccesar to lay so much stress
on a title which, so far from being an honour to
him, seemed to be a diminution rather of that
superior dignity which he already enjoyed.

Among the other compliments that were paid to
him, there was a new fraternity of Luperci insti-
tuted to his honour, and called by his name, of
which Antony was the head. Young Quintus
Cicero was one of this society, with the consent of
his father, though to the dissatisfaction of his
uncle, who considered it not only as a low piece of
flattery, but an indecency, for a young man of
family, to be engaged in ceremonies so immodest,
of running naked and frantic about the streets*.
The festival was held about the middle of February ;
and Caesar, in his triumphal robe, seated himself
in the rostra, in a golden chair, to see the diversion
of the running, where, in the midst of their sport,
the consul Antony, at the head of his naked crew,
made him the offer of a regal diadem, and at-
tempted to put it upon his head ; at the sight
of which a general groan issued from the whole
forum, till, upon Caesar's slight refusal of it, the
people loudly testified their joy by a universal
shout. Antony, however, ordered it to be entered
in the public acts, that by the command of the
people he had offered the kingly name and power
to Caesar, and that Caesar would not accept it*".

While this affair of the kingly title amused and
alarmed the city, two of the tribunes, Marullus and
Caesetius, were particularly active in discouraging
■ every step and attempt towards it : they took off
the diadem which certain persons had privately
put upon Caesar's statue in the rostra, and com-
mitted those to prison who were suspected to have
done it, and publicly punished others for daring
to salute him in the streets by the name of king,
declaring that Caesar himself refused and abhorred
that title. This provoked Caesar beyond his usual
temper and command of himself, so that he accused
them to the senate, of a design to raise a sedition
against him, by persuading the city that he really
affected to be a king ; but when the assembly was
going to pass the severest sentence upon them, he
was content with deposing them from their magis-
tracy, and expelling them from the senate '^, which
convinced people still the more of his real fondness
for a name that he pretended to despise.

He had now prepared all things for his expedition
against the Parthians, had sent his legions before
him into Macedonia, settled the succession of all
the magistrates for two years to come*^, appointed
Dolabella to take his own place as consul of the
current year, named A. Hirtius and C. Pansa for

» Quintus pater quartum vel potius niillesimum nihil
sapit, qui Ijetetur Luperco filio et Static, ut cernat du-
plici dedecore cumulatam domum. — Ad Att. xii. 5.

b Sedcbat in rostris collega tuus, amictus toga purpurea,
in sella aurea, coronatus : adscendis, acccdis ad sellam —
diadema ostendis : gemitus toto forci — tu diadema impone-
bas cum plangore populi, ille cum plausu rejieiebat — at
enim adseribi jussit in fastis ad Lupercalia, C. Caesari,
dictatori perpetuo M. Antonium consulem populi jussu
regnum dctulisse, C^sarem uti noluisso. [Phil. ii. 34.]
Quod ab eo ita repulsum erat, ut non offensus vidcretur.
—Veil. Pat. ii. 56.

e Sueton. J. Ca;s. 79 ; Dio, p. 245 ; App. 1. ii. p. 49G ; Veil.
Pat. ii. 68.

<^ Etiamne consules et tribunes plebis in biennium, quos
ille voluit ?— Ad Att. xiv. &

consuls of the next, and D. Brutus and Cn. Plancus
for the following year : but before his departure he
resolved to have the regal title conferred upon him
by the senate, who were too sensible of his power,
and obsequious to bis will, to deny him anything ;
and to make it the more palatable at the same time
to the people, he caused a report to be indus-
triously propagated through the city, of ancient
prophecies found in the Sibylline books, that the
Parthians could not be conquered but by a king ;
on the strength of which Cotta, one of the guar-
dians of those books, was to move the senate at
their next meeting, to decree the title of king to
him"^. Cicero, speaking afterwards of this design,
says, "It was expected that some forged testi-
monies would be produced, to show that he whom
we had felt in reality to be a king, should be called
also by that name, if we would be safe ; but let us
make a bargain with the keepers of those oracles,
that they bring anything out of them rather than
a king, which neither the gods nor men will ever
endure again at Rome'."

One would naturally have expected, after all the
fatigues and dangers through which Caesar had
made his way to empire, that he would have chosen
to spend the remainder of a declining life in the
quiet enjoyment of all the honours and pleasures
which absolute power and a command of the woild
could bestow ; but in the midst of all this glory he
was a stranger still to ease : he saw the people
generally disaffected to him, and impatient under
his government ; and though amused awhile with
the splendour of his shows and triumphs, yet
regretting severely in cool blood the price that they
had paid for them ; the loss of their liberty, with the
lives of the best and noblest of their fellow-citizens.
This expedition, therefore, against the Parthians,
seems to have been a political pretext for remov-
ing himself from the murmurs of the city, and
leavii^ to his ministers the exercise of an invidious
power, and the task of taming the spirits of the
populace ; whilst he, by employing himself in
gathering fresh laurels in the East, and extending
the bounds and retrieving the honour of the
empire against its most dreaded enemy, might
gradually reconcile them to a reign that was gentle
and clement at home, successful and glorious

But his impatience to be a king defeated all his
projects, and accelerated his fate, and pushed on
the nobles, who had conspired against his life, to
the immediate execution of their plot, that they
might save themselves the shame of being forced
to concur in an act which they heartily detested s ;
and the two Brutuses in particular, the honour of
whose house was founded in the extirpation of
kingly government, could not but consider it as a
personal inf^imy, and a disgrace to their very
name, to suffer the restoration of it.

' Proximo autein S3natu, L. C'ottam quindecimvirum
sontentiam dicturum ; utquoniam libris fatal ibus contine-
retur, Parthos non nisi a rege posse vinci, Cassar rex
appellaretur. — Sueton. J. Cas. 79 ; Dio, p. 247.

' Quorum interpres nuper falsa qua^dam hominum fama
dicturus in senatu putabatur, eum, quem re vera regem
habebamus, appellandum quoquoesse regem, si galvi essa
vellemus — cum antistibus agamus, ut quidvis potius ex
illis libris, quam regem proferant, quem Romas posthac
nee dii nee homines esse patientiir. — Do Divin. ii. 54.

S Qua? causa conjuratis fuit maturandi destinata negofia.
no assentiri necesse esset— Suett J. Cass. 80 ; Dio, p. 247.



There were above sixty persons said to be en-
gaged in this consjiirucy '" ; the greatest part of
them of the senatorian rank ; but M. Brutus and
C. Cassius were the chief in credit and autliority ;
the first contrivers and movers of the whole design.

M. Junius Brutus was about one-and-forty years
old, of the most illustrious family of the repubhc,
deriving liis name and descent in a direct line froui
that first consul, L. Brutus, who expelled Tarquin,
and gave freedom to the Roman people'. Having
lost his father wlicn very young, he was trained
with great care by his uncle Cato, in all the studies
of ))olite letters, especially of I'loquence and j)hilo-
soj)hy ; and under the discijiline of such a tutor,
imbibed a warm love for liberty and virtue. He
liad excellent parts, and e((ual industry, and ac-
quired an early fame at the bar, where he pleaded
several causes of great importance, and was
esteemed the most eloquent and learned of all the
young nobles of his age. His manner of .speaking
was correct, elegant, judicious, yet wanting that
force and copiousness which is required in a con-
summate orator. But philosophy was his favourite
study, in which, though he professed himself of
the more moderate sect of the old Academy, yet
from a certain pride and gravity of temper, he
affected the severity of the Stoic, and to imitate
his uncle Cato, to which he was wholly unequal ;
for he was of a mild, merciful, and compassionate
disposition, averse to everything cruel, and was
often forced, by the tenderness of his nature, to
confute the rigour of his jirinciples. While his
mother lived in the greatest familiarity with Cfesar,
he was constantly attached to the opposite party,
and firm to the interests of liberty ; for the sake of
which he followed Pompey, whom he hated, and
acted on that side with a distinguished zeal. At
the battle of Pharsalia, Caesar gave particular
orders to find out and preserve Brutus, being
desirous to draw him from the pursuit of a cause
that was likely to prove fatal to him ; so that
when Cato, with the rest of the chiefs, went to
renew the war in Africa, he was mduced by Csesar's
generosity and his mother's prayers, to lay down

b Conspiratum est in eum a sexaginta amplius, C Cas-
sio, Marcoque et Decinio Bruto principibus conspirationis.
—Suet. ibid. 18.

> Some of the ancient writers call in question thisaccount
of Brutus's descent ; particularly Dionysius of Ilalicar-
nassus, the most judicious and critical of them, who
alleges several arguments against it, which seem to be very
plausible. Yet while Brutus lived, it was universally
allowed to him. Cicero mentions it in his public speeches,
and other writings, as a fact that nobody doubted, and
often speaks of the image of old Brutus, which Marcus,
kept in his house among those of his ancestors : and Atti-
cus, who was peculiarly curious in the antiquities of the
Roman families, drew up Brutus's genealogy or him ; and
deduced his succession from that old hero, in a direct line
through all the intermediate ages, from father to son. —
Com. Nep. vit. Att. 18 ; Tuso. Disp. iv. 1.

He was bom in the consulship of L. Cornelius Cinna III.
and On. Papirius Carbo, A.U. 668, which fully confutes the
vulgar story of his being commonly believed to be Cirsar's
son ; since he was but fifteen years younger than Caesar
himself: whose familiarity with his mother Servilia can-
not be supposed to have commenced till many years after
Brutus was bom, or not till Caesar had lost his first wife
Cornelia, whom he married when he was very young, and
always tenderly loved ; and whose funeral oration he made
when he was quaestor, and consequently thirty years old.
— Sueton. J. Cjes. i. 6. 50 ; it. Brut. p. 343. 447, et Corradi

his arms, and return to Italy. Csesar endeavoured
to oblige him by all the honours which his power
could bestow ; but the indignity of receiving'
from a master what he ought to have received
from a free people, shocked him mucli more than
any honours could oblige ; and the ruin in which
he saw his friends involved by Cwsar's usurped
dominion, gave him a disgust which no favours
could comj)ensate. He observed, therefore, a dis-
tance and reserve through Csesar's reign ; aspired
to no share of his confidence, or part iu his coun-
sels, and by the uncourtly vehemence with which
he defended the rights of King Deiotarus, con-
vinced Ctesar that he could never be obliged where
he did not find himself free. He cultivated all the
while the strictest friendship with Cicero, whose
principles he knew were utterly averse to the
nu^-isures of the times, and in whose free conversa-
tion he used to mingle his own complaints on the
unhappy state of the republic, and the wretched
hands into which it was fallen, till, animated by

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 65 of 230)