Copyright
W. Lucas (William Lucas) Collins.

Cicero online

. (page 1 of 24)
Online LibraryW. Lucas (William Lucas) CollinsCicero → online text (page 1 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


LIBRARY

( SAN u/GO




ANCIENT CLASSICS

FOR

ENGLISH READERS

EDITED BY THE

REV. W. LUCAS COLLINS, M.A.



CICERO

BY EEV. W. LUCAS COLLINS, M.A.

PLINY'S LETTERS

BY EEV. ALFRED CHURCH, M.A.

AND

REV. W. J. BRODRIBB, M.A.



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON



The subjects in this Series may be had separately, in cloth, price
2S. 6d. ; or two volumes bound in one, in leather back and' marbled
sides and edges, arranged as follows :



THE ILIAD AND
ODYSSEY.

HERODOTUS.
XENOPHON.

EURIPIDES.
ARISTOPHANES.

PLATO.
LUCIAN.

AESCHYLUS.
SOPHOCLES.



HESIOD AND THEOGNIS.
ANTHOLOGY.

VIRGIL.
HORACE.

JUVENAL.

PLAUTUS AND TERENCE.

CESAR.
TACITUS.

CICERO.
PLINY.



CICERO



BY THE



REV. /W. LUCAS COLLINS, M.A.

v. -"

AUTHOR OF
'KTONIANA,' 'THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS,' ETC.



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS

EDINBURGH AND LONDON
MDCCCLXXI



I HAVE to acknowledge my obligations to Mr Forsyth's
well-known ' Life of Cicero,' especially as a guide to
the biographical materials which abound in his Orations
and Letters. Mr Long's scholarly volumes have also
been found useful. For the translations, such as they
are, I am responsible. If I could have met with any
which seemed to me more satisfactory, I would gladly
have adopted them.

W. L. C.



CONTENTS.



PAGE

CHAP. I. BIOGRAPHICAL EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION, 1

ti II. n PUBLIC CAREER IMPEACH-
MENT OF VERRES, . . 13

n III. n THE CONSULSHIP AND CATI-
LINE, .... 30

n IV. ii EXILE AND RETURN, . . 51

n V. n CICERO AND &ESAR, . . 69

n VI. n CICERO AND ANTONY, . . 75

ii VII. CHARACTER AS POLITICIAN AND ORATOR, . 89

.. VIII. MINOR CHARACTERISTICS, .... 108

ii ix. CICERO'S CORRESPONDENCE, . . . .116

ii X. ESSAYS ON 'OLD AGE 1 AND 'FRIENDSHIP,' . 140

n xi. CICERO'S PHILOSOPHY 153

n xii. CICERO'S RELIGION, 187



CICERO.



CHAPTER I.

EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION.

"WHEN we speak, in the language of our title-page, of
the 'Ancient Classics,' we must remember that the
word 'ancient' is to be taken with a considerable
difference, in one sense. Ancient all the Greek and
Roman authors are, as dated comparatively with our
modern era. But as to the antique character of
their writings, there is often a difference which is
not merely one of date. The poetry of Homer and
Hesiod is ancient, as having been sung and written
when the society in which the authors lived, and to
which they addressed themselves, was in its compara-
tive infancy. The chronicles of Herodotus are ancient,
partly from their subject-matter and partly from their
primitive style. But in this sense there are ancient
authors belonging to every nation which has a litera-
ture of its own. Viewed in this light, the history
A. c. vol. ix. A



2 EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION.

of Thucydides, the letters and orations of Cicero, are not
ancient at all. Bede, and Chaucer, and Matthew of Paris,
and Froissart, are far more redolent of antiquity. The
several books which make up what we call the Bible are
all ancient, no doubt; but even between the Chronicles
of the Kings of Israel and the Epistles of St Paul there is
a far wider real interval than the mere lapse of centuries.

In one respect, the times of Cicero, in spite of their
complicated politics, should have more interest for a
modern reader than most of what is called Ancient
History. Forget the date but for a moment, and
there is scarcely anything ancient about them. The
scenes and actors are modern terribly modern; far
more so than the middle ages of Christendom. Be-
tween the times of our own Plantagenets and Georges,
for instance, there is a far wider gap, in all but years,
than between the consulships of Caesar and Napoleon.
The habits of life, the ways of thinking, the family
affections, the tastes of the Romans of Cicero's day,
were in many respects wonderfully like our own ; the
political jealousies and rivalries have repeated them-
selves again and again in the last two or three centuries
of Europe : their code of political honour and morality,
debased as it was, was not much lower than that which
was held by some great statesmen a generation or two
before us. Let us be thankful if the most frightful of
their vices were the exclusive shame of paganism.

It was in an old but humble country-house, near
the town of Arpinum, under the Volscian hills, that
Marcus Tullius Cicero was born, one hundred and six
years before the Christian era. The family was of an-



HIS FATHER AND GRANDFATHER. 3

cient 'equestrian'* dignity, but as none of its members
had hitherto borne any office of state, it did not rank
as ' noble.' His grandfather and his father had borne
the same three names the last an inheritance from
some forgotten ancestor, who had either been success-
ful in the cultivation of vetches (deer), or, as less com-
plimentary traditions said, had a wart of that shape
upon his nose. The grandfather was still living when
the little Cicero was born ; a stout old conservative,
who had successfully resisted the attempt to introduce
vote by ballot into his native town, and hated the
Greeks (who were just then coming into fashion) as
heartily as his English representative, fifty years ago,
might have hated a Frenchman. " The more Greek a
man knew," he protested, " the greater rascal he turned
out." The father was a man of quiet habits, taking
no part even in local politics, given to books, and to
the enlargement and improvement of the old family
house, which, up to his time, seems not to have been
more than a modest grange. The situation (on a small
island formed by the little river Fibrenust) was beau-
tiful and romantic ; and the love for it, which grew up
with the young Cicero as a child, he never lost in the

* The Equites were originally those who served in the
Roman cavalry ; but latterly all citizens came to be reckoned
in the class who had a certain property qualification, and who
could prove free descent up to their grandfather.

f Now known as II Frame della Posta. Fragments of
Cicero's villa are thought to have been discovered built into
the walls of the deserted convent of San Dominico. The ruin
known as ' Cicero's Tower ' has probably no connection with
him.



4 EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION.

busy days of his manhood. It was in his eyes, he
said, what Ithaca was to Ulysses,

" A rough, wild nurse-land, but whose crops are men."

There was an aptness in the quotation ; for at Arpinum,
a few years before, was born that Caius Marius, seven
times consul of Rome, who had at least the virtue of
manhood in him, if he had few besides.

But the quiet country gentleman was ambitious for
his son. Cicero's father, like Horace's, determined to
give him the best education in his power; and of
course the best education was to be found in Rome,
and the best teachers there were Greeks. So to Rome
young Marcus was taken in due time, with his younger
brother Quintus. They lodged with their uncle-in-
law, Aculeo, a lawyer of some distinction, who had a
house in rather a fashionable quarter of the city, and
moved in good society ; and the two boys attended the
Greek lectures with their town cousins. Greek was as
necessary a part of a Roman gentleman's education in
those days as Latin and French are with us now ; like
Latin, it was the key to literature (for the Romans
had as yet, it must be remembered, nothing worth
calling literature of their own); and, like French, it
was the language of refinement and the play of polished
society. Let us hope that by this time the good old
grandfather was gathered peacefully into his urn ; it
might have broken his heart to have seen how enthusias-
tically his grandson Marcus threw himself into this new-
fangled study; and one of those letters of his riper
years, stuffed full of Greek terms and phrases even to



TRAINING FOR THE BAR. 5

affectation, would have drawn anything but blessings
from the old gentleman if he had lived to hear them
read.

Young Cicero went through the regular curriculum
grammar, rhetoric, and the Greek poets and his-
torians. Like many other youthful geniuses, he wrote
a good deal of poetry of his own, which his friends, as
was natural, thought very highly of at the time, and
of which he himself retained the same good opinion
to the end of his life, as would have "been natural to
few men except Cicero. But his more important
studies began after he had assumed the ' white gown '
which marked the emergence of the young Roman
from boyhood into more responsible life at sixteen
years of age. He then entered on a special education for
the bar. It could scarcely be called a profession, for
an advocate's practice at Eome was gratuitous ; but it
was the best training for public life ; it was the ready
means, to an able and eloquent man, of gaining that
popular influence which would secure his election in
due course to the great magistracies which formed the
successive steps to political power. The mode of
studying law at Eome bore a very considerable resem-
blance to the preparation for the English bar. Our
modern law-student purchases his admission to the
chambers of some special pleader or conveyancer,
where he is supposed to learn his future business by
copying precedents and answering cases, and he also
attends the public lectures at the Inns of Court. So
at Rome the young aspirant was to be found (but
at a much earlier hour than would suit the Temple or



6 EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION.

Lincoln's Inn) in the open hall of some great jurist's
house, listening to his opinions given to the throng of
clients who crowded there every morning ; while his
more zealous pupils would accompany him in his stroll
in the Forum, and attend his pleadings in the courts
or his speeches on the Eostra, either taking down upon
their tablets, or storing in their memories, his dicta
upon legal questions.* In such wise Cicero became the
pupil of Mucius Scayvola, whose house was called " the
oracle of Eome " scarcely ever leaving his side, as he
himself expresses it ; and after that great lawyer's
death, attaching himself in much the same way to a
younger cousin of the same name and scarcely less
reputation. Besides this, to arm himself at all points
for his proposed career, he read logic with Diodotus the
Stoic, studied the action of ^Esop and Eoscius then
the stars of the Eoman stage declaimed aloud like
Demosthenes in private, made copious notes, practised
translation in order to form a written style, and read
hard day and night. He trained severely as an intel-
lectual athlete; and if none of his contemporaries
attained such splendid success, perhaps none worked so
hard for it. He made use, too, of certain special advan-
tages which were open to him little appreciated, or
at least seldom acknowledged, by the men of his day
the society and conversation of elegant and accom-
plished women. In Scsevola's domestic circle, where
the mother, the daughters, and the grand -daughters

* These dicta, or 'opinions,' of the great jurists, acquired a
sort of legal validity in the Eoman law-courts, like 'cases'
with us.



CAMPAIGN UNDER POMPEY. 7

successively seem to have been such charming talkers
that language found new graces from their lips, the
young advocate learnt some of his not least valuable
lessons. " It makes no little difference," said he in
his riper years, " what style of expression one becomes
familiar with in the associations of daily life." It was
another point of resemblance between the age of Cicero
and the times in which we live the influence of the
" queens of society," whether for good or evil.

But no man could be completely educated for a
public career at Home until he had been a soldier. By
what must seem to us a mistake in the Eepublican
system a mistake which we have seen made more
than once in the late American war high political
offices were necessarily combined with military com-
mand. The highest minister of state, consul or praetor,
however hopelessly civilian in tastes and antecedents^
might be sent to conduct a campaign in Italy or
abroad at a few hours' notice. If a man was a heaven-
born general, all went well ; if not, he had usually a
chance of learning in the school of defeat. It was
desirable, at all events, that he should have seen what
war was in his youth. Young Cicero served his first
campaign, at the age of eighteen, under the father of
a man whom he was to know only too well in after
life Pompey the Great and in the division of the
army which was commanded by Sylla as lieutenant-
general He bore arms only for a year or two, and
probably saw no very arduous service, or we should
certainly have heard of it from himself ; and he never
was in camp again until he took the chief command,



8 EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION.

thirty-seven years afterwards, as pro-consul in Cilicia.
He \vas at Rome, leading a quiet student-life happily
for himself, too young to be forced or tempted into an
active part during the bloody feuds between Sylla
and the younger Marius.

He seems to have made his first appearance as an
advocate when he was about twenty-five, in some suit
of which we know nothing. Two years afterwards he
undertook his first defence of a prisoner on a capital
charge, and secured by his eloquence the acquittal of
Sextus Roscius on an accusation of having murdered
his father. The charge appears to have been a mere
conspiracy, wholly unsupported by evidence ; but the
accuser was a favourite with Sylla, whose power was
all but absolute; and the innocence of the accused
was a very insufficient protection before a Roman jury
of those days. What kind of considerations, besides
the merits of the case and the rhetoric of counsel, did
usually sway these tribunals, we shall see hereafter.
In consequence of this decided success, briefs came in
upon the young pleader almost too quickly. Like
many other successful orators, he had to combat some
natural deficiencies ; he had inherited from his father
a somewhat delicate constitution ; his lungs were not
powerful, and his voice required careful management ;
and the loud declamation and vehement action which
he had adopted from his models and which were
necessary conditions of success in the large arena in
which a Roman advocate had to plead he found very
hard work. He left Rome for a while, and retired for
rest and change to Athens.



STUDIES AT ATHENS. 9

The six months which he spent there, though busy
and studious, must have been very pleasant ones. To
one like Cicero, Athens was at once classic and holy
ground. It combined all those associations and attrac-
tions which we might now expect to find in a visit to
the capitals of Greece and of Italy, and a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem. Poetry, rhetoric, philosophy, religion all,
to his eyes, had their cradle there. It was the home
of all that was literature to him ; and there, too, were
the great Eleusinian mysteries which are mysteries
still, but which contained under their veil whatever faith
in the Invisible and Eternal rested in the mind of an
enlightened pagan. There can be little doubt but
that Cicero took this opportunity of initiation. His
brother Quintus and one of his cousins were with him
at Athens ; and in that city he also renewed his
acquaintance with an old schoolfellow, Titus Pompon-
ius, who lived so long in the city, and became so
thoroughly Athenian in his tastes and habits, that he
is better known to us, as he was to his contemporaries,
by the surname of Atticus, which was given him half
in jest, than by his more sonorous Eoman name. It
is to the accidental circumstance of Atticus remaining
so long a voluntary exile from Eome, and to the cor-
respondence which was maintained between the two
friends, with occasional intervals, for something like
four-and-twenty years, that we are indebted for a more
thorough insight into the character of Cicero than we
have as to any other of the great minds of antiquity ;
nearly four hundred of his letters to Atticus, written
in all the familiar confidence of private friendship by



10 EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION.

a man by no means reticent as to his personal feel-
ings, having been preserved to us. Atticus's replies are
lost ; it is said that he was prudent enough, after his
friend's unhappy death, to reclaim and destroy them.
They would perhaps have told us, in his case, not very
much that we care to know beyond what we know
already. Eich, luxurious, with elegant tastes and easy
morality a true Epicurean, as he boasted himself to
be Atticus had nevertheless a kind heart and an
open hand. He has generally been called selfish,
somewhat unfairly ; at least his selfishness never took
the form of indifference or unkindness to others. In
one sense he was a truer philosopher than Cicero : for
he seems to have acted through life on that maxim of
Socrates which his friend professed to approve, but
certainly never followed, that " a wise man kept out
of public business." His vocation was certainly not
patriotism ; but the worldly wisdom which kept well
with men of all political colours, and eschewed the
wretched intrigues and bloody feuds of Rome, stands
out in no unfavourable contrast with the conduct of
many of her soi-disant patriots. If he declined to
take a side himself, men of all parties resorted to him
in their adversity ; and the man who befriended the
younger Marius in his exile, protected the widow of
Antony, gave shelter on his estates to the victims of
the triumvirate's proscription, and was always ready to
offer his friend Cicero both his house and his purse
whenever the political horizon clouded round him,
this man was surely as good a citizen as the noisiest
clamourer for "liberty" in the Forum, or the readiest



TERENTIA. 11

hand with the dagger. He kept his life and his pro-
perty safe through all those years of peril and proscrip-
tion, with less sacrifice of principle than many who
had made louder professions, and died by a singular
act of voluntary starvation, to make short work with an
incurable disease at a ripe old age ; a godless Epicur-
ean, no doubt, but not the worst of them.

We must return to Cicero, and deal somewhat briefly
with the next few years of his life. He extended his
foreign tour for two years, visiting the chief cities of
Asia Minor, remaining for a short time at Rhodes to
take lessons once more from his old tutor Molo the
rhetorician, and everywhere availing himself of the
lectures of the most renowned Greek professors, to
correct and improve his own style of composition and
delivery. Soon after his return to Eome, he married.
Of the character of his wife Terentia very different
views have been taken. She appears to have written
to him very kindly during his long forced absences.
Her letters have not reached us ; but in all her hus-
band's replies she is mentioned in terms of apparently
the most sincere affection. He calls her repeatedly his
" darling" " the delight of his eyes" " the best of
mothers ;" yet he procured a divorce from her, for no
distinctly assigned reason, after a married life of thirty
years, during which we find no trace of any serious
domestic unhappiness. The imputations on her honour
made by Plutarch, and repeated by others, seem
utterly without foundation; and Cicero's own share
in the transaction is not improved by the fact of his
taking another wife as soon as possible a ward of his



12 EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION.

own, an almost girl, with whom he did not live a year
before a second divorce released him. Terentia is said
also to have had an imperious temper ; but the only
ground for this assertion seems to have been that she
quarrelled occasionally with her sister-in-law Pom-
ponia, sister of Atticus and wife of Quintus Cicero;
and since Pomponia, by her own brother's account,
showed her temper very disagreeably to her hus-
band, the feud between the ladies was more likely to
have been her fault than Terentia's. But the very
low notion of the marriage relations entertained by
both the later Greeks and Romans helps to throw some
light upon a proceeding which would otherwise seem
very mysterious. Terentia, as is pretty plain from the
hints in her husband's letters, was not a good manager
in money matters ; there is room for suspicion that
she was not even an honest one in his absence, and
was "making a purse" for herself: she had thus failed
in one of the only two qualifications which, according
to Demosthenes an authority who ranked very high
in Cicero's eyes were essential in a wife, to be " a
faithful house-guardian" and " a fruitful mother." She
did not die of a broken heart ; she lived to be 104,
and, according to Dio Cassius, to have three more
husbands. Divorces were easy enough at Eome, and
had the lady been a rich widow, there might be
nothing so improbable in this latter part of the story,
though she was fifty years old at the date of this first
divorce.*

* Cato, who is the favourite impersonation of all the moral
virtues of his age, divorced his wife to oblige a friend !



CHAPTEK II.

PUBLIC CAREER. IMPEACHMENT OF VERRES.

INCREASING reputation as a brilliant and successful
pleader, and the social influence which this brought
with it, secured the rapid succession of Cicero to the
highest public offices. Soon after his marriage he was
elected Quaestor the first step on the official ladder
which, as he already possessed the necessary property
qualification, gave him a seat in the Senate for life.
The .^dileship and Prstorship followed subsequently,
each as early, in point of age, as it could legally be
held.* His practice as an advocate suffered no interrup-

* The Qu<%stors (of whom there were at this time twenty)
acted under the Senate as State treasurers. The Consul or other
officer who commanded in chief during a campaign would be
accompanied by one of them as paymaster-general.

The jEdiles, who were four in number, had the care of all
public buildings, markets, roads, and the State property gene-
rally. They had also the superintendence of the national festi-
vals and public games.

The duties of the Praetors, of whom there were eight, were prin-
cipally judicial. The two seniors, called the ' City ' and
' Foreign ' respectively, corresponded roughly to our Home and
Foreign Secretaries. These were all gradual steps to the office of
Consul.



H PUBLIC CAREER.

tion, except that his Quaestorship involved his spending
a year in Sicily. The Prsetor who was appointed to
the government of that province* had under him two
quaestors, who were a kind of comptrollers of the
exchequer; and Cicero was appointed to the western
district, having his headquarters at Lilybaeum. In
the administration of his office there he showed himself
a thorough man of business. There was a dearth of
corn at Rome that year, and Sicily was the great
granary of the empire. The energetic measures which
the new Quaestor took fully met the emergency. He
was liberal to the tenants of the State, courteous and
accessible to all, upright in his administration, and,
above all, he kept his hands clean from bribes and
peculation. The provincials were as much astonished
as delighted : for Rome was not in the habit of send-
ing them such officers. They invented honours for him
such as had never been bestowed on any minister before.

* The provinces of Rome, in their relation to the mother-state
of Italy, may be best compared with our own government of
India, or such of our crown colonies as have no representative
assembly. They had each their governor or lieutenant-governor,
who must have been an ex-minister of Rome : a man who had
been Consul went out with the rank of "pro-consul," one
who had been Prsetor with the rank of "pro-praetor." These
held office for one or two years, and had the power of life
and death within their respective jurisdictions. They had
under them one or more officers who bore the title of Quaestor,
who collected the taxes and had the general management of
the revenues of the province. The provinces at this time were
Sicily, Sardinia with Corsica, Spain and Gaul (each in two divi-
sions) ; Greece, divided into Macedonia and Achaia (the Morea) ;
Asia, Syria, Cilicia, Bithynia, Cyprus, and Africa in four divi-
sions. Others were added afterwards, under the Empire.



QU^ESTORSHIP IN SICILY. 15

No wonder the young official's head (he was not much
over thirty) was somewhat turned. " I thought," he
said, in one of his speeches afterwards introducing
with a quiet humour, and with all a practised orator's
skill, one of those personal anecdotes which relieve a
long speech " I thought in my heart, at the time,
that the people at Eome must be talking of nothing



Online LibraryW. Lucas (William Lucas) CollinsCicero → online text (page 1 of 24)