Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C.-43 B.C.)
Study Notes prepared for the AmblesideOnline Curriculum by Anne White, 2018 using Thomas North's text. If you wish to use this Study Guide as a teacher's edition, text-only version of this Life (without the Study Guide) is also available to print for your student. Read Intro to these study guides here.
Cicero was a philosopher, historian, politician, and orator, who lived a long life (though not so long as he could have) during the periods of Sulla and Julius Caesar. He had an enormous impact on language, writing, and philosophy, not only in his own world, but on Western civilization for centuries to come. When the Latin language didn't contain the words he needed, he created them. His prose style was admired above that of all other writers; and no-one (until this past century) was considered well-educated who had not studied Cicero's speeches and histories.
Cicero's Name (and Pronunciation)
How do you pronounce Cicero? In Latin, using classical pronunciation, it would be Ki-ke-ro. In English, it's acceptable to use soft C's: Si-se-ro. Cicero is sometimes referred to in English as "Tully," because of his second name, "Tullius."
In this lesson we are introduced to Cicero, who hoped "to make the name of the Ciceros noble and famous," and who signed his name with the symbol of a chickpea.
fuller's shop: fulling is part of the processing of cloth
surname: a cognomen, or personal nickname.; though in some cases (as with Cicero) it might be passed on through the family
rich pease: A cicer is a chickpea, a garbanzo bean. According to Plutarch, an ancestor of Cicero had a chickpea-shaped wart on his nose. Another theory is that he might have grown chickpeas.
treasurer: the Roman position of quaestor
apter: more inclined, better at
extant at this day: still existing in Plutarch's time
to a monarchy: Cicero saw that things were tending in that direction, not that Rome had actually declared itself to be a monarchy.
Sulla had gotten the upper hand: in 82-81 B.C., Sulla was made dictator in Rome
at some stay: in some degree of peace and stability
drachmas, talents: units of money
wanting the Latin tongue: not speaking Latin
the Scauri, or Catuli: famous Roman families
Mutius Scaevola: Dryden translates this "the Mucii," meaning more than one person in the Mutius/Mucius family
Sulla: Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (c. 138 B.C.-78 B.C.), a powerful Roman general and politician
Carneades: a philosopher who taught that all knowledge is impossible, except for the knowledge that all other knowledge is impossible.
78 B.C.: the death of Sulla
Lesson One Reading
As touching Cicero's mother, whose name was Helvia, it is reported she was a gentlewoman born, and lived always very honestly: but for his father, the reports of him are divers and infinite. For some say that he was born and brought up in a fuller's shop: others report that he came of Tullius Actius, who while he lived was honoured among the Volsces as king, and made very sharp and cruel wars with the Romans. But surely it seems to me, that the first of that name called Cicero, was some famous man, and that for his sake his offspring continued still that surname, and were glad to keep it, though many men scorned it, because Cicer in English signifieth a rich pease. That Cicero had a thing upon the tip of his nose, as it had been a little wart, much like to a rich pease, whereupon they surnamed him Cicero. But this Cicero, whose life we write of now, nobly answered certain of his friends on a time giving him counsel to change his name, when he first made suit for office, and began to practise in matters of state: that he would endeavour himself to make the name of the Ciceros more noble and famous than the Scauri, or Catuli. After that, Cicero being made treasurer in Sicily, he gave an offering of certain silver plate unto the gods, and at large engraved on it his two first names, Marcus Tullius: and in place of his third name, he pleasantly commanded the workman to cut out the form and fashion of a rich pease. Thus much they write of his name.
Now for his birth, it was said that his mother was brought abed of him without any pain, the third day of January: on which day the magistrates and governors of Rome do use, at this present, yearly to make solemn prayers and sacrifices unto the gods, for the health and prosperity of the Emperor. Further, it is reported, that there appeared an image to his nurse, that did prognosticate unto her [that the child] in time to come should do great good unto all the Romans. Now though such things may seem but dreams and fables unto many, yet Cicero himself shortly after proved this prophecy true: because that when he came of age to learn, he grew so [distinguished], and won such fame among the boys, for his excellent wit and quick capacity. For thereupon came the other boys' fathers themselves to the school to see his face, and to be eyewitnesses of the report that went of him, of his sharp and quick wit to learn. But others of the rude and baser sort of men were offended with their sons, because to honour Cicero, they did always put him in the midst between them, as they went in the streets. Cicero indeed had such a natural wit and understanding, as Plato thought meet for learning, and apt for the study of philosophy. For he gave himself to all kind[s] of knowledge, and there was no art, nor any of the liberal sciences, that he disdained: notwithstanding in his first young years he was apter, and better disposed to the study of poetry, than any other. There is a pretty poem of his in verses of eight staves, called Pontius Glaucus, extant at this day, the which he made when he was but a boy. After that, being given more earnestly unto this study, he was not only thought the best orator, but the best poet also of all the Romans in his time: and yet doth the excellency of his eloquence, and commendation of his tongue continue, even to this day, notwithstanding the great alteration and change of the Latin tongue. But his poetry hath lost the name and estimation of it, because there were many after him that became far more excellent therein than he.
After he had left his childish studies, he became then Philo's scholar, the Academic philosopher, the only scholar of all Clitomachus' scholars whom the Romans esteemed so much for his eloquence, and loved more for his gentle behaviour and conversation. He [Cicero] gave himself also to be a follower of Mutius Scaevola, who at that time was a great man in Rome, and prince of the Senate, and who did also instruct Cicero in the laws of Rome. He did also follow Sulla for a time, in the wars of the Marsians. But when he saw that the commonwealth of Rome fell to civil wars, and from civil wars to a monarchy: then he returned again to his book and contemplative life, and frequented the learned men of Greece, and always studied with them, until Sulla had gotten the upper hand, and that he saw all the commonwealth again at some stay.
[The background to a court case]
About that time, Sulla causing the goods of one that was said to be slain, to be sold by the crier: ([the deceased person] being one of the outlaws and proscripts, to wit, banished by bills set up on posts); Chrysogonus, one of Sulla's freed bondmen, and in great favour with his master, bought them for the sum of two thousand drachmas. Therewithal the son and heir of the dead person, called Roscius, being marvellously offended, he shewed that it was too shameful an abuse: for his father's goods amounted to the sum of two hundred and fifty talents. Sulla finding himself thus openly touched with public fraud and deceit, for the only gratifying of his man: he procured Chrysogonus to accuse him [Roscius], that he had killed his own father. Never an orator durst speak in Roscius' behalf to defend his cause, but [shrunk in fear], fearing Sulla's cruelty and severity.
[How Cicero got involved]
Wherefore poor Roscius, the young man, seeing every man forsake him, had no other refuge but to go to Cicero, whom his friends did counsel and persuade boldly to take upon him the defence of Roscius' cause: for he should never have a happier occasion, nor so noble a beginning to bring himself into estimation, as this. Thereupon Cicero determined to take his cause in hand, and did handle it so well, that he obtained the thing he sued for: whereby he won him great fame and credit.
But yet being afraid of Sulla's displeasure, he absented himself from Rome, and went into Greece, giving it out that his travel was for a disease he had upon him. Indeed Cicero was dog lean, a little eater, and would also eat late, because of the great weakness of his stomach: but yet he had a good loud voice, though it was somewhat harsh, and lacked grace and comeliness. Furthermore he was so earnest and vehement in his oration that he mounted still with his voice into the highest tunes: insomuch that men were afraid it would one day put him in hazard of his life.
When he came to Athens, he went to hear Antiochus of the city of Ascalon, and fell in great liking with his sweet tongue, and excellent grace, though otherwise he misliked his new opinions in philosophy. For Antiochus had then forsaken the opinions of the New Academic philosophers and the sect of Carneades: being moved thereunto, either through the manifest proof of things, or by his certain judgement, or (as some say) for that of an ambition or dissension against the scholars and followers of Clitomachus and Philo, he had reproved the resolutions of the Academics, which he had of long time defended, only to lean for the most part to the Stoics' opinions. Howebeit Cicero had most affection unto the Academics, and did study that sect more than all the rest, of purpose, that if he saw he were forbidden to practise in the commonwealth at Rome, he would then go to Athens (leaving all pleas and orators in the commonwealth) to bestow the rest of his time quietly in the study of philosophy.
At length, when he heard news of Sulla's death, and saw that his body was grown to good state and health by exercise, and that his voice became daily more and more to fill mens' ears with a sweet and pleasant sound, and yet was loud enough for the constitution of his body: receiving letters daily from his friends at Rome, that prayed him to return home, and moreover, Antiochus [him]self also earnestly persuading him to practise in the commonwealth: he began again to fall to the study of rhetoric, and to frame himself to be eloquent, being a necessary thing for an orator, and did continually exercise himself in making orations upon any speech or proposition, and so frequented the chief orators and masters of eloquence that were at that time.
To this end therefore he went into Asia unto Rhodes, and amongst the orators of Asia, he frequented Xenocles of Adramyttium, and Dionysius of Magnesia, and studied also with Menippus of Caria: at Rhodes he heard Apollonius [the son of] Molon, and the philosopher Posidonius. And it is reported also, that Apollonius wanting the Latin tongue, he did pray Cicero to declaim in Greek. Cicero was very well contented with it, thinking that thereby his faults should be the better corrected. When he had ended his declamation, all those that were present were amazed to hear him, and every man praised him one after another.
Howbeit Apollonius, all the while Cicero spake, did never shew any glad countenance: and when he had ended, he stayed a great while and said never a word. Cicero misliking withal, Apollonius at length said unto him: "As for me, Cicero, I do not only praise thee, but more than that, I wonder at thee: and yet I am sorry for poor Greece, to see that learning and eloquence (which were the two only gifts and honour left us) are by thee obtained with us, and carried unto the Romans."
Narration and Discussion
Describe the early life of Cicero. What were the biggest influences on his character?
What was Cicero's particular reason for studying Greek philosophy?
When Cicero returned to Rome, he quickly became someone to watch, as he began to move up in the government ranks. He was elected to the office of quaestor, and then became aedile; and he had "many men daily at his gate every morning." Even Pompey the Great came to ask his advice.
the nun Pythias: the Pythian priestess at Delphi. Dryden translates this "the Pythoness."
base mechanical people: Dryden, "low and ignorant people"
to practise, to plead: go into public life, plead matters in the courts
fell to his lot: as quaestor, he was also expected to assist the governor of a province outside of Rome, in this case Sicily
praetor: an official who acted as governor of a province and as a judge
should be slothful, and careless: these are "ill things," what a public leader shouldn't be
lewd parts: evil practices
he should not have daylight: he would not have time before the court closed (and it was the last possible day)
aedile: the Roman official who oversaw public works
curious, and careful of his person: Dryden, "nice [picky] and delicate"
Marcus Licinius Crassus, called Crassus: a Roman general and politician (115 B.C.-53 B.C.), one of the First Triumvirate with Caesar and Pompey; he was also known for his wealth
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, called Pompey: a military and political leader who gained fame during Sulla's Second Civil War.
75 B.C.: Cicero became quaestor
69 B.C.: Cicero became aedile
Lesson Two Reading
Now Cicero being very well disposed, to go with good hope to practise at Rome, he was a little discouraged by an oracle that was told him. For, [consulting the god of Delphi] how he might do to win fame and estimation: the nun Pythias answered him he should obtain it, [if] in his doings he would rather follow the disposition of his own nature, than the opinion of the common people.
Wherefore when he came to Rome, at the first he proceeded very warily, and discreetly, and did unwillingly seek for any office, and when he did, he was not greatly esteemed: for they commonly called him "The Grecian" and "Scholar," which are two words which the artificers (and such base mechanical people at Rome) have ever ready at their tongue's end. Now he being by nature ambitious of honour, and pricked forward also by the persuasion of his father and friends: in the end he began to plead, and there obtained not the chiefest place by little and little, but so soon as he fell to practise, he was immediately esteemed above all the other orators and pleaders in his time, and did excel them all. Yet it is reported notwithstanding, that for his gesture and pronunciation, having the selfsame defects of nature at the beginning, which Demosthenes had: to reform them, he carefully studied to counterfeit Roscius, an excellent comedian, and Aesop also, a player of tragedies. Of this Aesop men write, that he playing one day Atrius' part upon a stage (who determined with himself how he might be revenged of his brother Thyestes), a servant by chance having occasion to run suddenly by him, he forgetting himself, striving to shew the vehement passion and fury of this king, gave him such a blow on his head with the scepter in his hand, that he slew him dead in the place. Even so, Cicero's words were of so great force to persuade, by means of his grace and pronunciation. For he, mocking the orators that thrust out their heads, and cried in their orations, was wont to say that they were like to lame men [who get on horseback because they cannot walk]. "Even so," (said he), "they cry out, because they cannot speak." Truly pleasant taunts do grace an orator, and sheweth a fine wit: but yet Cicero used them so commonly, that they were offensive unto many, and brought him to be counted a malicious scoffer and spiteful man.
He was chosen treasurer when there was great scarcity of corn at Rome: and the province of Sicily fell to his lot. At his first coming thither, the Sicilians misliked him very much, because he compelled them to send corn unto Rome: but after they had found his diligence, justice, and lenity, they honoured him above any governor that ever was sent from Rome. [It happened, also, that some young Romans of good and noble families, charged with neglect of discipline and misconduct in military service, were brought before the praetor in Sicily. Cicero undertook their defence, which he conducted admirably, and got them acquitted.]
Thereupon, thinking well of himself, when his time expired, he went to Rome, and by the way there happened a pretty feast unto him. As he passed through the country of Campania (otherwise called the land of labour) he met by chance with one of the chiefest Romans of all his friends. So falling in talk with him, he asked him what they said of him at Rome, and what they thought of his doings: imagining that all Rome had been full of the glory of his name and deeds. His friend asked him again: "And where hast thou been, Cicero, all this while, that we have not seen thee at Rome?" This killed his heart straight, when he saw that the report of his name and doings, entering into the city of Rome as into an infinite sea, was so suddenly vanquished away again, without any other fame or speech. But after that, when he looked into himself, and saw that in reason he took an infinite labour in hand to attain to glory, wherein he saw no certain end whereby to attain unto it: it cut off a great part of the ambition he had in his head. And yet the great pleasure he took to hear his own praise, and [continued to the very last to be passionately fond of glory]: those two things continued with him even to his dying day, and did eftsoons make him swerve from justice.
[On beginning to apply himself more resolutely to public business], he thought it an ill thing that artificers and craftsmen should have many sorts of instruments and tools without life, to know the names of every one of them, the places where they should take them, and the use whereto they should employ them: and [yet] that a man of knowledge and quality (who doth all things with the help and service of men) should be slothful, and careless, to learn to know the names of his citizens. Therefore he gave himself to know, not only mens' names of quality, but the streets also they dwelt in, what part of the city soever it was: their goodly houses in the country, the friends they made [use] of, and the neighbours whom they companied with. So that when he went abroad into Italy, wheresoever he became, Cicero could shew and name his friends' houses.
He was not very rich, and yet he had enough to serve his turn: the which made men muse the more at him, and they loved him the better, because he took no fee nor gift for his pleading, what cause soever he had in hand, [and more especially that he did not do so when he undertook the prosecution of Verres]. This Verres had been praetor of Sicily, and had committed many lewd parts there, for the which the Sicilians did accuse him. Cicero taking upon him to defend their cause, made Verres to be condemned, [not by speaking, but in a manner by holding his tongue]. The praetors being his judges, and favouring Verres, had made so many adjournments and delays, that they had driven it off to the last day of hearing. Cicero perceiving then he should not have daylight to speak all that he had to say against him, and that thereby nothing should be done and judged: he rose up, and said [there was no need of speeches; and after producing and examining witnesses, he required the judges to proceed to sentence.]
[omission of further details]
In the end Verres being condemned, and a fine set on his head to the value of [only] seventy-five myriads, Cicero notwithstanding was suspected to be bribed with money for agreeing to cast him in so small a sum. But yet when he came to be aedile, the Sicilians to shew themselves thankful to him, both brought and sent him many presents out of Sicily. Of all that he took nothing to his own use, but only bestowed their liberality in bringing down the prices of victuals at Rome.
He had a goodly house within the confines of the city of Arpos, a farm also by Naples, and another about the city of Pompeii: but all these were no great things. Afterwards also he had the jointure of his wife Terentia, which amounted to the sum of twelve myriads, and besides all this, there came to him by inheritance, eleven myriads of their denarii. Thereupon he lived very honestly and soberly, without excess, with his familiar friends that loved him, both Grecians and Romans, and would never go to supper till after sunset, not so much for any great business he had, as for the weakness of his stomach. But otherwise he was very curious, and careful of his person, and would be rubbed and anointed, and he would use also to walk a certain number of turns by proportion: and so exercising his body in that sort, he was never sick, and besides was always very strong and lusty of body, able to abide great pains and sorrows which he fell into afterwards.
He gave his father's great chief mansion house to his brother, and went to dwell himself in the Mount Palatine: because such as came to wait upon him to do him honour, should not take the pains to go so far to see him. For, he had as many men daily at his gate every morning, as either Crassus had for his wealth, or Pompey for his estimation among the soldiers, both of them being at that time the chiefest men of Rome. Yea furthermore, Pompey [him]self came unto Cicero, because his orations stood him to great purpose, for the increase of his honour and authority.
Narration and Discussion
How did Cicero work to improve his speaking ability? How did he take things a bit too far?
Discuss this sentence: "And yet the great pleasure he took to hear his own praise, and [continued to the very last to be passionately fond of glory]: those two things continued with him even to his dying day, and did eftsoons make him swerve from justice."
For older students or those wishing to go deeper: "Even so," (said he), "they cry out, because they cannot speak." What did Cicero mean? Why is it sometimes more difficult to speak or write simply?
"At that time many men practised to subvert the government, not for the benefit of the commonwealth, but to serve their own covetous minds."
The next four lessons deal with the Second Catiline (or Catilinarian) Conspiracy, an uprising that took place in 63 B.C. This was a time of economic hardship for both city dwellers and rural people. One of the problems was that public land that could have been used for family farms was being bought up by commercial growers. Many of the rich were in debt because of lavish personal spending and gambling. Also on the list of unhappy Romans were veteran soldiers who had fought under Sulla. Most of the current army was out of the country with Pompey, which made a potential rebellion more feasible; but in this lesson, we hear only rumblings of trouble.
praetor's office: the office of a judge
and never rose after: it is implied that he committed suicide
peculation: embezzling money
he made a notable oration: This was a tricky situation, because Cicero was trying to please several different groups of people at once; but he did defend Manilius, and kept his favour with the Roman people.
consul: a high Roman office, comparable to co-president
further his suit: support his cause
to provide him of a strong bulwark . . .: to put himself in a strong position to carry out his plans
knight's son: one of the equestrian class, ranking below the patricians
deposed from their dignities . . .: stripped of their positions
a commission of ten persons, the Decemviri: a proposed committee of ten rulers who would be given unusual powers
Licinius Macer: a former tribune and praetor
Manilius: Gaius Manilius, a tribune
Lucius Catiline: North spells his name Catilin, but the usual spelling now is Catiline.
Gaius Antonius or Antonius: Gaius Antonius Hybrida, co-consul with Cicero in 63 B.C.
66 B.C.: Cicero became praetor; the events with Licinius Macer
64 B.C.: Catiline ran for the office of consul (for 63 B.C.), but Cicero was elected instead
Lesson Three Reading
[Numerous distinguished competitors stood with him for the praetor's office]; yet was he first chosen afore them all: and he did so honestly behave himself in that office, that they did not so much as once suspect him of bribery or extortion. And for proof hereof, it is reported, that Licinius Macer (a man that of himself was of great power, and yet favoured and supported besides by Crassus) was accused before Cicero of theft and extortion in his office: but he, trusting much to his supposed credit, and to the great suit and labour his friends made for him, [Licinius] went home to his house before sentence proceeded against him (the judges being yet to give their opinions), and there speedily trimmed his beard, and put a new gown upon his back, as though he had been sure to have been quit of his accusation, and then returned again into the marketplace. But Crassus went to meet him, and told him all the judges had condemned him. Licinius Macer took such a grief and conceit upon it, that he went home to his house again, laid him down on his bed, and never rose after. This judgement won Cicero great fame, for they praised him exceedingly for the great pains he took, to see justice duly executed.
[omission of another case]
Towards the end of his office, two or three days before his time expired, [Manilius was brought before him, and charged with peculation].This Manilius was very well beloved of the common people, who were persuaded that he was put in suit, not for any fault he had committed, but only to despite Pompey with, whose familiar friend he was. So he required certain days to answer the matter he was accused of; but Cicero would give him no further respite, but to answer it the next day. The people therewith were marvellously offended, because the other praetors in such like cases were wont to give ten days' respite to others.
The next morning when the tribunes had brought him before the judges, and also accused him unto them: he besought Cicero to hear him patiently. Cicero made him answer, that having always used as much favour and courtesy as he possibly might by law unto those that were accused, he thought he should offer Manilius too great wrong, if he should not do the like to him: wherefore, because he had but one day more to continue praetor in office, he had purposely given him that day to make his answer before him. For he thought that to leave his accusation to the hearing of another praetor, he could not have been thought a man that had borne him goodwill, and meant to pleasure him.
These words did marvellously change the peoples' opinion and affection towards him, and every man speaking well of him, they prayed him to defend Manilius' cause. He willingly granted [it to] them: and coming from the bench, standing at the bar like an orator to plead for him, he made a notable oration, and spake both boldly and sharply against the chief men of the city, and those specially that did envy Pompey.
This notwithstanding, when he came to sue to be consul, he found as great favour amongst the nobility, as he did with the commonalty. For they did further his suit, for the commonwealth's sake, upon this occasion. The change and alteration of government which Sulla brought in, was thought strange at the first among the people: but now men by process of time being used to it, it was thoroughly established, and no man misliked it. At that time many men practised to subvert the government, not for the benefit of the commonwealth, but to serve their own covetous minds. For Pompey being then in the east parts, made wars with the kings of Pontus and Armenia, and had not left sufficient force at Rome to oppress these seditious persons that sought nothing but rebellion. These men had made Lucius Catiline their captain: a desperate man [who would] attempt any great enterprise, subtle, and malicious of nature.
[a "wise and necessary omission" about the vices of Catiline]
Furthermore all Tuscany began to rise, and the most part of Gaul also, lying between the Alps and Italy. The city of Rome itself was also in great danger of rising, [on account of the unequal distribution of wealth and property, those of highest rank and greatest spirit having impoverished themselves by shows, entertainments, ambition of offices, and sumptuous buildings, and the riches of the city having thus fallen into the hands of mean men and low-born persons]. Thus the state of Rome stood in great hazard of uproar, the which any man might easily have procured, that durst have taken upon him any change or alteration of government, there was then such division among them in the state.
Catiline notwithstanding, to provide him of a strong bulwark to prosecute his intent, came to sue to be consul, hoping that he should be chosen with Gaius Antonius, a man that of himself was apt neither to do any great good, nor much hurt, and yet that could be a great strength and aid unto him that would attempt anything. Divers noble and wise men foreseeing that, did procure Cicero to sue for the consulship. The people accepted him, and rejected Catiline. Antonius and Cicero thereupon were created consuls, although that Cicero, of all the suitors for the consulship, was but only a knight's son, and not the son of a senator of Rome.
Now, though the common people understood not the secret practise and meaning of Catiline: yet at the beginning of Cicero's consulship, there fell out great trouble and contention in the commonwealth. For they of the one side, whom Sulla had by his ordinances deposed from their dignities and offices in Rome (who were no small men, neither few in number) began to creep into the people's goodwill, alleging many true and just reasons against the tyrannical power of Sulla; howbeit spoken in ill time, when it was out of time to make any change or alteration in the commonwealth.
The tribunes, on the other side, [proposed laws to the same purpose, constituting a commission of ten persons, with unlimited powers, in whom as supreme governors should be vested the right of selling the public lands of all Italy and Syria], and also through all the countries and provinces which Pompey had newly conquered to the empire of Rome: to sell, and release all the lands belonging to the state of Rome, to accuse any man whom they thought good, to banish any man, to restore the colonies with people, to take what money they would out of the treasury, to levy men of war, and to keep them in pay as long as they thought good.
For this great and absolute power of the Decemviri, there were many men of great account that favoured this law, but Antonius chiefly, being colleague and fellow consul with Cicero, for he had good hope to be chosen one of these ten commissioners: and furthermore, it was thought that he was privy unto Catiline's conspiracy, and that he misliked it not, because he was so much in debt. And this was [the thing] that the noblemen most feared. Thereupon Cicero, to provide first to prevent this danger, granted him the province of the realm of Macedon: and the province of Gaul being offered unto himself, he refused it. By this good turn, he won Antonius like a hired player, making him to promise him that he would assist and aid him for the benefit of the commonwealth, and that he would say no more than he should will him.
[After much argument, the proposed law of the Decemviri was overthrown.]
Furthermore [the tribunes] were utterly discouraged and out of hope to bring any of their matters to pass [which] they intended, he struck them so dead with his eloquence. For Cicero only of all men in Rome made the Romans know, how much eloquence doth grace and beautify that which is honest, and how invincible right and justice are, being eloquently set forth: and also how that a man that will be counted a wise governor of a commonweal[th], should always in his doings rather prefer profit, than to seek to curry favour with the common people: yet so to use his words, that the thing which is profitable, may not be also unpleasant.
[omitted for length: another example of Cicero's handling of the people]
Narration and Discussion
Describe the growing threat of rebellion that began to be felt in Rome. What were some of the problems?
The tribunes (the elected representatives of the Roman people) wanted to grant absolute power to a group called the Decemviri (translated as The Ten Men). How did Cicero "resist them that were authors of this innovation and new laws?"
Discuss this sentence: "For Cicero only of all men in Rome made the Romans know, how much eloquence doth grace and beautify that which is honest, and how invincible right and justice are, being eloquently set forth..."
After an early, failed attempt at rebellion (the First Catiline Conspiracy, not described by Plutarch), the supporters of Catiline began to rise again, with a plan that included an unfortunate but fatal accident to Cicero. But Catiline's expectation of election as consul was foiled when two others were chosen. Events came to a head when incriminating documents were mysteriously brought to Cicero's door, and Catiline was ejected from Rome (but not beaten yet).
to broach their practise, broach their enterprise: to move ahead with their plans
the tumult and hurly burly: the chaos of the elections
brigantine: more commonly spelled brigandine; a piece of protective clothing for the torso (a bulletproof vest)
his jacket loose at the collar: Dryden, "letting his tunic slip partly off from his shoulders"
according to their direction: to those who were to receive the letters
gaping: waiting with bated breath
unto the consuls: that is, the consuls from the past year
[a] time of present fear and danger: There is an interesting similarity here to the U.S. Supreme Court phrase "clear and present danger."
the great marketplace: the Roman Forum
chafe and rail: make a fuss
practise: in this context, it means to stir up, incite
Sullanus and Muraena: Decimus Junius Silanus and Lucius Licinius Murena
Quintus Metellus: Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer, the brother-in-law of Pompey; he became consul in 60 B.C.
63 B.C.: Cicero's year as consul. The Catiline Conspiracy (after Catiline had again failed to become consul for the year following.)
63 B.C.: the birth of Octavian (Caesar Augustus), which Cicero later took as a good omen
Lesson Four Reading
But now again, the rebels of Catiline's conspiracy (who were prettily cooled at the first for the fear they stood in) began to be lusty again, and to gather together, boldly encouraging one another to broach their practise, before Pompey returned, who was said to be on the way towards Rome with his army. But besides them, those soldiers that had served before in the wars under Sulla, being dispersed up and down Italy (but specially the best soldiers among them dwelling in the good towns of Tuscany) did stir up Catiline to hasten the enterprise, persuading themselves that they should once again have goods enough at hand to spoil and ransack at their pleasure. These soldiers having one Manilius to their captain, that had borne office in the field under Sulla, conspired with Catiline, and came to Rome to assist him in his suit: who purposed once again to demand the consulship, being determined at the election to kill Cicero, in the tumult and hurly burly. The gods also did plainly shew by earthquakes, lightning and thunder, and by vision of spirits that did appear, the secret practise and conspiracy: besides also, there fell out manifest conjectures and proofs by men that came to reveal them, howbeit they had not power sufficient to encounter so noble a man, and of great power as Catiline was.
Cicero therefore deferring the day of election, called Catiline into the Senate, and there did examine him of that which was reported of him. Catiline supposing there were many in the Senate that had goodwills to rebel, and also because he would shew himself ready unto them that were of his conspiracy: he gave Cicero a gentle answer, and said thus. "What do I offend," said he, "if that being two bodies in this town, the one lean and weak, and thoroughly rotten, and hath a head: and the other being great, strong, and of power, having no head, I do give it one?" meaning under this dark answer, to signify the people and Senate.
This answer being made, Cicero was more afraid than before, insomuch that he put on a brigantine for the safety of his body, and was accompanied with the chiefest men of Rome, and a great number of young men besides, going with him from his house unto the field of Mars, where the elections were made: and had of purpose left open his jacket loose at the collar, that his brigantine he had on might be seen, thereby to let every man that saw him, know the danger he was in. Every man misliked it when they saw it, and came about him to defend him, if any offered to assail him. But it so came to pass, that by voices of the people, Catiline was again rejected from the consulship, and Sullanus and Muraena [were] chosen consuls.
Shortly after this election, the soldiers of Tuscany being joined, which should have come to Catiline, and the day appointed being at hand to broach their enterprise: about midnight there came three of the chiefest men of Rome to Cicero's house (Marcus Crassus, Marcus Marcellus, and Scipio Metellus). Knocking at his gate, [they] called his porter, and bade him wake his master presently, and tell him how they three were at the gate to speak with him, about a matter of importance. At night after supper, Crassus' porter [had] brought his master a packet of letters, delivered him by a stranger unknown, which were directed unto divers persons, among the which one of them had no name subscribed, but was only directed unto Crassus himself. The effect of his letter was, that there should be a great slaughter in Rome made by Catiline, and therefore he prayed him that he would depart out of Rome to save himself. Crassus having read his own letter, would not open the rest, but went forthwith unto Cicero, partly for fear of the danger, and partly also to clear himself of the suspicion they had of him for the friendship that was betwixt him and Catiline.
Cicero counselling with them what was to be done, the next morning assembled the Senate very early, and carrying the letters with him, he did deliver them according to their direction, and commanded they should read them out aloud. All these letters, and every one of them particularly, did bewray the conspiracy. Furthermore, Quintus Arrius, a man of authority, and that had been praetor, told openly [about] the soldiers and men of war that were levied in Tuscany. And it was reported also, that Manilius was in the field with a great number of soldiers about the cities of Tuscany, gaping daily to hear news of some change at Rome. All these things being thoroughly considered, a decree passed by the Senate, that they should refer the care of the commonwealth unto the consuls, to the end that with absolute authority they might (as well as they could) provide for the safety and preservation thereof. Such manner of decree and authority, was not often seen concluded of in the Senate, but in [a] time of present fear and danger.
Now Cicero having this absolute power, he referred all foreign matters to Quintus Metellus' charge, and did himself take upon him the care and government of all civil affairs within Rome. On the day time when he went up and down the town, he had such a troop of men after him, that when he came through the great marketplace, he almost filled it with his train that followed him. Thereupon Catiline would no longer delay time, but resolved to go himself unto Manilius where their army lay. But before he departed, he had drawn into his confederacy one Martius, and another called Cethegus, whom he commanded betimes in the morning to go to Cicero's house with short daggers to kill him, pretending to come to salute him, and to give him a good morrow.
But there was a noblewoman of Rome, called Fulvia, who went overnight unto Cicero, and bade him beware of that Cethegus, who indeed came the next morning betimes unto him: but being denied to be let in, he began to chafe and rail before the gate. This made him the more to be suspected. In the end Cicero coming out of his house, called the Senate to the temple of Jupiter Stator, which standeth at the upper end of the Sacred Street, [going up to the Palatine]. There was Catiline with others, as though he meant to clear himself of the suspicion that went of him: howbeit there was not a senator that would sit down by him, but they did all rise from the bench where Catiline had taken his place. And further, when he began to speak, he could have no audience for the great noise they made against him. So at length Cicero rose, and commanded him [to leave the city]: saying, that there must needs be a separation of walls between them two, considering that the one used but words, and the other force of arms.Catiline thereupon immediately departing the city with three hundred armed men, was no sooner out of the precinct of the walls, but he made his sergeants carry axes and bundles of rods before him, as if he had been a consul lawfully created, and did display his ensigns of war, and so went in this order to seek Manilius. When they were joined, he had not much less than twenty thousand men together, with the which he went to practise the towns to rebel. Now open war being thus proclaimed, Antonius, Cicero's colleague and fellow consul, was sent against him to fight with him.
Narration and Discussion
If so many people suspected Catiline of conspiring to overthrow the government, why couldn't they just arrest him?
Why did the Romans "mislike" to see Cicero wearing armour under his outer clothing? Weren't they glad to see he was protected?
When the Senators heard the proof of the conspiracy, how did they react?
Pompey's army was on its way back to Rome, meaning that the time for rebellion was running out. Catiline's supporters came up with a desperate plan involving fire, murder, and kidnapping. Cicero's operatives uncovered the plot, and the conspirators were arrested. However, this meant that Cicero had to make a difficult, on-the-spot decision about their fate.
reserve for pledges: hold as hostages (more or less)
practising with them: dealing with them
consorts: confederates; friends
committed to ward: put in custody; locked up
a secret sacrifice: this is the same ceremony that Clodius later disrupted at Caesar's house (Lesson Seven)
at the consul's house: or at the house of another senior magistrate
malefactors: evildoers, troublemakers
dissemble: to conceal or pretend.
Cornelius Lentulus, surnamed Sura: Publius Cornelius Lentulus, a conspirator with Catiline
Gaius Caesar: Gaius Julius Caesar
Cato: Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, or Cato the Younger, an influential statesman and orator of that time. He called Cicero "the father of his country."
Lesson Five Reading
In the mean space, Cornelius Lentulus, surnamed Sura (a man of a noble house, but of a wicked disposition, and that for his ill life was put out of the Senate) assembled all the rest which were of Catiline's conspiracy, and that remained behind him in Rome, and bade them be afraid of nothing. He was then praetor the second time, as the manner is when any man comes to recover again the dignity of a senator which he had lost.
[omission: details about Lentulus/Sura]
Now this Lentulus undertook no small enterprise, but had an intent with him to kill all the whole Senate, and as many other citizens as they could murder, and to set fire of Rome, sparing none but Pompey's sons, whom they would reserve for pledges, to make their peace afterwards with Pompey. (For the rumor was very great and certain also, that he [Pompey] returned from very great wars and conquests which he had made in the East[ern] countries.) So they laid a plot to put their treason in execution, in one of the nights of Saturn's feasts. Further, they had brought flax and brimstone, and a great number of armours and weapons into Cethegus' house. Besides all this provision, they had appointed a hundred men in a hundred parts of the city, to the end that fire being raised in many places at one time, it should the sooner run through the whole city. Other men also were appointed to stop the pipes and water conduits which brought water to Rome, and to kill those also that came for water to quench the fire.
In all this stir, by chance there were two ambassadors of the Allobroges, whose country at that time did much mislike of the Romans, and were unwilling to be subject unto them. Lentulus thought these men very fit instruments to cause all Gaul to rebel. Thereupon practising with them, he won them to be of their conspiracy, and gave them letters directed to the council of their country, and in them did promise them freedom. He sent other letters also unto Catiline, and persuaded him to proclaim liberty to all bondmen, and to come with all the speed he could to Rome: and sent with them one Titus of the city of Crotona, to carry these letters.
[These counsels of inconsidering men, who conversed together over wine and with women], were easily found out by Cicero: who had a careful eye upon them, and very wisely and discreetly saw through them. For he had appointed men out of the city to spy their doings, which followed them to see what they intended. Furthermore he spake secretly with some he trusted (the which others also took to be of the conspiracy) and knew by them that Lentulus and Cethegus had practised with the ambassadors of the Allobroges, and drawn them into their conspiracy. At length he watched them one night so narrowly, that he took the ambassadors, and Titus Crotonian with the letters he carried, by help of the ambassadors of the Allobroges, which had secretly informed him of all before.
The next morning by break of day, Cicero assembled the Senate in the temple of Concord, and there openly read the letters, and heard the evidence of the witnesses. Further, there was one Junius Silanus, a senator that gave in evidence, that some heard Cethegus say they should kill three consuls, and four praetors. Pisa, a senator also, and that had been consul, told in manner the selfsame tale. And Gaius Sulpitius, a praetor, that was sent into Cethegus' house, reported that he had found great store of darts, armour, daggers and swords new made. Lastly, the Senate having promised Titus Crotonian he should have no hurt, so he would tell what he knew of this conspiracy: Lentulus thereby was [convicted], and driven to give up his office of praetor before the Senate, and changing his purple gown, to take another meet for his miserable state. This being done, Lentulus and his consorts were committed to ward, to the praetors' houses.
Now growing towards evening, the people waiting about the place where the Senate was assembled, Cicero at length came out, and told them what they had done within. Thereupon he was conveyed by all the people unto a friend's house of his hard by: for that his own house was occupied by the ladies of the city, who were busy solemnly celebrating a secret sacrifice in the honour of the goddess, called of the Romans "the Good Goddess," and of the Grecians Gynaecia, to wit "feminine": unto her this yearly sacrifice is done at the consul's house, by the wife or mother of the consul then being, the Vestal Nuns being present at it.
Now Cicero being come into his neighbour's house, began to bethink him what course he were best to take in this matter. For, to punish the offenders with severity, according to their deserts, he was afraid to do it: both because he was of a courteous nature, as also for that he would not seem to be glad to have occasion to shew his absolute power and authority, to punish (as he might) with rigour, citizens that were of the noblest houses of the city, and that had besides many friends. And contrariwise also, being remiss in so weighty a matter as this, he was afraid of the danger that might ensue of their rashness, mistrusting that if he should punish them with less than death, they would not amend for it, imagining they were well rid of their trouble, but would rather become more bold and desperate than ever they were: adding moreover the sting and spite of a new malice unto their accustomed wickedness; besides that he himself should be thought a coward and timorous man, whereas they had already not much better opinion of him.
Cicero being perplexed thus with these doubts, there appeared a miracle to the ladies, doing sacrifice at home in his house. [For on the altar, where the fire seemed wholly extinguished, a great and bright flame issued forth from the ashes of the burnt wood; at which others were affrighted]. Howbeit the Vestal Nuns willed Terentia (Cicero's wife) to go straight unto her husband, and to bid him not to be afraid to execute that boldly which he had considered of, for the benefit of the commonwealth: and that the goddess had raised this great flame, to shew him that he should have great honour by doing of it.
Terentia, that was no timorous nor fainthearted woman, but very ambitious, and furthermore had gotten more knowledge from her husband of the affairs of the state, than otherwise she had acquainted him with her housewivery in the house, as Cicero himself reporteth: she went to make report thereof unto him, and prayed him to do execution of those men. The like did Quintus Cicero his brother, and also Publius Nigidius, [one of his philosophical friends], and whose counsel also Cicero followed much in the government of the commonwealth.
The next morning, the matter being propounded to the arbitrement of the Senate, how these malefactors should be punished. Sullanus, being asked his opinion first, said that they should be put in prison, and from thence to suffer execution.
Others likewise that followed him, were all of that mind, [except for] Gaius Caesar, that afterwards came to be dictator. [He was then but a young man, and only at the outset of his career, but had already directed his hopes and policy to that course by which he afterwards changed the Roman state into a monarchy.] For at that time, Cicero had vehement suspicions of Caesar, but no apparent proof to convince him. And some say, that it was brought so near, as he was almost convicted, but yet saved himself. Other[s] write to the contrary, that Cicero wittingly dissembled that he either heard or knew any signs which were told him against Caesar, being afraid indeed of his friends and [power; for it was very evident to everybody that if Caesar was to be accused with the conspirators, they were more likely to be saved with him, than he to be punished with them].
Now when Caesar came to deliver his opinion touching the punishment of these prisoners: he stood up and said that he did not think it good to put them to death, but to confiscate their goods: and as for their persons, that they should bestow them in prison, some in one place, some in another, in such cities of Italy, as pleased Cicero best, until the war of Catiline were ended. This sentence being very mild, and the author thereof marvellous eloquent to make it good: [Cicero himself gave no small weight, for he stood up and, turning the scale on either side, spoke in favour partly of the former, partly of Caesar's sentence].
His friends thinking that Caesar's opinion was the safest for Cicero, because thereby he should deserve less blame for that he had not put the prisoners to death: they followed rather the second. Whereupon Sullanus also recanted that [which] he had spoken, and expounded his opinion: saying, that when he spake they should be put to death, he meant nothing so, but thought the last punishment a senator of Rome could have, was the prison.
But the first that contraried this opinion, was Catulus Lutatius, and after him Cato, who with vehement words enforced [the suspicion of Caesar], and furthermore filled all the Senate with wrath and courage: so that even upon the instant it was decreed by most voices, that they should suffer death. [But Caesar opposed the confiscation of their goods, not thinking it fair that those who rejected the mildest part of his sentence should avail themselves of the severest. And when many insisted upon it, he appealed to the tribunes, but they would do nothing; till Cicero himself yielding, remitted that part of the sentence.]
Narration and Discussion
Why was Caesar's recommendation of punishment fairly mild, and why were the Senators inclined to agree with him? What changed their minds?
Creative narration: Part Three could be written as a newspaper account, or acted out with a group of students.
In Part One of this lesson, Cicero handled the aftermath of the conspiracy as calmly as he could. His courage to act had saved the city from destruction. However, his enemies were eager to turn a reason for praise into the chance to destroy him. In addition, Cicero's own weaknesses of character also began to work against him.
solemn mystery: religious rite
links: lights, torches
to let him: to prevent him
their devises: Dryden, "their other projects"
"Philippians": also called the Philippics (see Lesson Eleven), the orations Cicero made against Mark Antony
Antonius : Gaius Antonius Hybrida, co-consul with Cicero
Antonius : Mark Antony
Cato: see Lesson Five
Lesson Six Reading
Cicero went with the Senate to fetch the prisoners: who were not all in one house, but every praetor had one of them. So he went first to take Lentulus [from the Palatine], and brought him through the Sacred Street and the marketplace, accompanied with the chiefest men of the city, who compassed him round about, and guarded his person. The people seeing that, quaked and trembled with fear, passed by, and said never a word: and specially the young men, who thought it had been some solemn mystery for the health of their country, that was so accompanied with the chief magistrate, and the noblemen of the city, with terror and fear.
So when he had passed through the marketplace, and was come to the prison, he delivered Lentulus into the hands of the hangman, and commanded him to do execution. Afterwards also Cethegus, and then all the rest one after another, whom he brought to the prison himself, and caused them to be executed. Furthermore, seeing [many of the conspirators] in a troop together in the marketplace, who knew nothing [of] what he had done, and watched only till night were come, supposing then to take away their companions by force from the place where they were, thinking they were yet alive: he turned unto them, and spake aloud, "They lived"; [for so the Romans, to avoid inauspicious language, name those that are dead].
When night was come, and that he was going homeward, as he came through the marketplace, the people did wait upon him no more with silence as before, but with great cries of his praise, and clapping of hands in every place he went, and called him saviour, and second founder of Rome. Besides all this, at every man's door there were links and torches lighted, that it was as light in the streets, as at noonday. The very women also did put lights out of the tops of their houses to do him honour, and also to see him so nobly brought home, with such a long train of the chiefest men of the city. [They said] that the Romans were greatly bound to many captains and generals of armies in their time, for the wonderful riches, spoils, and increase of their power which they had won: howbeit that they were to thank Cicero only for their health and preservation, having saved them from so great and extreme a danger. Not that they thought it so wonderful an act to have stricken dead the enterprise of the conspirators, and also to have punished the offenders by death: but because the conspiracy of Catiline being so great and dangerous an insurrection as ever was any, he had quenched it, and plucked it up by the roots, with so small hurt, and without uproar, trouble, or actual sedition. For the most part of them that were gathered together about Catiline, when they heard that Lentulus and all the rest were put to death, they presently forsook him: and Catiline himself also fighting a battle with them he had about him, against Antonius , the other consul with Cicero, he was slain in the field, and all his army defeated.
This notwithstanding, there were many that spake ill of Cicero for this fact, and meant to make him repent it, [and they had for their leaders some of the magistrates of the coming year, as Caesar, who was one of the praetors, and Metellus and Bestia, the tribunes]. They, so soon as they were chosen tribunes, would not once suffer Cicero to speak to the people, notwithstanding that he was yet in his office of consul for certain days. And furthermore, to let him that he should not speak unto the people, they did set their benches upon the pulpit for orations, which they call at Rome, Rostra: and would never suffer him to set foot in it, but only to resign his office, and that done, to come down again immediately. He granted thereunto, and went up to the pulpit upon that condition. So silence being made him, he made an oath, not like unto other consuls' oaths when they resign their office in like manner, but strange, and never heard of before: swearing that he had saved the city of Rome, and preserved all his country and the empire of Rome from utter ruin and destruction. All the people that were present, confirmed it, and swore the like oath. Wherewithal Caesar and the other tribunes his enemies were so offended with him, that they devised to breed him some new stir and trouble: and amongst others, they made a decree that Pompey should be sent for with his army to bridle the tyranny of Cicero.
[But it was a very great advantage for Cicero and the whole commonwealth that Cato was at that time one of the tribunes. For he, being of equal power with the rest, and of greater reputation, could oppose their designs.] So that he did not only easily break all their devises, but also in a goodly oration he made in a full assembly of the people, he so highly praised and extolled Cicero's consulship unto them, and the things he did in his office: that they gave him the greatest honours that ever were decreed or granted unto any man living.
For by decree of the people he was called "Father of the Country," as Cato himself had called him in his oration: the which name was never given to any man, but only unto him, and also he bare greater sway in Rome at that time, than any man beside him.
This notwithstanding, he made himself envied and misliked of many men, not for any ill act he did, or meant to do: but only because he too did too much boast of himself. For he never was in any assembly of people, Senate, or judgement, but every man's head was full still to hear the sound of Catulus and Lentulus brought in for sport, and filling the books and works he compiled besides full of his own praises: the which made his sweet and pleasant style tedious, and troublesome to those that heard them, as though this misfortune ever followed him to take away his excellent grace. But now, though he had this worm of ambition, and extreme covetous desire of honour in his head, yet did he not malice or envy any other's glory, but would very frankly praise excellent men, as well those that had been before friendly to him as those that were in his time. And this appeareth plainly in his writings.
They have written also certain notable words he spake of some ancient men in old time, as of Aristotle: that he was like a golden flowing river: and of Plato, that if Jupiter himself would speak, he would speak like him: and of Theophrastus, he was wont to call him his delight: and of Demosthenes' orations, when one asked him on a time which of them he liked best: "The longest," said he.
There be divers writers also, who to shew that they were great followers of Demosthenes, do follow Cicero's saying in a certain epistle he wrote unto one of his friends, wherein he said that Demosthenes slept jn some of his orations: but yet they forget to tel how highly he praised him in that place, and that he [Cicero] calleth the orations which he wrote against Antonius  (in the which he took great pains, and studied more than all the rest) "Philippians": to follow those which Demosthenes wrote against Philip, king of Macedon. Furthermore, there was not a famous man in all his time, either in eloquence, or in learning, whose fame he hath not commended in writing, or otherwise in honourable speech of him.
[short omission about Cicero's writings]
But in contrary manner, writing as he did to Pelops Byzantine, finding himself grieved with him, for that he was negligent in procuring the Byzantines to ordain some public honours in his behalf: that methinks proceeded of overmuch ambition, the which in many things made him too much forget the part of an honest man, and only because he would be commended for his eloquence.
[omission of some examples of Cicero's arrogance]
Narration and Discussion
Although Cicero was officially named "Father of the Country," how did he manage to make himself unpopular?
Creative narration: Write a letter to someone who could not be there, describing the events of Part One.
This lesson begins with more examples of Cicero's wit and sarcasm, which, as Plutarch points out, could turn bitter and nasty. The rest of the lesson is a story which appears also in the Life of Julius Caesar: the adventures of one Clodius, who used a females-only ritual at Caesar's house as his opportunity to visit Caesar's wife. Caught in the act, Clodius was brought before the authorities; but it was Cicero who testified against him, and who thereby created a sworn enemy.
put his wife away: divorced his wife
burdened with: accused of
practise the marriage: attempt to bring the marriage about
repaired very often to this Clodia: visited her
wearing her husband's breeches: controlling him
were close-fisted: had been bribed
Clodius: Publius Clodius Pulcher
62 B.C.: Clodius interrupted a ceremony at Caesar's house
60 B.C.: Julius Caesar invited Cicero to partner with himself, Pompey and Crassus in the group that would be called the First Triumvirate, but Cicero declined the offer
59 B.C.: the year that Julius Caesar was consul, referred to as "the consulship of Julius and Caesar." (See the study notes for Life of Julius Caesar, Lesson Three.)
Lesson Seven Reading
When Crassus was about to go into Syria, he desired to leave Cicero rather his friend than his enemy, and, therefore, one day saluting him, told him he would come and sup with him, which the other as courteously received. Within a few days after, on some of Cicero's acquaintances interceding for Vatinius, as desirous of reconciliation and friendship, for he was then his enemy, "What," he replied, "does Vatinius also wish to come and sup with me?" Such was his way with Crassus. When Vatinius, who had swellings in his neck, was pleading a cause, he called him "the swollen orator." Having been told by some one that Vatinius was dead, (and then) hearing, presently after, that he was alive, "May the rascal perish," said he, "for his news not being true."
[omission of Cicero's sharper-tongued witticisms]
Now to use fine taunts and girds to his enemies, it was a part of a good orator: but so commonly to gird every man to make the people laugh, that won him great ill will of many. [Lucius Cotta, an intemperate lover of wine, was censor when Cicero stood for the consulship. Cicero, being thirsty at the election, his friends stood round about him while he was drinking. "You have reason to be afraid," he said, "lest the censor should be angry with me for drinking water."]
[Cicero also joked about ugly daughters, shrill voices, and people with earrings.]
The great ill will that Clodius bare him, began upon this occasion. Clodius was of a noble house, a young man, and very wild and insolent. He being in love with Pompeia, Caesar's wife, found the means secretly to get into Caesar's house, apparelled like a young singing wench, because on that day the ladies of Rome did solemnly celebrate a secret sacrifice in Caesar's house, which is not lawful for men to be present at. So there was no man there but Clodius, who thought he should not have been known, because he was but a young man without any hair on his face, and that by this means he might come to Pompeia amongst the other women. He being gotten into this great house by night, not knowing the rooms and chambers in it: there was one of Caesar's mother's maids of her chamber called Aurelia, who seeing him wandering up and down the house in this sort, asked him what he was, and how they called him. So being forced to answer, he said he sought for Aura, one of Pompeia's maids. The maid perceived straight it was no woman's voice, and therewithal gave a great shriek, and called the other women: the which did see the gates fast shut, and then sought every corner up and down, so that at length they found him in the maid's chamber, with whom he came in. His offence was straight blown abroad in the city, whereupon Caesar put his wife away. One of the tribunes also accused Clodius, and burdened him that he had profaned the holy ceremonies of the sacrifices.
Cicero at that time was yet his friend, being one that had very friendly done for him at all times, and [Clodius] had ever accompanied him [Cicero] to guard him, if any man would have offered him injury in the busy time of the conspiracy of Catiline. Clodius stoutly denied the matter he was burdened with, and said that he was not in Rome at that time, but far from thence. Howbeit Cicero gave evidence against him, and [testified] that the selfsame day he [Clodius] came home to his house unto him [Cicero], to speak with him about certain matters. This indeed was true, though it seemeth Cicero gave not this evidence so much for the truth's sake, as to please his wife Terentia: for she hated Clodius to the death, because of his sister Clodia that would have married Cicero, and did secretly practise the marriage by one Tullius, who was Cicero's very friend; and because he repaired very often to this Clodia that dwelt hard by Cicero, Terentia began to suspect him. Terentia being a cruel woman, and wearing her husband's breeches: allured Cicero to set upon Clodius in his adversity, and to witness against him, as many other honest men of the city also did.
[omission: some of the evils that Clodius was said to have committed]
[Notwithstanding all this, when the common people united against the accusers and witnesses and the whole party, the judges were affrighted, and a guard was placed about them [the judges] for their defence; and most of them wrote their sentences on the tablets in such a way that they could not well be read.]
This notwithstanding, it was found that he was [acquitted] by the greatest number: and it was reported also that some of them were close-fisted. Catulus therefore meeting with some of them going home, after they had given their sentence, told them: "Surely ye had good reason to be well guarded for your safety, for you were afraid your money should have been taken from you, which you took for bribes." And Cicero said unto Clodius, who reproved him that his witness was not true he gave against him: "Clean contrary," quoth Cicero, "for five-and-twenty of the judges have believed me, being so many that have condemned thee, and the thirty would not believe thee, for they would not quit thee before they had fingered money."
Notwithstanding, in this judgement Caesar never gave evidence against Clodius: and said moreover, that he did not think his wife had committed any adultery, howbeit that he had put her away, because he would that Caesar's wife should not only be clean from any dishonesty, but also void of all suspicion.
Narration and Discussion
Do you enjoy Cicero's sense of humour, or not? How would you feel if you were on the receiving end?
Why didn't Caesar give evidence against Clodius?
For older students: Is it better to be eloquent, or to be truthful? Can you be both? (Remember Lesson Three? "For Cicero only of all men in Rome made the Romans know, how much eloquence doth grace and beautify that which is honest, and how invincible right and justice are, being eloquently set forth.")
After his acquittal, Clodius pursued every bit of power he could in Rome. As a tribune, he made himself popular by proposing laws that favoured everyone from the consuls to the common people. Then he played his best card: accusing Cicero of wrongfully executing the leaders of the Catiline Conspiracy.
tribune: a Roman official who was particularly concerned with matters of justice to the common people
three notable men in Rome: the "First Triumvirate"
did lean unto him: approached him
made fair weather with him: treated him in a friendly manner
made Cicero no more afraid: made Cicero trust Clodius again
to plead as he did before: went back into his public business
he hardened Clodius the more against him: Dryden translates this "Caesar, being exasperated, joined the party of Clodius against him.")
sued to the people: humbly begged their grace
the knights of Rome: those of the Equestrian social class
tarry: stay where he was
caused bills of inhibition to be set up: passed an act forbidding people to shelter or aid Cicero. Dryden translates it "interdicted him fire and water," meaning that he could not be given those things.
used him: treated him
tinctures: this usually refers to medicines, but can also refer to residue, faint tinges or traces of something
Gabinius, Piso: these were the consuls for 58 B.C.
58 B.C.: After being charged with unlawful death (because of the Catiline Conspiracy), Cicero went into exile.
Lesson Eight Reading
Clodius being quit of this accusation and trouble, and having also found means to be chosen tribune: he began straight to persecute Cicero, [heaping up matters], and stirring up all manner of people against him. First he won the goodwill of the common people by devising of [popular laws]. To both the consuls he granted great and large provinces: unto Piso, Macedon, and to Gabinius, Syria.
He made also many poor men free citizens, and had always about him a great number of slaves, armed. At that present time there were three notable men in Rome, which carried all the sway: Crassus, that shewed himself an open enemy unto Cicero: Pompey, the other, made much both of the one and the other: the third was Caesar, who was prepared for his journey into Gaul with an army. Cicero did lean unto him (though he knew him no fast friend of his, and that he mistrusted him for matters past in Catiline's conspiracy) and prayed him that he might go to the wars with him, as one of his lieutenants. Caesar granted [it to] him. Thereupon Clodius perceiving that by this means he [Cicero] got him[self] out of the danger of his [Clodius'] office of tribuneship for that year, he made fair weather with him (as though he meant to reconcile himself unto him), and told him that he [Clodius] had cause rather to think ill of Terentia, for that [which] he had done against him, than of himself [Cicero], and always spake very courteously of him as occasion fell out, and said he did think nothing in him, neither had any malice to him, howbeit it did a little grieve him, that being a friend, he was offered unkindness by his friend.
These sweet words made Cicero no more afraid, so that he gave up his lieutenancy unto Caesar, and began again to plead as he did before. Caesar took this in such disdain, that he hardened Clodius the more against him, and besides, made Pompey his enemy. And Caesar himself also said, before all the people, that he thought Cicero had put Lentulus, Cethegus, and the rest unjustly to death, and contrary to law, without lawful trial and condemnation. And this was the fault for the which Cicero was openly accused.
Thereupon Cicero seeing himself accused for this fact, he changed the usual gown he wore, and put on a mourning gown: and so suffering his beard and hair of his head to grow without any combing, he went in this humble manner, and sued to the people. But Clodius was ever about him in every place and street he went, having a [band] of rascals and knaves with him that shamefully mocked him [Cicero] for that he had changed his gown and countenance in that sort, and oftentimes they cast dirt and stones at him, breaking his talk and requests he made unto the people.
This notwithstanding, all the knights of Rome did in manner change their gowns with him for company, and of them there were commonly twenty thousand young gentlemen of noble house which followed him with their hair about their ears, and were suitors to the people for him. Furthermore, the Senate assembled to decree that the people should mourn in blacks, as in a common calamity: but the consuls were against it. And Clodius, on the other side, was with a band of armed men about the Senate, so that many of the senators ran out of the Senate, crying and tearing their clothes for sorrow. Howbeit these men seeing all that, were nothing the more moved with pity and shame: but either Cicero must needs absent himself, or else determine to fight with Clodius.
Then went Cicero to entreat Pompey to aid him: but he absented himself of purpose out of the city, because he would not be entreated, and lay at one of his houses in the country, near unto the city of Alba. So he [Cicero] first of all sent Piso his son-in-law unto him to entreat him, and afterwards went himself in person to him. But Pompey being told that he was come, would not see had not the heart to suffer him to come to him, to look him in the face: for he had been past all shame to have refused the request of so worthy a man, who had before shewed him such pleasure, and also done and said so many things in his favour. [But being now Caesar's son-in-law, at his instance he had set aside all former kindness, and, slipping out at another door, avoided the interview.]
So Cicero seeing himself betrayed of him, and now having no other refuge to whom he might repair unto: he put himself into the hands of the two consuls. Of them two, Gabinius was ever cruel, and churlish unto him. But Piso on the other side spake always very courteously unto him, and prayed him to absent himself for a time, and to give place a little to Clodius' fury, and patiently to bear the change of the time: for in so doing, he might come again another time to be the preserver of his country, which was now for his sake in tumult and sedition.
Cicero upon this answer of the consul, consulted with his friends: among the which Lucullus gave him advice to tarry, and said that he should be the stronger. But all the rest were of contrary opinion, and would have him to get him away with speed: for the people would shortly wish for him again, when they had once been beaten with Clodius' fury and folly. Cicero liked best to follow this counsel. [But first he took a statue of Minerva, which had been long set up and greatly honoured in his house, and carrying it to the Capitol, there dedicated it, with the inscription, "To Minerva, Patroness of Rome."] So, his friends having given him safe conduct, he went out of Rome about midnight, and took his way through the country of Luke by land, meaning to go into Sicily.
When it was known in Rome that he was fled, Clodius did presently banish him by decree of the people, and caused bills of inhibition to be set up, that no man should secretly receive him within five hundred miles' compass of Italy. Howbeit divers men, reverencing Cicero, made no reckoning of that inhibition: but when they had used him with all manner of courtesy possible [in their homes], they did conduct him besides at his departure, saving one city only in Luke, called at that time Hipponium, and now Vibone: where a Sicilian called Vibius (unto whom Cicero before had done many pleasures, and specially among others, had made him master of the works in the year that he was consul) would not once receive him into his house, but promised him he would appoint him a place in the country that he might go unto.
And Gaius Virgilius also, at that time praetor and governor of Sicily, who before had shewed himself his very great friend: wrote then unto him, that he should not come near unto Sicily. This grieved him [Cicero] to the heart. Thereupon he went directly unto the city of Brundusium, and there embarked to pass over the sea unto Dyrrhachium, and at the first had wind at will: but when he was in the main sea, the wind turned, and brought him back again to the place from whence he came. But after that, he hoisted sail again, and the report went, that at his arrival at Dyrrhachium when he took land, the earth shook under him, and the sea gave back together: whereby the soothsayers interpreted, that his exile should not be long, because both the one and the other was a token of change. Yet Cicero, notwithstanding that many men came to see him for the goodwill they bare him, and that the cities of Greece contended who should most honour him, he was always sad, and could not be merry, but cast his eyes still towards Italy, as passioned lovers do towards the women they love: shewing himself fainthearted, and took this adversity more basely than was looked for of one so well studied and learned as he. And yet he oftentimes prayed his friends, not to call him orator, but rather philosopher: saying, that philosophy was his chiefest profession, and that, [regarding] his eloquence, he did not use it but as a necessary instrument to one that pleadeth in the commonwealth. [But the desire of glory has great power in washing the tinctures of philosophy out of the souls of men, and in imprinting the passions of the common people, by custom and conversation, in the minds of those that take a part in governing them, unless the politician be very careful so to engage in public affairs as to interest himself only in the affairs themselves, but not participate in the passions that are consequent to them.]
Narration and Discussion
How did Clodius win the favour of the people when he was made tribune?
The few friends that Cicero had left gave him conflicting advice about how to handle his sudden unpopularity. What would you have done?
Cicero insisted that "philosophy was his chiefest profession, and that, [regarding] his eloquence, he did not use it but as a necessary instrument to one that pleadeth in the commonwealth." Was that the truth, or was he just trying to put a better spin on things that had gone wrong? If he had suddenly created a new version of himself (or recreated an old one), was that necessarily a bad thing?
The power struggle continued as Cicero came home from his banishment, and it ended only with the death of Clodius. Cicero, at the height of his career, then spent some time as the governor of Cilicia. His return to Rome in 50 B.C. marked the end of an era, because the Republic was about to be rocked by change.
sold by the crier: put up for sale by a kind of auction
inveigh: speak with hostility
overthrown and razed: destroyed
patricians: the highest social class. Tribunes were supposed to be elected from the common people, although there were exceptions.
an abstinence of their wonted familiarity: a cooling of their friendship
five hundred: Dryden says six hundred
without curiosity and excess: Dryden, "not sumptuously but liberally"
many things: Dryden refers to money, rather than other stolen goods
Lentulus: Publius Cornelius Lentulus Spinther, the consul for 57 B.C. (not to be confused with Lentulus, the conspirator)
57 B.C.: Cicero returned from exile
53 B.C.: the death of Crassus (in battle against the Parthians)
52 B.C.: Clodius was killed by Milo
51-50 B.C.: Cicero was governor in Cilicia
Lesson Nine Reading
Now Clodius was not contented that he had banished Cicero out of Italy, but further, he burnt all his houses in the country, and his house also in Rome standing in the marketplace, of the which he built a temple [to] Liberty, and caused his goods to be sold by the crier: so that the crier was occupied all day long crying the goods to be sold, and no man offered to buy any of them. The chiefest men of the city beginning to be afraid of these violent parts, and having the common people at his commandment, whom he had made very bold and insolent: he began to inveigh against Pompey, and spake ill of his doings in the time of his wars, the which every man else but himself did commend. Pompey then was very angry with himself that he had so forsaken Cicero, and repented him of it, and by his friends procured all the means he could to call him home again from his banishment. [And when Clodius opposed it, the Senate made vote that no public measure should be ratified or passed by them till Cicero was recalled.]
Lentulus was at that time consul, and there grew such an uproar and stir upon it, that some of the tribunes were hurt in the marketplace, and Quintus Cicero (the brother of Cicero) was [left for dead], hidden under the dead bodies. Then the people began to change their minds. And Annius Milo, one of the tribunes, was the first man that durst venture upon Clodius, and bring him by force to be tried before the judges. Pompey himself also having gotten a great number of men about him, as well of the city of Rome as of other towns adjoining to it, being strongly guarded with them: he came out of his house, and compelled Clodius to get him out of the marketplace, and then called the people to give their voices for the calling home again of Cicero.
It is reported that the people never passed [a] thing with so great goodwill, nor so wholly together, as the return of Cicero. And the Senate for their parts also, in the behalf of Cicero, ordained that the cities which had honoured and received Cicero in his exile, should be greatly commended: and that his houses which Clodius had overthrown and razed, should be re-edified at the charge of the commonwealth. So Cicero returned the sixteenth month after his banishment, and the towns and cities he came by, shewed themselves so joyful of his return, that all manner of men went to meet and honour him, with so great love and affection, that Cicero's report thereof afterwards came indeed short of the very truth as it was. For he said, that Italy brought him into Rome upon their shoulders. Insomuch as Crassus himself, who before his banishment was his enemy, went then with very goodwill unto him, and became his friend, saying: that he did it for the love of his son, who loved Cicero with all his heart.
Now Cicero being returned, he found a time when Clodius was out of the city, and went with a good company of his friends unto the Capitol, and there took away the tables, and brake them, in the which Clodius had written all his acts that he had passed and done in the time of his tribuneship. Clodius would afterwards have accused Cicero for it: but Cicero answered him, that he was not lawfully created tribune, because he was of the patricians, and therefore all that he had done in his tribuneship was void, and of none effect. Therewith Cato was offended, and spake against him, not for that he liked any of Clodius' doings: (but to the contrary, utterly misliked all that he did), but because he thought it out of all reason, that the Senate should cancel all those things which he had done and passed in his tribuneship, and specially, because amongst the rest that was there which he himself had done in the Isle of Cyprus, and in the city of Byzantium. Hereupon there grew some strangeness betwixt Cicero and Cato, the which notwithstanding brake not out to open enmity: but only to an abstinence of their wonted familiarity, and access one to another.
[omitted for length: Milo's slaying of Clodius, and his defense by Cicero]
Afterwards, the province of Cilicia being appointed to him, with an army of twelve thousand footmen, and two thousand, five hundred horsemen, he took the sea to go thither. [He had orders to bring back Cappadocia to its allegiance to Ariobarzanes, its king; which settlement he effected very completely without recourse to arms. And perceiving the Cilicians, by the great loss the Romans had suffered in Parthia, and the commotions in Syria, to have become disposed to attempt a revolt, by a gentle course of government he soothed them back into fidelity.] He never received gifts that were sent him, no not from kings and princes. Furthermore, he did disburden the provinces of the feasts and banquets they were wont to make other governors before him. On the other side also, he would ever have the company of good and learned men at his table, and would use them well, without curiosity and excess. He had never porter to his gate, nor was seen by any man in his bed: for he would always rise at the break of day, and would walk or stand before his door. He would courteously receive all them that came to salute and visit him. Further they report of him, that he never caused [any of those under his command to be beaten with rods, or to have their garments rent]. In his anger he never reviled any man, neither did despitefully set [a] fine upon any man's head.
Finding many things also belonging to the commonwealth, which private men had stolen and embezzled to their own use: he restored them again unto the cities, whereby they grew very rich and wealthy: and yet did he save their honour and credit that had taken them away, and did them no other hurt, but only constrained them to restore that which was the commonwealth's. He made a little war also, and drove away the thieves that kept about Mount Amanus, for the which exploit his soldiers called him Imperator, to say, chief captain.
About that time there was an orator called Caecilius, who wrote unto him from Rome, to pray him to send him some leopards, or panthers, out of Cilicia, because he would shew the people some pastime with them. Cicero boasting of his doings, wrote to him again that there were no more leopards in Cilicia, but that they were all fled into Caria for anger, that seeing all things quiet in Cilicia, they [the Ciliicians] had leisure now to hunt them.
Narration and Discussion
Explain why Cato was offended by the breaking of the tables (Part Two). How might this affect his future dealings with Cicero?
Creative narration: "It is reported that the people never passed [a] thing with so great goodwill, nor so wholly together, as the return of Cicero." If you had lived in Rome and wanted to show your approval, what might you have done? (Perhaps a commemorative poem or song?)
When Cicero returned to Rome after his governorship of Cilicia, he found the city on the brink of civil war. He was not sure whether to attach himself to Pompey's party or Caesar's, and he attempted to solve that question by urging Pompey and Caesar to work out their differences.
How old was Cicero?
The question of Cicero's advanced age was raised in a presumptuous letter suggesting that he might want to get himself somewhere safe during the war. He would have been about fifty-seven in 49 B.C. Pompey was the same age, and Julius Caesar was six years younger.
to be quiet from them both: one might understand this as either "be safe from them both" or "be out of their hair." In either case, Cicero did not take it as a compliment.
fleering and jibing: making sarcastic remarks
kingdom: under the rule of one person
Cicero leaving to practice . . .: he ended his public activities
"Laertes' life": a life of ease
the younger Pompey: one of the two sons of Pompey
January, 49 B.C.: Caesar crossed the Rubicon into Italy, an act of defiance which began a civil war
February, 49 B.C.: Pompey fled to Greece along with most of the Senate
48 B.C.: the Battle of Pharsalus or Pharsalia (Caesar defeated Pompey), and the death of Pompey soon afterwards
Lesson Ten Reading
[On leaving his province], he came by Rhodes: and stayed a few days at Athens, with great delight, to remember how pleasantly he lived there before, at what time he studied there. Thither came to him the chiefest learned men of the city, and his friends also, with whom he was acquainted at his first being there; [and after receiving in Greece the honours that were due to him, returned to the city, where everything was now just as it were in a flame, breaking out into a civil war].
Thereupon the Senate having decreed that he should enter in triumph into the city: he answered, that he would rather (all parties agreed) follow Caesar's coach in triumph. [In private, he gave advice to both, writing many letters to Caesar, and personally entreating Pompey; doing his best to soothe and bring to reason both the one and the other.] But it was so impossible a matter, that there was no speech of agreement would take place. So Pompey hearing that Caesar was not far from Rome, he durst no longer abide in Rome, but fled with divers of the greatest men in Rome. Cicero would not follow him when he fled, and therefore men thought he would take part with Caesar: but this is certain, that he was in a marvellous perplexity, and could not easily determine what way to take. Whereupon he wrote in his epistles: "What way should I take? Pompey hath the juster and honester cause of war, but Caesar can better execute, and provide for himself and his friends with better safety: so that I have means enow to flee, but none to whom I might repair."
In all this stir, there was one of Caesar's friends called Trebatius, which wrote a letter unto Cicero, and told him that "Caesar wished him in any case to come to him, and to run with him the hope and fortune he undertook: but if he excused himself by his age, that then he should get him into Greece, and there to be quiet from them both."
Cicero, marveling that Caesar wrote not to him himself, answered in anger, that he would do nothing unworthy of his acts all the days of his life thitherto: and to this effect he wrote in his letters.
Now Caesar being gone into Spain, Cicero embarked immediately to go to Pompey. So when he came unto him, every man was very glad of his coming, but Cato. Howbeit Cato secretly reproved him for coming unto Pompey. [As for himself, he said, it had been indecent to forsake that part in the commonwealth which he had chosen from the beginning; but Cicero might have been more useful to his country and friends, if, remaining neuter, he had attended and used his influence to moderate the result, instead of coming hither to make himself, without reason or necessity, an enemy to Caesar, and a partner in such great dangers.]
These persuasions of Cato overthrew all Cicero's purpose and determination, besides that Pompey himself did not employ him in any matter of service or importance. But hereof himself was more in fault than Pompey, because he confessed openly that he did repent him he was come thither. Furthermore, he scorned and disdained all Pompey's preparations and counsels, the which indeed made him to be had in jealousy and suspicion. Also he would ever be fleering and jibing at those that took Pompey's part, though he had no list himself to be merry. He would also go up and down the camp very sad and heavy, but yet he would ever have one jest or other to make men laugh, although they had as little lust to be merry as he.
[omission: Cicero's jokes, because you really had to be there]
After the battle of Pharsalia, where Cicero was not by reason of his sickness: Pompey being fled, and Cato at that time at Dyrrhachium, where he had gathered a great number of men of war, and had also prepared a great navy: he prayed Cicero to take charge of all this army, [because of his] having been consul. Cicero did not only refuse it, but also told them he would meddle no more with this war. But this was enough to have made him been slain: for the younger Pompey and his friends called him traitor, and drew their swords upon him to kill him, which they had done, had not Cato stepped between them and him, and yet had he much ado to save him, and to convey him safely out of the camp.
When Cicero came to Brundusium, he stayed there a certain time for Caesar's coming, who came but slowly, by reason of his troubles he had in Asia, as also in Egypt. Howbeit news being brought at length that Caesar was arrived at Tarentum, and that he came by land unto Brundusium: Cicero departed thence to go meet him, not mistrusting that Caesar would not pardon him, but rather being ashamed to come to his enemy being a conqueror, before such a number of men as he had about him. Yet he was not forced to do or speak anything unseemly to his calling. For Caesar seeing him coming towards him far before the rest that came with him: he lighted from his horse and embraced him, and walked a great way afoot with him, still talking with him only, and ever after he did him great honour and made much of him. Insomuch as Cicero having written a book in praise of Cato: Caesar on the other side wrote another, and praised the eloquence and life of Cicero, matching it with the life of Pericles, and Theramenes. Cicero's book was entitled Cato, and Caesar's book called Anticato, as much to say, as "against Cato."
They say further, that Quintus Ligarius being accused to have been in the field against Caesar, Cicero took upon him to defend his cause: and that Caesar said unto his friends about him, "What hurt is it for us to hear Cicero speak, whom we have not heard of long time? For otherwise Ligarius (in my opinion) standeth already a condemned man, for I know him to be a vile man, and mine enemy."
But when Cicero had begun his oration, he moved Caesar marvellously, he had so sweet a grace, and such force in his words: that it is reported Caesar changed divers colours, and shewed plainly by his countenance, that there was a marvellous alteration in all the parts of him. For, in the end when the orator came to touch the battle of Pharsalia, then was Caesar so troubled, that his body shook withal, and besides, certain books he had, fell out of his hands, and he was driven against his will to set Ligarius at liberty.
Afterwards, when the commonwealth of Rome came to be a kingdom, Cicero leaving to practise any more in the state, he gave himself to read philosophy to the young men that came to hear him: by whose access unto him (because they were the chiefest of the nobility in Rome) he came again to bear as great sway and authority in Rome, as ever he had done before. His study and endeavour was to write matters of philosophy dialogue-wise, and to translate out of Greek into Latin, taking pains to bring all the Greek words, which are proper unto logic and natural causes, unto Latin.
[omission: details of the Greek philosophic terms he translated]
And of his readiness in writing of verses, he would use them many times for his recreation: for it is reported, that whensoever he took in hand to make any, he would dispatch five hundred of them in a night.
Now, all that time of his recreation and pleasure, he would commonly be at some of his houses in the country, which he had near unto Thusculum, from whence he would write unto his friends, that he led "Laertes' life": either spoken merrily as his manner was, or else pricked forward with ambition, desiring to return again to be a practiser in the commonwealth, being weary with the present time and state thereof. Howsoever it was, he came oftentimes to Rome, only to see Caesar to keep him his friend, and would ever be the first man to confirm any honours decreed unto him, and was always studious to utter some new matter to praise him and his doings. [As, for example, what he said of the statues of Pompey, which had been thrown down, and were afterwards by Caesar's orders set up again; that Caesar, by this act of humanity, had indeed set up Pompey's statues, but he had fixed and established his own.]
Narration and Discussion
"Pompey hath the juster and honester cause of war, but Caesar can better execute," wrote Cicero. Might, or right? What would you have done?
Why did Cato say that Cicero had put himself in unnecessary danger by coming to Pompey's camp? How did Cicero react?
How did Cicero plan to spend his retirement?
Now in his sixties, Cicero had his share of personal troubles, and found himself in danger as well because of his political friendships. Mark Antony, a recent casualty of Cicero's legal abilities, came unexpectedly into power; and the wounds Cicero had given would not be forgiven.
put away his wife: divorced his wife
having no necessary thing with him . . .: he was not well-equipped for the journey
furniture: equipment, supplies
the Philippics: Cicero's orations against Antony (so called because Demosthenes had written similar denunciations of King Philip)
the conspiracy being executed: Caesar being assassinated
a general oblivion: a general pardon or amnesty
having prevented this danger: being forewarned
some let: some delay
his person: his presence
had contention with Antonius: Those who have read Genevieve Foster's Augustus Caesar's World will remember this dispute over Caesar's estate, and how Octavian asked Cicero for help.
Brutus, Cassius: conspirators against Julius Caesar
Hirtius and Pansa: Aulius Hirtius and Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus, the consuls elected for 43 B.C.
young Caesar: Octavius or Octavian, later Caesar Augustus
Cicero's son: Marcus Minor, nominated consul in 30 B.C. along with Caesar Augustus
44 B.C.: the assassination of Julius Caesar
Lesson Eleven Reading
[He had a design, it is said, of writing the history of his country, combining with it much of that of Greece, and incorporating in it all the stories and legends of the past that he had collected. But his purposes were interfered with by various public and various private unhappy occurrences and misfortunes; for most of which he was himself in fault.]
For first of all, he did put away his wife Terentia, because she had made but small account of him in all the wars: so that he departed from Rome having no necessary thing with him to entertain him out of his country, and yet when he came back again into Italy, she never shewed any spark of love or goodwill towards him. For she never came to Brundusium to him, where he remained a long time: and worse than that, his daughter having the heart to take so long a journey in hand to go to him, she [Terentia] neither gave her company to conduct her, nor money or other furniture convenient for her; [besides, she left him] bare walls in his house and nothing in it, and yet greatly brought in debt besides. And these were the honestest causes alleged for their divorce.
But besides that Terentia denied all these, Cicero himself gave her a good occasion to clear herself, because he shortly after married a young maiden, being fallen in fancy with her (as Terentia said) for her beauty: or, as Tyro his servant wrote, for her riches, to the end that with her goods he might pay his debts. For she was very rich, and Cicero also was appointed her guardian, she being left sole heir. Now, because he owed a marvellous sum of money, his parents and friends did counsel him to marry this young maiden, notwithstanding he was too old for her, because that with her goods he might satisfy his creditors. But Antonius, speaking of this marriage of Cicero, in his answer to the Philippics: he doth reprove him for that he put away his wife, with whom he was grown old, [adding some happy strokes of sarcasm on Cicero's domestic, inactive, unsoldier-like habits].
Shortly after that he had married his second wife, his daughter died in labour of child, in Lentulus' house, whose second wife she was, being before married unto Piso, who was her first husband. So the philosophers and learned men came of all sides to comfort him: but he took her death so sorrowfully, that he put away his second wife, because he thought she did rejoice at the death of his daughter. And thus much touching the state and troubles of his house.
Now touching the conspiracy against Caesar, he was not made privy to it, although he was one of Brutus' greatest friends, and that it grieved him to see things in that state they were brought unto, and albeit also he wished for the time past, as much as any other man did. But indeed the conspirators were afraid of his nature, that lacked hardiness: and of his age, the which oftentimes maketh the stoutest and most hardiest natures fainthearted and cowardly.
Notwithstanding, the conspiracy being executed by Brutus and Cassius, Caesar's friends being gathered together, every man was afraid that the city would again fall into civil wars. And Antonius also, who was consul at that time, did assemble the Senate, and made some speech and motion then to draw things again unto quietness.
But Cicero having used divers persuasions fit for the time, in the end he moved the Senate to decree (following the example of the Athenians) a general oblivion of things done against Caesar, and to assign unto Brutus and Cassius some governments of provinces. [But neither of these things took effect.] For the people of themselves were sorry, when they saw Caesar's body brought through the marketplace. And when Antonius also did shew them his gown all bebloodied, cut, and thrust through with swords: then they were like mad men for anger, and sought up and down the marketplace if they could meet with any of them that had slain him: and taking firebrands in their hands, they ran to their houses to set them afire. But the conspirators having prevented this danger, saved themselves: and fearing that if they tarried at Rome, they should have many such alarms, they forsook the city.
[Cicero was uncertain what he should do next. After weighing his options], he promised Hirtius and Pansa that he would spend the summer at Athens, and that he would return again to Rome so soon as they were entered into their consulship. With this determination Cicero took sea alone, to go into Greece. But as it chanceth oftentimes, there was some let that kept him he could not sail, and news came to him daily from Rome, as the manner is, that Antonius was wonderfully changed, and that now he did nothing any more without the authority and consent of the Senate, and that there lacked nothing but his person, to make all things well. Then Cicero condemning his dastardly fear, returned forthwith to Rome, not being deceived in his first hope. For there came such a number of people out to meet him, that he could do nothing all day long but take them by the hands, and embrace them: who to honour him, came to meet him at the gate of the city, as also by the way to bring him to his house.
The next morning Antonius assembled the Senate, and called for Cicero by name. Cicero refused to go, and kept his bed, feigning that he was weary with his journey and pains he had taken the day before: but indeed, the cause why he went not, was, for fear and suspicion of an ambush that was laid for him by the way, if he had gone, as he was informed by one of his very good friends. Antonius was marvellously offended that they did wrongfully accuse him for laying of any ambush for him: and therefore sent soldiers to his house, and commanded them to bring him by force, or else to set his house afire.
After that time, Cicero and he were always at jar, but yet coldly enough, one of them taking heed of another: until that the young Caesar returning from the city of Apollonia, came as lawful heir unto Julius Caesar [the late] dictator, and had contention with Antonius for the sum of two thousand five hundred myriads, the which Antonius kept in his hands of his father's goods. Thereupon, Philip, who had married the mother of this young Caesar, and Marcellus, who had also married his sister, went with young Caesar unto Cicero, and there agreed together, that Cicero should help young Caesar with the favour of his authority and eloquence, as well towards the Senate, as also to the people: and that Caesar in recompense of his goodwill should stand by Cicero with his money and soldiers. For this young Caesar, had many of his father's old soldiers about him, that had served under him.
[omitted for length: Cicero had a special friendship with Octavian ("young Caesar") ever since dreaming about a child who showed great promise, and then recognizing Octavian as the boy from his dream]
But in truth, first of all the great malice he bare unto Antonius, and secondly his nature that was ambitious of honour, were (in my opinion) the chiefest causes why be became young Caesar's friend: knowing that the force and power of his soldiers would greatly strengthen his authority and countenance in managing the affairs of the state, besides that the young man could flatter him so well, that he called him "father"; [at which Brutus was highly displeased...Notwithstanding, Brutus took Cicero's son, then studying philosophy at Athens, gave him a command, and employed him in various ways, with a good result.]
Narration and Discussion
Plutarch skims over the assassination of Julius Caesar (Part Two). What do you know of these events? How did Cicero fit into the story, and what might that mean for him in the events that followed?
For older students: "They shewed that no brute or savage beast is so cruel as man, if with his licentiousness he have liberty to execute his will." Do you agree?
"Young Caesar," with Cicero's support, was now in power. Cicero assumed that his loyalty would be fully rewarded; but political friendships are fickle things.
the lictors and ensigns . . .: the ceremonial equipment of an army commander
he saw that he had the consulship upon him: see the note under Historic Occasions
agreed with Antonius and Lepidus: the Second Triumvirate
Such place took wrath in them: Dryden, "They let their anger and fury take from them the sense of humanity"
proscriptions: condemnations, bannings
an image of Antonius' life and disposition: Dryden, "the image of Antony's own soul"
Quintus Pedius: (Not directly named in this text) Consul with Octavian. He passed the Lex Pedia, an act calling for the death of all those involved in or approving of the death of Julius Caesar. Pedius was expecting a list of only seventeen people, but the newly-formed Second Triumvirate took the opportunity to rid themselves of hundreds of enemies. This took such a toll on Pedius that he died soon afterwards.
April, 43 B.C.: the deaths of Hirtius and Pansa
August, 43 B.C.: the election of Octavian and Quintus Pedius as consuls, replacing Hirtius and Pansa. Octavian then left for northern Italy to form the Second Triumvirate, with Mark Antony and Lepidus.
December, 43 B.C.: the deaths of Marcus Tullius Cicero and Quintus Tullius Cicero (his younger brother)
October, 42 B.C.: the death of Brutus
30 B.C.: Mark Antony was killed by Octavian (Caesar Augustus)
Lesson Twelve Reading
Now Cicero's great authority and power grew again to be so great in Rome, as ever it was before. For he did what he thought good, and [completely overpowered and drove out Antony, and sent the two consuls, Hirtius and Pansa, with an army, to reduce him]; and caused the Senate also to decree that young Caesar should have [the lictors and ensigns of a praetor, as though he were his country's defender]. [But after] Antonius had lost the battle, and both the consuls were slain, both the armies came unto Caesar. The Senate then being afraid of this young man that had so great good fortune, they practised by honours and gifts to call the armies from him, which he had about him, and so to diminish the greatness of his power: saying that their country now stood in no need of force, nor fear of defence, since her enemy Antonius was fled and gone.
Caesar, fearing this, sent men secretly unto Cicero, to pray him to procure that they two together might be chosen consuls, and that when they should be in office, he should do and appoint what he thought good, having the young man at his commandment, who desired no more but the honour only of the name. Caesar himself confessed afterwards, that being afraid he should have been utterly cast away, to have been left alone: he finely served his turn by Cicero's ambition, having persuaded him to require the consulship, through the help and assistance that he would give him.
[And now, more than at any other time, Cicero let himself be carried away and deceived, though an old man, by the persuasion of a boy. He joined him in soliciting votes, and procured the goodwill of the Senate, not without blame at the time on the part of his friends; and he, too, soon enough after, saw that he had ruined himself, and betrayed the liberty of his country.]
For this young man Octavius Caesar being grown to be very great by his means and procurement: when he saw that he had the consulship upon him, he forsook Cicero, and agreed with Antonius and Lepidus. Then joining his army with theirs, he divided the empire of Rome with them, as if it had been lands left in common between them: and besides that, there was a bill made of two hundred men and upwards, whom they had appointed to be slain. But the greatest difficulty and difference that fell out between them, was about the outlawing of Cicero. For Antonius would hearken to no peace between them, unless Cicero were slain first of all: Lepidus was also in the same mind with Antonius: but Caesar was against them both.
Their meeting was by the city of Bolonia, where they continued three days together, they three only secretly consulting in a place environed about with a little river. Some say that Caesar stuck hard with Cicero the two first days, but at the third, that he yielded and forsook him. The exchange they agreed upon between them, was this. Caesar forsook Cicero: Lepidus, his own brother Paulus: and Antonius, Lucius Caesar, his uncle by the mother's side. Such place took wrath in them, as they regarded no kindred nor blood, and to speak more properly, they shewed that no brute or savage beast is so cruel as man [when possessed with power answerable to his rage].
While these matters were a-brewing, Cicero was at a house of his in the country, by the city of Thusculum, having at home with him also his brother Quintus Cicero. News being brought them thither of these proscriptions or outlawries, appointing men to be slain: they determined to go to Astyra, a place by the seaside where Cicero had another house, there to take sea, and from thence to go into Macedon, unto Brutus. For there ran a rumor that Brutus was very strong, and had a great power. So, they caused themselves to be conveyed thither in two litters, both of them being so weak with sorrow and grief, that they could not otherwise have gone their ways. As they were on their way, both their litters going as near to each other as they could, they bewailed their miserable estate: but Quintus chiefly, who took it most grievously. For, remembering that he took no money with him when he came from his house, and that Cicero his brother also had very little for himself: he thought it best that Cicero should hold on his journey, whilst he himself made an errand home to fetch such things as he lacked, and so to make haste again to overtake his brother. They both thought it best so, and then tenderly embracing one another, the tears falling from their eyes, they took leave of each other.
Within [a] few days after, Quintus Cicero being betrayed by his own servants, unto them that made search for him: he was cruelly slain, and his son with him. But Marcus Tullius Cicero being carried unto Astyra, and there finding a ship ready, embarked immediately, and sailed alongst the coast unto Mount Circe, having a good gale of wind. There the mariners determining forthwith to make sail again, he came ashore, either for fear of the sea, or for that he had some hope that Caesar had not altogether forsaken him: and therewithal returning towards Rome by land, he had gone about a hundred furlong[s] thence. But then being at a strait how to resolve, and suddenly changing his mind he would needs be carried back again to the sea, where he continued all night marvellous sorrowful, and full of thoughts. For one while he was in mind to go secretly unto Octavius Caesar's house, and to kill himself by the hearth of his chimney, to make the furies of hell to revenge his blood: but being afraid to be intercepted by the way, and cruelly handled, he turned from that determination.
Then falling into other unadvised determinations, being perplexed as he was, he put himself again into his servants' hands, to be conveyed by sea to another place called Capites. There he had a very proper pleasant summer house, where the Etesian winds do give a trim fresh air in the summer season. In that place also there is a little temple dedicated unto Apollo, not far from the seaside. From thence there came a great shoal of crows, making a marvellous noise, that came flying towards Cicero's ship, which rowed upon the shoreside. This shoal of crows came and lighted upon the yard of their sail, some crying, and some pecking the cords with their bills: so that every man judged straight, that this was a sign of ill luck at hand.
Cicero notwithstanding this, came ashore, and went into his house, and laid him down to see if he could sleep. But the most part of these crows came and lighted upon the chamber window where he lay, making a wonderful great noise: and some of them got unto Cicero's bed where he lay, the clothes being cast over his head, and they never left him, till by little and little they had with their bills plucked off the clothes that covered his face. [His servants, seeing this, blamed themselves that they should stay to be spectators of their master's murder, and do nothing in his defence, whilst the brute creatures came to assist and take care of him in his undeserved affliction]; partly by entreaty, and partly by force, they put him again into his litter to carry him to the sea.
But in the meantime came the murderers appointed to kill him, Herennius, a centurion, and Popilius Laena, tribune of the soldiers (to wit, colonel of a thousand men, whose cause Cicero had once pleaded before the judges, when he was accused for the murder of his own father) having soldiers attending upon them. So Cicero's gate being shut, they entered the house by force, and missing him, they asked them of the house what was become of him. They answered, they could not tell. Howbeit there was a young boy in the house called Philologus, [who had been educated by Cicero in the liberal arts and sciences, an emancipated slave of his brother Quintus], he told this Herennius that his servants carried him in a litter towards the sea, through dark narrow lanes, shadowed with wood on either side.
[The tribune taking a few with him, ran to the place where he was to come out. And Cicero, perceiving Herennius running in the walks, commanded his servants to set down the litter]; and taking his beard in his left hand, as his manner was, he stoutly looked the murderers in the faces, his head and beard being all white, and his face lean and wrinkled, for the extreme sorrows he had taken: divers of them that were by, held their hands before their eyes, whilst Herennius did cruelly murder him. So Cicero being three score and four years of age, thrust his neck out of the litter, and had his head cut off by Antonius' commandment, and his hands also, which wrote the orations (called the Philippians) against him [Antonius]. For so did Cicero call the orations he wrote against him, for the malice he bare him: and [they] do yet continue the same name until this present time.
When these poor dismembered members were brought to Rome, Antonius by chance was busily occupied at that time about the election of certain officers: who when he heard of them and saw them, he cried out aloud that now all his outlawries and proscriptions were executed: and thereupon commanded his head and his hands should straight be set up over the pulpit for orations, in the place called Rostra. This was a fearful and horrible sight unto the Romans, who thought they saw not Cicero's face, but an image of Antonius' life and disposition.
[short and gruesome omission]
Howbeit I understood that Caesar Augustus, long time after that, went one day to see one of his nephews, who had a book in his hand of Cicero's: and he fearing least his uncle would be angry to find that book in his hands, thought to hide it under his gown. Caesar saw it, and took it from him, and read the most part of it standing, and then delivered it to the young boy, and said unto him: "He was a wise man indeed, my child, and loved his country well."
After he had slain Antonius, being consul: he made Cicero's son his colleague and fellow consul with him, in whose time the Senate ordained, that the images of Antonius should be thrown down, and deprived his memory of all other honours: adding further unto his decree, that from thenceforth none of the house and family of the Antony should ever after bear the name of Marcus. So God's justice made the extreme revenge and punishment of Antonius to fall into the house of Cicero. [Dryden: Thus the final acts of the punishment of Antony were, by the divine powers, devolved upon the family of Cicero.]
Narration and Discussion
In later years, Augustus Caesar said that Cicero "was a wise man and loved his country well." Do you agree? Why or why not?
Plutarch refers to "God's justice" or "the divine powers." Was there a divine punishment being carried out, and if so, to whom?
Creative narration: There are many possibilities for dramatic presentations in this lesson. If you have only two actors, you might choose the scene between Caesar Augustus and his nephew. News interviews are another dramatic possibility.
Possible Examination Questions
Younger students: Tell the story of Cicero's banishment, and his homecoming.
Older students: How did Cicero earn the title "Father of the Country?"
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