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© Ingo Gildenhard, CC BY 4.0

§ 44: A Glance at Teenage Antony: Insolvent, Transgendered, Pimped, and Groomed

Since OCR invites us to parachute right into the middle of Philippic 2, here is a quick orientation of where exactly in the text we are when we reach § 44: after his opening statement (§§ 1–2) and his rebuttal of Antony’s attack on him (§§ 3–41), Cicero spends the following two paragraphs inveighing against his adversary’s skills as a public speaker, with particular reference to Antony’s oratorical efforts in the period immediately after Caesar’s assassination. This transitional section (§§ 42–43) helps to set up the second main part of the speech, which begins here in § 44: it features a prolonged and systematic assault on Antony. This portion is of prodigious length (§§ 44–114) and will bring us right up to the concluding peroration (§§ 115–19). Still, Cicero alleges at the end of § 43 that in detailing Antony’s depravities he will proceed selectively, so as to have something in reserve for future jousts (nec enim omnia effundam, ut, si saepius decertandum sit, ut erit, semper novus veniam). Shortage of subject matter won’t be a problem: after all, Antony’s vices and misdeeds are legion (quam facultatem mihi multitudo istius vitiorum peccatorumque largitur).

One theme that offers continuity across §§ 40–44 is ‘inheritance and bankruptcy’. Cicero concludes his self-defence by debunking Antony’s slur that bequests do not come his way (§ 40: hereditates mihi negasti venire), before noting, at the beginning of § 42, that this line of attack is a bit rich coming from someone like Antony who refused to accept his father’s estate because it was loaded with debts (quamquam hoc maxime admiratus sum, mentionem te hereditatum ausum esse facere, cum ipse hereditatem patris non adisses). Antony senior died debt-ridden around 71 BCE, when Antony junior was eleven or twelve years old, and Cicero chooses this shameful loss of family fortune as the point of departure for his obloquy in § 44. It enables him to suggest that Antony comes from a disreputable branch of the gens Antonia and lacks filial pietas on top (since he chose to disown his father). And it dovetails nicely into his main line of attack in the opening paragraph, Antony’s shockingly disgraceful sex-life, including the willingness to earn money as a male prostitute before ending up as Curio’s toy-boy.

Moment in time: This and the following three paragraphs (45–47) detail, or allude to, events that allegedly (! Cicero freely mixes fact and fiction) took place in the late 70s and early to late 60s BCE.

Visne igitur te inspiciamus a puero?: Cicero began the previous paragraph with a direct address to his wider (imaginary) audience (43: at quanta merces rhetori data est! audite, audite, patres conscripti, et cognoscite rei publicae vulnera — ‘But what a fee was given to Antony’s teacher in rhetoric! Hear, hear, senators, and learn about the wounds inflicted on the commonwealth!’). By contrast, he opens § 44 with a rhetorical question addressed specifically to Antony, who is also imagined in attendance: vis is the 2nd person singular of volo, velle, attached to which is the enclitic interrogative particle -ne. Verbs of will and desire are followed either by an accusative-plus-infinitive (visne … nos te inspicere …?) or a subordinate clause introduced by ut or ne — though ‘when the idea of Wishing is emphatic, the simple Subjunctive, without ut, is employed’ (Gildersleeve and Lodge 347). This is the construction here. In the English translation, an infinitive might be a good way of linking vis and inspiciamus: ‘would you like us to examine you…?’

igitur: the conjunction here serves to introduce the promised topic: Antony’s depravity (see OLD s.v. 4): ‘So then’.

a puero: puer means ‘boy’, and the ablative phrase indicates a point of origin in time, i.e. ‘from boyhood’.

Extra information:

The precise reference of Roman age-terms is often difficult to determine. In his dialogue Cato Maior de Senectute 33, Cicero outlines the ‘race-course of life’ as involving the following four stages:

• the weakness of childhood (infirmitas puerorum): c. 3–16 (following infancy?)

• the fierceness of youth (ferocitas iuvenum): c. 17–30

• the seriousness of settled age (gravitas constantis aetatis): c. 30s and 40s

• the maturity of old age (senectutis maturitas): c. 50s–

For further details, see Parkin (2003) and Cokayne (2003).

sic opinor: sic here means ‘yes’ and opinor in response to a question ‘I think so’. Cicero answers his own rhetorical question with a colloquial affirmation that gives his discourse a snarky flavour: he clearly relishes the prospect of going through Antony’s imaginary CV.

a principio ordiamur: ordiamur is an exhortative subjunctive (‘Let us…’). The hiatus here, i.e. the collocation of vowels at the end of one word (principi-o) and the beginning of another (o-rdiamur), is unusual: in good prose style, ‘the juxtaposition of the same long vowels should be avoided’ (Kirchner 2007: 191). One is therefore left wondering whether Cicero here deliberately breaches stylistic conventions, perhaps to feign distaste at the material he is about to delve into. The phrase a principio reiterates and fortifies a puero in a mock-serious tone designed to suggest meticulous attention to detail, reminiscent of the Sound-of-Music principle ‘Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start’ or Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland: ‘“Begin at the beginning”, the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop”’. (And — nice irony — it must have been the cue for OCR to jump in here!)

tenesne memoria praetextatum te decoxisse?: another rhetorical question held in the 2nd person singular, again with the verb (tenes) upfront and the enclitic interrogative particle -ne tagged on. tenes  … memoria (= meministi) introduces an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and the intransitive decoxisse as verb. ‖ decoquo is a culinary term, meaning ‘to diminish the volume of a liquid by boiling (coquo) it down (de)’. Metaphorically, it was used to refer to squandering resources (the Latin equivalent to our ‘to burn through money’) as well as the outcome thereof: ‘to become insolvent’, which is its meaning here. The waste of Antony’s patrimony and its toxic consequences are key themes in the paragraph, reinforced through lexical repetition: see decoctoribus, decoxisse. ‖ praetextatum stands in predicative position to te: ‘when you (still) wore the toga praetexta’, i.e. ‘when you were a boy’. Cicero’s use of praetextatus as age-label (rather than puer, iuvenis, or adulescens) prepares the ground for the sartorial satire to follow.

‘patris’, inquies, ‘ista culpa est’: Cicero imagines Antony’s response to the charge of bankruptcy to be a ‘It’s all me dad’s fault’. inquies is 2nd person singular future indicative active. ‖ The sentence well illustrates the power of dramatic word order. Stripped of rhetorical amplification, the Latin might read: culpam esse patris dicet (‘He will say that it is the fault of his father’). Instead of any such bland and boring pronouncement, Cicero offers up a rhetorical gem. To start with, we get an instance of so-called sermocinatio or ‘dialogue’, as Cicero switches from direct address (visne…?) to impersonation:1 he acts out what he imagines to be Antony’s reply to the charge of insolvency. The use of direct (instead of indirect) speech adds drama to the occasion and also enables Cicero ‘to perform Antony’. It further conveys the impression that Antony is under cross-examination, and what he (according to Cicero) comes up with in a moment of stress is not pretty: in a shocking act of shameless disloyalty, he blames his father. The exposed position of the genitive patris, further emphasized by the inset inquies, enacts Antony’s willingness to leave his father hung out to dry, to deflect responsibility from himself.

patris: Rome’s political culture, with its emphasis on the emulation of forebears and commitment to the preservation of ancestral customs (mores maiorum), was much invested in the figure of the father and the notion of paternal discipline (patria potestas), in particular their role in transmitting standards of behaviour and adherence to social norms across the generations. Cicero here intimates that Antony, lacking a proper father figure, was set adrift early on with disastrous consequences. His biological father, the disreputable Marcus Antonius Creticus, was strikingly unsuccessful as a military commander, had a nasty reputation for large-scale provincial exploitation, and died in bankruptcy. And his stepfather, Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura, joined Catiline’s conspiracy and was among those executed by Cicero in 63 BCE. (In § 14, Cicero explicitly blames Antony for choosing Lentulus as role model rather than a morally more upright relative; cf. also § 17.)

ista culpa: there is a hidden agenda in Cicero’s use of the demonstrative pronoun ista. It implies a sense of relief, coupled with an admission of guilt, on Antony’s part: in this particular instance, he is able to shift the blame onto someone else, and does so gladly even if it amounts to a betrayal of his progenitor; yet the over-emphatic demonstrative suggests a guilty conscience — a nervous awareness that further charges are bound to stick. In a mere five words, Cicero thus sketches out a nuanced character profile of Antony: fretting, disloyal, guilty, stupid.

concedo: concedo means something like ‘granted’ and is designed to surprise: why does Cicero concede a point to the opponent? But as we read on, it becomes apparent that the quasi-conciliatory tone in fact prepares the way for a sucker punch:

etenim est pietatis plena defensio: etenim sets up the sarcastic quip that Cicero only lets him off the hook since Antony anyway impales himself: his imaginary line of defence (shifting blame onto his father) manifests a shocking lack of pietas. Cicero again uses extraordinary word order to highlight the key lexeme: just as patris, the genitive pietatis takes pride of place. The correlated fronting of both patris and pietatis (words further linked by alliteration) energizes Cicero’s sarcasm stylistically. (Contrast the ‘unmarked’ variant: etenim defensio est plena pietatis.) Antony here violates a fundamental Roman value: ‘the father / son relationship was bilateral in nature, including devotion and affection on the part of the sons and consideration and respect on the part of the fathers. The Latin word pietas, used to describe moral and social duty of both sons and fathers, encapsulated this dual set of emotional obligations’ (Cantarella 2003: 286).

etenim: the conjunction is used for ‘adding something in explanation or corroboration of what has been said or implied’ (OLD s.v.).

plena: for plenus + genitive see Gildersleeve & Lodge 239: ‘Of adjectives of Fulness, with the Genitive, only plenus, repletus, inops, and inanis are classical and common; … Plenus occurs very rarely with the Abl. in Cicero and Caesar, more often in Livy’.

illud [est] tamen audaciae tuae quod sedisti in quattuordecim ordinibus, cum esset lege Roscia decoctoribus certus locus constitutus, quamvis quis fortunae vitio, non suo decoxisset: the main verb of the sentence (est) is understood. audaciae tuae is a genitive of characteristic. The substantive quod-clause (in the indicative: Cicero claims to be reporting a fact) elaborates on — and stands in apposition to — illud. The subsequent cum- and quamvis-clauses explain why Cicero objects to Antony having taken a seat in the theater in the front fourteen rows. At Rome, ‘seating arrangements at the games were a reflection and reaffirmation of the social hierarchy’ (Edwards 1993: 111), and in 67 BCE the tribune of the people Lucius Roscius Otho passed the lex Roscia theatralis, which reserved the first fourteen rows (the quattuordecim ordines) behind the orchestra in the Roman theatre for the ‘knights’ (equites) — a social rank based in part on the assessment of wealth, i.e. property and possessions worth at least 400,000 sesterces. (We play the same games of privilege, eg John Lennon at the Royal Variety Performance, ‘For our last number I’d like to ask your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewelry’.) Roscius’ law stipulated that those whose fortune dipped below this level lose the privilege of special seating — even if (as Cicero goes on to stress in the quamvis-clause) the insolvency was not their fault, but a stroke of bad luck. See further Rawson (1987: 102).

audaciae tuae: audacia (‘recklessness’), which might be a useful quality in battle, ‘is exclusively negative in Cicero’s works’ (McDonnell 2006: 59). audax and audacia are common slurs in Cicero’s political invective, referring generally ‘to those who oppose the boni with disregard for the law’ (Grillo 2015: 124), with reference to Wirszubski (1961) and Weische (1966: 28–33), and Cicero, de Inventione 1.5); yet ‘the intensive application within [the second speech against Catiline] associates them specifically with the conspirators’ (Hutchinson 2005: 185). In Philippic 2, Cicero comes back to the thematic link between Catiline and audacia right away, calling Antony ‘more reckless than Catiline’ (audacior quam Catilina) in the programmatic opening paragraph. audacia remains a hallmark of Antony throughout the speech: see §§ 4 (o incredibilem audaciam), 9 (audaciae tuae), 19 (Antony takes pride in his audacia, though certain of his seemingly reckless acts should rather be ascribed to his stupidity), 43 (homo audacissime), 64 (Antony’s audacia tops that of everyone else), 68 (o audaciam immanem), 78 (nequam hominem audacemque), 90 (audacia). Here we might capture a sly dig at Antony’s stepfather (see above on patris), who passed on his wicked disposition to his impressionable charge. Words ‘of the audeo, audax, audacia family’ also occur frequently in Roman comedy to refer to improper or outrageous behaviour: see Sussman (1998: 117, n. 8). The two frames of reference — political invective and comedy — are clearly not mutually exclusive.

decoctoribus certus locus constitutus: this is the first of three instances of the attribute certus, -a, -um in the paragraph, all mockingly alliterated. (In addition to decoctoribus certus locus constitutus, see certa … merces and cito Curio … in matrimonio … certo collocavit below.) The collocation certus locus would seem to imply that Roscius’ law, on top of depriving the insolvent of the privilege to sit with their rank, allocated them to a special area (of shame?), though our sources are silent on what that area might have been.

quamvis quis fortunae vitio, non suo [vitio] decoxisset: the law did not differentiate between those who became insolvent owing to circumstances beyond their control such as parental mismanagement (= fortunae vitio, where fortuna means something akin to ‘bad luck’) and those who were personally responsible for their family’s loss of wealth.

sumpsisti virilem, quam statim muliebrem togam reddidisti: after dealing with one instance of teenage delinquency, Cicero moves on to the moment when Antony came of age, which in Rome was marked by the ritual change of the toga praetexta (the boyhood toga) for the toga virilis (the manhood toga). Cicero’s syntax suggests that Antony instantly perverted the garment — turning it into something suitable for a person the exact opposite of a man with citizenship status, i.e. a woman (mulier) for sale (as the next sentence shows): the noun that virilem modifies, i.e. togam, which also serves as antecedent to the relative pronoun quam, has been sucked into the relative clause to keep close company with muliebrem: ‘you assumed the toga of manhood, which you instantly turned into the outfit worn by female prostitutes’. This is humiliation not by cross-dressing but by trans-gendering: ‘Accusations of men wearing women’s clothing are a well-attested form of invective and there are repeated examples of this within Cicero’s speeches. In this passage, however, it is not that Antony has made himself effeminate by wearing women’s clothes, he has instead worn the toga muliebris and so has become a scortum, a prostitute’ (Dixon 2014: 302). (In fact, Cicero puts it the other way around, claiming that Antony as soon as he came of age, prostituted himself and thereby transformed his brand-new toga virilis, which ought to have been a badge of pride, into a toga muliebris, a mark of shame.) ‘Woman’ is a common aspersion in the hyper-masculine, testosterone-fuelled world of Roman politics, which often coincides with charges of sexual licentiousness: in one of his speeches against Verres (2.2.192), for instance, Cicero suggests that it is impossible to find a man lazier and more cowardly, more a man among women and a contemptible woman among men than his adversary (homo inertior, ignavior, magis vir inter mulieres, impura inter viros muliercula proferri non potest); and in the speech on his house (de Domo sua 139), his archenemy Clodius is said to have violated religious sensibilities by being a woman among men and a man among women (contra fas et inter viros saepe mulier et inter mulieres vir). Interestingly enough, Curio Pater is supposed to have quipped about Caesar that he was ‘every woman’s man and every man’s woman’ (Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 52.3: omnium mulierum virum et omnium virorum mulierem).

primo [eras] vulgare scortum: the original meaning of scortum is ‘leather’ or ‘hide’, but it is also a word for both male and female prostitute from Plautus onwards, presumably on account of a fantasised connection between the working of leather and sexual intercourse: see Adams (1983), who also notes that scortum was a more pejorative term than meretrix.2 So scortum vulgare = ‘a whore — and a common one to boot’. (In fact, the underlying idea might be that the scortum is like an ‘old boot’, supposedly worn ‘hard’ — and worn out — by too much sex.) The practice of prostitution carried a heavy social stigma in republican Rome and included ‘the exclusion of prostitutes and pimps from the senatorial order, the equestrian order, the roll of judges (album iudicum), the decurionate, and the army’ — as well as a host of other civic disabilities (McGinn 1998: 26). The accusation of prostitution is a standard topos of political invective: ‘Not surprisingly, prostitutes provided fuel for the fires of Roman invective, both in the courtroom and out, and an accusation of prostitution was a handy weapon to use against both male and female opponents’ (Williams 2010: 36). Cicero liked the slur. In the pro Caelio, he turns Clodia into a quasi-prostitute. In the speech on his house (Dom. 49), he calls her brother Clodius a scortum populare (‘everybody’s favourite slut’) and in the speech for Sestius (Sest. 39) a scurrarum locupletium scortum (‘a whore for rich idlers’). See also in Catilinam 2.6, where Cicero implies homoerotic bonds between Catiline and his fellow-revolutionaries. Many prostitutes, male or female, were slaves — a connection Cicero does not fail to make: see the subsequent paragraph.

primo: an adverb (‘initially’).

certa [erat] flagitii merces nec ea [merces erat] parva: having joined the oldest profession in the world in the attempt to restore the family’s fortune, Antony (so Cicero suggests) made himself sexually available at a fixed rate (certa … merces), which amounted to a considerable sum (nec ea parva). The lexeme merces hints at the etymologically related term meretrix (‘woman who earns, paid woman’, from mereo ‘to receive one’s wage’, ‘earn’, or, more specifically, ‘to earn money by prostitution’); cf. also a meretricio quaestu in the following sentence.

flagitii: flagitium means ‘disgrace’, ‘infamy’ and can also refer to outrageous behaviour, esp. (as here) to a disgraceful act of sexual misconduct (OLD s.v. 4c). Cicero associates Antony with flagitium at various points throughout the oration: see §§ 24, 45, 47, 57, 58, 76 (+ 15 and 35 for the adjective flagitiosus).

sed cito Curio intervenit, qui te a meretricio quaestu abduxit et, tamquam stolam dedisset, in matrimonio stabili et certo collocavit: The blow-by-blow (cf. statim, primo, cito) of Cicero’s ‘travesty’ reaches its coup de grâce: Curio comes to the rescue (intervenit is highly ironic), collecting (or ‘abducting’) Antony from plying his trade in Rome’s red-light district and making an honest wo/man out of him: the stola was the garb worn by legally married Roman matrons. The elements of this scenario are easy to parallel in New Comedy: ‘Like the young lover in numerous Roman comedies, Curio rescues his beloved from the threat of a life of prostitution to make her his wife’ (Edwards 1993: 64).

Curio: C. Scribonius Curio (c. 84–49 BCE) is a curious character and constant companion throughout the first half of the speech (see §§ 3, 4, 11, 45–46, 48, 50–51, 58). Born just a couple of years before Antony, he became quaestor in 54, tribune of the people in 50, and praetor in 49, before dying in the same year fighting on Caesar’s side against King Juba I (a supporter of Pompey) in North Africa. Like his father he was well-connected and a reasonably talented orator, being in cahoots with, or entertaining friendly relations with, such varied characters as Antony, Clodius (whom he supported in the context of the Bona Dea scandal), and Caesar (quite belatedly, after years of opposition, persuaded, it seems, by a handsome financial reward). In a letter to Atticus from 13 February 61, in which he details resistance against the senatorial effort to pass a bill against Clodius on account of his religious transgression at the Bona Dea festival, Cicero refers to ‘the whole Catilinarian gang with little Miss Curio at their head’ (Att. 1.14.5 = 14 SB: totus ille grex Catilinae duce filiola Curionis). Despite the fact that Cicero did not always see eye to eye with Curio filius or Curio pater (for whom see § 45 below), he entertained friendly relations with the family, the occasional bust-up notwithstanding (Cicero’s letters ad Familiares 2.1–7 are addressed to Curio Junior).

Cicero drops hints about the relationship between Antony and Curio from the end of the exordium onwards. In response to Antony’s accusation that Cicero turned his back on him after an initial phase of support, Cicero rejects the idea that young Antony was ever under his influence: however salutary that may have been, Curio would not have tolerated any such interference (Phil. 2.3):

at enim te in disciplinam meam tradideras — nam ita dixisti — domum meam ventitaras. ne tu, si id fecisses, melius famae, melius pudicitiae tuae consuluisses. sed neque fecisti nec, si cuperes, tibi id per C. Curionem facere licuisset.

[You had given yourself over to my instruction (as you put it), had frequented my house. If indeed you had done so, you would have taken better care of your reputation and your virtue. But you neither did so nor, had you wished, would Gaius Curio have let you.]

As Shackleton Bailey (1982: 219) points out, we are here dealing with ‘a hit at Antony’s subservience to a possessive lover’. This opening gesture to their smutty affair (as filthy as fabricated) finds full elaboration in §§ 44–46.

qui te a meretricio quaestu abduxit: meretricius quaestus is synonymous with flagitii merces in the previous sentence. abducere can imply seduction: Cicero relishes the paradox that Curio ‘seduces’ Antony the ‘seductress’ away from his métier of seduction.

tamquam stolam dedisset: tamquam introduces a comparative clause, in which Cicero is speaking figuratively and counterfactually (hence the subjunctive): ‘as though he had given you a stola’, i.e. ‘as if he had turned you into an honourable woman’.

in matrimonio stabili et certo collocavit: at the moment Antony is supposed to become a vir, he loses the plot of growing up. His period as a free-lance prostitute segues into a ‘stable’ love affair with one particular suitor that resembles a proper marriage, thus completing the process of transforming Antony from fledgling man to full-blown woman.

By construing collocare with in + ablative, Cicero tweaks the standard idiom in matrimonium collocare = ‘to give in marriage’ (OLD s.v. 9). Here the meaning of collocare is rather ‘to put / place (into a situation or condition)’: OLD s.v. 7. Part of the fun here is that he describes the relationship with full irony as a proper marriage rather than using another term that would have flagged up the perverse nature of the liaison, such as matrimonium iniustum, a union in which the partners wanted to be married but lacked conubium, i.e. ‘the capacity to marry legally’, or concubinatus, partners living together but with one or both lacking the desire to be married (see Treggiari 1991: 49–52 or Hersch 2010: 19–22). The repetition of certus reinforces the irony: Antony has moved from selling his sexual favours for a fixed price tag to a firm and stable marriage (though, as the next paragraph shows, his mercenary motives remained very much alive).

* * *

Digging Deeper: Fashion and Fornication in Late-Republican Rome

In his opening salvo, Cicero traces Antony’s transition from childhood to wo/manhood via a series of references to Roman dress, which he correlates with hints at various sexual depravities. To appreciate the invective punch in the story he tells about this formative period of Antony’s life, we thus need to take a closer look at ‘fashion’ and ‘fornication’ in late-republican Rome.


The first item on display in Cicero’s fashion show is unisex child-wear (… praetextatum te …, a reference to the toga praetexta, worn by citizen children of both sexes), before gender-specific teenage attire gets showcased: the garment of manhood, the toga virilis, makes an all-too-brief appearance, with Antony, seemingly still half in déshabillé, dropping it again to dress himself up in truly grown-up finery, the toga muliebris or prostitute’s outfit. After this excursion into the haute couture of the demi-monde, the show concludes with a return to respectability (of sorts): in his final appearance on Cicero’s catwalk Antony sports fashion suited for a properly married woman, the stola.

As we do today, the Romans used attire to assert and promote values and distinctions — not least of age, gender, social rank, and civic status. As Edmondson (2008: 22) explains:

Roman citizens, therefore, both male and female, were marked by their entitlement to wear what was construed as distinctively Roman civic dress, or, to use Suetonius’ term, habitus patrius et civilis (Calig. 52.1; cf. Tib. 13.1). By wearing the toga or stola on civic occasions, they demonstrated their membership in a defined and bounded community, the gens Romana; they laid claim to a shared Roman identity and the cultural traditions with which each of these garments was invested. Roman public dress helped to delineate precisely what it meant to be Roman.

This is especially true since the use of the toga was restricted to Roman citizens: ‘the right to wear the toga was withheld by law from non-citizens, foreigners as well as slaves, rendering it an exclusive badge of citizenship and the sartorial manifestation of Roman identity’ (George 2008: 95). In Virgil’s Aeneid, Jupiter famously calls the Romans ‘masters of the world and the people who wear the toga’ (1.286: Romanos, rerum dominos gentemque togatam). The outfit thus included and excluded. And despite Augustus’ edict that all citizens are to wear the toga when visiting the Forum (Suetonius, Life of Augustus 40.5), we ought not to imagine that the garment erased (rather than reinforced) social distinctions also within Rome’s civic community:

Togas, like the Romans who wore them, were not created equal; citizenship at Rome did not entail membership in an undifferentiated collective, but in a highly stratified social system in which elements on visible display such as dress assumed enormous significance. As a powerful cultural symbol, the toga was a means to an end whose significance varied according to status. The wealthy embraced its positive connotations of civic engagement, or moral righteousness, and, more fundamentally, of Roman identity as part of their social entitlement. Other status groups, clients and others, who profited less easily from it, could regard the toga more realistically, without the roseate glow of social privilege (George 2008: 107).

In order to see how Antony manages to pervert the signifying codes of Roman dress in Cicero’s sartorial satire, we need to have a look at the ideologies woven into the fabric of all the garments that Cicero parades before us. For each was designed to broadcast a specific meaning and message about its wearer.3

(i) The toga praetexta

Cicero’s first gesture to dress comes in the form of the age-label praetextatum (‘while you wore the toga praetexta’, i.e. ‘while you were still a boy’). The prepubescent dress was unisex, or, to put this differently, boys too wore purple:

Roman boys and girls were distinguished from adult Roman citizens by their wearing of a purple-bordered toga (the toga praetexta). Such togae praetextae marked children out early as members of the Roman civic body and helped to socialize them into the traditions of their community, but interestingly did not differentiate them by gender. Before puberty their incipient Romanness, their membership in the gens togata, was much more crucial than whether they were male or female (Edmondson 2008: 26).

Children were not the only ones who wore the toga praetexta; it was also the garment of those with special responsibilities for the (religious) well-being of the commonwealth (generals, magistrates, some priests and priestesses) and other social groups when involved in the performance of certain sacrifices. The garment therefore possessed a ‘sacral aura’ — which extended to its use by children, protecting them from any kind of (polluting) sexual overture: ‘the toga praetexta functioned as an insignia of free-birth and free condition (insignia ingenuitatis et libertatis) to advise adults to avoid any expression of sexuality of any kind toward or around the child’ (Sebesta 2005: 115), who goes on to explain the sacred protection that the garment was meant to extend to its wearer (116):

That the praetexta indicated a special social category is shown by its etymological meaning ‘woven first / woven before’. This etymology derives from the weaving technique required by the warp-weighted loom originally used by the Romans. … As the verb praetexere is used in the sense of protecting and defending …, so the praetexta denoted the weaving of a religious garment, as well as protecting the act of its weaving from religious pollution by warning by-standers to refrain from sacrilegious words, gestures, or activity.

(ii) The toga virilis

Around the age of sixteen or seventeen, i.e. after reaching sexual maturity, a Roman male would undergo a ritual exchange of clothing that signified his entry into adulthood:

The ritual exchange of the bulla [sc. the protective amulet of the freeborn boy] and toga praetexta for the toga virilis was a defining moment in the life of a freeborn Roman boy as it marked the end of his boyhood and the beginning of his adult years. In setting aside the bulla and praetexta, the boy divested himself of the symbols of his boyhood, which represented a degree of venerability and vulnerability as well. Donning the toga virilis, he assumed a new identity, his white toga communicating his achievement of adulthood with its attendant freedoms (Dolanksy 2008: 58).

As its attribute suggests, the toga vir-ilis marked its wearer as a vir, a lexeme that has a range of meanings. Most basically, it refers to an ‘adult male’, but it can also mean ‘husband’ or ‘soldier’: ‘The term also designates a position of authority and responsibility: the adult is enfranchised, while the child (or slave) is not; the man rules his wife in the household; the soldier is the defender of the safety of the state. In short, the term evokes more than mere gender’ (Gunderson 2000: 7). Gunderson goes on to cite Maria Wyke (1994: 136): ‘In the practices of the Roman world, the surface of the male body is thus fully implicated in definitions of power and civic responsibility’.

Nothing is further removed from the image of the vir as an independent agent performing roles of responsibility within the household (as paterfamilias) and the commonwealth (as patron, magistrate, general, or senator) than the pathic passivity of a professional prostitute, which Cicero claims Antony became when reaching adulthood. Arguably, Cicero’s invective here taps into deep-seated Roman anxieties that ‘growing up’ can go awry as he homes in on a key moment in the journey of an upper-class Roman youth from boyhood to adulthood: upon assuming the toga virilis, he would have started a period of ‘apprenticeship’ in civic life under the guidance of an older male, often a close friend of the family, the so-called tirocinium fori. But the charge was potentially vulnerable (or perceived to be vulnerable) to sexual power-play that would compromise his status and reputation as a vir, though it is important to emphasize that the Romans did not evolve practices of homoerotic bonding à la Grecque (see further below on fornication). As Stroup (2010: 143) explains:

Cicero’s acerbic reference to the toga muliebris — the ‘woman’s toga’ prescribed for registered prostitutes [NB: that is uncertain: see below] — hints at the pathic connotations that might have accompanied any ritual training of the young by the old …. The goal of this passage, and indeed the whole of the Philippics, is to destroy Antony’s character by any means necessary. But this is no empty vituperation: the harsh innuendo of the tirocinium joke would fall flat did it not capitalize on an already deeply embedded social understanding of the act as one that, if bungled, could effectively ‘unmake’ the men it sought to produce.

In the pro Caelio, Cicero struggles mightily with the problem that the defendant, a former protegé of his, had (so far) not really turned out the way he was supposed to given Cicero’s educational influence.

(iii) The toga muliebris

Cicero pretends that Antony, right after doffing the toga praetexta for the toga virilis, turned it into a toga muliebris, which here clearly refers to a garment associated with prostitutes. Given that Philippic 2.44 is our ‘earliest clear and explicit testimony that the prostitute’s hallmark was a toga’ (McGinn 1998: 159) it is not easy to reconstruct the cultural norms and practices that enabled this invective punch — since it is difficult to judge how much can be built on the Ciceronian evidence. As McGinn goes on to say, ‘the point of the remark concerning the muliebris toga assumes the exclusive identification of the wearing of the “female” toga with prostitutes’ (159). A note of caution is in order here: ‘Given Cicero’s masterful use of Roman Comedy in his rhetoric, his reference to the prostitute’s toga does not rule out comic usage as the source of the practice but proves nothing by itself’ (159–60). Further (if later) evidence that associates prostitutes with the wearing of the toga includes Horace, Satires 1.2.61–63 and 80–82 (see the discussion in Gowers (2012: 104–05); cf. Dixon (2014: 302–04) for a slightly more skeptical view of the evidence), Tibullus 3.16.3–4, and Martial 2.39 (with Vout 1996: 215). But it remains unclear, especially for Cicero’s times, to what extent the donning of a (darkened?) toga by prostitutes — as Dixon (2014: 302–04) notes, a rather impractical garment in which to ply their trade — was a social norm (or even legally enforced) or rather proverbial (akin to the idiom ‘to wear the trousers’).

(iv) The stola

If Roman boys when coming of age exchanged the toga praetexta for the toga virilis and entered public life, Roman girls had no such career prospects. For them, the defining watershed in their transition from childhood to adulthood was getting married (often in their early teens) — a change of status that also coincided with a change in clothes, the donning of the so-called stola: ‘The stola indicated that the wearer was married in a iustum matrimonium (a legal marriage between two citizens) and was therefore a mark of honor, a way to distinguish sexual and social rank in broad fashion’ (Olson 2008: 27). As Edmondson (2008: 24) explains, ‘the dress of the matron was designed to shield its wearer both physically and morally from the prying gaze of disreputable males who might impugn her chastity’. The dress carried associations of chastity — Antony has stopped whoring around town, now that he has become Curio’s lawfully wedded wife.


Historically speaking, Greek and Roman attitudes to sexual matters have often been a significant source of embarrassment for classical educators and scholars alike, to the point that they often gingerly sidestepped or even censored the evidence. Over the past few decades, however, the rich visual and verbal legacy of ancient erotics has become a vibrant field of study, sweeping away the inhibitions of earlier centuries. First impulses for serious scholarly study of the historical nature of sexual experience came from feminist thought and practice in the 1960s and 1970s. Then, in 1976, the French savant Michel Foucault published the first instalment of his multi-volume History of Sexuality (The Will to Knowledge / La volonté de savoir) with a focus on the institutional and discursive construction of sexual experience in the early modern period. Foucault argued that sexuality is not a given, something one is born with; rather sexualities get formed within specific cultural contexts. Sexual preferences (and prejudices) thus emerge at least in part as the product of socio-historical and cultural circumstances. This means, among other things, that seemingly identical acts may have radically different meanings from one culture to the next — as well as within any one culture. An early case study of this phenomenon was Greek Homosexuality (first published in 1978) by the British Hellenist Kenneth Dover. He showed that the Greeks cultivated certain forms of (male) same-sex desire that defy our categorical distinction between ‘homosexuality’ and ‘heterosexuality’. The volumes by Foucault and Dover became landmark publications, not least since other scholars soon intertwined the works and thereby amplified their arguments. Dover’s work was also one of the inspirations behind Michel Foucault’s second and third volumes of his History of Sexuality, which appeared in 1984 and looked at Greek texts from the fifth-century BCE and the early imperial period (2/3rd century CE). Foucault is particularly keen on highlighting discontinuities between ancient and modern ways of construing the sphere of the erotic (including such categories as sex and gender, sexual preferences, sexual practices, and associated discourses of morality and desire etc.).4

For some time, ancient Rome played second fiddle as scholars focused on the Greek experience; but from the 1990s onwards a series of studies by Amy Richlin and Craig Williams (among others) began to redress the balance.5 As Martha Nussbaum (2010: xiii) puts it:

First published in 1999, Craig Williams’ Roman Homosexuality does for the Romans what Dover did for the Greeks. … Williams argues convincingly that for Romans over quite a long period spanning the republic and the early empire, same-sex desire was regarded as perfectly ordinary and unproblematic — for males. … A freeborn Roman male would be expected in the normal course of things to desire other males and to act on this desire — in contexts carefully restricted by the status of the parties. Sex (on the part of males) with male (and female) slaves or prostitutes was seen as unproblematic, even for married men — though wives at times complained. Sex with freeborn males, by contrast, was strongly discouraged. Thus same-sex acts typically involved asymmetrical power relations.

The same principle of historical specificity applies — which means that the Roman approaches to erotic experience differed in important ways from those found in ancient Greece (and our own). Thus no culture of pederasty developed in Rome that revolved around the relationship between a young freeborn male and an older male companion; but like the Greeks, the Romans tended to associate masculinity quite forcefully with performing penetration (which entailed the inverse corollary, i.e. the shameful loss of masculinity if one suffered penetration).6

When Cicero impugns Antony as Curio’s toy boy (or lawfully married wife), he thus draws on his culture’s normative preconceptions about gender (masculinity) and sexual experience, casting his opponent as the lowest of the low: a man who revels in the role of passive partner in homoerotic encounters (the Greek term for this is cinaedus), which suggests that he has lost any claim to being a man: ‘The ultimate degradation of the passive partner lies in equating not only his behavior but also his sex to that of a woman; later in the same speech, Curio is described as Antonius’ husband (vir; Phil. 2.50)’.7 Cicero’s focus on what Antony does with his body has a political discontent. Throughout the speech, he pushes an analogy between the physical body and the social body: a depraved individual, who indulges in a repulsive lifestyle and detestable practices will infect the body politic, the civic community conceived as a corporeal entity:

This charge, which would read as libellous in our own culture, offers Cicero a way to insult and explain simultaneously. His portrayal of Antony as decadent and soft is tied inextricably to what Cicero sees as his moral and political failings. Mollitia is not an excuse, but an analysis: surely a man this degenerate and wrong-headed must desire to engage in the worst of sexual depravities. His status as cinaedus is deftly tied to lack of piety and financial profligacy (Manwell 2010: 115).8

Cicero was not the only one who pandered to such prejudices: Antony and his brother Lucius accused Octavian of the same thing (prostituting himself to Julius Caesar and Aulus Hirtius).9

§ 45: Desire and Domesticity: Antony’s Escapades as Curio’s Toy-Boy

At the end of the previous paragraph, we left Antony seemingly safely ‘married’ to a contemporary of his, young Curio, who is said to have transformed the scoundrel from a disreputable prostitute into a honourable wife. But this touching scene of domestic bliss is not destined to last as Cicero moves on to explore the corrosive impact of the ‘marriage’ on the Curio-family. Two interrelated semantic fields dominate the paragraph: sexual passion (libidinis causa, hortante libidine, flagitia, amore ardens, desiderium); and ‘the Roman household’. The latter includes references to architectural features (limen, per tegulas), ways and means of exit (eiecit) and entry (intrares, demitterere), and furniture (in lecto). More importantly, Cicero relies on the household as an ideological institution: it is the place of residence of the Roman familia, with the paterfamilias as dominus exercising his patria potestas, i.e. the (legal) power he held over the other members of his household, such as wife, children (cf. filius), or slaves (cf. puer). The patresfamilias are in many ways the domestic analogues to the senators (called patres conscripti) in the civic sphere; and breakdown of domestic discipline and dissolute morals at home were thought to impact on the fitness to perform public duties in the service of the commonwealth.

Cicero already lamented Antony’s pollution of hallowed property through sexual mischief in the opening portion of the speech, when he portrayed him as ‘wallowing in every kind of vice in a virtuous house [that of Pompey the Great, which Antony acquired when it was put up for sale after Pompey’s defeat and death in 48 BCE], exhausted by drink and debauchery’ (Phil. 2.6: … cum omnis impuritates pudica in domo cotidie susciperes vino lustrisque confectus). In § 45, we get the youthful prelude to this more recent outrage. The scenario Cicero conjures up features plot elements of romantic New Comedy, suitably blackened, with the youthful libertine (Curio Junior) and his lover (Antony) running foul of Curio Senior, who, playing the strict father familiar from the comic stage, repeatedly chucks his son’s homeboy out of the house — to no avail. Antony keeps climbing straight back in over the roof, fired up by lust and lucre, and finally causes the paterfamilias to undergo a psychological breakdown that reduces him to a whimpering wretch unwilling to get out of bed.

And who is called upon to clean up the mess? Cicero himself. When the time came for Curio Junior to fess up that he also stood surety for Antony for the sweet sum of six million sesterces that he in turn needed to secure from his father, he turned to Cicero for support, confessing his undying love for Antony in the process. As Campanile (2017: 58) puts it:

Soon we find ourselves right in the middle of a comedy: there is the golden-hearted prostitute who falls in love, a free-born maiden of noble and important origins forced by poverty into this trade (Mark Antony), along with the young tearaway who wants to marry her (Curio); then there is the durus pater (Curio Senior), who fails to comprehend how all this could have befallen his son and reacts violently, putting the ‘maiden’ out of the door (still Mark Antony), and then barring it with guards. … The only thing missing here is a mitis senex who might act as a go-between. And sure enough he soon appears: Cicero, the old family friend who arrives on the scene and tries to make everyone see sense in order to restore peace to the family.

With Antony, then, (Greek) literature has come to (Roman) life — though despite Cicero’s protestation that he has first-hand knowledge of the wayward affair, we should not take the sordid picture he paints of the Curio household at face value.

Likewise, the presence of ‘comic scripts’ ought not to be misconstrued to mean that we are just dealing with light-hearted fun. While the plot might derive from the genre of comedy, acting it out for real is highly scandalous (however entertaining). Antony compromises the integrity of the household as an architectural unit, threatens the relationship that forms the backbone of a Roman aristocratic family, i.e. that between father and son, and perverts the values that define Roman domestic life and discipline. Already in his youth, he emerges as an agent of destruction of anything sound and moral in Roman society. His infiltration of the Curio household results in its disintegration. He is a repugnant and toxic individual, morally unfit to be involved in affairs of state. The paragraph is both uproariously funny and deeply disturbing.

Nemo umquam puer emptus libidinis causa tam fuit in domini potestate quam tu [fuisti] in [potestate] Curionis: puer here has the technical sense of ‘slave-boy’, as Cicero compares Antony’s ‘marriage’ to Curio to that of a boy bought for the single purpose of sexual gratification. tam and quam correlate the comparison; Cicero can afford to be elliptical in the quam-clause since the missing verb (fuisti) and noun (potestate) are easily supplied from what precedes. ‖ Slaves, considered property under Roman law, were almost entirely at the mercy of their masters, subject to physical punishment, sexual exploitation, torture, and execution. ‘Neither society nor the law recognized slaves as legal persons: they belonged to their master, who could use them for his own sexual needs or hire them out for the pleasure of others’ (Fantham 2011: 118) or, as Cantarella (1992: 99) puts it, ‘the Roman paterfamilias was an absolute master, … he exercised a power outside any control of society and the state. In this situation why on earth should he refrain from sodomising his houseboys?’ Within his invective agenda, the invitation to compare the relationship between Antony and Curio to the situation of a sex-slave does three things: it emasculates Antony (transforming him from a vir back into a puer); it relocates him from the highest to the lowest stratum of Roman society, turning a civis into a servus; and it reinforces the idea that he was the passive partner in the relationship. In the course of the paragraph, Cicero ups the ante: Antony and Curio are both animated by passion (libido) for each other; and Antony is as much enslaved to Curio financially and physically, as Curio is to Antony emotionally.

nemo  … puer: nemo is here used as an adjective modifying puer (‘no slave-boy’).

libidinis causa: the post-positive preposition causâ governs the genitive. The phrase is to be construed with the participle emptus: normal word order would be puer libidinis causa emptus. libido is inherently negative: it designates (excessive) lust and conveys the impression that whoever experiences it is in thrall to his sexual desires — rather than keeping such urges under control with his rational self.

in domini potestate: the reference here is to patria potestas of the paterfamilias or dominus. The legal power a Roman father had over his household was virtually absolute, including the so-called ius vitae necisque (‘the power over life and death’). We need not — indeed should not — imagine that all Roman fathers were brutal authoritarians, ready to punish their offspring harshly at the slightest transgression. Real life is always more complex than ideological constructs, institutional norms, and legal arrangements. Nevertheless, the scope for drastic action existed and gave Cicero a frame of reference. Paternal discipline and filial obedience are at the heart of the Roman domus or familia, which was thought to form the backbone of the Roman commonwealth (the res publica).

quotiens te pater eius domu sua eiecit, quotiens custodes posuit ne limen intrares! cum tu tamen nocte socia, hortante libidine, cogente mercede, per tegulas demitterere: Cicero begins with two main clauses in asyndeton marked by anaphora (quotiens  … eiecit, quotiens  … posuit), followed by a negative purpose clause (ne … intrares) and a temporal cum-clause (cum … demitterere), which does not introduce a new topic but fleshes out the circumstances of the action given in the main clause, here with an adversative sense (cf. tamen), hence the subjunctive (Kühner-Stegmann II, 342; and cf. Phil. 13.19: ingressus est urbem quo comitatu vel potius agmine! cum dextra sinistra gemente populo R. minaretur dominis, notaret domos, divisurum se urbem palam suis polliceretur ‘He entered the city, and with what a following, or rather line of battle! when, amid the groans on right and left of the Roman people, he threatened householders, marked their houses, and openly promised to portion out the city among his supporters’).

pater eius: Curio Senior (or Curio pater) was born around 125 BCE, held the consulship in 76 (when Cicero was a candidate for the quaestorship), and celebrated a triumph probably four years later, in the wake of his proconsulship in Macedonia (75–72 BCE). Cicero praises him in his pro lege Manilia (delivered in 66) as one of four consulares supportive of the bill that would give Pompey the command against Mithridates (Man. 68). A passage in Cicero’s dialogue Brutus (280) seems to suggest that Curio handed over responsibility for the training of his son in oratory to Cicero (McDermott 1972: 402) in the late 60s — just when relations hit a rough spot since Curio led the defence of Clodius who stood accused of disrupting the festival of the Bona Dea disguised in women’s clothes. Cicero attacked the defendant together with his advocate in the senate in 61, in an invective speech entitled in Clodium et Curionem, and a written version of it leaked out inopportunely in 58, much to Cicero’s consternation: he was in exile at the time and could ill afford to alienate a possible ally in his pitch for a recall (see Crawford 1984: 9–10). Despite the contretemps, Curio came to support Cicero’s return to Rome and also proved himself a staunch opponent of Caesar before dying in 53 — though his death at least ensured that he did not have to witness his son joining Caesar in the run-up to the civil war (though might also have enabled it). For the most part, he comes across as a principled disciplinarian in our sources — very much in contrast to his extravagant and spendthrift offspring. But irrespective of his actual character, the role he plays here is that of a stock figure from New Comedy — the stern father vainly trying to impose discipline upon a wayward son.

domu sua eiecit: domu sua is an ablative of separation with eiecit. (Remember that domus is a fourth declension noun of feminine gender; the ablative singular is either domo or (as here) the archaic domu.)

nocte socia, hortante libidine, cogente mercede: Cicero uses three ablative phrases to specify how and why Antony managed to circumvent the measures of Curio Senior to keep him out of his house: he used the cover of darkness (nocte socia), egged on as he was by lust (hortante libidine) and the need for money (cogente mercede). Cicero varies the asyndetic tricolon, moving from a nominal ablative absolute consisting of two nouns (the non-existent participle of sum, esse needs to be supplied) in the first colon to present participles (hortante, cogente) and nouns (libidine, mercede) in the second and third.

hortante libidine, cogente mercede: note that Antony (according to Cicero) prostitutes himself for personal pleasure as well as material gain: he is in desperate financial straits, but also urged on by depraved lust.

per tegulas demitterere: demitterere is the alternative 2nd person singular imperfect subjunctive passive form of demitto (= demittereris), here perhaps best taken in a middle sense (‘you let yourself down through the roof’, trans. Shackleton Bailey). The scenario brings to mind a comparable scene in Terence’s Eunuch where a mythological painting is described as follows (584–89, Chaerea speaking):

ibi inerat pictura haec, Iovem

quo pacto Danaae misisse aiunt quondam in gremium imbrem aureum.

egomet quoque id spectare coepi; et, quia consimilem luserat

iam olim ille ludum, impendio magis animus gaudebat mihi,

deum sese in hominem convortisse atque in alienas tegulas

venisse clanculum per impluvium fucum factum mulieri.

[There was the following painting: it depicted the story of how Jupiter sent a shower of gold into Danae’s bosom. I began to look at it myself, and the fact that he had played a similar game long ago made me all the more excited: a god had turned himself into human shape, made his way by stealth on to another man’s roof, and come through the skylight to play a trick on a woman (trans. Barsby).]

Barsby (1999: 197) explains the architecture involved: ‘the atrium of a Roman house had a rectangular opening in the roof (compluuium) and a similarly shaped basin underneath to catch rainwater (impluuium)’ — and it is this opening through which we ought to imagine Antony climbing back in.

quae flagitia domus illa diutius ferre non potuit: quae is a connecting relative (= ea). Cicero personifies the household (domus illa). ‖ It is not easy to see how this sentence fits into the argument, especially since its elimination would provide a much more seamless transition between the image of Antony entering secretly through the roof and Cicero’s explication why he is so remarkably well informed about these shenanigans (scisne…). In addition, the claim ferre non potuit remains strangely inconsequential.

scisne me de rebus mihi notissimis dicere?: a reader might wonder how Cicero knows all these intimate details, and he preempts any skepticism by explaining how he acquired inside knowledge of what was most likely a freely invented (or at the very least richly embellished) scenario.

recordare tempus illud cum pater Curio maerens iacebat in lecto: recordare is the second person singular present imperative passive form of the deponent recordor, with tempus illud as accusative object. The phrase sets up a temporal cum-clause (in the indicative). maerens is a circumstantial participle (‘grief-stricken’), correlating thematically and syntactically with lacrimans in the following sentence.

filius se ad pedes meos prosternens, lacrimans, te mihi commendabat: after Cicero has reduced Curio Senior to a state of emotional wretchedness, he turns his attention to the son. As noted above, Brutus 280 suggests that Curio had become part of Cicero’s entourage in the late 60s BCE or as McDermott (1972: 402) puts it: ‘Curio filius seems to have served a tirocinium fori with Cicero at about the time he was serving a tirocinium libidinis with Antonius’. He dates the interview mentioned here to 61 BCE or thereabouts: ‘Plutarch’s account of Antonius’ association with Curio and Clodius (Ant., 2, 3–4) and Antonius’ departure for the east in 58 suggest a date for this interview not far from the time of the trial of Clodius’ (401). filius correlates with pater, the son is in tears like his father (lacrimans, a circumstantial participle, correlates with maerens), and both father and son are prostrate (iacebat in lecto ~ se ad pedes meos prosternens). Through his penchant for submission, Antony paradoxically managed to lay low both Curiones as well: the elder lies in bed, sick with disgust; the younger lies at Cicero’s feet, pleading on behalf of his chum.

Ancient supplications were highly formalized involving the following four steps: (i) an approach to a person or place; (ii) a gesture of submission on the part of the suppliant (such as throwing oneself at the feet or grasping the knees of the person to be supplicated); (iii) the verbal request; (iv) the response of the supplicandus (see Naiden 2006: 4). Within this standard pattern, we may note two interesting tweaks. First, Cicero had a choice of how to phrase the gesture of supplication; and with se ad pedes meos prosternens he opted for an extreme form of abjection used elsewhere of defeated enemies asking for mercy (OLD s.v. prosterno 3b). And secondly, Curio’s plea comes in two parts: first, he commends Antony to Cicero’s care (te mihi commendabat — a formulation perhaps reminiscent of New Comedy: see Sussman (1998: 124, with n. 30); and secondly, he asks for Cicero’s assistance in pumping his dad for the six million sesterces which he gave to Antony (orabat ut…). This is touching: clearly, what is foremost on Curio Junior’s mind is the well-being of his beloved, which he feels is most secure in Cicero’s keeping — only after taking care of Antony does he worry about himself and the looming confrontation with his father.

lacrimans: a circumstantial participle (‘in tears’), analogous to maerens above. Welling up can be a powerful emotive gesture, and tears drop copiously not least in those rhetorical contexts (such as law courts or pleas for mercy on the battlefield) in which the performer is trying to elicit sympathy and pity. In and of itself, public weeping is thus not necessarily effeminizing: in Livy and elsewhere, many a Roman father resorts to crying to generate support for their accused sons (see 1.26.12, 8.33.23 with de Libero 2009: 212). Yet Curio Junior throwing himself at Cicero’s feet while crying him a river on behalf of Antony seems preposterously OTT.

orabat ut se contra suum patrem, si sestertium sexagiens peteret, defenderem: the ut after orabat (‘a verb of beseeching’) introduces a final object clause; se, the third-person singular reflexive pronoun and accusative object of defenderem, as well as the possessive adjective suum, refer to Curio Junior, the subject of the principal clause. Curio calls on Cicero’s help because he anticipates a massive bust-up with his dad in case he has to come clean on how much money he stood surety for on Antony’s behalf. Apparently, he had not cleared this with his father beforehand — a risky move: in Rome, all family-wealth belonged to the paterfamilias, and Curio pater could have decided to let Antony hang out to dry when asked by his son to stump up for his lover’s debts.

si sestertium sexagiens peteret: at issue are six million sesterces. The full phrase, in regular order, would be: sexagiens (60 times) centena millia (100,000) sestertium (of sesterces). The omission of centena millia is unremarkable; but numerical adjectives such as sexagiens usually precede the noun they modify since they tend to carry emphasis (Allen & Greenough 598b). Why, then, has Cicero here inverted the usual word order? Arguably, the si-clause is focalized via Curio Junior, who tries to hide the embarrassingly large sum at issue (sexagiens) by tugging it in behind the noun (sestertium): a sly piece of characterization.

tantum enim se pro te intercessisse dicebat: dicebat introduces an indirect statement with se (i.e. Curio) as subject accusative and intercessisse as infinitive. intercedo here means ‘to intervene as guarantor’ ‘stand surety’ (OLD s.v. 4b) with tantum (referring back to sestertium sexagiens) as the accusative of the sum guaranteed. se pro te correlates antithetically with se contra suum patrem in the previous sentence: Curio’s loyalties rest with his lover rather than his father, a clear violation of filial pietas.

ipse autem amore ardens confirmabat, quod desiderium tui discidi ferre non posset, se in exilium iturum: confirmabat introduces an indirect statement with se as subject accusative and iturum (sc. esse) as (future) infinitive (from eo, ire). Curio’s confessions continue: hopelessly infatuated with Antony (the a-alliteration in autem amore ardens gives mock-acoustic expression to his passionate yearning), he claims to be unable to bear a state of separation: if Antony were to go into exile to avoid punishment for defaulting on his debts, he would join him. ardens is another circumstantial participle: Curio is ‘on fire with love’. (Livy uses the same phrase to capture Sextus Tarquinius’ mental state before his rape of Lucretia.) Overall, the relationship between Antony and Curio is difficult to classify: both are on fire with passionate love (libido), though Antony also seems to be receiving significant financial compensation for services rendered — which in turn is difficult to reconcile with his condition of enslavement.

quod desiderium tui discidi ferre non posset: a very condensed expression. Curio said that he would be unable to bear ‘the overwhelming longing (sc. for you, Antony) caused by your sudden or forcible separation’. tui discidi is an objective genitive dependent on desiderium. discidium can also refer to the ‘estrangement of lovers’ or ‘divorce’ (OLD s.v. 2b) and thereby continues the marriage-metaphor of the previous paragraph. Cicero construes an inversion of the usual scenario where an exile feels desiderium patriae: Curio is so enthralled to Antony that he would gladly give up his patria and suffer ‘social death’ in exile as long as he can be around his chum.

Extra information:

Libido and flagitium are unequivocally negative terms. But burning passion (cf. amore ardens) and passionate longing (cf. desiderium) for an absent friend are not per se inappropriate feelings in the context of male-male relationships in late-republican Rome. In fact, Cicero had used much the same idiom half a decade earlier to express his sentiments about Pompey, after deciding not to follow him out of Italy on his flight from Caesar when civil war broke out (Letter to Atticus 9.10.2 = 177 SB):

Amens mihi fuisse a principio videor et me una haec res torquet quod non omnibus in rebus labentem vel potius ruentem Pompeium tamquam unus manipularis secutus sim. vidi hominem xiiii Kal. Febr. plenum formidinis. illo ipso die sensi quid ageret. numquam mihi postea placuit nec umquam aliud in alio peccare destitit. nihil interim ad me scribere, nihil nisi fugam cogitare. quid quaeris? sicut ἐν τοῖς ἐρωτικοῖς alienat quod immunde, insulse, indecore fit, sic me illius fugae neglegentiaeque deformitas avertit ab amore. nihil enim dignum faciebat quare eius fugae comitem me adiungerem. nunc emergit amor, nunc desiderium ferre non possum, nunc mihi nihil libri, nihil litterae, nihil doctrina prodest. ita dies et noctes tamquam avis illa mare prospecto, evolare cupio.

[I think I have been out of my senses from the start, and the one thing that tortures me is that I have not followed Pompey like any private soldier in his drift or rather plunge to disaster. I saw him on 17 January, thoroughly cowed. That very day I realized what he was at. Thereafter he was never to my liking. He went on blundering now here now there. Meanwhile not a line to me, not a thought except for flight. In short, just as en choses d’amour, anything uncleanly, uncouthly, unsuitably done alienates, so the ugliness of his flight and discourtesy turned me from my affection. Nothing in his conduct seemed to deserve that I should join him as his companion in flight. But now my affection comes to the surface, the sense of loss is unbearable, books, writing, philosophy are all to no purpose. Like Plato’s bird I gaze out over the sea day and night, longing to take wing.]

Despite the erotic terminology, there is nothing sexual about Cicero’s sentiments — he is using the idiom to convey the depth of his affection and attachment to a person, about whose character and policy-decisions he was profoundly conflicted, in a way that was conventional in Roman epistolary discourse: see Williams (2012: 222) on the language of amor, desiderium, and burning as conventional expressions in the letters.

§ 46: Family Therapy: Cicero as Counselor

After the delusional image of marital stability that concluded § 44, matters fell apart in § 45: Curio pater and Curio filius have both been reduced to tears, even though the reasons for their emotional incontinence differ drastically: the former is laid low by a bout of depression at his inability to check his son’s self-destructive infatuation with Antony (a case of senile dementia), the latter wails at Cicero’s feet in an effort to protect his beloved (call it penile dementia). For the day of reckoning appears nigh: if Curio pater were to refuse to pick up the bill, both young men might end up in exile. It is worth noting that not all of the problems that the Curio family faces are down to the lurid sex-appeal of Antony who has clearly addled the mind of Curio Junior. When patria potestas breaks down, all hell tends to break loose, and Curio Senior is in clear need of a guide who can tell him what to do: Cicero to the rescue!

In § 46, Cicero features himself as a steady and competent counselor to sort out what is frankly an over-emotional and quite unnecessary mess, created by the inability of the father to deal adequately with Antony. All he needs to do is reassert paternal authority — and Cicero tells him how best to go about it. He offers Curio Senior a lesson in paternal discipline, combining a measure of kindness (paying off his son’s debts) with a measure of severity (laying down the law on future relations with Antony, which essentially amounts to imposing a restraining order). He emboldens the Elder Curio to take an approach to the problem that is both generous and tough-minded, grounded in the best of Roman common sense, a tough but pragmatic approach that combines disciplina with what one may label humanitas (sympathy with the plight of fellow-humans, in this case a son who has temporarily lost his ways under the sinister influence of Antony) to shore up his familia. Following up on Curio Junior’s desperate pleading, he convinces the father to settle the debt of his son, however feckless he may have been (and thus enable him to grow up into a viable member of Rome’s civic community), but also to exercise his paternal powers to shut down any further contact between Curio Junior and Antony. The individual left out in the cold is Antony.

In sum: under the influence of Antony, the two Curios have failed to maintain the demeanor expected of those who belong to Rome’s ruling elite. In the last sentence of the paragraph, Cicero seamlessly pivots from Antony’s personal failings to his political crimes: he conjures a fearsome display of military force, designed to intimidate Cicero and his audience as part of the speech’s setting. Cicero here offers a representative snapshot of Antony’s corrosive impact on the fabric of Rome’s ruling elite and society at large. In nuce, this is the scenario that Cicero conjures for the speech as a whole: what Antony does to the Curio household, he is currently doing to the res publica. The analogy to Curio Senior is the senate. Cicero came to the rescue once; he offers to do so again — in fact does so with this very speech. Cicero advocates the same approach now, which he advised then: to reassert (senatorial) auctoritas and close ranks against the subversive, revolutionary madman.

Quo tempore ego quanta mala florentissimae familiae sedavi vel potius sustuli!: quo is a connecting relative pronoun (= eo); quo tempore an ablative of time. The adjective quanta (modifying mala) is exclamatory: ‘how many evils did I…’ florentissimae familiae is either genitive (depending on mala) or dative. Cicero systematically alliterates here (quo – quanta; florentissimae – familiae; sedavi – sustuli). The pair of verbs forms a climax: after the mild sedavi, Cicero, throwing modesty to the winds (vel potius: ah, what the heck!), decides to boast that he sorted their problems (sustuli), period.

florentissimae familiae: the superlative seems somewhat exaggerated. The Scribonii Curiones were a relatively new presence within the ranks of Rome’s ruling elite: the first to reach the consulship was Curio pater; and by the time Cicero wrote Philippic 2, the family had again disappeared into oblivion.

patri persuasi ut aes alienum fili dissolveret; redimeret adulescentem, summa spe et animi et ingeni praeditum, rei familiaris facultatibus eumque non modo tua familiaritate sed etiam congressione patrio iure et potestate prohiberet: Cicero continues with an alliterative jingle (patri persuasi), as he prevails upon Curio Senior to do two things (though he uses a tricolon to spell them out): to pay off his son’s debt (dissolveret) — and thereby rescue the young man from (financial) ruin (redimeret); and to cut off any further contact with Antony (prohiberet). The asyndetic juxtaposition of dissolveret and redimeret (redimeret and prohiberet are linked by the -que after eum) signals stylistically that they form one idea (action – outcome), as does the overall chiastic structure of the first two cola:


aes alienum








adulescentem summa spe et animi et ingeni praeditum


rei familiaris facultatibus

A = debt and resources to pay it off; B = Curio Junior, as filius and talented adulescens; C = payment of debt and personal redemption

Overall, the ut-clause moves from past transgressions to their cancellation for the present (dissolveret, redimeret) and advice on how to avoid further problems in the future (prohiberet).

patri persuasi: in classical Latin persuadere takes the dative.

aes alienum: literally, ‘(copper or bronze) money (aes) borrowed from another person (alienum)’, hence ‘debt’.

adulescentem: Curio was in his early twenties at the time, but Roman age markers are imprecise (see above 132–33) and adulescens fits in well with the touches from New Comedy that Cicero sprinkles throughout these paragraphs.

summa spe et animi et ingeni praeditum: the alliterated phrase summa spe is an instrumental ablative governed by praeditum. spes here refers to Curio’s future prospects — ‘endowed with exceptional potential’. et … et… connects the two genitives animi and ingeni. animus refers to his (bold) spirit, i.e. such qualities as energy and daring; ingenium is his creative imagination, more specifically his oratorical talent.

rei familiaris facultatibus: literally ‘with the resources of the family’s wealth’

non modo tua familiaritate, sed etiam congressione: familiaritas refers to a strong (political) friendship, with connotations of affection and intimacy: Grillo (2015: 262), citing Hellegouarc’h (1963: 70); congressio is more hands-on: it refers to an actual encounter and can carry connotations of sexual congress. Both nouns are ablatives of separation with prohiberet.

patrio iure et potestate: the power of the Roman paterfamilias (the so-called patria potestas), which included the ius vitae necisque, was virtually unlimited in conception, though in practice tightly hedged by societal norms and expectations: see above 150. Cicero here conjures up all three concepts in slightly unorthodox formulations. It is not entirely clear what his recommendation added to Curio Senior’s earlier attempts to bar Antony from entering the house (detailed in the previous paragraph), though the implication might be that Curio had so far abstained from exercising his full power as paterfamilias (had behaved, in other words, like one of the Greek fathers in New Comedy). He now is advised to increase the threat level: instead of just keeping Antony away, he is encouraged to threaten his son with drastic consequences if he violates the paternal prohibition.

haec tu cum per me acta meminisses, nisi illis quos videmus gladiis confideres, maledictis me provocare ausus esses?: the sentence begins with a cum-clause, which is followed by a conditional sequence. The logic here is not entirely obvious, as one step seems to have been elided. Cicero seems to be asking: ‘when you remember …, would you have dared to…?’, while also supplying the answer: ‘[no, you would not have] — if you could not trust in those swords’.

haec tu cum … meminisses: standard word order would be cum haec … meminisses. Cicero places the accusative object (haec) and the (strictly speaking unnecessary) second personal pronoun (tu) in front of the conjugation (cum).

per me acta: Usually, Latin uses a / ab + ablative to express agency with passive verbs, but per + acc. is also a possibility, especially when the sense is ‘through the instrumentality of’ (OLD s.v. 15). Cicero succeeded in prevailing upon Curio Senior and was therefore instrumental in ensuring the payment of Curio Junior’s debt, his ensuing redemption, and the imposition of the non-contact policy with regard to Antony. (This is what haec … acta refer to, rather than the act of persuasion.)

nisi … confideres, … ausus esses?: Cicero addresses a question to Antony cast as mixed conditional sequence with the protasis in the imperfect subjunctive and the apodosis in the pluperfect subjunctive. (The form ausus esses is pluperfect passive subjunctive, but audeo, you will recall, is a so-called ‘semi-deponent’, i.e. has active forms, with active meanings, in the present system and passive forms, with active meanings, in the perfect system.) He pairs a past counterfactual scenario (Antony would not have dared to challenge him) with a scenario in the present that he imagines as real — for Antony’s threatening demeanor towards Cicero, see the next note.

illis quos videmus gladiis: Cicero here caters to the conceit that he is delivering an actual oration (rather than publishing a pamphlet) and conjures the scenario that Antony and his armed henchmen surround the speaker’s platform, threatening physical violence. The hyperbaton illis … gladiis, further amplified by the placement of the antecedent after the relative clause, nicely enhances the shock-value of gladiis. The scene is reminiscent of the opening of the pro Milone.

maledictis: the term refers us back to the exordium, where Cicero claims that Antony provoked him without cause with verbal abuse (§ 1: … ultro me maledictis lacessisti). By calling Antony’s verbal attacks maledicta, Cicero implicitly discredits Antony’s qualities as a public speaker (a theme running throughout Philippic 2). See pro Caelio 6, where Cicero first distinguishes between male dicere and accusare and then outlines two different modes of male dicere — one dull and abusive, the other witty:

aliud est male dicere, aliud accusare: accusatio crimen desiderat, rem ut definiat, hominem ut notet, argumento probet, teste confirmet; maledictio autem nihil habet propositi praeter contumeliam; quae si petulantius iactatur, convicium, si facetius, urbanitas nominatur.

[abuse is one thing, accusation is another. Accusation requires ground for a charge, to define a fact, to mark a man, to prove by argument, to establish by testimony. The only object of slander, on the other hand, is to insult; if it has a strain of coarseness, it is called abuse; if one of wit, it is called elegance.]

All Antony has to offer is slander (maledictio); there is no substance to anything he says, and as the rest of the speech makes clear, Antony uses ‘abusive language’ (convicium) without any redeeming wit — in contrast to Cicero, who is known for his urbanitas, and the New Comic scenario he unfolds in §§ 44–46 indeed combines maledictio and urbanitas brilliantly. Etymologically, maledictis also picks up quanta mala from the beginning of the paragraph, keeping Antony in close company with evil things.

§ 47: Hitting ‘Fast-Forward’, or: How to Pull Off a Praeteritio

After wrapping up his opening anecdote in his imaginary biography of Antony, Cicero continues with a transitional paragraph that lays out his approach to the rest of the material. As in § 43, he stresses that he has to leave out a lot. Some of the stuff that Antony got up (or down) to is simply beyond the pale: the sort of X-rated material no person with any sense of decency would be able to put into words. And there is also a feeling of urgency: Cicero is loath to linger too long on Antony’s youthful depravities in his hurry to get to his conduct during the civil wars, which is of greater relevance in the here-and-now (even though it is also more familiar to his audience — or so Cicero claims). The paragraph is therefore highly reflexive in outlook, as Cicero comments explicitly on some of the moral and rhetorical considerations and contextual coordinates (such as the purported degrees of familiarity of his audience with different aspects of his subject matter) that shape his discourse.

The technical terms for gesturing to material without treating it fully are occultatio (‘obfuscation’) or praeteritio (‘a passing by and over’; paralipsis in Greek). An excellent ancient discussion of this useful ploy can be found in the so-called Rhetorica ad Herennium, a rhetorical treatise written in the early first century BCE (4.37):

Paralipsis / Praeteritio occurs when we say that we are passing by, or do not know, or refuse to say that which precisely now we are saying, as follows: ‘Your boyhood, indeed, which you dedicated to intemperance of all kinds, I would discuss, if I thought this the right time. But at present I advisedly leave that aside. This too I pass by, that the tribunes have reported you as irregular in military service. Also that you have given satisfaction to Lucius Labeo for injuries done him I regard as irrelevant to the present matter. Of these things I say nothing, but return to the issue in this trial’. Again: ‘I do not mention that you have taken monies from our allies; I do not concern myself with your having despoiled the cities, kingdoms, and homes of them all. I pass by your thieveries and robberies, all of them’. This figure is useful if employed in a matter which is not pertinent to call specifically to the attention of others, because there is advantage in making only an indirect reference to it, or because the direct reference would be tedious or undignified, or cannot be made clear, or can easily be refuted. As a result, it is of greater advantage to create a suspicion by Paralipsis / Praeteritio than to insist directly on a statement that is refutable.

Compare the more recent discussion found in Farnsworth (2011: 166–67):

The usual purposes that the device serves include these: a. To gain credit—though not too much—for discretion or propriety while still setting loose an indiscretion or impropriety. … b. To leave the substance of a sentiment, or a piece of it, to the listener’s imagination, and so enhance its force. The fantasy of what the complete version of the thought would have been may be more powerful than a plain statement of it. … c. To limit debate over a controversial utterance by offering it as only half-said; when the speaker denies fully saying it, he hopes to make a rebuttal seem uncalled for, and to assign himself a relaxed burden of proof. … d. Amusement. The paradox inherent in a good use of praeteritio can be a source of humor and charm, at least when it does not take itself too seriously.

All four aspects identified by Farnsworth are in play in our passage: (a) Cicero comes across as a paragon of propriety (his commitment to verbal restraint stands in explicit contrast to Antony’s sexual and rhetorical incontinence) by not delving into the sordid details of his adversary’s sex life, while at the same time cashing in on the allure of scandal with his lurid insinuations of unspeakable filth. (b) He thereby invites the audience to indulge their imagination — not least in conjuring up and putting together the organs and orifices he passes over in silence: any scenario they can think of, however lewd, Antony is bound to have acted out. The result is insinuation porn, which enables him to keep his mouth squeaky clean and the minds of his audience satisfyingly dirty. (c) Given that Cicero here operates with artistic license rather than sound empirical evidence, the mode of intimation renders him less vulnerable to the objection that he is making it all up. (d) He also benefits from the humour inherent in the ‘gossip’s trope’ — which he combines with a serious message:

Cicero has just told an unusually gross (but plausible) lie about Antony’s sexual habits as a young man. The decorum, the tact, and the modesty of the speaker, compounded with the hint that this sort of material is endless, are audacious and funny, but the sexual depravity is presented as being only a prelude to perversions of the political intelligence, a theme which again offers inexhaustible material. Here moral indignation is coupled with decorum — it is the perfection of gravitas. Or rather, it is gravitas mimed, a droll imitation of the real thing, an action designed to irritate the victim and amuse the audience, for if praeteritio is not urbane, casual, mocking or witty — as it always is when Cicero has his wits and his nerve — it is nothing.10

Throughout Philippic 2, Cicero uses the sexual as code for the political. According to the logic that leopards don’t change their spots, Antony’s erotic escapades prefigure his behaviour in civic life: there is no reason to assume that someone who so conspicuously lacks the virtues expected of a Roman statesman in his youth miraculously acquired them later on. As Cicero goes on to argue, the juvenile delinquent indeed grew up into an uninhibited creature of inordinate appetites who lusts after drink and sex, money and power — the more the better. Antony is not just a menace to morals but to society at large.

Sed iam stupra et flagitia omittamus: iam (‘now’) refers to this particular moment in Cicero’s discourse: the time has come to move on from Antony’s youthful depravities. omittamus is an exhortatory subjunctive (‘Let us…’), introducing a rather lengthy praeteritio.

stupra et flagitia: while the term stuprum can be applied to label any shameful conduct, without specific reference to sexual practices, for the most part (including here) it refers to ‘the offense consisting in the violation of the sexual integrity of freeborn Romans of either sex’ (such as pederasty or adultery) (Williams 1999: 96). He goes on to point out that the concept is implicated in how Roman society was set up: ‘At stake here is the fundamental distinction between freeborn and slave, which in turn bolsters the self-identifying practices of the freeborn by promoting the ideal of the physical inviolability of the free Roman citizen’ (106). flagitium, which Cicero already used in §§ 44 and 45, also has a more general meaning (‘any shameful act that causes infamy and disgrace’), but here specifically evokes forms of sexual transgression.11

sunt quaedam quae honeste non possum dicere: quaedam is neuter plural and antecedent of quae (‘there are certain things that…’). Cicero engages in the conceit of self-censorship, in apparent deference to standards of decency: the implication is that the (undefined) things Antony did are literally ‘unspeakable’ for any honourable member of Roman society. Self-censorship can be a serious problem when it enforces a code of silence over actual abuse of power; here it is a posture designed to titillate the (salacious) imagination of his audience (that includes me — and you!) with unspecified acts of sexual transgression on Antony’s part and at the same time highlight his own good sense and finely tuned sensibilities of what is and what is not acceptable to put into words in civil society. He thereby signals concern over public morality: it is a question of taste and decency to veil Antony’s more outrageous sexual escapades in a shroud of silence.

The question of course arises: what does Cicero pass over in silence? Scholars suspect that the reference here is to oral intercourse. This was a difficult area for the public orator (unlike a poet such as Catullus), insofar as he would involve himself in a performative contradiction were he to talk about it: he would, in a sense, befoul his own mouth by putting filth into words. Corbeill (1996: 105) identifies ‘the two principal rhetorical considerations that characterize Roman invective involving sexual practices and the os’ as follows: ‘First, the orator must limit himself to double entendres, vague references that allow him to cast aspersions on an opponent while maintaining his own dignity as a public speaker. Second, the orator cannot directly accuse his more prominent opponents of improper social and sexual activity’. And with this in mind Richlin (1983/1992: 15) answers the question ‘what can he be leaving out?’ as follows: ‘Without giving a graphic description of Antony’s intercourse with the younger Curio, he has implied that it was habitual and passionate. The ultimate insult was to accuse someone of indulgence in oral intercourse, and presumably Cicero means to imply this for Antony. But the weight of the sentence is on the neat paradox, “You have done things that a man of good morals cannot even name”, and on the contrast between Cicero, who is honestus and verecundus, and Antony, who is not’. Antony knows no boundaries — neither for himself nor for others. Cicero by contrast exercises restraint and abides by the protocols of public discourse: he prefers playing coy to being gratuitously gross. Internal self-regulation is a prized attribute in a Roman aristocrat — and precisely what Antony lacks.

honeste: the adverb here refers to ‘moral integrity’; it is a key concern of Cicero’s (late) philosophy. See in particular his On Duties (de Officiis).

tu autem eo liberior [es] quod ea in te admisisti quae a verecundo inimico audire non posses: the main verb (es) has to be supplied. The basic meaning of liber is ‘free’, i.e. possessing the social and legal status of a free man, as opposed to a slave; but it can also refer specifically to ‘free speech’, either in a positive sense (‘outspoken’, ‘frank’, ‘candid’) or in a negative sense (‘showing lack of restraint’). This is the meaning of the comparative liberior here: Cicero refers back to the verbal abuse (see on maledicta, above 165) Antony showered on him and relates it back to his enemy’s sexual track-record: in light of what has gone into Antony’s mouth, the filth that comes out of it hardly surprises.

eo: an ablative of respect (‘in this regard’).

quod ea in te admisisti: quod is causal here: Cicero explains why Antony can be more outspoken when it comes to verbal abuse than he is. Not that Cicero is particularly reticent — though he continues in the mode of double entendre that enables him to have his cake and eat it:

The phrase ‘allowed to be done to yourself’ (in te admisisti), with its apparently neutral overtones, seems to continue Cicero’s pose of discreet reticence. But other occurrences of the verb admitto indicate that Cicero is further incriminating Antonius at the very moment he claims to be exercising discretion. This verb ‘was the technical term for the bringing of one animal to the other (usually the male to the female)’; more significantly, admitto can refer euphemistically to a pimp allowing his prostitute access to a man. The portrayal of Antony pimping for himself as a young male whore coincides with imagery Cicero employed earlier in the speech (2.44–45)’ (Corbeill 1996: 106, with quotation and reference to Adams 1982: 206–07).

This is a rather complicated (though quite plausible) scenario, but the invective punch here might also be much more straightforward. The basic meaning of admitto is ‘to allow to enter’ (also in the specific sense of allowing enemies to enter into, with in + acc.), and Cicero might again refer to the fact that Antony gave up his corporal inviolability as a male citizen by allowing his bodily orifices to be penetrated.

quae a verecundo inimico audire non posses: Antony’s lewd behaviour is such that he could not hear about it even from a personal enemy (inimicus) if that enemy has any sense of shame (verecundia). audire here means ‘to hear said with respect to oneself’: OLD s.v. 5. Cicero rephrases non possum dicere from the previous sentence in chiastic order, shifting from speaking to listening.

a verecundo inimico: the phrase harks back to the exordium: Cicero began the speech by pondering why Antony had decided to make him his personal enemy (inimicus) and reached the conclusion that each hostis (public enemy) of the res publica in recent memory also happened to be his personal enemy (inimicus).

sed reliquum vitae cursum videte, quem quidem celeriter perstringam: Cicero invites his readers (addressed directly with the imperative videte: another sop to the fiction that Cicero is delivering an oration) to take a bird’s eye view of the rest of Antony’s biography. This invitation to synoptic autopsy serves as counterpoint to the relative clause where he announces that he will cover the following years quickly (celeriter) and superficially (perstringere is here used figuratively in the sense of ‘barely scratching the surface’). The particle quidem has a concessive sense (‘admittedly’).

perstringam: first person singular future indicative active.

ad haec enim quae in civili bello, in maximis rei publicae miseriis fecit, et ad ea quae cotidie facit, festinat animus: standard word order would be animus ad haec, quae… et ad ea, quae… festinat. There might be an element of enactment in the unusual placement of the subject (animus) at the very end of the sentence: the animus has indeed ‘hurried on’, even overtaking the verb (festinat). The alliterated sequence of verb — fecit : facit : festinat — also generates an impression of speed. (Note how festinat also recapitulates the vowels of the previous two verbs.)

quae in civili bello, in maximis rei publicae miseriis fecit: in maximis rei publicae miseriis stands in apposition to, and glosses, in civili bello. The reference is to the conflict between Caesar and the senate, initially with Pompey as leading general, that broke out in 49 and lasted until c. 46 BCE. Traditionally, the lexeme bellum referred to a properly declared state of war with another people. bellum civile (‘civil war’) is a paradoxical phrase that brings together the sphere known as militiae, where bellum refers to violent confrontation with a foreign enemy, and the civic sphere of domestic and more or less peaceful politics (domi); it emerged in the last century of the republic to capture the suicidal in-fighting that broke out among Rome’s ruling elite from c. 133 BCE onwards (see Introduction 9–10). In a political culture much invested in consensus and concordia (at least according to Cicero), civil war is indeed ‘the greatest of all evils’ (note the plaintive alliteration maximis … miseriis.

quae peto ut, quamquam multo notiora vobis quam mihi sunt, tamen, ut facitis, attente audiatis: quae is a connecting relative (= ea), picking up haec and ea from the previous sentence. Syntactically, it is the accusative object of audiatis, i.e. it belongs into the first ut-clause (dependent on peto): ‘as far as these matters are concerned, I ask that you listen to them attentively — as you do now — even though they are much better known to you than to me’. It is not entirely clear what periods Cicero has in mind and why he insists on stressing that Antony’s conduct during these times is significantly better known to his audience than to himself. He ‘perhaps refers to his absences from Rome and Italy during the Civil War and after Caesar’s death’ (Denniston 1926: 126–27), i.e. 7 June 49–autumn 48 and 7 April–31 August 44. It is rather unlikely (pace Ramsey 2003: 230) that he is also referring to his stay in Brindisi from autumn 48–autumn 47, after he had been pardoned by Caesar and was permitted to return to Italy but not to Rome, because he spent those excruciating months under the direct jurisdiction of Antony. In fact, his implicit claim to have been absent (unlike others) at least until after Pharsalus and the death of Pompey subtly reinforces his credentials as a republican resistance fighter, glossing over his early return to Caesar-occupied Italy in the autumn of 48, well before the hot phase of the civil war was over.

multo: an ablative of the degree of difference with the comparative notiora, literally ‘more well known by much’.

ut facitis: a parenthetical comment on the conduct of his imaginary audience. It lessons the force of the exhortation: Cicero simply asks his audience to continue to do what they are anyway already doing.

debet enim talibus in rebus excitare animos non cognitio solum rerum sed etiam recordatio: the word order is again highly wrought. Stripped of rhetorical manipulation the sentence might run: in talibus enim rebus non solum cognitio sed etiam recordatio rerum animos excitare debet. The reshuffle involves an inversion of the usual sequence subject – verb, with the verb here placed up front; the anastrophe of the preposition in (in talibus rebus > talibus in rebus); and the inverted order of excitare animos. The design is therefore just as ‘excited’ as Cicero wants the minds of his audience to be; and it ensures that the emphasis falls heavily on the very last word of the sentence: recordatio. Cicero here tries to counter the well-known phenomenon that the motivating force of anger fades over time: something that triggers an acute emotion of being wronged at the first instance of recognition and the willingness to lash out and do something about the injustice suffered might not do so years after the fact. Conventional wisdom and consolatory literature even hold that painful experiences may over time turn into pleasant memories: forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit, as Virgil’s Aeneas has it ‘perhaps it will one day be pleasing to remember even these hardships’ (Aeneid 1.203). Cicero has to argue the opposite: he dredges up stuff from history and tries to render it relevant for present purposes, by generating a sense of outrage at the recollection of both Antony’s past and present misdeeds.

excitare animos: what can easily get lost in stereotypical images of the Romans as emotionally controlled is the fact that emotions are an important part of politics in general and public oratory in particular. In his philosophical writings, Cicero often endorses the proto-Stoic figure of the completely impassionate, rational agent; but in rhetorical contexts he recognizes the productive force and overriding importance of emotions. A good speaker will rouse his audience not just with arguments but also with emotive appeals to adopt a particular outlook or course of action.

non cognitio solum rerum, sed etiam recordatio: Cicero has a certain fondness for abstract nouns, not least in his philosophical writings, but also in his speeches. cognitio denotes ‘the act of getting to know’, i.e. refers to those matters that Cicero’s audience is as of yet unfamiliar with and learns through his discourse; recordatio means ‘recollection’ and thus refers to matters already known to his audience — he only needs to trigger their memory. The genitive rerum stands apo koinou, i.e. goes with both nouns.

etsi incidamus, opinor, media ne nimis sero ad extrema veniamus: when etsi, as here, introduces a main clause it has the sense of ‘and yet’, limiting the preceding sentence (Gildersleeve & Lodge 391). But this causes difficulties: the preceding sentence refers to material Cicero intends to cover in depth, i.e. Antony’s behaviour in the run-up to, and during, the civil war and, more recently, in the aftermath of Caesar’s assassination. One would therefore have expected an affirmative, rather than a concessive link-up.

incidamus … media: without indication of vowel length, many of the forms of incîdo (from in + caedo, with a long -i; basic meaning: to cut), and incido (from in + cado, with a short -i; basic meaning: to fall) are indistinguishable. Here Cicero is saying: ‘Let’s cut the middle part (media: neuter acc. plural) short’, referring to the period from c. 58–50 BCE, to be covered briefly in §§ 48–50a.

ne nimis sero ad extrema veniamus: ne introduces a negative purpose clause (‘lest’). Like media, extrema is an adjective used as a noun, in the neuter accusative plural — ‘the last, i.e. most recent, matters’ in line with his preference for vague generic neuter pronouns throughout this (transitional) paragraph: quaedam; ea; haec enim quae…; ea quae…; quae… notiora.

§ 48: Antony Adrift

§§ 48–50a are devoted to Antony’s public career in the 50s BCE. At the opening of § 48, we are in Rome and the year is 58: Antony, Cicero claims, became a bosom friend of Clodius, who was tribune of the people at the time (about to drive Cicero into exile and burn down his house…) as well as married to Antony’s future wife Fulvia. The couple offered Antony excellent opportunities to pursue his imputed revolutionary and sexual passions: Cicero casts him as Clodius’ principal firebrand in the city while engaging in some marital foreplay in his home. After his stint as catalyst for Clodius’ incendiary actions that — according to Cicero — saw conflagrations across the capital, he has Antony drift off to the edges of the empire in search of some work experience abroad, without changing the company he keeps. In 57–55, we find him in the entourage of Aulus Gabinius, one of the consuls of 58, and hence (according to Cicero) co-responsible for Cicero’s exile. (He let him know about it in the in Pisonem, an invective attack on the other consul of 58, Lucius Calpurnius Piso, though Cicero reserves sufficient spite for Gabinius as well.) And in 54, Antony ends up with Caesar’s forces in Gaul. If we read between the lines of Cicero’s invective, what emerges is an impressive record of foreign service, which suggests that Antony proved adept at navigating the opportunities offered by Rome’s system of imperial exploitation, helped along, no doubt, by family connections. In Cicero’s account, of course, Antony comes across as a rootless scoundrel, unanchored and adrift, a piece of human dross without a proper home, floating about at the edges of the world: Cicero’s invective GPS tracks Antony to the farthest reaches of Roman power, from the South-East (Alexandria) to the North-West (Gaul), with a notional footprint in Italy (Misenum) that Cicero combines with a gesture to the far West (Sisapo in Spain): anywhere but R/Home. In line with the logic of fast-forward, the account is of course highly selective: Cicero focuses on those moments that lend themselves to negative comment, while omitting others that constitute less amenable targets for abusive jeers.

Intimus erat in tribunatu Clodio qui sua erga me beneficia commemorat: intimus, used as superlative of interior, means ‘furthest from the outside’, ‘most remote’, ‘inmost’ and, with specific reference to friends, ‘most intimate’, ‘closest’. Placed up front for emphasis and standing in predicative position to the (implied) subject of the sentence, it is to be construed with the dative Clodio: ‘He, who recalls favours he has done me, was Clodius’ most intimate chum during his tribuneship’. Cicero suppresses any hint of what may have been the real motive behind Antony’s association with Clodius: ‘Antony may have been drawn to Clodius by a desire to avenge the death of his stepfather P. Lentulus, who had been executed by Cicero (§ 17), or the connection with Clodius may have come about through the younger Curio, Antony’s close friend (§§ 44–45), who led demonstrations on Clodius’ behalf in 61 when he was charged with sacrilege in the Bona Dea affair’ (Ramsey 2003: 230). There is arguably a suggestion of contagion and pathology here — intimacy ensures that Clodius’ revolutionary zeal rubs off on Antony. According to Plutarch, Life of Antony 2.4, the association was short-lived and Antony, smelling a change of winds, took himself off to Greece for military service and training in oratory:

ὁ δὲ βραχὺν μέν τινα χρόνον τῇ Κλωδίου τοῦ θρασυτάτου καὶ βδελυρωτάτου τῶν τότε δημαγωγῶν φορᾷ πάντα τὰ πράγματα ταραττούσῃ προσέμιξεν ἑαυτόν: ταχὺ δὲ τῆς ἐκείνου μανίας μεστὸς γενόμενος, καὶ φοβηθεὶς τοὺς συνισταμένους ἐπὶ τὸν Κλώδιον, ἀπῆρεν ἐκ τῆς Ἰταλίας εἰς τὴν Ἑλλάδα, καὶ διέτριβε τό τε σῶμα γυμνάζων πρὸς τοὺς στρατιωτικοὺς ἀγῶνας καὶ λέγειν μελετῶν.

[Then Antony allied himself for a short time with Clodius, the most audacious and low-lived demagogue of his time, in the violent courses which were convulsing the state; but he soon became sated with that miscreant’s madness, and fearing the party which was forming against him, left Italy for Greece, where he spent some time in military exercises and the study of oratory.]

As Pelling (1988: 119) notes, τῇ … φορᾷ … προσέμιξεν ἑαυτόν, which literally means ‘mingled himself in with the (destructive) impulses of Clodius’ is a ‘very striking phrase’ — and, with its innuendo of untoward physical intimacy, arguably picks up on intimus (and the following sentence) in Cicero, who was one of Plutarch’s sources. Unlike Plutarch, Cicero does not specify how long Antony and Clodius ‘mingled’, which suggests that Plutarch was right in saying that it was not for long.

qui sua erga me beneficia commemorat: the antecedent of qui is the implied subject of erat (is), so the subject of the relative clause is Antony as well (not Clodius). Cicero here returns to one of his sorest points: Antony’s accusation of ingratitude in the speech that triggered Philippic 2. The basis for this claim was an episode in 48 BCE, when Antony was Caesar’s Master of the Horse, which included responsibility for keeping followers of Pompey out of Italy. After Pharsalus, Cicero just wanted to go home and managed to receive permission from Caesar, perhaps facilitated by his son-in-law Dolabella — but only as far as Brindisi in Southern Italy where he spent several miserable months under the jurisdiction of Antony. He lets rip on the situation early on in the speech, disputing that not having been killed by a bandit should count as a kindness (beneficium): ‘what kind of benefaction is it to abstain from an atrocious crime?’ (§ 5: Quale autem beneficium est quod te abstinueris nefario scelere?). In §§ 59–60, he returns to the issue in a similar vein. Still, that he should be beholden to Antony in this moment of extreme vulnerability must have festered with Cicero: see Wistrand (1978: 49, n. 6): ‘It was also an awkward question whether Cicero owed Antony gratitude for sparing his life at Brundisium, cf. Dio 46,22,5. The answer that Cicero gives (Phil. 2,3,5f. and 2,24,59f.) is ambiguous. He maintains that he had been grateful, but declares on the other hand that Antony’s mercy — like the mercy Caesar had shown — had been a beneficium latronum’. In § 48 Cicero tries to counterbalance any favours received against the most vicious blow to his self(-esteem) and his career, his banishment from Rome in 58 BCE, which Clodius engineered. Anyone on intimate terms with the mastermind of his exile, so Cicero here asserts, has by definition forfeited any claim to a superior position in the economy of favours and services.

eius omnium incendiorum fax [erat], cuius etiam domi iam tum quiddam molitus est: the main verb (erat) needs to be supplied. fax stands in predicative position to the implied subject (Antony): ‘he was the firebrand of all the conflagrations of him’. eius refers to Clodius and is the antecedent of the relative pronoun cuius, a possessive genitive dependent on the locative domi: ‘… of him in whose house he [sc. Antony] … put into motion a humpin’ sumpin’’.

eius omnium incendiorum fax: fax, literally ‘torch’ or ‘firebrand’, also has a figurative sense, denoting ‘a person or thing that starts mischief, rouses passions, enthusiasm, etc.’ (OLD s.v. 8). incendium can similarly be used figuratively, to refer to outbreaks of (political) violence: see OLD s.v. 3. Cicero developed a wide-ranging idiom of abuse to target Clodius as a scourge of Rome, ‘firebrand’ being one of his favourites. Here Antony becomes the catalyst, the initial spark that caused all of Clodius’ ‘conflagrations’. fax comes with connotations of revolutionary chaos that destroys the city (and, on the conceit that Rome is coextensive with the world, the universe at large). Given the real threat of large-scale fires in urban centres, it is a metaphor with a particularly visceral punch, tapping into darkest fears. Cicero here contrives to make Antony responsible for unleashing Clodius on Roman society, simply on the grounds that he could be found in his entourage while Clodius held the office of tribune in 58 BCE (the year Cicero was forced into exile). The incendia Cicero refers to here thus surely include that of his house, stormed, looted, and burnt to the ground by Clodius’ troopers once he had left the city.

cuius etiam domi iam tum quiddam molitus est: Cicero is back to his game of sexual double entendres via vague, yet pregnant, neuter pronouns: quiddam molitus est (‘he put something in motion’) refers to adultery with Clodius’ wife Fulvia. Fulvia (c. 80–40 BCE) had, as Cicero spitefully put it, a ‘triumvirate’ of husbands:12 Clodius (sometime before 58–52 BCE, when Clodius was killed in a street fight; Scribonius Curio (yes, none other than Antony’s buddy from the previous paragraphs) from 51 until Curio’s death in 49 BCE; and finally Antony, whom she married in 46 BCE. With iam tum (‘already back then’) Cicero nastily implies that Antony jumped the queue: instead of waiting his turn, he had it on with Fulvia already in 58.

Extra information:

If you want to learn more about Fulvia, who by all accounts must have been an extraordinary woman, start with Ann R. Raia’s & Judith Lynn Sebesta’s entry on Fulvia in Philippic 2 in their Online Companion to the Worlds of Roman Women: See also Babcock (1965) and Hallett (2015). Brennan (2012: 357) suggests that the funeral Fulvia staged after the death of Clodius inspired Antony’s approach to the funeral of Caesar: ‘After Clodius met a violent death at the hands of his political rival Milo in 52 BCE, Fulvia stage-managed his funeral in a manner that would be remembered and revisited in years to come. Fulvia’s success at whipping Rome’s populace into a frenzy — so much so that they carried her husband’s corpse into the Senate house and burned it down as a pyre — was not lost on Mark Antony after Caesar’s assassination in 44 BCE’.

quid dicam ipse optime intellegit: quid dicam is an indirect question, hence the subjunctive. Cicero again refrains from spelling matters out, preferring to deal in dark hints; and Antony as the culprit is of course supposed to be in the know.

inde iter Alexandriam [fecit] contra senatus auctoritatem, contra rem publicam et religiones: the main verb of the sentence is again elided but easily supplied from context; iter is a verbal noun implying movement (Pinkster 2015: 1043) and governs the accusative of direction Alexandriam. Cicero operates in fast-forward mode, skipping over details in Antony’s biography, such as rhetorical studies in Greece and (distinguished) military service with Gabinius in Syria (58–56), which yield no invective returns. Instead he homes in on an event in 55 that enables him to portray Antony as acting against the interests of the commonwealth and violate principles of Rome’s civic religion.

The point at issue was the succession to the throne of Egypt. In 58, king Ptolemy XII Auletes (the father of Cleopatra VII, Antony’s future lover), who had bought his way to the kingdom of Egypt during Caesar’s consulship in 59, got kicked out of the country by the people and went to Rome to bribe himself back onto the throne. Many members of Rome’s ruling elite licked their chops at the prospect of restoring him to power — cashing in on his bribes and acquiring military glory in the process. In late 57, the senate initially decided to entrust the task to Publius Lentulus Spinther, the governor-elect of Cilicia, but in January 56 a prophetic utterance was discovered in Rome’s collection of Sibylline oracles that threw a wrench in the works: it predicted danger for the commonwealth should the restoration happen by violent means. The senate thereupon cancelled its earlier decree. After much inconclusive manoeuvring, Gabinius, to whom Ptolemy had turned for help as a Roman proconsul in the area with a well-trained fighting force at hand, went all Nike and just did it in 55. According to Plutarch, a decisive voice in convincing the hesitant proconsul to grab the opportunity even without any official endorsement from the senate was Antony (Life of Antony 3): ‘After this, Ptolemy tried to persuade Gabinius by a bribe of ten thousand talents to join him in an invasion of Egypt and recover the kingdom for him. But the greater part of the officers were opposed to the plan, and Gabinius himself felt a certain dread of the war, although he was completely captivated by the ten thousand talents. Antony, however, who was ambitious of great exploits and eager to gratify the request of Ptolemy, joined the king in persuading and inciting Gabinius to the expedition’.

The affair was hardly a decade old, and Cicero could limit himself to the barest allusion (Alexandriam). To what extent Antony’s alleged involvement would have been common knowledge is another question. But he was part of the campaign, which sufficed Cicero to single out three forms of defiance in an unbalanced tricolon, around the anaphora of contra: against the authority of the senate (senatus auctoritas); against the commonwealth (res publica); and against the protocols that regulated Rome’s interaction with the divine sphere (religiones).

senatus auctoritatem: senatus is genitive singular.

sed habebat ducem Gabinium, quicum quidvis rectissime facere posset: the antecedent of quicum (the relative pronoun in the ablative + the preposition cum here used as a postpositive enclitic) is Gabinium. Antony is the subject of habebat and posset (a consecutive subjunctive). The pronoun quidvis, the accusative object of facere, means, literally, ‘anything you want’ (from quid + vis — from volo). The sentence drips with irony, not least in light of the fact that the affair had nasty repercussions for Gabinius, who was put on trial on the triple charge of (a) maiestas (high treason) for leaving his province without senatorial approval and in defiance of the Sibylline Oracles; (b) repetundae (extortion of money, including the bribe he had accepted from Ptolemy); (c) ambitus (illegal means of canvassing for the consulship). The third charge was eventually dropped; of the first he was acquitted; but, despite Cicero’s (!) defence (yes, Pompey, an ally of Gabinius, had ways and means of twisting our orator’s arms at the time), he was found guilty of extortion and had to go into exile.

rectissime: Mayor (1861: 98) deftly glosses the deeply ironic superlative as ‘without the least risk of being called to account’.

qui tum inde reditus [erat] aut qualis? prius in ultimam Galliam ex Aegypto [iit] quam domum [rediit]: the repetition of inde, the renewed suppression of the verb, and the rhetorical question combine to convey an impression of haste: Cicero is speeding through Antony’s biography — just as Antony is speeding across the Near East and Western Europe. Both qui and qualis are interrogative adjectives modifying reditus — a construction difficult to replicate in English: ‘And then what next (tum inde)? His homecoming — what was it like?’ Cicero answers his own question, again in staccato form with the verbs elided. After his successful Egyptian venture, Antony, in 54, went to join Caesar on his campaign in Gaul before returning to Rome.

in ultimam Galliam: ‘to furthest Gaul’ — rather accurate, while also conveniently extreme: in 54 BCE Caesar had to contend with an uprising of the Belgian chieftain Ambiorix.

quae autem domus [erat]?: as Mayor (1861: 99) notes, the autem here has a corrective force: Cicero finished the previous sentence with the idiomatic expression domum redire (‘to return home’), in which domum figures generically to indicate a place rather than a specific property. Cicero now builds on this, asking, ‘Actually, what was that home you returned to anyway?’

suam enim quisque domum tum obtinebat nec erat usquam tua [sc. domus]: the answer to his own rhetorical question revolves around a temporal watershed signaled by the adverb tum: back in the 50s, i.e. before the property confiscations and redistributions that happened in the wake of the civil war that broke out in 49, of which Antony was a major beneficiary, acquiring the former property of Pompey the Great (see §§ 62, 64, 103 and above 150–51), each person (quisque) had their own house (suam… domum) — and yours, Antony (a sudden shift from third to second person), did not exist (nec erat usquam tua).

domum dico? quid erat in terris ubi in tuo pedem poneres praeter unum Misenum, quod cum sociis tamquam Sisaponem tenebas?: Cicero has one more go: ‘Do I keep saying “home”?’, now extending his frame of reference from Rome to elsewhere in Italy or indeed the entire world (in terris). Apparently, in the wake of his father’s bankruptcy, Antony’s family lost all of its property, except a place at Misenum, a promontory in Campania, which he owned jointly with others. In a society in which the aristocratic domus constituted an important symbol of social status and family lineage, the lack of a family home renders Antony unfit for public service: ‘Of course, still today the size and elegance of a house are thought to symbolize status, but the nature of Roman public life dictated that the domus be of markedly greater importance, as implied by some malicious remarks about Roman leaders. Among other things for which Antony is ridiculed in the Second Philippic, Cicero includes the fact that Antony had no domus of his own even before Caesar’s confiscations, when nearly everyone had his own house’.13

ubi in tuo [fundo / praedio] pedem poneres: after in tuo, one could supply a noun such as fundus (‘country estate’) or praedium (‘landed property’, ‘estate’), but in many ways the bare neuter pronoun is the more attractive option: ‘Could you set your foot on any place on earth you could call yours…?’ The alliteration pedem poneres is onomatopoetic, the subjunctive potential.

Misenum: Misenum, the antecedent of quod, should here be understood in the sense of villam Misenensem: see Shackleton Bailey (1986: 63, n. 46). He explains: ‘If Misenum had been a town in its own right an adjectival form would have been used’.

tamquam Sisaponem: Sisaponem stands in apposition to quod: ‘which you own jointly with partners in the same way (tamquam) as Sisapo [sc. is owned]. The reference is to a place in Spain (Hispania Baetica) where cinnabar (vermilion) was mined. The mines were in the possession of a corporation, so no individual was an exclusive owner. Lacy (1986: 193) detects various overtones: the place was a complete backwater in the middle of nowhere, notoriously difficult to reach; the association is of ‘the common dosshouse of a group of partners, not a family home with gods’; and ‘cinnabar dealers were notorious cheats’. And at any rate, what is quite all right in the case of mines (co-ownership) is a disgrace in the case of private property. As Denniston (1926: 128) suggests, we may conjecture that ‘Antony had made over a portion of his property at Misenum, or conceded certain rights over it, to his creditors; and that consequently he was a mere partner in his own property’. In addition, the reference to Spain completes Cicero’s geopolitical sweep, from the farthest East and South (Egypt) to the farthest North (Belgium) to the farthest West (Spain). In the 50s, Antony is adrift in the world, a notional exile, without any place in Rome and hardly a foothold in Italy — precisely what Cicero would like him to become again.

§ 49: Credit for Murder

At the end of the previous paragraph, we left Antony with Caesar in furthest Gaul (54 BCE). Now we have moved on a year: in the summer or fall of 53, Antony returned to Rome to stand for election to the quaestorship. His quest for public office coincided with the hot phase of street brawling between the gangs of Clodius and Milo that ended with the former dead and the latter exiled for his murder. Antony’s role in all of this was marginal at best, but Cicero had his reasons for dwelling on the affair. Antony seems to have blamed him for Clodius’ death — a charge Cicero already rebutted at length in the first half of the speech (2.21–22). § 49 completes the argument by turning the tables on Antony: the one with Clodius’ attempted murder on his CV is Antony, not Cicero. Cicero is at pains to point out yet again that he has no blood on his hands: he has no wish to take credit for any attempt on Clodius’ life, whether it failed (as was the case with Antony’s) or succeeded (Milo’s). There may also have been secondary considerations for returning to Clodius: from the very beginning of the speech, where Cicero imputes to Antony the (perverse) wish to appear more insane than the former tribune (2.1: … furiosior quam Clodius viderere) the two keep company. Any mention of Clodius inevitably also brings to mind Clodius’ spouse Fulvia, who went on to marry Curio after Clodius’ death and then, after Curio died in the civil wars, became Antony’s wife in 46 BCE (see above 178–79): she, too, is a major target of invective abuse throughout the speech.

Chronology: the precise moment of Antony’s return to Rome, his activities in the run-up to his election as quaestor, and indeed the year of his quaestorship, are not easy to determine from our (seemingly conflicting) sources. As Linderski and Kaminska-Linderski point out: ‘We do not know exactly when Antonius left Gaul and returned to Rome ad quaesturam petendam but it was in the period of armed clashes between Milo and Clodius who were canvassing respectively for the consulship and the praetorship. As the consuls for 53 were elected only in July or August of that year, the electoral comitia for 52 could only have been summoned, at the earliest, late in August or in September, and Antonius cannot have come to Rome long before that date’ (1974: 216).14 In their reconstruction of what happened, ‘Antonius came to Rome in 53 with a clear plan to obtain the quaestorship of 52’, but then changed his plans: ‘The Clodius affair caused him to withdraw his candidature for 52 and to stand for 51. On his election in the summer or autumn 52 he hurried to Caesar without waiting for an appropriate senatus consultum’ (223) (see further on § 50 below). Set out schematically, we are dealing with the following likely chronology:15

Late August / September 53

Antony returns to Rome with the intention to stand for the quaestorship

Autumn / Winter 53

Antony gets embroiled in the street-fighting around Clodius and his gang and on one occasion almost kills Clodius; he decides to postpone standing for the quaestorship

18 January 52 + aftermath

Clodius gets killed by Milo’s slaves in a street brawl | this is followed by popular unrest; Pompey is declared consul sine collega

April 52

Trial of Milo, with Cicero acting on behalf of the defence and Antony as a member of the prosecution

Summer / Autumn 52

Antony gets elected to the quaestorship for 51 and right away returns to Caesar in Gaul, without waiting for the passing of the senatorial decree on the assignment of the quaestors to specific provinces, the Senatus Consultum de provinciis quaestorum (Cicero picks up on this in § 50: see below)

5 December 52

The tenure of Antony’s quaestorship begins

Favours and (political) friendships: much in § 49 involves key social protocols that governed aristocratic interaction in republican Rome. Friendship networks and patronage-relations were a big part of how the Roman elite exercised power, resulting in an economy of favours and services received and rendered, frequently with shifting alliances. In order to be a successful patron, it helped to be on good terms with as many other members of the ruling elite as possible. And it often happened that people who disliked each other and had significant run-ins saw themselves helping each other and collaborating at the request of a third party. In the 50s, the triumvirs, and Caesar in particular, twisted Cicero’s arm, forcing him to lend his support to individuals he deemed repulsive and despicable, such as Gabinius. One of the favours that Caesar asked of Cicero was reconciliation with Antony. Cicero obliged (no choice), but here pretends that Antony, on account of the favour he received from Cicero at Caesar’s behest, i.e. support in his candidacy for the quaestorship, tried to return it by having a shot at killing Clodius, one of Cicero’s arch-enemies.

venis e Gallia ad quaesturam petendam: Cicero switches to the present tense (venis) for vividness. ad here expresses purpose: ‘(in order) to stand as candidate for the quaestorship’. petere is a technical term for ‘seeking to obtain a specific magistracy’, ‘being a candidate for’, ‘standing for election to’: OLD s.v. 9. If the chronology suggested above is correct, Antony started his canvassing campaign in 53 (for tenure in 52), but — for whatever reason — was not elected (and did not stand as a candidate?) until 52 (and assumed office in 51). Cicero, in his summary approach to those years, is unconcerned with such niceties.

aude dicere te prius ad parentem tuam venisse quam ad me [venisses]: aude, the imperative singular of audeo, to dare, governs the supplementary infinitive dicere, which introduces an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and venisse as infinitive. This is followed by a temporal clause introduced by quam (set up by prius). (The conjugation priusquam (‘before’) may be written as two words (prius quam), which — as here — may be separated by intervening words: see OLD s.v.) Cicero elides the verb of the priusquam-clause, but it can easily be supplied from context. Cicero dares Antony to deny that after his prolonged absence from Rome he knocked at Cicero’s door to enlist help in a bid for the quaestorship before calling on his mother Julia (note that tuam, modifying the gender-neutral parentem, is feminine: Antony’s father had already died).

acceperam iam ante Caesaris litteras ut mihi satis fieri paterer a te: itaque ne loqui quidem sum te passus de gratia: to smoothe the ground, Caesar anticipated the meeting between Antony and Cicero by sending Cicero a letter (litteras — litterae is a plural noun), requesting that he respond positively to Antony’s efforts to make amends for his earlier hostility. Cicero obliged Caesar to the extent that he waived off Antony’s attempt to explain himself and re-establish friendly relations.

Extra Information: a republic of letters16

You might wonder about this ‘politics by letter’ we capture in this paragraph — it looks kind of seedy, doesn’t it; a special variant of nepotism by which influential members of the ruling elite fixed things in the dark corridors of power, away from the public limelight — the ancient equivalent to a special ‘phone call’ in modern times, which happens to be more important than merit or interview performance in determining (say) the outcome of a job search. The fact is, the volume of correspondence that flowed to and from Rome in late-republican times was significant and constituted an important medium for doing politics. Members of Rome’s oligarchy performed their role as patrons via an economy of favours granted and received, and the letter proved an ideal format to make personal requests or issue recommendations (i.e. requests on behalf of others). It offered an intuitive medium of interaction for a ruling elite that had much invested in the cultivation of networks grounded in ‘friendship’, tactical and otherwise.17 The tropes routinely invoked to characterize friendship tend to be similar to the commonplaces employed to describe ideal epistolary dialogue: most obviously, friendship and epistolary ideology are much invested in the mirror-effect that assimilates the interacting parties (friends, senders and receivers) to one another. Many of the concerns and values of the senatorial elite (face, status, obligations; a commitment to oligarchic equality; consensual politics; cultivation of friendly relations through care and courtesy, including the investment of time) found congenial articulation in and through the writing of letters and manifest themselves in the ‘politics of politeness’ that defined epistolary discourse among Roman aristocrats.18

Letter-writing in republican Rome thus reflected and helped to sustain the rule of a senatorial elite, enacting a set of aristocratic values that resonated with key principles of republican government. Yet the practice of elite letter-writing also stood in latent tension to public procedures and civic institutions of the commonwealth, owing to the tendency of the genre to ‘personalize politics’. And one power broker, who also happened to be a particularly gifted and active pen pal, ultimately managed to destroy the oligarchic equilibrium that sustained the senatorial tradition of republican government, not least through his strategic use of epistolary communication. As John Henderson and Josiah Osgood have shown, Caesar exercised his stranglehold on Roman politics during his decade-long absence from Rome while on campaign in Gaul in the 50s BCE, not least through an active correspondence with key associates in the capital.19 A special gift for multi-tasking and discursive speed enabled him to produce a steady stream of letters. In addition, already in the 50s, he seems to have innovated in how he organized his staff, instituting a special position for a high-ranking secretary reminiscent of a practice known from the royal courts of the Hellenistic period.20 And the importance of long-distance communication did not lessen during the years of civil warfare: during the five-year period between his crossing of the Rubicon in January 49 and his assassination on the Ides of March 44, Caesar was only sporadically present in Rome.

ut mihi satis fieri paterer a te: literally ‘that I allow [paterer = 1st person singular imperfect subjunctive passive of the deponent patior, introducing an indirect statement] that attention be given [satis fieri or satisfieri: present infinitive passive of satisfacere] by you [a te: ablative of agency] to me [mihi]’. Differently put: ‘Caesar asked me not to send you packing when you’d come knocking at my door’.

itaque ne loqui quidem sum te passus de gratia: the main verb is passus sum; it introduces an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and loqui (framed by ne… quidem: ‘not even’) as infinitive. de gratia goes with loqui. Literally: ‘Therefore I allowed you not even to speak about [re-establishing] friendly relations’, i.e. because he had already granted the request on the basis of Caesar’s letter, though in English the negation in ne… quidem is perhaps best used with passus sum: ‘Therefore I did not even allow you to speak about…’. The hyperbaton between loqui and de gratia is expressive of the lack of need to put the request for renewed friendship into words. Likewise, the word order sum te passus seems to smother Antony, as Cicero generates the impression that he is a plaything in the diplomatic relations of more important statesmen, such as Caesar and himself.

postea sum cultus a te, tu a me observatus [es] in petitione quaesturae: the imperfect balance of personal pronouns (there is no ego corresponding to tu) might hint at the fact that the ensuing period of collaboration rested on shaky foundations — as do the two passive verbs (sum cultus; observatus), which are chiastically positioned around the two ablatives of agency (a te :: a me).

quo quidem tempore P. Clodium [approbante populo Romano] in foro es conatus occidere, cumque eam rem tua sponte conarere, non impulsu meo, tamen ita praedicabas, te non existimare, nisi illum interfecisses, umquam mihi pro tuis in me iniuriis satis esse facturum: a potentially confusing sentence: the main clause (underlined) consists of two parts linked by the -que after cum: quo quidem tempore P. Clodium … in foro es conatus occidere and tamen ita praedicabas. The cum-clause functions as bridge between the two segments of the main clause: eam rem refers back to Antony’s attempt to kill Clodius; and the adversative sense of cum (‘even though’) sets up tamen ita praedicabas. praedicabas governs an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and existimare as infinitive, which in turn governs an indirect statement with an understood te as subject accusative and satis esse facturum as verb. This last indirect statement also functions as apodosis of a conditional sequence, with nisi illum interfecisses as protasis: ‘It was just at that time that, with the approval of the Roman people, you attempted to kill Publius Clodius in the Forum, and, although you attempted that deed at your own initiative, and not at my instigation, you still professed that you thought that, except by killing him, you could never make amends for your wrongs against me’.

quo quidem tempore P. Clodium … in foro es conatus occidere: quo is a connecting relative (= eo). The moment in time indicated by the ablative of time quo… tempore (qualified by the particle quidem: Antony’s support of Cicero is the exception, not the rule) is suitably vague, but falls in the autumn of 53 BCE, i.e. shortly after Antony’s return from Gaul. Cicero had already mentioned the incident in his speech in defence of Milo (pro Milone 40).

approbante populo Romano: an ablative absolute; whatever approval from the people Cicero claims for Antony’s failed attack on Clodius’ life, the populace felt outraged over Clodius’ death at the hands of Milo.

cumque eam rem tua sponte conarere, non impulsu meo: the verb of the concessive cum-clause is conarere, the alternative 2nd person singular imperfect subjunctive passive of the first-conjugation deponent conor, conari (= conareris). It is framed by the contrastive chiasmus (a) tua (b) sponte :: non (b) impulsu (a) meo. Cicero insists that he did not instigate Antony in any way to try to kill Clodius; his emphasis on Antony deciding by himself to make an attempt on Clodius’ life sets up the following sentence where Cicero rebuts Antony’s claim that he put Milo onto it.

pro tuis in me iniuriis: Cicero now gives an account of the rationale for Antony’s failed attempt at homicide, which runs something as follows: (a) in the past Antony inflicted grievous iniuriae on Cicero; (b) now Cicero nevertheless does his best to help Antony out, if at the behest of Caesar; (c) Antony feels that he has accumulated such an amount of social debt — consisting of favours from Cicero compounded by his earlier mistreatment of him — that, he feels, he can only repay it by murdering Cicero’s personal enemy Clodius. It is not entirely clear, however, what these iniuriae are; and there is indeed no evidence for personal enmity between Cicero and Antony until after the outbreak of civil war in 49, i.e. long after Clodius’ actual demise. Cicero, it seems, plays fast and loose with chronology, most likely (as the subsequent sentence makes clear) in response to Antony’s charge that it was he who egged on Clodius’ actual killer, Milo (and was also the brain behind the assassination of Caesar) — the éminence grise, in other words, who does not shy away from instigating murder to suit his political turns.

in quo demiror cur Milonem impulsu meo rem illam egisse dicas, cum te ultro mihi idem illud deferentem numquam sim adhortatus: Cicero picks up on the previous antithesis tua sponte – non impulsu meo to reiterate his rebuttal of Antony’s charge that he incited Milo to murder Clodius (cf. 2.21, cited above). Given that Cicero never made any move to encourage Antony along those lines even though Antony freely volunteered his services, it makes no sense to assume that he tried to incite Milo. The sense of both the cum-clause and of the participle deferentem (modifying te, the accusative object of sim adhortatus) is concessive: ‘even though I never encouraged you despite the fact that you offered that same deed (just like rem illam above and below, idem illud refers to the killing of Clodius) to me of your own accord’.

in quo: a connecting relative (= in eo): ‘in this affair’.

demiror: Cicero uses the composite (de-miror) for emphasis: ‘I am utterly baffled…’

cur Milonem impulsu meo rem illam egisse dicas: cur introduces an indirect question (hence the subjunctive). dicas governs an indirect statement with Milonem as subject accusative, egisse as infinitive and rem illam (= the killing of Clodius) as object accusative.

quamquam, si in eo perseverares, ad tuam gloriam rem illam referri malebam quam ad meam gratiam: quamquam here introducing a main clause, elaborating on the previous point that Cicero never gave any encouragement to Antony’s homicidal plans and certainly would not have wished to take credit for the killing had he succeeded. The moods and tenses of the conditional sequence (imperfect subjunctive in the protasis: perseverares; imperfect indicative in the apodosis: malebam, from malo, malle — ‘prefer’) reflect the fact that Cicero is looking at the possibility of Antony’s managing to kill Clodius from a past point of view: ‘in case you persevered, I preferred that the deed be assigned to your glory rather than my influence’ (see Gildersleeve and Lodge 383). gratia here refers to the influence over Antony that Cicero acquired by supporting his candidacy for the quaestorship — doing away with Clodius is thus Antony’s idea of returning a favour, a murderous expression of misconceived gratitude, which Cicero gracefully declines, preferring Antony to take full credit for the deed. As Griffin and Atkins (1991: xlv–xlvi) explain: ‘Gratia draws its meaning from the social network of friendships and other relationships bound by exchange of services. Someone who is in a position to grant benefits or give assistance has gratia in that he has influence or the potential to command gratitude. Someone who has already granted someone else a benefit has gratia in that, according to the public code, he deserves gratitude’. The key here is that there is a coercive element to gratia: someone who has received a favour is in ‘debt’ and expected to reciprocate to balance the sheets.

rem illam: yet another reference to the murder of Clodius, following on from eam rem, rem illam and idem illud.

§ 50: With Caesar in Gaul: Profligacy and Profiteering

In § 47 Cicero announced that he intends to treat the portion of Antony’s biography that falls in-between his depravities as a teenager and the role he played in the civil war cursorily: ad haec enim quae in civili bello, in maximis rei publicae miseriis fecit, et ad ea quae cotidie facit, festinat animus. Barely three paragraphs later, we reach this moment. The first half of § 50 (quaestor es factus… viri tui similis esses) traces Antony’s return to Caesar in Gaul after his election to the quaestorship in the autumn of 52 and his return to stand for election to another magistracy, the tribuneship. Antony succeeded in getting himself elected and entered office on 10 December 50. A few weeks later, on 10 January 49, Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his army.

Cicero gets much invective mileage out of Antony’s role in plunging Rome into civil war. To prep his readers properly, he pauses portentously for an impassioned address to his senatorial audience (accipite nunc, quaesoreperieties). The address, which makes up the rest of the paragraph, introduces a lengthy assessment of a decision Antony made as a tribune of the people in the increasingly convulsive negotiations over Caesar’s status (and his demands) that preceded the outbreak of war. When Antony and some of his colleagues in office, who had used their position as tribunes to represent Caesar’s interests, including the veto of certain senatorial measures designed to rein in the strongman, felt that their safety had become compromised, they fled Rome to join Caesar at Ravenna. This offered Caesar the perfect pretext to initiate hostilities — he could spin his aggression as motivated by the desire to safeguard the constitutional rights of the tribunes of the people, i.e. to defend republican traditions against the tyrannical exercise of power by an oligarchic clique around Pompey. In §§ 51–55 (not part of the set text) Cicero dwells at length on this momentous action by the pro-Caesarian tribunes, and in particular Antony, turning Antony into the ultimate cause of Rome’s collapse into civil conflict and constitutional chaos.

quaestor es factus: deinde continuo sine senatus consulto, sine sorte, sine lege ad Caesarem cucurristi: after his election, Antony ‘almost immediately’ (continuo) returned to Caesar in Gaul. Cicero represents the departure as an outrageous breach of constitutional protocols: the asyndetic tricolon, reinforced powerfully by the triple anaphora of the preposition sine (further enhanced by the alliteration with senatus and sorte) gives the impression that Antony trampled upon tradition in his rush from the city. This was not the case. To understand Cicero’s spin here requires some understanding of the procedure that governed the assignment of elected quaestors to provinces. As Linderski and Kaminska-Linderski (1974: 221) explain, quaestors could be assigned directly to a specific province by senatorial decree (senatus consultum); allocation of the remaining ones would happen by lot (sorte) on the date of their entry into the office. They accordingly reconstruct the events in 51 as follows:

  • Autumn 52: Antony gets elected to the quaestorship; Caesar requests that he be assigned to him.
  • Shortly after the election: Antony leaves Rome to join Caesar in Gaul, assuming, rightly, that his assignment to Caesar by senatorial decree is a mere formality.
  • Shortly after his departure: the senate passes a senatus consultum that indeed ratifies Antony’s assignment to Caesar’s provinces. (See Linderski and Kaminska-Linderski (1974: 220–21): ‘Cicero does not say that such a decree was not passed | at all; indeed the implication is that it was in fact carried out but only after Antonius had already left the city’).
  • 5 December 52: those quaestors as yet unassigned are distributed to provinces by lot.

The sentence thus offers a brilliant illustration of Cicero’s gift for spin, i.e. the ability to twist unobjectionable facts and harmless truths into invective, without lying outright. Antony did indeed rush to Caesar sine senatus consulto [Cicero simply fails to mention that such a decree was supplied shortly thereafter], sine sorte [true, of course, but utterly unobjectionable: Antony had no need to wait for the sortitio provinciarum since he was about to be assigned a province by senatorial decree], and sine lege [a vague phrase that is technically true, gives the impression of constitutional outrage, but does not really apply in any meaningful way to the case at hand]. What was ‘a minor constitutional impropriety’ (Antony leaving Rome without waiting for the official passing of the senatorial decree, which anyway ‘was a matter of administrative routine’: Linderski and Kaminska-Linderski 1974: 221) gets turned into eloquent outrage at Antony’s alleged depravity.

continuo: the temporal adverb is worth pausing over: ‘The word is commonly rendered as “immediately”; Cicero, however, … uses it often to indicate that between two closely connected events no other event occurred bearing upon them. Thus the length of time indicated by continuo may vary considerably, as is also true of other similar expressions like mox and nuper. The exact meaning of the passage would be that in the period of time between Antonius’ election and his departure from Rome no decree of the senate was passed concerning the quaestorian provinces and no sortitio provinciarum took place’ (Linderski and Kaminska-Linderski 1974: 220).

senatus consulto: senatus (a fourth declension noun) is genitive singular, depending on consulto.

sine sorte: for sorting out the lot in republican Rome, see Rosenstein (1995).

sine lege: ‘without any legal justification’ (Linderski and Kaminska-Linderski, 1974: 220, n. 37).

ad Caesarem cucurristi: the passage here anticipates another, more consequential flight to Caesar — on the eve of civil war in January 49 BCE. Cicero will shortly shift his focus from the domestic to the civic sphere, using (Antony’s two flights to) Caesar as a bridge.

id enim unum in terris egestatis, aeris alieni, nequitiae perditis vitae rationibus perfugium esse ducebas: the pronoun id has a somewhat vague reference (‘being in Gaul with Caesar’), as Cicero continues his geopolitical vilification of Antony from the previous paragraph. In § 48, we encountered Antony adrift, without a moral or geographical centre, and here we get more of the same. Caesar’s headquarters are the only place on earth able to afford Antony protection against the consequences of his vices and profligacy. ducere here has the sense ‘to consider, believe, think, reckon’ (OLD s.v. 30) and governs an indirect statement with id unum as subject accusative, esse as infinitive, and perfugium as predicative complement.

id… unum: unum modifies id in predicative attribution; English here prefers the adverb rather than the adjective: ‘this alone’ rather than ‘this one’ (see Gildersleeve & Lodge 204–06).

in terris: terra in the plural can refer, as here, to ‘the earth with all that it contains, the known or inhabited world’ (OLD s.v. 9).

egestatis, aeris alieni, nequitiae … perfugium: the OLD s.v. perfugium 2a lists this passage as an example of perfugium being construed with genitives that indicate the items that receive protection, but that doesn’t sound quite right. It’s not that Antony wishes to protect his penury, debt, and moral worthlessness — quite the contrary, as the next sentence makes clear. The genitives are better understood as qualities or circumstances that require Antony to seek protection. (See e.g. Div. 2.150: perfugium videtur omnium laborum ac sollicitudinum esse somnus — ‘Sleep is regarded as a refuge from every toil and care’.)

egestatis: the lexeme egestas (‘extreme poverty’, ‘destitution’) carries opprobrium. The late-antique commentary on Virgil that goes under the name Servius Auctus notes a propos Georgics 1.146: peior est egestas, quam paupertas: paupertas enim honesta esse potest, egestas enim turpis est (‘egestas is worse than paupertas: for paupertas can be honourable, egestas is shameful’). Unsurprisingly, Cicero exploits its pejorative connotations for his invective agenda: ‘The word egestas has a bad odour in the public orations of Cicero…; for him and his aristocratic audiences it denoted one of the prime causes of political radicalism’ (Jocelyn 1967: 398). In the speech de Provinciis Consularibus, for instance, he vilifies the scelus, cupiditas, egestas, audacia of the two consuls of 58, Piso and Gabinius (43). See also Philippic 2.62: cogebat egestas.

nequitiae: nequitia is a catch-all term applied to persons of bad moral fiber (‘worthlessness’) that manifests itself in such characteristics as idleness (in this sense it becomes a calling card of the elegiac lover), negligence, vileness, profligacy, or wickedness. (In his Tusculan Disputations 3.17–18, Cicero defines nequitia as the antonym of frugalitas and offers a faux-etymological explication of the term.)

perfugium: in his Bellum Civile (if not before), Caesar fashioned himself as offering a place of safety to those in distress. At Bellum Civile 1.6, he notably writes of events in early January 49, i.e. just before the outbreak of the civil war: profugiunt statim ex urbe tribuni plebis seseque ad Caesarem conferunt: ‘instantly, the tribunes of the people fled from the city and went to Caesar’. One of the tribunes was of course Antony. See also Sallust, Bellum Catilinae 54.3, in his contrastive comparison of Caesar and Cato: Caesar dando sublevando ignoscundo, Cato nihil largiundo gloriam adeptus est. in altero miseris perfugium erat, in altero malis pernicies (‘Caesar gained glory by giving, helping, and forgiving; Cato by never stooping to bribery. One was a refuge for the unfortunate, the other a scourge for the wicked’). For Sallust, both Caesar’s support for the wretched (those who had fallen on hard times without their fault) and Cato’s uncompromising attitude towards evil-doers seem positive qualities; Cicero is less forgiving. For him, the perfugium that Caesar offers to someone like Antony discredits the future dictator as well. Later on in the speech, he makes the point explicitly, in language that recalls the present passage (§ 78): habebat hoc omnino Caesar: quem plane perditum aere alieno egentemque, si eundem nequam hominem audacemque cognorat, hunc in familiaritatem libentissime recipiebat (‘This was entirely Caesar’s way: when a man was utterly ruined by debt and in want, if he recognised in that man an audacious rascal, he most willingly admitted him into his friendship’).

perditis vitae rationibus: Cicero uses the expression perdita ratio (as antonym to bona ratio) at in Catilinam 2.25, in the sense of ‘reckless (perdita) guiding principle’ (ratio): see Dyck (2008: 159). Here the meaning seems to be: ‘after you have ruined any (possibility for a) normal way of life’. (See OLD s.v. ratio 13: ratio vitae ~ ‘a plan or pattern of life’, i.e. a way of life that conforms to rational and socially acceptable principles).

ibi te cum et illius largitionibus et tuis rapinis explevisses, si hoc est explere, haurire quod statim effundas, advolasti egens ad tribunatum, ut in eo magistratu, si posses, viri tui similis esses: the period begins with a temporal cum-clause (ibi te cum… explevisses), attached to which is a si-clause that segues into a quod-clause (si hoc est… effundas); then comes the main clause (advolasti egens ad tribunatum), followed by a purpose clause introduced by ut; embedded therein is another si-clause (si posses). Cicero keeps Antony in constant motion: in his frenetic profligacy, the wastrel somehow manages to gorge himself rich in Gaul through Caesar’s munificence and his own criminal exploitations only to instantly regurgitate all of his newfound wealth and fly back to the capital in the same state of disgraceful penury in which he left it (an ‘achievement’ marked by the figura etymologica egestatis  egens).

illius largitionibus: like its near synonym liberalitas, largitio (‘generosity’), the noun to the adjective largus (‘munificent, bountiful, lavish’) and the deponent largior, -iri, -itus (‘to give generously, bestow, lavish’, but also ‘to give presents corruptly, engage in bribery’) could be used in both a positive and a negative sense. A generous spirit, perhaps even the open-handed distribution of personal wealth among the less fortunate, are in principal praiseworthy qualities, but in late-republican Rome (and elsewhere), the bestowal of largesse by powerful members of the ruling elite among peers and subordinates also constituted a form of expenditure with an obvious political motivation: it generated ties that bound the recipients into an economy of services via an ethics of reciprocity. And no-one was more adept in buying in personal loyalty than Caesar. His ‘generosity to his lieutenants and troops … was notorious in his own day, naturally arousing suspicions among his peers and rivals’ (Pelling (2011: 214), with reference to Cic. Att. 7.11.9 (130), 8.14.1 (164), Fam. 7.13.1 (36), Phil. 2.50 and 116, and Catullus 29.3). In some places, Cicero differentiates between positive liberalitas and negative largitio, while conceding that in practice it is often impossible to tell the two apart: see e.g. On the Ideal Orator (de Oratore) 2.105: de ambitu raro illud datur, ut possis liberalitatem atque benignitatem ab ambitu atque largitione seiungere — ‘in cases involving bribery at elections it is rarely possible to distinguish open-handedness and generosity from bribery and corruption’). But in his On Duties (de Officiis), Cicero condemns liberalitas in the sense of the unfettered use of resources: to build up networks of friends grounded in material obligations is a proto-tyrannical feature corrosive of oligarchic equality within Rome’s senatorial elite. (A third term of similar semantic range as liberalitas and largitio, i.e. munificentia, ‘seems to have escaped any connotations of bribery, even though it often pertains to gifts of significant proportions made by the politically powerful’: Forbis 1996: 34. See further Coffee 2016: 82–85).

Extra information:

Catullus 29 offers a ‘no-holds barred’ critique of the sleaze economy by which Rome’s generals (in this case Pompey and Caesar) bled dry conquered people not least to subsidize revolting, if loyal, underlings at Rome (in this case Mamurra, whom Catullus elsewhere calls ‘Rome’s greatest dick’). Note the reference to sinistra liberalitas in line 15.

tuis rapinis: one of the ‘perks’ of being in cahoots with a successful general was the opportunity to profit from imperial exploitation through plunder and booty (which of course also funded the largitio of the commander).

si hoc est explere, haurire quod statim effundas: hoc est = id est, with the infinitive explere as predicative complement, which is then glossed in apposition by haurire quod statim effundas: ‘if this is what is meant by explere (“to stuff oneself full”), namely to gulp down (haurire) what one then instantly regurgitates’.

ut in eo magistratu, si posses, viri tui similis esses: Curio, Antony’s ‘husband’ (that’s the meaning of viri tui, a little splatter of invective bile in the spirit of 2.44–47), preceded him in the tribuneship, holding it in 50 BCE.

accipite nunc, quaeso, non ea quae ipse in se atque in domesticum decus impure et intemperanter [fecit], sed quae in nos fortunasque nostras, id est in universam rem publicam, impie ac nefarie fecerit: the sentence is not easy to construe given that we have a relative clause that lacks a verb (non ea quae… intemperanter), followed by an indirect question (quae… fecerit). Some scholars have detected an anacoluthon here, i.e. an unexpected discontinuity of syntactical structure: see Ramsey (2003: 309). But as Roland Mayer (2005: 200) has shown, the syntax can be made to work without us needing to suppose a change of construction: ‘Accipite governs two objects, first ea quae …, then an indirect question, which grammatically considered is a noun-clause. That the relative clause implicitly borrows its indicative verb, fecit, from the subjunctive verb of the indirect question, fecerit, is certainly nonchalant, but the syntax of the sentence has not gone off the rails’. Quite the contrary: the relative clause and the indirect question correlate Antony’s disastrous personal track-record in the domestic sphere (just covered) with his calamitous impact on the commonwealth (about to come into focus). Cicero here makes use of ‘the powerful idea that a man’s public behaviour will be all of a piece with his conduct in the private sphere’: Treggiari (1997). Analogous design aids the (climactic) transition: in both subordinate clauses, Cicero uses pleonastic phrasing to specify the target of Antony’s brutish and brutalizing behaviour (in se atque in domesticum decus ~ in nos fortunasque nostras) and indicate its nature (impure et intemperanter ~ impie ac nefarie), given further coherence by anaphora (quadruple use of the preposition in + accusative) and alliteration (see underlining).

in se atque in domesticum decus: see Thomas (2007: 96): ‘In connection with a se, domesticum decus sets out the stakes of Antony’s behaviour for those who keep his company: even such a florentissima familia as the Curiones (Phil. 2.46) risks a loss of social esteem. Such fear is the reason why domesticum decus designates “domestic honour”, that is, the exact opposite of dedecus (“shame”). The loss of decus has an important role to play: it is one of the consequences of Antony’s political monstrosity, which is at the core of the second Philippic’.21

impure et intemperanter: the basic meaning of impurus is ‘unclean’, ‘filthy’, ‘foul’ and is a standard epithet that Cicero attaches to his enemies. See e.g. in Catilinam 2.23: in his gregibus omnes aleatores, omnes adulteri, omnes impuri impudicique versantur. It can — but does not have to — have religious connotations (see e.g. Cic. Dom. 104: quam (sc. religionem) tu impurissime taeterrimeque violasti). Here it sets up the climactic use of impie in the indirect question — just as intemperanter prepares the ground for nefarie. (Cicero also uses it of Antony at Phil. 1.12.)

in nos fortunasque nostras: ‘against us and our fortunes’, with fortunae carrying the sense of ‘prosperous living conditions’

id est in universam rem publicam: universa res publica means ‘the whole / entire commonwealth’ and often figures as the catch-all frame of reference that concludes the enumeration of more specific items that form part of the public sphere (here nos and fortunae nostrae). Ramsey (2003: 235) suggests that ‘id est is here corrective, equivalent to uel potius [‘or rather’]’, but the sense is arguably stronger if one takes id est as a simple specification: it would then cater to the deeply engrained habit of Rome’s senatorial elite to identify their own well-being with that of the res publica as a whole. For a more elaborate example see in Catilinam 4.24 (the final paragraph of the speech, addressed to the people): quapropter de summa salute vestra populique Romani, de vestris coniugibus ac liberis, de aris ac focis, de fanis atque templis de totius urbis tectis ac sedibus, de imperio ac libertate, de salute Italiae, de universa re publica decernite diligenter, ut instituistis, ac fortiter (‘With the care, therefore, and the courage that you have displayed from the beginning, take your decision upon the salvation of yourselves and of the Roman people, upon your wives and children, your altars and hearths, your shrines and temples, the buildings and homes of the entire city, your dominion and your freedom, the safety of Italy and upon the whole Republic’).

impie ac nefarie: the two terms reiterate and intensify impure et intemperanter: ‘impure’ has become ‘impious’; and ‘reckless’ has been upgraded to ‘blasphemous’. (nefarie derives from nefas, which means ‘an offence against divine law, an impious act, sacrilege’.) Antony now is a full-blown religious criminal.

ab huius enim scelere omnium malorum principium natum [esse] reperietis: ab scelere is an ablative of origin with natum: ‘you will find that the beginning of all evils arose from the crime of this man!’

§ 78: Caesar’s Approach to HR, or Why Antony Has What it Takes

In March 45, Antony left Narbo in Southern Gaul for a surprise visit to Rome that caused some consternation in the city, not least because the reasons for his arrival in the capital remained unclear. Some feared that he had come as a henchman of Caesar, perhaps to prepare the ground for reprisals or even proscriptions. Cicero comments on the situation in a letter to Atticus (12.19.2 = 257 SB, 14 March 45), mentioning that Balbus and Oppius, two of Caesar’s chief lieutenants, wrote to him with reassurances that Antony’s sudden appearance in Rome was nothing to worry about. In the event, Antony felt obliged to announce publicly that he arrived on personal business and not at the behest of Caesar. In §§ 77–78a, Cicero elaborates on what this ‘personal business’ consisted in, suggesting that Antony desired to tell his wife Fulvia that he had stopped seeing his mistress; and that he was still struggling to service his debts and wanted to prevent the selling of his sureties. (He only mentions the latter when he speculates about Antony’s motives for the surprise visit in a letter to Atticus 12.18a.1 = 256 SB: … sed tamen opinor propter praedes suos accucurrisse — ‘… but I imagine he has hurried up to save his sureties’.)

Much of Cicero’s account — especially Antony’s confession of love to his wife Fulvia — is held in a low, comic key, and Cicero himself dismisses the affair, after emphasizing how much grievance and upset it caused to everyone else in Rome and Italy, as trifles (nugae) — a mere warm-up act for far more serious matters (maiora). The set text picks up halfway through § 78, when Antony (we are now in the summer of 45) left Rome again to meet Caesar on his way back from Spain, where he squashed the last republican resistance. Cicero alleges that there had been a cooling off in their relationship (§§ 71–77), but Antony’s ‘credentials’ (bankruptcy and moral depravity) were such that Caesar was overjoyed to re-establish friendly terms and make Antony the renewed beneficiary of his patronage. The paragraph thus also contains yet another scathing indictment of Caesar’s malign politics of friendship. It is important to note, however, that the estrangement between Caesar and Antony in 46–45 BCE (and hence also the reconciliation) is a malicious fiction put into circulation by Cicero to desparage Antony. Once we discount his invective aspersions all the evidence points to continuing excellent relations between Caesar and one of his most trusted lieutenants, who was in charge of liquidating Pompey’s assets during this period, a challenging task designed to raise much needed cash for Caesar’s military operations.22

Et domi quidem causam amoris habuisti, foris etiam turpiorem [causam habuisti], ne L. Plancus praedes tuos venderet: literally, ‘and at home indeed you had the excuse of love’, with amoris as a genitive of definition, though a more natural idiom in English would be to say ‘you had love as an excuse’. causam also has to be supplied with turpiorem. The comparative makes it clear that ‘love’ is no excuse at all, but a disgraceful motivation; its only redeeming feature is that there are even worse. foris plays off domi, etiam plays off quidem.

domi: a locative.

foris etiam turpiorem: causam and habuisti need to be supplied from the previous clause.

L. Plancus: Lucius Munatius Plancus was one of the six or eight ‘city prefects’ (praefecti urbi) to whom Caesar entrusted public business before his departure for Spain late in 46 BCE. He happened to be in charge of debt management, fulfilling a function usually performed by the praetor urbanus. He began his career as a legate of Caesar in 54, held the consulship in 42, and continued to do well under Augustus, being appointed censor in 22. In January, 27 BCE, it was Plancus who proposed the motion that the senate confer the cognomen Augustus on Caesar Octavianus. See further Watkins (1997) and Nisbet-Hubbard (1970: 90–94).

praedes tuos: in §§ 71–74 Cicero generates the impression that Caesar increasingly leaned on Antony to make him pay up for the property of Pompey which he had acquired at auction — which Antony struggled to do. Upon his departure for Spain, Caesar extended the deadline for payment (§ 74), but then, according to the scenario supposed here, nevertheless instructed Plancus to sell the property of those who had stood surety for Antony (praedes tuos) to recover the money.

productus autem in contionem a tribuno pl. cum respondisses te rei tuae causa venisse, populum etiam dicacem in te reddidisti: the sentence starts with a cum-clause (the conjunction is much delayed), into which the perfect participle productus belongs. The verb of the cum-clause, respondisses, introduces an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and venisse as infinitive. The verb of the main clause (reddidisti) takes an accusative object (populum) and a predicate (dicacem): ‘to render something / someone such and such’.

productus autem in contionem a tribuno pl[ebis]: only elected officials had the right to convene a public assembly (contio) and permit private citizens to speak to the people. Most likely, Antony asked the tribune to convene the meeting, but through the passive construction and the choice of verb (respondisses) Cicero makes it out as if Antony was asked by the tribune to justify his actions in front of the people.

rei tuae causa: we are likely dealing with another scurrilous double entendre here, with res tua referring to Antony’s ‘junk’. See Barr (1981: 422–23):

The question at once arises, can res = membrum virile be attested elsewhere? I believe it can. Cicero, in Philippic 2,77f., describing Marcus Antonius’ hasty return from Narbo in 45 to the great alarm of Italy and the city of Rome, relates how Antonius, with elaborate precautions, presented himself to his wife Fulvia and effected a tearful reconciliation. Two reasons for Antonius’ return are put forward by Cicero: et domi quidem causam amoris habuisti, foris etiam turpiorem ne L. Plancus praedes tuos venderet (78). When Antonius in a contio is challenged by a tribune to explain his conduct, the unfortunate wording of his reply evidently afforded the populace an opportunity to exercise its wit: productus autem in contionem a tribuno plebis cum respondisses te rei tuae causa venisse, populum etiam dicacem in te reddidisti (78). J. D. Denniston in his edition of the speech (Oxford, 1926) ad loc. thinks the joke consists in the fact that Antonius notoriously had no res (‘property’) to speak of. What made the people dicax at Antonius’ expense, however, was surely not his endowment in respect of property, but in another respect suggested by the ambiguity of res, and Cicero, unwilling to let the joke rest there, underlines the point in the neat innuendo of the formula of transition that immediately follows: sed nimis multa de nugis: ad maiora veniamus! (78).

dicacem: dicax, from a morphological point of view the combination of the verb stem dic- + ax, refers to the ability to deliver witty (and often cutting) repartee. It is associated with urban sophistication from Plautus onwards. See Truculentus 682–83: iam postquam in urbem crebro commeo, | dicax sum factus (‘Now that I come into the city often, I have become witty’). But essentially populus dicax is a paradox: refinement and sophistication tend to be the preserve of an exclusive elite, fostering a culture of aesthetic distinctions grounded in (educational) privilege. It’s the same as saying a snail will make you look speedy — by comparison.

in te: ‘at your own expense’.

sed nimis multa de nugis: ad maiora veniamus: in the first clause, Cicero omits the verb (dico / dicimus: ‘but [I am talking] too much about trivialities’) and follows this up with a self-exhortation (veniamus is an exhortative subjunctive): the ellipsis is appropriate at a moment when Cicero cuts himself short: brevity is a virtue. multa (a reference to quantity) and de nugis (a reference to quality) set up ad maiora, the implication being that what Cicero has to say about the more important matters will be spot-on.

multa: accusative neuter plural, the accusative object of the implied verb.

C. Caesari ex Hispania redeunti obviam longissime processisti: the adverb obviam often governs a dative, here C. Caesari, modified by the present participle redeunti: ‘you went out further than anyone else (longissime: adverb in the superlative) to meet (obviam) Caesar on his way back from Spain’.

celeriter isti redisti, ut cognosceret te, si minus fortem, at tamen strenuum: isti and redisti are the contracted 2nd person singular perfect indicative active forms of eo, ire and redeo, redire (= iisti rediisti). ire redire is an idiomatic phrase meaning ‘to pass to and fro, come and go’: OLD s.v. eo 1g. ut introduces a purpose clause; its verb (cognosceret) takes te as accusative object, which is modified by fortem and strenuum in predicative position: ‘… that he might discern you as — if not brave — yet still full of energy’. Cicero himself of course engaged in a significant amount to toing and froing during the 40s, both when civil war first broke out in 49, then in the summer of 44, when he left Rome for Greece, only to return soon thereafter. In fact, Philippic 1 begins with an extensive explanation of his movements (a consilium et profectionis et reversionis meae — a slightly more elevated idiom than ire redire): see Phil. 1.1 and 6–11.

fortem… strenuum: at least since Cato the Elder (e.g. at de Agricultura 4: ex agricolis et viri fortissimi et milites strenuissimi gignuntur: ‘from farmers the bravest men and the most valiant soldiers are sprung’; see further Cornell (2013: 87), fortis atque strenuus are two positive qualities that work in unison — the former referring to a mental disposition, the latter to the physical ability to act on it. The attributes recur together in other writers (such as Sallust) and elsewhere in Cicero, so their disjunction here through the somewhat ‘precious’ differentiation si minusat tamen puts a mocking spin on standard idiom. Given that Cicero strips Antony of any claim to bravery (he did not participate in the campaign in Spain), his solicitous rush to meet the victorious general appears particularly preposterous.

factus es ei rursus nescio quo modo familiaris: the sentence might baffle at first sight (unsurprisingly, since it is meant to convey bafflement) because of the unusual word order and all sorts of seemingly complicated little fill-words in between the alliterated (and inverted) frame factus… familiaris, but is actually fairly straightforward. Antony is the (implied) subject: ‘you became (factus es) a friend (familiaris) to him (ei) again (rursus) I don’t know how / in some way or other (nescio quo modo)’. Or, less literally: ‘Somehow you managed to weasel your way back into Caesar’s friendship’.

habebat hoc omnino Caesar: habet hoc = ‘has this characteristic’. Commentators compare Cicero, in Pisonem 81 and Horace, Sermones 1.3.3. Ramsey (2003: 275) suggests that moris (the genitive of mos) has to be understood as part of a colloquial expression meaning ‘this was Caesar’s way’, i.e. ‘he had this trait’. The adverb omnino (‘certainly’) drips with irony.

quem plane perditum aere alieno egentemque, si eundem nequam hominem audacemque cognorat, hunc in familiaritatem libentissime recipiebat: Cicero here uses one verb (cognorat: the syncopated third person singular pluperfect active of cognosco = cogno|ve|rat) for both the relative clause introduced by quem (the antecedent is hunc) and the si-clause: ‘whom he found to be obviously bankrupt and destitute — if the same person was [known to him as] a morally worthless and reckless human being — this man he received with the greatest delight into his circle of friends’.

The Ethics and Politics of Friendship in Caesar’s World

Two related aspects are worth a closer look here: (i) the kinds of characters who were attracted to Caesar; (ii) Caesar’s willingness to extend ‘friendship’ to anyone on strictly utilitarian principles, irrespective of their ‘moral worth’.

(i) Cicero dissed half of Caesar’s supporters (just like those of Catiline in the 60s) as belonging into a basket of deplorables already before the outbreak of the civil war (Letter to Atticus 7.3.5 = 126 SB, written 9 December 50):

verum tamen haec video, cum homine audacissimo paratissimoque negotium esse, omnis damnatos, omnis ignominia adfectos, omnis damnatione ignominiaque dignos illac facere, omnem fere iuventutem, omnem illam urbanam ac perditam plebem, tribunos valentis addito Q. Cassio, omnis qui aere alieno premantur, quos pluris esse intellego quam putaram (causam solum illa causa non habet, ceteris rebus abundat).

[All the same I see this much: we are dealing with a man who fears nothing and is ready for anything. All persons under legal sentence or censorial stigma, and all who deserve the one or the other, are on his side, so are pretty well all the younger people, all the desperate city rabble, some sturdy Tribunes, Q. Cassius now included, all the debt-ridden, who I find are worth more than I supposed! — Caesar’s side lacks nothing but a cause, all else they have in abundance.]

He was not alone in this assessment. The Caesarian loyalist Caelius, who was also on friendly terms with Cicero, also noted Caesar’s appeal to those who had little or nothing to lose. In a letter to Cicero, written on 8 August 50, he predicts that ‘all who live in present fear and small hope for the future will rally to Caesar’ (Fam. 8.14.3 = 97 SB).

(ii) Caesar himself seems to have welcomed all and sundry with open arms into his networks of associates. An anecdote transmitted by Suetonius nicely captures his endorsement of a ‘friendship-above-all-else attitude’ (Life of Julius Caesar 72):

Amicos tanta semper facilitate indulgentiaque tractauit… iam autem rerum potens quosdam etiam infimi generis ad amplissimos honores prouexit, cum ob id culparetur, professus palam, si grassatorum et sicariorum ope in tuenda sua dignitate usus esset, talibus quoque se parem gratiam relaturum.

[His friends he always treated with pronounced kindness and consideration. … Moreover, when he was already in power, he raised some friends of the humblest background to the highest positions, and when he was blamed for it, openly declared that if he had used the help of brigands and murderers in defending his rank and standing, he would have repaid such men too in the same way.]

Caesar certainly offered those who would have struggled to assert themselves in a system dominated by established aristocratic families unprecedented opportunities for career advancement. But his reliance on ‘upstarts’ may in part have been due to the fact that members of the traditional ruling elite refused to cooperate:23

Caesar’s shift toward autocracy was in good part due to the refusal of many Republicans to admit defeat. Cicero had accepted Pharsalus in 48 as decisive. Had more leading senators done the same, even if reluctantly, and cooperated with Caesar, they might have saved much of their ancestral state and their own role in it. Instead, they had rallied in Africa and seen their cause defeated again. Within a few months the remnants had regrouped in Spain — with the same results. No senatorial general could defeat Caesar, no senatorial army could best his. The obstinate refusal to accept the verdict of the battlefield and to work with Caesar while they could still nudge him toward retention of the traditional forms of the res publica compelled him to rely on his subordinate officers rather than members of the old nobility. Precisely this goes far to explain the rise of men like Plancus who would not have reached the highest offices in the state had there not been a dearth of candidates from illustrious families.

What would you have done in their stead? Would you have accepted that Caesar had trumped the old system and engaged with his regime as the new normal — not least in view of the personal benefits to be derived from playing ball with the potentate? Or would you have withdrawn your services as a matter of principle?

§ 79: The Art of Nepotism

After his victory in the civil war, Caesar, while nominally upholding republican traditions, effectively exercised autocratic powers and could determine whom to reward when with what position in the state. As Denniston (1926: 144) puts it: ‘After the victory of Munda the senate voted Caesar, among other honours, the right to appoint the magistrates. Outwardly he declined the privilege, but by “recommending” certain persons to the people for election he accepted the substance of it (Dio, xliii 45, 1; Suet. Iul. 41)’. This distribution of favours did not always happen without friction among his faithful. Cicero here homes in on a tussle between Antony and Dolabella over appointments to the consulship for 44 BCE. Despite the fact that both benefitted from Caesar’s patronage, the two had a fractious history: in 47, Antony clamped down violently on Dolabella’s attempt to push through a debt cancellation, and there were also rumours (picked up by Cicero in § 99) that Dolabella had committed adultery with Antony’s then-wife Antonia.24 Cicero dwells at length (§§ 79–84a) on this contretemps between Antony and Dolabella. Dolabella, despite being his former son-in-law, remained a puzzle for Cicero: ‘Before the end of April Cicero had already reason to believe that Antony and Dolabella were hand in glove (Att. 14.14.4 = 368 SB; 28 or 29 April: rumour of an extended provincial command for both consuls). And on 9 May, in the very midst of his rhapsodies about the overturned pillar, he accuses Dolabella of sharing with Antony the spoils from the temple of Ops (Att. 14.18.1 = 373 SB). Cicero’s unbalanced and volatile temperament is strikingly illustrated by the correspondence of the first half of May, which shows clearly that he did not know what to make of Dolabella’.25

In order to understand what happened, we need to distinguish between consules ordinarii, i.e. the two consuls who were initially elected and took office at the beginning of the year, and consules suffecti, i.e. ‘substitute consuls’ who replaced the elected consuls if they died or were otherwise incapacitated during their time in office. (Even being a suffect consul was a great honour, though people thought Caesar made a mockery of it when the consul Quintus Fabius Maximus died on 31 December 45 BCE and he appointed Gaius Caninius Rebilus as suffect consul for the last few remaining hours of the year.)

For the consulship of 44 BCE, Cicero implies the following timeline:

Sometime in 45:

Caesar promises the two consulships for 44 to Antony and Dolabella.

Antony manages to prevail upon Caesar to change his mind, break his promise to Dolabella, and take up the second consulship himself.

As consolation prize, Caesar designates Dolabella consul suffectus upon his departure for Parthia (scheduled for 18 March), when he would have stepped down from his consulship.

This irritates Antony, who announces that he would try to thwart Dolabella’s election. (The date when Caesar designated Dolabella as consul suffectus remains vague — though in § 81 Cicero implies that it happened some time ago: Antony made his objections known ‘many months before’ (multis ante mensibus) the actual election.)

January 44:

An irritated Dolabella expresses his annoyance with Antony in a speech to the senate.


During the election of Dolabella to the suffect consulship, Antony voices religious objections

14 March:

Caesar gets murdered.

17 March:

Antony accepts Dolabella as his colleague in the consulship.

It is not entirely straightforward to sift facts from fiction here. Sometime in 45 BCE, Caesar indeed must have decided that Antony and himself should be the consules ordinarii for 44, with Dolabella becoming a consul suffectus upon his departure for the campaign against Parthia. Likewise, there is no reason to doubt that Antony vigorously opposed the plan to make Dolabella suffect consul. Conversely, however, there is no evidence to corroborate Cicero’s assertion that Caesar initially designated Dolabella as one of the two consules ordinarii and then, at the advice of Antony, changed his mind. This vacillation, which makes Caesar look feeble and Antony treacherous, is most likely a Ciceronian construct. He milks it for all it is worth, at seemingly excessive length (§§ 79–84a), partly to drive a wedge between the two prominent Caesarians who jointly held the consulship at the time Cicero composed Philippic 2, partly because it enables him to suggest that Antony’s conduct has been at variance with Rome’s civic religion, out of ignorance and/or impudence.

His igitur rebus praeclare commendatus iussus es renuntiari consul et quidem cum ipso: the subject of the sentence is Antony, whom Cicero continues to address directly. After the past participle commendatus (modifying an implied tu), we get the main verb in the passive (iussus es) followed by a passive infinitive (renuntiari), yielding the somewhat contrived ‘you were ordered to be declared (elected) consul’ — instead of the far more straightforward ‘Caesar ordered you to be declared (elected) consul’. The two passives constitute a sly dig at the obfuscated agent, i.e. Caesar. By turning Antony into the passive subject of Caesar’s act of ordering, rather than the (more natural) subject accusative of an indirect statement, Cicero manages to convey syntactically the utter lack of transparency in the way Caesar and his favourites wielded their power, not least in filling offices (such as the consulship).

renuntiari: renuntiare is a technical term of Rome’s political culture, referring to the act of announcing (or rather re-porting) the results of an election by the presiding magistrate in the voting assemblies (the comitia and the concilium plebis). The prefix re- captures the fact that the magistrate reported back to the assembly what the people in the assembly had themselves decided in casting their votes; compare and contrast pro-nuntiare, which refers to acts of announcing a decision to somebody not involved in making it.26 In order to fully appreciate the sarcasm and outrage at Caesar’s and Antony’s perversion of the appointment process to Rome’s highest magistracy that Cicero packs into this sentence, a few words on the practice of renuntiatio (= the presiding magistrate announcing the results of the consular elections for the following year) is in order. The opening of Cicero’s pro Murena affords a good example of what this moment traditionally meant (or could be taken to mean) (Mur. 1):

Quae precatus a dis immortalibus sum, iudices, more institutoque maiorum illo die quo auspicato comitiis centuriatis L. Murenam consulem renuntiavi, ut ea res mihi fidei magistratuique meo, populo plebique Romanae bene atque feliciter eveniret, eadem precor ab isdem dis immortalibus ob eiusdem hominis consulatum una cum salute obtinendum, et ut vestrae mentes atque sententiae cum populi Romani voluntatibus suffragiisque consentiant, eaque res vobis populoque Romano pacem, tranquillitatem, otium concordiamque adferat.

[On that day, judges, on which, after taking the auspices, I announced Lucius Murena’s election as consul to the centuriate assembly, I prayed to the immortal gods according to the custom and tradition of our ancestors that his event should bring good fortune to myself, the reliable discharge of my office and to the people and the plebs of Rome. Today I address the same prayer to those same immortal gods to preserve the consulship and at the same time the welfare of the same man, that your minds and your verdict may concur with the wishes and the votes of the Roman people and that this concurrence may bring peace, tranquillity, calm, and harmony to yourselves and to the Roman people.]

Cicero embeds recall of the moment in which he announced the outcome of the consular elections for 62 BCE within a past and present prayer. The agents and institutions involved include: the immortal gods (and their goodwill towards the commonwealth), ancestral customs, the voting assemblies, the presiding consul, the consular elections and the consulship (Rome’s highest magistracy) itself, the Roman people and their popular will as expressed in (free) elections, and civic welfare, peace, and domestic harmony guaranteed by proper civic procedures and divine benevolence. Renuntiatio guarantees annalistic continuity as the reigning consuls announce their successors, a handing over of power crucial for the functioning of a political culture grounded in oligarchic equality, managed not least by means of annual elections to public office. The act occurred on a tribunal marked out as a sacred precinct (templum).27 By contrast, in Caesar’s Rome, this hallowed ritual, which constituted an essential element of the senatorial tradition of republican government, has become a perverse manifestation of Caesar’s power and cronyism. The dictator remained committed to the constitutional forms and procedures of the republican commonwealth, such as renuntiatio, but his control of the proceedings and the personnel rendered them meaningless charades.

his… rebus: the instrumental ablative phrase sums up the catalogue of Antony’s vices (or, from Caesar’s point of view, virtues) detailed in the previous sentence, i.e. being in debt, impoverished, worthless, and reckless. res is here perhaps best understood in the sense of ‘qualities’.

praeclare commendatus: clearly dripping with irony. For such sarcastic use of praeclare, see also Phil. 7.3.

et quidem cum ipso: ‘and what’s more with himself [ipso refers to Caesar] as your colleague’. The particle quidem here sets up a further heightening of the sense of outrage Cicero is trying to generate. The fact that Antony managed to weasel himself into the consulship is particularly obnoxious since Caesar continued to monopolize one of the two high magistracies. See OLD s.v. quidem 5 (adding a reinforcement or afterthought): ‘And what is more’, ‘and — at that’, often preceded by et.

nihil queror de Dolabella qui tum est impulsus, inductus, elusus: Publius Cornelius Dolabella was the one-time husband of Cicero’s daughter Tullia, whom he married in the summer of 50 but divorced in November 46, when Tullia was already pregnant with their second child. She died from the consequences of childbirth at Dolabella’s house in February of 45, plunging Cicero into deep despair. His letters from this period are stricken with grief — a good %age of it in mourning the Republic and his own status in it — to the point that many of his correspondents exhorted him to pull himself together.28 This personal experience resonates in nihil queror de Dolabella: it is not that he has any particular sympathy for his former son-in-law. This, however, does not change the fact that he was made the innocent butt of Antony’s ability to pull strings with Caesar. The asyndetic tricolon of verbs that conclude the relative clause re-enacts the way in which he was jerked around and made a fool of.

nihil: the indeclinable neuter noun nihil (‘nothing’) is here used adverbially. See OLD s.v. 11: ‘in no respect’, ‘not at all’.

qua in re quanta fuerit uterque vestrum perfidia in Dolabellam quis ignorat?: qua is a connecting relative (= ea). The phrase qua in re belongs inside the indirect question introduced by quanta, which is an interrogative adjective modifying perfidia. The phrase is an ablative of description (‘of how much treachery’). The main clause comes at the end (quis ignorat?): ‘Who does not know (quis ignorat) of how much treachery (quanta… perfidia) in this matter (qua in re) each one of you (uterque vestrum) was towards Dolabella (fuerit in Dolabellam)?’ — or, more elegantly: ‘Who does not know how treacherously each of you behaved towards Dolabella in this matter?’

uterque vestrum: vestrum is the (partitive) genitive plural of the second person personal pronoun, dependent on uterque.

ille induxit ut peteret, promissum et receptum intervertit ad seque transtulit: ille is Caesar, who is the subject of three main verbs: induxit, intervertit, and transtulit. The first and the second clash in asyndeton, the second and third are linked by the -que after se. The design is thematically appropriate, enacting the break of Caesar’s promise: induxit clashes with intervertit and transtulit. The implied accusative object of peteret, intervertit, and transtulit is consulatum, which also governs the two perfect passive participles promissum and receptum, which are adversative in sense (‘he revoked the consulship even though it had been promised and accepted’).

ut peteret: sc. consulatum. The implied subject of the ut-clause is Dolabella. The common verb peto can have the technical sense of ‘to be a candidate for, seek a magistracy’ (with accusative object of the office sought, at times — as here — implied) or, generally, ‘to be a candidate for office, stand for election’: see OLD s.v. 9.

tu eius perfidiae voluntatem tuam ascripsisti: the meaning of ascribo here is ‘to attribute, assign’ an accusative object [here: voluntatem tuam] ‘to a cause or origin’ in the dative [here: eius perfidiae]: see OLD s.v. 5. Cicero ‘is accusing Antony of trying to shift the blame to Caesar for what was, in fact, Antony’s own desire (to block Dolabella’s advancement): “you attributed … your wish to Caesar’s perfidy” (and yet you were the one who caused Caesar to change his mind about giving the consulship to Dolabella)’ (Ramsey 2003: 276). If in the previous sentence, Cicero attributes treachery (perfidia) to both Caesar and Antony, here he singles out Antony’s alone — indeed suggests that Caesar’s ‘treachery’ is one in appearance only, an impression generated by Antony.

eius: refers to Caesar.

veniunt Kalendae Ianuariae: the Romans called the first day of every month ‘calends’ (related to kalendarium = accounting-book for debts due at the beginning of each month; whence our ‘calendar’). On ‘the calends of January’, i.e. the beginning of the year, elected magistrates entered their offices.

cogimur in senatum: phrases such as senatum cogere (‘to summon the senate’) or senatum in curiam cogere (‘to summon the senate into the Curia’) are standard; the phrasing that Cicero uses here — aliquem in senatum cogere (‘to summon someone into the senate’) — is not. In its passive variant, this formulation hints at an element of coercion (it’s a round up — ‘we were herded’) and hence a disjunction or non-identification between the recipients of a dictatorial order (individual senators, among whom Cicero counts himself: ‘we’) and ‘Caesar’s senate’. The chosen idiom thus articulates a sense of Cicero’s republican resistance to Caesar’s manipulation of this institution (including enforced attendance).

invectus est copiosius multo in istum et paratius Dolabella quam nunc ego: in the passive, inveho means ‘to attack verbally’. The word order (or rather ‘dis-order’) enacts the blast of Dolabella’s verbal onslaught: Cicero puts the verb (invectus est) up front, places multo, an ablative of the measure of difference, which usually stands before the comparative, behind it, and disjoins the two comparative adverbs copiosius and paratius, which, in this order, also constitute a husteron proteron (see below), through the insertion of in istum. Put differently, the sentence climaxes in the middle (with in istum), before petering out from et onwards.

copiosius multo… et paratius: ‘with much greater fullness of expression and much better preparation’. Both copiosius and paratius are technical terms in Roman rhetorical discourse. copiose refers to the ability to speak eloquently and at length (copia = fullness of expression), parate to being well-prepared. (See e.g. de Oratore 1.150, Brutus 241, Divinatio in Caecilium 47.) The placement of copiosius ahead of paratius constitutes a husteron proteron (‘an inversion of the natural / logical sequence’) since the latter is a precondition of the former.

in istum: a contemptuous reference to Antony, now that Cicero has switched to a third-person perspective.

quam nunc ego: however much Cicero waxes rhetorically, he is usually keen to come across as exercising self-restraint, at least comparatively speaking. At the same time, he is clearly writing tongue-in-cheek here: there is no way that Dolabella’s speech was fuller and better prepared than Philippic 2.

§ 80: Antony Augur, Addled and Addling

In the run-up to the election of Dolabella as suffect consul, Antony seems to have announced that he would try to prevent the election of Dolabella to the consulship by making use of a religious veto that he could issue in his capacity as augur. In the event, he made good on his threat. Over the next few paragraphs, Cicero rakes him over the coals for this. To understand his lines of attack, we need to come to terms with some technicalities of Rome’s civic religion. This dimension of Roman culture is not easy to get one’s head around: its ‘cultural logic’ is in many ways quite alien to our own religious intuitions.29

For our concerns, it is important to distinguish between Roman religion tout court (in the sense of any religious thought and practice in republican Rome) and ‘Rome’s civic religion’, i.e. the religious dimension of Roman politics.30 Religious and political practices and procedures were therefore mutually implicated: changes in the field of power could not help but have repercussions for Rome’s civic religion and, conversely, reconfigurations or innovations in the handling of religious material were bound to be politically sensitive. The enmeshing of religious and political concerns that we capture in our late-republican sources and that has often been taken as evidence for a decline in religion was in fact co-extensive with the Roman commonwealth. Much of the communication that Rome’s civic community entertained with the divine sphere revolved around apparent signs from the gods, which manifested themselves in atmospheric phenomena (thunder and lightening, esp. when the sky was otherwise clear), the entrails of sacrificial victims, or monstrous occurrences that violated the natural order of things (such as the birth of a double-headed calf). Elaborate protocols regulated how such signs were to be identified and processed: who was entitled to report or look for them, what they meant and who was charged with interpreting them. Since Rome’s civic religion co-evolved with the political culture of the republican commonwealth and formed an integral part of it, it should not surprise that its peculiar outlook suited the needs of a society whose gravitational center was the senatorial oligarchy. The religious communication that formed part of Rome’s public sphere was designed to promote, not least, a politics rooted in consensus: the possibility of a religiously motivated veto by a magistrate or priest against any course of action constituted a strong incentive to ensure widespread acceptance and collaboration ahead of any major decision. This set-up helped to keep the willful politics of maverick power brokers in check — but it of course also opened the possibility that an individual with the right to communicate with the gods could (ab-)use his religious veto to obstruct political proceedings or decisions he disliked for purely personal reasons.

In 44, Antony held two positions that gave him the right to interact with the divine sphere — though in two slightly different ways:

  1. As consul he had the right of spectio: he could actively look for divine signs (of disapproval) before an event and even announce that he would do so. Since the assumption was that anyone seeking an unfavourable divine sign would also find it, events were cancelled or postponed as soon as a magistrate announced that he would exercise his right of spectio.
  2. As augur — a priesthood he held since 50 BCE — he was able to report adverse signs that materialized during the course of the actual event (= nuntiatio), such as thunder or lightening.31

During the election of Dolabella to the suffect consulship Antony seems to have conflated consular spectio and augural nuntiatio: he announced he would make use of his religious veto ahead of the election; the election went ahead nevertheless; but towards the end he pronounced the augural formula that rendered the proceedings invalid from a religious point of view. Or, in the words of Linderski (1986: 2198):

In his description of Antonius’ obnuntiatio against the election of Dolabella as consul in 44, Cicero contrasts the spectio of the magistrates and the nuntiatio of the augurs (Phil. 2.81): Nos enim nuntiationem solum habemus, consules et reliqui magistratus etiam spectionem. The augurs could report only oblative signs, and oblative signs had to be observed entirely by chance. It was not possible to predict that one would see them. And according to the rule of vinculum temporis … governing the observation and interpretation of oblative signs, the augurs could announce only such oblative signs that occurred after the beginning of the comitia. The magistrates had on the other hand both spectio and nuntiatio: the right to take impetrative auspices and to announce adverse omens. They could proclaim in advance that they would watch the skies; however, as the magisterial nuntiatio was exclusively based on impetrative auspices, the magistrate had to make the announcement of an adverse omen before the beginning of the comitia. Antonius, who was consul and augur, had proclaimed in advance se Dolabellae comitia … prohibiturum auspiciis, thus implying that he would block Dolabella’s election by means of the announcement of adverse auspices based upon his right to spectio. However, when he actually reported an adverse omen, he did it in his capacity as augur, for he uttered the ritual formula alio die after the beginning of the comitia or, more exactly, shortly before the conclusion of the gathering. He obnuntiated on the basis of an oblative sign, the occurrence of which it was impossible to predict, and hence Cicero was justified in contending that it must have been a fake.32

According to Cicero, Antony was plain stupid (end of § 80: stupiditas) for reasons specified in § 81: he would have been much smarter to object on religious grounds in his office of consul (rather than as augur); and also shameless (§ 81: impudentia).

Hic autem iratus quae dixit, di boni!: the deictic hic refers to Antony, who, incensed by Dolabella’s diligently prepared, if hard-hitting, show of eloquence, responded with some frightful verbiage of his own. The word order of the exclamation again creates a vivid image of the situation: pulled up front we get ‘angry Antony’ (hic … iratus) — here objectified, in the third person, put on show, like a distasteful (yet fascinating) insect, for a case study in emotional incontinence and rhetorical idiocy. The laconic quae dixit teases the imagination. And with di boni, Cicero turns to the gods in mock-fear at recalling Antony’s outburst: ‘This exclamation clearly originated as a cry for help: a person suddenly faced with some horrible sight or anything threatening him invokes instinctively the help and protection of the gods. A Roman Catholic will cry out “Jesus Maria”, …’ (Fraenkel 1957: 441) — and an atheist ‘Jeez-us!’. The effect is therefore different from the moments of import, pathos, and, more generally, high emotions, that Cicero underscores by invocations such as per deos immortales or o/pro di immortales, which belong to a higher stylistic register.

primum cum Caesar ostendisset se, priusquam proficisceretur, Dolabellam consulem esse iussurum — quem negant regem, qui et faceret semper eius modi aliquid et diceret — sed cum Caesar ita dixisset, tum hic bonus augur eo se sacerdotio praeditum esse dixit ut comitia auspiciis vel impedire vel vitiare posset, idque se facturum esse asseveravit: the opening adverb primum sets up the expectation that Cicero here launches into a catalogue of all the outrageous things Antony spluttered at the meeting; but after ‘first’ (primum), we never get a ‘second’ (deinde) — rather, we get another primum at the end of the paragraph! What follows is a complex period, best taken bit by bit:

  • cum Caesar ostendisset se, priusquam proficisceretur, Dolabellam consulem esse iussurum: the verb of the cum-clause (ostendisset) introduces an indirect statement with se as subject accusative (referring back to Caesar) and iussurum (esse) as infinitive, which in turn governs a further indirect statement with Dolabellam as subject accusative, esse as verb and consulem as predicative complement. (Note that the esse in the text is the infinitive of the indirect statement dependent on iussurum, which in its turn is the periphrastic future active infinitive (with esse elided) of the indirect statement dependent on ostendisset: ‘… when Caesar made it known that he (se) would issue an order (iussurum) that Dolabella be (esse) consul…’) Embedded within the cum-clause is a further temporal subordinate clause with Caesar as subject (priusquam proficisceretur: the reference is to his planned departure for Parthia — proficisci here has the sense of ‘to set out on campaign’).
  • quem negant regem, qui et faceret semper eius modi aliquid et diceret: at this point, Cicero steps outside his period for a parenthetical gloss on Caesar’s highhanded conduct. The main verb is negant, which introduces an indirect statement with quem (a connecting relative = et eum) as subject accusative, an (implied) fuisse as verb, and regem as predicative complement, followed by a relative clause. (The imperfect subjunctives faceret and diceret are concessive: people deny that Caesar was a despot even though his words and deeds provide ample proof that he was.)
  • sed cum Caesar ita dixisset: the parenthesis necessitates a brief recapitulation: sed cum ita dixisset essentially repeats, summarily, cum Caesar ostendisset … iussurum, as Cicero finds his feet again in his period after the parenthetical gloss.
  • tum hic bonus augur eo se sacerdotio praeditum esse dixit ut comitia auspiciis vel impedire vel vitiare posset, idque se facturum esse asseveravit: the bipartite main clause follows, with dixit and asseveravit as verbs (linked by the -que after id). Each of them governs an indirect statement: se… praeditum esse; se facturum esse. The ut-clause is consecutive.

regem: Rome was founded by kings and even though the last king, Tarquinius Superbus, abused his power and was driven from the city, the term rex retained (at least some) positive connotations in early and mid-republican sources — though it became increasingly tarnished, not least through its assimilation to the Greek tyrannus (‘tyrant’), which the Romans imported as a loanword. While some authors adopted a neutral position towards ‘kingship’ as a form of government and preferred to work with the distinction between a ‘good king’ v. a ‘bad king’, others — among them Cicero — came to see any kind of autocratic regime as irreconcilably at variance with republican principles such as (oligarchic) libertas. Meanwhile, power-brokers, and especially Caesar, tested the waters on how far they could go in assuming the trappings of monarchy (recognizing the significant amount of goodwill and symbolic capital to be acquired from refusing royal honours). This cluster of issues underwrites Cicero’s account of the Lupercalia (coming up in § 84).33

semper eius modi aliquid: Cicero is rather fond of the ‘characterizing semper’, used to pin down the essence of a person. Compare On Duties (de Officiis) 3.82, again with reference to Caesar: ipse autem socer in ore semper Graecos versus de Phoenissis habebat…: ‘The father-in-law [= Caesar] always had Greek verses from Euripides’ Phoenissae on his lips…’ that proved him to be a tyrant at heart. The point is that Caesar’s conduct after his victory in the civil wars was invariably and systematically — rather than just occasionally — that of an autocrat, with no regards for traditional republican institutions or procedures in either deeds or words.

tum hic bonus augur eo se sacerdotio praeditum esse dixit: bonus is cutting and condescending; dixit introduces an indirect statement with se as subject accusative, esse as verb, and praeditum as predicative complement, which governs the instrumental ablative eo sacerdotio: ‘this excellent augur here said that he was endowed with this priestly office…’ sacerdotium refers to Antony’s augurship, which he assumed in 50 BCE.

ut comitia auspiciis vel impedire vel vitiare posset: comitia refers to the electoral assembly that would vote Dolabella into his consulship. Antony announced that he would use his powers of religious objection either to prevent them from taking place (impedire) or, if they proceeded, to cast religious doubt over — or invalidate altogether — the outcome (vitiare). The basic meaning of vitiare is ‘to cause faults or defects in’, ‘to impair’, but it also had the technical sense of ‘to invalidate political proceedings or public business because of some technical fault that violated religious protocols’. In our case, the vitium marring the comitia would be Antony’s augural pronouncement that he spotted signs of divine displeasure with the proceedings.

idque se facturum esse asseveravit: asseveravit introduces an indirect statement with se as subject accusative and facturum esse as infinitive. id refers back to Antony’s reminder in the ut-clause that he could obstruct and/or invalidate the consular elections. It is the accusative object of facturum esse. Antony does not simply remind his audience that as augur he has the power to obstruct the elections; he feels obliged to assert emphatically (asseveravit) that he would actually do so.

in quo primum incredibilem stupiditatem hominis cognoscite: in quo is another connecting relative (= et in eo), picking up the entirety of Antony’s statement in the previous sentence. primum is again adverbial (‘first of all’).

§ 81: Compounding Ignorance through Impudence

Cicero hammers away at Antony’s seemingly incomplete understanding of the nuances of Rome’s augural law and the different remits it offered to augurs and consuls (as well as other magistrates) — before shifting his focus halfway through from Antony’s ignorance to his impudence. When a magistrate intended to obstruct public proceedings by observing the sky, political etiquette demanded that he announced his intentions ahead of time: since he would invariably find a sign of divine displeasure, the proceedings could be postponed before they had even started, thus keeping the inconvenience for everyone else to a minimum. By contrast, Antony announced way in advance what he planned to do; nevertheless got the voting procedure underway (over which he presided as consul); and then after proceedings drew to a close pronounced his religious objection — a stupid, shamefully inconsiderate, and reckless abuse of religious prerogatives, at least according to Cicero’s spin. However, Cicero too would have known that Antony behaved with extraordinary shrewdness. By letting the election happen but casting a religious doubt over the (inevitable) outcome, he gained an important bargaining chip in interactions with his future colleague in office. As Santangelo (2013: 3) points out: ‘The events that unfolded a few weeks later, after the Ides of March, confirmed the value of Antony’s use of his augural prerogatives. When Dolabella and Antony decided to mend fences and co-operate in the aftermath of Caesar’s assassination, Antony’s willingness to accept Dolabella’s election and set aside his opposition was a central part of the deal. The tactical advantage that he had earned with his handling of Dolabella’s election was rooted in his expert knowledge of the complex rules that governed the interaction between politics and religion in the late Republic’.34

Quid enim?: the elliptical question introduces a confirmatory statement (OLD s.v. quis, quid 14c): Cicero uses it as a transitional phrase to link his invitation to observe Antony’s unbelievable stupidity with an explication thereof: ‘Why?’ or ‘If that is not the case, what is?’

istud quod te sacerdoti iure facere posse dixisti, si augur non esses et consul esses, minus facere potuisses?: translate in the following sequence: si augur non esses et consul esses, potuisses minus facere istud, quod dixisti te sacerdoti iure facere posse? Put differently, istud up front is the accusative object of the supplementary infinitive facere and in turn serves as antecedent of the relative clause introduced by quod. Cicero invites Antony to consider whether he could not have done what he did had he only been consul at the time (rather than both consul and augur). The question is entirely rhetorical: of course he could have, given that the powers of a consul to impede electoral proceedings exceeded those of an augur. Overall, the sentence is a past counterfactual condition (though Cicero uses imperfect, rather than pluperfect subjunctives in the protasis, perhaps because Antony not just was an augur and consul back then but still is at the time of writing).

et consul esses: the past counterfactual condition enables Cicero to include a sly dig at Antony’s status as consul: ‘if you had not been an augur (but you were) and had been a consul (which Antony was — but Cicero implies that he was one in name only)…’

vide ne etiam facilius [facere potuisses]: ‘See if you could not have / You’ll find that you could have done it even more easily!’

nos enim nuntiationem solum habemus, consules et reliqui magistratus etiam spectionem: Cicero here uses the first person plural (nos… habemus) since he is speaking as a member of the augural college. Augurs only had the right of nuntiatio — the observation and announcement of an (unanticipated) unfavourable divine sign, which would cast a religious doubt over ongoing proceedings or subsequent decisions; consuls and other magistrate could actively seek out such signs by observation (spectio) of the sky. And it was generally understood that anyone intent on seeking would indeed find what he was looking for. Therefore the mere announcement of a magistrate that he intended to engage in spectio (or watch the sky: se servare de caelo) with respect to an upcoming event would entail its cancellation or postponement. Put differently, spectio by magistrates tended to happen before, nuntiatio by augurs had to happen during, an event. Indeed, considerate use of spectio required the magistrate to signal his intentions to make use of his privilege well in advance (rather than waiting until the proceedings had started) so as not to unduly inconvenience all concerned. This is precisely what Antony fell short of doing, as Cicero goes on to point out below, ascribing it to his impudence.

esto: hoc imperite [dixit / factum est]: esto is the third person singular future imperative of sum, with a concessive sense (see OLD s.v. sum 8b): ‘so be it!’ hoc imperite is elliptical, with the verb, modified by the adverb imperite [in + peritus + e], needing to be supplied. Possibilities include dixit or fecit, which would turn hoc into an accusative object (‘this he pronounced / did ignorantly’) or factum est, with hoc as subject (‘this was done out of ignorance’). The theme of Antony’s ignorance, firmly established by the phrase incredibilem stupiditatem at the end of § 80, recurs at the end of the paragraph, where it gets married to his impudence.

nec enim est ab homine numquam sobrio postulanda prudentia: with mock affability, Cicero quickly dismisses Antony’s failure to grasp a key aspect of Rome’s augural lore: it wouldn’t do to dwell too pedantically on such technicalities given Antony’s state of permanent intoxication: that those under the influence do not tend to have the sharpest of minds is a well-known fact — ‘From a Drunk-only, discriminating insight is not to be expected’. The advanced placement of est in the periphrastic gerundive enables a humorously alliterated ending to the sentence, with the subject — the climactic prudentia — coming last. Antony’s heroic application to the bottle is a recurrent theme throughout the speech, receiving its most extensive coverage at Phil. 2.63:

Tu istis faucibus, istis lateribus, ista gladiatoria totius corporis firmitate tantum vini in Hippiae nuptiis exhauseras, ut tibi necesse esset in populi Romani conspectu vomere postridie. o rem non modo visu foedam, sed etiam auditu! si inter cenam in ipsis tuis immanibus illis poculis hoc tibi accidisset, quis non turpe duceret? in coetu vero populi Romani negotium publicum gerens magister equitum, cui ructare turpe esset, is vomens frustis esculentis vinum redolentibus gremium suum et totum tribunal implevit!

[You with that gullet of yours, with those lungs, with that gladiatorial strength of your whole body, had gulped down so much wine at Hippias’ wedding that you were forced to vomit the following day right in front of the Roman people. How disgusting it must have been to watch — just to hear of it makes one gag! If during the banquet, in the very midst of those enormous potations of yours, this had happened to you, who would not think it disgraceful? But at an assembly of the Roman people, while in the conduct of public business, a master of the horse, for whom it would be disgraceful to belch, vomited and filled his own lap and the whole tribunal with bits and pieces of food reeking of wine.]

The portrayal of Antony as a permanently intoxicated alcoholic is a leitmotif throughout the speech — and beyond. As Hall (2002: 288–89) observes ‘Antony’s notorious drinking habits provide rich material for such a caricature. Through judicious hyperbole Cicero turns a drunken indiscretion into a scene of striking repugnance… It is typical of the speech’s technique, however, that this hit at Antony’s drunkenness is not a casual or isolated one. Elsewhere Cicero evokes the smell of stale wine on Antony’s breath (Phil. 2.30 and 2.42), slyly suggests that his inconsistent pronouncements as augur were a result of the drink (Phil. 2.81; 84), and that his attempts to found a colony at Capua were affected by furiosam vinolentiam (Phil. 2.101). This accumulation of detail gives the depiction a persuasive consistency and depth’. The theme recurs in later Philippics, such as 3.20 and 6.4, and culminates at Phil. 13.4, where he turns the entire family-clan of the Antonii into a bunch of tipplers permanently reeking of wine. Antony thus falls woefully short of even the baseline requirements for a public speaker and statesman, i.e. being careful, thoughtful, and sober. (See On the Ideal Orator / de Oratore 2.140: … omnes diligentes et memores et sobrii oratores…).

sed videte impudentiam: Cicero’s tone now switches from the avuncular (used to comment on Antony’s alleged ignorance) to the aggressive (deployed to attack his putative impudence).

multis ante mensibus in senatu dixit se Dolabellae comitia aut prohibiturum auspiciis aut id facturum esse quod fecit: the main verb is dixit, which is preceded by specifications of time (multis ante mensibus) and place (in senatu). It introduces an indirect statement with se as subjective accusative and prohibiturum (esse) (taking comitia as accusative object) and facturum esse (taking id as accusative object) as infinitives. Dolabellae is genitive depending on comitia: ‘Dolabella’s election’. Regarding the first part of what Antony purportedly said, i.e. that he would prevent the election from going forward, it is not entirely clear whether Cicero blames him for ignorance or for impudence:

  • Option 1: on the basis of his position as augur he had no right to interfere with the meeting before it had started (= ignorance).
  • Option 2a: as consul who had just entered office (if the senate-meeting in question is the one on 1 January 44), announcing his intent to use religious obstruction so far in advance of the actual event amounts to impudence.
  • Option 2b: Perhaps Cicero vague temporal indicator multis ante mensibus (see below) is meant to suggest that Antony insisted on his right of spectio already in 45, as consul-elect (= impudence2).

Options 2a and 2b are of course difficult to reconcile with Cicero’s earlier claim that Antony preferred to position himself as augur rather than consul. Matters get even more confusing if we factor in the second part of the indirect statement: Cicero claims that Antony announced months beforehand that he would exercise his right of spectio, but only after the proceedings had already run their course! All of this amounts to a great muddle in which elements of ignorance and elements of impudence are difficult to disentangle — precisely the impression Cicero arguably wishes to generate.

multis ante mensibus: with reference to the senate meeting that took place on 1 January 44, the phrase seems an exaggeration, but perhaps not by much; indeed, in the context of invective oratory, calling two and a half months ‘many’ would seem only mildly hyperbolic, if at all. But Cicero may of course allude to an even earlier pronouncement in late 45, which, if it is not entirely invented, perhaps even triggered Dolabella’s seemingly well-prepared invective outburst during the meeting on 1 January 44, which Cicero mentioned in § 79. As § 83 shows (id igitur obvenit vitium quod tu iam Kalendis Ianuariis futurum esse provideras et tanto ante praedixeras), Antony certainly was not silent during this particular meeting either. But it remains unclear whether he stated or restated his intent to block Dolabella’s election to suffect consul. (et tanto ante praedixeras could either refer to the meeting on the calends of January or an earlier one — in which case it would presumably be the same as the one Cicero has in mind here.)

quisquamne divinare potest quid viti in auspiciis futurum sit, nisi qui de caelo servare constituit?: ‘Can anyone foresee what is going to be flawed in the auspices unless he has decided to observe the sky’? The point of the question seems to be that Antony, who seems to have acted in his role as augur by practicing nuntiatio, announced that he would do something that is only compatible with his role as consul (spectio), according to the (accepted) rule that magistrates who had the prerogative of spectio and announced that they would exercise it, as a matter of course found the negative signs they were looking for. Hence they could be said ‘to foresee’ (divinare) them. Augurs did not have this privilege.

quisquamne: the indefinite pronoun quisquam + the enclitic -ne, used to introduce a question.

quid viti in auspiciis futurum sit: an indirect question (hence the subjunctive). viti is a partitive genitive (from vitium) dependent on quid, literally ‘what of religious flaw there will be in the auspices’.

quod neque licet comitiis per leges et si qui servavit, non comitiis habitis sed priusquam habeantur, debet nuntiare: quod is a connecting relative (= et id). The two parts of the main clause specify legal restrictions (licet, per leges) and normative expectations (debet) that governed (or ought to govern) the exercise of consular spectio (though, importantly, not augural nuntiatio): Cicero first refers to legislation that seems to have been introduced by his nemesis Publius Clodius Pulcher in 58 BCE (hence, perhaps, his use of the generic phrase per leges rather than a specific reference to the lex Clodia) which stipulated that a magistrate exercising his right of spectio with a mind to obstructing public business (obnuntiatio) had to do so (a) in person; and (b) before official proceedings started. This piece of legislation seems to have come as a direct response to the practice of Bibulus, who was Caesar’s consular colleague in 59 BCE, to issue a religious objection to anything Caesar did from his own house (because otherwise Caesar’s charges would rough him up). It also seems to have repealed at least some of the stipulations of the earlier lex Aelia et Fufia of c. 150 BCE. As far as we can reconstruct, this earlier law extended the right of obnuntiatio (= the reporting of unfavourable omens during a legislative or voting assembly, with the result that any public business had to be suspended until the next lawful day) from the College of Augurs to all of the magistrates.35

The second part of the sentence (et si qui … debet nuntiare: note that the et links licet and debet) refers to the expectation that any magistrate who practised spectio ought to announce the outcome of his observation before, rather than during the assembly. Commentators disagree on what precisely Cicero is saying here. Mayor (1861: 124) thinks that the legal prohibition covers both parts of the sentence, with Cicero acknowledging that the law was routinely breached: ‘Thus Cicero says: it is illegal de caelo servare at the comitia, but if it is done, it should be done before they begin, and not when business is actually in progress’. This is not quite right: the law did not rule out de caelo servare on the part of a magistrate with the right to take auspices before the comitia. What Cicero says is that whoever engaged in spectio in the run-up to an assembly (note that servavit is perfect) ought to announce the outcome beforehand as well, and not wait until it is underway or, even worse, until it is finished. Some commentators suggest that in the phrase comitiis habitis the perfect passive participle is used instead of the non-existent present one, with the sense being ‘while the voting assembly is in process’. This is possible grammatically, but I recommend a more literal reading: those who announced their intent to exercise their right of spectio before a voting assembly ought not to wait to announce their findings until after the event had finished (comitiis habitis) AS ANTONY (all but) DID (see § 83: confecto negotio etc.), but before it got underway (priusquam habeantur).

comitiis: ablative of time. As Mayor (1861: 124) points out, the use is idiomatic with a range of nouns that refer to public events: ludis (‘during the festival’); gladiatoribus (‘during the gladiatorial games’).

comitiis habitis: an ablative absolute. comitia habere = to hold or conduct an assembly. See OLD s.v. habeo 20.

verum implicata inscientia impudentia est: nec scit quod augurem [scire decet] nec facit quod pudentem [facere] decet: it is impossible to decide whether inscientia is the subject of implicata est and impudentia an instrumental ablative with implico or vice versa — and this might just be part of the point Cicero is trying to make: with Antony, ‘ignorance and impudence are all of a piece’ (Lacey 1986: 119). The elliptical follow-up sentence equally reinforces on the formal level the impression of Antony Cicero is trying to convey: there are significant gaps in his knowledge and his sense of decency: ‘He neither knows what befits an augur to know nor does he do what it befits a decent man to do’.

§ 82: Antony Galloping after Caesar Only to Hold his Horses

This transitional paragraph begins by portraying Antony as Caesar’s lackey who is unable to do anything during his consulship without first asking his colleague for guidance — even if this involves running after Caesar’s litter. This utter lack of independence serves as foil for his conduct during the election of Dolabella to the suffect consulship over which Caesar presided, though initially it appeared that Antony would hold his peace: Cicero gives a quick blow-by-blow of the different stages of a late-republican voting assembly, while noting that Antony missed every single opportunity during the proceedings to voice his pre-announced religious objections.

To make sense of the second half of the paragraph, we need to establish how one specific voting assembly worked, the so-called comitia centuriata, which was used to elect the higher magistrates (here a suffect consul).36 Rome’s population of citizens was distributed into so-called classes on the basis of an assessment of the wealth of each individual (with an eye to the ability to arm himself for military service), called census.37 For voting purposes, people within each class were grouped into ‘centuries’. The wealthier the class, the higher the number of centuries it received. Thus of the 193 centuries in the comitia centuriata, 83 belonged to the first class and 104 to the second to the fifth class taken together, with 6 centuries formed from the ancient clan tribes Tities, Ramnes, and Luceres making up the rest. Voting took place by these units. Simple majority determined which way a specific century voted. The overall outcome was determined by a simple majority of centuries, which meant that the first candidate who got the votes of 97 centuries would win the election. The system was clearly skewed in favour of the wealthy, though recent scholarship has argued against the consensus of earlier literature that the lower classes were not entirely disenfranchised: see Yakobson (1999).

On the day of the election of consuls and praetors (those magistracies endowed with imperium, i.e. the right to command an army), the order of voting included a complex procedure as follows (Taylor 1966: 84):

  1. Lots were drawn to determine which of the centuriate units (centuriae) from the first class (prima classis) would cast their votes first. This centuria was labeled centuria praerogativa. (prae-rogativus literally means ‘that is asked before others for their opinion’ or, specifically, ‘that votes first’; our ‘prerogative’ comes from it.)
  2. The members of the designated centuria praerogativa would cast their votes and the outcome would be announced.
  3. The remaining centuriae of the first class (prima classis) cast their votes.
  4. The so-called six suffragia (the six centuries formed from the clan tribes Tities, Ramnes, and Luceres) cast their votes.
  5. The lower classes cast their votes, in order.

In the case of Dolabella’s election, there was no rival candidate, hence, on the basis of simple majority, the election would be over well before any of the lower classes got to cast their votes. He would have received the vote of the centuria praerogativa (1), the rest of the prima classis (1 + 82), the six suffragia (1 + 82 + 6), and would have reached the magic number of 97 after eight centuries from the secunda classis had cast their vote (1 + 82 + 6 + 8).

Itaque ex illo die recordamini eius usque ad Idus Martias consulatum: recordamini is the second person plural imperative (identical with the indicative) of the deponent recordor. Cicero exhorts his audience to recall Antony’s conduct in the period stretching from the calends of January (ex illo die) right up to (usque ad) the Ides of March 44 BCE.

eius… consulatum: Cicero delays consulatum, the key noun and accusative object of recordamini on which eius, the genitive of the demonstrative pronoun is, (= Antony) depends, until the very end, perhaps for ironic effect. Along the lines of his earlier suggestion that Antony is not a ‘real’ consul, here the design of the sentence drives a wedge between Antony (eius) and the consulship (consulatum).

usque ad Idus Martias: Idus, -uum (‘Ides’) is a feminine plural noun of the fourth declension, here in the accusative plural following the preposition ad. In the Roman calendar, the Ides fell on the 15th day of March, May, July, and October and the 13th day of the other months. It was the day when payment of interest was due. Martius (here in the feminine accusative plural, modifying Idus) is the adjective to the god Mars, but also came to signify the month over which the god presides, i.e. March. In light of what happened on the Ides of March 44 BCE, the phrase has an ominous ring.

quis umquam apparitor tam humilis, tam abiectus?: Cicero suppresses the verb (erat). An apparitor was a (free) public functionary (such as a lictor) who attended on a Roman magistrate. Put differently, Antony’s conduct was more subservient than that of those whose role it was to be subservient. In a status-conscious society such as Rome, his obsequious incompetence debased both himself and the office of the consulship.

nihil ipse poterat; omnia rogabat; caput in aversam lecticam inserens, beneficia quae venderet a collega petebat: Cicero claims that Antony’s incompetence had no limits: he proved himself capable of — nothing. (nihil is an internal accusative with poterat: see OLD s.v. possum 8.) He therefore has to ask Caesar’s approval for everything — which entails running after the litter of the fast-moving dictator (the adjective aversam implies that he is behind). And once he manages to get an audience of sorts (head in, butt out: the resulting image is entirely undignified), the outcome is — corruption. He seeks favours from Caesar — here referred to mockingly if technically correct as his ‘colleague’ (collega) in the consulship — in order to sell them: quae venderet is a relative clause of purpose (hence the subjunctive). Use of market language (buying and selling) in the context of distributing beneficia is crass: it deliberately ignores euphemistic protocols centred on ideas of goodwill, friendship and generosity that were commonly employed to obfuscate the economic realities of the nepotistic exchange of services at the heart of Rome’s patronage system.

caput in aversam lecticam inserens: it might initially be tempting to take this as a Latin gloss on the phenomenon of ‘brown-nosing’ (what with Antony sticking his head in via the backside of the litter) and thus also a sly gesture to Caesar’s rumored pathic tendencies (‘queen of Bithynia’ and all that), but the OLD entry on insero contains no encouragement along those lines.

ecce Dolabellae comitiorum dies: in classical Latin the particle ecce is construed with the nominative (dies). ‘Insofar as it [sc. ecce] has a definable meaning, it is that of expressing immediacy and engagement, in relation to happenings, people or thoughts, whether visible or not’ (Dionisotti 2007: 83). Here ecce is used for dramatic effect to encourage the audience to visualize the day (dies) of the voting assemblies (comitia) organized to elect Dolabella to the consulship. The effect is enhanced by the absence of a verb.

(i) sortitio praerogativae [centuriae fit]; quiescit. (ii) renuntiatur: tacet. (iii) prima classis vocatur, (iv) renuntiatur. (v) deinde, ita ut assolet [fieri], suffragia [fiunt]; (vi) tum secunda classis [vocatur]: Cicero details the stages of the election process, each of which ran its course without Antony saying anything:

  1. sortitio praerogativae [centuriae fit]: ‘The drawing of lots (sortitio) to establish the centuria with the right to vote first (praerogativae) happened’. Cicero uses extremely condensed language, though the moment in the process he refers to will have been understood by anyone familiar with Roman voting procedure. In the comitia centuriata, the Roman people were divided into units (centuriae) for the purpose of voting, which were in turn grouped and ranked according to wealth. The lot was used to establish which centuria from the ‘first class’ (prima classis) had the right to cast the first vote. This is what the noun sortitio refers to. praerogativae is an adjective in the feminine genitive singular modifying an implied centuriae (‘the drawing of lots of the centuria who had the right to vote first’). Cicero suppresses the verb (fit).
  2. renuntiatur: ‘the result of how that centuria voted is announced’
  3. prima classis vocatur: ‘the rest of the first class is called to the vote’
  4. renuntiatur: ‘the result of how the rest of the first class voted is announced’
  5. deinde, ita ut assolet [fieri], suffragia [fiunt]: ‘the voting of six special equestrian centuriae (= suffragia) happened as is customary’ (for the ellipsis of facere and fieri with possum and assolet (less frequently with solet) see Kühner-Stegmann 2.554)
  6. tum secunda classis [vocatur]: ‘the second class is called to the vote’

Cicero continues with terse, paratactic, highly elliptical prose, to give an impression of how smoothly the election unfolded, in reaching its foregone conclusion. The clockwork nature of the proceedings even squeezes out the refrain ‘and he remained silent’ — though we of course need to imagine a quiescit or a tacet also after stages (iii), (iv), (v), and (vi). The Latin here is trying to reproduce what Cicero verbalizes in the following sentence, i.e. that the various stages of the voting process happened more quickly than he was able to put them into words.

quae omnia sunt citius facta quam dixi: quae is a connecting relative (= et ea). citius is the comparative adverb of citus, ‘quick, fast’ (cf. the Olympic motto: citius, altius, fortius).

§ 83: Antony’s Fake Auspices

In this and the following paragraph Cicero dwells on the moment Antony decided to invalidate or at least vitiate the election of Dolabella, which had just run its course, by announcing that he had become aware of a natural disturbance that signaled divine displeasure. He used the ritual phrase that calls for postponement: alio die means ‘Sorry, just got a communiqué from above: let’s reconvene to repeat the proceedings on another day’. This reiteration never happened; and hence Dolabella’s suffect consulship was technically speaking marred by a religious flaw in the electoral proceedings that would need to be referred to the augural college for discussion. A passage in Cicero’s dialogue On the Laws (de Legibus) gives a sense of the importance of augural approval (or disapproval) in the political decision-making processes of the Roman republic (2.31):38

Maximum autem et praestantissimum in re publica ius est augurum cum auctoritate coniunctum, neque vero hoc quia sum ipse augur ita sentio, sed quia sic existimari nos est necesse. quid enim maius est, si de iure quaerimus, quam posse a summis imperiis et summis potestatibus comitiatus et concilia vel instituta dimittere vel habita rescindere? quid gravius quam rem susceptam dirimi, si unus augur ‘alio <die>’ dixerit? quid magnificentius quam posse decernere, ut magistratu se abdicent consules? quid religiosius quam cum populo, cum plebe agendi ius aut dare aut non dare? quid, legem si non iure rogata est tollere…? nihil domi, nihil militiae per magistratus gestum sine eorum auctoritate posse cuiquam probari?

[But the highest and most important legal instance in the commonwealth is that of the augurs, to whom is accorded great authority. I hold this opinion not because I am an augur myself, but because it is necessary for us the augurs to be esteemed thus. For if we consider their legal rights, what power is greater than to be able to adjourn assemblies and meetings convened by the most powerful magistrates endowed with the highest imperium, or to declare null and void the acts of assemblies presided over by such officials? What is of graver import than to abandon any business already begun, if a single augur says, ‘On another day’? What power is more impressive than that of forcing the consuls to resign their offices? What right is more sacred than that of giving or refusing permission to hold an assembly of the people or of the plebs, or that of abrogating laws illegally passed? … Indeed, no act of any magistrate at home or in the field can have any validity for any person without their authority.]

The religious flaw could be summoned as an argument in political discussion about the validity of Dolabella’s actions as consul. Indeed, it was made to backfire on Antony once he accepted Dolabella’s election to the consulship as valid: his own religious objection now also came to vitiate any action he jointly undertook with his colleague. Cicero does not fail to point this out. See Phil. 3.9, where Antony is blasted as being a worse tyrant than the kings of old (at least those respected the auspices): servabant auspicia reges; quae hic consul augurque neglexit, neque solum legibus contra auspicia ferendis, sed etiam conlega una ferente eo quem ipse ementitis auspiciis vitiosum fecerat (‘The kings observed the auspices, which this consul and augur has neglected, not only by putting through laws in defiance of the auspices, but by doing so jointly with the very colleague whose election he had flawed by falsifying the auspices’) and Phil. 5.9.

Confecto negotio bonus augur — C. Laelium diceres — ‘alio die’ inquit: The sentence begins with an ablative absolute (confecto negotio) that sums up the previous sentence. Cicero places the participle first to stress the aspect of completion. The verb of the main clause is inquit, which sets up the bit of direct speech that Cicero quotes (alio die). C. Laelium diceres is a parenthetical gloss on bonus augur.

bonus augur: sarcastic.

[eum esse] C[aium] Laelium diceres: diceres is an indefinite second person singular (equivalent to the English ‘one’) imperfect subjunctive active, signifying potential. It introduces an indirect statement, though Cicero suppresses the subject accusative (eum) and the verb (esse), leaving only the predicative complement (C. Laelium): ‘one could have said that he was a Gaius Laelius’. C. Laelius (c. 188–129 BCE; consul in 140), who stars in Cicero’s treatise Laelius On Friendship (Laelius de Amicitia), written about the same time as Philippic 2, boasted the sobriquet Sapiens (‘the Wise’) and was a famous augur: put differently, he was everything Antony was not.

alio die: the augural formula that magistrates observing the sky uttered when they became aware of an unfavourable omen (such as thunder or lightening — taken to articulate Jupiter’s displeasure) to adjourn proceedings: ‘Let proceedings continue some other time!’

o impudentiam singularem!: an accusative of exclamation. As Gibbs (2009: 59) puts it: ‘In Latin [as opposed to English where it is limited to some standard frozen phrases such as “Dear me!”], the accusative of exclamation is a productive form of speech; you can just put whatever noun phrase you want into the accusative case, and exclaim!’

quid videras, quid senseras, quid audieras?: a snappy rhetorical question cast as an asyndetic tricolon reinforced by anaphora of quid and homoioteleuton (-eras) to bring out the fact that Antony’s sensory input was precisely nothing. The three pluperfect verbs refer to three different types of signs: lightening (videras); haziness in the atmosphere (senseras); and thunder (audieras). Compare Phil. 5.8 where Cicero lashes out against Antony for having passed a law with all the heavens in turmoil: quam legem igitur se augur dicit tulisse non modo tonante Iove, sed prope caelesti clamore prohibente, hanc dubitabit contra auspicia latam confiteri? (‘Will he therefore hesitate to admit that a law which he, an augur, says he carried not only while Jupiter was thundering but almost against the veto of a heavenly clamour, was carried in violation of the auspices?’).

neque enim te de caelo servasse dixisti nec hodie dicis: the connecting logic of neque enim is as follows: ‘for you must have made some such observation, as you certainly did not declare te de caelo servasse’ (Mayor 1861: 127). This harks back to the distinction between consular spectio (which involves prior announcement of intent) and augural nuntiatio (observation during the proceedings). Antony did not do the former, so he must have performed the latter. dixisti, the first of the two main verbs, refers to the time of the elections; it introduces an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and servasse (the syncopated perfect active infinitive = serva|vi|sse). hodie dicis feeds into the fiction that Philippic 2 is part of a live confrontation between Cicero and Antony on the senate floor on 19 September 44.

id igitur obvenit vitium quod tu iam Kalendis Ianuariis futurum esse provideras et tanto ante praedixeras: the front position of id (‘that very’), a demonstrative adjective modifying vitium, enhances Cicero’s piercing sarcasm and has a correlate in tu at the beginning of the relative clause. In the relative clause, the relative pronoun quod is both the accusative object of provideras and praedixeras and the subject accusative of the indirect statement introduced by provideras (with futurum esse as infinitive). The construction goes into English reasonably well: ‘… which already on the Calends of January you had foreseen would happen…’.

tanto ante: tanto is an ablative of the measure of difference modifying the adverb ante: ‘(by) so long beforehand’. It could refer either to the Calends of January or an even earlier moment in time: see above on § 81 multis ante mensibus.

ergo hercule magna, ut spero, tua potius quam rei publicae calamitate ementitus es auspicia: (implied) subject, verb, and accusative object cluster at the end of the sentence: ementitus es auspicia: ‘you fabricated the auspices’. auspicium mentiri is ‘a standard augural expression’.39 What leads up to them is, after the connective ergo and the interjection hercule, a long phrase in the ablative that specifies the result of Antony’s blasphemy: ‘resulting, as I hope, in your grand destruction rather than the destruction of the commonwealth’.40 magna and tua both modify an implied calamitate.

In Roman political culture, it was a key (yet open) question whether (and if so to what extent) the commonwealth was liable for the religious misdeeds of one of its functionaries. A story in Livy illustrates the issues at the stake — as well as the legalistic logic that informs Rome’s civic religion. Before a battle against the Samnites in 293 BCE, the consul L. Papirius asks his chicken-keepers to take the auspices. (The Romans used the way chicken fed as a way to ascertain the will of the gods: greedy eating was considered a good omen; it thus helped to have put the chicken on a temporary diet just before offering them auspicious food…) In this particular instance, the chicken refused to eat, but one of the chicken-keepers nevertheless reported to the consul that they had eaten greedily, thus ‘falsifying the auspices’. Consul Papirius, who was left in the dark of how the chicken actually fed, was of course delighted and got his army ready for battle, only to be told by his nephew that the auspices might have been meddled with. Papirius’ reply is telling:

… ceterum qui auspicio adest, si quid falsi nuntiat, in semet ipsum religionem recipit; mihi quidem tripudium nuntiatum, populo Romano exercituique egregium auspicium est.

[He who assists at the auspices (auspicio adest) if he reports anything that is false, draws down the religio (ritual pollution) upon himself; as for me I received a report of tripudium [i.e. a very positive omen], and I take it as an excellent auspicium for the Roman People and the army (trans. Linderski 1995: 615).]

Linderski (1995: 615) draws attention to the remarkable fact that Papirius assumes that ‘Jupiter is bound by the false announcement of a favorable auspicium’. Put differently, according to the logic of Rome’s augural law, ‘an augur who announced a prohibitive sign, even one that he had made up, was felt to bring it into existence by his very act of proclaiming it’ (Ramsey 2003: 281, with reference to Linderski 1986: 2214). Papirius proved to be right, though as an extra precaution he positioned the chicken-keepers in the front-line. Sure enough, the pullularius who had falsified the auspices got hid by an errant spear even before the battle started, which the Romans went on to win handily. In short, we have a falsified report that paradoxically establishes both (a) a legally binding contract between Jupiter and the Roman magistrate (acting on behalf of the res publica); and (b) a state of religious pollution that requires expiation. The question of interest to us is who carries the religious stigma and will become the target of divine wrath: the individual person who committed the religious transgression or the commonwealth of which he is a part? Both Livy (consider the safety-measures of Papirius who deliberately placed the pullularius in harm’s way) and Cicero (see the hedge ut spero) suggests that this was not entirely clear and may change from case to case, depending on various variables. Either the individual or his community could be punished, and Cicero of course hopes that in this particular instance divinely inflicted catastrophe would redound on the individual (Antony) rather than the res publica.

obstrinxisti religione populum Romanum; augur auguri, consul consuli obnuntiasti: the two alliterated verbs obstrinxisti and obnuntiasti form a weighty frame for the two clauses. Both are technical terms, which might be glossed as follows: obstringere religione = to taint with pollution through a breach in religious protocol; obnuntiare = to oppose a public act or decision with reference to an adverse sign from the gods. Together, they generate a vivid image of the chaos Antony caused, which is reflected in the inverted word-order of the first clause, the clashing polyptoton of the second clause, and the husteron proteron (obstringere is the outcome of performing an obnuntiatio on the basis of fake auspices).

augur auguri, consul consuli obnuntiasti: augur and consul stand in apposition to the subject of the sentence: ‘you, an augur, objected to an augur, you, a consul, objected to a consul’. The datives auguri and consuli refer to Caesar, who, like Antony, was both augur and consul at the time. (He had himself been elected to the priestly college of augurs in 47 BCE; see Crawford 1974: 494). The utter lack of solidarity between holders of the same position or office displayed by Antony is reminiscent of civil war, which pitched citizen against citizen.

nolo plura [dicere], ne acta Dolabellae videar convellere, quae necesse est aliquando ad nostrum collegium deferantur: nolo governs an (elided) supplementary infinitive, which takes plura as accusative object. The ne-clause is one of purpose: ‘lest I seem…’. Cicero concedes that he is walking on a tight rope — the more he lays into Antony’s conduct at the election of Dolabella, the more he undermines the legitimacy of Dolabella’s actions in office, which for present purposes he deems inopportune.

quae necesse est aliquando ad nostrum collegium deferantur: Cicero continues with a relative clause with acta as antecedent of quae, built into which is a substantive consecutive clause dependent on necesse est (with the ut — as often — omitted), hence the subjunctive deferantur: ‘… which must at some future time (aliquando) be referred to our college [= the college of augurs, of which Cicero was a member, hence nostrum]’, sc. to make a decision about their validity. As Denniston (1926: 149) explains: ‘It rested with the college of augurs to decide whether or not a magistrate’s action had been “vitiated” by neglect of the auspices. … Cicero speaks of Dolabella’s acts being referred to the augural college, because the validity of his acts rested on the invalidity of Antony’s obnuntiatio to his election, and the question of the validity of the obnuntiatio would be referred to the college’.

§ 84: On to the Lupercalia…

Cicero is winding down the discussion of Antony’s augural objections to the consulship of Dolabella. The next topic on the agenda is the festival of the Lupercalia on 15 February 44 BCE. At Phil. 13.41 Cicero suggests that Antony as good as murdered Caesar on that day by trying to crown him with a diadem. What exactly happened — and why — is difficult to establish with certainty — not least since it is tied up with the significance of a rather strange religious rite, the Lupercalia, which has been the subject of much scholarly controversy. Here is North’s summary of what this festival entailed (2008: 147–48):

before February 44 B.C.E., there were two teams (sodalitates) of Luperci — one the team of Romulus, the other the team of Remus. Each was apparently called after an ancient Roman gens — the Fabii and the Quinctii or Quintilii, though the exact names of the sodalitates are variously reported. Romulus’ team was the Quinctii, Remus’ the Fabii. How these groups, named after particular ancient gentes, came to be associated with one each of the twin founders is not recorded. The traditional ritual programme had two stages. In the first stage, at the Lupercal itself (i.e. the scene of the discovery of the twins suckled by the wolf), the Luperci sacrificed a goat and a dog. They then smeared the forehead of the young Luperci (perhaps the initiates) with blood and milk. The new bloods then gave a laugh. The hide of the sacrificed goat (or goats?) was cut up to provide loin-cloths for the runners and strips of hide to be used as whips, also by the runners. There was then feasting, with much wine. The second stage consisted of running around in the Palatine / forum / sacra via area of Rome, striking all the people they met with their strips of hide and joking, laughing, larking about and exchanging obscenities with those who attended the ritual. It was believed that women who had been struck with the goatskin whip would become pregnant. Gerhard Binder has pointed out, rightly in my view, how these practices imply that the ritual was of the Carnival type. In my view this is a fundamental point, which needs to be borne in mind later on in this argument. At least our sources, not least Valerius Maximus, are emphatic about the joking, jeering, obscenity and play that accompanied the progress of the run.

North encourages us to distinguish between at least three layers of meaning during the celebration of the festival in 44 BCE:

(i) The traditional ritual and its functions: purification, fertility, protection: he locates the themes of ‘purification’, ‘fertility’, and ‘protection’ at the centre of the ‘ritual programme’ (2008: 154–55), all carried out in a spirit of Carnival and the celebration of the annual renewal of the life-cycle at the beginning of spring. The legend associates the origins of the ritual with the founders of the city, Romulus and Remus, recalling also in its name their suckling by a she-wolf. North’s analysis of the basic elements of this programme is as follows (2008: 148):

  • the invocation of the first creation of the community (the respective sodales of Remus and of Romulus, the founders);
  • the confrontation of primitive to civilized (i.e. the naked Luperci in contrast with the onlookers from the contemporary city);
  • the annual ritual purification of the community (the sacrifice and the running and the actions of the runners);
  • the ritual fertilization of the human community (the ritual of whipping).

(ii) The inscription of Caesar in the ritual programme: becoming a founder: in some accounts, the twins headed the initial two group of naked runners (called sodalitates): Remus the Fabii, Romulus the Quintilii. In 44 BCE, in honour of Caesar, a third group of runners representing the gens Iulia was added. The head of this sodalitas was Antony: ‘We know again from Dio [45.30], though also from Plutarch [Ant. 12.2] and, if a bit confusedly, from Nicolaus of Damascus [Life of Augustus 71], that Antony was running specifically for the new group of Luperci, the Iuliani, and that he was in fact their leader’ (North 2008: 147). Put differently, even without the incident with the diadem, Caesar had coopted the ritual for purposes of self-promotion, elevating himself to the status of a founding figure. That Antony was chosen to run as representative of the gens Iulia must have been a great honour for him – and signals his proximity to the dictator at the time.

(iii) The incident of the diadem: one honour too far?: despite the royal associations of the golden chair and the magnificent rope, Caesar’s status at the time of the festival was not yet that of a king — it seems to have been the crowning with the diadem that put the nail in this particular coffin. As North (2008: 146) points out: ‘Note that Cicero is not implying here that Caesar was already enthroned as King: it is clear that the robe (even if it was kingly, as Stefan Weinstock argued) and the golden throne (clearly not a consul’s proper seat) are both honours he can use, but evidently are not to be seen as making him the rex of Rome’.

This raises the question of why the crowning incident happened. Pelling (1988: 144) outlines the different options:

(1) Perhaps A. acted on his own initiative. If so, he may (a) genuinely have wished C. to take the title of king, or to force his hand; or (b) have hoped to gratify C. with a welcome gesture; or (c) have wished to discredit or embarrass him. (2) But it is more reasonable to assume that A. would not have risked this gesture without C.’s prior encouragement. If so, C. may (a) have aimed for kingship, and intended to accept the diadem if the people reacted favourably; or (b) have wished to make a public gesture of his refusal to become king; or (c) have intended this as a test of public opinion, if he was himself unsure.

To fully appreciate the historical dynamics that shaped this event (as well as later interpretations of it, both ancient and modern), we need to look into the economy of honours that defined the relationship between Caesar as de-facto ruler of Rome and the disempowered, but by no means powerless members of the traditional ruling elite. In his Life of Julius Caesar, Suetonius offers an interesting take on the social and psychological ‘dynamics of honouring’ (76):

Praegravant tamen cetera facta dictaque eius, ut et abusus dominatione et iure caesus existimetur. non enim honores modo nimios recepit: continuum consulatum, perpetuam dictaturam praefecturamque morum, insuper praenomen Imperatoris, cognomen Patris patriae, statuam inter reges, suggestum in orchestra; sed et ampliora etiam humano fastigio decerni sibi passus est: sedem auream in curia et pro tribunali, tensam et ferculum circensi pompa, templa, aras, simulacra iuxta deos, pulvinar, flaminem, lupercos, appellationem mensis e suo nomine; ac nullos non honores ad libidinem cepit et dedit.

[At the same time, certain other actions and words so turn the scale, that it is thought that he abused his power and was justly slain. For not only did he accept excessive honours, such as an uninterrupted consulship, the dictatorship for life, and the censorship of public morals, as well as the forename Imperator, the surname of Father of his Country, a statue among those of the kings, and a raised couch in the orchestra; he also allowed honours to be bestowed on him which exceeded mortal measure: a golden throne in the senate house and in court; a chariot and litter in the procession at the circus; temples, altars, and statues beside those of the gods; a special priest, an additional college of the Luperci, and the calling of one of the months by his name. In fact, there were no honours which he did not receive or confer at will.]

John Henderson encourages us to read this as Suetonius’ final verdict on Julius Caesar, that, yes, on balance, he was a tyrant, so fair game. The historiographer Cassius Dio (c. 155–235 CE, so writing centuries after the events) also embeds the incident at the Lupercalia within a double-edged dynamics of honouring Caesar (44.3):

It happened as follows, and his death was due to the cause now to be given. He had aroused dislike that was not altogether unjustified, except in so far as it was the senators themselves who had by their novel and excessive honours encouraged him and puffed him up, only to find fault with him on this very account and to spread slanderous reports how glad he was to accept them and how he behaved more haughtily as a result of them. It is true that Caesar did now and then err by accepting some of the honours voted him and believing that he really deserved them; yet those were most blameworthy who, after beginning to honour him as he deserved, led him on and brought blame upon him for the measures they had passed. He neither dared, of course, to thrust them all aside, for fear of being thought contemptuous, nor, again, could he be safe in accepting them; for excessive honour and praise render even the most modest men conceited, especially if they seem to be bestowed with sincerity.

Dio goes on to enumerate the ‘number and nature’ of the privileges that were granted to Caesar, including (for our purposes) the use of a gilded chair and attire once worn by the kings, and the creation of a third priestly college (called ‘Julian’) in his role as overseer of the Lupercalia. This festival later on comes in for a closer look (44.11):

Another thing that happened not long after these events proved still more clearly that, although he pretended to shun the title [sc. of king], in reality he desired to assume it. For when he had entered the Forum at the festival of the Lupercalia and was sitting on the rostra in his gilded chair, adorned with the royal apparel and resplendent in his crown overlaid with gold, Antony with his fellow-priests saluted him as king and binding a diadem upon his head, said: ‘The people offer this to you through me’. And Caesar answered: ‘Jupiter alone is king of the Romans’, and sent the diadem to Jupiter on the Capitol; yet he was not angry, but caused it to be inscribed in the records that he had refused to accept the kingship when offered to him by the people through the consul. It was accordingly suspected that this thing had been deliberately arranged and that he was anxious for the name, but wished to be somehow compelled to take it; consequently the hatred against him was intense.

Sed arrogantiam hominis insolentiamque cognoscite: the -que links arrogantiam and insolentiam, the two accusative objects of cognoscite (second person plural present imperative active). hominis goes with both nouns, which are virtual synonyms of each other.

quamdiu tu voles, vitiosus consul Dolabella [erit]; rursus, cum voles, salvis auspiciis creatus [est]: Cicero foregrounds the whim of Antony by using the personal pronoun tu (to be pronounced with contempt and outrage in equal measure), which, from a syntactical point of view is strictly speaking unnecessary. Cicero here seems to be objecting to Antony’s inconsistent behaviour in the aftermath of the election. In a senate meeting on 17 March, i.e. shortly after the assassination of Caesar, he accepted Dolabella as his colleague in the consulship despite his obnuntiatio during the election. This shift towards a more accommodating stance will likely have come as a reaction to Dolabella’s strategic schmoozing with the liberators, motivated no doubt by his desire to have his consulship officially recognized: see Ramsey (2003: 143–44). Cicero ignores these pragmatic considerations, preferring to portray Antony’s oscillations as an index of his arrogance — the action of a high and mighty individual who does not play by the republican rule book and enjoys jerking his peers around.

quamdiu tu voles: quamdiu is a temporal conjunction used to express contemporaneous action (‘as long as’); voles is the second person singular future active of volo, velle: Antony’s control over the status of Dolabella’s election to the consulship depends on his whim and will and extends indefinitely into the future (at least until the college of augurs considered the case and produced a definitive ruling: but Cicero isn’t interested in such nuances).

vitiosus consul Dolabella: a very condensed way of saying ‘Dolabella will be a consul, whose election to office is tainted by a religious flaw’. vitiosus is short for vitio creatus: see Mayor (1861: 127).

rursus: introduces the second of two contrasting terms (OLD s.v. 6), here vitiosus and salvis auspiciis creatus.

cum voles: a case of ‘conditional cum’. See Gildersleeve & Lodge 373: ‘cum with the Future, Future Perfect, or Universal Present, is often almost equivalent to si, if, with which it is sometimes interchanged’. Cicero drives home the point that Antony, whenever it suits him, considers Dolabella’s election unflawed, ignoring his own religious objection.

salvis auspiciis: a nominal ablative absolute (consisting of an adjective and a noun) and technical phrase meaning ‘with the auspices in order’.

si nihil est cum augur eis verbis nuntiat quibus tu nuntiasti, confitere te, cum ‘alio die’ dixeris, sobrium non fuisse; sin est aliqua vis in istis verbis, ea quae sit augur a collega requiro: we are here dealing with two simple conditions in the present:

  1. protasis: si nihil est (followed by a temporal cum-clause in the indicative and a relative clause) — apodosis: the present imperative confitere (of the deponent confiteor), which introduces an indirect statement with te as subject accusative, sobrium as predicative complement, and non fuisse as verb.)
  2. protasis: sin est aliqua vis — apodosis: requiro.

They map out two different ways to explain Antony’s inconsistent attitude towards his own augural objection to scupper his attempt to have it both ways: (i) one may assume that an augur using the phrase alio die makes a meaningless utterance — in which case Antony was drunk when he made it. The drift of Cicero’s thought here is not entirely obvious given that the premise specified in the si-clause is false (augural utterances are meaningful), and the inference (Antony must have been drunk when he said it) hence seemingly arbitrary. Arguably, what Cicero wishes to say is that if Antony considers his own utterance of no moment, it is because he was not qualified at the time to make it owing to his intoxication. As Lacey (1986: 219) explains: ‘The madman (furiosus) and the man who had had a seizure (mente captus) were debarred from legal acts… Cicero suggests that this could be true of the drunk too’.

(ii) or perhaps Antony operates on the basis of a special force of the formula so far only known to himself, which renders one and the same pronouncement valid at one moment and invalid the next, depending on the whim of the augur in question: Cicero, as a fellow augur, asks Antony with mock politeness whether he is able to explain this novel usage of the ritual idiom.

si nihil est: ‘if it means nothing’

cum augur eis verbis nuntiat quibus tu nuntiasti: eis verbis refers to the formula alio die. Cicero uses nuntiat and nuntiasti (the syncopated second person singular perfect indicative active of nuntio = nuntia|vi|sti) in an absolute sense, without an accusative object or object sentence: ‘to make an announcement’.

sin est aliqua vis in istis verbis, ea quae sit augur a collega requiro: ea picks up vis and belongs into the indirect question quae sit (hence the subjunctive); the nominative augur stands either in apposition or in predicative position to the subject of the sentence, with Cicero self-identifying: ‘I, an augur / as augur, ask from his colleague what that (sc. force) is’.

sed ne forte ex multis rebus gestis M. Antoni rem unam pulcherrimam transiliat oratio, ad Lupercalia veniamus: At this point, Cicero breaks off his discussion of Antony’s manipulation of augural law to ensure coverage of the anecdote he labels the most disgraceful (pulcherrimam = turpissimam) on Antony’s record, his attempt to crown Caesar king at the Lupercalia, which took place on 15 February 44.

ex multis rebus gestis M. Antoni: a partitive use of the preposition ex. Cicero here harks back to his earlier point that the number of Antony’s misdeeds calls for abbreviated and selective treatment. res gestae usually refers to (glorious) deeds done in the service of the state; Antony has been accumulating the debauched counterfeit of the real thing.

veniamus: first person plural present subjunctive active (exhortative): ‘Let us…’

non dissimulat, patres conscripti: apparet [eum] esse commotum; sudat, pallet: upon his mention of the Lupercalia, Cicero imagines Antony showing physical signs of distress. He is unable to suppress (non dissimulat) his inner turmoil (apparet esse commotum), breaks out in cold sweat (sudat) and turns pale (pallet).

apparet: the accusative commotum indicates that apparet is an impersonal verb (‘it appears’) that governs an indirect statement. The subject accusative (eum) needs to be supplied. (Alternatively, Cicero could have written apparet esse commotus: ‘he appears to be agitated’.)

quidlibet [faciat], modo ne faciat quod in porticu Minucia fecit: i.e. puking all over the place. The signs of physical distress that Cicero attributes to Antony are so powerful that he begins to wonder whether Antony is going to be sick — not least since he has a track record of letting it all out. The reference in the quod-clause is to Antony doing the technicolour yawn after over-indulging the night before while conducting public business — an anecdote Cicero dwells on at length at 2.63 (cited above 227–28).

modo ne faciat: modo ne (= dummodo ne) here means ‘provided that’ and introduces a conditional wish (hence the present subjunctive faciat).

in porticu Minucia: the porticus Minucia, located in the Campus Martius, was built by M. Minucius Rufus (consul in 110 BCE), with the spoils of a military campaign in Thrace. See Velleius Paterculus 2.8.3: per eadem tempora clarus eius Minuci qui porticus, quae hodieque celebres sunt, molitus est, ex Scordiscis triumphus fuit (‘about the same time took place the famous triumph over the Scordisci of Minucius, the builder of the porticoes which are famous even in our own day’).

quae potest esse turpitudinis tantae defensio?: quae is an interrogative adjective modifying defensio: ‘what defence can there be of shamefulness so profound?’

cupio audire, ut videam ubi campus Leontinus appareat: Cicero continues by saying ‘let’s hear it!’ — after all, Antony has gifted his teacher in rhetoric with such riches that we can expect an outstanding performance. After Phil. 2.8–9 and 42–43, he thus has yet another dig at Sextus Clodius, whom Antony enriched with money and a chunk of what had been public land (ager publicus) in a particularly fertile region in Sicily around the town of Leontini, which Antony distributed among his followers as part of his settlement projects earlier in the year. Sextus Clodius had a hand in drafting Antony’s response to Cicero’s first Philippic, delivered in the senate on 19 September 44 BCE, so he is an obvious proxy target in the second. His entry in Suetonius’ On Teachers of Grammar and Rhetoric (De Grammaticis et Rhetoribus), which is partly based on evidence from Cicero’s Philippic 2, reads as follows (29):41

Sextus Clodius e Sicilia, Latinae simul Graecaeque eloquentiae professor, male oculatus et dicax par oculorum in amicitia M. Antoni triumviri extrisse se aiebat; eiusdem uxorem Fulviam, cui altera bucca inflatior erat, acumen stili temptare dixit, nec eo minus — immo vel magis — ob hoc Antonio gratus. a quo mox consule ingens etiam congiarium accepit, ut ei in Philippicis Cicero obicit (2.42–43).

[Sextus Clodius, from Sicily, taught both Greek and Latin rhetoric. Having poor sight but a ready tongue, he used to say that he had worn out both his eyes in the friendship of Marcus Antonius the triumvir. He also once said that Antonius’ wife Fulvia — one of whose cheeks was rather puffy — was ‘testing the point of his pen’; and yet Antonius found him no less agreeable — or rather, all the more agreeable — on this account. Soon, when Antonius was consul, he also gave Clodius a huge gift, as Cicero charges in the Philippics.]

More generally, Cicero likes to show up his adversaries not just in substance but also in style. (For example: in the Divinatio in Caecilium and the pro Caelio, Cicero delights in demonstrating to a younger orator how things are done.) See also Phil. 2.84, 2.101; 3.22; 5.19.

§ 85: Vive le roi! Le roi est mort

Cicero now moves on to a vivid account of what happened on 15 February 44 BCE. He starts with Caesar sitting on the speakers’ platform (which is were the run of the Luperci came to an end), decked out in quasi-royal regalia (a purple toga, a golden chair, a crown) but not yet unequivocally a ‘king’. The runners arrive, in the nude as is ritual practice, but somehow Antony has a diadem on him: where does it come from? Cicero ponders various possibilities he rejects (for instance: Antony just found one abandoned on the roadside…) and argues for premeditation and prior arrangements as the only plausible explanation. Antony tries repeatedly to put the diadem on Caesar, who keeps rejecting it, as the people alternately groan and cheer. According to Cicero, the charade outs Antony unambiguously as a proponent of autocracy at Rome — and thereby hastened and sealed Caesar’s assassination.42 (Here and again at the funeral we should recognize that when claims to say what ‘the people’ thought and felt feature, these are, as always, bound to be hooked to partisan interpretations passed off as accounts; their counterpart is the denunciation of rent-a-crowd or mobster seizure of public space and the citizenry displaced.)

Sedebat in rostris collega tuus amictus toga purpurea, in sella aurea, coronatus: the subject of the sentence is collega tuus (= Caesar). In part through front position of the verb (in the imperfect: a durative, establishing the background scene for an action about to happen), postposition of tuus, and the descending asyndetic tricolon amictus toga purpurea, in sella aurea, coronatus the sentence paints a stately tableau of Caesar, displaying three of the honours that had recently been voted for him: the right to dress up in a purple garment, the use of a golden chair, and the wearing of a certain kind of crown. By ending with coronatus, Cicero also hints at the incident about to happen, though it is important to note that these insignia in and of themselves did not seem to have turned Caesar (fully) into a ‘king’ — it took Antony’s proffering of the diadem (and Caesar’s acceptance of it) that would have resulted in him truly crossing this particular line.

in rostris: rostra is a standard metonym for the platform from which speakers addressed the people. The rostra were the Latin ship-beaks that the Roman naval forces under C. Maenius captured at the battle of Antium (on the river Astura) in 338 BCE, which were subsequently attached to the platform (Livy 8.14.12; Pliny, Natural History 34.20). Antony decided it was the appropriate location to display Cicero’s head and hands the following year (Plutarch, Life of Antony 20–21).

amictus toga purpurea: amictus is the perfect passive participle of the fourth-conjugation verb amicio, ‘to throw round’, ‘to wrap about’. It is used exclusively of loose outer garments, in contrast to induere (of clothes that are put or drawn on) or vestire (of items put on for protection or ornament): ‘wrapped in a purple toga’. The magnificent purple toga amounted to a quasi-royal robe: ‘in 45 Caesar was granted the triumphal dress for all games and for the sacrifices’ and the purple gown that Cicero refers to here seems to have evolved out of this ‘perpetuation of the triumphal privileges’:

Examining the relevant decree of 44 we notice a certain change in the terminology. The dress was still occasionally, as in 45, ‘triumphal dress’, but more often just ‘purple’ and twice even ‘regal dress’. The distinction is important. The regal dress was always purple and so was the early triumphal dress until the third century B.C. when it was replaced by the embroidered dress, the toga picta. If the archaic dress was adopted in 44, it may have appeared as another triumphal dress but was in fact the regal dress.43

Caesar’s attire thus stood in particularly stark contrast to the stripped-down appearance of the Lupercus Antony, generating another instance of sartorial satire. As Dyck (2001: 122) puts it: ‘Cicero reacts with consternation to the bare-chested Antony who, nudus after running in the Lupercalia, appeared as consul in the theater to offer a crown to Caesar. Caesar himself was dressed in the purple toga Romans associated with kingship: a sartorial deficiency on the one side, excess on the other’.44

in sella aurea: the golden chair is one of the extravagant honours enumerated by Suetonius and Dio (both cited above): ‘while an ivory sella curulis served as a marker of the higher magistracies of the Roman Republic, the gilded version could not avoid regal associations: golden thrones were regularly used by kings throughout the Mediterranean and thus seem to have been previously avoided by the Romans both in honoring their own and in presenting gifts to foreign kings’ (Pasco-Pranger 2006: 232). Together with the purple robe it also features in a lurid incident that happened just before Caesar’s death, reported by Cicero in his dialogue de Divinatione 1.119: qui (sc. Caesar) cum immolaret illo die quo primum in sella aurea sedit et cum purpurea veste processit, in extis bovis opimi cor non fuit (‘While Caesar was offering sacrifices on the day when he sat for the first time on a golden throne and first appeared in public in a purple robe, no heart was found in the vitals of the votive ox’).45

coronatus: Caesar embraced the (tactfully granted) honour to wear a crown made of laurel leaves on all occasions in order, what else?, to hide receding hairline: it trumped a toupée, bigly. See Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 45:

Circa corporis curam morosior, ut non solum tonderetur diligenter ac raderetur, sed velleretur etiam, ut quidam exprobraverunt, calvitii vero deformitatem iniquissime ferret, saepe obtrectatorum iocis obnoxiam expertus. Ideoque et deficientem capillum revocare a vertice adsueverat et ex omnibus decretis sibi a senatu populoque honoribus non aliud aut recepit aut usurpavit libentius quam ius laureae coronae perpetuo gestandae.

[He was rather fastidious in the care of his body, being not only carefully trimmed and shaved, but even having superfluous hair plucked out, as some have charged. His baldness was a disfigurement which troubled him greatly, since he found that it was often the subject of gibes of his detractors. Because of it he used to comb forward his scanty hair from the crown of his head, and of all the honours voted him by the senate and people there was none which he received or made use of more gladly than the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath at all times.]

At the Lupercalia, though, his choice of head-gear seems to have been a crown made of gold (Dio 44.11.2, cited above). Scholars disagree on what the crown signified: on the basis of numismatic evidence, Pelling (1988: 145–46) thinks the crown at issue is ‘the jewelled corona aurea of the triumphator’, whereas others see it as evoking the insignia of the ancient kings of Rome (e.g. Weinstock 1971: 272).

escendis [rostra], accedis ad sellam {Lupercus} — ita eras Lupercus, ut te consulem esse meminisse deberes — diadema ostendis: Cicero uses another asyndetic tricolon, consisting of the three vivid historical presents escendis, accedis, and ostendis. The third colon (diadema ostendis), which contains a transitive verb after two intransitive ones, forms a powerful climax, set off and emphasized by the parenthetical inset ita… deberes.

accedis ad sellam {Lupercus}: Shackleton Bailey suggests that the word Lupercus has dropped out after ad sellam; its presence in the text certainly would help to set up the parenthesis, improve the flow of the sentence, and reinforce the tension between Antony’s two identities as consul (all but forgotten — appropriately, consulem is in an oblique case hidden away in an indirect statement embedded within a subordinate clause) and Lupercus (preponderant — appropriately, the noun occurs twice in the nominative, both times in a main clause).

ita eras Lupercus, ut te consulem esse meminisse deberes: literally, ‘you were in such a way Lupercus that you ought to have remembered that you were consul’: the ita is concessive (‘even if you were a Lupercus…’) and is followed by a consecutive-restrictive ut-clause (hence the subjunctive) ‘… yet you still ought to have remembered that you were consul’). deberes takes meminisse as object infinitive, which in turn governs an indirect statement with te as subject accusative, esse as verb, and consulem as predicative complement. Two free translations are: ‘your office of Lupercus could not dispense you from the duty of remembering that you were consul’ (Mayor) or ‘you were a Lupercus, but you should have remembered that you were a consul’ (Shackleton Bailey).

diadema: re-popularized by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the diadem of Ravenclaw turned into a horcrux by Voldemort), the diadem became a popular symbol of royal power in the Graeco-Roman world from Alexander the Great onwards. But this is the first time the word and the thing appear at Rome (except in women’s hairdo’s) — and was never fully naturalized in Latin. (See for instance Horace, Odes 2.2, where it is associated with the Parthian king.) Philippic 2 makes sure diadema ties — pins — Julius Caesar to tyranni… cide. For further details (and images) see

gemitus toto foro [oriuntur]. unde diadema [venit / accepisti]?: Cicero keeps his prose snappy, suppressing the verbs, here supplied exempli gratia, but perhaps best left out in the translation as well: ‘Groans all over the Forum! Whence the diadem?’ As Toher (2016: 310) points out, the rhetorical question is odd, but sets up Cicero subsequent rejection of a different version that was clearly in circulation at the time, namely that Antony had picked the diadem up along the way, on the spur of the moment: ‘It is possible that Cicero here engages in a rhetorical ploy: his question suggests an alternative explanation whose plausibility is then rejected in order to highlight the presentation of the diadem as a premeditated act by Antonius. But Cicero’s statement might also be explained by the fact that he thought it necessary to refute the idea that Antonius’ action was spontaneous, which would only have been necessary if Cicero thought his audience knew of another version … of how Antonius came to have the diadem’ (with reference to the Caesar-friendly historiographer Nicolaus of Damascus 20.69; see also Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar, 79.1 and Dio 44.9, cited above: they recount or allude to an incident that supposedly happened a few weeks before the Lupercalia and involved the two tribunes Flavus and Marullus lifting a diadem from a statue of Caesar and discarding it in the streets).

non enim abiectum [diadema] sustuleras, sed attuleras domo, meditatum et cogitatum scelus: Cicero presents his audience with a false dilemma: each of the two options he outlines is rather implausible on its own, but the absurdity of the first is designed to endow the second with credibility. That Antony came across a diadem abandoned in the streets is a rather unlikely scenario — despite the earlier incident mentioned in the previous note; but it is also rather unlikely that he had the diadem on him from the moment he left his house (domo): how (and where) would he have carried it while running his naked mile as Lupercus? By far the likeliest scenario seems to be that someone handed Antony the diadem as he was nearing the end of his route — but Cicero does not even consider this option since it does not fit into his agenda of turning Antony into the sole culprit who cooked up and executed the nefarious scheme all by himself. Built into the question of how Antony got hold of the diadem is another question: was his act of crowning Caesar spontaneous (implied and dismissed in non… abiectum sustuleras) or premeditated (tautologically endorsed by meditatum et cogitatum scelus). (Note that Cicero does not go into the question whether Antony came up with the scheme himself or followed Caesar’s instructions.)

meditatum et cogitatum scelus: the accusative phrase stands in apposition to (and explains) the whole preceding sentence: see Gildersleeve & Lodge 204: ‘you had brought the diadem with you from home — (we are dealing with) a well-rehearsed and premeditated crime!’ For the meaning and grammar of meditatum see Mayor (1861: 129): ‘meditari… is used of speakers rehearsing, conning over their speeches, of actors “getting up” their parts. … meditatum is here passive, though meditor is a deponent’.

tu diadema imponebas cum plangore populi; ille cum plausu reiciebat: the imperfect in Latin is principally used to express duration (durative) or repetition (iterative) of an action in the past. But it can also signify (failed) attempt (conative — from conor, conari, ‘to try, attempt’): Antony repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, tried to put the diadem on Caesar (imponebas: iterative + conative); Caesar kept refusing it / refused it again and again (reiciebat: durative or iterative). The imperfects suggest a rather long-drawn out process, a drama of refutation, unfolding in dialogue with reactions (approving / disapproving) from the crowd.

cum plangore populi: plangor is the noun to plango, -gere, -xi, -ctum, which means ‘to beat, to strike’ and specifically ‘to beat one’s breast in a sign of mourning’, hence ‘to mourn, to lament’. Cicero makes it out that the entire people who were watching the scene broke out in collective lamentation, a much stronger reaction than the groans of horrified premonition (gemitus) that went up when Antony first flashed the diadem.

cum plausu [populi]: plausus is the noun to plaudo, -dere, -si, -sum, which means ‘to strike with a flat or concave surface, to clap’, specifically ‘to clap the hands in applause’. It thus correlates antithetically with plangor — the people (responsible for both soundtracks) change beating their breasts in mourning at the prospect of a king to clapping their hands in delight at Caesar’s gesture of refusal.

tu ergo unus, scelerate, inventus es qui, cum auctor regni esses eumque quem collegam habebas dominum habere velles, idem temptares quid populus Romanus ferre et pati posset: the sentence explores the motivations behind Antony’s action, which, according to Cicero, were twofold: (i) he wanted to enslave himself — and, more generally, the entire Roman people — to Caesar by turning Caesar unequivocally into a kingly figure; (ii) he wanted to test the waters whether (or to what extent) the Roman people would follow suit. The syntax is rather intricate:

Main clause: tu… inventus es


relative clause: qui… temptares



cum-clause: cum… esses eumque… velles




relative clause: quem… habebas



indirect question: quid… posset

Cicero starts by singling Antony out in the main clause tu ergo unus, scelerate, inventus es. Note the emphatic front position of tu, the cacophonic hiatus ergo | unus, and the jingle u-nus ~ inven-tus. tu is the antecedent of the subsequent relative clause of characteristic (hence the subjunctive temptares). Embedded within the relative clause is a circumstantial cum-clause: cum auctor… velles, with the -que after eum linking esses and velles. habere, an object infinitive with velles, governs the double accusative eum and dominum: ‘… to have him as master…’. Within the cum-clause we get another relative clause (quem collegam habebas). We conclude with an indirect question (quid… posset). The intricate syntax is the result of Cicero trying to combine an assessment of Antony’s personal motivation (the wish to be king-maker and enslave himself) with a strategic experiment in crowd-psychology (how will the people react to seeing Caesar crowned king?). The word that coordinates the two prongs is the pronoun idem (in the masculine nominative singular), ‘the very same’, which coordinates the content of the cum-clause with the content of the relative clause and the indirect question. This is difficult to render elegantly into English; it is perhaps best to turn the cum-clause into a self-standing main clause: ‘It was you who was the mastermind of establishing kingship and you who wanted Caesar as master rather than as colleague — and so you were the only person who could be found to try out what the Roman people could bear and suffer’.

The key thing to note is that Cicero assumes throughout that Antony acted on his own initiative, which is perhaps not the most likely scenario — and utterly implausible with respect to reason (ii): if the incident unfolded at least in part in order to test the public reaction to the possibility of Caesar assuming the kingship, then Caesar surely must have been involved in the planning and the stage-management.

scelerate: the vocative of the adjective sceleratus, here used as a noun. It picks up on (by etymological indication of the source of) meditatum et cogitatum scelus.

quem collegam habebas: the relative clause picks up on the earlier parenthesis ita eras Lupercus, ut te consulem esse meminisse deberes: Cicero keeps emphasizing that Antony was a consul at the time.

§ 86: Antony as Willing Slave and Would-Be King-Maker

Cicero continues to dwell on Antony’s attempt to crown Caesar king — acting on his perverse desire to enslave himself, together with everyone else. His associations with tyranny are such that Cicero considers the task of the conspirators only half done with the murder of Caesar — in fact, he suggests that Antony, who volunteered Caesar for the position of monarch and willingly embraced a condition of servitude, deserved even more to be killed than the dictator.

At etiam misericordiam captabas: supplex te ad pedes abiciebas: apparently, after Caesar’s initial refusal, Antony persisted to try to win him over by pathos-fraught rhetoric and the performance of a so-called proskunesis (= throwing oneself at the feet of the ruler, perhaps even kissing the hem of his robe) — a royal Persian custom, later also adopted by the (Greek) Hellenistic kings, which the Romans associated with extreme subservience or indeed enslavement. captabas is another conative use of the imperfect (‘you even tried to go in for pathos’); abiciebas is durative, underscoring how long Antony abased himself by being prostrate at the feet of Caesar. Denniston (1926: 153) offers the interesting suggestion that Cicero here deliberately misrepresents a detail of the scene: ‘Our other authorities say nothing of this. If Antony stooped to pick up the crown from the ground, his attitude might have been mistaken for prostration. If he really did prostrate himself, in oriental fashion, he can hardly have done so except with the intention of making Caesar odious’.46

supplex te ad pedes abiciebas: technically speaking, supplex, modifying the subject of the sentence (embedded in abiciebas), is unnecessary. Its use brings out the utter self-abasement of Antony, who was consul at the time. The highest Roman magistrate going weak-kneed at the feet of a would-be king is the stuff of political nightmares for any member of the senatorial elite. The reflexive pronoun te (= yourself) is the accusative object of abiciebas.

quid petens? ut servires?: Cicero follows up the tableau of Antony at Caesar’s feet with two sentence fragments: an interrogative particle + participle (quid petens) and a subsequent purpose clause cast as a question (ut servires?): ‘Asking for what? So that you may be a slave?’ The loss of coherent syntax might be expressive of his indignation at the conjured scene.

tibi uni peteres, qui ita a puero vixeras ut omnia paterere, ut facile servires: peteres is in the imperfect subjunctive to express a command with reference to a past state of affairs: it refers to an action that Antony, according to Cicero, should have undertaken (but did not). So the order implied by the iussive can no longer be carried out. See Pinkster (2015: 503–04). The following relative clause, which segues into two consecutive ut-clauses, refers back to § 44, a puero…, where Cicero claimed that Antony began his public career as a common whore (primo vulgare scortum), implying a willingness to be sexually penetrated: his sexual submissiveness serves as analogue (and premonition) of his political subservience.

tibi uni: ‘for yourself alone’. uni is here in the dative singular modifying tibi as a predicative apposition (literally: ‘for yourself as the only one’), but English prefers an adverbial expression: see Gildersleeve & Lodge 206.

paterere: alternative form of the second person singular imperfect subjunctive passive of the deponent patior, pati (= patereris). The verb hints at Antony’s status as a pathicus — the passive partner in a homosexual relationship.

a nobis populoque Romano mandatum id certe non habebas: a nobis here refers to the senate, and Cicero thereby invokes the traditional formula by which the Romans of the republic self-identified as a political community: SPQR, senatus populusque Romanus: ‘You certainly did not have this ordered by…’ = ‘You certainly did not receive any such mandate from…’. By closely aligning the senate and the people, Cicero undoes the endeavour of Antony and Caesar to drive a wedge between these two constituencies, with Caesar and the people forming a united front against the old but outdated senatorial elite — a rhetorical maneuver that informed Caesar’s propaganda from the day he crossed the Rubicon (in partial defence of the tribunes of the people). Here it specifically preempts Cicero’s reference in the following paragraph to the entry of the incident in Rome’s official calendar, which recorded that Antony acted ‘at the behest of the people’ (populi iussu).

o praeclaram illam eloquentiam tuam cum es nudus contionatus!: a long, sarcastic accusative of exclamation (o… tuam), followed by a temporal cum-clause (in the indicative). The periphrastic embrace of nudus by the verb for public speaking (es… contionatus) is delicious: only magistrates had the right to address an assembly of the Roman people (contio), so Antony acts here in his role as consul, but does so with his toga down (as it were), turning the hallowed occasion into a revolting strip-show. In contrast to the Greeks with their gymnasia, Romans didn’t have much time for public nudity, and certainly not for a magistrate doing the full Monty — though Antony would presumably have worn the traditional loincloth of the Lupercus.

quid hoc turpius, quid foedius, quid suppliciis omnibus dignius?: hoc is an ablative of comparison with the ascending tricolon of comparatives turpius, foedius, dignius. The verb (est) is implied. suppliciis picks up supplex at the beginning of the paragraph — the lexical relation suggests the idea of retribution.

num exspectas dum te stimulis fodiamus?: the interrogative particle num here introduces a rhetorical question that calls for a negative answer: ‘Are you waiting till we pierce you with ox-goads [sc. to feel the requisite punishment for your misdeeds]?’ As Lacey (1986: 221) points out, the reference to ox-goads turns Antony either into a notional farm animal (picking up on § 30: sed stuporem hominis vel dicam pecudis attendite: ‘observe the thickness of the man or I should rather say brute’) or a slave (who were pierced with ox-goads as punishment, no doubt to remind them of their dehumanized status).

dum: the subjunctive fodiamus indicates an expected / possible event: see OLD s.v. dum 5b.

haec te, si ullam partem habes sensus, lacerat, haec cruentat oratio: Cicero uses a simple condition with present indicative in both protasis (habes) and apodosis (lacerat, cruentat), which implies nothing as to its fulfillment. It might just be the case that Antony has nullus sensus — and is therefore unable to appreciate the (unconventional) punishment that Cicero’s oration is inflicting on him. Unorthodox forms of punishment are a staple of Cicero’s oratory: he likes to insist that his adversaries suffer from various non-obvious modes of retribution for their misdeeds, such as divinely inspired madness (in the case of such characters as Verres, Clodius, or Piso) or, as here, oratorical torture. Cicero sets up the — long delayed — subject of the sentence with the anaphora of the demonstrative adjective haec: the oratio at the end turns the verbs lacerat and cruentat, which evoke gruesome images of (literal) carnage, into graphic metaphors designed to bring out the cutting nature of Cicero’s invective.47

ullam partem… sensus: sensus is a partitive genitive (fourth declension) dependent on partem.

vereor ne imminuam summorum virorum gloriam; dicam tamen dolore commotus: Cicero here sets up the following sentence, in which he claims that given that Caesar has justly been killed for harbouring royal ambitions (though he rejected the diadem), Antony, who tried to crown him king, should have been killed twice over. Such a claim, however, — so Cicero fears — potentially diminishes the glory that the conspirators (here referred to as summi viri: absolutely outstanding men, the best in the commonwealth) won by killing Caesar. Still, the powerful emotion of dolor, the basic meaning of which is ‘pain’ but here refers to the strong resentment he feels towards Antony, pushes him over the edge.

dicam: future indicative.

quid [est] indignius quam vivere eum, qui imposuerit diadema, cum omnes fateantur iure interfectum esse qui abiecerit?: Cicero suppresses the main verb (est): ‘what is more shameful than for the sort of person to live [literally: that the sort of person lives], who…’ The subjunctive imposuerit is generic. The following cum-clause is concessive (‘even though all admit that…’). fateantur introduces an indirect statement with an implied eum (sc. Caesarem) as subject accusative (and antecedent of the second qui) and interfectum esse as verb.

omnes: Cicero massively exaggerates: in fact, public opinion was desperately divided as to whether the killing of Caesar was a glorious act of tyrannicide or the despicable murder of a friend and benefactor. Elsewhere, Cicero deplores that the assassins only did half the job by not getting rid of Antony as well, killing the tyrant, but leaving (the prospect of future) tyranny alive insofar as the next despot was already waiting in the wings.

§ 87: Historical Precedent Demands Antony’s Instant Execution

Cicero follows up on his claim in the previous paragraph that Antony ought to have been killed a long time ago. After a reference to the official entry in Rome’s calendar (the so-called fasti) on what had happened on 15 February, Cicero adds some generic abuse about Antony’s debauchery (drinking through the day with his depraved mates) before returning to his impact on the political culture of the republic: his subversion of peace (Cicero uses both otium and pax) and his destruction of the legal order (the laws and the law courts) qualify Antony for being included among the ranks of those who were expelled or killed in the past because of their tyrannical conduct or royal ambitions. In his appeal to historical exempla that call for drastic action, Cicero reworks the shtick he already used in the opening part of his first speech against Catiline.

At etiam ascribi iussit in fastis ad Lupercalia C. Caesari dictatori perpetuo M. Antonium consulem populi iussu regnum detulisse, Caesarem uti noluisse: it is unclear who the implied subject of iussit is: Antony or Caesar? Scholars, too, are undecided. Perhaps the most likely scenario is that it was Caesar, and Cicero opts for a text that suggests Antony (without explicitly falsifying history), to keep his target under invective fire. iussit governs the impersonal passive infinitive ascribi (‘he ordered it to be inscribed…’), which in turn governs the bipartite indirect statement C. [= Gaio] Caesari… noluisse (which covers the text of the inscription), with M. Antonium and Caesarem as subject accusatives and detulisse and noluisse as infinitives.

Here we capture the ‘Caesarian’ version of the events, though it remains unclear whether it was planned as such from the start or the product of retrospective spin. In this version, the auctor of the affair was the populus Romanus as a sovereign body of citizens giving an order (populi iussu) to its highest elected magistrate M. Antonius to offer the dictator for life (dictatori perpetuo) C. Caesar the kingship — an offer which Caesar declined. The point of the episode seems to have been to draw a fine, but important distinction between the title dictator perpetuo, awarded to Caesar by the senate, which conformed at least in name to the political culture of the Roman republic (see below on C. Caesari dictatori perpetuo) and kingship, which does not. The offer and its refusal, at least in Rome, sent a double message to Caesar’s senatorial peers, who must have thought that the title dictator perpetuo was already beyond the pale: far from being a power grab, the title of dictator for life is an exercise in self-restraint — the people wouldn’t hesitate to crown him king.

in fastis: the masculine plural noun fasti is formed from the adjective fastus, -a, -um, ‘lawful for the transaction of business’ (not to be confused with the fourth-declension noun fastus, -ûs, m. = arrogance, pride), which in turn is formed from the indeclinable neuter noun fas = ‘that which is right and permissible by divine law’ (the opposite is nefas = sacrilege) + tus. It has three related but distinct meanings:

  1. days on which business may be transacted: in the field of civil law, the Romans distinguished between dies fasti, on which the praetor could preside over court proceedings, and dies nefasti, when no such proceedings could take place;
  2. the list of annually recurring festivals = the calendar;
  3. the list of consuls who gave their name to the year (i.e. a chronological sequence year by year, as opposed to the cyclical nature of the calendar).

The term was therefore absolutely central to how the Romans situated themselves in time and history and, across the range of meanings it accrued over time (the combination of the calendar with the consular list dates to the first half of the second century BCE), incorporates important religious and political elements. No one was more attuned to the politics of time than Caesar — indeed, one of his most long-lasting legacies consisted in the reform of the Roman calendar: see Feeney (2007). Caesar or Antony decided to put the diadem-incident permanently on record by adding an annotation to the calendar under 15 February (ad Lupercalia: ‘under the date of the Lupercalia’). Some fragments of inscribed Roman calendars survive, and none of them contains this particular text, which may owe itself either to an accident of transmission (our surviving calendars feature significant variation in outlook, especially in terms of historical annotations) or the fact that Caesar was killed soon thereafter and this particular entry never found proper dissemination.

C. Caesari dictatori perpetuo: the office of dictator was a recognized magistracy in republican Rome (and does not inherently carry the connotations of illegitimacy and abuse of power as our English equivalent). Dictators were appointed in times or crises and emergencies, but — until Caesar — for a strictly limited period of time. Even Sulla, who was appointed dictator legibus faciundis et reipublicae constituendae causa (‘dictator for making laws and settling the constitution’), which did not carry a specified time limit, abdicated after he felt he had completed the specified task. Sulla was the most powerful strongman before Caesar; and having himself called dictator for life, Caesar thus outdoes all of his predecessors and enters unknown territory. The dative renders it ambiguous as to whether perpetuo is the adjective or the adverb, but the latter is the case. Caesar’s official title, which he assumed in late January / early February 44, was dictator perpetuo (‘dictator in perpetuity’) rather than dictator perpetuus (‘perpetual dictator’).

populi iussu: the forth-declension noun iussus, -ûs, m. (as opposed to the second-declension noun iussum, -i, n.) only occurs in the ablative singular, usually with either a possessive adjective or (as here) a genitive; the expression has an official, formulaic feel.

iam iam minime miror te otium perturbare, non modo urbem odisse sed etiam lucem; cum perditissimis latronibus non solum de die sed etiam in diem bibere: miror introduces a tripartite indirect statement, with te as subject accusative throughout and perturbare, odisse, and bibere as infinitives.

otium: the opposite of negotium (business), otium, in its basic sense, means ‘freedom from business’, i.e. ‘leisure time’, ‘ease’, ‘relaxation’ (or, in a negative sense, ‘idleness’, ‘inactivity’). More generally, it came to signify a condition of ‘peaceful relations’, ‘tranquillity in civic life’ — an equivalent to pax, with otium primarily (but not exclusively) referring to the domestic sphere and pax primarily (but not exclusively) referring to Rome’s relation with external peoples as well as the gods on some kind of contractual basis (see further below on in pace). This is the meaning of the term here. (Cicero captures his ideal state of affairs with the expression ‘otium cum dignitate’, which might be glossed as ‘a state of peaceful relations in civic affairs with due respect accorded to the rightful rank and standing of each individual’.)

non modo urbem odisse sed etiam lucem: urbs (the city of Rome) and lux (the light of day) form a climactic pairing, as Cicero ups the ante by moving from the (cosmic) city to the cosmos itself, or from a socio-political to an existential perspective. The transition is easy, especially if the identification of the city of Rome with the entire universe (urbs = orbis; cf. the papal blessing urbi et orbi) registers. Compare Cicero, in Catilinam 4.11: haec urbs lux orbis terrarum — ‘this city is the light of the entire world’.

cum perditissimis latronibus non solum de die sed etiam in diem bibere: perditus is the past participle of perdo (‘to cause ruin or destruction’) and, in the positive and, especially, (as here) the superlative one of Cicero’s favourite words of abuse. It signifies a state of moral and financial bankruptcy in which the individual concerned has lost any kind of bearing that would enable some kind of positive contribution to society. latro (‘bandit’) too is a standard term in Cicero’s invective lexicon, which he used to inveigh against Catiline and his followers: it refers to outlaws who do not abide by the socio-political protocols that govern life in a peaceful civic community.48 bibere is a conjecture for the vivere of the manuscripts, first mooted by Badham.49 It is not entirely clear what de die and in diem mean in this context: what Cicero seems to be imagining is a scenario in which Antony and his drinking buddies booze through the night into the dawn, till sun-up (de die) and then keep going into the day (in diem).

ubi enim tu in pace consistes?: the phrasing Cicero here uses is ominous: consistes is in the future tense, which implies that at present, Rome does not have (internal) peace. He therefore applies a term designed to capture Rome’s relations with (subdued) external people to domestic politics — a development of civil war (bellum initially also referred only to Rome’s external wars until internal developments made it necessary to endow it with the attribute civile). At the same time, pax retains its wider geographical remit, implying that in a world at peace Antony has no place. Given this fluidity, it is unsurprising that what precisely pax signified — and to what state of affairs it is possible to apply the label pax — became controversial in late-republican times. See in particular Phil. 14.19–20, where Cicero, looking back, asserts that the people recall that he had, from January 43 onwards, always called Antony an enemy, always the current condition a war, had always been an adviser of genuine peace (verae pacis auctor), but hostile to the name of any ‘pestilent peace’ (nomini pestiferae pacis inimicus). See further Cornwell (2017).

qui locus tibi in legibus et in iudiciis esse potest, quae tu, quantum in te fuit, dominatu regio sustulisti?: qui is an interrogative adjective modifying locus (‘what place can there be for you…’); the relative pronoun quae (accusative neuter plural) refers back to both legibus and iudiciis but agrees in number and gender with the closer of the two nouns.

in legibus et in iudiciis: in a situation of domestic peace that includes respect for republican traditions and values, the basis of civic life is the rule of law, which Cicero captures with reference to laws (in legibus) and law courts (in iudiciis). Put differently, there is no place for someone like Antony in civic society.

quantum in te fuit: quantum introduces an adverbial clause: ‘so far as it was in your power’.

dominatu regio: the first thing to disappear under an autocratic regime is the rule of law — since the despot is above it: his whim and will become law. Cicero dwells extensively on the unpredictability of a world in which a tyrant reigns supreme. See e.g. a passage from a letter to his friend Paetus, from mid-July 46 about life under Caesar (ad Familiares 9.16.3 = 190 SB):

De illo autem quem penes est omnis potestas, nihil video quod timeam, nisi quod omnia sunt incerta cum a iure discessum est nec praestari quicquam potest quale futurum sit quod positum est in alterius voluntate, ne dicam libidine.

[As for the All-Powerful, I see no reason why I should be apprehensive, unless it be that all becomes uncertain when the path of legality has been forsaken, and that there is no guaranteeing the future of what depends on someone else’s wishes, not to say whims.]

Essentially, Cicero here reduces the world of Rome to the will of Caesar: the future depends on the voluntas (‘will’) or, indeed, libido (‘whim’) of the dictator. Caesar’s ascendancy entails chaos for those living within the remit of his reign: omnia sunt incerta. Caesar’s ability to exercise power unrestrained by institutional or normative checks results in comprehensive uncertainty for everyone else.

ideone L. Tarquinius exactus [est], Sp. Cassius, Sp. Maelius, M. Manlius necati [sunt] ut multis post saeculis a M. Antonio, quod fas non est, rex Romae constitueretur?: Cicero’s outraged rhetorical question (marked as such by the enclitic -ne attached to ideo: ‘was it for this that…?’) is an incitement to murder. Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was the last legendary king of Rome, driven out in 509 BCE for his rape of Lucretia, after which the Romans adopted a republican form of government. Spurius Cassius, who was executed in 485 BCE, Spurius Maelius, who suffered the same fate in 435 BCE, and Marcus Manlius Capitolinus, who was put to death in 385 BCE, were three early-republican powerbrokers suspected of aiming for kingship. They became exempla of how (aspiring) tyrants were dealt with in Rome.50 Cicero returns to the exempla in § 114.

multis post saeculis: an ablative of time. post is adverbial: ‘many centuries thereafter’.

a M. Antonio: an ablative of agency with constitueretur.

quod fas non est: Cicero asserts that, in Rome, kingship is a form of government that violates religious taboos (fas specifies what is — and what isn’t — permissible according to divine law).

rex Romae: Romae is in the locative. The brutal juxtaposition of the antithetical rex and Roma strikes a deliberately jarring note, underscored by the alliteration.

§ 88: Antony on the Ides of March

Cicero now returns to the issue of the (fake) auspices that Antony produced to challenge the validity of Dolabella’s election to the (suffect) consulship. Caesar planned to have the matter discussed at the senate meeting scheduled for the Ides of March, but his murder upset the agenda and Cicero follows the lead opened up by the assassination to dwell on Antony’s reaction: fear for his life and a panicky flight from the senate house. His apprehension was justified: no-one knew at the time whether Caesar was the only target of the conspirators. As it turned out, it was — and there seems to have been nothing for Antony to fear; but Cicero uses his escape as foil for reiterating, in § 89, a point he already made in § 86, namely that the liberators ought to have done away with Antony as well.

Sed ad auspicia redeamus; de quibus Idibus Martiis fuit in senatu Caesar acturus: redeamus is a present exhortative subjunctive in the first person plural: ‘but let us return…’. quibus is a connecting relative, picking up auspicia (= de eis). Apparently, Caesar had Antony’s obnuntiatio at the elections that made Dolabella a suffect consul for 44 BCE on the agenda for the senate meeting scheduled for 15 March during which he was killed.

Idibus Martiis: an ablative of time (‘during the senate meeting scheduled for the Ides of March’).

quaero: tum tu quid egisses?: the question doubles as the apodosis of an (implied) past counterfactual condition: ‘I ask you: if Caesar had had the chance to make it a matter for business, what would you have done then?’ tum and tu, nicely alliterated, are placed up front to give the personal challenge further emphasis.

audiebam equidem te paratum venisse, quod me de ementitis auspiciis, quibus tamen parere necesse erat, putares esse dicturum: the main verb audiebam (imperfect with iterative sense: ‘I was told more than once’) introduces an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and venisse as infinitive; paratum is a predicative complement to te. quod introduces a causal clause with putares as verb (in the subjunctive to underscore the fact that this is what Antony supposed, without any necessary basis in the facts), which introduces another indirect statement with me as subject accusative and esse dicturum as infinitive. So: ‘I was told more than once that you had come prepared because you believed that I intended to speak on the falsification of the auspices, which it was nevertheless (i.e. despite the fact that they had been falsified) necessary to obey’, sc. until the college of augurs had assessed the matter. Cicero interrelates himself and Antony syntactically here: in the main clause he is the subject of the main verb (audiebam) and Antony (te) the subject accusative of an indirect statement; in the quod-clause, Antony is the subject of the main verb (putares) and Cicero the subject accusative of an indirect statement (me).

equidem: with an expressed or implied first person singular, the particle equidem serves to emphasize the ego: OLD s.v. 1.

de ementitis auspiciis: ‘on the falsification of the auspices’: Latin frequently uses the perfect passive participle (and ementior is used in a passive sense here, despite being a deponent) to modify a (concrete) noun where English would traditionally use an abstract noun and the preposition ‘of’. Compare, for instance, ab urbe condita = ‘from the foundation of the city’ (or, increasingly, ‘from the city foundation’).

quibus tamen parere necesse erat: the relative pronoun quibus is in the dative governed by parere. The negative auspices remained in force until the college of augurs (or the senate) had passed a verdict, either upholding Antony’s obnuntiatio or invalidating it.

sustulit illum diem Fortuna rei publicae: some editors capitalize Fortuna, turning her into the goddess that watches over the Roman commonwealth. Otherwise, fortuna here simply means ‘good luck’. diem tollere, which literally means ‘to lift up = remove the day’ (Shackleton Bailey translates: ‘The Fortune of the Commonwealth struck that day out of time’) is standard idiom for ‘to prevent the senate from conducting business on the day’: OLD s.v. tollo 12b.

num etiam tuum de auspiciis iudicium interitus Caesaris sustulit?: the subject of the sentence is interitus. Cicero’s repetition of sustulit puns on the technical use of tollere in the previous sentence, here applied to Antony’s judgment about the auspices. As Lacey (1986: 222) notes, ‘num (expecting the answer “no”) is sarcastic, since A did abandon his objection at the meeting of the Senate on March 17’ — and the only significant event that occurred between his endorsement and subsequent dismissal of the auspices was the murder of Caesar.

sed incidi in id tempus quod eis rebus in quas ingressa erat oratio praevertendum est: the main verb is incidi (first person singular perfect indicative active; not to be confused with, but in form indistinguishable from, the present passive infinitive). The verb of the relative clause is the gerundive of obligation praevertendum est, which governs the dative eis rebus, with quod as subject: ‘I have fallen on that time period (i.e. the time after Caesar’s assassination), which (now) must be given precedence over those matters (eis rebus, i.e. Antony’s manipulation of the auspices), on which my speech (initially) embarked’. Cicero makes it out as if he cannot help but be sidetracked; in fact, he never comes back to the topic of the auspices in the remainder of Philippic 2.

quae tua fuga, quae formido praeclaro illo die, quae propter conscientiam scelerum desperatio vitae, cum ex illa fuga beneficio eorum qui te, si sanus esses, salvum esse voluerunt, clam te domum recepisti!: the main clause consists of a gleeful ascending tricolon fuga – formido – desperatio, reinforced by the triple anaphora of quae, designed to capture the actions, the emotions, and the general outlook of Antony in the moment right after the murder of Caesar: he takes flight (fuga) in panic (formido) and mortal fear for his life (desperatio vitae). The main verb (erat) is implied; tua serves as predicative complement to all three subjects. What follows is a so-called ‘inverse cum-clause’, which takes the indicative (usually in the perfect) and is used to introduce a new development that dramatically changes or ‘inverts’ the action of the main clause. We arrive at the verb of the cum-clause (te… recepisti) by way of a circuitous route: the prepositional phrase ex illa fuga picks up the beginning of the sentence; it is followed by the ablative of means beneficio eorum, which segues into a relative clause (qui… voluerunt) that comprises an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and esse as infinitive and functions as the apodosis of a conditional sequence with si sanus esses as protasis. After the bloody death of Caesar, Antony had every reason to suppose that he was next in line — there were about 60 senators in on the plot, and more than twenty lined up to share in the bloodshed: Caesar received a public ritual-sacrificial ‘send off’.51 On the day, the numbers must have sparked pandemonium, and nowhere safe to turn. But by getting rid of Caesar without wiping out his principal supporters as well, the conspirators hoped to minimize bloodshed and thereby facilitate a smooth return to a republican form of government: Antony’s life seems not to have been in danger, though he couldn’t have known it. Cicero of course started to deplore not long afterwards that the assassins stopped too soon: vivit tyrannis, tyrannus occidit! (Att. 14.9.2 = 363 SB; 17 April 44: ‘the tyranny lives on, the tyrant is dead’).

praeclaro illo die: 15 March 44 BCE — the day the dictator died and freedom was reborn! In this instance, praeclarus truly means ‘glorious’, without a shred of irony.

quae propter conscientiam scelerum desperatio vitae: conscientia is a favourite notion of Cicero’s. In the sense of ‘conscience’ it plays a key role in his conception of the human being as a creature naturally endowed with an instance that enables him to judge right from wrong. In such instances, conscientia becomes an internal court of law and agent of punishment, inflicting mental torture (pangs of conscience) on the miscreant. Here the meaning of conscientia is more akin to ‘consciousness’ (without necessarily excluding the sense of ‘conscience’): Antony was a leading figure in Caesar’s (criminal, from Cicero’s point of view) regime and now fears for his life because he is fully aware that his track record turns him into a likely target on the (in the end, non-existent) hit list of the senatorial assassins.

beneficio eorum: Cicero leaves it unclear who these people are and what they did to help Antony escape. (Some other sources spin a flimsy yarn on how Antony fled disguised as a slave.) Cicero’s reticence here suggests that these are later novelistic elaborations.

si sanus esses: a gratuitous piece of spite — Cicero intimates, without any supporting evidence, that even Antony’s friends harboured qualms about his mental health. The imperfect subjunctive implies that Antony’s sanity was part of what they wished for and considered a requisite condition for helping him escape — but that was misjudged!

domum: an accusative of direction: ‘you in secret withdrew to your house’.

§ 89: No Compromise with a Public Enemy!

Cicero here revisits the tense period right after Caesar’s assassination, 15–17 March. Here is a brief blow-by-blow account of the most important developments over these action-packed few days:52

15 March: c. 11 a.m.

murder of Caesar; Antony and other Caesarians flee from the senate house; the conspirators march to the Capitoline Hill; when they test public opinion later in the day, they are greeted with a significant level of hostility; start of negotiations with Antony (as consul) and Lepidus (Caesar’s Master of the Horse).

Night of 15/16 March

Antony, acting either on his own or together with Lepidus, summons some of Caesar’s troops into the city; Caesar’s widow Calpurnia hands over Caesar’s state papers to him, as well as funds (4000 talents according to Plutarch, Life of Antony 15). Antony also secures the war chest Caesar had deposited in the temple of Ops for his campaign against the Parthians (see also Phil. 2.35 and 93).

16 March

tense negotiations between Antony and the conspirators, who fear for their safety; as surety, Antony and Lepidus hand over their sons as hostages (see Phil. 2.90 below; also Phil. 1.31).

17 March

senate meeting in the Temple of Tellus; Caesar’s veterans surround the building; the outcome is a compromise: amnesty for the assassins (still holed up on the Capitoline Hill) on a motion by Cicero in return for the en-bloc ratification of Caesar’s already published acts and arrangements. (According to Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 82.4, the conspirators would have preferred to chuck Caesar’s corpse into the Tiber, confiscate his property, and declare all his political arrangements null and void (= acta rescindere)).

This bare-bones version of the main events does nothing to capture the striking degree of uncertainty that must have prevailed at the time. Everything was up in the air: further moves by the liberators and key Caesarians, the mood of the populace (and Caesar’s veterans), the cred of the assassins (criminal killers or heroes?), the postmortem image of Caesar (public enemy or murdered benefactor?), the status of his appointments and decrees, the future of those of his policies that were in the works but not yet finalized and officially disseminated, access to his unpublished papers. It soon transpired that the liberators wished for no further bloodshed and wanted to reach out to Antony (as consul) to negotiate some sort of compromise, which then actually came to pass during the senate meeting of 17 March.

When Cicero revisits this period here in invective mode, the uncertainty and volatility of the situation all but disappears. He reduces politics to personality. His assessment of Antony’s character — rotten — is all he needs as guide for political action. Cicero claims that already at the time he warned against any course of compromise and conciliation with someone he considered the public enemy number one — but his premonition and recommendations were left unheeded.

O mea frustra semper verissima auguria rerum futurarum!: Cicero starts the paragraph with an exclamatory sentence consisting for the main part of a noun phrase in the nominative (o mea… verissima auguria… !), a device he also elsewhere uses in contexts of desperate pathos (cf. pro Milone 94: o frustra, inquit, mei suscepti labores, o spes fallaces, o cogitationes inanes meae!, where Cicero reports Milo deploring the loss of prospects for his political career; see Pinkster (2015: 367). The adverb semper, placed deftly in-between the adverb frustra and the adjective verissima, goes with both (apo-koinou): Cicero claims that his predictions were always absolutely (note the superlative) spot-on — and always in vain. He casts himself as a Cassandra-figure, i.e. someone who has a clear sense of a dismal future, but is unable to get his voice heard so as to affect the course of events for the better. The posture of the prophet who has special insight into the future appealed to Cicero — and he adopts it in several of his speeches and letters. The first speech against Catiline for instance ends with a powerful prediction about divine action taken on behalf of the commonwealth and the fourth speech against Catiline concludes with the affirmation that his care and insight will secure the Roman people a prosperous future (providebo). Closer to home (and the passage here), in a letter to Atticus (10.8.6 = 199 SB) Cicero claims to have foreseen the full trajectory of the civil war — though his prediction in 49 BCE that Caesar’s reign would not last longer than six months, owing to the self-destructive tendencies he believed to be inherent in tyranny (following Plato), was off by several years. And in two letters to Atticus, he recalls his own take on the aftermath of the Ides of March, when the conspirators were holed up on the Capitoline Hill protected by a bodyguard of gladiators and he dispensed advice that was not followed (Att. 14.10.1 = 364 SB; 19 April 44; cf. Att. 14.14.2 = 368 SB; 28 or 29 April).

dicebam illis in Capitolio liberatoribus nostris, cum me ad te ire vellent ut ad defendendam rem publicam te adhortarer, quoad metueres, omnia te promissurum; simul ac timere desisses, similem te futurum tui: the sentence consists of two main elements, with further constructions attached:

  • a main clause (dicebam… nostris) followed by a bipartite indirect statement dependent on dicebam; each of the two parts involves a temporal subordinate clause (a) quoad metueres, omnia te promissurum (esse); (b) simul ac timere desisses, similem te futurum (esse) tui.
  • a circumstantial cum-clause with vellent as verb and the (implied) liberators as subject. vellent governs an indirect statement with me as subject accusative and ire as verb, followed by the purpose clause ut… adhortarer.

In his interactions with the liberators holed up on the Capitoline Hill, Cicero is predicting two things about Antony: that he would promise anything at all while he was afraid for his life; and that he would revert to being his old self as soon as he was no longer afraid.

dicebam: Latin can use the imperfect with verbs of saying to narrate a past action that the speaker remembers (Kühner-Stegmann 1.124, listing our passage as an example). But there may be a bit more edge to dicebam if we take it to refer to a repeated action in the past: Cicero kept reiterating his convictions, sticking to his guns (cf. in sententia mansi below), but the liberators would not listen: the tense thus picks up on the preceding exclamation.

liberatoribus nostris: as noted above, the assassination of Caesar met with a bipolar reception, which registers in the labels that the assassins attracted. As Leber (2018: 1) puts it:

The enormity of Caesar’s assassination provided an opportunity to use a plethora of terms for the conspirators, most conspicuously seen in Cicero’s treatment of Cassius and Brutus following the death of Caesar. The act itself had a polarizing effect. On one side were the invective terms for assassins, murderers and parricides (sicarii, homicidae, interfectores, parricidae). On the other side were the favourable terms, such as liberators (liberatores), heroes (heroes) and tyrannicides (tyrannoctoni). Cicero also included in his correspondence Greek words, as well as their transliterations into Latin. Each word would seem to have its own subtle characteristics, focussing on different aspects and interpretations of the conspirators and their act of tyrannicide or political murder.

The uneasy truce that emerged right after the event did little to resolve the status of the assassins: their political identity has remained a matter of controversial debate even after the battle of Philippi in 42 BCE, when the Caesarian triumvirate of Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus triumphed over the republicans Cassius and Brutus. Already by the time Cicero penned the Philippics they had been put on the defensive, forced to leave Rome since their personal safety could no longer be guaranteed, and Cicero uses the speeches as a means to assert his view of history as the right one. Early on in Philippic 1, he laments the fact that the liberators of Rome had been driven from the city they had set free (1.6: patriae liberatores urbe carebant ea, cuius a ceruicibus iugum seruile deiecerant…: ‘the liberators of their country were exiles from the city from whose neck they had struck off the yoke of slavery…’). And at Phil. 2.30–31, he exposes Antony to the dilemma that the killers of Caesar are either heroic freedom fighters to be held in the highest esteem or the lowest scum on earth, as basis for arguing that Antony’s own behaviour proves that he endorses the former position.

ad defendendam rem publicam: after the assassination of Caesar, various parties tried to claim to represent the commonwealth. The fact that Antony as consul was technically speaking the official representative of the res publica made the situation tricky for the conspirators. For the notion of res publica in the political discourse of republican Rome see further Hodgson (2017).

simul ac timere desisses: desisses is 2nd person singular pluperfect subjunctive active in indirect speech, representing a future perfect: ‘as soon as you will have ceased from fear, you will be your old self again’.

similem te futurum [esse] tui: te is subject accusative, similem the predicative complement; the genitive of the personal pronoun tui, delayed for point and punch, depends on similem: ‘you will be like yourself’. See Gildersleeve & Lodge 229: ‘similis is said to be used with the Genitive when the likeness is general and comprehensive; with the Dative when it is conditional or partial’. The absence of fear, an emotion that for some time caused uncharacteristically sound comportment on Antony’s part, entails a re-centering of his self in the old criminal mold. Antony is a coward and a criminal.

itaque cum ceteri consulares irent redirent, in sententia mansi: at this time in Roman history, not too many former consuls who could act as go-betweens were still alive: much of the traditional ruling elite had been wiped out in the civil war. And — so Cicero’s message here — only one among this illustrious group had sufficient foresight and backbone to remain unmoved by the alluring delusion of a possible compromise with Antony. ‖ ire redire means ‘to go to and fro’. As Mayor (1861: 132) notes, ‘asyndeton is very common in the case of words of opposite signification’.

neque te illo die neque postero [die] vidi neque ullam societatem optimis civibus cum importunissimo hoste foedere ullo confirmari posse credidi: two main clauses linked by the third neque (… vidi neque ullam…), with vidi and credidi as verbs. The latter introduces an indirect statement with ullam societatem as subject accusative and posse as verb: ‘I did not see you on either that day or the next nor did I believe that…’ confirmari is supplementary present passive infinitive with posse.

Cicero here digs deep into the charged lexicon of Rome’s political culture to ostracize Antony from the civic community. The phrases are extremely weighty: ullam societatem ‖ optimis civibus ‖ cum importunissimo hoste ‖  foedere ullo: the first and the last form a chiastic frame (ullam societatem :: foedere ullo), the central two constitute a powerful antithesis reinforced by the superlatives optimis and importunissimo. In what amounts to a rhetorical enactment of civil war, he strips a Roman citizen and magistrate (Antony is civis and consul) of his legal status and his (Roman) identity and transforms him into the exact opposite, an enemy (hostis) of the Roman people, with whom any association or relationship (societas), any formal bond or agreement (foedus) is impossible and the only conceivable condition of co-existence is terminal warfare.

illo die … postero [die]: 15 and 16 March on the Julian calendar instituted on 1 Jan 45…

ullam societatem: societas and related terms (socius, sociare), which refer to social relationships grounded in trust, respect for law, and mutual advantage and extending from a partnership to all of civic society, play a key role in Cicero’s political thought. See, for instance, On the Commonwealth (de Republica) 1.49:

ex utilitatis varietatibus, cum aliis aliud expediat, nasci discordias; itaque cum patres rerum potirentur, numquam constitisse civitatis statum; multo iam id in regnis minus, quorum, ut ait Ennius, ‘nulla [regni] sancta societas nec fides est’. quare cum lex sit civilis societatis vinculum, ius autem legis aequale, quo iure societas civium teneri potest, cum par non sit condicio civium?… quid est enim civitas nisi iuris societas civium?

[discord arises from conflicting interests, where different measures are advantageous to different citizens. Therefore they maintain that when aristocrats were in power, the condition of the citizenry has never been stable, and that such stability is less attainable by far in kingdoms, in which, as Ennius says, ‘No sacred partnership or honour exists’. Therefore, since law is the bond of civic association, and the justice enforced by law is the same for all, by what justice can an association of citizens be held together when there is no equality among the citizens?… For what is a citizenry if not an association of citizens committed to justice?]

Cicero penned On the Commonwealth in the late fifties. As the quoted passage shows, even before Caesar’s rise to the dictatorship he insisted on the mutual incompatibility of civil society and autocracy. In On Duties (de Officiis), written after the death of Caesar at the same time as the Philippics, he reiterates and radicalizes this principle with specific reference to recent and contemporaneous events, elevating tyrannicide into an ethical duty (3.32):

Nulla est enim societas nobis cum tyrannis et potius summa distractio est, neque est contra naturam spoliare eum, si possis, quem est honestum necare, atque hoc omne genus pestiferum atque impium ex hominum communitate exterminandum est. etenim, ut membra quaedam amputantur, si et ipsa sanguine et tamquam spiritu carere coeperunt et nocent reliquis partibus corporis, sic ista in figura hominis feritas et immanitas beluae a communi tamquam humanitatis corpore segreganda est.

[we have no ties of association with a tyrant, but rather the sharpest separation; and it is not against Nature to rob, if one can, a man whom it is morally right to kill: all that pestilent and abominable race should be exterminated from human society. As certain limbs are amputated if they show signs of being bloodless and virtually lifeless and thus jeopardize the health of the other parts of the body, so those fierce and savage monsters in human form should be cut off from what may be called the common body of humanity.]

foedere ullo: an ablative of means. Like societas, the term foedus carries weighty ideological connotations. It refers to any kind of formalized socio-political bond or alliance grounded in ritual and hence invoking a sense of cosmic order. See further Gladhill (2016).

post diem tertium veni in aedem Telluris et quidem invitus, cum omnis aditus armati obsiderent: the force of the particle (et) quidem here is adversative, expressing a partial concession ‘to confirm the preceding statement and at the same time to offer another which in part undermines the first’ (Solodow 1978: 82): ‘after the third day I did come to the temple of Tellus — and yet against my will because…’. The subject of the causal cum-clause are the armati; omnis (= omnes) aditûs is the accusative object of obsiderent. Cicero refers to the veterans of Caesar, whom Antony and/or Lepidus had summoned to the city to exert pressure on the senate and the assassins.

post diem tertium: ‘on the third day after’ (sc. the assassination of Caesar), i.e. 17 March since the Romans counted both the start-day and the end-day in a sequence. With the adverbs ante (‘before’) and post (‘after’) one might expect an ablative of measure of difference (paucis diebus post = a few days after), but the accusative can also be employed (as here): see Gildersleeve & Lodge 260. Ironically, the 17 March was the day of the Liberalia, a festival in honour of Liber Pater (literally: ‘The Free Father’), an ancient god of fertility and wine, who came to be identified with the Greek god Bacchus / Dionysus.

in aedem Telluris: the temple of Tellus (built in 268 BCE) was situated on the Esquiline Hill.

§ 90: Antony’s Finest Hour

Cicero spends most of this paragraph speculating on what might have been had Antony been willing to sustain the conciliatory outlook he adopted right after Caesar’s assassination, and especially during the senate meeting of 17 March. Cicero claims it was Antony’s finest hour — and if he had continued to act in the spirit in which negotiations were conducted, a lasting peace and much fame would have ensued. But from the point of view of Philippic 2, these musings are past counterfactuals. As Cicero had predicted (see the previous paragraph), as soon as Antony’s fear evaporated, his audacia kicked back in. It manifested itself not least in the way he conducted Caesar’s funeral, which took place a couple of days later (c. 20 March) — the subject of the following paragraph.

Qui tibi dies ille, M. Antoni, fuit!: The interrogative adjective qui, which modifies dies, here introduces an exclamation (see OLD s.v. qui 3), with ille in predicative position: ‘What a day that was for you, Marcus Antonius!’ Cicero uses the same construction in qui… vir below.

quamquam mihi inimicus subito exstitisti, tamen me tui miseret quod tibi invideris: inimicus (‘personal enemy’ as opposed to hostis, ‘external enemy’) stands in predicative position to the subject of the quamquam-clause, an implied tu, and governs the dative mihi: ‘even though you have suddenly become my personal enemy’. With subito, Cicero refers to the events that unfolded in September, more specifically the first Philippic, delivered in the senate on 2 September. The speech provoked Antony’s anger — and an official declaration of inimicitia: see Phil. 5.19: at ille homo vehemens et violentus… inimicitias mihi denuntiavit (‘then that rash and violent man declared himself my enemy’). Despite this state of enmity, Cicero professes to feel pity for Antony nevertheless (tamen me tui miseret) — because he did harm to himself (quod tibi invideris) instead of becoming a hero of the republic (elaborated on in the subsequent sentences).

me tui miseret: miseret is an impersonal present indicative active, with the person who feels the pity in the accusative (me) and the person pitied in the genitive (tui): ‘pity of you affects me’ = ‘I pity you’.

quod tibi invideris: invideris is the 2nd person singular perfect subjunctive active of invideo, which takes the dative (tibi): literally, ‘because you regarded yourself with envy’. quod here follows a verb of emotion (miseret) and is used to indicate the reason for Cicero’s pity: Gildersleeve & Lodge 341. The oblique relation to the main clause accounts for the subjunctive. The thought here is convoluted: during the senate meeting of 17 March, Antony showed himself willing to co-operate with the senate and thereby acquired goodwill and credit in senatorial circles; but by the time of Philippic 2, he had changed his political outlook. Cicero here mockingly imputes that he did so because he had become envious of the stellar reputation he had managed to gain. He thus continues to presuppose that Antony suffers from awkward personality splits.

qui tu vir, di immortales, et quantus fuisses, si illius diei mentem servare potuisses!: a past counterfactual condition with both the (up-front) apodosis (qui… fuisses) and protasis (si… potuisses) in the pluperfect subjunctive: ‘What a man and how great you would have been, if you had been able to…’

illius diei mentem servare: mens here refers to the mental disposition (anxious, hence conciliatory, and willing to cooperate with the conspirators) Antony had on 17 March.

pacem haberemus, quae erat facta per obsidem puerum nobilem, M. Bambalionis nepotem: the imperfect subjunctive haberemus can be understood as forming another apodosis to the si-clause in the previous sentence: ‘[if you had been able to retain the mental disposition you had on that day,] we would (still) have the peace (now), which was (at the time) brokered through…’ Both puerum nobilem and M. Bambalionis nepotem stand in apposition to obsidem.

M. Bambalionis nepotem: Antony’s child with Fulvia was the grandson of M. Fulvius Bambalio, Fulvia’s father. Cicero disses father and daughter at Phil. 3.16: tuae coniugis, bonae feminae, locupletis quidem certe, Bambalio quidam pater, homo nullo numero. nihil illo contemptius qui propter haesitantiam linguae stuporemque cordis cognomen ex contumelia traxerit (‘the father of your wife, the good woman — and at any rate rich —, is a certain Bambalio, a complete nobody. Nothing is more contemptible than he who got his humiliating nickname from his stammer and dimwittedness’). Bambalio comes from the Greek verb βαμβάλειν = to stammer. It is unlikely that Bambalio was a nobilis, so the phrase puerum nobilem is designed to highlight the low social rank of Fulvia’s family (as opposed to Antony’s): see Shackleton Bailey (1992: 51). And even if he was, the juxtaposition of nobilem with Bambalionis (which contains within itself, but also soundly jumbles up, nobilis) gives the impression that any claim of Antony’s offspring to nobility laughably dissolves in a preposterous stammer. Arguably, it was this piece of spiteful mischief that encouraged Cicero to use the otherwise rather cumbersome periphrasis puerum nobilem, M. Bambalionis nepotem (a phrase that in itself produces an onomatopoeic stammer: -um, -lem, Bam-, tem-) in the first place: there are many more obvious ways to refer to Antony and Fulvia’s child. See e.g. Cicero, Philippic 1.2 (in a conciliatory moment): pax denique per eum et per liberos eius cum praestantissimis civibus confirmata est (‘Finally, through him and his son [the plural liberos refers to a single child], peace with our most outstanding fellow-citizens was established’).

quamquam bonum te timor faciebat, [timor] non [est] diuturnus magister offici; [te] improbum fecit ea quae, dum timor abest, a te non discedit, audacia: Cicero here considers how the countervailing forces of (momentary) fear (timor) and natural insolence (audacia) shape Antony’s conduct. Even though fear made Antony a politically sound (bonum) person (facio here means ‘to cause to be / become’, ‘make’, ‘render’, with te as accusative object and bonum as predicate) for a little while (note the imperfect faciebat, expressing duration in the past), it is not an emotion that will ensure a permanent change in outlook — as Cicero states in the gnomic main clause, in which both the subject (timor) and the verb (est) is implied: ‘fear is not a long-term teacher of duty’. In the end, insolence, which is Antony’s default condition unless it is temporarily suspended because of fear, reasserted itself and has made Antony villainous (improbus) again. The perfect fecit refers to a moment in the past when Antony’s audacia reasserted itself, and the relative clause quae… discedit makes it apparent that this state is continuing at the time of speaking.

ea… audacia: the hyperbaton of the demonstrative adjective ea and the noun it modifies (effectively placed at the very end of the sentence) reinforces the sense that insolence is Antony’s default condition.

etsi tum, cum optimum te [esse] multi putabant me quidem dissentiente, funeri tyranni, si illud funus fuit, sceleratissime praefuisti: etsi here introduces a main clause with praefuisti as verb and an implied tu as subject: ‘and yet, at the time when (cum)…, you presided over the funeral (praesum takes the dative) of the tyrant… in the most criminal fashion’. cum introduces a temporal clause with multi as subject and putabant as verb, which governs an indirect statement with te as subject accusative, an implied esse as verb, and optimum as predicative complement. me quidem dissentiente is a (concessive) ablative absolute.

tyranni: this is the first of several instances in Philippic 2 where Cicero refers to Caesar with the Greek loanword tyrannus. See also §§ 96 and 117.

si illud funus fuit: ‘if that was a funeral’. Cicero expresses his doubts that what happened around 20 March can be classified as a (proper) funeral, underscoring his contempt with a disagreeable f-alliteration in funus fuit. (At Orator 49, he calls ‘f’ the most unpleasant of letters — insuavissima littera.)

§ 91: Antony as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

The paragraph falls into two parts: in the first, devoted to Caesar’s funeral, Antony plays Mr Hyde — a subversive monster out to destroy the city and murder its best citizens; in the second, which revisits senatorial business in late March / early April conducted in the spirit of the compromise reached between Caesarians and liberators on 17 March, Antony has a moment as Dr Jekyll — a high magistrate who conducts affairs of state with sense and sensibility. Cicero singles out for appreciation two aspects from Antony’s early collaboration with the senate: his initial restraint in the use of Caesar’s unpublished state papers; and his apparent aversion to any future form of autocracy at Rome. All three topics (Caesar’s funeral; Caesar’s unpublished state papers; anti-autocratic politics) can benefit from some context.

(i) Caesar’s Funeral (c. 20 March)

In ancient Rome, the funeral of a former magistrate was a key political occasion. Ordinarily, the family of the deceased would be in charge of the ritual. It would hire a troupe of actors who would put on the wax-masks (the so-called imagines) awarded to those members of the clan who had reached public office in the past and don the appropriate official garb and then march the corpse to the forum (= pompa funebris), where the son or another close relative would deliver a eulogy, praising in turn each of the ancestors (impersonated by the actors) who had helped shape public affairs, down to the recently deceased (= laudatio funebris). Beyond this (ephemeral) ritual, the families that made up Rome’s ruling elite would display records of former office holders in the atria of their houses, in the form of tituli (short inscriptions detailing the most significant achievements, such as offices, military victories, or triumphs) and stemmata, below little shrines containing the corresponding wax-mask (imago). This constant advertisement of past success helped to ensure that current and future generations of the same family enjoyed a significant advantage in terms of name recognition during elections. Overwhelmingly, elected officials in Rome hailed from families who had a track record of public service — so-called ‘new men’ (homines novi = men without any ancestral consular wax-mask in the family) were far and few between.

Given the central role of the aristocratic funeral in the political culture of republican Rome and the charged nature of the occasion, Caesar’s funeral was of momentous importance as it afforded an ideal opportunity to influence public opinion — not least concerning the perception of the deceased (tyrant or benefactor?) and his killers (criminals or liberators)? As Lacey (1986: 223–24) observes, ‘Atticus, one of the shrewdest political observers of the day, warned Cicero against the senate agreeing to a public funeral…, and predicted the result — which Antony probably also desired — which was to show the assassins that the people regarded their act as unforgivable’. The passage from the letter to Atticus to which Lacey refers is worth citing in full (Att. 14.10.1 = 364 SB; 19 April 44):

meministine te clamare causam perisse si funere elatus esset? at ille etiam in foro combustus laudatusque miserabiliter servique et egentes in tecta nostra cum facibus immissi.

[Do you remember how you cried out that the cause was lost if he had a public funeral? Well, he was actually cremated in the Forum with a pathetic eulogy, and slaves and beggars were sent with firebrands to attack our homes.]

What actually happened on the day is difficult to ascertain since our main sources differ in significant details, not least with respect to the role that Antony played. Here is Suetonius (Life of Julius Caesar 84):

Funere indicto rogus extructus est in Martio campo iuxta Iuliae tumulum et pro rostris aurata aedes ad simulacrum templi Veneris Genetricis collocata; intraque lectus eburneus auro ac purpura stratus et ad caput tropaeum cum veste, in qua fuerat occisus. Praeferentibus munera, quia suffecturus dies non videbatur, praeceptum, ut omisso ordine, quibus quisque vellet itineribus urbis, portaret in Campum. Inter ludos cantata sunt quaedam ad miserationem et invidiam caedis eius accommodata, ex Pacuvi Armorum iudicio: ‘men servasse, ut essent qui me perderent?’ et ex Electra Acili ad similem sententiam. Laudationis loco consul Antonius per praeconem pronuntiavit senatus consultum, quo omnia simul ei divina atque humana decreverat, item ius iurandum, quo se cuncti pro salute unius astrinxerant; quibus perpauca a se verba addidit. Lectum pro rostris in forum magistratus et honoribus functi detulerunt. Quem cum pars in Capitolini Iovis cella cremare pars in curia Pompei destinaret, repente duo quidam gladiis succincti ac bina iacula gestantes ardentibus cereis succenderunt confestimque circumstantium turba virgulta arida et cum subselliis tribunalia, quicquid praeterea ad donum aderat, congessit. Deinde tibicines et scaenici artifices vestem, quam ex triumphorum instrumento ad praesentem usum induerant, detractam sibi atque discissam iniecere flammae et veteranorum militum legionarii arma sua, quibus exculti funus celebrabant; matronae etiam pleraeque ornamenta sua, quae gerebant, et liberorum bullas atque praetextas.

[When the funeral was announced, a pyre was erected in the Campus Martius near the tomb of Julia, and on the rostra a gilded shrine was placed, made after the model of the temple of Venus Genetrix; within was a couch of ivory with coverlets of purple and gold, and at its head a pillar hung with the robe in which he was slain. Since it was clear that the day would not be long enough for those who offered gifts, they were directed to bring them to the Campus by whatever streets of the city they wished, regardless of any order of precedence. At the funeral games, to rouse pity and indignation at his death, these words from the Contest for the Arms of Pacuvius were sung: ‘Saved I these men that they might murder me?’ and words of similar purport from the Electra of Atilius. Instead of a eulogy the consul Antonius caused a herald to recite the decree of the Senate in which it had voted Caesar all divine and human honours at once, and likewise the oath with which they had all pledged themselves to watch over his personal safety; to which he added a very few words of his own. The bier on the rostra was carried down into the Forum by magistrates and ex-magistrates; and while some were urging that it be burned in the temple of Jupiter of the Capitol, and others in the Hall of Pompey, suddenly two persons with swords by their sides and brandishing a pair of darts set fire to it with blazing torches, and at once the throng of bystanders heaped upon it dry branches, the judgment seats with the benches, and whatever else could serve as an offering. Then the musicians and actors tore off their robes, which they had taken from the equipment of his triumphs and put on for the occasion, rent them to bits and threw them into the flames, and the veterans of the legions the arms with which they had adorned themselves for the funeral; many of the women too, offered up the jewels which they wore and the amulets and robes of their children.]

In Suetonius, then, Antony’s role is minimal: as consul he presides over the event and adds a very few words (perpauca verba) himself, but the major part of the eulogy for Caesar is delivered by a herald. By contrast, Plutarch’s account in his Life of Antony grants Antony a much larger part in the proceedings (14.3–4):

Now, it happened that when Caesar’s body was carried forth for burial, Antony pronounced the customary eulogy over it in the forum. And when he saw that the people were mightily swayed and charmed by his words, he mingled with his praises sorrow and indignation over the dreadful deed, and at the close of his speech shook on high the garments of the dead, all bloody and tattered by the swords as they were, called those who had wrought such work villains and murderers, and inspired his hearers with such rage that they heaped together benches and tables and burned Caesar’s body in the forum, and then, snatching the blazing faggots from the pyre, ran to the houses of the assassins and assaulted them.

Thirdly, there is the elaborate account of Appian, The Civil Wars 2.143–47, which perhaps derives from the historical narrative of Asinius Pollio (a contemporary and supporter of Caesar), though no doubt interspersing facts with fiction. It is worth citing in full, despite its length since it contains a suggestive re-imagining of Antony’s incendiary rhetoric:

When Piso brought Caesar’s body into the forum a countless multitude ran together with arms to guard it, and with acclamations and magnificent pageantry placed it on the rostra. Wailing and lamentation were renewed for a long time, the armed men clashed their shields, and gradually they began to repent themselves of the amnesty [granted to the assassins]. Antony, seeing how things were going, did not abandon his purpose, but, having been chosen to deliver the funeral oration, as a consul for a consul, a friend for a friend, a relative for a relative (for he was related to Caesar on his mother’s side), resumed his artful design, and spoke as follows:

‘It is not fitting, citizens, that the funeral oration of so great a man should be pronounced by me alone, but rather by his whole country. The decrees which all of us, in equal admiration of his merit, voted to him while he was alive — the Senate and the people acting together — I will read, so that I may voice your sentiments rather than my own.’ Then he began to read with a severe and gloomy countenance, pronouncing each sentence distinctly and dwelling especially on those decrees which declared Caesar to be superhuman, sacred, and inviolable, and which named him the father, or the benefactor, or the peerless protector of his country. With each decree Antony turned his face and his hand toward Caesar’s corpse, illustrating his discourse by his action, and at each appellation he added some brief remark full of grief and indignation; as, for example, where the decree spoke of Caesar as ‘the father of his country’ he added ‘this was a testimonial of his clemency’; and again, where he was made ‘sacred and inviolable’ and ‘everybody else was to be held unharmed who should find refuge with him’ — ‘Nobody,’ said Antony, ‘who found refuge with him was harmed, but he, whom you declared sacred and inviolable, was killed, although he did not extort these honours from you as a tyrant, and did not even ask for them. Most lacking the spirit of free men are we if we give such honours to the unworthy who do not ask for them. But you, faithful citizens, vindicate us from this charge of lacking the spirit of free men by paying such honours as you now pay to the dead.’

Antony resumed his reading and recited the oaths by which all were pledged to guard Caesar and Caesar’s body with all their strength, and all were devoted to perdition who should not avenge him against any conspiracy. Here, lifting up his voice and extending his hand toward the Capitol, he exclaimed, ‘Jupiter, guardian of this city, and you other gods, I stand ready to avenge him as I have sworn and vowed, but since those who are of equal rank with me have considered the decree of amnesty beneficial, I pray that it may prove so.’ A commotion arose among the senators in consequence of this exclamation, which seemed to have special reference to them. So Antony soothed them again and recanted, saying, ‘It seems to me, fellow-citizens, that this deed is not the work of human beings, but of some evil spirit. It becomes us to consider the present rather than the past, since the greatest danger approaches, if it is not already here, lest we be drawn into our former civil commotions and lose whatever remains of noble birth in the city. Let us then conduct this sacred one to the abode of the blest, chanting over him our accustomed hymn and lamentation.’

Having spoken thus, he gathered up his garments like one inspired, girded himself so that he might have the free use of his hands, took his position in front of the bier as in a play, bending down to it and rising again, and first hymned him as a celestial deity, raising his hands to heaven in order to testify to Caesar’s divine birth. At the same time with rapid speech he recited his wars, his battles, his victories, the nations he had brought under his country’s sway, and the spoils he had sent home, extolling each exploit as miraculous, and all the time exclaiming, ‘You alone have come forth unvanquished from all the battles you have fought. You alone have avenged your country of the outrage put upon it 300 years ago, bringing to their knees those savage tribes, the only ones that ever broke into and burned the city of Rome.’ Many other things Antony said in a kind of divine frenzy, and then lowered his voice from its high pitch to a sorrowful tone, and mourned and wept as for a friend who had suffered unjustly, and solemnly vowed that he was willing to give his own life in exchange for Caesar’s.

Carried away by an easy transition to extreme passion he uncovered the body of Caesar, lifted his robe on the point of a spear and shook it aloft, pierced with dagger-thrusts and red with the dictator’s blood. Whereupon the people, like a chorus in a play, mourned with him in the most sorrowful manner, and from sorrow became filled again with anger. After the discourse other lamentations were chanted with funeral music according to the national custom, by the people in chorus, to the dead; and his deeds and his sad fate were again recited. Somewhere from the midst of these lamentations Caesar himself was supposed to speak, recounting by name his enemies on whom he had conferred benefits, and of the murderers themselves exclaiming, as it were in amazement, ‘Oh that I should have spared these men to slay me!’ The people could endure it no longer. It seemed to them monstrous that all the murderers who, with the single exception of Decimus Brutus, had been made prisoners while belonging to the faction of Pompey, and who, instead of being punished, had been advanced by Caesar to the magistracies of Rome and to the command of provinces and armies, should have conspired against him; and that Decimus should have been deemed by him worthy of adoption as his son.

While they were in this temper and were already near to violence, somebody raised above the bier an image of Caesar himself made of wax. The body itself, as it lay on its back on the couch, could not be seen. The image was turned round and round by a mechanical device, showing the twenty-three wounds in all parts of the body and on the face, that had been dealt to him so brutally. The people could no longer bear the pitiful sight presented to them. They groaned, and, girding up their loins, they burned the senate-chamber where Caesar was slain, and ran hither and thither searching for the murderers, who had fled some time previously.

It is impossible to reconstruct which version captures what happened most faithfully.53 Pelling (1988: 153–54) argues that ‘perceptive scholars follow Suetonius and believe that Antony’s speech was restrained’ — though makes allowance for the possibility that Plutarch and Appian may have based their accounts on a very good source (Pollio). In addition, we ought to consider that Antony’s disappearance act in Suetonius is part of a conspiracy of silence in Augustan and imperial literature that systematically diminishes Antony’s status and significance in the historical events after the death of Caesar: see Gotter (1996: 267). And it was indeed an easy task to rile up popular outrage against the conspirators. As Koortbojian (2013: 26) notes: ‘Caesar, like Clodius, had received the tribunicia sacrosanctitas, and so the assault on each of them was not only a violation of religious law, but one that called for the perpetrators to suffer the penalty of death. Thus, Antony’s calculated display of Caesar’s wounds (or merely of his bloody toga) was meant to rouse the people against the conspirators despite the amnesty voted by the Senate, in a time-honored call for vengeance’.

(ii) Dealing with Caesar’s Unpublished State Papers

Soon after this emotional occasion, the senatorial elite and the presiding magistrates, republicans and Caesarians alike, returned to the tricky business of governance on the basis of the compromise reached on 17 March (amnesty for the assassins; validation of Caesar’s already established arrangements, appointments, and policies). One of the most urgent and potentially explosive issues concerned the question of what to do with Caesar’s unpublished state papers and policies that were still work in progress. Caesar’s sudden demise had resulted in a messy situation: as the person who ultimately had pulled all the strings in Roman politics, he left behind a full slate of unfinished business, including oral promises and guarantees, draft papers, incomplete negotiations etc., which had all orbited around him as the reigning dictator and depended on his whim and will. Antony had managed to get hold of Caesar’s unpublished state papers (see above 279), which put him in the driver’s seat, but in the spirit of collaboration he agreed to subject them to an orderly review. Soon after 20 March and before 7 April (Ramsey 1994: 133, n. 12), Servius Sulpicius was tasked to draft a senatorial decree ‘to arrange for the orderly review and selective publication of Caesar’s commentarii’ (Ramsay 1994: 144). Ramsey’s reconstruction, based not least on the two references to this decree in the Philippics (1.3 and 2.91), is as follows (1994: 138):

(senatus decreuit) ne qua tabula post Idus Martias ullius decreti Caesaris aut benefici figeretur <prius quam consules> de Caesaris actis <cum consilio> cognossent, statuissent, iudicassent.

[The Senate decreed that no tablet containing any decree of Caesar after the Ides of March, or any grant, was to be posted before the consuls, with their consilium, had reviewed, decided and passed judgment on Caesar’s acta.]

It seems that all parties involved supported this motion — including Antony and Cicero. As Ramsey (1994: 139–40) explains: ‘Antony had in his possession the archives in which many genuine, unpublished decreta Caesaris were to be found; Atticus and other important Romans will have desired some of these documents to be registered. On the other hand, the Senate could take comfort in the expectation that Antony’s colleague Dolabella and the consilium would serve as a watchdog on Antony’s activities’. In the event, the constitution of such a consilium and the formal and systematic vetting of Caesar’s state papers, however, were delayed until June — though the consuls submitted select documents to the senate for ratification in the meantime. This arrangement left plenty of room for manipulation and forgery. And Cicero soon grew deeply suspicious of Antony. In a letter to Cassius, written on 3 May 44, he complained specifically of the fast and loose way in which Antony had started to handle state documents (ad Familiares 12.1.1 = 327 SB):

nam ut adhuc quidem actum est, non regno sed rege liberati videmur. interfecto enim rege regios omnis nutus tuemur, neque vero id solum, sed etiam quae ipse ille, si viveret, non faceret, ea nos quasi cogitata ab illo probamus. nec eius quidem rei finem video. tabulae figuntur, immunitates dantur, pecuniae maximae discribuntur, exsules reducuntur, senatus consulta falsa referuntur, ut tantum modo odium illud hominis impuri et servitutis dolor depulsus esse videatur, res publica iaceat in iis perturbationibus in quas eam ille coniecit.

[As things have gone so far, it appears that we are free of the despot, but not of the despotism. Our king has been killed, but we are upholding the validity of his every regal nod. And not only that, but we sanction measures which he himself would not be taking if he were alive on the pretext that he had them in mind. I see no end to the business. Laws are posted up, exemptions granted, large sums of money assigned, exiles brought home, decrees of the Senate forged — it seems we are merely rid of the disgust we felt for an abominable individual and of the mortification of slavery, while the state still lies in the chaotic condition into which he flung it.]

In Philippic 2.92–100 Cicero also makes a big deal of Antony’s forgeries. But in § 91, which is designed to set up this prolonged treatment, he recalls the moment of conciliatory honesty he already lauded at the opening of Philippic 1 (§ 2–3):

Praeclara tum oratio M. Antoni, egregia etiam voluntas; pax denique per eum et per liberos eius cum praestantissimis civibus confirmata est. atque his principiis reliqua consentiebant. ad deliberationes eas quas habebat domi de re publica principes civitatis adhibebat; ad hunc ordinem res optimas deferebat; nihil tum nisi quod erat notum omnibus in C. Caesaris commentariis reperiebatur; summa constantia ad ea quae quaesita erant respondebat. num qui exsules restituti? unum aiebat, praeterea neminem. num immunitates datae? ‘Nullae,’ respondebat. Adsentiri etiam nos Ser. Sulpicio, clarissimo viro, voluit, ne qua tabula post Idus Martias ullius decreti Caesaris aut benefici figeretur.

[Marcus Antonius made a fine speech on that occasion and also showed outstanding goodwill. Finally, through him and his son, peace with our most distinguished fellow citizens was established. And the rest tallied with these beginnings. Antonius regularly brought the leaders of our community into the deliberations on the commonwealth that he was in the habit of holding at his home. He laid admirable proposals before this body. Nothing at that time was discovered in Gaius Caesar’s memoranda except what was common knowledge. He replied to questions with perfect consistency. Had any exiles been restored? He mentioned just one, nobody else. Had any exemptions from taxes been granted? ‘None,’ he replied. He even wanted us to vote for a motion by Servius Sulpicius, a most distinguished man, the terms of which were that no tablet inscribed with any order or grant of Caesar’s should be posted after the fifteenth of March.]

(iii) Anti-Autocratic Politics

In the immediate aftermath of the initial compromise between Caesarians and conspirators, Antony proposed a law that eliminated the dictatorship from Roman politics.54 It was an act of symbolic politics, no doubt designed to underscore his republican credentials and commitment to collaboration with the senate. Cicero acclaims the act at the beginning of the first Philippic right after praising Antony for his sensible handling of Caesar’s papers (Phil. 1.3–4):

dictaturam, quae iam vim regiae potestatis obsederat, funditus ex re publica sustulit; de qua ne sententias quidem diximus. scriptum senatus consultum quod fieri vellet attulit, quo recitato auctoritatem eius summo studio secuti sumus eique amplissimis verbis per senatus consultum gratias egimus. lux quaedam videbatur oblata non modo regno, quod pertuleramus, sed etiam regni timore sublato, magnumque pignus ab eo rei publicae datum, se liberam civitatem esse velle, cum dictatoris nomen, quod saepe iustum fuisset, propter perpetuae dictaturae recentem memoriam funditus ex re publica sustulisset.

[The dictatorship, which had already usurped the might of royal power, he removed completely from the commonwealth. We did not even debate the subject. Antonius brought the draft of a decree that he said he wished the senate to pass. As soon as it had been read aloud, we followed his authority with the utmost enthusiasm and by a decree voted him our utmost thanks. It seemed as though a light of sorts had dawned, with the removal not only of the monarchy which we had endured, but even of the fear of its recurrence; it seemed as though Antonius had given the commonwealth a mighty pledge of his desire for a free community when, because of the memory of the recent ‘Dictatorship for Life’, he completely removed from our commonwealth the office of dictator, even thought it had often been legitimate.]

And he returns to it towards the end (Phil. 1.32):

Proximo, altero, tertio, denique reliquis consecutis diebus, non intermittebas quasi donum aliquod cotidie afferre rei publicae, maximum autem illud, quod dictaturae nomen sustulisti. haec inusta est a te, a te, inquam, mortuo Caesari nota ad ignominiam sempiternam. ut enim propter unius M. Manli scelus decreto gentis Manliae neminem patricium Manlium Marcum vocari licet, sic tu propter unius dictatoris odium nomen dictatoris funditus sustulisti.

[The next day and the next and the following and onwards, one day after another you brought the commonwealth a daily gift, so to speak; the greatest of all, when you abolished the name of dictatorship. Thereby you — yes, you — branded Caesar in his grave with everlasting infamy. Because of a crime committed by one of its members, Marcus Manlius, no patrician belonging to the Manlian clan may be called Marcus; so the clan decreed. Just so you totally abolished the name of dictator because of the hatred felt for one particular dictator.]

The dictatorship was a traditional magistracy that the Romans resorted to in moments of crisis that called for extraordinary measures. The imperium of the dictator, who was always appointed for a strictly limited period of time only, outranked even that of a consul. But in the wake of Sulla (who had himself appointed dictator to restore the commonwealth) and Caesar (who was killed shortly after assuming the dictatorship for life), the office had become tainted with autocratic associations. Cicero’s appreciation of the move, both in Philippics 1, 2.91, and elsewhere (see 2.115 below), suggests the shrewdness of Antony’s symbolic politics: the motion gained him credit with the republican contingent in the senate, while it also managed to imply that those senators who voted in favour of Caesar’s perpetual dictatorship were accountable for his murder and the subsequent malaise.55

* * *

Tua illa pulchra laudatio [Caesaris], tua miseratio, tua cohortatio [erat]: an asyndetic tricolon, reinforced by the triple anaphora of tua, rendered even punchier by the suppression of the verb (erat): ‘That “beautiful” funeral oration, the pathos, the exhortations — they were yours’ (alternatively, one could take laudatio, miseratio, and cohortatio, together with tu, tu, as subjects of incendisti). The first colon gives the generic reference to the type of speech (a funeral oration, laudatio funebris, consisting in a eulogy of the deceased); the second (miseratio) specifies the emotional register of Antony’s speech (it was fraught with pathos designed to generate sympathy for the deceased), the third (cohortatio) pinpoints its intended impact on the audience, i.e. incitement of anger to be unleashed in violent action against the killers.

Caesar’s funeral is an awkward moment for Cicero not least since Antony here truly proved his worth as orator. As consul, he was in charge of delivering the funeral oration in praise of the deceased, and he managed to use this opportunity to sway public opinion in favour of Caesar and the Caesarians, including himself, while stirring up ill-will towards the conspirators. Cicero was present at the occasion and also acquired a written version of it afterwards (Att. 15.20.2 = 397 SB).

tu, tu, inquam, illas faces incendisti, et eas quibus semustilatus ille est et eas quibus incensa L. Bellieni domus deflagravit: Cicero continues in anaphoric mode as he pivots from Antony’s inflammatory rhetoric to real flames. et eas… et eas… stands in apposition to illas faces: ‘both those… and those…’. incensa is perfect passive participle in the nominative feminine singular, modifying domus. Lucius Bellienus is not otherwise known, but presumably supported the conspirators.

semustilatus ille est: the reference is to Caesar (ille), or rather his corpse. semi-ustilo means ‘to half-burn’ and suggests the undignified nature of the proceedings: whipped into a frenzy by Antony’s speech, the crowd lost any sense of ritual decorum and turned the funeral into a riot. One of the victims was Caesar’s corpse: instead of receiving a proper cremation, Cicero suggests, it only got scorched in the context of a city-wide conflagration. The — decidedly rare — verb is not coincidentally the same that Cicero used at pro Milone 33 to refer to the half-burnt corpse of Clodius, whose death caused a similarly violent aftermath.

tu illos impetus perditorum et ex maxima parte servorum quos nos vi manuque reppulimus in nostras domos immisisti: the third sentence in a row that begins with a second person pronoun or pronominal adjective. Here Cicero casts Antony as a general who directs the attacks of villains and slaves against the houses of senators with republican convictions. If Suetonius (Life of Julius Caesar 85) is right that the houses which suffered a mob attack were those of the two leading conspirators Cassius and Brutus, Cicero — by using the first person plural nos… reppulimus — generates the hyperbolic impression of a much more widespread attack, while also declaring his solidarity with the republican ringleaders.

idem tamen quasi fuligine abstersa reliquis diebus in Capitolio praeclara senatus consulta fecisti, ne qua post Idus Martias immunitatis tabula [figeretur] neve [tabula] cuius benefici figeretur: the ne introduces a (bipartite) noun-clause. The two parts are linked by the -ve attached to the second ne that specifies the contents of two decrees that Cicero endorsed. qua is in the nominative feminine singular (= aliqua; after si, nisi, ne and num, ali- goes ‘bum!’) modifying tabula, the subject of the clause, which also has to be supplied in the second part as the noun on which the genitive cuius [= alicuius] benefici depends. Public regulations, such as laws and decrees, were inscribed on bronze tablets (tabulae) and put on display on the Capitoline Hill:56 ‘… you saw to the passing of outstanding decrees of the Senate, providing that after the Ides of March no record of exemption or of any special favour be posted’. Cf. Phil. 1.3: assentiri etiam nos Ser. Sulpicio, clarissimo viro, voluit, ne qua tabula post Idus Martias ullius decreti Caesaris aut benefici figeretur (‘He even wished us to assent to the motion of Servius Sulpicius, a man of great distinction, that from the Ides of March no notice of any decree or grant of Caesar’s should be posted’). As Ramsey (1994: 131–32) shows, Cicero here tries ‘to convey the false impression that there was such a ban because Cicero deliberately chose to quote a single clause from this decree in order to suggest that Antony agreed to surrender more power than he in fact did under the terms of the decree’. (For a reconstruction of the decree, see above 297–98: there was most likely never a complete ban — the decree rather called for a systematic review of the archive by the consuls, under the general supervision of an advisory board (consilium).)

quasi fuligine abstersa: an ablative absolute. The quasi indicates that Cicero is speaking figuratively.

meministi ipse de exsulibus [quid dixeris], scis de immunitate quid dixeris: the two ablative phrases de exsulibus and de immunitate belong into the indirect questions (the first very elliptical). At Philippic 1.2–3 (cited above), Cicero reproduces the cross-examination of Antony in the senate before the passing of Sulpicius’ motion, giving reassurances that Caesar’s state papers did not contain unwelcome surprises.

de immunitate: munus, -eris, n. denotes a ‘task’, ‘duty’ or ‘obligation’, and im-muni-tas ‘was the exemption of a community or an individual from obligations [munera, such as the payment of taxes] to the Roman state or of an individual from obligations to a local community’ (Burton 2012).

optimum vero [erat] quod dictaturae nomen in perpetuum de re publica sustulisti: the main verb (erat) needs to be supplied. quod (+ indicative) introduces a substantive clause, i.e. a clause that functions like a noun. Here it is the predicative complement to optimum: ‘But the best thing was that…’. The subject of the quod-clause is an implied tu, the verb is sustulisti.

dictaturae nomen in perpetuum … sustulisti: dictaturae is an appositional genitive dependent on nomen: ‘the term dictatorship’. in perpetuum is an adverbial phrase with sustulisti. Cicero could have used other words to express the idea of ‘forever’ (sempiterno, aeterno; at Phil. 1.4 (cited above) he used funditus ‘entirely’ in this context), but in perpetuum generates a nice antithesis with — and ironically recalls — Caesar’s last title dictator perpetuo (‘dictator in perpetuity’).

quo quidem facto tantum te cepisse odium regni videbatur ut eius omnem propter proximum dictatorem metum tolleres: quo is a connecting relative (= et eo) and part of the ablative of cause quo quidem facto: ‘because of this deed at least’. The subject is tantum … odium (the degree of hatred is underscored by the hyperbaton), which sets up the consecutive ut-clause. The objective genitive regni depends on odium: ‘… such hatred of kingship seemed to have taken hold of you that…’

eius omnem … metum: eius, which refers back to regni, is an objective genitive dependent on metum. omnem … metum (note the hyperbaton) correlates thematically and stylistically with tantum … odium in the main clause: hatred and fear are two powerful and complementary emotions.

propter proximum dictatorem: a reference to Caesar’s recent dictatorship and a condensed rephrasing of propter perpetuae dictaturae recentem memoriam at Phil. 1.4 (cited above).

§ 92: Selling the Empire

Cicero continues to insist on his clairvoyant pessimism, by which he sets himself apart from peers more susceptible to the allure of a short-term reconciliation. While others at the time hailed the compromise reached between Caesarians and conspirators back in March as a re-establishment of the res publica, he remained highly skeptical of the prospects for a lasting settlement while Antony remained at the helm. Subsequent events, he argues, proved him right. It did not take Antony long to abuse his privileged access to the state papers of Caesar, which afforded him the opportunity to ‘discover’ (a.k.a. invent) new edicts as it suited him. In this paragraph, Cicero lambasts Antony for selling off rights and privileges (such as grants of citizenship and immunity from taxation) to non-Romans for personal gain, under the cover of executing Caesar’s will but using forged documents for the purpose.

Constituta res publica videbatur aliis, mihi vero nullo modo, qui omnia te gubernante naufragia metuebam: constituta stands in predicative position to res publica (‘to some the commonwealth seemed established…’). Its placement up front conveys a sense of finality and relief — an upbeat, optimistic start to a sentence that then progressively loses its lustre: videbatur moves us from the realm of facts to that of appearance, aliis introduces a further qualification (the commonwealth did not seem safe and sound to everyone), further reinforced by mihi, which clashes in antithesis with aliis and receives instant backup from the discourse particle vero, which has its origins in a case form of verus = ‘true’, ‘real’ (Kroon 1995: 285), thereby helping to suggest that Cicero’s understanding of constitutional realities, profoundly bleak as it may be (cf. nullo modo) is unfortunately also much more realistic. With Antony in charge, any catastrophe may happen.

omnia te gubernante naufragia: the ablative absolute te gubernante breaks up the accusative object omnia naufragia. Both phrases comprise the common metaphor of the ‘ship of state’, with the consul or other leading politician as helmsman (gubernator) steering the commonwealth safely through troubled waters — or, alternatively, causing wreckage. (The adjective omnia lessens the metaphorical force since it goes better with a generalized meaning of naufragia in the sense of calamitas: ‘every kind of disaster’; the implication may be that Antony is not a true gubernator anyway.)

The ‘ship-of-state’ metaphor has a long pedigree in Greek and Roman thought (going back to the lyric poet Alcaeus, it was also used by Theognis, Solon, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Plato, Republic 6.488a–489d, among others). It was a favourite of Cicero’s.57 Related ideas are the figure of the gubernator rei publicae and (when things go wrong) the notion of political shipwreck (naufragium). The metaphor is still alive today: during World War II, for instance, Franklin Roosevelt is said to have quoted the following bit from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem ‘The Ship’ in a letter to Winston Churchill: ‘… Sail on, O Ship of State! | Sail on, O Union, strong and great! | Humanity with all its fears, | With all the hopes of future years, | Is hanging breathless on thy fate!’. As a ‘dead metaphor’, the group of words around gubernare (‘to steer’) inform contemporary political discourse in English, on the back of the following linguistic evolution: Greek kubernan > Latin gubernare > Middle English (from Old French) governer > Modern English to govern (hence government etc.).

num igitur me fefellit, aut num diutius sui potuit esse dissimilis?: Cicero changes focus, shifting from a direct address to Antony to talking about him in the third person to the rest of the audience. The anaphoric num  num introduces two rhetorical questions that both demand a negative answer.

diutius: the comparative form of the adverb diu.

sui … dissimilis: cf. above § 89: dicebam… similem te futurum tui, with a note on the grammar of the genitive of the personal pronoun (tui / sui) dependent on similem / dissimilis. Cicero bases his expectations on the principle that the leopard does not change his spots.

inspectantibus vobis toto Capitolio tabulae figebantur, neque solum singulis venibant immunitates sed etiam populis universis: civitas non iam singillatim, sed provinciis totis dabatur: Cicero follows up the ablative absolute inspectantibus vobis (‘under your very eyes’, ‘with you looking on’) with three main clauses (tabulae figebantur  venibant immunitates  civitas … dabatur) that capture Antony’s illegal activity to enrich himself at the expense of the Roman people: tabulae are notices that publicize (forged) decrees supposedly found in Caesar’s papers; they were put up (figebantur) ‘all over the Capitol’. Cicero proceeds to specify two kinds of transactions: the selling of exemption from taxation (immunitates); and the granting of citizenship (civitas), in return for a handsome bribe. In each case, he is keen to stress the utterly unrestrained way Antony went about his business. In line with the hyperbole that the entire Capitol Hill was plastered in announcements (toto Capitolio), the following two clauses operate with universalizing attributes (populis universis, provinciis totis) that stand in antithesis to individual instances (singulis; singillatim).

venibant: the third person plural imperfect of veneo, which is active in form, but passive in meaning: ‘exemptions were sold…’

provinciis totis: a hyperbole; only one province (Sicily) acquired citizenship-status at the time. Cicero complains about this grant in a letter to Atticus (Att. 14.12.1 = 366 SB; 22 April 44):

scis quam diligam Siculos et quam illam clientelam honestam iudicem. multa illis Caesar, neque me invito (etsi Latinitas erat non ferenda. verum tamen). ecce autem Antonius accepta grandi pecunia fixit legem ‘a dictatore comitiis latam’ qua Siculi cives Romani; cuius rei vivo illo mentio nulla.

[You know how warm a feeling I have for the Sicilians and what an honour I consider it to have them as my clients. Caesar was generous to them and I was not sorry that he should be — though the Latin franchise was intolerable, but let that pass. Well, here is Antony posting up (in return for a massive bribe) a law allegedly ‘carried by the Dictator in the Assembly’ under which the Sicilians become Roman citizens, a thing never mentioned in his lifetime!]

Caesar seems to have granted a lower form of citizenship called Latinitas (‘Latin franchise’) to (some part of) Sicily, which Antony upgraded to full citizenship status in return for a hefty bribe, while claiming that Caesar himself had wanted to pass a law to this effect. The difference between the letter and the speech is telling: invective hyperbole transforms one instance of forgery and corruption into a wholesale crisis of empire.

itaque si haec manent, quae stante re publica manere non possunt, provincias universas, patres conscripti, perdidistis, neque vectigalia solum sed etiam imperium populi Romani huius domesticis nundinis deminutum est: the two main clauses — (a) provincias universas … perdidistis; (b) vectigalia… + imperium … deminutum est — linked by neque constitute the apodosis of a conditional sequence. The protasis is si haec manent, with haec referring back to the decrees of Caesar that Antony forged.

stante re publica: an ablative absolute, which functions as the protasis of a conditional sequence: ‘… which, if the republic is to survive, cannot remain in place…’ Cicero insists on the incompatibility of Antony’s approach to imperial riches (turning them into a private source of income) and the survival of the commonwealth.

vectigalia … imperium: the two subjects of deminutum est (which agrees with the nearest one). vectigalia here denotes sources of revenue accruing to the Roman commonwealth from the non-citizen territories (provinciae) over which the Romans exercised control. The transformation of the populace of these regions into Roman citizens drastically reduced the ability of Rome to extract wealth and resources from the imperial periphery. Cicero here clearly wears a different hat from the one he wore in his prosecution of Verres, where he struck a blow against provincial exploitation. (Tacitus, at Annals 1.2, grudgingly concedes that the provinces welcomed the principate since it put a limit on the abusive practices widespread in republican times.) imperium, which originally meant ‘the right to issue commands’, in time acquired the secondary meaning ‘the territory over which one has the right to issue commands’, i.e. empire. This is the meaning here: Cicero argues that Antony’s unlawful activities diminish not only Rome’s income, but its very empire.

huius domesticis nundinis: huius refers to Antony. The nundinae were the market-days in the Roman calendar, which recurred at regular intervals of eight days. The use of this civic term here with the ill-fitting attribute domesticis (‘Antony’s private market-days’) is perversely appropriate: Antony is selling off public resources for personal enrichment. The right to hold a market was an important asset for local economies and, as Ker (2010: 377) points out, ‘Cicero was able to exploit anxieties about the privatization of nundinae in his orations: in the Philippics he portrays Antony as having squandered whole Roman provinces through his own “domestic markets” (domesticis nundinis), thereby diminishing Rome’s tax-base and territory (Phil. 2.92)’. See already 2.35; Cicero returns to the topic in 2.115, 3.10 and 5.11: calebant in interiore aedium parte totius rei publicae nundinae (‘there was a lively traffic in every interest of the commonwealth in the inner part of the house’). The appropriation of public resources and institutions for personal gain and the relocation of civic events in private spaces are hallmarks of tyrannical conduct.

§ 100: Further Forgeries and a Veteran Foundation

In §§ 92–97, Cicero blasts Antony for the forged decrees of Caesar that he used to enrich himself or to recall exiles, following up with two paragraphs (§§ 98–99) devoted to Antony’s alleged mistreatment of his uncle C. Antonius Hybrida (Cicero’s colleague as consul in 63), who had otherwise a rather checkered record: in 70, he was temporarily expelled from the senate because of bankruptcy and in 59 he was exiled because of provincial mismanagement. At the beginning of § 100, Cicero returns to Antony’s mishandling of Caesar’s state papers (ad chirographa redeamus), a topic which he here brings to a close with reference to the timeframe initially established for a review of Caesar’s archive. The relevant senatorial decree was passed at the end of March / beginning of April. The official review was supposed to begin in June. In the intervening period, Antony was largely absent from Rome on a trip to Southern Italy: he tried to shore up personal support among Caesar’s veterans, who were also being wooed by Caesar’s heir Caesar Octavianus (the future Augustus), by securing land for their settlement. This trip and Antony’s return to Rome is Cicero’s main focus in §§ 100b–108.

In the course of imperial expansion, the Romans evolved a set of procedures involving politics, law and religion which regulated the use of public lands acquired through conquest, including the establishment of colonies, which was one way of helping former soldiers and needy citizens.58 At the same time, land distribution to veterans was a highly controversial issue in late-republican Rome and helped to precipitate the civil war. When generals returned from campaigns abroad, they wanted to settle their long-serving soldiers, to reward them for their services and to establish a powerful base of clients. This transformation of ephemeral military glory into a long-standing source of social capital grated with the senatorial elite, especially when the settlements were large-scale — as when Pompey returned after his defeat of Mithridates. At every turn, the senate blocked his attempts to have his arrangements in the East ratified and his soldiers settled — and thus drove Pompey into the arms of Caesar, who, as consul of 59 BCE, pushed through the necessary legislation even against massive senatorial resistance. Caesar himself arranged for the settlement of his soldiers in 45 BCE; and in June 44 BCE, Antony and Dolabella passed a law that set up a commission of seven charged with dividing up land among veterans and the urban poor.59

Sed ad chirographa redeamus: chirographum is a loanword from the Greek (cheirographon), consisting of the Greek term for ‘hand’ (cheir) + the word for writing (graphein). Here it refers to those acts of Caesar that only existed in draft form — and had not yet been inscribed on bronze and displayed in public. One could imagine Cicero investing ad chirographa with a knowing touch of sarcasm. redeamus is an exhortative subjunctive (‘let us return…’).

quae tua fuit cognitio?: cognitio here has the technical sense of ‘formal review’ undertaken by the magistrate in charge. See Kunkel (1995: 145–46), who discusses cognoscere and cognitio of magistrates in the context of civil law. Among other things, Kunkel notes that the cognitio of magistrates was undertaken as a quasi-legal exercise, i.e. following certain procedural principles. One of these principles was the constitution and participation of a consilium, at least in those circumstances when the case at issue was of significance. Conversely, cognitio sine consilio (‘a formal examination of the facts of the matter without involvement of a board of advisors’) was considered reprehensible. This fact endows the emphatic separation of tua from cognitio with a particular punch. The attribute suggests that Antony conducted the formal review according to his own whim and will, without subjecting his findings to the oversight of others. It is hence hardly surprising that Antony’s so-called ‘review’ somehow managed to unearth hitherto unknown (= forged) acts of Caesar — a fraudulent abuse of magisterial authority.

acta enim Caesaris pacis causa confirmata sunt a senatu; [ea] quae quidem Caesar egisset, non ea quae egisse Caesarem dixisset Antonius: Cicero inserts a meta-comment into his string of questions, recapitulating the compromise reached between Antony and the senate in the meeting on 17 March — i.e. to approve Caesar’s acts, but of course only those that actually were Caesar’s. The comment is set up by the dialogic discourse particle enim, by which a speaker appeals to interpersonal consensus (Kroon 1995); the sense here is akin to: ‘let’s briefly rehearse some obvious facts’. The second part of the sentence (quae … Antonius) stands in apposition to acta, as Cicero sees an obvious need to define the notion of ‘Caesar’s acta’ further with two relative clauses of characteristic (hence the subjunctive, here expressing restriction and proviso: Allen and Greenough 535d). The ‘particularizing-limiting’ sense of the particle quidem here, which often occurs in restrictive relative clauses (OLD s.v. 1d), reinforces the distinction between acta that are genuine and acta forged by Antony. The second quae doubles as accusative object of both dixisset and egisse; dixisset introduces an indirect statement with Caesarem as subject accusative and egisse as infinitive.

pacis causâ … a senatu: the ablative of causa can function as a preposition + genitive: ‘for the sake of peace’. Here the phrase stresses that Cicero is unwilling to invest Caesar’s acts with any inherent authority — the only reason they were confirmed was to broker peace between the liberators and the Caesarians. The postponed ablative of agency a senatu has the same purpose — it emphatically re-establishes the senate as the centre of political decision-making.

quae … Caesar egisset, non ea quae egisse Caesarem dixisset Antonius: the chiasmus Caesar : egisset :: egisse : Caesarem and the emphatic postponement of Antonius (as far away from Caesar in the nominative as possible) reinforce the contrast between genuine and forged acta. Cicero implies, tendentiously, that all the acts that Antony claims to have found in Caesar’s archive are forgeries.

unde ista erumpunt, quo auctore [ista] proferuntur? si sunt falsa, cur probantur? si [sunt] vera, cur veneunt?: Cicero uses four questions grouped in two pairs (unde  quo auctore; cur  cur) to present a dilemma designed to shore up the point that Antony is abusing his privileged access to Caesar’s state papers: either his archival ‘discoveries’ are forged inventions — then they should not be approved; or they are authentic manifestations of Caesar’s will — then they should not command a bribe for being put into practice. Cicero’s use of the present tense throughout (erumpunt, proferuntur, probantur, veneunt) is ominous: he is not talking of a past transgression, but an ongoing scandal. The (scornful) deictic pronoun ista refers back only and specifically to those acts that Antony pretends to be Caesar’s — ea quae egisse Caesarem dixisset Antonius — and not Caesar’s actual acts (quae … Caesar egisset).

quo auctore proferuntur?: the interrogative pronoun quo is here part of a nominal ablative absolute (‘nominal’ since it consists of a pronoun and a noun, rather than the usual noun + participle combination); to translate, turn the pronoun into a genitive: ‘on whose authority are they produced?’

at sic placuerat ut ex Kalendis Iuniis de Caesaris actis cum consilio cognosceretis: placet in the past tenses (perfect placuit or, as here, pluperfect placuerat) is used to refer to decisions made by the senate or some other authority (OLD s.v. 5b): ‘it had been resolved that…’ Cicero’s prose leaves it entirely ambiguous who was responsible for postponing the formal examination of Caesar’s archive until June. As Ramsey (1994: 134, n. 13) points out, ‘the decree itself did not contain the provision for the postponement until 1 June, nor did the Senate pass a separate decree providing for the postponement, although quite a few scholars have jumped to this false conclusion’.

ex Kalendis Iuniis: ex here specifies the moment in time when the review was supposed to begin (‘commencing on the calends of June’).

de Caesaris actis … cognosceretis: cognoscere de here has again the technical, quasi-legal sense of ‘to investigate formally to ascertain the facts about…’

cum consilio: the consilium is a typically Roman institution: it was in effect a group of esteemed and experienced persons who acted in an advisory capacity; any Roman in a position of power, whether in his role as paterfamilias or as a (pro-)magistrate of the Roman people, was expected to consult his consilium before making an important or difficult decision. See Kunkel (1995: 135–41). Here, the advisory group was designed to ensure that Antony played by the rules in his handling of Caesar’s state papers.

quod fuit consilium, quem umquam advocasti, quas Kalendas Iunias expectasti? an eas [Kalendas] ad quas te peragratis veteranorum coloniis stipatum armis rettulisti?: Cicero here blasts Antony for failing to put the senatorial decree drafted by Sulpicius (above 297–98) into practice: he did not summon any advisory council and let the specified deadline at which the review of Caesar’s acta was supposed to begin (the Calends of June) pass. an eas picks up Kalendas: ‘those perhaps, by which…?’ The verb is the reflexive te … rettulisti (lit. ‘returned yourself’); stipatum is a perfect passive participle in the accusative masculine singular, agreeing with the reflexive pronoun te and governing the ablative armis: ‘you returned, loaded with weapons’.

peragratis veteranorum coloniis: an ablative absolute, even though the one who is doing the traversing is Antonius, the subject of the relative clause.

o praeclaram illam percursationem tuam mense Aprili atque Maio, tum cum etiam Capuam coloniam deducere conatus es!: o … tuam is an accusative of exclamation, followed by an ablative of time (‘in April and May’).

Capuam coloniam deducere: Capuam is a so-called ‘accusative of place to which’, which normally takes a preposition such as ad, except when the destination is a city (as here), town, a small islands, ‘home’ (domus) or the countryside (rus). (Cf. English: I am going home — domum eo; ‘I am going to Capua’ — Capuam eo.) coloniam deducere means ‘to found a colony’. See Gargola (1995: 217): ‘Forms of two verbs usually denoted the act of establishing a colony. The more frequently encountered expression, preferred by writers affecting the annalistic style, was some form of the words, coloniam deducere, while another, less frequently used phrase was coloniam condere’.

quem ad modum illinc abieris vel potius paene non abieris scimus: quem ad modum … non abieris is an indirect question (hence the subjunctive) governed by scimus. Apparently, Antony ‘was roughly handled in Capua, as the old settlers looked with an evil eye on his new colonists, as intruders on their rights’ (Mayor 1861: 141). Cicero suggests that he ‘barely’ (paene) escaped with his life — surely an exaggeration.

abieris: second person singular perfect subjunctive active.

§ 101: Revels and Remunerations

Cicero continues to blast Antony for his conduct in Southern Italy. His attack is three-pronged: a brief reference back to the close shave he had at Capua with disgruntled locals treated at the end of the previous paragraph; dissolute living to the point of self-harm; and dissolute squandering of public patrimony on undeserving mates, thus inflicting harm on everyone else and the commonwealth as such. Already in the transitional § 43, Cicero lashed out at Antony’s absurd remuneration of his teacher in rhetoric, one Sextus Clodius, who supposedly had been gifted with 2000 iugera in the plain of Leontini, some of the finest arable land in Sicily. At that moment he deferred more detailed treatment of this and similar matters to some later point in the speech: sed dicam alio loco et de Leontino agro et de Campano, quos iste agros ereptos rei publicae turpissimis possessoribus inquinavit (‘But I shall be speaking elsewhere both of the Leontine and the Campanian lands, the lands Antonius snatched from the Republic and befouled with disgraceful tenants’). The reference is to §§ 101–02.

Cui tu urbi minitaris: cui is a connecting relative, agreeing with urbi (= et eae); the dative goes with the deponent minitaris (in form the second person singular present indicative passive). minitari can be used either intransitively (‘to threaten’) with the person or thing threatened in the dative or transitively (with an accusative object, an accusative + infinitive, or an infinitive), again with the person threatened in the dative. The sense here seems intransitive, though a more specific threat, i.e. to retry to found a colony in the city’s territory, hangs in the air.

utinam conere [coloniam deducere Capuam?], ut aliquando illud ‘paene’ tollatur!: conêre is the alternative form of the second person singular present subjunctive of the deponent conor (= conêris) — ‘If only you would try’ — followed by a consecutive ut-clause, in which Cicero quotes the paene from the end of the previous paragraph: next time Antony seeks trouble with Capua, he may well fail to make another lucky escape. Cicero does not specify what Antony should try, and the vagueness may be deliberate, but given the end of the previous paragraph (… tum cum etiam Capuam coloniam deducere conatus es), what Cicero may have in mind is a second attempt to found a colony at Capua.

utinam: the particle utinam introduces a wish clause.

at quam nobilis est tua illa peregrinatio!: quam nobilis, exposed by its front position, is highly derisive. Cicero mocks Antony, shockingly untroubled as he is by any instinct for propriety, for his failure to live up to his family pedigree (and his nobilitas) during his ‘peregrinations’. In fact, the phrase nobilis peregrinatio amounts to something of an oxymoron. A peregrinus is a foreigner or alien, someone who has come from abroad, and if a Roman engages in peregrinatio, foreign travel, he turns himself into one as well — both abroad and, more to the point, back in Rome: ‘For Cicero peregrinatio may turn the traveller into a peregrinus in his own country’, writes Catharine Edwards (1996: 116), with an apposite reference to Cicero’s letter to Caelius Rufus (Fam. 2.12.2 = 95 SB): urbem, urbem, mi Rufe, cole et in ista luce vive. omnis peregrinatio … obscura et sordida est iis, quorum industria Romae potest illustris esse (‘Rome! Stick to Rome, my fear fellow, and live in the limelight! Sojourn abroad of any kind … is squalid obscurity for those whose efforts can win lustre in the capital’). Put differently, one cannot possibly be nobilis or illustris in foreign parts — rather, peregrinatio destroys nobilitas.

quid prandiorum apparatus [proferam], quid furiosam vinulentiam tuam proferam?: quid here means ‘why?’, ‘For what reason?’ (see OLD s.v. quis 16). proferam is in what grammars call the ‘deliberative subjunctive’. See e.g. Allen and Greenough 443: ‘The subjunctive was used in sentences of interrogative form, at first when the speaker wished information in regard to the will or desire of the person addressed. The mood was therefore hortatory in origin. But such questions when addressed by the speaker to himself, as if asking his own advice, become deliberative or, not infrequently, merely exclamatory. In such cases the mood often approaches the meaning of the Potential…. In these uses the subjunctive is often called Deliberative or Dubitative’.60 Rhetorically, we are here dealing with a praeteritio — the nifty move of mentioning something in passing, to implant it firmly in the imagination of the audience, without dwelling on details. See further above 166–68.

prandiorum apparatus: sumptuous lunches. apparatus (a fourth-declension noun) is here in the accusative plural. prandium was the Roman midday meal, not as substantial as the evening repast (cena) and not a meal to which guests were usually invited: Balsdon (1969: 25). The phrase therefore amounts to something like an oxymoron. (I owe this point to Emily Gowers: for the ideology of eating at Rome, see her The Loaded Table: Representations of Food in Roman Literature, Oxford 1993).

furiosam vinulentiam tuam: one of the main vices that Cicero ascribes to Antony is over-indulgence, in particular when it comes to booze. His compulsive desire for intoxication is symbolic of his lack of self-control and moderation throughout the Philippics. See Phil. 2.68 (vinulentus), 6.4 and 12.26 (vinulentia), 13.31 (obrutus vino), 5.24 (semper ebrium) with Evans (2008: 69). See further above 227–28. The furiosus (as noun) is a legal category in Rome, dating back to the 12 Tables: as opposed to the phrase mente captus, which referred to someone in a permanent state of mental insanity, furiosus was the label for a lunatic who experienced periods of lucidity.

tua ista detrimenta sunt, illa [detrimenta sunt] nostra: Cicero again uses chiasmus (tua : ista :: illa : nostra, with tua and nostra in predicative position) around the central term detrimenta to differentiate (and keep firmly apart) the harm caused by Antony to himself and the harm he causes to the rest of Rome’s civic community (evoked by means of the self-identifying nostra). ista refers back to Antony’s over-indulgence in food and drink; illa refers forward to his embezzlement of public funds.

agrum Campanum, qui cum de vectigalibus [agris] eximebatur ut militibus daretur, tamen infligi magnum rei publicae vulnus putabamus, hunc tu compransoribus tuis et collusoribus dividebas: agrum Campanum, picked up again by the demonstrative pronoun hunc after the intervening qui-clause, is the accusative object of dividebas. It is also the antecedent of qui. The relative clause does not present problems initially (‘… which, when it was taken out of the public revenues to be given to soldiers…’), but its syntax goes awry from tamen onwards, when Cicero suddenly abandons his construction (= anacoluthon). What he wants to say is: ‘Even when part of the ager Campanus was taken out of the revenue-generating lands to be given over to veterans (Pompey’s in 59 BCE; Caesar’s in 45 BCE), we nevertheless believed that a grave wound was being inflicted on the commonwealth (though we can concede that settling veterans is a worthy cause); but Antony was parcelling out this public land to his table mates and gambling buddies!’

agrum Campanum… hunc tu compransoribus tuis et collusoribus dividebas: the ager Campanus (‘domain of Capua’ — as Mayor (1861: 142) points out ‘Campanus (not Capuanus) is the adjective for “Capuan”’) is the Capuan territory that the Romans had sequestered as public land after the Second Punic War (a conflict in which Capua had sided with Hannibal). The tax levied on its usage provided a steady source of public revenue until Caesar turned the land into allotments for Pompey’s veterans in 59 and his own in 45 BCE.

qui cum de vectigalibus [agris] eximebatur: a temporal cum-clause referring to the gradual distribution of the public land around Capua to veterans over the past fifteen years. vectigalis ager = land in the possession of the Roman people (as opposed to private patrimony) that yielded public income.

ut militibus daretur: technically speaking, the land was given to ex-soldiers or veterans at the end of their service as a retirement settlement.

mimos dico et mimas, patres conscripti, in agro Campano collocatos: dico introduces an indirect statement with mimos and mimas as subject accusatives and collocatos (esse) as infinitive. The jarring juxtaposition of mimas (‘mime-actresses’) and the vocative patres conscripti (‘senators’) rams home the social perversions perpetrated by Antony. Mimes were as popular as they were disreputable: actors in general carried a stigma (infamia) in Roman society. Cicero expresses his outrage at Antony’s consorting with a star of the mime-stage as early as 49. In the early stages of the civil war he writes to Atticus from Cumae about Antony’s peculiar entourage of girlfriends and toy-boys (Att. 10.10.4 = 201 SB; 3 May 49):

hic [sc. Antonius] tamen Cytherida secum lectica aperta portat, alteram uxorem. septem praeterea coniunctae lecticae amicarum; et sunt amicorum.

[But Antony is carrying Cytheris around with him in an open litter, a second wife. Seven other litters are attached, containing mistresses; and there are some containing friends.]

Earlier on in Philippic 2, he claims that Antony had mimes and pimps in train already as tribune of the people (§ 58):

Vehebatur in essedo tribunus plebis; lictores laureati antecedebant, inter quos aperta lectica mima portabatur, quam ex oppidis municipales homines honesti, obviam necessario prodeuntes, non noto illo et mimico nomine, sed Volumniam consalutabant. Sequebatur raeda cum lenonibus, comites nequissimi; reiecta mater amicam impuri fili tamquam nurum sequebatur.

[As tribune of the plebs, he used to ride about in a two-wheeled carriage; lictors decked with laurel led the way, and in their midst a mime actress was carried in an open litter. Respectable folk from the country towns, who were obliged to come out and meet the cortege, greeted her not by her well-known stage name but as ‘Volumnia’. Then followed a carriage full of pimps, Antonius’ utterly worthless entourage. His mother, relegated to the rear, followed her worthless son’s mistress as if a daughter-in-law.]

Antony’s alleged provision of financial welfare for the dregs of society at the expense of the commonwealth’s coffers remains a source of invective also in later Philippics. See e.g. Phil. 8.26: cavet mimis, aleatoribus, lenonibus, Cafoni etiam et Saxae cavet, quos centuriones pugnaces et lacertosos inter mimorum et mimarum greges conlocavit (‘he provides for mimes, gamblers, and pimps; he provides even for Cafo and Saxa, pugnacious and brawny centurions whom he has posted amid his herd of male and female mimes’).

quid iam querar de agro Leontino? quoniam quidem hae quondam arationes Campana et Leontina in populi Romani patrimonio grandiferae et fructuosae ferebantur: Cicero moves on to another region that Antony used for land distributions, the ager Leontinus in Sicily, which he already mentioned in § 43. Unlike the earlier question, which functions as praeteritio, Cicero here answers his own question: ‘Why should I at this point grumble about the ager Leontinus? Because — needless to say (quidem) — (both of) these arable regions of Campania and Leontini used to be contained within the inheritance of the Roman people, as (particularly) fertile and profitable’. Cicero underscores the outrageous misappropriation of public lands by means of a querulous qu-alliteration (quoniam quidem… quondam, picking up on querar) and lexical grand-standing (reinforced by etymological and alliterative play) in grandi-ferae et fructuosae ferebantur. The sense of ferebantur is ‘… used to be contained within…’: OLD s.v. fero 12b. The compound adjective grandiferae (consisting of the adjective grandis ‘great in volume’, and the adjectival suffix -fer, -fera, -ferum, from fero, denoting ‘carrying, bearing, bringing’) refers to the large volume of produce that the land yielded, whereas fructuosae designates the correspondingly large tithes for Rome’s coffers.

quoniam: a causal conjunction construed with the indicative in direct discourse.

hae … arationes Campana et Leontina: ‘these arable lands of Campania and Leontini’. Note that the two attributes Campana and Leontina are both in the singular, though arationes, the noun each modifies (the subject of ferebantur) is in the plural: ‘those arable lands, i.e. that of Campania and that of Leontini’.

arationes… grandiferae et fructuosae: aratio is initially the action of ploughing and sowing the field and then came to refer also to ‘arable land’ (as opposed to lands used for pasture and forests).

in populi Romani patrimonio: ‘in the possession of the Roman people’

quondam: the adverb specifies a point in time in contrast to the present, which may be located in the past (as here) or in the future.

medico tria milia iugerum [dedisti]: quid [dedisses] si te sanasset? rhetori duo [milia iugerum dedisti]: quid [dedisses] si te disertum facere potuisset?: Cicero moves on to professionals in Antony’s entourage (an anonymous doctor and his teacher in rhetoric, Sextus Clodius), to whom he gave lavish handouts for no services rendered, asking rhetorically in two past counterfactual conditions how much they would have received if they had actually done their job, i.e. healing Antony of his manifest insanity and teaching him how to speak properly. The amount of land Antony parcelled out to his associates is huge, given that veterans received allotments in the range of 10–12 iugera.

sanasset: the syncopated form of the third person singular pluperfect subjunctive active (sana|vi|sset).

sed ad iter Italiamque redeamus: for some moments Cicero’s discourse had jumped to the land distributions around the Sicilian town of Leontini. He now exhorts himself (redeamus is exhortative subjunctive: ‘let us…’) to return to Antony’s journey through Italy (ad iter Italiamque is perhaps best understood as a hendiadys).

§ 102: Antony Colonized a Colony!

In republican Rome, founding a new colony was a complex political act that followed a detailed political and religious script.61 In Rome itself, this included a senatorial decree, the passing of a law by a legislative assembly, the election of colonial commissioners, the enlistment of the colonists, and the official departure to the settlement location (deductio). On site, the officials would take the auspices, demarcate the urban core of the new settlement with a special plow with a bronze plowshare by plowing the so-called sulcus primigenius (‘primeval furrow’) around the site of the new city, and purify the colonists in a ritual called lustrum, thereby also constituting them as a new civic community grounded in the new urban settlement.

Respect for ritual protocols and political procedures was deeply engrained in Rome’s cultural imaginary, and every magistrate was well advised to abide as far as possible and/or convenient by the system of rules that governed public affairs, simply to avoid trouble down the road. And thus, when Antony had the idea of re-establishing a colony at Capua to settle veterans, a territory that Caesar had used for the same purpose, he seems to have checked with Cicero, as an expert in augural law and a consular, whether the plan would run into religious objections. Cicero’s reply was that, from the point of view of religious law, it was not permitted to found another colony in the territory of an already existing one; what was feasible was to add new settlers to the colony already in place. This was probably not quite the response Antony was hoping for, but he seems to have accepted Cicero’s ruling — for Capua. But when his mind turned to another location in the vicinity — Casilinum — , which had also been used for a colonial settlement by Caesar, he decided to dispense with consultation and simply went ahead, founding (it seems) an entirely new colony in the territory of the old one, essentially ignoring Cicero’s ruling on Capua (which, so Cicero argues, of course applied to Casilinum, as to any other location, as well).

Deduxisti coloniam Casilinum, quo Caesar ante [coloniam] deduxerat: Cicero uses verbal spacing and an implied chiasmus to reinforce the contrast between Antony and Caesar — (a) deduxisti (b) coloniam (c) Casilinum :: (c) quo (b) [coloniam] (a) deduxerat. The up-front placement of the verb deduxisti inverts the natural word order, which is on display in the relative clause, and thus enacts Antony’s seemingly perverse upending of Caesar’s settlement.

Casilinum: an accusative of direction. Casilinum is a town in Campania, located about 3 miles to the North-West of Capua on the river Volturnus at the crossroads of the Via Appia and the Via Latina. In 59 BCE, Caesar established a colony of Pompey’s veterans there, which Antony ‘re-founded’ during his trip to Southern Italy in April / May 44 BCE.

ante: adverbial.

consuluisti me per litteras de Capua tu quidem, sed idem de Casilino respondissem: possesne, ubi colonia esset, eo coloniam novam iure deducere: Cicero here deviates from reporting events in strict chronological order: (i) consuluisti … tu quidem: he concedes that Antony consulted him about establishing a colony at Capua (though not with regard to Casilinum); (ii) sed idem … respondissem is a truncated past counterfactual condition: ‘if you had consulted me about Casilinum (si me consuluisses), I would have given you the same response as I did with regard to Capua’; (iii) possesne … deducere: now Cicero specifies what precisely Antony consulted him about. The following sentence (negavi … rescripsi) contains his answer.

quidem: concessive (‘you, it is true, did consult me…’)

idem … respondissem: idem is neuter accusative — the object of respondissem (in the pluperfect subjunctive as the apodosis of the (implied) past counterfactual condition).

possesne … deducere: a question (flagged by the enclitic -ne) in indirect discourse (hence the subjunctive) introduced by consuluisti. The second person singular is generic: ‘can one…’

per litteras: still used as a pretentious Latin tag in contemporary English (‘by means of letters’, ‘through written correspondence’). The correspondence — if it existed — has not survived. (It’s fishy that Antony, who was an augur himself, felt the need to turn to Cicero for advice given that he could have anticipated an uncooperative response. It’s bound to make you think… — not for the first time, the invective stance is wearing all too thin?)

negavi in eam coloniam quae esset auspicato deducta, dum esset incolumis, coloniam novam iure deduci: colonos novos ascribi posse rescripsi: Cicero’s finicky reply drew a distinction between founding a whole new colony (colonia) within the territory of a previously establish colony (not to be done) and enrolling new settlers (coloni novi) in the existing colony (quite possible). Instead of subsuming his negative ruling on the new colony within his response, Cicero presents it upfront as a self-standing main clause (negavi thus correlates with deduxisti and consuluisti), governing an indirect statement with coloniam novam as subject accusative and deduci as (passive) infinitive (hence the subjunctives in the quae- and dum-clauses). A second main clause follows, with rescripsi as verb governing the indirect statement with colonos novos as subject accusative and posse as infinitive.

quae esset auspicato deducta: as Ramsey (2003: 311) points out, the adverb auspicato ‘is in origin an ablative absolute comprising the perfect participle of auspicor’. Its meaning here is ‘with due regard to the auspices’, i.e. after due consultation of the will of the gods, which manifested their approval.

dum esset incolumis: incolumis here has a technical, legal-constitutional sense: while an already established colony is ‘fully functional’ / ‘in good condition’ as a colony, its territory is unavailable for a new foundation. (Cicero’s phrasing implies that the territory of a foundation that has collapsed could be re-colonized.)

ascribi: present passive infinitive: ‘to be added to — and hence enrolled in — the already existing list of settlers’. The point is that these colonists could join the established community, but were not permitted to found one of their own.

rescripsi: rescribere (‘to reply’) here has a technical sense: ‘“Rescripts” were issued by authorities in reply to questions raised with them, giving advice or rulings’ (Lacey 1986: 231).

tu autem insolentia elatus omni auspiciorum iure turbato Casilinum coloniam deduxisti, quo [colonia] erat paucis annis ante deducta, ut vexillum tolleres, ut aratrum circumduceres: in forceful antithesis (cf. the contemptuous opening tu autem), Cicero now presents Antony as disregarding Cicero’s expert advice on the technicalities of colonial settlements. To add insult to injury, Antony (so Cicero claims) took an active hand in the ritual procedures of the new foundation.

insolentia elatus: elatus (the perfect passive participle of effero) modifies tu: the sense seems to be: ‘raised above consideration for augural law because of your arrogance’.

omni auspiciorum iure turbato: an ablative absolute, even though the person who does the confounding of the augural law is Antony, the subject of the main clause.

Casilinum coloniam deduxisti: Casilinum is another accusative of direction (without preposition).

paucis annis ante: ablative of time followed by temporal adverb: ‘a few years previously’. The reference is to Caesar’s foundation during his consulship in 59 BCE.

ut vexillum tolleres: vexillum tollere is formed on the analogy signa tollere, which, in the sense of ‘to raise up [sc. by planting them into the ground]’ means ‘to strike camp’. See Haynes (2013: 218): ‘The standards are … the symbols par excellence of the Roman military community. In times of peace, they lie at the heart of the camp; in times of war, at the heart of the battle force. … The actions of the standard-bearers marked the pitching or striking of camp; so much so, in fact, that the term signa tollere came to represent striking camp in Latin speech’. But it could also mean ‘to raise them up [sc. by removing them from the ground]’ in order to march on. The ambiguity may be deliberate insofar as Antony does both: he moves the old Caesarian standards and plants the new ones. Perhaps the reference is specifically to the censorial rites performed during the new foundation at Casilinum, which included (i) taking of the auspices, (ii) summoning of the people according to centuries for purification, (iii) the leading of three sacrificial victims (a bull, a boar, and a ram: suovetaurilia) around the assembled citizen body, (iv) the actual sacrifice complete with vow for its repetition the following year if public welfare continued, and, finally, (v) the return of the citizen body into the city led by the censor with a standard or vexillum. See Gargola (1995: 77) with reference to Varro, de Lingua Latina 6.93: … censor exercitum centuriato constituit quinquennalem, cum lustrare et in urbem ad vexillum ducere debet (‘… the censor arranges in centuries the citizen-army for a period of five years, when he must ceremonially purify it and lead it to the city under its standards’).

cuius quidem vomere portam Capuae paene perstrinxisti, ut florentis coloniae territorium minueretur: cuius is a connecting relative (= et eius), referring back to aratrum: ‘And indeed [emphatic quidem after connecting relative: OLD s.v. 2b], with its share [i.e. the share of the plough] you all but (paene) grazed the gate of Capua…’ Antony seems to have used this opportunity to get his own back for the hostile treatment he received from the city: see above § 100. But whether ‘Mark Antony personally directed the lustrum and plowed the furrow for the colony at Casilinum in 44’ (Gargola (1995: 180), following Cicero) remains a matter of speculation.

§ 103: Antony’s Enrichment Activities

Rome’s civil-war years saw a drastic redistribution of wealth, as the victorious warlords oversaw the confiscation of property and land owned by those who ended up on the losing side of history. It was one of the ways by which the winners were able to reward the loyalty of their supporters, many of whom (according to Cicero) joined Caesar’s cause precisely in the expectation that it would prove financially beneficial. As he says in Philippic 4.9 about Antony and his followers:

sed spes rapiendi atque praedandi obcaecat animos eorum, quos non bonorum donatio, non agrorum adsignatio, non illa infinita hasta satiavit; qui sibi urbem, qui bona et fortunas civium ad praedam proposuerunt.

[But hope of pillage and plunder blind the minds of men whom no gift of property, no assignment of lands, nor that never-ending auction [sc. of property confiscated from Pompey and his supporters] has sated; men that have set before themselves for plunder the city and the goods and fortunes of its citizens.]

In this paragraph and the following two, Cicero focuses on the property of Marcus Terentius Varro, in part because Varro, in terms of literary standing in late republican Rome second only to Cicero and the acknowledged ‘polymath of the Roman World’, was a particularly illustrious Pompeian, whose live(lihood) and property came under threat in the civil war period.62 Here are some brief biographical details:

  • c. 116: born into an established senatorial family
  • Education: wide-ranging, including in Greek culture (L. Aelius, the Academic philosopher Antiochus)
  • 67: commander in Pompey’s campaign against the pirates
  • 49: declares for Pompey and commands the republican forces in Spain
  • 48: surrenders to Caesar near Corduba, gets pardoned and released; he joins the Pompeian forces again at Dyrrhachium; after Pompey’s defeat at Pharsalus, Varro (just like Cicero) gives up active resistance and withdraws from public life
  • 47: while Caesar is in Egypt, Antony tries to get his hands on Varro’s villa near Casinum, but Caesar objects
  • 45: reconciliation with Caesar upon Caesar’s return to Rome; gets put in charge of establishing and stocking what would have been Rome’s first public libraries with Greek and Roman books, a project that never came to fruition.63 See Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 44:

    Nam de ornanda instruendaque urbe, item de tuendo ampliandoque imperio plura ac maiora in dies destinabat: … bibliothecas Graecas Latinasque quas maximas posset publicare data Marco Varroni cura comparandarum ac digerendarum.

    [In particular, for the adornment and convenience of the city, also for the protection and extension of the Empire, he formed more projects and more extensive ones every day: … to open to the public the greatest possible libraries of Greek and Latin books, assigning to Marcus Varro the charge of procuring and classifying them.]

  • 43: Antony has him put on the list of the proscribed — he gets spared Cicero’s fate through the intervention of Fufius Calenus who manages to hide Varro from the henchmen (Appian, Bellum Civile 4.203); his library, though, gets plundered64
  • 27: dies, 90 years of age

Varro was one of the most learned men of Rome, the antiquarian par excellence, who produced a massive literary oeuvre. One of his writings, the De Re Rustica (3.5) contains a detailed description of his property at Casinum (the dialogue was written in the 30s, so Caesar must have ensured that he got it back). §§ 103–05 revolve around this estate, with Cicero, for invective purposes, deliberately and confusingly skipping back and forth between two occasions several years apart:

  1. Sometime in 47 BCE, Antony attempted to confiscate Varro’s property. The attempt failed because Caesar, who was fighting in Alexandria at the time and whom Antony consulted by letter, withheld his approval.
  2. During his sojourn in Southern Italy in April / May 44 BCE, Antony and his entourage visited Varro’s villa and enjoyed some (enforced?) hospitality.

What does Cicero make of this?

  • § 103a: Ab hac perturbatione … liberavisti: reference to the visit of 44 BCE, but with the (false) insinuation that Antony came to confiscate the property (as he had tried to do in 47 BCE)
  • § 103b: Varronis quidem … praeconis audivit: rejection of the notion (held by nobody) that any part of Varro’s property was ever confiscated and sold at auction
  • § 103c: misisse … magnum fuit: reference to Antony’s unsuccessful attempt to confiscate Varro’s property back in 47 BCE
  • § 104a: quis vero audivit … detractam: renewed rejection of the notion (held by nobody) that any part of Varro’s property was ever confiscated and sold at auction
  • § 104b: quid? si etiam scripsit ad te Caesar … temeritatis tuae: renewed reference to Antony’s unsuccessful attempt to confiscate Varro’s property back in 47 BCE
  • § 104c–105a: At quam multos dies … scorta inter matres familias versabantur: description of the disgraceful conduct of Antony and his mates during their visit at Varro’s villa in 44 BCE

Put differently, Cicero uses an initial reference to Antony’s visit at Varro’s villa in 44 BCE to slip back in time and rehearse the tussle over ownership that happened in 47 BCE. This enables him (a) to draw, yet again, a sharp contrast between Caesar and Antony; (b) to recall a failure by Antony; (c) to insinuate that during his recent visit Antony behaved as if he owned the property.

Ab hac perturbatione religionum advolas in M. Varronis, sanctissimi atque integerrimi viri, fundum Casinatem: Cicero already relied on advolare for the purpose of negative characterization in § 50. ad + volare — literally ‘to fly towards’, but also used in military contexts to signify ‘to rush to the attack’, ‘to swoop down on’ — generates the dehumanizing image of Antony rapaciously ‘swooping in on and snatching up’ Varro’s estate in his greedy claws, with the significant hyperbaton in … fundum highlighting both the distance and the speed of the descent. Positioned neatly in-between the two prepositional phrases ab… and in …, advolas further suggests restless agitation of the compulsive kind: Antony seems beset by the obsession to perpetrate one outrage after another in quick succession. When Roman aristocrats travelled in foreign parts, they would routinely rely on the hospitality extended by senatorial peers, even those with whom relations were fraught. So it is not at all unusual that Antony and his entourage, while in the area, stayed a while at Varro’s villa. Cicero himself records a similar visit paid to him by Caesar in December 45 in a letter to Atticus (Att. 13.52 = 353 SB), noting that Caesar is not the kind of guest one is keen to host twice.

M. Varronis, sanctissimi atque integerrimi viri: embedded within in … fundum Casinatem is the name and a longish appreciation in apposition of the victim. Cicero hails the moral integrity and unblemished record of Marcus Terentius Varro in superlatives. The use of vir (especially in the context of the metaphorical assimilation of Antony to a monstrous bird of prey) is not accidental either: ‘Cicero’s speeches make it evident that vir is a term of utmost respect which he applies to Rome’s foremost senators and magistrates. That the word is not to be thrown about at random is evident from a letter to Atticus about the late dictator in which Cicero bristles that he heard “that tyrant” called clarissimum virum in a public meeting (Att. 15.20.2). To Cicero, a man who has misused his power is unworthy of the time-honoured epithet’ (Santoro L’Hoir 1992: 13).

quo iure, quo ore [advolas]? ‘Eodem [iure / ore]’, inquies, ‘quo in heredum L. Rubri [praedia advolavi / invasi], quo in heredum L. Turseli praedia [advolavi / invasi], quo in reliquas innumerabiles possessiones [advolavi / invasi]: By suspending with further verbs after the advolas of the previous sentence, but continuing the syntax of ‘[elided verb] + in + accusative’ in Antony’s imagined response, Cicero has Antony buy into the idiom of his attack and thus agree with the accusation of greedy land-grabbing. (Mayor (1861: 144) suggests that a ‘more general notion’ such as invasi ought to be supplied from advolas.) Cicero here sets up an analogy between Antony’s insolence in sequestering the property of Varro and the unrestrained greed that informed his desire to benefit from legacies, to the point of short-changing their next of kin. Lucius Rubrius and Lucius Turselius, it seems, composed testaments that left their landed property (praedia: neuter accusative plural after the preposition in) to Antony, instead of their natural heirs: both heredum (genitive plural of heres) depend on praedia (the first implied), L. Rubri depends on the first heredum, L. Turseli on the second: ‘… I snatched up the properties of the heirs of L. Rubrius and the heirs of L. Turselius’.

quo iure, quo ore?: the two questions pull in opposite direction: quo iure (‘by what right?’) requires a negative answer (‘you had no right at all!’), whereas quo ore (‘with what face?’) issues a protest against the expression on Antony’s face (a mixture of greed and cheek?) he wore during the confiscation. Nisbet (1960: 103) notes that quo ore? ‘does not combine well with quo iure?, and the difficulty is increased by the following sentence’. He suggests reading quo more?.

inquies: second person singular future indicative active (‘you will say’).

L. Rubri … L. Turseli: we know from §§ 40–41 that Lucius Rubrius was an inhabitant of Casinum; perhaps the same applies to Lucius Turselius as well, though the two individuals are otherwise unknown.

et si ab hasta [in eas possessiones invasisti / advolavisti ‖ eas possessiones emisti], valeat hasta, valeant tabulae modo [ut sint tabulae] Caesaris, non tuae, [eae] quibus debuisti, non [eae] quibus tu te liberavisti: ‘If you took possession of them at a public auction, let the auction stand / be valid, let the sale-books stand — only provided they are Caesar’s, not your own, those through which you were in debt, not those through which you freed yourself of debt’. The sentence is difficult, not least because of frequent ellipsis, and best tackled bit by bit:

  • et si … valeat hasta: the opening conditional sequence is mixed, with an (implied) perfect indicative in the protasis (positing a past fact), followed in the apodosis by a third-person present hortatory subjunctive (valeat) to express a concession that Cicero is making now. The verb and related accusatives in the si-clause are again elided and need to be provided from context. Mayor (1861: 144) supplies invasisti, Ramsey (2003: 313) emisti.
  • valeant … tuae: a second third-person present hortatory subjunctive (valeant) segues in asyndeton, followed by a highly elliptical qualification introduced by modo. For modo ut… = ‘only provided that…’, also with ellipsis of verb, see OLD s.v. modo 4.
  • quibus debuisti … liberavisti: at the end of the sentence, the (implied) antecedents (eae) of the two relative pronouns quibus stand in apposition to tabulae, with quibus debuisti picking up tabulae Caesaris, which registered Antony in deep debt, and quibus tu te liberavisti picking up tabulae tuae, showing Antony debt-free owing to his illegal enrichments.

ab hasta: ‘from the public auction of confiscated property’. At a public auction a spear was stuck in the ground — the hasta thus ‘is the characteristic sign of auctions and hence functions as a metonymy for the allotment of possessions by auction’ (Manuwald 2007: 515).

valeant tabulae: on the meaning of tabulae, see Denniston (1926: 164): ‘Tabulae means here the bills of sale at an auction; but the mention of the word suggests one of its other meanings, “accounts”, and Cicero goes off at a tangent: “When I uphold the validity of ‘tabulae’, I mean Caesar’s accounts, in which you are entered as owing money for the property of Pompey which you bought and never paid for; not the accounts which you falsified at the temple of Ops, in order to get money to free yourself from debt”’.

Varronis quidem Casinatem fundum quis venisse dicit, quis hastam istius venditionis vidit, quis vocem praeconis audivit?: a tricolon, reinforced by the triple anaphora of quis, of three pugnacious rhetorical questions. dicit governs an indirect statement with fundum as subject accusative and venisse as verb. The placement of Varronis quidem Casinatem fundum before the interrogative pronoun quis brings out the full contrastive force of quidem: ‘As far as the estate of Varro at Casinum is concerned, who says that it was ever up for sale…?’

venisse: perfect infinitive of veneo, active in form but passive in meaning (‘to be for sale’), NOT of venio (‘to come’) even though the forms are indistinguishable. veneo functions as the passive to vendo (‘to sell’).

misisse te dicis Alexandriam [aliquem] qui emeret a Caesare; ipsum enim expectare magnum fuit: dicis introduces an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and misisse as verb. The accusative object (and antecedent of the relative pronoun qui) is implied. Alexandriam is an accusative of direction (without preposition since Alexandria is a city). The subjunctive in the relative clause (emeret) expresses purpose. Cicero follows up this imagined interjection and explanation by Antony with a highly sarcastic meta-comment set up by enim (Kroon 1995: 180) that mockingly ‘explains’ the apparent motivation for Antony’s dispatch of an agent to Alexandria: ‘it would of course (enim) have been difficult to wait for Caesar[’s return]!’

ipsum: referring to Caesar.

magnum fuit: for the indicative (where the English calls for a subjunctive) see Gildersleeve & Lodge 167–68: ‘The Latin language expresses possibility and power, obligation and necessity, and abstract relations generally, as facts; whereas, our translation often implies the failure to realise’. One of their examples, Cicero, de Natura Deorum 2.159, offers a good parallel to our passage: longum est persequi utilitate asinorum — ‘it would be tedious to rehearse the useful qualities of asses (I will not do it)’.

§ 104: Animal House

Cicero continues to insinuate, wrongly, that Antony, during his recent sojourn in Southern Italy, tried to stage another hostile take-over of Varro’s villa at Casinum. During his visit, it appeared as if the property had changed ownership, from the learned Varro to the loathsome Antony, who turned a house of erudition into a cesspool of vice. In § 104, Cicero focuses on boozing and gambling, including the emetic consequences of over-indulgence. In § 105, he adds sexual debauchery to the portfolio of sins.

Quis vero audivit umquam — nullius autem salus curae pluribus fuit — de fortunis Varronis rem ullam esse detractam?: audivit introduces an indirect statement with rem ullam as subject accusative and esse detractam (de…) as infinitive. The particle vero (‘in fact’) suggests that Cicero’s rhetorical question (quis … audivit?) operates on the level of commonly acknowledged facts.

nullius autem salus curae pluribus fuit: a double dative construction with esse: lit. ‘the well-being (salus) of no-one (nullius: genitive singular of nullus) was of concern (curae: dative of end / purpose) to more people (pluribus: dative of person affected)’; more elegantly: ‘no man has a larger number of concerned well-wishers’ (Shackleton Bailey). The particle autem here has an adversative sense (‘no-one has heard, even though virtually everyone cared…’) and marks the parenthetical status of the sentence as a discrete textual unit in its own right (see Kroon (1995: 270), who defines the discourse function of autem as ‘indication of the discrete status of a text segment in relation to its preceding verbal or non-verbal context’).

de fortunis Varronis: the basic meaning of fortuna is ‘fortune’, but in the plural (as here) it often refers to ‘fortunate material circumstances’, i.e. ‘wealth’, ‘property’.

quid? si etiam scripsit ad te Caesar ut redderes, quid satis potest dici de tanta impudentia?: quid? (‘Well then’) is often used as a transitional device. si etiam (followed by the perfect indicative scripsit, which indicates that Cicero is reporting a fact) is best translated with ‘as’ or ‘since’. The reference to Caesar’s intervention on Varro’s behalf sets up the rhetorical question quid … impudentia?, which consists of a well-known topos, i.e. the impossibility to do a real-life phenomenon (here Antony’s insolence) justice in discourse.

ut redderes: scripsit implies that Caesar’s letter contained a directive to Antony to return the estate: the ut-clause is one of indirect command. Cicero here gives us Caesar’s (negative) response to Antony’s enquiry mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph whether he could take possession of Varro’s villa.

quid satis potest dici de tanta impudentia?: lit. ‘what that is sufficient (satis) can be said about such impudence?’ ~ ‘what discourse can do such impudence justice?’ satis here functions as a noun and is the predicative complement to the subject of the sentence (quid).

remove gladios parumper illos quos videmus: iam intelleges aliam causam esse hastae Caesaris, aliam [causam] confidentiae et temeritatis tuae: Cicero’s imaginary interactivity (remove is an imperative addressed to Antony) here includes the setting: gladios … illos stands metonymically for Antony’s armed henchmen that Cicero imagines can be glimpsed (videmus) as they crowd threateningly around the senate house while he delivers his speech. In Cicero an imperative [remove] in (asyndetic) parataxis with a future [intelleges] often stands in for a conditional sequence (‘Remove / If you remove those swords…, at that moment (iam) you will realize…’): see Mayor (1861: 145) citing Madvig, and Ramsey (2003: 121). causam here has the technical sense of ‘legal situation / position’ (OLD s.v. causa 14b): Cicero contrasts the procedural legality of Caesar’s auctions (hastae Caesaris) with the arbitrary insolence of Antony’s illegal wealth-grab, pursued by violent means. But the distinction is of Cicero’s own making: it was, for instance, Caesar who sold the confiscated property of Pompey — to Antony.

confidentiae et temeritatis tuae: the company of temeritas, which is unambiguously negative, clarifies the meaning of confidentia, which can have a positive (‘self-confidence’) or — as here — a negative (‘audacity’) sense.

non enim te dominus modo illis sedibus sed quivis amicus, vicinus, hospes, procurator arcebit: translate as follows: non modo dominus sed etiam quivis amicus … procurator te illis sedibus arcebit. In addition to the owner (dominus), any lesser stakeholders will (now) also ward off Antony from Varro’s property. (Cicero lists four categories in asyndetic sequence, designed to suggest comprehensive hostility towards Antony in the area: friend – neighbour – guest – manager.) In line with his deliberate blurring of the confiscation attempt in 47 BCE and his more recent visit in the spring of 44 BCE, Cicero leaves it ambiguous what precisely ‘warding off Antony’ implies: protection against wrongful repossession or refusal to extend hospitality.

illis sedibus: an ablative of separation with arcebit.

procurator: ‘the agent of an absent owner, who had full power to act in his behalf’ (Mayor 1861: 145).

at quam multos dies in ea villa turpissime es perbacchatus! ab hora tertia bibebatur, ludebatur, vomebatur: Cicero identifies Antony as the lead-reveller (es perbacchatus: the prefix per- intensifies the activity) before continuing with an asyndetic tricolon of impersonal passives to capture the carousing Antony and his cronies engaged in, from 9 o’clock in the morning onwards: drinking, gambling, vomiting. Cicero leaves it open whether the frequent regurgitation breaks he posits were spontaneous (the result of binge-drinking) or deliberately induced, as part of excessive banqueting, or both.

multos dies: accusative of duration of time.

o tecta ipsa misera, ‘quam dispari domino’ — quamquam quo modo iste dominus? — sed tamen quam ab dispari tenebantur!: Cicero personifies the house by addressing it directly and metonymically: tecta, the roof, stands in for the whole. He ratchets up the pathos by citing the beginning of a tragic verse that laments a mismatch (cf. dispari) between a house (domus) and its owner (dominus). Given that labeling Antony ‘the owner’ (dominus) of Varro’s estate is incorrect, he feels the need to follow up with a parenthetical gloss (quamquam … dominus?), which recalls Antony’s unsuccessful attempts at confiscating Varro’s property a few years back, before reiterating the opening words of the tragic citation, now adjusted to the situation and integrated into the syntax of his sentence: dispari [homine], endowed with the preposition ab, becomes an ablative of agency with tenebantur; the subject are the tecta (nominative neuter plural).

The theme of mismatches between houses and their occupants had a personal and a political relevance for Cicero. In 62 BCE he bought a house of illustrious pedigree located on the Palatine Hill for 3.5 million sesterces, which many thought was too grandiose for a homo novus. And in the civil wars many striking estates changed owners through confiscation and enforced auctions. In the eyes of many, many a new owner did not match the quality of his new property. For Cicero, the most blatant mismatch concerned Antony’s residency in the house of Pompey the Great, which he laments at length at Philippic 2.65–69, to the point of pitying the very walls of the house because of the desecrations and debaucheries they were forced to witness (69: me quidem miseret parietum ipsorum atque tectorum — ‘For my part, I pity the very walls and roof’). Here he treats Antony’s presence in Varro’s house in a similar spirit.

In his contemporary treatise On Duties (de Officiis), Cicero includes a little disquisition on what domus is fitting for a leading statesman (1.138: dicendum est etiam, qualem hominis honorati et principis domum placeat esse). As a basic principle he maintains that the inhabitants ought to endow the house with dignity — and despite the hopes of many, it does not work the other way around: 1.139: ornanda enim est dignitas domo, non ex domo tota quaerenda, nec domo dominus, sed domino domus honestanda est. He then goes on to quote from the same tragedy as in Philippic 2:65

Odiosum est enim, cum a praetereuntibus dicitur:

O domus antiqua et quam dispari

dominare domino

quod quidem his temporibus in multis licet dicere.

[For it is unpleasant, when passers-by remark: ‘O good old house, alas! how different the owner who now owns you!’ And in these times that may be said of many a house!]

his temporibus refers to the recent period of civil warfare, confiscations, and repossessions — though Cicero must have been quite aware of the fact that others may well have applied the verses to his own residency on the Palatine Hill.

studiorum enim suorum receptaculum M. Varro [esse] voluit illud, non libidinum deversorium: M. Varro is the subject of the sentence, voluit the verb. The supplementary infinitive esse is implied. The deictic pronoun illud refers to his estate at Casinum, which Antony defiled by turning it from its original purpose as inspirational retreat for Varro’s literary activities (studia) into a cesspool of vice. See McGinn (2004: 18): ‘Other terms for lower-class lodging, such as deversorium and meritorium, were sometimes explicitly associated with the practice of prostitution, that is, as words for brothels … See Cic. Phil. 2.104–05, where the former villa of Varro becomes a libidinum deversorium, and thus the haunt of both male and female prostitutes, as well as more respectable debauchees’. For the meaning of deversorium = ‘lodging house that provided a place where travellers could have a meal, a drink, and a bed for the night’, see Holleran (2012: 140–41).

§ 105: Animal House: The Sequel

Cicero continues to lambast Antony for defiling Varro’s domicile of learning, contrasting Varro’s intellectual achievements across all areas of culture with Antony’s obscene indulgence in orgies of booze and sex. Towards the end of the paragraph, he moves on to rake Antony over the coals for his asocial behaviour towards representatives of local communities who came to greet him (as was expected of them when a Roman consul happened to stay in the vicinity).

Quae in illa villa antea dicebantur, quae cogitabantur, quae litteris mandabantur! iura populi Romani, monumenta maiorum, omnis sapientiae ratio omnisque doctrinae: Cicero hails Varro’s intellectual achievements in two tricola. First, we get a tricolon of generic verbs (reinforced by the triple anaphora of quae), referring to speech (dicebantur), thought (cogitabantur), and writing (litteris mandabantur). Then comes a tricolon of noun phrases in apposition, referring more specifically to a cross-section of Varro’s extensive literary oeuvre: fifteen books on law the de Iure Civili (iura populi Romani); a range of antiquarian writings, including his Antiquitates Rerum Humanarum et Divinarum in 41 books (monumenta maiorum); and the recently completed three books de Forma Philosophiae (though omnis sapientiae ratio omnisque doctrina may be a generalizing appreciation of Varro’s comprehensive learning).

omnis sapientiae ratio omnisque doctrinae: ‘systematic comprehension (ratio) of every kind of wisdom (omnis sapientiae) and every kind of learning (omnis doctrinae)’; the -que after omnis links the two genitive phrases dependent on ratio.

at vero te inquilino — non enim domino — personabant omnia vocibus ebriorum, natabant pavimenta vino, madebant parietes [vino], ingenui pueri cum meritoriis, scorta inter matres familias versabantur: by contrast to the lofty intellectual pursuits of Varro, with Antony as lodger the house has become a den of iniquity. Note the strongly adversative particle at, followed by the consensus-asserting particle vero. We first get an asyndetic tricolon of clauses with the verbs in front position (personabant, natabant, madebant) that sketch out the impact of Antony’s inebriated entourage on the domestic spaces and the architecture — the visitors make an infernal din and slop wine everywhere — before Cicero goes on to provide details of the debaucheries that allegedly took place: in an appalling eradication of social distinctions, free-born boys (ingenui pueri) consort with toy-boys for hire (cum meritoriis), whores from street-corners (scorta) with matrons (matres familias). We’re hardly going to take Cicero’s fanciful description at face value, but cf. Edwards (1993: 188): ‘The after-dinner entertainers and the beautiful slave boys who serve the food and wine are often represented as providers of sexual gratification. This was … a costly pleasure’.

te inquilino: a nominal ablative absolute consisting of a personal pronoun (te) and a noun (inquilino) with no verb. Cicero keeps rubbing it in that Antony, who would have very much liked to be the dominus of the house, failed in his attempt at confiscation.

non enim domino [dicam]: Cicero adds a brief gloss on his use of inquilino (‘lodger’): ‘because (enim: the particle is explanatory) I won’t say “domino”’ (‘master’).

Casino salutatum veniebant, Aquino, Interamna: admissus est nemo: Casino, Aquino, and Interamna are ablatives of origin: ‘people came from…’. Aquinum was located seven miles west, Interamna six miles south of Casinum.

salutatum: a supine expressing purpose: ‘to pay their respects’.

iure id quidem [factum est]; in homine enim turpissimo obsolefiebant dignitatis insignia: Cicero mockingly approves: ‘this (id), at any rate (quidem), was done with good reason (iure)’ — and then gives the reason (another explanatory enim): ‘the marks of rank and distinction were disappearing in this utterly disgraceful human being’. dignitas refers to the (official) socio-political rank and standing of Antony, owed to his achievements and his office (he was, after all, consul at the time). Cicero argues that Antony’s moral turpitude has rendered any claim to special homage and respect obsolete — and that Antony acts accordingly.

§ 106: Antony Cocooned

After the drunken debaucheries at Varro’s villa, Antony made his way back to Rome, shut off from the world in his litter. For a high magistrate of Rome, whom everyone wants to meet and greet, travelling behind closed curtains was in principle a violation of socio-political etiquette, not least since it humiliated the inhabitants of the townships located en route who were keen to see (and curry favour with) the representative of Roman power. There may of course have been perfectly good reasons for an official not to interact with the local population, such as the need for speed or ill health, but a closed litter also reminded people of a funeral procession with the corpse shielded from sight — and this is the association Cicero activates for invective purposes here. Commentators refer to a story attributed to Gaius Gracchus found in Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae 10.3.5, to illustrate the point about travel habits and the expectations and dynamics that informed face-to-face encounters between Roman magistrates and locals:66

Item Gracchus alio in loco ita dicit: ‘Quanta libido quantaque intemperantia sit hominum adulescentium, unum exemplum vobis ostendam. his annis paucis ex Asia missus est qui per id tempus magistratum non ceperat, homo adulescens pro legato. is in lectica ferebatur. ei obviam bubulcus de plebe Venusina advenit et per iocum, cum ignoraret qui ferretur, rogavit num mortuum ferrent. ubi id audivit, lecticam iussit deponi, struppis, quibus lectica deligata erat, usque adeo verberari iussit, dum animam efflavit.’

[Gracchus also in another place speaks as follows: ‘I will give you a single example of the lawlessness of our young men, and of their entire lack of self-control. Within the last few years a young man who had not yet held a magisterial office was sent as an envoy from Asia. He was carried in a litter. A herdsman, one of the peasants of Venusia, met him, and not knowing whom they were bearing, asked in jest if they were carrying a corpse. Upon hearing this, the young man ordered that the litter be set down and that the peasant be beaten to death with the thongs by which it was fastened.’]

Cum inde Romam proficiscens ad Aquinum accederet, obviam ei processit, ut est frequens municipium, magna sane multitudo: Cicero now traces Antony’s return journey back to Rome up the via Latina — and how he treated the representatives of the townships (municipia: see below) that he encountered on the way. obviam is here construed with the dative: a large number of the inhabitants of Aquinum (magna sane multitudo — placed last not least to sharpen the adversative at iste at the start of the following sentence) came forth (processit) ‘to meet him’ (obviam ei).

Romam proficiscens: proficiscor with the straight accusative (as here) means ‘to depart for a place, with the intent of entering it’, in contrast to profisciscor + ad + accusative, which means ‘to depart for a place, without the intent of entering it’.

municipium: in republican times, the status of municipium was given to ‘a [pre-existing] self-governing community in Italy (originally, one that accepted ciuitas sine suffragio [= citizenship without voting rights] in return for the performance of certain duties, munia)’ (OLD s.v.). After the Social War (91–89 BCE), the inhabitants of all Italian municipia become full Roman citizens, with equal voting rights. See further Adkins and Adkins (2014: 142): ‘Coloniae … were new settlements of colonies established by the state to form a self-administering community, often with a strategic defensive function. Most colonies were founded on state-owned land, but sometimes they were established on land belonging to a municipium — an existing town incorporated into the Roman state, whose inhabitants might or might not be Roman citizens. … During the republic the title municipium (pl. municipia) was given to existing Italian towns, the inhabitants of which had been granted Roman citizenship without voting rights. These towns had a certain amount of independence, but foreign affairs came under the control of Roman magistrates. … After voting rights were conferred on all Italian communities in the early 1st century BC, citizens of municipia became full Roman citizens’. Also Rosenstein (2012: 82–93).

at iste operta lectica latus per oppidum est ut mortuus: the verb of the sentence is latus … est (third person singular perfect indicative passive from fero, ferre, tuli, latum — ‘to carry’). operta lectica is ablative: ‘in a closed litter’.

ut mortuus: corpses were carried to the funeral in closed litters — Antony, Cicero suggests, behaved as if he were dead.

stulte Aquinates [fecerunt]: sed tamen in via [Latina] habitabant: The Aquinates behaved foolishly, says Cicero — as they should have known what to expect; but at least there is a ready explanation for their futile efforts to greet Antony with the respect ordinarily owed to a Roman magistrate: their town is located right on the road (in via). The same excuse does not apply to the inhabitants of Anagna. See the following sentence.

quid Anagnini [fecerunt]? qui cum essent devii, descenderunt ut istum, tamquam si esset consul, salutarent: qui is a connecting relative (= ei), the subject of the adversative cum-clause (‘Even though they live in remote parts…’)

ut istum … salutarent: a purpose clause.

tamquam si esset consul: the tamquam-si-clause indicates the reason why the inhabitants of Anagna behaved the way they did. And of course Antony was a consul. But Cicero implies that, far from being an obvious fact, Antony being a consul is a mistaken assumption. He thus launches another attack on Rome’s constitutional realities. In his world, political identities get redefined according to his personal understanding of civic ethics: in his world, Antony does not fulfill the requisite criteria for being a consul; he is therefore a consul in name only, an impostor to be disregarded or even killed, rather than a ‘genuine’ magistrate of the Roman people. The searching examination of what key terms of Roman political culture such as ‘consul’ mean and what responsibilities and obligations they confer on the office-holder and to redefine them in terms of a civic ethics is a hallmark of Cicero’s speeches and philosophical writings: it is a Greek-inspired, philosophical approach to political discourse — and has the power to challenge fundamental certainties built into the Roman sense of reality.

See also ad Atticum 14.6.2 = 360 SB, where Cicero complained about the incongruity that the tyrannicides are praised to the skies, while the tyrant’s actions are defended: sed vides consules, vides reliquos magistratus, si isti magistratus, vides languorem bonorum (‘But you see our Consuls and the rest of our magistrates, if these people are magistrates, and the apathy of the honest men’). This captures the dilemma and stalemate that Cicero struggled with: all the magistrates held their offices because of Caesar and would therefore saw off the branches on which they were sitting if they undid Caesar’s arrangements, whereas the liberators (the boni) believed that killing Caesar would in and of itself suffice to restore the senatorial commonwealth.

incredibile dictu + sed cum vinus + inter omnis constabat neminem esse resalutatum, praesertim cum duos secum Anagninos haberet, Mustelam et Laconem, quorum alter gladiorum est princeps, alter [princeps] poculorum: incredibile dictu is a self-contained parenthetical phrase, consisting of adjective + ablative supine of dico: ‘incredible as it is to say so’; the main verb is the impersonal constabat, which governs an indirect statement with neminem as subject accusative and esse resalutatum as verb. The force of praesertim cum is adversative: despite the fact that / even though.

+ sed cum vinus +: this part of the manuscript tradition is so corrupt that modern editors have struggled to come up with a truly compelling restitution and many leave the words between so-called cruces (= corrupt beyond plausible restoration). The most recent proposal comes from Dyck (2017: 313): ‘I suspect that cum is intrusive from the preceding or following line and that uinus conceals ad unum: “incredible to say, but all to a man agreed that no one returned their greeting…”. ad may have dropped out following sed’. If that does not convince you, just ignore the muddle between the cruces.

Mustelam et Laconem: we know from a letter to Atticus (16.11.3 = 420 SB) that Cicero, in the draft of Philippic 2 he sent to Atticus, stopped the sentence after haberet. Atticus enquired about the identity of the two chaps from Anagnia, to which Cicero responded by supplying their names and identity tags: ‘Anagnini’ sunt Mustela taxiarchês et Laco qui plurimum bibit (‘The “men of Anagnia” are Mustela, the taxiarch, and Laco, the champion toper’). The revised version of the speech contains this material, suitably adjusted: while Cicero litters his letters to Atticus (‘Mr. Greek’) with Greek words (like taxiarchês), he keeps foreign terms out of his speeches. princeps gladiorum is a humorous and humiliating translation of taxiarches, especially when paired with princeps poculorum. Mustela also appears elsewhere as one of Antony’s henchmen: see Phil. 5.18, 8.26, and 12.14. Mustela is also the Latin term for ‘weasel’, an animal associated in Latin folklore with brides (indeed Mustela could also be a woman’s name): see Bettini (2000). Perhaps, then, the two chaps are designed to recall the two principal sins of Antony from the previous paragraph, i.e. lechery and boozing (in his company even someone called Laco, ‘Spartan’, gets addicted to the bottle).

§ 107: Symbolic Strutting after Caesar

The paragraph falls into two halves: in the first (Quid ego … cliens esse), Cicero continues to belabour the theme of Antony’s maltreatment of local communities in Italy that happened to pique his anger, though the praeteritio-mode he now adopts suggests that he is starting to run out of steam. Halfway through, his focus turns back to Rome (interea dum tu abes … ut dissimilis esset sui), and he homes in on an event that happened in the capital during Antony’s absence: Dolabella’s destruction of the altar to Caesar erected by Amatius. The thematic link between the two halves consists in the invocation of the persons and policies that support Cicero’s republican politics.

Roman aristocrats functioned as patrons of local communities both in Italy and beyond. The patronage system tied patrons and clients together in a reciprocal, if hierarchical economy: ‘Patrons were expected to provide a range of services: To mediate when dissension broke out, to defend the interests of the town before Senate and magistrates, to provide significant material benefactions. Some were involved in the foundation of the community; others were coopted because they owned significant estates in the territory of the client. In return, patrons expected their clients to support them at elections, to enhance their prestige, to serve as a base for recruiting soldiers and to provide bodyguard in emergencies’ (Nicols 2014: 70). These arrangements became a highly sensitive issue in the wake of Caesar’s assassination. Some evidence suggests that one of the honours proposed to Caesar before his death was the title of patron (prostates) of the City and of the whole Empire (Cassius Dio 44.48.1–2 with Nicols 2014: 65–66), which would have highlighted his autocratic monopolization of oligarchic structures of power. After the Ides of March, others vied for similar innovative nomenclature to validate their position and prestige (see e.g. Phil. 6.12). Conversely, local communities faced the tough political choice whether to side with the liberators or leading Caesarians, in the full knowledge that request for support and patronage extended to one party would alienate others, with potentially dire repercussions. Still, many Italian townships seem to have greeted the assassination of Caesar with delight — or so Cicero suggests, in a letter to Atticus (Att. 14.6.2 = 360 SB; 12 April 44):

exsultant laetitia in municipiis. dici enim non potest quanto opere gaudeant, ut ad me concurrant, ut audire cupiant mea verba de re <publica>.

[In the country towns they are jumping for joy. I cannot tell you how delighted they are, how they flock to me, how eager they are to hear what I have to say on the state of the country.]

Cicero’s report should obviously be taken with a grain of salt: it is not surprising that those local notables who interacted with him expressed unalloyed enthusiasm. Still, the dominant factions among the Sidicini and the inhabitants of Puteoli clearly sympathized with the liberators and sought out Cassius and the two Bruti as patrons, thereby coming into the (verbal) firing line of Antony.

Meanwhile, in Rome, the jostling for position in a post-Caesarian world manifested itself not least in tussles over his post-mortem status. The person who took the lead in pushing the envelope here is the curious figure of Amatius, a.k.a. as Pseudo-Marius, Herophilus (a Greek speaking name), or Chamates.67 He claimed descent from C. Marius, Sulla’s opponent and kinsman of Caesar, and took the lead in fomenting religious worship of the dead (but, he argued, deified) dictator, around a column and an altar erected on the site of Caesar’s funeral pyre (Koortbojian 2013: 26–27). We can glean the considerable degree of popularity he and his cultic veneration of divus Iulius started to command from the fact that Antony had him executed shortly before his departure for Southern Italy. This pleased the republicans and Cicero just as much as it was designed to shore up Antony’s position among the Caesarians through the elimination of a rival to the prestige and affection of the people of Rome and Caesar’s veterans. Yet he left the altar and the column — as a monument to Caesar’s memory — intact, and during his sojourn away from Rome Dolabella deemed their destruction a useful symbolic gesture to enhance his own standing with the republicans (and thereby also to increase his leverage with his fellow consul Antony). Cicero already recalled this sequence of events at Philippic 1.5. Elsewhere in the speech he condemns any attempt to conceive of Caesar as a deified human to be honoured with cultic worship in the strongest possible terms — and lambasts Antony for a change of tack, triggered by the significant appeal (exploited to the utmost by Caesar Octavianus) the notion of divine Caesar commanded among the populace and the veterans. If in April Antony had pseudo-Marius executed, in early September he himself pushed through a decree that added an extra day to every supplicatio (‘thanksgiving for public successes’) dedicated to offerings to the deified Caesar.

Cicero’s strictures against the idea that Caesar had become a god presuppose the strict divide between the human and the divine within Rome’s civic religion. Attempts at crossing the boundary, in whatever form, while feasible in theory (there existed, in principle, no religious objections to humans becoming gods — in literary texts, it happened all the time), were politically incorrect moves in the field of power, a potential threat to the republican tradition of senatorial government:68 elevating one individual, albeit post mortem, to the status of a god violated fundamental principles of oligarchic equality. Still, already long before Caesar outstanding aristocrats found it tempting to explore the boundary between human and divine (for instance by claiming a special relationship with a supernatural being) for reasons of self-promotion. Inspiration came from the Greek East, in both theory and practice. Poets and other litterateurs domesticated a variety of literary genres that explored different forms of divinity and deification; in Ennius’ oeuvre, for instance, apotheosis (of Romulus in the Annals), Pythagorean metempsychosis (the reincarnation of Homer in Ennius himself), and Euhemerism all find an airing — as well as (in the Scipio) the idea of a living (or recently deceased) Roman noble ascending to the stars.

In the context of imperial expansion, the Romans also encountered cults that bestowed religious honours upon living rulers — a practice that had started to proliferate in the wake of Alexander the Great.69 The perceived divinity of (royal) power had little to do with the proclivity of eastern subjects to emote irrationally about their kings, as some ancient sources, including Cicero, imply. Rather the Hellenistic ruler cult constituted an ideological form and social practice by which kings justified their reign and cities negotiated their existence within the domineering presence of ‘a supra-poliadic power’.70 Given that the award of cultic honours to (potential) benefactors was part and parcel of city diplomacy, it is hardly surprising that Romans, too, received religious adulation.

The civil conflicts of the late republic accelerated the development of novel forms of religious self-promotion. The Gracchi claimed religious prerogatives and special divine favours for their careers and policies, and they received posthumous honours—as did Marius and Gratidianus.71 Matters came to a head with Sulla. His claim to permanent felicitas was incompatible with fundamental tenets of Rome’s civic religion since it signalled a privileged and personal relationship with the gods.72 In his autobiography, Sulla suggested that he could sidestep the protocols of Roman religio, such as collective negotiation of the meaning of divine signs; statements such as that he liked to converse in private with a daimon by night made a mockery of this principle.73 His rise to the dictatorship demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that a darling of the gods did not fit into the political culture of the republic. At the same time, his maverick self-promotion as the recipient of special supernatural support raised the stakes in the game of competitive emulation: any aristocrat who did not lay claim to similar privileges would implicitly concede that he was only second best. Others followed in pushing the boundaries of the acceptable, not least Caesar, who, in the funeral oration for his aunt, proclaimed descent from gods and kings.74 Pompey, too, promoted himself as enjoying special divine favours, deploying what had long been part of strategic diplomacy in the East as a political argument at Rome.75 And Cicero, in particular in his speeches against Catiline and the epic poem he wrote about his consulship (the de Consulatu Suo) also asserted privileged relations with the supernatural sphere.

Quid ego illas istius minas contumeliasque commemorem quibus invectus est in Sidicinos, vexavit Puteolanos, quod C. Cassium et Brutos patronos adoptassent?: Cicero launches into another praeteritio cast in the form of a rhetorical question. The main verb is commemorem (in the ‘deliberative’ subjunctive), followed by a bipartite relative clause (invectus est, vexavit), in asyndetic sequence introduced by quibus. The sentence finishes with a causal quod-clause, with a syncopated third person plural pluperfect subjunctive active (adopta|vi|ssent) as verb. Causal sentences with quod (quia, quoniam, quando) take the indicative in direct discourse, but the subjunctive in indirect discourse, whether explicit or — as here — implied: ‘because [so Antony said] they had adopted…’: see Gildersleeve and Lodge 349–50.

illas istius minas contumeliasque: the two accusative objects (linked by -que), the demonstrative adjective illas and the demonstrative pronoun istius form a phonetically well-balanced unit, with touches of alliteration (il-, is-), homoioteleuton (-las, -nas, -lias), and sound-play (minas ~ -melias). The disdain built into istius stands out more prominently against a background of three words ending in -as.

Sidicinos: the Sidicini inhabited territory along the Liri River around their capital Teanum Sidicinum (modern day Teano).

Puteolanos: the Puteolani were located at the northern end of the bay of Naples. Their capital was Puteoli (modern day Pozzuoli).

C. Cassium et Brutos: Gaius Cassius and Marcus and Decimus Brutus (note that Brutos is in the plural) were the three leading figures among the assassins of Caesar.

magno quidem studio, iudicio, benevolentia, caritate [C. Cassium et Brutos patronos adoptaverunt], non, ut te et Basilum, vi et armis, et alios vestri similis quos clientis nemo habere velit, non modo illorum cliens esse: to understand the syntax here, it is necessary to import the verb and the accusative object from the previous sentence. Cicero compares and contrasts the reasons why the Sidicini and the people of Puteoli adopted Cassius and the Bruti as their patrons (detailed in four causal ablatives in asyndetic sequence at the beginning of the sentence) with the reason why other, unnamed communities ‘preferred’ Antony and Basilus: vi et armis — as a result of force of arms. He concludes the sentence by turning Antony and Basilus into representatives of a larger ilk (et alios vestri similis), which no one wishes to have as clients, let alone as patrons.

magno quidem studio, iudicio, benevolentia, caritate: ‘out of great devotion, esteem (for this sense of iudicium, see OLD s.v. 10), goodwill, and affection’: the reason for this outpour of positive emotion is the fact that Cassius and the two Bruti freed the commonwealth from tyranny. iudicium, which emphasizes considered judgement and free decision-making, offers a sharp contrast to the use of physical force by Antony and his ilk.

Basilum: the reference is to M. Satrius, who acquired the cognomen Basilus when he was adopted by his maternal uncle L. Minucius Basilus; according to Cicero, On Duties (de Officiis) 3.74, he became a patron of the Picenian and Sabine territory (patronum agri Piceni et Sabini), which Cicero considered a disgrace (o turpem notam temporum illorum), apparently by employing the same means as Antony to get what he wanted — the threat of physical violence.

alios vestri similis: similis is accusative plural agreeing with alios (= similes). The genitive vestri, which depends on similis, refers back to Antony and Basilus: ‘others similar to you (pl.).

quos clientis nemo habere velit, non modo illorum cliens esse: ‘whom no-one wishes to have as clients (clientis is accusative plural = clientes), let alone be a client of theirs’. With non modo (‘not to speak of, let alone’: OLD s.v. 2b; here ‘curiously used for nedum’: Denniston (1926: 165), Cicero partly falls out of the syntax of the relative clause introduced by quos, continuing with the demonstrative pronoun illorum (rather than a second relative pronoun), but carrying over subject (nemo) and verb (velit): quos clientis nemo habere velit [et quorum] cliens (nemo) esse (velit). He lands a double punch, not just disqualifying Antony as a desirable patronus, but also hitting below the belt by haughtily assessing (and dismissing) him as a potential cliens.

interea dum tu abes, qui dies ille collegae tuo fuit, cum illud quod venerari solebas bustum in foro evertit!: dum + present indicative (here abes) captures an on-going situation in the course of which a single event occurs, quite irrespective of the tense of the main verb (here the perfect fuit): OLD s.v. dum 3b: ‘during the time that’, ‘while’. Retaining the present tense in English would sound weird, but a noun phrase could do the trick: ‘Meanwhile, during your absence, what a day that was for your colleague, when…’

illud … bustum: illud agrees with bustum, which is the antecedent of the relative pronoun quod and the accusative object of evertit. The monument that Amatius and his followers erected seems to have consisted of a column made of Numidian marble inscribed with PARENTI PATRIAE (‘To the Father of the Country’) (see Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 85) and an altar (ara) for sacrifices (Cic. Fam. 11.2.2 = 329 SB). Cicero’s consistent reference to the monument as a bustum (which means ‘funeral pyre’ or ‘tomb’) in his Philippics (see already Phil. 1.30) is therefore polemical: it was designed to bring to mind the botched funeral and the half-burnt corpse (see §§ 90–91) and emphasize Caesar’s mortality: the dictator is dead and done, rather than dead and deified.

qua re tibi nuntiata, ut constabat inter eos qui una fuerunt, concidisti: Cicero lines up his unanimous eyewitnesses first (ut constabat … fuerunt) before specifying what they saw: that Antony collapsed upon hearing the news. Why he should do so is a puzzle: with his execution of pseudo-Marius, he had done his bit to suppress the cultic worship of Caesar. The news that Dolabella had taken a further step will have been unwelcome, but not sufficiently so to justify a collapse on the spot. Perhaps Cicero simply hams up Antony’s mental instability — or he wishes to suggest that Antony is emotionally invested in the veneration of a dead person. Philippic 2, after all, postdates Antony’s endorsement of Caesar’s deification on 1 September, and Cicero wouldn’t have thought twice of falsely superimposing the implications of recent developments onto the events in spring if this served his invective purpose.

qua re tibi nuntiata: qua is a connecting relative (= et ea) modifying re; the whole phrase is an ablative absolute.

quid evenerit postea nescio — metum credo valuisse et arma; collegam quidem de caelo detraxisti effecistique non tu quidem etiam nunc ut similis tui [esset], sed certe [effecisti] ut dissimilis esset sui: the previous sentence suggests radical differences between Antony and Dolabella, even though Cicero knew all too well that they were very much in cahoots during the period in question. He now feigns ignorance, before speculating about the reason why Dolabella, after trying to increase his republican credentials with the destruction of the place of Caesar’s worship, continued to collaborate closely with Antony. As a result, Dolabella, shortly after elevating himself to the stars (or being praised to the sky by people like Cicero: see Fam. 9.14 = 326 SB and Att. 14.15–16 = 369–370 SB), comes back down to earth in terms of republican esteem, and while he is not quite as bad as Antony, his close association with Antony means that he is no longer his old self.

quid evenerit postea nescio: nescio governs an indirect question (quid … postea), hence the (perfect) subjunctive evenerit.

metum credo valuisse et arma: credo governs an indirect statement with metum and arma — in husteron proteron: the threat of physical violence (arma) induces fear (metum) — as subject accusatives and valuisse as infinitive. As his correspondence shows, Cicero knows that the reasons he gives here are false: Antony won Dolabella over by paying off his debts with public money. See Att. 14.18 = 373 SB and 16.15.1 = 426 SB.

effecistique non tu quidem etiam nunc ut similis tui [esset], sed certe [effecisti] ut dissimilis esset sui: and (while) you indeed (tu quidem) did not achieve even now (etiam nunc) that he became like you (tui is the genitive of the personal pronoun in the second person singular depending on similis), you certainly (certe) did manage that he became unlike himself (sui is the genitive of the personal pronoun in the third person singular depending on dissimilis). Cicero is trying to grade political villainy, suggesting that Antony has a corrupting influence on someone of sound moral and political fibre. He perverts Dolabella’s true identity — though falls short of turning him into a spitting image of himself.

§ 108: Swords Galore, or: Antony’s Return to Rome

Around 20 May 44 BCE, Antony returned to Rome — together with several thousand veterans settled at Casilinum and Calatia (Appian, Bellum Civile 3.5 mentions 6,000), whom he had recruited by means of evocatio (‘recall into active service’) in the course of his journey through Southern Italy. From then on, he used this army as a bodyguard and to intimidate senate and people. At Philippic 5.17–20, Cicero gives an extensive account of how the presence of Antony’s troops shaped events in September 44 (the imaginary context of Philippic 2). The sections of greatest relevance to our passage are 17–18:

An illa non gravissimis ignominiis monumentisque huius ordinis ad posteritatis memoriam sunt notanda, quod unus M. Antonius in hac urbe post conditam urbem palam secum habuerit armatos? quod neque reges nostri fecerunt neque ii, qui regibus exactis regnum occupare voluerunt. Cinnam memini, vidi Sullam, modo Caesarem; hi enim tres post civitatem a L. Bruto liberatam plus potuerunt quam universa res publica. non possum adfirmare nullis telis eos stipatos fuisse, hoc dico: nec multis et occultis. at hanc pestem agmen armatorum sequebatur; Cassius, Mustela, Tiro, gladios ostentantes sui similes greges ducebant per forum; certum agminis locum tenebant barbari sagittarii. cum autem erat ventum ad aedem Concordiae, gradus conplebantur, lecticae conlocabantur, non quo ille scuta occulta esse vellet, sed ne familiares, si scuta ipsi ferrent, laborarent. illud vero taeterrimum non modo aspectu, sed etiam auditu, in cella Concordiae conlocari armatos, latrones, sicarios, de templo carcerem fieri, opertis valvis Concordiae, cum inter subsellia senatus versarentur latrones, patres conscriptos sententias dicere.

[As a record for posterity, must we not brand with a memorial of the most severe censure by this order that in this city, since its foundation, only Mark Antony has openly kept an armed guard at his side! Neither our kings nor those who after the expulsion of the kings tried to seize the kingship ever did this. I remember Cinna, I saw Sulla, recently Caesar. These three possessed more power than the entire commonwealth since Lucius Brutus liberated the community. I cannot affirm that they were surrounded by no weapons, but this I do affirm: not by many, and they were concealed. By contrast, an armed column attended this pest. Cassius, Mustela, Tiro, brandishing their swords, led gangs like themselves through the forum. Barbarian archers had their assigned place in the column. When they reached the Temple of Concord, the steps were packed, the litters were set down — not that he wanted the shields to be hidden, but to save his friends the effort of carrying them. The most loathsome thing of all, not only to see, but even to hear of is that armed men, bandits, cutthroats were stationed in the shrine of Concord. The temple became a prison. The doors of Concord were closed, and members of the senate expressed their views while bandits were moving about amid the benches.]

Cicero luxuriates in the chaos Antony allegedly caused — and his oratory has had a powerful impact on how later ages (including ours) have viewed his actions. It is therefore salutary to try to recover Antony’s own view, as attempted by Sumi (2005: 132):

Antonius himself no doubt would have advertised his return differently. He easily could have called himself Rome’s savior and enumerated all the reasons to justify such an appellation. We know that he did so on two other occasions. … after the senate meeting in the Temple of Tellus, Antonius appeared before a contio, wearing an armored breastplate beneath his tunic, which he showed to the crowd as an indication of the peril he faced on behalf of the Republic (App. BC 2.130.543). At a later contio, he called himself guardian of the city (custos urbis) and described his efforts to protect Rome [Phil. 3.27; 5.21]. He could have explained his recruitment of soldiers and subsequent march on Rome in the same way: he was returning to defend the Roman people, not enslave them. D. Brutus was in Gaul mustering forces; C. Trebonius was on his way to Asia where he soon would have access to enormous resources and manpower; M. Brutus and Cassius had fled from Rome but were still in Italy — and who could say whether they would attempt to regain their dignitas through force of arms? It appeared that everyone had an army except the consul who was obligated to defend the state.

Qui vero inde reditus Romam [erat], quae perturbatio [erat] totius urbis!: After his brief glance at Dolabella, Cicero returns to his account of Antony’s actions in May 44, focusing on his return to Rome with two exclamations. qui and quae are pronominal interrogative adjectives, modifying, respectively, reditus and perturbatio; the discourse particle vero asserts the supposedly acknowledged factual basis of Cicero’s report; and inde has a temporal sense (‘next’, ‘then’): ‘What a return was there then to Rome! What upheaval of the entire city!’ Essentially, Cicero ‘describes Antonius’ return with highly charged and colorful language that all but declares the consul an enemy of the state (hostis)’ (Sumi 2005: 132).

Romam: an accusative of place to which (without ad because Rome is a city). The verb of movement is implied in the noun reditus: Pinkster (2015: 1043).

memineramus Cinnam nimis potentem, Sullam postea dominantem, modo Caesarem regnantem videramus: Cinna, Sulla, and Caesar are a notorious trio of late-republican strongmen who resorted to violent means in the pursuit of (excessive — or, in Caesar’s case, absolute) power. Cicero uses them elsewhere in the Philippic corpus as foils for Antony: see e.g. Phil. 5.17 (cited above), 8.7 (cited below), 11.1, 13.1–2, 14.23. The sentence sports an apparent symmetry, with the two verbs memineramus and videramus emphatically placed at the beginning and the end and three accusative objects (Cinnam, Sullam, Caesarem). Each potentate comes with an attribute, which together constitute a climactic sequence: we move from an adjective (potentem) to two participles (dominantem, regnantem) that express two highly objectionable modes of wielding power, with regnare topping dominari by a tick in loathsomeness since it implies a greater degree of permanence. Once we reach modo, however, it becomes apparent that the symmetry breaks down and thereby further sharpens the climax: whereas nimis and postea go with potentem and dominantem, modo goes with videramus — and what in some ways looks like (and is) a tricolon breaks apart into two unequal halves: Cinna and Sulla are distant memories (and comparatively harmless forerunners) when set against the much more recent visual impact of Caesar’s obnoxious reign.

The potentia of Cinna, the dominatio of Sulla, and the regnum of Caesar are three illegitimate forms of power, which Cicero adduces throughout the corpus of Philippics for his scaremongering about Antony. In his endeavour to push a reluctant senate into an armed confrontation with Antony, he casts the conflict as a new chapter in the sequence of civil wars that defined late-republican politics. Always, Antony emerges as worse than his predecessors — including Caesar. Apart from 5.17 (cited above), see in particular Philippic 8.7–8, delivered on 4 February 43, when the dice had been cast and Cicero constructs the following history of civil conflict during his lifetime:

Utrum hoc bellum non est, an etiam tantum bellum quantum numquam fuit? ceteris enim bellis maximeque civilibus contentionem rei publicae causa faciebat: Sulla cum Sulpicio de iure legum, quas per vim latas esse dicebat; Cinna cum Octavio de novorum civium suffragiis; rursus cum Mario et Carbone Sulla, ne dominarentur indigni et ut clarissimorum hominum crudelissimam puniretur necem. horum omnium bellorum causae ex rei publicae contentione natae sunt. de proximo bello civili non libet dicere: ignoro causam, detestor exitum. hoc bellum quintum civile geritur — atque omnia in nostram aetatem inciderunt — , primum non modo non in dissensione et discordia civium, sed in maxima consensione incredibilique concordia.

[Is this not a war, or rather a war such as has never been before? In other wars, and especially in civil wars, some political question gave rise to the quarrel. Sulla clashed with Sulpicius on the validity of the laws which Sulla asserted had been carried by violence; Cinna with Octavius on the votes of the new citizens; Sulla again with Marius and Carbo over the tyranny of the unworthy, and to punish the most savage slaughter of eminent men. The causes of all these wars originated from a political quarrel. Of the last civil war I do not care to speak: I do not know its cause; I detest its outcome. This is the fifth civil war that is being waged — and all have fallen on our own times — the first that has arisen, not amid civic variance and discord, but amid the utmost unison and marvellous concord.]

Cicero thus lists the following five clashes: (i) Sulla v. Sulpicius; (ii) Cinna v. Octavius; (iii) Sulla v. Marius and Carbo; (iv) Caesar v. Pompey; (v) Everyone v. Antony. He characterizes the first three as understandable, if deplorable outbreaks of violence over legitimate political differences. He passes over the fourth civil war, unleashed by Caesar, in silence because he is unable to identify a valid cause and loathes the outcome. The fifth of the civil wars is special in a different sense: there is no dividing line to speak of — it is Antony against everyone else.

memineramus: first person plural pluperfect indicative active. memini (like coepi, odi, and novi) is a verb used only in the perfect system. The perfect tense has a present sense (memini: I remember) and the pluperfect a perfect sense (memineram: I remembered).

Cinnam nimis potentem: Cinna, an ally of Marius, bossed Rome from 87–84 BCE after Marius’ death.

Sullam postea dominantem: Sulla returned from the war against Mithridates in 83 BCE and took charge of Rome until 79 BCE, when he resigned his dictatorship.

erant fortasse gladii, sed absconditi nec ita multi: ista vero quae et quanta barbaria est!: the sentence contrasts the behaviour of earlier strongmen with that of Antony, trying to bring out — also at the level of style — by how much matters deteriorated with the latter. The verbs (the imperfect erant and the present est) are strategically placed at the beginning and end to underscore the historical trajectory from bad to worse. Cicero further downplays past outrage with the adverbial hedge fortasse and instantly qualifies gladii with two provisos, trailing in predicative position (sed absconditi nec ita multi). Contrast the sharp demonstrative pronoun ista, which modifies barbaria (note the emphatic hyperbaton) and gets reinforced by the two interrogative adjectives quae and quanta, which, respectively underscore quality and quantity in an exclamation that, thematically and grammatically, recalls the opening sentence of the paragraph: ‘What and how great a barbarity this is!’ barbaria is an abstract concept that carries associations to do with geography and ethnicity as well as political ethics: it brings to mind foreign, uncivilized tribes that inhabit the wilderness at the periphery of Greco-Roman culture, are inherently savage and cruel, and (with particular reference to the East) practise despicable forms of political organization (such as autocracy). Antony had archers from Ituraea (the Greek name of a region in the Levant) in his entourage, who made him look ‘like an oriental king’ (Lacey (1986: 236); cf. Mayor (1861: 149): ‘But what an Asiatic despotism is this of yours!’). Put differently, Cicero here cast the previous tyrants in a tolerable light as far as the presence of armed bodyguards in the city of Rome was concerned. All three tried to keep the number of weapons under control and their presence out of sight. By contrast, he makes Antony’s return resemble a barbarian invasion, both in the kind and the quantity of armed troops flooding into the city. This is in line with insults found elsewhere in the Philippic corpus, where Antony routinely outdoes all other political monsters: at Phil. 3.9–11, for instance, he is more tyrannical than Tarquinius Superbus and at Phil. 14.9 he is worse than Hannibal.

agmine quadrato cum gladiis sequuntur, scutorum lecticas portari videmus: two main clauses in asyndetic sequence; the subject of the first is implied in sequuntur: ‘Antony’s men followed with their swords drawn, in battle-order; we saw litters filled with shields being carried along’. The phrase agmine quadrato (an ablative absolute) designates a marching formation in which the army has taken the baggage into the middle for protection against attacks from all sides and is ready for battle at any moment. Cicero uses the same phrase with reference to the meeting of the senate on 19 September, at which Antony delivered the speech to which Cicero’s Philippic 2 is a response (5.20): agmine quadrato in aedem Concordiae venit atque in me absentem orationem ex ore impurissimo evomuit. quod die, si per amicos mihi cupienti in senatum venire licuisset, caedis initium fecisset a me (‘he entered the Temple of Concord with his bodyguard in battle formation and vomited from that foulest of mouths a speech against me in my absence. If my friends had allowed me to come to the senate on that day as I wished, he would have started his slaughter with me’).76

scutorum lecticas: litters full of shields: ‘The genitive is akin to that after verbs of filling, cf. cadus vini, “a cask (full of) wine”’ (Allcroft 1901: 117). The reference to shields complements the mention of swords: Antony’s troops are on the move, ready to attack or to defend themselves.

atque his quidem iam inveteratis, patres conscripti, consuetudine obduruimus: atque here has a slight adversative sense (OLD s.v. 9): ‘and yet’: yes, Antony outdoes anyone, but he is still part of a tradition. his … inveteratis is an ablative absolute: ‘with these things having become the norm now’, with the idea of repetition expressed by inveteratis continued with consuetudine: ‘we have become hardened by repeated experience’. With bitter resignation, Cicero diagnoses in himself and his senatorial peers (addressed directly) the weary acceptance of the abnormal (i.e. individual statesmen surrounding themselves with a private army, a military presence in the city of Rome, and the threat of violence as a factor in domestic politics) as the new normal.

Cicero invoked the idea that repeated exposure to brutality results in a loss of sensitivity (or even humanity) already in the peroration of his speech for Sextus Roscius, delivered at the very beginning of his oratorical career (Sext. Rosc. 154: nam cum omnibus horis aliquid atrociter fieri videmus aut audimus, etiam qui natura mitissimi sumus adsiduitate molestiarum sensum omnem humanitatis ex animis amittimus: ‘For when, every hour, we see or hear of an act of cruelty, even those of us who are by nature most merciful lose from our hearts, in this constant presence of trouble, all feeling of humanity’, perhaps reworking Lysias 6.50, but broadening the idea ‘from paradox to a universal and devastating vision’: Hutchinson (2005: 190–91).) See also Att. 13.2.1 = 297 SB: iam ad ista obduruimus et humanitatem omnem exuimus (‘But I am hardened now to such treatment and have cast off all sensibility’).

Kalendis Iuniis cum in senatum, ut erat constitutum, venire vellemus, metu perterriti repente diffugimus: this sentence follows on somewhat incongruously from the previous one. The contrast between the cum-clause, which presents constitutional business as usual, and the abnormal reaction of Cicero and other senators in the main clause is stark. Given that dealing with armed forces and the threat of violence has become a routine occurrence, one would have thought that the senators just shrug their shoulders and get on with their daily routine. In fact, the exact opposite is the case: panic-stricken, they know how to disperse on the spot. An emergency routine kicks in, which Cicero underscores stylistically. The cum-clause comes along in a boring plod of homoioteleuta (-is, -iis; cum, -tum, -tutum) and alliteration (ve-, ve-) capturing business as usual (‘another senate-meeting’) according to Rome’s constitutional arrangements; then a subtle shift in stylistic register occurs: the four words that constitute the main clause and conclude the sentence, each on its own and in combination, paint a dark picture of constitutional chaos.

Kalendis Iuniis: ablative of time (‘on the calends of June’).

metu perterriti: seemingly tautological, but metus is a quasi-legal term (see de Officiis 1.32 with Dyck 1996: 131) that serves to justify certain courses of action also in the eyes of the law: ‘alarmed by justified fear’ — though perterreo often carries nuances of comedy, melodrama, and hyperbole: the sense is one of sheer panic, with people frightened out of their wits.

diffugimus: the verb (‘we dispersed’ — a.k.a. ‘ran for our lives’) is, quite deliberately, as undignified as the participial phrase metu perterriti.

§ 109: Playing Fast and Loose with Caesar’s Legislation

Scholarly opinion on Caesar’s stature as a ‘statesman’ is divided (as opposed to his unanimously acknowledged genius as a military strategist and commander). Many feel that he did not have a (or any) viable vision for the Roman commonwealth beyond installing himself as quasi-omnipotent dictator. Be that as it may, he did initiate a significant programme of innovations and reforms across various cultural spheres (not least the calendar), including a slate of legislative measures. In the years 49–44 BCE a large number of laws were passed (proposed by different magistrates who of course did so with the dictator’s approval and encouragement) that ranged from the taxation of provinces to the award of citizenship to non-Roman communities to legislation dealing with Pompeian exiles to social and economic measures, such as land distributions.77 After the Ides of March, the continuing validity of Caesar’s legislative legacy was part of the compromise struck between Caesarians and the self-styled liberators — a by and large uncontroversial item of business given the chaos that would have ensued if the realities put in place under Caesar’s watch over the last half decade had suddenly lost their legal foundation. More problematic was the question of what to do with those of Caesar’s plans and policies that had remained work-in-progress. Earlier in the speech, Cicero berated Antony for his nefarious handling of Caesar’s archive that contained his unpublished acta, claiming that Antony feigned Caesarian authorship for any kind of measure that served his interests. In the light of this track record of insisting that Caesar’s word (oral, written, drafted, or invented) was — or had to become — law, Antony’s disrespect for certain aspects of Caesar’s legislative record emerges as hypocritical. This is the invective angle Cicero explores in the present paragraph, lambasting his adversary for his ‘optional’ commitment to Caesar’s legacy and testament: Antony, Cicero claims, gives overriding importance to Caesar’s acts when it suits him, but thinks nothing of doing away with those of his measures he deems inconvenient. But, as Matijević (2006) convincingly shows, the issue here is not so much (or just as much) Antony falsifying Caesar’s acta as Cicero falsifying Antony’s handling of Caesar’s acta.78

At iste, qui senatu non egeret, neque desideravit quemquam et potius discessu nostro laetatus est statimque illa mirabilia facinora effecit: after his picture of frightened senators at the end of § 108, Cicero now refocuses on Antony (with evident distaste, expressed by the adversative particle at and the contemptuous demonstrative pronoun iste): far from being upset by a depleted senate, Antony exulted in the opportunity to push through his nefarious agenda — and did so at once (statim): ‘But this man here, since he had no need of a senate, did not miss anyone (of us), and rather rejoiced at our departure, and immediately proceeded to those stunning exploits of his’. The connectives here take some sorting: Cicero, unusually, correlates neque with -que (after statim) rather than et. (The et potius discessu nostro laetatus est continues, and glosses, neque desideravit quemquam.)

qui senatu non egeret: senatu is an ablative of separation with egeret (the imperfect subjunctive in a relative clause with causal force).

discessu nostro laetatus est: laetor here governs the ablative discessu nostro (‘he took delight in our departure’).

illa mirabilia facinora effecit: the noun facinus, which is etymologically related to the verb facio (hence facinora effecit forms a so-called figura etymologica), can have the neutral meaning of ‘deed’ or ‘act’ (‘something that has been done’); here, though, the sense is ‘misdeed’, ‘crime’, or ‘outrage’. mirabilis [from the deponent miror, -ari, -atus: ‘to be surprised, amazed, or bewildered + bilis] has the value-neutral meaning of ‘causing wonder’, ‘extraordinary’.

qui chirographa Caesaris defendisset lucri sui causa, is leges Caesaris easque praeclaras, ut rem publicam concutere posset, evertit: qui might look like a connecting relative, but it is not: it introduces a — concessive: hence the pluperfect subjunctive defendisset — relative clause with is as antecedent: ‘this man, who / even though he had defended Caesar’s holographs for his personal profit…’ Cicero here targets Antony’s contradictory approach towards the legacy of Caesar: handwritten drafts are treated like Scripture cast in stone when they bring Antony financial benefits (for instance through bribes by those you would like to see them published), whereas any piece of legislation he finds inconvenient is unceremoniously binned, even if it has already been put on permanent record.

leges Caesaris easque praeclaras: the -que after eas introduces a gloss on leges; the sense is: ‘even though they were excellent’. Cicero uses the same adjective with reference to Caesar’s legislation at Phil. 1.18 (cited above): leges multas … et praeclaras (focalized through Caesar).

ut rem publicam concutere posset: the purpose-clause strikes an odd and aggressive chord: Cicero makes it out as if causing upheaval of the commonwealth for its own sake is Antony’s overriding motivation.

numerum annorum provinciis prorogavit: Cicero here singles out a law that regulated the length of provincial governorships. prorogo is a technical term here with the sense of ‘to extend a term of office’. The need to create so-called ‘pro-magistrates’, i.e. magistrates that had completed their term in office but then moved on to administrative positions ‘on behalf of’ (pro) a magistrate emerged in the context of Rome’s imperial expansion when two consuls ceased to suffice to cover the needs for military leadership. But prolonged pro-magistracies, as attractive as they were for those holding them, also constituted a huge problem for the senatorial oligarchy — as (not least) the case of Caesar showed, who used his terms as pro-consul (initially five years, then extended, in 55 BCE, for another five-year period) to build up an invincible army loyal to him above all. It is somewhat ironic that in 46 BCE Caesar passed a law, the Lex Iulia de provinciis, which restricted the tenure of such position to one year for ex-praetors and two years for ex-consuls — no doubt in part to keep potential rivals in check. Yet Antony, looking ahead to his own pro-consulship, passed a law in the summer of 44 BCE, the Lex (Antonia?) de provinciis consularibus, that extended his (and Dolabella’s) period as pro-consuls to five years, thus overriding Caesar’s legislation. Since he was unable to get the law approved in the senate, he had the tribunes of the plebs (one of whom was his brother Lucius) pass the law in the comitia tributa by plebiscite. For a slightly fuller account see Phil. 5.7 (tribuni plebis tulerunt de provinciis contra acta C. Caesaris: ille biennium, hic sexennium — ‘The tribunes of the plebs proposed a law concerning the provinces which ran counter to the acts of Gaius Caesar: he had fixed a two-year tenure, Antony a six-year’) with Manuwald (2007: 577–78).

idemque, cum actorum Caesaris defensor esse deberet, et in publicis et in privatis rebus acta Caesaris rescidit: the main verb — rescidit — here has the technical sense of ‘rescinding something officially decreed’, such as a law. The cum-clause is concessive (‘even though…’). Cicero now proceeds to identify the various areas in which Antony was busy undoing Caesar’s arrangements. Here he differentiates between res publicae and res privatae; in the following sentence, he identifies laws (leges) as the most important element of res publicae and a testament (testamentum) as the most important element of res privatae, before proceeding to give examples of how Antony attacked Caesar’s leges and arrangements set down in his testament.

actorum Caesaris defensor: ‘Verbal agent nouns in -tor [here: defensor], socalled nomina agentis, can take objective genitives [here: actorum]’, where ‘the genitive denotes the entity defended, more rarely the danger defended against’ Devine and Stephens (2006: 343, 346).

in publicis [rebus] nihil est lege gravius; in privatis [rebus] firmissimum est testamentum: Cicero here draws an analogy between the status of law in the public sphere and the status of a testament in personal affairs, moving on from a comparative (gravius; lege is an ablative of comparison) to a superlative (firmissimum).

leges alias sine promulgatione sustulit, alias ut tolleret [novas leges] promulgavit: the sentence picks up in publicis nihil est lege gravius: ‘as for [Caesar’s] laws, some he annulled without prior public notice (promulgatio), to annul others, he gave public notice [of new legislation]’.

promulgare (noun: promulgatio) is a technical term from Roman law. See Kaster (2006: 425): ‘The public reading and posting of any proposed piece of legislation: the proposal had to receive this publicity on at least three successive market days (nundinae) before an assembly could be convened for a vote’ that would turn the bill into law. In terms of syntax, we get two sentences in asyndetic sequence, but the elliptical and unbalanced nature of Cicero’s prose conjures the chaos that Antony (so Cicero suggests) is causing in Rome’s legal sphere. Note in particular the antithesis of sine promulgatione and promulgavit, which underscores that whatever Antony does in terms of legislation undoes Caesar’s legal arrangements; and the slippage from leges alias, the accusative object of the main verb sustulit, to alias [leges], which is the accusative object of the subordinate clause introduced by ut. The facts are much less sensational: it is true that the plebiscite that extended the pro-consulships of Antony and Dolabella violated the restrictions imposed by Caesar’s Lex Iulia de provinciis; but that does not mean that it rendered Caesar’s legislation void. The new laws that Antony proposed also did not constitute an assault on Caesar’s legal order, but formed the kind of adjustments to existing legislation that a consul might be expected to make. As Ramsey (2003: 124) explains with reference to a piece of Caesarian legislation that regulated jury service: ‘Caesar’s lex iudiciaria of 46 eliminated the lowest of the three classes from which juries were drawn (tribuni aerarii) and limited jury service to senators and equites (Suet. Iul. 41.2; Dio 43.25.1). Antony’s law establishing a third panel may have been designed to address a resulting shortage of jurors’.

testamentum irritum fecit, quod etiam infimis civibus semper obtentum est: the sentence picks up in privatis firmissimum est testamentum. Cicero here refers overdramatically to the tussle that followed the unsealing and reading of Caesar’s will after the Ides of March (for which see the report in Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar, 82–83):

Fuerat animus coniuratis corpus occisi in Tiberim trahere, bona publicare, acta rescindere, sed metu Marci Antoni consulis et magistri equitum Lepidi destiterunt. postulante ergo Lucio Pisone socero testamentum eius aperitur recitaturque in Antoni domo, quod Idibus Septembribus proximis in Lavicano suo fecerat demandaveratque virgini Vestali maximae.

[The conspirators had intended after slaying him to drag his body to the Tiber, confiscate his property, and revoke his decrees; but they desisted through fear of the consul Marcus Antonius and Lepidus, the master of the horse. Then at the request of his father-in-law Lucius Piso, the will was unsealed and read in Antony’s house, which Caesar had made on the preceding Ides of September (= 13 September 45) at his place near Lavicum, and put in the care of the chief of the Vestal Virgins.]

While Antony did his best to obstruct execution of those provisions that he disliked, he never claimed the will as such to be ‘invalid’: irritum is Ciceronian hyperbole. One particular grievance for Antony was Caesar’s nomination of Octavian as his heir and executor. See Plutarch, Life of Antony, 16:

While matters went thus in Rome, the young Caesar, Caesar’s niece’s son, and by testament left his heir, arrived at Rome from Apollonia, where he was when his uncle was killed. The first thing he did was to visit Antony, as his father’s friend. He spoke to him concerning the money that was in his hands, and reminded him of the legacy Caesar had made of seventy-five drachmas of every Roman citizen. Antony, at first, laughing at such discourse from so young a man, told him he wished he were in his health, and that he wanted good counsel and good friends to tell him the burden of being executor to Caesar would sit very uneasy upon his young shoulders. This was no answer to him; and, when he persisted in demanding the property, Antony went on treating him injuriously both in word and deed, opposed him when he stood for the tribune’s office, and, when he was taking steps for the dedication of his father’s golden chair, as had been enacted, he threatened to send him to prison if he did not give over soliciting the people. This made the young Caesar apply himself to Cicero, and all those that hated Antony…

quod etiam infimis civibus semper obtentum est: the antecedent of quod is testamentum; etiam here means ‘even’: ‘Caesar’s will he annulled — a thing, which has always been upheld even for citizens of the lowest social rank’. infimus is the superlative of inferus, and infimis civibus is in the dative of advantage.

signa, tabulas, quas populo Caesar una cum hortis legavit, eas hic partim in hortos Pompei deportavit, partim in villam Scipionis: In his will, Caesar bequeathed (legavit) the so-called Horti Caesaris trans Tiberim (‘The Gardens of Caesar across the Tiber’) to the Roman People. Already before his death, he used this estate to stage public entertainments, such as feasts for the entire populace: the garden parties in his Horti consciously rivaled the enjoyments on offer in the Horti Pompeiani, which were most likely part of the plot of land on the Campus Martius that also included Pompey’s house and his theater: see Russell (2016: 162) with references to further literature. In the wake of Pompey’s death, this complex passed into the possession of Antony, and Cicero claims that Antony, after Caesar too lost his life, plundered the Horti Caesaris trans Tiberim to prettify two places he had acquired when properties of Pompey and his followers were auctioned off, the Horti Pompeiani and the villa of Scipio, thereby essentially despoiling the Roman people. See further Wood (2010: 78):

The Horti Caesaris trans Tiberim should be seen as a direct challenge to the Horti Pompeiani. Positioned on the river’s right bank along with a series of other aristocratic holdings, it was essentially a private estate and the venue where Caesar hosted Cleopatra in 45 B.C. (Cic. Att. 15.15.2). However, in attempting to outmanoeuvre Pompey, Caesar is known to have hosted a grand public banquet in his horti trans Tiberim also in 45 B.C. (Val. Max. 9.15.1), where according to Dio (43.42.1) he feasted the entire populace. The true extent of Dio’s assertion may be questionable, but it certainly exemplified Caesar’s exploitation of the communal meal as a popular measure (Plut. Caes. 5.5, 55.2, 57.5; Suet. Iul. 26.2). Additionally, it underlines the extent of Caesar’s horti in that it was capable of hosting such a grand, large scale spectacle. As with Pompey’s horti, Caesar’s expansive gardens would have afforded Rome’s poorest citizens a visual treat, surrounded by numerous statues, paintings and other works of art within verdant grounds on the banks of the Tiber, allowing them to bask in the ambience of their surroundings away from the chaos of Rome beyond. It is significant that while Pompey’s horti passed on to Mark Antony and in turn Agrippa, Caesar chose to will his estate and all its enclosed artworks to the Roman people on his death (Cic. Phil. 2.109; Dio Cass. 44.35.3; Suet. Iul. 83.2). This would have been a conscious ploy, intended to counter the daily access offered by the Horti Pompeiani in Caesar’s lifetime.

§ 110: Caesar: Dead Duck or Deified Dictator?

One of the most hotly contested issues after the Ides of March was Caesar’s ‘ontological status’: was he a dead mortal or had he become divine? Caesar’s religious identity was above all a political matter: whereas the senatorial oligarchy resisted any attempt to elevate Caesar to the level of a god, followers of Caesar had good reasons to push him skywards, not least once it became apparent that such a move was very much in tune with popular feelings. Earlier on in the speech, Cicero touched upon this issue when he discussed the so-called ‘false Marius’ and the altar and column spontaneously erected at the site of Caesar’s funeral, but then torn down by Dolabella and Antony: see above on § 107. After these events in March and April of 44 BCE, several developments revitalized Caesar’s claim to divine status. Octavian in particular found resonance among the people and the veterans when insisting that Caesar had become a god — and was helped by a comet that became visible in the second part of July 44 during his celebrations of games in honour of Caesar.79 The aggressive promotion of a deified Caesar by his adopted son put Antony in a double bind: to maintain his position as the leading Caesarian he could hardly boycott endeavours to honour Caesar; yet turning Caesar into a god would inevitably endow his main rival Octavian with powerful divine ancestry.

The Philippics bear witness to earlier tussles around this matter. In the senate meeting on 1 September 44, which Cicero did not attend, Antony pushed through legislative measures which stipulated honours for Caesar that came close to turning him into a god. Specifically, Cicero offers a scathing commentary on Antony’s motion to add an extra day in honour of Caesar to all festivals of thanksgiving (supplicationes) (Phil. 1.13):

An me censetis, patres conscripti, quod vos inviti secuti estis, decreturum fuisse, ut parentalia cum supplicationibus miscerentur, ut inexpiabiles religiones in rem publicam inducerentur, ut decernerentur supplicationes mortuo? nihil dico cui. fuerit ille L. Brutus qui et ipse dominatu regio rem publicam liberavit et ad similem virtutem et simile factum stirpem iam prope in quingentesimum annum propagavit: adduci tamen non possem ut quemquam mortuum coniungerem cum deorum immortalium religione; ut, cuius sepulcrum usquam exstet ubi parentetur, ei publice supplicetur.

[Or do you think, Members of the Senate, that I would have supported the decree you passed against your will, that a sacrifice in honour of the dead should be mixed up with public thanksgivings, that sacrilege incapable of expiation should be introduced into the commonwealth, that public thanksgivings be decreed to a dead man? I don’t say for whom. Let that man be the Brutus who freed the commonwealth from regal despotism and who after almost five hundred years has left descendants to show similar courage and to achieve a similar deed. Even so, I could not have been induced to associate any dead man with the worship of the immortal gods so that a public thanksgiving should be made for him while somewhere a tomb exists at which offerings can be made.]

Cicero accuses Antony of conflating two religious spheres that ought to be kept strictly apart: thanksgivings to the gods (supplicationes) and the parentalia, i.e. rites performed in honour of dead relatives (parentes). The results of this confusion, he stipulates, are religious pollution and divine wrath — for Cicero an absolute boundary between the divine and the human sphere exists that is not to be crossed by anybody, let alone Caesar. Caesar is D-E-A-D! Throughout Philippic 1 and 2 he never misses an opportunity to emphasize this point, most strikingly at Phil. 1.24, where he mocks Antony’s postmortem publication of Caesar’s acts: de exsilio reducti multi a mortuo, civitas data non solum singulis, sed nationibus et provinciis universis a mortuo, immunitatibus infinitis sublata vectigalia a mortuo (‘Men have been brought back from exile by a dead man; citizenship has been given, not only to individuals, but to whole tribes and provinces by a dead man; by boundless exemptions revenues have been done away with by a dead man’).

Our passage revisits the religious politics revolving around Caesar, with a specific focus on the Catch-22 that Antony found himself in: as a leading Caesarian, he was expected to promote divine honours for the dead dictator; yet to do so could not help but have the — for Antony undesirable — consequence of empowering his main rival among the Caesarians for the leading role he coveted for himself: given Caesar’s adoption of Octavian, his deification would render Octavian the son of a god: ‘[Antony] surely had grasped that the confirmation of Caesar’s divine status would — and indeed, did — deliver to Octavian something far grander than the name of Caesar: the appellation divi filius’ (Koortbojian 2013: 39). It is indeed telling that when in January 42 BCE the senate finally recognized Caesar’s deification and thereby turned Octavian officially into Divi Filius, the son of Divus Iulius (‘the deified Julius’), Antony, who had been flamen designate of Caesar already in 44 BCE, continued to delay his inauguratio until October 40 BCE.

Paradoxically, just as Antony had a vested interested in down-playing Caesar’s divinity, so Cicero, because of his belief that he could instrumentalize Octavian for his variant of senatorial politics, abandoned his categorical refusal to accept Caesar’s claim to divine status as anything but blasphemy in subsequent orations, so as not to alienate Octavian — which meant that he needed to entertain, at least notionally, Caesar’s divinity. See the discussion by Cole (2014: 174): ‘Cicero’s representation of Antony’s role as flamen in the subsequent, publicly delivered Philippics provides additional evidence for consideration along with 2.110 in an assessment of Cicero’s approach to cult for Caesar. The strategy of shaming Antony for his neglect of Caesar’s cult becomes a way to alienate Antony from Octavian and a public already embracing Caesar’s divinity. Cicero’s handling of Caesar’s honors in the First Philippic could hardly have pleased the young Octavian, who was actively promoting Divus Iulius and his singular tie to him. But Octavian would have been encouraged by the new tack in following Philippics wherein Cicero promotes the legitimacy of Octavian’s yet-unratified adoption and also insistently connects Caesar’s heir with divinity’.

Et tu in Caesaris memoria diligens [es], tu illum amas mortuum?: the sarcastic rhetorical question leads on from the end of the previous paragraph, where Cicero blamed Antony for plundering artistic treasures from the park that Caesar left to the Roman people. Cf. § 51, where Cicero also uses et tu (here reinforced by the repetition of tu at the beginning of the second clause) to kick-start a question brimming with sarcasm and outrage. Caesaris is an objective genitive dependent on memoria. diligens can be construed with various prepositions (OLD s.v. 2), here it is in + ablative. The verb of the first clause (es) is elided: ‘And are you attentive to Caesar’s memory, do you love him — dead as he is?’ mortuum is an (exposed and programmatic) expansion of illum (note the homoioteleuton), picking up me-mor-ia in the first clause in paronomasia. The figure here carries an ideological punch: memoria, in the sense of (collective) remembrance through various means and media of commemoration, is the way Rome’s community has traditionally kept the dead (mortui) present — not deification. At the beginning of a paragraph devoted to a discussion of religious honours for Caesar, Cicero emphatically and programmatically calls the dictator dead (rather than deified), preparing for the ironic use of the formulation divus Iulius two sentences later (see below).

quem is honorem maiorem consecutus erat quam ut haberet pulvinar, simulacrum, fastigium, flaminem?: quem is an interrogative adjective agreeing with honorem: ‘what greater honour…’. is, the subject of the sentence (and rather squashed between quem and honorem) refers to Caesar: ‘what greater honour had this man attained than…’. ut introduces a consecutive clause after the comparative maiorem + quam. Scholars debate when the four honours Cicero here lists were actually awarded to Caesar — and whether they amount to his full-scale deification in official religious practice. According to Koortbojian, the standard here has to be the practice of a cult dedicated to the worship of Caesar deified (2013: 32): ‘which — if any — of these honors can be linked directly with the publica sacra of state cult — “those performed at public expense on behalf of the populus” — and which connote the ritual offerings (sacrificia or supplicationes) by which such cult was defined’. He explores each of the four honours in turn and reaches the conclusion that none implies Caesar’s actual godhood, even though all are symbols of divinity: they may have been designed to signal that Caesar had begun to approximate, rather than (as of yet) fully transformed into, a divine being. These fine distinctions are important, but they are fine: and while Caesar may not have officially entered Roman state cult by the time Cicero composed Philippic 2, the passage here clearly shows that some of his supporters deemed his transformation into a god successfully completed: his divinity was very much in the eyes of the beholder.

pulvinar, simulacrum, fastigium, flaminem: an asyndetic, climactic sequence, with the last two items related by alliteration. We move from sacred, ceremonial cushion (pulvinar), to a statue of a (quasi-)divinity (simulacrum), which on certain ritual occasions rested on a pulvinar, to a piece of temple architecture (fastigium  pediment) that would house statues of gods, to a priest responsible for the cult of a specific divinity (flamen). All of these constituted senatorial honours for Caesar, shortly before (or, in the case of the flamen, perhaps soon after) his assassination.

pulvinar: deriving from pulvinus, -i, m. (‘cushion’ or ‘pillow’), pulvinar (n.) has a range of meanings: ‘1) divine couch, 2) sacred marriage-bed, 3) sacred edifice or space (similar to aedes, fanum, or templum), including the Pulvinar in the Circus Maximus, and 4) lectisternium (a sacrificial meal for a god)’: van den Berg (2008: 240). Cicero here uses the term in sense 1), i.e. a cushioned, ceremonial couch on which the image of a deity — or of a person honoured like a deity — was placed for ceremonial purposes or worship. At the end of the paragraph, he uses the term again (pulvinaria), but in sense 4). Sometime in January or February 44 (?), Caesar seems to have been accorded the privilege, hitherto restricted to gods, to have a statue or image of his placed on a sacred, ceremonial couch during public festivals and processions.

simulacrum: the context makes it clear that simulacrum here refers to a kind of statue that implies Caesar’s divinity (or special association with the divine) (cf. OLD s.v. 3a). However, it remains unclear which statue of Caesar Cicero has in mind. Possibilities include the statue with the inscription Deo Invicto (‘To the Unconquered God’) that the senate voted to set up in the temple of Quirinus in 45 BCE; or the statue that appeared next to Victory during a circus procession that inaugurated games in honour of Caesar’s victory in the civil war, also in 45 BCE (to the displeasure, as Cicero notes with glee, of a significant portion of the audience: Att. 13.44.1). See Koortbojian (2013: 36) for discussion.

fastigium: fastigium here as the technical meaning of ‘pediment’, i.e. the triangular upper part of the front of a building, typically a temple. Caesar — again following a vote by the senate — added such a pediment to his house in the Forum, which gave it the appearance — but only the appearance, as Koortbojian is keen to stress — of a temple: ‘a house with a pediment was not a temple and, without an altar, no place for cult. Like all the insignia bestowed upon Caesar, this too acknowledged his new status, but that new status cannot yet be understood institutionally. Just as the ornamenta triumphalia signaled a victor’s status by likening him, visibly, to Jupiter, so too Caesar’s house might now look like a shrine, and thus liken its inhabitants to a god. But temple, altar, and cult were yet to come, and with them, only with them, the advent of cult and the institutionalization of Caesar’s divine status. No veneratio here’ (2013: 32). At the same time, Suetonius implies that for some Romans (arguably including himself) this piece of architecture (as well as the term for it) carried particularly noxious connotations of self-aggrandizement and all but turned Caesar into a tyrant — and hence fair game (Life of Julius Caesar 76.1, cited above 247–48). As Jenkyns (2013: 23) notes: ‘The word [sc. fastigium] is interesting here, for the Senate did indeed vote a fastigium for the dictator’s house; the acme — fastigium — of achievement is embodied literally at the tip of the gable. Cicero indignantly lists this ornament among the other quasi-divine honours that Julius received; the city’s profile expresses both the ups and downs of the political rat race and a kind of continuum extending from gods to men. As a fastigium crowns the pediment of a temple, so it adorns a dynast’s home. Calpurnia, Julius Caesar’s wife, was said to have dreamt before his murder that the fastigium on his house toppled down [Plut. Caes. 63.5; Suet. Jul. 81.3]. This is a symbolism close to reality’.

flaminem: a flamen was a special priest appointed to carry out the rites of a specific divinity. Traditionally, there were 15 flamines in all — three so-called higher ones (flamines maiores) filled by patricians for Jupiter (Flamen Dialis), Mars (Flamen Martialis), and Quirinus (Flamen Quirinalis); and twelve minor ones (flamines minores) filled by plebeians and dedicated to less important — not to say: obscure — divinities, many of whom associated with the sphere of agriculture. Only ten of them are known by name: Flamen Carmentalis (the flamen for Carmentis), Flamen Cerialis (for Ceres), Flamen Falacer (for Falacer), Flamen Floralis (for Flora), Flamen Furrinalis (for Furrina), Flamen Palatualis (for Palatua), Flamen Pomonalis (for Pomona), Flamen Portunalis (for Portunus), Flamen Volcanalis (for Vulcan), and Flamen Volturnalis (for Volturnus). Unlike the first three honours, i.e. pulvinar, simulacrum, and fastigium: the list is clearly climactic, having a flamen unequivocally means that one is a divinity.

A scholarly debate rages over the question whether Caesar was awarded the honour of a flamen during his lifetime or after his death, with our passage figuring prominently. Here are Beard, North, Price (1998: 2.222): ‘This passage is one of the main pieces of evidence to suggest that Caesar was aiming at deification during his lifetime. … Cicero is teasing Antony by asking him why, if he was as devoted to Caesar’s memory as he said he was, he had not yet gone through the formal ceremony of inauguration as flamen, that is special priest of Caesar’s new cult. In doing this, Cicero claims detailed knowledge of the cult — the god’s title, the priest’s title, even the new priest’s identity. In fact, the formal recognition of Caesar as a god (divus Julius) did not occur till after Cicero’s death and Antony only became flamen divi Iulii in 40 B.C. (Plutarch, Life of Antony 33.1). The only explanation for Cicero’s apparent knowledge is that he knew of detailed plans for deification drafted in Caesar’s lifetime, but only implemented in the years after his death’. Cole (2014: 173) is somewhat more circumspect: ‘The tenses in this passage … make it clear that Cicero is speaking of honors granted in Caesar’s lifetime — honors not mentioned by Cicero until after Caesar’s death’. But does our passage really offer decisive evidence ‘for a cult of the living Caesar’? Cole rightly asks: ‘Why are there no comments on this development in letters to Atticus? Can this passage in the Second Philippic be isolated as Cicero’s principled, categorical objection to cult for Caesar?’ And Koortbojian (2013: 35) argues that ‘in contrast to the fastigium and the pulvinar, the flaminate — like the simulacrum… — must have been among the posthumous honors that figured in the accommodations that the Senate enacted with the rival parties in the wake of Caesar’s assassination’.

est ergo flamen, ut Iovi, ut Marti, ut Quirino, sic divo Iulio M. Antonius. quid igitur cessas? cur non inauguraris? sume diem, vide qui te inauguret: collegae sumus; nemo negabit: whether the honour of a flamen was voted to Caesar while he was still alive or as a posthumous award, what primarily matters for our passage is the fact that the designated flamen Antony had not yet undergone inauguration: it is Antony’s delay in bringing the honour to fruition that Cicero singles out for sarcastic commentary. The chiastic design and the ut  sic structure of (a) flamen : (b) Iovi, Marti, Quirino :: (b) divo Iulio : (a) M. Antonius gives the (wrong) impression of a basic equivalence between the priesthoods of the flamines maiores (see previous note) and the new priesthood of divine Julius — an impression deliberately reinforced by the opening est ergo, which forcefully suggests the statement of a fact. But as the subsequent series of questions, exhortations, and encouragements makes apparent, Antony has so far fallen woefully short of putting this greatest of all honours into (cultic) practice. Cicero mockingly offers to help him out: like Antony, he was an augur (collegae sumus) and could have assisted in Antony’s inauguration as flamen.

o detestabilem hominem, sive quod tyranni sacerdos es sive quod mortui sacerdos es]!: Cicero shouts out an accusative of exclamation — the Latin equivalent of WRITING AN EMAIL IN CAPS. o detestabilem hominem then segues into two alternative quod-clauses (coordinated by sive  … sive …: ‘be it that  …, be it that…’) that conjure Antony as priest (Cicero slips from the technical flamen to the generic sacerdos) of Caesar, whether when still alive as tyrant (tyranni sacerdos) or dead (mortui sacerdos). Being the priest of either a tyrant or a dead man is of course abominable.

tyranni: the text is disputed: some manuscripts have Caesaris instead. One will have been a marginal gloss for the other. For the dilemma to bite, tyranni is clearly the superior option.

quaero deinceps num hodiernus dies qui sit ignores: quaero governs the indirect question num … ignores: ‘I next ask whether by any chance you do not know…’ ignores governs the further indirect question hodiernus dies qui sit, with the emphatic prolepsis of hodiernus dies: ‘which day today is’.

nescis heri quartum in circo diem ludorum Romanorum fuisse, te autem ipsum ad populum tulisse ut quintus praeterea dies Caesari tribueretur?: the main verb of the rhetorical question, nescis, introduces a twofold indirect statement linked by the adversative particle autem: quartum … diem … fuisse; te … ipsum … tulisse. ‘Don’t you know that…?’ The ut-clause specifies what Antony proposed to the people. Cicero cast Philippic 2 as a speech delivered on 19 September 44, so heri (‘yesterday’) refers to 18 September, which was the fourth day of the period of games (15–18 September) that, after a brief interval, followed on the festival of the ludi Romani (‘Roman Games’, 4–12 September). Antony, at some unspecified point in time, seems to have proposed to add a fifth day of games to the Ludi Romani, but then abandoned the plan

Alternatively, Cicero here picks up on the motion Antony carried in the senate meeting of 1 September, namely that an extra day should be added to all festivals of thanksgiving to the gods (so-called supplicationes) in honour of Caesar: see Phil. 1.13, cited above; further Weinstock (1971: 62–64). As Lacey (1986: 238) points out, ‘It was an open question whether the Roman Games were, or were not, thanksgivings. In origin they were, but as they were held annually, and on the same date whether there were or were not any victories to celebrate, it could be thought that they were not, and “thanksgivings” meant only those voted to honour commanders for their successes, when appropriate’. Clearly, Antony did not believe that the Ludi Romani were affected by his motion on supplicationes — whereas Cicero posits that they were, and that a fifth day of games should have been added — gleefully interpreting Antony’s ‘failure’ to institute an extra day in Caesar’s honour (which would have been the 19 September) as a sign of disrespect for the dead dictator. On this reading, Cicero ‘invents’ his evidence here, on the basis of divergent interpretations of Antony’s own motion (and differing definitions of the Ludi Romani and the applicability of the label supplicatio).

cur non sumus praetextati? cur honorem Caesaris tua lege datum deseri patimur?: Cicero continues with two further rhetorical questions, addressed to himself and the rest of the senators or augurs (sumus, patimur), which are grounded in the claim that Antony failed to follow through on his own legislation and add an extra day of games to the Ludi Romani. If that extra day had been added, Cicero, as augur, and perhaps also other high-ranking Romans who had held curule office, would have been dressed in the toga praetexta.

an supplicationes addendo diem contaminari passus es, pulvinaria contaminari noluisti?: an here introduces an irritable direct question (OLD s.v. 1). The passage is obscure. Cicero seems to be saying that Antony was happy to profane supplicationes, but somehow became squeamish when it came to the pulvinaria. But given that supplicationes were carried out in front of the pulvinaria, the question arises: ‘How could Antony defile the supplicationes without also defiling the pulvinaria?’ (Denniston 1926: 170). The sentence clearly presupposes that supplicationes and pulvinaria have a distinct religious identity and significance — but precise details of the scenario he has in mind elude us.

aut undique religionem tolle aut usque quaque conserva: Cicero concludes with two imperatives (tolle, conserva) coordinated by aut aut. His either — or (‘all or nothing’) is a false alternative.

§ 111: A Final Look at Antony’s Illoquence

Cicero concludes his examination of Antony’s inconsistency in handling Caesar and his legacy by lambasting him a final time for his alleged lack of eloquence: put on the spot to defend his policies Antony (so Cicero insinuates) will have nothing to say. His abject failure to articulate himself in supple and muscular speech stands in dismal contrast to the heights of eloquence achieved by his grandfather — Antony is the sad offspring of a once great family. The paragraph thus also brings to a close the competition in eloquence that runs throughout Philippic 2 from § 2 onwards.

Quaeris placeatne mihi pulvinar esse, fastigium, flaminem: Cicero imagines Antony asking whether he approves of the divine honours awarded to Caesar — given his curious insistence that they are properly observed. The inverted word order, with the verb placeat up front, conveys a sense of challenge and surprise in Antony’s imagined interjection. The alliterations placeat – pulvinar and fastigium – flaminem underscore the mocking tone.

mihi vero nihil istorum placet: sed tu, qui acta Caesaris defendis, quid potes dicere cur alia defendas, alia non cures?: the particle vero here emphasizes the personal pronoun mihi and reinforces the way in which Cicero continues on from the previous sentence chiastically: … placeatne mihi :: mihi … placet. His response to Antony’s imagined query amounts to a sarcastic rejection (‘As should be obvious, I approve of none of these!’), which serves him as base to revisit Antony’s inconsistent approach to Caesar’s religious-political patrimony.

nihil istorum: strongly contemptuous, referring back to pulvinar, fastigium, and flaminem.

sed tu: in sharp antithesis to mihi vero, reinforced by chiasmus and prolepsis (the tu is the subject of the quid-potes clause).

quid potes dicere cur alia defendas, alia non cures: the adverb cur can be either interrogative or (as here) relative, when it is usually followed by the subjunctive (cf. defendas, cures), especially in the idiom quid est cur? (OLD s.v. cur 3): ‘what can you say on account of which…’, ‘what can you say that justifies that…’

alia … alia…: ‘some … others’, picking up acta Caesaris.

[potes dicere nihil] nisi forte vis fateri te omnia quaestu tuo, non illius dignitate metiri: Cicero suppresses the implied answer to his rhetorical question (i.e. ‘you can say nothing’) before adding ‘the truth’ in a conditional proviso (nisi forte…). vis is the second person singular present indicative active of volo, velle, ‘to want’. It takes the supplementary infinitive fateri (a deponent), which governs an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and metiri as infinitive: ‘… unless perhaps you want to confess that you measure all things by your own profit, not by Caesar’s honour’.

forte: the adverb drips irony: ‘on the off-chance’ (you wish to tell the truth).

quaestu tuo, non illius dignitate metiri: the basic meaning of metiri is ‘to measure’, and Latin expresses the standard by which something is measured — here Antony’s personal profit (quaestu) rather than the honour (dignitate) of Caesar — in the so-called ‘ablative of measurement’. quaestu tuo :: illius dignitate forms a contrastive chiasmus with non as pivot.

quid ad haec tandem [respondebis]?: the adverb tandem is ‘used to emphasize an asseveration, expressing a strong sense of protest or (as here) impatience’ (OLD s.v. 1): ‘so, what will you reply to this?’ The verb has to be supplied: cf. below respondebisne ad haec…?

exspecto enim eloquentiam: disertissimum cognovi avum tuum, at te etiam apertiorem in dicendo: enim gives the assertion exspecto … eloquentiam a deeply ironic appeal to interpersonal consensus (Kroon (1995: 202). Cicero then explains why he has such high expectations of Antony’s rhetorical ability: his grandfather Marcus Antonius was supremely eloquent — and Antony has a track record of being even ‘more outgoing’ in public speech, so he should be well poised to answer back eloquently now. However, a double entendre in apertiorem turns the apparent praise into an insult: in the sense of ‘open-hearted’, ‘frank’, apertus is an attribute of high praise in Cicero. See e.g. On the Commonwealth (de Republica) 3.26: de viro bono quaeritur, quem apertum et simplicem volumus esse (‘the search is for a good man, whom we want to be open and frank’) or On Duties (de Officiis) 1.109: sunt his alii multum dispares, simplices et aperti, qui nihil ex occulto, nihil de insidiis agendum putant, veritatis cultores, fraudis inimici… (‘Then there are others, quite different from these, straightforward and open, who think that nothing should be done by underhand means or treachery. They are lovers of truth, haters of fraud…’). The implication is that the speaker bares his mind (ad Familiares 1.9.22: animum … cum magnum et excelsum tum etiam apertum et simplicem — ‘a high-minded, unselfish, frank, and straightforward disposition’) or heart (de Amicitia 97: apertum pectus). But as the following sentence makes clear, with reference to Antony, Cicero understands the ‘baring’ literally, not metaphorically (apertus = nudus): unlike his grandfather, Antony once spoke buck naked — a reference to his shocking state of dishabille when addressing the people at the Lupercalia in his jockstrap.

cognovi: the verb coordinates a pair of accusative objects (avum tuum, te) each with an attribute in predicative position. The arrangement is chiastic: disertissimum : avum tuum :: te : apertiorem (in dicendo), which reinforces the contrast between Antony and his grandfather, just as the adversative particle at placed at the centre of the design.

disertissimum… avum tuum: Cicero already held up Antony’s grandfather Marcus Antonius (143–87 BCE) as a model of excellence towards the end of Philippic 1.34:

Utinam, M. Antoni, avum tuum meminisses! de quo tamen audisti multa ex me eaque saepissime. putasne illum immortalitatem mereri voluisse, ut propter armorum habendorum licentiam metueretur? illa erat vita, illa secunda fortuna, libertate esse parem ceteris, principem dignitate.

[Marcus Antonius, I wish you remembered your grandfather! Though of him you have heard much from me and very often. Do you think that he would have wished to earn immortality by being feared for his ability to keep an armed guard? To him life, to him prosperous fortune, was to be equal to all others in freedom and the first in distinction.]

And in Philippic 2.42, Cicero draws a sharp contrast between Antony’s and his grandfather’s way with words: vide autem quid intersit inter te et avum tuum. ille sensim dicebat quod causae prodesset; tu cursim dicis aliena (‘observe, however, the contrast between you and your grandfather: he spoke cautiously using words that helped his case; you produce irrelevant drivel’). As van der Blom (2010: 95) elaborates: ‘Cicero often refers to the importance of choosing an exemplum within the family, especially if the family formed part of the nobility. Cicero’s appeal for the imitation of family exempla and his praise or blame of a specific choice formed part of his (alleged) efforts to steer his subject in a specific direction and, in particular, to pass a public judgement on his subject’. She discusses this strategy with specific reference to the Philippics, where Cicero more than once brings Antony’s grandfather into play — whom he had already memorialized as a paragon of eloquence in his dialogue On the Ideal Orator (de Oratore).

etiam apertiorem: in classical Latin, ‘the comparative is often strengthened … by the insertion of etiam, even’ (Gildersleeve & Lodge 190).

ille numquam nudus est contionatus: tuum hominis simplicis pectus vidimus: Cicero now resolves the puzzle built into the previous sentence by upbraiding Antony once more for his sartorial negligence at the Lupercalia. His emulation of his grandfather in being an upfront and free-spoken (apertus) speaker found infamous expression in him going full frontal with the crowd at the Lupercalia — not a feat grandad can rival, as Cicero notes with sardonic alliteration (numquam nudus).

tuum hominis simplicis pectus: Cicero here compresses two related constructions, the possessive adjective (tuum pectus) and the possessive genitive (hominis simplicis pectus). See Pinkster (2015: 1066): ‘Since possessive adjectives to some extent function as genitives of corresponding personal pronouns, it is not surprising to find instances where a descriptive Noun Phrase in the genitive functions as apposition with a possessive adjective’. ‘We saw your chest — the chest of a plain (sincere / simple-minded) human being’. Like apertus, simplex can have a range of meanings: in a positive sense it is a virtual synonym of apertus (‘sincere’); Cicero in fact often uses the two terms together (see the passages cited above). But it can also have the pejorative sense of ‘plain’, ‘naive’, ‘simple minded’, ‘unsophisticated’. The oscillation between a literal and a metaphorical sense also applies to pectus, which can mean both ‘chest’ and ‘personality’: so Antony revealed not just his body, but also what kind of person he is.

vidimus: first person plural perfect active indicative. Cicero identifies with the senatorial collective that witnessed Antony’s strip-show.

respondebisne ad haec, aut omnino hiscere audebis?: aut extends the first part of the question by rephrasing it slightly: ‘Will you reply to this, or, put differently, will you dare to open your mouth at all?’

ecquid reperies ex tam longa oratione mea cui te respondere posse confidas?: ecquid is an interrogative pronoun in the neuter accusative, the object of reperies (second person singular future indicative active) and the antecedent of the relative pronoun cui. The assonance (ecquid  cui) and alliteration (reperies  respondere) might have been part of the reason why Cicero changes the construction of respondere + ad in the previous sentence to respondere + dative (cui) here. te and respondere are the subject accusative and infinitive of an indirect statement governed by confidas: ‘Will you find anything in this long speech of mine which you are confident that you can reply to?’

§ 112: The Senate Under Armour

As we are nearing the end of the speech, Cicero once again calls attention to the time and the location of the (imaginary) delivery of the speech — a specific moment on 19 September in the temple of Concordia — before opening up, via a strong rebuke of Antony’s decision to bring along an armed body guard, to discuss the relation between statesmen and the wider civic community, with a special focus on the issue of ‘personal safety’. As far as he is concerned, a politician who inspires hatred within his community has to fear for his life even if he tries to protect himself with the help of armed forces; the only effective source of security is the goodwill of the citizens. The passage therefore prepares the ground for the following paragraphs, where Cicero warns Antony that a tyrannical individual who rules through fear and the threat of violence must in turn fear for his life — since he ought to be killed. At the end of the paragraph Cicero accordingly shifts from a critique of Antony’s past behaviour and remonstrance against his present actions to the possibility of impending retribution. The sketch of a scenario situated in the not-too-distant future coincides with a corresponding change in rhetorical register: invective flak morphs into cautionary counsel as not-so-veiled threat.

Sed praeterita omittamus: hunc unum diem, unum, inquam, hodiernum diem, hoc punctum temporis, quo loquor, defende, si potes: the imperative defende takes three all but synonymous accusative objects, arranged asyndetically and climactically and standing in antithesis to praeterita: (i) hunc unum diem; (ii) unum … hodiernum diem; (iii) hoc punctum temporis. In the course of the tricolon Cicero homes in on the (it bears repeating: imaginary) moment of delivery with ever-greater precision.

praeterita: praeteritus is the perfect passive participle of praetereo — ‘to pass by, go past’, here used as a noun (in the neuter accusative plural): ‘the matters that have occurred’ = ‘the past’.

omittamus: exhortative subjunctive: ‘let us disregard past matters’.

inquam: first person singular present indicative active.

hoc punctum temporis, quo loquor: the antecedent of the relative pronoun quo (an ablative of time) is punctum: ‘this moment of time in which I am speaking’.

defende, si potes: a simple condition in the present, though with an imperative defende (rather than an indicative) in the apodosis. Cicero’s tone is challenging and derisive: the idea that Antony can actually defend himself for his current actions is dismissed as laughable even before his transgressions are spelt out.

cur armatorum corona senatus saeptus est, cur me tui satellites cum gladiis audiunt, cur valvae Concordiae non patent, cur homines omnium gentium maxime barbaros, Ituraeos, cum sagittis deducis in forum?: a sequence of four questions all introduced by cur in asyndetic sequence.

cur armatorum corona senatus saeptus est: the basic meaning of corona is ‘wreath’ or ‘crown’ but it was also used to refer to a throng of people surrounding a place. With reference to the civic sphere, this tended to be ‘a circle of bystanders, spectators, or listeners’, around a court of law or the senate; in military matters, it was ‘a ring of soldiers’ surrounding an enemy position. Here Cicero paints the picture of the Roman senate being encircled by a cordon of armed troops instructed to enforce Antony’s whim and will. The sentence features a descending number of syllables: the instrumental ablative phrase armatorum corona (4 + 3) overpowers the subject and verb (assimilated by means of alliteration, homoioteleuton and sound-play) senatus saeptus est (3 + 2 + 1). The theme recurs at the opening of the pseudo-Ciceronian Epistula ad Octauianum, where the anonymous author in the context of a declamatory exercise postures as ‘Cicero’ and uses words and phrases employed by Cicero against Antony to inveigh against Caesar Octavianus: cohortibus armatis circumsaeptus. The first such enclosure of the senate by an armed force occurred in 88 BCE under Sulla (Valerius Maximus 3.8.5).

cur me tui satellites cum gladiis audiunt: a satelles (our English ‘satellite’ comes from it) is someone who (obsequiously) attends a higher ranking person, as bodyguard, escort, or partisan supporter; the word often has derogatory connotations (as here). Cicero likes a crowd, but not if it consists of Antony’s henchmen with their swords (drawn?).

cur valvae Concordiae non patent: already in § 19, Cicero drew attention to the paradox of armed henchmen forming a divisive presence at a senate meeting in the temple of Concordia. Now towards the end of the speech he again gestures to the setting of the senate meeting at which we are to imagine he delivered Philippic 2, i.e. the temple of Concordia. As Clark (1999: 173–74) points out, ‘This “speech” illustrates the potential richness of the temple of Concordia as an ideological location, but it also demonstrates that, had Cicero actually delivered it in Concordia’s temple, as he purported to be doing in the circulated tract, he would in fact have conceded little to Concordia’s presence in terms of the aggressiveness of his speech’. The fact that the temple doors are closed may owe itself to the need to protect the senators from Antony’s supporters, but also signals that under Antony the conduct of civic business, which relies on open spaces and a sense of community, has been severely compromised through the threat of violence — and the absence of concord. The temple of Concordia was also the scene of his zenith speech, the fourth oration against Catiline (see below).

cur homines omnium gentium maxime barbaros, Ituraeos, cum sagittis deducis in forum?: homines omnium gentium maxime barbaros is the elaborate accusative object of deducis: ‘of all foreign peoples the most savage human beings’. omnium gentium is a partitive genitive — indicating the whole of ‘barbaria’ (gentes here = foreign ethnicities) of which the Ituraei form the most savage part. Ituraeos stands in apposition to homines … barbaros. The Ituraeans lived in the Levantine region; some served as archers in the auxiliary forces of the Roman army. See Caesar, Bellum Africum 20.1, Virgil, Georgics 2.448, Lucan 7.230 and 514–15, further Isaac (2017: 144–46).

praesidi sui causa se facere dicit: Cicero imagines an explanatory interjection by Antony, held contemptuously in the third person (sui  se  dicit). The indirect statement governed by dicit features a subject accusative (se) and an infinitive (facere), but lacks a direct object (supply something like hoc). causâ (in the ablative) is as usual placed behind the genitive it governs: ‘for the sake of his protection’.

non igitur miliens perire est melius quam in sua civitate sine armatorum praesidio non posse vivere?: the verb is the copula (non) est with (miliens) melius as predicate: ‘is it not a thousand times better…’ The subjects are the two infinitives perire and non posse + vivere coordinated by quam (following on the comparative melius) ‘to perish than not to be able to live…’

sed nullum est istud, mihi crede, praesidium: caritate te et benevolentia civium saeptum oportet esse, non armis: Cicero now addresses Antony’s justification from a different perspective — what Antony considers a safeguard, he claims, is not one. Instead of arms, Antony should endeavour to be enclosed for his safety by the affection and goodwill of the citizens. The subject of the impersonal verb oportet is the indirect statement te (subject accusative) saeptum esse (infinitive): (for safety) ‘it is necessary that you are surrounded by…’. caritate, benevolentia, and armis are instrumental ablatives. Not coincidentally, Cicero uses the same verb (saepire) to express the idea of a protective wall, which he had used earlier on with reference to Antony’s bodyguard in a threatening sense. A wall of love should replace a wall of arms. Cicero may be alluding contrastively to the Fourth Catilinarian, where he believes himself to be protected by the safest possible wall as long as the people remember his heroic service on behalf of the commonwealth (4.23: … tutissimo me muro saeptum esse arbitror). Put differently, Cicero says: ‘a tyrant should die — and lives dangerously’, irrespective of his armed guards. The idea that the best protection for a ruler is the devotion of his subjects becomes a topic in imperial panegyric. See Seneca, de Clementia 1.19.6 (unum est inexpugnabile munimentum, amor civium — with civium as subjective genitive), Pliny, Panegyricus 49.3 (building on Seneca), Panegyrici Latini 2.47.3–4, 3.24.5 (Arma igitur et iuvenes cum gladiis atque pilis non custodiae corporis sunt, sed quidam imperatoriae maiestatis sollemnis ornatus. quid enim istis opus est, cum firmissimo sis muro civici amoris obsaeptus? — ‘Therefore the weapons and the young men with swords and pikes are not guardians of your body, but a kind of solemn adornment of your imperial majesty. What need is there for these, when you are surrounded by the firmest of walls, the citizens’ love?’), Claudian 8.281–82, 24.221–22. See Nixon and Rodgers (1994: 427).

mihi crede: this colloquial ‘metadirective imperative’ (‘believe me’), designed to reinforce the truth of the utterance (Spevak 2010: 210), does not affect the syntax of the surrounding sentence. It signals Cicero’s shift in focus from past and present to the future, from invective to admonition, which continues in the following paragraph. The word order mihi crede (rather than crede mihi) is noteworthy. See Adams (2016: 204): ‘Imperatives are often placed in the first position and unemphatic pronouns for their part do not as a rule come in first position. The order mihi crede is thus abnormal on two counts, and cannot but have given special emphasis to the personal pronoun. Crede mihi was more self-effacing than the reverse order, and it would only have been a person of marked self-esteem who would regularly have written mihi crede’. Cicero does so several times in short order: see also § 113, § 116, and § 118.

§ 113: The Res Publica Has Watchers!

The previous paragraph ended on the dictum that only a life in harmony with the wider civic community guarantees personal safety. Cicero now explores what this general truth implies for the occasion at hand. A range of political agents (both individual and collective) and entities (populus Romanus, gubernatores rei publicae, res publica, adulescentes nobilissimi) are ready to take a stand against Antony if he persists in behaving like an enemy of the state. Cicero’s tone — set up by another instance of mihi crede — remains aggressively didactic. But the paragraph ends on another gnomic pronouncement. Cicero differentiates between (desirable) pax and (intolerable) servitus and asserts that libertas, without which there cannot be any genuine pax, is a value to die for. His discourse here rises above the level of invective and turns into a personal manifesto about the principles of communal life. His guiding ideas, which will resonate throughout his peroration, are worth a more detailed look, in particular his notion of ‘freedom’ (libertas), which has a complex historical pedigree. Cicero combines at least four different ways of thinking with and about the term:80

(1) Legal: ancient Rome (just like ancient Greece and other cultures across the ancient Mediterranean) was a slave society, and the institution of slavery shaped every aspect of Greco-Roman life (including literature).81 The most basic meaning of libertas thus concerns the legal distinction between free persons and slaves (with ‘freed(wo)men’, i.e. individuals who had once been enslaved but gained manumission, an intermediary category). As the Digest of Justinian puts it: ‘all humans are either free or slaves’ (1.5.3: omnes homines aut liberi sunt aut servi). This fundamental social divide ultimately informs all the other meanings of libertas. The foundational importance of the distinction between free / slave for the cultural imaginary of ancient Rome invited metaphorical exploitation, even when legal status was not literally at issue. Invoking libertas implied that those deprived of it were reduced to the lowest form of existence, that of slaves. (Modern definitions often work with the idea that slavery is tantamount to ‘social death’.)

(2) Political: in the civic sphere, two distinct understandings of libertas — one associated with the ruling elite, the other with the people — shaped the practice of politics in republican Rome:

  1. for members of Rome’s ruling elite libertas consisted primarily in the absence of a tyrant or, put differently, the preservation of oligarchic equality that ensured more or less equal opportunities to vie for offices and military commands in the pursuit of power and glory.
  2. for the citizen body more generally, libertas manifested itself primarily in a set of rights and privileges that found expression in the notion of popular sovereignty (not least in passing legislation), the exercise of suffragium (voting), the magistracy of the tribune of the plebs (tasked originally and primarily with protecting the common citizen from abuse by magistrates), and the right to provocatio (i.e. the right of each citizen to appeal to the people against a magistrate who threatened to enforce capital or physical punishment).

With Caesar’s rise to the dictatorship and his subsequent assassination, both of these traditions fused in interesting ways: they found emblematic articulation in both Caesar’s self-promotion and that of his assassination.

To start with Caesar: his decision to go to war, he argued, was in part designed to protect libertas, in both the elite and the popular understanding of the term. He pulls off this conceptual caper at Bellum Civile 1.22, which features himself in conversation with one of his senatorial adversaries, Lentulus Spinther:

Cuius orationem Caesar interpellat: se non maleficii causa ex prouincia egressum, sed uti se a contumeliis inimicorum defenderet, ut tribunos plebis in ea re ex civitate expulsos in suam dignitatem restitueret, ut se et populum Romanum factione paucorum oppressum in libertatem uindicaret.

[Caesar interrupts his speech, observing that he had not crossed the boundary of his province with any evil intent, but to defend himself from the insults of his enemies, to restore to their position the tribunes of the people who had been expelled from the civic community in the course of this affair, and to assert the freedom of himself and the Roman people who were oppressed by an oligarchic clique.]

Caesar contends that the senatorial grouping around Pompey formed an oligarchic clique that abused their power so as to deprive himself and the Roman people of their libertas. In his case, the lack of freedom consisted in the refusal of Pompey and his followers to recognize his achievements according to meritocratic criteria: Pompey, so Caesar insinuates in Bellum Civile 1.3, comported himself like a tyrant who would not tolerate a rival, thus violating the principles of oligarchic equality, equal opportunity, and the economy of merit that made up the ‘optimate’ understanding of freedom in politics. (Elsewhere, he prefers to make this point with reference to his dignitas — a notion indicating (earned) rank and standing within the ruling elite, which he here uses with reference to the constitutional status of the tribunes of the people.)82 The ‘popular’ loss of liberty (and notional enslavement of the people) manifested itself above all in the flight of some of the tribunes of the plebs (one of them Antony) from Rome to Caesar’s camp because they feared for their safety after interceding in senatorial proceedings on Caesar’s behalf: this ‘expulsion’ of magistrates charged with upholding the rights of the common citizen served Caesar as a perfect pretext to pursue his personal agenda by violent means: he could claim to be protecting the rights, privileges, and sovereignty of the Roman people.83 Caesar continued to style himself as a proponent of liberty even after gaining autocratic power. Following the Battle of Munda in 45 BCE, the senate honoured him with the title Liberator for having freed Rome from the evil of civil war.84

Caesar’s assassins, of course, tried to pull off exactly the same conceptual move as the dictator: they w(h)etted their daggers to restore libertas both for themselves and the commonwealth at large, with freedom from tyranny benefitting both the ruling elite (senatus) and the people (populus Romanus). By choosing the label liberatores for the assassins, Cicero might even have been inspired by Caesar’s — from his point of view perverse — cooption of the title Liberator and the ideology of libertas as ideological veneer for his tyrannical regime. It also enabled him to maintain that the assassins freed Rome from Caesar (and are therefore deserving of the highest praise) without, however, restoring libertas to the res publica since Caesar’s underlings, in particular Antony, remain in charge.85

(3) Philosophical: after Caesar all but eliminated political libertas (as understood by Cicero), Cicero began to invest in a philosophical notion of freedom, which, in its purest form, does not require a political (or any other) context for its realization: it rests entirely in an internal disposition of virtuous self-sufficiency, embodied by the Stoic sage. Cicero elaborates the idea in his fifth Paradoxon Stoicorum, which maintains Solum sapientem esse liberum, et omnem stultum servum (‘That only the wise man is free, and that every foolish man is a slave’). The fools include all those who are beholden to desires — whether for wealth, political office, or military commands. In his treatise On Duties (de Officiis), composed at the same time as the Philippics, Cicero builds on this Stoic notion of libertas, to develop an understanding of freedom tailor-made for the political struggles of the day. This sense of liberty continues to denote primarily an individual’s ‘freedom from (enslaving) passions’, in particular the desire for glory (Off. 1.68):86

cavenda etiam est gloriae cupiditas, ut supra dixi; eripit enim libertatem, pro qua magnanimis viris omnis debet esse contentio. nec vero imperia expetenda ac potius aut non accipienda interdum aut deponenda non numquam.

[As I said before, we must also beware of desire for glory; for it robs us of liberty, and in defence of liberty a high-spirited man should stake everything. And one ought not to seek military commands; rather they ought sometimes to be declined, sometimes to be resigned.]

In this passage, Cicero turns the individual who desires gloria and imperia (read: a potential tyrant) into a slave of his passions, while at the same time elevating libertas (both philosophical and, importantly, as we shall see, political) into a priceless good for those ‘high of spirit’. For in this treatise, Cicero imbricates philosophical reflection about the self and its disposition with politics broadly conceived as part of a larger effort to come to terms with the paradox that the same desire for glory and military commands that animated Rome’s rise to imperial greatness also caused the downfall of the libera res publica. To combat the threat of tyranny (a regime that annihilates libertas) Cicero here hammers out a civic ethics in which each individual citizen is co-responsible for protecting the community and the commonwealth from enslavement. The contemporary thrust of his philosophical reflections resonates throughout the work, as in Off. 2.23–24  — a passage worth quoting in full not least since it also offers a philosophical take on the discussion of security in the previous paragraph:

Omnium autem rerum nec aptius est quicquam ad opes tuendas ac tenendas quam diligi nec alienius quam timeri. praeclare enim Ennius ‘Quem metuunt oderunt; quem quisque odit, perisse expetit’. multorum autem odiis nullas opes posse obsistere, si antea fuit ignotum, nuper est cognitum. nec vero huius tyranni solum, quem armis oppressa pertulit civitas ac paret cum maxime mortuo interitus declarat, quantum odium hominum valeat ad pestem, sed reliquorum similes exitus tyrannorum, quorum haud fere quisquam talem interitum effugit. malus enim est custos diuturnitatis metus contraque benivolentia fidelis vel ad perpetuitatem. (24) sed iis, qui vi oppressos imperio coercent, sit sane adhibenda saevitia, ut eris in famulos, si aliter teneri non possunt; qui vero in libera civitate ita se instruunt, ut metuantur, iis nihil potest esse dementius. quamvis enim sint demersae leges alicuius opibus, quamvis timefacta libertas, emergunt tamen haec aliquando aut iudiciis tacitis aut occultis de honore suffragiis. acriores autem morsus sunt intermissae libertatis quam retentae. quod igitur latissime patet neque ad incolumitatem solum, sed etiam ad opes et potentiam valet plurimum, id amplectamur, ut metus absit, caritas retineatur. ita facillime quae volemus et privatis in rebus et in re publica consequemur. etenim qui se metui volent, a quibus metuentur, eosdem metuant ipsi necesse est.

[But, of all motives, none is better adapted to secure influence and hold it fast than love; nothing is more foreign to that end than fear. For Ennius says admirably: ‘Whom they fear they hate. And whom one hates, one hopes to see him dead.’ And we recently discovered, if it was not known before, that no amount of power can withstand the hatred of the many. The death of this tyrant, whose yoke the state endured under the constraint of armed force and whom it still obeys more humbly than ever, though he is dead, illustrates the deadly effects of popular hatred; and the same lesson is taught by the similar fate of all other despots, of whom practically no one has ever escaped such a death. For fear is but a poor safeguard of lasting power; while affection, on the other hand, may be trusted to keep it safe for ever. But those who keep subjects in check by force would of course have to employ severity — masters, for example, toward their servants, when these cannot be held in control in any other way. But those who in a free state deliberately put themselves in a position to be feared are the maddest of the mad. For let the laws be never so much overborne by some one individual’s power, let the spirit of freedom be never so intimidated, still sooner or later they assert themselves either through unvoiced public sentiment, or through secret ballots disposing of some high office of state. Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered. Let us, then, embrace this policy, which appeals to every heart and is the strongest support not only of security but also of influence and power — namely, to banish fear and cleave to love. And thus we shall most easily secure success both in private and in public life. Furthermore, those who wish to be feared must inevitably be afraid of those whom they intimidate.]

To appreciate the pronounced political dimension of Cicero’s philosophy, it is important to note that the philosophical understanding of freedom, i.e. being in rational control of one’s emotions, does not inevitably lead to socio-political activism, an interest in justice, and a diehard dedication to keeping the commonwealth ‘free’. The Stoic thinker Seneca the Younger (4 BCE–65 CE), for instance, writing during the reign of the emperor Nero, uses libertas in the philosophical sense to propound the paradox that a master beholden to his passions is enslaved, whereas his slaves, if they manage to master their emotions and live according to reason, are free. Given that this philosophical freedom is freedom in its supreme form, it is immaterial for Seneca if these philosophically free individuals are legally speaking slaves or live in conditions of political servitude (under a tyrannical regime).87 By contrast, in On Duties Cicero repeatedly criticizes this kind of ‘self-centred’ philosophical conception of freedom as not good enough: for him, self-control in the form of freedom from noxious desires forms the basis for political engagement designed to ensure the libertas of the civic community and the res publica as well.

In the Philippics, Cicero, from the outset, looks back in admiration to the assassination of Caesar as a blow for liberty.88 Initially, Antony gave hopeful signs that he would support the restoration of a free and peaceful citizenry and a senate unaffected by anxieties (Phil. 1.4, 31). But (according to Cicero) it soon emerged that the aimed for the same tyrannical power and position (dominatus) as Caesar, enslaving the people in a reign of fear. Against this threat, Cicero marshals the Philippics to establish a universal consensus among the assassins of Caesar (hailed as liberators — liberatores), the rest of the senate, and the people of Rome (as well as Caesar’s adoptive son Caesar Octavianus) to ensure the (political) annihilation of the fledging tyrant Antony in the name of (universal) peace and freedom. The end of Philippic 2 (starting with § 113) is the first time this agenda comes fully into focus. Libertas will remain a rallying cry throughout the rest of the corpus, as Cicero tries to muster support for the violent reconstitution of the libera res publica through the killing of any would-be tyrant, irrespective of whether he addressed the senate or the people (though with certain differences in emphasis). As Cowan (2008: 151) notes, ‘Libertas in the Philippics was used broadly enough to accommodate widely differing understandings of the term (both “optimate” and popularis visions are accounted for) and could, therefore, serve as a platform for trying to generate consensus’. Our paragraph is an excellent illustration of the way in which Cicero tries to merge the elite and the popular sense of (political) libertas: he starts out by imagining the Roman People as the political agent who will confront Antony (Eripiet et extorquebit tibi ista populus Romanus…), but then gradually shifts to the senatorial collective (utinam salvis nobis), singles out generic individuals to whom the Roman people entrust the helm of the state (habet populus Romanus ad quos gubernacula rei publicae deferat), and ends up by hailing members of the traditional senatorial elite (adulescentes nobilissimi) who will take decisive political action on behalf of the commonwealth. (The choice of adulescentes is suitably vague and can conveniently comprise both the liberators who killed Caesar and Caesar’s adoptive son Octavian — elsewhere referred to as iuvenis.)

It is important to note, however, that Cicero’s claim that the Roman People were much invested in libertas as a political ideal was by and large wishful thinking: ‘Cicero’s assertion to the contrary notwithstanding [Fam. 10.12.4; Phil. 3.32], it is on the whole true that after the assassination of Caesar the Roman People showed little enthusiasm for the cause of republican freedom’.89

Eripiet et extorquebit tibi ista populus Romanus, utinam salvis nobis!: Cicero inverts natural word order, leading with the verbs (the futures eripiet and extorquebit — note the alliteration, enhanced by the intervening et — before adding the indirect object (tibi), the direct object (ista), and the subject (populus Romanus). The front-loading of the action is particularly pronounced because the verbs also push back the demonstrative pronoun ista, which, in referring back to armis, provides the bridge to the previous sentence. The popular uprising, so Cicero’s word order optimistically suggests, will be fell and swift.

utinam salvis nobis!: a nominal ablative absolute salvis nobis (nominal, since it consists of an adjective (salvis) and a personal pronoun (nobis), without a participle) that the particle utinam turns into a wish: ‘I wish we [Cicero refers to himself and his senatorial peers] remain unharmed’. Translators tend to interpret the threat to the physical safety of the senators as coming from the popular uprising: ‘may we be unscathed in the process!’ (Lacey); ‘I pray that we do not perish in the process’ (Shackleton Bailey); and a feeling of unease on Cicero’s part about the people taking matters into their own hands (however welcome their disarmament of Antony’s henchmen might be) is in line with his elite prejudices elsewhere. But this reading produces an odd clash with the following sentence where Antony is clearly identified as the source of danger, and it might thus be better to understand utinam salvis nobis in the sense of ‘may we (still) be unharmed [sc. by you and your henchmen] (when that moment comes)’.

sed quoquo modo nobiscum egeris, dum istis consiliis uteris, non potes, mihi crede, esse diuturnus: irrespective of the way in which Antony will have ended up dealing with Cicero and the senate (nobiscum — picking up utinam salvis nobis) at present (egeris is second person singular future-perfect active of ago, egi, actum), he will get his comeuppance from the people (non potes, mihi crede, esse diuturnus) if he continues his tyrannical agenda (istis consiliis is the ablative object of the deponent uteris, in the second person singular present indicative).

etenim ista tua minime avara coniunx, quam ego sine contumelia describo, nimium diu debet populo Romano tertiam pensionem: Cicero chooses to evoke Antony’s violent death via a gratuitous insult to his wife Fulvia. The conceit here is to imagine her in significant debt to the Roman people, of which she has so far paid two of three instalments quite cheerfully (cf. the deeply ironic minime avara) through (causing) the slaughter of her first two husbands, i.e. Clodius and Curio. The third and final payment, however, i.e. the killing of Antony, is by now long overdue (cf. nimium diu; note the paronomasia minime ~ nimium). Antony, Clodius, and Curio form a disreputable set throughout the speech, with Antony in line for the same fate as Fulvia’s previous spouses. See esp. 2.11: quis autem meum consulatum praeter te et P. Clodium qui vituperaret inventus est? cuius quidem tibi fatum, sicuti C. Curioni, manet, quoniam id domi tuae est quod fuit illorum utrique fatale (‘Who was ever heard abusing my consulship except yourself and Publius Clodius, whose fate awaits you, as it awaited Gaius Curio, since you have that in your house which proved fatal to them both?’). In the Philippics, Fulvia’s hallmarks are greed (avaritia) and cruelty (crudelitas): see 1.33, 2.93, 2.95, 3.4, 3.10, 3.16–17, 4.4, 6.4, and 13.18, with Delia (1991).

habet populus Romanus ad quos gubernacula rei publicae deferat: Cicero again places the verb upfront (‘The Roman People do have…’). He does not spell out the accusative object of habet (and antecedent of ad quos), inviting the reader to supply a word or phrase (most simply eos — or perhaps something conceptually more elaborate such as principes civitatis). The reference to politically motivated violence in the following sentence (ulta est) suggests that the liberators, and in particular Brutus and Cassius, are foremost in Cicero’s mind. But when it comes to taking on the helm of the state, he will surely also have thought of himself.

ad quos … deferat: the subjunctive is potential — in the event of a popular uprising that would disempower Antony, there would be other (= better) statesmen around to take the tiller.

gubernacula rei publicae: the literal meaning of gubernaculum is ‘steering-oar of a ship’, here used pars pro toto in what is known as the ‘ship-of-state metaphor’: see § 92 above.

qui ubicumque terrarum sunt, ibi omne est rei publicae praesidium vel potius ipsa res publica, quae se adhuc tantum modo ulta est, nondum reciperavit: qui is a connecting relative (= et ii), ubicumque a relative adverb (corresponding with ibi), here construed with the partitive genitive terrarum: ‘And wherever in all the lands these men are, there is…’ In the main clause, Cicero brings into play an issue that preoccupied him greatly throughout his career: what does the res publica ultimately consist in — and where is it located?

Depending on his genre of writing and (constantly changing) personal circumstances, he gave different answers to these questions. Initially, his geopolitical outlook on the world was emphatically Romanocentric. Unlike his military-minded senatorial peers, who vied with each other over provincial commands and considered the periphery the place where they could acquire wealth and reputation, Cicero preferred the civic setting of Rome to advance his career. During his consulship he even bargained away a potentially lucrative provincial command in return for support from his consular colleague in the suppression of Catiline’s conspiracy. In 58–57 BCE, he had to adjust his views when he was forced into exile — an experience that ruptured the way in which his personal and political identity had so far interlocked with a physical presence in Rome. Instead, he became invested in a new form of megalomania, claiming that the Roman commonwealth joined him in exile, according to the principle ubi ego, ibi res publica. The notion that one individual ‘embodied’ the commonwealth made it possible to uproot the res publica from the urban topography of power — the physical setting for the institutions and procedures that comprised Roman republican politics. (Not coincidentally, this personification of the commonwealth is a figure of thought appealing to exiles: compare the claim of Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970) during WW II that the ‘true France’ was not the regime of Nazi-collaborators located in Vichy, but his exile government and the resistance.)

Still, Cicero was thoroughly miserable in exile and could not wait to return to Rome. When civil war broke out a few years later and Pompey planned to pull a similar stunt, taking the res publica into exile with him, Cicero strongly objected to Pompey’s decision to cede Rome and Italy to Caesar. This policy of retreat, he argued in the first letter to Atticus after the crossing of the Rubicon, ignored the salient fact that the res publica was rooted in the religious topography of the city (Att. 7.11.3 = 134 SB):

redeamus ad nostrum. per fortunas, quale tibi consilium Pompei uidetur? hoc quaero, quid urbem reliquerit; ego enim ἀπορῶ. tum nihil absurdius. urbem tu relinquas? ergo idem, si Galli uenirent. ‘non est’ inquit ‘in parietibus res publica.’ at in aris et focis. ‘fecit Themistocles.’ fluctum enim totius barbariae ferre urbs una non poterat. at idem Pericles non fecit anno fere post quinquagesimo, cum praeter moenia nihil teneret; nostri olim urbe reliqua capta arcem tamen retinuerunt.

[To come back to our friend. What do you think, for heaven’s sake, of Pompey’s line — I mean, why has he abandoned Rome? I don’t know what to make of it. At the time it looked the most senseless thing. Abandon Rome? I suppose you would have done the same if the Gauls were coming? ‘House walls’ he might answer ‘don’t make the Republic.’ But altars and hearthstones do. ‘Themistocles did it.’ Yes, because one city could not stand against the tide of the whole barbarian world. But Pericles did not half a century later, though he held nothing except the town walls. Our own forebears still held the citadel after the rest of Rome was in enemy hands.]

In other words, he had no idea of the military realities, then — hopeless as Demosthenes.

At the time of the Philippics, circumstances had changed yet again. The civic unrest in Rome in the wake of Caesar’s assassination forced Brutus and his fellow conspirators to leave Rome and then also Italy. As Cicero notes at Philippic 1.6: patriae liberatores urbe carebant ea cuius a cervicibus iugum servile deiecerant… (‘the liberators of their country were banished from the city whose neck they had released from slavery…’). With the centre in the violent grasp of Antony and his henchmen and the republican heroes operating on the imperial periphery, Cicero’s res publica needs to put her travelling boots back on. See Hodgson (2017: 216) (with reference to Dawes 2008: 271): ‘Whereas Phil. 1 provided concrete criticism and recommendations, this formula returns us to the realm of a wandering res publica, which “defies locality and a definite semantic meaning” and is defined more in “moral rather than constitutional” terms’.

quae se adhuc tantum modo ulta est, nondum reciperavit: a powerful personification of the res publica, who is the subject of the reflexive ulta est and reciperavit (se is to be construed with both verbs). More commonly, human agents avenge, liberate, or restore the commonwealth (also in passive construction with implied human agency: ‘the commonwealth ought to be restored’, ‘with the commonwealth having been restored’). Here Cicero says that the commonwealth avenged itself, but has not yet regained its former strength. The relative clause raises the question whether the assassination of Caesar has been sufficient to restore the commonwealth to its pre-Caesarian form — or whether further drastic actions are required. The matter receives constant airing in his contemporary correspondence.

habet quidem certe res publica adulescentis nobilissimos paratos defensores: Cicero again starts with the verb, reinforced by the particle quidem and the adverb certe: ‘Yes, indeed, the commonwealth does surely have…’. paratos defensores is the accusative object, with adulescentis (= adulescentes) nobilissimos in apposition: ‘defenders ready to act, young men of the most illustrious ancestry’. (nobilis denotes a person with a consul in their lineage.) The first individuals who come to mind are Cassius and Brutus (both in their early forties — but Roman age labels are quite flexible: see above 132–33), but Cicero may also have been thinking of Caesar Octavianus (23 September 63 BCE–19 August 14 CE), who was 19 at the time.

quam volent illi cedant otio consulentes; tamen a re publica revocabuntur: volent and revocabuntur are in the future tense, cedant is in the present subjunctive: ‘Those may withdraw as they will wish, with a mind to preserving peace. (consulentes is the present active participle in the nominative plural, used intransitively and governing the dative otio.) Cicero refers to the decision of the conspirators to withdraw from Italy out of fear that their presence would result in renewed outbreak of civil warfare. He appreciates their desire to maintain peace, but at the same time evokes the scenario of a call to arms issued by the commonwealth: tamen a re publica revocabuntur again personifies the res publica, which here appears in the ablative of agency.

et nomen pacis dulce est et ipsa res [est] salutaris; sed inter pacem et servitutem plurimum interest: Cicero is all for peace: the word itself is sweet and the actual state (res) beneficial. But there is a world of difference (cf. the superlative plurimum) between peace and servitude. He already explored the thematic nexus of libertas / servitus and pax towards the end of Philippic 1, where he praises Antony for his initial commitment to concord and collaboration in the hours and days right after Caesar’s assassination, which freed the senate and the rest of the citizenry from fear and manifested itself not least in his willingness to hand over his son as a ‘hostage of peace’ (pacis obses) to the conspirators holed up on the Capitol (31). And in the following paragraph he programmatically endorses libertas as foundation for pax (Phil. 1.32: Tum denique liberati per viros fortissimos videbamur, quia, ut illi voluerant, libertatem pax consequebatur). It remains a permanent theme throughout the rest of the corpus. See e.g. Phil. 8.12: Sed quaeso, Calene, quid tu? servitutem pacem vocas? (‘But I ask you Calenus, what do you mean? do you call slavery peace?’).

nomen pacis: pacis is an ‘appositional genitive’ with nomen, used instead of apposition to specify the contents of the noun on which it depends. English prefers apposition: ‘The word “peace”’.

ipsa res: i.e. ‘peace’.

plurimum interest: plurimum is the neuter accusative singular used adverbially, a so-called ‘internal’ or ‘adverbial’ accusative modifying the verb — here specifying the extent of the difference between pax and servitus: it could not be greater.

pax est tranquilla libertas, servitus [est] postremum malorum omnium non modo bello sed morte etiam repellendum: postremum, the superlative of posterus here construed with the partitive genitive malorum omnium, is a (substantival) adjective in the neuter singular functioning as complement to the subject of the sentence (Pinkster 2015: 768): ‘servitude is the worst of all evils…’. It is further modified by the gerundive repellendum (‘to be rejected…’). bello and morte are most poignantly understood as ablatives of price: ‘not only at the price of war but even of death’ (Shackleton Bailey).

In 48 BCE, after Pompey’s defeat at Pharsalus and his death shortly thereafter, Cicero decided to cease fighting and return to Caesar-occupied Italy. As a result, he found himself forced to justify a conciliatory stance towards Caesar that grated with those who wanted nothing to do with Caesar and continued to fight and ended up either dead (like Cato) or in exile, banned by dictatorial edict from re-entering Italy. His uncompromising attitude towards Antony may be explained in part as an (over-)reaction to his earlier willingness to play ball with a tyrannical regime. Cicero seems to have told himself ‘Never Again!’. The possibility of tolerable subservience that he chose for himself under Caesar has ceased to be an option. In the Philippics, the alternative is stark: either death for Antony and liberty for the commonwealth or Antony triumphant and slavery and/or death for Rome. Our passage here has many parallels in the later speeches.90

§ 114: Caesar’s Assassination: A Deed of Unprecedented Exemplarity

The paragraph falls into two halves. In the first (Quod si se  … impetum fecerunt), Cicero looks back: he assesses the assassination of Caesar against similar events in Roman history, reaching the conclusion that the recent act of tyrannicide outshines all precedents. In the second (quod cum ipsum factum … esse contemnendam), he explores the future implications of what the liberators did: they set an example for others to imitate and will reap immortality through everlasting glory as a reward for their deed. Both topics — exemplarity and immortality through memory — warrant some comments. (A third ‘big idea’ Cicero here gestures to in passing is the notion of conscience: see below).

Exemplarity: in ancient Rome, historical precedents mattered — as did the desire to outperform ancestral benchmarks of excellence, i.e. doing something unprecedented, not least to leave a mark on the collective memory of the civic community (and perhaps become exemplary in turn). A good way to validate controversial deeds was to argue that — however novel — they were in conformity with ancestral norms, re-enacting, at least partially, exemplary deeds from the past. In this paragraph, Cicero tries to situate the murder of Caesar within Rome’s exempla-discourse, citing various historical precedents for the use of violence as a legitimate means in domestic politics. He thereby gives the impression that expelling or killing a (would-be) tyrant is a norm and practice co-extensive with the Roman republic. That was not the case: politically-motivated murder (and its justification) were hotly contested issues in Roman political thought, but only from 133 BCE onwards, when the pontifex maximus Scipio Nasica, without the backing of the consuls, took the lead in bludgeoning Tiberius Gracchus and several hundred of his supporters to death on the charge that he aimed for tyranny. This was a watershed moment in Roman politics, which arguably ruptured the republican political system irredeemably: with the genie of extreme physical violence as a means of politics out of the bottle, instances of politically-motivated bloodshed and episodes of full-scale civil war continued to occur until Octavian’s final victory over Antony at Actium in 31 BCE, which signaled the end of the libera res publica. ‘Tyrannicide’ never became consensual: ‘It was, in fact, an illegal procedure advocated as a last-ditch solution by the late-Republican optimates, and as such, it was opposed and contested by large sections of Roman society’ (Pina Polo 2006: 72). In the Philippics and On Duties (de Officiis), Cicero does his best to validate the practice both in historical and ethical terms. Desperate times call for desperate measures (or do they?), and Cicero acts as cheerleader to endow them with a veneer of historical and moral legitimacy (should we chime in?).

Moreover, when it comes to the issue of politically motivated violence, Cicero suggests that the ground has shifted. In the past, violent action was directed against either a king who ruled at a time when kingship was an acceptable form of government at Rome (the case of Tarquinius); or aristocrats who aspired to kingship during republican times, but were unable to realize their ambition before being stopped dead in their tracks (the cases of Sp. Cassius, Sp. Maelius, and M. Manlius, see on § 84). By contrast, Brutus, Cassius, and their co-conspirators killed someone who had managed to instal himself as king at a time when this form of rule was deemed to be utterly unacceptable. They thereby rose up against a novel, extreme form of tyranny. The lesson here is complex: their glory is greater than those who did away with earlier strongmen — yet Cicero also implies that they acted (too) late. Their blow for freedom shines the brighter since they rescued Rome from actual enslavement; but Caesar ought to have been eliminated before he could impose tyranny on Rome. In the wake of this unprecedented achievement, a return to what Cicero here portrays as the ancestral practice of killing would-be tyrants (like Antony) emerges as doubly sanctioned by the ambiguous exemplary value of Caesar’s assassination, which is praiseworthy for its unprecedented benefits in terms of restoring freedom to the community, but implicitly blameworthy since drastic action ought to have been taken much earlier. Put differently, there is a call to arms built into the text.91

Immortality: Traditionally, aristocratic immortality in republican Rome consisted in ensuring posthumous presence within various modes and media of commemoration. The patrician-plebeian ruling elite that emerged in the late fourth and early third centuries developed specific ways of constituting and remembering the past (a prime source of identity and legitimacy in pre-modern societies), which chimed well with, indeed was an integral part of, the political system and its peculiar culture. Rooted in individual families but oriented towards the res publica at large, these commemorative practices focused on the preservation of the names of former office-holders and their deeds and took place in a variety of media and settings. Imagines, tituli, stemmata, laudationes and pompae funebres formed a complex system of storage and reactivation, permanent display and ephemeral enactments, perfectly aligned with the competitive instincts of, and need for cohesion within, an oligarchic ruling elite that placed equal emphasis on merit and past family achievement within a wider civic context and invested heavily in intense communication with the larger populace. Successful magistrates and generals further inscribed their names and achievements into the topography of the city by means of monuments and statues, the display of spoils and strategically dedicated temples; together, the houses of noble families and the public spaces of the city thus formed an impressive, if by and large uncoordinated ‘landscape of memory’.92

But as we have seen (above 350–52) in the course of the last centuries of the republic, imaginative Romans explored the interface (or indeed the possibility of cross-over) between the human and the divine sphere, which opened up new modes of posthumous existence, with Caesar finally managing outright deification in the eyes of many. Cicero too flirts with various unconventional forms of life after death (in some of his works he asserts that the souls of the most outstanding statesmen are immortal) and, as we have seen, makes at least some concession to Caesar’s new status to keep Octavian sweet — even though he rejects the notion that Caesar has become a god elsewhere in the strongest possible terms. (One of the ways in which he negotiated the divide between human and divine is the strategic use of the ambiguous attribute divinus: see below.) In our paragraph, he alludes to the idiom and imagery of apotheosis (perhaps not least so as not to fall too short of the new standards of elevation set by Caesar and his followers) before claiming everlasting fame for the liberators as the proper republican reward for their outstanding deed.

Extra information:

Tyrannicide and anti-tyrannical activism also have a distinguished Greek background, both in practice (Harmodius and Aristogeiton: see Azoulay 2017) and theory (in particular Plato, who in turn inspired his disciple Chion of Heraclea to put theory back into practice with the assassination of the tyrant Clearchus who ruled in his hometown). Cicero eloquently evokes the heroization that tyrant-slayers received in Greece at pro Milone 80. Milo, Cicero argues, deserves similar reverence for his slaying of the quasi-tyrant Clodius:

Graeci homines deorum honores tribuunt eis viris qui tyrannos necaverunt — quae ego vidi Athenis, quae in aliis urbibus Graeciae! quas res divinas talibus institutas viris, quos cantus, quae carmina! prope ad immortalitatis et religionem et memoriam consecrantur — vos tanti conservatorem populi, tanti sceleris ultorem non modo honoribus nullis adficietis sed etiam ad supplicium rapi patiemini? confiteretur, confiteretur, inquam, si fecisset, et magno animo et libenter, se fecisse libertatis omnium causa quod esset non confitendum modo sed etiam vere praedicandum.

[The Greeks accord honours of the gods to those men who have slain tyrants. What have I seen at Athens and in other cities of Greece! What religious adoration put in place for such men! What musical compositions, what songs! They are worshipped almost at the level of observance and commemoration distinctive of immortality. Will you not only not bestow any honours upon the preserver of such a great people and the avenger of such a great crime, but even suffer him to be dragged away for capital punishment? Had he done the deed, he would confess — indeed confess proudly and gladly — that he had done for the sake of everyone’s liberty a deed that he ought not merely to confess, but in truth proclaim far and wide.]

Quod si se ipsos illi nostri liberatores e conspectu nostro abstulerunt, at exemplum facti reliquerunt: quod as connecting particle — here introducing a simple conditional clause stating a fact (hence the indicative) — often has an adversative force: ‘But if…’. The main clause begins with the particle at, which ‘after negative or [as here] virtually negative conditional clauses’ (OLD s.v. at 13b) means ‘at least’, ‘at any rate’, ‘yet’. The si-clause contains stylistic touches, such as alliteration (si se, ipsos illi) and chiasmus (nostri liberatores  conspectu nostro), and a deluge of pronouns or pronominal adjectives (se, ipsos, illi, nostri, nostro), which only partly compensates for the fact that Cicero here expresses a truth he considers awkward and unfortunate: to preserve peace, the liberators had left the capital. But they did leave behind a ‘benchmark of excellence ready for imitation’ or, more succinctly, a ‘precedent’ (exemplum): the killing of the tyrant (facti: genitive singular of the perfect passive participle of facio dependent on exemplum), lit. ‘the example of the deed’ (= of that which has been done).

liberatores: Cicero’s standard term for the conspirators throughout the Philippics, starting with 1.6. The label turns Caesar into a tyrant who had enslaved the Roman people. This view was by no means consensual — quite the contrary: ‘In the immediate aftermath of his death, Caesar alternated between tyrant, martyred popular politician, and god, but a solution was not quickly found’ (Flower 2006: 108).

illi quod nemo fecerat fecerunt: fecerat is pluperfect, fecerunt perfect: ‘they did what no-one had (ever) done (before)’. The sentence neatly picks up on the phrase exemplum facti: fecerat and fecerunt form a polyptoton with facti (see also below: impetum fecerunt, quod … ipsum factum, pulcherrimi facti); and Cicero’s assertion that the killing of Caesar was unprecedented reinforces exemplum. There were other attacks on (would-be) tyrants (as Cicero goes on to explain), but they all differed in important respects from what the liberators achieved.

Tarquinium Brutus bello est persecutus, qui tum rex fuit cum [regem] esse Romae licebat: the oldest and most famous instance of opposition to tyranny was the expulsion of the last of the legendary kings of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, by Lucius Iunius Brutus, which initiated a period of warfare (bellum) between Rome and the supporters of Tarquinius, as he tried to regain his throne. (Cicero here conflates the act of expulsion with the subsequent warfare.) But the parallel is not precise: Tarquinius’ reign belongs to a period back when (tum … cum) kingship still happened to be an acceptable form of government at Rome, which it ceased to be afterwards.

Extra information, courtesy of John Henderson:

The idea that Brutus was repeating historical destiny by ‘regicide’ was lurking in his family self-image all along, and the important distinction that Tarquin wasn’t assassinated in the ‘regifuge’, so the libera res publica wasn’t born in civil bloodshed, was blurred right away, as in Horace’s version of what he claims became a popular anecdote about the showdown between the liberators and the second triumvirate, Satires 1.7.33–35: ‘per magnos, Brute, Deos te oro, qui reges consueris tollere, cur non hunc Regem iugulas? operum hoc, mihi crede, tuorum est’ (‘By the great gods, I implore you, Brutus, since it is in your line to take off kings, why not slay this Rex? This, believe me, is the task of your family’). Didn’t both Brutuses ‘get rid of kings’!

Tarquinium Brutus bello: the inversion of accusative object and subject places the emphasis on the tyrant and yields an alliteration (Brutus bello).

cum [regem] esse Romae licebat: licebat is an impersonal verb (‘it was permitted…’), taking the infinitive (regem) esse as subject. (regem needs to be supplied from the previous clause; for the accusative, see Gildersleeve & Lodge 420: ‘The Infinitive, when it stands alone, involves an indefinite Accusative Subject, and the Predicate of that Subject is … in the Accusative Case’. Hence: regem esse = to be king.)

Romae: locative (‘in Rome’).

Sp. Cassius, Sp. Maelius, M. Manlius propter suspicionem regni appetendi sunt necati: hi primum cum gladiis non in regnum appetentem, sed in regnantem impetum fecerunt: Cicero moves on to the classical trio of so-called adfectatores regni (‘men aiming for kingship’), who all came to a sticky end: see above § 84. hi refers to the liberatores. Spurius Cassius (thrice consul, twice triumphator, suspected of royal ambition, hence killed — in 485 BCE), Spurius Maelius (a plebeian suspected of using his wealth to install himself as king — hence killed in 439 BCE by the Master of the Horse Gaius Servilius Ahala), and Marcus Manlius Capitolinus (consul in 392 BCE, rescued Rome from the Gauls in 390/387 BCE, helped by the geese — hence Capitolinus, killed in 384 BCE for harbouring royal ambition) were all still in the process of striving for kingship (cf. regnum appetentem — ‘someone striving for kingship’, which applies to all three). By contrast, the liberators attacked someone who was already ruling as king (regnantem).

The three exempla Cicero mentions form an ‘authoritative and canonical’ set of Roman citizen traitors from early republican times (Flower 2006: 45), who acquired new relevance in the wake of 133 BCE (the year Scipio Nasica killed Tiberius Gracchus and many of his supporters under suspicion of tyranny: see above). As Flower (2006: 46) explains:

… the final versions [of their stories] produced in the late Republic, which are the only ones now extant, had been substantially recast to reflect the political conflicts and the violence of contemporary Rome. While this observation affects much of the account of the early Republic, it applies in a very special way to these three incidents, which had also come to be associated with each other in an ahistorical manner. It was precisely the stories of the disgraced traitors that took on a completely new relevance with the death of the Gracchi and throughout the series of conflicts that marked the most prominent stages of the Republic’s decay, from the introduction of the senatus consultum ultimum to justify the attack on Gaius Gracchus and his associates, to the civil carnage under Marius and Sulla, to the outlawing of Catiline and the summary execution of his supporters. Assassination and judicial murder became commonplace in a development that could only be made sense of with reference to ancestral precedents.

propter suspicionem regni appetendi: the genitive dependent on suspicionem, here the gerundive phrase regni appetendi, expresses the evil suspected (OLD s.v. 1b). The gerundive (a verbal adjective) is passive, so a literal translation would be ‘because of the suspicion of kingship to-be-aspired-to’ = of aspiring to kingship. (The equivalent gerund expression would be … regnum appetendi, with regnum the accusative object of the verbal noun appetendi.)

sunt necati: = necati sunt (third person plural perfect indicative passive).

hi … non in regnum appetentem, sed in regnantem impetum fecerunt: Cicero uses the idiom impetum facere in + accusative, which here consists of the two present active participles appetentem and regnantem. So the first in goes with appetentem and not with regnum (which is the accusative object of appetentem). As Mayor (1861: 155) notes: ‘Genitives and adverbs are often interposed between the preposition and its case; occasionally the object governed by an adjective or [as here] participle comes between it and the preposition on which it depends’.

primum: the adverb (‘for the first time’) underscores that the liberators were setting a precedent.

cum gladiis: Cicero equips the assassins with proper swords (onward Roman soldiers…) rather than the daggers they will have used, perhaps in part to counter the label sicarii (‘murderers that use daggers to stab innocent victims in the back’) that some attached to the conspirators. In addition, as John Henderson points out to us, this phrase has been a pulse throughout the speech — since § 8, let alone 19, and goes straight to the ‘point’ that this scenario may look like it’s a normal meeting of the senate but actually it’s a war zone in a city that’s a war zone, where the gunfree zone of metropolis and temple are tellingly violated.

quod cum ipsum factum per se praeclarum est atque divinum, tum expositum ad imitandum est, praesertim cum illi eam gloriam consecuti sint quae vix caelo capi posse videatur: quod is a connecting relative (= et id), modifying ipsum factum: ‘and this very deed…’. cum does not introduce a subordinate clause, but correlates with tum: this adverbial cum introduces ‘one of two co-existing or co-ordinate circumstances of actions’, with tum indicating ‘the more particular or noteworthy circumstance’: OLD s.v. cum2 14: ‘not only’, ‘as well as’. In the main clause (quod … est) Cicero plods along heavily and emphatically with homoioteleuton in -um: c-um, ips-um, fact-um, praeclar-um, divin-um, t-um, exposit-um, imitand-um, before lifting (his prose) off into the sky from praesertim cum onwards. In this and the following sentence Cicero outlines two different kinds of reward that Caesar’s assassins received for their deed: external recognition that manifests itself in quasi-deification; and internal satisfaction deriving from the awareness of having performed an act of outstanding heroism.

praeclarum … atque divinum: The semantics of divinus range from the literal (in the sense of ad deum, divinitatem pertinens a deo originem ducens) to the metaphorical. In the latter sense divinus loses its essential association with the divine and becomes synonymous with more mundane markers of distinction such as praeclarus, eximius, or mirabilis.93 Suggestive ambiguities arise when the adjective is made to refer not to the gods, but to human beings, their capacities, or their deeds (as is the case here). In those instances it remains unclear whether the literal or the metaphorical meaning of the attribute is in force. The ambiguity appealed to Cicero, both here and elsewhere in his oeuvre: it enabled him to evoke the possibility of deification or association with the divine in the literal sense, without committing himself to a mode of religious elevation to which he strongly objected. See further Gildenhard (2011: 266–67).

expositum ad imitandum est: factum continues to be the subject, expositum … est is the verb: the deed ‘has been put on display for imitation / to be imitated’. The preposition ad (followed by a gerundive) expresses purpose.

illi: the liberatores.

quae vix caelo capi posse videatur: the antecedent of quae is eam gloriam, ‘which seems scarcely able to be contained within the vault of heaven’ (Lacey). Cicero underscores the hyperbole via alliteration (caelo capi) and qualifies it with his favourite hedge (videatur). Cf. Att. 14.6.2 = 360 SB (12 April 44), cited below. In his correspondence with Atticus, he is much more outspoken and calls the liberators ‘heroes’ (= semi-divine; see Att. 14.4.2 = 358 SB: nostri autem ἥρωες quod per ipsos confici potuit gloriosissime et magnificentissime confecerunt — ‘Our heroes achieved all that lay with themselves most gloriously and magnificently’) or even ‘gods’ (14.11.1 = 365 SB, cited below). This (Greek) idiom would have been inappropriate in an oration. (Despite the fact that Philippic 2 was not delivered, Cicero tends to abide by the protocols of the genre, partly to maintain the fiction of live performance.)

etsi enim satis in ipsa conscientia pulcherrimi facti fructus erat, tamen mortali immortalitatem non arbitror esse contemnendam: the subject of the etsi clause is satis, which governs — across a massive hyperbaton — the partitive genitive fructûs. The hyperbaton entails the thematically appropriate juxtaposition of facti and fructus, reinforced by alliteration. The verb of the main clause is non arbitror which introduces an indirect statement with immortalitatem as subject accusative and esse contemnendam as infinitive. mortali is a dative of agency with the gerundive. Its placement right next to immortalitatem produces yet another figura etymologica in this paragraph. immortalitas glosses gloria (‘eternal fame’) from the previous sentence.

in ipsa conscientia pulcherrimi facti: in his philosophical writings and orations, Cicero invested much in the notion of conscience (conscientia) — understood as an instance that assesses innocence and guilt in absolute, objective terms and rewards the former while punishing the latter. Here the liberators reap the benefit of knowing that they performed a ‘most beautiful’ deed — or so Cicero asserts, ignoring those for whom the murder might have looked suspect, erroneous, or even criminal.

Extra information:

Cicero’s correspondence with Atticus from April and May 44 BCE bears eloquent witness to how divided the Romans were over Caesar’s assassination. Some constituencies are portrayed as being overjoyed. See e.g. Att. 14.6.2 = 360 SB (12 April 44):

nihil enim tam σóλοικον quam tyrannoctonos in caelo esse, tyranni facta defendi. sed vides consules, vides reliquos magistratus, si isti magistratus, vides languorem bonorum. exsultant laetitia in municipiis. dici enim non potest quanto opere gaudeant, ut ad me concurrant, ut audire cupiant mea verba de re <publica>.

[It is the acme of incongruity that the tyrannicides should be lauded to the skies while the tyrant’s actions are protected. But you see our Consuls and the rest of our magistrates, if these people are magistrates, and the apathy of the honest men. In the country towns they are jumping for joy. I cannot tell you how delighted they are, how they flock to me, how eager they are to hear what I have to say on the state of the country.]

In Rome, however, people were hard at work singing the praises of the dead dictator and condemning his murderers (Att. 14.11.1 = 365 SB; 21 April 44):

ἀκολασíαν istorum scribis. an censebas aliter? equidem etiam maiora exspecto. cum [equidem] contionem lego de ‘tanto viro,’ de ‘clarissimo civi,’ ferre non queo. etsi ista iam ad risum. sed memento, sic alitur consuetudo perditarum contionum, ut nostri illi non heroes sed di futuri quidem in gloria sempiterna sint sed non sine invidia, ne sine periculo quidem. verum illis magna consolatio conscientia maximi et clarissimi facti; nobis quae, qui interfecto rege liberi non sumus? sed haec fortuna viderit, quoniam ratio non gubernat.

[You write about the licence of these people. What did you expect? I look for still worse to come. When I read a public speech about ‘so great a man,’ ‘so illustrious a Roman,’ I can’t stomach it. Of course this sort of thing has become a joke. But remember that is how the habit of pernicious speech-making grows, so that those heroes, or rather gods, of ours will no doubt be glorious to all eternity, but not without ill will or even danger. However they have a great consolation in the consciousness of a grand and glorious deed. What have we, who are not free though the king is slain? Well, we must leave all this to chance since reason has no say.]

In a letter from 22 April 44, he expresses his worries about the Caesarians in the company of Caesar Octavianus and counterbalances their threats by resorting to the same language of external renown and immortality in memory as well as internal bliss on account of the conscientia of their deed as here (Att. 14.12.2 = 366 SB):

ita multi circumstant, qui quidem nostri<s> mortem minitantur, negant haec ferri posse. quid censes cum Romam puer venerit, ubi nostri liberatores tuti esse non possunt? <qui> quidem semper erunt clari, conscientia vero facti sui etiam beati.

[There are too many around him (sc. Octavian). They threaten death to our friends and call the present state of things intolerable. What do you think they will say when the boy comes to Rome, where our liberators cannot go safe? They have won eternal glory, and happiness too in the consciousness of what they did.]

But the lives of the assassins continued to be in danger. By the beginning of May, he praises Dolabella for his intervention against Caesarian rioters and ps-Marius’ monument to Caesar (above 349–50) (Att. 14.15.1 = 369 SB, 1 May 44):

sustulisse mihi videtur simulationem desideri, adhuc quae serpebat in dies et inveterata verebar ne periculosa nostris tyrannoctonis esset.

[He seems to me to have quashed that affectation of regret for Caesar which was spreading from day to day. I was afraid it might become a danger to our tyrannicides if it took root.]

Julius Caesar had made sure he was an indispensable part of the future — so many directly owed him so much.

§ 115: Looking for the Taste of (Genuine) Glory…

In his treatise On Duties, Cicero explains the reasons for the catastrophic self-laceration of republican Rome as follows (Off. 1.26):

Maxime autem adducuntur plerique ut eos iustitiae capiat oblivio cum in imperiorum honorum gloriae cupiditatem inciderunt. Quod enim est apud Ennium: ‘nulla sancta societas nec fides regni est’, id latius patet. Nam quidquid eius modi est in quo non possint plures excellere, in eo fit plerumque tanta contentio ut difficillimum sit servare ‘sanctam societatem’. Declaravit id modo temeritas C. Caesaris, qui omnia iura divina et humana pervertit propter eum quem sibi ipse opinionis errore finxerat principatum. Est autem in hoc genere molestum, quod in maximis animis splendidissimisque ingeniis plerumque existunt honoris imperii potentiae gloriae cupiditates.

[Above all, however, most are brought to the point of becoming oblivious to the demands of justice when they lapse into desire for military commands, political offices, and glory. Ennius’ words ‘No inviolate community nor trust exists under kingship’ have a wider application. Any aspect, in which it is impossible for many to be pre-eminent, tends to generate such competition that it becomes exceedingly difficult to preserve an ‘inviolate community’. The rashness of Gaius Caesar has demonstrated this recently: he overthrew all divine and human laws on account of the single rule that he had imagined for himself out of an erroneous belief. What irritates in this scenario is the fact that often the desires for public office, military command, raw power, and glory exist in the greatest souls and the most outstanding talents.]

Cicero’s argument here unfolds against the backdrop of Rome’s political culture, which he evokes at both the beginning and the end of the passage: imperia (military commands) and honores (public offices) are the two principal means of attracting praise (laus) and acquiring renown (gloria), a core ambition of Rome’s ruling elite. Yet, shockingly, he presents these desirables and their pursuit as fostering civil strife (cf. tanta contentio), the rise of a single ruler (principatus), and the perversion of anything that is right and just. In effect, Cicero here questions nothing less than the basic principles of Roman republican culture, defined as it was by competition among members of the elite for magistracies, military commands, and battlefield glory: in his view, this desire for political success and public recognition of excellence undermines the bonds that hold civic communities together once it becomes oblivious to the demands of justice. Proceeding from the general to the specific, he first introduces the spectre of kingship or tyranny by means of a quotation from Ennius, before invoking recent Roman history and the breakdown of the libera res publica through Caesar’s bloody usurpation of power. In his passionate, yet utterly misguided pursuit of single rule he rashly overturned all divine and human laws; his despotism thereby emerges as irreconcilably at variance with, indeed destructive of, the basic qualities that unite and animate a commonwealth: sancta societas and fides.

According to Cicero, then, the ultimate root of the evils affecting Roman politics are the wrongheaded priorities, mistaken beliefs in what is desirable, and blatant ignorance of what truly matters (cf. opinione erroris ~ erroneous belief) that affect and poison the conduct of his senatorial peers, who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of misguided glory. The (rhetorical) distinction between gloria as conventionally, but — so Cicero argues — wrongly, conceived and ‘true glory’ (vera gloria, vera laus) enables him to invalidate the cultural certainties that his fellow citizens lived (and died) by. He gave the matter sustained discussion in several of his philosophical writings, including the Tusculan Disputations, the de Officiis, and, presumably, the lost de Gloria.94 It figures prominently in the speech on behalf of Marcellus — a piece of epideictic rhetoric that gives thanks to Caesar in person for pardoning Marcellus, one of his most inveterate enemies, a [blatantly un-civic] act which Cicero hails as ‘truly’ much more glorious than any of Caesar’s [really laudable] military victories. And it is a constant presence in the Philippics, from the first oration onwards. Addressing Antony’s colleague in the consulship Dolabella towards the end of the speech, he is willing to grant the consular duo, nobiles homines that they are and motivated by great aspirations, that they do not aim (as some wrongly suppose) ‘for wealth obtained by violence and power unendurable by the Roman people’ (opes violentas et populo Romano minime ferendam potentiam); rather, they genuinely desire the affection of their fellow-citizens and glory (caritatem civium et gloriam) (1.29). He then proceeds to (re-)define gloria as follows (1.29):95

Est autem gloria laus recte factorum magnorumque in rem publicam meritorum, quae cum optimi cuiusque, tum etiam multitudinis testimonio comprobatur.

[Glory, moreover, consists in the public acclaim derived from honorable deeds and great services benefiting the commonwealth, approved by the testimony of the best and also by that of the multitude.]

This definition of gloria, which places the emphasis squarely on civic ethics rather than martial prowess in insisting that deeds only result in renown (gloria) if they meet moral criteria (cf. recte factorum), benefit the commonwealth, and find the approval of the elite and the people at large, is strikingly unorthodox. Unfortunately, Antony, says Cicero, only has a dim understanding of what true glory entails: he acquired some when he abolished the office of dictator, but then squandered it all in his ignorance (Phil. 1.33):

Num te, cum haec pro salute rei publicae tanta gessisses, fortunae tuae, num amplitudinis, num claritatis, num gloriae paenitebat? unde igitur subito tanta ista mutatio? … illud magis vereor, ne, ignorans verum iter gloriae, gloriosum putes plus te unum posse quam omnes et metui a civibus tuis quam diligi malis. quod si ita putas, totam ignoras viam gloriae. carum esse civem, bene de re publica mereri, laudari, coli, diligi gloriosum est; metui vero et in odio esse invidiosum, detestabile, imbecillum, caducum.

[Did you, after these great achievements for the welfare of the commonwealth, regret your fortune, your distinction, your renown, your glory? Why, then, did you experience such a sudden and significant change of heart? … What I more fear is that, blind to the true path of glory, you may think it glorious to possess in your single self more power than all, and to be feared by your fellow-citizens. If you think so, you are totally ignorant of the true way to glory. To be a citizen dear to all, to deserve well of the commonwealth, to be praised, courted, loved, is glorious; but to be feared and an object of hatred is invidious, detestable, a proof of weakness and decay.]

In contrast, the assassins know what true glory consists in (Phil. 2.5, 33, 86, 114, 117) — as does Caesar Octavianus, unlike his adoptive father (Phil. 5.49). Cicero closes rank against Antony around the notion of two variants of glory — genuine renown (such as that enjoyed by the liberators) that thrives in a functioning commonwealth and its perverse counterfeit pursued by Caesar and now Antony, which is based on a confusion of power and glory.

In our paragraph, Cicero replays the ending of the first Philippic: he again begins by praising Antony for abolishing the office of dictator, only to dwell on his subsequent U-turn, caused by his pathological inability to grasp the true nature of glory.

Recordare igitur illum, M. Antoni, diem quo dictaturam sustulisti: recordare is the second person imperative singular of the deponent recordor, going with the vocative M. Antoni. The antecedent of the relative pronoun quo (an ablative of time) is diem: ‘Recall that day on which…’. For Antony’s motion that outlawed the act of proposing anyone to be appointed dictator see § 91 above.

pone ante oculos laetitiam senatus populique Romani, confer [eam] cum hac nundinatione tua tuorumque: Cicero delivers two further imperative blows (pone, confer) in asyndetic sequence, inviting him to visualize (pone ante oculos) the joy he managed to spark when he scrapped the dictatorship and compare it to his disgraceful pursuit of tyrannical self-enrichment shortly thereafter: he refers to Antony putting the res publica up for sale for personal gain (see § 92 above). His close friends and relatives profited from the process as well (§ 93: sunt ea quidem innumerabilia quae a tuis emebantur non insciente te: ‘the items bought by persons close to you, and not without your knowledge, are innumerable’). laetitiam is the accusative object of both imperatives. The comparison is either (a) compressed or (b) imprecise. (a) Cicero asks Antony to compare joy with an (unspecified) negative emotion such as grief (dolor) at the trafficking (nundinatio) in favours that he and those close to him engaged in after the Ides of March. (b) Cicero compares the emotional reaction to a laudable deed (laetitia) with a contemptible action (nundinatio).

The governing word of tuorum is nundinatione: the -que after tuorum thus coordinates the possessive adjective tua and the possessive genitive tuorum. This is one of only six instances in which Cicero ends a sentence on the enclitic -que (Kraus 1992: 321).

In his philosophical dialogue Tusculan Disputations, Cicero classifies ‘excessive’ (gestiens) laetitia (together with aegritudo, metus, and libido) as a mental disturbance to be avoided (Tusc. 4.8, elaborated at 4.13). In his orations, he tends to be rather less po-faced about emotions, and ‘joy’ (laetitia — though not the excessive variety) becomes another criterion for dividing the world into ‘the good’ and ‘the bad’. Cicero is here in part responding to Antony’s assertion that he experienced heinous and homicidal glee (laetitia) at the deaths of Clodius (2.21: at laetatus sum. quid ergo? in tanta laetitia cunctae civitatis me unum tristem esse oportebat?) and Caesar (2.29: tu autem, omnium stultissime, non intellegis, si, id quod me arguis, voluisse interfici Caesarem crimen sit, etiam laetatum esse morte Caesaris crimen esse?). Instead, he endorses a salvific variant of reciprocal joyfulness on the part of both public benefactors and their beneficiaries, which he already outlined at the end of the first Philippic. See Phil. 1.30 (addressing Dolabella): Quem potes recordari in vita illuxisse tibi diem laetiorem, quam cum, expiatio foro, dissipato concursu impiorum, principibus sceleris poena affectis, urbe incendio et caedis metu liberata, te domum recepisti? (‘What day can you recall in life that shone upon you more joyously than that in which, when the Forum had been purged, concourse of impious wretches scattered, the ringleaders of the crime punished, the city delivered from burning and the fear of massacre, you betook yourself home?’) There were moments when Antony participated in this economy: when he surrendered his son as hostage to the conspirators, the senate and the people of Rome were overjoyed (Phil. 1.32: quo senatus die laetior, quo populus Romanus?). But he has since then lost his way, exulting over the destruction of normal senatorial proceedings (§ 109); and he remains unaffected by the joy of right-minded citizens over civic-minded actions.96

senatus populique Romani: senatus populusque Romanus (here in the genitive singular dependent on laetitiam) is how Rome’s political community self-identified. The City Council of Rome (Comune di Roma) still uses SPQR as its official emblem today: you’ll find it embossed on all manhole covers, for instance.

tum intelleges, quantum inter lucrum et laudem intersit: the interrogative adverb quantum (how much?) introduces an indirect question (hence the subjunctive intersit). There are various ways to reproduce the deftly alliterated phrase lucrum et laudem in English: gain and glory, profit and plaudits, riches and renown, cash and kudos, lucre and laudation, Mammon and merit… It’s the same principle of verbal homophony / conceptual polarity as ‘chalk and cheese’. As Lacey (1986: 241) notes, ‘laudem starts a series of echoes’: see verae laudis gustatum, laus, laudo in the following sentences.

sed nimirum, ut quidam morbo aliquo et sensus stupore suavitatem cibi non sentiunt, sic libidinosi, avari, facinerosi verae laudis gustatum non habent: Cicero launches into an analogy (ut  sic): just as people whose taste buds are affected by illness have lost the ability to savour food, so various kinds of scumbags are unable to appreciate true glory. The diagnosis of socio-pathologies is a standard move in Cicero’s invective repertory. quidam (masculine nominative plural: ‘some’) is the subject of the well-crafted ut-clause: note the chiastic hendiadys morbo aliquo et sensus stupore, the persistent s-alliteration (sensus, stupore, suavitatem, sentiunt) and the figura etymologica (sensus  sentiunt). quidam correlates with the three adjectives in asyndetic sequence used as nouns in the sic-clause: libidinosi (‘the libidinous’), avari (‘the greedy’), and facinerosi (‘the criminal’).

morbo aliquo et sensus stupore: morbo and stupore are causal ablatives best understood as a hendiadys: ‘because of numbness of perception caused by some disease’. The two nouns are modified, respectively, by a pronominal adjective (aliquo) and an adnominal genitive (sensus): the arrangement is chiastic.

sed si te laus adlicere ad recte faciendum non potest, ne metus quidem a foedissimis factis potest avocare?: the conditional sequence cast as a rhetorical question offers Antony two possible reasons for behaving in a civic-minded fashion: in the (negated) si-clause Cicero mentions the ideal scenario only to rule it out: it consists in the prospect of renown (laus) exercising sufficient positive pull towards acting in the right way (adlicere ad). Conversely, the apodosis outlines the minimalist alternative of acceptable behaviour, i.e. fear (of punishment) holding Antony back from the vilest deeds (a … avocare correlates with adlicere ad…), which, so the rhetorical question implies, Antony does not meet either. The superlative foedissimis is deliberate: Cicero does not even demand abstention from foeda facta, just those that are vile in the extreme. The figura etymologica is profoundly pessimistic: ad recte faciendum is mentioned as a counterfactual possibility, the foedissima facta are established facts.

Extra information:

Cicero’s choice of adlicere to capture the attraction of laus to which Antony is not susceptible is curious since it is a verb he elsewhere associates with dubious sensual pleasure. See for instance pro Murena 74, where he mockingly impersonates Cato the Younger objecting to the practice of wooing voters through the provision of sensual pleasures:

At enim agit mecum austere et Stoice Cato, negat verum esse adlici benivolentiam cibo, negat iudicium hominum in magistratibus mandandis corrumpi voluptatibus oportere. ergo, ad cenam petitionis causa si quis vocat, condemnetur? ‘Quippe’ inquit ‘tu mihi summum imperium, tu summam auctoritatem, tu gubernacula rei publicae petas fovendis hominum sensibus et deleniendis animis et adhibendis voluptatibus? utrum lenocinium’ inquit ‘a grege delicatae iuventutis, an orbis terrarum imperium a populo Romano petebas?’

[Cato, however, deals sternly with me like a true Stoic. He says that it is wrong to promote good-will with food and warp men’s judgement by means of pleasure in an election of magistrates. Are we then to condemn everyone who gives an invitation to dinner for this purpose? ‘Am I,’ he says, ‘going to have you seek supreme power, supreme authority, the very government of the State by pandering to men’s senses, bewitching their minds and plying them with pleasures? Were you asking,’ he says, ‘a gang of spoilt youths for a job as a pimp or the Roman people for world dominion?’]

As Fantham (2013: 180) notes: ‘the accumulation of strong sensual vocabulary like adlicere and delenire, associated with pleasure, reinforces the contrast between the solemn metaphor of gubernacula and the image of the pander appealing to susceptible young men’.

iudicia non metuis? si propter innocentiam [non metuis], laudo; sin propter vim [non metuis], non intellegis, qui isto modo iudicia non timeat, ei quid timendum sit?: Cicero imagines a gesture of dismissal on Antony’s part in response to the threat of legal proceedings. In turn, he once more affirms his ethics of praise, contrasting personal integrity (innocentia), which entails laus, with the reliance on the illegitimate use of physical force (vis). He ends by stressing that Antony’s trust in vis is misplaced: as history shows, strongman-politics results in violent resistance. ei is dative of authorship (with the gerundive timendum sit) and the antecedent of qui. Translate in the following order: non intellegis quid ei timendum sit (indirect question), qui…. Dependence on vis, far from quelling fear, ought to generate it.

§ 116: Caesar You Are Not!

Cicero continues to insist that Antony ought to be very much afraid for his life if he continues his pernicious politics of fear. His bodyguard, meant to keep would-be assassins at bay, will not help him in the long run — or, indeed, much longer: even those close to him will sooner than later rise up against him. What renders this apparently counterintuitive claim plausible is the spectre of Caesar: those who did him in included some who had benefitted most from his benevolence. Built into the fate of Caesar is an a-fortiori caution: if even someone like him ran foul of people who ought to have been beholden to him, Antony is all the more likely to meet a nasty end, inferior to the dead dictator as he is in every conceivable respect. Cicero drives home the point that Antony is no Caesar by launching into an enumeration of the qualities of the dead dictator, carefully tempering praise with blame. As in the de Officiis (1.26, cited above 418), Cicero figures Caesar as an outstanding talent who ended up deploying his abundant gifts to the detriment and destruction of Rome’s civic community — and so then got what he had coming.97

A key issue that Cicero struggles with in this paragraph is Caesar’s preternatural ability to render others beholden to him — through personal charm, exceptional generosity, or services rendered that put others in social and financial debt to him. Roman political culture was much invested in reciprocal relations, captured in idiom and imagery of duties, services, gratitude, expectations of reciprocity, as well as binding obligations and loyalties (beneficium, gratia, amicitia, fides, officia, obligare, etc.). Social and financial debts blurred into each other. Those who loaned out money exercised a significant degree of influence over the borrower, who was duty bound to oblige his business associate in other respects as well — beyond the repayment of the debt.98

Caesar purported to perform within this traditional paradigm when he distributed favours and largesse to his friends, acquaintances, and the people more generally and exploited the opportunity to generate social and financial debt through interest free loans to the hilt.99 But the most extreme form of ‘obliging’ someone is to exercise leniency towards a (conquered) enemy and spare his life. This scenario, which could only arise in situations of civil conflict, wrecked republican conventions: there is no way to ever properly pay back someone who has saved one’s life — one is forever indebted to (and hence metaphorically beholden, perhaps even enslaved, and certainly resentful of) this person.100

How did aristocrats deal with Caesar’s willingness to spare their lives when caught fighting against him? Some simply ignored it and returned to battle — until they were captured again. Caesar mocks such repeat captives badly in his Bellum Civile. Cato, a man of principle, resorted to a more drastic action: terminal withdrawal from the dictator. In Plutarch’s Life of Cato the Younger Cato categorically rejects the notion of begging Caesar for mercy, either directly or through intermediaries — even though he does not force others to adopt the same uncompromising stance: ‘If I were willing to be saved by grace of Caesar, I ought to go to him in person and see him alone; but I am unwilling to be under obligations to the tyrant for his illegal acts. And he acts illegally in saving, as if their master, those over whom he has no right at all to be the lord’ (66).101

This prehistory to the Ides of March generated the awkward paradox that many of the assassins had their own lives previously spared by the very person whom they murdered. Cicero invested a lot of effort in formulating an ethics of murder, which legitimized the deed as justified — indeed required — tyrannicide, rather than the cold-blooded and ungrateful killing of a lenient benefactor. A large part of his case rests on the denial that a tyrant can engage in meaningful socio-political relationships, let alone an economy of reciprocal obligations. He stands outside any form of human community, indeed is a wild beast that is human in appearance only — a monster that ought to be killed as a matter of civic ethics. See On Duties (de Officiis) 3.32.

Quod si non metuis viros fortis egregiosque civis, quod a corpore tuo prohibentur armis, tui te, mihi crede, diutius non ferent: quod here has adversative force ‘but if…’ and the indicative metuis implies that the protasis of the conditional sequence introduced by si captures the facts: Antony is unafraid. The second quod is causal (‘because…’). The subject of the main clause is tui (the masculine nominative plural of the possessive adjective tuus, here used as a noun): ‘your men / supporters’; the verb (ferent) is in the future tense; te is the accusative object.

viros fortis egregiosque civis: the -que after egregios links viros and civis. The design of this majestic accusative object (placed emphatically at the end of the quod-si-clause) is chiastic (noun + adjective :: adjective + noun), here enhanced by grammar: the first phrase features a second declension noun and a third declension attribute, the second a second declension attribute and a third declension noun (fortis and civis are the alternative accusative plural forms of the third declension: = fortes, cives). The phrase constitutes a powerful hendiadys: Cicero is not referring to two distinct kinds of persons — ‘brave men and outstanding citizens’ — but persons who possess two qualities: ‘men who are brave and outstanding citizens’.

quod a corpore tuo prohibentur armis: the subject of the quod-clause are the brave and pre-eminent citizens: ‘because they are kept away from your body by means of weapons’. Cicero’s adjustments to natural word order (which would have been quod a corpore tuo armis prohibentur) results in a dramatic postponement of the decisive armis (an ablative of means) and an iconic enactment of the meaning in the design: the verb prohibentur placed in-between a corpore tuo and armis does what it says it does, i.e. keeping the arms away from Antony’s body. Essentially, Cicero is saying: ‘without your bodyguard, Antony, you are a dead man!’ This isn’t exactly a promising premise for disarmament — and stands in latent contradiction to his earlier complaint that Antony is filling the city with armed henchmen.

tui te … non ferent: Cicero operates with an implied antithesis between viros fortis egregiosque civis and tui, implying that Antony’s supporters lack masculinity (viros), bravery (fortis), pre-eminence (egregios), and a sound understanding of what Roman citizenship entails (civis). And even though they potentially lack all of these qualities (for otherwise they would hardly support Antony in the first place), they will — so Cicero is predicting: note the future tense of ferent — soon cease to put up with him. On what grounds does Cicero make this — as it turned out, entirely baseless — prediction? Implied here is the belief that political criminals and tyrants by definition self-destruct — a Platonic tenet that Cicero cherished as a ray of hope (however misplaced) in his darkest hours, and which seemed to have become a reality (though much later than anticipated) with the assassination of Caesar.

mihi crede: for the phrase, see above 391.

diutius: the comparative of the adverb diu (‘long’, ‘for a long time’): ‘longer’.

quae est autem vita dies et noctes timere a suis?: the infinitive timere functions as a predicative noun with the copula est: ‘What kind of life is it to fear harm from / be afraid of your close associates day and night?’ Note that timeo can be construed either transitively (with the object of fear appearing in the accusative) or intransitively (as here), where the source of fear is expressed by the ablative + ab. Hence:

  • timere alicui: to fear for someone
  • timere ab aliquo: to fear harm from someone
  • timere aliquid ab aliquo: to fear something from someone
  • timere aliquem: to fear someone

Cicero does not pursue the explosive potential of his prediction that a revolt among Antony’s underlings is imminent. Instead, by switching from second person (tui) to third person (a suis), he steps back and generalizes, posing a quasi-philosophical question about (acceptable) terms of existence. In the subsequent sentence he returns to the second person, evaluating Antony against the generic norm implied in the rhetorical question here. Cicero already posed a similar question in the first Catilinarian addressed to Catiline (1.16: Nunc vero quae tua est ista vita?). And his proto-philosophical enquiry also brings to mind Caesar’s decision to refuse a bodyguard on the grounds that he did not wish to live in constant fear for his life. See Plutarch, Life of Caesar 57.7: ‘When his friends thought it best that he should have a body-guard, and many of them volunteered for this service, he would not consent, saying that it was better to die once and for all than to be always expecting death’. A paradox ensues: the most un-tyrannical action on the part of the reigning tyrant was at least in part responsible for getting him killed. The implications of the tyrant de-tyrannizing himself and paying for it with his life are rather awkward for Cicero’s argument here, so the issue never comes properly into focus.

dies et noctes: accusative of duration.

nisi vero aut maioribus habes beneficiis [tuos] obligatos quam [illa beneficia quibus] ille quosdam habuit ex eis [obligatos] a quibus est interfectus, aut tu es ulla re cum eo comparandus: both Cicero’s syntax and his line of thinking are highly elliptical. In responding to the rhetorical question he just posed (‘And what sort of a life is it to be afraid day and night of one’s own?’), Cicero suppresses the (obvious) answer (‘it’s no life at all’) and application to the case at hand (‘but you are bound to lead it’). He then moots two all but impossible scenarios (one specific, one general, which leads off into a different line of argument, loosely coordinated by aut  aut), in which Antony might not have to fear violence from those close to him: ‘unless, indeed, you either have your own men bound (to you) through greater benefactions than (those by which) he [sc. Caesar] had some of those bound (to him) by whom he was killed — or are to be compared to him in any way’. (Cicero then goes on to assert that any comparison between Caesar and Antony is absurd — unlike the former, the latter entirely lacks any kind of redeeming quality).

maioribus … beneficiis: Caesar dispensed favours and (material) handouts liberally (Cicero will provide details in a moment), but arguably the greatest benefaction he imposed on other members of Rome’s ruling elite was to spare their lives when he captured them on the battlefield — or indeed after he had won the war (unlike Sulla, there were no proscriptions, or ‘killing lists’, under Caesar — one by one, he pardoned virtually all of his adversaries). This policy of mercy is another topic to surface in the course of this paragraph. The ensuing degree of obligation is almost impossible to match.

quosdam … ex eis a quibus: ‘some out of those by whom…’ ex eis describes the whole of which the quosdam form a part. For this use of ex (instead of a partitive genitive), see Gildersleeve & Lodge 237. Cicero here refers to those of Caesar’s assassins who were tied to him through services rendered or, indeed, friendship: ‘the reference is both to Caesarians who joined the conspiracy, such as P. and C. Servilius Casca, L. Tillius Cimber, C. Trebonius, L. Minucius Basilus, Servius Sulpicius Galba, and to those who, though Pompeians from the first, had been pardoned by Caesar, such as M. Brutus and C. Cassius’ (Denniston 1926: 171).

a quibus: an ablative of agency with the perfect passive verb est interfectus.

ulla re: an ablative of respect.

fuit in illo ingenium, ratio, memoria, litterae, cura, cogitatio, diligentia: Cicero enumerates a subset of Caesar’s personal characteristics in an asyndetic list. He puts the emphasis on mental, moral, and intellectual qualities, where the difference to Antony is (according to Cicero) most pronounced. He was not the only one who singled out the special calibre of Caesar’s power of mind. Here is Pliny the Elder, Natural History 7.91:

Animi vigore praestantissimum arbitror genitum Caesarem dictatorem; nec virtutem constantiamque nunc commemoro, nec sublimitatem omnium capacem quae caelo continentur, sed proprium vigorem celeritatemque quodam igne volucrem. scribere aut legere, simul dictare atque audire solitum accepimus, epistulas vero tantarum rerum quaternas pariter dictare librariis.

[The most outstanding instance of innate mental vigour I take to be the dictator Caesar; and I am not now thinking of manliness and resolution, nor of a loftiness embracing all the contents of the firmament of heaven, but of native vigour and quickness winged as it were with fire. We are told that he used to write or read and dictate or listen simultaneously, and to dictate [NB!] to his secretaries four letters at once on his important affairs.]

Cicero’s own praise of Caesar is more muted, and the style arguably recalls the threadbare register of a funeral oration: so Dufallo (2007: 54). He notes that ‘the economy of expression demonstrated by Cicero’s praise of Caesar … is in keeping with Cicero’s own prescriptions for the Roman laudatio: delivered in the forum as a testimony to character, it has brevitatem … nudam atque inornatam (a bare and unadorned brevity); composed specifically as a funeral speech, it is ad orationis laudem minime accommodata (least suited to a display of oratorical excellence) (Cic. de Orat. 2.341)’ (141).

ingenium: most basically, ingenium refers to ‘natural disposition’ and then to ‘inherent quality or character’, or, with a greater emphasis on talent, ‘natural abilities’, especially of the mental / intellectual kind: it can specifically refer to being gifted with words, whether in rhetoric or poetry. In rhetorical theory, ingenium is a key technical term (innate talent complementing ars, or ‘exercise’, in constituting the perfect orator, the summus orator). But in the sense of ‘talent’ it refers to inherent potential rather than inherent moral excellence, and in some of his later philosophical writings Cicero laments that some of the greatest talents (ingenia) in Roman history, such as Caesar, became corrupted through the desire for power.

ratio: the ability to use reason. Caesar valued expert knowledge and rational order. Thus Suetonius (Life of Julius Caesar 42) reports that ‘he conferred citizenship on all who practised medicine at Rome, and on all teachers of the liberal arts, to make them more desirous of living in the city and to induce others to resort to it’. As Garcea (2012: 5) points out: ‘This makes clear to us how he wished to make use of competent and highly specialized people in public life’. His legal reforms are another good example of Caesar relying on rational criteria for the pragmatic vetting of traditional bodies of knowledge (Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 44.2):

Nam de ornanda instruendaque urbe, item de tuendo ampliandoque imperio plura ac maiora in dies destinabat … ius civile ad certum modum redigere atque ex immensa diffusaque legum copia optima quaeque et necessaria in paucissimos conferre libros.

[In particular, for the adornment and convenience of the city, also for the protection and extension of the empire, he formed more projects and more extensive ones every day … to reduce the civil code to fixed limits, and of the vast and prolix mass of statutes to include only the best and most essential in a limited number of volumes.]

‘Caesar’s aim, then, was to eliminate unnecessary and redundant legislation, resolve issues of incompatibility, bring order to the uolumina …’ Garcea (2012: 5). Most significantly, perhaps is his application of ratio to the measurement of time in his reform of the calendar (Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.14.2):

sed postea C. Caesar omnem hanc inconstantiam temporum vagam adhuc et incertam in ordinem statae definitionis coegit, adnitente sibi M. Flauio scriba, qui scriptos dies singulos ita ad dictatorem retulit ut et ordo eorum inveniri facillime posset et invento certus status perseveraret.

[But Gaius Caesar took all this chronological inconsistency, which he found still ill-sorted and fluid, and reduced it to a regular and well-defined order; in this he was assisted by the scribe Marcus Flavius, who presented a table of the individual days to Caesar in a form that allowed both their order to be determined and, once that was determined, their relative position to remain fixed.]

memoria: memory — the ability to retain and recall data — is one of the five components of oratory, together with inventio, dispositio, elocutio, and actio. See Rhetorica ad Herennium 3.28–40. Caesar seems to have been gifted with a prodigious memory, which he used for multi-tasking.

litterae: Caesar’s literary output was considerable. See Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 56 for an overview:

He left memoirs too of his deeds in the Gallic war and in the civil strife with Pompey; for the author of the Alexandrian, African, and Spanish Wars is unknown; some think it was Oppius, other Hirtius, who also supplied the final book of the Gallic War, which Caesar left unwritten. … He left besides a work in two volumes On Analogy, the same number of Speeches against Cato, in addition to a poem, entitled The Journey. He wrote the first of these works while crossing the Alps and returning to his army from Hither Gaul, where he had held the assizes; the second about the time of the battle of Munda, and the last one in the course of a twenty-three days’ journey from Rome to Farther Spain. Some letters of his to the senate are also preserved, and he seems to have been the first to redact such documents in the columnar form of a note-book, whereas previously consuls and generals only sent their reports written right across the sheet. There are also letters of his to Cicero, as well as to his intimates on private affairs, and in the latter, if he had anything rather confidential to say, he wrote it in cipher, that is, by so changing the order of the letters of the alphabet, that not a word could be made out. If anyone wishes to decipher these, and get at their meaning, he must substitute the fourth letter of the alphabet, namely D, for A, and so with the others. Certain writings of his early youth are also left, as Quintus Tubero says, such as the Praises of Hercules, a tragedy Oedipus, and a Collection of Apophthegms; but Augustus forbade the publication of all these minor works in a very brief and frank letter sent to Pompeius Macer, whom he had selected to set his libraries in order.

cura: here ‘care’, in particular due and detailed attention, as applied to literary pursuits or the wellbeing of others (within this list, the emphasis is most likely on the former rather than the latter).

cogitatio: ‘thoughtfulness’ — the ability to reflect and reach a considered view on a range of issues. Fantham (2009: 155–56) outlines the scope of the topics that came within his ken: ‘his intellectual interests included a number of areas — religion, historiography, ethnography, and political theory and ideology (such as his invention of the weapon of clemency)’. He was also much interested in language, rhetoric, geography, and natural phenomena (including astronomy).

diligentia: a virtual synonym of cura — ‘careful and painstaking attention’, applied to such activities as literary compositions.

res bello gesserat, quamvis rei publicae calamitosas, at tamen magnas: Cicero could not possibly pass over Caesar’s feats in war, though he mentions them in as qualified a fashion as possible: the matter-of-fact opening ‘deeds in war he had performed…’ is utterly devoid of any panegyric embellishment (Caesar might as well have been an insignificant foot-soldier marching along…). Before any kind of praise, Cicero condemns Caesar’s military deeds wholesale, in the strongest possible terms, as an utter calamity for the commonwealth. He does not even differentiate between his conquest of Gaul and his victory in the civil war — both his external and internal conquests are equally implicated in his destructive rise to the top. Likewise, while Caesar was still alive, Cicero considered his triumph in the civil war a blessing in disguise: a republican victory would have resulted, he was convinced, in much more post-war persecution and bloodshed. Any such nuance is here by the way. In a concessive tag-on (at tamen), Cicero ends by damning Caesar with a faint bit of praise: magnas is a run-of-the-mill attribute at the end of the sentence, strategically separated from the noun it modifies (res): the massive hyperbaton ensures that the acclaim remains a belittling afterthought that trivializes Caesar’s military achievements.

multos annos regnare meditatus, magno labore, magnis periculis quod cogitarat effecerat: multos annos is an accusative of duration (‘for many years’). Cicero here projects the origins of Caesar’s monarchical ambitions back into the distant past, but neither he nor modern scholars can possibly know at what point Caesar began to aim at kingship — though for biographers that tends to be a key question. Suetonius, in his Life of Julius Caesar, imagines the spectre of Alexander the Great as a key moment in Caesar’s quest for greatness (7):102

As quaestor it fell to his lot to serve in Further Spain. When he was there, while making the circuit of the assize-towns, to hold court under commission from the praetor, he came to Gades, and noticing a statue of Alexander the Great in the temple of Hercules, he heaved a sigh, and as if out of disgust with his own incapacity in having as yet done nothing noteworthy at a time of life when Alexander had already brought the world to his feet, he straightway asked for his discharge, to grasp the first opportunity for greater enterprises at Rome.

The consensus nowadays is that this was a fairly late development in his career and only really took off after his victory in the civil war, in reaction to events. Cicero goes for a more decisive (and hence more sensational and damning) backdating, but remains prudently vague: for him, Caesar was at any rate never a ‘naturally born’ tyrant who harboured tyrannical ambitions from the get-go. Quite the contrary: he always singled him out as a formidable talent; and in Philippic 5.49 identifies failure to achieve insight into ‘true glory’ at an early stage in his career as the reason why he ended up as an autocratic demagogue — a failure compounded by the lack of rightful recognition from other constituencies of Rome’s civic community:

Ea natura rerum est, patres conscripti, ut qui sensum verae gloriae ceperit quique se ab senatu, ab equitibus Romanis populoque Romano universo senserit civem carum haberi salutaremque rei publicae, nihil cum hac gloria comparandum putet. utinam C. Caesari, patri dico, contigisset adulescenti ut esset senatui atque optimo cuique carissimus! quod cum consequi neglexisset, omnem vim ingeni, quae summa fuit in illo, in populari levitate consumpsit.

[It is natural, members of the senate, that one who has grasped the meaning of true glory, one who feels he is regarded by the senate, by the Roman knights, and by the entire Roman people as a loved citizen and beneficial to the commonwealth, should deem nothing comparable with this glory. Would it had been the fortune of Caius Caesar — the father I mean — when a young man to be very dear to the senate and every loyal citizen! Because he neglected to secure this, he wasted all the power of his intellect — and in him it was of the highest — in pandering to popular fickleness.]

It is of course important to realize that in Philippic 5, Cicero is trying to sell Caesar Octavianus to the senate, on the grounds that unlike his adoptive father he understands what true glory consists in — and that the senate should not commit the same mistake with him as it did with Caesar, i.e. be invidiously stingy in rewarding him with the public recognition he deserves. At the same time, it is noteworthy that Cicero here and elsewhere identifies external circumstances as responsible for transmogrifying Caesar and his summum ingenium into a tyrant-figure. Even here Cicero, while repudiating Caesar’s desire to rule as king, expresses grudging admiration for the amount of effort and energy that Caesar invested in turning his misconceived dream into a reality. The ‘strenuous’ m-alliteration reinforced by anaphora (multos – meditatus – magno – magnis) provides a proper soundtrack for the point. For a similar formulation (though on a different time-scale) see § 85: meditatum et cogitatum scelus (Antony at the Lupercalia).

cogitarat: the syncopated third person singular pluperfect indicative active form (= cogita|ve|rat).

muneribus, monumentis, congiariis, epulis multitudinem imperitam delenierat: in this and the following sentence, Cicero outlines how Caesar managed to consolidate his reign: he ingratiated himself with the masses; and obliged friends and adversaries with material and immaterial benefactions. Plutarch, Life of Caesar 57.8, suggests that Caesar tried to generate goodwill among his fellow citizens as a substitute for a bodyguard: ‘And in the effort to surround himself with men’s good will as the fairest and at the same time the securest protection, he again courted the people with banquets and distributions of grain, and his soldiers with newly planted colonies’. Unlike Plutarch, Cicero portrays these efforts as insidious ploys to consolidate tyrannical power. Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 38 gives an idea of the scope of the lavish expenditure that Caesar invested in generating personal loyalties:

To each and every foot-soldier of his veteran legions he gave twenty-four thousand sesterces by way of booty, over and above the two thousand apiece which he had paid them at the beginning of the civil strife. He also assigned them lands, but not side by side, to avoid dispossessing any of the former owners. To every man of the people, besides ten pecks of grain and the same number of pounds of oil, he distributed the three hundred sesterces which he had promised at first, and one hundred apiece to boot because of the delay. He also remitted a year’s rent in Rome to tenants who paid two thousand sesterces or less, and in Italy up to five hundred sesterces. He added a banquet and a dole of meat, and after his Spanish victory two dinners; for deeming that the former of these had not been served with a liberality creditable to his generosity, he gave another five days later on a most lavish scale.

In terms of style, he continues with asyndetic enumeration and m-alliteration (muneribus, monumentis, multitudinem).

muneribus: throughout the republic, politicians tried to advance their careers through public benefactions, both ephemeral (e.g. through feasts, games, spectacles) and permanent (e.g. through buildings). A competition ensued, with aristocrats vying with each other to outdo earlier gestures of public munificence. The idea was to impress one’s name upon the collective memory, and thereby get a step up in elections to public office. There was some allowance for using state-funds for this purpose, but the resources were limited: wealthy patrons drew upon their personal fortunes, others took out massive loans, and successful generals supplemented their allocated budget through imperial plunder (manubiae) to outshine their rivals.103 Caesar started to get in on the action early. See Suetonius, Life of Caesar 10, on his activities as aedile in 65 BCE:

When aedile, Caesar decorated not only the Comitium and the Forum with its adjacent basilicas, but the Capitol as well, building temporary colonnades for the display of a part of his material. He exhibited combats with wild beasts and stage-plays too, both with his colleague and independently. The result was that Caesar alone took all the credit even for what they spent in common, and his colleague Marcus Bibulus openly said that his was the fate of Pollux: ‘For,’ said he, ‘just as the temple erected in the Forum to the twin brethren bears only the name of Castor, so the joint liberality of Caesar and myself is credited to Caesar alone.’ Caesar gave a gladiatorial show besides, but with somewhat fewer pairs of combatants than he had purposed; for the huge band which he assembled from all quarters so terrified his opponents, that a bill was passed limiting the number of gladiators which anyone was to be allowed to keep in the city.

Suetonius explicitly states that Caesar did this to win the goodwill of the masses (and succeeded in doing so).

monumentis: before Caesar, the title of Mr. Public Grandeur went to Pompey and his theatre complex, which he began in 61 BCE to memorialize in stone his third triumph. It included a temple dedicated to Venus Victrix, which was dedicated in 55 BCE. In the following year, Caesar, flush with booty extracted from Gaul, began construction of a new forum, no doubt partly in emulation of Pompey’s theatre complex. It was not completed in his lifetime, but that did not prevent him from initiating further building projects alongside, especially after securing victory in the civil war, such as the temple of Venus Genetrix, dedicated in 46 BCE, as part of the unfinished forum complex, or the Basilica Iulia, also dedicated in 46 BCE but again finished under Augustus. (For a full list of the works planned by Caesar, see Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 44.)

congiariis: the term congiarium derives from congius, which denotes a measure of wine or oil, which a magistrate or similarly elevated individual distributes to his followers or the people at large. A congiarium was ‘a “gift” intended to display the giver’s generosity and to reward and encourage the recipient’s loyalty, but not constituting formal payment for a specific service’ (Kaster 1995: 311). See further Rostovtzeff (1900: 875, who notes that the character and the scope of congiaria changed significantly under Caesar: he handed out not just wine and oil, but also money as part of the triumphal celebrations in 46 BCE (see Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 38, cited above) — and monopolized the practice.

epulis: on the word, see Donahue (2004: 7–8):

By far, the most popular term for a Roman feast is epulum. Originally a technical term for a religious meal …, the term conveyed a religious aspect from an early date through its link with two of Rome’s most ancient festivals, the Ludi Romani and Ludi Plebeii. Both ceremonies included among their festivities the epulum Iovis, a repast in honor of Jupiter, overseen by a special class of priests, the septemviri epulones. … Over time, its religious connotation diminished and epulum came to mean a luxurious secular meal offered on various occasions to large numbers.

This is another area of ostentatious consumption in which Caesar distinguished himself — though he was not the only one.104 See Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar 38 (cited above). As Donahue (2004: 256) notes: ‘No one was more adept at such public magnanimity, however, than Julius Caesar. Even though kingship could never be tolerated at Rome, for him the ability to act like a monarch remained very much a consideration. The beneficiaries were the plebs, who readily accepted largess from the kingly triumphator, becoming in the process instruments of his grand ambitions. There can be no doubt that the public meal played a pivotal role in this scheme, as it reached new heights during this period. To be sure, it was not an invention of Caesar’s; he simply changed the standard by extending the scope and scale of liberality at Rome, but not the principle itself’.

multitudinem imperitam: multitudo — as opposed to plebs or populus — is a derogatory way of referring to the populace. populus is a politico-legal category that refers, in the case of populus Romanus, to all Roman citizens, whereas plebs is a social term (of course with political significance) that refers to the ‘plebeian’ component of the populus Romanus (in complement and contrast to the ‘patrician’ element; cf. the so-called ‘secession of the plebs’). By contrast, multitudo simply captures quantity, without any indication of the social, legal, or political status of those who make up the multitude. It is similar in sense to our ‘the masses’, which also implies a range of prejudices and stereotypes, well summed up by Morstein-Marx (2004: 68):

A bestialized urban mob, whose enslavement to its appetites and desperate circumstances make it incapable of reason, is one of the stock characters of the Roman political drama scripted by ancient writers. … Cicero seems — at least in public — to take a less harsh view of the People’s character as a political agent, though it is still often characterized by ‘rashness’ (temeritas) and ‘fickleness’ (levitas) … It is consistent with these conceptions of the multitude that the audiences of public meetings were frequently derided by Cicero, once out of earshot, as composed of imperiti, ‘ignoramuses,’ an adjective that adheres to references to the plebs or multitudo virtually as a formula.

Philippic 2 is a written speech disseminated among his largely senatorial peers, so there was no need for Cicero to pay particular respect to popular feelings.

delenierat: delenire in the sense of ‘to seduce’, ‘to bewitch’ is attested from New Comedy onwards: see e.g. Plautus, Amphitruo 844 or Stichus 457.105 Cicero also uses it, as part of an imagery of enticement and corruption.106 Here the term feeds into the image of mass psychology that Cicero is peddling: the common people are happy to be bribed (‘bewitched’) by the tyrant, made compliant to his whim and will through the provision of material pleasures. Their mental powers can be infiltrated and weakened to the point of enslavement — and they are willing to acquiesce as long as they can indulge in pleasures of the body.

suos praemiis, adversarios clementiae specie devinxerat: the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae 5.1.859, 51–54 differentiates between:

  • devincire (= astringere, alligare) legibus, necessitate (fati), where the binding happens through impersonal forces, public institutions, cosmic constraints
  • devincire beneficiis, amore, where the focus is on personal relationships, with persons tied together through services rendered and/or powerful emotional attachments
  • devincire calamitate, scelere, where the binding results in unholy alliances grounded in immorality and crime

Cicero uses the verb in the second sense, but manages to imply that Caesar’s way of building up networks of obligations through ties that bind lacks legitimacy: he used material gifts (praemia) with his friends and immaterial favours (clementia) with his adversaries to corroborate his tyrannical power. See Santoro L’Hoir (2006: 146): ‘Cicero implies a … subtle influence [of “behind-the-scenes” control], clustering devincire with delenire, as well as specie, regnare, and servitium in a vituperative passage insinuating that by binding the people to him emotionally with specious largesse, Caesar has abused his power’. Cicero speaks from personal experience — having benefitted from both forms of generosity: he was the beneficiary of a substantial interest-free loan from Caesar and one of the first republicans Caesar pardoned. (With as liberally giving a patron as Caesar, the boundary between sui and adversarii often became blurred as he tried to turn his adversaries into supporters through material enticements.) As Mouritsen (2017: 128) puts it: ‘Caesar’s pursuit of popular favour was noted by all ancient commentators, suggesting he may have been unusual in continuing this strategy well after the early career stages when most politicians abandoned it. But it was essentially a style, involving gestures, spectacle and generosity, as well as a public show of defiance towards the nobility. Whether it had much impact on the lives of the poor is a different matter’.

clementiae specie: ‘through a semblance of mercy’. Elsewhere Cicero praises Caesar highly for his commitment to clementia in the civil war (which caught everyone by surprise — not least since it stood in stark contrast to the bloodthirsty rhetoric of the republican party). At the same time, he laboured under no delusion about the strategic value of Caesar’s policy of mercy. In one of his letters he labels the clementia Caesar practised insidiosa (‘cunning’; Att. 8.16.2 = 166 SB), in another letter he shares Curio’s view that Caesar was not ‘by nature’ predisposed towards clementia and would start to behave savagely in case his policy of clemency ceased to produce the hoped-for results (Att. 10.4.8 = 195 SB: … ipsum autem non voluntate aut natura non esse crudelem, sed quod putaret popularem esse clementiam. quod si populi studium amisisset, crudelem fore ‘… and as for Caesar himself, it was not by inclination or nature that he was not cruel but because he reckoned that clemency was the popular line. If he lost favour with the public he would be cruel’). He certainly never blinked an eye when the enemies were Gauls or Germans, whom he slaughtered in genocidal numbers. In the domestic sphere, his policy of mercy also carried unwelcome ideological connotations: while clementia was in principle ‘a welcome and approved quality of character’ (Konstan 2005: 344), in the course of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey and Caesar’s dictatorship the quality, while laudable in itself, became associated with an unwelcome power-differential between the benefactor and the recipient, placing the latter into the debt of the former: there is no greater power than to execute a verdict over life and death — and the spared adversary will find himself caught in the inextricable bonds of an unrequitable benefaction. Such acts of mercy extended between aristocratic peers, while preferable to merciless slaughter, were at variance with the republican principle of oligarchic equality: from this point of view, ‘clementia … denoted the arbitrary mercy, bound by no law, shown by a superior to an inferior who is entirely in his power. It is the quality proper to a rex. In the free Republic there was no place for rex or regnum. The only body which could properly show clementia was the Roman people itself in its historical role of pardoning the humbled’ (Earl 1967: 60). By using the noun species Cicero acknowledges that clementia as such is a positive quality, but manages to imply that Caesar’s variant is only a ‘semblance’ of the real thing — without going into details why exactly that is the case. But the context suggests that he objects to clementia Caesaris as a tool of consolidating (tyrannical) power through the generation of social debts that cannot be repaid.107 More generally, in the works written after the Ides of March 44, Cicero argues that a tyrant by definition exists outside any meaningful social bonds, not least those generated by acts of clementia and the extension of beneficia by which (some of) Caesar’s killers were bound to the dictator. This argument frees the assassins from the charge of murderous ingratitude.108

quid multa [(verba) dicam]?: the ellipsis of dicam with quid multa?, quid plura?, ne multa, ne plura etc. is common: see OLD s.v. multus 16b: ‘why say more’, ‘to be brief’, ‘in a word’. The brachylogy often conveys emotional agitation in preparation for an upcoming punch line (as here).

attulerat iam liberae civitati partim metu, partim patientia consuetudinem serviendi: Cicero again opts for unorthodox word order (verb – indirect object – ablatives of cause – direct object), which ensures that the key phrase consuetudinem serviendi comes at the end of the sentence.

partim metu, partim patientia: note the alliteration; the causal ablatives specify the reasons that enabled Caesar to enslave a free commonwealth: fear and forbearance. patientia can be a positive value when referring to the ‘ability or willingness to endure hardship’. In Phil. 10, for instance, Cicero identifies this kind of patientia as a particular virtue of Brutus (who wrote a treatise De Patientia). Here, however, it connotes undue passivity — or indeed submissiveness — towards a tyrant.

§ 117: Once Burnt Lesson Learnt!

Cicero continues his exercise in compare and contrast. Antony merits comparison with Caesar in one respect only: the desire to wield power at all cost (dominandi cupiditas), which makes him a tyrant. And if there is one good thing that the Roman people have learned from the evils inflicted by Caesar it is a more skeptical disposition towards self-styled leaders — and the willingness to do away with those that turn out to be tyrants. He reiterates his a-fortiori conviction: if Caesar was considered intolerable, Antony surely too.

Cum illo ego te dominandi cupiditate conferre possum, ceteris vero rebus nullo modo [cum illo] comparandus es: Cicero comes back to the comparability of Antony and Caesar — a question he had left hanging in the previous paragraph (116: … aut tu es ulla re cum eo comparandus). Now he specifies the one respect [cupiditate and ceteris rebus are ablatives of respect], in which the two strongmen can be compared: their desire to rule as tyrant. Cicero opens the sentence with three personal pronouns, referring to Caesar (cum illo), himself (ego), and Antony (te) respectively — a finely calibrated sequence with him in the nominative at centre position like the pillar of a scale appraising the other two. The adversative vero is designed to convey the impression that Cicero here asserts a commonly accepted truth, i.e. that in all other respects the two men are distinctly dissimilar. Antony shares Caesar’s major vice, without possessing any of his positive qualities.

nullo modo comparandus es: the second person singular gerundive of necessity / obligation: ‘you are not to be compared in any way’ (sc. with Caesar). The strong negation nullo modo (an ablative of manner) has a colloquial flavour: Hofmann (1951: 81).

sed ex plurimis malis quae ab illo rei publicae sunt inusta hoc tamen boni est quod didicit iam populus Romanus quantum cuique crederet, quibus se committeret, a quibus caveret: the subject of the sentence is hoc (on which the partitive genitive boni depends: ‘this of good’), the verb is est: ‘out of the many evils, which …, there is nevertheless this of good (namely the fact) that…’. Cicero envisages the commonwealth as a material entity (res publica literally means ‘the public thing’, ‘the property that belongs to all citizens’) or perhaps even body of sorts (perhaps in the tradition of the ‘body politic’) that Caesar has indelibly branded with a great number of evils. Nevertheless (note the concessive tamen), this bruising treatment has one positive outcome: however tough the learning experience was, it contained valuable lessons for the present.

quae ab illo rei publicae sunt inusta: quae is the nominative neuter plural of the relative pronoun referring back to malis. inuro means literally ‘to imprint by burning on’, ‘to brand on’ and is construed with the dative (here rei publicae). ab illo (sc. Caesar) is an ablative of agency with the perfect passive verb.

didicit iam populus Romanus: ‘has now learned’ (since it did not really know beforehand). The recent nature of the learning experience stands prima facie in latent conflict to the argument in earlier paragraphs that the killing of prospective tyrants was a long-standing practice in Rome, with a series of venerable exempla going all the way back to the expulsion of Tarquinius Superbus. As in § 114 Cicero imagines a broad consensus of ruling elite and people, as he moves from populus Romanus to viri fortes and ends on the generic homines, plastering over the awkward problem that reactions to the murder were far from uniform, ranging from unalloyed enthusiasm to outright hostility. For a recent discussion of how the conspirators misjudged public opinion see Rosillo-López (2017: 188–94).

quantum cuique crederet, quibus se committeret, a quibus caveret: Cicero articulates the contents of this experience in an asyndetic — and, via the verbs crederet, committeret, caveret alliterated — tricolon of indirect questions. He imagines the Roman people asking themselves: ‘how much trust are we to put in anyone?’ ‘to whom should we entrust ourselves?’ and ‘whom should we guard against?’ It is not easy to see how the three questions cohere. The first seems to call for a limit to the extent to which the people ought to entrust civic business to any one person in particular; the second and third pose the question which kind of individual is to be trusted with or, conversely, kept away from, public affairs.

haec non cogitas, neque intellegis satis esse viris fortibus didicisse quam sit re pulchrum, [quam sit] beneficio gratum, [quam sit] fama gloriosum tyrannum occidere?: intellegis governs an indirect statement with (the indeclinable) satis as subject accusative, esse as infinitive copula, and didicisse as predicative complement: ‘… that it is sufficient for brave men to have learned how…’ quam, an adverb expressing degree, can be either interrogative or exclamatory (Pinkster 2015: 337, with reference to Bodelot 2010); here it is clearly the latter. It goes with all three adjectives (pulchrum, gratum, gloriosum), which all function as predicative complements to the subject of the clause, the infinitive phrase tyrannum occidere: ‘how beautiful … it is to kill a tyrant!’ (The copula sit is in the subjunctive because of indirect speech.) Each adjective comes with an ablative (re … beneficio … fama), perhaps best taken as ablatives of respect (the deed itself  the service rendered  the renown achieved), though Ramsey (2003: 335) suggests that beneficio and fama are best understood as causal ablatives.

Extra information:

In a letter of 4 August 44 BCE addressed to Antony, M. Brutus and Cassius also invoke the spectre of Caesar in an attempt to persuade Antony to desist from his Caesarian politics: tu etiam atque etiam vide, quid suscipias, quid sustinere possis; neque, quam diu vixerit Caesar, sed quam non diu regnarit, fac cogites (‘On your part, consider well what you undertake and what you can sustain. Bear in mind, not only the length of Caesar’s life, but the brevity of his reign’.) (Cicero, ad Familiares 11.3.4 = 336 SB).

an, cum illum homines non tulerint, te ferent?: the particle an here introduces a contemptuous direct question addressed to Antony that calls for a negative answer: ‘given that people did not tolerate him (illum, placed up front for contrastive emphasis with te, refers to Caesar), will they tolerate you?’

ferent: future tense.

§ 118: Here I Stand. I Can Do Naught Else

Cicero now works towards a rousing conclusion by shifting the focus from Antony back to himself: he combines a personal profession with the notion of self-sacrifice for the benefit of the wider community, intertwining liberty and death.

Certatim posthac, mihi crede, ad hoc opus curretur neque occasionis tarditas exspectabitur: Cicero proceeds to answer the rhetorical question he posed at the end of the previous paragraph, suggesting that Antony will soon face an attack of men vying with each other to kill him. The alliterated certatim … curretur (an impersonal passive in the future: ‘there will be an emulous onrush to perform this task’) underscores both the speed of the assault and the indiscriminate hatred among the populace, which Cicero further reinforces in the (somewhat tautological and compressed) follow-up clause, which literally means ‘the lateness of an opportunity will not be waited for’. In other words: ‘no-one will wait for an opportunity to present itself; they’ll take action now’.

posthac: ‘from now on’. Cicero seems to be hoping, rather optimistically, that the delivery (or the perusal) of his speech will stir everyone into taking violent action against Antony right away.

mihi crede: for the phrase see above 391.

ad hoc opus: the killing of Antony the tyrant.

respice, quaeso, aliquando rem publicam, M. Antoni: in sentences expressing commands, aliquando signifies ‘now at last’, ‘while there is time’, ‘before it is too late’: see OLD s.v. 5. Cicero urges Antony to make a U-turn in his attitude towards the commonwealth — for his own sake. Unless he (finally) starts heeding the welfare of the res publica, he will end up dead. So he is not begging on behalf of the commonwealth — rather, showing some consideration for the commonwealth is the only way for Antony to save his skin.

quaeso: in parenthesis, here added to lend the imperative respice even greater urgency: ‘I implore you’ — for your own sake just as much as that of everyone else.

quibus ortus sis, non quibuscum vivas, considera: Cicero exhorts Antony to comport himself in line with the illustrious representatives of his family tree rather than the rabble with whom he has ended up living, not least his wife Fulvia and his brother Lucius. Cicero inveighs against both throughout Philippic 2. The rhetoric of the rotten fruit of a glorious tree is a familiar weapon in the rhetorical arsenal of the homo novus, who uses the notion of generational decline to attack the established nobility and their conceit that they pass down ancestral excellence from generation to generation. The second person singular present imperative considera governs two indirect questions (hence the subjunctives ortus sis and vivas). orior, in the sense ‘to be born of’, ‘to descend from’, can be construed with the prepositions ab and ex or (as here) with the plain ablative (quibus).

quibuscum: = cum quibus.

mecum [age], ut voles: redi cum re publica in gratiam: the opening of the sentence is elliptical. It is possible to supply redi in gratiam with mecum from what follows (‘reconcile yourself with me whenever you wish — but reconcile yourself now with the state’) or a more general imperative like age: ‘treat me as you like — but reconcile yourself with the state’). redi is the second person singular present imperative active of redeo, redire. redire in gratiam is idiomatic: ‘to become reconciled (with)’ (Cf. reducere in gratiam = to reconcile). gratia here signifies ‘goodwill between two parties’.

sed de te tu videris; ego de me ipse profitebor: videris is second person singular future perfect active of video, indicating future anterior value but with a hortatory touch: ‘but it will have been / is up to you to see to yourself’. This use of the so-called futurum exactum ‘is idiomatic Latin to express that one leaves a debatable point to others to decide, and will continue with an idea about which one is certain oneself. In other words, it is a formula indicating something like “it is immaterial to me”’ (Bremmer and Formisano 2012: 171; cf. Kühner-Stegmann II.1, 149). By contrast profitebor is in the simple future. The contrastive use of the second and first personal pronouns (de te tu – ego de me), further reinforced by the chiastic design and the addition of the reflexive ipse, could not be more pronounced. Right after dismissing Antony, Cicero indulges in a proto-Lutherian moment: he professes his civic creed.

defendi rem publicam adulescens, non deseram [rem publicam] senex: defendi is the first person singular perfect indicative active (note that the present passive infinitive looks identical); deseram is in the simple future. It is rather remarkable that Cicero labels himself an adulescens with reference to the year 63 BCE (the year of his consulship, when he quashed the conspiracy of Catiline): he was 43 years old at the time. But Roman age-labels were fluid: adulescens here captures Cicero’s life before the onset of old age (senectus), when he becomes a senex. And Cicero wants to convey the image of an entire life spent in civic service.

contempsi Catilinae gladios, non pertimescam [gladios] tuos: Cicero claimed that he was a target for assassination for Catiline and his followers (see e.g. Cat. 1.11). Juvenal alludes to the sentence in Satire 10.114–26, a passage in which he also praises Philippic 2 as ‘immortal’ (divina):

Eloquium ac famam Demosthenis aut Ciceronis

incipit optare et totis quinquatribus optat


quisquis adhuc uno parcam colit asse Minervam,

quem sequitur custos angustae vernula capsae.

eloquio sed uterque perit orator, utrumque

largus et exundans leto dedit ingenii fons.

ingenio manus est et cervix caesa, nec umquam


sanguine causidici maduerunt rostra pusilli.

‘o fortunatam natam me consule Romam’:

Antoni gladios potuit contemnere si sic

omnia dixisset. ridenda poemata malo

quam te, conspicuae divina Philippica famae,


volveris a prima quae proxima.

[The eloquence and reputation of Demosthenes or Cicero is what boys keep on praying for throughout the spring holidays, every boy who goes to school accompanied by a house slave to guard his narrow satchel and who still worships thrifty Minerva with a single tiny coin. But it was because of their eloquence that both orators died. It was the abundant, overflowing gush of talent that sent both to their deaths. It was talent that had its hands and neck severed. The rostrum was never drenched in the blood of a feeble advocate. ‘O Rome, you are fortunate, born in my consulate.’ He could have laughed at Antony’s swords if everything he said had been like this. I prefer his ridiculous verses to you, immortal Philippic, next to the first on the roll, with your distinguished reputation.]

quin etiam corpus libenter obtulerim, si repraesentari morte mea libertas civitatis potest, ut aliquando dolor populi Romani [id] pariat quod iam diu parturit!: Cicero now amplifies and corroborates (see OLD s.v. quin 3a: ‘and moreover’) his record of public service by pronouncing his willingness to sacrifice himself gladly (the subjunctive obtulerim is potential: ‘I would gladly offer my body / life’) if his death were to ensure the revival of freedom (or, literally: ‘if the freedom of the community could be re-established through my death’). He concludes with a lyrically elusive consecutive ut-clause: ‘so that finally the pain of the Roman people gives birth to (parere) what they have for so long carried in the womb / been in labour for (parturire)’. In this image, Cicero’s self-sacrifice (devotio) will cause the Roman people such pain that they will finally manage to restore / give birth to libertas for good. (Since the assassination of Caesar, which did away with the tyrant but did not quite restore libertas, they were ‘in labour’ with it: Cicero’s violent death would induce birth.) A good way to wind up any speech — but spot on for one where ‘delivery’ has been delayed for quite a while. But now (iam diu) begins the onslaught in earnest, with Phil. 3 coming up next, and then, for ever, within our box set of the dozen CDs of Phil. (with a few more to come, but not to reach us (?)).

pariat … parturit: Cicero here strikes a notably feminine note in his otherwise pronounced masculine discourse. As Myers (2003: 337) observes: ‘With this feminine metaphor of the womb and birth, Cicero ends the vitriolic Second Philippic against Mark Antony (Marcus Antonius) by calling for a return to the republic even at the expense of his own life. As both a productive and generative act, this climactic moment, in which the male body politic fuses with the politic of the female body, operates as the nexus of masculine and feminine, public and private, and oration and circulated pamphlet in the Roman society of the first century BCE. Moreover, of all the female allusions Cicero employs in the Second Philippic, it is the only one that focuses on the feminine as the potential for rebirth, rejuvenation, and renewal of what had been the Roman republic’. She offers three possible readings of this remarkable imagery (348): (i) Cicero fashions himself as a pregnant (fe)male: ‘Tied to Cicero’s invocation of his death, the phrase means that Cicero is the woman dying in childbirth to offer new life to the republic, because the Roman practice was to cut out the fetus if a woman died in labor’ [this interpretation seems difficult to reconcile with the fact that the (labour-)pangs are experienced by the Roman people]; (ii) Cicero conceives of himself as a metaphorical midwife who, through his self-sacrifice, helps the populus Romanus give birth to a free commonwealth; (iii) as paterfamilias (and pater patriae) he is the one to legally recognize liberty as the offspring of the people (in Roman culture, ‘the power and continuation of family name lies in the father’s recognition of the child, not in the mother’s delivery’).

Extra information:

However we read this imagery, its presence here offers an opportune moment to recall that Roman oratory (whether delivered in a public space or distributed through backstage channels in pamphlet form) was a gendered practice. See Richlin (1997: 91): ‘A full study of the issue [sc. the interrelation of gender and rhetoric in ancient Rome] would have to consider the nature of the forum as gendered space; the socialization of Roman citizen boys into manhood through the study of rhetoric; the rhetorical handbooks as guides to gender construction; the subject matter of the extant rhetorical exercises; the analogy between gender and geography in the Atticist-Asianist debate; the relation between Greeks, Romans, and others in the rhetorical schools; the contrast between Greek ideas of the meaning of rhetoric and Roman ideas; and the ways in which womanhood is constructed in Roman culture through exclusion from rhetoric’.

§ 119: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

Cicero clinches the account with his public service — and a twin focus on liberty and death. The final thought (or wish) of Philippic 2 is one of cosmic justice: that the fate of the individual reflects the nature of his actions within the public sphere. Those who invested much in the commonwealth ought to see their efforts rewarded; those who harmed the civic community ought to suffer accordingly. Much to Cicero’s regret, reality proved recalcitrant to this principle: throughout much of his career, and certainly for the final two decades, he had to cope with the unpalatable scenario that those who acted on behalf of the res publica suffered (through exile and other forms of humiliation, as well as death), whereas perpetrators of the worst transgressions seemed to get off scot free: Piso and Gabinius, Clodius (until his death in 52), Caesar (until his death in 44). At best, the wheels of cosmic justice were working slowly.

Etenim si abhinc annos prope viginti hoc ipso in templo negavi posse mortem immaturam esse consulari, quanto verius nunc negabo [posse mortem immaturam esse] seni!: Cicero concluded the previous paragraph by recalling his attitude during the conspiracy of Catiline: defendi rem publicam adulescens, non deseram senex; contempsi Catilinae gladios, non pertimescam tuos. Now he uses a logical conditional sequence (with both verbs in the indicative) to explain this assertion in the form of an a-fortiori argument, with his past actions (detailed in the si-clause) as premise for the conclusions to be drawn about his attitude and actions now.

negavi introduces an indirect statement with mortem immaturam as subject accusative, posse as verb, esse as supplementary infinitive with posse, and the dative consulari dependent on immaturam (‘… premature for someone of consular rank…’). In the apodosis, Cicero reiterates the finite verb (switching from perfect to future), but elides much of the indirect statement negabo governs: it is represented only by the dative seni (from senex), which has a syntactical position identical to consulari. The rest — posse mortem immaturam esse — has to be supplied from the protasis.

The sentence is designed to strengthen the notion of Cicero as a warrior on behalf of the commonwealth throughout his adult years: the two biographical markers used in the previous paragraph, adulescens and senex, recur in slight variation (consulari – seni); and his defiance of the ‘swords of Catiline’ receives chronological (abhinc annos prope viginti) and spatial (hoc ipso in templo) specification, as Cicero gestures back to the opening of the speech and also recalls a moment in his Fourth Speech against Catiline.

The temporal specification annos prope viginti at the opening of the concluding paragraph gestures back to the initial sentence of the speech (§ 1):

Quonam meo fato, patres conscripti, fieri dicam, ut nemo his annis viginti rei publicae fuerit hostis, qui non bellum eodem tempore mihi quoque indixerit?

[To what fate of mine, senators, should I attribute it that in these twenty years no man has been the enemy of the commonwealth without also declaring war on me at the same time?]

He then singles out Catiline and Clodius — but ignores Caesar, whom he considered a hostis rei publicae rather than a personal enemy. Put differently, he construes a historical arch from the hour of his greatest triumph, the suppression of the Catilinarian conspiracy in 63, the year when he held the consulship, to the present hour — his (last) stand against a prospective tyrant. Cicero begins the concluding paragraph of the speech by citing himself (in Catilinam 4.3):

Quare, patres conscripti, consulite vobis, prospicite patriae, conservate vos, coniuges, liberos fortunasque vestras, populi Romani nomen salutemque defendite; mihi parcere ac de me cogitare desinite. nam primum debeo sperare omnis deos, qui huic urbi praesident, pro eo mihi, ac mereor, relaturos esse gratiam; deinde, si quid obtigerit, aequo animo paratoque moriar. nam neque turpis mors forti viro potest accidere neque immatura consulari nec misera sapienti.

[Take thought for yourselves, therefore, gentlemen; look to the preservation of your fatherland, save yourselves, your wives, your children and your fortunes, defend the name of the Roman people and their very existence; stop protecting me and cease your concern for me. Firstly, I am bound to hope that all the gods who watch over this city will recompense me as I deserve; and secondly, if anything happens to me, I shall die calm and resigned. A brave man’s death cannot bring dishonour, a consul’s cannot be before its time, a philosopher’s cannot bring sorrow.]

abhinc annos prope viginti: abhinc, followed by the accusative of extent in time annos prope viginti, specifies the dating point: ‘almost (prope) twenty years ago (abhinc)’, i.e. 5 December 63 BCE, the day when he delivered the Fourth Catilinarian.

hoc ipso in templo: the temple of Concord.

mortem immaturam: for anyone who has reached the consulship, the apex of the cursus honorum and guaranteeing entry into the collective memory of the res publica, death can no longer be considered premature. For the topos (here inverted) see Nielson (1997: 198–202).

quanto verius: quanto is an ablative of the degree of difference, verius the comparative form of the adverb vere: ‘how much more truthfully…’

mihi vero, patres conscripti, iam etiam optanda mors est, perfuncto rebus eis quas adeptus sum quasque gessi: the subject is mors, the gerundive optanda … est the verb. mihi is a dative of agency with the gerundive, deftly linked to mors by alliteration. perfuncto is a perfect passive participle in the dative, modifying mihi. The deponent perfungi (like uti and frui, the simplex fungi, vesci, and