Cicero: I Need Nothing So Much as a Friend

Cicero can seem an insufferable windbag in some of his speeches–but some of his letters humanize him.

Cicero to Atticus 1.18 20 Jan 60

“Know that I need nothing so much as a person to whom I can explain the things I worry about, someone who cares about me, who is wise, to whom I may speak and fabricate nothing, lie about nothing, and hold nothing back.

My brother is away, the most honest and beloved man. Metellus is not a man but instead is “shore and air” and “only solitude”. You, moreover, who most wisely lightens by concern and anxiety of spirit with conversation and counsel, you are my companion in public affairs and my confidant in private matters, and who are usually a companion of all my speeches and plans, where are you? I am so completely isolated that I only have as much relaxation as those moments spend with my wife, my little girl and my sweetest Marcus.

For my ambitious and convenient friendships have a certain shine in public affairs, but they bear no domestic fruit. My home is so full with a crowd in the morning but when I go to the forum with flocks of friends, I can’t find a single person in the great crowd to share a joke with or to whisper familiarly.

This is why I am looking for you, why I miss you, and I am also now calling you home. Many things really trouble me and make me anxious—but these are things which I think I can get off my chest once I have your ears for a talk during a single walk.”

Nihil mihi nunc scito tam deesse quam hominem eum quocum omnia quae me cura aliqua adficiunt una communicem, qui me amet, qui sapiat, quicum ego cum loquar nihil fingam, nihil dissimulem, nihil obtegam. abest enim frater ἀϕελέστατος et amantissimus. †Metellus† non homo sed ‘litus atque aër’ et ‘solitudo me<r>a.’ tu autem qui saepissime curam et angorem animi mei sermone et consilio levasti tuo, qui mihi et in publica re socius et in privatis omnibus conscius et omnium meorum sermonum et consiliorum particeps esse soles, ubinam es? ita sum ab omnibus destitutus ut tantum requietis habeam quantum cum uxore et filiola et mellito Cicerone consumitur. nam illae ambitiosae nostrae fucosaeque amicitiae sunt in quodam splendore forensi, fructum domesticum non habent. itaque cum bene completa domus est tempore matutino, cum ad forum stipati gregibus amicorum descendimus, reperire ex magna turba neminem possumus quocum aut iocari libere aut suspirare familiariter possimus. qua re te exspectamus, te desideramus, te iam etiam arcessimus. multa sunt enim quae me sollicitant anguntque, quae mihi videor auris nactus tuas unius ambulationis sermone exhaurire posse.

Image result for medieval manuscript cicero letter to a friend
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“Do This, Not That”: Terence and Horace on Education

Terence Adelphoe 414-417

“Demio: I pass over nothing; I accustom him to it: I have
him look as if into a mirror at the lives of everyone
that he make take from others an example for himself.
Do this!” Syrus: Rightly, Correctly. DE: Don’t do this! SY: Cleverly!
DE: This is praiseworthy: SY: That is the thing! DE: This is a fault.”

DE. …
nil praetermitto: consuefacio: denique
inspicere tamquam in speculum in uitas omnium
iubeo atque ex aliis sumere exemplum sibi.
hoc facito. SY. Recte sane. DE. Hoc fugito. SY. Callide.
DE. Hoc laudist. SY. Istaec res est. DE. Hoc uitio datur.

Horace, Satires 1.4: 120-126

“This is how [my father]
used to train me as a boy with stories and whether he was
ordering me to do something, he would say “You have a precedent for doing this’ and he would offer as example one
of the selected officials.
Or, if he was forbidding me from something,
Don’t doubt that he would ask whether
“This was dishonorable and unproductive if done
Or not or if this or that man was aflame from
A bad reputation…
….sic me
formabat puerum dictis et, sive iubebat
ut facerem quid, ‘habes auctorem, quo facias hoc’
unum ex iudicibus selectis obiciebat,
sive vetabat, ‘an hoc inhonestum et inutile factu
necne sit, addubites, flagret rumore malo cum
hic atque ille?’ …

Advice for Candidates on Super Tuesday from Cicero

Quintus Tullius Cicero, On Electioneering 21-23


“There are three things that will guarantee votes in an election: favors, hope, and personal attachment. The trick is giving these incentives to the right people. People are led to believe that they have reasons for giving support at the polls for extremely small favors– and that significant number of people you have attracted will not fail to understand that if they do not do enough for you in this crisis, that they will never have anyone else’s trust. And even though this is true, they still require an appeal and must be allowed the opinion that they, who have to this point been obligated to us, may hold us similarly obligated to them.

The voters who are motivated by hope–a class of people which is much more diligent and serious–you must persuade them that your assistance is ready for them immediately and there should be no mistake in them noticing that you are paying attention to what service they perform for you.

The third class of people I have mentioned, those of sudden friends, you must make more loyal by expressing your gratitude by adapting your speeches to the very reasons they seem to be eager about your candidacy; by showing that you feel the same way about them; and by implying that this relationship may  grow into intimacy and long-term friendship.”

sed quoniam tribus rebus homines maxime ad benevolentiam atque haec suifragandi studia ducuntur, beneficio, spe, adiunctione animi ac voluntate, animadvertendum est quem ad modum cuique horum generi sit inserviendum. minimis beneficiis homines adducuntur ut satis causae putent esse ad studium suifragationis, nedum ii quibus saluti fuisti, quos tu habes plurimos, non intellegant, si hoc tuo tempore tibi non satis fecerint, se probatos nemini umquam fore. quod cum ita sit, tamen rogandi sunt atque etiam in hanc opinionem adducendi ut qui adhuc nobis obligati fuerint iis vicissim nos obligari posse videamur. [22] qui autem spe tenentur, quod genus hominum multo etiam est diligentius atque officiosius, iis fac ut propositum ac paratum auxilium tuum esse videatur, denique ut spectatorem te officiorum esse intellegant diligentem, ut videre te plane atque animadvertere quantum a quoque proficiscatur appareat. [23] Tertium illud genus est studiorum voluntarium, quod agendis gratiis, accommodandis sermonibus ad eas rationes, propter quas quisque studiosus tui esse videbitur, significanda erga illos pari voluntate, adducenda amicitia in spem familiaritatis et consuetudinis confirmari oportebit.

Quintus Tullius Cicero. For the full text of Commentariolum petitionis got to Perseus.

Quintus’ commentariolum petitionis shows that when it comes to politics there really is nothing new under the sun