Cicero, Always Chirping about the Ides of March

Previously we have posted about Cicero’s comments about the Ides of March to Brutus. Here is a letter from Brutus complaining about Cicero.

Letters: Brutus to Atticus, I.17

“You write to me that Cicero is amazed that I say nothing about his deeds. Since you are hassling me, I will write you what I think thanks to your coaxing.

I know that Cicero has done everything with the best intention. What could be more proved to me than his love for the republic? But certain things seem to me, what can I say, that the most prudent man has acted as if inexperienced or ambitiously, this man who was not reluctant to take on Antony as an enemy when he was strongest?

I don’t know what to write to you except a single thing: the boy’s desire and weakness have been increased rather than repressed by Cicero and that he grinds on so far in his indulgence that he does not refrain from invectives that rebound in two ways. For he too has killed many and he must admit that he is an assassin before what he objects to Casca—in which case he acts the part of Bestia to Casca—

Or because we are not tossing about every hour the Ides of March the way he always has the Nones of December in his mouth, will Cicero find fault in the most noble deed from a better vantage point than Bestia and Clodius were accustomed to insult his consulship?

Our toga-clad friend Cicero brags that he has stood up to Antony’s war. How does it profit me if the cost of Antony defeated is the resumption of Antony’s place?  Or if our avenger of this evil has turned out to be the author of another—an evil which has a foundation and deeper roots, even if we concede <whether it is true or not> those things which he does come from the fact that he either fears tyranny or Antony as a tyrant?

 But I don’t have gratitude for anyone who does not protest the situation itself provided only that he serves one who is not raging at him. Triumphs, stipends, encouragement with every kind of degree so that it does not shame him to desire the fortune of the man whose name he has taken—is that a mark of a Consular man, of a Cicero?

1Scribis mihi mirari Ciceronem quod nihil significem umquam de suis actis; quoniam me flagitas, coactu tuo scribam quae sentio.

Omnia fecisse Ciceronem optimo animo scio. quid enim mihi exploratius esse potest quam illius animus in rem publicam? sed quaedam mihi videtur—quid dicam? imperite vir omnium prudentissimus an ambitiose fecisse, qui valentissimum Antonium suscipere pro re publica non dubitarit inimicum? nescio quid scribam tibi nisi unum: pueri et cupiditatem et licentiam potius esse irritatam quam repressam a Cicerone, tantumque eum tribuere huic indulgentiae ut se maledictis non abstineat iis quidem quae in ipsum dupliciter recidunt, quod et pluris occidit uno seque prius oportet fateatur sicarium quam obiciat Cascae quod obicit et imitetur in Casca Bestiam. an quia non omnibus horis iactamus Idus Martias similiter atque ille Nonas Decembris suas in ore habet, eo meliore condicione Cicero pulcherrimum factum vituperabit quam Bestia et Clodius reprehendere illius consulatum soliti sunt?

Sustinuisse mihi gloriatur bellum Antoni togatus Cicero noster. quid hoc mihi prodest, si merces Antoni oppressi poscitur in Antoni locum successio et si vindex illius mali auctor exstitit alterius fundamentum et radices habituri altiores, si patiamur, ut iam <dubium sit utrum>ista quae facit dominationem an dominum [an] Antonium timentis sint? ego autem gratiam non habeo si quis, dum ne irato serviat, rem ipsam non deprecatur. immo triumphus et stipendium et omnibus decretis hortatio ne eius pudeat concupiscere fortunam cuius nomen susceperit, consularis aut Ciceronis est?

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Gambling With Roman Emperors

Dio Cassius, Roman Histories 59.22 [ AD 39]

“Once, when [Caligula] was playing dice and had learned that he didn’t have any money, he demanded the tax roles of the Gauls and then ordered the wealthiest of them to be killed. He returned to his said that “while you have been competing over a few mere handfuls, I have come into one hundred and fifty million.” And those men died without any plan it all.

A certain one of them, Julius Sacerdos, who was well-to-do but certainly not one of the super-rich to the each that he should have been attached for it, was killed because he had a similar name. Everything happened with as little concern as this.

I don’t need to mention any of the many others who died by name, but I will talk about those for whom history demands some memory. First, he had Lentulus Gaetulicus killed—he was well-reputed in every way and had been an overseer of Germany for ten years all because he was dear to his soldiers. He also killed Lepidus, his lover and beloved, Drusilla’s husband, a man who had joined Gaius himself in having sex with those other sisters, Argippina and Julia. He had even stood for office five years soon than the law allowed and he had kept announcing that he would leave him as the successor of the empire. He sent the soldiers money for that man, as if he had overcome some enemy, and also sent three daggers to Mars the Avenger in Rome.”

κυβεύων δέ ποτε, καὶ μαθὼν ὅτι οὐκ εἴη οἱ ἀργύριον, ᾔτησέ τε τὰς τῶν Γαλατῶν ἀπογραφάς, καὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν τοὺς πλουσιωτάτους θανατωθῆναι κελεύσας, ἐπανῆλθέ τε πρὸς τοὺς συγκυβευτὰς καὶ ἔφη ὅτι “ὑμεῖς περὶ ὀλίγων δραχμῶν ἀγωνίζεσθε, ἐγὼ δὲ ἐς μυρίας καὶ πεντακισχιλίας μυριάδας ἤθροισα.” καὶ οὗτοι μὲν ἐν οὐδενὶ λόγῳ ἀπώλοντο· ἀμέλει εἷς τις αὐτῶν Ἰούλιος Σακερδὼς ἄλλως μὲν εὖ χρημάτων ἥκων, οὐ μέντοι καὶ ὑπερπλουτῶν ὥστε καὶ ἐπιβουλευθῆναι δι᾿ αὐτά, ὅμως ἐξ ἐπωνυμίας ἀπεσφάγη· οὕτως ἀκρίτως πάντα ἐγίγνετο. τῶν δὲ ἄλλων τοὺς μὲν πολλοὺς οὐδὲν δέομαι ὀνομαστὶ καταλέγειν, ὧν δὲ δὴ ἡ ἱστορία τὴν μνήμην ἀπαιτεῖ, φράσω. τοῦτο μὲν γὰρ Γαιτούλικον Λέντουλον, τά τε ἄλλα εὐδόκιμον ὄντα καὶ τῆς Γερμανίας δέκα ἔτεσιν ἄρξαντα, ἀπέκτεινεν, ὅτι τοῖς στρατιώταις ᾠκείωτο· τοῦτο δὲ τὸν Λέπιδον ἐκεῖνον τὸν ἐραστὴν τὸν ἐρώμενον, τὸν τῆς Δρουσίλλης ἄνδρα, τὸν καὶ ταῖς ἄλλαις αὐτοῦ ἀδελφαῖς τῇ τε Ἀγριππίνῃ καὶ τῇ Ἰουλίᾳ μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐκείνου συνόντα, ᾧ πέντε ἔτεσι θᾶσσον τὰς ἀρχὰς παρὰ τοὺς νόμους αἰτῆσαι ἐπέτρεψεν, ὃν καὶ διάδοχον τῆς ἡγεμονίας καταλείψειν ἐπηγγέλλετο, κατεφόνευσε. καὶ τοῖς τε στρατιώταις ἀργύριον ἐπὶ τούτῳ, καθάπερ πολεμίων τινῶν κεκρατηκώς, ἔδωκε, καὶ ξιφίδια τρία τῷ Ἄρει τῷ Τιμωρῷ ἐς τὴν Ῥώμην ἔπεμψε.

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Portrait de l’empereur Gaius Julius Augustus Germanicus

Worse Through Words: National Emergencies and War

Cicero, Philippic 8.2

“But what is the substance of the controversy? Some people were thinking that the title “war” should not be given in the statement; they were preferring to use the term “national emergency” because they are ignorant not only of the matter but of words too. For a war is possible without a “national emergency”, but a “national emergency”, however, cannot exist without a war. What thing could be a “national emergency” but a trouble so great that a serious fear arises?

This is where the terminology itself for “national emergency” [tumultus] comes from. For our ancestors used to say that there was a “national emergency” in Italy  which was domestic or a “national emergency” in Gaul, which is on our border, but they used to call nothing else that. And that a “national emergency” is, moreover, more serious than a war can be understood from the fact that exemptions from service are valid in war but they are not in “national emergency”.

Therefore, as I was just saying, a war can exist without a “national emergency” but a “national emergency” cannot exist without a war. And since there can be no middle-ground between war and peace, it is true that a “national emergency”, if it is not part of a war, must be part of a peace. And what could be a crazier to say or imagine? But I have gone on too long about a word. Let’s look at the matter itself, Senators, which I do think often can become worse through language.”

At in quo fuit controversia? Belli nomen ponendum quidam in sententia non putabant: tumultum appellare malebant, ignari non modo rerum sed etiam verborum: potest enim esse bellum ut tumultus non sit, tumultus autem esse sine bello non potest. Quid est enim aliud tumultus nisi perturbatio tanta ut maior timor oriatur? Unde etiam nomen ductum est tumultus. Itaque maiores nostri tumultum Italicum quod erat domesticus, tumultum Gallicum quod erat Italiae finitimus, praeterea nullum nominabant. Gravius autem tumultum esse quam bellum hinc intellegi potest quod bello [Italico] vacationes valent, tumultu non valent. Ita fit, quem ad modum dixi, ut bellum sine tumultu possit, tumultus sine bello esse non possit.4Etenim cum inter bellum et pacem medium nihil sit, necesse est tumultum, si belli non sit, pacis esse: quo quid absurdius dici aut existimari potest? Sed nimis multa de verbo. Rem potius videamus, patres conscripti, quam quidem intellego verbo fieri interdum deteriorem solere.

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There is a town called Cicero. It responds to emergencies.

A Tyranny of Luck and a Stranger

Sallust, Letter to Caesar 2.3

“While the courts just as in previous eras have been run by the three orders, those political factions still rule them: they give and take what they may, giving the innocent the runaround and heaping honors on their own. Neither crime nor shame nor public disgrace disqualifies them from office. They rob, despoil whomever they please. And finally, as if the city has been sacked, they rely on their own lust and excess instead of the laws.

And for me this would only be a source of limited grief if, in their typical fashion, they were pursuing a victory born from excellence. But the laziest of people whose total strength and excellence come from their tongue are arrogantly administering a tyranny gained through luck and from another person! For what treason or civil discord has obliterated so many families? Who whose spirit was ever so hasty and extreme in victory?”

Iudicia tametsi, sicut antea, tribus ordinibus tradita sunt, tamen idem illi factiosi regunt, dant, adimunt quae lubet, innocentis circumveniunt, suos ad honorem extollunt. Non facinus, non probrum aut flagitium obstat, quo minus magistratus capiant. Quos commodum est trahunt, rapiunt; postremo tamquam urbe capta libidine ac licentia sua pro legibus utuntur.

Ac me quidem mediocris dolor angeret, si virtute partam victoriam more suo per servitium exercerent. Sed homines inertissimi, quorum omnis vis virtusque in lingua sita est, forte atque alterius socordia dominationem oblatam insolentes agitant. Nam quae seditio aut dissensio civilis tot tam illustris familias ab stirpe evertit? Aut quorum umquam in victoria animus tam praeceps tamque inmoderatus fuit?

 

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Hated By the People, Plotted Against by Friends

Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History 37.22a

“Sertorius, when he noticed that the uprising among the indigenous people was overwhelming, turned nasty to his allies: he accused some and had them killed; others he threw into prison; but he liquidated the wealth of the richest men. Even though he acquired a great deal of gold and silver this way, he did not put any of it into the public treasury for the war effort, instead he hoarded it for himself. He didn’t use it to pay the soldiers either or even share some of it with his commanders.

When it came to capital cases, he did not consult the council or advisers, but had hearings in private and gave judgments after serving as the solitary judge. He did not consider his commanders worthy of invitations to his banquets and demonstrated no beneficence to his friends. As he was generally driven mad by the worsening state of his own rule, he acted tyrannically toward everyone: he was hated by the people and conspired against by his friends.”

Ὅτι ὁ Σερτώριος θεωρῶν ἀκατάσχετον οὖσαν τὴν ὁρμὴν τῶν ἐγχωρίων πικρῶς προσεφέρετο τοῖς συμμάχοις, καὶ τοὺς μὲν καταιτιώμενος ἀπέκτεινεν, τοὺς δὲ εἰς φυλακὴν παρεδίδου, τῶν δὲ εὐπορωτάτων ἐδήμευε τὰς οὐσίας. πολὺν δὲ ἄργυρον καὶ χρυσὸν ἀθροίσας οὐκ εἰς τὸ κοινὸν τοῦ πολέμου ταμιεῖον κατετίθετο, ἀλλ᾿ ἰδίᾳ ἐθησαύριζεν· οὔτε τοῖς στρατιώταις ἐχορήγει τὰς μισθοφορίας, οὔτε τοῖς ἡγεμόσι μετεδίδου τούτων, οὔτε τὰς κεφαλικὰς κρίσεις μετὰ συνεδρίου καὶ συμβούλων ἐποιεῖτο, διακούων δὲ ἰδίᾳ καὶ μόνον κριτὴν ἑαυτὸν ἀποδείξας ἐποιεῖτο τὰς ἀποφάσεις· εἴς τε τὰ σύνδειπνα τοὺς ἡγεμόνας οὐκ ἠξίου παραλαμβάνειν, οὐδὲ φιλανθρωπίας οὐδεμιᾶς μετεδίδου τοῖς φίλοις. καθόλου δὲ διὰ τὴν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον ἐπίδοσιν τῆς περὶ αὐτὸν ἐξουσίας ἀποθηριωθεὶς τυραννικῶς ἅπασιν προσεφέρετο. καὶ ἐμισήθη μὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους, ἐπεβουλεύθη δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν φίλων.

 

Quintus Sertorius by Gerard van der Kuijl

A Talking Head (Prophetic Zombie Corpses)

Psst…this is the worst story you will read this year….

Phlegon of Tralles, On Marvels 3

“Antisthenes, the peripatetic philosopher, also records that the consul Acilius Glabrio with the ambassadors Porcius Cato and Lucius Valerius Flaccus was stationed in war against Antiochus at Thermopylae and, after fighting well, compelled those on Antiochus’ side to throw down their weapons and the man himself to flee to Elataia with five hundred hypastists. From there, they compelled him to turn again to Thessaly. Acilius then sent Cato to Rome so he might announce the victory while he led the army himself against the Aitolians in Herakleia, which he took with ease.

In the action against Antiochus at Thermopylae, the Romans witnessed some shocking signs. After Antiochus turned and fled, on the next day the Romans turned to the gathering of those who died on the battle and a selection of weapons, war-spoils, and prisoners.

There was some man from the Syrian cavalry, named Bouplagos, who was honored by Antiochus but fell in battle even as he fought nobly. While the Romans were gathering up all the arms at midday, Bouplagos rose from the corpses even though he had twelve wounds. As he appeared to the army, he spoke the following verses in a soft voice:

Stop gathering booty from an army which has marched to Hades’ land—
For Kronos’ Son Zeus already feels anger as he watches your deeds.
He is raging at the murder of the army and your acts,
And he will send a bold-hearted race into your country
Who will end your empire and make you pay for what you’ve done.

Because they were troubled by these verses, the generals swiftly gathered the army in assembly and discussed the meaning of the omen. They thought it best to cremate and bury Bouplagos who had died right after he uttered these words. Then they performed a cleansing of the camp, made sacrifices to Zeus Apotropaios and sent a group to Delphi to ask the god what they should do.”

῾Ιστορεῖ δὲ καὶ ᾿Αντισθένης, ὁ περιπατητικὸς φιλόσοφος, ᾿Ακείλιον Γλαβρίωνα τὸν ὕπατον μετὰ πρεσβευτῶν Πορκίου Κάτωνος καὶ Λουκίου Οὐαλερίου Φλάκκου παραταξάμενον ᾿Αντιόχῳ ἐν Θερμοπύλαις γενναίως τε ἀγωνισάμενον βιάσασθαι ῥίψαι μὲν τὰ ὅπλα τοὺς μετ’ ᾿Αντιόχου, αὐτὸν δὲ τὰ μὲν πρῶτα εἰς ᾿Ελάτειαν μετὰ πεντακοσίων ὑπασπιστῶν φυγεῖν, ἐκεῖθεν δὲ πάλιν εἰς ῎Εφεσον ἀναγκάσαι ὑπεξελθεῖν. ὁ δὲ ᾿Ακείλιος Κάτωνα μὲν εἰς ῾Ρώμην ἀπέστειλεν ἀπαγγελοῦντα τὴν νίκην, αὐτὸς δὲ ἐπ’ Αἰτωλοὺς καθ’ ῾Ηράκλειαν ἐστράτευσεν, ἣν ἐξ εὐμαροῦς ἔλαβεν.

ἐν δὲ τῇ παρατάξει τῇ γενομένῃ πρὸς ᾿Αντίοχον ἐν Θερμοπύλαις ἐπιφανέστατα σημεῖα ἐγένετο ῾Ρωμαίοις. ἀποσφαλέντος γὰρ ᾿Αντιόχου καὶ φυγόντος τῇ ἐπιούσῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγίνοντο οἱ ῾Ρωμαῖοι περὶ ἀναίρεσιν τῶν ἐκ τῆς σφετέρας δυνάμεως πεπτωκότων καὶ περὶ συλλογὴν λαφύρων τε καὶ σκύλων καὶ αἰχμαλώτων.

Βούπλαγος δέ τις, τῶν ἀπὸ Συρίας ἱππάρχης, τιμώμενος παρὰ τῷ βασιλεῖ ᾿Αντιόχῳ, ἔπεσε καὶ αὐτὸς γενναίως ἀγωνισάμενος. ἀναιρουμένων δὲ τῶν ῾Ρωμαίων πάντα τὰ σκῦλα καὶ μεσούσης τῆς ἡμέρας ἀνέστη ὁ Βούπλαγος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἔχων τραύματα δέκα δύο, καὶ παραγενόμενος εἰς τὸ στρατόπεδον αὐτῶν ἀνεῖπε λεπτῇ τῇ φωνῇ τούσδε τοὺς στίχους·

παῦσαι σκυλεύων στρατὸν ῎Αιδος εἰς χθόνα βάντα·
ἤδη γὰρ Κρονίδης νεμεσᾷ Ζεὺς μέρμερα λεύσσων,
μηνίει δὲ φόνῳ στρατιᾶς καὶ σοῖσιν ἐπ’ ἔργοις,
καὶ πέμψει φῦλον θρασυκάρδιον εἰς χθόνα τὴν σήν,
οἵ σ’ ἀρχῆς παύσουσιν, ἀμείψῃ δ’ οἷά γ’ ἔρεξας.

ταραχθέντες δὲ οἱ στρατηγοὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς ῥηθεῖσιν διὰ ταχέων συνήγαγον τὸ πλῆθος εἰς ἐκκλησίαν καὶ ἐβουλεύοντο περὶ τοῦ γεγονότος φάσματος. ἔδοξεν οὖν τὸν μὲν Βούπλαγον παραχρῆμα μετὰ τὰ λεχθέντα ἔπη ἀποπνεύσαντα κατακαύ-σαντας θάψαι, καθαρμὸν δὲ ποιήσαντας τοῦ στρατοπέδου θῦσαι Διὶ ᾿Αποτροπαίῳ καὶ πέμψαι εἰς Δελφοὺς ἐρωτήσοντας τὸν θεόν τί χρὴ ποιεῖν.

The story continues and only gets stranger. Part 2.

Walking corpses, from a marginalia depiction of ‘The Three Living and the Three Dead’. The Taymouth Hours (C14th), British Library, Yates Thompson MS 13, fol. 180r.
 The Taymouth Hours (C14th), British Library, Yates Thompson MS 13, fol. 180r.

Profiteers Tearing Apart the Republic

Ps. Sallust Against Cicero

“Where should I protest, whom should I implore, Senators, because the republic is being torn apart for any kind of audacious profiteer? Should I complain to the Roman people? They are so corrupted by bribes that they offer themselves and their fortunes for sale.

Should I appeal to you, Senators? You whose authority is a joke to any kind of criminal miscreant in this place where Marcus Tullius defends the laws, the courts and the state and acts like he is in charge here as if he were the only man left from a family of the most famous man, Scipio Africanus, and not some orphan found on the street, summoned here, and only just recently rooted in this city?”

Ubi querar, quos implorem, patres conscripti, diripi rem publicam atque audacissimo cuique esse praedae? apud populum Romanum? qui ita largitionibus corruptus est, ut se ipse ac fortunas suas venales habeat. an apud vos, patres conscripti? quorum auctoritas turpissimo cuique et sceleratissimo ludibrio est; ubi M. Tullius leges, iudicia, rem publicam defendit atque in hoc ordine ita moderatur quasi unus reliquus e familia viri clarissimi, Scipionis Africani, ac non reperticius, accitus, ac paulo ante insitus huic urbi civis.

Morgan Library, MS M.81, Folio 79r