Digital Humanities

Student final digital projects

The following students in #newcicero have generously agreed to share the results of their digital projects from Spring 2019. To accompany the results of #newcicero student research, I’ve written a reflection on my experiences with digital pedagogy: “Digital pedagogy with the Ciceronian corpus.”

Cory Willingham (@coriolanus)
“Ciceronian Invective”

Cory Willingham: “This visualization depicts the most frequent invective terms which appear in four Ciceronian invective orations: In Catilinam I & II, Pro Caelio, In Pisonem, and Philippicae II. Terms in green are the names of the people inveighed against most frequently; terms in blue are the terms themselves; terms in black are added by me after the fact, and are categories I believe fairly represent the terms I collected. My hope is that this visualization will serve to help readers consider Ciceronian invective broadly, demonstrating objectively which terms he uses most frequently, which terms he applies to which people, and which people are insulted with the same broad strokes. The categories are admittedly subjective, but should still allow readers to look at what types of invective appear most frequently in Ciceronian invective, as well as further helping connect the types of insults used for different people.”

Kira Solovay (@KSolovay)
“Word to Person Association in Cicero’s Pro Caelio, Displayed with Gephi”

Kira Solovay: “The Gephi I created shows connections between the descriptors that Cicero uses with people in his speech Pro Caelio. The nodes in my Gephi are ‘descriptors’ and people. The edges indicate co-mentions between descriptors; they connect descriptors to other descriptors used in the same description, and descriptors to people being described. I decided that a descriptor would be a noun, adjective, adverb, or participle that described a specific person. After I input my data into Gephi, I filtered out nodes that had a frequency of less than three, which made the chart much easier to read and interpret. I then ran Modularity and changed node color by Modularity Class. This created different colors coding different groups of people and descriptors, categorizing the data in an objective way. Although my Gephi highlights some aspects of the Pro Caelio that likely otherwise would be overlooked, it does not act as a substitute for the speech. Any time that Cicero uses sarcasm, hypotheticals, quotation, or negatives is not displayed in the Gephi. I was more focused on the word association that Cicero creates rather than his literal meaning behind the speech. However, this display of data shows some things in a more efficient way than the speech, like repeated motifs or hidden connotations.”

Joseph Salzo (
“Tiro’s Relationships within the Domus and Its Implications for Freedmen in Ancient Roman Society”

 This depicts the relationships within Ad Familiares 16.4. The blue lines represent the positive relationships, the red lines represent the negative relationships, and the green lines represent the neutral relationships within the text.

Joseph Salzo: “This project titled Tiro’s Relationships within the Domus and Its Implications for Freedmen in Ancient Roman Society focuses on the relationship between Tiro and four members of the family: Marcus Tullius Cicero, Terentia, Marcus Tullius Cicero the Younger, and Quintus Tullius Cicero. Specifically using Cicero’s Ad Familiares Book 16, letters 4, 9, 21, and 27 as a primary source, the social analysis software called Gephi served as a close-reading tool creating graphic visualizations from Tiro’s perspective. The goal of this project is to use Gephi both to gain insight into the relationships between Tiro and the individuals within his ‘family’ observing how they may differ among one another and gain insight into the various roles which freedmen fill in Roman society through relations with their former master/patrons. In short, the project functions as a case study analyzing the role of freedmen in society from perspective of the freedmen specifically through the relationships of Marcus Tullius Tiro.”

The full project is hosted at, where you can read Joseph’s detailed explorations of these letters.

Haydn Kennedy (@scipio_modernus;
“Cicero and Pompey: A Friendship, Visualized”

Haydn Kennedy: “For this project, I looked at the the relationship between Cicero and Pompey through the end of the republic. Specifically, the period of time between 55 B.C., when Pompey and Crassus were joint consuls; and 48 B.C., when Pompey loses the battle of Pharsalus to Caesar and is subsequently killed following his escape. This interval sees the inevitable buildup and ultimate end to the civil war between Caesar and Pompey. Although the conflict concludes with Cicero in Pompey’s camp, his allegiance was no foregone conclusion. Using what we have of Cicero’s correspondence through these years, I aimed to visualize the path leading Cicero to Pompey’s camp, helping to show how Cicero came to reconcile his desire for the Republic’s restoration and the knowledge that it would necessarily crumble. With this in mind, I built several timelines showing how letters of Cicero’s that reference Pompey reflect the state of their relationship. Each timeline displays a bar for each letter included. Each letter is placed in either a positive row, a neutral row, or a negative row (each row also uses a different color). Hovering over a bar will tell you which letter it represents, who wrote it, and to whom it was addressed. When a bar is clicked, it opens the letter in a new tab. The code, raw data and methodology can be found here. Enjoy!”

Joseph Droegemueller
“A Visual Exploration of Comedic Quotations in Cicero”

Fig. 1: The Gephi organized at random. Cicero’s forensic and philosophical works are represented in purple and blue respectively. Terence is represented in red and Plautus in yellow.
Fig. 2: The Gephi organized with a force.

Joseph Droegemueller: “Within the Ciceronian corpus lies a great abundance of references and quotations to a wide range of literary genres, and a sizeable portion of them come from Roman Comedy. Cicero refers to and quotes Roman Comedy throughout his forensic speeches and philosophical treatises, but what purpose do they serve? Does a clear pattern of some sort emerge when these quotations are analyzed more closely? In an attempt to answer these questions, I represented visually all the quotations from the extant comic poets (Plautus and Terence) in Cicero’s forensics and philosophical treatises in Gephi (see my results in Figs. 1 & 2). Immediately one can notice that Cicero heavily favored Terence to Plautus, as only four Plautine quotations occur within the works represented. One can also notice that two line-number nodes appear larger than the rest, and both come from Terence’s Heauton Timoroumenos. These are the only quotes which appear multiple times, as Cicero feels the title character has great philosophical significance, especially within his discussion De Finibus. With a few general observations out of the way, let us move into a more individualized discussion of Roman Comedy in the forensics and treatises respectively.

“If someone learned about Roman Comedy in Cicero exclusively through these two Gephis, they would assume that the genre had almost no part in Cicero’s forensic speeches as only three quotations are represented. This information can be misleading, as a handful of quotations appear from other comic poets, however, since only works of Plautus and Terence survive in extant, analyzing these quotations in the context of both the Ciceronian work and the play itself becomes impossible. Therefore, I elected to remove these quotations from the data set and though this leaves us with a relatively small sample size, there is much to be gleaned. Even Cicero himself gives insight on how he employs Roman Comedy within his forensics in his De Inventione, claiming in section 1.27 that the personalities of characters and plot sequences at times can more easily explain a case to the audience, or in the case of the Pro Caelio, help frame an entire argument. Upon analysis of the quotes from Plautus’ Trinummus and Terence’s Adelphoe in the Pro Caelio and the In Pisonem respectively, one can appreciate Cicero’s skill in manipulation of the crowd. In both instances, Cicero draws upon the comedic stock character of the adulescens, but to completely opposite effects. When arguing for Caelius’ acquittal, he uses the audience’s knowledge of comedic plot convention to convince them that Caelius’ debauched behavior should be forgiven and will pass, but when attacking Piso, Cicero alludes to the same stock character to shame him. Cicero was a master of oratory and rhetoric, and these two comedic quotations help the modern scholar appreciate his ability to illicit the desired response from his audience, as, in the Pro Caelio and the In Pisonem, Cicero creates opposite responses from nearly identical comedic quotations.

“Moving to the philosophical treatises, the Gephis may yield false information about them as well. In order add the element of time to the project, I chose to include to publication dates on the nodes displaying the titles of the work, however, the outburst of philosophical composition at the end of his life may give the impression that Cicero only began to frequently interact with Roman Comedy towards the end of his life. Though Roman Comedy appears less frequently earlier in Cicero’s life, he references a variety of plays and this suggests that Cicero had become familiar with a large selection of plays earlier in his life, most likely through his education. Nevertheless, a relatively large selection of quotations from Roman Comedy appears in Cicero’s treatises, yet after a closer look at the individual quotations, neither does a clear pattern emerge nor does Cicero provide any insight on his own use of Roman Comedy in philosophy. Therefore, in order to truly appreciate Cicero’s familiarity with the genre and ability to employ it within his own work. After individual analysis, one can see the variety of ways in which Cicero quotes Roman Comedy. In both the De Natura Deorum and the De Finibus, Cicero creates an argument and a counter-argument from the same comedy, creating continuity and flow within his works. In the De Amicitia, Cicero’s quotation of Terence reminds the reader of proverbs in modern society, shedding light on the greater role of Roman Comedy at the end of Republican Rome. One can even find instances of Cicero potentially quoting from memory in De Divinatione and Disputationes Tusculanae. These are only a few examples. Individual analysis of these quotations allows the reader to not only appreciate Cicero’s mastery of his craft, but also gain a deeper understanding of the function of the genre in Roman culture during Cicero’s lifetime.

“Cicero’s works have been studied since even before his own death in 43 BCE. From one generation to the next, scholars have looked at the Ciceronian corpus through a variety of lenses in order to glean new information about Cicero and the world around him. Though this lens has its flaws and failed to concretely answer my research questions, it nevertheless yielded intriguing information about the relationship between Roman Comedy and Cicero’s forensics and philosophical treatises and has opened new doors for further research on the subject.”

Wenyi Jiang
“Marriage and Friendship in Cicero’s Letters”

Wenyi Jiang: “Inspired by Alison Jeppesen-Wigelsworth’s article “Amici and Coniuges in Cicero’s Letters: Atticus and Terentia,” this research project explores Cicero’s relationship with his first wife Terentia and his friend Titus Pomponius Atticus through his letters to both recipients during his exile in 58BC. In the hope to identify his unique love and affection for Terentia, this project presents Cicero’s use of emotional expressions as well as endearments and adjectives to both recipients in Gephi. 

“In Gephi, four major subjects connect everything else on the map: “Terentia by Cicero” and “Cicero to Terentia” in blue nodes; “Titus Pomponius Atticus by Cicero” and “Cicero to Titus Pomponius Atticus” in red nodes. The words and phrases that closely associate with one or two particular subjects form a semi-circle around them.  

“Compared side-by-side, Cicero’s letters to Terentia and to Atticus unveils a person who is deeply buffeted by his exile and is having trouble recovering from the incident. The most distinctive difference between his writing to Terentia and to Atticus, though, comes from his way of endearing the recipients. He would address Terentia as his light (mea lux), his dear (mea vita), and even use epithets such as the best, trustworthy, and faithful (fidissima), while he only once called Atticus as “my friend/my Pomponius” out of 15 letters that this project analyzes.

“The analysis of such a small sample size may not provide a comprehensive understanding of Cicero’s relationship with Terentia nor with Atticus, but perhaps, his explicit usage of endearments and descriptive adjectives shows a glance of his rare affection towards his first wife Terentia during a time of political turmoil and personal mental distress.” 

life after death, modernity, reception

After Cicero.

1. Statues by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828). a) Cicero (1803-1804), a plaster cast of which is now in the Louvre. b) Benjamin Franklin (1778) now in the Met Museum. c) George Washington (completed 1791 or 1792) in the Virginia State Capitol.


Nota Bene! Ancient statues were very often polychrome, i.e. multi-coloured. The neoclassical white ‘purity’ of the above statues is a construct of the era in which these modern statues were produced. Read Prof. Sarah Bond on the topic, and watch this short (6 min) Samantha Bee video featuring Bond and the Lucas bros:

2a. Carl J. Richard, “Cicero and the American Founders”, Brill’s companion to the reception of Cicero (2015), p126:

‘When John Adams went to Paris to help Benjamin Franklin secure the French alliance necessary for the defeat of the British in the Revolutionary War, he brought his sons, John Quincy and Charles, with him. Aboard the ship Adams assisted John Quincy in translating Cicero’s first oration against Catiline, no doubt a nostalgic treat for the statesman. Two years later he insisted that John Quincy continue his study of Cicero’s orations. In 1781, convulsed by the inexplicable fear that John Quincy might be falling behind in his studies at the University of Leyden, he wrote, “I absolutely insist upon it, that you begin upon Demosthenes and Cicero. I will not be put by.”’

2b. Cicero, De Officiis 1.1. Translated by Thomas Habinek 2012. SeeFathers and sons.

To my dear son Marcus: Now that you’ve spent a year listening to Cratippus (in Athens at that!), you must be well stocked with philosophical precepts and guidelines, thanks to the great authority of a teacher and a city that can supply you with theoretical knowledge and practical examples respectively. Still, I’ve always found it helpful to use both Latin and Greek, in philosophy as well as rhetorical exercise, and I’d advise you to do the same to develop equal competence in both languages. To that end, I believe I’ve done our countrymen a real service: those who read Greek in the original — as well as those who don’t — believe that they’ve gained something useful for both public speaking and personal moral deliberation.

3a. Carl J. Richard, “Cicero and the American Founders”, Brill’s companion to the reception of Cicero (2015), p129. See Cicero’s poetry.

‘In 1768 Samuel Adams adopted the pseudonym “Cedant Arma Togae” (let arms yield to the toga) for an essay protesting the British maintenance of a standing army, a phrase immortalized by Cicero, who had insisted on tight civilian control of the Roman army.’

3b. Carl J. Richard, “Cicero and the American Founders”, Brill’s companion to the reception of Cicero (2015), p131.

‘When Adams, one of the greatest orators of his day, rose before the Continental Congress on July 1, 1776, to rebut John Dickinson’s contention that American independence would be premature, the New Englander thought of Cicero. He recorded in his diary: “I began by saying that this was the first time of my Life that I ever wished for the Talents and Eloquence of the ancient Orators of Greece and Rome, for I was very sure that none of them ever had before him a question of more importance to his Country and to the World.”‘

4a. William Cook and James Tatum, “Frederick Douglass and The Columbian Orator,” African American Writers and Classical Tradition (2010), p73:

‘Frederick Douglass’s only work of fiction “The Heroic Slave” supplies an answer that no one who is concerned with rhetoric and its possibilities should miss. It introduces us to a narrator who hears and judges the protagonist not on meeting or seeing him, but simply by hearing him and being won over by his eloquence. For Douglass, in this story at least, mastery of oratory becomes what Cicero and every other preceptor in classical rhetoric hoped to convey: more than a sign of educational achievement, eloquent speech is a mark of superior moral character.”)’

4b. In his youth, Frederick Douglass got his hands on a copy of Caleb Bingham’s (1797) “The Columbian Orator,” containing oratorical exemplars for students to imitate. An 1812 edition from National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. Image: wikimedia. You can read the 1807 edition on Google books.

4c. Part of the Table of Contents to Caleb Bingham’s (1807) “The Columbian Orator”:

4d. Excerpt from Cicero’s Catilinarians (1.31-33) in Bingham’s (1807) “The Columbian Orator”:

4e. William Cook and James Tatum, “Frederick Douglass and The Columbian Orator,” African American Writers and Classical Tradition (2010), p61:

‘What is most striking about Douglass’ precocious achievement is that he did not have to immerse himself in classical authors to learn it. While he would have read a few passages from Cicero, Tacitus, and others in translation, he learned classical figures of thought and language entirely through the English of European and American orators who themselves had been trained in Latin and the classics. In the same way that Shakespeare has been credited with a mastery of Plutarch’s Lives through North’s translation — itself a translation of Amyot’s French version of the original Greek — Douglas was able to acquire the essentials of classical rhetorical theory and practice entirely through translation.’

5. Jean-François Janinet after Jean-Guillaume Moitte, “The Catiline Conspiracy” (1792). See Nina Dubin (2016).


Killing Cicero.

1a. Pavel Svedomsky, ‘Fulvia with the head of Cicero,’ c. 1880. Image: wikimedia.

1b. ‘Killing Cicero’:

2a. A history of violence. Cicero, De Oratore (3.10): the murder of Marcus Antonius (cos. 99 BCE; Mark Antony’s grandfather) in proscriptions, 87 BCE. Translated by E. W. Sutton, H. Rackham (1942).

Marcus Antonius, on the very platform (in eis ipsis rostris) on which as consul he had most resolutely championed the cause of the state and which as censor he had decorated with the trophies of his military command, laid down the life that had preserved the lives of many men; and indeed at no great distance from that spot lay the head of Gaius Julius, betrayed by the crime of his Tuscan host, side by side with the head of his brother Lucius Julius, so that Gaius, who did not witness these events, may be deemed to have spent his life with the republic still living and to have passed out of existence together with her passing.

2b. Seneca, De Ira (3.18). Proscriptions. Murder of Marius’ nephew, Marius Gratidianus by Catiline. Translated by John W. Basore (1928).

Marcus Marius, to whom the people erected statues in every street, whom they worshipped with offerings of frankincense and wine—this man by the command of Lucius Sulla had his ankles broken, his eyes gouged out, his tongue and his hands cut off, and little by little and limb by limb Sulla tore him to pieces, just as if he could make him die as many times as he could maim him. And who was it who executed this command? Who but Catiline, already training his hands to every sort of crime? He hacked him to pieces before the tomb of Quintus Catulus, doing violence to the ashes of that gentlest of men, above which a hero—of evil influence, no doubt, yet popular and loved not so much undeservedly as to excess—shed his blood drop by drop. 

2c. Lucan, De Bello Civili (2.166-193). Proscriptions, including murder of Marius’ nephew, Marius Gratidianus (by Catiline). Translated by J. D. Duff (1928).

When the heads, dissolving in corruption and effaced by lapse of time, had lost all distinctive features, their wretched parents gathered the relics they recognised and stealthily removed them. I remember how I myself, seeking to place on the funeral fire denied them the shapeless features of my murdered brother, scrutinised all the corpses slain by Sulla’s peace: round all the headless bodies I went, seeking for a neck to fit the severed head. Why tell of the bloody atonement made to the ghost of Catulus? A Marius was the victim who paid that terrible offering, perhaps distasteful to the dead himself, that unspeakable sacrifice to the insatiate tomb. We saw his mangled frame with a wound for every limb; we saw every part of the body mutilated and yet no death-stroke dealt to the life; we saw the terrible form taken by savage cruelty, of not suffering the dying to die. The arms, wrenched from the shoulders, fell to the ground; the tongue, cut out, quivered and beat the empty air with dumb motion; one man cut off the ears, another the nostrils of the curved nose; a third pushed the eye-balls from their hollow sockets and scooped the eyes out last of all when they had witnessed the fate of the limbs. Few will believe such an atrocity, or that a single frame could be large enough for so many tortures. Such are men’s limbs when broken and pounded under the huge weight of a fallen building; and the dead, who have perished in mid-ocean and drifted to the shore, are not more disfigured. What made them waste their advantage and obliterate the features of Marius, as if they were of no account? They ought to have been recognisable; then the crime would find favour with Sulla and the murder would be proved.

3. Fragment of Livy in Seneca the Elder, Suasoriae 6.17. Translated by Michael Winterbottom 1974:

Livy says: “Marcus Cicero had left the city at the approach of the triumvirs, rightly regarding it as certain that he could no more be rescued from Antony than Cassius and Brutus from Caesar. First he had fled to his estate at Tusculum, then cross-country to his house at Formiae, intending to take ship at Caieta. He put out to sea several times, but sometimes the winds were against him and forced him back, sometimes he himself could not put up with the tossing of the vessel as it rolled on the dark ground-swell. Finally he grew weary of flight and of life, and, returning to the inland villa, which is little more than a mile from the sea, he said: ‘I shall die in the country I so often saved.’ There is no doubt that his slaves bravely and loyally showed readiness to make a fight of it; and that it was Cicero himself who ordered them to put down the litter and suffer calmly the compulsions of a harsh fate. He leaned from where he sat, and offered his neck without a tremor; his head was struck off. The soldiers, in their stupid cruelty, were not satisfied. They cut off the hands, too, cursing them for having written attacks on Antony. The head was taken back to Antony, and, on his orders, placed between the two hands on the rostra, where as consul, and often as ex-consul, and in that very year attacking Antony, he had been heard amid such admiration for his eloquence as had rewarded no other human voice. The Romans could scarcely bear to lift eyes wet with tears to look on his mutilated body.”

4. Fragment of Livy (Livy’s “epitaph” for Cicero) in Seneca the Elder, Suasoriae 6.22. Translated by Michael Winterbottom 1974:

“But during the long flow of success he was from time to time afflicted with great wounds, exile, the collapse of his party, the death of his daughter and his own grievous and bitter end. Yet all of these disasters he faced none but his death as becomes a man: and even that to a truthful critic might have seemed less undeserved in that he suffered at the hands of his victorious enemy no more cruelly than he would have acted had he himself enjoyed that good fortune. But, weighing his virtues against his faults, he was a great and memorable man: and to sing his praises one would need a Cicero for eulogist.”

5. Dio Cassius, Roman History (47.8). Translated by Earnest Cary, Herbert B. Foster 1917:

But Antony killed savagely and mercilessly, not only those whose names had been posted, but likewise those who had attempted to assist any of them. 2 He always viewed their heads, even if he happened to be eating, and sated himself to the fullest extent on this most unholy and pitiable sight. And even Fulvia also caused the death of many, both to satisfy her enmity and to gain their wealth, in some cases men with whom her husband was not even acquainted; 3 at any rate, when he saw the head of one man, he exclaimed: “I knew not this man!” When, however, the head of Cicero also was brought to them one day (he had been overtaken and slain in flight), Antony uttered many bitter reproaches against it and then ordered it to be exposed on the rostra more prominently than the rest, in order that it might be seen in the very place where Cicero had so often been heard declaiming against him, together with his right hand, just as it had been cut off. 4 And Fulvia took the head into her hands before it was removed, and after abusing it spitefully and spitting upon it, set it on her knees, opened the mouth, and pulled out the tongue, which she pierced with the pins that she used for her hair, at the same time uttering many brutal jests. 5 Yet even this pair saved some persons from whom they got more money than they could expect to obtain by their death; and in order that the places for their names on the tablets might not be empty, they inscribed others in their stead. Indeed, with the exception of releasing his uncle at the earnest entreaty of his mother Julia, Antony performed no praiseworthy act.

6. Appian, Civil Wars (4.19-20). Translated by Horace White 1913:

Cicero, who had held supreme power after Caesar’s death, as much as a public speaker could, was proscribed, together with his son, his brother, and his brother’s son and all his household, his faction, and his friends. He fled in a small boat, but as he could not endure the sea-sickness, he landed and went to a country place of his own near Caieta, a town of Italy, which I visited to gain knowledge of this lamentable affair, and here he remained quiet. While the searchers were approaching (for of all others Antony sought for him most eagerly and the rest did so for Antony’s sake), ravens flew into his chamber and awakened him from sleep by their croaking, and pulled off his bed-covering, until his servants, divining that this was a warning from one of the gods, put him in a litter and again conveyed him toward the sea, going cautiously through a dense thicket. Many soldiers were hurrying around in squads asking if Cicero had been seen anywhere. Some people, moved by good-will and pity, said that he had already put to sea; but a shoemaker, a client of Clodius, who had been a most bitter enemy of Cicero, pointed out the path to Laenas, the centurion, who was pursuing with a small force. The latter ran after him, and seeing slaves mustering for the defence in much larger number than the force under his own command, he called out by way of stratagem, “Centurions in the rear, to the front!”

Thereupon the slaves, thinking that more soldiers were coming, were terror-stricken, [20] and Laenas, although he had been once saved by Cicero when under trial, drew his head out of the litter and cut it off, striking it three times, or rather sawing it off by reason of his inexperience. He also cut off the hand with which Cicero had written the speeches against Antony as a tyrant, which he had entitled Philippics in imitation of those of Demosthenes. Then some of the soldiers hastened on horseback and others on shipboard to convey the good news quickly to Antony. The latter was sitting in front of the tribunal in the forum when Laenas, a long distance off, showed him the head and hand by lifting them up and shaking them. Antony was delighted beyond measure. He crowned the centurion and gave him 250,000 Attic drachmas in addition to the stipulated reward for killing the man who had been his greatest and most bitter enemy.

7. Fragment of Cornelius Severus in Seneca the Elder, Suasoriae 6.25-26. Translated by Michael Winterbottom 1974:

But none of all these eloquent men lamented the death of Cicero more finely than Cornelius Severus:

[26] “The heads of great-hearted men, still almost breathing,
Lay on the rostra that were theirs: but all were swept away
By the sight of the ravaged Cicero, as though he lay alone.
Then they recalled the great deeds of his consulship,
The conspiracy, the wicked plot he uncovered,
The aristocrat’s crime he smothered; they recalled
Cethegus’ punishment, Catiline cast down from his impious hopes.
What availed his popularity with the mob, his years
Full of honour, his life adorned by sacred arts?
One day took away the glory of an age, and struck by grief
The eloquence of the Latin tongue grew dumb with sadness.
Once the sole guard and saviour of the distressed,
Always the glorious leader of his country, champion
Of the senate, bar, laws, ritual, civil life,
Voice of the public—now silenced for ever by cruel arms.
The defaced countenance, white hairs horribly sprinkled
With blood, the sacred hands, that had served such great works,
His countryman threw down and trampled with haughty feet,
In triumph, not thinking of fate’s slipperiness
Or the gods. Antony will never pay in full for this.
Victory was kind, and never did such a thing
To Emathian Perses, dire Syphax or our enemy Philip.
When Jugurtha was led in triumph, there was
No mockery, and when fierce Hannibal fell to our wrath
He took unharmed limbs down to the shades of Styx.”

8a. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria (12.1.14). Translated by Donald A. Russell 2002:

Nor do I think Cicero in any way lacked the right attitudes of a good citizen. For evidence, I cite his magnificent consulship, his honourable administration of his province, his refusal of a place on the Commission of Twenty, and the fact that, in the dreadful civil wars which fell within his lifetime, neither hope nor fear deterred him from supporting the right side, that is to say the Republic. Some think him cowardly: he replied to this charge very well himself, by saying that he was “not a timid person when confronting peril, but timid in foreseeing it.” (Fam. 6.21.1) He proved his point again by his death itself, which he bore with outstanding courage.

8b. Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria (12.1.15). Translated by Donald A. Russell 2002:

In the ordinary sense of the words Cicero was a perfect orator—just as we ordinarily speak of our friends as good and truly prudent men, though this is not strictly true of anyone but the perfect sage. On the other hand, if I have to speak strictly and in accordance with rigorous standards of truth, I shall go on looking for the true orator whom Cicero also was looking for.

9. Plutarch, Life of Cicero (49.5-6). Translated by Bernadotte Perrin (1919):

 (5) I learn that Caesar, a long time after this, paid a visit to one of his daughter’s sons; and the boy, since he had in his hands a book of Cicero’s, was terrified and sought to hide it in his gown; but Caesar saw it, and took the book, and read a great part of it as he stood, and then gave it back to the youth, saying; “A learned man, my child, a learned man and a lover of his country.” (6) Moreover, as soon as he had finally defeated Antony, and when he was himself consul, he chose Cicero’s son as his colleague in the honors that had been paid him, and decreed besides that no Antony should have the name of Marcus. Thus the heavenly powers devolved upon the family of Cicero the final steps in the punishment of Antony. 

10. Amy Richlin, “Cicero’s head.” Constructions of the Classical Body (1999), p194:

“Thus a central Roman legal metaphor: a person whose civil status is diminished is said to undergo deminutio capitis, “lessening of the head.” This process is expressed in terms of freedom, citizenship, and family: the highest degree (maxima) occurs when a person looses freedom and citizenship by becoming a slave; the middle degree (minor or media) occurs when a person loses citizenship but retains freedom, mainly by going into exile; the lowest degree (minima) occurs when a person keeps citizenship and freedom but undergoes some change in relation to his or her family– leaving the jurisdiction of  one of the paterfamilias for the of another or for none.”

11. Amy Richlin, “Cicero’s head.” Constructions of the Classical Body (1999), p195.  

“The orators liked to stress that Cicero’s murderer was a former client and liked to say that Laenas had been defened by Cicero on a capital charge, parricide; Cicero thus had saved Laenas’ caput, had kept him a Roman citizen. But decapitation really effected a change in caput for the decapitated themselves, whose bodies were treated like those of less-than-citizen, the tainted.”

12. Amy Richlin, “Cicero’s head.” Constructions of the Classical Body (1999), p195:

“Indeed, the use of hooks points to another anomaly in the beheading of the proscribed: even execution in the carcer normally was carried out by strangling with a noose, not by beheading. The axes in the fasces— the bundles of rods carried by the consuls’ bodyguard as a mark of power over bodies– had been removed for use inside the city walls in the early Republic. The only ones to have had their throats cut (iugulari) were gladiators– and sacrificial animals; hence the appropriateness of the gesture Valerius Maximus attributes to Brutus Damasippus, who had the heads of the proscribed senators mixed with those of sacrificial animals (hostiarum).”

blame, late speeches, oratory

The point of no return. Cicero’s ‘Philippics.’

1. Copy of J. R. King (1878), The Philippic Orations of M. Tullius Cicero from BU Mugar Library. Annotated readers from May 1893 to April 1979.

2a. Modern depictions of Mark Antony:

2b. Silver denarius of Mark Antony, 32 BCE (RRC 543/1). Left: Antony; Armenian tiara behind portrait as an allusion to his conquests in the East. Right: Cleopatra with diadem, in front of the bust, a ship’s bow as an allusion to her war fleet. Image: CRRO. Sources on Cleopatra from CL 206.

3. Cicero, Philippics (1.14-15). Translated by Siobhán McElduff (2011).

I feel great anguish that men who have enjoyed the greatest benefits the Roman people can grant did not support the leadership of Lucius Piso in his noble proposal. Did the Roman people elect us to the consulship so that, having been granted so high a position, we should consider the Republic as nothing? Not only did no ex-consul verbally support Piso, no one supported him even by a look. [15] For pity’s sake, what is this voluntary slavery? I admit you had to do something; I do not require that those who speak from the ex-consuls’ bench do as I am doing. Those whose silence I forgive are a different case from those I ask to speak out; I feel sorrow that the Roman people are beginning to think those men suspect, not because they were afraid to live up to their position (which itself would be shameful) but because they all did so for different and individual reasons. This is why I am expressing the immense gratitude I feel to Piso, a man who thought not about what he could do for the Republic, but what he personally ought to do.

4. Cicero, Philippics (1.38). Translated by Siobhán McElduff (2011).

Members of the Senate, since I have reaped the rewards of my return, whatever misfortune I may encounter, I have said words which stand as testimony of my steadfastness and you have heard them with attentive kindness. And if the power to speak out frequently falls to my lot, without danger to you or me, I shall use it. If not, to the best of my ability, I shall hold myself in reserve for the Republic rather than for myself. It is enough for me that I have lived long enough for a decent lifespan and to achieve my own fame; if any extra time is granted, it will not have been granted so much to me as to you and the Republic.

5. Cicero, Philippics (2.7). Translated by Siobhán McElduff (2011).

Why, the man even read out a letter, which he said that I sent to him, being completely unaware of civilized behaviour and ignorant of how people deal with each other. What man who was even marginally familiar with the way decent men behave ever made public and openly read out letters sent to him by a friend because there was now some quarrel between them?

6. Cicero, Philippics (2.10). Translated by Siobhán McElduff (2011).

And even if he is in no sense a consul, either inhis life-style, his governing of the Republic or the way he was elected, I am without debate an ex-consul.

7. Cicero, Philippics (2.20). Translated by Siobhán McElduff (2011). See See Cicero’s poetry.

And, dear gods, you even wished to be witty at one point, something which does not suit you. In this you should accept a certain amount of blame, for you could have acquired some wit from your mime-actress wife. ‘Let weapons yield to the toga.’ And? Surely they yielded then! But later the toga yielded to your weapons. Let us ask, therefore, whether it was better if weapons of criminals yielded to the freedom of the Roman people or our freedom to your weapons? But I shall not respond more to you about my poetry; I shall only say briefly that you do not understand it, or any literature at all. I have never failed the Republic or my friends, but in every genre of the writings I completed in odd scraps of time, I have worked so that what I wrote in hours while others slept would bring some praise to Rome and be something of use to our youth. But this is not the moment for that subject; let us look at more important subjects.

8. Cicero, Philippics (2.28-29). Translated by Siobhán McElduff (2011).

Recall how that sharp man proved me guilty. ‘Right after Caesar was killed,’ he said, ‘Brutus, as he held high his bloody dagger cried out the name of Cicero and congratulated him that freedom had been restored.’ Why me in particular? Because I was in on it? Perhaps he named me because, having achieved something very like my past achievements, he wanted me in particular to witness that he had rivalled my fame. But you, since you are the stupidest man alive, do not understand that if (as you allege) it is an offence to have wished for Caesar’s killing, it is also an offence to have rejoiced at Caesar’s death. For what is the difference between someone who suggests something and someone who applauds it? What does it matter whether I wanted it done or am delighted that it was done? Is there anyone, with the exception of those who were happy that he was our king, who did not want it done or disapproved that it was done? Everyone is at fault then. Indeed, all decent men, as far as they could, killed Caesar; some may have lacked a plan, other courage, and still others the opportunity, but no one lacked the desire.

9a. Cicero, Philippics (2.63), cf. 2.50, 2.75, 84, 104; Fam. 12.2.1, 12.25.4. Translated by Siobhán McElduff (2011).

But let me say no more about the activities of his more mature depravity; let me speak, rather, about the most excessive example of his lack of respect. That throat of yours, those lungs of yours, the whole body of yours with its gladiators’ strength, sucked down so much wine at Stud’s [Hippias’] wedding that you had to vomit it up in the sight of the Roman people the next day. What a revolting thing not just to see, but to hear about! If this had happened to you at a feast right in the middle of those famous giant drinks of yours, who would not have thought it disgusting? In a gathering of the Roman people, as he was dealing with public business, the master of the horse – for whom it would be disgusting even to belch – he filled his lap and the whole platform, vomiting wine mixed with chunks of putrid food! But he admits this himself, along with his other sins – so let us come to his more splendid activities.

9b. Plutarch, Life of Mark Antony (9.3-4). Translated by Thomas Browne (1920).

This course naturally made him odious to the multitude, and to men of worth and uprightness he was not acceptable because of his life in general, as Cicero says, nay, he was hated by them. They loathed his ill-timed drunkenness, his heavy expenditures, his debauches with women, his spending the days in sleep or in wandering about with crazed and aching head, the nights in revelry or at shows, or in attendance at the nuptial feasts of mimes and jesters. We are told, at any rate, that he once feasted at the nuptials of Hippias the mime, drank all night, and then, early in the morning, when the people summoned him to the forum, came before them still surfeited with food and vomited into his toga, which one of his friends held at his service.

10. Cicero, Philippics (2.116-117). Translated by Siobhán McElduff (2011).

What sort of life is it fearing your own followers day and night, unless you have men bound to you by greater favors than the men Caesar had bound to him—and some of them killed him? Or is it that you are to be compared to him somehow? That man had brilliance, calculation, memory, literary ability, carefulness, thoughtfulness, precision. He was successful in a war, which, although it was disastrous to the Republic, was still great; for many years he aimed to rule and he achieved what he had planned with great effort and great risks. He softened up the ignorant masses with games, buildings, gifts and feasts. He bound his followers to himself with rewards, his opponents with the appearance of clemency. Why go on? He brought to a free state acceptance of slavery, partly through fear, partly through familiarity. Although I can compare you to him in your lust for power, you cannot be compared to him in anything else.

11. Cicero, Philippics (2.119). Translated by Siobhán McElduff (2011).

I would also freely offer up my person if my death would immediately bring back freedom to our state, so that the anguish of the Roman people would give birth to what it has been carrying within for along time. For, if almost twenty years ago I denied, in this very temple, that death could be premature for a man who had held the consulship, how much more truly will I deny it is premature for an old man. embers of the Senate, I should desire death after the political offices I have attained and the deeds I have done. I long for these two things only: one, that as I die i shall leave behind a free Roman people (there is nothing greater that the immortal gods can give to me); second that everyone will get his just rewards for his treatment of the Republic.


Fathers and sons. Cicero’s ‘De Officiis.’

1. 15th c. manuscript containing Cicero’s De Officiis. Vaticanus Palatinus lat. 1534, fol. 1r. Image: wikimedia.

2. Cicero, De Officiis 1.1. Translated by Thomas Habinek 2012:

To my dear son Marcus: Now that you’ve spent a year listening to Cratippus (in Athens at that!), you must be well stocked with philosophical precepts and guidelines, thanks to the great authority of a teacher and a city that can supply you with theoretical knowledge and practical examples respectively. Still, I’ve always found it helpful to use both Latin and Greek, in philosophy as well as rhetorical exercise, and I’d advise you to do the same to develop equal competence in both languages. To that end, I believe I’ve done our countrymen a real service: those who read Greek in the original — as well as those who don’t — believe that they’ve gained something useful for both public speaking and personal moral deliberation.

3. Cicero, De Officiis 1.3. Translated by Thomas Habinek 2012:

And so, Marcus, I strongly encourage you to study both my speeches and my philosophical treatises, which are almost as numerous. The speeches are more forceful, but a mild and restrained style is worth developing as well.

4. Cicero, De Officiis 1.14. Translated by Thomas Habinek 2012:

It’s no small expression of the power of nature and reason that we alone among animate beings sense order, grace and measure in words and deeds. In the case of visual perception, no other animal recognizes beauty, charm and the interrelationship of parts. Carrying the analogy from eyes to soul, nature and reason consider it all the more important to preserve beauty, consistency and order in thought and deed. They are on their guard against ugly and effeminate behaviour, and against any and every lustful thought or action. From these qualities, honourable conduct, which is our goal, is forged and fashioned. Even if it doesn’t characterize the aristocracy, it’s still honourable, just as our truthful discussion, even if no one praises it, earns the praise of nature.

5. Cicero, De Officiis 1.56-57. Translated by Thomas Habinek 2012:

But of all human associations none is more remarkable or more secure than the friendship formed by good men who have similar modes of life. The goodness or integrity I often describe, if we actually observe it in others, inspires us and makes us friendly towards those who seem to possess it. And although every virtue is attractive and leads us to cherish its possessors, justice and generosity especially prompt this reaction Moreover, nothing is more lovable, more binding, than shared good morals. People who have the same pursuits and preferences come to derive as much joy from each other as from themselves. As Pythagoras says of friendship, one person is formed from several. The sense of community generated by free exchange of kindnesses is indeed great. As long as they are welcome and mutual, such benefits create a steadfast bond between those who share them.

When you make a complete mental inventory of all associations, none is more important or more precious than the bond joining each of us to the state. Parents are dear, children are dear, so are relatives and friends; but all affectionate relationships are encompassed by our country, and no good man would hesitate to face death for its benefit. Is there anything more outrageous than the monstrous behaviour of those who have ravaged their ancestral homeland with every kind of crime, and are and have been obsessed with its utter destruction?

6. Cicero, De Officiis 1.68. Translated by Thomas Habinek 2012:

For it isn’t consistent for a soul unbroken by fear to be broken by desire, or for a person who survives an ordeal undefeated by pleasure. So desire and pleasure should be avoided, and longing for money should be rejected. Nothing so marks a mean and narrow soul as love of riches; and nothing is more honourable and grand than to despise money, if you don’t have it — and if you do have it, to use it for acts of kindness and generosity. We should be wary even of desire for glory, as I have indicated. It destroys liberty, which ought to be the goal of any struggle on the part of great-souled men. There must be no pursuing military commands; on occasion they should even be turned down or laid aside.

7. Cicero, De Officiis 1.77. Translated by Thomas Habinek 2012. See Cicero’s poetry.

And so I affirm the saying, ‘Let weapons yield to the toga, let the military laurel give way to panegyric (cedant arma togae concedat laurea laudi),’ even though jealous scoundrels attack me for doing so.

8. Cicero, De Officiis 1.113-114. Translated by Thomas Habinek 2012:

Consider how much Ulysses endured in his years of wandering: his enslavement to women-if you can call Circe and Calypso women! -his eagerness to please in every conversation. Even at home he put up with abuse from slaves and serving-girls, in order to get, someday, what he was after. But the temperament of Ajax, was such, we are told, that he would have preferred to face death a thousand times rather than suffer as Odysseus did. Each of us who looks to their example will feel obliged to take account of our own sense of self, refusing to alter it or to test whether others’ practices suit us. What best suits each person is whatever is most his own.

As a result, everyone should get to know his own disposition and become a stern judge of his own good and bad behavior. Otherwise theatre people will seem to have more insight than we do. They select not the best dramas but those best suited to their talents… Will a wise man fail to recognize in life what an actor can see onstage (ergo histrio hoc uidebit in scena, non uidebit sapiens uir in uita)?

9. Henriette van der Blom, “A family exemplum.” Cicero’s Role Models (2010), p319:

‘Even so, it is striking that Cicero recommends a path other than that taken by himself. Might it be a recognition of Marcus’ talents as being weightier in military than in oratorical fields? Or is this recommendation a surrender to the general notion of military gloria as worth more than oratorical brilliance, in spite of Cicero’s own defence of oratory as equally important? Or is it simply a reflection of the context of civil war and political unrest in which Cicero wrote.’

10. Henriette van der Blom, Henriette van der Blom, “A family exemplum.” Cicero’s Role Models (2010), p319:

‘This is another hint to Marcus’ inherited paternal glory and to the fact that Marcus will always be known as the son of his father, whether taken positively or negatively. Cicero continues his discussion not by encouraging Marcus to pursue a civil career, but instead suggesting the military way. This suggestion comes in connection with Cicero’s discussion of the way in which homines novi usually climbed up in society, namely through military service. Cicero’s mention of Pompey’s praise of Marcus indicates, however, that Marcus wanted to follow the military way, even if civil war was making such a step problematic. This passage touches on the problems faced by homines novi, and young ambitious men in general, in their attempts to reach political offices and military glory during the civil war. Despite these difficult circumstances, Cicero manages to present Marcus as exemplary, which was a good way of gaining his son’s attention, but perhaps also an attempt to accord praise to the Tullii Cicerones among the broader audience of this work. Even so, it is striking that Cicero recommends a path other than that taken by himself. Might it be a recognition of Marcus’ talents as being weightier in military than in oratorical fields? Or is this recommendation a surrender to the general notion of military gloria as worth more than oratorical brilliance, in spite of Cicero’s own defence of oratory as equally important? Or is it simply a reflection of the context of civil war and political unrest in which Cicero wrote?’

11. Michele Kennerly, “Sermo and Stoic Sociality in Cicero’s De Officiis,” Rhetorica (2010), pp128-129:

As Catulus senior and junior both recognized, there were some Roman rhetorical situations in which it was unquestionably to the orator’s advantage to assume a conversational tone and regular Gaius stance. When an orator approached his audience in such a way and succeeded in identifying with them, he had aptly demonstrated an element of Stoic social oikeiosis. Social oikeiosis extends from a more basic sort of oikeiosis through which creatures adjust themselves to conditions and contingencies in ways optimal to (that is, in accordance with) their respective natures. Animals (human included) perceive themselves and “are conscious of their own constitution” from womb exit to tomb entrance. In his Letters, Seneca explains oikeiosis with reference to toddlers and tortoises. A tot, teetering in her first efforts to walk, might tumble repeatedly, but she will fight through tears and imbalance to stand on her two legs as nature intends. A tortoise rolled over onto its shell does not suffer in that position (though the tortoise might say otherwise, if it could), but nevertheless it strains itself to flip back onto its tummy, its natural stance. Each creature, by instinct or imitation, knows which positions or actions are appropriate to itself and which are alien. Social oikeiosis pertains to the nature of a creature’s interactions with others to whom it is related (by species, language, government, city, family, etc.). The Stoic Hierocles describes our other-orientation as resulting from our needs and nature as social animals. “For this reason,” he explains, “we inhabit cities; for there is no human being who is not part of a city. Secondly, we make friendships easily.By eating together or sitting together in the theatre . . .”;’


Friendship. Cicero’s ‘De Amicitia.’

1. 15th c. manuscript containing Cicero’s De Amicitia. Palatinus lat. 1523, fol. 1r. Image: wikimedia.

2. Cicero, De Amicitia (1). Translated by W. A. Falconer (1923):

Quintus Mucius Scaevola (d. 88 BCE), the augur, used to relate with an accurate memory and in a pleasing way many incidents about his father-in-law, Gaius Laelius, and, in every mention of him, did not hesitate to call him ‘the Wise.’ Now, I, upon assuming the toga virilis, had been introduced by my father to Scaevola with the understanding that, so far as I could and he would permit, I should never leave the old man’s side. And so it came to pass that, in my desire to gain greater profit from his legal skill, I made it a practice to commit to memory many of his learned opinions and many, too, of his brief and pointed sayings. After his death I betook myself to the pontiff, Scaevola, who, both in intellect and integrity, was, I venture to assert, quite the most distinguished man of our state. But of him I shall speak at another time; now I return to the augur.

3. Cicero, De Amicitia (19-20). Translated by W. A. Falconer (1923):

For it seems clear to me that we were so created that between us all there exists a certain tie which strengthens with our proximity to each other. Therefore, fellow countrymen are preferred to foreigners and relatives strangers, for with them Nature herself engenders friendship, but it is one that is lacking in constancy. For friendship excels relationship in this, that goodwill may be eliminated from relationship while from friendship it cannot; since, if you remove goodwill from friendship the very name of friendship is gone; if you remove it from relationship, the name of relationship still remains. Moreover, how great the power of friendship is may most clearly be recognized from the fact that, in comparison with the infinite ties uniting the human race and fashioned by Nature herself, this thing called friendship has been so narrowed that the bonds of affection always united two persons only, or, at most, a few. For friendship is nothing else than an accord in all things, human and divine, conjoined with mutual goodwill and affection, and I am inclined to think that, with the exception of wisdom, no better thing has been given to man by the immortal gods.

4. Cicero, De Amicitia (63). Translated by W. A. Falconer (1923):

Some men often give proof in a petty money transaction how unstable they are; while others, who could not have been influenced by a trivial sum, are discovered in one that is large. But if any shall be found who think it base to prefer money to friendship, where shall we find those who do not put office, civil and military rank, high place and power, above friendship, so that when the former advantages are placed before them on one side and the latter on the other they will not much prefer the former? For feeble is the struggle of human nature against power, and when men have attained it even by the disregard of friendship they imagine the sin will be forgotten because friendship was not disregarded without a weighty cause. Therefore, true friendships are very hard to find among those whose time is spent in office or in business of a public kind. For where can you find a man so high-minded as to prefer his friend’s advancement to his own? And, passing by material considerations, pray consider this : how grievous and how hard to most persons does association in another’s misfortunes appear! Nor is it easy to find men who will go down to calamity’s depths for a friend.

5. Cicero, De Amicitia (67-68). Translated by W. A. Falconer (1923):

But at this point there arises a certain question of some little difficulty. Are new friends who are worthy of friendship, at any time to be preferred to old friends, as we are wont to prefer young horses to old ones? The doubt is unworthy of a human being, for there should be no surfeit of friendships as there is of other things; and, as in the case of wines that improve with age, the oldest friendships ought to be the most delightful; moreover, the well-known adage is true: “Men must eat many a peck of salt together before the claims of friendship are fulfilled.” But new friendships are not to be scorned if they offer hope of bearing fruit, like green shoots of corn that do not disappoint us at harvest-time; yet the old friendships must preserve their own place, for the force of age and habit is very great. Nay, even in the case of the horse just now referred to, everybody, nothing preventing, would rather use one to which he has grown accustomed than one that is untrained and new. And habit is strong in the case not only of animate, but also of inanimate things, since we delight even in places, though rugged and wild, in which we have lived for a fairly long time.

6. Cicero, De Amicitia (69-70). Translated by W. A. Falconer (1923):

But it is of the utmost importance in friendship that superior and inferior should stand on an equality. For oftentimes a certain pre-eminence does exist, as was that of Scipio in what I may call “our set.” But he never affected any superiority over Philus, or Rupilius, or Mummius, or over his other friends of a lower rank. For example, his brother Quintus Maximus, a distinguished man, no doubt, though by no means his equal, was treated by him as a superior, because he was older than himself. Indeed Scipio desired that he might be the cause of enhancing the dignity of all his friends. And this course every man should adopt and imitate, so that if he is endowed with any superiority in virtue, intellect, or fortune he may impart it to his relatives and share it with his next of kin; or if, for example, his parents are of a lowly station and his relatives are less favoured in mind or estate than himself, he may increase the means of the one and be the source of honour and influence to the other; as in legends, men who have for a long time lived the life of menials, because their lineage and family were unknown, although discovered and found to be the sons of gods or of kings, nevertheless retain affection for the shepherds whom for many years they regarded as their parents. And surely such a feeling ought to be much stronger in the case of real and undoubted parents. For the fruit of genius, of virtue, and, indeed, of every excellence, imparts its sweetest flavour when bestowed on those who are nearest and dearest to us.

7. Cicero, De Amicitia (77-78). Translated by W. A. Falconer (1923):

But if, on the other hand, as usually happens, a mere change of disposition and of tastes should occur, or if a difference in political views should arise (for I am talking now, as I said a moment ago, not of friendships existing between wise men, but of those of the ordinary kind), care must be taken lest it appear, not only that friendship has been put aside, but that open hostility has been aroused. For nothing is more discreditable than to be at war with one with whom you have lived on intimate terms. Scipio, as you both know, had severed his friendship with Quintus Pompeius on my account; and, moreover, because of a disagreement in politics, was estranged from my colleague, Metellus; he acted with deliberation and moderation in each instance, and without any bitter feeling of resentment. Wherefore, in the first place, pains must be taken that, if possible, no discord should arise between friends, but in case it does, then our care should be that the friendships appear to have burned out rather than to have been stamped out. And you must indeed be on your guard lest friendships be changed into serious enmities, which are the source of disputes, abuse, and invective. Yet even these, if endurable, are to be borne, and such respect is to be paid to the old-time friendship that he may be in the wrong who committed the offence and not he who suffered it.

8. P. A. Brunt, “Amicitia in the late Roman Republic,” PCPS (1965), p13:

‘Formally denounced and formally composed, inimicitiae arose in the first place (although they might also be inherited) in various ways. Men were well justified in declaring their hatred of an inimicus patriae (supra). There might be private quarrels, such as partly explained the animosity of Bibulus and Caesar. Political contentions did not suffice in themselves, unless there was personal abuse or unless a man’s status and dignity were injured, as was that of Metellus Nepos in his conflict with Cicero in 62.’


Cicero’s Poetry.

1. Harley 647 containing Cicero’s Aratea. Illustrated with the constellations. Hyginus’ commentary to the poem contained within the body of the constellations. Images: British Library. Aries (fol. 2v), Sagittarius (fol. 6r), Eridanus (fol. 10v).

2a. Tacitus, Dialogus (21.6-7). Translated by M. Hutton, W. Peterson (1914):

As to Julius Caesar we must no doubt make allowance. It was owing to his vast designs and all-absorbing activities that he accomplished less as an orator than his superhuman genius called for; just as in the case of Brutus we must leave him to his well-loved philosophy, for even his admirers admit that as an orator he did not rise to his reputation. You won’t tell me that anybody reads Caesar’s oration in defence of Decius the Samnite, or Brutus’s in defence of King Deiotarus, or any of the other speeches, all equally slow and equally flat—unless, indeed, it be someone who is an admirer also of their poetry. For they not only wrote poetry, but what is more they sent copies to the libraries. Their verse is no better than Cicero’s, but they have had more luck: it is not so notorious (quia illos fecisse pauciores sciunt).

2b. Juvenal, Satires (10.114-126). Translated by Susanna Braund (2010):

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” (o fortunatam natam me consule Romam). He could have laughed at Antony’s swords if everything he said had been like this. I rank his ridiculous verses above you, immortal Philippic, next to the first on the roll, with your distinguished reputation.

2c. Plutarch, Life of Cicero (2.3-5). Translated by Bernadotte Perrin (1919):

And although he showed himself, as Plato thought a nature should do which was fond of learning and fond of wisdom, capable of welcoming all knowledge and incapable of slighting any kind of literature or training, he lent himself with somewhat greater ardour to the art of poetry. And a little poem which he wrote when a boy is still extant, called Pontius Glaucus,  and composed in tetrameter verse. Moreover, as he grew older and applied himself with greater versatility to such accomplishments, he got the name of being not only the best orator, but also the best poet among the Romans. His fame for oratory abides to this day, although there have been great innovations in style; but his poetry, since many gifted poets have followed him, has altogether fallen into neglect and disrepute.

2d. Catullus, poem 49. Translated by Peter Green (2005), cf. Pro Caelio wk 5:

Sweetest-spoken of Romulus’ descendants,
past or present, Marcus Tullius, and all who
may yet follow in the distant future — 
warmest thanks to you herewith from Catullus,
who’s the worst of all poets, by as much the 
worst of all living poets, as yourself are
best of all courtroom lawyers for your clients.

2e. Caroline Bishop, “pessimus omnium poeta: Canonization and the Ancient Reception of Cicero’s Poetry,” ICS (2018), pp145-146:

‘After this, there is a marked decline in allusions to Cicero’s poetry, and Seneca mentions contemporary mockery of it alongside mockery of other antiquated figures like Ennius and Hortensius, a sign that it was now considered thoroughly out of date (De Ira 3.37.5). From this point on, most references to the poetry cluster around its two most infamous and mockable lines, “oh fortunate Rome, reborn in my consulship” (o fortunatam natam me consule Romam) and “let arms yield to the toga” (cedant arma togae). It is significant that these are both lines whose critical reception Cicero discusses in his prose works, suggesting that imperial authors may not have read the poetry at all—and that they were, in a sense, taking Cicero’s word for the badness of his poetry.’

3. Chronological table of Cicero’s poetry:

Ciceronian poem date  what remains evidence
Translation of Aratus’ Phaenomena (Aratea) 80s BCE (Prognostica added c. 60 BCE?) 480 lines in mss.; c. 90 lines quoted by Cicero quoted by Cicero in De Nat. Deor. 2.104-114 (45 BCE); smaller self-quotations in other Ciceronian works.
Pontius Glaucus, Nilus, Uxorius, Alcyones, Limon, Thalia Maesta 80s BCE trace quotations and titles in later sources (see Courtney 2003: 149ff.)
An epic on his consulship (De Consulatu) 60 BCE  78 lines quoted by Cicero in De Div. 1.17-22 (44 BCE).
An epic on his own exile (De temporibus suis) 56-54 BCE lost references in 2.7.1 (Feb. 55 BCE), Q. fr. 3.1.24 (Sept. 54 BCE), Fam. 1.9.23 (Dec. 54 BCE). See Harrison 1990.
An epic on Caesar’s expedition to Britain 54 BCE lost Q. fr. 3.7.6.
An epic poem on Gaius Marius (Marius) uncertain date 13 lines  quoted by Cicero in De Leg. 1.2 (after 52 BCE), Div. 1.106 (44 BCE).
Latin translations of Greek poetry in philosophical works (various)

4. Cicero, De Officiis (1.77-78). Translated by Walter Miller (1913):

The whole truth, however, is in this verse, against which, I am told, the malicious and envious are wont to rail. Yield, ye arms, to the toga; to civic praises, ye laurels. (cedant arma togae, concedat laurea laudi). Not to mention other instances, did not arms yield to the toga, when I was at the helm of state? For never was the republic in more serious peril, never was peace more profound. Thus, as the result of my counsels and my vigilance, their weapons slipped suddenly from the hands of the most desperate traitors—dropped to the ground of their own accord! What achievement in war, then, was ever so great? [78] What triumph can be compared with that? For I may boast to you, my son Marcus; for to you belong the inheritance of that glory of mine and the duty of imitating my deeds. And it was to me, too, that Gnaeus Pompey, a hero crowned with the honours of war, paid this tribute in the hearing of many, when he said that his third triumph would have been gained in vain, if he were not to have through my services to the state a place in which to celebrate it.

5. Cicero, De Legibus (1.1-2). Translated by Clinton W. Keyes (1928):

Quintus. That oak lives indeed, my dear Atticus, and will live for ever; for it was planted by the imagination. No tree nourished by a farmer’s care can be so long–lived as one planted by a poet’s verses.
Atticus. How is that, Quintus? What sort of planting is it that poets do? It seems to me that while praising your brother you are putting in a word for yourself as well.
Quintus. You may be right; but for all that, as long as Latin literature shall live, there will not fail to be an oak tree on this spot, called the “Marian Oak,” and this tree, as Scaevola says of my brother’s “Marius,” will Through countless ages come to hoary end. For I suppose you do not really believe that your beloved Athens has been able to preserve in her citadel an undying olive tree, or that the tall and graceful palm which Homer’s Ulysses said that he saw at Delos is the one shown there to–day. And in the same way many other objects in many different places live in men’s thoughts for a longer time than Nature could have kept them in existence. Therefore let us assume that this tree is that “acorn–laden” oak, from which once flewJove’s golden messenger of wondrous form. But when time or age shall have destroyed this tree, still there will be an oak tree on this spot, which men will call the “Marian Oak.”

6a. Cicero, De Natura Deorum (2.104-105). Translated by P. G. Walsh (1998):

At this moment Balbus looked over at me, and said: ‘I shall now cite some lines of Aratus. Your translation of them, which you made when you were still a stripling, gives me so much pleasure because they are in Latin that I can recall many of them from memory. So here goes, as illustration of what we continually observe with no change or variation:

The other stars of heaven glide swiftly on;
By day and night they circle with the sky.

A person desirous of contemplating the regularity of nature can never have his fill of the contemplation of those heavenly bodies:

The furthest point of the axis at either end
Is called the pole.

Around the pole the two constellations of the Bears course and never set.

The Greeks call one of them the Cynosure;
The other bears the name of Helice.

The stars in the second of these are visible all night long, and they are very bright:

The name we give to them’s ‘The Seven Oxen.’

6b. Astronomical chart of ‘Cynosure’, modern Ursa Minor:

7. Caroline Bishop, “pessimus omnium poeta: Canonization and the Ancient Reception of Cicero’s Poetry,” ICS (2018), pp153-154:

‘Cicero’s claim to eternal fame for the products of his innate eloquence was so strong that Seneca says that he is unaware of a single declaimer who argued the opposite side of this suasoria (i.e., that Cicero should burn his works and continue to live). Instead, Seneca says, “everyone was worried about Cicero’s books, no one about the man himself” (omnes pro libris Ciceronis solliciti fuerunt, nemo pro ipso, Suas. 7.10). In other words, the declaimers found it attractive to argue that Cicero was more valuable dead than alive because for them this was indeed the case: as a symbol of Republican eloquence, his death at the hands of tyranny only amplified his ability, through the process of canonization, to serve as a critic of such tyranny for later ages.’

8. Caroline Bishop, “pessimus omnium poeta: Canonization and the Ancient Reception of Cicero’s Poetry,” ICS (2018), pp141:

‘Alongside and in concert with canonization, a biographical tradition grew up around canonized Greek authors that reinforced their well-suitedness to the genres in which they composed. It has long been recognized that ancient biographers largely relied on an author’s own words for their portraits, whether or not those words were meant to be self-representational. But as Joseph Farrell has noted, ancient biographers were selective about the passages they considered illustrative of their subject’s character. Archilochus, for example, is unanimously represented in ancient biographies as “a mean-spirited, foul-mouthed, oversexed coward, drunkard, and brawler,” a feat that requires ignoring poems that do not support this characterization, such as his moving consolation of his friend Pericles (fr. 13 West). This is because Archilochus had become the canonical poet of blame, and by focusing solely on the iambic features of his poetry, his biographers could transform him into essentially an allegory for iambic poetry itself: someone whose character was so “iambic” that he could not help but be talented in the genre. In this way, biographers provided powerful confirmation of the idea that authors wrote in the genres to which their character was inherently suited.’


Cicero’s ‘De Natura Deorum.’

1. Harley 4662. 15th c. manuscript containing Cicero’s De Natura Deorum. White vine initial ‘C’. Image: British Library.

2. P. A. Brunt, ‘Philosophy and Religion in the Late Republic.’ Philosophia Togata I (1989), pp175:

‘Romans were certainly conscious that philosophic teaching was at variance with inherited religious practices and beliefs. For example, Varro (as we know through St. Augustine) followed an unidentified Greek thinker in distinguishing three types of theology, three ways of giving an account of the divine: mythical, natural, and political. Mythical theology was purveyed by the poets, natural by the philosophers, and political in the laws an civil customs of the state. Of course the poets told and interpreted the myths in various ways, the theories of the philosophers were diverse, and each people had its own gods and cults, though often ready enough, and none readier than the Romans to equate their own with foreign deities or to borrow from other peoples; still in Cicero’s epigram ‘sua cuique religio, nostra nobis’ (Flac. 69).’

3a. Cicero, De Natura Deorum (1.1). Translated by P. G. Walsh (1998):

There are many issues in philosophy which to this day have by no means been adequately resolved. But there is one enquiry, Brutus, which is particularly difficult and obscure, as you are well aware. This concerns the nature of the gods, the noblest of studies for the human mind to grasp, and one vital for the regulation of religious observance. On this question, the pronouncements of highly learned men are so varied and so much at odds with each other that inevitably they strongly suggest that the explanation is human ignorance, and that the Academics have been wise to withhold assent on matters of such uncertainty; for what can be more degrading than rash judgement, and what can be so rash and unworthy of the serious and sustained attention of a philosopher, as either to hold a false opinion or to defend without hesitation propositions inadequately examined or grasped?

3b. Cicero, De Natura Deorum (1.9). Translated by P. G. Walsh (1998):

A further incentive to embark on these studies was provided by the mental depression induced by the savage and crippling blow inflicted by fortune. Had I been able to devise some more effective alleviation, I should not have taken refuge in this. But I could find no better means of exploiting this plan of action than by devoting myself not merely to a course of reading, but also to grappling with the whole philosophy. The easiest way to gain acquaintance with all its constituent parts and branches is to deal with the topics fully in writing, for the arguments follow an ordered sequence in a remarkable way, each being clearly linked to its predecessor and all of them fitting closely in association with each other.

4. Cicero, De Natura Deorum (2.93). Translated by  P. G. Walsh (1998):

I cannot but express astonishment at this, that anyone could convince himself that certain solid, indivisible bodies are borne along by their thrust and weight, and that from the chance collision of these bodies is created a universe supremely embellished and beautiful. In my view, anyone who imagines that this could have happened, must logically have believe that if countless numbers of the twenty-one letters of the alphabet, fashioned in gold or in some other substance, were thrown into the same receptacle and then shaken out upon the ground, they could form the Annals of Ennius made immediately readable before our eyes. Yet I doubt if as much as a single line could be so assembled by chance.

5a. Cicero, De Natura Deorum (2.12). Translated by  P. G. Walsh (1998):

Augurs wield great authority, and we must surely grant that the soothsayers’ skill is divinely inspired. Any person observing these examples, and countless others of the same kind, would surely be compelled to admit that gods exist. People who employ spokesmen must themselves assuredly exist, and since the gods have spokesmen, we must conceded that gods exist. Perhaps it may be objected that all does not turn out as predicted. But we do not argue that there is no art of medicine, simply because all sick persons do not get better! The gods reveal signs of future events, and if individuals go astray in interpreting these, the fault lies not with the nature of the gods, but with the inferences made by humans. So there is a general agreement amongst all persons of every nation. All have an innate conviction that gods exist, for it is, so to say, engraved on their hearts.

5b. Cicero, De Divinatione (1.15). Translated by W. A. Falconer (1923):

Who could suppose that frogs had this foresight? And yet they do have by nature some faculty of premonition, clear enough of itself, but too dark for human comprehension [Cic., Prognostica]:

Slow, clumsy oxen, their glances upturned to the light of the heavens,
Sniff at the air with their nostrils and know it is freighted with moisture.

I do not ask why, since I know what happens.

Now ’tis a fact that the evergreen mastic, e’er burdened with leafage,
Thrice is expanding and budding and thrice producing its berries;
Triple its signs for the purpose of showing three seasons for ploughing.

Now do I ever enquire why this tree alone blooms three times, or why it makes the appearance of its blossoms accord with my knowledge that it does, although I may not know why.

6. Cicero, De Natura Deorum (2.70). Translated by  P. G. Walsh (1998):

So do you now realize how the admirable and useful discoveries about the natural world have resulted in the creation of false and fictitious deities? This process has given rise to false beliefs, confused misapprehension, and superstitions which are virtually old wives’ tales. We are informed what the gods look like, how old they are, what clothes they wear and what arms they bear, as well as about their family backgrounds, marriages, and kinships; all these details about them are reduced to the level of human frailties. They are even presented as being emotionally disturbed, for we are told of their lusts, anxieties, and outbursts of anger; those tales have it that they also participate in wars and battles, not merely as in the Homeric accounts where they separate and take sides on behalf of opposing armies, but also waging their private wars, for example with the Titans, and with the Giants. These idiotic narratives induce idiotic beliefs; they are utterly unprofitable and frivolous.

7. Cicero, De Natura Deorum (2.60-62). Translated by P. G. Walsh (1998):

With some justification, however, both the wisest men of Greece and our own ancestors have set up and lent names to many other divine natures because of the great benefits which they have conferred. They did this because they believed that anything which bestows some great service on the human race did not originate without divine beneficence. So they then applied the name of the deity itself to what that deity had brought forth. This is why we call corn Ceres, and wine Liber, as in that tag of Terence [Eunuchus 732]:

Ceres and Liber, if not there,
The heat of Venus do impair.

A further instance is when some concepts embodies a greater significance; its title then acknowledges that significance as divine. Examples are Faith and Mind, both of which we observe have been recently enshrined on the capitol by M. Aemilius Scaurus, Faith having earlier been lent divine status by Aulus Atilius Caiatinus. Before your eyes stands a temple of Virtue and Honor, which was restored by Marcus Marcellus, and which was dedicated many years earlier by Quintus Maximus during the war with Liguria. Need I mention the temples of Wealth, Safety, Concord, Freedom, Victory? In each case the impact of these concepts was so great that it could be controlled only by a god, and thus the concepts themselves gained the titles of gods. Desire, Pleasure, and Sexual Joy have similarly been deified; these are vicious and unnatural forces, even if Velleius thinks otherwise, for these very vices rage too fiercely, and banish our natural instincts. So these gods which spawned these several blessings have owed their divine status to the great benefits which they bestowed, and the power residing in each deity is indicated by the names which I cited a moment ago.”

8. Cicero, De Natura Deorum (2.167). Translated by P. G. Walsh (1998):

Our conclusion is that no great man ever existed without a measure of divine inspiration. We are not to reject this thesis just because a storm has damaged someone’s cornfields or vineyards, or because misfortune has deprived a person of one of life’s benefits, inducing us to consider the recipient of such misfortune as the victim of divine hatred or neglect. The gods attend to important issues, and disregard minor things.


Cicero’s ‘Tusculan Disputations’

1. Illuminated manuscript of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations. Naples, late 1450s or early 1460s. Image: Christie’s.

2. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations (1.3). Translated by Tom Habinek (2012):

In literature and culture, Greece used to surpass us: an easy conquest when we didn’t fight back! Among the Greeks the earliest kind of learned men were poets. If it’s true that Homer and Hesiod date to before the foundation of Rome, and Archilochus to the reign of Romulus, then it was much later that we Romans adopted the poetic art. Livius staged a play roughly 510 years after the founding of Rome, during the consulship of Gaius Claudius (the son of Caecus) and Marcus Tuditanus, in the year prior to the birth of Ennius. It took a long time for our people to acknowledge, much less welcome, poets.

3. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations (1.6). Translated by Tom Habinek (2012):

My project has become more urgent now that a number of hastily composed ‘Latin treatises’ have made their appearance. The authors of these works are respectable fellows, but badly educated. Even when they have their arguments in order, they don’t express them with any flair. They waste their free time– and do a discredit to literature– when they commit thoughts to writing without knowing how to arrange or enliven them or give an pleasure to the reader. And so they just end up reading each other’s books!

4. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations (1.12). Translated by Tom Habinek (2012):

‘You are talking in circles again! People must exist to be unhappy. But you just now stated that the dead don’t exist. And if they don’t exist, they can’t be a thing — not even unhappy.’
‘Maybe I am not saying what I really mean. What you just described — not existing when once you did exist — that, I think, is the worst kind of misery.’

5. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations (1.17). Translated by Tom Habinek (2012):

But I’m no Pythian Apollo, making pronouncements that are fixed and unchanging. I’ll speak as a mere mortal, one of many, developing likely arguments through the use of reasonable inference. I don’t have the capacity to go beyond my perception of what seems to be true. We can leave certainty to people who claim it’s possible and who boast of their own wisdom.

6. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations (1.30). Translated by Tom Habinek (2012):

Who is there who does not mourn the death of those near to him primarily because he thinks they have been deprived of the benefits of life? Take away that belief and you take away mourning. People might feel hurt and distressed at their own loss, but that’s not the reason they go into mourning. Sorrowful weeping and lamentation communicate sadness that is based on our judgement that someone we cherished has been deprived of the good things of life — and senses that very loss.

7. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations (1.62). Translated by Tom Habinek (2012):

Finally, consider the power of the mind to pursue the unknown, its capacity to create or invent. Do you think this ability is a compound of earthly matter, subject to death and decay? What about the person who exercised the highest type of wisdom, as Pythagoras would have it, and gave names to everything? or herded scattered men together and called them to lives of companionship, or divided the infinity of possible sounds into a small set of letters, or observed the paths of the stars, their forward motions and their standstills? All such men were great. Even greater were those who discovered food, clothing, shelter, ordered behavior, and defenses against wild animals. They tamed and civilized our species; thanks to them we passed from mere crafting of necessities to more elegant forms of life.

8. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations (1.64). Translated by Tom Habinek (2012):

In my view, none of the more noteworthy human achievements has come about without divine influence. I don’t think a poet can proclaim his deep and ample song without heavenly inspiration. Eloquence needs a higher power to release its flood of resonant language and persuasive sayings. As for philosophy, the mother of all the arts, what else is it but the gift of the gods (to use Plato’s expression) or their discovery (to use mine).

9. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations (1.75). Translated by Tom Habinek (2012):

For what else are we doing when we call the soul away from pleasure, that is to say, from the body; or from family property, which is the aid and attendant of the body; or from public affairs and every occupation? What – except calling it to itself, urging it to be with itself and drawing it away entirely from the body? To separate the soul from the body is the same thing as learning how to die. Let us practice this separation, let us us bind ourselves from our bodies and grow accustomed to dying.

10. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations (1.86). Translated by Tom Habinek (2012):

As for my friend Pompey, although he was gravely ill at Naples, he recovered. The Neapolitans responded by wearing wreaths; of course the residents at Puteoli did too. Folks came from the neighboring towns to offer congratulations. Frankly, it was a silly business, typically Greek, but a mark of good fortune nonetheless. If he had died on that occasion, would he have departed from good things or from bad? Surely from terrible things. For he wouldn’t have waged war with his father-in-law, he wouldn’t have taken up arms unprepared, he wouldn’t have abandoned his home, fled from Italy, and, after losing an army, fallen naked onto the sword and hands of his slaves. His children wouldn’t have worn themselves out weeping, his property wouldn’t belong to his conquerors. Had he passed away on that occasion, he would have died in the fullness of fortune; but thanks to the extension of his life, how many huge and unbelievable calamities he had to endure! These are the sorts of things death allows us to escape—because if they haven’t yet happened, they still can. But people don’t think they’ll encounter such misfortune. Everybody expects to have the good luck of Metellus, as if more of us are lucky than unlucky or any certainty exists in human affairs! As if it’s wiser to hope than to fear!

history, oratory

Cicero’s ‘Brutus.’ The history of oratory.

1a. M. Junius Brutus (85-42 BCE). In 54 BCE Brutus minted a coin depicting two of his ancestors: L. Junius Brutus, who expelled the kings from Rome, and Servilius Ahala, who killed Spurius Maelius in 439 BCE with dagger hidden under an armpit. RRC 433/2. Images:

+ Kathryn Tempest’s (@KathrynTempest) Brutus: The Noble Conspirator (2017) = highly recommended! for a stimulating reevaluation of Caesar’s assassin.

1b. On the idea that Cicero’s Brutus (46 BCE) provoked Brutus to kill Caesar (44 BCE)…:

2a. Cicero, Brutus (16). Translated by G. L. Hendrickson (1939):

I am prepared to make payment of goodwill in full measure, but the debt itself I do not now seem able to pay and for this I ask your forbearance. I cannot undertake to repay you out of the new crop, as farmers do, for all new growth has been checked within me, and drought has burned and withered all that flowering which once promised abundance. Nor can I repay you from the garnered grain of my storehouse; it lies there in darkness and I who alone have the key find every approach to it cut off. I must therefore sow something in soil uncultivated and abandoned, and by careful cultivation make it possible to increase with interest the generosity of your gift; that is if my mind can respond as well as a field, which after lying fallow for many years generally yields a richer harvest.

2b. Sarah Culpepper Stroup, “Brutus: the dialogic personification of the Republican voice,” Catullus, Cicero, and a Society of Patrons (2010), p255:

‘In his stylization of Rome’s oratorical masters as the “ancestors” of Republican Eloquentia, Cicero transforms the abstracted silence of the Republican voice into a personal family tragedy — a tragedy for which he, as the eldest surviving son of the oratorical family, will deliver the eulogy.’

3. Cicero, Brutus (57-59). Translated by G. L. Hendrickson (1939):

But the first Roman concerning whom there is extant record of his eloquence, and evidence of his recognition for it, is Marcus Cornelius Cethegus [cos. 204 BCE]. The authority for this statement, and an adequate one I fancy, is Quintus Ennius, especially since he had heard him speak and writes of him after his death, so that no suspicion of distortion because of friendship can arise. The passage of Ennius, if I recall aright, is found in the ninth book of the Annals and runs as follows:

To his colleague Tuditanus was added the orator
Marcus Cornelius Cethegus, of the sweet-speaking tongue, son of Marcus.

He calls him orator and adds the attribute of sweetness of speech, a thing you do not find nowadays in most of them—more barking in some than speaking; but what follows is certainly the greatest title to praise in eloquence:

He used to be called by his fellows of that time,
The men who then lived and passed their restless days,
The choice flower of the people—

and well said indeed; for as reason is the glory of man, so the lamp of reason is eloquence, for preeminence in which the men of that time did well to call such a man the flower of the people,

the marrow of Persuasion.

Πειθώ the Greek term, which it is the business of the orator to effect, Ennius calls Persuasion [Suada], the very marrow of which Cethegus was, he claims; so that of that goddess, which according to Eupolis [5th c. BCE playwright, Old Comedy] ever sat on the lips of Pericles, our orator was, he said, the very marrow.

4a. Cicero, Brutus (81-82). Translated by G. L. Hendrickson (1939):

As for Quintus Metellus [cos. 143 BCE], whose four sons attained to consular rank, you are of course aware that he was esteemed one of the most eloquent men of his time. He spoke in behalf of Lucius Cotta against the indictment of him brought by Africanus. This and other of his orations are extant besides the one against Tiberius Gracchus, which is set forth in the Annals of Gaius Fannius. Lucius Cotta himself was esteemed a practised speaker, but of routine type. Gaius Laelius and Publius Africanus [cos. 147 BCE] however were in the first rank of orators; their speeches are extant, from which one may judge of their oratorical genius. But among all of these, preceding them a little in point of time, Servius Galba [cos. 144 BCE] stood out beyond question as pre-eminent in eloquence. And in fact of Latin orators he was the first to employ those resources which are the proper and legitimate functions of the orator—to digress from the business in hand for embellishment, to delight his listeners, to move them, to amplify his theme, to use pathos and general topics. But for whatever cause, though his pre-eminence in eloquence is well attested, his orations are more meagre and savour more of antiquity than those of Laelius or Scipio, or even of Cato himself. Their colours have become so much faded that they are scarcely still visible.

4b. Cicero, Brutus (93-94). Translated by G. L. Hendrickson (1939):

They are satisfied with the renown they have, and judge that it will appear greater if their writings do not come into the hands of critics. Still others do not write because they are aware that they speak better than they write—the case frequently with men of unusual talent but insufficient training, like Galba. In his case it would seem that when he spoke, in addition to vigorous intellectual grasp, he was fired by a kind of innate emotion, which produced a style of speaking earnest, passionate, and vehement; then when he took up his pen at leisure and all that storm of emotion had subsided, his language lost its vigour. That would not happen naturally to those who follow a more concise style of speaking, because reason and judgement need not desert the orator at any time, and relying upon them he may write in the same manner as he speaks; but powerful emotion is not always present, and when it has subsided, all that force and fire of oratory goes out. This then is the reason why the mind of Laelius still breathes in his writings, the force of Galba has vanished.

5. Cicero, Brutus (62). Translated by G. L. Hendrickson (1939):

Of these some are, to be sure, extant, which the families of the deceased have preserved as trophies of honour and for use on the death of a member of the same family, whether to recall the memory of past glories of their house, or to support their own claims to noble origins. Yet by these laudatory speeches our history has become quite distorted; for much is set down in them which never occurred, false triumphs, too large a number of consulships, false relationships and transitions of patricians to plebeian status, in that men of humbler birth professed that their blood blended with a noble family of the same name, though in fact quite alien to them; as if I, for example, should say that I was descended from Manius Tullius the patrician, who was consul with Servius Sulpicius ten years after the expulsion of the kings.

6. Catherine Steel, “Cicero’s Brutus: the end of oratory and the beginning of history?” BICS (2002), p203:

‘In general, then, Cicero seeks to eliminate content from his discussion, or at least the content of deliberative speeches, and to explain success in terms of technical skill. A similar avoidance of content can be seen in the discussion of specific popularis orators. Of the Gracchi, Tiberius is dealt with in 103-4, and Gaius in 125-126, and Cicero makes no secret of his admiration for the talent of both: his praise is strikingly warm. Tiberius had the potential to outstrip, along with his ally Carbo, all others in gloria, and Gaius is ‘a man who combined an outstanding intellect with passionate enthusiasm and a learned education which began in his childhood’ [Brut. 125]. But, at the same time, the uses to which they put their oratorical talents are condemned. In Tiberius, there is a negative link between talent and activity, implied through a wish for better things: ‘Would that the dispositions of Gaius Carbo and Tiberius Gracchus had been as inclined to do the state good as their intellects were inclined to good speaking . . .’ [Brut. 103]And in Gaius’ case too Cicero indicates his actual unsatisfactoriness through a wish: ‘Would that he had wanted to demonstrate his piety towards his country instead of to his brother!’ [Brut. 126] Yet there is no real discussion of the actions which Tiberius and Gaius took.’

7. Cicero, Brutus (8-9). Translated by G. L. Hendrickson (1939):

Thus, amidst other things far more deplorable, it was to me a peculiar sorrow, that after a career of conspicuous achievements, at an age when it was my right to take refuge in a harbour, not of indolence and sloth, but of honourable and well-ordered ease, when my oratory too had attained a certain ripeness and maturity of age,—it was, I say, a peculiar sorrow that at that moment resort was had to arms, which those who had learned to use them gloriously did not find a way to use them beneficently. Those men therefore appear to me to have lived fortunate and happy lives, in other states and especially in our own, whom fate permitted to enjoy to the end the authority acquired by the renown of their deeds, and the esteem earned by their wisdom.

8. Cicero, Brutus (45-46). Translated by G. L. Hendrickson (1939):

This age therefore first produced at Athens an orator all but perfect. For the ambition to speak well does not arise when men are engaged in establishing government, nor occupied with the conduct of war, nor shackled and chained by the authority of kings. Upon peace and tranquillity eloquence attends as their ally, it is, one may say, the offspring of well-established civic order.a Thus Aristotle says that in Sicily, after the expulsion of tyrants, when after a long interval restitution of private property was sought by legal means, Corax and Tisias the Sicilians, with the acuteness and controversial habit of their people, first put together some theoretical precepts; that before them, while many had taken pains to speak with care and with orderly arrangement, no one had followed a definite method or art.