philosophy

Cicero’s ‘Tusculan Disputations’

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

1. 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.

2. 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!

3. 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.’

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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).

8. 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.

9. 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!

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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: http://numismatics.org/collection/1944.100.3244

+ 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.

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slavery

Cicero and Tiro.

1a. Slave collar with tag, origin unknown (4th-5th c. CE). National Museum of Rome, Baths of Diocletian. Image: Lisl Walsh on twitter, who notes a problem with the English didactic at the museum.

1b. Sandra Joshel, Slavery in the Roman World (2010), p119-120:

‘Troublesome slaves were marked on their faces with brands or, more likely, tattoos to identify them and the “crimes” for which they had been marked. When caught, some slaves had metal collars riveted around their necks: the collar had an engraving that identified the slave as a fugitive, and often requested his return to his owner. The tag on the [p120] collar from Rome reads: “I have run away: hold on to me. When you return me to my master Zoninus, you will get a gold solidus” (Selected Latin Inscriptions 8731). The use of these collars was common enough that the message could be abbreviated “TMQF” (tene me quia fugio) — Hold on to me since I flee (Selected Latin Inscriptions 9454).’

1c. Jerry Toner, The Roman Guide to Slave Management (2014), p76:

‘There is plenty of evidence for the sexual abuse of slaves. A combination of the powerful position that the master had over his slaves and their lack of basic rights means that this should not come as a surprise. The fact that the philosopher emperor Marcus Aurelius was proud of himself for resisting the temptations posed by two beautiful slaves suggests that this was not a course that most masters would have taken. There was little stigma attached in masters having sex with boys and adolescent males: all slaves were there for the master to take advantage of if he so wished, whatever their sex or age. Many masters would have been classified as paedophiles in the modern world. Unwanted slave pregnancies were sufficiently common to joke about. There is a hint of the resentment sexual abuse could cause in Petronius’ Satyricon (ch. 57), when a freedman notes that, “I bought freedom for the slave woman who had shared my bed, so that no one could wipe his filthy hands on her breast.” In the same work (ch. 75), Trimalchio says that he had as a boy become his master’s favourite for fourteen years, but defends it by saying, “I mean, what’s wrong with doing what your master wants?”‘

1d. Thomas Habinek, ‘Slavery and Class,’ in S. Harrison (ed.) A Companion to Latin Literature (2005), p385:

‘Slaves made Latin literature possible. In a broad sense, the productive energies of slaves and other dependent labourers generated the surplus that sustained the leisure, or otium, necessary (in the Roman view) for the production and consumption of literary texts. In a narrower sense, slaves and ex-slaves, functioning as readers, researchers, amanuenses, tutors, librarians, copyists, referees and critics were integral to the creation and circulation of texts and to the transmission of the various kinds of knowledge that informed them. Indeed, for all we know, a Roman author was no more responsible for the literary works attributed to him than a modern fashion designer can be said to have ‘made’ the clothing sold under his or her label. The Roman ego was expandable, not limited by the boundaries of a single body. Just as the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘you’ could signify ‘my slaves and I’ or ‘you and your slaves’, so in practice a slave performed as a prosthesis of his master, even when that master was an esteemed writer.’

2. Cicero, Letter to Quintus (3.1.19), 54 BCE. Translated by Shackleton Bailey.

After I had written these last lines which are in my own hand, your son came over to us for dinner, as Pomponia was dining out. He gave me your letter to read, which he had received shortly before — a charming, serious letter upon my word, in the manner of Aristophanes. I was quite delighted with it. He also gave me the other letter, in which you tell him to stick close to me and regard me as his teacher. How pleased these letters made him, and me likewise! He is the most charming boy, and no one could be fonder of me. I dictated the above to Tiro at dinner, in case the different handwriting may surprise you.

3. Quintus Cicero, Letter to Marcus (Fam. 16.16.1), 53 BCE. Translated by Shackleton Bailey.

My dear Marcus, as I hope to see you again and my boy and my Tulliola and your son, I am truly delighted with what you have done about Tiro, in judging his former condition to be below his deserts and preferring us to have him as a friend rather than a slave. Believe me, I jumped for joy when I read your letter and his. Thank you, and congratulations! If Statius’ loyalty gives me so much pleasure, how highly you must value the same qualities in Tiro, with the addition of literary accomplishments and conversation and culture, gifts worth even more than they! I have all manner of great reasons to love you, but this is a reason — the very fact that you so properly announced the event to me is a reason. I saw all that is you in your letter.

4a. Cicero, Letter to Tiro (Fam. 16.4.1, 4), 50 BCE. Translated by Shackleton Bailey.

You say the doctor has a good reputation, and so I hear myself; but frankly, I don’t think much of his treatments. You ought not to have been given soup with a weak stomach… [4] Take my word for it, dear Tiro, that nobody cares for me who does not care for you. Your recovery is most important to you and me, but many others are concerned about it. In the past you have never been able to recruit yourself properly, because you wanted to give me of your best at every turn. Now there is nothing to stand in your way. Put everything else aside, think only of your bodily well-being (corpori serui). 

4b. Quintus Cicero, Letter to Tiro (Fam. 16.26). Uncertain place and date, although often dated to 44 BCE. Translated by Shackleton Bailey.

A second packet has reached me with no letter from you, and my thoughts have drubbed you (uerberaui te) with reproaches, though I say nothing. You cannot hope to escape punishment for this offence if you conduct your own case. You must call Marcus in and see whether he can prove you innocent with a speech long pondered in the watches of many a night. I really do beg of you — I remember how our mother in the old days used to seal up empty bottles, so that bottles drained on the sly could not be included with the empties—so you likewise write, even though you have nothing to write about, so that you are not suspected of having scraped an excuse to cover your idleness. Your letters always tell me things most true and agreeable. Love us and good-bye.

4c. Sandra Joshel, Slavery in the Roman World (2010), p11-12:

‘Letters to Tiro from Cicero, his brother Quintus, and his son Marcus testify to the family’s concern, care, and affection for Tiro. Congratulating his brother when he freed Tiro, [p12] Quintus remarks that Cicero preferred that Tiro be the family’s friend, not its slave (Fam. 16.16.1). Yet as the classicist Mary Beard points out, the brothers continue to play on the language of service and slavery in their letters to the free Tiro (2002). Encouraging Tiro to recover from an illness, Cicero orders him “to be a slave to his body,” meaning that he should put his body before everything else and take care of his health (16.4.4). In 44 BCE, Quintus makes a joke about flogging: he has, he tells the former slave, flogged Tiro in his mind for not writing him (16.26.1). Twenty-first-century readers may find it difficult to see the humor in a joke about whipping addressed to a former slave. About Tiro’s point of view, nothing is known.’

5. Pliny the Younger, Ep. 7.4.3-6. On Cicero and Tiro. Translated by Betty Radice.

While I was staying in my house at Laurentum I had Asinius Gallus’s works read aloud to me, in which he draws a comparison between his father and Cicero and quotes an epigram of Cicero’s on his favourite Tiro (in Tironem suum). Then, when I had retired for my siesta (it was summer) and was unable to sleep, I began to reflect upon the fact that all the greatest orators had amused themselves with this kind of writing and had seen merit in doing so. I set my mind to it, and, to my surprise, in spite of being long out of practice, I had soon expressed the very thought which had inspired me to write. This was the result:

Reading the works of Gallus, where he ventures
To hand the palm of glory to his father,
I found that Cicero could unbend his talent
To play with polished wit on lighter theme.
He showed how well the minds of mighty men
Enjoyed the pleasure of much varied charms:
Tiro, he says, defrauds and cheats his lover;
Kisses—not many—promised for a dinner
Are afterwards denied when night-time comes.
Why then conceal my blushes, fear to publish
My Tiro’s wiles and coy endearing favours
Whereby he heaps the fuel on my passion?

6. Beware the ‘happy slave’ narrative!! William C. McDermott, “M. Cicero and M. Tiro,” Historia (1972), p262-263:

‘In summary, we see in the evidence of the letters unique tribute to an admirable relationship between M. Cicero and M. Tiro. The essential nobility of Cicero’s character is well illustrated, and a picture of Tiro emerges – a very model of industry, learning, and devotion.’

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women

Terentia, Tullia, Publilia.

1. Portrait of a Wife and Husband. Wall painting from Pompeii. Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale. Image: wikimedia.

2a. Plutarch, Life of Cicero (19-20). Terentia during the Catilinarian conspiracy (63 BCE).

[19] It was now evening, and the people were waiting about the temple in throngs, when Cicero came forth and told his fellow-citizens what had been done. They then escorted him to the house of a friend and neighbour, since his own was occupied by the women, who were celebrating mysterious rites to a goddess whom the Romans call Bona Dea, and the Greeks, Gynaeceia. Sacrifice is offered to her annually in the house of the consul by his wife or his mother, in the presence of the Vestal Virgins…

[20] While Cicero was in this perplexity, a sign was given to the women who were sacrificing. The altar, it seems, although the fire was already thought to have gone out, sent forth from the ashes and burnt bark upon it a great bright blaze. The rest of the women were terrified at this, but the sacred virgins bade Terentia the wife of Cicero go with all speed to her husband and tell him to carry out his resolutions in behalf of the country, since the goddess was giving him a great light on this path to safety and glory. So Terentia, who was generally of no mild spirit nor without natural courage, but an ambitious woman, and, as Cicero himself tells us, more inclined to make herself a partner in his political perplexities than to share with him her domestic concerns, gave him this message and incited him against the conspirators.

2b. Susan Treggiari, Terentia, Tullia, and Publilia (2007), p46:

‘As consul’s wife, Terentia was a source of patronage, especially for women. One Contemporary source, the Sicilian Diodorus, gave an account of a plot of the Catilinarian conspirators which seems to be doublet of the attempt to assassinate Cicero on 7 November. They thought of killing leading men by infiltrating their houses at the Saturnalia in December. It was this, according to Diodorus, which a young man (not named here) betrayed to his mistress (again, unnamed). She went to the “wife of Cicero” and warned her (40.5. a fragment). In the usual version, Cicero got information from Fulvia [=Sallust, Bellum Catilinae 23], the mistress of Q. Curius, and Terentia is not mentioned. But, on the use of Terentia as an intermediary by a woman informant, Diodorus is convincing.’

2c. Susan Treggiari, Terentia, Tullia, and Publilia (2007), p48-49:

‘But a great deal of intervention by wives was acceptable and so normal that it was taken for granted and is rarely mentioned in our sources. For instance, in 62, Cicero wrote to P. Sestius, who was serving as proquaestor in Macedonia, about whether he wished to be replaced. An earlier letter from Sestius suggests that he did, but one of his trusted agents had been to see Cicero and told him that the proquaestor wanted to stay in the province. Cicero had not been sure if this was right and Sestius had indeed changed his mind until he followed up the matter with a certain Q. Cornelius and Sestius’ wife, Cornelia, arranged a meeting with Terentia. Here we see Cornelia as the repository of the most up-to-date instructions from her husband, contacting the consular’s wife quite formally to ensure that Cicero would oppose the recall of Sestius and persuade Sestius’ other friends in the senate to do the same. Terentia was a trusted intermediary. It was etiquette for the junior senator’s wife to approach her and not Cicero himself.’

3. Plutarch, Life of Cicero (29). The Bona Dea scandal (Dec. 62 BCE), Cicero, Clodia, Terentia…  

Now, Cicero was a friend of Clodius, and in the affair of Catiline had found him a most eager co-worker and guardian of his person; but when Clodius replied to the charge against him by insisting that he had not even been in Rome at the time, but had been staying in places at the farthest remove from there, Cicero testified against him, declaring that Clodius had come to his house and consulted him on certain matters; which was true. However, it was thought that Cicero did not give his testimony for the truth’s sake, but by way of defence against the charges of his own wife Terentia. For there was enmity between her and Clodius on account of his sister Clodia, whom Terentia thought to be desirous of marrying Cicero and to be contriving this with the aid of a certain Tullus; now, Tullus was a companion and an especial intimate of Cicero, and his constant visits and attentions to Clodia, who lived near by, made Terentia suspicious. So, being a woman of harsh nature, and having sway over Cicero, she incited him to join in the attack upon Clodius and give testimony against him.

4. Cicero, Letter to Quintus (1.3.3). Written from exile. Thessalonica, 13 June 58 BCE. Translated by Shackleton Bailey

You can imagine how I weep as I write these lines, as I am sure you do as you read them. Can I put you out of my mind sometimes, or ever think of you without tears? When I miss you, I do not miss you as a brother only, but as a delightful brother almost of my own age, a son in deference, a father in wisdom. What pleasure did I ever take apart from you or you apart from me? And then at the same time I miss my daughter, the most loving, modest, and clever daughter a man ever had, the image of my face and speech and mind. Likewise my charming, darling little boy, whom I, cruel brute that I am, put away from my arms. Too wise for his years, the poor child already understood what was going on. Likewise your son, your image, whom my boy loved like a brother and had begun to respect like an elder brother. As for my loyalest of wives, poor, unhappy soul, I did not let her come with me so that there should be someone to protect the remnants of our common disaster, the children we have in common.

5. Cicero, Letter to Terentia (Fam. 14.4.1). Written as Cicero was going into exile. Brundisium, 29 April 58 BCE. Translated by Shackleton Bailey.

I send you letters less often than I have opportunity, because, wretched as every hour is for me, when I write to you at home or read your letters I am so overcome with tears that I cannot bear it. If only I had been less anxious to save my life! Assuredly I should have seen no sorrow in my days, or not much. If Fortune has spared me for some hope of one day recovering some measure of well-being, my error has not been so total. But if these present evils are to stay, then, yes, I want to see you, dear heart, as soon as I can, and to die in your arms, since neither the Gods whom you have worshipped so piously nor the men to whose service I have always devoted myself have made us any recompense.

6a. Cicero, Letter to Appius Claudius Pulcher (Fam. 3.12.1-2). Written as Cicero was returning from Cilicia, Side 3 or 4 August 50 BCE. Translated by Shackleton Bailey.

Indeed I do congratulate you heartily on the corruption trial—not on your acquittal, which was a foregone conclusion,… As for me, please for a moment put yourself in my shoes, imagine you are I; and if you have no difficulty in finding what to say, I won’t ask you to forgive my embarrassment! I should indeed wish that the arrangement made by my family without my knowledge may turn out well for my dear Tullia and myself, as you are charming and kind enough to desire. But that the thing should have come about just when it did—well, I hope and pray some happiness may come of it, but in so hoping I take more comfort in the thought of your good sense and kind heart than in the timeliness of the proceeding! And so how to get out of the wood and finish what I have begun to say I cannot tell. I must not take a gloomy tone about an event to which you yourself wish all good luck; but at the same time I can’t but feel a rub.

6b. Cicero, Letter to Atticus (6.6). Contemporary with 5a. Translated by Shackleton Bailey, with adjustments.

Here am I in my province paying Appius all manner of compliments, when out of the blue I find his prosecutor becoming my son-in-law! ‘Good luck to that,’ say you. So I hope and I am sure you so desire. But believe me it was the last thing I expected. I had actually sent reliable persons to the women (mulieres) in connexion with Tiberius Claudius Nero, who had treated with me. They got to Rome after the betrothal. However I hope this is better. The women are evidently quite charmed with the young man’s attentiveness and engaging manners.

7. Susan Treggiari, Terentia, Tullia, and Publilia (2007), p36:

‘Cicero notoriously went to one party where the only woman known to be present was not the sort who could mix with senators’ wives. The dinner was at the house of P. Volumnius Eutrapelus and she, Volumnia Cytheris, was his freedwoman and had been his mistress and an actress, therefore disqualified on three counts from socialising with upper-class women. But this was probably while Cicero was divorced and he seems not to have made a habit of this kind of thing.’

8. Susan Treggiari, Terentia, Tullia, and Publilia (2007), p47:

‘In his speeches, Cicero exploited his love for his family to illustrate the sacrifice he was prepared to make for his country. In fact, his execution of the conspirators came back to haunt him and to threaten his family. If Terentia, as hostess at the sacrifice to the Good Goddess, was responsible for announcing a favourable omen which steeled his resolution, she was morally implicated. Plutarch (Cic. 202) says she spurred him on. That rite was the high point of the year of the consul’s wife, but it came at a moment of crisis: Terentia rose to on both occasions.’

9. Susan Treggiari, Terentia, Tullia, and Publilia (2007), p123-124:

‘Tullia told Cicero of the kindness Atticus had been showing her, but her presence was not the tonic it usually was [p124]:

I have not been able to take from her courage, kindliness and love the pleasure I ought to have taken from such an extraordinary daughter. Instead, I have been overcome by unbelievable pain at the realisation that such a human being is condemned to such a wretched lot and that this happens through no sin of her own, but by my grievous fault. Att. 11.17, Brundisium, 12 or 13 June 47.’

10. Susan Treggiari, Terentia, Tullia, and Publilia (2007), p124:

‘Cicero continued to blame himself for the mess he had got into by leaving Italy in 49 and then by going back. His political career was in ruins, and this affected the standing of his wife and daughter, and his political decisions and his general negligence of financial matters had completely changed the financial situation and expectations of the family. But the disaster suffered by Tullia, her failed marriage with Dolabella, was not his responsibility. Although it might be considered partly Cicero’s fault that he had not seen her married before he left (compulsorily) for Cilicia, Tullia and her mother had chosen Dolabella. It was a poor choice, for reasons which Cicero had seen clearly at the time. Dolabella’s track record was bad and he did not change his ways. But Cicero was meticulous in avoiding any flavour of ‘I told you so.’ He did not exculpate all his family for his own anguish: ‘we have brought it all on ourselves by those mistakes and sufferings of mind and body, which I wish those nearest to me had chosen to heal.’ Att. 11.25, Brundisium 5 July 47.’

11. Susan Treggiari, Terentia, Tullia, and Publilia (2007), p33:  

‘We know from Quintus that Helvia was a frugal manager. Quintus writes to his brother’s secretary Tiro to ask him to keep the letters coming even if he has no news: he should just send an empty letter so that Quintus will know he is not being cheated of correspondence. This will be just like his mother, who used to seal all the empty wine-bottles so that she could tell that no unauthorized person was drinking the wine.’ 

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A world of letters.

1. BL Kings MS 23, f. 1., 14th c. manuscript containing Cicero’s Epistulae ad Familiares. Image: British Library.

2. Peter White, Cicero in Letters (2010), p15:

‘Traces of missing letters in the published correspondence seem too numerous and too widely distributed to be explained by postal failure, deficient archives, or other impersonal causes. Whoever published Cicero’s letters must first have sorted through them, selecting and discarding in light of guidelines nowhere made explicit. But once we accept that editorial choice was being exercised, we can begin to perceive types of letters that were passed over.’

3. Catherine Edwards, “Epistolography,” A Companion to Latin Literature (2005), p273:

‘The letters chart shifts in Cicero’s self-perception, at the same time working to present a more fluid, intimate picture of their author to external readers, a picture that many have found significantly more attractive than those discernible from Cicero’s public speeches or philosophical writings. Cicero’s letters were apparently composed without the anticipation that they would be published. They are full of allusions and references that need explication if they are to be understood by later readers. Indeed the letters to Atticus occasionally seem to assume that no one besides the addressee will read them; Cicero comments, for instance, in 1.16, ‘I don’t feel that I am bragging when I talk about myself in your hearing, especially in a letter that I don’t wish to be read to other people’ (61 BC). The letters of Cicero are often contrasted, in this – and other – respects with Pliny’s letters, which, as we shall see below, were, it seems, written specifically with a view to publication.’

4. Peter White, Cicero in Letters (2010), p106:

‘Still, Cicero is more attuned to his correspondents as individuals than as members of a class. Although almost all would have received the usual literary and rhetorical education, he does not presume that all cherished literary interests. In letters to only about a third of them does he touch even lightly on literature, mentioning particular books, for example, or quoting verse or talking of culture (studia, doctrina, litterae) in the abstract. One manifestation of reserve in this regard can be seen in his deployment of quotations from Greek poetry. More than a hundred are found in his letters to Atticus (where they are twice as frequent as quotes in Latin). The long stays in Greece that had earned Atticus his name had made him as conversant with Greek as with Roman culture. Not quite a dozen citations of Greek verse occur in Cicero’s letters to his brother, who as a young man had accompanied Cicero on his study tour of Greece and Asia in the early 70s. A dozen more quotations are sprinkled through letters to just five other persons. This distribution suggests that Cicero’s quotations are neither decorative nor random elements but are carefully calculated, and I would argue that that is true of most of his other evocations of literature. Cicero considered not only the background and interests of the person to whom he was writing but also the particular effects he wanted to achieve when he brought the subject up.’

5. Catherine Edwards, “Epistolography,” A Companion to Latin Literature (2005), p272:  

‘The first kind is that which conveys important information to those who are far away. But when there is no such information to be sent, letters may be classed as ‘intimate and humorous’ (familiare et iocosum) or else as ‘austere and serious’ (severum et grave). Cicero’s addressees include those with whom Cicero was evidently on close terms, such as Curio and Caelius, but also others, such as the powerful aristocrats Lentulus Spinther and Appius Pulcher, whom he knew much less well. Letters to those in the second category tend to be couched in an elaborate and formal style that differs little from that of Cicero’s published works of other kinds. Letters to close friends, above all those to Atticus, are by contrast full of the vulgar terms, neologisms and diminutives that have come to be seen as the distinctive features of Cicero’s informal letter-writing. This latter style is of course no less self-conscious and carefully worked.’

6. Peter White, Cicero in Letters (2010), p61:

‘Some idea of the subject matter that the editor favored can be gained by comparing extant letters with letters that are missing. The most obvious bias is, as just noted, toward political content, dramatic political content above all, for which the editor was willing to stretch the parameters of his project. He included some letters he discovered in the files that were not only not written by Cicero, but not written to him either. He was also fond of letters in which a writer spread himself in the “O tempora, o mores!” vein, and less interested in detail about parliamentary discussions or public trials. The editor discarded many letters covering Cicero’s life out of the public spotlight: letters about family relations, business affairs, literary and other cultural pursuits, and purely social interactions. He was also leery of including isolated letters that could not be integrated into a context of some sort.’

7. Peter White, Cicero in Letters (2010), p41-42:

‘There are four places, however, in which it is difficult to resist the conclusion that text has been deliberately abridged. One occurs in a letter that Cicero wrote to Appius Claudius Pulcher (Fam. 3.10 = 73 SB), the man he succeeded as (p.42) governor of Cilicia. At this point in their exchange, each was accusing the other of actions that slighted and undermined him. Cicero insists that he has acted only from the most generous motives, which he enunciates at length. At the very end of the letter, he turns to steps he has taken to ensure that no discreditable evidence reaches Rome during Appius’s trial for official misconduct. The transition is as follows: “But so much for all that; perhaps I have even gone on at greater length than was necessary. Now let me inform you what initiatives and arrangements have been forthcoming on my side.” The next sentence in the manuscripts reads, “And these things we have done and will continue to do, more in furtherance of your dignity than in aid of your trial” (sed haec hactenus; pluribus enim etiam fortasse verbis quam necesse fuit scripta sunt. nunc ea quae a me profecta quaeque instituta sunt cognosce * * * atque haec agimus et agemus magis pro dignitate quam pro periculo tuo, Fam. 3.10.11 = 73 SB). A passage recounting helpful interventions in Cilicia has evidently disappeared.’

8. Ruth Morello, “Writer and addressee in Cicero’s letters,” Cambridge Companion to Cicero (2013), p210.

‘In Fam. 15.4, Cicero constructs an ‘epistolary code’ which figures Cato as synecdochically representative of the senate as a whole, makes him first recipient (before even the senate) of official news from a proconsul in the field, and highlights the distinctively ‘Catonian’ mandate for Cicero’s campaign. Thus Cicero turns to flattering use the persona he depicts in more critical terms in Att. 2.1.8 where he makes his famous joke that Cato speaks as if he were in Plato’s Republic rather than Romulus’ cesspit, and then again more positively in Att. 6.1.13 where he measures contemporary governors (including himself) against what he calls Cato’s ‘blueprint’ (‘politeuma’).’

9. Peter White, “The Editing of the Collection,” Cicero in Letters: Epistolary Relations of the Late Republic (2010) p59.

‘The point just made about letters from correspondents was also true of enclosures and letters of recommendation: the editor has selected material that privileges the topmost stratum of Roman society… Élisabeth Déniaux’s table of correspondents in the extant books lists ninety-seven named persons, of whom seventy-four are senators. Thirty-six books or more that are lost once contained a correspondence with Pompey, Brutus, Caesar, Octavian, Pansa, Hirtius, Axius, Licinius Calvus, Marcus junior, and Cornelius Nepos, of whom all but the last two are senators.

This concentration on Cicero’s relations with fellow members of the governing class may seem unremarkable, since it undoubtedly suits the tastes of most readers ancient and modern. But let us nevertheless take a moment to inventory some of the available correspondents whom the editor passed over. The published collection preserves almost none of Cicero’s letters to magnates in the towns of Italy or in the provinces. It contains no letters to persons in his hometown of Arpinum, for example, or to regional clients he accumulated as quaestor in Sicily and afterward, and almost none to some three dozen people whom he identifies as hospites. And while the editor made a point of including letters of recommendation, he retained little of the background communication with the persons on whose behalf the recommendations were written. The collection also contains none of Cicero’s exchanges with Greek intellectuals whom he cultivated, such as the philosophers Aristus, Diodotus, Cratippus, and Posidonius and the grammatici Nicias and Tyrannio. The only member of his domestic staff represented in the edition is Tiro, though Cicero often wrote to Philotimus and the tutor Dionysius as well, and nothing survives of an active correspondence with the businessmen Vestorius and Vettienus.’ 

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Theatricality. Cicero’s Pro Caelio.

1. Paris Lat. 7794, 9th c. manuscript containing Ciceronian orations including Pro CaelioImage: Bibliothèque nationale de France.

2a. Catullus, poem 49. Translated by Peter Green.

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.

2b. Catullus, poem 58. Translated by Peter Green.

Caelius, Lesbia — our dear Lesbia, that one,
that Lesbia whom alone Catullus worshipped
more than himself, far more than all his kinsfolk —
now on backstreet corners and down alleys
jacks off Remus’s generous descendants.

3. Cicero, Pro Caelio (6). Translated by D. H. Berry.

But slander is one thing, prosecution another. Prosecution requires a basis for a charge, and then to determine the facts, to identify the person responsible, to prove the case by argument, and back it up with evidence. Slander, on the other hand, has no object except to insult. If its character is coarse, it is termed abuse, but if sophisticated, it is termed wit.

4. Cicero, Pro Caelio (30). Translated by D. H. Berry.

I shall not venture, therefore, to reply to your criticisms as I ought. For I could ask you to make an exception for the young, and beg your pardon. But, as I say, I shall not do this: I shall not take refuge in my client’s youth, and I give up the rights to which anyone would be entitled. All I ask is that, whatever general disapproval there may currently be concerning young men’s debts, dissipation, and licentious behaviour– and I know that on this subject there is considerable disapproval — my client should not be made to suffer for other people’s misdemeanours, or for the vices of youth and of the age in which we live

5. Cicero, Pro Caelio (37). Translated by D. H. Berry.

I come to you now, Caelius: it is your turn; and I am going to assume a father’s authority and strictness. But I am unsure which particular father I ought to choose—the harsh, overbearing one in Caecilius: ‘Now at last my mind is ablaze, now my heart is heaped with anger,’ or perhaps this one:
‘What am I to say? What am I to wish for? By doing such disgraceful deeds, you make all my wishes vain’ —intolerable! A father like that would say, ‘Why did you go to live so near to that prostitute? Why did you not flee the moment you became aware of her allurements? Why have you got to know a woman who is a stranger to us? Scatter and squander for all I care! If you run out of money, it’ll be you that suffers; I have enough to see me through the years I have left.’…But to a mild and lenient father—the sort who would say, ‘he has broken open a door: it can be repaired; he has torn someone’s clothes: they can be mended’—Caelius’ case is an extremely easy one to make. For what charge could there possible be that he would not find it easy to defend himself against? I am not at this point saying anything against that woman.

6a. Matthew Leigh, “The Pro Caelio and Comedy,” Classical Philology (2004), p304:

‘More specifically, it will be apparent to all that Clodia Metelli is in no technical sense a meretrix. Rather, she is the child of one of the most distinguished aristocratic families in Rome and the widow of Q. Metellus Celer, consul of 60 B.C.E. To confess to or even, as Wilfried Stroh would have it, invent this affair, is therefore a calculated risk on the part of the defense, and depends on the assumption that the revelation will do far more damage to the reputation of Clodia than it does to that of Caelius. In particular, to call Clodia a meretrix is to associate her with a group technically forbidden to give evidence in court; to suggest that Caelius has been the lover of a widow does not technically expose him to legal censure, but such a statement would be far more damaging to his reputation were that widow not also understood to live like a courtesan.’

6b. Matthew Leigh, “The Pro Caelio and Comedy,” Classical Philology (2004), p322:

‘Is it, in short, possible that not just the characters of drama but also the speakers operating in the forum were accustomed to rehearse and deliver formal rhetorical loci even at this early point in the development of Roman culture?’

6c. Matthew Leigh, “The Pro Caelio and Comedy,” Classical Philology (2004), p326:

‘There is, I recognize, a serious risk inherent in the interpretative strategy adopted hitherto in this study: to speak of Cicero’s attempt fundamentally to alter the jury’s perspective on a trial de vi by redimensioning it as a comedy may leave the impression of a greater formal separation between comedy and rhetoric than can truly be said to have held. For acting and oratory are indeed cognate activities in Greek and Roman culture, and this comes across in many different ways: the grand and passionate style is equated with tragedy; the uninflated and humorous style with comedy; comic authors study humor in oratory; noted orators write for the stage; the actors Roscius and Aesopus take as strong an interest in the great orators as the orators take in them.’

7. Cicero, Pro Caelio (79). Translated by D. H. Berry.

But when you have set the picture of this young man in front of you, place before your eyes also the picture of his old and unhappy father here; he totally depends on this his only son, he places all his hopes on him, and he is afraid for him alone. This old man is a suppliant before your compassion, a slave before your power, and a beggar not so much before your feet as before your instincts and your sensibilities. Recall the memories you have of your parents or the delight you take in your children and raise this man up, so that in assuaging another person’s grief you may indulge your own filial duty or else your own fatherly love.

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Blame. Cicero’s In Pisonem.

1. Paris Lat. 7788, 15th c. manuscript containing Ciceronian orations including In Pisonem. Image: Bibliothèque nationale de France.

2. Cicero, In Pisonem (1). Translated by N. H. Watts.

[SOME OF THE BEGINNING IS MISSING]…Do you begin to see, monster, do you begin to realize how men loathe your impudence? No one complains that some Syrian or other, some member of newly-made slaves, has become consul. We were not deceived by your slavish complexion, your hairy cheeks, and your discoloured teeth; it was your eyes, eyebrows, forehead, in a word your whole countenance, which is a kind of dumb interpreter of the mind, which pushed your fellow-men into delusion; this it was which tricked, betrayed, inveigled those who were unacquainted with you.

3. Cicero, In Pisonem (51-52). Translated by N. H. Watts.

Why should I tell of my arrival at this place and at that, how the inhabitants flocked out of their towns to greet me, how fathers of families with their wives and children gathered from their countrysides, and how everywhere on my arrival and return those days were kept like solemn festivals of the immortal gods? [52] That single day of my restoration to my country was to me a sort of immortality, when I saw the senate and the entire people of Rome gathered outside the city, and when Rome herself seemed to dislodge herself from her fixed abode and go forth to embrace her saviour. And her reception of me was such that not only all men and women of all classes, ages, and ranks of society, of every circumstance and every position, but even the very walls, buildings, and temples of the city seemed to show their joy.

4. Cicero, In Pisonem (73). Translated by N. H. Watts.

I should like to know, please, what fault you have to find with the line, “Arms to the gown must yield.” “You assert,” rejoins Piso, “that the greatest general will yield to the gown.” What, you ass! must I begin to teach you your letters? For that I shall need not words but a cudgel. When I said “gown” I did not mean the gown I am wearing at this moment, nor, when I said “arms,” did I mean the shield or sword of any particular general; but, since the gown is the symbol of peace and repose, and arms that of unrest and war, I did but speak after the fashion of poets, intending to convey the meaning that war and unrest would yield to peace and repose.

5. John Dugan, “How to make (and break) a Cicero, Epideixis, Textuality, and Self-fashioning in the Pro Archia, and In Pisonem,” Classical Antiquity (2001), p37.

‘A letter written in 55, Cicero’s private solicitation for an ornate laudatory historical monograph from Lucceius (Fam. 5.12), parallels his negotiations with Archias and makes clear what literary “polish” should provide, namely, a version of events that smoothes away traces of unflattering incidents from the author’s narrative. Cicero makes this request, moreover, after the disgrace of his exile, and so this letter manifests the Pro Archia’s tactics within the very different political circumstances that Cicero confronts in the In Pisonem. In that speech, invective inverts the self-fashioning strategies used in the Pro Archia in order to debunk Piso’s image, and to recuperate Cicero’s own prestige at the expense of Piso’s. The In Pisonem has the same long-range cultural ambitions as the Pro Archia, but without the previous speech’s hopes for tangible short-term success. Faced with his inability to cause Piso real political damage commensurate to that which he claims to have suffered at Piso’s hands, Cicero crafts an ornately polished caricature of Piso designed to achieve canonical durability.’ 

6. John Dugan, “How to make (and break) a Cicero, Epideixis, Textuality, and Self-fashioning in the Pro Archia, and In Pisonem,” Classical Antiquity (2001), p51.

‘By metaphorically co-opting a representational mode within the nobiles’ exclusive domain, Cicero employs a subversive strategy that makes a liability into an asset. In Sallust’s account, Marius, the other Arpinate novus homo, questions the integrity of the imagines as a sign system that re ects true nobility and claims that his “imagines” are the war trophies and the scars that he received in battle. Likewise, Cicero claims that his self-presentation through literary imagines exploits a mimetic capacity that is greater than that of the aristocrats’ imagines, while he also emphasizes the formative role played by artistic “polish” in literary representation. Cicero’s program is more innovative and culturally ambitious than Marius’, whose critique of the nobiles’ image-system is based on his prowess in the traditionally valued realm of warfare. Cicero, in contrast, implicitly critiques the standard Roman notion of virtus by extending it beyond soldiering and even politics and into the realms of rhetoric, literature, and the aesthetic.’

7. Cicero, In Pisonem (99). Translated by N. H. Watts.

‘Never have I thirsted for your blood; never have I invoked against you that final execution of law and judgement which may visit the just and the unjust alike. But to see you abject, despised, scorned by your fellows, a thing that despairs of itself and lives abandoned by itself, that peers into every corner and quakes at every whisper, that lives mistrustful of itself, without voice, liberty or authority, stripped of its consular pride, a shivering, trembling, fawning wretch—this have I desired to see you; and my desire has been gratified.’

8a. Isabel Köster, “Feasting Centaurs and Destructive Consuls in Cicero’s In Pisonem,” Illinois Classical Studies (2014), p73.

‘The close correspondence between Piso and a Centaur makes Cicero’s brief remark a memorable insult. Now that the orator’s audience has been introduced to the idea that the consul is in fact like a mythological beast, we are primed for further explorations of this theme. The comparison in Pis. 22 is not an isolated insult, but instead can provide a lens through which we can view the rest of the invective. Though there are no more explicit references to Centaurs in the remainder of the speech, Piso’s biography continues to show similarities to his mythological counterpart, which in turn stresses the danger that he continues to pose to Roman and, especially later in the speech, Greek society.’

8b. Pirithous and Hippodamia receive centaurs at the wedding. Fresco from Pompeii (House of Gavius Rufus VII, 2, 16). Naples Inv. No. 9044. Image: wikimedia.

9. Isabel Köster, “Feasting Centaurs and Destructive Consuls in Cicero’s In Pisonem,” Illinois Classical Studies (2014), pp75-76.

‘Piso is not only someone who destroys whatever cultural achievement he encounters, he also is always marked as a foreigner. This becomes especially clear when at Pis. 20, he is described as barbarus Epicurus, a “foreign Epicurus.” [p76] The phrase is odd: after all Piso is a Roman and Epicurus a Greek. Cicero’s remark, however, reverses the situation: Epicurus is the native standard, and Piso, by contrast, is the foreign element. He is marked as an outsider to both Greek and Roman society, and the long description of his effects on Greece’s physical landscape and philosophical achievements that follows the banquet in Pis. 22 repeatedly emphasizes that he is a barbarian, or worse, an animal. The half-man, half-human Centaur is therefore the ideal analogy for him: it picks up on his status as a social outsider and also on his animal-like behavior. Moreover, for someone who styles himself as a devotee of Greek learning and culture, there is no more fitting mythological counterpart than a creature who, when one allows it to participate in Greek social rituals, causes widespread destruction.’

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