Life of Cicero, 1–49

Plutarch  translated by Bernadotte Perrin

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1It is said of Helvia, the mother of Cicero, that she was well born and lived an honourable life; but of his father nothing can be learned that does not go to an extreme. For some say that he was born and reared in a fuller’s shop, while others trace the origin of his family to Tullus Attius,[1] an illustrious king of the Volscians, who waged war upon the Romans with great ability. 2However, the first member of the family who was surnamed Cicero seems to have been worthy of note, and for that reason his posterity did not reject the surname, but were fond of it, although many made it a matter of raillery. For “cicer” is the Latin name for chick-pea, and this ancestor of Cicero, as it would seem, had a faint dent in the end of his nose like the cleft of a chick-pea, from which he acquired his surname. 3Cicero himself, however, whose Life I now write, when he first entered public life and stood for office and his friends thought he ought to drop or change the name, is said to have replied with spirit that he would strive to make the name of Cicero more illustrious than such names as Scaurus or Catulus. 4Moreover, when he was quaestor in Sicily and was dedicating to the gods a piece of silver plate, he had his first two names inscribed thereon, the Marcus and the Tullius, but instead of the third, by way of jest, he ordered the artificer to engrave a chick-pea in due sequence. This, then, is what is told about his name.

2It is said that Cicero was born, without travail or pain on the part of his mother, on the third day of the new Calends,[2] the day on which at the present time the magistrates offer sacrifices and prayers for the health of the emperor. It would seem also that a phantom appeared to his nurse and foretold that her charge would be a great blessing to all the Romans. 2And although these presages were thought to be mere dreams and idle fancies, he soon showed them to be true prophecy; for when he was of an age for taking lessons, his natural talent shone out clear and he won name and fame among the boys, so that their fathers used to visit the schools in order to see Cicero with their own eyes and observe the quickness and intelligence in his studies for which he was extolled, though the ruder ones among them were angry at their sons when they saw them walking with Cicero placed in their midst as a mark of honour. 3And although he showed himself, as Plato[3] 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. 4His 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.

3After he had finished the studies of boyhood, he attended the lectures of Philon the Academic, whom, above all the other disciples of Cleitomachus, the Romans admired for his eloquence and loved for his character. At the same time he consorted with Mucius Scaevola, a statesman and leader of the senate, and was helped by him to an acquaintance with the law; and for a little while he also did military service under Sulla in the war against the Marsians.[4] 2Then, seeing that the commonwealth was hurrying into factions, and from factions into unlimited monarchy, he betook himself to a retired and contemplative life, associated with Greek scholars, and pursued his studies, until Sulla got the mastery and the state appeared to be somewhat settled.[5]

About this time Chrysogonus, a freedman of Sulla’s, put up at public auction the estate of a man who, as it was said, had been put to death under proscription, and bought it in himself for two thousand drachmas.[6] 3Then Roscius, the son and heir of the deceased, was indignant and set forth clearly that the estate was worth two hundred and fifty talents, whereupon Sulla, enraged to have his actions called in question, indicted Roscius for the murder of his father, Chrysogonus having trumped up the evidence. No advocate would help Roscius, but all avoided him through their fear of Sulla’s cruelty, 4and so at last, in his destitution, the young man had recourse to Cicero. Cicero’s friends encouraged him to undertake the case, arguing that he would never again have a more brilliant or a more honourable opportunity to win fame. Accordingly, he undertook the defence of Roscius,[7] won his cause, and men admired him for it; but fearing Sulla, he made a journey to Greece, after spreading a report that his health needed attention. 5For in fact he was spare and lean, and owing to a weakness of the stomach could only with difficulty take a little light food late in the day; his voice, however, was full and strong, but harsh and unmodulated, and since, owing to the vehemence and passion of his oratory, it was always forced into the higher tones, it made men apprehensive for his health.

4On coming to Athens he attended the lectures of Antiochus of Ascalon, and was charmed by his fluency and grace of diction, although he disapproved of his innovations in doctrine. For Antiochus had already fallen away from what was called the New Academy and abandoned the sect of Carneades, either moved thereto by the clear evidence of the sense-perceptions,[8] or, as some say, led by a feeling of ambitious opposition to the disciples of Cleitomachus and Philon to change his views and cultivate in most cases the doctrine of the Stoics. 2But Cicero loved the systems which Antiochus discarded and devoted himself the rather to them, purposing, in case he was altogether driven out of a public career, to change his home to Athens, away from the forum and the business of the state, and spend his life in the quiet pursuit of philosophy.

3But word was now brought to him that Sulla was dead,[9] and since his body, strengthened by exercise, was taking on a vigorous habit, while his voice, acquiring modulation, had grown pleasant to the ear, and had been moderated into keeping with the habit of his body; and since, moreover, his friends at Rome earnestly besought him by letter and Antiochus strongly urged him to apply himself to public affairs, he once more sought to prepare for service therein his instrument, as it were, to wit his rhetorical style, and to rouse to action his political powers, diligently cultivating himself in declamation and taking lessons of the popular rhetoricians. With this end in view he made a voyage to Asia and Rhodes. 4In Asia, he studied oratory with Xenocles of Adramyttium, Dionysius of Magnesia, and Menippus the Carian; in Rhodes, oratory with Apollonius the son of Milon, and philosophy with Poseidonius.[10] Apollonius, we are told, not understanding the Roman language, requested Cicero to declaim in Greek, with which request Cicero readily complied, thinking that in this way his faults could better be corrected. 5After he had declaimed, his other hearers were astounded and vied with one another in their praises, but Apollonius was not greatly moved while listening to him, and when he had ceased sat for a long time lost in thought; then, since Cicero was distressed at this, he said: “Thee, indeed, O Cicero, I admire and commend; but Greece I pity for her sad fortune, since I see that even the only glories which were left to us, culture and eloquence, are through thee to belong also to the Romans.”

5However, though Cicero, full of hope, was being borne on towards a political career, a certain oracle took the edge from his eager desire. When he inquired, namely, of the god at Delphi how he could become most illustrious, the Pythian priestess enjoined upon him to make his own nature, and not the opinion of the multitude, his guide in life. 2And so during the first part of his time at Rome[11] he conducted himself with caution, was reluctant to sue for office, and was therefore neglected, being called “Greek” and “Scholar,” those names which the low and ignorant classes at Rome were wont to give so readily. But he was naturally ambitious and was urged on by his father and his friends, and so when he gave himself in earnest to the work of an advocate, he did not advance slowly to the primacy, but his fame shone forth at once, and he far surpassed those who strove with him for distinction in the forum.

3But it is said that he too, no less than Demosthenes, was weak in his delivery, and therefore sought with care to imitate now Roscius the comedian, and now Aesop the tragedian. This Aesop, they tell us, was once acting in a theatre the part of Atreus planning to take vengeance on Thyestes, when one of the assistants suddenly ran across the scene, and the actor, losing control of himself in the intensity of his passion, smote him with his sceptre and laid him dead. 4Now, Cicero’s delivery contributed not a little to his persuasive power. Moreover, of those orators who were given to loud shouting he used to say jestingly that they were led by their weakness to resort to clamour as cripples were to mount upon a horse. And his readiness to indulge in such jests and pleasantry was thought indeed to be a pleasant characteristic of a pleader; but he carried it to excess and so annoyed many and got the reputation of being malicious.

6He was appointed quaestor[12] at a time when grain was scarce, and had the province of Sicily allotted to him, where he annoyed people at first by compelling them to send grain to Rome. But afterwards they found him careful, just, and mild, and honoured him beyond any governor they had ever had. 2Moreover, when large numbers of young men from Rome, of illustrious and noble families, were accused of lack of discipline and courage in the war and sent up for trial to the praetor of Sicily, Cicero pleaded their cause brilliantly and won the day. While he was journeying to Rome, then, highly elated over these successes, he had a laughable experience, as he tells us.[13] 3In Campania, namely, he fell in with an eminent man whom he deemed his friend, and asked him what the Romans were saying and thinking about his achievements, supposing that he had filled the whole city with the name and fame of them; but his friend said: “Where, pray, have you been, Cicero, all this while?” 4At that time, then, as he tells us, he was altogether disheartened, seeing that the story of his doings had sunk into the city as into a bottomless sea, without any visible effect upon his reputation; but afterwards he reasoned with himself and abated much of his ambition, convinced that the fame towards which he was emulously struggling was a thing that knew no bounds and had no tangible limit. 5However, his excessive delight in the praise of others and his too passionate desire for glory remained with him until the very end, and very often confounded his saner reasonings.

7And now that he was engaging in public life with greater ardour, he considered it a shameful thing that while craftsmen, using vessels and instruments that are lifeless, know the name and place and capacity of every one of them, the statesman, on the contrary, whose instruments for carrying out public measures are men, should be indifferent and careless about knowing his fellow-citizens. 2Wherefore he not only accustomed himself to remember their names, but also learned to know the quarter of the city in which every notable person dwelt, where he owned a country-place, what friends he had, and what neighbours; so that whatever road in Italy Cicero travelled, it was easy for him to name and point out the estates and villas of his friends.

3His property, though sufficient to meet his expenses, was nevertheless small, and therefore men wondered that he would accept neither fees nor gifts for his services as advocate, and above all when he undertook the prosecution of Verres. This man, who had been praetor of Sicily, and whom the Sicilians prosecuted for many villainous acts, Cicero convicted, not by speaking, but, in a way, by actually not speaking. 4For the praetors favoured Verres, and by many obstacles and delays had put off the case until the very last day,[14] since it was clear that a day’s time would not be enough for the speeches of the advocates and so the trial would not be finished. But Cicero rose and said there was no need of speeches,[15] and then brought up and examined his witnesses and bade the jurors cast their votes. Nevertheless, many witty sayings of his in connection with this trial are on record. 5For instance, “verres” is the Roman word for a castrated porker; when, accordingly, a freedman named Caecilius, who was suspected of Jewish practices, wanted to thrust aside the Sicilian accusers and denounce Verres himself, Cicero said: “What has a Jew to do with a Verres?” Moreover, Verres had a young son, who had the name of lending himself to base practices. Accordingly, when Cicero was reviled by Verres for effeminacy, “You ought,” said he, “to revile your sons at home.” 6And again, the orator Hortensius did not venture to plead the cause of Verres directly, but was persuaded to appear for him at the assessment of the fine, and received an ivory sphinx as his reward; and when Cicero made some oblique reference to him and Hortensius declared that he had no skill in solving riddles, “And yet,” said Cicero, “thou hast the Sphinx at thy house.”

8When Verres had thus been convicted, Cicero assessed his fine at seven hundred and fifty thousand denarii,[16] and was therefore accused of having been bribed to make the fine a low one. The Sicilians, however, were grateful to him, and when he was aedile brought him from their island all sorts of live stock and produce; from these he derived no personal profit, but used the generosity of the islanders only to lower the price of provisions.

2He owned a pleasant country-seat at Arpinum, and had a farm near Naples and another near Pompeii, both small. His wife Terentia brought him besides a dowry of a hundred thousand denarii, and he received a bequest which amounted to ninety thousand. From these he lived, in a generous and at the same time modest manner, with the Greek and Roman men of letters who were his associates. He rarely, if ever, came to table before sunset, not so much on account of business, as because his stomach kept him in poor health. 3In other ways, too, he was exact and over-scrupulous in the care of his body, so that he actually took a set number of rubbings and walks. By carefully managing his health in this way he kept it free from sickness and able to meet the demands of many great struggles and toils. The house which had been his father’s he made over to his brother, and dwelt himself near the Palatine hill,[17] in order that those who came to pay their court to him might not have the trouble of a long walk.[18] 4And men came to his house every day to pay him court, no fewer than came to Crassus for his wealth or to Pompey because of his influence with the soldiery, and these were the two greatest men among the Romans and the most admired. Nay, Pompey actually paid court to Cicero, and Cicero’s political efforts contributed much towards Pompey’s power and fame.

9Although many men of importance stood for the praetorship along with Cicero, he was appointed first of them all;[19] and men thought that he managed the cases which came before him with integrity and fairness. It is said, too, that Licinius Macer, a man who had great power in the city on his own account and also enjoyed the help of Crassus, was tried before Cicero for fraud, and that, relying upon his influence and the efforts made in his behalf, 2he went off home while the jurors were still voting, hastily trimmed his hair and put on a white toga in the belief that he had been acquitted, and was going forth again to the forum; but Crassus met him at the house-door and told him that he had been convicted unanimously, whereupon he turned back, lay down upon his bed, and died. 3And the case brought Cicero the reputation of having been a scrupulous presiding officer. Again, there was Vatinius, a man who had a harsh manner and one which showed contempt for the magistrates before whom he pleaded; his neck also was covered with swellings. As this man once stood at Cicero’s tribunal and made some request of him, Cicero did not grant it at once, but took a long time for deliberation, whereupon Vatinius said that he himself would not have stuck at the matter had he been praetor. At this Cicero turned upon him and said: “But I have not the neck that you have.”

4Two or three days before his term of office expired, Manilius was brought before him on a charge of fraudulent accounting. This Manilius had the good will and eager support of the people, since it was thought that he was prosecuted on Pompey’s account, being a friend of his. On his demanding several days in which to make his defence, Cicero granted him only one, and that the next; and the people were indignant because it was customary for the praetor to grant ten days at least to the accused. 5And when the tribunes brought Cicero to the rostra and denounced him, he begged for a hearing, and then said that he had always treated defendants, so far as the laws allowed, with clemency and kindness, and thought it an unfortunate thing that Manilius should not have this advantage; wherefore, since only one day was left to his disposal as praetor, he had purposely set this day for the trial, and surely it was not the part of one who wished to help Manilius to defer it to another praetor’s term. 6These words produced a wonderful change in the feelings of the people, and with many expressions of approval they begged Cicero to assume the defence of Manilius. This he willingly consented to do, chiefly for the sake of Pompey, who was absent, and once more mounting the rostra harangued the people anew, vigorously attacking the oligarchical party and those who were jealous of Pompey.

10Yet he was advanced to the consulship no less by the aristocrats than by the common people, and in the interests of the city, both parties seconding his efforts for the following reasons. The change which Sulla had made in the constitution at first appeared absurd, but now it seemed to the majority, owing to lapse of time and their familiarity with it, to afford at last a kind of settlement which was not to be despised. There were those, however, who sought to agitate and change the existing status for the sake of their own gain, and not for the best interests of the state, while Pompey was still carrying on war with the kings in Pontus and Armenia, and there was no power in Rome which was able to cope with the revolutionaries. 2These had for their chief a man of bold, enterprising, and versatile character, Lucius Catiline, who, in addition to other great crimes, had once been accused of deflowering his own daughter and of killing his own brother; and fearing prosecution for this murder, he persuaded Sulla to put his brother’s name, as though he were still alive, in the list of those who were to be put to death under proscription.[20] 3Taking this man, then, as their leader, the miscreants gave various pledges to one another, one of which was the sacrifice of a man and the tasting of his flesh.[21] Moreover, Catiline had corrupted a large part of the young men in the city, supplying each of them continually with amusements, banquets, and amours, and furnishing without stint the money to spend on these things. Besides, all Etruria was roused to revolt, as well as most of Cisalpine Gaul. 4And Rome was most dangerously disposed towards change on account of the irregularity in the distribution of property, since men of the highest reputation and spirit had beggared themselves on shows, feasts, pursuit of office, and buildings, and riches had streamed into the coffers of low-born and mean men, so that matters needed only a slight impulse to disturb them, and it was in the power of any bold man to overthrow the commonwealth, which of itself was in a diseased condition.

11However, Catiline wished to obtain first a strong base of operations, and therefore sued for the consulship; and he had bright hopes that he would share the consulship with Caius Antonius, a man who, of himself, would probably not take the lead either for good or for bad, but would add strength to another who took the lead. 2Most of the better class of citizens were aware of this, and therefore put forward Cicero for the consulship, and as the people readily accepted him, Catiline was defeated, and Cicero and Caius Antonius were elected.[22] And yet Cicero was the only one of the candidates who was the son, not of a senator, but of a knight.

12The schemes of Catiline were still to remain concealed from the multitude, but great preliminary struggles awaited the consulship of Cicero. For, in the first place, those who were prevented from holding office by the laws of Sulla, and they were neither few nor weak, sued for offices and tried to win the favour of the people, making many charges against the tyranny of Sulla which were just and true, indeed, but disturbing the government at an improper and unseasonable time; 2and, in the second place, the tribunes were introducing laws to the same purpose, appointing a commission of ten men with unlimited powers, to whom was committed, as supreme masters of all Italy, of all Syria, and of all the territories which Pompey had lately added to the empire, the right to sell the public lands, to try whom they pleased, to send into exile, to settle cities, to take moneys from the public treasury, and to levy and maintain as many soldiers as they wanted. 3Therefore many of the prominent men also were in favour of the law, and foremost among them Antonius the colleague of Cicero, who expected to be one of the ten. It was thought also that he knew about the conspiracy of Catiline and was not averse to it, owing to the magnitude of his debts; and this was what gave most alarm to the nobles.

4This alarm Cicero first sought to allay by getting the province of Macedonia voted to his colleague, while he himself declined the proffered province of Gaul; and by this favour he induced Antonius, like a hired actor, to play the second rôle to him in defence of their country. Then, as soon as Antonius had been caught and was tractable, Cicero opposed himself with more courage to the innovators. 5Accordingly, he denounced the proposed law in the senate at great length, and so terrified the very promoters of it that they had no reply to make to him. And when they made a second attempt and after full preparation summoned the consuls to appear before the people, Cicero had not the slightest fear, but bidding the senate follow him and leading the way, he not only got the law rejected, but also induced the tribunes to desist from the rest of their measures, so overpowered were they by his eloquence.[23]

13For this man beyond all others showed the Romans how great a charm eloquence adds to the right, and that justice is invincible if it is correctly put in words, and that it behooves the careful statesman always in his acts to choose the right instead of the agreeable, and in his words to take away all vexatious features from what is advantageous. 2A proof of the charm of his discourse may be found in an incident of his consulship connected with the public spectacles. In earlier times, it seems, the men of the equestrian order were mingled with the multitudes in the theatres and saw the spectacles along with the people, seated as chance would have it; Marcus Otho was the first to separate in point of honour the knights from the rest of the citizens, which he did when he was praetor,[24] and gave them a particular place of their own at the spectacles, which they still retain. 3The people took this as a mark of dishonour to themselves, and when Otho appeared in the theatre they hissed him insultingly, while the knights received him with loud applause. The people renewed and increased their hisses, and then the knights their applause. After this they turned upon one another with reviling words, and disorder reigned in the theatre. 4When Cicero heard of this he came and summoned the people to the temple of Bellona, where he rebuked and exhorted them, whereupon they went back again to the theatre and applauded Otho loudly, and vied with the knights in showing him honour and esteem.

14But Catiline and his fellow-conspirators, who at first were cowed and terrified, began once more to take courage, and assembling themselves together exhorted one another to take matters in hand more boldly before Pompey came back, and he was said to be now returning with his army. It was the old soldiers of Sulla, however, who were most of all urging Catiline on to action. These were to be found in all parts of Italy, but the greatest numbers and the most warlike of them had been scattered among the cities of Etruria, and were again dreaming of robbing and plundering the wealth that lay ready to hand. 2These men, I say, with Manlius for a leader, one of the men who had served with distinction under Sulla, associated themselves with Catiline and came to Rome to take part in the consular elections. For Catiline was again a candidate for the consulship, and had determined to kill Cicero in the very tumult of the elections. 3Moreover, even the heavenly powers seemed, by earthquakes and thunderbolts and apparitions, to foreshow what was coming to pass. And there were also human testimonies which were true, indeed, but not sufficient for the conviction of a man of reputation and great power like Catiline. For this reason Cicero postponed the day of the elections, and summoning Catiline to the senate, examined him concerning what was reported. 4But Catiline, thinking that there were many in the senate who were desirous of a revolution, and at the same time making a display of himself to the conspirators, gave Cicero the answer of a madman: “What dreadful thing, pray,” said he, “am I doing, if, when there are two bodies, one lean and wasted, but with a head,[25] and the other headless, but strong and large, I myself become a head for this?” 5Since this riddle of Catiline’s referred to the senate and the people, Cicero was all the more alarmed, and he wore a breastplate when all the nobles and many of the young men escorted him from his house to the Campus Martius. Moreover, he purposely allowed the spectators to get a glimpse of his breastplate by loosing his tunic from his shoulders, thus showing them his peril. 6The people were incensed and rallied about him; and finally, when they voted, they rejected Catiline once more, and elected Silanus and Murena consuls.[26]

15Not long after this, when Catiline’s soldiers in Etruria were already assembling and forming into companies, and when the day set for their attack was near, there came to the house of Cicero at midnight men who were the leading and most powerful Romans, Marcus Crassus, Marcus Marcellus, and Scipio Metellus; and knocking at the door and summoning the doorkeeper, they bade him wake Cicero and tell him they were there. 2Their business was what I shall now relate. After Crassus had dined, his doorkeeper handed him some letters which an unknown man had brought; they were addressed to different persons, and one, which had no signature, was for Crassus himself. Crassus read this letter only, and since its contents told him that there was to be much bloodshed caused by Catiline, and advised him to escape secretly from the city, he did not open the rest, but came at once to Cicero, terrified by the danger, and seeking to free himself somewhat from charges that had been made against him on account of his friendship for Catiline.[27]

3Cicero, accordingly, after deliberation, convened the senate at break of day, and carrying the letters thither gave them to the persons to whom they had been sent, with orders to read them aloud. All the letters alike were found to tell of a plot. And when also Quintus Arrius, a man of praetorian dignity, brought word of the soldiers who were being mustered into companies in Etruria, and Manlius was reported to be hovering about the cities there with a large force, in constant expectation of some news from Rome, 4the senate passed a decree that matters should be put in the hands of the consuls, who were to accept the charge and manage as best they knew how for the preservation of the city.[28] Now, the senate is not wont to do this often, but only when it fears some great danger.

16On receiving this power Cicero entrusted matters outside to Quintus Metellus, while he himself kept the city in hand and daily went forth attended by so large a bodyguard that a great part of the forum was occupied when he entered it with his escort. Thereupon Catiline, no longer able to endure the delay, resolved to hasten forth to Manlius and his army, 2and ordered Marcius and Cethegus[29] to take their swords and go early in the morning to the house of Cicero on pretence of paying him their respects, and there to fall upon him and dispatch him. This scheme Fulvia, a woman of high rank, made known to Cicero, coming to him by night and urging him to be on his guard against Cethegus and his companion. The men came at break of day, and when they were prevented from entering, they were incensed and made an outcry at the door, which made them the more suspected. 3Then Cicero went forth and summoned the senate to the temple of Jupiter Stesius (or Stator, as the Romans say), which was situated at the beginning of the Via Sacra, as you go up to the Palatine hill. Thither Catiline also came with the rest in order to make his defence; no senator, however, would sit with him, but all moved away from the bench where he was. And when he began to speak he was interrupted by outcries, and at last Cicero rose and ordered him to depart from the city, saying that, since one of them did his work with words and the other with arms, the city -wall must needs lie between them.[30] 4Catiline, accordingly, left the city at once with three hundred armed followers, assumed the fasces and axes as though he were a magistrate, raised standards, and marched to join Manlius; and since about twenty thousand men altogether had been collected, he marched round to the various cities endeavouring to persuade them to revolt, so that there was now open war, and Antonius was sent off to fight it out.

17The creatures of Catiline who had been left behind in the city were brought together and encouraged by Cornelius Lentulus, surnamed Sura, a man of illustrious birth, but one who had led a low life and for his licentiousness had formerly been expelled from the senate, though now he was serving as praetor for the second time, as is the custom with those who have recovered their senatorial dignity. 2It is said too that he got his surname of Sura for the following reason. In Sulla’s time he was quaestor and lost and wasted large amounts of the public moneys. Sulla was angry at this and demanded an accounting from him in the senate, whereupon Lentulus came forward with a very careless and contemptuous air and said that he would not give an account, but would offer his leg, as boys were accustomed to do when they were playing ball and made a miss. 3On this account he was surnamed Sura, for “sura” is the Roman word for leg. At another time, too, he was under prosecution and had bribed some of the jurors, and when he was acquitted by only two votes, he said that what he had given to the second juror was wasted money, since it would have sufficed if he had been acquitted by one vote only.

4Such was the nature of this man who had been stirred up by Catiline, and he was further corrupted by vain hopes held out to him by false prophets and jugglers. These recited forged oracles in verse purporting to come from the Sibylline books,[31] which set forth that three Cornelii were fated to be monarchs in Rome, two of whom had already fulfilled their destiny, namely, Cinna and Sulla, and that now to him, the third and remaining Cornelius, the heavenly powers were come with a proffer of the monarchy, which he must by all means accept, and not ruin his opportunities by delay, like Catiline.

18Accordingly, it was no trifling or insignificant plan which Lentulus was cherishing, nay, it was decided to kill all the senators and as many of the other citizens as they could, to burn down the city itself, and to spare no one except the children of Pompey; these they were to seize and hold in their own custody and keep as hostages for their reconciliation with Pompey; for already there was current a wide-spread and sure report of his coming back from his great expedition. 2A night had also been fixed for the attempt, a night of the Saturnalia,[32] and swords, tow, and brimstone had been carried to the house of Cethegus and hidden there. Moreover, they had appointed a hundred men and assigned by lot as many quarters of Rome to each one severally, in order that within a short time many might play the incendiary and the city be everywhere in a blaze. Others, too, were to stop up the aqueducts and kill those who tried to bring water.

3But while this was going on, there chanced to be staying at Rome two ambassadors of the Allobroges, a nation which at that time was in a particularly evil plight and felt oppressed by the Roman sway. These men Lentulus and his partisans thought would be useful in stirring up Gaul to revolt, and therefore took them into the conspiracy. They also gave them letters to their senate, and letters to Catiline, making the senate promises of freedom and urging Catiline to set the slaves free and march upon Rome. 4They also sent with them to Catiline a certain Titus of Croton, who was to carry the letters. But the conspirators were unbalanced men who seldom met together without wine and women, while Cicero was following their schemes industriously, with sober judgement and surpassing sagacity; he also had many men outside of their conspiracy who kept watch upon their doings and helped him track them down, and he conferred secretly and confidentially with many who were supposed to belong to the conspiracy; he therefore came to know of their conference with the strangers, 5and, laying an ambush by night, he seized the man of Croton and his letters with the secret co-operation of the Allobroges.[33]

19At break of day, then, he assembled the senate in the temple of Concord, read the letters aloud, and examined the informers. Silanus Junius also said that certain ones had heard Cethegus declare that three consuls and four praetors were going to be taken off. Piso, too, a man of consular dignity, brought in other reports of a like nature. 2Moreover, Caius Sulpicius, one of the praetors, on being sent to the house of Cethegus, found in it many missiles and weapons, and a huge quantity of swords and knives, all newly sharpened. And finally, after the senate had voted immunity to the man of Croton on condition that he gave information, Lentulus was convicted, resigned his office (he was then praetor), and laying aside his purple-bordered toga in the senate, assumed in its place a garment suitable to his predicament. He and his associates, therefore, were handed over to the praetors for custody without fetters.[34]

3It 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.[35] 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. 4Sacrifice is offered to her annually in the house of the consul by his wife or his mother, in the presence of the Vestal Virgins. Cicero, then, having gone into his friend’s house, began to deliberate with himself—and he had only very few companions—what he should do with the men.[36] For he shrank from inflicting the extreme penalty, and the one befitting such great crimes, and he hesitated to do it because of the kindliness of his nature, and at the same time that he might not appear to make an excessive use of his power and to trample ruthlessly upon men who were of the highest birth and had powerful friends in the city; and if he treated them with less severity, he was afraid of the peril into which they would bring the state. 5For if they suffered any milder penalty than death, he was sure they would not be satisfied, but would break out into every extreme of boldness, having added fresh rage to their old villainy: and he himself would be thought unmanly and weak, especially as the multitude already thought him very far from courageous.

20While 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. 2So Terentia, who was generally of no mild spirit nor without natural courage, but an ambitious woman, and, as Cicero himself tells us,[37] 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; so likewise did Quintus, his brother, and Publius Nigidius, one of his philosophical companions, of whom he made the most and greatest use in his political undertakings.

3On the following day the senate discussed the punishment of the conspirators, and Silanus, who was the first to be asked to give his opinion, said that they ought to be taken to prison and there suffer extremest punishment. All the senators acceded to his opinion one after the other, until it came to Caius Caesar,[38] who afterwards became dictator. At this time, however, he was a young man still and at the very beginning of his rise to power, but in his public policy and his hopes he had already entered upon that road by which he changed the Roman state into a monarchy. His designs were still unnoticed by the rest, 4but to Cicero he had given many grounds for suspicion, and yet no hold which could lead to his conviction, although many were heard to say that he had come near being caught by Cicero, but had eluded him. Some, however, say that Cicero purposely overlooked and neglected the information against him through fear of his friends and his power, since it was clear to every one that the other conspirators would be included in Caesar’s acquittal, rather than Caesar in their punishment.

21When, then, it was Caesar’s turn to give his opinion, he rose and declared it to be against putting the conspirators to death, but in favour of confiscating their property and removing them to whatever cities of Italy Cicero might deem best, there to be put in fetters and closely guarded until Catiline should be defeated. 2The proposal of Caesar was merciful and its author a very able speaker, and Cicero added no little weight to it. For when he rose to speak himself,[39] he handled the subject in both ways, now favouring the first proposal and now that of Caesar. All his friends, too, thinking that Caesar’s proposal was an advantageous one for Cicero, who would be less subject to censure if he did not put the conspirators to death, chose the second proposal rather, 3so that Silanus also changed his position and excused himself by saying that even his proposal had not meant death: for “extremest punishment,” in the case of a Roman senator, meant the prison. Lutatius Catulus was the first to oppose the opinion which Caesar had given; then Cato followed him, helping by the vehemence of his speech to fix suspicion upon Caesar, and filled the senate with angry resolution, so that a decree of death was passed upon the conspirators. 4As regarded the confiscation of their property, however, Caesar made opposition, deeming it wrong that the merciful part of his own proposal should be rejected and the one part that was most severe adopted. And when many of the senators insisted upon it, he invoked the aid of the tribunes, but they would not listen to his appeal; Cicero himself, however, yielded the point, and remitted that part of the vote which called for confiscation.

22Then he went with the senate to fetch the conspirators. These were not all in the same place, but different praetors had different ones under guard. And first he took Lentulus from the Palatine hill and led him along the Via Sacra and through the middle of the forum, the men of highest authority surrounding him as a body-guard, and the people shuddering at what was being done and passing along in silence, and especially the young men, as though they thought they were being initiated with fear and trembling into some ancient mysteries of an aristocratic regime. 2When Cicero had passed through the forum and reached the prison, he delivered Lentulus to the public executioner with the order to put him to death. Then Cethegus in his turn, and so each one of the others, he brought down to the prison and had him executed. And seeing that many members of the conspiracy were still assembled in the forum in ignorance of what had been done and waiting for night to come, with the idea that the men were still living and might be rescued, he cried out to them with a loud voice and said: “They have lived.” For thus the Romans who wish to avoid words of ill omen indicate death.

3It was now evening, and Cicero went up through the forum to his house, the citizens no longer escorting him on his way with silent decorum, but receiving him with cries and clapping of hands as he passed along, calling him the saviour and founder of his country. And many lights illuminated the streets, since people placed lamps and torches at their doors. 4The women, too, displayed lights upon the house-tops in honour of the man, and that they might see him going up to his home in great state under escort of the noblest citizens. Most of these had brought to an end great wars and entered the city in triumph, and had added to the Roman dominion no small extent of land and sea; but they now walked along confessing to one another that to many of the commanders and generals of the time the Roman people were indebted for wealth and spoils and power, but for preservation and safety to Cicero alone, who had freed them from so peculiar and so great a peril. 5For it was not his preventing their schemes and punishing the schemers which seemed so wonderful, but his quenching the greatest of all revolutions with the fewest possible evils, without sedition and commotion. For most of those who had flocked to the standard of Catiline, as soon as they learned the fate of Lentulus and Cethegus, deserted him and went away; and Catiline, after a conflict with his remaining forces against Antonius, perished himself and his army with him.[40]

23However, there were those who were ready to abuse Cicero for what he had done, and to work him harm, and they had as leaders, among the magistrates-elect, Caesar as praetor, and Metellus and Bestia[41] as tribunes. When these assumed office, Cicero having still a few days of consular authority,[42] they would not permit him to harangue the people, but placing their benches so as to command the rostra, would not suffer or allow him to speak; instead, they ordered him, if he wished, merely to pronounce the oath usual on giving up office, and then come down. 2Cicero accepted these terms and came forward to pronounce his oath; and when he had obtained silence, he pronounced, not the usual oath, but one of his own and a new one, swearing that in very truth he had saved his country and maintained her supremacy. And all the people confirmed his oath for him. At this Caesar and the tribunes were still more vexed and contrived fresh troubles for Cicero. Among other things, a law was introduced by them for calling Pompey home with his army, in order, forsooth, that he might put down the arbitrary power of Cicero. 3But Cato, who was tribune at this time, was a great help to Cicero and to the whole state, and opposed the measures of the other tribunes with an authority equal to theirs and a greater good repute. For he easily put a stop to their other projects, and so highly extolled the “arbitrary power” of Cicero in a speech to the people, that they voted him the greatest honours ever conferred and called him the father of his country. For he was the first, as it seems, to receive this title,[43] after Cato had given it to him before the people.

24So at this time Cicero had the greatest power in the state, but he made himself generally odious, not by any base action, but by continually praising and magnifying himself, which made him hateful to many. For there could be no session either of senate or assembly or court of justice in which one was not obliged to hear Catiline and Lentulus endlessly talked about. 2Nay, he even went so far as to fill his books and writings with these praises of himself; and he made his oratory, which was naturally very pleasant and had the greatest charm, irksome and tedious to his hearers, since this unpleasant practice clung to him like a fatality. But nevertheless, although he cherished so strong an ambition, he was free from envying others, since he was most ungrudging in his encomiums upon his predecessors and contemporaries, as may be gathered from his writings. 3There are also many sayings of his on record which prove this; for instance, he said of Aristotle that he was a river of liquid gold,[44] and of the dialogues of Plato that Jupiter, were it his nature to use human speech, would thus discourse.[45] Theophrastus, too, he used to call his own special delight. And when he was asked which of the speeches of Demosthenes he thought the best, he replied, “the longest.” 4And yet some of those who pretend to be imitators of Demosthenes dwell much upon an expression which Cicero used in a letter to one of his friends, to the effect that in some parts of his speeches Demosthenes nods; but of the great and admirable praises which he often bestows upon him, and of the fact that those speeches of his own to which he devoted most labour, namely, the speeches against Antony, were entitled by him Philippics, they say nothing.

5Moreover, of the men of his own time who were famous for eloquence or learning, there is not one whom he did not make more famous by what he said or wrote in favour of him. For Cratippus the Peripatetic he obtained the Roman citizenship from Caesar, now in power, and he also induced the council of the Areopagus to pass a decree requesting him to remain at Athens and discourse with the young men, and thus be an ornament to the city. 6Furthermore, there are letters from Cicero to Herodes, and others to his son, in which he urges them to study philosophy with Cratippus.[46] But Gorgias the rhetorician he censured for leading the young man into pleasures and drinking parties, and banished him from his son’s society.[47] 7This is almost the only one of his Greek letters (there is also a second, addressed to Pelops of Byzantium) which was written in a spirit of anger; and Gorgias he properly rebukes, if, as he was thought to be, he was worthless and intemperate; but towards Pelops he shows a mean and querulous spirit for having neglected to obtain for him certain honorary decrees from the Byzantians.

25These complaints were characteristic of ambition, as well as the fact that he was often led on by the cleverness of his speech to disregard propriety. For instance, he once served as advocate for Munatius, who was no sooner acquitted than he prosecuted a friend of Cicero’s, Sabinus, whereupon, it is said, Cicero was so transported with anger as to say: “Was it, pray, on your own merits, Munatius, that you were acquitted, and not because I spread much darkness about the court when before there was light?” 2And again, he gained great applause by an encomium on Marcus Crassus from the rostra, and then a few days afterwards as publicly reviled him, whereupon Crassus said: “What, did you not stand there yourself a day or two ago and praise me?” “Yea,” said Cicero, “exercising my eloquence by way of practice on a bad subject.” 3Again, Crassus once said that no Crassus had lived in Rome to be older than sixty years, and then tried to deny it, exclaiming, “What could have led me to say this?” “You knew,” said Cicero, “that the Romans would be delighted to hear it, and by that means you tried to court their favour.” And when Crassus expressed his satisfaction with the Stoics because they represented the good man as rich, “Consider,” said Cicero, “whether your satisfaction is not rather due to their declaration that all things belong to the wise.” 4Now, Crassus was accused of covetousness. Again, one of the sons of Crassus who was thought to resemble a certain Axius, and on this account had brought his mother’s name into scandalous connection with that of Axius, once made a successful speech in the senate, and when Cicero was asked what he thought of him, he answered with the Greek words “Axios Krassou.”[48]

26When Crassus was about to set out for Syria, wishing that Cicero should be a friend rather than an enemy, he said to him in a friendly manner that he wished to dine with him; and Cicero readily received him into his house. But a few days afterwards, when some friends interceded with him for Vatinius, saying that the man sought reconciliation and friendship (for he was an enemy), “It surely cannot be,” said Cicero, “that Vatinius also wishes to dine with me.” Such, then, was his treatment of Crassus. 2Now, Vatinius himself had swellings on his neck, and once when he was pleading a case Cicero called him a tumid orator. Again, after hearing that Vatinius was dead, and then after a little learning for a surety that he was alive, “Wretchedly perish, then,” said Cicero, “the wretch who lied!” 3And again, Caesar once got a decree passed that the land in Campania should be divided among his soldiers, and many of the senators were dissatisfied, and Lucius Gellius, who was about the oldest of them, declared that it should never be done while he was alive; whereupon Cicero said: “Let us wait, since Gellius does not ask for a long postponement.” 4There was a certain Octavius, too, who was reputed to be of African descent; to this man, who said at a certain trial that he could not hear Cicero, the orator replied: “And yet your ear is not without a perforation.”[49] And when Metellus Nepos declared that Cicero had brought more men to death as a hostile witness than he had saved from it as an advocate, “Yes,” said Cicero, “I admit that my credibility is greater than my eloquence.” 5Again, when a certain young man who was accused of having given his father poison in a cake put on bold airs and threatened to cover Cicero with abuse, “That,” said Cicero, “I would rather have from you than a cake.” There was Publius Sextius, too, who retained Cicero as an advocate in a case, along with others, and then wanted to do all the speaking himself, and would allow no one else a word; when it was clear that he was going to be acquitted by the jurors and the vote was already being given, “Use your opportunity to-day, Sextius,” said Cicero, “for to-morrow you are going to be a nobody.” 6Publius Consta, too, who wanted to be a lawyer, but was ignorant and stupid, was once summoned by Cicero as witness in a case; and when he kept saying that he knew nothing, “Perhaps,” said Cicero, “you think you are being questioned on points of law.” Again, in a dispute with Cicero, Metellus Nepos asked repeatedly “Who is your father?” “In your case,” said Cicero, “your mother has made the answer to this question rather difficult.” 7Now, the mother of Nepos was thought to be unchaste, and he himself a fickle sort of man. He once suddenly deserted his office of tribune and sailed off to join Pompey in Syria, and then came back from there with even less reason. Moreover, after burying his teacher Philagrus with more than usual ceremony, he set upon his tomb a raven in stone; whereupon Cicero remarked: “In this you have acted more wisely than is your wont, for he taught you to fly rather than to speak.” 8And again, when Marcus Appius prefaced his speech in a case by saying that his friend had begged him to exhibit diligence, eloquence, and fidelity, “And then,” said Cicero, “are you so hard-hearted as to exhibit none of those great qualities which your friend demanded?”

27Now, this use of very biting jests against enemies or legal opponents seems to be part of the orator’s business; but his indiscriminate attacks for the sake of raising a laugh made many people hate Cicero. And I will give a few instances of this also. Marcus Aquinius, who had two sons-in-law in exile, he called Adrastus.[50] 2Again, Lucius Cotta, who held the office of censor, was very fond of wine, and Cicero, when canvassing for the consulship, was a-thirst, and as his friends stood about him while he drank, said: “You have good reason to fear that the censor will deal harshly with me—for drinking water.” And when he met Voconius escorting three very ugly daughters, he cried out:—

“It was against the will of Phoebus that he begat children.”[51]

3Again, when Marcus Gellius, who was thought to be of servile birth, had read letters to the senate in a loud and clear voice, “Do not marvel,” said Cicero, “he too is one of those who have cried aloud for their freedom.”[52] And when Faustus, the son of the Sulla who was dictator at Rome and placarded many people for death, got into debt, squandered much of his substance, and placarded his household goods for sale, Cicero said he liked this placarding better than his father’s.

28As a consequence of this he became odious to many; and besides, the partisans of Clodius combined against him on the following ground. Clodius was a man of noble birth, young in years, but bold and presumptuous in spirit. This man, being in love with Pompeia, Caesar’s wife, got into his house secretly, by assuming the dress and guise of a lute-player; for the women of Rome were celebrating in Caesar’s house that mysterious rite which men were not allowed to witness,[53] and no man was there; 2but being still a beardless youth Clodius hoped without being noticed to slip through to Pompeia along with the women. But since he got in at night and the house was large, he lost his way in the passages; and as he was wandering about, a maid of Aurelia, Caesar’s mother, caught sight of him and asked him his name. Being thus compelled to speak, he said that he was looking for an attendant of Pompeia named Abra, whereupon the maid, perceiving that his voice was not that of a woman, raised a cry and called the women together. 3These shut the doors, searched carefully all about, and found Clodius, who had taken refuge in the chamber of the girl with whom he came into the house. The affair having become noised abroad, Caesar divorced Pompeia and had an action for sacrilege brought against Clodius.

29Now, 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. 2However, 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. 3So, 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. Moreover, many men of the better class bore witness against Clodius for perjury, recklessness, bribery of the multitude, and debauching of women. And Lucullus actually produced female slaves who testified that Clodius had commerce with his youngest sister when she was living with Lucullus as his wife. 4There was also a general belief that Clodius had intercourse with his other two sisters, of whom Tertia was the wife of Marcius Rex, and Clodia of Metellus Celer; the latter was called Quadrantia, because one of her lovers had put copper coins into a purse and sent them to her for silver, and the smallest copper coin was called “quadrans.” It was with regard to this sister in particular that Clodius was in evil repute. 5However, since the people at this time set themselves against those who combined and testified against him, the jurors were frightened and surrounded themselves with a guard, and most of them cast their voting-tablets with the writing on them confused.[54] But nevertheless those who were for acquittal appeared to be in the majority; and some bribery also was said to have been used. 6This led Catulus to say, when he met the jurors, “It was indeed as a measure of safety that you asked for your guard; you were afraid that someone would take your money away from you.”[55] And Cicero, when Clodius told him that as a witness he had found no credit with the jurors, said: “Nay, twenty-five of the jurors gave me credit, for so many voted against you; and thirty of them gave you no credit, for they did not vote to acquit you until they had got your money.”[56] 7Caesar, however, when summoned as a witness, gave no testimony against Clodius, and denied that he had condemned his wife for adultery, but said that he had put her away because Caesar’s wife must be free not only from shameful conduct, but even from shameful report.

30But Clodius, having escaped his peril, and having been chosen tribune,[57] at once began to attack Cicero, arraying and stirring up against him all things and all men alike. He won the favour of the people by benevolent laws, got large provinces voted to each of the consuls (Macedonia to Piso, and Syria to Gabinius), brought many of the poorer class into organized political activity, and kept armed slaves about his person. 2Now, of the three men who at that time had most power, Crassus was an out-and-out foe of Cicero, Pompey was dallying with both, and Caesar was about to set out for Gaul with an army; into Caesar’s favour, therefore, Cicero insinuated himself (although Caesar was not a friend, but an object of suspicion owing to the affair of Catiline), and asked to accompany him on his campaign as legate.[58] 3But no sooner had Caesar granted the request than Clodius, seeing that Cicero was thus escaping his tribunicial power, pretended to be desirous of a reconciliation, and by laying the chief blame upon Terentia, and always speaking of Cicero in friendly terms and using kindly expressions about him, as one who bore him no hatred or even ill-will, but had moderate complaints to make of him in a friendly way, he altogether took away his fear, so that he declined the office of legate under Caesar and again applied himself to public matters. 4But at this conduct Caesar was exasperated, and encouraged Clodius against Cicero, and completely alienated Pompey from him, while he himself testified before the people that he did not think it right or lawful that men should be put to death without a trial, as in the case of Lentulus, Cethegus, and their accomplices. For this was the denunciation made against Cicero, and to this he was summoned to make answer. And so, being in peril of prosecution, he changed his attire,[59] and with his hair untrimmed went about supplicating the people. 5But Clodius met him everywhere in the streets, with a band of bold and insolent men about him, who made many unbridled jests upon Cicero’s change of attire, and often pelted him with mud and stones, and so interfered with his supplications to the people.

31However, in the first place, nearly the whole body of knights changed their attire with Cicero, and as many as twenty thousand young men escorted him with their hair untrimmed and joined in his suppliant entreaties to the people;[60] and besides, when the senate had met in order to pass a vote that the people should change their dress in token of public calamity, and the consuls had opposed it, and Clodius was in arms about the senate-house, not a few of the senators ran out, rending their garments and crying aloud. 2But since this sight awakened neither pity nor any mercy, but Cicero was obliged either to go into exile or to appeal to force and the sword against Clodius, he begged for aid from Pompey, who had purposely got out of the way and was staying at his country seat in the Alban hills. First Cicero sent Piso,[61] his son-in-law, to entreat for him; then he went up thither himself also. 3Pompey, however, on learning of his coming, could not endure to see him, for he felt a strong sense of shame towards the man who had made great struggles in his behalf and had often adopted a political course to please him; but since he was Caesar’s son-in-law, at his request he proved false to his old obligations, slipped out by another door, and so ran away from the interview. Thus betrayed by him and left desolate, Cicero fled for refuge to the consuls. 4Gabinius was always severe with him, but Piso dealt with him more gently, advising him to stand aside and yield to the impetuous assaults of Clodius, to submit to the change in the times, and to become once more a saviour of his country when she was involved in seditions and misfortunes through Clodius.

After getting such answer to his appeal, Cicero took counsel with his friends: Lucullus urged him to remain in the city, believing that he would prevail; but others advised him to go into exile, believing that the people would quickly long for him when they were sated with the folly and madness of Clodius. 5This Cicero decided to do; so he took the statue of Minerva which had long stood in his house, and which he honoured exceedingly, carried it to the Capitol,[62] and dedicated it there with the inscription “To Minerva, Guardian of Rome”; then, accepting an escort from his friends, about midnight he slipped out of the city, and set out on foot through Lucania, desiring to reach Sicily.

32But as soon as it was known that he had fled, Clodius caused a vote of banishment to be passed upon him, and issued an edict that all men should refuse him fire and water and that no man should give him shelter within five hundred miles of Italy. Now, most men paid not the slightest heed to this edict out of respect for Cicero, and escorted him on his way with every mark of kindness; 2but at Hipponium, a city of Lucania,[63] which is now called Vibo, Vibius, a Sicilian, who had profited much from Cicero’s friendship and particularly by being made prefect of engineers during his consulship, would not receive him in his house, but sent him word that he would assign him his country-place for residence; and Caius Vergilius, the praetor of Sicily, who had been on most intimate terms with Cicero, wrote him to keep away from Sicily.[64] 3Disheartened at this treatment, he set out for Brundisium, and from there tried to cross to Dyrrhachium with a fair breeze, but since he met a counter-wind at sea he came back the next day, and then set sail again. It is said, too, that after he had put in at Dyrrhachium and was about to land, there was an earthquake accompanied by a violent convulsion of the sea. Wherefore the soothsayers conjectured that his exile would not be lasting, since these were signs of change. 4But although many people visited him out of goodwill, and the Greek cities vied with one another in sending him deputations, still, he passed his time for the most part in dejection and great grief,[65] looking off towards Italy like a disconsolate lover, while in his spirit he became very petty and mean by reason of his misfortune, and was more humbled than one would have expected in a man who had enjoyed so lofty a discipline as his. 5And yet he often asked his friends not to call him an orator, but a philosopher, because he had chosen philosophy as an occupation, but used oratory merely as an instrument for attaining the needful ends of a political career. But public opinion has great power to wash away reason, like a dye, from the soul of man, and by force of familiar association to impress the feelings of the vulgar on those who engage in political life, unless one is right well on his guard when he engages himself in things external, and is resolved to participate only in the things themselves, and not in the feelings attendant upon them.

33As for Clodius, after driving Cicero away he burned down his villas, and burned down his house, and erected on its site a temple to Liberty; the rest of his property he offered for sale and had it proclaimed daily, but nobody would buy anything. Being therefore formidable to the patricians, and dragging along with him the people, who indulged in great boldness and effrontery, he assailed Pompey, attacking fiercely some of the arrangements made by him on his expedition. 2The disgrace which this brought upon Pompey led him to reproach himself for his abandonment of Cicero; and changing front he used every effort to effect Cicero’s return, and so did his friends. But since Clodius opposed himself to this, the senate decided to ratify no measure that came up in the mean time and to do no public business, unless Cicero should be permitted to return.[66] 3During the consulship of Lentulus,[67] however, when the disorder went on increasing, so that tribunes were wounded in the forum and Quintus the brother of Cicero lay unnoticed for dead among the slain,[68] the people began to change their minds, and Annius Milo, one of the tribunes, first ventured to prosecute Clodius for violence, and many joined themselves to Pompey both from the people and from the surrounding cities. With these Pompey came forth, drove Clodius from the forum, and summoned the citizens to the vote.[69] 4And it is said that the people never passed any vote with such unanimity. The senate, too, vying with the people, wrote letters of thanks to all the cities which had ministered to Cicero during his exile, and decreed that his house and his villas, which Clodius had destroyed, should be restored at the public cost.[70]

5Thus Cicero came home in the sixteenth month after his exile; and so great was the joy of the cities and the eagerness of men to meet him that what was said by Cicero afterwards fell short of the truth. He said, namely, that Italy had taken him on her shoulders and carried him into Rome.[71] And there Crassus also, who was his enemy before his exile, now readily met him and was reconciled with him, to gratify his son Publius, as he said, who was an ardent admirer of Cicero.

34After allowing only a short time to pass and watching for an opportunity when Clodius was absent from the city, Cicero went up with a great company to the capitol, and there tore away and destroyed the tablets of the tribunes, in which were the records of their administration. When Clodius brought charges against him for this and Cicero argued that it was illegal for Clodius to pass from the ranks of the patricians into the tribunate,[72] and that therefore none of his acts was valid, Cato was indignant and spoke against Cicero; 2not that he approved of Clodius, nay, he was actually displeased at his political course, but he set forth that it was a strange and violent measure for the senate to vote the abrogation of so many acts and decrees, among which were those for his own administration in Cyprus and Byzantium. This led to an antagonism between him and Cicero which came to no open manifestation, but made their friendly treatment of one another less marked.

35After this Clodius was killed by Milo;[73] and Milo, being prosecuted for murder, engaged Cicero as his advocate. But the senate was afraid that at the trial of Milo, who was a man of repute and high spirit, there might be a disturbance in the city, and therefore intrusted the superintendence of this and the other trials to Pompey, who was to furnish security for the city and the courts of justice. 2So Pompey, while it was still night, posted his soldiers on the heights so as to command the forum, and Milo, fearing that Cicero might be disturbed at the unusual sight and conduct his case less successfully, persuaded him to be brought in a litter to the forum and to wait there quietly until the jurors assembled and the court-room was filled. 3Now Cicero, as it would seem, was not only without courage under arms, but also felt fear when he began to speak, and in many trials he hardly ceased quivering and trembling after his eloquence had become high and sustained. When he was to plead for Licinius Murena in a case brought against him by Cato, and was ambitious to surpass Hortensius, who had made a successful plea, he took no rest at all during the night before, so that his lack of sleep and his great anxiety did him harm, and he was thought inferior to himself in his plea. 4And so at this time, when he came out of his litter to plead Milo’s cause and saw Pompey stationed on the heights as in a camp, and arms flashing all around the forum, he was confounded and could scarcely begin his speech, for his body quivered and his voice faltered; whereas Milo showed the good courage of a brave man at the trial and had not deigned to let his hair go untrimmed or to change his attire to a dark one; and this seems most of all to have contributed to his condemnation. However, Cicero’s behaviour led men to think him devoted to his friends rather than cowardly.

36He became also one of the priests whom the Romans call Augurs, in place of the younger Crassus, who had died among the Parthians.[74] Then the lot gave him Cilicia as his province, with an army of twelve thousand men-at-arms and twenty-six hundred horsemen, and he set sail,[75] with instructions to keep Cappadocia friendly and obedient to King Ariobarzanes. 2This he accomplished and arranged satisfactorily without war, and seeing that the Cilicians, in view of the Parthian disaster to the Romans and the uprising in Syria, were in an agitated state, he pacified them by his mild government. Gifts he would not receive, not even when the kings offered them, and he relieved the provincials from the expense of entertainments; but he himself daily received men of pleasing accomplishments at banquets which were not expensive, although generous. 3His house, too, had no door-keeper, nor did anyone ever see him lying a-bed, but early in the morning he would stand or walk in front of his chamber and receive those who came to pay him their respects. It is said, moreover, that he never ordered any man to be chastised with rods or to have his raiment torn from him, and that he never inflicted angry abuse or contumelious punishments. 4He discovered that much of the public property had been embezzled, and by restoring it he made the cities well-to-do, and men who made restitution he maintained in their civil rights without further penalties. He engaged in war, too, and routed the robbers who made their homes on Mount Amanus;[76] and for this he was actually saluted by his soldiers as Imperator. 5When Caelius the orator asked Cicero to send him panthers from Cilicia for a certain spectacle at Rome, Cicero, pluming himself upon his exploits, wrote to him that there were no panthers in Cilicia; for they had fled to Caria in indignation because they alone were warred upon, while everything else enjoyed peace.[77] On his voyage back from his province he first touched at Rhodes, and then gladly spent some time at Athens in fond remembrance of his old pursuits in that place. 6Then, after associating with men who were foremost for their learning, and after greeting his old-time friends and intimates, and after receiving from Greece the tokens of admiration that were his due, he returned to Rome,[78] where a violent inflammation, as it were, was already forcing matters on towards the civil war.

37Accordingly, when the senators were voting him a triumph, he said he would more gladly follow in Caesar’s triumphal procession if matters could be settled; and privately he gave much advice to Caesar by letter, and much to Pompey in person by way of personal entreaty, trying to mollify and pacify each of them. But when things were past healing, and Caesar was advancing upon the city, and Pompey did not stay there, but abandoned the city in the company of many good men, Cicero did not take part in this flight, and was thought to be attaching himself to Caesar. 2And it is clear that his judgement drew him strongly in both directions and that he was in distress. For he writes in his letters that he knew not which way he ought to turn, since Pompey had honourable and good grounds for going to war, while Caesar managed matters better and had more ability to save himself and his friends; he therefore knew from whom he should flee, but not to whom he should flee.[79] 3And when Trebatius, one of the companions of Caesar, wrote him a letter stating that Caesar thought he ought above all things to range himself on his side and share his hopes, but that if he declined to do this by reason of his age, he ought to go to Greece and take up a quiet life there out of the way of both, Cicero was amazed that Caesar himself did not write, and replied in a passion that he would do nothing unworthy of his political career. Such, then, is the purport of his letters.

38But when Caesar set out for Spain, Cicero at once sailed to Pompey.[80] The rest of Pompey’s followers were glad to see him, but when Cato saw him, he privately blamed him much for attaching himself to Pompey. In his own case, Cato said, it was not honourable to abandon the line of public policy which he had chosen from the beginning; but Cicero, though he was of more service to his country and his friends if he remained at home without taking sides and accommodated himself to the issue of events, without any reason and under no compulsion had made himself an enemy of Caesar, and had come thither to share in their great danger.

2By these words the purpose of Cicero was upset, as well as by the fact that Pompey made no great use of him. But he was himself to blame for this, since he made no denial that he was sorry he had come, made light of Pompey’s preparations and showed a lurking displeasure at his plans, and did not refrain from jests and witty remarks about his comrades in arms; nay, although he himself always went about in the camp without a smile and scowling, still he made others laugh in spite of themselves. 3And it will be well to give a few instances of this also. When Domitius, then, was advancing to a post of command a man who was no soldier, with the remark that he was gentle in his disposition and prudent, “Why, then,” said Cicero, “do you not keep him as a guardian of your children?” 4And when certain ones were praising Theophanes the Lesbian, who was prefect of engineers in the camp, because he had given excellent consolation to the Rhodians on the loss of their fleet, “What a great blessing it is,” said Cicero, “to have a Greek as prefect!” Again, when Caesar was successful for the most part and in a way was laying siege to them,[81] Lentulus said he had heard that Caesar’s friends were gloomy, to which Cicero replied: “You mean that they are ill-disposed to Caesar.” 5And when a certain Marcius, who had recently come from Italy, spoke of a report which prevailed in Rome that Pompey was besieged, “And then,” said Cicero, “did you sail off that you might see with your own eyes and believe?” Again, after the defeat, when Nonnius said they ought to have good hopes, since seven eagles were left in the camp of Pompey, “Your advice would be good,” said Cicero, “if we were at war with jackdaws.” 6And when Labienus, insisting on certain oracles, said that Pompey must prevail, “Yes,” said Cicero, “this is the generalship that has now cost us our camp.”

39However, after the battle at Pharsalus,[82] in which Cicero took no part because of illness, had been fought, and Pompey was in flight, Cato, who had a considerable army and a large fleet at Dyrrhachium, asked Cicero to take the command in accordance with custom and because of his superior consular rank. But Cicero rejected the command and was altogether averse to sharing in the campaign, whereupon he came near being killed; 2for the young Pompey and his friends called him a traitor and drew their swords upon him, and that would have been the end of him had not Cato interposed and with difficulty rescued him and sent him away from the camp.[83] So Cicero put in at Brundisium and tarried there, waiting for Caesar, who was delayed by his affairs in Asia and Egypt. 3But when word was brought that Caesar had landed at Tarentum[84] and was coming round by land from there to Brundisium, Cicero hastened to meet him, being not altogether despondent, but feeling shame to test in the presence of many witnesses the temper of a man who was an enemy and victorious. However, there was no need that he should do or say anything unworthy of himself. 4For Caesar, when he saw him approaching far in advance of the rest, got down and embraced him and journeyed on for many furlongs conversing with him alone. And after this he continued to show him honour and kindness, so that in his reply to the encomium upon Cato which Cicero wrote he praised Cicero’s eloquence and his life, as most resembling that of Pericles and Theramenes. 5Now, the discourse of Cicero was entitled “Cato,” and that of Caesar “Anti-Cato.”

It is said also that when Quintus Ligarius was under prosecution because he had been one of the enemies of Caesar, and Cicero was his advocate, Caesar said to his friends: “What is to prevent our hearing a speech from Cicero after all this while, since Ligarius has long been adjudged a villain and an enemy?” 6But when Cicero had begun to speak and was moving his hearers beyond measure, and his speech, as it proceeded, showed varying pathos and amazing grace, Caesar’s face often changed colour and it was manifest that all the emotions of his soul were stirred; and at last, when the orator touched upon the struggles at Pharsalus,[85] he was so greatly affected that his body shook and he dropped from his hand some of his documents. At any rate he acquitted Ligarius under compulsion.

40After this, when the government had been changed to a monarchy, Cicero abstained from public affairs and devoted his time to those of the young men who wished to study philosophy, and mainly from his intimacy with these, since they were of the highest birth and standing, he was once more very influential in the state. 2He made it his business also to compose and translate philosophical dialogues, and to render into Latin the several terms of dialectics and natural philosophy; for he it was, as they say, who first, or principally, provided Latin names for “phantasia,” “synkatathesis,” “epokhe,” and “katalepsis,” as well as for “atomon,” “ameres,” “kenon,”[86] and many others like these, contriving partly by metaphors and partly by new and fitting terms to make them intelligible and familiar. 3His facility in verse-making, too, he employed to divert himself. It is said, indeed, that when he applied himself to such work, he would make five hundred verses in a night.

During this time, then, he lived for the most part at his country seat in Tusculum, and he used to write to his friends that he was living the life of Laertes,[87] either jesting, as was his wont, or because his ambition filled him with a desire for public activity and made him dissatisfied with the turn things had taken. 4He rarely went down to the city, and then only to pay court to Caesar, and he was foremost among those who advocated Caesar’s honours and were eager to be ever saying something new about him and his measures. Of this sort is what he said about the statues of Pompey. These Caesar ordered to be set up again after they had been thrown down and taken away; and they were set up again. What Cicero said was that by this act of generosity Caesar did indeed set up the statues of Pompey, but firmly planted his own also.

41He purposed, as we are told, to write a comprehensive history of his native country, combining with it many Greek details, and introducing there all the tales and myths which he had collected; but he was prevented by many public affairs which were contrary to his wishes, and by many private troubles, most of which seem to have been of his own choosing. 2For in the first place he divorced his wife Terentia because he had been neglected by her during the war, so that he set out in lack of the necessary means for his journey, and even when he came back again to Italy did not find her considerate of him. For she did not come to him herself, although he tarried a long time at Brundisium, and when her daughter, a young girl,[88] made the long journey thither, she supplied her with no fitting escort and with no means; nay, she actually stripped and emptied Cicero’s house of all that it contained, besides incurring many large debts. 3These, indeed, are the most plausible reasons given for the divorce. Terentia, however, denied that these were the reasons, and Cicero himself made her defence a telling one by marrying shortly afterwards a maiden.[89] This he did, as Terentia asserted, out of love for her youthful beauty; but as Tiro, Cicero’s freedman, has written, to get means for the payment of his debts. 4For the girl was very wealthy, and Cicero had been left her trustee and had charge of her property. So since he owed many tens of thousands he was persuaded by his friends and relatives to marry the girl, old as he was, and to get rid of his creditors by using her money. But Antony, who spoke of the marriage in his replies to Cicero’s Philippics, says that he cast out of doors the wife with whom he had grown old, and at the same time makes witty jibes upon the stay-at-home habits of Cicero, who was, he said, unfit for business or military service. 5Not long after Cicero’s marriage his daughter died in child-birth at the house of Lentulus, to whom she had been married after the death of Piso, her former husband. His friends came together from all quarters to comfort Cicero; but his grief at his misfortune was excessive, so that he actually divorced the wife he had wedded, because she was thought to be pleased at the death of Tullia.

42Such, then, were Cicero’s domestic affairs. But in the design that was forming against Caesar he took no part, although he was one of the closest companions of Brutus and was thought to be distressed at the present and to long for the old state of affairs more than anybody else. But the conspirators feared his natural disposition as being deficient in daring, and his time of life, in which courage fails the strongest natures. 2And so, when the deed had been accomplished by the partisans of Brutus and Cassius,[90] and the friends of Caesar were combining against the perpetrators of it, and it was feared that the city would again be plunged into civil wars, Antony, as consul, convened the senate and said a few words about concord, while Cicero, after a lengthy speech appropriate to the occasion, persuaded the senate to imitate the Athenians[91] and decree an amnesty for the attack upon Caesar, and to assign provinces to Cassius and Brutus. 3But none of these things came to pass. For when the people, who of themselves were strongly moved to pity, saw Caesar’s body carried through the forum, and when Antony showed them the garments drenched with blood and pierced everywhere with the swords, they went mad with rage and sought for the murderers in the forum, and ran to their houses with firebrands in order to set them ablaze. For this danger the conspirators were prepared beforehand and so escaped it,[92] but expecting others many and great, they forsook the city.

43At once, then, Antony was highly elated, and all men were fearful that he would make himself sole ruler, and Cicero most fearful of all. For Antony saw that Cicero’s power in the state was reviving, and knew that he was attached to Brutus and his party, and was therefore disturbed at his presence in the city. And besides, they had previously been somewhat suspicious of one another because of the marked difference in their lives. 2Fearing these things Cicero at first was inclined to sail to Syria with Dolabella, as his legate; but the consuls elect to succeed Antony,[93] Hirtius and Pansa, who were good men and admirers of Cicero, begged him not to desert them, and undertook to put down Antony if Cicero would remain at Rome. So Cicero, who neither distrusted nor trusted them altogether, let Dolabella go without him, and after agreeing with Hirtius and Pansa to spend the summer at Athens, and to come back again when they had assumed office, set off by himself. 3But there was some delay about his voyage, and, as is often the case, new and unexpected reports came from Rome, to the effect that Antony had undergone a wonderful change and was doing and administering everything to please the senate, and that matters needed only Cicero’s presence to assume the best possible complexion; he therefore blamed himself for his excessive caution and turned back again to Rome. 4And in his first expectations he was not disappointed; for a great crowd of people, moved with joy and longing for him, poured forth to meet him, and almost a day’s time was consumed in the friendly greetings given him at the gates and as he entered the city. On the following day, however, when Antony convened the senate and invited him to be present, Cicero did not come, but kept his bed, pretending to be indisposed from fatigue. 5The truth, however, seemed to be that he was afraid of a plot against him, in consequence of some suspicion and of information that had unexpectedly come to him on the road. But Antony was indignant at the implication and sent soldiers with orders to bring Cicero or burn down his house; but since many opposed this course and entreated him to desist, he did so, after merely taking sureties. 6And thenceforward they kept up this attitude, quietly ignoring one another and mutually on their guard, until the young Caesar came from Apollonia,[94] assumed the inheritance of the elder Caesar, and engaged in a dispute with Antony concerning the twenty-five million drachmas which Antony was detaining from the estate.[95]

44After this, Philip, who had married the mother, and Marcellus, who had married the sister of the young Caesar, came with the young man to Cicero and made a compact that Cicero should give Caesar the influence derived from his eloquence and political position, both in the senate and before the people, and that Caesar should give Cicero the security to be derived from his wealth and his armed forces. For already the young man had about him many of the soldiers who had served under the elder Caesar. 2It was thought, too, that there was a stronger reason why Cicero readily accepted the young man’s friendship. For it would appear that while Pompey and Caesar were still living Cicero dreamed that someone invited the sons of the senators to the Capitol, on the ground that Jupiter was going to appoint one of their number ruler of Rome; 3and that the citizens eagerly ran and stationed themselves about the temple, while the youths, in their purple-bordered togas, seated themselves there in silence. Suddenly the door of the temple opened, and one by one the youths rose and walked round past the god, who reviewed them all and sent them away sorrowing. But when this young Caesar advanced into his presence the god stretched out his hand and said: “O Romans, ye shall have an end of civil wars when this youth has become your ruler.” 4By such a dream as this, they say, Cicero had impressed upon him the appearance of the youth, and retained it distinctly, but did not know him.[96] The next day, however, as he was going down to the Campus Martius, the youths, who had just finished exercising there, were coming away, and the youth of his dream was seen by Cicero for the first time, and Cicero, amazed, inquired who his parents were. 5Now, his father was Octavius, a man of no great prominence, but his mother was Attia, a daughter of Caesar’s sister. For this reason Caesar, who had no children of his own, willed his property and his family name to him. After this, it is said, Cicero took pains to converse with the youth when they met, and the youth welcomed his kind attentions; and indeed it happened that he was born during Cicero’s consulship.

45These, then, were the reasons that were mentioned; but it was Cicero’s hatred for Antony in the first place, and then his natural craving for honour, that attached him to the young Caesar, since he thought to add Caesar’s power to his own political influence. And indeed the young man carried his court to him so far as actually to call him father. 2At this Brutus was very angry, and in his letters to Atticus attacked Cicero, saying that in paying court to Caesar through fear of Antony he was plainly not obtaining liberty for his country, but wooing a kind master for himself.[97] However, Brutus took up Cicero’s son who was studying philosophy at Athens, gave him a command, and achieved many successes through his instrumentality.[98]

3Cicero’s power in the city reached its greatest height at this time, and since he could do what he pleased, he raised a successful faction against Antony, drove him out of the city, and sent out the two consuls, Hirtius and Pansa, to wage war upon him, while he persuaded the senate to vote Caesar the lictors and insignia of a praetor, on the ground that he was fighting in defence of the country. 4But after Antony had been defeated,[99] and, both consuls having died after the battle, the forces had united under Caesar, the senate became afraid of a young man who had enjoyed such brilliant good fortune, and endeavoured by honours and gifts to call his troops away from him and to circumscribe his power, on the ground that there was no need of defensive armies now that Antony had taken to flight. 5Under these circumstances Caesar took alarm and secretly sent messengers to Cicero begging and urging him to obtain the consulship for them both, but to manage affairs as he himself thought best, after assuming the office, and to direct in all things a youthful colleague who only craved name and fame. And Caesar himself admitted afterwards that it was the fear of having his troops disbanded and the danger of finding himself left alone which led him to make use in an emergency of Cicero’s love of power, by inducing him to sue for the consulship with his co-operation and assistance in the canvass.

46Here, indeed, more than at any other time, Cicero was led on and cheated, an old man by a young man. He assisted Caesar in his canvass and induced the senate to favour him. For this he was blamed by his friends at the time, and shortly afterwards he perceived that he had ruined himself and betrayed the liberty of the people. 2For after the young man had waxed strong and obtained the consulship,[100] he gave Cicero the go-by, and after making friends with Antony and Lepidus and uniting his forces with theirs, he divided the sovereignty with them, like any other piece of property. And a list was made out by them of men who must be put to death, more than two hundred in number. The proscription of Cicero, however, caused most strife in their debates, Antony consenting to no terms unless Cicero should be the first man to be put to death, Lepidus siding with Antony, and Caesar holding out against them both. 3They held secret meetings by themselves near the city of Bononia for three days, coming together in a place at some distance from the camps and surrounded by a river. It is said that for the first two days Caesar kept up his struggle to save Cicero, but yielded on the third and gave him up. The terms of their mutual concessions were as follows. 4Caesar was to abandon Cicero, Lepidus his brother Paulus, and Antony Lucius Caesar, who was his uncle on the mother’s side. So far did anger and fury lead them to renounce their human sentiments, or rather, they showed that no wild beast is more savage than man when his passion is supplemented by power.

47While this was going on, Cicero was at his own country-seat in Tusculum, having his brother with him; but when they learned of the proscriptions they determined to remove to Astura, a place of Cicero’s on the sea-coast, and from there to sail to Brutus in Macedonia; for already a report was current that he was in force there. So they were carried along in litters, being worn out with grief; and on the way they would halt, and with their litters placed side by side would lament to one another. 2But Quintus was the more dejected and began to reflect upon his destitute condition; for he said that he had taken nothing from home, nay, Cicero too had scanty provision for the journey; it was better, then, he said, that Cicero should press on in his flight, but that he himself should get what he wanted from home and then hasten after him. This they decided to do, and after embracing one another and weeping aloud, they parted.

3So then Quintus, not many days afterwards, was betrayed by his servants to those who were in search of him, and put to death, together with his son. But Cicero was brought to Astura, and finding a vessel there he embarked at once and coasted along as far as Circaeum, with the wind in his favour. From there his pilots wished to set sail at once, but Cicero, whether it was that he feared the sea, or had not yet altogether given up his trust in Caesar, went ashore and travelled along on foot a hundred furlongs in the direction of Rome. 4But again losing resolution and changing his mind, he went down to the sea at Astura. And there he spent the night in dreadful and desperate calculations; he actually made up his mind to enter Caesar’s house by stealth, to slay himself upon the hearth, and so to fasten upon Caesar an avenging daemon. But a fear of tortures drove him from this course also; then, revolving in his mind many confused and contradictory purposes, he put himself in the hands of his servants to be taken by sea to Caieta, where he had lands and an agreeable retreat in summer time, when the breath of the Etesian winds is most pleasant.

5The place has also a temple of Apollo, a little above the sea. From thence a flock of crows flew with loud clamour towards the vessel of Cicero as it was rowed towards land; and alighting on either end of the sail-yard, some cawed, and others pecked at the ends of the ropes, and everybody thought that the omen was bad. Nevertheless Cicero landed, and going to his villa lay down to rest. 6Then most of the crows perched themselves about the window, cawing tumultuously, but one of them flew down upon the couch where Cicero lay with muffled head, and with its beak, little by little, tried to remove the garment from his face. The servants, on seeing this, rebuked themselves for waiting to be spectators of their master’s murder, while wild beasts came to his help and cared for him in his undeserved misfortune, but they themselves did nothing in his defence. So partly by entreaty, and partly by force, they took him and carried him in his litter towards the sea.

48But meantime his assassins came to the villa, Herennius a centurion, and Popillius a tribune, who had once been prosecuted for parricide and defended by Cicero; and they had helpers. After they had broken in the door, which they found closed, Cicero was not to be seen, and the inmates said they knew not where he was. 2Then, we are told, a youth who had been liberally educated by Cicero, and who was a freedman of Cicero’s brother Quintus, Philologus by name, told the tribune that the litter was being carried through the wooded and shady walks towards the sea. The tribune, accordingly, taking a few helpers with him, ran round towards the exit, but Herennius hastened on the run through the walks, and Cicero, perceiving him, ordered the servants to set the litter down where they were. 3Then he himself, clasping his chin with his left hand, as was his wont, looked steadfastly at his slayers, his head all squalid and unkempt, and his face wasted with anxiety, so that most of those that stood by covered their faces while Herennius was slaying him. 4For he stretched his neck forth from the litter and was slain, being then in his sixty-fourth year.[101] Herennius cut off his head, by Antony’s command, and his hands—the hands with which he wrote the Philippics. For Cicero himself entitled his speeches against Antony “Philippics,” and to this day the documents are called Philippics.

49When Cicero’s extremities were brought to Rome, it chanced that Antony was conducting an election, but when he heard of their arrival and saw them, he cried out, “Now let our proscriptions have an end.” Then he ordered the head and hands to be placed over the ships’ beaks on the rostra, a sight that made the Romans shudder; for they thought they saw there, not the face of Cicero, but an image of the soul of Antony. 2However, he showed at least one sentiment of fair dealing in the case when he handed over Philologus to Pomponia, the wife of Quintus. And she, having got the man into her power, besides other dreadful punishments which she inflicted upon him, forced him to cut off his own flesh bit by bit and roast it, and then to eat it. This, indeed, is what some of the historians say; but Cicero’s own freedman, Tiro, makes no mention at all of the treachery of Philologus.

3I 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.” 4Moreover, as soon as he had finally defeated Antony,[102] and when he was himself consul, he chose Cicero’s son as his colleague in the office, and it was in his consulship that the senate took down the statues of Antony, made void the other honours 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.

« About This Work | Plut. Cic. 1–49 (end) | About This Work »


  • [1] Called Tullus Aufidius in the Coriolanus, xxii. 1.

  • [2] January 3, 106 B.C. Plutarch follows the Greek method of reckoning from a fixed point in the month. Cicero says (ante diem) III. Nonas Januarias (ad Att. xiii. 42, 2), the Nones being the fifth of January. Strictly speaking, only the first day of the month was called the Calends, but Plutarch seems to call the opening days of the new official year "the new Calends."

  • [3] Republic, p. 475 b.

  • [4] 90-88 B.C. It was under Pompey, however, that Cicero served (Phil. xii. 11, 27).

  • [5] In 82 B.C.

  • [6] In translating Cicero's "duobus millibus nummum," Plutarch erroneously reckons in denarii (which were equivalent to drachmas, or francs) instead of in sestertii (worth only one-quarter as much).

  • [7] See the oration pro Roscio Amerino.

  • [8] This the New Academy refused to admit.

  • [9] In 78 B.C.

  • [10] Cf. Cicero's Brutus, 91.

  • [11] Cicero returned to Rome in 77 B.C., being in his thirtieth year.

  • [12] In 75 B.C.

  • [13] Or. pro Plancio, 26. This was in the succeeding year (74 B.C.).

  • [14] That is, the last day on which the case could be tried during that year. The city praetor already elected for the coming year (69 B.C.) favoured Verres, and Hortensius, the advocate of Verres, was to be consul in that year. He therefore used every artifice to delay the case. See Cicero, in Verrem, i. 10, 31 ff.

  • [15] Of the seven orations against Verres (including the Divinatio in Caecilium) only the first two were delivered; the others were compiled after the verdict had been pronounced.

  • [16] See the note on iii. 2.

  • [17] In a house purchased after his consulship (ad fam. v. 6, 2).

  • [18] Cf. the Marius, xxxii. 1.

  • [19] In 66 B.C. Eight praetors were appointed, and the one who received most votes was made city praetor, or chief magistrate.

  • [20] Cf. the Sulla, xxxii. 2.

  • [21] Cf. Dion Cassius, Hist. Rom. xxxvii. 30, 3.

  • [22] For the year 63 B.C.

  • [23] See the three orations de Lege Agraria, which have come down to us almost intact.

  • [24] It was in 67 B.C., four years before Cicero's consulship, that Lucius Roscius Otho, as tribune of the people, introduced his law giving the equites a special place at the spectacles, namely, the fourteen rows of seats next those of the senators. The law, however, had only recently been enacted.

  • [25] Unum debile, infirmo capite (Cicero, pro Murena, 25, 51).

  • [26] For the year 62 B.C.

  • [27] See the Crassus, xiii 3. Cicero's treatise on his consulship, there referred to, was written in Greek, and is not extant.

  • [28] Dent operam consules ne quid respublica detrimenti capiat (Sallust, Catiline, 29); decrevit quondam senatus ut L. Opimius consul videret ne quid res publica detrimenti caperet (Cicero, in Catil. i. 2, 4).

  • [29] From Cicero's oration pro Sulla (6, 18) and Sallust's Catiline (28) it appears that the names of these would-be murderers were Caius Cornelius and Lucius Vargunteius.

  • [30] Cf. Cicero, in Catil. i. 5, 10.

  • [31] Cf. Cicero, in Catil. iii. 4, 9.

  • [32] At the time of the conspiracy of Catiline the Saturnalia lasted only one day, December 19; in the time of Augustus three days were devoted to them (December 17-19). See the note on Sulla, xviii. 5.

  • [33] Cf. Cicero, in Catil. iii. 2, 4-6.

  • [34] i.e. for confinement under guard in their own houses (libera custodia).

  • [35] The third oration in Catilinam.

  • [36] Cf. Sallust's Catiline, 46.

  • [37] In some passage no longer extant.

  • [38] Cf. Cicero, in Catil. iv. 4, 7.

  • [39] The fourth oration in Catilinam.

  • [40] Near the beginning of 62 B.C.

  • [41] Bestia was tribune in 63 B.C., and could not have had any part in dictating the procedure of Cicero.

  • [42] Caesar, as praetor, assumed office January 1, 62 B.C., the day after Cicero laid down the consulship; but the new tribunes for the year 62 assumed office early in December of 63.

  • [43] Cicero himself nowhere says this, nor does he mention Cato in connection with the title. In his oration in Pisonem, 3, 6, he says that Quintus Catulus gave him the title in the Senate.

  • [44] Acad. Prior. ii. 38, 119.

  • [45] Brutus, 31, 121 (si Graece loquatur).

  • [46] These letters are not extant.

  • [47] The younger Cicero, in a letter to Tiro (ad fam. xvi. 21, 6), says that he had found Gorgias useful as a teacher of declamation, but had dismissed him in obedience to his father's positive command.

  • [48] "Worthy of Crassus."

  • [49] Usually the mark of a slave.

  • [50] Adrastus, mythical king of Argos, gave his two daughters in marriage to Tydeus and Polyneices, both of whom were fugitives from their native cities.

  • [51] An iambic trimeter from some lost tragedy, perhaps the Oedipus of Euripides (Nauck, Trag.Graec.Frag.2, p. 911).

  • [52] A play upon the phrase (used of a slave) "in libertatem reclamare."

  • [53] Cf. chapter xix. 3.

  • [54] Cf. also the Caesar, x. 7. Each juror was provided with three tablets, on one of which was marked A (absolvo); on a second C (condemno); and on a third N.L. (non liquet). The jurors voted by placing one of these tablets in the urn. Plutarch must have misunderstood his source.

  • [55] Cf. Cicero, ad Att. i. 16, 5.

  • [56] Cf. Cicero, ibid. 16, 10.

  • [57] For the year 58 B.C.

  • [58] According to Cicero (ad Att. ii. 18, 3), it was Caesar who made the request.

  • [59] To a garb of mourning.

  • [60] Cf. Cicero's oration post red. ad Quir. 3, 8.

  • [61] Not the consul who is mentioned in xxx. 1 and below in § 4.

  • [62] Cf. Cicero, de leg. ii. 17, 42; ad fam. xii. 25, 1.

  • [63] Rather Bruttium.

  • [64] Cf. Cicero, pro Plancio, 40, 95 ff.

  • [65] As his letters to Atticus (iii. 8-21) show.

  • [66] Cf. Cicero, pro Sest. 31, 67 f.; Plutarch, Pompey, xlix. 1-3.

  • [67] 57 B.C.

  • [68] Cf. Cicero, pro Sest. 35, 75 f.

  • [69] On the question of Cicero's recall.

  • [70] Cf. Cicero, in Pisonem, 22, 52.

  • [71] Cf. Cicero, post red. in sen. 15, 39.

  • [72] Clodius had secured an adoption into a plebeian family in order to become a candidate for the tribuneship. Cf. Cicero, pro domo sua, 29, 77.

  • [73] Early in 52 B.C. For this year Pompey had been made sole consul.

  • [74] In 53 B.C. See the Crassus, chapter xxv.

  • [75] In 51 B.C.

  • [76] Cf. Cicero, ad fam. ii. 10, 2 f.

  • [77] Ad fam. ii. 11, 2.

  • [78] January 4, 49 B.C. Cf. ad fam. xvi. 11, 2 f.

  • [79] Ego vero quem fugiam habeo, quem sequar non habeo (ad Att. viii. 7, 2).

  • [80] In April, 49 B.C., Caesar set out for Spain, and in June Cicero sailed for Greece.

  • [81] At Dyrrhachium. See the Caesar, xxxix.; Caesar, B.C. iii. 41-55.

  • [82] In August, 48 B.C.

  • [83] Cf. Cato the Younger, lv. 3.

  • [84] In September, 47 B.C.

  • [85] Cf. pro Ligario, 9, 27 f.

  • [86] In Latin, respectively, visum (conception), assensio (assent), assensionis retentio (withholding of assent), comprehensio (perception), individuum (atom), vacuum (void); "ameres" (indivisible), with its Latin equivalent, does not occur in the extant works of Cicero (Gudeman).

  • [87] Cf. Odyssey, i. 189 ff.

  • [88] Tullia was old enough to have lost her first husband and married a second (§ 5).

  • [89] Publilia, of patrician family.

  • [90] On the Ides of March, 44 B.C.

  • [91] These declared a general amnesty after the overthrow of the Thirty Tyrants by Thrasybulus in 403 B.C.

  • [92] Cf. Plutarch's Brutus, chapter xx.

  • [93] In 43 B.C.

  • [94] Where he was studying.

  • [95] Caesar's widow had made Antony guardian of the estate.

  • [96] According to Dion Cassius (xlv. 2) and Suetonius (Divus Augustus, 94), Cicero dreamed that Octavius was let down from heaven by a chain of gold, and presented with a whip by Jupiter.

  • [97] Cicero, ad Brutum, i. 17, 5 (Brutus to Atticus).

  • [98] Cf. the Brutus, xxiv. 2; xxvi. 3.

  • [99] Near Mutina, a city in Gallia Cispadana, early in the year 43 B.C. Octavius Caesar acted in conjunction with the two consuls. Cf. Appian, B.C., iii. 71.

  • [100] In August, 43 B.C., when only twenty years of age.

  • [101] Cicero was murdered on the seventh of December, 43 B.C.

  • [102] At Alexandria, in 30 B.C. (see the Antony, lxxxi. 1 f.).

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