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Life of Cicero by Anthony Trollope

Part 5 out of 6

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to him was the feeling that he had behaved well to his friend. If his
friend were less friendly to him in return, then would the balance of
friendship be on his side. If Pompey were not bound to him, Cicero, by
personal gratitude, still would he be bound by necessary co-operation
in the service of the Republic. But, lest Pompey should misunderstand
him, he declares that he had expected warmer language in reference to
his Consulship, which he believes to have been withheld by Pompey lest
offence should be given to some third person. By this he means Caesar,
and those who were now joining themselves to Caesar. Then he goes on
to warn him as to the future: "Nevertheless, when you return, you will
find that my actions have been of such a nature that, even though you
may loom larger than Scipio, I shall be found worthy to be accepted
as your Laelius."[215] Infinite care had been given to the writing of
this letter, and sharp had been the heart-burnings which dictated it.
It was only by asserting that he, on his own part, was satisfied
with his own fidelity as a friend, that Cicero could express his
dissatisfaction at Pompey's coldness. It was only by continuing to
lavish upon Pompey such flattery as was contained in the reference to
Scipio, in which a touch of subtle irony is mixed with the flattery,
that he could explain the nature of the praise which had, he thought,
been due to himself. There is something that would have been abject in
the nature of these expressions, had it not been Roman in the excess
of the adulation. But there is courage in the letter, too, when he
tells his correspondent what he believes to have been the cause of
the coldness of which he complains: "Quod verere ne cujus animum
offenderes"--"Because you fear lest you should give offence to some
one." But let me tell you, he goes on to say, that my Consulship has
been of such a nature that you, Scipio, as you are, must admit me as
your friend.

In these words we find a key to the whole of Cicero's connection with
the man whom he recognizes as his political leader. He was always
dissatisfied with Pompey; always accusing Pompey in his heart of
ingratitude and insincerity; frequently speaking to Atticus with
bitter truth of the man's selfishness and incapacity, even of his
cruelty and want of patriotism; nicknaming him because of his
absurdities; declaring of him that he was minded to be a second Sulla;
but still clinging to him as the political friend and leader whom he
was bound to follow. In their earlier years, when he could have known
personally but little of Pompey, because Pompey was generally absent
from Rome, he had taken it into his head to love the man. He had been
called "Magnus;" he had been made Consul long before the proper
time; he had been successful on behalf of the Republic, and so far
patriotic. He had hitherto adhered to the fame of the Republic. At any
rate, Cicero had accepted him, and could never afterward bring himself
to be disloyal to the leader with whom he had professed to act. But
the feeling evinced in this letter was carried on to the end. He had
been, he was, he would be, true to his political connection with
Pompey; but of Pompey's personal character to himself he had nothing
but complaints to make.

[Sidenote: B.C. 62, aetat. 45.]

We have two other letters written by Cicero in this year, the first
of which is in answer to one from Metellus Celer to him, also extant.
Metellus wrote to complain of the ill-treatment which he thought he
had received from Cicero in the Senate, and from the Senate generally.
Cicero writes back at much greater length to defend himself, and
to prove that he had behaved as a most obliging friend to his
correspondent, though he had received a gross affront from his
correspondent's brother Nepos. Nepos had prevented him in that matter
of the speech. It is hardly necessary to go into the question of this
quarrel, except in so far as it may show how the feeling which led to
Cicero's exile was growing up among many of the aristocracy in Rome.
There was a counterplot going on at the moment--a plot on the behalf
of the aristocracy for bringing back Pompey to Rome, not only with
glory but with power, probably originating in a feeling that Pompey
would be a more congenial master than Cicero. It was suggested that as
Pompey had been found good in all State emergencies--for putting down
the pirates, for instance, and for conquering Mithridates--he would be
the man to contend in arms with Catiline. Catiline was killed before
the matter could be brought to an issue, but still the conspiracy went
on, based on the jealousy which was felt in regard to Cicero. This
man, who had declared so often that he had served his country, and who
really had crushed the Catilinarians by his industry and readiness,
might, after all, be coming forward as another Sulla, and looking to
make himself master by dint of his virtues and his eloquence. The
hopelessness of the condition of the Republic may be recognized in the
increasing conspiracies which were hatched on every side. Metellus
Nepos was sent home from Asia in aid of the conspiracy, and got
himself made Tribune, and stopped Cicero's speech. In conjunction with
Caesar, who was Praetor, he proposed his new law for the calling of
Pompey to their aid. Then there was a fracas between him and Caesar on
the one side and Cato on the other, in which Cato at last was so
far victorious that both Caesar and Metellus were stopped in the
performance of their official duties. Caesar was soon reinstated, but
Metellus Nepos returned to Pompey in the East, and nothing came of the
conspiracy. It is only noticed here as evidence of the feeling which
existed as to Cicero in Rome, and as explaining the irritation on both
sides indicated in the correspondence between Cicero and Metellus
Celer, the brother of Nepos,[216] whom Cicero had procured the
government of Gaul.

The third letter from Cicero in this year was to Sextius, who was then
acting as Quaestor--or Proquaestor, as Cicero calls him--with Antony
as Proconsul in Macedonia. It is specially interesting as telling us
that the writer had just completed the purchase of a house in Rome
from Crassus for a sum amounting to about L30,000 of our money. There
was probably no private mansion in Rome of greater pretension. It had
been owned by Livius Drusus, the Tribune--a man of colossal fortune,
as we are told by Mommsen--who was murdered at the door of it thirty
years before. It afterward passed into the hands of Crassus the rich,
and now became the property of Cicero. We shall hear how it was
destroyed during his exile, and how fraudulently made over to the
gods, and then how restored to Cicero, and how rebuilt at the public
expense. The history of the house has been so well written that we
know even the names of Cicero's two successors in it, Censorinus and
Statilius.[217] It is interesting to know the sort of house which
Cicero felt to be suitable to his circumstances, for by that we may
guess what his circumstances were. In making this purchase he is
supposed to have abandoned the family house in which his father had
lived next door to the new mansion, and to have given it up to his
brother. Hence we may argue that he had conceived himself to have
risen in worldly circumstances. Nevertheless, we are informed by
himself in this letter to Sextius that he had to borrow money for
the occasion--so much so that, being a man now indebted, he might be
supposed to be ripe for any conspiracy. Hence has come to us a story
through Aulus Gellius, the compiler of anecdotes, to the effect that
Cicero was fain to borrow this money from a client whose cause he
undertook in requital for the favor so conferred. Aulus Gellius
collected his stories two centuries afterward for the amusement of his
children, and has never been regarded as an authority in matters for
which confirmation has been wanting. There is no allusion to such
borrowing from a client made by any contemporary. In this letter to
Sextius, in which he speaks jokingly of his indebtedness, he declares
that he has been able to borrow any amount he wanted at six per
cent--twelve being the ordinary rate--and gives as a reason for this
the position which he has achieved by his services to the State. Very
much has been said of the story, as though the purchaser of the house
had done something of which he ought to have been ashamed, but this
seems to have sprung entirely from the idea that a man who, in the
midst of such wealth as prevailed at Rome, had practised so widely and
so successfully the invaluable profession of an advocate, must surely
have taken money for his services. He himself has asserted that he
took none, and all the evidence that we have goes to show that he
spoke the truth. Had he taken money, even as a loan, we should have
heard of it from nearer witnesses than Aulus Gellius, if, as Aulus
Gellius tells us, it had become known at the time. But because he
tells his friend that he has borrowed money for the purpose, he is
supposed to have borrowed it in a disgraceful manner! It will be found
that all the stones most injurious to Cicero's reputation have
been produced in the same manner. His own words have been
misinterpreted--either the purport of them, if spoken in earnest,
or their bearing, if spoken in joke--and then accusations have been
founded on them.[218]

Another charge of dishonest practice was about this time made against
Cicero without a gram of evidence, though indeed the accusations so
made, and insisted upon, apparently from a feeling that Cicero cannot
surely have been altogether clean when all others were so dirty, are
too numerous to receive from each reader's judgment that indignant
denial to which each is entitled. The biographer cannot but fear that
when so much mud has been thrown some will stick, and therefore almost
hesitates to tell of the mud, believing that no stain of this kind has
been in truth deserved.

It seems that Antony, Cicero's colleague in the Consulship, who became
Proconsul in Macedonia, had undertaken to pay some money to Cicero.
Why the money was to be paid we do not know, but there are allusions
in Cicero's letters to Atticus to one Teucris (a Trojan woman), and it
seems that Antony was designated by the nickname. Teucris is very slow
at paying his money, and Cicero is in want of it. But perhaps it will
be as well not to push the matter. He, Antony, is to be tried for
provincial peculation, and Cicero declares that the case is so bad
that he cannot defend his late colleague. Hence have arisen two
different suspicions: one that Antony had agreed to make over to
Cicero a share of the Macedonian plunder in requital of Cicero's
courtesy in giving up the province which had been allotted to himself;
the second, that Antony was to pay Cicero for defending him. As to the
former, Cicero himself alludes to such a report as being common in
Macedonia, and as having been used by Antony himself as an excuse for
increased rapine. But this has been felt to be incredible, and has
been allowed to fall to the ground because of the second accusation.
But in support of that there is no word of evidence,[219] whereas the
tenor of the story as told by Cicero himself is against it. Is it
likely, would it be possible, that Cicero should have begun his letter
to Atticus by complaining that he could not get from Antony money
wanted for a peculiar purpose--it was wanted for his new house--and
have gone on in the same letter to say that this might be as well,
after all, as he did not intend to perform the service for which the
money was to be paid? The reader will remember that the accusation is
based solely on Cicero's own statement that Antony was negligent in
paying to him money that had been promised. In all these accusations
the evidence against Cicero, such as it is, is brought exclusively
from Cicero's own words. Cicero did afterward defend this Antony, as
we learn from his speech Pro Domo Sua; but his change of purpose in
that respect has nothing to do with the argument.

[Sidenote: B.C. 62, aetat. 45.]

We have two speeches extant made this year: one on behalf of P. Sulla,
nephew to the Dictator; the other for Archias the Greek scholar and
poet, who had been Cicero's tutor and now claimed to be a citizen of
Rome. I have already given an extract from this letter, as showing
the charm of words with which Cicero could recommend the pursuit of
literature to his hearers. The whole oration is a beautiful morsel of
Latinity, in which, however, strength of argument is lacking. Cicero
declares of Archias that he was so eminent in literature that, if not
a Roman citizen, he ought to be made one. The result is not known,
but the literary world believes that the citizenship was accorded to

The speech on behalf of Sulla was more important, but still not of
much importance. This Sulla, as may be remembered, had been chosen as
Consul with Autronius, two years before the Consulship of Cicero, and
he had then after his election been deposed for bribery, as had also
Autronius. L. Aurelius Cotta and L. Manlius Torquatus had been elected
in their places. It has also been already explained that the two
rejected Consuls had on this account joined Catiline in his first

There can be no doubt that whether as Consuls or as rejected Consuls,
and on that account conspirators, their purpose was to use their
position as aristocrats for robbing the State. They were of the number
of those to whom no other purpose was any longer possible. Then there
came Catiline's second conspiracy--the conspiracy which Cicero had
crushed--and there naturally rose the question whether from time to
time this or the other noble Roman should not be accused of having
joined it. Many noble Romans had no doubt joined besides those who had
fallen fighting, or who had been executed in the dungeons. Accusations
became very rife. One Vettius accused Caesar, the Praetor; but Caesar,
with that potentiality which was peculiar to him, caused Vettius to
be put into prison instead of going to prison himself. Many were
convicted and banished; among them Portius Leca, Vargunteius, Servius
Sulla, the brother of him of whom we are now speaking, and Autronius
his colleague. In the trial of these men Cicero took no part. He was
specially invited by Autronius, who was an old school-fellow,
to defend him, but he refused; indeed, he gave evidence against
Autrionius at the trial. But this Publius Sulla he did defend, and
defended successfully. He was joined in the case with Hortensius, and
declared that as to the matter of the former conspiracy he left all
that to his learned friend, who was concerned with political matters
of that date.[221] He, Cicero, had known nothing about them. The part
of the oration which most interests us is that in which he defends
himself from the accusations somewhat unwisely made against himself
personally by young Torquatus, the son of him who had been raised to
the Consulship in the place of P. Sulla. Torquatus had called him
a foreigner because he was a "novus homo," and had come from the
municipality of Arpinum, and had taunted him with being a king,
because he had usurped authority over life and death in regard to
Lentulus and the other conspirators. He answers this very finely, and
does so without an ill-natured word to young Torquatus, whom, from
respect to his father, he desires to spare. "Do not," he says, "in
future call me a foreigner, lest you be answered with severity, nor a
king, lest you be laughed at--unless, indeed, you think it king-like
so to live as to be a slave not only to no man but to no evil passion;
unless you think it be king-like to despise all lusts, to thirst for
neither gold nor silver nor goods, to express yourself freely in the
Senate, to think more of services due to the people than of favors won
from them, to yield to none, and to stand firm against many. If this
be king-like, then I confess that I am a king." Sulla was acquitted,
but the impartial reader will not the less feel sure that he had been
part and parcel with Catiline in the conspiracy. It is trusted that
the impartial reader will also remember how many honest, loyal
gentlemen have in our own days undertaken the causes of those whom
they have known to be rebels, and have saved those rebels by their
ingenuity and eloquence.

At the end of this year, B.C. 62, there occurred a fracas in Rome
which was of itself but of little consequence to Rome, and would have
been of none to Cicero but that circumstances grew out of it which
created for him the bitterest enemy he had yet encountered, and led
to his sorest trouble. This was the affair of Clodius and of the
mysteries of the Bona Dea, and I should be disposed to say that it was
the greatest misfortune of his life, were it not that the wretched
results which sprung from it would have been made to spring from some
other source had that source not sufficed. I shall have to tell how
it came to pass that Cicero was sent into exile by means of the
misconduct of Clodius; but I shall have to show also that the
misconduct of Clodius was but the tool which was used by those who
were desirous of ridding themselves of the presence of Cicero.

This Clodius, a young man of noble family and of debauched manners, as
was usual with young men of noble families, dressed himself up as a
woman, and made his way in among the ladies as they were performing
certain religious rites in honor of the Bona Dea, or Goddess Cybele, a
matron goddess so chaste in her manners that no male was admitted into
her presence. It was specially understood that nothing appertaining to
a man was to be seen on the occasion, not even the portrait of one;
and it may possibly have been the case that Clodius effected his
entrance among the worshipping matrons on this occasion simply because
his doing so was an outrage, and therefore exciting. Another reason
was alleged. The rites in question were annually held, now in the
house of this matron and then of that, and during the occasion the
very master of the house was excluded from his own premises. They were
now being performed under the auspices of Pompeia, the wife of Julius
Caesar, the daughter of one Quintus Pompeius, and it was alleged that
Clodius came among the women worshippers for the sake of carrying on
an intrigue with Caesar's wife. This was highly improbable, as Mr.
Forsyth has pointed out to us, and the idea was possibly used simply
as an excuse to Caesar for divorcing a wife of whom he was weary.
At any rate, when the scandal got abroad, he did divorce Pompeia,
alleging that it did not suit Caesar to have his wife suspected.

[Sidenote: B.C. 61, aetat. 46.]

The story became known through the city, and early in January Cicero
wrote to Atticus, telling him the facts: "You have probably heard
that Publius Clodius, the son of Appius, has been taken dressed in
a woman's clothes in the house of Cains Caesar, where sacrifice was
being made for the people, and that he escaped by the aid of a female
slave. You will be sorry to hear that it has given rise to a great

A few days afterward Cicero speaks of it again to Atticus at greater
length, and we learn that the matter had been taken up by the
magistrates with the view of punishing Clodius. Cicero writes without
any strong feeling of his own, explaining to his friend that he had
been at first a very Lycurgus in the affair, but that he is now tamed
down.[223] Then there is a third letter in which Cicero is indignant
because certain men of whom he disapproves, the Consul Piso among the
number[224] are anxious to save this wicked young nobleman from the
punishment due to him; whereas others of whom he approves Cato among
the number, are desirous of seeing justice done. But it was no affair
special to Cicero. Shortly afterward he writes again to Atticus as to
the result of the trial--for a trial did take place--and explains to
his friend how justice had failed. Atticus had asked him how it had
come to pass that he, Cicero, had not exerted himself as he usually
did.[225] This letter, though there is matter enough in it of a
serious kind, yet jests with the Clodian affair so continually as
to make us feel that he attributed no importance to it as regarded
himself. He had exerted himself till Hortensius made a mistake as to
the selection of the judges. After that he had himself given evidence.
An attempt was made to prove an alibi, but Cicero came forward to
swear that he had seen Clodius on the very day in question. There had,
too, been an exchange of repartee in the Senate between himself and
Clodius after the acquittal, of which he gives the details to his
correspondent with considerable self-satisfaction. The passage does
not enhance our idea of the dignity of the Senate, or of the power
of Roman raillery. It was known that Clodius had been saved by the
wholesale bribery of a large number of the judges. There had been
twenty-five for condemning against thirty-one for acquittal.[226]

Cicero in the Catiline affair had used a phrase with frequency
by which he boasted that he had "found out" this and "found out"
that--"comperisse omnia." Clodius, in the discussion before the trial,
throws this in his teeth: "Comperisse omnia criminabatur." This gave
rise to ill-feeling, and hurt Cicero much worse than the dishonor done
to the Bona Dea. As for that, we may say that he and the Senate and
the judges cared personally very little, although there was no doubt
a feeling that it was wise to awe men's minds by the preservation of
religious respect. Cicero had cared but little about the trial; but as
he had been able to give evidence he had appeared as a witness, and
enmity sprung from the words which were spoken both on one side and on
the other. Clodius was acquitted, which concerns us not at all, and
concerns Rome very little; but things had so come to pass at the trial
that Cicero had been very bitter, and that Clodius had become his
enemy. When a man was wanted, three years afterward, to take the lead
in persecuting Cicero, Clodius was ready for the occasion.

While the expediency of putting Clodius on his trial was being
discussed, Pompey had returned from the East, and taken up his
residence outside the city, because he was awaiting his triumph. The
General, to whom it was given to march through the city with triumphal
glory, was bound to make his first entrance after his victories
with all his triumphal appendages, as though he was at that moment
returning from the war with all his warlike spoils around him. The
usage had obtained the strength of law, but the General was not on
that account deburred from city employment during the interval. The
city must be taken out to him instead of his coming into the city.
Pompey was so great on his return from his Mithridatic victories that
the Senate went out to sit with him in the suburbs, as he could not
sit with it within the walls. We find him taking part in these Clodian
discussions. Cicero at once writes of him to Athens with evident
dissatisfaction. When questioned about Clodius, Pompey had answered
with the grand air of aristocrat. Crassus on this occasion, between
whom and Cicero there was never much friendship, took occasion to
belaud the late great Consul on account of his Catiline successes.
Pompey, we are told, did not bear this well.[227] Crassus had probably
intended to produce some such effect. Then Cicero had spoken in answer
to the remarks of Crassus, very glibly, no doubt, and had done his
best to "show off" before Pompey, his new listener.[228]

More than six years had passed since Pompey could have heard him, and
then Cicero's voice had not become potential in the Senate. Cicero
had praised Pompey with all the eloquence in his power. "Anteponatur
omnibus Pompeius," he had said, in the last Catiline oration to the
Senate; and Pompey, though he had not heard the words spoken, knew
very well what had been said. Such oratory was never lost upon those
whom it most concerned the orator to make acquainted with it. But in
return for all this praise, for that Manilian oration which had helped
to send him to the East, for continual loyalty, Pompey had replied
to Cicero with coldness. He would now let Pompey know what was his
standing in Rome. "If ever," he says to Atticus, "I was strong with my
grand rhythm, with my quick rhetorical passages, with enthusiasm, and
with logic, I was so now. Oh, the noise that I made on the occasion!
You know what my voice can do. I need say no more about it, as surely
you must have heard me away there in Epirus." The reader, I trust,
will have already a sufficiently vivid idea of Cicero's character
to understand the mingling of triumph and badinage, with a spark of
disappointment, which is here expressed. "This Pompey, though I have
so true to him, has not thought much of me--of me, the great Consul
who saved Rome! He has now heard what even Crassus has been forced to
say about me. He shall hear me too, me myself, and perhaps he will
then know better." It was thus that Cicero's mind was at work while
he was turning his loud periods. Pompey was sitting next to him
listening, by no means admiring his admirer as that admirer expected
to be admired. Cicero had probably said to himself that they two
together, Pompey and Cicero, might suffice to preserve the Republic.
Pompey, not thinking much of the Republic, was probably telling
himself that he wanted no brother near the throne. When of two men the
first thinks himself equal to the second, the second will generally
feel himself to be superior to the first. Pompey would have liked
Cicero better if his periods had not been so round nor his voice so
powerful. Not that Pompey was distinctly desirous of any throne.
His position at the moment was peculiar. He had brought back his
victorious army from the East to Brundisium, and had then disbanded
his legions. I will quote here the opening words from one of Mommsen's
chapters:[229] "When Pompeius, after having transacted the affairs
committed to his charge, again turned his eyes toward home, he found,
for the second time, the diadem at his feet." He says farther on,
explaining why Pompey did not lift the diadem: "The very peculiar
temperament of Pompeius naturally turned once more the scale. He was
one of those men who are capable, it may be, of a crime, but not of
insubordination." And again: "While in the capital all was preparation
for receiving the new monarch, news came that Pompeius, when barely
landed at Brundisium, had broken up his legions, and with a small
escort had entered his journey to the capital. If it is a piece of
good-fortune to gain a crown without trouble, fortune never did more
for mortal than it did for Pompeius; but on those who lack courage the
gods lavish every favor and every gift in vain." I must say here that,
while I acknowledge the German historian's research and knowledge
without any reserve, I cannot accept his deductions as to character. I
do not believe that Pompey found any diadem at his feet, or thought of
any diadem, nor, according to my reading of Roman history, had Marius
or had Sulla; nor did Caesar. The first who thought of that perpetual
rule--a rule to be perpetuated during the ruler's life, and to
be handed down to his successors--was Augustus. Marius, violent,
self-seeking, and uncontrollable, had tumbled into supreme power; and,
had he not died, would have held it as long as he could, because it
pleased his ambition for the moment. Sulla, with a purpose, had
seized it, yet seems never to have got beyond the old Roman idea of a
temporary Dictatorship. The old Roman horror of a king was present
to these Romans, even after they had become kings. Pompey, no doubt,
liked to be first, and when he came back from the East thought that by
his deeds he was first, easily first. Whether Consul year after year,
as Marius had been, or Dictator, as Sulla had been, or Imperator, with
a running command over all the Romans, it was his idea still to adhere
to the forms of the Republic. Mommsen, foreseeing--if an historian
can be said to foresee the future from his standing-point in the
past--that a master was to come for the Roman Empire, and giving all
his sympathies to the Caesarean idea, despises Pompey because Pompey
would not pick up the diadem. No such idea ever entered Pompey's head.
After a while he "Sullaturized"--was desirous of copying Sulla--to
use an excellent word which Cicero coined. When he was successfully
opposed by those whom he had thought inferior to himself, when he
found that Caesar had got the better of him, and that a stronger body
of Romans went with Caesar than with him, then proscriptions, murder,
confiscations, and the seizing of dictatorial power presented
themselves to his angry mind, but of permanent despotic power there
was, I think, no thought, nor, as far as I can read the records, had
such an idea been fixed in Caesar's bosom. To carry on the old trade
of Praetor, Consul, Proconsul, and Imperator, so as to get what he
could of power and wealth and dignity in the scramble, was, I think,
Caesar's purpose. The rest grew upon him. As Shakspeare, sitting down
to write a play that might serve his theatre, composed some Lear or
Tempest--that has lived and will live forever, because of the genius
which was unknown to himself--so did Caesar, by his genius, find his
way to a power which he had not premeditated. A much longer time is
necessary for eradicating an idea from men's minds than a fact from
their practice. This should be proved to us by our own loyalty to the
word "monarch," when nothing can be farther removed from a monarchy
than our own commonwealth. From those first breaches in republican
practice which the historian Florus dates back to the siege of
Numantia,[230] B.C. 133, down far into the reign of Augustus, it took
a century and a quarter to make the people understand that there was
no longer a republican form of government, and to produce a leader who
could himself see that there was room for a despot.

Pompey had his triumph; but the same aristocratic airs which had
annoyed Cicero had offended others. He was shorn of his honors. Only
two days were allowed for his processions. He was irritated, jealous,
and no doubt desirous of making his power felt; but he thought of no
diadem. Caesar saw it all; and he thought of that conspiracy which we
have since called the First Triumvirate.

[Sidenote: B.C. 62, 61. aetat.45,46.]

The two years to which this chapter has been given were uneventful in
Cicero's life, and produced but little of that stock of literature
by which he has been made one of mankind's prime favorites. Two
discourses were written and published, and probably spoken, which are
now lost--that, namely, to the people against Metellus, in which, no
doubt, he put forth all that he had intended to say when Metellus
stopped him from speaking at the expiration of his Consulship; the
second, against Clodius and Curio, in the Senate, in reference to the
discreditable Clodian affair. The fragments which we have of this
contain those asperities which he retailed afterward in his letter to
Atticus, and are not either instructive or amusing. But we learn from
these fragments that Clodius was already preparing that scheme for
entering the Tribunate by an illegal repudiation of his own family
rank, which he afterward carried out, to the great detriment of
Cicero's happiness. Of the speeches extant on behalf of Archias and
P. Sulla I have spoken already. We know of no others made during this
period. We have one letter besides this to Atticus, addressed to
Antony, his former colleague, which, like many of his letters, was
written solely for the sake of popularity.

During these years he lived no doubt splendidly as one of the great
men of the greatest city in the world. He had his magnificent new
mansion in Rome, and his various villas, which were already becoming
noted for their elegance and charms of upholstery and scenic beauty.
Not only had he climbed to the top of official life himself, but had
succeeded in taking his brother Quintus up with him. In the second
of the two years, B.C. 61, Quintus had been sent out as Governor or
Propraetor to Asia, having then nothing higher to reach than the
Consulship, which, however, he never attained. This step in the life
of Quintus has become famous by a letter which the elder brother wrote
to him in the second year of his office, to which reference will be
made in the next chapter.

So far all things seemed to have gone well with Cicero. He was high in
esteem and authority, powerful, rich, and with many people popular.
But the student of his life now begins to see that troubles are
enveloping him. He had risen too high not to encounter envy, and had
been too loud in his own praise not to make those who envied him very
bitter in their malice.


[212] In Pisonem, iii.: "Sine ulla dubitatione juravi rempublicam
atque hanc urbem mea unius opera esse salvam."

[213] Dio Cassius tells the same story, lib. xxxvii., ca. 38, but he
adds that Cicero was more hated than ever because of the oath he took:
[Greek: Kai ho men ek touton poly mallon emisaethae.]

[214] It is the only letter given in the collection as having been
addressed direct to Pompey. In two letters written some years later to
Atticus, B.C. 49, lib. viii., 11, and lib. viii., 12, he sends copies
of a correspondence between himself and Pompey and two of the Pompeian

[215] Lib. v., 7. It is hardly necessary to explain that the younger
Scipio and Laelius were as famous for their friendship as Pylades and
Orestes. The "Virtus Scipiadae et mitis sapientia Laeli" have been
made famous to us all by Horace.

[216] These two brothers, neither of whom was remarkable for great
qualities, though they were both to be Consuls, were the last known
of the great family of the Metelli, a branch of the "Gens Caecilia."
Among them had been many who had achieved great names for themselves
in Roman history, on account of the territories added to the springing
Roman Empire by their victories. There had been a Macedonicus, a
Numidicus, a Balearicus, and a Creticus. It is of the first that
Velleius Paterculus sings the glory--lib. i., ca. xi., and the elder
Pliny repeats the story, Hist. Nat., vii., 44--that of his having been
carried to the grave by four sons, of whom at the time of his death
three had been Consuls, one had been a Praetor, two had enjoyed
triumphal honors, and one had been Censor. In looking through the
consular list of Cicero's lifetime, I find that there were no less
than seven taken from the family of the Metelli. These two brothers,
Metellus Nepos and Celer, again became friends to Cicero; Nepos, who
had stopped his speech and assisted in forcing him into exile, having
assisted as Consul in obtaining his recall from exile. It is very
difficult to follow the twistings and turnings of Roman friendships at
this period.

[217] Velleius Paterculus, lib. ii., ca. xiv. Paterculus tells us
how, when the architect offered to build the house so as to hide its
interior from the gaze of the world, Drusus desired the man so to
construct it that all the world might see what he was doing.

[218] It may be worth while to give a translation of the anecdote as
told by Aulus Gellius, and to point out that the authors intention was
to show what a clever fellow Cicero was. Cicero did defend P. Sulla
this year; but whence came the story of the money borrowed from Sulla
we do not know. "It is a trick of rhetoric craftily to confess charges
made, so as not to come within the reach of the law. So that, if any-
thing base be alleged which cannot be denied, you may turn it aside
with a joke, and make it a matter of laughter rather than of disgrace,
as it is written that Cicero did when, with a drolling word, he made
little of a charge which he could not deny. For when he was anxious
to buy a house on the Palatine Hill, and had not the ready money, he
quietly borrowed from P. Sulla--who was then about to stand his trial,
'sestertium viciens'--twenty million sesterces. When that became
known, before the purchase was made, and it was objected to him that
he had borrowed the money from a client, then Cicero, instigated by
the unexpected charge, denied the loan, and denied also that he was
going to buy the house. But when he had bought it and the fib was
thrown in his teeth, he laughed heartily, and asked whether men had so
lost their senses as not to be aware that a prudent father of a family
would deny an intended purchase rather than raise the price of the
article against himself"--Noctes Atticae, xii., 12. Aulus Gellius
though he tells us that the story was written, does not tell us where
he read it.

[219] I must say this, "pace" Mr. Tyrrell, who, in his note on the
letter to Atticus, lib. i, 12, attempts to show that some bargain for
such professional fee had been made. Regarding Mr. Tyrrell as a critic
always fair, and almost always satisfactory, I am sorry to have to
differ from him; but it seems to me that he, too, has been carried
away by the feeling that in defending a man's character it is best to
give up some point.

[220] I have been amused at finding a discourse, eloquent and most
enthusiastic, in praise of Cicero and especially of this oration,
spoken by M. Gueroult at the College of France in June, 1815. The
worst literary faults laid to the charge of Cicero, if committed by
him--which M. Gueroult thinks to be doubtful--had been committed even
by Voltaire and Racine! The learned Frenchman, with whom I altogether
sympathize, rises to an ecstasy of violent admiration, and this at the
very moment in which Waterloo was being fought. But in truth the great
doings of the world do not much affect individual life. We should play
our whist at the clubs though the battle of Dorking were being fought.

[221] Pro P. Sulla, iv.: "Scis me----illorum expertem temporum et
sermonum fuisse; credo, quod nondum penitus in republica versabar,
quod nondum ad propositum mihi finem honoris perveneram.----Quis ergo
intererat vestris consiliis? Omnes hi, quos vides huic adesse et in
primis Q. Hortensius."

[222] Ad Att., lib.i., 12.

[223] Ad Att., lib.i., 13.

[224] Ibid., i., 14.

[225]Ibid., i., 16: "Vis scire quomodo minus quam soleam praeliatus

[226] "You have bought a fine house," said Clodius. "There would be
more in what you say if you could accuse me of buying judges," replied
Cicero. "The judges would not trust you on your oath," said Clodius,
referring to the alibi by which he had escaped in opposition to
Cicero's oath. "Yes," replied Cicero, "twenty-five trusted me; but not
one of the thirty-one would trust you without having his bribe paid

[227] Ad Att., i., 14: "Proxime Pompeium sedebam. Intellexi hominem

[228] Ibid.: "Quo modo [Greek: eneperpereusamaen], novo auditori

[229] Mommsen, book v., chap.vi. This probably has been taken from
the statement of Paterculus, lib.ii., 40: "Quippe plerique non
sine exercitu venturum in urbem adfirmabant, et libertati publicae
statuturum arbitrio suo modum. Quo magis hoc homines timuerant, eo
gratior civilis tanti imperatoris reditus fuit." No doubt there was
a dread among many of Pompey coming back as Sulla had come: not from
indications to be found in the character of Pompey, but because Sulla
had done so.

[230] Florus, lib.ii., xix. Having described to us the siege of
Numantia, he goes on "Ilactenus populus Romanus pulcher, egregius,
pius, sanctusarque magnificus. Reliqua seculi, ut grandia aeque, ita
vel magis turbida et foeda".



[Sidenote: BC. 60, aetat. 47.]

I know of no great fact in history so impalpable, so shadowy, so
unreal, as the First Triumvirate. Every school-boy, almost every
school-girl, knows that there was a First Triumvirate, and that it was
a political combination made by three great Romans of the day, Julius
Caesar, Pompey the Great, and Crassus the Rich, for managing Rome
among them. Beyond this they know little, because there is little to
know. That it was a conspiracy against the ordained government of the
day, as much so as that of Catiline, or Guy Faux, or Napoleon III.,
they do not know generally, because Caesar, who, though the youngest
of the three, was the mainspring of it, rose by means of it to such a
galaxy of glory that all the steps by which he rose to it have been
supposed to be magnificent and heroic. But of the method in which
this Triumvirate was constructed, who has an idea? How was it first
suggested, where, and by whom? What was it that the conspirators
combined to do? There was no purpose of wholesale murder like that of
Catiline for destroying the Senate, and of Guy Faux for blowing up the
House of Lords. There was no plot arranged for silencing a body of
legislators like that of Napoleon. In these scrambles that are going
on every year for place and power, for provinces and plunder, let us
help each other. If we can manage to stick fast by each other, we can
get all the power and nearly all the plunder. That, said with a wink
by one of the Triumvirate--Caesar, let us say--and assented to with a
nod by Pompey and Crassus, was sufficient for the construction of such
a conspiracy as that which I presume to have been hatched when the
First Triumvirate was formed.[231]

Mommsen, who never speaks of a Triumvirate under that name, except
in his index,[232] where he has permitted the word to appear for the
guidance of persons less well instructed than himself, connects
the transaction which we call the First Triumvirate with a former
coalition, which he describes as having been made in (B.C. 71) the
year before the Consulship of Pompey and Crassus. With that we need
not concern ourselves as we are dealing with the life of Cicero rather
than with Roman history, except to say that Caesar. who was the motive
power of the second coalition, could have had no personal hand in
that of 71. Though he had spent his early years in "harassing the
aristocracy," as Dean Merivale tells us, he had not been of sufficient
standing in men's minds to be put on a par with Pompey and Crassus.
When this First Triumvirate was formed, as the modern world generally
calls it, or the second coalition between the democracy and the great
military leaders, as Mommsen with greater, but not with perfect,
accuracy describes it, Caesar no doubt had at his fingers' ends the
history of past years. "The idea naturally occurred," says Mommsen,
"whether----an alliance firmly based on mutual advantage might not
be established between the democrats, with their ally, Crassus, on the
one side, and Pompeius and the great capitalists on the other. For
Pompeius such a coalition was certainly a political suicide."[233] The
democracy here means Caesar. Caesar during his whole life had been
learning that no good could come to any one from an effete Senate, or
from republican forms which had lost all their salt. Democracy was in
vogue with him; not, as I think, from any philanthropic desire for
equality; not from any far-seeing view of fraternal citizenship under
one great paternal lord--the study of politics had never then reached
to that height--but because it was necessary that some one, or perhaps
some two or three, should prevail in the coming struggle, and because
he felt himself to be more worthy than others. He had no conscience in
the matter. Money was to him nothing. Another man's money was the
same as his own--or better, if he could get hold of it. That doctrine
taught by Cicero that men are "ad justitiam natos" must have been to
him simply absurd. Blood was to him nothing. A friend was better than
a foe, and a live man than a dead. Blood-thirstiness was a passion
unknown to him; but that tenderness which with us creates a horror of
blood was equally unknown. Pleasure was sweet to him; but he was man
enough to feel that a life of pleasure was contemptible. To pillage a
city, to pilfer his all from a rich man, to debauch a friend's wife,
to give over a multitude of women and children to slaughter, was as
easy to him as to forgive an enemy. But nothing rankled with him, and
he could forgive an enemy. Of courage he had that better sort which
can appreciate and calculate danger, and then act as though there were
none. Nothing was wrong to him but what was injudicious. He could
flatter, cajole, lie, deceive, and rob; nay, would think it folly not
to do so if to do so were expedient.[234] In this coalition he appears
as supporting and supported by the people. Therefore Mommsen speaks of
him as "the democrat." Crassus is called the ally of the democrats.
It will be enough for us here to know that Crassus had achieved his
position in the Senate by his enormous wealth, and that it was because
of his wealth, which was essential to Caesar, that he was admitted
into the league. By means of his wealth he had risen to power and had
conquered and killed Spartacus, of the honor and glory of which Pompey
robbed him. Then he had been made Consul. When Caesar had gone as
Propraetor to Spain, Crassus had found the money. Now Caesar had come
back, and was hand and glove with Crassus. When the division of
the spoil came, some years afterward--the spoil won by the
Triumvirate--when Caesar had half perfected his grand achievements in
Gaul, and Crassus had as yet been only a second time Consul, he got
himself to be sent into Syria, that by conquering the Parthians
he might make himself equal to Caesar. We know how he and his son
perished there, each of them probably avoiding the last extremity
of misery to a Roman--that of falling into the hands of a barbarian
enemy--by destroying himself. Than the life of Crassus nothing could
be more contemptible; than the death nothing more pitiable. "For
Pompeius," says Mommsen, "such a coalition was certainly a political
suicide." As events turned out it became so, because Caesar was the
stronger man of the two; but it is intelligible that at that time
Pompey should have felt that he could not lord it over the Senate,
as he wished to do, without aid from the democratic party. He had no
well-defined views, but he wished to be the first man in Rome. He
regarded himself as still greatly superior to Caesar, who as yet had
been no more than Praetor, and at this time was being balked of his
triumph because he could not at one and the same moment be in the
city, as candidate for the Consulship, and out of the city waiting for
his triumph. Pompey had triumphed three times, had been Consul at an
unnaturally early age with abnormal honors, had been victorious east
and west, and was called "Magnus." He did not as yet fear to be
overshadowed by Ceasar.[235]

Cicero was his bugbear.

Mommsen I believe to be right in eschewing the word "Triumvirate."
I know no mention of it by any Roman writer as applied to this
conspiracy, though Tacitus, Suetonius, and Florus call by that name
the later coalition of Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus. The Langhornes,
in translating Plutarch's life of Crassus, speak of the Triumvirate;
but Plutarch himself says that Caesar combined "an impregnable
stronghold" by joining the three men.[236]

Paterculus and Suetonius[237] explain very clearly the nature of the
compact, but do not use the term. There was nothing in the conspiracy
entitling it to any official appellation, though, as there were
three leading conspirators, that which has been used has been so far

[Sidenote: B.C. 60, aetat. 47.]

Cicero was the bugbear to them all. That he might have been one of
them, if ready to share the plunder and the power, no reader of the
history of the time can doubt. Had he so chosen he might again have
been a "real power in the State;" but to become so in the way proposed
to him it was necessary that he should join others in a conspiracy
against the Republic.

I do not wish it to be supposed that Cicero received the overtures
made to him with horror. Conspiracies were too common for horror; and
these conspirators were all our Cicero's friends in one sense, though
in another they might be his opponents. We may imagine that at first
Crassus had nothing to do with the matter, and that Pompey would fain
have stood aloof in his jealousy. But Caesar knew that it was well to
have Cicero, if Cicero was to be had. It was not only his eloquence
which was marvellously powerful, or his energy which had been shown to
be indomitable: there was his character, surpassed by that of no Roman
living; if only, in giving them the use of his character, he could be
got to disregard the honor and the justice and the patriotism on which
his character had been founded. How valuable may character be made, if
it can be employed under such conditions! To be believed because of
your truth, and yet to lie; to be trusted for your honesty, and yet to
cheat; to have credit for patriotism, and yet to sell your country!
The temptations to do this are rarely put before a man plainly, in all
their naked ugliness. They certainly were not so presented to Cicero
by Caesar and his associates. The bait was held out to him, as it is
daily to others, in a form not repellent, with words fitted to deceive
and powerful almost to persuade. Give us the advantage of your
character, and then by your means we shall be able to save our
country. Though our line of action may not be strictly constitutional,
if you will look into it you will see that it is expedient. What
other course is there? How else shall any wreck of the Republic be
preserved? Would you be another Cato, useless and impractical? Join
us, and save Rome to some purpose. We can understand that in such way
was the lure held out to Cicero, as it has been to many a politician
since. But when the politician takes the office offered to him--and
the pay, though it be but that of a Lord of the Treasury--he must vote
with his party.

That Cicero doubted much whether he would or would not at this time
throw in his lot with Caesar and Pompey is certain. To be of real
use--not to be impractical, as was Cato--to save his country and
rise honestly in power and glory--not to be too straitlaced, not
over-scrupulous--giving and taking a little, so that he might work to
good purpose with others in harness--that was his idea of duty as
a Roman. To serve in accord with Pompey was the first dream of his
political life, and now Pompey was in accord with Caesar. It was
natural that he should doubt--natural that he should express his
doubts. Who should receive them but Atticus, that "alter ego?" Cicero
doubted whether he should cling to Pompey--as he did in every phase
of his political life, till Pompey had perished at the mouth of the
Nile. But at last he saw his way clear to honesty, as I think he
always did. He tells his friend that Caesar had sent his confidential
messenger, Balbus, to sound him. The present question is whether he
shall resist a certain agrarian law of which he does not approve,
but which is supported by both Pompey and Caesar, or retire from the
contest and enjoy himself at his country villas, or boldly stay at
Rome and oppose the law. Caesar assures him that if he will come over
to them, Caesar will be always true to him and Pompey, and will do his
best to bring Crassus into the same frame of mind. Then he reckons up
all the good things which would accrue to him: "Closest friendship
with Pompey--with Caesar also, should he wish it; the making up of all
quarrels with his enemies; popularity with the people; ease for his
old age, which was coming on him. But that conclusion moves me to
which I came in my third book."[238] Then he repeats the lines given
in the note below, which he had written, probably this very year, in
a poem composed in honor of his own Consulship. The lines are not in
themselves grand, but the spirit of them is magnificent: "Stick to the
good cause which in your early youth you chose for yourself, and be
true to the party you have made your own." "Should I doubt when
the muse herself has so written," he says, alluding to the name of
Calliope, given to this third book of his. Then he adds a line of
Homer, very excellent for the occasion: "No augury for the future can
be better for you than that which bids you serve your country."
"But," he says, "we will talk of all that when you come to me for the
holidays. Your bath shall be ready for you: your sister and mother
shall be of the party." And so the doubts are settled.

Now came on the question of the Tribuneship of Clodius, in reference
to which I will quote a passage out of Middleton, because the phrase
which he uses exactly explains the purposes of Caesar and Pompey.

[Sidenote: B.C. 60, aetat. 47.]

"Clodius, who had been contriving all this while how to revenge
himself on Cicero, began now to give an opening to the scheme which
he had formed for that purpose. His project was to get himself chosen
Tribune, and in that office to drive him out of the city, by the
publication of a law which, by some stratagem or other, he hoped to
obtrude on the people. But as all Patricians were incapable of the
Tribunate, by its original institution so his first step was to make
himself a Plebeian by the pretence of an adoption into a Plebeian
house, which could not yet be done without the suffrage of the people.
This case was wholly new, and contrary to all the forms--wanting every
condition, and serving none of the ends which were required in regular
adoptions--so that, on the first proposal, it seemed too extravagant
to be treated seriously, and would soon have been hissed off with
scorn, had it not been concerted and privately supported by persons
of much more weight than Clodius. Caesar was at the bottom of it, and
Pompey secretly favored it--not that they intended to ruin Cicero, but
to keep him only under the lash--and if they could not draw him into
their measures, to make him at least sit quiet, and let Clodius loose
upon him."[239]

This, no doubt, was the intention of the political leaders in Rome
at this conjunction of affairs. It had been found impossible to draw
Cicero gently into the net, so that he should become one of them. If
he would live quietly at his Antian or Tusculan villa, amid his books
and writings, he should be treated with all respect; he should be
borne with, even though he talked so much of his own Consulate. But if
he would interfere with the politics of the day, and would not come
into the net, then he must be dealt with. Caesar seems to have
respected Cicero always, and even to have liked him; but he was not
minded to put up with a "friend" in Rome who from day to day abused
all his projects. In defending Antony, the Macedonian Proconsul
who was condemned, Cicero made some unpleasant remarks on the then
condition of things. Caesar, we are told, when he heard of this,
on the very spur of the moment, caused Clodius to be accepted as a

In all this we are reminded of the absolute truth of Mommsen's verdict
on Rome, which I have already quoted more than once: "On the Roman
oligarchy of this period no judgment can be passed, save one of
inexorable and remorseless condemnation." How had it come to pass
that Caesar had the power of suddenly causing an edict to become law,
whether for good or for evil? Cicero's description of what took place
is as follows:[240]

"About the sixth hour of the day, when I was defending my colleague
Antony in court, I took occasion to complain of certain things which
were being done in the Republic, and which I thought to be injurious
to my poor client. Some dishonest persons carried my words to men in
power"--meaning Caesar and Pompey--"not, indeed, my own words, but
words very different from mine. At the ninth hour on that very same
day, you, Clodius, were accepted as a Plebeian." Caesar, having been
given to understand that Cicero had been making himself disagreeable,
was determined not to put up with it. Suetonius tells the same story
with admirable simplicity. Of Suetonius it must be said that, if he
had no sympathy for a patriot such as Cicero, neither had he any
desire to represent in rosy colors the despotism of a Caesar. He
tells his stories simply as he has heard them. "Cicero," says
Suetonius,[241] "having at some trial complained of the state of the
times, Caesar, on the very same day, at the ninth hour, passed Clodius
over from the Patrician to the Plebeian rank, in accordance with his
own desire." How did it come to pass that Caesar, who, though Consul
at the time, had no recognized power of that nature, was efficacious
for any such work as this? Because the Republic had come to the
condition which the German historian has described. The conspiracy
between Caesar and his subordinates had not been made for nothing.
The reader will require to know why Clodius should have desired
degradation, and how it came to pass that this degradation should have
been fatal to Cicero. The story has been partly told in the passage
from Middleton. A Patrician, in accordance with the constitution,
could not be a Tribune of the people. From the commencement of the
Tribunate, that office had been reserved for the Plebeians. But a
Tribune had a power of introducing laws which exceeded that of any
Senator or any other official. "They had acquired the right," we
are told in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, "of
proposing to the comitia tributa, or to the Senate, measures on nearly
all the important affairs of the State;" and as matters stood at
this time, no one Tribune could "veto" or put an arbitrary stop to
a proposition from another. When such proposition was made, it was
simply for the people to decide by their votes whether it should or
should not be law. The present object was to have a proposition made
and carried suddenly, in reference to Cicero, which should have, at
any rate, the effect of stopping his mouth. This could be best done by
a Tribune of the people. No other adequate Tribune could be found--no
Plebeian so incensed against Cicero as to be willing to do this,
possessing at the same time power enough to be elected. Therefore it
was that Clodius was so anxious to be degraded.

No Patrician could become a Tribune of the people; but a Patrician
might be adopted by a Plebeian, and the adopted child would take the
rank of his father--would, in fact, for all legal purposes, be the
same as a son. For doing this in any case a law had to be passed--or,
in other words, the assent of the people must be obtained and
registered. But many conditions were necessary. The father intending
to adopt must have no living son of his own, and must be past the time
of life at which he might naturally hope to have one; and the adopted
son must be of a fitting age to personate a son--at any rate, must
be younger than the father; nothing must be done injurious to either
family; there must be no trick in it, no looking after other result
than that plainly intended. All these conditions were broken. The
pretended father, Fonteius, had a family of his own, and was younger
than Clodius. The great Claudian family was desecrated, and there was
no one so ignorant as not to know that the purpose intended was that
of entering the Tribunate by a fraud. It was required by the general
law that the Sacred College should report as to the proper observances
of the prescribed regulations, but no priest was ever consulted. Yet
Clodius was adopted, made a Plebeian, and in the course of the year
elected as Tribune.

In reading all this, the reader is mainly struck by the wonderful
admixture of lawlessness and law-abiding steadfastness. If Caesar, who
was already becoming a tyrant in his Consulship, chose to make use
of this means of silencing Cicero, why not force Clodius into the
Tribunate without so false and degrading a ceremony? But if, as was no
doubt the case, he was not yet strong enough to ignore the old popular
feelings on the subject, how was it that he was able to laugh in his
sleeve at the laws, and to come forth at a moment's notice and cause
the people to vote, legally or illegally, just as he pleased? It
requires no conjurer to tell us the reason. The outside hulls and
husks remain when the rich fruit has gone. It was in seeing this, and
yet not quite believing that it must be so, that the agony of Cicero's
life consisted. There could have been no hope for freedom, no hope
for the Republic, when Rome had been governed as it was during the
Consulship of Caesar; but Cicero could still hope, though faintly, and
still buoy himself up with remembrances of his own year of office.

In carrying on the story of the newly-adopted child to his election
as Tribune, I have gone beyond the time of my narration, so that the
reader may understand the cause and nature and effect of the anger
which Clodius entertained for Cicero. This originated in the bitter
words spoken as to the profanation of the Bona Dea, and led to the
means for achieving Cicero's exile and other untoward passages of
his life. In the year 60 B.C., when Metellus Celer and Afranius were
Consuls, Clodius was tried for insulting the Bona Dea, and the since
so-called Triumvirate was instituted. It has already been shown that
Cicero, not without many doubts, rejected the first offers which were
made to him to join the forces that were so united. He seems to have
passed the greater portion of this year in Rome. One letter only was
written from the country, to Atticus, from his Tusculan villa, and
that is of no special moment. He spent his time in the city, still
engaged in the politics of the day; as to which, though he dreaded
the coming together of Caesar and Pompey and Crassus--those "graves
principum amicitias" which were to become so detrimental to all who
were concerned in them--he foresaw as yet but little of the evil
which was to fall upon his own head. He was by no means idle as to
literature, though we have but little of what he wrote, and do not
regret what we have lost. He composed a memoir of his Consulate in
Greek, which he sent to Atticus with an allusion to his own use of the
foreign language intended to show that he is quite at ease in that
matter. Atticus had sent him a memoir, also written in Greek, on the
same subject, and the two packets had crossed each other on the road.
He candidly tells Atticus that his attempt seems to be "horridula
atque incompta," rough and unpolished; whereas Posidonius, the great
Greek critic of Rhodes who had been invited by him, Cicero, to read
the memoir, and then himself to treat the same subject, had replied
that he was altogether debarred from such an attempt by the excellence
of his correspondent's performance.[242] He also wrote three books of
a poem on his Consulate, and sent them to Atticus; of which we have a
fragment of seventy-five lines quoted by himself,[243] and four or
five other lines including that unfortunate verse handed down by
Quintilian, "O fortunatum natam me consule Romam"--unless, indeed,
it be spurious, as is suggested by that excellent critic and whole-
hearted friend of the orator's, M. Gueroult. Previous to these he had
produced in hexameters, also, a translation of the Prognostics of Aratus.
This is the second part of a poem on the heavenly bodies, the first part,
the Phaenomena, having been turned into Latin verse by him when he was
eighteen. Of the Prognostics we have only a few lines preserved by
Priscian, and a passage repeated by the author, also in his De
Divinatione. I think that Cicero was capable of producing a poem quite
worthy of preservation; but in the work of this year the subjects chosen
were not alluring.

[Sidenote: B.C. 60, aetat. 47.]

Among his epistles of the year there is one which might of itself have
sufficed to bring down his name to posterity. This is a long letter,
full of advice, to his brother Quintus, who had gone out in the
previous year to govern the province of Asia as Propraetor. We may say
that good advice could never have been more wanted, and that better
advice could not have been given. It has been suggested that it was
written as a companion to that treatise on the duties of a candidate
which Quintus composed for his brother's service when standing for his
Consulship. But I cannot admit the analogy. The composition attributed
to Quintus contained lessons of advice equally suitable to any
candidate, sprung from the people, striving to rise to high honors in
the State. This letter is adapted not only to the special position of
Quintus, but to the peculiarities of his character, and its strength
lies in this: that while the one brother praises the other justly
praises him, as I believe, for many virtues, so as to make the receipt
of it acceptable, it points out faults--faults which will become
fatal, if not amended--in language which is not only strong but

The style of this letter is undoubtedly very different from that of
Cicero's letters generally--so as to suggest to the reader that it
must have been composed expressly for publication whereas the daily
correspondence is written "currente calamo," with no other than the
immediate idea of amusing, instructing, or perhaps comforting the
correspondent. Hence has come the comparison between this and the
treatise De Petitione Consulatus. I think that the gravity of the
occasion, rather than any regard for posterity, produced the change of
style. Cicero found it to be essential to induce his brother to remain
at his post, not to throw up his government in disgust, and so to bear
himself that he should not make himself absolutely odious to his own
staff and to other Romans around him; for Quintus Cicero, though he
had been proud and arrogant and ill tempered, had not made himself
notorious by the ordinary Roman propensity to plunder his province
"What is it that is required of you as a governor?"[244] asks Cicero.
"That men should not be frightened by your journeys hither and
thither--that they should not be eaten up by your extravagance--that
they should not be disturbed by your coming among them--that there
should be joy at your approach; when each city should think that its
guardian angel, not a cruel master, had come upon it--when each house
should feel that it entertained not a robber but a friend. Practice
has made you perfect in this. But it is not enough that you should
exercise those good offices yourself, but that you should take care
that every one of those who come with you should seem to do his best
for the inhabitants of the province, for the citizen of Rome, and for
the Republic." I wish that I could give the letter entire--both in
English, that all readers might know how grand are the precepts
taught, and in Latin, that they who understand the language might
appreciate the beauty of the words--but I do not dare to fill my pages
at such length. A little farther on he gives his idea of the duty of
all those who have power over others--even over the dumb animals.[245]
"To me it seems that the duty of those in authority over others
consists in making those who are under them as happy as the nature
of things will allow. Every one knows that you have acted on this
principle since you first went to Asia." This, I fear, must be taken
as flattery, intended to gild the pill which comes afterward "This is
not only his duty who has under him allies and citizens, but is also
that of the man who has slaves under his control, and even dumb
cattle, that he should study the welfare of all over whom he stands
in the position of master!" Let the reader look into this, and ask
himself what precepts of Christianity have ever surpassed it.

Then he points out that which he describes as the one great difficulty
in the career of a Roman Provincial Governor.[246] The collectors of
taxes, or "publicani," were of the equestrian order. This business of
farming the taxes had been their rich privilege for at any rate more
than a century, and as Cicero says, farther on in his letter, it was
impossible not to know with what hardship the Greek allies would be
treated by them when so many stories were current of their
cruelty even in Italy. Were Quintus to take a part against these
tax-gatherers, he would make them hostile not only to the Republic but
to himself also, and also to his brother Marcus; for they were of the
equestrian order, and specially connected with these "publicani" by
family ties. He implies, as he goes on, that it will be easier to
teach the Greeks to be submissive than the tax-gatherers to be
moderate. After all, where would the Greeks of Asia be if they had no
Roman master to afford them protection? He leaves the matter in the
hands of his brother, with advice that he should do the best he can
on one side and on the other. If possible, let the greed of the
"publicani" be restrained; but let the ally be taught to understand
that there may be usage in the world worse even than Roman taxation.
It would be hardly worth our while to allude to this part of Cicero's
advice, did it not give an insight into the mode in which Rome taxed
her subject people.

After this he commences that portion of the letter for the sake of
which we cannot but believe that the whole was written. "There is one
thing," he says, "which I will never cease to din into your ears,
because I could not endure to think that, amid the praises which are
lavished on you, there should be any matter in which you should be
found wanting. All who come to us here"--all who come to Rome from
Asia, that is--"when they tell us of your honesty and goodness of
heart, tell us also that you fail in temper. It is a vice which, in
the daily affairs of private life, betokens a weak and unmanly spirit;
but there can be nothing so poor as the exhibition of the littleness
of nature in those who have risen to the dignity of command." He will
not, he goes on to say, trouble his brother with repeating all that
the wise men have said on the subject of anger; he is sure that
Quintus is well acquainted with all that. But is it not a pity, when
all men say that nothing could be pleasanter than Quintus Cicero
when in a good-humor, the same Quintus should allow himself to be so
provoked that his want of kindly manners should be regretted by all
around him? "I cannot assert," he goes on to say, "that when nature
has produced a certain condition of mind, and that years as they run
on have strengthened it, a man can change all that and pluck out from
his very self the habits that have grown within him; yet I must tell
you that if you cannot eschew this evil altogether--if you cannot
protect yourself against the feeling of anger, yet you should prepare
yourself to be ready for it when it comes, so that, when your very
soul within you is hot with it, your tongue, at any rate, may be
restrained." Then toward the end of the letter there is a fraternal
exhortation which is surely very fine: "Since chance has thrown into
my way the duties of official life in Rome, and into yours that of
administrating provincial government, if I, in the performance of my
work, have been second to none, do you see that you in yours may be
equally efficient." How grand, from an elder brother to a younger!
"And remember this, that you and I have not to strive after some
excellence still unattained, but have to be on our watch to guard
that which has been already won. If I should find myself in anything
divided from you, I should desire no further advance in life. Unless
your deeds and your words go on all-fours with mine, I should feel
that I had achieved nothing by all the work and all the dangers which
you and I have encountered together." The brother at last was found to
be a poor, envious, ill-conditioned creature--intellectually gifted,
and capable of borrowing something from his brother's nobler nature;
but when struggles came, and political feuds, and the need of looking
about to see on which side safety lay, ready to sacrifice his brother
for the sake of safety. But up to this time Marcus was prepared to
believe all good of Quintus; and having made for himself and for the
family a great name, was desirous of sharing it with his brother, and,
as we shall afterward see, with his brother's son, and with his own.
In this he failed. He lived to know that he had failed as regarded his
brother and his nephew. It was not, however, added to his misery to
live to learn how little his son was to do to maintain the honor of
his family.

I find a note scribbled by myself some years ago in a volume in which
I had read this epistle, "Probably the most beautiful letter ever
written." Reading it again subsequently, I added another note, "The
language altogether different from that of his ordinary letters." I
do not dissent now either from the enthusiastic praise or the more
careful criticism. The letter was from the man's heart--true,
affectionate, and full of anxious, brotherly duty--but written in
studied language, befitting, as Cicero thought, the need and the
dignity of the occasion.

[Sidenote: B C 59, aetat. 48.]

The year following was that of Caesar's first Consulship, which he
held in conjunction with Bibulus, a man who was altogether opposed to
him in thought, in character, and in action. So hostile were these two
great officers to each other that the one attempted to undo whatever
the other did. Bibulus was elected by bribery, on behalf of the
Senate, in order that he might be a counterpoise to Caesar. But Caesar
now was not only Caesar: he was Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus united,
with all their dependents, all their clients, all their greedy
hangers-on. To give this compact something of the strength of family
union, Pompey, who was now nearly fifty years of age, took in marriage
Caesar's daughter Julia, who was a quarter of a century his junior.
But Pompey was a man who could endear himself to women, and the
opinion seems to be general that had not Julia died in childbirth
the friendship between the men would have been more lasting. But for
Caesar's purposes the duration of this year and the next was enough.
Bibulus was a laughing-stock, the mere shadow of a Consul, when
opposed to such an enemy. He tried to use all the old forms of the
Republic with the object of stopping Caesar in his career; but Caesar
only ridiculed him; and Pompey, though we can imagine that he did not
laugh much, did as Caesar would have him. Bibulus was an augur, and
observed the heavens when political manoeuvres were going on which he
wished to stop. This was the old Roman system for using religion as a
drag upon progressive movements. No work of state could be carried on
if the heavens were declared to be unpropitious; and an augur could
always say that the heavens were unpropitious if he pleased. This was
the recognized constitutional mode of obstruction, and was quite in
accord with the feelings of the people. Pompey alone, or Crassus with
him, would certainly have submitted to an augur; but Caesar was above
augurs. Whatever he chose to have carried he carried, with what
approach he could to constitutional usage, but with whatever departure
from constitutional usage he found to be necessary.

What was the condition of the people of Rome at the time it is
difficult to learn from the conflicting statements of historians. That
Cicero had till lately been popular we know. We are told that Bibulus
was popular when he opposed Caesar. Of personal popularity up to this
time I doubt whether Caesar had achieved much. Yet we learn that,
when Bibulus with Cato and Lucullus endeavored to carry out their
constitutional threats, they were dragged and knocked about, and one
of them nearly killed. Of the illegality of Caesar's proceedings
there can be no doubt. "The tribunitian veto was interposed; Caesar
contented himself with disregarding it."[247] This is quoted from the
German historian, who intends to leave an impression that Caesar
was great and wise in all that he did; and who tells us also of the
"obstinate, weak creature Bibulus," and of "the dogmatical fool Cato."
I doubt whether there was anything of true popular ferment, or that
there was any commotion except that which was made by the "roughs" who
had attached themselves for pay to Caesar or to Pompey, or to Crassus,
or, as it might be, to Bibulus and the other leaders. The violence did
not amount to more than "nearly" killing this man or the other. Some
Roman street fights were no doubt more bloody--as for instance that in
which, seven years afterward, Clodius was slaughtered by Milo--but the
blood was made to flow, not by the people, but by hired bravoes. The
Roman citizens of the day were, I think, very quiescent. Neither pride
nor misery stirred them much. Caesar, perceiving this, was aware that
he might disregard Bibulus and his auguries so long as he had a band
of ruffians around him sufficient for the purposes of the hour. It was
in order that he might thus prevail that the coalition had been made
with Pompey and Crassus. His colleague Bibulus, seeing how matters
were going, retired to his own house, and there went through a farce
of consular enactments. Caesar carried all his purposes, and the
people were content to laugh, dividing him into two personages, and
talking of Julius and Caesar as the two Consuls of the year. It was
in this way that he procured to be allotted to him by the people his
irregular command in Gaul. He was to be Proconsul, not for one year,
with perhaps a prolongation for two or three, but for an established
period of five. He was to have the great province of Cisalpine
Gaul--that is to say, the whole of what we now call Italy, from the
foot of the Alps down to a line running from sea to sea just north of
Florence. To this Transalpine Gaul was afterward added. The province
so named, possessed at the time by the Romans, was called "Narbonensis",
a country comparatively insignificant, running from the Alps to the
Pyrenees along the Mediterranean. The Gaul or Gallia of which Caesar
speaks when, in the opening words of his Commentary, he tells us that
it was divided into three parts, was altogether beyond the Roman
province which was assigned to him. Caesar, when he undertook his
government, can hardly have dreamed of subjecting to Roman rule the
vast territories which were then known as Gallia, beyond the frontiers
of the Empire, and which we now call France.

But he caused himself to be supported by an enormous army. There were
stationed three legions on the Italian side of the Alps, and one on
the other. These were all to be under his command for five years
certain, and amounted to a force of not less than thirty thousand men.
"As no troops could constitutionally be stationed in Italy proper, the
commander of the legions of Northern Italy and Gaul," says Mommsen,
"dominated at the same time Italy and Rome for the next five years;
and he who was master for five years was master for life."[248]

[Sidenote: B.C. 59, aetat. 48.]

Such was the condition of Rome during the second year of the
Triumvirate, in which Caesar was Consul and prepared the way for the
powers which he afterward exercised. Cicero would not come to his
call; and therefore, as we are told, Clodius was let loose upon him.
As he would not come to Caesar's call, it was necessary that he
should he suppressed, and Clodius, notwithstanding all constitutional
difficulties--nay, impossibilities--was made Tribune of the people.
Things had now so far advanced with a Caesar that a Cicero who would
not come to his call must be disposed of after some fashion.

Till we have thought much of it, often of it, till we have looked
thoroughly into it, we find ourselves tempted to marvel at Cicero's
blindness. Surely a man so gifted must have known enough of the state
of Rome to have been aware that there was no room left for one honest,
patriotic, constitutional politician. Was it not plain to him that if,
"natus ad justitiam," he could not bring himself to serve with those
who were intent on discarding the Republic, he had better retire
among his books, his busts, and his literary luxuries, and leave the
government of the country to those who understood its people? And
we are the more prone to say and to think all this because the man
himself continually said it, and continually thought it. In one of the
letters written early in the year[249] to Atticus from his villa at
Antium he declares very plainly how it is with him; and this, too, in
a letter written in good-humor, not in a despondent frame of mind,
in which he is able pleasantly to ridicule his enemy Clodius, who it
seems had expressed a wish to go on an embassy to Tigranes, King of
Armenia. "Do not think," he says, "that I am complaining of all this
because I myself am desirous of being engaged in public affairs. Even
while it was mine to sit at the helm I was tired of the work; but now,
when I am in truth driven out of the ship, when the rudder has not
been thrown down but seized out of my hands, how should I take a
pleasure in looking from the shore at the wrecks which these other
pilots have made?" But the study of human nature tells us, and all
experience, that men are unable to fathom their own desires, and fail
to govern themselves by the wisdom which is at their fingers' ends.
The retiring Prime-minister cannot but hanker after the seals and the
ribbons and the titles of office, even though his soul be able to rise
above considerations of emolument, and there will creep into a man's
mind an idea that, though reform of abuses from other sources may be
impossible, if he were there once more the evil could at least be
mitigated, might possibly be cured. So it was during this period of
his life with Cicero. He did believe that political justice exercised
by himself, with such assistance as his eloquence would obtain for it,
might be efficacious for preserving the Republic, in spite of Caesar,
and of Pompey, and of Crassus. He did not yet believe that these men
would consent to such an outrage as his banishment. It must have been
incredible to him that Pompey should assent to it. When the blow came,
it crushed him for the time. But he retricked his beams and struggled
on to the end, as we shall see if we follow his life to the close.

Such was the intended purpose of the degradation of Clodius. This,
however, was not at once declared. It was said that Clodius as Tribune
intended rather to oppose Caesar than to assist him. He at any rate
chose that Cicero should so believe and sent Curio, a young man to
whom Cicero was attached to visit the orator at his villa at Antium
and to declare these friendly purposes. According to the story told by
Cicero,[250] Clodius was prepared to oppose the Triumvirate; and the
other young men of Rome, the _jeunesse doree_, of which both Curio
and Clodius were members, were said to be equally hostile to Caesar,
Pompey, and Crassus, whose doings in opposition to the constitution
were already evident enough; so that it suited Cicero to believe that
the rising aristocracy of Rome would oppose them. But the aristocracy
of Rome, whether old or young, cared for nothing but its fish-ponds
and its amusements.

Cicero spent the earlier part of the year out of Rome, among his
various villas--at Tusculanum, at Antium, and at Formiae. The purport
of all his letters at this period is the same--to complain of the
condition of the Republic, and especially of the treachery of his
friend Pompey. Though there be much of despondency in his tone, there
is enough also of high spirit to make us feel that his literary
aspirations are not out of place, though mingled with his political
wailing. The time will soon come when his trust even in literature
will fail him for a while.

Early in the year he declares that he would like to accept a mission
to Egypt, offered to him by Caesar and Pompey, partly in order that he
might for a while be quit of Rome, and partly that Romans might feel
how ill they could do without him. He then uses for the first time, as
far as I am aware, a line from the Iliad,[251] which is repeated by
him again and again, in part or in whole, to signify the restraint
which is placed on him by his own high character among his
fellow-citizens. "I would go to Egypt on this pleasant excursion, but
that I fear what the men of Troy, and the Trojan women, with their
wide-sweeping robes, would say of me." And what, he asks, would the
men of our party, "the optimates," say? and what would Cato say, whose
opinion is more to me than that of them all? And how would history
tell the story in future ages? But he would like to go to Egypt, and
he will wait and see. Then, after various questions to Atticus, comes
that great one as to the augurship, of which so much has been made by
Cicero's enemies, "quo quidem uno ego ab istis capi possim." A few
lines above he had been speaking of another lure, that of the mission
to Egypt. He discusses that with his friend, and then goes on in his
half-joking phrase, "but this would have been the real thing to catch
me." Nothing caught him. He was steadfast all through, accepting no
offer of place from the conspirators by which his integrity or his
honor could be soiled. That it was so was well known to history in
the time of Quintilian, whose testimony as to the "repudiatus
vigintiviratus"--his refusal of a place among the twenty
commissioners--has been already quoted.[252] And yet biographers have
written of him as of one willing to sell his honor, his opinions, and
the commonwealth, for a "pitiful bribe;" not that he did do so, not
that he attempted to do it, but because in a half-joking letter to the
friend of his bosom he tells his friend which way his tastes lay![253]

He had been thinking of writing a book on geography, and consulted
Atticus on the subject; but in one of his letters he tells his friend
that he had abandoned the idea. The subject was too dull; and if he
took one side in a dispute that was existing, he would be sure to fall
under the lash of the critics on the other. He is enjoying his leisure
at Antium, and thinks it a much better place than Rome. If the weather
will not let him catch fish, at any late he can count the waves.
In all these letters Cicero asks questions about his money and his
private affairs; about the mending of a wall, perhaps, and adds
something about his wife or daughter or son. He is going from Antium
to Formiae, but must return to Antium by a certain date because Tullia
wants to see the games.

Then again he alludes to Clodius. Pompey had made a compact with
Clodius--so at least Cicero had heard--that he, Clodius, if elected
for the Tribunate, would do nothing to injure Cicero. The assurance
of such a compact had no doubt been spread about for the quieting
of Cicero; but no such compact had been intended to be kept, unless
Cicero would be amenable, would take some of the good things offered
to him, or at any rate hold his peace. But Cicero affects to hope that
no such agreement may be kept. He is always nicknaming Pompey, who
during his Eastern campaign had taken Jerusalem, and who now parodies
the Africanus, the Asiaticus, and the Macedonicus of the Scipios and
Metelluses. "If that Hierosolymarian candidate for popularity does not
keep his word with me, I shall be delighted. If that be his return
for my speeches on his behalf"--the Anteponatur omnibus Pompeius, for
instance--"I will play him such a turn of another kind that he shall
remember it"[254]

He begins to know what the "Triumvirate" is doing with the Republic,
but has not yet brought himself to suspect the blow that is to fall on
himself. "They are going along very gayly," he says, "and do not make
as much noise as one would have expected."[255] If Cato had been
more on the alert, things would not have gone so quickly; but the
dishonesty of others, who have allowed all the laws to be ignored, has
been worse than Cato. If we used to feel that the Senate took too much
on itself, what shall we say when that power has been transferred, not
to the people, but to three utterly unscrupulous men? "They can make
whom they will Consuls, whom they will Tribunes--so that they may
hide the very goitre of Vatinius under a priest's robe." For himself,
Cicero says, he will be contented to remain with his books, if only
Cledius will allow him; if not, he will defend himself.[256] As for
his country, he has done more for his country than has even been
desired of him; and he thinks it to be better to leave the helm in
the hands of pilots, however incompetent, than himself to steer when
passengers are so thankless. Then we find that he robs poor Tullia of
her promised pleasure at the games, because it will be beneath his
dignity to appear at them. He is always very anxious for his friend's
letters, depending on them for news and for amusement. "My messenger
will return at once," he says, in one; "therefore, though you are
coming yourself very soon, send me a heavy letter, full not only of
news but of your own ideas."[257] In another: "Cicero the Little sends
greeting," he says, in Greek, "to Titus the Athenian"--that is, to
Titus Pomponius Atticus. The Greek letters were probably traced by the
child at his father's knee as Cicero held the pen or the stylus. In
another letter he declares that there, at Formiae, Pompey's name of
Magnus is no more esteemed than that of Dives belonging to Crassus. In
the next he calls Pompey Sampsiceramus. We learn from Josephus that
there was a lady afterward in the East in the time of Vitellius, who
was daughter of Sampsigeramus, King of the Emesi. It might probably be
a royal family name.[258]

In choosing the absurd title, he is again laughing at his party
leader. Pompey had probably boasted of his doings with the
Sampsiceramus of the day and the priests of Jerusalem. "When this
Sampsiceramus of ours finds how ill he is spoken of, he will rush
headlong into revolution." He complains that he can do nothing
at Formiae because of the visitors. No English poet was ever so
interviewed by American admirers. They came at all hours, in numbers
sufficient to fill a temple, let alone a gentleman's house. How can
he write anything requiring leisure in such a condition as this?
Nevertheless he will attempt something. He goes on criticising all
that is done in Rome, especially what is done by Pompey, who no doubt
was vacillating sadly between Caesar, to whom he was bound, and
Bibulus, the other Consul, to whom he ought to have been bound, as
being naturally on the aristocratic side. He cannot for a moment keep
his pen from public matters; nor, on the other hand, can he refrain
from declaring that he will apply himself wholly, undividedly, to
his literature. "Therefore, oh my Titus, let me settle down to these
glorious occupations, and return to that which, if I had been wise, I
never should have left."[259] A day or two afterward, writing from the
same place, he asks what Arabarches is saying of him. Arabarches is
another name for Pompey--this Arabian chieftain.

In the early summer of this year Cicero returned to Rome, probably
in time to see Atticus, who was then about to leave the city for his
estates in Epirus. We have a letter written by him to his friend on
the journey, telling us that Caesar had made him two distinct offers,
evidently with the view of getting rid of him, but in such a manner as
would be gratifying to Cicero himself.[260] Caesar asks him to go
with him to Gaul as his lieutenant, or, if that will not suit him, to
accept a "free legation for the sake of paying a vow." This latter was
a kind of job by which Roman Senators got themselves sent forth on
their private travels with all the appanages of a Senator travelling
on public business. We have his argument as to both. Elsewhere he
objects to a "libera legatio" as being a job.[261]

Here he only points out that, though it enforce his absence from Rome
at a time disagreeable to him--just when his brother Quintus would
return--it would not give him the protection which he needs. Though
he were travelling about the world as a Senator on some pretended
embassy, he would still be open to the attacks of Clodius. He would
necessarily be absent, or he would not be in enjoyment of his
privilege, but by his very absence he would find his position
weakened; whereas, as Caesar's appointed lieutenant, he need not leave
the city at once, and in that position he would be quite safe against
all that Clodius or other enemies could do to him.[262]

No indictment could be made against a Roman while he was in the
employment of the State. It must be remembered, too, on judging of
these overtures, that both the one and the other--and indeed all the
offers then made to him--were deemed to be highly honorable, as
Rome then existed. "The free legation"--the "libera legatio voti
causa"--had no reference to parties. It was a job, no doubt, and, in
the hands of the ordinary Roman aristocrat, likely to be very onerous
to the provincials among whom the privileged Senator might travel; but
it entailed no party adhesion. In this case it was intended only to
guarantee the absence of a man who might be troublesome in Rome. The
other was the offer of genuine work in which politics were not at
all concerned. Such a position was accepted by Quintus, our Cicero's
brother, and in performance of the duties which fell to him he
incurred terrible danger, having been nearly destroyed by the Gauls
in his winter quarters among the Nervii. Labienus, who was Caesar's
right-hand man in Gaul, was of the same politics as Cicero--so much so
that when Caesar rebelled against the Republic, Labienus, true to
the Republic, would no longer fight on Caesar's side. It was open to
Cicero, without disloyalty, to accept the offer made to him; but
with an insight into what was coming, of which he himself was hardly
conscious, he could not bring himself to accept offers which in
themselves were alluring, but which would seem in future times to have
implied on his part an assent to the breaking up of the Republic.
[Greek: Aideomai Troas kai Troadas elkesipeplous.] What will be said
of me in history by my citizens if I now do simply that which may best
suit my own happiness? Had he done so, Pliny and the others would not
have spoken of him as they have spoken, and it would not have been
worth the while of modern lovers of Caesarism to write books against
the one patriot of his age.

During the remainder of this year, B.C. 59, Cicero was at Rome, and
seems gradually to have become aware that a personal attack was to be
made upon him. At the close of a long and remarkable letter written
to his brother Quintus in November, he explains the state of his own
mind, showing us, who have now before us the future which was hidden
from him, how greatly mistaken he was as to the results which were to
be expected. He had been telling his brother how nearly Cato had been
murdered for calling Pompey, in public, a Dictator. Then he goes on to
describe his own condition.[263] "You may see from this what is the
state of the Republic. As far as I am concerned, it seems that friends
will not be wanting to defend me. They offer themselves in a wonderful
way, and promise assistance. I feel great hope and still greater
spirit--hope, which tells me that we shall be victors in the struggle;
spirit, which bids me fear no casualty in the present state of public

But the matter stands in this way: "If he"--that is, Clodius--"should
indict me in court, all Italy would come to my defence, so that
I should be acquitted with honor. Should he attack me with open
violence, I should have, I think, not only my own party but the world
at large to stand by me. All men promise me their friends, their
clients, their freedmen, their slaves, and even their money. Our old
body of aristocrats"--Cato, Bibulus, and the makers of fish-ponds
generally--"are wonderfully warm in my cause. If any of these have
heretofore been remiss, now they join our party from sheer hatred of
these kings"--the Triumvirs. "Pompey promises everything, and so
does Caesar, whom I only trust so far as I can see them." Even the
Triumvirs promise him that he will be safe; but his belief in Pompey's
honesty is all but gone. "The coming Tribunes are my friends. The
Consuls of next year promise well." He was wofully mistaken. "We have
excellent Praetors, citizens alive to their duty. Domitius, Nigidius,
Memmius, and Lentulus are specially trustworthy. The others are good
men. You may therefore pluck up your courage and be confident." From
this we perceive that he had already formed the idea that he might
perhaps be required to fight for his position as a Roman citizen; and
it seems also that he understood the cause of the coming conflict. The
intention was that he should be driven out of Rome by personal enmity.
Nothing is said in any of these letters of the excuse to be used,
though he knew well what that excuse was to be. He was to be charged
by the Patrician Tribune with having put Roman citizens to death in
opposition to the law. But there arises at this time no question
whether he had or had not been justified in what he, as Consul, had
done to Lentulus and the others. Would Clodius be able to rouse a mob
against him? and, if so, would Caesar assist Clodius? or would Pompey
who still loomed to his eyes as the larger of the two men? He had ever
been the friend of Pompey, and Pompey had promised him all manner of
assistance; but he knew already that Pompey would turn upon him.
That Rome should turn upon him--Rome which he had preserved from the
torches of Catiline's conspirators--that he could not bring himself to

We must not pass over this long letter to Quintus without observing
that through it all the evil condition of the younger brother's
mind becomes apparent. The severity of his administration had given
offence. His punishments had been cruel. His letters had been rash,
and his language violent. In short, we gather from the brother's
testimony that Quintus Cicero was very ill-fitted to be the civil
governor of a province.

The only work which we have from Cicero belonging to this year, except
his letters, is the speech, or part of the speech, he made for Lucius
Valerius Flaccus. Flaccus had been Praetor when Cicero was Consul, and
had done good service, in the eyes of his superior officers, in
the matter of the Catiline conspiracy. He had then gone to Asia as
governor, and, after the Roman manner, had fleeced the province. That
this was so there is no doubt. After his return he was accused, was
defended by Cicero, and was acquitted. Macrobius tells us that Cicero,
by the happiness of a bon-mot, brought the accused off safely, though
he was manifestly guilty. He adds also that Cicero took care not to
allow the joke to appear in the published edition of his speech.[265]
There are parts of the speech which have been preserved, and are
sufficiently amusing even to us. He is very hard upon the Greeks of
Asia, the class from which the witnesses against Flaccus were taken.
We know here in England that a spaniel, a wife, and a walnut-tree may
be beaten with advantage. Cicero says that in Asia there is a proverb
that a Phrygian may be improved in the same way. "Fiat experimentum
in corpore vili." It is declared through Asia that you should take
a Carian for your experiment. The "last of the Mysians" is the
well-known Asiatic term for the lowest type of humanity. Look through
all the comedies, you will find the leading slave is a Lydian. Then
he turns to these poor Asiatics, and asks them whether any one can be
expected to think well of them, when such is their own testimony of
themselves! He attacks the Jew, and speaks of the Jewish religion as a
superstition worthy in itself of no consideration. Pompey had spared
the gold in the Temple of Jerusalem, because he thought it wise
to respect the religious prejudices of the people; but the gods
themselves had shown, by subjecting the Jews to the Romans, how little
the gods had regarded these idolatrous worshippers! Such were the
arguments used; and they prevailed with the judges--or jury, we should
rather call them--to whom they were addressed.


[231] We have not Pollio's poem on the conspiracy, but we have Horace's
record of Pollio's poem:

Motum ex Metello consule civicum,
Bellique causas et vitia, et modos,
Ludumque Fortunae, gravesque
Principum amicitias, et arma
Nondum expiatis uncta cruoribus,
Periculosae plenum opus aleae,
Tractas, et incedis per ignes
Suppositos cineri doloso--Odes, lib. ii., 1.

[232] The German index appeared--very much after the original work--as
late as 1875.

[233] Mommsen, lib. v., chap. vi. I cannot admit that Mommsen is
strictly accurate, as Caesar had no real idea of democracy. He desired
to be the Head of the Oligarchs, and, as such, to ingratiate himself
with the people.

[234] For the character of Caesar generally I would refer readers
to Suetonius, whose life of the great man is, to my thinking, more
graphic than any that has been written since. For his anecdotes there
is little or no evidence. His facts are not all historical. His
knowledge was very much less accurate than that of modern writers who
have had the benefit of research and comparison. But there was enough
of history, of biography, and of tradition to enable him to form a
true idea of the man. He himself as a narrator was neither specially
friendly nor specially hostile. He has told what was believed at the
time, and he has drawn a character that agrees perfectly with all that
we have learned since.

[235] By no one has the character and object of the Triumvirate been
so well described as by Lucan, who, bombastic as he is, still manages
to bring home to the reader the ideas as to persons and events which
he wishes to convey. I have ventured to give in an Appendix, E, the
passages referred to, with such a translation in prose as I have been
able to produce. It will be found at the end of this volume.

[236] Plutarch--Crassus: [Greek: kai synestaesen ek ton tron ischyn

[237] Velleius Paterculus, lib ii., 44 "Hoc igitur consule, inter
eum et Cn Pompeium et M. Crassum inita potentiae societas, quae urbi
orbique terrarum, nec minus diverso quoque tempore ipsis exitiabilis
fuit." Suetonius, Julius Caesar, xix., "Societatem cum utroque iniit."
Officers called Triumviri were quite common, as were Quinqueviri and
Decemviri. Livy speaks of a "Triumviratus"--or rather two such offices
exercised by one man--ix., 46. We remember, too, that wretch whom
Horace gibbeted, Epod. iv.: "Sectus flagellis hic triumviralibus." But
the word, though in common use, was not applied to this conspiracy.

[238] Ad Att, lib.ii., 3: "Is affirmabat, illum omnibus in rebus meo
et Pompeii consilio usurum, daturumque operam, ut cum Pompeio Crassum
conjungeret. Hic sunt haec. Conjunctio mihi summa cum Pompeio; si
placet etiam cum Caesare; reditus in gratiam cum inimicis, pax cum
multitudine; senectulis otium. Sed me [Greek: katakleis] mea illa
commovet, quae est in libro iii.

"Interea cursus, quos prima a parte juventae
Quosque adeo consul virtute, animoque petisti,
Hos retine, atque, auge famam laudesque bonorum."

Homer, Iliad, lib.xii., 243: [Greek: Eis oionos aristos amunesthai
peri patraes.]

[239] Middleton's Life of Cicero, vol.i., p. 291.

[240] Pro Domo Sua, xvi. This was an oration, as the reader will soon
learn more at length, in which the orator pleaded for the restoration
of his town mansion after his return from exile. It has, however, been
doubted whether the speech as we have it was ever made by Cicero.

[241] Suetonius, Julius Caesar, xx.

[242] Ad. Att., lib.ii., 1: "Quid quaeris?" says Cicero. "Conturbavi
Graecam nationem"--"I have put all Greece into a flutter."

[243] De Divinatione, lib. i.

[244] Ad Quin. Fratrem, lib.i., 1: "Non itineribus tuis perterreri
homines? non sumptu exhauriri? non adventu commoveri? Esse, quocumque
veneris, et publice et privatim maximam laetitiam; quum urbs custodem
non tyrannum; domus hospitem non expilatorem, recipisse videatur? His
autem in rebus jam te usus ipse profecto crudivit nequaquam satis
esse,ipsum hasce habere virtutis, sed esse circumspiciendum
diligentur, ut in hac custodia provinciae non te unum, sed omnes
ministros imperii tui, sociis, et civibus, et reipublicae praestare

[245] Ad Quin. Fratrem, lib. i., 1: "Ae mihi quidem videntur huc omnia
esse referenda iis qui praesunt aliis; ut ii, qui erunt eorum in
imperio sint quam beatissimi, quod tibi et esse antiquissimum et ab
initio fuisse, ut primum Asiam attigisti, constante fama atque omnium
sermone celebratum est. Est autem non modo ejus, qui sociis et
civibus, sed etiam ejus qui servis, qui mutis pecudibus praesit, eorum
quibus praesit commodis utilitatique servire."

[246] "Haec est una in toto imperio tuo difficultas."

[247] Mommsen, book v., ca.6.

[248] Mommsen, vol.v., ca.vi.

[249] Ad Att., lib.ii., 7: "Atque haec, sin velim existimes, non me
abs te [Greek: _kata to praktikon_] quaerere, quod gestiat animus
aliquid agere in republica. Jam pridem gubernare me taedebat, etiam
quum licebat."

[250] Ad Att., lib.ii., 8: "Seito Curionem adolescentem venisse ad me
salutatum. Valde ejus sermo de Publio cum tuis litteris congruebat,
ipse vero mirandum in modum Reges odisse superbos. Peraeque narrabat
incensam esse juventutem, neque ferre haec posse." The "reges
superbos" were Caesar and Pompey.

[251] Ad Att., lib.ii., 5: [Greek: Aideomai Troas kai Troadase
lkesipeplous].--Il., vi., 442. "I fear what Mrs. Grundy would say of
me," is Mr. Tyrrell's homely version. Cicero's mind soared, I think,
higher when he brought the words of Hector to his service than does
the ordinary reference to our old familiar critic.

[252] Quint., xii., 1.

[253] Enc. Britannica on Cicero.

[254] Ad Att., lib.ii., 9.

[255] Ibid.: "Festive, mihi crede, et minore sonitu, quam putaram,
orbis hic in republica est conversus." "Orbis hic," this round body of
three is the Triumvirate.

[256] We cannot but think of the threat Horace made, Sat., lib.ii., 1:

"At ille
Qui me commorit, melius non tangere! clamo,
Flebit, et insignis tota cantabitur urbe."

[257] Ad Att., lib.ii., 11: "Da ponderosam aliquam epistolam."

[258] Josephus, lib.xviii., ca. 5.

[259] Ad Att., lib.ii., 16.

[260] Ad Att., lib.ii., 18: "A Caesare valde liberaliter invitor in
legationem illam, sibi ut sim legatua; atque etiam libera legatio voti
causa datur."

[261] De Legibus, lib.iii., ca.viii.: "Jam illud apertum prefecto
est nihil esse turpius, quam quenquam legari nisi republica causa."

[262] It may be seen from this how anxious Caesar was to secure his
silence, and yet how determined not to screen him unless he could
secure his silence.

[263] Ad Quintum, lib.i., 2.

[264] Of this last sentence I have taken a translation given by Mr.
Tyrrell, who has introduced a special reading of the original which
the sense seems to justify.

[265] Macrobius, Saturnalia, lib.ii., ca.i.: We are told that Cicero
had been called the consular buffoon. "And I," says Macrobius, "if it
would not be too long, could relate how by his jokes he has brought
off the most guilty criminals." Then he tells the story of Lucius



We now come to that period of Cicero's life in which, by common
consent of all who have hitherto written of him, he is supposed to
have shown himself as least worthy of his high name. Middleton, who
certainly loved his hero's memory and was always anxious to do him
justice, condemns him. "It cannot be denied that in this calamity of
his exile he did not behave himself with that firmness which might
reasonably be expected from one who had borne so glorious a part in
the Republic." Morabin, the French biographer, speaks of the wailings
of his grief, of its injustice and its follies. "Ciceron etait trop
plein de son malheur pour donner entree a de nouvelles esperances," he
says. "Il avait supporte ce malheur avec peu de courage," says another
Frenchman, M. Du Rozoir, in introducing us to the speeches which
Cicero made on his return. Dean Merivale declares that "he marred the
grace of the concession in the eyes of posterity"--alluding to the
concession made to popular feeling by his voluntary departure from
Rome, as will hereafter be described--"by the unmanly lamentations
with which he accompanied it." Mommsen, with a want of insight into
character wonderful in an author who has so closely studied the
history of the period, speaks of his exile as a punishment inflicted
on a "man notoriously timid, and belonging to the class of political
weather-cocks." "We now come," says Mr. Forsyth, "to the most
melancholy period of Cicero's life, melancholy not so much from its
nature and the extent of the misfortunes which overtook him, as from
the abject prostration of mind into which he was thrown." Mr. Froude,
as might be expected, uses language stronger than that of others, and
tells us that "he retired to Macedonia to pour out his sorrows and his
resentments in lamentations unworthy of a woman." We have to admit
that modern historians and biographers have been united in accusing
Cicero of want of manliness during his exile. I propose--not, indeed,
to wash the blackamoor white--but to show, if I can, that he was
as white as others might be expected to have been in similar

We are, I think, somewhat proud of the courage shown by public men
of our country who have suffered either justly or unjustly under the
laws. Our annals are bloody, and many such have had to meet their
death. They have done so generally with becoming manliness. Even
though they may have been rebels against the powers of the day, their
memories have been made green because they have fallen like brave men.
Sir Thomas More, who was no rebel, died well, and crowned a good life
by his manner of leaving it. Thomas Cromwell submitted to the axe
without a complaint. Lady Jane Grey, when on the scaffold, yielded
nothing in manliness to the others. Cranmer and the martyr bishops
perished nobly. The Earl of Essex, and Raleigh, and Strafford, and
Strafford's master showed no fear when the fatal moment came. In
reading the fate of each, we sympathize with the victim because of
a certain dignity at the moment of death. But there is, I think, no
crisis of life in which it is so easy for a man to carry himself
honorably as that in which he has to leave it. "Venit summa dies et
ineluctabile tempus." No doubting now can be of avail. No moment is
left for the display of conduct beyond this, which requires only
decorum and a free use of the pulses to become in some degree
glorious. The wretch from the lowest dregs of the people can achieve
it with a halter round his neck. Cicero had that moment also to face;
and when it came he was as brave as the best Englishman of them all.

But of those I have named no one had an Atticus to whom it had been
the privilege of his life to open his very soul, in language so
charming as to make it worth posterity's while to read it, to study
it, to sift it, and to criticise it. Wolsey made many plaints in his
misery, but they have reached us in such forms of grace that they do
not disparage him; but then he too had no Atticus. Shaftesbury and
Bolingbroke were dismissed ministers and doomed to live in exile, the
latter for many years, and felt, no doubt, strongly their removal from
the glare of public life to obscurity. We hear no complaint from them
which can justify some future critic in saying that their wails were
unworthy of a woman; but neither of them was capable of telling an
Atticus the thoughts of his mind as they rose. What other public man
ever had an Atticus to whom, in the sorrows which the ingratitude of
friends had brought upon him, he could disclose every throb of his

I think that we are often at a loss, in our efforts at appreciation
of character, and in the expressions of our opinion respecting it, to
realize the meaning of courage and manliness. That sententious Swedish
Queen, one of whose foolish maxims I have quoted, has said that
Cicero, though a coward, was capable of great actions, because she
did not know what a coward was. To doubt--to tremble with anxiety--to
vacillate hither and thither between this course and the other as to
which may be the better--to complain within one's own breast that this
or that thing has been an injustice--to hesitate within one's self,
not quite knowing which way honor may require us to go--to be
indignant even at fancied wrongs--to rise in wrath against another,
and then, before the hour has passed, to turn that wrath against one's
self--that is not to be a coward. To know what duty requires, and then
to be deterred by fear of results--that is to be a coward; but the man
of many scruples may be the greatest hero of them all. Let the law of
things be declared clearly so that the doubting mind shall no longer
doubt, so that scruples may be laid at rest, so that the sense of
justice may be satisfied--and he of whom I speak shall be ready to
meet the world in arms against him. There are men, very useful in
their way, who shall never doubt at all, but shall be ready, as the
bull is ready, to encounter any obstacles that there may be before
them. I will not say but that for the coarse purposes of the world
they may not be the most efficacious, but I will not admit that they
are therefore the bravest. The bull, who has no imagination to tell
him what the obstacle may do to him, is not brave. He is brave who,
fully understanding the potentiality of the obstacle, shall, for a
sufficient purpose, move against it.

This Cicero always did. He braved the murderous anger of Sulla when,
as a young man, he thought it well to stop the greed of Sulla's
minions. He trusted himself amid the dangers prepared for him, when it
was necessary that with extraordinary speed he should get together the
evidence needed for the prosecution of Verres. He was firm against all
that Catiline attempted for his destruction, and had courage enough for
the responsibility when he thought it expedient to doom the friends of
Catiline to death. In defending Milo, whether the cause were good
or bad, he did not blench.[266] He joined the Republican army in
Macedonia though he distrusted Pompey and his companions. When he
thought that there was a hope for the Republic, he sprung at Antony
with all the courage of a tigress protecting her young; and when all
had failed and was rotten around him, when the Republic had so fallen
that he knew it to be gone--then he was able to give his neck to
the swordsman with all the apparent indifference of life which was
displayed by those countrymen of our own whom I have named.

But why did he write so piteously when he was driven into exile? Why,
at any rate, did he turn upon his chosen friend and scold him, as
though that friend had not done enough for friendship? Why did he talk
of suicide as though by that he might find the easiest way of escape?
I hold it to be natural that a man should wail to himself under a
sense, not simply of misfortune, but of misfortune coming to him
from the injustice of others, and specially from the ingratitude of
friends. Afflictions which come to us from natural causes, such as
sickness and physical pain, or from some chance such as the loss of
our money by the breaking of a bank, an heroic man will bear without
even inward complainings. But a sense of wrong done to him by friends
will stir him, not by the misery inflicted, but because of the
injustice; and that which he says to himself he will say to his wife,
if his wife be to him a second self, or to his friend, if he have one
so dear to him. The testimony by which the writers I have named have
been led to treat Cicero so severely has been found in the letters
which he wrote during his exile; and of these letters all but one were
addressed either to Atticus or to his wife or to his brother.[267]
Twenty-seven of them were to Atticus. Before he accepted a voluntary
exile, as the best solution of the difficulty in which he was
placed--for it was voluntary at first, as will be seen--he applied to
the Consul Piso for aid, and for the same purpose visited Pompey.
So far he was a suppliant, but this he did in conformity with Roman
usage. In asking favor of a man in power there was held to be no
disgrace, even though the favor asked were one improper to be granted,
which was not the case with Cicero. And he went about the Forum in
mourning--"sordidatus"--as was the custom with men on their trial. We
cannot doubt that in each of these cases he acted with the advice of
his friends. His conduct and his words after his return from exile
betray exultation rather than despondency.

It is from the letters which he wrote to Atticus that he has been
judged--from words boiling with indignation that such a one as he
should have been surrendered by the Rome that he had saved, by those
friends to whom he had been so true to be trampled on by such a one as
Clodius! When a man has written words intended for the public ear, it
is fair that he should bear the brunt of them, be it what it may. He
has intended them for public effect, and if they are used against him
he should not complain. But here the secret murmurings of the man's
soul were sent forth to his choicest friend, with no idea that from
them would he be judged by the "historians to come in 600 years,"[268]
of whose good word he thought so much. "Quid vero historiae de nobis
ad annos DC praedicarint!" he says, to Atticus. How is it that from
them, after 2000 years, the Merivales, Mommsens, and Froudes condemn
their great brother in letters whose lightest utterances have been
found worthy of so long a life! Is there not an injustice in falling
upon a man's private words, words when written intended only for
privacy, and making them the basis of an accusation in which an
illustrious man shall be arraigned forever as a coward? It is
said that he was unjust even to Atticus, accusing even Atticus of
lukewarmness. What if he did so--for an hour? Is that an affair of
ours? Did Atticus quarrel with him? Let any leader of these words who
has lived long enough to have an old friend, ask himself whether there
has never been a moment of anger in his heart--of anger of which he
has soon learned to recognize the injustice? He may not have written
his angel, but then, perhaps, he has not had the pen of a Cicero. Let
those who rebuke the unmanliness of Cicero's wailings remember what
were his sufferings. The story has yet to be told, but I may in rough
words describe their nature. Everything was to be taken from him: all
that he had--his houses, his books, his pleasant gardens, his busts
and pictures, his wide retinue of slaves, and possessions lordly as
are those of our dukes and earls. He was driven out from Italy and so
driven that no place of delight could be open to him. Sicily, where he
had friends, Athens, where he might have lived, were closed against
him. He had to look where to live, and did live for a while on money
borrowed from his friends. All the cherished occupations of his life
were over for him--the law courts, the Forum, the Senate, and
the crowded meetings of Roman citizens hanging on his words. The
circumstances of his exile separated him from his wife and children,
so that he was alone. All this was assured to him for life, as far as
Roman law could assure it. Let us think of the condition of some great
and serviceable Englishman in similar circumstances. Let us suppose
that Sir Robert Peel had been impeached, and forced by some iniquitous
sentence to live beyond the pale of civilization: that the houses at
Whitehall Gardens and at Drayton had been confiscated, dismantled, and
levelled to the ground, and his rents and revenues made over to his
enemies; that everything should have been done to destroy him by the
country he had served, except the act of taking away that life which
would thus have been made a burden to him. Would not his case have
been more piteous, a source of more righteous indignation, than that
even of the Mores or Raleighs? He suffered under invectives in the
House of Commons, and we sympathized with him; but if some Clodius of
the day could have done this to him, should we have thought the worse
of him had he opened his wounds to his wife, or to his brother, or to
his friend of friends?

Had Cicero put an end to his life in his exile, as he thought of
doing, he would have been a second Cato to admiring posterity, and
some Lucan with rolling verses would have told us narratives of his
valor. The judges of today look back to his half-formed purposes in
this direction as being an added evidence of the weakness of the man;
but had he let himself blood and have perished in his bath, he would
have been thought to have escaped from life as honorably as did Junius

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