theilian (theilian) wrote,

Cicero vs. Antony <2> (Sept - Nov 44 BC)



I am much delighted that my vote and speech [1] have your approval. If one might speak like that more often, there would be no trouble about recovering freedom and the constitution. But a crazy desperado, far more wicked than the man whom you declared the wickesdest man ever killed, is seeking an excuse for a massacre, and accuses me of being the instigator of Caesar's assassination, with no other motive than that of inciting the veterans against me. [2] I don't dread that danger, so long as he honours me with a share in the glory of your exploit. Accordingly, neither Piso, [3] who was the first to make an (unsupported) attack on him, nor I, who followed Piso's example a month later; nor Publius Servilius, who followed me closely, can enter the Senate in safety. The gladiator [4] is seeking for a chance of using the sword, and thought that he was going to begin with me on the 19th of September, [5] on which day he came primed after studying his speech for many days in the villa of Metellus. [6] But what sort of "study" was possible in brothels and drunken riots? The result was that in everybody's eyes, as I wrote you word before, he seemed to be but vomiting in his usual way, not speaking. [7] You say you are confident that with my prestige and eloquence something can be achieved. Well, something had been achieved considering the deplorable state of affairs. The People of Rome realizes that there are three ex-consuls, [8] who, because they have thought honestly on politics and ventured to speak freely, cannot come in safety to the Senate. Beyond that you must expect nothing. Your relative [9] is greatly delighted with his new marriage connexion, and so he no longer cares about the Games, and is bursting with envy at the applause given to your brother. [10] ...

1 The first Philippic, Cicero's first publich challenge to Antony, spoken in the senate on the 2nd of September. The constant parallelism in thought and language in the following letters with the second Philippic shows that they were written while Cicero was composing it, i.e., after 19th September.

2 This is the motive alleged in Phil. 2.33.

3 L. Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, the father of Caesar's last wife, had spoken against Antony in the senate on the 1st of August (Phil. 1.14).

4 Cicero is fond of applying this term to Antony, partly in reference to his bodily size and strength. See 2 Phil. §§ 7, 63; infra, p.169.

5 The day on which Antony delivered his reply to the first Philippic, composed Cicero says by the aid of the rhetorician Sextus Clodius (Phil. 2.42).

6 L. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, Pompey's father-in-law, who threw himself overboard while escaping from Africa after Thapsus (B.C. 46). Antony had in some way possessed himself of his villa at Tibur.

7 Repeated in 2 Phil. §§ 6, 42. For the vomiting--which is not meant to be merely metaphorical--see 2 Phil. §§ 63, 76, 84, 104. Antony's tendency to vomit in public is attested in Pultarch's life of him.

8 Piso, Cicero, and P. Servilius Isauricus.

9 M. Aemilius Lepidus married Iunia, sister to Tertia, the wife of Cassius: they were both half-sisters to Brutus. The "new marriage connexion" refers to the marriage or betrothal of the son of Lepidus to a daughter of Antony's (Dio, 44, 53).

10 Quintus Cassius, tribune in this year, whom Antony threatened with death if he came to the senate (Phil. 3.23).



YOUR friend [1] gets crazier every day. To begin with, he has inscribed the statue which he set upon the rostra "To Father and Benefactor' so that you are now condemned not only as murderers, but as parricides to boot! [2] But why do I say "you"? Rather I should say "we" are condemned for that madman asserts that I was the head and front of that most glorious deed of yours. If only I had been! He would not have been troubling us now. [3] But all that is your responsibility, and now that is past and gone. I only wish I had some advice to offer you. But the fact is, I cannot even think what to do myself. What can be done against violence except by violence? Their whole plan is to avenge Caesar's death... It is a lamentable picture. We could not tolerate a master, so we are in bondage to our fellow-slave...

1 Antony.

2 The title of parens (or pater) patriae had been formally given to Caesar and was inscribed on coins (see Dio, 44, 3; Suet. Iul. 80). Cicero alludes to the guilt of parricide brought thereby upon his assassins in Phil. 2.31 ; cp. Phil. 13.23.

3 Cicero often repeats this sentiment, that if he had been one of the assassins, he would have killed Antony also. See, e.g., Phil. 2.34; supra, p.46.



... I feel sure that the city gazettes are sent to you. If I had thought otherwise, I would have written an account of them myself, and first and foremost of the attempt made by Octavianus. The general public thinks that Antony trumped up the charge as an excuse for making an inroad upon the young man's money. Men of the world, however, and loyalists both believe in the fact and approve of it. [2] In short, high hopes are set on him. He will do anything, it is thought, for honour and glory. As for our friend Antony, he is so conscious of his unpopularity that after catching his would-be assassins within his own doors, he does not venture to make the fact public. So on the 9th of October he set out to meet the four Macedonian legions, which he intends to win over to his side by money-bounties, and then to march them to Rome and set them as fetters for our necks.[3]
Such is the state of the Republic for you, if a republic can be said to exist in an armed camp. I often lament your fortune in not being old enough ever to have had a taste of a free and healthy republic...

2 Whether Octavian did really countenance the attempt to assassinate Antony is a matter of much dispute. Appian (B.C. 3.39) denies it, shewing that it was not in his interest to get rid of Antony at this time. Plutarch (Ant. 16) disbelieved it, and Nicolas (vit. Aug. 30), who probably gives Octavian's own version, says that Antony invented both plot and the report inculpating Octavian, who, as soon as be heard of it, went to Antony's house and offered to act as one of his guard. Suetonius (Aug. 10) of course believes it. See also Seneca, de Clem. i. 9, 1. Cicero evidently had no definite knowledge on the subject. I am myself inclined to the version of Nicolas that the whole thing was a deliberate canard.

3 There were six legions stationed in Macedonia by Caesar with full complement of cavalry and equipment for the Getic and Parthian wars. Antony first extorted from the senate the command of them on the plea that the Getae were threatening Macedonia. Having surrendered one of the legions to Dolabella, he shortly afterwards asked the senate to give him Cisalpine Gaul instead of Macedonia--which was to be transferred to his brother Gaius. The senators-seeing how they were entrapped--refused, but Antony carried it over their heads by a lex: and then sent Gaius to bring over the four legions, leaving one for the protection of Macedonia. With these he proposed to drive Decimus Brutus from Cisalpine Gaul, which the senate secretly instigated Brutus to retain. See Appian, B.C. 3.25, 27.



... On the evening of the 1st I got a letter from Octavian. He has great schemes afoot. He has won over to his views all the veterans at Casilinum and Calatia, and no wonder since he gives them 500 denarii apiece. He plans to make a round of the other colonies. His object is plain: a war with Antony and himself as a commander-in-chief. So I perceive that in a few days' time we shall be in arms. But whom are we to follow? Consider his name, consider his age! [1] Again, to begin with, he demands a secret interview with me, at Capua of all places! It is really quite childish if he supposes that it could be done secretly. I have written to explain to him that it is neither necessary nor possible. He sent a certain Caecina of Volaterrae [2] to me, an intimate friend of his own, who brought me the news that Antony was on his way towards the city with the legion Alauda [3], levying money on the municipal towns and marching at the head of the legion with colours flying. He wanted my advice on whether he should start for Rome with his army of 3,000 veterans, or should hold Capua, and so intercept Antony's advance, or should join the three Macedonian legions now marching along the Adriatic coast, which he hopes to have on his side. They refused to accept a bounty offered them by Antony, so he says. They even booed him savagely, and left him standing as he tried to address them. In short, Octavian offers himself as our military leader, and thinks that our right policy is to stand by him. On my part I advised his making for Rome. I imagine he will have the city rabble behind him, and the loyalists too if he convices them of his sincerity. Ah, Brutus, where are you? What an opportunity you are losing! For my part, I could not foretell this, but I thought that something of the sort would happen. Now, I desire to have your advice. Shall I come to Rome or stay on here? Or am I to fly to Arpinum? There is a sense of security about that place! My opinion is--Rome, for fear I may be missed if people come to think that something has been achieved. Unravel this difficulty. I was never in a greater quandary.


1 Augustus was born in September, B.C. 63, and was therefore now nineteen. In the Monumentum Ancyranum, § I, he begins the record of his achievements thus: "When nineteen years old I collected an army on my own account and at my own expense, by means of which I restored to liberty the Republic, which had been enslaved by the tyranny of a faction." By a "faction" Augustus here means, however, the anti-Caesarian aristocrats. At this time Cicero hoped that this army was to be used in their interests as against Antony's, though, as we see, he had uneasy doubts about it.

2 Of the Caecinae of Volaterrae. See vol. iii., p.123.

3 The famous Fifth Legion, raised by Caesar in Transalpine Gaul.



Two letters from Octavian in one day! Now wants me to return to Rome at once, says he wishes to work through the Senate. I told him that a meeting of the Senate was impossible before the 1st of January [1], and I believe it is really so. He adds also, "with your advice." In short, he presses while I play for time. I don't trust his age and I don't know what he's after. I am not willing to do anything without your friend Pansa. I'm nervous of Antony's power, and don't want to leave the coast. And at the same time I fear some great coup without my being there. Varro, for his part, doesn't think much of the youth's plan. I don't agree with him. He has forces on which he can depend. He can count on [Decimus] Brutus, [2] and he's going to work quite openly, forming companies at Capua and paying out bounties...

1 Impossible, that is, with safety to the opponents of Antony, the boni. For Antony as consul would preside, and it would be surrounded by his guards. Several meetings of the senate were, as a matter of fact, held before Antony's term of office was over. On the 1st of January the new consuls, Pansa and Hirtius, would preside.

2 Now governor of Gallia Cisalpina, who would be sure to take Octavian's side, because Antony claimed to have been nominated to his province.



... I am glad that you like my pamphlet. [Second Philippic] You have quoted the very gems, and your good opinion all the more brilliant to my eyes. I was mortally afraid of those little red wax wafers [1] of yours. As to Sicca, it is as you say. I had a struggle to keep away from that material. [2] So I shall touch on it, without any offence to Sicca or Septimia, only just enough to let our children's children know, without any Lucilian coarseness (?) that Antony had children by the daughter of Fadius Gallus. [3] I only wish I may live to see the day when that speech circulates freely enough to find its way even into Sicca's house. "But we must have a return to the state of things under the triumvirs!" [4] Hang me, if that isn't a good joke!...
I have not not buried myself down at Pompeii, as I told you that I should, partly because the weather is most abominable, and partly because I get a letter from Octavian every day, begging me to undertake the business, to come to Capua, once more to save the Republic, and at all events return to Rome at once.
"Ashamed to shrink and yet afraid to take." [15] He has certainly shown, and continues to show, plenty of energy, and he will go to Rome with a large following; but he is very much a boy. He thinks the Senate will meet at once. Who will come to it? Who, if he does come, will venture to oppose Antony in so uncertain a situation? On the 1st of January he may be some protection; or before that time a pitched battle will perhaps be fought. The municipal towns show remarkable enthusiasm for the boy. For instance, on his way into Samnium he came to Cales and stopped at Teanum. Amazing receptions and demonstrations of encouragement. Would you have thought that? For this reason I shall return to Rome sooner than I had intended. I shall write as soon as I decide definitely...
1 Equivalent to modern blue pencil.

2 Reading ab ista re. But the text is very uncertain. Apparently what Cicero refrained from mentioning was an intrigue of Antony's with Septimia, the wife of Sicca. The latter was a great friend of his, and therefore Atticus had suggested that the topic should be avoided. Cicero seems to have alluded--though obscurely--to it (Phil. 2.3), speaking of having espoused the cause of a familiaris against Antony. Perhaps in the original draft the allusion was more patent, and names were mentioned.

3 Q. Fadius Gallus, a freedman. Cicero harps on this mésalliance more than once (see Phil. 2.3; Phil. 13.23). It was probably Antony's first marriage, and the motive was apparently money. He afterwards married his cousin Antonia, whom he divorced in B.C. 47, and in B.C. 46 or 45 married Fulvia, widow first of Clodius and then of Curio. The expression sine vallo luciliano is very doubtful. Tyrrell and Purser propose phragmôi or phragmati. It in some way seems to mean that Lucilius in his personal attacks guarded himself from danger of retaliation.

4 This is the literal translation, but it seems to mean that the present times were so bad that they made them look back to the period when Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus were supreme (B.C. 59-53) as a golden age of liberty in comparison.

15 Homer, Il. 7.93



On the 7th I arrived at my lodge at Sinuessa. It was the common talk that Antony would be stopping at Casilinum that night. So I changed my plan: for I had intended to go straight along the Appian road to Rome. He would have easily caught me up, for they say he travels with Caesarian speed. Accordingly I am turning off at Minturnae by the road to Arpinum, and have decided to stay the night of the 9th at Aquinum or in Arcanum. [1]...

1 A villa of Quintus Cicero, near Minturnae



I have absolutely nothing to write about. It was a different story when I was at Puteoli, when every day brought something fresh about Octavian and much also that was false about Antony. However, in regard to what you have said in your letters - for I received three from you on the 11th - I strongly agree with you that, if Octavian were to have too much power, the measures of the tyrant would be far more solidly confirmed than in the temple of Tellus, [1] and this will be bad for Brutus. On the other hand, if he is beaten, you can see that Antony will be intolerable, so one can't tell which to prefer... But though that young man has plenty of spirit, he lacks weight...
But to turn to another subject, I don't feel any doubt that what the Greeks call kathêkon (duty), we call officium [2]. Now, why would you doubt that it would apply perfectly well to public, as well as private, life? Don't we speak of the officium of consuls, of the Senate, or of an imperator? It fits perfectly - or suggest me something better...

1 At the meeting of the senate on the Liberalia.

2 Cicero was rather busy around this period of time. Besides the Second Philippic, he had written 'De Officiis' (On Duties), 'De Amicitia'(On Friendship), and second version of 'Academica'.



You must not suppose it is out of laziness that I do not write in my own hand - and yet upon my word that is exactly what it is. I can't call it anything else. And after all, I think I detect the hand of Alexis in your letters too. But to business...
I have received - heaven knows - many wise words from you on the matters of politics, but never anything wiser than your last letter: "That youth has given Antony a fine check for the moment, but we had best wait and see the issue." But what a speech [1] - a copy was sent to me. He swears by the words: "So may I attain to the honours of my father," stretching his right hand out towards the statue! Sooner destruction for me than a rescuer such as this! But as you say, the clearest test will be our friend Casca's tribunate. [2] I told Oppius on that very subject, when he was pressing me to embrace the young man and his whole movement and band of veterans to boot, I could by no means do so unless I was sure that he would be not only no enemy but a friend to the tyrannicides. When he remarked that it would be so, I said, "What is our hurry then? For Octavian needs no help from me till the 1st of January, and we shall plainly see disposition before the Ides [13th] of December over Casca." He quite agreed. So much for this then...
P.S.-- I had already sealed this up when letters arrived from you... Your advice to stay in this part of the country for choice until we hear the outcome of these disturbances is wise and kind.
But my dear fellow, it is really not the Republic that is on my mind just now; not that there is anything dearer to me or ought to be so, but evem Hippocrates forbids medical treatment in hopeless cases. So goodbye to all that! It is my personal finances that are on my mind. 'Finances', do I say? I should say 'reputation'. Although I have all these balances due, there is still not enough clear even to pay Terentia... So come I must, even if it means moving straight into the furnace. Private bankruptcy is more discreditable than public... And why should I not be as safe in Rome as Marcellus? But that is not the question and I am not over-much concerned about it. What I am concerned about you see. So I am coming soon. [6]

1 The contio delivered by Octavian on his first visit to Rome.

2 One of the assassins. He was tribune-elect, and would come into office 10th December.

6 This is the last extant letter to Atticus. Cicero reached Rome on the 9th of December (p.162). Therefore the correspondence with Atticus was interrupted, as he was with him. Afterward, their correspondence was either never renewed, or subsequent letters have been all lost.
Tags: cicero letters
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