theilian (theilian) wrote,

Cicero vs. Antony <3> (Dec. 44 BC - March 43 BC)


ROME, after 19 SEPTEMBER 44 BC

HERE I have a fight on my hands with a most rascally gladiator fellow, our colleague [2] Antony. But it is no fair match - words against arms. However, he also makes speeches to pubilc meetings, about you! Not with impunity - he shall find to his cost what sort of peple he has provoked! ... What will come of it I simply don't know, but the other hope is that the People of Rome will at last show themselves worthy of their ancestors. I at any rate shall not fail the Republic, shall bear with courage whatever may befall, provided that I am not to blame for it...

1 Evelyn Shuckburgh dates this letter to after 20 December because later part of letter refers to that date, but Shackleton must be right to divide the letter into two parts (and date the first part to earlier time when Antony was present at Rome), which I suppose somehow got merged.

2 That is, colleague in the college of augurs. "Gladiator" is the favourite term of abuse of Antony. See 2 Phil. §§ 7, 63; p.136.



... The main point, which I want you most carefully to grasp and remember is that in safeguarding the liberty and welfare of the Roman People you must not wait to be authorized by the Senate, for it is not yet free. If you did, you would be condemning your own act, for you did not free the Republic by any public authority - a fact which makes the exploit all the greater and more glorious, In the second place, you would be also implying that this young man, or rather boy, Caesar had acted without justification in having assumed such a grave public responsibility on his own initiative. Further, you would be implying that the soldiers, country folk but brave men and loyal citizens [1] , had taken leave of their senses - that is to say firstly, the veterans, your own comrades in arms, and secondly the Martian and the fourth legions, [2] which have adjudged their own consul to be a public enemy and rallied to the defence of the Republic. The will of the senate must be accepted in lieu of authority when its authority is trammelled by fear...

1 Caesar's veterans, who had been settled in Campania. See p.145.

2 The legio Martia and the quarta were brought over by Antony from Macedonia to Brundisium, and ordered to march up the coast to Ariminum. But they left that road and marched along the via Minucia to Alba Fucensis. There they repelled Antony's agents and declared in favour of Octavian (Livy, Ep. 117; Cicero, 3 Phil. §§ 6-7).

DCCCX (F XII, 22a)


...On the 20th of December [4] a very full meeting of the Senate supported my motions on certain urgent and important matters, including one to the effect that provincial governors should remain at their posts and hand over authority only to successors appointed by senatorial decree. This motion was made by me in the interests of the Republic, but also, I assure you, in no small measure by concern for the preservation of your personal consequence. Accordingly, I would ask you for the sake of our affection and exhort you for the sake of the Republic to allow no person any jurisdiction in your province and always make your own public standing your primary consideration... this is really important: be sure to keep your province in the state's control...

4 A decree of the senate had transferred the province of Africa to C. Calvisius (Phil. 3.26), but Cicero regards that as canceled by the resolution moved at the end of his speech on the 20th of December. The other transactions he holds to have been carried out under compulsion from Antony.


ROME, JANUARY (middle) 43 BC

I have received two letter from you in duplicate, which in itself shows me how careful you are. I appreciated that you were anxious that a letter which I most ardently desired should reach my hands. The letter itself gave me a double satisfaction, such that it is difficult for me to decide by any comparison, whether to regard your affection for me or your loyalty to the Republic as the more valuable. To be sure (in my judgement at all events), love of country transcends all other sentiments; but affection and friendly attachment undeniably find a softer place in our heart... Accordingly, I urge you, my dear Plancus, nay more, I beg you, as I did in the letter to which you have made such an exceedingly kind answer, to throw yourself with all your thoughts and with every impulse of your heart into the cause of the Republic...
You could scarcely believe how all citizens (bandits excepted) detest Antony. Great is the hope pinned upon you and army under your command, greater the expectancy. Do not, in the name of heaven, lose the opportunity for gaining such popularity and glory! I counsel you as a father might a son, I hope for you as for myself, I urge you with the fervour inspired by my country's cause and the knowledge of your devoted friendship.



... Our friend Brutus for his part has gained a brilliant reputation. His achievements have been no less important than unexpected, so that, welcome as they are intrinsically, they are enhanced by their rapidity. [1]... The Senate is thoroughly resolute, except for the Consulars, [3] of whom Lucius Caesar alone is loyal and straight. By the death of Servius Sulpicius, we have lost a tower of strength.The rest are without energy or without principle. Some are jealous of the credit of those whose statesmanship they see gaining approval. But the unanimity of the People of Rome and of all Italy is quite remarkable. That is about all I wanted you to know. My present hope and prayer is that the sun of your valour may shine forth from those regions of the East.

1 Referring to M. Brutus having collected an army, occupied Greece, Macedonia, and Illyricum (App. B.C. 3.79; Dlo, 47, 21 sq.).

3 The surviving consulars were in several cases those who had owed their promotion to Caesar.



If you are well, I am glad. I and the army are well.
Let me inform you that I went to Syria to join the imperators Lucius Murcus and Quintus Crispus. Those gallant gentlemen and excellent citizens, having heard what was going on at Rome, handed over their armies to me and are themselves now assisting me with the greatest gallantry in the public service. Also I have to report that the legion which was under the command of Quintus Caecilius Bassus [1] has joined me, and that the four legions which Aulus Allienus led from Egypt have also been handed over to me. In these circumstances I do not suppose that you need any encouragement to defend us in our absence and the public interests also, so far as in you lies. I want you to know that you and your friends and the Senate are not without powerful supports, so you can defend the state in the best of hope and courage.
highest hopes and the firmest courage. On other matters you will be informed by Lucius Carteius, my intimate friend. Goodbye.

Dispatched Nones [7th] of March from camp at Tarichea.

1 See vol. iii., p. 335. Crispus and Murcus had been sent with proconsular authority by Caesar to put down Bassus. Allienus was a legatus of Trebonius (Phil. 11.30). Cassius says nothing of the murder of Trebonius by Dolabella, but he must have known it by this time.



WITH what zeal I have defended your position both in the Senate and before the People, I prefer you to learn from your domestic correspondents than from myself. My proposal would have been carried in the Senate, had it not been for the strong opposition of Pansa. [1] After having made that proposal in the Senate I was presented to a public meeting by the tribune M. Servilius. I said what I could about you in a voice loud enough to fill the whole forum, and with such cheering and acclamation from the people that I have never seen anything like it. I hope you will forgive me for acting in this against the wish of your mother-in-law. [2] The lady is timid and was afraid of Pansa's feelings being hurt. In the public meeting in fact Pansa stated that your own mother and your brother too had been against my making the motion. But all this did not affect me; I had other considerations more at heart. I was for the Republic, as always, and for your dignity and glory.
Now I hope that you will redeem the pledges which I gave both in Senate and before the People at considerable length. I promised, indeed almost guaranteed, that you had not waited and would not wait for our decrees, but would defend the commonwealth on your own initiative in your wonted fashion.
Although we have not yet had any news either of where you are or what forces you have, yet I have made up my mind that all the resources and troops in that part of the world are in your hands, and feel confident that by your means the province of Asia has been already recovered for the Republic. Take care to surpass yourself in adding your own glory. Goodbye.

1 The proposal of Calenus supported in the eleventh Philippic, delivered in the senate after the news of the murder of Trebonius, intrusting the war against Dolabella, already declared a public enemy, to Cassius. The contio on the same subject to which Cicero alludes, has not been preserved. They were delivered early in March.

2 Servilia, whose daughter Tertia was the wife of Cassius.



You ought not to think it at all surprising that I have written nothing to you on public affairs since war broke out. For the pass of the Castulonian Mountains, which has always delayed my letter-carriers, though it has now become still more dangerous from the increase of banditti, is yet by no means so grave a hindrance as the parties which, stationed at every available position at both ends, spy out my letter-carriers and detain them. [1] ... Moreover, my actual disposition and pursuits incline me to desire peace and liberty. Accordingly, I have often bitterly mourned over that first step in the civil war. Since, however, it was impossible for me to be neutral, because I had bitter enemies on both sides, I shunned the camp, in which I knew for certain that I should not be safe from the plots of my personal enemy. [4] Being thus compelled to go to the last place to which I desired to go, that I might not be lost in the crowd, I boldly confronted dangers without any hesitation. To Caesar, indeed, who regarded me as one of his oldest friends, though he had not known me until he had reached his own splendid position, I was attached with the utmost devotion and fidelity. What I was permitted to do in harmony with my own opinion I did in such a manner as to procure the warmest approbation of all the best men. When I acted under orders, I did so with so much deliberation and in such a spirit as made it evident that I was an unwilling recipient of the commands. But the wholly undeserved odium roused by my conduct sufficed to teach me the charm of liberty and the wretchedness of life under a tyranny. Accordingly, if the object of the present proceedings is to bring everything once more under the power of a single person, whoever he is, I avow myself his enemy: nor is there any danger which I would shun or deprecate on behalf of liberty. But the consuls have neither by senatorial decree nor by despatch given me any instructions as to what I was to do. For I have only received one despatch from Pansa, and that not till the 15th of March, in which he urges me to write a letter to the senate declaring that I and my army will be at its disposal. But seeing that Lepidus was making speeches and writing to tell everybody that he was at one with Antony, this was the most awkward possible step for me to take. For by what road was I to lead my legions through his province against his will? Or if I had effected the rest of the journey, could I take wings and fly over the Alps, which are occupied by his force? Add to this the impossibility of a despatch getting through on any terms: for letter-carriers are examined in countless places, and finally are even detained by Lepidus. No one will question the sincerity of my public pronouncement at Corduba, that I would hand over the province to no one who did not arrive with a commission from the senate...So you must think of me as one who is, first, most eager for peace (I am unashamedly anxious that none of our fellow-countrymen should perish) and, secondly, ready to defend my country's freedom and my own.
I am more gratified than you imagine by your taking my friend [5] to your circle. But I envy him his walks and jests with you. You will ask me how much I value that privilege: if we are ever allowed to live in peace, you shall find out by experience, for I shall not stir a yard from your side.
What does very much surprise me is that you have not written to me whether I shall serve the Republic more by remaining in my province or by leading my army into Italy. For my part, though it is safer and less laborious to remain, yet because I see that at such a crisis there is much more occasion for legions than for provinces (especially such as can be recovered without difficulty) I have resolved, as things are now, to start with my army. For the rest, you will learn everything from my despatch to Pansa, for I am inclosing a copy of it for your perusal. 16 March, Corduba.

1 It is not clear whom Pollio means. Lepidus was in possession of the northern province of Spain and of Narbonensis, and might intercept letters coming from the south for Italy that way, and letter-carriers starting from Rome might be stopped nearer the city by Antony or some of his followers.

4 There is no means of deciding what particular person Pollio means. We have heard of his prosecuting Gaius Cato (vol. i., p.281); and Quintilian mentions a speech against Labienus. But Pollio was a great orator, and may have prosecuted many persons and thus made enemies.

5 Probably the poet C. Cornelius Gallus; cf. end of Letter (X. 32)



THE great goodwill I bear you makes me very anxious for you to enjoy the highest measure of public esteem. For that reason I was pained by your omission to thank the Senate after having been signally honoured by that body. [1] I am glad that you are desirous of restoring peace between fellow citizens. But if you draw the line between peace and slavery, you will do service to the state and your own reputation. But if the peace of which you speak is to put a desperado once more in possession of unrestricted tyranny, then you should understand that all sane men are of a mind to prefer death to slavery. You will therefore, in my opinion at least, be acting with more wisdom if you do not commit yourself to a kind of peacemaking which is unacceptable to the Senate, the People, and every honest man.
However, you will be hearing all this from others, or will be informed by your correspondents. Your own good sense will tell you what is best to do.
1 On Cicero's motion at the beginning of the year the Senate passed a vote of thanks to Lepidus for his successful conclusion of negotiations with Sex. Pompeius and decreed the erection of gilded equestrian statue on the Rostra, an extraordinary distinction. On 20 March the Senate considered the letters from Lepidus and Plancus advocating peace. Cicero dealt with the former in his 13th Philippic. (Phil. 5.41; Phil. 13.9)

DCCCXXIV A (13 PHIL. §§ 22-46)



THE news of the death of Gaius Trebonius caused me as much regret as joy. One cannot help being glad that a wicked wretch has given satisfaction to the ashes and bones of a most illustrious man, and that Divine Providence has manifested its power before the end of one revolving year in the punishment, or immediate prospect of the punishment, of parricide. On the other hand, one cannot repress a sigh that Dolabella at such a time as this should be adjudged a public enemy for having killed a murderer; and that the Roman people should care more for the son of a mere man-about-town than for Gaius Caesar. But the most painful thing of all, Aulus Hirtius, is that you who were ennobled by the favours of Caesar and left by him in a position which surprises yourself--and that you, young sir, who owe everything to his name--are acting in a way to sanction Dolabella's condemnation and to release this pestilent fellow from his state of siege. In order, I suppose, that Brutus and Cassius may be all-powerful! The fact is, you regard the present situation as you did the former, when you used to speak of Pompey's camp as "the senate." You have taken Cicero as your leader, who was beaten then; you are strengthening Macedonia with troops; you have intrusted Africa to Varus, who had been twice made a prisoner; you have sent Cassius to Syria; you have allowed Casca to be tribune; you have withdrawn the revenue given by Iulius to the Luperci; [3] you have by decree of the senate abolished colonies of veterans which were established by law; you are promising the Massilians to refund what was taken from them by the right of war; you give out that no living Pompeian comes under the lex Hirtia; [5] you have supplied M. Brutus with money sent by Appuleius; [6] you have commended the executions of Petrus and Menedemus, [7] who were presented with the citizenship and were beloved by Caesar. You have taken no notice of the expulsion of Theopompus by Trebonius and of his flying stripped of everything to Alexandria; you have Servius Galba in your camp armed with the self-same dagger. [8] You have got together an army of soldiers who are either legally mine, or who have served their time, on the pretext of destroying the murderers of Caesar, and yet have forced them contrary to their expectations to assist in endangering the lives of their own quaestor or commander or fellow soldiers. In fact what have you not consented to or done which Gnaeus Pompeius would do, if he could come to life again, or his son if he could regain his home? Lastly, you say that there can be no peace, unless I either allow Decimus Brutus to march out or supply him with corn. Do you mean to tell me that this is the opinion of the veterans who have not yet committed themselves, even though you have been corrupted by flattery and insidious gifts to come here? But, you will say, it is besieged soldiers that you are attempting to relieve. Them I have no objection to spare and to allow to go wherever you order them, on the one condition that they give him [9] up to the death he has so richly deserved. You say in your letter that mention has been made in the senate of a pacification, and that five consulars have been appointed as legates. It is difficult to believe that the men who violently repelled me, though I offered the most equitable terms, and was thinking nevertheless of mitigating even them, should be entertaining any thoughts of moderation or be likely to act with common charity. It is scarcely likely even that men who have declared Dolabella a public enemy for a most righteous act should be capable of sparing us who are at one with him in heart.
Wherefore I would have you consider which of the two courses is in the better taste and the more advantageous to your party--to punish the death of Trebonius or that of Caesar: and whether it is more right that we should meet as foes and so allow the Pompeian cause so often defeated to revive, or that we should come to terms and so avoid being a laughing-stock to our enemies, who will be the gainers whichever of us perishes? Such a spectacle as this Fortune herself as yet has shunned. She has not seen, that is, two armies of the same body politic fighting like gladiators with Cicero for a trainer, who has been so far successful as to deceive you both by the same formal honours by which he has boasted of having deceived Caesar. [10] For my part I am resolved not to submit to the degradation of myself or my friends, nor to desert the party which Pompey hated, nor to allow the veterans to be turned out of their homes, nor to be dragged off one by one to punishment, nor to break the faith which I pledged to Dolabella, nor to violate my compact with that devoted patriot Lepidus, nor to betray Plancus who is a sharer in my policy.
If the immortal gods, as I hope they will, aid me in my plain and honest course, I shall survive with satisfaction to myself; but if a different fate awaits me, I feel an anticipatory pleasure in the punishment which will befall you. For if the Pompeians are so arrogant in defeat, I would rather you than I should experience what they will be in victory. In fact the upshot of my decision is this: I am ready to put up with the injuries done to my party, if they will either consent to forget that they are Caesar's assassins, or are prepared to join us in avenging his death. I cannot believe in legates approaching a place which is being at the same time menaced by war. When they have arrived I shall learn their demands.

2 This letter is not included in the Cicero correspondence; yet he had a copy of it which he read in the senate on the 20th of March, when there was a proposal made to send a second embassy to Antony. Cicero accompanied it with a running comment of abuse, meant to shew that it was hopeless to deal with Antony. It puts forcibly Antony's case, and therefore I have thought it well to insert it here. It is extracted from the thirteenth Philippic.

3 The Lupercalia had been falling into disrepute, but were revived by Iulius and the Luperci endowed. See vol. iii., p.89.

5 A law, perhaps passed when Hirtius was praetor or praefectus in B.C. 46, to exclude Pompeians from office. But it is not certain.

6 Appuleius was quaestor in Asia (App. B.C. 3.63; Plut. Brut. 24, 25).

7 See pp.51, 57. Cicero declares that the senate knew nothing about the case.

8 That is, with which he killed Caesar.

9 Decimus Brutus.

10 An allusion to the ornandum, laudandum, tollendum epigram, for which see Letter DCCCLXXIV.
Tags: cicero letters
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment