Latest update: 4/4/2005; 8:41:39 PM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca

LETTER DU JOUR: Cicero to Appius Claudius Pulcher, August 29, 51 B.C.

ad Familiares 3.6

Background: Here we see Cicero at his ingenuous/diplomatic/political best (you decide). He has been sent as governor of Cilicia at a time when Rome is sliding down the slippery slope into Civil War between Pompey and Caesar. The addressee of this letter, Appius Claudius Pulcher, comes from one of Rome's most powerful families and is likely connected politically to Pompey. ACP has just spent two years as governor, fleecing the provincials (including, but not confined to, keeping money provided by Rome for the billeting of soldiers and simply forcing citizens to put soldiers up). As such, it probably isn't surprising that he wants to avoid meeting Cicero -- who has a history of prosecuting corrupt governors -- when the latter comes to take up his position. Cicero, as always, is more afraid, however of how ACP's avoidance might be perceived back at Rome, and so writes this letter making it clear that ACP knows Cicero's nose is out of joint, so to speak, but also asking him to 'make it look good' if the subject comes up at Rome and trying not to completely alienate someone who can do damage to him politically. It's worth noting that under the mentioned lex Cornelia, ACP had to leave the province within thirty days (from August 1), so there really is no possible way Cicero and ACP could have met without violating the law. It's also interesting to note that ACP would be brought up on charges of de maiestate shortly after his return,  by P. Cornelius Dolabella, who would be betrothed to Cicero's daughter Tullia at some point during his governorship in Cilicia.

Translation (Shuckburg via Perseus)

When I compare my course of action with yours,
though in maintaining our friendship I do not
allow myself greater credit than I do you, yet I
am more satisfied with my conduct than
with yours. For at Brundisium I asked Phania--and
I imagined that I saw clearly his fidelity to you
and knew what a high place he had in your
confidence--to tell me to what part of the
province he thought you would like me to come in
taking over the succession. Having been answered
by him that I could not please you more than by
going by sea to Sida, although the arrival
there was not very dignified and much less
convenient for me on many accounts, I yet said
that I would do so. Again, having met L. Clodius
in Corcyra--a man so closely attached to you,
that in talking to him I seemed to be talking to
you--I told him that I meant to arrange for my
first arrival to be at the point at which Phania
had requested that it should be. Thereupon, after
thanking me, he begged me very strongly to go
straight to Laodicea: that you wished to be on
the very frontier of the province, in order to
quit it at the first moment: nay, that, had I not
been a successor whom you were anxious to see,
you would most likely have quitted before you
were relieved. And this last agreed with the
letter which I had received in Rome, from which I
thought that I perceived how much in a hurry you
were to depart. I answered Clodius that I would
do so, and with much greater pleasure than if I
had had to do what I had promised Phania.
Accordingly, I changed my plan and at once sent a
letter in my own writing to you; and this, I
learnt from your letter, reached you in very good
time. With my conduct I am, for my part, quite
satisfied; for nothing could be more cordial.
Now, on the other hand, consider your own. Not
only were you not at the place where you might
have seen me earliest, but you had gone such a
distance as made it impossible for me to overtake
you even, within the thirty days fixed by, I
think, the Cornelian law. Such a course of
action on your part  must appear to those
who are ignorant of our feelings to each other to
indicate one who, to put it at the mildest, is a
stranger and desirous of avoiding a meeting,
while mine must seem that of the most closely
united and affectionate of friends. And, after
all, before reaching my province, I received a
letter from you, in which, though you informed me
that you were starting for Tarsus, you yet held
out no uncertain hope of my meeting you.
Meanwhile, certain persons, I am ready to believe
out of spite--for that is a vice widely spread
and to be found in many--yet who had managed to
get hold of some plausible grounds for their
gossip, being unacquainted with the constancy of
my feelings, tried to alienate my affection from
you, by saying that you were holding an assize at
Tarsus, were issuing many enactments, deciding
actions, delivering judgments, though you might
have guessed that your successor had by this time
taken over your province--things (they remarked)
not usually done even by those who expect to be
relieved shortly. I was not moved by the talk of
such persons; nay, more, I assure you, that if
you performed any official act, I was prepared to
consider myself relieved from trouble, and to
rejoice that from being a government of a year,
which I regarded as too long, it had been reduced
nearly to one of eleven months, if in my absence
the labour of one month were subtracted. One
thing, however, to speak candidly, does disturb
me--that, considering the weakness of my military
force, the three cohorts which are at their
fullest strength should be absent, and that I
should not know where they are. But what causes
me most annoyance of all is that I do not know
where I am likely to see you, and have been the
slower to write to you, because I was expecting
you in person. from day to day ; and meanwhile I
did not receive so much as a letter to tell me
what you were doing or where I was to see you.
Accordingly, I have sent you the commander of my
reserve--men, Decimus Antonius, a gallant officer
and possessed of my fullest confidence, to take
over the cohorts, if you think well, in order
that, before the suitable season of the year is
gone, I may be able to accomplish something
practical. It was in that department that I had
hoped, both from our friendship and your letter,
to have the advantage of your advice, of which I
do not even now despair. But the truth is
that, unless you write to me, I cannot even guess
when or where I am to see you. For my part, I
will take care that friends and enemies alike
understand that I am most warmly attached to you:
of your feelings towards me you do appear to have
given the ill-disposed some grounds for 'thinking
differently: if you will put that straight I
shall be much obliged to you. That you may also
be able to calculate at what place you may meet
me without a breach of the Cornelian law, note
this--I entered the province on the last day of
July: I am on my way to Cilicia through
Cappadocia: I break up the camp from Iconium on
this last day of August.  With these facts
before you, if you think by reckoning days and
routes you may meet me, please settle at what
place that may be most conveniently done, and on
what day.

Annotated text at Perseus ...

Latin text via the Latin Library ...



::Sunday, August 31, 2003 2:03:32 PM::
Comment on this post @ Classics Central

TTT: More from Mary Harrsch

If you enjoyed MH's 'Virtual Julius Caesar' (see yesterday's listings), you'll also enjoy her:

Virtual Alexander the Great

Virtual Cleopatra

They're a bit less complex, but still kind of fun.

::Sunday, August 31, 2003 9:31:49 AM::
Comment on this post @ Classics Central


pridie kalendas septembres

  • 12 A.D. -- birth of the future emperor Gaius (Caligula) at
  • 40 A.D. -- Gaius (Caligula) celebrates an ovatio after his
    attempted military campaigns in Gaul and Britain
  • 161 A.D. -- birth of the future emperor Commodus (and his twin,
    Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus)

::Sunday, August 31, 2003 9:26:44 AM::
Comment on this post @ Classics Central

1. n. an abnormal state or condition resulting from the forced migration from a lengthy Classical education into a profoundly unClassical world; 2. n. a blog about Ancient Greece and Rome compiled by one so afflicted (v. "rogueclassicist"); 3. n. a Classics blog.

Publishing schedule:
Rogueclassicism is updated daily, usually before 7.00 a.m. (Eastern) during the week. Give me a couple of hours to work on my sleep deficit on weekends and holidays, but still expect the page to be updated by 10.00 a.m. at the latest.

Valid HTML 4.01!

Valid CSS!

Site Meter