I am conscious of a certain audacity in thus attempting to give a further life of Cicero which I feel I may probably fail in justifying by any new information; and on this account the enterprise, though it has been long considered, has been postponed, so that it may be left for those who come after me to burn or publish, as they may think proper; or, should it appear during my life, I may have become callous, through age, to criticism.
The project of my work was anterior to the life by Mr. Forsyth, and was first suggested to me as I was reviewing the earlier volumes of Dean Merivale’s History of the Romans under the Empire. In an article on the Dean’s work, prepared for one of the magazines of the day, I inserted an apology for the character of Cicero, which was found to be too long as an episode, and was discarded by me, not without regret. From that time the subject has grown in my estimation till it has reached its present dimensions.
I may say with truth that my book has sprung from love of the man, and from a heartfelt admiration of his virtues and his conduct, as well as of his gifts. I must acknowledge that in discussing his character with men of letters, as I have been prone to do, I have found none quite to agree with me. His intellect they have admitted, and his industry; but his patriotism they have doubted, his sincerity they have disputed, and his courage they have denied. It might have become me to have been silenced by their verdict; but I have rather been instigated to appeal to the public, and to ask them to agree with me against my friends. It is not only that Cicero has touched all matters of interest to men, and has given a new grace to all that he has touched; that as an orator, a rhetorician, an essayist, and a correspondent he was supreme; that as a statesman he was honest, as an advocate fearless, and as a governor pure; that he was a man whose intellectual part always dominated that of the body; that in taste he was excellent, in thought both correct and enterprising, and that in language he was perfect. All this has been already so said of him by other biographers. Plutarch, who is as familiar to us as though he had been English, and Middleton, who thoroughly loved his subject, and latterly Mr. Forsyth, who has struggled to be honest to him, might have sufficed as telling us so much as that. But there was a humanity in Cicero, a something almost of Christianity, a stepping forward out of the dead intellectualities of Roman life into moral perceptions, into natural affections, into domesticity, philanthropy, and conscious discharge of duty, which do not seem to have been as yet fully appreciated. To have loved his neighbor as himself before the teaching of Christ was much for a man to achieve; and that he did this is what I claim for Cicero, and hope to bring home to the minds of those who can find time for reading yet another added to the constantly increasing volumes about Roman times.
It has been the habit of some latter writers, who have left to Cicero his literary honors, to rob him of those which had been accorded to him as a politician. Macaulay, expressing his surprise at the fecundity of Cicero, and then passing on to the praise of the Philippics as senatorial speeches, says of him that he seems to have been at the head of the “minds of the second order.” We cannot judge of the classification without knowing how many of the great men of the world are to be included in the first rank. But Macaulay probably intended to express an opinion that Cicero was inferior because he himself had never dominated others as Marius had done, and Sylla, and Pompey, and Cæsar, and Augustus. But what if Cicero was ambitious for the good of others, while these men had desired power only for themselves?
Dean Merivale says that Cicero was “discreet and decorous,” as with a similar sneer another clergyman, Sydney Smith, ridiculed a Tory prime-minister because he was true to his wife. There is nothing so open to the bitterness of a little joke as those humble virtues by which no glitter can be gained, but only the happiness of many preserved. And the Dean declares that Cicero himself was not, except once or twice, and for a “moment only, a real power in the State.” Men who usurped authority, such as those I have named, were the “real powers,” and it was in opposition to such usurpation that Cicero was always urgent. Mr. Forsyth, who, as I have said, strives to be impartial, tells us that “the chief fault of Cicero’s moral character was a want of sincerity.” Absence of sincerity there was not. Deficiency of sincerity there was. Who among men has been free from such blame since history and the lives of men were first written? It will be my object to show that though less than godlike in that gift, by comparison with other men around him he was sincere, as he was also self-denying; which, if the two virtues be well examined, will indicate the same phase of character.
But of all modern writers Mr. Froude has been the hardest to Cicero. His sketch of the life of Cæsar is one prolonged censure on that of Cicero. Our historian, with all that glory of language for which he is so remarkable, has covered the poor orator with obloquy. There is no period in Cicero’s life so touching, I think, as that during which he was hesitating whether, in the service of the Republic, it did or did not behoove him to join Pompey before the battle of Pharsalia. At this time he wrote to his friend Atticus various letters full of agonizing doubts as to what was demanded from him by his duty to his country, by his friendship for Pompey, by loyalty to his party, and by his own dignity. As to a passage in one of those, Mr. Froude says “that Cicero had lately spoken of Cæsar’s continuance in life as a disgrace to the State.” “It has been seen also that he had long thought of assassination as the readiest means of ending it,”1 says Mr. Froude. The “It has been seen” refers to a statement made a few pages earlier, in which he translates certain words written by Cicero to Atticus.2 “He considered it a disgrace to them that Cæsar was alive.” That is his translation; and in his indignation he puts other words, as it were, into the mouth of his literary brother of two thousand years before. “Why did not somebody kill him?” The Latin words themselves are added in a note, “Cum vivere ipsum turpe sit nobis.”3 Hot indignation has so carried the translator away that he has missed the very sense of Cicero’s language. “When even to draw the breath of life at such a time is a disgrace to us!” That is what Cicero meant. Mr. Froude in a preceding passage gives us another passage from a letter to Atticus,4 “Cæsar was mortal.”5 So much is an intended translation. Then Mr. Froude tells us how Cicero had “hailed Cæsar’s eventual murder with rapture;” and goes on to say, “We read the words with sorrow and yet with pity.” But Cicero had never dreamed of Cæsar’s murder. The words of the passage are as follows: “Hunc primum mortalem esse, deinde etiam multis modis extingui posse cogitabam.” “I bethought myself in the first place that this man was mortal, and then that there were a hundred ways in which he might be put on one side.” All the latter authorities have, I believe, supposed the “hunc” or “this man” to be Pompey. I should say that this was proved by the gist of the whole letter — one of the most interesting that was ever written, as telling the workings of a great man’s mind at a peculiar crisis of his life — did I not know that former learned editors have supposed Cæsar to have been meant. But whether Cæsar or Pompey, there is nothing in it to do with murder. It is a question — Cicero is saying to his friend — of the stability of the Republic. When a matter so great is considered, how is a man to trouble himself as to an individual who may die any day, or cease from any accident to be of weight? Cicero was speaking of the effect of this or that step on his own part. Am I, he says, for the sake of Pompey to bring down hordes of barbarians on my own country, sacrificing the Republic for the sake of a friend who is here today and may be gone tomorrow? Or for the sake of an enemy, if the reader thinks that the “hunc” refers to Cæsar. The argument is the same. Am I to consider an individual when the Republic is at stake? Mr. Froude tells us that he reads “the words with sorrow and yet with pity.” So would every one, I think, sympathizing with the patriot’s doubts as to his leader, as to his party, and as to his country. Mr. Froude does so because he gathers from them that Cicero is premeditating the murder of Cæsar!
It is natural that a man should be judged out of his own mouth. A man who speaks much, and so speaks that his words shall be listened to and read, will be so judged. But it is not too much to demand that when a man’s character is at stake his own words shall be thoroughly sifted before they are used against him.
The writer of the biographical notice in the Encyclopedia Britannica on Cicero, sends down to posterity a statement that in the time of the first triumvirate, when our hero was withstanding the machinations of Cæsar and Pompey against the liberties of Rome, he was open to be bought. The augurship would have bought him. “So pitiful,” says the biographer, “was the bribe to which he would have sacrificed his honor, his opinions, and the commonwealth!” With no more sententious language was the character of a great man ever offered up to public scorn. And on what evidence? We should have known nothing of the bribe and the corruption but for a few playful words in a letter from Cicero himself to Atticus. He is writing from one of his villas to his friend in Rome, and asks for the news of the day: Who are to be the new consuls? Who is to have the vacant augurship? Ah, says he, they might have caught even me with that bait;6 as he said on another occasion that he was so much in debt as to be fit for a rebel; and again, as I shall have to explain just now, that he was like to be called in question under the Cincian law because of a present of books! This was just at the point of his life when he was declining all offers of public service — of public service for which his soul longed — because they were made to him by Cæsar. It was then that the “Vigintiviratus” was refused, which Quintilian mentions to his honor. It was then that he refused to be Cæsar’s lieutenant. It was then that he might have been fourth with Cæsar, and Pompey, and Crassus, had he not felt himself bound not to serve against the Republic. And yet the biographer does not hesitate to load him with infamy because of a playful word in a letter half jocose and half pathetic to his friend. If a man’s deeds be always honest, surely he should not be accused of dishonesty on the strength of some light word spoken in the confidence of familiar intercourse. The light words are taken to be grave because they meet the modern critic’s eye clothed in the majesty of a dead language; and thus it comes to pass that their very meaning is misunderstood.
My friend Mr. Collins speaks, in his charming little volume on Cicero, of “quiet evasions” of the Cincian law,7 and tells us that we are taught by Cicero’s letters not to trust Cicero’s words when he was in a boasting vein. What has the one thing to do with the other? He names no quiet evasions. Mr. Collins makes a surmise, by which the character of Cicero for honesty is impugned — without evidence. The anonymous biographer altogether misinterprets Cicero. Mr. Froude charges Cicero with anticipation of murder, grounding his charge on words which he has not taken the trouble to understand. Cicero is accused on the strength of his own private letters. It is because we have not the private letters of other persons that they are not so accused. The courtesies of the world exact, I will not say demand, certain deviations from straightforward expression; and these are made most often in private conversations and in private correspondence. Cicero complies with the ways of the world; but his epistles are no longer private, and he is therefore subjected to charges of falsehood. It is because Cicero’s letters, written altogether for privacy, have been found worthy to be made public that such accusations have been made. When the injustice of these critics strikes me, I almost wish that Cicero’s letters had not been preserved.
As I have referred to the evidence of those who have, in these latter days, spoken against Cicero, I will endeavor to place before the reader the testimony of his character which was given by writers, chiefly of his own nation, who dealt with his name for the hundred and fifty years after his death — from the time of Augustus down to that of Adrian — a period much given to literature, in which the name of a politician and a man of literature would assuredly be much discussed. Readers will see in what language he was spoken of by those who came after him. I trust they will believe that if I knew of testimony on the other side, of records adverse to the man, I would give them. The first passage to which I will allude does not bear Cicero’s name; and it may be that I am wrong in assuming honor to Cicero from a passage in poetry, itself so famous, in which no direct allusion is made to himself. But the idea that Virgil in the following lines refers to the manner in which Cicero soothed the multitude who rose to destroy the theatre when the knights took their front seats in accordance with Otho’s law, does not originate with me. I give the lines as translated by Dryden, with the original in a note.8
“As when in tumults rise the ignoble crowd,
Mad are their motions, and their tongues are loud;
And stones and brands in rattling volleys fly,
And all the rustic arms that fury can supply;
If then some grave and pious man appear,
They hush their noise, and lend a listening ear;
He soothes with sober words their angry mood,
And quenches their innate desire of blood.”
This, if it be not intended for a portrait of Cicero on that occasion, exactly describes his position and his success. We have a fragment of Cornelius Nepos, the biographer of the Augustan age, declaring that at Cicero’s death men had to doubt whether literature or the Republic had lost the most.9 Livy declared of him only, that he would be the best writer of Latin prose who was most like to Cicero.10 Velleius Paterculus, who wrote in the time of Tiberius, speaks of Cicero’s achievements with the highest honor. “At this period,” he says, “lived Marcus Cicero, who owed everything to himself; a man of altogether a new family, as distinguished for ability as he was for the purity of his life.”11 Valerius Maximus quotes him as an example of a forgiving character.12 Perhaps the warmest praise ever given to him came from the pen of Pliny the elder, from whose address to the memory of Cicero I will quote only a few words, as I shall refer to it more at length when speaking of his consulship. “Hail thou,” says Pliny, “who first among men was called the father of your country.”13 Martial, in one of his distichs, tells the traveller that if he have but a book of Cicero’s writing he may fancy that he is travelling with Cicero himself.14 Lucan, in his bombastic verse, declares how Cicero dared to speak of peace in the camp of Pharsalia. The reader may think that Cicero should have said nothing of the kind, but Lucan mentions him with all honor.15 Not Tacitus, as I think, but some author whose essay De Oratoribus was written about the time of Tacitus, and whose work has come to us with the name of Tacitus, has told us of Cicero that he was a master of logic, of ethics, and of physical science.16 Everybody remembers the passage in Juvenal,
“Sed Roma parentem
Roma patrem patriæ Ciceronem libera dixit.”
“Rome, even when she was free, declared him to be the father of his country.”17 Even Plutarch, who generally seems to have a touch of jealousy when speaking of Cicero, declares that he verified the prediction of Plato, “That every State would be delivered from its calamities whenever power should fortunately unite with wisdom and justice in one person.”18 The praises of Quintilian as to the man are so mixed with the admiration of the critic for the hero of letters, that I would have omitted to mention them here were it not that they will help to declare what was the general opinion as to Cicero at the time in which it was written. He has been speaking of Demosthenes,19 and then goes on: “Nor in regard to Cicero do I see that he ever failed in the duty of a good citizen. There is in evidence of this the splendor of his consulship, the rare integrity of his provincial administration, his refusal of office under Cæsar,20 the firmness of his mind on the civil wars, giving way neither to hope nor fear, though these sorrows came heavily on him in his old age. On all these occasions he did the best he could for the Republic.” Florus, who wrote after the twelve Cæsars, in the time of Trajan and of Adrian, whose rapid summary of Roman events can hardly be called a history, tells us, in a few words, how Catiline’s conspiracy was crushed by the authority of Cicero and Cato in opposition to that of Cæsar.21 Then, when he has passed in a few short chapters over all the intervening history of the Roman Empire, he relates, in pathetic words, the death of Cicero. “It was the custom in Rome to put up on the rostra the heads of those who had been slain; but now the city was not able to restrain its tears when the head of Cicero was seen there, upon the spot from which the citizens had so often listened to his words.”22 Such is the testimony given to this man by the writers who may be supposed to have known most of him as having been nearest to his time. They all wrote after him. Sallust, who was certainly his enemy, wrote of him in his lifetime, but never wrote in his dispraise. It is evident that public opinion forbade him to do so. Sallust is never warm in Cicero’s praise, as were those subsequent authors whose words I have quoted, and has been made subject to reproach for envy, for having passed too lightly over Cicero’s doings and words in his account of Catiline’s conspiracy; but what he did say was to Cicero’s credit. Men had heard of the danger, and therefore, says Sallust,23 “They conceived the idea of intrusting the consulship to Cicero. For before that the nobles were envious, and thought that the consulship would be polluted if it were conferred on a novus homo, however distinguished. But when danger came, envy and pride had to give way.” He afterward declares that Cicero made a speech against Catiline most brilliant, and at the same time useful to the Republic. This was lukewarm praise, but coming from Sallust, who would have censured if he could, it is as eloquent as any eulogy. There is extant a passage attributed to Sallust full of virulent abuse of Cicero, but no one now imagines that Sallust wrote it. It is called the Declamation of Sallust against Cicero, and bears intrinsic evidence that it was written in after years. It suited some one to forge pretended invectives between Sallust and Cicero, and is chiefly noteworthy here because it gives to Dio Cassius a foundation for the hardest of hard words he said against the orator.24
Dio Cassius was a Greek who wrote in the reign of Alexander Severus, more than two centuries and a half after the death of Cicero, and he no doubt speaks evil enough of our hero. What was the special cause of jealousy on his part cannot probably be now known, but the nature of his hatred may be gathered from the passage in the note, which is so foul-mouthed that it can be only inserted under the veil of his own language.25 Among other absurdities Dio Cassius says of Cicero that in his latter days he put away a gay young wife, forty years younger than himself, in order that he might enjoy without disturbance the company of another lady who was nearly as much older than himself as his wife was younger.
Now I ask, having brought forward so strong a testimony, not, I will say, as to the character of the man, but of the estimation in which he was held by those who came shortly after him in his own country; having shown, as I profess that I have shown, that his name was always treated with singular dignity and respect, not only by the lovers of the old Republic but by the minions of the Empire; having found that no charge was ever made against him either for insincerity or cowardice or dishonesty by those who dealt commonly with his name, am I not justified in saying that they who have in later days accused him should have shown their authority? Their authority they have always found in his own words. It is on his own evidence against himself that they have depended — on his own evidence, or occasionally on their own surmises. When we are told of his cowardice, because those human vacillations of his, humane as well as human, have been laid bare to us as they came quivering out of his bosom on to his fingers! He is a coward to the critics because they have written without giving themselves time to feel the true meaning of his own words. If we had only known his acts and not his words — how he stood up against the judges at the trial of Verres, with what courage he encountered the responsibility of his doings at the time of Catiline, how he joined Pompey in Macedonia from a sense of sheer duty, how he defied Antony when to defy Antony was probable death — then we should not call him a coward! It is out of his own mouth that he is condemned. Then surely his words should be understood. Queen Christina says of him, in one of her maxims, that “Cicero was the only coward that was capable of great actions.” The Queen of Sweden, whose sentences are never worth very much, has known her history well enough to have learned that Cicero’s acts were noble, but has not understood the meaning of words sufficiently to extract from Cicero’s own expressions their true bearing. The bravest of us all, if he is in high place, has to doubt much before he can know what true courage will demand of him; and these doubts the man of words will express, if there be given to him an alter ego such as Cicero had in Atticus.
In reference to the biography of Mr Forsyth I must, in justice both to him and to Cicero, quote one passage from the work: “Let those who, like De Quincey,26 Mommsen, and others, speak disparagingly of Cicero, and are so lavish in praise of Cæsar, recollect that Cæsar never was troubled by a conscience.” Here it is that we find that advance almost to Christianity of which I have spoken, and that superiority of mind being which makes Cicero the most fit to be loved of all the Romans.
It is hard for a man, even in regard to his own private purposes, to analyze the meaning of a conscience, if he put out of question all belief in a future life. Why should a man do right if it be not for a reward here or hereafter? Why should anything be right — or wrong? The Stoics tried to get over the difficulty by declaring that if a man could conquer all his personal desires he would become, by doing so, happy, and would therefore have achieved the only end at which a man can rationally aim. The school had many scholars, but probably never a believer. The normal Greek or Roman might be deterred by the law, which means fear of punishment, or by the opinion of his neighbors, which means ignominy. He might recognize the fact that comfort would combine itself with innocence, or disease and want with lust and greed. In this there was little need of a conscience — hardly, perhaps, room for it. But when ambition came, with all the opportunities that chance, audacity, and intellect would give — as it did to Sylla, to Cæsar, and to Augustus — then there was nothing to restrain the men. There was to such a man no right but his power, no wrong but opposition to it. His cruelty or his clemency might be more or less, as his conviction of the utility of this or that other weapon for dominating men might be strong with him. Or there might be some variation in the flowing of the blood about his heart which might make a massacre of citizens a pleasing diversion or a painful process to him; but there was no conscience. With the man of whom we are about to speak conscience was strong. In his sometimes doubtful wanderings after political wisdom — in those mental mazes which have been called insincerity — we shall see him, if we look well into his doings, struggling to find whether, in searching for what was his duty, he should go to this side or to that. Might he best hope a return to that state of things which he thought good for his country by adhering to Cæsar or to Pompey? We see the workings of his conscience, and, as we remember that Scipio’s dream of his, we feel sure that he had, in truth, within him a recognition of a future life.
In discussing the character of a man, there is no course of error so fertile as the drawing of a hard and fast line. We are attracted by salient points, and, seeing them clearly, we jump to conclusions, as though there were a light-house on every point by which the nature of the coast would certainly be shown to us. And so it will, if we accept the light only for so much of the shore as it illumines. But to say that a man is insincere because he has vacillated in this or the other difficulty, that he is a coward because he has feared certain dangers, that he is dishonest because he has swerved, that he is a liar because an untrue word has been traced to him, is to suppose that you know all the coast because one jutting headland has been defined to you. He who so expresses himself on a man’s character is either ignorant of human nature, or is in search of stones with which to pelt his enemy. “He has lied! He has lied!” How often in our own political contests do we hear the cry with a note of triumph! And if he have, how often has he told the truth? And if he have, how many are entitled by pure innocence in that matter to throw a stone at him? And if he have, do we not know how lies will come to the tongue of a man without thought of lying? In his stoutest efforts after the truth a man may so express himself that when afterward he is driven to compare his recent and his former words, he shall hardly be able to say even to himself that he has not lied. It is by the tenor of a man’s whole life that we must judge him, whether he be a liar or no.
To expect a man to be the same at sixty as he was at thirty, is to suppose that the sun at noon shall be graced with the colors which adorn its setting. And there are men whose intellects are set on so fine a pivot that a variation in the breeze of the moment, which coarser minds shall not feel, will carry them round with a rapidity which baffles the common eye. The man who saw his duty clearly on this side in the morning shall, before the evening come, recognize it on the other; and then again, and again, and yet again the vane shall go round. It may be that an instrument shall be too fine for our daily uses. We do not want a clock to strike the minutes, or a glass to tell the momentary changes in the atmosphere. It may be found that for the work of the world, the coarse work — and no work is so coarse, though none is so important, as that which falls commonly into the hands of statesmen — instruments strong in texture, and by reason of their rudeness not liable to sudden impressions, may be the best. That it is which we mean when we declare that a scrupulous man is impractical in politics. But the same man may, at various periods of his life, and on various days at the same period, be scrupulous and unscrupulous, impractical and practical, as the circumstances of the occasion may affect him. At one moment the rule of simple honesty will prevail with him. “Fiat justitia, ruat c[oe]lum.” “Si fractus illabatur orbis Impavidum ferient ruinæ.” At another he will see the necessity of a compromise for the good of the many. He will tell himself that if the best cannot be done, he must content himself with the next best. He must shake hands with the imperfect, as the best way of lifting himself up from a bad way toward a better. In obedience to his very conscience he will temporize, and, finding no other way of achieving good, will do even evil that good may come of it. “Rem si possis recte; si non, quocunque modo rem.” In judging of such a character as this, a hard and fast line will certainly lead us astray. In judging of Cicero, such a hard and fast line has too generally been used. He was a man singularly sensitive to all influences. It must be admitted that he was a vane, turning on a pivot finer than those on which statesmen have generally been made to work. He had none of the fixed purpose of Cæsar, or the unflinching principle of Cato. They were men cased in brass, whose feelings nothing could hurt. They suffered from none of those inward flutterings of the heart, doubtful aspirations, human longings, sharp sympathies, dreams of something better than this world, fears of something worse, which make Cicero so like a well-bred, polished gentleman of the present day. It is because he has so little like a Roman that he is of all the Romans the most attractive.
Still there may be doubt whether, with all the intricacies of his character, his career was such as to justify a further biography at this distance of time. “What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?” asks Hamlet, when he finds himself stirred by the passion thrown into the bare recital of an old story by an itinerant player. What is Cicero to us of the nineteenth century that we should care so much for him as to read yet another book? Nevertheless, Hamlet was moved because the tale was well told. There is matter in the earnestness, the pleasantness, the patriotism, and the tragedy of the man’s life to move a reader still — if the story could only be written of him as it is felt! The difficulty lies in that, and not in the nature of the story.
The period of Cicero’s life was the very turning-point of civilization and government in the history of the world. At that period of time the world, as we know it, was Rome. Greece had sunk. The Macedonian Empire had been destroyed. The kingdoms of the East — whether conquered, or even when conquering, as was Parthia for awhile — were barbaric, outside the circle of cultivation, and to be brought into it only by the arms and influence of Rome. During Cæsar’s career Gaul was conquered; and Britain, with what was known of Germany, supposed to be partly conquered. The subjugation of Africa and Spain was all but completed. Letters, too, had been or were being introduced. Cicero’s use of language was so perfect that it seems to us to have been almost necessarily the result of a long established art of Latin literature. But, in truth, he is the earliest of the prose writers of his country with whose works we are familiar. Excepting Varro, who was born but ten years before him, no earlier Latin prose writer has left more than a name to us; and the one work by which Varro is at all known, the De Re Rustica, was written after Cicero’s death. Lucretius, whose language we regard as almost archaic, so unlike is it to that of Virgil or Horace, was born eight years after Cicero. In a great degree Cicero formed the Latin language — or produced that manipulation of it which has made it so graceful in prose, and so powerful a vehicle of thought. That which he took from any Latin writer he took from Terence.
And it was then, just then, that there arose in Rome that unpremeditated change in its form of government which resulted in the self-assumed dictatorship of Cæsar, and the usurpation of the Empire by Augustus. The old Rome had had kings. Then the name and the power became odious — the name to all the citizens, no doubt, but the power simply to the nobility, who grudged the supremacy of one man. The kings were abolished, and an oligarchy was established under the name of a Republic, with its annual magistrates — at first its two Consuls, then its Prætors and others, and occasionally a Dictator, as some current event demanded a concentration of temporary power in a single hand for a certain purpose. The Republic was no republic, as we understand the word; nor did it ever become so, though their was always going on a perpetual struggle to transfer the power from the nobles to the people, in which something was always being given or pretended to be given to the outside class. But so little was as yet understood of liberty that, as each plebeian made his way up into high place and became one of the magistrates of the State, he became also one of the oligarchical faction. There was a continued contest, with a certain amount of good faith on each side, on behalf of the so-called Republic — but still a contest for power. This became so continued that a foreign war was at times regarded as a blessing, because it concentrated the energies of the State, which had been split and used by the two sections — by each against the other. It is probably the case that the invasion of the Gauls in earlier days, and, later on, the second Punic war, threatening as they were in their incidents to the power of Rome, provided the Republic with that vitality which kept it so long in existence. Then came Marius, dominant on one side as a tribune of the people, and Sylla, as aristocrat on the other, and the civil wars between them, in which, as one prevailed or the other, Rome was mastered. How Marius died, and Sylla reigned for three bloody, fatal years, is outside the scope of our purpose — except in this, that Cicero saw Sylla’s proscriptions, and made his first essay into public life hot with anger at the Dictator’s tyranny.
It occurs to us as we read the history of Rome, beginning with the early Consuls and going to the death of Cæsar and of Cicero, and the accomplished despotism of Augustus, that the Republic could not have been saved by any efforts, and was in truth not worth the saving. We are apt to think, judging from our own idea of liberty, that there was so much of tyranny, so little of real freedom in the Roman form of government, that it was not good enough to deserve our sympathies. But it had been successful. It had made a great people, and had produced a wide-spread civilization. Roman citizenship was to those outside the one thing the most worthy to be obtained. That career which led the great Romans up from the state of Quæstor to the Ædile’s, Prætor’s, and Consul’s chair, and thence to the rich reward of provincial government, was held to be the highest then open to the ambition of man. The Kings of Greece, and of the East, and of Africa were supposed to be inferior in their very rank to a Roman Proconsul, and this greatness was carried on with a semblance of liberty, and was compatible with a belief in the majesty of the Roman citizen. When Cicero began his work, Consuls, Prætors, Ædiles, and Quæstors were still chosen by the votes of the citizens. There was bribery, no doubt, and intimidation, and a resort to those dirty arts of canvassing with which we English have been so familiar; but in Cicero’s time the male free inhabitants of Rome did generally carry the candidates to whom they attached themselves. The salt of their republican theory was not as yet altogether washed out from their practice.
The love of absolute liberty as it has been cultivated among modern races did not exist in the time of Cicero. The idea never seems to have reached even his bosom, human and humanitarian as were his sympathies, that a man, as man, should be free. Half the inhabitants of Rome were slaves, and the institution was so grafted in the life of the time that it never occurred to a Roman that slaves, as a body, should be manumitted. The slaves themselves, though they were not, as have been the slaves whom we have seen, of a different color and presumed inferior race, do not themselves seem to have entertained any such idea. They were instigated now and again to servile wars, but there was no rising in quest of freedom generally. Nor was it repugnant to the Roman theory of liberty that the people whom they dominated, though not subjected to slavery, should still be outside the pale of civil freedom. That boon was to be reserved for the Roman citizen, and for him only. It had become common to admit to citizenship the inhabitants of other towns and further territories. The glory was kept not altogether for Rome, but for Romans.
Thus, though the government was oligarchical, and the very essence of freedom ignored, there was a something which stood in the name of liberty, and could endear itself to a real patriot. With genuine patriotism Cicero loved his country, and beginning his public life as he did at the close of Sylla’s tyranny, he was able to entertain a dream that the old state of things might be restored and the republican form of government maintained. There should still be two Consuls in Rome, whose annual election would guard the State against regal dominion. And there should, at the same time, be such a continuance of power in the hands of the better class — the “optimates,” as he called them — as would preserve the city from democracy and revolution. No man ever trusted more entirely to popular opinion than Cicero, or was more anxious for aristocratic authority. But neither in one direction nor the other did he look for personal aggrandizement, beyond that which might come to him in accordance with the law and in subjection to the old form of government.
It is because he was in truth patriotic, because his dreams of a Republic were noble dreams, because he was intent on doing good in public affairs, because he was anxious for the honor of Rome and of Romans, not because he was or was not a “real power in the State” that his memory is still worth recording. Added to this was the intellect and the wit and erudition of the man, which were at any rate supreme. And then, though we can now see that his efforts were doomed to failure by the nature of the circumstances surrounding him, he was so nearly successful, so often on the verge of success, that we are exalted by the romance of his story into the region of personal sympathy. As we are moved by the aspirations and sufferings of a hero in a tragedy, so are we stirred by the efforts, the fortune, and at last the fall of this man. There is a picturesqueness about the life of Cicero which is wanting in the stories of Marius or Sylla, of Pompey, or even of Cæsar — a picturesqueness which is produced in great part by these very doubtings which have been counted against him as insincerity.
His hands were clean when the hands of all around him were defiled by greed. How infinitely Cicero must have risen above his time when he could have clean hands! A man in our days will keep himself clean from leprosy because to be a leper is to be despised by those around him. Advancing wisdom has taught us that such leprosy is bad, and public opinion coerces us. There is something too, we must suppose, in the lessons of Christianity. Or it may be that the man of our day, with all these advantages, does not keep himself clean — that so many go astray that public opinion shall almost seem to tremble in the balance. Even with us this and that abomination becomes allowable because so many do it. With the Romans, in the time of Cicero, greed, feeding itself on usury, rapine, and dishonesty, was so fully the recognized condition of life that its indulgence entailed no disgrace. But Cicero, with eyes within him which saw farther than the eyes of other men, perceived the baseness of the stain. It has been said also of him that he was not altogether free from reproach. It has been suggested that he accepted payment for his services as an advocate, any such payment being illegal. The accusation is founded on the knowledge that other advocates allowed themselves to be paid, and on the belief that Cicero could not have lived as he did without an income from that source. And then there is a story told of him that, though he did much at a certain period of his life to repress the usury, and to excite at the same time the enmity of a powerful friend, he might have done more. As we go on, the stories of these things will be told; but the very nature of the allegations against him prove how high he soared in honesty above the manners of his day. In discussing the character of the men, little is thought of the robberies of Sylla, the borrowings of Cæsar, the money-lending of Brutus, or the accumulated wealth of Crassus. To plunder a province, to drive usury to the verge of personal slavery, to accept bribes for perjured judgment, to take illegal fees for services supposed to be gratuitous, was so much the custom of the noble Romans that we hardly hate his dishonest greed when displayed in its ordinary course. But because Cicero’s honesty was abnormal, we are first surprised, and then, suspecting little deviations, rise up in wrath against him, because in the midst of Roman profligacy he was not altogether a Puritan in his money matters.
Cicero is known to us in three great capacities: as a statesman, an advocate, and a man of letters. As the combination of such pursuits is common in our own days, so also was it in his. Cæsar added them all to the great work of his life as a soldier. But it was given to Cicero to take a part in all those political struggles, from the resignation of Sylla to the first rising of the young Octavius, which were made on behalf of the Republic, and were ended by its downfall. His political life contains the story of the conversion of Rome from republican to imperial rule; and Rome was then the world. Could there have been no Augustus, no Nero, and then no Trajan, all Europe would have been different. Cicero’s efforts were put forth to prevent the coming of an Augustus or a Nero, or the need of a Trajan; and as we read of them we feel that, had success been possible, he would have succeeded.
As an advocate he was unsurpassed. From him came the feeling — whether it be right or wrong — that a lawyer, in pleading for his client, should give to that client’s cause not only all his learning and all his wit, but also all his sympathy. To me it is marvellous, and interesting rather than beautiful, to see how completely Cicero can put off his own identity and assume another’s in any cause, whatever it be, of which he has taken the charge. It must, however, be borne in mind that in old Rome the distinction between speeches made in political and in civil or criminal cases was not equally well marked as with us, and also that the reader having the speeches which have come down to us, whether of one nature or the other, presented to him in the same volume, is apt to confuse the public and that which may, perhaps, be called the private work of the man. In the speeches best known to us Cicero was working as a public man for public objects, and the ardor, I may say the fury, of his energy in the cause which he was advocating was due to his public aspirations. The orations which have come to us in three sets, some of them published only but never spoken — those against Verres, against Catiline, and the Philippics against Antony — were all of this nature, though the first concerned the conduct of a criminal charge against one individual. Of these I will speak in their turn; but I mention them here in order that I may, if possible, induce the reader to begin his inquiry into Cicero’s character as an advocate with a just conception of the objects of the man. He wished, no doubt, to shine, as does the barrister of today: he wished to rise; he wished, if you will, to make his fortune, not by the taking of fees, but by extending himself into higher influence by the authority of his name. No doubt he undertook this and the other case without reference to the truth or honesty of the cause, and, when he did so, used all his energy for the bad, as he did for the good cause. There seems to be special accusation made against him on this head, as though, the very fact that he undertook his work without pay threw upon him the additional obligation of undertaking no cause that was not in itself upright. With us the advocate does this notoriously for his fee. Cicero did it as notoriously in furtherance of some political object of the moment, or in maintenance of a friendship which was politically important. I say nothing against the modern practice. This would not be the place for such an argument. Nor do I say that, by rules of absolute right and wrong, Cicero was right; but he was as right, at any rate, as the modern barrister. And in reaching the high-minded conditions under which he worked, he had only the light of his own genius to guide him. When compare the clothing of the savage race with our own, their beads and woad and straw and fibres with our own petticoats and pantaloons, we acknowledge the progress of civilization and the growth of machinery. It is not a wonderful thing to us that an African prince should not be as perfectly dressed as a young man in Piccadilly. But, when we make a comparison of morals between our own time and a period before Christ, we seem to forget that more should be expected from us than from those who lived two thousand years ago.
There are some of those pleadings, speeches made by Cicero on behalf of or against an accused party, from which we may learn more of Roman life than from any other source left to us. Much we may gather from Terence, much from Horace, something from Juvenal. There is hardly, indeed, a Latin author from which an attentive reader may not pick up some detail of Roman customs. Cicero’s letters are themselves very prolific. But the pretty things of the poets are not quite facts, nor are the bitter things of the satirist; and though a man’s letters to his friend may be true, such letters as come to us will have been the products of the greater minds, and will have come from a small and special class. I fear that the Newgate Calendar of the day would tell us more of the ways of living then prevailing than the letters of Lady Mary W. Montagu or of Horace Walpole. From the orations against Verres we learn how the people of a province lived under the tyranny inflicted upon them; and from those spoken in defence of Sextus Amerinus and Aulus Cluentius, we gather something of the horrors of Roman life — not in Rome, indeed, but within the limits of Roman citizenship.
It is, however, as a man of letters that Cicero will be held in the highest esteem. It has been his good-fortune to have a great part of what he wrote preserved for future ages. His works have not perished, as have those of his contemporaries, Varro and Hortensius. But this has been due to two causes, which were independent of Fortune. He himself believed in their value, and took measures for their protection; and those who lived in his own time, and in the immediately succeeding ages, entertained the same belief and took the same care. Livy said that, to write Latin well, the writer should write it like Cicero; and Quintilian, the first of Latin critics, repeated to us what Livy had asserted.27 There is a sweetness of language about Cicero which runs into the very sound; so that passages read aright would, by their very cadences, charm the ear of listeners ignorant of the language. Eulogy never was so happy as his. Eulogy, however, is tasteless in comparison with invective. Cicero’s abuse is awful. Let the reader curious in such matters turn to the diatribes against Vatinius, one of Cæsar’s creatures, and to that against the unfortunate Proconsul Piso; or to his attacks on Gabinius, who was Consul together with Piso in the year of Cicero’s banishment. There are wonderful morsels in the philippics dealing with Antony’s private character; but the words which he uses against Gabinius and Piso beat all that I know elsewhere in the science of invective. Junius could not approach him; and even Macaulay, though he has, in certain passages, been very bitter, has not allowed himself the latitude which Roman taste and Roman manners permitted to Cicero.
It may, however, be said that the need of biographical memoirs as to a man of letters is by no means in proportion to the excellence of the work that he has achieved. Alexander is known but little to us, because we know so little of the details of his life. Cæsar is much to us, because we have in truth been made acquainted with him. But Shakspeare, of whose absolute doings we know almost nothing, would not be nearer or dearer had he even had a Boswell to paint his daily portrait. The man of letters is, in truth, ever writing his own biography. What there is in his mind is being declared to the world at large by himself; and if he can so write that the world at large shall care to read what is written, no other memoir will, perhaps, be necessary. For myself I have never regretted those details of Shakspeare’s life which a Boswell of the time might have given us. But Cicero’s personality as a man of letters seems especially to require elucidation. His letters lose their chief charm if the character of the man be not known, and the incidents of his life. His essays on rhetoric — the written lessons which he has left on the art of oratory — are a running commentary on his own career as an orator. Most of his speeches require for their understanding a knowledge of the circumstances of his life. The treatises which we know as his Philosophy — works which have been most wrongly represented by being grouped under that name — can only be read with advantage by the light of his own experience. There are two separate classes of his so-called Philosophy, in describing which the word philosophy, if it be used at all, must be made to bear two different senses. He handles in one set of treatises, not, I think, with his happiest efforts, the teaching of the old Greek schools. Such are the Tusculan Disquisitions, the Academics, and the De Finibus. From reading these, without reference to the idiosyncrasies of the writer, the student would be led to believe that Cicero himself was a philosopher after that sort. But he was, in truth, the last of men to lend his ears
“To those budge doctors of the stoic fur.”
Cicero was a man thoroughly human in all his strength and all his weakness. To sit apart from the world and be happy amid scorn, poverty, and obscurity, with a mess of cabbage and a crust, absolutely contented with abstract virtue, has probably been given to no man; but of none has it been less within the reach than of Cicero. To him ginger was always hot in the mouth, whether it was the spice of politics, or of social delight, or of intellectual enterprise. When in his deep sorrow at the death of his daughter, when for a time the Republic was dead to him, and public and private life were equally black, he craved employment. Then he took down his Greek manuscripts and amused himself as best he might by writing this way or that. It was a matter on which his intellect could work and his energies be employed, though the theory of his life was in no way concerned in it. Such was one class of his Philosophy. The other consisted of a code of morals which he created for himself by his own convictions, formed on the world around him, and which displayed itself in essays, such as those De Officiis — on the duties of life; De Senectute, De Amicitia — on old age and friendship, and the like, which were not only intended for use, but are of use to any man or woman who will study them up to this day. There are others, treatises on law and on government and religion, which have all been lumped together, for the misguidance of school-boys, under the name of Cicero’s Philosophy. But they, be they of one class or the other, require an understanding of the man’s character before they can be enjoyed.
For these reasons I think that there are incidents in the life, the character, and the work of Cicero which ought to make his biography interesting. His story is fraught with energy, with success, with pathos, and with tragedy. And then it is the story of a man human as men are now. No child of Rome ever better loved his country, but no child of Rome was ever so little like a Roman. Arms and battles were to him abominable, as they are to us. But arms and battles were the delight of Romans. He was ridiculed in his own time, and has been ridiculed ever since, for the alliterating twang of the line in which he declared his feeling:
“Cedant arma togæ; concedat laurea linguæ.”
But the thing said was thoroughly good, and the better because the opinion was addressed to men among whom the glory of arms was still in ascendant over the achievements of intellectual enterprise. The greatest men have been those who have stepped out from the mass, and gone beyond their time — seeing things, with eyesight almost divine, which have hitherto been hidden from the crowd. Such was Columbus when he made his way across the Western Ocean; such were Galileo and Bacon; such was Pythagoras, if the ideas we have of him be at all true. Such also was Cicero. It is not given to the age in which such men live to know them. Could their age even recognize them, they would not overstep their age as they do. Looking back at him now, we can see how like a Christian was the man — so like, that in essentials we can hardly see the difference. He could love another as himself — as nearly as a man may do; and he taught such love as a doctrine.28 He believed in the existence of one supreme God.29 He believed that man would rise again and live forever in some heaven.30 I am conscious that I cannot much promote this view of Cicero’s character by quoting isolated passages from his works — words which taken alone may be interpreted in one sense or another, and which should be read, each with its context, before their due meaning can be understood. But I may perhaps succeed in explaining to a reader what it is that I hope to do in the following pages, and why it is that I undertake a work which must be laborious, and for which many will think that there is no remaining need.
I would not have it thought that, because I have so spoken of Cicero’s aspirations and convictions, I intend to put him forth as a faultless personage in history. He was much too human to be perfect. Those who love the cold attitude of indifference may sing of Cato as perfect. Cicero was ambitious, and often unscrupulous in his ambition. He was a loving husband and a loving father; but at the end of his life he could quarrel with his old wife irrecoverably, and could idolize his daughter, while he ruined his son by indulgence. He was very great while he spoke of his country, which he did so often; but he was almost as little when he spoke of himself — which he did as often. In money-matters he was honest — for the times in which he lived, wonderfully honest; but in words he was not always equally trustworthy. He could flatter where he did not love. I admit that it was so, though I will not admit without a protest that the word insincere should be applied to him as describing his character generally. He was so much more sincere than others that the protest is needed. If a man stand but five feet eleven inches in his shoes, shall he be called a pygmy? And yet to declare that he measures full six feet would be untrue.
Cicero was a busybody. Were there anything to do, he wished to do it, let it be what it might. “Cedant arma togæ.” If anything was written on his heart, it was that. Yet he loved the idea of leading an army, and panted for a military triumph. Letters and literary life were dear to him, and yet he liked to think that he could live on equal terms with the young bloods of Rome, such as C[oe]lius. As far as I can judge, he cared nothing for luxurious eating and drinking, and yet he wished to be reckoned among the gormands and gourmets of his times. He was so little like the “budge doctors of the stoic fur,” of whom it was his delight to write when he had nothing else to do, that he could not bear any touch of adversity with equanimity. The stoic requires to be hardened against “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” It is his profession to be indifferent to the “whips and scorns of time.” No man was less hardened, or more subject to suffering from scorns and whips. There be those who think proneness to such suffering is unmanly, or that the sufferer should at any rate hide his agony. Cicero did not. Whether of his glory or of his shame, whether of his joy or of his sorrow, whether of his love or of his hatred, whether of his hopes or of his despair, he spoke openly, as he did of all things. It has not been the way of heroes, as we read of them; but it is the way with men as we live with them.
What a man he would have been for London life! How he would have enjoyed his club, picking up the news of the day from all lips, while he seemed to give it to all ears! How popular he would have been at the Carlton, and how men would have listened to him while every great or little crisis was discussed! How supreme he would have sat on the Treasury bench, or how unanswerable, how fatal, how joyous, when attacking the Government from the opposite seats! How crowded would have been his rack with invitations to dinner! How delighted would have been the middle-aged countesses of the time to hold with him mild intellectual flirtations — and the girls of the period, how proud to get his autograph, how much prouder to have touched the lips of the great orator with theirs! How the pages of the magazines would have run over with little essays from his pen! “Have you seen our Cicero’s paper on agriculture? That lucky fellow, Editor — — got him to do it last month!” “Of course you have read Cicero’s article on the soul. The bishops don’t know which way to turn.” “So the political article in the Quarterly is Cicero’s?” “Of course you know the art-criticism in the Times this year is Tully’s doing?” But that would probably be a bounce. And then what letters he would write! With the penny-post instead of travelling messengers at his command, and pen instead of wax and sticks, or perhaps with an instrument-writer and a private secretary, he would have answered all questions and solved all difficulties. He would have so abounded with intellectual fertility that men would not have known whether most to admire his powers of expression or to deprecate his want of reticence.
There will necessarily be much to be said of Cicero’s writings in the following pages, as it is my object to delineate the literary man as well as the politician. In doing this, there arises a difficulty as to the sequence in which his works should be taken. It will hardly suit the purpose in view to speak of them all either chronologically or separately as to their subjects. The speeches and the letters clearly require the former treatment as applying each to the very moment of time at which they were either spoken or written. His treatises, whether on rhetoric or on the Greek philosophy, or on government, or on morals, can best be taken apart as belonging in a very small degree, if at all, to the period in which they were written. I will therefore endeavor to introduce the orations and letters as the periods may suit, and to treat of his essays afterward by themselves.
A few words I must say as to the Roman names I have used in my narrative. There is a difficulty in this respect, because the practice of my boyhood has partially changed itself. Pompey used to be Pompey without a blush. Now with an erudite English writer he is generally Pompeius. The denizens of Africa — the “nigger” world — have had, I think, something to do with this. But with no erudite English writer is Terence Terentius, or Virgil Virgilius, or Horace Horatius. Were I to speak of Livius, the erudite English listener would think that I alluded to an old author long prior to our dear historian. And though we now talk of Sulla instead of Sylla, we hardly venture on Antonius instead of Antony. Considering all this, I have thought it better to cling to the sounds which have ever been familiar to myself; and as I talk of Virgil and of Horace and Ovid freely and without fear, so shall I speak also of Pompey and of Antony and of Catiline. In regard to Sulla, the change has been so complete that I must allow the old name to have reestablished itself altogether.
It has been customary to notify the division of years in the period of which I am about to write by dating from two different eras, counting down from the building of Rome, A.U.C., or “anno urbis conditæ,” and back from the birth of Christ, which we English mark by the letters B.C., before Christ. In dealing with Cicero, writers (both French and English) have not uncommonly added a third mode of dating, assigning his doings or sayings to the year of his age. There is again a fourth mode, common among the Romans, of indicating the special years by naming the Consuls, or one of them. “O nata mecum consule Manlio,” Horace says, when addressing his cask of wine. That was, indeed, the official mode of indicating a date, and may probably be taken as showing how strong the impression in the Roman mind was of the succession of their Consuls. In the following pages I will use generally the date B.C., which, though perhaps less simple than the A.U.C., gives to the mind of the modern reader a clearer idea of the juxtaposition of events. The reader will surely know that Christ was born in the reign of Augustus, and crucified in that of Tiberius; but he will not perhaps know, without the trouble of some calculation, how far removed from the period of Christ was the year 648 A.U.C., in which Cicero was born. To this I will add on the margin the year of Cicero’s life. He was nearly sixty-four when he died. I shall, therefore, call that year his sixty-third year.
1 Froude’s Cæsar, p. 444.
2 Ibid., p. 428.
3 Ad Att., lib. xiii., 28.
4 Ad Att., lib. ix., 10.
5 Froude, p. 365.
6 Ad Att., lib. ii., 5: “Quo quidem uno ego ab istis capi possum.”
7 The Cincian law, of which I shall have to speak again, forbade Roman advocates to take any payment for their services. Cicero expressly declares that he has always obeyed that law. He accused others of disobeying it, as, for instance, Hortensius. But no contemporary has accused him. Mr. Collins refers to some books which had been given to Cicero by his friend P[oe]tus. They are mentioned in a letter to Atticus, lib. i., 20; and Cicero, joking, says that he has consulted Cincius — perhaps some descendant of him who made the law 145 years before — as to the legality of accepting the present. But we have no reason for supposing that he had ever acted as an advocate for P[oe]tus.
8 Virgil, Æneid, i., 150:
“Ac, veluti magno in populo quum sæpe coorta est
Seditio, sævitque animis ignobile vulgus;
Jamque faces, et saxa volant; furor arma ministrat:
Tum, pietate gravem ac meritis si forte virum quem
Conspexere, silent, arrectisque auribus adstant;
Iste regit dictis animos, et pectora mulcet.”
9 The author is saying that a history from Cicero would have been invaluable, and the words are “interitu ejus utrum respublica an historia magis doleat.”
10 Quintilian tells us this, lib. ii., c. 5. The passage of Livy is not extant. The commentators suppose it to have been taken from a letter to his son.
11 Velleius Paterculus, lib. ii., c. 34.
12 Valerius Maximus, lib. iv., c. 2; 4.
13 Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. vii., xxxi., 30.
14 Martial, lib. xiv., 188.
15 Lucan, lib. vii., 62:
“Cunctorum voces Romani maximus auctor
Tullius eloquii, cujus sub jure togaque
Pacificas sævus tremuit Catilina secures,
Pertulit iratus bellis, cum rostra forumque
Optaret passus tam longa silentia miles
Addidit invalidæ robur facundia causæ.”
16 Tacitus, De Oratoribus, xxx.
17 Juvenal, viii., 243.
18 Demosthenes and Cicero compared.
19 Quintilian, xii., 1.
20 “Repudiatus vigintiviratus.” He refused a position of official value rendered vacant by the death of one Cosconius. See Letters to Atticus, 2,19.
21 Florus, lib. iv., 1. In a letter from Essex to Foulke Greville, the writing of which has been attributed to Bacon by Mr. Spedding, Florus is said simply to have epitomized Livy (Life, vol. ii., p. 23). In this I think that Bacon has shorn him of his honors.
22 Florus, lib. iv., 1.
23 Sallust, Catilinaria, xxiii.
24 I will add the concluding passage from the pseudo declamation, in order that the reader may see the nature of the words which were put into Sallust’s mouth: “Quos tyrannos appellabas, eorum nunc potentiæ faves; qui tibi ante optumates videbantur, eosdem nunc dementes ac furiosos vocas; Vatinii caussam agis, de Sextio male existumas; Bibulum petulantissumis verbis lædis, laudas Cæsarem; quem maxume odisti, ei maxume obsequeris. Aliud stans, aliud sedens, de republica sentis; his maledicis, illos odisti; levissume transfuga, neque in hac, neque illa parte fidem habes.” Hence Dio Cassius declared that Cicero had been called a turncoat. [Greek: kai automalos ônomazeto.]
25 Dio Cassius, lib. xlvi., 18: [Greek: pros hên kai autên toiautas epistolas grapheis hoias an grapseien anêr skôptolês athuroglôrros . . . kai proseti kai to stoma autou diaballein epecheirêse tosautê aselgeia kai akatharsia para panta ton bion chrômenos hôste mêde tôn sungenestatôn apechesthai, alla tên te gunaika proagôgeuein kai tên thugatera moicheuein.]
26 As it happens, De Quincey specially calls Cicero a man of conscience. “Cicero is one of the very few pagan statesmen who can be described as a thoroughly conscientious man,” he says. The purport of his illogical essay on Cicero is no doubt thoroughly hostile to the man. It is chiefly worth reading on account of the amusing virulence with which Middleton, the biographer, is attacked.
27 Quintilian, lib. ii., c. 5.
28 De Finibus, lib. v., ca. xxii.: “Nemo est igitur, qui non hanc affectionem animi probet atque laudet.”
29 De Rep., lib. vi., ca. vii.: “Nihil est enim illi principi deo, qui omnem hunc mundum regit, quod quidem in terris fiat acceptius.” Tusc. Quest., lib. i., ca. xxx.: “Vetat enim dominans ille in nobis deus.”
30 De Rep., lib. vi., ca. vii.: “Certum esse in c[oe]lo definitum locum, ubi beati ævo sempiterno fruantur.”
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01