Plutarch's Life of Cicero
Text taken from Thomas North and/or John Dryden
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C.-43 B.C.)
Reading for Lesson One
Prologue (A general introduction to Demosthenes and Cicero)
Whoever it was, Sosius, that wrote the poem in honour of Alcibiades, upon his winning the chariot race at the Olympian Games (whether it were Euripides, as is most commonly thought, or some other person), he tells us, that to a man's being happy it is in the first place requisite he should be born in "some famous city." But for him that would attain to true happiness, which for the most part is placed in the qualities and disposition of the mind, it is, in my opinion, of no disadvantage to be of a mean, obscure country [omission]…for virtue, like a strong and durable plant, may take root and thrive in any place where it can lay hold of an ingenuous nature, and a mind that is industrious.
I, for my part, shall desire that for any deficiency of mine in right judgment or action, I myself may be, as in fairness, held accountable, and shall not attribute it to the obscurity of my birthplace.
But if any man undertake to write a history that has to be collected from materials gathered by observation, and the reading of works not easy to be got in all places, nor written always in his own language, but many of them foreign and dispersed in other hands: for him, undoubtedly, it is in the first place and above all things most necessary to reside in some great and famous city thoroughly inhabited, where men do delight in good and virtuous things, because there are commonly plenty of all sorts of books, and upon inquiry may hear and inform himself of such particulars as, having escaped the pens of writers, are more faithfully preserved in the memories of men, lest his work be deficient in many things, even those which it can least dispense with.
But I myself, that dwell in a poor little town, and yet do remain there willingly lest it should become less: whilst I was in Italy, and at Rome, I had no leisure to study and exercise the Latin tongue, as well for the great business I had then to do, as also to satisfy them that came to learn philosophy of me; so that even somewhat too late, and now in my latter time, I began to take my Latin books in my hand. And thereby, a strange thing to tell you, but yet true: I learned not, nor understood matters so much by the words, as I came to understand the words by common experience and knowledge I had in things. But furthermore, to know how to pronounce the Latin tongue well, or to speak it readily, or to understand the signification, translations, and fine joining of the simple words one with another, which do beautify and set forth the tongue: surely I judge it to be a marvellous pleasant and sweet thing, but withal it requireth a long and laboursome study, meet for those that have better leisure than I have, and that have young years on their backs to follow such pleasure.
Therefore, in this present book, which is the fifth of this work, where I have taken upon me to compare the lives of noble men one with another: undertaking to write the lives of Demosthenes and Cicero, we will consider and examine their nature, manners and conditions, by their acts and deeds in the government of the commonwealth, not meaning otherwise to confer their works and writings of eloquence, neither to define which of them two was sharper or sweeter in his oration. The which Caecilius, little understanding, being a man very rash in all his doings, hath unadvisedly written and set forth in print, a comparison of Demosthenes' eloquence with Cicero's. But if it were an easy matter for every man to know himself, then the gods needed have given us no commandment, neither could men have said that it came from heaven.
The divine power seems originally to have designed Demosthenes and Cicero upon the same plan, giving them many similarities in their natural characters: as, both of them to be ambitious, both of them to love the liberty of their country, and both of them very fearful in any danger of wars. And likewise their fortunes seem to me, to be both much alike. For it is hard to find two orators again, who, from small and obscure beginnings, became so great and mighty; who both contested with kings and tyrants; [who] both lost their daughters; [who] were driven out of their country, and returned with honour; who, flying from thence again, were both seized upon by their enemies; and [who] at last ended their lives with the liberty of their countrymen. So that if we were to suppose there had been a trial of skill between Nature and Fortune, as there is sometimes between artists, it would be hard to judge whether the first succeeded best in making them alike in their dispositions and manners, or the second in the coincidences of their lives.
As touching Cicero's mother, whose name was Helvia, it is reported she was a gentlewoman born, and lived always very honestly: but for his father, the reports of him are diverse and infinite. For some say that he was born and brought up in a fuller's shop: others report that he came of Tullius Actius [or Attius], an illustrious king of the Volscians, who waged war, not without honour, against the Romans. But surely it seems to me, that the first of that name called Cicero, was some famous man, and that for his sake his offspring continued still that surname, and were glad to keep it, though many men scorned it, because Cicer in English signifieth a rich pease. That Cicero had a thing upon the tip of his nose, as it had been a little wart, much like to a rich pease, whereupon they surnamed him Cicero. But this Cicero, whose life we write of now, nobly answered certain of his friends on a time giving him counsel to change his name, when he first made suit for office, and began to practise in matters of state: that he would endeavour himself to make the name of the Ciceros more noble and famous than the Scauri, or Catuli. And when he was quaestor in Sicily, he gave an offering of certain silver plate unto the gods, and at large engraved on it his two first names, Marcus Tullius: and in place of his third name, he pleasantly commanded the workman to cut out the form and fashion of a rich pease. Thus much they write of his name.
Now for his birth, it was said that his mother was brought abed of him without any pain, the third day of January, the same day on which now the magistrates of Rome pray and sacrifice for the emperor. It is said, also, that a vision appeared to his nurse, which foretold that he should afterwards do great good unto all the Romans. Now though such things may seem but dreams and fables unto many, yet Cicero himself shortly after proved this prophecy true. For as soon as he was of an age to begin to have lessons, he became so distinguished for his talent, and got such a name and reputation amongst the boys, that their fathers would often visit the school that they might see young Cicero, and might be able to say that they themselves had witnessed the quickness and readiness in learning for which he was renowned. But others of the rude and baser sort of men were offended with their sons, because to honour Cicero, they did always put him in the midst between them, as they went in the streets.
Cicero indeed had such a natural wit and understanding, as Plato thought meet for learning, and apt for the study of philosophy. For he gave himself to all kinds of knowledge, and there was no art, nor any of the liberal sciences, that he disdained: notwithstanding in his first young years he was apter, and better disposed to the study of poetry, than any other. There is a pretty poem of his in verses of eight staves, called "Pontius Glaucus," extant at this day, which he made when he was but a boy. After that, being given more earnestly unto this study, he was not only thought the best orator, but the best poet also of all the Romans in his time: and yet doth the excellency of his eloquence, and commendation of his tongue continue, even to this day, notwithstanding the great alteration and change of the Latin tongue. But his poetry hath lost the name and estimation of it, because there were many after him that became far more excellent therein than he.
After he had left his childish studies, he became then a scholar of Philo, the Academic philosopher [omission]. He gave himself also to be a follower of the Mucii, who were eminent statesmen and leaders in the Senate, and acquired from them a knowledge of the laws.. He did also follow Sulla for a time, in the Marsic war. But when he saw that the commonwealth of Rome fell to civil wars, and from civil wars to a monarchy: then he returned again to his book and contemplative life, and studied with the learned men of Greece [omission].
About that time, Sulla causing the goods of one that was said to be have been put to death by proscription, to be sold by the crier: Chrysogonus, one of Sulla's freed slaves, and in great favour with his master, bought them for the sum of two thousand drachmas. And when Roscius, the son and heir of the dead, complained, and demonstrated the estate to be worth two hundred and fifty talents, Sulla took it angrily to have his actions questioned, and procured Chrysogonus to accuse him (Roscius), that he had killed his own father. Never an orator dared speak in Roscius' behalf to defend his cause, but shrunk in fear, fearing Sulla's cruelty and severity.
The young man, being thus deserted, came for refuge to Cicero. Cicero's friends encouraged him, saying he was not likely ever to have a fairer and more honourable introduction to public life. Thereupon Cicero determined to take his cause in hand, and did handle it so well, that he obtained the thing he sued for: whereby he won him great fame and credit. But fearing Sulla, he travelled into Greece, and gave it out that he did so for the benefit of his health. Indeed Cicero was dog-lean, a little eater, and would also eat late, because of the great weakness of his stomach. His voice was loud and good, but so harsh and unmanaged that in vehemence and heat of speaking he always raised it to so high a tone that there seemed to be reason to fear about his health.
When he came to Athens, he went to hear Antiochus of Ascalon, and fell in great liking with his sweet tongue, and excellent grace, though otherwise he misliked his new opinions in philosophy. For Antiochus had now fallen off from the New Academy, as they call it [omission], and in most things had embraced the doctrine of the Stoics. But Cicero rather affected and adhered to the doctrines of the New Academy; and did study that sect more than all the rest, of purpose: so that if he were forbidden to practise in the commonwealth at Rome, he would then go to Athens (leaving all pleas and orators in the commonwealth) to bestow the rest of his time quietly in the study of philosophy.
At length, when he heard news of Sulla's death, and saw that his body was grown to good state and health by exercise, and that his voice became daily more and more to fill men's ears with a sweet and pleasant sound, and yet was loud enough for the constitution of his body; receiving letters daily from his friends at Rome, that prayed him to return home, and moreover, Antiochus himself also earnestly persuading him to practise in the commonwealth: he began again to fall to the study of rhetoric, and to frame himself to be eloquent, being a necessary thing for an orator, and did continually exercise himself in making orations upon any speech or proposition, and so frequented the chief orators and masters of eloquence that were at that time. He sailed from Athens for Asia and Rhodes [omission]; at Rhodes, he studied oratory with Apollonius Molon, and philosophy with Posidonius.
Apollonius, we are told, not understanding Latin, requested Cicero to declaim in Greek. He complied willingly, thinking that his faults would thus be better pointed out to him. And after he finished, all his other hearers were astonished, and contended who should praise him most, but Apollonius, who had shown no signs of excitement whilst he was hearing him, so also now, when it was over, sat musing for some considerable time, without any remark. And when Cicero was discomposed at this, he said, "You have my praise and admiration, Cicero, and Greece my pity and commiseration, since those arts and that eloquence which are the only glories that remain to her, will now be transferred by you to Rome."
Reading for Lesson Two
And now when Cicero, full of expectations, was again bent upon political affairs, a certain oracle blunted the edge of his inclination; for consulting the god of Delphi how he should attain most glory, the Pythoness answered "by making his own genius and not the opinion of the people the guide of his life"; and therefore at first he passed his time in Rome cautiously, and was very backward in pretending to public offices, so that he was at that time in little esteem, and had got the nicknames, so readily given by low and ignorant people in Rome, of "Greek" and "Scholar." But when his own desire of fame and the eagerness of his father and relations had made him take in earnest to pleading, he made no slow or gentle advance to the first place, but so soon as he fell to practise, he was immediately esteemed above all the other orators and pleaders in his time, and did excel them all.
At first, it is said, he (like Demosthenes) was defective in his delivery, and on that account he paid much attention to the instructions, sometimes of Roscius the comedian, and sometimes of Aesop the tragedian. They tell of this Aesop, that whilst he was playing Atreus deliberating the revenge of his brother Thyestes, he was so transported beyond himself in the heat of action, that he struck with his scepter one of the servants, who was running across the stage, so violently that he laid him dead upon the place. And such afterwards was Cicero's delivery that it did not a little contribute to render his eloquence persuasive. He used to ridicule loud speakers, saying that they shouted because they could not speak [omission]. Truly pleasant taunts do grace an orator, and show a fine wit: but yet Cicero used them so commonly, that they were offensive unto many, and brought him to be counted a malicious scoffer and spiteful man.
He was appointed quaestor when there was great scarcity of corn at Rome, and the province of Sicily fell to his lot. At his first coming thither, the Sicilians misliked him very much, because he compelled them to send corn unto Rome: but after they had found his diligence, justice, and lenity, they honoured him above any governor that ever was sent from Rome. It happened, also, that some young Romans of good and noble families, charged with neglect of discipline and misconduct in military service, were brought before the praetor in Sicily. Cicero undertook their defense, which he conducted admirably, and got them acquitted.
So returning to Rome with a great opinion of himself for these things, a ludicrous incident befell him, as he tells us himself. Meeting an eminent citizen in Campania, whom he accounted his friend, he asked him what the Romans said and thought of his actions, as if the whole city had been filled with the glory of what he had done. His friend asked him again: "And where hast thou been, Cicero, all this while, that we have not seen thee at Rome?" This killed his heart straight, when he saw that the report of his name and doings, entering into the city of Rome as into an infinite sea, was so suddenly vanquished away again, without any other fame or speech. But after that, when he looked into himself, and saw that in reason he took an infinite labour in hand to attain to glory, wherein he saw no certain end whereby to attain unto it: it cut off a great part of the ambition he had in his head. And yet the great pleasure he took to hear his own praise, and continued to the very last to be passionately fond of glory: those two things continued with him even to his dying day, and did later make him swerve from justice.
On beginning to apply himself more resolutely to public business, he thought it an ill thing that artificers and craftsmen should have many sorts of instruments and tools without life, to know the names of every one of them, the places where they should take them, and the use whereto they should employ them: and yet that a man of knowledge and quality (who doth all things with the help and service of men) should be negligent and careless in the knowledge of persons. And so he not only acquainted himself with the names, but also knew the particular places where every one of the more eminent citizens dwelt, what lands he possessed, the friends he made use of, and those that were of his neighbourhood, and when he travelled on any road in Italy, he could readily name and show the estates and seats of his friends and acquaintance.
He was not very rich, and yet he had enough to serve his turn: the which made men muse the more at him, and they loved him the better, because he took no fee nor gift for his pleading, what cause soever he had in hand, and more especially that he did not do so when he undertook the prosecution of Verres. This Verres had been praetor of Sicily, and had committed many evil practices there, for the which the Sicilians did accuse him. Cicero, taking upon him to defend their cause, made Verres to be condemned, not by speaking, but in a manner by holding his tongue. The praetors being his judges, and favouring Verres, had made so many adjournments and delays, that they had driven it off to the last day of hearing. Cicero perceiving then he should not have daylight to speak all that he had to say against him, and that thereby nothing should be done and judged: he rose up, and said there was no need of speeches; and after producing and examining witnesses, he required the judges to proceed to sentence.
[omission of certain "witty sayings" made during the trial]
In the end, Verres was convicted; though Cicero, who set the fine at seventy-five myriads, lay under the suspicion of being corrupted by bribery to lessen the sum. But the Sicilians, in testimony of their gratitude, came and brought him all sorts of presents from the island, when he was aedile; of which he made no private profit himself, but used their generosity only to reduce the public price of provisions.
Cicero had a very pleasant seat at Arpi; he had also a farm near Naples, and another about Pompeii; but neither of any great value. Afterwards also he had the jointure of his wife Terentia, which amounted to the sum of twelve myriads (Dryden says ten), and besides all this, he had a bequest valued at nine myriads of denarii; upon those he lived in a liberal but temperate style with the learned Greeks and Romans that were his familiars He rarely, if at any time, sat down to meat till sunset, and that not so much on account of business, as for his health and the weakness of his stomach. He was otherwise in the care of his body nice and delicate, appointing himself, for example, a set number of walks and rubbings. And after this manner managing the habit of his body, he brought it in time to be healthful, and capable of supporting many great fatigues and trials.
His father's house he made over to his brother, living himself near the Palatine Hill, because such as came to wait upon him to do him honour, should not take the pains to go so far to see him. For he had as many men daily at his gate every morning, as either Crassus had for his wealth, or Pompey for his estimation among the soldiers, both of them being at that time the chiefest men of Rome. Nay, even Pompey himself used to pay court to Cicero, and Cicero's public actions did much to establish Pompey's authority and reputation in the state.
Reading for Lesson Three
Numerous distinguished competitors stood with him for the praetor's office, yet was he first chosen before them all; and he did so honestly behave himself in that office, that they did not so much as once suspect him of bribery or extortion. And for proof hereof, it is reported, that Licinius Macer (a man that of himself was of great power, and yet favoured and supported besides by Crassus) was accused before Cicero of theft and extortion in his office; but he, trusting much to his supposed credit, and to the great suit and labour his friends made for him, Licinius went home to his house before sentence proceeded against him (the judges being yet to give their opinions), and there speedily trimmed his beard, and put a new gown upon his back, as though he had been sure to have been quit of his accusation, and then returned again into the marketplace. But Crassus went to meet him, and told him all the judges had condemned him. Licinius Macer took such a grief and conceit upon it, that he went home to his house again, laid him down on his bed, and never rose after. This judgement won Cicero great fame, for they praised him exceedingly for the great pains he took to see justice duly executed.
[omission of another case]
Towards the end of his office, two or three days before his time expired, Manilius was brought before him, and charged with peculation. This Manilius was very well beloved of the common people, who were persuaded that he was put in suit not for any fault he had committed, but only to despite Pompey with, whose familiar friend he was. So he required certain days to answer the matter he was accused of; but Cicero would give him no further respite, but [required him] to answer it the next day. The people therewith were marvellously offended, because the other praetors in such cases were accustomed to give ten days' respite to others.
The next morning when the tribunes had brought him before the judges, and also accused him unto them: he besought Cicero to hear him patiently. Cicero said that as he had always treated the accused with equity and humanity, as far as the law allowed, so he thought it hard to deny the same to Manilius, and that he had studiously appointed that day of which alone, as praetor, he was master; and that it was not the part of those that were desirous to help him to cast the judgment of his cause upon another praetor. These words did marvellously change the peoples' opinion and affection towards him, and every man speaking well of him, they prayed him to defend Manilius' cause. He willingly granted it to them: and coming from the bench, standing at the bar like an orator to plead for him, he made a notable oration, and spoke both boldly and sharply against the chief men of the city and on those who were jealous of Pompey.
Yet he was preferred to the consulship no less by the nobles than the common people, for the good of the city; and both parties jointly assisted his promotion upon the following reasons. The change and alteration of government, which Sulla brought in, was thought strange at the first among the people: but now men by process of time being used to it, it was thoroughly established, and no man misliked it. At that time many men practised to subvert the government, not for the benefit of the commonwealth, but to serve their own covetous minds. For Pompey being then in the east parts, made wars with the kings of Pontus and Armenia, and had not left sufficient force at Rome to oppress these seditious persons that sought nothing but rebellion. These men had made Lucius Catiline their captain: a desperate man who would attempt any great enterprise, subtle, and malicious of nature.
[a "wise and necessary omission" about the nasty vices of Catiline]
Furthermore all Tuscany began to revolt, and the most part of Gaul also, lying between the Alps and Italy. The city of Rome itself was also in great danger of an uprising, on account of the unequal distribution of wealth and property, those of highest rank and greatest spirit having impoverished themselves by shows, entertainments, ambition of offices, and sumptuous buildings, and the riches of the city having thus fallen into the hands of mean men and low-born persons. So that there wanted but a slight impetus to set all in motion, it being in the power of every daring man to overturn a sickly commonwealth.
Catiline, however, being desirous of procuring a strong position to carry out his designs, stood for the consulship, and had great hopes of success, thinking he should be appointed, with Gaius Antonius as his colleague, who was a man fit to lead neither in a good cause nor in a bad one, but might be a valuable accession to another's power. Divers noble and wise men foreseeing that, did procure Cicero to sue for the consulship. The people accepted him, and rejected Catiline. Antonius and Cicero thereupon were created consuls, although Cicero, of all the suitors for the consulship, was but only of the equestrian class and not of the senatores.
Though the designs of Catiline were not yet publicly known, even at the beginning of Cicero's consulship there fell out great trouble and contention in the commonwealth. For, one the one side, those who were disqualified by the laws of Sulla from holding any public offices (who were no small men, neither few in number) began to creep into the people's goodwill, speaking many things truly and justly against the tyranny of Sulla, only that they disturbed the government at an improper and unseasonable time. On the other hand, the tribunes of the people proposed laws to the same purpose, constituting a commission of ten persons, with unlimited powers, in whom as supreme governors should be vested the right of selling the public lands of all Italy and Syria, and also through all the countries and provinces which Pompey had newly conquered to the empire of Rome: to sell, and release all the lands belonging to the state of Rome, to accuse any man whom they thought good, to banish any man, to restore the colonies with people, to take what money they would out of the treasury, to levy men of war, and to keep them in pay as long as they thought good.
For this great and absolute power of the Decemviri, there were many men of great account that favoured this law, but chiefly Antonius, being colleague and fellow consul with Cicero, for he had good hope to be chosen one of these ten commissioners; and furthermore, it was thought that he was privy unto Catiline's conspiracy, and that he misliked it not, because he was so much in debt. And this [his being chosen as one of the ten] was the thing that the noblemen most feared. Thereupon Cicero, [in an attempt] to prevent this danger, granted Antonius [the governorship of] Macedonia; and the province of Gaul being offered unto himself, he refused it. And this piece of favour so completely won over Antonius, that he was ready to second and respond to, like a hired player, whatever Cicero said for the good of the country. And now, having made his colleague thus tame and tractable, he could with greater courage attack the conspirators.
And therefore, in the Senate, making an oration against the law of the ten commissioners, he so confounded those who proposed it, that they had nothing to reply. And when they again endeavoured, and, having prepared things beforehand, had called the consuls before the assembly of the people, Cicero, fearing nothing, went first out, and commanded the Senate to follow him, and not only succeeded in throwing out the law, but so entirely overpowered the tribunes by his oratory [North: he struck them so dead with his eloquence] that they abandoned all thought of their other projects.
For Cicero only, of all men in Rome, made the Romans know how much eloquence doth grace and beautify that which is honest, and how invincible right and justice are, being eloquently set forth; and also how that a man that will be counted a wise governor of a commonwealth, should always in his doings rather prefer profit, than to seek to curry favour with the common people: yet so to use his words, that the thing which is profitable may not be also unpleasant.
[omission for length]
Reading for Lesson Four
The conspirators with Catiline, at first cowed and disheartened, began presently to take courage again. And assembling themselves together, they exhorted one another boldly to undertake the design before Pompey's return, who was said to be on the way towards Rome with his army.
But besides them, those soldiers that had served before in the wars under Sulla, being dispersed up and down Italy (but specially the best soldiers among them dwelling in the cities of Etruria) did stir up Catiline to hasten the enterprise, persuading themselves that they should once again have goods enough at hand to spoil and ransack at their pleasure. These soldiers having Manilius as their captain, that had borne office in the field under Sulla, conspired with Catiline, and came to Rome to assist him in his suit: who purposed once again to demand the consulship, being determined at the election to kill Cicero in the tumult and hurly burly. The gods also did plainly show by earthquakes, lightning and thunder, and by vision of spirits that did appear, the secret practise and conspiracy: besides also, there fell out manifest conjectures and proofs by men that came to reveal them, though not sufficient for the conviction of the noble and powerful Catiline.
Cicero therefore deferring the day of election, called Catiline into the Senate, and there did examine him of that which was reported of him. Catiline supposing there were many in the Senate that had goodwills to rebel, and also because he would show himself ready unto them that were of his conspiracy, returned an audacious answer. "What harm," said he, "when I see two bodies, the one lean and rotten with a head, the other great and strong without one, if I put a head to that body which wants one?" He meant, under this dark answer, to signify the people and the Senate.
This answer being made, Cicero was more afraid than before, insomuch that he put on armour for the safety of his body, and was accompanied with the chiefest men of Rome, and a great number of young men besides, going with him from his house unto the Field of Mars, where the elections were made. Here, designedly letting his tunic slip partly off from his shoulders, he showed his armour underneath, and discovered his danger to the spectators. Every man misliked it when they saw it, and came about him to defend him, if any offered to assail him. But it so came to pass, that by voices of the people, Catiline was again rejected from the consulship, and Silanus and Murena were chosen consuls.
Not long after this, Catiline's soldiers got together in a body in Etruria, and began to form themselves into companies, the day appointed for the design being near at hand. About midnight, there came three of the chiefest men of Rome to Cicero's house: Marcus Crassus, Marcus Marcellus, and Scipio Metellus). Knocking at his gate, they called his porter, and bade him wake his master presently, and tell him how they three were at the gate to speak with him, about a matter of importance. At night after supper, Crassus' porter had brought his master a packet of letters, delivered him by a stranger unknown, which were directed unto divers persons, among the which one of them had no name subscribed, but was only directed unto Crassus himself. The effect of his letter was, that there should be a great slaughter in Rome made by Catiline, and therefore he prayed him that he would depart out of Rome to save himself. Crassus having read his own letter, would not open the rest, but went forthwith unto Cicero, partly for fear of the danger, and partly also to clear himself of the suspicion they had of him for the friendship that was betwixt him and Catiline.
Cicero counselling with them what was to be done, the next morning assembled the Senate very early, and carrying the letters with him, he did deliver them according to their direction, and commanded they should read them out aloud. All these letters, and every one of them particularly, did bewray the conspiracy. Furthermore, Quintus Arrius, a man of authority, and that had been praetor, told openly about the soldiers and men of war collecting in companies in Etruria. And it was reported also, that Manilius was in the field with a great number of soldiers about the cities of Tuscany, gaping daily to hear news of some change at Rome. All these things being thoroughly considered, a decree passed by the Senate, that they should refer the care of the commonwealth unto the consuls [Cicero and Antonius], to the end that with absolute authority they might (as well as they could) provide for the safety and preservation thereof. Such manner of decree and authority, was not often seen concluded of in the Senate, but in a time of present fear and danger.
After Cicero had received this power, he committed all affairs outside to Quintus Metellus, but the management of the city he kept in his own hands. Such a numerous attendance guarded him every day when he went abroad, that the greatest part of the marketplace was filled with his train when he entered it.
Catiline, impatient of further delay, resolved himself to break forth and go to Manilius, where their army lay. But before he departed, he had drawn into his confederacy one Martius, and another called Cethegus, whom he commanded to go early in the morning to Cicero's house with short daggers to kill him, pretending to come to salute him, and to give him a good morrow. But there was a noblewoman of Rome, called Fulvia, who went overnight unto Cicero, and bade him beware of that Cethegus, who indeed came the next morning betimes unto him: but being denied to be let in, he began to chafe and rail before the gate. This made him the more to be suspected.
In the end Cicero coming out of his house, called the Senate to the temple of Jupiter Stator, which standeth at the upper end of the Sacred Street, going up to the Palatine. There was Catiline with others, as though he meant to clear himself of the suspicion that went of him: howbeit there was not a senator that would sit down by him, but they did all rise from the bench where Catiline had taken his place. And further, when he began to speak, he could have no audience for the great noise they made against him. So at length Cicero rose, and commanded him to leave the city: saying, that there must needs be a separation of walls between them two, considering that the one used but words, and the other force of arms. Catiline thereupon immediately departing the city with three hundred armed men, was no sooner out of the precinct of the walls, but he made his sergeants carry axes and bundles of rods before him, as if he had been a consul lawfully created, and did display his ensigns of war, and so went in this order to seek Manilius. And having got together a body of near twenty thousand men, with these he marched to the several cities, endeavouring to persuade or force them to revolt.
So it being now come to open war, Antonius (Cicero's colleague and fellow consul) was sent forth to fight him.
Reading for Lesson Five
The remainder of those in the city whom he had corrupted, Publius Cornelius Lentulus (#1) kept together and encouraged. He had the surname Sura, and was of a noble family, but for his debauchery had been turned out of the Senate. He was now holding the office of praetor for the second time, as the custom is with those who desire to regain the dignity of senator.
[Omission for length: how Lentulus got his nickname "Sura."]
This man, such in his own nature, and now inflamed by Catiline, false prophets and fortune-tellers had also corrupted with vain hopes, quoting to him fictitious verses and oracles, and proving from the Sibylline prophecies that there were three of the name Cornelius designed by fate to be monarchs of Rome; two of whom, Cinna and Sulla, had already fulfilled the decree, and that divine fortune was now advancing with the gift of monarchy for the remaining third "Cornelius"; and that therefore he ought by all means to accept it, and not lose opportunity by delay, as Catiline had done. He therefore designed no mean or trivial matter, but intended to kill the whole Senate, and as many other citizens as they could murder, and to set fire to Rome, sparing none but Pompey's sons, whom they would reserve for pledges, to make their peace afterwards with Pompey. (For the rumor was very great and certain also, that Pompey had returned from very great wars and conquests which he had made in the Eastern countries.)
The night appointed for the design was one of the Saturnalia. Swords, flax, and sulfur they carried and hid in the house of Cethegus; and providing one hundred men, and dividing the city into as many parts, they had allotted to every one singly his proper place, so that in a moment, many kindling the fire, the city might be in a flame all together. Other men also were appointed to stop the pipes and water conduits which brought water to Rome, and to kill those also that came for water to quench the fire. Whilst these plans were preparing, it happened there were two ambassadors from the Allobroges staying in Rome; a nation at that time in a distressed condition, and very uneasy under the Roman government. These Lentulus (#1) and his party judging useful instruments to move and seduce Gaul to revolt, admitted into the conspiracy, and they gave them letters to their own magistrates, and letters to Catiline; in the first they promised liberty, in the others they exhorted Catiline to set all slaves free, and to bring them along with him to Rome. They sent also to accompany them to Catiline, one Titus, a native of Croton, who was to carry those letters to him.
[These attempts to involve the ambassadors] [omission] were easily found out by Cicero: who had a careful eye upon [the conspirators], and very wisely and discreetly saw through them. For he had appointed men out of the city to spy their doings, which followed them to see what they intended. Furthermore he spoke secretly with some he trusted (the which others also took to be of the conspiracy) and knew by them that Lentulus and Cethegus had practised with the ambassadors of the Allobroges, and drawn them into their conspiracy. At length he watched them one night so narrowly, that he took the ambassadors, and Titus Crotonian with the letters he carried, by help of the ambassadors of the Allobroges, which had secretly informed him of all before.
The next morning by break of day, Cicero assembled the Senate in the Temple of Concord, and there openly read the letters, and heard the evidence of the witnesses. Further, there was one Junius Silanus, a senator that gave in evidence, that some heard Cethegus say they should kill three consuls, and four praetors. Pisa, a senator also, and that had been consul, told in manner the selfsame tale. And Gaius Sulpitius, a praetor, that was sent into Cethegus' house, reported that he had found great store of darts, armour, daggers and swords new made. Lastly [came Titus Crotonian], the Senate having promised [him] he should have no hurt, if he would tell what he knew of this conspiracy.
Lentulus thereby was convicted, and driven to give up his office of praetor before the Senate, and changing his purple gown, to take another meet for his miserable state. This being done, Lentulus and his consorts were taken to the praetors' houses, and put in their custody.
Now growing towards evening, the people waiting about the place where the Senate was assembled, Cicero at length came out, and told them what they had done within. Thereupon he was conveyed by all the people unto the house of a friend and near neighbour; for his own house was occupied by the women, who were celebrating with secret rites the feast of the goddess whom the Romans call the Good, and the Greeks the Women's goddess. For a sacrifice is annually performed to her in the consul's house, either by his wife or mother, in the presence of the Vestal Nuns.
Now Cicero being come into his neighbour's house, began to bethink him what course he were best to take in this matter. For, to punish the offenders with severity, according to their deserts, he was afraid to do it: both because he was of a courteous nature, as also for that he would not seem to be glad to have occasion to show his absolute power and authority, to punish (as he might) with rigour, citizens that were of the noblest houses of the city, and that had besides many friends. And contrariwise also, being remiss in so weighty a matter as this, he was afraid of the danger that might ensue of their rashness, mistrusting that if he should punish them with less than death, they would not amend for it, imagining they were well rid of their trouble, but would rather become more bold and desperate than ever they were: adding moreover the sting and spite of a new malice unto their accustomed wickedness; besides that he himself should be thought a coward and a timorous man, whereas they had already not much better opinion of him.
Cicero being perplexed thus with these doubts, there appeared a miracle to the ladies doing sacrifice in his house. For on the altar, where the fire seemed wholly extinguished, a great and bright flame issued forth from the ashes of the burnt wood; at which others were affrighted. Howbeit the Vestal Nuns willed Terentia (Cicero's wife) to go straight unto her husband, and to bid him not to be afraid to execute that boldly which he had considered of, for the benefit of his country; and that the goddess had raised this great flame to show him that he should have great honour by doing of it.
Terentia, therefore, as she was otherwise in her own nature neither tender-hearted nor timorous, but a woman eager for distinction (who, as Cicero himself says, would rather thrust herself into his public affairs than communicate her domestic matters to him), told him these things, and excited him against the conspirators. The like did Quintus Cicero his brother, and also Publius Nigidius, one of his philosophical friends, whom he often made use of in his greatest and most weighty affairs of state.
The next day, a debate arising in the Senate about the punishment of the men, Silanus, being the first who was asked his opinion, said it was fit they should be all sent to the prison, and from thence to suffer execution. Others likewise that followed him, were all of that mind, except for Gaius Caesar, that afterwards came to be dictator. He was then but a young man, and only at the outset of his career, but had already directed his hopes and policy to that course by which he afterwards changed the Roman state into a monarchy. For at that time, Cicero had vehement suspicions of Caesar, but no apparent proof to convince him. And some say, that it was brought so near, as he was almost convicted, but yet saved himself. Others write to the contrary, that Cicero wittingly dissembled that he either heard or knew any signs which were told him against Caesar, being afraid indeed of his friends and power; for it was very evident to everybody that if Caesar was to be accused with the conspirators, they were more likely to be saved with him, than he to be punished with them.
Now when Caesar came to deliver his opinion touching the punishment of these prisoners: he stood up and said that he did not think it good to put them to death, but to confiscate their goods: and as for their persons, that they should bestow them in prison, some in one place, some in another, in such cities of Italy, as pleased Cicero best, until the war of Catiline were ended. This sentence being very mild, and the author thereof marvellous eloquent to make it good: Cicero himself gave no small weight, for he stood up and, turning the scale on either side, spoke in favour partly of the former, partly of Caesar's sentence.
His friends thinking that Caesar's opinion was the safest for Cicero, because thereby he should deserve less blame for that he had not put the prisoners to death: they followed rather the second. Whereupon Sullanus also recanted that which he had spoken, and expounded his opinion: saying, that when he spoke they should be put to death, he meant nothing so, but thought the last punishment a senator of Rome could have was the prison.
But the first that contraried this opinion, was Catulus Lutatius, and after him Cato, who with vehement words enforced the suspicion of Caesar, and furthermore filled all the Senate with wrath and courage: so that even upon the instant it was decreed by most voices, that they should suffer death. But Caesar opposed the confiscation of their goods, not thinking it fair that those who rejected the mildest part of his sentence should avail themselves of the severest. And when many insisted upon it, he appealed to the tribunes, but they would do nothing; till Cicero himself yielding, remitted that part of the sentence.
Reading for Lesson Six
Cicero went with the Senate to fetch the prisoners: who were not all in one house, but every praetor had one of them. So he went first to take Lentulus (#1) from the Palatine, and brought him through the Sacred Street and the marketplace, accompanied with the chiefest men of the city, who compassed him round about, and guarded his person. The people seeing that, quaked and trembled with fear, passed by, and said never a word: and specially the young men, as if, with fear and trembling, they were undergoing a rite of initiation into some ancient sacred mysteries of aristocratic power.
So when he had passed through the marketplace, and was come to the prison, he delivered Lentulus into the hands of the hangman, and commanded him to do execution. Afterwards also Cethegus, and then all the rest one after another, whom he brought to the prison himself, and caused them to be executed. Furthermore, seeing many of the conspirators in a troop together in the marketplace, who knew nothing of what he had done, and watched only till night were come, supposing then to take away their companions by force from the place where they were, thinking they were yet alive: he called out in a loud voice, and said, "They did live"; for so the Romans, to avoid inauspicious language, name those that are dead.
When night was come, and that he was going homeward, as he came through the marketplace, the people did wait upon him no more with silence as before, but with great cries of his praise, and clapping of hands in every place he went; they called him "saviour," and "second founder of Rome." Besides all this, at every man's door there were torches lighted, so that it was as light in the streets as at noonday. The very women also did put lights out of the tops of their houses to do him honour, and also to see him so nobly brought home, with such a long train of the chiefest men of the city.
They said that the Romans were greatly bound to many captains and generals of armies in their time, for the wonderful riches, spoils, and increase of their power which they had won: howbeit that they were to thank Cicero only for their health and preservation, having saved them from so great and extreme a danger. For though it might seem no wonderful thing to prevent the design, and punish the conspirators, yet to defeat the greatest of all conspiracies with so little disturbance, trouble, and commotion, was very extraordinary. For the most part of them that were gathered together about Catiline, when they heard that Lentulus and all the rest were put to death, they presently forsook him: and Catiline himself, with his remaining forces, joining battle with Antonius (#1), was destroyed with his army.
And yet there were some who were very ready both to speak ill of Cicero, and to do him hurt for these actions; and they had for their leaders some of the magistrates of the coming year, such as Caesar, who was one of the praetors, and Metellus and Bestia, the tribunes. These, entering upon their office some few days before Cicero's consulate expired, would not permit him to make any address to the people, but throwing the benches before the speaker's platform, hindered his speaking, telling him he might, if he pleased, make the oath of withdrawal from office, and then come down again. Cicero, accordingly, accepting the conditions, came forward to make his withdrawal; and silence being made, he recited his oath, not in the usual, but in a new and peculiar form, namely, that he had saved his country and preserved the empire; the truth of which oath all the people confirmed with theirs. Caesar and the tribunes, all the more exasperated by this, endeavoured to create him further trouble, and for this purpose proposed a law for calling Pompey home with his army, to put an end to Cicero's "usurpation."
But it was a very great advantage for Cicero and the whole commonwealth that Cato was at that time one of the tribunes. For he, being of equal power with the rest, and of greater reputation, could oppose their designs. He easily defeated their other projects, and in an oration to the people so highly extolled Cicero's consulate, that the greatest honours were decreed him, and he was publicly declared the "Father of the Country," which title he seems to have obtained, the first man who did so, when Cato gave it to him in this address to the people.
At this time, therefore, his authority was very great in the city; but he created himself much envy, and offended very many, not by any evil action, but only because he too did too much boast of himself. For he never was in any assembly of people, Senate, or judgement, but every man's head was full still to hear the sound of Catulus and Lentulus (#1) brought in for sport, and filling the books and works he compiled besides full of his own praises: the which made his sweet and pleasant style tedious, and troublesome to those that heard them, as though this misfortune ever followed him to take away his excellent grace.
Nevertheless, though he was intemperately fond of his own glory, he was very free from envying others, and was, on the contrary, most liberally profuse in commending both the ancients and his contemporaries, as anyone may see in his writings. And many such sayings of his are also remembered; as that he called Aristotle a river of flowing gold; and said of Plato's dialogues, that if Jupiter were to speak, it would be in language like theirs. Of Theophrastus, he was wont to call him his delight; and of Demosthenes' orations, when one asked him on a time which of them he liked best: "The longest," said he.
And yet some affected imitators of Demosthenes have complained of some words that occur in one of his letters, to the effect that Demosthenes sometimes falls asleep in his speeches; forgetting the many high encomiums he continually passes upon him, and the compliment he paid him when he named the most elaborate of all his own orations, those he wrote against Mark Antony, the "Philippics."
[omission for length]
Reading for Lesson Seven
[We omit some of Cicero's witticisms as not being fit for young ears. However, a few of his milder ones follow]
When Crassus was about to go into Syria, he desired to leave Cicero rather his friend than his enemy, and, therefore, one day saluting him, told him he would come and sup with him, which the other as courteously received. Within a few days after, on some of Cicero's acquaintances interceding for Vatinius, as desirous of reconciliation and friendship, for he was then his enemy, "What," Cicero replied, "does Vatinius also wish to come and sup with me?" When Vatinius, who had swellings in his neck, was pleading a cause, he called him "the swollen orator." Having been told by someone that Vatinius was dead, (and then) hearing that he was alive, "May the rascal perish," said he, "for his news not being true."
To a young man who was suspected of having given a poisoned cake to his father, and who talked largely of the invectives he meant to deliver against Cicero, "Better these," replied he, "than your cakes."
Lucius Cotta, a lover of wine, was censor when Cicero stood for the consulship. Cicero, being thirsty at the election, his friends stood round about him while he was drinking. "You have reason to be afraid," he said, "lest the censor should be angry with me for drinking water."
When Marcus Appius, in the opening of some speech in a court of justice, said that his friend had desired him to employ industry, eloquence, and fidelity in that cause, Cicero answered, "And how have you had the heart not to accede to any one of his requests?"
Now to use fine taunts and girds to his enemies, it was a part of a good orator: but so commonly to gird every man to make the people laugh, that won him great ill-will of many.
The great ill-will that Clodius bare him began upon this occasion. Clodius was of a noble house, a young man, and very wild and insolent. He being in love with Pompeia, Caesar's wife, found the means secretly to get into Caesar's house, in the dress and attire of a music-girl, because on that day the ladies of Rome did solemnly celebrate a secret sacrifice in Caesar's house, which is not lawful for men to be present at. So there was no man there but Clodius, who thought he should not have been known, because he was but a young man without any hair on his face, and that by this means he might come to Pompeia amongst the other women. He being gotten into this great house by night, not knowing the rooms and chambers in it: there was one of Caesar's mother's maids of her chamber called Aurelia, who seeing him wandering up and down the house in this sort, asked him what he was, and how they called him. So being forced to answer, he said he sought for Aura, one of Pompeia's maids. The maid perceived straight it was no woman's voice, and therewithal gave a great shriek, and called the other women: the which did see the gates fast shut, and then sought every corner up and down, so that at length they found him in the maid's chamber, with whom he came in. This matter being much talked about, Caesar put away his wife, Pompeia, and Clodius was prosecuted for profaning the holy rites.
Cicero was at that time [Clodius's] friend, for he had been useful to him in the conspiracy of Catiline, as one of his assistants and protectors. But when Clodius rested his defense upon this point, that he was not then at Rome, but at a distance in the country, Cicero testified that he had come to his house that day, and conversed with him on several matters; which thing was indeed true, although Cicero was thought to testify it not so much for the truth's sake, as to please his wife Terentia: for she [had a personal grudge against Clodius], and urged him on to taking a part against Clodius, and delivering his testimony.
[Necessary omission: some of the evils that Clodius was said to have committed]
Notwithstanding all this, when the common people united against the accusers and witnesses and the whole party, the judges were affrighted, and a guard was placed about them the judges for their defense; and most of them wrote their sentences on the tablets in such a way that they could not well be read. It was decided, however, that there was a majority for his acquittal, and bribery was reported to have been employed [omission for length]. Notwithstanding, in this judgement Caesar never gave evidence against Clodius: and said moreover, that he did not think his wife had committed any adultery, howbeit that he had put her away, because he would that Caesar's wife should not only be clean from any dishonesty, but also void of all suspicion.
Reading for Lesson Eight
Clodius, having escaped this danger, and having got himself chosen one of the tribunes, immediately attacked Cicero, heaping up all matters and inciting all persons against him. The common people he gained over with popular laws; to each of the consuls he decreed large provinces: to Piso (#1), Macedonia, and to Gabinius, Syria. He made many poor men free citizens, and had always about him a great number of slaves, armed.
Of the three men then in power, Crassus was Cicero's open enemy, Pompey indifferently made advances to both, and Caesar was going with an army into Gaul. To him, though not his friend (what had occurred in the time of the conspiracy having created suspicions between them), Cicero applied, requesting an appointment as one of his lieutenants in the province. Caesar accepted him, and Clodius, perceiving that by this means he (Cicero) got himself out of the danger of his (Clodius') office of tribuneship for that year, he made fair weather with him (as though he meant to reconcile himself unto him), and laid the greatest fault upon Terentia, made always a favourable mention of him, and addressed him with kind expressions, as one who felt no hatred or ill-will, but who merely wished to urge his complaints in a moderate and friendly way.
These sweet words made Cicero no more afraid, so that he gave up his lieutenancy unto Caesar, and began again to plead as he did before. At which Caesar, being exasperated, joined the party of Clodius against him, and wholly alienated Pompey from him. And Caesar himself also said, before all the people, that he thought Cicero had put Lentulus (#1), Cethegus, and the rest unjustly to death, and contrary to law, without lawful trial and condemnation. And this was the fault for the which Cicero was openly accused. And so, as an accused man, and in danger for the result, he changed his dress, and put on a mourning gown: and so suffering his beard and hair of his head to grow without any combing, he went in this humble manner, and sued to the people. But Clodius was ever about him in every place and street he went, having a band of rascals and knaves with him that shamefully mocked him Cicero for that he had changed his gown and countenance in that sort, and oftentimes they cast dirt and stones at him, breaking his talk and requests he made unto the people.
This notwithstanding, almost the whole equestrian order changed their dress with him, and of them there were commonly twenty thousand young gentlemen of noble house which followed him, with their hair also untrimmed, and supplicating with him to the people. Furthermore, the Senate assembled to decree that the people should mourn in blacks, as in a common calamity; but the consuls were against it. And Clodius, on the other side, was with a band of armed men about the Senate, so that many of the senators ran out of the Senate, crying and tearing their clothes for sorrow. But this sight moved neither shame nor pity: Cicero must either fly, or determine it by the sword with Clodius.
Then went Cicero to entreat Pompey to aid him: but he (Pompey) absented himself of purpose out of the city, because he would not be entreated, and lay at one of his houses in the country, near unto the city of Alba; and first he sent his son-in-law Piso (#2) to intercede with him, and afterwards set out to go himself. Of which Pompey being informed, would not stay to look him in the face: for he had been past all shame to have refused the request of so worthy a man, who had before shown him such pleasure, and also done and said so many things in his favour. But Pompey being now Caesar's son-in-law, at his instance he had set aside all former kindness, and, slipping out at another door, avoided the interview.
So Cicero seeing himself betrayed of him, and now having no other refuge to whom he might repair unto: he put himself into the hands of the two consuls. Gabinius was rough with him, as usual; but Piso (#1) spoke more courteously, desiring him to yield and give place for a little while to Clodius' fury, and patiently to bear the change of the time: for in so doing, he might come again another time to be the preserver of his country, which was now for his sake in tumult and sedition.
Cicero, receiving this answer, consulted with his friends. Lucullus advised him to stay, as being sure to prevail at last; others [counselled him] to flee, because the people would soon desire him again, when they had once been beaten with Clodius' fury and folly. Cicero liked best to follow this counsel. But first he took a statue of Minerva, which had been long set up and greatly honoured in his house, and carrying it to the Capitol, there dedicated it, with the inscription, "To Minerva, Patroness of Rome.") And receiving an escort from his friends, about the middle of the night he left the city, and went by land through Lucania, intending to reach Sicily.
When it was known in Rome that he was fled, Clodius did presently banish him by decree of the people, and caused bills of inhibition to be set up, that no man should secretly receive him within five hundred miles' compass of Italy. Most people, out of respect for Cicero, paid no regard to this edict, offering him every attention, and escorting him on his way. But at Hipponium (a city of Lucania now called Vibo), one Vibius, a Sicilian by birth, who, amongst many other instances of Cicero's friendships had been made head of the state engineers when he was consul, would not receive him into his house, but promised him he would appoint him a place in the country that he might go unto. And Gaius Vergilius also, at that time praetor and governor of Sicily, who before had shown himself his very great friend, wrote then unto him, that he should not come near unto Sicily.
At these things Cicero, being disheartened, went to Brundisium, whence putting forth with a prosperous wind, a contrary gale blowing from the sea carried him back to Italy the next day. He put again to sea, and having reached Dyrrhachium, on his coming to shore there, it is reported that an earthquake and a convulsion in the sea happened at the same time, signs whereby the soothsayers interpreted that his exile should not be long, because both the one and the other was a token of change.
Yet Cicero, notwithstanding that many men came to see him for the goodwill they bore him, and that the cities of Greece contended who should most honour him, he was always sad, and could not be merry, but cast his eyes still towards Italy, as passioned lovers do towards the women they love: showing himself fainthearted, and took this adversity more basely than was looked for of one so well studied and learned as he. And yet he oftentimes prayed his friends, not to call him orator, but rather philosopher, because he had made philosophy his business, and had only used rhetoric as an instrument for attaining his objects in public life. . But the desire of glory has great power in washing the tinctures of philosophy out of the souls of men, and in imprinting the passions of the common people, by custom and conversation, in the minds of those that take a part in governing them, unless the politician be very careful so to engage in public affairs as to interest himself only in the affairs themselves, but not participate in the passions that are consequent to them.
Reading for Lesson Nine
Clodius, having thus driven away Cicero, fell to burning his farms and villas, and afterwards his city house; and built on the site of it a temple to Liberty. The rest of Cicero's property he exposed to sale by daily proclamation, but nobody came to buy. The chiefest men of the city beginning to be afraid of these violent parts, and having the common people at his commandment, whom he had made very bold and insolent: he began to inveigh against Pompey, and spoke ill of his doings in the time of his wars, the which every man else but himself did commend. Pompey; then was very angry with himself that he had so forsaken Cicero, and repented him of it; and by his friends procured all the means he could to call him home again from his banishment. And when Clodius opposed it, the Senate made vote that no public measure should be ratified or passed by them till Cicero was recalled. But when Lentulus (#2) was consul, the commotions grew so high upon this matter, that the tribunes were wounded in the Forum, and Quintus, Cicero's brother, was left as dead, lying unobserved amongst the slain.
Then the people began to change their minds. And Titus Annius Milo, one of the tribunes, was the first who took confidence to summon Clodius to trial for acts of violence. Pompey himself also having gotten a great number of men about him, as well of the city of Rome as of other towns adjoining to it, being strongly guarded with them: he came out of his house, and compelled Clodius to get him out of the Forum, and then called the people to give their voices for the calling home again of Cicero. It is reported that the people never passed a thing with so great goodwill, nor so wholly together, as the return of Cicero. And the Senate for their parts also, in the behalf of Cicero, ordained that the cities which had honoured and received Cicero in his exile, should be greatly commended: and that his houses which Clodius had overthrown and razed, should be rebuilt at the charge of the commonwealth.
So Cicero returned in the sixteenth month after his banishment, and the towns and cities he came by, showed themselves so joyful of his return, that all manner of men went to meet and honour him, with so great love and affection, that Cicero's report thereof afterwards came indeed short of the very truth as it was. For he said, that Italy brought him into Rome upon their shoulders. And Crassus himself, who had been his enemy before his exile, went then voluntarily to meet him, and was reconciled, to please his son Publius, as he said, who was Cicero's affectionate admirer.
Now Cicero being returned, he found a time when Clodius was out of the city, and went with a good company of his friends unto the Capitol, and there took away the tables, and broke them, in the which Clodius had written all his acts that he had passed and done in the time of his tribuneship. Clodius would afterwards have accused Cicero for it: but Cicero answered him, that he was not lawfully created tribune, because he was of the patricians, and therefore nothing done by him was valid. Therewith Cato was offended, and spoke against him, not for that he liked any of Clodius' doings: (but to the contrary, utterly misliked all that he did), but because he thought it out of all reason that the Senate should cancel all those things which he had done and passed in his tribuneship, and specially, because amongst the rest that was there which he himself had done in the isle of Cyprus, and in the city of Byzantium. Hereupon there grew some strangeness betwixt Cicero and Cato, which, though it came not to open enmity, yet made a more reserved friendship between them.
[omitted for length: Titus Annius Milo's killing of Clodius]
Cicero was made one of the priests, whom the Romans call augurs, in place of Crassus the Younger, who was dead in Parthia. Then he was appointed by lot to the province of Cilicia, and set sail thither with twelve thousand foot soldiers, and two thousand six hundred horse. He had orders to bring back Cappadocia to its allegiance to Ariobarzanes, its king; which settlement he effected very completely without recourse to arms. And perceiving the Cilicians, by the great loss the Romans had suffered in Parthia, and the commotions in Syria, to have become disposed to attempt a revolt, by a gentle course of government he soothed them back into fidelity.
He would accept none of the presents that were offered him by the kings. Furthermore, he did disburden the provinces of the feasts and banquets they were wont to make other governors before him. On the other side also, he would ever have the company of good and learned men at his table, and would treat them well, not sumptuously but liberally. His house had no porter, nor was he seen by any man in his bed: for he would always rise at the break of day, and would walk or stand before his door. He would courteously receive all them that came to salute and visit him. Further, they report of him that he never caused any of those under his command to be beaten with rods, or to have their garments rent. In his anger he never reviled any man, neither did despitefully set a fine upon any man's head.
Finding many things also belonging to the commonwealth, which private men had stolen and embezzled to their own use: he restored them again unto the cities, whereby they grew very rich and wealthy: and yet did he save their honour and credit that had taken them away, and did them no other hurt, but only constrained them to restore that which was the commonwealth's. He made a little war also, and drove away the thieves that kept about Mount Amanus, for the which exploit his soldiers called him Imperator, that is to say, "chief captain."
To Caecilius the orator, who asked him to send him some panthers from Cilicia, to be exhibited in the theater at Rome, he wrote, in commendation of his own actions, that there were no panthers in Cilicia, for they were all fled to Caria, in anger that, seeing all things quiet in Cilicia, the Cilicians had leisure now to hunt them.
Reading for Lesson Ten
On leaving his province, he came by Rhodes: and stayed a few days at Athens, with great delight, to remember how pleasantly he lived there before, at what time he studied there. Thither came to him the chiefest learned men of the city, and his friends also, with whom he was acquainted at his first being there; and after receiving in Greece the honours that were due to him, returned to Rome, where everything was now just as it were in a flame, breaking out into a civil war.
When the Senate would have decreed him a triumph, he told them he had rather, so differences were accommodated, follow the triumphal chariot of Caesar. In private, he gave advice to both Caesar and Pompey, writing many letters to Caesar, and personally entreating Pompey; doing his best to soothe and bring to reason both the one and the other. But when matters became incurable, and Caesar was approaching Rome, Pompey dared not abide it, but, with many honest citizens, left the city. Cicero would not follow him when he fled, and therefore men thought he would take part with Caesar; but this is certain, that he was in a marvellous perplexity, and could not easily determine what way to take.
Whereupon he wrote in his epistles:
"To which side should I turn? Pompey has the fair and honourable plea for war; and Caesar, on the other hand, has managed his affairs better, and is more able to secure himself and his friends. So that I know whom I should fly (from), not whom I should fly to."
But when Trebatius, one of Caesar's friends, by letter signified to him that Caesar thought it was his most desirable course to join his party, and partake his hopes, but if he considered himself too old a man for this, then he should retire into Greece, and stay quietly there, out of the way of either party; Cicero, wondering that Caesar had not written himself, gave an angry reply, that he should not do anything unbecoming his past life. Such is the account to be collected from his letters.
Now Caesar being gone into Spain, Cicero embarked immediately to go to Pompey. So when he came unto him, every man was very glad of his coming, but Cato. Howbeit Cato secretly reproved him for coming unto Pompey. As for himself, he said, it had been indecent to forsake that part in the commonwealth which he had chosen from the beginning; but Cicero might have been more useful to his country and friends, if, remaining neutral, he had attended and used his influence to moderate the result, instead of coming hither to make himself, without reason or necessity, an enemy to Caesar, and a partner in such great dangers.
These persuasions of Cato overthrew all Cicero's purpose and determination, besides that Pompey himself did not employ him in any matter of service or importance. Although, indeed, he was himself the cause of it, by his not denying that he was sorry he had come, by his depreciating Pompey's resources, finding fault underhand with his counsels, and continually indulging in jests and sarcastic remarks on his fellow-soldiers. Though he went about in the camp with a gloomy and melancholy face himself, he was always trying to raise a laugh in others, whether they wished it or not.
[omission: Cicero's jokes, because you really had to be there]
After the Battle of Pharsalia, where Cicero was not present for want of health: Pompey being fled, and Cato at that time at Dyrrhachium, where he had gathered a great number of men of war, and had also prepared a great navy: he would have had Cicero commander-in-chief, according to law and the precedence of his consular dignity. And on his refusing the command, and wholly declining to take part in their plans for continuing the war, he was in the greatest danger of being killed, the younger Pompey and his friends called him traitor, and drew their swords upon him to kill him, which they would had done, had not Cato stepped between them and him; and yet had he (Cato) much ado to save him, and to convey him safely out of the camp.
Afterwards, arriving at Brundisium, he tarried there some time in expectation of Caesar, who was delayed by his affairs in Asia and Egypt. Howbeit news being brought at length that Caesar was arrived at Tarentum, and that he came by land unto Brundisium: Cicero departed thence to go meet him, not mistrusting that Caesar would not pardon him, but rather being ashamed to come to his enemy being a conqueror, before such a number of men as he had about him. Yet he was not forced to do or speak anything unseemly to his calling. For Caesar seeing him coming towards him far before the rest that came with him: he lighted from his horse, and embraced him, and walked a great way afoot with him, still talking with him only. And from that time forward he continued to treat him with honour and respect; so that, when Cicero wrote an oration in praise of Cato, Caesar in writing an answer to it, took occasion to commend Cicero's own life and eloquence, comparing him to Pericles and Theramenes. Cicero's oration was entitled Cato, and Caesar's Anti-Cato.
They say further, that Quintus Ligarius being accused to have been in the field against Caesar, Cicero took upon him to defend his cause: and that Caesar said unto his friends about him,
"What hurt is it for us to hear Cicero speak, whom we have not heard of long time? For otherwise Ligarius (in my opinion) standeth already a condemned man, for I know him to be a vile man, and mine enemy."
But when Cicero had begun his oration, he moved Caesar marvellously, he had so sweet a grace, and such force in his words: that it is reported Caesar changed divers colours, and showed plainly by his countenance, that there was a marvellous alteration in all the parts of him. For, in the end when the orator came to touch on the Battle of Pharsalia, then was Caesar so troubled, that his body shook withal, and some of the papers he held fell out of his hands; and he was driven against his will to set Ligarius at liberty.
Afterwards, when the commonwealth of Rome came to be a kingdom, Cicero leaving to practise any more in the state, he gave himself to read philosophy to the young men that came to hear him: by whose access unto him (because they were the chiefest of the nobility in Rome) he came again to bear as great sway and authority in Rome, as ever he had done before. His study and endeavour was to write matters of philosophy dialogue-wise, and to translate out of Greek into Latin, taking pains to bring all the Greek words which are proper unto logic and natural causes, into Latin. For he it was, as it is said, who first or principally gave Latin names to phantasia, syncatathesis, epokhe, catalepsis, atamon, ameres, kenon, and other such technical terms, which [omission] he succeeded in making intelligible and expressible to the Romans. For his recreation, he exercised his dexterity in poetry, and when he was set to it would make five hundred verses in a night.
He spent the greatest part of his time at his country-house near Tusculum. He wrote to his friends that he "led the life of Laertes," either jestingly, as his custom was, or rather from a feeling of ambition for public employment, which made him impatient under the present state of affairs. He rarely went to the city, unless to pay his court to Caesar.
He was commonly the first amongst those who voted him honours, and sought out new terms of praise for himself and for his actions. As, for example, what he said of the statues of Pompey, which had been thrown down, and were afterwards by Caesar's orders set up again; that Caesar, by this act of humanity, had indeed set up Pompey's statues, but he had fixed and established his own.
Reading for Lesson Eleven
Cicero had a design, it is said, of writing the history of his country, combining with it much of that of Greece, and incorporating in it all the stories and legends of the past that he had collected. But his purposes were interfered with by various public and various private unhappy occurrences and misfortunes; for most of which he was himself in fault.
For first of all, he did put away his wife Terentia, because she had made but small account of him in all the wars: so that he departed from Rome having no necessary thing with him to entertain him out of his country, and yet when he came back again into Italy, she never showed any spark of love or goodwill towards him. For she never came to Brundisium to him, where he remained a long time: and worse than that, his daughter having the heart to take so long a journey in hand to go to him, she (Terentia) neither gave her company to conduct her, nor money or other furniture convenient for her; besides, she left him bare walls in his house and nothing in it, and yet greatly brought in debt besides. And these were the causes alleged for their divorce.
But besides that Terentia denied all these, Cicero himself gave her a good occasion to clear herself, because he shortly after married a young maiden, being fallen in fancy with her (as Terentia said) for her beauty: or, as Tyro his servant wrote, for her riches, to the end that with her goods he might pay his debts. For she was very rich, and Cicero also was appointed her guardian, she being left sole heir. Now, because he owed a marvellous sum of money, his parents and friends did counsel him to marry this young maiden, notwithstanding he was too old for her, because that with her goods he might satisfy his creditors. But Mark Antony, who mentions this marriage in his answer to the "Philippics", reproaches him for putting away a wife with whom he had lived to older age; adding some happy strokes of sarcasm on Cicero's domestic, inactive, unsoldier-like habits.
Shortly after that he had married his second wife, his daughter Tullia died in child-bed, in Lentulus' (#3) house, whose second wife she was, (being before married unto Piso (#2)). So the philosophers and learned men came of all sides to comfort him: but he took her death so sorrowfully, that he put away his second wife, because he thought she did rejoice at the death of his daughter. And thus much touching the state and troubles of his house.
He had no concern in the design that was now forming against Caesar, although, in general, he was Brutus' most principal confidant, and one who was as aggrieved at the present, and albeit also he wished for the time past, as much as any other man did. But indeed the conspirators were afraid of his nature, that lacked hardiness; and of his age, the which oftentimes maketh the stoutest and most hardiest natures fainthearted and cowardly.
Notwithstanding, the conspiracy being executed by Brutus and Cassius, Caesar's friends being gathered together, every man was afraid that the city would again fall into civil wars. And Antony also, who was consul at that time, convened the Senate, and made a short address recommending concord. And Cicero following with various remarks such as the occasion called for, persuaded the Senate to imitate the Athenians, and decree an amnesty for what had been done in Caesar's case, and to bestow provinces on Brutus and Cassius. But neither of these things took effect. For the people of themselves were sorry, when they saw Caesar's body brought through the marketplace. And when Antony also did show them his gown all bebloodied, cut, and thrust through with swords: then they were like madmen for anger, and sought up and down the marketplace if they could meet with any of them that had slain him: and taking firebrands in their hands, they ran to their houses to set them afire. The conspirators saved themselves: but fearing that if they tarried at Rome, they should have many such alarms, they forsook the city.
Antony on this was at once in exultation, and everyone was in alarm with the prospect that he would make himself sole ruler, and Cicero in more alarm than anyone. For Antony, seeing his influence reviving in the commonwealth and knowing how closely he was connected with Brutus, was ill-pleased to have him in the city. Besides, there had been some former jealousy between them, occasioned by the difference of their manners. Cicero, fearing the event, was inclined to go as lieutenant with Dolabella into Syria. But Hirtius and Pansa, consuls elect as successors of Antony, good men and friends of Cicero, entreated him not to leave them, undertaking to put down Antony if he would stay in Rome. And he, neither distrusting wholly, nor trusting them, let Dolabella go without him, promising Hirtius that he would go and spend his summer at Athens, and return again when he entered upon his office.
So he set out on his journey; but some delay occurring in his passage, new intelligence, as often happens, came suddenly from Rome, that Antony had made an astonishing change, and was doing all things and managing all public affairs at the will of the Senate, and that there wanted nothing but his (Cicero's) presence to bring things to a happy settlement. And therefore, blaming himself for his cowardice, he returned again to Rome, and was not deceived in his hopes, at the beginning.. For there came such a number of people out to meet him, that he could do nothing all day long but take them by the hands, and embrace them: who to honour him, came to meet him at the gate of the city, as also by the way to bring him to his house.
The next morning Antony assembled the Senate, and called for Cicero by name. Cicero refused to go, and kept his bed, feigning that he was weary with his journey and pains he had taken the day before: but indeed, the cause why he went not, was, for fear and suspicion of an ambush that was laid for him by the way, if he had gone, as he was informed by one of his very good friends. Antony was marvellously offended that they did wrongfully accuse him for laying of any ambush for him: and therefore sent soldiers to his house, and commanded them to bring him by force, or else to set his house afire.
After that time, Cicero and he were always at jar, but yet coldly enough, one of them taking heed of another: until that the young Caesar returning from the city of Apollonia, came as lawful heir unto Julius Caesar (the late dictator), and had contention with Antony for the sum of two thousand five hundred myriads, the which Antony kept in his hands of his father's goods. Thereupon, Philippus, who had married the mother of this young Caesar, and Marcellus, who had also married his sister, went with young Caesar unto Cicero, and there they agreed together, that Cicero should help young Caesar with the favour of his authority and eloquence, as well towards the Senate, as also to the people: and that Caesar in recompense of his goodwill should stand by Cicero with his money and soldiers. For this young Caesar had many of his father's old soldiers about him, that had served under him.
[Omitted for length: Cicero had a special friendship with Octavius ("young Caesar") ever since dreaming about a child who showed great promise, then meeting Octavius and recognizing him as the boy from his dream.]
But in truth, first of all the great malice Cicero bore unto Antony, and secondly his nature that was ambitious of honour, were (in my opinion) the chiefest causes why he became young Caesar's friend: knowing that the force and power of his soldiers would greatly strengthen his authority and countenance in managing the affairs of the state, besides that the young man could flatter him so well, that he called him "father"; at which Brutus was highly displeased [omission]. Notwithstanding, Brutus took Cicero's son, then studying philosophy at Athens, gave him a command, and employed him in various ways, with a good result.
Reading for Lesson Twelve
Now Cicero's great authority and power grew again to be so great in Rome, as ever it was before. For he did what he thought good, and completely overpowered and drove out Antony, and sent the two consuls, Hirtius and Pansa, with an army, to reduce him; and caused the Senate also to decree that young Caesar should have the lictors and ensigns of a praetor, as though he were his country's defender.
But after Antony had lost the battle, and both the consuls were slain, both the armies came unto Caesar. The Senate then being afraid of this young man that had so great good fortune, they practised by honours and gifts to call the armies from him, which he had about him, and so to diminish the greatness of his power: saying that their country now stood in no need of force, nor fear of defense, since her enemy Antony was fled and gone.
Caesar, fearing this, privately sent some friends to entreat and persuade Cicero to procure that they two together might be chosen consuls, saying he should manage the affairs as he pleased, should have the supreme power, and govern the young man who was only desirous of name and glory. And Caesar himself confessed that, in fear of ruin, and in danger of being deserted, he had finely served his turn by Cicero's ambition, having persuaded him to require the consulship, through the help and assistance that he would give him.
And now, more than at any other time, Cicero let himself be carried away and deceived, though he was an old man, by the persuasion of a boy. He joined him in soliciting votes, and procured the goodwill of the Senate, not without blame at the time on the part of his friends; and he, too, saw soon enough after that he had ruined himself, and betrayed the liberty of his country.
For this young man Octavius Caesar being grown to be very great by his means and procurement: when he saw that he had the consulship upon him, he forsook Cicero, and agreed with Antony and Lepidus. Then, joining his army with theirs, he divided the empire of Rome with them, as if it had been lands left in common between them: and besides that, there was a bill made of two hundred men and upwards, whom they had appointed to be slain. But the greatest difficulty and difference that fell out between them, was about the outlawing of Cicero. For Antony would hearken to no peace between them, unless Cicero were slain first of all: Lepidus was also in the same mind with Antony: but Caesar was against them both.
Their meeting was by the city of Bononia, where they continued three days together, they three only secretly consulting in a place environed about with a little river. Some say that Caesar stuck hard with Cicero the two first days, but at the third, that he yielded and forsook him. The exchange they agreed upon between them, was this. Caesar forsook Cicero: Lepidus, his own brother Paulus: and Antony, Lucius Caesar, his uncle by the mother's side. Such place took wrath in them, as they regarded no kindred nor blood, and to speak more properly, they showed that no brute or savage beast is so cruel as man when possessed with power answerable to his rage.
While these matters were a-brewing, Cicero was at a house of his in the country, near Tusculum, having at home with him also his brother Quintus Cicero. News being brought them of these proscriptions or outlawries, appointing men to be slain: they determined to go to Astura, a place by the seaside where Cicero had another house, there to take sea, and from thence to go into Macedon, unto Brutus, of whose strength in that province news had already been heard. So, they caused themselves to be conveyed thither in two litters, both of them being so weak with sorrow and grief, that they could not otherwise have gone their ways. As they were on their way, both their litters going as near to each other as they could, they bewailed their miserable estate: but Quintus chiefly, who took it most grievously. For, remembering that he took no money with him when he came from his house, and that Cicero his brother also had very little for himself: he thought it best that Cicero should hold on his journey, whilst he himself made an errand home to fetch such things as he lacked, and so to make haste again to overtake his brother. They both thought it best so, and then tenderly embracing one another, the tears falling from their eyes, they took leave of each other.
Within a few days after, Quintus Cicero being betrayed by his own servants, unto them that made search for him: he was cruelly slain, and his son with him. But Marcus Tullius Cicero being carried unto Astura, and there finding a ship ready, embarked immediately, and sailed alongst the coast unto Circaeum, having a good gale of wind. There the mariners determining forthwith to make sail again, he came ashore, either for fear of the sea, or for that he had some hope that Caesar had not altogether forsaken him: and therewithal returning towards Rome by land, he had gone about a hundred furlongs thence. But then being at a strait how to resolve, and suddenly changing his mind he would needs be carried back again to the sea, where he continued all night marvellous sorrowful, and full of thoughts. Sometimes he resolved to go into Caesar's house privately, and there kill himself upon the altar of his household gods, to bring divine vengeance upon him; but the fear of torture put him off this course.
And after passing through a variety of confused and uncertain counsels, at last he let his servants carry him by sea to Portus Caietae. There he had a very proper pleasant summer house, where the Etesian winds do give a trim fresh air in the summer season.
In that place also there is a little temple dedicated unto Apollo, not far from the seaside. From thence there came a great shoal of crows, making a marvellous noise, that came flying towards Cicero's ship, which rowed upon the shoreside. This shoal of crows came and lighted upon the yard of their sail, some crying, and some pecking the cords with their bills: so that every man judged straight, that this was a sign of ill luck at hand. Cicero notwithstanding this, came ashore, and went into his house, and laid him down to see if he could sleep. But the most part of these crows came and lighted upon the chamber window where he lay, making a wonderful great noise: and some of them got unto Cicero's bed where he lay, the clothes being cast over his head, and they never left him, till by little and little they had with their bills plucked off the clothes that covered his face. His servants, seeing this, blamed themselves that they should stay to be spectators of their master's murder, and do nothing in his defense, whilst the brute creatures came to assist and take care of him in his undeserved affliction; so partly by entreaty, and partly by force, they put him again into his litter to carry him to the sea.
But in the meantime came the murderers appointed to kill him: Herennius, a centurion, and Popilius Laena, tribune of the soldiers, whom Cicero had formerly defended when prosecuted for the murder of his father. So Cicero's gate being shut, they entered the house by force, and missing him, they asked them of the house what was become of him. They answered, they could not tell. Howbeit there was a young boy in the house called Philologus, who had been educated by Cicero in the liberal arts and sciences, and an emancipated slave of his brother Quintus. He told Herennius that Cicero's servants carried him in a litter towards the sea, through dark narrow lanes, shadowed with wood on either side.
The tribune taking a few with him, ran to the place where he was to come out. And Cicero, perceiving Herennius running in the walks, commanded his servants to set down the litter; and taking his beard in his left hand, as his manner was, he stoutly looked the murderers in the faces, his head and beard being all white, and his face lean and wrinkled, for the extreme sorrows he had taken: divers of them that were by, held their hands before their eyes, whilst Herennius did cruelly murder him. So Cicero, being sixty-four years of age, thrust his neck out of the litter, and had his head cut off by Antony's commandment, and his hands also, which wrote "the Philippics" against him [omission].
When these members of Cicero were brought to Rome, Antony by chance was busily occupied at that time about the election of certain officers: who when he heard of them and saw them, he cried out aloud that now all his outlawries and proscriptions were executed: and thereupon commanded that Cicero's head and his hands should straight be set up over the pulpit for orations. This was a sight which the Roman people shuddered to behold, and they believed they saw there, not the face of Cicero, but the image of Antony's own soul.
[short and gruesome omission about the punishment of Philologus]
Howbeit I understood that Caesar Augustus, a long time after that, went one day to see one of his nephews, who had a book in his hand of Cicero's; and he, fearing lest his uncle would be angry to find that book in his hands, thought to hide it under his gown. Caesar saw it, and took it from him, and read the most part of it standing, and then delivered it to the young boy, and said unto him: "He was a wise man indeed, my child, and loved his country well." And immediately after he had vanquished Antony, being then consul, he made Cicero's son his colleague in the office; and under that consulship the Senate took down all the statues of Antony, and abolished all the other honours that had been given him, and decreed that none of that family should thereafter bear the name of Marcus.
So God's justice made the extreme revenge and punishment of Antony to fall into the house of Cicero. [Dryden: Thus the final acts of the punishment of Antony were, by the divine powers, devolved upon the family of Cicero.]
AmblesideOnline Plutarch Readings:
Aemilius Agis Alcibiades Alexander Aristides Brutus Julius Caesar Camillus Cato Cicero Coriolanus Crassus Demetrius Demosthenes Dion Fabius Gracchus Nicias Pericles Philopoemen Phocion Pompey, Pt 1 Pompey, Pt 2 Publicola Pyrrhus Solon Themistocles Timoleon Titus Flamininus
Aemilius Agis Alcibiades Alexander Aristides Brutus Julius Caesar Camillus Cato Cicero Coriolanus Crassus Demetrius Demosthenes Dion Fabius Gracchus Nicias Pericles Philopoemen Phocion Pompey, Pt 1 Pompey, Pt 2 Publicola Pyrrhus Solon Themistocles Timoleon Titus Flamininus