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Cicero, On Pompey's Command (De Imperio), 27-49

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Cicero
, 
Ingo Gildenhard
, 
Louise Hodgson

5. Further resources

Texte intégral

Chronological table: the parallel lives of Pompey and Cicero

Year

Pompey

Cicero

106

Born (29 September)

Born (3 January)

90-88

Military Service, including with Pompey’s father Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo (one of the consuls of 89)

89-87

Military Service under his father Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo, who dies in 87.

83-81

Various campaigns: in support of Sulla (in Italy, Sicily, Africa)

81

First triumph

First surviving public speech (pro Quinctio)

79-77

Rhetorical and philosophical studies in Rhodes and Athens

76-71

Campaign in Spain against Sertorius as holder of a proconsular imperium (granted by a reluctant senate); contribution to the suppression of the slave revolt upon his return; second triumph for his victories in Spain

Active in the law courts

75

Quaestor in Sicily

70

Consul for the first time (with Crassus)

Prosecution of Verres

69

Aedile

67

Campaign against the pirates as holder of an extraordinary command sanctioned by the lex Gabinia

66

Praetor; speech in favour of the lex Manilia (de imperio Gn. Pompei)

65-61

Campaign against Mithridates as holder of an extraordinary command sanctioned by the lex Manilia; third triumph

63

Consul; suppression of the Catilinarian conspiracy

58

Pushed into exile on account of the execution of the Catilinarians (till 57)

55

Consul for the second time (with Crassus)

52

Consul sine collega (‘without colleague’), to restore order in the capital

51

Pro-consul in Cilicia

48

Pompey assassinated in the course of the civil war against Caesar

43

Proscription by Mark Antony; death

The speech in summary, or: what a Roman citizen may have heard in the forum

1§

21 • So… I’ve never given a contio speech before…

32 • But, well, I’m a praetor now, so I guess I probably should.

43 • Happily enough, my topic would suit anyone – the wonders of Gnaeus Pompey.

54 • Let’s start with the cause: Mithridates and Tigranes, and the war in Asia.

65 • The publicani are very, very worried. We need a new general. Guess who?

76 • Let’s run through, in order, the nature of the war; its seriousness; the choice of a commander.
• It’s a very patriotic war! Lots of glory to be had

87 • And since Romans have ever been glory-seekers, you should damn well go glory-seeking against Mithridates, which frankly has been a rather embarrassing mess so far.

98 • I mean, two triumphs have come out of this (for Sulla and Murena), but Mithridates remained on his throne. Shocking! (Not that Sulla and Murena didn’t deserve their triumphs; both of them got called back early, after all: Sulla by domestic crisis, Murena by Sulla.)

109 • Mithridates used his grace period to rearm, the horror. Of course, we were distracted by the Spanish war then.

1110 • But Pompey’s sorted out Sertorius and out in the East, well… let me damn Lucullus with faint praise for a bit. Good qualities, right, but really: his luck’s so awful, isn’t it?

1211 • Let me appeal to the ancestors (maiores)! They used to go to war to avenge the slightest insult against our citizens, not to mention envoys – surely we’re not going to let pass the murder of thousands of citizens by Mithridates? and the horribly torturous death of a Roman consular envoy (Manius Aquilius)?

1312 • What about your allies, eh? We want to protect Ariobarzanes, who’s been driven into exile, and all the Greek and Asian states.
• They don’t dare ask for a specific general…

1413 • … but they totally would if they thought they could get with it. Because he’s so awesome!

1514 • You are going to defend your allies, right, just like our ancestors did?
• I mean, if nothing else, think how much we’ll be financially screwed if we don’t get Asia back…

1615 • And I mean seriously screwed.

1716 • Genuinely and horribly so.

1817 • And we need to protect the interests of our citizens whose property is affected by this war.

1918 • Not least since our economic recovery will be problematic if they can’t e.g. bid for contracts to collect taxes. Etc.

2019 • And we want to avoid a collapse of credit, such as happened with the first Mithridatic war.

2120 • Let’s talk about the magnitude of the war now
• It’s very big.
• I mean, okay, Lucullus has, like, relieved our good friends in Cyzicus…

2221 • … and sunk the massive fleet that was heading for Italy under Sertorian leadership …
• … and opened the way for our legions into Pontus …
• … captured Sinope and Amisus, plus countless other cities of Pontus and Cappadocia …
• … forced Mithridates into exile…

2322 • But the war is still very big!
• Analogy of Mithridates’ flight with that of Medea, scattering her brother’s limbs. Mithridates leaves scattered only his vast wealth, thereby escaping our soldiers.

2423 • … and is picked up by Tigranes of Armenia.
• In a way that upsets all sorts of new enemies. Oh dear.

2524 • I’ll just leave it at that, shall I?

2625 • Result: Mithridates looks better placed than ever. And also goes home merrily and attacks our army again. I’ll pass over the disaster (it was awful).

2726 • And at this terrible moment, Lucullus was obliged to disband some troops and hand over others to Manius Glabrio, all because you insisted on customary practice!

2827 • Let’s talk about the choice of general now.
• Pompey is pretty much head and shoulders above everybody else in the world.
• He possesses the four necessary qualities of a perfect general knowledge of warfare, ability, prestige, luck.

2928 • Wow, he does have a great knowledge of warfare! Think of all the (civil) wars he’s been involved in! What a range!

3029 • And what amazing abilities!

3130 • All these countries in which he’s done battle are my witness

3231 • Plus every sea.

3332 • Let me lament the days of yore, for… some reason involving pirates…

3433 • Awful pirates, they are.
• And good lord! Pompey has sorted them all out.

3534 • And he did it very fast!
• He’s travelled to so many places.

3635 • So very, very many places.
• Sorting out pirates! All in half a year!

3736 • And he has so many other awesome qualities!

3837 • Truly glorious ones. He isn’t avaricious at all, unlike some people, naming no names.

3938 • I mean, some of our generals have been pretty destructive in touring with their armies.

4039 • Whereas Pompey is pretty awesome!

4140 • In, like, just about every way.

4241 • People out in the provinces are starting to think of him as a god from heaven! They begin to believe in the existence of Ye Olde Roman!

4342 • He’s such a wonderful person, I just can’t tell you.
• So seriously, why would anyone hesitate to put him in charge of this war?

4443 • Prestige matters too. Guess who has lots of it?

4544 • And I mean lots.
• Look how the price of wheat fell when he was appointed to the command of the naval war!

4645 • And look how just his providential presence in Asia back after that disaster at Pontus restrained Mithridates and checked Tigranes!

4746 • And how all Rome’s enemies surrendered to him very suddenly! Even when there were closer Roman generals to whom they might have surrendered!

4847 • Now let’s talk about good luck.
• It’s very important. But also kind of difficult to talk about, what with not wanting to provoke the gods.

4948 • Basically, Pompey has it as well. Lots of it.

5049 • So why would you hesitate to put Pompey in charge of the war?

5150 • You’d do it even if he was here (but as it is, he’s there already) and a private citizen (he isn’t)! So seriously, just give him all the other armies in the vicinity and let him get on with it.

5251 • Catulus and Hortensius disagree with me.
• Well, they’re both very distinguished gentlemen; but that’s not going to stop me damning them too with a bit of faint praise.

5352 • Hortensius says we shouldn’t give supreme command to one man (although if we were going to, the right man would be Pompey).
• This argument is out of date. Hortensius argued against Gabinius’ law re: pirates…

5453 • … well, Pompey got the pirate command, thanks to the Roman people. They didn’t agree with Hortensius then, quite rightly too.

5554 • Those pirates were very mean people!

5655 • Very, very mean!

5756 • So the Roman people ignored Hortensius’ well-intentioned advice and gave supreme command against the pirates to Pompey, with the result that those very mean pirates were sorted out within the year.

5857 • The opposition to Gabinius (who proposed this law) serving as legate to Pompey as per Pompey’s request is therefore terribly ungracious.

5958 • There are other precedents that back me up!
• Something should be done about it; and if the consuls won’t do it, I will myself.

6059 • About Catulus – wasn’t that amusing, when he said ‘Who will you put in command if something happens to Supreme Commander Pompey?’ and you all said ‘You!’

61• I mean, he is a pretty decent guy really, but I have to disagree with him here. Human life is very uncertain – that just means we should take advantage of the abilities of a great man while he’s around for everyone else to exploit.

62 60 • Okay, so some people say we should just go along with what the maiores always did; but I shall ostentatiously refrain from pointing out a long list of precedents in which the maiores totally put all their trust in the hands of one man and thereby won the day.

6361 • Think how many such precedents for Pompey himself have already been approved by Catulus among others!
• Such novelties as can be seen from his early career.

64 62 • Seriously, his early career was very novel. As L. Philippus is said to have remarked, non se illum sua sententia pro consule sed pro consulibus mittere (‘I give my vote to send him not in place of a consul but in place of both consuls!’). That’s really helpful!

6563 • So let everyone who agreed to those novelties understand that it would be terribly unjust for them not to agree now that the people want him to have full command, just as they did re: pirates.

6664 • Since you made a perfectly sensible decision when you gave Pompey command against the pirates, you’re obviously making a perfectly sensible one now.
• After all, this war against an Asiatic monarch requires very special moral qualities!

6765 • We are very, very unpopular abroad right now, thanks to the bad behaviour of our governors.

6866 • As Catulus and Hortensius know.
• So a general sent abroad to Asia needs to be very special.

6967 • As Pompey is! How convenient.
• That’s why the coastal regions asked for him to be appointed.

7068 • So let’s not hesitate to give him full command.
• If you want some serious auctoritas to agree with me, what about Gaius Curio? What about Gnaeus Lentulus? And Gaius Cassius!

7169 • I therefore applaud and commend Gaius Manilius’s law. It’s a very good one. I’m behind you all the way.

7270 • I call on the gods to witness that I’m acting in the interests of the state and definitely not e. g. in the hopes of winning Pompey’s favour. Oh no. Definitely not!

7371 • That’s because it’s my duty to place your wishes, the honour of the state and the well-being of the provinces and allies above my own advantages and interests.

Translation of §§ 27-49

74[27] I think I have covered at sufficient length why this war is both inevitable given its kind and perilous given its immense scope. What remains to be covered is that one ought to speak, it seems, about the general to be chosen for this war and to be put in charge of such important matters. Citizens, if only you had such abundance of brave and upright men as to make difficult your deliberation over who above all ought, in your opinion, to be put in charge of such important matters and so great a war! But in fact – given that Gnaeus Pompeius alone has surpassed in excellence not only the fame of those men who live now but also the recorded achievement of past generations – what is it that could make the mind of anyone hesitant in this matter?

75[28] I for my part think that in the perfect general the following four attributes ought to be present: knowledge of military matters, overall excellence, commanding prestige, and luck grounded in divine support. In that case, who has ever been, or should be, more knowledgeable than this man? He departed from school and from the lessons of childhood to his father’s army and the discipline of warfare during a major war against extremely fierce enemies. At the end of his childhood he was a soldier in the army of a perfect general, at the onset of adolescence he was himself a general of a major army. He has fought more often with an external enemy than anyone else has argued with a personal enemy, has conducted more campaigns than the rest have read of, has held more public offices than others have desired. His youth [= In his youth, he] was instructed in knowledge of military matters not through teachings from others but through commands he held himself, not through setbacks in war but victories, not through seasons of military service, but the celebration of triumphs. Finally, what type of war can there be, in which the vicissitudes of our commonwealth have not trained him [or: in which the Fortuna (understood as a positive ‘divine quality’) of the Commonwealth has not given him practice]? The civil war, the wars in Africa, Transalpine Gaul, and Spain, the Slave war and the war at sea [sc. against the pirates], these varied and different types of wars and enemies, which were not only conducted by this one man but also brought to successful conclusion, prove that there is not a thing within the sphere of military experience that could escape this man’s knowledge.

76[29] Besides, to the (innate) excellence of Gnaeus Pompeius what discourse can be found that measures up? What is there that anyone could adduce either worthy of him or novel to you or unfamiliar to anyone? Nor, in fact, are those the only qualities distinctive of a general, which are commonly so considered, namely effort in public affairs, courage in dangers, care in operating, speed in finishing, good judgement in exercising forethought; these are present in this one man to such an extent as they have not been in all the other generals, whom we have either seen or heard of.

77[30] Italy is my witness, which the great conqueror Lucius Sulla himself admitted was freed by the excellence and the assistance of this man. Sicily is my witness, which, when it was surrounded on all sides by many dangers, he rescued not by the horror of war but by the speed of his counsel. Africa is my witness, which, borne down upon by massive enemy forces, overflowed with the blood of the self-same foes. Gaul is my witness, through which – by the slaughter of the Gauls – a route has been opened up into Spain for our legions. Spain is my witness, which most frequently has seen great numbers of the enemy overcome and laid low by this man. Over and over again, Italy is my witness, which, when it was weighed down by a foul and dangerous slave war, sought assistance from him though he was far away; and this war was weakened and diminished in expectation of him [= his return] and crushed and buried upon his arrival.

78[31] Witnesses, as it is, are now indeed all coasts and all foreign ethnicities and nations, finally all seas, both in their totality and, on every single coastline, all bays and ports. Which place on the whole sea either maintained a garrison throughout these years secure enough to keep it safe, or was so secluded that it escaped notice? Did anyone set to sea without exposing himself to the danger of either death or enslavement, seeing that he sailed either in winter or else on a sea teeming with pirates? Who would ever have supposed that so great a war – so shameful, so ancient, so widely spread and fragmented – could be brought to an end either by all generals in a single year or by a single general across an eternity?

79[32] Which province did you keep free from pirates throughout these particular years? Which revenue was safe to you [= which of your revenues was safe]? Which ally did you protect? For whom were you a safeguard with your fleet? How many islands, do you think, have been deserted, how many cities of your allies have either been abandoned because of fear or been captured by pirates? But why do I recall matters far away? Once this was the case, it was characteristic of the Roman people, namely to wage war far away from home and to defend, with the bulwarks of empire, the possessions of the allies rather than their own homes. Am I to say that for our allies the sea was off-limits throughout these years, when your own armies never crossed from Brundisium except in the middle of winter? Am I to lament that those were captured who came to you from foreign nations, when legates of the Roman people were ransomed? Am I to say that the sea was unsafe for merchants, when twelve axes fell into the power of the pirates?

80[33] Am I to mention that Cnidus or Colophon or Samos, cities of greatest renown, and countless others, were captured, given that you know that your harbours and those harbours, from which you take your life and breath, were under the control of the pirates? Do you really not know that the harbour of Caieta, crowded and crammed full of ships, was plundered by pirates even though a praetor was watching? That the children of that very praetor, who had previously waged war against the pirates, were snatched by the pirates from Misenum? Why am I to lament the set-back in Ostia and that blot and disgrace of the republic when, almost with you witnessing it, that fleet of which a consul of the Roman people was in charge, was captured and crushed by the pirates? Oh immortal gods! Was the remarkable and divine excellence of one man able to bring so much light to the republic in such a short time, that you, who were recently watching the fleet of the enemy at the mouth of the Tiber, now hear that no ship of the pirates is within the Mediterranean [i.e. this side of the strait of Gibraltar]?

81[34] And even though you see (sc. for yourselves) with what speed these things were accomplished, it still ought not to be passed over by me in my speech. For who, in their zeal for attending to business or making profit, was ever able to visit so many places, to complete such long journeys in as little time as it took for the force of such a massive military operation to sweep speedily across the sea under the leadership of Gnaeus Pompeius? He landed in Sicily on a sea not yet seasonable for sailing, reconnoitred Africa, came to Sardinia with his fleet, and safeguarded those three suppliers of the commonwealth’s corn with the toughest garrisons and fleets.

82[35] After he had returned from there to Italy – the two Spains and Gallia Cisalpina having been fortified with strongholds and ships, ships having likewise been sent to the coast of the Illyrian Sea, to Achaia, and all of Greece – he furnished both seas bordering on Italy with very large fleets and the toughest strongholds; he himself then added, on the forty-ninth day after he had departed from Brundisium, all of Cilicia to the empire of the Roman people. All pirates wherever they were, were either captured and killed or handed themselves over to the military command and magisterial power of this one man. The same man did not take away the hope of good terms of surrender from the Cretans, when they sent ambassadors and pleaders after him all the way to Pamphylia, but rather demanded hostages. Thus such a great war, so long drawn-out, so far-flung and widely scattered, a war by which all peoples and nations were oppressed, Pompey prepared for at the end of winter, took on at the beginning of spring, and brought to completion in the middle of summer.

83[36] This, then, is his god-like and unbelievable excellence as general. Well? His other qualities, which I had begun to enumerate a little while ago – how great and how numerous are they! For in the consummate and perfect general not only excellence in waging war ought to be expected; rather, many qualities are assistants and associates of this his most conspicuous excellence. First, of what outstanding integrity generals must be! Further, of what outstanding moderation in every walk of life! Of what outstanding trustworthiness, outstanding ease in interpersonal relations, outstanding talent, outstanding human kindness! Let us hence consider these briefly, of what kind they are in Gnaeus Pompeius: all qualities are present to the highest degree, citizens; they can, however, be more easily discerned and appreciated through a comparison with others than in and of themselves.

84[37] Whom can we believe to be a general of any esteem, in whose army the offices of the centurion are sold and have been sold? What [can we believe] a person of this kind to think about the commonwealth [that is] grand and edifying, who either, out of desire for a province, shared out among the magistrates the money that had been issued from the treasury to conduct a campaign or, out of greed, left it at interest in Rome? Your groans indicate, citizens, that you seem to recognize those who have done these things. For my part, I mention no-one by name. Hence nobody will be able to be angry with me unless he is willing to own up about himself beforehand. Who does not know how great the disasters are that our armies bring along wherever they go because of this greed of our generals?

85[38] Recall what marches in recent years our generals undertook in Italy through the fields and townships of Roman citizens! Then you will decide more easily on what you think is happening among foreign peoples. Do you believe that in recent years more cities were destroyed through the armed violence of your soldiers or more allied communities through their winter quarters? For a general, who does not control himself, is unable to control an army and someone who does not wish others to be strict judges of himself, is unable to be strict in passing judgment.

86[39] In these circumstances are we surprised that this man so greatly surpasses all the others, whose legions [= given that his legions] have arrived in Asia in such a way that not only no hand, but not even a footstep, of so great an army is said to have harmed anyone peaceful? In addition, oral reports and letters announce on a daily basis how the soldiers pass the winter: not only is no violence inflicted on anybody to expend money on behalf of a soldier, but no-one is allowed to do so even if he wishes. For our ancestors wanted the houses of our allies and friends to be a refuge from the winter, not a refuge for greed.

87[40] Come, consider what moderation he displays in other matters! From where, do you think, has come such surpassing speed and such unbelievable rapidity of motion? Not the exceptional strength of his oarsmen or some unheard-of art of navigation or some novel winds have borne him into the farthest lands; rather, those matters that are wont to delay the others did not hinder his progress: no greed diverted him from his planned path to any plunder; no lust to pleasure, no charming location to its enjoyment, no renown of a city to sight-seeing, and, finally, not even toil to rest. Moreover, the pictures and paintings and other adornments of Greek towns that others believe ought to be carried off, he thought that they ought not to be even looked at by him.

88[41] And so now everyone in these locations regards Gnaeus Pompeius as someone not sent from this city, but descended from heaven. Now they finally start to believe that Roman men once had this (kind of) self-control, something which by now was beginning to seem to foreign nations unbelievable and wrongly handed down to memory. Now the lustre of your empire begins to bring light to these peoples. Now they understand that it was not without reason that at a time when we had magistrates of such moderation, their ancestors preferred to serve the Roman people rather than to rule over others. Moreover, approaches to him by private individuals are said to be so easy, complaints about the wrongs suffered from others so freely received that he who outdoes the leading citizens in dignity seems equal in affability to the humblest.

89[42] Besides, how strong he is in political wisdom, how strong in the weight and eloquence of his oratory, in which there is itself a certain dignity characteristic of a general, this, citizens, you have often come to know in this very place. How great indeed do you think his trustworthiness is reckoned (to be) among the allies, which all of his enemies of every type have judged utterly inviolable? He is of such human kindness that it is difficult to say whether the enemy feared his martial prowess when fighting more than they esteemed his gentleness once defeated. And will anyone doubt that such a great war should be given over to this man, who seems, by some divine plan, to have been born to end all wars in our time?

90[43] And inasmuch as authority too is of great importance in waging war and in a military command, surely no-one doubts that in this matter that very same general is supremely capable? Who does not know that what the enemy, what the allies think of our general is greatly of relevance to waging war since we know that human beings are moved by belief and hearsay no less than by any specific reason in matters of such importance that they either despise or fear, either hate or love? Which name, then, has ever been more famous in the whole wide world? Whose deeds comparable? About which man have you passed such weighty and such glorious judgements, which is the greatest source of authority?

91[44] Or do you really believe that any coast anywhere is so deserted that news of that day did not reach it, when the entire Roman people, with the forum full to bursting and all the temples from which this place here can be seen having been filled, demanded for itself Pompey alone as general for a war of shared concern to all peoples? Thus, to say no more or to strengthen my case with examples of others as to how much authority matters in war, let examples of all extraordinary deeds be taken from [the career of] that self-same Gnaeus Pompeius. And on the day he was put in charge by you of the war against the pirates as general, such a low price for corn suddenly followed after the most severe shortage and sky-high prices for the cornsupply because of the expectation raised by, and the name of, one single individual as prolonged peace coupled with the greatest fertility of the soil could hardly have achieved.

92[45] Now, after the disaster in Pontus had happened, as a consequence of that battle, of which against my will I reminded you a little earlier, when our allies were in a state of panic, when the power and spirits of our enemies had grown, and the province did not have a sufficiently strong safeguard, you would have lost Asia, citizens, if the fortune of the Roman people had not providentially brought Gnaeus Pompeius at that critical moment in time into those regions. His arrival checked Mithridates, puffed up by his unusual victory, and slowed down Tigranes, who was threatening Asia with a large number of troops. And will anyone doubt what he will accomplish by his excellence, who has accomplished so much by his authoritative prestige? Or how easily he will preserve allies and revenues with a command and an army, who has defended them by his mere name and reputation?

93[46] Come now: that matter reveals the great prestige of this same individual among the enemies of the Roman people, namely that from locations so far away and so far apart they all surrendered themselves in so short a time to this man alone; that legates from the commonwealth of the Cretans, even though there was a general and an army of ours on their island, came almost to the ends of the earth to Gnaeus Pompeius and said that all the civic communities of the Cretans were willing to surrender themselves to him. And again: did not that Mithridates himself send an ambassador all the way to Spain to the same Gnaeus Pompeius? Pompeius always considered him an ambassador; those to whom it was irritating that [the man] had been sent to him [sc. Pompeius] especially, preferred him to be considered a spy rather than an ambassador. Hence you can now establish, citizens, how much you think that this commanding prestige, which has in the meantime been further enhanced by many deeds and by your own magnificent judgements, will have weight with those kings, how much it will have weight with foreign peoples.

94[47] What remains is for me to say a few apprehensive words about good fortune, which no-one can vouch for concerning himself, but which we may recall and record concerning someone else, in the same way as is fitting for mortals to speak about the power of the gods. For I am of the opinion that commands were rather frequently assigned, and armies entrusted to Maximus, Marcellus, Scipio, Marius and the rest of the outstanding generals not only because of their excellence, but also because of their good fortune. For undoubtedly, a certain good fortune was by divine agency attached to certain most excellent men for distinction and fame and the performance of great deeds. But about the good fortune of this man here, with whom we are concerned now, I shall restrain my discourse, so that I will not claim fortune to be in his power, but that I seem to recall events in the past and am hopeful about those still to come, with the view to avoiding that my speech seem odious or displeasing to the gods.

95[48] Therefore I shall not announce what deeds he carried out both at home and abroad, on land and on sea, and with what good fortune, so that not only the citizens always concurred with his plans, the allies complied with them, and the enemies obeyed them, but even the winds and storms supported them. I shall only mention most briefly this, that no-one has ever been so arrogant as to dare to wish privately successful deeds of such frequency and scale from the immortal gods as the immortal gods have granted to Pompey. You should wish and pray, as you do, that he retains this forever as a personal possession, citizens, both on account of the common good and the empire and because of the man himself.

96[49] Why, then, given that the war is so essential that it cannot be ignored, so significant, that it ought to be waged with the greatest care, and given that you can put a general in charge of it in whom there is outstanding knowledge of warfare, nonpareil excellence, the brightest prestige, and exceptional good fortune, do you hesitate, citizens, to direct this magnificent boon, which was offered and given to you by the immortal gods, towards the preservation and enhancement of the commonwealth?

The protagonists

Cicero

  • 1 Cicero, in Catilinam 1-4, Appian, Bellum Civile 2.2-6, Plutarch, Life of Cicero 10-23.
  • 2 Promulgated in 180 BC, the lex Villia annalis seems to have fixed the sequence of compulsory magis (...)
  • 3 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.15-16, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 49 and Life of Cicero 28-33.
  • 4 Plutarch, Life of Cicero 37-48.

97Born in 106 BC, Cicero was elected quaestor for 75, curule aedile for 69, praetor for 66 and consul for 63, during which crowning moment of glory he became the protagonist (or antagonist, depending on your point of view) of the Catilinarian crisis.1 Cicero held each office suo anno, ‘in his year’, that is at the minimum age required by the lex Villia annalis (‘the Villian Law on Minimum Ages’),2 which was a remarkable achievement for a homo novus, a ‘new man’ from Arpinum, who lacked senatorial ancestors in his family tree. His heroics in 63, however, included the execution without trial of a number of the ‘Catilinarian Conspirators’, including the praetor Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura. When Cicero’s inimicus (‘political enemy’) Publius Clodius Pulcher was elected tribune of the plebs in 58 and promptly passed legislation to remind everyone about the lex Sempronia, which banished anyone who did precisely this, Cicero hurried off into exile and was only recalled in 57 by a vote of the senate.3 For the rest of the decade, his political activity was constrained by the activities of the greater political monsters: Pompey, Marcus Licinius Crassus and Gaius Julius Caesar. Crassus fell in battle against the Parthians in 53 and civil war broke out when Caesar crossed the Rubicon to invade Italy in 49. After much dithering, Cicero took Pompey’s side; stayed until Pompey’s defeat at Pharsalus in 48; accepted Caesar’s clementia (‘mercy’), then praised Caesar’s assassination during the Ides of March 44, and was finally chopped down in 43 as a prize scalp in the proscriptions of the ‘Second Triumvirate’(consisting of Caesar Octavianus (the future Augustus), Marcus Antonius, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus).4

  • 5 Cicero, pro Sexto Roscio Amerino, Plutarch, Life of Cicero 3.

98Cicero’s political career, which lasted from his first really prominent legal case in 80 (the defence of Sextus Roscius on a charge of parricide5) to his death in 43, was based not least on oratorical ability and way with words more generally. He left behind a corpus of more than 75 texts (and that’s just the ones that have survived) including speeches, philosophical dialogues and treatises, some poetry, and a massive collection of letters to and from friends, family and political acquaintances.

Pompey (106-48 BC)

  • 6 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 37.
  • 7 Appian, Bellum Civile 1.40, 1.47-8, 1.50, 1.52.
  • 8 Appian, Bellum Civile 1.63: benefits from the death-by-soldier-riot of successor and Sulla’s colle (...)
  • 9 Cf. Hillard (1996) for an overview and discussion of the sources on Strabo’s death.

99Family background: Pompey’s father was Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo (135-87 BC), homo novus (‘new man’) and yet consularis (‘a former consul, i.e. someone who has reached the consulship in his career’) who for some less than obvious reason is regularly labelled sneaky and untrustworthy even though not noticeably showing a great deal more of either trait than your average successful Roman politician of this era. (Apparently the consul of 105 Publius Rutilius Rufus, known for his moral uprightness and commitment to Stoicism, had a go at him;6 and Cicero slates him as cruel and money-grasping as well, Brutus 47.) He was consul in 89, i.e. the middle of the Social War, during which he was perfectly competent (see § 28 of the set text);7 got involved in the political mess left behind by Sulla;8 and died struck by lightning in 87, leaving his most interesting offspring to run the family’s fiefdom in Picenum at the tender mid-twenties age.9

  • 10 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 4.
  • 11 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 9; Leach (1978) 22, 27-8.
  • 12 Cicero, pro lege Manilia 61; Appian, Bellum Civile 1.80.366; Plutarch, Life of Pompey 10; Seager ( (...)
  • 13 Haley (1985) 50.
  • 14 Cf. Leach (1978) 24-59, Greenhalgh (1980) 13-67, Seager (2002) 26-36.
  • 15 Haley (1985) 50, Leach (1978) 34.
  • 16 Cicero, pro lege Manilia 61-2; cf. Sherwin-White (1956) 5-8.

100Pompey’s Career till his first consulship (70 BC): strictly speaking, as the son of a consularis, Pompey was therefore nobilis from 88 onwards, but the family was far from distinguished at Rome and Strabo doesn’t seem to have made a great many friends during the course of his career. Pompey in fact was prosecuted during the 80s on account of some irregularity to do with Strabo’s war booty; he got off with the help of a friendly praetor, whose daughter Antistia he married.10 According to Plutarch, the lady’s father was killed for his family-alliance with Pompey; her mother committed suicide.11 Then Sulla came back from his war against Mithridates VI in 83, at which point Pompey, who was 23 years of age and a privatus at the time (i.e. someone who did not hold a public office), raised an army from his father’s veterans in Picenum and joined Sulla (along, it must be said, with several other privati with private armies).12 This proved to be a winning move, since Sulla won: Pompey divorced Antistia, married Sulla’s stepdaughter Aemilia (already pregnant by her own divorced spouse, Aemilia died shortly afterwards in childbirth),13 and was given a string of commands against Marian generals on the run in Sicily (82), Africa (81) and Spain (77-71). (Cicero glosses these appointments in §§ 28-30 of the set text). These commands he held as an unelected holder of (dummy) praetorian imperium. Along the way, he was involved in suppressing Lepidus’ rising in 78, celebrated unprecedented triumphs as an equestrian (i.e. non-senator) in 81 or 80 and again in 71,14 got married for the third time to Mucia, the relative of various prominent Romans,15 contributed to Crassus’s defeat of Spartacus’s slave war, and was eventually elected to the consulship of 70 at the age of thirty-six, six years too young and (unlike Cicero) having held none of the prerequisite offices.16 So much, then, for the stipulations of the various leges annales (‘Laws of Minimum Age Requirements’) detailed in footnote 2 above.

  • 17 Stockton (1973) 209-12, Keaveney (1982) 54-61, Vasaly (2009) 101-02.
  • 18 Keaveney (1982) 169-70, Hantos (1988) 74-9, 130-47.
  • 19 de Souza (2008) 76. On piracy in the Greco-Roman world see more generally de Souza (1999).
  • 20 Gabrielsen (2001).

101In addition to military successes, Pompey was popular with the people, not least because he got involved in removing the final restrictions Sulla had placed on the tribunate during his consulship.17 (Sulla had removed the right of the tribunes of the plebs to veto the legislation of other magistrates, to summon the senate or propose legislation, and he had made the office a dead end on the cursus honorum.18 In 75 the tribunate was put back on the cursus honorum and in 70 Pompey and Crassus restored its other functions.) The wars against the pirates and Mithridates: Post-consulship, Pompey seems to have taken a break (as far as we can tell) for a few years. Then, when people started jumping up and down and crying to high heavens about the latest piratical incursions in 67, it was Pompey who was assigned the task of suppressing the menace thanks to the lex Gabinia. Ill-disposed people floating around on boats were a major issue for everyone living on the Mediterranean coast, and had been for centuries, not least because cities like Rome and Athens depended on imported grain from places like Egypt and the Black Sea region. You can be cynical about this if you want; Philip de Souza, for example, argues that in the third to second century BC, ‘the Rhodians encouraged other Greeks to see Rhodes as their naval protector. By virtue of this role they claimed the right to intervene with their naval forces in order to suppress what they deemed to be acts of piracy. In effect they were using the suppression of piracy as a justification for making war’.19 With the rise of Rome as a naval power in the second century, however, and the establishment of Delos as a free port in 166, Rhodes went into decline along with its ‘naval protection racket’,20 leaving the policing of the Mediterranean up to the new boss. On Rome’s progress in that area, we could do worse than quote Plutarch (Life of Pompey 24):

The power of the pirates had its seat in Cilicia at first, and at the outset it was venturesome and elusive; but it took on confidence and boldness during the Mithridatic war, because it lent itself to the king’s service. Then, while the Romans were embroiled in civil wars at the gates of Rome, the sea was left unguarded, and gradually drew and enticed them on until they no longer attacked navigators only, but also laid waste islands and maritime cities. And presently men whose wealth gave them power, and those whose lineage was illustrious, and those who laid claim to superior intelligence, began to embark on piratical craft and share their enterprises, feeling that the occupation brought them a certain reputation and distinction. There were also fortified roadsteads and signal-stations for piratical craft in many places, and fleets put in here which were not merely furnished for their peculiar work with sturdy crews, skilful pilots, and light and speedy ships; nay, more annoying than the fear which they inspired was the odious extravagance of their equipment, with their gilded sails, and purple awnings, and silvered oars, as if they rioted in their iniquity and plumed themselves upon it. Their flutes and stringed instruments and drinking bouts along every coast, their seizures of persons in high command, and their ransomings of captured cities, were a disgrace to the Roman supremacy. For, you see, the ships of the pirates numbered more than a thousand, and the cities captured by them four hundred.

  • 21 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 24.
  • 22 Ehrenberg (1954) 116-17, de Souza (2008) 78.
  • 23 de Souza (2008) 82.
  • 24 Ehrenberg (1954) 117, Jameson (1970) 547, de Souza (2008) 82-3.

102Plutarch goes on to provide a list of sacked sanctuaries, abducted Romans (including two praetors and a daughter of the orator Marcus Antonius, c. 143-87 BC), and the ‘crowning insolence’ of the pirates’ mockery of anyone who thought Roman citizenship would save them. In addition, the pirates made travel and commercial activity by sea impossible.21 Notably, Plutarch slots pirates into the ‘side-effect of civil war’ category, although he is probably just indulging in one of this particular Life’s running themes here, since a former Roman attempt to police the pirates out of the water had been run by M. Antonius, father of the abducted Antonia and grandfather of the future triumvir, Marcus Antonius, who had been fighting those pirates back in 102, well before the civil wars.22 Antonius earned a triumph for his efforts in 100, but evidently those efforts were not very long-lasting, since P. Servilius Vatia Isauricus was active in Cilicia in 78-74,23 then Antonius’s son M. Antonius Creticus had an unsuccessful go as praetor in 74,24 and finally in 67 the tribune Aulus Gabinius, Pompey’s friend, proposed a law to give Pompey an extraordinary command against said pirates.

103It might be tempting to think, with Philip de Souza, that these pirates sound less like ‘pirates’ and more like ‘the navy of a country that Rome, for some reason, refuses to acknowledge as such’: ‘Roman campaigns against maritime enemies were presented as the suppression of piracy because that suited contemporary political needs, especially when the Roman aristocracy wanted to convince reluctant allies that they should fight with or for the Roman cause’.25 He argues that the Cilician ‘pirates’ under attack here are not so much ‘mundane pirates’(which certainly existed26) as organised opponents of Roman power, and that Cicero in the pro lege Manilia transforms them into colourful pirate-stereotypes to justify Roman imperial aggression – the ancient equivalents, as it were, of ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’.27

  • 28 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 25.
  • 29 Last (1947) 160-61, Ehrenberg (1954) 115-22, Jameson (1970), Seager (2008) 46.
  • 30 Cicero, pro lege Manilia 34-5, de Souza (2008) 83-4.
  • 31 de Souza (2008) 83-4.
  • 32 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 30.

104According to Plutarch, the lex Gabinia gave Pompey ‘dominion over the sea this side of the Pillars of Hercules [cf. § 33 of the set text], over all the mainland to the distance of four hundred furlongs from the sea. These limits included almost all places in the Roman world, and the greatest nations and most powerful kings were comprised within them. Besides this, he was empowered to choose fifteen legates from the senate for the several principalities, and to take from the public treasuries and the tax-collectors as much money as he wished, and to have two hundred ships, with full power over the number and levying of soldiers and oarsmen’.28 One classic question concerning the lex Gabinia is just what sort of command (imperium) Pompey received relative to the local pro-magistrates: whether, like Antonius in 74, he was given imperium equal (aequum) to that of the local proconsuls, or if it was greater (maius) and allowed him to overrule his colleagues in the region.29 This is an issue that may never be resolved; the sources disagree and the great and influential nineteenth-century classicist Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903) did not help matters by taking a firm stance that has resulted in complications ever since. The war itself was over within a record three months30 and Philip de Souza suggests that Pompey’s secret was his ‘remarkable willingness to come to terms with the enemy’: unlike his predecessors, ‘Pompey, wary of the demands such a campaign would make on Roman and allied resources yet anxious to obtain a quick victory to further his own political career, offered a general amnesty in return for immediate surrender’.31 This stellar progress left Pompey with about two years outstanding on his imperium (whatever the precise nature of that imperium) and nothing much to do with it, putting him in an excellent position to usurp Lucullus’s command against Mithridates with the help of another handy tribune, Manilius.32

  • 33 Seager (2008) 42.
  • 34 Cicero, pro lege Manilia 37; Appian, Bellum Civile 1.55; Plutarch, Life of Sulla 11; Santangelo (2 (...)
  • 35 Appian, Bellum Civile 1.55-61, Plutarch, Life of Sulla 7-10.
  • 36 Plutarch, Life of Sulla 11-21.
  • 37 Appian, Bellum Civile 1.64-75.
  • 38 Plutarch, Life of Sulla 22-4.

105Lucullus had been having problems since 69 or so: it had been a long war and everyone was getting tired of it, not least Lucullus’s soldiers.33 Mithridates VI Eupator, the king of Pontus, had first made trouble while the Social War (90-88) was ongoing: in 89 he invaded Bithynia and Phrygia and in 88 he prompted the Asiatic Vespers, a genocidal slaughter of all the Italians (not just Roman citizens) in Asia Minor.34 This, in addition to the defection of large parts of the Greek East was naturally inflammatory, but at the time Rome was distracted by (1) the end of the Social War and (2) the unexpected post-Social War outbreak of political discord sparked by the tribune Publius Sulpicius’s attempt to transfer command of the war against Mithridates from the consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla to the privatus and sixtimes-consul Gaius Marius.35 After Sulla and his colleague had occupied Rome, decapitated Sulpicius, put Marius and various friends on a ‘kill on sight’ list, laid down their preferred version of the law and overseen the election of consuls for the following year (Cinna and Octavius, who swore to uphold the new status quo), Sulla marched off to deal with Mithridates (88-84).36 Since the situation back home very quickly went sour, however,37 his iteration of the Mithridatic Wars ended in a deal,38 leaving Mithridates in place to rearm while the Romans sorted out their own problems.

  • 39 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 5.
  • 40 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 6.
  • 41 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 7.
  • 42 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 7-32.
  • 43 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 33-5.

106By 74, the Romans were back thinking about another Eastern war,39 which (after some manoeuvring involving the then popular favourite Cethegus’s disreputable girlfriend Praecia, if Plutarch is to be believed40) was handed over to the late Sulla’s lieutenant Lucius Licinius Lucullus, a tough disciplinarian and highly competent general who knocked the local Roman troops into good shape41 and spent the next four or five years hammering Mithridates and his friend/relative Tigranes one battle at a time.42 Unfortunately Lucullus’s soldiers weren’t as tough as he was and turned against him (disaffected officers include Lucius Quinctius, who as praetor in 67 is stirring things up at Rome, and Cicero’s future bête noire, Publius Clodius),43 while back at home, various people were at work on getting what remained of the command transferred to Pompey, hence our speech in favour of the controversial lex Manilia, which did just that.

  • 44 Ehrenberg (1954) 120, Jameson (1970) 558, Seager (2008) 49.
  • 45 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 36, Life of Pompey 31.
  • 46 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 32-43.
  • 47 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 43.
  • 48 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 43.

107The lex Manilia added to Pompey’s existing imperium the provinces of Cilicia and Bithynia.44 There was a chilly meeting between Pompey and Lucullus in a Galatian village;45 Lucullus, not unreasonably, felt he had been robbed of his war and Pompey had sneaked in to snatch the credit after the heavy lifting had already been done (not for the first time, either, as Crassus might have pointed out: see our commentary on § 28 of the set text). Briefly (perhaps not quite as briefly as Appian’s version at Bellum Civile 2.1, which may be summarised as ‘Pompey beat up the pirates and then he beat up Mithridates’), Pompey spent several years out East, wrapping up the war and massively reorganising the whole area.46 Then he came home. According to Plutarch, everyone back in Rome got very nervous over whether he might choose to march in and take over in true Sullan style,47 but in fact he disbanded his army at Brundisium (and why not? There was no need to do anything else, despite various Italian troubles in his absence) and rolled home peacefully to a hero’s reception.48

  • 49 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.9, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 46.
  • 50 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 42.
  • 51 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 44, Leach (1978) 112-13, Haley (1985) 52-3.
  • 52 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.8, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 47, Life of Caesar 13.
  • 53 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.10-14, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 47-8, Life of Caesar 14.
  • 54 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 47, Life of Caesar 14, Appian, Bellum Civile 2.43, Leach (1978) 126.
  • 55 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 46.

108Till the beheading: It was at this point, when Pompey submitted his entire Eastern programme (and promises of public land for his veterans) for senatorial approval, that he ran into trouble. The senate was difficult.49 Simultaneously, Pompey divorced his Metellan wife Mucia,50 but without lining up a replacement; his attempt to marry into the Catonian faction was not very well received.51 The senate dragged its heels; Pompey got frustrated; eventually he teamed up with his former colleagues Crassus and Caesar, whose attempt to stand for the consulship in absentia while waiting for a triumph for fighting various Spanish tribes as praetor (which meant he had to wait outside the official city boundary, the pomerium, in order to avoid forfeiting his imperium and thereby losing his triumphant army) was maliciously delayed by Cato.52 Caesar, giving up his triumph in the interests of gaining the consulship of53, sorted out everyone’s immediate problems in exchange for an extraordinary command in Gaul.54 The deal was the so-called ‘First Triumvirate’, a wholly unofficial arrangement cemented by Pompey’s marriage to Caesar’s daughter Julia.55

  • 56 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 49.
  • 57 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.17, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 51, Life of Caesar 21.
  • 58 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.18.
  • 59 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 52.
  • 60 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.19, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 52.
  • 61 Leach (1978) 151-52.
  • 62 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 55, Leach (1978) 154, Haley (1985) 55.

109In56 Pompey picked up a specially contrived grain supply command (Praefectus Annonae for five years). Plutarch (probably unfairly) blames the post-exilic Cicero for showing his gratitude towards Pompey (whose involvement in Cicero’s departure had not been altogether commendable57) by reconciling Pompey with the senate. Moreover, ‘by his advocacy of the corn law he in a manner once more made Pompey master of all the land and sea in Roman possession. For under his direction were placed harbours, trading-places, distributions of crops – in a word, navigation and agriculture’.58 The political agreement between Pompey, Crassus and Caesar, by now fraying, was renewed in 56 via the ‘Conference at Luca’, 57 following which Crassus and Pompey stood successfully for the consulship of 55. They arranged the extension of Caesar’s command, allotted Spain and Africa to Pompey (but to be governed by proxy), and gave Crassus a chance to distinguish himself with yet another extraordinary command, this time against the Parthians.59 Unfortunately this bombed at the Battle of Carrhae in 53, 59 with Crassus’ death collapsing the triad; and once Julia had died in 54,60 Pompey’s ties to Caesar were weakened.61 Pompey’s next wife, married in 52, was a Cornelia, the daughter of Metellus Scipio and the widow of Crassus’s son (slain with his father at Carrhae), indicating a political shift away from Caesar (who had failed to convince Pompey to marry his niece Octavia) and towards Caesar’s senatorial enemies.62

110The political situation in Rome generally was chaotic. To quote Appian (Bellum Civile 2.19),

  • 63 Cf. also Plutarch, Life of Pompey 54.

The magistrates were chosen by means of money, and faction fights, with dishonest zeal, with the aid of stones and even swords. Bribery and corruption prevailed in the most scandalous manner. The people themselves went already bought to the elections. A case was found where a deposit of 800 talents had been made to obtain the consulship. The consuls holding office yearly could not hope to lead armies or to command in war because they were shut out by the power of the triumvirate. The baser among them strove for gain, instead of military commands, at the expense of the public treasury or from the election of their own successors. For these reasons good men abstained from office altogether, and the disorder was such that at one time the republic was without consuls for eight months, Pompey conniving at the state of affairs in order that there might be need of a dictator.63

  • 64 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.20-22, Plutarch, Life of Cicero 35.
  • 65 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.21.
  • 66 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.23; cf. also Plutarch, Life of Pompey 54.

111And then Titus Annius Milo (canvassing for the consulship) killed the popularis darling Publius Clodius Pulcher (canvassing for the praetorship) on the Appian Way.64 The situation exploded; indeed, the riotous people burnt down the senate-house along with Clodius’s body.65 Riots ensued. ‘The Senate assembled in consternation and looked to Pompey, intending to make him dictator at once, for they considered this necessary as a remedy for the present evils; but at the suggestion of Cato they appointed him consul without a colleague, so that by ruling alone he might have the power of a dictator with the responsibility of a consul. He was the first of consuls who had two of the greatest provinces, and an army, and the public money, and autocratic power in the city, by virtue of being sole consul’.66

  • 67 Sherwin-White (1956) 8.
  • 68 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 77-80.
  • 69 Plutarch, Life of Caesar 48.

112This unprecedented sole consulship was arguably the crowning moment of Pompey’s career. We recap Sherwin-White’s summary of Pompey: he ‘would bluff up to the limits of legality, but he never marched on Rome or crossed a Rubicon in his life. He disbanded his legions at Brundisium on his return from the East. In his own phrase he would take a sword, but only if the consuls placed it in his hands; if someone else drew a sword he would raise a shield’.67 The consuls did place a sword ceremoniously into his hand when Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49, thereby handing Pompey command of ‘the Republicans’ against Caesar. Pompey, whose real strength was in his foreign clientela (‘networks of dependents’), made the strategically sound but politically upsetting choice to evacuate Rome, and fought a good campaign until he lost the battle of Pharsalus, chose the wrong former client to run to, and was unceremoniously murdered and decapitated thanks to the young Ptolemy XIII’s advisers when he disembarked in Egypt.68 (Caesar is said to have shed crocodile tears when presented with Pompey’s head and seal ring: unlike Sulla, he did not go in for decapitation. Well, not the decapitation of fellow Roman citizens, at any rate.69)

Manilius

  • 70 Phillips (1970) 595, Ward (1970) 546.

113Compared with Cicero and Pompey, Gaius Manilius, the proposer of the lex Manilia, casts a very slight shadow. This has something to do with the fact that he was a popularis tribune of obscure family who proposed two controversial laws: a law to distribute freedmen throughout the 35 voting tribes of the comitia tributa (they were currently confined to the four urban tribes, thus limiting the value of their votes): it was passed through violence and afterwards annulled;70 and the law that forms the subject of the pro lege Manilia, that is the transfer of Lucullus’s command against Mithridates to Pompey, which was also passed and remained in place. Towards the end of his term as tribune (and Cicero’s as praetor), Manilius found himself facing a charge of extortion. Plutarch reports as follows (Life of Cicero 9):

Two or three days before Cicero’s term of office expired, Manilius was brought before him on a charge of fraudulent accounting. This Manilius had the good will and eager support of the people, since it was thought that he was prosecuted on Pompey’s account, being a friend of his. On his demanding several days in which to make his defence, Cicero granted him only one, and that the next; and the people were indignant because it was customary for the praetor to grant ten days at least to the accused. And when the tribunes brought Cicero to the rostra and denounced him, he begged for a hearing, and then said that he had always treated defendants, so far as the laws allowed, with clemency and kindness, and thought it an unfortunate thing that Manilius should not have this advantage; wherefore, since only one day was left to his disposal as praetor, he had purposely set this day for the trial, and surely it was not the part of one who wished to help Manilius to defer it to another praetor’s term. These words produced a wonderful change in the feelings of the people, and with many expressions of approval they begged Cicero to assume the defence of Manilius. This he willingly consented to do, chiefly for the sake of Pompey, who was absent, and once more mounting the rostra harangued the people anew, vigorously attacking the oligarchical party and those who were jealous of Pompey.

  • 71 Phillips (1970) 597, Ramsey (1980) 325-26.
  • 72 Phillips (1970) 597-601, Ward (1970) 546-47, Ramsey (1980) 323-24, 328-31.
  • 73 Phillips (1970) 603, Ward (1970) 548-49.
  • 74 Phillips (1970) 603-05 argues that this trial was for the same charge, rather than ‘treason’ (maie (...)
  • 75 Phillips (1970) 607, Ward (1970) 552-54, Ramsey (1980) 331.

114It may be that the extortion charge was connected to Manilius’s totally unknown quaestorship rather than his tribunate, since tribunes generally lacked the opportunity to extort anything (a charge of public violence, vis, would be more likely, especially given Manilius’s activities).71 Cicero’s role in the affair remains unclear: whether his excuse to the tribunes was sincere or whether he had been caught out trying to hamstring Manilius’s case is a matter of debate.72 Manilius’s first trial in 65 was riotous (literally)73 and the senate passed a senatus consultum instructing the consuls to keep the peace during the second trial.74 Cicero perhaps refused to defend Manilius the second time round and Manilius was condemned.75 Following which, we hear no more of Manilius.

The historical context

The contio-setting

115There were three principal settings for speeches in the late Roman republic: (1) the law-courts; (2) the senate; (3) the contio, a public meeting called by certain magistrates. Contiones were held for a variety of purposes: to inform the populus Romanus (‘the people of Rome’) of proposed legislation or important events, to debate controversial issues of the day, and very often for senior politicians to be held to account (or hauled over the coals, depending on your perspective) by the tribunes of the plebs. The plebeian tribunate was one of the magistracies with the right to call contiones and tribunes are often found in the contio setting in our sources; as the principal place to address the populus, the contio was the natural habitat for these most populares magistrates. The important point for the pro lege Manilia is how audience influences oratory: in a law-court the speaker addresses the jury, in the senate he addresses his fellow senators (his peers), and in a contio speech he addresses (or affects to address) the populus Romanus, the Roman people, generally called Quirites to their face. (In this oration, Cicero addresses his audience with the appellation Quirites twenty-three times, five times in the set text alone: § 27: utinam, Quirites,...; § 36: summa enim omnia sunt, Quirites,... § 37: Vestra admurmuratio facit, Quirites,... § 42: vos, Quirites, hoc ipso ex loco saepe cognovistis; § 45: amisissetis Asiam, Quirites,.... See also § 46: Potestis igitur iam constituere, Quirites,... § 48: Quod ut illi proprium ac perpetuum sit, Quirites,... § 49: dubitatis Quirites, quin...)

  • 76 Cic. Man. 1.

116Cicero had not held the plebeian tribunate, which was an optional office on the cursus honorum, but (as noted above) at the time of the pro lege Manilia he was one of that year’s praetors. His previous speeches had all been legal cases; he opens the pro lege Manilia with the observation that this was his first-ever contio speech.76 The expressed purpose of the speech is to encourage people to vote for the lex Manilia, a proposed law intended to transfer command of the campaign against Mithridates to Pompey. The secondary purpose of the speech, as we may infer from reading between the lines and from its publication after the event, is to promote Cicero himself, both as an orator and as a Friend of Pompey. Cicero’s interests are long-term: he needs not just to buff the reputation of Marcus Tullius Cicero, praetor, but also to anticipate his next political campaign, the canvass for the consulship. By speaking at all, Cicero publicises his support of Pompey, which Pompey himself may appreciate and which will hopefully gain Cicero some of the reflected glow from Pompey’s popularity; and by publishing the speech he preserves testimony to the occasion and also enables those deprived souls who missed the performance to enjoy his oratory second-hand (this includes you!). (He no doubt revised the script before its dissemination in writing, though how much Cicero revised any given speech for publication is one of those eternally debated issues that keep modern scholars occupied and safely off the streets.)

Rome’s imperial expansion

117Rome began as just one city-state among a quarrelsome bunch in the Italian peninsula. Disregarding the historically doubtful wars of the regal period and very early Republic, Rome’s winning ways with its neighbours resulted in:

  • war with the Samnites (1) (343-341);
  • war with the Latins and Volscians (340-338);
  • war with Neapolis (328);
  • war with the Samnites (2) (326-321, 316-304) and with the Etrurians and Umbrians (311-309);
  • war with the Samnites (3) (298-290);
  • war with the Sabines (290);
  • war with the Etruscans and Gauls (284-280) and war with Tarentum (284);
  • war with Pyrrhus of Epirus (280);
  • war with Carthage (1) (264-241);
  • war with Gauls (225);
  • war with Carthage (2) (216-201) and war with Macedonia (1) (215-205);
  • war with Macedonia (2) (200-197);
  • war with Antiochus of Syria (192-188);
  • war with Macedonia (3) (171-168);
  • war in Spain (‘Celtiberian War’) (153-151);
  • war with Carthage (3) (149-146) and war with Macedonia (4) (149-148);
  • war with Achaea (146);
  • war with Spanish/Celtiberian city of Numantia (133);
  • war with King Jugurtha of Numidia (109-105);
  • war with the migrating Cimbri (105-100);
  • war with Mithridates of Pontus (1) (89-85);
  • war with Mithridates of Pontus (2) (74-66).

118In the course of successfully prosecuting several centuries of sustained warfare the populus Romanus expanded their territory from the ordinary hinterland of an average city-state to a territorial empire embracing chunks of Spain, Greece, Asia Minor, the Near East (mod. Middle East) and Africa. One unforeseen by-product of this remarkable imperial expansion has been the modern debate over how to explain it. Broadly speaking, there are three academic views:

  • The classic view, ‘defensive imperialism’: that the Romans were constantly pressed to defend themselves against external powers, and in the course of reluctantly defending themselves somehow ended up with an empire (mysterious!).77
  • The ‘aggressive imperialism’ view, propounded in the first place as a revisionist perspective by W. V. Harris: that the Romans were extraordinarily aggressive and took out their anger management issues on their neighbours, prosecuting a deliberate policy of expansion via the ferocious contest for laus and gloria among their top politicians and their unusual capacity for deeply unpleasant behaviour. (‘In my view it is more likely that the regular harshness of Roman war-methods sprang from an unusually pronounced willingness to use violence against alien peoples, and this willingness contributed to Roman bellicosity.’78)
  • The ‘realist’ view, representing the inevitable backswing against the initial revisionist perspective: certainly the ‘defensive imperialism’ idea is untenable, derived as it is from our self-justifying and mostly late Republic/imperial Roman sources. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that the Romans were a uniquely violent people (or, presumably, uniquely xenophobic). Rather, the ancient world was a violent place (and, at the time of writing, nothing much seems to have changed since) in which nations and city-states were constantly going to war with each other, and Roman social and political structures just happened to be uniquely suited to coping with decades-long wars and the occasional catastrophic defeat (or, better, evolved into being able to do so).79
  • 80 Persian expansion, for instance, was unambiguously aggressive. So were the Assyrians: just look at (...)

119We (this is probably no surprise) favour the ‘realist’ take,80 but it doesn’t really matter too much for present purposes. What does matter is that in the course of systematically rendering their neighbours down for soup stock, the Romans fell prey not to an enemy power but instead, in the end, to internal political dissensions, thereby kicking off the sequence of civil wars that eventually transformed the Republic into the monarchic Empire.

Civil wars

  • 81 Plutarch, Life of Tiberius Gracchus; Appian, Bellum Civile 1.9-16; Velleius Paterculus 2.3.
  • 82 Plutarch, Life of Gaius Gracchus, Appian Bellum Civile 1.21-26. Cf. especially Stockton (1979) 114 (...)
  • 83 Appian, Bellum Civile 1.110ff.

120The first formal civil war (defined as ‘war between Roman citizens’) is generally taken to be Sulla’s first march on Rome in 88. However, this came at the tail-end of a lengthy history of political violence starting in 133, when the tribune Tiberius Gracchus’s controversial legislation to divvy up public land for the benefit of the landless (with the good of the Roman army in mind: at this point, only men in possession of a certain amount of property could serve in the army) ended in the death of Tiberius and some 300 followers in a minor bloodbath on the Capitol when the senior senator and pontifex maximus (‘chief pontiff’) Publius Scipio Nasica led a mob of senators there to disrupt Tiberius’s dubiously legal re-election as tribune.81 Further political violence took place in 121, when Tiberius’s younger brother Gaius Gracchus, who had followed in Tiberius’s political footsteps and was seeking to be tribune for the third time, was slaughtered along with his allies in somewhat more organised fashion by the sitting consul, L. Opimius;82 then in 100, the tribune L. Appuleius Saturninus and the praetor C. Servilius Glaucia were lynched in the Curia Hostilia, despite promises of safe conduct from the sixth-time consul and sometime popularis Gaius Marius.83

  • 84 E.g. Brunt (1965) 271, Gabba (1989), Salmon (1982) 128-29.
  • 85 Mouritsen (1998).
  • 86 Salmon (1982) 130.
  • 87 On the events of 88 generally, cf. Katz (1977), Mitchell (1979) 54-76. On Sulpicius and his activi (...)
  • 88 Keaveney (1982) 60-4, Levick (1982) 508, Lovano (2002) 19-21, Santangelo (2007) 6-7.

121In 91, the murder of the popularis tribune M. Livius Drusus by persons unknown added to the various tensions that gave rise to the Social War, which we hesitate to call a civil war only due to a quibble of semantics: it was fought between Romans and their Italian allies (the socii), rather than between Roman citizens. However, citizenship issues were an important factor in the Social War, so it isn’t actually too much of a stretch to describe the Social War as a civil war: on the traditional account, the Italian city-states decided to break with Rome and set up a separate federal state, Italia, out of the frustrated desire to become Roman citizens, as promised by the murdered Drusus.84 (Henrik Mouritsen, it is worth noting, has proposed a wilfully post-colonial antidote to this traditional view arguing that the ‘we want citizenship’ version was superimposed on a ‘down with evil oppressor Rome’ original.85) In any case, whether you buy that or not, the Social War ran from 91-88; the (former) allies were defeated through a combination of military victory and political concessions: the Latins were granted citizenship, though the qualifications to this grant (especially confining them to the four urban tribes, like freedmen, thereby restricting the new citizens’political influence) became new sources of political tensions immediately.86 One of the tribunes of 88, P. Sulpicius Rufus, proposed laws to distribute the new citizens through all 35 voting tribes and sought to gain support for his legislation by transferring command of the impending war against Mithridates from the consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla to the ageing Gaius Marius.87 This did not go down well: after open violence in the streets, Sulla escaped to his army, joined forces with his colleague, Quintus Pompeius, and together the consuls marched on Rome.88

  • 89 Morstein-Marx (2011) 272, Meier (1966) 224; for a similarly sympathetic perspective cf. Mitchell ( (...)
  • 90 Flower (2010) 120.
  • 91 Keaveney (1982) 66-8, Levick (1982) 508, Lovano (2002) 31.

122There is an argument to be made that Sulla’s first march on Rome was a police action, and Christian Meier, followed by Robert Morstein-Marx, has made it.89 Well, perhaps. It was the first full-on military occupation of Rome by Roman consuls, who should technically have forfeited their imperium as soon as they crossed the formal city boundary (the pomerium). Once in possession of Rome, they revoked Sulpicius’s laws and handed out a ‘kill on sight’ list that included Sulpicius (who got it in the neck, rather literally) and Marius (who escaped to Africa and enjoyed several pathetic adventures of the sort that later became de rigueur for Sulla’s enemies). It isn’t clear what other legislation was promulgated at this point, because there’s a suspicion that the sources are retrojecting the legislation of Sulla’s second march on Rome.90 Sulla did hold the elections for the following year and upheld the results even though he disapproved of one of the winners, Lucius Cornelius Cinna; both consuls-designate were obliged to swear an oath to uphold Sulla’s settlement and Sulla himself headed out East to take the first of several inconclusive hacks at Mithridates.91

  • 92 Lovano (2002) 32-45; on the Cinnae dominatio generally cf. Badian (1962), Bulst (1964), Mitchell ( (...)
  • 93 Keaveney (1982) 169-75, Hantos (1988).
  • 94 Plutarch, Life of Sertorius, Spann (1987).
  • 95 Weigel (1992) 12-19.
  • 96 Salmon (1935), Allen (1938), Yavetz (1963) 496, Phillips (1976), Smith (1966) 105-31, Waters (1970 (...)

123As soon as Sulla was out of the way, things broke down in Rome. The consuls Cinna and C. Octavius fell out with each other and the senate backed Octavius, who drove Cinna out of Rome. Marius reappeared; Cinna and Marius together marched on Rome; both got to be consuls (Marius for the seventh time) and Marius died a natural death later that year. The four years or so that followed are generally known as the Tempus Cinnae (‘the time of Cinna’) or the Dominatio Cinnae (‘the tyranny of Cinna’) or something on those lines; meanwhile Sulla, out East, was obliged to manoeuvre around not just Mithridates but also the senatorial/Cinnan candidate for the command.92 Eventually he decided he’d had enough of this and came to terms with Mithridates, which allowed him to head back to Italy for his second march on Rome in 83. This time he did things thoroughly: relevant details are supporters, dictatorship, legislation, proscriptions, resignation, a natural death.93 Although it’s tempting to cut off ‘Sulla’s civil wars’ with Sulla’s victory at Rome, in fact the civil wars continued down through the 70s, as the various ‘Marians’ who had fled Rome continued to fight the good fight in Sicily, Africa and, most determinedly, Sertorius in Spain.94 Additionally, Italy itself continued to be troubled, first by M. Aemilius Lepidus, one of the consuls of 78,95 and then by whatever was going on with Catiline in 63.96 (Whatever was going on in Rome, there was certainly an uprising out in the field.) And we might throw in Spartacus and the slave war in Italy in the 70s for good measure.

124In short, we are looking at twenty years of civil war from the Social War in 91 to the end of Sertorius in Spain in 72; then the 60s, when Pompey is out East, then the 50s, when Caesar is out west; and then the return of civil war in 49, when Caesar crosses the Rubicon and marches on Rome. This civil war lasted from 49 to Actium in 31 – another twenty years, from which Caesar’s doubtfully adopted heir Octavian/Augustus emerged triumphant and everyone still standing went and had a nice quiet lie down for several years. But as far as the pro lege Manilia is concerned, all of that remains safely in the future and the main shadow in everyone’s tragic backstory is Sulla.

The shadow of Sulla

  • 97 Cic. Man. 8: verum tamen illis imperatoribus laus est tribuenda, quod egerunt, venia danda, quod r (...)
  • 98 Cic. Man. 9.
  • 99 It’s possibly worth noting that he delays citing Sertorius by name until Man. 10; introduced in Ma (...)

125Why is this a relevant category? In general terms, because the unfinished war against Mithridates is one of Sulla’s legacies, and anything with Sulla’s fingerprints on it is potentially a sticky issue. It’s less than ten years since the last major Marian (Sertorius) was disposed of, less than fifteen years since Sulla’s death, all those currently engaged in politics had some level of complicity in Sulla’s regime, and Mithridates remained free to make trouble because Sulla left the war early so he could sort out his enemies in Rome. Cicero soft-pedals this point in the actual speech: two triumphs have so far been won for wars with Mithridates, even though those wars left Mithridates bloody but unbowed, but Sulla and L. Murena, the triumphatores in question, both ‘deserve praise for what they did, pardon for what they left undone, since both were recalled to Italy from the war, Sulla by a crisis at home and Murena by Sulla’.97 Moreover, Cicero goes on to point out that the rearming Mithridates did his best to link up with Sertorius in Spain so that Rome might be attacked on two fronts,98 thereby linking the defeated side of the civil war with the current external enemy.99

  • 100 Cic. Man. 20-1.
  • 101 Cic. Man. 22-6.
  • 102 Cic. Man. 27.
  • 103 Cic. Man. 56.
  • 104 Cic. Man. 59-62.

126This awkward Sullan background perhaps plays into Cicero’s ‘damn with faint praise’ strategy in this speech, which applies most noticeably in his treatment of Lucullus, who features as a general who is great but not quite great enough. Lucullus is a fortis vir, a sapiens homo and a magnus imperator who relieved Cyzicus from siege, defeated a Sertorian fleet, opened the way into Pontus, occupied Sinope, Amisus and countless other cities of Pontus and Cappadocia, drove out Mithridates and did all this without endangering Rome’s socii or revenues.100 However, he was hamstrung by the avarice of his troops, the hostility of Mithridates’ neighbours and the adherence to petty precedent on the part of the senate,101 leaving a war (says Cicero) so great that only a truly extraordinary imperator (sc. Pompey) can handle it.102 Likewise, those who oppose the lex Manilia do so from sincere, if misplaced concerns: Hortensius opposed the lex Gabinia and now opposes the lex Manilia, and the populus Romanus recognises that he does so bono animo (‘with good intention’), but nonetheless disagreed with him then and should disagree with him now.103 Quintus Catulus, a respected patriot (amantissimus rei publicae: Man. 51) argues against innovating in the face of the exempla et instituta maiorum by handing so much power to a privatus (Man. 60): not only were the maiores actually quite happy to innovate themselves, says Cicero, but Pompey’s previous career is all the precedent he needs.104 In the pro lege Manilia, the only villain is Mithridates; unlike in Cicero’s legal speeches, where the need to find alternative candidates for the role of the defendant (or, in the case of the Verrines, where Cicero speaks for the prosecution) results in character assassinations and outright attacks, here Cicero presents us with a rational Rome where prominent figures disagree with one another in good faith and may be outvoted by a populus wiser than any of them.

127In fact, this serene take on the Roman political sphere contrasts not just with Cicero’s legal speeches but also with quite a lot of Cicero’s later political speeches, which feature a gallery of super-villains, demagogic would-be tyrants and corrupt politicians to rival anything Marvel or DC has yet come up with. In particular, the speeches against Catiline from the second half of Cicero’s consulship, the mid-50s invective in Pisonem and the Second Philippic against M. Antonius are all dominated by attacks on specific individuals and present a version of Rome that is divided, under attack and in extreme peril from political dangers. Now, one difference between the pro lege Manilia and those speeches is that after he reached the consulship Cicero no longer needed to canvass for office, having topped the cursus honorum (well, there was still the censorship, but that was far too irregularly held to count on at this point in time), and, being in a position to make real inimici (‘political enemies’), henceforth did so, quite gratuitously in the case of his future arch-nemesis Clodius Pulcher. As a praetor in 66, however, Cicero was still obliged to calculate his position with regards both to his political peers and his future voting constituency: to lean too far towards the populus and/or demonize his eminent opponents could alienate people whose support/votes he was going to need, and so he treads carefully around Hortensius and Catulus. Similarly, if in a slightly different way, he treads rather carefully around Manilius, whose law he is ostentatiously supporting. We mentioned above that Manilius was a turbulent tribune and certainly Manilius’s political future was not heading down the sort of career path that might make him a valuable amicus for a respectable gentleman like Cicero, which may explain why Manilius himself is markedly absent from the pro lege Manilia. Cicero appeals to the magnitude of the war, the excellence of Pompey and the wisdom of the populus, but he has very little to say about Manilius.

  • 105 Cic. Agr. 1.21, 2.82, 3.5 (Sullana dominatio /Sulla the tyrannus), 2.52 (the proscriptions), 2.68- (...)

128To tie all this back to Sulla, it is perhaps noteworthy that Cicero is so delicate in this speech in contione. Cicero’s treatment of Sulla in his consular speeches de lege agraria 2 and 3, also delivered to the populus, suggests there were cheap points to be made by unkind references to Sulla (and even more so to the beneficiaries of Sulla’s proscriptions and colony policies).105 Sulla was not a popular (and certainly not popularis) figure, but his settlement did have to be upheld by those in power, since they were in power thanks to Sulla’s settlement. Certainly Sulla’s contribution to Roman political consensus remained contentious for quite a long time to come: the politics of the 70s had revolved around unpicking particular aspects of Sulla’s political settlement, Manlius’s uprising during the Catilinarian affair of 63 testifies to the grievances of Sullan veterans, Pompey in the 50s was apostrophised (famously) as carnifex adulescentulus as a call-back to his early career under Sulla, and the shadow of Sulla fell particularly heavily on both sides in the civil war that started when Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49.

  • 106 Cic. Man. 28.
  • 107 Cic. Man. 28.
  • 108 Steel (2001) 145 (see further 140-47).

129Speaking of Pompey’s particular Sullan past, the other sticky issue for the pro lege Manilia was the extraordinary nature of the command being handed to Pompey. More on extraordinary commands below, but in aggregate Sulla’s dictatorial settlement seems to have aimed at concentrating political power in the hands of the senate as a way to counteract the upsetting recent trend towards rogue magisterial action, whereas the lex Manilia doubles up the offence of the lex Gabinia in concentrating extraordinary power in the hands of a privatus whose early career necessarily invoked Sulla as mentor and role model. Pompey’s remarkable career would not have been possible if not for Sulla’s activities (and, presumably, his father Strabo dying before he could pick a side for his veterans) and Cicero’s careful treatment of Pompey’s previous career in this speech reflects the problems inherent in lauding victories gained in civil war. Pompey had gone from the games and lessons of childhood to his father’s army in order to study military matters in a great war (bellum maximum) against the most savage enemies (acerrimi hostes); as a mere boy, he had served as soldier in a summus imperator ’s army, and as an adulescens commanded a great army; he had ‘more often clashed with his country’s enemies (cum hoste conflixit) than any other man has quarrelled with his own (cum inimico concertavit), fought more wars than others have read of, discharged more public offices (provinciae) than other men have coveted; in his youth (adulescentia), he learned the lessons of warfare not from the instructions of others but under his own command (suis imperiis), not by reverses in war but by victories, not through campaigns but through triumphs’.106 Pompey had engaged in all types of warfare and so gained universal competence: ‘The civil war, the wars in Africa, Transalpine Gaul and Spain, the slave war and the naval war, wars different in type and locality and against foes as different, not only carried on by himself unaided but carried to a conclusion, make it manifest that there is no item within the sphere of military experience which can be beyond the knowledge of Pompeius’.107 This glorious account tarnishes when rephrased as what it was: a series of victories achieved against Roman citizens. Cicero disguises this by portraying the wars waged outside Italy as foreign wars, rather than extensions of the initial civil war sparked by Sulla’s return from the East.108 His response to Hortensius and Catulus’s criticisms of the imperium proposed for Pompey was similarly slippery: it was disingenuous of Cicero to dismiss as unimportant the problems Pompey’s singular cursus honorum posed, as future events would show.

The lex Manilia and the problem of extraordinary commands

130We spared a few words above for the academic problem that we don’t really know what Pompey’s imperium (‘right of command’) as per the lex Gabinia was. Whatever the details, it handed to Pompey, a private citizen, an extraordinary imperium for a set number of years. This plays into a theme of the late Republic, that of ‘extraordinary commands’. ‘Ordinary’ commands were based on election to a magistracy with attached imperium, either the praetorship or the consulship, and either as a magistrate during your term in office or as a promagistrate after your term in office you get handed a provincia (this is really a sphere of operation, but – except for the urban praetor – generally one attached to certain geographical boundaries) in which to operate your imperium. But for certain military challenges that emerged in the late republic, not least as a result of Rome’s imperial expansion, this system didn’t quite work – and the Romans felt that in certain situations extraordinary measures proved necessary (if not desirable). We might start this trend with Marius’s totally unprecedented repeat elections to six consulships to deal with the marauding Cimbri and Teutones, which is not technically an extraordinary command as we just defined it (because Marius was, indeed, elected), but which is at least an example of someone holding a command significantly past the usual expiration date and without requiring prorogation. Marius is also significant because he was the first to start (officially) raising levies from the capite censi, the poorest class of citizens who possessed less than a certain amount of property and were hence literally ‘counted by the head’. We combine these details because the real issue here is that the longer you hold your command, and the more your men rely on you to reward them (usually with land) at the end of their time in service, the more opportunity you have to turn your army into one loyal to you personally.

  • 109 Gruen (1974) 534-43 (‘ Appendix III: imperia extra ordinem ’). Note that his heavy reliance on Cic (...)

131This problem was exacerbated by extraordinary commands. By the time of the lex Manilia, the conferral of an imperium extra ordinem was by no means unprecedented, let alone unconstitutional. Erich Gruen, for instance, stresses that such commands were an integral part of Rome’s political repertory, especially in situations of military crisis.109 He does not, however, reckon with the possibility that even ‘constitutional’ acts could still have been perceived as profoundly problematic and may have had unintended and dysfunctional consequences as well. Such mandates provided high-profile aristocrats with further opportunities to distinguish themselves over and above their peers and tended to be longer and involve more grandiose forms of imperium than the usual sort. The increasing need for special commands due to imperial expansion and the ensuing accumulation of power and resources in the hands of outstanding individuals has often been recognized as one of the defining paradoxes of late republican politics. Moreover, the controversial nature of said commands led to political blowback in the form of the senate’s refusal or quibbling over post-command settlements, especially the settlement of veterans on land. This, in turn, made soldiers more inclined to look to their commanders as the source of potential and actual rewards – and more willing to obey when, for example, their commanders proposed such dubious activities as fighting fellow citizens.

132Pompey was pretty much the king of extraordinary commands in the late Republic: his early career, right up to his consulship, involved a string of commands given to a private citizen (as per citations from the pro lege Manilia, above), followed by a stint in Spain non pro consule sed pro consulibus (© L. Philippus, Cic. Man. 62). After his consulship, the lex Gabinia gave him the command against the pirates that the lex Manilia commuted into a command against Mithridates. In the 50s, as we pointed out above, he picked up a grain-related command and a Spanish pro-consulship-by-proxy, which is probably the most egregious, since he delegated the work to legates and lurked just outside Rome (so as not to abrogate his imperium by crossing the pomerium). The extraordinary commands that actually did it for the Republic, however, were those given to Caesar: a five year command in Gaul that was prorogued in 55 for a further five years, at the end of which a quarrel over whether Caesar should be allowed to stand for the consulship in absentia (thereby saving him any concern about being prosecuted in the interval between giving up his Gallic command and resuming a new office) sparked a civil war in which Caesar’s army and officers were loyal, above all, to Caesar himself.

List of rhetorical terms

133N.B.:

  1. The list contains some of the more frequent rhetorical figures but is far from complete. More comprehensive accounts are available in standard textbooks (e.g. Morwood (1999) 150-54: ‘Some literary terms’) or on the web (e.g. Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric: http://rhetoric.byu.edu/​).
  2. Most of the terms derive from, or indeed are, either Greek or Latin; we have therefore provided an etymological explanation for each, not least to show that the terminological abracadabra makes perfectly good sense – even though it takes a smattering of ancient Greek and Latin to see this.
  3. The English examples are from Shakespeare. Unless otherwise indicated they come from the Pyramus-and-Thisbe episode in Act 5 of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The main reason for drawing on the oeuvre of an (early) modern author for illustration is to convey a sense of the continuity of classical and classicizing rhetoric in the western cultural tradition. And using a Shakespeare text that engages in allusive dialogue with Ovid’s Metamorphoses ought to generate some interesting cross-fertilization with the AS-level set text in verse (the Pentheus-episode from Metamorphoses 3).

134alliteration: the repeated use of the same sound at the beginning of words in close proximity.

Etymology: from (un-classical) Latin alliterare, ‘to begin with the same letter’.
Examples: ‘O dainty duck! O dear!’ ‘When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.’ ‘Whereat, with blade, with bloody, blameful blade/ He bravely broach’d his boiling bloody breast.’

135anacoluthon: a sudden break in a sentence, resulting in an incomplete grammatical or syntactical unit; a change in construction in mid-sentence.

Etymology: from Greek anakolouthos, ‘inconsistent, anomalous, inconsequent’.
Example: ‘No, you unnatural hags,/ I will have such revenges on you both,/ That all the world shall – I will do such things…’ (King Lear, Act 2, Scene 4).

136anaphora: the repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of several successive syntactic units.

Etymology: from Greek anapherein, ‘to carry back, to repeat’.
Example: ‘O grim-look’d night! O night with hue so black! O night, which ever art when day is not! O night, O night, alack, alack, alack!’

137antithesis: literally ‘a placing against’; the (balanced) juxtaposition of contrasting ideas.

Etymology: from Greek antitithenai, ‘to place (tithenai) against (anti-)’.
Example: ‘’Tide life, ’tide death, I come without delay.’

138apo koinou: two constructions that have a word or phrase in common; or, put the other way around, a word or phrase shared by two different constructions.

Etymology: from the Greek phrase apo koinou lambanein, used by ancient grammarians of two clauses taking (apo... lambanein) a word in common (koinou, the genitive of koinon after the preposition apo).
Example: ‘There was a man – dwelt by the churchyard’ (The Winter’s Tale, Act 2, Scene 1).

139asyndeton: the absence or omission of conjunctions (see also below polysundeton).

Etymology: from Greek asyndetos, ‘not (a-privativum) bound (detos, from dein, to bind) together (sun)’.
Example: ‘O Fates, come, come, cut thread and thrum; quail, crush, conclude, and quell!’

140captatio benevolentiae: a Latin phrase that literally means ‘the capture of goodwill’, i.e. a rhetorical technique designed to render the audience kindly disposed towards the speaker.

  • 110 Note that Shakespeare’s character here, hilariously, ‘translates’ the Latin benevolentia of the rh (...)

(Botched) example: ‘If we offend, it is with our good will. That you should think, we come not to offend. But with good will.’110

141chiasmus: the repetition of a grammatical pattern in inverse order: ab – ba.

Etymology: from Greek chiasmos, ‘a placing crosswise’, from the letter X (pronounced chi) of the Greek alphabet. (Imagine the two a at either end of the first diagonal line of X, and at either end of the second diagonal line the two b; then read the top half first and afterwards the bottom half and you get ab – ba.)
Example: ‘(a) Sweet Moon, (b) I thank thee... (b), I thank thee, (a) Moon...’

142climax: a series or sequence of units that gradually increase in import or force.

Etymology: from Greek klimax, ‘ladder’.
Example: ‘Tongue, lose thy light;/ Moon take thy flight: Now die, die, die, die, die’ (Pyramus before stabbing himself).

143ellipsis: the omission of one or more words in a sentence necessary for a complete grammatical construction.

  • 111 Filling in the items elided would results in something like ‘I neither know it nor can I learn any (...)

Etymology: from Greek elleipein, ‘to fall short, leave out’.
Example: ‘I neither know it nor can learn of him’ (Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 1).111

144figura etymologica: a Latin phrase referring to words of the same etymological derivation used in close proximity to one another.

Example: ‘So long lives this, and this gives life to thee’ (Sonnet 18).

145hendiadys: one idea expressed by two words joined by ‘and’, such as two nouns used in place of a noun and an adjective.

Etymology: from Greek hen-dia-duoin, ‘one thing (hen) by means of (dia) two (duoin)’.
Example: ‘The service and the loyalty I owe’ (Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 4), for ‘the loyal service’.

146homoioteleuton: similarity of ending in words in close proximity to one another.

  • 112 Note that the last item in the list (wring-ing) contains the-ing sound twice, a stylistic climax t (...)

Etymology: from Greek homoios, ‘like’, and teleute, ‘ending’.
Example: ‘My mother weeping, my father wailing, my sister crying, our maid howling, our cat wringing her hands’(The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 2, Scene 3).112

147hyperbaton: dislocation of the customary or logical word order, with the result that items that normally go together are separated.

  • 113 Natural word order would require ‘some fall by virtue’. Note that the hyperbaton also produces a c (...)

Etymology: from Greek huperbaino, ‘to step (bainein) over (huper-)’. (Imagine, for instance, that if an adjective is placed apart from the noun it modifies you have to ‘step over’ the intervening words to get from one to the other.)
Example: ‘Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall’ (Measure for Measure, Act 2, Scene 1).113

148hyperbole: the use of exaggeration.

  • 114 ‘To incarnadine’ means ‘to turn into the colour of flesh (Latin caro/carnis, carnis), dye red, red (...)

Etymology: from Greek huperballein, ‘to throw (ballein, from which derives bole, “a throwing”) over or beyond (huper)’.
Example: ‘Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood/ Clean from my hand? No. This my hand will rather/ The multitudinous seas incarnadine,/ Making the green one red’ (Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 2).114

149husteron proteron: A Greek phrase, meaning ‘the latter (husteron) first (proteron)’, producing chronological disorder.

  • 115 The logical sequence would require ‘they turn the rudder and fly’. The example is a beautiful inst (...)

Example: ‘Th’ Antoniad, the Egyptian admiral,/ With all their sixty, fly and turn the rudder’ (Antony and Cleopatra, Act 3, Scene10).115

150litotes: a ‘double negation’, in which a statement, quality, or attribute is affirmed by the negation of its opposite; assertion by means of understatement, frequently for the purpose of intensification.

  • 116 Note that in modern literary criticism litotes is often used loosely to refer to simple negation ( (...)

Etymology: from Greek litos, ‘simple, plain, petty, small’.
Example: ‘That I was not ignoble of descent’ (Henry VI, Act 4, Scene 1).116

151onomatopoesis/onomatopoeia: expressions where the sound suggests the sense.

Etymology: from Greek onoma (genitive onomatos), ‘word, name’, and poiein (noun: poesis), ‘to make’.
Example: ‘Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell/ Hark! now I hear them, – Dingdong, bell’ (The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2).

152oxymoron: a ‘pointedly foolish’ expression, resulting from the juxtaposition or combination of two words of contradictory meaning.

Etymology: from Greek oxus, ‘sharp’, and môros, ‘stupid’.
Examples: ‘“A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus/ And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.” Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!/ That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow./ How shall we find the concord of this discord?’

153paronomasia: a play upon words that sound alike; a pun.

Etymology: from Greek para-, ‘...’, and onoma, ‘word, name’.
Examples: ‘Our sport shall be to take what they mistake’; ‘You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear/ the smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor...’

154pleonasm: a ‘fullness of expression’, that is, the use of more words than is strictly speaking necessary to convey the desired meaning.

  • 117 Shakespeare expresses the degree to which Brutus’ unkindness outdid that of all the others pleonas (...)

Etymology: from Greek pleonazein, ‘to be more than enough or superfluous’.
Example: ‘the most unkindest cut of all’ (Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2, about Brutus’stabbing of Caesar).117

155polyptoton: the repetition of the same word, variously inflected.

Etymology: from Greek poluptoton, ‘many (polu) cases (from ptôsis, i.e. fall, grammatical case)’.
Example: ‘Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am/ A lion-fell, nor else no lion’s dam.’

156polysyndeton: the frequent use of conjunctions such as ‘and’ or ‘or’ even when they are not required.

Etymology: from Greek polusyndetos, ‘many times (polu) bound (detos, from dein, to bind) together (sun)’.
Example: ‘Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads’ (The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene 1).

157praeteritio: a Latin term that means ‘passing over’; as a rhetorical figure it refers to the practice of mentioning something by not meaning to mention it.

Example: ‘Soft you; a word or two before you go./ I have done the state some service, and they know’t –/ No more of that’ (Othello, Act 5, Scene 2).

158tautology: the repetition of the same idea in different ways.

Etymology: from Greek tauto, ‘the same’, and logos, ‘word, idea’.
Example: ‘The ... mouse ... may now perchance both quake and tremble here.’

159tmesis: the ‘cutting apart’ of a compound word by the interposition of others.

Etymology: from Greek temnein, ‘to cut’.
Example: ‘that man – how dearly ever parted’ (Troilus and Cressida, Act 3, Scene 3).

160tricolon: the use of three parallel grammatical units (words, phrases, clauses).

Etymology: from Greek tri-, ‘three’, and kôlon, ‘limb, member, clause, unit’.
Example: ‘Tongue, not a word;/ Come, trusty sword;/ Come, blade, my breast imbue.’

Notes

1 Cicero, in Catilinam 1-4, Appian, Bellum Civile 2.2-6, Plutarch, Life of Cicero 10-23.

2 Promulgated in 180 BC, the lex Villia annalis seems to have fixed the sequence of compulsory magistracies that held, the so-called cursus honorum (‘course of offices’: first quaestorship, then praetorship, and finally consulship), the two-year gap (biennium) between tenure of each magistracy (and ten years between repeat holding of the consulship, which was then banned in 151 BC), and minimum age requirements at least for the praetorship and consulship. For further details, see e. g. Hopkins (1983) 47, Evans and Kleijwegt (1992) 181-82, Lintott (1999) 145, and Brennan (2000) 168-70. The conditions of the lex Villia annalis were reinstated and tightened up by Sulla’s lex annalis of 81 BC (see Lintott (1999) 145 and Flower (2010) 123-24), so that by this point the minimum ages for each magistracy are thirty for the quaestorship, thirty-six for the noncompulsory aedileship, thirty-nine for the praetorship, forty-two for the consulship: Lintott (1999), Patterson (2000).

3 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.15-16, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 49 and Life of Cicero 28-33.

4 Plutarch, Life of Cicero 37-48.

5 Cicero, pro Sexto Roscio Amerino, Plutarch, Life of Cicero 3.

6 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 37.

7 Appian, Bellum Civile 1.40, 1.47-8, 1.50, 1.52.

8 Appian, Bellum Civile 1.63: benefits from the death-by-soldier-riot of successor and Sulla’s colleague Quintus Pompeius; 1.66-7: is summoned by Octavius to deal with Cinna, but basically just sits next to the Colline Gate looking shifty while Cinna and Marius roll up; 1.68, does eventually give Octavius a hand expelling Cinna and Marius from Rome, to which they had been admitted by treacherous military tribune Appius Claudius.

9 Cf. Hillard (1996) for an overview and discussion of the sources on Strabo’s death.

10 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 4.

11 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 9; Leach (1978) 22, 27-8.

12 Cicero, pro lege Manilia 61; Appian, Bellum Civile 1.80.366; Plutarch, Life of Pompey 10; Seager (2002) 26.

13 Haley (1985) 50.

14 Cf. Leach (1978) 24-59, Greenhalgh (1980) 13-67, Seager (2002) 26-36.

15 Haley (1985) 50, Leach (1978) 34.

16 Cicero, pro lege Manilia 61-2; cf. Sherwin-White (1956) 5-8.

17 Stockton (1973) 209-12, Keaveney (1982) 54-61, Vasaly (2009) 101-02.

18 Keaveney (1982) 169-70, Hantos (1988) 74-9, 130-47.

19 de Souza (2008) 76. On piracy in the Greco-Roman world see more generally de Souza (1999).

20 Gabrielsen (2001).

21 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 24.

22 Ehrenberg (1954) 116-17, de Souza (2008) 78.

23 de Souza (2008) 82.

24 Ehrenberg (1954) 117, Jameson (1970) 547, de Souza (2008) 82-3.

25 de Souza (2008) 71; cf. further 78-81, 84-5.

26 de Souza (2008) 85, defining ‘mundane pirates’ as ‘armed robbers with ships who owed no particular political allegiance and whose actions were motivated only by thoughts of immediate material gain’.

27 de Souza (2008) 86. For ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dread_Pirate_Roberts

28 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 25.

29 Last (1947) 160-61, Ehrenberg (1954) 115-22, Jameson (1970), Seager (2008) 46.

30 Cicero, pro lege Manilia 34-5, de Souza (2008) 83-4.

31 de Souza (2008) 83-4.

32 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 30.

33 Seager (2008) 42.

34 Cicero, pro lege Manilia 37; Appian, Bellum Civile 1.55; Plutarch, Life of Sulla 11; Santangelo (2007) 31-2.

35 Appian, Bellum Civile 1.55-61, Plutarch, Life of Sulla 7-10.

36 Plutarch, Life of Sulla 11-21.

37 Appian, Bellum Civile 1.64-75.

38 Plutarch, Life of Sulla 22-4.

39 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 5.

40 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 6.

41 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 7.

42 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 7-32.

43 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 33-5.

44 Ehrenberg (1954) 120, Jameson (1970) 558, Seager (2008) 49.

45 Plutarch, Life of Lucullus 36, Life of Pompey 31.

46 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 32-43.

47 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 43.

48 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 43.

49 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.9, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 46.

50 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 42.

51 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 44, Leach (1978) 112-13, Haley (1985) 52-3.

52 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.8, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 47, Life of Caesar 13.

53 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.10-14, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 47-8, Life of Caesar 14.

54 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 47, Life of Caesar 14, Appian, Bellum Civile 2.43, Leach (1978) 126.

55 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 46.

56 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 49.

57 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.17, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 51, Life of Caesar 21.

58 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.18.

59 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 52.

60 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.19, Plutarch, Life of Pompey 52.

61 Leach (1978) 151-52.

62 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 55, Leach (1978) 154, Haley (1985) 55.

63 Cf. also Plutarch, Life of Pompey 54.

64 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.20-22, Plutarch, Life of Cicero 35.

65 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.21.

66 Appian, Bellum Civile 2.23; cf. also Plutarch, Life of Pompey 54.

67 Sherwin-White (1956) 8.

68 Plutarch, Life of Pompey 77-80.

69 Plutarch, Life of Caesar 48.

70 Phillips (1970) 595, Ward (1970) 546.

71 Phillips (1970) 597, Ramsey (1980) 325-26.

72 Phillips (1970) 597-601, Ward (1970) 546-47, Ramsey (1980) 323-24, 328-31.

73 Phillips (1970) 603, Ward (1970) 548-49.

74 Phillips (1970) 603-05 argues that this trial was for the same charge, rather than ‘treason’ (maiestas) as had sometimes been thought; cf. also Ward (1970) 548 n. 15.

75 Phillips (1970) 607, Ward (1970) 552-54, Ramsey (1980) 331.

76 Cic. Man. 1.

77 E.g. Walbank (1963), Brunt (1964).

78 Harris (1979) 51; cf. also Rowland (1983).

79 E.g. North (1981); cf. also Adler’s critique (2008a), (2008b) of the idea that the ‘defensive imperialism’ version is pro-imperialistic, pro-Roman apologia: what it boils down to is that anyone who is or feels themselves to be vulnerable to accusations of being in possession of an empire actually gets very uncomfortable about comparisons with Rome and tends to denigrate whatever they think the Roman version of imperialism is. In contrast, ‘anti-imperialists’/critics of hawkish foreign policies/etc. jump straight for (often inappropriate and shockingly inaccurate) comparisons with Rome, which is once again the villain of the piece due to negative popular preconceptions. (This is a separate issue from the point that Victorian/Edwardian classicists tended to rely innocently on literary sources, which are generally self-justifying Roman ones, of course.) For more on modern (re)conceptions of ancient empires, cf. Harrison (2008).

80 Persian expansion, for instance, was unambiguously aggressive. So were the Assyrians: just look at their friezes. And how about Alexander? And when Rome turned up in Sicily, was Carthage already there because the Sicilians had decided to invite them round for tea?

81 Plutarch, Life of Tiberius Gracchus; Appian, Bellum Civile 1.9-16; Velleius Paterculus 2.3.

82 Plutarch, Life of Gaius Gracchus, Appian Bellum Civile 1.21-26. Cf. especially Stockton (1979) 114-61, Nippel (1995) 63-4, Flower (2006) 69, 76-8 and (2010) 86.

83 Appian, Bellum Civile 1.110ff.

84 E.g. Brunt (1965) 271, Gabba (1989), Salmon (1982) 128-29.

85 Mouritsen (1998).

86 Salmon (1982) 130.

87 On the events of 88 generally, cf. Katz (1977), Mitchell (1979) 54-76. On Sulpicius and his activities, cf. Badian (1969) 481-90, Lintott (1971), Mitchell (1975), Keaveney (1979), Powell (1990), Lewis (1998), Lovano (2002) 1-18. Luce (1970) argues that much of the 90s should be seen in the light of Marius’s ambitions for another great command and his opponents’ attempts to prevent him from getting one.

88 Keaveney (1982) 60-4, Levick (1982) 508, Lovano (2002) 19-21, Santangelo (2007) 6-7.

89 Morstein-Marx (2011) 272, Meier (1966) 224; for a similarly sympathetic perspective cf. Mitchell (1979) 68-76.

90 Flower (2010) 120.

91 Keaveney (1982) 66-8, Levick (1982) 508, Lovano (2002) 31.

92 Lovano (2002) 32-45; on the Cinnae dominatio generally cf. Badian (1962), Bulst (1964), Mitchell (1979) 76-80, Lovano (2002).

93 Keaveney (1982) 169-75, Hantos (1988).

94 Plutarch, Life of Sertorius, Spann (1987).

95 Weigel (1992) 12-19.

96 Salmon (1935), Allen (1938), Yavetz (1963) 496, Phillips (1976), Smith (1966) 105-31, Waters (1970), Stockton (1971) 110-42, Seager (1973), Mitchell (1979) 232-42.

97 Cic. Man. 8: verum tamen illis imperatoribus laus est tribuenda, quod egerunt, venia danda, quod reliquerunt, propterea quod ab ea bello Sullam in Italiam res publica, Murenam Sulla revocavit.

98 Cic. Man. 9.

99 It’s possibly worth noting that he delays citing Sertorius by name until Man. 10; introduced in Man. 9, Sertorius is only ‘ that imperator over in Hispania we had all those problems with’, which somewhat camouflages the civil war aspect.

100 Cic. Man. 20-1.

101 Cic. Man. 22-6.

102 Cic. Man. 27.

103 Cic. Man. 56.

104 Cic. Man. 59-62.

105 Cic. Agr. 1.21, 2.82, 3.5 (Sullana dominatio /Sulla the tyrannus), 2.52 (the proscriptions), 2.68-70, 3.3, 3.13 (Sullan profiteers), 3.6-7, 3.10 (Sullans and Marians, i.e. political positioning in relation to the Sullan regime).

106 Cic. Man. 28.

107 Cic. Man. 28.

108 Steel (2001) 145 (see further 140-47).

109 Gruen (1974) 534-43 (‘ Appendix III: imperia extra ordinem ’). Note that his heavy reliance on Cicero’s speech de Imperio as evidence for the ordinary nature of extraordinary commands is circular: it is, of course, exactly what Cicero wishes his audience to believe, and he spins facts and exempla accordingly.

110 Note that Shakespeare’s character here, hilariously, ‘translates’ the Latin benevolentia of the rhetorical figure, but, perversely, refers to the ‘good will’ of himself, the speaker, rather than that of the audience.

111 Filling in the items elided would results in something like ‘I neither know it nor can I learn anything about it from him’.

112 Note that the last item in the list (wring-ing) contains the-ing sound twice, a stylistic climax that reinforces the climax in content achieved through the anthropomorphism of the cat and the unexpected switch from sound (weeping etc.) to silence (wringing).

113 Natural word order would require ‘some fall by virtue’. Note that the hyperbaton also produces a chiasmus – Some (a) rise (b) by sin, and some (b) by virtue (a) fall – which is ideally suited to reinforce the elegant antitheses of sin and virtue, rising and falling. One could further argue that the hyperbaton, which produces disorder on the level of grammar and syntax, is the perfect figure of speech for the basic idea of the utterance: moral disorder, which manifests itself in the reward of sin and the punishment of virtue and implies that our universe is devoid of justice, i.e. as chaotic as the hyperbatic word order.

114 ‘To incarnadine’ means ‘to turn into the colour of flesh (Latin caro/carnis, carnis), dye red, redden’. A more familiar term with a similar etymology is ‘incarnation’.

115 The logical sequence would require ‘they turn the rudder and fly’. The example is a beautiful instance of enactment since the husteron proteron conveys a sense of how hastily (‘heel over head’ as it were) everyone is trying to get away.

116 Note that in modern literary criticism litotes is often used loosely to refer to simple negation (e.g. Shakespeare, Sonnet 130: ‘My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun...’).

117 Shakespeare expresses the degree to which Brutus’ unkindness outdid that of all the others pleonastically by using both the adverb ‘most’ and the superlative ending -est.

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