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Cicero, Philippic 2, 44–50, 78–92, 100–119

Ingo Gildenhard


§ 100: Further Forgeries and a Veteran Foundation

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1In §§ 92–97, Cicero blasts Antony for the forged decrees of Caesar that he used to enrich himself or to recall exiles, following up with two paragraphs (§§ 98–99) devoted to Antony’s alleged mistreatment of his uncle C. Antonius Hybrida (Cicero’s colleague as consul in 63), who had otherwise a rather checkered record: in 70, he was temporarily expelled from the senate because of bankruptcy and in 59 he was exiled because of provincial mismanagement. At the beginning of § 100, Cicero returns to Antony’s mishandling of Caesar’s state papers (ad chirographa redeamus), a topic which he here brings to a close with reference to the timeframe initially established for a review of Caesar’s archive. The relevant senatorial decree was passed at the end of March / beginning of April. The official review was supposed to begin in June. In the intervening period, Antony was largely absent from Rome on a trip to Southern Italy: he tried to shore up personal support among Caesar’s veterans, who were also being wooed by Caesar’s heir Caesar Octavianus (the future Augustus), by securing land for their settlement. This trip and Antony’s return to Rome is Cicero’s main focus in §§ 100b–108.

  • 58 See Gargola (1995) and below 323–24.
  • 59 See Cic. Att. 15.19.2 = 396 SB, Phil. 5.7, 5.21, 8.26, 12.23; Dio 45.9.

2In the course of imperial expansion, the Romans evolved a set of procedures involving politics, law and religion which regulated the use of public lands acquired through conquest, including the establishment of colonies, which was one way of helping former soldiers and needy citizens.58 At the same time, land distribution to veterans was a highly controversial issue in late-republican Rome and helped to precipitate the civil war. When generals returned from campaigns abroad, they wanted to settle their long-serving soldiers, to reward them for their services and to establish a powerful base of clients. This transformation of ephemeral military glory into a long-standing source of social capital grated with the senatorial elite, especially when the settlements were large-scale — as when Pompey returned after his defeat of Mithridates. At every turn, the senate blocked his attempts to have his arrangements in the East ratified and his soldiers settled — and thus drove Pompey into the arms of Caesar, who, as consul of 59 BCE, pushed through the necessary legislation even against massive senatorial resistance. Caesar himself arranged for the settlement of his soldiers in 45 BCE; and in June 44 BCE, Antony and Dolabella passed a law that set up a commission of seven charged with dividing up land among veterans and the urban poor.59

3 Sed ad chirographa redeamus: chirographum is a loanword from the Greek (cheirographon), consisting of the Greek term for ‘hand’ (cheir) + the word for writing (graphein). Here it refers to those acts of Caesar that only existed in draft form — and had not yet been inscribed on bronze and displayed in public. One could imagine Cicero investing ad chirographa with a knowing touch of sarcasm. redeamus is an exhortative subjunctive (‘let us return…’).

4 quae tua fuit cognitio?: cognitio here has the technical sense of ‘formal review’ undertaken by the magistrate in charge. See Kunkel (1995: 145–46), who discusses cognoscere and cognitio of magistrates in the context of civil law. Among other things, Kunkel notes that the cognitio of magistrates was undertaken as a quasi-legal exercise, i.e. following certain procedural principles. One of these principles was the constitution and participation of a consilium, at least in those circumstances when the case at issue was of significance. Conversely, cognitio sine consilio (‘a formal examination of the facts of the matter without involvement of a board of advisors’) was considered reprehensible. This fact endows the emphatic separation of tua from cognitio with a particular punch. The attribute suggests that Antony conducted the formal review according to his own whim and will, without subjecting his findings to the oversight of others. It is hence hardly surprising that Antony’s so-called ‘review’ somehow managed to unearth hitherto unknown (= forged) acts of Caesar — a fraudulent abuse of magisterial authority.

5 acta enim Caesaris pacis causa confirmata sunt a senatu; [ea] quae quidem Caesar egisset, non ea quae egisse Caesarem dixisset Antonius: Cicero inserts a meta-comment into his string of questions, recapitulating the compromise reached between Antony and the senate in the meeting on 17 March — i.e. to approve Caesar’s acts, but of course only those that actually were Caesar’s. The comment is set up by the dialogic discourse particle enim, by which a speaker appeals to interpersonal consensus (Kroon 1995); the sense here is akin to: ‘let’ s briefly rehearse some obvious facts’. The second part of the sentence (quae… Antonius) stands in apposition to acta, as Cicero sees an obvious need to define the notion of ‘Caesar’ s acta’ further with two relative clauses of characteristic (hence the subjunctive, here expressing restriction and proviso: Allen and Greenough 535d). The ‘particularizing-limiting’ sense of the particle quidem here, which often occurs in restrictive relative clauses (OLD s.v. 1d), reinforces the distinction between acta that are genuine and acta forged by Antony. The second quae doubles as accusative object of both dixisset and egisse; dixisset introduces an indirect statement with Caesarem as subject accusative and egisse as infinitive.

6 pacis causâ… a senatu: the ablative of causa can function as a preposition + genitive: ‘for the sake of peace’. Here the phrase stresses that Cicero is unwilling to invest Caesar’s acts with any inherent authority — the only reason they were confirmed was to broker peace between the liberators and the Caesarians. The postponed ablative of agency a senatu has the same purpose — it emphatically re-establishes the senate as the centre of political decision-making.

7 quae… Caesar egisset, non ea quae egisse Caesarem dixisset Antonius: the chiasmus Caesar: egisset:: egisse: Caesarem and the emphatic postponement of Antonius (as far away from Caesar in the nominative as possible) reinforce the contrast between genuine and forged acta. Cicero implies, tendentiously, that all the acts that Antony claims to have found in Caesar’s archive are forgeries.

8 unde ista erumpunt, quo auctore [ista] proferuntur? si sunt falsa, cur probantur? si [sunt] vera, cur veneunt?: Cicero uses four questions grouped in two pairs (unde quo auctore; cur cur) to present a dilemma designed to shore up the point that Antony is abusing his privileged access to Caesar’s state papers: either his archival ‘discoveries’ are forged inventions — then they should not be approved; or they are authentic manifestations of Caesar’s will — then they should not command a bribe for being put into practice. Cicero’s use of the present tense throughout (erumpunt, proferuntur, probantur, veneunt) is ominous: he is not talking of a past transgression, but an ongoing scandal. The (scornful) deictic pronoun ista refers back only and specifically to those acts that Antony pretends to be Caesar’s — ea quae egisse Caesarem dixisset Antonius — and not Caesar’s actual acts (quae… Caesar egisset).

9 quo auctore proferuntur?: the interrogative pronoun quo is here part of a nominal ablative absolute (‘nominal’ since it consists of a pronoun and a noun, rather than the usual noun + participle combination); to translate, turn the pronoun into a genitive: ‘on whose authority are they produced?

10 at sic placuerat ut ex Kalendis Iuniis de Caesaris actis cum consilio cognosceretis: placet in the past tenses (perfect placuit or, as here, pluperfect placuerat) is used to refer to decisions made by the senate or some other authority (OLD s.v. 5b): ‘it had been resolved that…’ Cicero’s prose leaves it entirely ambiguous who was responsible for postponing the formal examination of Caesar’s archive until June. As Ramsey (1994: 134, n. 13) points out, ‘the decree itself did not contain the provision for the postponement until 1 June, nor did the Senate pass a separate decree providing for the postponement, although quite a few scholars have jumped to this false conclusion’.

11 ex Kalendis Iuniis: ex here specifies the moment in time when the review was supposed to begin (‘commencing on the calends of June’).

12 de Caesaris actis… cognosceretis: cognoscere de here has again the technical, quasi-legal sense of ‘to investigate formally to ascertain the facts about…’

13 cum consilio: the consilium is a typically Roman institution: it was in effect a group of esteemed and experienced persons who acted in an advisory capacity; any Roman in a position of power, whether in his role as paterfamilias or as a (pro-) magistrate of the Roman people, was expected to consult his consilium before making an important or difficult decision. See Kunkel (1995: 135–41). Here, the advisory group was designed to ensure that Antony played by the rules in his handling of Caesar’s state papers.

14 quod fuit consilium, quem umquam advocasti, quas Kalendas Iunias expectasti? an eas [Kalendas] ad quas te peragratis veteranorum coloniis stipatum armis rettulisti?: Cicero here blasts Antony for failing to put the senatorial decree drafted by Sulpicius (above 297–98) into practice: he did not summon any advisory council and let the specified deadline at which the review of Caesar’s acta was supposed to begin (the Calends of June) pass. an eas picks up Kalendas: ‘those perhaps, by which…?’ The verb is the reflexive te… rettulisti (lit. ‘returned yourself’); stipatum is a perfect passive participle in the accusative masculine singular, agreeing with the reflexive pronoun te and governing the ablative armis: ‘you returned, loaded with weapons’.

15 peragratis veteranorum coloniis: an ablative absolute, even though the one who is doing the traversing is Antonius, the subject of the relative clause.

16 o praeclaram illam percursationem tuam mense Aprili atque Maio, tum cum etiam Capuam coloniam deducere conatus es!: o… tuam is an accusative of exclamation, followed by an ablative of time (‘in April and May’).

17 Capuam coloniam deducere: Capuam is a so-called ‘accusative of place to which’, which normally takes a preposition such as ad, except when the destination is a city (as here), town, a small islands, ‘home’ (domus) or the countryside (rus). (Cf. English: I am going home — domum eo; ‘I am going to Capua’— Capuam eo.) coloniam deducere means ‘to found a colony’. See Gargola (1995: 217): ‘Forms of two verbs usually denoted the act of establishing a colony. The more frequently encountered expression, preferred by writers affecting the annalistic style, was some form of the words, coloniam deducere, while another, less frequently used phrase was coloniam condere’.

18 quem ad modum illinc abieris vel potius paene non abieris scimus: quem ad modum… non abieris is an indirect question (hence the subjunctive) governed by scimus. Apparently, Antony ‘was roughly handled in Capua, as the old settlers looked with an evil eye on his new colonists, as intruders on their rights’ (Mayor 1861: 141). Cicero suggests that he ‘barely’ (paene) escaped with his life — surely an exaggeration.

19 abieris: second person singular perfect subjunctive active.


58 See Gargola (1995) and below 323–24.

59 See Cic. Att. 15.19.2 = 396 SB, Phil. 5.7, 5.21, 8.26, 12.23; Dio 45.9.


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