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

Ingo Gildenhard


§ 102: Antony Colonized a Colony!

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  • 61 For the following see Gargola (1995: 75–76).

1In republican Rome, founding a new colony was a complex political act that followed a detailed political and religious script.61 In Rome itself, this included a senatorial decree, the passing of a law by a legislative assembly, the election of colonial commissioners, the enlistment of the colonists, and the official departure to the settlement location (deductio). On site, the officials would take the auspices, demarcate the urban core of the new settlement with a special plow with a bronze plowshare by plowing the so-called sulcus primigenius (‘primeval furrow’) around the site of the new city, and purify the colonists in a ritual called lustrum, thereby also constituting them as a new civic community grounded in the new urban settlement.

2Respect for ritual protocols and political procedures was deeply engrained in Rome’s cultural imaginary, and every magistrate was well advised to abide as far as possible and/or convenient by the system of rules that governed public affairs, simply to avoid trouble down the road. And thus, when Antony had the idea of re-establishing a colony at Capua to settle veterans, a territory that Caesar had used for the same purpose, he seems to have checked with Cicero, as an expert in augural law and a consular, whether the plan would run into religious objections. Cicero’s reply was that, from the point of view of religious law, it was not permitted to found another colony in the territory of an already existing one; what was feasible was to add new settlers to the colony already in place. This was probably not quite the response Antony was hoping for, but he seems to have accepted Cicero’s ruling — for Capua. But when his mind turned to another location in the vicinity — Casilinum —, which had also been used for a colonial settlement by Caesar, he decided to dispense with consultation and simply went ahead, founding (it seems) an entirely new colony in the territory of the old one, essentially ignoring Cicero’s ruling on Capua (which, so Cicero argues, of course applied to Casilinum, as to any other location, as well).

3 Deduxisti coloniam Casilinum, quo Caesar ante [coloniam] deduxerat: Cicero uses verbal spacing and an implied chiasmus to reinforce the contrast between Antony and Caesar — (a) deduxisti (b) coloniam (c) Casilinum:: (c) quo (b) [ coloniam] (a) deduxerat. The up-front placement of the verb deduxisti inverts the natural word order, which is on display in the relative clause, and thus enacts Antony’s seemingly perverse upending of Caesar’s settlement.

4 Casilinum: an accusative of direction. Casilinum is a town in Campania, located about 3 miles to the North-West of Capua on the river Volturnus at the crossroads of the Via Appia and the Via Latina. In 59 BCE, Caesar established a colony of Pompey’s veterans there, which Antony ‘re-founded’ during his trip to Southern Italy in April / May 44 BCE.

5 ante: adverbial.

6 consuluisti me per litteras de Capua tu quidem, sed idem de Casilino respondissem: possesne, ubi colonia esset, eo coloniam novam iure deducere: Cicero here deviates from reporting events in strict chronological order: (i) consuluisti… tu quidem: he concedes that Antony consulted him about establishing a colony at Capua (though not with regard to Casilinum); (ii) sed idem… respondissem is a truncated past counterfactual condition: ‘if you had consulted me about Casilinum (si me consuluisses), I would have given you the same response as I did with regard to Capua’; (iii) possesne… deducere: now Cicero specifies what precisely Antony consulted him about. The following sentence (negavi… rescripsi) contains his answer.

7 quidem: concessive (‘you, it is true, did consult me…’)

8 idem… respondissem: idem is neuter accusative — the object of respondissem (in the pluperfect subjunctive as the apodosis of the (implied) past counterfactual condition).

9 possesne… deducere: a question (flagged by the enclitic-ne) in indirect discourse (hence the subjunctive) introduced by consuluisti. The second person singular is generic: ‘can one…’

10 per litteras: still used as a pretentious Latin tag in contemporary English (‘by means of letters’, ‘through written correspondence’). The correspondence — if it existed — has not survived. (It’s fishy that Antony, who was an augur himself, felt the need to turn to Cicero for advice given that he could have anticipated an uncooperative response. It’s bound to make you think… — not for the first time, the invective stance is wearing all too thin?)

11 negavi in eam coloniam quae esset auspicato deducta, dum esset incolumis, coloniam novam iure deduci: colonos novos ascribi posse rescripsi: Cicero’s finicky reply drew a distinction between founding a whole new colony (colonia) within the territory of a previously establish colony (not to be done) and enrolling new settlers (coloni novi) in the existing colony (quite possible). Instead of subsuming his negative ruling on the new colony within his response, Cicero presents it upfront as a self-standing main clause (negavi thus correlates with deduxisti and consuluisti), governing an indirect statement with coloniam novam as subject accusative and deduci as (passive) infinitive (hence the subjunctives in the quae- and dum-clauses). A second main clause follows, with rescripsi as verb governing the indirect statement with colonos novos as subject accusative and posse as infinitive.

12 quae esset auspicato deducta: as Ramsey (2003: 311) points out, the adverb auspicato ‘is in origin an ablative absolute comprising the perfect participle of auspicor’. Its meaning here is ‘with due regard to the auspices’, i.e. after due consultation of the will of the gods, which manifested their approval.

13 dum esset incolumis: incolumis here has a technical, legal-constitutional sense: while an already established colony is ‘fully functional’ /‘in good condition’as a colony, its territory is unavailable for a new foundation. (Cicero’s phrasing implies that the territory of a foundation that has collapsed could be re-colonized.)

14 ascribi: present passive infinitive: ‘to be added to — and hence enrolled in — the already existing list of settlers’. The point is that these colonists could join the established community, but were not permitted to found one of their own.

15 rescripsi: rescribere (‘to reply’) here has a technical sense: ‘“Rescripts” were issued by authorities in reply to questions raised with them, giving advice or rulings’ (Lacey 1986: 231).

16 tu autem insolentia elatus omni auspiciorum iure turbato Casilinum coloniam deduxisti, quo [colonia] erat paucis annis ante deducta, ut vexillum tolleres, ut aratrum circumduceres: in forceful antithesis (cf. the contemptuous opening tu autem), Cicero now presents Antony as disregarding Cicero’s expert advice on the technicalities of colonial settlements. To add insult to injury, Antony (so Cicero claims) took an active hand in the ritual procedures of the new foundation.

17 insolentia elatus: elatus (the perfect passive participle of effero) modifies tu: the sense seems to be: ‘raised above consideration for augural law because of your arrogance’.

18 omni auspiciorum iure turbato: an ablative absolute, even though the person who does the confounding of the augural law is Antony, the subject of the main clause.

19 Casilinum coloniam deduxisti: Casilinum is another accusative of direction (without preposition).

20 paucis annis ante: ablative of time followed by temporal adverb: ‘a few years previously’. The reference is to Caesar’s foundation during his consulship in 59 BCE.

21 ut vexillum tolleres: vexillum tollere is formed on the analogy signa tollere, which, in the sense of ‘to raise up [sc. by planting them into the ground]’ means ‘to strike camp’. See Haynes (2013: 218): ‘The standards are… the symbols par excellence of the Roman military community. In times of peace, they lie at the heart of the camp; in times of war, at the heart of the battle force. … The actions of the standard-bearers marked the pitching or striking of camp; so much so, in fact, that the term signa tollere came to represent striking camp in Latin speech’. But it could also mean ‘to raise them up [sc. by removing them from the ground]’ in order to march on. The ambiguity may be deliberate insofar as Antony does both: he moves the old Caesarian standards and plants the new ones. Perhaps the reference is specifically to the censorial rites performed during the new foundation at Casilinum, which included (i) taking of the auspices, (ii) summoning of the people according to centuries for purification, (iii) the leading of three sacrificial victims (a bull, a boar, and a ram: suovetaurilia) around the assembled citizen body, (iv) the actual sacrifice complete with vow for its repetition the following year if public welfare continued, and, finally, (v) the return of the citizen body into the city led by the censor with a standard or vexillum. See Gargola (1995: 77) with reference to Varro, de Lingua Latina 6.93: … censor exercitum centuriato constituit quinquennalem, cum lustrare et in urbem ad vexillum ducere debet (‘… the censor arranges in centuries the citizen-army for a period of five years, when he must ceremonially purify it and lead it to the city under its standards’).

22 cuius quidem vomere portam Capuae paene perstrinxisti, ut florentis coloniae territorium minueretur: cuius is a connecting relative (= et eius), referring back to aratrum: ‘And indeed [emphatic quidem after connecting relative: OLD s.v. 2b], with its share [i.e. the share of the plough] you all but (paene) grazed the gate of Capua…’Antony seems to have used this opportunity to get his own back for the hostile treatment he received from the city: see above § 100. But whether ‘Mark Antony personally directed the lustrum and plowed the furrow for the colony at Casilinum in 44’ (Gargola (1995: 180), following Cicero) remains a matter of speculation.


61 For the following see Gargola (1995: 75–76).


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