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

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Ingo Gildenhard

Commentary

§ 105: Animal House: The Sequel

Texte intégral

1Cicero continues to lambast Antony for defiling Varro’s domicile of learning, contrasting Varro’s intellectual achievements across all areas of culture with Antony’s obscene indulgence in orgies of booze and sex. Towards the end of the paragraph, he moves on to rake Antony over the coals for his asocial behaviour towards representatives of local communities who came to greet him (as was expected of them when a Roman consul happened to stay in the vicinity).

2Quae in illa villa antea dicebantur, quae cogitabantur, quae litteris mandabantur! iura populi Romani, monumenta maiorum, omnis sapientiae ratio omnisque doctrinae: Cicero hails Varro’s intellectual achievements in two tricola. First, we get a tricolon of generic verbs (reinforced by the triple anaphora of quae), referring to speech (dicebantur), thought (cogitabantur), and writing (litteris mandabantur). Then comes a tricolon of noun phrases in apposition, referring more specifically to a cross-section of Varro’s extensive literary oeuvre: fifteen books on law the de Iure Civili (iura populi Romani); a range of antiquarian writings, including his Antiquitates Rerum Humanarum et Divinarum in 41 books (monumenta maiorum); and the recently completed three books de Forma Philosophiae (though omnis sapientiae ratio omnisque doctrina may be a generalizing appreciation of Varro’s comprehensive learning).

3omnis sapientiae ratio omnisque doctrinae: ‘systematic comprehension (ratio) of every kind of wisdom (omnis sapientiae) and every kind of learning (omnis doctrinae)’; the -que after omnis links the two genitive phrases dependent on ratio.

4at vero te inquilino — non enim domino — personabant omnia vocibus ebriorum, natabant pavimenta vino, madebant parietes [vino], ingenui pueri cum meritoriis, scorta inter matres familias versabantur: by contrast to the lofty intellectual pursuits of Varro, with Antony as lodger the house has become a den of iniquity. Note the strongly adversative particle at, followed by the consensus-asserting particle vero. We first get an asyndetic tricolon of clauses with the verbs in front position (personabant, natabant, madebant) that sketch out the impact of Antony’s inebriated entourage on the domestic spaces and the architecture—the visitors make an infernal din and slop wine everywhere — before Cicero goes on to provide details of the debaucheries that allegedly took place: in an appalling eradication of social distinctions, free-born boys (ingenui pueri) consort with toy-boys for hire (cum meritoriis), whores from street-corners (scorta) with matrons (matres familias). We’re hardly going to take Cicero’s fanciful description at face value, but cf. Edwards (1993: 188): ‘The after-dinner entertainers and the beautiful slave boys who serve the food and wine are often represented as providers of sexual gratification. This was… a costly pleasure’.

5te inquilino: a nominal ablative absolute consisting of a personal pronoun (te) and a noun (inquilino) with no verb. Cicero keeps rubbing it in that Antony, who would have very much liked to be the dominus of the house, failed in his attempt at confiscation.

6non enim domino [dicam]: Cicero adds a brief gloss on his use of inquilino (‘lodger’): ‘because (enim: the particle is explanatory) I won’t say “domino”’(‘master’).

7Casino salutatum veniebant, Aquino, Interamna: admissus est nemo: Casino, Aquino, and Interamna are ablatives of origin: ‘people came from…’. Aquinum was located seven miles west, Interamna six miles south of Casinum.

8salutatum: a supine expressing purpose: ‘to pay their respects’.

9iure id quidem [factum est]; in homine enim turpissimo obsolefiebant dignitatis insignia: Cicero mockingly approves: ‘this (id), at any rate (quidem), was done with good reason (iure)’—and then gives the reason (another explanatory enim): ‘the marks of rank and distinction were disappearing in this utterly disgraceful human being’. dignitas refers to the (official) socio-political rank and standing of Antony, owed to his achievements and his office (he was, after all, consul at the time). Cicero argues that Antony’s moral turpitude has rendered any claim to special homage and respect obsolete — and that Antony acts accordingly.

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