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

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Ingo Gildenhard

Commentary

§ 106: Antony Cocooned

Texte intégral

  • 66 The incident occurred between 129 and 125 BCE and is one example of the ‘extremely harsh and arbit (...)

1After the drunken debaucheries at Varro’s villa, Antony made his way back to Rome, shut off from the world in his litter. For a high magistrate of Rome, whom everyone wants to meet and greet, travelling behind closed curtains was in principle a violation of socio-political etiquette, not least since it humiliated the inhabitants of the townships located en route who were keen to see (and curry favour with) the representative of Roman power. There may of course have been perfectly good reasons for an official not to interact with the local population, such as the need for speed or ill health, but a closed litter also reminded people of a funeral procession with the corpse shielded from sight — and this is the association Cicero activates for invective purposes here. Commentators refer to a story attributed to Gaius Gracchus found in Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae 10.3.5, to illustrate the point about travel habits and the expectations and dynamics that informed face-to-face encounters between Roman magistrates and locals:66

Item Gracchus alio in loco ita dicit: ‘Quanta libido quantaque intemperantia sit hominum adulescentium, unum exemplum vobis ostendam. his annis paucis ex Asia missus est qui per id tempus magistratum non ceperat, homo adulescens pro legato. is in lectica ferebatur. ei obviam bubulcus de plebe Venusina advenit et per iocum, cum ignoraret qui ferretur, rogavit num mortuum ferrent. ubi id audivit, lecticam iussit deponi, struppis, quibus lectica deligata erat, usque adeo verberari iussit, dum animam efflavit.’

[Gracchus also in another place speaks as follows: ‘I will give you a single example of the lawlessness of our young men, and of their entire lack of self-control. Within the last few years a young man who had not yet held a magisterial office was sent as an envoy from Asia. He was carried in a litter. A herdsman, one of the peasants of Venusia, met him, and not knowing whom they were bearing, asked in jest if they were carrying a corpse. Upon hearing this, the young man ordered that the litter be set down and that the peasant be beaten to death with the thongs by which it was fastened.’]

2 Cum inde Romam proficiscens ad Aquinum accederet, obviam ei processit, ut est frequens municipium, magna sane multitudo: Cicero now traces Antony’s return journey back to Rome up the via Latina — and how he treated the representatives of the townships (municipia: see below) that he encountered on the way. obviam is here construed with the dative: a large number of the inhabitants of Aquinum (magna sane multitudo — placed last not least to sharpen the adversative at iste at the start of the following sentence) came forth (processit) ‘to meet him’ (obviam ei).

3 Romam proficiscens: proficiscor with the straight accusative (as here) means ‘to depart for a place, with the intent of entering it’, in contrast to profisciscor + ad + accusative, which means ‘to depart for a place, without the intent of entering it’.

4 municipium: in republican times, the status of municipium was given to ‘a [pre-existing] self-governing community in Italy (originally, one that accepted ciuitas sine suffragio [= citizenship without voting rights] in return for the performance of certain duties, munia)’(OLD s.v.). After the Social War (91–89 BCE), the inhabitants of all Italian municipia become full Roman citizens, with equal voting rights. See further Adkins and Adkins (2014: 142): ‘Coloniae … were new settlements of colonies established by the state to form a self-administering community, often with a strategic defensive function. Most colonies were founded on state-owned land, but sometimes they were established on land belonging to a municipium — an existing town incorporated into the Roman state, whose inhabitants might or might not be Roman citizens. … During the republic the title municipium (pl. municipia) was given to existing Italian towns, the inhabitants of which had been granted Roman citizenship without voting rights. These towns had a certain amount of independence, but foreign affairs came under the control of Roman magistrates. … After voting rights were conferred on all Italian communities in the early 1st century BC, citizens of municipia became full Roman citizens’. Also Rosenstein (2012: 82–93).

5 at iste operta lectica latus per oppidum est ut mortuus: the verb of the sentence is latus… est (third person singular perfect indicative passive from fero, ferre, tuli, latum — ‘to carry’). operta lectica is ablative: ‘in a closed litter’.

6 ut mortuus: corpses were carried to the funeral in closed litters — Antony, Cicero suggests, behaved as if he were dead.

7 stulte Aquinates [fecerunt]: sed tamen in via [Latina] habitabant: The Aquinates behaved foolishly, says Cicero — as they should have known what to expect; but at least there is a ready explanation for their futile efforts to greet Antony with the respect ordinarily owed to a Roman magistrate: their town is located right on the road (in via). The same excuse does not apply to the inhabitants of Anagna. See the following sentence.

8 quid Anagnini [fecerunt]? qui cum essent devii, descenderunt ut istum, tamquam si esset consul, salutarent: qui is a connecting relative (= ei), the subject of the adversative cum-clause (‘Even though they live in remote parts…’)

9 ut istum… salutarent: a purpose clause.

10 tamquam si esset consul: the tamquam-si-clause indicates the reason why the inhabitants of Anagna behaved the way they did. And of course Antony was a consul. But Cicero implies that, far from being an obvious fact, Antony being a consul is a mistaken assumption. He thus launches another attack on Rome’s constitutional realities. In his world, political identities get redefined according to his personal understanding of civic ethics: in his world, Antony does not fulfill the requisite criteria for being a consul; he is therefore a consul in name only, an impostor to be disregarded or even killed, rather than a ‘genuine’ magistrate of the Roman people. The searching examination of what key terms of Roman political culture such as ‘consul’ mean and what responsibilities and obligations they confer on the office-holder and to redefine them in terms of a civic ethics is a hallmark of Cicero’s speeches and philosophical writings: it is a Greek-inspired, philosophical approach to political discourse — and has the power to challenge fundamental certainties built into the Roman sense of reality.

11See also ad Atticum 14.6.2 = 360 SB, where Cicero complained about the incongruity that the tyrannicides are praised to the skies, while the tyrant’s actions are defended: sed vides consules, vides reliquos magistratus, si isti magistratus, vides languorem bonorum (‘But you see our Consuls and the rest of our magistrates, if these people are magistrates, and the apathy of the honest men’). This captures the dilemma and stalemate that Cicero struggled with: all the magistrates held their offices because of Caesar and would therefore saw off the branches on which they were sitting if they undid Caesar’s arrangements, whereas the liberators (the boni) believed that killing Caesar would in and of itself suffice to restore the senatorial commonwealth.

12 incredibile dictu + sed cum vinus + inter omnis constabat neminem esse resalutatum, praesertim cum duos secum Anagninos haberet, Mustelam et Laconem, quorum alter gladiorum est princeps, alter [princeps] poculorum: incredibile dictu is a self-contained parenthetical phrase, consisting of adjective + ablative supine of dico: ‘incredible as it is to say so’; the main verb is the impersonal constabat, which governs an indirect statement with neminem as subject accusative and esse resalutatum as verb. The force of praesertim cum is adversative: despite the fact that / even though.

13 + sed cum vinus +: this part of the manuscript tradition is so corrupt that modern editors have struggled to come up with a truly compelling restitution and many leave the words between so-called cruces (= corrupt beyond plausible restoration). The most recent proposal comes from Dyck (2017: 313): ‘I suspect that cum is intrusive from the preceding or following line and that uinus conceals ad unum: “incredible to say, but all to a man agreed that no one returned their greeting…”. ad may have dropped out following sed’. If that does not convince you, just ignore the muddle between the cruces.

14 Mustelam et Laconem: we know from a letter to Atticus (16.11.3 = 420 SB) that Cicero, in the draft of Philippic 2 he sent to Atticus, stopped the sentence after haberet. Atticus enquired about the identity of the two chaps from Anagnia, to which Cicero responded by supplying their names and identity tags: ‘Anagnini’ sunt Mustela taxiarchês et Laco qui plurimum bibit (‘The “men of Anagnia” are Mustela, the taxiarch, and Laco, the champion toper’). The revised version of the speech contains this material, suitably adjusted: while Cicero litters his letters to Atticus (‘Mr. Greek’) with Greek words (like taxiarchês), he keeps foreign terms out of his speeches. princeps gladiorum is a humorous and humiliating translation of taxiarches, especially when paired with princeps poculorum. Mustela also appears elsewhere as one of Antony’s henchmen: see Phil. 5.18, 8.26, and 12.14. Mustela is also the Latin term for ‘weasel’, an animal associated in Latin folklore with brides (indeed Mustela could also be a woman’s name): see Bettini (2000). Perhaps, then, the two chaps are designed to recall the two principal sins of Antony from the previous paragraph, i.e. lechery and boozing (in his company even someone called Laco, ‘Spartan’, gets addicted to the bottle).

Notes

66 The incident occurred between 129 and 125 BCE and is one example of the ‘extremely harsh and arbitrary treatment being meted out by Roman magistrates in Italian communities’ (Dart 2014: 57) that would fuel the Social War (91–88 BCE).

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