Weekend Reading: M. Tullius Cicero to C. Pomponius Atticus, October 1, 54 BC: 4.XVII: On "Western Civilization"—Oxfordians Are too Stupid and Uncivilized to Be Worth Enslaving
Weekend Reading: I am flashing to C. Julius Caesar sending British academics who talk about the glories of "western civilization" to the Spanish coal mines or to the gladiator schools: "The result of the British war is a source of anxiety.... There isn't a pennyweight of silver in that island, nor any hope of booty except from slaves, among whom I don't suppose you can expect any instructed in literature or music..." (ex quibus nullos puto te litteris aut musicis eruditos exspectare).
TO ATTICUS (ABROAD): ROME, 1 OCTOBER, 54 BC http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=PerseusLatinTexts&getid=1&query=Cic.%20Att.%204.17: "You think I imagine that I write more rarely to you than I used to do from having forgotten my regular habit and purpose...
...but the fact is that, perceiving your locality and journeys to be equally uncertain, I have never entrusted a letter to anyone—either for Epirus, or Athens, or Asia, or anywhere else—unless he was going expressly to you. For my letters are not of the sort to make their non-delivery a matter of indifference; they contain so many confidential secrets that I do not as a rule trust them even to an amanuensis, for fear of some jest leaking out in some direction or another.>The consuls are in a blaze of infamy because Gaius Memmius, one of the candidates, read out in the senate a compact which he and his fellow candidate, Domitius Calvinus, had made with the consuls—that both were to forfeit to the consuls 40 sestertia apiece (in case they were themselves elected consuls) if they did not produce (a) three augurs to depose that they had been present at the passing of a lex curiata, which, in fact, had not been passed; and (b) two consulars to depose to having helped to draft a decree for furnishing the consular provinces, though there had not even been a meeting of the senate at all. As this compact was alleged not to have been a mere verbal one, but to have been drawn up with the sums to be paid duly entered, formal orders for payment, and written attestations of many persons, it was, on the suggestion of Pompey, produced by Memmius, but with the names obliterated.
It has made no difference to Appius—he had no character to lose! To the other consul it was a real knock-down blow, and he is, I assure you, a ruined man.
Memmius, however, having thus dissolved the coalition, has lost all chance of election, and is by this time in a worse position than ever, because we are now informed that his revelation is strongly disapproved of by Caesar. Our friend Messalla and his fellow candidate, Domitius Calvinus, have been very liberal to the people. Nothing can exceed their popularity. They are certain to be consuls. But the senate has passed a decree that a "trial with closed doors" should be held before the elections in respect to each of the candidates severally by the panels already allotted to them all.
The candidates are in a great fright. But certain jurors—among them Opimius, Veiento, and Rantius—appealed to the tribunes to prevent their being called upon to act as jurors without an order of the people. [Note] The business goes on. The comitia are postponed by a decree of the senate till such time as the law for the "trial with closed doors " is carried. The day for passing the law arrived. Terentius vetoed it. The consuls, having all along conducted this business in a half-hearted kind of way, referred the matter back to the senate. Hereupon-Bedlam! my voice being heard with the rest.
"Aren't you wise enough to keep quiet, after all?" you will say. Forgive me: I can hardly restrain myself. But, nevertheless, was there ever such a farce? The senate had voted that the elections should not be held till the law was passed: that, in case of a tribunician veto, the whole question should be referred to them afresh. The law is introduced in a perfunctory manner: is vetoed, to the great relief of the proposers: the matter is referred to the senate. Upon that the senate voted that it was for the interest of the state that the elections should be held at the earliest possible time!
Scaurus, who had been acquitted a few days before, after a most elaborate speech from me on his behalf—when all the days >Up to the 29th of September (On which I write this) had one after the other been rendered impossible for the comitia by notices of ill omens put in by Scaevola—paid the people what they expected at his own house, tribe by tribe. But all the same, though his liberality was more generous, it was not so acceptable as that of the two mentioned above, who had got the start of him. I could have wished to see your face when you read this; for I am certain you entertain some hope that these transactions will occupy a great many weeks!
But there is to be a meeting of the senate today, that is, the 1st of October—for day is already breaking. There no one will speak his mind except Antius and Favonius, for Cato is ill. Don't be afraid about me: nevertheless, I make no promises.
Is there anything else you want to know? Anything? Yes, the trials, I think. Drusus and Scaurus are believed not to have been guilty. Three candidates are thought likely to be prosecuted: Domitius Calvinus by Memmius, Messalla by Q. Pompeius Rufus, Scaurus [Note] by Triarius or by L. Caesar. "What will you be able to say for them?" quoth you. May I die if I know! In those books certainly, of which you speak so highly, I find no suggestion.
Now for the rest.
From my brother's letter I gather surprising indications of Caesar's affection for me, and they have been confirmed by a very cordial letter from Caesar himself. The result of the British war is a source of anxiety. For it is ascertained that the approaches to the island are protected by astonishing masses of cliff. Moreover, it is now known that there isn't a pennyweight of silver in that island, nor any hope of booty except from slaves, among whom I don't suppose you can expect any instructed in literature or music.
Paullus has almost brought his basilica in the forum to the roof, using the same columns as were in the ancient building: the part for which he gave out a contract he is building on the most magnificent scale. Need I say more? Nothing could be more gratifying or more to his glory than such a monument.
Accordingly, the friends of Caesar—I mean myself and Oppius, though you burst with anger—have thought nothing of 60,000 sestertia for that monument, which you used to speak of in such high terms, in order to enlarge the forum and extend it right up to the Hall of Liberty. The claims of private owners could not be satisfied for less. We will make it a most glorious affair. For in the Campus Martius we are about to erect voting places for the comitia tributa, of marble and covered, and to surround them with a lofty colonnade a mile in circumference: at the same time the Villa Publica will also be connected with these erections.
You will say: "What good will this monument do me?" But why should I trouble myself about that? I have told you all the news at Rome: for I don't suppose you want to know about the lustrum, of which there is now no hope, or about the trials which are being held under the (Cincian) law.
Puto te existimare me nunc oblitum consuetudinis et instituti mei rarius ad te scribere quam solebam; sed quoniam loca et itinera tua nihil habere certi video, neque in Epirum neque Athenas neque in Asiam cuiquam nisi ad te ipsum proficiscenti dedi litteras. Neque enim [eae] sunt epistulae nostrae quae si perlatae non sint nihil ea res nos offensura sit; quae tantum habent mysteriorum ut eas ne librariis quidem fere committamus, lepidum quo excidat.
Consules flagrant infamia quod C. Memmius candidatus pactionem in senatu recitavit quam ipse [et] suus competitor Domitius cum consulibus fecisset uti ambo HS quadragena consulibus darent, si essent ipsi consules facti, nisi tris augures dedissent qui se adfuisse dicerent cum lex curiata ferretur quae lata non esset, et duo consularis qui se dicerent in ornandis provinciis consularibus scribendo adfuisse, cum omnino ne senatus quidem fuisset. Haec pactio non verbis sed nominibus et perscriptionibus multorum tabulis cum esse facta diceretur, prolata a Memmio est nominibus inductis auctore Pompeio.
Hic Appius erat idem. Nihil sane iacturae. Corruerat alter et plane inquam iacebat.
Memmius autem dirempta coitione invito Calvino plane refrixerat et eo magis nunc totus iacet quod iam intellegebamus enuntiationem illam Memmi valde Caesari displicere. Messalla noster et eius Domitius competitor liberalis in populo valde fuit. Nihil gratius. Certi erant Consules. At senatus decrevit ut tacitum iudicium ante comitia fieret ab iis consiliis quae erant [ex] omnibus sortita in singulos candidatos.
Magnus timor candidatorum. sed quidam iudices, in his Opimius, Veiento, Rantius, tribunos pl. appellarunt, ne iniussu populi iudicarent. res cedit; comitia dilata ex senatus consulto dum lex de tacito iudicio ferretur. venit legi dies. Terentius intercessit. consules qui illud levi bracchio egissent rem ad senatum detulerunt. Hic abdera non tacente me.
Dices tamen tu non quiescis? Ignosce, vix possum. Verum tamen quid tam ridiculum? Senatus decreverat ne prius comitia haberentur quam lex lata esset; si qui intercessisset, res integra referretur. coepta ferri leviter, intercessum non invitis, res ad senatum. de ea re ita censuerunt comitia primo quoque tempore haberi esse e re publica.
Scaurus qui erat paucis diebus illis absolutus, cum ego †patrem† eius ornatissime defendissem, obnuntiationibus per Scaevolam interpositis singulis diebus usque ad pr. Kal. Octobr. (quo ego haec die scripsi), sublatis populo tributim domi suae satis fecerat. sed tamen etsi uberior liberalitas huius, gratior esse videbatur eorum qui occuparant. Cuperem vultum videre tuum cum haec legeres; nam profecto spem habes nullam haec negotia multarum nundinarum fore.
Sed senatus hodie fuerat futurus, id est Kal. Octobribus; iam enim luciscit. Ibi loquetur praeter Antium et Favonium libere nemo; nam Cato aegrotat. de me nihil timueris, sed tamen promitto nihil.
Quid quaeris aliud? Iudicia, credo. Drusus, Scaurus non fecisse videntur. Tres candidati fore rei putabantur, Domitius a Memmio, Messalla a Q. Pompeio Rufo, Scaurus a Triario aut a L. Caesare. Quid poteris inquies pro iis dicere? Ne vivam [si] scio; in illis quidem tribus libris quos tu dilaudas nihil reperio.
Ex fratris litteris incredibilia de Caesaris in me amore cognovi, eaque sunt ipsius Caesaris uberrimis litteris confirmata. Britannici belli exitus exspectatur; constat enim aditus insulae esse muratos mirificis molibus. Etiam illud iam cognitum est neque argenti scripulum esse ullum in illa insula neque ullam spem praedae nisi ex mancipiis; ex quibus nullos puto te litteris aut musicis eruditos exspectare.
Paulus in medio foro basilicam iam paene texerat isdem antiquis columnis, illam autem quam locavit facit magnificentissimam. Quid quaeris? Nihil gratius illo monumento, nihil gloriosius.
Itaque Caesaris amici, me dico et Oppium, dirumparis licet, [in] monumentum illud quod tu tollere laudibus solebas, ut forum laxaremus et usque ad atrium Libertatis explicaremus, contempsimus sexcenties HS; cum privatis non poterat transigi minore pecunia. Efficiemus rem gloriosissimam; Nam in Campo Martio saepta tributis comitiis marmorea sumus et tecta facturi eaque cingemus excelsa porticu, ut mille passuum conficiatur. Simul adiungetur huic operi villa etiam publica.
Dices quid mihi hoc monumentum proderit? Ad quid id laboramus res Romanas: non enim te puto de lustro quod iam desperatum est, aut de iudiciis quae lege Coctia fiant quaerere.