for the delivery of corn, and so compel the farmer to compound by a payment in money which the orator does not blame, on the ground that it is only proper to allow magistrates to receive corn wherever they wish (ib. iii. 190). From the speech pro Cluentio (145-154) we gain unique information concerning the condition of society in a country town, the extraordinary exemption of equites from prosecution for judicial corruption, the administration of domestic justice in the case of slaves examined by their owner (ib. 176-187). But we have always to be on our guard against misrepresentation, exaggeration and falsehood. The value of the letters lies in the fact that in them we get behind Cicero and are face to face with the other dramatis personae; also that we are admitted behind the scenes and read the secret history of the times. One of the most interesting documents in the correspondence is a despatch of Caesar to his agent Oppius, written in great haste and in disjointed sentences. It runs as follows: “On the 9th I came to Brundisium. Pompey is at Brundisium. He sent Magius to me to treat of peace. I gave him a suitable answer” (Att. ix. 13, Ai.). In the de Bello civili, on the other hand, Caesar, who wishes to show that he did his best to make peace, after stating that he sent his captive Magius to negotiate, expresses mild surprise at the fact that Pompey did not send him back (Bell. Civ. i. 26). We hear of the extraordinary agreement made by two candidates for the consulship in Caesar’s interest with the sitting consuls of 54 B.C., which Cicero says he hardly ventures to put on paper. Under the terms of this the consuls, who were optimates, bound themselves to betray their party by securing, apparently fraudulently, the election of the candidates while they in turn bound themselves to procure two ex-consuls who would swear that they were present in the senate when supplies were voted for the consular provinces, though no meeting of the senate had been held, and three augurs who would swear that a lex curiata had been passed, though the comitia curiata had not been convened (Att. iv. 18. 2). But perhaps the most singular scene is the council of three great ladies presided over by Servilia at Antium, which decides the movements of Brutus and Cassius in June 44 B.C., when Cassius “looking very fierce—you would say that he was breathing fire and sword”—blustered concerning what he considered an insult, viz. a commission to supply corn which had been laid upon him. Servilia calmly remarks she will have the commission removed from the decree of the senate (Att. xv. 11. 2).
(v.) Miscellaneous.—It is not necessary to dwell upon the other forms of literary composition attempted by Cicero. He was a fluent versifier, and would write 500 verses in one night. Considerable fragments from a juvenile translation of Aratus have been preserved. His later poems upon his own consulship and his exile were soon forgotten except for certain lines which provoked criticism, such as the unfortunate verse:
“O fortunatam natam me consule Romam.”
He wrote a memoir of his consulship in Greek and at one time thought of writing a history of Rome. Nepos thought that he would have been an ideal historian, but as Cicero ranks history with declamation and on one occasion with great naïveté asks Lucius Lucceius (q.v.), who was embarking on this task, to embroider the facts to his own credit, we cannot accept this criticism (Fam. vi. 2. 3).
(vi.) Authenticity.—The genuineness of certain works of Cicero has been attacked. It was for a long time usual to doubt the authenticity of the speeches post reditum and pro Marcello. Recent scholars consider them genuine. As their rhythmical structure corresponds more or less exactly with the canon of authenticity formed by Zielinski from the other speeches, the question may now be considered closed. Absurd suspicion has been cast upon the later speeches in Catilinam and that pro Archia. An oration pridie quam in exsilium iret is certainly a forgery, as also a letter to Octavian. There is a “controversy” between Cicero and Sallust which is palpably a forgery, though a quotation from it occurs in Quintilian. Suspicion has been attached to the letters to Brutus, which in the case of two letters (i. 16 and 17) is not unreasonable since they somewhat resemble the style of suasoriae, or rhetorical exercises, but the latest editors, Tyrrell and Purser, regard these also as genuine.
Criticism. (i.) Ancient.—After Cicero’s death his character was attacked by various detractors, such as the author of the spurious Controversia put into the mouth of Sallust, and the calumniator from whom Dio Cassius (xlvi. 1-28) draws the libellous statements which he inserts into the speech of Q. Fufius Calenus in the senate. Of such critics, Asconius (in Tog. Cand. p. 95) well says that it is best to ignore them. His prose style was attacked by Pollio as Asiatic, also by his son, Asinius Gallus, who was answered by the emperor Claudius (Suet. 41). The writers of the silver age found fault with his prolixity, want of sparkle and epigram, and monotony of his clausulae. A certain Largius Licinius gained notoriety by attacking his Latinity in a work styled Ciceromastix. His most devoted admirers were the younger Pliny, who reproduced his oratorical style with considerable success, and Quintilian (x. 1. 112), who regarded him as the perfect orator, and draws most of his illustrations from his works. At a later period his style fascinated Christian writers, notably Lactantius, the “Christian Cicero,” Jerome and S. Augustine, who drew freely from his rhetorical writings.
The first commentator upon Cicero was Asconius, a Roman senator living in the reign of Claudius, who wrote a commentary upon the speeches, in which he explains obscure historical points for the instruction of his sons (see Asconius). Passing over a number of grammatical and rhetorical writers who drew illustrations from Cicero, we may mention the Commentary of Victorinus, written in the 4th century, upon the treatise de Inventione, and that of Boethius (A.D. 480–524) upon the Topica. Among scholiasts may be mentioned the Scholiasta Bobiensis who is assigned to the 5th century, and a pseudo-Asconius, who wrote notes upon the Verrines dealing with points of grammar and rhetoric.
(ii.) Medieval Scholars.—In the middle ages Cicero was chiefly known as a writer on rhetoric and morals. The works which were most read were the de Inventione and Topica—though neither of these was quite so popular as the treatise ad Herennium, then supposed to be by Cicero—and among the moral works, the de Officiis, and the Cato Maior. John of Salisbury (1110–1180) continually quotes from rhetorical and philosophical writings, but only once from the speeches. The value set upon the work de Inventione is shown by a passage in which Notker (d. 1022) writing to his bishop says that he has lent a MS. containing the Philippics and a commentary upon the Topics, but has received as a pledge something far more valuable, viz. the de Inventione, and the “famous commentary of Victorinus.” We have an interesting series of excerpts made by a priest named Hadoard, in the 9th century, taken from all the philosophical writings now preserved, also from the de Oratore.
The other works of Cicero are seldom mentioned. The most popular speeches were those against Catiline, the Verrines, Caesarianae and Philippics, to which may be added the spurious Controversia. A larger knowledge of the speeches is shown by Wibald, abbot of Corvey, who in 1146 procured from Hildesheim a MS. containing with the Philippics the speeches against Rullus, wishing to form a corpus of Ciceronian works. Gerbert (afterwards Pope Silvester II., 940–1003) was especially interested in the speeches, and in a letter to a friend (Epist. 86) advises him to take them with him when journeying. The letters are rarely mentioned. The abbey of Lorsch possessed in the 9th century five MSS. containing “Letters of Cicero,” but those to Atticus are only mentioned once, in the catalogue of Cluny written in the 12th century. Letters of Cicero were known to Wibald of Corvey, also to Servatus Lupus, abbot of Ferrières (805–832), who prosecuted in the 9th century a search for MSS. which reminds us of the Italian humanists in the 15th century. A good deal of textual criticism must have been devoted to Cicero’s works during this period. The earliest critic was Tiro, who, as we know from Aulus Gellius (i. 7. 1), corrected MSS. which were greatly valued as containing his recension. We have a very interesting colophon to the speeches against Rullus, in which Statilius Maximus states that he had corrected the text by the help of a MS. giving the recension of Tiro, which he had collated with five other ancient copies.It is interesting to notice that Servatus Lupus did similar work in the 9th century. Thus, writing to Ansbald of Prüm, he says, “I will collate the letters of Cicero which you sent with the copy
- Markland and F. A. Wolf first rejected them.
- In the speeches generally L+V = 86 %. In the de Domo the proportion is 88 and in the pro Marcello 87 %.
- Quintil. iv. 1. 68. It is possible that the writer may have used a quotation preserved from a real speech by Quintilian.
- Tacitus, Dial. 22 “omnis clausulas uno et eodem modo determinet.”
- Ed. P. Piper, p. 861.
- Philologus (1886), Suppl. Bd. v.
- Jaffé, Bibl. Rer. German., i. 326.
- Delisle, Cabinet des MSS., ii 459.
- “Statilius Maximus rursus emendavi ad Tironem et Laeccanianum et dom. et alios veteres III.” He was a grammarian who lived at the end of the 2nd century.