Urbanitas

cicero1

In consulatu Vatinii, quem paucis diebus gessit, notabilis Ciceronis urbanitas circumferebatur. “Magnum ostentum” inquit “anno Vatinii factum est, quod illo consule nec bruma nec ver nec aestas nec autumnus fuit. [Cicero, Dicta 31]” querenti deinde Vatinio quod gravatus esset domum ad se infirmatum venire, respondit, “volui in consulatu tuo venire, sed nox me comprehendit. [Dicta 32]” ulcisci autem se Cicero videbatur, ut qui respondisse sibi Vatinium meminerat, cum umeris se rei publicae de exilio reportatum gloriaretur, “Unde ergo tibi varices?”
(Macrobius, Sat. 2.3.5)

In Vatinius’ consulship, which he held for only a few days, one of Cicero’s noteworthy mots was in circulation: “A great marvel,” he said, “came to pass in the year of Vatinius, when there was neither winter nor spring nor summer nor fall while he was consul.” When Vatinius complained that Cicero had found it a bother to pay him a sick-call at home, Cicero replied, “I wanted to come during your consulship, but nightfall overtook me.” Cicero appeared to be getting his own back, since he recalled that when he boasted how he had been borne back from exile on the shoulders of the commonwealth, Vatinius had said, “How did you get those varicose veins, then?” (tr. Robert A. Kaster)

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