Populare

cicero1

Ego qualem Kalendis Ianuariis acceperim rem publicam, Quirites, intellego, plenam sollicitudinis, plenam timoris; in qua nihil erat mali, nihil adversi quod non boni metuerent, improbi exspectarent; omnia turbulenta consilia contra hunc rei publicae statum et contra vestrum otium partim iniri, partim nobis consulibus designatis inita esse dicebantur; sublata erat de foro fides non ictu aliquo novae calamitatis, sed suspicione ac perturbatione iudiciorum, infirmatione rerum iudicatarum; novae dominationes, extraordinaria non imperia, sed regna quaeri putabantur. quae cum ego non solum suspicarer, sed plane cernerem (neque enim obscure gerebantur) dixi in senatu in hoc magistratu me popularem consulem futurum. quid enim est tam populare quam pax? qua non modo ei quibus natura sensum dedit sed etiam tecta atque agri mihi laetari videntur. quid tam populare quam libertas? quam non solum ab hominibus verum etiam a bestiis expeti atque omnibus rebus anteponi videtis. quid tam populare quam otium? quod ita iucundum est ut et vos et maiores vestri et fortissimus quisque vir maximos labores suscipiendos putet, ut aliquando in otio possit esse, praesertim in imperio ac dignitate. quin idcirco etiam maioribus nostris praecipuam laudem gratiamque debemus, quod eorum labore est factum uti impune in otio esse possemus. qua re qui possum non esse popularis, cum videam haec omnia, Quirites, pacem externam, libertatem propriam generis ac nominis vestri, otium domesticum, denique omnia quae vobis cara atque ampla sunt in fidem et quodam modo in patrocinium mei consulatus esse conlata?
(Cicero, Leg. Agr. 2.8-9)

I am aware, Romans, what the condition of the republic was when it was handed over to me on the 1st of January; it was full of anxiety, full of fear; in it there was no evil, no calamity which good citizens did not dread, which the bad were not hoping for. All kinds of seditious plots against the present form of government and against your quiet were reported, some to be already in progress, some to have been entered on the moment we were elected consuls. All confidence was banished from the forum, not by the stroke of some fresh calamity, but owing to suspicion and the disorganization of the law-courts, the invalidation of decisions already made; new tyrannies, extraordinarypowers, not merely military, but regal powers, were, it was supposed, being aimed at. Since I not only suspected what was going on, but saw it plainly (for everything was done quite openly) I declared in the senate that, as long as I held this office, I would be the people’s consul. For what is so welcome to the people as peace, the delights of which not only those animals whom nature has endowed with sense, but even the houses and fields appear to me to enjoy? What is so welcome to the people as liberty, which you see is longed for and preferred to everything else not only by men but also by beasts? What is so welcome to the people as repose, which is so pleasant that both you and your ancestors and the bravest of men think that the greatest labours ought to be undertaken in order to enjoy repose some day, especially when accompagnied by authority and dignity? Surely the very reason we owe especial praise and heartiest thanks to our ancestors is because it is thanks to their labours that we are able to enjoy repose free from danger. How then can I help being on the side of the people, Romans, when I see that all these things—peace outside, liberty the characteristic of your name and race, tranquillity at home, in short, everything that is nearest and dearest to you, were entrusted to my keeping and, in a way, to the protection of my consulship? (tr. John Henry Freese)

Coniunctio

3f8c45ecaa18df39d0ca71dde4b4012e

Gradus autem plures sunt societatis hominum. ut enim ab illa infinita discedatur, proprior est eiusdem gentis, nationis, linguae, qua maxime homines coniunguntur. Interius etiam est eiusdem esse civitatis; multa enim sunt civibus inter se communia, forum, fana, porticus, viae, leges, iura, iudicia, suffragia, consuetudines praeterea et familiaritates multisque cum multis res rationesque contractae. artior vero colligatio est societatis propinquorum; ab illa enim inmensa societate humani generis in exiguum angustumque concluditur. nam cum sit hoc natura commune animantium, ut habeant libidinem procreandi, prima societas in ipso coniugio est, proxima in liberis, deinde una domus, communia omnia; id autem est principium urbis et quasi seminarium rei publicae. sequuntur fratrum coniunctiones, post consobrinorum sobrinorumque, qui cum una domo iam capi non possint, in alias domos tamquam in colonias exeunt. sequuntur conubia et affinitates ex quibus etiam plures propinqui; quae propagatio et suboles origo est rerum publicarum. Sanguinis autem coniunctio et benivolentia devincit homines et caritate. magnum est enim eadem habere monumenta maiorum, eisdem uti sacris, sepulcra habere communia.
(Cicero, De Officiis 1.53-55)

There are indeed several degrees of fellowship among men. To move from the one that is unlimited, next there is a closer one of the same race, tribe and tongue, through which men are bound strongly to one another. More intimate still is that of the same city, as citizens have many things that are shared with one another: the forum, temples, porticoes and roads, laws and legal rights, law-courts and political elections; and besides these acquaintances and companionship, and those business and commercial transactions that many of them make with many others. A tie narrower still is that of the fellowship between relations: moving from that vast fellowship of the human race we end up with a confined and limited one. For since it is by nature common to all animals that they have a drive to procreate, the first fellowship exists within marriage itself, and the next with one’s children. Then, there is the one house in which everything is shared. Indeed that is the principle of a city and the seed-bed, as it were, of a political community. Next there follow bonds between brothers, and then between first cousins and second cousins, who cannot be contained in one house and go out to other houses, as if to colonies. Finally there follow marriages and those connections of marriage from which even more relations arise. In such propagation and increase political communities have their origin. Moreover, the bonding of blood holds men together by goodwill and by love; for it is a great thing to have the same ancestral memorials, to practise the same religious rites, and to share common ancestral tombs. (tr. Miriam Tamara Griffin & E. Margaret Atkins)

Amentatas

amentum

Attamen, quae causae sunt eiusmodi, ut de earum iure dubium esse non possit, omnino in iudicium vocari non solent. num quis eo testamento, quod paterfamilias ante fecit, quam ei filius natus esset, hereditatem petit? nemo; quia constat agnascendo rumpi testamentum. ergo in hoc genere iuris iudicia nulla sunt. licet igitur impune oratori omnem hanc partem iuris incontroversi ignorare, quae pars sine dubio multo maxima est; in eo autem iure, quod ambigitur inter peritissimos, non est difficile oratori, eius partis, quamcumque defendat, auctorem aliquem invenire; a quo cum amentatas hastas acceperit, ipse eas oratoris lacertis viribusque torquebit.
(Cicero, De Or. 1.241-242)

And yet those cases which are such that the law involved in them is beyond dispute, do not as a rule come to a hearing at all. Does anyone claim an inheritance under a will made by the head of a household before the birth of a son of his? No one; since it is settled law that the will is revoked by such subsequent birth. Thus there are no judicial
decisions on this branch of the law. And so the orator may safely disregard all this region of unquestionable law, being as it certainly is by far the larger portion of the science: while, as for the law which is unsettled in the most learned circles, it is easy enough for him to find some authority in favour of whichever side he is supporting, and, having obtained a supply of thonged shafts* from him, he himself will hurl these with all the might of an orator’s arm.

* These were javelins with a slinging-strap to help the thrower.

(tr. Edward William Sutton, with his note)

Caducum

Paul Gauguin, D'où venons-nous, que sommes-nous, où allons-nous, 1897
Paul Gauguin, D’où venons-nous ? Que sommes-nous ? Où allons-nous ? (1897-98)

Nimis caducum simul ac superbum animal est homo, nimis alte fragilibus superedificat fundamentis. e tanta sodalium turba ad quem redacti numerum sumus, vides; et ecce, dum loquimur, ipsi etiam fugimus atque umbre in morem evanescimus, momentoque temporis abiisse alter alterum accipiet, et ipse mox previum secuturus. quid ergo sumus, frater optime? quid sumus? nec desinimus superbire. suis angoribus consternatus Cicero, in epystola quadam ad Athicum, “Ipsi” inquit “quid sumus aut quandiu hec curaturi sumus?” brevis quidem sed bona, ni fallor, questio, et salutaris et gravida atque utilibus plena sententiis, sub qua multum vere humilitatis ac modestie multumque contemptus rerum fugitivarum vigil fossor inveniet. “quid sumus?” inquam; quam gravi, quam tardo, quam fragili corpore, quam ceco, quam turbido, quam inquieto animo, quam varia quamque incerta volubilique fortuna! “qut quandiu hec curaturi sumus?” profecto perbreviter. nempe non aliud sonat, quam si diceret: “ipsi quid sumus, et hoc ipsum quandiu futuri sumus?” utique hercle non diu, cum hoc idem nostrum esse, ut diuturnum esse non potest, sic nunc possit inter verba desinere, neque si accidat, miri aliquid acciderit. utrunque igitur bene et graviter queris, Marce Tulli; sed, queso te, ubinam tertium reliquisti, et eventu periculosius et quesitu dignius? postquam hic esse desierimus, quid futuri sumus? o rem magnam et ambiguam, sed neglectam! vale.
(Petrarca, Epist. Fam. 8.7.23-26)

Man is both too mortal and too proud a creature, and builds too high on brittle foundations. YOu see the small number to which we have been reduced from so great a group of friends, and even as we talk we ourselves are fleeting and disappearing like a shadow, and in a moment of time one of us will learn that the other has departed, destined himself soon to follow his predecessor. O best of brothers, what are we? What? And yet we do not abandon our pride. Cicero once, overwhelmed by anxieties, wrote in a letter to Atticus: “Who are we, really, or for how long will we concern ourselves over these woes?” A short question, but a good one, if I am not mistaken, one beneficial and loaded with useful thoughts, that will force the wakeful investigator to find much true humility and modesty and much contempt for fleeting affairs. I say again, what are we? How heavy, slow and fragile is our body, how blind, how troubled, how disturbed our mind, how shifting and unsure and mobile is Fortune. Or how long shall we care for these troubles? Surely only for a very brief time. To me this does not sound any different than if Cicero were saying: “Who are we, really? And how long shall we be the same person?” In any case, not for long, since our identities cannot last for long and can come to an end now as we speak, and if it happened this would be nothing strange. So you do well and wisely to ask both questions, Marcus Tullius; but I ask you, where did you leave that third possibility, more dangerous in outcome and more worthy of investigation? After we have ceased to exist here, what shall we become? What a great and problematic issue, but one overlooked! Farewell. (tr. Elaine Fantham)

Tolerabilia

Pieter Claesz, Vanitas, 1630
Pieter Claesz, Vanitas (1630)

Male de Seio. sed omnia humana tolerabilia ducenda. ipsi enim quid sumus aut quam diu haec curaturi sumus? ea videamus quae ad nos magis pertinent, nec tamen multo. quid agamus de senatu? et ut ne quid praetermittam, Caesonius ad me litteras misit Postumiam Sulpici domum ad se venisse. de Pompei Magni filia tibi rescripsi me nihil hoc tempore cogitare; alteram vero illam quam tu scribis, puto, nosti: nihil vidi foedius. sed adsum. coram igitur.
obsignata epistula accepi tuas. Atticae hilaritatem libenter audio. commotiunculis συμπάσχω.
(Cicero, Ep. ad Att. 249 (=12.11))

I am so sorry about Seius. But we must resign ourselves to the lot of mankind and all that is part of it. What after all are we, and how long shall we be taking these things to heart? Let us look at matters which concern us more directly, though not much more. What am I to do about the Senate? And, not to leave anything out, Caesonius has sent me a letter to say that Postumia, Sulpicius’ wife, has been to see him at his house. I wrote to you in answer to your remark about Pompeius Magnus’ daughter that I had no such thought at present. As for the other lady you mention, I think you know her. She is quite remarkably ugly. However I am nearly home, and we shall talk of it* together.
After sealing my letter I received yours. Glad to hear of Attica’s good spirits. I sympathize with her little upsets.

* I.e., of a new wife for Ciero, who had divorced Terentia earlier in the year. The ‘other lady’ may have been Hirtius’ sister, whom according to St. Jerome (Adversus Iovinianum, 1.48) Cicero declined to mary on the ground that he coul not devote himself equally to a wife and to philosophy.

(tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey, with his note)

Comitia

Roman_Election

Sequere nunc me in Campum. ardet ambitus. “σῆμα δὲ τοι ἐρέω”: faenus ex triente Idibus Quintilibus factum erat bessibus. dices “istuc quidem non moleste fero.” o virum! o civem! Memmium Caesaris omnes opes confirmant. Cum eo Domitium consules iunxerunt, qua pactione epistulae committere non audeo. Pompeius fremit, queritur, Scauro studet; sed utrum fronte an mente dubitatur. ἐξοχὴ in nullo est; pecunia omnium dignitatem exaequat. Messalla languet, non quo aut animus desit aut amici, sed coitio consulum et Pompeius obsunt. ea comitia puto fore ut ducantur. tribunicii candidati iurarunt se arbitrio Catonis petituros. apud eum HS quingena deposuerunt ut, qui a Catone damnatus esset, id perderet et competitoribus tribueretur. haec ego pridie scribebam quam comitia fore putabantur. sed ad te, quinto Kalendis Sextilibus, si facta erunt et tabellarius non erit profectus, tota comitia perscribam. quae si, ut putantur, gratuita fuerint, plus unus Cato potuerit quam omnes leges omnesque iudices.
(Cicero, Ep. ad Att. 90(=4.15).7-8)

Now follow me to the Campus. Bribery is running riot. ‘A token I shall tell’: interest went up on the Ides of July from 1/3 to 2/3%. ‘That I can bear’, you’ll say—you model of morality and public spirit! Caesar is backing Memmius for all he’s worth. The Consuls have paired him with Domitius in an arrangement which I dare not commit to writing. Pompey is fuming and growling. Ostensibly Scaurus is his man, but does he mean it? We have our doubts. None of the four has any special prominence. Money levels standing all round. Messalla is lagging, not for lack of spirit or friends, but the Consuls’ pact and Pompey are against him. I think these elections are likely to drag on. The tribunician candidates have taken an oath to conduct their campaign with Cato as umpire. Each of them has deposited HS 500,000 with him on the understanding that anyone found guilty of impropriety by Cato shall forfeit his deposit, which will be distributed among his rivals. I write this the day before the elections are expected to take place. If they do, and if the courier has not left, I shall write you the whole story of the elections on 28 July. If they go through without bribery, as it is believed they will, Cato will have done more single-handed than all the laws and all the jurymen. (tr. David Roy Shackleton Bailey)

Arduum

Cicerone

At quae stirpes sunt aegritudinis, quam multae, quam amarae! quae ipso trunco everso omnes eligendae sunt et, si necesse erit, singulis disputationibus. superest enim nobis hoc, cuicuimodi est, otium. Sed ratio una omnium est aegritudinum, plura nomina. nam et invidere aegritudinis est et aemulari et obtrectare et misereri et angi, lugere, maerere, aerumna adfici, lamentari, sollicitari, dolere, in molestia esse, adflictari, desperare. haec omnia definiunt Stoici, eaque verba quae dixi singularum rerum sunt, non, ut videntur, easdem res significant, sed aliquid differunt; quod alio loco fortasse tractabimus. haec sunt illae fibrae stirpium, quas initio dixi, persequendae et omnes eligendae, ne umquam ulla possit existere. magnum opus et difficile, quis negat? quid autem praeclarurn non idem arduum? Sed tamen id se effecturam philosophia profitetur, nos modo curationem eius recipiamus. verum haec quidem hactenus, cetera, quotienscumque voletis, et hoc loco et aliis parata vobis erunt.
(Cicero, Tusc. Disp. 3.83-84)

Yet how numerous are the roots of distress, and how bitter they are! The trunk itself may have been cast down, and still they must be pulled out, every one, by single disputations if need be. I have more than enough free time to do so—if “free time” it can be called. For although all forms of distress have the same explanation, they have many different names. Envy is a form of distress, and so are rivalry, jealousy, pity, anxiety, grief, sorrow, weariness, mourning, worry, anguish, sadness, affliction, and despair. The Stoics have definitions for all of these. For although it may appear that the terms I have listed all mean the same, they in fact refer to slightly different things, as I may perhaps explain later on. These are those root-fibers I mentioned at the start, the ones which must all be found and pulled out, so that none of them can ever arise again. No one would deny that this is a heavy and difficult task. Every great work is arduous, is it not? Yet philosophy promises that she will accomplish it, if only we take her for our physician. But this is enough for now. The rest I am ready to tell you, as many times as you like, both here and elsewhere. (tr. Margaret Graver)