Page images
PDF
EPUB

the future tenure of the consulship by these two men did not in the first half of the year inspire Cicero with much hope. Still, it was not likely to be as bad as the policy of Antony; and when the meeting of the senate of the ist of June, so far from producing a compromise which would satisfy Brutus and Cassius, actually irritated them farther by offering them for the rest of the year the inferior office of curatores annona, and changing their prætorian provinces for the next year, Cicero could only look forward to the ist of January as the time when it might be proper for him once more to attend the senate and take part in politics. Meanwhile he was meditating a tour to Athens, both for the sake of withdrawing himself from possible collisions with Antony, and in order to visit his son, whose first year as a student there had given Cicero much anxiety, but who was now shewing signs of improvement, and might be confirmed in better ways by the personal influence of an indulgent father. But, as usual with Cicero, this step caused him much search

ing of heart and many weeks of hesitation Cicero's voyage and irresolution. As usual also, all his doubts to Greece begun and abandoned

and difficulties are imparted to Atticus, whose (July-August). advice is constantly asked, and somewhat

querulously criticised when given. Cicero was torn different ways by the reflexion that a departure from Italy at this time might be regarded as a desertion of his party and his country: that in his absence some blow might be struck for liberty, the credit of which he should be sorry not to share. On the other hand, as long as Antony was consul things would most likely remain as they were, and he would be personally safer out of the country, and would be doing his duty in visiting his son. But he was a wretched sailor, the long voyage was odious to him, and especially one that would have to be taken late in the year, if he was to be back in Rome before the beginning of the new consulate. Again, he would have liked to sail with Brutus ; but Brutus was delaying indefinitely, and besides, did not receive the suggestion very warmly. After one abortive start (1st August), on which he got as far as Syracuse, he again set sail from Leucopetra on the 6th of August. But the south wind was too strong and the ship put back to

Rhegium.' There Cicero stayed in a friend's villa for the night and heard next day what he thought was good news.? There was to be a full meeting of the senate on the ist of September, for Brutus and Cassius-still in Italy—had issued an edict urging the attendance of their partisans, and it was believed that they had come to some understanding with Antony, whereby they would be able to resume their position at Rome and take up their provinces at the end of their year's prætorship. The men who gave Cicero this intelligence also told him that he was wanted, and that his absence was being unfavourably criticised.

This was precisely what Cicero wished to hear, and we may be sure that he did not make very curious inquiries as to the authenticity of the report, or the means of knowing the truth possessed by his informants. He regarded himself as "recalled by the voice of the Republic,” and blessed the south winds for having saved him from deserting his country in its need. He visited Brutus at Velia on his way to Rome, and no doubt heard from him what somewhat cooled his ardour. He determined, however, to continue his return to Tusculum, though with no definite intention of taking as yet any leading part in politics, or indeed of attending the senate at all. But the state of affairs which he found existing at Rome on his arrival on the 31st of August soon dispelled any ideas of repose, and drew him into the final storm and stress of political contest, from which he was not free when the correspondence ceases, and which brought him finally to the grave. The meeting of the senate on the ist of September, for

the sake of which Cicero professed to have The final breach with Antony,

come to Rome, was not attended by him. Sept., B.C. 44.

Among the agenda at that meeting he found

that there was included a motion of Antony's for a supplicatio in honour of Cæsar's memory. To this, of course, Cicero objected on political grounds; but he also advanced the technical objection that it was mixing up funeral rites with divine worship (parentalia with supplica

1

2 P. 119.

3

I Phil. $ 7.
See

pp. 119-120, 131. He says that he also had a copy of a contio of Antony's, as well as the edict of Brutus and Cassius, which he mentions in the letter.

1

B.C. 44.

tiones), and he was at any rate determined not to vote for it, and did not wish to exasperate Antony by voting against it. There was to be also some farther confirmation of Cæsar's acta, which would be equally objectionable in Cicero's eyes, because it meant the production of more of Cæsar's memoranda and notes, which he believed to be falsified or altogether invented by Antony himself. He therefore abstained from attending the senate, but did not thereby avoid exasperating Antony. His arrival in Rome was of course known to Antony, who regarded his excuse of fatigue after his journey as a mere pretext (which it was), and threatened openly in the senate not only to use his consular power of compelling his attendance, but to send a gang of workmen to demolish his house. On the end of September therefore Cicero attended and

made a statement of his position and views, The first Phil.

which has come down to us as the first ippic, 2nd Sept., Philippic. It is a dignified and compara

tively gentle statement of his case against Antony. But it puts clearly his belief as to the abuse by him of the confirmation of Cæsar's acta, passed by the senate on the 17th of March. It recalls Antony's own measures of which Cicero approved-especially the abolition of the dictatorship and the suppression of the riots round the memorial column-and appeals to him to keep within the lines of the constitution, and to trust to the affection rather than the fears of his fellow citizens. There is an absence of personal invective and insult, which shews that Cicero was not yet prepared to throw away the scabbard in his contest with Antony, though he had long seen that his existence made the murder of Cæsar vain and useless. The tyrant was dead, not the tyranny; the assassins had acted with the courage of heroes, but the folly of children, and left the heir to the tyranny alive. Yet he remained on tolerably courteous terms with Antony, and even requested a legatio from him. But that was to be over for ever.

Antony's reply to the first Philippic, delivered after much preparation on the 19th of September, and containing every kind of invective against Cicero's life, policy, and 11 Phil. § 13

Pp. 45-46, 54.

2

3 P. 65.

public conduct, drew from Cicero the terrible second Phil.

ippic, which, though never delivered, was The second Phil- handed about among all kinds of people ippic, 19th Sept. who cared to read it. It made all reconcilia

tion, however formal or official, for ever impossible. From that time forward the letters shew us Cicero in determined and unhesitating opposition to Antony. For some weeks still he is doubtful as to what practical steps he is to take, but he has no more hesitation as to what his political object is to be: it is to crush Antony by any and every means within his power. The letters henceforth are more and more exclusively political. Though references to private affairs and to literary questions, connected with the de Officiis, still occur in the letters to Atticus, even they are almost monopolized by the one absorbing subject. He still expresses gratitude to philosophy, “which not only diverts me from anxious thoughts, but also arms me against all assaults of fortune ”—but literature and philosophy in the old sense are over for him: and when for a moment he touches on lighter subjects to Pætus,” he hastens to excuse himself: “Don't suppose because I write jestingly I have cast off all care for the state. Be assured, my dear Pætus, that I work for nothing, care for nothing all day and night except the safety and freedom of my fellow citizens." The final step on Antony's part which made war inevit

able in Cicero's view was connected with The legions from the six Macedonian legions. He had-as Macedonia. I have said-earlier in the year obtained

from the senate the command of these legions on the plea that the Getæ were threatening Macedonia. One of them he gave over to his colleague Dolabella, one was to be left to guard Macedonia, which he intended should be governed by his brother Gaius at the end of his prætorship. The other four he regarded as being at his own disposal for his provincial governorship, to begin in January, B.C. 43. This he now resolved should be Cisalpine Gaul. The senate refused to assign him this province, but he got it by a lex carried in spite of the senate ; and

[blocks in formation]

" for

Gaius was sent to bring over the legions. On the oth of October he started to meet them at Brundisium. There he found them in a mutinous state, and had recourse to great severity in order to reduce them to obedience. Two of them, the Martia and the fourth legion, were ordered to march up the coast road to Ariminum in readiness to enter Gallia Cisalpina with him ; the rest he led himself towards Rome, and encamped at Tibur. In answer to this measure Octavian, now in constant

communication with Cicero, began on his Octavian arms. own authority, and at his own cost, raising

troops among the veterans in Campania. He was very successful, “and no wonder," says Cicero, he gives a bounty of 500 denarii apiece."? Cicero, then at Puteoli, was at first in grave doubts as to the effects of this step. He did not feel sure of Octavian's real aims, he mistrusted his youth and his name; and yet was inclined to accept his aid, and help him to get senatorial sanction : and soon aftewards-having finished his de Officiis-he began a leisurely journey to Arpinum, and thence to Tusculum. He agrees with the suggestion of Atticus that, “ if Octavian gets much power, the acta of Cæsar will be confirmed more decisively than they were in the temple of Tellus,” but yet he sees that "if he is beaten, Antony becomes intolerable.” But events were soon to leave Cicero no choice. The fourth legion and the Martia, instead of going as ordered to Ariminum, turned off to Alba Fucentia and closed its gates. Antony, who had meanwhile arrived at Rome and summoned a meeting of the senate for the 23rd of November, heard of this and hurried off to Alba Fucentia to recover the loyalty of the legions, but was repelled from the walls of the town by a shower of stones. He therefore returned to Rome, hurriedly held the postponed meeting of the senate, at which a sortitio was accomplished assigning Macedonia to Gaius Antonius, and then joined his own camp at Tibur. The Martia and the fourth legion presently declared their adhesion to Octa

1 P. 140.

2

Pp. 145-146; about £20.

3 Pp. 150-151. + P. 157 ; cp. p. 159. Cicero, however, believed and approved of the plot to assassinate Antony, attributed to Octavian.

See p. 139.

« PreviousContinue »