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put to torture; and with his mind still dazed with confused and contradictory designs, he put himself in the hands of his servants to be conveyed by sea to Caieta, as he had property there and an agreeable summer retreat, when the Etesian winds are at their pleasantest. In this spot there stands a temple of Apollo just above the sea : from it a flock of ravens rose and flew towards Cicero's ship as it was being rowed to land, and settling down upon the yard-arm on both sides of the mast, some of them began uttering loud cries and others pecking at the ends of the ropes. Everybody thought this a bad omen. Cicero, however, disembarked and went to the lodge and lay down to get some rest.
But most of the ravens lighted down about the window uttering cries of distress, and one of them settling on the bed, where Cicero was lying with his head covered, gradually drew off the covering from his face with its beak. The servants, seeing this, thought that they would be base indeed if they endured to be spectators of their master's murder, and did nothing to protect him, while even animals were helping him and sympathizing in his undeserved misfortune, and so, partly by entreaties and partly by compulsion, they got him again into his litter and began carrying him down to the
“ Meanwhile the executioners arrived, Herennius the centurion and Popillus the military tribune (whom he once defended on a charge of parricide) with their attendants. Finding the doors locked, they broke into the house ; but when Cicero was not to be seen, and those indoors denied knowing anything about him, it is said that a young man named Philologus-a freedman of Quintus, whom Cicero had educated in polite learning and philosophy-told the tribune about the litter which was being carried through woodland and over-shadowed paths towards the sea. So the tribune, taking a small party with him, ran round to the entrance to the grounds, while Herennius ran down the pathway. Cicero perceived him coming and ordered his servants to set down the litter. Cicero himself, with his left hand as usual on his chin, sat gazing steadfastly on the executioners, unwashed, with streaming locks, his brow contracted with his anxieties. It was more than those present could endure, and they covered their faces while Herennius
was killing him, as he thrust out his head from the litter and received the stroke. He was in his sixty-fourth year. By the command of Antony the man cut off his head and the hands with which he had written the Philippics ! ” 1 The character and aims of Cicero will have been abund.
antly illustrated for the reader of these letters. Estimate of
That controversies should rage round his Cicero's char.
memory is only what must always be the case
with a man who takes an active share in political life. Enmities and their expression in invective are more interesting to many than praise, and therefore more lasting. It is an easy task, moreover, to find faults in a character so impulsive, so many-sided, and so complex as that of Cicero. But the one view which I think inadmissible is the Mommsenian one of sheer contempt. Perhaps Cicero was not so important a figure in Roman politics as he thought himself: that he was of no importance is disproved both by the warmth of his friends and the rancour of his enemies. If he lacked originality as a writer or philosopher, neither did he pretend to any. He wished to interpret the Greek philosophers to his countrymen : he did it imperfectly, but he did it as no one else could or did. The magic of style has found its way to the intelligence and taste of mankind, as many a more learned and accurate man would have failed and has failed to do. He composed speeches which are often unfair, overstrained, and disingenuous, but they remain among the first in the world. He wrote letters incessantly : they are sometimes insincere, sometimes weak and tiresome, but taken as a whole they are scarcely surpassed by any existing collection. Signor E. Masė-Dari has lately written a volume tending to throw a doubt on his financial purity, especially in his administration of Cilicia. The attempt is, I think, a failure; and though Cicero was a man habitually embarrassed in regard to ready money, it seems that the Roman system of investment-of short loans and accommodation money-is more accountable for this than personal extravagance or reckless contraction of debt. In politics he doubtless made the mistake of putting confidence
* Plutarch, Cicero, xlvii. -xlviii. There is also a somewhat similar account by Livy preserved by Seneca, Suasoria, i. 7.
in the leaders of the losing side. But it was really because he believed their side to be the side of right and justice. He had no personal aim in the choice, beyond the advantages which he would share with all his fellow citizens, and the primary desire to be allowed to live and enjoy the position to which his talents had raised him. His vacillation is never in his conviction as to right and wrong: but that which arose from his innate faculty of seeing every side of a question and all possible contingencies. To a nervous temperament such as his it was impossible that the dangers to himself and his family should not loom large before his eyes. But when the time came to act, he usually shewed far more resolution than his own language allows us to expect. If we had as much self-revelation from the other men of his days as we have from him, we should probably find no less vacillation, and certainly no greater conscientious
His almost savage expressions of joy at the murder of Cæsar do not present his character in an amiable light. But then in his eyes Cæsar had ruined the state.
The constitution needed reform : Cæsar had destroyed it. Social and political life needed purifying : Cæsar had used some of the most reprobate members of society to put an end to all political and social freedom. That may not be the true state of the case as we see it, but it is what Cicero saw and believed. Cæsar was a tyrannus. Even when he did well, he did it in the wrong way, and could give no security that it would not be wholly undone by a successor.
The only security for justice was law-abiding and constitutional government, and that Cæsar had made for ever impossible. By a convention as old as the Republic, “ lynching” was the proper punishment of a man who set himself up as rex, and that Cæsar practically, and almost even in name, had done.
The last months of Cicero's life are not marred by the vacillations of former periods. From the ist of September, B.C. 44, his aim is single and continuous. He was resolved to resist to the death the attempt to perpetuate Cæsarism after Cæsar's death, and to use all his powers of eloquence and persuasion to rouse the loyalist party to make a stand for liberty. And when one after the other his hopes failed and his supports fell away, he met death with a courage which did not belie his life and his philosophy.
Besides Atticus, who still claims a considerable share of the
correspondence, the majority of letters in these Cicero's cor last months are addressed to Plancus, Decimus respondents. Brutus, Lepidus, Cassius, and M. Brutus. There
is one to Antony, afterwards quoted by him against Cicero in the senate, and some few to Dolabella. This is hardly the time at which a final review of ANTONY'S
character should be made, for the test of Marcus Antonius,
his real worth as a statesman and ruler b. B.C. 83. came in the period following Cicero's
death. Yet in spite of personal prejudice Cicero does not seem to have made a mistaken estimate of him. In B.C. 51 he had foreseen that he and his brothers were likely to be important personages in the Cæsarian era, and had warned his friend Thermus not to offend them. Marcus had been through the regular official round. He had served with Gabinius in Syria and Egypt (B.C. 57-56), had been quæstor and legatus to Iulius Cæsar in Gaul (B.C. 54-52), and was one of the tribunes of B.C. 50-49 who vetoed the fatal motion in January, B.C. 49, for his recall. His greatness then began. After Pompey's flight and Cæsar's departure for Spain, he was left in charge of Italy with the rank of proprætor. In B.C. 48 he joined Cæsar in Epirus with reinforcements, fought at Pharsalia, and was sent back after the victory to take over again the management of Rome and Italy; and when Cæsar was named Dictator in B.C. 47 Antony was named his Master of the Horse. Thus far his energy and courage
had put him in the front rank of Cæsar's younger officers. But from this time his weaknesses as well as his.strength began to shew themselves. He was not successful in his government at Rome during Cæsar's absence in Alexandria, and the disorders which grew to a dangerous height under his administration, both in the city and among the veteran legions, were only suppressed by the return of the Dictator. His wild debaucheries seem to have contributed to weaken his influence, and his financial embarrassments, partly at least to be attributed to them, caused him to attempt their relief by dealing with confiscated properties in a way which brought him into collision with Cæsar. A
1 Vol. ii., p. 157.
coldness appears to have arisen between them, and Lepidus
would not be much worth our attention were P. Cornelius
it not for his peculiar connexion with Cicero.
He was one of the wildest and most extra-
young nobles of the day, but was apparently possessed of some oratorical ability. As was the fashion of the time, he trusted to this ability to bring him office and means to escape from his embarrassments, and in order to make himself a name as an orator and man of affairs commenced a prosecution of a man of high rank for malversation in his province. The person he selected was Appius Claudius, Cicero's predecessor in Cilicia. This happened to be particularly inconvenient to Cicero, who, besides wishing to stand well with Claudius, found that just about the time the prosecution was to begin (early in B.C. 50) his wife had consented to Dolabella's marriage with Tullia. It is not quite clear what Cicero's views on the subject were.