Cicero of Arpinum: A Political and Literary Biography Being a Contribution to the History of Ancient Civilization and a Guide to the Study of Cicero's Writings

By E. G. Sihler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINETEEN
THE IDES OF MARCH

CICERO took some official part in things official and in functions, but it went against the grain; he felt a kind of humiliation. (Fam. 7, 30, 1.) The veneering of absolute government by republican forms was galling to Cicero's deep-seated convictions and habits of life. True, he had his Tusculan villa, "the port of philosophy," a haven after so many storms and shipwrecks of the political sea. That he had, and he had his faithful Atticus. These were his consolation in the wrecks of life and time.

While the clouds of treason were gathering above the head of the Regent, Cicero more than ever devoted himself to still further exposition of philosophical themes in Latin speech. Cicero was not asked to join the plotters against the dictator's life;1 Favorinus too was omitted. Perhaps Cato himself would have refused to join had he lived.

The Tusculan Disputations were probably begun soon after the main work on Academica and De Finibus were concluded, in 45, but it was only in 44, but before the Ides of March, that they were concluded. The absence of correspondence with Atticus seems to prove, that in the new year, the last of Caesar's life, the two friends lived not so far apart, the Arpinate on the Palatine, and the Financier in his Caecilian mansion on the Quirinal. It is only after the Ides of March, that Atticus exchanged notes with the author. On May 18th he replied to Atticus' commendation of the first book. (Att. 15, 2, 4; 15, 4, 2.) If Cicero had been invited to become an accomplice in the great plot, it seems psychologically incredible that he should have gone on in these months with unfaltering devotion dictating to Tiro, whose speed must have approximated that of a modern shorthand writer. The Fragments of the Stoics, now gathered by von Arnim, make it very improbable that a conclusive thesis as to the sources ever can be established. At bottom it is quite immaterial. Cicero was then and had been for some time living in an atmosphere of resignation at almost all points of life. He was too old to be a dogmatic disciple of any individual person or school. He never had been, and there was too much of the advocate in him for such rigid demeanor. I rather think we

____________________
Plut. Brut. 12.

-385-

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