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

CICERO OF ARPINUM

CHAPTER ONE
BIRTH, CHILDHOOD, EARLIEST EDUCATION

MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO1 was born on his father's estate in the district belonging to the municipium of Arpinum on the 3rd of January in the consulate of C. Atilius Serranus and C. Servilius Caepio, 106 B. C. In later times indeed in Roman schools and in the general consciousness of the Latin world the man and the name came in a way to be canonized. It was then perhaps that schoolmasters endowed him with a royal pedigree, as though he were sprung from some Volscian king of old.2 The community of Arpinum was a praefectura before the Marsian war ( 90-89 B. c.), i.e., the chief governing official was sent from Rome; but it became a municipium after that time. That highland country in certain periods of the olden times had been under the rule of Earlier Rome's greatest rivals, the Samnites, as had been the neighboring communities of Sora and Cesennia (Liv. 9, 44). Other notable towns of that region were Atina, Casinum, Aquinum. While the mature Cicero owned villas in many other and more soft and charming spots of Italy, he bore to his birthplace a certain loyalty that seemed to rise with his own rising fame.

The more distant periphery of the capital, places unlike Bovillae, Labicum, Gabii, had not yet been rendered desolate by the doles of grain and the other attractions which the Campus,

____________________
1
Plut. Cic. 2. The word Tullius probably means swollen or bloated: cf. Walde Lat. Etymol. Woerterbuch 2. ed.p. 797. The word Mucius is even less agreeable to the merely aesthetical sense of things. As to Cicero, it stands with Fronto, Naso, Capito, Labeo. Little doubt but that it did originally mean some pea-podlike appearance of nostrils. Cicereius on the other hand (one who raised the vetch) stands with Fabius, Canius, Asinius, Porcius. As to the essential homeliness of Latin or Roman nomenclature, of the writer's Testimonium Animae p. 316.
2
Jerome, a pupil of Donatus: "Cicero Arpini nascitur, matre Helvia, patre equestris ordinis et regio Volscorum genere."

-3-

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