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 ELEVEN
THE CONSULAR CANVASS AND THE ELECTION

64 B. C.

IN this year Pompey turned from the foothills of the Caucasus to Syria. We note that he was in no wise depending upon the Senate for the detail of his movements and for the larger design of his conquests. His desire1 was to add Syria to the Empire, and then traversing Arabia to arrive at the shores of the Indian Ocean. There, as the venerable antiquity of Greek legends had it, he would come upon the very end and fringe of the human world, where Okeanos with current eternal encircled it. He had looked upon Okeanos, as he thought, from the coast of Mauretania; he had almost penetrated to the Caspian. The spirit of Alexander seemed to hover above him, leading him ever onward. Through his legate Afranius he subdued the Arabians along the Amanus range which separates Cilicia from Syria. The fierce archer tribes of the Ituraeans in Lebanon then for the first time felt the power of Rome. As to Armenia and Parthia, Pompey sent arbitrators who should mediate between them.

At this time Cicero in the capital with might and main was pursuing his canvass. The whole matter, as the principals looked out upon it and as it really was, is presented to us in a curious political and personal memorandum and monograph prepared by his brother Quintus. I am inclined to believe that Atticus then in Rome, and earnestly assisting in this very matter, perhaps had something to do with it. Some part of this Commentariolum or Epistola de Petitione Consulatus very greatly discredited some of Cicero's competitors. But the references to Pompey are such that a publication at that particular time is quite unthinkable. At first blush we feel it to be a little odd that the only brother, who was some years younger than Marcus, should address or dedicate to him such a composition concerned with the conduct of Marcus's own campaign. But is it not entirely within the

____________________
Plut. Pomp. 38, after Theophanes?

-121-

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