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 SIXTEEN
CICERO AS PROCONSUL OF CILICIA

51 B.C.

IN this year, though not from the First of January, the consuls were both good friends, as one says, of the advocate. Marcus Marcellus, the uncompromising political foe of Caesar, had been a schoolmate of Cicero, and a certain familiarity never ceased to prevail between the two men. Servius Sulpicius Rufus, the other consul, was the man, in the domain of the Civil Law, on whom the mantle of the Scaevolas had fallen.1 Cato had been an earnest candidate. He frankly avowed his purpose of using that great office to cut short the power of the two dynasts. For that office was still important in the hands of a thoroughly independent character. Was Caesar to be recalled and separated from his imperium before his second five-year period had been terminated by the Lex Trebonia? Cato rigidly refrained from the distribution of money and was of course not elected by the electorate. A great character cannot always be a successful man, and there are really a few standards other than this last named one, as we Americans particularly seem continually to be forgetting. Caesar afterwards professed, perhaps he believed it too, -- who can say? -- that Cato made Caesar personally responsible for this defeat at the polls.2 However that may have been, of one thing we may rest assured: Cato to the dynast Caesar was indeed the most odious force and personality in the public life of that day and generation. In the first part of this year, against his own wishes of course, and indeed in a manner entirely unexpected by himself,3 Cicero was designated to govern the province of Cilicia. No longer could consuls and praetors. immediately after completing their urban service go to some

____________________
1
Pomponius in Dig. 1, 2, 43. On his habit of surveying historical precedent, cf. Fam. 4, 3, 1.
2
Dio, 40, 58. Plut. Cat. Min. 49. Caes. B. C. 1, 1, 1.
3
Contra voluntatem meam et praeter opinionem, Fam. 3, 2, 1. hic necopinatus et inprovisus provinciae casus, Fam. 15, 12, 2.

-267-

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