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theilian

Cicero's letters

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Only six months ago, I didn't even know there was such ting as Cicero letters, but at the moment I am postively obsessed about them. I find them just wonderfully fascinating.

To share that, I made the following link at HBO Rome forum, and hope you find them useful.

 

<Ciceronian sources>

 

Collection of Cicero letters - from Harvard Classics (some are included below)

 

Political themes

 

Novus Homo (65-50 BC) - "The state of things in regard to my candidature..."

 

Cicero vs. Clodius <1> (61 BC) - Bona Dea scandal and trial

 

Cicero vs. Clodius <2> (60-59 BC) - first triumvirate is formed

 

Cicero vs. Clodius <3> (59 BC) - Cicero under heat

 

Cicero vs. Clodius <4> (59-56 BC) - Cicero's exile and return:

 

Cicero vs. Clodius <5>: Clodia (56 BC) - excerpts from Pro Caelio: "Medea of the Palatine"

 

Cicero vs. Clodius <6>: Coda (52 BC) - Clodius' death (Pro Milone): Battle of Bovillae

 

Cicero's Palinode (56-54 BC) - First Triumvirate: "Good-bye to principle, sincerity, and honour!"

 

Cicero to Lentulus Spinther (54 BC) - How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the First Triumvirate

 

Caelius to/from Cicero <1> (51 BC) - Caelius' gossips: I need panthers!

 

Caelius to/from Cicero <2> (51-50 BC) - Cicero in Cilicia: Get me outta here! (includes Cato letter)

 

Caesar vs. Pompey <1> (50-49 BC) - "I know from whom to fly, but not whom to follow." (includes Pompey and Caesar letters)

 

Caesar vs. Pompey <2> (March - May 49 BC) - "Time has come when I can no longer act either boldly or wisely." (includes Caesar letters)

 

Caesar vs. Pompey <3> (48-47 BC) - Cicero in Pompey's camp and Brundisium

 

Letter to Aulus C

Edited by theilian

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Thanks for the link, Ilian. I have Penguin editions of his letters to Atticus, Brutus and the second volume which Penguin entitled 'To his Friends' as well as the old Penguin Classic editions of many of his speeches. I think Cicero's letters are one of the most crucial sources for the period. Precisely because they were NOT intended for publication, they give us invaluable insights into the workings of the man's mind - and indeed the minds of his friends, unencumbered by the flowing rhetoric used for the political speeches. And there are scraps of things that cannot be found anywhere else. I would not be without them.

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Thanks for the link, Ilian. I have Penguin editions of his letters to Atticus, Brutus and the second volume which Penguin entitled 'To his Friends' as well as the old Penguin Classic editions of many of his speeches. I think Cicero's letters are one of the most crucial sources for the period. Precisely because they were NOT intended for publication, they give us invaluable insights into the workings of the man's mind - and indeed the minds of his friends, unencumbered by the flowing rhetoric used for the political speeches. And there are scraps of things that cannot be found anywhere else. I would not be without them.

 

And yet you punched poor Cicero in the nose.... [shakes head]

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Thanks for the link, Ilian. I have Penguin editions of his letters to Atticus, Brutus and the second volume which Penguin entitled 'To his Friends' as well as the old Penguin Classic editions of many of his speeches. I think Cicero's letters are one of the most crucial sources for the period. Precisely because they were NOT intended for publication, they give us invaluable insights into the workings of the man's mind - and indeed the minds of his friends, unencumbered by the flowing rhetoric used for the political speeches. And there are scraps of things that cannot be found anywhere else. I would not be without them.

 

And yet you punched poor Cicero in the nose.... [shakes head]

 

Cato - must a girl be forever judged on the actions she performed at 18 years of age? :D:D

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Thanks for the kind words.

 

I posted these links one by one as I made them on HBO ROME forum. (Maybe I should done that here because there are too much material to go over. :))

 

But in overall, I do wonder how typical or atypical Cicero was as a Roman (and I think this is an important issue as we depend greatly on his letters for insights to Roman tempora and mores). He was Italian, and apparently much more emotional and mercurial than most. But beyond that, was Cicero very unusual as paterfamilia? And most of all, how typical was Cicero in his decision regarding the civil war?

 

In the most recent installment 'Caesar vs. Pompey <2>', Cicero is under great deal of pressure to choose between Pompey and Caesar, and it was interesting to see a myriad of factors he was considering in his (in)decision. The good of republic does take top priority, but almost equal priority is given to issue of personal obligation that he thinks he owes to Pompey and Caesar respectively. He seemed particularly concerned about appearing ungrateful. (And other considerations include: his reputation, relationship with hanger-ons of each side, welfare of his family, personal safety, etc)

In any case, from his letters, it seems clear that there were well-defined parties (Optimates and Populares) that were based on principle but personal relationship came very close in importance in Republican politics.

 

And yet you punched poor Cicero in the nose.... [shakes head]
Cato - must a girl be forever judged on the actions she performed at 18 years of age?

Can you share what this is about? I am very curious. :)

Edited by theilian

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Thank you very much for posting these links Theilian. I was planning on getting Cicero's collection of letters (I have his 'On the Good Life'), so this was a welcome surprise. The letters bring an immediacy to Republican Rome, something that lacks in the work of most historians of the period. They're very interesting.

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Precisely because they were NOT intended for publication, they give us invaluable insights into the workings of the man's mind

 

BTW, I think it's only right to post what Cicero has to say about this.

In his 2nd Philippic, where he rather histronically attacks Antony for making his letter public:

Who, with the slightest knowledge of decent people's habits, could conceivably produce letters sent him by a friend, and read them in public, merely because some quarrel has arisen between him and the other? Such conduct strikes at the roots of human relations; it means that absent friends are excluded from communicating with each other. For men fill their letters with flippancies which appear tasteless if they are published - and with serious matters which are quite unsuitable for wide circulation. Antony's action proves he is totally uncivilized.

 

Can you imagine why his reaction would be now? :)

 

Cicero's letter to Lucceius has always been one of my favorites.

 

Quite a read, isn't it? :)

I also like how Caelius so casually ask Cicero to write a book and dedicate it to himself:

What I now have to ask of you is that, if (as I expect) you get any leisure, you would compose some treatise dedicated to me, to show me that you care for me. "How did that come into your head," say you, "a modest man like you?" Well, I have a desire that among the many works that will keep your name alive there should be one which will hand down to posterity the memory of our friendship. "What sort of thing do you want?" I suppose you will ask. You, who are acquainted with whole range of knowledge, will hit upon the suitable thing sooner than I. Only let it be of a kind that has some relevance to me, and let it contain practical instruction, that it may have a steady circulation.

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I added another set of Cicero's letters Caesar vs Pompey <3> letters from Pompey's camp and Brundisium.

 

First two letters are from Caelius and Dolabella. It's kind of interesting that these kinds of letters could be exchanged between very high generals/officials of enemy camps. Also interesting that Caesar still sought to entice Cicero to neutrality even after he joined Pompey's camp.

 

Still more interesting is the fourth letters in which Cicero repeats the bloody plans of the Pompeiians - proscription of large number of people, apparently including Atticus. Any discussion on this?

So bloodthirsty were their sentiments, so close their alliance with barbarous tribes, that a scheme of proscription was formed-not against individuals, but whole classes--and the conviction was universally entertained by them that the property of you all was the prize of the victory. I mean "you" literally: for even as to you personally there were never any but the harshest ideas.

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Added Paetus letters.

 

Cicero to Paetus (46 BC) - Life under Caesar: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

 

First letter depicts Caesar getting daily report of Cicero's witticism, 4th one shows Cicero's uneasiness at the presence of notorious courtesan Cytheris (Antony's mistress), 6th letter is light-hearted discourse on a certain obscene word, which he is careful not to utter. :rolleyes:

Edited by theilian

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It's a bit awkard to be the only person posting here, but since I have them ready, I'll share them just as well if that's okay with you.

 

Life under Caesar <2> (46 BC) - Letters to Friends: "In the Ruins of Republic"

 

Cicero is in more somber mood here in his letters to fellow Pompeiians, and many letters follow the tradition of consolation letters as if grieving someone's death. I think it's interesting that although he mourns the current situation, he yet blames it on general condition of war and Caesar's followers rather than the man himself, which is to come later.

 

Letters include those to Varro, Sulpicius, Titius, Cassius, etc

In letter to Titius, Cicero writes:

we should remember that we are but men, the law of whose birth requires that our lives be a target for all the missiles of fortune; and we must not decline life on the conditions under which we were born, nor rebel so violently under mischances which we cannot by any prudence avoid

Is it just me, or does this quote give very strong vibe of Hamlet's To Be or Not to Be?

I didn't know before, but now I know there was long tradition of Greco-Roman consolation literature that throws a new light on the the whole Claudius, Hamlet lines.

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Ides of March <1> (March - April 44 BC) - "The tyranny lives on though the tyrant is dead."

 

In these letters, we find Cicero rejoicing at Caesar's death, feeling out Caesarian's reactions, gauging people's reaction from theater, soon being disillusioned with Ides of March and fearing a civil war, meeting with Octavian, and then again uncertain on the course of his action.

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