Ad Brutum I.9
Commentary by Rachel Thomas and J.
Text provided by www.thelatinlibrary.com
This letter was written at the end of June or beginning of July, 43
BCE to M. Junius Brutus
(adopted name Q. Servilius Caepio Brutus, born 85 B.C., committed
suicide at Philippi, October, 42BCE). Just a
year prior, Brutus had led the conspiracy against Julius Caesar, after
whose assassination he gained control of lands in the East (as a
“Liberator” from Caesar). Brutus' first marriage had been to a
daughter of Appius Claudius Pulcher, whom he divorced in order
to marry Porcia, Cato’s daughter. In this letter, Cicero sends
advice and consolation to Brutus after Porcia’s death. The letter
also makes mention of Brutus' having sent a similar letter to Cicero
when his daughter Tullia died in February 45 BCE Though it is no
longer extant, Brutus' letter is known from Cicero's
reactions to it in his later letters to Atticus (12.13.1, 12.14.4.
13.6.3), which suggest that Cicero found Brutus' tone careful and
friendly but not comforting and too demanding.
In this letter, Cicero challenges Brutus to live up to high standards
in the face of his loss of a wife. Those standards are twofold: those
required of any man because of a man's nature and duty, but also the
standards set by Brutus' position as political leader of the faction
that killed Caesar. As leader, Brutus must show appropriately
restrained grief, but not excessive or inadequate grief. In this
instead of employing the typical supposedly comforting commonplaces
about death and grief, Cicero merely alludes to them. Perhaps more
important than such commonplaces, however, is the position of authority
which Cicero occupies vis-a-vis Brutus, and the letter does explicitly
speak of that. Because Cicero and Brutus are allied competitors, this
letter can be
read as Cicero's effort to reinforce his role as the older, more
experienced statesman. In light of Cicero's complaints to Atticus that
Brutus' consolatory letter in the past was not comforting, it can also
be read as a challenge to Brutus to live up to his own rhetoric.
Bibliography: Wilcox, Amanda.
“Sympathetic Rivals: Consolation in Cicero's Letters.” American Journal
of Philology - Volume 126, Number 2, Summer 2005, pp. 237-255.
Scr. Romae. in. Quint., ...ut videtur a. 711 (43).
CICERO BRVTO SAL.
 fungerer eo officio quo tu functus es in meo luctu teque per
litteras consolarer, nisi scirem iis remediis quibus meum dolorem tu
levasses te in tuo non egere, ac velim facilius quam tunc mihi nunc
tibi tute medeare. est autem alienum tanto viro quantus es tu, quod
alteri praeceperit id ipsum facere non posse. me quidem cum rationes
quas conlegeras tum auctoritas tua a nimio maerore deterruit. Cum enim
mollius tibi ferre viderer quam deceret virum praesertim eum qui alios
consolari soleret, accusasti me per litteras gravioribus verbis quam
tua consuetudo ferebat.  itaque iudicium tuum magni aestimans idque
veritus me ipse conlegi et ea quae didiceram, legeram, acceperam,
graviora duxi tua auctoritate addita. ac mihi tum, Brute, officio solum
erat et naturae, tibi nunc populo et scaenae, ut dicitur, serviendum
est. nam cum in te non solum exercitus tui sed omnium civium ac paene
gentium coniecti oculi sint, minime decet propter quem fortiores ceteri
sumus eum ipsum animo debilitatum videri. quam ob rem accepisti tu
quidem dolorem (id enim amisisti cui simile in terris nihil fuit), et
est dolendum in tam gravi vulnere ne id ipsum, carere omni sensu
doloris, sit miserius quam dolere, sed ut modice ceteris utile est,
<ita> tibi necesse est.
 scriberem plura nisi ad te haec ipsa nimis multa essent. nos te
tuumque exercitum exspectamus; sine quo, ut reliqua ex sententia
succedant, vix satis liberi videmur fore. de tota re publica plura
scribam et fortasse iam certiora iis litteris quas veteri nostro
Scr. Romae. in. Quint., ...ut videtur a. 711: Scr. = scripsit,
scriptum, scriptae (litterae) or
something similar. Romae is locative.
The date is July or end of June (so the Loeb edn.) of the year 711 from
the founding of the city (43 BCE).
 Cicero writes to Brutus, exhorting him to remember the words he
wrote to Cicero in a time of grief: grieve and move on with life.
The structure of the clauses of the first sentence is as follows:
fungerer: fungor takes abl.
- fungerer eo officio (beginning of an
of present contrary to fact conditional)
- quo tu functus es in meo luctu (relative clause with
officio as antecedent)
- teque per
litteras consolarer, (2nd apodosis of present contrary
to fact conditional)
- nisi scirem (protasis of present
contrary to fact conditional)
- iis remediis (beginning of indirect statement
dependent on scirem)
- quibus meum dolorem tu
levasses (relative clause: antecedent = remediis)
- te in tuo (sc. luctu) non egere, (completion of
dependent on scirem)
- ac velim (additional main clause)
- facilius (beginning of semi-independent subjunctive
clause dependent on velim)
- quam tunc mihi (comparative clause with understood
verb to be supplied from context)
tibi tute medeare. (completion of semi-independent
subjunctive nominal clause dependent on velim)
litteras: litterae, although grammatically plural,
usually refers to only one letter: translate as singular.
quibus meum dolorem tu levasses: subordinate clauses within indirect
statement are normally subjunctive (levasses is a "syncopated" form of
levavisses: secondary sequence).
egere: takes ablative (or gen.).
velim: this independent-clause subjunctive can be translated as the
of a future-less-vivid ("should-would") conditional, even though it has
mihi…tibi: medeare is present subjunctive, primary sequence: this is a
semi-independent subjunctive dependent on velim (volo frequently takes
such semi-independent subjunctive clauses). Medeor sometimes
alienum: takes dat. or abl.
tanto…quantus: so great…as.
quod: a relative pronoun whose antecedent is id.
id ipsum facere non posse: this infinitve phrase is the subject of est
alienum. id is d.o., ipsum is subject of non posse.
me: D.O. of deterruit
cum…tum: not only…but also.
viderer: imperfect subjunctive in secondary sequence in cum causal;
deceret ... soleret: sometimes a clause has a subjunctive verb simply
because 1) it is dependent on another clause with a subjunctive verb
and 2) it is an integral part of the thought of that clause. Soleret
may be subjunctive in a relative clause of characteristic.
accusasti: syncopated form of accusavisti
consuetudo: all nouns in -udo, -udinis are feminine.
 It’s not seemly for Brutus to seem so weak when he’s always the man
who pushes others to keep it together, and yet he has to grieve at
a little bit.
magni: genitive of price
aestimans ... veritus: present participles. As adjectives, they modify
the subject: as verbals, they take direct objects.
idque: -que enclitic attached to D.O. of veritus
veritus: vereor, vereri can mean to be in awe (closely related to
a more positive definition). We can tell it means awe and not
fear because of the iudicium…aestimans and genitive of price.
ipse: intensive modifying subject of conlegi.
ea graviora duxi: duco "consider, deem, hold" frequently takes a
"double accusative": an accusative direct object and another
accusative, just as English "I consider you a friend," where you is the object
and a friend is a second object.
didiceram, legeram, acceperam: note that there is no "and" between the
last and next to last members of this series, as there would be in
English. Latin frequently has no connectors in such lists (or it has
many more than English, but it rarely has X, Y, and Z).
tua auctoritate addita: ablative abs.
mihi ... officio ... naturae... tibi ... populo ... scaenae ....: all
of these datives make sense once the verb is understood (see next note).
serviendum est: passive
periphrastic; serviendum must be construed with both erat and
est. The verb
servio, servire takes datives (officio, naturae, populo, and
scaenae). As a passive periphrastic, serviendum erat and
serviendum est also take datives of agent (mihi and tibi). Solum is
ut dicitur: a parenthetical remark, this clause has no effect on the
rest of the sentence. It serves merely to flag the fact that scaenae is
somehow unusual or remarkable to the author.
non solum: "not only."
tui: modifies exercitus, which is possessive dependent on oculi (all
the other genitives are also possessives dependent on oculi).
omnium: modifies civium, but must also be understood with gentium.
paene: modifies the omnium that must be understood with gentium.
coniecti sint: causal cum clauses take subjunctive. conjicio is a verb
showing motion and so "in te" has an accusative.
minime decet…eum ipsum…debilitatum esse videri: this is the main
the sentence (decet takes accusative with infinitive), interrupted by
quem…sumus, which is a relative clause with eum as antecedent.
minime: here “not at all.”
fortiores: predicate nominative.
ceteri: English says "the rest of us"
which makes "of us" a partitive genitive, but Latin says ceteri [nos],
which makes ceteri an adjective modifying an understood nominative nos.
debilitatum: a perfect passive participle used as an adjective after
videri "to seem."
cui simile nihil fuit: nihil is subject, simile is predicate
nominative, and cui is dative dependent on simile (id is the antecedent
dolendum est: impersonal passive periphrastic: literally "it must be
vulnere: used to represent an emotional hurt: dealing with wife’s death
ne id ipsum sit miserius: negative purpose clause.
carere omni sensu doloris: this whole clause is in apposition to id
ipsum. Carere is a nominative (remember that the infinitive can
function as a verbal noun),
and carere takes abl.
quam dolere: when quam "than" is used in comparisons, the two items
being compared are always in the same case: thus dolere is also a
sed ut modice ceteris utile est,
<ita> tibi necesse est: if all the understood elements were
expressed in this construction, it would read "sed ut modice [dolere]
ceteris utile est,
<ita> [modice dolere] tibi necesse est."
sed: sed sets up an opposition between the necessity of grieving
expressed in the beginning of the sentence and the necessity of
moderation in grief expressed in the end of the sentence.
modice: as an adverb, modice modifies an understood dolere, which is
the subject of est.
utile: a predicate nominative agreeing with the subject of est.
ut ... ita ...: ut and ita are correlatives ("just as ..., so ....").
necesse est: the subject of est is another understood dolere, which is
modified by an understood modice.
 Cicero concludes his letter, saying he has written enough of grief,
and will send other news in another letter soon, which he will send via
an old, and presumably trusted, friend (sending letters was not a
simple private matter: one had to think of the qualities of the person
carrying the letter).
scriberem ... nisi ... essent: present contrary to fact condition.
plura: modifies an understood plural accusative verba, as in English "I
would write more" (more what? there seems to be an understood noun
haec ipsa: modifies an understood plural nominative verba (see previous
nimis: modifies multa, which is predicate nominative.
quo: refers to exercitum.
reliqua: nominative neuter plural adjective used substantively.
ex sententia: an idiom meaning "satisfactorily."
succedant: subjunctive in purpose clause
satis: adverb modifying liberi.
scribam: although expressed only in the first clause, scribam must also
be understood in the second half of the sentence.
plura and certiora: both modify a plural accusative verba that is the
object of scribam.
iis litteris quas: remember to translate this plural as singular.
veteri: dative agreeing with nostro and modifying some understood
masculine dative noun like "friend."
accipio, accipere, to learn, to be taught; receive, be inflicted
accuso, accusare, to accuse
addo, addere, addidi, additum, to add
aestimo, aestimare, to value, to consider
alienus, alienior, alienissimus (adj), inappropriate to, unworthy of (+
abl. or dat.)
alter, altera, alterum, another (of two)
amitto, amittere, amisi, amissum, to lose
auctoritas, -atis, f., authority
careo, carere, be without, miss, lack (+ abl.)
certus, -a, -um, certain, fixed
ceterus, -a, -um, rest, remaining
civis, civis, m., citizen
cogito (1), think (about)
colligo, colligere, collegi, collectum, to collect, to assemble
conicio, conicere, conieci, coniectum, to throw together
conl-, see coll-
consolor (1), to console
consuetudo, consuetudinis, f., habit, custom, experience
cum ... tum ...., both ... and ...
debilito, debilitare, to weaken, to deprive of power
decet, (impersonal) it is fitting
deterreo, deterrere, to deter, to discourage (from)
dico, dicere, dixi, dictum, to call, name
disco, discere, didici, to learn
doleo, dolere, to hurt, to feel pain
dolor, doloris, m., pain, anguish
egeo, egere, egui, to need (+gen or abl)
enim (postpositive), namely, for, because
exercitus, -us, m., army
exspecto (1), await, wait for (+acc.)
facile, facilius, facillime (adv), easily, more easily, most easily
fero, ferre, tuli, latus, to bear
fore = futurum esse
fortasse (adv), perhaps
fortis, fortior, fortissimus (adj), strong
fungor, fungi, functus sum, to execute, to be engaged in (+ abl of
gens, gentis, f., nation, Romans (pl.)
gravis, gravior, gravissimus (adj), heavy, painful
iudicium, iudici(i), n., judgment
lego, legere, legi, lectum, to read
levo, levare, to comfort, lighten, relieve
liber, libera, liberum, free
litterae, -arum, f. pl., letter (sg.), epistle
luctus, luctus, m., grief, sorrow
maeror, maeroris, m., grief, sadness
medeor, mederi, --, -to heal, to find healing (+dat of person)
minime, adv., least
miser, miserior, miserrimus (adj), poor, miserable
molliter, mollius, mollissime (adv), calmly, quietly
necesse est, it is necessary
nimis (adv), too, excessively
nimius, nimia, nimium (adj), excessive, too great
nisi, if ... not ..., unless
non solum, not only
officium, offici(i), n., office, service
paene (adv), nearly
parum, minus, minime (adv), not enough, very little
plus, pluris, n., more (the noun is always singular and takes gen.)
plures, pluria, pl. adj., more (the plural is always an adjective)
populus, -i, m., the people
praecipio, praecipere, to recommend
propter (prep), on account of, for (+acc)
quam ob rem, why, wherefore
ratio, rationis, argument
reliquus, reliqua, reliquum (adj), the rest, remainder
remedium, -i, n., cure, remedy
satis (adv), enough
scaena, -ae, f., (public) scene, stage
scio, scire, scivi, scitum, know
scribo, scribere, scripsi, scriptum, write
sensus, sensus, m., feeling, sense
sententia, sententiae, f., feeling, thought, meaning
servio, servire, servivi, servitum, to serve, be slave to (+dat.)
similis, simile, like, similar (+dat.)
sine, without (+abl.)
soleo, solere, to be in the habit of
solum, adv., alone, only
solus, -a, -um, alone
succedo, succedere, to advance, to follow
terra, -ae, f., land
tunc, then, at that time
tute, emphatic form of tu
utilis, utilis, utile (adj), useful
verbum, -a, n., word
vereor, vereri, veritus sum (dep), to revere, to respect
vetus, veteris, old
videor, videri, visus sum, to seem
vix (adv), hardly