Cicero ad Fam. 12.3

Commentary by John Casey, revised by J. Bailly


Letter 74 is addressed to C. Cassius Longinus, the instigator of the assassination of Caesar. At the time of this letter, Caesar's assassins had fled Rome to Asia, and Rome awaited their return. In their absence Mark Antony was agitating the people and trying to increase their love for the dead Caesar and their hatred for his killers. Caesar's followers thought that Cicero planned the assassination, and so Cicero is concerned about Antony's actions. Cicero writes an emotionally charged letter to Cassius, informing him of how matters stand in Rome and indirectly asking Cassius to return. Notice the frequent use of exclamation and question, marks of passion.


III. Scr. Romae ineunte mense Octobri a.u.c. 710.

(1) Auget tuus amicus furorem in dies: primum in statua, quam posuit in rostris, inscripsit PARENTI OPTIME MERITO, ut non modo sicarii, sed iam etiam parricidae iudicemini, quid dico, "iudicemini"? "iudicemur" potius; vestri enim pulcherrimi facti ille furiosus me principem dicit fuisse. Utinam quidem fuissem! molestus nobis non esset. Sed hoc vestrum est; quod quoniam praeteriit, utinam haberem, quid vobis darem consilii! sed ne mihi quidem ipsi reperio quid faciundum sit; quid enim est, quod contra vim sine vi fieri possit?
(2) Consilium omne autem hoc est illorum, ut mortem Caesaris persequantur; itaque ante diem VI. Non. Oct. productus in contionem a Cannutio turpissime ille quidem discessit, sed tamen ea dixit de conservatoribus patriae, quae dici deberent de proditoribus; de me quidem non dubitanter, quin omnia de meo consilio et vos fecissetis et Cannutius faceret. Cetera cuiusmodi sint, ex hoc iudica, quod legato tuo viaticum eripuerunt: quid eos interpretari putas, quum hoc faciunt? ad hostem scilicet portari. O rem miseram! dominum ferre non potuimus, conservo servimus. Et tamen, me quidem favente magis quam sperante, etiam nunc residet spes in virtute tua. Sed ubi sunt copiae? de reliquo malo te ipsum tecum loqui quam nostra dicta cognoscere. Vale.


Scr. = scriptum or scripsit.
Romae: locative.
ineunte mense Octobri: abl. absolute; months are adjectives in Latin.
a.u.c. 710 = ab urbe condita 710: i.e. 44 BCE.
CASSIO SAL.: at the beginning of a letter, one wished the addressee good health (salus). Given that Cassio is in the dative, SAL. is an abbreviation of the noun (salutem [dicit]).

tuus amicus: refers to Mark Antony, a good example of irony, perhaps even sarcasm, since Antony was a Caesarian obviously opposed to Cassius.
in dies: (idiom) "every day."
statua: the statue mentioned is otherwise unknown.
ut non: negative result clause.
iudicemini: subjunctive in a result clause. Why present subjunctive?
iudicemini/iudicemur: English writers would put iudicemini and iudicemur in quotation marks. Romans did not have that punctuation, and modern editors are reluctant to use them in Latin texts.Cicero is revising what he said in the previous sentence and suggests that iudicemur would be more accurate.
vestri pulcherrimi facti: objective genitive with principem.
fuisse: perfect infinitive expresses time before the main verb.
utinam....fuissem: subjunctive of desire ("optative" subjunctive): an impassioned statement. Note that it is an unreal ("contrary-to-fact") wish about the past and has the same subjunctive as contrary-to-fact conditionals.
non esset: present unreal ("contrary-to-fact) subjunctive: understand si princeps facti fuissem from previous sentence. Why do you think Cicero says that if he had planned the assassination, Antony would not now be a thorn in his side?
sed hoc vestrum est: (understand perhaps factum from 1.4).
quod: refers to hoc.
utinam haberem: another optative subjunctive clause. The "direct object" is not a single word, but rather the whole indirect question which follows).
darem: subjunctive in indirect question (quid introduces the indirect question: consilii depends on quid).
ne...quidem: "not even."
quid faciendum sit: indirect question using gerundive to indicate necessity or obligation. Remember gerundives are passive adjectives that are often necessitative (e.g. audiendum = "must be heard").
fieri: remember that fio, fieri, factus sum can be translated as the passive of facio.
possit: present subjunctive in a relative clause of characteristic. Quid est is a direct question.
vim . . . vi: from vis, -is f. "strength, force, violence."

ut persequantur: consilium in this instance takes a nominal ut clause, because it is a word of resolving or determining. Such ut clauses are called nominal clauses because they act like objects or subjects of verbs (in this case it acts as the "direct object" of the notion "to plan" or "to decide" in the noun consilium).
a. d. VI. Non. Oct.: (ante diem VI Nones October) = October 2. For further information on Roman dates refer to p. xv-xvii Cassell's dictionary.
productus . . . ille: refer to Marc Antony.
Cannutio Ti.: Cannutius was a tribune in 43 BCE. He was hostile to Antony, but he escaped proscription. He was later executed by Octavian.
dici: present passive infinitive. Complimentary infinitive with debeo.
deberent: imperfect subjunctive in relative clause of characteristic. Why imperfect?
de me: supply dixit from sentence before.
non dubitanter quin: quin + subj. occurs after negative expressions of doubt. Quin is translates as "that" or "but that": English can say "There is no doubt that . . ." but you will often see "There is no doubt but that . . .." Why are the pluperfect and imperfect fecissetis and faceret used here?
sint: subjunctive in an indirect question.
iudica: present imperative.
quod: "the fact that." Hoc is in apposition to this whole quod clause.
tuo legato: dative of disadvantage.
putas: takes acc. + inf. indirect speech construction (i.e. eos interpretari).
cum hoc faciunt: cum clauses with the indicative are temporal, not causal or concessive (which always take the subjunctive).
ad hostem....portari: still in indirect speech after putas.
rem miseram: accusative of exclamation.
ferre: complimentary infinitive with posse. Ferre = "tolerate, bear."
conservo: what could be worse than being a slave to a master? Being a slave to a fellow slave.
conservo servimus: a result clause in sense (but not grammar).
favente: from favens,-ntis present active participle of faveo.
sperante: from sperans, -ntis present active participle of spero. Both of these participles are used in an abl. abs. explaining how Cicero feels. Note that abl. s. participles have -e here, not -i. When do they have -i?
malo: takes acc. + inf.
quam: (with comparative malo) = "than."


augeo, -ere, -xi, -ctum, increase, grow
Cannutius, -i m., (proper name) Cannutius
cognosco, -ere, -ovi, -itum, learn, know, understand, take cognizance of
conservator, -oris, m., preserver
conservus, -i, m., fellow slave
consilium, -i, n., counsel, plan, decision
contio, -onis, f., public meeting, speech, address
copiae, -arum, f. pl., forces, troops, supplies
dictum, -i, (n. ppp. of dico), saying, word, proverb
dies, diei, m. or f., day; in dies, every day, day by day
discedo, -edere, -essi, -essum , go away, depart
dubitanter, hesitantly, doubtingly
eripio, -pere, -pui, -eptum, remove, take by force
faveo, favere, favi, fautum, +dat., favor, support, side with
furiosus, -a, -um, mad, frantic, raving
furor, -oris, m., madness, frenzy, passion
interpretor, -ari, -atus, offer in explanation, interpret
iudico (1), judge
legatus, -i, m., legate, envoy, deputy, ambassador
loquor, loqui, locutus sum, speak, talk, say, mention
malo, malle, malui, prefer, would rather
meritus, -a, -um, deserved, just
modo (adv.), just, only
modus, -i m., measure, size, limit, end
molestus, -a, -um, irksome, annoying
optime (adv., superl.of bonus), best
parricida, -ae, m., parricide, assassin, traitor
persequor, -sequi, -secutus sum, prosecute, take vengeance on
porto (1), carry
potius (adv.), rather
praetereo, -ire, -ii, -itum, go by, pass
princeps, principis, m., leader, instigator
proditor, -oris, m., traitor
produco, producere, produxi, productus, conduct, bring out, lead
quidem (adv.), in fact, indeed, at any rate
quin, but that (see commentary)
quoniam, since, seeing that
reperio, -ire, repperi, -ertum, find, discover, ascertain
resideo, -ere, -edi, remain, remain behind
rostrum, -i, n., beak, prow of a ship; in plural, orator's platform in Rome
scilicet (adv.), evidently, of course
sicarius, -i, m., assassin, murderer
statua, -ae, f., statue
turpis, turpe, awful, disgraceful, shameful
utinam (adv.), I wish, would that, if only!
vester, -ri, your, yours
viaticum, -i n., traveling allowance
vis (acc. vim, dat. vi) f., force, strength, violence; pl. strength, resources

The text of the letter is from from, which took it from The Society of Ancient Languages with the kind permission of its webmaster, Brian M. Kleeman. The text is D. Albert Wesenberg's Teubner edition of 1885. Slight changes, including correction of obvious typographical errors, have been made by Jacques Bailly.