Cicero Ad Fam. XV.19
Commentary by John Casey: Revised by Jacques Bailly
C. Cassius S.P.D.M.T.C.
Brundisi, A.U.C. 709
S. v. b.
Non mehercule in hac mea peregrinatione quicquam libentius facio quam
scribo ad te; videor enim cum praesente loqui et iocari. nec tamen hoc
usu venit propter spectra Catina; pro quo tibi proxima epistula tot
rusticos Stoicos regeram ut Catium Athenis natum esse dicas.
Pansam nostrum secunda voluntate hominum paludatum ex urbe exisse cum
ipsius causa gaudeo tum mehercule etiam omnium nostrum. spero enim
homines intellecturos quanto sit omnibus odio crudelitas et quanto
amori probitas et clementia, atque ea quae maxime mali petant et
ad bonos pervenire. difficile est enim persuadere hominibus τὸ καλὸν
δι’ αὑτὸ αἱρετόν
esse; ἡδονήν vero et ἀταραξίαν virtute,
iustitia, τῷ καλῷ parari et verum et probabile est. ipse enim Epicurus,
a quo omnes Catii et Amafinii, mali verborum interpretes,
proficiscuntur, dicit οὐκ ἔστιν ἡδέως ἄνευ τοῦ καλῶς καὶ δικαίως ζῆν.
itaque et Pansa, qui ἡδονήν
sequitur, virtutem retinet et ii qui a vobis φιλήδονοι vocantur
sunt φιλόκαλοι et φιλοδίκαιοι omnisque virtutes et colunt et retinent.
Sulla, cuius iudicium probare debemus, cum dissentire philosophos
videret, non quaesiit quid bonum esset sed omnia bona coemit. cuius ego
mortem forti mehercules animo tuli. nec tamen Caesar diutius nos eum
desiderare patietur (nam habet damnatos quos pro illo nobis restituat)
nec ipse sectorem desiderabit cum filium viderit.
Nunc, ut ad rem publicam redeam, quid in Hispaniis geratur rescribe.
peream nisi sollicitus sum; ac malo veterem et clementem dominum habere
quam novum et crudelem experiri. scis Gnaeum quam sit fatuus, scis quo
modo crudelitatem virtutem putet, scis quam se semper a nobis derisum
putet; vereor ne nos rustice gladio velit ἀντιμυκτηρίσαι
quid fiat, si me diligis, rescribe.
hui, quam velim scire utrum ista sollicito animo an soluto legas! sciam
enim eodem tempore quid me facere oporteat. Ne longior sim, vale. me,
ut facis, ama. si Caesar vicit, celeriter me exspecta.
At this point, January of 45 BCE, Cicero was in Rome and Cassius was in
Brundisium. Together with ad Fam. XV 16-18 (written to Cassius in Dec.
of 46 and January of 45), this forms part of a letter exchange in which
Cassius and Cicero discuss their attitude towards Caesar, who had
pardoned Cassius after Pharsalus, but had not employed him fully. In
this letter, the Sulla mentioned is P. Sulla senior, who had just died.
Cicero's comments on his death are found in ad Fam. XV.17. As this
letter was written, Caesar was beginning his fourth consulship.
C. Cassius S.P.D.M.T.C.
: = Gaius Cassius (Longinus) salutem plurimum dicit Marco Tullio
Brundisi: locative. Brundisium was on the coast of Italy.
A.U.C. 709: = ab urbe condita 709. That is, 45 BCE.
S.v.b si vales, bene est: a standard epistolary formula = si vales bene
Hac mea peregrinatione: remember that mea can be translated as "mine"
loqui. . .iocari: deponent infinitives (passive form, active sense).
usu venire: an idiom meaning "to occur in one's experience, come to
Spectra refers to what Cicero had written to Cassius in a previous
letter (ad fam. XV.16). The "specter" is the mental image the writer
has when thinking about a person he is writing to. "Catinus" suggests
Catiana Catius, a recently deceased Epicurean scholar, may have coined
this term. Cassius is making fun of his bad Greek in this passage
(Epicureans were notorious for bad style).
tot . . . ut: tot "so many" prepares for the result clause (ut. .
regeram: to throw back (rhetorically).
Athenis: locative with nascor.
dicas. . .: followed by accusative and infinitive in indirect speech.
Note that a good English translation of this present
subjunctive would be "will say." In subordinate clauses, the "tenses"
of the subjunctive must be interpreted via the sequence of tenses.
"Present" can represent future time.
Pansa: Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus, the son of one of Sulla's
victims, had served under Caesar in Gaul and Spain and was a politician
and lawyer attached to Cicero. Cicero had mentioned in his previous
letter (XV.17) that Pansa had just left Rome.
secunda voluntate hominum: (ablatives of description) "with men's good
cum ipsius causa gaudeo tum mehercule etiam omnium nostrum (causa):
parallelism allows one to fill in what is missing.
cum. . .tum: "not only. . .but also."
ipsius causa: causa regularly comes after the genitive which depends on
it and is practically a preposition.
gaudeo: takes an acc.(Pansam) and inf. (exisse): Acc. + inf.
expresses the cause of an emotion. The construction is like indirect
spero intellecturos (esse homines): fut. inf. + acc. in indirect
quanto sit omnibus odio crudelitas: subjunctive indirect question
following intellecturus esse.
quanto omnibus odio: is a double dative construction.
et quanto amori (omnibus sit): another indirect question parallel to
the previous one (hence omnibus sit can be filled in here).
ea: acc. subject of pervenire in indirect speech dependent on
petant. . .concupiscant: subjunctives are the norm in subordinate
clauses in oratio obliqua.
persuadere: takes what case?
τὸ καλὸν δι’ αὑτὸ αἱρετόν: "the good should be chosen for
sake." This Greek phrase is the accusative subject of esse in indirect
speech after persuadere.
ἡδονήν. . .ἀταραξίαν: "pleasure" and
mind."Accusative direct objects of the (passive) inf. in indirect
after verum et probabile est.
virtute, iustitia, τῷ καλῷ: the first two words are
means, the third is a Greek dative, "by the good," as Greek has no
ablative case, the dative is substituted here for means.
mali interpretes: in apposition with Catii et Amafinii, both of whom
Cicero deemed inadequate interpreters of Epicurus, not Cicero's
Cicero is saying that even a second rate interpreter of a mediocre
philosopher knows this sort of thing.
Epicurus. . .dicit: dicit would take an accusative and infinitive in
Latin, but here the Greek is quoted in direct speech.
οὐκ ἔστιν ἡδέως ἄνευ τοῦ καλῶς καὶ δικαίως ζῆν: "It is
possible to live a life of pleasure without virtue and justice." quoted
from Epicurus' "Letter to Menoecus."
ἡδονήν: "pleasure" in the Greek accusative is direct
φιλήδονοι . . . φιλόκαλοι . . . φιλοδίκαιοι: "pleasure
of good," and "lovers of justice." All are masculine, nominative, and
Sulla: Sulla was renowned for profiting from buying up the confiscated
property of those who were proscribed. Cassius is being sarcastic when
says that the judgment of Sulla ought to be respected.
cum. . .videret: imperfect subjunctive in cum temporal clause of past
quid bonum esset: subjunctive in an indirect question.
bona coemit: bonus, -a, -um in neuter plural as a substantive means
cuius ego mortem forti mehercules animo tuli: drips with sarcasm.
nos eum desiderare patietur: patior takes an accusative (nos) and
infinitive (desiderare) construction; eum is the direct object of the
pro illo: i.e. Sulla.
nobis: indirect object of restituat.
restituat: potential subjunctive.
cum. . .viderit: cum temporal clause with the indicative of future
filium: the son of Sulla.
ut. . .redeam: subjunctive in purpose clause.
quid. . .geratur: indirect question after the imperative rescribe.
peream: jussive subjunctive.
malo: malo is a verb followed by infinitives.
Gnaeum: Gnaeus Pompeius, the elder son of Pompey the Great, was killed
in Spain after the battle of Munda.
quam sit fatuus: subjunctive in an indirect question dependant on scis.
quo modo crudelitatem virtutem putet: putet is subjunctive in indirect
question dependant on scis. Crudelitatem (esse) virtutem is
indirect speech after putet.
quam. . .putet: subjunctive in indirect question dependant on scis.
putet with indirect speech in acc. (se) and infinitive derisum
derisum: derisum agrees with se.
vereor ne. . .velit a)ntimukthri/sai: a verb of fearing followed by ne
and the subjunctive velit, which is followed by a Greek infinitive.
ἀντιμυκτηρίσαι: Greek infinitive "to turn up noses."
quid fiat: indirect question.
hui: an interjection "alas!"
quam: with indicative in excalamation.
utrum. . .an. . .legas: subjunctive in alternative indirect question
(si illud sciam) sciam: a future less vivid conditional with the
protasis understood from the last sentence: translate "If I knew that,
I would know..." followed by the indirect question quid me facere
eodem tempore: ablative of time at which.
oporteat: subjunctive in an indirect question; takes acc. and
ne longior sim: negative purpose clause with the subjunctive.
ut facis: ut with the indicative is explanatory, "as."
amor, -is, m., love
Athenae, arum, f. pl., Athens
causa (w/preceding gen.), for the sake of (the preceding gen.)
clementia, -ae, f., mercy, clemency
coemo, -emere,-emi, -emptum, to buy up in large quantities
colo, -ere, colui, cultum, to foster, to cultivate
concupisco,-piscere,-pivi,-pitum, to desire, to covet
crudelitas, -atis, f., cruelty
damnatus, ppp. of damno, -are, to condemn
derideo, -ridere, -risi,-risum, to laugh at, to mock
desidero, -are, to long for, to grieve
diligo,-ligere,-lexi, -lectum, to love, to esteem highly
dissentio,-sentire,-sensi,-sentum, to not agree
diutius, adv., longer (comparative of diu)
exeo, exire, exii/exivi, exitum, leave, exit
experior, -periri, -pertus sum, to try, to put to the test
fatuus,-a,-um, foolish, idiotic
fero, ferre, tuli, latus, bear, endure
gaudeo, gaudere, gavisus sum, rejoice
gladium, -i, n., sword
intellego,-ere,-lexi,-lectum, to understand, to believe
interpres, -pretis, m.&f., translator
iocor,-ari, dep. to jest
libenter, willingly, gladly
libentius, comparative of libenter
loquor, loqui, locutus sum, talk
mehercule, by Hercules
natum (participle of nascor,-i, natus sum used as substantive), a son
odium,-i, n., hatred
oportet, oportuit, it behooves, it is right, it is a duty (impersonal)
paludatus,-a, -um, clad in the military uniform
paro,-are, to obtain
patior, pati, passus sum, dep., to allow
peregrinatio, -onis, f., a traveling, a staying in foreign countries
pereo, -ire,-ii, itum, to be destroyed, to perish
pervenio, pervenire, perveni, perventus, arrive, reach
peto, petere, petivi, petitus, seek
praesens, -entis, partic. from praesum, to be present
pro + abl., in place of
probabilis, -e, provable, demonstrable
probitas, -atis, f., honesty, uprightness
probo, -are, to accept, to approve
proficiscor, -fisci, -fectus sum, to originate from, spring form
propter, prep. + acc., on account of
proximus, -a, -um, next
quisquam, cuiusquam, pron., anyone
regero,-gerere,-gessi,-gestum, throw back
rescribo, rescribere, rescripsi, rescriptum, write back
restituo,-uere,-ui,-utum, to restore
retineo,-ere, -tinui, -tentum, to maintain, to hold on to
rusticus, -a, -um, rustic
rusticus, -a,-um, rural, rustic
sector,-oris, m., a buyer of state property
secundus, -a, -um, favorable
sollicitus,-a, -um, agitated, restless
solutus, -a, -um, at ease, relaxed, unperturbed
spectrum, -i, n., spectre, apparition
usus, -us, m., use (usu venit, an idiom it happens, it occurs)
vereor, vereri, veritus sum, fear
vetus, veteris, adj., old
virtus, -utis, f., virtue, excellence
The text of the letter is from from www.thelatinlibrary.com, 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.