Cicero Letters to his Friends VII.24

Commentary by Michael Gray, revised by J. Bailly

Scr. in Tusculano (ineunte m. Oct.?) a.u.c. 709.
M. CICERO S. D. M. FADIO GALLO.

Amoris quidem tui, quoquo me verti, vestigia, vel proxime de Tigellio; sensi enim ex litteris tuis valde te laborasse: amo igitur voluntatem. Sed pauca de re. Cipius, opinor, olim? "non omnibus dormio:" sic ego non omnibus, mi Galle, servio; etsi quae est haec servitus? olim, cum regnare existimabamur, non tam ab ullis, quam hoc tempore observor a familiarissimis Caesaris omnibus praeter istum: id ego in lucris pono, non ferre hominem pestilentiorem patria sua; eumque addictum iam tum puto esse Calvi Licinii Hipponacteo praeconio. At vide, quid suscenseat: Phameae causam receperam, ipsius quidem causa; erat enim mihi sane familiaris: is ad me venit dixitque iudicem sibi operam dare constituisse eo ipso die, quo de P. Sestio in consilium iri necesse erat; respondi nullo modo me facere posse; quem vellet alium diem si sumpsisset, me ei non defuturum; ille autem, qui sciret se nepotem bellum tibicinem habere et sat bonum unctorem, discessit a me, ut mihi videbatur, iratior. Habes "Sardos venales, alium alio nequiorem;" cognosti meam causam et istius salaconis iniquitatem. Catonem tuum mihi mitte; cupio enim legere: me adhuc non legisse turpe utrique nostrum est.

Commentary

In this letter, Cicero discusses difficulties with an influential friend of Caesar's named Tigellius. On the same day Cicero wrote this letter he also wrote a letter to Atticus (A. xiii.49).


Scr. = scriptum
in Tusculano: Cicero owned a Tusculan villa.
ineunte m. Oct.: ablative absolute; = ineunte mense Octobri.
a.u.c. 709: "ab urbe condita 709"; 709 years from the founding of Rome, i.e. 45 BCE.
M. Cicero: Marcus Cicero
S.D.: salutem dicit.
M. Fabio Gallo: Marco Fabio Gallo.

1
vestigia: a nominative: understand a verb (sunt?).
vel: "for instance."
de Tigellio: this is shorthand for a longer thought, just as in English, we might say "Concerning Mr. Smith," and mean (between the lines) "concerning that unfortunate business with Mr. Smith" or "about the wonderful news of Mr. Smith."
Tigellio: M. Tigellius Hermogenes was a friend of Caesar's. He was a Sardinian musician and a descendant of Phamea (mentioned later in this letter). Horace Sat. i.3 describes him.
laborasse: shortened, or "syncopated," form of laboravisse.
sensi: verbs of thinking take acc. with inf.
amo: this verb means "to love," but here, you should massage its meaning into something more idiomatic. Perhaps "I am thankful for ..." or "I appreciate ...."
voluntatem: whose "good will" must this refer to, given the context?
de re: the res referred to is the same referred to in de Tigellio.
Cipius olim: this is shorthand for Cipius olim dixit. The story can be found in Lucilius. Cipius feigned sleep to avoid having to acknowledge certain actions of his wife. When a slave stole wine while Cipius was "sleeping," Cipius said 'non omnibus dormio.' Plutarch Amat. 16 says the story is told of Augustus' jester Gabba.
mi Galle: vocative case.
cum regnare existimabamur: cum temporal clause. Cicero is referring to the time he "lorded it over" or "played the king" in Rome because of his famous actions in quashing the Catilinarian conspiracy.
non tam . . . quam: "not so much . . . as." In the tam clause, you need to understand observabar or something similar.
hoc tempore: ablative of time, "at this time."
istum: i.e. Tigellius.
id in lucris pono: this phrase is used metaphorically to describe what Cicero thinks of id.
non ferre hominem pestilentiorem patria sua: this whole phrase is an infinitive phrase in apposition to id. patria sua is ablative of comparison. Tigellius' homeland, Sardinia, was considered an unhealthy country.
eumque addictum . . . puto esse: indirect statement; accusative subject eum and infinitive addictum esse (perfect passive infinitive).
Calvi Licini Hipponacteo praeconio: Calvus Licinius was a distinguished orator and poet who composed a lampoon of Tigellius: 'Sardi Tigelli putidum caput venit' 'for sale Tigellius, the Sardinian oaf." (Tyrell's translation). More literally, "The stinking head of Tigellius the Sardinian is for sale." Hipponax of Ephesus was a famous Greek satiricist, so "Hipponacteus" is synonymous with "satirical."
Quid: "why."
suscenseat: indirect question.
Phameae: Phamea was the uncle or grandfather of Tigellius. Cicero took on his case as a favor out of friendship.
ipsius: refers to Tigellius.

2
dixitque iudicem . . . constituisse: a verb of saying with indirect statement. The infinitive of that indirect statement, constituisse, itself takes a complementary infinitive phrase operam dare eo ipso die.
quo: what is its antecedent?
in consilium iri necesse erat: iri is the rare passive infinitive of eo, ire, ivi, iturus. Translate "that one go." Necesse est takes either a complementary infinitive (as it does here) or a nominal ut clause.
P. Sestio: Sestius was charged in 52 with bribery and corruption and defended by Cicero. Possibly similar charges were renewed in 56.
nullo modo: "in no way."
me facere posse: indirect statement with me as accusative subject and posse as infinitive (present active). Understand something like in consilium eo die ire as the action to which facere refers.
quem vellet: subordinate clauses in indirect speech take the subjunctive normally. Remember that 'after si, nisi, numl, and ne, all the ali's drop away' (i.e. quem is aliquem).
si sumpsisset, me ei non defuturum: a mixed conditional with pluperfect active subjunctive in protasis and future active infinitive in apodosis. The whole conditional is in indirect statement dependent on respondi.
qui sciret . . . habere: relative clause of characteristic describing ille. Sciret takes indirect statement.
nepotem: i.e. Tigellius.
unctorem: according to Horace Tigellius had a talent for singing, so some read cantorem instead of unctorem.
ut here: means "as" and introduces a parenthetical remark with an indicative verb.
mi: alternate form of dative mihi.
iratior: what nominative does this modify?

2
Sardos venalis, alium alio nequiorem: an ancient proverb (clearly the Sardinians had a bad reputation): alio is abl. of comparison.
Catonem: according to Bailey, the "Cato" was the title of a panegyric, which is surprising coming from the hand of Gallus, an Epicurean. After Cato's death in 46 there were many pamphlets for and against his character and record. Cicero himself wrote one.
me . . . non legisse turpe . . . est: the infinitive is the subject of est, and turpe is the predicate nominative, neuter because infinitives are neuter nouns.
nostrum: nostrum is gen. of nos, used as a partitive genitive.

Vocabulary

addico, -dicere, -dixi, -dictum, to put up for sale
adhuc, up to now, to this point
bellus, -a, -um, pretty, handsome
cantor, oris, m., singer
causa, ae, f., legal case
causa, prep. + gen. for the sake of (the gen. precedes causa)
congnosco, cognoscere, cognovi, cognotus, recognize; know (in perfect tenses)
consto, constare, constiti, constatum, decide
desum, deesse, defui, defuturus (+dat), to fail, to disappoint
discedo, -cedere, -cessi, -cessum, to go asunder, part, separate
etsi, although
existimo, -are, to consider, regard, deem
familiaris, -e, friend
fero, ferre, tuli, latus, endure
hipponacteus, -a, -um, adj., biting, satirical
iniquitas, -tatis, f., unfairness, injustice
iratus, -a, -um, angry
lucrum, i, n., profit, gain: ponere in lucris, to regard as a gain
nequam, indeclinable adj., compar. nequior, superl. nequissimus, worthless, bad
nepos, -otis, m., a grandson or nephew
nequam (indecl.) good for nothing, bad; comparative nequior
observo, -are, pay attention to, pay respect to
operam dare, to pay attention to, to hear a case
pestilens, -entis, adj., pestilential, unhealthy
praeconium, -i, an advertisement
praeter, prep. +acc. except for
proxime, superl. of prope, a short time ago, just now
quidem, postpositive adv., indeed, certainly, at least
quoquo or quo quo, withersoever, to whatever place
recipio, -cipere, -cepi, - ceptum, undertake
salacon, -onis, m., boaster, braggart
sane, (in concessions) admittedly, to be sure
satis or sat, adv., fairly , quite
servitus, -utis, f., the condition of a slave, slavery, servitude
sumo, sumere, sumpsi, sumptum, to take
suscenseo/succenseo, -ere, ui, to be angry, bear a grudge
tibicen, inis, m., a flute player
turpis, -e, adj., disgraceful, shameful
unctor, - oris, m., annointer, rubdown man
uterque, utraque, utrumque, both (of two), either (of two), each (of two)
valde, adv., intensely, very much, greatly
vel, for instance
venalis, -e, on sale, to be sold
verto (vorto), vertere, verti, versum, to turn, turn round; often with a reflex.: se vertere, to turn oneself
vestigium,i, n. - a foot-step, track, foot-mark; a trace, mark
voluntas, -atis, f., good will


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.