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Institutions and Ideology in Republican Rome: Speech, Audience and Decision
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IN STIT UTION S AND IDEOLOGY I N REPUBLICAN ROME

This volume brings together a distinguished international group of researchers to explore public speech in Republican Rome in its institutional and ideological contexts. The focus throughout is on the interaction between argument, speaker, delivery and action. The chapters consider how speeches acted alongside other factors – such as the identity of the speaker, his alliances, the deployment of invective against opponents, physical location and appearance of other members of the audience and non-rhetorical threats or incentives – to affect the beliefs and behaviour of the audience. Together the chapters offer a range of approaches to these issues and bring attention back to the content of public speech in Republican Rome as well as its form and occurrence. The book will be of interest not only to ancient historians but also to those working on ancient oratory and to historians and political theorists working on public speech. henriette van der blom is Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Birmingham. Her publications include Cicero’s Role Models: The Political Strategy of a Newcomer (2010), Community and Communication: Oratory and Politics in Republican Rome (edited with Catherine Steel, 2013) and Oratory and Political Career in the Late Roman Republic (Cambridge, 2016). She is a member of the editorial board of The Fragments of the Roman Republican Orators project. christa gray is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Reading. She is the author of Jerome, Vita Malchi: Introduction, Text, Translation, and Commentary (2015) and co-editor, along with Andrea Balbo, Richard Marshall and Catherine Steel, of Reading Republican Oratory: Reconstructions, Contexts, Receptions (2018). She is a member of the editorial board of The Fragments of the Roman Republican Orators project. catherine steel is Professor of Classics at the University of Glasgow. Her publications include The End of the Roman Republic, 146–44 BC: Conquest and Crisis (2013) and, as editor, The Cambridge Companion to Cicero (Cambridge, 2013). She is currently Principal Investigator on The Fragments of Republican Roman Oratory project.

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INSTITUTIONS AND IDEOLOGY IN REPUBLICAN ROME Speech, Audience and Decision

edited by HENRIETTE VAN DER BLOM University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

CHRISTA GRAY University of Reading, United Kingdom

CATHERINE STEEL University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

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University Printing House, Cambridge cb2 8bs, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, ny 10006, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, vic 3207, Australia 314–321, 3rd Floor, Plot 3, Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – 110025, India 79 Anson Road, #06–04/06, Singapore 079906 Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781108429016 doi: 10.1017/9781108681476 © Cambridge University Press 2018 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2018 Printed in the United Kingdom by Clays, St Ives plc A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. isbn 978-1-108-42901-6 Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

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Dedicated to the memory of Martin Stone

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Contents

List of Contributors Acknowledgements List of Abbreviations

page ix xi xii

Introduction

1

Catherine Steel, Christa Gray and Henriette van der Blom

part i modes of political communication

13

1 Aristocratic Dignity and Indignity in Republican Public Life

15

Alexander Yakobson

2 Political Communication in the Late Roman Republic: Semantic Battles between Optimates and Populares?

35

Claudia Tiersch

3 Political Participation and the Identification of Politicians in the Late Roman Republic

69

Cristina Rosillo-López

4 Gods, Change and Civic Space in Late Republican Oratory

88

Anna Clark

part ii political alliances

105

5 Political Alliances and Rivalries in Contiones in the Late Roman Republic

107

Francisco Pina Polo

6 Theophanes of Mytilene, Cicero and Pompey’s Inner Circle

128

Federico Santangelo

vii

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Contents

viii

7 The Garden and the Forum: Epicurean Adherence and Political Affiliation in the Late Republic

147

Cas Valachova

8 Cato, Pompey’s Third Consulship and the Politics of Milo’s Trial

165

Kit Morrell

part iii institutions in theory and practice 9 Falsifying the Auspices in Republican Politics

181 183

Lindsay G. Driediger-Murphy

10 When the Senators Became ‘The Best’

203

Guido Clemente

11 Private Knowledge and Public Image in Roman Elections: The Case of the Pro Murena

222

Ayelet Haimson Lushkov

12 The ‘Wrong’ Meetings? Some Notes on the Linked Usage of the Terms Coetus and Contiones in the Political Language of the Roman Republic

236

Roman M. Frolov

13 Servilia’s Consilium: Rhetoric and Politics in a Family Setting

252

Harriet Flower

part iv memory and reputation

265

14 Like Father, Like Son? The Dynamics of Family Exemplarity and Ideology in (Fragmentary) Republican Oratory

267

Evan Jewell

15 Good Fortune and the Public Good: Disputing Sulla’s Claim to Be Felix

283

Alexandra Eckert

16 Gaius Verres Troubleshooter

299

Martin Stone

Bibliography Index

314 345

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Contributors

henriette van der blom Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom anna clark Associate Professor in Ancient History at the University of Oxford and Tutor in Roman History at Christ Church, Oxford, United Kingdom guido clemente Professor Emeritus of Roman History at Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy lindsay g. driediger-murphy Assistant Professor in Latin and Roman Social/Religious History at the University of Calgary, Canada alexandra eckert Assistant Professor in Ancient History at Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Germany harriet flower Andrew Fleming West Professor of Classics at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States roman m. frolov Lecturer in Ancient History at P. G. Demidov Yaroslavl State University, Russia christa gray Lecturer in Classics at the University of Reading, United Kingdom evan jewell Doctoral candidate in Classical Studies at Columbia University, New York, NY, United States ayelet haimson lushkov Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, TX, United States kit morrell Research Affiliate in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney, Australia

ix

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x

List of Contributors

francisco pina polo Professor of Ancient History at Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain cristina rosillo-lo´ pez Lecturer in History at Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain federico santangelo Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Newcastle, United Kingdom catherine steel Professor of Classics at the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom martin stone (1941–2015) Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Sydney, Australia claudia tiersch Professor of Ancient History at the HumboldtUniversität zu Berlin, Germany cas valachova Doctoral student in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom alexander yakobson Associate Professor of Ancient History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

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Acknowledgements

This volume arises from the project The Fragments of the Republican Roman Orators (FRRO), funded by the European Research Council (ERC Project 283670) at the University of Glasgow (2012–17) and would not have been possible without the ERC’s generous and sustained support. The editors are extremely grateful to the members of the FRRO Advisory Board for their advice and contributions both at the conference in London in 2014 (at which these papers received their initial presentation) and throughout the project, and in particular, we are grateful to Professor Gesine Manuwald, who hosted the conference at University College London; to the project’s two PhD students, Christopher BurdenStrevens and Jennifer Hilder; to Zara Chadha, editorial assistant on the FRRO project; to Joel Leslie, who compiled the index at short notice; and above all to Richard Marshall, research associate on the FRRO project, without whose tactful, meticulous and persistent editorial work this volume would have been much slower to reach completion.

xi

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Abbreviations

AE BNJ BNP CAH CIL Daremberg and Saglio FGrHist FRHist HRR ILLRP ILS KP MRR OLD

(1888–). L’Année épigraphique, Paris. I. Worthington et al. (eds.) (2007–). Brill’s New Jacoby Online: http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/ browse/brill-s-new-jacoby. H. Cancik, H. Schneider and C. F. Salazar (eds.) (2002–14). Brill’s New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World (28 vols.), Leiden. (1970–2005). Cambridge Ancient History (14 vols.), 2nd edn, Cambridge. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, Berlin. C. V. Daremberg and E. Saglio (eds.) (1877–1919). Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines: d’après les textes et les monuments (5 vols.), Paris. F. Jacoby (ed.) (1923–). Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, Berlin. T. J. Cornell et al. (eds.) (2013). Fragments of the Roman Historians (3 vols.), Oxford. H. Peter (ed.) (1870–1906 [vol. I, 2nd edn 1914]). Historicorum Romanorum Reliquiae (2 vols.), Leipzig. A. Degrassi (ed.) (1965). Inscriptiones Latinae Liberae Rei Publicae, 2nd edn, Florence. H. Dessau (ed.) (1892–1906). Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae (5 vols.), Leipzig. K. Ziegler and W. Sontheimer (eds.) (1964–75). Der Kleine Pauly: Lexikon der Antike (5 vols.), Stuttgart. R. S. Broughton (1951–2, 1986). The Magistrates of the Roman Republic (3 vols.), New York, NY, and Atlanta, GA. P. G. W. Glare (ed.) (2012). Oxford Latin Dictionary, 2nd edn, Oxford. xii

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List of Abbreviations ORF

4

RDGE REG RRC SB SEG Syll.3 TLL

xiii

E. Malcovati (ed.) (1976). Oratorum Romanorum Fragmenta Liberae Rei Publicae (2 vols.), 4th edn, Turin. R. K. Sherk (1964). Roman Documents from the Greek East: senatus consulta and epistulae to the Age of Augustus, Baltimore, MD. Wissowa et al. (eds.) (1893–1978). Paulys Realencyclopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, Stuttgart. M. H. Crawford (1974). Roman Republican Coinage (2 vols.), Cambridge. Shackleton Bailey’s numbering in his editions of Cicero’s letters. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. W. Dittenberger (ed.) (1915–24). Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum, 3rd edn, Leipzig. (1900–). Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, Leipzig.

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Introduction Catherine Steel, Christa Gray and Henriette van der Blom

The Roman Republic, alongside fifth-century Athens, has provided one of the most influential classical models of political organisation. In the various receptions of both communities, however, there has been a constant tendency to simplify and idealise: Athens as the model democracy in which art, architecture, literature and philosophical thought flourished, Rome as an efficient and effective force conquering and consolidating a vast area of territory thanks to its superior organisational powers.1 Yet the Roman Republic was not a single and unchanging entity over the nearly five centuries of its existence.2 Nor was it always a stable organisation, especially during the last decades before Octavian’s establishment of the Principate, when it was subject to near-constant conflict as its citizens competed over the proceeds from its conquests. These conflicts can, at points, be traced in considerable detail, painting a highly complex picture of the political, religious and social forces at work in the Roman state, yet other aspects of the political sphere remain frustratingly opaque, obscured by the nature of the surviving evidence which consistently privileges an elite perspective. This volume takes as its starting point two distinct frameworks within which political action at Rome took place. One is the institutional context, by which we mean the rules and organisational structures by which political decisions were reached and implemented. At Rome, this included assemblies of citizens, the magistrates who could summon them, their procedural rules and the decisions that they could legitimately reach; the Senate, its members, its rules of debates and the status of its decisions; law, its creation, administration and implementation; religious authority and decision-making; and executive power, including the process of elections and military commands. The second framework is that of political belief. 1

2

Much work remains to be done on the modern receptions of the Roman Republic and democratic Athens. Starting points are Demetriou 1999; Lintott 1999b: 233–55; Steel 2015. Cf. also Nippel 1980 for the reception of Greek political thought in sixteenth- to eighteenth-century England. Flower 2011.

1

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Application of the term ‘ideology’ to capture the operation of political beliefs in Republican Rome is far from unproblematic: not only is it a concept that is firmly grounded in the political debates of the twentieth century, but it also implies a more pervasive and organised phenomenon than can be documented for Rome, particularly for non-elite political thought.3 However, its use here, despite such issues, indicates this volume’s commitment to the position that political belief was a force within the Republic. The institutional history of Rome is well served. The Republic as a predictable system whose operation was governed by law is the model underpinning the foundational works of nineteenth-century historical analysis.4 Mommsen’s Republic remains the starting-point for all discussions of constitutional practice, even when these seek to refine aspects of his model.5 Important recent studies have clarified our understanding of various magistracies, legal practice and of key constitutional concepts.6 By contrast, the role of ideology has tended to be neglected, or even denied.7 In part, this may reflect unease over the word itself. But it also reflects an interpretation of Republican life in which political actors are motivated by factors other than their beliefs about how the world is and should be and in which their activity takes place within frameworks constructed in terms other than those of ideologically driven goals. On this view, the politically engaged elite, those who sought high public office and the fame that came with glittering careers, found that the route to success depended not so much on the articulation of programmes of action attractive to voters but on the deployment of money, personal connections and individual credentials (such as past public service), and the effective public communication thereof, to project an attractive and trustworthy persona to the electorate.8 In parallel with these means to 3 4 5 6

7

8

Wiseman 2009; Arena 2012: 7–8, 79–81; cf. Gray 2015: 12–14. Mommsen 1887–8; de Martino 1972–90. Bleicken 1955; Giovannini 1983; Bonnefond-Coudry 1989; Pina Polo 1989. Brennan 2000; the papers collected in Beck, Duplá, Jehne and Pina Polo 2011; Pina Polo 2011a; Williamson 2005; Schiavone 1987; Vervaet 2014. On the triumph, see Itgenshorst 2005; Beard 2007; Östenberg 2009. The prosopographical tradition is represented, for example, by Münzer 1920; Syme 1939; MRR; from a different perspective, Morstein-Marx (2004: 229, 240, 276) comments on the ‘ideological monotony’ of oratory in the Republic, a position, however, from which he has moved (Morstein-Marx 2013, 2014). On the role of ideology in the Republic, see Ferrary 1982; Perelli 1982; see also Straumann 2016; Hodgson 2017. Thus [Q. Cic.] Pet. 21–3, 28, 40, 42, 44, 49, 50–3; though see Alexander 2009; Yakobson 1999; Hölkeskamp 1995 = 2004b, 1997, 2001, 2003; see also Tatum 2013 on electoral oratory; and van der Blom 2016 on oratory as a factor for political success.

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Introduction

3

individual success, popular participation in political decision-making was shaped by institutional formats that promoted consensus and the articulation of harmony between a benevolent ruling elite and an obedient and grateful citizen body.9 This model of political life identifies a number of crucial and distinctive aspects for the nature of the Roman Republic, above all the constant tension between the possibility of popular power and the dominance of a definable elite. And there were undeniably aspects of Roman political life that minimised the potential for ideology to play a role. Chief among these is the absence of political parties. The term ‘party’ is sometimes used in discussing the Republic, but what is meant by the term in relation to Rome is a series of alliances between powerful political figures, temporary in duration and informal in structure.10 A political party with members, a published programme of activity, a strategy for implementation and existence over a period of decades or longer is entirely unknown. And – whether as cause or symptom of the absence of defined party groupings – there appears to have been a single dominant model of community organisation, in which the Roman people were unarguably sovereign, imposing consensus on the articulation of competing political programmes and leaving space for difference only in the motives and trustworthiness of individual politicians.11 However, removing ideology from analyses of Republican political life is ultimately unsustainable: there is enough evidence to indicate that some politicians – and some of their supporters – shared judgements about the world as it was and as it should be and acted with the aim of achieving or preventing social and political change. To ignore this evidence is ultimately to buy into the elite, or at least the Ciceronian, version of the ideal community.12 Underpinning this collection of chapters is the hypothesis that Roman politics operated in the ways that it did because of its institutional framework in combination with the beliefs and aspirations that framed political debate. Moreover, these are not separable constraints. It is not that politicians and voters reached decisions about what to do, driven by how they wanted their community to be, and only then implemented these decisions 9 10

11

Meier 1980; Hölkeskamp 2010; Jehne 2000, 2013a, 2013b. Münzer 1920; Taylor 1949; Meier 1980: 182–200. The Latin word factio has a wide range of meanings, from ‘social connections’ (OLD s.v. factio no. 2) via ‘group’ and ‘school’ (OLD no. 3) to ‘political party’ (OLD no. 4a), but in this last sense it is generally used with negative connotations (implying that Romans did not speak proudly of the factio to which they considered themselves to belong), and the meaning slides into the more abstract ‘oligarchy’ (TLL s.v. factio: 137.12–22), as well as ‘adherence to a faction’ and ‘partisanship’ (OLD s.v. factio no. 4b); see further Seager 1972a. Morstein-Marx 2004: 12, 206–7, 279–87. 12 Wiseman 2009: 5–32.

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within an institutional framework that dictated certain forms of activity and prevented others. Rather, the ideological and institutional are entirely enmeshed. The most striking proof of this phenomenon is the office of tribune of the plebs. Although the actual foundation of this office is impossible to trace securely, the foundation myths which the Romans told about it indicate that its fundamental purpose was to promote the interests of one group of citizens, the plebeians, at the expense of the patrician minority.13 It is evident even from the heavily biased treatments that Cicero offers that there was a distinctive and identifiable kind of politics which promoted the interests of the plebeians and which was largely carried out by tribunes of the plebs, supported by the institutional features of the position, such as its legislative capacity and the veto: adherence to this kind of politics is what the term popularis describes, even if Cicero himself attempted to appropriate the term for rather different ends.14 Political actors who wished to promote popularis interests did not have the benefit of an organisation devoted to that end or any agreed statement of what popularis interests might be, but they did have a basic rallying cry on behalf of the Roman people as a whole, as opposed to those of small interest groups, as well as a set of tactics and techniques, a pantheon of heroes, organisational means to promote their aims and perhaps even a group of texts.15 The task is not simply to adjudicate the importance of different motivating factors. It is easy enough to evidence instances of all the factors so far noted playing a part in explaining the outcome of events: there are patterns in electoral success which strongly suggest that an incumbent consul could influence voting in favour of his brothers or cousins;16 there were pacts between men to create electoral blocs and benefit from combined tranches of votes;17 bribery undoubtedly affected some elections;18 and legislative programmes which benefitted the whole people were passed despite the 13 14

15

16 17

18

On the tribunate, see Russell 2013, 2015; Badian 1996; Steel 2010; and Tatum 1999. Cic. Leg. Agr. 1.23–5, 2.6 (where Cicero speaks of himself as popularis consul); Sest. 106–27. See Tracy 2008–9. On the fundamental popularis position, see Meier RE Suppl. X, s.v. populares; Mackie 1992; Ferrary 1997a = 2017; Hölkeskamp 1997; Robb 2010. Popularis techniques centred on tribunicial legislation promoting redistribution of resources (whether land or food) and scrutiny of senatorial decisionmaking and was often associated with a certain type of public oratory (David 1983; Kondratieff 2003, 2012; Morstein-Marx 2004; van der Blom 2016). On the popularis history of Rome, see Wiseman 2009: 5–32; on collegia, see e.g. Liu 2013, esp. 352–54. Hopkins and Burton 1983; Beck 2005; Hinard 1990; Münzer 1920. For example, Catiline and Antonius Hybrida in 64 bc; the Marcelli brothers for the consulships of 51, 50 and 49 bc; Pompey, Caesar and Crassus in 60–50 bc. See Lintott 1990.

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Introduction

5

ferocious opposition of the Senate.19 The identification of relevant factors that explain particular events is a vital first step in analysing this political system. But the more challenging question is to analyse the interplay of these factors and to do so not simply in terms of their discrete contribution to episodes but also as ways of operating within Roman political space that affected each other at the level of technique, method and principle. An example is the nature of the political year. Roman politics had a relentless annual cycle.20 The end of each political year saw a near-total renewal of the executive, in which almost all magistrates demitted office and were replaced by new post-holders who had never held that position before.21 This annual renewal of the executive arguably promoted shorter rather than longer perspectives. It certainly contributed to a very distinct annual pattern of activity, particularly around tribunician legislation. The practical point that office-holders had very little time to distinguish themselves during their tenure, as a result of the institutional framework of office-holding, thus also had important consequences for politicians’ mind-sets.22 In following this line of enquiry it is vital to frame the definition of institutions in the Republic in a manner that is both precise and flexible. Political life took place within a framework of rules and conventions that, in the normal course of events, ensured the smooth transaction of business, and most aspects of social and family life were ordered by a wider web of the same type of rules, idealised as the mos maiorum (the ‘customs of the ancestors’).23 Yet innovation was frequent. In part the unsystematic nature of the constitution opened up disputed spaces with different and potentially conflicting sources of authority to which agents could appeal. So, for example, were the rules surrounding the tribunate, particularly those relating to the sacrosanctity of the tribune’s body, dominant, or could they be trumped by the fundamental fact that a tribune’s authority derived from his embodiment of the popular will? This was the issue that Tiberius 19 21

22

23

See Morstein-Marx 2013. 20 Steel 2015. The exceptions are the censors, who, every five years, held office for eighteen months. Imperium holders could have their imperium prorogued into a second and potentially subsequent years, but this phenomenon took place only outside Rome (until the anomalous case of Pompeius in the 50s bc, who held imperium which he exercised through legates while himself remaining on the outskirts of Rome). For the tribunate, see Russell 2013, 2015. The implications of this in terms of the administrative structures which supported the Republic remain to be explored, but a starting point would be to think along the lines of Pina Polo 2011a (on the consulship), Brennan 2000 (on the praetorship) and Ryan 1998. Blösel 2000; Walter 2003; Pina Polo 2004; van der Blom 2010: 12–17.

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Gracchus forced into the open when he oversaw the deposition from office of his colleague Octavius; on that occasion, tribunician sacrosanctity was overborne by popular vote. Yet the assembly in 133 bc which had established that order of priority through its decision to depose Octavius did not settle the question once and for all: tribunes continued to come into conflict with each other and with other magistrates, and there was no consistent pattern to whether their physical inviolability carried the day or not.24 Behind such conflicts lay the idea of the popular will and its very concrete expression in assemblies and votes. The ultimate sovereignty of the people within the res publica meant that what was unprecedented could be made legitimate through a vote and its implementation, yet the gap which could be posited between a particular instance of the popular will at a single assembly and the putative will of the whole citizen body proved fertile territory for struggles over legitimacy.25 As a result of this institutional framework the possibility of conflict was always present and became itself a possible source of stability within the system. So, for example, the powers of the tribunate of the plebs were quickly restored in the decade after Sulla’s dictatorship, with the apparent support of the ruling elite: institutionally determined parameters for the articulation of the popular will were preferable to the alternative. The question to be posed is thus not simply one of conflict versus cooperation, whether over programmes or over political prizes, but whether a particular instance of conflict operated within an accepted framework that offered the possibility of an orderly resolution. The chapters in this volume had their origins in a conference held in London in April 2014 as part of the European Research Council–funded project, ‘The Fragments of Republican Roman Oratory’. Although the conference did not focus exclusively on oratory, the project’s focus shaped the framing of the conference’s research questions and emphasised the interaction between argument, politician and audience as a topic for exploration. An important starting-point was the nature of the relationship between particular institutions and the kinds of arguments which sup24

25

Conflicts between tribunes in the 60s bc (which may have been historically informed): in 67, the tribunes P. Servilius Globulus and Trebellius Rufus vetoed the actions of their fellow-tribunes C. Cornelius (Asc. 58C) and Aulus Gabinius (Asc. 72C), respectively, as discussed in Griffin 1973; Pompey has a consul thrown into prison in 60 bc (Dio Cass. 37.50.1–4), and in 59 bc, the consul Bibulus was threatened by a tribune of the plebs with the same fate (Dio Cass. 38.6.6). See Steel 2010. This gap is what, in essence, underlies Cicero’s entire argumentative position following his return from exile: see especially Cic. Sest. 106–27, with Kaster 2006: 32–4, 330–59; cf. Morstein-Marx 2004: 120, with further bibliography.

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Introduction

7

ported action within a particular institutional framework. This is not simply an unnecessarily complicated way of talking about rhetorical genre – though different audiences clearly did frame the language and expectations of different kinds of speech. Rather, it is a way to put the categories of deliberative oratory, that is, the honourable and the advantageous, into dialogue with the other forms of pressure that directed decisions, whether the obligations of personal reciprocity, friendship and family, the material gains (individual or collective) that could attend certain courses of action or the supernatural demands of the pantheon of Roman deities. Not all of these pressures were governed or dictated by legal regulations, and strict boundaries cannot be demarcated between the rules enshrined in public or private law, the precepts of religion and other social and cultural sets of conventions and expectations. But it was possible for politicians to appeal to fixed points that could be presented as unalterable and indeed to an understanding of the public sphere as stable and predictable, even though in practice that apparent fixity was both the object of debate and the subject of regular and often substantial change. Part I of this volume sets out the relationship between institutional framework and ideological position by exploring the nature of political communication in its broadest sense. Yakobson begins with the contio, the most fluid and multipurpose location for organised political activity in the Republic and one inextricably linked with the tribunate of the plebs and its institutionally disruptive potential. He concentrates on elite engagement with the people at the contio and particularly on the occasions when the most powerful and distinguished members of the Senate, men who were not sympathetic to popularis views, had to use the contio to create a positive and effective relationship with the Roman people. He argues that the contio was always a place of danger, threatening the dignity of those who spoke to it, despite its capacity to generate consensus. Roman political life involved relentless competition between politicians: even if, on most occasions, this was resolved into overall harmony across the res publica, it was so in ways that constantly left open the possibility of conflict. Tiersch approaches this question from the opposite direction: starting with ideological positions, she subjects the terms optimates and populares to close analysis as an example of a ‘semantic battle’. Her analysis not only demonstrates the techniques used by conservative, elite orators to exclude other views but also shows how the synergy between speech and its location within institutional frameworks proved ultimately unsuccessful in promoting elite interests because it was unable to articulate a persuasive alternative to popularis claims. Rosillo-López focuses on how men were recognised as politicians at

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Rome by those who were not themselves politically active. She reveals the ways in which politicians created identities in the absence of an identity framed by a political party and emphasises the complexity of political life at Rome, with over forty new magistrates each year. As a result, cases of misrecognition should not be taken as indices of political apathy among the citizen body: most senior figures do seem to have had a high degree of public visibility, assisted by the dramatic visual appearance of Roman magistrates as they moved through Rome. Thus, they would have been able to inspire hopes and expectations among the general populace, and this had consequences for citizens’ behaviour in contiones and elections. Finally in this part, Clark explores the intersection between political communication and Rome’s understanding of its relationship with the gods. Here Cicero’s oratory takes a central place, as the only body of evidence where we can trace the articulation of the gods’ place in complete form, though Clark rightly underscores the extent to which fragmentary oratory echoes the Ciceronian picture. The gods are a common resource, entirely at home in the sphere of political communication, and speakers can speak of and for the gods in pursuit of even quite small and apparently local concerns. In Part II, the focus shifts to the phenomenon of the political alliance. Political alliances cannot exactly be considered as a form of institution: indeed, their transitional and informal nature is a central factor that illustrates the ways in which the union of forces between Antonius, Octavian and Lepidus in 43 bc, authorised by a popular vote that conferred an official position on these men, was a new development. But it is also clear that long before the formation of the Second Triumvirate, Roman politicians were articulating, reflecting on and operating in accordance with certain conventions and expectations surrounding amicitia, which were nonetheless consonant with considerable variation in terms of the ideological motives of such groupings. Some alliances had a focus on the personal advantage of their members, particularly in terms of elections and beneficial senatorial decisions; others could involve a focus on achieving particular legislative ends or even the implementation of broad programmes of reform. As Pina Polo demonstrates, we can see this range of practice very clearly at the contio, whose format encouraged cooperation (as a contio could only be summoned by a magistrate, which meant that nonmagistrates could only perform at contiones if a friendly – or hostile – magistrate invited them to do so) and could also provide a public stage to demonstrate the existence of cooperation or, as potently, the ending of conflict. The three subsequent chapters in this section offer a series of case

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Introduction

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studies of the alliances contracted by three of the leading figures at the very end of the Republic: Pompeius, Caesar and Cato. Santangelo focuses on the relationship between Pompeius and Theophanes of Mytilene. Santangelo argues that despite Theophanes’ intellectual achievements, his significance for Pompeius was as much political as cultural, as a confidential agent who could move easily and discreetly among a wide circle of influential Romans. His prominence depended in part on his distinguished position within Mytilene and is difficult to parallel beyond Balbus, who played a similar role for Caesar. Valachova’s study of alliances among Epicureans, by contrast, concentrates on members of the Roman elite, arguing that we can identify a cluster of Epicureans among Caesar’s close associates. While there is no evidence that Caesar himself professed Epicureanism, Valachova argues that the philosophical beliefs which these other men shared promoted a view of friendship that suited Caesar’s careful use of warm personal friendship, and loyalty, in his political actions, as well as enabling them to support each other effectively. Morrell’s study looks at the younger Cato: his use of close personal associates to promote coherent political action is well known and distinctive, but Morrell argues that its operation in the crunch year of 52 bc has been misunderstood. Cato and Pompeius managed to bridge their suspicion of each other in the early part of the year through the crisis set off by the murder of Clodius: a shared commitment to ensuring the peace of the res publica overcame previous disagreements. These various alliances involve relationships between social and political equals alongside those between men who were not equals, such as Pompeius and Theophanes. This latter case can be seen as an example of patronage, yet, as Santangelo’s contribution shows, we cannot by the end of the Republic draw clear distinctions between friendship and patronage in terms of different spheres of activity in which the relationship could be deployed. Part III turns towards specific institutions and institutional practices: the auspices, the censorial lectio senatus, elections, assemblies and a magistrate’s advisory body. A common theme throughout is the contrast between what is often presented as a rule-driven system and considerable flexibility in practice. Driediger-Murphy’s study of the ominous events which were said to have accompanied Crassus’ departure from Rome in 55 bc explores how the participants – Crassus himself, the obnuntiating tribune Capito and Capito’s later prosecutor, Appius Pulcher – invoked tradition while innovating in terms of practice and tactics. Clemente’s chapter elucidates the history of the censor’s selection of members of the Senate: he shows how this practice, though apparently embedded in the res

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publica, was itself a radical change at the time of its introduction in the late fourth century and one whose consequences included the legitimation of the emerging patricio-plebeian nobility. Haimson Lushkov’s chapter explores how Cicero packaged the institution of the election at Murena’s trial for electoral bribery: she argues that Cicero attempted to simplify and replay the electoral choice by setting up a distinct binary contrast between Murena, the soldier, and his defeated rival, Sulpicius, as an obscurantist lawyer. Frolov offers a detailed exploration of the words contio and coetus: he emphasises that despite apparent similarity of meaning, their use shows a keen alertness to the institutional difference between a meeting of citizens legitimately summoned by a magistrate and other kinds of gathering. The distinction is not always one of fact – contiones can be described as coetus – but can also reflect authorial attitude and serves to identify forms of political action whose legitimacy is to be questioned. Finally, Flower looks at the consilium as a magistrate’s advisory body: in a detailed study of two specific meetings of a consilium in 44 and 43 bc, recorded in detail in letters from Cicero to Atticus and to Brutus, she considers the ways in which a consilium, despite being private, possessed formal features, including the use of set-piece speeches. She suggests that one frame in which to understand such gatherings is that of the Senate, itself a consilium, and that the public experience of senators might – unsurprisingly – have influenced the format in which they considered, albeit in a private and invitation-only context, their public duties. Part IV returns to the broader set of concerns around political culture and political communication, but here with a focus on the ways in which individual politicians attempted to secure a particular reputation which they could then transmit to posterity in order to become part of Rome’s historical record. Jewell explores this phenomenon in the context of families: how did men from prominent political families use and engage with the existing reputations of their relatives, usually, though not invariably, within their gens? Using evidence from fragmentary oratory, he argues that family exempla were frequently imbued with significant content: what mattered was not merely to recall one family’s distinguished history but to identify a distinctive aspect of the public service of one’s family in order to suggest that the speaker could replicate that kind of service if offered the support of his listeners. Family history within Roman oratory and, by extension, public life more generally thus involved constant simplification in order to preserve memorable and consistent family traits. The final two chapters look at the reputational struggles of two individuals: the dictator Sulla and one of his followers, Gaius Verres. Eckert explores the novelty of

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Introduction

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Sulla’s self-presentation in terms of his felicitas but also demonstrates how Sulla’s reputation itself became an object of imitation by Caesar and a yardstick for evaluating the behaviour of political leaders well into the Imperial period. Sulla remained an ambiguous figure; Verres, by contrast, emphatically lost the reputational battle, relentlessly pilloried by Cicero at his trial for extortion. But, as Stone observes, Verres could be defended – and was, by Hortensius; we can trace the outlines of Verres’ positive reputation even in Cicero’s attack, and Verres’ downfall reflected immediate political concerns in Rome to a much greater extent that it did any consistent Roman policy concerning provincial government. The chapters in this volume are unified by two recurrent arguments. The first is that there was a constant tension around Roman political institutions between the format they happened to have at a particular moment and the ever-present possibility of innovation in that format. In this respect, as in others, Roman politics was balanced between complex rules that negotiated gradations of power and status and the potency of public performance and audience consent: action was in theory authorised by its having happened previously in a particular way but in practice by the willingness of participants to accept that things could happen that way, whether they had or not done so in the past. No-one had claimed to be essentially and permanently felix in the way that Sulla did, but once he had made this claim and his audience had accepted it, felicitas became an entry in the political lexicon and a quality to which others might aspire. Verres could claim to be an effective governor and military commander: his audience, the jury trying him, appeared not to be convinced. And some of the most striking and memorable political occasions happened precisely when those involved resisted the existing conventions governing performance and, through their actions and the subsequent assent of their audience, created new ones. The second argument of this volume concerns complexity: the complexity of institutions and the resulting complexity of public life, with enormous numbers of magistrates and ex-magistrates, competing venues for action and numerous ways to claim authority. If the ideological life of the Roman Republic appears to suffer an almost irresistible pull towards the binary of the people versus the Senate, of populares ranged against conservatives, its institutional manifestation points instead towards endless permutations of individuals, actions and methods. This complexity needs always to be considered in attempting to understand the Republic: integral to how politics operated, it makes simple and universal claims about the nature of public life at Rome highly suspect.

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part i

Modes of Political Communication

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chapter 1

Aristocratic Dignity and Indignity in Republican Public Life Alexander Yakobson

The public, open-air aspect of Republican politics has been much discussed in recent years. Most discussions emphasise the role of the Republic’s spectacles, ceremonies and rituals in strengthening the authority and prestige of the senatorial elite and their hold over the wider public. These ‘spectacles’ prominently include the contiones at which members of the elite addressed the populace. The nobiles, in particular, are said to have benefitted from the many opportunities for ostentation, for selfglorification and for reminding the people of the glorious deeds of their ancestors that the theatre of Republican public life provided. Much of the current discussion on these matters was sparked by Fergus Millar’s emphasis on the fact that Republican politics had to be conducted in public, ‘under the gaze of the populus Romanus’.1 The conclusion often reached, however, is the opposite of Millar’s view of this publicity as forming part of the powerful democratic aspect he would attribute to the Republican political system. Not only is it stressed that ‘the fact that political proceedings are public does not in itself make them “democratic”’,2 but this Republican ‘publicity’ is described as a bulwark of Rome’s aristocratic political culture.3 The focus of much of the current scholarship on the Republic’s political culture is perhaps connected to a growing acceptance that the power of the ruling class as a whole, and that of individual ‘oligarchs’, heavily depended on securing public support. The system, however ‘oligarchic’ one judges it to have been in the final analysis, clearly relied on the ‘consent of the governed’ – not merely on their passive acquiescence but, on repeated occasions, on their votes. In fact, the people’s suffrage has always been recognised as an essential part of the system, even under the 1 3

Millar 2002a: 6. 2 Mouritsen 2001: 46. E.g. Hölkeskamp 2010: 103 and passim; Jehne 2006a: 20–3 (with references to other scholars); Flaig 2004.

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most ‘oligarchic’ interpretations.4 In the past, however, it was quite often assumed, explicitly or implicitly, that this suffrage was largely held captive by the oligarchy: through the working of networks of patronage, through sheer intimidation or in some other way consistent with a ‘frozen waste’ concept of the people’s place in the political system.5 Now, however, attention is more focused on the fact that the people could neither be simply ignored nor have their votes ‘commandeered’ from above in some crude way. The system had to somehow make the people want to vote in a way favourable to it, and individual politicians had to make the people want to vote specifically for them. It may be suggested that there was a fundamental tension between these two requirements – the collective and the individual – although in another sense they were naturally complementary. The fierce competition for the people’s votes generated by politicians’ conflicting individual needs could not fail to undermine – to a larger or smaller degree, in different periods – the kind of cohesion and cooperation within the ranks of the elite that was required in order to foster an attitude of unconditional popular deference to the elite as a whole. On the other hand, the collective prestige of the elite, cultivated by the system in various ways, also inevitably empowered – in the eyes of the public – those individual politicians who ‘broke ranks’ and courted the people’s favour through what their fellow ‘oligarchs’ regarded as demagoguery. The senatorial elite, based as they were on the hierarchy of elected office, enjoyed a double legitimacy: both elitist and popular. This combination was a source of great power, but it also imposed a limit on this power, since it made ‘oligarchs’ dependent on popularity for the very definition of their status. The popular aspect of Republican politics, with its spectacles and rituals, can indeed be regarded as serving, in the final analysis, the system and hence the elite by enhancing the elite’s legitimacy. But the other side of the coin is that the aristocratic aspect of politics also empowered the people’s friends, populists and demagogues. These, if they were not blueblooded aristocrats like the Gracchi brothers (and most other famous populares), were at any rate elected officials of the Roman people (mostly tribunes). As such, they had an undisputed claim to the people’s respect and enjoyed a presumption of competence in discussing public affairs. Elite competition made sure that such figures would emerge from time to time. 4

See e.g. Syme 1939: 13.

5

North 1990a: 7.

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Now it may be that virtual, conceptual ‘coins’ can, unlike real-life ones, have one side that is larger than the other. After all, the Republican political system, in its various versions, lasted for hundreds of years, and mostly with a remarkable degree of internal peace. It is natural to assume that this longevity and the stability of the system, quite exceptional by any comparative historical standard, were in large measure due to the people’s acquiescence to the rule of the ruling (office-holding) class. But the very character of the system cannot be perceived and evaluated without bearing in mind that this acquiescence could not simply be commandeered: great efforts had to be made, collectively and individually, in order to obtain and preserve it. All in all, from the viewpoint of the elite, the aim of making the people want to vote in the right way (or at least in a way that did not endanger the system) was obviously achieved in a great majority of cases; otherwise, the system simply could not have functioned. However, it is important to bear in mind that this aim was not invariably achieved as regards the collective interests of the elite and that it regularly failed to be achieved with respect to the interests and ambitions of individual politicians.6 This failure was inevitable because of the competitive nature of the Republican elite; it occurred, above all (but not solely), in the context of elections, where one man’s victory inevitably meant another man’s (often, several men’s) defeat. Of course, ‘the people’ is a far from straightforward – much less straightforwardly ‘democratic’ – term in a Roman Republican context. It might mean different things in different places, but it certainly does not denote anything like a universal and equal (male) suffrage. As Roman citizenship spread throughout Italy, in practice only a decreasing minority of Roman citizens could realise their right to vote. This fact may well be regarded as sufficient reason to refrain from labelling the whole system ‘democratic’ (even if this term is qualified),7 but, in my view, it does not mean that the system cannot properly be said to have had a significant democratic (or better, popular) aspect – always bearing in mind that we are talking about a city-state in which the popular aspect of the political system could not readily transcend city-state limits, in contrast to the everincreasing dimensions of the polity itself. At any rate, ‘the people’ certainly meant something much wider and much less ‘elitist’ than the ruling (officeholding) class. From the viewpoint of the senators, and especially nobiles, 6

7

See Morstein-Marx 2013: 32–47 on the relative frequency of legislation passed despite strong senatorial opposition in the last century of the Republic (with a list of known cases) and the significance of this phenomenon. Jehne 2006a: 23.

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the popular aspect of Republican politics was popular enough – sometimes much too popular for comfort. They must often have felt that they had to stoop very low when they faced ‘the people’ and were obliged to ask – sometimes even beg – for their support. Evidently, this applies not only to candidates during their petitio but even more to those who faced a popular trial and had to entreat the people for the preservation, rather than merely the enhancement of, their dignity, or even for sheer safety.8 As we shall see, however, sometimes a mere contio – where no fateful decisions could be taken – might occasion a serious affront to aristocratic dignity. A political system has a popular aspect that is genuine enough when it regularly forces the great and the good to court what to them is ‘the ignorant mob’ (as the populace is regularly characterised), even if the mob represents only a small minority of citizens. This is even more pronounced if the elite sometimes have reason to fear this mob or fear losing face before it. And a Roman crowd by no means had to consist of the poorest of the poor in order for haughty ‘oligarchs’ to regard it, in all sincerity, as an ignorant mob. Cicero speaks of ‘the wretched starveling rabble that comes to contiones and sucks the treasury dry’ (Att. 16.11). This elitist sneer does not, of course, have to be taken at face value, but it is very unlikely that ‘the Forum’, at any period of Republican history, could have ‘belonged to the world of the elite rather than the populace in general’.9 It seems clear that there was an ‘enormous social divide between the [senators] and the audience at the Rostra’.10 For members of the elite, therefore, alongside the prestige-enhancing features of facing the people, rightly emphasised in current scholarship, there were also potentially problematic and even demeaning aspects. The ‘elite-friendly’ impact of the Republic’s spectacles and rituals is at the centre of current discussions of Roman political culture. The senatorial 8

9

10

See e.g. Cic. De or. 1.228; Brut. 89–90: the notorious case of Servius Galba escaping a conviction by weeping, displaying his children and making pitiful appeals to the people’s mercy. Galba was criticised for exceeding the normal bounds of aristocratic humility on such occasions. But cf. De or. 2.195–6: much senatorial weeping in court, before the spectators, apparently without any suggestion of impropriety. Mouritsen 2001: 45. According to Mouritsen’s reconstruction, this conclusion does not fully apply to the Late Republican period, when ‘this cosy arrangement [of elite control of popular assemblies] broke down [probably as] a consequence of members of the lower classes now turning up for assemblies they had not previously attended. That happened at the initiative of magistrates who sought popular support to press through legislation against the opposition of the senate and the upper classes’ (79). I agree with Jehne’s objections to Mouritsen’s thesis on the composition of contiones and his conclusion that ‘the plebs contionalis did exist and . . . there is no reason to suppose that it consisted above all of upper class people. The social background of the contionales seems to have been modest’ (Jehne 2006b: 234). Cf. Morstein-Marx 2004: 42, 122–3. Tan 2008: 187; cf. 172–80 on the composition of contiones, including the likely participation of the unemployed and the underemployed (173).

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elite’s ‘collective claim to leadership and guidance, to rank, authority and prestige’, and, as a logical corollary, its ‘permanent demand of strict obedience, docility, and discipline, deference and respect on the part of the populus’,11 were solemnly reaffirmed and ritually re-enacted on all the numerous official occasions when the elite faced the people. This was achieved with the help of such well-known Roman devices as the pomp and circumstance surrounding the magistrates (especially the higher ones), as well as the virtual monopoly of the elite over the right to address (literally from above) the general public and over the conduct of every public proceeding, run according to strict and ceremoniously emphasised hierarchical rules. According to Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp, ‘the ingrained “publicity” of politics, the perpetual presence and conspicuous visibility, “audibility” and activity of members of the political class in public’ were part of the ‘hierarchical communication’ characteristic of Rome’s ‘aristocratic political culture’, whose desired – and, in general, achieved – effect was ‘integration-cum-hierarchization’ of the common people.12 And yet this also has a flip side, one that should not be ignored. Any system in which people pursue honour and dignity on a ferociously competitive personal basis is apt to produce not just disappointment but also a sense of injured dignity in the losers, perhaps doubly so when the prizes of the competition and the verdicts of defeat are pronounced not according to the judgement of one’s peers but of one’s inferiors. Canvassing for the votes of one’s inferiors under the basic rules of Republican petitio might itself be felt to be demeaning;13 failing to obtain those votes certainly often was. The wide social gap between elite (especially noble) candidates and the common people was not just an asset for these candidates in a traditional and hierarchical society; it made a repulsa (in the nature of things, a routine fact of political life) doubly humiliating.14 Those pursuing a senatorial career were not just amassing prestige and popularity, something for which ample opportunities were indeed provided by the system. They also had to take great care to avoid unpopularity and loss of dignity. For an aristocrat, failure to reach the honours of his ancestors – in some measure failure to reach these in a timely fashion – and certainly having these wrested away, 11 13

14

Hölkeskamp 2010: 89. 12 Hölkeskamp 2010: 103, 77. See e.g. Cic. De or. 2.248; Planc. 11–12, 24, 50; [Q. Cic.] Pet. 42; cf. Cic. Att. 1.1.1 (SB 10). According to Tacitus, the abolition of popular elections by Tiberius was welcomed by senators who were ‘released from the necessity of bribery and of degrading solicitations’ (Ann. 1.15). Caes. B Civ. 1.4.1 (dolor repulsae); Val. Max. 7.5. pr., 7.5.4; Cic. Planc. 9, 51. ‘Repulsae . . . made it plain that the People had a choice that was real enough, which is why candidates had to beg for their honours, a demeaning exchange as repellent to aristocratic sensibilities as it was vital for electoral success’ (Tatum 2013: 133).

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even temporarily, by an unworthy competitor, were all keenly felt humiliations. And a Roman aristocrat certainly found it easy to conclude that his (successful) competitor was unequal and thus unworthy; this was by no means confined to the relatively rare (and hence more humiliating) eventuality of being defeated by a man without senatorial ancestors. Aristocratic arrogance and exclusiveness, and the norms and expectations of an aristocratic political culture, made the well-born participant that much more likely to suffer humiliation. As for the theatre of public spectacles (including the contiones), its repertoire was not invariably didactic from the ‘oligarchic’ point of view. For individual ‘oligarchs’, appearing on its stage presented pitfalls alongside opportunities. Rather than being enhanced, one’s dignity might sometimes emerge impaired from a public encounter with the populace and (as often happened) one’s opponents and rivals, sometimes one’s inferiors in rank and dignity. When an aristocrat’s dignity was thus impaired, this happened in broad daylight, for the ignorant mob to enjoy; this naturally applied also to cases where the opponent was ‘worthy’. An unsuccessful public encounter was not just an embarrassing experience; it might also cause serious damage to one’s standing and future career. Generally, in a culture obsessed with honour and dignity, the prospect of dishonour and indignity had to be constantly borne in mind. The specific points raised here are well known, as is the general point that competitive pursuit of honour necessarily entails avoidance (not always successful) of disgrace.15 The question is, what weight should be attached, alongside the often-emphasised dignity-enhancing, hierarchyreaffirming and deference-fostering aspects of Republican public life, to those aspects that were negative or problematic from the viewpoint of the elite? How did these aspects affect the entire relationship between the elite and the common people? I would argue that the character of the relations between the elite and the populace, and the fundamental balance of power between them, cannot fully be appreciated without giving proper weight to the fact that for every individual member of the elite, the wider public was not merely a source of the honours he coveted but also a potential source of indignity and loss of face. This was true even though the political system served as a powerful mechanism for generating honour and dignity for the ruling class as a whole, in part precisely because the Roman people’s ability 15

Cf. Hölkeskamp 2010: 50: ‘the extraordinary effectiveness and disciplinary potency that were inherent in the conceptions and standards of prestige, status and honor (but also of the fear of losing it and resulting “shame”)’.

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to inflict indignity on individual politicians confirmed to them that they were indeed free and thus had a stake in preserving the system. What follows is a close look at one scene of Republican public life and a discussion of its implications. It reflects a challenging and sometimes demeaning aspect of Republican public life from the viewpoint of members of the senatorial elite. In Brut. 216–17, Cicero relates a rather vulgar joke made by a tribune of the plebs at the expense of the consuls of 76 bc, summoned by this tribune to a contio. The context is Cicero’s characterisation of Gaius Scribonius Curio, one of these consuls, as a poor orator: ‘so poor as to excite the laughter and the ridicule of his hearers’. He had a way of ‘swaying and reeling his whole body from side to side’, which occasioned the jest of Gnaeus Sicinius: homo impurus sed admodum ridiculus . . . is cum tribunus plebis Curionem et Octauium consules produxisset Curioque multa dixisset sedente Cn. Octauio conlega, qui deuinctus erat fasciis et multis medicamentis propter dolorem artuum delibutus, ‘numquam’, inquit, ‘Octaui, conlegae tuo gratiam referes; qui nisi se suo more iactauisset, hodie te istic muscae comedissent.’16 (Cic. Brut. 216–17)

Cicero does not explain the political context, but according to Sallust’s Histories,17 this was probably part of the agitation, started by Sicinius, for the restoration of the tribunes’ powers. We are in 76 bc, the heyday of the oligarchy under ‘Sulla’s constitution’ and the lowest point for the tribunate emasculated by the dictator – the year before the right of ex-tribunes to be elected to other offices was restored. The tribunate is still a dead end, to be avoided by men of ambition. Gnaeus Sicinius – a mere nobody compared to the consuls – is facing the two consuls of the year: Octavius, who is a nobilis, and Curio, who hails from a distinguished praetorian family.18 In fact, Sicinius is not a nobody, as we shall see, but what matters is that he is surely a nobody in the consuls’ eyes, a junior magistrate without prospects of advancement and definitely not a worthy opponent (i.e. not a fellow ‘oligarch’). He is 16

17

18

‘A very vulgar sort of man [homo impurus], but exceedingly humorous . . . When as tribune of the plebs he had summoned Curio and Octavius, who were then consuls [to a contio], and Curio had spoken at great length, while Octavius sat by, swathed in bandages and reeking of medical salves for his gout, Sicinius said, turning to Octavius: “You can never thank your colleague enough, Octavius; for if he had not thrashed about in his usual way, the flies would surely have eaten you alive here today.”’ Cf. Quint. Inst. 11.3.129. Sall. Hist. 3 F48.8–10M. Sicinius is designated as a Lucius rather than Gnaeus. Cf. [Asc.] Div. Caec. p. 189.7St. On Sicinius, see also Plut. Crass. 7.9. See Cic. Brut. 124 on the ‘splendour’ of his father; Cicero is surprised that he never reached the consulship.

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powerless against them – certainly not to be compared to any of the powerful, ‘real’ tribunes who had faced consuls in the past, nor to those who would soon face the consuls again with the powers of their office restored. All Sicinius can do is summon them to a contio, over which he is still allowed to preside, and make them a laughing stock in front of the crowd. But this is actually ‘a big deal’ in most cultures and certainly in the Roman Republic. In a society obsessed with honour, deference, rank and seniority, this scene looks like an almost Saturnalian inversion of the usual hierarchy of power and honour. But there is nothing revolutionary, or even particularly significant and remarkable, about this scene. Everything is strictly in accordance with the rules, played under their most aristocratic version. Being a Roman consul included the prospect of being subjected, in public, to something like this.19 Perhaps the Prime Minister’s Questions in the British House of Commons may provide an analogy (although, of course, Members of Parliament are not at all to be compared to an unruly crowd in the Forum). But there is one difference: in Rome, ‘the honourable gentleman opposite’ was actually the presiding officer. It is a fundamental and often emphasised feature of the Roman contio that it had to be summoned by a magistrate (including tribunes of the plebs), who would then preside and maintain tight control over the proceedings. As an institution, the contio was thus under the strong influence of the Roman elite, quite unlike the popular assemblies of democratic Athens. But we should bear in mind that the term ‘elite’, in this context, includes such people as Sicinius, with a wide gap between him and the consuls at whose expense he entertained the public. In fact, the elite included people of considerably more humble birth. Sicinius actually belonged to an old and (to his supporters, but surely not to his Sullan opponents) distinguished family. Though he ‘could claim (as far as our evidence goes) only a distant praetorian ancestor in the early second century’, after whom ‘the family . . . vanished into obscurity’,20 this 19

20

See Morstein-Marx 2004: 164–72 on presiding magistrates, often tribunes, ‘producing’ their political opponents (including consuls and consulars) in a contio and subjecting them to hostile questioning, often before a loudly hostile audience. See also Pina Polo 1996: 48–52 and in this volume (Chapter 5) on being summoned to a contio and attendant pressures. A contio presided over by a tribune is described as ‘a place where the leaders of the state often lost their composure’ (Val. Max. 3.8.6: ubi principum ciuitatis perturbari fons solebat). In the Late Republic, violence and intimidation increasingly came into play, but what chiefly concerns us here is the potential for public embarrassment and loss of face, which members of the Republican ruling class had to reckon with at all times. Gruen 1995: 74, 184. For a C. Sicinius, quaestor c. 70 bc, see Cic. Brut. 263.

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ancestor was distinguished enough to have won two praetorships (183 and 172 bc), and a Sicinius (described as seditionis auctor) appears in Livy’s account as one of the first tribunes elected following the first secession of the plebs (Livy 2.33.2). His origins were thus distinguished enough in the eyes of the public to lend authority to his attacks on the Sullan status quo, but they will not have made him an opponent of equal worth from the viewpoint of the consuls. But a tribune might be far worse than this. Aulus Gabinius, who carried the first ballot law in 139 bc, which established secret voting in elections, is said to have been the grandson of a freedman; an evidently hostile tradition dubs him the ‘grandson of a slave’ (uerna[e nepos]: Livy epit. Oxyrh. col. 8.193), which is surely how he was regarded by the real Roman aristocrats and ‘oligarchs’. In Cic. Leg. 3.33 he is described as a man ‘unknown and of a low ‘degree’ (ab homine ignoto et sordido). The speaker is Quintus Cicero; his perspective is strongly optimate but not, naturally, that of a nobilis. Gabinius’ origins were ‘sordid’ from the viewpoint of a homo nouus from a good equestrian municipal family.21 And in some – admittedly, exceptional – cases we even hear of sons of freedmen.22 Of course, sons or grandsons of freedmen might well be quite wealthy men – an ‘elite’ indeed in the sense that they were much wealthier than the mass of the populace – though to their aristocratic opponents they must have looked decidedly ‘un-elitist’. Such people, and more generally people without senatorial ancestors, had no inherited authority. Nevertheless, once elected, they enjoyed the authority, both formal and informal (constantly cultivated by the prevailing political culture), conferred by elected office. In this situation, the tight procedural control exercised by the Roman elite over the contio meant, in practice, that a ‘turbulent’ tribune of the plebs (with or without distinguished ancestry) was in an excellent position to launch an effective public attack on a consul. Indeed, he was in a much 21

22

Cf. Sall. Hist. 4 F43M: M. Lollius Palicanus, humili loco Picens: a tribune (later praetor, prevented from reaching the consulship) characterised as low born by Sallust. For some Late Republican examples, see Mouritsen 2011: 272. Ap. Claudius Pulcher, censor in 50 bc, is said to have expelled all the freedmen’s sons from the Senate: Dio Cass. 49.63.4. Mouritsen 2011: 272: ‘His actions were considered severe at the time . . . It would seem therefore that while some censors were willing to admit them, others could reverse the decision.’ The expelled sons of freedmen would surely not have been admitted to the Senate in the first place without having held elected office. Cn. Flavius, a freedman’s son, was a curule aedile in 304 bc, and according to one version reported by Livy, 9.46.4, had been a tribune of the plebs; he ‘maintained a defiant attitude towards the nobles, who regarded his lowly origin with contempt’ (contumacia aduersus contemnentes humilitatem suam nobiles certauit).

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better position to mount an attack than (to use a British example again) not merely a radical back-bencher but even a Leader of the Opposition against a Prime Minister. Every weapon that the Republican ruling class had, vis-àvis the populace, was liable to be turned by the competition between its members into a double-edged sword. When we try to understand what the contio as an institution meant to a Roman ‘oligarch’ (and what message it might send to the popular audience), we should not only be thinking about the ‘oligarch’s’ ‘own’ contio, which he could hope to control (though he did not always succeed in this), but also about the prospect of being an involuntary guest at a contio controlled by a rival, and sometimes an inferior at that. A public challenge offered to a consul by a tribune – a junior official and (usually) a much younger man, sometimes (though not always) hailing from a much humbler background – was a routine feature of Roman public life, part of an age-old civic tradition. It might be more or less dramatic, personally offensive and politically significant, but it always involved this ‘subversive’ element – it was built into the system. There were ten tribunes every year, and patricians were ineligible to hold the office. At all times, there could have been no lack of ‘low-born’ (in the consuls’ eyes) tribunes. Even when tribunes were engaged in some bickering within the elite that had no controversial ‘popular’ implications (as was often the case) – thus performing an essentially ‘elitist’ rather than a ‘popular’ function – any such challenge involved a certain public upsetting of the normal hierarchy. In order to appreciate the symbolic significance of this, and the ‘educational’ message conveyed by such scenes to the populace, one has to bear in mind the majesty surrounding a Roman consul. In his paper entitled, ‘The Roman Republic as Theatre of Power’, K.-J. Hölkeskamp depicts the Roman consul as the leading actor in this theatre of power; the power is that of the Senate but, first and foremost, of the nobility. The lictors, the fasces, the purple-bordered toga, the curule chair and the complicated rituals and strict rules of etiquette surrounding the consuls’ comings and goings visibly marked these magistrates as supreme heads of state under a highly hierarchical social and political order. The consul was ‘always and everywhere . . . set apart and above any priuatus by an awe-inspiring aura of aloofness and authority’.23 It is against this background that we can best appreciate the significance of the scene described in Cicero’s passage. A tribune greatly inferior to the consuls has summoned both of them to a contio over which he presides. 23

Hölkeskamp 2011a: 170; see also Bell 1997: 10–13.

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There is no indication that he abused his powers as a presiding officer, and we may assume that consuls were generally better protected against such abuse than anyone else. But even without any abuse of power, the presiding magistrate can expose them to public ridicule. The reaction of the crowd to Sicinius’ jab is not reported, but it can be readily imagined.24 A jeering crowd amused by the image of their consul eaten up by flies is not how we usually envisage the solemn, ritualised public encounter between the highest magistrates of the Roman Republic and the deferential citizenry. The Roman state took great care to make sure that encounters between its magistrates – especially consuls – and the general public would enhance rather than impair their dignity. This dignity was well protected, physically and symbolically, whenever the consul proceeds through the busy streets and the crowded places of the city, the lictors literally make way for him by bodily removing . . . [by force, if necessary, anyone standing in his way]: this is yet another way of putting citizens in their place (in the metaphorical as well as concrete sense of the phrase) . . . it is the main function of the lictors . . . symbolically to demonstrate . . . the leading role of the consul himself by verbally and ritually demanding respect, obedience and submission to imperium as well as to the person presently vested with this power, . . . [visibly proclaiming] this person’s position of superiority within a strictly hierarchical order.25

So, to return to our story, where are the lictors, the defenders of consular dignity, when this dignity is publicly slighted by the ‘vulgar’ tribune of the plebs? They are presumably right there, standing around and witnessing – who knows? – perhaps even enjoying – no doubt discreetly – the outburst of popular hilarity over the idea of their boss being devoured by flies. Of course, they could not be used directly against the tribune, but there was also very little they could do to protect the consuls’ ‘aura of aloofness and authority’ against a jeering crowd. In a contio summoned and presided over by a consul, he was running the show as regards what happened on the platform, but neither his insignia nor his lictors would be of much help to his aura of authority against an outbreak of popular hostility or derision. 24

25

Cicero’s remark (Brut. 216) that Curio’s ineptness as an orator ‘excited laughter and ridicule’ (cachinos irridentium commouebat) is apparently of a general character, not confined to this particular incident. The imperfect tense shows that Curio was laughed at on more than one occasion; cf. Val. Max. 9.14.5; Sall. Hist. 2 F25M; Plin. HN 7.55. As tribune of the plebs in 90 bc, Curio was humiliated when a ‘whole contio’ deserted him, and he ceased speaking in public for the rest of the year: Cic. Brut. 192, 305. Hölkeskamp 2011a: 170–1.

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Moreover, what message had been conveyed to the spectators by the two Sullan consuls’ retinue of lictors, as it accompanied the consuls to a public encounter with the summoning authority, Sicinius, the tribune of the plebs? When a Roman consul, summoned by a tribune to ‘his’ contio, proceeded in great style through the streets of the city to the appointed place accompanied by his lictors, in order to play – at any rate formally – second fiddle to his junior, the message conveyed by this spectacle to the wider public was unmistakable: the liberty of the Roman People, for which the tribunes always stood symbolically (whether or not this corresponded to political realities) was above even the highest imperium, with all its majesty, possessed by the consuls. The liberty of the Roman people was in principle, and was unambiguously proclaimed by this spectacle to be, above all rank. Of course, rank itself was conferred by the people who elected the magistrates, and in the case of nobles, it had already been conferred by the people on their ancestors. The greater the prestige accorded to rank, the stronger was the message of the supremacy of popular liberty, both because this liberty was the ‘fountain of honour’ for members of the elite and because the people’s primacy over anyone thus honoured was symbolically reasserted from time to time. To be sure, in 76 bc, the public spectacle staged by Sicinius was largely divorced from political reality, since tribunes could at that time effect nothing beyond staging a spectacle. Before Sulla and after 70 bc, things were different (though as a rule, surely less ‘popular’ in practice than the choreography of such spectacles might suggest). But the people’s ultimate supremacy was also visibly ‘staged’ at assemblies presided over by the higher magistrates themselves. The very lictors who symbolised and enforced the dignity of these magistrates were also used to represent, symbolically, the supremacy of the people over them, through the ritual of lowering the fasces before the people in assembly.26 The fact that the consul’s fasces powerfully proclaimed his supremacy over every citizen and class of citizens made the bending of these before the People as a whole all the more significant. ‘The standard ideological construction of senators’ personal subjugation to the People as a “debt” originating in popular election’27 was particularly powerful in the case of consuls. They had received from the people the beneficium of the highest honour (and thus the heaviest responsibility) and therefore owed the

26

Cic. Rep. 1.62, 2.53; Livy 2.7.7; see on this Bell 1997: 11–12.

27

Morstein-Marx 2004: 236.

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people, as they routinely said in their public speeches, a supreme duty of watching over their safety and well-being.28 On occasion, the Senate as a whole might be presented, in a public speech, as fully ‘subordinate to and depende[nt] on the People’.29 In a famous oration of 106 bc delivered by L. Licinius Crassus in support of a bill to readmit senators to criminal juries previously panelled exclusively by equites, the nobilis optimate appealed to the people ‘not to permit us [senators] to serve anyone but all of you together, whom we can and must serve’ (nolite sinere nos cuiquam seruire, nisi uobis uniuersis, quibus et possumus et debemus).30 Crassus’ specific point is to contrast the equestrian juries (allegedly hostile and oppressive) with the popular assemblies, whose right to judge senators was not at stake and could never be questioned. But his use of the striking verb seruire in describing the relations between senators and the people was highly offensive to some senators. They found such language thoroughly disgraceful for a senator to use (turpiter et flagitiose). The orator M. Antonius, in Cicero’s account, uses this example to demonstrate the difference between what a politician might find it expedient and necessary to say and what would be approved of by an (aristocratically minded) moral philosopher.31 In the end, this piece of optimate demagoguery worked, and the popular assembly adopted the bill. But there is no reason to doubt that aristocratic sensibilities were indeed offended by the language that Crassus found it necessary to use on this occasion. The dependence of Roman senators on the people was too real for such an expression to be merely a piece of harmless ritual self-abnegation. One might recall the famous seruus seruorum Dei of medieval popes, who used such language at the height of their power presumably without any feelings of discomfort. Though Crassus must have gone to unusual lengths in making his point, it seems likely that the less outlandish and quite routine expressions of the same idea were also capable of making some proud nobles feel less than comfortable. Ideally, a senator addressing the people was expected to exude confidence and authority, to be able to restrain popular ‘rashness’ or ‘fury’, to 28

29

30

Cicero’s belabouring of this theme, in opposing the agrarian bill of Rullus, is notorious: Leg. agr. 2. 1–10, 17, 100–3. As a homo nouus, Cicero presents his election as a singularly generous beneficium, placing him under a particularly strong obligation to the people; cf. Marius, with the opposite political tendency, in Sall. Iug. 75.1–8. But Sallust has Cotta (cos. 75 bc), a nobilis, speak of the greatness of his debt to the People for their beneficium in similar language (Hist. 2 F47). Cf. App. B Civ. 1.65 (Cinna in 87 bc). Morstein-Marx 2004: 235; see also 236–7 on the episode and its significance; cf. Cic. De or. 1.226–7; Brut.164; Parad. 5.41. Cic. De or. 1.225. 31 Cic. De or. 1.226–7.

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admonish the people when necessary and to guide them (for their own good) rather than pander to them – all the while acknowledging the people as the final arbiter and as the source of his own leading role.32 In practice, the balance was not always easy to maintain. The benefits that the Roman ruling class derived from the availability of a ‘popular’ discourse are obvious: it enhanced the elite’s authority and enabled its members to sway the assemblies and to oppose hostile ‘popular’ demands with greater legitimacy and credibility.33 However, this does not mean that the direct content of this rhetorical message, which constantly paid homage – however manipulatively, at times – to popular liberty and supremacy,34 was lost on the hearers. This discourse (alongside the more openly authority- and hierarchy-enhancing aspects of the ‘theatre of power’) was also a significant part of the people’s state-sponsored ‘civic education’. To be sure, the mere fact that the rulers proclaim their devotion to the people, and present themselves as the people’s champions and defenders, does not necessarily empower the people. Quite the contrary might be the case – but only if the leadership presents a united front vis-àvis the people and can prevent any alternative notion of public good from being articulated. It is, however, a very different story when the ground rules of the game are such that in every public debate, everybody is bound to profess devotion to the people and their interests and to accept in principle the people as the final arbiter, but while some purport to defend the people’s true interests by opposing their actual wishes, others do so by catering to them. In principle, then, there was no contradiction at all between imperium or, generally, rank and hierarchy, on the one hand, and popular liberty, on the other. In practice, the possibility of a clash between the two was keenly appreciated, and the tribunes of the plebs (elected by the more ‘popular’ tribal assembly) were specifically empowered to defend popular liberty against the highest imperium. Every instance of tribunes confronting 32

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34

There are also well-known instances of sharp and insulting rebukes of the popular audience (e.g. Val. Max. 3.7.3; Vell. Pat. 2.4.4 with Val. Max. 6.2.3) and even of open defiance of the popular will (Dio Cass. 38.4.2–3). But these were clearly exceptional and are described as such. See on this Jehne 2011. On the usual tone and posture adopted by members of the elite in addressing the populace (‘Jovalität’), see Jehne 2000. Cf. Livy, 24.8.11: ‘But not so slight are your favours to my ancestors and myself that I can fail to hold the state of more account than personal ties’ (Fabius Maximus ‘Cunctator’ justifies his high-handed consular interference in the voting of the centuriate assembly in order to prevent the election of a relative of his whom he thought unworthy of military command; this is accepted by the people). Cf. Morstein-Marx 2004: 230–40 on the ‘ideological monotony’ prevailing in Late Republican contiones, with all speakers professing unwavering devotion to the people, their liberty and their interests.

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holders of imperium was an act of institutionalised and ritualised upsetting of rank and hierarchy. This was the symbolic message of any such proceeding, even if it was devoid of any ‘demagogic’ political content (and even when tribunes were actually defending the interests of the oligarchy). The upsetting of the normal hierarchy of honour and power in a public confrontation between a tribune and a consul found dramatic expression in the rules governing these encounters, at the centre of which was tribunician sacrosanctity. Interference by anyone – including a consul – with a tribune’s contio was considered a violation of the leges sacratae (Cic. Sest. 79), and a tribune had a right to imprison a consul whom he accused of interfering with his activities. In 91 bc, the tribune Livius Drusus had the consul Philippus throttled by a client and led away to prison, his nose bleeding, for interrupting his contio.35 Though a spectacular (and unusually brutal) assault on consular dignity, this was at least a confrontation between two nobiles. But Quintus Cicero, in his blistering attack on the tribunate in Cic. Leg. 3.19–22, accuses it of having made ‘the lowest equal to the highest everywhere’ and of having produced ‘utter confusion and disorder’ (19) and recalls with horror that ‘even five years before [Tiberius] Gracchus, the plebeian tribune Gaius Curiatius, the meanest and vilest of men [homo omnium infimus et sordidissimus] . . . cast into prison, in an act without precedent, the consuls Decimus Brutus and Publius Scipio – and what men they were!’ (20). In fact, however, there had already been a precedent for what happened in 138 bc: both consuls of 151 bc had similarly been imprisoned by tribunes (Livy Per. 48.16). In both cases, the background was an argument about exemptions from military service. Livy says that the tribunes of 151 bc had failed to obtain an exemption for their friends. No major political controversy seems to have been involved, and the imprisonment must have been brief and symbolic. It is precisely the symbolic, theatrical aspect of such an event that evidently horrifies Quintus Cicero (or the typical optimate whose part he plays in the dialogue), because of the scandalous message of ‘equalising the lowest to the highest’ it conveyed to the spectators. However ‘mean’ (to someone like Quintus Cicero), a tribune of the plebs belonged to what we call ‘the ruling class’ and the ‘senatorial elite’. This class as a whole, for all the differences of rank within it, is often contrasted with the Roman populace, and the wide hierarchical gap between the two is stressed. Although ‘the internal hierarchies based on 35

Val. Max. 9.5.2. See on this Russell 2013: 102–3 with the references in n. 6.

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the cursus honorum . . . permanently produced differences of political rank . . . these differences did not affect the principle of basic social equality between members of the privileged (“senatorial”) class’, while ‘all senators – no matter whether of junior or senior rank . . . – were always superior to all the other social strata of the populus Romanus collectively, as well as to the man in the Roman street individually’.36 But while the most dangerous challenges to the oligarchy, and to the consuls that stood for it, came from such people as Livius Drusus, who were indeed junior in official position (and younger men) but socially equal (and sometimes in fact superior) to their opponents, every powerful Roman ‘oligarch’ knew that he might sometimes be challenged in public by people whom he would never dream of regarding as his social equals. Such a challenge, in front of a crowd – curiously watching, sometimes angry and noisy, sometimes enjoying itself after the manner of Sicinius’ contio – must often have involved a keenly felt affront to aristocratic dignity. One wonders if genuine aristocrats (or even men such as Quintus Cicero) had any sense of belonging to the same ‘class’ as such people or regarded them as closer to ‘us’ than to ‘them’ (i.e. the populace that was watching these confrontations). On such occasions, the notional oligarchic equality within the ruling class had the effect of empowering the common people vis-à-vis the ‘inner’ elite (whereas deference to nobility had this subversive effect when the people’s champions were themselves true aristocrats). ‘Low-born’ tribunes were in some sense equal in principle to those aristocratic consuls who defended the status quo only from the viewpoint of the people (and from the viewpoint of the popular aspect of the system itself). Their official position, conferred by the people’s votes, made them equally entitled to take part in the management of public affairs; hence, deferring to their judgement and authority was no less legitimate, under the values instilled in the people by the system (at any rate, according to one possible interpretation of these values), than deferring to the authority of their opponents. Whenever it gave such people its support, the Roman populace was in fact telling the oligarchy: the elite of the Roman state consists of those whom we have elevated with our votes, even if you consider them low born and inferior. Of course, nobody could question the elitist credentials of powerful ‘popular’ aristocrats. This ‘popular’ aspect of oligarchic equality within the ruling class, with the resultant upsetting of the normal hierarchy, applied also to situations 36

Hölkeskamp 2010: 32. In the German original, members of the senatorial elite, ‘bewegten sich . . . auf der Ebene der grundsätzlichen Gleichheit’ (Hölkeskamp 2004: 39).

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where the gap between protagonists was less pronounced and dramatic. Nor was it confined to the activities of tribunes, though in the case of the tribunate this element was part of the very raison d’être of the institution. ‘True’ Roman aristocrats refused to regard as their equals not only tribunes of the kind Quintus Cicero saw as ‘sordid’ but also, notoriously, his own brother Marcus, even after he had reached the consulship; Cato the Elder, as a new man, had to face similar aristocratic prejudice in his time.37 There is certainly no difficulty in defining Cato and Cicero as part of the senatorial elite. Nevertheless, from the viewpoint of a nobilis, a contest – political, judicial or electoral – with such men was not a contest between equals; in some measure, even having to enter it, and certainly losing it, was no doubt often felt to be demeaning;38 for all that, this was a routine part of Roman public life from which no aristocrat was immune. When Cicero, in his speech Pro lege Manilia in 66 bc, calls on the highest leaders of the state (isti principes) who opposed the bill to ‘at last admit that they too, as well as all others, must bow to the authority of the Roman People’ (64), he speaks as a (mere) praetor to consulars and as a homo nouus to nobles. Nevertheless, he enjoys the full authority of a member of the senatorial elite. ‘Now, when there is that authority in me which you, by conferring honours on me, have chosen that there should be’ (2). The ‘grundsätzliche Gleichheit’ between members of the governing class plays a (mildly) subversive, hierarchy-upsetting role in such a case. It is true that a senator regularly adopted, in addressing the people, a ‘hierarchical’ and ‘asymmetrical’ posture, claiming ‘the role of leadership and guidance . . . based on superiority of sapientia, knowledge, experience, and insight, hence auctoritas and dignitas’.39 But virtually by definition, he was thereby also challenging, in every public controversy, the expert knowledge and claims to leadership and guidance of other members of the ruling class, his opponents in the debate (whether or not they were actually present). The rank and dignitas of these opponents may have been higher – sometimes much higher – than the challenger’s own; by making the challenge, he was solemnly recognising the people as the rightful judge 37

38

39

See Livy, 39.40.9, 41.1; Plut. Cat. Mai. 16.4, cf. 11.3. Astin 1978: 67 argues that Livy’s description of Cato as a consistent opponent of the nobility should not be taken at face value, but notes that as a ‘new man’ striving for the highest honours (especially the censorship), he ‘was bound to meet with much aristocratic prejudice’. Cf. Cic. Plan. 50–2. Even a candidate from an old praetorian family might be felt by a defeated nobilis competitor in consular elections to be so blatantly inferior in birth as to raise a prima facie suspicion of bribery: Cic. Mur. 15–18. Hölkeskamp 2013: 23.

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in the controversy.40 Of course, the very notion of a magistrate’s or senator’s superiority vis-à-vis his listeners was inseparably connected with the principle of popular choice (always, rhetorically, ‘your’ choice). No doubt Sicinius also claimed the role of leadership and guidance in addressing the people. The consul whom he ridiculed had doubtless assured the people, in his speech, of his devotion to their liberty and their (rightly understood) interests – all in vain, apparently. A Roman contio was indeed a paternalistic institution in structure and spirit, and so was the whole theatre of Roman public life, but the ‘parents’ were constantly fighting in front of the children. Moreover, another crucially important aspect of Roman public life, those judicial and quasi-judicial hearings, held in public, in which the highest personages of the state were often involved (in various capacities), might sometimes expose these personages to public abuse or ridicule from people of lower status. These people did not even have to enjoy the minimum of respectability required for elected office. To be sure, they were mere priuati, without the authority and protection provided by elected office, and they certainly did not run the show, as Sicinius did at his contio, but what matters above all is that these scenes were played out in public. In fact, even a non-citizen might inflict a public embarrassment on a high-ranking member of the elite on such occasions. Cicero relates the ironic remark of a Sicilian to a praetor presiding at a trial who had assigned to him an inept advocate: ‘please, praetor, assign that advocate to my opponent, then you won’t need to assign anyone to me’ (De or. 2.280). The Sicilian is not being openly disrespectful, but we should think of the probable reaction of the audience. Pompey (apparently in 55 bc) was viciously assailed by a freedman’s son, Helvius Mancia, at a public hearing before the censors (Val. Max. 6.2.8). ‘A man of municipal birth, reeking of his father’s enslavement’ (as Valerius Maximus calls him, obviously shocked by the impropriety), described in gory detail a series of murders during the Civil War of the 80s bc, blaming them on Pompey, the ‘teenage butcher’ (adulescentulus carnifex).41 Valerius Maximus notes Pompey’s usual equanimity in the face of public abuse by 40

41

Cf. Jehne 2011: 119. Though senators addressing the people had ‘to acknowledge the right of the people to have the last decision about everything’, ‘in return for this behaviour of the ruling class the people were obliged to follow the lead of their advisors. So, in the end, the people could be expected to obey, and this was part of the system.’ But it was also part of the system that the people were free to choose which of their numerous advisors, who regularly disagreed (cf. Jehne 2011: 115), they should follow. See on this Steel 2013a: 151–9, esp. 159.

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his rivals; ‘by such tolerance he gave even people of low birth and degree an opening against himself’ (6.2.7). He then cites two examples: the case of Helvius Mancia, and that of a popular actor who used his performance to attack Pompey (6.2.9). Whatever the degree of one’s personal ‘stoicism’, public slights inflicted by one’s inferiors were part of what a Roman aristocrat had to be prepared to endure in the course of his career. An exchange of jabs and insults between two members of the elite at a trial, as well as on other public occasions, must have been a much more common occurrence; this also had a certain hierarchy-upsetting and potentially degrading aspect, since it took place before a popular audience. Thus, Q. Hortensius was denounced for effeminacy by a fellow aristocrat at a trial in highly insulting language. He replied in a mockingly effeminate voice, apparently to the satisfaction of the audience. This was clearly an effective riposte, but probably not an aristocrat’s first choice as far as maintaining dignity and decorum was concerned (Cic. Brut. 303; Val. Max. 8.10.2; Gell. NA 1.5.2–3).42 L. Murena, the consul-elect defended by Cicero on charges of ambitus in 63 bc, was called a dancer (saltator) by Cato in the course of the trial (Cic. Mur. 13). Being insulted by Cato was perhaps not quite the same thing as being ridiculed by Sicinius, but still, as Cicero points out, the (future) consul of the Roman People was being insulted in public. Yet the very fact that a sitting Roman consul could, like Cicero, appear as an advocate and face the rough-and-tumble of a public trial inevitably derogated something from the aloofness and dignity of the highest office (cf. Plut. Cat. Min. 21). Despite all this, we need not distress ourselves over the lot of Roman nobles and senators. They were hugely powerful and derived enormous benefits from their privileged position. When challenged in public by an inferior, they were often capable not merely of standing their ground but of administering a powerful rebuff and a stern rebuke, often winning the approbation of the popular audience in the process. The sources abound with accounts – usually sympathetic – of such assertions of auctoritas by great men. One of the most famous examples is that of Scipio Africanus, proudly rebuffing the tribunes who attacked him and his brother; though in the end, whatever the much-disputed details of this episode, the Scipio brothers would succumb to the tribunician assault (said to have been supported by more powerful personages).43 The Roman ‘oligarchs’ also 42

43

Cf. Cic. De or. 220–89, with a long list of examples (forensic and otherwise) of witticisms exchanged in public mostly by senators, some of them quite biting. See Bell 1997: 15. See Briscoe 2008: 170–9. Cf. Asc. 22C, another famous example.

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demonstrated, repeatedly, their ability to settle accounts with those who had earned their resentment. Sicinius, too, suffered his fate,44 apparently through a conviction, which would presumably have been easy to procure in a ‘Sullan’ senatorial court. His fall is attributed to the consul Curio, acting in revenge for his agitation but possibly also for his ridiculing of the consuls in public. The ability of the oligarchy to get rid of its enemies in this way (and, in the Late Republic, sometimes also by violence) should certainly be borne in mind when assessing the character of the system; though in the long run the Senate could not resist the tide of popular pressure in favour of restoring the tribunes’ powers, nor could it preserve its monopoly over public courts. The spectacles of the Republic did not always send to the populace a message favourable to the oligarchy, nor did they always enhance the dignity and prestige of the individual members of the elite. Sometimes they had the opposite effect. No doubt the negative aspects of all this publicity, from the viewpoint of the ‘oligarchs’, performed a long-term positive systemic function. We may, however, assume that the consuls of 76 bc would have preferred to contribute to the popular legitimacy of the system in some other way. 44

Sall. Hist. 3 F48.8, 10M. Exitium here evidently signifies political destruction (via condemnation) rather than physical liquidation.

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chapter 2

Political Communication in the Late Roman Republic Semantic Battles between Optimates and Populares? Claudia Tiersch

The Late Roman Republic was one of the most turbulent and destructive but also one of the most dynamic stages of Roman history. It brought about new political developments and issues. New political agents, such as veterans, Italians and the plebs urbana (‘urban plebs’), articulated their group interests in public.1 It is not by chance that our sources present many cases where contemporaries or later authors expressed their confusion about an abundance of events that they could not categorize and much less manage. A growing insecurity was spreading: traditional codes of behaviour and former modes of language did not work any longer. Livy truly defined the problem when he commented that the Romans could no longer bear either their vices or the remedies against them.2 And Cicero grieved that the colours of the famous painting of ancestral custom (mos maiorum) had faded and that nobody would know how to restore them.3 An adequate assessment of the complex and dynamic changes that occurred in the last century of the Roman Republic has been hampered by the fact that contemporary notions of the categories and forms of change do not match modern concepts at all. There was social uproar, certainly, but there were no parties or other formal organizations with permanent leadership, no clear-cut political concepts or slogans that could serve to describe the political developments considered here, neither from the perspective of the supporters nor of the opponents of those changes.4 Consequently, Robert Morstein-Marx has pointed out that despite the fundamental clashes and the bloody and often violent conflicts in this era, all participants competed more or less for the same values, such as libertas, I’d like to thank Catherine Steel and Henriette van der Blom for their invitation to the conference, and I’m indebted to them as well as to Christa Gray and Richard Marshall for several helpful remarks. 1 Cf. now Steel 2013b: 9, 42, 226; Flower 2011: 80. 2 Livy, pr. 9. 3 Cic. Rep. 5.1.2. 4 This has already been shown by Meier RE Suppl. X, s.v. populares: 549–615.

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iustitia, dignitas, labor, pietas or fides (‘freedom’, ‘justice’, ‘dignity’, ‘work’, ‘piety’ or ‘faith’), which originated directly from the traditional world of mos maiorum. Therefore, he drew the conclusion that the crisis of the Late Roman Republic was no fundamental political conflict but rather a bloody personal battle among competing members of the elite, fighting for the assertion of their personal dignity.5 Likewise, Maggie Robb, in her published dissertation, Beyond Populares and Optimates: Political Language in the Late Republic, has convincingly proven that the two terms optimates and populares, which are regularly used in modern scholarship to describe the opposing political forces in the Late Roman Republic, were applied by contemporary sources with very different meanings.6 A precise semantics which would enable us to allocate the terms optimates and populares to real political opponents is thus not discernible. My analysis therefore raises the question: through what kind of language were the political conflicts of the Late Republic settled? Are there substantial differences recognizable in particular terms or in their semantics within political debates? Was it, perhaps, not only a fight in words but also for words? I would like to test here the concept of ‘semantic battles’ that has been developed by Reinhard Koselleck for explaining the relationship between political conflicts and political language. The term ‘semantic battles’ denotes disputes between the participants of political and social conflicts concerning the definitions of political and social situations in times of crises. According to Koselleck, one reason for such heated disputes can be found in people’s disappointment with the shrinking capacity of traditional terms and slogans to represent actual conflicts, which is concomitant with growing pressure to find appropriate terms and solutions for these conflicts.7 But Koselleck developed this concept in the context of the French Revolution and its associated explosion of linguistic innovations, a phenomenon, of course, that cannot be claimed in the same manner for the ancient society of the Late Roman Republic. However, it is important to address the question of whether the peculiar Roman kind of political communication makes it impossible to discern any linguistic differences at all in the crisis of the Roman Republic. In this chapter I explore this question in four sections as follows: (1) the special form of political communication in the Roman contiones, (2) changes in the communicative atmosphere in the Late Roman Republic, (3) the opposing semantics of optimates and populares and (4) the political matters at stake. 5

Morstein-Marx 2004: 280–4.

6

Robb 2010.

7

Koselleck 1985: 113.

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Political Communication in the Roman Contiones It cannot be doubted that public communication had an enormous significance in the Roman Republic. It was decisive for the perception of the res publica as a real ‘public’ matter by a majority of the Romans despite deep social hierarchies. In the last decades, therefore, scholarship has stressed that the amazing stability and duration of the Roman res publica have to be attributed essentially to the intensive communication between nobility and people in the numerous contiones. These informal gatherings were designed to create consensus and compromises before the formal voting assemblies, the comitia, were (going to be) convoked.8 The magistrates used the contiones to inform the Roman population about general themes of public interest, for example, imminent dangers or glorious victories that had been won by the legions. Even impending trials were announced there.9 But first and foremost, it was the place where legal initiatives were introduced in public for the first time. The remarkable prestige which the contiones enjoyed among the population was based on the fact that the people were not simply confronted there with decisions that had already been fixed by the Roman Senate; in fact, the opposite was the case. The almost 400 contiones in Republican times collected by Francisco Pina Polo include many meetings where projects that met considerable resistance were withdrawn.10 Some compromises were only made after heated debates in subsequent contiones. And in any case, the magistrate concerned was forced to campaign for the intended initiative in front of the audience. Failed contiones were an embarrassing blow for the magistrate’s reputation.11 Some of those disgraced after such failures never dared to convoke a contio again.12 Occasionally, even political issues that seemed threatening to the nobility and represented instead the interests of other social groups reached this political setting.13 As a whole, successful communication in the setting of the contiones must be regarded as the 8

9

10 11

12

13

Cf. now Steel and van der Blom 2013; further, Tiersch 2009: 40–68; Flaig 1995: 77–127; Hölkeskamp 1995, esp. 27–41 = 2004b: 234–47, 1997, 2001, 2003; Millar 2002b: 144. Contiones before trials: e.g. 325 bc (Livy, 8.33.9–35.8); 212 bc (Livy, 25.3.13–19); 204 bc (Livy, 29.22. 7–9); 170 bc (Livy, 43.4.6; 8.3); 169 bc (Livy, 43.16.5). Contiones before executions: e.g. 354 bc (Livy, 7.19.3; Diod. Sic. 16.45.8); 313 bc (Diod. Sic. 19.101.3); 271 bc (Polyb. 1.7.12; Livy, 28.28.3); 216 bc (Livy, 22.57.3); 214 bc (Livy, 24.20.6); 138 bc (Livy, Per. 55). Pina Polo 1989. To be successful as an orator was extremely important for aristocratic self-perception in the Roman Republic: cf. Tac. Dial. 10, 18–21; 36; Cic. Brut., esp. 183–92; De or. 1.35, 141; Morstein-Marx 2004: 60–7. At the beginning of the first century bc, C. Scribonius Curio was abandoned by his contio (Cic. Brut. 89, 305), as were two tribunes around 187 bc (Tac. Dial. 36). Livy, 22.63.2 (lex Flaminia, 232 bc); Cic. Verr. 2.5.45 (lex Claudia, 218 bc).

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decisive reason for the astonishing fact that only a fraction of the legal projects transmitted by our sources for the 500 years of Republican history failed in the comitia. The only explanation is that the comitia merely ratified the compromises that had already been achieved in the contiones through the flexible channels of public communication.14 But this represents only one side of the phenomenon. In fact, political communication in Republican Rome was restricted in many ways. There existed no formal rules as to how many contiones must be held within a year, and only magistrates had the power to convene a contio. Moreover, in fundamental contrast to the Athenian assemblies, not everyone who was interested in speaking had the right to do so, but only those who had been admitted by the magistrates.15 In spite of all the communication between nobility and people that took place there, the contiones in general symbolized a very hierarchical order of communication: the responsible magistrate sat on his sella curulis, elevated on a rostrum, surrounded by his friends and other aristocrats. His audience was only allowed to murmur, in order either to approve or disapprove the proposal.16 But even when a contio was doomed to failure, there were enough opportunities to turn the situation around; in such a case the magistrate normally dissolved the assembly while the nobles were making the rounds bidding for support among their clients, and after the contio was reconvened (again), usually the desired result was achieved. The typical rhetorical gesture of contional speeches indicates that it was a victorious aristocratic elite convinced of their own superior authority that staged their claims vis-à-vis a population whose obedience was taken for granted and trained by long years of military service.17 The most relevant precondition for any regulation of public communication, however, was the unwritten prerogative of the Senate to debate public 14

15

16

17

This has been stressed correctly by Flaig 1995: 84–91; Flaig 1998: 59–65; now Flaig 2004: 193–6; Nippel 1988: 55; Eder 1991: 179. Gell. NA 13.16.1; Fest. [= Paul.] p. 34L: contio significat conuentum non tamen alium quam eum qui a magistratu uel a sacerdote publico per praeconem conuocatur (‘contio signifies a meeting of no other kind than one which is summoned by a magistrate or a public priest through a herald’) (this translation and all the following are my own unless marked otherwise), Varro, Ling. 6.90; cf. Mommsen 1887–8: I: 389; Pina Polo 1989: 43–53. Livy, 43.16.8; Val. Max. 3.7.33; Plut. Mor. 201F; Plut. Pomp. 25; Cic. Rab. perd. 18; Mouritsen 2001: 47. E.g. Livy, 5.24.5–25.3 (395 bc); 5.29.8–10 (393 bc); 5.49.8–9; 5.50.8 (390 bc); 6.14.1–13 (385 bc); 6.35.6 (376 bc); 6.38.34 (368 bc). When a contio was doomed to failure, it was usually stopped by the responsible magistrates. Afterwards the senators used all means to influence their clients in order to turn the tide; e.g. Livy, 6.14.11–13 (385 bc); 6.18.16 (384 bc); 9.46.7 (304 bc); 44.1.9–2.1; cf. Flaig 1997: 33–50; Flaig 2004: 99–122. Cf. Pina Polo 1996: 98.

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matters first. Therefore, it was the Senate’s decision whether a matter was declared political and in what form and whether a magistrate was then allowed to present the problem together with a possible solution, convenient for the Senate, to the Romans within a contio. It is no accident that several problems never found their way into a public debate or that the Senate at least tried to prevent this from happening for as long as possible.18 Even when political initiatives were sometimes presented in the contiones, the overwhelming number of those assemblies was devoted to giving out information, such as the publication of victory news.19 Because of this predominant power of the Roman Senate to regulate and restrict political communication, the contiones should be interpreted more as a medium for reaching social consensus than for negotiating hard political compromises, as Egon Flaig has correctly noted.20 The consequences of this reduced political discourse are illuminated in an episode from the ongoing debate about Ti. Gracchus’ proposal for the agrarian law in 133 bc. When Ti. Gracchus was ready to have his colleague M. Octavius deposed because of his intercession against the agrarian law, and seventeen tribes had already given their votes in favour of the dismissal, Tiberius was summoned before a contio by T. Annius Luscus.21 In full view of the audience, Luscus then denounced the tribune: by his campaign for the deposition of M. Octavius, Tiberius would not only prevent a people’s tribune from practicing his legal right, but, what was much worse, would also severely injure the sacrosanctitas (‘sacrosanctity’) of the tribune. Despite all the good reasons in favour of the agrarian law that M. Octavius by his actions was threatening to impede, Tiberius was not able at this moment to contradict Luscus with constitutionally founded arguments. He left this contio without a word. It was only several weeks later, when Tiberius realized that not only the Senate but also a broader section of the public was enraged by his handling of M. Octavius, that he convened another contio.22 There, finally, he justified his actions by establishing the legitimacy of the tribunate not with regard to the tribune’s individual rights of action but in the context of his responsibilities to the people as the relevant electorate: a tribune, he 18

19

20 21 22

Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp helpfully observes that the nobility quite often managed to prevent a politicization of grauamina (Hölkeskamp 1997: 234). Announcements of victories at contiones: at Zama 202 bc (Livy, 30.4.3), at Thermopylae 191 bc (Livy, 36.21.8), over Antiochos III 189 bc (Livy, 37.52.2), at Pydna 168 bc (Livy, 45.2.6), and for the defeat at Lake Trasimene (Livy, 22.7.7; Polyb. 3.85.7; Plut Fab. 3.4). Flaig 1995: 84–91. Annius Luscus ORF4 17 F3–4 (= Livy, Per. 58; Plut. Ti. Gracch. 14.5); see Chapter 5. Ti. Gracchus ORF4 34 F16 (= Plut. Ti. Gracch. 15.1).

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said, was sacred and inviolable because he was consecrated to the people and was a champion of the people. ἂν οὖν μεταβαλόμενος τὸν δῆμον ἀδικῇ καὶ τὴν ἰσχὺν κολούῃ καὶ παραιρῆται τὴν ψῆφον, αὐτὸς ἑαυτὸν ἀπεστέρηκε τῆς τιμῆς, ἐφ’ οἷς ἔλαβεν οὐ ποιῶν. ἐπεὶ καὶ τὸ Καπετώλιον κατασκάπτοντα καὶ τὸ νεώριον ἐμπιπράντα δήμαρχον ἐᾶν δεήσει· καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ποιῶν δήμαρχός ἐστι πονηρός· ἐὰν δὲ καταλύῃ τὸν δῆμον, οὐ δήμαρχός ἐστι. πῶς οὖν οὐ δεινόν, εἰ τὸν μὲν ὕπατον ὁ δήμαρχος ἄξει, τὸν δὲ δήμαρχον οὐκ ἀφαιρήσεται τὴν ἐξουσίαν ὁ δῆμος, ὅταν αὐτῇ κατὰ τοῦ δεδωκότος χρῆται· καὶ γὰρ ὕπατον καὶ δήμαρχον ὁμοίως δῆμος αἱρεῖται . . . οὔκουν οὐδὲ δήμαρχος ἀδικῶν δῆμον ἔχειν τὴν διὰ τὸν δῆμον ἀσυλίαν δίκαιός ἐστιν· ᾗ γὰρ ἰσχύει δυνάμει, ταύτην ἀναιρεῖ. καὶ μὴν εἰ δικαίως ἔλαβε τὴν δημαρχίαν τῶν πλείστων φυλῶν ψηφισαμένων, πῶς οὐχὶ κἂν ἀφαιρεθείη δικαιότερον πασῶν ἀποψηφισαμένων; ἱερὸν δὲ καὶ ἄσυλον οὐδὲν οὕτως ἐστίν, ὡς τὰ τῶν θεῶν ἀναθήματα· χρῆσθαι δὲ τούτοις καὶ κινεῖν καὶ μεταφέρειν ὡς βούλεται τὸν δῆμον οὐδεὶς κεκώλυκεν. ἐξῆν οὖν αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν δημαρχίαν ὡς ἀνάθημα μετενεγκεῖν εἰς ἕτερον. ὅτι δ’ οὐκ ἄσυλον οὐδ’ ἀναφαίρετον ἡ ἀρχή, δῆλόν ἐστι τῷ πολλάκις ἔχοντας ἀρχήν τινας ἐξόμνυσθαι καὶ παραιτεῖσθαι δι’ αὑτῶν.23 (Ti. Gracchus ORF 4 34 F16 (= Plut. Ti. Gracch. 15.2–6))

Obviously, after the struggle of the orders there had been no further fundamental debate on political institutions and offices and their rights, duties and responsibilities in the Roman Republic. This contrasts, for example, with the extremely lively Athenian debate that had developed as a consequence of the democratic changes of the fifth and fourth centuries bc. Even the Roman sources themselves speak of the egestas patrii 23

Trans. Perrin 1921: ‘If, then, he should change about, wrong the people, maim its power, and rob it of the privilege of voting, he has by his own acts deprived himself of his honourable office by not fulfilling the conditions on which he received it; for otherwise there would be no interference with a tribune even though he should try to demolish the Capitol or set fire to the naval arsenal. If a tribune does these things, he is a bad tribune; but if he annuls the power of the people, he is no tribune at all. Is it not, then, a monstrous thing that a tribune should have power to hale a consul to prison, while the people cannot deprive a tribune of his power when he employs it against the very ones who bestowed it? For consul and tribune alike are elected by the people . . . Therefore it is not just that a tribune who wrongs the people should retain that inviolable character which is given him for service to the people, since he is destroying the very power which is the source of his own power. And surely, if it is right for him to be made tribune by a majority of the votes of the tribes, it must be even more right for him to be deprived of his tribuneship by a unanimous vote. And again, nothing is so sacred and inviolate as objects consecrated to the gods; and yet no one had hindered the people from using such objects, or moving them, or changing their position in such manner as may be desired. It is therefore permissible for the people to transfer the tribunate also, as a consecrated thing, from one man to another. And that the office is not inviolable or irremovable is plain from the fact that many times men holding it resign it under oath of disability, and of their own accord beg to be relieved of it.’ For the striking importance of Ti. Gracchus’ refusal to accept Octavius’ veto and his institutional re-definition of the tribunician magistracy, see Steel 2010: 39–41.

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sermonis, the scantiness of the ancestors’ speech, as a known deficit of philosophical and poetic language and one that probably pertained to public political language as well.24 The constant references to the mos maiorum, the argument that something would be against the Roman tradition, appear to have been applied here as mere prohibitions from unrestrained thinking, and they obviously hampered the development of appropriate categories. Only the extraordinary situation of deeply opposed group interests in the second half of the second century bc, exacerbated by the burdensome problems of the age as expressed by the agrarian bill of Tiberius Gracchus, now forced a rethinking of hitherto unsolved institutional contradictions.

Changes in the Communicative Atmosphere of the Late Roman Republic Seen from this perspective, it becomes plain how far-reaching the challenges were that the activities of the Gracchi constituted for the conservative part of the Roman Senate not only in respect of the content of their initiatives, which was uncomfortable for many aristocrats anyway, but probably also with regard to the changes in the sphere of public communication and its deeply ingrained habits. Preserved fragments of their speeches indicate how carefully and eloquently the Gracchi argued for the validity of their proposals. Thus, they cut through the predominant aristocratic monopoly of setting or denying political agendas. If Appian and Plutarch can be relied upon to have preserved the content and the phraseology of Ti. Gracchus’ speeches, he not only proposed the agrarian bill but also justified the legitimacy of this law with emotional words. Deploring the miserable fate, in spite of Rome’s military conquests, of the landless Italian poor as a flagrant injustice, he may have ascribed to groups beyond the nobility a specific value and dignity and declared their peculiar interests and needs as legitimate within the horizon of the res publica.25 Likewise, his younger brother Gaius repeatedly referred to the mos maiorum in his speeches and denounced the nobility’s deviation from these values.26 In this way, he justified his initiatives for a transfer of the courts 24 25

26

Lucr. 1.832, 3.260. Ti. Gracchus ORF4 34 F13–14 (= Plut. Ti. Gracch. 9.4; App. B Civ. 1.9). On the transmission problems of Ti. Gracchus’ rhetoric, see Flower 2013: 87. E.g. his speech against Maevius (ORF4 48 F58 = Isid. Etym. 19.32.4): considerate, Quirites, sinistram eius; en, quoius auctoritatem sequimini, qui propter mulierum cupiditatem ut mulier est ornatus (‘inspect, citizens, his left hand: look! He whose authority you follow, because of his lust for women, is adorned like a woman’); cf. also his speech against the lex Aufeia (ORF4 48 F44 = Gell.

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from the senators to the knights, referring to the recent negative examples of L. Aurelius Cotta, Cn. Pedanius Fuscus Salinator, and Manius Aquillius (the conqueror of Asia), all notorious bribe-takers. They had all been acquitted by the judges, although ambassadors from the plundered provinces sent to complain about their conduct were still present in Rome, going around and uttering bitter accusations against them. At least in this case the Senate felt so ashamed about these evident briberies that it yielded to the law, and the people ratified it.27 As for his famous grain bill, Gaius legitimized it by appealing to central values of the mos maiorum as a bare necessity for the survival of large parts of the Roman population. He declared it to be expedient, useful and not luxurious at all: ‘they say that those measures were taken because of luxury [luxurii causa],’ and further on in the same speech, ‘whatever is needed to sustain life is not luxury [luxuries]’.28 The perspective of the opposing, senatorial side is illuminated by the revealing appearance of L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, one of the harshest adversaries of C. Gracchus. When Gracchus was going to hold the first public distribution of subsidized grain, he was surprised to see Piso Frugi, a senator, standing in the line, in spite of his enormous private wealth. When Gracchus asked what his motivation was, Frugi responded fiercely, ‘I strictly oppose your decision to divide my goods man by man, but when you are doing that anyway, I want to have my share.’29 The public aerarium, whose actual purpose was to finance common duties, was thus perceived by the Senate as its own revenue (‘my goods’), funding purposes (such as senatorial embassies or warfare) that were strictly in the Senate’s interest. In spite of the general confidence that the Roman people at this time still bestowed on Roman aristocrats,30 this experience may have created a bitter taste for the audience. The conflict was exposed as a dispute about the political balance of rights and financial means that had now reached the public sphere.

27 28

29

30

NA 11. 10.1). Likewise, he justified his own behaviour by references to the mos maiorum, as his speech after his return from Sardinia proves (ORF4 48 F28 = Gell. NA 15.12.1–4). C. Gracchus ORF4 48 F45 (= App. B Civ. 1.22). C. Gracchus ORF4 48 F51 (= Gell. NA 9.14.16): ea luxurii causa aiunt institui; et ibidem infra ita scriptum est: non est ea luxuries, quae necessario parentur uitae causa; on the debate about the grain supply, see Tiersch (2014). L. Piso Frugi ap. ORF4 48 F41 (= Cic. Tusc. 3.48): nolim, inquit, mea bona, Gracche, tibi uiritim diuidere libeat, sed si facias, partem petam. Cf. the dispute between P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio and the tribune C. Curiatius 138 bc on whether the price of grain should be reduced. Serapio commented on the initiative with the famous words: ‘Keep quiet, I know better than you what benefits the res publica’ (ORF4 38 F3 = Val. Max. 3.7.3).

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Of course, the traditional authority of the senatorial aristocracy, bolstered by its age-old victorious image, still persisted for several decades. This could help to explain the astonishing acceptance on the part of the Roman population of Nasica’s claim that the Gracchans and their adherents had been killed in the interest of the Roman state (pro patriae salute).31 The following years were marked by the success of the conservative majority of the Senate in suppressing any attempts to revive this debate. Cicero later proudly mentions Q. Metellus Macedonicus, P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica (who led the attack on Ti. Gracchus), L. Opimius and P. Lentulus (who were involved in the killing of C. Gracchus), C. Marius, the Scauri, Metelli, Claudii, Catuli, Scaevolae and Crassi (who all took part in the attacks on Glaucia) and Saturninus as politicians who accepted the killing of opponents as a necessary means, if the state was in danger.32 From this perspective, the erection of the temple for concordia by L. Opimius, the murderer of C. Gracchus and 3,000 of his followers,33 has to be seen not only as staking the nobility’s claim to have restored the unanimity of the citizenship, disturbed by the ‘criminal’ insinuations of the Gracchi, but also as a symbolic message that the Romans should stop all future destructive public debates because the Senate alone knew how to govern the state. Just as this senatorial elite had been victorious against external enemies for many centuries, this claim underlined that they would be similarly successful in their fight against internal foes. It was a strict warning, therefore, to potential followers of the Gracchi and to the Roman people as well to abstain from similar political projects in the future. The only thing that really mattered from this perspective was the maintenance of public order and unanimity. Maybe it was no mere accident that the devastating blow dealt to the victorious image of the nobility by the Jugurthine war and wars against the Cimbrians and Teutons, in connection with the yet unsolved problems of recruitment and grain supply, ended all attempts to suppress public debate about the fundamental problems of the Roman Republic after only ten years. If the evidence given by Sallust is roughly reliable, the tribune C. Memmius in 111 bc,34 as well as the consul C. Marius in 107 bc,35 used their magistracies for blazing attacks on the arrogance of the nobility, on their greed and venality, their lack of motivation, their lack of interest in the needs of the ordinary Romans and the res publica and their pursuit of 31 33 35

Plut. C. Gracch. 18.1; Livy, Per. 61; Cic. Sest. 140. 32 Cic. Phil. 8.13–15; Robb 2010: 76. Plut. C. Gracch. 17.8; App. B Civ. 1.120; August. De civ. Dei 3.25. 34 Sall. Iug. 31. Sall. Iug. 85.

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narrowly defined party interests. The political success of both men in the following years may serve as an indicator that their complaints (really) articulated a widespread suspicion. Memmius was elected praetor, probably in 104 bc, and Marius held the consulate five more times until 100 bc, in contravention of all institutional rules.36 His military reforms at least solved the problems of recruitment that had already been denounced by Ti. Gracchus thirty years before, although they still offered no permanent solution for the maintenance of veterans. During the following years, a recurring pattern shaped the political landscape of Republican Rome. On the one hand, individual politicians, men such as Saturninus, Glaucia, Drusus, Cinna, Crassus, Cornelius, Pompeius, Clodius and Caesar, started initiatives to address the most urgent problems of different groups of the Roman population: the urban poor, the Italians, the veterans, the publicans and several more. On the other hand, they had to face the embittered resistance of the majority of senators, and several of them were even murdered. As a consequence, the liberty of speech that Amy Russell has correctly marked out as an outstanding trait of Roman Republican culture was decisively restricted as soon as it turned out that the assassination of the Gracchi would be followed by further examples of violence.37 Of course, tribunes still had a certain scope of action, and sometimes the political situation was far from being explicit, as Russell has shown for the aftermath of the assassination of Saturninus in Rome. However, against her assumptions, it is not impossible to detect certain political patterns. Some of the interesting case studies she has presented for the years 99–97 bc can, in fact, give clear indicators for the growing importance of interest groups.38 The seemingly contradictory behaviour that some of the tribunes displayed in fact had rational motives in the specific political climate of those years. For example, the tribune Sex. Titius continued the policy of Saturninus without referring to him as an example: in 99 bc he passed an agrarian bill by violence that was later declared invalid and possibly introduced a bill on quaestorian provinces. That he secretly kept a bust of Saturninus in his house only became obvious after a house search.39 This behaviour can be interpreted 36

37

38 39

Sall. Iug. 114.3; Livy, Per. 67; Plut. Mar. 14.9–14, 22.1–5, 28.1–9; CIL VI: 41024 (Marius); MRR I: 559; 562 (Memmius). Russell 2013: 101–15. Sigismund 2008 analyses twenty-two cases of political murder between 133 and 52 bc. Cf. Linke 2005: 92–4; Gruen 1966: 32–64. Cic. Rab. perd. 24; Cic. De or. 2.48; Jul. Obs. 46; Cic. Brut. 225; Cic. Leg. 2.31; Val. Max 8.1.damn.3; Cic. Mur. 18; Dig. 11.5.3; Russell 2013: 111–12.

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plausibly as an attempt by Titius to continue in some aspects the policy of Saturninus under strained political circumstances, during which the Senate tried hard to suppress Saturninus’ memory and supporters.40 P. Furius, tribune in the same year, also seems to have pursued a completely irrational strategy: he is said to have vetoed the recall of Q. Caecilius Metellus Numidicus, but by contrast, he also confiscated Saturninus’ property. He was prosecuted several times and was lynched before the end of his last trial.41 Furius may illustrate the case of a politician who overestimated his personal scope of action and the power of interest groups: he first supported Saturninus but ultimately broke with him and so lost the support of Saturninus’ adherents. Because of personal enmity, he resisted the recall of Numidicus and enraged conservative senators. At the end he may have been slain by people from both groups. A third tribune, M. Duronius, abrogated the sumptuary lex Licinia in 97 bc, possibly with the argument that the willing should now have the chance to kill themselves with luxury, and was expelled from the Senate by the censors.42 In fact, his initiative could have been a poisoned present to the Senate, because it enabled a further erosion of the fragile balance between the senators; thus, the censorial reaction might have involved substantive concerns. There are certain indicators of common ground among the politicians called populares. Their initiatives often concerned material issues: land allocations, measures for securing the grain supply (at least for the megacity of Rome), reliefs in connection with military service, the equal distribution of the newly enfranchised Roman citizens of Italian origin among all the voting districts and so on. But in his famous article on the populares, Christian Meier has already pointed to the fact that the measures of these politicians, designated as populares by our sources, were not at all restricted to a concern for material welfare.43 Overall, it is possible to assign their initiatives to roughly three areas of policy. The first is the above-mentioned sphere that related to the material facilitation of daily life.44 The second 40

41

42 43 44

Cf. L. Equitius, a supporter of Saturninus, who shared his fate (Cic. Rab. perd. 20) or the fate of C. Appuleius Decianus, who expressed regret for Saturninus’ death and was subsequently exiled: Cic. Rab. perd. 24; Cic. Flacc. 77; Val. Max. 8.1.damn.2; Schol. Bob. p. 95.12–16St. Cf. table 6.1 in Russell 2013: 110. Cic. Rab. perd. 24; Val. Max. 8.1.damn.2; App. B Civ. 1.33; Dio Cass. 28.59; Oros. 5.17.10–11; Russell 2013: 113. Val. Max. 2.9.5; Cic. De or. 2.274; Russell 2013: 114. Meier RE Suppl. X, s.v. ‘populares’: 599–610; cf. now also Mackie 1992: 64. E.g. leges agrariae; App. B Civ. I 9.37; Cic. Leg. 2.68; Off. 2.78; leges frumentariae: Livy, Per. 60; App. B Civ. 1.21; Plut. C. Gracch. 5; Auct. ad Her. 1.12; Cic. Leg. 2.6; Verr. 3.70, 5.21; for more even distribution of the voting districts, see Asc. 45, 65C.

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concerned institutional regulations destined to restrict the wide range of magisterial competences by legal rules. It pertained, for example, to the laws that praetors should abide by their own edicts, that censors henceforth should only be allowed to downgrade a citizen to a lower rank after he was convicted in a regular trial, as well as restrictions on the magisterial right to observe the sky, and that the rule that the allotment of provinces by the Senate should take place before the consular elections to avoid manipulation.45 The third policy area aimed at stronger protections or renewed enforcements of formerly existing individual citizen rights, that is to say, the implementation of the people’s maiestas into material law. This comprised the debates for and against the leges de prouocatione and against the emergency laws. Moreover, several laws codified the maiestas of the people as a political obligation for acting magistrates to preserve or sought to restore the tribunate with all its political competences after Sulla.46 Between individual initiatives there was often, in fact, an interval of several years, which has been identified by scholarship as a decisive argument against the existence of a comprehensive popularis political agenda or a coherent political tendency. However, these long gaps had rather different causes and were not caused by the lack of any continuing political agenda or lasting substantial problems, but quite the contrary. The real reason for the obvious discontinuities in ‘popular’ politics lay in the political system of the Roman Republic. Every magistrate had only one year for carrying out his office, and several tribunes did not even survive a whole year. Whoever was willing to initiate laws against the interests of the conservative majority of the Senate had to reckon with enormous pressure from his opponents, which could go as far as politically motivated assassination. This was a deterrent for anyone willing to address the problems before him. Therefore, only a minority of the tribunes can be assigned to those magistrates called populares. However, several indicators affirm the existence of a ‘popular’ identity, a common denominator for several politicians, if only because the political problems mentioned in our sources, such as grain supply, the problem of 45

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Lex Clodia concerning the leges Aelia et Fufia: Asc. 8C; lex ut praetoris suis edictis perpetuis ius dicerent: 59C; censorial reproofs: Dio Cass. 38.13.2; Asc. 8C; allotment of the provinces: Cic. Prov. cons. 2.3, 7.7; Sall. Iug. 27.3. Lex Cornelia ne de capite ciuis iniussu populi iudicaretur: Cic. Rab. perd. 12; lex Cornelia ne quis iudicio circumueniatur: Cic. Clu. 148; cf. Miners 1958; restoration of the tribunate: Sall. Hist. 3 F48.1, 12M; Cicero attacked as a violator of the ius prouocationis: Cic. Att. 3.15.5 (SB 60); 8.3.5 (SB 153); lex Apuleia de maiestate: Cic. De or. 2. 107, 201; lex Varia de maiestate: Cic. ap. Asc. 79C (= Cic. Corn. 1 F54Cr); Plut. C. Gracch. 4.1; Cic. Mil. 72; leges Cassiae: Cic. ap. Asc. 78.1C (= Cic. Corn. 1 F50Cr.); Asc. 78C; cf. Seager 1967; Arena 2012: 138.

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veterans and the integration of the Italians, were undeniably constant over a long range of time. It is a remarkable phenomenon that many of these politicians explicitly referred to their predecessors such as the Gracchi or Saturninus as exempla for their methods, in spite of all the dangers connected with this kind of political posture, and thereby presented a selfconception as belonging to a common political movement.47 Moreover, they were perceived even by their adversaries as a group of politicians with similar political strategies and initiatives. As Cicero concedes, for example, in his second speech against Verres, it would have been acting populariter to produce in court the son of a Gracchus, a Saturninus, aut alicuius hominis eius modi (‘or of some other man of the same stamp’).48 In his speech Pro Rabirio perduellionis he notes that at the time of Saturninus’ death, one simply had to make a choice: one was either for Saturninus or against him, either with the ‘good men’ led by the consuls or with the tribune.49 Elsewhere he names politicians such as C. Flaminius, L. Cassius, Ti. and C. Gracchus, Saturninus and Cinna among the politicians called populares.50 In this respect, there are good arguments for the assumption that the political agenda and the political dynamics of the last decades of the Roman Republic were shaped by several individual politicians in no indiscriminate way.51 They responded to some substantial problems concerning different groups of the Roman population in a political language that attempted to legitimize those specific needs in the context of res publica – hence they were called populares.52 Their senatorial adversaries had little to offer in response. Men such as Q. Lutatius Catulus, Cato the Younger, Cicero and M. Calpurnius Bibulus presented an embittered resistance against any initiatives and a hard-bitten defence of the existing system in order to preserve senatorial predominance and a privileged hold on the treasury.53 An illuminating example is the indignant objection made by Catulus against the lex Gabinia in 67 bc – a law which had been introduced to support Pompeius in his fight against the pirates, who threatened not only Roman security but also the grain supply – ‘nothing must be done against the mos maiorum’.54 In the same manner, Bibulus responded in 59 bc to Caesar’s initiative for supplying 47

48 50 51 53 54

De uir. ill. 73.3; Sall. Iug. 31.2, 7; Auct. ad Her. 4.22.31; cf. von Ungern-Sternberg 1973: 152–62; Mackie 1992: 56; Seager 1972b: 331. Cic. Verr. 2.1.151; Seager 1972b: 232. 49 Cic. Rab. perd. 24; Russell 2013: 101. Cic. Luc. 13; Sest. 101–5; Har. resp. 40–3. I am thus rather less sceptical than Russell 2013: 101–15. 52 Mackie 1992: 52–9. Cf. Burckhardt 1988: 159–209, citing many examples. Dio Cass. 36.31–6; cf. Tiersch 2009: 62. He showed a similar attitude towards the ‘lex Manilia’: Cic. Man. 60; Bleicken 1975: 187.

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land to the Pompeian veterans, after the Senate had conceded that no institutional objections against this law could be asserted: ‘you will not have this law this year, even though you all want it.’55 In the long run, utterances such as this gradually reduced the widely respected senatorial authority because the Senate created an image of an exclusively selforiented factio, without any regard for the needs of the groups standing behind the law projects that Sallust repeatedly mentioned.56 In the medium term, however, the representatives of the conservative majority still had various options for achieving their aims, even though major physical attacks on the political rights of the people, such as the destruction of the arches leading to the ballot boxes in 103 bc – to prevent a grain law by Saturninus – remained a singular exception.57 Much more common was the defamation of an initiative or its originator, charging him with pursuing only personal interests with his project, with harming the interests of Rome and its citizens, with collaborating with Roman enemies or with establishing a tyranny. Such arguments are visible not only in the attacks against popular tribunes such as Ti. and C. Gracchus, L. Appuleius Saturninus, L. Cornelius Cinna, P. Servilius Rullus and P. Clodius Pulcher but also against any initiator of reform, as is proved by similar allegations against a more moderate tribune such as M. Livius Drusus the Younger.58 Moreover, Roman political culture offered a whole range of fairly effective measures for obstruction. The institutional logic behind them was the overarching need to secure concordia against external enemies, at the expense of addressing and solving political differences. What might have been effective for securing the survival of the Roman community in the face of the threats to which it was exposed in the early years of its existence, or what might have supported Roman expansion in the centuries thereafter, now served instead to safeguard senatorial hegemony against any challenges. Especially once Sulla’s attempts to limit the institutional opportunities available to tribunes had failed after the final restoration of their powers in 70 bc, the senators increasingly preferred the strategy of restraining the political public by the obstructive methods detailed earlier, thus interfering directly with the communicative processes of the 55 56 57

58

Dio Cass. 38.4.3 (trans. FRRO); App. B Civ. 2.10–12; Plut. Cat. Min. 33; Pomp. 47.4. Sall. Iug. 29.2, 31.1, 4, 41.5; [Sall.] Ep. ad. Caes. 2.2.4, 8.6, 9.4, 10.9, 11.6; Hanell 1945: 268–71. The responsible magistrate, the quaestor urbanus Q. Servilius Caepio, legitimized his action with the words that the aerarium would only be endowed with scarce means, which meant that the law could not be funded: Auct. ad Her. 1.21, 2.17; Burckhardt 1988: 247. Plut. Ti. Gracch. 19.2; Flor. 2.2.7; De uir. ill. 6.4.6 (on Ti. Gracchus); Vell. Pat. 2.6.2; Plut. C. Gracch. 6 (on C. Gracchus); Livy, Per. 70 (on M. Livius Drusus); the largitio of the tribunes has been perceived by annalistic sources as the basis for their interest in regnum: see Sion-Jenkis 2000: 81.

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informational assemblies, the contiones.59 In 67 and 62 bc, senatorial opponents tried to avoid the public reading of legal initiatives by silencing first the reading usher and then the reading tribune.60 Their aim was to impede public knowledge of these laws, thereby reducing resistance against the tribunes who planned to intercede against the laws.61 The excessive observation of heavenly omens and the repeated use of tribunician intercession point to similar intentions.62 And in 55 bc Cato the Younger resorted to filibuster tactics to prevent the transfer of extraordinary commands to Crassus and Pompeius by an interminable speech, eventually in vain.63 Because of their repeated use, though, these methods lost their efficacy over the years. On the one hand, such practices were exposed as fraudulent techniques, aiming only at the securing of power positions, as, for example, Cicero’s verdict on obnuntiationes in the De diuinatione plainly demonstrates.64 As a result, the authority of the Senate was eroded, and thus it lost precisely the credibility needed to ensure the acceptance of the often very informal and symbolic means that demonstrated its supremacy over the population. The inimical mood that conservative politicians such as Cicero had to face from the Roman citizens and the negative reception that several known optimate senators such as Cato the Younger and Munatius Plancus found before the contiones65 are clear indications of one indisputable phenomenon: as even Cicero explicitly acknowledged, the populares were now the masters of the assemblies.66 On the other hand, the intimidation and violence that had once been initiated by the Senate to choke any opposition, at least after the Marian military reforms and their militarization of Roman policy, were turning against their former instigators. Violence in fact became an everyday instrument to enforce political interests, and in the confrontations with the social power of the military veterans, the Senate gradually lost its control.67 A deep clash of political interests divided the Roman public, and the Senate was not at all able to solve the conflicts. This became obvious from at least the time of Caesar. 59 60

61 62 63 65 67

Burckhardt 1988, esp. 178–209; Libero 1992, passim. Asc. 58, 60C; Cic. Vatin. 5; Dio Cass. 36.39.4; Quint. Inst. 4.4.8, 5.1318, 10.5.13 (for the case of C. Cornelius in 67 bc) and Plut. Cat. Min. 26–9; Dio Cass. 37.43.1–3 (for the case of Metellus in 62 bc). Cf. Meier 1968: 86–100. Burckhardt 1988: 159–209 gives many examples. See also de Libero 1992. Plut. Cat. Min. 43; Dio Cass. 39.34; de Libero 1992: 15–22. 64 Cic. Div. 2, passim. Cic. Q Fr. 1.2.15 (SB 2). 66 Cic. Clu. 4; Sest. 124; Pina Polo 1996: 113–19. Cf. Nippel 1988, e.g. 108–28.

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Semantic Battles between Optimates and Populares? But the existence of diverging material interests still does not say anything about how this fight was settled with words. The fact that all politicians referred to more or less the same categories, such as the res publica and the mos maiorum, or values such as libertas, dignitas and ius, remains undeniable. None of them pleaded for the removal of the existing res publica or its institutions, for example, through a mass revolution. Moreover, even such terms as optimates and populares were applied by contemporary sources less unambiguously than might have been expected, if both terms were used for the designation of different political configurations. Does this exclude altogether the existence of systematic semantic differences, of semantic battles between optimates and populares? An almost incidental remark by Sallust from the Bellum Catilinae points in the opposite direction. In his description of the political situation in Rome after the reestablishment of the tribunate in 70 bc, he comments on events as follows: nam postquam Cn. Pompeio et M. Crasso consulibus tribunicia postestas restituta est, homines adulescentes summam potestatem nacti, quibus aetas animusque ferox erat, coepere senatum criminando plebem exagitare, dein largiundo atque pollicitando magis incendere, ita ipsi clari potentesque fieri. contra eos summa ope nitebatur pleraque nobilitas senatus specie pro sua magnitudine. namque, uti paucis uerum absoluam, post illa tempora quicumque rem publicam agitauere, honestis nominibus, alii sicuti populi iura defenderent, pars quo senatus auctoritas maxuma foret, bonum publicum simulantes pro sua quisque potentia certabant. neque illis modestia neque modus contentionis erat: utrique uictoriam crudeliter exercebant.68 (Sall. Cat. 38.1–4)

Sallust thus underlines that both sides primarily pursued their own interests but that they therefore had to adapt their political rhetoric according to their respective reference groups. As a contemporary witness, Sallust 68

Trans. Watson 1867, slightly modified: ‘For after the powers of the tribunes, in the consulate of Gnaeus Pompey and Marcus Crassus, had been fully restored, certain young men, of an ardent age and temper, having obtained that high office, began to stir up the populace by inveighing against the Senate, and proceeded, in course of time, by means of largesses and promises, to inflame them more and more; by which methods they became popular and powerful. On the other hand, the most of the nobility opposed their proceedings to the utmost; under pretence, indeed, of supporting the Senate, but in reality for their own aggrandizement. For, to state the truth in few words whatever parties, during that period, disturbed the Republic under honourable slogans [honestis nominibus], some, as if to defend the rights of the people [sicuti populi iura defenderent], others, to make the authority of the Senate as great as possible [senatus auctoritas maxuma foret], all, though affecting concern for the public good, contended everyone for his own interest. In such contests there was neither moderation nor limit; each party made a merciless use of its successes.’

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certainly deserves some credibility. What hints at such an opposite rhetoric could the speeches handed down in our various sources give if we take into account the problematic transmission of popular rhetoric at large and the general dominance of Cicero’s tendentious speeches? Did they offer different assessments of the kernel of the political crisis, its causes and originators and possible solutions and general aims? What evidence could be provided for a phenomenon that Guy Achard once called the deux éloquences?69 To start with some examples from the oratory of politicians known as fervent adherents of the conservative part of the Roman Senate, there are indeed hints of how the enhancement of the auctoritas senatus was implemented rhetorically. One such indication relates to the causes of the crisis. No substantial causes, for example, the growing number of urban inhabitants in Rome and the necessary strain upon the grain supply, or public security or the problem of veteran settlement, are ever mentioned in optimate rhetoric. Likewise, almost no notice is taken of social movements, in other words, of masses that threaten to rise up because of poverty and distress. This does not mean that larger groups of people are never part of the oratorical agenda, quite the opposite. But it is not they or their specific needs that are designated as triggers for the crisis; they are only given the status of manipulated followers of their aristocratic leaders.70 Consequently, the whole crisis is blamed on individual aristocratic politicians, men such as Ti. and C. Gracchus, Saturninus, Cinna and Clodius.71 Optimate rhetoric is pervaded throughout with a perspective that sees any causes of political difficulties only in personal terms: in the deviant behaviour of the magistrates, the seditiosi, who disdained the mos maiorum and all institutions of the res publica and were motivated by their greed, their interest in subverting everything prompted them to crush the authority of the Senate and the rule of all boni by their criminal minds.72 How carefully those politicians have been constructed as monsters has been shown by Guy Achard’s Pratique rhetorique et idéologie politique dans les discours ‘optimates’ de Cicéron. Cicero discredited them as nefarious, politically incompetent, driven by their personal fury and hurt, licentious in their drinking habits, greedy for other people’s property, ready for every crime and a terrible danger to public peace and stability.73 69 71 72

73

Achard 1981: 9. 70 Sall. Hist. 1 F77.7M; Cic. Sest. 100; Dom. 89. Cic. Dom. 35; Sest. 77; Vat. 18, 23; Rab. perd. 24; Cat. 1.1; Sall. Hist. 1 F77.2M. Cic. Sest. 77, 94, 99, 103, 110; Dom. 12–15, 35, 82; Vat. 18, 23; Rab. perd. 24; Cael. 78; Clu. 37, 93–5, 102, 113, 130, 138; cf. Robb 2010: 152–8; Tiersch 2002: 284–9. Achard 1981: 186–355 gives many examples.

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Closely connected with this kind of ‘analysis’ were the proposals for the solution of the crisis. The only means was to disarm the villain, render his dealings ineffective and, ultimately, kill him and his adherents. Other people who were prepared to support these criminal schemes must be deterred from pursuing their plans.74 One further strategy, of course, was persuasive manipulation. In order to put the Romans off supporting Rullus’s initiative for an agrarian law in 63 bc, Cicero pulled out all the stops to discredit Rullus and his law and to evoke the alleged disadvantages of the project.75 Only when these culprits were eliminated, their projects impeded and their supporters intimidated, according to the widely spread conviction in optimate speeches, would it be possible to save the res publica and its institutiones, to defend its otium and concordia and the authority of the Senate. ‘My greatest wish would be that the res publica had its peace or . . . that the pernicious dealings would damage their originators’, Senator L. Marcius Philippus is made by Sallust to exclaim before the Senate, ‘but now, quite the contrary, everything has been thrown into confusion by seditions’. Therefore, he demanded: ‘If you prefer law and liberty, make a decision that will be worthy of your names . . . A fresh army is ready for us, as well as colonies/settlements of experienced veterans, the whole aristocracy, the best generals . . . Soon those adversities that have accumulated through our negligence will dissipate.’76 If we try to summarize the essential items of this rhetoric, which generally point in the same direction, we can see quite a revealing picture of how the conservative majority of the Senate perceived the res publica, the position of the various groups of citizens within it and the ultimate aim of politics. The most prominent element of this picture was a res publica completely arranged around its leading group – the senatorial aristocracy – and exclusively defined by its interests and needs. Different groups, such as the Italians, the urban poor, the knights and the provincial inhabitants, were of course mentioned in their speeches, but only as rather meaningless appendages whose specific problems and interests were not deserving of political treatment. They were not even considered seriously; rather, they had to obey, as soldiers have to obey the commands of their generals. This image expressed the notion that Rome was always at war and that the 74 76

75 Sall. Hist. 1 F77.17–22M. Cic. Leg. agr. 2.16. 39, 47, 71. Sall. Hist. 1 F77.1, 21M. He was known as a great Roman orator and a stunning opponent to the reforms of M. Livius Drusus: Cic. Leg. 2.12; Hor. Ep. 1.7.

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senatorial nobility, as the commanding military elite, were empowered and obliged to take all necessary measures themselves to preserve calm and unity and to defend the res publica.77 Consequently, the ultimate aim of every political measure was to preserve senatorial authority in its existing form. Obviously, the military tone that underpinned Roman political culture as part of its tradition and the incentive system of the aristocratic career path moulded the political approach of the Senate in a very general way. Rhetorical strategies were mostly targeted at repressing initiatives, not supporting them.78 The defensive and static semantics that underline order, stability and calm as the only desirable issues, and the necessity to defend and preserve the res publica and its institutions (that is, in its existing form) against unrest and upheaval, changing nothing because change in itself would be destructive and dangerous, fits into this overall perception. In this sense, all dynamics needed to be disqualified. Politics was defence, not creation, an indicator of the surprising semantic poverty in expressing and evaluating political strategies.79 Moreover, this political language mirrored the patronal style of the Roman Republic. Magistrates were judged predominantly according to their ‘friendly’ or ‘unfriendly’ behaviour towards the leading group in the Senate or the significance that their initiatives would have, or were entitled to have, for the status and dignity of their fellow aristocrats, that is, on the basis of social criteria.80 It was a system in which only the small aristocratic group, connected by a web of mutual social relations, and their fragile balance of dignities really mattered. The lower-status clients in this system, by contrast, did not matter substantially, maybe because the patrons themselves were occupied by their own status problems. Likewise, optimate speeches often give a very abstract picture of the political institutions: the functionality of the institutions was not debated or questioned but rather affirmed or tacitly assumed. Their content and their substance were not spoken about in detail. In his public speeches, at least, Cicero sometimes alludes very briefly to these institutions.81 One cannot avoid the impression that the factio expressing its opinion here was the group with full command over the institutions and was not at all willing to debate this command or the effectiveness of the institutions. The implication of this treatment of the leges, the mos maiorum, the 77 79 80

Cic. Rep 2.26; Leg. agr. 1.23, 2.9, 102; Cat. 4.17; Sest. 98–101. 78 Cf. Cic. Leg. 3.42. On the military semantics of senatorial speeches, see Tiersch 2002: 295. Hellegouarc’h 1972: 130–221. 81 Cic. Sest. 98; Dom. 17.

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auspicia and all the other institutions is that they form a unity with the Senate and its authoritative interpretation; they almost belong to the senators: every initiative offering a different interpretation (for example, against the unlimited right of the magistrates to use the auspicia or the leges at will) has to be fought as a dangerous challenge. Compared with this picture, the ‘popular’ speeches differ fundamentally in several aspects. A starting point may be the question of the causes of the political crisis. All speeches that could be ascribed to a popular environment completely agree in this respect: it is the factio paucorum (the ‘faction of the few’), occasionally reinforced by the super-aristocrat Sulla in its exploitative effectiveness, which is assigned the guilt of having consistently suppressed the whole Roman population.82 This self-interested majority of the Senate, it is alleged, is to a high degree driven by greed, avarice and lust for power. They extend their rights and privileges at the expense of ordinary Romans, they disfranchise them and they plunder the aerarium for their own military interests and thereby doom the poorer parts of the citizenry to bitter poverty and inequality. The central message of all these speeches and fragments is that the former balance of privileges, goods and rights between different groups has fallen into imbalance in favour of senatorial privileges, the senators allocating to all groups beneath them an inequitable status and preventing an equal share of common goods. Therefore, the ‘former’ balance according to the mos maiorum must be redressed by abolishing the present abuses.83 Consequently, these orators saw the solution of this crisis in a staged strategy. They described their own role as spearheads of the just cause, denouncing impending evils, formulating initiatives appropriate for solving the problems on hand and rousing the citizens to stand up for their rights by supporting their particular measures.84 But as the most decisive point, they declared the willingness of the population to end their longlasting fear and obedience. They eventually had to counter the unjustified authoritative claims of the nobility in order to end oppression and exploitation. Therefore, popular politicians sometimes stressed the lack of efficiency and ability on the part of the nobility to challenge their claims to authority and leadership and tried to shake the deep-rooted trust of the population in the superiority of the Senate and make apparent to them the institutional obstacles presented by the political system.85 Unfortunately, 82

83 85

See e.g. the speeches of the tribune C. Memmius in 111 bc (Sall. Iug. 31.1–17) and of the tribune C. Licinius Macer in 73 bc (Sall. Hist. 3 F48.1–13M); cf. Mackie 1992: 52–9. Sall. Iug. 31.18–29; Hist. 3 F48.14–28M. 84 Sall. Iug. 31.5; Hist. 3 F48.3M. See e.g. C. Marius’ sharp attack on the leading nobility: Sall. Iug. 85.4, 10–15.

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the rhetorical substantiation for many legal initiatives has not been preserved. But it should be beyond doubt that many measures, such as the law forcing the praetors to abide by their own edicts or the restriction of the magistrates’ right to observe the omina, could be perfectly legitimized as remedies for the bad habits of the nobility, as indeed C. Gracchus had already done.86 In the long term, this strategy had some success. Whereas the Senate increasingly lost control over public order and was found to be incompetent at solving urgent problems, the Romans preferred to transfer their trust to individual politicians, be they tribunes or consuls, to men such as Clodius, Pompeius and Caesar, who in all likelihood stood up for the needs of those entrusted to their care.87 Accordingly, it seems consistent with this analysis that the ‘popular’ speeches also exhibit a perception of the state that differs from the worldview of the optimates. Naturally, even here the res publica represents the allembracing community, but this community is not configured by the Senate and its obedient dependents as forming a unanimous unity, but by a plurality of different groups, each with its own specifics, problems, interests and needs.88 To legitimize the dignity of these specific groups and the justification of their interests within the context of res publica, mostly designated as commodum, was always one of the essential concerns of popular politicians.89 But the former social balance, in which the different groups existed with each other, has now tilted in favour of the unjustified dominance of the nobility and has to be reconstituted (or restored). The semantics of institutions and values in the ‘popular’ speeches has to be seen in the context of this overall perception of the res publica as a flexible and complex social configuration. Whereas both were referred to as catchwords in the optimate speeches, without any deeper explanation, in their popular counterparts the established institutions and values were debated in many ways. They were questioned with regard to their functionality and accompanied by proposals of how to improve this. Sometimes there are general discussions of what can be done to restore the former efficiency of the institutions, now severely damaged, and of how larger parts of the population can be supported to obtain equal access to the 86 87 88

89

C. Gracchus ORF4 48 F48 (= Gell. NA 10.3.2). Vanderbroek 1987: 171 appropriately called this phenomenon the ‘rise of public clientelae’. See e.g. Ti. Gracchus’ speech on the agrarian law: ORF4 34 F13–14 (= Plut. Ti. Gracch. 9.4; App. B Civ. 1.9); or Macer’s speech for the full restitution of the tribunate, where he warns his audience against sharing in the military adventures of the nobility, because only the nobility gains glory and booty from them, whereas the soldiers will only lose their lives: Sall. Hist. 3 F48.17–19M. Hellegouarc’h 1972: 556.

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institutions again. Moreover, many traditional values, established as rhetorical set-phrases in aristocratic oratory for the citizens, such as ‘your imperia’ or ‘your prouinciae’, were challenged for their credibility and unmasked as hypocrisy, without any real content.90 In consequence, a somewhat ambivalent interpretation of the evidence becomes plausible: on the one hand, the traditional values and institutions remained without alternative; they were valid and were never challenged in total by any of the political groups. On the other hand, the enduring validity of these traditions was inappropriate for creating political orientations, much less compromise: they could not even cover over the fundamental differences between the Romans, which were expressed in surprisingly different interpretations of the traditional values. The disputes thus run on several levels.

Political Matters at Stake The first political matter at stake was the assessment of political initiatives, events or politicians. For example, was the law for the reduction of grain prices that the tribune C. Curiatius proposed in 138 bc useless (minime utilis), as its opponent, the consul P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio claimed, or did it pertain to the requirements of the Roman people (commoda populi Romani), as Curiatius maintained?91 Were the Gracchi guilty of having caused riots and revolution, and even the ultimate downfall of the res publica, by their initiatives, as their optimate enemies (among them Cicero) maintained, or were their deeds appropriate and necessary because of the greed of the nobility, as a tradition preserved by Sallust stated?92 Was Sulla rightly praised for having stabilized the staggering res publica again, or was he correctly charged with being one of the worst criminals?93 And as for Cicero himself, was he really committed to supporting unanimity within the citizenship, or was his violent treatment of the Catilinarian conspirators in particular responsible for splitting the citizenry, pushing them into a renewed stasis that had just now been overcome after the difficult years of Sulla’s dictatorship (thus a tradition preserved in Cassius Dio)? Should he be blamed for being a suppressor of liberty instead of being praised as its defender?94 90 92

93 94

Sall. Iug. 31.25. 91 Val. Max. 3.7.3. Cic. Har. resp. 41; Rep. 1.31, 2.49; Leg. agr. 2.10, 81; Sest. 103–5; Off. 2.72; Cat. 1.4; Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 2.11.2; Sall. Iug. 31.6–8, 42.1–4; cf. Akar 2013: 125–37. Sall. Hist. 1 F77.5, 10, 13–15M; Asc. 62–4C; Sall. Hist. 1 F55.2, 6, 9, 17, 24–6M; Akar 2013: 200–35. Akar 2013: 279–300.

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This debate went hand in hand with a dispute about the notion of terms and concepts, as, for example, the debates on the terms maiestas and libertas may prove. The term maiestas has a long history in Roman thinking, came with religious underpinnings and is located in close proximity to auctoritas and magnitudo, sublimitas and dignitas, designating superiority, magnitude, height, dignity or overall pre-eminence.95 Attested from the beginnings of Latin literature with different coexisting denotations such as the majesty of the gods, of the Senate, of the populus (e.g. in matters of foreign policy) and its magistrates,96 the term is seen to have become controversial in public debate at the end of the second century bc: what group, value or institution mattered most in the Roman Republic and was therefore respected above all, the Senate, the aristocratic magistrates or the people? And it may not be an accident that the tribune L. Appuleius Saturninus in 103 bc fixed, for the first time, a defined aspect of this maiestas in a law – the maiestas populi Romani – soon followed by his colleague Varius Severus Hybrida in the 90s bc.97 What was at stake may be illustrated by an example given in the Rhetorica ad Herennium, written by an unknown author in the 80s bc: cum definitione utemur, primum adferemus breuem uocabuli definitionem, hoc modo ‘maiestatem is minuit, qui ea tollit, ex quibus rebus ciuitatis amplitudo constat. quae sunt ea, Q. Capio? suffragia, magistratus. nempe igitur tu et populum suffragio et magistratum consilio priuasti, cum pontes disturbasti.’ item ex contrario: ‘maiestatem is minuit, qui amplitudinem ciuitatis detrimento aficit. ego non afeci, sed prohibui detrimento: aerarium enim conseruaui, libidini malorum restiti, maiestatem omnem interire non passus sum.’ primum igitur uocabuli sententia breuiter et ad utilitatem adcommodate causae describitur; deinde factum nostrum cum uerbi descriptione coniungetur; deinde contrariae descriptionis ratio refelletur, si aut falsa erit aut inutilis aut turpis aut iniuriosa: id quod ex iuris partibus sumetur de iuridiciali absoluta, de qua iam loquemur.98 (Auct. ad Her. 2.17) 95 97 98

96 Hellegouarc’h 1972: 314–20. Dietzfelbinger TLL s.v. maiestas: 152–8. Drexler 1956; Gaudemet 1964: 699–709; Gundel 1963; Seager 2001: 143–53. Trans. Caplan 1954: ‘When we deal with the issue of definition, we shall first briefly define the term in question, as follows: “He impairs the sovereign majesty of the state who destroys the elements constituting its dignity. What are these, Quintus Caepio? The suffrage of the people and the counsel of the magistracy. No doubt, then, in demolishing the bridges of the Comitium, you have deprived the people of their suffrage and the magistracy of their counselling.” Likewise, in reply: “He impairs the sovereign majesty of the state who inflicts damage upon its dignity. I have not inflicted, but rather prevented, damage, for I have saved the Treasury, resisted the licence of wicked men, and kept the majesty of the state from perishing utterly.” Thus the meaning of the term is first explained briefly, and adapted to the advantage of our cause; then we shall connect our conduct with the explanation of the term; finally, the principle underlying the contrary definition will be refuted, as being false, inexpedient, disgraceful, or harmful – and here we shall borrow our means from the departments of law treated under the absolute juridical issue, which I shall soon discuss.’

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The maiestas debate over the following years led to several more heated battles.99 For Cicero, the solution of this dilemma was quite simple: he took it for granted, of course, that the maiestas populi was a significant value in the res publica, a good that is always to be maintained and preserved. But, as he declared, the Roman people had delegated its power to the magistrates: therefore, it was the maiestas of the Senate and the magistrates that counted most.100 A comparable difference could be noticed in the value of libertas. Jochen Bleicken actually speaks of ‘two libertates’.101 The differences depended on how the respective groups perceived their own liberty, corresponding to their status and the particular dangers they feared. For the Senate, the continuation of their hitherto unlimited freedom of political action was the most precious item, and for them, this was the real essence of res publica. Therefore, liberty for them meant the preservation of the existing condition against the real or presumed threat of the rule of one powerful single individual.102 For most of the other citizens, the damage to their personal liberty was much more real and had already occurred. It consisted, for example, of numerous transgressions against personal inviolability, committed under the pretext of a senatus consultum ultimum, or as part of aristocratic despotism against the right of provocatio. Another danger was the loss of property, for instance, as part of the Sullan policy of supplying land to his veterans, which led to the expulsion of many Romans, or the impediment to full voting rights of many Italians or the countless political manipulations by the nobility that were aimed at controlling the political process in the interests of the optimates.103 The notion of liberty in the popular sense, therefore, referred to an improvement of the deplorable conditions in which the majority lived: this meant reinforcing former legal security by abolishing the arbitrary killing of Roman citizens without trial, rolling back property confiscations, inscribing the Italians into all voting districts and reducing the opportunities for aristocrats to manipulate political procedures. It is not surprising that a further debate on the notion of aequa libertas (‘equal rights’) was circulating just around this question: was it sufficient for all citizens, as the optimates maintained, to be equal according to the laws and to be entitled to vote, because liberty has to be split according to grades of dignity, or was 99

100 103

Auct. ad. Her. 2.17. See the somewhat different case of C. Cornelius: Cic. Vat. 5; Asc. 59C; Bleicken 1975: 447. Cic. Inv. rhet. 2.53. 101 Bleicken 1962: 13. 102 Cf. Tiersch 2015: 27–49. Arena 2012: 139.

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it necessary, as their opponents underlined, also to have the right to be elected in order to defend effectively the libertas of the people?104 What these divided notions of liberty meant in reality is indicated by an episode from the time immediately after the assassination of Julius Caesar. M. Iunius Brutus, having just committed the murder, convoked a public contio to communicate his deed to the Roman people as an expression of libertas and the restitution of the former res publica. But his hopes were in vain. Instead of applauding enthusiastically after his blazing speech, the Roman audience kept silent with horror, because with the murder of Julius Caesar, perceived by them as a protector of the people against the arrogance of the Senate, their hopes had vanished. The liberty of the nobilis Brutus was no longer theirs.105 A further debate circulated around the ultimate aims of politics, often originating out of concrete problems but achieving more primary significance. Florus attests, for example, that those who proposed and supported land distributions did so by claiming that nothing could be fairer (iustum) than that the commons should receive from the Senate what was really their own, because they and their forefathers were involved in conquering this land.106 They adopted a similar argument in support of corn legislation, which, from their point of view, was aequum: what could be more just than that people in need should be maintained from their own treasury?107 Cicero and many of his fellows, however, represented a fundamentally different worldview. Deliberating on the benefit of agrarian laws, for example, Cicero in his treatise De officiis strictly argued against those measures: deinde aequitatem, quae tollitur omnis, si habere suum cuique non licet. id enim est proprium, ut supra dixi, ciuitatis atque urbis, ut sit libera et non sollicita suae rei cuiusque custodia . . . quam autem habet aequitatem, ut agrum multis annis aut etiam saeculis ante possessum qui nullum habuit habeat, qui autem habuit amittat?108 (Cic. Off. 2.78–9)

Cicero admits that the land in question used to be a common good, but this was the nature of every property that has changed its status in the 104

105 107

108

Cato ORF4 8 F252 (= Fest. p. 313.2L); Scipio ORF4 21 F32 (= Isid. Etym. 2.21.4); Cic. Rep. 1.47; Cogitore 2010: 64–9; Arena 2012: 142. See also Wirzubski 1950. App. B Civ. 2.121; Dio Cass. 44.21; cf. Tiersch 2009: 66. 106 Florus 2.1.2; Arena 2012: 150. Cf. App. B Civ. 1.10; Plut. Ti. Gracch. 9.5; Sall. Hist. 3 F34.17, 28M, with similar arguments, pointing to the existence of a particular tradition of thinking. Trans. Arena 2012: 145: ‘They destroy fairness [aequitas] which is utterly subverted, if everyone may not keep that which is his. For, as I said above, it is the peculiar function of the res publica and the city to guarantee to every man the free and undisturbed control of his possessions . . . and how is it fair [aequitas] that a man who never had any should take possession of Lands that had been owned for many years or even generations, and he who had them before should lose them.’

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meantime. The duty of the responsible statesman was to preserve the actual state undiminished.109 Cicero even went so far as to allege that the proponents of agrarian laws planned a complete wealth equalization by means of redistribution, following the notion of arithmetic equality, whereas in reality the intention was to support veterans by providing them with the means for making a living.110 In this respect it seems consistent that Cicero was also an eager supporter of the tribunician right of veto: ‘It is better’, he commented, ‘that a good measure should fail than that a bad one should be allowed to pass.’111 Considered from this perspective, the dispute was not only about the distribution of land or the revenues of the treasury but rather about the following question: could innovative ideas, presumably implemented to solve urgent troubles, have a chance of being realized after public debates, or should the defence of existing conditions, under the pretext of preserving calm, public order and the mos maiorum, enjoy absolute priority, no matter what unexpected problems should arise on the political horizon? The conflict could thus hardly be more fundamental: was a rebalance of political interests and of the distribution of public revenues negotiable at all between the groups involved, or was a political stalemate the only option? There were, of course, minor political compromises on the part of the Senate in moments of extreme pressure, but public opinion was also shaped by public statements such as that of Bibulus: ‘you will not get this law this year, not even if you all want it’.112 In these increasing tensions we may find the explanation for a fourth level of the debate: evaluative keywords that the nobility and people used to denote the other side. Despite all the harmonizing rhetoric that was normally used in public oratory, designed to stress the connection between an aristocratic magistrate and the Roman citizens, many indicators in the course of the first century bc point to recriminations, thus revealing deteriorating relationships and mutual suspicions. Some of the terms used were shared by both sides. Competing politicians often accused each other of planning to establish a regnum or a dominatio or of being a tyrannus, and rival groups complained of being subjected to slavery by their opponents.113 But there were also semantics specific to the Senate and 109

110 112 113

Cic. Off. 1.21, 51, 2.73, 3.42; Arena 2012: 155. On Cicero’s strongly held belief that the state’s prime function was to guarantee private property, see Garnsey 2007: 111–18 and Straumann 2016: 169–90. 111 Cic. Rep. 1.49; Off. 2.78; Arena 2012: 143. Cic. Leg. 3.42.1; Arena 2012: 129. Dio Cass. 48.4.3. Cic. Leg. 33.24; Rab. perd. 13–15; Dom. 24, 91, 102; Sest. 103; Har. resp. 41; Sall. Hist. 1 F77.3, 6M; 3 F48.1, 11, 13, 16M; Iug. 31.2, 9–11, 13, 20, 22.

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the people, respectively. Among them could be counted aristocratic complaints that the people would confuse libertas with lenitas because of their desire for grain laws. Other sources indicate a popular tradition contrasting the clementia populi with the saeuitia and crudelitas of the optimates, thanks to their habit of not compromising and their reckless prosecution of opponents and their adherents.114 The crucial point here, as Valentina Arena has correctly stressed in her recent book on libertas, is that popularis or optimate notions were not to be equated with philosophical schools or the political programmes of individual politicians; rather, they reveal the intellectual and mental traditions of a broader public, conceptions and beliefs that were evolving in public opinion via continuous debate.115 Politicians could in fact adopt this set of surprisingly homogeneous referents of political values as and when they deemed them most appropriate and influence this discourse, but none of them could exclusively dominate the debate, as Clodius as well as Cicero had to realize. Of course, they could play with words, but the words themselves had a much older semantic history, shaped by the everyday language that every politician had to take into account. Therefore, the question of whether it is possible to determine semantic differences between specific groups, intellectual traditions or political programmes (although the categories that have usually been applied to designate them are not used with sharp distinction by our sources) must now be raised from a new perspective. This may likewise clarify the problem of the optimates and populares. We must therefore return to the thesis of Maggie Robb regarding these two categories. Robb notes correctly that the competing political forces in the Late Roman Republic were not indiscriminately designated by these terms in contemporary sources. Sallust does not use categories such as optimates and populares at all, while Livy employs them for characterizing group conflicts. Even Caesar never speaks of optimates. But Cicero has to be regarded as the most remarkable case. He uses especially the term populares, but in a rather contradictory manner: for example, his claim that the populares, whom he normally accuses of posing the greatest threat to the res publica and the Senate, are not necessarily in fundamental opposition to the Roman Senate. From these correct observations Robb draws the conclusion that the terms populares and optimates are not appropriate for distinguishing the antagonistic forces prevailing in this period. She argues in favour of using the term seditiosi instead to designate the opponents of the Senate because 114

Flamerie de Lachapelle 2011: 22–30.

115

Arena 2012: 116.

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this denomination is used by several sources and manifests the widely accepted authority of the Senate to represent the interests of the res publica and its citizens.116 However, it must be objected against this perspective that it closely reproduces the position of the conservative aristocrats who had obstructed political initiatives and their initiators with strict determination. The negative semantics of the term seditiosi bears witness to this fact, declaring the maintenance of the political order and the authority of its representative forces to be the only legitimate political aim. Moreover, the phenomenon of an increasing political disintegration, a mutual alienation, is mentioned in all sources, even when they disagree on the causes or the persons responsible for it. Maybe it is not astonishing that the sources do not use the terms optimates and populares with strict consistency because they were not party labels in the modern sense but were descriptive and evaluative language used according to their own agendas. By contrast, Robb rightly underlines that the denomination populares in particular retains an enormous importance in the political language of Republican Rome, independently of specific sources. Therefore, the question has to be asked: why was the importance of both terms so obvious, and how could they be interpreted?117 How could Roman authors play with the word populares and its semantics? What were their interests in applying it? Can terms such as optimates and populares possibly still provide evidence for the political tensions in the Late Roman Republic, albeit in a form which must still be analysed? Let me begin with the term optimates, which occurs rather seldom in the sources, as Robb correctly stressed.118 I completely agree with her observation. It remains true even if the term boni is added, which mostly pertains to the same phenomenon. This rarity seems perfectly plausible, but this is not because the term does not denote a specific grouping but because it proves to be disadvantageous for the purposes of public communication, especially for any attempts at substantiating senatorial claims to lead the res publica for the best of all. On the one hand, the term optimates/boni represents an elitist inner-group designation, a self-perception that comprises excellence, higher social and possibly moral qualities, and that marked off the foundations for any senatorial claims of superiority.119 116 119

118 Robb 2010: 164. 117 Cf. in more detail Tiersch (forthcoming). Robb 2010: 95. Cf. Strasburger RE s.v. optimates; Hellegouarc’h 1972: 501; Enn. Trag. 284: quae Corinthum arcem altam habebant | matronae opulentae, optimates (‘rich and noble women, who lived in Corinth, lofty citadel’); Serv. Aen. 4.682; Cic. Har. resp. 40, 54; Inu. 2.52; Rep. 1.42, 50, 55, 65, 69, 2.23; Leg. 2.30, 3.10, 33; Tusc. 1.108; Flac. 54, 58; Livy, 4.9.8, 11, 10.18.8, 24.2.8, 3.9, 23.10, 32.3, Nep. Alcib. 5.3; Phoc. 3.1.

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On the other hand, however, it stood for a limited, even enclosed circle and could by its public use lend credence to known allegations that the Senate was an assembly of haughty aristocrats, a self-interested factio paucorum whose belief in their own superiority was simply inappropriate. Moreover, using this term implied the acceptance of the assessments connected with it, which is why Sallust and Caesar avoided it completely.120 Other sources openly challenged this positive semantics, for instance, the allegation of C. Sempronius Gracchus against the murderers of his brother Tiberius: the bad ones (improbi) had killed his good (bonus) brother.121 Therefore, possible alternative ways of communicating the authoritative role of the Senate persuasively might either be found in exaggerating the number of the optimates, seemingly integrating wider strata of the Roman population to broaden their importance (as Cicero had attempted in his Sestiana), or in using more neutral terms such as senatus in public oratory.122 Optimates and senatus more or less meant the same, but both terms bore a different semantics and consequently a different message; it depended on the audience which term should be preferred.123 An even more interesting case is offered by the term populares. In its fundamental sense, the term has a significance that is different from the term optimates. It denotes, from very early times onwards, primarily a quality: the belonging (of persons, institutions or things) to the group of populus, bearing the basic sense of ‘familiar’, ‘close’, ‘public’ or ‘common’. Later on, probably from the second half of the second century bc, the term acquired an extended semantics, denoting the popular behaviour of a politician or the popular significance of a measure in relation to the people.124 Maybe this is one reason why Sallust, who frequently gives us narratives about groups and their interactions, seldom uses this term, whereas, for example, Cicero, who was mostly speaking about the

120 121

122 123 124

Hellegouarc’h 1972: 507; Hanell 1945: 266. C. Gracchus: ORF4 48 F17 (= Char. p. 313.19B): pessimi Tiberium fratrem meum optimum interfecerunt (the worst men killed my most excellent brother). Hellegouarc’h 1972: 492; cf. Cic. Off. 1.124; Rab. perd. 3; Sest. 21, 103; Har. resp. 60. Hellegouarc’h 1972: 496–505. Plaut. Amph. 193: [sc. dux] praeda . . . adfecit populares suos (‘the general has provided his countrymen with booty’); Naev. Carm. F42: [sc. milites nolunt] cum stupro redire ad suos popularis (‘soldiers do not wish to return with disgrace to their fellow countrymen’); Cato Or. F42: inspectantibus popularibus suis (‘with their countrymen looking on’); Cic. Att. 10.1.2 (SB 190): Solonis, popularis tui (‘Solon, your compatriot’); Livy, 25.41.2: Numidae nuntiantes [sc. Marcello] populares suos . . . quieturos in pugna (‘The Numidians announced to Marcellus that their comrades would be inactive during the fight’); Hellegouarc’h 1972: 518–52.

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behaviour of individual politicians, made frequent use of it, acknowledging the wide acceptance of this category.125 But right here was one essential problem for Cicero. The word popularis has a long tradition in Roman public discourse, and it was on balance charged with a positive meaning, as ‘close to’ or ‘friendly towards the people’ or ‘on behalf of the interests of the people’. This is established by the large number of sources collected in Yelena Baraz’s TLL entry for popularis; the sources given by Maggie Robb, which are less partial than Cicero, point in the same direction.126 In a community that always referred to its legitimacy as a res publica, a common affair, the label senatus populusque Romanus was of great significance, and populus was a frequent keyword in public oratory. How a politician behaved towards the people was therefore essential for his political legitimacy. To be charged with being an enemy of the Roman people was dangerous for any further career. This criterion became part of the political agenda from the time of the Gracchi and acquired further semantic sharpness, as several attacks on individual politicians and the Senate as a whole prove.127 Cicero’s juggling with the different significances of the word popularis is thus to be seen in the context of this heated political debate, in which the Senate had to face a gradual loss of public acceptance, and some opposing politicians, sometimes deeply revered by the Romans, advertised their initiatives with the argument that they were for the well-being of the people (commoda populi Romani).128 Cicero, however, during his whole political career tried to enhance the Senate’s claim to act on behalf of all, and he mobilized his full rhetorical mastery to find the right arguments. The use Cicero made of the word popularis was 125 126

127

128

Robb 2010: 182–4 with the relevant evidence. Cf. Livy, 6.20.3: consensu opprimi popularem uirum, quod primus a patribus ad plebem defecisset (‘a general conspiracy to put down the people’s friend because he had been the first to forsake the patricians for the plebs’); 2.24.3: ingenium magis populare erat (‘his character appealed more to the people’); 6.11.7: [sc. M. Manlius Capitolinus] primus omnium ex patribus popularis factus (‘M. Manlius Capitolinus was the first of all the patricians to become a friend of the people’); Lucan. 6.795: popularia nomina, Drusos (‘Drusus, people-friendly name’); 7.694: Pompei nomen, populare per orbem (‘the name of Pompey, popular the world over’); Livy, 3.44.7: Vergini patris sponsique Icili populare nomen celebrabatur (‘the names of Verginius her father and Icilius her fiancé were popular and celebrated’). Cf. particularly the speeches given by Sallust, such as the speech of the tribune C. Memmius in 111 bc (Sall. Iug. 31) or the speech delivered by the tribune C. Licinius Macer in 73 bc (Sall. Hist. 3 F48M). Val. Max. 3.7.3 (C. Curiatius); C. Gracchus ORF4 48 F50–1 (= Gell. NA 9.14.16): ea luxurii causa aiunt institui; non est ea luxuries, quae necessario parentur uitae causa (‘they say that those measures were taken because of luxury; whatever is needed to sustain life is not luxury’).

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therefore not unclear or contradictory at all but has to be assessed as a very apposite, almost desperate fight against a strong trend in public opinion which asserted that Cicero and his fellows could not deserve the positive label popularis.129 His fight with and for the term popularis has to be comprehended as a fight to regain interpretive dominance over this politically essential word, and Cicero’s position here was a rather defensive one. Hence, his seemingly contradictory strategies must be interpreted in relation to the question, ‘what was he fighting for and against?’ Here Robb’s observation that Cicero applies the term populares in an ambivalent way hits the point.130 What does Cicero’s strategy imply? On the one hand, he discredited politicians who (according to the testimony of our sources) had the public reputation of being popularis – men such as the Gracchi, Saturninus, Cinna and Clodius – with the argument that their real objectives were not the well-being of people and state but the increase of their private power to the point where they could establish a tyranny.131 Cicero vilified them personally, depreciating the quantity of their supporters and the value of their respective political aims; in a word, he did everything to deny the label of popularis to these politicians and to everything that was connected with them.132 The orator certainly differentiated between the objects of his slanders, but even here a certain pattern can be detected: it was easy, for example, to judge the Gracchi somewhat more favourably, because they had been dead for a long time and thus could serve as a positively connoted example in the collective memory, to

129

130 131

132

Especially illuminating are the attacks waged by the tribune P. Clodius against Cicero as a ‘traitor’ to libertas, referring to his behaviour against the adherents of Catiline. See Nippel 1988: 116–23. Robb 2010: 145. Cic. Leg. agr. 2.10: neque enim, Quirites, illud uobis iucundum aut populare debet uideri (‘for neither, Citizens, ought it to appear pleasant or popular’); in an ironic vein, Cic. Leg. agr. 2.15; Rab. perd. 12: popularis uero tribunus pl., custos defensorque iuris et libertatis! (‘what a friend of the people is the tribune, guardian and defender of right and liberty!’); Clu. 113: illa . . . omnia Quinctiana . . . turbulenta, popularia, seditiosa iudicia fuerunt (‘all those Quinctian trials were rowdy, demagogic, seditious’); Clu. 94: hic tribunus plebis . . . non modo non seditiosus, sed etiam seditiosis aduersarius, ille autem acerbus, criminosus, popularis homo ac turbulentus (‘this tribune was not only not seditious, but an opponent of the seditious; by contrast, that one was a bitter, slanderous, vulgar and violent man’); cf. Rab. perd. 13; Sest. 104: ut popularis cupiditas a consilio principum dissideret (‘that the desires of the people differed from the advice of the leading men’); Sest. 141: propositis tot exemplis iracundiae leuitatisque popularis (‘having before them so many examples of the rage and fickleness of the people’); Clu. 93: contiones cotidianas seditiose ac populariter concitatas (‘daily public meetings stirred seditiously and demagogically’); Clu. 134: inuidiae populariter excitatae (‘suspicion aroused among the people’). See the masterly book by Achard 1981, which deconstructs the set of refined strategies used by Cicero to denounce his popular enemies.

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underline the even greater wickedness of the actual, living populares such as Clodius.133 On the other hand, against this dark picture of the damaging, tyrannical, greedy politician, the ‘false’ popularis, Cicero set the positive, alternative ideal of the real popularis, embodied in himself and his adherents. This type of a popularis never proposed useless legal initiatives such as agrarian laws, which were devastating for the treasury and for the public order, nor would he try to push the state into political turmoil, turning everything upside down, but was instead eager to secure political tranquillity and stability together with all the boni.134 Therefore, Cicero claimed, it was not only unnecessary for a popular politician to lapse into inimical relations with the Senate, but such an attitude unmasked the false popularis, who was only interested in sowing discord and destruction to the disadvantage of all Romans.135 In Cicero’s construction, there was simply no difference between optimates and populares, not because there was none in reality and public opinion but only because this orator was very eager to downplay the distinction in order to preserve the authority of the Senate as the head of the res publica and the guardian of the people’s interests. The most urgent concern of populares and optimates alike must be, according to Cicero, to preserve the res publica and its institutions against any changes. This is the same abstract conception as that revealed in the 133

134

135

Cic. Sest. 105; Leg. agr. 1.25 on Rullus: insidias, quae ipsi populo Romano a popularibus tribunis plebis fiant, ostendero (‘I will show the trap that is laid by the popular tribunes for the Roman people itself ’); Leg. agr. 2.7: [sc. nonnulli] cum populi . . . commoda . . . impediunt, oratione adsequi uolunt, ut populares esse uideantur (‘some, while they hinder the interests of the people, wish to achieve through their speeches that they may appear to be friends of the people’); Dom. 77: maioribus nostris, qui non ficte et fallaciter populares, sed uere et sapienter fuerunt (‘our ancestors, who were friends of the people not falsely or mendaciously, but truly and wisely’); Dom. 24: C. Gracchus qui unus maxime popularis fuit (C. Gracchus, who alone was most devoted to the people); Dom. 77: [sc. Clodius] ubi tu te popularem, nisi cum populo fecisti [sc. Bonae Deae sacris adfuisti], potes dicere? (‘what act can you say was in the people’s interest, except your “sacrifice” [illicit attendance at the rites of Bona Dea] on the people’s behalf?’); Phil. 8.19: Calene . . . ante deterrere te, ne popularis esses, non poteramus; exorare nunc, ut sis popularis, non possumus (‘Calenus, previously we could not deter you from being a “people’s friend”, now we cannot implore you to be a “people’s friend”’); Sest. 37 positively on Saturninus: tribuno plebis . . . in causa populari si non moderate, at certe populariter abstinenterque uersato (‘a tribune . . . who acted in the popular cause if not with moderation, at least in accordance with the people’s wishes and selflessly’). Cic. Dom. 77: qui non ficte et fallaciter popularis, sed uere et sapienter fuerunt (who were friends of the people not falsely or mendaciously, but truly and wisely); Sull. 25: populi utilitati magis consulere quam uoluntati (to be more concerned about the people’s interests than about their wishes); Brut. 97: homo non liberalitate ut alii, sed ipsa tristitia et seueritate popularis (a man not popular for this generosity, like other men, but for his very harshness and severity) (all translations by author and editors); similarly, Cic. Rep. 2.54; Har. resp. 43; Leg agr. 1.23, 2.102; Off. 2.78; Sest. 105, 109, 113–14, 119; Rab. perd. 12–15; Phil. 1.21, 37, 7.4; cf. Seager 1972b: 334. E.g. Cic. Sest. 98–100; cf. Sall. Hist. 1 F77M, for the speech of L. Marcius Philippus.

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rhetoric of a known optimate, L. Marcius Philippus.136 It was Cicero’s attempt to completely redefine the long-established term popularis and its semantics. However, this attempt met its limits not only in public opinion and the successful efforts of his political enemies to debunk Cicero as a traitor to liberty and brand him the most unpopular politician Rome had ever seen but also in Cicero’s own political actions, above all in connection with the Catilinarian conspiracy. Therefore, in addition to his redefinition of the term popularis, Cicero tried to downplay the significance of the word in order to minimize its widespread positive semantics and to demonstrate that it was rather negligible for the well-being of the Roman people and in the political vocabulary of Rome. Ciceronian statements such as the following may be integrated into this context: ‘a tribune in this year acted most popularly because he did not do anything in his year of office’ or ‘the most popular manner is now to be not popular at all’.137 But in the end this strategy did not prove to be effective, and Cicero’s recourse to the term popularis in the Philippic speeches seems to be a clear indicator that a politician had to communicate his affectionate attitude towards the populus if he wanted to mobilize strong majorities in the Roman Republic.138 And it is especially this desperate fight of Cicero for the redefinition and downplaying of the term popularis against an obviously strong public opinion that he could not dominate which underlines the importance of this term and of the semantic battles between optimates and populares in the Late Roman Republic.

Summary My basic question was whether there were semantic battles in the Late Roman Republic, that is to say, not only battles with words but battles for words. This question can be answered in the affirmative at the end of this analysis, even if the range of semantic differences cannot be compared with modern times. However, the growing importance of group interests and factual agendas left visible traces in the political language of this time. Especially politicians who planned to propose laws against the resistance of the majority of the Senate as the traditional guardian of mos maiorum were forced to justify their initiatives elaborately. My aim was to prove that in spite of shared general values such as libertas, res publica and virtus, these values offered an enormous scope for different interpretations and were in 136

Cf. Cic. Leg. agr. 2.6–8.

137

Cic. Sest. 114.

138

Cic. Phil. 1.39, 5.49.

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fact filled with deeply opposing meanings by political opponents. These different semantics gave an impression of what hopes and fears affected various groups of the Roman population. Actually, Achard’s characterization of deux éloquences as an indicator for optimates and populares has been confirmed, even if complexities and strategies of adaptation have to be taken into consideration.139 The heterogeneous semantics that shaped the terms populares and optimates proves to be especially illuminating, because it reflects the nature of political conflict during the crisis of the Roman Republic. Whereas the term optimates as a self-designation of the conservative majority of the Senate shows that this group was deeply convinced of their own qualitative superiority and was rather sparingly used, the term populares stood for something completely different. To be acknowledged as popular was highly esteemed, but it was reserved for the judgement of a broad public. It was connected not only with rhetorical strategies but also with political behaviour and initiatives. Therefore, it was more than likely that public opinion could change when the citizens felt that a politician no longer deserved his reputation, as Cicero was to realize after his decisions in the Catilinarian conspiracy. Because this did severe damage to his political image, it is not at all surprising that Cicero thereupon tried to discredit this term and the politicians vested with it. Both terms might thus stand as a symbol for the growing disintegration of the res publica. It may be rewarding for a future analysis to ask what continuities and discontinuities are manifest for the terms designating the leading politicians and their politics during the process of transformation towards the Roman Principate. 139

Achard 1981: 9.

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chapter 3

Political Participation and the Identification of Politicians in the Late Roman Republic Cristina Rosillo-López

The degree of participation of Roman citizens in politics has been the subject of debate over recent decades. Scholars agree that the political elite had to take the Roman people into account to a certain extent, and it is the degree and intensity of that participation that are the real bones of contention. Some scholars claim a symbolic role for the Roman people in politics; necessary for the fulfilment of political life and rituals, their role was nonetheless not decisive.1 At the other extreme, scholars have asserted that the popular presence in politics was determinant: the people voted on laws, magistrates had to conduct their business under the eye of the people and elections were not merely a pretence, since the vote of the plebs could also be decisive, especially in cases in which the vote of the elite was dispersed among various candidates.2 Scholars have tried to identify ways to measure the degree of involvement in politics. For instance, voter turnouts have been employed as a proxy to determine political participation, with attempts made to estimate how many people could vote in the elections, though with different results.3 Mouritsen has gauged voting times for assemblies, taking into account the physical spaces of the Comitium and the Saepta Iulia; no more than 3,000 people could be gathered in the Forum, for instance.4 Jehne has measured the percentage of participation, taking into account the census figures of 70/69 bc, with a maximum of 3.3 per cent of the whole Roman This research was financed by the project ‘Opinión pública y comunicación política en la República Romana (siglos II–I a de C.)’ (2013–43496-P) through the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Spain. 1 Jehne 2000; Mouritsen 2001; Hölkeskamp 2010, 2011b. This trend has also been studied by archaeologists: see Zanker 1988. 2 See Millar 1998: 9 and Yakobson 1999 for the elections, but note that Yakobson 2010: 4 points out that publicity ‘is not necessarily democratic’. Hölkeskamp 2010: 135 and Crawford 2011: 112 assert that openness and democracy should not be confused. 3 Nicolet 1988: 391–401; MacMullen 1980. 4 Mouritsen 2001: 18–37.

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population in the Campus Martius, 1.1 per cent in the Forum and 0.4 per cent in the Comitium.5 However, the state of the sources means that quantification can be unreliable. Qualitative proxies should also be employed to arrive at a conclusion about political involvement, as the rest of this chapter will demonstrate. If we pay attention to the possible political involvement of Roman citizens, we should not neglect its opposite, that is, political apathy. If involvement in politics is estimated, then the degree of political apathy among citizens should also be considered.6 Did people ignore politics? Was political apathy rampant? Political apathy has been described as the degree of interest that people have towards politics, with different scales within this concept. It could be also considered as the degree of psychological engagement in the political process.7 Political apathy is a much-discussed subject, since there is a widespread (and debated) feeling that it has been on the rise during recent decades in Western democracies. First of all, I propose a wider conception of political life for the Late Roman Republic. Voting or attending an assembly is not the only act that defines somebody’s involvement in political life, either in Roman times or today. Casual and sporadic political participation should also be taken into account. In the second and first centuries bc, citizens performed political acts beyond attending assemblies or voting on legislative acts or candidates for magistracies. Circulation of political news, rumours, nicknames and political socialisation are also important political acts, without which the habitual workings of politics could not be successful, since they depend upon each of these factors.8 How can we identify proxies to determine the degree of political apathy in Rome? Modern polling methods measure the degree of apathy by asking, for example, about the amount of time citizens devote to political news, whether they watch or read news, whether they are involved in political associations, the amount of knowledge they have of current political issues or whether they recognise the names of leading politicians.9 Similar questions could also be pondered for Late Republican times. This chapter focuses on just one of the many 5 6 7

8

9

Jehne 2006b: 224; calculations based on Mouritsen 2011: 32. For theoretical considerations on political apathy, see Bennett 1986: 31–59 and DeLuca 1995: 10–11. Bennett 1986: 36–9. Political apathy has been related to non-voting since the first modern studies in the early twentieth century (Bennett 1986: 24–5; relationship refuted 32–3). On this wide interpretation of political life, see Rosillo-López 2017a. On nicknames and popular political culture, see Rosillo-López 2017b. See Bennett 1986: 39–58 on different approaches to measuring political apathy.

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possibilities: were politicians recognisable by their names or by their facial features? This study will focus on post-Sullan politics (after 80 bc) for two reasons: firstly, the availability of sources, and secondly, Sulla’s changes to the Senate and the cursus honorum, which increased the number of elected magistrates and senators, thus enlarging the number of potentially recognisable politicians (see below). It was a mark of pride for a Roman politician to know the names of citizens when he canvassed or went around the city. Cicero decided to remember all the names he could.10 This was apparently one of Crassus’ strengths.11 Almost all candidates, though, were pragmatic enough to realise the impossibility of this feat of memory, exaggerated or not. During the elections, candidates went to the Forum accompanied by a nomenclator, a skilled slave who whispered in their ear the names of those whose hands they were shaking. But did the citizen identify the candidate who was standing before him? Did he know who the magistrate was who spoke in a contio in favour of, or against, a law? If lictors were not around, would he recognise the consuls, urban praetors or tribunes of the year? Would he be aware of their names? Was facial or name recognition a sign of interest in politics? Facial recognition presupposes, at least, that the citizen had been into the Forum and had seen the politician from a relatively close distance at least once. The elite and the plebs shared few other spaces of socialisation. What does this tell us about the degree of political apathy of Roman citizens? To determine whether the people recognised politicians or failed to do so necessarily entails the study of how Roman politicians could make themselves recognisable. The Roman Republican political system is characterised by an intense agonistic model. The number of political posts available diminished as politicians rose to the top, creating a bottleneck. After Sulla’s reforms, every year forty-four politicians entered into office after an election (not taking pro-magistrates into account): two consuls, eight praetors, ten tribunes of the plebs, twenty quaestors and four aediles.12 Every five years two censors were elected. Many of the candidates had never held a magistracy and were new to the political game. Thus, this fierce competition implied that newcomers had to make themselves known beforehand or, if elected, during their term of office to remain in the political game and be elected to other magistracies in the future. Some of them started with the advantage of belonging to a family whose name was 10 12

Plut. Cic. 7.1–2. 11 Plut. Crass. 3.3. The number of praetors and quaestors fluctuated during the Republic.

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already known for its services to the State; the nomen Scipionis, for instance, assured instant recognition, and the glorious deeds of its bearer’s forefathers reflected upon him. Imitation of a glorious forefather’s deeds was one way to ensure instant recognition.13 Reflecting on the future in May 49 bc, Cicero claimed that he would leave his name to his son as an inheritance.14 In 54 bc, M. Aemilius Scaurus was acquitted of provincial corruption, according to Valerius Maximus, because of the memory of his father.15 Cicero complained that his enemy Piso had been elected to a magistracy only because of his glorious name, a bonus of which new men were deprived.16 Some politicians even had more repute than power, as Plutarch claimed of Cato the Younger.17 Even young descendants of glorious and well-known families had to make themselves known and talked about in the city. When surveying the reasons that incited Tiberius Gracchus to draft his agrarian law, Plutarch included a selfish desire to be well known and to differentiate himself from the other tribunes.18 Securing the spotlight for a long period was not easy to do. Cicero recommended that a defendant for whom he was pleading in a trial should use his opportunity, for the following day he would be a nobody.19 The Roman Republic was a political system that involved a certain degree of direct contact between politicians and citizens. Roman citizens would have been familiar with the names and faces of politicians through socialisation and political sociability. Political business was mainly conducted in the Forum, which was also the centre of economic and financial life, ensuring that many people would pass through and move around that space. Magistrates were surrounded by lictores in different numbers according to the magistracy. Apparitores (‘civil servants’) also hovered around them.20 Candidates were surrounded by throngs of people, making their presence evident, and they wore striking white togae, which proclaimed their status. Contiones were a useful means for politicians to present themselves before the people and announce their names, also allowing the audience to identify them in the future. When Octavian arrived in Rome in May 44 bc, L. Antonius, a tribune of the plebs, summoned a contio to present him publicly as the legal heir of Caesar.21 It was a necessary 13 15 16 17 20

Richardson 2012. 14 Cic. Fam. 2.16.5 (SB 154). Val. Max. 8.1.10. On the trial, cf. Alexander 1990: 143–4; no. 295. Cic. Pis. 2. See van der Blom 2010 on the alternative strategy of a homo nouus. Plut. Crass. 7.7. 18 Plut. Ti. Gracch. 8.6. 19 Plut. Cic. 26.8. On apparitores, see Purcell 1983. 21 Cic. Att. 14.21.4 (SB 375), 15.2.2 (SB 379).

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move, since Octavian’s young age meant that he had not held any magistracies and was unknown. In one of the most interesting cases of misidentification (more on this later), the poet Helvius Cinna was mistaken for Lucius Cornelius Cinna, one of the murderers of Caesar, and was put to death by a crowd of people. In the confusing hours and days that followed the dictator’s death, avenging partisans of Caesar clearly knew that a Cinna had spoken in a contio against Caesar just the previous day.22 The contio was summoned by one or more heralds (praeco, praecones), who went through the streets of the city announcing the place for the meeting.23 Would they also have mentioned who convoked it and who was going to speak at it? Or did the praeco announce these names when the meeting began? In fact, the number of people who attended a contio also depended on the interest of the topic and on the speaker. In any case, people would attend the contiones of famous or infamous politicians, those who were well known. Once the contio had started, speakers were summoned and were called upon by name, probably spoken out loud so that the public would know who was speaking and could identify him afterwards. Gaius Gracchus wanted to call on his political enemy Lucius Calpurnius Piso, named Frugi for his virtue and integrity.24 His uiator, trying to avoid a mistake, requested that Gracchus specify which Piso he was talking about. The tribune resented having to name his adversary by such a complimentary cognomen.25 Unless they had some distinctive features, descriptions of the physical characteristics of politicians would not be of much help in identifying them. Publius Vatinius’s facial swellings and gout made him widely recognisable and were used as a reason to mock and criticise him.26 For the Romans, physical and moral deformities went together.27 Citizens could learn their facial features through surrogates, that is, other people who resembled them, especially if they appeared in public, such as actors. Roman writers loved striking resemblances, as the long 22 23

24 25

26

27

Suet. Iul. 85; Val. Max. 9.9.1; Plut. Caes. 68; Brut. 20; App. B Civ. 2.147; Dio Cass. 44.50. Pina Polo 1989: 87–9. Cf. Livy, 4.32.1 (uici); Dion Hal. Ant. Rom. 4.37.1, 76.4. On the praeco, see Pina Polo 1989: 88–9. On calling enemies at contiones, see Chapter 5. Cic. Font. 39 (123 bc). On this contio, see Pina Polo 1989: App. A, no. 193. A uiator and a lictor had analogous functions, especially those of the tribune of the plebs, since the latter had no lictores at their service (Daremberg and Saglio, s.v. uiator). Cf. Cic. Vat. 4, 39; Sen. Dial. 2.17.3; Macr. Sat. 2.6.1; Plut. Cic. 9.3. Vatinius was the subject of heavy abuse by Cicero and other Romans because of such physical deformities. Cf. Corbeill 1996: 46–55. Corbeill 1996.

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sections devoted by Pliny the Elder and Valerius Maximus to this subject attest.28 Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (RE 354, cos. 138 bc) was called Serapio for his resemblance to an ugly slave of that name.29 It became part of his name and thus figured on the base of an equestrian statue placed in the Capitol.30 Cornelius Scipio Pomponianus (RE 357) was nicknamed Saluitto for his resemblance to a homonymous actor.31 The same thing happened to the consuls Lentulus (Spinther) and Metellus Nepos (Pamphilus), colleagues in the consulship in 57 bc, with two actors who gave them their nicknames.32 Pompeius Strabo was named Menogenes for his likeness to his cook of that name.33 Particularly in the case of actors onstage, they reminded the public of the physical features of the politicians they resembled. Statues represented a way of displaying permanently both the physical features and the names of living politicians, thus constantly making them identifiable to passers-by. In 105 bc, the war against Jugurtha ended. The king surrendered not to the general, Marius, but to Sulla, who was a quaestor. This episode started a bitter political fight between Marius and Sulla, since both claimed to have brought the conflict to its end. Bocchus, King of Numidia, dedicated on the Capitol a gilded group of statues, on which the episode of the surrender was clearly featured, along with Sulla’s presence.34 This group created political debate: Marius felt that it corroborated Sulla’s version of events and took away from him the glory of having concluded the war.35 He thus wanted to have the statues taken down, but he faced opposition to this desire.36 Marius was no stranger to this kind of display, since he had set up two monuments in Rome commemorating his victories, one over Jugurtha and the other over the Cimbri and Teutones.37 Brennan asserts that the erection of the monument was part of Sulla’s early campaign for the consulship.38 It would have been a bold move, since it would remind the citizens constantly of his glory, his name and (probably) his physical appearance. Mackay has highlighted that both Sulla’s and Marius’s monuments were erected in Rome rather than on

28 29 30

31 34 35 37 38

Plin. NH 7.52; Val. Max. 9.14. On physiognomy, see Evans 1935, 1950 and Wardman 1967. Livy, Ep. 55; Val. Max. 9.14.3; Plin. HN 7.54. Cic. Att. 6.1.17 (SB 115). The statue was not of him, since Cicero complained that Scipio Metellus had committed a huge blunder, putting Africanus’ statue over Serapio’s name. Plin. HN 7.54. 32 Plin. HN 7.54; Val. Max. 9.14.4. 33 Plin. HN 7.54; Val. Max. 9.14.2. Plut. Mar. 32; Sull. 6. Cf. Mackay 2000: 162–8; Erkelenz 2001: 155–65, 338–41. Mackay 2000: 166–7. 36 Plut. Sull. 6.1–2. Val. Max. 6.9.14; Suet. Iul. 11. On their location, see Mackay 2000: 164–6. See Brennan 1992: 156 on episode; also Badian 1970: 11–12.

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the site of the victory, since their clear purpose was political prestige before the eyes of the citizens.39 Whereas the statues just mentioned could be seen by all citizens, small terracotta portraits of Roman politicians were clearly aimed at a less affluent audience. Busts in terracotta are relatively common for the Principate but a rarity for the Late Republic.40 Interestingly, all those preserved belong to one of the most popular politicians: Pompey. Four busts are known, although only two are extant nowadays.41 All of them share the same characteristics: they are small (around 12 centimetres high) and are roughly manufactured. Pompey can be identified by his basic features, mainly his tuft, modelled on the feature by which Hellenistic sculptors presented Alexander the Great, the anastole. It seems that the four busts were created from a mould and not freely modelled.42 They represent Pompey in all his power as general.43 On the basis of stylistic criteria, Jucker suggests a dating of the second quarter of the first century bc.44 Walker has dated the Stuttgart busts to around the 60s and 50s bc.45 The most important feature of the busts is their inelaborate construction and the humble material used – terracotta.46 Pompey’s facial features are insinuated, not marked very clearly; only the hairstyle allows recognition of the man portrayed. A rougher style also meant a cheaper price and, thus, that these statues could have been bought and displayed by people of a lower status. These four small busts are the only survivors of a possibly much wider phenomenon from the Late Republic: cheap reproductions of important and popular politicians, to be bought by citizens of non-affluent means. In a letter from the second century ad, Marcus Cornelius Fronto tells his pupil Marcus Aurelius that when promenading around the Forum, he passed by some statues of his student that were being sold: they were badly painted and modelled, but his features could just about still be recognised.47 Similar Imperial busts have been found in situ in lararia or small domestic altars and in tombs, especially in Pompeii.48 The compita or 39

40 42 43 44 46 47

Mackay 2000: 168, n. 21: ‘The point was not merely to make an offering to the gods but to do so where Roman citizens would see it on a regular basis.’ Sulla’s signet ring also commemorated the surrender (reproduced in a coin by his son Faustus: RRC 426/1) so that people would remember it every time he signed a document. 41 Cf. Dahmen 2001 for the Imperial period. Jucker 2006: 42. Jucker 2006: 43 and n. 11. Cf. Jucker 2006: 43–4, who examines the busts in contrast with other representations of Pompey. Jucker 2006: 44–5. 45 Walker and Higgs 2001: 158. A material with a long Italian and Etrurian tradition. See Fejfer 2008: 177–8. 48 Fronto Ep. pp. 66.25–67.4vdH. Jucker 2006: 45.

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crossroads could also represent a likely location, since they constituted an important place of socialisation for the plebs.49 Taking into account Fronto’s comments and the rough mould of the statues, it could be surmised that the buyers did not belong to the elite. If prospective buyers were more likely to belong to a lower class, they were expressing their support and preference for Pompey by owning these busts. Thus, the little statuettes were, in fact, expressions of public opinion and political attachment.50 Names could also circulate around the city, spreading identity in many ways. Euergetism, often expressed though the construction or renewal of public buildings, ensured that the names of the politicians who had paid for them were permanently displayed. The erection of commemorative statues was a useful way to associate a name with prestigious forefathers or family members. Caesar placed himself in the shadow of Marius’s success and on the side of the populares, when he displayed imagines of Marius and the latter’s son publicly during the funeral of his aunt Julia, Marius’ widow.51 Three years later, when aedile in 65 bc, he unexpectedly reerected gilded statues of his uncle Marius at his memorial monument on the Capitol.52 This was the bold move of a young and ambitious man, since all public representations of Marius had been banned by Sulla.53 However, public sympathy for the glorious general had not waned.54 Not all these displays of a politician’s name were aimed at a wide audience. Electoral campaigns were times when candidates were extremely interested in getting citizens to remember their names. For that purpose, they walked around the Forum, shaking hands and greeting people.55 However, not all candidates behaved in manners sanctioned by laws. The lex Tullia de ambitu forbade the provision of banquets for all citizens regardless of their tribes, which allows us to infer that these events were held too frequently.56 Two cups with the names of Catiline and Cato inscribed on them may constitute archaeological remains of such banquets. The first inscription refers to L. Cassius Longinus, praetor in 66 bc, who supported the election of Catiline: ‘Cassius Longinus, who asks for the vote for Catiline’.57 The second mentions another candidate, Cato the Younger: 49 50 52 53 54 56 57

Laurence 1994: 38–50; Marco Simón and Pina Polo 2000; Rosillo-López 2017a: 64–70. See further analysis in Rosillo-López 2017a: 226–9. 51 Plut. Caes. 5.2; Flower 1996: 124. On this monument, see Sehlmeyer 1999: 192–3. On Sulla’s policy of destroying Marius’ monuments and memory, see Stein-Hölkeskamp 2013. Plut. Caes. 6.5; Suet. Iul. 11; Sehlmeyer 1999: 217–18. 55 Yakobson 1999. On this law, see Ferrary 2001 = 2017; and Rosillo-López 2010: 46–7, 60–2. Ed. Panciera 1980: L Casius Longinu(s) quei Catilinae {su}/sufragatur.

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‘M. Cato, who is a candidate for the tribunate of the plebs’.58 These cups were probably offered as gifts at banquets organised in favour of the candidates, so people could bring them home and remember the name of the politician in order to write it down on the day of the election.59 Finally, popular verses ensured the circulation of a name throughout the city. The only problem for the politicians alluded to in such verses is that these were not usually complimentary, so their subjects became infamous instead of famous (more on this later). In summary, the formal and informal systems of Roman politics ensured that politicians had the possibility of displaying their physical features and names in public. Ancient sources did not focus much upon issues of recognition. They were more interested in cases of mistaken identities and not in the recognition of politicians who, of course, provided an interesting subject for their readers. Narratives of misidentification, for instance, flourished during the proscriptions of the Triumvirate, when many members of the political elite went into hiding to escape death.60 In any case, we should take into account the large number (forty-four) of new magistrates every year, which is a considerable number of people to remember and recognise, even for the elite. Recognition of politicians was something gradual that the elite built up slowly throughout their political lives. The struggles and challenges of being identified feature frequently in the accounts of the early political careers of future important figures. For many of them, the great leap forward was to become sufficiently well known to be elected to the first step on the cursus honorum. Once there, recognition by other citizens was easier. The position of military tribune was one of the first possibilities; however, it entailed a problem in that it was a posting outside Rome and Italy.61 Recognition by fellow citizens could be achieved by impressive deeds that would compel fellow soldiers and officers to write home and circulate one’s name. Sertorius’ exploits in the siege and victory at Castulo made his name known in Rome and earned him the quaestorship.62 Marius’ first steps on the cursus honorum provide a key case of the recognition of a politician in his first election, even before joining the army as military tribune. Marius’ facial features were unknown, but the stories

58

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Ed. Panciera 1980: M. Cato quei petit tribun[at]u[m] plebei. Cato decided to canvass for the tribunate in order to counter the actions of another candidate, Metellus Nepos (Plut. Cat. Min. 20. 1–3). Rosillo-López 2010: 64–5. 60 On the narratives of the proscriptions, see Gowing 1992: 247–69. Suolahti 1955. 62 Plut. Sert. 4.1.

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attached to his name and to his achievements made him successful in the elections.63 This system worked even for less junior magistrates. Soldiers in Africa in 148 bc were stunned by Scipio Aemilianus’ military deeds and so informed their families and friends in Rome, thus crafting an effective campaign for his consulship.64 The report of the commissioners sent by the Senate was also highly complimentary.65 It was probably at this moment that the legend appeared of the nomen Scipionis, the providential fate of this family that predestined them always to win in Africa.66 The irregular campaign and the election that ensued have been the subject of much scholarly discussion. Only thirty-seven years old, Scipio Aemilianus aimed at the aedileship, but the citizens elected him to the consulship.67 Astin has pointed out that this was not a surprise for Aemilianus, since he had played an active role in his election.68 Develin, however, dismisses the idea of active propaganda and considers that, in voting for him, Roman public opinion was condemning the way in which the war in Africa was being handled.69 In any case, the letters from Africa were instrumental in creating a climate of public opinion in favour of a man who was not present in Rome but whose name had circulated quickly and had become familiar. Even though Rome was a small city, the number of members of the political elite was not small, with 600 senators after Sulla’s reforms, plus their political non-senatorial friends. Furthermore, the political elite were quite permeable.70 Members were expected to know each other: political business and shared sociability ensured this.71 During the proscriptions, Mark Antony refused to acknowledge any acquaintance with Caesetius Rufus, a senator whose head was presented to him. Valerius Maximus remarks what a haughty attitude this was, not only in not accepting his part in the murder 63 66

67

68 69 70

71

Sall. Iug. 63.3–4. 64 App. Pun. 109; Flor. 1.31.12. 65 App. Pun. 105. Plut. Caes. 52.4–5; Suet. Iul. 59.2; Dio Cass. 42.57.5–58.1. Linderski 1996a: 171, n. 93 = 2007: 159, n. 93; Etcheto 2002: 128–31. Pace Weinstock 1971: 97–8, who places that legend in the times of Africanus maior. One of the main discussion points is whether Scipius Aemilianus announced his professio or candidacy. Develin, who considers that the professio was not compulsory (for other cases, see Develin 1978a: 484–85), suggests that Aemilianus would not have dared to do so and defy the law, since he was not qualified for the consulship (Develin 1978a: 486). Astin 1967: 61–9. Develin 1978a. On the negative climate of public opinion in Rome, see App. Pun. 112. On demographic patterns of senators and political succession, see Hopkins and Burton 1983; on homines noui, see Wiseman 1971. On senatorial sociability, see Rosillo-López 2017a: 42–74.

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but also in stating that he did not know him.72 However, this was an exceptional case, and understandably, members of the elite did not always know or remember all the details of the political lives of their peers. In 149 bc, the Senate embarked upon the Third Punic War. Leaving Rome for the country, Q. Fabius Maximus met on the road P. Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus, who, he remembered, had been quaestor three years earlier. Certain that he was a fellow senator, Fabius Maximus proceeded to explain to him in detail the secret deliberations of the Senate regarding the war.73 However, he forgot that, at the time, such magistrates did not gain automatic entry to the Senate, a measure enacted by Sulla.74 It was the censors who enrolled them as senators, and no censors had held power between 153 and 147 bc. Licinius Crassus was not a member of the Senate, yet Fabius Maximus passed on sensitive information to him. The latter’s honest mistake was easy to make. Certain priuati, newly elected magistrates and ex-magistrates, were allowed to participate in senatorial deliberations before being included in the lectio senatus by the censors.75 In any case, it is important to note that even though Fabius Maximus did not remember that Licinius Crassus was not a senator, he did recollect that he had been one of the eight quaestors (or more, since the numbers were not fixed until Sulla) elected three years before. Not all elite members were so up-to-date with political life. In a wellknown anecdote, which Cicero himself told self-deprecatingly in public, the orator related his return from what he thought had been a muchdiscussed glorious quaestorship in Sicily. At his arrival in Puteoli, he met someone, probably from the fashionable elite (lautissimus), who threw cold water on Cicero’s great expectations. First of all, he ignored the fact that Cicero had been abroad; upon being corrected, he thought he had been in Africa. A second party intervened to point out that Cicero had been quaestor in Syracuse, whereas in fact he had served in Lilybaeum.76 His interlocutors were ignorant not only of the province in which he had served but even of the fact that he had been out of Rome. This funny exchange, or perhaps a similar one, made an impression on Cicero, who tried to avoid leaving the city of Rome throughout the rest of his life: he did not go to a province after his consulate, and he fought with all his might, unsuccessfully, against being sent away as proconsul in 51 bc. 72

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Val. Max. 9.5.4; App. B Civ. 4.29. He was included in the proscriptions because it was alleged that Fulvia, Mark Antony’s wife, coveted his house. He tried to give it to her as a gift when the proscriptions started, but to no avail. 74 Val. Max. 2.2.1a. Rotondi 1912: 330, 353–4, 362. 75 Livy, 23.32.4; Gell. NA 3.18.7. Cic. Planc. 65; Plut. Cic. 6.3–4.

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Even more difficult than recalling somebody’s cursus honorum was to determine his political views. Roman politics worked mainly through the establishment of short-term political allegiances, which made this even harder.77 C. Scribonius Curio became tribune of the plebs in 50 bc after the conviction of Servaeus, tribune of the plebs–elect. When transmitting the last piece of news to Cicero, Caelius commented that Curio inspired people who did not know him with some apprehension, despite his accommodating nature.78 Curio was not an unknown in senatorial circles. His father and grandfather had held important magistracies; Curio pater had publicly declared his discomfort with Caesar’s politics.79 In 59 bc, Curio had galvanised and led the Roman iuuenes against Caesar publicly.80 Caelius was hoping (spero et uolo) that Curio would join the boni against Caesar.81 If, despite being closely acquainted, Caelius was expressing such wishes about Curio’s political views, it is understandable that other people felt that they did not know him. Nevertheless, Curio did not accommodate Caelius’ expectations and ended the year 50 bc working closely with Caesar. If fellow politicians found it hard to define which political views were held by each senator, it was probably harder for the rest of the citizens, whose contact with them was more restricted. Nevertheless, in some cases citizens managed to keep themselves more or less informed about the political backgrounds and connections of Roman politicians. In his autobiography, Sulla blamed his defeat in the praetorship on the people of Rome, who, aware of his close relationship with King Bocchus of Mauretania, preferred him to be an aedile first. The rationale behind this was that the king would provide him with wild African beasts, which would appear in the games at Rome.82 Regardless of whether or not the story was true, it was a plausible explanation. Sulla’s friendship with Bocchus had been displayed in public in the city: as mentioned earlier, the king dedicated on the Capitol a gilded group of statues in which Sulla appeared receiving the surrender of King Jugurtha.83 Such an outstanding monument in the centre of the city would not have passed unnoticed. The few cases in the sources of recognition and misrecognition of Roman politicians attest to the fact that first-rate politicians were widely recognised because their political positions were eminent and they usually appeared constantly in public. 77 80 82 83

Meier 1980: 174–90; Brunt 1988: 36–45. 78 Cic. Fam. 8.4.2 (SB 81). 79 Cic. Brut. 218. Cic. Att. 2.8.1 (SB 28), 2.18.1 (SB 38), 2.19.3 (SB 39). 81 Cic. Fam. 8.4.2 (SB 81). Plut. Sull. 5.1; Keaveney 2005: 28–9. Plut. Mar. 32; Sull. 6. Cf. Mackay 2000: 162–8; Erkelenz 2001: 155–65, 338–41.

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Pompey is, at the same time, a symptomatic and exceptional case. His military exploits made his name widely popular in the city; his triumphs and consulships featured him in public. His political importance and popularity granted him a frequent presence in contiones, but he nevertheless lacked the well-honed negotiating skills of other senators.84 Pompey was physically recognised in the city of Rome, and not only by his political colleagues. As mentioned previously, cheap statuettes of his likeness were probably sold to non-affluent people. Valerius Maximus noted in his section about curious resemblances that two men looked so much like him that people turned their heads to gawk at them.85 It is worth pointing out that people would recognise a Pompey lookalike in the streets. Pompey was also recognised outside the city and not in the best circumstances or dressed in distinguished attire. After the defeat at Pharsalus, Pompey escaped with a few trusted friends in a small boat, in which they drifted until rescued by a merchant ship. Peticius, the master of the vessel, knew him by sight; although they were not acquainted, he recognised the general instantly.86 Amela Valverde has suggested that Peticius would have met Pompey when the latter was in charge of the cura annonae, the grain supply.87 In any case, Pompey was sufficiently well known by both name and physical features to be identified easily. What about less prominent politicians, those who were not the top players of the Late Republic? Their recognition depended upon the political circumstances and, of course, upon the interests of those who met them. Decimus Brutus Albinus, who participated in the murder of Caesar, was chased by Mark Antony in 43 bc. When his enemies caught him, his friend Servius Terentius pretended to be Decimus Brutus. Apparently the ruse was successful until Furius, who had been charged with executing the murderer, recognised Servius.88 The wife of Gaius Antistius Rheginus, legate of Caesar in Gaul, disguised her husband as a charcoal dealer, together with ass and coals. Nevertheless, he was recognised by a soldier at the gates, who had served under his orders and who let him go.89 Other politicians tried to escape proscription by disguising their physical features, fearing recognition. Either their ruses were successful, or they were not likely to be identified by their faces. M. Volusius, aedile of the 84 87 88

89

Plut. Crass. 7.3. 85 Val. Max. 9.14.1. Cf. Plin. HN 7.53. 86 Plut. Pomp. 73.3–5. Amela Valverde 2005. Val. Max. 4.7.6. The accounts of Decimus Brutus’ death vary; in other versions he was murdered by a Gallic chief. See Münzer RE suppl. V: 384. App. B Civ. 4.40; Hinard 1985: 421–2.

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plebs, dressed himself as a priest of Isis and managed to reach safety.90 Appius Claudius Pulcher, son of the praetor of 56 bc, survived because one of his slaves dressed as him and died on his behalf, while Pulcher was standing next to him, in a slave’s clothes.91 In an interesting case, Pomponius (according to Appian) or Sentius Saturninus Vetulo (according to Valerius Maximus) disguised his slaves as lictores and apparitores and passed himself off as a praetor charged by the Triumvirs to negotiate a settlement with Sextus Pompeius.92 He actually traversed the city without anybody noticing that he was not one of the few current praetors who was present in Rome. Another two members of the elite disguised themselves as centurions and their slaves as soldiers and left the city pretending to be on the lookout for fugitives: they were probably M. Appuleius, proquaestor in Asia in 44 bc, and L. Arruntius, whose political activity is not attested before this time, although he was an orator and had written a History of the Punic Wars.93 Interestingly, in many of these cases during the proscriptions, the members of the elite had held no magistracy or at least not one that brought them into the spotlight in Rome, with the exception of M. Volusius, who was aedile. Antistius Rheginus was recognised by one of the soldiers he had commanded. Pomponius (or Saturninus Vetulo) may have been very lucky, but no one spotted a fake praetor traversing the city in full regalia, surrounded by lictores and apparitores. Gratidianus represents a case of active recognition. In 85 bc, he passed a monetary reform, which made him so popular with the plebs that they erected statues in his honour in the uici of the city.94 In fact, he was even 90

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Val. Max. 7.3.8; App. B Civ. 4.47. In 43/42 BC: Hinard 1985: 550–1, who suggests that he belonged to the Volusii linked to Cicero and that he would share Cicero’s political views, hence the proscription. App. B Civ. 4.44; see Hinard 1985: 453–6 on the difficulty of identifying this Appius Claudius, who was adopted by his uncle Appius, consul 54 and censor 50 bc. Hinard distinguishes him from an Appius Claudius Pulcher maior, who also escaped the proscriptions and was consul 38 bc (App. B Civ. 4.51). App. B Civ. 4.45; Val. Max. 7.3.9; Hinard 1985: 507, 518–19. Identification of Pomponius is not possible. The cursus honorum of Sentius Saturninus Vetulo is uncertain. Dessau RE s.v. ‘C. Sentius Saturnius’ proposed that Vetulo was the father of the consul of 19 bc. He accompanied the mother of Mark Antony to his son in 40 bc and tried to convince the latter to make a deal with Octavian (App. B Civ. 5.52). In 36 bc he fled from Sextus Pompeius’ side to Mark Antony’s (App. B Civ. 5.139). App. B Civ. 4.46; Hinard 1985: 426–7 (Appuleius who, as proquaestor in Asia, turned over to Brutus the funds and the army that he controlled); 432–3 (Arruntius, who would be consul in 22 bc and was linked to the Pompeii). Cic. Off. 3.80; Plin. HN 33.132; Selhmeyer 1999: 199–201; Marco Simón and Pina Polo 2000 suggest that these statues were located in the compita.

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praetor a second time. When Sulla stormed the city in 82 bc, he ordered his murder and the destruction of all his statues. Gratidianus was not the only living politician whose name and facial features were recognised by the people through the erection of a statue. In 74 bc, M. Seius supplied the Roman citizens with cheap grain, and the people erected statues of him on the Capitol and the Palatine.95 The statues were located in the centre of the city, so they are less likely to have been set up through a popular initiative than those erected to Gratidianus. In any case, both examples are linked to senators who were deeply favoured by the people for having passed laws that benefitted them. At the opposite end of the spectrum were, for example, the golden equestrian statue erected to Sulla after taking Rome over in 82 bc96 and the statues of Verres erected by Sicilians in Rome.97 Names of politicians could be remembered, thus ensuring their identification. Two examples of this took place during elections, when remembering somebody’s name was important in order to vote or not to vote for him. In both of the cases that will be described, the senators involved had their names remembered because the people were angry with them and wanted to retaliate. A candidate for the praetorship, of disputed identity, started to offer stork in his dinners. Apparently, the new custom of eating this delicacy did not catch on with the people; a popular verse that circulated around the city attributed this to his electoral defeat.98 This verse, sung throughout the city, doubtless made popular by its joking character, probably did much to help the people remember the name of the gourmet during the voting. Even if it circulated afterwards (as the quoting authority suggests), his name was attached to that unfortunate dining choice. The Commentariolum petitionis suggested that a candidate should encourage rumours about competitors during the elections.99 These could circulate quickly and ruin the chances of a candidate completely, as Publius Scipio Nasica realised when he was canvassing for the curule aedileship. Shaking 95

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Plin. HN 18.16. Pliny mistook his name for T. Seius; cf. Münzer RE s.v. ‘Seius’ nos. 3 and 5. Sehlmeyer 1999: 211–12. App. B Civ. 1.451–2; Cic. Phil. 9.13; CIL I²: 720 = ILLRP 351; representation on a coin, RRC 381; Selhmeyer 1999: 204–11. Sehlmeyer 1999: 213–15. Porphyrio, ad Hor. Serm. 2.2.50. The gourmet is probably C. Munatius Plancus (praetor 43 bc), who became L. Plotius Plancus after his adoption. Some scholiasts thought the candidate in question was a Roman named Rufus, while rufus could be used as an insult, because of the servile connotations of such hair colour: Courtney 2003: 472–3. Berg has taken the cognomen Rufus for a fact and suggests that the unnamed gourmet in Horace’s Satires and the inventor of stork as a delicacy was Nasidienus Rufus: Berg 1995: 149–51. [Q. Cic.] Pet. 52–3.

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hands with the crowd, as was the custom, he encountered a citizen who worked in the fields. His calloused hands prompted Scipio to ask, as a joke, whether he was accustomed to walking on his hands. Those standing nearby heard the remark, which spread like wildfire. The rural tribes felt offended, and Scipio lost the election.100 The timeline of the anecdote is unknown, that is, how much time passed between Scipio’s remark and the day of the elections. However, the rumours were effective enough, and circulated widely enough, to cost him election to the magistracy. His name circulated, the rural tribes felt offended, and they gave vent to it through their votes, recognising someone they did not want to elect. There are also cases of non-recognition or even misidentification of people by their names. Quintus Numerius Rufus (tribune of the plebs 57 bc), together with his colleague Sextus Atilius Serranus Gavianus, opposed Cicero’s return from exile. The fact that only two tribunes sustained that opinion probably made Quintus Numerius Rufus and his colleague the leading voices in many contiones. He escaped a skirmish in that turbulent year, according to Cicero, dressed like a peasant and profiting from confusion over his name: some people were looking for Numerius, others for Quintus.101 The question of the two names has puzzled scholars, and alternative names have been proposed.102 In any case, Quintus was a very common praenomen; Numerius was a relatively rare name. We do not know whether Numerius Rufus’ disguise was the reason for his successful escape or whether, instead, he managed to get away because his pursuers could not recognise his face. Apparently they had some inkling about his name, although their information was incomplete. Of course, the most well-known case of misidentification was that of the tribune of the plebs Gaius Helvius Cinna, in the aftermath of Caesar’s murder, who was mistaken for the praetor Lucius Cornelius Cinna and put to death by an enraged crowd. The tragic story was widely reported by later historians (Suetonius, Valerius Maximus, Appian, Plutarch and Dio Cassius) and captured minds for centuries to come.103 Shakespeare included it in his play Julius Caesar.104 Plutarch’s version identified the tribune Helvius Cinna with the homonymous poet, part of the Neoteric 100 102 103 104

Val. Max. 7.5.2. 101 Cic. Sest. 82. Kaster 2006: 297; Shackleton Bailey proposed reading ‘Numerius Quinctius’. Suet. Iul. 85; Val. Max. 9.9.1; App. B Civ. 2.47; Plut. Brut. 20; Caes. 68.3–6; Dio Cass. 44.50. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act. III, scene 3, based around Plutarch’s version of the events. Orson Welles’ controversial version of the play in 1937 dressed the actors in uniforms similar to those of Fascist Italy and Germany, drawing contemporary analogies with authoritarian governments. Despite reducing its length greatly, Welles retained the episode of the murder of Cinna, which he described as the centre of the play: Lloyd 1993. In 2012, the contemporary playwright Tim

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group in Rome, and a friend of Catullus, although this identification has sometimes been called into question.105 Ovid rightly described the fate of the poet Cinna by stating succinctly that the latter was laesus cognomine, harmed because of his cognomen.106 L. Cornelius Cinna was apparently not among those who handled the daggers, but he had been in favour of the coup. In fact, after the murder, he discarded his praetorian toga, claiming that he had received it from a tyrant.107 More importantly, the day before, he had delivered a bitter speech in a contio, heavily criticising Caesar.108 The plebs, then, knew that a certain Cinna had spoken against the dictator but did not recognise his facial features. If they had attended the contio, they could have been placed far away, or their view could have been (partially) blocked, so that they did not have a complete view of the speaker. Secondly, it is possible that they had simply not attended the assembly and were told that a certain Cinna had spoken, not knowing which specific Cinna he could be, as Plutarch suggested.109 Another interesting fact is that the killers of Cinna, a tribune of the plebs, took him for one of Caesar’s abusers in the public assemblies. Thus, his face was not familiar to them, since they had to ask who he was, despite the fact that he was a tribune. It was clearly familiar to those who identified him as Cinna but not to those who did not realise that they were searching for a completely different individual. Twelve tribunes are known for the year 44 bc, since two of them, L. Caesetius Flavus and C. Epidius Marullus, were replaced when they removed the diadem placed on Caesar’s statue and arrested those who had called Caesar rex in the streets.110

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Crouch wrote I, Cinna (The Poet), a play based upon Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, aimed at young audiences, in which he allowed Cinna to tell his own story. Such identification has been criticised: see recently Wiseman 1974: 44–6; Deroux 2002 disagrees that the praenomen of both the poet and the tribune of the plebs was Gaius. Pace Morgan 1990. Ov. Ib. 539; the allusion in these verses to Cinna was established by Housman 1883. Cf. Morgan 1990. Nic. Dam. F130.22; Val. Max. 9.9.1; Suet. Iul. 85; App. B Civ. 2.121. Cinna’s casting away of his toga enraged the listeners. At the meeting of the Senate in the temple of Tellus of 17 March, Cinna, who was again wearing his toga, was stoned and pursued until he found shelter in a house. At that point, only the intervention of Lepidus and his soldiers saved the house from being burned (App. B Civ. 2.126). Suet. Iul. 85; Val. Max. 9.9.1; Plut. Caes. 68; Brut. 20; App. B Civ. 2.147; Dio Cass. 44.50. Pina Polo 1989: 310. Morstein-Marx 2004: 151, n. 166, believes that Suetonius’ pridiem, which would locate a contio by Cinna the day before the funeral of Caesar, is a slip, preferring the versions of Appian and Plutarch. Plut. Caes. 68.5. See the complete list of tribunes in MRR II: 323–5. On Caesetius and Marullus, see Cic. Phil. 31.31; Nic. Dam. F130.20; Livy, Per. 116; Val. Max. 5.7.2; Suet. Iul. 79–80; Plut. Caes. 61.4–5; Ant. 12.4; Dio Cass. 44.9–10, 46.49.2; App. B Civ. 2.108, 122.

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Tribunes were usually elected during the summer and had entered office on 10 December 45 bc, so Helvius Cinna had not been in charge for long, nor had Cornelius Cinna as praetor, who had taken up his position on 1 January 44 bc. However, Helvius Cinna had been busy, according to the sources. He was instrumental in stripping Caesetius and Marullus of their tribunician power, as he proposed the measure that started the procedure. Thus, he had been exposed to the public in a much-discussed affair, but apparently not sufficiently to ensure his correct identification. In conclusion, a picture of post-Sullan daily political life would involve forty-four new magistrates every year and around six hundred senators (three hundred before that date, although one should add the many magistrates waiting to be enrolled between two censuses). These numbers are rather similar to those of many modern democracies.111 They are not unmanageable, but they made issues of recognition and misidentification much more complicated than, for instance, during the Principate, when competition for the spotlight was less obvious and much more closely controlled by the emperor. How would this work in terms of practical daily life? Politicians had a variety of means and events to display themselves and their names. Their exposure to the public eye would depend, for instance, on whether they were pursuing controversial or popular politics, in which case they would be much discussed, or whether they could speak in a contio. As we have seen, we should think about different degrees of recognition: just the name, the facial features, or even specific details about the cursus honorum and habitual political allegiances, with the last two demanding a more in-depth knowledge, which was not usual even for members of the elite. Evidence suggests that some top politicians were well recognised not only by their peers but also by the rest of the citizens. People took notice of Pompey lookalikes in the streets and stared at them. Few senators probably shared this experience. It is likely that populares politicians were recognised in the streets of Rome. The statues erected in the uici in honour of Gratidianus probably guaranteed him recognition in the streets, but his actions had made him well known to many citizens beforehand. The Gracchi brothers and Clodius probably also experienced this. Cicero acknowledged that the populares of the past were much admired, since people loved their names, speech, faces and walks.112 Cases of 111

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The numbers are not unmanageable, though. To put them into perspective, the Congress of the Deputies in Spain has 350 members and the Senate 266; the US Congress has 535 voting members; the UK Parliament is composed of 781 Lords and 650 Members of Parliament. Cic. Sest. 105.

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misidentification demonstrate the difficulty of having a large number of active politicians. The fact that someone could impersonate a praetor and parade around the city without anybody noticing reinforces this idea. What does this picture say about politics during the Late Roman Republic? Does the fact that someone did not recognise one of the tribunes of the plebs by name or by facial features mean that that citizen was politically apathetic or not involved in politics? There were different degrees of recognition (face, name, political career and political opinions), as well as varying degrees of prominence within Roman politics. Roman politicians had the means and occasions to present themselves in public. In this context, not knowing who Pompey was would suggest a deep political apathy. This was not the case in Rome. Sources establish that he was generally recognised, even without garments or companions that would pinpoint his political status, including among the plebs. Considering the numbers of senators and magistrates, disregarding the name and existence of, for instance, one of the ten tribunes of the plebs of the year, who had not done anything special to bring attention to his existence, was probably not the sign of disinterest in politics, even for the elite. Taking into account the wide spectrum of types of political participation, as well as issues of recognition and the practical workings of Roman politics, this involvement, especially of the people, was much wider than has previously been assumed in light of studies of voter turnouts. Thus, the degree of citizens’ political involvement in the Late Roman Republic should be reconsidered.

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chapter 4

Gods, Change and Civic Space in Late Republican Oratory Anna Clark

Recent work has shed important new light on the ways in which Cicero’s theodicy can and should be understood as creative1 and on Cicero’s development of vocabularies and strategies for coping with (and indeed effecting) the elevation of individuals as examples of responses to changing times.2 In this chapter, I complement these wider insights, for example, into what Gildenhard has termed ‘the resurrection of Rome’s civic divinities’ in the oratory of Cicero in the last years of his life and explore similarities that can be observed between the operation of what we might call ‘religion’ and of practices, notably oratory itself, in Rome. In examining the place of some religious elements in surviving republican oratory that were prominent before, during and after the century or so under consideration, principally the prominent Roman deities Mars and Venus, I broaden my focus beyond Ciceronian oratory where this is possible. In addressing a range of assertions from extant public oratory, all of which are literally theological, though of varying degrees of theological complexity, I shall be particularly interested in the extent to which – as prominent elements in a rapidly changing world – these deities could also be productive for speakers in attempts to halt or slow perceived change of various kinds. As the rapid unbalancing and rebalancing of power and resources after Caesar’s death morphed into yet another period of civil war, oratory continued to be an important strand in collective decision-making. The men of the legio Martia, a legion which had been connected permanently to Mars through its title (presumably bestowed by Caesar),3 found 1 3

Gildenhard 2011. 2 Cole 2013. Little is known of the origins of the legion, whose number is as yet unidentified but which was in Macedonia in 44 bc and earmarked for Caesar’s Parthian expedition at the time of his death. It was subsequently moved by Antony to Brundisium pending transfer to Cisalpine Gaul. It defected to Octavian en route and fought at Forum Gallorum and Mutina. It seems to have fought in Africa in 46 bc if the anecdote in [Caes.] B Afr. 18–19; Plut. Caes. 52; App. B Civ. 2.95; Dio Cass. 43.2.1–2, can

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themselves, like others, choosing among the fragmented and overlapping power blocs in the months after Caesar’s assassination. In Appian’s account, behind which we may well suspect in part the lost history of Asinius Pollio,4 key factors in the legio Martia’s decision to defect to Octavian en route to Cisalpine Gaul were pamphlets scattered by the latter’s agents, promises of large donatives (App. B Civ. 3.44) and (arguably, though this cannot be proven) Octavian’s actions when he was at Apollonia with the Martian and five other legions (App. B Civ. 3.9; Nic. Dam. F130.16).5 However, most prominent, at least in Appian’s account, was Antony’s partial decimation of the legion after its men forced him to address them at Brundisium on the subject of his failure to avenge Caesar’s death. In this speech, Antony is represented in Appian as angrily berating the soldiers for their ingratitude at being returned to Italy instead of the Parthian front and for their failure to bring him the emissaries of Octavian (μειράκιον/puer, ‘the youth’). Antony undertakes to find these men himself, to take the legions to Gaul anyway, and he promises 100 denarii to each man present. The men react with laughter at the low sum; Antony grows angrier, and the soldiers become rowdy and break up the meeting. At this point Antony seeks to end any dialogue and institutes partial decimation of the rebellious troops with the (alleged) words: μαθήσεσθε ἄρχεσθαι (‘You will learn to obey orders’ [App. B. Civ. 3.43]). He could not, of course, prevent continued informal talk among the men who survived as they marched north and decided to join Octavian. In addition to constituting an audience to be swayed (or riled) by such speeches, or by punishment and bribery, the men of the legio Martia also featured as subject-matter in oratory at Rome during these years. Once news of their defection to the young Caesar reached the city, Cicero presented them as a group of loyal supporters of what he then perceived to be the right cause. They, their actions and later their losses at Forum Gallorum were emotively addressed in the Philippicae, both contiones and addresses to the Senate. One of Cicero’s last public acts, in the Fourteenth Philippic, was to propose a monument in their honour. In these speeches,

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indeed be combined with Valerius Maximus’ information that the legion was the Martia (3.2.19). It is often supposed that the title was granted in Africa (so e.g. Weinstock 1971: 130; Keppie 1984: 137 and 201), though on very slender evidence. Pollio was himself well informed about this material: Cic. Fam. 10.33 (SB 409). See also Osgood 2006, esp. 49–55; Frisch 1946: 272; Magnino 1984 ad loc. Osgood 2006: 48 rightly points out that losing the Parthian campaign has been underemphasised in modern explorations of the episode.

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we see Cicero seeking to influence the course of events over a period of months and fully committed as ever to his cause, as well as concerned for his own reputation.6 His choice of words in such circumstances provides us with a useful starting point for an exploration of some of the many claims about the divine in Late Republican public oratory and in particular of the role of such claims in attempts to oppose perceived changes on the part of the orator. Such claims form an integral part of the multitude of responses to change in the late second and first centuries bc. These responses – adequate or inadequate, successful or unsuccessful in the short or longer term – were often formed through the adaptation of civic practices, such as speeches, allocation of commands, festivals, games, temple-building and triumphs, and of their constituent elements: words, powers, days, plays, costumes, calendars and more.7 Speeches are not, of course, commentaries on social change in Rome but rather key social practices that affected and effected such change themselves. Although they must be viewed within this wider context, public claims about the divine are a particularly interesting component of such responses. For, if one of the functions of religion broadly construed is to connect the immediacy of words, objects, actions or places to a ‘higher plane’, to a significance (mythological, historical, universal, eternal) beyond themselves, I would contend that this description is itself not irrelevant to speech-making in the city. There, words of many kinds, including those with divine resonance, could be used to trigger associations and stories in the minds of those who were listening and thereby extend the chronological range, topographical reach or geographical scope of the speech.8 The definition may even seem to have something in common with poetic allusion and other forms of generic ‘enrichment’, when the context of a recognised model is triggered for (some) readers and applied to a new situation in order to generate new meanings, ideas or associations.9 Rather than assume that the breadth of practices which are potentially in some way pertinent to this definition must render it so vague as to be unhelpful, I would argue that, on the contrary, its value might lie precisely in its breadth of application. 6

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Manuwald 2007; see Steel 2005: 140–6 and esp. 145 for a brief but persuasive presentation of the Philippicae as ‘self-conscious artefacts’ in a ‘textual struggle’. Other elements are too numerous to list, but one example, of mobility and debates about its moral value, including the modelling of urbanitas in speeches, is well discussed in Dench 2005: 114. Vasaly 1993; Morstein-Marx 2004, esp. chap. 3. Among a vast bibliography, see e.g. Hinds 1998 and Harrison 2007.

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On 20 December 44 bc, addressing the people to recount the Senate’s decisions in its meeting earlier that day,10 Cicero referred to the recent defection of the legio Martia in his overall and highly controversial argument that Antony was now a hostis and that everyone was rightly ranged together against him. legio Martia, quae mihi uidetur diuinitus ab eo deo traxisse nomen a quo populum Romanum generatum accepimus, non ipsa suis decretis prius quam senatus hostem iudicauit Antonium?11 (Cic. Phil. 4.5)

To claim bravery on the part of men named after a Roman god of war is hardly to push the boundaries of theological assertion.12 But claims such as Cicero’s statement here that the legion’s name seems to have come diuinitus from Mars matter.13 It is well known that Cicero often drew on divine and other resources in his speeches, ranging from the location of a speech that he was delivering to buildings or other topographical markers that were visible in actuality or to the mind’s eye of those listening. One of the best known examples is his engagement with the foundation story of the temple of Jupiter Stator in the first Catilinarian,14 a speech with many similarities to the Philippicae, chiefly its desire to bring all its audience on side against an individual who is controversially portrayed as an enemy of the state. In the Fourth Philippic, Cicero’s engagement with a foundation tale is much less complex but no less interesting. He picks up on the epithet of one of the newly defected legions and links it to ‘the’ foundation story of Rome. The triggers for the story are brief and carefully selected: Mars, the Roman people and no one else (ab eo deo traxisse nomen a quo populum Romanum generatum accepimus). By 44 bc, the version of the foundation story in which Mars fathered Romulus was common currency, though rationalising versions were also 10

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See note 6 for Steel’s description, the value of which I fully endorse, though space prevents proper engagement with the thorny question of potential differences between what may have been said and the written version. ‘And did not the legio Martia, which seems to me to derive its name divinely from the god whom tradition makes the progenitor of the Roman people, itself by its own decrees pronounce Antony a public enemy before the Senate did so?’ (trans. Manuwald, slightly adapted). See Gildenhard (2011, esp. section 3) for a full and largely persuasive exploration of passages where Cicero departs from a putative norm (including Cic. Phil. 14.32, on which see further below), although the difficulty of gauging the ‘norm’ largely from Ciceronian evidence is itself fundamentally problematic. Diuinitus might, for some of those listening, bring to mind Caesar himself as well as Mars, but the connection with Mars seems to be emphasised. See Vasaly 1993: 41–9 for a stimulating discussion, with now Gildenhard 2011: 273–8, who draws more attention to Cicero’s unorthodox formulation of an interdependence between Jupiter Stator and Rome, ‘with each being “constitutive” of the other’ (275).

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available, such as Licinius Macer’s, in which Rhea’s rapist was her uncle Amulius, though the rape occurred in luco Martis.15 Mars had three temples in Rome, Venus several, and the Trojan connections of the foundation story had been well explored. A Lucius Iulius Caesar, perhaps the consul of 64 bc, had written about the origins of Rome and the Aeneadae, connecting Aeneas to Romulus.16 People might also have encountered Mars and Venus in circumstances that brought other elements and stories associated with Mars/Ares and Venus/Aphrodite to the fore, whether in tragic performances or, indeed, in more comic situations.17 As early as 68 bc, Caesar had given a speech at his aunt Julia’s funeral in which he had emphasised the family’s connection to gods (Iulii and Venus) and kings (Marci Reges and Ancus Martius) and carefully subordinated the latter to the former.18 Pompey’s temple to Venus Victrix was constructed in the 50s bc; Caesar’s to Venus Genetrix, in the 40s. Caesar is said (though again in later sources) to have sacrificed to Mars and Venus at Pharsalus and to have vowed a huge temple to Mars in 46 bc,19 as well as naming the legion under consideration here Martia. Although it is not possible to know the precise chronological context of the famous address to Venus in the proem of Lucretius’ De rerum natura, with proposals now ranging from c. 62 to c. 49/48 bc,20 at some point between Cicero’s consulship and Caesar’s early years in power certain people would have been made aware of the presentation of a particularly complex entity: Aeneadum genetrix, lover of Mars, embodiment – on many readings, at least – of Empedoclean Love (in contrast to Mars as 15

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19 20

Licinius Macer FRHist 27 F1. Cf. Fabius Pictor FRHist 1 F4 (with discussion by Bispham and Cornell) and Vennonius FRHist 13 F1, in which Mars fathers the twins. On the story and its development, see generally Wiseman 1995, esp. 2. See Weinstock 1971: 17, n. 6, 18, 23, 183. Plaut. Amph. 41–4, includes Mars among alleged characters in tragedies whom audiences have seen recounting their bona to them. Wiseman 1998: 72–3 sees a possible two-act play including mime behind Ov. Fast. 3.675–96, perhaps even Laberius’ Anna Peranna (Non. p. 90.19M), which, if correct, would place performances in Cicero’s lifetime. Suet. Iul. 6: amitae meae Iuliae maternum genus ab regibus ortum, paternum cum diis inmortalibus coniunctum est. nam ab Anco Marcio sunt Marcii Reges, quo nomine fuit mater; a Venere Iulii, cuius gentis familia est nostra. est ergo in genere et sanctitas regum, qui plurimum inter homines pollent, et caerimonia deorum, quorum ipsi in potestate sunt reges (‘The maternal family of my aunt Julia is descended from the kings, and her paternal family is linked to the immortal gods. For the Marcii Reges, which was her mother’s family name, come from Ancus Marcius, and our family, the Iulii, from Venus. Her line therefore has the sanctity of kings, who among men are most powerful, and the reverence due to the gods, who hold even kings in their power’). App. B Civ. 2.68; Suet. Iul. 44. Hutchinson 2001 proposed down-dating to 49 or 48 bc, a suggestion that has gained acceptance in important quarters but not universal assent (see e.g. Volk 2010). On potential Lucretian touches in Cicero’s Pro Sestio (56 bc), see Lintott 2008: 197.

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Strife),21 a military ally (socia = epikouros, triggering Epicurean attitudes to the gods which are, of course, at stake throughout the work),22 and appeaser of, and peaceful antithesis to, Mars. Varro’s Antiquitates rerum diuinarum (written in the 50s or early 40s bc, and in close dialogue with civic events) engaged with Mars, as with Venus, in a number of ways, describing the former as war god, as one of the gods constituted by Romulus, and also (unusually in terms of other surviving strands of this story) as resisting Jupiter by refusing, along with Terminus and Iuventas, to give up their place to him: sic enim . . . significatum est, Martiam gentem, id est Romanam, nemini locum quem teneret daturam (‘It was thus signified that the people of Mars, that is the Roman people, would never surrender to anyone a place which they held’).23 Both Mars and Venus, then, continued to form important elements in Roman space and society in Cicero’s lifetime, to receive new cults, to have new spaces marked out for them in the city (and by some of the biggest players of the time) and to be represented in a variety of locations and in a variety of genres. They were made part of active and proactive changes and adaptations, even when these involved looking to the past, as so often in Rome. What about in oratory? In linking the epithet Martia to one widely accepted variant of the foundation story in his contio of December 44 bc, Cicero carves out for emphasis a relationship between god and collective (the people, his audience) based in the city and not with gentes or individuals.24 He thereby simultaneously achieves two goals: he glosses over the moral complexities of the legion’s actions towards Antony and, furthermore, cuts Caesar out of two relationships, with the legion itself and with Mars. In linking his symbolic audience, the people, closely with the behaviour of the legion in question through Mars’s involvement in the foundation story, Cicero is able to skirt over the soldiers’ controversial and even illegal actions. Glimpses of different ways in which the episode was probably recounted 21

22 23

24

In a reading that depends on a mid-50s bc date, Cole 1998 sees no Empedoclean strife or love but instead Pompey and Julia as Lucretius’ Mars and Venus in these lines (Lucr. 1.31–40). On the active engagement in politics of the poem’s dedicatee, Gaius Memmius (despite his commitment to Epicureanism), see Chapter 7. See O’Hara 1998 on these aspects and the allusion to a fragment of Simonides. Varro Ant. div. F41 Cardauns (August. De civ. Dei 4.29); cf. e.g. F253 (August. De civ. Dei 7.14), F35 Cardauns (August. De civ. Dei 4.23). Other accounts include Terminus alone (Cato Orig. HRR F24; Livy, 1.55.3; Ov. Fast. 2.669; Serv. Aen. 9.445); and Terminus and Iuventas (Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 3.69.5; Livy, 5.54). As noted by Manuwald 2007 ad loc., commenting on the establishment through this phrase of unity between people and legion, the appeal to the people’s self-esteem and the ‘insinuation’ of the intervention of the gods.

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at the time can be seen behind Appian’s presentation, discussed earlier, which persistently emphasises the legality of Antony’s actions.25 It is vital constantly to remember the immediate context of these orations and in particular the complete lack of clarity or agreement about who (or what) it was who now stood for the Roman people to whose beginnings Cicero here alludes.26 Cicero, however, is reacting here to changes on two levels: firstly, to the immediate and rapidly evolving situation, in which he desires to bring all of Rome on side against Antony, in the hope of securing a state more like the one he had once known, and in which his exegesis on the legion’s name helps to give validity to his highly partisan version of events; secondly, to changes in the status and treatment of individuals. For in a city in which relationships between Caesar and Mars and the Iulii and Venus had been clearly asserted in a number of ways (see earlier), Cicero’s selection of Mars and people highlights elements of the story in a way that – if it does not actively suppress Caesar from the mind of anyone listening – certainly does not draw attention to Caesar’s connection either with the legion and its name or with the foundation story.27 The careful placement of diuinitus, moreover, suggests divine agency (that of Mars) both in the naming of the legion and in the legion’s subsequent behaviour, thereby adding to the effect: Cicero harnesses a name that was in all probability given by Caesar but cuts Caesar out of that association, too. This strategy could operate simultaneously with the increasing valorisation of individuals and groups (including the legio Martia itself, e.g. at Cic. Phil. 5.28 and 12.8) through the careful deployment of adjectives such as ‘diuinus’.28 Cicero’s proposals to the Senate for discussion of appropriate rewards pro diuinis et immortalibus meritis of ‘Gaius Caesar’ are indeed reported to the people in Phil. 4.4 very shortly before the passage discussed earlier. Another effect – or cause? – of suppressing overt mention of Caesar the dictator when speaking of Mars is to further the impression that the immediate referent, for all, of the name ‘Gaius Caesar’ must be the young Caesar. 25 26

27

28

See Gowing 1992: 107–8. Octavian was clearly working hard for the role, and we might note in this regard Cicero’s own reported recommendations to Octavian in Att. 16.8.2 (SB 418; November 44 bc) on Octavian’s likely success with ‘the urban rabble’ and others: uidetur enim mihi et plebeculam urbanam et, si fidem fecerit, etiam bonos uiros secum habiturus (‘it seems to me he will have the urban rabble with him, and the better men too if he appears sincere’). Caesar’s ‘direct’ connection was of course with Venus, but the story was sufficiently woven together by this point to make avoiding Mars deliberate. Cf. Cole 2013: 120 on the (more) startling omission of Venus from Cicero’s Pro Marcello. See Cole 2013: passim.

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Although the phrasing of the connection between Mars and the populus Romanus in the Fourth Philippic was in some respects clearly geared to a contio, a particular connotation (bravery) of the same epithet was also seized upon by Cicero to fight against decisions in Senate meetings. Having failed in the Eleventh Philippic to gain approval for his motion to assign a command to Cassius, in March 43 bc Cicero tried to harness a recent swing away from his opponents in order to denounce the proposed second embassy to Antony at Mutina, on which he was himself supposed to serve. One part of his attempt to ward off this unwelcome move was to ask whether a peace initiative would not hamstring the legions. When setting up an antithesis between the war that he considered necessary and the attempts at peace-making that he was trying to block, Cicero again found the legio Martia a helpful example: ipsa illa Martia caelestis et diuina legio hoc nuntio languescet et mollietur atque illud pulcherrimum nomen [sc. Martium] amittet; excident gladii, fluent arma de manibus.29 (Cic. Phil. 12.8)

Here the martial prowess of the soldiers is alone at stake. From a body whose name was allegedly given diuinitus (4.5), Cicero (as at 5.28) here applies diuinus squarely to the men themselves and advances for consideration a diuina et caelestis legio. Where divine foresight about their bravery is alleged as the source of their name at 4.5, here the link is presented in the opposite direction: the current move risks behaviour that will lose them their pulcherrimum nomen (and, it is surely implied, divine support). This must be the reason for Cicero’s imagining of the frail and flaccid bodies, dropping their weapons, when their divine aspect is stripped away. After their losses at Forum Gallorum in 43 bc, the legion reverted for Cicero to being an object of superlative praise. In the speech in which he advocates the erection in their honour of a monument that he considers an ara uirtutis (‘altar of virtue’), gods, including Mars, feature in a number of ways. Cicero’s delight in Antony’s defeat and his own treatment in the city on the news that (contrary to earlier reports) Antony had indeed been defeated could not be complete until Antony was officially named a hostis and Decimus Brutus liberated. Cicero is still struggling to regulate and control what is happening in this speech as well, then, as much through its circulation as its delivery, and to write the script of events that are unfolding in the vocabulary of his personal perspective. But if the difficulty of 29

‘Even that godlike, superhuman Martian legion will droop at the news and soften and lose its splendid name; the swords will fall, the shields will drop from their hands’ (trans. Shackleton Bailey 1986).

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celebrating what was in reality a civil war could be resolved for Cicero by the official application of the label hostis to Antony, he could not be unaware that not everyone would agree. The gods are thus represented as unfavourable to civil war but also able to distinguish the right side, and Cicero sought to reinforce his presentation of events further in his laudation of the legio Martia and its losses. uos uero patriae natos iudico; quorum etiam nomen a Marte est, ut idem deus urbem hanc gentibus, uos huic urbi genuisse uideatur. in fuga foeda mors est; in uictoria gloriosa. etenim Mars ipse ex acie fortissimum quemque pignerari solet. illi igitur impii quos cecidistis etiam ad inferos poenas parricide luent; uos uero qui extremum spiritum in uictoria effudistis piorum estis sedem et locum consecuti.30 (Cic. Phil. 14.32)

Here Mars is once again to the fore as founder, conveying the impression that those fighting against Antony were citizens, were on the side of right and were divinely supported, with all three categories effectively being assumed to be identical. After explicitly underlining to the absent legionaries (and so his senatorial audience) their name Martia and its connection to Mars, Cicero again associates the legion with the collective (here the urbs rather than the populus) through Mars. Using a distancing device in uideatur comparable to his deployment of accepimus in Phil. 4.5, allowing for the different audience, he presents Mars here as the generator of both legion and city, in a chain-reaction of benefits that stretches out to all peoples. The deaths of those legionaries who fell at Forum Gallorum are explained through the theological assertion that Mars ipse ex acie fortissimum quemque pignerari solet. Together with the assumption that is set up immediately beforehand that the fortissimi are to be equated with (or at least found among) the Martiales, this feeds into the promise of happy afterlife for those fighting on what Cicero deems to be the side of right, a judgement he supposes to be shared by the gods.31 Thus, while living through and involving himself in the debates over the treatment of Antony, Cicero strove to represent the sides in the struggle in terms that fitted his own agenda and found ways of harnessing Mars, and 30

31

‘But you, I declare, were born for your patria, you whose very name is from Mars, so that the same god may seem to have given birth to this city for the world and to you for this city. Death in flight is shameful, in victory glorious. Mars himself customarily appropriates as his own the bravest in the battle line. Those traitors whom you killed will pay for their crime of treason even in the world below; whereas you who breathed your last in victory have gained the dwelling place of pious souls’ (trans. Shackleton Bailey 1986, very slightly adapted). On the end of the passage, and the promises for afterlife of those Cicero (and the gods) deemed traitors and patriots, see Gildenhard 2011: 384.

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the immortal gods more generally, to his oratorical cause. Only in the Tenth Philippic (10.20) did he deploy Mars in the manner encountered more frequently in his other speeches (and also in letters), namely, the semi-proverbial Mars communis. Here the god’s role is almost the opposite of that discussed so far, suggesting a Mars who fights (or is equally likely to fight) on both sides, and thus highlights the uncertainty of war’s – including civil war’s – outcome.32 When Caesar was alive, he could not, of course, be sidelined. Complete withdrawal from public speech-making was one option under dictatorship, but when Cicero decided to break that particular silence, he needed a very different kind of vocabulary. In setting up an acceptable framework for his exhortations to Caesar on how best to handle public affairs, Cicero took Caesar ‘to the verge of divinity’ but ‘insistently connected this status to his clemency and his placing of the interests of the Republic before his own’.33 As in the Philippicae to come, aligning right and wrong within that framework in discourse concerning civil war was no easy task. Caesar’s unexpected clementia smoothed the orator’s path to some extent, and in addition to emphasising his own and Caesar’s attempts to find a means of avoiding war in the first place, Cicero chose to highlight the difference between losses in battle and clemency afterwards by assigning citizen losses to uis Martis, in contrast to the absence of deaths through ira uictoriae (Marc. 17). He went so far as to attribute to Caesar a plausible desire to recall many of the dead back ab inferis, though prefacing the statement with si fieri posset (‘were it possible’). The latent uictoria of the other side, which had not been realised, is painted in unpleasant terms.34 Here again there is more at stake than ‘Mars = war’.35 Taking Caesar out of the 32

33

34 35

In Fam. 7.23 (SB 209), in a very different style, shortly after Caesar’s departure for Spain in December 46 bc, Cicero again chooses Mars’s association with war when he chastises Fabius Gallus for sending ill-chosen statuary for his house on the Palatine, noting the inappropriateness of a statue of that god for Cicero himself: Martis uero signum quo mihi pacis auctori? (‘Really, a statue of Mars for me, the supporter of peace?’). All the statues of gods in that letter are taken to stand for their primary sphere of reference, and it is interesting to see Cicero’s own engagement here at a time when Caesar’s own claims about Mars were prominent, particularly given that Cicero’s own self-reference must be to his attempts to delay a civil war now in its last throes. Around the same time he wrote to Aulus Torquatus (Fam. 6.4.1 [SB 244]) of Mars communis in terms that made explicit his expectation that the outcome would be similar regardless of which side won. Cole 2013: 113; see 111–26 for an excellent assessment of the speech in terms particularly relevant to this study; see also Dyer 1990. Cf. Fam. 6.4.1 (SB 244) in note 32. In Cic. Arch. 27 of 62 bc, by contrast, it is perhaps harder to avoid the suspicion that when, in addressing a classic example for his case, Cicero presents Fulvius Nobilior’s connection with a poet and with the Muses as Ennio comite, . . . non dubitauit Martis manubias Musis consecrare (‘having Ennius for his companion, did not hesitate to devote the spoils of Mars to the Muses’), his choice of

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equation here arguably has the opposite effect to that I have proposed for Philippica 4.5: Mars, not Caesar, is portrayed as responsible for the fighting and for the deaths (although, at a time when the senators would presumably have been well aware of Caesar’s vow to Mars, subtle possibilities for re-forging the connection were available for Cicero’s audience). On the other side of the equation, uictoria is a divine quality,36 and one that only a few chapters earlier (Marc. 12) Cicero had presented Caesar as vanquishing; thus, Caesar is credited with active management of uictoria and suppression of her/its anger while at the same time distanced to some degree, if not entirely exonerated, from the events of the war itself. Cicero was not alone in deploying gods in fighting against change, though other ‘fragments’ of surviving Republican oratory are sufficiently sparse to make effective comparison rather difficult. Aulus Gellius claims to preserve verbatim an exhortation of Metellus Numidicus, censor in 102 bc, addressing the people, but with a number of learned men listening, and urging men to marry: di immortales plurimum possunt; sed non plus uelle nobis debent quam parentes. at parentes, si pergunt liberi errare, bonis exheredant. quid ergo nos ab immortalibus dissimilius expectemus, nisi malis rationibus finem facimus? is demum deos propitios esse aecum est, qui sibi aduersarii non sunt, dii immortales uirtutem adprobare, non adhibere debent.37 (Gell. NA 1.6.7–8)

Unlike Metellus Macedonicus’ better-known speech on this theme, which gained fame by being reread later by Augustus, Numidicus sought to persuade those listening to return to ‘traditional’ practice by comparing gods to parents. He does not, in making such a comparison, claim any limit to gods’ powers but rather suggests that the extent to which gods might

36 37

Mars may have much to do with alliteration. Even here, however, the effect is to heighten the sense that spoils of war were connected to a city deity even as they were associated with the temple of Hercules Musarum. Using these divine names by metonymy as part of a rhetorical strategy is addressed at Cic. De or. 3.167 (and a ‘fragment’ from Cato’s denunciation of L. Quinctius Flamininus may even be suspected in Livy, 39.43.5: sin fateretur, ignominiane sua quemquam doliturum censeret, cum ipse uino et Venere amens sanguine hominis in conuiuio lusisset? (‘but if he confessed it, would he think that anyone would grieve at his disgrace, since he himself, mad with drink and desire, had played with a man’s blood at a feast?’)). Such strategy, however, provoked debate among Stoics and Epicureans alike. See Clark 2007: chap. 1 for the term. ‘The immortal gods can do much; but they are under no obligation to us to wish for more than parents do. But parents disinherit children who carry on making mistakes. What different treatment should we expect from the immortals, if we do not put an end to our bad ways? It is fair that the gods be favourable to those who are not their own enemies. The immortal gods ought to approve virtue, they need not supply it.’

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choose to favour the Romans is in proportion to proper action towards them and might be curtailed by repeated wronging. Here, then, the gods and their ability to withhold support are held out as warning to the people in an attempt to end what is conceived as deviation from old ways. Another orator, one who cannot now be identified but whose chronological context is fascinating – there are few years for which more surviving oratory would be welcome than for the last decade or so of the second century bc – is known to have given a speech in support of a lex Licinia, probably that de sumptu minuendo (‘on reducing expenses’) of the last decade of the second century bc. Gellius ascribes a lengthy passage to this orator, whom the manuscripts have him call Favorinus, a uetus orator (‘an early orator’),38 in which the speaker decries the new barometers of taste on the part of praefecti popinae atque luxuriae (‘leaders in gluttony and luxury’), which include dishes being removed, replaced and surpassed by new ones at the very moment of greatest enjoyment of the first dish and only certain portions of game and poultry being deemed acceptable. The surviving passage concludes, si proportione pergit luxuria crescere, quid relinquitur . . . quando stratus lectus auro, argento, purpura amplior aliquot hominibus quam dis inmortalibus adornatur? (‘if luxury is growing in proportion, what is left . . . when couches are adorned with more gold, silver and purple for a few men than they are for the immortal gods?’). Here another problem caused by changing practices is identified. It too is articulated in a speech (whose audience we cannot know, though the people or Senate are by far the most likely contenders) in terms of proper behaviour towards the gods. Here the di immortales are implicitly placed at the pinnacle of society; their position is portrayed as being threatened by the future limits – of resource or imagination – on the luxuries that are imagined by the speaker and that, if unchecked by legal limits of the kind proposed by the law, will soon, therefore, have to trespass on the conventional means of marking out the gods’ superior position. Fear of displacing the gods from their proper place in society, then, is harnessed in support of the speaker’s advocacy for the proposed sumptuary measures, and this fear is described to the 38

The manuscripts of Gellius (NA 15.8.2) read Fauorini, but no Favorinus can be connected with a lex Licinia. Other suggestions have been put forward, including C. Fannius Strabo (Pithou), P. Augurinus (Gongrove) and especially Favonius (Virdungus, often accepted; see Marache ad loc. in the Budé edition), but all are problematic, and the latter unlikely not only for reasons of style but also in light of the withdrawal of the rogatio Licinia Pompeia of 55 bc and of Favonius’ wellattested opposition to Caesar and supporters of the ‘triumvirs’; see Malcovati 1929. See Pignatelli 1999 for the suggestion that L. Licinius Crassus, on whom more is provided later, was the author of the law in question.

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audience not in terms of power but visually, through the decorated couches well known to them from the carrying of lectisternia in rituals. One candidate who has been suggested to be the author of the lex Licinia de sumptu minuendo, perhaps implausibly, is Lucius Licinius Crassus ‘orator’: Cicero’s mentor, acclaimed speaker, tribune in 107, consul in 95 and censor in 92 bc.39 His authorship of this law is very far from proven but is interesting to consider in the context of his association with elegant luxury of many kinds.40 One episode that clearly speaks to this context is a dispute with M. Iunius Brutus (RE 50), possibly from the late 90s bc. It focuses on criticism of Crassus for housing a different kind of luxury resource, and one often deployed in moral discourses as an exemplum of excessive luxury: the marble column. Pliny the Elder tells us that Brutus insulted Crassus in this regard by calling him Venus Palatina: L. Crassum oratorem illum, qui primus peregrini marmoris columnas habuit in eodem Palatio . . . M. Brutus in iurgiis ob id Venerem Palatinam appellauerat.41 (Pliny, HN 36.7)

We cannot be certain that this episode took place in the context of formal public speech-making, but if it did, it can most plausibly be located in a trial in which the two men are known to have spoken on opposing sides. If not, the insult is likely to predate this trial, by which time we are told that Crassus already hated Brutus (Cic. De or. 2.222). We know about the trial in question principally from Cicero himself as well as from Quintilian, who is clearly drawing on Cicero.42 From these texts we know enough to have a sense of some of the exchanges that took place.43 The trial was held 39

40

41

42 43

See Pignatelli 1999: 259 for the suggestion that Crassus passed the law as tribune in 107, positing that the author’s praenomen, which is recorded as Publius in Macr. Sat. 3.7–9, could, like Dives in the same text, be an error. She anticipates another objection to such a proposal, namely, that Cicero makes no mention of it, despite his lengthy treatment of Crassus in a number of works, by observing that Cicero rarely, if ever, mentions sumptuary legislation (261, n. 43). On Crassus, see further van der Blom 2010: esp. 177–80, 226–30 and Schultze 2011: 178–86. See also Tchernia 1997, who links him with what she terms a Venus-balnea-uinum complex. That all of this speaks against Crassus’ proposal of a sumptuary law is far from certain, of course, given the obvious contrast between the legislation passed by numerous tribunes and the remainder of their careers (cf. Marius’ law of 119 bc, to give just one example). ‘L. Crassus, the orator, who had been the first to have pillars of foreign marble on that same Palatine [sc. as Scaurus] . . . had been called Venus Palatina by M. Brutus, on the occasion of a dispute about the issue.’ Cic. Cluent. 140–1; Orat. 2.220–6; Quint. Inst. 6.3.44; Cic. Brut. 130 on M. Brutus. Gruen 1966: esp. n. 170 suggests that the Quintilian and Pliny passages depended on Cicero. This is clearly true for Quintilian but less so for the Pliny passage, other than Cicero’s obvious interest in and discussion of Crassus’ cases. One point in particular makes me suspect an alternate tradition. A number of Crassus’ words in the trial are ‘preserved’ (or rather re-presented by Cicero), but part of Cicero’s strategy in recounting these episodes both in De oratore and especially in Pro Cluentio was to

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between 106 and 91 bc, probably towards the end of that period,44 with Crassus defending a Cn. Plancus (or Plancius) on a charge now unknown, of which he was acquitted. In the course of the trial, which took place in the Forum before equestrian jurors, various strategies were essayed by the two principal advocates, of which some are preserved (or to some degree reshaped by Cicero). A pair of these is worth recalling briefly, both to establish a putative context for the words in which we are interested and because they provide neat examples of the kinds of associations beyond the trial and its words’ immediate location that I am seeking to explore here. One is the use of other speeches and texts, which each orator ordered to be read aloud by court readers: Brutus is said to have had sections of two of Crassus’ own earlier speeches read out to the court to point up inconsistencies in attitude, while Crassus, apparently stung by this, chose to have read out to the court three works by the prosecutor’s father, which specified several of his properties as their settings. This technique drew attention to his father’s legacy, including those very properties that Brutus had sold (in more heated terms, squandered: libidines . . . dissipauerunt). This treatment of his inheritance was a key part of Crassus’ attack on Brutus and also formed part of the second strategy that is worth noting: Crassus seized the opportunity (probably known to him in advance) of the passing funeral procession of an elderly Junia during the course of the court proceedings to suggest that she would carry to Brutus’ father and other ancestors (whose location he does not specify in Cicero’s rendition) an account of this squandered inheritance and of Brutus’ whole way of life, his failure to live up to the past and to the most famous Brutus of them all. The insult by Brutus consists of only two words: Venus Palatina (‘Palatine Venus’), in whatever case. It is topographically tied by the location of the house with the columns in question. Other, similar insults attested in the Late Republic come or are likely to come from later years – quadrantaria Clytemnestra (‘tuppeny Clytemnestra’, for Caelius), Medea Palatina (‘Palatine Medea’, for Cicero in 56 bc) and Xerxes togatus (‘Xerxes

44

include hardly any of Brutus’ own words and none in direct speech. The only excerpts from the words that were read out in the Planc(i)us case are not those originally spoken by Crassus and selected by Brutus but those chosen by Crassus. Cicero merely describes Brutus in terms such as homo in dicendo uehemens et callidus (sic; Cluent. 140: ‘a man forcible and skilled in speaking’) or in terms of Crassus’ feelings about him (De or. 2.222: quem oderat et quem dignum contumelia iudicabat [‘whom he hated and thought suitable for insult’]). Pliny’s own packaging of the insult Venus Palatina is well addressed by Schultze (2011), but she does not consider how Pliny knew it. Alexander 1990: 52, no. 98. Thus, 91 bc is a clear terminus ante quem given the discussion in De oratore; 106 bc a clear terminus post quem given the mention of the reading out during the trial of Crassus’ speech on the lex Servilia.

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in a toga’, so Pompey on Lucullus)45 – and use elements from the mythological canon in combination with terms from Rome. This phrase, in contrast, pithily encapsulates suggestions of a deity rooted in Rome. The choice of goddess and the topographical epithet together convey doubts about Crassus’ masculinity, the possibility of sexual incontinence on Crassus’ part (given that various Venuses with temples and cults in Rome at the time, such as Obsequens and Verticordia, were linked with unchastity, and Venus Erycina was associated with prostitutes),46 and the implication that Crassus is setting himself up as a godlike figure in an aedes Veneris Palatinae (‘temple of Palatine Venus’, by analogy), a temple-like structure given its degree of luxury. This is a magnification of the sort of worries raised in the speech considered earlier from Gellius, in which the relationship between individual and god is inverted or blurred. If the insult was indeed part of the repartee at the trial of Planc(i)us, part of what Brutus faced, besides criticism for selling off inherited properties, was the suggestion of disapproval on the part of his dead father and maiores, in some kind of unspecified afterlife, for his whole way of life.47 Brutus could have sought to puncture (or indeed could have provoked) Crassus’ onslaught by labelling him Venus Palatina. The name encapsulates many forms of transgressive behaviour in the realms of gender, sex, impiety and luxury. Multiple forms of criticism were listed by Crassus to be passed on by the dead Junia, namely, Brutus’ failures as a military man and as an advocate, as well as to live up to his maiores, but just as many are conveyed within these two powerful words, through which Brutus, if he did not seek to restrain the sorts of changes in practice that he was criticising, certainly played on a jury’s willingness to disapprove of them. Cicero explicitly describes with the words illis tragoediis the set piece in which Crassus made use of the topographical juxtaposition of trial and funeral in the central space of the Roman Forum; Cicero himself in the Pro Caelio of 56 bc famously enriched his own speech with a different genre, given a temporal juxtaposition of trial and ludi Megalenses.48 In one of the

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Clytemnestra: Quint. Inst. 8.6.53; Medea: Cic. Cael. 18; Xerxes: Vell. Pat. 2.33.4 (Pompey – on a number of occasions). On Venus in general, see Schilling 1982. Evans 2008 addresses mythological parallels and the putative construction aedes Veneris Palatinae; Schultze 2011: 184–6 details the Plinian context and Venus associations. Further examples of dead ancestors being given voice to criticise living descendants are discussed in van der Blom 2010: 93–6. For exploration from the angle of comic connections, see Geffcken 1973: 32; Leen 2000: 152; Leigh 2004: 304–5.

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many passages in which he paints her as meretrix, Cicero turns to Clodia and the gold that forms part of the charges against Caelius, asking tune aurum ex armario tuo promere ausa es, tune Venerem illam tuam spoliare ornamentis, spoliatricem ceterorum, cum scires, quantum ad facinus aurum hoc quaereretur, ad necem legati, ad L. Luccei, sanctissimi hominis atque integerrimi, labem sceleris sempiternam? huic facinori tanto tua mens liberalis conscia, tua domus popularis ministra, tua denique hospitalis illa Venus adiutrix esse non debuit.49 (Cic. Cael. 52)

Just as when Brutus attacked Crassus, Cicero’s aim here is not to change Clodia’s ways but to construct a picture of them that is just plausible enough (given that he is really describing a widowed matrona high in the social hierarchy) and certainly entertaining enough to make the jury want to do so. Though the Venus in question here is clearly a statue (either one invented for effect or one about which Cicero knew from Caelius), the image of it draped in gifts from multiple lovers triggers images of adulterous Aphrodite, as well as of the despoiling meretrix,50 an effect heightened by the mock cult titles spoliatrix and adiutrix, the latter of which is juxtaposed with the name of Venus, the former seemingly coined by Cicero for the occasion.51 Possessing a Venus with such attributes is enough to raise alarm bells about Clodia’s behaviour even before the suggestion of her having stripped the statue to provide gold for Caelius is considered. Relationships between individuals and gods, and between collectivities and gods, were crucial to the ways in which Roman society sought to cope with the larger changes it underwent in the years around Cicero’s lifetime, just as they were so earlier. These coping mechanisms ranged from invoking the role of divinity in devising appropriate honours for the powerful, especially for Caesar in the last years, to dealing with other practices that were perceived as threatening to the civic fabric, including worries about luxury and the appropriation of new resources from an expanding empire, or about manpower. Much valuable work has shed light on the role of 49

50 51

‘Did you dare, then, to fetch the gold from out of your chest, to strip of its adornments that Venus of yours, despoiler of your other lovers, when you knew what a terrible crime this gold was wanted for – to bring about the murder of an envoy, and to cast on L. Lucceius, a man with the most scrupulous sense of honour, the everlasting taint of criminality? That liberal attitude of yours should never have consented to so horrific a crime, that open house of yours should never have aided it, that hospitable Venus of yours should never been its abettor’ (trans. Berry, adapted). Cf. Ter. Hec. 63–5, with Leigh 2004: 303–4. Contra Dyck 2013, I would argue that the mock cult title is certainly not wholly undermined by the qualifier ceterorum, particularly when the adiutrix form occurs so soon afterwards and especially in a Rome in which Pompey’s theatre, with its shrine of Venus Victrix, was in the process of construction.

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divine vocabularies of various kinds in accelerating and coping with these changes. Here I have largely focused rather on some of the ways in which deities, including two whose importance in Rome certainly did not diminish over these years and whose place in the civic fabric even grew denser, could feature in public oratory in ways that allowed the speaker to try to take a stand against perceived changes. I am in no way suggesting that only these gods or only gods at all allowed them to do so. It is rather the connections between gods and other entities (whether Rome itself, a legion, myths, temples or a statue), as well as the latent qualities within the names of many Roman gods, which made them particularly resonant in forensic speeches and invective and especially in oratory to the people or Senate. Although the mode of argument in the examples I have explored is geared towards the audience in some respects, the choices made by speakers seem to have more to do with the demands of the moment, drawing on the most apt from a range of possible associations with the god in question. I suggested at the beginning of this chapter that religion and public oratory are both able to connect immediacy with some level of ‘transcendence’, albeit in rather different ways. It is the interconnectedness of these two, as of so many civic practices in Rome, that goes some way to explaining the similarity, with gods as one important resource shared by Romans and those speaking for and to them.

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part ii

Political Alliances

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chapter 5

Political Alliances and Rivalries in Contiones in the Late Roman Republic Francisco Pina Polo

The contio was the only institutionalised venue in which a Roman orator might address the people directly. Given that these popular assemblies were the only legal way in which direct mass contact between Roman politicians and the people was officially allowed, they became an imperative tool for the self-representation of those who wished to pursue a cursus honorum, for the contio was one of the instruments available to individuals to gain popularity but also to discredit an adversary. The contio thus served as a channel for communal information (for example, edicts were read to the people, military victories and defeats were publicly announced, funerary eulogies for the community’s most prominent men were delivered), as well as the main locus of public debate and the contact point between the Senate and the people through the word of magistrates.1 However, not everybody might speak freely in a meeting. As an officially sanctioned assembly, a contio had to be convened by a magistrate (though not by a pro-magistrate), who presided over it from the beginning until its conclusion. He decided who took the floor, the order of speakers and even for how long they could speak. Ancient sources define this power as potestas contionandi and never refer to a non-existent ius contionandi, that is, the supposed right of a citizen to speak in a contio, which as such never existed in Rome. Moreover, the chairman of the assembly could summon individuals chosen by him to address the audience. To describe this action, ancient sources very frequently use the expression producere in contionem. Consequently, a politician who was not a magistrate and wanted to deliver a speech to the people needed the cooperation of a magistrate willing to convene a meeting and allow him to speak. The invited orator was introduced or brought forth (productus) to the assembly and given the floor (contionem dare). 1

See Pina Polo 2011b and 2012. On the contio, see Pina Polo 1989; Hölkeskamp 1995 = 2004; Pina Polo 1996; Millar 1998; Mouritsen 2001; Morstein-Marx 2004; Jehne 2006b; Tan 2008; Hiebel 2009; Tiersch 2009; Yakobson 2010; Morstein-Marx 2014.

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This chapter focuses on these strategies as a means of disclosing, on the one hand, short-term or lasting political alliances and friendships within the Roman Senate and, on the other hand, enmities and rivalries among politicians. It will also discuss the role of communication with the people for some politicians in the Late Republic, specifically in the period between 140 and 40 bc. I will focus exclusively on the so-called political contiones and will leave aside legislative assemblies held during the compulsory period of three market days (trinundinum), during which the bill promoter invited orators to speak for the proposal (rogatio) and where it was also customary to authorise speeches against the bill.

Producere in Contionem as a Means of Pressure On some occasions, politicians who were summoned to the orator’s tribunal were put in awkward positions by being confronted with embarrassing questions, which was sometimes the goal of those who presided over the assembly. In 138 bc, there was a difficult social situation in Rome because of a significant increase in the price of grain. Tribune of the plebs Curiatius brought the consuls Scipio Nasica and Brutus to a contio.2 Before the people, the tribune urged the consuls to make a proposal in the Senate for the purchase of a quantity of grain. The purpose was ultimately to regulate the price of this basic foodstuff, thus making it available for the plebs. The audience presumably supported the initiative of the tribune, but this did not prevent the consuls from showing their opposition. When Nasica began to argue against the tribune’s proposition, the crowd interrupted him with shouts. The consul then asked for silence and declared that he knew better than the audience what was in the interest of the community. According to Valerius Maximus, this stopped the people in their protests at once, since they accorded much more weight to the auctoritas of the orator than they did to the current grain problem.3 Some years later, Scipio Aemilianus was brought to the speaker’s platform by the tribune of the plebs Papirius Carbo.4 Aemilianus had just returned from Hispania as the great victor over the Celtiberian city of Numantia.5 2 3

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Val. Max. 3.7.3. Cf. Jehne 2011: 111–12. This was not the only clash that year between Curiatius and the consuls. They were even imprisoned for refusing certain exemptions to the draft (Cic. Leg. 3.20; Livy, Per. 55). Cic. De or. 2.170; Mil. 8; Val. Max. 6.2.3; Vell. Pat. 2.4.4; Plut. Ti. Gracch. 21.5; Livy, Per. 59. Cf. Jehne 2011: 116–17. According to Valerius Maximus, Aemilianus was brought to the assembly by the tribune from almost the gates of Rome when he returned to the city from Hispania. If this was the case, Aemilianus would still have been a proconsul and would not yet have celebrated his triumph. For this reason, he

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Consequently, he was at that moment the most popular politician in Rome. Carbo asked Aemilianus his opinion about the recent death of Tiberius Gracchus, who was Aemilianus’ brother-in-law.6 Carbo had been deploring the murder of Gracchus in assemblies and was clearly hoping to impel Aemilianus to condemn it before the people. Nonetheless, Aemilianus dared to state that Gracchus had been killed justifiably. The audience reacted with virulent protests, to which the orator replied: ‘You keep quiet, you to whom Italy is a stepmother.’ According to Valerius Maximus, the crowd was immediately silenced, out of respect for the achievements of Aemilianus and his ancestors.7 In both examples, the ancient sources emphasise the auctoritas of orators faced with a hostile audience – in other words, their reliability and capacity to lead given the fact that they were prominent members of the Roman aristocracy.8 Nasica and Aemilianus were successful because they managed to impose their opinions against popular feeling by means of their oratory. In any case, tribunes of the plebs continued to use the same strategy when they tried to create or to demonstrate public opinion favourable, for instance, to a certain law project, to an electoral candidate or to the indictment of a politician. One of the most debated issues in the 70s bc was the restitution of full powers to the tribunes of the plebs, after the restrictions imposed by Sulla during his dictatorship.9 In this context, several tribunes carried out campaigns in contiones advocating the restoration of the tribunicia potestas. In 78 bc the matter was debated in a popular assembly. According to Granius Licinianus, the consuls in office were presumably brought to a contio in which some tribunes asked them to pronounce on the Sullan law. The consul Lepidus replied that the restoration of full tribunician power would not be useful for the community. Apparently he convinced a large part of the audience with his arguments.10 Two years later the tribune Sicinius brought the consuls C. Scribonius Curio and Cn. Octavius to a contio, again with the purpose of pressing them on the same

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probably delivered his speech to the people outside Rome, perhaps in the Circus Flaminius, not from the Rostra in the Forum, as stated by Valerius Maximus. See Taylor 1966: 20, n. 13. Astin 1960, 1967: 233–4. Val. Max. 6.2.3. Carbo changed his attitude completely as a consul in year 120 bc. When the tribune of the plebs P. Decius accused L. Opimius of having repressed Gaius Gracchus’ followers unjustly, Carbo argued that the killing of Gracchus had been of benefit to Rome (Cic. De or. 2.106, 132; Part. or. 104; Livy, Per. 61). 9 Pina Polo 2011b: 288. Millar 1998: 55–67. Gran. Licin. 33.14 Flemisch. Millar 1998: 58.

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subject.11 Whereas Curio spoke frankly against the restoration, Octavius remained seated in silence throughout the assembly. Neither the tribunes of 78 bc nor Sicinius achieved their aims, but they opened the way for subsequent successes, such as those of L. Quinctius and C. Licinius Macer in 74/73 bc,12 which eventually resulted in victory in 70 bc when Pompey, during his first consulship, promoted a law to return their traditional powers to the tribunes of the plebs. The question raised in 67 bc was of a different kind. M. Lollius Palicanus was running for the consulship of 66 bc, and the consul Piso was to preside over the elections. Some tribunes of the plebs who supported Palicanus demanded the presence of the consul in a contio.13 They asked him whether he would agree to make the official proclamation (renuntiatio) of Palicanus as consul should he be elected by the people. Piso answered that he did not think the citizens would vote for someone like Palicanus, whom Valerius Maximus describes as ‘a most seditious man’ (seditiosissimus). However, as the tribunes insisted, Piso responded sharply that he would not proclaim Palicanus as a consul in any case. According to Valerius Maximus, by this statement Piso avoided the election of Palicanus. As usual, Valerius Maximus once more praised the firm attitude of Piso before the people. Taking into account the fact that consuls were the highest magistrates of the Republic, as well as their role of being persons of trust for the Senate, it is easy to understand why they were asked to give their opinions about major political questions in assemblies summoned by tribunes of the plebs. But other magistrates could also be brought to the speaker’s tribunal if necessary, as happened to Cicero when he was a praetor in 66 bc. At the end of the year, C. Manilius, who had been a tribune of the plebs until 10 December as usual, was indicted.14 As praetor, Cicero had to preside over the court. Arguing that the trial should be held before the year finished and his office came to an end, Cicero gave Manilius only one day to prepare his defence instead of the customary ten days. Since Manilius was very popular, Cicero’s decision caused great discontent. Some tribunes of the plebs summoned Cicero to a contio, in which he was interrogated about the Manilius affair.15 Far from remaining firm in his position, Cicero changed 11 12 13

14 15

Cic. Brut. 217; Sall. Hist. 3 F48.8M. Pina Polo 1989: 286. Cic. Clu. 110–11; Sall. Hist. 3 F48.10M. Val. Max. 3.8.3. Vanderbroeck 1987: 226 suggests that the tribunes of the plebs may have been C. Cornelius and A. Gabinius, who, like Palicanus, were very close to Pompey. On this prosecution, see Lintott 2013: 146–7. Dio Cass. 36.44.2; Plut. Cic. 9.6. Vanderbroeck 1987: 229 points to Memmius as one of the tribunes presiding over the assembly.

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his mind altogether before the people. He criticised the Senate and promised to speak in favour of Manilius. His statement was welcomed by the audience, leading Cicero to take the opportunity to deliver a speech denouncing those who opposed Pompey.16 However, according to Cassius Dio, he gained a bad reputation in general because of his rapid change of opinion under popular pressure so that he was called a ‘turncoat’. Pompey was one of the most influential politicians of the period. This explains why he was brought to the speaker’s platform on several occasions. In January 61 bc, shortly after his return to Rome from the East, Pompey was called to a contio by the tribune Fufius Calenus.17 Since Pompey was a proconsul, the assembly was held outside the pomerium in the Circus Flaminius. It was market day, so the assembly was very full. The great topical issue at the time was the scandal of the Bona Dea and the defendant Clodius. Fufius, who was supporting Clodius actively, asked Pompey for his opinion about the court. The tribune presumably expected a statement favourable to Clodius’ interests, but Pompey preferred to give a vague answer to the Senate to avoid having to commit himself.18 In all the examples provided so far, tribunes of the plebs presided over the assemblies in which magistrates were summoned to address the people. More rarely, other magistrates in office used the same strategy as well. According to Suetonius, on the first day of his praetorship in 62 bc, Caesar called Q. Lutatius Catulus to an assembly to report to the people on how the restoration of the Capitolium was coming along.19 Catulus was responsible for the restoration, but Caesar wanted to grant this task to Pompey. It was customary in Rome that the orator in a contio always stood above his audience, delivering his speech ‘from a higher place’ (ex superiore loco), whether this was the Rostra or the podium of a temple. This up-down physical arrangement symbolised the political authority of the aristocracy and helped to reaffirm hierarchically the validity of the oration.20 This is the reason why Caesar did not allow Catulus to deliver his speech from the speaker’s platform. On the contrary, he forced him to speak ex inferiore loco, that is, from the space where the general audience of the assembly was placed.21 It was clearly an intelligent way to deprive Catulus of authority as well as to subject him to humiliation. Another praetor, Ap. Claudius, summoned Bibulus to a contio in 57 bc. His purpose was to aid his brother Clodius. The assembly must be 16 18 19

Plut. Cic. 9.7. 17 Cic. Att. 1.14.1–2 (SB 14). See Seager 2002: 77–8: ‘It is unlikely that Pompeius had wanted to speak at all.’ Suet. Iul. 15. 20 Pina Polo 2011b: 291. 21 Cic. Att. 2.24.3 (SB 44).

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understood in the context of the discussion on the legality of official acts performed during the first consulship of Caesar in 59 bc. Bibulus asserted before the people that Clodius’ adoption by Fonteius had been made against auspices and was therefore illegal. Consequently, Clodius’ tribunate in 58 bc would be illegal too, for he would not be a plebeian.22 Appius Claudius probably wanted Bibulus to withdraw when he felt pressed by the crowd, but this tactic failed. Both Catulus in 62 bc and Bibulus in 57 bc were prominent senators of consular rank, but they did not hold office in these years: they were priuati (Catulus was a pontiff). This shows that not only magistrates in office but also private persons could be summoned to a contio. As far as we know, only Roman citizens were usually summoned to contiones, the intervention of foreigners being exceptional. In 111 bc, the tribune Memmius brought to an assembly King Jugurtha himself and tried unsuccessfully to make him speak to the people.23 The audience was openly hostile to the Numidian king from the moment he was introduced to the speaker’s platform. Memmius delivered a speech recalling Jugurtha’s actions in Rome and in Numidia and his crimes against his father and brothers. When Memmius finished, he gave the floor to the king, but another tribune of the plebs, C. Baebius, who had apparently been bribed previously by Jugurtha, imposed his veto and forbade him to speak. The crowd reacted with aggressive protests, but nothing changed. Memmius failed, and the king was able to leave the Rostra unharmed. But this was not the only time during this period that a foreigner was brought to a contio. In a very different context, a Phrygian priest of the Mater Magna called Battakes came to Rome in 102 bc. Arguing that the temple in Pessinus had been profaned, he asked for a public expiation to be made in the name of the Romans.24 He was invited by a tribune to speak to the people from the Rostra, explaining how the expiatory sacrifices had to be made. On this occasion, no one prevented the intervention of a foreigner, because his words were to clarify the way in which the peace with the gods (pax deorum) could be preserved. Still more exceptional was the intervention of women in assemblies. Valerius Maximus states: ‘What do women have to do with an assembly? 22

23

Cic. Dom. 40. In this same passage Cicero mentions a related contio held in 58 bc, in which the tribune Clodius interrogated Bibulus and the augurs in order to demonstrate that Caesar had not respected the obnuntiatio of his colleague Bibulus, who claimed to have witnessed unfavourable omens throughout the year 59 bc. Cf. Cic. Har. resp. 48. Sall. Iug. 33–4. 24 Diod. Sic. 36.13.2.

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Nothing, if ancestral custom is to be preserved.’25 He then relates the singular presence in a contio of Sempronia, sister of the Gracchi. She was brought forward in 101 bc by a tribune of the plebs in the context of the public appearance of L. Equitius, an individual of obscure origin who was gaining increasing popularity.26 He claimed to be a son of Tiberius Gracchus, and this assertion alone was enough to give him visibility. In a very agitated Rome, Sempronia was introduced to corroborate or deny Equitius’ version in front of an audience favourable to the newcomer. Once more Valerius Maximus praises the way in which Sempronia was able to resist the pressure of the ‘ignorant crowd’ (imperita multitudo). However, it is not at all clear that she actually spoke. According to Valerius Maximus, the probably abundant crowd pressed her to kiss Equitius as a sign of acknowledgement, but she rebuffed him. Nothing is said about a speech or even a few words delivered by Sempronia to the audience. In fact, the idea of a woman giving a speech to the people was alien to the Roman mentality.27 This is probably the reason why Sempronia was asked to kiss Equitius, a visual gesture that could be easily understood without words even by those placed further away from the Rostra.

Taking the Floor: Cicero and Octavian as Orators before the People In contrast to the forced introduction of an individual shown by the preceding examples, other cases suggest that a previous agreement was made between the chairman of an assembly and an orator for the chance to address the people. Consequently, the orator voluntarily attended the assembly because he wished to make a statement, to defend himself from criticisms formulated by his rivals or attack them, to take part in a campaign to achieve a political objective or to fulfil another such agenda. Let us take Cicero as an example. As a senator, he could intervene in a senatorial session whenever he wished, especially when he reached the rank of consular and acquired priority in the debates. But he had potestas contionandi, that is, he was entitled to summon and preside over a contio, 25 26

27

Val. Max. 3.8.6: quid feminae cum contione? si patrius mos seruetur, nihil. Val. Max. 9.7.1–2; Cic. Sest. 101; App. B Civ. 1.32; De uir.ill. 73.3; Flor. 2.4. See Beness and Hillard 1990; Grunewald 2004: 159–60. The only woman who supposedly spoke in a contio was Hortensia in 43 bc (App. B Civ. 4.32–4). The triumvirs issued an edict requiring the richest women to donate a portion of their wealth for the war. Some of the women gained an exceptional presence on the orator’s tribunal by force, and Hortensia delivered a speech of protest until she was removed. Her speech was therefore irregular according to Roman customs, since nobody authorised her to speak. Actually, the triumvirs ordered her and the other women to be driven away from the tribunal.

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only as a magistrate. He was quaestor in Sicily in 75 bc, aedile in 69, praetor in 66 and finally consul in 63. This means that whenever Cicero as a private person wanted to attend a contio to deliver a speech to the people, he needed the cooperation of somebody with potestas contionandi, and he certainly used it at key moments of his political career. Once Cicero’s consulship came to an end in December 63 bc, the tribune Metellus Nepos began a campaign against him for having put to death Roman citizens without a trial. He prevented Cicero from delivering the usual speech a magistrate made when leaving his office and criticised him in contiones.28 Cicero could not tolerate the fact that public opinion was being turned against him. The best way to counteract Nepos’ speeches was to respond to him in the same venue. According to Plutarch, the tribune Cato opposed Nepos in contiones and supported Cicero’s behaviour during his consulship with determination.29 It is therefore very likely that he invited Cicero to talk in one of these assemblies. The Ciceronian speech is the so-called Contra contionem Q. Metelli, from which we have some fragments.30 A year later, in February 61 bc, someone, perhaps Cicero’s political ally the tribune Caecilius Cornutus, probably gave the floor to him again to defend himself from Clodius’ attacks in contiones. The Bona Dea affair had reached its climax. Cicero told Atticus how enthusiastically he assailed not only Clodius but also his adherents Piso and the elder Curio.31 The Ciceronian text does not state for certain that the speech was held in a popular assembly, but it is feasible if we take into account the political context and the habitual use of contiones by Clodius, a fact that compelled his rivals to employ the same strategy when possible. Cicero’s return from exile aroused a fierce debate in Rome. When Cicero eventually returned in September 57 bc, he made a speech in the Senate to express his gratitude (Post reditum in senatu), and he took the first opportunity to address the people. According to his own narration, he attended the assembly in which the senatorial decree granting Pompey the command of the grain supply for five years was read. When Cicero’s name was mentioned, the crowd burst into shouts and applause. Cicero saw his chance to deliver a speech that would introduce him triumphantly to the 28

29 30

31

Cic. Fam. 5.2.7–8 (SB 2); Pis. 6–7; Sull. 34; Rep. 1.7; Plut. Cic. 23.2–3; Dio Cass. 37.38.2; Gell. NA 18.7; Plut. Cat. Min. 26.2. Plut. Cic. 23.6. Cic. Att. 1.13.5 (SB 13); Gell. NA 18.7.7–9; Quint. Inst. 9.3.50. Crawford 1984: 96 suggests that Cicero delivered this oration on 7 or 8 January 62 bc. Cic. Att. 1.16.1 (SB 16).

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Roman people. This is his preserved Post reditum ad Quirites.32 Cicero says, rather rhetorically, that all magistrates who were attending the contio gave him the floor, with the exception of a praetor and two tribunes of the plebs. Actually, given the reason why the contio had been originally summoned, that is, the reading before the people of a senatorial decree, both consuls should have presided over the assembly. They were in all probability the magistrates who authorised Cicero to speak, as Cassius Dio specifically states.33 In any case, although Cicero clearly preferred oratory in courts and in the Senate throughout his political career, he also acknowledged the significance of oratory before the people.34 During his consulship in 63 bc, he spoke on several occasions in contiones convoked by himself as a consul. As a matter of fact, two of his four Catilinariae were delivered in contiones. This demonstrates his acknowledgement of the importance of speaking to the people and disseminating his own version of the events surrounding the conspiracy. Similar actions followed the assassination of Caesar in the last period of Cicero’s life, when he regained a leading role in the Senate and fought very actively against Marcus Antonius. Some days after Caesar’s murder, Cicero spoke in an assembly supporting the senatorial decree that prescribed an amnesty for the conspirators. The contio was summoned by the consuls Antonius and Dolabella.35 Cicero’s self-imposed retirement during the dictatorship of Caesar came to an end. In the last weeks of 44 bc and the first months of 43, Cicero acquired prominence in the Senate, but he also made an effort to communicate his ideas to the people. As a result, he delivered his fourteen Philippicae, in which the main target was Antonius. Two of them were delivered in contiones. For this purpose, Cicero needed the cooperation of two tribunes of the plebs. On 20 December 44 bc, M. Servilius convoked an assembly and gave the floor to Cicero, who delivered the fourth Philippica.36 On 4 January 43 bc, it was P. Apuleius who gave the floor to Cicero for his sixth Philippica.37 Cicero states that Apuleius had been close to him and to his thoughts since his consulship, and he emphasises their alliance 32

33 35 36

Cic. Att. 4.1.6 (SB 73). It is unclear, however, whether the surviving version of this speech was actually delivered: Lintott 2008: 8–9. Fifty-one years earlier Metellus Numidicus had also delivered a speech to the people after his return from exile. Either the consul Metellus Nepos or more likely the tribune of the plebs Q. Calidius summoned the contio for him. Calidius had proposed the law that recalled Numidicus from exile. Cf. Gell. NA 13.29.1. Dio Cass. 39.9.1. 34 On Cicero and his relationship to the contio see Pina Polo 1996: 119–26. App. B Civ. 2.142–3. Cicero mentions a speech on the same question in the Senate: Cic. Phil. 1.1. Cic. Phil. 4.16, 7.22; Fam. 11.6.3 (SB 343). 37 Cic. Phil. 7.22, 14.16.

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(coniunctio) and intimacy (familiaritas). Once more Servilius summoned a contio for Cicero at the beginning of March.38 The orator strained to the maximum to defend his proposal of giving Cassius Longinus the command against Dolabella. This was, as far as we are aware, the last known oration to the people given by Cicero.39 Octavian also provides a good example of using the speaker’s platform for his own benefit.40 When Caesar died, Octavian was an outsider, unknown to the Roman people. Caesar’s testament changed that forever, for he became the adoptive son and heir of the dictator and adopted the same name as his father. The young Caesar had no public office and was not a senator. The best method of becoming known and quickly gaining a presence within Roman society was to appear in a popular assembly. To this end, he needed an ally. The tribune of the plebs L. Antonius convoked a contio and gave the floor to Octavian.41 It was the beginning of May 44 bc, just a few weeks after Caesar’s murder. In his speech, Octavian introduced himself as the only legitimate heir of Caesar. He stated that he would respect the will of his late father, which included the granting of benefactions to the urban plebs. Thus he managed to turn his adoption, a private matter, into a political act. His first objective was fulfilled: Octavian was no longer an unknown teenager but the son of the soon-to-be deified Caesar. All of a sudden Octavian had become a political leader. In November of that same year, the young Caesar repeated this operation. The tribune of the plebs Ti. Cannutius – according to Appian an enemy of Antonius as well as an ally of Octavian – convened for him at least one contio.42 The tribune attacked Antonius and gave the floor to Octavian. On this occasion he made a speech with much more political content. He openly condemned Antonius’ behaviour and proclaimed himself the real political successor of Caesar. To emphasise this, he raised his right hand dramatically towards the nearby statue of the dictator as he 38 39

40 41

42

Cic. Fam. 12.7.1 (SB 367). Plutarch (Cic. 25.2) mentions two interventions of Cicero in contiones speaking about Crassus, one praising him and the other criticising him. The Greek author does not give any hint about the dates of either speech, both of which could have taken place in the 50s bc. Anyway, Cicero should have been a private person at the time. See Pina Polo 2011b: 293–4. Cic. Att. 14.20.5 (SB 374): exspecto, si, ut putas, L. Antonius produxit Octavium, qualis contio fuerit (‘I am waiting to hear, if as you think, L. Antonius has brought forth Octavian, what sort of speech he has made’), 14.21.4 (SB 375), 15.3.1–2 (SB 380). Dio Cass. 45.6.3 and 45.12.4 mentions two different assemblies convoked by Cannutius for Octavian (cf. 48.14.4).

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spoke, thus leading the gaze of the audience towards Caesar, so that Caesar’s adoptive son was implicitly identified with his figure.43 Octavian had without hesitation become another of the candidates for power. During the thirteen years between Caesar’s assassination and the battle of Actium, the question of who would take power in Rome was contested. Without doubt the matter was largely in the hands of the army and was essentially resolved on the battlefield, where legions loyal to one general or another fought in a nearly continuous succession of civil wars. Nevertheless, in the city of Rome, a parallel struggle to win the support of public opinion was going on, a propaganda battle in which the young Octavian acted with cunning and intelligence. In years before, the Roman people had endured civil wars, insecurity and violence, causing weariness and fear in the face of predictable new confrontations. For this reason, it was essential to seek legitimacy before the people, not through an ideological debate but by casting aspersions on the adversary. It was not a question of defending a political programme but of discrediting the enemy in moral and personal terms. A factor that would ultimately be of great significance in this struggle of personalities was the presence in Rome of Octavian. While his enemies dealt with duties in various parts of the Mediterranean, Octavian remained in the capital of the Empire. This allowed him to operate both in the Senate and before the people to drum up public opinion against Sextus Pompeius, who was presented as a friend of the pirates and ultimately as responsible for the city’s shortages,44 and against Antonius, who was denigrated as a traitor to Rome because of his union with Cleopatra, as his will clearly showed.45 Neither Sextus Pompeius nor Antonius could appear in person before the people to defend themselves.46 Octavian’s strategy was eventually successful: Pompeius was defeated at Naulochos and Antonius at Actium along with Cleopatra. Octavian remained the only candidate for power in Rome.47 43

44 45 46

47

App. B Civ. 3.41; Cic. Fam. 12.3.2 (SB 345). Cf. Cic. Phil. 3.23. Cicero says that he received a written copy of the speech when he was in Arpinum: Cic. Att. 16.15.3 (SB 426). App. B Civ. 5.77; Livy, Per. 128. Dio Cass. 50.3.5, 4.1; Plut. Ant. 54–5, 58–9. See Eder 1990: 98–9. These years also saw the circulation of pamphlets at Rome by both sides, as a complement to political propaganda deployed in contiones or as a replacement for speeches in popular assemblies, for instance Marcus Antonius’ De ebrietate sua, which sought to respond to attacks made by Octavian and his supporters (Plin. NH 14.148; Sen. Ep. 83.25). On the propaganda developed by Octavian and Antonius see Borgies 2016. On political pamphlets, see Rosillo-López 2017a: 132–8; 229 (on Octavian and Antonius in particular). Pina Polo 1996: 165–9.

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Producere in Contionem in the Decade of the Fifties Between the first consulship of Caesar in 59 bc and the outbreak of the Civil War in 49 bc, Rome experienced a period of social and political conflicts, with street riots that included the activity of violent gangs and suspension of elections. Contiones played a significant role in this atmosphere, especially because Clodius, one of the most active politicians in these years, attached great importance to his presence in popular assemblies. All sorts of matters were discussed in contiones, so having access to them could be crucial. Let us take three different confrontations during this decade as examples: the consul Bibulus against the political alliance of Caesar, Pompey and Crassus in 59 bc; the exile and return of Cicero in 58–57 bc; and the killing of Clodius and subsequent indictment of Milo in 52 bc. Once Caesar had revealed his agreement with Crassus and Pompey, the magistrates of that year and senators in general were impelled to adopt a position for or against Caesar’s bills, for or against the ‘triumvirs’. This was reflected in assemblies, which were somewhat dominated by the allies of the ‘triumvirs’. Cicero told Atticus that the younger Curio was the only man who publicly opposed the powerful imperatores, and for this reason, he received acclamations from many honest men in the Forum.48 Curio was at the time a private person, so somebody must have summoned a contio for him, perhaps one of the tribunes hostile to the ‘triumvirs’. One incident later in the same year of 59 shows that courage was indeed required to attend an assembly with the purpose of criticising Caesar and his allies.49 One of these hostile tribunes must have convened a contio for Cato, who wanted Gabinius, one of the consuls designate, to be indicted for bribery in the elections. In his speech, Cato dared to call Pompey a dictator. According to Cicero, he was barely able to descend from the Rostra alive, owing to the violent reaction of the crowd.50 This example demonstrates that the affinity between the president of the assembly and the orator did not necessarily extend to the audience. A tribune of the plebs had given the floor to Cato in order that his ideas would circulate outside the Senate but could not guarantee a supporting audience.

48 50

Cic. Att. 2.18.1 (SB 38). 49 Cic. Q Fr. 1.2.15 (SB 2). It was not the last time Cato attacked Pompey in a contio. During Pompey’s second consulship with Crassus, Cato as a private person opposed the consuls tirelessly. He tried to be elected praetor, but Pompey managed to prevent this. The Pompeian Vatinius was elected instead. A tribune of the plebs who opposed the consuls, presumably either P. Aquilius Gallus or C. Ateius Capito, convoked an assembly and gave the floor to Cato, who criticised the consuls (Plut. Cat. Min. 42.4).

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This incident also reveals that the audience in contiones was rather favourable to the ‘triumvirs’. As consul, Caesar could convoke an assembly whenever he wanted. By contrast, his enemy, Bibulus, the other consul, decided to remain in his house for most of the year as a protest against Caesar’s laws. He issued written speeches and some edicts, for instance trying to delay the elections. The edicts were read out in a contio as usual, and they were copied out and distributed,51 but Bibulus gave up defending his viewpoints directly in speeches before the people.52 His rivals, however, used this venue to disseminate their ideas. Caesar spoke in a contio against Bibulus’ edicts and urged the audience to go to his home as a way of intimidating him.53 Pompey also criticised these edicts in an assembly probably summoned by one of the tribunes supporting the ‘triumvirs’, perhaps Vatinius, the most active tribune throughout the year.54 At the beginning of autumn in 59 bc, an obscure affair emerged. An alleged conspiracy to kill Pompey was denounced by Lucius Vettius, a private person who was close to Caesar.55 Some of the most conspicuous rivals of the ‘triumvirs’ were supposedly involved. Although the plot was apparently just smoke, the matter was discussed in the Senate and afterwards before the people. The consul Caesar and the tribune Vatinius invited Vettius to explain from the Rostra in two different contiones who was responsible for the conspiracy.56 There is no evidence of assemblies counteracting Vettius’ statements. Eventually, Vettius supposedly committed suicide in prison. There are, however, reasonable suspicions that the promoters of the hoax, and especially Caesar, could have been behind his death. The affair had no penal consequences, but it did contribute towards the discrediting before the people of some of the enemies of the ‘triumvirs’, as well as probably the creation of a closer union among the three-headed coalition. The two great protagonists in 58 bc were tribune of the plebs Clodius, and the consular Cicero. At the end of 59 bc, Cicero had already told Atticus that Clodius had become his enemy.57 He therefore expected 51 52

53 54 55 56

57

Cic. Att. 2.20.4 (SB 40). Nonetheless, Cicero states that Bibulus became very popular because of his edicts and speeches (contiones) issued from his house. According to him, there was such great expectation that it was difficult to pass across the place where the edicts were posted because of the crowd that was reading them (Cic. Att. 2.21.4 [SB 41]). Cf. Jehne 2011: 118. Cic. Att. 2.21.5 (SB 41). According to Cicero, Caesar failed. Cic. Att. 2.21.3 (SB 41). The contio took place on 25 July. See Allen 1950; Taylor 1950; Lintott 2008: 173–5. A detailed account of the events occurs in Cic. Att. 2.24 (SB 44). Cf. Cic. Sest. 132; Vatin. 24; Suet. Iul. 20.8; Dio Cass. 38.9.4. Cic. Att. 2.21.6 (SB 41): Clodius inimicus est nobis (‘Clodius is inimical to me’).

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attacks from the very moment Clodius entered his office as a tribune, but he was not prepared to face the banishment that followed. Clodius promoted a law threatening exile to anyone who put a Roman citizen to death without trial. The law was clearly aimed at Cicero because of his execution of the Catilinarians. He tried in vain to gain the support of the consuls as well as that of Pompey and prominent senators. Feeling betrayed, Cicero went into exile. In order to isolate the ex-consul, Clodius used his oratory in contiones and mobilised the part of the populace that was favourable to him. For instance, he called Hortensius and the elder Curio to an assembly.58 They were, respectively, an augur and a pontifex, but neither held political office at that moment. Both consulars had taken an active part in a recent public demonstration of equites in favour of Cicero. Clodius wanted to discredit any sign of support for Cicero. To bring Hortensius and Curio to a contio was to expose them to the popular unrest of the campaign against Cicero. It is therefore not surprising at all that they were abused by the assembly. According to Cassius Dio, a part of the audience was formed of people hired by Clodius to generate hostility towards the orators, provided that they actually got to speak. The big question of the following year was whether Cicero should be authorised to return to Rome. Cicero was to wait with great impatience until August for the law to be passed that allowed him to go back, as a result of acrimonious discussion both in the Senate and in contiones.59 Once in Rome, his quarrel with Clodius did not by any means subside. Immediately after Cicero’s return, the recovery of his demolished house on the Palatine became the burning issue. A battle to win public opinion was also fought on this question, and again, the contio was the venue for the fight. Clodius was well aware that his political strength lay there. His brother, the praetor Appius Claudius, convoked an assembly for him. According to Cicero, Clodius told the crowd that the pontiffs were in agreement with him and not with Cicero and encouraged them to follow him, and his brother, in defending libertas.60 One must not forget that Clodius had erected a shrine dedicated to the goddess Libertas on the site of Cicero’s house. Eventually, Cicero got his house back, along with an 58 59

60

Dio Cass. 38.16.5. The approval of the law was preceded by the mandatory legislative contiones (Cic. Sest. 107–8; Pis. 34, 80; Red. sen. 26; Red. pop. 16–17), but there were no doubt other speeches on the subject, thus the Ciceronian reference to addresses in his favour delivered by L. Gellius Publicola and P. Servilius Vatia Isauricus (Cic. Red. pop. 17). Cic. Att. 4.2.3 (SB 74).

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indemnity, thanks to a senatorial decision, but this does not necessarily prove that he also won the battle for public opinion. Throughout the 50s bc, the personal and political enmity between Clodius and Milo was increasing, even to the point of public death threats. According to Cicero – and one must not forget his own enmity with those who had banished him – Clodius insinuated that Milo could be elected consul but also could die, while he threatened him openly in contiones.61 Both Clodius and Milo had armed gangs that had terrorised Rome in the preceding few years. The two politicians and their gangs met on the Appian Way in January 52 bc. As a result of the clash that followed, Clodius was assassinated, and his corpse was brought to Rome. After a simulacrum of pompa funebris (‘funeral procession’) and funerary eulogy from the Rostra (pro contione) by the tribunes Munatius Plancus and Pompeius Rufus, the corpse was transferred to the nearby Curia, which was turned into an improvised funeral pyre.62 Not only was the Curia burnt along with the body of Clodius but also part of the neighbouring Basilica Porcia.63 The following months saw unprecedented popular mobilisation calling for the prosecution of Milo. Once again, contiones played a very important role. Three of the tribunes of the plebs, Sallustius, Munatius Plancus and Pompeius Rufus, began a campaign against Milo, convoking assemblies almost daily.64 They were, of course, the main orators in most of these assemblies, but they also introduced some alleged witnesses to Clodius’ assassination. According to Asconius, Munatius Plancus brought Marcus Aemilius Philemon, a freedman of M. Lepidus, to a contio.65 He declared that he was travelling with four free men when they arrived at the place where Clodius was killed. As they tried to raise an outcry, they were taken away and confined for two months in a rural house of Milo’s. Asconius asserts that this story, whether true or false, caused great animosity against Milo. A triumuir capitalis was brought to another assembly by Munatius Plancus and Pompeius Rufus. The tribunes asked him whether he had arrested a slave of Milo’s as one of the murderers of Clodius. The slave had indeed been kept at the home of the triumuir, but the tribunes of the plebs Caelius Rufus and Manilius Cumanus, who supported Milo, kidnapped him and gave him back to Milo, wanting to avoid his testimony as a witness.66 Asconius states that Cicero certainly did not say anything

61

62 65

Cic. Mil. 26. Clodius was at the time a private person. Cicero gives no hint of who the convoker of the assembly could have been. 63 Asc. 33C. Sumi 1997; Pina Polo 2009: 97–9. 64 Cic. Mil. 12; Asc. Mil. 51C. 66 Asc. Mil. 37C. Asc. Mil. 37C.

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about this but that he himself had discovered the story and thought he should tell it. Milo also counted on supporters among the tribunes of the plebs. Caelius Rufus summoned an assembly for him a few days after the Curia had been burnt. Milo not only defended his innocence but also accused Clodius of having set an ambush to kill him on the Appian Way.67 Perhaps Caelius also allowed Cato, a private person, to speak in another contio in favour of Milo. Cato proclaimed that slaves who protected their masters, as Milo’s slaves had done when confronting the gang of Clodius, did not deserve any punishment but rather freedom and praise.68 As a matter of fact, Milo had manumitted his slaves the day after the clash with Clodius’ gang. Despite these areas of support, Milo clearly lost the battle in the street. Through very frequent contiones in which the same message was continuously repeated, the Clodian tribunes were able to maintain a permanent mass mobilisation and to rouse public opinion against Milo. Eventually, Pompey, who had been appointed sole consul to put an end to the riots and calm the situation in Rome, had no option but to promote the indictment of Milo, as had been demanded from the beginning by the Clodians.

Conclusions In the fundamentally oral society of Republican Rome, the contio played an essential role in transmitting information and ideas to the people. A politician who wanted to have a real presence within society and who wanted to influence the people was expected to intervene in contiones as an orator. Most politicians would probably speak in assemblies, if they ever did so, only when they had potestas contionandi as magistrates. But leaders such as Caesar and Pompey (when they were in Rome) and very active tribunes of the plebs such as Clodius needed to show up now and then, or even regularly, before the people. Oratory in contiones was a tool to persuade the audience and to cause ideas and opinions to circulate, an instrument to shape or at least initiate a certain public opinion. Ultimately, it was a powerful means of demonstrating leadership and ratifying auctoritas. Given that access to the speaker’s platform was not open to everybody, politicians searching for popular support needed the cooperation of magistrates willing to summon an assembly for them. On other occasions, some 67

Asc. Mil. 33C.

68

Cic. Mil. 58.

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of the most prominent politicians were brought to a contio for the purpose of finding out their opinion on a current topic, sometimes with the intention of embarrassing or pressing them. In both cases, the custom of producere in contionem, that is, of bringing somebody to speak in an assembly, was an essential strategy and vital to an understanding of how Roman politics really worked. Even politicians such as Cicero, who frequently despised the audience of assemblies as an ignorant crowd, felt obliged to appear before the people as a magistrate – praetor and consul – and as a private person. Others, such as Clodius, made the contiones their main political instrument. Some politicians used assemblies as a way to launch their political careers, such as the young Octavian. The strategy of bringing someone to the speaker’s platform was almost exclusively used by tribunes of the plebs. In around 90 per cent of the cases in which we know the name of the man who summoned the assembly, it was a tribune. And that was also probably the case in most of the instances where we can only speculate. The practice seems to have been completely accepted. When Cicero disqualified Vatinius for having brought the despicable Vettius to the Rostra, he stated that Vatinius had dishonoured that sacred place to which ‘tribunes of the plebs were accustomed to bring leaders of the city’ (ceteri tribuni plebis principes ciuitatis producere consuerunt).69 Obviously, this does not mean that it was forbidden for other magistrates to bring or to summon individuals to a contio under their presidency, but it was considered quite exceptional behaviour. As a matter of fact, we only know of a few examples of consuls and praetors who did this, for instance Caesar, who used that strategy as praetor and as consul. An assembly convened expressly for someone who desired to speak to the people implied a friendship or political alliance between the chairman of the contio and the invited orator, or at least an ad hoc agreement. The speaker presumably sought a friendly introduction and a welldisposed public, though this could not always be the case, given the unpredictable size and mood of the audience. At any rate, the guest orator was obviously willing to attend the contio, from which he hoped to obtain some kind of political benefit. But what about persons who were summoned to attend a contio to be interrogated before the people? Rather surprisingly, there is no evidence of anybody, either magistrates or private persons, refusing to attend an assembly to which he had been called, even if the president of the contio was a political enemy and a hostile audience was expected. As far as we 69

Cic. Vat. 24.

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know, the convoked persons went to the assembly and faced the situation using their powers of oratory, either firmly keeping their position or allowing themselves to be intimidated by the interrogation of the chairman or the uproar of the multitude. It seems as though this was regulated not by a law but by an unwritten rule which compelled anyone to respect the call of a tribune of the plebs or any other magistrate or did not allow anybody to refuse to speak before the people when required to do so. The summons should have been made in advance to allow the individual to prepare, but also in order to generate a certain expectation that would bring a wide audience to the assembly. The more popular the man summoned and the more topical the issue, the greater the anticipation would be. The call was probably announced when the contio was officially convoked. People would therefore have known in advance who the chairman of the assembly and the orator or orators would be. It is easy to understand the expectation aroused by a contio in which Scipio Aemilianus, Pompey or Cicero was going to speak for the first time after their return from Hispania, the East or Greece, respectively; or when the expected topic was the death of Tiberius Gracchus, the restitution of the tribunician powers or the circumstances surrounding the murder of Clodius; or when the unknown young adopted son of Caesar was going to make his first public appearance in Rome. One must not forget that, for the Roman people, a contio was a kind of performance that generated rumours and gossip that could circulate through the city, probably for days afterwards.70 Beyond the show, however, the contio was the main means by which the plebs could gather knowledge of the political positions of prominent senators on a particular question. The doors of the Curia usually remained open while a session was in motion, but the plebs had no proper access to the senatorial debates within the building. So how else could they find out what the leaders thought? From this viewpoint, the act of bringing forth a princeps ciuitatis to the speaker’s platform or of giving him the floor makes complete sense. The orator could either be obliged to give his opinion about the subjects on which he was interrogated, or he could choose to explain his ideas openly on his own initiative. In this way the plebs learnt, for instance, that Scipio Aemilianus condoned the murder of Tiberius Gracchus at the very moment he arrived from Hispania, something that they could not otherwise have known; that some consuls were against the restitution of all tribunician powers following the majority 70

Rosillo-López 2007, 2017a; Pina Polo 2010.

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opinion in the Senate; that Pompey was mildly in agreement with the Senate on the question of the court that should judge Clodius for the Bona Dea affair; that Cato and others defended the innocence of Milo in 52 bc, whereas some individuals testified against him; and that Cicero was carrying out in the Senate a fierce campaign against Antonius that he wanted to move to the assembly. Bringing someone to speak to a contio promoted a dialectical dynamism that allowed the plebs to obtain firsthand information on significant political debates as well as on alliances and rivalries within the Senate that would otherwise have remained hidden or nebulous to them. Table 5.1 Evidence of Producere in Contionem in the Late Republic (140–40 bc) Year

Convener

Subject

138

C. Curiatius, tr. pl.

131

C. Papirius Carbo, tr. pl.

123

C. Gracchus, tr. pl.

111

C. Memmius, tr. pl.

107

?

102

A tribune of the plebs

101

?

98

Q. Calidius, tr. pl.?

78

Q. Catulus, cos.?

78

Tribunes of the plebs

76

Cn. Sicinius, tr. pl.

67

Tribunes of the plebs

66

Tribunes of the plebs of 65

62

M. Porcius Cato, tr. pl.?

Both consuls are summoned (producti in contionem) to explain the corn price. Scipio Nasica speaks. Scipio Aemilianus is questioned about Tiberius Gracchus’ death. Gracchus orders Piso Frugi to be summoned. Discussion of the rogatio frumentaria. Memmius brings Iugurtha to a contio. Tr. pl. Baebius imposes his veto. Procos. Metellus Numidicus speaks against tr. pl. Manlius Mancinus. Battakes, a Phrygian priest of Mater Magna, asks for a public expiation. Sempronia is brought to the orator’s tribunal and asked about Equitius. Metellus Numidicus speaks to the people after his return from exile. Sulla’s funus publicum. Q. Hortensius probably delivers the funeral oration. Cos. Lepidus rejects the restoration of the tribunician powers. Both consuls are summoned to speak about the tribunician powers. Only cos. Scribonius Curio speaks. Cos. Piso is asked about the candidacy of Palicanus for the consulship. Pr. Cicero is asked to explain his intervention in the indictment against C. Manilius. Cicero is invited to defend himself against the accusations made by tr. pl. Metellus Nepos.

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Table 5.1 (cont.) Year

Convener

Subject

62

C. Iulius Caesar, pr.

61

Q. Fufius Calenus, tr. pl.

61

?

59

A tribune of the plebs?

59

?

59

Tribunes of the plebs?

59

Caesar, cos., Vatinius, tr. pl.

58

P. Clodius, tr. pl.

58

P. Clodius, tr. pl.

57

Ap. Claudius, pr.

57

?

57 57

Both consuls Ap. Claudius, pr.

55

A tribune of the plebs

54

?

Before 53

?

53/52 52

? M. Caelius Rufus, tr. pl.

52

?

Caesar summons Q. Lutatius Catulus to explain the restoration of the Capitolium. Pompey is invited to give his opinion on which jurors should judge Clodius in the Bona Dea case. Cicero speaks against Piso, Curio and Clodius. The young Curio opposes the ‘triumvirs’ openly. Pompey rejects Bibulus’ edicts delaying the elections until October. Cato calls Pompey dictator and is almost killed by the assembly. L. Vettius is brought forward to denounce the presumed plot to kill Caesar and Pompey. Hortensius and Curio are summoned to explain their support of Cicero. They are shouted down. Bibulus and the augurs declare that Caesar did not respect obnuntatio during his consulship in 59. Bibulus is summoned to speak about the legality of Clodius’ adoption. L. Gellius Publicola and P. Servilius Vatia speak in favour of Cicero. Cicero delivers his Post reditum ad Quirites. Clodius speaks about Cicero’s house and the sentence of the pontiffs as a response to Cicero’s arguments. Cato attacks Pompey and Crassus for the election of Vatinius as a praetor. Proconsul Pompey addresses the people outside the pomerium on behalf of Gabinius. Cicero praises and criticises Crassus in two speeches. Clodius threatens death to Milo. Milo defends himself from the accusations of Clodius’ followers after the latter’s assassination. Cato supports Milo for having freed the slaves involved in Clodius’ murder.

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Table 5.1 (cont.) Year

Convener

Subject

52

Munatius Plancus, tr. pl.

52 49

Munatius and Pompeius, tr. pl. ?

45

A tribune of the plebs

44

Antonius/Dolabella coss.

44 44

L. Antonius, tr. pl. Ti Cannutius, tr. pl.

44

Ti. Cannutius, tr. pl.

44 43 43

M. Servilius, tr. pl. 43 P. Apuleius, tr. pl. M. Servilius, tr. pl.

A freedman of M. Lepidus is brought to the assembly as a witness of Clodius’ assassination. A triumvir capitalis is brought to a contio as a witness of Clodius’ murder. Proconsul Caesar speaks outside the pomerium promising a distribution of grain. M. Antonius is summoned to clarify why he has returned from Gaul. Cicero argues in favour of the amnesty for Caesar’s assassins. Octavian is introduced to the people. M. Antonius is called to an assembly. He alludes to Cicero as intellectual author of Caesar’s killing. Octavian proclaims himself the political successor of Caesar. Cicero delivers his fourth Philippic. Cicero delivers his sixth Philippic. Cicero vindicates Cassius Longinus as the leader of the military operations against Dolabella.

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chapter 6

Theophanes of Mytilene, Cicero and Pompey’s Inner Circle Federico Santangelo

Most of the chapters in this volume deal with the wider structural factors that underlie the dynamics of Republican politics, shape the contexts and the strategies through which political debate and competition unfolded, inform the mechanics of persuasion and dissent, and bring about political success or failure. Conversely, the focus of this chapter is on an individual, albeit one through whom the significance of some major historical developments may be observed and understood in an especially fruitful light. Theophanes of Mytilene – or, to use his Roman name, Cn. Pompeius Theophanes – is a familiar figure to students of the relations between Rome and the Greek East and of the development of Roman citizenship. This chapter offers a reconsideration of his role in the political developments of the last decades of the Republic – an aspect of his life that tends to be understudied and the importance of which is usually underestimated.1 Emphasis will be placed on some issues that make Theophanes’ historical trajectory so remarkable and are of some significance to the wider remit of this volume: the unique or, at any rate, highly exceptional nature of the citizenship grant he received, the scope of the political work he carried out both at Rome and at Mytilene and the implications of his personal relationship with Pompey, considered in light of what it may reveal about the dealings between Greek and Roman elites in the Late Republic, on the one hand, and about the workings of the inner circles of major political figures in that period, on the other. Theophanes was a major figure in his time. He also wrote a literary work in which he gave an account of important aspects of that period and in which he conceivably had something to say about his own involvement in I am very grateful to Andrea Raggi, Giovanni Salmeri, the editors of this volume and the anonymous readers at Cambridge University Press for invaluable comments on earlier drafts of this chapter. 1 Cf. the important pointers in Laqueur RE s.v. Theophanes no. 1: 2092 and Welch and Mitchell 2013: 88.

128

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affairs of great historical significance. Unfortunately, none of the surviving evidence for his life reflects his own viewpoint or shows a positive bias: we hear about Theophanes from some of his contemporaries, and much of the information at our disposal betrays a hostile view – most strikingly in Plutarch’s discussion of his credibility as a historian.2 This discussion is based on the working hypothesis that such limitations may be overcome and that a more precise assessment of Theophanes’ historical and political significance may be offered. The starting point must be a brief summary of Theophanes’ biography, which objectively was an extraordinary one. He was a prominent citizen of Mytilene, on the island of Lesbos; his date of birth is unknown. By 67 or 66 bc, at any rate, he was certainly involved in local politics and had a sufficiently high standing to enable him to form a personal and political connection with Pompey, who was then leading his Eastern campaign. The circumstances that made this acquaintance possible are elusive. The Abbé Sevin, who wrote the first systematic study of Theophanes’ life and work, even made the suggestion that Theophanes belonged to a proRoman family that had to flee the motherland during the Mithridatic War and returned to the Greek East only during Pompey’s campaign.3 This view is unnecessarily speculative and is in fact almost conclusively disproven by an inscription from Mytilene in which Theophanes is honoured just with his patronymic, therefore presumably before he received Roman citizenship.4 The implications of the encounter between Pompey and Theophanes are twofold and, at least in one respect, especially remarkable. A passage of Plutarch shows that they met before Pompey’s arrival at Lesbos, which took place in the final part of the campaign: on that occasion, the city hosted a poetry competition which elected as subjectmatter the victory of Pompey.5 As Strabo makes clear, Theophanes had already spent time on campaign with him (it is unclear whether in an individual capacity or at the helm of a contingent of Mytileneans: that experience later proved of use in his literary pursuits). M. H. Crawford takes a disparaging view of the nature of the relationship between the two men: in his view, Plutarch’s account of the celebration at Mytilene shows ‘that what Theophanes provided for Pompeius in return for the freedom of Mytilene was a cultural ego-trip’.6 Maybe – the nature of the evidence prevents us from exploring in any detail the 2

3

Plut. Pomp. 37.3, 49.7. Theophanes’ testimonia and fragments are collected in FGrHist and BNJ (A. Kaldellis); see also the edition in Santangelo 2015, with an Italian translation and a commentary. 6 Sevin 1743: 143–4. 4 SEG XLII: 755. 5 Plut. Pomp. 42.4. Crawford 1978: 204.

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concerns and ambitions that drove their respective choices. In taking such a dismissive view of Pompey’s intellectual standing, Crawford follows an interpretative line that goes at least as far back as Mommsen.7 However, the delicate nature of the tasks that were assigned to Theophanes in the following years suggests that Pompey also came to rate his political ability quite highly, and there is no compelling reason to believe that he started to do so only sometime after the celebration in Mytilene.8 The possibility that the citizenship grant was a consequence of the remarkably close political ties between the two men, rather than Theophanes’ literary service to Pompey, is worth entertaining.9 Whatever the exact circumstances may have been, Theophanes persuaded Pompey to grant Mytilene immunity, hence undoing the arrangements that had been made in 80, when the city was captured by M. Minucius Thermus, 6,000 citizens were sold into slavery and punishment was inflicted upon it because of the support it had given to Mithridates.10 This development was within the framework in which other Greek cities had operated in the previous two generations. The commitment of some local notables played a crucial role in securing a more favourable status for cities such as Colophon in the late second century bc, through the embassies of Menippos and Polemaios after the Mithridatic War, and Pergamon, through the tireless work of Diodoros Pasparos.11 Theophanes, in fact, appears to have had a less burdensome task in this respect: there is no record of his presence in Rome before Pompey’s Eastern campaign, nor of any diplomatic mission of his. Theophanes was clearly regarded as a local benefactor by the Mytileneans12: when, two generations later, Strabo wrote about the notable men of Mytilene, he closely identified Theophanes with the freedom of the city, which, in his view, derived exclusively from the personal connection with Pompey. The second implication of their connection, however, is incommensurably more noteworthy for the purposes of this volume than the freedom grant to Mytilene. Pompey bestowed an individual citizenship grant upon Theophanes: on the surviving evidence, that act stands out as a major shift from established Roman practice. From the end of the second century bc, 7

8 9

10 11 12

Mommsen 1857: 416, ‘[e]in guter Offizier, übrigens aber von mittelmässigen Gaben des Geistes und des Herzens’. On this reading, cf. Morrell 2017: 87–8. Bowie 2011: 183. See Gold 1985: 320–1, 1987: 96; Labarre 1996: 46–50; Muntz 2017: 7; contra Laqueur RE s.v. Theophanes no. 1: 2094. Evidence in Magie 1950: 245–6, 1124, n. 41. Claros (Colophon): Robert and Robert 1989; Ferrary 1991 = 2017. Pergamon: Jones 2000. On the evidence for the honours that Theophanes received at Mytilene, see Magie 1950: 1230, n. 28.

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viritane citizenship grants were bestowed by magistrates upon individuals (usually of Italian or Iberian descent) who had served under Rome, for example, by Marius during the Cimbrian War or by Cn. Pompeius Strabo during the Social War13; as Martin Stone reminds us in Chapter 16, the Verrines mention several individuals from Sicily who received citizenship from Pompey in the late 80s bc.14 In the Greek East, however, the picture is different. The three men from Clazomenae in Asia Minor who fought alongside Rome during the ‘Italian war’ were granted an impressive set of legal privileges under a senatus consultum, passed in 78 BC, but those fell short of the citizenship.15 This is not the place to discuss whether there was a genuine drive on the part of men of Greek descent to receive the Roman citizenship, not least because it would have probably prevented one from playing a political role in one’s community of origin. Again, we are in no position to establish how Theophanes responded to Pompey’s grant and what conversations occurred before that concession was made. We hear about Pompey’s decision from Cicero’s Pro Archia, which enables us to date it before the early summer of 62 bc, and is also the earliest evidence for the circulation of a work in which Theophanes set out the res of Pompey.16 The grant to Theophanes was no backroom deal: quite the contrary, it was announced at a public gathering of Pompey’s soldiers, no doubt during the campaign. Cicero notes that it was saluted with assent by them, many of whom will have no doubt known about Theophanes because of his personal involvement in the war. Valerius Maximus, who – unlike Cicero – does not have to persuade his audience of the desirability of bestowing the Roman citizenship upon Greeks of some consequence, also records that Pompey gave a speech summarising Theophanes’ manifold merits and conveying the impression that the deeds that he had performed for Pompey were as considerable as the reward he received.17 The existence of this speech is noteworthy, even though we can only have a faint idea of its contents. The decision to bestow the citizenship on Theophanes may well have fallen within 13 14 15

16

17

Marius: Cic. Balb. 46; Val. Max. 5.3.8; Plut. Mar. 28.2; Pompeius Strabo: ILS 8888. Cic. Verr. 2.2.23, 102, 4.25, 28. RDGE 22, with Raggi 2001. Sherwin-White 1973: 294–5, 306–9 remains essential reading on this process. Pompey ORF4 111 F15 (= Cic. Arch. 24); Laqueur RE s.v. Theophanes no. 1: 2125, 2127 argues that Theophanes’ work was not finished by 62 bc. It is worth considering the likelihood that the narrative on Pompey may have touched upon contentious aspects of Roman politics, as the evidence for an attack on P. Rutilius Rufus suggests: see Plut. Pomp. 37 (= FGrHist F 1), with Anastasiadis 1999, Santangelo 2015: 99–103 and Thornton 2017: 40–1. Val. Max. 8.14.3.

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Pompey’s remit, but he felt that there was a need to make the case for it publicly.18 The citizenship grant was a sign of Pompey’s utmost favour towards Theophanes, of course, and also enabled him to stand out among the many foreigners who inhabited Rome at the time, as well as among the many members of the local elites throughout the empire who had close personal ties with members of the Roman elite and some political capital to be spent with the Senate.19 On the surviving evidence, the legal position of Theophanes has no equivalent in his generation.20 While absence of evidence is no evidence for absence, the exceptional standing of Theophanes is a fact of considerable historical significance. The contrast with the case of Pythodoros of Tralles, a personal friend of Pompey who belonged to a family of impeccable pro-Roman credentials and was not awarded citizenship, is worth pointing out.21 Some crucial aspects of Theophanes’ story are unknown: the reasons adduced by Pompey in support of his decision, the exact timing of the grant, its chronological and causal relationship with the decision to bestow privileges upon Mytilene and, most importantly, how this citizenship grant could be reconciled with the principle, famously set out by Cicero in the Pro Caecina (100) and in the Pro Balbo (28–30), whereby Roman citizenship could not be cumulated with that of another community. Cicero lamented that the Roman citizens, who accepted magistracies in the cities where they resided, unwittingly forfeited their status as Roman citizens but also pointed out that the principle of mutual exclusion could be (and indeed was) overlooked or disregarded with increasing frequency. The historical validity of the principle set out by Cicero is often maintained as central in some modern discussions, but should be qualified in two important respects. As D. Nörr and J.-L. Ferrary pointed out, it is based on an assumption that has little bearing on historical reality: the postulate that the citizenships of two different communities are of equal importance.22 In practice, the relationship between the two legal statuses is imbalanced, and from the Late Republican period onwards the cumulation of Roman and local citizenships becomes a marker of individual 18

19

20 22

Van der Blom 2011a: 562 suggests that the speech was also an opportunity for Pompey to advertise his military achievements. Bowersock 1965: 1–13 remains the classic treatment of the personal ties between members of the Roman Republican elite and provincial notables in the Greek East. Eilers 2002: 1–37 is invaluable on matters of definition regarding the ties of patronage and clientela against the wider backdrop of the Roman conquest; see esp. 29 on Pompey. 21 See Raggi 2010: 85, with further bibliography. Ferrary 2005: 55–6 = 2017: 270–1. Nörr 1963: 556–98; Ferrary 2005: 68–9 = 2017: 280–1.

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status, which has very strong repercussions in shaping a notable’s involvement in local politics precisely because it clearly asserts his connection with Rome. Moreover, in the Italian context, the ciuitas per magistratum (‘citizenship through holding a magistracy’) system in the Latin colonies explicitly afforded the possibility of acquiring Roman citizenship without ruling out the possibility of further political involvement in one’s home community. Finally, it is difficult to see how respect for the principle set out by Cicero could be enforced, especially in the hometown of the beneficiary, nor is there evidence for an effort to secure its respect on the part of the Roman authorities.23 Had Theophanes sought to be involved in the running of public business at Mytilene after his change of status, it is unclear who could have prevented him from doing so (let alone what interest the community would have had in pursuing the matter), nor whether anyone in Rome or any Roman magistrate would have taken action against him. At any rate, the problem did not arise in practice. After the end of Pompey’s campaign, the focus of Theophanes’ interests and efforts appears to have been in Italy and indeed in Rome. This does not preclude, of course, the existence of lasting ties with his motherland, which are strikingly confirmed by some epigraphical documents and are entirely unsurprising in light of the significance of the concessions earned by Theophanes on behalf of the city. Theophanes’ political involvement in Rome and in Roman affairs is reasonably well attested in evidence ranging across nearly two decades. It is equally important not to understand it in terms that, while stressing its exceptional nature, fail to do justice to its historical relevance. Sir Ronald Syme, for instance, almost seemed to apply to Theophanes the stereotype of the meddlesome Levantine: to Pompey, he was a ‘friend, domestic historian and political agent’, notable for his ‘influence and his intrigues’.24 In what follows I argue that Theophanes’ ‘intrigues’ were merely capable, if only partly successful, political work which set out to respond to the challenges of a complex historical context. As pointed out earlier, we learn about Theophanes’ political work chiefly from Cicero’s correspondence. The instances in which Theophanes is mentioned in Cicero’s letters to Atticus are barely more than a handful, but are concentrated in clusters that draw attention to moments of special historical significance for the men involved and for the 23 24

Nörr 1963: 563; Talamanca 1991: 720–1. Syme 1939: 76, n. 2. Cf. Welch and Mitchell 2013: 88, who speak of Theophanes as the leading figure among Pompey’s ‘literary agents’.

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res publica as a whole. The first few references take us to the spring of 59 bc, a period in which Clodius’ initiative to send Cicero into exile was looming large on the horizon. Indeed, the first appearance of Theophanes is in a letter in which Cicero discusses the possibility of him taking up a diplomatic mission to Alexandria in the following weeks (Att. 2.5 [SB 25]); that prospect, which was warmly encouraged by Caesar and Pompey, would have enabled a diffusion of the tension with Clodius for the months to come (shortly before Clodius had refused a similar offer to go on a mission to Armenia). The offer was not made formally, but was apparently mentioned in conversations, or was rumoured; interestingly, Cicero instructs Atticus not to dismiss the option out of hand should he happen to be approached by Theophanes about it. This brief reference is a striking illustration of one of the forms that Theophanes’ political role could take: he, as a friend and associate of Pompey, may conceivably approach Atticus, a close of friend of Cicero, in order to have a preliminary conversation on a proposal that might involve Cicero and the outcome of which would then feed into the process leading to a final decision on the possible assignment of the Egyptian mission. As a competent political operator, Cicero has to be aware of the possibility that this sort of collateral moral suasion may take place, and the brevity with which he can afford to impart instructions to his trusted friend leaves in no doubt Atticus’ ability to act in that context. As it happened, Cicero chose not to pursue that prospect, which would have left him in too heavy a debt to Caesar and Pompey, but Theophanes’ involvement in this conversation shows the importance of his political role, and other letters show the significance of his conversation with Cicero. A letter from a couple of weeks later includes a reference to another conversation between Atticus and Theophanes (2.12.2 [SB 30]), on which Atticus had reported in a letter to Cicero that, of course, does not survive. At this point in time, Cicero does not seem to have a close relationship with Theophanes; in a letter sent to Atticus in May (2.17 [SB 37]), he laments that Pompey is now openly seeking regal power, calls him Sampsiceramus and Arabarches and then urges his friend to approach Theophanes and gauge what Pompey’s attitude towards Cicero may actually be.25 Atticus, in his view, can afford to speak to Theophanes in the name of a close personal connection with Cicero, which is intriguingly conveyed in Greek, κατὰ τὸ κηδεμονικὸν (‘as a relative’), and is probably a reference to the fact that Atticus’ sister was the sister-in-law of Cicero: Atticus could purport to be 25

Laqueur RE s.v. Theophanes no. 1: 2096 argues that this is an ironic allusion to Theophanes’ own work, where Pompey’s campaign against the Arabs was no doubt discussed.

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enquiring because of his quasi-family connection with Cicero. The implication of this explicit request is that Theophanes is well informed about Pompey’s views, and at the same time, he can be relied upon to divulge information that Pompey may not be equally keen to share. Whether that expectation on Cicero’s part was correct or not is impossible to establish. The resort to the mediation of Atticus and Theophanes is also made necessary by the fact that a frank conversation between Cicero and Pompey is apparently unrealistic. The two men therefore act as intermediaries and interpreters of the aspirations and concerns of their more distinguished friends. A different line of explanation may also be pursued. Perhaps Pompey’s attitude towards Cicero was a matter on which Theophanes may have liked to be asked for an opinion, and seeking his views might lead him to a have a more favourable attitude towards Cicero in the longer term, quite apart from the information that he might be able or willing to offer on that occasion. We do not know what the outcome of the exchange was, or whether Cicero and Theophanes had further political contact in this period, be it directly or not. It is a fairly safe guess that some conversations did occur. Nearly a decade later, in February 49 bc, Cicero expressed regret to Atticus for having mishandled the very difficult situation immediately preceding his exile (Att. 8.12.5 [SB 162]): he was always driven by a strong sense of duty, which led him to overlook valuable advice from Atticus. He should have heeded the calls that Atticus conveyed to him through Theophanes and Q. Terentius Culleo (trib. 58 bc). In this account, Theophanes was not just Pompey’s friend; he was also someone who enjoyed Atticus’ trust to the extent that Atticus could rely upon him to convey a message to Cicero. The impression, which is, of course, impossible to prove, is that these letters offer merely a few snapshots from a series of political and personal conversations between the three men, the evidence for which is mostly lost. However, after Cicero’s exile Theophanes disappears from his correspondence for several years. This is certainly not a symptom of his diminished political relevance. In 56 BC, he played a role of some significance in the legal controversy concerning the entitlement to the Roman citizenship of the rich Gaditane notable L. Cornelius Balbus.26 Theophanes had formed a close personal connection with Balbus by agreeing to adopt him, sometime after his citizenship grant (Balbus had been enfranchised several years before him, in 72 bc).27 Cicero briefly points out in his 26

27

Brunt 1982. For a recent discussion of Balbus and his place in the history of foreign clientelae, see Beltrán Lloris 2015. Under the lex Gellia Cornelia, see Rotondi 1912: 367.

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speech on behalf of Balbus that the adoption had met with strong criticism but stresses that his client had merely gained the right to inherit the property of his own relatives.28 The meaning of this remark is far from clear. It might imply that the adoption followed intermarriage between the families of the two men and entailed no immediate financial advantage for Balbus or that there would have been some gain for Balbus only if Theophanes had died.29 Whatever the correct reading may be, Cicero’s publicly stated view certainly does not coincide with the comment that he made in a private letter he wrote in December 50 bc, in which he included the adoption of a Gaditane by a Mytilenean among the symptoms of the political and moral crisis that contemporary Rome was going through, along with the disproportionate wealth that some men had gathered, the adoption of the patrician Clodius into a plebeian family and Cicero’s own exile. This reference is an argument in support of those who view Balbus’ adoption as a political operation that would not have been possible without the involvement and support of the powerful patrons of the two men.30 This is likely to have been the case, although it is misguided to regard it as a mere by-product of the so-called First Triumvirate, an arrangement that was intended to bring Caesar and Pompey even closer by establishing a family link between their protégés. We do not know what consequences this connection entailed for either Theophanes or Balbus. It is also impossible to tell whether his association with Balbus was of any help to Theophanes at the end of the Civil War. At no point in what survives of his correspondence does Cicero express appreciation for Theophanes. On various occasions, however, he refers to him as a political presence to be reckoned with. His proximity to Pompey remains the decisive factor, but Theophanes gradually emerges as an increasingly forceful and distinctive political presence. In July 51 bc, Cicero discussed with Atticus his doubts surrounding Pompey’s plans: Varro had written to him that Pompey intended to leave Rome for Spain, and Cicero shared that impression.31 He also found that prospect, however, very undesirable and shared his reservations with Theophanes, with a view to him conveying them to his patron. Theophanes was in agreement with him, and Cicero hoped that he would be willing and able to persuade Pompey. In the same sentence, he refers to him as a Graecus (‘Greek’) in a way that seems at best condescending and then adds that Theophanes had the utmost level of auctoritas with Pompey.32 By this 28 30 31 32

Cic. Balb. 57. 29 Lindsay 2009: 172–3. See e.g. Laqueur RE s.v. Theophanes no. 1: 2095–6. Cic. Att. 5.11.3 (SB 104). See Seager 2002: 141, 234, n. 61. Bowie 2011: 182: ‘Cicero thought he could score points’.

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point Theophanes is no mere agent of Pompey; he is an advisor whose views are taken very seriously. During the Civil War, some of the views held by Theophanes are regarded as very substantial threats to the safety of the res publica and Italy. In two letters written from Formiae in March 49, Cicero polemically singles out Theophanes and Lucceius as dangerous advisors to Pompey, who are urging him to leave Italy to concentrate his energies in the East and launch a re-conquest of Italy from there in due course.33 Cicero is clearly incensed at that prospect, which would create a dangerous power vacuum in Italy and would bring about a situation of unprecedented instability, from which any outcome could potentially emerge. Yet, he cannot afford to choose a different course of action: ‘I had best show myself a good citizen by carrying war into Italy by land and sea . . . and execute the counsels of Lucceius and Theophanes.’34 Despite Cicero’s protestations, which were no doubt shared by others, Pompey chose that very option. The difference in social standing between the two advisors is noteworthy. L. Lucceius’ friendship with Pompey dates back to the days of the so-called First Triumvirate; he supported Caesar’s candidacy to the consulship of 59 bc.35 By then, Lucceius was a praetorius, having held that magistracy in 67, but his wealth was arguably the main factor that made him politically relevant; his bid for the consulship was unsuccessful. There is no evidence that Theophanes ever undertook the cursus honorum, but his level of influence on Pompey was comparable to that of a former praetor of considerable financial means such as Lucceius. From Cicero’s standpoint, the influence of those two men was objectionable for another reason: instead of resorting to the advice of a distinguished consularis, Pompey was following the suggestions of men of far lesser distinction, one of whom was even a naturalised Roman citizen who did not belong to the senatorial order. Two weeks later, Cicero conveys to Atticus reports that he has received of the arguments used by Pompey in some conversations held at Brundisium, where he was waiting to cross over to Greece. Pompey had apparently used threatening language, alluding to the prospect of proscriptions and an attack on the Optimates.36 He was imitated by those who were around him: Lucceius, as well as a host of Greek gentlemen, among whom Cicero singles out Theophanes. Cicero immediately rushes to point out that he has nothing in common with individuals of that sort but has to join 33 34

35

Seager 2002: 161. Cic. Att. 9.1.3 (SB 167): ut boni ciues simus, bellum Italiae terra marique inferamus . . . et Luccei consilia ac Theophani persequamur. Suet. Iul. 19.1. 36 Cic. Att. 9.11.3–4 (SB 178).

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forces with them in order to escape the horrors (has pestis) that surround him: ‘any hope of salvation rests with these men’.37 Cicero’s reservations about Theophanes were also tinged with thinly disguised anti-Greek feelings. They are implicit in the dismissive reference to the tota Grecia, the group of Greek advisors and clients that surround Pompey at Brundisium, and they are already apparent in the brief reference to the influence that Theophanes has on Pompey in the letter of July 51 bc. They are even more brutally explicit in an anecdote related by Plutarch: during the war, Theophanes consoled the Rhodians, who had sided with Pompey and lost their fleet. Cicero heard about the praise that Theophanes had received for his behaviour towards the allies and exclaimed disparagingly, ‘what a wonderful thing, to have a Greek as prefect!’38 This statement is not at odds with what we find in the correspondence and was not unparalleled. As Plutarch points out, Cicero did himself no favours in openly stating his reservations about, or indeed contempt of, the advisors that Pompey had chosen. Plutarch’s passage is further confirmation of the central role that Theophanes had gained in the group of people that surrounded Pompey during the war. Far from being just an informal advisor, bound to the commander by a personal association, he had an official role: Plutarch’s literal translation of a Latin title leads to the conclusion that Theophanes was praefectus fabrum in Pompey’s army. Theophanes’ familiarity with military life was not a novelty: he was made a Roman citizen at a military contio and followed Pompey for a long phase of his Eastern campaign.39 Plutarch’s literal rendition of the Latin title, however, entails a serious shortcoming: the role of praefectus fabrum is not confined to directing the work of engineers on the camp. To use R. Syme’s modernising definition, the praefectus fabrum in the Late Republic was ‘the chief of staff to a holder of imperium’.40 The task involved some expertise in the handling of logistical problems but had much wider significance. It was normally entrusted to a man of equestrian standing. Among others, Balbus held that very task in Spain under Caesar.41

37 38

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Cic. Att. 9.11.4 (SB 178): omnis spes salutis in illis est. Plut. Cic. 38.4: ἡλίκον’ εἶπεν ‘ἀγαθόν ἐστι Γραικὸν ἔχειν ἔπαρχον. Lintott 2013: 192 points out that the term Γραικός is derogatory; cf. also Plut. Cic. 5.2. Cf. Strabo 11.5.1: συστρατεύσας τῷ Πομπηίῳ; Welch 1995: 140 overrates Theophanes’ military experience, while Badian 1997: 7 downplays it unduly. Faoro 2011: 20 sees Theophanes’ praefectura as a military advisory role. Syme 1964: 28 = 1979: 524. Syme 1939: 355; Badian 1997: 5 notes that the date of his appointment is uncertain.

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The most emphatic confirmation of the political significance of Theophanes, however, does not come from an unsympathetic acquaintance such as Cicero but from a shrewd enemy such as Caesar. In the third book of the De bello ciuili, Caesar records the attempts he made to avoid a full-scale military confrontation as late as the weeks preceding Pharsalus, when both armies were deployed in Greece (3.18.3–5). He sent his prisoner L. Vibullius Rufus to bring a personal message to Pompey, which was conveyed in the presence of the men ‘with whom Pompey was used to confer most regularly’:42 L. Scribonius Libo (by that point a praetorius), L. Lucceius and Theophanes. Their presence in the room is surely an indication that Pompey was considering discussing the contents of the message that Vibullius was about to convey. The terms of the message, however, made Pompey’s decision very simple. He gave a firm reply, interrupting his interlocutor without consulting his friends: he was not prepared to accept the terms set by Caesar.43 Caesar’s passage is the most explicit attestation in the ancient evidence of the existence of what may be termed – resorting to a modern concept that carries some explanatory power in the study of Roman politics – an ‘inner circle’ of Pompey. The suggestion is not new: R. Laqueur already spoke of an ‘engstes Gremium’ of Pompey.44 The inner circles of major political figures, whether in antiquity or in modern times, are structures of varying degrees of formalisation, which bypass institutional frameworks and often deal with confidential and problematic issues, but are usually not secret per se. Their shape depends on the leadership style and priorities of the individual around whom they rally. Different leaders will have different ways of recruiting, dealing with and dismissing their advisors. Some of them will tend to rely on the same core of confidants from the same political and social background for a considerable stretch of time, whereas others choose them from a range of different quarters and tend to replace them frequently.45 In Republican Rome (a world where nothing even remotely comparable to modern political parties existed) there was a consolidated tradition of informal political conversation and activity surrounding both serving magistrates and figures of some distinction – in 42 43 45

Caes. B Civ. 3.18.2: quibuscum communicare de maximis rebus Pompeius consueuerat. Seager 2002: 165. 44 Laqueur RE s.v. Theophanes no. 1: 2098. Ramsey 2004 uses the notion of ‘inner circle’ unproblematically in a discussion of Caesar’s politics in 46–45 bc; the case of L. Calpurnius Piso, discussed by Cas Valachova in Chapter 7, is noteworthy. See also Kit Morrell’s discussion in Chapter 8 of the short-lived but significant collaboration between Pompey and Cato’s ‘circle’ in 52 and Cato’s apparent involvement as an informal advisor to Pompey at the time (Plut. Cat. Min. 48.1–2); cf. Morrell 2017: 204–207. For a close study of a latetwentieth-century inner circle, cf. Preston 2001.

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peacetime and on campaign – and individual members of the elite, whether within one’s family or in one’s circle of friends. There is no reason to think that Pompey was atypical in his decision to surround himself with advisors whom he trusted and resort to their advice frequently. We just happen to know about his dealings with his advisors slightly better than is the case with other figures of comparable prominence. Not over-interpreting whatever precious little evidence we have is crucial. Speaking of a ‘foretaste of secret rule’, as Syme did, is somewhat misleading46; as we have seen, there is no evidence for secret or covert operations conducted by Theophanes. His political work at times revolves around delicate and confidential issues, but that is not remarkable in itself. Moreover, it was common for a serving magistrate, especially in a province, to have a group of advisors supporting him in his duties.47 What is noteworthy, in this case, is that Pompey surrounded himself with a circle of trusted advisers at various points during his political career, even when he was not holding a magistracy. It is impossible to establish how unusual that arrangement was: none of the sources that discuss the work of Pompey’s advisers points out that there is anything exceptional about their involvement. If one were to draw an analogy with the previous generation, there are some surviving traces of the close association between Sulla and several individuals, whether of senatorial status (such as Lucullus, L. Valerius Flaccus or Pompey himself), or – in the hostile tradition – of far less distinguished ancestry, such as Chrysogonus, Epicadus or Tarula – the satellites of Sulla chastised by Sallust in the Oratio Lepidi.48 As Cicero’s Pro Roscio Amerino strongly suggests, Chrysogonus is likely to have been a shrewd and ruthless political operator, especially in the season of the proscriptions, but the evidence gives no elements to establish what the nature and quality of his political work were. Pompey also established a close personal association with a Greek freedman, Demetrius of Gadara, whose wealth and influence on him irritated Cato,49 but we do not find Demetrius at work as a close political advisor anywhere in Cicero’s letters or elsewhere in the ancient evidence.50 This would suggest that Theophanes had something to offer to Pompey’s cause that not all of his Greek friends could, and which proved especially valuable in the complex context of the 50s bc, when Pompey was one of the most influential men in Rome, played 46 49 50

Syme 1939: 407. 47 Marquardt 1881: 531–3. 48 Sall. Hist. 1 F55.2M. See Syme 2016. Plut. Pomp. 40; Cat. Min. 13.2–3. In Cic. Att. 4.11.1 (SB 86), from June 55 bc, he is cursorily mentioned as a potential source on Pompey’s current plans.

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a central role in the political arena but did not have an official status for the best part of the decade. What commands the attention of contemporary sources, in Theophanes’ case, is the social and ethnic background of the individual advisor – not his involvement with complex political matters. As we have seen, after the outbreak of the Civil War, Pompey made an effort to recognise the role of at least some of his advisors in an official capacity. By contrast, there is nothing quite comparable in the Pompeian camp to what one can see at work around Caesar between 46 and 44 bc: a complex network of advisers and specialists that J. Malitz aptly called the ‘Kanzlei’ of Caesar.51 The list of the attested praefecti fabrum (drawn up by K. Welch) shows that they were typically individuals of equestrian rank who enjoyed a close personal relationship with the magistrate who appointed them.52 None of them appears to have become a member of the senatorial order, with the notable exception of Cornelius Balbus, who was appointed praefectus fabrum by Caesar twice, first during his praetorship and later during his consulship, long before he embarked on the cursus honorum.53 When Pompey appointed Theophanes to the office of praefectus fabrum in 49 bc, he was building on a precedent in which a recently enfranchised citizen had been assigned the post. Moreover, Pompey is known to have appointed two more people to that role in 49: L. Vibullius Rufus, who was involved with recruitment operations in central Italy until he was captured at Corfinium by Caesar and had also acted as a conveyor of messages from Pompey to Cicero in the aftermath of the conference of Luca (Q Fr. 3.1.18 [SB 21], September 54 BC and Fam. 1.9.10 [SB 20], October 54) and, as we saw earlier, from Caesar to Pompey during the Civil War, and Numerius Magius, who, interestingly, was, like Theophanes, a new citizen – albeit of northern Italian background, since he hailed from Cremona.54 While it is excessive to argue that Pompey tried to confer an official status on these men because he saw that there was a problem, whether real or perceived, with the status of the members of his inner circle, the position of these praefecti fabrum is remarkable and brings us back to the problem of the status of the individuals who surrounded Pompey before and during the Civil War. 51

52

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Malitz 1987; cf. also the reference to φίλοι of Caesar in Plut. Brut. 7.3, discussed by Cas Valachova in Chapter 7. Welch 1995; however, there is no firm evidence that equestrian status was a prerequisite (Badian 1997: 3). It is doubtful whether Caesar expected him to remain priuatus; contra Welch 1995: 136. He may have been the maternal grandfather of the historian Velleius Paterculus: Vell. 2.76.1, with Woodman 1983: 185.

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Whatever the exact implications of his official title may have been, Theophanes was among those who surrounded Pompey in the immediate aftermath of Pharsalus and in an advisory capacity that is fully in keeping with what is known about his involvement with Pompey in the previous years. Shortly after the battle, Pompey docked at Mytilene, where he was joined by his wife Cornelia: her presence in this town in August 48 bc is further confirmation of the strength of the ties it had with Pompey. Plutarch singles out Theophanes’ contribution to the debate that took place among the members of Pompey’s entourage on the safest destination for his escape. Pompey’s preference was for Parthia, other unnamed advisors suggested Libya, while Theophanes made the case for Egypt in an argument that was based on ostensibly sound political reasoning.55 Ptolemy had a debt towards Pompey, whereas the Parthian King Arsaces had no ties with Rome, and there was no way of predicting what sort of host he would have turned out to be. Plutarch had access to traditions that looked at the role of Theophanes with ill-disguised hostility, and these may conceivably be reflected in this passage.56 There were different accounts of that fateful debate: Lucan attributes the suggestion to P. Cornelius Lentulus Spinther (a distinguished member of the Pompeian camp but no close associate of Pompey himself), Appian states that the decision in favour of Egypt was made unanimously by the whole circle of Pompey’s advisors after they had discarded the option of an escape to Parthia, while Velleius argues that the choice to go to Egypt was made by Pompey himself.57 It is unclear what destiny befell Theophanes after the tragic demise of his patron – what his movements were and what impact his connection with the defeated camp had on his fortune and his political and social standing. He certainly survived, though, and was pardoned by Caesar sometime later. He makes his final appearance in the literary record in a letter that Cicero wrote to Atticus in mid-June 44 bc.58 Cicero cursorily mentions a letter that Theophanes sent him a few days earlier, asking for a meeting in which he intended to discuss both his own affairs and issues of concern to Cicero. It is unclear how Cicero intended to respond to that invitation; the following sentence suggests that he would have welcomed Atticus’ advice on the terms of a possible reply. It is a reasonably safe assumption that Theophanes’ letter was written in Italy and that the meeting was due to take place in Rome or in one of Cicero’s country 55 56

57

Plut. Pomp. 76.6–9. Cf. Pomp. 37.2–3. Canfora 1999: 212–13 also draws attention to the literary strategy of Plutarch, who appears keen to depict a downfall that Pompey could have avoided at various junctions. Seager 2002: 167, 242, n. 136. 58 Cic. Att. 15.19.1 (SB 396).

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residences.59 We do not know whether this was intended to be the first encounter between the two men since the end of the war, nor can we say anything informed about the object of the conversation that Theophanes hoped to have. The suggestion that he intended to approach Cicero on behalf of Sextus Pompeius is intriguing but unfounded,60 nor is there is a cogent reason to see in the brief reappearance of Theophanes an indication that ‘the genuine Pompeiani were attempting to regroup’ in the late spring of 44 bc.61 A connection with Sextus Pompeius, in fact, is not entirely certain even in the following years, although a monument at Mytilene included three inscriptions that honoured, respectively, Cn. Pompey, Theophanes and Potamon.62 Theophanes is mentioned with the name of Zeus Eleutherios, and his divine status is a clear indication that the dedication was a posthumous one. If that were the case, the monument would therefore pay tribute to a former patron of the city and an illustrious citizen who even deserved the title of ‘second founder’ while at the same time acknowledging the role of a new individual as the new figurehead of the community. Potamon readily emerged as a figure of great significance in the months following Pharsalus, along with his younger fellow-citizen Crinagoras.63 When he briefly docked at Lesbos in mid-August 48 bc, about ten days after Pharsalus, it was Pompey himself who invited the Mytileneans to switch their allegiance and to seek a formal contact with Caesar, who could be expected to be humane and merciful.64 Potamon, a relatively young local notable on whose relationship with Theophanes no information survives, took a leading role in that process and established a personal relationship with Caesar and subsequently with Octavian.65 In that context, it is at first sight surprising to find a celebration of Pompey: the connection of the city with the man that had restored its freedom, however, could not be denied even after his downfall and could easily be justified before those who had fought him in the Civil War. There is no need to link the monument to the short phase in which Sextus Pompeius was present at Lesbos, as he unsuccessfully tried to rally his forces in the aftermath of the battle of Naulochus.66 59 62 64

65 66

Ferrary 2005: 56, n. 14 = 2017: 271, n. 14. 60 Welch 1995: 141, n. 68. 61 Welch 2012: 154. Syll.3 752–4. 63 Bowie 2011: 183–95. Plut. Pomp. 75.2; cf. Caes. B Civ. 3.102.4. Canfora 1999: 422, n. 8 argues that Theophanes was the source used by Plutarch in this passage and in the account of the conversation between Pompey and the philosopher Cratippos; there is no evidence that his work covered these events. Parker 1991. Syme 1939: 262 unnecessarily posits a rivalry between Theophanes and Potamon. Robert 1969: 49 = 1989: 568, against Laqueur RE s.v. Theophanes no. 1: 2094; Arrayás Morales 2010: 135 argues that there is no evidence that Sextus stopped at Mytilene, but just that he docked at Lesbos: that is an unnecessary subtlety.

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The latest pieces of evidence, therefore, link Theophanes back to his hometown, albeit in the role of the ‘second founder’, the local glory who is part of the historical memory of the community. As J.-L. Ferrary pointed out, Theophanes is, along with Mithridates from Pergamum, a figure that marks a fundamental moment of discontinuity in the relationship between Roman and Greek elites and the beginning of a new phase in the history of euergetism: their communities are no longer the main focus of their interests and efforts, and their rise is secured by a direct personal connection with a Roman grandee.67 Their different trajectories show that there was not a single set blueprint: Mithridates made a signal military contribution to the victory of Caesar in the Alexandrian War and, while retaining a connection with Pergamum, went on to take charge of a client kingdom of Rome. Theophanes’ connection with Pompey enabled him to develop a distinctive profile in Roman politics, which was also matched by his involvement in the Civil War campaign. Far from being a mere honorific token, his Roman citizenship crucially puts him on the political map of the Urbs: when he approaches Cicero and Atticus, Theophanes acts with the clout and the credentials of a Roman citizen who also has a unique connection with Pompey. One can only speculate on what plans Pompey may have had for his Mytilenean advisor, had he won in the Civil War; it is not farfetched to imagine that he would have undertaken a similar itinerary to that followed by the Caesarian Balbus, who held the praetorship in 44 or 43 bc and rose to the consulship in 40.68 Had that been the case, he would, of course, have been the first member of the senatorial order to hail from the Greek-speaking part of the Empire, and the history of the integration of the Hellenic elites at Rome would have begun two generations earlier than it eventually did. Had Pompey won, of course, the place of the Greek East in the Empire would have been quite different, albeit along lines that are hard to divine. The first attested senator from Asia Minor, as is well known, is Theophanes’ grandson, Q. Pompeius Macer, who reached the praetorship in ad 15.69 His ability to reach such prominence has persuasively been explained by Theophanes’ decision to return to Italy after the Civil War, although it should be stressed that his father (i.e. Theophanes’ son) was a procurator in Asia in the Augustan period.70 At any rate, this, like any form of counterfactual history, is an interesting but not rewarding pursuit.

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Ferrary 1997b: 204 = 2017: 202. 68 Badian 1997: 7. Tac. Ann. 1.72, 6.18, with Bowersock 1965: 41. Ferrary 2005: 56 = 2017: 271. Bowie 2011: 182–3 points out that Strabo’s emphasis on Theophanes’ prestige must be understood against the backdrop of the standing of his descendants.

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As pointed out earlier, the enfranchisement of Theophanes is, on the basis of the surviving evidence, an unparalleled development in the interaction between Roman and Greek elites in the mid–first century bc.71 Things changed considerably after Caesar’s victory, when the policy of awarding Roman citizenship to local notables, who had a distinguished record of cooperation and loyalty with the princeps, becomes the rule, and the evidence yields the names of a considerable number of C. Julii, enfranchised either by Caesar or by Augustus. None of them, however, joined the senatorial order. Many notables from Asia Minor, who had a distinguished record of loyalty to Rome, such as the Mytilenean Potamon, did not take up Roman citizenship. A. Momigliano memorably pointed out that one of the distinctive features of the Augustan settlement is that the princeps’ ‘men were Agrippa and Livy – and Vergil’, instead of Cornelius Balbus and Theophanes.72 That Italy and its elites took centre stage in Augustus’ strategy is indisputable, and the decision not to enrol individuals from the provincial elites into the senatorial order was a clear political choice, which also conveyed a forceful message to the Italian elites.73 To be sure, Augustus resorted to the counsel of Greek advisors, such as Areius of Alexandria or Athenodorus and Nestor of Tarsus, whom he also entrusted with political and administrative matters in their home communities.74 However, quite apart from the different political regime under which they operated, these individuals arguably relate to a different ideal type. Their connections with the princeps were formed in an educational setting rather than in a political or military one. More importantly, there is no evidence that they played a role in Roman politics or government business of comparable significance to that of Theophanes.75 One is left wondering what message the promotions of Theophanes and Balbus had conveyed to the provincial elites a generation earlier – precisely because they were such exceptional cases – and whether they could have possibly seemed realistically attainable models to people of comparable standing in provincial communities. The complexity of the matters that were entrusted to Theophanes is considerable, as we have seen from the little evidence that survives, and was matched by the influence that he had 71

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On balance, the case of [L.? Corne]lius Alexidis Menodorus from Ephesus of AE 1997: 1436, who held the praefectura fabrum and the military tribunate primus ex is qui in Asia habitant (‘first among those who live in Asia’), should probably be dated to the age of Caesar or Augustus: Eck 1997: 111–12. Momigliano 1940: 79 = 1960: 413. Crawford 2008: 638 speaks of an ‘Augustan counter-revolution’ in this respect. Evidence and discussion in Bowersock 1965: 33–4 and Salmeri 1982: 7. This does not rule out the tenure of administrative posts: cf. Areius’ involvement as dioiketes in Sicily (Plut. Mor. 207B) and the elusive notice about him in Suid. s.v. Θέων.

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on Pompey. It is worth bringing into the equation two more levels of explanation, one pertaining to structural factors and one rooted in Theophanes’ own biography. In the new monarchic context, there was hardly any need, or any place, for a shrewd, indeed sophisticated political operator such as Theophanes, dispensing the sort of informal advice and using the sort of informal level of persuasion that he deployed in the instances discussed by Cicero. Moreover, the very scale of the achievements of Theophanes, the complexity of the briefs he was given and his political longevity, cut short only by Pompey’s defeat in the Civil War, suggest a more specific explanation, which is at least worth entertaining: he was a man of remarkable talent, and it is quite possible that no one in the generation that came of age after Pharsalus proved to have comparable abilities or to warrant the special treatment he received. Arguably, and quite straightforwardly, Theophanes happened to be an exceptional man at an exceptional historical time.

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chapter 7

The Garden and the Forum Epicurean Adherence and Political Affiliation in the Late Republic Cas Valachova

Among the Epicureans identified with some confidence in the Late Republic are two (or perhaps even three) consuls, a brace of praetors, two provincial governors of uncertain rank and an eminent jurist.1 Why these self-professed followers of pleasure and shunners of peril chose to enter the political arena has rightly been the subject of much scholarly attention, as has the question on what doctrinal grounds they may have justified this course.2 Yet, there is another related concern that has thus far merited rather less discussion: namely, how it was that these political Epicureans rose to the highest ranks of the cursus honorum and whether their philosophical presentation was a help, a hindrance or even relevant at all. It is tempting to dismiss out of hand the idea that their philosophical leanings had any bearing on political actions and posit what Miriam Griffin calls a ‘gap in thought and action’ attributable to either a dichotomy in thinking or just a frivolous approach to philosophy.3 Yet, when the careers of those Epicureans who flourished enough to be sufficiently attested are examined, it is apparent that they have two main factors in common, both of which are reconcilable with genuine belief in (or, at least, self-representation as a follower of) the Epicurean school. The first of these is a reliance on what Yakobson defines in this volume as the ‘non-popular aspects of electioneering’ and, in particular, I would like to thank Andrew Erskine and Gabriel Evangelou for reading drafts of this chapter at various stages. 1 Consuls: L. Calpurnius Piso, C. Vibius Pansa, (possibly) Aulus Hirtius; praetors: C. Memmius, C. Cassius Longinus; governors: L. Manlius Torquatus, M. Fadius or Fabius Gallus; jurist: C. Trebatius Testa. Source: the indispensible prosopography of Castner 1988. 2 E.g. Fish 2011; Roskam 2007; Sedley 1989. 3 Griffin 1989: 11–12. ‘Dichotomy theory’ is represented by Earl 1962 and ‘frivolity theory’ by Shackleton Bailey, esp. 1965–70 I: 8. Castner 1988: 31: ‘Clearly philosophical adherence was for . . . Roman Epicureans of the upper classes[,] an aspect of culture and not of politics.’

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bonds of amicitia with a more powerful and established individual.4 The second is a distinct focus on both personal and public security. These commonalities are no coincidence: we shall see that they are linked with philosophical adherence both by Cicero (as so often in the Late Republic, our main source on this matter) and, where such records exist, by the Epicurean politicians themselves. Nor is another recurring feature of these careers coincidental: that all but one of the successful Epicureans fell into the Caesarian faction and exploited their bonds to its leader to such an extent that upon first glance Julius Caesar appears to be the unlikely nexus of the Epicurean political circle at Rome. Before we proceed to examine in detail the careers of this Epicurean network, a note on the potential philosophical underpinnings of a quietistic, amicitia-based strategy is required. The exhortation μήπολιτεύεσθαι (‘do not politicise’) was clearly not obeyed by those who took this path, perhaps evaded by exploiting an apparent loophole in the kuriai doxai that those in a position to enhance their security through political advancement should be allowed to do so.5 To claim that a political career was not detrimental to ataraxia (‘tranquillity’), however, adherents not only would have to avoid putting themselves in a position to incur physical peril (which would also preclude military prowess as a means of impressing the electorate) but also would have to ascend to their aspired rank without ever doubting that they were able to do so, thus preserving their mental tranquillity.6 The Epicurean political hopeful would also have doctrinal grounds for avoiding the making of public addresses unless necessary, with recourse to the exhortation of the master preserved in Diogenes Laertius that ‘the wise man will not attract a crowd’.7 Though strictly a prohibition of demagoguery, it could certainly be cited alongside the need to preserve ataraxia as

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See Chapter 1. Amicitia in this context is so closely tied up with the concepts of political affiliation, cooperation and loyalty that it cannot be translated merely as ‘friendship’, yet nor can that meaning be entirely dismissed. See Brunt 1965; Yakobson 1999. Cic. Att. 14.20.5 (SB 374). Or, as Armstrong 2011: 110 argues, perhaps this maxim, attested only by Cicero (also: Fam 7.12 [SB 35]; Leg. 1.39), was not genuinely Epicurean but an exaggeration of what Seneca records in Dial. 8.3.2 as non accedet ad rem publicam sapiens nisi si quid interuenerit (‘the wise one will not approach public matters if there is not some imposition’). See also Cic. Rep. 10; F555 Usener. There is some Hellenistic precedent for Epicureans engaging in politics by acting as advisors to kings: Plut. Pyrrh. 14; 20. See also Warren 2002: 156–7; Aalders 1975: 45. Thus they could avoid becoming the frustrated politician in Lucretius’ portrait, whose currying of favour has become a literally Sisyphean task. Lucr. 3.978. Diog. Laert. 10.132.

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a reason for lack of engagement with the more unruly forms of public meeting, especially the contio.8 The positive strategy of shoring up friendships with the politically powerful has rather less shaky philosophical foundations.9 Indeed, Epicurus reportedly wrote that ‘of all the means which are procured by wisdom to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is the acquisition of friends’ and that ‘nothing enhances our security so much as friendship’.10 He also employed this technique in his own lifetime, courting the powerful Mithres and Idomeneus in the precarious fledgling days of his school.11

Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus What, then, did these strategies look like when deployed in the political arena of the Late Republic? They are perhaps best illustrated in the case of Piso, the consul of 58 bc. His adherence is a certainty, evidenced by his patronage of the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus of Gadara and Cicero’s very specific insults in his In Pisonem.12 While this invective speech necessitates a measured approach due to its vituperative nature, the volume and diversity of Cicero’s insults make it an invaluable source on Piso’s philosophy and his career. Through In Pisonem we learn that if anyone could say that he was so assured of his success that his candidacy never caused him mental distress, it was Piso. Even Cicero was forced to concede that he attained every office he sought sine repulsa or on the first attempt.13 This he attributed not to any particular political skill on the part of his target but to the natural advantages he had over his peers. In particular, Cicero, a nouus homo, resented the fame and good reputation of Piso’s family and ancestors, among whom were several consuls:

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Likewise ‘live unknown’, which Roskam 2007 has demonstrated to have been a rather flexible exhortation. Friendship was also valued for its own sake: Sent. Vat. 52: ‘Friendship dances all about the world, calling us to awaken and recognise that we are blessed.’ For more on both the utility and the intrinsic good of Epicurean friendship, see Konstan 1997: 108–12. Diog. Laert. 10.148.27. Mithres was a Syrian steward of Lampsacus, whom Epicurus was accused of ‘basely flattering’ (Diog. Laert. 10.4). Idomeneus was a courtier of the same place, connected to the school by his marriage to Batis, sister of Metrodorus (F55–56 Usener). On their patronage of Epicurus, see De Witt 1954: 78–9, 88; Fowler 1989: 123–4. Also the Epicurean name ‘Ikadion’ of one of his daughter’s household slaves (CIL VI: 14211). Cic. Pis. 1.2: ‘Will he even boast to me that he gained every magistracy on the first attempt?’

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cas valachova nam tu cum quaestor es factus, etiam qui te numquam uiderant, tamen illum honorem nomini mandabant tuo. aedilis es factus; Piso est a populo Romano factus, non iste Piso. praetura item maioribus delata est tuis. noti erant illi mortui, te uiuum nondum nouerat quisquam.14 (Cic. Pis. 1.2)

Although there is some obvious hyperbole here, it is certainly the case that Piso’s ancestry was a boon in the Roman political arena. The more important implication of this statement is that Piso was an obscure figure to the populus Romanus.15 Although it is unlikely that the electorate would have been unable to pick him out of a line-up, it does seem to be true that Piso did not engage in public oratory to the extent expected of a man of his ambition, and indeed his first (and only) attested contional speech in 58 bc was produced under pressure from tribune Clodius.16 Piso was apparently wary in general of appearing in public, something Cicero attributes to a fear of crowds.17 If Piso’s success cannot be attributed to his oratory, it can certainly (at least in part) be attributed to savvy interpersonal dealings, the most pivotal being the marriage of his daughter Calpurnia to Julius Caesar. Such was the political significance of this union that Cato reportedly exclaimed in horror (and with characteristic showmanship) that political primacy was now apparently gained through the arrangement of marriages.18 And indeed, the marriage was almost contemporaneous with Piso’s accession to the consulate, a significant rise in status even without considering the fact that he had not been viewed as a viable candidate earlier that year.19 If Piso’s career was a success story, so too was his relationship with Caesar. This bond was not untested: the marriage that anchored it was a troubled one, which produced no issue and was marked by inconspicuous infidelity on the part of Caesar. Nor was the political side of the union unproblematic: Piso’s reaction to his son-in-law’s crossing of the Rubicon was to leave town quietly, demonstrating a greater concern for security than for political ambition or factional loyalty.20 Yet Caesar remained married to Calpurnia despite the ease with which he had dissolved earlier 14

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‘But when you were made a quaestor, even those who had never laid eyes on you still entrusted that honour to your name. When you were made aedile, a “Piso” was elected by the Roman people, not you specifically. Your praetorship, likewise, was won by your ancestors. They were famous even in death, while no one knew a thing about you in life.’ On public recognition of politicians, see Chapter 3. 16 See Chapter 5. Cic. Pis. 65. Cicero even suggests that Piso is afraid of being attacked. App. B Civ. 2.2.14. Also, Suet. Iul. 21; Plut. Caes. 14.4. See van der Blom 2012. Cic. Att. 2.5.2 (SB 25) lists the candidates as Pompey, Crassus, Ser. Sulpicius and Gabinius in April 59 bc. Cic. Att. 7.13.1 (SB 136); Fam. 14.14.2 (SB 145).

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conjugal unions, and Piso preserved the link with Caesar even beyond his death, acting as executor of his will.21 This suggests an element of genuine affection to the bond. The philosophical basis for Piso’s oratorical quietism and reliance on friendship as a political strategy is not explicitly attested, though there is evidence that he publicly justified at least one career event in philosophical terms: that being his failure to reap a triumph from his province.22 In In Pisonem, Cicero mocks: at audistis, patres conscripti, philosophi uocem. negauit se triumphi cupidum umquam fuisse (‘But listen, conscript fathers, to the voice of a philosopher! He denies he was ever desirous of triumphs!’).23 The setting of this reported remark is unclear, though it was probably made in response to some remark in De prouinciis consularibus, in which Cicero made some outlandish claims about the ineptitude of Piso as a governor.24 Whether publicly or privately, though, Piso evidently defended himself at least in philosophical language or perhaps even with explicit reference to his Epicureanism, in either case obviously enough to furnish Cicero with ammunition for this jibe. Piso is far from the image of the Epicurean painted by Cicero in De finibus, whose brave actions and public honours (unlike Piso, Torquatus, the interlocutor of this piece, did receive a triumph upon returning from his province) were reportedly kept publicly and psychologically at a remove from Epicureanism’s fundamentally self-interested guiding principle.25 If Piso incorporated his self-presentation as an Epicurean into justification for his actions, it does not seem so unlikely that his political style as a whole was informed by his chosen philosophy.26 21

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On Caesar’s divorce from Pompeia, see Cic. Att. 1.13 (SB 13); Plut. Caes. 9–10; Suet. Iul. 6.2. On his separation from Cossutia, to whom he may or may not have been married, see Suet. Iul. 1. On Piso’s actions in 49, see Cic. Att. 7.13.1 (SB 136); Fam. 14.14.2 (SB 145). See Griffin 2001: 91. Cic. Pis. 56.1. As Griffin 1989: 13 points out, Cicero would have been dismissive of a philosophical stance in the contio, even were it not Epicurean, as this kind of concern is ‘beneath the dignitas of a princeps ciuitatis’. Possibly Cic. Prov. 14, where Cicero accuses Gabinius of submitting spurious justifications for a supplicatio, while from Piso he writes, nullae litterae proferuntur. This is probably a more or less accurate representation of what was said by both Piso and Cicero; see Morstein-Marx 2004: 29. For more on this aspect of In Pisonem specifically, see Nisbet 1961: 199–202, arguing that it is significantly expanded, and Booth 2007: 6 refuting this. Cic. Fin. 2.74. Piso’s career as a whole reflects a desire for peace. Syme 1939: 118 speculates that in the wake of the Ides of March, he attempted to thwart Antony’s ambition by declassifying Cisalpine Gaul as a province, thus neutralising a strategic military post. Nic. Dam. F130.28 describes him as dishonestly and suspiciously neutral during this time.

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C. Vibius Pansa Another securely attested political Epicurean whose career followed a similar trajectory was Vibius Pansa, one of the ill-fated consuls of 43 bc. His adherence is confirmed in the letters of Cicero, which would be a rather more shaky foundation were it not for the fact that Cicero’s respondents consistently affirm this identification.27 The strength of this association is apparent in the fact that Pansa is used almost as a byword for Epicureanism in Cicero’s correspondence with Cassius (discussed later).28 Pansa’s political ascent would have been unlikely even if had he not been a known Epicurean. As a nouus homo, he could not, like Piso, rely on his familial reputation to help him rise through the ranks.29 Nor was he a gifted public speaker. Suetonius writes that he and his colleague Hirtius were tutored in public speaking as consuls-elect, suggesting that their deficiency in this area was conspicuous enough to necessitate a hurried intervention. Cicero, their instructor, condescendingly called them grandis praetextatos, or ‘big boys’, a reference to the elementary material being covered in his lessons.30 It was certainly not ruthless ambition or political daring that propelled Pansa through the ranks.31 His focus on security, in particular, his own, is most evident in his actions after the assassination of Caesar. Rather than capitalising on the fact that he held the highest office in the land, he repeatedly attempted to broker peace between the assassins and the heirs.32 Even before this, Cassius wrote to Cicero of Pansa’s clemency and the affection it earned him.33 Pansa’s most valuable asset as a politician was a knack for exploiting personal relationships. In Cicero’s generally lukewarm recommendations of him, one of the few positives he musters is that Pansa has Caesar’s ear:34 27

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Cic. Fam 15.19 (SB 216); 7.12 (SB 35). There is some tenuous suggestion in Cic. Fam. (9.16.7 [SB 190], 18.3 [SB 191], 20.2 [SB 193]) that Pansa’s colleague Aulus Hirtius was also an Epicurean, mainly in the form of jibes about his propensity for fine dining. There is good evidence for a large corpus of letters between Pansa and Cicero, unfortunately now lost. See White 2010: 171–3. Pansa’s family may even have been proscribed (Dio Cass. 45.17.1). Suet. Rhet. 1. Pansa was also the dedicatee of at least book 4 of Philodemus’ De rhetorica. Dorandi 1996: 41. Though he did serve on Caesar’s campaign in Gaul. Cicero, writing on this (Fam. 7.12 [SB 35]), does not mention his conduct in combat but does remark on his Epicureanism and prominence within the Caesarian camp. For Pansa’s desire for peace and his lack of animosity towards Antony, despite being an early encourager of Octavian, see Cic. Att. 14.20 (SB 366). Piso, too, made a great effort towards securing peace, serving as part of a consular embassy to Antony (Cic. Fam. 12.4.1 [SB 363]). Cic. Fam. 15.19 (SB 216). In more private letters, Cicero displays outright contempt towards this consular pair: Att. 16.1.4 (SB 409); Fam 16.27.1 (SB 352).

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principem tamen habuimus Pansam, tui studiosissimum, mei cupidum, qui ualeret apud illum non minus auctoritate quam gratia.35 (Cic. Fam. 6.12.2 [SB 226])

That the bond was built on equal parts auctoritas and gratia suggests that it was simultaneously affectionate and the product of a functioning and hierarchical political relationship. That it led to Pansa’s accession to the highest rank in the Republic is testament to its strength. Caesar’s hand is even more obvious in the election of Pansa than that of Piso simply because at this stage of his career the then-dictator could make unilateral decisions about the election of magistrates, as with his assignment of the urban praetorship of the same year (see below).36 So in Pansa we have an individual who was a known Epicurean and relatively obscure political figure (to the extent that Syme dismisses him as a ‘nonentity’) who nevertheless attained the highest office with the greatest of ease.37 This he achieved by exploiting a personal relationship, the one career path open to a follower of the Garden.

Gaius Memmius If Pansa and Piso represent the success stories of the strategy of cosying up to Caesar, there were also the failures. The most notorious of those who ran on the Caesarian ticket, as it were, was Gaius Memmius, tribune of the plebs in 66 bc and the dedicatee of Lucretius’ De rerum natura, whose reputation was so tarnished by his foray into politics that it has made generations of scholars doubt that Lucretius was even trying to impart moral philosophy to such a man, despite the frequent direct addresses in the poem.38 Fewer still believe he was actually an Epicurean.39 The two events, though, that have made so many see Memmius as an unlikely follower of Epicurus – his prosecution for ambitus in 52 bc and his quarrel with the Epicurean scholarch (head of school) Patro – in fact support his (brief) adherence. 35

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‘But most importantly we have had Pansa, who is most fond of you and solicitous of me, who holds sway with [Caesar], no less through friendship than authority.’ As Gruen 1969: 315 points out, as part of the ‘triumvirate’, Caesar could not entirely guarantee electoral results, hence the need for the electoral fraud of the 53 bc consular elections (discussed below). Syme 1939: 133: ‘Even a nonentity is a power when a consul at Rome.’ E.g. Allen and De Lacey 1939. Balsdon 1979: 51 is characteristic: ‘The dedication [of Lucretius’ De rerum natura], however, is belied by the facts of his career: corruption, intrigue, exile.’ Fowler 1989: 122 argues that the didactic nature of De rerum natura proves that Memmius was not already an Epicurean at the time of composition, yet nothing mandates that an individual must become educated in the philosophy before identifying with it.

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The squabble with Patro over Memmius’ plans for the house of Epicurus in the Athenian deme of Melite is particularly well attested, as Cicero attempted to mediate at the request of his Epicurean friend Atticus.40 The uncharitable interpretation of this incident is that Memmius intended to raze the ruin and build an unassociated structure, thus proving his hostility to the Epicurean school. He would have to be very hostile indeed, though, and spiteful, to acquire this site as a nonEpicurean simply to destroy it.41 And this would not necessarily have been easy, for although this house was willed to Epicurus’ executors rather than to the school in perpetuity (as the Garden itself was), it is clear from the letters of Cicero and Atticus that the existing school took a keen interest in the site and believed that they had some legal claim to defending it, going so far as to involve the Areopagus in the dispute.42 It is highly unlikely, then, that a non-Epicurean would have wanted to, let alone been able to, purchase such a site. As Stearns argued as early as 1931 (to rather less acknowledgement than he deserves), it is far more plausible that Memmius was indeed a follower of the school when he purchased the ruin, and rather than wishing to destroy it, he simply hoped to redevelop it.43 Even if, by the time Patro had resorted to asking Cicero and Atticus to intercede, Memmius was indeed threatening destruction (a possibility that cannot be ruled out), it is not necessarily the case that he never had more noble and philosophical intentions with regards to the property.44 The corrupt consular campaign becomes less of an issue for identifying Memmius as an Epicurean when its resolution is considered, in particular, the bizarre way in which the plot came to light.45 According to Cicero, Memmius himself declared publicly that he and his intended colleague, Domitius Calvinus, had bribed the incumbents with a faked decree that would allow them to reap extra rewards from their proconsular 40

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The banker Titus Pomponius Atticus. Cic. Fam. 13.1 (SB 63). There is some debate over Atticus’ identification as an Epicurean because Cicero never explicitly called him one, and the school was not mentioned in Cornelius Nepos’ biography of Atticus. The most comprehensive treatment remains Leslie 1950, despite its simplistic conclusion that Atticus was a ‘Roman Epicurean’ (precisely what this means is not explored). Not all find this implausible, though. Sedley 2009: 45 says that the correspondence between Cicero and Memmius ‘gives clear signals of the latter’s contempt, not only for the reverence felt by so many Romans towards hallowed philosophical relics, but Epicureanism itself’. Cic. Att. 5.11.6 (SB 104). Stearns 1931: 161–2 (though Griffin 1995: 333, n. 36, does acknowledge the possibility). See also Griffin 1989: 17. Cicero’s constant reassurances that he speaks on behalf of Atticus rather than Patro in this correspondence (Fam. 13.1.5 [SB 63]) may reflect simply that Memmius has fallen out with the latter rather than suggesting he is hostile towards Epicureanism in general. For a full account of this incident, see Gruen 1969.

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provinces.46 This seems odd, especially when Memmius was the clear frontrunner in the preceding weeks, and unlike Pansa, he had a fairly illustrious family to strengthen his claim.47 Why, then, would he sabotage his own campaign at the last minute? The answer may be that that was not what he thought he was doing. That he thought he could still be elected after revealing his corruption seems to be an even more unlikely proposition, yet a recent development in his strategic alliances may have convinced Memmius that it was possible. Cicero wrote to Atticus that a burgeoning relationship with Caesar had drastically expanded Memmius’ client base, and what is more, his new amicus could apparently be counted on personally to help seal the result if Memmius could not exploit this advantage himself:48 Memmius Caesaris commendetur militibus, Pompei gratia nitatur. quibus si non ualuerit, putant fore aliquem qui comitia in aduentum Caesaris detrudat.49 (Cic. Att. 4.16.6 [SB 89])

If this explains his overconfidence, though, it still does not account for the revelation itself.50 Perhaps he was tipped off that the plot was about to come to light and naively thought that by coming clean he would escape repercussions. Or maybe he was troubled by pangs of conscience and wanted to free his mind of the resultant turmoil (unlikely, given what we know of his character). Or, more plausibly, he may have believed that he was acting in the interests of another, in particular, one who had already demonstrated the ability to give his career a boost. This is suggested by Cicero’s depiction of Caesar’s reaction. He writes Memmius autem dirempta coitione inuito Calvino plane refrixerat et eo magis nunc quod iam intellegebamus enuntiationem illam Memmi ualde Caesari displicere.51 (Cic. Att. 4.17.3 [SB 91])

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Cic. Att. 4.17 (SB 91). Though none had, as yet, reached the consulate. Lucr. 1.42 references the fame of the Memmii. For Caesar’s influence over previous elections, see Plut. Caes. 21; cf. Storch 1995: 46. ‘Memmius is commended to Caesar’s soldiers, and supported by Pompey’s influence. If he cannot pull it off by these means, people think that there will be someone along to suppress the elections until Caesar’s return.’ Cicero (Att. 14.17.2 [SB 371]; Q Fr. 3.1.16 [SB 21]) seems to think that Pompey encouraged Memmius to make the revelation, which seems odd considering that he had only recently switched his patronage from another candidate, M. Aemilius Scaurus (Cic. Q Fr. 3.2.3 [SB 22], 3.6.3 [SB 26]) to Calvinus, who stood to suffer most. (Cic. Q Fr. 3.4.1 [SB 24] relates Calvinus making a public gesture of goodwill to Pompey by publicly voting to acquit Gabinius.) ‘Memmius, however, having broken the alliance against the will of Domitius, is in the cold, and all the more because now we have found out that that speech of Memmius has greatly displeased Caesar.’

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From an outsider’s perspective, this would appear to be trivially true; Caesar, of course, would have been irritated by his chosen candidate implicating himself in a corrupt scheme. But why would Cicero even bother to mention it? And why nunc . . . intellegebamus, if his respondent could have gathered this a priori? No, there must have been some chance, however remote, that Caesar would have approved of Memmius’ plan, or the latter would not here be lamenting his patron’s reaction. How could this self-destruction possibly have been welcomed by Caesar? For one thing, the running mate so dramatically ditched through this revelation was an ardent anti-Caesarian.52 Maybe Memmius thought that by publicly abandoning Calvinus and his corrupt machinations towards power, he could demonstrate faith in the support of his new ally.53 Perhaps he hoped that by drawing a line under his previous dangerous behaviour, he could present himself as the sort of person who would rather rely on his loyalty than get involved with the kind of schemes by which he could damage himself and others. Perhaps he even justified this in Epicurean terms, and claimed that the plotting had been causing him intolerable mental anguish. What is certain, though, is that he no longer wanted to be a part of the corruption that he had initiated earlier in his campaign, and instead desired to pursue a safer course, based on a personal bond. Although the ignominious end of Memmius’ political career certainly had much to do with his abrupt swing into the Caesarian faction, there is no direct evidence to confirm that his philosophical beliefs played a role in his choices. His situation, though, was later closely mirrored by that of another individual, who himself linked his newfound allegiance with Caesar to a burgeoning interest in Epicureanism.

Caius Cassius Longinus Cassius, Caesar’s eventual assassin, is a rare self-attested political Epicurean.54 Though his early career was forged through actions about as far as possible from the recommendations of the Garden – his salvaging of Crassus’ Parthian campaign after the rout at Carrhae, his subsequent 52 53

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Cic. Sest. 113; In Vat. 16, 38; Dio Cass. 38.6.1. This possibility is bolstered by the fact that in the aftermath of the plot coming to light, Memmius declared his intention to act as prosecutor against Calvinus in his trial for the electoral fraud they engaged in together. See Gruen 1969: 319. Cic. Fam. 15.17 (SB 214), 15.18 (SB 213), 15.19 (SB 216). References to Cassius’ Epicureanism and his abandonment of that philosophy in Plutarch’s Brutus (36–7, 39) and Caesar (66) are most likely the fabrications of a hostile witness. Even Sedley 1997: 41, who takes these passages as good evidence for Cassius’ continuing adherence after the Ides, admits that the events depicted are likely fictional.

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governance of Syria and his prominent role in the Pompeian faction during the Civil War – Cassius later adopted a more quietist approach and wrote to Cicero of his new identification as an Epicurean.55 The drastic change in political modus operandi occurred after Pompey’s defeat at Pharsalus and Cassius’ subsequent pardon by Caesar. After serving as legate in 47 bc, he uncharacteristically declined to take any role in the conflict with Cato and Scipio and held no office for two years.56 To fill the void left by political and military activities, Cassius appears to have engaged in social and philosophical pursuits.57 These are the subjects of a letter from Cicero in 45 bc, who begins by teasing Cassius for his adoption of a philosophy with such a bizarre physical system.58 He goes on to refer directly to Cassius’ conversion, providing us with a strong terminus post quem of 48 bc, which reaffirms its contemporaneity with the pardon and Cassius’ apparent retreat from public life:59 sed haec posterius; tempto enim te quo animo accipias. si enim stomachabere et moleste feres, plura dicemus postulabimusque, ex qua αἱρέσει ‘ui hominibus armatis’ deiectus sis, in eam restituare. in hoc interdicto non solet addi ‘in hoc anno.’ qua re, si iam biennium aut triennium est cum uirtuti nuntium remisisti delenitus inlecebris uoluptatis, in integro res nobis erit. quamquam quicum loquor? cum uno fortissimo uiro, qui, postea quam forum attigisti, nihil fecisti nisi plenissimum amplissimae dignitatis. in ista ipsa αἱρέσει metuo ne plus neruorum sit quam ego putaram, si modo eam tu probas.60 (Cic. Fam. 15.16.3 [SB 215])

Cicero emphasises that this behaviour was wildly out of character for Cassius, not only his jocular assertion that he has been led to his new philosophy by the ‘force of armed men’ but also his labelling of his 55 56

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Dio Cass. 40.28; Caes. B Civ. 3.5. MRR II: 290, 300. Perhaps Cassius hoped, by hiding in Brundisium, to avoid testifying against his friends from the Pompeian camp. See Meyer 1922: 431. Cic. Fam. 15.17.4 (SB 214). Cic. Fam. 15.16 (SB 215). The Epicurean doctrine of sight is a favourite Ciceronian hobby-horse (Att. 2.3.2 [SB 23]; Nat. D. 1.107–8). As Gilbert 2015: 194–215 argues, Cicero may well be invoking this in his correspondence in order to hone the polemics for his dialogues. Dettenhoffer 1990 and Canfora 1999: 327 identify the discussion of Cassius’ conversion as a coded reference to his passing into the Caesarian faction. While the deeper meaning is certainly Cassius’ standing among his new faction, the connection between text and subtext is not as arbitrary as the term implies, as demonstrated later. ‘But that’s for later. For I am merely testing in what spirit you take it. For if you grumble and take it with vexation, I shall have more to say later, that you must be restored to that school from which you have defected “by the force of armed men”. To this kind of interdiction is not usually added the condition “within the year”, so even if it is two or three years since you divorced virtue and were charmed by the allurements of pleasure, it is still valid. But with whom am I speaking? With a very brave man who, having obtained office, has done nothing that has not enhanced his dignity. There must be more vigour in that school of yours than I had thought, if you now esteem it.’

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correspondent as a uir fortissimus, certainly not usually the sort to engage in effeminate philhellenism and cowardly avoidance of peril.61 Cassius rises not to these jibes against himself but to the insinuation that all Epicureans have been seduced by pleasure. In his response, he not only confirms his adherence but also professes his loyalty to his new associates. He playfully concedes that the contemporary popularising philosopher Catius may not be the most erudite but suggests that there are as many boors among the Stoic camp.62 He takes a more firm approach to the allegations of immorality: itaque et Pansa, qui ἡδονὴν sequitur, uirtutem retinet et ii qui a uobis φιλήδονοι uocantur sunt φιλόκαλοι καὶ φιλοδίκαιοι omnisque uirtutes et colunt et retinent.63 (Cic. Fam. 15.19.3 [SB 216])

Here Cassius affirms and cements his connection to one of his amici noui: the conspicuously Epicurean and definitively Caesarian Pansa (the semipublic nature of any correspondence with Cicero would have meant that praise for another would eventually get back to them, thus strengthening the relationship).64 His choice is significant: not only is Pansa a wellknown adherent of the philosophy, but he is also one whose political career is flourishing in spite of his identification with the school.65 This is a statement of intent: Cassius is publicly aligning himself both politically and philosophically with Pansa and hopes to enjoy the same success. By insisting that Pansa’s path is a morally commendable one, Cassius justifies his own intended actions.66 The newly Epicurean Cassius did successfully regain political momentum under Caesar. Despite his period of inactivity, the dictator made him the praetor peregrinus for 44 bc. This sure and steady path to power, which had 61 62

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See Edwards 1993: 95. Cic. Fam. 15.19.1 (SB 216), pro quo tibi proxima epistula tot rusticos Stoicos regeram, ut Catium Athenis natum esse dicas (‘for him I will set you right in my next letter with so many boorish Stoics that you will swear Catius was born at Athens’). Catius Insuber, apparently the author of at least one Latin text on Epicureanism, is also mentioned in Quint. Inst. 10.1.124. ‘So therefore Pansa, who follows pleasure, retains his virtue, and those who are called pleasureseekers by you are also good-seekers and justice-seekers, and they all retain and cherish their virtue.’ Cic. Q Fr. 3.1.10 (SB 21). Cicero laments that everything he writes to his brother is reported to Caesar. See Nicholson 1994: 39. At this time, marching to support Caesar in Hispania, Pansa would be rewarded with governorship of Cisalpine Gaul. Though Epicurus would not have supported the seeking of military glory for its own sake, Sent. Vat. 56–7 provides some doctrinal justification for risking physical security on behalf of a loved one. It states that the torture of a friend is as painful as experiencing torture oneself, and it is acceptable to die to save a friend in such a situation. He also demonstrates a clear understanding of Pansa’s Epicurean justification for his military actions. See McConnell 2014: 25.

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worked so well for Pansa and Piso, did not, though, satisfy Cassius’ innate ambition. According to Plutarch, Cassius was not so much grateful for his elevation as incensed that he had not been given the more prestigious role of praetor urbanus, which had been allotted to the less qualified Brutus.67 Though Plutarch’s assertion that this slight was the motivating factor for the assassination plot is implausible, it does mark the end of Cassius’ Epicurean behaviour. None of his subsequent actions – the murder, the public proclamations that the dictator had been slain, the assassins’ military campaign – is even remotely compatible with a commitment to quietism. Epicureanism, then, did not come naturally to Cassius, and he identified as such for only a few years. His adherence corresponds chronologically with his incorporation into Caesar’s camp from that of Pompey, and the precariousness of that situation implies that he surely would not have publicly dabbled in the philosophy had it been in any way unwelcome to his new master. Cassius must have thought that adhering to this philosophy was at the very least not a hindrance under Caesar and possibly even a boon.

Gaius Iulius Caesar The Epicureans who managed to reconcile their philosophical beliefs with a successful political career in the Late Republic did so by exploiting their closeness with Caesar. The one notable exception was L. Manlius Torquatus, praetor in 49 bc and the Epicurean interlocutor of Cicero’s De finibus. He was a staunch Pompeian, and he also differed from his Epicurean peers in that he seemed conspicuously unconcerned with his own physical and mental security, as evidenced by his prosecution of Sulla in 62 bc and his heroic death a year before the composition of De finibus.68 But those who maintained any pretence of quietism we find among the Caesarian faction. An obvious (but unlikely) explanation that presents itself is that Caesar was himself an adherent of Epicureanism. A sufficient number of scholars have accepted this idea for Caesar to be included among the Epicurei Incerti in Castner’s Prosopography of Roman Epicureans.69 This is one level of 67 68

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Plut. Brut. 7.3. Cic. Fin. 22.73. See Berry 1996: 17–20 and Alexander 1999 for Torquatus’ role and that of his father in the prosecution of Sulla. Castner 1988: 83–4. The scholars used to support this are Syme 1964; Gruen 1984; André 1966; Paratore 1960 and, most importantly, Fussl 1980. Though the latter’s conclusion that Caesar was not an Epicurean but incorporated aspects of the philosophy into his political justifications bears some weight, the apparently Epicurean values cited (his lack of fear of death, freedom from superstition

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certainty higher than that attributed to Gaius Memmius, dedicatee of the greatest work of Roman Epicureanism and one-time owner of Epicurus’ own house. And this is no outdated school of thought: Fish, writing as recently as 2011, allows for the possibility by adding ‘perhaps even Julius Caesar himself’ to a list of Roman political Epicureans.70 The obvious counterargument to this proposition is the complete dearth of any contemporary identification of Caesar as an Epicurean despite his extensive autobiographical writings and his obvious relevance to the writings of so many others.71 Rather, those who seek to make this argument rely on the cumulative effect of several circumstantial pieces of evidence. Among these, the most credible are a passage of Sallust in which Caesar apparently evinces a prototypically Epicurean attitude towards death (an event also recounted by Cicero) and some minor similarities between his self-presentation in the commentaries and Philodemus’ On the Good King According to Homer.72 Bourne also argues for some Epicurean ideals being evident in Caesar’s lifestyle choices.73 None of these alone would constitute adequate evidence even if their veracity were beyond doubt, and that is certainly not the case. In fact, each can be countered with relative ease, leaving the proposition that Caesar was an Epicurean untenable.74 Yet, it is undeniable that, at the very least, he was amenable to social and professional advances by followers of the school despite the public contempt for their values portrayed in the writings of Cicero and Lucretius.75 With such a high proportion of identified Republican Epicureans being closely allied with Caesar, it is even plausible that he actively solicited their acquaintance (there is, of course, no proof of this). There must have been

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and aptitude and respect for friendship) are perhaps explicable as being merely innate characteristics that happened to be compatible with the beliefs of his more philosophical friends. Fussl 1980: 80. Fish 2011: 91. Also, as Rawson 1989: 242 points out, Plutarch certainly would have mentioned it if Caesar had studied under any Epicureans. Sall. Cat. 51.20; Cic. In Cat. 5. On Epicureanism in the Commentaries, see Rambaud 1969; Fussl 1980. Cf. Castner 1988: 85; Bourne 1977. Bourne 1977: 417–32. On Sallust and Caesar’s attitude towards death, see Mulgan 1979, who argues that the idea that death was not an evil in itself had been sufficiently absorbed by popular sentiment that it was more a commonplace than an expression of Epicurean orthodoxy. Murray 1965 makes the case for On the Good King not being a prototypically Epicurean text. As for Bourne’s arguments from Caesar’s lifestyle, it should be evident that, for example, sobriety and temperance were not necessarily Epicurean traits. Cassius, whom we know not to have been an Epicurean before 49 bc, never drank alcohol his entire life. Lucr. 1.945, ‘the common mass is repulsed at this’; Cic. Fin. 2.21, 2.74 (though he attributes popular appeal to the Epicurean writings of Amafinius: Tusc. 6.6–7).

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something about the values of the political Epicureans that made them suited for a role in Caesar’s inner circle. We may return to the failed relationship between Cassius and Caesar for an insight into the workings of this group of close associates, seen here in Plutarch’s portrayal of the incident that caused their rift: Καῖσαρ δ᾽ ἀκούσας καὶ βουλευόμενος ἐν τοῖς φίλοις εἶπε: ‘δικαιότερα μὲν λέγει Κάσσιος, Βρούτῳ δὲ τὴν πρώτην δοτέον.’ ἀπεδείχθη δὲ Κάσσιος ἐφ᾽ ἑτέρᾳ στρατηγός, οὐ τοσοῦτον εὐνοίας ἔχων δι᾽ ἣν ἔλαβεν ὅσον ὀργῆς ὧν ἀπέτυχε.76 (Plut. Brut. 7.4)

Plutarch depicts Caesar mulling over the decision with his intimates, called here philoi, which could imply a certain level of affection, as typical between the leaders of this period and their advisers.77 He takes the time to discuss this midlevel decision (it is not on the scale of crossing the Rubicon, nor is it trivial) between his interviews with the candidates and his decision, suggesting that he values the opinions of those closest to him. Yet, his acknowledgement that Cassius is the better candidate for the position of praetor urbanus before his emphatic statement that it is Brutus who must be elected communicates clearly that all decisions are ultimately his.78 So who would be among these friends? Very likely Pansa and Hirtius, who were made consuls-elect in the same round of political decisions, and equally probably Piso, whose role in the aftermath of the assassination demonstrates that he was still a trusted and close ally of Caesar in the preceding days – and certainly, too, a number of non-Epicureans, among them Antony and Octavian. One of these who definitely enjoyed this level of intimacy at the end of Caesar’s life was Gaius Matius, whose poignant letter to Cicero after the Ides demonstrates the primacy of affection among the confidants of Caesar:79 nota enim mihi sunt quae in me post Caesaris mortem contulerint. uitio mihi dant quod mortem hominis necessari grauiter fero atque eum quem 76

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‘Caesar, having heard [their respective claims] said, in deliberation with his intimates: “Though Cassius speaks with greater justification, Brutus is to be given the more prestigious post.” Cassius was redirected into another praetorship, but he bore greater anger over what he had lost than gratitude for what he had.’ Though philoi could also be simply the language of Hellenistic kingship. See Santangelo’s Chapter 6 on Pompey and his relationship with Theophanes of Mytilene, whom he valued and admired so much that he made him a Roman citizen. Brutus was probably favoured owing to Caesar’s close relationship with his mother, Servilia. See Chapter 13. Matius is also named as one of the intimates of Caesar in the previously discussed letter (Cic. Fam. 6.12 [SB 226]), alongside Pansa and Hirtius, as well as Balbus, Oppius and Postumius.

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cas valachova dilexi perisse indignor; aiunt enim patriam amicitiae praeponendam esse, proinde ac si iam uicerint obitum eius rei publicae fuisse utilem. sed non agam astute; fateor me ad istum gradum sapientiae non peruenisse; neque enim Caesarem in dissensione ciuili sum secutus sed amicum; quamquam re offendebar, tamen non deserui, neque bellum umquam ciuile aut etiam causam dissensionis probaui.80 (Cic. Fam. 11.28.2 [SB 349])

Matius’ transparent and unabashed grief (or at least pretence thereof – Lintott calls this letter a ‘masterpiece of rhetoric’) highlights the primacy of affection between Caesar and his closest allies, which surpassed in importance ideological compatibility.81 Matius claims that he disagreed in principle with the actions by which Caesar elevated himself to power but nevertheless supported him because of the obligations of friendship. His defiance of those who would prefer that he speak out against the murdered Caesar and his passionate and emotive language speak to the depth and genuineness of his feelings.82 Caesar placed great demands on his allies; his actions were controversial and had an impact on everyone around him. Yet, throughout his career, at least after his first consulship, he was remarkably successful in cultivating the sort of loyalty that enabled him to do what he felt necessary, on scales both small and grand.83 From convincing his armies to cross the Rubicon to maintaining the relationship with his conscientiously objecting father-in-law, Caesar displayed a knack for pushing others to put their sentiments towards him above their own political ideals.84 This may have something to do with his acceptance of Epicureans as members of his political circle. Bourne took Suetonius’ report that Caesar was ‘notable for the cultivation of friendship to shore up his security at a later time’ as evidence of Caesar’s Epicureanism.85 This is clearly too 80

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‘For I know what charges have been gathered against me since the death of Caesar. People attribute fault to me because I bear with grief the death of a friend and because I am outraged that someone I loved has perished; for they say the fatherland is to be placed ahead of friendship, the same as if they have already proved that his downfall was beneficial to the Republic. But I shall not counter that craftily; I confess that I have not reached that level of sagacity; for I did not follow Caesar into civil strife but a friend; although I disapproved, I yet did not desert him, though I approved of neither the Civil War or the cause of the strife.’ Lintott 2008: 360–2. See also Konstan 1997: 131. On other professions of love towards their master by Caesar’s followers, especially in correspondence with Cicero, see Citroni Marchetti 2004: 288. See Griffin 1997 on the correspondence. See Steel 2009: 115. In Caesar’s own writings, it is clear that he considers political allegiance to be one of the conditions of amicitia and even uses the latter to signify the former (e.g. B Civ. 1.1.3, 3.60.3). Unlike Cicero, he thinks that friendship should be prioritised over political ideals (Cic. Att. 10.8B [SB 199B]). For more on this, see Grillo 2012: 144–9. Bourne 1977: 423; Suet. Iul. 23.2, 27.

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strong a conclusion, but Caesar’s tactical use of friendship is compatible with Epicurean ideals, far more so than the rigid academic view of the nature of amicitia, which states that it must be based primarily on virtue.86 In the circle of Roman Epicureans, he would have found individuals with a refreshingly practical view of friendship and no need to practice the Ciceronian doublethink of denying its utility while frantically cultivating bonds in the name of security. Furthermore, as they were permitted by their chosen philosophy to admit to a concern for their personal safety, adherents of Epicureanism would be particularly receptive to what Dettenhoffer calls Caesar’s ‘clementia-Politik’.87 The focus on the tranquillity of the Epicurean school would also suggest that its adherents would not be the sort to enact or incite violence, something that would surely be at the forefront of Caesar’s mind as he rose to power. The idea that the Epicurean hedonic calculus and focus on security would preclude participation in the kind of activity that would be of concern to a dictator was certainly around after the assassination. In Plutarch we find a (probably invented) episode in which one Statilius is considered by the conspirators as an accomplice but ruled out on the basis that his Epicureanism would make him unamenable to the task.88 This is not to say that Caesar necessarily sought out Epicureans because of their philosophy. The incorporation of these individuals into his inner circle could have happened far more organically; perhaps one of Caesar’s close Epicurean friends happened to be the gatekeeper of his social circle. Pansa is a good candidate for this, as the individual chosen by Cicero and Cassius to symbolise the amici noui of the Caesarian faction and one named explicitly by Cicero as being among Caesar’s confidants – likewise Piso if only for the length and success of his relationship with his son-inlaw.89 It is worth noting, too, that while a powerful and tolerant patron such as Caesar was a major boon for Roman Epicureans who aspired to politics, 86 87

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Cic. Amic. 6. Dettenhoffer 1990: 249. Cassius’ words to Cicero in Fam. 15.19.4 (SB 216) that he prefers an ‘old and clement master’ to a ‘new and cruel one’ (Sextus Pompeius) is a perfect illustration of this policy in action with an Epicurean. See also Bálazs 1986. Plut. Brut. 12.3. Statilius’ comment on an apparently hypothetical discussion of civil war – that the sage ought not to incur trouble and peril for the sake of the foolish – rules out his involvement. There is no mention of this episode in the most contemporary account of the assassination, that of Nicolaus of Damascus (see Lintott 2009: 78). Also a possibility is Lucius Cornelius Balbus, not discussed here. Although he was certainly a close friend of Caesar, the evidence for his Epicureanism is confined to Cic. Att. 12.2.2 (SB 238), in which he is referred to as having pleasure as a guiding principle. See Castner 1988: 82.

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they had another great advantage: each other. While Cicero’s view of Pansa is that he is useful primarily as an intimate of Caesar, others may not necessarily have seen him that way.90 Like the other Epicureans profiled here, he held influential offices in his own right and had the potential to smooth the path for his fellow adherents. Piso enacted various laws throughout his career and appeared in court as a witness for the defence. Even the Epicureans who did not run for offices themselves, such as Atticus, had some potential to exert influence behind the scenes. It is no wonder that Cassius, robbed of his original plan by the failure of his chosen master, tried his hand at integrating himself into this circle not just as a way of reconciling with Caesar but also as a valid career move in its own right. 90

In fact, Cicero accuses Trebatius of feigning Epicureanism upon his entry into the Caesarian camp to appease not Caesar but Pansa: Cic. Fam. 7.12 (SB 35). See Gilbert 2015: 103–6.

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chapter 8

Cato, Pompey’s Third Consulship and the Politics of Milo’s Trial Kit Morrell

In memory of my friend and teacher Martin Stone

Even those most sceptical of the concept of parties or factions at Rome accept the existence of a meaningful grouping centred around the younger M. Porcius Cato.1 ‘Cato’s circle’, as I term it,2 included his sonin-law M. Calpurnius Bibulus, his brother-in-law L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, his friend and collaborator M. Favonius, and various others at different times.3 Older scholarship emphasised kinship ties,4 but it is the consistent cooperation between these individuals in public affairs that justifies their identification as a political alliance. The group is best known for opposition to another acknowledged alliance, that of Pompey, Caesar and Crassus. In 60–59 bc, for instance, Cato supported Bibulus in opposition to Caesar;5 in 56 bc, Bibulus and Favonius joined C. Curio and P. Servilius Isauricus in haranguing Pompey;6 later that year, Cato urged Domitius to stand against Pompey and Crassus for the consulship;7 and in 55 bc Cato and Favonius combined with C. Ateius Capito to oppose the lex Trebonia.8 It therefore came as a surprise (albeit a staged one)9 when, in early 52 bc, in the aftermath of 1

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Note especially Meier 1980: 183–7 and Brunt 1988: 495. For Meier, Cato’s circle is the exception that proves the rule; Brunt emphasises Cato’s exceptional personality. On the ‘factional’ approach to Roman politics and its decline, see e.g. Hölkeskamp 2001, with further references. For this and similar labels, see e.g. Mommsen 1857; Syme 1939; Taylor 1949; Gelzer 1963; Brunt 1988; Gruen 1995. Including L. Licinius Lucullus, the orator Q. Hortensius Hortalus and the younger P. Servilius Isauricus. E.g. Münzer 1920: 328–47; Syme 1939: 23–4. 5 E.g. Suet. Iul. 19.1; Plut. Cat. Min. 31.5, 32.2. I.e. the younger Curio and the younger Servilius: Cic. Q Fr. 2.3.2 (SB 7). Cato was in Cyprus at the time. Plut. Cat. Min. 41–2; Pomp. 52.1–2. Cf. Cic. Att. 1.16.12 (SB 16) for cooperation in 61 bc. Dio Cass. 39.34. Favonius and Ateius are found cooperating again in 54 bc (Cic. Att. 4.17.4 (SB 91)); Cato was ill at the time. Cf. Plut. Cat. Min. 46 for Cato’s involvement with Favonius’ aedileship. Plutarch (Pomp. 54.4; Cat. Min. 47.3) emphasises the unexpectedness of Bibulus’ proposal and, in particular, of Cato’s support for it, but Asc. 35–6C implies that ‘the optimates’ (‘the best men’,

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Clodius’ death, Bibulus and Cato proposed in the Senate that Pompey should be made ‘consul without a colleague’.10 It was the beginning, I argue, of real and enduring cooperation, if not an alliance as such. What follows draws on the detailed evidence surrounding Milo’s trial to illuminate this new relationship and its broader historical significance. Tracking the complex and often conflicting alignments at work in 52 bc also affords insights into the nature of political alliance in Republican Rome.

Politics as Usual? Many commentators, ancient and modern, interpret the sole consulship as the beginning of something like an alliance between Pompey and the optimates. That was Velleius’ view (2.47.3); Dio Cassius (40.50.5) says that in 52 bc the Senate was able to detach Pompey from the populace and make him their own, and Cicero indicates something similar when he refers to Pompey’s ‘divine third consulship’, when he took up the role of ‘defender of the Republic’.11 For scholars such as Mommsen, Meyer and Taylor, it was a step in the side-taking leading up to the Civil War, although Pompey had not yet broken with Caesar.12 Others, such as Gruen, Seager and Fehrle, emphasise the emergency character of the arrangement and deny that it signalled any lasting relationship.13 The Senate acted amid ongoing violence, with no hope of elections; the sole consulship was simply ‘the least bad option’,14 a means of restoring order while avoiding a dictatorship or a joint consulship of Pompey and Caesar. This interpretation is essentially Plutarch’s, derived from a biographical tradition that insisted on Cato’s independence, sometimes in the teeth of the evidence.

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meaning a group of leading senators including Cato and friends) had come to a decision beforehand, and Pompey surely had been involved as well. Moreover, this was not the first time that Cato had called on Pompey to restore order. Plut. Pomp. 54.2–3 and Dio Cass. 40.46.1, read together, suggest that it was on Cato’s motion that the Senate called on Pompey to restore order in 53 bc (cf. Gelzer 1984: 156; Meyer 1922: 210–11). Consul sine collega: Asc. 35–6C. While the formal motion came from the consular Bibulus, Cato played the decisive role. App. B Civ. 2.23 and Plut. Caes. 28.7 do not mention Bibulus at all, and it was Cato to whom Pompey expressed his gratitude (Plut. Cat. Min. 48.1–3; Pomp. 54.5). Cic. Att. 7.1.4 (SB 124): illo diuino tertio consulatu; 8.3.3 (SB 153): defensor rei publicae. Mommsen 1857: 340; Meyer 1922: 221–2; Taylor 1949: 149; cf. e.g. Gelzer 1968: 151–2; Shackleton Bailey 1971: 97. Gruen 1995: 153–4, 339–43; Seager 2002: 135; Fehrle 1983: 210. Wiseman 2009: 121. Cf. Fehrle 1983: 210; Gruen 1995: 340.

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Cato, Pompey’s Third Consulship and the Politics of Milo’s Trial 167 For Gruen,15 Milo’s trial is key. The sole consulship was ‘a necessary but temporary evil’; the trial signalled the resumption of ‘politics as usual’. Thus, while Pompey pressed for conviction, Cato and friends were among Milo’s most prominent supporters: Cato’s disciple Favonius gave evidence for the defence, his nephew Brutus published a pamphlet praising Milo’s act, and it was taken for granted that Cato himself, who was one of the jurors, would vote to acquit. But this analysis disregards crucial evidence of cooperation between Pompey and Cato’s circle precisely in the context of Milo’s trial. Most significantly, the quaesitor elected to hear cases under the lex Pompeia de ui was L. Domitius Ahenobarbus.16 His election, Cicero tells us (Mil. 22), was tantamount to personal appointment by Pompey, evidently arranged in advance,17 and the more significant in view of past enmity between Pompey and the Domitii Ahenobarbi.18 In addition, M. Favonius presided over trials de sodaliciis (Asc. 54C); it is likely he too was specially selected.19 These appointments not only presuppose cooperation between Pompey and his erstwhile opponents, but publicly proclaimed it.20 Cato, meanwhile, was among the 360 jurors personally chosen by Pompey to hear cases under his laws de ui and de ambitu.21 He sat on the jury at Milo’s trial and was retained among the final fifty-one after sortition and challenges.22 By common consent, Pompey’s album was of unprecedented reputation and integrity,23 and Cato in particular could be regarded as a ‘star juror’.24 Cicero (Mil. 44) remarks on the ‘kind of divine lot’ (diuina quadam sors) that had selected him. In later trials, simply to challenge Cato was regarded as a sign of guilt.25 His very presence on the

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Gruen 1995: 340–1. Cf. Meyer 1922: 232; Gelzer 1968: 152; Dragstedt 1969: 82; Lewis 2006: 244. Domitius was elected immediately (statim) after the lex Pompeia was passed: Asc. 38C. In 82 bc, Pompey had executed Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus, perhaps an older brother of Lucius (Carlsen 2006: 53). Perhaps because regular magistrates were yet to be elected for 52 bc; cf. Lewis 2006: 244. Linderski 1972: 196–7 = 1995: 246–7 takes a different view. Conceivably, being seen to resolve the sort of discordia optimatium (‘discord among the best men’) the haruspices had warned against a few years earlier (Cic. Har. resp. 40; cf. Lenaghan 1969: 157–8) was part of Pompey’s programme to heal the state. Asc. 38C; Cic. Mil. 21, 105; Att. 8.16.2 (SB 166); Dio Cass. 40.52.1; Vell. Pat. 2.76.1. See below for a refutation of the notion that Cato also gave evidence at the trial. Cic. Mil. 44; Asc. 53C; cf. 39C for the procedure. Asc. 38C; Cic. Mil. 21, 105; Vell. Pat. 2.76.1. 24 Cic. Mil. 44; cf. 16, 26, 58. Plut. Cat. Min. 48.5. Vell. Pat. 2.47.5 suggests that it would have been in Cato’s power to bring about Milo’s acquittal, but see below.

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jury – without, for instance, blocking his ears26 – tended to validate the trial process and Pompey’s actions.27 Finally, the lex Pompeia de ui, under which Milo was tried, was passed in pursuance of a decree of the Senate (Asc. 36C) and took up the terms of a proposal framed by Milo’s supporters. Both referred to the murder on the Via Appia, the burning of the Senate House and the attack on the home of the interrex M. Lepidus.28 The Senate would have preferred a trial under existing laws, but the part of its decree pronouncing the three incidents contra rem publicam (‘against the state’) was proposed before tribunician interference forced the creation of a special court.29 The motion came from Hortensius, with Cicero’s support30 and probably Cato’s as well. Hortensius and Cato were closely allied at this time by way of their notorious wife-transfer arrangement.31 Earlier, they had appeared together in the matter of Milo’s slaves.32 Moreover, the policy behind the contra rem publicam decree was the same as prompted Cato’s support for the sole consulship – the repudiation of private violence in favour of magisterial authority and the rule of law.33 At any rate, the only recorded opposition to 26

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See below on Plancus’ trial. Plutarch, who highlights Cato’s objections to the lex Pompeia de ambitu and the conduct of other trials (Cat. Min. 48.3–4), has nothing to say about the lex de ui or the trial of Milo; this suggests that Cato did not use it as an occasion for challenging Pompey. Cic. Mil. 21, referring to the jury as a whole. Asc. 36C: deinde post diem tertium de legibus nouis ferendis rettulit: duas ex S. C. promulgauit, alteram de ui qua nominatim caedem in Appia uia factam et incendium curiae et domum M. Lepidi interregis oppugnatam comprehendit (‘next, after three days, [Pompey] consulted [the Senate] regarding the passage of new laws. He promulgated two by senatorial decree, one concerning violence which referred expressly to the murder carried out on the Appian Way, the burning of the Curia, and the assault on the house of the interrex M. Lepidus’). Asc. 44C: pridie Kal. Mart. S. C. esse factum, P. Clodi caedem et incendium curiae et oppugnationem aedium M. Lepidi contra rem p. factam (‘on the day before 1 March, a senatus consultum was passed that the slaying of P. Clodius, the burning of the Curia, and the assault on the house of M. Lepidus had been carried out contrary to the interests of the res publica’). Cf. Cic. Mil. 13, 15. It is not clear from Asconius whether Pompey consulted the Senate on the day the contra rem publicam decree was passed or the day before (see Lewis 2006: 242, with further references), but his rogatio de ui (‘bill about violence’) was formulated only after the Senate’s decree. Originally it was part of the motion calling for a trial under existing laws: Cic. Mil. 13–14; Asc. 43–5C. Cic. Mil. 13–14; Asc. 43–5C. In 56 bc, Cato divorced his wife Marcia so that Hortensius could marry her; the intention was to strengthen their personal connection through children who would be half-siblings. Cato and Marcia remarried after Hortensius’ death. See e.g. Plut. Cat. Min. 25.2–5, 52.3–4; Luc. 2.326–45. Asc. 38C; see n. 45. Cato supported the sole consulship on the basis that ‘any form of government is better than anarchy’ (πᾶσαν ἀρχὴν ὡς ἀναρχίας κρείττονα): Plut. Cat. Min. 47.3; cf. Pomp. 55.4. Cicero (Mil. 13) outlines the Senate’s policy: cur igitur incendium curiae, oppugnationem aedium M. Lepidi, caedem hanc ipsam contra rem publicam senatus factam esse decreuit? quia nulla uis umquam est in libera ciuitate suscepta inter ciuis non contra rem publicam (‘Why, therefore, did the Senate pronounce that the burning of the Curia, the attack on the house of M. Lepidus, and this very murder with which we are dealing

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Cato, Pompey’s Third Consulship and the Politics of Milo’s Trial 169 the lex Pompeia de ui came from Caelius, not from Cato and friends (Asc. 36C). In delivering his verdict, however, Cato made his true feelings known – or so Velleius believed: quem quidem M. Cato palam lata absoluit sententia; qui si maturius tulisset, non defuissent qui sequerentur exemplum probarentque eum ciuem occisum quo nemo perniciosior rei publicae neque bonis inimicior uixerat.34 (Vell. Pat. 2.47.5)

If Velleius is correct, Cato’s actions amounted to public criticism of the trial process, which excluded any argument that Milo had acted for the good of the state,35 and a clear signal that any previous cooperation with Pompey was at an end. But Asconius, who investigated the matter specifically, says that no one could find out how Cato voted: fuerunt qui crederent M. Catonis sententia eum esse absolutum; nam et bene cum re publica actum esse morte P. Clodi non dissimulauerat et studebat in petitione consulatus Miloni et reo adfuerat. nominauerat quoque eum Cicero praesentem et testatus erat audisse eum a M. Fauonio ante diem tertium quam facta caedes erat, Clodium dixisse periturum esse eo triduo Milonem sed Milonis quoque notam audaciam ueri a re p utile uisum est. scire t ne umquam potuit utram sententiam .36 (Asc. 53–4C)

Asconius seems to have known Velleius’ version and rejected it.37 Nonetheless, most modern scholars hold that Cato voted to acquit and some that he did so openly.38 Indeed, according to Lintott and Stone, Cato thought that Milo should have been defended on the grounds that he had

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were contrary to the interests of the state? Because no violence is ever used between citizens in a free state which is not contrary to the interests of the state’). On the significance of declaring an action to be contra rem publicam, see Lintott 1999a: 116–18. ‘Cato, however, voted openly for acquittal. If he had voted earlier, there would have been others who followed his example and approved the killing of a citizen more ruinous to the Republic and more hostile to good men than any who had ever lived.’ Stone 1980: 90–5; see below. ‘There were some who believed that the vote of M. Cato was for acquittal, for he did not conceal his belief that the state had benefited by the death of P. Clodius, and he supported Milo in his campaign for the consulship and as a defendant. In addition, Cicero had named him [Cato] as present and attested that he [Cato] had heard from M. Favonius three days before the murder took place that Clodius had said that Milo would have perished within three days. But it also seemed beneficial that Milo’s notorious audacity should be removed from the state. However, no one could ever find out which way Cato voted.’ The last sentences have been restored, but the meaning seems secure. Stangl (p. 45.14–15) has the same text. Cf. Greenidge 1901: 396, n. 1; Fehrle 1983: 212–13. E.g. Gruen 1995: 340; Stone 1980: 103, n. 121; Alexander 1990: 151 (no. 309); Wiseman 1994: 412, n. 166.

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performed a public service by killing Clodius39 – a defence that flew in the face of the anti-violence policy of the Senate and the sole consul. I argue, on the contrary, that Cato deliberately concealed his verdict so as not to undermine the trial process or Pompey’s authority as consul and that his support for Milo was entirely compatible with the Senate’s policy.

Contra Rem Publicam As Stone has shown, one effect of the contra rem publicam decree was to preclude the defence from arguing that Milo had killed Clodius for the sake of the state.40 At the trial, therefore, Cicero relied solely on the argument that Clodius had laid an ambush and that Milo had acted in self-defence (Asc. 41–2C); the pro re publica (‘for the state’ or ‘public interest’) argument found in the published version was a later addition.41 It was a significant handicap but one self-imposed by Milo’s supporters.42 It appears that they had consciously sacrificed Milo’s strongest line of defence to the anti-violence policy that also produced the sole consulship. Cato, as we have seen, probably supported the contra rem publicam decree; indeed, he had been one of the architects of the Senate’s policy.43 We would therefore expect him to accept its implications,44 and there is strong evidence that he did. During the intercalary month, when Clodius’ nephews brought a private law action for the production of 39 40

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Lintott 1999a: 60; Stone 1980: 94–5. Stone 1980: 91; cf. 90–5. Stone suggests that the terms of the contra rem publicam decree were incorporated in the lex Pompeia, but in my view it would have had the same effect on a trial under existing laws (cf. note 29). The view that Cicero chose not to adopt the pro re publica line (Riggsby 1999: 112–19; Lintott 2008: 250–1) is less plausible in view of the weakness of the self-defence argument: it was a poor fit with the facts (cf. Asc. 32C), and Milo, for one, thought the published speech would have been more effective (Dio Cass. 40.54.3). Perhaps in early 51 bc: Stone 1980: 109–11 (see below). Cf. Berry 1993; Riggsby 1999: 110; Alexander 2002: 22; Lintott 2008: 250. In my view, Fotheringham’s arguments against later revision (2013: 10–12) are not sufficient to overcome the combination of Asconius’ evidence and the strong internal and historical arguments raised by other scholars. See above. See note 33. More specifically, Riggsby (1999: 199) points out that the ‘medical’ rhetoric of the sole consulship co-opts the language used previously of ‘self-appointed’ defenders of the res publica – tumultuous figures such as P. Sestius and Milo himself. That is, the care of the state is no longer to be effected through private violence but through magisterial imperium. Plutarch (Cat. Min. 47.2) implies that Cato helped devise this rhetoric when he has Cato propose the sole consulship as a remedy (ἴαμα) for the state. Lintott’s view (1999a: 60) that Cato ‘seems to have approved in principle of private action against enemies of the Republic’ is contradicted by the evidence, as he himself acknowledges: in addition to Cato’s policy in 52 bc, note Plut. Cat. Min. 35.1 and Dio Cass. 38.17.4.

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Milo’s slaves,45 and in a contio around the same time, Cato took up the self-defence line: ‘Those who had defended the life of their master were in the highest degree deserving not only of freedom but of every reward.’46 This speech and the conversation reported to Cato by Favonius – that Clodius had said that Milo would be dead in three days’ time47 – also supported the positive onus the defence was obliged to establish at trial, namely, that Clodius had laid an ambush for Milo.48 But there is no trace here of a pro re publica argument; indeed, the self-defence line was actually inconsistent with any claim that Milo had killed Clodius for the good of the state. It is likely that Cato took the same position in the Senate. Cicero later wrote to him, ‘You regarded my enemy as your enemy, and even approved his destruction – I see clearly how much you were doing for me – when you defended the causa Milonis in the Senate.’49 Again, there is nothing to suggest that Cato raised the pro re publica argument. Interitum . . . approbaris is Cicero’s inference, not Cato’s opinion, and in any case not inconsistent with the anti-violence policy.50 Moreover, Cicero claims that only four or five senators could be found who did not approve the causa Milonis (Mil. 12). Assuming that the Senate did not both approve Clodius’ murder and pronounce it contra rem publicam,51 probably this means that the majority (Cato included) accepted Milo’s claim to have acted in selfdefence. It is possible that Asconius (34C) refers to this occasion when he describes Metellus Scipio’s speech in senatu contra †M. Cepionem† around 18 February.52 The name is usually emended to Q. Caepio (that is, M. Brutus),53 but Stangl, Marshall and others favour a reference to Cato.54 Certainty is not possible, but what is clear is that Scipio’s opponent had advanced the self-defence argument.55

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Asc. 34C. Asconius gives only Hortensius’ argument but Cato’s was evidently similar. See Lintott 1974: 71 on the nature of these proceedings, which were entirely separate from Milo’s later trial under the lex Pompeia de ui. Cic. Mil. 58: non libertate solum sed etiam omnibus praemiis dignissimos fuisse qui domini caput defendissent. On the timing, cf. Asc. 51C; Pina Polo 1989: 305; Morstein-Marx 2004: 3, n. 11. 48 Cic. Mil. 26, 44; Asc. 54C. Cic. Mil. 23, 31; Stone 1980: 91–2. Cic. Fam. 15.4.12 ((SB 110), late 51 or early 50 bc): inimicum meum tuum inimicum putaris; cuius etiam interitum, cum facile intellegerem mihi quantum tribueres, Milonis causa in senatu defendenda approbaris. That is, Cato could approve Clodius’ death without approving his murder; see below. As Cic. Mil. 12 tries to imply. 52 Asc. 34C; cf. Ruebel 1979: 238 on the date. See Lewis 2006: 240–1. This is impossible, however, if Brutus was not in Rome at the time (see Marshall 1985: 174; and note 57 in this chapter). Asc. 33.6St; Marshall 1985: 174–5. Other possibilities are M. Cicero and M. Caelius. Asc. 34–5C; cf. Stone 1980: 93, n. 28.

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The evidence that Cato nonetheless claimed Milo had acted pro re publica – despite the contra rem publicam decree and his own antiviolence policy – is not compelling. Velleius’ account is suspect;56 nor can we infer Cato’s views from Brutus’ Pro Milone, which was likely written later and at any rate was not subject to the same constraints as a forensic speech.57 By contrast, there is no reason to doubt Asconius’ testimony that Cato considered Clodius’ death a benefit to the state and was prepared to say so.58 The murder had been contra rem publicam, but it was quite possible to approve the mors (‘death’) without approving the caedes (‘killing’). Cicero draws just such a distinction in Mil. 14 when he says that the public interest demanded Ti. Gracchus and Saturninus be crushed, yet the crushing itself inflicted a wound on the Republic. Likewise, Clodius’ death – an end to his wickedness – could be a benefit to the state even though the violence that brought it about was contra rem publicam (and Asconius suggests that Cato saw utility in removing Milo as well).59 This distinction, I suggest, reflects the finely tuned policy of the Senate and is critical to understanding Cato’s attitude. Finally, whatever Cato’s views, on legal grounds alone it is highly unlikely that he revealed his voting tablet in the manner Velleius suggests. Voting under the lex Pompeia de ui was, as usual, by secret ballot.60 56

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See above. Woodman 1983: 76 notes that Velleius’ language at 2.47.5 is ‘conspicuously and characteristically Ciceronian’. Brutus’ exercitatio maintained that Milo had killed Clodius pro re publica (Asc. 41C; Quint. Inst. 3.6.93). According to Asconius, ‘certain persons’ (quidam) wanted Cicero to defend Milo on that basis, and some scholars number Cato among them, but Schol. Bob. p. 112.15–16St mentions only Brutus, and the story may be no more than an inference from the existence of the two speeches (see Stone 1980: 89, n. 10). In fact, Brutus was probably absent from Rome at the time of the trial. In 53 bc, he was quaestor in Cilicia under Ap. Claudius Pulcher (De uir. ill. 82.4; cf. Marshall 1985: 174). Appius did not leave until 51 bc; the date of Brutus’ return is unknown but was very possibly after April 52 bc. Cic. Brut. 324 indicates that Brutus participated in some of the trials under Pompey’s law, but Milo’s trial apparently was not among them. Neither can we assume that Cato and Brutus were of one mind on all points; Cicero certainly expected a difference of opinion over Brutus’ loans to the Salaminians (e.g. Att. 6.2.8 [SB 116]). Cf. Balbo 2013: 319–20. Asc. 54C, quoted earlier. Asc. 54C. The Stoic resonance of utile may be significant. In my view Cato did favour acquittal, but his personal attachment to Milo should not be overestimated. Like other boni, he supported Milo in 52 as a counterweight to Clodius (Asc. 30–1, 54C), but we know nothing of their earlier relations, while Milo’s methods were anathema to Cato’s struggle against corruption (see Morrell 2014 and below) and the notice that Cato had defended Milo as a favour to Cicero (Cic. Fam. 15.4.12 [SB 110], above) casts doubt on the strength of Cato’s commitment to Milo in his own right. With Clodius dead, Cato might have re-evaluated Milo. Under the lex Aurelia, secret voting was universal (see Mommsen 1899: 444; Greenidge 1901: 442) and Asc. 39C specifies that, at Milo’s trial, fifty-one jurors sententias ferrent – that is, cast votes secretly (cf. Ryan 1998: 74, n. 136). Cn. Domitius Calvinus had displayed his tablet at Gabinius’ trial de maiestate in 54 bc, but Cicero’s account (Q Fr. 3.4.1 (SB 24)) makes clear that the incident was extraordinary. Cf. Greenidge 1901: 396, n. 1.

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It would be very surprising if Cato, who was so outspoken in defence of law and order, flouted the legally prescribed procedure by displaying his tablet.61 Nor, it appears, did he later reveal how he had voted – surely a deliberate choice, in light of the keen interest in the question both at the time and afterwards. One reason, I suggest, was to uphold the integrity of the trial process, which might have been undermined if Cato was seen to oppose its verdict.

Conflicting Loyalties Far from being a contest, then, Milo’s trial was a demonstration of continuing co-operation between Pompey and Cato’s circle. Cato supported Milo, but in a way that was fully consistent with the parameters of the trial, and even that seems to have been muted after Pompey’s installation as consul. Cato’s only datable appearance for Milo occurred during the interregnum;62 contrary to what some scholars believe,63 he did not give evidence at Milo’s trial and neither, it seems, did Favonius:64 we have only Cicero’s statement of what Favonius heard and repeated to Cato at some point before the trial, indeed while Clodius was still alive.65 Meanwhile, Cato’s service as juror, like Domitius’ as quaesitor, actually enhanced the legitimacy of the trial66 – the more so, probably, because he was a known supporter of Milo. It is worth comparing Cicero’s attitude. Even Cicero, Milo’s most committed supporter (Asc. 37–8C), toed the line at trial and accepted the limitations of the contra rem publicam decree. It was only later, in the published speech, that he argued Milo had acted for the good of the state. Stone makes a strong case that the revised Pro Milone was prompted by the trial of T. Munatius Plancus Bursa in early 51 bc and Pompey’s departure from the strict justice he had insisted on in Milo’s case.67 Plancus had been involved in the burning of the Curia (Asc. 33C), which, like Clodius’ death, had been pronounced contra rem publicam, and Milo’s supporters were 61

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See below on Cato’s criticism of Pompey for disregarding the law; cf. e.g. Plut. Cat. Min. 47.1 and note 33. I.e. the exhibitory action during the intercalary month (Asc. 34C). Cato’s contio speech took place soon afterwards (see Pina Polo 1989: 305; Morstein-Marx 2004: 3, n. 11). E.g. Alexander 1990: 151 (no. 309); Ruebel 1979: 244–5. Cf. Fehrle 1983: 212 and Berry 2000: 166. Cic. Mil. 44; Asc. 54C. Pace Marshall (1985: 189, 206) and Lewis (2006: 257), there is no conflict between Cicero and Asconius on this point. Cic. Mil. 21–2 and above. Stone 1980: 109–11. On the date, cf. Shackleton Bailey 1977 I: 351; Gruen 1995: 346, n. 172; Alexander 1990: 159 (no. 327). Cicero acted as prosecutor, his first known appearance in that role since the trial of Verres in 70 bc.

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entitled to expect an equally rigorous trial once Plancus’ tribunate had ended (Stone 1980: 107–8). The contra rem publicam decree and the lex Pompeia de ui were designed to facilitate an even-handed purge of violent elements. Yet, Pompey intervened for Plancus, even submitting a written laudatio (‘character reference’) in violation of his own law.68 When Plancus was convicted nonetheless, Cicero considered the verdict a triumph both for himself and for Milo69 and was emboldened to depict Milo as a hero, at Pompey’s expense.70 I suggest that Plancus’ trial was a turning point for Cato as well. Cato responded to Pompey’s transgression by reciting the law (Val. Max. 6.2.5) and, according to Plutarch, by blocking his ears so as not to hear the illegal laudatio.71 His actions must be understood as a public protest against Pompey, who had reneged on the agreement of 52 bc. Cato was promptly rejected as a juror, but Plancus was condemned and Pompey remembered by Tacitus as ‘the overthrower of his own laws’.72 In this context, Cato might well have been moved to proclaim that Milo had acted pro re publica.73 However, the incident should not be regarded as typical of relations between Pompey and Cato in this period – nor, indeed, as a fatal breach, since Cato would be one of Pompey’s closest allies in the Civil War.74 Evidence from two earlier trials suggests that Pompey was responsive to Cato’s criticism, at least while his consulship lasted. Around July 52 bc,75 Pompey earned Cato’s rebuke when he intervened on behalf of his new father-in-law, Metellus Scipio.76 Scipio, one of the original candidates for 68 69 70

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Val. Max. 6.2.5; Plut. Cat. Min. 48.4; Dio Cass. 40.55.2. Cic. Fam. 7.2.2 (SB 52); cf. Shackleton Bailey 1977 I: 351. Stone 1980: 108–9. The facts were sufficiently similar that Plancus’ trial could be seen as ‘a reconsideration of the affair of Milo’. Plut. Cat. Min. 48.4; cf. Dio Cass. 40.55.2. Plut. Pomp. 55.4–5 mistakenly says that Pompey appeared in person. Tac. Ann. 3.28 (suarumque legum auctor idem ac subuersor), probably referring to this incident. Cf. Stone 1980: 110. Such a speech might explain Velleius’ story (2.47.5): hypothetically, a reference to Cato’s sententia (‘opinion’) in the Senate could have become confused with his sententia (‘vote’) at trial. Vell. Pat. 2.35.4 describes how Cato’s sententia on the Catilinarian conspirators reversed the feeling of the house; Velleius or his source might have envisioned a similar effect on Milo’s jury, had Cato spoken before the trial. See Welch 2012: 58–9, 68–9. Scipio was prosecuted some time between Milo’s trial and August, when he became Pompey’s colleague in the consulship: see Dio Cass. 40.51.2–3; Plut. Pomp. 55.7; Linderski 1972: 195, n. 57 = 1995: 245, n. 57; Alexander 1990: 157 (no. 321). Plut. Pomp. 55.4; Cat. Min. 48.4. The marriage, which took place shortly after Pompey became consul, is another sign that Pompey was aligning himself with the optimates in 52 bc (though Scipio was not a friend of Cato’s: Plut. Cat. Min. 7.1–3). Previously Pompey had refused a renewed marriage alliance with Caesar (Suet. Iul. 27.1). Note also the marriage between Pompey’s son and the daughter of Ap. Claudius Pulcher, probably in place by this time (Cic. Fam. 3.4.2 [SB 67], 3.10.10 [SB 73]; Dio Cass. 39.60.3).

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the consulship of 52, had been accused of ambitus (‘electoral bribery’); Pompey managed to have the charges dropped, probably by taking Scipio as his colleague in the consulship.77 No doubt Pompey considered his new marriage connection too important to sacrifice to the law-and-order campaign, and in fact he was able to save Scipio without breaking any law.78 Cato, however, was not impressed and censured Pompey’s actions (Plut. Cat. Min. 48.4). But the ‘wake-up call’79 Plutarch describes here is of a very different nature to Cato’s public protest at Plancus’ trial and need not have signalled the end of cooperation.80 Indeed, Pompey seems to have heeded Cato’s words. It was probably not long afterwards that Scipio’s fellow candidate, P. Plautius Hypsaeus, also faced trial for ambitus.81 Hypsaeus, once Pompey’s quaestor, was an important political adherent, and Pompey had supported him vigorously in his campaign for the consulship.82 Hypsaeus’ role lobbying Pompey on Cicero’s behalf in 58 bc suggests a reasonably close connection.83 Now, however, when Hypsaeus prostrated himself before Pompey, he found himself dismissed with the remark that he was achieving nothing but spoiling Pompey’s dinner.84 Pompey’s behaviour is most plausibly explained as an attempt to ameliorate criticism over Scipio85 – a response, perhaps, to Cato’s ‘constructive criticism’. In any case, it seems that Pompey valued his task as consul and those who had given it to him highly enough to sacrifice an old friend.86 77

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Dio Cass. 40.51.2–3. This is the most plausible of the explanations offered by the sources; cf. Gruen 1995: 345. Cf. Gruen 1995: 345; Stone 1980: 106. Literally, ‘[Cato] censured Pompey sternly and awakened him’ (ἐπετίμα σφοδρῶς καὶ διήγειρεν). Cf. Plut. Pomp. 54.2–3 for another instance of Pompey responding to correction from Cato (in 53 bc). Cf. Plut. Pomp. 55.4–5, where Plutarch states that the ill-repute Pompey incurred on Scipio’s account was increased by his intervention for Plancus. Plutarch places the incident a few days after Plancus’ trial, but Plancus was almost certainly tried in early 51 bc (see note 67), whereas 52 bc was the natural time to prosecute Hypsaeus, around the same time as his fellow candidate Scipio. Val. Max. 9.5.3 juxtaposes the cases of Scipio and Hypsaeus; he reports Hypsaeus’ first but gives no indication of temporal relationship. Alexander 1990: 158 (no. 322) dates the trial no more precisely than 52 bc. Asc. 35C; cf. e.g. Cic. Fam. 1.1.3 (SB 12). Cic. Att. 3.8.3 (SB 53). Cicero mentions him along with Pompey’s intimate friend M. Terentius Varro. Val. Max. 9.5.3; Plut. Pomp. 55.6. Cf. Gruen 1995: 347. Scipio and Hypsaeus were equally guilty (Asc. 30C; Dio Cass. 40.53.1), and Pompey’s rebuff to Hypsaeus cannot be explained by any previous falling out: Val. Max. 9.5.3 emphasises that Hypsaeus was an amicus (‘friend’) at the time. Pompey’s strategy backfired, however, in that he was now criticised for mistreating a friend (Plut. Pomp. 55.6; Val. Max. 9.5.3). It is also worth noting that Pompey offered no support to Q. Pompeius Rufus, who was probably prosecuted around the same time as his tribunician colleague Plancus (Val. Max. 4.2.7; Cic. Fam. 8.1.4 (SB 77); Gruen 1995: 347). Why Pompey assisted Plancus but not Hypsaeus we can only guess. Gruen 1995: 347 and Stone 1980: 106 suggest Pompey could not afford to lose any more friends.

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Cato’s Consular Campaign Another important factor in the political matrix of 52 bc was Cato’s (unsuccessful) campaign for the consulship.87 The notion we find in the sources that Cato was indifferent to the office or to his failure at the polls must be rejected.88 Such sentiments look like face-saving or products of the ‘Stoic martyr’ tradition. In fact, Cato was laying the groundwork for his consular campaign well in advance,89 though he does seem to have contributed to his own defeat by putting principle before popularity: he persuaded the Senate to pass a decree requiring candidates to canvass in person, which he rigorously obeyed, and Cicero, at least, thought he ought to have done more to win popular favour.90 As far as Cato was concerned, it was a campaign not only for the consulship but for clean elections.91 His openly anti-Caesarian platform will also have lost him votes.92 But Cato sought the consulship with the intention of winning it. His swipe at his friend and competitor Ser. Sulpicius Rufus – ‘what wonder is it if a man will not yield to another what he regards as the greatest of all good things?’93 – and his comment to Cicero that he would neither change his ways nor again suffer the same fate94 show that the defeat stung. If Cato had hoped for Pompey’s blessing, or at least neutrality,95 that might have made him more willing to cooperate, even after Pompey

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The fact that in 51 bc he was no longer consul and thus no longer responsible for the res publica in the same way was surely also relevant. The date of the comitia for 51 bc is not attested but was presumably after Scipio became Pompey’s colleague in about August 52 bc. Broughton 1986: 19 suggests early autumn; cf. Linderski 1972: 195, n. 57 = 1995: 245, n. 57. Dio Cass. 40.58.1; Plut. Cat. Min. 50.1; Sen. Ep. 104.33. In 53 bc, for instance, he took the opportunity of one of Clodius’ harangues to remind the people of his achievements in Cyprus (Plut. Cat. Min. 45.2), and his takeover of Favonius’ aedilician games in 53 or 52 bc (46.2–5) was probably intended to support his consular canvass. Plut. Cat. Min. 49.3–4, 50.2. Cf. Broughton 1991: 15. It was successful, in that his competitors did not employ money or violence (Dio Cass. 40.58.3), and Cato accepted that he had lost in an honest election (see note 96). Compare Plut. Cat. Min. 8.2 on Cato’s consciously exemplary campaign for the military tribunate. See Plut. Cat. Min. 49.1; Dio Cass. 40.58.2. Caesar himself later claimed credit for Cato’s defeat (Caes. B Civ. 1.4.1: dolor repulsae); cf. e.g. Taylor 1949: 151; Raaflaub 1974: 117. Plut. Cat. Min. 49.2: ‘τί γὰρ . . . θαυμαστόν, εἰ ὅ τις νομίζει τῶν ἀγαθῶν μέγιστον, ἑτέρῳ μὴ παρίησι;’ Sulpicius, repulsed a decade earlier, may have been a surprise candidate in 52 bc. He was thought to have acted in an inappropriate and ungrateful manner by campaigning against a friend. Plutarch states that Cato found no fault with him, but the comment above suggests the opposite; cf. Fehrle 1983: 214. We find no such criticism of the other successful candidate, M. Claudius Marcellus, who was a friend and coeval of Cato (Plut. Cat. Min. 18.3) and united with him in hostility to Caesar. They are better seen as running mates (cf. Mommsen 1857: 340). Plut. Cat. Min. 50.3 (below). Note [Q. Cic.] Pet. 5 on the importance of having Pompey ‘as a friend . . . or certainly not an opponent’ in one’s canvass (aut amicum . . . aut certe non aduersarium). I suspect Pompey took

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Cato, Pompey’s Third Consulship and the Politics of Milo’s Trial 177 strayed from the strict path of law and order. Pompey, still tied to Caesar (publicly, at least), could not have supported Cato, but neither should we assume that he opposed Cato’s candidacy. Likewise, Cato might have been freer in his criticism of Pompey once the elections were over. It is significant, however, that he had no fault to find with Pompey’s conduct of the elections. He acknowledged that there had been no malpractice and explicitly contrasted his (legitimate) failure to win the consulship with his corrupt exclusion from the praetorship of 55 bc.96 Cato’s public response to his defeat was another endorsement of Pompey’s consulship.

A Complicated Relationship The year 52 bc was politically untidy, a period of transition and contradiction. Pompey was cooperating with Cato’s circle but had not broken with Caesar. Thus, soon after Pompey’s election, the ‘law of the ten tribunes’ granting Caesar permission to stand for the consulship in absence was passed at Pompey’s urging and with Cato’s vehement opposition.97 This was a more acute point of difference than Milo’s trial, yet it was passed in a period of demonstrable collaboration between Pompey and Cato’s circle.98 The contradiction is nicely encapsulated in the rider, of questionable legal validity, that Pompey added to his lex de iure magistratuum (‘law on the rights of magistrates’).99 That law, passed after the law of the ten tribunes, restated the earlier prohibition on candidacy in absence, from

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a ‘hands-off’ approach to the elections for 51 bc, though he may have supported Sulpicius as a neutral or ‘compromise’ candidate. Plut. Cat. Min. 50.3: ἔλεγεν οὖν ὁ Κάτων, ὅτι τῆς μὲν στρατηγίας οὐ κατὰ γνώμην ἐξέπεσε τῶν πολλῶν, ἀλλὰ βιασθέντων ἢ διαφθαρέντων, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ὑπατικαῖς ψήφοις μηδεμιᾶς κακουργίας γενομένης ἔγνωκε τῷ δήμῳ προσκεκρουκὼς διὰ τὸν αὑτοῦ τρόπον, ὃν οὔτε μεταθέσθαι πρὸς ἑτέρων χάριν οὔτε χρώμενον ὁμοίῳ πάλιν ὅμοια παθεῖν νοῦν ἔχοντος ἀνδρός ἐστι (‘Cato said that he had been deprived of the praetorship not by the judgement of the majority but because they had been forced or corrupted, whereas, there having been no malpractice in the consular elections, he recognised that he had given offence to the people by his manners, which no man of sense changes to win the favour of others, but neither does he suffer the same fate in the same way again’). Cf. Dio Cass. 40.58.3. It was the supporters of Pompey and Crassus who had kept Cato out of the praetorship of 55 bc (Plut. Cat. Min. 42; Dio Cass. 39.32.1–2). Caes. B Civ. 1.32.3: Catone uero acerrime repugnante et pristina consuetudine dicendi mora dies extrahente (‘Cato fought against [the law] most vehemently and, according to his old habit, drew out the days by speaking’). Cf. Livy, Per. 107. Nothing similar is reported in connection with Milo’s trial. For Pompey’s support, see e.g. Cic. Att. 7.1.4 (SB 124), 7.3.4 (SB 126), 8.3.3 (SB 153); Dio Cass. 40.51.2. On the date, see Stone 1980: 104–6. Cf. Dragstedt 1969: 82. Stone 1980: 104–5 suggests that a fair trial for Milo was the trade-off for the ratio absentis. Cf. Steel 2013b: 187.

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which Caesar had just been exempted.100 There is a good chance that Cato was involved.101 Evidently Caesar’s supporters noted the discrepancy, and Pompey subsequently attempted to affirm Caesar’s exemption.102 Nonetheless, M. Marcellus could at least argue that Pompey’s lex had nullified the tribunes’ law,103 and Pompey’s intentions continue to be debated.104 The unusually rich evidence for the events surrounding Milo’s trial offers a glimpse of how Cato and Pompey negotiated this complex situation. There is no reason to think that collaboration ended with the trial of Milo. Rather, Cato’s role and his careful concealment of his vote show continuing commitment to the sole consulship he had been instrumental in establishing. It is not until 51 bc that we find Cato openly challenging Pompey, by which time order had been restored and Pompey’s consulship had come to an end. In the meantime, Pompey, who had pursued an alliance with Cato ten years earlier,105 showed himself to be willing to sacrifice old friendships to preserve the new relationship. This timing has implications for our broader understanding of 52 bc. Pompey’s third consulship was not just a necessary evil or a temporary expedient but the basis of real cooperation. An end to violence was the first objective, but its ‘official rhetoric’ shows that the Senate wanted more than emergency measures to restore order.106 The whole state, the tota res publica, was committed to Pompey’s care.107 Cicero offers a neat summation of his objectives: to restore the city to health by the suppression of licence and passion and the constitution of laws and courts.108 The lex de 100 101

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Suet. Iul. 28.3; Dio Cass. 40.56.1. Also in 52 bc, Cato persuaded the Senate to pass a decree requiring candidates to canvass in person and prohibiting the use of agents (Plut. Cat. Min. 49.3). This decree is closely similar to the known provisions of the lex de iure magistratuum and might conceivably have been a preliminary step in the passage of the law. Dio Cass. 40.56; Suet. Iul. 28.2–3; Cic. Att. 8.3.3 (SB 153). Exactly what Pompey did is not clear and cannot be considered here, but its validity was debatable. As consul in 51 bc: Suet. Iul. 28.2. E.g. Gelzer 1968: 153; Gruen 1995: 457; Seager 2002: 138–9; Steel 2013b: 187. Plut. Cat. Min. 30.1–4, 45.1–2; Pomp. 44.2–3. See Stone 1980: 97–8 and above (note 43) for Cato’s role in devising this rhetoric. Cic. Mil. 65, 56, 68. Wiseman (2009: 121), for instance, emphasises the moral content of Pompey’s reforms. Cic. Mil. 78: in spem maximam et, quem ad modum confido, uerissimam sumus adducti, hunc ipsum annum, hoc summo uiro consule, compressa hominum licentia, cupiditatibus confractis, legibus et iudiciis constitutis, salutarem ciuitati fore (‘We have been moved to the greatest and, as I trust, the most certain hope that this very year, with this most exalted gentleman as consul, the licence of men having been checked, passions broken, and the laws and the courts set in order, will be healthful for the community’). Tac. Ann. 3.28 says that Pompey was elected to his third consulship corrigendis moribus.

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Cato, Pompey’s Third Consulship and the Politics of Milo’s Trial 179 iure magistratuum and the lex de prouinciis (‘law on the provinces’) belong to this context, and both, I argue, reflect Cato’s influence.109 We should therefore accept Plutarch’s testimony that Cato functioned, in this period, as Pompey’s counsellor in government (σύμβουλος τῆς ἀρχῆς).110 He and his friends acted under pressure in early 52 bc, but by acting as they did, they secured in exchange for Pompey’s powers some say in how he would use them. The complexities of 52 bc also offer a valuable cross-section of some of the forms that political alliance might take, from the familiar sort of bond between father- and son-in-law (Cato and Bibulus, Scipio and Pompey)111 or general and officer (Pompey and Hypsaeus)112 to the larger cluster of Cato’s associates and the extraordinary arrangement between Pompey and Caesar.113 These examples confirm, incidentally, that personal relationships could have enduring political significance; while this should never be assumed,114 and bonds could be severed as quickly as they could be formed,115 the possibility should not be lost sight of in the shift away from prosopographical methods.116 The alignment between Pompey and Cato’s circle differed from these examples in that political collaboration was accompanied neither by any pre-existing personal relationship117 nor obvious mutual advantage.118 109

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See above on the lex de iure magistratuum and Morrell 2014: 679–80 on the lex de prouinciis. Morrell 2017 explores this connection further. Plut. Cat. Min. 48.3 confirms that Cato advised Pompey on his legislative programme, though not all his suggestions were adopted. Plut. Cat. Min. 48.1–3; Pomp. 54.5–6. This in turn is grounds for re-evaluating Pompey’s overtures to Cato in 62 bc (see note 105) as a genuine attempt to align himself politically with Cato. We are safer in attributing political significance to this relationship than some other marriage connections in view of a father’s power to choose his daughter’s husband (though the marriage of Tullia and Dolabella illustrates the need for caution; see e.g. Cic. Fam. 3.12 [SB 75]). Other examples of political collaboration between father- and son-in-law include Ap. Claudius Pulcher and Ti. Gracchus (Plut. Ti. Gracch. 9.1, 13.1; App. B Civ. 13.1) and, of course, Caesar and Pompey. Pompey regularly pursued his objectives through former officers in exchange for electoral support, albeit with limited success (see e.g. Gruen 1995: 85–7 on M. Pupius Piso and L. Afranius). According to Cic. Div. Caec. 61, the bond between commander and quaestor was supposed to be particularly close. To these we may add the various alliances between candidates, probably all of which were founded on mutual advantage (see Asc. 30–1C), the long-standing bond between Cicero and Milo and other relationships, the origins of which are obscure to us, such as that between Pompey and Plancus. See Brunt 1988: 456 for a classic exposition of the perils of such assumptions. As Hypsaeus discovered; see above. In this context it is worth noting Hortensius’ determination to strengthen his relationship with Cato through a kinship tie (see note 31) and Caesar’s eagerness to secure a new marriage alliance with Pompey following Julia’s death (note 76). Plutarch’s reference to hand clasps (Cat. Min. 48.1) suggests that the formation (or confirmation) of amicitia (‘friendship’) between Pompey and Cato followed Cato’s support for the sole consulship. Cato does not seem to have obtained any personal benefit (such as endorsement for his consular candidacy) in return for supporting Pompey; by contrast, the combination of Pompey and Crassus

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Indeed, Cato insisted that he had acted not in Pompey’s interests, or to win his favour, but for the good of the city.119 But that was how politics was supposed to work, and probably did, more often than we might realise: a senator was expected to set aside all personal considerations in the interests of the state.120 What was perhaps unusual was that this coalition of sometime opponents was not limited to a single issue but, I have argued, formed the basis of an ongoing programme of reform. Cato made clear, however, that his cooperation could be relied upon only so long as Pompey acted in the interests of the res publica. It therefore seems fitting to close with the message Cato is said to have relayed to Pompey on refusing a marriage alliance in 61 bc: that if Pompey did what was just, he would grant a friendship more faithful than any marriage tie.121 That promise, it seems, was realised in 52 bc.

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in 71 bc and the so-called First Triumvirate – both of which were probably just as surprising to contemporaries – offered clear advantages to all parties. Plut. Cat. Min. 48.2; Pomp. 54.6. See e.g. Cic. Off. 1.57–8; Prov. cons. 18–20; Brunt 1988: 39–43, 378–81, 450. Plut. Cat. Min. 30.4: ‘τὰ δίκαια ποιοῦντι φιλίαν παρέξει πάσης πιστοτέραν οἰκειότητος.’

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part iii

Institutions in Theory and Practice

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chapter 9

Falsifying the Auspices in Republican Politics Lindsay G. Driediger-Murphy

The purpose of this chapter is to explore what it meant to ‘falsify the auspices’ (auspicia ementiri) in Republican Rome and, in particular, to probe the importance of allegations of auspicial falsification in Roman politics and oratory.1 It is well known that Roman politicians could and did use allegations of impiety and religious infraction to damage their rivals’ reputations and to undermine their plans. Cicero’s orations present the most famous examples of the tactic,2 but it is also visible in the surviving fragments of the Roman Republican orators3 and attested in ancient historians.4 In rhetorical handbooks, the accusation that an opponent has acted ‘against the auspices’ (contra/aduersus auspicia) or offended the gods is even listed as a standard component of the indignatio, that part of a speech which was designed to arouse ‘great hatred’ against a person or to associate an action with ‘a grievous sense of offense’.5 Even once we have accounted for the degree of My thanks go out to the participants in the ‘People, Politics, and Res Publica Colloquium’ for their useful and generous feedback and to the editors of this volume for the fruitful suggestions and the undoubted improvements they brought to this chapter. This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 1 The technical phrase auspicia ementiri/auspicia ementita occurs in Livy, 21.63; Cic. Phil. 2.83, 88, 3.9; and Cic. Div. 1.29. The most detailed modern studies are those by Valeton 1890; Simpson 1938; Bayet 1960; Schäublin 1986; Kany-Turpin 1999; Konrad 2004; Weggen 2011; and numerous articles by Linderski, especially 1971 = 1995; 1986 = 1995. 2 The mutual barrage of impiety allegations hurled between Cicero and Clodius in 57 bc is perhaps the best-known example; see especially North 1990b, 2000; Corbeill 2010; Beard 2012. 3 In a speech delivered in the Senate in 58 bc, L. Domitius Ahenobarbus alleged that Caesar had acted ‘against the auspices’ (aduersus auspicia) and ‘without taking the auspices properly’ (inauspicato) during his consulship of 59 bc (ORF4 132 F2–3). 4 In the case of false auspices, with which this chapter is concerned, we may highlight Livy, 21.63.5 (217 bc), where the consul Gaius Flaminius suspects that his enemies in the Senate will attempt to prevent his departure for his province using ‘falsified auspices’ (auspiciis ementiendis). But note that Livy may not have expected his readers to sympathize with Flaminius here; see North 1967: 769–70; Levene 1993: 39–40; Champion 2004: 201–2. 5 Cic. Inv. rhet. 1.101; similarly, Quint. Inst. 2.4.35. On the definition of indignatio, see Cic. Inv. rhet. 1.100, with Craig 2010.

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factual latitude that Romans allowed to hostile speeches, therefore, it remains evident that allegations of religious wrongdoing could be dangerous to Republican Romans’ political ‘face’, reputation and position.6 What this chapter argues is that the act and the charge of ‘falsifying the auspices’ were effective and dangerous in Rome because they evoked and involved genuine Roman anxieties about the gods’ attitude towards the Roman state. In what follows, we will see that these anxieties were felt both by the people and by their politicians and that they played a more serious role in political oratory than has generally been recognized. If we are fully to understand how Republican politics worked, therefore, we must recognize this Roman fear of the gods as a significant factor in public discourse and behaviour. I concentrate here on one case study: the clash between the tribune C. Ateius Capito and the ‘triumvir’ M. Licinius Crassus in the 50s bc.7 The conflict began in 55 bc, when Capito as tribune made an announcement of dreadfully unfavourable auspices (dirae) to Crassus when the latter was leaving Rome to begin his Parthian campaign. However, Crassus ignored Capito’s signs, and in 53 bc he and his legions were disastrously defeated by the Parthians at Carrhae. We might have expected Romans to interpret this defeat as a straightforward illustration of why the auspices should be obeyed and as a vindication of Capito’s action. In fact, events took quite a different turn. Just a few years later, in 50 bc, Ap. Claudius Pulcher as censor formally reprimanded Capito for his role in this incident. According to Cicero, who provides the only surviving account of the censure, Appius gave two reasons for his punishment of the former tribune. Firstly, Capito was to be condemned for ‘falsifying the auspices’ that he reported to Crassus (ementitus auspicia). Secondly, and seemingly paradoxically, Capito was blameworthy because ‘for this reason the greatest possible disaster had befallen the Roman people’ (ob eam causam populum Romanum calamitatem maximam cepisse).8 This incident, and the apparent paradox in Appius’ reasoning about it, raises several questions. Firstly, what did Capito actually do in 55 bc? Secondly, why did Crassus ignore Capito’s auspices, and was this response typical? And thirdly, how could Appius Claudius maintain that Capito’s auspices were both false and the cause of Crassus’ destruction? 6

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On truth, falsehood and ‘face’ in invective, see Syme 1939: 149; Nisbet 1961: 193; Riggsby 1997: 147–8; in forensic oratory, see Riggsby 1997: 247–9; Craig 2004: 196–7, 212 (contra Gotoff 1993). On Capito, see Shackleton Bailey 1965–70 II: 217–18; Buongiorno 2011: 207–13. Cic. Div. 1.29–30.

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The political motives of Crassus and Capito in all of this are not far to seek: our sources claim that Crassus was desperate for military glory, even at an indecorous age,9 whereas Capito at this time was a known opponent of the ‘triumvirs’.10 Dio reports that he made strenuous attempts earlier in 55 bc to block the passing of the lex Trebonia,11 and both Plutarch and Dio state that Capito and his fellow tribunes attempted to prevent Crassus’ departure from the city not just by announcing unfavourable auspices but also by trying to repeal the lex Trebonia, to block Crassus’ levy and/or to put Crassus under arrest.12 It is thus easy to see why Capito would have wanted some unfavourable auspices to announce to Crassus and likewise why Crassus would have wanted to ignore those auspices. In these respects, the battle between Crassus and Capito would seem to reflect precisely those political and rhetorical uses of religion that we would expect. In what follows, however, as we analyse the actions of Capito, Crassus and Claudius, and especially when we consider how their fellow Romans responded to their behaviour, a more forbidding picture will emerge. What we glimpse is a world in which invoking the gods to score political points was no mere matter of course, but a risky, even dangerous strategy. It was dangerous because the gods were envisioned as ready to exact a horrible vengeance for infractions of the rules set down for political institutions such as the public auspices. Moreover, this danger was only compounded by the tension visible in so many of the political institutions discussed in this volume: the tension between Romans’ ideological commitment to precedent and rules, on the one hand, and their practice of continual institutional adaptation and evolution, on the other. In the case of public auspices, as we will see, the costs of ‘getting the rules wrong’ in response to new circumstances could be immense, not just for the individual politician but also, as Romans saw it, for the state itself. It is only by understanding these perceived risks that we will be able to see why Republican Romans may well have had reason to fear the gods’ involvement in the res publica. 9 10

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Vell. Pat. 2.46; Plut. Crass. 16; App. B Civ. 2.3.18; cf. Beneker 2005: 323–5. Dio Cass. 39.32; Gruen 1995: 187. He continued his resistance in 54 bc, when according to Cicero (Att. 4.17 [SB 91]) he was one of only two senators to speak ‘freely’ (libere) on the electoral corruption scandal of that year involving Caesar’s preferred candidate, C. Memmius (on the ‘triumvirs’’ attitudes towards this affair, see Seager 2002: 126–7). He later took Caesar’s side in the Civil War (as attested by Cic. Fam. 13.29 [SB 282; 46 bc] and Att. 16.16C, 16.16F [SB 407C, 407F; 44 bc]), but this about-face may well have been prompted by his censure at Pulcher’s hands in 50 bc (Shackleton Bailey 1965–70 II: 218; Gruen 1995: 484; contra Buongiorno 2011). Dio Cass. 39.32, 35–6, 39. 12 Plut. Crass. 16; Dio Cass. 39.39.

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55 bc: Capito The first illustration of the risks posed by invoking the gods in this case is provided by the controversy that arose in antiquity around Capito’s behaviour in 55 bc. This controversy may well have been ignited by Appius’ own arguments in 50 bc (as these were especially complex, they will receive their own treatment in the final section of this chapter). Following Appius’ lead, several writers felt compelled to raise the issue of whether Capito meant to cause a disaster like Carrhae and whether he could have foreseen it when he invoked the tremendous power of the gods in his political squabble with Crassus. Thus, Plutarch claims that the Romans ‘found fault with’ Capito for using such powerful means of getting the gods’ attention,13 while Dio writes that the tribunes ‘uttered many dire imprecations against Crassus, as if, indeed, they were not cursing the state through him’.14 (Dio’s implication is that the tribunes should have known that they were indeed endangering the state as well as Crassus through their actions.) Similarly, Velleius Paterculus opines that ‘if the curses which [the tribunes] called down upon him had affected Crassus alone, the loss of the commander would not have been without advantage to the state, had but the army been saved’.15 What such complaints reveal is a lively ancient debate about how far the gods’ anger was likely to extend when it was directed against public figures. Would it fall only on individuals? Or would it fall on whole armies as well? Was there any way to tell when it would go one way or the other? We will explore some possible answers to these questions later, but for now, what is interesting about this debate is that it suggests that appealing to the gods in Roman politics was seen as a genuinely risky move. It could not have been something that one did lightly, in casual confidence that the gods were simply ‘embedded’ in public life and willing to have their names bandied about as rhetorical flourishes or window dressing. Because the man who got it wrong, as our writers felt that Capito had got it wrong when he invoked the gods against Crassus, would be unleashing powers that he could not control, powers whose actions might turn out far otherwise than he had hoped. It will not have escaped the observant reader that Plutarch, Dio and Velleius refer to ‘curses’ rather than auspices. Several ancient writers appear 13

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Plut. Crass. 16: ‘The Romans say that these mysterious and ancient curses have such power that no one involved in them ever escapes, and things also go badly for the one who uses them, and for this reason they are not employed at random nor by many people. And accordingly at this time they found fault with Ateius because it was for the city’s sake that he was angered at Crassus, and yet it was against the city that he had discharged curses and such excessive fear of the divine.’ Dio Cass. 39.39. 15 Vell. Pat. 2.46.

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to have confused Capito’s auspices with curses (more on this later), and this should, of course, give us pause as we evaluate how representative their views are. Further complicating the issue is the fact that although modern scholars have sometimes seen Appius’ arguments as agreeing with traditional Roman augural doctrine, they have tended to view Capito’s own actions as violating augural law and custom. To understand the ancient response to Capito fully and, in particular, to determine how much it can tell us about the way religion and politics typically interacted in Rome, it is therefore necessary to assess the legitimacy of Capito’s behaviour in 55 bc. A brief overview of the relevant augural requirements will help to frame our discussion. Augural law and custom required that Jupiter be given the opportunity to express through auspices his consent, or lack thereof, to many of the most important actions in Roman public life, from sessions of the Senate to assemblies of the people, electoral results to legislation and, in the field, from crossing a river to deciding to engage the enemy.16 The magistrate about to depart from Rome on campaign was similarly expected to take the auspices: it was only once he had taken these ‘auspices of departure’ (a modern coinage) that he could proceed to the Capitol to complete the various other ceremonies (such as offering the so-called uota nuncupata) that were necessary to render his departure ritually correct (as signified by his donning of the paludamentum, the military cloak).17 Republican Romans were raised on stories of what could happen when the auspices were not properly taken on this occasion: the classic exemplum was C. Flaminius (cos. 217 bc), whose catastrophic defeat at Lake Trasimene was explicitly attributed to his failure to take these auspices and to fulfil the other ceremonies of departure.18 We also read of several commanders who were called back to Rome even after departing the city in order to correct flaws in their auspices by ‘retaking’ them (auspiciorum repetendorum causa),19 and although we do not know exactly which auspices these were, they may well have been the ‘auspices of departure’.20 If so, these incidents confirm the seriousness with which Romans regarded problems in the ‘auspices of departure’. The assumption appears to have 16 17

18 20

E.g. Cic. Leg. 2.31; Div. 1.3, 28. The procedure is summarized in Livy, 21.63, where Flaminius is criticized because he had not (a) taken the auspices, (b) proceeded to the Capitol to make vows and (c) departed for his province robed in the military cloak and accompanied by lictors (ne auspicato profectus in Capitolium ad uota nuncupanda paludatus inde cum lictoribus in prouinciam iret). On the ‘auspices of departure’, see Mommsen 1887–8 I: 99–101; Rüpke 1990: 45–6. On the other ceremonies in general, see Mommsen 1887–8 I: 63–4; on the vows, see Orlin 1997: 38–41, 46–8. Livy, 21.63 and 22.1. 19 Livy, 8.30.1–2, 10.3.6, 23.19.3, 36.10. For a concise overview, see Konrad 2008: 350.

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been that if these auspices were in any way out of order, disaster would ensue not just for the relevant magistrate himself but also for his army.21 Thus, in order to leave Rome in 55 bc (at least with the full blessing of Roman religious authority), Crassus would have had to take these ‘auspices of departure’. Given that he did try to leave the city and that Cicero in a contemporary letter (Att. 4.13.2 [SB 87]) describes him as departing paludatus, it is likely that the results of this initial auspication were favourable.22 However, augural law dictated that it was not just the magistrate himself who needed to obtain favourable results from Jupiter, for even if the auspices the magistrate himself had taken were favourable, they could still be cancelled out by unfavourable auspices received and announced by others.23 The dutiful magistrate was expected to heed such announcements (if made in due form) and postpone his action until at least the next day,24 and despite certain examples of disregard for the rules during the convulsions of the Late Republic, this principle still held in 55 bc.25 The technical term for such augurally obstructive announcements was obnuntiatio,26 and it is this term that Cicero applies several times to Capito’s report to Crassus.27 Given that Capito was said to have made this obnuntiatio when Crassus was trying to leave the city, it is likely that he presented his 21

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As evinced also by Livy’s need to explain the fact that in 325 bc a flaw in these auspices had not resulted in military defeat (as his readers must have expected) but in animosity between the commanders: Livy, 8.30.1, incertis itum auspiciis est; cuius rei uitium non in belli euentum, quod prospere gestum est, sed in rabiem atque iras imperatorum uertit (‘again there were uncertain auspices; the ritual flaw did not manifest itself in the outcome of the war, which was fought successfully, but in the madness and anger of the generals’). As assumed by Konrad 2004: 184; Wardle 2006: 182–3 (though his statement that ‘at no stage during these [ceremonies of departure] was any adverse indication received by Crassus himself or his augural assistant’ is overconfident). A particularly clear example may be found in Livy, 22.42 (an exchange between L. Aemilius Paullus and C. Terentius Varro shortly before Cannae in 216 bc). Varro wanted to attack and gave the order accordingly, only to be stopped by the auspice received by his colleague Paullus. It is evident here that even though Varro was the magistrate holding the fasces on the day in question, and even though his own auspication had presumably yielded a favourable result, he was still expected to postpone his action in response to Paullus’ announcement. On the temporal application of auspices (usually to a single day), see Catalano 1960: 42–5; Linderski 1986: 2164, n. 53, 2187, n. 151. The once-standard notion that divination in the Late Republic was routinely manipulated must be laid to rest; see especially Beard, North and Price 1998; Scheid 2005; Santangelo 2013. The obstructive character of obnuntiatio is illustrated by the definition in Don. Ter. Adelph. 4.2.8: qui malam rem nuntiat, obnuntiat, qui bonam, adnuntiat: nam proprie obnuntiare dicuntur augures, qui aliquid mali ominis scaeuumque uiderint (‘He who announces a bad thing makes obnuntiatio; he who announces a good thing makes adnuntiatio; for augurs who see something unfavourable and of bad omen are said, technically, to make obnuntiatio’). Cic. Div. 1.29–30.

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signs as pertaining to (and cancelling out) Crassus’ ‘auspices of departure’, though we do not know this for certain. The rules governing who had the right to make an obnuntiatio against a magistrate embarking on a specific action, and how seriously such an announcement would be taken, varied according to the nature of the proposed action as well as the nature of the auspice.28 Unfortunately, no explicit statement survives regarding who could make obnuntiationes (and of what kind) against magistrates taking the ‘auspices of departure’. However, magistrates seem to have had the right to make obnuntiationes in most instances, and tribunes are known to have made obnuntiationes (regarding the action of holding assemblies) against both plebeian and curule magistrates,29 so it seems reasonable to suppose that Capito as tribune had the right to make an obnuntiatio to a consul like Crassus in the case of ‘auspices of departure’ as well. Finally, a word is necessary on the kind of auspices announced by Capito. According to Cicero (Div. 1.29–30), they were dirae. The word dirus connoted divine wrath, as suggested by the etymologies given in Festus [= Paulus] p. 61.1 L (‘dirus means “born of divine anger”’; dirus, dei ira natus) and Servius (Aen. 2.519: ‘dira is the anger of the gods’; dira enim est deorum ira). In Latin literature, the word is used to describe a variety of unfavourable or dangerous religious phenomena, including bad dreams,30 curses (to which we will return),31 nefarious rituals32 and, as a substantive, the Furies.33 However, dirae also had a more specialized meaning within the augural discipline. Here they seem to have constituted a category of auspicial signs34 that were interpreted as an especially forceful divine indication that the action to which they pertained should not proceed.35 28

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The act of perceiving and announcing prohibitive spontaneous signs while the assembly was being held, for example, seems to have been open to all citizens, whereas the right to deliberately solicit auspices with regard to public affairs may have been restricted to magistrates (see e.g. Mommsen 1887–8 I: 110–14; Valeton 1890: 455–6; Catalano 1960: 41, 226, n. 52; Magdelain 1964 = 1990; Linderski 1971: 315, 317–18 = 1995: 450, 452–3; Linderski 1983: 457 = 1995: 539). For examples of tribunes making obnuntiatio to consuls, see note 51. Cic. Att. 4.9 (SB 85) reveals that tribunes were also capable of using auspices to prevent the census, presumably by making obnuntiatio against censors. See e.g. Botsford 1909: 114–15; McDonald 1929: 171–3; Vaahtera 2001: 160–4; Weinrib 1970: 401; cf. Valeton 1891: 90–1; Linderski 1971: 319–21 = 1995: 454–6. E.g. V. Fl. 3.59. 31 E.g. Livy, 28.22, 40.56; Suet. Claud. 12. 32 E.g. Tac. Ann. 16.8. E.g. Verg. Aen. 12.845. On dirae in poetry, see Hübner 1970. Fest. [= Paul.] p. 317.6L: quinque genera signorum obseruant augures: ex caelo, ex auibus, ex tripudis, ex quadrupedibus, ex diris (‘The augurs observe five kinds of signs: [auspices] from the sky, from birds, from the tripudium [a sign given by sacred chickens], from four-footed animals, and from those things that are dreadfully unfavourable’). Cic. Leg. 2.21: quae augur iniusta, nefasta, uitiosa, dira defixerit, irrita infectaque sunto (‘Whatever an augur has declared to be unjust, contrary to religion, ritually flawed or dreadfully unfavourable, let those things be void’). On the augural meaning of these terms (sometimes neglected in modern translations, e.g. Zetzel 1999), see the foundational study of Linderski 1986.

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Unfortunately, our surviving sources do not specify exactly what auspicial dirae were, nor how they were produced and interpreted.36 For the purposes of our discussion, one point is especially important. Augury appears to have assigned all types of auspices to one of two overarching classes: that of signs spontaneously offered by Jupiter (which were called ‘oblative’ auspices), or that of signs deliberately solicited and obtained from Jupiter through rituals of auspication (these were called ‘impetrative’ auspices).37 How a particular auspice was classified thus depended not necessarily on what type of auspice it was (i.e. what phenomenon the Romans had observed) but on whether it occurred in conjunction with specific rituals.38 Modern scholars have long seen the distinction between oblative and impetrative as vital in determining how seriously a particular auspice was to be taken and as governing whether the magistrate to whom an auspice was reported was actually obliged to heed it.39 This distinction will therefore be important when we come to consider why Crassus ignored Capito’s dirae and whether he was within his rights to do so. For now, the crucial point to observe is that although modern scholars frequently assume that dirae were oblative,40 we actually do not know whether they were oblative or impetrative either in general or in the specific case of Capito’s obnuntiatio in 55 bc. At Div. 1.30, Cicero describes Capito’s announcement this way: ‘he warned Crassus, a sign having been put forward in opposition’ (or ‘a sign having appeared’ [signo obiecto monuit Crassum]). Modern discussions tend to opt for the latter translation, taking it as evidence that Capito’s dirae appeared spontaneously and were therefore oblative. However, the former translation (‘the sign having been put forward in opposition’) is just as likely and would not preclude impetrative 36

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Were they the same kinds of signs, interpreted from lightning, thunder, birds and other animals, which practitioners of augury usually watched for, but which might be called dirae when they seemed especially threatening? Or were dirae a unique type of sign that would have been instantly recognizable to the expert? On the evidence we have, it is impossible to say. Given the important role of bird signs in augury, descriptions of birds as dirae in Tac. Ann. 12.43, Suet. Claud. 22, and Plin. HN 18.1.4 may suggest that birds could produce auspicial dirae. Certainty evades us, however, for in Tacitus and Suetonius the birds at issue are treated as a prodigy (that is, under a different branch of the state divinatory system), while Pliny may simply be using the word dirus as an adjective. On the distinction between oblative and impetrative auspices in general, see Linderski 1986: 2195–7. For example, flashes of lightning were considered a type of auspice that could occur both spontaneously (as oblative auspices e.g. during an assembly) and in response to human solicitation (as impetrative auspices e.g. during the so-called ‘auspication upon entry into office’ [Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 2.6]). See below. So Catalano 1960: 137, n. 68; Schäublin 1986: 174, n. 33; Linderski 1986: 2200, 2202, n. 199; Rosenstein 1990: 71, n. 62; Linderski 1993: 63 = 1995: 618; Badian 1996: 201; Konrad 2004: 181; Wardle 2006: 182–3; Santangelo 2013: 277.

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auspices.41 Given how little we know about auspicial dirae, the evidence is simply insufficient to establish whether they were oblative or impetrative. What I have suggested thus far is that (setting aside for a moment the question of whether Capito’s specific dirae were ‘true’ or ‘false’) it was theoretically in accordance with religious law and custom for a tribune like Capito to make an obnuntiatio dirarum against a consul like Crassus. However, as noted earlier, this is not how scholars have typically interpreted Capito’s actions in 55 bc. Many have instead supposed that he somehow violated augural law. The most complicated theory is that of Valeton, who claimed that tribunes had only the right to announce oblative auspices, not the right to take impetrative auspices, but that what Capito announced in 55 bc were indeed impetrative auspices and that Capito thereby broke the rules (with supposed consequences to which we will return).42 Linderski believes that Capito’s auspices were oblative, but that tribunes had no right to make a formal obnuntiatio of oblative signs, and thus that Capito’s announcement was ‘technically not binding on Crassus’.43 Finally, Wardle asserts that the auspices of one magistrate could only be cancelled out by the auspices of a colleague in the same magistracy and thus that Capito’s auspices could not have legitimately applied to Crassus.44 Whether we accept these arguments will obviously affect not just how we view Capito’s action but also how we choose to evaluate the propriety of Crassus’ reaction to it, and we will return to this issue in the next section of this chapter. In addition, many scholars have also accepted at face value the ancient tradition that Capito invoked not just auspices but curses and magic as well.45 Several sources testify to this tradition. Although our earliest sources, Cicero (Div. 1.29–30) and Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Ant. Rom. 2.6.4), mention only unfavourable signs, in several later sources (Luc. 3.125–7; Plut. Crass. 16; Flor. 1.46; Min. Fel. Oct. 7) curses have displaced auspices altogether,46 while Velleius Paterculus (2.46), Appian 41 42 43

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See OLD s.v. obiecto. Valeton 1890: 440–3, 446–7, 451–2; accepted by Rosenstein 1990: 71, n. 62. Linderski 1986: 2202, n. 199. I must confess that I do not see how Linderski’s assertion here that ‘the tribunes of the plebs had no right to the nuntiatio oblatiuorum’ can be reconciled with his statement at 2195–6 that ‘[a]ny person, even a priuatus, could announce’ an oblative sign, though (in his view) only announcements by augurs were considered binding. Wardle 2006: 182, 185. So e.g. Shackleton Bailey 1965 II: 198; Gruen 1995: 187; Griffiths 1991: 98; Johnston 2004: 510; Konrad 2004: 181, n. 30 (who has overlooked the fact that Appian mentions unfavourable signs as well as curses); Wardle 2006: 183; Buongiorno 2011: 208, n. 44; Santangelo 2013: 235, n. 2. Lucan writes of dirae that function as vows (uouerunt); Plutarch mentions curses (ἀρὰς . . . δεινὰς μὲν αὐτὰς καὶ φρικώδεις) invoking strange and terrifying gods; Florus again has curses that function

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(B Civ. 2.3.18) and Cassius Dio (39.39) seem to have merged the two traditions and imagined two discrete events, with the tribunes trying unfavourable signs first and then, when Crassus is undeterred, resorting to curses.47 However, for Capito to have used magic publicly on this occasion would have been a signally transgressive act. Though many Romans used magic, and though the boundary between magic and religion lay often in the eye of the beholder,48 in Roman discourse magic was presented as impious and anti-social, with acts of harmful magic prohibited by Roman law as early as the Twelve Tables.49 If Capito did use curses against Crassus in 55 bc, he would presumably have been thought to incur more responsibility for Crassus’ disaster, on the grounds that he really ought to have known that when one invoked baleful magic against someone’s campaign, that campaign would go badly wrong. This would again make it harder for us to tell whether Romans generally considered the gods to be as unpredictable, and their involvement in public life to be as dangerous, as we suggested at the start of this chapter. My own view, however, is that neither of these objections to the significance of Capito’s actions is compelling. To take the issue of augural law first, three key points may be made. Firstly, there is no good reason to assume that tribunes were forbidden to take impetrative auspices of some description,50 nor that they lacked the right to announce oblative auspices. Secondly, as noted earlier, we have no way of knowing whether dirae were oblative or impetrative, so any argument that depends on their being one or the other is tenuous. Finally, we have numerous cases from the Late Republic which demonstrate beyond all doubt that other magistrates, including consuls, were obligated to respect the obnuntiationes of tribunes.51 There is thus no reason to doubt that Capito had every right

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as vows (hostilibus diris deuouerat); and Minucius Felix appears to have understood dirae as curses in themselves (imprecationes dirarum; but cf. Weggen 2011: 29). On the ambiguities of the vocabulary used in these passages and those in note 47, see Weggen 2011: 23–9, 32–3, n. 93. Velleius thus has ‘dreadful omens’ (dira omina), then execrationes; in Appian likewise we have unfavourable omens, then public imprecations (πολλά τε ἄλλα ἀπαίσια ἐγίγνετο . . . οἱ δήμαρχοι . . . δημοσίας ἀρὰς ἐπηρῶντο); and in Cassius Dio, omens and portents, then terrible curses (διοσημίας τινὰς καὶ τέρατα διεθρόουν, τοῦτο δὲ ἐξορμωμένῳ οἱ πολλὰ καὶ δεινὰ ἐπηράσαντο). On defining ancient magic, see especially Versnel 1991; Fowler 1995 = 2000; Gordon 1999; Bremmer 1999. On Roman magical practices, see Graf 1997; Dickie 2001; Mirecki and Meyer 2002; Wiseman 2008a. On the position of magic in Roman law, see Bradley 1997; Kippenberg 1997; Rives 2003. As rightly noted by Botsford 1909: 104, 114–15 and Badian 1996: 200–2. For example, the tribunes P. Sestius (Cic. Sest. 79, 83) and T. Annius Milo (Cic. Att. 4.3.4 [SB 75]) made obnuntiationes to the consuls in 57 bc; Milo’s were especially effective, delaying the aedilician elections from November 57 to January 56 bc and embarrassing the consul Metellus Nepos, as

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to announce unfavourable auspices to Crassus in 55 bc and that (as Cicero’s use of the technical term obnuntiatio indeed suggests) his action could be seen as lying within the parameters of Roman state religion and augural law.52 There remains, of course, the question of whether Capito’s dirae were actually ‘false’ in some other sense: this will be addressed in the final section of this chapter. As for the claim that Capito called down curses on Crassus, Mommsen and Simpson argued long ago, and Weggen showed again in 2011, that such flamboyant and illicit behaviour is hardly likely to be historical,53 and I believe that they must be right. Consider, for example, the vivid picture in Plutarch: here Capito runs ahead to the city gate, sets up a brazier and recites ‘curses which were dreadful and terrifying in themselves, and were reinforced by strange and dreadful gods whom he summoned and called by name’ while burning incense and making libations. Tantalizing though this image is, it cannot be accurate. As noted earlier, Romans viewed magic with deep suspicion, particularly when it was directed towards harming another. We know of no other instance during the Republic when one magistrate publicly used magic rites to curse another;54 even the most famous case of the Imperial period, Piso’s supposed cursing of Germanicus, was assumed to have been carried out in secret.55 It would have been one thing, therefore, for Capito to announce that Jupiter was opposed to Crassus’ departure from the city but quite another for him to have adopted, in the full glare of an attendant crowd, the posture of a magus performing rites designed to injure. Such tactics could not have cast legal doubts upon the validity of Crassus’ departure, as all of Capito’s efforts up to this point were evidently intended to do; that he would have resorted to such tactics is therefore highly unlikely. More conclusive than the argument from probability is the fact that our earliest sources for the exchange between Capito and Crassus establish quite clearly that Capito’s signs were auspices, not vows or curses. This is evident, firstly, in Appius Claudius Pulcher’s own action in 50 bc, where his allegation was that Capito had ‘falsified the auspices’ (ementitus auspicia), and is confirmed by Cicero and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, both of

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vividly described by Cicero. The tribune Q. Mucius Scaevola similarly prevented consular elections in 54 bc by making effective obnuntiationes to the presiding consul: Cic. Att. 4.17.4 (SB 91). Pace Weggen 2011: 40–1. Mommsen 1887–8 I: 107, n. 2; Simpson 1938; Weggen 2011: 21–45. The closest parallels Simpson could find (1938: 535–6) were the public consecrations Late Republican magistrates made of their opponents’ property, but, as Weggen rightly observes, these were a recognized part of public religion and should not be confused with curses. Tac. Ann. 2.69.3.

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whom adduce Capito’s signs in discussions of the role of prohibiting signs in augury.56 Dionysius’ testimony (which curiously enough is hardly ever cited in modern discussions of this incident) is particularly valuable, for it gives the lie to the standard modern claim that it is only Cicero who leaves out the curses, supposedly for reasons of his own.57 Once we add Dionysius to the equation, however, it becomes clear that this is not a case of Cicero against the world but of our earliest sources against later, often less knowledgeable ones.58 The most likely explanation for this pattern is therefore that of Hübner, who suggests that over time the act of announcing terrible dirae that affected someone probably came to be confused with the act of cursing someone so as to cause the dirae to affect him.59 This confusion was no doubt encouraged by the wide semantic range of the word dirus and may well have been deepened by Appius Claudius’ own argument in 50 bc that Capito’s auspices had somehow ‘caused’ Crassus’ disaster. What we have seen, therefore, is that Capito’s actions in 55 bc were probably in accordance with augural rules insofar as he used auspices not curses and insofar as he had the legal right to make an obnuntiatio of dirae against a consul. If so, the ancient debate about Capito’s culpability in Crassus’ disaster may be said to stand a good chance of reflecting Roman anxieties about the gods not just on the borderland between magic and religion but also within traditional or normative public religion. What, then, can we learn from Capito’s role in these events? Capito’s behaviour reminds us, firstly, that Roman politicians went to significant lengths to involve the gods in politics, whether to get them on side or to activate their hostility towards rival politicians. So far, so familiar. What is noteworthy is that these efforts were not just a matter, as the current consensus has it, of invoking religion so as to enhance one’s own authority or in order to appeal to a system perceived as being ‘above’ factionalism and personal rivalries. What our understanding of the ancient response to Capito should add to 56

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Cic. Div. 1.29; Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 2.6.4 (who, in keeping with the augural definition of dirae, describes Capito’s signs as ‘forbidding signs’ [τοῖς ἀποτρέπουσι τὴν ἔξοδον οἰωνοῖς]). Various motives for Cicero’s supposed obfuscation have been proposed: Pease 1920: 295–6 suggested that Cicero omits the curses out of friendship for Capito because this use of magic reflected badly on him, while Bayet 1960 = 1971: 36 argued that because this passage of the De divinatione was focused on augury, Cicero omitted the curses as irrelevant. Rightly noted by Weggen 2011: 43–4. Note also Seneca (Q Nat. 5.18.10), who writes that Crassus was not ‘terrified by the dirae of the tribune calling him to turn back’ (non horrebit reuocantis diras tribuni) and experienced ‘the wrath of gods and men’ (hominum et deorum iras; perhaps an allusion to the associations between dirae and divine anger). There is nothing here that demonstrates conclusively what Seneca believed these dirae to be, although the lack of a reference to vows or imprecationes may suggest that he had auspices, not curses, in mind. Hübner 1970: 6, 8–11.

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this functionalist picture is the recognition that when Roman politicians invoked religion, they believed that they were appealing to potentially dangerous and certainly independent agents, the gods. They were asking the gods not just to strengthen or to undermine a given politician or public decision but to take their own, potentially unpredictable action in the world.

55 bc: Crassus Let us turn to the question of why Crassus ignored Capito’s signs and what this can tell us about Roman attitudes towards the gods. If Capito used magic against Crassus, then the latter’s refusal to defer his departure from Rome would become relatively understandable and probably justifiable in Roman eyes. As we have already seen, however, it is more likely that Capito invoked auspices against Crassus, as he was entitled to do. Explanations for Crassus’ behaviour must therefore be sought within an augural context. The most common solution to date has been to suppose that Capito’s dirae were oblative, or at least that Crassus believed they were, but that consuls were not obliged to respect oblative signs reported to them by others (with the possible exception of augurs or fellow consuls) and therefore that Crassus simply exercised this prerogative in rejecting Capito’s announcement.60 In light of our earlier discussion, however, it should be clear that this explanation is not entirely satisfactory, for even if it is true that magistrates had greater freedom of action with respect to oblative auspices, we actually do not know whether Capito’s dirae were oblative. They could just as easily have been impetrative, in which case Crassus would still have been expected to heed them. Even if Capito’s dirae were oblative, however, we can now also recognize the frailty of the modern claim that magistrates were not bound by oblative auspices unless these were announced by a colleague or an augur. We have already seen that Roman magistrates had always to reckon with the possibility that another magistrate would announce auspices forbidding them from acting and that such announcements were considered binding even when the two men held different magistracies, as in the case of the numerous demonstrably effective obnuntiationes made by tribunes to consuls with respect to the holding of assemblies. What is worth noting now is that in several of these cases we do not know whether the auspices at issue were impetrative or 60

So (with variations) Valeton 1890: 440–3, 446–7, 451–2; Linderski 1986: 2202, n. 199; Rosenstein 1990: 71, n. 62; Wardle 2006: 182, 185; Santangelo 2013: 277, n. 21.

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oblative, and it is perfectly possible that they were oblative but still considered binding. These points do not, of course, prove that previous modern explanations of Crassus’ reasoning are incorrect, but they do suggest that we should entertain the possibility that in reality it was Crassus, not Capito, who disregarded the conventions of augury in 55 bc. For if Capito’s obnuntiatio dirarum was legal, as we have argued, then Crassus’ decision to defy it may well have violated the traditional expectation that the magistrate against whom an obnuntiatio was made would allow himself to be guided by it. In support of this interpretation, we may cite the ancient tradition surrounding Crassus’ behaviour in this affair. Despite the fact that some authors held Capito at least partly responsible for the disaster at Carrhae, there was an even stronger ancient tradition of blaming Crassus himself precisely because he had ignored Capito’s signs. In Div. 1.28–9, for example, Cicero’s character ‘Quintus’ claims that the fault lay wholly with Crassus for rejecting Capito’s warning, citing Crassus’ case as an example of how, by failing to consult the gods, ‘we run into those things which are dreadfully unfavourable and ritually-flawed’ (dirae . . . et . . . uitiosa). For Dionysius, similarly, Crassus’ behaviour was the ‘most remarkable and the greatest instance’ of ‘the contempt of the divine power that prevails among some people in these days’.61 In Florus’ opinion, likewise, Crassus had so ‘defied both gods and men’ that Rome had no right to ‘complain of fortune’.62 The shocking scale of Crassus’ defeat no doubt drew criticisms that were not entirely fair, but even so, these ancient complaints about his failure to respect Capito’s signs would seem to make little sense if Crassus had acted fully within his rights and in accordance with augural law and custom. How else, then, might we reconstruct Crassus’ role in the events of 55 bc? Two possibilities suggest themselves (and Crassus may well have employed them both). Firstly, Crassus may have claimed that he was not obliged to respect Capito’s signs, not because they were oblative or because Capito was a tribune, but simply because they were ‘false’ in the literal sense, i.e. that Capito had not actually received any dirae and had simply made some up.63 However, this strategy was unlikely to have got Crassus off the hook with respect to augural law. Most scholars suppose that even announcements of auspices that were known to be fake were still considered binding on the gods and on the magistrates to whom they were made, 61 63

62 Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 2.6.4. Flor. 1.46. As acutely observed by Konrad 2004: 182, 184.

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and if so, then Crassus would still have been expected to submit to Capito’s intervention. As I will argue later, this modern supposition that the issue of veracity was irrelevant in augury actually has little to commend it. However, it does seem likely that, in the absence of proof of falsification,64 magistrates were encouraged to err on the side of caution and to respect the obnuntiationes they received even when they had private doubts about them.65 Secondly, Crassus may simply have decided to ignore Capito’s signs even though he had no grounds on which to do so according to traditional augural law and custom.66 Here again, Dionysius of Halicarnassus provides particularly intriguing evidence. Ant. Rom. 2.6.4 claims that in 55 bc Crassus did not simply ignore Capito’s signs; rather, he ‘declared that he took great delight’ in them. This looks like another example of the charismatic reinterpretation of signs that became more and more prominent in the Late Republic as individualistic military leaders overturned traditional religious interpretations to produce their own readings of the signs as being in their favour.67 But, like the claim that Capito’s auspices were false, it seems unlikely to have rescued Crassus from his obligations under traditional augural law and custom. Thus, we might choose to see Crassus, on the one hand, as a representative of a new way of interpreting auspices, a proponent of a Late Republican trend towards trying to force divination to say what one wanted to hear. On the other hand, our sources make it clear that Crassus did not really get away with this attempt at pushing the boundaries, 64

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Konrad 2004: 182, 184 suggests that Crassus did have proof of falsification in this case, on the supposition that dirae were oblative and therefore could only be said to pertain to an action if they occurred simultaneously with it (the principle here would be the so-called uinculum temporis). Since Crassus must have had witnesses to his ‘auspication of departure’, Konrad argues, and since they apparently mounted no objection to his leaving the city, he could have objected that no such oblative signs had actually occurred. However, this reconstruction is tenuous: dirae may not have been oblative, or Capito may have accused Crassus and his supporters of ignoring an oblative sign that did occur during his ‘auspication of departure’, and the uinculum temporis is a modern coinage of Valeton’s (followed by Linderski); it may not have governed all oblative auspices in any case. This, I suggest, is what Cicero means when he says that the Roman people were ‘bound’ by Mark Antony’s announcement of ‘false’ auspices in 44 bc; see below. Cf. Konrad 2004: 184, who appears to want to have his cake and eat it too when he proposes that augural law gave Crassus the option of formally rejecting Capito’s auspice but that Crassus ‘simply shrugged [it] off’ instead, thereby opening himself up to the virulent criticism we find in the ancient tradition. This is hard to believe: if augural law had offered Crassus an easy and perfectly legitimate way out of his dilemma, he would have taken it. We might compare Caesar’s notorious disregard for unfavourable sacrifices – even, as legend had it, on the day of his death, when he informed his haruspex that ‘the signs will be favourable when I wish it’ (Suet. Iul. 77), or Octavian’s alleged declaration, during the Sicilian War against Sextus Pompeius, that he would prevail etiam inuito Neptuno (‘even in spite of Neptune’: Suet. Aug. 16).

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because he was heavily criticized for ignoring Capito’s signs and thereby provoking the wrath of the gods. For all Crassus’ potential attempts at reinterpretation, therefore, the gods’ involvement in politics in this case seems to have been considered dangerous not just for Capito, as we saw earlier, but also for Crassus and, through him, for Rome’s armies and people. This might seem like a fairly obvious point for ancient authors to make about Crassus, perhaps as a convenient way of explaining why he met the fate he did. However, there are hints of the same Roman anxiety about divine involvement in politics in other sources, too. In the Pro Sestio, for example, Cicero made a similar point about the relationship between the gods and his enemies Piso and Gabinius. He describes them at Sest. 71 as leaving Rome under ‘evil omens and curses [malis ominibus atque exsecrationibus]’. As in Crassus’ case, these curses are presumably not literal, magical curses à la Plutarch but general ill-wishes or appeals for divine vengeance.68 Cicero then offers an astonishing exclamation: ‘[w]ould that the things which men prayed for at that time [quae tum homines precabantur] had come only upon [Piso and Gabinius] themselves! [In that case] we should not have lost the province of Macedonia with an army, nor cavalry and our best cohorts in Syria.’ The significance of this remark for our understanding of Roman attitudes towards the gods is easy to overlook in our familiarity with Cicero’s rhetorical skill and his blatant desire to besmirch the names of Gabinius and Piso as much as possible. It is tempting to see his comment as one more example of the standard trope of impiety allegations in invective that we highlighted at the start of this chapter; in other words, it would be easy to dismiss Cicero’s words here as mere mudslinging and not to ponder what they can tell us about Roman conceptions of the gods as political agents. As Claudia Tiersch argues in Chapter 2, however, we should not close our eyes to the possibilities that open up before us when we take the ideological content of political oratory seriously. We should ponder the theological implications of claims such as those which Cicero makes against Piso and Gabinius. And when we do ponder this, what seems to emerge is the same worldview that we see in the ancient discussions of the Capito-Crassus affair. What Cicero is claiming in the Pro Sestio is that once the gods had involved themselves in the campaigns of Piso and Gabinius, as they would later involve themselves in the campaign of Crassus, serious 68

So also Weggen 2011: 32–3, n. 93.

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Roman losses were the result.69 In essence, this was a world in which gods who were asked to do dangerous things might very well do those things, even against other Romans, and not just against elite politicians and commanders but also against their men, against common citizens. Whether we see Cicero’s own use of this theme as sincere or not, it must have resonated with fears that were felt by at least some members of his audience.70

50 bc: Claudius Pulcher Let us conclude by considering how Appius Claudius could have justified his censure of Capito in 50 BC. Appius has often been blamed for the rigour of his censorship, supposedly because it drove so many of his victims into Caesar’s arms.71 Modern scholars have also been sharply critical of the augural reasoning he employed in his treatment of Capito. The scholarly literature abounds with blithe assertions that Appius’ attack on Capito reflects ‘extreme, “un-Roman” views on divination’,72 that it met with ‘widespread criticism . . . among the boni, many of whom would not have understood the augural argument on which it was based’73 and even that he was not thinking like an augur when he addressed the matter.74 Much of this criticism depends on the ancient criticism of Appius that Cicero puts into the mouth of ‘Quintus’ in Div. 1.29–30. Yet, as Schäublin rightly observed, Cicero’s remarks here are clearly tendentious and no doubt exaggerated to strengthen his own case. Modern assertions to the effect that Appius was acting in an ‘un-Roman’ or ‘un-augural’ way in 50 bc are therefore tenuous: given the gaps in our surviving evidence for augury, Pulcher ought on any account to have known more about augury than we do. In fact, he not only prided himself on his augural knowledge but was also highly respected for it by contemporaries, including Cicero.75 His attack on Capito is therefore best understood not as a bizarre aberration from augural norms but as one outworking of his commitment to

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We may also compare the same sentiment in Val. Max. 1.6.6 on Flaminius: ‘Would that he had paid the penalty for his rashness only by his own death, and not by a great slaughter of the Roman people!’ Evidently the latter was the more expected outcome. The bibliography on Cicero’s own religious attitudes is vast: for references, overview and a treatment that is excellent in its own right, see Santangelo 2013. For our purposes here, the question of Cicero’s personal beliefs or sincerity is not crucial, for whatever he himself believed, he would only have used these arguments if he thought that they would resonate with his audience. 72 Dio Cass. 40.63–4; Gruen 1995: 484; Muñiz Coello 2003: 227. Wardle 2006: 181. 74 75 Konrad 2004: 182, n. 36. Kany-Turpin 1999: 262. Cic. Brut. 267.

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a rigorous and punctilious censorship.76 His reasoning, therefore, has much to tell us about why Capito’s action caused concern at Rome. In order to understand Appius’ reasoning accurately, we must once again clear away some modern theories about the rules of augury that have obfuscated rather than clarified the issues involved. Valeton proposed that although tribunes did not have the right to take impetrative auspices, Capito in fact took them anyway and that this is what Appius meant when he said that Capito had ‘falsified the auspices’. In this case, Appius’ complaint would be a technical one, on a point of procedure, rather than telling us how Romans felt about actual invention of or dishonesty about auspices. Kany-Turpin supposes that if an auspice was said to be unfavourable and an event then turned out badly, the relationship between sign and event was considered true, even if the auspice itself had been falsely reported.77 Rasmussen, on the other hand, claims that Cicero’s criticism of Appius in De divinatione reflects a ‘crucial principle’ of augury, that, because auspices do not cause things in and of themselves, ‘false auspices therefore do not present any real danger to the Roman people’. So, she concludes, ‘this kind of falsification’ was not very important from a Roman point of view.78 Finally, many scholars, including Bayet, Linderski, Konrad, Wardle and Engels, assume that even false auspices were made valid simply by the act of publicly announcing them and that this is what Appius must have meant by claiming both that Capito had ‘falsified the auspices’ and that he had caused Crassus’ disaster. Thus, Wardle writes that ‘the gods too were bound by Ateius’ report of unpropitious signs . . . In one sense the “reality” of an auspicial sign was never problematic for the Romans’, and Konrad agrees: ‘By making a false report of dirae, Ateius Capito had effectively created those calamitous signs: now Iuppiter had no choice but to follow through with the disaster they warned of’ (unless Crassus had heeded them).79 There are several reasons to doubt each of these theories, but I focus on three points above all. Firstly, it seems very unlikely that Appius would have raised the issue of whether Capito’s signs were true or false if the veracity of auspices really made no difference to Romans. The puzzle of his reasoning therefore cannot be resolved simply by assuming that the issue of truth or falsehood was irrelevant. Secondly, as Schäublin argues against Valeton, the most natural way of taking ementitus auspicia is as meaning 76 78 79

So Caelius Rufus to Cicero, Fam. 8.14 (SB 97). 77 Kany-Turpin 1999, 2003: 72–3. Rasmussen 2003: 168. Konrad 2004: 181–5; Wardle 2006: 180–1; similarly Bayet 1936 = 1971: 48, n. 6; Linderski 1986: 2210–11; Engels 2007: 645, n. 676.

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what it says: not that the wrong procedure had been used but that someone had ‘lied about the auspices’. Thirdly and most importantly, we need not accept the theory that the gods were bound by false announcements. It is difficult to see why the gods would ever have been thought to go along with whatever any liar chose to say about their will; moreover, Schäublin long ago provided an alternative way of understanding Appius’ reasoning, which, despite its failure to gain traction in subsequent scholarship, must be right.80 Schäublin’s suggestion is that falsifying auspices was considered dangerous precisely because it meant ignoring or defying the gods and thereby offending them, with the result that they might wreak their wrath on the Roman state and armies. This theory is confirmed by our final example of the use of gods in oratory: Cicero’s Second Philippic. Here Cicero rails against Mark Antony for the same crime of ‘falsifying the auspices’, in this case during the election of Dolabella as suffect consul in 44 bc. What Cicero says is this: ‘Thus, by Hercules, you lied about the auspices, to your own great disaster, I hope, rather than to the Republic’s; you have bound the Roman people in a religious liability’ (ergo hercle magna, ut spero, tua potius quam rei publicae calamitate ementitus es auspicia; obstrinxisti religione populum Romanum). What Cicero is alluding to here must be the same Roman fear we saw earlier in this chapter, the fear that the gods might get angry and punish the Republic rather than the individual who committed a religious infraction. I close, then, with the suggestion that we should see Pulcher’s criticism of Capito as evidence that the veracity of religious claims in public discourse mattered to Romans. For all the temptations of invective, for all the attractions of using allegations of impiety to damage your opponent, the Roman politician still had to bear in mind not just how his contemporary humans would receive his claims but also how the gods would react to them. He had to reckon with the belief that outright lies not only did not fool the gods but could attract their vengeance, drawing down their wrath not necessarily on the liar himself but on the whole state.

Conclusion Roman reactions to the controversy between Capito, Crassus and Appius Claudius were complex, displaying a wide variety of potential interpretations of the rightness or wrongness of each man’s position. Our sources 80

Weggen 2011: 41, 45 reaches a view similar to Schäublin’s, though seemingly without reference to his work or the debate to which it pertains.

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agree, however, in showing us that Republican politicians’ attempts to invoke the gods in public discourse and to involve them in public affairs were not casual, but risky, even dangerous. The gods were seen as potentially unpredictable, as being eager to punish those who made false claims about them, even as being willing to wreak vengeance, striking far beyond individual culprits and onto the state, the people and the army. If we are fully to understand how politics worked in the Republic, therefore, we must consider not just humans’ machinations against each other but also their potentially perilous, and deadly serious, attempts to involve the gods themselves as agents in Roman life.

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chapter 10

When the Senators Became ‘The Best’ Guido Clemente

The Senate that guided Rome through the conquest of Italy and the building of the Empire was largely the creation of the plebiscitum Ouinium, according to which by the end of the fourth century bc its members were selected by the censors. The choice was made on the basis of the cura morum, an inspection of the behaviour of the would-be senators that was undertaken by the censors themselves.1 The selected men were declared to be the optimi, the best among the citizens, and as such worthy of the Senate. The cura morum had always been the distinctive feature of the working of the censorship: at every census, the citizens were scrutinized in order to be included in the various units (centuriae and tribus) that formed the ciuitas; when the censors were entrusted with the lectio senatus, they drew up the list of senators through a public scrutiny of their mores. Consequently, the Senate became the council of the men whom the censors declared to be the best, since they had met the standards of the cura morum. The notion of optimus, then, defined a specific group: the members of the Senate, who thus constituted an elite self-conscious of their supremacy and whose legitimacy to rule was rooted in their observance of the mores maiorum, the ancestral customs. The question to be addressed in this chapter is: did the mos maiorum when the senators began to be defined as, and to define themselves as, the ‘best’ – a self-definition that was rooted in this supposedly unchanging mos maiorum – remain constant and socially relevant, despite the massive expansion of Rome’s Empire and the admission of noui homines to the Senate? The Romans had a very consistent definition of the mos maiorum: rules of behaviour rooted in the past and accepted by the community as a whole because of their antiquity and long-standing usage.2 The main feature of 1

2

On the plebiscitum, see below; the best treatment is Cornell 2000, whom I follow for the interpretation of its relevance in connection with the cura morum. See e.g. Cic. Rep. 5.1.1; Inv. rhet. 2.162; Serv. Aen. 7.601; Gell. NA 15.11.2; Ulp. 1.4 for the mores based on consensus (‘general approval and usage’). See also the funerary epitaphs of the Scipiones below. For

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these ancestral customs was, of course, their continuity in time. The mores that were considered to be essential to the welfare of the state were no different in the fourth or in the first century bc in any relevant way; in fact, the main worry of people such as Cicero was that they changed for the worse. However, the self-description of the ruling group as the optimi, which we know mostly from late sources glorifying the past, does not tell the whole story. It tells of the need of the nobilitas, the self-styled new aristocracy, to claim the right to rule exclusively, since only the nobiles had the necessary moral equipment, provided they observed the mos maiorum. It accounts for the constant tension between individual achievement, indispensable for membership of the aristocracy, and collective control that ensured stability and a certain equality among the members of the elite.3 The society of the fourth century, however, was very different from that of the first century bc. The ideology of continuity, if it helped to curb or delay undesirable changes from the point of view of the ruling group, could not prevent those same changes from taking place. So we have to deal with a complicated scenario: the unchanging mores were at the core of the ideology of the aristocracy, apparently accepted without any real alternative, and presented to all social groups as exemplary. At the same time, the values of the maiores, the ancients, were the sole point of reference for this political culture to recognize change and deal with it. There was occasional criticism: on various occasions across the centuries, the leges sumptuariae, the laws against luxury and lavish expenditure, raised a debate that mirrors largely the debates of the end of the first century bc. This happened, for example, at the time of the repeal of the Oppian law in 195 bc or when in 97 bc the tribune of the people Duronius wanted to abrogate the Licinian law, being removed from the Senate by the censors as a result.4 We also have hints of criticism voiced, for example, by Plautus or by intellectuals such as Lucilius,5 but the model went virtually unchallenged from outside the elite; we have no instance of a discussion of these topics on the part of the people, who voted for laws in the legislative assemblies, despite

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the significance of the aristocratic funeral and the establishment of aristocratic culture, see Flower 1996; for the problem of the evolution of the value system, see Wallace-Hadrill 2008. Clemente 1990a. Livy, 34.1–7; Val. Max. 2.9.5. See Arena 2011: 467–77 for an interesting interpretation of the debate on luxury. On the sumptuary laws, see Clemente 1981; Baltrusch 1989: 40–131; a general discussion of the attitude of the Romans towards wealth can be found in Gabba 1981 = 1988. Plaut. Trin. 28–38, 642–8, 1028–49; see Persa 53–61 for the satire on ancestry. Gabba 1985 = 1988; Blösel 2000: 27–37. On Lucilius, see Clemente 1985.

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debating them in the informal gatherings, the contiones; inside the ruling group, the opposition never amounted to any real alternative. This raises a question: in a changing society that represents itself as rooted in the mores of the past, how relevant was the control of the customs applied to the senators, on the occasion of the lectio, in different situations and times? Did the curbing of luxury really matter in the first century bc, as it mattered, no doubt, in the fourth? The main point is, in fact, that changes took place, but they were interpreted in relation to the mos or, better, to the prevailing idea of the mos at any given time. From the point of view of the practice of politics, the lectio senatus usually did not depart from the approval of the best men, which meant, in the aristocratic view, themselves; i.e. it played the role of representing the ideal aristocracy, even when there was a deep gap between what the Romans of all social groups experienced in everyday life and the constant claim that one needed to behave according to the mores established by the ancestors. This was not hypocrisy, since the power of the consensus regarding an ideal society shaped the actions of men and influenced the community as a whole.6 Our starting point for addressing this question is the evidence for the earliest connection between the censors and the optimi who constituted the Senate: an entry in a second-century dictionary compiled by Festus, drawing from an antiquarian source of the Augustan age. Between 339–334 and 312 bc a tribune of the plebs otherwise unknown, Ovinius, transferred to the censors the power to perform the lectio senatus: PRAETERITI SENATORES quondam in opprobrio non erant, quod, ut reges sibi legebant, sublegebantque, quos in consilio publico haberent, ita post exactos eos consules quoque et tribuni militum consulari potestate coniunctissimos sibi quosque patriciorum, et deinde plebeiorum legebant; donec Ouinia tribunicia interuenit, qua sanctum est, ut censores ex omni ordine optimum quemque iurati [curiati cod.] in senatum legerent. quo factum est, ut qui praeteriti essent et loco moti, haberentur ignominiosi.7 (Festus p. 290.5–16L) 6

7

For a different emphasis on the mos as a developing concept, from an aristocratic concept to a collective one, see Blösel 2000: 25–85. Trans. Cornell 2000: 73: ‘Passed-over senators in former times were not in disgrace, because just as the kings used to choose for themselves, and to choose as replacements, those whom they would have in public council, so after the kings were expelled the consuls also, and the military tribunes with consular power, used to choose for themselves all their closest friends from the patricians and then from the plebeians; until the tribunician Ovinian law intervened, by which it was laid down that the censors should be bound by oath to enrol in the Senate all the best men from every rank. Thus it came about that those who were passed over and removed from their seats were considered dishonoured.’

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Festus summarized in a few lines an act of which we know virtually nothing else: the law, by transferring the choice of the senators to the censors, submitted senators and would-be senators to a scrutiny of their behaviour. The text of Festus is not unproblematic, however. The expression ‘from every rank’ has been interpreted as meaning either ‘from every rank of the magistrates’ or ‘from every rank of the citizen body as a whole’. In fact, the former magistrates were not enough to fill the vacancies between one selection and the next, which took place every five years as a general rule (not always followed), yet the idea that the censors could, although only in theory, scrutinize all the citizens for membership of the Senate does not sound like a viable procedure. The reading iurati (‘under oath’), a correction of curiati in the manuscript, however, seems to make sense. It is difficult to envisage a crucial role for the curiae, the original units into which the citizens were registered but long since obsolete, in the composition of the Senate, while the oath of the censors is well attested, and it appears in rather suggestive passages of Cicero and others.8 These problems, though serious, do not have an impact on the general meaning of the Ovinian law recorded by Festus: from now on the senatorial elite were determined according to censorial scrutiny, implicitly of their members’ mores (that is to say, their observance of the ancestral customs that set the guidelines for the appropriate behaviour of citizens). Any senator bypassed or removed was struck with dishonour, justified by the annotation (nota) the censors wrote beside his name in the list they read in public. It was the mos maiorum, therefore, that now underpinned the new notion of optimi. By introducing the link between the definition of the best citizens and the membership of the Senate, the law marked an epochal change. To support this reading of optimi, it is necessary to point out some features of the Ovinian law that have often been overlooked. However odd it may seem to contemporary experience (or, for that matter, in comparison e.g. with the practice of the Athenians), the members of the most influential political body were scrutinized on the basis of their behaviour as citizens, according to the mos maiorum. This did not concern, specifically, the senators’ behaviour as magistrates, nor does it mean that the censors 8

On the reading of the passage, I follow Cornell 2000, although I differ from his interpretation of ex omni ordine; recently, Ryan 1998: 150–5 and 2001 argued for a return to the reading of the manuscript, although admitting that the selection through the curiae (or decuriae) was soon abandoned. Humm 2005: 199–203 supports curiatim (which means chosen according to the curiae), with new arguments on their role at the time. The passages in Cic. Clu. 121,126–7 seem to me to be persuasive (see also Zon. 7.9 and Dio Cass. 54.13.2 on the oath taken by Augustus in 18 BC for the lectio senatus). The question, nonetheless, must be left open, since the expression ex omni ordine does not allow for a fully satisfactory explanation.

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only dealt with what we would call private life. In the Roman Republic, the behaviour of the citizens amounted to the collective identity of the community and had to win the approval of the people. The selection of the senators was not part of the religious procedures of the census, which was valid only if the lustrum, the ceremony to purify the citizen body with a sacrifice of three male animals (a bull, a ram and a pig) was performed. It took place before the lustrum and was an independent activity. It was a public ceremony, however, performed in front of the citizens, and both the censors and the citizens had to take an oath. So it is difficult to underestimate the impact, on the community as a whole, of the selection of the best men, who were to exercise their auctoritas (the power to guide the city); they were chosen for their virtues, widely known and approved by the Roman people.9 When the plebiscitum Ouinium was enforced, the censors charged with selecting the optimi must have made reference to the mos maiorum of the time, a code of behaviour that was essentially concerned with the relationships between members of the family, between masters and slaves, with respect for the ancestral rites and with the care for the basic needs of an agricultural society. It is plausible that the new patrician-plebeian elite wanted to establish themselves by fighting old-time procedures such as those initially described by Festus. The introduction of a plebeian censor in 339 bc set the stage for the change. For us, the main problem, however, is to define what made the best senator at the time of the law and how far this was related to social rank. The new ruling group went back now at least three or four generations, to the end of the fifth century and the first decades of the fourth; the many plebeians who had held offices were now members of a group that had contributed to the government of the res publica and claimed full recognition. In the process, despite the differences still persisting with the old patrician aristocracy, they had come to share the set of values that the city had elaborated, which go under the name of mores maiorum.10 Although we know almost nothing about the actual working of that society, we can safely assume that the mores were essential in shaping the behaviour of individuals, and thus of the ciuitas as a whole.11 9

10

11

On the censorship in general, Mommsen 1887–8 II: 331–469 is still the fundamental work; Suolahti 1963 has a prosopographical approach; Pieri 1968 is important. On the censorship and the Senate, see Willems 1878: 153–238, 265–580 (for the list of the lectiones); see also Astin 1988. See Hölkeskamp 1987: 62–114 for the rise of the plebeians; 109–13; 142–7 for the Publilian laws and the Ovinian law. It is impossible to discuss here the theories about the origin and function of the mores in archaic Rome. I refer especially to Volterra 1949 = 1999, who argues for a very early adoption of the mores maiorum, the customs of the ancients, as the mores ciuitatis, the customs of the state; Flower 2011

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Who were the ‘best’ at the end of the fourth century bc, and by what criteria were they identified and selected? We know very little of the workings of the censorship until the Ovinian law and the activity of Appius Claudius in 312 bc. It is highly probable that the census was linked from the beginning with some kind of cura morum.12 There are scattered reports of censors intervening in matters related to the mores in the course of the fifth century bc.13 From sources dating to the third century bc it is possible to form a plausible idea of what the Romans thought at the time. The eulogy of L. Scipio, the consul of 259 bc, stated that honc oino ploirume cosentiont r[omane] duonoro optumo fuisse uiro (‘Most Romans agree that this man was the best of all’).14 The whole group of elogia of the Scipiones shows the relationship between family tradition, emulation and the celebration of personal achievement.15 Scipio Nasica was chosen by the Senate to receive the Magna Mater in 204 bc, since adulescentem nondum quaestorium, iudicauerunt in tota ciuitate uirum bonorum optimum esse (‘a young man, not yet a quaestor, they judged to be the best man of all the good ones in the whole city’).16 The elogium of Caecilius Metellus by his son in 221 bc lists a kind of Decalogue of the res maximae et optimae (‘the greatest and best achievements’) that were sought by the sapientes (‘wise men’) of the time.17 The lectio of 216 bc, although conducted after Cannae, in a dramatic time of war, gives a fairly good idea of who could be defined as optimus, worthy of the Senate.18 The dictator exceptionally entrusted with the lectio, Fabius Buteo, famous for his strictness, being aware that he could not act freely since he had no colleague, first confirmed all the magistrates and the former magistrates, then selected the curules magistrates (consuls, praetors, aediles curules) that had not yet entered the Senate since the previous lectio, then the lower magistrates (quaestors, tribunes of the plebs, plebeian aediles) and finally, to fill the vacancies up to the number of 177 new members, chose those among the citizens who had held no office to date but who had won some distinction in war. Although extraordinary, the procedure followed by the dictator may well have been

12

13

14 15 16

argues for various phases in Republican history and underlines the selective nature of our evidence, which obscures the changes that took place. Tibiletti 1959; Lo Cascio 2001; Humm 2005: 229–439 discusses thoroughly the most relevant theories on the census lists. Suolahti 1963: 47; the most interesting case falls in 403 bc (probably authentic), concerning the punishment of the caelibes (‘unmarried’), who were assigned to the class of the aerarii (people inscribed in a special list and liable to pay a tax): Val. Max. 2.9.1; of course, the motive is topical. CIL I²: 9. CIL I²: 6–15; see Coarelli 1988 for the most accurate survey of the monument and the inscriptions. Livy, 29.14.8; Per. 29. 17 Plin. HN 7.43.139–40. 18 Livy 23.22–3.

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modelled on the customary procedure of the censors; the whole passage clarifies the concern of Fabius not to depart from tradition, following established priorities; he did not apply the cura morum only because he lacked a colleague. Between the last decades of the fourth century and the beginning of the third century bc, the Romans had worked out a notion of the optimus ciuis (the ‘best citizen’) that was the result of the emergence of the new aristocracy but still kept the marks of the traditions formed inside the old close-knit gentes (‘clans’), the ones who could claim an ancestry whose emulation gave their members a place among the elite. Family tradition worked in such a way that even a young man not yet quaestorius (holding the quaestorship, the junior magistracy) could be considered optimus by his fellow citizens and the Senate. At the same time, it was necessary to be able to boast individual achievements and all that defined uirtus (‘virtue, honour’) in a man: search for glory, courage in battle, respect for the established institutions of the res publica, moderation and the ability to pass on this moral and economic patrimony to descendants (which would be the first time for a new men but in line with the behaviour of the members of the old families). There was, of course, a difference between the self-description of the Scipiones and the claims of those who had gained their status for the first time through the holding of magistracies. But both claimed to be worthy of their achievements due to their adherence to the mores maiorum, which were by then the mores ciuitatis. The emphasis Cato placed on the collective achievement of the Roman people, to play down the pride of the old aristocracy, did not make any difference in the individual competition for office and the need to be recognized as a member of the elite.19 The lectio of Appius Claudius, the first after the plebiscite, regardless of a number of excruciating doubts, makes it clear what was meant by the notion of optimi. No reconstruction of his censorship can fully account for the struggle that it generated, if we do not consider his opposition, as an old patrician, to the ‘normalization’ of the Senate, now an expression of the mixed nobility and not an instrument in the hands of the most powerful consuls.20 It is difficult to imagine that even before the plebiscitum the 19 20

Blösel 2000: 53–9, underlining the evolution of the mores. It is impossible here to list the enormous bibliography on Appius and the many theories that have been advanced. Recently, Humm 2005 has discussed the relevant literature and offered the most consistent interpretation of Appius as a reformer who adjusted institutions in response to the expansion of the city-state. See Humm 2005: 185–226 for a discussion of the lectio senatus. The lectio, however, does not fit easily into this general picture, and I offer a different interpretation.

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Senate did not include members of the most important families or that former magistrates were passed over easily. The opposition to the new law came from a resistance to the new procedure, which made it virtually impossible to ignore the new aristocracy, based not on old personal relations but on office-holding and on the consensus of the people, which could be achieved by individuals outside the old patriciate. The lectio of Appius was praua and infamis (‘perverted’ and ‘infamous’), as opposed to a good one, because he had appointed even libertini (the ‘sons of freedmen’) while passing over some who had held dignitates (‘honourable positions’). So the first prerequisite was dignitas, given by office-holding; then status, defined mainly by wealth and family. The new members had wealth and offices, and they could compete with the old aristocrats since they were also optimi.21 In fact, as we shall see, the relationship between office-holding and membership of the Senate became more and more important, as was bound to happen in a hierarchical society. The mores that the censors enforced in the first century bc made Dionysius of Halicarnassus marvel: the censors entered into the bedchamber of the citizens, unlike the Greek magistrates, who considered the private space of the home to be sacred.22 We are on slippery ground because the work of the censors was quoted for its exemplary character and was a popular subject in the works of Valerius Maximus, Pliny the Elder and Aulus Gellius, although we should not exaggerate the impression that this evidence forms but a random selection; the fact that the examples were used and repeated over and over again lends them a more general value, setting precedents that could be called upon when needed. The mores that the censors enforced following the plebiscitum Ouinium at the end of the fourth century bc and the beginning of the third, as already noted, were those that cared for the needs of an agricultural society. The fact that these were still enforced despite the deep changes which Roman society had undergone must not make us forget that they may have been consistent with the functioning of the society of the end of the fourth century bc and the beginning of the third. The fact that the censors enforced these mores even in the first century bc, when they appeared useless and inadequate for coping with the problems of the time, produces a distortion in our perspective. The persistence of the censorial action has more to do with the way the Romans dealt with change than with the actual working of the lectio at the time of its introduction. 21

Livy, 9.29.7, 30.1–2, 9.46.10–11; Diod. Sic. 20.36.3, 5.

22

Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 20.13.2–3.

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In fact, at the end of the fourth century bc, the lectio senatus would contribute to establishing, and strengthening, a code of behaviour for the new patrician-plebeian aristocracy on which to build its identity as a ruling group; by being adopted as a criterion to describe the senators, it became a model for the ciuitas. Since the mos maiorum defined the best possible society and its legitimacy lay in its antiquity, it could not be abandoned or easily changed. This would prove to be a limitation, but it was also its strength. The aristocracy of the first century bc indulged in thinking of itself as the heir to the aristocracy of the fourth. Whether they truly believed this is beside the point. It was important that the members of the elite could still be identified by this ideology, going back to a distant, good past, of which they were the inheritors and the interpreters. The first censorial lectiones give an idea of the working of the plebiscitum; at the time, and during the third century bc, the work of the censors must have had a real impact, consonant with the prevailing needs of a rural society that was expanding beyond its civic boundaries, incorporating new people and witnessing the growth of new social groups outside the Roman elite. In 307 bc, the censors removed a senator who had divorced his wife without taking the advice of his friends.23 Then, in 275 bc, there was the famous expulsion of Cornelius Rufinus, a consular of great prestige, for the possession of ten pounds of silverware, an episode that our tradition loved to quote.24 The Punic Wars placed a different emphasis on the activity of the censors: the main problem became the control of behaviour in war, and the elite were called upon to set the example for courage, sacrifice and search for glory and were severely punished when they did not meet these standards. As Valerius Maximus says, speaking of the censors of 209 bc, the censorship ex foro in castra transcendit, quae nec timeri nec decipi uoluit hostem (went from the Forum to the army camps, as it did not want the enemy to be feared or deceived).25 There were mass punishments in 252 bc and after Cannae.26 The situation changed dramatically with the rapid expansion of Rome’s Empire. The history of the lectiones of the second century shows both the 23

24

25 26

Val. Max. 2.9.2. The problems of the caelibes (‘unmarried’) and of the lack of sons in a marriage were crucial at the time and until the end of the Republic: see Giunti 2004: 85–141. Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 20.13.1; Livy, Per. 14; Val. Max. 2.9.4; Sen. Ep. 98.13; Plin. HN 18.39, 33.142, 153; Gell. NA 17.21.39; Flor. 1.13.22; Tert. Apol. 6; August. Ep. 104.6. Val. Max 2.9.8. Livy, Per. 18; the 400 equites in Val. Max. 2.9.7; Frontin. Str. 4.1.22; Livy, 24.18.1–9; also Livy, 22.53.4, 27.11.12–16.

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inadequacy of the magistracy to cope with the quick changes and their alignment with groups that wanted to stop the devastating consequences of the new imperial society. We witness both successful censorships and failures, as collegiality and the need for unanimous decisions often made the censorship ineffective. The lectiones of Scipio Africanus in 199 bc and Flamininus in 189 bc were very mild: no expulsion of any relevance took place.27 In 184 bc, by contrast, Cato used the magistracy and the lectio senatus to the utmost of its political potential. He delivered speeches to justify his notae (‘adjustments to the list’), and his oratio censoria (‘censorial speech’) became a model for any censor who, in the second or first century bc, wanted to make a statement in favour of the traditional values of Roman society.28 He was not alone; in the first decades of the second century, laws against luxury, laws de ambitu (to curb electoral malpractices and corruption) and others to same effect (e.g. the lex Voconia regulating the inheritance of women) point to a reaction by at least a cluster of the elite, a group worried about the damage that the new wealth and new opportunities were doing to the traditional social fabric. The lectiones after Cato’s censorship show how the cura morum could be taken seriously but also that it was now more an instrument through which the elite defined themselves and their legitimacy to rule than it was an instrument to shape policies. These same aristocrats started writing history books to glorify a past that belonged to them. At the end of the third century, Fabius Pictor, a member of a powerful and ancient clan, started a historical genre, the Annals, and was followed by other aristocrats. Writing about how Rome had become great was the same as glorifying one’s ancestors and values, providing a good reason for the elite’s continuity in power; aristocrats invented, or at least embellished, the archaic and hitherto almost unknown history, which we read now in the monumental Annals of Livy. The same Cato the Elder, a newcomer, wrote about the origins of the Italian towns. Ennius, not an aristocrat himself but a client and an interpreter of the views of the elite, wrote the first epic poem on the history of Rome. All these men wrote with the aim of describing how Rome had conquered the world, elaborating on a distant past when all the mores that had made this possible had been formed.29 27

28

29

The sources in MRR I: 327, 360–1; see the exhaustive discussion in Willems 1878: 293–6; Suolahti 1963: 331–48. On Cato, the best treatment is still Fraccaro 1910, 1911a, 1911b, 1934 (all now = Fraccaro 1956); Astin 1978. A useful introduction on the subject can be found in Cornell 1995: 1–30; also, the essays conveniently collected in Momigliano 1989; Gabba 2000; and Wiseman 2008b.

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In 174 and 169 bc, the expulsions were, respectively, nine and seven, but some were important persons: two Scipiones, including the son of Scipio Africanus, and L. Fulvius, the brother of one of the censors in 174.30 In 142 bc, Scipio Aemilianus quoted Cato; in 131 bc, Metellus Macedonicus, father of four consuls, made a speech against the caelibes that was read by Augustus in the Senate when passing his own laws on marriage. Whenever politicians wanted to make a statement of where they stood, they had the cura morum of the senators as a suitable instrument. It was more ideological than truly effective but still not replaceable as a tool for the self-definition of the group.31 Personal enmities and factional struggles between groups allied to compete for office and power account for many of the decisions taken by the censors in the lectiones. Of course, all this is part of the game of Republican politics; nonetheless, as an instrument to deal with factiones and inimicitiae (‘factions’ and ‘ill will’) the lectio was almost completely useless: no censor, not even Cato, could manipulate the composition of the Senate in order to promote his friends and kick out his enemies. No censor could declare a large number of his fellow senators unfit without destroying in the process the system he was supposed to protect and to which he belonged. In the course of the second century there were contradictory signs: the censors met with opposition or refused to take action. The electorate did not punish the notati. In the same period, it happened fairly frequently that notati (the ‘condemned or disgraced’) were later elected to high office or even to the censorship. It happened in 154 bc, when M. Valerius Messalla, who had been notatus, became censor; it happened again in 147 bc, with the election to the censorship of L. Cornelius Lentulus Lupus, who had been condemned for the crimen repetundarum (the ‘crime of extortion in the provinces’) in 154 bc but had kept a seat in the Senate. Licinius Geta, consul in 116 bc but notatus in 115, became censor in 108.32 Public opinion reacted to censorial excesses: in 30 31

32

Livy 41.27; 43.15. Suolahti 1963: 365–76. Gell. NA 4.20; Val. Max 6.4.2 for a famous sentence of Scipio; Dio Cass. 22–9 F76; Metellus’ speech in Livy, Per. 59; Suet. Aug. 89 (= ORF4 18 F4–7). He was probably the target of the satire of Lucilius, who also attacked Lupus (see below): Clemente 1985. Messalla: Val. Max. 2.9.9: item M. Valerius Messala censoria nota perstrictus censoriam postmodum potestatem impetrauit. quorum ignominia uirtutem acuit: rubore enim eius excitati omnibus uiribus incubuerunt, ut digni ciuibus uiderentur, quibus dari potius quam obici censura deberet (‘also M. Valerius Messala, stricken with the nota of the censor, afterwards obtained the censorship. Their dishonour increased their uirtus: indeed, driven by his blush [shame] they did their best with all their strength to be considered worthy by the citizens, so that the censorship should be given to them, not reproached’). Lupus: Val. Max. 6.9.10; Fest. p. 285.66L. Geta: Cic. Clu. 119; Val. Max. 2.9.9; Wiseman 2009: 33–58.

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108 bc, Fabius Maximus condemned to death his son, who was found guilty of luxuria (‘luxuriance’), but Maximus was forced to go into exile by the popular reaction because he was judged censorium uirum nimis atrocem (‘a man too cruel in the exercise of his censorial power’).33 A turning point came but was marked not by any change in the principles of the mores as applied in the lectio. In fact, we still see these principles at work even in the first century, during the censorship of Appius Claudius (50 bc), who was not exactly a model citizen. In the middle of the dramatic fight for power between Caesar and Pompey, Appius performed what was to be the last Republican lectio, expelling many with the old motives. Among these, he removed the sons of liberti, the historian Sallust for immorality and another individual for falsifying the auspicia; he also enquired about the legal possession of land and works of art, about debts and immoral practices – all items that were out of step with the times and that were completely useless from a practical point of view.34 The change took place through other developments, which have to do mostly with the relationship between the populus (the ‘popular assembly’), the magistracies and the Senate. The decisive cause was the dramatic split in the aristocracy, which started with the Gracchi, and the outbreak of violence and political assassinations. These events gave way to the struggle between optimates and populares, groups that identified themselves on the basis of certain issues that came to the fore of political debate: the senatus consultum ultimum (the Senate’s ability to suspend the laws in a state of emergency) and the right of the citizens to the prouocatio ad populum (the right of appeal to the popular assembly in case of capital punishment), the agrarian laws, the laws on the secret ballot, the laws for the distribution of corn – in general, the idea of a res publica that was guided by the observance of tradition and obedience to the aristocracy and the Senate, against the popular leaders who based their action on the assemblies and the people.35 There has been a tendency to underestimate the consequences of this split, 33 34

35

Val. Max. 6.1.5–6. Willems 1878: 561–2; MRR II: 247–8. The sons of liberti: Dio Cass. 40.63; Hor. Sat.1.6.20–1. Sallust: Dio Cass. 40.63.4; [Cic.] Inv. in Sall. 16. Auspicia: Cic. Div. 1.29. Illegal possessions: Cic. Fam. 8.14.4 (SB 96). Immorality: Cic. Fam. 8.12.1–2 (SB 98), 8.14.4 (SB 97), with comments on Appius’ bad reputation. The debate on the nature of Late Republican politics has given way to radically different interpretations; for the view I propose here, Cic. Sest. 97–103 is fundamental; Clemente 1990b; Gabba 1990a, 1990b. See Lepore 1990a, 1990b for the characterization of the optimates and populares from different perspectives but essentially emphasizing their role in the shaping of political programmes and issues. Recent discussions, with important methodological implications, are in Millar 1998 and Hölkeskamp 2010. Mouritsen 2001 and Morstein-Marx 2004 are good representatives of a tendency to downplay the political relevance of the two groups, reducing their differences more

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but in this case, as in others, it made a difference to the way these groups looked at the functioning of their Republican institutions. That politicians changed sides frequently, or were opportunistic, is not relevant to this perspective; the issues were there, and the way a politician dealt with them defined his standing and actions. This change was made possible by a number of coinciding factors: the extension of the ius sententiae dicendae (the right to a seat in the Senate) to the lower magistrates, the lectio of Sulla and the establishment of the iudicia publica (standing courts). In the end, as often in Rome, the old and the new became inextricable. The lex repetundarum of Gracchus, against malfeasance in public office, was the first instance we know of in which the conviction of a magistrate for a specific crime brought as a consequence exclusion from the Senate and thence from the juries: queiue merc[edem ceperit quaestioneue ioudicioque puplico condemnatus siet quod circa eum in senatum legei non liceat (‘who may have received a payment or may have been condemned in a quaestio and iudicium publicum in relation to either of which it may not be lawful for him to be enrolled in the Senate’).36 Up to that time there had been no direct relationship between criminal offences and senatorial status: ignominia (‘shame’) did not carry with it infamia (‘ignominy’). Thus, the actions of the censors in time lost weight, being tied to the enforcement of the old mores, which did not envisage the expulsion of senators condemned for criminal offences. There is a famous episode to illustrate this point: Livy tells the story of a senator, Livius Salinator, who had been condemned in a iudicium populi (trial before the popular assembly) in 218 bc; he did not lose his seat but, elected to the consulate in 207 bc, made a speech reproaching the people who had condemned him and afterwards elected him to the highest office; in 204 bc, he became censor.37 This episode is inflated by Livy, who may have had in mind later developments. In 104 bc, a Cassian plebiscite, about which we are poorly informed, stated that a senator condemned in a iudicium populi lost his dignitas (‘dignity’), and the same applied to a senator whose imperium (‘power to command’) had been abrogated by a popular vote. These laws were carried, Asconius says, ad minuendam nobilitatis potentiam (‘to diminish the power of the nobility’).38

36 38

to the level of linguistic norms and ideological representations of a substantially homogeneous view. For a balanced account of these problems, see Arena 2012: 1–13 and passim. 37 Crawford 1996 I: 67 (text), 87 (translation), 100 (commentary). Livy, 27.34, 29.37. Asc. 78C: altera Cassia lex quae populi iudicia firmauit quae sit potest quaeri. est autem haec: L. Cassius, L. f. Longinus tribunus plebis C. Mario C. Flauio coss. plures leges ad minuendam nobilitatis potentiam

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The tension between the magistrates and the populus became more and more relevant. The iudicia publica, held before juries, now much more common than the iudicia populi, sanctioned the connection between the conviction of a senator and the loss of his status. Many details of this process are poorly documented, but the general trend is clear: at the end of the second century bc, the lex latina tabulae Bantinae contained a provision for exclusion from the Senate. It may be identified with the lex Apuleia de maiestate, which inflicted a serious blow to the senators.39 The Tabula Heracleensis, in the age of Caesar, shows the last Republican stage of this evolution. Here I do not wish to enter into the complicated issue of the date and nature of the document, which may contain norms from different periods.40 What we have is a summary of the causes for exclusion from municipal offices, which undoubtedly were applied to the senators, too. The enforcement of the regimen morum and exclusion following convictions for a significant number of crimes stand together.41 The control of the law, the notion of the infamia that is incompatible with senatorial office, has now taken centre stage, diminishing the role of the censor. At the same time, between the middle of the second century and the Sullan dictatorship, the extension of the ius sententiae dicendae (right of giving an opinion in meetings of the Senate) to aediles, tribunes and quaestors made the work of the censors an impossible task: now there was a huge number of former magistrates who sat in the Senate as a result of popular election. Their expulsion, or even their praeteritio (being passed over) in the lectio, on the grounds established by the plebiscitum Ouinium, had as a consequence the declaration of ignominia. Already in 115 bc thirty-two senators were excluded from the assembly, an enormous

39 40

41

tulit, in quibus hanc etiam ut quem populus damnasset cuiue imperium abrogasset in senatu ne esset (‘one may ask which is the other Cassian law that strengthened the popular trials. It is in fact this: L. Cassius Longinus, son of Lucius, tribune of the plebs under the consulate of C. Marius and C. Flavius, proposed many laws to diminish the power of the nobility, among them also this, stating that whom the people had condemned and whose imperium had abrogated could not be in the Senate’). Lines 1–6: Crawford 1996 I: 193–208. The theory of a unitary text, now almost unanimously abandoned, was based on the hypothesis of the existence of a Caesarian general municipal law applied to all communities. Now there is general agreement on the non-existence of such a statute; the text of the Tabula we have is not in fact a statute, since it lacks some of the basic features. The single items, coming from official documents, may be of different dates, and there is no agreement on who decided to put together this text in the age of Caesar and for what specific purpose: a bibliography and history of the problem can be found in Crawford 1996 I: 355–62. Lines 108–25: Crawford 1996 I: 355–91.

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number.42 After the massive change of the Sullan Senate, and the problem of granting citizenship to the Italici, it became more and more difficult to exercise the censorship according to the established procedures. There were no censors in 75 bc, and in 70 bc, the first lectio after Sulla, there were sixty-four notati.43 The motives were the traditional ones of respect for the mores. Many had been expelled in consequence of condemnations in criminal trials; others with different motives: some for immorality, another for being the son of a freedman. Among them were a few important members of the good old families: an ex-quaestor, Q. Curius, was expelled for his shameless conduct (probri gratia); a member of a prestigious family, C. Antonius, the son of the orator M. Antonius and uncle of the future Triumvir, was expelled for various reasons including the pillaging of allies, refusal to stand trial and the enormous debts that made him lose control of his property; the consul of 71 bc, Cornelius Lentulus, also a descendant of a great family, was expelled for his immorality.44 The anti-Sullan climate accounted most probably for some of the expulsions, since the dictator had appointed many of his partisans in his lectio. Personal and political feuds, of course, played a role, even more evident than in the past, owing to the numbers now enrolled in the Senate; but it is significant that even faced with deep and dramatic changes, the censors could propose a model of behaviour that was no longer consonant with public opinion or with what was really happening in Roman society. It was not merely a political game; it was the drama of a self-defined ruling group that resorted to the established instruments to deal with developments that it did not know how to control. The enormous increase in the number of citizens, the problem of the inclusion of the Italians, the fact that the census now had to be taken all over the Italian peninsula, and that the cura morum, in practical terms, could only concern a small fraction of the city of Rome, radically changed the function of the censorship and the relevance of the lectio. This was the real change, not the fact that the mores had gone out of fashion; in fact, the opposite is the case, if we read the literature of the first century bc. 42

43

44

See Gell. NA. 14.8.2 for the Atinian plebiscite and the tribuni plebis; Develin 1978b: 141–4 dates it around the middle of the second century; the aediles were admitted presumably around the same years, and the quaestors by the time of Sulla, although the precise dates are uncertain. The lectio of 115 BC: Cic. Clu. 119, 121; Livy, Per. 62–3; Val. Max. 2.9.9; Plut. Mar. 5.3–4. The lectio of 70 bc: Cic. Clu. 117–34; Sall. Hist. 4 F52M; Livy, Per. 98; Asc. 75.20–25C; Plut. Cic. 17.1; Dio Cass. 37.30.4. Cic. Clu. 119–21, 130–2; Sall. Cat. 23; App. B Civ. 2.3; Sall. Hist. 4 F52M; Livy, Per. 98; Asc. 84C.; Plut. Cic. 17.1; Dio Cass. 37.30.4.

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We have an exceptional testimony for the lectio of 70 bc: the defence of Cluentius in 66 bc by Cicero, in which he had to defend the reputation of some jurors who had been notati in that lectio. The orator, with a subtle use of technical terminology, argued that there was a difference between the nota censoria and conviction in a trial. The first was not permanent and had very mild consequences, since the aim of the ancestors had been to shame the senator, not to convict him. The procedure of the censors was not based on a search for facts, in contrast to a quaestio, where there were witnesses and the accused could defend himself. Cicero was talking to the jurors of 66 bc who had been notati in 70 bc, and he was talking to people who were listening.45 He would not have used these arguments if he had not been fairly sure that he was saying what the public, and the jurors, were prepared to receive sympathetically. The jurors were mostly new men who had entered the Senate through the holding of the lower offices, and they did not accept lightly a nota inflicted by the censors for violations of mores that, in the eyes of the public, did not really matter. Cicero was, of course, an expert lawyer: he showed that the power of the censors would have been tyrannical if their nota had not been felt as a reproach rather than a conviction without trial and that the infamia that came with the turpe iudicium (‘verdict of shame’) was much more serious than the nota. Cicero was giving voice to a sentiment that must have been common among those individuals who had just become members of the ruling class, and among the populus at large. The populus, which had also changed dramatically in its composition and in the attendance of the assemblies, had now acquired a new perception of its power to oppose the arbitrary rule of a traditional aristocracy, which defended its own supremacy by applying old rules. The facts underlined the crisis: the censors of 65 and 64 BC resigned without performing the census and the lectio. This is all the more significant because the censors of 65 bc were two of the most influential politicians of the time, Lutatius Catulus and Licinius Crassus.46 In 61 bc, the censors completed the lectio, but they did not expel any senators and went beyond the traditional number of seats, something not usually done.47 45

46

47

Cic. Clu. 73–6, 83–97, 103, 108, 119–36 gives some names and motives for the expulsion of the jurors of the trial of 74 bc by the censors of 70 bc, who were accused of being corrupt. Most are otherwise unknown. Suolahti 1963: 463–72. The dispute between the two, about the extension of the citizenship to the Transpadanians, and the proposal to make Egypt pay taxes (although an independent kingdom) were very ambitious, and far beyond the capacity of the censors. Dio Cass. 37.46.4.

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It is ironic that Clodius was the best interpreter of the arguments of Cicero. In 58 bc, among the four laws Clodius proposed perniciosas populo Romano (‘harmful to the Roman people’): quartam ne quem censores in senatu legendo praeterirent, neue qua ignominia efficerent, nisi qui apud eos accusatus et utriusque censoris sententia damnatus esset.48 (Asc. 8C)

Cicero, in the speech against Piso, protested ac ergo eius lege censuram, quae magistra pudoris et modestiae est, sublatam (‘and so by that law the censorship, that had been the master of decency and modesty, was abolished’). In fact, the lex Clodia made the lectio virtually impossible; at the same time, we have hints in Cassius Dio that the Clodian law was not so unwelcome to the same aristocrats: they were aware of the dangers inherent in holding an office that had lost prestige in the eyes of the people and was no longer appealing to the elite, since it meant assuming responsibility for the performance of the lectio, meeting with unpopularity no matter what course they took.49 Cicero, of course, attacked Clodius, yet without discussing the rationale of the law. At the same time, away from the Forum and the trials, he tried to find a solution that would save the censorship for what it represented to a sound believer in the traditional res publica; in doing so, he took into account the need to accept what was before his eyes, an evolution that could not be checked or cancelled. Already in the Pro Sestio, in 56 bc, he had stated a very important principle: magistratus annuos creauerunt [sc. maiores nostri], ut consilium senatus rei publicae praeponerent sempiternum, deligerentur autem in id consilium ab uniuerso populo aditusque in illum summum ordinem ciuium industriae ac uirtuti pateret.50 (Cic. Sest. 137)

His argument was that the people would always choose the best, the optimates, but this cannot hide the substance of what Cicero is saying. Only a few years afterwards, he elaborated his position in the De re 48

49 50

‘The fourth forbade the censors to pass over anyone in reading the list of the senators, nor to strike with dishonour anyone, who had not been submitted to a trial before them and condemned by both.’ Cf. Cic. Sest. 55; Prov. cons. 46; Har. resp. 58; Dom. 130; Dio Cass. 38.13; Schol. Bob. p.132. 21–3St.; Clemente 2010. See Dio Cass. 38.13.2, 40.57.1–3, discussing the Clodian law and its aftermath. ‘[Our ancestors] introduced annual magistrates, but in such a way that the deliberations of the Senate would always give the lead, and the members for that council would be chosen by the whole people and the entrance into that ordo, the greatest, would be open to the zeal and value of all the citizens.’

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publica and De legibus. In these theoretical works he made an effort, not completely convincing, to give the censorship a new role while defending its traditional prestige. He was clearly taking into account what he had seen in the past few years, and he turned to the Greeks, and particularly to Plato, for help in defining a possible new role for the magistracy. In the now-fragmentary De re publica, Cicero came back to the notion of ignominia affecting the nomen with no more than a blush.51 In the De legibus, he developed a complicated and difficult argument: in stating the tasks of the censors, he argued, among other things, mores populi regunto, probrum in senatu ne relinquonto (‘they shall regulate the morals of the people, they shall allow no one guilty of dishonourable conduct to remain in the Senate’).52 Then, in the following dialogue with Quintus and Atticus, he clarified his thought: ex iis autem, qui magistratus ceperunt, quod senatus efficitur, populare sane neminem in summum locum nisi per populum uenire sublata cooptatione censoria.53 (Cic. Leg. 3.12.27)

Contrasting the easy objections of Quintus, he had to specify is ordo uitio careto, ceteris specimen esto (‘that order shall be free from dishonour, and shall be a model for the rest of the citizens’), which, of course, did not eliminate an unsolvable contradiction. Only by turning to the Greeks could Cicero find an argument that lent some credibility to his position, by introducing a discussion about the function of music in shaping the character of the ciues – Plato’s idea that Cicero criticized – and substituting it with the example of the aristocracy. What is more, he assigned the censors a new function, the control of the magistrates after they left office. Cicero was, as often, a pragmatic interpreter of his time, and an intellectual looking for solutions, through a balance between a past he cherished and a bleak but amendable present. The mos maiorum remained at the core of the leading group’s selfdefinition as the optimi, from the establishment of the new nobilitas, through the transfer to the censors of the task of selecting the optimi at the beginning of the fourth century, and into the political and social upheaval of the first century bc. These mores, notionally unchanging, continued to underpin the ciuitas; actual changes were disguised and 51 53

Cic. Rep. 4.6. 52 Cic. Leg. 3.3.7. ‘The law which provides that the Senate is to consist exclusively of ex-magistrates is certainly a popular measure, as it ensures that no one shall enter that exalted order except by popular election, the censors being deprived of the right of free choice.’

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absorbed so that the idea of continuity could still be politically instrumental, allowing the institutions embedded in the res publica as established by the ancestors to be perpetuated. This res publica was to be led by the optimi who could now be found outside the nobilitas as often as they could be found within it, provided that they shared the mores antiqui.

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chapter 11

Private Knowledge and Public Image in Roman Elections The Case of the Pro Murena Ayelet Haimson Lushkov

This chapter explores the intersection between the institutional form of Roman elections and the way in which participants and other interested parties spoke about and within the electoral process or, in other words, the relationship between elections as an abstract phenomenon and the lived experience of those who were really part of those electoral processes. Although Roman elections are poorly described by the extant sources, a particularly striking absence is the paucity of formal speeches made during the canvass by the candidates themselves,1 who must have kept their voices fresh for the myriad exchanges and innumerable promisemakings that were the main preoccupation of the Roman candidate.2 This much, at least, is clear from Livy’s and other accounts of various elections, though a considerable span of time – and intermediary sources – often separates the narrative from the historical events themselves. For a fuller and more vivid account of the relationship between process and rhetoric – one stamped with the authority of a contemporary participant – we must look elsewhere. Against this background, Cicero’s Pro Murena, a defence of an elected consul against charges of electoral bribery, stands out for its close engagement with – even recapitulation of – the events and rhetoric of the disputed Portions of this chapter have appeared, with some adaptation and towards a different argument, in Haimson Lushkov 2015: 132–41. I am grateful to Michael Sharp and Cambridge University Press for allowing me to reuse it here. Thanks also go to Catherine Steel and the organizers and participants of the FRRO conference at UCL on which this volume is based and to Pramit Chaudhuri for his usual eagle eye. 1 Cicero’s in toga candida is not an exception to this rule: it was delivered in the Senate to denounce the pact made by his rivals Antonius and Catiline (Asc. 83c), not in front of the voters in the election. 2 Our best-described campaign is that of Gaius Marius in Sall. Iug. 63–5, with discussion in Yakobson 1999: 13–19 and passim for voting patterns in Roman elections more generally, and Haimson Lushkov 2015: 101–6. Tatum 2013 discusses electoral rhetoric, focusing on the absence of formal oratory in campaigns and the prevalence of more informal communication.

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election of 63 bc.3 The speech revisits various moments of the recently ended campaign in an attempt to show that Murena won the election fairly and legitimately, whereas his rival-turned-prosecutor Sulpicius Rufus lost not because of any sharp practices on Murena’s part, but because of his inability to adapt himself to the campaign and its demands. Cicero’s views on the election are worthwhile exploring as a means, albeit limited, of understanding the rhetorical strategies that underpinned electoral campaigns in general, and this one in particular. The veteran of several triumphant campaigns, Cicero was already in a position to comment on how well or badly a campaign was run. The circumstances of the Pro Murena, however, allow Cicero to exploit to the full his unique position: he was not only the sitting consul but also a sponsor of Rufus during his campaign and therefore had insider knowledge of one – but not, crucially, of both – of the candidates’ campaigns. As such, the Pro Murena promises a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of an electoral campaign, as well as a view of the asymmetries of knowledge with which the voters had to contend. Cicero’s purported lack of knowledge of Murena’s campaign works in tandem with his knowing too well the faults of Rufus’ campaign. The speech thus operates by affecting in the reader/juror the ‘feel’ of an electoral season and by presenting the candidates and the issues of the day in ways that must have recalled and invoked the forms and ways used in the campaign. The Pro Murena therefore offers a view, however refracted, of the rhetoric and strategy of a Roman election and, more specifically, of the way in which the voters, at least as encapsulated in the jury, experienced that campaign – as a contest of rhetoric and image, topoi and privileged knowledge.4

The Pro Murena’s Mise-en-Scene The trial of Lucius Murena must have been an awkward affair. Cicero, appearing in defence of the consul-elect, was arguing his case against the allegations of bribery brought by Servius Sulpicius Rufus, the man Cicero 3

4

Cicero deploys many of the same strategies in the later Pro Plancio, where he defends Plancius, a newly elected aedile, from charges of bribery brought by one of Plancius’ competitors. On the two speeches, see Adamietz 1986; May 1998: 58–69, 116–27; Riggsby 1999: 21–49. Other speeches on electoral issues include the Diuinatio in Caecilium and the In Toga Candida; on both as ‘campaign rhetoric’, see Tatum 2013. On bribery in Roman politics more broadly, see Lintott 1990 and Yakobson 1992. In this respect, the chapter builds on the argument in Morstein-Marx 2004 that contional speech shows an ideological monotony and that political choice was therefore about who better fitted a predetermined ideological mould.

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had initially preferred for the top job.5 Further, by taking on the case, Cicero found himself arguing both against his own law, the lex Tullia de ambitu, under which Murena was brought to trial, and against his own principles: clearing Murena’s name would involve Cicero in arguing for the superiority of the military man, Murena, to the Forum dweller, Sulpicius – in other words, Murena’s superiority to men like Cicero himself.6 This tangle of circumstances makes for an especially interesting court case, but Cicero’s shifting allegiance also puts him in a unique position to comment on the consular candidacies of both men present, not least because the only tie binding him to Murena was the fact that they had both been elected consul – in other words, consularity itself: the vague idea of what it meant to be a Roman consul, as well as the reassurance that it takes one to know one, underscores much of Cicero’s rhetoric. In consequence, the Pro Murena offers the jurors images of not one but two electoral campaigns: that of Murena and that of Sulpicius Rufus. For each of those campaigns Cicero plays out a different role: regarding Murena’s campaign, he is, by and large, a disinterested observer, or at least disinterested now that the votes had already been cast. For Sulpicius, however, Cicero appears as a wise and experienced campaign advisor, indeed an active participant in the effort to make Sulpicius consul. These two frames alone already send a powerful message: when it comes to Sulpicius, Cicero knows whereof he speaks; when it comes to Murena, however, Cicero has experienced Murena’s campaign in the same way as the jury had, which is to say from the outside. But his choice to defend Murena and his espousal of the outsider’s view of his campaign, to which I return in the next section, suggest also that Cicero had not changed his mind after joining Murena’s circle. In other words, Murena is the same to those on the inside as he is to those on the outside, and the jurors can therefore rely on the ‘knowledge’ Cicero gives them about Murena’s campaign as a true reflection of the campaign that actually happened.7 5

6

7

Cicero explains his motivations in Mur. 4–5: the dangers posed by the Catilinarian conspiracy, his personal friendship with Murena and his responsibility as a consul to defend the Republic. Whether other reasons existed is impossible to know, and to some extent Cicero’s justifications are aimed at dissuading the jurors from seeing him as a poor amicus to Rufus. On the importance of speeches to Cicero’s own electoral fortunes, see the constant refrain of the Commentariolum Petitionis, e.g. in [Q. Cic.] Pet. 2: non potest qui dignus habetur patronus consularium indignus consulatu putari (‘it’s impossible that anyone worthy of defending former consuls in court should be unworthy of the consulship’). May 1998 argues for the connection between Cicero’s rhetorical ethos and his political success. On the lex Tullia, see Rotondi 1912: 379; Berger RE s.v. lex Tullia de ambitu. Here I build on the argument in Morstein-Marx 2004: 241–78 that contional rhetoric aimed to unveil false ‘friends of the people’ and to reassert the speaker’s own ‘true’ leanings.

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In order to accomplish this, Cicero must first establish that his speech is a repetition of the campaign, not only in the result but also in the substance. This Cicero sets out to do from the first word: quae precatus a dis immortalibus sum, iudices, more institutoque maiorum illo die quo auspicato comitiis centuriatis L. Murenam consulem renuntiaui, ut ea res mihi fidei magistratuique meo, populo plebique Romanae bene atque feliciter eueniret, eadem precor ab isdem dis immortalibus ob eiusdem hominis consulatum una cum salute obtinendum, et ut uestrae mentes atque sententiae cum populi Romani uoluntatibus suffragiisque consentiant, eaque res uobis populoque Romano pacem, tranquillitatem, otium concordiamque adferat.8 (Cic. Mur. 1)

The two halves of this periodic sentence match each other in content and structure. Cicero offers the same prayer, to the same gods, for the same purpose, that the matter – Murena’s election – should turn out well for the Roman people. Cicero then rounds out his opening by offering a slight variation of the same theme: idem consulem uestrae fidei commendat qui antea dis immortalibus commendauit, ut eiusdem hominis uoce et declaratus consul et defensus beneficium populi Romani cum uestra atque omnium ciuium salute tueatur.9 (Cic. Mur. 2)

With the emphasis on similarity bolstered by polyptotonic idem and consul, Cicero and Murena are equal, ceremonially and verbally. Whether or not Cicero perceived of the trial as part of the electoral process, he certainly invests rhetorical energy in drawing the jurors into the voting mind-set, recalling and invoking the campaign as a guiding determinant for whatever decisions the jurors make.10 The dense repetition sets up a sequence of parallels between the events of the trial and the consular elections, as well as among the jurors, the gods, the voting people, Murena, and finally, Cicero himself. This rhetorical move, which plays on the unspoken identity between the jurors qua jurors 8

9

10

‘On that day when I took the auspices and pronounced L. Murena consul in the Comitia Centuriata, I prayed to the immortal gods, judges, in accordance with ancestral habit and custom, that this matter should turn out well and prosperously, for me, my good faith, my magistracy, the people and the Roman plebs. That same prayer I offer to the same immortal gods, that the consulship should be retained by the same man, along with his well-being, that your minds and feelings should agree with the wishes and votes of the Roman people, and that this matter should bring to you and to the Roman people calm, tranquillity, peace and harmony.’ ‘The same man now commends a consul to your trust, who commended him before to the immortal gods, so that he, being declared consul and defended by the voice of the same man, may keep the gift of the Roman people along with your well-being and that of all citizens.’ On the relationship of the trial to the campaign, see Adamietz 1986, with the critique of Riggsby 1999: 47–9, and Tatum 2013: 139–40. On the rhetoric of the exordium, see Fantham 2013: 83–6.

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and the jurors qua citizen voters, allows Cicero to request explicitly a repetition of the electoral result. The jurors are meant to have the same feelings as the voting people not only in their sentiments about the candidates but also in their actual votes, and they are meant to be guided, in this as in all things, by Cicero’s quasi-divine wisdom. The consequences for the speech are not slight, since Cicero has presented his persona in such a way that he can both make use of the thing that distinguishes him from the crowd – his consular status and expert knowledge – and cast himself as identical with them: he knows what they know, and vice versa.

Murena and the Consular Template At the risk of gross over-simplification, modern political science now tends to hold that the average person ‘neither thinks nor knows all that much about politics’ and is therefore ‘prone to seek ways to simplify political choices, including the voting decision’.11 What holds in the modern world must have been doubly so in the ancient, where many voters might have been illiterate, easily coerced or under any number of misconceptions about what their elected officers would do, where, and against whom. Further, voters were often uninformed about how Roman politics were conducted, whether because they lived elsewhere than Rome or because they were barred from the Senate House or failed to make the best of the contio. In consequence, voters, both ancient and modern, rely on a number of heuristics, or shorthands, to simplify the voting decision. Voters might rely on affective decisions – whether or not they like the candidate; they might rely on images, or assess candidates on a number of traits they find agreeable or important, such as courage (uirtus), affability (comitas) or generosity (liberalitas).12 They might, finally, rely on partisan feeling, which in the modern world translates to party affiliation but might in the ancient world have sprung from local identity, ties of clientela or a likemindedness on political issues.13 11 12

13

Denver, Carman and Johns 2012: 139. These traits could be even more situation specific, as e.g. in 215 bc, when Fabius Maximus insisted on ‘parity with Hannibal’ as the only viable criterion for electoral suitability (Livy, 24.7–8, with Patterson 1942 and Haimson Lushkov 2015: 96–127). The bibliography on party politics (or, more precisely, partisan politics) in Rome is vast. Useful starting points are Brunt 1988: 32–45 and 443–502; Mackie 1992; Millar 1998, 2002a; Robb 2010. One potentially significant factor is the distribution of Roman voters into tribus (originally on a geographic basis) and centuriae (coordinated with the tribus): see Taylor 1960, 1966, and cf. Yakobson 1999: 48–54 and 133–6 for some of the implications that cannot be discussed in this chapter.

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All these heuristics are a kind of cognitive easing, the process by which the brain simplifies complex phenomena by making them more similar to what the brain already knows, and successful electioneering therefore must make the candidate conform as closely as possible to what the voters expect a successful candidate to look like.14 This is, in part, what drives Cicero’s assimilation of the Pro Murena with the elections it describes: as a model of a successful candidate, Murena can be ‘re-elected’, that is, acquitted, almost by association and analogy with Cicero himself. In this sense, at least, Cicero is simply ‘endorsing’ Murena as consul, just as he himself wished to be ‘endorsed’ by Pompey, and just as candidates in the Pompeian electoral graffiti (programmata) were endorsed by friends, neighbours and other local notables.15 Murena is approved of by many according to Cicero’s speech, but the two main endorsements he received share an important feature: they are both collective actions by a crowd, one of citizens gathered to greet Murena upon his return from his province and the other by his own former soldiers. Between them, the two crowds comprise the two aspects of Roman society that mattered in electoral contexts. The two instances are also in a sense symmetrical, since Murena is greeted upon his return from governorship of his province, that is, as a general in possession of imperium. But whereas the citizen-greeters are expressing their support of Murena by their presence, the soldiers are heard (or, rather, ventriloquized) in direct speech: me saucium recreauit, me praeda donauit; hoc duce castra cepimus, signa contulimus; numquam iste plus militi laboris imposuit quam sibi sumpsit, ipse cum fortis tum etiam felix.16 (Cic. Mur. 38)

The sermo castrensis (‘soldier-speak’), in its appearance of honesty and paratactic simplicity, stands in marked opposition to the elaborate and obscurantist language of the jurists, which serves only to confound.17 It functions as a clear proof of Murena’s abilities, advertising achievements of the past in the service of the present moment, relying on the Roman 14

15

16

17

On modern ‘branding’ of candidates, see e.g. Busby 2006 on class rhetoric in the United States and the United Kingdom; on magistracy, and especially the consulship, as exemplary paradigms, see Haimson Lushkov 2015. Cicero endorsed by Pompey: [Q. Cic.] Pet. 13: efficiendum etiam illud est ut sciant omnes Cn. Pompei summam esse erga te uoluntatem (‘see to it that everybody knows that Pompey has the highest goodwill towards you’). On the programmata, see Franklin 1980, 2001, and now Milnor 2014: 97–136. ‘He took care of me when I was wounded, he gave me spoils; we captured the camp under his leadership, we gave battle; he never assigned more labour to a soldier than he took on himself, and he is not only brave, but also lucky.’ On obscurantist juridical speech, see Mur. 25–8. On sermo castrensis, see Pérez Castro 2005. On the introjection of sub-literary orality into a text, see Oesterreicher 1997.

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penchant for precedent, exemplarity and topical composition, familiar to us from every branch of Roman literary and rhetorical composition.18 Indeed, the content of this sermo castrensis sounds remarkably like shorthand for a Roman res gestae narrative, and more importantly, it evokes two familiar types of representation of generalship. The first type includes the famous vignettes on Catiline’s and Hannibal’s character and military diligence in Sallust and Livy, respectively.19 Both passages postdate Cicero, of course, and there are no clear verbal echoes – but all three passages share a fundamental appreciation of the general’s participation in the life of the camp and his sharing in and understanding of the various hardships of a soldier’s life. The other discourse of generalship operates at a vaguer level: the list of Murena’s qualities closes with a phrase – not only brave but also lucky – which echoes the generic set of qualities, especially uirtus and felicitas, possessed by a successful general. The most famous enumeration is Cicero’s own praise of Pompey in the De lege Manilia, but fortitudo, uirtus, felicitas and their like were not just qualities of character but also the core principles of exemplary discourse in Rome.20 What the sermo castrensis establishes, therefore, is an image of Murena as conforming to a topos of generalship. And he is generic not only in his generalship but also in his candidacy, as his arrival in the city demonstrates, allowing Cicero to refute one of the bribery allegations made by Cato the Younger, serving on Sulpicius’ legal team, that Murena paid for a crowd of well-wishers to greet him on his arrival to the city: ‘multi obuiam prodierunt de prouincia decedenti.’ consulatum petenti solet fieri; eccui autem non proditur reuertenti? ‘quae fuit ista multitudo?’ primum, si tibi istam rationem non possim reddere, quid habet admirationis 18

19

20

On careers furnishing electoral documenta (‘proofs, testimonials’), cf. Fabius’ rhetoric in Livy, 24.8.14, haud sane cur ad maiora tibi fidamus documenti quicquam dedisti (‘you’ve hardly given us reason to trust you with greater things’), and the tribunes in 32.7.8, per honorum gradus documentum sui dantes (‘giving proof of themselves through the progression of honours’). On Cicero’s use of exempla, see note 20. Catiline: Sal. Cat. 5.1–5; Hannibal: Livy, 21.4. On the historiographical intertext, see Clauss 1997; O’Gorman 2009: 238–9. On the qualities of the successful general, see Cicero himself on Pompey the Great in the Pro Lege Manilia 28: ego enim sic existimo, in summo imperatore quattuor has res inesse oportere – scientiam rei militaris, uirtutem, auctoritatem, felicitatem (‘for I think that the best general ought to have within him these four things: knowledge of military matters, prowess, authority, good fortune’). On the speech, see Steel 2001: 140–54 and Lintott 2008: 427–30. On exemplary discourse at Rome, see Hölkeskamp 2003 and Roller 2004; on Cicero’s use of exemplarity in the speeches, see Bücher 2006: 228–55 and van der Blom 2010: 129–36, 2011b. Cf. also Chapter 15.

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tali uiro aduenienti, candidato consulari, obuiam prodisse multos? quod nisi esset factum, magis mirandum uideretur.21 (Cic. Mur. 68)

The argument Cicero makes here might well be summed up in the phrase solet fieri (‘it’s what normally happens’), and it suggests, albeit obliquely, that a scene which Cicero, a veteran consul backed by other political heavyweights, takes for granted is suspicious to his opposition chiefly because they are unaccustomed to it, lacking as they do the requisite experience of being loved by the people. Here, too, we find some assimilation of speech and electoral campaign: rationem reddere, for instance, which alludes to the electoral term rationem habere, also suggests that Cicero has access to such privileged knowledge as the identities of the men in the crowd, from which he might indeed produce a ratio.22 The important point, however, is that the picture Cicero paints is both consular and highly generic. Because of Murena’s quality as a man and his status as a candidate (tali uiro . . . candidato consulari), Cicero relegates any putative surprise at the welcome given by the crowds to the realm of rhetorical questions (quid habet admirationis?) and counterfactual conditionals (magis mirandum uideretur). The repeated diction expressing wonder in fact works in two opposing ways: at a superficial level, it operates ironically to highlight the normality of the crowds’ reaction and to puncture the apparent surprise and scepticism felt by the prosecution; at a subtler level, however, the repetition highlights the real object of admiration – Murena himself. Murena’s motion, further, is steady, linear and purposeful. He approaches Rome, meets with the adoring crowd and thus fulfils exactly what was expected of him. The standard image of a returning general (recall that Murena is returning from his province) is effective precisely because it fits the bill of consular behaviour so well. Indeed, Murena’s homecoming is blandly generic, a shorthand sketch of an adoring aduentus (‘arrival’), and precisely what one would expect both from a consular candidate coming home and from someone like Cicero, standing in the crowd or hearing about it afterwards, but without any prior or specialized 21

22

‘“Many people came out to meet him when he came back from his province.” This is what normally happens when someone seeks the consulship, and anyway, doesn’t this happen whenever someone comes home? “What was this crowd?” First, if I were not able to answer you on this score, why should it be odd that many came out to meet such man on his return, a consular candidate? It would have been odder still if it hadn’t happened.’ For rationem habere (‘to take official account of [a candidacy]’), see OLD s.v. ratio 8c, esp. Cicero, Att. 7.1.4 and 7.9.4 (SB 124 and 132), where ratio simply means ‘candidacy’, and Hellegouarc’h 1972: 421–4.

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knowledge. This is, in other words, the functional equivalent of media coverage of a politician working the ropes: nothing of substance but everything of form. And this generic adherence is an important part of what makes it powerful, not just to deflect the bribery charges but also to show Murena as fitting the bill. He acts like consular candidates always do, which lends a certain aptness, if not predictability, to his in fact becoming consul.

Sulpicius Rufus: Spin and Flight Shared knowledge and shared sentiment are both important themes in this speech. In contrast to Murena, whom Cicero presents not only as a nouus homo but also as conducting himself openly and transparently in the public eye, Sulpicius embodies the nastier side of privilege. He comes from an aristocratic family whose lineage hardly anybody knows anymore and is further a consummate jurist, dealing in elaborate legal language that no one understands and nobody requires.23 Indeed, as a jurist, Sulpicius by definition knows more than the audience, and Cicero uses this hauteur not only to distance himself from his former protégé but also to highlight the difference between Sulpicius and Murena and finally to bolster his own position with the jurors. Cicero, too, after all, knows more than the jurors. Unlike Sulpicius, however, he intends to share that knowledge, thus unmasking Sulpicius as a sore loser and ill fitted for the consulship. A jurist to the last, Sulpicius looks to the trial even in the midst of the campaign and shows himself to fall squarely outside the expected image and behaviour required of a candidate: itaque sic statuo fieri nullo modo posse ut idem accusationem et petitionem consulatus diligenter adornet atque instruat. unum sustinere pauci possunt, utrumque nemo. tu cum te de curriculo petitionis deflexisses animumque ad accusandum transtulisses, existimasti te utrique negotio satis facere posse. uehementer errasti.24 (Cic. Mur. 46)

Not only can Sulpicius be mocked for his use of the entitlement of his birth and juristic expertise, as Cicero had argued earlier, but he also committed 23

24

Sulpicius the Obscure: Mur. 7. Legal language: Mur. 26. Compare here the conduct of Aemilius Scaurus, who kept himself busy and in public view like a nouus homo (Asc. 23c). ‘And so I think it simply isn’t possible that the same person should diligently draw up and prepare both a legal charge and a campaign for the consulship. Few can sustain even the one, and nobody can do both. When you turned yourself away from the business of canvassing, and transferred your attention to legal charges, you thought you would be able to do enough for both. How grievously off-course you were.’

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the cardinal error of not devoting his every resource to the campaign.25 Cicero’s language accordingly makes Sulpicius out to be radically off-course in his calculations (note errasti), physically turning away from the canvass towards the trial. Cicero’s choice of verbs, however, especially deflexisses and transtulisses, paints Sulpicius as not only distracted from the campaign but also deliberate in his attempt to obstruct and pre-empt the vote; Murena, meanwhile, moves deliberately through the landscape towards victory (note e.g. aduenienti used of Murena in 68). Thus, in his tactical miscalculation, Sulpicius shows himself not only as a generally incompetent candidate (who would therefore make for an incompetent consul) but also, more specifically, as one who is unable to recognize and pursue the correct course. There is a further irony here: Sulpicius accuses Murena of bribery, that is, of decoupling the voters’ intention from the vote itself; but his substitution of trial for canvass achieves the same effect and, in fact, worse, if Murena is in fact innocent. How does Cicero know this? Because he was there to see it happen and consult against it, just as he is now here to reveal this information to the jurors. Thus, the same authorial position that works to recommend Murena in all his generic glory does double duty in revealing the dirty secrets of Sulpicius’ backroom dealings, confirming and building on shared stereotypes: lawyers are shifty, and Sulpicius is true to type. What we are left with are, fundamentally, two competing topoi: Murena the general, lucky, brave and charismatic, and Sulpicius the jurist, obscure and obscurantist. Both are reduced to a clichéd caricature of their respective roles. The ‘generic candidate’ gambit therefore works in the speech in three distinct but related ways. The first is as reassurance: Murena’s looking like a future consul simplifies the voting decision because it advertised a necessary resemblance between ‘ought’ and ‘is’, between candidate and consul. The second way the gambit works is by developing a contrast between Murena and Sulpicius, both of whom are treated very differently by Cicero. And third, the generic argument works best if Cicero and the audience are all in it together, that is, if Cicero and the audience have the same, or roughly similar, horizons of expectation. So it helps, therefore, that Cicero has no insider knowledge of Murena’s canvass but that he is, at the same time, far from an innocent observer – indeed, he is the most expert of expert witnesses because he, too, is a consul and is therefore in a privileged position to know one when he sees one.26 25

26

For the expectation that candidates devote every resource to the campaign, see Tatum 2013: 150 and e.g. [Q. Cic.] Pet. 4: omni ratione efficiendo; 20, omnino . . . fac. On the importance of privileged ‘behind-the-scenes’ knowledge in Roman political rhetoric, see Morstein-Marx 2004: 207.

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But, of course, both Murena and Sulpicius are generic candidates in a very specific sense, and one that can be plotted along a simple binary opposition between military prowess and its absence. This organization is typical of Roman politics tout court, but in the electoral context in particular it is an example of what political scientists call ‘valence issues’.27 These are sets of issues on which, by and large, there is minimal division among voters, and where the main issue is not whether something ought to be done, but rather to what degree.28 As it happens, valence issues tend to cluster around security issues, but Roman politics likewise shows that the outcomes of elections are susceptible to manipulation based on military outcomes.29 The Pro Murena, too, showcases valence issues in two separate but related ways: the generic templates of both candidates markedly veer towards favouring military men. But Cicero also has a more topical valence issue in mind, and that is the gathering threat of the Catilinarian conspiracy, an issue that Cicero, at the time of the speech, still saw as continuing from his own consulship to Murena’s, and which he deploys further (and without apparent irony) to showcase the similarities between himself and Murena, in contrast to Sulpicius. Thus, for example, in refuting the prosecution’s reasoning that Murena must have bribed the voters, since Sulpicius came first in the polls when both he and Murena ran against each other for the aedileship, Cicero says: nihil est incertius uolgo, nihil obscurius uoluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum . . . nam, ut tempestates saepe certo aliquo caeli signo commouentur, saepe improuiso nulla ex certa ratione obscura aliqua ex causa concitantur, sic in hac comitiorum tempestate populari saepe intellegas quo signo commota sit, saepe ita obscura causa est ut casu excitata esse uideatur.30 (Cic. Mur. 36)

This criticism of the people’s uoluntas as fickle and unpredictable is striking, especially in a speech which aims to replicate that will in the jurors. Rhetorically, Cicero is attempting to smooth Sulpicius’ ruffled feathers, 27

28 29

30

On valence issues, I have benefitted especially from Clarke et al. 2009; Denver, Carman and Johns 2012: 104–8. I plan to expand on the application of valence theory to Roman Republican politics in a future article. The classic example is the economy; see Clarke et al. 2009: 15. The modern tendency is the result of a prolonged shift in voter priorities; see Clarke et al. 2009: 55–64. ‘For nothing is more uncertain than a crowd, nothing more impenetrable than the wishes of men, nothing more deceptive than the whole business of elections . . . for, just as storms often rise at some sure sign of the heavens, and often they stir for no obvious reason or discernible cause, so in this electoral storm of the people you might sometimes know what caused it, but often the cause would be so obscure that the storm would almost seem to have risen by chance.’

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pinning the reason for his defeat on the ineluctable mysteries of the people’s uoluntas. The difference between the two tempestates, further, is keyed exactly to the two types of candidate: Sulpicius’ origins, though noble, are obscure and academic, whereas Murena’s career furnishes a sure sign of his suitability for office. Indeed, very shortly after this metaphor of stormy seas, Cicero will specify Murena’s good reputation among the soldiery as the reason for his electoral success. Murena’s conduct brings out the uoluntas militum, and the soldiers’ good report induces, in turn, the favour of the people: hoc quanti putas esse ad famam hominum ac uoluntatem? (Mur. 38, ‘how much impact do you think it has on reputation and inclination?’). If the contional atmosphere can be likened to a rising storm, the proof of a military career is by analogy the ‘sure sign’ in the heavens, not the cause of the storm but the indication that provides foreknowledge for those who can read it. Further, despite Cicero’s coyness, there can be no doubt that he knows how to master such electoral storms and what might be their cause or effect. The theme of unexpected tempestates brackets the speech in Mur. 4 and 81 and constructs a continuity between Cicero’s year in office and the incoming consul’s task: quo tandem me esse animo oportet prope iam ex magna iactatione terram uidentem in hunc cui uideo maximas rei publicae tempestates esse subeundas? (Mur. 4, ‘how, then, am I to feel towards this man, whom I see must undergo these great storms of the state, when I am just within sight of land after being cast about myself?’). In this, too, Cicero and Murena share an important consular quality: they possess a measure of agency over the unpredictable events of popular assemblies, whereas Sulpicius, lacking such consular qualities, is left to wonder at the seemingly inscrutable result. Indeed, the descriptive terms Cicero uses – incertius, obscurius, fallacius – hammer home the point: Murena makes up for his lack of ancestry by discharging his duty in the public eye, and his military identity remains consistent and emphatic in the speech; Sulpicius, by contrast, is uncertain of victory, obscure of reputation and fallacious by profession. It’s clear who makes the better politician and who the better consul.

Conclusion: The Sound and the Fury The Pro Murena is not an electoral speech, of course, but it is worthwhile to ask in conclusion what it might tell us about the rhetoric, and the rhetorical practices, of Roman elections more generally. This chapter has argued that the speech employs a number of frameworks and heuristics all aimed at simplifying the decision made by the voters or, in this case, the voters as

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jurors. This generic simplification stands out not least because the speech itself, especially if it was edited afterwards for circulation, already faces a more simple challenge than any electoral speech: the forum is small and set, the aim clear and defined and the scope ample and formal. A candidate, by contrast, would have spoken informally, ex tempore, and often by proxy, to fluid and changing audiences, each with their own interests, agendas and demands.31 Cicero’s use of simplifying tropes, therefore, does more than just break down the voting choice for the jurors but also mimics, indeed recreates, a campaign atmosphere for them. Is that re-creation, however, telling of real electoral practices? The answer must be, I suggest, a severely qualified affirmative. In as much as Roman voters subscribed to the same cognitive tendencies as their modern counterparts, an assumption that is defensible if far from provable, the Pro Murena mimics for us the kinds of things a candidate might say and the range of ways he might present himself: as a military man, popular, courageous and so on. The Pro Murena suggests also that some elections were won or lost on a single issue, often security related, as in Marius’ victory of 105 BC for the war against Jugurtha, or earlier elections during the Second Punic War.32 These issues, however, tended to be universal and relatively easy to rally around, and as such are of a different hue to the more complex issues – the economy, immigration, legal rights – we often imagine modern elections turning on. Ultimately, however, the Pro Murena suggests, not surprisingly, that the best consul is in fact Cicero himself. What emerges from the speech as a whole are three distinct images of what a consular candidate – and thereby potential consul – might be, each represented by one of the parties, and in ascending order: a legal authority (Sulpicius – worse), a military leader (Murena – better), and implicitly and best of all, Cicero the orator, who guides the jurors/voters through the maze of rhetoric with lordly wisdom.33 But, of course, Cicero is playing two games here, and his use of cliché allows him to marry strategy and ideology. In the short term, cliché provides the fuzziness required to allow Cicero to escape a personal bind – jurists are bad, consuls are good; Cicero is a consul, not a jurist, therefore good. The longer game, however, relies on cliché to reconstruct an ideology of what it means to be consul: valiant, resilient, militarily able, 31 32

33

Tatum 2013: 136–40. For Marius’ campaign, see note 2. For the Second Punic War, see note 12. This emphasis on security supports Cicero’s argument that as a consul Murena will keep Rome safe. On the creative power of Cicero’s rhetoric, see Gildenhard 2011: 146–59, and especially 156–9 on the importance of consuls having a consular attitude.

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certainly, but also reliant on Cicero’s skill and committed to Cicero’s political exigencies in the Catilinarian conspiracy. Above all, however, the Pro Murena shows us a battle of rhetoric, image and public relations. If it gives us a sense of Roman electioneering, it is a fairly generic one, the functional equivalent of watching the evening news: engaging, full of sound and fury but in the end, perhaps, signifying nothing – and yet precisely in that empty ventriloquizing lies the real significance of political cliché.

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chapter 12

The ‘Wrong’ Meetings? Some Notes on the Linked Usage of the Terms Coetus and Contiones in the Political Language of the Roman Republic Roman M. Frolov

Literary sources, often inescapably one-sided, can problematise our grasp of the mechanics of Roman Republican politics. However, these very biases may be helpful for better understanding the strategies and ideologies of the political factions whose stances are reflected in the ancient texts. To that end, a close look at diction in our literary sources is especially useful. This chapter focuses on some observations on the usage of the two terms for describing Roman political meetings: coetus and contio. Since both labels are used for what we can call non-decision-making gatherings, not surprisingly, scholars often contrast one against the other. However, in my view, it sometimes escapes scholars’ attention that coetus and contio are not opposites on a spectrum but have entirely different qualities. While contio implies a political meeting with a more-or-less clear set of specific characteristics (non-decision-making, most often legal and legitimate, public and official), a coetus is not even necessarily a meeting, let alone a political one with defined attributes. This leads to two further considerations. First, even when coetus is used for political gatherings, it is applied each time in significantly different ways. While it can serve as an opposite of contio, denoting a gathering that is restricted, unofficial, illegitimate or illegal, it may also be employed as a more vague, general term for This study was partially supported by the Russian Presidential Grants Council (Project No. МК2810.2015.6), Russian Foundation for Humanities (Project No. 15–31-01205) and the country’s Ministry of Education and Science (Project No. 91, state assignment for research in P. G. Demidov Yaroslavl State University). I am grateful to the classicists from Yaroslavl, especially to Vera V. Dement’eva, for their encouragement and help. I express my deep gratitude to the audience at the colloquium ‘People, Politics and Res Publica: Strategy and Ideology in Republican Rome’, organised by Catherine Steel, Christa Gray and Henriette van der Blom, for invaluable responses. I thank Jennifer Dwyer, who did enormous work to improve the English text of the original paper. Of course, all errors and omissions remain my sole responsibility.

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a gathering, encompassing the more specific contio within it, or even as a pejorative, yet precise, equivalent of contio. So, when we see coetus used for a political gathering, in itself this does not (unlike contio) provide much specific information, unless we have a broader informative context.1 Secondly, since contio is a more precise term, its application to a meeting, even if we know from context that it does not look like a typical contio,2 may imply that the author thought the gathering had at least some of the specific features of a contio. The cases analysed here demonstrate, I believe, that this use of contio first of all highlights, whether in a positive or negative way, the significant political ramifications of a meeting. In scholarship, an assemblage called coetus is usually considered unofficial and unauthorised, brought together by private citizens (priuati), whereas one labelled contio is characterised as an official institution, a meeting called exclusively by magistrates or, in the case of a military contio, summoned by military officers in command.3 At the same time, even when contrasting coetus and contio, researchers mention important similarities between the realities behind them. For example, Mueller notes that coetus is a ‘word less formal than other Latin terms for assembly’; ‘in fact, [it] carries decidedly negative connotations, and is often specifically applied to unauthorised gatherings’.4 Mueller claims that a coetus ‘lacked official state sanction (which included both legal and religious elements)’.5 Nevertheless, he also points out that ‘whether or not a particular coetus was illegal depended 1

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The term coetus without further specification most consistently indicates illicit meetings in later legal texts (lex Irnitana 74; cf. lex Col. Gen. Iul. 106), but even in legal contexts, cases when coetus needs to be clarified by such words as illicitus are not lacking (Dig. 47.11.2; Plin. Ep. 10.93). As to earlier regulations, the Declamatio in Catilinam 19 (65 Kristoferson) – whatever its precise value in reconstructing the Twelve Tables’ provisions – indicates that the Twelve Tables prohibited not just any coetus but specifically nocturnal coetus in the city. For general scholarly assessments of the legality of coetus, see below. In such cases, we anticipate that it should be designated coetus (in the sense of an unofficial, illegal gathering) or something else, but not contio. On contiones in general, see Pina Polo 1989: 41–3 (cf. Frolov 2013); on military contiones, see Pina Polo 1989: 199, 240. Francisco Pina Polo, when discussing passages describing unauthorised political gatherings, states that the word contio designates a meeting with institutional organisation, whereas the term coetus indicates any gathering of individuals. Coetus, unlike contiones, were illegal, private, restricted and conducted without the presidency of magistrates (see Pina Polo 1989: 6–7). Dominique Hiebel suggests that the word acquired a negative meaning in political discourse and was often associated with the terms coniuratio and seditio. Coetus, as well as coitio, designates unofficial gatherings, prohibited by the mos maiorum (Hiebel 2009: 69–70; see also O’Neill 2001: 152, n. 279). Mueller 2004: 82–3. Mueller 2004: 83, discussing the meetings reportedly held in 494 bc (Livy 2.27–8), on which see below.

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on circumstances’.6 According to Nicolet, aside from contiones, ‘all meetings of the people or even of a handful of citizens were considered an invitation to sedition’, but ‘they were neither forbidden nor repressed’.7 Thus, both Mueller and Nicolet suggest that despite a negative attitude on the part of the Roman elite towards gatherings called coetus, a political act designated by this label was not necessarily of an illicit nature. Moreover, it seems to me that one cannot consistently observe certain other important features which have been alleged to constitute a sharp contrast between the terms coetus and contio in political contexts. Let us start with Cicero’s texts. Here the word coetus is used more than three dozen times.8 Mostly it is employed for describing public life and politics. However, in such cases Cicero not infrequently uses the expression in its most unspecified meaning, to indicate not a meeting but rather an association or community of men, as in his famous definition of populus (Rep. 1.39, 41, 3.43). In theoretical treatises, the label is also used for political meetings, again of any kind, without further specification. For example, Cicero, when contrasting solitude to public activity in the De officiis, connects this activity to ‘gatherings and crowds of men’ (coetus hominum frequentiaque). It is quite possible that political gatherings, maybe both magisterial and unauthorised, are referred to here, taking into account that Cicero links coetus with the curia and forum.9 Contrary to some scholarly expectations, in only a few of Cicero’s passages does the term certainly designate gatherings organised by priuati, including the assembly of Catiline’s supporters, reportedly called in a private house on the night of 6–7 November 63 bc.10 The number of 6 9

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7 8 Mueller 2004: 83. Nicolet 1993: 42–3. See particularly TLL s.v. coetus. Cic. Off. 3.2: ille enim requiescens a rei publicae pulcherrimis muneribus otium sibi sumebat aliquando et coetu hominum frequentiaque interdum tamquam in portum se in solitudinem recipiebat, nostrum autem otium negotii inopia, non requiescendi studio constitutum est. extincto enim senatu deletisque iudiciis quid est, quod dignum nobis aut in curia aut in foro agere possimus? (‘For he, resting from his excellent services to the Republic, sometimes took a vacation and withdrew from the gatherings and crowds of men into solitude as if it were an asylum, while my leisure is caused by the lack of occupation, not by a desire for rest. Indeed, what is there suitable for me that I can do either in the Senate House or in the Forum when the Senate has been weakened and the courts have been destroyed?’). See also Cic. De or. 1.30, 3.65; Fin. 2.77. Cf. Cornelius Severus’ famous description of Cicero’s death (ap. Sen. Suas. 6.26): quid fauor aut coetus, pleni quid honoribus anni profuerant? sacris exculta quid artibus aetas? (‘What good had popular favour or gatherings done, or years full of honours? What good had a life ennobled by sacred arts done?’). Cic. Cat. 1.6: etenim quid est, Catilina, quod iam amplius exspectes, si neque nox tenebris obscurare coetus nefarios nec priuata domus parietibus continere uoces coniurationis tuae potest, si illustrantur, si erumpunt omnia? (‘And indeed, what is this, Catiline, you are still waiting for, if neither night can hide nefarious gatherings in darkness, nor private houses conceal the voices of your conspirators

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such occurrences, in the case of Cicero at least, is simply not sufficient to believe that this was the primary meaning of the term. In fact, coetus might no less frequently indicate meetings and consultations organised by public officials. Cicero applies this term to the secret nocturnal gatherings of plebeian tribunes-elect in 64 bc, at which Servilius Rullus, his colleagues and ‘certain private individuals’ discussed the drafting of the new agrarian law.11 In strictly legal terms, magistratesdesignate were also priuati, but it is of more importance here that Cicero seeks to show them as already responsible for the whole res publica; therefore, being in this respect distinguished from other priuati, ‘they continued . . . to invite certain private individuals’. In his speech against Piso, Cicero also calls the senators who were listening to him a coetus of ‘the most learned and highly accomplished men possible’ (Pis. 68). Finally, it may be suspected that the word is applied as an analogue of contio in the Second Philippic.12 The phrase ‘in a proper assembly of the Roman people’ (in coetu uero populi Romani) is here a synonym of ‘in the eye of the Roman people’ (in populi Romani conspectu), which, in turn, is usually used in the sources as a substitute for ‘in a public meeting of the people’ (in contione populi). It is also noteworthy that in these passages (Pis. 68 and Phil. 2.63) coetus does not carry a pejorative meaning.13

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within their walls, if everything is elucidated and disclosed?’); 1.10: haec ego omnia uixdum etiam coetu uestro dimisso comperi (‘Your gathering had barely broken up, when I learned all this’). Besides that, Cicero mentions ‘meeting with friends’ (coetus amicorum) and ‘conversations’ (sermones) during the feasts of the members of religious associations (sodalitates) established in 205 bc (Sen. 45). The political nature of these coetus is not specifically stressed, though it is well known that sodalitates held political influence, particularly with respect to elections, in Cicero’s time (see e.g. [Q. Cic.] Pet. 19; Gruen 1995: 228–9). Cic. Leg. agr. 2.12: interea non desistebant clam inter se conuenire, priuatos quosdam adhibere, ad suos coetus occultos noctem adiungere et solitudinem (‘Meanwhile they continued to assemble secretly, to invite certain private individuals and to use night and darkness for their concealed gatherings’). Cic. Phil. 2.63: tantum uini in Hippiae nuptiis exhauseras ut tibi necesse esset in populi Romani conspectu uomere postridie. . . . in coetu uero populi Romani negotium publicum gerens, magister equitum . . . is uomens . . . gremium suum et totum tribunal inpleuit (‘You drank so much wine at the marriage of Hippia that the next day it became necessary for you to vomit in the eye of the Roman people . . . In a proper assembly of the Roman people, a man conducting public business, a master of the horse . . . he vomited . . . filling his own bosom and the whole platform’). The mention of the tribunal may indicate the execution of judicial responsibilities by a magistrate in the Forum, but the tribunal not infrequently is associated specifically with the conducting of contiones. Cf. e.g. Livy, 3.19.4, 26.15.9; Sen. Dial. 3.16. See also Pina Polo 1989: 19–20, 187. Hellegouarc’h 1972: 92–3 claims that coetus is itself neutral and serves as a general designation of political gatherings. He believes, though, that in practice the word is often exploited pejoratively: its meaning is specified by means of modifiers with deteriorative colouring. Nevertheless, even such terms as contio easily acquire that sort of colouring (though not as frequently, of course, as coetus) when accompanied by suitable attributes.

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The use of coetus for official gatherings was not at all unique to Cicero. Even though some other authors (Livy, for instance) do employ it most frequently to denote not magisterial but rather unauthorised gatherings, it is important always to keep in mind the possibility that the term may be applied to meetings presided over by the magistrates: to official contiones. Thus, in his third book (3.38.11), Livy recalls an incident during the Sabine wars in which the term of office of the decemuiri had expired, but the decemuiri continued to wield power.14 However, when they attempted to call a meeting of the Senate, the senators ignored them, avoiding ‘a meeting and an encounter’ (coetus congressusque) with the decemuiri. As Livy puts it, the senators doubted the legal right of the illegitimate decemuiri, ‘despotic rulers’ (impotentes domini), to convoke the Senate. Therefore, the meetings were not ‘proper’ ones, and consequently, they were called not senatus but coetus congressusque.15 Even though this time coetus is used pejoratively (perhaps to show concerns about the legitimacy of the actions of the decemuiri), it definitely indicates technically official meetings. According to Livy, the decemuiri at that time had not yet formally abdicated their power in contione, as they were to do later (see 3.54.6). Asconius’ account of the dispersal of a gathering of the supporters of the tribune of the plebs Gaius Manilius in 67 bc may serve as a good argument that the term coetus sometimes can hardly be opposed to contio.16 Asconius 14

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The legal consequences of the usurpation of power by the decemuiri are well stressed in Dement’eva 2003: 77–84. Livy, 3.38.11: patrum haud fere quisquam in foro, in urbe rari erant. indignitate rerum cesserant in agros, suarumque rerum erant amissa publica, tantum ab iniuria se abesse rati, quantum a coetu congressuque impotentium dominorum se amouissent (‘There was almost no one of senators in the Forum, and a few remained in the city. Because of their indignation with the situation, they departed to their farms and were totally consumed in their private affairs, abandoning those of the state. They believed that they would be protected from injustice so far as they withdrew from a meeting and an encounter with the despotic rulers’). Cf. also 4.25.9: coetus indicere in domos tribunorum plebis (‘they appointed gatherings in the houses of plebeian tribunes’) and 4.6.6: consules . . . concilia principum domi habebant (‘the consuls . . . convened the meetings of the leading citizens at home’). Asc. 45C: dederas enim quam contemneres populares insanias iam ab adulescentia documenta maxima. constantiam L. Domiti quam in quaestura praestitit significat. nam eo tempore cum C. Manilius tribunus plebis subnixus libertinorum et seruorum manu perditissimam legem ferret ut libertinis in omnibus tribubus suffragium esset, idque per tumultum ageret et cliuum Capitolinum obsideret, discusserat perruperatque coetum Domitius ita ut multi Manilianorum occiderentur. quo facto et plebem infimam offenderat et senatus magnam gratiam inierat (‘For ever since the time of your youth you have given much evidence of how greatly you despised the follies of populares. He means Domitius’ constancy, which he showed during his quaestorship. When the plebeian tribune Gaius Manilius, supported by a number of freedmen and slaves, proposed the most corrupted bill to distribute freedmen’s votes throughout the tribes, acted by means of a tumult and occupied the Capitoline Hill, Domitius broke up and stopped the gathering in such a way that many of Manilius’ supporters were killed. By doing this, he both offended the lower sections of the plebs and earned great favour from the Senate’). Cf. Schol. Bob. p. 119.14–17St: nam cum C. Manilius post annum tribunatus sui,

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reports that Manilius had proposed a controversial law to distribute freedmen’s votes throughout the tribes. This caused some dispute. Manilius was said to have ‘acted by means of a tumult’ and occupied the Capitol. The quaestor Domitius broke up this coetus of Manilius’ partisans by force and, as a result, many of them were killed. Nevertheless, the law ended up being passed in the assembly. According to Cicero, in general, a presiding magistrate was responsible for any violence that occurred in his meeting (Cic. Leg. 3.42–3), and we do know that this coetus ended in bloodshed. However, Asconius tells us that it was Domitius who interrupted the coetus of Manilius with an assault that led to casualties in a clear violation of the law. There are no precise details of Manilius’ possible illegalities or, in other words, what kind of violence took place before Domitius interfered. E. J. Phillips assumes that after his tribunate, ‘it would have been easy to prosecute Manilius for uis (violence)’ and finds it ‘strange that the prosecution should have dug up an old charge (peculation)’.17 Phillips suggests that the likely reason why the accusation of violence did not take place was that Domitius would in that case also have been accused, for he too had resorted to uis.18 However, a more straightforward explanation may be that Manilius simply never used violence to pass his bill concerning freedmen. As Phillips himself rightly points out, ‘Manilius is not known to have used force again while he was a tribune, and the generalisations of Cicero and the Scholia Bobiensis appear to be based on this one instance alone.’19 This evidence, as I am arguing here, is not enough. Thus, Nippel, for example, implies that Domitius interfered on the grounds of Manilius’ inability or unwillingness to stop the riotous meeting for which he was responsible.20 However, even if it was turbulent, all we know for certain is that it became such only after Domitius’ intervention. There is no clear evidence that before this the meeting was accompanied by any kind of violence, nor is it easy to see why, indeed, it should be. Of course, taking into account previous well-known attempts to pass legislative proposals similar to that of Manilius with the help of violence,

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quem turbulentissime gesserat, causam de maiestate dicturus esset accusante Cn. Minucio, id egit, ut per multitudinem conspiratam obsideret eundem Cn. Minucium accusatorem suum (‘For, since Gaius Manilius, after the year of his tribunate, which he performed in a very turbulent manner, would have had to defend himself against the charge of maiestas brought by Gnaeus Minucius, he acted in order to besiege the very same Minucius, his accuser, with the mob working in concert with him’). See also Dio Cass. 36.42.1–4. Phillips 1970: 597. On the question of whether quaestiones de ui existed at this time, see Lintott 1999a: 109–24. Phillips 1970: 597. 19 Phillips 1970: 597. 20 Nippel 1995: 51.

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and Manilius’ later willingness to defend himself by any and all means, including illegal ones, we might anticipate the same in our case too. Nevertheless, at first sight, the only detailed information we have about the tribune’s ‘tumult’ is that it involved his ‘occupation’ of the Capitol, an act which, in itself, was in no way illegal.21 As a tribune, Manilius had and could have used full authority to conduct both contiones and decisionmaking assemblies (comitia) and would not have needed to rely on physical force if he wanted simply to occupy the Capitol with his supporters. Nobody, especially not a quaestor, could legally prevent a tribune from conducting a public meeting.22 Thus, we do not know of any attempts to deal with Manilius by constitutional means. The only fact we have is that Domitius instead resorted to violence and violated the law. Even though Asconius and/or his sources imply that it was Manilius who initially took up arms, the actual facts they provide are more important than the labels (such as tumultus) used for describing the situation. It seems that this is a case of using the terms tumultus and coetus to refer to a legitimate meeting. By calling Manilius’ meeting a coetus, it was perhaps easier to explain why Domitius’ violent intervention was appropriate. If an armed rebellion had really taken place, however, and not just a contio controlled by Manilius’ supporters, then it would not be quite clear why such a provocative law was enacted in comitia under the presidency of the leader of the rebels just recently defeated.23 It is even less reasonable to believe that Manilius was the first to resort to violence, if Bert Lott and other scholars are right in stating that the tribune made the best use of the festival of Compitalia (the day when the coetus of his supporters was gathered). This festival was ‘primarily organized and celebrated by Rome’s lowest classes, slaves and freedmen’.24 ‘On Compitalia, the people who were most likely to support Manilius’ law were already out in the streets.’25 Such overwhelming support would 21

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Cf. the somewhat similar situation in the case of Gaius Gracchus. It is noteworthy that a late author even called his meeting on the Capitoline a contio (Oros. 5.12.5; see also App. B Civ. 1.24–5; De vir. ill. 65.5; Flor. 2.3; Plut. C. Gracch. 13–15). Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 7.17.4–5; Livy, 43.16.9; De vir. ill. 65.5, 73.2; Val. Max. 9.5.2. See Asc. 65C. Dio Cassius (36.42) does not mention any disturbance immediately before the passing of Manilius’ law. The notes in Dio that Manilius ‘had won over some of the populace’ (παρασκευάσας τινὰς ἐκ τοῦ ὁμίλου) and in Asc. 45C that he was ‘supported by a multitude of freedmen and slaves’ (subnixus libertinorum et seruorum manu) should not be seen in itself as a reliable indication of illegal actions and violence (cf. O’Neill 2001: 146; see also: Lintott 1999a: 134; Gruen 1995: 407–8; 439–40). Lott 2004: 35. 25 Lott 2004: 49–50; O’Neill 2001: 146–8.

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have both made it initially unnecessary for Manilius to resort to violence and compelled his enemies to use armed gangs.26 Earlier in 67 bc, according to Asconius and Dio Cassius, the tribune Gaius Cornelius was forced to dismiss a pre-comitial contio because of the attempts of another tribune, P. Servilius Globulus, and of the consul Piso to prevent the passage of Cornelius’ law.27 In this instance, Cornelius himself certainly did not use force, for he had dismissed the contio (termed here also as ‘people’s assembly’, concilium) as soon as the threat of escalation appeared, even though his contio strongly supported him when the bill was read out immediately before the voting.28 Manilius likewise held a very similar meeting of reliable partisans, but there are a couple of important differences. Firstly, Cicero’s attitude towards these two situations is not the same.29 Secondly, in Manilius’ case, his enemies did not try to impede the legislative process by having their own tribune work within the precomitial gathering, but instead they acted from the outside and resorted to violence against the whole meeting, which they cannot, therefore, have even hoped to win over.30 If the accusations against Manilius were really only the invention of his opponents, who themselves used force illegally, then coetus is here a label for a contio, lawfully convened by a tribune. Indeed, what else could this coetus be other than an official pre-comitial meeting? It is unnecessary to view coetus here as merely some group of troublemakers when Manilius was capable of conducting his own contio to prepare for the vote on his proposed law. If this is the case, then the bare fact of the use of the term

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Having said this, Cicero, who was probably trying to put Manilius ‘in the best light possible’ (Crawford 1994: 109), still acknowledges that many (multa) of Manilius’ deeds occasioned reproach. However, it is noteworthy that according to Cicero, the most important of them all (imprimis) was the ‘swiftness of his action’ (celeritas actionis): Cic. ap. Asc. 65C. That is, violating the requirements of the lex Caecilia Didia or, perhaps, the holding of comitia on an inappropriate day (on the Compitalia, see Crawford 1994: 106–9), but not the alleged use of violence. Asc. 58C: fracti eius fasces sunt lapidesque etiam ex ultima contione in consulem iacti: quo tumultu Cornelius perturbatus concilium dimisit actutum (‘his [Piso’s] rods of office were broken in pieces, and stones were thrown at the consul from the furthest fringes of the meeting. Confused by the tumult, Cornelius immediately dismissed the assembly’). Dio Cass. 36.39–40: ἰδών οὖν τὴν ὁρμὴν αὐτῶν ὁ Κορνήλιος, τότε μέν, πρὶν ἐπιψηφίσαι τι, διαφῆκε τὸν σύλλογον (‘So Cornelius, seeing their onrush, then dismissed the meeting before putting a question to the vote’). Cic. Vat. 5: num armatis hominibus templum tenuerit, num intercessorem ui deiecerit . . . constabat tamen Cornelium concilium illo die dimisisse (‘Did he occupy any temple with armed men? Did he drive out any opposing public official by violence? . . . It is, however, evident that Cornelius dismissed the assembly that day’). Cicero explained Cornelius’ actions in order to defend him, while he denounced Manilius in this case. Asconius’ word usage might have been influenced by this assessment. On the employment of a somewhat similar strategy by Publius Clodius, see Tan 2013.

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coetus on similar occasions cannot be immediately regarded as a secure and sufficient indication of the absence of a legally convoked contio. The suggestion that coetus might sometimes serve as a striking, pejorative synonym for nothing other than a contio sheds light on an interesting passage of Tacitus’ Annales.31 The meeting at which Germanicus speaks to the mutinous legions (in ad 14) is still designated a contio, even though it was not initially arranged according to maniples as would be expected (permixta uidebatur: Tac. Ann. 1.34). In the following passage, the meeting in question is also undoubtedly a contio, as it was convened by Germanicus himself. However, Tacitus has the general ask his rebellious soldiers: quod nomen huic coetui dabo?32 That the label coetus is not here a general or neutral term but a pejorative word specifically for contio is shown by Tacitus’ phrasing several lines earlier, in which he refers to unauthorised gatherings of legionaries in the same way – coetus (Tac. Ann. 1.16–20). Furthermore, Tacitus includes in this speech of Germanicus a reference to Julius Caesar’s successful attempt to suppress his mutinous legions by appealing to them as Quirites rather than milites.33 In Tacitus’ account, Germanicus shames his soldiers into submission through an even more powerful treatment: he is uncertain how he should define ‘that coetus’, questioning not only the status of the audience but also, as a result, the meeting itself. In the process, Germanicus denies the contio, which he himself convoked, of the right to be called a contio. Thus, not only was it the case that ‘whether or not a particular coetus was illegal depended on circumstances’, as Mueller rightly states, but it also depended on circumstances, as it seems, whether or not a particular coetus was an unauthorised gathering. The upshot of this is that use of this term alone, if other details are unknown, hardly says anything about the character of the meeting described. This conclusion does not contradict the observation that in some particular cases coetus indicates a meeting that otherwise, judged by its 31

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It is appropriate to mention this occurrence even though it concerns military contiones, since they definitely have political significance here. Tac. Ann. 1.42–3: quod nomen huic coetui dabo? militesne appellem, qui filium imperatoris uestri uallo et armis circumsedistis? an ciuis, quibus tam proiecta senatus auctoritas? . . . diuus Iulius seditionem exercitus uerbo uno compescuit, Quirites uocando qui sacramentum eius detrectabant (‘How shall I name this assemblage? Should I call you soldiers, you, who have surrounded the son of your general with rampart and arms? Should I address you as citizens, despite your having rejected the authority of the Senate? . . . The Divine Julius once restrained a mutiny of an army with a single word by naming those who were breaking their military oath ‘citizens’’). See Hölkeskamp 2013.

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characteristics, could be called a contio. In such instances, coetus is not a more general (in comparison to contio) or generic expression for any political meeting,34 nor is it a word for an illegal gathering. In passages such as the Manilius example, it seems that coetus is deliberately employed in place of the term contio to designate specifically an official and magisterial public meeting and that – since in this instance it does bear pejorative colouring – coetus is used to demonstrate the author’s or speaker’s negative assessment of a particular contio. This does not lead to the conclusion that coetus is a formal expression for contio. However, this label, even if it is not a ‘technical’ one, may nevertheless occasionally refer to meetings that are the usual referent of the term contio. This possibility is sometimes rejected too readily. Taking this into account may allow us to notice important evidence regarding the perceptions of reported events by political agents. The reverse situation is possible as well. In some passages, gatherings that usually are not considered by scholars as contiones, because they were organised by priuati, are either directly called contiones or are likened to them. Especially interesting are the instances in which the terms coetus and contio both indicate the same meeting. Let us again start with Cicero. He terms a meeting held by Catiline during his campaign for the consulship a contio domestica, despite Catiline being only a priuatus.35 According to Tatum, this expression is ‘a striking oxymoron’. He argues: ‘It plainly does not evoke a sequence of private conversations but instead a performance before an audience, albeit a private one.’ Tatum suggests that what Cicero called a contio domestica might actually be a ceremonial visit (salutatio) in the context of Catiline’s electioneering. Cicero ‘hoped his hearers would instead associate this assembly with Catiline’s sinister nocturnal sessions’ (which in fact he organised only later).36 I would agree with Tatum that by using the term contio, Cicero tried to underline the specific character of that gathering, not only its organisation, but also its political ramifications, which were uncommon for a salutatio held in the home of a private individual. Even though this meeting, unlike the unauthorised plebeian gatherings described by Livy (see below), might not actually be that serious, Cicero was interested in making it appear incredibly dangerous. 34 35

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As it is used, for instance, in a definition of contio: Gell. NA. 18.7.3. Cic. Mur. 50: meministis enim, cum illius nefarii gladiatoris uoces percrebruissent quas habuisse in contione domestica dicebatur (‘You certainly remember, how the words of that nefarious gladiator, which he was said to have used at a domestic meeting, went public’). Tatum 2013: 146–7. See also Fantham 2013: 154.

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To give this impression, alongside the word coetus, he uses the term contio.37 In this context, Sallust’s report about a meeting of armed Catilinarians in Etruria in 62 bc before the decisive battle is particularly interesting (Cat. 57). When Catiline left Rome, he still remained a priuatus.38 Nonetheless, the meeting in Etruria was explicitly called a contio.39 No pejorative form or any other specialising words were used that could have indicated a gathering in a format different from that of magisterial contiones. Though scholars usually admit the possibility of the convocation of military contiones by private individuals (military commanders and officers), in this case a leader of armed rebels is in question.40 Catiline was not officially appointed a commander. Moreover, he not only called the troops together without permission, but he also openly opposed legally elected magistrates and the Senate with armed forces.41 If so, why does Sallust use the term contio in this case, and not a less clear expression such as ‘in the manner of a public meeting’ (in contionis modum)? Note that the meeting in Etruria took place in daylight and was not held in secret. Catiline was at the head of an army that recognised his leadership, including, therefore, his right to conduct meetings. Since the gathering was not only open and public but also consisted of armed men, at the very least (if the question of its legality is put aside), it bore a strong resemblance to military contiones. It seems that this term once more helped to express the fundamental likeness of one particular unauthorised gathering to a magisterial (here: military) contio, definitely 37

38

39

40

41

Sallust, by contrast, uses a more general term conuentus (Cat. 20–1). In 64 bc, Cicero himself described a gathering in a private residence during electioneering such as Catiline’s differently, saying only: domum Catilinam et Antonium cum sequestribus suis conuenisse (‘Catiline and Antonius met with their followers in the house’; ap. Asc. 83C). Perhaps the formula ‘domestic contio’ was an ‘invention’ of Cicero, later borrowed by Livy (see also Tatum 2013: 147, n. 56, and below). Cicero, describing the 63 bc gathering of the Catilinarians, termed it ‘nefarious assemblage’ (coetus nefarius; Cat. 1.6, 10). Here the absence of the label contio might be a result of the self-evident political threat (explained so vividly by Cicero) posed by a meeting of conspirators, especially in comparison to the previous year’s gathering, which, as Tatum suggests, may in fact have merely been regular salutationes. Though according to Appian (B Civ. 2.3) Catiline had some of his supporters precede him with fasces as if he were a proconsul (see also Sall. Cat. 36.1). As reported by Dio Cassius, Catiline styled himself a consul (37.33). Sall. Cat. 57.6: itaque contione aduocata huiusce modi orationem habuit (‘Thus, after he convened a meeting, he made a speech like this’). Concerning this example, see Pina Polo 1989: 200, 335, n. 81 (the meeting of Catiline is listed among the military contiones). Cf. the occurrence of 212 bc, when, after the death of their commanders in Hispania, the remnant of the Roman army was led by L. Marcius Septimus, eques Romanus, who (according to Livy, 25.37–9) repeatedly summoned contiones.

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not to indicate sarcasm or ironical comparison. The threat from the conspirators was too serious and recent for facetiousness. It is remarkable that despite our sources’ hostility to Catiline, and despite, more importantly, his defeat, Sallust does not use any pejorative constructions to describe the meeting of the Catilinarians. Perhaps this helps the historian to assess positively Catiline’s capabilities as a military leader; even the apparent illegality of his actions was not an obstacle here. In my view, this case again demonstrates that the aim of ancient authors when referring to such gatherings by ‘legitimising terms’ was, first of all, to stress their significance (and dangerous nature) and some organisational specificity, and only after those to hint that the assemblages did not meet certain rules or standards. A contrasting example from Tacitus’ Annales demonstrates this perfectly. On the one hand, unauthorised, night-time and restricted gatherings of soldiers were called coetus and, specifically, ‘night-time conversations’ (nocturna conloquia). This description makes their illegality already evident enough for a reader. On the other hand, the organiser of gatherings that resulted in apparently more significant and dangerous mass public assemblies was described not just as an instigator of coetus and nocturna conloquia but as a ringleader delivering a speech ‘as though holding a public meeting’ (uelut contionabundus: Tac. Ann. 1.16–20). Such a direct linkage between contio and coetus can also be found in Livy’s account. Thus, Livy (2.27–8) narrates the conducting of coetus nocturni by the plebeians, whose aim was to coordinate their subsequent joint actions in the Forum in the daytime.42 According to the annalistic tradition, by this time – not long after the foundation of the Republic (495/ 494 bc) – there was already talk among the plebeians of secession. Even more pernicious, according to Livy, were the secret meetings they held (occulta conloquia and coetus nocturni). Livy tells us that the senators blamed the consuls for their inability to prevent these meetings from occurring, lamenting that ‘the Republic had been scattered and dissipated into a thousand curiae and contiones’, thereby likening these coetus to officially sanctioned contiones.43 Why would Livy do this?

42

43

There is no opportunity here to discuss the historicity of the event or the problem of the legality of those assemblages, although already the terminology is revealing. Livy, 2.27.13–28.3: crescere inde malum in dies, non clamoribus modo apertis sed, quod multo perniciosius erat, secessione occultisque conloquiis . . . tum uero plebs incerta quales habitura consules esset, coetus nocturnos, pars Esquiliis, pars in Auentino facere, ne in foro subitis trepidaret consiliis et omnia temere ac fortuito ageret. eam rem consules rati, ut erat, perniciosam ad patres deferunt, sed delatam consulere ordine non licuit; adeo tumultuose excepta est clamoribus undique et indignatione patrum, si quod imperio consulari exsequendum esset, inuidiam eius consules ad senatum reicerent: profecto si essent in re

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Mueller believes that the term contiones is used here instead of coetus, the label employed for the same gatherings in the preceding and subsequent passages. The ‘vocabulary of legitimate assembly’ is applied ‘by way of disparaging sarcasm’.44 O’Neill, too, sees in this instance the figure of sarcasm or irony, though he suggests that under cover of the term contiones Livy actually meant circuli, in this case referring to small ‘circles’ of men chatting about politics.45 However, sarcasm does not fit with the overall panic mood of the passage. What if, instead of ‘disparaging sarcasm’, we detect here a straightforward likening of plebeian coetus to official contiones, the resemblance being based on their actual similarity in terms of political significance and non-decision-making nature? Even if we assumed the possibility of sarcasm or at least some kind of irony in this passage, Livy’s most important message would not be that these night-time plebeian gatherings were actually unauthorised (this is so by definition) but that they were so dangerous and influenced the res publica to such an extent that they became commensurable with magisterial contiones and threatened to become a substitute for the public meeting (publicum concilium) and so a challenge to the power of the Senate and to the existence of the Republic itself.46 The use of the word contio in this context immediately signals to the reader the destructive capabilities of plebeian assemblages uncontrolled by patrician magistrates. The idea that Livy compares unauthorised coetus and official contiones seriously rather than ironically may be confirmed further by another example of the linked usage of both terms in Livy’s fourth book. Spurius

44 46

publica magistratus, nullum futurum fuisse Romae nisi publicum concilium; nunc in mille curias contionesque dispersam et dissipatam esse rem publicam (‘From that time the trouble grew with every passing day, not only by open clamours, but also by secession and by secret assemblages, which was much more destructive . . . Under such circumstances, the plebs, uncertain what kind of consuls they would be, conducted nocturnal assemblages, some on the Esquiline and others on the Aventine, in order not to be confused in the Forum by hasty judgements or do everything at random and accidentally. The consuls considered this dangerous, as it was indeed, and reported the affair to the Senate. However, it was impossible to discuss it properly, so disorderly was it received, with shouts from everywhere and with the senators’ indignation, that even though this affair ought to have been accomplished by consular authority, the consuls brought on the Senate the hostility, displayed towards themselves. It was certain that if only there were true magistrates in the state, there would have been no meeting but the public meeting, but now the Republic was scattered and dissipated into a thousand curias and meetings’). Mueller 2004: 82–3. 45 O’Neill 2001: 100–2, 271–2. Cf. O’Neill 2001: 101–2. Ironically, according to the logic of Livy’s subsequent account, eventually it was these plebeian assemblages that led to a fundamental change in the constitution – the establishment of the plebeian tribunate. Without mentioning night-time gatherings, it would be completely unclear why this change had even happened.

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Maelius is said to have hosted gatherings of plebeians, at which they discussed the seizure of power, in his own house.47 Livy refers to these meetings as both ‘plebeian coetus in a private house’ (coetus plebis in priuata domo) and ‘domestic contiones’ (contiones domi) within the same chapter. In my view, this is simply because the gatherings described here had such significant political ramifications that they seemed perfectly comparable with magisterial contiones, despite their being reportedly conducted in a private residence.48 One can hardly imagine a situation less appropriate for ironic or ambiguous remarks. Thus, whatever were the organisational or institutional differences between these domestic contiones/coetus and magisterial public meetings, there should be the above-mentioned similarities between them, which in this particular case made Livy use not one of the numerous vague expressions for political gatherings but rather the precise term contio. Finally, Livy’s account of the Bacchanalian affair of 186 bc is even more revealing. Though the nocturni coetus of the Bacchanals certainly were not (yet?) political meetings, they threatened the whole socio-political order. This is why Livy puts a menacing warning into the consul’s mouth: ‘this contio legally convened by a consul in the daylight will be confronted by a night-time contio’.49 In this statement, the reason for the comparison of Bacchanalian coetus with official contiones is expressed in the clearest way. To paraphrase Livy’s own words: these coetus might attain such massive political importance that they would replace legal assemblies. The fact that they had nothing to do with ‘proper’ meetings at this point is already obvious for Livy’s readers and should be taken for granted by them. Consequently, the ‘legitimising vocabulary’ is aimed not at stressing the meetings’ illegality ironically, nor at differentiating them from official assemblies, but, on the contrary, is intended to show that nocturni coetus 47

48

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Livy, 4.13.8–10 (440–438 bc): hic Minucius . . . ad senatum defert: tela in domum Maeli conferri, eumque contiones domi habere, ac non dubia regni consilia esse . . . quae postquam sunt audita, cum undique primores patrum et prioris anni consules increparent quod eas largitiones coetusque plebis in priuata domo passi essent fieri, et nouos consules (‘This Minucius . . . reported to the Senate that weapons were gathered at Maelius’ house, that he convened meetings there, and that there certainly were consultations about kingship . . . On hearing this the leading senators reproved the consuls of the previous year, since they allowed distributions and plebeian assemblages in a private house, and the new consuls’). Cf. Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 12.1–4. This peculiarity was already enough to show their potential ‘wrongness’. However, Orosius uses the very same phrase, contio domi (perhaps borrowing this peculiar expression from one of the earlier writers), to describe a domestic meeting called by a public official, the seditious plebeian tribune Saturninus (Oros. 5.17.6; cf. Flor. 2.4.4). Thus, contio domi serves as a ready pattern for the description of rebellious preparations made by whomever, officials or private individuals. Livy, 39.16.4: huic diurnae, legitime ab consule uocatae, par nocturna contio esse poterit.

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were so similar to magisterial contiones in terms of their political significance and mechanics that they sometimes deserved the same label. In the Roman narrative tradition, descriptions of two types of political non-decision-making meetings may be marked out: ‘proper’ and ‘legitimate’ (uerus, legitimus) versus ‘wrong’ and ‘pernicious’ (nefarius, perniciosus, etc.). The boundary between these was largely defined by the biased appraisal of ancient authors. The point is that among the ‘wrong’ we see both unauthorised meetings organised by priuati (as in the narrative about Catiline) and contiones summoned by public officials (as, probably, was the case of Manilius and, certainly, from Cicero’s point of view, of many other tribunes). Unofficial gatherings were evaluated negatively (when an author was interested in doing this) merely perhaps on the pretext that priuati interfered in politics, assuming the role of independent, active organisers of political communication in a form at the very least strikingly similar to that of magisterial contiones. However, even some of the latter could at times be denounced if a magistrate implemented his power to conduct contiones without impediment (potestas contionandi) ‘in the wrong way’.50 Terminology is here a tool partly to describe the actual features of political meetings and partly to evaluate them according to the political aims and preferences of a given author or his sources. In a recent article, Flower comments on the use of the phrase ‘by subdivisions’ (κατὰ μέρος) in Appian’s work, in the passage about Tiberius Gracchus’ agitation in Rome (B Civ. 1.14.3). According to Flower, here κατὰ μέρος indicates that Tiberius ‘turned to city divisions, rather than to individual citizens’. Flower sees neighbourhoods (uici) and professional associations (collegia) in these divisions and makes interesting suggestions about how such kinds of ‘local’ political communication might have been implemented technically.51 This reconstruction seems plausible, but why do we know so little about such gatherings and sometimes even have to prove first whether they ever happened? While the traits of such assemblages (not exactly unofficial but also not conducted by a magistrate of the people or a plebeian tribune) are certainly visible in the passage analysed by Flower, in most other similar cases the evidence is less clear. In my view, this might be a direct result of their mostly restricted or local importance. Even though taken together such gatherings might significantly influence the political life of the Republic, any single meeting of that kind was not important in terms of describing the overall stream of events that our sources tend to narrate. However, if one particular gathering on 50

Cf. Pina Polo 1989: 43–53.

51

Flower 2013.

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the initiative of a priuatus (or, maybe, of a local official) acquired general political significance for some reason, then ancient authors would report it simply in order to explain the causes and outcomes of events. This being the case, it is no wonder that we know almost exclusively about unusually influential unauthorised meetings and consultations, unique among other such gatherings. The need to emphasise the uncommon political significance of these (as a rule) ‘wrong’ meetings often leads Cicero, Livy and others to employ terminology usually applied to magisterial assemblies.

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chapter 13

Servilia’s Consilium Rhetoric and Politics in a Family Setting Harriet Flower

quam orationem cum ingressus essem, Cassius interuenit. ego eadem illi repetiui.1 Cic. Att. 15.11.1 (SB 389)

The much-anticipated new edition of the fragments of the Roman Republican orators will undoubtedly yield a reassessment of many topics in Roman political culture. It has already prompted me to reconsider the issue of rhetoric within the setting of the family or domestic consilium. By consilium, I mean a meeting called by an individual (or perhaps in practice often by a group of related individuals and their close friends) to talk about a course of action that needed to be decided upon.2 In a pattern typical of the Latin language, the word consilium can designate both a meeting designed to gather opinions and the kind of advice given and received in this setting.3 Traditional examples of issues to be settled might include a marriage, a divorce, the purchase of a piece of property or a more overtly political matter of concern to the family group.4 Alternatively, alleged delinquency, such as misbehaving sons or adulterous women, may have led to quasi-forensic speeches being delivered before a punishment was imposed by the family. Conversations within a private I thank the following for help and suggestions for this chapter: Michael Flower, Richard Marshall, Amy Russell, Catherine Steel, Henriette van der Blom, the anonymous readers for Cambridge University Press and the audience at the FRRO conference in London in 2014. 1 ‘I was well launched on this speech when Cassius came in. I repeated to him what I had already said.’ 2 For general discussion of Roman consilia, see Liebenam RE s.v. consilium, Voss in BNP and especially Johnston 2008. 3 OLD and TLL for consilium yield the following range of primary meanings: counsel, advice, advisory body, reason, purpose, plan, stratagem, resolution, will, judgement, prudence. 4 In addition to the material to be studied below, another example of a consilium (or a series of discussions) involving Servilia would presumably have occurred when Pompey (Plut. Pomp. 44 and Cat. min. 30.3–5) offered a marriage alliance with Cato in the late 60s bc. The women were eager, but Cato adamantly refused. This is another interesting family matter that would have had significant political implications, as Cato’s female relatives could appreciate.

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context are obviously not an easy topic to investigate, since we are not informed in much detail about what was discussed in such settings, let alone about how opinions were usually presented to the assembled group of friends and relatives. Even with regard to the Senate, by far the most influential and the largest consilium in Rome, we have few detailed descriptions of debates from the Republican period, hardly any evidence of record-keeping before Caesar and not many extant published speeches.5 Nevertheless, it stands to reason that many questions put to the Senate by a magistrate would already have been discussed in at least one private consilium (which is to say, one called by this same man), if not several in the case of a controversial issue that many leading Romans were talking about among themselves. In other words, part of my interest in the ‘conversations’ that took place in private settings springs from their relationship with an eventual debate in the Senate or even with a public speech (contio) before the people, where many of the same opinions would be presented, after having been discussed and honed in front of a more intimate and friendly audience. Striking and unusual glimpses of such private but very political consilia can be found in two well-known letters of Cicero, written within a period of about eighteen months after Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 bc. Both meetings involved the families of Caesar’s assassins, including notably Servilia, the older half-sister of M. Porcius Cato (who had committed suicide at Utica in April 46 bc) and mother of Marcus Brutus, a leader in the plot to kill Caesar. Cicero had not been included by any family members in the original conspiracy against Caesar, a course of action that had presumably been discussed and debated by many of the same people in a series of conversations on different occasions. He was, however, invited to each of these subsequent meetings and recorded partial descriptions, of the first in a letter to his best friend Atticus and of the second when he was writing to Brutus himself. Times were trying and decisions were genuinely hard to make, as the ‘Liberators’ faced a political situation increasingly dominated by Marcus Antonius (still consul in 44 bc) and by the young Octavian, Caesar’s legal heir.6 For those of us operating with hindsight, the looming threat of military defeat, political miscalculation and the formation of a new triumvirate can seem all too evident. Nevertheless, I will focus on a few indications of how such a consilium 5

6

For the Republican Senate, see Lintott 1999b: 65–88; Santangelo 2006; Jehne 2013a; Steel 2014a, 2014b. For politics after the Ides, see Gotter 1996; Osgood 2006; Welch 2012.

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was organized and how it unfolded from a logistical point of view and, therefore, how opinions were expressed in this context. So I want to relegate the political issues to the background, at least for the moment, however fascinating they continue to be. The first meeting took place at Antium, a harbour town on the coast of Latium some sixty kilometres (about thirty-seven miles) from Rome, in early June 44 bc. Cicero is writing to Atticus, who was himself closer to Servilia than Cicero was: Antium ueni ante H. VI. Bruto iucundus noster aduentus. deinde multis audientibus, Seruilia, Tertulla, Porcia, quaerere quid placeret. aderat etiam Fauonius. ego, quod eram meditatus in uia, suadere ut uteretur Asiatica curatione frumenti; nihil esse iam reliqui quod ageremus nisi ut saluus esse; in eo etiam ipsi rei publicae esse praesidium. quam orationem cum ingressus essem, Cassius interuenit. ego eadem illa repetiui. hoc loco fortibus sane oculis Cassius (Martem spirare diceres) se in Siciliam non iturum. ‘egone ut beneficium accepissem contumeliam?’ ‘quid ergo agis?’ inquam. at ille in Achaiam se iturum. ‘quid tu’ inquam, ‘Brute?’ ‘Romam’ inquit ‘si tibi uidetur.’ ‘mihi uero minime; tuto enim non eris.’ ‘quid? si possem esse, placeretne?’ ‘atque ut omnino neque nunc neque ex praetura in prouinciam ires; sed auctor non sum ut te urbi committas.’ dicebam ea quae tibi profecto in mentem ueniunt cur non esset tuto futurus. multo inde sermone quaerebantur, atque id quidem Cassius maxime, amissas occasiones Decimumque grauiter accusabant. ea negabam oportere praeterita, adsentiebar tamen. cumque ingressus essem dicere quid oportuisset, nec uero quicquam noui sed ea quae cottidie omnes, nec tamen illum locum attingerem, quemquam praeterea oportuisse tangi, sed senatum uocare, populum ardentem studio uehementius incitare, totam suscipere rem publicam, exclamat tua familiaris ‘hoc uero neminem umquam audiui!’ ego repressi. sed et Cassius mihi uidebatur iturus (etenim Seruilia pollicebatur se curaturam ut illa frumenti curatio de senatus consulto tolleretur) et noster Brutus cito deiectus est de illo inani sermone uelle esse dixerat. constituit igitur ut ludi absente se fierent suo nomine. proficisci autem mihi in Asiam uidebatur ab Antio uelle.7 (Cic. Att. 15.11.1–2 [SB 389]; sent from Antium [?]) 7

‘I came to Antium before the sixth hour (noon). Brutus was glad to see me. Then in front of many listeners, including Servilia, Tertulla, and Porcia, he asked me what my advice to him was. Favonius too was present. I gave the advice I had prepared on the way, to accept the Asiatic grain commission. I said his safety was all that concerned us now; he himself was the defence of the Republic. I was well launched on this speech when Cassius came in. I repeated to him what I had already said, whereupon Cassius, with a fierce expression on his face (the picture of a warrior) said that he had no intention of going to Sicily. “Should I have taken an insult as though it was a favour?” “What do you intend to do then?” I said. He replied that he would go to Greece. “How about you, Brutus?” I said. “To Rome,” he answered, “if you agree.” “But I don’t agree at all. You will not be safe there.” “Well, supposing I could be safe, would you approve?” “Of course, and what is more I should be against your leaving

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Cicero says that many were present (multis audientibus) in the setting of a seaside villa. These participants, most of whom are unnamed, included (at least) three prominent women: Servilia herself, her daughter Junia Tertia (here called Tertulla, the wife of Cassius) and her niece Porcia (daughter of Cato, married to Marcus Brutus since the previous year).8 Less than three months after the Ides of March, the question was whether Brutus and Cassius should leave Italy or stay in Rome to face an increasingly volatile political situation and an openly hostile populus. The ‘Liberators’ had thought that ordinary people in Rome would be content to see the tyrant Caesar die; they had miscalculated. Spontaneous popular reaction of grief and outrage had only been reinforced by the theatrical funeral staged for Caesar by Antonius, who had undertaken the role of chief mourner.9 A grain commission had now been offered in a senatus consultum as a way to allow Brutus and Cassius to leave Italy for a while in an official capacity (or to get rid of them, depending on one’s point of view).10 Cicero has obviously been specifically summoned for this meeting, and he knows beforehand what the question under discussion is. But the proceedings already seem well under way when he arrives before the middle of the day (ueni ante horam sextam), a day that would have had about fifteen hours of daylight in early June in this area of Italy. Shackleton Bailey thinks that he probably came from nearby Astura rather than all the way from for a province either now or after your praetorship. But I do not advise you to risk going to Rome.” I went on to give reasons, which no doubt occur to you, why he would not be safe.’ ‘A lot of talk followed, in which they complained, Cassius especially, about the lost opportunities, and Decimus [Brutus] came in for severe criticism. To that I said it was no use talking about the past, but I did agree with what had been said. And when I began to give my views on what should have been done (nothing original, only what everyone is saying all the time), not however ever mentioning that someone else [M. Antonius] ought to have been taken care of, only that they should have summoned the Senate, urged the popular enthusiasm to action with greater vigour, assumed leadership of the whole state, your girl friend [Servilia] exclaimed, “Well, I never heard anyone say that before!” I stopped speaking. But it looked to me as though Cassius would go (moreover Servilia promised to get the grain commission removed from the Senate’s decree), and our friend Brutus was soon persuaded to drop his empty talk about wanting to be in Rome. He therefore decided that the games should be held under his name but in his absence. It looked to me as though he was willing to go to Asia from Antium.’ 8 Servilia (RE 101): mother of Marcus Brutus (see Fündling in BNP; Fehrle 1983: 54–8; Osgood 2014: 47–52). Junia Tertia or Tertulla (RE 206): Servilia’s daughter, half-sister of Marcus Brutus, wife of Cassius. Porcia (RE 28): daughter of Cato, wife of Marcus Brutus. For more detailed discussion of their family trees, see Geiger 1973 and Harders 2007a, 2007b. Servilia did not approve of her son’s divorce from his previous wife Claudia Pulchra and marriage to his cousin Porcia (Cic. Att. 13.22.4 (SB 329)). One wonders whether Servilia was invited to the consilium at which this political realignment was decided upon. 9 For Caesar’s funeral, see Flower 1996: 125–6 with references. 10 Cura annonae: Cic. Att. 15.9.1 (SB 387), 15.10 (SB 388), Appian, B Civ. 3.6, 4.57.

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Rome.11 His wording perhaps implies that his journey was not short and had been undertaken for this specific purpose. If Cicero was travelling fast, he might have been able to arrive before midday after spending only one night on the way from Rome. In any case, wherever he was coming from, he took time to prepare his presentation during his ‘journey (in uia)’.12 No summary is given of what he has missed from the remarks made before his arrival, nor are we told whether someone briefed him about the conversation before he started to speak. It is unclear whether the many listeners are each also expecting to speak or to express their opinions in a simpler way, such as through a show of hands or by acclamation. It is notable that so few individuals are named and that of these three are women, who are mentioned without any tone of surprise.13 It seems ambiguous who asks Cicero to speak, apparently soon after he arrives. Perhaps it is Brutus, but it could well be Servilia herself or even a more informal invitation on the part of the assembled group. Cicero’s role may be that of an ‘invited speaker’ who makes a presentation of his own to the group rather than a person expecting to participate in the whole discussion and decision-making process on an equal footing. Cicero tells us that he has prepared his remarks on the subject while on his journey (quod eram meditatus in uia), whether simply in his mind or with the use of notes or of a secretary.14 He calls his presentation a speech (quam orationem cum ingressus essem). Perhaps unsurprisingly, he has the facility to repeat what he has just said when Cassius arrives late (ego eadem illa repetiui). This exercise does not seem to inconvenience him but may be addressed to Cassius separately rather than to the whole group; apparently he has been invited to start again from the beginning. There follows a lively and vividly described debate between Cicero and his friends, Brutus and Cassius. Other ‘speeches’ seem to follow, most notably one made by Cassius (maxime). However, the speakers now 11

12

13 14

Shackleton Bailey ad loc. Cicero had sold his own house at Antium by this time. See Cic. Att. 15.12 (SB 390) for a reference to Astura. Obviously, the tone is somewhat different if he came from Astura (c. seventeen kilometres) or from Rome (c. sixty kilometres). See the Stanford ORBIS project (Scheidel and Meeks 2012) for travel times within the Roman Empire, which suggests thirty-six kilometres a day as reasonable for ‘routine private vehicular travel with convenient rest stops’ and fifty kilometres a day for ‘accelerated private vehicular traffic’. By comparison, Cic. Rosc. Am. 19 records a fast journey for a single rider of fifty-six Roman miles (c. eighty-three kilometres) in about ten hours. Is Cicero suggesting to his friend Atticus that he spent a long time preparing or that he only needed a relatively short time to pull his ‘speech’ together? For the influence of women at the time, see now Brennan 2012 and especially Osgood 2014. Pliny the Elder is described as making constant use of a secretary, including while he was travelling (Plin. Ep. 3.5, cf. 9.36).

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seem to range across a variety of topics, especially various criticisms of past actions and of persons not present (Decimus Brutus), rather than sticking to the question that is apparently the real object of the discussion.15 Nevertheless, it may be that each speaker did (at least) start by addressing the question as posed to the assembled friends, before taking the opportunity to insert his own thoughts about the political situation and how they had come to this point. Then Cicero speaks again (cumque ingressus essem dicere quid oportuisset), or perhaps we should see this section as a continuation of his previous remarks after an interruption. He gives only a very compact summary in indirect speech. Although Cicero represents himself as advising the audience not to dwell on the past (negabam oportere praeterita), he then seems himself to have gone on to talk about all the opportunities the ‘Liberators’ had missed after the Ides of March. This part of the letter seems to allude again to a formal presentation that is also ‘prepared’ and at some length. It is this second rhetorical exercise that is suddenly interrupted by Servilia herself (exclamat tua familiaris), although it remains unclear how much more Cicero might have gone on to say if she had not intervened. It is hard to be sure exactly what she objected to in Cicero’s speech; perhaps it was his whole advice that they should effectively have staged a coup immediately after Caesar’s death. He quotes her as saying: hoc uero neminem umquam audiui! (‘well, I never heard anyone say that before!’ – rather than Shackleton Bailey’s ‘well, upon my word! I never heard the like!’). The stress is obviously on hoc as the first word in the sentence but also distinctly on nobody (neminem). In this very Roman context, Servilia deftly isolates Cicero, who is uncharacteristically defensive in his description of this part of the conversation, at least as addressed to Atticus. She says: ‘truly I heard no person say this before’. Within a culture that stressed influence, particularly in the form of personal authority and a rhetorical skill that naturally created consensus, these words were especially pointed.16 We may imagine that Servilia is being quite rude in what she says, as well as in how and when she says it. In fact, Cicero seems then to decide not to say more. He writes: ego repressi. The me is an editorial addition here, but it seems likely given the tone. The alternative scenario, which would have Cicero in turn now interrupt Servilia, does not seem to fit in with the logic of what happens next in the exchange of ideas. 15 16

Strauss 2015 ascribes a significant role in the murder of Caesar to Decimus Brutus (RE 55a). For consensus in Roman politics, see Flower 2014.

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Others, including again Cassius, now speak. Servilia herself has something to say and confidently promises to have the grain commission removed from the senatus consultum (obviously through indirect influence, since she is not a senator herself!). It is not clear that she managed to achieve this.17 Nevertheless, Cicero mentions her undertaking as if there were nothing at all surprising or unusual about it. Similarly, she is listed as a speaker on the same level as the others. It would obviously be interesting to know whether she also gave a prepared speech. Brutus is persuaded (presumably mainly by others rather than by Cicero?) to give up the risky idea of returning to Rome. Servilia’s intervention has obviously attracted much scholarly interest; it may provide further indication that this was indeed ‘her’ consilium. There is plenty of evidence in Cicero’s correspondence for her representation of Brutus’ and Cassius’ interests while they were abroad. Ultimately, and rather frustratingly for us, however, the letter to Atticus only really describes Cicero’s role in any detail, although we may imagine a debate that went on for much of that long summer day, presumably punctuated by planned breaks and by unanticipated interruptions for arrivals and departures, perhaps also by orchestrated opportunities for private conversation between speeches, and by various meals. Questions of overall timing (essentially unanswerable) are inevitably raised by any consideration of the format at Antium. How long was Cicero’s speech? How long was the entire consilium supposed to take? Was a whole day the usual time frame or a response to a crisis? Cicero’s aim in writing is to give a personal account to his best friend of what he himself said and how he fared. We only catch glimpses, or rather overhear brief snippets, of the heated arguments that were interspersed with more formal speeches, presented in form and content not completely unlike ones in the Senate (or even in more public venues). Overall, however, Cicero is scathing in his verdict on the whole proceedings. A few sentences later, he even exclaims, ‘no plan, no logic, no order’ (nihil consilio, nihil ratione, nihil ordine). Shackleton Bailey translates this as ‘no plan, no thought, no method’. This can easily be interpreted as a comment on the outcome but should perhaps be taken as equally, if not more, applicable to the procedure in itself. In fact, Brutus did not run the risk of returning to Rome, although 17

See Cic. Att. 16.4.4 (SB 411) with Welch 2012: 134 and Osgood 2014: 179, n. 33. Gotter 1996: 71, n. 8, thinks that Brutus wanted to go abroad anyway and that Servilia was looking for a more honourable way of achieving this goal than what had been offered so far. In other words, he sees the most pressing decision as already having been made before the consilium was called.

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perhaps not for the very reasons that Cicero had advanced. Obviously, Cicero is generally apprehensive of the political situation, and with good reason. But he is also unhappy about the whole tenor of the conversation and about the reception of his carefully crafted advice, spoken from his position as a senior consular. He is disappointed that his speech was not better received by this audience, presumably for a variety of interconnected reasons that were related to his personal standing, his careful preparation, his expert delivery, as well as the actual content of his remarks. The second occasion Cicero writes about is a consilium definitely called by Servilia herself in Rome, so presumably at her town house, a little over a year later, on 25 July 43 bc: rogatus sum a prudentissima et diligentissima femina, matre tua, cuius omnes curae ad te referuntur et in te consumuntur, ut uenire ad se a. d. VIII Kal. Sext.; quod ego, ut debui, sine mora feci. cum autem uenissem, Casca aderat et Labeo et Scaptius. at illa rettulit quaesiuitque quidnam mihi uideretur, accerseremusne te atque id tibi conducere putaremus an tardare et commorari te melius esset. respondi id quod sentiebam, et dignitati et existimationi tuae maxime conducere te primo quoque tempore ferre praesidium labenti et inclinatae paene rei publicae.18 (Cic. Ad Brut. 1.18 [SB 24]; sent from Rome to M. Brutus in Greece, 27 July 43 bc)

The group appears much smaller (only three men are named), and Cicero again seems to arrive when proceedings were already underway.19 The question is whether Brutus should return to Italy bringing his army with him: an invasion is at issue.20 Memories of Sulla seem inevitable, albeit unexpressed, and treason hangs heavily in the air. The atmosphere is tense; every course of action is fraught with danger. The meeting is described in much less detail and in a very different tone, since Cicero is writing to Brutus himself rather than to a third party. Cicero’s friendship 18

19

20

‘That very prudent and careful woman your mother, whose every care begins and ends with you, asked me to visit her on the eighth day before the kalends of Sextilis (25 July). I did so without delay, as I was obliged to do. But when I had arrived, Casca, Labeo and Scaptius were already there. Your mother put the question and asked: What did I think? Should we send for you, and did we consider this to be in your best interests, or was it better that you should take your time and hold back? In reply, I gave my considered opinion, that it was in the highest degree advantageous to your personal prestige and reputation that you should come to the aid of our tottering and almost collapsing Republic at the earliest possible moment.’ P. Servilius Casca Longus (RE 53) had been the first to strike Caesar on the Ides of March. Q. (or Pacuvius) Antistius Labeo (RE 35), father of the Augustan jurist, chose not to survive Brutus. For Brutus’ agent and business associate M. Scaptius, see Andreau 1999: 15 and 17. See Welch 2012 for a general discussion of various possible plans to isolate or invade Italy in the years after Caesar’s death.

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with Brutus is also not of the same kind as his relationship with Atticus, to whom he wrote more frankly than to any of his other correspondents. In this case Servilia is described as putting the question more formally (at illa rettulit quaesiuitque quidnam mihi uideretur): is it better to call Brutus home or to tell him to wait (accerseremusne te atque id tibi conducere putaremus an tardare et commorari te melius esset)? Cicero gives a summary of his advice in indirect speech in a single compressed sentence: respondi id quod sentiebam, et dignitati et existimationi tuae maxime conducere te primo quoque tempore ferre praesidium labenti et inclinatae rei publicae. In light of the previous letter and of the seriousness of the subject under discussion, it is reasonable to imagine Cicero gave this advice also in a formal speech, this time apparently without being interrupted before he finished what he had to say. The setting in town and the very dangerous, not to say treasonous, proposals under discussion may have contributed to the more subdued and formal tone. No other speakers or points of view are described. It is interesting to see Cicero included again, despite the fact that his viewpoint had obviously not met with Servilia’s approval on that previous occasion. A year later, his participation is apparently deemed integral to this intimate inner circle of Brutus’ relatives and friends, but he again failed to convince. Yet each consilium inevitably recalls the fact that Cicero was not consulted before the Ides and was apparently taken unawares by Caesar’s murder, which he did not himself witness. Previously, Cicero had been close with the family and had written in praise of Cato after his suicide at Utica (at Brutus’ request) and had also composed a funeral eulogy (laudatio) for Porcia (Cato’s sister, wife of L. Domitius Ahenobarbus), who had died late in 46 or early in 45 bc.21 But then we may imagine that Servilia herself, a (former?) lover of Caesar, would most probably not have been a party to the conspiracy of her son, whose life Caesar had apparently taken care to save after the battle of Pharsalus, specifically at her request.22 On the one hand, both letters focus rather precisely on Cicero’s own role and reflect his very focused and specific priorities, with the result that they offer only a partial picture with a distinct perspective. On the 21

22

For Cicero’s Cato, see Cic. Orat. 35 and Att. 12.21.1 (SB 260) with Fehrle 1983: 322–4 for all the testimonia and fragments; Brutus also wrote a eulogy of his own. For Cicero’s laudatio for Porcia (RE 27), see Att. 13.37.3 (SB 346), 13.48.2 (SB 345). Caesar twice intervened on behalf of Brutus: Cic. Att. 2.24.3 (SB 44) and Plut. Brut. 5.1. For Caesar’s famous affair with Servilia, see Suet. Iul. 50.2; Plut. Brut. 5.2–4; Cat. min. 24.1–2. Plut. Brut. 13 has Brutus’ wife Porcia involved in the plans for Caesar’s murder.

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other hand, his accounts are close to the events and not shaped by the literary concerns of historiography or by the powerful bias of hindsight. Meanwhile, neither letter shows obvious signs of being written with a broader public in mind. The letter to Brutus, however, may be written in the way that it is in order to avoid spelling things out in too much detail, in case it should be intercepted in transit. In light of my present concerns, two aspects of the descriptions of these consilia seem to be of particular interest, namely, the careful preparation of speeches and a seemingly standardized procedure governed by rules for debate and deliberation. Although relatively less attention has been paid to the format of these consilia (as opposed to their very political content), they do seem to have featured (at least some) ‘speeches’ that were prepared in advance by the principal participants and their invited guests. Cicero’s casual references suggest that this was very much to be expected in both instances. To sum up: Cicero represents himself (quite unselfconsciously) as preparing something he calls an oratio on his journey to Antium. In his first letter, he summarizes each part of his speech into three main points, in a traditional rhetorical pattern. He has naturally, therefore, been informed in advance of the question(s) under consideration as part of the invitation. We may imagine that his views were probably not much of a surprise to his friends. In fact, he describes the second part of his speech at Antium as a summary of opinions that were commonly held and much discussed in Rome at the time. Consequently, it seems that he has, in fact, been invited precisely to represent these well-known views in front of this audience here (and, if he had come directly from Rome, perhaps also to report on the latest news from the city). It would obviously be interesting to know how specific the wording of that invitation had been. Were the themes of his speech suggested to him? Has he been given an assignment? Is his dismay at Servilia’s interruption based precisely on the fact that he had been invited to represent these views? With this situation in mind, we may imagine that a significant part of his preparation was probably rhetorical. He had to decide which arguments to use and how to arrange the material with this rather particular audience in mind. Despite being subject to interruptions, requests for repetition, crossexamination, as well as distractions when other topics were introduced by a variety of speakers, Cicero (claims that he) managed to deliver a significant speech, in two separate parts, before himself deciding to say no more when he was sharply called to order by Servilia. Her position of authority may well derive from the fact that she is the person who has

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invited the participants (which would make it in some sense her consilium) or from her seniority within the assembled family group or simply from the force of her personality. It is unclear whether each speaker sought permission to speak from a ‘presider’, who moderated the debate. On the other hand, the many related people present may also have made the meeting at Antium more of a family consilium, in as much as plans for both Brutus and Cassius were under discussion. Cassius also seems to speak at some length, although mainly about past events rather than on the same topic as Cicero. Unfortunately, we cannot say how many other people spoke, over what period of time, or how many gave what could properly be called speeches. Cicero’s aim in the letter is to tell Atticus about his own role in the consilium rather than giving a general description of the proceedings. It would indeed be quite characteristic of him simply to omit particularly telling points of argument made by other speakers against the case as he had presented it. Very similar considerations apply to the subsequent meeting in Rome. Cicero is invited and represents a certain point of view, which he summarizes much more briefly for Brutus. Again, he seems to suggest that the actual content of his remarks is no surprise, either to his audience in Rome or to the recipient of this letter. This time there was no interruption, although he was proposing a much more radical course of action, nothing less than the invasion of Italy with an army led by Brutus, which he summarizes in a distinctly euphemistic way in his letter. It is suggestive that he sends Brutus his advice contained in a description of Servilia’s consilium in Rome rather than simply stating his view directly. The context of the consilium gives the advice a particular cultural setting and traditional tone. Inevitably, and somewhat ironically, his words recall the several descriptions and very negative characterizations of Catiline’s secret and subversive meetings with his followers, where treason was allegedly planned almost twenty years earlier.23 Now we read Cicero describing his participation in two consilia that discussed various strategies for seizing power in Rome. Scholars have also tended to describe these proceedings as ‘parliamentary’ in structure and tone, which has only added to the surprise they have expressed not only about this whole way of doing business but particularly, therefore, about the presence of the women and the prominent role of Servilia herself. Münzer very much admired Servilia and her actions as 23

See Cic. Cat. 1.6 and 8–9. Sall. Cat. 20 has Catiline give a speech in a consilium (cf. 27.4). See also Chapter 12.

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presider (Vorsitz) at what he already called a ‘party conference’ (Parteitag).24 However, Syme was less enthusiastic. He says: ‘At a party conference in the summer of 44, Servilia, arrogating precedence before a consular, assumed the role of chairman and undertook to have a decree of the Senate modified in the interest of Brutus and Cassius.’25 He then goes on in the next sentence: ‘From that it was a short step when the energetic Fulvia took action on behalf of Marcus Antonius and stirred up a civil war in Italy.’ Yet, we may note that Servilia does not seem to have encouraged either political assassination or civil war but to have been working for reconciliation among various factions and a more stable political future, although she obviously failed in her objectives.26 If we move beyond considerations of women crossing gender boundaries, however, we can ask more basic questions about procedure and how we should understand what is going on at these discussions. Is Servilia ‘imitating’ a range of senatorial procedures she has never herself experienced? If so, then why is Cicero not more surprised? Is she ‘taking precedence’, even in the context of a free-ranging conversation in a country house by the sea? It could, of course, be argued that Cicero’s language, recalling the way business was conducted in the Senate in Rome, is largely metaphorical and has been taken too literally – simply at face value – by modern readers. If we assume, however, that his description is careful and accurate (as Münzer specifically suggested it was in the letter to Brutus), then a logical conclusion would be that such a procedure was usual and expected in the context of a family consilium of the nobiles. Why should the Senate, the grand consilium in Rome, necessarily be either the source of, or the only proper setting for, such procedural habits, as opposed to the equally traditional and ancient family consilium, especially in the circle of the patrician Servilii? Such a consilium, therefore, apparently provided the setting for a typically Roman culture of debate, which included at least some invited and prepared speeches delivered by distinguished advisers and friends. Opposing points of view appear to be deliberately solicited and given a hearing (at least up to a point). Issues were identified and alternatives explored in speeches especially prepared for the occasion and delivered at 24

25 26

Münzer RE s.v. ‘Servilia’ and Münzer 1920: 336–75. For Münzer, Servilia is a vivid and inspiring figure. Syme 1986: 198–9. Her lack of success in the 40s bc and the previous premature deaths of her father, brother and first husband are all especially stressed by Fündling in BNP.

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length. Presumably, therefore, speeches later delivered in front of the Senate, or in a law court, or at a contio might have had their initial origins in remarks first prepared for presentation in a consilium. Equally, a leading orator like Cicero would frequently himself have prepared or solicited speeches for a consilium, whether his own or, as seen here, someone else’s. Inevitably, it remains unclear to what extent these speeches composed for private audiences already existed in written form; Cicero does not offer to send his correspondents a draft of his remarks, but that is hardly surprising in the dangerous political climate after Caesar’s assassination.

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part iv

Memory and Reputation

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chapter 14

Like Father, Like Son? The Dynamics of Family Exemplarity and Ideology in (Fragmentary) Republican Oratory Evan Jewell

Ideology in the Late Republic has most recently been characterised as ‘a particular set of linguistic symbols’ as opposed to something ‘derived from the values and beliefs of political agents’.1 In either estimation, oratorical discourse could and did function as an ideologically laden way of speaking.2 The exemplum drawn from memoria is one such ‘linguistic symbol’ and is one that has received particular attention in recent scholarship.3 It is evident from the catalogues of populares transmitted by Cicero, Sallust and others that to invoke a lineage of past populares was to place oneself in such a tradition and adopt a mode of popularis ideological discourse, one available to orators in the contio and elsewhere.4 These exempla, however, were often only unified by their status as murdered tribunes: passing into the realm of memoria, they became bound together by the ideological discourse that they themselves had deployed while alive.5 In another corner of the storehouse of memory, we find exempla that appear to have no ideological content whatsoever: family exempla. Inherent to the centrality of the mos maiorum and the necessity of maintaining the cultural capital of one’s gens, the invocation of family exempla was particularly common in forensic contexts, where contrast and comparison This chapter is dedicated to the erudite and inspiring Tom Hillard and Lea Beness, to whom I am ever thankful for their time, teaching, mentorship and expert critique. I also thank James Tan, who commented on an early draft; the conference attendees for their feedback; and the anonymous readers for their critiques and suggestions. Finally, I am particularly grateful to Catherine Steel, Henriette van der Blom, Christa Gray and Richard Marshall for their critiques of this chapter and seeing it through to the present form. All errors or infelicities of argument remain, of course, my own. 1 Arena 2012: 7. Cf. Morstein-Marx 2004: 30. 2 Following Morstein-Marx 2004: 15, n. 64, I understand ‘discourse’ in the sense used by contemporary social and political criticism and not in the sense advocated by Habermas. 3 See Bücher 2006; van der Blom 2010. 4 Seager 1972b; Martin 2000; Bücher 2006: 281–96; van der Blom 2010: 164–5. 5 See Martin 2000 and Wiseman 2009: 10 on the popularis martyrology.

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could be drawn between a present individual and his or her family lineage.6 Family exemplarity could serve the immediate argumentative aims of discrediting or admonishing an opponent’s character, as we see in Cicero’s Claudian exempla in the Pro Caelio (33–34) or the jabs at Servius Sulpicius Rufus’ ailing family fortunes in the Pro Murena (16).7 Indeed, in Latin historiography and Roman cultural thought more broadly, Richardson has demonstrated the ‘Roman tendency to believe that members of the same gens behave in the same way and consequently do similar things’ and that descendants should follow the exemplum of an ancestor.8 This tendency in Roman thought becomes particularly potent when examined in the ideological discourse of Republican oratory, where we can track its valency for an orator’s strategy if one or several members of his opponent’s ancestors happened to be ideologically charged exempla or had the potential to be articulated as such. And unlike historical exempla and the general invocation of the mos maiorum, when bloodlines became mixed into ideological discourse, the exemplum carried weight not only at the level of the community but became an index of the relationship between an individual and his or her family’s maiores. Thus, the political contexts that allowed an orator to invoke a family exemplum in an ideological contest – beyond the domain of localised character-building or invective – can elucidate one particular intersection of ideology and memoria in Late Republican oratory, whereby family exempla could become ideological exempla at one and the same time. And so while family exempla would seem to be personal and devoid of ideological content, this chapter will demonstrate that this was not always the case. Three gentes – the Lutatii Catuli, Livii Drusi and Junii Bruti – offer us potent examples where the ideological behaviour of someone’s maiores became central to oratorical strategy. The former two gentes will foreground the potency of deploying ideological family exempla, whereas a potential oratorical fragment from the Rhetorica ad Herennium, invoking the famous liberator of the res publica, Lucius Junius Brutus, will be rearticulated within the wider development of his exemplarity by the Junii Bruti in the Late Republic, allowing us to grasp the ideological longevity of a family exemplum. In focusing upon these three families, whose interaction with ideological discourse happens to be attested in both Ciceronian and non-Ciceronian fragments and testimonia, this chapter also provides opportunities to recalibrate the Ciceronian spectacles that often colour our 6 7

For recent literature, see Hölkeskamp 2010: 67, n. 47. On family exempla, see van der Blom 2010: 87–103, 316–21.

8

Richardson 2012: 11.

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understanding of ideology and oratory and so observe the ideological discourse of exempla in a more holistic hue.

Catulan Connections After the elder Quintus Lutatius Catulus sided with Sulla against his consular colleague, Gaius Marius, the gens Lutatia garnered a reputation as a bastion of conservative political activity in the Late Republic. The son carried on the father’s conservatism, and both men came to be ideological exempla deployed by Cicero in his struggle against Clodius. Before this, however, other ideological family connections of the younger Q. Lutatius Catulus (cos. 78 bc) came into play when he became the object of a friendly dressing-down in a fragment of Cicero’s Pro Cornelio in 65 BC, having appeared as a witness for the prosecution. The trial saw Cicero defend Gaius Cornelius, charged with ignoring the veto of a tribunician colleague.9 Cornelius’ tribunate appears to have been perceived as popularis in nature, or at least Cicero presents it as such, citing the fact that ‘this was already the custom [mos] in the time of those ancient and bearded men: to prosecute populares’.10 This is borne out by the way Cicero deftly deploys a family exemplum against Catulus to neutralise criticism of the popularis character of Cornelius’ tribunate, pointing out that one of Catulus’ most distinguished relatives, Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus (cos. 96 bc), was well known for his popularis tribunate in 104 bc11: sed si familiariter ex Q. Catulo sapientissimo uiro atque humanissimo uelim quaerere: utrius tandem tibi tribunatus minus probari potest, C. Corneli, an – non dicam P. Sulpici, non L. Saturnini, non Gai Gracchi, non Tiberi, neminem quem isti seditiosum existimant nominabo, sed auunculi tui, Q. Catule, clarissimi aeque amantissimi uiri? qui mihi tandem responsurum putatis?12 (Cic. Corn. 2 F5 Crawford)

9 10 11

12

On the trial, see Griffin 1973, with Crawford 1994: 67–72. Cic. Corn. 2 F4: hic mos iam apud illos antiquos et barbatos fuit, ut persequerentur populares. On Domitius’ tribunate, see Tatum 1999: 13–4, who inclines towards a cynical reading of Domitius’ popularis motives: ‘one is hard pressed to detect anything but aristocratic pique underlying his legislation’ (13). All translations are my own, unless otherwise noted. ‘But if I wanted to ask, in a friendly way, that most wise and humane man, Quintus Catulus: “Of the two, which tribunate do you approve of less, Gaius Cornelius’, or – I shall not speak of Publius Sulpicius’, nor Lucius Saturninus’, nor Gaius Gracchus’, nor Tiberius’: I shall name no man whom those men reckon to be the seditious type, but that of your uncle, Quintus Catulus, a most outstanding and patriotic man?” Now what do you suppose his answer would be to me?’

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Cicero proposes to compare Cornelius’ tribunate to others, striking through a list of seditious populares in a series of negatives, only to arrive at the adversative sed and the delayed reveal: ‘your uncle’, he declares to Catulus. Domitius’ nomina do not appear in the extant fragments of the speech,13 such that the term auunculus stresses the specific family connection between Catulus and Domitius, while muting the lack of homonymity between their nomina gentilicia and the potential disconnect which that might imply – and so allowing Cicero to hold Catulus accountable to more than one set of ideological family exempla. Finally, by contrasting Domitius, painted in superlatives, against a catalogue of other so-called seditious tribunes, Cicero politely forces Catulus between a rock (that is, an illustrious family member who bucked the popularis martyr trend and went on to become consul and censor) and a hard place (that is, a family member with a questionable tribunician history). As Crawford aptly put it, ‘what Cicero wants the jurors to consider is how Catulus could oppose a man such as Cornelius, when his own uncle was cut from the same cloth’.14 For Cicero, then, the ambiguity of an ideological family exemplum afforded him an opportunity to corner a witness with the ties of family and to offer the target much less room to rebuff the ideological applicability of the exemplum. Exempla, however, were always tailored to an oratorical and political context, and as such, Domitius was just as easily invoked by Cicero against a suspected popularis tribune of 63 bc, P. Servilius Rullus. Now Cicero played up to his oratorical and ideological advantage the disconnection between the two families and their claims to nobilitas, asking a contional audience: ‘see the difference between Cn. Domitius, tribune of the plebs, a most noble man [hominem nobilissimum], and P. Rullus, who, as I think, tested your patience, when he said that he was noble [nobilem]’.15 Nearly a decade after the Pro Cornelio, Cicero chose to appeal to the conservative, better known side of Catulus’ ideological blood, this time invoking his father in the De domo sua.16 Father and son were enlisted posthumously (Catulus iunior died in 61 bc) as conservative stalwarts in the fight against Clodius. Here the apostrophe – ‘O Quintus Catulus! Shall I call upon the father first or the son?’ (O Q. Catule! Patremne appellem ante 13 15

16

Cf. Cic. Corn. 2 F6, auunculus tuus clarissimus uir. 14 Crawford 1994: 141. Cic. Agr. 2.19: uidete, quid intersit inter Cn. Domitium, tribunum plebis, hominem nobilissimum, et P. Rullum, qui temptauit, ut opinor, patientiam uestram, cum se nobilem esse diceret. The agreement of the MSS should be accepted here, despite Zielinski 1904: 788. Rullus clearly referred to his nobilitas in his earlier contio, perhaps in contradistinction to Cicero’s nouitas. See Syme 1964: 410. Cic. Dom. 113–14.

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an filium?) – exploits homonymity to suggest their ideological parity.17 Cicero could conveniently invoke two exempla at once and then address the ideological connection of each man to himself in turn, beginning with the words of the younger Catulus, whose ‘memoria is more recent’ (recentior . . . memoria), while Clodius’ purported destruction of the elder Catulus’ monumentum, the Porticus Catuli, is connected to that of Cicero’s own home.18 This technique of stressing the ideological traits of family exempla through homonymous apostrophe is by no means unique to Cicero: an antecedent, if not a model, for Cicero comes from an orator he heard as an adulescens and leads us to the family tree of the Livii Drusi.

A Father’s Words, a Son’s Actions: The Livii Drusi The year is 90 bc, the Social War is raging, and C. Papirius Carbo Arvina is one of three tribunes said to deliver contiones daily on the Rostra.19 Just as Cicero exploited the homonymity of father and son, so too did Carbo, but for radically different ideological purposes: O Marce Druse, patrem appello: tu dicere solebas sacram esse rem publicam: quicumque eam uiolauissent, ab omnibus esse ei poenas persolutas. patris dictum sapiens temeritas filii comprobauit.20 (Papirius Carbo ORF4 87 F4 [= Cic. Orat. 213])

Cicero cites this example in the context of his Orator to demonstrate the powerful effect that prose rhythm can have upon an audience; for as an eyewitness to the contio, he noted the tantus clamor (‘great applause’) that arose in the crowd upon hearing the ditrochee.21 As Morstein-Marx has made clear, the apostrophe exploits a ‘clap trap’, so that we move from the attention-grabbing address to a dead man ‘at first to the recently murdered, highly controversial tribune of 91 bc, but as patrem then makes clear, actually to his father, the rival [and tribunician colleague] of Gaius Gracchus in 122 bc’ and, ultimately, the consul of 112 bc.22 Beyond the rhetorical device, however, there are several other reasons why this ‘clap 17 18

19 20

21

Cic. Dom. 113. Cic. Dom. 114. On this speech and the destruction of Catulus’ monumentum, see Tatum 1999: 163–6; Roller 2010: 161–3. Cic. Brut. 305. ‘O Marcus Drusus – the father – I call upon you! You were accustomed to say that the Republic was sacrosanct: whoever had desecrated it, the penalties for it were paid by all. The recklessness of the son has proven the wise saying of the father.’ Cic. Orat. 214. 22 Morstein-Marx 2004: 139.

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trap’ was so effective, not the least of which must have been the political background to the utterance. At the beginning of the younger Drusus’ political life, the two Livii Drusi were, like the two Lutatii Catuli, perceived as a harmonious, homonymous duo. An anecdote in the fragmentary Diodorus Siculus closely associates the two men in positive ideological terms as exceptional politicians (πλὴν δυεῖν Δρούσων), owing both to their family’s nobility (εὐγένεια) and their fairness (ἐπιείκεια) and humanity (φιλανθρωπία) towards their fellow citizens.23 While one fragment does not necessarily decode the other, the implication that father and son may have already been strongly associated in a positive political context prior to the elder Drusus’ death in 109 bc only heightens the dissonance of Carbo’s apostrophe. Yet, this positive connection between the two Drusi quickly became sullied, if not entirely severed: first by the younger’s programme of reform in 91 bc and then with his violent death, which ushered him into a tradition of popularis exemplarity.24 Accordingly, in the Rhetorica ad Herennium, the younger Drusus is just one among several men in a popularis catalogue of martyred tribunes, from Tiberius Gracchus to Sulpicius Rufus. It seems that with the conclusion of the Social War, Drusus’ death was re-appropriated for the purposes of popularis speech, so in this work, as in Carbo’s contio, he is addressed with an apostrophe: ‘O Drusus, your blood stained your household walls and the face of your parent’.25 The distinctive image suggests a particular tradition of defining Drusus’ death in relation to his family, unlike the other tribunes in the catalogue, who appear to be presented wholly in relation to the res publica.26 The familial line exploited by Carbo’s ‘clap trap’, which expresses outright hostility towards the dead Drusus minor and pays simultaneous lip service to his father, was evidently an effective strategy, whose affective results we can read in the contional audience’s reaction. We may look behind the ‘delightful’ prose rhythm of the apostrophe and suppose that the contional crowd’s clamor arose as much from their heated agreement with Carbo’s assessment of the younger Drusus and his temeritas as from the metrical sensibilities of the clausula. We can certainly assume that Drusus’ push for Italian enfranchisement was not appreciated by the 23 25 26

Diod. Sic. 37.10.2. 24 Cf. Rhet. Her. 4.46; Sen. Marc. 16.4; Flor. 2.5.6. Rhet. Her. 4.31: tuus, O Druse, sanguis domesticos parietes et uultum parentis aspersit. Haug 1947: 113 interprets the uultus parentis as one of the imagines in the house of Drusus, but a more horrific possibility is the living face of his mother Cornelia (likely still alive at the time of his death: Münzer 1920: 403–4).

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contional crowd, particularly now that they found themselves caught up in the midst of a traumatic war not of their own making. That Drusus the elder was known for his tribunician veto of C. Gracchus’ earlier attempt to enfranchise the Latins in 122 bc presented the sticking point of ideological contrast between his tribunate and that of his son.27 For if we turn back to Carbo’s apostrophe, we have a testimonium within the fragment that pits the father’s words against the son. As Rawson suggested, in summoning up the elder Drusus, Carbo was perhaps referring to a speech – tu dicere solebas (‘as you were accustomed to say’) – of Drusus the elder’s as tribune in 122 bc, when he had opposed C. Gracchus. In this setting, Drusus pater, ostensibly alluding to the oath first taken by the plebeians on the Mons Sacer that had enshrined the tribune as sacer, may well have famously claimed that the res publica was sacra, no doubt to undercut Gracchus’ claims to tribunician sacrosanctity.28 In 90 bc, however, tribunician sacrosanctity and Drusus’ mysterious death were clearly not the immediate issues at stake; the main threat to the res publica was the war with the Italians and the potential implications of defeat for Rome. Accordingly, Carbo took the whip to the younger Drusus’ temeritas by contrasting the father’s words with the son’s actions. From this vantage point, Carbo’s apostrophe appropriated the ideological dictum of the elder Drusus to suggest not only that the younger Drusus’ death was self-inflicted but that it now threatened the res publica, while the penalties (poenae) for Drusus’ tribunate are effectively being paid by all those present at the contio. The elder Drusus had ensured that the citizen body of the res publica remained ‘sacrosanct’, while the younger Drusus’ revival of Gracchus’ reform had only ensured its desecration. We might even imagine Carbo delivering this oration in support of Q. Varius Hybrida’s lex Varia de maiestate, which set up a court aimed at prosecuting Italian sympathisers.29 By rearticulating Carbo’s apostrophe and the family exempla it deployed within its intricately layered political contexts, we gain an understanding of how a family exemplum could be invoked to great effect outside the courtroom and applied not to a living 27 28

29

See MRR I: 517 for sources, with Millar 1986: 5. Rawson 1974: 195. Cf. Steel 2010 on tribunician sacrosanctity and performativity before contional audiences in the 60s bc. See also Cic. Fam. 9.23.3 (SB 198), in which Cicero singles out our Carbo (praeter hunc C. Carbonem) as an exception among his notorious relatives; this may further indicate the ideological position of Carbo in 90 bc. On this lex, see Gruen 1965; Seager 1967; Badian 1969; Dart 2014: 104–6. I am thankful to Lea Beness for allowing me to see her (forthcoming) work on the tribunate, in which she suggests this as a possible context, thanks especially to Carbo’s proximity to Varius and his supporter, Pomponius, at Cic. Brut. 305, as well as 221, 227 and 308.

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individual per se but to a highly charged ideological issue in the arena of the contio – an arena that forms the probable setting for the final family exemplum of this chapter.

Becoming Brutus: Lucius Junius Brutus as Exemplum Gentis quodsi nunc Lucius ille Brutus reuiuescat et hic ante pedes uestros adsit, non hac utatur oratione? ‘ego reges eieci; uos tyrannos introducitis. ego libertatem, quae non erat, peperi; uos partam seruare non uultis. ego capitis mei periculo patriam liberaui; uos liberi sine periculo esse non curatis.’30 (Rhet. Her. 4.66)

Here the Rhetorica ad Herennium provides an admonition from the famed liberator of the res publica as an example of prosopopoeia (here labelled as conformatio), a technique that is best known from Cicero’s shaming of one family member by another in the Pro Murena and Pro Caelio.31 And although Cicero applied it sparingly, he did so to great purpose, capitalising upon its highly performative elements to take a family exemplum to its extreme rendition: the arousal of an ancestor from the dead (ab inferis) to deliver an admonition that immediately forged a gulf of behavioural distance between ancestor and targeted descendant.32 While the example from the Rhetorica is devoid of a named speaker or target, it nevertheless provides a fruitful stimulus for the examination of Lucius Brutus as our final exemplum and his longevity as an ideological symbol of libertas connected to and cultivated by the Junii Bruti in the Late Republic. To begin with, the application of prosopopoeia to family members allows us to explore the implications of envisaging the performance of this exemplum in a real historical context – as a potential oratorical fragment involving the Junii Bruti rather than as a generic example, concocted by the anonymous author of a rhetorical handbook. Martin suggested that the 30

31

32

‘What if that Lucius Brutus should come back to life now and appear here before your feet, would he not make this speech? “I ejected the kings; you [uos] are introducing tyrants. I brought forth libertas, which did not exist; what I created you [uos] do not want to protect. I, my life imperilled, liberated the fatherland; even without peril, you [uos] do not care to be free.”’ Cic. Mur. 66–7 (Cato); Cael. 33–4 (App. Claudius Caecus). On the technique of prosopopoeia in theory, see Cic. Top. 45; Orat. 85; De or. 1.245; Quint. Inst. 4.1.28, 9.2.31, 12.10.61, with Dufallo 2007: 13, n. 2; on the connection between prosopopoeia and family members, see Flower 1996: 153–4; Dufallo 2007: 15. For the threat to raise the dead, cf. Cic. Ver. 2.1.94, 2.5.113, 129; Font. 36; Catil. 2.20; Red. Pop. 25; Red. Sen. 26; Sest. 130; Cael. 33; Mil. 79, 91; Marc. 17. For a non-Ciceronian example, see Helvius Mancia ORF4 71 F1.1–16 (= Val. Max. 6.2.8). Dufallo 2001: 134 examines the theatrical elements of Cic. Cael. 33–4.

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exempla in the Rhetorica might warrant inclusion in Malcovati’s fragmentary orators,33 and since Marx, the author’s claim that he did not borrow exempla (Rhet. Her. 4.1–10) has often been discounted.34 Internal evidence from the handbook suggests composition c. 86–82 bc and so provides a context for the author’s choice of oratorical exempla.35 This final case study will therefore situate the preceding (potential) fragment within the development of L. Brutus as the ideological exemplum for the Junii Bruti par excellence, for even if it does not constitute a true ‘fragment’ – the proof of which is not my object here – the exercise of canvassing the possible contexts of such an oratorical episode will itself shed light on the broader role of L. Brutus as an ideological family exemplum deployed both by and against the Junii Bruti. In particular, the exercise of climbing through L. Brutus’ family tree will sketch the genealogy of an ideological history that preceded, and thus enriches our understanding of, his ultimate use as an exemplum by Caesar’s assassin and his chief spin doctor, Cicero. Understandably, scholars have tended to train their focus on the historiographical development of the Brutus legend or his role as an exemplum for M. Junius Brutus, Caesar’s assassin, wherein Lucius provided a model of ideological behaviour – the preservation of libertas – for his descendant, even if his actual descent from Lucius’ line was disputed in antiquity itself.36 Consequently, little attention has been paid to the complementary performative traditions of drama and oratory that preceded Marcus’ L. Brutus as a family exemplum. Yet the first member of the Junii Bruti to have plausibly cultivated the family’s links to L. Brutus was Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus (RE 57), cos. 138 bc.37 Callaicus is said to have been friendly with the poet Accius, who composed verses for his temple of Mars but who also wrote a fabula praetexta entitled, Brutus.38 Whether Accius’ Brutus was commissioned by Callaicus or not,39 it would have provided an 33 35

36

37

38

39

Martin 2000: 29. 34 Marx 1894: 114–18. Caplan 1954; Corbeill 2002: 33. Cf. Achard 1989: xiii, who dates the work even more specifically to 84–83 bc. Contra Douglas 1960 (c. 50 BC or later) and Winkel 1979. For the historiographical development of L. Brutus, see Welwei 2000; Richardson 2012: 21–3; Wiseman 2014. On L. Brutus as a generic exemplum, see Bücher 2006: 178–80. For ancient assertions of the falsity of M. Brutus’ claim to descent from L. Brutus, see Plut. Brut. 1.6 and Richardson 2011 with Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 5.18, 5.48.2. The nomen gentilicium may not descend from L. Brutus; Wiseman 2014: 139–40 suggests that it may be a fabrication of the late fourth century bc. Accius and D. Junius Brutus Callaicus: Cic. Leg. 2.21.54 (amicissimi); Arch. 11.27 (Accius’ verses on his building projects). See the discussion in Manuwald 2001: 220–37; she is rightly sceptical of any direct patronage on the part of Callaicus. Nevertheless, Flower’s point (1995: 176), that the Brutus would have ‘underscored

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opportunity for showcasing the ideological capital of the Junian gens – particularly if it was staged after Callaicus’ leading role in the killing of C. Gracchus (‘tyrant’, as the conservative tradition held) in 121 bc.40 We cannot pinpoint the date of its original staging, but the play did find a timely revival in 57 bc at the ludi Apollinares, where it played a role in Cicero’s ongoing ideological contest with P. Clodius, casting Cicero as ‘[Servius] Tullius, who had strengthened the people’s libertas’ (Tullius, qui libertatem ciuibus stabiliuerat).41 Even Cicero, then, could momentarily invent an ideological ancestor for himself, if only through the facetiousness of an onomastic pun.42 More importantly, the Brutus was scheduled to be presented at the same ludi in July 44 bc by the tyrannicide M. Brutus as praetor urbanus but was ultimately substituted with Accius’ Tereus.43 The play clearly had the capacity to communicate a pointed anti-tyrannical message and promoted the association of the Junian gens with libertas.44 Since prosopopoeia had an inextricable element of theatricality in its delivery, Accius’ Brutus thus offers a pre-existing and fertile dramatic source that, whether it influenced the L. Brutus exemplum or not, reminds us that the oratorical development of an exemplum could be contiguous with other ideological performances. Returning to oratory proper, we encounter the first instance of L. Brutus being deployed as a family exemplum in a forensic context, wielded against a member of the Junii Bruti, when sometime between 101 and 91 bc Crassus the orator defended a certain Cn. Plancus against M. Junius Brutus (RE 50).45 the fragments of the speech preserved by Cicero, the maiores of the Junii Bruti were invoked to shame the prolific prosecutor Brutus, a veritable ‘blight upon your family name’ (dedecus generi uestro), as Cicero informs his contemporary descendant in the Brutus.46 In a series of rapid-fire questions aimed at admonishing the prosecutor Brutus while the pompa funebris of his Aunt Junia passed by the court,47 Crassus demanded to know what Brutus’ aunt would say about her nephew to their maiores in the underworld:

40

41

42 43 46

Callaecus’ rank . . . while at the same time reaffirming the validity of the system and of his ancestor as the “second founder” of Rome’, makes sense of the political context of the play’s production. Oros. 5.12.7; Ampel. 19.4, 26.2; Beness and Hillard 2001: 139, n. 17. For Accius’ ideological relationship to the Gracchi, see Bilinski 1957. On C. Gracchus’ death in the broader Roman articulation of tyrannicide, see Pina Polo 2006; Wiseman 2009: 177–210. Cic. Sest. 123; Arena 2012: 211–12. Afranius’ Simulans, a comeodia togata, was also staged (Sest. 118), which likewise featured the story of Brutus and lines of which were deployed against P. Clodius. Cf. Cic. Att.15.12.2 (SB 390) for Cicero punning on ‘Brutus’ (in Greek). Cic. Att. 16.5.1 (SB 410). 44 Richardson 2012: 22–3. 45 See Alexander 1990: 52 (no. 98). Cic. Brut. 130. 47 Following Flower 1996: 151–3.

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Brute quid sedes? quid illam anum patri nuntiare uis tuo? quid illis omnibus, quorum imagines duci uides? quid maioribus tuis? quid L. Bruto, qui hunc populum dominatu regio liberauit? quid te agere? cui rei, cui gloriae, cui uirtuti studere? patrimonione augendo? at id non est nobilitatis. sed fac esse, nihil superest; lubidines totum dissupauerunt.48 (L. Licinius Crassus ORF4 66 F45.34–40 [= Cic. De or. 2.225])

This fragment of Crassus’ oration has been compared to another example of anaphoric questioning in the Rhetorica, yet previous analyses have overlooked the all-important content of Crassus’ questions, which centre upon the ancestral tradition of the Junii Bruti.49 Crassus moves from Brutus’ father, to his imagines, his maiores, and finally to the exemplum of Lucius Brutus, who is singled out as the ultimate measure of familial behaviour. Indeed, he may have been re-appropriating themes and exempla already invoked in Junia’s laudatio funebris. To be sure, we know that the author of the Rhetorica had read Crassus’ famous orations,50 just as a later echo of Crassus’ phrase describing Brutus’ achievement – ‘He liberated this people from royal domination’ (hunc populum dominatu regio liberauit) – is found in Cicero’s Pro Plancio.51 But it would be facile simply to attribute Crassus’ influence to the composition of our example from the Rhetorica and leave our investigation at that. For besides the fact that Crassus merely threatens to personify Junia (and thereby only indirectly raises Brutus as an exemplum) and does not personify L. Brutus directly – unlike the Rhetorica – the comparison ignores the sharply ideological tone of the Rhetorica example: the speaker adopts particularly strong watch-words – tyrannus and libertas – which sit more at home in an overtly political setting, such as the contio. Indeed, we are left wondering to whom the repeated second person plural pronoun uos refers, whereby Brutus juxtaposes himself to a group. That the addressee of Brutus’ admonition is an emphatic ‘you all’ is also consistent with a contional audience, not simply the forensic jury in Crassus’ case.52 Nonetheless, the L. Brutus of Crassus’ oratio does inform the Brutus of the Rhetorica in one respect: by 48

49

50 52

‘Brutus, why do you sit? What would you have that old matron announce to your father? What to all those ones, whose imagines you see being led along [in the pompa funebris]? What to your maiores? What to Lucius Brutus, who liberated this people from the domination of the kings? What is she to say you are doing? What achievement, what gloria, what uirtus are you striving for? Is it enlarging your inheritance? But this is not characteristic of nobilitas. Yet even if you make it so, nothing is left; your lusts have squandered it all.’ Rhet. Her. 4.19 (quid . . . quid . . . quid); cf. von Ungern-Sternberg 1973: 150 with n. 43; Achard 1989: 149, n. 91. Rhet. Her. 4.5; cf. 4.2, 7. 51 L. Cassius Longinus ORF4 168 F1.17 (= Cic. Planc. 60). See Hölkeskamp 2013: 19–28.

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Crassus’ day, Brutus had already accrued a certain ideological stability, clarity and familial applicability as an exemplum of libertas and thus as a model of behaviour for the Junii Bruti. If situated in the contio, the prosopopoeia of L. Brutus becomes all the more striking for its targeting of the contional audience, thereby breaking with patterns of contional strategy, which, as we have observed in Carbo’s performance, above all sought to create a consensus between orator and the interests of the audience.53 Exceptions to this rule were apparently rare, but the exceptional auctoritas of L. Brutus and his ideological weight may have helped override it.54 The author of the Rhetorica certainly expresses no reservations about his choice of example, but its exceptionality forces us to imagine a contional context and a speaker who could have successfully executed the impersonation such that it had relevance to the readership of the handbook. Here the established role of L. Brutus as an ideological family exemplum for the Junii Bruti may offer a possible solution, whereby an orator may have exploited ancestral connections to L. Brutus to establish grounds for impersonating him. Of course, the existence of such an orator is entirely speculative, but I will explore this imaginative avenue in the hope that it will contextualise the relevance of L. Brutus to the handbook, his longer-term development as an ideological family exemplum and, finally, provoke further attempts to contextualise ideological exempla in non-Ciceronian oratory. We might envisage two oratorical scenarios involving (1) a contemporary Junius Brutus drawing on their ancestral connection to L. Brutus and his ideological symbolism as a ploy to shift the contional consensus towards himself and (2) an orator opposed to a contemporary Junius Brutus, who exploited L. Brutus to reverse the contional consensus by casting his opponent as a tyrannus and the contional audience as misguided in its acceptance of his opponent’s proposals. The politically turbulent period in which the handbook was written (86–82 bc) certainly suggests that L. Brutus may have had contemporary relevance as an exemplum, but surveying the evidence for a Brutus who might have either brought their ancestor back from the dead before a contional audience or been labelled a tyrannus, only one man presents himself – the father of the tyrannicide. 53

54

On contional strategy, see Morstein-Marx 2004. Instances of orators explicitly admonishing their audience seem to be non-existent. Cf. Catulus the Younger’s tactic of alluding to the plebeian secessions in exhorting his contional audience to defend its libertas: Plut. Pomp. 30.4 with Morstein-Marx 2004: 183. On the auctoritas of historical exempla, see Stemmler 2000; van der Blom 2010: 124–6.

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M. Junius Brutus (RE 52) was tribune in 83 bc and involved himself in the litigation that led to Cicero’s Pro Quinctio, before being killed in 77 bc after joining the revolt of M. Aemilius Lepidus against the Sullan regime.55 Notably, Brutus’ activities as tribune appear to have been contentious and probably viewed as popularis: namely, his foundation of a colony at Capua, which Cicero later (in 63 bc) presents in a contio as an attempt to found a new res publica in opposition to Rome.56 Here Cicero also highlighted ‘the most bitter penalties of wicked men’ (acerbissimas impiorum poenas) which Brutus suffered (alluding to his death in 77 bc),57 arguing later that in following Brutus’ exemplum, Rullus was undermining the ‘monuments of ancestral wisdom’ (monumenta maiorum sapientiae).58 Morstein-Marx rightly points out that these references to Brutus are so offhand that Cicero seems to assume that his contional audience was wholly familiar with M. Brutus, his legislation and his death at the hands of Pompey.59 This is confirmed by Helvius Mancia Formianus, who threatened in 55 bc to ‘resurrect’ against Pompey his victims from the Sullan period, among whom stood none other than M. Brutus.60 Apparently, M. Brutus and his gory death were controversial enough to find a place in the memoria of his audience twenty years on. It may be no coincidence, then, that Cicero, within the context of a contio proliferating with regnal rhetoric,61 assimilates Rullus and his supposed plans for a Capuan colony to Brutus’ similar plans two decades previously, wherein both men apparently posed a threat to the libertas of Rome. On the basis of Cicero’s presentation of M. Brutus and the inference we can draw about his standing in recent memoria, it is not difficult to imagine that M. Brutus was subjected to similar regnal rhetoric in his own day, which may well have resulted in him being named a tyrannus by an opponent in a contio and facing an exemplum like that of L. Brutus in the Rhetorica. That Brutus’ colony at Capua barely lasted a year may point to an element in Rome that had opposed the foundation all along.62 We can also entertain the possibility that in one of his contiones, M. Brutus resorted to impersonating his ancestor to defend his colony against dissolution, 55 59 60 61

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MRR II: 63. 56 Cic. Leg. Agr. 2.89. 57 Cic. Leg. Agr. 2.92. 58 Cic. Leg. Agr. 2.98. Morstein-Marx 2004: 73. Helvius Mancia ORF4 71 F1.6–8 (= Val. Max. 6.2.8). See Steel 2013a. Cf. Cic. Leg. Agr. 2.8 (regna), 2.15 (X reges . . . reges in ciuitate), 2.20 (regia potestas), 2.24 (regnum), 2.29 (reges constituuntur, non X uiri), 2.32 (re uera regiam . . . formam adhuc habetis, Quirites, et speciem ipsam tyrannorum), 2.33 (intolerantium regum), 2.33 (rex), 2.34 (regnorum uendendorum summa potestas datur), 2.35, 2.39 (regna X uirum), 2.43 (rex denique opulentissimi regni reperietur), 2.61, 75. Libertas: Cic. Leg. Agr. 2.4, 9, 15, 16, 18, 20, 24, 25, 29, 30, 71, 75, 86, 102. On the political context of Brutus’ colonial initiative, see Harvey 1982.

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although it is difficult, admittedly, to envisage this scenario playing out in Sulla’s midst: Brutus evidently managed to survive Sulla’s proscriptions. A further parallel between the De lege agraria and the Rhetorica strengthens the former possibility, suggesting that Cicero may have been taking a leaf from the same oratio that inspired the L. Brutus of the Rhetorica. Thus far we have not considered the only other example of prosopopoeia in the Rhetorica, which immediately precedes that of Lucius Brutus and sees Rome admonish her ciues: nunc uestris seditionibus, o ciues, uexor; quam dolis malitiosa Kartago, uiribus probata Numantia, disciplinis erudita Corinthus labefactare non potuit, eam patimini nunc ab homunculis deterrumis proteri atque conculcari?63 (Rhet. Her. 4.66)

The author prefaces the two examples of Rome and L. Brutus as representative of the range of the technique, which could encompass both res and personae.64 Yet this does not explain the author’s choice of examples applicable only in contional contexts, for, as with L. Brutus, here Rome herself seems to have been enlisted to chide a contional audience of ciues riven by seditiones: again, a situation that corresponds well to the political context of a handbook written in the 80s bc. The personification of Rome is all the more conspicuous when we turn to the section of the De lege agraria between the two descriptions of M. Brutus’ colonial foundation at Capua: here we also find both Rome’s history as a conquering city vaunted in the face of the rival res publica of Capua and the same three specific cities – Carthage, Numantia and Corinth – are again named as her principal victims: ‘many serious wars have been waged, the Carthaginian, Corinthian, and Numantian; there were many civil dissensions in this state, which I pass over’.65 The seditiones that are (presently) vexing Rome in the Rhetorica clearly had no relevance to Cicero’s contio in 63 bc, yet, tellingly, he did not omit mention of them entirely. Such echoes, then, between the Rhetorica and De lege agraria are suggestive of, if not allusive to, a shared point of reference. Cicero may have been recycling the rhetoric levelled at M. Brutus two decades prior. Despite this (deliberately speculative) exercise in contextualisation and reconstruction, it is crucial to remember that the 80s bc saw several 63

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‘I am now vexed, O citizens, by your civil dissensions. Her whom Carthage with malicious trickery, whom Numantia with proven strength, whom Corinth with learned culture could not topple, do you now allow to be trampled under foot and abused by the worst weaklings?’ Rhet. Her. 4.66. Cic. Agr. 2.90: gesta . . . multa praeterea bella grauia, Carthaginiense, Corinthum, Numantinum. multae in hac re publica seditiones domesticae quas praetermitto.

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members of the Junii Bruti, and not just M. Brutus, caught in the rapidly shifting political sands, a fact that at the very least points to the amplified relevance of L. Brutus in the Rhetorica.66 Whether the exemplum is a verbatim fragment or not, and who the speaker may or may not have been, is beside the point; what the preceding exercise has revealed is how the development of L. Brutus as an exemplum for the Junii Bruti was connected to their own ideological self-fashioning and to their contests with political opponents in this period. The example from the Rhetorica may have arisen in one such contest. More tangibly, Accius’ Brutus had cast L. Brutus in the ideological limelight – along with his contemporary namesake – while a generation later his potency as an ideological exemplum could be wielded by Crassus against another Brutus. The dynamics of these two performative contexts in the ideological history of the Junii Bruti illustrate the long-recognised adaptability of ideological exempla, but taken with the cases of the Lutatii Catuli and Livii Drusi, we may reach further conclusions. Firstly, the gens could become ideological by virtue of the perceived political actions of its maiores, wherein the family tree carried latent ideological sap that an orator could tap in relation to a living member of the same gens. Following this, ideological exempla were inherently more potent when applied to a member of the same gens as the exemplum, in that the descendants of that family – broadly or narrowly conceived – were bound by the ideological memoria of their maiores. The orator could then strategically exploit, or himself face, the ideological discourse available in their stockpile of family exempla. As a very specific linguistic symbol for some exceptional families, such as the Junii Bruti, their family exempla would almost always be bound up with a very particular ideological discourse. Unlike the chequered past of Catulus’ uncle Domitius or the ambiguities surrounding the Livii Drusi, the family exemplum of L. Brutus came to accrue a certain ideological stability, clarity and longevity of its own. These characteristics come into focus with the figure of M. Junius Brutus, well before he became the tyrannicide – the inevitable epilogue to our familytree climbing, for in 52 bc Marcus delivered a speech regarding Pompey that has been characterised most recently by Balbo as a ‘forthright attack on 66

Other politically active Bruti in this period: M. Junius Brutus (RE 51, pr. 88 bc), a Marian supporter who committed suicide in 82 bc; L. Junius Brutus Damasippus (RE 58, pr. 82 bc), who may have held a contio before his notorious execution of Sullan supporters, including the previously discussed Carbo; D. Junius Brutus (RE 46, cos. 77 bc), who bucked the family trend, opposing both Saturninus and later Lepidus.

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tyranny’.67 This attack must be set against Marcus’ inevitable selfawareness (and self-fashioning) of his own family tree, drawn up by Atticus (accurate or not) – beginning with Lucius Brutus on the patrilineal side and stretching down to the death of his father at the hands of Pompey.68 The memory of Marcus’ slaughtered father persisted such that, as we have seen, it is attested twenty years later in Cicero’s De lege agraria and in 55 bc with Helvius Mancia’s performance. One year after this, Brutus as a moneyer placed libertas on the obverse and L. Brutus on the reverse of one of his coins.69 For Brutus, then, even before Caesar, there was Pompey: the tyrant and inimicus.70 So too his ideological selffashioning must be understood within the shadow of his father’s memoria, as much as he laid claim to the heritage of L. Brutus. But had the ideological traits of the Junii Bruti not persisted, and had the ideological family exemplum not existed as an oratorical strategy, then perhaps Brutus’ attack on Pompey and the discourse arising after the death of Caesar might have been very different. Counterfactually, C. Servilius Ahala might have figured much more prominently in Brutus’ ideological discourse.71 In his First Philippic, Cicero might not have echoed that phrase – L. Brutus . . . dominatu regio rem publicam liberauit – from Crassus’ famous oration to justify Brutus’ actions.72 In his Tenth Philippic, he could not have blurred the lines between the memoria of the living Brutus and his famous ancestor which, despite Marcus’ absence from his ludi Apollinares in 44 bc, made his presence felt to the crowd: ‘the body of the liberator was absent, but the memoria of libertas was present, in which the imago of Brutus seemed to be perceived’.73 And thus this intentional slippage between ancestor and descendant would have held no resonance; the ideological bond between the Bruti – archaic and Late Republican – that so readily springs to mind today just would not be. 67 68 70 71

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Balbo 2013: 316. M. Iunius Brutus ORF4 158 F16 (= Quint. Inst. 9.3.95). Nep. Att.18.3; Cic. Att. 13.40.1 (SB 343). 69 RRC 433/1–2. See Epstein 1987: 43 on the enmity between Brutus and Pompey. Cicero made ample use of Ahala earlier in his career against Catiline and Clodius, but his oratorical application of him to M. Brutus is confined to Phil. 2.26; instead, he preferred (Phil. 2.27) to play on the homonymity between Ahala and two other assassins of the same gens, C. Servilius Casca and P. Servilius Casca Longus. See Arena 2012: 216–7 with n. 259 for Brutus’ use of Ahala. Cic. Phil. 1.13; cf. 2.87, 7.14. Nor could the graffiti in 44 bc at Rome have exhorted Brutus to follow his purported ancestor, on which see Morstein-Marx 2012: 204–15 and Hillard 2013: 112–4. Cic. Phil. 10.8: corpus aberat liberatoris, libertatis memoria aderat, in qua Bruti imago cerni uidebatur. Cf. Plut. Brut. 1.8, preserving a fragment of Posidonius, who claimed that Junii Bruti in his day – thus likely prior to M. Brutus tyrannicide – played up their physical resemblance (τὴν ὁμοιότητα τῆς ἰδέας) to the statue of L. Brutus.

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chapter 15

Good Fortune and the Public Good Disputing Sulla’s Claim to Be Felix Alexandra Eckert

In January 81 bc, the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla celebrated a splendid triumph over King Mithridates VI of Pontus.1 The festivities lasted for two days. Sulla had the spoils of many cities of Greece and Asia Minor displayed in the triumphal procession.2 The Fasti Triumphales refer to the victorious commander as Sulla Felix dictator (‘Sulla the Fortunate, dictator’).3 Officially, Sulla’s triumph was over the Pontic king he had defeated in 85 bc. However, for the Romans, his triumph inevitably provoked strong memories of the Civil War, which had come to its conclusion a few months before, in the Battle of the Colline Gate on 1 November 82 bc.4 In the weeks between the final battle of the Civil War and the celebration of his triumph, Sulla was appointed dictator and awarded the surname Felix (‘the Fortunate’).5 Sulla was the first Roman to adopt this name. The dedication on his golden equestrian statue in the Forum read: ‘Lucius Cornelius Sulla the Fortunate, dictator’.6

I thank the editors, Catherine Steel, Henriette van der Blom and Christa Gray, as well as the anonymous reader for their helpful comments on this chapter. Moreover, I express my gratitude to Jackie Powell (Santa Ana, CA) and Alexander Thein (Dublin) for proofreading my English and for valuable feedback on earlier drafts of this chapter. 1 Plut. Sull. 34.1. 2 Val. Max. 2.8.7. 3 Degrassi 1954: 108. 4 See App. B Civ. 1.98–9 for details regarding Sulla’s appointment as dictator, specifically, the role of the interrex Valerius Flaccus and the approval of the assembly of the people. For the latter, see also App. B Civ. 4.10; cf. Jahn 1970: 11–31 regarding the office of the interrex, and cf. 161–5 for the interregnum of 82 bc preceding Sulla’s dictatorship. 5 Vell. Pat. 2.27.1 records 1 November 82 bc as the date of the Battle of the Colline Gate. Vell. Pat. 2.27.5 indicates that Sulla adopted his surname Felix after the sack of Praeneste and the death of Marius the Younger. The Fasti Capitolini record Sulla as Sulla Felix dictator for the year 82 bc. Cf. Degrassi 1954: 74. For Sulla’s surname Felix, cf. also Balsdon 1951. 6 App. B Civ. 1.97: Κορνηλίου Σύλλα ἡγεμόνος Εὐτυχοῦς. In 80 bc, Sulla was elected consul together with his father-in-law Metellus Pius and struck an aureus depicting his equestrian statue in the Forum. See RRC 381/1a: L SULL FE; on r. LI DIC. See RRC 381/1b: L SVLLA FELIX DIC. Cf. also Sehlmeyer 1999: 204–8.

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Several years before, during the Social War of 91–89 bc, Sulla’s legions expressed belief in their commander’s felicitas (‘good fortune’) by decorating him with the rare honour of the corona graminea (‘grass crown’) for his exploits at the Italian town of Nola. Soldiers awarded this honour to a general who had not only defeated his enemies but also had saved his soldiers from a dire fate.7 The green blades of grass symbolised the original meaning of the word felix as fruit-bearing, thus distinguishing the honoured commander as the bearer of felicitas.8 We may assume that Sulla exploited his military success during his campaign for the consulship of 88 bc. One year later, Sulla publicly expressed his firm conviction of being exceptionally favoured by the gods when he named his twin children Faustus and Fausta (‘auspicious, bringing good fortune’).9 These names had close ties to felix and felicitas, as illustrated by the traditional Republican blessing quod bonum faustum felix fortunatumque sit (‘may it be good, auspicious, fortunate and blessed’).10 In his autobiography, completed shortly before his death in 78 bc, Sulla further emphasised his self-styling as Felix by attributing key achievements in the military and political arena to his felicitas.11 This chapter argues that the Romans perceived Sulla’s claim to felicitas (‘good fortune’) – as expressed by his surname Felix (‘the Fortunate’) – as an outrageous offence against ideas at the heart of Roman society: the divine gift of felicitas and its close ties to the salus rei publicae (the ‘public good of the Romans’). It does so by first discussing the censorial lustration and the Roman triumph, which will show that both concepts were highly relevant to the political and religious life of Rome. Second, this chapter takes a closer look at Sulla’s acts of violence, which will reveal an enormous tension between his deeds and his surname Felix. Third, a detailed analysis of ancient sources from the Late Republic to the early Imperial period 7

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Sulla FRHist 22 F16 (= Plin. HN 22.12). According to Pliny, Sulla was one of only seven Roman generals to be granted the grass crown. See Versnel 1970: 376–7. Plut. Sull. 34.3. The birth date of Sulla’s twins in 87 bc can be derived from the episode of Sulla’s wife Metella fleeing to Greece after Marius and Cinna had returned to Rome. Cf. Plut. Sull. 22.1. Cic. Div. 1.102. By referring to mores, Cicero indicates that the blessing originated in the early days of the Roman Republic. See Keaveney 1983; Behr 1993; Scholz 2003; Smith 2009; Thein 2009; Smith 2013, who discuss the strong emphasis Sulla put on his good fortune in his memoirs. Sulla may have reinterpreted episodes of his earlier career to promote his felicitas in his autobiography. With some likelihood, the capture of King Jugurtha of Numidia and the prophecy of the Chaldean seers, foretelling Sulla’s death after a glorious life at the height of his good fortune, are examples of such reinterpretation. Cf. Eckert 2016.

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illustrates that the Romans did not accept Sulla’s violation of the salus rei publicae. Hence, they disputed his claim to be called ‘the Fortunate’.

Felicitas and Salus Rei Publicae The idea of felicitas originated in both the agricultural and religious spheres of ancient Rome.12 It encompassed agricultural fertility and productivity, promoted by divine favour. An important prerequisite of felicitas was utmost diligence when performing religious rites. A fragmentary speech of Cato the Elder illustrates how the censorial lustration (lustrum) symbolised the close ties between felicitas and the salus rei publicae or salus communis (the public or common good of the Roman people): praeclara fertur Catonis oratio de lustri sui felicitate. iam tunc enim in illa uetere re publica ad censorum laudem pertinebat, si lustrum felix condidissent, si horrea messis implesset, si uindemia redundasset, si oliueta large fluxissent.13 (M. Porcius Cato ORF4 8 F135 [= Pan. Lat. 5(8).13.3])

The ritual of the censorial lustration marked the end of the Roman census. Hence, it related to the Roman people as a whole. It saw individuals with names signifying good fortune walking the sacrificial animals, the suouetaurilia or solitaurilia, in a circle around the gathering of the Roman people before the animals were sacrificed.14 The formula ‘to perform a fortunate lustration’ (lustrum felix condere), used by Cato, conveyed the idea that a censor diligently performing the lustration won the favour of the gods, thus securing ample harvests for the Romans and safeguarding the wellbeing of the Roman people during the five-year period until the next census was held.15 The censorial lustration included a prayer to the 12

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For the concept of felicitas in Rome, see Erkell 1952; Versnel 1970; Fears 1981: 736–826; Wistrand 1987. For the cult of felicitas, cf. Clark 2007. ‘A famous speech of Cato on the felicitas of his lustration came down to us. Back then at the time of the old Republic, the glory of the censors benefitted, when they had performed a fortunate lustration, when the harvest had proved bountiful, when the vintage had been plentiful, when the olive groves had produced oil in abundance.’ (All translations by the author.) Malcovati ad loc. and Cugusi and Sblendorio Cugusi 2001 (= 24 F99) attribute this fragment to Cato’s oration De suis uirtutibus contra Thermum post censuram, a speech given in 183 bc. Linderski 1996b: 377–9 = 2007: 62–3 discusses several speeches of Cato the Elder to which the fragment in question might be attributed. We can assume that the sequence of words si lustrum felix condidissent, si horrea messis implesset, si uindemia redundasset, si oliueta large fluxissent renders Cato’s words quite closely and can therefore be considered a fragment rather than a testimonium. For the distinction between fragment and testimonium, see the general introduction in Cornell FRHist: 14. Cf. Cic. Div. 1.102 and Plin. HN 28.22. Cato the Elder was censor in 184 bc. Because of his excellent conduct of the censorship, the Roman people honoured him with a statue in the temple of the Salus Publica Populi Romani Quiritum on the Quirinal. See Plut. Cat. Mai. 19.3–4. Cf. Winkler 1995: 16, 32. For the temple and its dedication

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immortal gods, asking them to promote the common good of the Romans, the salus rei publicae. In 142 bc, the censor Scipio Africanus Minor is said to have changed the ancient prayer: Africanus . . . qui censor, cum lustrum conderet inque solitaurilium sacrificio scriba ex publicis tabulis sollemne ei precationis carmen praeiret, quo di immortales ut populi Romani res meliores amplioresque facerent rogabantur, ‘satis’ inquit ‘bonae et magnae sunt: itaque precor ut eas perpetuo incolumes seruent’, ac protinus in publicis tabulis ad hunc modum carmen emendari iussit.16 (Val. Max. 4.1.10)

The idea of the public good as expressed in the censorial lustration encompassed both agricultural fertility and the growth of the Roman populace. The censor had performed a fortunate lustration when harvests were plentiful and the number of Roman citizens had increased. The Roman census, conducted on the Campus Martius, comprised an assessment of the lists of Roman citizens and their tax class. The sacrifice of the suouetaurilia to the god Mars concluded the census. According to Roman thinking, this god had a dual nature as the god of fertility and the god of war.17 Consequently, the close association of felicitas and the common good of the Romans also played an important role in the military sphere of Roman society. The Roman general who excelled in battle after having carefully taken the auspices (auspicia) was perceived as the bearer of felicitas. The Romans considered his success a divinely favoured victory for the Roman people at large, as symbolised by the ritual of the Roman triumph.18 The formula ‘accomplished with success and good fortune’ (bene ac feliciter gesta), employed by a Roman general to request a triumph after a victorious military campaign, implied glory for the general, the Roman people and Jupiter Optimus Maximus.19 His temple, the Capitol, marked the final destination of the triumphal procession and provided the setting for the successful general’s sacrifice.

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in 302 bc, see also Clark 2007: 176–7. For the significance of the censorial lustration, cf. Eisenhut KP s.v. lustrum; Baudy 1998: 236–46; Sciarrino 2011: 174–5. ‘As a censor, Scipio Africanus performed the lustration: at the sacrifice of solitaurilia, the scribe was reading the traditional prayer from the public tables. The formula asked the immortal gods to improve and enlarge the affairs of the Roman people. Scipio said, “They are good and great enough, so I implore the Gods to protect them from harm forever.” And immediately he gave the order to adapt the prayer in the public tables accordingly.’ Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 4.22 and Livy, 1.44.1–2 describe the Campus Martius as the place where the censorial lustrum was carried out. See Baudy 1998: 114–15 for the dual nature of the god Mars. See Cic. Fam. 15.5.2 (SB 111) and Wistrand 1987: 37–8. For the ritual of the Roman triumph, cf. also Beard 2007. See Cicero and Livy e.g. Cic. Pis. 97 or Livy, 31.48.12. For the formula, see Pabst 1997: 62, n. 172; Pittenger 2008: 179–80.

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The close relation between felicitas and the salus rei publicae in the context of the Roman triumph became evident when the victorious general donated part of his booty, the harvest of war, to the populus Romanus, by giving public banquets and games, constructing public buildings or dedicating temples.20 The ritual of the Roman triumph expressed the idea that a victory in war was more than the divinely favoured achievement of the Roman general as an individual. For the Romans, it represented a military success on behalf of and for the Roman people at large and therefore contributed to the salus rei publicae. When the general finally dedicated the laurel wreath to Jupiter on the Capitol, the evergreen laurel leaves represented both the hope for continuing military success and a reminder of the original meaning of felix – ‘fruit-bearing’.21

Sulla’s Violation of the Salus Rei Publicae The spectators at Sulla’s triumphal procession were well aware that Sulla had violated the salus rei publicae in a way hitherto unknown in Roman history. Sulla was the first Roman to be responsible for the death of tens of thousands of his fellow countrymen in a civil war. On the morning of 2 November 82 bc, when the dust had settled on the battlefield near the Colline Gate, the corpses of 50,000 citizens lay scattered within sight of Rome.22 The death toll of the Civil War amounted to more than 100,000 Roman soldiers.23 However, Sulla decided that the bloodshed was not yet over. Only three days after his victory, he ordered a mass execution of Roman citizens near the building of the censors, the Villa Publica, although 20 21

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See Wistrand 1987: 29–30; Churchill 1999. Cf. Versnel 1970: 356–71, esp. 361–66, regarding the significance of felicitas for the ritual of the Roman triumph and the symbolic meaning of the laurel wreath. Cf. also Pabst 1997: 62. App. B Civ 1.93 records 50,000 dead soldiers at the Colline Gate. This number seems reliable. Florus testifies a total of 70,000 soldiers who perished in the Battle of Sacriportus and the Battle of the Colline Gate. See Flor. 2.9.23–5. Sulla’s memoirs record 20,000 dead enemies and 8,000 prisoners at Sacriportus: Sulla F25 FRHist 22 F25 (= Plut. Sull. 28.8). Claudius Quadrigarius testifies to 25,000 soldiers killed at the Battle of Sacriportus: Quadrigarius FRHist 24 F88 (= Oros. 5.20.6). Velleius’ and Plutarch’s accounts also indicate that the figure of 50,000 men killed at the Colline Gate is probably correct. According to Velleius, 40,000 Samnite troops were engaged in the Battle of the Colline Gate, the vast majority of whom perished. Plutarch describes how Sulla’s forces suffered huge losses of about four legions. See Vell. Pat. 2.27.1–3; Plut. Sull. 29.7; Crass. 6.6. Diod. Sic. 37.29.5 and App. B Civ. 1.103 both provide a figure of 100,000 soldiers for the overall death toll of Sulla’s second march on Rome. This does not seem exaggerated with respect to the 70,000 victims recorded for the battles at Sacriportus and the Colline Gate. See App. B Civ 1.93 and note 22. Moreover, in the battles at Mount Tifata (Plut. Sull. 27.4–5), Clusium, Faventia and Fidentia (Vell. Pat. 2.28.1), Sulla and his commanders routed many legions of the enemy forces. Therefore, an overall death toll in the Civil War of between 90,000 and 100,000 soldiers seems likely.

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he had promised to spare them if they surrendered. Their relatives and friends, and even bystanders who happened to be in the Villa Publica at the time, were also assassinated along with them. The Romans were left trembling.24 The river Tiber carried away the bodies of 8,000 men.25 Sulla’s atrocities in the Villa Publica were only the prelude to a series of seemingly endless acts of violence and terror. Sulla gave his soldiers free rein to kill personal enemies.26 Riots and anarchy in Rome and Italy were the result. Within a short time, the death toll of Sulla’s marauding troops in Rome surpassed the slaughter at the Villa Publica.27 Terror and fear overshadowed Roman society. Sulla also introduced the proscriptions, a new device to eliminate political enemies. Proscription had the most severe consequences for the citizen in question, his wife and children.28 The names of the proscribed were published on lists in the Forum. With immediate effect, they were condemned to death, outlawed and their property confiscated; their wives lost their dowries; and their children were deprived of both inheritance and all rights to run for public office.29 What is more, bounty hunters were awarded large sums of money for killing proscribed men, and anyone supporting a proscribed person was subject to the death penalty.30 The public archives recorded the names of 4,700 proscribed Romans.31 Sulla himself presided over public auctions in the Forum, where the confiscated property of the proscribed men was sold to his partisans for a fraction of its true value.32 Sulla even dared to proclaim in public that he was selling ‘his booty’ (se sua praeda uendere) when he auctioned the property of Roman citizens.33 24 25

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Val. Max. 9.2.1. [Sall.] Ep. ad Caes. 1.4.1–2; Strab. 5.4.11; Livy, Per. 88; Val. Max. 9.2.1; Sen. Clem. 1.12.2; Ben. 5.16.3; Plut. Sull. 30; Flor. 2.9.24–5; Dio Cass. 30–5 F109. The ancient sources provide figures of between 3,000 (Strabo) and 8,000 (Livy) persons who had fallen victim to Sulla’s atrocities in the Villa Publica. The discrepancy between the figures of Strabo and Livy can be explained. Strabo’s account represents only a small portion of those executed in the Villa Publica, namely, the survivors of four legions of Samnite troops. Livy’s figure of 8,000 victims, however, also includes the inhabitants of Antemnae (see Plut. Sull. 30) and the many Romans who had mingled in the Villa Publica with the Samnite troops who had surrendered (see Dio Cass. 30–5 F109). At the end of the Civil War, Sulla had twenty-three legions, or about 120,000 soldiers, under his command. See Livy, Per. 89; App. B Civ. 1.104. Oros. 5.21 records a toll of 9,000 citizens killed by Sulla’s marauding soldiers in Rome. See also Heftner 2006, who demonstrates that Sulla’s victory on 1 November 82 bc was not immediately followed by the onset of the proscriptions, as had been suggested by Hinard 1985. Instead, a time of anarchy and arbitrary assassinations preceded. Eckert 2014 discusses the proscriptions from the perspective of cultural trauma. 31 Plut. Sull. 31.4–5. 30 See Sen. Ben. 5.16.3; Plut. Sull. 31.4. Val. Max. 9.2.1. Cic. Rosc. Am. 6, 80–1, 93. Plut. Cic. 3.2–3 describes the true value of Sextus Roscius’ estate as 250 talents, while it was sold for 2,000 drachmas during one of Sulla’s auctions. Cic. Verr. 2.3.81. For Sulla’s proclamation that he was selling his booty, see van der Blom 2017.

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When Sulla put up the first list of eighty proscribed men in the Forum, his fellow citizens expected that this would give them at least some safety by determining who was condemned to death and who was safe.34 Sulla, however, shattered those hopes after only one day. He arbitrarily extended the proscription lists on the following two days by several hundred names and announced that he would repeat this as he pleased.35 He even had the lists extended by his partisans.36 As the example of M. Plaetorius demonstrated, no one in Rome could feel safe: Sulla’s bounty hunters assassinated him on the spot for having fainted while witnessing the cruel killing of a proscribed man.37 As many executions of proscribed Romans were carried out in public, the outrageous deeds of Sulla’s partisans were highly visible in Roman society.38 Two months after the proscriptions had begun, in the midst of an atmosphere of mortal fear and uncertainty, Sulla celebrated his triumph. However, no end to the terror was in sight. According to Sulla’s lex Cornelia de proscriptione, the proscriptions would continue for another four months until 1 June 81 bc.39 Although the proscriptions were primarily directed against members of the Roman elite, fear dominated all social strata of Roman society. Accidentally falling prey to Sulla’s cruelty could be a matter of showing the wrong facial expression, bearing a name similar to one of those already on the lists or wearing an expensive tunic.40 Not even Sulla’s partisans could feel safe.41 Sulla ordered the public execution of one of his most faithful generals, Q. Lucretius Ofella, on the pretext that this man had not followed his orders.42 Ofella had overseen the siege and surrender of Praeneste.43 At that time, this Italian town was the last stronghold of Sulla’s fiercest opponent, Marius the Younger, and his remaining troops.44 Although Sulla’s envoy Cethegus had promised protection to the Praenestines if they surrendered, Sulla ordered the execution of 12,000 inhabitants of Praeneste.45 He even had the corpses scattered on 34 36

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Plut. Sull. 31.3. 35 Plut. Sull. 31.3. See Cic. Rosc. Am. and the role of Sulla’s freedman Chrysogonus in the proscription of Sextus Roscius the Elder. Val. Max. 9.2.1; Flor. 2.9.26. M. Plaetorius had fainted at the cruel killing of M. Marius Gratidianus. For M. Plaetorius as a victim of the proscriptions, see Hinard 1985: 393–4. Val. Max. 9.2.1. 39 Cic. Rosc. Am. 128. 40 See Sall. Cat. 51.32–5; Dio Cass. 30–5 F109. Dio Cass. 30–5 F109 states that nobody except those belonging to the innermost circle of Sulla’s partisans could live without fear. Livy, Per. 89; Asc. 91C; Plut. Sull. 33.4; App. B Civ. 101; Dio Cass. 37.10.2. 43 Vell. Pat. 2.27.6. Livy, Per. 88; Vell. Pat. 2.27.4–6; Val. Max. 6.8.2. Plut. Sull. 32.1 records 12,000 victims at Praeneste. Sulla’s soldiers executed 5,000 inhabitants of Praeneste (Val. Max. 9.2.1) and 7,000 Samnites. Sulla spared only the Romans present at Praeneste. Both Samnites and Romans belonged to the forces of Marius the Younger, who had fled to Praeneste after their defeat in the battle of Sacriportus. See Diod. Sic. 38/39.15.1 and App. B Civ. 1.94.

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the fields.46 A mere ten weeks after these acts of violence, Sulla displayed the gold of Praeneste in his triumphal procession, thus provoking strong memories of the Civil War.47 The fate of Praeneste also signified that Sulla’s atrocities were not confined to the city of Rome. Terror, bloodshed and proscriptions affected many Italian towns. Sulla deprived municipalities of their Roman citizenship, confiscated their land to establish colonies for his veterans and even razed some of them to the ground.48 Sulla had sacrificed the public good of the Roman people for his personal advantage. Even after his victory, an enormous number of Romans were doomed to die as a direct consequence of Sulla’s atrocities. By conservative estimates, more than 30,000 men fell victim to the mass executions in the Villa Publica and at Praeneste, to Sulla’s marauding soldiers and to the proscriptions.49 About 1 million citizens lived in Rome and Italy before the Civil War of 83–82 bc.50 About 100,000 soldiers (i.e. 10 per cent of the male Roman population) were killed in Sulla’s Civil War. After Sulla’s victory at the Colline Gate, his acts of vengeance increased the already high death toll to at least 130,000 Roman citizens.51 We may assume that most people living on the Italian peninsula knew at least one of Sulla’s victims in person.

Sulla and the Public Good in Cicero’s Speech for Sextus Roscius of Ameria Cicero addressed Sulla’s violation of the salus rei publicae as early as 80 bc in his speech defending Sextus Roscius of Ameria. At that time, Sulla was still the most powerful man in Rome.52 To win acquittal for his client, Cicero’s 46 47

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Val. Max. 9.2.1; Plut. Sull. 32.1. Plin. HN 33.16. Lange 2013: 73–4 and Wienand 2015: 189–90 discuss the display of the gold of Praeneste in Sulla’s triumphal procession as an example of a Republican restitutio being within the boundaries of Roman values. Both authors neglect that Sulla’s triumph took place in an atmosphere of terror provoked by the ongoing proscriptions. The display of the gold evoked the negative memories associated with the massacre of Praeneste. Sulla’s triumph may thus have even intensified the fear. See Cic. Dom. 79; Flor. 2.9.27; App B Civ. 1.96, 100. Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 5.77.5 even testifies that 40,000 Romans of the opposing party were killed on Sulla’s orders after they had surrendered to him. Beloch provides a figure of 963,000 Roman citizens for the census of 86/85 bc and 910,000 Roman citizens for the next census held in 70/69 bc. Brunt gives a figure of 981,000 citizens for the census of 70/69 bc. Hence, a figure of 1 million Roman citizens in Italy seems plausible. Cf. Beloch 1886: 348, 352; Brunt 1987: 92, 94, 97. Flor. 2.9.23 points out that the end of the war was not the end of the killing. Dyck 2010: 4 places the date of the trial in early 80 bc. At that time, Sulla was consul together with Metellus Pius. Whether Sulla still held office as dictator in early 80 bc is a matter of debate. Appian

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first line of argument addressed the injustice committed by certain individuals towards his client, Sextus Roscius, who had first lost his father at the hands of his relatives, had then been deprived of his inheritance when his father was proscribed and finally had been falsely accused of parricide. When pursuing this line of argument, Cicero attacks Sulla’s partisan Chrysogonus and the treacherous relatives of Sextus Roscius, as well as the prosecutor Erucius.53 He even declares that Sulla had been too busy as head of the res publica to recognise the wicked deeds of his follower Chrysogonus: huc accedit, quod, quamuis ille felix sit, sicut est, tamen in tanta felicitate nemo potest esse, in magna familia qui neminem neque seruum neque libertum improbum habeat.54 (Cic. Rosc. Am. 22)

Of equal importance for Cicero’s strategy to win over the judges was a second line of argument addressing the devastating effects of the proscriptions for Roman society at large. Without mentioning Sulla, he argues that continuing the arbitrary extension of the proscription lists will further deteriorate the well-being of the Roman people and will finally destroy social cohesion.55 In the last section of the speech, Cicero appeals to the judges to banish the cruelty against Roman citizens from the res publica.56 When Cicero illustrated the consequences of the proscriptions for Roman society, he provoked the question of who was ultimately responsible for the plight of the Republic. The answer is, of course, always the same: Sulla. However, it is never expressed directly. The following passage illustrates how brilliantly Cicero used the two lines of argument to make his point: te pugna Cannensis accusatorem sat bonum fecit. multos caesos non ad Trasumennum lacum, sed ad Seruilium uidimus. quis ibi non est uulneratus ferro Phrygio? non necesse est omnes commemorare Curtios, Marios, denique Memmios, quos iam aetas a proeliis auocabat, postremo Priamum ipsum senem, Antistium, quem non modo aetas, sed etiam leges pugnare

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emphasises that Sulla was the most powerful man in Rome even after having resigned from the dictatorship (App. B Civ. 104). Santangelo 2007: 83 argues that Cicero tried to downplay Sulla’s responsibility for the proscriptions by blaming Chrysogonus. He overlooks Cicero’s indirect criticism of Sulla. ‘Moreover, may he be as fortunate as he really is: despite his good fortune, nobody can be so fortunate as not to have a deceitful slave or freedman in a large following.’ See Hinard 1990 for the disruptive consequences of Sulla’s proscriptions for Roman families. Cic. Rosc. Am. 154.

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Cicero carefully entwines the two perspectives of the individual and of Roman society at large. He takes the individual point of view when he addresses Roscius’ prosecutor Erucius and names victims of the proscriptions: Curtius, Marius, Memmius and Antistius.58 When Cicero alludes to the countless heads of the proscribed presented to Sulla at the Servilian Basin and the hundreds of Romans who fell victim to the proscriptions because they had formerly acted as prosecutors in court, he argues from the point of view of Roman society at large. What is more, by taking the worst defeats of the Roman past, the Battle of Cannae and the Battle of Lake Trasimenus, and relating them to the Civil War and the proscriptions, Cicero associates the winner of the Civil War and the instigator of the proscriptions with Hannibal.59 At first sight, the orator leaves it to the imagination of his audience to take this allusion a step further, but the conclusion is inevitable: Sulla Felix dictator is the arch enemy of Roman society, the worst threat to the public good.60 With the rhetorical question, quis ibi non est uulneratus ferro Phrygio? (who was not injured there by Phrygian steel?), Cicero addressed how many Romans had lost family members, relatives or friends after Sulla had turned Phrygian steel from the Mithridatic War against his fellow citizens. The dramatic diminution of the number of Roman citizens due to Sulla’s Civil War and his acts of vengeance constituted a major offence against the Roman notion of felicitas and its relation to the common good. Sulla Felix’s decision not to have 57

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‘You [Erucius] became an acceptable prosecutor as a result of the battle of Cannae. Our eyes have seen many who have perished, not near Lake Trasimenus, but at the Servilian Basin. “Who was not injured there by Phrygian steel?” We do not need to name men like Curtius, Marius and finally Memmius, who already no longer engaged in battle because of their age; last to mention, their old Priam, Antistius; not only his age, but also laws, prohibited him from fighting; then, a large number of prosecutors in cases of murder and poisoning, who are never mentioned because nobody knows their names.’ For the translation of the generalising plural Curtios, Marios, denique Memmios (‘men like Curtius, Marius, Memmius’), see Dyck 2010: 155. Cf. Hinard 1985: 347–8 (Curtius), 371–2 (Memmius), 375–7 (Marius) and 330–1 (Antistius), who discusses said victims of Sulla’s proscriptions in more detail. For the way in which Cicero associated the battle of Lake Trasimenus with the Servilian Basin, see Cic. Rosc. Am. 89. Cf. Diehl 1988: 92; Stinger 1993: 36; Bücher 2006: 272; van der Blom 2010: 114. Dyck 2010: 154–7 convincingly points out that Cicero alludes to the proscriptions by mentioning the Servilian Basin in Rosc. Am. 89. However, Dyck does not consider the perspective of Roman society. When mentioning the battles of Cannae and Lake Trasimenus, Cicero argues on the ‘collective’ level; his succinct words express severe criticism of Sulla, the man responsible for Civil War and proscriptions. Thus, I dispute Dyck’s position that the full passage Cic. Rosc. Am. 89–91 clearly exculpates Sulla. Cf. Dyck 2010: 154.

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a census carried out in 81 or 80 bc may therefore have been far from a coincidence. The substantial decrease in the Roman population since the previous census of 86 and 85 bc would have been all too obvious.61

The Essence of Felicitas: Cicero’s Speech on the Manilian Law In 66 bc, Cicero addressed the Romans in an assembly of the people to speak in favour of Pompey’s command against King Mithridates.62 In this speech, the orator included a remarkable passage on the general nature of felicitas that I shall paraphrase and analyse in the following. According to Cicero, good fortune is a favour from the gods that no man may ascribe to himself. To refer to the felicitas of a specific person without exercising strict moderation, or to take the divine gift for granted, would provoke the anger of the gods.63 Hence, even if military success indicated that the favour of the gods had rested with a general such as Pompey in the past, the Romans could only cautiously hope, but never expect with certainty, that the gods would bestow felicitas again.64 The Romans should wish that the immortal gods granted Pompey felicitas as a permanent gift, for the sake of the public good, the state and the general himself (cum communis salutis atque imperii, tum ipsius hominis causa).65 Pompey had accomplished his earlier achievements with the favour of the gods and to the benefit of the Roman state (cum salute rei publicae). Cicero ends this passage by concluding that assigning the command to Pompey would therefore prove advantageous to the Roman people.66 When Cicero referred the Roman people to Pompey’s military achievements, this inevitably evoked the memory of Sulla Felix because Pompey had taken the first steps of his career under Sulla. To draw a clear line of distinction between Pompey and Sulla, Cicero decided not to mention the latter’s name when elaborating on the nature of felicitas and Pompey’s good fortune in particular. Although Cicero avoided Sulla’s name, his words indirectly, but unmistakably, related to Sulla’s abuse of felicitas. In this 61 62

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For Sulla’s violation of the public good, see also Eckert 2016. The tribune C. Manilius had proposed a law to assign the command in the war against King Mithridates to Pompey. Thus, this speech is called ‘On the Manilian Law’. The attitude of the Roman plebs towards Pompey’s command was a favourable one, hence providing a friendly atmosphere for Cicero’s arguments. Cf. Tan 2008: 183; Jehne 2013b: 54. For the view that the gods are perceived as a real power that must not be provoked, see Chapter 9. Cic. Leg. Man. 47–8. 65 Cic. Leg. Man. 48. Cic. Leg. Man. 49–50. Cicero also provides examples of Pompey’s military achievements in Leg. Man. 30. For the relevance of the public good in Cicero’s speech on the Manilian Law, see Jehne 2013b: 54–5.

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respect, Sulla was responsible for three major offences. Firstly, by adopting the surname Felix, he had ascribed felicitas to himself, although good fortune was considered a divine favour.67 Secondly, Sulla had expressed a permanent claim to felicitas by adopting the surname Felix, thus taking the divine gift for granted. Thirdly, owing to the enormous death toll of the Civil War and his acts of vengeance, Sulla the Fortunate had violated the public good of the Romans in an unprecedented way. By being the first Roman in history to name himself Felix, he had not only failed to show moderation towards the divine sphere, but he also perverted the idea of felicitas with its close ties to the well-being of the populus Romanus.

Evoking Memories of Sulla: Caesar’s Auction of Pompey’s Property Cicero’s Second Philippic, written approximately half a year after Caesar’s assassination in March 44 bc, illustrates how Sulla’s offences against the idea of felicitas and the public good had exerted a profound and longlasting effect on Roman society.68 In this speech, the famous orator remembers how Caesar’s self-fashioning took a remarkable turn. From the beginning of the Civil War in 49 bc until late 47, Caesar distanced himself from Sulla’s atrocities by pursuing a policy of clemency towards his enemies.69 After he had defeated Pompey in the battle of Pharsalus in August 48 bc, Caesar spared the surviving commanders and soldiers of the enemy forces.70 Pompey fled to Alexandria, where the Egyptians killed 67

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Steel 2001: 134–5 elaborates on Sulla’s surname Felix with respect to Cicero’s remark in Pro lege Manilia that no man should ascribe felicitas to himself. In her discussion of Cic. Leg. Man. 48, Welch 2008: 194 argues that Cicero presented Pompey’s felicitas as a personal attribute. To the contrary, Cicero outlines felicitas as being a divine favour. In contrast to the First Philippic, which Cicero delivered in the Roman Senate on 2 September 44 bc, he never actually delivered the Second Philippic. However, Cicero published it, probably as early as the end of November 44 bc, when Antonius had left Rome. Cf. Ramsey 2010: 9, 81, 155–9. Caesar openly announced his policy of clemency and distanced himself from Sulla in a letter addressed to a wider audience in Rome. Cf. Cic. Att. 9.7C (SB 174C: 5 March 49 bc): ‘L. Sulla, whom I will not imitate. Let this be our new strategy to achieve victory that we arm ourselves with mercy and gentleness’ (L. Sullam, quem imitaturus non sum. haec noua sit ratio uincendi, ut misericordia et liberalitate nos muniamus). Caesar rarely refers to clementia in his writings. Instead, he prefers to speak of his opposition to crudelitas, his misericordia, lenitas or liberalitas. Cf. Griffin 2003: 159–63. However, Caesar appreciated others praising his clementia. See Cic. Att. 9.16.1–2 (SB 185: 26 March 49 bc) and Cic. Marcell. 1, 12. Also, the Civil War narratives Bellum Africanum and Bellum Alexandrinum written by Caesar’s continuators quite often refer to Caesar’s clementia. Moreover, in 45 bc, the Senate decreed a temple to Caesar’s clementia. See Plut. Caes. 57.3; App. B Civ. 2.106; Dio Cass. 44.6.4. A coin issued by P. Sepullius Macer in 44 bc depicts the temple and bears the legend clementiae caesaris. See RRC 480/21. For Caesar’s clementia, cf. Konstan 2005; Dowling 2006: 20–8; Braund 2009: 35–6. Caes. B Civ. 3.99; Vell. Pat. 2.52; Plut. Caes. 44–6; Pomp. 68–73.

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him shortly before Caesar arrived. Caesar had Pompey’s murderers put to death and treated Pompey’s comrades with mildness before he returned to Rome in October 47 bc.71 At first, he seemed to continue his policy of distancing himself from Sulla by refraining from celebrating a Civil War triumph for his victory over Pompey at Pharsalus.72 However, he then made an outrageous move by publicly auctioning Pompey’s property. In the Second Philippic, Cicero chooses his words carefully when recalling Caesar’s auction: ‘Caesar returned from Alexandria, a fortunate man, as he considered himself; however, in my opinion, no one can be called fortunate who brings misfortune upon the Republic’ (Caesar Alexandrea se recepit, felix, ut sibi quidem uidebatur, mea autem sententia, qui rei publicae sit infelix, felix esse nemo potest).73 According to Cicero, the Romans made it unmistakably plain that they would not approve of the auction when Caesar had the auctioneer’s lance put up in the Forum. Though the many people attending were struck with fear, they confronted Caesar with a collective groan of rejection. What is more, both Caesar’s followers and the crowd refused to bid. Finally, Antonius stepped forward as the sole bidder and seized Pompey’s goods.74 In his judgement, namely, that someone who brings misfortune upon the Republic cannot be considered a bearer of felicitas, Cicero addressed how Caesar had ignored the close ties between felicitas and the public good of the Romans.75 When Caesar sold Pompey’s property, only thirty-five years had passed since Sulla had waged a Civil War with an enormous death toll and auctioned the goods of proscribed Romans as if they were booty seized in a war against foreign enemies.76 Hence, Caesar’s auction evoked strong memories of Sulla’s Civil War and the proscriptions among the Romans present in the Forum. These Romans had either been eyewitnesses of Sulla’s cruel deeds or were the children, relatives and friends of eyewitnesses. Moreover, many of them had known Sulla’s victims in person. With their groan and their refusal to bid, the bystanders of 71 72 73

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Plut. Caes. 48–51; Pomp. 79–80. See also Ramsey 2010: 253 for Caesar’s return from Egypt to Rome. For Caesar’s decision against a triumph after the battle of Pharsalus, see Dio Cass. 42.18.1. Cic. Phil. 2.64. In his work De officiis written at the end of 44 bc, Cicero openly attacks both Caesar and Sulla for having waged a civil war and having sold the goods of dead enemies under the ‘bloodstained spear’ (hastam illam cruentam) of an auctioneer. See Cic. Off. 2.29. Cf. also Cic. Off. 2.27–9 and 2.83. Cf. Dyck 1996: 402–6, 476–7. Cic. Phil. 2.64. A coin issued by the moneyer M. Lollius Pelikanus bears the legend felicitas and is generally believed to refer to one of Caesar’s victories in the Civil War. Cf. RRC 473/3. According to [Caes.] B Afr. 83.1, Caesar used felicitas as the watchword in the battle of Thapsus. Cic. Verr. 2.3.81.

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Caesar’s auction expressed their indignation that Caesar, just like Sulla, forced them to witness such an impious spectacle. Caesar, who in his youth had almost fallen victim to Sulla’s acts of violence and who had claimed from the onset of the Civil War that he would not imitate Sulla, now publicly sold the property of his dead Civil War enemy Pompey.77 When Cicero described Antonius’ bid as a crime committed by ‘an enemy of gods and men’ (dis hominibusque hostis), his judgement was aimed at both Antonius as the bidder in this impious auction and Caesar as the one responsible for the auction and the Civil War.78 In 46 bc, Caesar once more followed in Sulla’s footsteps. He formally celebrated four triumphs over foreign nations on four consecutive days.79 However, his triumphs over Egypt and Africa were in fact triumphs over fellow Romans in a Civil War. Like Sulla, who had displayed the gold of Praeneste in his triumph, thus evoking strong memories of the Civil War of 83–82 bc, Caesar clouded the splendour of his triumph over Africa by openly presenting the goods of Roman citizens and pictures of his Civil War enemies who had committed suicide after their defeat. When the spectators of the African triumph saw the images of Caesar’s opponents, L. Scipio, Petreius and Cato the Younger, they gave a loud groan despite their fear.80

Challenging Sulla’s Felicitas during the Roman Empire The concepts of felicitas and salus rei publicae were deeply rooted in Roman identity. Hence, they prevailed during the Roman Empire. The first Emperor Augustus (27 bc–ad 14) established himself as the exclusive bearer of imperium (the right to command military forces) and auspicium (the right to perform the ritual of the auspices). Consequently, his successors 77

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After Sulla’s victory, Caesar refused to divorce the daughter of Sulla’s enemy Cinna. As a result, Sulla’s bounty hunters tried to assassinate Caesar. However, Caesar managed to escape. Cf. Vell. Pat. 2.41.2; Plut. Caes. 1.1–3; Suet. Iul. 1.1–2, 74.1. For Caesar’s distancing of himself from Sulla, see Cic. Att. 9.7C (SB 174C). Cic. Phil. 2.64. Courrier 2014: 820 discusses Caesar’s auction as depicted in Cic. Phil. 2.64. He considers Pompey’s high popularity among the Roman people (cf. App. B Civ 2.102) to be the reason for the crowd’s rejection of Caesar’s auction. However, Courrier neglects the negative memories that were evoked when Caesar sold Pompey’s goods. Ramsey assumes that Antonius was the only man in the Forum with the financial means to buy Pompey’s estates and that he may have expected a discount from Caesar, similar to those Sulla had granted to his partisans. Cf. Ramsey 2004: 163–4, 169; Ramsey 2010: 254–5. Yet, if Antonius remembered Sulla and Sulla’s proscriptions at Caesar’s auction of Pompey’s goods in 47 bc, why should the other Romans present in the Forum not remember the months of terror during Sulla’s proscriptions? Livy, Per. 115A; Vell. Pat. 2.56.1–2; Plut. Caes. 55.1–3.; Suet. Iul. 37.1; Dio Cass. 43.19.1–3. App. B Civ. 2.101; Dio Cass. 43.19.2.

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maintained close ties with the idea of felicitas and bore a special responsibility to safeguard the public good.81 Sulla Felix’s severe violation of the salus rei publicae therefore remained highly relevant. During the Late Republic, mere allusions were sufficient to evoke strong memories of Sulla’s abuse of felicitas. In the Imperial period, references to Sulla’s atrocities become more explicit, possibly because eyewitnesses to his deeds had passed away.82 An illuminating passage from Valerius Maximus’ Memorable Deeds and Sayings, written during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius (ad 14–37), demonstrates the long-lasting repercussions of Sulla’s offences against the idea of felicitas. More than a hundred years after Cicero’s defence of Sextus Roscius, Valerius expressed openly what Cicero had only alluded to in 80 bc: Sulla followed the bad example of the Roman arch-enemy Hannibal in savouring his victory. He cruelly flooded Rome and every region of Italy with rivers of citizens’ blood. He ordered mass executions in the Villa Publica and at Praeneste. He was responsible for the proscription of political enemies as well as innocent Romans and had the heads of proscribed men brought before him. Valerius concludes his succinct description of Sulla’s acts of vengeance with a telling exclamation disputing Sulla’s claim to be Felix: en quibus actis felicitatis nomen adserendum putauit! (‘on account of these deeds he deemed it proper to insolently claim the surname “The Fortunate”!’).83 Seneca the Younger challenged Sulla’s felicitas in a similar way. In his work, De providentia (‘On Providence’), he considers Sulla’s contemporary Rutilius Rufus fortunate for having remained in exile so as not to witness Sulla’s atrocities. Due to the many victims of the massacre in the Villa Publica and the proscriptions, Seneca disputes Sulla’s claim to be felix.84 In the ad 60s, Seneca the Younger’s nephew Lucan voiced a verdict on Sulla’s surname Felix that closely echoed Valerius Maximus’ words. After having enumerated Sulla’s acts of violence in the Villa Publica and at Praeneste, and having provided cruel details of the proscriptions, Lucan concludes: hisne salus rerum, felix his Sulla uocari?85 (‘did these deeds entitle Sulla to be named salus of the State and Felix?’).86 According to Pliny the Elder, who thrived under the reign of Emperor Vespasian (ad 69–79), Sulla could neither be called a legitimate bearer of 81 82

83

Cf. Erkell 1952: 108; Wistrand 1987: 58; Winkler 1995: 36–45. The proscriptions of the Second Triumvirate in 43 bc revived the memories of Sulla’s atrocities. The triumvirs’ edict shows their futile attempt to distinguish themselves from Sulla Felix. Cf. App. B Civ. 4.10. Val. Max. 9.2.1. 84 Sen. Prov. 3.7–8. 85 Luc. 2.221. 86 Luc. 2.190–220.

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the grass crown nor of the surname Felix, as the death toll from the Civil War and proscriptions by far surpassed the number of citizens he had saved at Nola.87 Pliny thereby referred to the notion that felicitas was firmly rooted in both the agricultural and military spheres, as well as closely tied to the public good and the growth of the Roman populace. This idea had been at the heart of Roman society since the early days of the Republic and remained relevant in the Empire. Sulla’s felicitas was also disputed during the second and third century ad.88 Without doubt, Sulla had been a successful general. However, his victories had exacted a high price: the many lives of his fellow citizens. Consequently, the question arose as to whether Sulla should be regarded as infelix rather than felix. 87 88

Plin. HN 22.12–13. Cf. e.g. Ael. F53 Hercher; Ser. Med. 5.58–63: Sylla quoque infelix. Cf. Eckert 2016.

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chapter 16

Gaius Verres Troubleshooter Martin Stone

When questions are asked about the governance of the Roman Empire, replies will outline an irresistible predatory and rapacious system at work over many centuries. If more detail is called for, the name of C. Verres, governor (73–71 bc) and plunderer of Sicily, will soon come up as typical. But this defeats the purpose of his prosecutor, Cicero, to make him unique. It is argued here that Verres was neither typical nor unique and that he was addressing the issues of a point in time, effectively at first but as things developed less so, and that he fell foul of political enemies who scapegoated him in their promotion of a more ‘modern’ approach to the Empire. The most unusual factor in the Verres case is the existence of a body of material that directly illuminates Roman provincial government and obliquely, without the full cooperation of the author, reveals the shape of a political episode in which Verres is not the only villain. The five speeches of Cicero’s Second Actio against Gaius Verres are a work of literature. More than this, they are a work of fiction. This is not to say an outright lie: they are a purported continuation of a prosecution that had already succeeded (Cic. Verr. 2.1.1–2).1 Verres had left Rome and had been convicted in absentia. There was no need to present the evidence in writing. Oral testimony, assumed to be correct in the First Actio, had served the purpose. Cicero had outmanoeuvred the defence team, who, for their part, had planned a tactical deployment (1.24–37, 53–5). It was not so much a case of what was to be said but when. The defence was outclassed not by words but by the strategy outlined in the First Actio. And yet words did matter. Many thousands of them are still on record in the published fictional Second Actio. Cicero needed to show the reading public that the defendant was irrational and loathsome, guilty beyond the needs of any conceivable prosecution. And yet the fact was that a large part 1

All references henceforth are to Cic. Verr. unless otherwise stated.

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of the political class at Rome, which Cicero was in the process of joining, wanted Verres acquitted.2 And they wanted this even amidst a political crisis affecting the future participation of senators in juries trying criminal cases (2.5.177–8). Drop Verres, said Cicero in the First Actio, or face losing control of – or even participation in – criminal trials whose defendants, prosecutors and many witnesses were in the same political class as the jurors. Now, even after Verres’ conviction and the settlement of the jury issue, it was still necessary to spend time ‘showing’ that he was a waste of space. It was an issue of politics. Two years before, there had been a radical turnaround when the Senate had angrily deposed the consuls of the year from the command against the insurgent forces led by Spartacus and replaced them with Marcus Licinius Crassus in a special command (Plut. Crass. 10.1). This had worked well, and now Crassus was consul. And yet in this year 70 bc, the Senate had been purged by censors who were precisely the consuls deposed in 72. Verres, the governor of Sicily who had cooperated so effectively with Crassus to stop Spartacus crossing over to Sicily, was on trial for extortion – and indeed for everything that he had ever done. The senators who had promoted Crassus, who had just seen their fellows purged and who were now at risk of losing their place on the juries, viewed Verres’ plight with concern and welcomed Q. Hortensius, the orator and tactician, as their champion. Cicero must defeat not only Verres on trial but Hortensius, master of the courts.3 And he must ever so tactfully take on the Senate itself. Cicero won too soon in August 70 bc to show what he might do in open court against the full resources of Hortensius’ oratory. Hortensius had been supreme in the Roman courts hitherto.4 Cicero needed a forum to display his own superiority as an orator – in vituperation, detailed narrative, surprise, the whole range and richness of the orator’s paint-box.5 A new 2

3

4

Cic. Verr. 2.5.182: hominum nobilium non fere quisquam nostrae industriae fauet; nullis nostris officiis beniuolentiam illorum adlicere possumus (‘hardly any of the nobles supports our hard work (that is, on this case); by no performance of our obligations can we win over their goodwill’). These words are part of a disquisition on the difficulties faced by homines noui in competing with aspirants to office of consular descent (2.5.177–83). Of course, this is an exaggeration and ignores the role of the Claudii Marcelli (emphasised by Cicero himself: Div. Caec. 13 etc.). Nevertheless, it would be tactically inept to repudiate large-scale noble support, if it were there, merely for the sake of a standard complaint about the ill use of ‘new men’. Cic. Verr. 2.5.175: tulit haec ciuitas . . . regiam istam uestram dominationem in iudiciis et in omni re publica, tulit (‘this community . . . put up with this kingly power of your group in the courts and in the totality of public life, put up with it, I say’). Cicero is attacking a regime that he identifies with the nobilitas, as Sulla who set it up also did. Cic. Brut. 301–3, 317–19. 5 Cic. Brut. 162; Att. 1.14.3–4 (SB 14).

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master was at work, on which we may refer to the autobiographical sections of the Brutus (317–30). He needed real amplitude on the details of Verres’ administration, for which Verres was on trial, and false amplitude on his activities as commander and judge, in which topics the Roman public would take a keen interest. Integrity was trumped as an issue at Rome by performance in war, and Verres had a case. For Cicero, success was not enough: he must not emerge from this as the ruthless oppressor of a fellow Roman and a fellow senator. Both before and after this episode, Cicero avoided prosecution cases (2.5.183). Verres must therefore be made unique. Is anything retrievable of the reality?

Conversations about Verres: Literary Elision and Historical Suppression Recent decades have witnessed extensive developments in the study of the rhetorical culture of ancient Rome. A military aristocracy spent its years at school learning the rules of oratory. Their speeches and their textbooks have become our study, and Cicero’s published Verrine speeches bulk large in every sense. The five books of the Second Actio are an epideixis, displaying the presence of an art that is still studied by scholars. My purpose here is to demonstrate a certain absence that amounts to suppression: Cicero has not wanted his readers to know the mandate from the Senate that Verres worked with in Sicily, nor his consular aspirations supported by important friends, nor the detailed military cooperation between Verres and Crassus, nor the close interest of the consul Pompey the Great in bringing Verres down (though Cicero does name his collaborators, Pompey’s friends). These things are not part of Cicero’s epideixis, though they are examples of his art. Insistence on noticing only what is on display is a limitation to our current approach. I bring it up here only in works that are otherwise exemplary. 1. Ann Vasaly (2009) addresses the historical importance of Verres’ trial by a new approach that adds to scholarly debate about the political significance of the trial, with Gruen (1971) and Mitchell (1979: 133–49) generally downplaying it in response to the interpretations of Stockton (1973) and Ward (1970). And yet she prefers not to deal with Pompey’s relevance on principle (‘Pompey’s position is unclear’: 2009: 106), which takes us away from a piece of history that Badian (1958: 279–84) got right, that is, Pompey’s involvement.

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2. More complex is the issue of Verres’ alleged crimes not falling straightforwardly under the heading of repetundae (that is, extortion from the Sicilian allies). The fifth Verrine is full of claims that Verres injured the civil rights of Roman citizens and was liable to prosecution for maiestas and perduellio. Cicero actually promises, if Verres is acquitted of repetundae, to bring such charges (2.1.12–14). Moreover, the late Walter Spencer has opened our eyes to Cicero’s use of conspiracy language in the Verrines. Yet he himself notes Cicero’s failure to specify such a charge: ‘in the Verrines, Cicero eschews phrases associated with maiestas (“treason”) and uis (“violence”)’ (2010–11: 125). So his use of ‘conspiracy’ is metaphorical, and we find suppression in the midst of linguistic superabundance. Why has Cicero held off? We must give thought to his backers and their desire not to import the recent state of civil war from Spain to Italy (Plut. Pomp. 20.4). 3. In a complex and nuanced treatment, Jonathan Prag (2013: 279–80) links Verres’ patronal claims with the conceptualisation of a koinon (‘a community’, ‘a province-wide unit’) of Sicily. Prag does not treat the koinon as an accepted fact, nor does Cicero press it. And yet the plea in 70 bc by the orator Sosippus of Agrigentum pro tota Sicilia (‘on behalf of the whole province’) before the consul Pompey in Rome shows not only joint action by the province but also the recognition of this by Pompey, though not by his colleague Crassus (2.3.204). Crassus’ absence cannot be fortuitous: Cicero would not hesitate to claim his goodwill alongside Pompey’s if goodwill was what Crassus manifested. It is in Cicero’s interest to stress the unity of Sicily, and yet, to make Sicily a koinon outright and thus draw attention to Sthenius’ manoeuvres and the province-wide strike by the cultivators would embarrass him. Again, we see suppression in the midst of superabundance. 4. Thomas Frazel (2009: 125–32) is well aware of Hortensius as a presence in the Verrines and takes into account Hortensius’ own Pro Verre, accepted as authentic by Quintilian (Inst. 10.1.23). We cannot now reconstruct in detail the nature of this ‘conversation’ between the orators; the only certainty is that there was one. Reconstruction on the basis of allegations is hazardous, but it will be attempted in this chapter. For inspiration, we should bear in mind Sean Gurd’s (2010) reconstruction of the documentary record behind the Verrines. Detective work is possible and called for.

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Verres’ Consequence at Rome Verres was not a nonentity. He was not a nobilis of consular descent, but his father was a man of substance, perhaps a former praetor, certainly an active and influential senator (2.2.95–100; 2.4.41), and a standing rebuke to his son (2.5.136–8), according to Cicero. The son is presented throughout as a no-hoper. It is a bolt from the blue, therefore, when a slip reveals him as a prospective candidate for the consulate, with close connections to a level of society even higher than his father’s: tibi enim consulatus quaerebatur, Metello paternus honos et auitus neglegebatur? (‘were you after a consulship and L. Metellus careless of an office held by his father and grandfather?’ [2.3.43]). Cicero is enticed by this irony into revealing what it is his policy to conceal elsewhere: his Verres is a political nobody, but this Verres was a prospective candidate for the consulate of 68 bc. Verres would be in electoral alliance (coitio) with L. Caecilius Metellus. Another contemptuous aside – this one is repeated – reveals Verres as a cousin of L. Metellus, who succeeded Verres in Sicily, and hence cousin of his elder brother Q. Metellus, already consul designate for 69 bc in August 70, the dramatic date of the speech, and also cousin of a third brother, M. Metellus, praetor designate for 69 bc. Q. Metellus is friend and colleague of Q. Hortensius, also elected consul for 69 bc and leader of Verres’ defence team. M. Crassus was in office as consul in 70, having cooperated well with Verres in 72 when Spartacus looked like crossing over the strait to Sicily, the scene of former slave wars. Crassus’ son was soon to marry Q. Metellus’ daughter. Were they betrothed at this stage? Verres was part of what might be termed a Münzerian cluster, driving Roman political life by personal relationships.6 L. Metellus had already arrived in Sicily in 70 bc when letters were brought to him by L. Laetilius revealing (or reminding him of) the cognatio (‘blood relationship’) between Verres and the three brothers and forbidding L. Metellus to do anything that would damage Verres’ credit. Cicero is scornful of the cognatio, but the Metelli accepted the relationship: the gratia (‘favour’) and amicitia (‘friendship’) were to be endorsed by family ties (2.2.64, 2.2.138). In August 70 bc, some powerful Romans wanted to make Verres consul; others wanted to eject him from Rome. Cicero himself, having refused the requests of the Sicilians to prosecute Verres, sending them to Q. Caecilius, changed face abruptly: he now emerged to challenge publicly Caecilius’ right to act and was appointed himself to prosecute (Cic. Div. Caec. 4). Asked by 6

Cf. Münzer 1920.

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whom? By many Sicilians, and at Rome by the Claudii Marcelli (Cic. Div. Caec. 13–14). But were they enough to outweigh the bulk of the senatorial elite? What was needed was some new factor, one that would trump Hortensius, the Metelli, the consular C. Curio and many others. Cicero was not seeking martyrdom.

Verres’ Res Gestae in Sicily Cicero’s brief was to accumulate and present the claims of a large number of prosecution witnesses, to provide a dossier of allegations. The court of repetundae was a court of recovery in which the errors and malfeasances of Roman officials could be redressed. At the end of the First Actio (56), Cicero impressively summarised the claim before the court: C. Verres has committed acts of licence and cruelty against Romans and allies and impieties against gods and men, but above all he has appropriated contrary to law 40 million sesterces. Verres could not pay it back and was not asked to. After the trial, the assessment made with Cicero’s assistance came to 3 million sesterces (Plut. Cic. 8.1). Did the Sicilians show dissatisfaction? Did they say, ‘What about the other 37 million?’ They accepted the assessment of damages and rewarded Cicero with voluntary contributions to his expenses as aedile (Plut. Cic. 8.2). They did not think he was bribed to go easy on Verres. We should bear this in mind as we read horror after horror perpetrated by Verres in Sicily. What were the real res gestae of a man whom some were putting forward as a consular candidate? In the mid-70s bc, there was outright famine in Rome. Organised piracy interrupted Mediterranean trade. A slave uprising took large areas of southern Italy out of the economy and threatened to spread to Sicily.7 As will be shown, Verres was energetic in combating all three. He was seeking and earning his prospective consulate. Even his fund-raising in office was more credibly directed towards his political campaign than to his defence in some trial. The grain shortage in 75 bc is the occasion of the famous speech attributed to the consul C. Cotta by Sallust (Hist. 2 F44–8 M). Less well known is the Senate’s systematic response and its political failure in the same year (Cic. Verr. 2.3.18–19). The Senate decreed that some taxes hitherto sold in Sicily under the lex Hieronica (i.e. local practice, possibly revised by the lex Rupilia of 132 bc) should henceforth be sold in Rome under arrangements applying in other provinces. Envisaged returns would 7

CAH IX2: 212–14, 221–3, 232.

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be higher. The current situation in Sicily was felt to be a sweetheart deal. The reform was opposed by a single prominent Sicilian who happened (casu) to be in Rome: Sthenius of Thermae. Sthenius is the key to Cicero’s prosecution. Cicero is brazen about him: Siculo uno recusante (‘a single Sicilian refusing’), that is, refusing to accept the Senate’s decision (2.3.19). The Senate backed down because a single Sicilian objected. The point is double edged. Would the next governor also submit to this important figure or do something? We should see Sicily being run as a cartel that was tolerated by the Roman government, Marian and Sullan, for the sake of peace. Its principal, or capo, had been a friend of Marius, from 82 bc onwards was a friend of Pompey (absent in Spain 76–71 bc) and was clearly close to the consular senators who backed away from raising Sicilian contributions – even in a time of famine at Rome – under pressure from Sthenius. A governor who took on Sthenius in his homeland would make enemies in Sicily and Rome, as Verres was to do in his assumed role of troubleshooter. In the year 75 bc, Verres was elected praetor, served as urban praetor in 74 and went to Sicily pro praetore in 73 (that is, with a praetor’s power). Verres introduced a tough new regime,8 assessing the farmers’ dues by fiat and introducing a safeguard of eightfold reparation if the Roman assessment was found to be excessive. There were no cases. Cicero alleges structural intimidation (2.3.19–26, esp. 2.3.26). Verres’ tithe collector Q. Apronius went into action, and Cicero acknowledges and deplores his effectiveness. How could a poor farmer stand up to such a man? (2.3.25–6). Verres needed to pick a quarrel with Sthenius, escalating his affronts into a capital charge. Forgery was alleged of official documents (2.2.90). Sthenius fled to Italy, taking refuge with Pompey’s friends, the consuls of 72 bc, L. Gellius and Cn. Lentulus Clodianus (2.2.83–118, esp. 2.2.95). The consuls acted, and a decree of the Senate was proposed; Verres’ father promised his son’s compliance without a decree, and the decree was not 8

Verres acts in Sicily as though a senatus consultum introducing a new system of tax collection in the province had been sustained, not withdrawn. In this case, Verres’ innovations would have a mandate; Cicero’s denial is a kind of proof: 2.3.9 ‘You, a man of little sense, without an order from People and Senate, Sicily as a whole in a state of resistance, entirely abolished the law of Hiero on tax-collection’, which elaborates an earlier passage (2.3.17). As it is, Verres’ actions appear to represent an interpretation of the failed decree as an authorisation. The inability to get a senatus consultum passed in favour of Sthenius in 72 bc by the consuls of that year – before or after the transfer of command against Spartacus to Crassus? – is telling. At all stages Verres enjoyed a substantial bloc of senatorial approval. All that Cicero can put up against this fact is that the Senate nearly got annoyed with him. Two renewals of his tenure put paid to this claim.

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passed, but Verres remained recalcitrant (2.2.92–7). What was done to him? Verres continued in command in Sicily until 71 bc – his third year. His immunity suggests that he was doing something right. Cicero must be exaggerating senatorial disapproval. Verres’ assessment of the Senate’s true sentiments proved correct. In 72 bc, Verres cooperated closely with M. Licinius Crassus in his special command against the insurrectionary slaves led by Spartacus. Verres secured the loyalty of Messana across the straits from Italy and disposed his forces to prevent Spartacus from crossing over to Sicily. The island was historically prone to slave rebellions; the latest one, the so-called Second Slave War of 104–99 bc, occurred some thirty years before. Cicero sneers (2.5.1–2) and gives all the credit to Crassus (2.5.5), but a fragment of Sallust tells the story (Hist. 4 F32 M): C. Verres litora Italia propinqua firmauit (‘C. Verres strengthened the shores close to Italy’).

The Impact of Hortensius It is possible to reach this point without acquiescence in Cicero’s rhetorical reductionism. There were real events taking place that could be misrepresented but not changed. It is possible to counter-contextualise and present Verres’ activities as rational, and in part even commendable, a res gestae that might form ready material for a practised and astute defence counsel. Yet Hortensius’ defence has been as qualified by Cicero’s presentation as Verres’ own actions have been. Above all, there is Verres’ withdrawal into exile, which may, however, have owed as much to new political developments in 70 bc as to a recognition of his own wickedness. But the literary circumstances may actually assist our own critique: Hortensius’ defence could be merely suppressed in an invective of which Verres alone was the object. But if Hortensius himself was a comparable target, he must appear in the Verrines for refutation, distortion and ridicule. He cannot be made to disappear, and the Verrines become an unlikely tribute to Hortensius and the nobilitas (strictly elite individuals of consular descent, but more broadly those who were on or joined the Sullan side in the Civil War of the 80s bc), who even in the face of a powerful assault on their control of the courts thought Verres was still worth defending. Perhaps Verres’ withdrawal was as much a last service to his loyal friends as Milo’s nearly twenty years later.9 9

Cf. Asc. 54C, saving them from embarrassment.

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Hortensius is referred to in six of the seven Verrine speeches.10 He is usually named but is sometimes merely alluded to. In the fourth speech of the Second Actio, he is neither named nor the subject of any unmistakable allusion. Yet an unspecified aliquis (‘someone’) appears as defender in his place (or Verres is made to speak for himself). This is the speech De signis (‘On Works of Art’), and here Hortensius is known to be a personal beneficiary of Verres’ accumulation of artworks. In the published work, Cicero is Hortensius’ oratorical rival; he does not intend to start a personal feud by accusing him directly of complicity in Verres’ illegalities. An analysis of references to the defence would repay the trouble but cannot be covered in full in this chapter. It is notable that the future tense is usual in these passages. I believe that this is technical, because Hortensius never made reply in a second actio. Hortensius’ own version of his defence speech Pro Verre probably did not appear until after Cicero’s Second Actio was published (Quint. Inst. 10.1.23). Reckless assertions by Cicero ought to be ruled out as a hypothesis because they would be so obviously false and malicious to a contemporary readership. I conclude that the attributions represent the real line Hortensius took. As noted earlier, Cicero wished to refute, not suppress, the rival orator. Hortensius maintained, firstly, that Verres’ measures alleviated a real food shortage in Italy, as indicated by the failed attempt at Rome to set aside the lex Hieronica (temporarily?) and the successful passage of the lex Terentia Cassia in 73 bc (2.3.163, 173; 2.5.52). If Verres exceeded his instructions, it was with great benefit to the public. Secondly, Verres’ perquisites as governor were in part illicit. Hortensius acknowledges this (2.3.209) but argues that they were current practice (2.3.205–8). Cicero’s rhapsodies about ancient exempla and the contrast with recent governors of Sicily (2.3.211–20) really show Hortensius carrying his point. Thirdly, 10

It is notable that Cicero refers to men in public life as rarely as possible in this huge and highly political text, e.g. Pompey, Crassus, L. Cotta, the brothers Metellus; it is otherwise with Hortensius, who is frequently alluded to, usually by name. He is strategically in control of Verres’ defence (Div. Caec. 23, 24, 44–6; Verr. 1.18–19, 25, 33, 37, 38). If he wants to delay the trial into 69 bc according to plan, it means that he also expects to defeat the transfer of the courts to equestrian juries or mixed panels. Not every exchange can be addressed in the present context. Cicero’s mockery of Hortensius’ demand for a full prosecution speech is not apropos (2.1.24–6); it is reasonable to require the prosecutor to present more than raw evidence. In rejecting Verres’ defensibility, Cicero mentions, as being unthinkable, the real line a defence might take: frugalitas, fortitudo, mores commodi, i.e. Verres’ tight administration, military qualities and social ease. In his conclusion of the fifth speech, addressing Hortensius man to man as ‘Quintus’, Cicero bemoans Hortensius’ membership of a tight and exclusive cabal to which he does not belong any more than Cicero (2.5.174–6). The close friendship for which Cicero longs eluded them until Hortensius’ much lamented death in 50 bc (Cic. Brut. 1–3).

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Verres brought back works of art to assist his friends’ election campaigns (i.e. those of Q. Metellus and Hortensius and, prospectively, of Verres himself, perhaps?). The lending and display of works of art for celebrations and dinner parties and elections are interesting features of current social life.11 Verres had long been climbing the greasy pole by means of this form of liberality. The commentator known as Pseudo Asconius (p. 238.7–12St) refers to this in connection with Hortensius’ own (lavish) aedileship in 75 bc and praetorship in 72, as well as with several campaigns of Metellan candidates. But, it is said, Verres paid for everything (2.4.8; at 10, Verres’ defender is aliquis [‘someone’]). Cicero incriminates the records, pointing out the astonishingly small sums they detail (2.4.12–14). What could the defence say about Verres that made him more than an effective governor who deserved acquittal? What could indicate consular capacity? The fifth speech of the Second Actio is the culmination of Cicero’s case. Strictly speaking, it is extra causam (‘outside the case’, which is narrowly extortion) and has wider implications for the Roman People than the Sicilian prosecution of a repetundae action. Cicero’s services to the Sicilians are past; his concern for Rome is the future. What did Hortensius have to say about Verres and Rome? The opening chapters of the fifth ‘speech’ are impressive. Cicero proclaims his helplessness: what is he to do? What line of attack can he take? Which way shall he turn? Against every assault on the citadel of Verres’ credit the claim to ‘the name of a good commander’ (boni nomen imperatoris) stands like a wall (2.5.2, 11). It is a strong point for Hortensius. Another corrupt governor had rested on this claim and been defended by the great Marius: M’. Aquillius is brought in by Cicero himself as not a good parallel (2.5.3–9). Was Verres to get off on the same basis? Cicero mocks a hypothetical attempt by Verres to share the credit of suppressing Spartacus with Crassus or Pompey (2.5.5): the preservation of Sicily had really been Crassus’ work. Verres had, in fact, done well in 72 bc. It is only by emphasising the disgrace of 71, more recent in public memory, that Cicero can strip him of the claim to be saviour of Sicily (2.2.154). Cicero runs Verres’ three years in the province together. His technique is the reverse of analytical historiography. It is generically drawn on the lines of invectives as in In Pisonem and the Second Philippic, and it is notable that L. Piso went on to be censor, Antony the joint ruler of Rome, a (flawed)

11

See e.g. Stein-Hölkeskamp 2005.

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hero. Verres was not so lucky. Cicero’s slash-and-burn treatment of competing narratives to his own is in evidence.12 The year 71 bc changed everything. The Sicilian cultivators went on strike; they abandoned the land (2.3.120–4). Strikes have to be organised, and we may see Sthenius (the true chief of the koinon) at work from his secure base in Rome. The incoming governor, L. Metellus, restored the old lex Hieronica and wrote to tell the Sicilians that he would do this: ‘Please sow a crop’ (2.3.124). The other event of 71 was a surprise raid on the Great Harbour of Syracuse by the pirate-chief Heracleo or Pyrganio (Cic. Verr. 2.5, esp. 87–103; Oros. 6.3.5). Verres was caught off-guard and discomfited. The strike and the raid were not good. Both were rapidly dealt with by his successor, his friend and acknowledged cousin L. Metellus. The aspiration to a consulate was already, perhaps, a might-have-been even before the Marcelli launched their prosecution against the man who wished to replace them as patrons of Syracuse; under Verres, a new festival, the Verria, superseded the Marcellia (Cic. Verr. 2.2.51, 154–5; 2.4.151). Verres was damaged goods by the time it all closed in on him. Yet, Hortensius and ‘Team nobilitas’ – for this is what the winning side in the Civil War called themselves and in fact were (Cic. Rosc. Am. passim) – did not drop him. Cicero never refers to such a development in the Verrines. Hortensius’ Pro Verre seals the case for the loyalty of Verres’ friends.

Victim and Symbol The consuls of 70 bc, Cn. Pompeius Magnus and M. Licinius Crassus, could not help but be concerned with the issue of Verres’ government of Sicily. We know they disagreed on everything after they jointly restored the traditional powers of the tribunate of the plebs (Sallust Hist. 4 F48, 51 M; Plut. Crass. 12.2). Crassus had worked well with Verres in the slave insurrection; he was soon to unite his son in marriage with the daughter of Q. Metellus, consul designate for 69 bc and Verres’ newly discovered cousin; the same factor would tend to bring Crassus in behind a prospective coitio (‘electoral combination’) of L. Metellus and Verres for the consulate of 68. The sudden progress of Crassus’ career, initiated by the Senate in 72 bc with a special command and a huge army, would make him unlikely to support the expulsion of sixty-four senators in the censors’ purge of 70 bc (Livy, Per. 98). After all, these censors had been the consuls 12

On the Second Philippic, note my own retrieval of Antony’s case for himself in terms of the cardinal virtues (Stone 2008).

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demobilised by the Senate in 72 bc in favour of Crassus;13 those expelled in 70 might well include some of Crassus’ closest supporters.14 At this time, Crassus could have no interest in promoting the replacement of senators by equites Romani (non-political gentry enrolled in the cavalry) on the juries of the criminal courts. He may well, however, have brokered the compromise solution expressed in the lex Aurelia at the end of 70 bc.15 With a dramatic date of August 70, however, total replacement of senators by equites was the menacing prospect in Cicero’s speech (2.3.223, 5.177). The destruction of Verres could be no part of Crassus’ rational agenda. Both were also close friends of the future praetor (at the latest in 68 bc) L. Sergius Catilina (Plut. Cic. 15.5; Asc. 87 C). When Verres returned to Rome, he found many houses open to him, where he was admitted extra ordinem (‘ahead of his place’) as a lively (mores commodi) guest of the owners and welcome visitor to the household staff (2.3.8). I suggest that Crassus’ house would be visited as often as those of his known friends Hortensius and Catiline. A bright future was in prospect for this nexus of familiares, cognati and adfines (‘friends, relatives and in-laws’). Its fruition was to be blocked on several occasions by Cicero. Why would he want to do this? He had already sensibly turned the Sicilians down, yet switched to support them against the resources of what he could represent in a published work as an all but united nobilitas. And he nailed his colours to the mast: the publication of the Verrines makes his intervention much more than a tactical blip. In 71 bc, Pompey the Great returned to Rome from Spain, having pardoned Sertoriani (rebels supporting Sertorius in Spain) and destroyed incriminating letters from secret Marians. He was no longer the 13 14

15

Livy, Per. 96; Plut. Crass. 9.7–10.1; Cat. Min. 8.1–2. We should note P. Lentulus Sura, consul of 71 bc (Plut. Cic. 17.1), and C. Antonius, to be consul in 63 (Asc. 84C), both also friends of Catiline. In 73 bc, Crassus and Catiline had been charged with incestum with vestal virgins. The whole career of Crassus has been historically deformed by the notion that he was a spokesman for ‘business interests’, conveniently gathered under the label equites. For a finer touch on this issue, see Syme 1986: 271–2 and Gruen 1977. For them, Crassus should be seen as a conservative statesman, more flexible than his peers in general, though, I will suggest, not more so than Hortensius. The marriage between the youthful Marcus junior and the daughter of Q. Metellus, consul in 69 bc (the future ‘Creticus’), should be delayed into the middle 60s, but not too long for their son to be consul in 30 bc at a credible age for the office. In expectation of the future Creticus’ absence for several years in the East, the fathers of the young couple may well have arranged matters in 70–69 bc, perhaps immediately after Crassus’ quarrel with Pompey. Metellus had also had to wait for his consulate (praetor 74 bc): he won it now, while his future ‘in-law’ was consul. Once reform of the jury panels was inescapable, it was in Crassus’ interest to make it as moderate as he could and as little as possible an expression of Pompey’s grand design (Sall. Hist. 4 F51M). The senators kept their place on the juries but were reduced in number.

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adulescentulus carnifex (‘teenage butcher’)16 but the statesman-like peacemaker, already the ‘healer’. Pompey’s promise to restore the pre-Sullan tribunicia potestas and to do something about the corrupt jury courts is famous (Cic. Verr. 1.45). Less well known is the visit to Rome later in 70 bc of the great orator Sosippus of Agrigentum, who spoke publicly before the consul Pompey, not Crassus, about the plight of the cultivators of the economic unity constituted by Sicily (2.3.204). That Pompey was vitally concerned for the government of the Empire’s provinces emerges clearly. His disinterest in Verres, maintained by some, is a non-starter. The symbolic destruction of Verres is inseparable from his healing programme.17 Verres himself had already picked a quarrel with Pompey. It is characteristic of his audacity that he should execute beneficiaries of Pompey’s clemency who fell into his hands (2.5.152–3). Even earlier in 72 bc he had taken on Pompey when he targeted Sthenius, rightly identifying him as his chief opponent in improving tax returns from Sicily (2.2.83–115). Pompey’s personal prestige required revenge on the inimicus of his amicus (‘enemy of his friend’): Verres must pay. The installation of a workable prosecution, however, required someone who could be put up against Hortensius. Cicero had refused to act and connived at a collusive prosecution by a nonentity (Cic. Div. Caec. 4). Now he was induced to be the requisite prosecutor and turn his intervention into a published manifesto. The names of some of the prosecution witnesses and those who helped Cicero gather evidence in defiance of L. Metellus and his collaborators tell the story: those Sicilian Greeks who bore ‘Pompeius’ in their names (see below) may now be added to Sthenius of Thermae to reveal the hand of Pompey; his studied self-restraint belied the truth. Pompey must avoid another undignified wrangle with Crassus in public at all costs. As far as he could, Cicero kept them both out of it, but not quite! I contend that both Pompey and Crassus were well and truly in it. Pompey’s alleged indifference to the jury court reform needs to be addressed. Cicero’s reference back to Pompey’s enthusiasm for the measure as consul designate a year later, with the end of Pompey’s consulate now in sight, hardly makes sense if Pompey had lost interest or never really cared. In and after August 70 bc it would be tactless to remind hearers and readers that Pompey had ever made an issue of it. What would be the point of 16 17

Val. Max. 6.2.8. This passage has been little noticed. It attests a formal dialogue between parts of the Empire and Rome that goes beyond private complaints and prosecutions and attains the level of theatre. Pompey’s presence and Crassus’ absence are, as suggested earlier, food for thought.

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blundering into this territory and possibly even antagonising the great man? In fact, we should assume that Pompey did care, were it not for a single word in Plutarch’s Life of Pompey. At Plutarch, Pomp. 22.3, we read: ‘In the Senate Crassus was more influential, but among the people the power of Pompey was great. For he restored the tribunate to it and allowed [perieiden] the courts to be transferred again to the equites by a law. He himself provided a very sweet spectacle to the people in requesting discharge from military service.’ On my reading, Pompey did not allow or tolerate the transfer of the courts in the sense that he would rather not have done so, but in contrast with a law on the tribunate passed under his own name and a personal request for discharge from the army, he merely supported the lex Aurelia passed in the name of the praetor L. Cotta. All three of these items reveal Pompey’s commitment to popularity. Thus, Cicero could, without embarrassment, refer back to Pompey’s original sponsorship of jury court reform under questioning by a friendly tribune of 71 bc, M. Lollius Palicanus. Lollius is attested as watering down the compromise between senators and equites with the insertion of a third element, the tribuni aerarii (Schol. Gron. p. 328.22–3St.). These would further limit senatorial presence; they were essentially equites, eiusdem scilicet ordinis uiri (‘obviously men of the same order’ [Schol. Bob. p. 94.25–6St]). Plutarch is equally spot on in this passage in referring to Crassus’ senatorial allegiance at that time. A straightforward reading of what he has to tell us about the consuls and the issue of the courts works better than subtlety.18 There was in fact a serious struggle over the matter, as the delay, the complexity of the solution and Cicero’s repeated references to L. Cotta’s watchful tenacity show.19 The names of Cicero’s assistants in Sicily are worth noticing; he certainly thought so. Of great service to Cicero as hosts and protectors were Pompey’s clients at Messana, where the city’s links to Verres were strong: the wealthy and respectable Cn. Pompeius Basiliscus and the Percennii who had now become Pompeii (2.4.25); Sex. Pompeius Chlorus, advocate of a victim of Verres (2.2.23, 2.2.102); Cn. Pompeius Theodorus, particularly approved by Pompey the Great (2.2.102); and Cn. Pompeius Philo, robbed by Verres, thinking himself safe as a Roman citizen (2.4.48). How 18

19

For a different view, see Gruen 1995: 34: ‘Pompey himself showed no great zeal for the reform . . . the consul simply avoided standing in Cotta’s way. Nothing attests to any political struggle over the passage of the measure.’ See also Gruen 1971 for wider contextualisation. Cic. Div. Caec. 8; Verr. 1.38–9, 44–6; 2.2.174 (a nobilissimus (‘a man of the highest nobility’) as radical reformer); especially 2.3.223 (the praetor Cotta favoured total transfer to equestrian jurors); 2.5.177 (a text was already promulgated for a law).

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many more friends of Pompey, who like Sthenius did not bear the Pompeian name, were involved in the case?20 Pompey did not mind his preference being known, that is, his policy of liberalism, but he did not wish to be divisive. Cicero respected this.

How to Govern an Empire There was theory as well as practice at work. Thucydides became a model for orators at Rome (Cic. Opt. gen. 15–16). That the Mytilene debate in Book 3 (Thuc. 36–50) fascinated Romans of this generation can be seen in Sallust’s pairing of Caesar and Cato (Cat. 50–3), turning the issue inside out. Should imperial states be run by severity or moderation? This surfaces in the Verrines with a striking turn of phrase attributed to Hortensius at 2.5.22: dicet rem publicam administrari sine metu ac seueritate non posse; quaeret quam ob rem fasces praetoribus praeferantur, cur secures datae, cur carcer aedificatus, cur tot supplicia sint in improbos more maiorum constituta (‘Hortensius will say that the State cannot be governed without fear and severity; he will ask why it is that the fasces are carried before high office-holders, why axes have been given, why the prison has been built, why so many forms of punishment have been laid down by ancestral custom for wrongdoers’). Empires are not ruled by kindness – though C. Verres was, his friends maintained, never cruel. Ancestral harshness is attested towards Rome’s subjects in Crassus, Crassus’ adfinis Q. Metellus Creticus (in direct opposition to Pompey), Crassus’ friend Catiline and Catiline’s familiarissimus (‘close friend’) Verres.21 Mildness towards provincials is championed by such different figures as Pompey and Lucullus, both in contrast to their master, Sulla. Pompey the Great was soon to parade himself as benefactor of defeated pirates, as well as the cities and peoples of the East, in deference to the humanitarianism of the Stoic philosopher and historian Posidonius of Rhodes (Plut. Pomp. 42.5). At the initiation of this policy in 71–70 bc, Verres was selected as the ideal victim. He had taken this risk in principle when (or before?) he arrived in Sicily as troubleshooter. 20 21

On this aspect, note Badian 1958: 281–4. On Pompey’s mentalité, see Anderson 1963 and Morrell 2017. Crassus’ crucifixion of 6,000 defeated slaves (App. B Civ. 1.120), Catiline’s ill treatment of the province of Africa which provoked a senatorial praeiudicium (a preliminary decision in the Senate that suggested the line a jury might take if a case was brought) (Asc. 85, 86–7, 89C) and Metellus Creticus’ harshness towards Cretans whom Pompey wished to spare (Plut. Pomp. 29.3–5; Dio Cass. 36.18.1–19) arouse consideration of Roman imperial policy at this time. Even on Cicero’s showing in the Fifth Verrine, Verres was comparable with his friends but less extreme. Cicero deals with the phenomenon by proclaiming his severity tyrannical and his lenience corrupt and by blaming Verres for the inconsistency!

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