Thursday, 29 March 2007

Cicero, Mostly

Blimey. That was unexpected. Cicero has triumphantly returned to Rome! How exciting!

Letter 23 (29 November 58)*

if, as I see to be the case on your forecast and my own too, there is NO hope, I beg and adjure you to care for my poor brother Quintus, whom I have ruined, unlucky wretch that I am. Protect my Marcus as far as you can. Poor little boy, I am leaving him nothing but my hated and dishonoured name.

Letter 24 (10 December 58)

I [am] deeply disturbed, because it looks as if even the faint ray of hope that existed has been extinguished.

Letter 25 (mid-December 58):

A letter from Rome, dispatched after you left, has reached me from which I see that I must pine away in this miserable state. And indeed (you won't take this amiss), if there were any lingering hope of my restoration, caring for me as you do you would not have left Rome at this time..

Letter 26 (mid-January 57**)

... if there is opposition I shall avail myself of the Senate's authority and prefer loss of life to that of country.

Letter 27 (early February 57, in its entirety)

From your letters and from the facts themselves I see that I am utterly finished. In matters where my family needs your help I beg you not to fail us in our misery. According to your letter I shall see you soon.

Letter 28 (10 September 57)

AM IN ROME!!1!! HAVE ALL MY STUFF BACK!!! EVERYBODY CLAPPED WHENEVER THEY SAW ME OR HEARD MY NAME!!! POMPEY IS MY BEST FRIEND AND HE SAYS I CAN RIDE HIS BIKE HOME FROM THE SENATE EVERY DAY!!11!!

Cicero should totally have a blog (like Geoffrey Chaucer, and indeed Pepys.) It's particularly weird reading this kind of epistolatory narrative because mostly I only know about Pompey from Lucan's epic On the Civil War, which is very much about how history can only be written in hindsight, and in which Pompey wears a label on his forehead saying DOOOMED at all times. Hmm. That reminds me, I promised to help draft a proposal for an event on 'the temporalities of reception'. I should probably get on with that.

(A weird thing is that, now that Cicero is back at Rome, his sentences have become notably shorter and more intelligible. KEEP IT UP TULLY.)

*All translations by Shackleton Bailey. (Except one.)

** it's BC, remember, so the numbering goes backwards

4 comments:

Una said...

You have to read Plutarch's Life of Pompey! It's like the Hello magazine of the classical world, all celebrity gossip and unsubstantiated rumour!

Charles said...

"*All translations by Shackleton Bailey. (Except one.)"

But which could it possibly be??? It's all so devilishly seamless...

Ika said...

Una - RLY? I haven't read any Plutarch. That sounds awesome - I'll get it out of the library next. (Have you read any Suetonius? It too is nothing but scurrilous gossip - but it'll look awfully familiar to you if you've read/seen I Claudius ...)

Charles - Hee! Yes, I pride myself on my Shackleton-Baileyesque/Ciceronian style.

Una said...

Well, the ones I've read - Crassus and Pompey - have been like Hello magazine: "Look at that money Crassus had! He made it from buying the houses of proscribed people!!! OMG!"

Also, according to the introduction, and which you probably know already, all the "Parallel Lives" are apparently paired in such a way that a famous Greek's life is set alongside a famous Roman's life - and not in such a way to favour the Romans. I kind of like that.

I read Suetonius years ago - just after reading I Claudius, in fact - but only in translation (probably Robert Graves'?).