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Nec tamen ipsi
If Cicero was not more honest, he was at least better provided with worldly wisdom, than Cato. He thus describes that celebrated patriot in an epistle Ad Atticum, lib. i. :-“Unus est, qui curet, con
stantia magis et integritate, quam, ut mihi videtur, consilio, aut ingenio, Cato ; qui miseros publicanos quos habuit amantissimos sui, tertium jam mensem vexat, neque iis a senatu responsum dari patitur.” On another occasion also, in the consulship of Q. Cæcilius Metellus and L. Afranius, he complains of Cato's conduct, as entirely contrary to good policy in speaking against the petition of the Knights, and that with so resolute an opposition, unlike some of our senators who speak one way and vote another, that he procured its rejection. In the letter just quoted, Cicero is much discontented with the conduct of his party; and throws out melancholy anticipations of their ultimate failure:-“ Nam, ut ea breviter, quæ post tuum discessum acta sunt, colligam, jam exclames necesse est, res Romanas diutius stare non posse. Sic ille annus duo firmamenta reipublicæ, per me unum constituta, evertit : nam et senatus auctoritatem abjecit, et ordinum concordiam disjunxit.” In a lost poem on his own consulship, of which a very few fragments are extant, he thus makes Calliope speak to himself :
Interea cursus, quos prima a parte juventæ,
The opportunities which occurred to a man so capable of availing himself of them as Cicero were apparently most favourable: and as far as he was personally concerned, in living fame, and in posthumous renown to the latest ages, he accomplished every thing for himself that he could wish. But the power of circumstances was too strong, to give permanent success to his efforts in behalf of his country. Lucan describes the crisis with oratorical force, as usual, rather than with poetical sublimity or imagination:
Nec gentibus ullis
The disappointment which Cicero felt at the untoward progress of affairs, and his gloomy forebodings of a fatal issue, gave a tone of invective to his public narangues, and a splenetic querulousness to his private correspondence. He employed the leisure of his occasional retirement in drawing up certain anecdotes, as he terms them, comprehending a secret history of the times, which no one but Atticus was to peruse, in the style of Theopompus, who was the most satirical of all writers. He says that all his politics are reduced to one point, of hating bad citizens, and pleasing himself with writing against them. He considers himself as driven from the helm, with no further object of curiosity, than to see the wreck from the shore; quoting the following passage from Sophocles :
Και υπό σέγ: :
The measures adopted respecting his house, were peculiarly calculated to gall a man, who had a gentlemanly pride in the elegance of his domestic arrangements, and wished to make his residence the temple of literature and the arts. himself bitterly on the subject : :-.“ At quid tulit legum scriptor peritus et callidus ? Velitis, Jubeatis, ut M. Tullio Aqua et Igni Interdicatur? Crudele, nefarium, ne in sceleratissimo quidem civi sine judicio ferundum. Quid ergo ? Ut Interdictum sit.”
His colleague Piso was among the most inveterate of his enemies. Envy was probably the real ground of this hostility ; but envy shelters itself under plausible allegations. He upbraided Cicero with that vanity which it must be acknowledged was too prominent a feature of his character. This, and not his merits, he affected to consider as the cause of his exile. He taunts him with the
provoking sarcasm, that Pompey made him feel how superior was the power of the general to that of the orator. He reminded him also, how mean and ungenerous it was, to vent his spleen only on contemptible objects, without daring to meddle with those who were more formidable, those against whom the expression of his resentment would have been more merited and more magnanimous.
The circumstance least to be expected perhaps in the life of Cicero, is the brilliancy of his military career as a provincial governor. Cilicia was his province: but Cappadocia, Armenia, Isauria, Lycaonia, Paphlagonia, and Pontus, in short nearly the whole country of Asia Minor, constituted the theatre of his glory, and the object of his care. From time to time he marched nearly over the modern Amasia, Genu, and Tokat. The Cappadocians were so enamoured of slavery, that when the Romans offered them freedom, they declined it, and said they were not able to support liberty. Horace refers to their love of thraldom and their poverty :
Mancipiis locuples eget æris Cappadocum rex.
This poor king was placed under Cicero's especial protection; and his generosity to him formed a strong contrast to the peculating habits and extortion of other proconsuls. It gives a curious idea how poor these people were, that in the time of Lucullus, an ox was sold for four-pence, and a man was worth not more than four times as much. Yet there is no appearance, from the letters of Cicero or others who were in the country at the time, that they were unhappy. As long as they had a kind protector like Cicero against plots and robbery, the absence of the stimulus which makes riches thought to be necessary, produced the effect of happiness in them more uniformly than does the possession of wealth in those who have pursued it with ardour : for the want of some little addition always poisons the enjoyment of the covetous or ambitious. In politics, they entertained no extensive designs, had no aspirations after liberty, and were as well disposed to be the cattle of the Romans as of any other people. At
any other time, probably, Cicero would have been well pleased with his government and even its prolongation ; for he was winning golden opinions in it. But it was a vital object with him to return, to frustrate the intrigues respecting the two Gauls. Curio had become an engine of fac
Momentumque fuit, mutatus Curio, rerum,
Lucan. v. 819.
The following lines of Virgil are supposed to apply to the case of Curio, as having sold Rome to Cæsar :
Vendidit hic auro patriam, dominumque potentem