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The Letters of Cicero's exile begin in April, 696 (b. c. 58), and end in August, 697 (b. c. 57). The first is a letter written to Atticus on Cicero's journey to the estate of his friend Sica, near Vibo, in Bruttium. The enactment forbidding him to live within 400 miles of Italy forced him to leave Vibo. He would have preferred to spend his exile in Athens; but Autronius and other Catilinarian conspirators were there, and he feared their hostility. Athens was also rendered ineligible by the fact that there was some doubt whether it was not less than 400 miles from Italy. This consideration, however, cannot have had much weight with him, for he spent a considerable part of his exile at Thessalonica, which is not so far as Athens from Italy. He was at Thessalonica from June 1 to the beginning of November. He was invited by Atticus to stay at his house at Buthrotum, but he rejected the offer, feeling (among other motives) that the associations of the place would be too painful in the absence of Atticus. It was through the kindDess of his friend Plancius, whom he afterwards defended so well, that he was enabled to live in security in Thessalonica. Cicero went to Dyrrachium in the end of November, 696 (b. c. 58), so that he might be nearer to Italy, and might avoid meeting Piso, who was appointed governor of Macedonia. Cicero appears to have apprehended molestation from him and his soldiery. He left Dyrrachium on the 4th of August, 697 (b. c. 57), on the day on which the bill for his recall had passed the comitia centuriata (Att. iv. 1, 4), arriving at Brundusium on the next day. There he was met by Tullia. It happened to be Tullia's birthday (ibid.). On the 8th he heard of the success of the bill for his restoration, and at once set out for Rome, where he arrived September 4, 697 (b. c. 57). Cicero's letters from exile are full of complaints about the perfidy of Hortensius and Pompeius, and the supineness of Atticus. Again and again he declares that he should never have left Rome, as he did, before he was assailed by name; but should have appealed to force against Clodius, in which case, he says, aut occubuissem honeste, aut victores hodie viveremus, Att. iii. 15, 4. His leaving Rome he calls turpissimum consilium, and, somewhat weakly, upbraids Atticus and his other friends for not dissuading him from such a step. Dio Cassius tells us that Cicero actually endeavoured to raise the mob, but was dissuaded by Cato and Hortensius,létrexeipnos uèv orda άρασθαι ... κωλυθείς δε υπό τε του Κάτωνος και του Ορτησίου, μη και εμφύλιος εκ τούτου πόλεμος γένηται, τότε δή και άκων μετά τε αισχύνης και μετά κακοδοξίας, ως και εκ του συνειδότος εθελοντής TreDevyws, ueTÉOTY (xxxviii. 17). But the whole tone of this extract shows the animus of Dio Cassius against Cicero. There is no evidence that Cicero ever seriously sought to appeal to violence before his banishment, though during his absence he often says that it would have been better to have lost his life in opposing Clodius than to languish in exile. His boast in the Orat. pro Sest. $ 45, that he was deterred by patriotism from resisting Clodius by arms, me propter salutem meorum civium, quae mihi semper fuit mea carior vita, dimicationem caedemque fugisse, must be looked on as an afterthought, for the whole tenor of his letters in exile shows equally clearly that he never contemplated an appeal to force before his exile; and that after his exile he never ceased to regret that he had not made such an appeal. Indeed, a passage in Att. iii. 23, 5, when rightly understood, seems to show that he suggested, to bring about his restoration, the use of that violence which he might have used to avert his exile; the multitudo comparata there spoken of is probably the band of bravoes with which Milo did such goou service, when uovouáxovs tivàs ... Opoioas és xɛīpaç tö Klwoio συνεχώς ήει, και σφαγαι κατά πάσαν ως ειπείν την πόλιν εγίγνοντο
(Dio Cass. xxxix. 8). But there can be little doubt that if he had really sought to raise the mob in his behalf, and to bring to the city his numerous supporters among the rural populations, he would have found less difficulty in averting his banishment than he afterwards found in effecting his restoration. This he saw clearly when too late, as may be gathered from two letters to Terentia, Fam. xiv. 1, 2, intellego quanto fuerit facilius manere domi quam redire; and Fam. xiv. 3, 2, eiicere nos magnum fuit, excludere facile est. Next to his turpissimum consilium in leaving Rome, he regrets his want of resolution in not having at once destroyed himself when he saw that his exile was an accomplished fact, and he hints that, if the attempts made in the beginning of 697 (b. c. 57), should fail, no course will remain for him but to take his own life.
We meet a remarkable statement in Att. iii. 7, 3, ego et saepius ad te et plura scriberem, nisi mihi dolor meus cum omnes partes mentis, tum maxime huius generis facultatem ademisset ; and we do find in the letters from exile a carelessness and inaccuracy of expression which contrasts strongly with the style of his happier days. See Introd. I', p. 58, note.
Of the letters in exile, twenty-seven are addressed to Atticus, two to Quintus, his brother, four to Terentia and the other members of his family at Rome, and one to the consul Metellus Nepos, begging him to forget their former misunderstanding, and to aid in his restoration. The period of Cicero’s exile is (as might be expected) destitute of literary and oratorical remains.
Atticus left Rome in the end of 696 (b. c. 58), and did not return till the beginning of 698 (b. c. 56), when he married Pilia, February 5th, 698 (b. c. 56), at the age of 53. Of this marriage the only issue was a daughter, born 703 (b. c. 51), who was married to M. Agrippa. Their daughter, Vipsania Agrippina, was the wife of Tiberius before he was Emperor.
LETTERS OF THE ELEVENTH YEAR OF CICERO'S
A. V. C. 696; B. C. 58 ; AET. CIC. 48.
CONS. L. PISO, A. GABINIUS.
CLODIUS, after carrying several measures framed to win the support of the various classes at Rome, and having secured the assistance of the consuls by assigning Syria to Gabinius, and Macedonia to Piso, brought in a bill that qui civem Romanum indemnatum peremisset ei aqua et igni interdiceretur. Cicero afterwards saw that his proper course would have been to ignore this bill, or even to support it, for it had in it many elements of popularity. He appealed to Pompeius for advice. Pompeius replied: se contra armatum tribunum pl. sine consilio publico decertare nolle, consulibus ex senatus consulto rempublicam defendentibus se arma sumpturum (Pis. 77). This angenerous reply—or perhaps another reply of Pompeius, recorded Att. X. 4, 3, se nihil contra (Caesaris) voluntatem facere posse—alarmed Cicero so much that he left Rome at the end of March. On the very day on which Cicero left Rome, Clodius brought in his second bill directed against Cicero expressly. It was brought before the comitia tributa and ran, velitis iubeatis ut M. Tullio aquà et igni interdictum sit. On its passing, his villas at Tuscalum and Formiae, and his house on the Palatine, were destroyed, and the site of his house was dedicated to Liberty. For his movements during his esile, see Introd. to Part III.
On the 1st of June, 696 (b.c. 58) the first effort was made to restore Cicero. L. Ninnius Quadratus brought before the Senate a bill for his recall, which was unanimously accepted by the Senate, but was vetoed by the tribune Aelius Ligas, some obscure creature of Clodius. Again, on October 29, eight of the tribunes brought in a bill with a similar aim, which Cicero severely criticises in Att. iii. 23. In Att. iii. 24, Cicero bitterly regrets the blunder made by his friends in Rome, in allowing the estimates for the provinces to be passed before the new tribunes came into office. He feared that this step would alienate the tribunes, eight of whom were favourable to his cause. This apprehension, however, proved groundless (see Att. iii. 24, notes). At the end of this year Atticus left Rome. He had, towards the close of the year, been adopted, and left heir to a large fortune by the will of his uncle, Q. Caecilius, who died at this time.