« AnteriorContinuar »
§ 2. CICERO IN HIS PRIVATE Life.
Cicero is presented to us even at the very commencement of his correspondence as being in easy circumstances. He already possesses his estates at Formiae and Tusculum. We find him in the year 687 (b.c. 67) looking out for objets d'art for his gymnasium at Tusculum, and he is in a position to pay some £170 for certain statues made of the koyxions lidos, for which Megara was famous. He had inherited from his father an estate in Arpinum, in the neighbourhood of the two country houses of his brother Quintus, Arcanum and Laterium; and a house in Rome on the Carinae, which he seems to have made over to his brother Quintus,* when he himself, after his consulate, bought for nearly £30,000 the magnificent house of M. Crassus on the Palatine, which brought on him so much envy and misconstruction. The marriage portion which he received on marrying Terentia, 677 (b. c 69), at the age of 29, amounted to about £3400. But even before this time he was in a position, in the yeurs 675, 676 (b. c. 79, 78), to make a tour through Greece and Asia. What, then, were the sources of Cicero's income, for there is no evidence that he inherited any considerable fortune ? The chief source, no doubt, was his practice at the Bar, especially as the advocate of foreign States and Kings. For though the Cincian Lawt forbade the feeing of advocates, yet there is abundant evidence that the thankfulness of successfully-defended clients generally took a substantial form. We may perhaps infer from Att. i. 20, 7, that the gratitude of L. Papirius Paetus showed itself in the appropriate present of his library, and the tone of this passage leads us to surmise that the Lex Cincia de Muneribus, now nearly 150 years old, had to a great extent become obsolete. * Cicero, then, who devoted himself to the Bar at the early age of 25, must have made a considerable income by his profession. For there seems to have been but one other source of income to him-legacies left by grateful clients or admiring friends. Plutarch tells us that early in life he was bequeathed a sum of about £3000, but his receipts under this head are probably much exaggerated. For instance, we are asked to believe that in 695 (b. c. 59) the Stoic Diodotus, who had been for some time an inmate of Cicero's house, left him heir to a sum equal to about £85,000! Of a truth
timately have commonly loved him best. He is no demi-god to be set on a pedestal for the worship of the nations, but a man with human virtues and human weaknesses, and withal possessed of a charm of grace and goodness which makes us think of him as of some familiar and beloved friend. The calm retrospective judgment of Caesar Augustus, recorded for us by Plutarch (Life of Cicero, ch. 49) sums up not unfairly the story of Cicero's life.
It happened many years after, that Caesar once found one of his grandsons with a work of Cicero in his hands. The boy was frightened and hid the book under his gown; but Caesar took it from him, and standing there motionless he read through a great part of the book ; then he gave it back to the boy and said, This was a great orator, my child, a great orator and a man who loved his country well.'”
* Plut. Cic. viii.
+ This law was really an aristocratic measure. It shut the career of an advocate to all who did not possess some fortune. It denied the necessities of life to the advocate, while it gave him the luxuries, which came in the form of handsome presents from wealthy clients. The Bar then, as a political career until very recent times, was the privilege of the well-to-do.
Sapiens uno minor est love, dives,
if he can make such bequests to his friends or hosts. But the grandeur of the legacy is as nothing compared to the coolness of the legatee, Diodotus mortuus est; reliquit nobis H. S. fortasse centies (Att. ï. 20, 6), and then he passes to other trifling topics. Malaspina is no doubt right in reading sestertia centum, about £850. At the age of 61, in the year 709 (b. c. 45), Cicero did receive a very large legacy from Cluvius, which he tells us brought in nearly £700 a-year, and afterwards over £800: vehementer me Cluviana delectant, he says to his friend Atticus when he discovers how valuable his legacy is about to prove. Cicero appears to have been able to serve the interests of this rich Puteolan by using in his favour his influence with Q. Thermus, who governed Asia as pro-praetor in 703 (b.c. 51). There seems to have existed in Ancient Rome a testamentary mania, in consequence of which dis
* It is possible, indeed, that the remark here may be merely playful, as there is no evidence that Cicero ever acted as advocate for Papirius Paetus. But, besides this passage, there is abundant proof that this law was practically a dead letter.
† Cicero boasts (Phil. ii. 40) that he had received in bequests above £170,000, but this is probably a rhetorical hyperbole. 1 Att. xiv. 9, 1. Fam. xiii. 56.
tinguished public characters often became the heirs of men personally quite unknown to them. The obscure millionaire loved at his death to divide his riches between two or three of the most eminent public characters of the day. It was not a tribute to the character or the politics of the legatee. Such bequests were thought to reflect distinction on the testator. Caesar and Cicero were co-heirs of Cluvius; and Cicero was coupled with the detested Clodius in the will of the architect Cyrus. This vagary of human folly ought not to cause much surprise. Are there not now those who during life devote their resources to the entertaining of distinguished persons, whose society they dislike; or the purchase of works of art, the merits of which they cannot appreciate; or who, at their death, apply to ostentatious charity wealth equitably due to dependents or benefactors ?
Such, then, were the main sources of Cicero's income, for he refused to avail himself of the ordinary avenues to wealth in Rome. These were, first and chiefly, the plunder of the provinces. Cicero turned his back on this means of enriching himself by waiving his claim to a province after his praetorship and his consulate. When, in the year 703 (b. c. 51), he did accept the government of Cilicia, he set his face against the illegal practices by which Appius had depleted' the province. We may form an estimate of the wealth to be amassed by an unscrupulous governor, when we learn from Cicero himself that, in spite of the rigorous purism of his administration, he laid by in his provincial life nearly £19,000. This sum, which was in cistophori, the Asiatic currency, he deposited in the hands of certain publicani in Ephesus.* Another road to a fortune neglected by Cicero was the practice of usury.f It is a singular feature in the social life of this period, that men of the highest distinction lent money on interest to individuals and corporations. Brutus, though according to Shakspere he condemned Cassius for his itching palm, had large transactions of this kind, and it was thus that Atticus amassed the wealth which he knew so well how to keep. Nor was this trade confined to men. There is much reason to believe that Terentia seriously embarrassed her husband by speculations, in which she allowed herself to be defrauded by her steward and freedman Philotimus. Caerellia, * too, seems to have had extensive business transactions. From these Cicero always held aloof, though we find him ever ready to lend to a friend, and very frequently obliged to borrow.† His exile and its consequences involved him in difficulties, from which he never wholly emerged. Yet he cannot have ever been deeply in debt, for we find him throughout his life in possession of half a dozen country residences in the most delightful parts of Italy, together with 'lodges,' or deversoria, at Tarracina, Sinuessa, Cales, ażd Anagnia, which the absence of hotels rendered necessary for persons of distinction who would travel in a manner befitting their rank. In the matter of money lent to him, Cicero shows a fastidious sense of honour quite in advance of his age. He feels it incumbent on him to apply to the repayment of his debt to Caesar
* Cicero distinctly tells Rufus (Fam. v. 20, 9) that Pompeius appropriated this money. Yet we read in the early letters of the eleventh book to Atticus of this sum of money apparently still intact. It seems impossible to escape from the inference of Boot that the statement made by Cicero to Rufus was untrue, and that it was made with the design of comforting Rufus, who had recently sustained a pecuniary loss. Rufus was his quaestor.
+ This mode of acquiring wealth was by no means deemed disreputable in Rome. But Cicero does not seem to have sought thus to add to his resources. He uses, in one of his letters to Quintus (Q. Fr. i. 3, 6), an expression' which seems designedly employed to show that his means were more honourably acquired. Writing from exile, he speaks of himself as one who once was liberis, coniuge, copiis, genere ipso pecuniae, beatissimus. Cicero did not look down on trade. In Parad. 6 he writes, qui honeste rem quaerunt mercaturis faciendis ; but he aspires, for himself, to the function which Scipio, in the Republic (i. 35), claims, cum mihi sit unum opus hue a parentibus maioribusque meis relictum, procuratio atque administratio reipublicae.
* This interesting woman (the loss of whose correspondence with Cicero is much to be regretted) for many years afforded to him that intelligent sympathy in his literary labours which he sought in vain from Terentia. She was the Stella of Cicero. That the intimacy partook in no degree of the nature of an intrigue is plain from the friendly relations which subsisted between Caerellia and Terentia. Yet the rancour of Dio Cassius has not recoiled even from this aspersion. Like Swift, Comte, and Goethe, Cicero felt the charm of a woman's sympathy; but Caerellia never had reason to regret that she had extended it to him. In his respect for the sanctity of domestic life Cicero presents a strong contrast to the manners of his age. Other traits in his character, too, show an approximation to modern modes of feeling and thought-notably his refined repugnance to the cruel sports of the amphitheatre.-Fam. vii. 1, 3.
† Cicero walks under his load of difficulties with a light step, which reminds us of Sheridan, with whom, indeed, the scurra consularis has other affinities. He says of his country houses at Tusculum and Pompeii, me, illum ipsum vindicem aeris alieni, dere non Corinthio sed hoc circumforaneo obruerunt (Att. ii. 1, 11); and again (Fam. v. 6, 2), itaque nunc me scito tantum habere aeris alieni, ut cupiam coniurare, si quis me Tecipiat.
the money which he had received for the expenses of his triumph, because it looks ugly to be in debt to a political opponent.'* Again, on leaving Rome after the death of Caesar, † he writes to Atticus :-'I am owed money enough to satisfy all claims on me; yet it often happens that debtors fail to pay in due time. If any. thing of this sort should happen, pray consult only my reputation. Borrow afresh to meet the demands of my creditors, or even raise money by selling my property.'
His married life with Terentia was decorous, but destitute of real sympathy. His early letters from exile are full of tender expressions, but he seems to have become gradually estranged. He suspects her of frittering away his money under the evil influence of Philotimus. His last letter I to her reminds us of the celebrated chops and tomato sauce,' which the counsel for Mrs. Bardell found so difficult to construe into the language of affection. Cicero has been blamed for his divorce of Terentia, and his remarriage with the youthful Publilia at the age of 63. But it must be remembered that 63 was not then thought so advanced an age as it is now. Men began life much later than in modern times. Cicero cannot be said to have begun his political life till he was nearly 40 years of age, and Caesar began his career as a great general at an age at which Alexander was dead and Napoleon had been conquered.
Nor was the career of his son Marcus a source of happiness to Cicero. Finding him intractable under the hands of his tutor Dionysius, his father sent him to Athens (as to an University) to complete his education. His allowance seems very ample, amounting, as it did, to about £850 a-year. Yet the youth squanders this on carousing and entertainments, while his tutor Gorgias abets his extravagances and dissipations, reminding us of Doctor Pangloss in the Heir-at-Law. Young Marcus seems never to have thoroughly cast off the vices of his youth. In the letter to Tiro (Fam. xvi. 21), in which he announces his complete reforma
* Est enim čuoppov årtitoMITevouévov XpewDElétny esse.-Att. vii. 8, 5. † Att. xvi. 2, 2.
$ In Tusculanum nos venturos putamus aut Nonis aut postridie. Ibi ut sint omnia parata. Plures enim fortasse nobiscum erunt et, ut arbitror, diutius ibi commorabimur. Labrum si in balineo non est, ut sit : item cetera, quae sunt ad victum et valetudinem necessaria.-Fam. xiv. 20.