Age vērō, cēterīs in rēbus quā sit temperantiā, cōnsīderāte. Unde illam tantam celeritātem et tam incrēdibilem cursum inventum putātis? Nōn enim illum eximia vīs rēmigum aut ars inaudīta quaedam gubernandī aut ventī aliquī novī tam celeriter in ultimās terrās pertulērunt, sed eae rēs, quae cēterōs remorārī solent, nōn retardārunt; nōn avāritia ab īnstitūtō cursū ad praedam aliquam dēvocāvit, nōn libīdō ad voluptātem, nōn amoenitās ad dēlectātiōnem, nōn nōbilitās urbis ad cognitiōnem, nōn dēnique labor ipse ad quiētem; postrēmō sīgna et tabulās cēteraque ōrnāmenta Graecōrum oppidōrum, quae cēterī tollenda arbitrantur, ea sibi ille nē vīsenda quidem exīstimāvit.

40: No sight-seeing or souvenirs for the perfect general

Cicero now argues that Pompey’s outstanding character not only ensures compliance with ethical standards in military operations set by the ancestors; it also has significant strategic advantages. ..[full essay]

Study Questions:

  • Can you think of any reasons why the imperative form Age is singular whilst considerate (equally imperative) is plural?
  • What kind of clause is ceteris in rebus qua ille sit temperantia?
  • What kind of ablative is qua... temperantia?
  • What kind of clause does putatis introduce?
  • Parse retardarunt. What is its accusative object?
  • What do you think of Cicero’s use of synonyms such as voluptatem and delectationem? Do they complement each other (and if so how) or do they give the text a bloated wordiness?
  • Identify the subject accusative and infinitive of the indirect statement introduced by arbitrantur.
  • Identify and explain the case of sibi.
  • How does the explanation of Pompey’s speed Cicero gives in this paragraph affect our understanding of his previous praise of Pompey’s speed as a facet of his martial prowess?

Stylistic Appreciation:

Explore the rhetorical effect of negations in the passage.

Discussion Point:

Describe and discuss the Romans’ attitude to Greece that comes through in this paragraph. How does Pompey differ from the ceteri?

Age vero ceteris in rebus qua ille sit temperantia, considerate: the singular imperative of ago, i.e. age, could be used idiomatically as a transitional particle, irrespective of the how many people were in the audience – hence the seemingly weird situation that the sentence begins with a singular imperative and ends with one in the plural (considerate). considerate governs an indirect question (hence the subjunctive sit) introduced by the interrogative adjective qua, which agrees with temperantia. qua ... temperantia is an ablative of quality. ceteris in rebus belongs into the qua-clause, put is pulled up-front for emphasis. Translate in the following order: Age vero, considerate qua temperantia ille sit in ceteris rebus.

ceteris in rebus: the preposition that governs the ablative phrase comes second; the normal word order would be in ceteris rebus. The phenomenon is called ‘anastrophe’.

Unde illam tantam celeritatem et tam incredibilem cursum inventum putatis?: The main verb of the question is putatis, which introduces an indirect statement, with illam tantam celeritatem and tam incredibilem cursum as subject accusatives and inventum (sc. esse) as (passive) infinitive. inventum agrees in case, number, and gender with the closest of the two subject accusatives, i.e. cursum. It may seem curious that Cicero here opts for a passive construction and, further, that he doesn’t even specify an agent by means of an ablative of agency (e.g. ab illo). The reason could be that the question is designed as a ‘red herring’: as Cicero goes on to suggest counterintuitively, Pompey’s speed wasn’t extraordinary at all – all he did was not to get sidetracked because of character flaws, like all the other generals.41

Non enim illum eximia vis remigum aut ars inaudita quaedam gubernandi aut venti aliqui novi tam celeriter in ultimas terras pertulerunt, sed eae res, quae ceteros [sc. imperatores] remorari solent, non retardarunt: the sentence has two (negated) main verbs, linked by sed: non ... pertulerunt; non retardarunt. illum is the accusative object of both. pertulerunt goes with three subjects, presented as excluded alternatives coordinated by aut – aut: (i) eximia vis remigum; (ii) ars inaudita quaedam gubernandi; (iii) venti aliqui novi.

retardarunt: the syncopated form of the 3rd person plural perfect indicative active of retarda-ve-runt.

non avaritia ab instituto cursu ad praedam aliquam devocavit, non libido [ab instituto cursu] ad voluptatem [devocavit], non amoenitas [ab instituto cursu] ad delectationem [devocavit], non nobilitas urbis [ab instituto cursu] ad cognitionem [devocavit], non denique labor ipse [ab instituto cursu] ad quietem [devocavit]; a long, paratactic string of main clauses in asyndeton, each starting with the negation non. The ablative phrase ab instituto cursu and the main verb devocavit are systematically elided after the first one.

non..., non..., non..., non..., non...: a powerful anaphora, reinforced by the asyndeton, the elisions, and Cicero’s economy in the use of attributes: none of the accusative phrases except the first (ad praedam aliquam) has a modifier.

(i) avaritia ... ad praedam, (ii) libido ad voluptatem, (iii) amoenitas ad delectationem, (iv) nobilitas urbis ad cognitionem: the first four clauses yield an intricate chiastic design: (i) avaritia and (ii) libido designate personal characteristics; (iii) amoenitas and (iv) nobilitas urbis refer to the characteristics of specific locations. Yet (i) correlates with (iv) and (ii) with (iii): greed for plunder entails the inspection of famous cities; and lust for pleasure motivates ‘wellness stops’.

non denique labor ipse ad quietem: the climactic fifth item in the list is different in nature: it refers to a positive quality of Pompey, i.e. his seemingly superhuman ability to do without rest. ipse, which agrees with labor, is here used to emphasize something regarded as exceptional or extreme: see OLD s.v. ipse 9.

postremo signa et tabulas ceteraque ornamenta Graecorum oppidorum, quae ceteri tollenda esse arbitrantur, ea sibi ille ne visenda quidem existimavit: the subject of the sentence is ille (referring to Pompey), the main verb existimavit. It introduces an indirect statement, with the polysyndetic tricolon signa et tabulas ceteraque ornamenta as subject accusative and visenda (sc. esse) as infinitive. ea sums up signa et tabulas ceteraque ornamenta for additional emphasis. The pronoun sibi is a dative of agency with the gerundive (‘by him’). Cicero construes the relative clause and the second half of the main clause in parallel:

quae ~ ea
ceteri ~ (sibi) ille
tollenda esse ~ ne visenda [sc. esse] quidem
arbitrantur ~ existimavit

The parallel design heightens the contrast between Pompey and all the others (ceteri). It also underscores how widespread and prolific the practice of taking sculpture from Greece to Rome was and hence how admirable Pompey was to resist it. (A significant proportion of original Greek bronzes survive because the ships carrying them from Greece capsized en route to Italy.)

signa et tabulas ceteraque ornamenta: signa are statues, tabulae are paintings, and ornamenta refers to any other kind of civic artwork on display in the public spaces of cities that could be removed and taken to Rome.

quae ceteri tollenda esse arbitrantur: the relative pronoun quae has a double function: it is the accusative object of arbitrantur and it is the subject accusative of the indirect statement introduces by arbitrantur (with the gerundive tollenda esse as infinitive).

41 Caesar, too, built up a reputation for celeritas: veni, vidi, vici, and all that! Cf. Goldsworthy (1998), who argues that Caesar portrays himself as distilled essence of a Roman general, i.e. that celeritas is actually a desirable trait in a Roman general. The noteworthy point about the celeritas of both Pompey and Caesar then is not so much that they show celeritas as the superlative nature of their celeritas.


agō, agere, ēgī, āctum, 3, a. and n.: set in motion, drive, lead; direct, conduct, guide; incite, urge; press forward, chase, pursue; drive off as plunder, rob; do, act, transact, perform; manage, carry on, accomplish; of time, spend, pass, live; also, treat, deal with, confer, plead with; pass. sometimes, be at stake, be in peril. Imp. age as an interjection, come now! come! well! grātiās agere, to give thanks. māximās grātiās agere, to give heartiest thanks. Quid agis? colloquially, how are you? also, what are you about?

temperantia, -ae, [temperāns], f.: moderation, discretion, self-control, temperance.

cōnsīderō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, 1, a.: look at closely, examine; reflect upon, consider, contemplate.

celeritās, -ātis, [celer], f.: swiftness, speed, quickness.

incrēdibilis, -e, [in- + crēdibilis], adj.: beyond belief, incredible, extraordinary, unparalleled.

eximius, -a, -um, [eximō, take out], adj.: choice, fine, excellent; uncommon, extraordinary, remarkable.

rēmex, -igis, [rēmus + agō], m.: rower, oarsman.

inaudītus, -a, um, [in- + audītus], adj.: unheard-of, unusual, strange.

gubernō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [cf. κυβερνάω], 1, a.: steer, act as pilot; direct, guide, control.

perferō, -ferre, -tulī, -lātum, [per + ferō], irr., a.: bear through; bring, convey; carry news, announce, report; carry through, accomplish, bring about; put up with, bear, suffer, endure.

remoror, -ārī, -ātus sum, [re- + moror], 1, dep.: hold back, delay, detain, hinder.

retardō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [re- + tardō, impede], 1, a. and n.: keep back, hinder, impede; delay, tarry.

avāritia, -ae, [avārus], f.: greed, avarice, covetousness.

īnstituō, -ere, īnstituī, īnstitūtum, [in + statuō], 3, a. and n.: put in place, plant; found, establish; arrange, draw up; build, construct; provide, prepare; undertake, begin; appoint, designate; purpose, resolve, decide, propose; teach, instruct, train up.

dēvocō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [dē + vocō], 1, a.: call away, recall; call off, draw away from.

amoenitās, -ātis, [amoenus, pleasant], f.: pleasantness, charm.

dēlectātiō, -ōnis, [dēlectō], f.: delight, pleasure, gratification, enjoyment.

nōbilitās, -ātis, [nōbilis], f.: celebrity, fame; high birth, noble origin; aristocracy, nobles; nobility, excellence, superiority.

cognitiō, -ōnis, [cognōscō], f.: a becoming acquainted with, knowledge, acquaintance; as a legal term, investigation, inquiry.

quiēs, -ētis, f.: rest, repose, quiet; sleep.

postrēmō [postrēmus], adv.: at last, finally, lastly.

tabula, -ae, f.: board, plank; tablet, writing-tablet; writing, record, memorandum, account; picture, painting. tabulae pūblicae, public records.

ōrnāmentum, -ī, [ōrnō], n.: outfit, equipment, apparatus; mark of honor, decoration; distinction, ornament.

Graecus, -a, -um, [Γραϊκός], adj.: of the Greeks, Grecian, Greek. As subst., Graecī, -ōrum, m., pl., the Greeks. Graeca, -ōrum, n., pl., Greek writing, Greek.

vīsō, vīsere, vīsī, vīsum, [freq. of videō], 3, a.: look at attentively, view, behold; go to see, visit.

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Suggested Citation

Ingo Gildenhard, Louise Hodgson, et al., Cicero, On Pompey’s Command (De Imperio), 27–49. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-78374-080-2. DCC edition, 2016.http://dcc.dickinson.edu/cicero-de-imperio/40