Philippics 2.100 essay

In §§ 92–97, Cicero blasts Antony for the forged decrees of Caesar that he used to enrich himself or to recall exiles, following up with two paragraphs (§§ 98–99) devoted to Antony’s alleged mistreatment of his uncle C. Antonius Hybrida (Cicero’s colleague as consul in 63), who had otherwise a rather checkered record: in 70, he was temporarily expelled from the senate because of bankruptcy and in 59 he was exiled because of provincial mismanagement. At the beginning of § 100, Cicero returns to Antony’s mishandling of Caesar’s state papers (ad chirographa redeamus), a topic which he here brings to a close with reference to the timeframe initially established for a review of Caesar’s archive. The relevant senatorial decree was passed at the end of March / beginning of April. The official review was supposed to begin in June. In the intervening period, Antony was largely absent from Rome on a trip to Southern Italy: he tried to shore up personal support among Caesar’s veterans, who were also being wooed by Caesar’s heir Caesar Octavianus (the future Augustus), by securing land for their settlement. This trip and Antony’s return to Rome is Cicero’s main focus in §§ 100b–108.

In the course of imperial expansion, the Romans evolved a set of procedures involving politics, law and religion which regulated the use of public lands acquired through conquest, including the establishment of colonies, which was one way of helping former soldiers and needy citizens.58 At the same time, land distribution to veterans was a highly controversial issue in late-republican Rome and helped to precipitate the civil war. When generals returned from campaigns abroad, they wanted to settle their long-serving soldiers, to reward them for their services and to establish a powerful base of clients. This transformation of ephemeral military glory into a long-standing source of social capital grated with the senatorial elite, especially when the settlements were large-scale — as when Pompey returned after his defeat of Mithridates. At every turn, the senate blocked his attempts to have his arrangements in the East ratified and his soldiers settled — and thus drove Pompey into the arms of Caesar, who, as consul of 59 BCE, pushed through the necessary legislation even against massive senatorial resistance. Caesar himself arranged for the settlement of his soldiers in 45 BCE; and in June 44 BCE, Antony and Dolabella passed a law that set up a commission of seven charged with dividing up land among veterans and the urban poor.59