[103] Ab hāc perturbātiōne religiōnum advolās in M. Varrōnis, sānctissimī atque integerrimī virī, fundum Casinātem. quō iūre, quō ōre? ‘Eōdem’, inquiēs, ‘quō in hērēdum L. Rubrī, quō in hērēdum L. Tursēlī praedia, quō in reliquās innumerābilēs possessiōnēs’. et sī ab hastā, valeat hasta, valeant tabulae modo Caesaris, nōn tuae, quibus dēbuistī, nōn quibus tū tē līberāvistī. Varrōnis quidem Casinātem fundum quis vēnisse dīcit, quis hastam istīus vēnditiōnis vīdit, quis vōcem praecōnis audīvit? mīsisse tē dīcis Alexandrīam quī emeret ā Caesare; ipsum enim expectāre magnum fuit.

Antony’s Enrichment Activities

Rome’s civil-war years saw a drastic redistribution of wealth, as the victorious warlords oversaw the confiscation of property and land owned by those who ended up on the losing side of history. It was one of the ways by which the winners were able to reward the loyalty of their supporters, many of whom (according to Cicero) joined Caesar’s cause precisely in the expectation that it would prove financially beneficial. As he says in Philippic 4.9 about Antony and his followers: [more] [study questions]

Ab hac perturbatione religionum advolas in M. Varronis, sanctissimi atque integerrimi viri, fundum Casinatem: Cicero already relied on advolare for the purpose of negative characterization in § 50. ad + volare — literally ‘to fly towards’, but also used in military contexts to signify ‘to rush to the attack’, ‘to swoop down on’ — generates the dehumanizing image of Antony rapaciously ‘swooping in on and snatching up’ Varro’s estate in his greedy claws, with the significant hyperbaton in … fundum highlighting both the distance and the speed of the descent. Positioned neatly in-between the two prepositional phrases ab… and in …, advolas further suggests restless agitation of the compulsive kind: Antony seems beset by the obsession to perpetrate one outrage after another in quick succession. When Roman aristocrats travelled in foreign parts, they would routinely rely on the hospitality extended by senatorial peers, even those with whom relations were fraught. So it is not at all unusual that Antony and his entourage, while in the area, stayed a while at Varro’s villa. Cicero himself records a similar visit paid to him by Caesar in December 45 in a letter to Atticus (Att. 13.52 = 353 SB), noting that Caesar is not the kind of guest one is keen to host twice.

M. Varronis, sanctissimi atque integerrimi viri: embedded within in … fundum Casinatem is the name and a longish appreciation in apposition of the victim. Cicero hails the moral integrity and unblemished record of Marcus Terentius Varro in superlatives. The use of vir (especially in the context of the metaphorical assimilation of Antony to a monstrous bird of prey) is not accidental either: ‘Cicero’s speeches make it evident that vir is a term of utmost respect which he applies to Rome’s foremost senators and magistrates. That the word is not to be thrown about at random is evident from a letter to Atticus about the late dictator in which Cicero bristles that he heard “that tyrant” called clarissimum virum in a public meeting (Att. 15.20.2). To Cicero, a man who has misused his power is unworthy of the time-honoured epithet’ (Santoro L’Hoir 1992: 13).

quo iure, quo ore [advolas]‘Eodem [iure / ore]’, inquies, ‘quo in heredum L. Rubri [praedia advolavi / invasi], quo in heredum L. Turseli praedia [advolavi / invasi], quo in reliquas innumerabiles possessiones [advolavi / invasi]: By suspending with further verbs after the advolas of the previous sentence, but continuing the syntax of ‘[elided verb] + in + accusative’ in Antony’s imagined response, Cicero has Antony buy into the idiom of his attack and thus agree with the accusation of greedy land-grabbing. (Mayor (1861: 144) suggests that a ‘more general notion’ such as invasi ought to be supplied from advolas.) Cicero here sets up an analogy between Antony’s insolence in sequestering the property of Varro and the unrestrained greed that informed his desire to benefit from legacies, to the point of short-changing their next of kin. Lucius Rubrius and Lucius Turselius, it seems, composed testaments that left their landed property (praedia: neuter accusative plural after the preposition in) to Antony, instead of their natural heirs: both heredum (genitive plural of heres) depend on praedia (the first implied), L. Rubri depends on the first heredumL. Turseli on the second: ‘… I snatched up the properties of the heirs of L. Rubrius and the heirs of L. Turselius’.

quo iure, quo ore?: the two questions pull in opposite direction: quo iure (‘by what right?’) requires a negative answer (‘you had no right at all!’), whereas quo ore (‘with what face?’) issues a protest against the expression on Antony’s face (a mixture of greed and cheek?) he wore during the confiscation. Nisbet (1960: 103) notes that quo ore? ‘does not combine well with quo iure?, and the difficulty is increased by the following sentence’. He suggests reading quo more?.

inquies: second person singular future indicative active (‘you will say’).

L. Rubri … L. Turseli: we know from §§ 40–41 that Lucius Rubrius was an inhabitant of Casinum; perhaps the same applies to Lucius Turselius as well, though the two individuals are otherwise unknown.

et si ab hasta [in eas possessiones invasisti / advolavisti ‖ eas possessiones emisti], valeat hasta, valeant tabulae modo [ut sint tabulae] Caesaris, non tuae, [eae] quibus debuisti, non [eae] quibus tu te liberavisti: ‘If you took possession of them at a public auction, let the auction stand / be valid, let the sale-books stand — only provided they are Caesar’s, not your own, those through which you were in debt, not those through which you freed yourself of debt’. The sentence is difficult, not least because of frequent ellipsis, and best tackled bit by bit:

  • et si … valeat hasta: the opening conditional sequence is mixed, with an (implied) perfect indicative in the protasis (positing a past fact), followed in the apodosis by a third-person present hortatory subjunctive (valeat) to express a concession that Cicero is making now. The verb and related accusatives in the si-clause are again elided and need to be provided from context. Mayor (1861: 144) supplies invasisti, Ramsey (2003: 313) emisti.
  • valeant … tuae: a second third-person present hortatory subjunctive (valeant) segues in asyndeton, followed by a highly elliptical qualification introduced by modo. For modo ut… = ‘only provided that…’, also with ellipsis of verb, see OLD s.v. modo 4.
  • quibus debuisti … liberavisti: at the end of the sentence, the (implied) antecedents (eae) of the two relative pronouns quibus stand in apposition to tabulae, with quibus debuisti picking up tabulae Caesaris, which registered Antony in deep debt, and quibus tu te liberavisti picking up tabulae tuae, showing Antony debt-free owing to his illegal enrichments.

ab hasta: ‘from the public auction of confiscated property’. At a public auction a spear was stuck in the ground — the hasta thus ‘is the characteristic sign of auctions and hence functions as a metonymy for the allotment of possessions by auction’ (Manuwald 2007: 515).

valeant tabulae: on the meaning of tabulae, see Denniston (1926: 164): ‘Tabulae means here the bills of sale at an auction; but the mention of the word suggests one of its other meanings, “accounts”, and Cicero goes off at a tangent: “When I uphold the validity of ‘tabulae’, I mean Caesar’s accounts, in which you are entered as owing money for the property of Pompey which you bought and never paid for; not the accounts which you falsified at the temple of Ops, in order to get money to free yourself from debt”’.

Varronis quidem Casinatem fundum quis venisse dicit, quis hastam istius venditionis vidit, quis vocem praeconis audivit?: a tricolon, reinforced by the triple anaphora of quis, of three pugnacious rhetorical questions. dicit governs an indirect statement with fundum as subject accusative and venisse as verb. The placement of Varronis quidem Casinatem fundum before the interrogative pronoun quis brings out the full contrastive force of quidem: ‘As far as the estate of Varro at Casinum is concerned, who says that it was ever up for sale…?’

venisse: perfect infinitive of veneo, active in form but passive in meaning (‘to be for sale’), NOT of venio (‘to come’) even though the forms are indistinguishable. veneo functions as the passive to vendo (‘to sell’).

misisse te dicis Alexandriam [aliquem] qui emeret a Caesare; ipsum enim expectare magnum fuitdicis introduces an indirect statement with te as subject accusative and misisse as verb. The accusative object (and antecedent of the relative pronoun qui) is implied. Alexandriam is an accusative of direction (without preposition since Alexandria is a city). The subjunctive in the relative clause (emeret) expresses purpose. Cicero follows up this imagined interjection and explanation by Antony with a highly sarcastic meta-comment set up by enim (Kroon 1995: 180) that mockingly ‘explains’ the apparent motivation for Antony’s dispatch of an agent to Alexandria: ‘it would of course (enim) have been difficult to wait for Caesar[’s return]!’

ipsum: referring to Caesar.

magnum fuit: for the indicative (where the English calls for a subjunctive) see Gildersleeve & Lodge 167–68: ‘The Latin language expresses possibility and powerobligation and necessity, and abstract relations generally, as facts; whereas, our translation often implies the failure to realise’. One of their examples, Cicero, de Natura Deorum 2.159, offers a good parallel to our passage: longum est persequi utilitate asinorum — ‘it would be tedious to rehearse the useful qualities of asses (I will not do it)’.

perturbātiō –ōnis f.: confusion, disorder, disturbance

religiō religiōnis f.: supernatural constraint, taboo; obligation; sanction; worship; rite; sanctity; reverence, respect, awe, conscience, scruples; religion; order of monks/nuns

advolō advolāre advolāvī advolātus: to fly to, fly; hasten, run up, speed

Marcus Marcī m.: Marcus

Varrō –ōnis m.: Varro, a family surname

fundus fundī m.: base, foundation, farm

Casīnas -ātisone who is from Casinum

hērēs hērēdis m. or f.: heir

Lūcius –iī m.: Lucius

Rubrius –ī m.: Rubrius

Turselius -i(i) m.: Turselius (name)

praedium praedi(ī) n.: estate

innumerābilis –e: countless, innumerable, immeasurable, immense

possessiō possessiōnis f.: possession

hasta hastae f.: spear

tabula tabulae f.: writing tablet (wax covered board); records (pl.); document, deed, will; list; plank/board, flat piece of wood; door panel; counting/playing/notice board; picture, painting; wood panel for painting; metal/stone tablet/panel w/text

Caesar Caesaris m.: Caesar; often Julius Caesar or Augustus Caesar

līberō līberāre līberāvī līberātus: to free, liberate

vēneō –īre –iī (or –īvī) –ītum: to be sold

venditiō –ōnis f.: a sale, a selling, a vending

praecō –ōnis m.: herald, auctioneer

Alexandria –ae f.: Alexandria, a large city in Egypt

emō emere ēmī ēmptus: to buy

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Suggested Citation

Ingo Gildenhard, Cicero: Philippic 2.44–50, 78–92, 100–119. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2020. ISBN: 978-1-947822-12-2.