[104] Quis vērō audīvit umquam — nūllīus autem salūs cūrae plūribus fuit — dē fortūnīs Varrōnis rem ūllam esse dētractam? quid? sī etiam scrīpsit ad tē Caesar ut redderēs, quid satis potest dīcī dē tantā impudentiā? removē gladiōs parumper illōs quōs vidēmus: iam intellegēs aliam causam esse hastae Caesaris, aliam cōnfīdentiae et temeritātis tuae. nōn enim tē dominus modo illīs sēdibus sed quīvīs amīcus, vīcīnus, hospes, prōcūrātor arcēbit. at quam multōs diēs in eā vīllā turpissimē es perbacchātus! ab hōrā tertiā bibēbātur, lūdēbātur, vomēbātur. ō tēcta ipsa misera, ‘quam disparī dominō’ — quamquam quō modō iste dominus? — sed tamen quam ab disparī tenēbantur! studiōrum enim suōrum receptāculum M. Varrō voluit illud, nōn libīdinum dēversōrium.

Animal House

Cicero continues to insinuate, wrongly, that Antony, during his recent sojourn in Southern Italy, tried to stage another hostile take-over of Varro’s villa at Casinum. During his visit, it appeared as if the property had changed ownership, from the learned Varro to the loathsome Antony, who turned a house of erudition into a cesspool of vice. In § 104, Cicero focuses on boozing and gambling, including the emetic consequences of over-indulgence. In § 105, he adds sexual debauchery to the portfolio of sins. [study questions]

Quis vero audivit umquam — nullius autem salus curae pluribus fuit — de fortunis Varronis rem ullam esse detractam?audivit introduces an indirect statement with rem ullam as subject accusative and esse detractam (de…) as infinitive. The particle vero (‘in fact’) suggests that Cicero’s rhetorical question (quis … audivit?) operates on the level of commonly acknowledged facts.

nullius autem salus curae pluribus fuit: a double dative construction with esse: lit. ‘the well-being (salus) of no-one (nullius: genitive singular of nullus) was of concern (curae: dative of end / purpose) to more people (pluribus: dative of person affected)’; more elegantly: ‘no man has a larger number of concerned well-wishers’ (Shackleton Bailey). The particle autem here has an adversative sense (‘no-one has heard, even though virtually everyone cared…’) and marks the parenthetical status of the sentence as a discrete textual unit in its own right (see Kroon (1995: 270), who defines the discourse function of autem as ‘indication of the discrete status of a text segment in relation to its preceding verbal or non-verbal context’).

de fortunis Varronis: the basic meaning of fortuna is ‘fortune’, but in the plural (as here) it often refers to ‘fortunate material circumstances’, i.e. ‘wealth’, ‘property’.

quid? si etiam scripsit ad te Caesar ut redderes, quid satis potest dici de tanta impudentia?quid? (‘Well then’) is often used as a transitional device. si etiam (followed by the perfect indicative scripsit, which indicates that Cicero is reporting a fact) is best translated with ‘as’ or ‘since’. The reference to Caesar’s intervention on Varro’s behalf sets up the rhetorical question quid … impudentia?, which consists of a well-known topos, i.e. the impossibility to do a real-life phenomenon (here Antony’s insolence) justice in discourse.

ut redderesscripsit implies that Caesar’s letter contained a directive to Antony to return the estate: the ut-clause is one of indirect command. Cicero here gives us Caesar’s (negative) response to Antony’s enquiry mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph whether he could take possession of Varro’s villa.

quid satis potest dici de tanta impudentia?: lit. ‘what that is sufficient (satis) can be said about such impudence?’ ~ ‘what discourse can do such impudence justice?’ satis here functions as a noun and is the predicative complement to the subject of the sentence (quid).

remove gladios parumper illos quos videmus: iam intelleges aliam causam esse hastae Caesaris, aliam [causam] confidentiae et temeritatis tuae: Cicero’s imaginary interactivity (remove is an imperative addressed to Antony) here includes the setting: gladios … illos stands metonymically for Antony’s armed henchmen that Cicero imagines can be glimpsed (videmus) as they crowd threateningly around the senate house while he delivers his speech. In Cicero an imperative [remove] in (asyndetic) parataxis with a future [intelleges] often stands in for a conditional sequence (‘Remove / If you remove those swords…, at that moment (iam) you will realize…’): see Mayor (1861: 145) citing Madvig, and Ramsey (2003: 121). causam here has the technical sense of ‘legal situation / position’ (OLD s.v. causa 14b): Cicero contrasts the procedural legality of Caesar’s auctions (hastae Caesaris) with the arbitrary insolence of Antony’s illegal wealth-grab, pursued by violent means. But the distinction is of Cicero’s own making: it was, for instance, Caesar who sold the confiscated property of Pompey — to Antony.

confidentiae et temeritatis tuae: the company of temeritas, which is unambiguously negative, clarifies the meaning of confidentia, which can have a positive (‘self-confidence’) or — as here — a negative (‘audacity’) sense.

non enim te dominus modo illis sedibus sed quivis amicus, vicinus, hospes, procurator arcebit: translate as follows: non modo dominus sed etiam quivis amicus … procurator te illis sedibus arcebit. In addition to the owner (dominus), any lesser stakeholders will (now) also ward off Antony from Varro’s property. (Cicero lists four categories in asyndetic sequence, designed to suggest comprehensive hostility towards Antony in the area: friend – neighbour – guest – manager.) In line with his deliberate blurring of the confiscation attempt in 47 BCE and his more recent visit in the spring of 44 BCE, Cicero leaves it ambiguous what precisely ‘warding off Antony’ implies: protection against wrongful repossession or refusal to extend hospitality.

illis sedibus: an ablative of separation with arcebit.

procurator: ‘the agent of an absent owner, who had full power to act in his behalf’ (Mayor 1861: 145).

at quam multos dies in ea villa turpissime es perbacchatus! ab hora tertia bibebatur, ludebatur, vomebatur: Cicero identifies Antony as the lead-reveller (es perbacchatus: the prefix per- intensifies the activity) before continuing with an asyndetic tricolon of impersonal passives to capture the carousing Antony and his cronies engaged in, from 9 o’clock in the morning onwards: drinking, gambling, vomiting. Cicero leaves it open whether the frequent regurgitation breaks he posits were spontaneous (the result of binge-drinking) or deliberately induced, as part of excessive banqueting, or both.

multos dies: accusative of duration of time.

o tecta ipsa misera, ‘quam dispari domino’ — quamquam quo modo iste dominus? — sed tamen quam ab dispari tenebantur!: Cicero personifies the house by addressing it directly and metonymically: tecta, the roof, stands in for the whole. He ratchets up the pathos by citing the beginning of a tragic verse that laments a mismatch (cf. dispari) between a house (domus) and its owner (dominus). Given that labeling Antony ‘the owner’ (dominus) of Varro’s estate is incorrect, he feels the need to follow up with a parenthetical gloss (quamquam … dominus?), which recalls Antony’s unsuccessful attempts at confiscating Varro’s property a few years back, before reiterating the opening words of the tragic citation, now adjusted to the situation and integrated into the syntax of his sentence: dispari [homine], endowed with the preposition ab, becomes an ablative of agency with tenebantur; the subject are the tecta (nominative neuter plural).

The theme of mismatches between houses and their occupants had a personal and a political relevance for Cicero. In 62 BCE he bought a house of illustrious pedigree located on the Palatine Hill for 3.5 million sesterces, which many thought was too grandiose for a homo novus. And in the civil wars many striking estates changed owners through confiscation and enforced auctions. In the eyes of many, many a new owner did not match the quality of his new property. For Cicero, the most blatant mismatch concerned Antony’s residency in the house of Pompey the Great, which he laments at length at Philippic 2.65–69, to the point of pitying the very walls of the house because of the desecrations and debaucheries they were forced to witness (69: me quidem miseret parietum ipsorum atque tectorum — ‘For my part, I pity the very walls and roof’). Here he treats Antony’s presence in Varro’s house in a similar spirit.

In his contemporary treatise On Duties (de Officiis), Cicero includes a little disquisition on what domus is fitting for a leading statesman (1.138: dicendum est etiam, qualem hominis honorati et principis domum placeat esse). As a basic principle he maintains that the inhabitants ought to endow the house with dignity — and despite the hopes of many, it does not work the other way around: 1.139: ornanda enim est dignitas domo, non ex domo tota quaerenda, nec domo dominus, sed domino domus honestanda est. He then goes on to quote from the same tragedy as in Philippic 2:

Odiosum est enim, cum a praetereuntibus dicitur:

O domus antiqua et quam dispari

dominare domino

quod quidem his temporibus in multis licet dicere.

[For it is unpleasant, when passers-by remark: ‘O good old house, alas! how different the owner who now owns you!’ And in these times that may be said of many a house!]

his temporibus refers to the recent period of civil warfare, confiscations, and repossessions — though Cicero must have been quite aware of the fact that others may well have applied the verses to his own residency on the Palatine Hill.

studiorum enim suorum receptaculum M. Varro [esse] voluit illud, non libidinum deversorium: M. Varro is the subject of the sentence, voluit the verb. The supplementary infinitive esse is implied. The deictic pronoun illud refers to his estate at Casinum, which Antony defiled by turning it from its original purpose as inspirational retreat for Varro’s literary activities (studia) into a cesspool of vice. See McGinn (2004: 18): ‘Other terms for lower-class lodging, such as deversorium and meritorium, were sometimes explicitly associated with the practice of prostitution, that is, as words for brothels … See Cic. Phil. 2.104–05, where the former villa of Varro becomes a libidinum deversorium, and thus the haunt of both male and female prostitutes, as well as more respectable debauchees’. For the meaning of deversorium = ‘lodging house that provided a place where travellers could have a meal, a drink, and a bed for the night’, see Holleran (2012: 140–41).

Varrō –ōnis m.: Varro, a family surname

dētrahō –ere –trāxī –tractum: to take away from

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

impudentia –ae f.: shamelessness

removeō removēre removī remōtus: to move back; put away; withdraw; remove

parumper: a little while; for a short time (> parum and –per)

hasta hastae f.: spear

confīdentia –ae f.: assurance; audacity; confidence

temeritās temeritās f.: rashness

quīvīs quaevīs quodvīs or (subst.) quidvīs: who or what thou pleasest; any whatever, any

prōcūrātor –ōris m.: a manager, overseer, superintendent, agent, administrator, deputy, procurator, keeper

arceō arcēre arcuī: to ward/keep off/away; keep close, confine; prevent, hinder; protect; separate

vīlla vīllae f.: farm/country home/estate; large country residence/seat, villa; village

turpiter: in an unbecoming or disgraceful manner

perbacchor –ārī –ātus sum: to carouse, revel throughout

bibō bibere bibī: to drink; toast; visit, frequent (w/river name); drain, draw off; thirst for; suck, (fig.) wound

lūdō lūdere lūsī lūsus: to play, mock, tease, trick; play with

vomō –ere –uī –itus: to vomit; belch, vomit forth

ō: O

dispār disparis: unlike, dissimilar, different, unequal, ill–matched

quōmodō or separately quō modō: in what way, manner? how?; in the same manner as; just as; as

Marcus Marcī m.: Marcus

dēversōrium –ī n.: an inn, lodging-house

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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.