[48] Intimus erat in tribūnātū Clōdiō quī sua ergā mē beneficia commemorat; eius omnium incendiōrum fax, cuius etiam domī iam tum quiddam mōlītus est. quid dīcam ipse optimē intellegit. inde iter Alexandrīam contrā senātūs auctōritātem, contrā rem pūblicam et religiōnēs; sed habēbat ducem Gabīnium, quīcum quidvīs rēctissimē facere posset. quī tum inde reditus aut quālis? prius in ultimam Galliam ex Aegyptō quam domum. quae autem domus? suam enim quisque domum tum obtinēbat nec erat usquam tua. domum dīcō? quid erat in terrīs ubi in tuō pedem pōnerēs praeter ūnum Mīsēnum, quod cum sociīs tamquam Sisapōnem tenēbās?

Antony Adrift

§§ 48–50a are devoted to Antony’s public career in the 50s BCE. At the opening of § 48, we are in Rome and the year is 58: Antony, Cicero claims, became a bosom friend of Clodius, who was tribune of the people at the time (about to drive Cicero into exile and burn down his house…) as well as married to Antony’s future wife Fulvia. The couple offered Antony excellent opportunities to pursue his imputed revolutionary and sexual passions: Cicero casts him as Clodius’ principal firebrand in the city while engaging in some marital foreplay in his home. After his stint as catalyst for Clodius’ incendiary actions that — according to Cicero — saw conflagrations across the capital, he has Antony drift off to the edges of the empire in search of some work experience abroad, without changing the company he keeps. In 57–55, we find him in the entourage of Aulus Gabinius, one of the consuls of 58, and hence (according to Cicero) co-responsible for Cicero’s exile. (He let him know about it in the in Pisonem, an invective attack on the other consul of 58, Lucius Calpurnius Piso, though Cicero reserves sufficient spite for Gabinius as well.) And in 54, Antony ends up with Caesar’s forces in Gaul. If we read between the lines of Cicero’s invective, what emerges is an impressive record of foreign service, which suggests that Antony proved adept at navigating the opportunities offered by Rome’s system of imperial exploitation, helped along, no doubt, by family connections. In Cicero’s account, of course, Antony comes across as a rootless scoundrel, unanchored and adrift, a piece of human dross without a proper home, floating about at the edges of the world: Cicero’s invective GPS tracks Antony to the farthest reaches of Roman power, from the South-East (Alexandria) to the North-West (Gaul), with a notional footprint in Italy (Misenum) that Cicero combines with a gesture to the far West (Sisapo in Spain): anywhere but R/Home. In line with the logic of fast-forward, the account is of course highly selective: Cicero focuses on those moments that lend themselves to negative comment, while omitting others that constitute less amenable targets for abusive jeers. [study questions]

Intimus erat in tribunatu Clodio qui sua erga me beneficia commemoratintimus, used as superlative of interior, means ‘furthest from the outside’, ‘most remote’, ‘inmost’ and, with specific reference to friends, ‘most intimate’, ‘closest’. Placed up front for emphasis and standing in predicative position to the (implied) subject of the sentence, it is to be construed with the dative Clodio: ‘He, who recalls favours he has done me, was Clodius’ most intimate chum during his tribuneship’. Cicero suppresses any hint of what may have been the real motive behind Antony’s association with Clodius: ‘Antony may have been drawn to Clodius by a desire to avenge the death of his stepfather P. Lentulus, who had been executed by Cicero (§ 17), or the connection with Clodius may have come about through the younger Curio, Antony’s close friend (§§ 44–45), who led demonstrations on Clodius’ behalf in 61 when he was charged with sacrilege in the Bona Dea affair’ (Ramsey 2003: 230). There is arguably a suggestion of contagion and pathology here — intimacy ensures that Clodius’ revolutionary zeal rubs off on Antony. According to Plutarch, Life of Antony 2.4, the association was short-lived and Antony, smelling a change of winds, took himself off to Greece for military service and training in oratory:

ὁ δὲ βραχὺν μέν τινα χρόνον τῇ Κλωδίου τοῦ θρασυτάτου καὶ βδελυρωτάτου τῶν τότε δημαγωγῶν φορᾷ πάντα τὰ πράγματα ταραττούσῃ προσέμιξεν ἑαυτόν: ταχὺ δὲ τῆς ἐκείνου μανίας μεστὸς γενόμενος, καὶ φοβηθεὶς τοὺς συνισταμένους ἐπὶ τὸν Κλώδιον, ἀπῆρεν ἐκ τῆς Ἰταλίας εἰς τὴν Ἑλλάδα, καὶ διέτριβε τό τε σῶμα γυμνάζων πρὸς τοὺς στρατιωτικοὺς ἀγῶνας καὶ λέγειν μελετῶν.

[Then Antony allied himself for a short time with Clodius, the most audacious and low-lived demagogue of his time, in the violent courses which were convulsing the state; but he soon became sated with that miscreant’s madness, and fearing the party which was forming against him, left Italy for Greece, where he spent some time in military exercises and the study of oratory.]

As Pelling (1988: 119) notes, τῇ … φορᾷ … προσέμιξεν ἑαυτόν, which literally means ‘mingled himself in with the (destructive) impulses of Clodius’ is a ‘very striking phrase’ — and, with its innuendo of untoward physical intimacy, arguably picks up on intimus (and the following sentence) in Cicero, who was one of Plutarch’s sources. Unlike Plutarch, Cicero does not specify how long Antony and Clodius ‘mingled’, which suggests that Plutarch was right in saying that it was not for long.

qui sua erga me beneficia commemorat: the antecedent of qui is the implied subject of erat (is), so the subject of the relative clause is Antony as well (not Clodius). Cicero here returns to one of his sorest points: Antony’s accusation of ingratitude in the speech that triggered Philippic 2. The basis for this claim was an episode in 48 BCE, when Antony was Caesar’s Master of the Horse, which included responsibility for keeping followers of Pompey out of Italy. After Pharsalus, Cicero just wanted to go home and managed to receive permission from Caesar, perhaps facilitated by his son-in-law Dolabella — but only as far as Brindisi in Southern Italy where he spent several miserable months under the jurisdiction of Antony. He lets rip on the situation early on in the speech, disputing that not having been killed by a bandit should count as a kindness (beneficium): ‘what kind of benefaction is it to abstain from an atrocious crime?’ (§ 5: Quale autem beneficium est quod te abstinueris nefario scelere?). In §§ 59–60, he returns to the issue in a similar vein. Still, that he should be beholden to Antony in this moment of extreme vulnerability must have festered with Cicero: see Wistrand (1978: 49, n. 6): ‘It was also an awkward question whether Cicero owed Antony gratitude for sparing his life at Brundisium, cf. Dio 46,22,5. The answer that Cicero gives (Phil. 2,3,5f. and 2,24,59f.) is ambiguous. He maintains that he had been grateful, but declares on the other hand that Antony’s mercy — like the mercy Caesar had shown — had been a beneficium latronum’. In § 48 Cicero tries to counterbalance any favours received against the most vicious blow to his self(-esteem) and his career, his banishment from Rome in 58 BCE, which Clodius engineered. Anyone on intimate terms with the mastermind of his exile, so Cicero here asserts, has by definition forfeited any claim to a superior position in the economy of favours and services.

eius omnium incendiorum fax [erat], cuius etiam domi iam tum quiddam molitus est: the main verb (erat) needs to be supplied. fax stands in predicative position to the implied subject (Antony): ‘he was the firebrand of all the conflagrations of him’. eius refers to Clodius and is the antecedent of the relative pronoun cuius, a possessive genitive dependent on the locative domi: ‘… of him in whose house he [sc. Antony] … put into motion a humpin’ sumpin’’.

eius omnium incendiorum faxfax, literally ‘torch’ or ‘firebrand’, also has a figurative sense, denoting ‘a person or thing that starts mischief, rouses passions, enthusiasm, etc.’ (OLD s.v. 8). incendium can similarly be used figuratively, to refer to outbreaks of (political) violence: see OLD s.v. 3. Cicero developed a wide-ranging idiom of abuse to target Clodius as a scourge of Rome, ‘firebrand’ being one of his favourites. Here Antony becomes the catalyst, the initial spark that caused all of Clodius’ ‘conflagrations’. fax comes with connotations of revolutionary chaos that destroys the city (and, on the conceit that Rome is coextensive with the world, the universe at large). Given the real threat of large-scale fires in urban centres, it is a metaphor with a particularly visceral punch, tapping into darkest fears. Cicero here contrives to make Antony responsible for unleashing Clodius on Roman society, simply on the grounds that he could be found in his entourage while Clodius held the office of tribune in 58 BCE (the year Cicero was forced into exile). The incendia Cicero refers to here thus surely include that of his house, stormed, looted, and burnt to the ground by Clodius’ troopers once he had left the city.

cuius etiam domi iam tum quiddam molitus est: Cicero is back to his game of sexual double entendres via vague, yet pregnant, neuter pronouns: quiddam molitus est (‘he put something in motion’) refers to adultery with Clodius’ wife Fulvia. Fulvia (c. 80–40 BCE) had, as Cicero spitefully put it, a ‘triumvirate’ of husbands: Clodius (sometime before 58–52 BCE, when Clodius was killed in a street fight; Scribonius Curio (yes, none other than Antony’s buddy from the previous paragraphs) from 51 until Curio’s death in 49 BCE; and finally Antony, whom she married in 46 BCE. With iam tum (‘already back then’) Cicero nastily implies that Antony jumped the queue: instead of waiting his turn, he had it on with Fulvia already in 58.

Extra information:

If you want to learn more about Fulvia, who by all accounts must have been an extraordinary woman, start with Ann R. Raia’s & Judith Lynn Sebesta’s entry on Fulvia in Philippic 2 in their Online Companion to the Worlds of Roman Womenhttps://www2.cnr.edu/home/sas/araia/Fulvia.html. See also Babcock (1965) and Hallett (2015). Brennan (2012: 357) suggests that the funeral Fulvia staged after the death of Clodius inspired Antony’s approach to the funeral of Caesar: ‘After Clodius met a violent death at the hands of his political rival Milo in 52 BCE, Fulvia stage-managed his funeral in a manner that would be remembered and revisited in years to come. Fulvia’s success at whipping Rome’s populace into a frenzy — so much so that they carried her husband’s corpse into the Senate house and burned it down as a pyre — was not lost on Mark Antony after Caesar’s assassination in 44 BCE’.

quid dicam ipse optime intellegitquid dicam is an indirect question, hence the subjunctive. Cicero again refrains from spelling matters out, preferring to deal in dark hints; and Antony as the culprit is of course supposed to be in the know.

inde iter Alexandriam [fecit] contra senatus auctoritatem, contra rem publicam et religiones: the main verb of the sentence is again elided but easily supplied from context; iter is a verbal noun implying movement (Pinkster 2015: 1043) and governs the accusative of direction Alexandriam. Cicero operates in fast-forward mode, skipping over details in Antony’s biography, such as rhetorical studies in Greece and (distinguished) military service with Gabinius in Syria (58–56), which yield no invective returns. Instead he homes in on an event in 55 that enables him to portray Antony as acting against the interests of the commonwealth and violate principles of Rome’s civic religion.

The point at issue was the succession to the throne of Egypt. In 58, king Ptolemy XII Auletes (the father of Cleopatra VII, Antony’s future lover), who had bought his way to the kingdom of Egypt during Caesar’s consulship in 59, got kicked out of the country by the people and went to Rome to bribe himself back onto the throne. Many members of Rome’s ruling elite licked their chops at the prospect of restoring him to power — cashing in on his bribes and acquiring military glory in the process. In late 57, the senate initially decided to entrust the task to Publius Lentulus Spinther, the governor-elect of Cilicia, but in January 56 a prophetic utterance was discovered in Rome’s collection of Sibylline oracles that threw a wrench in the works: it predicted danger for the commonwealth should the restoration happen by violent means. The senate thereupon cancelled its earlier decree. After much inconclusive manoeuvring, Gabinius, to whom Ptolemy had turned for help as a Roman proconsul in the area with a well-trained fighting force at hand, went all Nike and just did it in 55. According to Plutarch, a decisive voice in convincing the hesitant proconsul to grab the opportunity even without any official endorsement from the senate was Antony (Life of Antony 3): ‘After this, Ptolemy tried to persuade Gabinius by a bribe of ten thousand talents to join him in an invasion of Egypt and recover the kingdom for him. But the greater part of the officers were opposed to the plan, and Gabinius himself felt a certain dread of the war, although he was completely captivated by the ten thousand talents. Antony, however, who was ambitious of great exploits and eager to gratify the request of Ptolemy, joined the king in persuading and inciting Gabinius to the expedition’.

The affair was hardly a decade old, and Cicero could limit himself to the barest allusion (Alexandriam). To what extent Antony’s alleged involvement would have been common knowledge is another question. But he was part of the campaign, which sufficed Cicero to single out three forms of defiance in an unbalanced tricolon, around the anaphora of contra: against the authority of the senate (senatus auctoritas); against the commonwealth (res publica); and against the protocols that regulated Rome’s interaction with the divine sphere (religiones).

senatus auctoritatemsenatus is genitive singular.

sed habebat ducem Gabinium, quicum quidvis rectissime facere posset: the antecedent of quicum (the relative pronoun in the ablative + the preposition cum here used as a postpositive enclitic) is Gabinium. Antony is the subject of habebat and posset (a consecutive subjunctive). The pronoun quidvis, the accusative object of facere, means, literally, ‘anything you want’ (from quid + vis — from volo). The sentence drips with irony, not least in light of the fact that the affair had nasty repercussions for Gabinius, who was put on trial on the triple charge of (amaiestas (high treason) for leaving his province without senatorial approval and in defiance of the Sibylline Oracles; (brepetundae (extortion of money, including the bribe he had accepted from Ptolemy); (cambitus (illegal means of canvassing for the consulship). The third charge was eventually dropped; of the first he was acquitted; but, despite Cicero’s (!) defence (yes, Pompey, an ally of Gabinius, had ways and means of twisting our orator’s arms at the time), he was found guilty of extortion and had to go into exile.

rectissime: Mayor (1861: 98) deftly glosses the deeply ironic superlative as ‘without the least risk of being called to account’.

qui tum inde reditus [erat] aut qualis? prius in ultimam Galliam ex Aegypto [iit] quam domum [rediit]: the repetition of inde, the renewed suppression of the verb, and the rhetorical question combine to convey an impression of haste: Cicero is speeding through Antony’s biography — just as Antony is speeding across the Near East and Western Europe. Both qui and qualis are interrogative adjectives modifying reditus — a construction difficult to replicate in English: ‘And then what next (tum inde)? His homecoming — what was it like?’ Cicero answers his own question, again in staccato form with the verbs elided. After his successful Egyptian venture, Antony, in 54, went to join Caesar on his campaign in Gaul before returning to Rome.

in ultimam Galliam: ‘to furthest Gaul’ — rather accurate, while also conveniently extreme: in 54 BCE Caesar had to contend with an uprising of the Belgian chieftain Ambiorix.

quae autem domus [erat]?: as Mayor (1861: 99) notes, the autem here has a corrective force: Cicero finished the previous sentence with the idiomatic expression domum redire (‘to return home’), in which domum figures generically to indicate a place rather than a specific property. Cicero now builds on this, asking, ‘Actually, what was that home you returned to anyway?’

suam enim quisque domum tum obtinebat nec erat usquam tua [sc. domus]: the answer to his own rhetorical question revolves around a temporal watershed signaled by the adverb tum: back in the 50s, i.e. before the property confiscations and redistributions that happened in the wake of the civil war that broke out in 49, of which Antony was a major beneficiary, acquiring the former property of Pompey the Great (see §§ 62, 64, 103 and above 150–51), each person (quisque) had their own house (suam… domum) — and yours, Antony (a sudden shift from third to second person), did not exist (nec erat usquam tua).

domum dico? quid erat in terris ubi in tuo pedem poneres praeter unum Misenum, quod cum sociis tamquam Sisaponem tenebas?: Cicero has one more go: ‘Do I keep saying “home”?’, now extending his frame of reference from Rome to elsewhere in Italy or indeed the entire world (in terris). Apparently, in the wake of his father’s bankruptcy, Antony’s family lost all of its property, except a place at Misenum, a promontory in Campania, which he owned jointly with others. In a society in which the aristocratic domus constituted an important symbol of social status and family lineage, the lack of a family home renders Antony unfit for public service: ‘Of course, still today the size and elegance of a house are thought to symbolize status, but the nature of Roman public life dictated that the domus be of markedly greater importance, as implied by some malicious remarks about Roman leaders. Among other things for which Antony is ridiculed in the Second Philippic, Cicero includes the fact that Antony had no domus of his own even before Caesar’s confiscations, when nearly everyone had his own house’. 

ubi in tuo [fundo / praedio] pedem poneres: after in tuo, one could supply a noun such as fundus (‘country estate’) or praedium (‘landed property’, ‘estate’), but in many ways the bare neuter pronoun is the more attractive option: ‘Could you set your foot on any place on earth you could call yours…?’ The alliteration pedem poneres is onomatopoetic, the subjunctive potential.

MisenumMisenum, the antecedent of quod, should here be understood in the sense of villam Misenensem: see Shackleton Bailey (1986: 63, n. 46). He explains: ‘If Misenum had been a town in its own right an adjectival form would have been used’.

tamquam SisaponemSisaponem stands in apposition to quod: ‘which you own jointly with partners in the same way (tamquam) as Sisapo [sc. is owned]. The reference is to a place in Spain (Hispania Baetica) where cinnabar (vermilion) was mined. The mines were in the possession of a corporation, so no individual was an exclusive owner. Lacy (1986: 193) detects various overtones: the place was a complete backwater in the middle of nowhere, notoriously difficult to reach; the association is of ‘the common dosshouse of a group of partners, not a family home with gods’; and ‘cinnabar dealers were notorious cheats’. And at any rate, what is quite all right in the case of mines (co-ownership) is a disgrace in the case of private property. As Denniston (1926: 128) suggests, we may conjecture that ‘Antony had made over a portion of his property at Misenum, or conceded certain rights over it, to his creditors; and that consequently he was a mere partner in his own property’. In addition, the reference to Spain completes Cicero’s geopolitical sweep, from the farthest East and South (Egypt) to the farthest North (Belgium) to the farthest West (Spain). In the 50s, Antony is adrift in the world, a notional exile, without any place in Rome and hardly a foothold in Italy — precisely what Cicero would like him to become again.

interior interiōris: inner, interior, middle; more intimate, closer (of friends etc)

tribūnātus –ūs m.: the office of a tribune, tribuneship

Clōdius –iī m.: Clodius

ergā: towards, opposite (friendly)

commemorō commemorāre commemorāvī commemorātus: to recall (to self/other); keep in mind, remember; mention/relate; place on record

incendium incendi(ī) n.: fire, conflagration; fiery heat; fiery passion/love/hostility; arson (Latham); incendiary missile; meteor; P:flames (pl.) [annonae ~ => high price of grain]

mōlior mōlīrī mōlītus: to work at, devise

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

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

Gabīnius –iī m.: Gabinius

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

reditus reditūs m.: return, revenue

Gallia Galliae f.: Gaul

Aegyptos (–tus) –ī f.: Egypt

obtineō obtinēre obtinuī obtentus: to get hold of; maintain; obtain; hold fast, occupy, posess; prevail

usquam: anywhere

Mīsēnum –ī n.: Misenum, a promontory, town, and harbor at north end of the Bay of Naples

Sisapō, -ōnis f.Sisapo, a town in Hispania Baetica

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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.