Age vērō illa rēs quantam dēclārat eiusdem hominis apud hostēs populī Rōmānī auctōritātem, quod ex locīs tam longinquīs tamque dīversīs tam brevī tempore omnēs huic sē ūnī dēdidērunt! quod Crētēnsium lēgātī, cum in eōrum īnsulā noster imperātor exercitusque esset, ad Cn. Pompēium in ultimās prope terrās vēnērunt eīque sē omnēs Crētēnsium cīvitātēs dēdere velle dīxērunt! Quid? Īdem iste Mithridātēs nōnne ad eundem Cn. Pompēium lēgātum ūsque in Hispāniam mīsit? eum, quem Pompēius lēgātum semper iūdicāvit, eī, quibus erat molestum ad eum potissimum esse missum, speculātōrem quam lēgātum iūdicārī maluērunt. Potestis igitur iam cōnstituere, Quirītēs, hanc auctōritātem, multīs posteā rēbus gestīs māgnīsque vestrīs iūdiciīs amplificātam, quantum apud illōs rēgēs, quantum apud exterās nātiōnēs valitūram esse exīstimētis.

    46: Auctoritas supreme

    Cicero now sums up his discussion of auctoritas, using some of the same pieces of evidence he mustered to illustrate Pompey’s virtus...[full essay]

    Study Questions:

    • What word does quantam agree with?
    • Parse communi and legati.
    • Who is the noster imperator?
    • Which words does the -que after ei connect?
    • Parse ei.
    • Explain the syntax of se and omnes ... civitates.
    • Identify the subject accusative and the infinitive of the indirect statement dependent on existimetis.

    Stylistic Appreciation:

    What are the stylistic devices Cicero uses to highlight Pompey’s auctoritas?

    Discussion Point:

    If you were a member of one of Rome’s established senatorial families, how would you react to Cicero’s rhetoric in this paragraph?

    Age vero illa res quantam declarat eiusdem hominis apud hostes populi Romani auctoritatem, quod ex locis tam longinquis tamque diversis tam brevi tempore omnes huic se uni dediderunt: the subject of the sentence is the vague illa res (‘that matter’); Cicero explicates what ‘that matter’ is in the quod-clause (‘namely that...’). The main verb is declarat, which takes quantam ... auctoritatem as accusative object: the hyperbaton is massive! The genitive eiusdem hominis (of course referring to Pompey) depends on auctoritatem.

    age vero: the opening age vero is a transitional phrase, with age, the second person singular imperative active of ago, not impacting on the syntax of the sentence. Cicero already used this transition in § 40 (see above).

    ex locis tam longinquis tamque diversis tam brevi tempore: Cicero here merges a prepositional phrase (ex ... diversis) to do with geography and an ablative of time (tam brevi tempore) into a tricolon of sorts by means of the three adjectives (agreeing with two nouns), which are further emphasized by the triple anaphora of tam. The -que after the second tam links longinquis and diversis, the two attributes of locis. The phrasing asserts a control over space and time perfectly suited to Rome’s imperial needs.

    omnes huic se uni dediderunt: omnes is the subject, the reflexive pronoun se the accusative object of dediderunt. Interspersed between is the dative huic ... uni: ‘to him alone’.

    quod a communi Cretensium legati, cum in eorum insula noster imperator exercitusque esset, ad Cn. Pompeium in ultimas prope terras venerunt eique se omnes Cretensium civitates dedere velle dixerunt!: This quod-clause too stands in apposition to illa res at the beginning of the paragraph. The subject is legati, the verbs are venerunt and dixerunt, linked by the -que after ei. Cicero here refers to the fact that the Cretans preferred to send legates after Pompey who was in Pamphylia at the time instead of turning to the Roman general in command of the army on their island (noster imperator is Quintus Metellus). He makes it out that the reason was Pompey’s auctoritas. The truth of the matter is more complex: Pompey offered more favourable terms of peace, in part because he did not fancy prolonged fighting on the island. See further § 35.

    a communi Cretensium: communi is the ablative singular of the neuter noun commune.

    cum in eorum insula noster imperator exercitusque esset: the cum has concessive force: ‘even though’.

    eique se omnes Cretensium civitates dedere velle dixerunt: the subject continues to be legati, the verb is dixerunt. It introduces an indirect statement with omnes ... civitates as subject accusative and velle as infinitive. dedere is a supplementary infinitive with velle, which takes the reflexive pronoun se as accusative object and ei (i.e. Pompey) as dative object: they want to hand over themselves (se) to him (ei).

    Quid? idem iste Mithridates nonne ad eundem Cn. Pompeium legatum usque in Hispaniam misit?: In 75 BC, Pompey was in Spain fighting against Sertorius (see above § 28). Mithridates reached out to Sertorius as a potential ally in his fight against Rome. See Plutarch, Life of Sertorius 23:

    His negotiations with king Mithridates further argue the greatness of his mind. For when Mithridates, recovering himself from his overthrow by Sulla, like a strong wrestler that gets up to try another fall, was again endeavouring to reestablish his power in Asia, at this time the great fame of Sertorius was celebrated in all places and when the merchants who came out of the western parts of Europe, bringing these, as it were, among their other foreign wares, had filled the kingdom of Pontus with their stories of his exploits in war, Mithridates was extremely desirous to send an embassy to him, being also highly encouraged to it by the boastings of his flattering courtiers, who, comparing Mithridates to Pyrrhus, and Sertorius to Hannibal, professed that the Romans would never be able to make any considerable resistance against such great forces, and such admirable commanders, when they should be set upon on both sides at once, on one by the most warlike general, and on the other by the most powerful prince in existence. Accordingly, Mithridates sends ambassadors into Spain to Sertorius with letters and instructions, and commission to promise ships and money towards the charge of the war, if Sertorius would confirm his pretensions upon Asia, and authorize him to possess all that he had surrendered to the Romans in his treaty with Sulla. Sertorius summoned a full council which he called a senate, where, when others joyfully approved of the conditions, and were desirous immediately to accept his offer, seeing that he desired nothing of them but a name, and an empty title to places not in their power to dispose of in recompense of which they should be supplied with what they then stood most in need of Sertorius would by no means agree to it; declaring that he was willing that king Mithridates should exercise all royal power and authority over Bithynia and Cappadocia, countries accustomed to a monarchical government, and not belonging to Rome, but he could never consent that he should seize or detain a province, which, by the justest right and title, was possessed by the Romans, which Mithridates had formerly taken away from them, and had afterwards lost in open war to Fimbria, and quitted upon a treaty of peace with Sulla. For he looked upon it as his duty to enlarge the Roman possessions by his conquering arms, and not to increase his own power by the diminution of the Roman territories.

    idem iste Mithridates: the very Mithridates that the lex Manilia is about.

    nonne: the interrogative particle introduces a question expecting an answer in the affirmative.

    eum quem Pompeius legatum semper iudicavit, ii quibus erat molestum ad eum potissimum esse missum, speculatorem quam legatum iudicari maluerunt: the subject is ii, the verb maluerunt; it introduces an indirect statement with eum as subject accusative and iudicari as infinitive; speculatorem quam legatum modify eum in predicative position: ‘... that he is considered a spy rather than an ambassador’. The sentence confirms that someone from Mithridates made it to Pompey in Spain, but also that there was considerable controversy about the status of this person. Pompey claimed that the individual in question was an official ambassador tasked specifically with seeking out Pompey. Others, who found this a self-aggrandizing claim, argued that the person had no official diplomatic brief whatsoever and was rather a spy (speculatorem). But the whole sentence is odd and does not fit particularly well into Cicero’s discourse at this point: it reminds everyone that within the ruling elite Pompey’s achievements and self-promotion were highly controversial, whatever their popularity among the populace. Why should Cicero draw attention to this fact here? One could therefore consider bracketing the sentence as a marginal gloss on legatum in the previous sentence that then got included in the body of the text.

    ii quibus erat molestum ad eum potissimum esse missum: ii is the antecedent of the relative pronoun quibus (in the dative following molestum: ‘to whom it was irksome...’). It is unclear to whom Cicero is referring (as in the previous sentence he refrains from naming Pompey’s rivals), but it is not unreasonable to suppose that the consul in charge of operations in Spain, Q. Metellus Pius, was one of them. erat molestum governs an indirect statement with the subject accusative (eum = the person sent by Mithridates) suppressed and esse missum as (perfect passive) infinitive.

    ad eum: sc. Pompey.

    potissimum: potissimum is an adverb (even though it may look as if it agrees with ad eum) and underscores the notion that Mithridates’ man sought out Pompey, who only had the rank of quaestor at the time, above all others – including much higher-ranking officers, such as Quintus Metellus Pius, the consul of 80 BC, and in overall charge of the war against Sertorius until Pompey appeared on the scene.

    Potestis igitur iam constituere, Quirites, hanc auctoritatem, multis postea rebus gestis magnisque vestris iudiciis amplificatam, quantum apud illos reges, quantum apud exteras nationes valituram esse existimetis.: constituere sets up two indirect questions both introduced by quantum in asyndetic sequence. The verb of both quantum-clauses is existimetis, which governs an indirect statement with hanc auctoritatem as subject accusative and valituram esse as infinitive. For emphasis, Cicero pulls hanc auctoritatem out of the clauses into which it belongs and places it up front, right after the address to the citizens, an effect further enhanced by the participle phrase multis postea rebus gestis magnisque vestris iudiciis amplificatam. To appreciate the emphasis, economy, and elegance achieved by Cicero’s word order, it may help to write out the sentence in the painful prolixity that would result if one were to restore normal word order and avoid all ellipses:

    • potestis igitur iam constituere, Quirites,
    • quantum hanc auctoritatem, multis postea rebus gestis magnisque vestris iudiciis amplificatam, apud illos reges valituram esse existimetis,
    • quantum hanc auctoritatem [multis postea rebus gestis magnisque vestris iudiciis amplificatam] apud exteras nationes valituram esse existimetis.

    The placement of hanc auctoritatem and the two indirect questions introduced by quantum recall the hyperbaton quantam ... auctoritatem at the beginning of the paragraph.

    multis postea rebus gestis magnisque vestris iudiciis amplificatam: Cicero here specifies Pompey’s deeds (res gestae) and the perceptive decisions and evaluations about him made by the Roman people (vestra iudicia), which resulted in the election of Pompey to honores (‘public offices’), as the two sources that have jointly enhanced Pompey’s auctoritas. The two iudicia that stand out are Pompey’s election to the consulship of 70 BC and his appointment to fight the pirates under the lex Gabinia in 68 BC. The sentence looks back to § 43: see our commentary there. It neatly encapsulates Cicero’s attempt to weld together the past deeds of an individual and their public recognition by means of constitutional procedures (which are vested in the people) in his notion of auctoritas, thereby uniting Pompey and the populus.

    apud illos reges: Cicero refers back to Mithridates and Tigranes, whom he mentioned by name in § 45.

    valituram esse: valituram is the future active participle in the feminine accusative singular (agreeing with auctoritatem) of valeo.


    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?

    quantus, -a, -um, adj., inter.: how great? how much? rel., as great as, as much as. tantus — quantus, as great as, as much as.

    dēclārō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [dē + clārō], 1, a.: make clear, disclose; show, prove; declare, proclaim, announce.

    Rōmānus, -a, -um, [Rōma], adj.: of Rome, Roman, Latin. As subst., Rōmānus, -ī, m., Roman.

    quod [acc. neut. of quī], conj.: that, in that, the fact that; because, since, inasmuch as; in view of the fact that, as regards the fact that, wherein; so far as, to the extent that.

    longinquus, -a, -um, [longus], adj.: far removed, remote, distant; prolonged, lasting. As subst., longīnqua, -ōrum, n., pl., far-off events, remote events. Imp. P. xii.

    tempus, -oris, n.: period of time, time, season, point of time; right time, opportunity, occasion; condition, times, circumstances; time of need, exigency, emergency, id temporis, at that time. ex tempore, off hand, without preparation.

    dēdō, -dere, -didī, -ditum, [dē + dō], 3, a.: give up, surrender, yield, deliver up; devote, consign, submit, abandon.

    commūnis, -e, [com-, mūnus], adj.: common, in common; general, public; of manners, affable, courteous.

    Crētēnsis, -e, [Crēta], adj.: of Crete, Cretan. As subst., Crētēnsēs. -ium, m., pl., the inhabitants of Crete, the Cretans.

    Gnaeus, -ī, abbreviated Cn., m.: Gnaeus, a Roman forename.

    Pompēius, -a: name of a plebeian gens. The most distinguished person bearing the name was Cn. Pompēius Māgnus, born Sept. 30, B.C. 106. He was victorious over the pirates and over Mithridates, was a member of the first triumvirate, and was killed in Egypt, whither he had fled for refuge, after the battle of Pharsalia, Sept. 29, B.C. 48.

    veniō, -īre, vēnī, ventum, 4, n.: come; come into, enter; approach; spring; result, occur.

    Mithridātēs, -is, [= Μιθριδάτης, name of Persian origin, = given to Mithras, gift to the Sun], m.: Mithridātēs, name of several kings of Pontus, of whom the best known is Mithridātēs Eupatōr, also called the Great. He waged war with Rome for many years. He committed suicide, B.C. 63. Imp. P. viii. et al.

    nōnne [nōn + -ne], inter, adv.: expecting an affirmative answer, in a dir. question, not; in an indir. question, if not, whether not.

    Hispānia, -ae, f.: Spain.

    molestus, -a, -um, [mōlēs], adj.: troublesome, annoying, irksome, grievous. quibus erat molestum, who were annoyed.

    potius [potis], adv., comp.: rather, more.

    speculātor, -ōris, [speculor], m.: spy, scout, explorer.

    possum, posse, potuī, [potis + sum], irr., n.: be able, can, have power; have influence, avail.

    Quirītēs, -ium, [Curēs, an ancient town of the Sabines], m., pl.: originally people of Cures; after the union of the Sabines with the Romans, Roman citizens, Quirītēs; sometimes in sing., Quirīs, -ītis, a Roman citizen, Quirite.

    amplificō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [amplificus, from amplus + faciō], 1, a.: broaden, enlarge, extend; increase, amplify.

    nātiō, -ōnis, [nāscor, nātus], f.: birth; breed, stock, kind; nation, people.

    Text Read Aloud
    article Nav

    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.https://dcc.dickinson.edu/cicero-de-imperio/46