Itaque nōn sum praedicātūrus, quantās ille rēs domī mīlitiae, terrā marīque, quantāque fēlīcitāte gesserit; ut eius semper voluntātibus nōn modo cīvēs adsēnserint, sociī obtemperārint, hostēs oboedierint, sed etiam ventī tempestātēsque obsecundārint: hoc brevissimē dīcam, nēminem umquam tam impudentem fuisse, quī ab dīs immortālibus tot et tantās rēs tacitus audēret optāre, quot et quantās dī immortālēs ad Cn. Pompēium dētulērunt. Quod ut illī proprium ac perpetuum sit, Quirītēs, cum commūnis salūtis atque imperī, tum ipsīus hominis causā, sīcutī facitis, velle et optāre dēbētis.

    48: The darling of the gods

    Cicero continues using praeteritio to deal with Pompey’s apparent power over fortune, with even nature doing his bidding...[full essay]

    Study Questions:

    • non sum praedicaturus... – What is the technical term for this literary technique, and what is the effect of employing it here?
    • Parse domi militiae and terra marique.
    • Identify and explain the mood of gesserit.
    • Parse obtemperarint and obsecundarint.
    • Identify and explain the mood of auderet.
    • How does quod ut illi proprium ac perpetuum sit fit into the syntax of the sentence?

    Stylistic Appreciation:

    Explore the ways in which Cicero hints at a quasi-divine status for Pompey without actually turning him into a god.

    Discussion Point:

    What relationship between Pompey and the gods does Cicero posit in this paragraph?

    itaque non sum praedicaturus, quantas ille res domi militiae, terra marique, quantaque felicitate gesserit, ut eius semper voluntatibus non modo cives adsenserint, socii obtemperarint, hostes oboedierint, sed etiam venti tempestatesque obsecundarint: the main verb, non sum praedicaturus, governs the indirect question quantas ... gesserit (hence the subjunctive). quantas and quanta set up the consecutive ut-clause that concludes the sentence. Cicero enumerates four different entities who comply with Pompey’s wishes. They are arranged climactically: we start with Roman citizens (cives), move on to allies (socii), which are followed, surprisingly, by enemies (hostes), and conclude hyperbolically with forces of nature (venti tempestatesque). Cicero enhances the effect by how he places non modo (followed by a tricolon of simple subject + verb phrases) and sed etiam (the last, climactic item and the only one that features two subjects – venti tempestatesque). eius ... voluntatibus and semper go with all four verbs.

    itaque non sum praedicaturus: stating that one will not talk about something while doing so is called praeteritio – the rhetorical equivalent of having your cake and eating it.

    quantas ille res domi militiae, terra marique, quantaque felicitate gesserit: quantas is an interrogative adjective agreeing with res, the accusative object of gesserit. Between accusative object, subject (ille) and verb, Cicero places a tricolon of ablative phrases: the first two (domi militae; terra marique) are locatives; the third, quanta felicitate, is an ablative of means. The arrangement is climactic: Cicero moves from ‘bipolar’ mapping of geography, which includes consideration of both social (domi militiae) and physical (terra marique) space to the abstract quality of felicitas. The -que after quanta links terra marique and quanta felicitate.

    domi militiae, terra marique: all four nouns are in the locative case. domi militiae refers to the Roman practice of dividing the world into a (demilitarized) zone of peace (domi) and a zone of (potential) warfare (militiae). Initially, the sacred boundary of the city of Rome, the pomerium, demarcated the two spheres. (The only occasion when an imperator with his soldiers was allowed to cross the pomerium was the triumph: in the course of the ritual, the general and his army would follow a prescribed route through the city to the Capitol, where he would sacrifice to Jupiter Optimus Maximus and lay down his imperium.)

    obtemperarint: the syncopated form of obtempera-ve-rint.

    venti tempestatesque obsecundarint: contrast § 40, where Cicero discusses the reasons for Pompey’s seemingly special speed of movement: he disclaims the help of the winds as well as other external factors and, with deliberate bathos, grounds Pompey’s velocity instead in his outstanding character.

    obsecundarint: the syncopated form of obsecunda-ve-rint.

    hoc brevissime dicam, neminem umquam tam impudentem fuisse, qui ab dis immortalibus tot et tantas res tacitus auderet optare, quot et quantas di immortales ad Cn. Pompeium detulerunt: after saying in praeteritio what he had allegedly no intention of saying, Cicero continues with what he will say – if very briefly (brevissime). dicam introduces an indirect statement with neminem as subject accusative and fuisse as infinitive, with tam impudentem in predicative position. tam sets up a relative clause of characteristics (hence the subjunctive of auderet).

    hoc brevissime dicam, neminem umquam tam impudentem fuisse: Latin authors frequently add a demonstrative pronoun to verbs of thinking and stating that introduce an accusative + infinitive construction to give special emphasis to the indirect statement: ‘This I shall say, however briefly, namely that nobody...’ The demonstrative pronoun is particularly pronounced here, coming as it does after a praeteritio: ‘I won’t be commenting on x; but this I will say...’

    quod ut illi proprium ac perpetuum sit, Quirites, cum communis salutis atque imperii, tum ipsius hominis causa, sicuti facitis, velle et optare debetis.: quod is a connecting relative (= et id), referring back to Pompey’s unparalleled felicitas. It is the subject of the nominal ut-clause dependent on (velle et) optare debetis; proprium ac perpetuum agree with quod in predicative position.

    cum communis salutis atque imperii, tum ipsius hominis causa: this is one long prepositional phrase dependent on the postpositive preposition causa, which governs the genitives communis salutis atque imperii and ipsius hominis. They are coordinated by cum ... tum. See our commentary on § 31.

    sicuti facitis, velle et optare debetis: Cicero takes the normative sting out of debetis (‘you ought...!’), by claiming that the people do so already anyway: sicuti facitis, namely velle et optare.


    praedicō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [prae + dicō], 1, a. and n.: proclaim, announce; relate, declare openly, assert; praise, boast. ut praedicās, as you assert.

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

    mīlitia, -ae, [mīles], f.: military service, warfare, service, war; by metonymy, soldiery.

    fēlīcitās, -ātis, [fēlīx], f.: good fortune, good luck, success.

    adsentiō, -īre, adsēnsī, adsēnsum, [ad + sentiō], 4, n., also dep., adsentior, -īrī, adsēnsus sum: give assent, approve, agree with, agree to.

    obtemperō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [ob + temperō], 1, n.: comply, conform, submit, obey.

    oboediō, -īre, -īvī, -ītum, [ob + audiō], 4, n.: hearken, listen; give heed to, obey, yield obedience, be subject.

    obsecundō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [ob + secundō], 1, n.: be favorable, comply with, humor, accommodate.

    impudēns, -entis, [in- + pudēns], adj.: without sense of shame, shameless, indecent, impudent.

    immortālis, -e, [in- + mortālis], adj.: undying, immortal; endless, eternal, imperishable.

    quot, indecl. adj.: how many?

    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.

    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.

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    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/48