Quā rē cum et bellum sit ita necessārium, ut neglegī nōn possit, ita māgnum, ut accūrātissimē sit administrandum, et cum eī imperātōrem praeficere possītis, in quō sit eximia bellī scientia, singulāris virtūs, clārissima auctōritās, ēgregia fortūna, dubitātis, Quirītēs, quīn hoc tantum bonī, quod vōbīs ab dīs immortālibus oblātum et datum est, in rem pūblicam conservandam atque amplificandam cōnferātis?
49: Summing up
§ 49 concludes Cicero’s discussion of the war (§§ 6-26) and the choice of general (§§ 27-49)…[full essay]
- What kind of ut-clause are ut neglegi non possit and ut accuratissime sit administrandum?
- Parse ei. What does it refer back to?
- Explain the subjunctive (sit) in the relative clause introduced by in quo.
- What kind of genitive is boni?
What are the rhetorical devices Cicero uses to render his summing-up both clear and memorable?
What relationship does Cicero construe between the gods and the Roman citizens?
Quare cum et bellum sit ita necessarium, ut neglegi non possit, ita magnum, ut accuratissime sit administrandum, et cum ei imperatorem praeficere possitis, in quo sit eximia belli scientia, singularis virtus, clarissima auctoritas, egregia fortuna, dubitatis Quirites, quin hoc tantum boni, quod vobis ab dis immortalibus oblatum et datum est, in rem publicam conservandam atque amplificandam conferatis?: This paragraph consists of one long sentence. It begins with an extensive cum-clause that contains within itself three further subordinate clauses: two ut-clauses and a relative clause (in quo...). The main verb is dubitatis, which sets up the concluding quin-clause, within which we get a further relative clause (quod...).
In the opening cum-clauses (Quare cum... egregia fortuna...) Cicero looks back to the tripartite argument he announced in § 6:
primum mihi videtur de genere belli, deinde de magnitudine, tum de imperatore deligendo esse dicendum.
He reiterated the blueprint at the beginning of the section devoted to the choice of imperator (§ 27):
Satis mihi multa verba fecisse videor, qua re esset hoc bellum genere ipso necessarium, magnitudine periculosum. Restat ut de imperatore ad id bellum deligendo ac tantis rebus praeficiendo dicendum esse videatur.
The design of the cum-clauses in § 49 mirrors the design of § 27: in both cases, Cicero groups together the first two items to do with the war and sets apart the choice of general as the climactic third topic to be treated. The first cum-clause covers the type and magnitude of the war, the second the appointment of the commander-in-chief:
(i) cum et bellum sit ita necessarium,
ut neglegi non possit,
[cum bellum sit] ita magnum,
ut accuratissime sit administrandum, et
(ii) cum ei imperatorem praeficere possitis,
in quo sit eximia belli scientia, singularis virtus, clarissima auctoritas, egregia fortuna...
Cicero enhances the immediacy and vividness of his discourse by shifting from the impersonal passive constructions in the ut-clauses (neglegi non possit; sit administrandum) to a direct address of the audience in (ii): praeficere possitis. This shift generates a chiasmus of sorts: in (i) the verb in the cum-clause is esse, stating a fact, whereas the verbs in the ut-clauses indicate the action to be taken; in (ii) the verb in the cum-clause indicates the action to be taken and the verb in the subsequent relative clause (in quo) is esse, stating a fact.
§ 49 also sums up the section on the perfect general, harking back to § 28 in particular. Compare:
§ 28 (the ideal): Ego enim sic existimo, in summo imperatore quattuor has res inesse oportere: scientiam rei militaris, virtutem, auctoritatem, felicitatem.
§ 49 (its incarnation): imperatorem ..., in quo sit eximia belli scientia, singularis virtus, clarissima auctoritas, egregia fortuna
The following table shows how Cicero reiterates key words in those paragraphs that flag up the structure of his discourse. If § 6 introduces the main themes and functions almost like a table of contents, §§ 27, 28, 49 offer repetitions, variations, and elaborations:
|§ 6||§ 27||§ 28||§ 49|
|The type of war||de genere belli||bellum genere ipso necessarium||bellum sit ita necessarium, ut...|
|Its magnitude||de magnitudine [sc. belli]||[bellum] magnitudine periculosum||[bellum sit] ita magnum, ut...|
|The choice of general||de imperatore deligendo||de imperatore ad id bellum deligendo ac tantis rebus praeficiendo||in summo imperatore quattuor has res inesse oportere: scientiam rei militaris, virtutem, auctoritatem, felicitatem||cum ei imperatorem praeficere possitis, in quo sit eximia belli scientia, virtus, clarissima auctoritas, egregia fortuna|
Note in particular how the notional perfect general of § 28 has become a flesh-and-blood exemplar in § 49 – indeed, how Pompey outdoes the theoretical specimen Cicero delineated in § 28. At the outset, he simply specified the four qualities that ought to be present in the summus imperator; by § 49 we have learned that Pompey possesses these four qualities not only in abundance, but to a unique degree: the four nouns scientia, virtus, auctoritas and felicitas/fortuna recur with reference to Pompey, each preceded by a panegyric attribute: eximia, singularis, clarissima, egregia.
cum et bellum sit ita necessarium, ut neglegi non possit, [sc. bellum sit] ita magnum, ut accuratissime sit administrandum, et cum...: both ut-clauses are consecutive, set up by a preceding ita. The subject throughout (of sit, possit, and sit administrandum) is bellum. The anaphora (ita... ita...), the asyndeton (the two parts of the cum-clause follow on each other without connectives), and the ellipsis of bellum sit before magnum generates a sense of urgency, perhaps even impatience: by now Cicero has set out the indisputable facts of the matter – there is now no reason to hesitate further. Note, though, that Cicero uses connectives to coordinate the two cum-clauses: cum et ... et cum.
et cum ei imperatorem praeficere possitis: the demonstrative pronoun ei (in the neuter dative singular) harks back to bellum. praeficere here takes both an accusative object (imperatorem) and a dative object (ei). The idiom is: ‘to put the accusative in charge of the dative’.
in quo sit eximia belli scientia, singularis virtus, clarissima auctoritas, egregia fortuna: in quo introduces a relative clause of characteristics, hence the subjunctive (sit). By pulling the verb up front, Cicero clears space for the powerful, asyndetic enumeration of the four key qualities of his perfect general, all endowed with an amplifying attribute.
dubitatis, Quirites, quin...: one would expect an infinitive here, rather than a quin-clause (which is the regular construction with negated expressions of doubt).
quin hoc tantum boni, quod vobis ab dis immortalibus oblatum et datum est, in rem publicam conservandam atque amplificandam conferatis?: Cicero here casts his audience as the lucky recipients of divine favour – and challenges them to make the most of the windfall that is Pompey, for the greater good of the commonwealth. There is a notional chain from the gods to the res publica, via Pompey and the Roman citizens: the gods (ab dis immortalibus) gift the citizens (vobis) with Pompey (who hides behind the abstract formulation hoc tantum boni), whom they in turn should not hesitate to utilize for public service (in rem publicam conservandam atque amplificandam). The one who is rhetorically in charge of the sequence di immortales > Pompey > Quirites > res publica is of course Cicero; those who get sidelined in this sequence are all the other members of Rome’s senatorial elite, which was technically in charge of handling all interactions with the divine sphere of political relevance in republican times.
hoc tantum boni: hoc tantum is the subject of the quin-clause and the antecedent of quod. boni is a partitive genitive dependent on tantum: ‘so much of a boon’.
quā rē, adverbial phrase, inter.: by what means? whereby? how? on what account? wherefore? why? rel., wherefore, and for that reason, therefore; by reason of which, so that.
necessārius, -a, -um, [necesse], adj.: unavoidable, inevitable, pressing, needful. As subst., necessārius, -ī, m., kinsman, relative, friend, client.
neglegō -ere, neglēxī, neglēctum, [nec + legō], 3, a.: disregard, neglect, not attend to, not heed, slight; despise, contemn, treat with indifference.
possum, posse, potuī, [potis + sum], irr., n.: be able, can, have power; have influence, avail.
accūrātē, comp. accūrātius, sup. accūrātissimē, [accūrātus, carefully wrought], adv.: carefully, with pains, with painstaking; precisely, exactly.
administrō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [ad + ministrō, from minister], 1, a.: manage, control, handle, administer, regulate; direct, guide, serve.
praeficiō, -ficere, -fēcī, praefectum, [prae + faciō], 3, a.: set over, put in charge; appoint to command, place at the head.
eximius, -a, -um, [eximō, take out], adj.: choice, fine, excellent; uncommon, extraordinary, remarkable.
singulāris, -e, [singulī], adj.: one by one, alone, single, solitary; singular, matchless, extraordinary, unique, remarkable.
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.
tantum [tantus], adv.: so much, so greatly, to such a degree; only so much, only, merely.
immortālis, -e, [in- + mortālis], adj.: undying, immortal; endless, eternal, imperishable.
rēs pūblica, reī pūblicae, f.: see pūblicus.
cōnservō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [com- + servō], 1, a.: preserve, keep safe, keep, maintain, save; keep intact, observe, guard.
amplificō, -āre, -āvī, -ātum, [amplificus, from amplus + faciō], 1, a.: broaden, enlarge, extend; increase, amplify.