Sed praeterita omittāmus: hunc ūnum diem, ūnum, inquam, hodiernum diem, hoc pūnctum temporis, quō loquor, dēfende, sī potes. cūr armātōrum corōnā senātus saeptus est, cūr mē tuī satellitēs cum gladiīs audiunt, cūr valvae Concordiae nōn patent, cūr hominēs omnium gentium maximē barbarōs, Itūraeōs, cum sagittīs dēdūcis in forum? praesidī suī causā sē facere dīcit. nōn igitur mīliēns perīre est melius quam in suā cīvitāte sine armātōrum praesidiō nōn posse vīvere? sed nūllum est istud, mihi crēde, praesidium: cāritāte tē et benevolentiā cīvium saeptum oportet esse, nōn armīs.
The Senate Under Armour
As we are nearing the end of the speech, Cicero once again calls attention to the time and the location of the (imaginary) delivery of the speech — a specific moment on 19 September in the temple of Concordia — before opening up, via a strong rebuke of Antony’s decision to bring along an armed body guard, to discuss the relation between statesmen and the wider civic community, with a special focus on the issue of ‘personal safety’. As far as he is concerned, a politician who inspires hatred within his community has to fear for his life even if he tries to protect himself with the help of armed forces; the only effective source of security is the goodwill of the citizens. The passage therefore prepares the ground for the following paragraphs, where Cicero warns Antony that a tyrannical individual who rules through fear and the threat of violence must in turn fear for his life — since he ought to be killed. At the end of the paragraph Cicero accordingly shifts from a critique of Antony’s past behaviour and remonstrance against his present actions to the possibility of impending retribution. The sketch of a scenario situated in the not-too-distant future coincides with a corresponding change in rhetorical register: invective flak morphs into cautionary counsel as not-so-veiled threat. [study questions]
Sed praeterita omittamus: hunc unum diem, unum, inquam, hodiernum diem, hoc punctum temporis, quo loquor, defende, si potes: the imperative defende takes three all but synonymous accusative objects, arranged asyndetically and climactically and standing in antithesis to praeterita: (i) hunc unum diem; (ii) unum … hodiernum diem; (iii) hoc punctum temporis. In the course of the tricolon Cicero homes in on the (it bears repeating: imaginary) moment of delivery with ever-greater precision.
praeterita: praeteritus is the perfect passive participle of praetereo — ‘to pass by, go past’, here used as a noun (in the neuter accusative plural): ‘the matters that have occurred’ = ‘the past’.
omittamus: exhortative subjunctive: ‘let us disregard past matters’.
inquam: first person singular present indicative active.
hoc punctum temporis, quo loquor: the antecedent of the relative pronoun quo (an ablative of time) is punctum: ‘this moment of time in which I am speaking’.
defende, si potes: a simple condition in the present, though with an imperative defende (rather than an indicative) in the apodosis. Cicero’s tone is challenging and derisive: the idea that Antony can actually defend himself for his current actions is dismissed as laughable even before his transgressions are spelt out.
cur armatorum corona senatus saeptus est, cur me tui satellites cum gladiis audiunt, cur valvae Concordiae non patent, cur homines omnium gentium maxime barbaros, Ituraeos, cum sagittis deducis in forum?: a sequence of four questions all introduced by cur in asyndetic sequence.
cur armatorum corona senatus saeptus est: the basic meaning of corona is ‘wreath’ or ‘crown’ but it was also used to refer to a throng of people surrounding a place. With reference to the civic sphere, this tended to be ‘a circle of bystanders, spectators, or listeners’, around a court of law or the senate; in military matters, it was ‘a ring of soldiers’ surrounding an enemy position. Here Cicero paints the picture of the Roman senate being encircled by a cordon of armed troops instructed to enforce Antony’s whim and will. The sentence features a descending number of syllables: the instrumental ablative phrase armatorum corona (4 + 3) overpowers the subject and verb (assimilated by means of alliteration, homoioteleuton and sound-play) senatus saeptus est (3 + 2 + 1). The theme recurs at the opening of the pseudo-Ciceronian Epistula ad Octauianum, where the anonymous author in the context of a declamatory exercise postures as ‘Cicero’ and uses words and phrases employed by Cicero against Antony to inveigh against Caesar Octavianus: cohortibus armatis circumsaeptus. The first such enclosure of the senate by an armed force occurred in 88 BCE under Sulla (Valerius Maximus 3.8.5).
cur me tui satellites cum gladiis audiunt: a satelles (our English ‘satellite’ comes from it) is someone who (obsequiously) attends a higher ranking person, as bodyguard, escort, or partisan supporter; the word often has derogatory connotations (as here). Cicero likes a crowd, but not if it consists of Antony’s henchmen with their swords (drawn?).
cur valvae Concordiae non patent: already in § 19, Cicero drew attention to the paradox of armed henchmen forming a divisive presence at a senate meeting in the temple of Concordia. Now towards the end of the speech he again gestures to the setting of the senate meeting at which we are to imagine he delivered Philippic 2, i.e. the temple of Concordia. As Clark (1999: 173–74) points out, ‘This “speech” illustrates the potential richness of the temple of Concordia as an ideological location, but it also demonstrates that, had Cicero actually delivered it in Concordia’s temple, as he purported to be doing in the circulated tract, he would in fact have conceded little to Concordia’s presence in terms of the aggressiveness of his speech’. The fact that the temple doors are closed may owe itself to the need to protect the senators from Antony’s supporters, but also signals that under Antony the conduct of civic business, which relies on open spaces and a sense of community, has been severely compromised through the threat of violence — and the absence of concord. The temple of Concordia was also the scene of his zenith speech, the fourth oration against Catiline (see below).
cur homines omnium gentium maxime barbaros, Ituraeos, cum sagittis deducis in forum?: homines omnium gentium maxime barbaros is the elaborate accusative object of deducis: ‘of all foreign peoples the most savage human beings’. omnium gentium is a partitive genitive — indicating the whole of ‘barbaria’ (gentes here = foreign ethnicities) of which the Ituraei form the most savage part. Ituraeos stands in apposition to homines … barbaros. The Ituraeans lived in the Levantine region; some served as archers in the auxiliary forces of the Roman army. See Caesar, Bellum Africum 20.1, Virgil, Georgics 2.448, Lucan 7.230 and 514–15, further Isaac (2017: 144–46).
praesidi sui causa se facere dicit: Cicero imagines an explanatory interjection by Antony, held contemptuously in the third person (sui – se – dicit). The indirect statement governed by dicit features a subject accusative (se) and an infinitive (facere), but lacks a direct object (supply something like hoc). causâ (in the ablative) is as usual placed behind the genitive it governs: ‘for the sake of his protection’.
non igitur miliens perire est melius quam in sua civitate sine armatorum praesidio non posse vivere?: the verb is the copula (non) est with (miliens) melius as predicate: ‘is it not a thousand times better…’ The subjects are the two infinitives perire and non posse + vivere coordinated by quam (following on the comparative melius) ‘to perish than not to be able to live…’
sed nullum est istud, mihi crede, praesidium: caritate te et benevolentia civium saeptum oportet esse, non armis: Cicero now addresses Antony’s justification from a different perspective — what Antony considers a safeguard, he claims, is not one. Instead of arms, Antony should endeavour to be enclosed for his safety by the affection and goodwill of the citizens. The subject of the impersonal verb oportet is the indirect statement te (subject accusative) saeptum esse(infinitive): (for safety) ‘it is necessary that you are surrounded by…’. caritate, benevolentia, and armis are instrumental ablatives. Not coincidentally, Cicero uses the same verb (saepire) to express the idea of a protective wall, which he had used earlier on with reference to Antony’s bodyguard in a threatening sense. A wall of love should replace a wall of arms. Cicero may be alluding contrastively to the Fourth Catilinarian, where he believes himself to be protected by the safest possible wall as long as the people remember his heroic service on behalf of the commonwealth (4.23: … tutissimo me muro saeptum esse arbitror). Put differently, Cicero says: ‘a tyrant should die — and lives dangerously’, irrespective of his armed guards. The idea that the best protection for a ruler is the devotion of his subjects becomes a topic in imperial panegyric. See Seneca, de Clementia 1.19.6 (unum est inexpugnabile munimentum, amor civium — with civium as subjective genitive), Pliny, Panegyricus 49.3 (building on Seneca), Panegyrici Latini 2.47.3–4, 3.24.5 (Arma igitur et iuvenes cum gladiis atque pilis non custodiae corporis sunt, sed quidam imperatoriae maiestatis sollemnis ornatus. quid enim istis opus est, cum firmissimo sis muro civici amoris obsaeptus? — ‘Therefore the weapons and the young men with swords and pikes are not guardians of your body, but a kind of solemn adornment of your imperial majesty. What need is there for these, when you are surrounded by the firmest of walls, the citizens’ love?’), Claudian 8.281–82, 24.221–22. See Nixon and Rodgers (1994: 427).
mihi crede: this colloquial ‘metadirective imperative’ (‘believe me’), designed to reinforce the truth of the utterance (Spevak 2010: 210), does not affect the syntax of the surrounding sentence. It signals Cicero’s shift in focus from past and present to the future, from invective to admonition, which continues in the following paragraph. The word order mihi crede (rather than crede mihi) is noteworthy. See Adams (2016: 204): ‘Imperatives are often placed in the first position and unemphatic pronouns for their part do not as a rule come in first position. The order mihi crede is thus abnormal on two counts, and cannot but have given special emphasis to the personal pronoun. Crede mihi was more self-effacing than the reverse order, and it would only have been a person of marked self-esteem who would regularly have written mihi crede’. Cicero does so several times in short order: see also § 113, § 116, and § 118.
praeteritus –a –um: past
omittō omittere omīsī omissus: to lay aside; omit; let go; disregard
hodiernus –a –um: of today, today's
punctum –ī n.: point, moment, instant; vote
armātī –ōrum m.: armed men, warriors (> armo)
corōna corōnae f.: garland; crown, wreath; a circle of spectators
saepiō –īre saepsī saeptus: to fence in; inclose, surround; envelop (> saepes, inclosure)
satelles satellitis m.: escort, accomplice; follower, henchman
valvae ārum f.: the folding–door
concordia concordiae f.: concurrence, mutual agreement, harmony, peace; rapport, amity, concord, union; friend
barbarus –a –um: foreign, barbarous, savage
Itūraeī -ōrum: of Iturea
sagitta sagittae f.: arrow
mīliēs: 1000 times
istic istaec istoc: that of yours/mentioned by you/at hand
cāritās cāritātis f.: dearness, affection
benevolentia benevolentiae f.: goodwill, benevolence