of his life, the death of Tullia, his beloved daughter. He shortly afterwards divorced Publilia, who had been jealous of Tullia’s influence and proved unsympathetic. To solace his troubles he devoted himself wholly to literature. To this period belong several famous rhetorical and philosophical works, the Brutus, Orator, Partitiones Oratoriae, Paradoxa, Academica, de Finibus, Tusculan Disputations, together with other works now lost, such as his Laus Catonis, Consolatio and Hortensius.
His repose was broken by Caesar’s murder on the 15th of March 44, to which he was not a party. On the 17th of March he delivered a speech in the senate urging a general amnesty like that declared in Athens after the expulsion of the Thirty Tyrants. When it became apparent that the conspirators had only removed the despot and left the despotism, he again devoted himself to philosophy, and in an incredibly short space of time produced the de Nature Deorum, de Divinatione, de Fato, Cato maior (or de Senectute), Laelius (or de Amicitia), and began his treatise de Officiis. To this period also belongs his lost work de Gloria. He then projected a journey to Greece in order to see his son Marcus, then studying at Athens, of whose behaviour he heard unfavourable reports. He reached Syracuse on the 1st of August, having during the voyage written from memory a translation of Aristotle’s Topica. He was driven back by unfavourable winds to Leucopetra, and then, hearing better news, returned to Rome on the 21st of August. He was bitterly attacked by Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) in the senate on the 1st of September for not being present there, and on the next day replied in his First Philippic. He then left Rome and devoted himself to the completion of the de Officiis, and to the composition of his famous Second Philippic, which was never delivered, but was circulated, at first privately, after Antony’s departure from Rome to Cisalpine Gaul on the 28th of November.
Cicero returned to Rome on the 9th of December, and from that time forward led the republican party in the senate. His policy, stated briefly, was to make use of Octavian, whose name was all-powerful with the veterans, until new legions had been raised which would follow the republican commanders (Phil. xi. 39). Cicero pledged his credit for the loyalty of Octavian, who styled him “father” and affected to take his advice on all occasions (Epp. ad Brut. i. 17. 5). Cicero, an incurable optimist in politics, may have convinced himself of Octavian’s sincerity. The breach, however, was bound to come, and the saying, maliciously attributed to Cicero, that Octavian was an “excellent youth who must be praised and—sent to another place,” neatly expresses the popular view of the situation. Cicero was sharply criticized by M. Junius Brutus for truckling to Octavian while showing irreconcilable enmity to Antony and Lepidus (ad Brut. i. 16. 4, i. 15. 9); but Brutus was safe in his province, and it is difficult to see what other course was open to a politician in Rome. Whether Cicero was right or wrong, none can question his amazing energy. He delivered his long series of Philippics at Rome, and kept up a correspondence with the various provincial governors and commanders, all short-sighted and selfish, and several of them half-hearted, endeavouring to keep each man in his place and to elaborate a common plan of operations. He was naturally included in the list of the proscribed, though it is said that Octavian fought long on his behalf, and was slain near Formiae on the 7th of December 43. He had a ship near in which he had previously attempted to fly, but being cast back by unfavourable winds he returned to his villa, saying, “Let me die in the country which I have often saved.” His head and hands were sent to Rome and nailed to the rostra, after Fulvia, wife of Antony and widow of Clodius, had thrust a hairpin through the tongue.
Works.—The literary works of Cicero may be classed as (1) rhetorical; (2) oratorical; (3) philosophical and political; (4) epistolary.
(i.) Rhetorical.—His chief works of this kind are: (a) de Oratore, a treatise in three books dedicated to his brother Quintus. The discussion is conducted in the form of a dialogue which is supposed to have occurred in 91 B.C. chiefly between the two orators L. Crassus and M. Antonius. The first book deals with the studies necessary for an orator; the second with the treatment of the subject matter; the third with the form and delivery of a speech. Cicero says of this work in a letter (Fam. i. 9. 23) that it “does not deal in hackneyed rules and embraces the whole theory of oratory as laid down by Isocrates and Aristotle.” (b) Brutus, or de claris oratoribus, a history of Roman eloquence containing much valuable information about his predecessors, drawn largely from the Chronicle (liber annalis) of Atticus (§§ 14, 15). (c) Orator, dedicated to M. Brutus, sketching a portrait of the perfect and ideal orator, Cicero’s last word on oratory. The sum of his conclusion is that the perfect orator must also be a perfect man. Cicero says of this work that he has “concentrated in it all his taste” (Fam. vi. 18. 4). The three treatises are intended to form a continuous series containing a complete system of rhetorical training.
It will be convenient to mention here a feature of Ciceronian prose on which singular light has been thrown by recent inquiry. In the de Oratore, iii. 173 sqq., he considers the element of rhythm or metre in prose, and in the Orator (174-226) he returns to the subject and discusses it at length. His main point is that prose should be metrical in character, though it should not be entirely metrical, since this would be poetry (Orator, 220). Greek writers relied for metrical effect in prose on those feet which were not much used in poetry. Aristotle recommended the paean ⏑ ⏑ ⏑ –. Cicero preferred the cretic – ⏑ – which he says is the metrical equivalent of the paean. Demosthenes was especially fond of the cretic. Rhythm pervades the whole sentence but is most important at the end or clausula, where the swell of the period sinks to rest. The ears of the Romans were incredibly sensitive to such points. We are told that an assembly was stirred to wild applause by a double trochee – ⏑ – ⏑. If the order were changed, Cicero says, the effect would be lost. The same rhythm should be found in the membra which compose the sentence. He quotes a passage from one of his own speeches in which any change in the order would destroy the rhythm. Cicero gives various clausulae which his ears told him to be good or bad, but his remarks are desultory, as also are those of Quintilian, whose examples were largely drawn from Cicero’s writings. It was left for modern research to discover rules of harmony which the Romans obeyed unconsciously. Other investigators had shown that Cicero’s clausulae are generally variations of some three or four forms in which the rhythm is trochaic. Dr Thaddaeus Zielinski of St Petersburg, after examining all the clausulae in Cicero’s speeches, finds that they are governed by a law. In every clausula there is a basis followed by a cadence. The basis consists of a cretic or its metrical equivalent. This is followed by a cadence trochaic in character, but varying in length. The three favourite forms are (i.) – ⏑ – – ⏒, (ii.) – ⏑ – – ⏑ ⏓, (iii.) – ⏑ – – ⏑ – ⏒. These he styles verae (V). Other frequent clausulae, which he terms licitae (L), are those in which a long syllable is resolved, as in verse, into two shorts, e.g. ēssĕ vĭdĕātŭr. These two classes, V and L, include 86% of the clausulae in the orations. Some rarer clausulae which he terms M ( = malae) introduce no new principle. There remain two interesting forms, viz. S ( = selectae), in which a spondee is substituted for a trochee in the cadence, e.g. – ⏑ – – – –, this being done for special emphasis, and P ( = pessimae), where a dactyl is so used, e.g. – ⏑ – – ⏑ ⏑ – ⏒, this being the heroica clausula condemned by Quintilian. Similar rules apply to the membra of the sentence, though in these the S and P forms are more frequent, harmony being restored in the clausula.These results apply not only to the speeches but also to the
- Fam. xi. 20 “laudandum adolescentem, ornandum, tollendum.”
- With these it is usual to include a treatise to Herennius by an anonymous author, a contemporary of Sulla, in modern times generally identified with a person named Cornificius, quoted by Quintilian (iii. 1. 21). This is a manual of rhetoric derived from Greek sources with illustrations of figures drawn from Roman orators. Cicero’s juvenile work de Inventione appears to be drawn partly from this and partly from a treatise by Hermagoras. This is a slight production and does not require detailed notice. Other minor works written in later life, such as the Partitiones Oratoriae, a catechism of rhetoric, in which instruction is given by Cicero to his son Marcus; the Topica, and an introduction to a translation of the speeches delivered by Demosthenes and Aeschines for and against Ctesiphon, styled de optimo genere oratorum, also need only be mentioned.
- Orator, § 214 “patris dictum sapiens temeritas fili cōmprŏbāvĭt—hoc dichoreo tantus clamor contionis excitatus est ut admirabile esset. Quaero, nonne id numerus efficerit? Verborum ordinem immuta, fac sic: ‘Comprobavit fili temeritas’ jam nihil erit.”
- This theory is partly anticipated by Terentianus Maurus (c. A.D. 290), who says of the cretic (v. 1440 sqq.):—
“Plurimum orantes decebit quando paene in ultimo
Obtinet sedem beatam, terminet si clausulam
Dactylus spondeus imam, nec trochaeum respuo;
Plenius tractatur istud arte prosa rhetorum.”