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1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 30: WITNESSES TO THE TRUTH!

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Cicero now calls on witnesses that can testify to Pompey’s nonpareil virtutes imperatoriae, thus drawing the language of forensic oratory into the political domain. Mere humans will not do: he gives us a parade of personified countries: Italy, Sicily, Africa, Gaul, Spain, and again Italy, in a powerful sweep across the entire Western Mediterranean, are called upon to vouch for Pompey’s excellence in warfare. When Cicero says Testis est Italia, Sicilia, Africa, etc., there is no suggestion that he is referring to the Italian, Sicilian, African etc. people. The regions called for testimony are foreshadowed by the list in § 28 about the breadth of Pompey’s military experience: civile, Africanum, Transalpinum, Hispaniense, servile, navale bellum, varia et diversa genera et bellorum et hostium.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The drum of ‘testis est + country + relative clause’ in asyndetic sequence is relentless:

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 (i) Testis est Italia, quam ille ipse victor L. Sulla huius virtute et subsidio confessus est liberatam.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 (ii) Testis est Sicilia, quam multis undique cinctam periculis non terrore belli, sed consilii celeritate explicavit.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 (iii) Testis est Africa, quae magnis oppressa hostium copiis eorum ipsorum sanguine redundavit.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 (iv) Testis est Gallia, per quam legionibus nostris iter in Hispaniam

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Gallorum internecione patefactum est.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 (v) Testis est Hispania, quae saepissime plurimos hostes ab hoc superatos prostratosque conspexit.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 (vi) Testis est iterum et saepius Italia, quae cum servili bello taetro periculosoque premeretur, ab hoc auxilium absente expetivit, quod bellum exspectatione eius attenuatum atque imminutum est, adventu sublatum ac sepultum.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 In terms of overall design, Cicero uses ring-composition, starting and ending with Italy, together with a massive rhetorical climax. On his return to Italy (vi), he breaks the established pattern in various ways. First, he adds the adverbs (themselves arranged climactically) iterum et saepius in the main clause. Second, he integrates a further construction (the cum-clause cum … premeretur) within the relative clause. And third, he continues his account of this particular campaign by means of a connecting relative (or another relative clause) (quod). The sense of climax is further enhanced by the way in which Cicero gradually amplifies the degree of agency granted to his geographical personifications in the relative clauses.

  • 12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0
  • In the first two instances (Talia, quam…; Sicilia, quam…), theyItare accusative objects (though the first quam is also the subject accusative of the indirect statement introduced by confessus est). The subjects are Sulla (confessus est) and Pompey (explicavit).
  • In the third (Africa, quae…) and fourth (Gallia, per quam…) instances, Cicero does without a human agent, and the regions gain in prominence as the (passive) targets of military or strategic actions.
  • And in the final two instances (Hispania, quae…; Italia, quae…) the regions are the subjects of verbs that presuppose active agency (conspexit; expetivit).

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 One of the effects of personification is to suggest a special relationship of Pompey to the divine sphere – compare the idea of the river(-god) Tiber in the Aeneid, who is on speaking terms with Virgil’s hero. This adds to the claim, which in fact permeates the speech, that Pompey is favoured by the gods. See further § 48 (discussed below), where Pompey emerges as having special powers over the forces of nature.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Testis est Italia, quam ille ipse victor L. Sulla huius virtute et subsidio confessus est liberatam (sc. esse): the relative pronoun quam has a double function: it is the accusative object of confessus est and the subject accusative of the indirect statement dependent on confessus est: quam liberatam (supply: esse). Cicero here refers to Pompey’s contribution to Sulla’s victory over the Marians in 84-83 BC, specifically his raising of a private army in 84BC for Sulla’s cause. He glosses over the awkward fact that Romans here fought against Romans, leaving it unspecified whom Pompey liberated Italy from – an effect reinforced by the passive construction and obfuscated agency – instead of saying, forcefully, ‘Pompey liberated Italy’, Cicero fudges: ‘Italy was liberated by means of Pompey’s excellence and help’.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 ille ipse victor L. Sulla: Cicero here invokes Sulla as the ultimate winner. It is quite difficult to render the emphasis achieved through ille ipse in English: ‘that paragon of a victor, Lucius Sulla himself’. The sense is that there is no greater authority on the subject than the former dictator.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 confessus est: the verb captures the fact that every Roman aristocrat was keen to claim credit for military achievement: Cicero insists that even the general in charge overall, Sulla, acknowledged Pompey’s outstanding contribution to the campaign – even though he will have done so grudgingly.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 liberatam: the use of the verb liberare (‘to free’) is striking, especially when compared to other sources. Valerius Maximus (5.2.9), Plutarch (Life of Pompey 8), and Appian (Bellum Civile 1.80) note that Pompey tapped into the social networks of his father to raise an army for Sulla’s cause; and they recognize his contribution to the Sullan victory over the Marians in Italy. But their accounts fall far short of Cicero’s claim (attributed to Sulla) that ‘Pompey freed Italy’, which in comparison emerges as a massive hyperbole.

[Extra information:

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 The verb liberare (and the noun libertas) carried a powerful, if diffuse ideological charge in the political thought of the late Roman republic. For those with a popular bent, libertas referred first and foremost to the sovereignty of the people, which they saw under threat from an in-group of powerful nobiles. For the senatorial oligarchy, libertas essentially consisted in the preservation of oligarchic equality in access to positions of power (i.e. the absence of an autocrat or tyrant and the maintenance of the status quo). ((See further Arena (2013).)) For this reason, they systematically objected to every ‘extraordinary command’ – such as the one Manilius and Cicero wanted to give to Pompey

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 – as constituting a threat to libertas. By associating Pompey with the freeing of Italy from hostile oppression Cicero obliquely appropriates the notion of libertas for his cause.]

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 huius virtute et subsidio: huius (the genitive singular of hic) refers to Pompey; virtute and subsidio are ablatives of means.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 Testis est Sicilia, quam multis undique cinctam periculis non terrore belli, sed consilii celeritate explicavit: after Sulla and his supporters had vanquished the Marian forces in Italy, high-ranking Marian officers, notably the consul of 82, Carbo, fled South to Africa and Sicily. The senate, by now controlled by Sulla, invested Pompey with praetorian imperium and sent him in pursuit. Cicero gives a more precise account of events in §61, in the context of the paradoxical argument that in the case of Pompey, the unprecedented has tradition:

Quid tam novum quam adulescentulum privatum exercitum difficili rei publicae tempore conficere? confecit. huic praeesse? praefuit. rem optime ductu suo gerere? gessit. quid tam praeter consuetudinem quam homini peradulescenti, cuius aetas a senatorio gradu longe abesset, imperium atque exercitum dari, Siciliam permitti atque Africam bellumque in ea provincia administrandum? fuit in his provinciis singulari innocentia, gravitate, virtute: bellum in Africa maximum confecit, victorem exercitum deportavit. quid vero tam inauditum quam equitem Romanum triumphare? at eam quoque rem populus Romanus non modo vidit, sed omnium etiam studio visendam et concelebrandam putavit.

[What is so novel as that a mere youth, holding no office, should raise an army at a time of crisis in the commonwealth? Yet he did raise one. Or that he should command it? Yet he did command it. Or that he should achieve a great success under his own direction? Yet he did achieve it. What so contrary to custom as that one who was little more than a youth and far too young to hold senatorial rank should be given a military command and be entrusted with the province of Sicily and Africa and the conduct of a campaign there? He displayed in the performance of these duties remarkable integrity, dignity and capacity: the campaign in Africa, a very serious one, he brought to an end and led his army home victorious. What, indeed, so unheard of as that a Roman knight should hold a triumph? Yet even that the Roman People not merely witnessed but thought fit to attend, and to join in celebrating it with universal enthusiasm.]

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Plutarch (Life of Pompey 10) reports that Pompey took over Sicily with ease and showed generally great kindness to the indigenous population (no doubt in part with a view to extending his networks of loyal supporters), but that he deliberately humiliated the captured Carbo before having him executed. Cicero again suppresses the civil-war dimension of Pompey’s operations in Sicily (gently hinted at in the phrase multis … periculis), choosing to focus on the positive consequences of his arrival for the island (and Roman province) and his ability to establish control through swift strategic planning (consilii celeritate) rather than the application of violence or the threat of arms (terrore belli).

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 multis undique cinctam periculis: multis and periculis go together. The word order is iconic: multis and periculis encircle (cingere) the other words that belong to the participle construction (undique cinctam).

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 non terrore belli, sed consilii celeritate: the word order is chiastic: ablative of means (terrore) + genitive (belli) :: genitive (consilii) + ablative of means (celeritate).

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 Testis est Africa, quae magnis oppressa hostium copiis eorum ipsorum sanguine redundavit: in Africa, Pompey fought both against the Marians and their African allies. This enables Cicero to use the straightforward term for ‘external enemy’, i.e. hostis. Slaughtering hostes was unproblematic from a Roman point of view. In fact, the rules for celebrating a triumph required a significant amount of carnage (several thousand enemy soldiers killed). Pompey met the requirement in his victory over the African king Iarbas (which earned him his first triumph), a fact reflected in Cicero’s emphasis on bloodshed

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 Testis est Gallia, per quam legionibus nostris iter in Hispaniam Gallorum internecione patefactum est: the subject of the relative clause is iter. Cicero continues the rhetoric of gore, evoking the notion of a ‘road paved with corpses’. He is referring to Pompey’s mass-slaughter of Gauls on his way to his appointment in Spain. (Gallorum is an objective genitive dependent on internecione.)

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 Testis est Hispania, quae saepissime plurimos hostes ab hoc superatos prostratosque conspexit: if Cicero could present Pompey’s slaughter of Africans and Gauls as an uncontroversial achievement, matters become messy again with Spain, where Pompey fought against the Roman renegade Sertorius (a former supporter of Marius, who had established an ‘alternative’ republic in Spain) as well as indigenous foes. Cicero retains the emphasis on external enemies (hostes), but scales back his rhetoric of gore. (Interestingly, in the list of wars in § 28, some manuscripts gloss Hispaniense [sc. bellum] with mixtum ex civilibus atque ex bellicosissimis nationibus: ‘consisting of engagements with both citizens and the most ferocious nations’.)

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 Testis est iterum et saepius Italia, quae cum servili bello taetro periculosoque premeretur, ab hoc auxilium absente expetivit, quod bellum exspectatione eius attenuatum atque imminutum est, adventu sublatum ac sepultum: servile bellum refers to the slave revolt orchestrated by Spartacus, which started near Capua (in the vicinity of Naples). The uprising, which began in 73 BC, when Pompey was still fighting in Spain, was initially successful and spread quickly through Southern Italy. The senate eventually put Crassus in charge of eight legions to suppress the rebellion, and he soon re-established Rome’s military dominance, winning a decisive victory in 71 BC. By this time, Pompey had returned with his legions from Spain and joined in the mop-up operations. Afterwards, he claimed that the credit for the defeat of the slaves belonged primarily to him, rather than Crassus. See Plutarch, Life of Crassus 11. In passing over Crassus in silence, Cicero perpetuates Pompeian spin.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 iterum et saepius: literally ‘again and more often’, in idiomatic English

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 ‘over and over again’: saepius is the comparative form of the adverb saepe.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 cum: not the preposition + ablative (despite the fact that an ablative follows!), but the conjunction + subjunctive. premeretur is in the imperfect subjunctive to indicate contemporaneous action in secondary sequence.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 servili bello taetro periculosoque: Cicero first identifies this war with servili and then glosses it with two further attributes that stress the monstrosity of a war against slaves (taetro) and the degree of danger that was involved (periculoso), not least since it happened very close to home.

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 ab hoc … absente: Cicero again uses the demonstrative pronoun to refer to Pompey. absente stands in predicative position to hoc and may have concessive force, with an oblique dig at Crassus: Italy sought help from Pompey, even though he was far away (and other generals in the country). The alliteration auxilium absente heightens the apparent paradox; and the hyperbaton generated by the insertion of auxilium in-between hoc and absente puts further emphasis on absente. absente is the first of three ablatives in this sentence that position Pompey in space and bring him ever closer: first he is absent (absente); then he is expected to arrive (expectatione); and finally he is there (adventu). The design builds up a powerful sense of anticipation and endows his arrival with semi-divine connotations, akin to an epiphany.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 quod bellum exspectatione eius attenuatum atque imminutum est, adventu sublatum ac sepultum [sc. est]: the quod-clause is a syntactically and thematically awkward appendix. It conspicuously breaks the pattern of the previous sentences: testis est + region + relative clause, with the region as antecedent of the relative pronoun. There are two ways to construe the quod: (i) as a relative pronoun that contains its antecedent (bellum) within the relative clause: ‘… a war, which was …’; (ii) as a connecting relative (= et id): ‘and this war was…’ The second solution is arguably more elegant. The powerful, virtually synonymous pairs of verbs attenuatum atque imminutum and sublatum ac sepultum obfuscate the fact that Pompey’s contribution to the victory was hardly decisive. In fact, the weakening and diminishing of the war in anticipation of Pompey’s arrival captures not so much the actual military situation in Southern Italy as the psychology of the inhabitants of Rome, for whom the return of Pompey (further ) defused the threat posed by Spartacus.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 adventu sublatum ac sepultum [sc. est]: the ablative adventu is studiously ambiguous. We can take it in a temporal sense (‘upon his arrival, the war was finished’); but Cicero invites his audience to spot a causal relation as well: because of Pompey’s arrival, the war was dead and buried. Either way, the formulation deftly sidesteps the awkward fact that Pompey’s military contribution to the war effort was rather inconsequential.

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 This is not the first passage in which Cicero endows an arrival of Pompey with military significance. Early on in the speech, he claimed that Pompey’s mere appearance in the Greek East on his mission against the pirates checked the advance of Mithridates and Tigranes (§ 13):

cuius adventu ipso atque nomine, tametsi ille ad maritimum bellum venerit, tamen impetus hostium repressos esse intellegunt ac retardatos.

[They recognize that his very arrival and name, even though he only came for the war against the pirates, nevertheless checked and delayed the attack of the enemy.]

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 The idiom (in particular the noun adventus) and the scenario suggest a god at work and liken the manifestation of the general to an epiphany, i.e. divine power rendered visible. Cicero reinforces this impression at the end of § 13, again in an idiom that recurs in our passage here:

hunc audiebant antea, nunc praesentem vident tanta temperantia, tanta mansuetudine, tanta humanitate, ut ii beatissimi esse videantur, apud quos ille diutissime commoretur.

[They heard of him; now they see him face to face in such self-control, such gentleness, such human kindness that those seemed to be most blessed with whom he spent the most time.]

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 The term praesens, which in religious contexts is used to refer to the efficacious presence of a god, and Pompey’s impact on those around him (profound bliss: beatissimi) are symptomatic of divine force. Cicero here links his assimilation of Pompey to the divine sphere with his ‘soft qualities’ (temperantia, mansuetudo, humanitas), on which he will elaborate in detail in § 36.

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Source: https://deimperio.theclassicslibrary.com/commentary/30-2/