¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 With his last ‘geographical witness’, which is the entire Mediterranean coastline and every city located on it, Cicero has reached a new topic on which he will dwell for several paragraphs (§§ 31-35): Pompey’s war against the pirates in the previous year (67 BC). Pirates had bugged Rome for decades and were an endemic danger to seafaring in the Mediterranean. Plutarch has the following graphic account of their doings (Life of Pompey 24.1-6):
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The power of the pirates had its seat in Cilicia at first, and at the outset it was venturesome and elusive; but it took on confidence and boldness during the Mithridatic war, because it lent itself to the king’s service. Then, while the Romans were embroiled in civil wars at the gates of Rome, the sea was left unguarded, and gradually drew and enticed them on until they no longer attacked navigators only, but also laid waste islands and maritime cities. And presently men whose wealth gave them power, and those whose lineage was illustrious, and those who laid claim to superior intelligence, began to embark on piratical craft and share their enterprises, feeling that the occupation brought them a certain reputation and distinction. There were also fortified roadsteads and signal-stations for piratical craft in many places, and fleets put in here which were not merely furnished for their peculiar work with sturdy crews, skilful pilots, and light and speedy ships; nay, more annoying than the fear which they inspired was the odious extravagance of their equipment, with their gilded sails, and purple awnings, and silvered oars, as if they rioted in their iniquity and plumed themselves upon it. Their flutes and stringed instruments and drinking bouts along every coast, their seizures of persons in high command, and their ransomings of captured cities, were a disgrace to the Roman supremacy. For, you see, the ships of the pirates numbered more than a thousand, and the cities captured by them four hundred. Besides, they attacked and plundered places of refuge and sanctuaries hitherto inviolate, such as those of Claros, Didyma, and Samothrace; the temple of Chthonian Earth at Hermione; that of Asclepius in Epidaurus; those of Poseidon at the Isthmus, at Taenarum, and at Calauria; those of Apollo at Actium and Leucas; and those of Hera at Samos, at Argos, and at Lacinium. They also offered strange sacrifices of their own at Olympus, and celebrated there certain secret rites, among which those of Mithras continue to the present time, having been first instituted by them. But they heaped most insults upon the Romans, even going up from the sea along their roads and plundering there, and sacking the neighbouring villas. Once, too, they seized two praetors, Sextilius and Bellinus, in their purple-edged robes, and carried them away, together with their attendants and lictors. They also captured a daughter of Antonius, a man who had celebrated a triumph, as she was going into the country, and exacted a large ransom for her.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Pirates always used to harass those who sailed the sea, even as brigands did those who dwelt on land. There was never a time when these practices were unknown, nor will they ever cease probably so long as human nature remains the same. But formerly freebooting was limited to certain localities and small bands operating only during the summer on sea and on land; whereas at this time, ever since war had been carried on continuously in many different places at once, and many cities had been overthrown, while sentences hung over the heads of all the fugitives, and there was no freedom from fear for anyone anywhere, large numbers had turned to plundering. Now the operations of the bandits on land, being in better view of the towns, which could thus perceive the injury close at hand and capture the perpetrators with no great difficulty, would be broken up with a fair degree of ease; but those on the sea had grown to the greatest proportions. For while the Romans were busy with their antagonists, the pirates had gained great headway, sailing about to many quarters, and adding to their band all of like condition, to such an extent that some of them, after the manner of allies, assisted many others. Indeed, I have already related how much they accomplished in connection with others. When those wars had been ended, the pirates, instead of desisting, did much serious injury alone by themselves both to the Romans and to their allies. They no longer sailed in small force, but in great fleets; and they had generals, so that they had acquired a great reputation. First and foremost they robbed and pillaged those sailing the sea, no longer permitting them any safety even during the winter season, since as the result of their daring, practice, and success they made voyages in security even then; and next they despoiled even those in the harbours. For if any one ventured to put out against them, he would usually be defeated and perish; but even if he conquered, he would be unable to capture any of the enemy by reason of the speed of their ships. Accordingly, they would return after a little, as if victors, and would ravage and set in flames not only farms and fields, but also whole cities; some places, however, they conciliated, so as to gain naval stations and winter quarters in a friendly land as it were.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Cicero’s audience, the Roman people, had much at stake in the attempt to bring the problem under control. Already at this time, the city of Rome relied to a significant degree on imported corn to feed its growing population, and the pirates posed a serious threat to the supply lines from Sicily and elsewhere. The pirates had their basis in the Eastern Mediterranean and subduing them was thus tied up with the other main military challenges in the region, i.e. the drawn-out war against Mithridates (the topic of the lex Manilia and Cicero’s speech). One of Cicero’s key talking points is the speed with which Pompey managed to dispatch the pirates. He hints at it in the last sentence of this paragraph and returns to it in detail in § 35.
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Testes [sc. sunt] nunc vero iam omnes orae atque omnes exterae gentes ac nationes, denique maria omnia, cum universa, tum in singulis oris omnes sinus ac portus: the main verb [= sunt] has to be supplied. The dissolution of the formula testis est X, foreshadowed by the extension of the formula in the preceding sentence (testis est iterum et saepius Italia…), indicates a slight change in tone and topic. Instead of calling upon specific countries, Cicero here invokes a plurality of subjects as witnesses – the entire coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, all neighbouring peoples, every bay and harbour – to capture Pompey’s truly astounding success against the pirates. In various ways, the design of the sentence reinforces the impression that Cicero’s witnesses are innumerable: (i) omnes orae, (ii) omnes exterae gentes ac nationes, and (iii) maria omnia constitute a ‘classic’ tricolon, even though at first it appears that Cicero has here violated ‘the law of successively growing cola’
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 – maria omnia is much shorter than omnes exterae gentes ac nationes. But this apparent anti-climax in fact sets up the final piece of rhetorical gushing, which throws the entire tricolon out of sync: cum universa, tum in singulis oris omnes sinus ac portus. denique suggests that maria omnia will be the final item, but Cicero then proceeds to explore it in ways that produce deliberate inconcinnities, both in terms of syntax and theme. Only the cum-part (the attribute universa) fits grammatically with maria; in the tum-part, Cicero introduces the new subjects sinus and portus, which stand on their own – a fact further reinforced by yet another instance of omnis, which thereby figures four times in one tricolon (i.e. one time too often). Likewise, the tum-part, through inclusion of the phrase in singulis oris, points back to the first item (omnes orae), bringing the sentence full circle: it is as if Cicero, in the way he has designed the sentence, is tracing the entire (irregular ) coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. The attributes omnes – omnes – omnia – universa – singulis all add to the impression of comprehensiveness.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 nunc vero iam: the words recall the iam vero of § 29. Each one can be used on its own to mark a transition to a new topic or item or to set up a rhetorical climax. English has a wide range of similar words – ‘further’, ‘moreover’, ‘now’, ‘indeed’ – but combining them would produce clumsy prose.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 omnes exterae gentes ac nationes: the word gens has two basic meanings: it can refer to a Roman clan or group of families sharing the same nomen and the same supposed ancestors (for example: gens Iulia, alleged to derive from Aeneas’ son Ascanius renamed Iulus); or it can refer (as here) to a non-Roman nation, people, or ethnicity. In those cases, Roman authors often add the attribute ‘exter, –era, –erum’ (‘foreign’) to eliminate ambiguity. ((Note that the masculine nominative singular is exter and not (as some vocabulary lists have it) exterus.)) gens is etymologically related to gigno (‘to bring into being, to create’), just as natio comes from nascor (‘to be born’): the two terms are virtual synonyms. The pleonasm adds to the rhetoric of comprehensiveness and generates a parallel design that has maria, cum universa at its centre:
|omnes orae||~||in singulis oris|
|maria, cum universa|
|omnes exterae gentes ac nationes||~||omnes sinus ac portus|
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 sinus atque portus: both are fourth declension nouns in the nominative plural. Like most fourth-declension nouns, they are both masculine. (The two most important exceptions are manus, –us, and domus, –us, which are feminine.)
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 cum … tum…: cum is a nasty little word because it can mean all sorts of things. It can be either a preposition with the ablative or a conjunction, introducing a range of subordinate clauses in either the indicative or the subjunctive. But it also has some other uses. Followed by tum, for instance, it is used to co-ordinate (and rank) two related circumstances. So whenever you encounter the word, it is a good idea to take a step back and consider what kind of cum you are dealing with. Here, the word that follows cum, i.e. universa, could be in the ablative (suggesting, falsely, that we are dealing with the preposition). It isn’t, of course! If one tries this option out, insurmountable difficulties soon arise: ‘with universal…’ doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and a noun that would complete the phrase is of course nowhere to be found – universa is in the neuter nominative plural agreeing with maria. Perhaps, then, we are dealing with the conjunction? But no finite verb form, in either the indicative or the subjunctive, is coming up! So on to the third option, which requires a tum – and lo and behold, here it is! ((Note that the meaning of cum you need here is overlooked in some vocabulary lists, including those approved by OCR.))
¶ 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 praesidium, ut tutus esset, aut tam fuit abditus, ut lateret? The subject of the rhetorical question, which requires the answer ‘none’, is quis … locus, which takes two verbs coordinated by aut – aut: habuit (which governs the accusative object firmum … praesidium) and fuit. The two ut-clauses are both consecutive, each set up by a tam. Cicero specifies two possibilities by which places might have remained unaffected from the pirates: either they had such a powerful garrison that the pirates would not have dared to attack or they were so well hidden that the pirates would have been unable to locate them. But the way Cicero phrases the question implies that such places did not exist: the entire Mediterranean (cf. toto mari) was under threat from piracy during these years.
¶ 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 toto mari: an ablative of place. This is a neat phrase to revise some difficult declensions. mare, maris, n. is a pure, third-declension i-stem noun, which means that the dative and the ablative look identical:
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 totus, on the other hand, belongs to a group of adjectives that mix the 2nd and the 3rd declension. This means that, unlike straight 2nd declension adjectives, it is possible to distinguish between the neuter dative singular (toti) and the neuter ablative singular (toto):
¶ 29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 ut tutus esset … ut lateret: two result clauses in secondary or historic sequence. The main verbs (habuit and fuit) are ‘perfects without have’ (as Morwood calls them) or ‘aorists’: ((Morwood (1999) 86.)) they refer to a past state of affairs that does not continue in the present (as opposed to present perfects or ‘perfects with have’). In historic sequence, the imperfect subjunctive in subordinate clauses (like the result clauses here) refers to the same time as (or a later time than) the verb of the main clause.
¶ 30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 quis navigavit, qui non se aut mortis aut servitutis periculo committeret, cum aut hieme aut referto praedonum mari navigaret? In this second rhetorical question, Cicero shifts the focus from (stationary) locations around the Mediterranean to travellers. Just as with the locations, he uses aut – aut (this time two pairs) to sketch out the dire condition of sea-faring before Pompey took care of the pirates. If the previous sentence focused on geographical ubiquity (quis … locus, i.e. none), here the stress is on the absence of temporal respite from danger: people had the choice of sailing either in winter-time when storms would threaten their lives, or during the proper sailing season (which extended from March to October ), when pirates would threaten their liberty. (Though one should perhaps not insist on too strict a match between the two pairs of aut: while mortis … periculo maps up principally with hieme and servitutis … periculo with referto praedonum mari, the pirates clearly posed a threat to both liberty and life.)
¶ 31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 quis navigavit, qui non se aut mortis aut servitutis periculo committeret: unlike the quis of the previous sentence, which is an interrogative adjective (modifying locus), the quis here stands on its own, as a proud interrogative pronoun. navigavit is another ‘perfect without have’ (see note above). The verb in the relative clause introduced by qui is in the imperfect subjunctive – imperfect to indicate contemporaneous action in historic sequence; subjunctive because the sense is consecutive/resultative: ‘who set sail without the consequence/result of putting his life or liberty in danger?’ committeret governs both a direct object (the reflexive pronoun se) and an indirect object (the dative periculo). The English equivalent is: ‘to expose someone to something’. The two genitives mortis and servitutis both depend on periculo.
¶ 32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 hoc tantum bellum, tam turpe, tam vetus, tam late divisum atque dispersum quis umquam arbitraretur aut ab omnibus imperatoribus uno anno aut omnibus annis ab uno imperatore confici posse? Cicero adds yet another rhetorical question but significantly delays the interrogative pronoun (quis), which is the subject of the sentence. The main verb is arbitraretur, which introduces an indirect statement: hoc tantum bellum, tam turpe, tam vetus, tam late divisum atque dispersum is the sprawling subject accusative, posse the verb. The present passive confici goes with posse. As in the two previous rhetorical questions, Cicero uses aut – aut to construct an either/or alternative. uno anno and omnibus annis are ‘ablatives of time within which’.
¶ 33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 hoc tantum bellum, tam turpe, tam vetus, tam late divisum atque dispersum: the noun here is bellum, which Cicero pads out with a string of modifiers: tantum refers to the size, turpe to the ethics (Rome being bullied by pirates is ‘shameful’ or ‘dishonourable’), vetus to the duration, and late divisum atque dispersum to the complex geography (it was spread across the entire Mediterranean).
¶ 34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 quis umquam arbitraretur: arbitraretur is in the imperfect subjunctive. The subjunctive here has potential force: Cicero’s rhetorical question demands no-one’ as an answer and he uses the potential subjunctive to present it as an unlikely possibility that anyone would ever have believed feasible what Pompey then actually went on to do.
¶ 35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 ab omnibus imperatoribus uno anno aut omnibus annis ab uno imperatore: Cicero neatly correlates extremes (both in the sense of minima and maxima) in duration of time and in the number of available generals: countless generals, but only one year; countless years, but only one general. The design is chiastic: ablative of agency (ab omnibus imperatoribus) + ablative of time (uno anno) :: ablative of time (omnibus annis) + ablative of agency (ab uno imperatore). Put differently, from the point of view of military strategy he identifies two pairs that each consists of one positive and one negative aspects: many generals, but very short period of time; all the time in the world, but only one general. Neither scenario, he implies, anyone would have considered a recipe for success. This serves him as foil for Pompey’s achievement, who managed to get the job done despite combining the respective negatives: only one general + very limited amount of time.