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33

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 33: PIRATES ANTE PORTAS!

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 This section sees a continuation of the onslaught of questions Cicero began in § 31. They serve to illustrate how great the threat the pirates presented was and therefore how great Pompey must be as a general to have successfully defeated them. In the course of his geopolitical sweep, Cicero brings the enemy ever closer to home. He begins in the Eastern Mediterranean (Cnidus, Colophon, and Samos are located in Asia Minor and the Aegean Sea); then he moves to the West Coast of Southern Italy (Caieta and Misenum, both located south of Rome); and finally – and climactically – arrives at the mouth of the Tiber, the city of Ostia, and the harbour of Rome, a mere 15 miles from the capital. Other touches contribute to the (increasing) sense of danger. When he mentions Greek (and anonymous other ) locations, Cicero makes no reference to eyewitnesses, but leaves no doubt that even distant places are of vital concern to Roman interests since they help to secure the supply of corn to the capital on which the populace depended for their daily bread (eloquently evoked by Cicero in the relative clause quibus vitam et spiritum ducitis). The sack of Caieta, however, occurred within sight of a Roman official (inspectante praetore) and the outrageous assault on Ostia virtually within eyeshot of the Roman people (prope inspectantibus vobis). These instances of enforced spectatorship find resolution in the final sentence, with the exclamation pro di immortales! functioning as pivot between tragedy and triumph. Cicero recalls once more the appearance of the pirates at Ostia, but only as foil for this conclusion that since then Pompey has dealt with the problem so thoroughly that now there is not even any hearsay of pirate activity anywhere in the Mediterranean. The phrase Oceani ostium refers to the straits of Gibraltar: in a sense, then, we traverse the entire Mediterranean from East to West in the course of this paragraph, in parallel with the concluding claim that Pompey has rid the entire Sea of pirates.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 However, although Cicero is right to argue that Pompey had significant and considerable success against the pirates compared to many of his predecessors, he did not crush them entirely. Rather, he decided to resettle them at Soli in Cilicia (from then on called Pompeiopolis = ‘the city of Pompey’), where they were able to build up their strength again during the civil wars. Cicero later seems critical of Pompey’s decision not to punish the pirates harshly instead; in his de Officiis, written in 44 BC, he criticises the subjugation of morality to expediency in contemporary Rome (in contrast to the righteousness of their ancestors) by saying ‘we give immunity to pirates and make our allies pay tribute’ (3.49). It was not until Augustus held power long term that the threat of the pirates was completely removed.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Cnidum      aut   Colophonem   aut   Samum,   nobilissimas   urbes, innumerabilesque alias captas esse commemorem, cum vestros portus atque eos portus, quibus vitam et spiritum ducitis, in praedonum fuisse potestate sciatis?: The sentence continues and concludes the sequence of rhetorical questions that began in the previous paragraph and followed the pattern of a verb in the deliberative subjunctive (here: commemorem) setting up an indirect statement (Cnidum … captas esse) followed by a circumstantial cum-clause (cum vestros portus … sciatis). The rhetorical design of the sentence is the same as that of the three preceding ones: Cicero contrasts the ill-fortune that the pirates inflicted on non-Roman citizens (in this case famous, and not so famous, Greek cities) with that suffered by Romans in what amounts to an ‘a fortiori praeteritio’. The fact that the pirates had been encroaching upon Rome itself trumps their abuse of allies and others: there is no reason why Cicero should treat the latter in any detail, given that the former is so much more shocking. But he tweaks the syntax of the cum-clause slightly, thereby achieving an elegant transition to his approach in the subsequent sentences. In the previous three cum-clauses, he stated the outrage committed on Romans as a matter of fact: cum … transmiserint; cum … redempti sint; cum … pervenerint. He could have continued this pattern by writing: cum vestri portus atque ei portus, quibus vitam et spiritum ducitis, in praedonum fuerint potestate. Instead, he uses the second person plural of a verb of knowing (sciatis), which governs the indirect statement vestros portus atque eos portus [= subject accusative] … in praedonum fuisse [= infinitive] potestate. This direct address to the audience continues in the next sentence: an vero ignoratis…?

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 commemorem: deliberative subjunctive introducing an indirect statement: the accusatives are Cnidus, Colophon, Samos, as well as innumerable other cities Cicero does not name, and the infinitive is captas esse. Like many of the verbs in this section, captas esse is passive; the agents are of course the pirates, so we need to understand an implied a praedonibus.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Cnidum      aut   Colophonem   aut   Samum,   nobilissimas   urbes, innumerabilesque alias: Plutarch, Life of Pompey 24, recounts the indiscriminate plundering of the pirates in the Eastern Mediterranean, mentioning Samos (but not Cnidus or Colophon): ‘Besides, they attacked

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 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.’

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 cum vestros portus atque eos portus … in praedonum fuisse potestate sciatis?: sciatis is in the subjunctive in a circumstantial cum-clause. It introduces another indirect statement: vestros portus and eos portus are the subject accusatives, and fuisse the infinitive. Cicero distinguishes between the harbours that were (or ought to have been) under direct control of the Roman people (vestros portus) and those from which shipments of corn were sent to Rome (eos portus). The pirates managed to bring each type into their power, at least temporarily.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 quibus vitam et spiritum ducitis: quibus is either an ablative of origin or an instrumental ablative; the indicative ducitis signals that the relative clause is not part of the indirect statement (otherwise the verb would be in the subjunctive): Cicero is stating a fact. The phrase vita et spiritus refers, literally, to ‘breath as the concomitant of life or consciousness’ (OLD s.v. spiritus 3); here Cicero uses it metaphorically to refer to Rome’s corn supply, which the pirates put under threat.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 in praedonum fuisse potestate: there is both a prepositional hyperbaton (the preposition in is not immediately followed by potestate, the noun it governs) and verbal hyperbaton (fuisse breaks up the phrase praedonum potestate) here. These smaller rhetorical flourishes do not compromise the audience’s understanding of Cicero’s sentences or force it to wait until the end of the sentence for key information as a periodic sentence does, but add some spice and make the syntax a little more exciting. The unusual word order could also mirror the disruption the pirates caused to Roman systems.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 An vero ignoratis portum Caietae celeberrimum ac plenissimum navium inspectante praetore a praedonibus esse direptum? ex Miseno autem eius ipsius liberos, qui cum praedonibus antea bellum gesserat, a praedonibus esse sublatos?: ignoratis introduces two further indirect statements:

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 (i) portum (subject accusative) … esse direptum (infinitive)

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 (ii) liberos (subject accusative) … esse sublatos (infinitive)

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Unlike the main verb in the previous sentence, commemorem, or the three at the end of § 32 (dicam, querar, dicam), Cicero does not use a deliberative subjunctive or the first person singular to ask this question. Instead, he addresses his audience directly with ignoratis, a second person plural present indicative active. Why does he alternate? Perhaps he wanted to add some variety, perhaps he wanted to ensure he held the people’s attention by putting them on the spot, perhaps he wanted to obfuscate his less than precise ‘recall’ of events (for which see below). (The rhetorical question presupposes ‘no, we do know’ as an answer, whether it is actually true or not…). With querar in the subsequent sentence, Cicero switches back to the deliberative subjunctive.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 an: the particle an introduces a direct question that includes a notion of surprise or indignation and/or expects a negative answer (as here).

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 portum Caietae: a harbour, situated on the coast of Latium south-west of Formiae (a town north of Naples). Cicero here surprisingly uses a genitive of definition (‘the harbour of Caieta’); usually in classical Latin geographical specifications stand in apposition to the general noun: urbs Roma (rather than urbs Romae). (English, in contrast, prefers the genitive of definition: ‘the city of Rome’.)

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 celeberrimum ac plenissimum navium: navium is genitive plural and stands apo koinou with celeberrimum and plenissimum. The superlatives rhetorically pad out the facts.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 inspectante praetore: an ablative absolute. If this phrase is translated with concessive force (‘even though a praetor was watching’), it gives the impression that not even the presence of Roman authority-figures sufficed to stop the pirates. The indifference of pirates to the presence of a Roman magistrate with normal imperium seems implicitly to justify giving extraordinary powers to Pompey. There is also a neat contrast between Pompey’s ability to subdue enemies while still far away (cf. the end of § 30: while still absent from Italy, he nevertheless managed to have a significant impact on the suppression of the revolting slaves) and the inability of an ordinary magistrate to thwart the pirates running riot in his sphere of command. Listing the sufferings and misfortunes of senators, who were at the top of the Roman pecking order, at the hands of the pirates also suggests that the average Roman citizen was vulnerable and would be entirely powerless against them. This impression is furthered through the parallel between the phrases inspectante praetore and inspectantibus vobis two sentences later. They are both ablative absolutes with the verb inspecto and so suggest the Roman people are just as helpless as the praetor at Caieta. It is not entirely clear who the praetor actually was – and given his pathetic inability to deal with the pirates the suppression of his name is probably a deliberate act of rhetorical mercy on Cicero’s part. One promising candidate is M. Antonius Creticus, one of the praetors of 74 BC, who was in charge of a fleet located at Misenum, the place where the alleged abduction of his children occurred.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 ex Miseno autem eius ipsius liberos, qui cum praedonibus antea bellum gesserat, a praedonibus esse sublatos?: Intuitively, one is tempted to relate eius ipsius back to the ‘watching praetor’ of the previous sentence; but this is not a requirement. The pronouns, which are the antecedent of the relative pronoun qui, could simply look forward to a different individual – i.e. the person who had waged war against the pirates some time ago. And indeed, commentators link this reference to a piece of information in Plutarch’s Life of Pompey, who reports that the pirates abducted the daughter (singular!) of M. Antonius, the father (!) of M. Antonius Creticus, off the coast of Italy; then they go on to argue that Cicero here uses ‘a rhetorical plural’ instead of the accurate singular. However, for the plural to register as ‘rhetorical’, the audience would have to have their facts straight. Yet how many citizens present at the delivery of the speech would have been able to grasp on the spot that Cicero is referring to two different Antonii and two events separate in time, and, moreover, is using a rhetorical plural? Our guess is: not too many (especially since he keeps matters anonymous). For the inattentive listener, Cicero conjures up a praetor who had fought the pirates unsuccessfully and had his children abducted on top of it. Why does he do it? Arguably, because in terms of both simplicity and drama, his potted version of events is rhetorically superior to one that is painstakingly accurate (but boring in its details). It deserves emphasis, though, that Cicero always treads very carefully when he distorts history: M. Antonius had commanded a fleet against the pirates back in 102 BC, and with the pluperfect gesserat and the adverb antea he seems to acknowledge, however obliquely, that the Antonius at issue is not the praetor, but his father, without troubling the audience by elaborating on this point explicitly.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 gesserat: although this verb is in a subordinate clause in indirect speech (introduced by ignoratis), it is in the indicative because Cicero accepts this as fact, not simply as something reported which he does not wish to verify.

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 Nam quid ego Ostiense incommodum atque illam labem atque ignominiam rei publicae querar, cum prope inspectantibus vobis classis ea, cui consul populi Romani praepositus esset, a praedonibus capta atque oppressa est?: Cicero reverts to the deliberate subjunctive. querar, however, does not introduce an indirect statement but takes a series of direct objects linked by atque: (i) Ostiense incommodum, (ii) illam labem, (iii) ignominiam rei publicae, all of them referring to the same event. What follows is not, as previously, a cum-clause in the subjunctive, but a cum-clause in the indicative (cum classis ea … capta atque oppressa est) – an unexpected shift in mood that underscores Cicero’s indignation at arguably the greatest outrage committed by the pirates against the Roman people, the attack on the harbour of Ostia, reported also in Cassius Dio (36.23): ‘As these operations of theirs met with success it became customary for the pirates to go into the interior, and they inflicted many injuries on those even who had nothing to do with the sea. This is the way they treated not only the distant allies of Rome, but even Italy itself. For, believing that they would obtain greater gains in that quarter and also that they would terrify all the others still more if they did not keep their hands off that country, they sailed into the very harbour of Ostia as well as other cities in Italy, burning the ships and pillaging everything.’

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Ostiense incommodum: the adjective Ostiense is here used to indicate location: ‘the set-back at Ostia’. Ostia, Rome’s seaport, comes from the Latin word for ‘the mouth of a river’, i.e. ostium, which in turn derives from the Latin word for mouth, i.e. os. It is the place where the river Tiber flows into the Mediterranean.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 illam labem: the demonstrative pronoun or (as here) adjective ille, illa, illud often carries the notion of ‘common knowledge’, ‘fame’, or (as here) ‘notoriety’: ‘that disaster (which you are all familiar with)’.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 ignominiam rei publicae: rei publicae could be either a possessive genitive (‘disgrace of the commonwealth’) or a dative of disadvantage (‘disgrace for the commonwealth’).

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 prope inspectantibus vobis: an ablative absolute. prope (‘almost’) renders the hyperbole acceptable: Ostia was located about 30 kilometers from the city.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 classis ea, cui consul populi Romani praepositus esset: the antecedent of cui is classis ea, with the demonstrative adjective ea (in unusual postpositive position) setting up the consecutive relative clause – hence the (pluperfect passive) subjunctive praepositus esset. The consecutive force underscores the fact that the pirates didn’t just sink any old fleet, but a fleet of such importance that it was under the command of a consul of the Roman people. Who that consul was we do not know.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 capta atque oppressa est: although these are verbs in a cum-clause, it is a temporal cum-clause and so is followed by the indicative, not the subjunctive. With the relevant vowels elided (final ‘a’ in capta, ‘e’ in atque, ‘e’ in est) this phrase scans entirely spondaic. The spondaic rhythm adds to the grave tone and feeling of disaster Cicero’s has built up across this and the preceding sections.

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 pro di immortales!: Cicero uses the interjection pro followed by the vocative di immortales as pivot from highlighting, via a long string of rhetorical questions, what threat the pirates posed to the Roman people, to Pompey’s quick and resounding victory over them in the previous year. The invocation of the immortal gods at this point is thematically appropriate insofar as Cicero goes on to position Pompey vis-à-vis the divine sphere in the following sentence in two countervailing ways: by referring to him as a ‘human being’ (cf. hominis), he emphasizes the distinction between ‘mortals’ and ‘immortals’ and leaves no doubt that Pompey belongs to the former, yet by means of the phrases divina virtus and tantam … lucem adferre rei publicae he subtly assimilates him to the gods.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 tantamne unius hominis incredibilis ac divina virtus tam brevi tempore lucem adferre rei publicae potuit, ut vos, qui modo ante ostium Tiberinum classem hostium videbatis, nunc nullam intra Oceani ostium praedonum navem esse audiatis? The final sentence of the section is yet another rhetorical question. However, this time, Cicero uses the device to marvel at Pompey’s remarkable skill in ridding the Mediterranean of the pirates so effectively and so quickly. adferre governs both an accusative object (tantam … lucem: note the massive hyperbaton) and a dative (rei publicae). tantam and tam set up the result clause ut audiatis. audiatis governs an indirect statement with nullam … navem (another massive hyperbaton) as subject accusative and esse as infinitive. Within the ut-clause, Cicero highlights the fantastic turn-around achieved by Pompey by means of the antithesis of modo (‘just recently’) and nunc (‘now’) and a geographical contrast: if a little while ago the pirates ran riot at the mouth of the Tiber (ante ostium Tiberinum), now none of their ships can be found anywhere within the entire Mediterranean (intra Oceani ostium). The danger has receded from sight (videbatis) to the absence of any rumour (audiatis). Set out schematically, the ut-clause and the relative clause therein compare and contrast as follows:

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0  

modo ~ nunc
ante ~ intra
ostium Tiberinum ~ Oceani ostium
classem hostium ~ nullam … praedonum navem
videbatis ~ audiatis

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0  

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 Cicero introduces a touch of (chiastic) variation into his otherwise parallel design by playing with the position of attributes and genitives: (a) ostium (b) Tiberinum – (b) Oceani (a) ostium; (a) classem (b) hostium – (b) praedonum (a) navem.

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 tantamne … lucem: –ne is an interrogative particle used in direct questions; it tends to attach itself to emphatic words (such as tantam here).

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 incredibilis ac divina virtus: Cicero endows this aspect of Pompey’s virtus with two elevating attributes: divina (‘divine’ or ‘god-like’) and incredibilis (‘defying belief’).

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 In the political culture of the Roman republic ‘godlikeness’ was not an unproblematic form of praise: ((This paragraph is based on Gildenhard (2011) 266-67.)) to elevate a specific individual above the rest of humanity was at variance with the principle of oligarchic equality that underwrote the senatorial regime of republican government. At the same time, many outstanding individuals – from Scipio Africanus Maior to Sulla and the young Caesar – staked claims to a special relationship with the gods, and Cicero’s panegyric of Pompey would have been flat if he had not explored Pompey’s relationship with the divine sphere. He does so most explicitly in the paragraphs on felicitas (§§ 47-48: see below), but also elsewhere in the speech, not least by strategically deploying the attribute divinus. Cicero ascribes Pompey’s success over Sertorius to his divinum consilium ac singularis virtus (§ 10) and the term recurs as attribute of his virtus both here and in § 36 (discussed below). ((Contrast § 20, where Cicero praises the virtus, assiduitas and consilium of Lucullus; unlike Pompey’s qualities, those of Lucullus’ come without distinguishing attributes.)) It is not easy to determine how Cicero wanted the attribute to be understood in each individual instance. The semantics of divinus range from the literal (pertaining to the divine sphere) to the metaphorical. In the latter sense divinus loses its association with the divine and becomes synonymous with more mundane markers of distinction such as praeclarus, eximius, or mirabilis. In some instances, it is obvious whether the usage is literal or metaphorical. In § 42, for instance, Cicero claims that Pompey was born divino quodam consilio to end all wars, clearly referring to some supernatural charter (to be discussed in more detail below). From an ideological point of view, such a passage is fairly unproblematic. While Pompey appears to be acting in accordance with the will of the gods, this kind of religious privilege stays short of the claim that he himself possesses supernatural powers. Suggestive ambiguities arise, however, when the adjective is made to refer not to the gods, but to human beings or their capacities, as is the case with Pompey’s divinum consilium and divina virtus. In those instances it remains unclear whether the literal or the metaphorical meaning of the attribute is in force. Whether Pompey’s exercise of judgement or his courage are truly divine, a gift from the gods, or merely outstanding is impossible to decide – and Cicero exploits this ambiguity for a panegyric that plays with fire while trying to avoid a conflagration: he nudges Pompey skywards without explicitly claiming divinity for him.

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 tam brevi tempore: Pompey cleared the Western Mediterranean of pirates in just 40 days and the Eastern Mediterranean in 49 days in the course of the summer of 67 BC.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 lucem adferre rei publicae: The phrase receives discussion by Kathryn Welch, in her study of light metaphors used in Roman public discourse: ‘The phrase lucem adferre is not a common one in Cicero. It is used on only one other occasion [Philippics 13.44] and there it serves to indicate the depths to which the res publica has sunk. … In both cases, the emphasis is on virtus placed at the disposal of the community for its greater good.’32

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 ante Oceani ostium: ante here is the preposition + accusative; Oceani ostium (literally: ‘the mouth of the Ocean’) refers to the strait of Gibraltar.

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Source: https://deimperio.theclassicslibrary.com/commentary/33-2/