Cicero, Everitt | But What For Notes


Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician
Anthony Everitt
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  • Their loyalty was to their commanders, whom they expected to make the necessary arrangements, and not to the Republic. Unfortunately, land was in short supply… The state owned a good deal of land throughout Italy and in theory this could be distributed to returning soldiers or the urban unemployed, but much of it had been quietly appropriated by wealthy landowners. These eminent squatters were extremely difficult to dislodge. Many of them were Senators and they fiercely resisted any proposals for land reform.
    • Page 17
  • They learned the names of letters before their shapes, singing them in order backwards and forwards; they then graduated to combinations of two or three letters and finally to syllables and words. Knowledge was acquired through imitation and repetition, as with learning fencing or some other sport. Hence the Latin word for school, ludus, also means “game”.
    • Page 28
  • As his education proceeded, Circero met the full force of an inherent schizophrenia in Roman culture. There was a widespread belief that traditional values were being undermined by foreign immigrants. 
    • Page 34
  • “Victories in the field”, he commented, “count for little if the right decisions are not taken at home.” Seeing that the whole state was splitting up into factions, and that the result of this would be the unlimited power of one man, he retired into the life of a scholar and philosopher, going on with his studies and associating with Greek scholars.
    • Page 45
  • Personally, I am always very nervous when I begin to speak. Every time I make a speech I feel I am submitting to judgement, not only about my ability but my character and honor. I am afraid of seeming either to promise more than I can perform, or to perform less than I can, which suggests bad faith and indifference.
    • Page 58
  • Just as in the music of harps and flutes or in the voices of singers a certain harmony of the different tones must be maintained… so also a state is made harmonious by agreement among dissimilar elements. This is brought about by a fair and reasonable blending of the upper, middle and lower classes, just as if they were musical tones. What musicians call harmony in song is concord in a state.
    • Page 67
  • Privately, he mocked himself for “a certain foolish vanity to which  I am somewhat prone.”
    • Page 113
  • In the eyes of the Senate, the integrity of the constitution was at stake, and in particular the fundamental principle that no single member of the ruling class should be allowed to predominate. This was the cause for which the optimates had driven Pompey into the arms of Caesar and Crassus… The Senate acted in ways that made its worst fears likely to come to pass. It lost control of the domestic security situation and now found itself compelled to do what it most wanted to avoid: give yet another special command to Pompey. 
    • Page 153 
  • When the town fell, Caesar found about 50 Senators and equities in it, all of whom he released on condition that they not take arms against him again – an assurance many of them swiftly broke. This act of clemency had a huge impact on public opinion, which began to swing in his direction, and a number of optimates returned to Rome. Caesar maintained this policy of leniency for the rest of his life. He intended it as a vivid proof that he was no Sulla, set on the armed overthrow of the state.
    • Page 210
  • “I do not reject peace,” he said, “but I am afraid of war disguised as peace.”
    • Page 301