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HE letters in this volume (April, B.C. 51-June, B.C. 49) find Cicero on the point of starting to his province of Cilicia, in which he was to succeed Appius Claudius Pulcher, the elder brother of his old enemy Publius Clodius. The circumstances in which he had been, against his will, constrained to undertake this duty, have been noticed in the introduction to the first volume. From the very first he disliked the idea of it, and especially shrank from a prolonged absence from Rome.
The district known as Cilicia is a narrow country between Mount Taurus and the sea, falling naturally The Province of into two divisions, near the city of Soli-on the west Cilicia Aspera, on the east Cilicia Campestris, separated from the province of Syria by Mount Amanus. The Romans had first been brought into connexion with Cilicia Aspera in their efforts to put down the piracy in the Eastern Mediterranean in the year B.C. 103. For some years it was a provincia in the sense of a military command, rather than an organized province. But this command was held by a number of able men who had gradually reduced it to the regular form of a Roman province, adding to it various neighbouring districts. Its extent and organized administration, as found by Cicero, dated from the Asian settlement of Pompey, after the Mithridatic war in B.C. 64. It now consisted of five parts, Cilicia, Aspera and Campestris, Pisidia, Isauria, Lycaonia. But to these had been added, temporarily, three "dioceses" in Phrygia-Laodicea, Apamea, and Synnada-and the island of Cyprus, after its reduction by Cato in B.C. 58. The province thus contained a population some of whom, not long before, had been addicted to piracy and brigandage. They had, indeed, been to a great extent civilized, or at any rate forced to refrain from their old way of life, by forty years of
Roman administration; but sudden returns to old habits were by no means unlikely or unknown, and the mountain district of Amanus especially contained robber tribes likely to cause trouble, and for victories over whom Cicero so long expected a triumph. His year of office, however, with this exception, passed off quietly. He had been alarmed when starting for it by the report that the Parthians—after their victory over Crassus in B.C. 53-were on the point of invading the neighbouring province of Syria, and might, if they succeeded there, attack his own province. Even if this latter did not happen, he would be bound, he thought, to go to the assistance of Bibulus in Syria, if he were hard pressed.
We shall see in the letters how these fears were falsified, and how-with the one exception of the short campaign on Amanus-Cicero was engaged mostly in the more peaceful duty of holding the assizes (conventus) in the head towns of the several districts in his province. The letters, however, give us the most detailed account we possess Cicero's Staff of the staff of a provincial governor, and of and their Journey to the Province. the conditions in which he and they performed their functions, and the pressure put upon them to use their powers in the interests of the rich men at Rome, who made their profit by provincial loans at exorbitant interest. Among such men we are rather surprised to find Pompey and M. Brutus, the latter being especially usurious and urgent. Cicero's staff consisted of four legati-his brother Quintus, L. Tullius, C. Pomptinus, who had been a prætor in Cicero's consulship, and had since distinguished him against the Allobroges, and Marcus Anneius; his quæstor, L. Mescinius Rufus; his secretary, M. Tullius; and the usual number of præfecti named by the proconsul, sometimes as a compliment and sometimes for actual service, and other officials such as interpreter, marshal, lictors, etc. He was also accompanied by his son and nephew, with their tutor, besides freedmen and slaves. Among the freedmen the chief place in his favour was held by Tiro, who afterwards collected and edited the letters. The progress of this large company lasted nearly three months. It included a stay of some ten days at Athens, where Cicero renewed his acquaintance with many of the philosophical professors, and
was ended, as far as sea voyaging was concerned, at Ephesus. The actual province was entered at Laodicea on the 31st of July, though deputations of various sorts met him at Ephesus with representations of certain grievances awaiting reform in Cilicia. It is a significant comment upon the heavy burden that these progresses inflicted on the provinces, that Cicero continually boasts of the fact that his staff were contented with the provision supplied by the exchequer, and made no requisition upon the towns through which they past, even to the extent allowed by the Julian law. Whether this was as completely the case as Cicero believed at the time, appears to have been somewhat more doubtful to him later on; but there seems no question that, on the whole, his staff behaved well.
The letters from Cilicia are in some respects less interesting than those of an earlier and later period. Letters to Appius There are several very long ones to his preClaudius. decessor, Appius Claudius, which an evident want of sincerity makes rather tiresome. Appius had been an extortionate and oppressive governor : that Cicero shews in his confidential letters to Atticus to have been his opinion; and he certainly interfered to prevent some of the cities from incurring the expense of sending laudatory embassies to Rome to support him in his claim of a triumph, and when accused of extortion by Dolabella. But for some reason or other Cicero was anxious to stand well with Appius, and these elaborate letterswhich begin by expressing a sore feeling at Appius having avoided meeting him when entering the province-are devoted to explaining away his action as to the embassies, and reconciling it with his somewhat fulsome expressions of friendship. Later on he has also to explain away the fact that, just at the time that Dolabella was beginning the prosecution of Appius, he was married to Cicero's own daughter. The result is a number of letters evidently written under considerable embarrassment, and altogether wanting in sincerity or spontaneity. The same may be almost said of two of the three letters to Cato (CCXXXVII and CCLXXXVII). The former of these is a very fine composition, and gives a graphic account of Cicero's proceedings; but it is a state
Letters to Cato.
paper rather than a private letter; and the latter is an elaborate attempt to conceal-what yet is plain in every line-Cicero's soreness at Cato's opposition to the supplicatio, which he had got his friends to propose in the senate on receipt of his despatch detailing his successes in Amanus. It is therefore stiff and frigid. The letters to ATTICUS of this period have many of the characteristics of the others, but they too seem to suffer from lack of interesting matter, and the imperfect communication with the centre of affairs at Rome. Endless reiteration of his desire that Atticus should exert his influence to prevent the extension of the proconsular government beyond his year, mixed with complacent accounts of his military achievements and the purity of his administration, rather pall after a time. But there is one very significant incident, fully detailed in Letters CCXLIX and CCLI, which throws a lurid light upon the transactions of capitalists at Rome, and the unscrupulous support which they often got from provincial governors.
When Cicero arrived in his province he heard that a certain Scaptius, holding office as præfectus The affair of the under his predecessor Appius, had been at Salamis, in Cyprus, with a squadron of cavalry, which he had employed to coerce the town councillors to pay a large sum of money, with forty-eight per cent. interest, which had been lent them some years before. He had gone the length of shutting up the councillors in their council chamber so long, that some of them had actually died from starvation. Cicero immediately ordered the squadron of cavalry to quit Cyprus, and when applied to by Scaptius refused to appoint him a præfectus, on the ground that he had made it a rule not to appoint any man præfectus who was carrying on financial business within the province. He found, however, that Scaptius was being backed by M. Brutus, and for the sake of the latter he undertook to see that the Salaminians paid the amount of their just debt, but only with the legal (compound) interest at twelve per cent., to which he had declared in his "edict" that interest recoverable in his court was to be confined. The Salaminians offered that amount, which Scaptius refused. Cicero thereupon declined
to interfere any farther, and therefore Scaptius, not having now any official power at his back, could not get the money. But soon afterwards Cicero discovered, to his surprise, that the real creditor was M. Brutus himself, who all along had been writing in an arrogant and offensive tone. Cicero, however, stuck to his point: he would order the payment with twelve per cent. interest, but not with forty-eight per cent. Whether Atticus was unacquainted with the true facts, or was overawed by the high position of Brutus, at any rate he seems to have himself urged Cicero to gratify the latter. It is not a dignified position for Brutus, the philosopher and patriot.
But if Cicero's letters from his province are not quite up to some others in interest, one of his correM. Cælius Rufus. spondents has left us some very lively and piquant descriptions of affairs at Rome during Cicero's absence. This is M. Cælius Rufus. He had promised to keep Cicero posted in all political and social affairs, and, to do so, had employed some clerks to collect and write out for his benefit a kind of gazette of news and scandals, which he supplemented by a good many letters of his own writing. As specimens of style and Latinity they do not reach a high standard, but as depicting the character of an unscrupulous man about town, who also had political ambitions and some cleverness-fairly representative of the younger men of the revolutionary period-they possess great value. M. CÆlius Rufus, born in B.C. 82, the son of a rich negociator, had in early youth been placed by his father under the patronage of Cicero to acquire the knowledge of oratory and public affairs. After having also been in the province of Africa on the staff of Q. Pompeius Rufus (B.C. 61), he began to seek political advancement in the usual way, by prosecuting a prominent personage, C. Antonius, for connivance with Catiline and malversation in Macedonia, and secured his condemnation, though defended by Cicero himself. Thus Cælius, who had himself been a friend of Catiline's, and suspected of having been involved in his guilt, seems now to have taken sides with the Optimates. His official career begins with the quæstorship in B.C. 58 or 57, but he could go no farther till his tribuneship of B.C. 52, when he supported the cause of Milo. In the interval he