"His distraction almost took the form of insanity." "His inconsistency was an incoherence." Never did a more wretched man than Cicero resort to Pompey's camp, where he remained until his cause was lost. He returned, after the battle of Pharsalia, a suppliant at the feet of Caesar, the conqueror. This, to me, is one of his weakest acts.
And the survival was all the stronger, because even in the late Republic the abundant supply of slaves enabled the man of capital still to dispense largely with the services of the tradesman and artisan. Cicero expresses this contempt for the artisan and trading classes in more than one striking passage.
IV. Cicero is engaged on some more than ordinary literary work. V. Pompey is visiting Cicero in his Cuman villa. In both of these periods Cicero was engaged on literary work; in the former on the de Oratore, in the latter on the de Republica. There is really no means of deciding between these two.
Virtue indeed so conspicuous as that of Cicero, studies so dignified, and oratorical powers so commanding, will always invest their possessor with a large portion of reputation and authority; and this is nowhere more apparent than in the enthusiastic welcome with which he was greeted on his return from exile.
Pusillanimity, and pretence, in regard to those Philippics in which he seems to have courted death by every harsh word that he uttered! The reader who has begun to think so must change his mind, and be prepared, as he progresses, to find quite another fault with Cicero.
They were provinces rich in plunder; and it was matter of importance for a Consul to know that the prey which should come to him as Proconsul should be worthy of his grasp. They were, therefore, ready to support the Tribune in what he proposed to do. It was necessary to Cicero's enemies that there should be some law by which Cicero might be condemned.
Att. i. 19, in 693. V. VII. Wars and Revolts There That we may not deem this course of things incredible, or even impute to it deeper motives than ignorance and laziness in statesmen, we shall do well to realize the frivolous tone in which a distinguished senator like Cicero expresses himself in his correspondence respecting these important Transalpine affairs.
On the very eve of civil war he tells Cicero that as soon as war breaks out the right thing to do is to join the stronger side. Judging Caesar's side to be the stronger, he joined it accordingly, and did his best to induce Cicero to do the same. As M. Boissier happily says, he never cared to "ménager ses transitions."
Cicero seems to have purchased Caesar's share, and to have looked on the property as a good investment. He began to build a villa here, but had little chance of using it. Across the bay, and just within view from the higher ground between Baiae and Cumae, lay the little town of Pompeii, under the sleeping Vesuvius.
Cicero himself had to thank his literary reputation in good part for the respectful treatment which he especially experienced from Caesar; but the governor of Gaul did not disdain to conclude a special peace even with Catullus himself through the intervention of his father who had become personally known to him in Verona; and the young poet, who had just heaped upon the powerful general the bitterest and most personal sarcasms, was treated by him with the most flattering distinction.