USem in Classical Civilization: Roy Gibson

Roy Gibson
Oxford University
Faculty House
Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 7:30pm

Pro Marcello without Caesar: Grief, Exile and Death in Cicero Ad Familiares 4

Book 4 of the Ad Familiares is invisible, non-existent, in the chronological editions and translations of Cicero’s correspondence that are most widely used in the Anglophone world. In this paper, I argue that the anonymous editor of Ad Familiares 4 has artfully compiled a unit that delivers a striking storyline and a cluster of thematic connections and developments that are both coherent and meaningful. All of Cicero’s correspondents in Ad Familiares 4 are united by the contemporaneous experience of exile or residence in Greece and the eastern Mediterranean after the outbreak of civil war in 49. The attempt by Cicero to obtain from Julius Caesar the pardon of Marcellus forms the central plank of the book. The optimism for the political future of Rome generated by the securing of his pardon is extinguished in the editor’s non-chronological scheme - twice: first by the death of Cicero’s beloved daughter Tullia in early 45; and then by the suspicious death of Marcellus himself. Grief, philosophy and consolation are recurring themes in the book, even before the demise of Tullia. These motifs are given both new force by her death and depth by the fusing of Cicero’s despair over Tullia with the anguish of the senatorial correspondents for the extinction of the res public. Find more information here.

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