« PreviousContinue »
important influence was added, that of the Greek philosophy. Although the wisdom of the Greeks was known in part to the Romans at a much earlier time its practical power over them dates from the famous Athenian embassy of 153 B.C. composed of the three great philosophers Carneades the Academic, Diogenes the Stoic, and Critolaus the Peripatetic. After this time all the Greek systems struck root at Rome, but by far the greatest influence was exerted by Stoicism, of which nearly all the members of Scipio's society had a more or less strong tincture. Thus Scipio himself was devoted to the society of the Stoic philosopher Panaetius; Laelius had learned Stoicism both from Panaetius and Diogenes. There are many tinges of Stoicism traceable in our dialogue. These noble Romans, however, adopted the Stoic philosophy more on account of its utility in supplying a foundation for theories of law and government than as a form of faith. The Stoicism they professed was also a Stoicism deprived of its paradoxes and specially adapted to Roman tastes. In this form it ultimately exercised a profound influence on the national life of Rome.
Though the prevalent bent of the Scipionic circle was towards Stoicism, it was far from rejecting the society of those who adhered to other systems. Thus Clitomachus, the New Academic, was the friend of many Romans of high station in his time.
On the literary side the circle of Scipio and Laelius was strong. To it belonged Polybius, the great historian, Lucilius the satirist, and the dramatists Terence and Pacuvius, with many others scarcely less distinguished.
We cannot here give any detailed account of the persons who formed this brilliant society, but must confine ourselves to such information as is necessary to illustrate the Laelius. In § 11 of the dialogue we have some of the chief events of Scipio's life indicated. Born in 185 B.C., the son of L. Aemilius Paullus the conqueror of Macedonia, he became the adopted son of the son of the elder Africanus, just before the outbreak of the Third Punic War. His services in a subordinate position in that war, as well as in previous wars, produced such a conviction of his
ability, that in 148, when he was only a candidate for the aeditei ship, the laws were suspended in order to eled him consul and place him in command of the army before Carthage. At the end of his year of office his command was prolonged for another year, during
the course of which he took Carthage and reduced Africa toʻthe condition of a Roman province. In 142 he was censor, and in 134, though not a candidate, was elected to the consulship and put in command of the Roman army then besieging the city of Numantia in Spain. The war of which this siege formed a part had been going on for some years most disastrously for the Romans, but Scipio speedily brought it to a conclusion in 133 B.C. While before Numantia he received the news of the murder of Ti. Gracchus, whose sister he had married and whose cousin he had become by adoption, but whose policy he had on the whole opposed, though he had occasionally coquetted with the democrats. He merely quoted the Homeric line ως απόλοιτο και άλλος στις τοιαύτά γε ρέζοι, so may een another perish, whoso dares such deeds as he.' On his return to Rome Scipio strongly resisted the democratic proposals of Carbo and the other leaders of the party of the Gracchi. In 129 B.C. a most violent scene occurred in the senate between him and Carbo in consequence of a proposal made by Scipio which was intended to render the execution of the great agrarian law of Ti. Gracchus impracticable. At the end of the sitting he was escorted triumphantly home by a crowd mainly composed of Latins and Italians, whose properties were threatened by the law. In the morning he was found dead in his
Opinion in Rome was at the time and remained divided as to the cause of his death. In the Laelius the death is assumed to have been from natural causes? Elsewhere however Cicero adopts the views of many of Scipio's friends that Carbo murdered him?. Carbo afterwards lent colour to the suspicions by putting himself to death, in order, as was supposed, to avoid a direct prosecution. Even Gaius Gracchus was in ancient times suspected of having thus avenged his
1 For the interpretation of $ 41 2 De Or. 2, 170; Fam. 9, 21, 3; see my nn, there.
Qu. Fr. 2, 3, 3.
brother's death, but no modern scholar of any rank has countenanced the suspicion.
I proceed to speak of some other friends of Scipio who are mentioned in our dialogue. Chief of these is L. Furius Philus, consul of the year 136, a man of great knowledge, ad high character, and a friend and patron of Greek literatt. He is thought worthy by Cicero to rank beside Cato and Laelius, and is one of the interlocutors in the De re publica.
P. Rupilius was consul in 132 and exercised great severity against the partisans of Ti. Gracchus. His consulship is said to have been due to the aid of Scipio3. He commanded in Sicily against the insurgent slaves and established a code of laws for the administration of that province.
M'. Manilius4, consul in 149, commanded in Africa for some time against the Carthaginians with Scipio as one of his officers. He was a very eminent lawyer, and a close friend of Laelius and Scipio, appearing in the De re publica along with them.
Spurius Mummius“ seems to have been a very different man from his brother the destroyer of Corinth. He had both wit and literary ability, which recommended him to the very intimate friendship of Scipio, with whom he is joined in Cicero's De re publica. When, to secure Scipio's safety, the senate dispatched him on an embassy to Asia, Mummius was his companion. Mummius spent some time in Achaia as legatus to his brother and thence sent witty epistles in verse to his friends at home. Apparently he was unpopular and unsuccessful as a politician and devoted himself to study, becoming a strong Stoic. We hear of him that he was particularly noted for his detestation of the teachers of Rhetoric.
$ 4. Summary of the dialogue. A. Chap. I. Dedication to Atticus. B.
II.-IV. Prelude to the dialogue. C. Chap. V.-XXVI. Discourse of Laelius. D. XXVII. Epilogue.
A. § 1. Cicero's acquaintance with the Scaevolae. § 2. Scaevola, the augur, happened to speak one day of a notorious quarrel between two quondam friends, P. Sulpicius Rufus and Q. Pompeius. [Sulpicius was originally on the aristocratic side, but being plebeian tribune in 88 B.C., he became a tool of Marius and proposed some revolutionary laws. His former friend Pompeius was consul, and vigorously opposed him. In a fight, the son of Pompeius was slain; after which Sulla entered the city with an army and Sulpicius was killed.] $ 3. This led Scaevola to report a conversation concerning friendship which Laelius had held with his two sons-in-law, Scaevola himself and Fannius. This conversation Cicero has freely rendered. § 4. The work is done at the request of Atticus, and is now presented to him, as the Cato maior had been. Cato was the most suitable Roman to speak of old age; and Laelius, whose intimacy with Scipio was far-famed, to speak of friendship. $ 5. The whole speech of Laelius will remind Atticus of his own characteristics as a friend. The conversation takes place a few days after the death of Africanus the younger (129 B.C.).
B. $$ 6, 7. Fannius. “All men are asking how you, Laelius, whom men call wise by a better title than that of Cato, bear the death of your friend. It was remarked that you missed the meeting of the augurs lately.'
S$ 8—10. Scaevola. “I have told inquirers that your health, and not your sorrow, prevented you from attending.'
Laelius. 'Right; no private reason must ever withdraw a consistent man from his duty. You are wrong, Fannius, about Cato. If ever any man deserved the title wise, he did.'
$S 10–12. 'I am indeed touched by Scipio's death, but the sting is removed by the thought that I only, not Scipio, am the sufferer. His life was splendid, his death was happily speedy; he closed his days in a blaze of glory. $$ 13--15. In spite of new-fangled philosophies, I believe, with our forefathers and with Socrates, that the soul lives after death. Scipio believed so too, and as though he felt death coming, treated of the matter at the end of a three days' discourse on the best form of government, which he held a few days before he died. He then recited a communication he had received in a dream from the elder Africanus. [The Somniuni Scipionis formed the greater part of the VIth book of Cicero's work De re publica, and has come down to us entire. Early in this century Cardinal Mai discovered a manuscript containing considerable portions of the remainder of the work. Cicero intended the book to give a picture of the ideal statesman in the person of Scipio.] Even if death extinguishes the soul, it does no harm. It is therefore well with Scipio, however it be. My life has been happy because I lived it with Scipio, and I care more for the memory of our friendship to remain for all time, than I do for my name sapiens to which I have no just claim.'
§ 16. Fannius. “Both Scaevola and myself would be delighted if you would tell us what you think of the nature of friendship and what maxims you lay down for its regulation.'
C. The discourse of Laelius may be divided into five portions.
1. $$ 17-25. Preliminary.
C, 1. Laelius complies with the request of his sons-in-law but says less than they expected and desired.
Laelius. § 17. 'I am no Greek philosopher; therefore scarce equal to the serious task you impose. I can only give you a practical exhortation to value friendship above all human possessions, SS 18, 19. Friendship is only possible between good men. I use the term in its popular sense, not in its Stoic
Men of high morality I call good.—There are various grades in association, as between citizens and citizens, citizens