Page images



logues one person, Socrates, is overwhelmingly prominent, but he constantly endeavours to drag the other personages into the discussion. Cicero, in most of his philosophical works (the Tusculan Disputations forms an exception more apparent than real) avoids the quick interchange of question and answer which is characteristic of Plato. Aristotle's dialogues were popular too than those of Plato, and therefore suited Cicero's purpose better; moreover, the style of Aristotle had been imitated by many writers, Theophrastus and others, down to Cicero's time, while the Platonic style had hardly met with any imitators.

The interlocutors in the dialogue. The chief speaker is GAIUS LAELIUS, the friend of the younger Africanus (not to be confounded with his father C. Laelius, the friend of the elder Africanus). This distinguished statesman, soldier, and man of letters was born about 186 B.C., was plebeian tribune in 151 (see below, p. 15, n. 5); performed heroic exploits as an officer of Scipio the rd Punic War; was praetor in 145*, and commanded an army against Viriathus with success; in 141 failed as a candidate for the consulship, though supported by Scipio, but in 140 succeeded. He also held the office of auguro. During the greater part of his life he was a strong supporter of the aristocratic party, and towards the end of it stoutly opposed the schemes of Ti. Gracchus and those of his partisans after his death.

Laelius was not only one of the greatest patrons of literature Rome ever saw, but was himself a man of high culture, and great ability as a speaker and writer. He was widely read in philosophy, particularly the Stoic. His Latin style was so good that the plays of his friend Terence, admired for the purity of their Latinity, were by many ascribed in whole or in part to him. Some of his speeches were extant in Cicero's time, and were, on the whole, admired by him?

1 On the whole subject of Aris- 8 Lael. 77, 96, etc. totle's dialogues see Bernays' well- 4 Lael. 7; Phil. 2, 83. known monograph, die Dialoge des

6 Lael. 36–39. Aristoteles.

6 Ad Atticum 7, 3, 10. 2 See n. on Lael. 96.

7 Cicero speaks of one speech Cicero everywhere speaks in the most eulogistic terms of Laelius' character. All authorities were unanimous as to his unswerving rectitude?. His self-control and moderation were remarkable? Like Socrates, he never shewed in his face throughout life the effect produced on his mind by changes of fortunez. His gentleness and affability were great*. His cheerfulness and humour were famous.

During his life and after his death Laelius bore the title sapiens or 'the wise,' a title which implies more of practical than intellectual wisdom, though it would not have been given to any one who was destitute of culture and literary excellence. Altogether Laelius is Cicero's typical example of the best results of cultivation acting on a character which exhibited in their fullest extent the ideal Roman virtues. He is introduced as an interlocutor into two other dialogues, the Cato maior (De senectute) and the De re publica (along with Scipio, Fannius, and Scaevola).

The friendship of Laelius and Scipio was one of the most famous in antiquity. Laelius, says Cicero, reverenced Scipio as a god; Scipio looked up to Laelius (his senior) as a parent?. The views of friendship which Laelius gives in the dialogue are said by him to be mainly those of Scipio.

The other interlocutors are the two sons-in-law of Laelius, Q Mucius Scaevola8 and Gaius Fannius. Scaevola belonged to a family of lawyers', and was himself exceedingly distinguished for his knowledge of the law. He was born about 157 and

as aureola oratiuncula (N. D. 3, 43) though of another as vetustior et horridior (Brut. 83).

1 Cic. Topica 78; Lael. passim. 2 Arch. 16.

3 Off. 1, 90.

Ti. Gracchus c. 8, has the un-
likely story that the title sapiens
was given to Laelius, because
having proposed an agrarian law
while tribune in 151 he had the
good sense to withdraw it in order
to prevent civil discord.
? De re publica 1, 18.

augur not pontifex; see n. on $1.

9 De Or. 1, 39 iura civilia in nostra (Scaevolarum) familia dir versata sunt.

4 Mur. 66; cf. Horace's mitis sapientia Laeli. 5 Off. 1, 108; De Or. 2, 22.

6 In addition to the passages in the Laelius, cf. Off. 2, 40 Laelius is qui sapiens usurpatur, also Brut. 213; Tusc. 4, 5. Plutarch, life of


lived till 88 B.C. In 121 he was praetor, after - which he was governor of Asia. On his return a malicious prosecution was set on foot against him on a charge of malversation (repetundarum), but on this he was acquitted. Soon afterwards he was elected consul for the year 117. He seems to have had but little of political ambition, though owing to his high character and his freedom from partisanship he exercised in the senate and in private a great political influence. His house was daily thronged by the leading men of Rome?.

The wit as well as the learning of Scaevola was renowned, and he was noted for sweetness and affability of demeanour3. Cicero, who was in early life placed under his guardianship, along with Atticus, always speaks of him with great affection and admiration. Scaevola appears also as one of the interlocutors in the De oratore and in the De re publica (along with Scipio and Laelius).

Gaius Fannius served with distinction under Scipio in the Third Punic War. He and Tiberius Gracchus were the first to mount the walls of Carthage when it was stormed. He served again in Spain, but seems not to have been successful in political life. He was a man of considerable cultivation and literary activity, and wrote a history, the style of which is very faintly praised by Cicero though its accuracy was highly estimated by Sallust. His character seems to have been somewhat severe4. He appears with Scipio and Laelius and Scaevola as one of the interlocutors in the De re publica.

f. The Scipionic circle. The age of the younger Africanus was remarkable for the rapid spread of Hellenism among the educated Romans. Scipio formed the centre of a great and influential circle composed partly of Roman admirers of Greek art and literature, partly of Greek and Latin men of letters. Hellenism had been powerful for many generations in Latin literature and in social life, but in the Hellenism of the Scipionic circle not only were old tendencies quickened, but a new and

1 De Or. 1, 200; Phil. 8, 31.

Att. 4, 16, 3. 3 De Or. I, 234.

· Brut. 101, where Cicero speaks of a coolness between Fannius and Laelius.

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 şu 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


R. L.

ability, that in 148, when he was only a candidate for the aedileship, the laws were suspended in order to elect 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 to the 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 ότις 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 room. 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.

« PreviousContinue »