BMCR 2005.09.11

Cronologia Ciceroniana. Seconda edizione aggiornata e corretta con nuova versione interattiva in cd-rom, a cura di Ermanno Malaspina

, , , Cronologia ciceroniana. Collana di studi ciceroniani ; 6. Bologna: Centro studi ciceroniani, 2004. 518 pages ; 24 cm + 1 CD-ROM.. ISBN 8855527738 €40.00 (pb).

We are fortunate to know more about Cicero’s life and works than about virtually any other ancient figure, thanks to the number of his speeches, rhetorical and philosophical writings, and letters that have survived. With all of this knowledge, though, there are still many vexing gaps, and it is hard to figure out exactly when a number of the speeches were delivered, or in what context a particular work or letter was composed. The second edition of Nino Marinone’s Cronologia Ciceroniana, updated and augmented by Ermanno Malaspina, is an important tool in the search for greater precision and knowledge of Cicero. As the title suggests, it is a chronology of Cicero’s life and writings, but this description scarcely reveals how rich a resource it is or how helpful it will be for all scholars working on Cicero. The first edition of Cronologia Ciceroniana appeared in 1997, but it was not as widely known as it deserved to be,1 and it is hoped that this will be corrected by the appearance of a newly updated and expanded edition, complete with a very useful CD-ROM.

Brief preliminary remarks (pp. 5-6) describe the purpose of the book: to identify, analyze, and assemble in a systematic way the chronological evidence related to Cicero, adhering strictly to chronology “without indulging in evaluating Cicero’s behavior, thought, or political activity.”2 The work achieves this goal admirably, and is divided into three main sections: “Repertorio” (pp. 15-49), “Date” (pp. 53-288), and “Calendario” (pp. 289-461).

The Repertorio serves as an overview of the book and consists of three parts: (A) a timeline of Cicero’s public and private life, as well as briefer timelines for members of his family (his first wife Terentia, daughter Tullia, son Marcus, second wife Publilia, brother Quintus, nephew Quintus, and cousin Lucius); (B) a list of Cicero’s works, listed alphabetically in three parallel columns under the headings “political activity,” “forensic activity,” and “literary activity,” complete with dates and cross-references corresponding to more detailed entries in the central section of the book; (C) a list of all of Cicero’s letters, arranged in alphabetical order beginning with the Letters to Atticus, also arranged in three parallel columns (those written by Cicero, those written by others to Cicero, and those written by one third party to another). As in section B, each letter of Cicero listed is assigned a date and cross-reference corresponding to a more detailed entry later in the work. The Repertorio thus gathers useful information in one place and provides a jumping off point for the more detailed information that follows.

The second section (“Date”) is the heart of the work. Here, arranged year by year beginning with 106 BCE, the year of Cicero’s birth, is a detailed inventory of Cicero’s life, works, and letters. The entry for each year begins with the year expressed in modern format (e.g., “anno 106 a.C.”), followed by the equivalent year in the Roman calendar (e.g., “648 di Roma”), an indication of how old Cicero was that year, the names of the consuls of that year, and then one, two, or three additional sections, depending on how much information we have about Cicero’s activities and writings for the year. These sections correspond to and expand on sections A, B, and C of the Repertorio. To get a better sense of the arrangement, it will be helpful to look at how Marinone and Malaspina present the eventful year of 63 BCE, the year of Cicero’s consulship (pp. 82-87). The heading gives the year (“anno 63 a.C.”), the equivalent year in the Roman calendar (“691 di Roma”), the corresponding year of Cicero’s life (“44 di età”), and the consuls of that year (M. Tullius Cicero, C. Antonius Hibrida). Then follows (pp. 82-84) section (A) “Public and Private Life,” a list of Cicero’s actions of that year arranged in chronological order, with a more precise indication of the season, month, or day, when known. Many entries in section (A) are annotated, listing ancient sources and modern accounts that help fix the date of the event or work. Here are the first two entries from section (A) of the year 63 BCE:

Cic. è console con C. Antonio Ibrida: Cael. 74; Sal. Cat. 24.1; Strab. 10,2,13; Plin. NH 8,213; Plut. Cic. 11,2; Ios. AI 14,66; Suet. Aug. 5; Flor. 2,1,5; DCass. 37,10,4; Eutrop. 6,15.

cf. Bailey 27-34; Büchner 168-191; Ciaceri 1,270-311; DG 5,455-566; Fuhrmann 91-103; Gelzer 71-104; Kumaniecki 181-234; Petersson 222-285.

gen: Cic. attacca la riforma agraria proposta dal tribuno della plebe P. Servilio Rullo: vd. B1

The first entry announces that Cicero was consul that year with C. Antonius Hibrida and cites ancient and modern sources that touch on the dating; the second indicates that in January (gen.) Cicero opposed agrarian reforms proposed by P. Servilius Rullus. As one can see even from this brief excerpt, this is a useful, annotated compendium of the events of Cicero’s life, accessible even to those not completely fluent in Italian. Following the list in section (A) of the events of 63, more details on specific works written that year are given in section (B) (pp. 85-87), again citing ancient sources and modern discussions that are relevant to dating and clearly indicating any variations in modern views about dating. As an example of how information is arranged in this section, here is the first entry in section B, dealing with Cicero’s de lege agraria :

B1) de lege agraria = contra Rullum
Quattro discorsi politici

1. 1 gen. in senato,
2. qualche giorno dopo al popolo,
3. qualche giorno dopo al popolo,
4. di cui resta solo testimonianza:

Att. 2,1,3; Pis. 4; Plin. NH 7,117; Plut. Cic. 12,5-6. Ed. Marek (T); Clark (OCT); Boulanger (BL); Bellardi 2 (UT); Freese (λ e per il quarto testimonianze in Puccioni D11 (CSC); Crawford (1) 18; Bellardi 2,1174 (UT). cf. Büchner 170-176; Ciaceri 1,199-207; DG 3,141. 5,456; Fuhrman 94-96; Gelzer 71-74; Kumaniecki 182-190; Mitchell 1,185; Petersson 222-233; Puccioni (1) 106; SH 1,419; Stockton 83-84.

Finally, for years (unlike the year 63 BCE) from which letters of Cicero survive, there is also a section (C) that lists the letters of that year, each annotated with an indication of any variations in the way modern editors have dated them.

The second major section of the Cronologia Ciceroniana ends not with the last year of Cicero’s life, but with an additional section (entitled “anno indeterminato”) dealing with the works and letters of Cicero that cannot be precisely dated. It includes a number of his poems (the Pontus Glaucus, Alcyones, Nilus, Marius, etc), verse and prose translations (the Aratea, Protagoras), speeches ( pro Roscio comoedo, pro Bestia, etc.), rhetorical and philosophical works ( de inventione, de auguriis, de legibus, etc. ), letters, and miscellaneous works. This section likewise lists ancient and modern passages that bear on the chronology of each these difficult-to-date works.

The third major section of the text, “Calendario”, presents an overview of the Roman calendar and divisions of the day. The brief introductory essay of this section explains the history and some of the intricacies of the Roman calendar. This is followed by a series of four tables: Table I presents the 24 divisions of the Roman day and indicates how they varied at the equinox and at the winter and summer solstices; Table II compares the differences in various proposed modern datings of the Roman calendar between the years 70-44 BCE; Table III lists the years in which intercalation did and did not occur between 70 and 44 BCE; and Table IV presents a complete list of each day between March 1, 70 BCE and February 28, 45 BCE, along with the corresponding date on the pre-Julian system and in “astronomical” terms. Table IV is very long (pp. 298-461), covering as it does each day in the Roman calendar from 70 to 45 BCE. Its major rationale in the overall project of the Cronologia Ciceroniana is to provide as accurate a framework as possible for dating the works of Cicero, especially the letters, which frequently can be dated to specific days.

The book ends with a comprehensive bibliography of modern works, and a section, new to the second edition, that contains additions to individual sections and to the bibliography. Last, but by no means least, a CD-ROM is enclosed in the inside back cover, Cronologia Ciceroniana in CD-ROM by Ermanno Malaspina. It is based on the book, but goes beyond it in significant ways. Designed for use with a PC (no Mac version is currently available) and with the main text in both Italian and German, it offers search and interactive features and contains much additional information. The most significant differences between print and electronic versions include some changes of content (e.g., a reassessment of the date of the marriage of Cicero’s brother Quintus), and the inclusion of a “repertorio prosopografico”, a list of persons mentioned in the book and CD along with details about their major dealings with Cicero and electronic links to their appearances in the main chronology. In addition, there is a greatly expanded and annotated general bibliography, a full series of files dealing with individual works or topics (e.g., “Un tempietto in memoria di Tullia”), a much fuller section on the letters, and some useful incidental material including maps and images. The CD-ROM is an important addition to the volume, and it is scarcely an exaggeration when Malaspina writes in the “Introduzione e guida” to the CD that while the printed version of the Cronologia Ciceroniana gives details about the ” quid, ubi, e quando“of Cicero’s life and work, the CD also allows exploration of ” quis, quibus auxiliis, cur e quomodo.

It would be hard not to be delighted and educated by this new print and CD-ROM version of the Cronologia Ciceroniana. Whether searching for a specific piece of information about Cicero or perusing the book or CD just for the joy of learning more about Cicero’s life and writings, one cannot help but discover something new about Cicero. The book and CD will be an indispensable aid to all students and scholars of Cicero as they explore different aspects of his work.


1. BMCR received a copy of the first edition for review in February 2000, three years after publication, although no review ever appeared. Several BMCR reviewers have mentioned the Cronologia Ciceroniana in their reviews of recent books on Cicero and suggested that the authors of the books under review would have benefited if they had had the opportunity to consult it.

2. “… senza indulgere a considerazioni sul comportamento, il pensiero e l’attività politica” (p.5).