BMCR 2007.03.35

Cicéron. Discours (Tome 1.2): Pour Sextus Roscius. “Nouvelle édition”

François Hinard, Yasmina Benferhat, Cicéron. Discours (Tome 1.2): Pour Sextus Roscius. "Nouvelle édition". Paris: Les belles lettres, 2006. cviii, 111. €35.00.

2 Responses

This new edition replaces the Budé (“Les belles lettres”) text of H. de la Ville de Mirmont of 1921, itself revised twice by Jules Humbert, with a third edition in 1960 including legal notes by Edouard Cuq, and a corrected edition in 1973. Hinard has revised de la Ville de Mirmont’s translation towards a more colloquial, contemporary idiom (or so this reader judges) and composed a new, extensive introduction. Benferat has supplied explanatory end notes. The Latin text itself largely follows de la Ville de Mirmont (see below) and is bolstered by a select critical apparatus. This edition is also new in a different sense: the several editions of de la Ville de Mirmont included Cicero’s pro Quinctio and the pro Roscio comoedo. Here we have solely Cicero’s earliest causa publica, of 80 BCE (Cic. Brutus 312, cf. 314: “… et iam in foro celebratum meum nomen esset”; Aulus Gellius NA 15.28.1-3). Hinard’s edition includes a select bibliography and an index of proper names appearing in the oration.

Where stands this new edition in the editorial tradition of Ciceronian texts? Modern study of the textual tradition of this oration begins with A.C. Clark’s identification of copies of the Cluny manuscript Poggio Bracciolini sent to Florence in 1415, where it disappeared after Poggio’s death. The fruit of Clark’s labor was displayed in his Oxford Classical Text of vol. I of Cicero’s orations (1905; corrected edition: 1908).1 An index of the impact of Clark’s OCT may be seen in texts revised, and new, after Clark had explained the correct manuscript tradition.2 Gustav Landgraf had offered a “Kommentar zu Ciceros Rede pro Sex. Roscio Amerino” in a school edition of 1882; once Clark’s studies were published, Landgraf revised his Kommentar as an “editio maior”, reissued in 1914 (Leipzig Teubner) in a second edition. Landgraf included no Latin text; his commentary focused primarily on language, style, rhetorical structure, and extensive citation of parallels. In his revised edition, however, Landgraf paid full attention to Clark’s labor, while attempting to differentiate his base text from that of the Oxonian master.3 E.H. Donkin edited an useful edition, Cicero: Pro Roscio Amerino (London 1879), with a text based on Karl Halm’s eighth Teubner edition of 1877; Donkin substantially revised his introduction and text in 1916, after the appearance of Clark’s OCT.4 De la Ville de Mirmont’s edition of 1921, while retaining its own personality, was explicitly based on Clark’s OCT; thus also H. Kasten, Teubner Cicero fasc. 8 (1968), with a very full critical apparatus, clear description of the manuscript tradition, and excellent indices.

Hinard has expanded de la Ville de Mirmont and Humbert’s critical apparatus with a more extensive report of manuscript variants and modern conjectures. His apparatus is not as full as that of Kasten, but sufficient to indicate the textual tradition of this oration. Hinard’s revisions to the text presented by de la Ville de Mirmont and Humbert and by Kasten are conservative. For example:

Rosc. Amer. 98: Hinard and the codices read: “…coniectura capienda sit?” Madvig proposed “…capienda est/ capiendast”, followed by Clark, de la Ville de Mirmont, and Kasten. (but prodelision is not prominent in this oration.)

99: Hinard, Kasten, and de la Ville de Mirmont follow the manuscripts in reading “quid erat quod Capitonem primum scire voluerit?” Ernesti, followed by Clark, read “…scire vellet?”; Mueller suggested “…scire voluit.”

143: Hinard and the codices: “sed Roscius horum nihil indignum putat…” Madvig corrected to “Sex. Roscius”; Clark, de la Ville de Mirmont, and Kasten accepted. Hinard’s preference makes sense for two reasons: Cicero is indeed spare with praenomina in this oration; the adversative “sed” is sensible in context.

This reviewer notes that Hinard’s treatment of the manifest lacuna at the end of 132 is properly conservative.

Cicero describes in dramatic manner his version of the circumstances of this case ( Rosc. Amer. 15-29). The defendant was in Umbrian Ameria when his father was murdered at Rome. Various relatives convinced Sulla’s potent freedman, L. Cornelius Chrysogonus, to place the deceased’s name on the proscription lists, months after the proscription had ended on 1 June 81 ( Rosc. Amer. 128). The family properties (thirteen fundi) were then purchased at a considerable discount by Chrysogonus. One relative received three properties; another controlled as agent for Chrysogonus the remaining ten. Roscius the son was thus deprived of his inheritance; the sordid municipal feud was to be played out at Rome by the son’s trial for patricide.

Hinard’s interest in the pro Sext. Rosc. Amer. is long-standing. He had much to say of the Sullan proscription and Cicero’s defense of Sextus Roscius in Les Proscriptions de la Rome républicaine (CEFR 83) Rome 1985 (e.g., pp. 142-50, 192-99).5 Here, Hinard offers a rich introduction on political institutions and circumstances (e.g., Sulla’s dictatorship and his proscription 6), institutions (the quaestio inter sicarios), and the personalities involved in Roscius’ judicial travail. Hinard’s discussion of those personalities is informative, but while Hinard sketches well (XLIV-VI) Cicero’s attack on Chrysogonus, the presumably evil manipulator of Roscius’ problems, more may be said.

First, many years after this oration, in his Paradoxa Stoicorum (46 BCE, Cicero castigated the activities of the profiteers of the “Sullanum tempus”: “dimissiones libertorum ad defendas diripiendasque provincias…cum servis, cum libertis, cum clientibus societates.” Context indicates that the reference is to M. Licinius Crassus, but the description, in large part, could apply as well to Chrysogonus. Note, from this oration alone, the freedman’s unsavory societas with the Roscii, his own familia, and retainers ( Rosc. Amer. 20-23, 120-1, 133f., e.g.). One wonders whether Chrysogonus was among those liberti Sullae who headed their own collegium.7

Second, Cicero asserts that Chrysogonus was “potentissimus hoc tempore nostrae civitatis” (6). That assertion looks to be a rhetorical exaltation of one soon to be brought low. In attacking Chrysogonus, Cicero distances the sometime dictator from the circumstances of the case (21): surely the dictator knew nothing of these events; a “magna familia”was apt to have a slave or freedman gone awry. In appealing to consul Sulla to uphold the law in the face of outrageous misconduct (22), “the ambitious young man knew what Sulla would want to hear”.8 Hinard (LIII-VII) prefers, it seems, to view this oration as a critique of Sulla. Cicero himself, much later in his career, certainly portrayed his defense of Roscius as a brave act (“…contra L. Sullae dominantis opes pro Sex. Roscio Amerino fecimus”: de officiis 2.51) and no doubt it was, but those whom Cicero names as active supporters of Roscius were of families whom the Sullan regime supported and on whom it relied (135-36): Consider the standing of Roscius’ supporters: Caecilia Metella (147-9), daughter of Metellus Baliaricus, cos. 123; a P. Scipio (15, 77): either Scipio Nasica the praetor of 93 or his son, the future consul of 52; a Valerius Messalla (148-9): the consul of 61 (so Hinard, XLI, prefers) or probably the consul of 53 (D.R. Shackleton Bailey, Onomasticon to Cicero’s Speeches, rev. second ed. [Teubner 1992]: 96). Youthful defenders would not be unlikely: thus did the young politician make his name known. Compare the failed prosecution (in 79) of M. Aemilius Lepidus, for his depredations in Sicily, by Metellus Celer, consul in 60, and by Metellus Nepos, consul in 57 (Cic. II Verr. 3.212, with Pseudo-Asconius 187 & 259 ed. Stangl). The causa nobilitatis could be secured by making an example of a freedman. Profiteers such as Crassus ( Plutarch Crassus 2 & 6.6-7) might be rebuked by the dictator, but not subjected to the ordeal of a judicial spectacle.9

Hinard also treats of oratorical strategies and offers a straightforward, helpful outline analysis of the speech. Discussion follows of certain key words: fides, ius, monstrum, crudelitas. The discussion owes much to J. Hellegourac’h, Le vocabulaire latin des relations et des partis politiques sous la république (Paris: 1963; second ed. 1972): fides: 23-41; ius: 546-7. The discussion of monstrum (LXXIV-V) is somewhat peculiar. Monstrum is not part of the political vocabulary Cicero employs in this speech. Cicero speaks of “portentum atque monstrum certissimum” when dilating on the crime of parricide (63; see also Val. Max. 8.1.13) : portentum atque monstrum because the crime disturbed the human and divine order (64: “omnia divina atque humana iura scelere nefario polluisset”), thus requiring expiation. Hence, the archaic punishment of the culleus famously described by Modestinus ( Dig. 48.8.9).10 But Cicero does not apply monstrum to any personality involved in this case. Cicero’s comment may have been prompted by the prosecution’s labeling of Sextus Roscius, an accused parricide, as a “monstrum”, but we do not know that.

In a note on translation (lxxxix) Hinard considers whether improbus should (still) be appositely translated as “voyou” (street-urchin, hooligan, criminal—to go no further into Parisian negative connotations concerning, especially, third-world street folk). Is this really correct? Improbus (cf. Hellegouarc’h: 528-30—not that his citations were complete or accurate) in republican political discourse meant “he who is not reliable in my estimate, hence, he who does not deserve my fides.” Furthermore, Hinard’s own translation of “libertus improbus” as “affranchi malhonnête” (21) seems to me more appropriate; see also 130 for “liberti nequam et improbi” = “affranchis vauriens et malhonnêtes”; 38: “tam improbus” = (in context, quite apt) “un lâche”.

In sum: the editors warrant our thanks for an informative introduction to, and translation of, a text well-established. Publisher and printer deserve praise for a clearly-printed text economically priced. What would have made this elegantly produced and printed volume more useful would be two elements present in Kasten’s Teubner edition: an index incorporating Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll prosopographic entries (and, where relevant, references to Broughton’s Magistrates of the Roman Republic) and a complete set of testimonia (cf. Kasten, XII-XIV).

[For a response to this review by Yasmina Benferhat, please see 2007.03.40.]

[For a response to this review by François Hinard, please see 2007.04.02.]


1. See Clark’s preface to his OCT: iii-xiii, a summary of what he explained clearly in “The vetus Cluniacensis of Poggio…,” Anecdota Oxoniensia 10 (1905); see also the synopsis by M.D. Reeve and R.H. Rouse, Texts and Transmission. A Survey of the Latin Classics (ed. L.D. Reynolds; Oxford 1983): 88-91.

2. J. Freese’s Loeb edition (Cicero VI: 1930) cites Clark’s OCT, but relies on older Teubner editions.

3. Thus: at Rosc. Amer. 11, Clark reported (from the paradosis) “te quoque magno opere, M. Fanni, quaeso”; Landgraf suggested “te magno opere quaeso, M. Fanni”—perhaps correctly: see Cicero ad Fam. 3.2.1: “a te maximo opere…etiam atque etiam quaeso et peto”; at 49: Clark: “id erit ei maxime fraudi”; Landgraf: “id erit ei maximae fraudi”—but his parallels do not prove his adjectival case; at 105: Clark: “ei plerumque indicant”; Landgraf: “ii plerumque indicant”—not a particularly significant orthographic alternative.

4. Donkin’s edition has, of course, dated bibliographic references, but retains considerable instructional value. It is now available in a Bolchazy-Carducci/Bristol Classical Press 1987 economical reprint.

5. See Robin Seager’s judicious review in Classical Review 37 (1987): 248-50.

6. But add to the bibliography on χξ Umberto Laffi’s, “Il mito di Silla,” Athenaeum 45 (1967): 177-213, 255-77.

7. We miss reference in Hinard to, and consideration of, Susan Treggiari’s measured discussion in Roman Freedmen during the late Republic (Oxford 1969): 181-4. The Sullan liberti (numbering 10,000: Appian BC I.100 (469), with Gabba’s commentary ed. 2 [1967]: 275-6) may have been organized into various collegia: see Degrassi, ILLRP 353 (= ILS 871): these “leiberteini” who dedicated to “Sulla dictator” at Minturnae may have been members of a collegium, possibly of Marius’ former slaves.

8. E. Badian, “Lucius Sulla: the deadly reformer,” Todd Memorial Lecture (Sydney 1970), reprinted in Essays on Roman Culture (ed. A.J. Dunston; Toronto 1976): 59.

9. Compare the remarks of Erich S. Gruen, Roman Politics and the Criminal Courts, 149-78 B.C. (Harvard 1968): 270-1, 274-5.

10. G. Rotondi, Leges Publicae Populi Romani (1912: Hildesheim reprint, 1966, with Rotondi’s 1922 “Postille”): 406-7; 538.