BMCR 2011.09.15

Cicero und das römische Bürgerrecht: die Verteidigung des Dichters Archias. Einleitung, Text, Übersetzung und historisch-philologische Kommentierungen. Vertumnus Bd 5

, Cicero und das römische Bürgerrecht: die Verteidigung des Dichters Archias. Einleitung, Text, Übersetzung und historisch-philologische Kommentierungen. Vertumnus Bd 5. Göttingen: Edition Ruprecht, 2010. 178. ISBN 9783767530546. € 26.90.

Table of Contents

Altay Coşkun’s edition of Cicero’s Pro Archia includes a new text, German translation, extensive introduction, running commentary, bibliography, and several indices. The present edition is for scholarly use; Coşkun briefly describes previous work in his preface (Section A), including others’ treatment of the text. The bibliography of literature cited, conveniently printed at the end of the preface, is extensive if not exhaustive and includes much scholarship relating to the broader issues of the case.

The brief introduction (Section B) includes the background of the trial, defense strategy, date, outcome (probably acquittal), and an outline of the speech. Coşkun notes that the second part of Cicero’s pleading is integral to the defense and should not be regarded as an indication that Archias’ legal case was weak. Not many commentators make this point specifically. He finds the term argumentatio extra causam unfortunate and explores the rhetorical strategy further in Section D. He notes, however, that Cicero’s argument is unusually positive and focused on the defendant Archias rather than negative and concerned with the opponents; thus he can neatly sidestep the political figures behind the case.

Coşkun finds ample scope in the Pro Archia for his interests in citizenship rights and the Roman republic: Section C of the introductory material, on the legal history of the growth of Roman citizenship, extends to almost thirty pages. Aside from the general interest of this useful compendium, the reader of the Pro Archia should pay particular attention to Coşkun’s discussion of the lex Plautia-Papiria and why Archias did not automatically become a citizen under the lex Iulia of 90 BCE (pp. 43-50). He enumerates several questions for closer examination in the commentary: (1) the political status of Heracleia, (2) the nature of Archias’ citizenship there, (3) the meaning of place of residence in Heracleia and what that might imply for Archias’ case, (4) the procedural aspects of change of citizenship. Section C concludes with the wider history of Roman citizenship as well as later laws affecting Archias’ case, including the lex Papia de peregrinis of 65 BCE as well as the earlier lex Licinia-Mucia prior to the Social War, and a synopsis of scholarly opinion on that law of 95 BCE. Coşkun accepts the traditional date of 62 for the defense of Archias but addresses both here and in the commentary Jane Bellemore’s argument1 for a date after Cicero’s exile.

At the beginning of the long discussion of rhetorical strategy (Section D), Coşkun reiterates his dislike of the term argumentatio extra causam, arguing that a good legal case was evidently not sufficient on its own to gain acquittal. Cicero’s pleading is not purely one of legality and right(s), but an assessment of Archias’ worth and place in society. The poet’s close relationships with prominent Romans, especially the Luculli and Metellus Pius, guaranteed that he would be involved in Roman rivalries, especially if, as Coşkun suggests, the work about Lucullus’ Mithradatic campaign was written in reaction to Theophanes’ work about Pompey. Coşkun provides a thorough description of the vocabulary of meeting, friendship, alliance, good qualities, and character, as well as the vocabulary employed to describe other poets’ relationships with other political men, e.g., Ennius with Scipio Africanus and Fulvius Nobilior.

Section E comprises the running commentary. The organization is by citations of text, sometimes fairly lengthy. The order of the citations within each section is that of importance but not always strictly according to the Latin text: for example in section 1 a remark on quo ceteris opitulari et alios servare possumus precedes discussion of haec vox huius hortatu etc.. Nevertheless, the repetition of the words under scrutiny is very useful to the discussion and an aid to the reader.

The commentary is focused on issues philological, legal, and historical. Coşkun usually observes where his text departs from what others print, but I encountered practical issues with both text and textual commentary: Coşkun’s editorial choices are usually excellent but it is difficult to assess differences between his text and his predecessors’. There is neither apparatus criticus nor a list of deviations from a standard edition. My solution was to use an electronically available text (Clark’s from the PHI CD-ROM) and collate it against Coşkun’s with differences marked in red. Occasionally, too, the reader must consult various other editions and commentaries because Coşkun does not necessarily reiterate others’ previous decisions with which he agrees. This practice offers efficiency, but the reader who wants to know why he prints the present indicative rather than imperfect subjunctive in section 1 ( quo ceteris opitulari et alios servare possumus) will need to consult Vretska2 for elucidation. Again, in section 14 one may consult Gaffiot’s Budé edition for the reading of exilia rather than exili after pericula mortis atque, and in section 16 Vretska or Gaffiot for his choice of hanc animadversionem rather than hanc animi remissionem (conjecture of Bonamicus), and especially the use of the verb agunt (rather than acuunt or alunt) in the phrase at haec studia adulescentiam agunt in the next sentence. One who does not have several other editions to hand, however, can look at Coşkun’s translation to see how he understands the passage. He often prefers and supports the transmitted text, and not only by the principle of the lectio difficilior; his desire not to introduce what is unnecessary is laudable. For example, the last sentence of section 5 reads in his version sed etiam hoc non solum ingeni ac litterarum, verum etiam naturae atque virtutis, ut domus, quae huius adulescentiae prima fuerit, eadem esset familiarissima senectuti. Other editors write a verb instead of sed or supply a noun to accompany the genitives, or both. I prefer Coşkun’s text here and in most other places where he differs from the one I have read for some years with my students.

More than half of the commentary is devoted to the first 11 sections of the oration, where Coşkun scrutinizes the legal arguments, evidence, and testimony. A number of scholars have recently examined sections 5 and 6 of the oration for evidence of a patronage network at Rome around the turn of the century and later. Coşkun astutely observes that part of Cicero’s strategy is to place Archias’ arrival at Rome back in the good old days of the republic, ignoring unpleasant events such as the war with Jugurtha, the slave war in Sicily, activities of pirates, and the threat of German invasion. In addition to stating a belief that Cicero’s use of the verb nanciscor in section 5 of what Archias found in the consuls of 102 indicates something concrete, he argues against the notion that in section 6 Cicero is merely name-dropping; beginning on p. 93 he lists and identifies all the worthies mentioned in this section and notes the absence of Sulla’s name. Defending the correction to M. Lucullus, he believes that the trip to Sicily and southern Italy occurred prior to the Social War, when Lucullus was too young to hold office.

In the discussion of what transpired at Heracleia the interested reader will find much of note, especially Coşkun’s analysis of what ascriptus at Heracleia means in the context of sections 6-10. As Archias lived at Rome he would not have been listed on the census of any of the towns in Italy where he had citizenship, and thus was not eligible for Roman citizenship under the lex Iulia. Some of the questions Coşkun raises about making a profession of citizenship are: was it necessary to travel to Rome? What could other magistrates in Italy, e.g. the consuls, do for a would-be citizen? He notes that it is unclear which kind of records Cicero means when he says tabulas Heracliensium publicas : the local census at Heracleia or decentralized census list of a Roman municipium? Further analysis ensues of the meaning of domicilium, the mechanism and timing of the professio, and whether there may have been issues with Metellus’ registration of Archias.

Coşkun concludes his analysis of Cicero’s legal arguments with a careful look at census lists. He first compares the law on registering for frumentatio :3 he gives the text of the law in Latin with the English translation in the footnotes, then compares a law on registering citizens in Italian cities outside Rome. This is a fruitful approach to a question that cannot be definitively answered.

The commentary on the so-called argumentatio extra causam begins at the bottom of p. 115. Coşkun gives a look at the themes of upcoming arguments in sections 12-30, and the idea of usefulness to public life, citing ad Att. 1.20-7 and de orat. 23f. on Cicero’s genuine belief in literature as recreative rest from work. Here the discussion ranges from the relationship between hero and poet, with Achilles and Homer as the prototype, but including Pompey and Theophanes, Sulla and Metellus Pius, and, not least, the ability of commanders to confer citizenship. Coşkun has much to say, with copious citation of modern scholarship, about the events to which Cicero alludes in this portion of the oration, including the Germanic wars, the career of L. Plotius Gallus, and the history of the third Mithradatic war. That topic leads to scrutiny of the enmity between Lucullus and Pompey; he notes that Vretska and others doubt that Archias has in fact composed the totum bellum to its end in 63 BCE, and describes the probable political motivation behind the prosecution.

Some of Coşkun’s more intriguing observations come with sections 23-28, the truth of Greek being the pre-eminent literary language, and further issues of citizenship and the value of poets. This part of the defense is framed by the disquisition on praise literature and Cicero’s expectations of poetic treatment of his consulship. Coşkun discusses at length what Cicero means about the people themselves who are the subject of literature, and includes translations from Steel,4 Cornali,5 and Vretska; he believes Cicero’s point is not that conquered opponents have a great interest in an epic about their defeat. He agrees with Zicàri6 that all peoples have an interest, as well as individuals who were involved in a war. He expressly disagrees with Steel’s interpretation of how Archias’ Greekness is an indicator of how gratifying it is to have the defeated celebrating Rome’s glory. Coşkun astutely notes that the characterization of the Roman soldiers in assembly, when Pompey made Theophanes a Roman citizen, is not unlike that of Marius. Citizenship as a reward for praise, and praise as a reward for effort, wrap up most of the rest of the oration and commentary thereupon, with due notice given to Metellus Pius, Brutus and Accius, Fulvius Nobilior and, of course, Cicero himself. In section 31, as Coşkun notes, Cicero unites the three best arguments, the quality of Archias’ friends, his talent, and the legitimacy of his claim. The Latin text follows the commentary, and the translation follows the text. The only notable typographical error I found was in section 14 where cognitatione appears for cogitatione.

This new edition of the Pro Archia is most welcome, especially for the learned and wide-ranging discussion of political and social values inherent in Cicero’s defense.


1.J. Bellemore. “The date of Cicero’s ‘Pro Archia’,” Antichthon 36 (2002) 41-53.

2.K and H. Vretska. M. Tullius Cicero, Pro Archia poeta. Ein Zeugnis für den Kampf des Geistes um seine Anerkennung. Darmstadt: WBG 1979.

3.From M. H. Crawford, ed., Roman Statutes (London 1996) I.24.

4.C. E. W. Steel, Cicero, Rhetoric, and Empire (Oxford 2002) 95f.

5.R. Cornali, Cicerone, Pro Archia (Turin 1941) 24.

6.M. Zicàri, M. T. Cicerone, La difesa di Archia (Turin 1974) 25.