BMCR 2022.09.27

Cicero: post-reditum Speeches. Introduction, text, translation, and commentary

, Cicero: post reditum Speeches. Introduction, text, translation, and commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021. Pp. 448. ISBN 9780198850755. $145.00.

With this volume Gesine Manuwald adds to her work on Cicero’s speeches (most notably Manuwald 2007, 2018), with focus on the two speeches he delivered soon after his return from exile. The volume comprises detailed introduction, Latin text with facing translation, commentary, bibliography, and indices. For the speech before the senate, her commentary is in competition with Boll 2019. To the Ciceronian speeches she adds the spurious Oratio pridie quam in exilium iret [sc. habita], which, in view of space constraints, I will set aside.

The authenticity of these speeches (as well as Dom. and Har.) was challenged by Markland 1745, and the skeptical position was further argued by Wolf 1801. Doubts were, however, dispelled by Zielinski 1904, who showed that the treatment of clausulae is in line with Cicero’s general practice, a finding reinforced by fresh statistics cited on p.xxxix.

The Introduction sketches the background in a clear, businesslike way with ample reference to primary and secondary literature. Manuwald makes, for instance, the good point that, in comparison with other known instances of devotio (self-sacrifice of a Roman leader), Cicero’s is the only one in which “a deed already committed … [is] redefined as a sacrifice” (p.xxxii). The information presented is generally sound. I will note here a few points that could be queried.

Manuwald writes (p.xiii; similarly p.207): “Caesar showed some understanding [sc. at the time of Cicero’s exile] in that he did not set off for his province … until Cicero had left Rome, giving him the option to take up the offer (Cic. Prov. cons. 42) to join his staff.” That this was Caesar’s motive for tarrying near Rome with his army is not stated in any source. Indeed, Plutarch (Caes. 14) depicts Caesar collaborating closely with Clodius to procure Cicero’s exile, and the fact that Caesar had to be persuaded by Pompey and receive guarantees of the orator’s good behavior in order to allow his return lends credence to Plutarch’s interpretation. The offer to join Caesar’s staff (and its rejection by Cicero) is recounted at Prov. cons. 42 as part of background information on his relations with Caesar, but not with specific reference to his army’s lingering near Rome in March, 58 (the offer was tendered in June, 59: Att. 2.18[38].3). According to Cicero, the proximity of Caesar’s army was used by Clodius as a tool of intimidation, with the claim that Caesar was prepared to intervene, and these threats were believed in view of Caesar’s silence (cf. esp. Sest. 40–42 and 52).

The idea that Cicero spent part of his exile at Atticus’ estate at Buthrotum in Epirus (p.xvi) is not explicitly attested in the sources. It has been inferred from the lack of letters to Atticus after February 57 (Att. 3.27[72]). There are problems, however: Att. 4.1(73).2 strongly implies that ca. September 10, 57, Cicero had not seen Atticus for a long time, and Leg. 2.7 implies that by the fictive date of the dialogue (after Clodius’ death in the late 50s) he had not been to Buthrotum. The lack of letters could be otherwise explained, e.g., by physical damage in transmission (3.27 being the last surviving letter of Book 3). The reader might at least have been alerted to these difficulties.

One will readily agree with Manuwald that the two speeches are “to a large extent epideictic in nature” (p.xxiii). When, however, on p.xxxvii she compares epideictic and forensic oratory, she says that “[t]he two post reditum speeches belong to neither category exclusively,” an unfortunate slip, these speeches not being forensic at all.

The discussion of Red. pop. and its delivery (pp.xxvi-xxvii) might have benefited from consideration of Walters 2017.

It is surprising to read (p.xxxv) that otium is “a concept here [sc. RQ 1 and 16] combined with dignitas for the first time in Cicero’s works,” when she herself once wrote apropos of in otio . . . in imperio ac dignitate at Agr. 2.9 that “[t]he collocation recalls Cicero’s famous cum dignitate otium” (2018, p.204).

For the Latin text Manuwald supplies major variants in footnotes. Her translation is workmanlike, aiming to clarify the Latin, not to be an independent literary product (xlviii).

Manuwald takes Maslowski 1981 as the basis for her text and includes a (rather incomplete) list of “major” deviations on p.393. She offers several clear improvements: Wimmel’s defigeretur for transmitted deficeret at RQ 1; Shackleton Bailey’s deletion of deliberatio at RQ 12; foedera ac reconciliationes (ac Klotz, -es part of the tradition) for foedera <in> reconciliatione at RQ 13. However, in some cases a different solution might be preferable.

The speeches are transmitted with different titles in different portions of the transmission. The older mss. and the scholia have some version of Cum senatui gratias egit and Cum populo gratias egit (p.xx). Manuwald, however, opts for Post reditum in senatu and Post reditum ad Quirites on the ground that “these are concise and neutral descriptions identifying the occasion, but not defining the contents or Cicero’s position” (ibid.), as if an editor were free to choose a title based on personal criteria without reference to the transmission.

At RS 4 Manuwald prefers atque to the better attested itaque read by Maslowski and Boll. Her reason is that “both long sentences in this paragraph beginning with itaque would be awkward” and that atque is more likely to connect to “the third manifestation of the Senate’s attitude in favour of Cicero” (p.94). Here the two itaque’s are separated by nine Teubner lines, but there are examples much closer together, e.g., Ver. 2.2.71 (two successive sentences beginning with itaque within three OCT lines); so the audience or readers are unlikely to have felt any “awkwardness.” Moreover, the supporting analysis seems inaccurate: the third instance of the senate’s support is at the beginning of §4 (after the first itaque): vestro studio atque auctoritate . . . The itaque that is under discussion is resumptive, taking up the narrative of the senate’s support after Cicero’s rather lengthy digression on Clodius’ law against him (OLD s.v. itaque 2).

Following Maslowski’s conjecture, Manuwald reads ut quo minus occulte vestrum malum gereretis nihil intercederet (sc. Gabinius) instead of nihil diceret (RS 12). But Cicero does not use intercedo with quo minus; cf. TLL 7.1:2155.50 ff. and PHI #interced/#intercess ~ #quo. A preferable solution would be nihil impedire diceret (after Peterson’s diceret impedire, but with a better clausula).

At RS 14 Manuwald would have been well advised to accept Ernesti’s emendation so as to read elingue[m] tardum inhumanum negotium. She cites some parallels from Kühner and Stegmann 1966 (1:27). But of these, Fam. 1.9(20).15 has been plausibly emended by Shackleton Bailey to remove the anomaly; and none of them involves a series of three parallel attributes; indeed, Kühner and Stegmann remark that the change of gender is “selten innerhalb desselben Satzes.”

Editors have struggled with the organization of several clauses at RS 27–28. Manuwald follows Maslowski in reading ille dies (illo die is also transmitted). She sees “an exclamatory question” (p.190), but one usually expects an exclamation in the accusative; she offers no parallel for the nominativus pendens. Wuilleumier’s <de> illo die is attractive (with a verb of speaking understood, as often): “What (am I to say) about that day?” Then at the beginning of §28, perhaps read eo die for transmitted quo die (Madvig’s conjecture, followed by Boll), to restore a common Ciceronian pattern: relative clause preceding the main clause and connection by means of a form of is.

There is a series of qui-clauses referring to Pompey at RS 29. Of these, the verbs in the first four are transmitted in the subjunctive, the last two in the indicative. Editors since Lambin have changed the indicatives to subjunctive. Manuwald dissents, however, on the ground that the verbs in question “focus on actions of Pompey rather than on his initiating procedures by influencing others; therefore it is not impossible that this switch is mirrored linguistically and the indicative emphasizes the factual nature of these deeds” (pp.194-95). But this loses sight of the reason why the verbs are subjunctive: they give the cause for Cicero’s gratitude to Pompey, and this is owed for actions no less than for exercise of influence. Surely scribes fell into this error, forgetful of the larger context. The qui-clauses of RS 29 would thus fully parallel those of RS 31 (also referring to Pompey and rightly analyzed as causal by Manuwald, p.202).

The beginning of RQ 2 is a longstanding problem. Manuwald follows Peterson in reading <namque>, Quirites, a iunctura otherwise unattested (it is also a heroic clausula, which Cicero tends to avoid). Perhaps a likelier solution would be to take the transmitted Quirites as the conclusion of the preceding statement (beneficio divino immortalique vestro maxime laetor, Quirites, a ditrochaic clausula), as in the edition published at Rome in 1471, since this vocative so often has a second person plural pronoun/pronominal adj. in its clause. Manuwald and others are surely right in thinking a causal connection needed before the following etsi nihil est homini magis optandum etc.; perhaps the most plausible solution is that a nam has dropped out (which could have been written with an n with a stroke above), the combination nam etsi being attested twenty times in Cicero’s corpus (PHI).

At RQ 10 Manuwald’s text incorporates her own suggestion: inimico autem, optimo viro et mitissimo, altero <cum> consule referente reductus sum. But surely, in order to identify this “enemy” (Q. Caecilius Metellus Nepos), it should be clearly stated that he is a consul, which is achieved by Madvig’s insertion of consule before altero (adopted by Maslowski); cum is unnecessary, the ablative absolute continuing.

The text of RQ 23 has long puzzled editors. Maslowski prints: neque id [i.e., appropriate treatment of benefactors] rei publicae repetere †utrumcumque† necesse est. Manuwald is right to substitute (with Garatoni) remittere for transmitted repetere. As the next word she prints utcumque (with the recentiores) and renders “in any event.” But this sense appears to be attested only from the Augustan age on (cf. OLD s.v. 2a). Better to adopt Lambin’s utique, which has the same sense and which Cicero regularly uses with expressions of necessity, imperatives, and the like (e.g., Att. 12.8[245]): Piliae satis faciendum est et utique Atticae).

As a commentator Manuwald has a distinctive style. She delineates the structure in notes on entire sections. Then with individual words and phrases as lemmata, she picks out particular aspects of the language, including the organization of sentences, figures of speech, and problems of syntax. She also shows interest in Cicero’s self-presentation and in comparing the approach to persuasion before the senate and the people and in general in the politics of the situation. She is particularly strong in explaining administrative terminology and procedure. She is less interested in sentence connection, word order, and semantics. A few suggestions:

Apropos of the narrative of RS being arranged in reverse chronological order (pp.75, 85), Manuwald might have noted that such an arrangement is something of a specialty of Cicero’s, as demonstrated in detail by Stroh 1975.

Manuwald’s statement that Cicero’s father “did not reach higher political offices in Rome” (p.83) should be amended to “any political offices.”

Apropos of RS 3, Manuwald thinks that vendiderant (referring to the action of Gabinius and Piso) is an “abolute use of the verb [that] leaves the allegation vague” (p.90). But vagueness would hardly help Cicero’s argument; surely meam salutem should be supplied from the previous clause.

For Cicero’s self-description in the third person at RS 7, Manuwald might have added (p.103) a further parallel: De aere alieno Milonis F 8 Crawford.

When in RS 8 Cicero describes Clodius’ law against him as one qua civis optime de re publica meritus una cum senatu rei publicae esset ereptus, she perhaps misses the point when she comments: “That the Senate’s options for action were reduced due to the activities of his opponents during Cicero’s absence is mentioned elsewhere, but this is the result of the dominance of P. Clodius Pulcher … and not of the stipulations in the law” (p.111). Clodius’ law (which is called in the scholarship the lex de capite civis Romani) stipulated that any senator could be brought to book for involvement in putting a citizen to death without allowing a trial before the people (Dio 38.14.5), and Cicero repeatedly invoked in his defense the senate’s vote to that effect of December 5, 63 (Clodius’ alternative narrative was that Cicero had falsified the senate’s decree). Surely Cicero had this provision in mind when he claimed that he and the senate (as a decision-making body) were both removed from the state by Clodius’ law.

Apropos of medicina consulari … . consulari vulnere (RS 9; cf. RQ 15), Manuwald might have noted the chiasmus and cited La Bua 2014.

Manuwald creates a puzzle in her treatment of the phrase in contionem escendit at RS 12. She translates the phrase “he mounted the platform at a popular meeting” (p.13), but in the commentary she follows TLL and OLD in claiming that this is an idiom and “applied in a transferred sense, not combined with scaling a physical structure” (p.128). The two lexica were reacting against the report at Gellius 18.7.5–7 that, according to a book by Verrius Flaccus (GRF p. 522.31), contio means inter alia a speaker’s platform (locum suggestumque unde verba fierent), for which Gellius cites Cicero’s words escendi in contionem, concursus est populi factus (Contra contionem Metelli F 2 Crawford). Our passage is complicated by the fact that ascendit and escendit are competing readings. But both verbs mean essentially “climb up,” so OLD’s notion that in contionem escendere means “rise to speak” is unlikely, and the ancient lexicographer is surely correct. For the semantic extension to an associated concrete thing, cf., e.g., horae = “sundial.” If this is right, Manuwald’s translation would be vindicated against her commentary.

At RS 16 the ablatives isto oculo … rebus gestis are surely ablatives of description, not manner (pace Manuwald, p.147), like those in RS 17 (clementia etc.), as she correctly notes on p.154. Similarly at RQ 7 praestantissima sua gloria is surely abl. of description, not abl. absolute (cf. C. D. Yonge’s rendering: “though a man of most excessive renown”).

Cicero’s self-description at RS 24 (me unum hominem fractum et prope dissipatum) is hardly an “exaggeration,” as Manuwald says (p.175), as is clear from the letters he dispatched from exile. What is remarkable is that he admits his weakness so candidly in public (but only in the senate; he makes more belligerent gestures before the People).

In some instances, additional information would have been helpful. Thus when on p.181 Manuwald cites Cic. Orat. 85, advising against summoning the dead from the underworld, she might have noted that this applies specifically to the Low Style; to judge from Cicero’s own practice, he would have no objection to such rhetoric in the High Style.

On p.190 (on RS 27) change “those [children] of his brother” to “his brother’s son.”

We are coming to appreciate that Cicero’s philosophical reading saturates his writings in various genres. Manuwald was attentive to this aspect in the Philippics (2007, 138–40) and is here as well with reference to Piso’s Epicureanism (pp.143–44). Some further points might have been added. The description of Piso as sine sapore (RS 14) is reminiscent of Epicurus as described at N.D. 2.46 (minime resipiens patriam, i.e., lacking the “Attic salt” of wit). At RS 39 the distinction between things that were and were not in mea potestate resonates powerfully in Cicero’s philosophica, especially De fato, where in nostra potestate occurs thirteen times.

At RQ 1 the inimicus who “confessed” (sc. that Cicero should return) is surely, despite Manuwald’s reservations (p.240), Q. Metellus Nepos, who is designated with that word at RS 25 and RQ 10 (delete this latter passage from the list of references to P. Clodius on p.93).

Apropos of causam capitis receperam at RQ 11, Manuwald might have raised the possibility that the matter never came to trial; that would explain why it left no other trace.

The speeches Cicero delivered on his return from exile, with their convoluted sentences and manichaean division of recipients of praise and blame, are probably not most people’s favorites. These first efforts to rehabilitate his public standing after his exile do, however, mark an important stage in Cicero’s reflections on the res publica and his relation to it. The details raised here do not diminish Gesine Manuwald’s achievement in making these speeches more accessible than ever before to anglophone readers.


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Kühner, R., and C. Stegmann. 1966. Ausführliche Grammatik der lateinischen Sprache, 2: Satzlehre, ed. A. Thierfelder. 2 vols. 4th edn. Darmstadt.

La Bua, G. 2014. “Medicina consularis: Cicerone e la cura dello stato.” In P. De Paolis, ed., Modelli educativi e formazione politica in Cicerone. Atti del v Symposium Ciceronianum, 29-51. Cassino.

Manuwald, G., ed., tr., comm. 2007. Cicero: Philippics 3-9. 2 vols. Berlin-New York.

Manuwald, G., ed., tr., comm. 2018. Cicero: Agrarian Speeches. Oxford.

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Stroh, W. 1975. Taxis und Taktik. Die advokatische Dispositionskunst in Ciceros Gerichtsreden. Stuttgart.

Walters, B. 2017. “The Circulation and Delivery of Cicero’s Post reditum ad populum.” TAPA 147: 79-99.

Wolf, F. A. 1801. M. Tulli Ciceronis quae vulgo feruntur orationes quatuor [sic]. Berlin.

Zielinski, T. 1904. Das Clauselgesetz in Ciceros Reden. Leipzig.