The letters of Cicero reveal insights into aspects of ancient Roman masculinity. By reading these letters, we see that Roman men often had deep, loving and affectionate friendships with their peers. There is no shame or stigma in expressing love and support to one another.
Cicero Attico Sal.
[Rome, January 20, 60]
Nihil mihi nunc scito tam deesse uam
hominem eum, quocum omnia, que me cura aliqua adficiunt, uno communicem, qui me
amet, qui sapiat, quicum ego cum loquar, nihil fingam, nihil dissimulem, nihil
obtegam. Abest enim frater aphelestatos et amantissimus. Metellus
non homo, sed "litus atque aer et solitudo mera." Tu autem, qui
saepissime curam et angorem animi mei sermone et consilio levasti tuo, qui mihi
et in publica re socius et in privatis omnibus conscius et omnium meorum
sermonum et consiliorum particeps esse soles, ubinam es? Ita sum ab omnibus
destitutus. ut tantum requietis habeam, quantum cum uxore et filiola et mellito
Cicerone consumitur. Nam illae ambitiosae nostrae fucosaeque amicitiae sunt in
quodam splendore forensi, fructum domesticum non habent. Itaque, cum bene
completa domus est tempore matutino, cum ad forum stipati gregibus amicorum
descendimus, reperire ex magna turba neminem possumus, quocum aut iocari libere
aut suspirare familiariter possimus. Quare te exspectamus, te desideramus, te iam
etiam arcessimus. Multa sunt enim, quae me sollicitant anguntque; quae mihi
videor aures nactus tuas unius ambulationis sermone exhaurire posse.
--Cicero, Ad Atticum I.xviii.1
Cicero to Atticus:
the only thing I need right now is one person that I can unload my troubles to,
who cares for me, who knows me, who can talk to me. I need someone I don’t have
to be fake around, someone I don’t have to lie to, someone I don’t have to walk
on eggshells around.
now my brother—my breath of fresh air, my dearest one—isn’t here. Metellus isn’t
really a person, but a “deserted beach and air and empty desert.”
you—who have so often comforted my anxiety and my stress with your kind words
and advice, you who are my right-hand man in politics, you who know my every
private thought, you who are usually by my side in all my dealings and all my
business—where are you?
have been so utterly forsaken by everybody, that the only refuge I can find is
with my wife and my little girl and my sweet son Junior.
of those social-climbing and fake “friends” I have in public don’t exist in
private. Although my home office is full during business hours, and when I travel
to the Forum I’m surrounded by a flock of “friends,” out of that giant flock of
people, I can’t really find a single person with whom I can laugh or cry with.
so I wait for you. I long for you. I’m begging for you. I’m really stressed
right now. I feel like if I could just talk with you for a little bit, I’d be
Name: Marcus Tullius Cicero
Date: 106 BCE – 43 BCE
Pro Archiam, etc.
Cicero was an Italian-born Roman statesman
and author who lived during the complexities of Rome’s transition from
Republic to monarchy. Cicero spent most of his life in service of his
country, serving as both a lawyer, senator, and even consul [Roman
equivalent of president]. He is known for his suppression of the failed
governmental coup in 63 BCE known as the Catilinarian conspiracy that
occurred during his consulship. After the rise of Octavian [later known as
the first Roman emperor Augustus], his views fell out of favor and he was
eventually put to death during the proscriptions under the Second Triumvirate
(Octavian, Marc Antony and Lepidus). He was a prolific author with a wide
range in genres, and his literary style was adopted by Petrarch as the
default model for the Latin language.
GOLDEN AGE ROME