Saturday, October 30, 2021

Alone in a Crowd: Cicero, Ad Att. I.18.1

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.

I.XVIII (18)
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:

Seriously, 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.

Right 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.”

And 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?

I 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.

All 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.

And 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 ok.



Name:  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Date:  106 BCE – 43 BCE

Works: de Amicitia

               de Divinatione


               In Catilinam

              Pro Archiam, etc.



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



 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.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE

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