de imperio: 27 notes


mihi videor – “I think that I…”. The tone of this phrase is designed to make Cicero appear considerate and measured in his assessment.

satis multa verba fecisse – “…have spoken long enough.” Cicero is claiming that he is presenting only the necessary details for his argument. This phrase also signals that he is moving on to the next part of his speech.

qua re esset – indirect question.

de genere – the nature of the war was dealt with in Ch. 6-19.

magnitudine – the scope of the war is the focus of Ch. 20-26.

pericolosum – emphasised both by its position at the end of the sentence and the homoioteleuton leading up to it: bellumnecessarium

ad – “for the pupose of”.

deligendo…praeficiendo – gerundives of obligation; both are part of parallel phrases which promote the same idea of selecting (Pompey) to command the war effort.

esse videatur – Cicero’s favourite phrase to end a sentence (clausula) due to its rhythm (ēssĕ vĭdĕātŭr). The words have virtually no meaning (~”I think”), but do effect an indirect statement (here, dicendum esse).

utinam – “I wish” or “Would that..”; followed by a subjunctive. Cicero is being dramatic and disingenuous.

Quirites – the word used to address Roman citizens without reference to class or rank, especially in domestic affairs. It came from the name of a nearby town, Cures. According to the OED, the related verb quiritare (lit. “to call on the Quirites”) is the origin of the English word “cry“. Translate as “citizens” or “Romans”.

fortium…innocentium – Cicero will attempt to demonstrate that Pompey has both qualities: prowess on the battlefield along with incorruptible principles. Due to the contemporary political scene, where excessive power held by generals was considered an existential threat to the Republic, the second quality required emphasising just as much as the first.

haberetis – a third personal form in as many sentences: Cicero started off talking in the first person mihi videor, then impersonally restatvideatur, and now addresses the crowd with verbs in the second person haberetisputaretis. Such changes would have been accompanied by exaggerated body language.

quemnam putaretis – “as to whom you might think”. The indirect question expands on haec deliberatio.

tantis rebus ac tanto bello – tautological, and an intensified (and inverted) repetition of id bellumtantis rebus from the previous sentence.

praeficiendum – forms polyptoton with praeficiendo in the previous sentence.

nunc vero – “but as it is”: a return to reality following the wish introduced by utinam.

unus – “alone”; the antithesis of copiam in the previous sentence and a recurrent motif throughout the speech. Cicero wants to stress that the command should rest with one general, as a certain group of nobiles would rather not see so much power, and the opportunity for glory, be gifted to one man (and especially not to Pompey).

antiquitatis memoriam – “i.e. those of the past whom we remember” (MacDonald). An important addition, as Cicero has already talked down any present day rivals to Pompey (sit unus Cn. Pompeius). Furthermore, the deeds of past generals took on a quasi-mythological status in the late Republic; to surpass these national heroes, Pompey needs to be godlike in his abilities (see Chapter 41 for just such an analogy).

virtute – instrumental ablative, “by his excellence”. virtus (from vir “man”) originally meant “courage” (on the battlefield); later it took on a moral dimension, similar to the English “virtue”. Cicero alludes to both meanings in this speech. For translating, “excellence” strikes an appropriate balance between the two senses of the word.

superarit – “has overcome”; syncopated form of superaverit, generic subjunctive following from Pompeius, qui.

quae res est quae…possit? – the first quae is interrogative, the second relative (with generic subjunctive). “What thing is there of the sort which could…?” The answer to this rhetorical question is a resounding “nothing”.

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