Quintus Tullius Cicero: A monograph on his life and work


Quintus Tullius Cicero: A monograph on his life and work

By A.H. Mamoojee

PhD Dissertation, University of Ottawa, 1977

Abstract: This work assembles all known materials from antiquity which have to do with Quintus Tullius Cicero, the younger brother of the famous orator, and attempts a portrait of him as complete as a critical interpretation of these materials permits. The work includes reviews and discussions of inconsistencies and contradictions arising from previous views on Q. Cicero, as expressed in short theses and articles, biographies of M. Cicero, editions of Cicero’s correspondence and philosophical works, Roman histories and disputes on the Commentariolum petitionis.

The aims and outline of the work, review of sources (the bulk of which is in the Ciceronian corpus) and of previous works are discussed in the introduction. The opening chapter deals with the birth date, birth place, early upbringing and education of Quintus within the family environment of the Tullii Cicerones of Arpinum and the social milieu to which they belonged. Quintus inherited the incentive to seek public office in Rome and the patronage to facilitate it. However, as a result of the Civil War, what, in the end, really counted in making his career possible and marking its character was his brother’s patronage and his own liberal education.

The second chapter turns to the aims, the course and the outcome of Quintus’ marriage to Pomponia, the sister of Atticus. Marriage into strained relations between the consorts, which ultimately led to divorce, are to be ascribed not only to incompatibility of characters, but also to the nature of the marriage sine manu. The third chapter traces Q. Cicero’s cursus through to his propraetorship of Asia, followed by his legateships under Pompey in Sardinia, under Caesar in Gaul and under M. Cicero in Cilicia. It also deals with his participation in M. Cicero’s campaign for the consulship, in the struggle for M. Cicero’s restoration from exile and in the Civil War between Caesar and Pompey. It is shown how Quintus attained the successive steps of his public career primarily under the patronage of his elder brother, and how, as a governor, he was guided by principles originating from Cicero’s ideas of statesmanship.

From examination of criticisms aimed at him, Quintus emerges as an essentially honest, just and courageous administrator, and a brave, able and resourceful soldier. Conversely, his contribution to the furtherance of M. Cicero’s career is shown to be also extensive. Despite some disagreements and one great quarrel after the battle of Pharsalus, the two brothers worked closely together in promoting the family’s dignitas; both gained and lost from the fluctuations in each other’s fortunes.

In spite of his public life, Q. Cicero’s main interest was in literature, the subject of chapter four. His own works consisted of satirical, dramatic, epic and didactic verse, epistolary and, perhaps, historical prose, as well as, possibly, “editing” of Lucretius and compilation of Cicero’s jokes. But estimate of his merits as a writer is limited to the small portion of his compositions that survives, of which, the De XII signis and the Commentariolum, despite attacks on their authenticity, are accepted as two of the main constituents. As a writer, Quintus displays some skill and peculiarities of his own, and, above all, the pervading influence of his brother.

Chapter five is an examination of the material circumstances which made possible Quintus’ public life and intellectual pursuits. This involves the determination of what real estate and slaves he owned, how his cash flow was and what were his sources of income. Inheritance, endowments and gifts provided him with amenities, manpower and income, which enabled him to live a life of opulence and leisure fairly similar to that of M. Cicero.

Focussing on the principal issue of Quintus’ marriage, his son, the sixth and final chapter treats the birth, upbringing, education and character of Quintus Jr., and the problems he raised by his rebelliousness and his allegiance to Caesarism.

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