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At Home with Cicero*

  • Shelley Hales


This paper is concerned with reassessing the importance of the destruction of the house of Cicero in the light of recent investigations into housing in the Roman world. In recent years, the quantity and quality of such investigations have intensified but Cicero's house remains somewhat unpopular – despite excavations on the Palatine slopes which have revealed more details of the houses occupied by Cicero and his Late Republican neighbours.3 The saga of Cicero and his house had not been dealt with for several decades until the presidential address of Susan Treggiari in the 1998 Transactions of the American Philological Association. Her paper, however, is not so much concerned with the actual relationship between private and public in the house of Cicero as Cicero's private and public attempts to come to terms with his grief over the death of his daughter Tullia.



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1. For most recent attempts to explore the nature of the Roman house see Edwards, C., The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome (Cambridge, 1993), 137–73; Laurence, R. and Wallace-Hadrill, A. (edd.), Domestic Space in the Roman World: Pompeii and Beyond, JRA Supp. Ser. 22 (Portsmouth, 1997); Wallace-Hadrill, , Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum (Princeton, 1994). In terms of influencing this paper, however, the most important work is Wiseman, T., ‘Conspicui postes tectaque digna deo: The Public Image of Aristocratic and Imperial Houses in the Late Republic and Early Empire’ in L'Urbs: Espace urbain et histoire, Collection de l'Ecole française de Rome 98 (1987).

2. The last article to focus on the house of Cicero was Allen, W., ‘Cicero's House and Libertas’, TAPhA 75 (1944), 19.

3. For a brief report see E. Papi in Steinby, E. M. (ed.), Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae (Rome, 1993), Vol. 2, 202–4.

4. Home and Forum: Cicero between “Public” and “Private”’, TAPhA 128 (1998), 123.

5. Hello!551 March 13, 1999.

6. Cicero, , De Off. 39.139. See also Wood, N., Cicero's Social and Political Thought (Berkeley, 1988), 105–19.

7. Plut, . Cicero 31.1–33.5. One of the best modern biographies of Cicero is Rawson, E., Cicero: a Portrait (London, 1975, new ed. 1994). For this period of his life see 106–21.

8. His speeches are preserved – the De Domo Sua was delivered to the Senate in late September 57 B.C., less than a month after his return to Rome. The house was eventually returned to Cicero but in 56 B.C. Clodius claimed that various prodigies which had been inspected by the soothsayers pointed at the anger of the gods over the return of the house and, more specifically, the temple of Liberty. The De Haruspicum Responsis is Cicero's response to these allegations.

9. Cicero, , De Domo Sua 37.100.

10. For Clodius’ renewed efforts against both Cicero's house and that of his brother see Cicero, , De Hams. Resp. 8.15 and Ad Att. 4.3.

11. Cicero, , Ad Fam. 5.6.2.

12. Aulus Gellius 12.12.

13. Richardson, L., A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (Baltimore, 1992), 123. For an economic assessment of Cicero's investment in both this domus and the villas he owned throughout Italy, see Shatzman, I., Senatorial Wealth and Roman Politics (Brussels, 1975), 403–25.

14. Veil. Pat. 2.14.3.

15. For the atrium as centre of family death see Flower, H., Ancestor Masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture (Oxford, 1996), 93–7.

16. See Balsdon, J. P. V. D., life and Leisure in Ancient Rome (London, 1969), 115–29. For the decoration of the threshold at birth see Juv, . Sat. 5.77–81 and at marriage see Pliny, , N.H. 28.142. Wedding rituals are further discussed in Treggiari, Roman Marriage (Oxford, 1991), 161–80.

17. For the funeral procession see Polybius 6.53–5. For the coming of age ritual see Ovid, , Fasti 3.771–88; Dio 55.10.2.

18. Plut, . Publ. 20.2; Pliny, , N.H. 36.24.112.

19. Plut, . Caes. 68.6.

20. Cicero, , De Domo Sua 101–2.

21. Dion Hal. 12.1.1–4.6; Cicero, , De Domo Sua 101. Richardson (n. 13), 3.

22. Livy 2.41.11; Cicero, , De Domo Sua 101. Richardson (n. 13), 123.

23. For examples of arguments initiated by views see Cicero, , De Or. 1.39.179 and Seneca, , COM. 5.5.

24. Cicero, , De Domo Sua 115–16.

25. Pliny, , N.H. 34.9.17; Cicero, , Ad Alt. 12.23.

26. Cicero, , Phil. 2.28.68.

27. Plut, . G. Grace. 15.1.

28. Livy 44.16.10–11. Richardson (n. 13), 134.

29. Val. Max. 8.15.1. See also Walbank, F., ‘The Scipionic Legend’, PCPhS 193 (1967), 5469.

30. Richardson (n. 13), 359–60.

31. Varro, , De Ling. Lat. 6.4; Pliny, , N.H. 7.215.

32. Dig. 1.2.37. Richardson (n. 13), 134.

33. For Circus Flaminius see Richardson (n. 13), 83; Porticus Metelli 315.

34. Livy 40.51.5.

35. Pliny, , N.H. 35.13.

36. Hannestad, N., Roman Art and Imperial Policy (Aarhus, 1988), 24.

37. Cicero, , Ad Att. 4.16.8.

38. The fact that the Basilicas Fulvia and Aemilia were one and the same is taken from Varro, , De Ling. Lat. 6.4 where he refers to the Basilica Aemilia et Fulvia. However, both on grounds of new archaeological evidence suggesting a third basilica in the western section of the Forum and of analysis of the literary sources, Steinby has argued that they should be seen as two separate entities. This view does not have universal approval and, indeed, is not discussed at all in Richardson (n. 13), 54–6. The views of Steinby can be found in Steinby, , Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae (Rome, 1993) Vol. 1, 167–8. See also in that volume H. Bauer, 173–5 and 183–7.

39. Dio 54.24.

40. Tacitus, , Ann. 3.72.

41. For the coin see Hannestad, N., Roman Art and Imperial Policy (Aarhus, 1988), 24. For the aqueduct see Richardson (n. 13), 17–18. Ancient comment: Pliny, , N.H. 31.41–2; Frontinus, , Aq. 1.7.

42. Livy 44.16.10–11.

43. Cicero, , De Off. 1.138.

44. Nepos, , Att. 13.2. Richardson (n. 13), 133.

45. During this time Rome became notorious for extravagant house building. See Pliny, , N.H. 36.110. Also Strabo, , Geog. 5.3.7.

46. That the two should be kept separate is implied by Cicero, , Pro Mur. 76. Private display is munificence, public display is munificence.

47. Pliny, , N.H. 34.36, 36.113–15. Richardson (n. 13), 385.

48. Pliny, , N.H. 36.24.115.

49. Plut, . Pomp. 5; 40.

50. Such a strategy is explored in the context of the emperors' reorienting of Rome, her landscape, and her history by Laurence, R., ‘Emperors, Nature and the City: Rome's Ritual Landscape’, Accordia Research Papers 4 (1993), 7987.

51. Cicero, , Phil. 2.69. Treggiari (n. 4), 6.

52. Cicero's plans for the shrine appear in Ad Att. 12.12; 12.18; 12.19; 12.35; 12.36. Cicero's determination that the shrine should be in a most public situation is made clear at 12.19. It is worth noting that this was not Cicero's only attempt to take part in public building projects. Cicero, , Ad Att. 4.16.8 sees Ciceroinvesting in Caesarian building projects. Such investment, of course, was of no benefit to the memoria of the Tullii Cicerones and as such, has not been dealt with in the main text.

53. Treggiari (n. 4), 16–21.

54. See Dixon, S., The Roman Family (Baltimore, 1992), 133–49 for a general discussion of the function of ritual in coping with change within family life.

55. Veil. Pat. 2.14.3.

56. Philos, . Apoll. 7.11.

57. For a definition of the term templum, see Varro, , De Ling. Lat. 7.8. Gellius, Aulus, Noctae Atticae 15.7 records the Senate's needs to meet in such a place.

* This paper was delivered at the 1999 conference of the Classical Association at the University of Liverpool.

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At Home with Cicero*

  • Shelley Hales


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