Cicero's textual relations: the gendered circulation of De finibus.
In a pair of letters to Atticus from late June and early July 45 BCE, Cicero complains about what is usually considered to be a decidedly modern problem: the unauthorized circulation of media on a peer-to-peer network. At the start of the first of these letters to Atticus, whom he blames for this 'leak,' Cicero writes:
die mihi, placetne tibi primum edere iniussu meo? hoc ne Hermodorus quidem faciebat, is qui Platonis libros solitus est divulgare, ex quo '[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].' quid illud? rectumne existimas cuiquam <ante quam> Bruto, cui te auctore [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]? scripsit enim Balbus ad me se a te quintum de finibus librum descripsisse; in quo non sane multa mutavi, sed tamen quaedam. tu autem commode feceris si reliquos continueris, ne et [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] habeat Balbus et '[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Brutus, sed haec hactenus, ne videar [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. etsi nunc quidem maxima mihi sunt haec. ... quo modo autem fugit me tibi dicere? mirifice Caerellia studio videlicet philosophiae flagrans describit a tuis: istos ipsos de finibus habet. ego autem tibi confirmo (possum falli ut homo) a meis earn non habere; numquam enim ab oculis meis afuerunt. tantum porro aberat ut binos scriberent, vix singulos confecerunt. tuorum tamen ego nullum delictum arbitrar itemque te volo existimare; a me enim praetermissum est ut dicerem me eos exire nondum velle. hui, quam diu de nugis! de re enim nihil habeo quod loquar. (Att. 13.21a.1-2 = 327 SB) Tell me, in the first place, do you think it right to publish without my consent? Not even Hermodorus used to do that, a man who was accustomed to circulate Plato's books, from where the phrase comes, "Hermodorus trades in tracts." What of this: Do you think it appropriate to give a copy of this text to anyone before Brutus, to whom I dedicated it at your suggestion? Balbus wrote me that he had obtained from you a copy of Book 5 of On Divine Ends. In this book, I didn't make many changes, to be sure, but nevertheless a few. You, however, will do well if you keep a lid on the other books, lest Balbus has an unrevised copy and Brutus a stale one. But enough about these affairs, lest I seem to make a big deal of small things, although they do appear all-important to me at this moment ... How did it escape me to tell you? Caerellia, evidently inflamed wondrously by her passion for philosophy, makes copies from yours; she has On Moral Ends in its entirety. I guarantee this to you--I am human, however, and can be mistaken-that she does not have them from mine. For never were they absent from my eyes; so far from my men having made two copies, they scarcely completed one copy of each book. Nevertheless, I do not think that any wrong was committed by your men and I wish you to think likewise; for I neglected to say that I did not wish these to go public yet. Dear me, how long about nonsense! For I have nothing to say about business. (1)
De finibus was, at this time, Cicero's latest philosophical treatise, a five-book examination of the moral philosophies, that is, the ethical ends, of the various ancient schools. (2) It remains an important source for the ancient discourse on ethics. (3) As for the two people who acquired copies of this treatise before Cicero could present Brutus, the dedicatee, with a copy, our knowledge varies considerably. L. Cornelius Balbus is well known to historians: he was a provincial from Gades in Spain who gained Roman citizenship and rose to great heights in Rome, eventually becoming the first naturalized civis to attain the consulship, which he did in 40 BCE. (4) At this point in time, Balbus was, in addition to being Caesar's chief financial agent along with Oppius, one of the dictator's most important counselors, even if his actual role is somewhat opaque. (5) He was also an amicus of Cicero, who had defended him in (56) BCE from the charge that he had usurped Roman citizenship, (6) and he remained friendly enough with Cicero that Caesar found him a useful conduit through which he could communicate his wishes to Cicero during the civil war/ In contrast, Caerellia, the other person who gained a copy of De finibus from Atticus, is known almost entirely for this minor literary scandal and from a few other stray references in Cicero's correspondence. (8) She appears to have been a wealthy matrona and more than a mere acquaintance of Cicero, since one of the many lost books of Cicero's letters featured his correspondence with her. (9)
Nevertheless, despite the good relations that he enjoyed with both Balbus and Caerellia, Cicero had reason to be annoyed with Atticus for providing these two with copies of Definibus before he could even complete a polish of the final draft. (10) In the scribal book culture that was ancient Rome, (11) Atticus's action represented a potentially serious breach, both logistically and socially. Under normal circumstances, the first public recipient of a text was the dedicatee, and this ritual normally marked a new work's 'publication' (to use a somewhat anachronistic term in this context), the point at which the author released the text into general circulation. (12) Cicero, I would point out, had only provided Atticus with a copy of this treatise because the latter was his chief literary advisor-his "Aristarchus," to quote Cicero (Att. 1. 14. 3 = SB 14)--and Cicero often made use of his friend's scribes in creating the initial batch of texts to be distributed. (13) But if Atticus had given copies of De finibus to Balbus and Caerellia, this tract--or, at least, a version of it--was already 'published' for all intents and purposes. In other words, Atticus had potentially allowed the process of circulation for this text to begin prematurely. (14) The damage seems to have been contained, however, since there is no mention of Balbus's and Caerellia's copies of De finibus circulating further. Nonetheless, the botched rollout for this text could be problematic in another respect. As Cicero notes, Balbus might feel slighted at being given an uncorrected version ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of this text, while Brutus might similarly take offence at receiving a copy of a work dedicated to him, which now has been somewhat devalued--or, as he terms it, become "stale" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])--since others had already received copies.
Curiously, Cicero does not show that same worry about Caerellia. Might she not similarly feel insulted at possessing such an unrevised copy? Could she not be even more offended, given that she possesses draft copies of all five books of De finibus? Yet rather than fretting about her potential reaction, Cicero seems simply displeased that she obtained a copy at all. On this point, note how Cicero effectively treats Caerellia's procurement of a copy of De finibus as a distinct topic from Balbus's by discussing them in different sections of his letter. Clearly, Cicero sees Balbus's and Caerellia's premature acquisitions of De finibus as separate issues. This differing standard continues in a subsequent letter to Atticus:
ad prima redeo. scripta nostra nusquam malo esse quam apud te, sed ea turn foras dari cum utrique nostrum videbitur. ego et librarios tuos culpa libero neque te accuso, et tamen aliud quiddam ad te scripseram, Caerelliam quaedam habere <quae a meis habere > non potuerit. Balbo quidem intellegebam sat faciendum fuisse; tantum nolebam aut obsoletum Bruto aut Balbo incohatum dari. (Att. 13.22.2 = 329 SB) To return to the first topic in your letter: I prefer my writings to be nowhere except in your care. But I prefer that they are released only when it will seem right to each of us. I absolve your copyists of blame, and I don't blame you either. Nevertheless, I wrote something else to you: Caerellia has certain things that she could not have obtained from my people. Certainly, I realize that something had to be done for Balbus. I was only wishing that an out-of-date copy not be given to Brutus and an unfinished one to Balbus.
Cicero, it appears, accepted the explanation that Atticus offered in his reply concerning why he provided a copy of De finibus to Balbus. Nonetheless, Caerellia remains another matter, and while he reiterates to Atticus the concern that he voiced in the previous letter, that both Balbus and Brutus might take umbrage at the allocation of texts, Cicero fails yet again to express such a worry regarding Caerellia.
While many factors might account for Cicero's differing reactions to Caerellia's and Balbus's unauthorized acquisitions of De finibus, (15) in this paper I argue that Caerellia's gender was the primary and most important consideration. I realize that the suggestion that gender bias played a role in this situation may not seem particularly novel. Nonetheless, what I hope to do here is to illuminate some of the underlying sociocultural mechanisms that would have animated Cicero's prejudice in this situation. I argue in sections II and III of this paper that Caerellia's gender would have proven incompatible with the sociological system under the constraints of which this text would have been written, revised, and circulated, since one of the purposes of this system was to negotiate and regulate homosocial, and not heterosocial, relations. Indeed, many observers likely would have construed Caerellia's obtainment of this text as evidence of an unseemly relationship between the two, given the inherently problematic nature of heterosocial relations in Roman society. Then in sections IV and V, I explore how Caerellia's untimely acquisition of De finibus had the potential to disturb Cicero's careful cultivation of Latin philosophy as an appropriate and productive activity for elite males. As scholars have long noted, Cicero intended his philosophical works to be a textualized form of statecraft; but, Caerellia, I argue, could call into question this purpose underlying Cicero's philosophy, given that Roman women did not participate in the governance of the res publica in a meaningful way and yet she was, seemingly, an honored early recipient of this philosophical tract and thus part of Cicero's desired audience for it. For all these reasons, both individually and cumulatively, I contend that Cicero would have been uncomfortable with, if not inimical to, Caerellia having privileged early access to De finibus.
II. The Gender Politics of Roman Publishing
This act of media piracy on Caerellia's part would have been problematic for Cicero precisely because the circulation of texts in Roman society was, in contrast with modern print culture, an inherently social process in addition to being a technological and logistical one. As I noted above, any text was essentially published in this society, for all practical purposes, when it began to circulate freely beyond the author's control. Typically, it was the author who initiated the publication process by putting the text into wider circulation (an act that, as I mentioned, the author often but not always commemorated by gifting the dedicatee with a copy); however, such a sequence of events was not always the case, as the example of De finibus shows. Once a text entered into wider circulation, any interested parties would be free to make a copy of it. Nonetheless, it is important to note that the diffusion of this newly released text within Roman society would not have been indiscriminate, since larger societal forces would still have constrained its movements. To quote Raymond Starr's (1987, 213) widely accepted view on the matter: "Romans circulated texts in a series of widening concentric circles determined primarily by friendship, which might, of course, be influenced by literary interests, and by the forces of social status that regulated friendship." (16) In other words, social networks and interpersonal relations, which were governed by and embedded within the structures of this society, would have helped to determine who would have acquired a copy of a new text and when they would have. (17)
How Cicero exploited the fundamentally social nature of this textual culture in order to engender a positive reception for his philosophical writings has been the subject of several recent studies. Sarah Culpepper Stroup (2010, esp. 168-206) outlines how the processes and structures of a gift economy defined the production and dedication of treatises like De finibus, which characterize Cicero's literary output during Caesar's dictatorship. In essence, she posits that in contrast with a system of vertical literary patronage, which was predominant during the imperial age, patronage in the late Republic involved reciprocal exchanges of literary gifts between relative social coevals. (18) As Stroup argues, instead of exchanging money or other economic benefits in recompense for a dedicated literary text, as patrons and writers do in a system of vertical patronage, late Republican aristocratic writers used dedicated literary tracts as the only currency of value. In practice, this meant that the receipt of a dedicated text imposed an obligation on the recipient to repay this gesture in kind, that is, with a dedicated text. (19) Moreover, as Sean Gurd (2012, 49-76) observes, the very praxis of revising these treatises became an intensely social activity during Caesar's tyranny and one that had an effect on the eventual reception of these texts by readers. Gurd argues that Cicero solicited and incorporated the advice and critiques of other elites into the process of revision for these works in order not only that "a community could be fostered by revision," but also that the revised text might enjoy "the authority of the community" (2012, 49). By involving prominent and influential individuals in the creation and dissemination of his philosophical litterae, Cicero did much to assure these texts of a positive reception upon their wider release. Obviously, the dedicatee would play an important role in the initial rollout for a text, with the contours of his social network helping to determine its early pattern of circulation. But all these men whom Cicero involved in this process, whether as dedicatees or early critics, would have had a stake in these projects, since the success of these works was also a testament to their input and standing. (20) Thus, Cicero could expect their help in publicizing and promoting each new tract.
These literary interactions could, of course, also have certain practical benefits for a man in Cicero's position. Cicero had chosen unwisely in the civil war, and he found himself in a precarious position in Caesar's Rome. In light of these circumstances, Trevor Murphy (1998) notes, Cicero's choice of dedicatees in his post-bellum corpus also constitutes a deft political stratagem. Cicero chose men like Brutus, Trebatius, and Varro as dedicatees not only because they would be valuable advocates to have for his philosophical works and serve as writers who could and did dedicate reciprocal texts to him, but also because they were politically influential figures in the new political landscape. (21) In sum, the entire process of producing and circulating these philosophical texts was for Cicero a multifaceted project for promoting each new work and the relatively new genre of Latin philosophy, as well as a means of forging relationships and solidifying a rather shaky position in an adverse political environment.
This self-regulating economy of revised and dedicated texts also had salutary effects for the larger aristocratic community since it helped to foster and maintain cohesion and solidarity within this social group by facilitating a network of bonds among its members (Stroup 2010, 117-67; Gurd 2012, 74-6). In fact, we should find quite familiar the social structures that are being nurtured by the production, revision, and distribution of Cicero's philosophica. A system of social relations initiated through exchanges of various forms of capital and cemented via the resulting reciprocal obligations is not a phenomenon isolated to either the Roman intelligentsia or the Republican aristocracy. These practices were firmly embedded within the fundamental structures of Roman society. Exchanges of various goods and services defined this society, fostering and maintaining systems of power relations organized under a variety of headings: clientelae, amicitiae, familiae, and even religio. (22) In daily life, Romans of all social classes bartered among themselves an assortment of material goods (e.g., food, money, and even epistles) and more abstract objects (e.g., compliments, prestige, and other forms of social capital), both vertically and horizontally, with an implicit ledger of accounts paid or owing underlying most social transactions in Roman society. (23) It is not hyperbole to say that these social transactions played a large role in both maintaining the structures of Romans society and enabling its healthy functioning.
An important fact to note here is that women constituted one of the prime commodities trafficked within Roman society. (24) Most noticeably, women were exchanged via the institution of marriage, a transaction that had far-reaching implications since these exchanges bound together not just individuals but whole kinship groups. (23) More generally, Roman men often employed women as a type of currency in their homosocial transactions. As feminist theorists such as Gayle Rubin (1975, 157-210), Eve Sedgwick (1985, 21-7), and Michael Flood (2008) have long recognized, it is common practice in patriarchal societies for men to employ women as buffers or conduits through which they can negotiate their relations with one another in a socially acceptable manner. Such triangular relations were common in Roman society. Sometimes they could be done urbanely, as Alison Keith has demonstrated by examining how Propertius trafficked discursively his elegiac mistress in his poetry (2008, 115-38) and how Cicero similarly treated Antony's mistress Volumnia in a witty letter to his friend Paetus (2011, 39-41). In both cases, these women functioned as signifiers within these men's relationship with other men. These triangular relations could also be done quite crudely, as Sarah Levin-Richardson (2011, esp. 72-3) illustrates with sexually explicit graffiti in Pompeii's brothel, which she reads as a dialogue between male patrons. In all these cases, women--sexualized, objectified, and commoditized-help to facilitate relations between and among men as either literal or more abstract objects of exchange. (26)
We must remember, though, that women not only were objects of exchange in the ancient world; they were also agents in these transactions, (27) and one commodity they might attempt to traffic in was themselves. For women in a patriarchal culture, such self-traffic was simple pragmatism. Recognizing their own value as a precious good, these women learned, unsurprisingly, to barter themselves through marriage and other means in order to obtain material resources and various other forms of capital. (28) To take one example: in Roman society gift exchange was important to heterosexual courtship, and the implicit logic underlying these transactions was a trade of material capital for sexual capital. (29) In contrast, Roman men exchanged various forms of capital both among themselves and with women, but they did not include their sexualized bodies as part of these transactions. (30) As I shall discuss below, these facts have important bearing on heterosociality, social relations between men and women in Roman society.
To bring the discussion back to the topic of textual and literary exchanges, I would note that the sociotextual commerce, of the kind in which we see Cicero engaging with his philosophical tracts via the dedications and the revision process, appears to have been mapped onto this political economy of sex. For example, Cicero states in a letter to Atticus, dated to mid-June 45 BCE, that he has "promised," or rather "betrothed," De finihus to Brutus: nunc illam [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] sane mihi probatam Bruto, ut tibi placuit, despondimus idque <tu> eum non nolle mihi scripsisti (That treatise on ethics, which seems pretty satisfactory to me, I have betrothed to Brutus, as you advised, and you wrote me that he was not disinclined to this, Att. 13.12.2 = 320 SB). As is often the case in his correspondence, Cicero's use of Greek presents an opportunity for some witty wordplay (Dunkel 2000, 128). Here Cicero hopes that his betrothal of this [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] on ethics to Brutus will lead to a similar ethical union ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) between himself and Brutus. (31) On another occasion in his correspondence, in a letter from May 44 BCE [Att. 14.17.6 = 471 SB), Cicero uses similarly gendered language when he labels a work yet to be released as "unmarried" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). These slippages in terminology are not accidental but rather symptomatic of the symmetry between these social institutions: this trade in texts via dedications and the exchange of women via marriage both helped to construct a system of social relations between and among men in Roman society. (32) Furthermore, the very fact that these texts could be perceived and problematized in this manner is reflective not only of the subject position of these writers but also of the importance of this traffic in women toward constituting that subject position. (33)
The sociological homology between this traffic in literary texts and the exchange of women in Roman society helps to explain Cicero's differing responses to Balbus and Caerellia obtaining pre-release copies of Definibus. While Cicero obviously had a strong interest in moral philosophy, he also intended this treatise, both as an abstract concept and a concrete artifact, to be a mediating object in his relations with other prominent male members of the Roman aristocracy--hence, his reason for dedicating the treatise to Brutus and developing an open-source model for revising it. Balbus, a literary-minded elite male, was exactly the type of man who could unproblematically participate in these Republican aristocratic socio-literary activities, in addition to being precisely the sort of person with whom Cicero, given that he was an influential member of Caesar's inner circle, would have wished to cultivate closer ties for his own personal benefit. (34) Atticus, too, may have had his own reasons for wishing to foster stronger relations with Balbus, particularly since his business affairs were often predicated on advantageous connections with the powers-that-be at Rome (Rauh 1986, 7-13).
Note that Cicero's primary concern, voiced in both letters, was that Balbus's acquisition of an unrevised advance copy of De finibus and Brutus's receipt of a dated text may offer offence to both men; that is, Cicero worries that these issues may impair the healthy functioning of a system designed to regulate male homosocial relations. In fact, Cicero's statement to Atticus in the second letter on the matter (Balbo quidem intellegebam sat faciendum fuisse [Certainly, I realize that something had to be done for Balbus]) hints, I believe, at an understanding of the awkward position in which Atticus found himself, given the strictures of this sociotextual system (Att. 13.22.2 = 329 SB). This statement's construction, with the gerundive only intensifying the sense of obligation and necessity already inherent in the verb satisfacio, (35) suggests how little choice Atticus had in the matter. Now, it makes little difference whether Balbus requested a copy of Book 5 of De finibus or if Atticus felt, for some reason, that he must present him with one; after all, denying or otherwise not providing Balbus with a copy of this text would have, in all likelihood, caused its own set of problems for both Cicero and Atticus, given that it would have affected their relationships with Balbus. (36) Of course, in providing Balbus with a copy of this text, a new set of complications arose, but such is the nature of this complex and precariously balanced system of homosocial relations among Roman elite males.
Nevertheless, Cicero did not display the same concern over Caerellia's early access to Definibus. Obviously, within a system designed to regulate male homosocial relations, Caerellia represented something of an anomaly. (37) Only with great difficulty, if at all, could this social system accommodate the presence of a woman. For example, let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Cicero had actually provided Caerellia with an advance look at De finibus. How might she have remunerated him for the gift? We do not hear of women being invited to hear readings of Cicero's works-in-progress and being asked to provide feedback. As for Caerellia herself, she appears to have had little to no political influence, and there is no evidence that she was a writer in her own right, someone who might be expected to dedicate a text to Cicero in the future. (38) Exchanges of forms of capital are what animate this economy, yet there is little that Caerellia could offer Cicero in exchange. Obviously, Caerellia's inability to repay Cicero properly is almost entirely a result of the marginalization of women in Roman society rather than any personal shortcomings on her part. But that is the point: the literary scene in Republican Rome was another venue for elite males to gain laus and accumulate auctoritas while they also negotiated their relations with one another via these texts. Women were an afterthought in this sphere, as they were in most areas of Roman society.
I do not believe, however, that such an explanation fully accounts for Cicero's displeasure at Caerellia's acquisition of a copy of De finibus. Yes, the system within which Cicero produced and circulated his philosophical works was maladapted to female participation; but we also need to take into account how heterosociality, the system of social relations that governed interactions between women and men in Roman society, would have constrained and configured Cicero and Caerellia's dealings and how it would have affected and refracted the meaning of any literary, textual, or even social interaction between the two of them.
III. From Textual to Sexual
Social relations across gender lines in the Roman world, even those of a clearly platonic variety, generally were fraught with complications. (39) Friendships between men and women, while possible and attested, were intrinsically problematic even on a terminological level. For a man to speak of a woman as his arnica or for a women to speak of a man as her amicus usually implied a sexual connection between the two (Williams 2012, 80-91). As Craig Williams (2012, 93) notes, "Practically any intimate relationship between man or woman outside of marriage could, in accordance with rhetorical, political, or other needs, be depicted as suspect." Williams does not, however, query why Roman heterosocial relations were subject to such suspicion. The answer to this question, I would suggest, lies in the tension that I noted earlier: women were both commodities and agents in the Roman social economy. This fact provoked an ever-present anxiety that there could be a sexual component to any significant interaction between a man and a woman.
Cicero and Caerellia's social interactions actually demonstrate many of the pitfalls of heterosocial relations in Roman society. In nearly all respects, these two would appear to have enjoyed a conventional and unremarkable relationship, at least by the standards of the Roman elite. The year before she gained access to Definibus, Cicero had written a letter on Caerellia's behalf to the proconsul of Asia, P. Servilius Vatia Isauricus, reiterating an earlier in-person commendatio of her res, nomina, and possessions Asiaticae (Fam. 13.72 = 300 SB). (40) Noteworthy is how Cicero frames his relationship with Caerellia in this letter. He refers to her as his necessaria, a word that Cicero must have chosen carefully, having searched for something that would suggest the strong connection that he had with Caerellia (and thus why this matter was important to him) but would sidestep any unseemly connotations (Williams 2012, 92-3). Cicero and Caerellia apparently remained close enough, even after this incident with De finibus, that Publilia's family would use her in 44 BCE as an envoy in an attempt to reconcile Cicero with his young spouse (Att. 14.19.4 = 372 SB). Yet the best evidence for the vitality of Cicero and Caerellia's relationship comes from the fact that they carried on a prolific enough exchange of letters that one of the many lost books of Cicero's epistles involved their correspondence. (41) Quintilian provides the sole surviving fragment:
etiam illud quod Cicero Caerelliae scripsit, reddens rationem cur ilia C. Caesaris tempora tarn patienter toleraret: "haec aut animo Catonis ferenda sunt aut Ciceronis stomacho." stomach us enim file habet aliquid ioco simile. (Inst. 63.112) There is also this thing that Cicero wrote to Caerellia, giving a reason why he was able to endure Caesar's dictatorship so tolerantly. "It ought to be borne with either Cato's spirit or with Cicero's stomach." For "stomach" has something akin to a joke to it.
Judging from this fragment, Cicero and Caerellia would seem to have enjoyed the same sort of learned banter, touching on both political and philosophical topics, which we find in Cicero's correspondence with many others. (42)
Yet, while Cicero and Caerellia's relationship would seem to be a fairly typical and unremarkable one for members of the Roman elite, their association was far from unproblematic and was not without controversy. For instance, Cicero accepted a loan of money from Caerellia, and Atticus was less than pleased at this development. In a letter from May 45 BCE, Cicero addressed Atticus's concerns:
de Caerellia quid tibi placeret Tiro mihi narravit: debere non esse dignitatis meae, perscriptionem tibi placere: 'hoc metuere, alterum in metu non ponere!' sed et haec et multa alia coram, sustinenda tamen, si tibi videbitur, solutio est nominis Caerelliani dum et de Metone [et de Faberi] et de Faberio sciamus. (Att. 12.51.3 = 293 SB) Tiro told me what you think about Caerellia--that it is not of my dignitas and that you think repayment is the right course. "Strange to fear this and not the other!" But we should talk about these and other matters face-to-face. Nonetheless, if it seems appropriate to you, the payment of my debt to Caerellia must be put off until we know about Meto and Faberius.
Whatever Atticus found incongruent with Cicero's standing in this particular matter, it was not the mere fact that Cicero was indebted. (43) Cicero, along with the rest of the Republican aristocracy, accumulated financial liabilities at an alarmingly frequent rate. Most often, these monetary loans came from fellow members of the elite. (44) Why exactly was this debt so problematic that Atticus recommended immediate repayment? In all probability, Atticus was worried that the optics of the situation--Cicero owing money to a woman--might provoke salacious or censorious gossip (Dixon 2004, 60-1; Skinner 2011, 15). This possibility seemed to supersede the other main worry, namely, Cicero's need for funds. As Cicero notes, quoting an unknown source, hoc metuere, alterum in metu non ponere (strange to fear this and not the other!). (45)
Atticus may have been right to worry about the perception of Cicero's relationship with Caerellia. In a speech that he assigns to Q. Fufius Calenus, which is in reply to one of Cicero's Philippics, Cassio Dio alleges an illicit affair between Cicero and his necessaria. Amid an amusing piece of invective (46.18.3), Dio's Calenus states that Cicero engaged in a sexual relationship with Caerellia while married to Publilia. As proof of this liaison, 'Calenus' points to the tone of their now lost letters:
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (46.18.3-4) But who does not know that you divorced your first wife after she bore you two children and that you married again, this time to a mere girl although you were an old man, in order to pay off your debts from her property? And yet you did not stay with that woman either, in order that you might openly cavort with Caerellia, with whom you carried on an affair (a woman by as much your elder as that girl that you married was your junior), to whom you also write the sorts of letters which a prattling fool would write if he were having a dalliance with a seventy-year-old woman.
While it seems unlikely that this accusation of a sexual affair between Cicero and Caerellia had any truth to it (if there had been any concrete evidence for this claim, Dio's Calenus surely would have brought it up), this fictionalized speech, if nothing else, demonstrates a possible reading of Cicero and Caerellia's now lost letters. (46) For various rhetorical and historiographical reasons, Dio apparently found it advantageous, as well as easy enough to do, to read these epistulae within a sexualized paradigm. Under his scrutiny, Cicero's candor and wit, hallmarks of his epistolary style and in evidence in the one remaining fragment of his letters to Caerellia, become disreputable and morally suspect, all because this social interaction involved a man and a woman who did not share a familial connection. (47)
Overall, Cicero and Caerellia's relationship illustrates well the dangers and difficulties of heterosocial relations in Roman society. What would be ordinary and unremarkable in a relationship between two men becomes awkward and liable to a sexualized reading when it involves a man and a woman--even when they are of advanced age, as in the case of Cicero and Caerellia. While men exchanged and bartered various commodities among themselves in Roman society in an effort to manufacture and cement bonds between themselves, such transactions between men and women were always problematic because women were typically objects of social commerce for men. (48) Thus, when a woman entered a field of male dominance, such as finance or epistolography (as we see with Caerellia), and attempted to barter and traffic with men in these social economies, these heterosocial transactions roused worry about the motivations of both parties and often provoked censure because she could be one of the items trafficked. (49) Indeed, the default presumption often seems to be that any significant social interaction between men and women in Roman society involved sexual capital, or at least the prospect of such in the future, unless that relation could be placed within a more socially acceptable framework, that is, a familial connection.
For this reason, I contend that Caerellia's early access to De finihus would have provoked an anxiety in Cicero about what her possession of this text might imply about their relationship. If it became known that Caerellia possessed a copy of De finihus, even before Brutus had received one, observers would, most likely, draw some uncharitable conclusions about the nature of Cicero and Caerellia's relationship and about Cicero's motivations in supplying her with an advance copy of this tract (which, of course, he did not). They might think, to answer a question that I posed earlier, that Caerellia would remunerate Cicero with a sexual favor or something otherwise untoward by the standards of the society. They might think that, of course, because this interaction inevitably falls, not within the confines of that sociocultural system that regulates elite male relations, but within the more restrictive set of parameters that govern heterosocial relations. Given that Atticus had quite recently warned him of the unseemliness of his previous financial arrangement with Caerellia, Cicero might have been more sensitive to any suggestion of an inappropriate relationship between himself and Caerellia. If nothing else, this interaction would likely have attracted unwanted notice simply because of its novelty, and it would not have been surprising if a political opponent had tried to exploit this atypical association to denigrate Cicero, just as we saw Cassius Dio's Calenus do two and a half centuries later.
The anxiety that Cicero likely felt concerning the implications of a sociotextual transaction between himself and Caerellia perceived as author-ized finds expression, I believe, not only in Cicero's unwillingness to grant Caerellia the same clemency for her breach of protocol that he had for Balbus but also in how Cicero broached the topic of Caerellia's obtainment of De finihus with Atticus. In his initial letter of complaint (Att. 13.2la.1-2 = 327 SB), Cicero was careful to state that Caerellia obtained this text from Atticus's copyists (Caerellia ... describit a tuis) and not from Atticus himself, as Cicero had noted in the case of Balbus (Balbus ad me se a te quintum 'definibus' librum descripsisse). This distinction is in line with the general differing manner in which Cicero regarded these two 'leaks.' Not only did Cicero treat them as separate topics by discussing them in different sections of his first letter to Atticus on the subject, he also inserted caveats about how Caerellia came to obtain this text (ego autem tibi confirmo [possum falli ut homo] a meis earn non habere [I guarantee this to you--I am human, however, and can be mistaken--that she does not have them from mine]), which he did not do in the case of Balbus, likely in an effort to avoid giving offence to Atticus. (50) Yet something playful appears too in the language that Cicero uses in this letter, as if he is slyly hinting at something more to this situation. For example, Cicero notes suggestively that Caerellia had been "inflamed" with a zeal for philosophy (Caerellia studio videlicet philosophiaeflagrans). Cicero later states that he does not consider this situation to be a delictum (a word that can have a sexual connation). (51) Finally, there is Cicero's reference to this matter as nugae (hui, quam diu de nugisl), a word that Catullus had thoroughly imbued with amorous overtones. Given that Atticus recently chided Cicero for his own overly familiar relationship with Caerellia, one can imagine that Cicero might have taken some pleasure in subtly teasing his friend about his own relationship with Caerellia.
This teasing did not mean, however, that something more serious was not below the surface. Cicero apparently perceived no issue with asserting that Atticus and Balbus had enjoyed a close enough relationship that Balbus could obtain Cicero's latest work from Atticus; yet he recognizes that to assert that Caerellia had similarly obtained this tract from Atticus could imply a very different sort of relationship between the two. In this letter to Atticus, Cicero both carefully avoids this accusation and subtly insinuates it, suggesting his awareness of the perception and peril of such heterosocial relations. For his part, Atticus may well have come to a similar realization about what Caerellia's acquisition of this text from his household could imply, as he apparently made no effort to address this issue in his reply. As Cicero pointedly notes, tamen aliud quiddam ad te scripseram, Caerelliam quaedam habere <quae a meis habere> non potuerit (I wrote something else to you: Caerellia has certain things that she could not have obtained from my people, Att. 13.22.2 = 329 SB). Perhaps Cicero decided discretion was the better part of propriety on this occasion.
IV. Cicero's Audience and the Res Publica
Up until this point I have argued that Cicero was displeased that Caerellia obtained an advance copy of Definibus because of what her possession of this text might imply about their relationship. In other words, Cicero was concerned with how this unauthorized sociotextual exchange could affect his reputation. I would like to shift my focus and explore how Caerellia's early access to this philosophical tract could have affected the reception oi Definibus and disrupted some of Cicero's strategies for legitimating philosophy as a productive activity for members of the Roman elite.
To understand the potential danger that Caerellia posed to the reception of Definibus, we first need to recall that while there were people in the Roman aristocratic community who read and wrote philosophy before Cicero began releasing his treatises, (52) Cicero himself did much to redefine the composition and nature of this community or, at least, the perception of it. (53) He could do this because the audience for a discourse, such as Roman philosophy, never exists independent of that discourse, but rather is contingent on that discourse to organize and (re)produce it. (54) Cicero himself seems to have well understood this fact, as he employed a number of strategies, both within and beyond the confines of his philosophical works, in order to fashion and define a particular audience for these texts. For example, Cicero often stages his treatises as dialogues between himself and other contemporaries, or he uses Roman historical figures as a framing device for the philosophical topics under investigation. (55) In this way, Cicero portrays his version of philosophy as vibrant discussions among members of the Roman aristocracy, (56) and this internal audience helped to predetermine the desired external one for these texts. Outside the contents of these texts, Cicero also constituted his preferred readership through his attempts to involve others in their production and dissemination. As I discussed earlier, Cicero embedded his treatises in particular social networks through the use of dedications and by soliciting the input of others into the process of revision. In short, Cicero made his philosophical works dynamic collective affairs, both infratextually and extratextually, with the dramatic mise-en-scenes in these texts mirroring the methodologies for their creation, revision, and distribution. Through these means, Cicero delineated whom he envisioned as the readership for his scholarship. (57)
If we take just Definibus as an example, we can see Cicero implementing and integrating all these strategies. (58) In the preface to Book 1 (1.1), he immediately addresses Brutus before stating explicitly later on that this treatise is recompense for Brutus's dedication of his De virtute to him (1.8), thereby making it clear that this treatise is part of a larger dialogue between the two. (59) Cicero also portrays the topic under investigation as something that he has previously debated in person with others. He refers to a discussion that he had with L. Manlius Torquatus and with C. Triarius at his estate in Cumae, where they debated the Epicurean belief that pleasure is the highest good (1.13f.). (60) Book 3 appropriates the deceased Cato into this dialogue as the spokesman for Stoicism by presenting a fictionalized meeting between Cicero and Cato at Lucullus's library (3.7f.), while the last book, set in Athens in 79 BCE, features a discussion between much younger versions of Cicero, his brother Quintus, his late cousin Lucius, and Atticus about Antiochus of Ascalon's views on ethics (5.If.). (61) In each case, the narrative frame presents an established, intellectually engaged aristocratic community with Cicero at the center, an image that was simultaneously a wish for and an expectation of the future audience for this text (Steel 2013, 224, 228-31). On an extratextual level, of course, Cicero could expect Brutus's help in promoting this tract, since it was dedicated to him. In addition, it seems likely that Cicero was happy enough to have Balbus as an early adopter of this text (although he wished that Balbus had not obtained a copy before Brutus), since he would be a useful advocate for it (Murphy 1998, 503). Such networking would also have a strong influence on the future audience for De finibus.
What is obvious--so obvious that it is easy to overlook, actually--about the audience that Cicero envisions and attempts to construct for De finibus and for all his philosophical works from this period is that he imagined the readership for these tracts as composed almost exclusively of rich, aristocratic Roman males. With the exception of Cratippus in the Timaeus (an unusual, innovative, and possibly unfinished dialogue), (62) Cicero deliberately avoids including Greek philosophers or any other aliens in these dialogues, despite the fact that Greek intellectuals were commonly found in the retinue of a Roman aristocrat. While they might attend lectures by Greek intellectuals or read books by them, the characters in Cicero's dialogues are Romans who appropriate and interpret this intellectual tradition within a conspicuously Roman cultural environment. (63) In his reception of the philosophical dialogue, Cicero also rather carefully degenderized and desexualized this distinctly Greek literary form. Besides avoiding the explicit homoerotic undertones found often in the Greek antecedents, women make no appearances in Cicero's dialogues. As Jerise Fogel (2009, 79) observes in comparison with Plato's Symposium where the flute-girls leave before the philosophizing begins, "Cicero's ideal of masculine camaraderie and earnest discussion is ... not set consciously in relief as Plato's was. It is assumed as an unquestioned background."
Cicero's desire for an audience composed of elite Roman males is understandable in light of his goals for this discourse. Cut off largely from his usual avenues of public service during Caesar's dictatorship, Cicero saw philosophy as a new way to serve the state. (64) He is quite explicit about this in a letter from April 46 BCE to Varro, to whom he later dedicated the Academica:
non deesse si quis adhibere volet, non modo ut architectos verum etiam ut fabros, ad aedificandam rem publicam, et potius libenter accurrere; si nemo utetur opera, tamen et scribere et legere TtokixsiccC et, si minus in curia atque in foro, at in litteris et libris, ut doctissimi veteres fecerunt, gubernare rem publicam et de moribus ac legibus quaerere. (Fam. 9.2.5 =177 SB) If anyone wishes to summon us, not only as architects, but even as builders to construct a constitution, we will not be lacking and, rather, we will happily hasten. If no one should use our work, we would nevertheless read and write Republics and, if less in the senate house and the forum, then in literary endeavors and books, as the most learned men of old did, we will guide the state and make scholarly inquiries concerning customs and laws.
As "a statesman without a State" during this period, to use Jonathan Zarecki's (2014, 213) memorable turn of phrase, (65) Cicero redirected his patriotic energies into the intellectual edification of his countrymen through literature, particularly philosophy, as he makes clear in the preface to Book 1 of De finibus:
ego vero, cum forensibus operis, laboribus, periculis non deseruisse mihi videar praesidium in quo a populo Romano locatus sum, debeo profecto, quantumcumque possum, in eo quoque elaborare, ut sint opera studio labore meo doctiores cives mei. (1.10) But since amid public duties, struggles, and dangers I consider myself never to have deserted the post at which I was stationed by the Roman people, certainly I ought likewise to work as hard as I can at this, in order that my fellow citizens might be intellectually improved by my energy, enthusiasm, and labor.
Here Cicero again portrays philosophy as a worthy alternative to his previous activities in the public sphere. This is a common refrain in the prologues to his philosophical works, which largely function as an apologia for the practice of Latin philosophy.
Given the functional relationship that Cicero appears to have envisioned between the makeup of this intended audience for his philosophy and the purpose that he intended for this discourse, the presence of Caerellia among the early readers of De Jhiibus could have proved problematic. While he must have expected that people beyond his narrow vision for his readership would eventually read these tracts, Cicero likely did not anticipate someone from outside his ideal audience obtaining a copy so early in the process of distribution. Yet by acquiring a copy of this text at this sensitive moment, Caerellia could have been perceived, contrary to Cicero's wishes, as part of his desired audience for this tract. If that happened, Caerellia had the potential to disrupt Cicero's intended function for this discourse. Just as before Caesar's dominion, Roman citizen women had no publicly acknowledged function in guiding the state. (66) Given this fact, in addition to idly speculating about the nature of Cicero and Caerellia's relationship, some might have wondered if Cicero's brand of philosophical inquiry was actually more of a private, pedantic exercise rather than a dynamic intellectual and political endeavor, given the fact that Caerellia--someone whose philosophical interests could only be academic, in our sense of the word, and could never be directed towards statecraft--had a prominent place in its initial circulation. Potentially, Caerellia could undo the work that Cicero had done to redeem philosophical discourse in the eyes of the Roman elite and could reduce it once again to being the idle--and, perhaps more worrisomely, the lascivious--pursuit of Greeklings. (67) Now, would this be a reasonable fear on Cicero's part? Most likely not, but Cicero was someone who fretted greatly about the reception of his work. (68) At the very least, Cicero would have perceived that Caerellia, as a woman, was incongruent at a basic level with his politicized form of philosophy, if not anathema to the entire basis of this project.
V. The Practice of Ideology
By way of conclusion let me note that it was not simply the general absence of women in politics that would have hindered Caerellia's participation in Cicero's politically orientated philosophy. There was also an ideological rationale for the marginalization of women in this written res publica, which Caerellia could have overcome only with difficulty, precisely because it was philosophy that partly sanctioned and upheld this rationale. Here, as we shall see, practice and ideology not only were intimately linked but also served to reinforce and justify each other.
Cicero's comment to Atticus about Caerellia's interest in philosophy (mirifice Caerellia studio videlicet philosophiae flagrans [Caerellia, evidently inflamed wondrously by her passion for philosophy ..., Aft. 13.21a.2 = SB 327]) hints, I believe, albeit in an oblique fashion, at this ideological justification for why Caerellia could not take a prominent role in Cicero's philosophical discourse. Commentators (e.g., Murphy 1998, 502 and Skinner 2011, 16) have generally taken this line as disparaging toward Caerellia but they have not parsed it further. Obviously, as Cicero emphasizes (mirifice ... videlicet), Caerillia's pursuit of this subject seems a little too impassioned. She is inflamed (flagrans), that is, out of control with a desire for philosophy. (69) It verges on being a bodily experience for her. Such a negative evaluation of Caerellia is interesting because it fits within a long tradition in Western culture, including Greco-Roman times, of portraying women as passive, emotive readers rather than dispassionate, analytical masculine readers. (70) For Romans in particular, however, this stereotype was actually just one element in a larger epistemology that helped to justify the general repression of women. The dominant cultural ideology characterized women as lacking in the self-control and logical detachment (animi levitas being the technical term) needed for full participation in the civic, social, and legal life of the Roman state. (71) By remarking on her excessive passion for philosophy, Cicero may have been subtly (perhaps even unconsciously) invoking this larger ideological reason why Caerellia was not an appropriate participant in his imagined community of philosophically enlightened Roman statesmen. (72) Caerillia by her nature could not partake in these debates about the future of the res publica in a cogent and rational manner. (73)
I may be over-reading this reference on Cicero's part about Caerellia's passion for philosophy, but I find it tempting to see such an epistemology of gender permeating Cicero's slight of Caerellia's philosophical interests. This epistemology is a worldview, complete with its defining binaries (reason/passion, controlled/out-of-control, male/female), which reappears in Cicero's philosophy, particularly in his critique of Epicureanism, including in the first two books of De finibus. Cicero's opposition to Epicureanism is well-trodden territory. (74) To summarize briefly: Epicureanism from Cicero's perspective is problematic because it promotes the pursuit of pleasure and prioritizes pleasure above all else, leading to antisocial and therefore anti-Republican behavior on the part of its practitioners. (75) As Pamela Gordon (2012, 109-38) observes, however, Cicero deploys highly gendered concepts, particularly feminine voluptas contrasted with masculine virtus, in his critique of this sect. In the Roman imagination, voluptas was opposed to dolor, and endurance of such dolor was a key aspect of Roman hegemonic masculinity, (76) a concept best embodied in virtus (essentially, control of one's body, both physically and emotionally) (Gordon, 2012, 118-20). In contrast, the characteristic par excellence for women in Roman epistemology was, as I just mentioned, a lack of self-control, that is, an inability to endure such dolor and thus a surrender to pleasure. (77) Consequently, voluptas and the excessive pursuit of it became marked as a feminine trait and virtus regarded as a masculine quality. Since Epicureanism was commonly perceived as elevating pleasure into a guiding principle, the Epicurean ethical system posed, as Gordon (2012, 109) observes, an existential threat to traditional Roman society, by threatening "to disrupt a requisite component of Roman public life: the vigilant maintenance of the masculine self." (78)
Insofar as the first two books of De finibus involve a critique of Epicurean ethics (which, at one point, Cicero describes as a duel between voluptas and virtus), (79) one can easily imagine another reason why Cicero was unenthused to have a woman prominently associated with this tract. In the text Cicero strongly critiques Epicurean ethics for essentially being womanly and thus threatening to the traditional hierarchy of values in Roman society. Nonetheless, what I find most interesting about Cicero's gendered critique of Epicureanism is how it puts on display the relationship between Roman philosophical discourse and gender ideology. As I have argued, the exclusion of women from politics enabled and justified the observed gender segregation in Cicero's philosophy. Yet, as Cicero's evaluation of Epicureanism demonstrates, philosophical discourse was in fact one way by which the ideology of gender justified this exclusion and so was reproduced and validated in Roman society. In other words, Caerellia was not only incompatible with Cicero's philosophical project because women did not participate in statecraft, but also antithetical to statecraft because of some of the inherent biases already present in Cicero's Romanized version of philosophy. In short, the system was stacked against Caerellia, with both practical and ideological factors related to her gender militating against her participation in this intellectual community.
My observations should not occasion surprise, of course. Philosophy certainly was not an emancipatory force in the ancient world, especially when it came to gender. Barbara Levick's (2002, 151) judgment on the matter, while harsh, is not unwarranted:
Ancient philosophy and philosophers failed women. With the exception of Cynicism, it challenged little about ancient society but rather rationalized and justified existing stratifications. In Rome it had to undergo additional scrutiny by an entrenched set of possessors. In the stratification of society by property passed down by one paterfamilias to the next, women could be made invisible, and philosophy merely reinforced the status quo.
In this paper I have shown how and why philosophy 'failed' women, at least in the case of Cicero's philosophy. Obviously, the many gaps in our knowledge regarding Caerellia and her relationship with Cicero make it impossible for us to conclude definitively that it was Caerellia's gender, and only her gender, which caused Cicero to react as he did to her acquisition of a pre-publication copy of Definibus. Nonetheless, I believe that we can more safely state that it would have been challenging for any woman in this era, Caerellia included, to assume a privileged place in the publication process for Cicero's philosophical tracts, due to both the social structures governing gender relations in late Republican Rome and Cicero's own goals for his philosophica. Caerellia would always be on the outside looking in because Roman philosophy was, particularly as far as Cicero was concerned, a man's world both within and beyond the confines of these texts. (80)
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(1) I quote Cicero's correspondence from Shackleton Bailey's various Cambridge editions of this corpus (1965-1970 and 1977), while I use Reynolds' (1998) Oxford Classical Text for Definibus. All translations are my own,
(2) I will not be engaging with Cicero's philosophical arguments in De finibus, except for a very brief discussion towards the end of this paper, since the topic of this treatise has little bearing on my larger argument. For overviews of the philosophical topics at issue in De finibus, see Patzig 1979 and Annas 2001; see now also Inwood 2015, 51-72 and Woolf 2015, 125-200 for the place of Cicero's work on ethics in the broader context of the ancient philosophical tradition.
(3) See, e.g., the index to Annas 1993 for an abundance of citations from De finibus.
(4) On Balbus's life see Munzer 1901 and Masciantonio 1967.
(5) On Balbus's political influence and role under Caesar's dictatorship, see Syme 1939, 71-2; Welch 1990, 62-3; and Lamberty 2005.
(6) Cicero offers testimony to their good relations in his speech on Balbus's behalf (Balb. 58-9).
(7) See White 2003, esp. 76 and, more generally, 73-80, on this epistolary tactic on Caesar's part.
(8) On Caerellia and her relationship with Cicero, Austin (1946) provides a fanciful account, while Skinner (2011, 14-8) offers more insightful analysis of the available evidence. I will be reviewing much of this evidence over the course of this paper. On Roman women and philosophy, see Hemelrijk 1999, 37-41, 51-3 and Levick 2002.
(9) Quintilian (Inst. 63.112), Cassius Dio (46.18.3-4), and Ausonius (Cento, nupt. p. 153 Green) all mention reading this correspondence.
(10) It is unclear from the Latin whether Atticus acted on his own initiative in providing copies of this text to Balbus and Caerellia or whether they requested copies and Atticus obliged. This ambiguity may even be deliberate, particularly in the case of Caerellia, as we shall see.
(11) On this topic, Starr (1987) and Iddeng (2006) provide excellent overviews.
(12) Cf. Starr 1987,215: "When strangers could acquire copies of a work, that work can be said to have been made public or to have been released." Starr goes on to suggest that scholars should avoid the term 'publish' in discussions of ancient book culture "because it unavoidably bears a burden of modern implication." Nonetheless, I will make use of the term 'publish' and its cognates in this paper because, while there are clear technological differences between the ancient and modern publication processes, the basic sociocultural function remains the same in all historical eras: namely, publication is simply the "process of producing a public artifact and inserting it in a particular social circuit" (Duguid 1996, 81).
(13) It was once supposed that Atticus was Cicero's publisher, who would produce and sell his friend's books. Winsbury (2008, 53-6) offers a succinct summary and correction of this erroneous view. See Sommer 1926 and Dortmund 2001 for more sustained critiques.
(14) This episode is actually one of the prime examples of the importance of the gift copy to the dedicatee; cf. Phillips 1986, 234; Starr 1987, 218; and Fantham 1996, 65.
(15) See Murphy 1998, 502 who proposes a few possible reasons. Otherwise, the issue is ignored even when it is relevant (e.g., Dortmund 2001, 272-5).
(16) Iddeng (2006, 77) disagrees somewhat with Starr's assessment and argues that there was a larger role for commercial transactions in the imperial age; however, he believes (2006, 64-8) that private distribution was the default mode for dissemination of texts in the late Republic,
(17) See note 11 above. In Cicero's era, there did exist a commercial book-trade (see note 16 above), but it was negligible at best and certainly would not have been something that any Roman aristocrat worth his salt would have considered an appropriate way of acquiring a newly published book from a fellow member of the elite: Starr 1987, 221-2.
(18) On vertical patronage, see White 1993.
(19) This economy of dedications manifests lexically with the term munus and its derivations since munus, unlike similar terms such as donum or beneficium, implies reciprocal obligations (Stroup 2010, 93-6). The cover letter to the Academica, which was dedicated to Varro, is perhaps the most explicit manifesto of these sorts of gift-exchanges (Fam. 9.8.1 = 254 SB).
De finibus itself was a repayment on Cicero's part for Brutus's dedication of De virtute to him: quamquam a te ipso id quidem facio provocatus gratissimo mihi libro quem ad me de virtute misisti (although 1 actually do this having been motivated by you with that most pleasing book on virtue that you sent me, Fin. 1.8). For Brutus's own philosophical program, see Sedley 1997, 41-53.
(20) Bourdieu (1980, 263-5) observes that established figures in a field of cultural production often endorse and support new entrants into their field in order to reaffirm their own cultural authority. While Cicero is not exactly a new entrant into the field, the sociocultural dynamic is still the same.
(21) Murphy 1998, 505 et passim. See also Baraz 2012, 204-12.
(22) The scholarship on these systems of power relations and their various manifestations is vast. But see in particular Sailer 1984; Brunt 1988; Veyne 1990; Dixon 1993; and Coffee 2009, 7-30.
(23) The bibliography on these various subsectors within the larger economy of Roman society is also immense. See, inter alia, the following: Verboven 2002, who discusses how the financial economy interacts with the economy of amicitia; Wilcox 2012, 25-39, who describes the gift economy of Roman epistolography; and Bowditch 2001, 19-64, who examines the gift economy of literary patronage, particularly in Horace's poetry.
(24) Anthropologists have long observed that this practice provides both ideological and material support for traditional patriarchal structures; Mauss (1990 ) and Levi-Strauss (1969, 60-8) provide the seminal analyses. For feminist critiques of these analyses, see Rubin 1975, Irigaray 1985, Cowie 1990, and Joy 1999.
(25) See Dixon 1985 on the traffic in women in the Republic via the institution of marriage. The Roman nomenclature system would suggest the importance of such human trafficking. Roman women did not take a new familial name upon marriage. Instead, by virtue of the fact that their name was a feminization of their father's nomen, these new brides publicized the alliance that now existed between the two familiae.
(26) Williams (2012, 143-8) provides further discussion on such triangulated relations between men in Roman society. See also Wray 2001, 64-112.
(27) The problematic position that women occupied in Greek culture as both givers and givens has been a topic of scholarly discussion in the last two decades; see, in particular, Rabinowitz 1993, Wohl 1998, and Lyons 2012. I know of no comparable study focused on Roman culture.
(28) Lipman-Blumen 1976, 16-7. The focus of her study is modern Western society but her conclusions are transferable to Roman society.
(29) The courtesan of elegy, operating in the nebulous space between prostitute and legitimate wife, brings this logic into the sharpest relief; see James 2003, 36--41. See also Coffee 2013, 81-9 and his reading of Ovid's Amores 1.10, in which Ovid exposes the logic underlying exchanges of capital in Roman heterosexual relations by presenting the lover poet's complaints about his relationship with his puella within a parodically monetized framework.
(30) Here I should emphasize that I am speaking of the normative practices prescribed by the dominant male centric ideology and not necessarily of empirical reality.
Stroup (2010, 141-54) and Wilcox (2012, 79-98) note, respectively, that the young male can serve as an item exchanged between men to strengthen social bonds in the institutions of the tirocinium fori and the commendatio. While there may be erotic overtones to these exchanges, however, these bartered men are not explicitly sexualized; moreover, just as Sedgwick (1985, 4) notes with reference to the Greek social institution of pederasty, which treated young males as social commodities, "the assignment of this role is not permanent" since the young male eventually grew out of it. This was not possible for women in Roman society, however. See also Gunderson 2000, 187-222 who provides an account of the homosociality of Roman rhetoric and the simultaneous careful suppression of explicit homosexual desire.
(31) On Brutus and Cicero's relationship, see Baraz 2012, 204-11.
(32) Cf. King 2004, 199 on Ovid's dedication of the Fasti to Germanicus: "The elegiac text operates in place of a feminine object of desire situated between male poet and male reader" as "an alluring, sharable object of libidinal investment."
(33) Interestingly, the language that Cicero uses to describe the circulation of these texts aligns well with how Roman poets (mostly imperial ones, I should note) problematized and characterized their own discursive practices. They treated the literary process essentially as a sexual act between a male writer and a gendered female text. This metaphor found expression in multiple genres of literature but was particularly popular in elegy, where the lover-poet often collapsed the distinction between their beloveds and the physical texts; see Keith 1994 and Farrell 1999. In addition, it was a standard trope to portray a male character's sexual relations with a female character as a metaphor for the creative act; see Gubar 1981 and Sharrock 1991.
(34) Murphy (1998, 503) comes to a similar conclusion but without accounting for the system of homosocial relations that produced this result: "Balbus was a man of very definite importance in Cicero's political and social circle.... This is sufficient to explain why Cicero should treat him with rather more respect than he treated his necessaria Caerellia." Murphy (1998, 501) notes that it is probable that Balbus attended various convivia at which drafts of Cicero's philosophica were read. Balbus was also someone whose literary opinions Cicero respected (cf. Att. 13.19.2 = 326 SB). When he drafted a letter of advice to Caesar on the model of Aristotle's letters to Alexander, Cicero first sent a draft of this epistle to Balbus (Att. 12.51.2 = 293 SB; 12.52.2 = 294 SB; 13.1.3 = 296 SB; and 13.28.2 = 299 SB); see McConnell 2013, 195-219.
(35) The verb satisfacio suggests some sort of obligation: financial (OLD, s.h.v. 1), moral (OLD, s.h.v. 2), or personal (OLD, s.h.v. 3-5).
(36) See Dortmund 2001, 273 on the possible consequences.
(37) Stroup (2010, 15 note 13) observes that there is only one treatise from the late Republic, Varro's De re rustica, which is dedicated to a woman. Stroup does not address the sociocultural implications of heterosocial dedications, as that topic falls beyond the scope of her study.
(38) See Habinek 1998, 122-36 on the docta puella and the ideological barriers a woman faced, if she wished to engage in the production of literature.
(39) See Williams 2012, 91-6 for an excellent treatment of the problematic nature of heterosociality in Roman society.
(40) Deniaux (1993, 473-4) attempts to reconstruct the details regarding the background of this commendatio. For a prosopography of Cicero's necessarii, among whom Cicero counted Brutus (Fam. 13.1 1.2 = 278 SB), see Rowland 1970.
(41) On the lost books of Cicero's epistulae, see Nicholson 1998, 76-9.
(42) Cf. Hemelrijk 1999, 190 and Skinner 2011, 16-7. See Hoffer 2007, 94-6 on Cicero's use of the term stomachus.
Interestingly, this fragment may even suggest Pompeian leanings on Caerellia's part, and this could be posited as another reason why Cicero did want her prominently associated with De finibus. 1 would note, however, that Brutus and Varro, to whom Cicero dedicated several of his philosophical works, initially supported Pompey in the civil war, just as Cicero had. So it seems unlikely that Caerellia's political sympathies, which are impossible to reconstruct with any degree of certainty, would have had any effect on Cicero's attitude regarding her access to De finibus.
(43) Cicero may have eventually repaid this debt to Caerellia with his share of an inheritance (Att. 15.26.4 = 404 SB); see Ioannatou 2006, 273--4, 405.
(44) In addition to helping with ready cash flows, these debts functioned as another type of exchange with which male Roman elites engaged in order to foster greater ties; cf. Verboven 2002, passim but esp. 346-51.
(45) Cicero provides a fuller version of this quotation from an unknown Roman tragedy author in Topica 55: hoc metuere, alterum in metu non ponere! / earn quam nihil accusas damnas, bene quam / meritam esse autumas / dicis male merere? / id quod seis prodest nihil; id quod nescis obest? (Strange to fear this and not the other. You condemn this woman whom you do not accuse; do you say that she whom you assert is worthy of praise deserves punishment? What you know does not benefit you; does what you do not know hurt you?). While it is tempting to turn the fuller version of this quotation into a more complex commentary on his relationship with Caerellia, on another occasion Cicero uses the shorter version of this quotation as a simple rhetorical device to conclude a point (Att. 14.21.3 = 375 SB).
(46) A century and a half later, Ausonius offers a similar, though less damning, reading of Cicero and Caerellia's correspondence: in praeceptis Ciceronis exstare severitatem, in epistulis ad Caerelliam subesse petulantiam (In Cicero's teachings there was plenty of sternness, but there were notes of cheekiness in his letters to Caerellia, Cento, nupt. p. 153 Green).
(47) Cf. Hemelrijk 1999, 190-1 ; Skinner 2011, 17; and Williams 2012,93.
(48) These impediments toward nonsexual heterosocial relations, of course, also had the effect of helping to maintain male hegemony in this society by effectively limiting Roman women's access to many forms of capital; see Lipman-Blumen 1976, 29-31.
(49) It is tempting to suppose that this anxiety caused Servilius's hesitancy to oblige Cicero's earlier recommendation of Caerellia; cf. Fam. 13.72 = 300 SB: sed tamen Caerelliae procuratores scripserunt te propter magnitudinem provinciae multitudinemque negotiorum etiam atque etiam esse commonefaciendum (Nonetheless, the agents for Caerellia wrote that you must be reminded again and again due to the size of your province and the scope of your responsibilities).
(50) One could place Cicero's tactic in this case under the rubric of what Hall terms redressive politeness: "Linguistic strategies that attempt to compensate for the threat to face involved in certain types of social interactions" (cf. Hall 2009, 107 and, more generally, 107-34).
(51) Strictly speaking, delictum is wrongdoing that can be prosecuted under private law, but the word is often employed with a less legalistic meaning (OLD, s.h.v.: "an act which falls short of an approved standard of conduct"). Within this rubric of private trespasses, delictum can refer to sexual misconduct (e.g., Seneca, Ben. 3.16.4; Tacitus, Ann. 2.85.3).
(52) Rawson (1985, 282-97) documents the wide range of philosophical writings that survive only in fragments or reference in other sources. See also Zetzel 2015.
(53) On Cicero's innovations to this discourse, see Beard 1986, 38-40.
(54) I have found Michael Warner's (2002) ideas about how "publics" are constructed for various discourses helpful in formulating my understanding of Cicero's strategies with these texts.
(55) On the dialogic form of Cicero's philosophica and its significance, see Schofield 2008, Gildenhard 2013, and Steel 2013. On Cicero's use of historical figures in his dialogues, see Hanchey 2014.
(56) Cf. Schmidt 1978/1979, 119; Striker 1995, 54; and Steel 2004, 106-14. There is also didactic element to Cicero's use of the dialogue, as Annas (2001, xii, xv) and Steel (2004, 110) observe.
(57) Of course, this readership will never entirely match with Cicero's ideal audience; however, Cicero's vision for this audience would exercise a strong influence on its actual formation.
(58) For another reading of the preface to Definibus, see Baraz 2012, 113-27.
(59) Cf. Henderson 2005, 174: "Through his revolutionary ancestor L. Brutus, this twinning of (like-minded) 'friends' makes of Cicero a 'we' that takes in the entire founding establishing of Rome as the free Republic normed to an aristocratic ethos that by definition included the parsimonious incorporation of meritorious recruits."
(60) The selection of participants, of course, may also be used in order to undermine or aid a particular argument. Fish (2011, 87-8) observes that Cicero's use of Torquatus in this dialogue, who died two years before in battle, questions the value of the Epicurean precepts which Torquatus is supposedly advocating.
(61) See Annas 2001, xvi-xvii on the significance of these settings.
(62) See Sedley 2013 and Hutchinson 2013, 253-6 on this dialogue. Cicero's work on this dialogue seems to postdate Definibus (Sedley 2013, 189-94).
(63) See Beard 1986, 38-40; Gildenhard 2013, 261-2; and Steel 2013, 229. All comment on various aspects of this nationalistic tendency in Cicero's depiction of philosophical inquiry and dialogue among the Roman elite.
(64) This is, by now, a well-established point in scholarship (cf. Zetzel 2013 in the most recent handbook on Cicero); see also Gorier 1990; Gildenhard 2007, 1-4 et passim; Baraz 2012, 67-95; and McConnell 2014, 33-61.
(65) See Zarecki 2014, 113-4 for a discussion of this passage, including its allusions to other works within Cicero's oeuvre.
(66) In contrast, it is easy to imagine how Balbus would fit within this audience, since he could have a direct influence over decisions regarding the future of the state as a trusted advisor to Caesar.
Of course, women in the late Republic did have influence through nonpublic channels; see Dixon 1983 and Brennan 2012. This influence, however, is the exception that proves the rule of male dominance in the political realm.
(67) Gildenhard (2013, 261-3) charts the demarcation that Cicero constructs between the Greek and Roman practices of philosophy.
(68) Case in point, Cicero's anxiety about how Varro would receive the Academica, a work dedicated to him and featuring him (Att. 13.22.1-2 = 329 SB; 13.24.1 = 332 SB; 13.25.3 = 333 SB). Perhaps not coincidentally, this anxiety coincided with the situation surrounding Caerellia and De finihus.
(69) The participle form of flagrare, when used metaphorically, generally connotes a lack of control, hence its application to emotions such as amor (e.g., Propertius 1.13.23; Horace, Carrn. 1.25.13). Cicero applies it to people in order to designate someone infected with a passion that they are having difficulty controlling, to either positive or negative effect (e.g., Sest. 134.9; Brut. 327.13; Scaur. 134; De orat. 2.190.4; and Sen. 50.10). Its application to a woman is uncommon; as far as I am aware, this example with Caerellia is the only one in Cicero's works (though see Catullus 68.73 and Lucretius 4.1165).
(70) See Habinek 1998, esp. 128 and, more generally, 122-35. For this stereotype of female readers in more modem times, see Littau 2006, 125--53.
(71) This animi levitas is commonly propagated as the reason why women must be in a tutela even when they are adults. See Gaius, Inst. 1.144: veteres enim voluerunt feminas, etiamsi perfectae aetatis sint, propter animi levitatem in tutela esse (For previous generations wished women, even if they are full-grown adults, to be subject to guardianships on account their mental simplicity). See Dixon 1984, 356-8 for a catalogue of male writers discussing the supposed feminine "defectiveness" in regards to self-control and judgment.
(72) Cf. Cicero, Mur. 27: midieres omnis propter infirmitatem consili maiores in tutorum potestate esse voluerunt (Our ancestors wished that all women be in the power of a guardian in light of the weakness in their mental faculties). Dixon (1984) argues that this view is the result of importation of ideas about gender from Hellenistic philosophy (e.g., Aristotle, Pol. 1260a), which are then used to explain the origins of this archaic legal institution; contra, see Evans 1991,21-4. In any event, the origin of this ideology is immaterial to my argument.
(73) Note the gendered and sexualized language that Cicero uses to invalidate Leontion's criticism of Theophrastus: meretricula etiam Leontium contra Theophrastum scribere ausa est--scito ilia quidem sermone et Attico, sed tamen: tantum Epicuri hortus habuit licentiae (Even that whore Leontion dared to write against Theophrastus--she did so, in fact, with impressive Attic diction but still! Such is the license that the Epicurean school grants, Nat. D. 1.95). Cf. Gordon 2012, 76.
(74) I speak here only of Cicero's skewed viewpoint on Epicurean beliefs. On Cicero's understanding of Epicurean ethics, see Stokes 1995 and Nicgorski 2002.
(75) See Hanchey 2013, 120 for further discussion.
(76) Gordon 2012, 110-2; cf, Cicero, Fin. 1.24: sed ut omittam pericula, labores, dolorem etiam quem optimus quisque pro patria et pro suis suscipit, ut non modo nullam captet sed etiam praetereat omnes voluptates, dolores denique quosvis suscipere malit quam deserere ullam officii partem (But I skip over the dangers, toil, and even pain which each good citizen accepts on behalf of his country and people, such that he not only does not seek any enjoyment for himself but he actually neglects all pleasures, preferring to endure any suffering than to forsake any aspect of his duty).
(77) Cf. Cicero, Tuse. 2.15: quorum princeps et auctoritate et antiquitate, Socraticus Aristippus, non dubitavit summum malum dolorem dicere. deinde ad hanc enervatam muliebremque sententiam satis docilem se Epicurus praebuit (The first, both in terms of influence and date, was Aristippus the Socratic who did not hesitate to say that pain was the greatest evil. Then Epicurus showed himself responsive to this spineless and effeminate view).
(78) Cf. Cicero, Fin. 1.34-6 on why Epicurean ethics are not compatible with the value system of the Roman elite.
(79) Cicero, Fin. 2.44: quos nisi redarguimus, omnis virtus, omne decus, omnis vera laus deserenda est. ita ceterorum sententiis semotis relinquitur non mihi cum Torquato, sed virtuti cum voluptate certatio (Unless we rebut these men, we must abandon all virtue, all honor, all true merit. Thus, when the viewpoints of all the other schools are put aside, there remains a contest, not between me and Torquatus, but between virtus and voluptas). Cf. Gordon 2012, 112.
(80) I owe thanks to a number of people who helped to shape and improve this paper as it developed over several iterations. (The standard disclaimer, of course, applies: whatever errors remain are my responsibility alone.) Brad Inwood, in whose seminar on De finibus this paper had its genesis, provided not only an insightful critique of the initial draft but also encouragement to pursue the project. Comments from a receptive audience at the Classical Association of Canada annual meeting in Halifax in 2011 on the next draft gave me the impetus to continue further. Nathan Gilbert, Melanie Racette-Campbell, Jarrett Welsh, and Erik Gunderson provided valuable critiques on the antepenultimate version of this paper. And last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank the anonymous readers for Flelios for their suggestions and comments.
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