XXX

MAY 18, 44 B.C.

UNDERMINING ANTONY

Cicero must have received a favorable hearing from Hirtius, for, confident of strong backing, Cicero had decided to return to Rome to pursue the fight against Antony in the Senate once it resumed sitting. One of the tactics he would employ would be encouragement of young Octavian’s bid to undermine Antony’s support among those who remained faithful to the memory of Caesar. To Cicero’s mind, if Antony could be made powerless, democracy could be preserved. There was hope yet for the Republic.

Cicero departed his Puteoli villa on May 17 and went first to Cumae to attend a funeral. He had a farm at Cumae, but he continued on to Sinuessa, where he had another, and spent the night there. He was carrying a copy of the speech that Brutus had delivered in Rome following Caesar’s murder, for Brutus had asked him to polish it before it was published.

As Cicero wrote to Atticus on the morning of May 18, he considered Brutus’s original speech elegant but lacking in the rhetorical “thunder-bolts” that were called for on such an occasion. Cicero had rewritten the speech. “Given his chosen style and his judgment of what is the best style of oratory,” Cicero wrote, “our good Brutus has in this speech attained it with perfect elegance. But I have aimed at something different, whether rightly or wrongly.”¹

Cicero continued on his way to Rome.

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