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A passage in Cicero's Pro Quinctio

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A passage in Cicero's Pro Quinctio

Postby horus92 » Fri Sep 26, 2014 12:16 am

So I'm reading Cicero's Pro Quinctio, one of his earliest speeches and there's a passage the import of which I'm not sure I grasp.

To put the context as simply as possible (it's a painfully convoluted private legal dispute), Cicero is responding to Sextus Naevius, who says he did not bring a certain matter to court because one of the parties involved on the opposing side - Sextus Alfenus - had friends in the party of Gaius Marius, in power at the time, and a tribune of that party, Marcus Brutus, would have interceded if the affair had been brought to law then. Sextus Alfenus, though on the other side of this legal dispute, had been raised in Naevius' household. Cicero is saying that Naevius, too, was a supporter of Marius at the time.

'Erat,' inquit [Naevius], 'illarum partium.' Quidni? qui apud te esset educatus, quem tu a puero sic instituisses ut nobili ne gladiatori quidem faveret. Si, quod tu semper summe cupisti, idem volebat Alfenus, ea re tibi cum eo par contentio non erat?

My problem is with the "nobili ne gladiatori quidem". Is Cicero saying, "Why not? He who was raised by you, whom you from childhood taught not to favor so much as a noble gladiator."? As in, "you were so much part of the popular party you wouldn't even have him favor a noble/well-known gladiator, let alone the "nobles"/optimates."
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Re: A passage in Cicero's Pro Quinctio

Postby Qimmik » Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:25 pm

This online translation seems to share your perplexity here, suggesting that the text is corrupt:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0018%3Atext%3DQuinct.%3Achapter%3D21

Your idea is probably right, though: being a partisan of Marius--the implacable enemy of the senatorial class--he would not even have favored a noble/notable gladiator. This would be a witty pun on the word nobilis, whose base meaning is "well-known" (as might be applied to a gladiator, who certainly would not have belonged to the Roman aristocracy) but in the context of Roman politics came to refer to someone from an old-line senatorial family.

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.12:743.lewisandshort

Marius was of course the prototypical nouus homo, a man who managed through sheer ability to attain the consulship without belonging to a consular/senatorial family. Cicero was another, and if I'm not mistaken he had some familial relationship to Marius (they were both from Arpinum), but he aligned himself with the senatorial class in the last decades of the Roman Republic, and felt very insecure about his equestrian background.
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Re: A passage in Cicero's Pro Quinctio

Postby horus92 » Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:35 pm

Thanks! It's always gratifying when a passage that has you confused turns out to be corrupt :)
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Re: A passage in Cicero's Pro Quinctio

Postby Qimmik » Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:44 am

You were right to be puzzled by this passage, but I don't think it's corrupt. I think it's just a joke that requires a certain amount of background information about Roman history and politics in the late Republic.
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