woensdag 30 juni 2010

Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius

was a Roman grammarian and neoplatonic philosopher during the reign of Honorius and Arcadius (395-423)

The most important of his works is the Saturnalia, containing an account of the discussions held at the house of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus (praetorian prefect from May 21 - Sept. 9, A.D. 384) during the holiday of the Saturnalia starting on December 17. It was written by the author for the benefit of his son Eustathius (or Eustachius)

In his second book, chapter two, Macrobius relates a number of anecdotes concerning Marcus Tullius Cicero: consul 63 B.C., orator, writer, philosopher.

I.When he (Cicero) was dining at the house of Damasippus, his host produced a very ordinary wine, saying, “Try this Falernian; it is forty years old.”
“ Young for his age,” replied Cicero.

II.Seeing his son-in-law Lentulus (who was a very short man) wearing a long sword, he said: “ who has buckled my son-in-law to that sword?”

III.The consulship of Vatinius which lasted for only a few days gave Cicero an opportunity for some humorous sayings, which had wide currency. “Vatinius’s term of office,” he said, “has presented a remarkable portent, for in his consulship there has been neither winter, spring, summer, nor autumn.”

IV.And again, when Vatinius complained that Cicero had found it too much trouble to come to see him in his sickness, he replied:” It was my intention to come while you were consul, but night overtook me.”

V.Pompeius found Cicero’s witticisms tiresome, and the following sayings of Cicero were current: “I know whom to avoid, but I do not know whom to follow.”

Again, when he had come to join Pompeius, to those who were saying that he was late in coming he retorted: “ Late? Not at all, for I see nothing ready here yet.”

VI.Then, when Laberius toward the end of the Games received from Caesar the honour of the gold ring of knighthood and went straightaway to the fourteen rows to watch the scene from there - only to find that the knights had felt themselves affronted by the degradation of one of their order and his offhand restoration - as he was passing Cicero, in his search for a seat, the latter said to him:

“ I should have been glad to have you beside me were I not already pressed for room”; meaning by these words to snub the man and at the same time to make fun of the new Senate, whose number had been unduly increased by Caesar. Here, however, Cicero got as good as he gave, for Laberius replied: “ I am surprised that you of all people should be pressed for room, seeing that you make a habit of sitting on two seats at once,” thus reproaching Cicero with the fickleness of which that excellent and loyal citizen was unfairly accused.
VII.To Cassius, one of the man who murdered the dictator, he said: “ I could wish you had asked me to your dinner on the Ides of March. Nothing, I assure you, would have been left over. But, as things are, your leaving make me feel anxious.”
(Meaning: if Cicero had been in on the plot to murder Caesar, Marcus Antonius too would have been killed)

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