Cicero's Banishment and Recall.
(Aet. 49-50. B.C. 58-57. Epist. X.-XIV.)
15. Clodius skilfully prepared the way for an attack upon Cicero by securing
the passage of certain popular measures, and, having gained the support of the
consuls A. Gabinius and L. Piso, between Mar. 20 and 25, 58 B.C.,
he secured the adoption of a bill enacting:
qui civem Romanum indemnatum interemisset, ei aqua et igni interdiceretur.
The principle of this bill was not new,
and no one was mentioned in it by name, but Cicero knew that it was directed
against himself. There can be little doubt that, in view of the Porcian and
Sempronian laws, the execution of Lentulus and his fellow-conspirators, who
were not allowed to make an appeal to the people, was unconstitutional.
Cicero's plea, that the passage of the senatus consuttum ultimum
suspended this privilege, and that Lentulus and the others, by conspiring
with the Allobroges, had lost their right as citizens, is not a sufficient
answer. At all events, Cicero's cause was a hopeless one.
The senators and knights were powerless, the consuls would give no help, and
the triumvirs were not loath to have Cicero and Cato, who was at this time sent
to Cyprus on a difficult mission, removed from the city before Caesar's
16. This state of things had induced Cicero to withdraw from the city before
the law of Clodius was passed, and soon after his departure the latter
promulgated another proposition in the following form : velitis jubeatis ut
M. Tullio aqua et igni interdictum sit.40
This bill, with the subsequent modification that the interdiction should hold good within a limit
of 400 miles,41
was adopted about Apr. 20.42 Cicero's
house upon the Palatine was torn down, and a portion of the site was
consecrated to Liberty. His property elsewhere was despoiled, and Terentia was
forced to seek protection with her half-sister Fabia.
17. After lingering for a time in Italy, Cicero went to Thessalonica, where he
remained for several months as the guest of his friend, the quaestor Cn.
Plancius. He was in a very despondent condition,43
as all the efforts which his
friends made to secure his recall were thwarted by Clodius. The year 57 B.C.
opened under better auspices. The consuls P. Lentulus Spinther and Metellus
Nepos were friendly, and the tribunes were in the main Cicero's supporters;
but all this might have accomplished little, had it not been for the fact that
Pompey, who had taken offense at Clodius, actively supported the cause of
Cicero. At last, Aug. 4, a law was passed in the comitia centuriata
authorizing Cicero's return.44
Cicero had already come to Dyrrachium in Nov., 58 B.C., in order that he might receive news more quickly, and
Aug. 4, 57 B.C., he sailed for Brundisium. He was received most
enthusiastically in the towns through which he passed on his way to Rome, and
in Rome itself, which he reached Sept. 4,45
after an absence of a year and a half.