Letter XXXI: ad familiares 8.1
Rome, about May 24, 51 B.C.
M. Caelius Rufus was born about 85 B.C.
, and came to Rome when fifteen or sixteen years of age to study law and politics. He sympathized with Catiline, but took no active part in the conspiracy. In 52 B.C.
as tribune he vigorously supported the aristocratic cause, but in later life he went over to Caesar. In 51 B.C.
, when his letters to Cicero begin, Caelius was a candidate for the curule aedileship. In January, 49, he opposed the senate, and fled with Curio to Caesar's camp. Disappointed with the 'spoils' which fell to his share, he joined Milo in an uprising in southern Italy, and was put to death by Caesar's troops in 48 B.C.
In the social world his intimacy with Clodia (Ep. VIII.5) gave him great notoriety. The wit and beauty of Caelius attracted this Palatine Medea, and the banquets and revels at Rome and Baiae, in which Caelius and Clodia were the central figures, were the talk of Rome. At last they quarrelled, and many of the difficulties in which Caelius was subsequently involved could be traced directly to her, in one of which, a charge of murder, Cicero delivered in his defense the Or. pro Caelio. It was natural that Cicero, when setting out for a distant province at so critical a moment, should choose in preference to all others a man so familiar with the ins and outs of politics and society, to keep him informed of the course of events at Rome. The letters of Bk. 8, ad Fam. are not only of great interest on account of their intrinsic literary and historical value, but they offer sufficient material upon which to base a comparison between the epistolary style of Cicero and that of one of his contemporaries.
discedens: Caelius accompanied Cicero part of the way from Rome to Brundisium. See Cumarum tenus, 2n.
diligentissime perscripturum: cf. Intr. 77.
paravi [gap in text] persequeretur: Caelius had evidently employed a reporter to collect news, probably a certain Chrestus. Cf. Ep. XXX III. 1.
peregrinantibus gratum: so eager for news were the Romans in the provinces that certain persons in Rome drove a thriving trade by sending them reports of the news of the day. In 59 B.C.
their task was lightened by the law of Caesar requiring the doings in the senate and the courts and in the field, together with some events of a private character, to be published officially in the Acta diurna, which were copied and sent in great numbers to the provinces. Cf. Fam. 12.23.2 rerum urbanarum acta tibi mitti certo scio. Cf. also Att. 3.15.6; 6.2.6; Mommsen, St. R. 3.1017 f.
meum hoc officium, this method of keeping my promise.
volumen: the document of Chrestus apparently took the form of a diary of political happenings. Cf. senatus consulta edicta, etc., below. In Fam. 8.11.4 Caelius calls it a commentarium rerum urbanarum.
edicta: sc. consultim et praetorum (Manutius).
delectarit : cf. Intr. 82.