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DE FEMINIS ROMANIS

M. TVLLI CICERONIS PRO A. CLVENTIO ORATIO V.12-VI.17

In 66 BCE Cicero as Praetor defended Aulus Cluentius Habitus Minor, a wealthy member of the Equites, from the charge of poisoning his stepfather Oppianicus, his mother's third husband. The charge was brought by the younger Oppianicus, egged on by Cluentius' mother Sassia, who three years earlier had unsuccessfully brought her son up on this very same charge. Aulus Cluentius Habitus Maior, first husband of Sassia, died when his son was 15, just before his daughter Cluentia was married to her cousin, Aulus Aurius Melinus, a noble young man. The passage begins with the narration of Sassia's passionate infatuation for and wanton seduction of her son-in-law, who eventually becomes her second husband. Cicero's defense of Cluentius involves vituperation against Sassia, whom he describes as a lustful woman, a mother in name only to both her children. Whether or not his assessment is just, vilification of a female is a defense strategy that Cicero will use again successfully in 56 BCE in his defense of Caelius against Clodia.

V.12. Cum essent eae nuptiae plenae dignitatis, plenae concordiae, repente est exorta mulieris importunae nefaria libido, non solum dedecore, verum etiam scelere coniuncta. Nam Sassia, mater huius Habiti -- mater enim a me in omni causa, tametsi in hunc hostili odio et crudelitate est, mater, inquam, appellabitur, neque umquam illa ita de suo scelere et immanitate audiet ut naturae nomen amittat; quo enim est ipsum nomen amantius indulgentiusque maternum, hoc illius matris, quae multos iam annos et nunc cum maxime filium interfectum cupit, singulare scelus maiore odio dignum esse ducetis. Ea igitur mater Habiti, Melini illius adulescentis, generi sui, contra quam fas erat amore capta, primo, neque id ipsum diu, quoquo modo poterat, in illa se cupiditate continebat: deinde ita flagrare coepit amentia, sic inflammata ferri libidine, ut eam non pudor, non pudicitia, non pietas, non macula familiae, non hominum fama, non filii dolor, non filiae maeror a cupiditate revocaret.

V.13. Animum adulescentis, nondum consilio ac ratione firmatum, pellexit eis omnibus rebus quibus illa aetas capi ac deliniri potest. Filia, quae non solum illo communi dolore muliebri in eius modi viri iniuriis angeretur, sed nefarium matris pelicatum ferre non posset, de quo ne queri quidem se sine scelere posse arbitraretur, ceteros sui tanti mali ignaros esse cupiebat, in huius amantissimi sui fratris manibus et gremio maerore et lacrimis consenescebat.

V.14. Ecce autem subitum divortium, quod solacium malorum omnium fore videbatur! Discedit a Melino Cluentia, ut in tantis iniuriis non invita, ut a viro non libenter. Tum vero illa egregia et praeclara mater palam exsultare laetitia, triumphare gaudio coepit, victrix filiae non libidinis. Itaque diutius suspicionibus obscuris laedi famam suam noluit. Lectum illum genialem, quem biennio ante filiae suae nubenti straverat, in eadem domo sibi ornari et sterni expulsa atque exturbata filia iubet: nubit genero socrus nullis auspicibus, nullis auctoribus, funestis ominibus omnium.

VI.15. O mulieris scelus incredibile et praeter hanc unam in omni vita inauditum! o libidinem effrenatam et indomitam! o audaciam singularem! Nonne timuisse, si minus vim deorum hominumque famam, at illam ipsam noctem facesque illas nuptiales! non limen cubiculi! non cubile filiae! non parietes denique ipsos, superiorum testes nuptiarum! Perfregit ac prostravit omnia cupiditate ac furore: vicit pudorem libido, timorem audacia, rationem amentia.

VI.16. Tulit hoc commune dedecus familiae, cognationis, nominis graviter filius; augebatur autem eius molestia cotidianis querimoniis et adsiduo fletu sororis; statuit tamen nihil sibi in tantis iniuriis ac tanto scelere matris gravius esse faciendum quam ut illa ne uteretur, ne, quae videre sine summo animi dolore non poterat, ea, si matre uteretur, non solum videre, verum etiam probare suo iudicio putaretur.

V.12
cum – with the imperfect subjunctive: translate "while" or "although"
nuptiae, nuptiarum, feminine plural – wedding; marriage (i.e., of Cluentia and Melinus)
repente , adverb – suddenly
exorior, oriri, ortus – arise; appear; come out; start
importunus, a, um – abandoned, troublesome, uncivil
nefarius, a, um – heinous, criminal
dedecus, oris, neuter – disgrace, shame; vice, crime
coniungo, iungere, iunxi, iunctum – join together, connect; unite in love
tametsi, conjunction – although
hostilis, e – hostile, inimical; translate with odio as an ablative of description
appello (1) – speak to; call; name: the subject is the three times repeated mater
ita …ut -- introduces a result clause
immanitas, atis, feminine – savageness, barbarism; vastness
amitto, mittere, misi, missum – lose; let go
quo ... hoc – by how much, to what degree ... by this much, to this degree
amantior, amantius, comparative – fonder; kinder; more loving
indulgentior, indulgentius, comparative – kinder; more gentle, indulgent
illius matris – genitive of possession with singulare scelus
multos annos (accusative of extent of time) – for many years
cum maxime – as much as possible
interficio, ficere, feci, fectum – kill, destroy
dignus, a, um (with the ablative) – worthy of, deserving of; suitable; fitting
duco, ducere, duxi, ductum – consider, think; lead; attract

Back to text at V.12

gener, eris, masculine – son-in-law
contra quam – otherwise…than
contineo, tinere, tinui, tentus – hold, keep together; with se = control or restrain one’s self
ita ... sic ... ut – introduces a result clause
flagro (1) – be excited, inflamed; burn
amentia, ae, feminine – madness, stupidity
inflammo (1) – set on fire, inflame
macula, ae, feminine – stain, spot; fault
maeror, oris, masculine – mourning, sorrow, sadness

Back to text at V.12

V.13
firmo (1) – strengthen, support; encourage; prove, confirm
pellicio, pellicere, pellexi, pellectum – to entice, allure, decoy, coax
aetas, atis, feminine – age, life; time
capio, capere, cepi, captum – captivate, charm; seize, capture; cheat
delinio, linire, linivi, linitum – seduce; cajole, win over; soothe
communis, e – universal; general, common
ango, ere, anxi, anctum – distress, torment; bind, throttle
pelicatus, us, masculine – concubinage; cohabitation with a mistress
ne….quidem- not even
queror,queri, questus – lament; complain; sing
gremium, i, neuter – bosom; lap
consenesco, senescere, senescui – pine, fade; grow old, decay

Back to text at V.13

V.14
subitus, a, um – sudden, unexpected
divortium, ii, neuter – separation, divorce
solacium, i, neuter – compensation; solace, comfort, relief
fore, infinitive – read as futurum esse
discedo, edere, essi, essum– depart, go away; disappear
ut ... ut – descriptive of Cluentia's divided state of mind as she departs: translate " while ... although”
invitus, a, um – reluctant, unwilling
libenter, adverb – willingly, gladly, cheerfully
egregius, a, um – outstanding; distinguished
palam, adverb – openly, publicly; well-known
exsulto (1) – exult, run riot; jump up; boast
laetitia, ae, feminine – happiness, joy, delight
triumpho (1) – exult; celebrate a triumph
victrix, icis, feminine – victor, conqueror
diutius, comparative adverb – for a long time; longer
obscurus, a, um – ignoble; dark; hidden
laedo, laedere, laesi, laesus – hurt, strike, wound; offend; here, present passive infinitive
nolo, nolle, nolui – be unwilling, not wish; refuse

Back to text at V.14

genialis, e – nuptial; joyful
biennium, i, neuter – two year period
nubo, nubere, nupsi, nuptum – be married (used for a woman marrying a man)
sterno, sternere, stravi, stratum – spread, cover; stretch out; make (a bed)
orno (1) – adorn; furnish, equip
expello, pellere, puli, pulsum – remove; repudiate; drive away; ablative absolute construction with exturbata filia
exturbo (1) – banish; drive out; disturb
socrus, us, feminine – mother-in-law
auspex, auspicis, masculine – augur; patron; witness of a marriage contract
auctor, oris, masculine – supporter; proposer; witness; author; founder
funestus, e – sorrowful; deadly, fatal
omen, ominis, neuter – sign, omen

Back to text at V.14

VI.15
effrenatus, a, um – unbridled, violent, unruly
indomitus, a, um – ungovernable; untamed, wild
audacia, ae, feminine – boldness, impudence, daring; courage
timeo, timere, timui – fear, be afraid; infinitive of exclamation, followed by 7 objects
Si minus – translate “if not”
at – but; on the other hand
fax, facis, feminine – wedding torch; funeral torch; torch
limen, inis, neuter – threshold; lintel; entrance; house
cubile, is, neuter – bed, couch
paries, etis, masculine – wall (of a house, interior)
superior, ius, comparative of superus – former; higher, upper; older; greater
testi, is, masculine/feminine – witness
perfringo, fringere,fregi, fractum – wreck; break through; violate
prosterno, sternere, stravi, stratum – ruin; throw in front; overthrow
vinco, vincere, vici, victum– conquer, subdue; excel; outlive

Back to text at VI.15

VI.16
cognatio, onis, feminine – kin; blood relation
graviter, adverb – seriously; deeply; strongly; with dignity
augeo, augere, auxi, auctum – to increase; worship, bless
molestia, ae, feminine – worry; trouble; annoyance
cotidianus, a, um – daily
querimonia, ae, feminine – complaint; elegy
adsiduus, a, um – continual; incessant; busy
fletus, us, masculine – weeping; tears
sibi ... esse ... faciendum – dative of agent in a passive periphrastic construction with nihil as the subject
statuo, uere, ui, utum – decide, determine; establish; the subject is filius
gravius, adverb, comparative form of gravis – more seriously; more strongly; more deeply
quam ut – translate "than that"
utor, uti, usus + ablative – associate with; accept; use, possess; the subject remains filius, with illaand matre the objects of the verb
ne ... putaretur – negative purpose construction; the subject is still filius. Consider the word order as follows:
ne, si matre uteretur, putaretur non solum videre ea , quae sine summo animi dolore videre non poterat, verum etiam suo iudicio probare.
quae – relative pronoun, neuter plural; its antecedent is ea
probo (1) – approve; appraise; recommend
iudicium, i, neuter – decision; opinion; tact; judgment

Back to text at VI.16

Commentary prepared by:

Jennifer Pinheiro
Classics Major
Class of 2005

The College of New Rochelle
New Rochelle, New York

Dr. A. Raia
Email to: araia@cnr.edu
Associate Professor of Classics
CLS 239 Roman Women

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