92 of 234: More Gratidianus Notes

Primary Texts and Translations

Cic. Off. 3.80: Even our kinsman Gratidianus failed on one occasion to perform what would be a good man’s duty: in his praetor­ship the tribunes of the people summoned the college of praetors to council, in order to adopt by joint resolution a standard of value for our currency; for at that time the value of money was so fluctuating that no one could tell how much he was worth. In joint session they drafted an ordinance, defining the penalty and the method of procedure in cases of violation of the ordinance, and agreed that they should all appear together upon the rostra in the afternoon to publish it. And while all the rest withdrew, some in one direction, some in another, Marius (Gratidianus) went straight from the council-chamber to the rostra and published individually what had been drawn up by all together. And that coup, if you care to know, brought him vast honour; in every street statues of him were erected; before these incense and candles burned. In a word, no one ever enjoyed greater popularity with the masses. (Loeb trans.)

ut res nummaria de communi sententia constitueretur; iactabatur enim temporibus illis nummus sic, ut nemo posset scire, quid haberet.

…in order that a joint opinion on money matters be established; for in those times coin was so tumultuous (or, such a fraught issue) that no one could tell what he had. (my trans)

Dyck 1996: 600 notes in his commentary that this is the ONLY use of iactari to refer to money matters and that if the metaphor of a tumultuous sea was not so obvious from its regular uses to discuss the state politics he might have expected a modifying quasi or ut ita dicam. Perhaps the best translation might be to say it was fraught or political topic. We cannot say it means the literal value of individual coins fluctuated based on a strange metaphoric verb.

Cic. Leg. 3.36: “And indeed our grandfather, as long as he lived, with singular virtue resisted Marcus Gratidius, whose sister, our grandmother, he had as wife. Gratidius was proposing a law of ballots in this town [Arpinum]. Gratidius, as it is said, stirred up a flood in a ladle, which later his son Marius stirred up the Aegean Sea. And indeed with our [grandfather] * * * when the matter was referred to Marcus Scaurus the consul he said “If only Marcus Cicero, you had preferred to employ that mind and virtue of yours with us in the highest republic rather than in that of your town”

Et avus quidem noster singulari virtute in hoc municipio quoad vixit restitit M.Gratidio cuius in matrimonio sororem aviam nostram habebat, ferenti legem tabellariam. Excitabat enim fluctus in simpulo ut dicitur Gratidius, quos post filius eius Marius in Aegaeo excitavit mari. Ac nostro quidem avo, cum res esset ad se delata, M. Scaurus consul: ‘Utinam’ inquit ‘M. Cicero isto animo atque virtute in summa re publica nobiscum versari quam in municipali maluisses!’

The reference to the Aegean is not clear to me–is it literal? his acts had impact in the Greek East? or is it metaphoric a big sea versus a little ladle? The passage does lay out that Gratidianus was the cousin of Cicero: the son of his great uncle and that the two families had close, if fractious, dealings across the political divide. legem tabellariam should be taken to mean regarding the introduction of the secret ballot in local government.

Pliny NH 33.132: The triumvir Antonius alloyed the silver denarius with iron, and forgers put an alloy of copper in silver coins, while others also reduce the weight, the proper coinage being 84 denarii from a pound of silver. Consequently a method was devised of assaying the denarius, under a law that was so popular that the common people unanimously district by district voted statues to Marius Gratidianus. And it is a remarkable thing that in this alone among arts spurious methods are objects of study, and a sample of a forged denarius is carefully examined and the adulterated coin is bought for more than genuine ones. (Loeb trans)

Miscuit denario triumvir Antonius ferrum, miscent aera falsae monetae, alii e<t> ponder<i> subtrahunt, cum sit iustum LXXXIIII e libris signari. igitur ars facta denarios probare, tam iucunda plebei lege, ut Mario Gratidiano vicatim totas statuas dicaverit. mirumque, in hac artium sola vitia discuntur et falsi denarii spectatur exemplar pluribusque veris denariis adulterinus emitur.

Antonius the triumvir mixed [something] with the denarius, fake money is mixed with bronze, others reduce the weight, when it should be struck is 84 from a pound. Therefore means were created to authenticate denarii, so pleasing was the law to the plebs that throughout the neighborhoods so many statues were dedicated to Marius Gratidianus. … [my translation]

Plin. NH 34.27: “At Rome also the tribes in all the districts set up statues to Marius Gratidianus, as we have stated, and likewise threw them down again at the entrance of Sulla.”

Val. Max. 9.2.1: How cruelly did he conduct himself toward M. Marius the praetor, who was dragged in the sight of the people to the tomb of the Lutatian family, where he did not put him to death, till he had gauged out his eyes, and broken the limbs of that unfortunate man! I am relating things that hardly seem credible. And yet because M. Plaetorius grew faint upon seeing the execution of Marius, he promptly slew him. Here was a novel punisher of pity, for whom to behold wickedness with distaste, was to commit a crime. (on this see violence see Marshall 1985)

Cic. De Orat. 2.262: From the ironical use of words: as when Crassus spoke for Aculeo before Marcus Perperna as judge, and Lucius Aelius Lamia appeared for Gratidianus against Aculeo, and Lamia, who was deformed, as you know, offered impertinent interruptions, Crassus said, ‘Let us hear this beautiful youth.’ When a laugh followed, ‘I could not form my own shape,’ said Lamia, ‘but I could form my understanding.’   ‘Then,’ said Crassus, ‘let us hear this able orator;’ when a greater laugh than before ensued. Such jests are agreeable as well in grave as in humorous speeches.

Cic. De Orat. 1.178: When I myself lately defended the case of Sergius Orata, on a private suit against our friend Antonius, did not my whole defence turn upon a point of law? For when Marius Gratidianus had sold a house to Orata, and had not specified, in the deed of sale, that any part of the building owed service, we argued, that for whatever encumbrance attended the thing sold, if the seller knew of it, and did not make it known, he ought to indemnify the purchaser.

Cic. Off. 3.67: Marcus Marius Gratidianus, a kinsman of ours, sold back to Gaius Sergius Orata the house which he himself had bought a few years before from that same Orata. It was subject to an encumbrance, but Marius had said nothing about this fact in stating the terms of sale. The case was carried to the courts. Crassus was counsel for Orata; Antonius was retained by Gratidianus. Crassus pleaded the letter of the law that “the vendor was bound to make good the defect, for he had not declared it, although he was aware of it”; Antonius laid stress upon the equity of the case, leading that, “inasmuch as the defect in question had not been unknown to Sergius (for it was the same house that he had sold to Marius), no declaration of it was needed, and in purchasing it back he had not been imposed upon, for he knew to what legal liability his purchase was subject.

Cic. Brut. 3.223: I have also remarked, that Cn. Carbo, M. Marius, and several others of the same stamp, who would not have merited the attention of an audience that had any taste for elegance, were extremely well suited to address a tumultuous crowd.

Cic. Brut. 2.168: Q. Rubrius Varro, who with C. Marius, was declared an enemy by the Senate, was likewise a warm, and a very spirited prosecutor. My relation, M. Gratidius, was a plausible speaker of the same kind, well versed in the Greek literature, formed by nature for the profession of eloquence, and an intimate acquaintance of M. Antonius: he commanded under him in Cilicia, where he lost his life: and he once commenced a prosecution against C. Fimbria, the father of M. Marius Gratidianus.

He prosecuted the same man whom he let adopt his son?! I’m confused here.

Ascon. Cic. Tog. Cand. 84C (75): Catilina had also cut off the head of M. Marius Gratidianus, a man in great favor with the people, who on this account was twice praetor, and had carried it through the city in his own hand–a charge which he hurls at him several times through out this speech. To be sure this Gratidianus had been linked by close family ties with Cicero.

Ascon. Cic. Tog. Cand. 89C-90C (80): [quoting from Cicero’s original speech] “From the plebs? To whom your brutality presented a spectacle such that no one can set eyes upon you without a groan and a remembrance of sorrow?” [end quote] He cast in his teeth the reproach of having brandished the head of that same Marius Gratidianus.

[ps.?] Q. Cic. Comm. Petit. 10.2

Only because Antonius is afraid of his own shadow, whereas Catiline does not even fear the law. Born in his father’s beggary, bred in debauchery with his sister, grown up in civil slaughter, his first entry into public life was a massacre of Roman Knights (for Sulla had put Catiline in sole charge of those Gauls we remember, who kept mowing off the heads of Titinius and Nanneius and Tanusius and all). Among them he killed with his own hands his sister’s husband, the excellent Quintus Caucilius, a Roman Knight, a neutral in politics, a man always inoffensive by nature and by that time also through advancing age. Need I go on? He to be running for the consulship with you—he who scourged Marcus Marius, the Roman People’s darling, all around the town before the Roman People’s eyes, drove him to the tomb, mangled him there with every torture, and with a sword in his right hand, holding his head of hair in his left, severed the man’s neck as he barely lived and breathed and carried the head in his hand, while rills of blood flowed between his fingers! And then he lived with actors and gladiators as his accomplices, the former in lust, the latter in crime—he who could not enter any place…

Sen. de Ira 18: Marcus Marius, to whom the people erected statues in every street, whom they worshipped with offerings of frankincense and wine—this man by the command of Lucius Sulla had his ankles broken, his eyes gouged out, his tongue and his hands cut off, and little by little and limb by limb Sulla tore him to pieces, just as if he could make him die as many times as he could maim him. And who was it who executed this command? Who but Catiline, already training his hands to every sort of crime? He hacked him to pieces before the tomb of Quintus Catulus, doing violence to the ashes of that gentlest of men, above which a hero—of evil influence, no doubt, yet popular and loved not so much undeservedly as to excess—shed his blood drop by drop. It was meet that a Marius should suffer these things, that a Sulla should give the orders, and that a Catiline should execute them, but it was not meet that the state should receive in her breast the swords of her enemies and her protectors alike.

Incomplete, to be continued

Mentions in recent Scholarship

From SCHWEI, DAVID. “Exchange Rates, Neronian Silver Standards, and a Long-Term Plan to Unify the Empire’s Mints.” The Numismatic Chronicle (1966-) 177 (2017): 107–34. http://www.jstor.org/stable/26637374.

Bransbourg, Gilles. “Fides et Pecunia Numerata Part II: The Currencies of the Roman Republic.” American Journal of Numismatics (1989-) 25 (2013): 179–242. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43580629


P. 218

Early blog posts have discussed: Heinrichs, Johannes. “Währungstechnische Regelungen Im Amtsjahr Des Prätors M. Marius Gratidianus (85/4 v. Chr.).” Zeitschrift Für Papyrologie Und Epigraphik 166 (2008): 261–67. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20476537.

Simply put he sees the substance of Gratidianus’ decree being about accepting coin unless objectively fake, i.e. the terms attributed to a lex Cornelia in the Sent. Paul.

“The norm of 84 denarii per libra was not fundamentally abandoned, but remained (ideally) valid until the late Roman period. However, certain fluctuation margins could have been decreed, and more important: the compulsion to accept coins as soon as they were declared authentic. This was not a general decoupling of weight and value, but a step in this direction. Since Gratidianus’ edict, the Roman coin was essentially something different from what it had been up to then.”

[A human modified machine translation of his final paragraph]

I am very sympathetic to Heinrichs’ view.

Debernardi Pierluigi. Plated coins, false coins?. In: Revue numismatique, 6e série – Tome 166, année 2010 pp. 337-381. DOI : https://doi.org/10.3406/numi.2010.2941

P. 350:

Encyclopedia Entry Round Up

“At the end of the 80s he was legate to Sulla (Sall. Hist. 1,46) [2. 110ff.]. He probably did not murder his brother [3. 1688], but he probably killed M. Marius Gratidianus (Q. Cic. comm. pet. 10; Ascon. 84; 90C), the brother of his wife Gratidia (Schol. Bern. in Luc. 2,173; Sall. Hist. 1,45) [2. 105f.]”

from: von Ungern-Sternberg, Jürgen (Basle), “Catilina”, in: Brill’s New Pauly

OCD3 entry, painfully terse on primary evidence, but the acknowledgement we don’t know his plan is sound.

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