oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - Quand il n'y a rien à transmettre : le droit de la propriété intellectuelle, Atticus et la diffusion des oeuvres de Cicéron

Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



This paper attempts to provide an answer to a well known question: Was Titus Pomponius Atticus, Cicero's best friend, really a professional editor? In the first part, we study his finances in order to show that he certainly did not need to earn money in this way: he was born quite rich, and became even richer. He was, eventually, one of the wealthiest men in Rome thanks to his being adopted by his uncle Caecilius. His main activity seems to have been the lending of money to cities like Sicyone, and to friends. He also owned buildings in Rome and agricultural estates in Italy. He had some hobbies, like history - he actually wrote a book and tried to convince some of his friends to write too - and books: he had a huge library and was always willing to have copies of books made for his friends by his staff of slaves well trained to do so.

The second part is a study of Cicero's letters and focuses on the part played by Atticus when Cicero wrote a book: we note that he was there at every step. First he provided ideas of subjects to write about. He tried to convince Cicero to write on geography for example, but it seems that mostly he tried to help Cicero in his political career and relationships. Then he helped Cicero by lending him reference works. And when the speech or treaty was finished, Atticus was there to launch it: he organized dinners at which lectures were given, and if the guests liked the opus, he supplied copies of it. Was it really a business? It seems it was usual to write and offer books to political relations and that Atticus' activities in that field were a matter more of friendship and passion for books (or culture) than of money. Other people, as for example Caelius and Cornificus, also asked Cicero to write books or promoted his books, without being editors or publishers. Thus Atticus was probably no professional editor, but rather the head of a literary circle at a time when the elite of Rome was waiting for great writers to equal the Greek authors in all fields.

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