One of the greatest things about travelling slowly through a place is being able to do things that not every tourist does, so I’ve started making a list of some of the things I’d like to do when we have time to spare in Italia. It’s a bit of a strange list, filled with things not usually frequented by tourists, and I haven’t come across lots of information about them. I’m hoping to learn more about them before we go next year ~ just having them on my radar means my ears are alert whenever someone mentions them.
The first is the Tomb of Cicero. Marcus Tullius Cicero was a great politician of the Late Republic and gave many great speeches around the time of Julius Caesar. I read a lot of Ciceros writing, both in English and in the original Latin when I was studying for my degree. I felt I’d come to know him quite well.
Cicero grew up in Arpino, which is a small hill town about 100km south-east from Rome, in the province of Frosinone. After becoming enemies with Marc Antony, he was hunted down and killed at his villa in Formia in 43BCE. I clearly remember the lecture where we were told how he’d died, first having his hands cut off ~ a symbolic gesture, since they were the hands that had written against Marc Antony ~ then his tongue was cut out and then his head.
I felt like someone in my family had died! Images of his death haunted me for days, and I recall sleeping very restlessly and weeping in the night ~ my poor husband wanted to know who Marcus was and what on earth had happened to him!
Anyway… Arpino is on my list, as is Formia. Formia is a pretty seaside town, with a well-built Roman port, it seems a lovely place to linger. Somewhere in the hills behind Formia is where Cicero had his summer villa and farms; its where he escaped to when he realised his days were numbered. Just outside of Formia on the ancient Via Appia is a monument traditionally attributed to be the Tomb of Cicero. Its not really known if it is indeed his tomb; there are no markings, nor is there any historical evidence to corroborate the story, but a little further along the Via Appia towards Formia are the remains of the tomb of his daughter, Tulliola. I’m not sure that this tomb is even marked ~ I’ve heard its difficult to find. Personally, I’d have thought they’d have been interred in the same mausoleum, and perhaps Cicero’s remains were first placed in his daughter’s mausoleum and then moved at a later date because of his fame. Who knows. I know Cicero loved his daughter very much and was heart-broken when she died in childbirth.
I could quite happily do a Masters thesis on this subject, but whether it would contribute anything to our knowledge of the Classical world is debatable.
Have you been there? Do you know any more? Feel free to message me or leave a comment if you’ve been to either of these places ~ I’d love to know more about them.