Titus Pomponius Atticus Analysis


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Born into the wealthy business (equestrian) class, Titus Pomponius Atticus (TI-tuhs pahm-POH-nee-uhs AT-uh-kuhs) is best known for his friendship with Cicero. Atticus was educated at Rome with Cicero, but in 85 b.c.e., he left for Athens to protect the fortune inherited from his father (and later, from an uncle) from the impending civil war between Lucius Cornelius Cinna and Lucius Cornelius Sulla. He lived in Athens and Epirus until the mid-60’s b.c.e., earning the respect and adulation of the citizens of Athens for his many benefactions and acquiring the name Atticus. He came to Rome to help Cicero in his bid for the consulate (62 b.c.e.) and remained for the next year to lend equestrian support to Cicero’s projects. He remained Cicero’s closest friend, financial adviser, and literary executor for the next twenty years.

Atticus had the ability to maintain strong friendships with important men who were older than himself and political foes of one another. Therefore, he counted as friends Sulla, Quintus Hortensius Hortalus, Pompey the Great, Brutus, Marc Antony, and Octavian. His friendships enabled him to weather civil wars, whichever side had the upper hand. His daughter married Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, and his granddaughter married the future emperor Tiberius. Atticus lived a long and enjoyable life but committed suicide when he contracted an incurable sickness in 32 b.c.e.

Atticus wrote a monograph on Cicero’s consulate (60 b.c.e.), an important yearly history of Rome, the Liber Annalis (47 b.c.e.), several family histories of Rome’s prominent families, and a book showing portraits of Rome’s greatest men with poetic epitaphs under each image (39 b.c.e.?). All his writings are lost.

Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Horsfall, Nicholas. Cornelius Nepos: A Selection, Including the Lives of Cato and Atticus. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1989.

Shackleton Bailey, D. R. Cicero’s Letters to Atticus. 7 vols. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1999.