Titus Pomponius Atticus

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Titus Pomponius Atticus or Quintus Caecilius Pomponianus (* late 110 BC ; † March 31, 32 BC ) was a Roman knight from the Pomponier family , which according to ancient beliefs went back to the Roman king Numa Pompilius .

He was a close friend of Marcus Tullius Cicero , with whom he exchanged letters for years; Only the letters from Cicero to Atticus have survived. This friendship is remarkable in that Atticus - in contrast to Cicero - was a follower of Epicureanism .


Besides Ciceros epistulae ad Atticum and other writings, especially those in which Atticus appears as a dialogue partner, a biography by Cornelius Nepos teaches about Atticus' life . However, since Atticus himself determined which letters of his friend were published after his death, and Nepos, as a close friend, renounced everything that could cast a negative light on Atticus, it must be assumed that the picture is embellished.


Atticus was the son of an otherwise unknown Titus Pomponius and a Caecilia Metella . He enjoyed the lessons of his teachers together with Marcus Tullius Cicero, his relatives Gaius Marius (the son of the famous general Marius ) and Lucius Manlius Torquatus , and like his friend Cicero he was already famous as a child for his zeal for education.

After 88 BC His distant relative, the tribune Publius Sulpicius Rufus , who was on the side of Marius, had been murdered, Atticus was forced to take sides with Sulla or Cinna . Since such a decision ran counter to his philosophy of life, he left Rome and went to Athens , where he lived from 86 to 65 BC. BC (with interruptions) lived. He earned the nickname Atticus by helping to rebuild the city after it was destroyed by the Romans under Sulla. The Athenians wanted to give him citizenship out of gratitude, but Atticus waived this because it could not be combined with Roman citizenship . According to Perlwitz, this account conceals the most important reason for Atticus' move to Athens: His main source of income, money lending, threatened to dry up in Rome due to the alliance war and the devaluation of money by the lex Valeria de aere alieno , which reduced the previous debt to a quarter. At the same time, after the destruction of the First Mithridatic War, there was a great need for capital in Athens . Although Atticus did not charge the same usury as other moneylenders, he was able to increase his father's inheritance considerably by the time he returned to Rome. However, since he used part of this profit to give Athens cheap loans and to supply the starving population with grain free of charge, he was celebrated by the city as a benefactor. At Buthroton he bought a latifundium , from whose fertile soil rich income could be expected. In his work De Re Rustica , Marcus Terentius Varro memorialized the experience he gained there in cattle breeding .

For moral reasons - and also to protect life and property - Atticus refrained from taking the cursus honorum , although the praetur was offered several times . Politically he was neutral in the civil wars of the late Roman Republic ; only in the suppression of the Lucius Sergius Catiline conspiracy in 63 BC. He supported his friend Cicero by taking over the leadership of the knights. Here Perlwitz assumes that his intervention was not so much based on the friendship with Cicero as on the fact that Atticus had to fear losses through Catilina's intended debt relief. He then left Rome for a few years. 59 BC Although he returned in the 4th century BC, he was of no great help to Cicero and could not prevent him from going into exile and being expropriated. In the following years, however, he was the driving force behind the return of Cicero in 57 BC. Made possible.

58 BC Chr. Died Atticus' uncle, the infamous usurer Quintus Caecilius , of him in his will adopted , leaving behind him a considerable fortune. Atticus was now active in his successor in the Roman money business.

As 49 BC Chr. Gaius Julius Caesar , who had already been his guest in Athens, moved into Rome, Atticus stayed in the city instead of going to Pompey's camp like Cicero and other sympathizers of Pompey . Cicero encouraged him that the profit opportunities on the Roman real estate market, where there was a shortage of money thanks to a law reactivated by Caesar, were more important than loyalty to Pompey, but also warned him of the proscriptions threatened by Pompey . For the sake of Atticus' neutrality, Caesar pardoned his brother-in-law Quintus Tullius Cicero and his son, who had stood on Pompey's side.

Even after Caesar's murder, Atticus continued his policy of neutrality and , although he was friends with him, only supported Marcus Junius Brutus after Mark Antony had gained the upper hand. On the other hand, he was almost the only one who helped Fulvia in her attempt to represent her husband, who had fallen into disrepute in Rome. This attitude towards Mark Antony led to his name being removed from the proscription list, while it was the undoing of Cicero, who had actually intended to leave Italy with Brutus, that Atticus had advised him against it for unknown reasons. Atticus later maintained a good relationship with Octavian, who later became Augustus , which even resulted in family relationships.

Seriously ill with gout , Atticus continued his life in 32 BC. BC himself ended by refusing to eat.


Atticus only married at an advanced age 56 BC. Caecilia Pilia, maternal granddaughter of Marcus Licinius Crassus . Cicero mentions their happy marriage several times in his letters, which resulted in a son and daughter. Pilia fell ill in the spring of 44 BC. BC, as can be seen from Cicero's anxious wishes for recovery. The last time he greets her is in November of the same year. In his last letters to his friend, the daughter is mentioned only once. Pilia probably passed away at this point in time.

At the mediation of Mark Antony, Atticus' daughter Pomponia Caecilia Attica (* 51 BC) married around 39 BC. Chr. Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa , the confidante of Octavian. She probably died before 28 BC. BC, because when Agrippa married Augustus' niece Claudia Marcella , she is no longer mentioned. The daughter from this marriage, Vipsania Agrippina , betrothed Augustus to his adopted son, who later became Emperor Tiberius, as a toddler . However, after four years of happy marriage, Tiberius had to be married in 12 BC. Divorce on imperial orders in order to marry Julia , his stepsister and at the same time the stepmother of his wife. About her, Atticus was the great-grandfather of the emperor's son Drusus .


Nepos described his friend Atticus in his biography, which he began during his lifetime, as a measured man despite all the wealth of several million sesterces . His household only uses 3,000 sesterces a month, even though he lives in style. Atticus was a skilled businessman. Nepos repeatedly emphasizes how generous and generous he is, but he never complied with requests lightly, only when he could reconcile it with his conscience and was certain that he could keep the promise. His dignitas was very important to him.

His balanced nature and his Epicurean philosophy made it possible for him to be friends with members of the Optimates and the Populares at the same time , for example with Cicero and his greatest adversary Quintus Hortensius Hortalus or Augustus and Marcus Antonius. Otherwise he enjoyed everyone's sympathy, which earned him many inheritances. Even in his family there was never a fight.

Writing activity

Nepos reports on the liber annalis , a historical work in which Atticus listed with great accuracy “every law, every peace treaty, every war and every famous act of the Roman people”. Atticus also dealt extensively with the genealogy of the great Roman families and even wrote little poems about them.

Atticus conducted a rich correspondence, of which only Cicero's letters to him have survived. These letters are an important source for the late Republic.


Atticus is often referred to as Cicero's “publisher”, who took care of the dissemination of his friend's works. However , there was no publishing industry in the modern sense in ancient Rome. Nepos mentions that Atticus trained his slaves as readers or copyists. As a skilful businessman and friend of the sciences, he had writings, including the Ciceros, copied in several copy rooms in order to disseminate them among his extensive circle of friends. But he was probably not active in the commercial book trade.

Atticus and Cicero

Despite differing philosophical views, Atticus and Cicero were best friends throughout their lives. Cicero's letters to Atticus spanned sixteen books and spanned most of their friendship. In addition to a deep insight into the politics of the late republic, they offer a lot of personal information from both families. So Cicero loved little Attica very much, worried about her health and gave advice on her upbringing. Atticus did not take an active part in politics, but advised Cicero. Atticus also gave his friend a generous share in his wealth. So he supported the 57 BC Exiles with 250,000 sesterces.

Cicero dedicated several writings to Atticus, including “as a friend for a friend” Laelius de amicitia .

Atticus' sister Pomponia was married to Cicero's brother Quintus . It appears from various letters that the marriage was not very happy.


  • Annette Dortmund: Roman books at the turn of the ages. Was T. Pomponius Atticus (110–32 BC) a publisher? Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2001, ISBN 3-447-04387-3 .
  • Michèle Ducos: Atticus (T. Pomponius). In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques. Volume 1, CNRS, Paris 1989, ISBN 2-222-04042-6 , pp. 662-664; Addendum to the iconography by François Queyrel in the volume Supplément , Paris 2003, ISBN 2-271-06175-X , p. 83
  • Olaf Perlwitz: Titus Pomponius Atticus: Investigations into the person of an influential knight in the late Roman Republic (= Hermes individual writings 58). Steiner, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-515-06170-3 .

Web links


  1. Olaf Perlwitz: Titus Pomponius Atticus , pp. 26–29.
  2. Cornelius Nepos, Atticus 2,3 - Epicurus taught the withdrawn into private life, carefree from politics, for the undisturbed enjoyment of the joy of being.
  3. ^ Cicero, pro Caecina 34.
  4. Olaf Perlwitz: Titus Pomponius Atticus , pp. 35–39.
  5. ^ Nepos, Atticus 2.45.
  6. Varro: De Re Rustica 2,2,2 .
  7. Cicero, ad Atticum 2,1,7.
  8. Olaf Perlwitz: Titus Pomponius Atticus , pp. 48–53.
  9. Cicero, ad Atticum 4,1,1.
  10. Cicero, ad Atticum 3,20,1; Olaf Perlwitz: Titus Pomponius Atticus , p. 58.
  11. ^ Olaf Perlwitz: Titus Pomponius Atticus , p. 55.
  12. Cicero, ad Atticum 7,12,1.
  13. Cicero, ad Atticum 16.7.1.
  14. Attila Dunky, Rudolf Eberl: Gout and hyperuricemia. G. Braun, Karlsruhe 1981 (= Rheuma-Forum. Volume 11), ISBN 3-7650-1632-2 , p. 11.
  15. Cicero: Ad Atticum 14.2 and 19-23; 15.1
  16. Cicero: Ad Atticum 16.7
  17. It is named differently in different sources. Cicero lets z. B. always greet the little Attica . Caecilia refers to the testamentary adoption of her father by his uncle (see above).
  18. Nepos, Atticus 19,1 mentions with the words "now that fate lets us live longer" his death during the writing of the biography.
  19. Nepos, Atticus 13.6.
  20. Nepos, Atticus 18.2.
  21. Cf. Annette Dortmund: Römisches Buchwesen around the turn of the times (2001); Marion Giebel: "A great book, a great evil" - books and libraries in antiquity (accessed on August 19, 2011; PDF; 80 kB).
  22. E.g. Cicero, ad Atticum 12,1,1; 12.2.1.
  23. ^ Nepos, Atticus 4,4.