younger brother of Cicero and similarly educated (they were both in Athens in 79 bc), had none of his brother"s genius. He was irascible and often tactlessly outspoken; yet he was a good soldier and an able administrator. Plebeian aedile in 65 and praetor in 62 (helped, no doubt, by the fact that his brother Marcus was praetor and consul respectively when he was elected), he governed Asia from 61 to 58, receiving two long letters of advice and criticism from his brother in Rome (QFr. 1. 1–2). He spent winter 57/6 in Sardinia as a legate (subordinate commander) of Pompey, when Pompey received his corn commission, and was evidently a hostage for Marcus" good behaviour in politics after his recall from exile (Fam. 1. 9. 9). He was legate on Julius Caesar"s staff in Gaul from 54 to early 51, taking part in the invasion of Britain in 54 and winning deserved praise for his courage in holding out against the Nervii when the Gauls attacked the winter camps in 54 (BGall. 5. 40–52); though unwell, he drove himself so hard that his troops forced him to take some sleep at night (ibid. 40. 7). At Atuatuca a year later he took risks, probably with more excuse than Caesar allows, and was criticized (ibid. 6. 36–42). He was a valuable legate on Marcus" staff in Cilicia in 51/50, supplying (with C. Pomptinus) the military experience which Marcus lacked. He joined Pompey in the Civil War, was pardoned after Caesar"s victory at Pharsalus and then, with his son, behaved badly in maligning his brother to Caesar (Att. 11.9f.). He returned to Rome in 47 by Caesar"s permission. Victims of the proscriptions in 43, he and his son were betrayed by their slaves.

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The twenty-seven surviving letters of Marcus to Quintus were written between 60 and 54, mostly when Quintus was serving abroad. Of the four short surviving letters of Quintus, one (Fam. 16. 16: 53 bc) congratulated Marcus on enfranchising Marcus Tullius Tiro and three (Fam. 16. 8: 49 bc; 16. 26 f.: 44 bc) were to Tiro. Quintus was a literary dilettante, writing four tragedies in sixteen days when in Gaul (QFr. 3. 5. 7). Though certainty is not possible (Balsdon, CQ 1963, 242 ff.), a strong case can be made for believing that neither Quintus nor, indeed, a contemporary wrote the Commentariolum petitionis, a long letter on Marcus" canvass for the consulship of 63. It none the less preserves some valuable information.

Like his brother, Quintus owned property near Arpinum.

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His marriage to Pomponia, who was older than he and the sister of Marcus" friend Atticus, lasted from 69 to 44 and was never a happy one. It produced one son, a gifted boy whom his father indulged.