MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO (/ˈsɪsᵻroʊ/ ; Classical Latin: ; 3
January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Roman politician and
lawyer, who served as consul in the year 63 BC. He came from a wealthy
municipal family of the
Roman equestrian order , and is considered one
of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.
His influence on the
Latin language was so immense that the
subsequent history of prose, not only in
Latin but in European
languages up to the 19th century, was said to be either a reaction
against or a return to his style. According to Michael Grant , "the
Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas
greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language".
Cicero introduced the Romans to the chief schools of Greek philosophy
and created a
Latin philosophical vocabulary (with neologisms such as
evidentia, humanitas , qualitas, quantitas, and essentia)
distinguishing himself as a translator and philosopher.
Though he was an accomplished orator and successful lawyer, Cicero
believed his political career was his most important achievement. It
was during his consulship that the second Catilinarian conspiracy
attempted to overthrow the government through an attack on the city by
outside forces, and
Cicero suppressed the revolt by executing five
conspirators without due process. During the chaotic latter half of
the 1st century BC marked by civil wars and the dictatorship of Gaius
Julius Caesar ,
Cicero championed a return to the traditional
republican government. Following Julius Caesar's death,
an enemy of
Mark Antony in the ensuing power struggle, attacking him
in a series of speeches . He was proscripted as an enemy of the state
Second Triumvirate and consequently executed by soldiers
operating on their behalf in 43 BC after having been intercepted
during attempted flight from the Italian peninsula. His severed hands
and head were then, as a final revenge of Mark Antony, displayed in
the Roman Forum.
Petrarch 's rediscovery of Cicero's letters is often credited for
initiating the 14th-century
Renaissance in public affairs , humanism ,
and classical Roman culture. According to Polish historian Tadeusz
Zieliński , "the
Renaissance was above all things a revival of
Cicero, and only after him and through him of the rest of Classical
antiquity." The peak of Cicero's authority and prestige came during
the 18th-century Enlightenment, and his impact on leading
Enlightenment thinkers and political theorists such as
John Locke ,
David Hume ,
Edmund Burke was substantial. His works
rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still
constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for
the writing and revision of Roman history, especially the last days of
Roman Republic .
* 1 Personal life
* 1.1 Early life
* 1.2 Family
* 2 Public career
* 2.1 Early political career
* 2.2 Consul
* 2.3 Exile and return
* 2.4 Julius Caesar\'s civil war
* 2.5 Opposition to
Mark Antony and death
* 3 Legacy
* 4 Works
* 4.1 Speeches
* 4.2 Philosophical dialogues and treatises
* 4.3 Letters
* 5 Notable fictional portrayals
* 6 See also
* 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 8.1 Citations
* 8.2 Bibliography
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
Personal life of Marcus Tullius Cicero
Cicero was born in 106 BC in
Arpinum , a hill town 100 kilometers (62
mi) southeast of Rome. His father was a well-to-do member of the
equestrian order and possessed good connections in Rome. However,
being a semi-invalid, he could not enter public life and studied
extensively to compensate. Although little is known about Cicero's
mother, Helvia, it was common for the wives of important Roman
citizens to be responsible for the management of the household.
Cicero's brother Quintus wrote in a letter that she was a thrifty
Cicero's cognomen , or personal surname, comes from the
chickpea , cicer.
Plutarch explains that the name was originally given
to one of Cicero's ancestors who had a cleft in the tip of his nose
resembling a chickpea. However, it is more likely that Cicero's
ancestors prospered through the cultivation and sale of chickpeas.
Romans often chose down-to-earth personal surnames: the famous family
names of Fabius ,
Lentulus , and
Piso come from the
Latin names of
beans, lentils, and peas, respectively.
Plutarch writes that Cicero
was urged to change this deprecatory name when he entered politics,
but refused, saying that he would make
Cicero more glorious than
Scaurus ("Swollen-ankled") and Catulus ("Puppy"). The Young
Cicero Reading by
Vincenzo Foppa (fresco, 1464), now at the Wallace
During this period in Roman history, "cultured" meant being able to
Latin and Greek.
Cicero was therefore educated in the
teachings of the ancient Greek philosophers, poets and historians; he
obtained much of his understanding of the theory and practice of
rhetoric from the Greek poet Archias and from the Greek rhetorician
Cicero used his knowledge of Greek to translate many of
the theoretical concepts of
Greek philosophy into Latin, thus
translating Greek philosophical works for a larger audience. It was
precisely his broad education that tied him to the traditional Roman
According to Plutarch,
Cicero was an extremely talented student,
whose learning attracted attention from all over Rome, affording him
the opportunity to study
Roman law under Quintus Mucius Scaevola .
Cicero's fellow students were
Gaius Marius Minor, Servius Sulpicius
Rufus (who became a famous lawyer, one of the few whom Cicero
considered superior to himself in legal matters), and Titus Pomponius
. The latter two became Cicero's friends for life, and Pomponius (who
later received the nickname "Atticus", and whose sister married
Cicero's brother) would become, in Cicero's own words, "as a second
brother", with both maintaining a lifelong correspondence.
Cicero wanted to pursue a public career in politics along the steps
Cursus honorum . In 90 BC–88 BC, he served both Gnaeus
Pompeius Strabo and
Lucius Cornelius Sulla as they campaigned in the
War , though he had no taste for military life, being an
intellectual first and foremost.
Cicero started his career as a lawyer
around 83–81 BC. His first major case, of which a written record is
still extant, was his 80 BC defense of
Sextus Roscius on the charge of
patricide . Taking this case was a courageous move for Cicero;
patricide was considered an appalling crime, and the people whom
Cicero accused of the murder, the most notorious being Chrysogonus ,
were favorites of
Sulla . At this time it would have been easy for
Sulla to have the unknown
Cicero murdered. Cicero's defense was an
indirect challenge to the dictator Sulla, and on the strength of his
case, Roscius was acquitted.
Cicero’s case was divided into three parts. The first part detailed
exactly the charge brought by Ericius.
Cicero explained how a rustic
son of a farmer, who lives off the pleasures of his own land, would
not have gained anything from committing patricide because he would
have eventually inherited his father's land anyway. The second part
concerned the boldness and greed of two of the accusers, Magnus and
Cicero told the jury that they were the more likely
perpetrators of murder because the two were greedy, both for
conspiring together against a fellow kinsman and, in particular,
Magnus, for his boldness and for being unashamed to appear in court to
support the false charges. The third part explained that Chrysogonus
had immense political power, and the accusation was successfully made
due to that power. Even though Chrysogonus may not have been what
Cicero said he was, through rhetoric
Cicero successfully made him
appear to be a foreign freed man who prospered by devious means in the
aftermath of the civil war.
Cicero surmised that it showed what kind
of a person he was and that something like murder was not beneath him.
Cicero's interest in philosophy figured heavily in his later career
and led to him providing a comprehensive account of Greek philosophy
for a Roman audience, including creating a philosophical vocabulary
in Latin. In 87 BC,
Philo of Larissa , the head of the
was founded by
Athens about 300 years earlier, arrived in
Rome. Cicero, "inspired by an extraordinary zeal for philosophy", sat
enthusiastically at his feet and absorbed Plato's philosophy. Cicero
said of Plato's Dialogues, that if Zeus were to speak, he would use
In 79 BC,
Cicero left for
Asia Minor and
Rhodes . This was
perhaps to avoid the potential wrath of Sulla, though
says it was to hone his skills and improve his physical fitness. In
Athens he studied philosophy with
Antiochus of Ascalon , the 'Old
Academic' and initiator of
Middle Platonism . In
Asia Minor, he met
the leading orators of the region and continued to study with them.
Cicero then journeyed to
Rhodes to meet his former teacher, Apollonius
Molon , who had previously taught him in Rome. Molon helped Cicero
hone the excesses in his style, as well as train his body and lungs
for the demands of public speaking. Charting a middle path between
the competing Attic and Asiatic styles ,
Cicero would ultimately
become considered second only to
Demosthenes among history's orators.
Terentia probably at the age of 27, in 79 BC.
According to the upper class mores of the day it was a marriage of
convenience, but lasted harmoniously for nearly 30 years. Terentia's
family was wealthy, probably the plebeian noble house of Terenti
Varrones, thus meeting the needs of Cicero's political ambitions in
both economic and social terms. She had a half-sister named Fabia, who
as a child had become a
Vestal Virgin , a very great honour. Terentia
was a strong willed woman and (citing Plutarch) "she took more
interest in her husband's political career than she allowed him to
take in household affairs."
In the 50s BC, Cicero's letters to
Terentia became shorter and
colder. He complained to his friends that
Terentia had betrayed him
but did not specify in which sense. Perhaps the marriage simply could
not outlast the strain of the political upheaval in Rome, Cicero's
involvement in it, and various other disputes between the two. The
divorce appears to have taken place in 51 BC or shortly before. In 46
or 45 BC,
Cicero married a young girl, Publilia, who had been his
ward . It is thought that
Cicero needed her money, particularly after
having to repay the dowry of Terentia, who came from a wealthy family.
This marriage did not last long.
Although his marriage to
Terentia was one of convenience, it is
commonly known that
Cicero held great love for his daughter Tullia .
When she suddenly became ill in February 45 BC and died after having
seemingly recovered from giving birth to a son in January,
stunned. "I have lost the one thing that bound me to life" he wrote to
Atticus. Atticus told him to come for a visit during the first weeks
of his bereavement, so that he could comfort him when his pain was at
its greatest. In Atticus's large library,
Cicero read everything that
the Greek philosophers had written about overcoming grief, "but my
sorrow defeats all consolation." Caesar and Brutus as well as Servius
Sulpicius Rufus sent him letters of condolence.
Cicero hoped that his son Marcus would become a philosopher like him,
but Marcus himself wished for a military career. He joined the army of
Pompey in 49 BC and after Pompey's defeat at
Pharsalus 48 BC, he was
pardoned by Caesar.
Cicero sent him to
Athens to study as a disciple
of the peripatetic philosopher Kratippos in 48 BC, but he used this
absence from "his father's vigilant eye" to "eat, drink and be merry."
After Cicero's murder he joined the army of the
Liberatores but was
later pardoned by
Augustus . Augustus' bad conscience for not having
objected to Cicero's being put on the proscription list during the
Second Triumvirate led him to aid considerably Marcus Minor's career.
He became an augur , and was nominated consul in 30 BC together with
Augustus. As such, he was responsible for revoking the honors of Mark
Antony , who was responsible for the proscription, and could in this
way take revenge. Later he was appointed proconsul of
Syria and the
Political career of Marcus Tullius Cicero
EARLY POLITICAL CAREER
His first office was as one of the twenty annual quaestors , a
training post for serious public administration in a diversity of
areas, but with a traditional emphasis on administration and rigorous
accounting of public monies under the guidance of a senior magistrate
or provincial commander.
Cicero served as quaestor in western Sicily
in 75 BC and demonstrated honesty and integrity in his dealings with
the inhabitants. As a result, the grateful Sicilians asked
Gaius Verres , a governor of Sicily, who had badly plundered
the province. His prosecution of
Gaius Verres was a great forensic
success for Cicero. Governor
Gaius Verres hired the prominent lawyer
of a noble family
Quintus Hortensius Hortalus . After a lengthy period
in Sicily collecting testimonials and evidence and persuading
witnesses to come forward,
Cicero returned to
Rome and won the case in
a series of dramatic court battles. His unique style of oratory set
him apart from the flamboyant Hortensius. On the conclusion of this
Cicero came to be considered the greatest orator in Rome. The
Cicero may have taken the case for reasons of his own is
viable. Hortensius was, at this point, known as the best lawyer in
Rome; to beat him would guarantee much success and the prestige that
Cicero needed to start his career. Cicero's oratorical skill is shown
in his character assassination of Verres and various other techniques
of persuasion used on the jury. One such example is found in the
speech Against Verres I , where he states "with you on this bench,
gentlemen, with Marcus Acilius Glabrio as your president, I do not
understand what Verres can hope to achieve". Oratory was considered a
great art in ancient
Rome and an important tool for disseminating
knowledge and promoting oneself in elections, in part because there
were no regular newspapers or mass media.
Cicero was neither a
patrician nor a plebeian noble ; his rise to political office despite
his relatively humble origins has traditionally been attributed to his
brilliance as an orator.
Cicero grew up in a time of civil unrest and war.
Sulla 's victory in
the first of a series of civil wars led to a new constitutional
framework that undermined libertas (liberty), the fundamental value of
the Roman Republic. Nonetheless, Sulla's reforms strengthened the
position of the equestrian class, contributing to that class's growing
Cicero was both an Italian eques and a novus homo ,
but more importantly he was a Roman constitutionalist . His social
class and loyalty to the
Republic ensured that he would "command the
support and confidence of the people as well as the Italian middle
classes". The optimates faction never truly accepted Cicero; and this
undermined his efforts to reform the
Republic while preserving the
constitution. Nevertheless, he successfully ascended the cursus
honorum , holding each magistracy at or near the youngest possible
age: quaestor in 75 BC (age 31), aedile in 69 BC (age 37), and praetor
in 66 BC (age 40), when he served as president of the "Reclamation"
(or extortion) Court. He was then elected consul at age 43.
Cicero Denounces Catiline, fresco by
Cesare Maccari , 1882–88
Cicero was elected consul for the year 63 BC. His co-consul for the
Gaius Antonius Hybrida , played a minor role. During his year in
office, he thwarted a conspiracy centered on assassinating him and
Roman Republic with the help of foreign armed forces,
led by Lucius Sergius Catilina .
Cicero procured a senatus consultum
ultimum (a declaration of martial law ) and drove
Catiline from the
city with four vehement speeches (the
Catiline Orations ), which to
this day remain outstanding examples of his rhetorical style. The
Catiline and his followers' debaucheries, and
denounced Catiline's senatorial sympathizers as roguish and dissolute
debtors clinging to
Catiline as a final and desperate hope. Cicero
Catiline and his followers leave the city. At the
conclusion of his first speech,
Catiline hurriedly left the Senate,
(which was being held in the Temple of Jupiter Stator ). In his
Cicero did not directly address Catiline. He
delivered the second and third orations before the people , and the
last one again before the Senate. By these speeches,
Cicero wanted to
prepare the Senate for the worst possible case; he also delivered more
evidence against Catiline.
Catiline fled and left behind his followers to start the revolution
from within while
Catiline assaulted the city with an army of "moral
bankrupts and honest fanatics".
Catiline had attempted to involve the
Allobroges , a tribe of
Transalpine Gaul , in their plot, but Cicero,
working with the Gauls, was able to seize letters that incriminated
the five conspirators and forced them to confess in front of the
The Senate then deliberated upon the conspirators' punishment. As it
was the dominant advisory body to the various legislative assemblies
rather than a judicial body, there were limits to its power; however,
martial law was in effect, and it was feared that simple house arrest
or exile – the standard options – would not remove the threat to
the state. At first Decimus Silanus spoke for the "extreme penalty";
many were swayed by Julius Caesar, who decried the precedent it would
set and argued in favor of life imprisonment in various Italian towns.
Cato the Younger rose in defence of the death penalty and the entire
Senate finally agreed on the matter.
Cicero had the conspirators taken
Tullianum , the notorious Roman prison, where they were
Cicero himself accompanied the former consul Publius
Lentulus Sura , one of the conspirators, to the Tullianum.
Cicero received the honorific "
Pater Patriae " for his efforts to
suppress the conspiracy, but lived thereafter in fear of trial or
exile for having put Roman citizens to death without trial.
After the conspirators were put to death,
Cicero was proud of his
accomplishment. Some of his political enemies argued that though the
Cicero popularity, he exaggerated the extent of his
success. He overestimated his popularity again several years later
after being exiled from
Italy and then allowed back from exile. At
this time, he claimed that the
Republic would be restored along with
EXILE AND RETURN
In 60 BC,
Julius Caesar invited
Cicero to be the fourth member of his
existing partnership with
Marcus Licinius Crassus , an
assembly that would eventually be called the
First Triumvirate .
Cicero refused the invitation because he suspected it would undermine
In 58 BC,
Publius Clodius Pulcher , the tribune of the plebs ,
introduced a law (the
Leges Clodiae ) threatening exile to anyone who
executed a Roman citizen without a trial. Cicero, having executed
members of the
Catiline Conspiracy four years previously without
formal trial, and having had a public falling out with Clodius, was
clearly the intended target of the law.
Cicero argued that the senatus
consultum ultimum indemnified him from punishment, and he attempted to
gain the support of the senators and consuls, especially of Pompey.
When help was not forthcoming, he went into exile. He arrived at
Thessalonica , on May 23, 58 BC. Cicero's exile caused him to fall
into depression. He wrote to Atticus : "Your pleas have prevented me
from committing suicide. But what is there to live for? Don't blame me
for complaining. My afflictions surpass any you ever heard of
earlier". After the intervention of recently elected tribune Titus
Annius Milo , the senate voted in favor of recalling
exile. Clodius cast the single vote against the decree. Cicero
Italy on August 5, 57 BC, landing at
Brundisium . He was
greeted by a cheering crowd, and, to his delight, his beloved daughter
Cicero tried to re-enter politics, but his attack on a bill of
Caesar's proved unsuccessful. The conference at Luca in 56 BC forced
Cicero to recant and support the triumvirate. After this, a cowed
Cicero concentrated on his literary works. It is uncertain whether he
was directly involved in politics for the following few years. He
reluctantly accepted a promagistracy in Cilicia for 51 BC, because
there were few other eligible governors available as a result of a
legislative requirement enacted by
Pompey in 52 BC, specifying an
interval of five years between a consulship or praetorship and a
provincial command . He served as proconsul of Cilicia from May 51 to
November 50 BC. He was given instructions to keep nearby Cappadocia
loyal to the King, Ariobarzanes III , which he achieved
‘satisfactorily without war.’ Rome’s defeat by the Parthians and
an uprising in
Syria caused disquiet in Cilicia.
calm though his mild government. He discovered that much of public
property had been embezzled and restored it. This made the cities
better off. He retained the civil rights of, and did not impose
penalties on, the men who gave the property back.
Cicero defeated some
robbers who were based on Mount Amanus and his soldiers hailed him as
imperator . On his way back to
Rome he stopped in
Rhodes . He then
spent some time in
Athens , where he caught up with an old friend from
his previous stay there and met men of great learning.
JULIUS CAESAR\'S CIVIL WAR
The struggle between
Julius Caesar grew more intense in 50
Cicero favoured Pompey, seeing him as a defender of the senate and
Republican tradition, but at that time avoided openly alienating
Caesar. When Caesar invaded
Italy in 49 BC,
Cicero fled Rome. Caesar,
seeking the legitimacy of an endorsement by a senior senator, courted
Cicero's favour, but even so
Cicero slipped out of
Italy and traveled
to Dyrrachium (
Epidamnos ), Illyria, where Pompey's staff was
Cicero traveled with the Pompeian forces to
Pharsalus in 48
BC, though he was quickly losing faith in the competence and
righteousness of the Pompeian side. Eventually, he provoked the
hostility of his fellow senator Cato , who told him that he would have
been of more use to the cause of the optimates if he had stayed in
Rome. After Caesar's victory at the
Battle of Pharsalus on August 9,
Cicero returned to
Rome only very cautiously. Caesar pardoned him and
Cicero tried to adjust to the situation and maintain his political
work, hoping that Caesar might revive the
Republic and its
In a letter to Varro on c. April 20, 46 BC,
Cicero outlined his
strategy under Caesar's dictatorship. Cicero, however, was taken
completely by surprise when the
Liberatores assassinated Caesar on the
ides of March , 44 BC.
Cicero was not included in the conspiracy, even
though the conspirators were sure of his sympathy. Marcus Junius
Brutus called out Cicero's name, asking him to restore the republic
when he lifted his bloodstained dagger after the assassination. A
Cicero wrote in February 43 BC to
Trebonius , one of the
conspirators, began, "How I could wish that you had invited me to that
most glorious banquet on the
Ides of March "!
Cicero became a popular
leader during the period of instability following the assassination.
He had no respect for
Mark Antony , who was scheming to take revenge
upon Caesar's murderers. In exchange for amnesty for the assassins, he
arranged for the Senate to agree not to declare Caesar to have been a
tyrant, which allowed the Caesarians to have lawful support and kept
Caesar's reforms and policies intact.
OPPOSITION TO MARK ANTONY AND DEATH
Cicero's death (France, 15th century)
Cicero and Antony now became the two leading men in Rome–
spokesman for the Senate; Antony as consul, leader of the Caesarian
faction, and unofficial executor of Caesar's public will. Relations
between the two, never friendly, worsened after
Cicero claimed that
Antony was taking liberties in interpreting Caesar's wishes and
intentions. Octavian was Caesar's adopted son and heir; after he
returned to Italy,
Cicero began to play him against Antony. He praised
Octavian, declaring he would not make the same mistakes as his father.
He attacked Antony in a series of speeches he called the Philippics ,
Demosthenes 's denunciations of
Philip II of Macedon . At the
time Cicero's popularity as a public figure was unrivalled.
Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus as governor of
Cisalpine Gaul (Gallia Cisalpina) and urged the Senate to name Antony
an enemy of the state. The speech of Lucius
Piso , Caesar's
father-in-law, delayed proceedings against Antony. Antony was later
declared an enemy of the state when he refused to lift the siege of
Mutina , which was in the hands of Decimus Brutus. Cicero’s plan to
drive out Antony failed. Antony and Octavian reconciled and allied
with Lepidus to form the
Second Triumvirate after the successive
battles of Forum Gallorum and
Mutina . The
proscribing their enemies and potential rivals immediately after
legislating the alliance into official existence for a term of five
years with consular imperium .
Cicero and all of his contacts and
supporters were numbered among the enemies of the state, and
reportedly, Octavian argued for two days against
Cicero being added to
Cicero was one of the most viciously and doggedly hunted among the
proscribed. He was viewed with sympathy by a large segment of the
public and many people refused to report that they had seen him. He
was caught December 7, 43 BC leaving his villa in
Formiae in a litter
going to the seaside where he hoped to embark on a ship destined for
Macedonia. When his killers – Herennius (a centurion) and Popilius
(a tribune) – arrived, Cicero's own slaves said they had not seen
him, but he was given away by Philologus, a freed slave of his brother
Cicero about age 60, from a marble bust
Cicero's last words are said to have been, "There is nothing proper
about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly." He
bowed to his captors, leaning his head out of the litter in a
gladiatorial gesture to ease the task. By baring his neck and throat
to the soldiers, he was indicating that he wouldn't resist. According
Plutarch , Herennius first slew him, then cut off his head. On
Antony's instructions his hands, which had penned the Philippics
against Antony, were cut off as well; these were nailed along with his
head on the
Rostra in the Forum Romanum according to the tradition of
Sulla , both of whom had displayed the heads of their
enemies in the Forum.
Cicero was the only victim of the proscriptions
who was displayed in that manner. According to
Cassius Dio (in a story
often mistakenly attributed to Plutarch), Antony's wife
Cicero's head, pulled out his tongue, and jabbed it repeatedly with
her hairpin in final revenge against Cicero's power of speech.
Cicero's son, Marcus Tullius
Cicero Minor , during his year as a
consul in 30 BC, avenged his father's death, to a certain extent, when
he announced to the Senate Mark Antony's naval defeat at Actium in 31
BC by Octavian and his capable commander-in-chief, Agrippa .
Octavian is reported to have praised
Cicero as a patriot and a
scholar of meaning in later times, within the circle of his family.
However, it was Octavian's acquiescence that had allowed
Cicero to be
Cicero was proscribed by the new triumvirate.
Cicero's career as a statesman was marked by inconsistencies and a
tendency to shift his position in response to changes in the political
climate. His indecision may be attributed to his sensitive and
impressionable personality; he was prone to overreaction in the face
of political and private change. "Would that he had been able to
endure prosperity with greater self-control, and adversity with more
fortitude!" wrote C. Asinius Pollio , a contemporary Roman statesman
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Henry VIII\'s childhood copy of
De Officiis , bearing the
inscription in his hand, "Thys boke is myne".
Cicero has been traditionally considered the master of
Quintilian declaring that
Cicero was "not the name of a man, but
of eloquence itself." The English words Ciceronian (meaning
"eloquent") and cicerone (meaning "local guide") derive from his name.
He is credited with transforming
Latin from a modest utilitarian
language into a versatile literary medium capable of expressing
abstract and complicated thoughts with clarity.
Julius Caesar praised
Cicero's achievement by saying "it is more important to have greatly
extended the frontiers of the Roman spirit (ingenium) than the
frontiers of the Roman empire". According to
John William Mackail ,
"Cicero's unique and imperishable glory is that he created the
language of the civilized world, and used that language to create a
style which nineteen centuries have not replaced, and in some respects
have hardly altered."
Cicero was also an energetic writer with an interest in a wide
variety of subjects, in keeping with the Hellenistic philosophical and
rhetorical traditions in which he was trained. The quality and ready
accessibility of Ciceronian texts favored very wide distribution and
inclusion in teaching curricula, as suggested by a graffito at
Pompeii, admonishing: "You will like Cicero, or you will be whipped".
Cicero was greatly admired by influential
Church Fathers such as
Augustine of Hippo , who credited Cicero's lost Hortensius for his
eventual conversion to Christianity, and St.
Jerome , who had a
feverish vision in which he was accused of being "follower of Cicero
and not of Christ" before the judgment seat. This influence further
increased after the Early Middle Ages in Europe, which more of his
writings survived than any other
Latin author. Medieval philosophers
were influenced by Cicero's writings on natural law and innate rights.
Petrarch 's rediscovery of Cicero's letters provided the impetus for
searches for ancient Greek and
Latin writings scattered throughout
European monasteries, and the subsequent rediscovery of classical
antiquity led to the
Renaissance . Subsequently,
synonymous with classical
Latin to such an extent that a number of
humanist scholars began to assert that no
Latin word or phrase should
be used unless it appeared in Cicero's works, a stance criticized by
His voluminous correspondence, much of it addressed to his friend
Atticus , has been especially influential, introducing the art of
refined letter writing to European culture.
Cornelius Nepos , the 1st
century BC biographer of Atticus, remarked that Cicero's letters
contained such a wealth of detail "concerning the inclinations of
leading men, the faults of the generals, and the revolutions in the
government" that their reader had little need for a history of the
Among Cicero's admirers were Desiderius
Martin Luther , and
John Locke . Following the invention of Johannes Gutenberg's printing
De Officiis was the second book printed in Europe, after the
Gutenberg Bible . Scholars note Cicero's influence on the rebirth of
religious toleration in the 17th century.
Cicero the humanist deeply influenced the culture of the
Cicero the republican inspired the Founding Fathers of
the United States and the revolutionaries of the
French Revolution .
John Adams said, "As all the ages of the world have not produced a
greater statesman and philosopher united than Cicero, his authority
should have great weight." Jefferson names
Cicero as one of a handful
of major figures who contributed to a tradition “of public right”
that informed his draft of the Declaration of Independence and shaped
American understandings of "the common sense" basis for the right of
Camille Desmoulins said of the French republicans in 1789
that they were "mostly young people who, nourished by the reading of
Cicero at school, had become passionate enthusiasts for liberty".
Jim Powell starts his book on the history of liberty with the
sentence: "Marcus Tullius
Cicero expressed principles that became the
bedrock of liberty in the modern world."
Likewise, no other ancient personality has inspired as much venomous
dislike as Cicero, especially in more modern times. His commitment to
the values of the
Republic accommodated a hatred of the poor and
persistent opposition to the advocates and mechanisms of popular
Friedrich Engels referred to him as "the most
contemptible scoundrel in history" for upholding republican
"democracy" while at the same time denouncing land and class reforms.
Cicero has faced criticism for exaggerating the democratic qualities
of republican Rome, and for defending the Roman oligarchy against the
popular reforms of Caesar.
Michael Parenti admits Cicero's abilities
as an orator, but finds him a vain, pompous and hypocritical
personality who, when it suited him, could show public support for
popular causes that he privately despised. Parenti presents Cicero's
prosecution of the
Catiline conspiracy as legally flawed at least, and
Cicero also had an influence on modern astronomy. Nicolaus Copernicus
, searching for ancient views on earth motion, said that he "first ...
Hicetas supposed the earth to move."
Marci Tullii Ciceronis Opera Omnia (1566) Main article:
Writings of Cicero
Cicero was declared a righteous pagan by the Early Church , and
therefore many of his works were deemed worthy of preservation. The
Bogomils considered him a rare exception of a pagan saint. Subsequent
Roman and medieval Christian writers quoted liberally from his works
De Re Publica (On the Commonwealth) and
De Legibus (On the Laws), and
much of his work has been recreated from these surviving fragments.
Cicero also articulated an early, abstract conceptualization of
rights, based on ancient law and custom. Of Cicero's books, six on
rhetoric have survived, as well as parts of eight on philosophy. Of
his speeches, 88 were recorded, but only 58 survive.
* (81 BC)
Pro Quinctio (In Defense of Quinctius)
* (80 BC)
Pro Roscio Amerino (In Defense of Roscius of Ameria )
* (70 BC)
In Verrem (Against Verres )
* (69 BC) Pro Fonteio (In Defense of Fonteius)
* (69 BC)
Pro Caecina (In Defense of Caecina )
* (66 BC)
Pro Cluentio (In Defense of Cluentius )
* (66 BC) De Imperio Gnaei Pompei or De Lege Manilia (On the Command
of Gnaeus Pompey)
* (63 BC) De Lege Agraria (On the Agrarian
Law proposed by Servilius
* (63 BC) In Catilinam (Against
* (63 BC) Pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo (In Defense of Rabirius )
* (62 BC) Pro
Sulla (In Defense of
* (62 BC)
Pro Archia Poeta (In Defense of Archias the Poet)
* (59 BC) Pro Flacco (In Defense of
* (57 BC) Post Reditum in Senatu (Speech to the Senate After His
* (57 BC) Post Reditum ad Quirites (Speech to the People After His
* (57 BC) De Domo Sua (On His House)
* (57 BC) De Haruspicum Responsis (On the Response of the Haruspices
* (56 BC) Pro Sestio (In Defense of Sestius)
* (56 BC) In Vatinium (Cross-examination of Vatinius)
* (56 BC)
Pro Caelio (In Defense of Caelius )
* (56 BC) De Provinciis Consularibus (On the Consular Provinces)
* (56 BC) Pro Balbo (In Defense of Balbus )
* (55 BC) In Pisonem (Against
* (54 BC)
Pro Rabirio Postumo (In Defense of Rabirius Postumus )
* (52 BC)
Pro Milone (In Defense of Milo )
* (46 BC)
Pro Marcello (In Support of the Recall of Marcellus)
* (46 BC)
Pro Ligario (In Defense of Ligarius )
* (45 BC) Pro Deiotaro (In Defense of King
* (44–43 BC)
Philippicae (Philippics, against
Mark Antony )
PHILOSOPHICAL DIALOGUES AND TREATISES
* (84 BC)
De Inventione (About the composition of arguments)
* (55 BC)
De Oratore ad Quintum fratrem libri tres (On the Orator,
three books for his brother Quintus)
* (51 BC)
De Re Publica (On the Commonwealth)
* (?? BC)
De Legibus (On the Laws)
* (46 BC) Brutus (Brutus)
* (46 BC) Orator (Orator)
* (45 BC) Hortensius (an exhortation to philosophy)
* (45 BC) Consolatio (on grief and consolation)
* (45 BC) Academica (On Academic Skepticism)
* (45 BC)
De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (On the Ends of Good and
Evil or On Moral Ends, a book on ethics)
* (45 BC) Tusculanae Disputationes (Tusculan Disputations)
* (45 BC)
De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods)
* (44 BC) Topica
* (44 BC)
De Divinatione (On Divination)
* (44 BC)
De Fato (On Fate)
* (44 BC) De Amicitia (On Friendship)
* (44 BC)
Cato Maior de Senectute (
Cato the Elder
Cato the Elder on Old Age)
* (44 BC)
Laelius de Amicitia (Laelius on Friendship)
* (44 BC) De Gloria (On Glory)
* (44 BC)
De Officiis (On Duties)
Cicero's letters to and from various public and private figures are
considered some of the most reliable sources of information for the
people and events surrounding the fall of the Roman Republic. While 37
books of his letters have survived into modern times, 35 more books
were known to antiquity that have since been lost. These included
letters to Caesar, to Pompey, to Octavian, and to his son Marcus.
Epistulae ad Atticum (Letters to Atticus; 68–43 BC)
Epistulae ad Brutum (Letters to Brutus; 43 BC)
Epistulae ad Familiares (Letters to friends; 62–43 BC)
Epistulae ad Quintum Fratrem (Letters to brother Quintus;
NOTABLE FICTIONAL PORTRAYALS
Ben Jonson dramatised the conspiracy of
Catiline in his play Catiline
His Conspiracy , featuring
Cicero as a character.
Cicero also appears
as a minor character in
William Shakespeare 's play
Julius Caesar .
Cicero was portrayed on the motion picture screen by British actor
Alan Napier in the 1953 film
Julius Caesar , based on Shakespeare's
play. He has also been played by such noted actors as Michael Hordern
Cleopatra ), and
André Morell (in the 1970
Julius Caesar ). Most
Cicero was portrayed by
David Bamber in the HBO series Rome
(2005–2007) and appeared in both seasons.
In the historical novel series Masters of
Rome , Colleen McCullough
presents an unflattering depiction of Cicero's career, showing him
struggling with an inferiority complex and vanity, morally flexible
and fatally indiscreet, while his rival
Julius Caesar is shown in a
more approving light.
Cicero is portrayed as a hero in the novel A
Pillar of Iron by
Taylor Caldwell (1965). Robert Harris ' novels
Imperium , Lustrum (published under the name Conspirata in the United
States) and Dictator is the three-part novel series based upon the
life of Cicero. In these novels Cicero's character is depicted in a
more balanced way than in those of McCullough, with his positive
traits equaling or outweighing his weaknesses (while conversely Caesar
is depicted as more sinister than in McCullough).
Cicero is a major
recurring character in the
Roma Sub Rosa series of mystery novels by
Steven Saylor . He also appears several times as a peripheral
John Maddox Roberts '
SPQR series . The protagonist,
Decius Metellus , admires
Cicero for his erudition, but is
disappointed by his lack of real opposition to Caesar, as well as
puzzled by his relentless fawning on the Optimates, who secretly
Cicero as a parvenu .
A Dialogue Concerning Oratorical Partitions
Caecilia Metella (daughter of Metellus Celer)
Marcus Tullius Tiro
Quintus Tullius Cicero
Servius Sulpicius Rufus
Titus Pomponius Atticus
Tullia (daughter of Cicero)
* ^ The name is infrequently anglicized as TULLY (/ˈtʌli/ ).
* ^ E.g., in H. Jones, Master Tully:
Cicero in Tudor England
(Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1998).
* ^ Rawson, E. : Cicero, a portrait (1975) p.303
* ^ Haskell, H.J.: This was
* ^ Merriam-Webster, Inc (January 1995). "Ciceronian period".
Merriam-Webster\'s Encyclopedia Of Literature. Merriam-Webster. p.
244. ISBN 978-0-87779-042-6 . Retrieved 27 August 2013.
* ^ Cicero, Selected Works, 1971, pp.24
* ^ Q. Acad. 2.17–18
* ^ Conte, G.B.: "
Latin Literature: a history" (1987) p.199
* ^ Wootton, David (1 January 1996). Modern Political Thought:
Readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche. Hackett Publishing. p. 1. ISBN
978-0-87220-341-9 . Retrieved 27 August 2013.
* ^ Zieliński, Tadeusz.
Cicero Im Wandel Der Jahrhunderte. Nabu
* ^ Wood, Neal (1991). Cicero's Social and Political Thought.
University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-07427-9 .
* ^ Nicgorski, Walter. "
Cicero and the Natural Law". Natural Law,
Natural Rights, and American Constitutionalism.
* ^ Griffin, Miriam; Boardman, John; Griffin, Jasper; Murray, Oswyn
(15 January 2001). The Oxford Illustrated History of the Roman World.
Oxford University Press. pp. 76ff. ISBN 978-0-19-285436-0 . Retrieved
10 August 2011.
* ^ Rawson, E.: Cicero, a portrait (1975) p.5–6; Cicero, Ad
Familiares 16.26.2 (Quintus to Cicero)
* ^ Trollope, Anthony. The Life of
Cicero Volume 1. p. 42
* ^ Plutarch,
* ^ Everitt, A. :"Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest
Politician" (2001) p.34
* ^ Plutarch. "Life of Caesar". University of Chicago. p. 447.
After this, Sulla's power being now on the wane, and Caesar's friends
at home inviting him to return, Caesar sailed to
Rhodes to study under
Apollonius the son of Molon, an illustrious rhetorician with the
reputation of a worthy character, of whom
Cicero also was a pupil.
* ^ Everitt, A.:"Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest
Politician" (2001) p.35
* ^ Plutarch,
* ^ Plutarch,
* ^ Everitt, A.:"Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest
Politician" (2001) p. 35
* ^ Rawson, E.: "Cicero, a portrait" (1975) p.22
* ^ Everitt, A.:"Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest
Politician" (2001) p. 61
* ^ Vasaly, Ann. Representation: Images of the World in a
Ciceronian Territory. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp.
158–68. ISBN 0520077555 . Archived from the original on 2014-03-06.
* ^ De Officiis, book 1, n. 1
* ^ Everitt, A.:"Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest
Politician" (2001) pp. 253–55
* ^ Rawson:"Cicero, a portrait" (1975) p.18
* ^ "Elpenor".
* ^ Haskell, H.J.: "This was Cicero" (1940) p.83
* ^ Cicero, Brutus, 313–314
* ^ Cicero, Brutus, 315
* ^ Cicero, Brutus, 316–316
* ^ Gesine Manuwald, Cicero: Philippics 3–9, vol. 2, Berlin:
Walter de Gruyter, 2007, pp. 129f
* ^ Rawson, E.: "Cicero, a portrait" (1975) p.25
* ^ Susan Treggiari, Terentia, Tullia and Publilia: the women of
Cicero's family, London: Routledge, 2007, pp. 76f.
* ^ Treggiari, op. cit., p. 133
* ^ Rawson, E.:
* ^ Haskell H.J.: This was Cicero, p.95
* ^ Haskell, H.J.:"This was Cicero" (1964) p.249
* ^ Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 12.14. Rawson, E.:
Cicero p. 225
* ^ Rawson, E.:
* ^ Cicero, Samtliga brev/Collected letters
* ^ Haskell, H.J (1964). This was Cicero. pp. 103–04.
* ^ Paavo Castren & L. Pietilä-Castren: Antiikin
käsikirja/Encyclopedia of the Ancient World
* ^ The Oxford illustrated history of the Roman world. pp. 84ff.
Retrieved 10 August 2011.
* ^ Trans. Grant, Michael. Cicero: Selected Works. London: Penguin
* ^ III. The First Oration Against
Catiline by Cicero.
BC–84 AD). Vol. II. Bryan, William Jennings, ed. 1906. The World\'s
* ^ Cicero, Marcus Tullius, Selected Works, Penguin Books Ltd,
Great Britain, 1971
* ^ Cicero, In Catilinam 3.2 (at the Perseus Project); Sallust,
Bellum Catilinae 40–45 (at Lacus Curtius); Plutarch,
Cicero 18.4 (at
* ^ Clayton, Edward. "
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of Philosophy. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
* ^ Rawson, E.: Cicero, 1984 106
* ^ Haskell, H.J.: This was Cicero, 1964 200
* ^ Haskell, H.J.: This was Cicero, 1964 p.201
* ^ Plutarch.
* ^ Haskell, H.J.: "This was Cicero" (1964) p.201
* ^ Cicero, Samtliga brev/Collected letters (in a Swedish
* ^ Haskell. H.J.: This was Cicero, p.204
* ^ Grant, M: "Cicero: Selected Works", p67
* ^ Everitt, A. "Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest
Politician" (2001), pp. 186–88
* ^ Plutarch, The Life of Cicero, 36
* ^ Plutarch. "Life of Caesar". University of Chicago. p. 575. It
Cicero who proposed the first honours for in the senate, and
their magnitude was, after all, not too great for a man; but others
added excessive honours and vied with one another in proposing them,
thus rendering Caesar odious and obnoxious even to the mildest
citizens because of the pretension and extravagance of what was
decreed for him.
* ^ Everitt, Anthony:
Cicero pp. 215.
* ^ Plutarch,
* ^ Cicero, Second Philippic Against Antony
* ^ Cicero, Ad Familiares 10.28
* ^ Cecil W. Wooten, "Cicero's Philippics and Their Demosthenic
Model" University of North Carolina Press
* ^ Appian, Civil Wars 4.19
* ^ Plutarch,
* ^ A B Haskell, H.J.: This was
Cicero (1964) p.293
* ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History 47.8.4
* ^ Everitt, A.: Cicero, A turbulent life (2001)
Plutarch , Cicero, 49.5
* ^ Haskell, H.J.:"This was Cicero" (1964) p.296
* ^ Castren and Pietilä-Castren: "Antiikin käsikirja" /"Handbook
of antiquity" (2000) p. 237
* ^ Quintilian,
Institutio Oratoria 10.1.1 12
* ^ Harper, Douglas. "Ciceronian".
Online Etymology Dictionary .
* ^ Harper, Douglas. "cicerone".
Online Etymology Dictionary .
* ^ Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature, "Ciceronian
period" (1995) p. 244
* ^ Pliny, Natural History, 7.117
* ^ Cicero, Seven orations, 1912
* ^ Hasan Niyazi, From
Pompeii to Cyberspace – Transcending
barriers with Twitter
* ^ Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, 3:4
* ^ Jerome, Letter to Eustochium, XXII:30
* ^ Erasmus,
* ^ Cornelius Nepos, Atticus 16, trans. John Selby Watson.
* ^ Richards 2010, p.121
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for Religious Toleration in Early Modern and Early Enlightenment
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Mortimer N. S. Sellers , NYU Press, 1994
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Richard Stevens (Itasca, Ill.: F. E. Peacock Publishers, 1973), 12.
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Rome , 2003, pp. 107–111, 93. ISBN
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