Marcus Tullius Cicero[n 1] (/ˈsɪsəroʊ/; Classical
Latin: [ˈmaːr.kʊs ˈtʊl.lɪ.ʊs ˈkɪ.kɛ.roː];
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
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 influence of 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 summarily
executing five conspirators. During the chaotic latter half of the 1st
century BC marked by civil wars and the dictatorship of Gaius Julius
Cicero championed a return to the traditional republican
government. Following Julius Caesar's death,
Cicero became an enemy of
Mark Antony in the ensuing power struggle, attacking him in a series
of speeches. He was proscribed as an enemy of the state by the Second
Triumvirate and consequently executed by soldiers operating on their
behalf in 43 BC after having been intercepted during an 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
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,
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 the Roman Republic.
1 Personal life
1.1 Early life
2 Public career
2.1 Early political career
2.3 Exile and return
2.4 Julius Caesar's civil war
2.5 Opposition to
Mark Antony and death
4.2 Philosophical dialogues and treatises
5 Notable fictional portrayals
6 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Main article: Personal life of Marcus Tullius Cicero
Cicero was born in 106 BC in Arpinum, a hill town 100 kilometers
(62 mi) southeast of Rome. He belonged to the tribus
Cornelia. 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 housewife.
Cicero's cognomen, or personal surname, comes from the
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
The Young Cicero Reading by
Vincenzo Foppa (fresco, 1464), now at the
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
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 elite.
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,
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 of
the Cursus honorum. In 90–88 BC, he served both Gnaeus Pompeius
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla as they campaigned in the Social
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
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
Academy that 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
Cicero said of Plato's Dialogues, that if Zeus were to
speak, he would use their language.
In 79 BC,
Cicero left for Greece,
Asia Minor and Rhodes. This was
perhaps to avoid the potential wrath of Sulla, though Cicero
himself says it was to hone his skills and improve his physical
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.
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
Marcus Tullius Cicero
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
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
Cicero was 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
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's 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 province of
Main article: Political career of 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
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
prosecute 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.
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
year, 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
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
Cato the Younger
Cato the Younger rose in defence of the death penalty
and the entire Senate finally agreed on the matter.
Cicero had the
conspirators taken to the Tullianum, the notorious Roman prison, where
they were strangled.
Cicero himself accompanied the former consul
Lentulus Sura, one of the conspirators, to the
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
Pompey and 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
Cicero from exile. Clodius cast the single vote against the decree.
Cicero returned to
Italy on August 5, 57 BC, landing at
Brundisium. He was greeted by a cheering crowd, and, to his
delight, his beloved daughter Tullia.
Cicero tried to re-enter politics, but his attack on a bill of
Caesar's proved unsuccessful. The conference at Luca in 56 BC
Cicero to recant and support the triumvirate. After this, a
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
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
Parthian Empire and an uprising in
Syria caused disquiet in Cilicia.
Cicero maintained calm through 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
traveled to Dyrrachium (Epidamnos), Illyria, where Pompey's staff was
Cicero traveled with the Pompeian forces to
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
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.
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, after Demosthenes's denunciations of Philip II of
Macedon. At the time Cicero's popularity as a public figure was
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
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
freedman of his brother Quintus Cicero.
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
to 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
Marius and 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 Fulvia
took Cicero's head, pulled out his tongue, and jabbed it repeatedly
with her hairpin in final revenge against Cicero's power of
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 Prynce Henry"
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
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 Erasmus, Martin Luther, and
John Locke. Following the invention of Johannes Gutenberg's
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
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
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 revolution.
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
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 possibly unlawful.
Cicero also had an influence on modern astronomy. Nicolaus Copernicus,
searching for ancient views on earth motion, said that he
"first ... found in
Hicetas supposed the earth to
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
De Re Publica (On the Commonwealth) and
De Legibus (On the
Laws), and much of his work has been recreated from these surviving
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
Pro Quinctio (In Defense of Quinctius)
Pro Roscio Amerino
Pro Roscio Amerino (In Defense of Roscius of Ameria)
In Verrem (Against Verres)
(69 BC) Pro Fonteio (In Defense of Fonteius)
Pro Caecina (In Defense of Caecina)
Pro Cluentio (In Defense of Cluentius)
(66 BC) De Imperio Gnaei Pompei or De Lege Manilia (On the Command of
(63 BC) De Lege Agraria (On the Agrarian
Law proposed by Servilius
(63 BC) In Catilinam (Against Catiline)
(63 BC) Pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo (In Defense of Rabirius)
(62 BC) Pro
Sulla (In Defense of Sulla)
Pro Archia Poeta (In Defense of Archias the Poet)
(59 BC) Pro Flacco (In Defense of Flaccus)
(57 BC) Post Reditum in Senatu (Speech to the Senate After His Return)
(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)
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 Piso)
Pro Rabirio Postumo (In Defense of Rabirius Postumus)
(54 BC) Pro Cnaeo Plancio (In Defense of Gnaeus Plancius)
Pro Milone (In Defense of Milo)
Pro Marcello (In Support of the Recall of Marcellus)
Pro Ligario (In Defense of Ligarius)
(45 BC) Pro Deiotaro (In Defense of King Deiotarus)
Philippicae (Philippics, against Mark Antony)
Philosophical dialogues and treatises
De Inventione (About the composition of arguments)
De Oratore ad Quintum fratrem libri tres (On the Orator, three
books for his brother Quintus)
De Re Publica (On the Commonwealth)
De Legibus (On the Laws)
Paradoxa Stoicorum (Stoic Paradoxes)
(46 BC) Brutus (Brutus)
(45 BC) Hortensius (an exhortation to philosophy)
(45 BC) Consolatio (on grief and consolation)
(45 BC) Academica (On Academic Skepticism)
De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum
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)
De Natura Deorum
De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods)
(44 BC) Topica
De Divinatione (On Divination)
De Fato (On Fate)
Cato Maior de Senectute (
Cato the Elder
Cato the Elder on Old Age)
Laelius de Amicitia (Laelius on Friendship)
(44 BC) De Gloria (On Glory)
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
(in 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
Cicero is a major recurring character in
Roma Sub Rosa
Roma Sub Rosa series of mystery novels by Steven Saylor. He also
appears several times as a peripheral character in John Maddox
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 despise
Cicero as a parvenu.
A Dialogue Concerning Oratorical Partitions
Caecilia Metella (daughter of Metellus Celer)
Esse quam videri
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
Cicero (1964) pp. 300–01
^ 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
^ Cicero, Selected Works, 1971, p. 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.
^ Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum, 747.
^ Rawson, E.: Cicero, a portrait (1975) pp. 5–6; Cicero, Ad
Familiares 16.26.2 (Quintus to Cicero)
^ Trollope, Anthony. The Life of
Cicero Volume 1. p. 42
^ 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
^ Everitt, A.: "Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest
Politician" (2001) p. 35
^ 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
^ 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
^ Haskell, H.J.: "This was Cicero" (1940) p. 83
^ Cicero, Brutus, 313–14
^ Cicero, Brutus, 315
^ Cicero, Brutus, 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. 76ff.
^ Treggiari, op. cit., p. 133
^ Rawson, E.:
Cicero p. 225
^ 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 p. 226
^ 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.
Rome (218 BC–84
AD). Vol. II. Bryan, William Jennings, ed. 1906. The World's Famous
^ Cicero, Marcus Tullius, Selected Works, Penguin Books Ltd, Great
^ Cicero, In Catilinam 3.2[dead link] (at the Perseus Project);
Sallust, Bellum Catilinae 40–45 (at Lacus Curtius); Plutarch, Cicero
18.4 (at Lacus Curtius).
^ Clayton, Edward. "
Cicero (106–43 BC)". Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
^ Yelegaonkar, Dr Shrikant (2009). Western Thinker's in Political
Science. Lulu.com. ISBN 9781329082779.
^ Rawson, E.: Cicero, 1984 106
^ Haskell, H.J.: This was Cicero, 1964 200
^ Haskell, H.J.: This was Cicero, 1964 p. 201
^ Haskell, H.J.: "This was Cicero" (1964) p. 201
^ Cicero, Samtliga brev/Collected letters (in a Swedish translation)
^ Haskell. H.J.: This was Cicero, p. 204
^ Grant, M: "Cicero: Selected Works", p. 67
^ 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 [Caesar] 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 p. 215.
^ 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
^ "World History in Context". ic.galegroup.com. Retrieved
^ Appian, Civil Wars 4.19
^ 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
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 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on
2012-11-14. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
^ Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, 3:4
^ Jerome, Letter to Eustochium, XXII:30
^ Goodey, C. F. (2013-07-28). A History of Intelligence and
'Intellectual Disability': The Shaping of Psychology in Early Modern
Europe. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 9781409482352.
^ Erasmus, Ciceronianus
^ Cornelius Nepos, Atticus 16, trans. John Selby Watson.
^ Richards 2010, p.121
^ Gibson, William (2006). "John Marshall. John Locke, Toleration and
Early Enlightenment Culture: Religious Toleration and Arguments for
Religious Toleration in Early Modern and Early Enlightenment Europe".
H-Albion. Retrieved 8 July 2012.
^ De Burgh, W.G., "The legacy of the ancient world"
^ American republicanism: Roman
Ideology in the United States Mortimer
N. S. Sellers, NYU Press, 1994
^ Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to Henry Lee,” 8 May 1825, in The
Political Thought of American Statesmen, eds. Morton Frisch and
Richard Stevens (Itasca, Ill.: F. E. Peacock Publishers, 1973), 12.
^ Aulard, François-Alphonse (1901). Histoire politique de la
Révolution française: Origines et Développement de la Démocratie
et de la République (1789–1804). Librairie Armand Colin.
^ Powell, Jim (2000). The Triumph of Liberty: A 2,000 Year History
Told Through the Lives of Freedom's Greatest Champions. Free Press.
pp. 2–10. ISBN 978-0684859675.
^ Bailey, D.R.S. "Cicero's letters to Atticus" (1978) p. 16
^ Letters to Atticus I & II
^ Noted in Michael Parenti, The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A
People's History of Ancient Rome, 2003:86. ISBN 1-56584-797-0
^ Cicero. "On Duties" (PDF).
^ Michael Parenti, The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's
History of Ancient Rome, 2003, pp. 107–11, 93.
^ Spielvogel, Jackson (2011). Western Civilization since 1300. Cengage
Learning. p. 492. ISBN 978-1-111-34219-7.
^ Everitt, A., Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest
Politician (2003), p. 259
^ De Burgh, W.G.
^ "M. Tullius Cicero, Orations: The fourteen orations against Marcus
Antonius (Philippics) (ed. C. D. Yonge)". Perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved
Cicero On Moral Ends. (De Finibus) Julia Annas – editor, Raphael
Woolf – transltr Cambridge University Press, 2001
^ "E-Texts : De Finibus, Book I". Epicurus.info. Archived from
the original on December 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-03.
^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cicero". Encyclopædia Britannica
(11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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Resources in other libraries
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
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Cicero, Marcus Tullius,
De Officiis (On Duties), translated by Walter
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Dickinson College Commentaries: Against Verres 2.1.53-86
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Laelius de Amicitia at OPenn
Lewis E 66 Epistolae ad familiares (Letters to friends)
Biographies and descriptions of Cicero's time
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Plutarch's biography of
Cicero contained in the Parallel Lives
Cicero by Anthony Trollope, Volume I – Volume II
Cicero by Rev. W. Lucas Collins (Ancient Classics for English Readers)
Roman life in the days of
Cicero by Rev. Alfred J. Church
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Rome in the Age of
Cicero by W. Warde Fowler
At Heraklia website at the
Wayback Machine (archived January 14, 2006)
Dryden's translation of
Cicero from Plutarch's Parallel Lives
At Middlebury College website
Julius Caesar and Gaius Marcius Figulus
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Gaius Antonius Hybrida
Decimus Junius Silanus and Lucius Licinius Murena
Marcus Tullius Cicero
De Partitionibus Oratoriae
De Optimo Genere Oratorum
De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum
De Natura Deorum
Cato Maior de Senectute
Laelius de Amicitia
De Re Publica
De Imperio Cn. Pompei
In Catilinam I–IV
In Toga Candida
Pro Roscio Amerino
Divinatio in Caecilium
Pro Archia Poeta
Epistulae ad Atticum
Epistulae ad Brutum
Epistulae ad Familiares
Epistulae ad Quintum Fratrem
historiography of the fall
Tribune of the Plebs
Frontiers and fortifications
Decorations and punishments
Conflict of the Orders
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Younger
Quintus Curtius Rufus
Seneca the Elder
Seneca the Younger
Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Eusebius of Caesaria
Phlegon of Tralles
Lists and other
Cities and towns
Wars and battles
The works of Plutarch
Alcibiades and Coriolanus1
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar
Aratus of Sicyon
Aratus of Sicyon / Artaxerxes and
Galba / Otho2
Aristides and Cato the Elder1
Crassus and Nicias1
Demetrius and Antony1
Demosthenes and Cicero1
Dion and Brutus1
Fabius and Pericles1
Lucullus and Cimon1
Lysander and Sulla1
Numa and Lycurgus1
Pelopidas and Marcellus1
Philopoemen and Flamininus1
Phocion and Cato the Younger
Pompey and Agesilaus1
Poplicola and Solon1
Pyrrhus and Gaius Marius
Romulus and Theseus1
Sertorius and Eumenes1
Agis / Cleomenes1 and
Tiberius Gracchus / Gaius Gracchus
Timoleon and Aemilius Paulus1
Themistocles and Camillus
Translators and editors
Arthur Hugh Clough
1 Comparison extant
2 Four unpaired Lives
The Seven Virtues in Christian ethics
Great Commandment; "All the
Law and the Prophets hang on these two
commandments." – Matthew 22:35-40
Republic, Book IV
Augustine of Hippo
Sources: Paul the Apostle
1 Corinthians 13
Seven deadly sins
Source: Prudentius, Psychomachia
People: Evagrius Ponticus
Pope Gregory I
Ethics of care
Good and evil
Suffering or Pain
Augustine of Hippo
Georg W. F. Hegel
John Stuart Mill
G. E. Moore
J. L. Mackie
G. E. M. Anscombe
R. M. Hare
Robert Merrihew Adams
Ethics of eating meat
Ethics of technology
Ethics in religion
History of ethics
Philosophy of law
Social and political philosophy
Feminist political theory
Mandate of Heaven
Philosophy and economics
Philosophy of education
Philosophy of history
Philosophy of love
Philosophy of sex
Philosophy of social science
ISNI: 0000 0001 3932 2910
BNF: cb11885977m (data)