Marcus Cicero was a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, and constitutionalist who lived in the Roman Empire. When he was young, he joined the army and then became a lawyer. He was very excited about the Roman Republic. He was known for taking on risky cases and winning them. When the Roman dictator Sulla saw him, he also got into trouble. At the time, Cicero was the quaestor for Sicily, and the powerful Gaius Verres was its governor. Cicero won a case against Verres. In this case, he became known as the best speaker in Rome. He was chosen to be consul, the most important person in the Roman government. During his time as consul, he stopped a plan to overthrow the Republic from taking place. People in the Senate called him Pater Patriae, “Father of the Country,” because he tried to help the country a lot. He kept an eye on the rise of Julius Caesar and his desire for power. After Caesar was killed, he became an enemy of Mark Anthony in the ensuing power struggle between Antony and Antony, and he died as a result. 58 orations, around 900 letters, poems, philosophical and political treatises, and books of rhetoric are some of the things he wrote. He is known as the best Roman orator and the creator of what came to be known as Ciceronian rhetoric, which was the most important means of communication for many centuries.
Childhood & Early Life
Cicero was born in Arpinum, a small hill town about 100 km southeast of Rome, where he lived his whole life. His father was a member of the equestrian order and had good connections in Rome. His mother, Helvia, is unknown.
Plutarch, a Greek historian, says that because of his reputation as a great student, he was able to study Roman law under Quintus Mucius Scaevola. Servius Sulpicius Rufus and Titus Pomponius were also his classmates.
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In 90 BC–88 BC, he worked for two Roman generals, Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo and Lucius Cornelius Sulla, as they fought in the Social War. Even though he didn’t like being in the military, he helped them.
In his first big case, in 80 BC, he defended Sextus Roscius, who was accused of killing his father. This was a brave move because patricide was a very serious crime, and the people Cicero accused of the murder were Sulla’s favorites.
In 79 BC, he went to Greece, Asia Minor, and Rhodes. He may have been afraid of Sulla’s wrath. During his time in Athens, he met Atticus, who had become an honorary citizen of the city. Atticus then took him to meet some important people in the city.
To learn a less physically demanding style of speech, he asked the rhetorician, Apollonius Molon of Rhodes, for help. Molon taught Cicero how to speak in a less intense way.
In 75 BC, Cicero was a quaestor in western Sicily. He showed honesty and integrity in his dealings with the people there. He was able to get rid of the corrupt governor of Sicily, Gaius Verres.
His speeches in 70 BC during the corruption and extortion trial of Gaius Verres were seen by many people. They were called “In Verrem,” which means “Against Verres.”
He was able to climb the Roman cursus honorum, or path of honor, which is the order of public offices held by people who want to be politicians. At the age of 43, he became quaestor, aedile, praetor, and consul.
In the year 63 BC, Lucius Sergius Catilina was elected Consul. During this time, he stopped a plot to kill him and overthrow the Republic with the help of foreign armed forces, led by Catilina.
He got a Senatus Consultum Ultimum, a declaration of martial law, and used four vehement speeches (the Catiline Orations) to drive Catiline out of the city. These speeches still show off his rhetorical style today.
It was Cicero who made them confess their crimes in front of the Senate. They were strangled without a trial, an act that would haunt him for a long time.
In 60 BC, Cicero turned down an invitation from Julius Caesar to join the First Triumvirate, which was made up of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Marcus Licinius Crassus. He thought that would hurt the Republic.
In 58 BC, Publius Clodius Pulcher, the tribune of the plebs, made a law that threatened to send anyone who killed a Roman citizen without a trial to prison. Exiled: Cicero was sent to Greece, where he was forced to live.
After Titus Annius Milo, a newly elected tribune, talked to the senate, Cicero was brought back from exile. In 57 BC, he came back to Italy. When he landed at Brundisium, he was cheered on by a crowd of people.
When he came back from exile, he couldn’t be involved in politics, so he kept studying philosophy. After writing “On the Orator,” he wrote “The Republic,” and then “The Laws.” He wrote these three things between 55 BC and 51 BC.
The Triumvirate came to an end when Crassus died. In 49 BC, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River and entered Italy with his army. There was a civil war between Caeser and Pompey.
Cicero did not support Pompey very strongly. It was a bad thing that Caesar’s forces won in 48 BC, and he became the first Roman Emperor. He gave Cicero a pardon, but he told him not to get involved in politics again, so he did.
Caesar was killed by a group of senators on the Ides of March in 44 BC when they were all together. Another power struggle broke out, and this time, Mark Antony, Marcus Lepidus, and Octavian were the main people.
When Demosthenes spoke to the Athenians to get them excited about Philip of Macedon, he called on them to help Octavian fight, Antony. He called on the Senate to help Octavian fight, Antony.
However, Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian agreed to share power. As part of the deal, each got to kill their enemies. Cicero tried to leave Italy a little late, but he was caught and killed.
The book “On the Orator” was written by Cicero in 55 BC. It is a long treatise written in the form of a dialogue. Cicero places rhetoric above law and philosophy. It says that a good orator would know them and be able to speak well about them.
It says that a good orator would know them and be able to speak well, too.
Personal Life & Legacy
Cicero married Terentia at the age of 27, in 79 BC, a marriage of convenience, which was harmonious for some 30 years, but ended in divorce.
He married Publilia. To make things worse for Publilia, who had been jealous of Cicero’s daughter Tullia and didn’t like her, she was so heartless when she saw her die that Cicero divorced her.
He was killed on Mark Antony’s instructions on December 7, 43 BC, when he was trying to flee Italy.
It was probably when Cicero was about 27 years old that he married Terentia. They were together for about 30 years before they split up.
It was in 46 BC that he married Publilia. She was the daughter of his uncle. At the death of Cicero’s daughter, Tullia, Cicero, who had been jealous of her, was so unfeeling that he married someone else.
Because Mark Antony told him to, he was killed on December 7, 43 BC, as he tried to flee Italy and go to Rome.