Cicero
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Roman Daily Life video

Marcus Tullius Cicero, simply known as Cicero, was an important person in ancient Rome from during the last century B.C.E. until his death in 43 B.C.E.

There were very few if any people in ancient Rome that were a better speaker than Cicero. He was well educated in philosophy, poetry, and history.

During his lifetime, he became a powerful politician that tried to save the Roman Republic from destruction.

Early years

Cicero was born in a small mountain town southeast of Rome named Arpinum in 106 B.C.E. His father was a powerful man and a member of the equestrian class. As a child, Cicero was very well educated.

He learned to speak Latin and Greek at an early age. He studied Greek philosophy, poetry, law, and history. Over time he became a great speaker who was highly valued in ancient Rome. While he studied Roman law in school, he became lifelong friends with Servius Rufus and Atticus.

At the age of 27 years old, he married Terentia, who would give birth to his two children. His daughter was Tullia and would die in 45 B.C.E. and his son Cicero Minor. Throughout Cicero’s career, his wife was a strong supporter of his actions.

Cicero as a famous lawyer

In 88 B.C.E. during the Social Wars Cicero, he served under Lucius Cornelius Sulla. He did not like the military. He was an intellect and scholar at heart. In 83 B.C.E., he started to practice Roman law to help further his political career.

His first big law case as a lawyer was in 80 B.C.E. Cicero was masterful in his defense argument and would win the case against a favorite person of Sulla.

Political career

Cicero always wanted to be a politician. He became a quaestor in Sicily during 75 B.C.E. He was successful at his job when the people of Sicily asked him to put the governor Gaius Verres on trial for plundering the island of Sicily. Cicero again used his intellect and powerful speaking in the courts to provide enough evidence to convict Verres.

Six years later, in 69 B.C.E., he became an aedile, and three years later was a praetor. When he was 42 years old, Cicero became the consul, the most powerful position in the Roman Republic.

While consul, Cicero was instrumental in stopping a threat to overthrow the republic and was given the name of Pater Patriae, which translates to Father of the Country. Throughout his political career Cicero never lost an election because of his great ability to speak in public.

Rise of Julius Caesar

As a politician, Cicero did not like how Julius Caesar wanted power. He knew that Julius Caesar wanted complete control and to destroy the Roman Republic. Caesar asked Cicero to join him in forming an alliance. Cicero declined, and thus Caesar became an enemy to Cicero. Caesar would then have Cicero exiled from Rome in 58 B.C.E., but he returned one year later.

Cicero would flea ancient Rome during the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompei. When Caesar declared himself the dictator of Rome, he actually gave Cicero a pardon, which allowed him to return to Rome. After Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C.E., Cicero took control of the Senate and worked hard to bring the Roman Republic back to life.

Final year

During the final year of Cicero’s life, he became an opponent of Marc Antony. After the alliance of Octavian, Lepidus, and Antony was formed, the three men searched for their enemies.

They eventually found Cicero and killed him. It is known that Cicero’s final words were “there is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly.” Thus Cicero was killed in 43 B.C.E.

Important facts about Cicero

  • Marcus Tullius Cicero was born in 106 B.C.E. into an equestrian family. He was very well educated as a youth. He learned how to write and speak Latin and Greek.
  • Cicero in Latin means chickpea.
  • Cicero was a brilliant writer and speaker. Throughout his work, there are two themes that are Duty to Country and Duty to Man.
  • His speaking powers enabled him to be the best lawyer in ancient Rome.
  • Cicero rose through the political ranks of ancient Rome first as a quaestor until he was named consul. He never lost an election. His wife, Terentia, was a great political supporter of Cicero.
  • He was not friendly with Julius Caesar and felt Caesar wanted to destroy the Roman Republic.
  • Cicero was exiled from ancient Rome several times.
  • He was considered an enemy to the Second Triumvirate, which included Marc Antony and Octavian. Cicero was murdered by the soldiers of Marc Antony.

Questions

What class of citizen was the father of Cicero?
Equestrian

What two themes are consistently found in the writing and speeches of Cicero?
Duty to Country and Duty to Man

What was the highest political office held by Cicero?
Consul

The soldiers of which dictator killed Cicero?
Marc Antony

Was Cicero a friend of Julius Caesar?
No