Marcus Cicero, a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, and constitutionalist, was a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, and constitutionalist. He served in the army for a brief time before beginning his profession as a lawyer, as a firm believer in the Roman Republic. He immediately gained a reputation for taking on difficult cases and winning them. Sulla, the Roman ruler, was also furious with him. Cicero was quaestor for Sicily at the time, and he successfully prosecuted a case against the strong Gaius Verres, the governor. During this trial, he earned the reputation of being Rome’s finest orator. He was elected consul, the Roman government’s highest office. During his tenure as consul, he successfully thwarted an attempt to topple the Republic. The Senate bestowed upon him the title of Pater Patriae, which means “Father of the Country,” in recognition of his valiant efforts. He was wary of Julius Caesar’s ascent to power and ambition, and after his assassination, he became an enemy of Mark Anthony in the ensuing power struggle, eventually losing his life. 58 orations, about 900 letters, poems, philosophical and political treatises, and books of rhetoric are among his writings that have survived. He is regarded as the greatest Roman orator and the founder of Ciceronian rhetoric, which remained the most influential rhetorical model for centuries.
Childhood and Adolescence
Cicero was born in Arpinum, a village on the outskirts of Rome about 100 kilometers southeast of Rome. His father was a member of the equestrian order and had contacts in Rome. Helvia, his mother, is a little unknown.
His reputation as a gifted student enabled him to study Roman law under Quintus Mucius Scaevola, with Servius Sulpicius Rufus and Titus Pomponius as classmates, according to the Greek historian Plutarch.
A Later Years
He served the Roman generals Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo and Lucius Cornelius Sulla as they waged in the Social War from 90 BC to 88 BC, despite having no interest in military life.
In his first significant case, Cicero successfully defended Sextus Roscius, who was accused of patricide, a bold move considering patricide was a terrible crime and the people accused of the murder were dictator Sulla’s favorites.
He fled for Greece, Asia Minor, and Rhodes in 79 BC, possibly fearing Sulla’s anger. He met Atticus, who had become an honorary citizen of Athens, and he was introduced to other influential Athenians by him.
He sought the assistance of the rhetorician Apollonius Molon of Rhodes, who taught Cicero a less physically taxing manner of oratory.
In 75 BC, Cicero served as quaestor in western Sicily, where he was known for his honesty and integrity in relations with the locals. Gaius Verres, a corrupt governor of Sicily, was successfully prosecuted by him.
Cicero’s ‘In Verrem’ (Against Verres), a series of speeches delivered during Gaius Verres’ corruption and extortion trial in 70 BC, pushed him into the public eye.
At the age of 43, he was able to climb the Roman cursus honorum, or path of honor, the sequential order of public offices held by ambitious politicians, becoming quaestor, aedile, praetor, and finally consul.
He was chosen Consul for the year 63 BC, during which he foiled a plot led by Lucius Sergius Catilina to assassinate him and overthrow the Republic with the support of foreign armed troops.
He obtained a Senatus Consultum Ultimum, a declaration of martial law, and drove Catiline out of the city with four fiery speeches (the Catiline Orations), which characterize his rhetorical style to this day.
Catiline fled and attempted a revolution, but Cicero forced them to confess their misdeeds before the Senate. The conspirators were strangled without being tried, an act that would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Cicero turned down Julius Caesar’s invitation to join the First Triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Marcus Licinius Crassus in 60 BC because he believed it would jeopardize the Republic.
The tribune of the plebes, Publius Clodius Pulcher, issued legislation in 58 BC that threatened banishment to anyone who executed a Roman citizen without a trial. Cicero was exiled to the Greek city of Thessalonica.
The senate recalled Cicero from exile after the intervention of newly elected tribune Titus Annius Milo. In 57 BC, he returned to Italy, arriving at Brundisium before a joyful audience.
He couldn’t engage in politics after returning from exile, so he resumed his studies in philosophy. He composed ‘On the Orator,’ ‘On the Republic,’ and ‘On the Laws’ between 55 and 51 BC.
With Crassus’ death, the Triumvirate fell apart, and in 49 BC, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River and marched into Italy with his army, sparking a civil war between Caeser and Pompey.
Cicero backed Pompey only half-heartedly. Caesar’s soldiers were defeated in 48 BC, and he became the first Roman emperor. He pardoned Cicero but ordered him to keep out of politics.
On the Ides of March in 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by a group of senators. Another power struggle erupted, this time including Mark Antony, Marcus Lepidus, and Octavian.
He delivered the ‘Philippics,’ a series of speeches modeled after those delivered by Greek orator Demosthenes to raise the Athenians against Philip of Macedon, and urge the Senate to support Octavian over Antony.
However, Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian decided to share power, and as part of the pact, each of them was given the right to kill their potential opponents. Cicero attempted to depart Italy late but was apprehended and executed.
Cicero’s ‘On the Orator,’ a lengthy book in the form of a conversation written in 55 BC, places eloquence above law and philosophy. It claims that the ideal orator would have mastered them as well as had eloquence.
Personal History and Legacy
Cicero married Terentia in 79 BC, when he was presumably 27 years old, in a marriage of convenience that lasted 30 years but ended in divorce.
He married Publilia, his young ward, in 46 BC. When Cicero’s daughter, Tullia, died, Cicero divorced her because Publilia, who had been jealous of her, was so indifferent to her death.
On 7 December 43 BC, while attempting to depart Italy, he was assassinated on Mark Antony’s orders.
Estimated Net worth
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“The life granted us by nature is short, but the memory of a well-spent life is forever,” said this Roman orator.