January 3, 106 BC – Birth of the Roman Lawyer Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero was a lawyer, orator, prolific and popular writer, and statesman of Ancient Rome. Scholars still have access to some 900 letters Cicero wrote (most of which were to his friend Atticus); many of his speeches (revised and edited by Cicero himself); and Cicero’s books on philosophy and oratory.

cicero1

Cicero wrote about the political events of his day: the rise of Julius Caesar, his assassination, and subsequent maneuvering to power of Mark Anthony and Octavian (later known as Augustus). He also set out to write a definitive work covering “the whole field in detail” of every philosophical system.

Cicero was a life-long devotee to Republican government (and thus an opponent of Caesar). Ordinarily, opposing Caesar was not conducive to longevity. Cicero nevertheless lived to tell his tale for several reasons: Caesar was reknown for his occasional leniency, Caesar enjoyed Cicero’s wit, and Cicero himself was a successful manipulator of people in general and alliances in particular.

Cicero longed for power, but always played a secondary role in Roman politics. He lacked the charisma of Caesar, as well as his deep understanding of politics. Nevertheless, he rarely passed by an opportunity to tout his own insight, influence, and value. Eventually Cicero was put to death after Octavian put Cicero’s name on a proscription. (A “proscription” was a posting of people wanted dead by the leadership. All property was then confiscated and turned over to the state after the killer was rewarded.)

You can find out more about Cicero in the excellent book Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician by Anthony Everitt.

9780375758959_p0_v1_s260x420

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: