Cicero was and still is one of the greatest writers and politicians of all-time. He studied law, oratory, literature, and philosophy under Scaevola to enrich Rome with fine writings and political excellence.
His birth name was Marcus Tullius. Born in 106 B.C., Cicero was anything but popular. His hometown of Arpinum was not exactly among the top cities of Rome. Cicero unlike most great writers and politicians of his time, had to work hard and use the wealth and power of others to find his place in Roman aristocracy. Cicero finally reached the pentacle of his political career when he concurred Catiline in a battle for the position of consul.
After Cicero had won the position of consul in 64 B.C. Catiline organized a plot to overthrow the government. When Cicero found out he suppressed the conspiracy and had many of his cohorts executed. Although this was one of his greatest accomplishments, he was exiled in 58 B.C.
After a year of concentrating on his writing, Cicero was called back to Rome by Pompey the Great. In 51 B.C. he was assigned to the position of proconsul of the providence of Cilicia. In 50 B.C. Cicero returned to Rome to help Pompey with his fight against Caesar, but after Pompey’s defeat Cicero became a supporter of Caesar. After Caesar’s assassination Cicero went back into politics and became a supporter of Octavian. On December 7, 43 B.C., Cicero was executed by Marc Antony as an enemy of the state.
While alive Cicero greatly enriched the vocabulary of his own language. Cicero covered more intellectual subjects in his writings than most writers of his time. Many of his philosophical works were borrowed from Greek sources are very valuable and would have been left undiscovered without Cicero’s documentation of them.
Most of his rhetorical works, written in dialogue form, are rich sources of history. The most famous of these orations are the four against Catiline and the fourteen so-called Philippics against Antony.
Among the minor works of Cicero, the essays On Old Age and On Friendship have and always will be admired for their urbane, and cultivated style. The four collections of letters to his friends are among his most precious works. These letters are a spontaneous self-revelation of Cicero and an excellent source of information not the politics of ancient Rome.
Cicero’s position as a lawyer helped to gain even more fame, particularly during two well-known lawsuits of his time. The first involved the governor of Sicily, Gaius Verres, who had been accused of murder and theft. Representing the state, Cicero forced Verres into exile after witness testimony and a strong speech accused Verres of his crimes.
A second case involved a man accused of killing his father in which Cicero revealed in court that others had murdered the accused’s father in an attempt to frame the young man and steal the family fortune.
Cicero created rich prose and style in both his writings and politics. The clarity in which he ruled his writing and political careers is only one reason that Cicero was and still is one of the greatest writers and politicians of all-time, and this was his effect on Rome and the rest of the world.
-Cicero. Microsoft Encarta CD-ROM. New York, NY
-Cicero, Marcus Tullius. The Complete 1998 Edition Compton’s
Reference Collection CD-ROM. New York: TLC Properties, Inc. 1997