portrait of Cicero
Bust by Bertel Thorvaldsen, ca. 1800, after a Roman original

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Quotes of the Day for 3 January 2003 – Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero was born at Arpinum, in what is now Italy, on this day in 104 BC. His was not one of the families that controlled Rome's Republican government but he had political ambition and went into law as a path to power. He was elected to all of the major Roman offices of the day (quaestor, aedile, praetor, and consul in turn), each on his first run, and each at the youngest eligible age for the office. He overstepped himself and was banished by one of Julius Caesar's cronies in 58 BC, barred from political office on his return, but briefly returned to a position of influence after Julius' murder in 44 BC. Alas, he was himself murdered on Mark Antony's orders in 43 BC. His first love was politics, but he wrote philosophy when he couldn't participate in the political arena. Some have suggested that the US is closing out its Republican period and starting to act like an Empire. Whether or not that is true, Cicero's commentary during the same transition in Rome sounds very appropriate today.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

I remind you, sir, that extreme patriotism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice no virtue.

Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability.

The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt.

There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it.

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.
     - All from Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106 - 43 BC

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