Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106 - 43 BCE

portrait of Cicero
Bust by Bertel Thorvaldsen, ca. 1800, after a Roman original
1205

Born: 3 January 106 BC, Arpinum, Rome
Died: 7 December 43 BC, Formia, Rome

Cicero's family was not one of those 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. Cicero was elected Consul for 63 BC, during which he thwarted an attempt to assassinate him and overthrow the Republic. At the conclusion of this, with the consent of the Senate but without a formal trial, he had the four conspirators strangled. Three years later he was asked to join the triumvirate ruling the empire but declined. It was then declared that anyone executing a Roman citizen without trial would be exiled and though Cicero argued against the rule he left for Thessalonica, Greece in 58 BC, he was recalled by the Senate a year and a half later. In 50 BC he sided with Pompey against Julius Caesar, but not too openly, and was not involved in the assassination on the Ides of March in the year 44 BC. Cicero and Mark Antony were the two leaders of Rome at that point, Cicero as spokesman for the Senate and Antony as leader of the Caesarean faction. Cicero's attempt to drive Antony out of power failed and though he was willingly concealed by the public, two assassins found him the next year. His first love was politics, but he wrote books on rhetoric and philosophy when he couldn't participate in the political arena, and a large number of his speeches were recorded, of which 58 survive.

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