Cicero is considered one of the greatest orators, politicians and philosophers in all of the history of the world. He was born in 106 B.C. and is known for his famous speeches which helped to shape the era of the late Roman Republic and the emerging empire. He appears on the Bible Timeline Chart with World History from 106 to 43 BC.
The Early Life of Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero was also a consul and lawyer. He was born to a wealthy family in Arpinum which was located outside of the southeast part of Rome. He father was a chickpea producer and this trade is what amassed the Cicero’s fortunes. His father also liked to study a lot since he was not able to participate in Roman politics because of his heritage.
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Cicero emulated his father’s love of learning and it helped him to become an outstanding student. He translated Greek philosophies into Latin for the Romans at an early age. He was such a good pupil that the aristocratic society all over Rome began to hear about him. He had a brief military experience during the Social War in 90 B.C. but he did not care for being a soldier. By 83 B.C., he began his career as a lawyer which was an important event in the early part of his life.
His First Public Appearance as an Orator and Politician
His first case was to defend a man who committed patricide against his father. When he took this case it put him into the position to be killed by Lucius Sulla who was dictator of Rome at the time. Sextus Roscius was accused of the crime, but Cicero accused Chrysogonus a military man who was a favorite of Sulla. Cicero managed to get Sextus Roscius acquitted, but he did so by challenging Sulla’s power. After winning the case, he immediately left to tour Greece, Asia Minor, and Rhodes to avoid Sulla.
While he was in Greece he developed his oratory style and skills and he started to gain fame for his work. He eventually returned to Rome around 75 B.C. but he chose to settle in Sicily instead of Rome. He became a public official who took on cases in the area. Eventually, his reputation began to grow as a great speaker and attorney. His skills as an orator became legendary during this period in his life. His skills as an orator assisted him greatly through various parts of the Roman government until finally he became consul around 63 B.C.
Cicero becomes Consul
Once he became consul he had to put down a conspiracy formed by Lucius Sergius Catilina who wanted to assassinate him and to destroy the Republic. He forced this senator, his family and his followers from Rome with four great speeches. He eventually had Catilina and his followers condemned without a trial. He lived in fear of being sent into exile or tried for this act against Roman citizens.
His fears eventually came to pass and he was exiled in 58 B.C. He had traveled to Greece during this dark time of his life. Julius Caesar and Pompey were two leading officials in Rome around 50 B.C. and Cicero knew both of them. Each of these men was pushing Rome into a civil war because Caesar wanted an empire, but Pompey desired to continue the Republic. Cicero sided with Pompey, but he had many political encounters with Caesar. He turned down a previous offer by Caesar to become a part of a triumvirate (alliance) since he thought it would undermine the Republic. After his exile, he unsuccessfully attacked some policies of Caesar and had to retreat out of the public eye when he realized that he had failed in this area.
Eventually, Caesar invaded Italy and tried to court Cicero to his side but Cicero had already fled Rome to Illyria where Pompey and his group were based. He went back to Rome and was pardoned by Caesar who was assassinated sometime after his return. Once Caesar was killed, Cicero became a popular political figure but Mark Antony became the next emperor. He did not agree with Mark Antony’s policies and was eventually sentenced to death by him. His past works were rediscovered and influenced the Renaissance and he had influenced Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke, Montesquieu and David Hume. He also lived during the last days of the Roman Republic.
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