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Cicero: The Eloquent Patriot of Rome

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The deed had been done. The “Dictator,” as Julius Caesar had come to be called, lay dead at the feet of a disgruntled Senate. The main instigator of the assassination, Brutus, raised his dagger and saluted the fleeing Cicero on the “recovery of freedom.”[1] This so called freedom had been Cicero’s life mission. He made many contributions to the Roman society, many of which have been passed down to modern society. These contributions span the areas of law, oration, politics, and philosophy.

Marcus Tullius Cicero was born in Arpinium, a hill town about seventy miles south of Rome, in the year 106 BC.[2] Cicero fell in love with all things Greek at an early age, and this tendency is evidenced throughout the rest of his life. He was seen as a gifted student in his early years and studied under the tutelage of a learned Roman named Scaevola. He spent most of his time learning from Scaevola at the house of Crassus, and in Crassus’s house Cicero met a young Julius Caesar. Cicero also befriended a boy named Titus Pomponius while studying at the house of Crassus. It is from the letters between Cicero and Titus, who later called himself Atticus, that we gain a personal insight into Cicero’s mind.[3] Atticus published the letters from Cicero after Cicero’s death, and many of these still remain. Cicero lived his teen and early adult years under the regime of Sulla and its proscriptions. This environment largely affected Cicero’s views of government and politics. Plutarch says of this period, “But perceiving the commonwealth running into factions, and from faction all things tending to an absolute monarchy, he betook himself to a retired and contemplative life, and conversing with the learned Greeks, devoted himself to study.”[4]During this time he diligently studied the Greek orators, and from this study he became known as the greatest orator that Rome ever saw. Once the proscriptions ended, Cicero began his public career. He began by taking briefs at the law court in the Forum.

Cicero made his name known by his performance in the Forum’s court. His first famous case was his defense of Sextus Roscius. He openly opposed a favored friend of Sulla, and this is what gained him fame. It is also why Cicero left on a tour of Greece and Asia Minor soon after. His most famous law case was his accusation of Catilina, who attempted to take over the Roman state by force. Cicero had five Roman citizens executed without trial, but he was so popular that very few opposed his actions. A very far-reaching trial saw Cicero testify against a man named Clodius. During his time at law, Cicero held most of the major offices of the Roman Republic. He became Quaestor of Sicily in 75, Aedile in 69, Praetor in 66, and Consul in 63. He used his popularity gained as a successful lawyer to springboard his political career.

Cicero vowed to maintain a stable Republic, for he had seen what anarchy was like. “He stood for the rule of law and the maintenance of a constitution in which all social groups could play a part.”[5] Cicero’s main goal during his consulship was

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