Cicero, Marcus Tullius (106BC-43BC)

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Marcus Tullius Cicero was a statesman and lawyer known for his involvement in Roman politics toward the end of the Republic. He is also remembered as a scholar and writer whose mastery of Latin influenced subsequent generations. He was born in 106 B.C. in Arpinium and was executed in 43 B.C. for his defense of the Republic. In 63 B.C., as one of the consuls of Rome, Cicero opposed the efforts of Catiline to overthrow the government and personally oversaw the conspirators' execution. This cost him considerable political popularity, however, and he spent the years afterward either in minor posts or removed from politics. It was during two of these periods of removal from politics (55-51 and 47-44 B.C.) that most of his surviving works were composed. Cicero spent the latter part of his life fighting the rise of dictatorship. He rebuffed as unconstitutional Caesar's invitation to join with a political alliance of Crassus and Pompey (the First Triumvirate, 60 B.C.), and he opposed Caesar and later Mark Antony when both men tried to consolidate their political power. Cicero enjoyed renewed political life following Caesar's murder and attempted to use Octavian to counter the power of Antony, but he greatly overestimated Octavian. He was executed by Octavian's forces near Caieta on December 7, 43 B.C.

His importance as a defender of the Republic aside, it is Cicero's skill as a rhetorician and poet that accounts for his lasting influence on philosophy and literature. The Ciceronian style influenced Latin and later vulgate languages more than any other single source. His mastery of the language allowed his technical perfection of the hexameter and helped make the later achievements of Virgil possible.

By his own admission Cicero was an unoriginal philosopher, but his skill as a communicator brought several generations of Greek philosophy to Rome and later civilizations. His views on the importance of philosophy have been of enduring importance, and his exhortation to study philosophy is said to have profoundly influenced Saint Augustine's conversion. Despite his failure to preserve the Republic, Cicero's legacy as a defender of liberty was inspirational to later generations.


Works by the Author

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. Offices, Essays, and Letters. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., Bibliography1920.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. De Republica - De Legibus. Translated by Clinton Walter Keyes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. The Speeches: In Catilinam, I-IV, Pro Murena, Pro Sulla, Pro Flacco. Translated by Louis E. Lord. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. M. Tuilli Ciceronis de Natura Deorum. 2 vols. Translated by Arthur Stanley Pease. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. The Speeches: Pro Lege Manilia, Pro Caecina, Pro Cluentio, Pro Rabiro, Perduellionis. Translated by H. Grose Hodge. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. De Natura Deorum & Academica. Translated by H. Rackham. Harvard University Press, 1951.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. The Speeches: Pro T. Annio Milone, In L. Calpurnium Pisonem, Pro M. Aemilio Scauro, Pro M. Fonteio, Pro C. Rabirio Postumo, Pro M. Marcello, Pro Q. Ligario, Pro Rege Deiotaro. Translated by N. H. Watts. Harvard University Press, 1953.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. Tully's Offices. Translated by Robert L'Estrange. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1900.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. Philippics. Translated by Walter C.A. Ker. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. De Finibus. Translated by H. Rackham. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1914.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. De Officiis. Translated by Walter Miller. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1913.

Works about the Author

Annas, J., "Cicero on Stoic Moral Philosophy and Private Property," in Philosophia Togata, ed. M. Griffin and J. Barnes (Oxford, 1989).

Dorey, T.A. ed., Cicero (London, 1965).

Dyck, Andrew R., A Commentary on Cicero, De Officiius (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996).

Griffin M.T., and E.M. Atkins, Editors' Introduction to Cicero, On Duties, ed. M.T. Griffin and E.M. Atkins (Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. ix-li.

Long, A.A., "Cicero's Politics in De Officiius," in Justice and Generosity, ed. A. Laks and M.Schofield (Cambridge, 1995).

Mitchell, T., Cicero: The Ascending Years and Cicero: The Senior Statesman (New Haven, 1979, 1991).

Powell, J.G.F. ed., Cicero the Philosopher (Oxford, 1995).

Schofield, M., The Stoic Idea of the City (Cambridge, 1991).

Shackleton Bailey, D.R., Cicero (London, 1971).

Stockton, D.L., Cicero, A Political Biography (Oxford, 1971).

Zetzel, James E.G., Editor's Introduction to Cicero, On the Commonwealth and On the Laws, ed. James E.G. Zetzel (Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. vii-xlviii.


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