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Marcus Tullius Cicero

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Marcus Tullius Cicero (Latin: Marcus Tullius Cicero) was a Roman politician of the late Republican period, orator, philosopher, and scholar. Thanks to his oratorical talent and outstanding intelligence, he managed to make a brilliant political career, despite the fact that he came from an insignificant family. He became a member of the Senate in 73 BC, and in 63 AD managed to become consul. Played a key role in uncovering and defeating the Catiline conspiracy. During the civil wars, he remained one of the most prominent and most consistent supporters of the preservation of the republican system. After the second triumvirate came to power , he was executed.

Cicero left a substantial literary and historical legacy, much of which has survived to this day. His works have already gained a reputation as a standard in terms of style in the ancient era, and now they are one of the most important sources of information about all spheres of Roman life in the 1st century BC.e. Cicero's philosophical treatises represent a unique presentation of the entire ancient Greek philosophy in Latin, which radically influenced the history of ancient Roman culture.

Birth: January 3, 106 BC, Arpinum, Roman Republic Death: December 7, 43 BC, Formia, Roman Republic

Bust of Cicero from the Capitoline Museums in Rome

Family and early years

Marcus Tullius was born on his grandfather's estate, located next to the river Fibren, in the immediate vicinity of Arpine. According to Plutarch, the birth was easy, after which the boy was handed over to a wet nurse, who claimed that Cicero would be "a boon for the Romans." Later, Qiqirong moved to the nearest city, where he received his primary education. Critics of the time considered Cicero unworthy and constantly referred to his " birth in the country."

Relatives of Marcus Tullius were among the most respected people. For example, my aunt's husband Gaius Aculeon was in close contact with the orator Lucius Licinius Crassus. Cicero was inspired by his uncle, considering him a man of exceptional intelligence. Akuleon knew civil law, something he might learn from Cicero.

Marcus Tullius Cicero was the eldest son in his family, respectively, his father, who was a Roman horseman, was also called Marcus Tullius Cicero, and his mother was called Helvia. He had a sibling, Quintus, with whom Cicero maintained a close relationship throughout his life. He also had a warm relationship with his cousin Lucius Tullius Cicero, who accompanied him on his journey to the East in 79 BC.

The Tullian family was descended from the aristocracy of Arpinus, a small town in the Volscian lands of southern Latium. From the same lands was born and Gaius Marius, who was related to the Tullians. Cicero's grandfather was married to Gratidia, and her brother married Gaius ' sister Marius. Thus, Gaius ' nephew Marcus Marius Gratidianus was Cicero's great-uncle, and Lucius Sergius Catilina was married to Cicero's great-aunt Gratidia.

Plutarch claims that this generic nickname Cicero came from the word "chickpeas". Friends of Cicero at the beginning of his career advised him to change this name to a more euphonious one. However, Marcus Tullius rejected this idea, saying that he would make his cognomen sound louder than the names "Scaurus and Catulus".

At the age of 15 (91 BC), Cicero's father, who dreamed of a political career for his sons, moved with his family to Rome to give them a good education.

In his youth, Marcus, wishing to become a judicial orator, studied the works of Greek poets, learned eloquence from the famous orators Mark Antony and Lucius Licinius Crassus, took lessons from the actors Clodius Aesop and Quintus Roscius Gallus, and also listened to Publius Sulpicius speak at the forum. For an oratorical and political career, it was necessary to have an excellent knowledge of Roman law, so Cicero studied it with one of the best lawyers of that time - Quintus Mucius Scaevola Pontifex. It is known that Cicero had an excellent command of the Greek language, thanks to which he was well acquainted with Greek philosophy. This was also due to his close relationship with the Epicurean Phaedrus of Athens, the Stoic Diodorus Cronus, and the head of the New Academic school Philo, with whom he also studied dialectics.

Cicero was married twice. The first time was on Terentia (circa 76 BC), who belonged to a relatively noble family. By her, Marcus had two children-Tullia, who died during the lifetime of her parents (in 45 BC), and Marcus, who became consul in 30 BC. The first marriage ended in divorce in 46 BC. After that, Cicero married a second time — to the young Publia, who was jealous of his own stepdaughter and openly rejoiced at Tullia's death, resulting in a new divorce.

During the outbreak of the Allied War, Cicero served in the army Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Amid the enmity between the Marian and Sullanian parties, Cicero temporarily retreated into the shadows, not wanting to become a victim of this conflict, studying philosophy, rhetoric and law. This continued until the final victory of the Sullanians in 82 BC.e. At the same time, Cicero himself claimed after their victory that he was always on the side of Sulla.

Beginning of public speaking career

The first surviving speech of Cicero is "In defense of Quinctius" of 81 BC. e. Its purpose was to return illegally seized property, the success of which brought him the first rays of fame.

The second, even greater success, is considered to be the speech of the speaker "In defense of Roscius", in which he was forced to talk about the state of affairs in a state where, according to him,"they forgot not only to forgive offenses, but also to investigate crimes." This was not an easy case for a native of the province of Roscia, who was unjustly accused by his relatives of murdering his own father. Cicero personally visited Ameria and investigated the circumstances of the crime on the spot, after which he asked the court for 108 days to prepare the trial. Cicero's prepared speech was structured according to all the rules of oratory — with complaints about the youth and inexperience of the defense lawyer, admonitions of the judges, direct speeches on behalf of the accused, as well as refutations of the prosecution's arguments. To refute the position of the accuser Gaius Erucius, who tried to prove that Roscius was a parricide, Cicero used the Greek art of etopea, which was based on the characterization of the accused, who could not commit such crimes:

"What kind of person is he? A spoiled brat trained by scoundrels? He's over forty years old. Then, of course, he was driven to this crime by extravagance, huge debts and indomitable passions. On the charge of extravagance, he was acquitted by Erucius, who said that he had scarcely been to a single party. He never had any debts. As for passions, what kind of passions can a person have who, as the prosecutor himself stated, has always lived in the country, engaged in agriculture? After all, such a life is very far from passions and teaches a sense of duty."

The trial was won, and Cicero became even more popular with the people due to his opposition to the local aristocracy. Nevertheless, fearing Sulla's vengeance, Cicero went to Athens and Rhodes for two years, under the pretext that he needed to study philosophy and elocution more deeply. There he again studied under Molon, who later had a strong influence on the style of Cicero — from this time the orator began to adhere to the" middle " style of eloquence, combining a number of elements of the Asian and moderate Attic styles.

After Sulla's death in 78 BC, Cicero returns to Rome. Here he married Terentia, whose marriage brought him a dowry of 120,000 drachmas, after which he continued his judicial oratorical practice.

Beginning of a political career

In 75 BC, Cicero is elected Quaestor and assigned to Sicily. He directly supervised the export of grain there during the period of bread shortage in Rome. With his fair and honest leadership, he has earned a good reputation among Sicilians. At the same time, according to Plutarch in Rome, his success was not noticed, and in the intervening time he only lost his popularity. Nevertheless, the title of Quaestor meant for Cicero to enter the senatorial class. The first mention of Marcus Tullius as a senator dates back to October 14, 73 BC. In the following years, Cicero's career developed rapidly - he took part in a number of high-profile trials, achieved recognition in the Senate, and in 70 BC took the post of aedile.

In August 70 BC, Cicero delivered a series of speeches against the propraetor of Sicily, a former supporter of Sulla, Gaius Verres, who during his three years as governor (73-71 BC) sacked the province and executed many of its inhabitants. The difficulty of the case was that Gaius Verres had the support of many influential nobles, including the two consuls of the following year (Hortensius, a famous orator who agreed to defend the trial, and Quintus Caecilius Metellus of Crete). In addition, the president of the court, Praetor Designatus Marcus Caecilius Metellus, supported Cicero's opponent.

"Gaius Verres has often said ...that he has a powerful man behind him, by relying on whom he can plunder the province, and that he does not raise money for himself alone; that he has distributed the revenues of his three-year praetorship in Sicily in the following way: he will be very pleased if the revenues of the first year can be turned to his advantage; the revenues of the second year

Cicero managed to win this case against corruption at all levels of government. The speeches of Marcus Tullius, written for this trial, were of great political significance, since in fact Cicero opposed the Senate oligarchy and won a crushing victory over it. The speaker's arguments in favor of Verres ' guilt were so indisputable that the famous Hortensius refused to defend the defendant. Verres was forced to pay a heavy fine of 40 million sesterces and will go into exile.

After this, Cicero was elected praetor for 66 BC. At the same time, he continued to practice law, and also delivered a speech "On the appointment of Gnaeus Pompey as a general", in which he supported the bill of Gaius Manilius on granting Gnaeus Pompey the Great unlimited powers in the fight against the Pontic king Mithridates VI Eupator.

Cicero in the first and second triumvirates

In 60 BC, Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus formed the first triumvirate to seize power. Recognizing Cicero's talents and popularity, they made several attempts to win him over. Cicero rejected their proposals, wanting to remain loyal to the Senate and the ideals of the Republic. This decision left him vulnerable to opponents, including the tribune of the people, Clodius, who had a score to settle with Cicero since the orator testified against him at the trial.

Clodius sought the passage of a law that would banish an official who executed a Roman citizen without trial. This law was directed primarily against Cicero. Marcus Tullius himself turned for support to Pompey, but didn't get it. At the same time, he himself writes that he refused the help of Caesar, who offered his friendship, and then an embassy to Alexandria and later the post of legate in his army in Gaul. The formal reason for the refusal was unwillingness to run away from danger. According to Plutarch, Cicero himself asked Caesar for the position of legate, received it, and then refused it because of the pretended friendliness of Clodius.

Sources note Cicero's cowardly behavior after the law was passed. He humiliatingly asked for the help of the acting consul Piso and the triumvir Pompey, the latter of whom he even threw himself at the feet, but in both cases was categorically refused. Dressed in poor and dirty clothes, Cicero harassed random passersby on the streets of Rome, even those who did not know him at all. Eventually, in April 58 BC, Cicero was forced to go into exile and leave Italy. After that, his property was confiscated and his houses were burned.

In September 57 BC, Gnaeus Pompey took a hard line against Clodius: he drove the tribune out of the forum and secured Cicero's return from exile with the help of Titus Annius Milo Papian. The house and estates of Marcus Tullius were rebuilt at the expense of the treasury. As a result, Cicero found himself in a difficult position: he was personally obliged to return to Pompey, and the power of the Senate was significantly weakened against the background of open fights between the supporters of Milo and Clodius, as well as the strengthening of the triumvirs ' positions. Cicero had to accept the de facto patronage of the first triumvirate and make speeches in support of them, while lamenting the state of the Republic.

Gradually, Cicero moved away from active political life and engaged exclusively in legal and literary activities. In 55 BC, he wrote the dialogue "On the Orator", and the following year he began work on the essay "On the state".

Maccari Cesare's painting "Cicero Denounces Catiline"

The assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC came as a complete surprise to Cicero. He was extremely pleased and encouraged by this decision: he decided that with the death of the dictator, the republic could be restored. But his hopes of restoring power to the Senate were not fulfilled. Brutus and Cassius had to leave Italy, and the Caesarian's position in Rome was greatly strengthened Mark Antony, who hated Cicero. Most of it was due to the fact that the latter, eighteen years earlier, had obtained the extrajudicial execution of his stepfather, Lentulus, a supporter ofCatilina.

For some time Cicero was planning to leave for Greece. However, after learning that Antony has expressed his willingness to cooperate with the Senate, he decides to return to Rome. But the very next day after his return (September 1, 44), an open conflict occurred. On September 2, Cicero delivered a speech directed against Antony and called by the author "philippica" (by analogy with the speeches of Demosthenes against the strengthening of Philip of Macedon). In response, Antony claimed that Marcus Tullius was involved in the murder of Caesar, in the massacre of Catiline's supporters, in the murder of Clodius, and in provoking discord between Caesar and Pompey. After these events, Cicero, fearing for his life, retreats to his home in Campania, writing the second philippica, treatises On Duties and On Friendship.

The second philippic was published at the end of November. Antony left for Cisalpine Gaul, which was assigned to him as a province. At the same time, Cicero became the de facto head of the republic. He formed an alliance against Antony with Decimus Junius Brutus, who refused to hand over Gaul to him, with both consuls (formerly Caesarians) and with Caesar's heir Octavian. Already on December 20, Cicero delivered the third and fourth philippics, where he compared Antony with Catilina and Spartak.

Cicero was confident of his victory, since he could not foresee an alliance Octavian with the already defeated Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, as well as the formation of the second triumvirate (in the autumn of 43 BC). The triumviric forces occupied Rome, and Antony secured the inclusion of Cicero's name in the proscription lists of "enemies of the people", which the triumvirs published immediately after the formation of the union.

Fulvia with the head of Cicero, painting by P. Svedomsky

Cicero tried to escape to Greece, but his assassins caught up with him on December 7, 43 BC, near his villa in Formia. As soon as Cicero noticed the assassins chasing after him, he ordered the bearers of his slaves to put the palanquin on the ground. Then, sticking his head out from behind the curtain, he put his neck under the centurion's sword . Cicero's severed head and hands were delivered to Antony and then placed on the forum's oratorical podium. According to legend, Antony's wife Fulvia stuck pins in the tongue of Cicero's death's head, after which, as Plutarch tells us, " the head and hands were ordered to be displayed on the oratorical platform, above the ship's prows — to the horror of the Romans, who thought they saw not the face of Cicero, but the image of Antony's soul...".

Related topics

The first Triumvirate, The Second Triumvirate, Roman Republic, The state system of republican Rome, Mark Antony, Marcus Licinius Crassus, The Catilina Conspiracy, Mithridates of Evpator


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