Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cicero, Marcus Tullius (106-43 B.C.), Roman orator, statesman, philosopher, and man of letters. Born in easy circumstances at Arpinum in Latium, he went to school at Rome to learn Greek philosophy and literature, law and rhetoric, thus fitting himself by wide study for forensic pleading and political oratory. After making his debut at the bar as advocate for the defence in a criminal trial, at the age of 26 he went to Athens, coming back at the age of 30 to take his place as leader of the Roman bar. In 76 B.C. he was quaestor in Sicily, and on behalf of the Sicilian populace he impeached Verres, the ex-governor, in 70, and drove him into exile by the mere eloquence of his opening speech. In 66 he was praetor, and made his great speech pro Lege Manilla, to advocate the appointment of Pompey to the command in Asia and the East. In 63 he was consul, and made his celebrated speeches in Catilinam, and foiled the conspiracy of Catiline, in which Ceesar is said to have been implicated. This at first brought him popularity, but the execution of Catiline by an order of the Senate was alleged to be a violation of the constitution, and the tribune Clodius so inflamed the people against him that in 58 he left Rome for safety, and was condemned to exile, and his houses were plundered. The next year he was almost unanimously recalled. He now took an active part in politics, at, first standing aloof from both parties, but eventually giving his support (rather suddenly, and partly for personal reasons) to the combination formed by Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus, his aid being valuable from his influence with the bourgeoisie of the Italian country towns. In 52 he made his speech pro Milone, in defence of Milo, who had killed Clodius; in 51 he was governor of Cilicia, There he did much to restore the local liberties and protect the provincials from oppression. When difficulties arose between Caesar and the Senate, whose champion Pompey was, Cicero decided, after much hesitation, to support the latter, as having, on the whole, constitutional right on his side. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, Pompey retired to Asia, and Cicero followed him, but was soon disgusted by the violence and threats of the Pompeians. The conqueror Caesar received him as a friend, and during Cesar's reign he lived in literary retirement, and wrote his greatest works. Late in life he was divorced from his wife Terentia, for no clearly assignable reason. But the year after Caesar's death he again appeared in the Senate to deliver his Philippics against Antony, and in the same year he was put in the proscription list of the Triumvirate, and was put to death by Antony's soldiers. This was the only part of his later life in which he showed political decision. Though Cicero was a great orator, and many people find pleasure in reacting his speeches, more are charmed by his essays and letters, and his De Amicitia, De Officiis, and De Senectate do not even to a schoolboy seem so dry and repulsive as many classics, and cannot fail to awaken thought, while to very many they are most pleasant companions.