Marcus Tullius Cicero was a famous writer and speaker, as well as a senator in the Roman Republic government.
Historians have uncovered lots of Cicero’s writing, which is where most of our knowledge of the ancient Roman Republic comes from.
Cicero was born in 106 BC in Arpinum, a small town south of Rome, to a wealthy family of the Roman equestrian order.
People in this order – the equites – were important, second only to senators. Cicero’s father had good connections in Rome but was permanently ill so could not leave the house.
Instead, Cicero went to meetings in Rome and travelled in place of his father. This helped him to become a politician.
Cicero was well educated and could read and write in both Latin and Greek.
He moved to Rome to study law and train as a speaker (the official job title was called orator), which was very well thought of in ancient Rome.
He used this training to climb the political ladder, soon becoming famous for winning difficult legal cases in court.
Cicero married Terentia when he was 27 years old and she helped him with his political career.
Once Cicero was liked enough by the senate, he became a public official of Sicily in 75 BC.
The Sicilian people asked him to prosecute a governor of Sicily, Gaius Verres, because he had badly raided the area.
Although Verres hired the best lawyers in all of Rome, Cicero spent ages collecting evidence and talking to witnesses.
He beat Verres in court and from this became known as the best orator in Rome.
After more political positions, Cicero was elected to consul, the highest position possible in government, in 63 BC.
During this year, he stopped his own assassination, prevented a revolution and brought the traitors to justice.
However, some people thought that he bribed witnesses and made up evidence against the traitors.
Cicero had many enemies. When Julius Caesar became consul in 58 BC, Cicero was exiled from Rome for his part in stopping the rebellion and for potentially faking evidence.
He returned after only a year away. When Caesar fought in a civil war to become dictator of Rome, Cicero fled again, only returning when Caesar was killed in 44 BC.
From this point, Cicero took control of the senate and tried to put Rome back to the republic it was before.
Unfortunately, not everyone wanted the Roman Republic to return. Mark Antony tried to become dictator after Caesar and eventually took back control of the city.
Cicero tried to get the senate to name him as a traitor. For this, Antony found Cicero near his home in Formiae and had him killed.
Cicero’s son avenged him 10 years later by labelling Antony a traitor.
Facts about Cicero
- Historians have studied Cicero’s writings to learn about the Roman Republic and Roman society before the Empire formed.
- Cicero had a good education and trained as an orator.
- Terentia was Cicero’s wife and helped him in his political career.
- Cicero was an excellent lawyer and won many public cases which were considered unwinnable.
- Cicero became consul in 63 BC, the same year he was nearly murdered.
- Julius Caesar exiled Cicero because he was a threat to Caesar’s rule.
- After Caesar’s murder, Cicero tried to restore the Roman Republic again.
- Cicero was assassinated by Mark Antony when he became dictator.
- What was Cicero’s childhood like
Cicero was a very well educated child, raised in Arpinum to a wealthy family.
- Why was Cicero known as a great speaker?
He won a very difficult legal case for the Sicilian people against the governor, by making good speeches.
- What did Cicero do as consul?
He created a better home army, stopped his own assassination and stopped a rebellion.
- Why did Mark Antony dislike Cicero?
Cicero named Antony a traitor when he tried to become dictator.
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