Roman. Cast of the original in the Uffizi. Copy of an original, marble, ca. 50 BCE.
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BCE –43 BCE) was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order and is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists.
An impressive orator and successful lawyer, Cicero considered his political career to be his most important achievement. Today, he is appreciated primarily for his humanism and philosophical and political writings. His voluminous correspondence, much of it addressed to his friend Atticus, has been especially influential, introducing the art of refined letter writing to European culture. Cicero’s speeches and letters remain some of the most important primary sources that survive from the last days of the Roman Republic.
During the chaotic latter half of the 1st century BCE, marked by civil wars and the dictatorship of Gaius Julius Caesar, Cicero championed a return to the traditional republican government. However, his career as a statesman was marked by inconsistencies and a tendency to alter his position in response to shifts in the political climate. He was prone to overreaction in the face of political and private change, and became an enemy of Mark Antony when he attacked the general in a series of speeches. Cicero was pronounced an enemy of the state by the Second Triumvirate and was subsequently murdered in 43 BCE.
- ancient rome