Marcus Tullius Cicero was the eldest son of an equestrian, though not noble, family. He was born 105 B.C. and was beheaded by Antony's soldiers in 43 B.C. The path open for political honors to a "new man" [i.e., no one of whose family had held a magistracy in Rome] was through the law, and at twenty-six, after a thorough Greek and Latin education, Cicero pleaded his first case. The next year he successfully defended Publius Sextus Roscius against the favorite of Sulla, the dictator, and thought it best, during the rest of Sulla's dictatorship, to travel for his education and his health. At thirty-two he was elected quaestor to Sicily, and because of his integrity while holding this magistracy, was soon afterwards chosen by the Sicilians to prosecute their former governor Verres for extortion. Cicero was curule aedile in 69 B.C., praetor urbanus in 66 B.C. In this year he supported Pompey for the eastern command, and the two never quite ceased to be friends. Cicero was consul in 63 B.C., and put down the conspiracy of Catiline.
Sulla's constitution had been gradually changing since his death, and Cicero slowly came to side with the optimates as against the populares and to try to carry the equestrians with him. He might have been a member of the "First Triumvirate" but perhaps preferred the existing institutions to such high-handed measures. In 58 B.C. he was exiled through the efforts of the demagogue Publius Clodius, but was recalled the next year. When civil war broke out between Caesar and Pompey, Cicero tried to side with neither, but at length joined Pompey's army in Epirus. After the defeat of the latter at Pharsalus, Cicero, whom sickness had kept from the battle, returned to Italy and sought pardon of Caesar. When Caesar was assassinated four years later, Cicero saw visions of the old republican government revived once more, and delivered his fierce philippics against Antony; but upon the coalition of Octavius and Antony, was proscribed by Antony and killed by the latter's soldiers.
From: Oliver J. Thatcher, ed., The Library of Original Sources (Milwaukee: University Research Extension Co., 1907), Vol. III: The Roman World, pp. 216-241.
Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg has modernized the text.
Further modified and enhanced by Jon Roland of the Constitution Society.
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