Marcus Tullius Cicero was born in Arpinum, near Rome in 106 BC. Cicero was the elder son of a wealthy landowner. In about 95 BC the Ciceros bought a house in Rome so that Marcus and his younger brother, Quintus, should have the best education possible. Cicero studied rhetoric under the two most famous orators of the day, Lucius Licinius Crassus and Marcus Antonius. (1)
In 88 BC Cicero served under Lucius Cornelius Sulla during the Social War. The following year Gaius Marius occupied Rome and murdered his opponents. Cicero continued his studies in the city until Sulla recaptured the city in 82 BC and was appointed as dictator to revise the constitution. A series of reforms was introduced, which aimed to improve administrative efficiency and to guarantee the power of the senatorial establishment. This included suppressing the powers of the tribunes. (2)
According to Allan Massie: "He (Sulla) did no more than refurbish the Senate, claiming that this gave it renewed legitimacy, before retiring into private life to die, reputedly of the effects of debauchery, the following year (78 BC). He had solved nothing; his measures were no more than a palliative. Yet Sulla's actions had one long-term effect: he had shown how power might be concentrated in a single person." (3)
At the age of 26 Cicero undertook his first criminal case. This was the defence of a man, Sextus Roscius, who had been charged with the murder of his father. The trial became sensational when Cicero exposed the unscrupulous profiteering of Chrysogonus, who was behind the prosecution. This was an act of bravery as Chrysogonus was an agent of Sulla. He won the case and became famous for his oratorical skills and soon was considered to have one of the best legal minds in Rome. (4)
After his attacks on members of the ruling elite he decided it would be politically expedient to live abroad. In 79 BC he moved to Athens where he met and lived with Titus Pomponius Atticus. The two men studied Greek moral philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Epicurus and Aristotle. He particularly liked Socrates who "was the first to call philosophy down from the heavens and set her in the cities of men.... and compel her to ask questions about life and morality and things good and evil." (5) According to Anthony Trollope, the author of The Life of Cicero (1880) has claimed that Cicero studied all the philosophical theories "but in truth drawing no system of morals or rule of life from any of them." (6)
During this period Cicero became interested in psychology as well as political philosophy. He later wrote: "Diseases of the mind are more common and more pernicious than diseases of the body…. Philosophy is certainly the medicine of the soul. Its aid is to be sought not from without, as in diseases of the body; and we must labour with all our resources and with all our strength to cure ourselves." (7)
Cicero enthusiastically accepted the belief that "high moral standards, the determination to live up to them, and the emotional self-restraint needed to do so were the most important things in the world - probably the only important things: this being the imperative command of the Law of Nature, identical with divine Providence - which is universally applicable to human relations, because a spark of this divinity is universally distributed among mankind." (8)
In about 80 BC Cicero married Terentia, who was around 18 years old at the time. She came from a very wealthy plebeian family and had a huge dowry, which included at least two blocks of tenement apartments in Rome and extensive land holdings. Her total dowry was 400,000 sesterces, which was the exact amount needed for a man to run for public office. The following year Terentia gave birth to a daughter, Tullia, "who, as she grew up, became the one person whom he loved best in all the world". (9) A son Marcus Cicero was born 12 years later. (10)
Cicero returned to Rome and in 76 BC he was elected as one of the 20 annual quaestors (magistrates) and served his term of office in Sicily. Although it was one of the most junior offices in the Roman Empire, it brought life membership of the senate, and Cicero was the first member of his family to attain this distinction. Cicero was therefore known as a novus homo (new man), the first man of a family to reach the senate. (11)
There were two main classes in Rome. The patricians were descended from the 100 fathers chosen by Romulus to form the original senate and were the main office holders. Non-patricians were called plebeians. In 70 BC Cicero was elected as a plebeian aedile. In Rome there were aediles, two curule and two plebeian. They were responsible for city administration, the corn supply and putting on public games. (12)
In this post Cicero put on three sets of games. This was done to keep the plebeians happy but Cicero disliked these events. "The wild-beast hunts, two a day for five days were magnificent... But what pleasure can it possibly be to a man of culture, when either a puny human being is mangled by a most powerful beast, or a splendid beast is killed with a hunting spear? The last day was that of the elephants, and on that day the mob and crowd was greatly impressed, but expressed no pleasure. Indeed the result was a certain compassion and a kind of feeling that this huge beast has a fellowship with the human race." (13)
In 70 BC Cicero decided to bring a charge of extortion against Gaius Verres, the former governor of Sicily. He had several reasons for accepting this difficult case. He genuinely hated dishonest administration. Cicero was also sympathetic to the knights (equites) among whom he had originated, the non-senatorial class whom Sulla's reforms had excluded from membership of the court and from other positions of power. It was also a great opportunity to defeat and supersede the most distinguished orator of the day, Quintus Hortensius, who was defending Verres. (14)
In his opening speech Cicero produced detailed evidence of Verres' corruption: "Gentlemen, I see that you are all perfectly aware that Gaius Verres, quite openly, has robbed Sicily of everything it possesses, sacred and secular, in public and private ownership alike. It is well known to you that there is no kind of theft and plunder that he has refrained from undertaking, with unmitigated unscrupulousness, and, what is more, without the slightest concealment." (15)
However, he feared that the jury would judge him not on his corruption but on his fine military record: "The argument I shall have to resist is this. It is the declaration of Verres's exceptional courage and watchfulness, during these times of anxiety and peril, qualities which, it is said, have saved and rescued the province of Sicily from runaway slaves and the dangers of war. I have to consider, then, gentlemen, what line to take, and in which direction to frame my accusation, and which way, in fact, to turn. Verres's role as a great commander is raised like a rampart to block all my assaults. I know this type of argument very well. I see the things he will boast about. He will enlarge on the threat of fighting, on the crisis into which our country is plunged, on the shortage of generals. Then he will beg of you, or rather he will insist - as a right to which he is fully entitled - that you should not allow Rome to be deprived of such a fine general, on the strength of what Sicilian witnesses have said; and that you should not tolerate the cancellation of a general's brilliant record just because he has been accused of being grasping." (16)
Cicero also admitted that Verres had given some of the money he had corruptly obtained to the poor. However, it was morally wrong to be generous if it was the outcome of bribery and corruption. By acting as you did, Verres, you have lowered the stature of your country. You have weakened the strength of the Roman state. You have diminished the resources that the valour and wisdom of our ancestors handed down to us. Our imperial authority, the status of our allies, the reputation of the treaties that we made with them - you have demolished them all." (17)
Cicero's opening speech dwelt upon the political aspect of the case. He argued that if someone as obviously guilty as Verres were let off, the people would judge the exclusively senatorial juries (prescribed by a law of Sulla's) to be unfit to try cases. Once this speech had been given and the evidence presented, Verres went into exile, assuming he would be found guilty. With this success Cicero took Hortensius' place as Rome's leading advocate. He went into temporary retirement and when he did return it was as Cicero's partner, not his opponent." (18)
In 67 BC Cicero was elected praetor, by all the centuries (voting units in the centuriate assembly), and at the earliest age permitted by law (he was by now 39). There were eight praetors each year and they presided over the permanent criminal courts. In 66 BC he made a speech where he proposed Pompey replace Lucullus, as commander of the Roman forces, who had recently suffered a serious reverse in the Third Mithridatic War. (19)
Cicero's proposal was accepted and he eventually defeated King Mithridates VI of Pontus and Armenia Minor, Rome's most dangerous enemy, he extended Rome's frontiers to the Euphrates and the bounds of the Parthian Empire. He then thoroughly reorganized government in the East, almost doubling Rome's revenue from that part of the world and bringing Asia Minor peace, security and the prospect of prosperity. (20)
Cicero was a candidate for the consulship for the year 63 BC. Once again it was at the earliest age permitted by law. One of his rivals was Lucius Sergius Catiline who promised that if he was elected he would cancel all debts. As a result, he won a large following from all those who were disadvantaged - from bankrupt nobles to the urban poor. According to Sallust this attracted the criminal element, "who poured into Rome till it was like a sewer", and the dissolute youth of the capital, who preferred "an idle life to thankless toil." (21)
Despite this campaign, Cicero and Gaius Antonius Hybrida, the uncle of Mark Antony, won the election. With this success his family entered the ranks of the nobility (a noble was a direct descendant of a consul through the male line). A consul was the most senior of the annual magistrates. The two consuls held office for the calendar year, which (in the absence of any numerical system) was named after them. (22)
One of the first new laws initiated by Cicero was to restrict the amount of money a candidate for office might spend on public entertainments: "According to this decree, the Calpurnian Law was contravened if men were paid to meet the candidates, if people were hired, for a fee, to act as escorts, if at gladiatorial combats places were allotted to the crowd according to tribes, if free dinners were given to the public. So the Senate decided that these actions would be illegal if they were committed." (23)
Cicero had been elected as a popularist but once in power he argued for the status quo and one of his first acts was to oppose the land distributions proposed by the tribune Publius Servilius Rullus. Cicero wanted to limit the power of the plebeian tribunes and the Plebeian Council (the assembly of the plebeians) and strengthen the power of the senate, which represented the patricians. He said that some of the representatives of the plebeians were dangerous people "whom nothing appears sufficient to possess, some to whom nothing seems sufficient to squander." (24)
Catiline remained in the city but sent his agent Gaius Manlius north to organise troops for a march on Rome. When he received news of this Cicero made a speech accusing Catiline of conspiring against the government: "Imagine every type of criminality and wickedness that you can think of; he has been behind them all. In the whole of Italy there is not one single poisoner, gladiator, robber, assassin, parricide, will-forger, cheat, glutton, wastrel, adulterer, prostitute, corrupter of youth, or youth who has been corrupted, indeed any nasty individual of any kind whatever, who would not be obliged to admit he had been Catilina's intimate." (25)
Catiline denied everything in the senate but decided to join Manlius and his army leaving Publius Cornelius Lentulus in charge in Rome. The senate outlawed Catiline, and when evidence was brought to Cicero in the form of letters written by the conspirators to Catiline urging him to hurry his advance on Rome, the others involved were arrested and admitted their part in the conspiracy: "The disclosure of the plot produced a volte-face in public opinion. The common people, who at first, in their desire for a new regime, had been only too eager for war, now cursed Catiline's scheme and praised Cicero to the skies." (26)
There was now a debate in the senate concerning the punishment to be imposed on the self-confessed traitors. The majority of senators who spoke supported the death penalty, but Julius Caesar pointed out that they were all Roman citizens and that execution without a trial was illegal. He also pointed out that Romans threatened with execution were entitled to appeal to the assembly. Caesar suggested that the conspirators should be imprisoned for life. However, the senators decided on the death penalty and Cicero supervised the executions of the on 5th December 63 BC. (27)
In 62 BC Lucius Licinius Murena won the election to be Rome's consul. Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Younger) announced that he intended to prosecute Murena because like all the candidates, he had been guilty of employing bribery to win votes. Cicero, a supporter of Murena agreed to defend him in court, despite the fact that he was clearly guilty of paying bribes. Michael Grant points out: "Of the actual charge against Murena he steers pretty clear, as he must. Instead, he stresses the peril to the state if his client should have to be disqualified." (28)
Cato pointed out it was Cicero who was responsible for the law against bribery: "Let us go back to the fact that I passed a law against bribery. Yes, I did so, but without cancelling another rule which I had also, long ago, laid down for myself: my obligation to protect Roman citizens from danger. Certainly, if I admitted that bribery had taken place, and argued that this could be justified, I should be acting disreputably, even if it had not been I myself who proposed the bribery law. When, on the other hand, I argue, as I do, that no illegal act has been committed by Murena at all, I cannot see why the fact that I proposed the law against bribery could be said to have any negative bearing at all upon my decision to defend Murena." (29)
Cicero argues that Murena should be judged by his and his family record: "Murena conscientiously pushed his candidature forward. The records of his impeccable father and ancestors helped him. So did the respectable way in which he had spent his youth, and his eminent service as a military officer. Another help, too, was his praetorship, in which he had administered the law with such distinction, and earned popularity because of his Games; and his provincial service had further enhanced his reputation. As a candidate, too, he neither gave way before threats, nor threatened anyone himself." (30)
Cicero then goes on to suggest that the early Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, can help us understand this problem. "Now I will admit, Cato, that I too, when I was young, feeling diffident about my own intellectual resources, sought the assistance of philosophy. And what my teachers told us - Plato's and Aristotle's followers, moderate and reasonable men - is that it is sometimes possible to make philosophers change their minds. It is a virtue, they comment, to show compassion. Offences are not all equally serious: they differ in gravity, and deserve different punishments. However steadfast a man may be, he can sometimes pardon. As for the philosopher, he does sometimes guess about things he does not know for certain, he is sometimes angry, he is sometimes influenced by prayers and attempts to placate him, he does sometimes alter what he has said if he finds a reason to improve, he does, on occasion, change his opinion. That is to say, all virtues, I learnt, are subject to modification." (31)
It has been argued that Cicero defended Murena in order to protect the state against possible revolution. It was an early example of "the end justifies the means" or as Sophocles wrote in Electra (c 409 BC): "The end excuses any evil" or in the words of the Roman poet Ovid: "The result justifies the deed" (Heroides c. 10 BC). Murena was acquitted, and became one of the consuls in 62 BC in order to continue the fight against the supporters of Catiline. "In the interests of government stability, Cicero had supported the election of a not very honest client, and had won." (32)
In 61 BC Cicero became involved in a scandal that had a disastrous impact on his political career. A young aristocrat, Publius Clodius Pulcher, was discovered to have dressed up in women's clothes and attended the festival of the Bona Dea, to which only women were admitted. This was held in the house of Julius Caesar and it was suggested that he had taken advantage of the situation to commit adultery with his wife. As a result, Caesar divorced his wife on the grounds that "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion." (33) At Clodius' trial for sacrilege Cicero gave evidence that disproved his alibi. Nevertheless, Clodius managed to bribe his way to an acquittal and became the long-term enemy of Cicero. (34)
Caesar, a very successful general, was a growing political force in Ancient Rome. It was claimed that he had great charm and that a great deal of military achievements was due to his personality and character which enabled him to win the love and loyalty of his soldiers. The number of Caesar's affairs was notorious and it was rumoured he was bi-sexual. One of his enemies in the senate once suggested that he was "every woman's husband and every man's wife". (35)
In 60 BC, Julius Caesar formed a political alliance with Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey) and Marcus Licinius Crassus, that became known as the First Triumvirate and in 59 BC and along with Marcus Bibulus, he was elected consul. Caesar proposed a law for redistributing public lands to army veterans - a proposal supported by Pompey and by Crassus, making the triumvirate public. Pompey filled the city with soldiers, a move which intimidated the triumvirate's opponents. Bibulus vetoed the bill. According to Plutarch, Caesar "brought Pompey out openly in front of the people on the speaker's platform and asked him whether he approved of the new laws. Pompey said that he did." He then went on to say that he was willing to use force in order that the proposal was successful. (36)
Bibulus withdrew to his house for the remainder of his term of office. This had the effect of making the rest of Caesar's legislation technically invalid. Caesar now introduced a second land law that provided for the last public lands in Italy to be divided into 20,000 allotments and distributed predominantly to the urban poor. Cicero was critical of what Caesar had done and was disappointed that Pompey appeared to be supporting him. He wrote to his friend, Titus Pomponius Atticus: "Pompey has fenced so far with the important questions. When asked, he said that he agreed with Caesar's laws. But what about his methods?" (37)
In order to assure himself of Pompey's loyalty Caesar arranged for him to marry his daughter, Julia. Caesar honoured the rest of his promises to Pompey and Crassus using Publius Vatinius the tribune of the plebs. He proposed to the assembly that Caesar be given Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy) and Illyricum (south-eastern Europe), with Transalpine Gaul (southern France) later added, giving him command of four legions. He was now in control of a large army close to Rome. (38)
In 60 BC, Julius Caesar, invited Cicero to be the fourth member of his existing partnership with Pompey and Crassus, Cicero refused the invitation because he suspected it would undermine the Republic. (39) He wrote to his friend Atticus: "There can be no hope of either private individuals or even state officials being free for much longer. Yet amid all this oppression there is more free speech than ever, at any rate at social gatherings and parties. Indeed, people's indignation is beginning to outweigh their fright; though on all sides there is nothing but utter despair… I cannot bear to write any more about politics. I am disgusted with myself and find writing about it extremely painful. Considering how crushed everyone is, I manage to carry on without actual humiliation, yet without the courage I should have hoped for from myself in the light of my past achievements. Caesar very generously proposes that I should join his staff. He also offers to send me on a mission at state expense, nominally to fulfil a vow.... I am keeping the offer in reserve, but do not think I shall use it. I do not know what to do. I hate the idea of running away. I long to fight and have a lot of enthusiastic supporters. But I make no promises, and please say nothing about it." (40)
After this rejection Caesar decided to form an alliance with Cicero's enemy, Clodius. In 59 BC, Caesar sanctioned Clodius's adoption into a plebeian family (he was of patrician birth), therefore "enabling him to stand for election to the tribunate of the plebs, the office traditionally sought by popular politicians who wished to propose radical legislation or, in conservative eyes, to stir up trouble". Clodius was duly elected as tribune in 58 BC. Cicero refused to become a supporter of Caesar, as a result, Clodius proposed a bill outlawing anyone who had put a Roman citizen to death without trial. On the day that Clodius' law was passed, Cicero left Rome and went to live in exile in Macedonia. His house in the city was plundered and burned and Clodius described him as a tyrant. (41)
In exile, Cicero increased his letter writing. Well over 800 of his letters, dealing with an enormous variety of subjects, have survived. As Michael Grant has pointed out: "Since nine-tenths of these letters were not intended for publication, they give an astonishingly frank and authentic picture of their writer's character: he was not only an indefatigable correspondent, but uniquely articulate about himself... His talent for self-revelation means that we know more about him than about any other ancient personage, and almost more than about any other historical or literary figure of any date whatsoever. Furthermore, these letters are our principle - very often our only - source of knowledge for the events of this decisive period in the history of civilization." (42)
In a letter to Gaius Scribonius Curio he explained why he spent so much time on this activity. "As you know very well, there are many sorts of letter. But there is one unmistakable sort, which actually caused letter-writing to be invented in the first place, namely the sort intended to give people in other places any information which for our or their sakes they ought to know... There are two other sorts of letter which I like very much, one intimate and humorous, the other serious and profound. I am not sure which of these genres would be more inappropriate than the other for me to employ in writing to you. Am I to send you letters full of jokes? I really do not think there is a single Roman who could make jokes in these times. And in serious vein what could Cicero possibly write about to Curio except politics? But on this subject my situation is that I dare not write what I feel and have no desire to write what I do not feel." (43)
Sending letters was a difficult process during this period. There was not a regular postal service and so people like Cicero entrusted their letters to travellers or employed their own couriers, who could cover fifty miles a day. For example, a letter written by Julius Caesar while in Britain took twenty-eight days to arrive in Rome. Letters were normally written with reed pen and ink on papyrus; the pages were pasted together to form a roll, which was then tied with thread and sealed. (44)
In 57 BC Cicero began to have talks with Pompey. He later recalled why he agreed to do a deal with this powerful figure: "My views have been alienating Pompey from me? It has to stop. Since the powerless do not want to be my friends, I must make sure that the powerful are! You will say: 'I wish you had done so long ago.' I know that you wanted me to, and that I have been an utter fool. But now it is high time for me to be friends with myself and my own interests, since I cannot possibly be with the other lot." (45)
Pompey arranged for Cicero to be recalled to Rome. On Pompey's motion the senate passed a decree, unanimous with the single exception of Clodius, describing Cicero as the saviour of his country. His journey through Italy resembled a triumphal procession and he was escorted by cheering crowds. In speeches to the senate he successfully secured compensation to enable him to rebuild his home. He also gave his support to the tribune, Titus Annius Milo, who was used to attack Clodius. This led to street violence and the death of Clodius in 52 BC. (46)
Cicero was offered an accepted the post as governor of Cilicia on the south-east coast of Asia Minor (the province also included Cyprus). He did not enjoy the experience. He wrote to his friend, Marcus Caelius Rufus: "My longing for Rome is quite unbounded! you could not believe how I long for my friends and most of all for yourself. My province, on the other hand, bores me completely. This may be because the degree of distinction which I feel I have already attained in my career makes me not so much ambitious to add to it as fearful of impairing it. Or perhaps it is because the whole business is unworthy of my capacities, in comparison with the heavier burdens which I can bear and often do bear in the service of my country."
Cicero went on to describe his task of providing wild animals for the Roman Games: "The matter of the panthers is being carefully attended to by my orders through the agency of the men who make a practice of hunting them. But there are surprisingly few of the animals; and those that there are, I am told, complain that in my province they are the only living creatures for whom traps are laid! So rumour has it that they have decided to evacuate the province and live in Caria." (47)
In 54 BC Cicero began work on a detailed study of government, On the State. It took the form of a discussion which had supposedly occurred in the garden of Scipio Africanus, in 129 BC. Scipio was the conqueror of Carthage in the Third Punic War (149-146 BC). In Book I, Scipto defines the nature of the state, and discusses the three principal forms of reputable government (kingship, aristocracy and democracy). In Book II he briefly traces the history of the Roman state. In Book III he discusses the eternal, immutable law, based on reason, which draws an absolute distinction between right and wrong. (48)
Cicero attempts to justify the creation of the Roman Empire: "Some, states, and some individuals, have a right to control others. Our own people have gained dominion over the entire world. For there is no doubt at all that nature has granted dominion to everything that is best - to the manifest advantage of the weak. And that, surely, explains why God rules over man, why the human mind rules over the body, and why reason rules over lust and anger, and the other evil qualities of the heart." (49)
Spurius Mummius, a poet and a conservative, argues: "Personally I prefer even monarchy to unmitigated democracy, which is the worst of all forms of government. But an aristocratic, oligarchic government is better than monarchy, because a king is a single individual, where a state will derive the most benefit if it comes under the rule of a number of good men, and not just one." Scipio replied: "I realize, Spurius, that you have always felt a particular dislike for popular power. My own feeling is that it might be more possible to endure than you have thought. Yet, all the same, I agree with you that it is the least desirable of all the three types of constitution. But as to your suggestion that aristocratic rule is preferable to monarchy, that I cannot accept. For if wisdom is the dominant quality of the government, whether that wisdom is the possession of one man only, or of more than one, seems to me to make no difference one way or the other." (50)
In 52 BC Cicero began work On Laws. This was a discussion on how the ideal government ought to be conducted, explaining how the force of law as the true cementing force of the state. Once again, the book takes the form of a discussion. This time it takes place in his own home. Cicero is the principal speaker and his brother Quintus Tullius Cicero and his friend Titus Pomponius Atticus are the others. "Their roles are subordinate, but what they say is quite interesting, introduced to present not only agreement but also, sometimes, different, critical viewpoints." (51)
Cicero attempts to explain why the Romans rejected monarchy as a form of government: "Now, originally, all nations of antique origin were ruled by kings. This authority was, at first, entrusted to men who were outstanding for their integrity and wisdom - and that was conspicuously the case of the early monarchy in our own country. Subsequently the kingship was handed down to the descendants of the earliest kings (which is still what happens in the monarchies that exist elsewhere today). At that stage, however, people who objected to the monarchical system wanted not, indeed, to be under no superior direction at all, but no longer to be invariably under one single man."
However, if citizens are to play a role in government, there needs to be a legal system in place. This society will need officials to administer the system: "In fact the entire nature of a state depends on the arrangements it has made regarding those officials. First, they must be left in no doubt how far the limits of their authority extend. And the citizens, too, must be made fully aware of the extent of their obligation to obey the functionaries in question. It is worth remembering, in this connection, that the man who rules his country well will, obviously, have deferred to the authority of others in the past - and the man who has rendered this obedience conscientiously has thereby acquired fitness to become a ruler himself some time in the future. Indeed, this obedient subject has a right to expect that that is what he will one day become; and conversely the ruler will be well advised to bear in mind that he himself, quite soon in the future, may have to start obeying again." (52)
Quintus points out that in the past, tribunes, who represented the plebians, have damaged the authority of the consuls. Cicero replied: "You have pointed to the flaws in the tribunate, Quintus, very clearly indeed. But when one is criticizing an institution it is unfair just to list its faults, and to pick out the shortcomings its history has displayed, without also touching, on the good it has done. If you are going to employ that sort of method, you can even abuse the consulship, once you have collected together the bad actions of certain individual consuls, whom I prefer not to identify. And as far as the tribunate is concerned, I admit that there is something wrong about the actual power it possesses. But it would be impossible to have the benefits which the tribune was designed to provide, without accepting that flaw as well."
Quintus had complained that the tribunes have too much power. "Yes, that is undeniable. But the power of the popular Assembly has a much more cruel and violent potential. Yet, in practice, that potential sometimes makes for greater mildness than if it did not exist at all - when there is a leader to keep the Assembly under control. And, when there is a leader, his behaviour is restricted by the recognition that he himself is at risk, whereas the impulses of the people care nothing at all about any risk that may be involved for themselves. 'Yes,' you object, 'but the tribunes sometimes stir up excitement among the people.' True, but they frequently have a calming effect as well." (53)
In Rome there was constant fighting between the optimates (conservatives) and the popularists (reformers). The optimates increasingly courted Pompey as a tool to use against Caesar, who was seen as a popularist. "Pompey, who above all desired their recognition, disrupted ordered government so that he could then pose as its restorer. The optimates met his desire for a dictatorship half-way by allowing him to be sole consul in 52 BC. Caesar was involved in military adventures in Britain and Germany at the time and he was reluctant to start a civil war. (54)
Caesar proposed that both he and Pompey should disarm and give up their commands in order to prevent a civil war. On 1st December, 50 BC, the Senate voted on the proposal. Such was the longing for peace that it was carried by 370 votes to a mere 22. However, the Optimates found a tribune to veto the bill. The next day Pompey was asked to assume command of all forces in Italy. Ceasar dispatchedMark Antony, to Rome and on 1st January, 49 BC, read a letter from Caesar which renewed his peace offer. No vote was taken and the Senate declared that Caesar would be declared a public enemy if he did not disarm within two months. On 7th January, Pompey was granted the authority of a dictator. (55)
Cicero was aware Pompey was a great military leader: "Gnaeus Pompeius is in the unique position of not only exceeding all his contemporaries in merit but even eclipsing every figure recorded from the past... The ideal general... should possess four qualities - military knowledge, talent, prestige and luck. In knowledge of military affairs Pompey has never been surpassed... The abilities of Gnaeus Pompeius are too vast for any words to do them justice... The talents a general needs are numerous... meticulous organisation, courage in danger, painstaking execution, prompt action, foresight in planning. In each and every one of those qualities Pompeius excels all other generals we have ever seen or heard of." (56)
Cicero was reluctant to take sides and favoured a negotiated peace in order to prevent a civil war. However, as he told Atticus: "Our friend Pompey's proceedings have throughout been destitute alike of wisdom and of courage, and I may add, contrary throughout to my advice and influence. I say nothing of ancient history - his building up and aggrandising and arming against the state, his backing the violent and unconstitutional passage of laws." (57)
Cicero and his wife Terentia, had a difficult relationship. He blamed her for arranging a bad marriage for his daughter, Tullia, that eventually ended in divorce. Cicero also divorced in 47 BC. Tullia died shortly after childbirth in February, 45 BC. Cicero's second wife, Publilia, who had always been jealous of the attention her husband lavished on his daughter, showed little sympathy, leading Cicero to divorce her. (58)
Caesar and his soldiers crossed the Rubicon into Italy. On 21st February, 49 BC, he forced the surrender of a senatorial army in Corfinium. Caesar offered the defeated soldiers clemency which was to be his consistent policy throughout the war; most of the troops came over to him, and their leaders were permitted to depart. A week later Cicero wrote that Caesar's clemency was winning public opinion. He wrote to Atticus about "Caesar's treacherous clemency" but added that Pompey was also treacherous because he was preparing to abandon Italy and intended to withdraw across the Adriatic to Greece. (59)
The historian, Suetonius, pointed out: "He (Caesar) was resolved to invade Italy if force were used against the tribunes of the people who had vetoed the Senate's decree disbanding his army by a given date. Force was, in effect, used, and the tribunes fled towards Cisalpine Gaul, which became Caesar's pretexts for launching the Civil War... Additional motives are suspected, however: Pompey's comment was that because Caesar had insufficient capital to carry out his grandiose schemes or give the people all that they had been encouraged to expect on his return, he chose to create an atmosphere of political confusion." (60)
Caesar argued that the main reason he decided to march on Rome was that he feared his political enemies would have impeached him for breaking the law during his first consulship and that he would have been condemned, despite everything that he had achieved, and sent into exile: "Prestige had always been of prime importance to me, even outweighing life itself; it pained me to see the privilege conferred on me by the Roman people being insultingly wrested from me by my enemies." (61)
Caesar still hoped to gain the support of the Senate. He held a meeting with Cicero at Formia near Naples. Caesar was aware he was the one man whose integrity was generally recognized. He asked Cicero if he would be willing to make a speech in the Senate in his favour. "Cicero's reply was testing. He asked for assurance of freedom of speech. He could not agree to blame Pompey; he could not approve of attacks on the Pompeian armies in Spain and Greece. Would he be permitted to put forward such arguments? Caesar remained polite; he smiled; he spoke with respect of Cicero's reputation and abilities; he praised his talents and character. But he added that of course he could not permit him to speak in that way." (62)
Caesar secured Spain by driving out Pompey's commanders, Africanius and Varro. He then crossed the Adriatic in early 48 BC. The two Roman forces met in battle on the plain of Pharsalus in central Greece. Caesar had 22,000 men under his command but Pompey had an army about twice as large in number. Pompey wanted to delay, knowing the enemy would eventually surrender from hunger and exhaustion. Pressured by the senators present and by his officers, he reluctantly engaged in battle and suffered an overwhelming defeat. Pompey retreated to his camp, leaving the rest of his troops to their own devices. (63)
Pompey escaped to Egypt. Frightened that Julius Caesar would now invade Egypt, Ptolemy XIII arranged the execution of Pompey on 28th September. The head of Pompey was sent to Caesar to prove he was not being protected by the Egyptians. When Caesar arrived in Alexandria two days later, Ptolemy presented him with Pompey's severed head. Caesar was appalled by this act of violence against a leading Roman citizen. At first he intended to demand a large sum of money in return for leaving the country. (64)
However, while in Egypt, Caesar met Cleopatra, the country's twenty-one-year-old queen. Caesar, who was now fifty-two and had already been married three times before, fell deeply in love with Cleopatra. After defeating King Ptolemy XIII, Caesar restored Cleopatra to her throne, with another younger brother Ptolemy XIV as new co-ruler. On 23 June 47 BC Cleopatra gave birth to a child, Ptolemy Caesar (nicknamed "Caesarion"). Cleopatra claimed that Caesar was the father and wished him to name the boy his heir, but Caesar refused, choosing his grandnephew Octavian instead. (65)
Cleopatra, Ptolemy XIV and Caesarion visited Rome in summer 46 BC. They stayed in one of Caesars country houses. Members of the Senate disapproved of the relationship between Cleopatra and Caesar, partly because he was already married to Calpurnia Pisonis. Others objected to the fact that she was a foreigner. Cicero disliked her for moral reasons: "Her (Cleopatra) way of walking... her clothes, her free way of talking, her embraces and kisses, her beach-parties and dinner-parties, all show her to be a tart." (66)
Later Plutarch attempted to explain why some men found her attractive: "Her actual beauty, it is said, was not in itself remarkable... but the attraction of her person, joining with the charm of her conversation... was something bewitching. It was a pleasure merely to hear the sound of her voice, with which, like an instrument of many strings, she could pass from one language to another, so that there were few of the nations that she needed an interpreter... which was all the more surprising because most of her predecessors, scarcely gave themselves the trouble to acquire the Egyptian tongue." (67)
When Caesar returned to Rome he appointed 300 of his supporters as members of the Senate. Although the Senate and Public Assembly still met, it was Caesar who now made all the important decisions. Cicero became very concerned about the increasing power and spoke about the need to re-establish Rome's institutions. He urged Caesar to create "a new kind of Empire" to "decentralize, to establish local government in Italy as the beginning of a world-wide system of free municipalities". He suggested that "Rome should be only the greatest among many great and autonomous cities" and the "decadence of the Roman plebs would be redeemed by the virility of the new peoples". (68)
On 15th February 44 BC Caesar was powerful enough to declare himself dictator for life. Although in the past Roman leaders had become dictators in times of crisis, no one had taken this much power. A whole range of magnificent buildings named after Caesar and his family were erected. Hundreds of sculptures of Caesar, most of them made by captured Greek artists, were distributed throughout the Roman Empire. Some of the statues claimed that Caesar was now a God. Caesar also became the first living man to appear on a Roman coin. Even the month of the year that he was born, Quintilis, was renamed July in his honour. (69)
Cicero noticed that Caesar's personality was beginning to change. According to Allan Massie: "The disease of power had begun to attack him; he was losing the intuitive responsiveness to the effect of his actions on others. Among Caesar's attributes had been his sensitivity, his ability to put himself in the other man's place. That was now deserting him, as arrogance... Consciousness of one's own nobility, generosity and clemency carries its own danger; and it now blinded Caesar to the implications of what he had done. He had bestowed life and safety on his enemies, even admitted them to his favour. Nothing showed so clearly his conscious superiority; nothing so certainly fostered their resentment." (70)
A group of about sixty men, known as the "Liberators" decided it was necessary to assassinate Caesar in order to restore the Republic. This included Marcus Junius Brutus, the son of Servilia, Caesar's best-loved mistress. It was even rumoured that Caesar was the father of Brutus. Plans were made to carry out the assassination in the Senate just three days before he was due to leave for Parthia. When Caesar arrived at the Senate on 15th March, 44 BC, a group of senators gathered round him. Publius Servilius Casca stabbed him from behind. Caesar looked round for help but now the rest of the group pulled out their daggers. One of the first men Caesar saw was Brutus and was reported to have declared, "You too, my son." Caesar knew it was useless to resist and pulled his toga over his head and waited for the final blows to arrive. (71)
Cicero was not informed of the plot, since the conspirators believed that he might have warned Caesar. However, he admitted that he approved of the assassination: "What does it matter whether I wished it done or approved the deed? Is there anyone, except Antony and those who were glad to have Caesar reign over us, who did not wish for his death or who disapproved of what was done? All was responsible... Some didn't know of the plot, some lacked courage, others the opportunity. None lacked the will." (72)
After the assassination of Julius Caesar, his deputy, Mark Antony took power. He published Caesar's will which revealed that he had left 300 sesterces to every man in Rome. Caesar also stated in his will that his impressive gardens were to become parks for the people who lived in the city. This action helped Antony to gain political influence over the people of Rome. (73)
In early 44 BC Cicero wrote an essay On Friendship. His ideas on the subject was influenced by the work of the Greek philosopher, Epicurus (341 BC - 270 BC). Epicurus lived on bread and cheese. Such desires as those for wealth and honour are futile, because they make a man restless when he might be contented. For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy and tranquil life. Therefore, freedom from fear and the absence of pain. He argued that "sexual intercourse has never done a man good and he is lucky if it has not harmed him." In the opinion of Epicurus, the safest of social pleasures is friendship. (74)
Cicero explained that real friendship was a strong feeling of love. "What this feeling is may be perceived even in the case of certain animals, which, up to a certain time, so love their offspring and are so loved by them, that their impulses are easily seen. But this is much more evident in man; first, from the affection existing between children and parents, which cannot be destroyed except by some execrable crime, and again from that kindred impulse of love, which arises when once we have met someone whose habits and character are congenial with our own; because in him we seem to behold, as it were, a sort of lamp of uprightness and virtue."
Animals love from instinct whereas a love of a friend concerns the intellect: "The oftener, therefore, I reflect on friendship the more it seems to me that consideration should be given to the question, whether the longing for friendship is felt on account of weakness and want, so that by the giving and receiving of favours one may get from another and in turn repay what he is unable to procure of himself; or, although this mutual interchange is really inseparable from friendship, whether there is not another cause, older, more beautiful, and emanating more directly from Nature herself.... For while it is true that advantages are frequently obtained even from those who, under a pretence of friendship, are courted and honoured to suit the occasion; yet in friendship there is nothing false, nothing pretended; whatever there is genuine and comes of its own accord. Wherefore it seems to me that friendship springs rather from nature than from need, and from an inclination of the soul joined with a feeling of love rather than from calculation of how much profit the friendship is likely to afford." (75)
Cicero argues: "Friendship is nothing else than an accord in all things, human and divine, conjoined with mutual goodwill and affection, and I am inclined to think that, with the exception of wisdom, no better thing has been given to man by the immortal gods. Some prefer riches, some good health, some power, some public honours, and many even prefer sensual pleasures. This last is the highest aim of brutes; the others are fleeting and unstable things and dependent less upon human foresight than upon the fickleness of fortune." (76)
According to Cicero good friendships help to maintain good behaviour: "Why do I say these things? Because without associates no one attempts any such mischiefs. It must, therefore, be enjoined upon good men that if by any chance they should inadvisedly fall into friendships of this kind, they must not think themselves so bound that they cannot withdraw from friends who are sinning in some important matter of public concern; for wicked men, on the other hand, a penalty must be enacted, and assuredly it will not be lighter for the followers than for the leaders in treason…. Hence such alliances of wicked men not only should not be protected by a plea of friendship, but rather they should be visited with summary punishment of the severest kind, so that no one may think it permissible to follow even a friend when waging war against his country." (77)
Cicero argued that "as a rule decisions about friendships should be formed after strength and stability have been reached in mind and age". (78) Friendships in business and politics is also difficult: "Some men often give proof in a petty money transaction how unstable they are; while others, who could not have been influenced by a trivial sum, are discovered in one that is large. But if any shall be found who think it base to prefer money to friendship, where shall we find those who do not put office, civil and military rank, high place and power, above friendship, so that when the former advantages are placed before them on one side and the latter on the other they will not much prefer the former? For feeble is the struggle of human nature against power, and when men have attained it even by the disregard of friendship they imagine the sin will be forgotten because friendship was not disregarded without a weighty cause. Therefore, true friendships are very hard to find among those whose time is spent in office or in business of a public kind. For where can you find a man so high-minded as to prefer his friend's advancement to his own? And, passing by material considerations, pray consider this: how grievous and how hard to most persons does association in another's misfortunes appear! Nor is it easy to find men who will go down to calamity's depths for a friend." (79)
Cicero attempted to define what he meant by true friendship. "As, therefore, it is characteristic of true friendship both to give and to receive advice and, on the one hand, to give it with all freedom of speech, but without harshness, and on the other hand, to receive it patiently, but without resentment, so nothing is to be considered a greater bane of friendship than fawning, cajolery, or flattery; for give it as many names as you choose, it deserves to be branded as a vice peculiar to fickle and false-hearted men who say everything with a view to pleasure and nothing with a view to truth. Moreover, hypocrisy is not only wicked under all circumstances, because it pollutes truth and takes away the power to discern it, but it is also especially inimical to friendship, since it utterly destroys sincerity, without which the word friendship can have no meaning. And since the effect of friendship is to make, as it were, one soul out of many, how will that be possible if not even in one man taken by himself shall there be a soul always one and the same, but fickle, changeable, and manifold?" (80)
Cicero believed that you should continue to make new friends: "But inasmuch as things human are frail and fleeting, we must be ever on the search for some persons whom we shall love and who will love us in return; for if goodwill and affection are taken away, every joy is taken from life. For me, indeed, though he was suddenly snatched away, Scipio still lives and will always live; for it was his virtue that caused my love and that is not dead. Nor is it only in my sight and for me, who had it constantly within my reach, that his virtue lives; it will even shed its light and splendour on men unborn. No one will ever undertake with courage and hope the larger tasks of life without thinking that he must continually keep before him the memory and example of that illustrious man changes not only to suit another's humour and desire, but even his expression and his nod?" (81)
In 44 BC Cicero began work on his book, On Duties. It has been claimed that no work exercised so unparalleled influence until the nineteenth century. Voltaire wrote in 1771: "No one will ever write anything more wise, more true, or more useful. From now on, those whose ambition it is to give men instruction, to provide them with precepts, will be charlatans if they want to rise above you, or will all be your imitators." (82)
Cicero gives advice of making moral decisions: "It is first to be determined whether the contemplated act is right or wrong, a matter as to which there often are opposite opinions. Then there is room for inquiry or consultation whether the act under discussion is conducive to convenience and pleasure, to affluence and free command of outward goods, to wealth, to power, in fine, to the means by which one can benefit himself and those dependent on him; and here the question turns on expediency. The third class of cases is when what appears to be expedient seems repugnant to the right. For when expediency lays, as it were, violent hands upon us, and the right seems to recall us to itself, the mind is distracted, and laden with two-fold anxiety as to the course of action. In this distribution of the subject, while a division ought by all means to be exhaustive, there are two omissions. Not only is the question of right or wrong as to an act wont to be considered, but also the question, of two right things which is the more right; equally, of two expedient things which is the more expedient." (83)
"In the beginning, animals of every species were endowed with the instinct that prompts them to take care of themselves as to life and bodily well-being, to shun whatever threatens to do them harm, and to seek and provide whatever is necessary for subsistence, as food, shelter, and other things of this sort. The appetite for sexual union for the production of offspring is, also, common to all animals, together with a certain degree of care for their offspring. But between man and beast there is this essential difference, that the latter, moved by sense alone, adapts himself only to that which is present in place and time, having very little cognizance of the past or the future. Man, on the other hand - because he is possessed of reason, by which he discerns consequences, sees the causes of things, understands the rise and progress of events, compares similar objects, and connects and associates the future with the present - easily takes into view the whole course of life, and provides things necessary for it. Nature too, by virtue of reason, brings man into relations of mutual intercourse and society with his fellow-men; generates in him a special love for his children; prompts him to promote and attend social gatherings and public assemblies; and awakens in him the desire to provide what may suffice for the support and nourishment, not of himself alone, but of his wife, his children, and others whom he holds dear and is bound to protect. This care rouses men’s minds and makes them more efficient in action."
Human beings are also different from animals in that they consider "truth" to be important. "The research and investigation of truth, also, are a special property of man. Thus, when we are free from necessary occupations, we want to see, or hear, or learn something, and regard the knowledge of things either secret or wonderful as essential to our living happily and well. To this desire for seeing the truth is annexed a certain craving for precedence, insomuch that the man well endowed by nature is willing to render obedience to no one, unless to a preceptor, or a teacher, or one who holds a just and legitimate sway for the general good. Hence are derived greatness of mind and contempt for the vicissitudes of human fortune. Nor does it indicate any feeble force of nature and of reason, that of all animals man alone has a sense of order, and decency, and moderation in action and in speech. Thus no other animal feels the beauty, elegance, symmetry, of the things that he sees; while by nature and reason, man, transferring these qualities from the eyes to the mind, considers that much more, even, are beauty, consistency, and order to be preserved in purposes and acts, and takes heed that he do nothing indecorous or effeminate, and still more, that in all his thoughts and deeds he neither do nor think anything lascivious." (84)
Cicero then goes on to look at the concept of justice that had developed by the Stoics in Greece in the 3rd century BC who were greatly influenced by the teachings of Socrates. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. The philosophy asserts that virtue (such as wisdom) is happiness and judgment should be based on behavior, rather than words. "In the life of an individual man, virtue is the sole good; such things as health, happiness, possessions, are of no account. Since virtue resides in the will, everything really good or bad in a man's life depends only upon himself." (85)
Cicero points out: "The first demand of justice is, that no one do harm to another, unless provoked by injury; the next, that one use common possessions as common, private, as belonging to their owners. Private possessions, indeed, are not so by nature, but by ancient occupancy, as in the case of settlers in a previously uninhabited region; or by conquest, as in the territory acquired in war; or by law, treaty, agreement, or lot… Because each person thus has for his own a portion of those things which were common by nature, let each hold undisturbed what has fallen to his possession. If any one endeavors to obtain more for himself, he will violate the law of human society. But since, as it has been well said by Plato, we are not born for ourselves alone; since our country claims a part in us, our parents a part, our friends a part; and since, according to the Stoics, whatever the earth bears is created for the use of men, while men were brought into being for the sake of men, that they might do good to one another, in this matter we ought to follow nature as a guide, to contribute our part to the common good, and by the interchange of kind offices, both in giving and receiving, alike by skill, by labor, and by the resources at our command, to strengthen the social union of men among men. But the foundation of justice is good faith, that is, steadfastness and truth in promises and agreements. Hence, though it may seem to some too far-fetched, I may venture to imitate the Stoics in their painstaking inquiry into the origin of words, and to derive faith from the fact corresponding to the promise."
"Of injustice there are two kinds, one, that of those who inflict injury; the other, that of those who do not, if they can, repel injury from those on whom it is inflicted. Moreover, he who, moved by anger or by some disturbance of mind, makes an unjust assault on any person, is as one who lays violent hands on a casual companion; while he who does not, if he can, ward off or resist the injury offered to another, is as much in fault as if he were to desert his parents, or his friends, or his country. Indeed, those injuries which are purposely inflicted for the sake of doing harm, often proceed from fear, he who meditates harm to another apprehending that, if he refrains, he himself may suffer harm. But for the most part men are induced to injure others in order to obtain what they covet; and here avarice is the most frequent motive." (86)
In the essay Cicero looks at the recent case of Julius Caesar: "We recently discovered, if it was not known before, that no amount of power can withstand the hatred of the many. The death of this tyrant (Julius Caesar), whose yoke the state endured under the constraint of armed force and whom it still obeys more humbly than ever, though he is dead, illustrates the deadly effects of popular hatred; and the same lesson is taught by the similar fate of all other despots, of whom practically no one has ever escaped such a death. For fear is but a poor safeguard of lasting power; while affection, on the other hand, may be trusted to keep it safe for ever." (87)
Cicero explains his blueprint for an harmonious society: "Everyone ought to have the same purpose: to identify the interest of each with the interest of all. Once men grab for themselves, human society will completely collapse. But if nature prescribes (as she does) that every human being must help every other human being, whoever he is, just precisely because they are all human beings, then - by the same authority - all men have identical interests. Having identical interests means that we are all subject to one and the same law of nature: and, that being so, the very least that such a law enjoins is that we must not wrong one another. This conclusion follows inevitably from the truth of the initial assumption."
"If people claim (as they sometimes do) that they have no intention of robbing their parents or brothers for their own gain, but that robbing their other compatriots is a different matter, they are not talking sense. For that is the same as denying their common interest with their fellow-countrymen, and all the legal or social obligations that follow therefore: a denial which shatters the whole fabric of national life. Another objection urges that one ought to take account of compatriots but not of foreigners. But people who put forward these arguments subvert the whole foundation of the human community - and its removal means the annihilation of all kindness, generosity, goodness, and justice: which is a sin against the immortal gods, since they were the creators of the society which such men are seeking to undermine. And the tightest of the bonds uniting that society is the belief that robbery from another man for the sake of one's personal gain is more unnatural than the endurance of any loss whatsoever to one's person or property - or even to one's very soul. That is, provided that no violation of justice is involved: seeing that of all the virtues justice is the sovereign and queen." (88)
In the summer of 44 BC, Cicero wrote the essay, On Old Age. The main speaker is Marcus Porcius Cato the Elder, the farmer, soldier, statesman, orator, writer, and patriotic moralist, who was aged 84 at the time of this imaginary conversation. Cicero explained that you will "hear my views on old age from Cato's lips." E. M. Forster described the discussion of old age as a "seductive combination of increased wisdom and decaying powers to which too little intelligence is devoted." Michel de Montaigne, the 16th philosopher, went even further and claims "He (Cicero) gives one an appetite for growing old." (89) Desiderius Erasmus said whenever he read it he felt like kissing the book. (90)
In the essay Cicero points out the problems of old age: "I find four reasons why old age appears to be unhappy: first, that it withdraws us from active pursuits; second, that it makes the body weaker; third, that it deprives us of almost all physical pleasures; and, fourth, that it is not far removed from death." The answer to this problem is to approach life in a positive way: "In short, enjoy the blessing of strength while you have it and do not bewail it when it is gone, unless, forsooth, you believe that youth must lament the loss of infancy, or early manhood the passing of youth. Life's race-course is fixed; Nature has only a single path and that path is run but once, and to each stage of existence has been allotted its own appropriate quality; so that the weakness of childhood, the impetuosity of youth, the seriousness of middle life, the maturity of old age - each bears some of Nature's fruit, which must be garnered in its own season." (91)
Cicero argued: "For to those who have not the means within themselves of a virtuous and happy life every age is burdensome; and, on the other hand, to those who seek all good from themselves nothing can seem evil that the laws of nature inevitably impose. To this class old age especially belongs, which all men wish to attain and yet reproach when attained; such is the inconsistency and perversity of folly! They say that it stole upon them faster than they had expected. In the first place, who has forced them to form a mistaken judgement? For how much more rapidly does old age steal upon youth than youth upon childhood? And again, how much less burdensome would old age be to them if they were in their eight hundredth rather than in their eightieth year? In fact, no lapse of time, however long, once it had slipped away, could solace or soothe a foolish old age." (92)
Some men did suffer from a loss of memory but this was not inevitable: "I have no doubt that it is, in persons who do not exercise their memory, and in those who are naturally slow-minded.... I never heard of an old man's forgetting where he had buried his money. Old men remember everything that they care about, - the bonds they have given, what is due to them, what they owe." (93) He goes on to point out: "Thus we see Solon, in one of his poems, boasting that, as he grows old, he widens the range of his knowledge every day. I have done the like, having learned Greek in my old age, and have taken hold of the study so eagerly - as if to quench a long thirst - that I have already become familiar with the topics from Greek authors which I have been using, as I have talked with you, by way of illustration. When I read that Socrates in his old age learned to play on the lyre, I could have wished to do the same, had the old custom been still rife; but I certainly have worked hard on my Greek." (94)
Cicero suggests that: "Old age, like disease, should be fought against. Care must be bestowed upon the health; moderate exercise must be taken; the food and drink should be sufficient to recruit the strength, and not in such excess as to become oppressive. Nor yet should the body alone be sustained in vigor, but much more the powers of mind; for these too, unless you pour oil into the lamp, are extinguished by old age. Indeed, while overexertion tends by fatigue to weigh down the body, exercise makes the mind elastic.... I have esteem for the old man in whom there is something of the youth, which he who cultivates may be old in body, but will never be so in mind... I hardly feel my loss of bodily strength. I appear in court in behalf of my friends. I often take my place in the Senate, and I there introduce of my own motion subjects on which I have thought much and long, and I defend my opinions with strength of mind, not of body. If I were too feeble to pursue this course of life, I still on my bed should find pleasure in thinking out what I could no longer do; but that I am able still to do, as well as to think, is the result of my past life. One who is always occupied in these studies and labors is unaware when age creeps upon him. Thus one grows old gradually and unconsciously, and life is not suddenly extinguished, but closes when by length of time it is burned out." (95)
Cicero claims that it is often argued that old age lacks the pleasures of the senses. That might be true but suggests that they the desire for pleasure causes serious problems and quotes Quintus Maximus as saying: "Man has received from nature no more fatal scourge than bodily pleasure, by which the passions in their eagerness for gratification are made reckless and are released from all restraint. Hence spring treasons against one's country; hence, overthrows of states; hence, clandestine plottings with enemies. In fine, there is no form of guilt, no atrocity of evil, to the accomplishment of which men are not driven by lust for pleasure. Debaucheries, adulteries, and all enormities of that kind have no other inducing cause than the allurements of pleasure. Still more, while neither Nature nor any god has bestowed upon man aught more noble than mind, nothing is so hostile as pleasure to this divine endowment and gift. Nor while lust bears sway can self-restraint find place, nor under the reign of pleasure can virtue have any foothold whatever." That this might be better understood, "Archytas asked his hearers to imagine a person under the excitement of the highest amount of bodily pleasure that could possibly be enjoyed, and maintained that it was perfectly obvious to everyone that so long as such enjoyment lasted it was impossible for the mind to act, or for anything to be determined by reason or reflection. Hence he concluded that nothing was so execrable and baneful as pleasure, since, when intense and prolonged, it extinguishes all the light of intellect." (96)
Cicero makes it clear that old age means making certain adjustments: " I, indeed, for the pleasure of conversation, enjoy festive entertainments, even when they begin early and end late, and that, not only in the company of my coevals, of whom very few remain, but with those of your age and with you; and I am heartily thankful to my advanced years for increasing my appetency for conversation, and diminishing my craving for food and drink…. It is said that old men have less intensity of sensual enjoyment. So I believe; but there is no craving for it. You do not miss what you do not want. Sophocles very aptly replied, when asked in his old age whether he indulged in sensual pleasure, "May the gods do better for me! I rejoice in my escape from a savage and ferocious tyrant." To those who desire such pleasures it may be offensive and grievous to be debarred from them; but to those already filled and satiated it is more pleasant to lack them than to have them. Though he does not lack who does not want them, I maintain that it is more for one's happiness not to want them. But if young men take special delight in these pleasures, in the first place, they are very paltry sources of enjoyment, and, in the second place, they are not wholly out of the reach of old men, though it be in a restricted measure.... But of what immense worth is it for the soul to be with itself, to live, as the phrase is, with itself, discharged from the service of lust, ambition, strife, enmities, desires of every kind! If one has some provision laid up, as it were, of study and learning, nothing is more enjoyable than the leisure of old age." (97)
Finally, Cicero deals with death. "Youth has many more chances of death than those of my age. Young men are more liable to illnesses; they are more severely attacked by disease; they are cured with more difficulty. Thus few reach old age. Were it otherwise, affairs would be better and more discreetly managed; for old men have mind and reason and practical wisdom; and if there were none of them, communities could not hold together." Old people were therefore a small minority at the time and is " liable to excessive solicitude and distress, because death is so near; and it certainly cannot be very far off." He adds that "death is to be despised! which manifestly ought to be regarded with indifference if it really puts an end to the soul, or to be even desired if at length it leads the soul where it will be immortal; and certainly there is no third possibility that can be imagined. Why then should I fear if after death I shall be either not miserable, or even happy?" (98)
In November, 44 BC, Mark Antony left Rome for for Gaul and Cicero assumed unofficial leadership of the senate. Over the next few months he made several attacks on Antony and urged the people to give their support to Caesar's great nephew and adopted son, Octavian. He thought that he had more chance of controlling a 19 year man than an experienced soldier and politician in his prime. (99)
Antony arrived back in Rome and on 2nd September, 43 BC, he made a speech in the Senate where he attacked "Cicero's consulship and the whole career, blaming him for, among other things, the murder of Clodius, the Civil War, and Caesar's assassination. It was a comprehensive attack: he even found space in it to ridicule Cicero's poetry. Naturally enough, perhaps, Cicero immediately began work on a written rebuttal - the Second Philippic. This was essentially the speech that he would have given in reply to Anthony had he been able to: it is written exactly as if delivered in the senate on 19 September." (100)
Cicero was especially angry that Mark Anthony had quoted from private letters that he had received from him in the past: "He also read letters which he said that I had sent to him, like a man devoid of humanity and ignorant of the common usages of life. For whoever, who was even but slightly acquainted with the habits of polite men, produced in an assembly and openly read letters which had been sent to him by a friend, just because some quarrel had arisen between them? Is not this destroying all companionship in life, destroying the means by which absent friends converse together? How many jests are frequently put in letters, which, if they were produced in public, would appear stupid! How many serious opinions, which, for all that, ought not to be published! Let this be a proof of your utter ignorance of courtesy." (101)
Cicero defended the content of his letters: "For what expression is there in those letters which is not full of humanity and service and benevolence? And the whole of your charge amounts to this, that I do not express a bad opinion of you in those letters; that in them I wrote as to a citizen, and as to a virtuous man, not as to a wicked man and a robber. But your letters I will not produce, although I fairly might, now that I am thus challenged by you; letters in which you beg of me that you may be enabled by my consent to procure the recall of some one from exile; and you will not attempt it if I have any objection, and you prevail on me by your entreaties. For why should I put myself in the way of your audacity? When neither the authority of this body, nor the opinion of the Roman people, nor any laws are able to restrain you." (102)
Cicero went on to deal with Mark Antony's criticisms of his consulship. "Marcus Antonius disapproves of my consulship; but it was approved of by Publius Servilius - to name that man first of the men of consular rank who had died most recently. It was approved of by Quintus Catulus, whose authority will always carry weight in this republic; it was approved of by the two Luculli, by Marcus Crassus, by Quintus Hortensius, by Caius Curio, by Caius Piso, by Marcus Glabrio, by Marcus Lepidus, by Lucius Volcatius, by Caius Figulus, by Decimus Silanus and Lucius Murena, who at that time were the consuls elect; the same consulship also which was approved of by those men of consular rank, was approved of by Marcus Cato; who escaped many evils by departing from this life, and especially the evil of seeing you consul. But, above all, my consulship was approved of by Cnæus Pompeius, who, when he first saw me, as he was leaving Syria, embracing me and congratulating me, said, that it was owing to my services that he was about to see his country again. But why should I mention individuals? It was approved of by the senate, in a very full house, so completely, that there was no one who did not thank me as if I had been his parent, who did not attribute to me the salvation of his life, of his fortunes, of his children, and of the republic." (103)
Cicero has pointed out that Mark Antony's speech in the Senate was full of contradictions: "But you are so senseless that throughout the whole of your speech you were at variance with yourself; so that you said things which had not only no coherence with each other, but which were most inconsistent with and contradictory to one another; so that there was not so much opposition between you and me as there was between you and yourself. You confessed that your stepfather had been implicated in that enormous wickedness, yet you complained that he had had punishment inflicted on him. And by doing so you praised what was peculiarly my achievement, and blamed that which was wholly the act of the senate. For the detection and arrest of the guilty parties was my work, their punishment was the work of the senate. But that eloquent man does not perceive that the man against whom he is speaking is being praised by him, and that those before whom he is speaking are being attacked by him."
Cicero would have liked to have made the speech in the Senate but "armed men are actually between our benches". What is more these armed men were foreign soldiers: "Let us inquire then whether it was better for the arms of wicked men to yield to the freedom of the Roman people, or that our liberty should yield to your arms. Nor will I make any further reply to you about the verses. I will only say briefly that you do not understand them, nor any other literature whatever. That I have never at any time been wanting to the claims that either the republic or my friends had upon me; but nevertheless that in all the different sorts of composition on which I have employed myself, during my leisure hours, I have always endeavoured to make my labours and my writings such as to be some advantage to our youth, and some credit to the Roman name. But, however, all this has nothing to do with the present occasion." (104)
Mark Antony responded by forming an alliance with Octavian and Marcus Lepidus to form the Second Triumvirate. The Triumvirate began proscribing their enemies and potential rivals. Cicero and all of his contacts and supporters were numbered among the enemies of the state, even though Octavian argued for two days against Cicero being added to the list. Cicero was caught on 7th December 43 BC, on his way to take a ship destined for Macedonia. Cicero's last words are said to have been, "There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly." After he was killed his head was cut off. On Antony's instructions his hands, which had penned the articles he had written against him, were cut off as well; these were nailed along with his head on the Rostra in the Forum Romanum. According to Cassius Dio Antony's wife Fulvia took Cicero's head, pulled out his tongue, and jabbed it repeatedly with her hairpin in final revenge against Cicero's power of speech. (105)
The writings of Cicero had a large influence on Renaissance humanism. According to Anthony Grayling, the author of Ideas that Matter (2009): "The Renaissance valued Cicero not merely for his style but for his humanism in the modern sense, expressed as belief in the value of the human individual. He argued that individuals should be autonomous, free to think for themselves and possessed of rights that define their responsibilities; and that all men are brothers... The endowment of reason confers on people a duty to develop themselves fully, he said, and to treat one another with generosity and respect. This outlook remains the ideal of contemporary humanism today." (106)
There can be no hope of either private individuals or even state officials being free for much longer. Yet amid all this oppression there is more free speech than ever, at any rate at social gatherings and parties. Indeed, people’s indignation is beginning to outweigh their fright; though on all sides there is nothing but utter despair.
Almost no one dances sober, unless he is insane.
There can be no hope of either private individuals or even state officials being free for much longer. Yet amid all this oppression there is more free speech than ever, at any rate at social gatherings and parties. Indeed, people’s indignation is beginning to outweigh their fright; though on all sides there is nothing but utter despair.
My views have been alienating Pompey from me? It has to stop. Since the powerless do not want to be my friends, I must make sure that the powerful are! You will say: "I wish you had done so long ago." I know that you wanted me to, and that I have been an utter fool. But now it is high time for me to be friends with myself and my own interests, since I cannot possibly be with the other lot.
The wild-beast hunts, two a day for five days were magnificent... But what pleasure can it possibly be to a man of culture, when either a puny human being is mangled by a most powerful beast, or a splendid beast is killed with a hunting spear? The last day was that of the elephants, and on that day the mob and crowd was greatly impressed, but expressed no pleasure. Indeed the result was a certain compassion and a kind of feeling that this huge beast has a fellowship with the human race.
As you know very well, there are many sorts of letter. But there is one unmistakable sort, which actually caused letter-writing to be invented in the first place, namely the sort intended to give people in other places any information which for our or their sakes they ought to know. But you certainly do not expect that sort of letter from me; since for your personal affairs you have your own private correspondents and messengers, while my own affairs can produce absolutely nothing new to report.
There are two other sorts of letter which I like very much, one intimate and humorous, the other serious and profound. I am not sure which of these genres would be more inappropriate than the other for me to employ in writing to you. Am I to send you letters full of jokes? I really do not think there is a single Roman who could make jokes in these times. And in serious vein what could Cicero possibly write about to Curio except politics? But on this subject my situation is that I dare not write what I feel and have no desire to write what I do not feel.
Since, then, there is no theme left for me to write about, I shall fall back upon my customary peroration and urge you to aim at the highest honours. True, you are faced by a formidable rival here; by which I mean the quite outstandingly optimistic expectations that people have of you. And there is only one way in which you can overcome this rival, and that is by deliberately developing, with continuous effort, the qualities needed for the great deeds which will achieve your purpose.
Do you know of any man who... can speak better than Caesar? Or anyone who makes so many witty remarks? Or whose vocabulary is so varied and yet so exact?
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
Would you ever have believed it possible that words would fail me, and not only those words you public speakers use but even my humble sort of language! But they do fail me, and this is why: because I am extraordinarily nervous about what is going to be decreed concerning the provincial governorships. My longing for Rome is quite unbounded! you could not believe how I long for my friends and most of all for yourself.
My province, on the other hand, bores me completely. This may be because the degree of distinction which I feel I have already attained in my career makes me not so much ambitious to add to it as fearful of impairing it. Or perhaps it is because the whole business is unworthy of my capacities, in comparison with the heavier burdens which I can bear and often do bear in the service of my country. Or it may be because we are menaced by the horror of a major war in these parts, which I seem likely to avoid if I leave the province on the appointed day.
The matter of the panthers is being carefully attended to by my orders through the agency of the men who make a practice of hunting them. But there are surprisingly few of the animals; and those that there are, I am told, complain that in my province they are the only living creatures for whom traps are laid! So rumour has it that they have decided to evacuate the province and live in Caria.
When I read your letter - passed to me by our friend Furnius - in which you requested me to come near Rome, it did not surprise me that you wanted to utilize my "advice and position". But I asked myself what you meant by also referring to my "influence" and "support". However, my hopes - and I based them on your outstanding and admirable statesmanship - made me conclude that what you aimed at was peace, and agreement and harmony among Romans: and for that purpose I felt that both my character and my background suited me well.
If I am right in my interpretation, and if you are at all disposed to protect our friend Pompey and reconcile him to yourself and the state, you will certainly find no one better adapted to that aim than myself. In speaking both to him and to the Senate I have always advocated peace ever since I first had the opportunity of doing so; and I have taken no part in the hostilities from their outset. My considered opinion was that the war involved an infringement 1 of your rights in view of the opposition by unfriendly and envious persons to a distinction the Roman people had conferred on you. But in just the same way as at that time I upheld your rightful position myself and also urged everyone else to help you, so now I am deeply concerned for the rightful position of Pompey.
A good many years have passed since I first chose you and him as the men whom, above all others, I proposed to support and have as my friends - as I do. So I ask you, indeed I pray and entreat you with all urgency, to spare some time - among your many grave cares - to consider this problem: how, by virtue of your kindness, can I best be enabled to behave decently, gratefully, and dutifully to Pompey, so as not to be oblivious of his great kindness towards myself? If this was a matter relating to myself alone, I should still hope that you would grant my request. However, I suggest that your honour and the national interest are also at stake; and what they demand is that I, who am a friend of peace and of you both, should receive every protection from you in my efforts to achieve a reconciliation between yourself and Pompey, and peace for the people of Rome.
I thanked you on another occasion for saving Lentulus, as he had saved me; and now, when I read the truly thankful letter in which he told me of your generosity and kindness, I feel that in rescuing him you rescued me at the same time. If you appreciate the reasons why I am under a grateful obligation to him, I beg you to give me the opportunity of fulfilling my obligation to Pompey as well.
Her (Cleopatra) way of walking... her clothes, her free way of talking, her embraces and kisses, her beach parties and dinner-parties, all show her to be a tart.
Everywhere I heard the same tale. People could not pay their taxes: they were forced to sell what they owned... However, the poor towns are relieved that they have had to spend nothing on me... For you must know that I not only refused to accept pay... but that none of us will take firewood or anything beyond our beds and a roof.
Laena (under instructions from Antony) cut off Cicero's head... He also cut off the hand with which Cicero had written his attacks on Antony... The head and hand of Cicero were suspended for a long time from the rostra in the forum where formerly he had made speeches.