CICERO, Marcus Tullius

Born: January 3, 106 B.C., in Arpinum (now Arpino), Italy

Died: December 7, 43 B.C., in Formiae (now Formia), Italy

Primarily interested in how to persuade people, Marcus Tullius Cicero was a writer, orator and Roman statesman who contributed enormously to the vocabulary and use of Latin. Cicero, also known as Tully, was born four years before Caesar. His mother had relatives in high political positions, and his father was a merchant. Between 91 and 81 B.C. he studied law, philosophy, and rhetoric with Philo, Moolon, and Diodotus the Stoic. He served in the military, but since he was not a good warrior, and opposed the use force to settle conflict, it was a brief venture. He next spent three years as a public defender, building a reputation and enjoying the public attention.

After traveling to Greece and Rome for further study, he returned to Rome in 77 B.C. and began his political career. By 74 B.C. he was elected to the Senate. He won a 64 B.C. competition for consulship rather than his more aristocratic (but less respectable) opponent Lucius Sergius Catilina ("Cataline"). While in office Cicero thwarted Catiline's plot to overthrow the government, and executed some of Catiline's accomplices. According to Caesar and other senators, however, Cicero had not given the accused due process of law, and thus he was exiled in 58 B.C.

After Cicero spent a year in Macedonia, the Roman general Pompey the Great recalled him to Rome where he was busy writing until 51 B.C. At this time he became proconsul to the province of Cicilia. The assignment was short-lived however, as he returned to Rome the next year to join Pompey's fight against Caesar. In 48 B.C. Cicero made peace with Caesar who had defeated Pompey, and the years that followed are considered to be his most prolific. During this time he created a new vocabulary of Latin philosophic terms, and contributed to discussions of Christianity, political thought, and the philosophies of Stoicism and Skepticism. His philosophical works and orations are still available today, written in the eloquent yet clear prose style that was subsequently held up as a standard for writing in Latin.

After Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C., Cicero supported Caesar's son Octavian (later known as emperor Augustus) against Marc Antony. However when Antony and Octavian resolved their dispute, Cicero was executed as an enemy of the state on December 7, 43 B.C.