Tagged: Cicero

Cicero

I recently added some texts from the ancient Roman politician and philosopher Cicero (106 – 43 BC) to this blog. Cicero rose to the highest political offices in Rome, and he defended the Roman Republic, a limited version of democracy within an oligarchy, against various attempts by individuals and small groups to usurp power. He saw the rise of Caesar, and was present at his assassination in the Senate, but he was not one of conspirators. In the volatile political situation after Caesars’ death, he gave speeches in which he tried to defend the Senate and the Republican System against the revenge of Mark Antony,...

Cicero on Just War

The conditions for Just War have been debated for centuries: it must be fought by a legal and recognized authority, eg, a government. The cause of the war must be just. The war must be fought with the intention to establish good or correct evil, and there must be a reasonable chance of success. The war must be the last resort (after all diplomatic negotiations have been tried and failed), and only sufficient force must be used. Civilians should not be involved or targeted. One of the first philosophers discussing the conditions for just war is Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 – 43...

Cicero: In Verrem

In Verrem (“Against Verres”) is a series of speeches made by Cicero in 70 BC, during the corruption and extortion trial of Gaius Verres, the former governor of Sicily. The speeches made Cicero famous. This is the only known case where he acted as prosecutor. Verres basically plundered Sicily as governor, and he went into exile before the case came to a verdict. Thus Cicero, who opened the prosecution by simply presenting the witnesses and their damning stories, never got to make his speeches, but he published them later anyway. Here are some excerpts of the text:   In Verrem, I, 1-6 I think...

Cicero: A Remarkable Life (106 – 43 BC)

The following description of Cicero’s life is mainly quoted from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. There is also a short description of his life in the context of ancient political philosophy at the Stanford Encyclopedia. The ancient historian Plutarch wrote a long biography of him in 75 CE, which you can find at the MIT Classics Archive.  Cicero’s political career was remarkable. In his times, high political offices in Rome, though technically achieved by winning elections, were almost exclusively controlled by a group of wealthy aristocratic families that had held them for many generations. Cicero’s family was aristocratic, but did...

Cicero: First Speech against Catilina

The speech was given in 63 BC before the Roman Senate. The following quote from the Perseus Digital Library first summarizes the political background, then reprints the text of the speech.  THE ARGUMENT. Lucius Catiline, a man of noble extraction, and who had already been praetor, had been a competitor of Cicero’s for the consulship; the next year he again offered himself for the office, practicing such excessive and open bribery, that Cicero published a new law against it, with the additional penalty of ten years’ exile; prohibiting likewise all shows of gladiators from being exhibited by a candidate within two...

Cicero: On the Best Style of Orators

This little piece was composed by Cicero as a sort of preface to his translation of the Orations of Demosthenes and Aeschines de Coronâ; the translations themselves have not come down to us. I. THERE are said to be classes of orators as there are of poets. But it is not so; for of poets there are a great many divisions; for of tragic, comic, epic, lyric, and also of dithyrambic poetry, which has been more cultivated by the Latins, each kind is very different from the rest. Therefore in tragedy anything comic is a defect, and in comedy anything...