Biography of Marco Tulio Cicerón (106 a. C.-43 a.C.)

Writer, orator, philosopher and Roman politician born in Arpino 3 January 106 b.c. and died in Gaeta on 7 December 43 a. C. was married to Terence until their divorce in 47, that he/she married a young woman named Publilia, though this marriage ended soon in a dream failure; with Terence had a daughter name Tulia, who died two years before Cicero, which earned him the deepest of Sorrows. The cultural circle of Cicero included slaves, among which stands out the name pull, the famous scribe who designed a peculiar system of abbreviations, whom his master spent 21 of his Epistulae family and who eventually deliver 53 considered him more a friend than a slave. Throughout his life, Cicero traveled through several countries and lived in Campania, Arpino, Formia, Tuscolo and Rome, where he/she acquired a superb mansion on the Palatine.

The work of Cicero in the course of his life

The family in which Cicero was born was an accommodated eques, who also had another son, named Fifth, which had identical training of his brother and continued his professional footsteps, although it did not enjoy the same success. One and the other were educated in Rome and, later, in Greece with their cousins; later, fulfilled their military obligations with the father of Pompey, called Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo. Soon after began his career as a lawyer, that I soon earned him an extraordinary reputation. As the famous Cato, Cicero was a homo novus, vale say no glorious ancestors who rely on to build their success. Since his youth, Cicero always lusted stand out as a perfect man of State and put his talent at the service of the cause; from this perspective, you have to understand their contribution to the study of rhetoric and philosophy and its desire to offer citizens an educational model in which the love of the homeland and a moral stoicism with his assessment of the civic virtues near primasen.

In a period marked by riots and political turmoil is not surprising the cultivation of rhetoric to reach a huge importance. This certain aristocracy had been becoming more and more clearly into an indispensable in the hands of a weapon to be able to exercise the power. The heyday of the rhetoric came peaked with Cicero, who emphasized not only as speaker but also as a theorist of the matter. During its first years, Cicero had been disciple of the most important jurists of his time and, among them, Mucius Scaevola, thanks to which he/she came into contact with the ideas of the circle of Scipio. In those early years of training, Ciceron learned to love Greek culture and have highly regarded the study of philosophy, something that would leave a deep mark on his spirit; in fact, the figure and the thought of Cicero are not understood if your devotion is not taken into consideration by the humanitas.

The term we just drop to Cicero has a double value: on the one hand, is the idea of man as a special, different from other living beings due to their ability to think and to express those thoughts; Thus, any man, who prepares it, must delve into that path and become an individual able to taste fine arts and improve their intellectual training. To do this, we need to deepen the knowledge of philosophy and, within this, in ethics; on the other hand, the humanitas must be for the benefit of others and not only of oneself; in this sense the ideal of humanitas would be a concept close to philanthropy. The ideal man is one who also cares about others; for this reason, Cicero developed a tireless activity on behalf of their fellow citizens well as politician and lawyer well as escritor-filosofo to so to communicate to others your discoveries and intellectual achievements.

As noted, his Forum debut occurred in times of Sila, with his speech pro Quinctio (81) and, a little later, his sixth Roscio Amerino pro, which put in evidence some of the evils of tyranny silana; for that reason and probably advised by his friends, Cicero decided to leave for some time Rome and directed his steps towards Athens and Rhodes to complete his training between 79 and 77 there. In the course of that trip, Cicero acquired a broader philosophical education and rhetoric, since in Rhodes he/she was together to the rhetor Molon; There he/she was to undergo a change in his style, vehement and passionate until then, to abide by the rules of the call rodia, flagship school of good taste, the containment and representative of an attitude intermediate between asianistas and aticistas.

In Greece it could follow the classes of the philosopher Posidonius , and in Izmir, he/she met Publius Rutilius Rufo. Equipped with this new knowledge, he/she returned to Rome, where, after the death of Sila, was able to continue his political career. An important moment was his quaestorship in Sicily (the appointment took it from 75 to 76), with so much honesty that earned the affection of the Sicilians, who years later sought him so he/she accused to the proconsul Verres; in 66, he/she was appointed praetor. In 70, Cicero agreed to carry out the prosecution against Verres, the famous Hortensio Defender (one of the most famous speakers of the time). The success of Cicero was enormous and, in fact, did not have to the five speeches that had been prepared, as the first one; was only necessary However, he/she decided to publish them and thus their fame is so great is even more.

Your Consulate marks the key point of his political career in the year 63 BC, during which aborted the famous Catilineconspiracy. Since that time, Cicero was hailed as saviour of the homeland and also showed his stance against the interests of the popular, who would later pass you invoice from the hand of the tribuno Clodio, César agent shadow, who got that Cicero was punished with exile precisely for his performance in the trial against Catiline. It was only out of Rome a year and upon his return with force restarted their speaking activity to thank to the Senate or to attack those who had acted against (In Pisonem). Anyway, the political situation in Rome, full of tension, not allowed it to regain leading role had been played before, as seen in his defense of Milon (Pro Milone), charged with the murder of the its erstwhile enemy Clodius at the beginning of the 52. Finally, Cicero went as Governor to Cilicia (51-50) and the political crisis worsened with the decision of César of crossing the Rubicon, which kicked off a new civil war.

These were difficult times for our speaker and politician, who in his correspondence shows their uncertainties and doubts about which of the two contenders, César or Pompey, deserved more support. Finally bowed by the Pompeian side, the more conservative of the two, on the idea that it was he/she who best represented the ideals of the old Republic (see Rome: Republican era); However, when things began to go wrong for Pompey, Cicero overturned its policy and began to ask for the forgiveness of César, who delighted the support they could provide you with a character from the size and prestige of Cicero. In gratitude and to gain their confidence, Cicero returned to use his eloquence to the new dictator of Rome and thus came out of his pen his three speeches caesarean (Pro frame Marcelo, fifth Pro Ligario, and Pro rege Deiotaro).

After the murder of César (44), Cicero thought he/she saw a new opportunity to recover its former political weight and lashed out with force the young Marco Antonio in his 14 speeches entitled Filipicas (the first speech is on September 2, 44, while the latter one is April 21, 43;) with this great work you got not only earn the enmity of Marco Antonio, who finally could take revenge by getting that Cicero was sentenced to death. He/She found death in the year 43 at the hands of soldiers sent by Marco Antonio, who claimed as a trophy head and the hand of the speaker to be able to expose them in the Forum.

Cicero, rhetoric, politician and philosopher

Rhetorical treatises

So linked to political action oratory allowed Cicero think about the quality and scope of his eloquence, with what began as a rhetorical art theoretician. Thus, in his youth he/she had composed a brief manual in two books, the De inventione, which makes a very technical approach to the matter and work which is perhaps only the outline of a broader treaty; later his thinking matured and wanted to reflect on the role of rhetoric and the speaker within the city. The speaker, starting from their own experience, acquired a leading role for him and is also defined as a loving man of good and of virtue, which acquires an important moral dimension.

The speaker is, therefore, an individual who must be well versed in the most varied disciplines; It must be an expert in literature, art, philosophy, law and history, because all these are indispensable knowledge to those who will need to draw on numerous occasions; In addition, it must be also an artist of the word to be able to convince and, first of all, a true philosopher, able to find the true and useful arguments. Cicero lambastes the style overly adorned (though recommended the intelligent use of rhythmic prose), as do the Attici or Asiatici; at the same time, it should be the embodiment of the theory of the three styles (high, medium and low, that the speaker will alternate with tino in his speech), that at all times they should be flectere, proved and delectare.

All these ideas emerge and are emerging in their treaties of maturity: in three books of the De oratore (55) and the complementary Orator; that should also add their dialogue Brutus or Claris oratoribus, traces a history of oratory in which Roman until his days; in the same area fall of optimo genere oratorum, which is a preface to a translation of the speeches in the Greek language of Crown; the topical, written for Trebatius which spends magazine to loci communes; and the Oratoriae oratoriae, composed by way of answers to the questions of your child on the office of the speaker.

From theory to practice rhetorical

The oratorical style of Cicero won and was admired by the following generations as a classical style, one that was used to make molds; However we must not lose sight of who Cicero also had his detractors, especially among the Group of so-called aticistas, who sought to take as a model the style penthouse you Lysias, simple and clear of excesses and embellishments. Cicero railed against this trend and opposed to Lysias model of Demosthenes, true Summit of attic oratory, according to his own opinion. Cicero thus created a style marked by rounded, by excessive formal care periods and, sometimes, not rejecting lay your hands on the most pathetic and convoluted effects when I wanted to get impress and move to the public; at the same time, pursuant to this desire to achieve those goals, his style could be extremely simple, both in reality as that suggested their opponents aticistas.

Ultimately, Cicero defended a middle line between those aticistas and commonly known by asianistas, representatives of a rhetoric that emerged during Hellenism in Asia minor and characterized by the use (and sometimes abuse) of linguistic and stylistic, resources what was, in the view of his detractors, in speeches highly contrived, bombastic and devoid of good taste in search of excess. Regarding his use of language, Cicero experienced throughout his life which led him to set guidelines for what he/she considered the true sermo urbanus, the "citizen-style", away entirely from the sermo rusticus of peasants. Thus, operated a desire to eliminate the archaisms and terms that were considered vulgar to achieve a refined and cultured, language with a careful pace in sentences, which moved away of some tricks so strictly Latino as the anaphora or repetitions aimed to create a rhythmic sense. Cicero defended this ideology in his theoretical writings, but expressed it clearly in their own orationes.

Altogether, we know today 58 speeches by Cicero, some of them fragmentary; on the other hand, critics estimated lost orationes figure arrives at 48. That we have received are as follows (the year of composition is indicated between brackets): Pro Quinctio (81), Pro Sex. Roscio Amerino (80), Pro Roscio Comoedo (do 77?), In Caecilium Divinatio (70), In Verrem Act. I II (70), Pro Tullio (69), Pro Fonteio (69), Pro Caecina (69), Pro Lege Manilia (66), Pro Cluentio (66), against Rullum I-III (63), Pro C. Rabirio perduellionis reo (63), In Catilinam I-IV (63), Pro Murena (63), Pro Sulla (62), Pro Archia (62), Pro Flacco (59), Post reditum ad Quirites (56), Post reditum in Senate (57), De Domo sua (57), De Haruspicum responso (56)Pro Sestio (56), In Vatinium (56), Pro Caelio (56), Prov. of cons. (56), pro Balbo (56), In Pisonem (55), Pro Plancio (54), Pro Rabinio Postumo (54), Pro Milone (52), Pro Marcello (46), Pro Ligario (46), Pro Rege Deiotaro (45) and Philippicae I-XIV (44-43).

Philosophical work

Besides this facet as a theoretician and politician Cicero devoted part of his time to noble love of philosophy, just at the time in which the political situation didn't allow him to pursue his favorite activity, Cicero found that also could be useful if your leisure (otium) dedicated to the noble task of philosophizing. Thus, not only was devoted to translate to latin some Platonic dialogues, which helped forge a non-existent philosophical Latin language up to that time; on other occasions also discussed, from a particular perspective (fairly eclectic by the way), some of the topics for discussion of the Platonists, peripatetics, stoic and Epicurean philosophers. Criticism tends to divide this section of his work in two periods, before and after his appointment as Governor in Cilicia (district located in the southern part of Asia minor); After this fact, his work of ethical, theological and epistemological matter composed on the short side between February of 45 and 44 November.

The decision to write about philosophy had to assert itself after the death of his daughter Tullia in 45, that encouraged the composition of two works now lost: the Consolatio and the Hortensius, text that encourages the study of philosophy that deeply touched San Agustín five centuries later; Apart, we know the loss of almost all of the material from academic, advocacy of stoicism he/she wrote immediately after. All indications are that the initial phase of its work as a philosopher is the Paradoxa Stoicorum (46), which followed the review of the principle of the summum bonum et malum in De finibus bonorum et malorum; After he/she wrote several conferences on the major human problems from the perspective of stoicism and arranged in the Tusculanae disputationes.

In the Group's philosophical works have to sign several treaties on religious matters: the De divinatione, written in two books that deal with the fate and the predictions and have framed the House of Cicero in Tuscolo; altogether, part of Greek sources. Second, comes the De natura deorum, which dedicated itself to rough and composed in three books, which focus from a different perspective: that of the Stoics, Epicureans and academics; in them, discussed about the nature of the gods. Finally, this group of writings belongs Fato, work that remains fragmented (missing the beginning and end) and which was written shortly after the death of César; Here, in the House that Cicero had in Puzol as framework, discusses the seminal principle of the relationship between free will and destiny or predeterminismo, among other similar issues.

Very important for their maturity and subsequent dissemination are the three treatises entitled De officiis, De amicitia (also called Laelius de amicitia) and De senectute (also known as Cato Maior de senectute). In De officiis, the form adopted is that of the Charter and the design is that of a treaty in three books, dedicated to his son Marco, where we review the relationship and the differences between the useful and the ethical; Here, as elsewhere, the Greek sources are essential. Amicitia is a dialogue dedicated to Tito Pomponio penthouse and has as fellow members to Lelio and his sons-in-law, C. Fanio, and Q. Mucio Scaevola; Here, explains what is friendship and exalts its value, cementing the set of interventions on different Greek authors. Dialogue De senectute is dedicated to Tito Pomponio attic and as characters Marco Caton, Emiliano Scipio and Gaius Laelius; in it, Cicero, by the mouth of Caton, refutes to many postulate that old age is odious for three reasons: retire from active life, depriving us of the pleasures and closer to death. The dialogue is also steeped of Greek authorities, who cited continuously throughout the text.

Within this activity as a philosopher, Cicero also had a gap to theorize about politics in their Treaty De re publica (51) and De legibus, where once more is presented to us as a new Roman Plato. In all this work, is clear evidence of the Stoic thought of Cicero. The De re publica designed it as a dialogue in nine days between Scipio Emiliano, Lelio, Philo, Manilius, Q. Tuberón, Fr. Rutilio, Fannio, and Scaevola; However, Cicero only came to write two of the nine books that had in mind, including the Somnium Scipionis, which had free life thanks to Macrobius. His pragmatism led him to go one step further than the famous philosopher Athenian and the utopian world of the Platonic Republic, Cicero considered that Rome can be erected as a model of perfect state, to give the blend between the different types of Government: monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy. The second of two treaties, De legibus, only fragmentary remains and reflects an interesting discussion about the relationship between religion and the law.

The epistolary corpus

This huge production is also complemented by his Epistles, a group formed by the 35 books of letters addressed to his fifth brother, his friend attic, gross and other well-known and familiar; with them, Cicero became also unknowingly in the creator of a new literary genre that would have great success in the next generation. Centuries later, already in the Trecento, the recovery of the whole of the ciceronianas letters (the family Epistulae, the Epistulae ad Atticum, in addition to the targeted ad Quintum fratrem and ad Brutum) might bring important transformations in Western literature, from years of Petrarca in forward.

Of the family, was same jerk who has published 16 books; other 16 books constitute the body of those directed to attic; He/She devoted himself to his fifth brother a total of 27 letters known; Finally, correspondence with rough, there are other 25 cards. Altogether, the criticism has had 99 different recipients and has set a chronological spectrum ranging from 68 to 43. Stand a few extraordinarily neat pieces, while others are of a remarkable oversight and would have surely never been broadcast have mediated the will of who wrote them in the corpus. In any case, the desire of Cicero by agavillar a small selection of his Epistles to give them to interested readers is a decision of an extraordinary modernity, as reflected in one of the letters to penthouse (16, 5. 5).

The Ciceronian poetry

Finally not have to forget, if only in passing, the love of Cicero by poetry, which led him to compose a number of poems and defend the enormous importance of the poets within the State in one of his speeches, the Pro Archia, (this switched on defense of poetry calaría deep into the European humanists from Petrarch onwards). At the beginning was particularly related to new stylistic budgets of its time with its translation in hexametros of the work of Arato, a 3rd century Alexandrian poet to. C.; specifically, translated the Phaenomena, with two parts: the Aratus and the Northwest. At other times, was translating different Greek poets, from Homer onwards, to adorn his speeches. After face Arato verses, and in line with its trend towards more conservative positions, Cicero was launched to the composition of poems in the traditional style of Enio.

The hexametro used to sing his own exploits in the De consulatu suo (of this poem, it has retained a small piece with 72 verses) and De temporibus suis; He/She even think about composing a commemorative poem of the exploits of César in Britain; Plutarch is mentioned to an epic text of youth, the Glaucus Pontius, of which nothing is known; titles (and nothing more than that) can be added to these texts cited by Capitol in July. Compared to all of the above, the wording of his epic poem Marius should be considered a work of maturity. As you want it to be, it is very little what we have left of all this literary activity, and despite the fame which had among its contemporaries and the testimony of Plutarch about ease as versificador, his verses are little bright compared to the of the young poetae novi, by those who own Cicero did not show too much appreciation (a reciprocal senseIt must be said). That negative judgement is common in current criticism, dealing only with this great prose poetry because it shows the State of evolution of the hexametro between Enio and Virgil.

Cicero and the seed of his work

This great prose writer was never a stranger to the West, which took in the whole of his work one of their most solid cultural bases; However, there was a long period of forgetfulness and loss and a gradual recovery of his works. The start of the claim to Cicero started at the beginning of the 4th century, which many scholars consider an authentic Ciceronian aetas; from there, the whole of his work became filter of Christianity and was integrated in the school curriculum. The recovery of several of the speeches of Cicero became a key company for the development of European literature, as happened in the case of the Pro Archia, it moved to Petrarch to compose his own defense of the office of the poet and poetry in general in their Invective against Medicum.

Books of rhetoric, the middle ages knew in depth the De inventione (Rhetorica vetus), built by St. Isidore of Seville to his etymologies, translated and poured into French by Brunetto Latini in his trésor and romanceado Spanish by Alfonso de Cartagena in the first half of the 15th century; Apart, attributed you throughout this period the Rhetorica ad Herennium (Rhetorica nova). These two works formed the primary basis of the teaching of rhetoric in the middle ages according to the pattern of the seven liberal arts; only humanists philological advances brought already at the end of the middle ages, the Orator, the De oratore and Brutus, who accompanied the cited works and the widespread topical.

In the same way, West continued appreciating the value of philosophical De senectute, De amicitia, and De officiis, although Petrarch was only able to recover other additional values of this triad, which put into close relationship with the letters corpus, with the rhetorical treatises and speeches; Anyway, it was still his moral message, responding to the circumstances of the time (for those years, Moral philosophy was incorporated into the school curriculum), which encouraged to devour the De senectute with true passion, read like a manual of good practices; to do so, could be join his way through dialogue, wonderful for the Renaissance reader since age onwards of Petrarca. Similarly, the De officiis came to abound in that same message to put emphasis on the ideals of the honest and the virtus.

The figure who wrote this large corpus only met since the mid-14th century, thanks to the biography of Plutarch, newly recovered author for the West; so far, however, all he/she knew about Túlio (a name that was commonly known during the middle ages) derived from his own work. Of course, the main source of information had it in his Epistles, recovered late (those directed to Penthouse and fifth began to spread them paduanas prehumanistas circle since the beginning of the 14th century, while knowledge of the Epistulae ad family was almost completely on the discovery of Coluccio Salutati and further philological work carried out in 1392)where Cicero reflects his noblest thoughts at the time showing some of their thoughts more clearly marked by the pettiness and selfishness; that reading derived initial surprise and subsequent disappointment of Petrarca on your most beloved author together to San Agustín.

Reading and study of Cicero has been an obligation for any educated person from those years to the present day; However, there was a second golden age for our author in the years of full humanism and Renaissance, in which gelled in Europe the ideal of the ciceronianismo or imitation wishful thinking of Cicero. Of course, to that trend, animated by Lorenzo Valla or, subsequently, by Erasmus of Rotterdam (author in the Ciceronianus 1528), was followed by an inevitable anticiceronianismo that imprison other so many intellectuals of stature, such as Angelo Poliziano. Entered the 16th century, it became calm and Cicero was as still in the cultural landscape of the West: as a pinnacle of classical Latin literature, with exciting pages and prose of great beauty.


BATHROOMS, J.M. Cicero, Madrid, 2000.

Cicero, M.T. speeches. Madrid, Gredos, 1990. Foreword by Miguel Rodríguez-Pantoja Márquez. Translation of José María Prieto Requejo.