Marcus Cicero was born into a very low-income family that wasn’t even in Rome. He moved to Rome. He married his wife, a very important woman, giving him a leg up into politics. It was through that he could then do his speechwriting. He would then make these incredible speeches, which made him famous. That made him the most important person in Rome at the time.
The way politics at the time was quite complicated. Cicero started his career as a lawyer and changed the legal system in Rome. He could be catapulted into more of a political scene from being a lawyer. Cicero dabbled in a couple of different philosophies. He created his own thing, but he takes off two different philosophies.
Books about Cicero allow you to focus on the life, ideas, and impact of a prominent figure from ancient Rome. It offers a deeper understanding of history, politics, rhetoric, ethics, and literature while providing insights and lessons that can be applied to your personal and intellectual growth.
5 Books About Cicero (Roman Philosopher Biography)
Marcus Tullius Cicero was a powerful politician in ancient Rome who staunchly defended the Republic through its final decline. He is one of the finest lawyers in history, and there’s no doubt he strongly claims to be named humankind’s greatest orator.
Cicero was also a prolific author and philosopher. He was not an accomplished soldier and dedicated his life to his country, a viewpoint a U.S. marine can understand. Here are five books on Cicero.
Imperium is the second book of the Cicero trilogy. The first main point about these three books is that they’re about Cicero at the height of his career. We see him climb to the height of his career at the beginning of Imperium. Also, he hits the peak and then his downfall throughout the book. These books are set during the first century B.C. when Rome wasn’t an empire.
Rome was a republic. But that means that emperors ran the Roman Empire. They didn’t use the word emperor, but one person was in charge, whereas the Republic was more democratic. There was the Senate, and they all had to say everything.
So this is during the time though Caesar hadn’t been stabbed yet. This was before then, and it’s about all the political unrest surrounding Cicero. A great device that Robert Harris uses throughout these three books is that it’s written by Cicero, a slave who is this guy called Terra.
The Terra is famous for its incredible shorthand. Throughout the books, he’s constantly brought around with Cicero to do these shorthands in meetings or the Senate. He writes it because he’s almost a fly on the wall, like he’s everywhere, but nobody sees him, even though he is Cicero’s trusty slave. Terra was writing the story because Cicero’s rise to power was highly extraordinary for the time. So we finally get a 360 view of Cicero through this writing and Terra himself. It’s a fascinating portrayal.
The book goes through his cases of arguing like a lawyer. As the book progresses, you will learn about his political career, and then it’s his downfall. It’s also him fleeing Rome, having to deal with his wife. She either supports Cicero or screams at him like she doesn’t have her own. Harris uses in his favor to maneuver the story along without Cicero speaking. There was a lot of civil unrest, and Cicero Interior allegedly had to flee by the last book.
Author: Robert Harris
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Historical Literary Fiction & Thrillers
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle
2. Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician
Anthony Everitt is a huge classical, especially Roman scholar, and his works are well known, some of his other titles being Augustus, for example. Cicero is a biography of Cicero, which is a huge undertaking. Anthony Everett does a good job portraying Cicero as a real-life person, as he had flaws, weaknesses, and strengths like everybody.
In some ways, he’s tried to make almost most of Cicero’s flaws, such as his venality and positive traits. It almost seems he’s trying to put Cicero on a pedestal or venerate his work’s subject. Sometimes, it comes across as Cicero can do no wrong. That takes away a little bit from the narrative.
The author almost sensed the dry spells coming along in intersperses that point in the narrative with Roman history topics pertinent to understanding the context of Cicero’s life. So in that sense, he almost turns that negative into a slight positive. The good contextual background gives you insights into Roman life that many people might not know, especially if they haven’t read much of Roman history. It is the best book on Cicero, so you must check it out.
Author: Anthony Everitt
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Category: Ancient Rome Biographies, Classical Roman History
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD
3. Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius
When we think about stoicism, we think about a philosophy etched in time and doesn’t apply to us all today. In this book, Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hansman break down the key figures behind the stoic philosophy and how they embodied their philosophy within their own lives. Some key figures included Zeno, Marcus Tullius Cicero, Crispus, Tipota Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, and they showed how they put their philosophy into practice throughout their lives.
Stoicism deals with things we all face, like how to raise a family, deal with emotional instability, and confront mortality. Lives of The Stoics is ideally suited to anyone with a pre-existing idea about stoic philosophy. It goes quite in-depth for someone who knows little about the philosophy. However, I recommend getting this book if you’re interested in the historical figures behind the stoic philosophy.
Author: Ryan Holiday
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Category: Greek & Roman Philosophy
Available: Audiobook | Hardcover | Kindle
Dictator is the third book in the Cicero trilogy, which covers the life of Cicero. This is his last 15 years, from 58 B.C. to 43 B.C. So we get the cover from his exile to his death. The novel starts with seeing Cicero going into exile. As it turns out, he didn’t become independent. He stayed a slave instead, becoming free later in the book.
The book’s first part is called Exile, from 58 B.C. to 47 B.C. We see Cicero being in exile in many different ways during this time. We get to see him escaping the wrath of Claudius, who is terrorizing the Senate, and he tries to find shelter in Sicily from a friend. He travels to Macedonia, where he’s not allowed to stay as he now has an enemy as governor. But he has a friend somewhere near, which will enable him to stay in hiding there, and he stays in hiding. He switches the place once and, eventually, a couple of gladiators.
One of them is Milo comes along and says he wants to meet Cicero, and he says that Pompeii has proposed that Cicero returns. It is understood that Pompeii is getting tired of Claudius terrorizing them now. Everyone is turning against Claudius for Cicero to return to Rome. He has to reconcile with Caesar. Cicero has to deal with Claudius, so he turns Rufus’s former protege against Claudius through some tribal tinkering.
Eventually, there’s a trial between Rufous and Claudius, and Claudia Cicero uses this great witticism to humiliate Claudia and cause her to disappear out of existence. So he strongly implies her different promiscuity. He makes some jokes where he misspoke and says that Claudia is his lover instead of the brother of Claudia. So this is an excellent book on the end of the Roman Republic. Robert Harris is a great writer. He knows how to make the reading experience here enjoyable.
Author: Robert Harris
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Historical Thrillers & Suspense
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Mass Market Paperback
5. On Duties
On Duties is a guide to conducting obligations and decision-making. Marcus had a large allowance and began to neglect his education. Instead, he drank too much and perhaps gave in to the temptations around him. The overall central theme is that no immoral act can ever be practical. Cicero tackles an immense number of topics. Many of these topics are addressed using examples his son could easily understand. Today, most of these examples would fly over the head of even someone with an advanced college education.
However, the translator has put significant effort into understanding what Cicero is trying to tell us when using these now-obscure references. Once we understand, we begin to see the depth and wisdom of Cicero’s words. Thus, all who propose to take charge of political affairs should adhere to the following two Platonic principles. One is that they should guard the interests of the citizens in such a way that not everything they do. They place their interests.
Second, to those of the people and two that care for the people as a whole rather than the interests of one faction over the common good. This management of the affairs of a republic must be carried out for the benefit of those whom such a guardian is tasked with protecting and not for the benefit of the Guardian himself. Those who look after the interests of one part of the population and neglect the other parts introduce a pernicious element in civil affairs, sedition, and discord.
Cicero covers justice, friendship, bravery, courage, knowledge, wisdom, judgment, and more. All this is in the first three books, which Cicero files under moral goodness. Book two primarily covers advantageousness, with the third devoted to what one should do when moral goodness conflicts. At one time, this book was popular in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Author: Quintus Curtius
Average Rating: 4.9/5
Category: Philosophy of Ethics & Morality
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle
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