Jump to content
UNRV Ancient Roman Empire Forums
  • Time Travel Rome

Primus Pilus

Cicero, Great Statesman Or Over-rated

Recommended Posts

The ideal of the republic has smashed autocracies all over the world, and those ideals have yielded a superpower the likes of which no monarch has ever hoped to attain. In the end, Cicero's ideals were victorious on a scale even he could not imagine.

 

Cicero has no bearing on modern republics and he didn't create the Roman republic either. He was just a crook trying to live of it, and he did fail at the end, Rome turned it's back on Cicero's ideals.

 

90% of Cicero's little importance to history is his opposition to Caesar, the same goes for Cato, but he was also popular because of his name and grandfather. From the Caesar haters or opposition, the only one who could stand on his own accomplishments is Pompey.

 

Look around trex.

 

I like my new name, that would make me the Tyrant Dictator.

Edited by tflex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cicero has no bearing on modern republics

 

Really, do you know anything about the founding of the American republic or the political thought of the American founders or where they came up with the ideas of divided government or drew their philosophical inspiration? Have you ever bothered to pick up the Tusculan Disputations or any of Cicero's letters or any of his writings on political philosophy?

 

In early American history, Cicero was more widely read and more influential than any other political thinker, including perhaps John Locke. Jefferson was a tremendous admirer of Cicero, modelling his life on Cicero's, and he considered the jewels of his immense library to be the 40 volumes of Cicero that he later donated to the Library of Congress. James Madison cites "Tully" with more reverence than Jesus. According to John Adams, "All ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher combined." Cicero was not only required reading at Harvard and every university in early America, being able to recite Cicero in Latin was a minimum requirement for entry.

 

To say that Cicero's ideals have no bearing on modern republics is a statement of ignorance so vast... well, respect for this forum prevents me from saying anything more to you on this topc. Your chronic and willful indifference to historical facts make conversation with you pointless.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cicero has no bearing on modern republics

 

Really, do you know anything about the founding of the American republic or the political thought of the American founders or where they came up with the ideas of divided government or drew their philosophical inspiration? Have you ever bothered to pick up the Tusculan Disputations or any of Cicero's letters or any of his writings on political philosophy?

 

In early American history, Cicero was more widely read and more influential than any other political thinker, including perhaps John Locke. Jefferson was a tremendous admirer of Cicero, modelling his life on Cicero's, and he considered the jewels of his immense library to be the 40 volumes of Cicero that he later donated to the Library of Congress. James Madison cites "Tully" with more reverence than Jesus. According to John Adams, "All ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher combined." Cicero was not only required reading at Harvard and every university in early America, being able to recite Cicero in Latin was a minimum requirement for entry.

 

To say that Cicero's ideals have no bearing on modern republics is a statement of ignorance so vast... well, respect for this forum prevents me from saying anything more to you on this topc. Your chronic and willful indifference to historical facts make conversation with you pointless.

 

Cicero didn't make the Roman republic, which is used as a model in modern republics today. As for people admiring him, although I find it revolting to admire such a person of emmense hypocrisy, admiring him is not enough to credit him as a model for modern republics, if you are going to use that logic Cato, then you would have to credit Caesar with modern militaries, tactics, startegies, achievements and warfare, in that case though Caesar contributed much so he deserves the credit.

 

Cato it's not historical facts, it's your selective memory. Cicero's long lasting achievements for the Roman empire were his oratory, his political ideals didn't go anywhere.

Edited by tflex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, a newbie here. I recently got interested in Roman history (thanks to Rome TV series, I must admit) and this is a great place.

 

From little things that I've learned since, I find Cicero most interesting figure since he's most accessible. So far my impression is that he did things for his own vanity as much as for Republic. It's quite surprising that he was thought of as paragon of virtue for such a long time. Only excuse I can think of is that it was different time. In fact, when I think about it, this is true of almost everyone including Caesar. Although Cicero doesn't quite meet our lofty, idealistic standard we expect of our heroes, he was perhaps more sincere in his cause than anyone else among major players.

 

It may be pure luck that so much of his writings are extant, but maybe they survived because there were so many copies of them. One thing that I find most universally agreed on by historians is that he was without peer as an orator and advocate and that his influence on Latin prose and subsequently European literature was enormous.

 

Anyway, the real reason I'm posting here:

 

I'm surprised that there isn't any talk here about a new novel on Cicero. Imperium, by Robert Harris, is coming out on Sept. 15th (It's already out in UK). It's getting rave reviews across the pond. Supposedly, Harris is planning a trilogy on Cicero's life, and Imperium covers up to his election as consul.

Here you can read the opening paragraphs as well as links to some of the reviews.

And here you can read Chapter 2 and 3.

Sounds interesting.

 

PS: And a question, here. I read that first triumvirate offered Cicero to join them at the time. Was that as 4th member or as one of hangers-on?

Edited by theilian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm surprised that there isn't any talk here about a new novel on Cicero. Imperium, by Robert Harris, is coming out on Sept. 15th (It's already out in UK). It's getting rave reviews across the pond. Supposedly, Harris is planning a trilogy on Cicero's life, and Imperium covers up to his election as consul.

[url http://blog.arlt.co.uk/blog/_archives/2006/9/3/2292320.html]Here [/url]you can read the opening paragraphs as well as links to some of the reviews.

Here you can read Chapter 2 and 3.

Sounds interesting.

 

Well, its a novel so they tend not to get much attention in the historical part of the site. However, I was very impressed with Harris' Pompeii and am awaiting the impending arrival of an 'Imperium' review copy.

 

PS: And a question, here. I read that first triumvirate offered Cicero to join them at the time. Was that as 4th member or as one of hangers-on?

 

The first triumvirate is a bit of a misnomer. Clearly there were 3 power players, but it was also a factional coalition with many members beyond the three. It was never labelled a triumvirate nor held any official governing status, but the term was coined as such in light of the actual triumviri of Octavianus, Antonius and Lepidus. Cicero could've joined the alliance and possibly even been a moderating influence if his politics were in more general agreement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The first triumvirate is a bit of a misnomer. Clearly there were 3 power players, but it was also a factional coalition with many members beyond the three. It was never labelled a triumvirate nor held any official governing status, but the term was coined as such in light of the actual triumviri of Octavianus, Antonius and Lepidus. Cicero could've joined the alliance and possibly even been a moderating influence if his politics were in more general agreement.

 

Thank you, but I am curious what kind of position or influence Cicero was being offered at the time. If I remember correctly, it was soon after consulship when he was at the zenith of prominence, but still I don't know if he would have been regarded as their equal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
From little things that I've learned since, I find Cicero most interesting figure since he's most accessible. So far my impression is that he did things for his own vanity as much as for Republic.

Welcome to our humble abode. What you have observed is indeed true, but this could be said of any public figure, the concept is known as Dignitas. It is easy to fall into the trap of translating it as "Dignity", but it is in reallity so much more. Think of it as personal influence, the more you have the more likely you'll be elected for office/post, the higher you go the more Clientella you have, therefore, more political influence. He was a middle of the road politician who advocated accord with the senate as the supreme body, but alas, the roman revolution was too polarized to accomodate such. Perhaps if he had been born earlier he could have impacted events.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nonetheless, so dignified was he, I'm sure the Rostra was immeasurably ennobled by his severed head hanging as ornament.

HAHAHAHA...Never noticed this post...Awesome!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you, but I am curious what kind of position or influence Cicero was being offered at the time. If I remember correctly, it was soon after consulship when he was at the zenith of prominence, but still I don't know if he would have been regarded as their equal.

 

I know of no ancient source attesting to Cicero's being offered anything by the triumvirs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, but I am curious what kind of position or influence Cicero was being offered at the time. If I remember correctly, it was soon after consulship when he was at the zenith of prominence, but still I don't know if he would have been regarded as their equal.

 

I know of no ancient source attesting to Cicero's being offered anything by the triumvirs.

 

But according to Britannia Encylopedia,

At the end of 60, Cicero declined Caesar's invitation to join the political alliance of Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey, which he considered unconstitutional,...

 

And according to this very website,

Many leading men were involved, such as Lucius Lucceius and Lucius Calpurnius Piso, whose daughter Calpurnia Caesar later married. The great orator Cicero was even asked to participate in forming this 'majority' style government but he refused to side with his boni companions. Even without Cicero, the alliance was formed in late 60 BC, and remarkably remained a secret for some time.

 

And according to some other website,

The arrangement Caesar made between Pompey, Crassus, and himself is best known today as the "First Triumvirate" even though it was not a legal entity like the Second Triumvirate was. The three "triumvirs" had hoped to bring the silver-tongued Cicero in to make it a foursome, but to his credit Cicero could not be conned in to joining.

 

Somewhere else, I even read that Cicero decided not to join after much vacillation, so I assumed that there was some ancient source such as his letters, but I guess it may just be an educated guess, and one might add, very reasonable guess. :ph34r:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And according to this very website,
Many leading men were involved, such as Lucius Lucceius and Lucius Calpurnius Piso, whose daughter Calpurnia Caesar later married. The great orator Cicero was even asked to participate in forming this 'majority' style government but he refused to side with his boni companions. Even without Cicero, the alliance was formed in late 60 BC, and remarkably remained a secret for some time.

 

I can only comment on my own passage...

 

My assertion is based largely on Cicero's comments in various letters. It's rather veiled, and my intention was simply to show that his inclusion would've been desirable. Caesar did offer Cicero a position as a legate in his upcoming Gallic campaign (Plutarch says Cicero asked for it and Cicero says that Caesar asked him) but its unclear whether this was an attempt to protect Cicero from Clodius or an indication of inclusion into the larger alliance. Later 19th century historians such as Frank Frost Abbott, Edward Spencer Beesly, J.B. Greenough & G.L. Kittredge are quite supportive of the notion that Cicero was asked to join.

 

At any rate, in reading my own extract there, I am going to make a minor edit to reflect the possibility, rather than the fact.

 

My slight alteration reads as follows...

The great orator Cicero, due to his association with Pompey and relative influence, was likely asked to participate in forming this 'majority' style government but if so, he clearly chose to separate himself and refused to participate. Without Cicero, the alliance was formed in late 60 BC, and remarkably remained a secret for some time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a little something:

 

"Yet what would history say of me in six hundred years time? For that is a thing which I fear more than the idle chatter of men alive today." -Cicero April 59 BC, ad Att. 2.5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have always admired Cicero. I always have seen him as a great statesman standing up for the ideals of the Republic particularly to Caesar. Even though he was on the losing side on this particular occasion. :ph34r::wine: So I do not really think he was over rated.

Edited by AEGYPTUS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have always admired Cicero. I always have seen him as a great statesman standing up for the ideals of the Republic particularly to Caesar. Even though he was on the losing side on this particular occasion. :lol:;) So I do not really think he was over rated.

Wrong guy...Cicero didn't do much standing upto anyone, he made one speech against the triumvirate then found himself on the run within a couple of months..I think only 1 or 2 of his Philipics were delivered in person. He never 'stoodup' to Caesar, but counted Caesar as a personal friend. Are you getting mixedup with Anthony, or perhaps Cato?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's one thing I have a hard time understanding. Sure Cicero could be acting as the moderate, balancing out both sides, but he seems to have suported Caesar beyond the norm, during times when he was vulnerable. Maybe he felt Caesar would help balance out Pompey and Crassus by having an additional big name in the mix. Perhaps it would have worked too, had Crassus not died.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Map of the Roman Empire

×