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Cicero, Great Statesman Or Over-rated

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.Cicero didn't do much standing upto anyone

 

Verres, Hortensius, Cato, Catiine, Clodius--Cicero took them all on. Rather hard to see how Cicero could have spent a lifetime in the law courts not "standing up to anyone"....

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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.

 

 

Put aside your Strawman. The argument has nothing to do with who invented the republic, but whether or not Ciceros arguments and writings influenced the development of modern republican governments.

 

Admiring him not enough to credit him as an influence? If the admiration was idle or academic, yes, but Cato has already provided several examples of framers whose political thought was molded in part by his. Your analogy to Caesar is flawed because it is based on the ideas, refuted above, that Cicero is being established as the primary founding character and that this claim is backed by idle or whistful admiration as opposed to actual intellectual influence.

 

If then we have established that Cicero and his ideas were an influence on the American founders, and thereby on the founders of later republics as well, we can safely agree that his ideals have moved along to a very great somewhere indeed.

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Welcome, M. Tullius Cicero! If only your namesake had had a Cicero like yourself to defend him...

 

Please post often--with commentary, questions, arguments and theses.

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"He was a learned man, dear child, a learned man who loved his country." --- Augustus.

 

But one on the wrong side of history. Nonetheless, so dignified was he, I'm sure the Rostra was immeasurably ennobled by his severed head hanging as ornament.

 

A sight that I would have given two limbs to see!

 

This has been an interesting debate. As for me, I once entered the Vatican Museum where there is an array of senatorial busts, Cicero at its centre: I crossed the rope and punched him square in the face - in front of the Guide! I was only 18, but that was the passion he invoked in me at the time. I'm with Kingsley Amis, who wrote in his copy of Cicero's Letters at boarding school 'Antony was worth ten of you, you b******!'

 

What is it about Cicero that gets the juices flowing? Now that I am a grand middle-aged lady of almost five decades, I obviously view him with less hatred, but I do not think I could ever truly admire him. His flawed argument in the De Officiis was enough to turn me against him forever. It is wrong to kill, but not if the victim is 'a tyrant'. Self-centred, self-glorifying and pompous: I have still yet to be convinced.....

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Having spat on the ruins of the temple to that "bald whoremonger" Caesar, I'm obviously of the opposite opinion about Cicero. I wonder what it is about Cicero you find so abhorrent? Was it his prosecution of Verres--that you'd prefer filchers and murderers to act with impugnity? Or was it his campaign against Catiline--that you'd prefer traitors and brigands to have their putsches whenever they like? Perhaps it was Phillipics that set your teeth on edge--that you'd prefer a drunk and a thug like Antony as your dictator du jour?

 

It is wrong to kill, but not if the victim is 'a tyrant'

Then I'm sure you exult in the knowledge that justice was finally delivered to Caesar? Funny, you never mentioned your punching his portrait in the nose.

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I would sell a kidney to go to the places you both describe; however, when you are there, all you can do is violate them...for shame. :lol:

 

But as for Cicero, I tend not to like him for the same reason modern politicians admire him: he was prepared to adapt to circumstances and change his policies for the 'greater good'. I chose to study Roman history because it contains men whose policies are so rigidly inflexible, their stubbornness often resulted in hardship - the stubborn ideology of Cato Major, the last-ditch conservative Cato Minor and the shameless seeker of popularity Caesar are three prime examples. However, I am of the impression that these nobiles’ ability to be so stubborn, and stay true to their ideologies (no matter what the situation), is what made Rome both great and remarkable.

 

I am aware of the fact that Cicero's ability to compromise is a positive asset to add to his political portfolio, but let us face it: moderate politics does not make attractive history.

Edited by WotWotius

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So refreshing, WW, to hear a defense of principles over compromise. I'd just like to add, in defense of Cicero, that he was uncompromising in his prosecution of Verres, of Catiline, and of Antony--scoundrels all. Had Cicero shown the same attitude towards such dark grey figures as Murena, Milo, and all their ilk, the republic would have been far better off--as only Cato and Cicero would have been remaining! :lol:

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I admit that Cicero's philippics are an excellent example of just how fiery the man could be; however, it could be argued that Cicero's sheer hatred of Antony bumped his ideologies away from the middle ground and into a pit of political vigour.

 

Note that I was also expressing admiration for Caesar due to his upholding of his principles. Do you in any way, shape or form, admire him for this?

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Note that I was also expressing admiration for Caesar due to his upholding of his principles. Do you in any way, shape or form, admire him for this?

 

I didn't miss your point; I was consciously avoiding that particular implication of yours so that this thread could be devoted to Cicero. You know my opinion of that ... [biting tongue hard]

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...sorry, I will get back on the point.

 

Had Cicero shown the same attitude towards such dark grey figures as Murena, Milo, and all their ilk, the republic would have been far better off...

 

I find it hard to believe that Cicero's defence of Murena profoundly affected the Republic: the man was effetely a nonentity (a footnote of history if you like). He was acquitted for his bribery change, introduced fairly insignificant legislation during his Consulship and was never mentioned again.

 

Stop me if this thread is starting to be argued round in circles:

 

Though what was is interesting about this defence is the fact that Murena was probably guilty. Were you saying that Cicero was self-promoting at the expense of ideological values? Because that is my basic view of Cicero.

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Though what was is interesting about this defence is the fact that Murena was probably guilty. Were you saying that Cicero was self-promoting at the expense of ideological values? Because that is my basic view of Cicero.

 

Yes, my point was that Cicero's defense of Murena was unprincipled self-promotion. (His argument in the case was also intolerably illogical and condescending.) However, I think this is just one side of Cicero--while he could be an unprincipled pragmatist one minute, he could be a brave and true patriot in the next. I don't think one side was Cicero's "true" side--he was simply a man of contradictions.

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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.

Roman politics being roman politics. He offered lukewarm support by keeping his mouth shut at the outbreak of the civil war. He did this because he was indebted to Caesar who had 'lent' him a substantial amount of money at 0% interest. He indeed counted Caesar as a personal friend, but a political enemy. Enemy in the sense he thought Caesar's methods were undermining his ideal of a supreme senate.

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Having spat on the ruins of the temple to that "bald whoremonger" Caesar, I'm obviously of the opposite opinion about Cicero. I wonder what it is about Cicero you find so abhorrent? Was it his prosecution of Verres--that you'd prefer filchers and murderers to act with impugnity? Or was it his campaign against Catiline--that you'd prefer traitors and brigands to have their putsches whenever they like? Perhaps it was Phillipics that set your teeth on edge--that you'd prefer a drunk and a thug like Antony as your dictator du jour?

 

It is wrong to kill, but not if the victim is 'a tyrant'

Then I'm sure you exult in the knowledge that justice was finally delivered to Caesar? Funny, you never mentioned your punching his portrait in the nose.

 

Cato, there are times when - just like your namesake - you absolutely terrify me! :blink: But I shall be brave... There is no logic in your conclusion that because I dislike Cicero, I therefore must uphold a Verres or an Antony. Shame on you! :hammer: And you have deliberately and mischeviously taken the above quote out of context. It was Cicero himself, in the De Officiis who made the argument for the killing of tyrants, when starting from a premise that 'all murder is wrong'. I, unlike Cicero, believe murder is wrong in all cases. Justice finally delivered to Caesar? His assassination was an act of cowardice and done without much foresight. I will never condone it. Nor will I ever condone Cicero's actions in 'using' Octavian to oust Antony, while secretly hoping to dispose of the boy when the job was done.

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I, unlike Cicero, believe murder is wrong in all cases.

 

Oh do you? Yet you would give two limbs to see poor Cicero's head and hands hanging from the Rostrum?? I confess Augusta that it's you who terrify ME!

 

Now how do you reconcile this? On the one hand, you would exult in seeing a patriot like Cicero dismembered in the Forum itself. On the other, you claim to believe that murder is wrong in all cases. What a tangled web of desires! Do you also hope to see babies' corpses while condemning infanticide? Or have an eagerness to watch puppies tortured, while condemning cruelty to animals? I must say your protest against murder rings quite hollow when you state that you'd give two limbs to have seen poor Cicero's remains.

 

And what of mass murderers themselves? What are we to make of Octavian in Perugia, if not mass murder? Or Antony's proscriptions? You would, I am sure, not sanction their murder--so what, in the ancient context, would you have done with these political mass murderers like Antony and Octavian? Put them in a box for "safekeeping"?

 

Like Jefferson, I believe that the tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of tyrants. And Cicero was no tyrant--he was one of the few voices that were raised in opposition to them. If you want to see that voice silenced in such a gruesome manner as it was, please don't claim to oppose murder.

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I cannot see any coherency in this petty little debate. All I can see it MPC pedantically nit-picking a statement said by the Augusta that only vaguely related to Republican History.

 

The Augusta did not say she actively supported the act of Cicero's murder; she merely implied that Cicero's death was not a hardship for Rome.

 

As for your point on Cicero apparently renouncing tyrants: notice that Cicero only launched his full-scale condemnation of Caesarian 'tyranny' after the death of Caesar. This in effect proves what has been frequently stated throughout this thread: Cicero was a contradictory coward.

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