Creator / Cicero

Non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici. (We are not born for ourselves alone; our country, our friends have a share in us.)
Cicero, De Officiis

Marcus Tullius Cicero (sometimes called "Tully" in later references), 106-43 BC, was a prominent statesmen and the preeminent orator of late Republican Rome, as well as being single-handedly responsible for the persistence of the ancient Greek intellectual tradition in Western culture. Most people don't like Cicero anymore, which is a pity, because despite having issues with political consistency, he was absolutely brilliant and fought to the last for the Republic on the debate floor. During the wars following the death of Caesar he essentially gambled on his life and lost: he re-entered the political stage attempting to play Octavian and Mark Antony against each other, which failed when they ended up joining forces in the Second Triumvirate, and was proscribed by Antony in 43 BC. After evading his killers for some time with help from his many sympathizers, he was eventually betrayed later that year. Unable to escape or fight, he acted as a true philosopher and calmly offered his neck to the centurion's sword.

Cicero provides examples of:

  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Octavian, though there was mutual admiration between the two even after Octavian largely discarded him, and the future Emperor later appointed Cicero's son as his consul. He also turned a blind eye to the latter's Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Mark Antony and Antony's entire family.
  • Amoral Attorney: Depends on your point of view, but he did defend a few people - some of them murderers - who he likely knew were guilty.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Mark Antony. To a much lesser extent, Julius Caesar as well. They tended to be on different sides of a debate - especially during the civil war - but they shared a grudging respect for each other. Cicero was genuinely surprised by the assassination of Caesar (but seemed to at least somewhat approve of it).
  • Bilingual Bonus: His work is responsible for bringing many abstract philosophical terms from Greek into Latin, as well as for bringing abstract philosophy from Greece to Rome.
  • Caustic Critic: Whoo, boy. If you were up against him in court or on the Senate debate floor, he didn't pull any punches.
  • Charm Person: The leading orator of the ancient world, and arguably one of the greatest public speakers who has ever lived.
  • Courtroom Antics: Roman legal proceedings in this period were very nearly a spectator sport, and Cicero was practically an all-star quarterback. Antics Cicero got away with in court (copied from The Roman Republic page):
    • Calling the prosecution's witness, who was an attempted murder victim, a shameless slut, whore, and murderess, and then saying he wasn't going to call her a shameless slut, whore, and murderess, and then calling her a shameless slut, whore, and murderess repeatedly throughout the rest of his speech.
    • Accusing a political rival (Clodius) of incest in a completely unrelated case, where the sister of said rival accused her lover of attempting to poison her (see above).
    • Pretending to be Rome personified (it's complicated).
    • Pretending to be a long dead Roman Consul (again, it's complicated). Incidentally, he was pretending to be the Consul so he could call the attempted murder victim above a shameless slut, whore, and murderess. And being quite graphic about it.
    • Telling the judge he was going to ignore all courtroom procedure for the citizenship application he was arguing for and spend the next hour discussing Greek literature. (His client was Greek.)
    • Giving speaking tips to opposing counsel.
    • Complimenting opposing counsel on his skill — because the counsel was once one of his students.
    • Accusing opposing counsel of being sexually submissive.
    • Accusing the jury of being corrupt (although this was often the case).
    • Discussing fashion in the middle of a murder trial.
    • Discussing town planning in the middle of a murder trial.
    • Discussing highway maintenance in the middle of a murder trial.
    • Discussing the inconvenient placement of Public Holidays in the middle of a murder trial.
      • It is worth noting, after reading the above, that Cicero lost only one case. He lost that case because the court was filled with heavily armed, menacing looking men wanting a conviction and staring meaningfully at both him and the jury throughout proceedings.
  • Cowardly Lion: unlike most Roman politicians, he wasn't a soldier, but he was capable of being exceptionally brave, as shown by his verbal assaults on Mark Antony that led to his execution.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Antony had him murdered because Cicero made a series of speeches against him. His head and his hands (which had penned the speeches) were cut off and displayed in the Forum Romanum.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Notorious for being unable to keep his mouth shut. Octavian respected him, but didn't find it hard to let Mark Antony have his Roaring Rampage of Revenge upon him when Cicero joked about Octavian "We'll give him honors and decorations — and then a kick downstairs." Plutarch relates a whole paragraph of his zingers:
    A man accused of murdering his father with a poisoned cake: "I shall cover you with shame!"
    Cicero: "I'd rather have the shame than the cake."

    Lucius Gellius, a very old senator: "This law shall never pass while I am alive!"
    Cicero: "Gellius does not ask for a long postponement."
  • Doomed Moral Victor: against Mark Antony, at least as treated by historians who favored the Republic.
  • Downer Ending: Whether you like him or not, Cicero truly believed in the Roman Republic and was assassinated for speaking out against those who were tearing it apart.
  • Fauxdian Slip: In his speech in defense of Caelius, who had been accused of several crimes by his ex-lover Clodia. Clodia was the sister of one of Cicero's bitterest political enemies, and it was rumoured there was a Brother-Sister Incest relationship among the siblings. In his speech, Cicero said at one moment: "And, indeed, I would do so still more vigorously, if I had not a quarrel with that woman's husband - brother, I meant to say; I am always making this mistake."
  • Good Parents: he loved his daughter Tullia dearly, slipping into a lengthy Heroic B.S.O.D. when she died.
  • Graceful Loser: When Cicero's assassin came for him, he found him reclining on a litter reading a scroll. Cicero lowered the scroll to look at his soon-to-be-murderer and calmly said "Ah, there you are."
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: was well known for changing sides, something he angsted about.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Grieved heavily when his beloved daughter Tullia died after giving birth to her second son.
  • He's Back: after spending years in the shadow of Caesar, Crassus and Pompey, being used for their purposes, grieving for his daughter and fearing to speak out against Caesar, he took on Mark Antony in what was probably his finest hour.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Atticus.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Traditionally, he was viewed very fondly by history (most likely because he was ultimately killed unjustly), even though, as demonstrated by the Long List of his Courtroom Antics, he practically invented the Chewbacca Defense and was known for switching sides. Likewise, despite being a Novus Homo and rising from the lower orders, Cicero was a proud optimate who refused all reforms and attempts to extend rights to the poor, he was a defender of an aristocratic republic.
  • Insufferable Genius: he knew perfectly well how clever he was and had no problem letting anyone and everyone know it.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Invented an awful lot of them. For instance, he is the reason "virtue" is a word. Of course, when you're trying to import a discipline with an entirely foreign vocabulary, you pretty much have to do this at some point.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: One of the great masters of this trope. His orations against Catilina and the Philippics he wrote against Mark Antony are some of the best examples of this.
    "That, Senators, is what a favour from gangs amounts to. They refrain from murdering someone; then they boast that they have spared him!"
  • Rousing Speech: gave these from time to time. Particularly of note was his second speech against the conspiracist Cataline, in which he exorted the Senate to stand against the army that he had raised under their noses.
    "Besides that, there is a high spirit in the virtuous citizens, great unanimity, great numbers, and also a great body of troops. Above all that, the immortal gods will stand by and bring aid to this invincible nation, this most illustrious empire, this most beautiful city, against such wicked violence."
  • Self-Made Man: Famous for being a novus homo, lacking the significant lineage of 99% of politicians at the time. He came up through the Roman law courts and was the first member of his family to be elected consul, solely on his talent. Ironically, he caught a lot of flak about this from the entrenched patrician class whose traditional rights he often had to defend against (faux-)populist reformers like Catilina and Caesar.
  • Simple Country Lawyer: Part of his technique was the Roman version of this: like many novi homines, he came from one of the smaller towns in Latium (in his case, Arpinium) that had been granted Roman citizenship relatively recently. And he did work his way up the legal profession to Consulship and then the Senate.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • There is evidence both Julius Caesar and his nephew Octavian - thence Emperor Augustus - respected Cicero as a great man of Rome.
    • After Antony fell to Octavian, the first Consul that Octavian appointed to serve with him was Cicero's son. It was Cicero the Younger who announced Marc Antony's death at Actium, and he later worked to remove Antony's entire family from political power, avenging his father's death with Augustus' approval.
  • Your Mom: Older Than Feudalism
    Metellus Nepos: "Who is your father?"note 
    Cicero: "In your case, your mother has made the answer to that question rather difficult."

Cicero in Fiction:

Anime and Manga

Live-Action TV
  • Appears in both seasons of HBO's Rome, played by David Bamber. In the series, the soldier who assassinates him turns out to be Titus Pullo.

  • Cicero turns up in Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series, employing protagonist Gordianus for various reasons, including to dig up information to help his defense of Sextus Roscius and to keep an eye on Catilina during the consular elections.
  • Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series follows Cicero's career along with many other prominent players in the late Republic.
  • Robert Harris' Imperium trilogy chronicles the life of Cicero from the perspective of his slave/scribe Tiro.

  • He briefly appears in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. The conspirators also consider including him, but Brutus rejects it, saying that Cicero won't support something that wasn't his idea.

Alternative Title(s): Marcus Tullius Cicero