Cicero : biography

January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC

Cicero was portrayed on the motion picture screen by British actor Alan Napier in the 1953 film Julius Caesar, based on Shakespeare’s play. He has also been played by such noted actors as Michael Hordern (in Cleopatra), and Andre Morell (in the 1970 Julius Caesar). Most recently, Cicero was portrayed by David Bamber in the HBO series Rome (2005–2007) and appeared in both seasons.

In her series of historical novels "Masters of Rome" Colleen McCullough presents an unflattering depiction of Cicero’s career, showing him struggling with an inferiority complex and vanity, morally flexible and fatally indiscreet, while his rival Julius Caesar is shown in a more approving light. Cicero is portrayed as a hero in the novel A Pillar of Iron by Taylor Caldwell (1965). Robert Harris’ novels Imperium and Lustrum (Conspirata in the U.S.) are the first two parts of a planned trilogy of novels based upon the life of Cicero. In these novels Cicero’s character is depicted in a more balanced way than in those of McCullough, with his positive traits equaling or outweighing his weaknesses (while conversely Caesar is depicted as more sinister than in McCullough). Cicero is a major recurring character in the Roma Sub Rosa series of mystery novels by Steven Saylor. He also appears several times as a peripheral character in John Maddox Roberts’s SPQR series. Roberts’s protagonist, Decius Metellus, admires Cicero for his erudition, but is disappointed by his lack of real opposition to Caesar, as well as puzzled by his relentless fawning on the Optimates, who secretly despise Cicero as a parvenu.


Cicero was declared a "righteous pagan" by the early Catholic Church, and therefore many of his works were deemed worthy of preservation. Subsequent Roman writers quoted liberally from his works De Re Publica (On The Republic) and De Legibus (On The Laws), and much of his work has been recreated from these surviving fragments. Cicero also articulated an early, abstract conceptualization of rights, based on ancient law and custom. Of Cicero’s books, six on rhetoric have survived, as well as parts of eight on philosophy. Of his speeches, 88 were recorded, but only 58 survive.

  • (81 BC) Pro Quinctio (In Defense of Quinctius)
  • (80 BC) Pro Roscio Amerino (In Defense of Sextus Roscius of Ameria)
  • (70 BC) In Verrem I, II.1-5 (Against Gaius Verres, or The Verrine Orations)
  • (69 BC) Pro Fonteio (In defense of Fonteius)
  • (69 BC) Pro Caecina (In defense of Caecina)
  • (66 BC) Pro Cluentio (In defense of Aulus Cluentius)
  • (66 BC) "De Imperio Gnaei Pompei" or "De Lege Manilia" ("On the Command of Gnaeus Pompey", in support of Pompey’s appointment to command the Roman forces against Mithridates V)
  • (63 BC) De Lege Agraria contra Rullum I-III (On the agrarian law proposed by Rullus)
  • (63 BC) In Catilinam I-IV (Catiline Orations or Against Catiline)
  • (63 BC) Pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo (In Defense of Gaius Rabirius, in the court for treason)
  • (62 BC) Pro Sulla (In defense of Faustus Sulla)
  • (62 BC) Pro Archia Poeta (In Defense of Aulus Licinius Archias the poet)
  • (59 BC) Pro Flacco (In defense of Flaccus)
  • (57 BC) Post reditum in senatu (Speech to the senate after his return])
  • (57 BC) Post reditum ad Quirites (Speech to the people after his return])
  • (57 BC) De domo sua (On his house)
  • (57 BC) De Haruspicum responsis (On the response of the haruspices)
  • (56 BC) Pro Sestio (In defense of Sestius)
  • (56 BC) In Vatinium (Cross-examination of Vatinius)
  • (56 BC) Pro Caelio (In Defense of Marcus Caelius Rufus): English translation
  • (56 BC) De Provinciis Consularibus (On the Consular Provinces)
  • (56 BC) Pro Balbo (In Defense of Cornelius Balbus)
  • (55 BC) In Pisonem (Against Piso)
  • (54 BC) Pro Rabirio Postumo (In Defense of Rabirius Postumus)
  • (52 BC) Pro Milone (In Defense of Titus Annius Milo)
  • (46 BC) Pro Marcello (In Support of the recall of Marcellus)
  • (46 BC) Pro Ligario (In Defense of Quintus Ligarius)
  • (45 BC) Pro Deiotaro (In Defense of King Deiotarus
  • (44-43 BC) Philippicae (the 14 philippics, Philippica I–XIV, against Mark Antony)