Cicero : biography

January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC
Rhetoric & Philosophy
  • (55 BC) De Oratore ad Quintum fratrem libri tres (On the Orator, three books for his brother Quintus)
  • (51 BC) De Re Publica (On the Republic)
  • (?? BC) De Legibus (On the Laws)
  • (46 BC) Brutus (Brutus)
  • (46 BC) Orator (Orator)
  • (45 BC) Academica (On Academic Skepticism)
  • (45 BC) De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (On the Ends of Good and Bad Things) – a book on ethics. Source of Lorem ipsum. Title also translated as "On Moral Ends"Cicero On Moral Ends. (De Finibus) Julia Annas – editor, Raphael Woolf – transltr Cambridge University Press, 2001
  • (45 BC) Tusculanae Quaestiones (Tusculan Disputations)
  • (45 BC) Hortensius – an exhortation to philosophy, now lost.
  • (45 BC) De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods)
  • (44 BC) De Divinatione (On Divination)
  • (44 BC) De Fato (On Fate)
  • (44 BC) Cato Maior de Senectute (Cato the Elder On Old Age)
  • (44 BC) Laelius de Amicitia (Laelius On Friendship)
  • (44 BC) De Gloria (On Glory) – now lost.
  • (44 BC) De Officiis (On Duties)

More than 900 letters by Cicero to others have survived, and over 100 letters from others to him.

  • (68–43 BC) Epistulae ad Atticum (Letters to Atticus)
  • (59–54 BC) Epistulae ad Quintum Fratrem (Letters to his brother Quintus)
  • (43 BC) Epistulae ad Brutum (Letters to Brutus)
  • (62–43 BC) Epistulae ad Familiares (Letters to his friends)



Cicero has been traditionally considered the master of Latin prose, with Quintilian declaring Cicero was "not the name of a man, but of eloquence itself. "Quntilian, Institutio Oratoria 10.1.1 12 He is credited with transforming Latin from a modest utilitarian language into a versatile literary medium capable of expressing abstract and complicated thoughts with clarity.Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature, "Ciceronian period" (1995) Julius Caesar praised Cicero’s achievement by saying “it is more important to have greatly extended the frontiers of the Roman spirit than the frontiers of the Roman empire” Pliny, Natural History, 7.117 According to John William Mackail, "Cicero’s unique and imperishable glory is that he created the language of the civilized world, and used that language to create a style which nineteen centuries have not replaced, and in some respects have hardly altered." Cicero, Seven orations, 1912 Cicero was also an energetic writer with an interest in a wide variety of subjects in keeping with the Hellenistic philosophical and rhetorical traditions in which he was trained. The quality and ready accessibility of Ciceronian texts favored very wide distribution and inclusion in teaching curricula as suggested by an amusing graffiti at Pompeii admonishing "you will like Cicero, or you will be whipped" Hasan Niyazi, From Pompeii to Cyberspace – Transcending barriers with Twitter Cicero was greatly admired by influential Latin Church Fathers such as Augustine of Hippo, who credited Cicero’s lost Hortensius for his eventual conversion to ChristianityAugustine of Hippo, Confessions, 3:4 and St. Jerome, who had a feverish vision in which he was accused of being "follower of Cicero and not of Christ" before the judgment seat.Jerome, Letter to Eustochium, XXII:30 This influence further increased after the Dark Ages in Europe, from which more of his writings survived than any other Latin author. Medieval philosophers were influenced by Cicero’s writings on natural law and innate rights. Petrarch’s rediscovery of Cicero’s letters provided impetus for searches for ancient Greek and Latin writings scattered throughout European monasteries, and the subsequent rediscovery of Classical Antiquity led to the Renaissance. Subsequently, Cicero came to be regarded synonymous with classical Latin that many humanist scholars held that no Latin word or phrase was to be used unless it could be found in Cicero’s works to the extent that Erasmus felt compelled to criticize such extremism in his treatise Ciceronianus. His voluminous correspondence, much of it addressed to his friend Atticus, has been especially influential, introducing the art of refined letter writing to European culture. Cornelius Nepos, the 1st century BC biographer of Atticus, remarked that Cicero’s letters contained such a wealth of detail "concerning the inclinations of leading men, the faults of the generals, and the revolutions in the government" that their reader had little need for a history of the period.Cornelius Nepos, 16, trans. John Selby Watson. Among Cicero’s admirers were Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, and John Locke. Following the invention of the printing press, De Officiis was the second book to be printed – second only to the Gutenberg Bible. Scholars note Cicero’s influence on the rebirth of religious toleration in the 17th century.