Cicero : biography

January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC

Exile and return

In 60 BC Julius Caesar invited Cicero to be the fourth member of his existing partnership with Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus, an assembly that would eventually be called the First Triumvirate. Cicero refused the invitation because he suspected it would undermine the Republic.Rawson, E.: Cicero, 1984 106

In 58 BC, Publius Clodius Pulcher, the tribune of the plebs, introduced a law (the Leges Clodiae) threatening exile to anyone who executed a Roman citizen without a trial. Cicero, having executed members of the Second Catilinarian Conspiracy four years previously without formal trial, and having had a public falling out with Clodius, was clearly the intended target of the law. Cicero argued that the senatus consultum ultimum indemnified him from punishment, and he attempted to gain the support of the senators and consuls, especially of Pompey. When help was not forthcoming, he went into exile. He arrived at Thessalonica, Greece, on May 23, 58 BC.Haskell, H.J.: This was Cicero, 1964 200Haskell, H.J.: This was Cicero, 1964 p.201Plutarch. Cicero Cicero’s exile caused him to fall into depression. He wrote to Atticus: "Your pleas have prevented me from committing suicide. But what is there to live for? Don’t blame me for complaining. My afflictions surpass any you ever heard of earlier".Haskell, H.J.: "This was Cicero" (1964) p.201 After the intervention of recently elected tribune Titus Annius Milo, the senate voted in favor of recalling Cicero from exile. Clodius cast a single vote against the decree. Cicero returned to Italy on August 5, 57 BC, landing at Brundisium.Cicero, Samtliga brev/Collected letters (in a Swedish translation) He was greeted by a cheering crowd, and, to his delight, his beloved daughter Tullia.Haskell. H.J.: This was Cicero, p.204

Cicero tried to reintegrate himself into politics, but his attack on a bill of Caesar’s proved unsuccessful. The conference at Luca in 56 BC forced Cicero to make a recantation and pledge his support to the triumvirate. With this, a cowed Cicero retreated to his literary works. It is uncertain whether he had any direct involvement in politics for the following few years.Grant, M: "Cicero: Selected Works", p67 He only reluctantly accepted a promagistracy in Cilicia for 51 BC, after a shortage of eligible governors was created by legislation requiring an interval of five years between a consulship or praetorship and a provincial command. He was absent from Italy as proconsul of Cilicia from May 51 to November 50 BC. Accompanied by his brother Quintus as a legate, he was mostly spared from warfare due to internal conflict among the Parthians, yet for storming a mountain fortress he acquired the title of imperator.

Julius Caesar’s civil war

The struggle between Pompey and Julius Caesar grew more intense in 50 BC. Cicero chose to favour Pompey as he was in defence of the senate and Republican tradition, but at the same time he prudently avoided openly alienating Caesar. When Caesar invaded Italy in 49 BC, Cicero fled Rome. Caesar, seeking the legitimacy an endorsement by a senior senator would provide, courted Cicero’s favour, but even so Cicero slipped out of Italy and traveled to Dyrrachium (Epidamnos), Illyria, where Pompey’s staff was situated.Everitt, Anthony: Cicero pp. 215. Cicero traveled with the Pompeian forces to Pharsalus in 48 BC,Plutarch, Cicero though he was quickly losing faith in the competence and righteousness of the Pompeian lot. Eventually, he provoked the hostility of his fellow senator Cato, who told him that he would have been of more use to the cause of the optimates if he had stayed in Rome. After Caesar’s victory at Pharsalus, Cicero returned to Rome only very cautiously. Caesar pardoned him and Cicero tried to adjust to the situation and maintain his political work, hoping that Caesar might revive the Republic and its institutions.