On This Day – 7 December 43BC
Cicero was one of the greatest orators of Rome, and lived through some of the most turbulent events at the end of the Republic. He was born on the 3rd of January in 103 BC in Arpinum, to a well-off equestrian family.
In 90 BC Cicero served under Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo and Lucius Cornelius Sulla during the Social War, the revolt of Rome’s Italian allies. Cicero also served as a Quaestor in Lilybaeum in 75 BC, a Aedile in 69 BC and a Praetor in 66 BC before achieving the Republic’s highest office, the Consulship, in 63 BC. He was a Novus Homo (new man) when he became consul, and not a member of the established political elite as none of his relatives had previously achieved the Consulship.
Cicero was a contemporary of Caesar, Mark Antony, and the first emperor of Rome Octavian (later to be called Augustus) but his greatest claim to fame was his defeat of the second Catilinarian Conspiracy whilst he was Consul in 63 BC.
Cicero refused an offer to join the so-called Triumvirate in 60 BC, and as a result went into exile in 58 BC due to a law being passed targeting him based on the manner in which he had dealt with the Catilinarian Conspiracy. The Senate recalled him to Rome in 57 BC.
When the civil war broke out between Caesar and Pompey, Cicero chose to support Pompey as he believed that was best for the Republic. He was not involved in the assassination of Caesar in 44 BC but nonetheless opposed Antony’s rise to power and tried to use Octavian, Caesar’s adopted son and heir, against him.
“Let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law”
De Legibus, III.3.
After Octavian, Antony and Lepidus formed the second triumvirate, Cicero’s name was added to the proscription list to be killed as an enemy. Apparently, Octavian argued against Cicero’s addition to the lists but nevertheless he was hunted down and executed on the 7th of December trying to flee to Macedonia.
“If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need”
Ad Varro, IX.4.