Writings of Cicero

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Marcus Tullius Cicero
BornJanuary 3, 106 BC
Arpinum, Italy
DiedDecember 7, 43 BC
Formia, Italy
OccupationPolitician, lawyer, orator and philosopher
NationalityAncient Roman
Subjectpolitics, law, philosophy, oratory
Literary movementGolden Age Latin
Notable worksOrations: In Verrem, In Catilinam I–IV, Philippicae
Philosophy: De Oratore, De Re Publica, De Legibus, De Finibus, De Natura Deorum, De Officiis

The writings of Marcus Tullius Cicero constitute one of the most famous bodies of historical and philosophical work in all of classical antiquity. Cicero, a Roman statesman, lawyer, political theorist, philosopher, and Roman constitutionalist, lived from 106 to 43 BC. He was a Roman senator and consul (chief-magistrate) who played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. A contemporary of Julius Caesar, Cicero is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.[1][2]

Cicero is generally held to be one of the most versatile minds of ancient Rome. He introduced the Romans to the chief schools of Greek philosophy and created a Latin philosophical vocabulary, distinguishing himself as a linguist, translator, and philosopher. An impressive orator and successful lawyer, Cicero probably thought his political career his most important achievement. Today, he is appreciated primarily for his humanism and philosophical and political writings. 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 to Atticus 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.[3]

During the chaotic latter half of the first century BC, marked by civil wars and the dictatorship of Gaius Julius Caesar, Cicero championed a return to the traditional republican government. However, his career as a statesman was marked by inconsistencies and a tendency to shift his position in response to changes in the political climate. His indecision may be attributed to his sensitive and impressionable personality; he was prone to overreaction in the face of political and private change. "Would that he had been able to endure prosperity with greater self-control and adversity with more fortitude!" wrote C. Asinius Pollio, a contemporary Roman statesman and historian.[4][5]


Cicero was declared a "righteous pagan" by the early Catholic Church, and therefore many of his works were deemed worthy of preservation. Saint Augustine and others quoted liberally from his works "On the Commonwealth" (also known as "On the Republic") and "On the Laws," and it is due to this that we are able to recreate much of the work from the surviving fragments. Cicero also articulated an early, abstract conceptualisation 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, eighty-eight were recorded, fifty-two of which survive today. Some of the items below include more than one speech.

Judicial speeches

Several of Cicero's speeches are printed, in English translation, in the Penguin Classics edition Murder Trials. These speeches are included:

  • In defence of Sextus Roscius of Ameria (This is the basis for Steven Saylor's novel Roman Blood.)
  • In defence of Aulus Cluentius Habitus
  • In defence of Gaius Rabirius"
  • Note on the speeches in defence of Caelius and Milo
  • In defence of King Deiotarus
Political speeches
Early career (before exile)
Mid career (between exile and Caesarian Civil War)
Late career

(The Pro Marcello, Pro Ligario, and Pro Rege Deiotaro are collectively known as "The Caesarian speeches").

Rhetoric and politics[edit]

  • (84 BC) De Inventione (About the composition of arguments)
  • (55 BC) De Oratore ad Quintum fratrem libri tres (On the Orator, three books for his brother Quintus)
  • (54 BC) De Partitionibus Oratoriae (About the subdivisions of oratory)
  • (52 BC) De Optimo Genere Oratorum (About the Best Kind of Orators)
  • (51 BC) De Re Publica (On the Republic, also known as "On the Commonwealth", and referred to as such, above)
  • (46 BC) Brutus (For Brutus, a short history of Roman rhetoric and orators dedicated to Marcus Junius Brutus)
  • (46 BC) Orator ad M. Brutum (About the Orator, also dedicated to Brutus)
  • (44 BC) Topica (Topics of argumentation)
  • (?? BC) De Legibus (On the Laws)
  • (?? BC) De Consulatu Suo (On his ((Cicero's)) consulship – epic poem, only parts survive)
  • (?? BC) De temporibus suis (His Life and Times – epic poem, entirely lost)


Several works extant through having been included in influential collections of Ciceronian texts exhibit such divergent views and styles that they have long been agreed by experts not to be authentic works of Cicero. They are also never mentioned by Cicero himself, nor any of the ancient critics or grammarians who commonly refer to and quote passages from Cicero's authentic works.



Cicero's letters to and from various public and private figures are considered some of the most reliable sources of information for the people and events surrounding the fall of the Roman Republic. While 37 books of his letters have survived into modern times, 35 more books were known to antiquity that have since been lost. These included letters to Caesar, to Pompey, to Octavian, and to his son Marcus.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rawson, E.: Cicero, a portrait (1975) p. 303
  2. ^ Haskell, H.J.: This was Cicero (1964) pp. 300–01
  3. ^ Cornelius Nepos, Atticus 16, trans. John Selby Watson.
  4. ^ Haskell, H.J.:"This was Cicero" (1964) p. 296
  5. ^ Castren and Pietilä-Castren: "Antiikin käsikirja" /"Handbook of antiquity" (2000) p. 237
  6. ^ M. Tullius Cicero, Orations: The fourteen orations against Marcus Antonius (Philippics) (ed. C. D. Yonge)
  7. ^ M. Tullius Cicero, Letters (ed. Evelyn Shuckburgh)
  8. ^ Epicurus.info : E-Texts : De Finibus, Book I
  9. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cicero" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.


Critical editions and translations[edit]

Teubner editions (Bibliotheca Teubneriana), B. G. Teubner, Stuttgart and Leipzig

  • Epistulae ad Atticum (ed.) D R Shackleton-Bailey
    • Vol.I: Libri I–VIII (BT 1208, 1987)
    • Vol.II: Libri IX–XVI (BT 1209, 1987)
  • Epistulae ad Familiares libri I–XVI (ed.) D R Shackleton-Bailey (BT 1210, 1988)
  • Epistulae ad Quintum fratrem. Epistulae ad M. Brutum. Commentariolum petitionis. Fragmenta epistolarum (ed.) D R Shackleton-Bailey (BT 1211, 1988)
  • Cicero, Marcus Tullius, Cicero's letters to Atticus, Vol. I, II, IV, VI, Cambridge University Press, Great Britain, 1965
  • Cicero, Marcus Tullius, Latin extracts of Cicero on Himself, translated by Charles Gordon Cooper, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane, 1963
  • Crawford, Jane W:
    • M. Tullius Cicero: The Lost and Unpublished Orations (Hypomnemata Untersuchungen zur Antike und zu Ihrem Nachleben, Heft 80, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1984) ISBN 3-525-25178-5
    • M. Tullius Cicero: The Fragmentary Speeches, an Edition with Commentary, 2nd edition (American Philological Association, American Classical Studies no. 37, Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1994) ISBN 0-7885-0076-7

Penguin Classics English translations

  • Cicero
    • Selected Political Speeches (Penguin Books, 1969)
    • Selected Works: Against Verres I, Twenty-three letters, The Second Philippic against Antony, On Duties III, On Old Age, by Michael Grant (Penguin Books, 1960)
    • On Government: Against Verres II 5, For Murena, For Balbus, On the State III, V, VI, On Laws III, The Brutus, The Philippics IV, V, X, by Michael Grant (Penguin Books, 1993)
  • Plutarch, Fall of the Roman Republic, Six Lives by Plutarch: Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey, Caesar, Cicero, by Rex Warner (Penguin Books, 1958; with Introduction and notes by Robin Seager, 1972)

Modern works[edit]

  • Taylor, H: Cicero: A sketch of his life and works (A. C. McClurg & Co., Chicago, 1918)
  • Strachan-Davidson, J. L., Cicero and the Fall of the Roman Republic, University of Oxford Press, London, 1936
  • Cowell, Cicero and the Roman Republic, Penguin Books Ltd, Great Britain, 1973
  • Haskell, H.J.: (1946) This was Cicero, Fawcett publications, Inc. Greenwich, Conn.
  • Smith, R E: Cicero the Statesman (Cambridge University Press, 1966)
  • Gruen, Erich S: The last Generation of the Roman Republic (University of California Press, 1974)
  • Rawson, Elizabeth: Cicero, A portrait (Allen Lane, Penguin Books, 1975) ISBN 0-7139-0864-5
  • Kinsey, T E: "Cicero's case against Magnus, Capito and Chrysogonus in the pro Sex. Roscio Amerino and its use for the historian", L'Ant.Classique 49 (1980), 173–190
  • Frier, Bruce W: The Rise of the Roman Jurists: Studies in Cicero's Pro Caecina, (Princeton University Press, 1985) ISBN 0-691-03578-4
  • March, Duane A: "Cicero and the 'Gang of Five'", Classical World 82 (1989), 225–234
  • Shackleton-Bailey, D R: Onomasticon to Cicero's Speeches, 2nd edition (Teubner, Stuttgart & Leipzig, 1992)
  • Gotoff, Harold C: Cicero's Caesarian Speeches: A Stylistic Commentary (The University of North Carolina Press, 1993) ISBN 0-8078-4407-1
  • Everitt, Anthony: Cicero: the life and times of Rome's greatest politician (Random House, 2001) hardback, 359 pages, ISBN 0-375-50746-9
  • Manuwald, Gesine: "Performance and Rhetoric in Cicero's Philippics", Antichthon 38 (2004[2006]), 51–69

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]