Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC) – Cicero was born in Arpinum, a small hill town sixty miles south of Rome. There is not much known of his father, but it was said of his mother, Helvia, that she was well-to-do and lived conservatively. At a very young age, Cicero was an excellent student who showed great promise. When a young man, he went to Greece to study philosophy and oratory. Upon his return to Rome, he became a successful attorney and later a respected philosopher and statesman.
In 79 BC, he married a woman named Terentia who came from a wealthy family. She supported his political career over the next thirty years even though their marriage was a difficult one. A year after they were married, their daughter Tullia was born. Cicero dearly loved Tullia. When he learned of her death in 45 BC, he was broken-hearted, writing to his friend Atticus, ’I have lost the one thing that bound me to life.’ It was clear to those who knew him that he was depressed and possibly suicidal at this time in his life.
As a politician, he had success early in his career, serving as quaestor in western Sicily in 75 BC. Cicero considered this to be the most rewarding and successful time of his political life. He believed that, because he ruled with fairness and integrity, the people came to love and respect him. This fit with his philosophical teachings about governing. He was elected consul of Rome in 63 BC and became a leader among the conservatives in the senate. However, because of his egocentric personality, he became alienated from others in his party. The plot to assassinate Caesar was kept a secret from him because the conspirators did not think he could keep it a secret. After the assassination, Cicero was critical of them; their planning and their lack of political action immediately after they carried it out. His most boisterous criticism was that they should have killed Mark Antony when they murdered Caesar. Later that year, in 44 BC, he began a series of speeches against Antony in the senate which he called his Philippics. His attacks on the dangerous Mark Antony later proved to be his undoing.