Using Cicero’s letters to his good friend Atticus, among other sources, Everitt recreates the fascinating world of political intrigue, sexual. Cicero by Anthony Everitt, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. In the introduction to Cicero, author Anthony Everitt laments the Perhaps the greatest measure of the success of Everitt’s book—as much a.

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The chase had degenerated into an elaborate, occasionally comic game of hide-and-seek, with Cicero torn between holing up in his villa to wait for the inevitable knock on the door and making a speedy getaway by sea. Eventually the assassins caught up with him in his litter en route for the coast, slit his throat and packed off his head and hands to Antony and his wife Fulvia, as proof that the deed had been done.

When the gruesome parcel arrived, Antony ordered that the remnants be displayed in the Forum, nailed to the spot where Cicero had delivered many of his devastating tirades; but not before Fulvia had taken the head on her lap, and — so the story goes — opened the mouth, pulled out the tongue and stabbed it again and again with a pin taken from her hair.

Decapitation, and its attendant embellishments, was something of an occupational hazard for front-line political figures in Rome in the hundred years of civil war that led up to the assassination of Julius Caesar. Some Romans drew an uncomfortable connection between the characteristic head-and-shoulders style of portrait bust that decorated their ancestral mansions and the eventual fate of so many of the sitters. The colossal portrait head of Pompey the Great, carried in his triumphal procession through Rome in 61 BC, would in time be taken as an omen of his death: At the same time, she was transforming an innocent object of female adornment into a devastating weapon.

His death was a popular subject for Roman schoolboys practising the art of speaking, as well as for celebrity orators in after-dinner performances. Learner orators were required to deliver speeches of advice to famous characters from myth and history, or to take sides in notorious crimes from the past: In the cultural politics of the Roman Empire these problems were nicely judged — safely pitching one of the most brilliantly unsuccessful upholders of the old Republican order against the man who, as everyone came to agree, was the unacceptable face of autocracy; and weighing the value of literature against the brute force of life-or-death power.

There was lustre, too, in the fact that Roman critics almost universally believed that Cicero had died an exemplary death. Whatever accusations of self-interest, vacillation or cowardice they might level at other aspects of his life, everyone reckoned that on this occasion he behaved splendidly: Some historians have seen him as an able spokesman for traditional political values, as Rome fell deeper into civil war and, ultimately, one-man rule.

For scholars of the Enlightenment, his philosophical treatises were a beacon of rationality. For Cicero, this was his finest hour. In later life, he rarely missed an opportunity to remind the Roman people that in 63 he had single-handedly saved the state from destruction. And he attempted to immortalise his achievement in a three-volume epic poem, entitled On the Consulship.

Not surprisingly, from antiquity on, others have held different views about exactly how much gratitude the Roman people owed Cicero. Lucius Sergius Catilina was a young aristocrat, and — like many of his peers — he was deeply in debt, as well as frustrated by failure to win election to the political offices he thought his due.

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Through various underground sources Cicero learned by the late summer of 63 that Catiline was plotting a revolutionary uprising that was to involve burning the city down and — the real horror for Roman conservatives — cancelling all debts.

Book Reviews – Cicero by Anthony Everitt

As Consul, he put this information before the Senate, which declared a everott of emergency. At the beginning of Evefitt, armed with further horrifying details and fresh, so he claimed, from a failed assassination attempt, Cicero denounced Catiline in the Senate and effectively drove him out of the city to his supporters in Etruria.

A legion was despatched to deal with them — Catiline died in battle early the next year; the remaining conspirators in Rome were rounded up and, after a heated discussion in the Senate, were put to death without trial under an emergency powers decree.

In triumph, Cicero shouted just one famous word to the crowds waiting in the Roman Forum: One of the sharpest political debates of the first century BC centred as it often has since in other political regimes on the nature of the emergency powers decree. In what circumstances should you declare a state of emergency? What exactly does martial law, a prevention of terrorism act or — in Roman terms — a Final Decree of the Senate allow the state authorities to do?

How far is it ever legitimate for a constitutional government to suspend the constitutional rights of its people?

In this case, the executions flouted the fundamental right of Roman citizens to a judicial trial as Julius Caesar himself had recognised, when ckcero with a characteristic stroke of imagination — he had argued in the Senate for the entirely unprecedented punishment of life imprisonment.

While Cicero was languishing in northern Greece, Clodius drove eveeritt knife in even further: Many modern historians, and no doubt a few sceptics at the time, have wondered exactly how much of a threat to the state Catiline posed.

Cicero was a self-made politician. He had no aristocratic connections and only a precarious place in the top rank of the Roman elite, among those families who claimed a direct line back to the age of Romulus or, in the case of the Julius Cicrro, back to Aeneas and cidero goddess Venus herself. To secure his position he needed to make a splash during his year as Consul. An outstanding military victory against some threatening barbarian enemy would have been best: Catiline himself may have been a far-sighted radical cancellation of debts could have been just what Rome needed in 63 BC ; he might equally well have been an unprincipled terrorist.

We cannot now tell. But there is a fair chance that he was driven to violence by a Consul spoiling for a fight and for his own glory. It everitf not only historians who have found the story of Cicero and Catiline intriguing. For the last four hundred years at least, dramatists, novelists, poets, painters and film-makers have explored the ambiguities of the Catilinarian Conspiracy, with heroic sagas of a noble statesman saving his country from ruin matched by romantic tragedies of a misunderstood visionary brought down by the forces of reaction.

But his Cicero turns out to be a droning bore: Instead, fresh from the revolutionary excitements ofIbsen portrays Catiline as cidero charismatic leader desperately challenging the corruption of the world in which he lives — only to die in the final scene, evertit a gory suicide pact with his noble wife.

The 20th century offered yet more versions of the story, from W. Exactly how remains unclear. Inevitably, Cicero will have edited them before he put them into circulation, cciero up the loose ends, and inserting those brilliant one-liners that might have slipped his mind on the day itself.


They have had almost as exotic an afterlife as the Conspiracy itself, particularly the opening sentence: Its fame goes back to antiquity. So, too, would the schoolboy elite of the West from the Renaissance until about the middle of the 20th century.

It may have something to do with the fact that evertit the 18th century the first paragraphs of In Catilinam I have been regularly used as the trial text for specimens of typesetting and now of web pages. This may have kept the words somewhere in the cultural subconscious, but cicreo can hardly be the whole explanation for its popularity. Outside politics, too, the phrase proves wonderfully adaptable to a range of enemies and circumstances. And in the closing days of the Second World War a disconsolate lover Walter Prudeseparated by the demands of military service from his new wife Agnes de Mille, choreographer of RodeoOklahoma!

Cicero may cicwro succeeded in writing himself into the political language of the modern world. But words which started life as a threat uttered by the spokesman of the established order against the dissident are now almost universally deployed the other way round: Catiline should be smiling in his grave. And indeed, over the last two millennia there have been countless attempts to write his life-story, in whole or in part.

Cicero himself tried unsuccessfully to commission a well-known historian to produce an account of his Consulship, exile and ciceeo return. Modern authors have taken up the challenge, with a rate recently, in Eceritt alone, of about one evertit biography every five years; each new attempt claiming some fresh angle, some plausible reason for adding to a biographical tradition that might seem crowded enough already.

At the same time, like everigt modern biographies of Cicero, it is also consistently disappointing. The result, almost inevitably, is a patchwork of ancient texts, sewn together with a thread of common sense, guesswork and sheer fantasy.

It is a missed opportunity.

Much more to the point would be a biographical account that tried to explore the way his life-story has been constructed and reconstructed over the last two thousand years; how we have learned to read Cicero through Jonson, Voltaire, Ibsen and the rest; what kind of investment we still have, and why, in a thundering ficero of the first century BC and his catchy oratorical slogans.

Why, in short, is Cicero still around in the 21st century? And on whose terms?

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The first infelicity of many can be traced back to H. Usually, the announcement is reported in the perfect tense: In my day every schoolboy knew that vixere and vixerunt were simply alternative forms of the perfect tense third person plural. Like Mary Beard, I always heard Cicero’s statement reported as vixerebut there is absolutely no difference in grammar or sense either way. What really intrigues me is what Davor Butkovic Letters, 20 September thinks vixere means.

Suspicious, I blew it up on the copier: Log In Register for Online Access. Lucky City Mary Beard Cicero: Contact us for rights and issues inquiries. Chris Morrissey Simon Fraser University.