Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero was the greatest speaker among the many famous statesmen of ancient Rome. He practiced law and studied philospohy in Greece before holding a rising sequence of important jobs in the Roman Empire. In 64 BCE he became Consul, the highest office in Rome. As Consul he won fame for his orations against Cataline, the head of a secret conspiracy to seize the government. Always a staunch supporter of the Republic, Cicero was eventually forced from office by his enemies, and when Julius Caesar consolidated his power in 48 BC, Cicero went into political retirement. During this time he wrote his famous essays on happiness, on old age, and on friendship. Upon Caesar’s assassination in 44 BCE, Cicero returned to public life and delivered a series of scathing speeches (the “Phillipics”) against Marc Antony. This proved to be Cicero’s undoing: when Antony took power in a triumvirate with Octavian and Marcus Lepidus, Cicero was declared an outlaw and killed by Antony’s men in 43 BCE. Continue reading

Lucius Junius Brutus

Lucius Junius Brutus (LVCIVS IVNIVS BRVTVS) was the founder of the Roman Republic and traditionally one of the first consuls in 509 BC. He was claimed as an ancestor of the Roman gens Junia, including Marcus Junius Brutus, the most famous of Caesar’s assassins. Brutus was a hero of Republicanism during the Enlightenment and Neoclassical periods, and artists like Jacques-Louis David painted scenes of his life. Continue reading