MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO, In Catilinam I
MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO, ["Quid, quod adventu tuo subsellia vacuefacta sunt?"]
["What is your arrival seats empty?"]
Early Life. - Marcus Tullius Cicero, the foremost Roman orator and writer, was born Jan. 3, 106 B.C. His birthplace was Arpinum, a small country town about seventy miles southeast of Rome, famous also as the birthplace of Marius. His father, a member of the equestrian order, was descended from a family of old standing. Quintus, a younger brother of Marcus, became a praetor at Rome, and afterwards won distinction as one of Caesar's lieutenants in Gaul. The two brothers were early taken to Rome and placed under the care of the best instructors. One of these was Archias, the Greek poet, whose citizenship the orator defended in later years before Quintus, when the latter was presiding judge.
The Character of Cicero. - Historians vary greatly in their estimate of Cicero. Perhaps it is nearest the truth to say that he had many weaknesses but much strength. He was emotional, vain, sensitive. As a statesman he made many mistakes. He failed to grasp the supreme problems of his time. He lacked force, will, and aim. He was vacillating in the civil war, but his choice of affiliation had to be made between two evils. That he was a patriot there can be no doubt. His greatest desire was to save and free the republic. That he was honest and incorruptible is shown in his provincial administration. He was a man of peace and honor, pure in life and purpose, and sympathetic with the oppressed. A biographer well says: "His fidelity to his prudent friend Atticus, his affection to his loyal freedman Tiro, his unfailing courtesy toward his wife Terentia, the love he lavished upon his daughter Tullia, his unworthy son Marcus, and his sturdy brother Quintus, stand forth in striking contrast to the coldness of the typical Roman of his day!'