Cicero by Anthony Everitt

     Cicero is an excellent biography of a classical Roman figure by Anthony Everitt. In this book we deal with the entire life of Cicero from his birth in Italy to his sadly ignominious death. In between the author covers pretty much all aspects of Cicero’s life, including his personal life due to his excellent use of Cicero’s many letters that have come down to us. The result is a fully fleshed out account of both Cicero and the era of the Roman Republic in which he lived including its fall.

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    There are a few minor critiques of Cicero that I have. First, some of the worst things about Cicero’s life are glossed over quickly. Most notably his time as a slumlord in Rome is briefly mentioned and then forgotten. For some time, Cicero was a ruthless landlord of some pretty terrible properties which in classical Rome was probably seen just as the status quo, but today it is, and rightly should be, as fairly reprehensible. Also, the author does sometimes try and portray Cicero’s bad qualities and vices off as somewhat endearing traits. Cicero could often be vain and narcissistic at times as well as indecisive, but in the narrative it comes across as Cicero was doing so much good and trying hard (so apparently those bad things don’t matter all that much.)
    Still, the book as a whole does portray Cicero as a real flesh and blood human being and some bad decisions were definitely noted (such as the second marriage.) The extensive use of his letters allows readers to see the love he had for his daughter as well as the friendship he shared with Atticus. Many aspects of Republican Roman society are highlighted throughout the book as well explaining the contexts of many of the vital moments in the Republic’s fall that Cicero was a part of. Pretty much all of Cicero’s life is covered and this includes his official positions outside of Rome such as his stints in Cilicia and Sicily.
    Overall, this was a good biography of Cicero that covered far more than just is career as a lawyer and orator, the two primary positions that he is known for. Special consideration is given to his consulship and the whole second Catilinarian conspiracy as well as his role during the tumultuous times of the fall of the Republic and his positions in regards to the members of both triumvirates. For these reasons alone you should pick up this book if you are interested in the fall of the Roman Republic or of the other great figures of this time period.
     4 out of 5 stars.