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Marcus Tullius Cicero was born on the 3rd January 106 B.C.E. He was also known as Tully. He reigned from a small town known as Arpinum which is located on south-eastern part of Rome (Boardman, Griffin & Murray 45-67). The actual meaning of Cicero is chickpea and originated from one of his ancestor who had a wart that resembled a chickpea. In Rome, Cicero studied philosophy, law and literature. In his time, Cicero was an important statesman but he was famously known as an author. His life was faced with a lot of dramatic turns. The great body of his writings including the personal correspondence forms the central interest of his life. He was widely associated with republican or aristocratic party in Rome. He was also an important leader in the era of Pompey and Julius Ceaser. In his time, he was vocal of ideals and objected tyranny. His principles opposed corruption and bureaucracy. This paper tries to give an account of Cicero and the influences he had in his time and the extension in the modern times.
Influence in Early times
Cicero commenced his career by defending a man who was accused of murder by Sulla in his reign. He went to Greece to master his oratory talent (Middleton 32-67). After the studies he returned to Rome where he acted as a public treasurer. In his capacity, he acted as praetor. He performed the role with the greatest rectitude. The most celebrated part of his career was the prosecution of Sicilian governor known as Verres who was charged with corruption. This act made him to be elected as a consul. While acting as the consul, he uncovered a conspiracy that was mastered by Catiline (Boardman, Griffin & Murray 45-67). The intention of Catiline was to overthrow the senate. His experience as the consul alleviated what could have been a political crisis. The powerful Catiline and his associates made Cicero to go to exile. His residence was burned down and only returned when the situation had calmed down. Being an ardent republican, Cicero was adherent to Pompey but agreed to the fact that Ceaser was a better leader. After the landslide win by Ceaser, he welcomed him back to Italy. Cicero avoided the public domain until after the assassination of Julius Ceaser. He took the personal initiative to take down Mark Antony and those who were the suspects of Caesar’s death.
The influence of Cicero in his time cannot be undermined. He was the brain behind the fifty-seven speeches that he delivered and others which were published. The speeches collected were impressive and of quality. The famous legal speech Pro Cluentio that was dated 66 B.C.E is the longest and provides a vivid picture of life within a small Italian town. The shortest speech he made, Pro Archia is notable for being persuasive. The political speech Catilinarians was revolutionary and objected the rule of Catiline (Boardman, Griffin & Murray 45-67). The works that were published by Cicero on various subjects such as philosophy, politics or even rhetoric took the dialogue form. Most of the work was written in Latin language. His work concentrated on ethics, religion and philosophy. His work was influential and extremely valuable because they were used to reproduce many philosophical theories of philosophers in the post-Aristotelian era (Palma, David & Gilbert 57-59). These include Schools such as Stoicism and Epicureans.
Other works such as De republica and De legibus were important in the formulation of political theory. Some of these works were based on Greek ideologies (Middleton 32-67). The basis of his work was reinforced by the art of government that existed in Roman Empire and Cicero’s experience in the field of politics. The literary output of Cicero is undoubtedly the valuable influence in his time. The letters are massive and were written by him or the correspondents. The letters that were uncovered belonged to the last years of his life. Most of the letters were either in form of speeches or dialogues. He also used to write informal letters to his brother or close friend. These letters were characterized by use of slang and phrases in Greek. These letters by Cicero drew reference from different topics but gave a vivid picture of Cicero. They depicted him as a man full of courage, loyalty, kindness and humanity.
Cicero insisted on the primary role played by moral code in setting the government (Strange, Steven & Jack 34-67). He declared that the government was charged with the responsibility of protecting human life and property (Middleton 32-67). He also argued that people had the right to rebel when the government did not represent what was decent. He was the greatest advocate of Stoic ideas which formed the natural law that influenced the Roman jurists and helped in structuring Roman law (Craig 23-35). His choice of Latin, transformed the language from utilitarianism to a common language that was used by merchants, lawyers and generals. Cicero was an author who used a consummate blend of narrative and argument to present the message. Despite the violence that was prominent in his time, Cicero was a person full of peace (Marincola 45-54). He did not aim at building a personal army like other famous Roman politicians. Instead, Cicero objected to the acts of violence. He argued on the basis of provocation and termed war to be suicidal (Craig 23-35).
The Roman Empire was characterized by Slavery. This was the most brutal act in the history, but Cicero did not condone it. However, he preferred the use of tenants rather than slaves. He was an ardent supporter of republican system of governance. He believed in the senate and the Roman people as the core of the Republic. Being one of the greatest orators, Cicero was vocal on the social injustices that characterized his era. The philosophy of Cicero was that true law that existed was reason. He maintained high moral standards which showcased a huge deal of determination and self-regulation (Palma, David & Gilbert 57-59). He advocated for the moral values to be maintained in Rome.
Influence in the modern society
The influence of Cicero in the modern society cannot be undermined. His philosophies and letters can be accessed for reading. Cicero finds adoration from the current scholars. He is known to be an architect of many constitutions in the world. The influence of Cicero can be regarded in fields such as Justice, law and liberty. Cicero regarded Justice as a vessel of crowning virtues in humankind (Middleton 32-67). According to him Justice meant no harm to citizens but was set for its purpose and aim which was to give each man his due. He argued that the purpose of justice was to enhance the promotion of common good in the society (Marincola 45-54). He further said that justice was not put in place to lock out other people and was to be observed by all. Justice was as a branch was not to exhort from the people in order to get a reward (Boardman, Griffin & Murray 45-67). He regarded that extreme justice to be extreme injustice. He placed self-protection on high regards and as moral way of defending oneself (Strange, Steven & Jack 34-67).
Cicero regarded law as the main reason for engaging with nature and as the process of universal application. He regarded the welfare of the people as the ultimate law. He argued that law was guarded by its on precepts which he stated as living honestly, giving each person his or her due and harming no one (Craig 23-35). Like the case on the extreme justice, Cicero argued that the strictest law often culminated to the heinous acts. He was vocal on the lesser application of the laws to be the main reason for injustices. He tackled law at the level of the administration of the government, which he thought to be directed to the common good of the public.
Cicero was vocal on the liberty and freedom of the people. He argued that people live in bondage with the law so as to be free. The main essence of freedom, according to Cicero is to live as one chooses. Being free is one of inestimable value (Craig 23-35). Liberty, represent the highest pinnacle in in human life. The virtue of freedom is that it becomes precious when it is merged with servitude. In situation when people’s power is supreme, that is when there is a lot of freedom. He also referred peace as liberty in tranquillity.
In 19th Century, Cicero works find relevance in the development of Newman’s Liberal Education (Bornet & Rabeschini 45-50). This ideal benefits from his ethical contributions. Newman praises, Cicero as the architect of Latin philosophical knowledge (Bornet & Rabeschini 45-50). The works of Cicero have monumental reverence in natural law and rights in the West. While drawing from the philosophical aspects of Cicero, the precepts of natural laws can be made. He was critical of developing the legal system which is in accordance with natural law. This leads to inclinations that formulate the laws of nature (Contreras 34-56). Cicero is vocal on the aspects that contribute to freedom. Cicero lays the foundation in the knowledge of the civil law that finds application in the modern time which conforms to the natural law (Contreras 34-56). The fundamental law that find application in human nature is necessary for the derivation of the right and the wrong. Cicero’s advocacy for what is right is effective in the natural law and forms the basis of prudency in human life (Palma, David & Gilbert 57-59).
The thoughts and works of Cicero find great application in the various schools of law. Many derivations of the law such as constitution infer from the reasoning of Cicero. He says that the honourable things in life are based on virtues while those which are disgraceful are based on vices. Striving for the virtuous ways is conforming to the laws of nature (Contreras 34-56). Cicero is of the view on the idea of utility which accord for what is right. For instance there is rightful to possession of the property and resources (Marincola 45-54). Work by Cicero proposes for what is good and right in the society. It is emphasizes on the structural system of justice. The vocation of one’s life is doing what is right and maintaining the common good in the society. In the current age, this is important since it helps in formation of the structures of justice. His principles have been crucial in criminal and justice system in the country. The contribution of Cicero was effected in the formulation of the constitution especially in the United States. Cicero has been revered as the greatest contributor to the Western thoughts. The tenets of the legal system draws much from Cicero’s views.
The work of Cicero finds relevance in his time and in the modern society. He is a perfect philanthropist and a philosopher who extended his knowledge for the common good of the people. The scholarly work that was done by Cicero provides the knowledge base for future reference. The philosopher cum orator advocated for just in the society and observance of the moral code (Contreras 34-56). He was against tyranny and any form of corruption that existed in the old days. He is an exemplary character that leaders in the current age need to emulate. He represents a man of stature who stood for what is right in the society. Much of Cicero influence was in criminal and legal system. His accounts have been widely been absorbed in doors of justice. The formation American constitution was based on the Cicero’s inspired thoughts. He tells us people are born with the vocational role of doing right in the society. No one is above the law and liberty means that each person can do things at his or her own peril provided there is no confliction with other peoples’ rights (Marincola 45-54). Entrenchment of Cicero’s teaching in the modern law shows how ingenious his thoughts were. Western civilization, especially the formation of legal system, drew much from Cicero’s work.
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