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“Cicero is not the name of a man,” declared Quintilian, “but of eloquence itself.” Cicero is to Latin what Shakespeare is to English. He is almost entirely responsible for developing Latin, at the time a narrow, utilitarian tongue, into a language capable of communicating the exactness of science, the beauty of poetry, and the abstraction of philosophy. Indeed, his influence is so far-reaching that many linguists argue that all the literary movements until the nineteenth century were either a reaction against or a return to Cicero.
Born into an influential family and given a good education, he excelled at an early age. He travelled to Greece to learn from the Greek rhetoricians, adapting their style for Latin and making it a distinct part of his own delivery. He translated Greek philosophical concepts into Latin, creating neologisms that remain in use (e.g., humanitas, qualitas). His letters, when rediscovered by Petrarch in 1345, started the movement that became the Renaissance. His treatise On Duties was the second book printed on Gutenberg’s printing press. His influence carried into the Enlightenment, exercising great sway over the thought of John Locke, David Hume, and Montesquieu. His works are also cited as highly influential on the leaders of the American and French Revolutions. His collected letters remain some of the most important primary-source documents for historians of Ancient Rome.
Select Works of Cicero contains, in 36 volumes, 60 of Cicero’s works in their Loeb Classical Library editions. Each text is included in its original Latin with an English translation for side-by-side comparison. Use Logos’ language tools to go deeper into the Latin text and explore Cicero’s brilliance and elegance. You can also use the dictionary lookup tool to examine difficult English words used by the translator. If you are at all interested in the study of rhetoric, philosophy, or Latin—whether you are a classical scholar who wants the convenience of Cicero at a click or a student approaching Latin for the first time—Select Works of Cicero is a must.
As all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united than Cicero, his authority should have great weight.
Marcus Tullius Cicero expressed principles that became the bedrock of liberty in the modern world.
Cicero’s unique and imperishable glory is that he created the language of the civilized world, and used that language to create a style which nineteen centuries have not replaced, and in some respects have hardly altered.
—John William Mackail
. . . the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language.
M. Tullius Cicero (106–43 BC) was born to a family of the equestrian class in Ardinum. Cicero’s father was an influential man in the community who placed great emphasis on education. Cicero was educated by his father and then by private teachers, who instructed him in Greek oratory and philosophy. Cicero studied Roman law under Quintus Mucius Scaevola. After winning his first case, Cicero left Rome to visit Greece, Asia Minor, and Rhodes. While in Greece, Cicero studied rhetoric with a number of famous rhetoricians in Athens. Upon his return to Rome, he became quite involved in political life. He ascended the Roman hierarchy, becoming a quaestor at age 31, an aedile at 37, a praetor at 40 and, at 43, a consul, the highest office. For a time he was exiled for executing, without trial, a group of Roman citizens who had plotted to kill him and overthrow the republic. Upon his return, Cicero was caught up in the standoff between Julius Caesar and the senate. When civil war broke out, Cicero took the side of the Republic (against Caesar), though he attempted to maintain some good will with Caesar. After Caesar’s assassination, Cicero fell out with Mark Antony, who had him murdered.