The review of Cicero the statesman. By Smith, R E. New York: Cambridge University P, 1966. v-286.
The fact that Cicero was one of the best lawyers, orators, and political philosophers in the world, is not surprising to a lot of students, scholars and educated society. Many are even familiar with the history of the Roman Empire and the Roman republic. Form the first glance Professor Smith from the Manchester University wrote “another” book about Cicero and Rome. However, it is not ann ordinary book because instead of retelling the history it analyses and evaluates it. The author gives a lot of arguments to the main thesis, which states that the political situation in Rome and the personality of Cicero himself gave rise to Cicero. The result is that the book to less experienced researchers leaves a pretty good understanding about the rise of Cicero and the decline of the Roman Republic during the century before the Common Era. Nonetheless, the lack off footnotes, other recourses or any other support of the arguments reduces the value of the book.
Marcus Tullius Cicero was born on 3 January 106 BCC in Arpinum, really close to Rome; however, he was born to a family, which did no
According to Smith, Cicero had no choice but to try to enter the poolitics. The book’s second, fifth, ninth and eleventh chapters precisely deal with how Cicero was struggling to become a politician in the Roman Republic. He was deepening his understanding and broadening his experience of oratory art, making connections with important people, demonstrating to the society his lawyer’s skills. The book’s fourth chapter is exactly dedicated to Cicero’s as lawyer’s achievements. The most significant, according to Smith, was his victory in defending Sextus Roscius in court, after which Cicero had been as
However, in other chapters the biographer tries to prove that it was the chaos and corruption and unusual personality of Cicero that made him famous. Rome faced the dictatorship of Sulla and the conspiracy of Catiline to become a dictator, the cruelty of General Julius Caesar, and the betrayal of Octavian in less than fifty years. Furthermore, the author in the same chapters tries to convince that Cicero had different values than the majority of the politicians; he was able to sacrifice his life for justice, the rights of people and the republican way of governing the country. As Smith himself concluded “had Cicero’s background and ideals been different had he not been brought up in the atmosphere which exalted the nobility.” ( Cicero the statesman, 26).
In conclusion, the book was well written if the book was dedicated to less experienced researchers of Cicero and Ancient Rome. The language is pretty simple and the book is easy to read. It is interesting, how the author distributed the information to chapters, there are not an
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Stockton David. Cicero: a political biography. New York: Oxford University P, 1971.
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