Cicero: A Sketch of His Life and Works

By Hannis Taylor | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
CICERO'S GREEK CULTURE

IN THE preceding chapter an attempt was made to indicate in a general way the intellectual conditions surrounding life at Rome, on its philosophic and juristic sides, when Marcus Tullius Cicero, the predestined leader of the Roman bar, was born to a family of equestrian rank, the upper-middle class, on his father's estate at Arpinum, on January 3, 106 B.C.

Born on the farm at Arpinum, January 3, 106 B.C.

His paternal grandfather Marcus, still living when Cicero was born, was a country gentleman of the old school who opposed all innovations, even the introduction of vote by ballot into Arpinum, which had received the Roman franchise some time before.1 He so hated the Greeks as to say that his countrymen were like Syrian slaves -- the more Greek they knew, the greater rascals they were. His father, also called Marcus, a retiring country gentleman of delicate health, simply cared to live among his books on the ancestral estate, where his gravest concern was the direction of the education of his two sons, Marcus Tullius and his brother Quintus.2

Paternal grandmother.

Father

____________________
1
From the De Legibus, iii, 16, 36, we learn that "our grandfather, a man of singular virtue in this town of Arpinum, as long as he lived opposed Gratidius (whose sister, our grandmother, he had married) when he wanted to introduce the law of ballot. For Gratidius was raising a storm in a ladle, as the proverb is, as his son Marius afterward did in the Aegean Sea. To such length did the quarrel proceed, that the consul Scaurus, when he was informed of what had happened, made this remark of our grandfather: 'Would to heaven, Cicero, that a man of your courage and honor had better loved to live in the capital of our commonwealth than to bury yourself in a municipal town.'"
2
In De Orat., ii, I, Cicero speaks of his father as "optimi ac prudentissimi viri."

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