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Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician (original 2001; edition 2003)

by Anthony Everitt

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1,318215,903 (3.95)82
Member:hemlokgang
Title:Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician
Authors:Anthony Everitt
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2003), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, To read (inactive)
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Tags:Non-Fiction, Biography, TBR, 999 Challenge

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Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician by Anthony Everitt (2001)

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
This is a very well written biography of the great Roman orator, lawyer and statesman. I read this straight after finishing the final volume of Robert Harris's excellent trilogy of novels about his life. Cicero was at the centre of the great events of the middle part of the 1st century BC, the critical two decades which saw the demise of the Roman Republic whose values of (by the standards of the time, and sometimes more theoretical than practical) democracy, checks and balances and the rule of law he held so dear. As a principled pragmatist, he stood in mostly consistent opposition to the growing tendency towards one man rule in the times of Caesar, Pompey, Mark Antony and finally Octavian. His writings betray a humanism which is rare by the standards of his contemporaries. Many of his speeches, hundreds of his letters and a number of philosophical and political works survive and provide a rich trove of classical thought to which we should be indebted two millennia after their author lived and died. His final demise, hunted down and killed on the run by soldiers hired by Octavian, is ignominious, but his name rightly lived on and still does as one of the greatest and best figures of his time. ( )
  john257hopper | Mar 4, 2017 |
Biography that places Cicero well in context - but a little tedious.
Read Nov 2006 ( )
  mbmackay | Dec 6, 2015 |
Cicero leapt onto the public stage at twenty-six, came of age during Spartacus’ famous revolt of the gladiators and presided over Roman law and politics for almost half a century. He foiled the legendary Catiline conspiracy, advised Pompey, the victorious general who brought the Middle East under Roman rule, and fought to mobilize the Senate against Caesar. He witnessed the conquest of Gaul, the civil war that followed and Caesar’s dictatorship and assassination. Cicero was a legendary defender of freedom and a model, later, to French and American revolutionaries who saw themselves as following in his footsteps in their resistance to tyranny. ( )
  MarkBeronte | Mar 4, 2014 |
A well written biography on Cicero, provides good insight to the hows and whys of the death of the Republic and the task thrust upon the man. Parts of the books subject matter were fairly dry for me though, hence the rating. Regardless I look forward to reading the authors other biographies on Roman figures. ( )
  Luftwaffe_Flak | Feb 6, 2014 |
this reads like a really even-handed rendition of history. it seems unbiased and honest. it mostly reads easily. i should probably rate it higher but i was just not in the mood for this right now, and i found it hard to get through in large parts. i do think this is due more to my frame of mind than the book itself, though, so my rating is likely unfair. and i did learn some things that felt like more accurate history than what i'd read in some historical fiction in the past from this time period. ( )
  elisa.saphier | Dec 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Despite some nasty howlers in the Latin (why bother to use Latin words if you, or your editors, can’t get them right?), it turns into a businesslike tale, told with a sometimes engaging enthusiasm for its subject and a good eye for the spicier detail of late Republican life. At the same time, like most modern biographies of Cicero, it is also consistently disappointing. Everitt’s conventional ‘back-to-the-ancient-sources’ approach leaves him repeatedly at the mercy of the biographical and cultural assumptions of the one surviving ancient biography.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 037575895X, Paperback)

“All ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher combined.”
—John Adams

He squared off against Caesar and was friends with young Brutus. He advised the legendary Pompey on his somewhat botched transition from military hero to politician. He lambasted Mark Antony and was master of the smear campaign, as feared for his wit as he was for exposing his opponents’ sexual peccadilloes. Brilliant, voluble, cranky, a genius of political manipulation but also a true patriot and idealist, Cicero was Rome’s most feared politician, one of the greatest lawyers and statesmen of all times. Machiavelli, Queen Elizabeth, John Adams and Winston Churchill all studied his example. No man has loomed larger in the political history of mankind.

In this dynamic and engaging biography, Anthony Everitt plunges us into the fascinating, scandal-ridden world of ancient Rome in its most glorious heyday. Accessible to us through his legendary speeches but also through an unrivaled collection of unguarded letters to his close friend Atticus, Cicero comes to life in these pages as a witty and cunning political operator.

Cicero leapt onto the public stage at twenty-six, came of age during Spartacus’ famous revolt of the gladiators and presided over Roman law and politics for almost half a century. He foiled the legendary Catiline conspiracy, advised Pompey, the victorious general who brought the Middle East under Roman rule, and fought to mobilize the Senate against Caesar. He witnessed the conquest of Gaul, the civil war that followed and Caesar’s dictatorship and assassination. Cicero was a legendary defender of freedom and a model, later, to French and American revolutionaries who saw themselves as following in his footsteps in their resistance to tyranny.

Anthony Everitt’s biography paints a caustic picture of Roman politics—where Senators were endlessly filibustering legislation, walking out, rigging the calendar and exposing one another’s sexual escapades, real or imagined, to discredit their opponents. This was a time before slander and libel laws, and the stories—about dubious pardons, campaign finance scandals, widespread corruption, buying and rigging votes, wife-swapping, and so on—make the Lewinsky affair and the U.S. Congress seem chaste.

Cicero was a wily political operator. As a lawyer, he knew no equal. Boastful, often incapable of making up his mind, emotional enough to wander through the woods weeping when his beloved daughter died in childbirth, he emerges in these pages as intensely human, yet he was also the most eloquent and astute witness to the last days of Republican Rome.

On Cicero:

“He taught us how to think."
—Voltaire

“I tasted the beauties of language, I breathed the spirit of freedom, and I imbibed from his precepts and examples the public and private sense of a man.”
—Edward Gibbon

“Who was Cicero: a great speaker or a demagogue?”
—Fidel Castro


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:34 -0400)

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A portrait of the Roman politician describes the life and times of the ancient statesman, based on the witty and candid letters that Cicero wrote to his friend Atticus in which he described the events and personalities that shaped the final days of Republican Rome.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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