Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), Roman orator and statesman, was born at Arpinum of a wealthy local family. He was taken to Rome for his education with the idea of a public career and by the year 70 he had established himself as the leading barrister in Rome. In the meantime his political career was well under way and he was elected praetor for the year 66.
One of the most permanent features of his political life was his attachment to Pompeii. As a politician, his greatest failing was his consistent refusal to compromise; as a statesman his ideals were more honourable and unselfish than those of his contemporaries.
Cicero was the greatest of the Roman orators, possessing a wide range of technique and an exceptional command of the Latin tongue. He followed the common practice of publishing his speeches, but he also produced a large number of works on the theory and practice of rhetoric, on religion, and on moral and political philosophy. He played a leading part in the development of the Latin hexameter.
Perhaps the most interesting of all his works is the collection of 900 remarkably informative letters, published posthumously. These not only contain a first-hand account of social and political life in the upper classes at Rome, but also reflect the changing personal feelings of an emotional and sensitive man.
A happy life consists in tranquillity of mind.
A life of peace, purity, and refinement leads to a calm and untroubled old age.
A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.
Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body.
Diseases of the soul are more dangerous and more numerous than those of the body.
Freedom is a possession of inestimable value.
Friendship make prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
I prefer the most unfair peace to the most righteous war.
It is a brief period of life that is granted us by nature, but the memory of a well-spent life never dies.
Let your desires be ruled by reason.
Live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts.
Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.
No one can speak well, unless he thoroughly understands his subject.
Our span of life is brief, but is long enough for us to live well and honestly.
Peace is freedom in tranquillity.
Philosophy, rightly defined, is simply the love of wisdom.
Reason should direct and appetite obey.
The first duty of a man is the seeking after and the investigation of truth.
The shifts of Fortune test the reliability of friends.
The welfare of the people is the ultimate law.
There are some duties we owe even to those who have wronged us. There is, after all, a limit to retribution and punishment.
There is no duty more obligatory than the repayment of kindness.
There is nothing so ridiculous but some philosopher has said it.
To be content with what one has is the greatest and truest of riches.
We do not destroy religion by destroying superstition.
We must not say every mistake is a foolish one.
Where is there dignity unless there is honesty?
While there’s life, there’s hope.