Week 10

Cicero and the Decay of the Republic, 150 BC to death of Cicero, 43 BC.

The story of Rome in the first century BC is an extraordinary drama. The men who lived out this century, transformed Rome from an agrarian republic to an international empire. They wrecked the old republic as they all got rich, expanded the state, and unintentionally destroyed old Rome. In the middle of the drama, two brilliant men stand out, lifelong friends, leaders of the state, and finally mortal enemies: Julius Caesar and Cicero. If you know their stories then you understand what happened to the Roman Republic. The Chronology below allows you to have some context and to see that the gradual erosion of the republic was going on for a hundred years before the great terrible days of Caesar and Cicero.

139 BC First Servile War, Sicily
Four hundred slaves accepted the call of Eunus to massacre the free population in the town of Enna; slaves poured from the farms and private dungeons of Sicily, swelling the number of the rebels to 70,000. They occupied Agrigentum and defeated the forces of the Roman praetor. They held nearly all of the island till 131, when a consular army penned them into Enna and starved the rebels into surrender.
133 Tiberius Gracchus
Tiberius Gracchus introduced his Agrarian Reform Laws, provoking massive opposition. He was assassinated in 133. His brother Caius continued the reform. He tried to pack the Senate, but it opposed his effort. He began to block the Gracchan reforms. The matter led to blows in the Forum in 121.   Caius Gracchus died in 121 BC.  His mother was Cornelia.
119 Marius returned as Tribune
118 Abolition of the Land Board
106 Birth of Cicero, birth of Pompey
104–100 Marius elected to the Consulate ( four times), an action against the Constitution
101 Marius triumphant against German tribes (the Teutones), greeted in Rome as a savior, later became rich with spoils of war
103-99 Second Servile War, Sicily
100 Birth of Julius Caesar
91 Drusus proposes citizenship to all; Italians and Romans enraged.  A social war erupts in Italy, against Rome. Drusus was assassinated. War between Rome and rest of Italy begins.
90 Rome proclaimed an independent federal republic; independence from Rome declared at Confinium
89 Rome ends war with Italians, awards a watered-down citizenship.
88 Sulla as Consul; flight of Marius
87 Marius, a reign of terror
83 Sulla lands at Brundisium, begins march to Rome.
82 Sulla takes Rome.
78 Sulla dies.
73-71 Third Servile War, Spartacus
70 Pompey and Crassus were Consuls; Virgil born

Cicero, and the Republic, Cicero and Julius Caesar, Lifelong friends, lifelong enemies.
Cicero's last days: martyr for freedom.



Selected Works,

translated by Michael Grant,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140440992

In this collection of Cicero's works read the following: the excellent introduction by Michael Grant, Part One (Section 2) "Selection from His Correspondence, "Part One (Section 3) "The Second Philippic"

We are very lucky to have a paperback edition of the wonderful new biography of Cicero available to us for our class this Fall. The Everitt biography is the first new biography of Cicero in many years and it is the best I have ever read. It is a total pleasure and if you find Cicero to be as interesting as I do then you will want to own the Everitt book.

Anthony Everitt,

Cicero: the Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician,

New York: Random House (2002),

ISBN 037575895X