Cicero studied law and philosophy at Rome, Athens, and Rhodes. His political posts included those of curule aedile (69 B.C.), praetor (66 B.C.), and consul (63 B.C.). He was always a member of the senatorial party, and as a party leader he successfully prosecuted Catiline. Later he was unable to prove that he had legal sanction to execute five members of Catiline's group, and on the charge of illegality he was exiled (58 B.C.) by his personal enemy, Clodius. He was recalled by Pompey the following year and was hailed as a hero.
Strongly opposed to Julius Caesar, Cicero was a leader of the party that caused him to convene (56 B.C.) the triumvirate at Lucca. In 51 B.C. he was governor of Cilicia, and on his return he joined Pompey against Caesar. After the civil war Caesar forgave Cicero, and he lived in honor at Rome under the dictatorship. He did not take part in the assassination of Caesar, but he applauded it.
He and Marc Antony were bitter enemies, and Antony attacked Cicero in the senate. Cicero replied in the First Philippic and the Second Philippic, in which he sought to defend the republic. When the Second Triumvirate was formed, Octavian (later Augustus), who had been supported by Cicero against Antony, allowed Antony to put Cicero's name among those condemned, and Cicero was put to death on Dec. 7, 43 B.C.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.