John Adams said of Cicero, "All ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher combined." Voltaire said of Cicero, "He taught us how to think." And yet Anthony Everitt’s authoritative yet accessible work is the first one-volume biography of the Roman statesman in over 25 years.
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 here as a witty and cunning political operator.
©2001 Anthony Everitt (P)2014 Recorded Books
“Using Cicero’s letters to his good friend Atticus, among other sources, Everitt recreates the fascinating world of political intrigue, sexual decadence and civil unrest of Republican Rome… Everitt’s first book is a brilliant study that captures Cicero’s internal struggles and insecurities as well as his external political successes." (Publishers Weekly)
"Comprehensive, accessible survey of the personal and political life of lawyer, politician, philosopher, and crank Marcus Tullius Cicero… Masterfully lucid and compelling; sure to be required reading in the Cicero canon." (Kirkus Reviews)
This is as solid a portrait of the great Roman statesman as you will find anywhere. And while the account is something of a whirlwind tour of an expansive life, Everitt does a good job maintaining focus through all the distractions of what was perhaps the most storied era in ancient history.
Cicero is one of the leading influences on western political and cultural thought. In fact, it’s through the numerous citations elsewhere in history that I had become familiar with his works — John Adams in particular heaped on the praise — and eventually my interest was piqued enough to visit the source directly.
What's most interesting about Cicero is that his works were less original creations than an articulation of the values and philosophies of his time. He had that knack of packaging up complex concepts into palatable, eloquent and timeless diction. So timeless, in fact, that their effects linger today in very direct ways.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
Not as good as Everitt's biography of Augustus, but better than his biography of Hadrian. Everitt is clearly passionate and good at classical narratives. His biographies are quick, easy, and summarize the subjects well. He doesn't add much new to the history. He isn't challenging or overthrowing assumptions about Cicero or the other major players, but he weaves a nice story and makes Classical history approachable.
Everitt does a fine job of balancing the different aspects of Cicero. His skill as an orator, his hits and misses as a politician, his defense of the Republic, his rationality all get their time and moment. Everitt also blends in Cicero's weaknesses: his vanity, his missteps/vacillation in politics, his zeal in persecuting Mark Anthony, and his cowardice.
The weakness of this biography is while Everitt might be aiming at a form of mild historical rehabilitation, I'm not sure Cicero was ever really in need of rehabilitation. While he was often unlucky during his life (unlike Julius Caesar the birds never seemed to be on Cicero's side) after his 'good death' Cicero seems to have flourished.
The volume and quality of Cicero's writings that survived the fall of Rome have made Cicero into one of the hero/gods of the Roman Republic. His genius survives. Cicero will always be known more now for what he wrote and thought than for what he did. Caesar may have been deified by decree of the Roman Senate on 1 January 42 BC, but Cicero's own writings have made him immortal. He lives on in Machiavelli, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill. As Emperor Augustus observed to one of his grandsons upon seeing him reading a book by Cicero: "An eloquent man, my child, an eloquent man, and a patriot." Not a bad epitaph from the Caesar who had you killed.
A little too much context background for readers who've explored the republic before, but overall, very pleasurable. I would've like much details and commentary on his speeches.
This book provides a comprehensive depiction of Cicero lives and times.
I have learned a lot from this book, not only from the facts that were presented, but also from the hints into Cicero character and motives, insights that went deeper than "he was the defender of republic and paid the price". A lesson to our modern republican statesmen all over the world: it is cool to be on the right side, but being right doesn't say you can skip being wise.
Superb reading indeed.
I like to read but listening is better.
I do not usually read biographies, simply because I prefer to read histories on a broader scale. However, I found that this book was a good way to learn about Roman history in the first century BC. This was a very interesting read. The narrator was a good fit. If you are looking to read about the transition of Rome from a nation ruled by a republic to an emperor ruled by the caesars, this is a good place to start.
Overall there was some good bio detail & some comment & a bit of analysis of Cicero's written work & his speeches. But, according to me not enough detail about either his speeches or written work. With 20-20 hindsight I think I would have been better off listening to Cicero's speeches & listening to his written work product.
I did like the way the author developed some of the persons around Cicero, I. also think the author did a good job pointing out Cicero's paradox within Cicero during his Lee. Also a good account of Cicero' dearth & events leading up to his death.
if you are interested in politics, rhetoric, or 'just' the lives of great men, it does not get much better than Cicero. This book is a great modern biography of the man.
I have read a number of biographies and accounts of the period of Rome from the 1st to the 2nd triumvirate.
Hearing it, quite often in the exact (well, ok, translated) words of Cicero gives a new vantage and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Author manages to sympathise with Cicero without making him flawless which adds a depth I sometimes find lacking in biographical works.
I got lost very occasionally in some of the names of minor figures but not to great detriment.
Narration excellent which is too often not the case in such works.
"An excellent history"
This is a clear and scholarly biography of Cicero, with a detailed background to the legal, political and military events. Mary Beard slagged it off in the London Review of Books, basically because the author relies on contemporaneous documents, confines himself to his subject and doesn't talk about what Cicero has meant to successive generations. That's probably the best endorsement a real scholar could ask for.
Buy this book if you want to learn about Cicero and his life and times. Don't buy it if you want someone to interpret the history of late republican Rome to suit current fashions.
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