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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
VIII. THE GREAT AGE OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC, 264-31 B.C.
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MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO
We have seen how steadily since the days of the Gracchi the Roman state had been moving toward the rule of one man. Marius, Sulla, and Pompey each represent a step in the direction of monarchy. Yet there were still able and patriotic leaders at Rome who believed in the old order of things and tried their best to uphold the fast-perishing republic. No republican statesman was more devoted to the constitution than Cicero. A native of Arpinum, the same Italian town which had already given birth to Marius, Cicero came to Rome a youth without wealth or family influence. He made his way into Roman society by his social and conversational powers and by his capacity for friendship. His mind had been carefully trained under the influence of Hellenic culture; he had traveled and studied in Greece; and throughout life he loved to steal away from the tumult of the Forum and the law courts and enjoy the companionship of his books. Though the proud nobles were inclined to look down on him as a "new man," Cicero's splendid eloquence soon gave him prominence in politics. He ranks in fame as the second orator of antiquity, inferior only to Demosthenes.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy