Despite his shortcomings, writes Colin Davies, the great orator served his city with unselfish zeal; sensitiveness, determination and humanity characterized both Cicero's public and private life.

Marcus Tullius Cicero was born on January 3rd in the year 106 B.C. in the small country town of Arpinum among the Volscian mountains which separated Latium from Campania in central Italy. His people had been reduced to dependence on Rome about two hundred years before Cicero was born and were known as ‘citizens without the right of suffrage’.

But they appear to have acquiesced in their humble status by the end of the second century B.C., serving as required in the Roman legions, but without political and certain other social privileges either in Arpinum or at Rome. Any young man born in such humble and restricted circumstances would have been laughed to scorn by his contemporaries if he had shown any ambitious yearning for the rewards of legal advancement and political office in Rome itself.

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