Cicero as a Political Thinker

As a political thinker Cicero has been all manner of things to all manner of men. In order to understand Cicero's political ideas, however, we need to look at the world of Rome in the first century BC, argues J.B. Morrall.

From the Renaissance until late in the nineteenth century Cicero was regarded as one of the supreme models of that Latin classical style of which everybody who was anybody in the Western cultural pattern was expected to have at least a smattering. Under this stylistic umbrella Ciceronian political ideas also seeped in to modify, as well as to be modified by, the tradition of each Western political unit.

What were these Ciceronian political ideas and the values on which they were based? Like all significant political thinkers, Cicero, in attempting to cope with the inescapable problems of his own society and age, was led to place them in a wider and more universal context, We can therefore approach him as a thinker by asking first what was the particular social dilemma that the Rome in which he lived had to confront, and secondly, to what guiding principles did he look for a way out of this dilemma?

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