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Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician Paperback – May 6 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 6 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037575895X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375758959
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #156,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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. Against this backdrop, he offers a lively chronicle of Cicero's life. Best known as Rome's finest orator and rhetorician, Cicero (103 -43 B.C.) situated himself at the center of Roman politics. By the time he was 30, Cicero became a Roman senator, and 10 years later he was consul. Opposing Julius Caesar and his attempt to form a new Roman government, Cicero remained a thorn in Caesar's side until the emperor's assassination. Cicero supported Pompey's attempts during Caesar's reign to bring Rome back to republicanism. Along the way, Cicero put down conspiracies, won acquittal for a man convicted of parricide, challenged the dictator Sulla with powerful rhetoric about the decadence of Sulla's regime and wrote philosophical treatises. Everitt deftly shows how Cicero used his oratorical skills to argue circles around his opponents. More important, Everitt portrays Cicero as a man born at the wrong time. While Cicero vainly tried to find better men to run government and better laws to keep them in order, Republican Rome was falling down around him, never to return to the glory of Cicero's youth. A first-rate complement to Elizabeth Rawson's Cicero or T.N. Mitchell's monumental two-volume biography, Everitt's first book is a brilliant study that captures Cicero's internal struggles and insecurities as well as his external political successes. Maps. (On sale June 11)
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Everitt's first book is a good read that anyone interested in ancient Rome will enjoy. It is also the first one-volume life of the Roman leader in 25 years. To create a work that flowed and was therefore more colorful for the lay reader, Everitt, the former secretary-general of the Arts Council for Great Britain, has taken liberties when describing a person or a place that may annoy scholars. Yet reading this book is an excellent way to understand the players of the period and the culture that produced them. Bloody, articulate, erudite, sexist, slave-owning-Cicero and his circle were all that, but Everitt is careful to recognize that the orator was a product of his age. This is not strictly a political history; Everitt scrutinizes Roman society in discussing events of the orator's life and, when describing Cicero's marriage, acquaints the reader with various aspects of that institution and the home of the era. Throughout, he is willing to admit when the evidence for a theory is weak and when he is extrapolating from the assumptions of scholars. Recommended for public and undergraduate collections.
Clay Williams, Hunter Coll. Lib., New York
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
To understand Cicero's life, which spanned the first two thirds of the first century BC, it is necessary to picture the world in which he lived, and especially the nature of Roman politics. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Yanick Dube on Nov. 12 2010
Format: Paperback
No contest, Cicero is an important figure of 1st century BC Rome, which comes alive through his voluminous correspondence, a large chunk of which has been published in Ancient times. Unfortunately, this biography reads, at times, too much like a digest of this correspondence. And despite the abundance of this material, I am still puzzled as to the man's motivations and even his accomplishments. At least half the book is dedicated to providing enough context to understand his actions and thoughts, but I find myself wishing for several hundred pages more so that the man can be exposed more fully. This book is an OK read for a first foray into Rome's history in this period and Cicero, but if you are interested in the orator, this is nothing more than a decent introduction.
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Format: Paperback
This is a standard biography of Cicero's life, written well to meet those aims. Everitt drops in nice tidbits of Roman life--shopping malls, insurance-arson scams, and Vestigial Virgin drag queens--but this biography lacks both A.) historical perspective and B.) philosophical perspective on Cicero. Someone who knows little of Cicero before reading this book, would not know a whole more about Cicero's worldview. We learn that he believed in the representative Republic, in some degree of personal freedom--but he also believed in deterministic, pantheistic Stoicism. How could these be reconciled? How is determinism and liberty compatible? How is determinism and virtue compatible? How could these beliefs impact the Founding Fathers? This is what lacks from the book--why Cicero's beliefs led to his life, and why his life led to the Enlightenment.
This book nonetheless does it's basic job, and the portrayals of Cato, Pompey, Caesar, and Octavian are strong. Cato comes off as the noble idealist--as Cicero would have seen him--and the emperors and would-be emperors come off as the practical power mongerers that they probably were. Crassus and Cataline are like cartoonish villains, yet, by their idiotic deeds and schemes they might have been. This would be a good book simply to flesh out one's knowledge of a time slowly being forgotten in the Postmodern West.
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Format: Hardcover
Anthony Everitt's biography of Cicero is a fine yet pedestrian account of the ancient politician. In almost every respects, it could serve as the basis for an A&E or History Channel documentary; it outlines the basic facts, presents a scandal or two, but does nothing to engage the mind or reveal deep truths about the human condition. This book is neither insightful nor provocative, like Christian Meier's Caesar. Nor does Everitt adequately explain why Cicero held such a fascination for generations to come, including (if not especially) our own founding fathers, John Adams in particular. And for a biography about a man best remembered for his writings, precious little space is spent discussing Cicero's written ideas. One gets more of a sense of Cicero as a person from Colleen McCullough's fictional Masters of Rome series.
That's the negative. The positive is that Everitt's account is well-presented and the events surrounding Cicero's life are inherently interesting. Everitt particularly shines in depicting Cicero's activities after Caesar's assassination, arguing that for the few short months left to his life Cicero was the preeminent man of the hour - mainly because he was the last one of the elder generation left standing.
The bottom line is that Everitt's Cicero is a book that nobody should regret reading. It's a fine review of the end of the Roman Republic, and a good refresher course for those who maybe haven't visited Ancient Rome in a while. Those looking for some substance, however, and those who are serious Roman scholars, will be disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover
If your goal in reading a biography of a historical figure is to gain a new perspective on the society and culture they lived in as well as an insight into their character and personality, then you should find Anthony Everitt's "Cicero" a satisfying read. In particular, if you are interested in learning more about how Cicero advanced the art of politics during a multi-faceted career, this book will provide a fresh look at the methods -- primarily oratorical -- he employed.
This is the most accessible accounting I have read of the steadily intensifying battle between aristocracy and plebeians and of how that battle led to the rise of dictatorship. Cicero's role in trying to bridge this growing gap while protecting the integrity of the Senate forms the heart of the political side of his life as presented here. This is not to say that Everitt presents Cicero as man solely devoted to principle. On the contrary, the book highlights Cicero's early devotion to advancing his own interests and career. This led Cicero to some monumental injustices, for which he later paid a significant price.
Cicero's personal life takes on a dimension here not usually reflected in more general treatments of Roman history. His account of Cicero's devotion to his daughter, of his (Cicero's) reaction to her early death, and of how that affected Cicero's career are especially convincing.
Everitt has made copious use of the ancient sources. Much of Cicero's writings and correspondence has survived, and Everitt cites them frequently. In fact, his citations and notes on sources are a main reason why the book is so satisfying.
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