E18 -

In this episode we cover Marcus Tullius Cicero, the famed statesman, lawyer, orator, and above all a lover of liberty.

Summary:

Today Cicero is often read‐​only by classical scholars and reluctant students which is a great shame because his life and philosophy reflect a sort of proto‐​liberalism that came to influence a wide variety of thinkers such as John Adams, John Locke, Adam Smith, Voltaire, and Montesquieu. His life and works have echoed throughout the western tradition of political philosophy.

Music Credit:

Pennsylvania Rose by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://​incom​petech​.film​mu​sic​.io/​s​o​n​g​/​4​2​0​1​-​p​e​n​n​s​y​l​v​a​n​i​a​-rose
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Resignation by Kevin MacLeod
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Unanswered Questions by Kevin MacLeod
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Midday Dance by Kevin MacLeod
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Myst on the Moor by Kevin MacLeod
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Industrial Revolution by Kevin MacLeod
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Gnarled Situation by Kevin MacLeod
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On the Shore by Kevin MacLeod
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Immersed by Kevin MacLeod
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Finding Movement by Kevin MacLeod
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Isolated by Kevin MacLeod
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Heartwarming by Kevin MacLeod
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Transcript

Today’s podcast is a very special episode because we will be covering one of my favourite historical figures, the famous Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Roman statesman, lawyer, orator, and philosopher. Let me state up front, I am a huge Cicero fan, all of my friends hate the way that I go on about this Roman politician from two thousand years ago, but I think I have good reasons to praise Cicero on a near‐​daily basis. Philosophy nerds all tip their hat to the ancient sages of philosophy like Plato and Aristotle, but Cicero is a much less frequently mentioned thinker. For libertarians and classical liberals, Cicero is not exactly a household name. The Romans are hardly considered liberal heroes with their love of imperialism and war. But I believe Cicero deserves a very honourable mention in the history of liberalism for his colossal influence that can be felt throughout the history of political thought.

Unlike most ancient figures, much of Cicero’s writings remain intact, including his philosophical works, speeches, and even personal letters. This leads to us having a much clearer picture of Cicero than most figures in Roman history, let alone ancient history writ large. Because of this, I have to warn you that this episode will not be a comprehensive account of Cicero’s turbulent and long career. That would take a lot more than a crisp twenty minutes or so, and I like at least try to keep things nice and short. So I will be doing my best to summarize and instead of talking for hours there will be brief highlights of Cicero’s life, then we’ll move onto discussing his ideas and subsequent legacy.

Cicero was born in 106BC in a hill town named Arpinum, around 60 miles south east of Rome. He was born into a very wealthy family with his father being a member of the equestrian order, a class of wealthy property‐​owning citizens of Rome who did not have a particularly noble lineage but had the wealth to support an aristocratic lifestyle akin to their senatorial counterparts. Due to physical infirmities, Cicero’s father could not pursue a career in politics and instead threw himself into studying to compensate for his lack of political prestige. So Cicero’s full name is Marcus Tullius Cicero. Cicero was what the Romans called his cognomen, the third name of a citizen usually like a nickname. Cicero, in fact, means chickpea! This sounds odd, but many Romans had humble cognomens, e.g. Catalus, the famous general Gaius Lutatius Catulus, Catulus, meaning puppy. The name chickpea might have originated with one of Cicero’s ancestors having a cleft lip that looked like a chickpea, or his family may have made a good life for themselves selling chickpeas. Regardless his name isn’t exactly awe‐​inspiring, and later in life, when Cicero entered politics, many of his friends advised him to drop his nickname. Instead, Cicero decided he would make the name chickpea one of the greatest names in Roman history. From a very young age, Cicero strived not only for greatness but to be the very best.

Cicero was given the best education money could buy, conversing with the best orators, poets, historians, and philosophers in Rome. As a child, he dreamed of climbing to the top of Roman political society, being elected a consul, the highest office in Rome. So he began the process of climbing the cursus honorum, the career path of a Roman politician beginning with military service. At the age of 17, Cicero began his military service during the social war, a conflict between Rome and her former Italian allies who wished to have more of a say in government. But Cicero was no soldier. After two years of service, he left military life. Cicero avoided the subsequent civil wars between the two opposing factions led by Marius and Sulla. His experience with constant civil strife led Cicero early in life to see the value in peace, moderation, and harmony.

His talents lay in oratory, debate, and reasoning; fighting was not his forte. He quickly realized that he would need an alternative path to glory, one which did not lean so heavily on military glory. Cicero had become known as quite the formidable intellect, so much so that he attracted the attention of Quintus Mucius Scaevola, one of the foremost authorities on the law of his day who trained Cicero intensely.

Under Scaevola’s tutelage, Cicero met Titus Pomponius, or as he was later known, Atticus, after the area of Attica where Athens was located. Atticus was given this name due to his love of philosophy, unlike Cicero Atticus spent most of his life avoiding politics and preferring to stick to philosophy. But despite their differences, the pair became firm friends discussing philosophy and stayed in contact despite all of the turbulence of wars, intrigue, and political jostling throughout Cicero’s life. Cicero would later come to think of Atticus as his second brother. Later in life, Cicero would write a book entitledTreatises on Friendship, which he dedicated to Atticus. In this work, Cicero wrote that “Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.” Through Cicero’s personal letters we can observe one of history’s most endearing friendships. Ok enough gushing over their bromance, back to Cicero.

Cicero began his career in earnest, as a lawyer sometime around 83–81BC. His first high profile case was the defense of a man named Sextus Roscius, who was accused of patricide, killing one’s father, a grave crime in Rome, an extremely patriarchal society. The supposed ancient punishment for patricide was to be stripped naked, beaten to a pulp, and then sewn into a leather sack containing a dog, cock, monkey, and a snake. I have no clue how all of these can fit into a single sack, but regardless, you get the point, this was an extremely controversial case to take on, especially so early in one’s career. Even more so because the man Cicero was defending was an enemy of Sulla, the then the de‐​facto dictator, it was a controversial topic and it meant opposing people in high places. Such a case could make or break Cicero’s career. Through masterful oratory, Cicero prevailed and successfully defended Sextus bringing Cicero a great deal of fame and renown, at the tender age of 26.

After this controversial case, Cicero decided to travel to Greece, possibly to avoid any reprisals from Sulla but also because of his love of philosophy. While in Greece, Cicero learned a huge amount about oratory, philosophy, and debate. Most importantly, here, Cicero honed his sense of speaking style, which would come to be his greatest asset throughout his life. Not belonging to an especially noble family with a great and long lineage, Cicero would be considered an outsider in Roman politics. By 75BC, Cicero was elected to the office of quaestor. He was one of twenty that oversaw the finances of the Roman government.

While in office, Cicero was in charge of the jurisdiction of Sicily, and while there, he earned a reputation as an honest man with a great deal of integrity, something quite rare at a time when the character of political life had become an increasingly cynical and self‐​serving. An example of this was Gaius Verres, who was a magistrate who had gained his position through bribery, and while in office, abused his power, enriching himself at the expense of the Sicilians he was supposed to be diligently serving.

Because of his high standing amongst the Sicilians, Cicero was asked to help prosecute Verres for his abuse of power. Enriched at the expense of others, Verres bought the best legal team that money could buy, which included Quintus Hortensius, who was at the time considered the best lawyer and orator in Rome. Yet again, the odds were stacked against Cicero. He prepared diligently, writing several speeches covering every possible issue. When the day finally came, Cicero gave his opening speech, which completely demolished any shred of credibility Verres had. The damage was so bad that, according to Cicero’s later writings, Horetnsius did not give a speech in reply and instead advised Verres that he should go into voluntary exile to avoid prosecution. Nine days later, Verres left for Massilia, located today in France, where he lived for the rest of his days never to return to Rome.

Cicero’s complete and unambiguous defeat of Verres made him the leading orator of Rome, completely eclipsing the former prodigy Hortensius. Since Cicero had only gotten to deliver one of his many speeches, he decided to publish the rest to further cement his glory. By now, Cicero was called a Novus homo, or a new man, meaning he was the first member of his family to serve in the Senate. In a world where familial connections dominated politics, Cicero was at a distinct disadvantage as his familial connections lacked prestige even if his family was wealthy. A new man entering the Senate was a rare occurrence, Cicero was the first in almost thirty years.

Rome had been a republic since 509BC after the overthrow of the last monarch of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. Evolving over time, the Roman government came to have elected representatives, separation of powers, a commitment to the rule of law, and a complex system of checks and balances in an attempt to ward off tyranny. When the Founding Fathers began thinking of how to establish their own republic in the 18th‐​century, they were keenly aware of the example of Rome, and it is no coincidence the American system in many ways is inspired by the Roman systems of checks and balances along with a separation of powers to ensure tyranny never took root. Importantly Cicero believed all political power received its legitimacy from the people. Throughout his career, Cicero took the stance of a constitutionalist, preferring to protect the traditional liberty of the Roman people. He dedicated himself to fighting against the demagogues of his day while also attempting to preserve the Roman constitutional system, which he believed was the key to the Roman people’s lasting liberty.

Cicero idealized the past for sure. It is hard to say exactly how great the so‐​called glory days of the republic really were, but what is clear is that Cicero wanted a system committed to the rule of law and limits on power to protect the property and rights of Roman citizens. In fact, by Cicero’s day, the republican system was waning and was beginning to crumble under intense political pressure due to the colossal size of the Roman empire; republican government made less and less sense in a state that no longer ruled just Italy but nearly the whole of the Mediterranean.

By 63BC, Cicero was elected as one of the two consuls of Rome, an extremely prestigious and powerful position at the top of the Roman political ladder. The main highlight of Cicero’s time as consul was his role in dealing with the Catalinarian conspiracy. Lucius Sirgius Catiline was a Roman aristocrat whose wealth had begun to decline rapidly. Worse yet he ran against Cicero for the position as consul, taking out loans hoping to repay them using the wealth of his newfound position. Deeply in debt and defeated in his political ambitions, Cataline had little to lose, and so, along with other disgruntled senators, he began planning a plot to overthrow the government and to implement a plan of debt cancellation and the redistribution of land, two policies Cicero had vigorously opposed throughout his career.

Cicero found out about Cataline’s plan to murder him and other senators. After Presenting his evidence to his fellow senators and delivering a convincing set of speeches on Cataline’s guilt, martial law was declared, giving Cicero absolute power to deal with the issue as he saw fit. The leading conspirators were rounded up and were executed without any form of trial. Cicero convinced his fellow senators of the necessity of executing the conspirators immediately despite the opposition of senators including the famous Julius Caesar. With the conspirators dead, Cicero was celebrated as a hero and was given the honorific title pater patriae, father of the fatherland. This was the peak of Cicero’s career; from here on out, almost inevitably, it took a downward trajectory. Despite his actions and his widespread popularity, Cicero felt uneasy about executing citizens without a trial, even in extreme circumstances. He worried that his actions might have consequences down the line.

This is exactly what happened four years later when an enemy of Cicero named Publius Clodius Pulcher proposed a new law that would exile anyone who executed a citizen without trial. The law was obviously aimed at Cicero, whom Clodius despised since Cicero had assiduously attacked his character in a court case. When Cicero saw that the political tides were turning, he accepted his fate and went into exile in Greece. While he was exiled, Clodius passed yet another bill that robbed Cicero of his properties which were desecrated and defaced beyond repair by Clodius and his supporters. Cicero was in a state of abject misery during which he even contemplated suicide, writing to his dear friend Atticus who consoled him throughout his exile.

After a year in exile Cicero returned to Italy. A testament to Cicero’s popularity, he was welcomed by cheering crowds. Upon his return to Rome, he restored his status and rejoined political life. But this was by no means a peaceful period. Three powerful men had come to be the de‐​facto leaders of Roman life, Julius Caesar, Pompey Magnus, and Marcus Crassus. Together these three formed the First Triumvirate, an alliance under which the members vowed to stay out of each other’s way while pursuing their goals of increasing their individual power and influence over Rome. But when Crassus died in 53BC while invading the Parthian empire, Julius Caesar and Pompey Magnus eventually came into conflict without a third to balance them out.

Caesar was a prominent member of the Populares, a faction of Roman politicians who supported the redistribution of land and wished to see the Roman Senate’s authority diminished. Caesar, while serving as a governor, invaded Gaul and Britannia without consent from the Senate, his campaigns were completely illegal but were massive successes with him defeating his enemies and capturing colossal masses of wealth and slaves. Once Caesar returned to Rome and was out of office he would lose his immunity and be prosecuted by the senate for starting a war without their consent. The Senate commanded Caesar to disband his army and return to Rome, but fearing prosecution at the hands of the Senate for his crimes, Caesar famously crossed the Rubicon river refusing to back down; he marched on Rome with a loyal army of veterans behind him.

Completely flabbergasted and unprepared for Caesar, the Senate floundered.Those loyal to the republic fled Italy along with Pompey, their new commander and chief. Caesar had committed all kinds of atrocities upon the tribes of Gaul, senators feared he would be just as bloodthirsty in battle against fellow Romans. Cicero followed Pompey leaving Rome to raise an army to oppose Caesar. During the four years of the civil war, Cicero’s role was limited. He constantly argued with the army commanders. He began to lose faith as the people in charge seemed more interested in personal glory rather than restoring his beloved republic. Cicero believed his side was fighting for the right cause, but he had no stomach for the war, which was quickly becoming a bloodbath. There had been civil wars before, but the magnitude of this war was shocking. Eventually, Julius Caesar defeated Pompey at the battle of Pharsalus in 48BC. With few options left, Cicero and many others surrendered. To the surprise of many, as part of his policy of clemency, Caesar generously pardoned many of his enemies and allowed them to return to Rome.

Men such as the famously stubborn Cato the Younger continued the war for a time but were eventually defeated, leading to Caesar appointing himself as dictator of Rome for a period of ten years. By 44BC, he had established himself as dictator in perpetuity, Rome was now no longer a republic. Under the dictatorship of Caesar Cicero had no real role in politics for the first time in decades. Distraught Cicero turned to writing philosophy in an attempt to occupy and console himself. If there is one good thing to come from Julius Caesar, it is that his rule gave Cicero time to write down his thoughts of how the state ought to be, a gift to later generations.

But Caesar could not stay in power forever. A conspiracy was hatched between senators who brutally stabbed Caesar to death. Though Cicero had not been involved in the conspiracy, he did not oppose Caesar’s assassination, who he believed to be a tyrant. But with Caesar dead, his former right‐​hand man Mark Antony rose to power, and for a time, Cicero and Mark Antony were the two leading figures of Rome. Cicero refused to hide his disdain for Mark Antony, who was an unabashed populist formerly aligning himself with Cicero’s arch‐​rival, Clodius. Cicero saw Mark Antony as a new dictatorial threat to the delicately re‐​established republic. At this time, Cicero held a large degree of popular support as a moderating figure attempting to establish harmony to maintain the delicate balance.

Caesar’s adoptive heir Octavian entered the fray; we now know Octavian as Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. Cicero delivered a set of devastating speeches named the Philippics, where he brutally attacked Mark Antony and urged that the Senate label him as an enemy of the state. Though he garnered a huge amount of support from the Senate, Augustus, Mark Antony, and another powerful figure named Ledipus cemented a new alliance forming the Second Triumvirate. Immediately they set their plan in motion and published a list of their enemies who were to be executed, and their property confiscated, Cicero, for his republican values and opposition to Antony, was included on the list of those doomed to die.

Deeply offended by Cicero’s damning speeches, it is no surprise that Mark Anthony had him at the top of his hit list. In yet another testament to his popularity, many lied about Cicero’s whereabouts or said that they had not seen him. But eventually, Cicero was caught attempting to board a ship in a vain attempt to escape Italy. Cornered, Cicero accepted his fate bravely extending his neck and getting one last insult in mocking his killers by saying, “There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly.” His hands, head, and tongue were cut off and displayed in the middle of Rome for all to see, showing just how much Antony hated him. One story from a Roman historian records Antony’s wife taking Cicero’s head and cutting out his tongue, stabbing it repeatedly with a hairpin.

With Cicero dead, the republic did not last, and eventually, Augustus prevailed, establishing the Roman empire not headed by elected representatives but instead by one almighty emperor. But the name of Cicero lived on, and he was still greatly respected even by his enemies. Years after the death of Cicero, Augustus stumbled upon one of his grandsons reading one of Cicero’s books, the boy knowing Cicero had been an enemy to Augustus, tried his best to hide the work. Augustus took the book from his hands and read it for a while. He then handed it back to the scared child and said, “a learned man, my child, a learned man and a lover of his country.” Such was the reputation of Cicero that even those who opposed him saw his brilliance. Later the Roman writer, Quinatillian wrote, “the name of Cicero has come to be regarded not as the name of a man, but of eloquence itself.”

So Cicero failed in preserving his beloved republic. Does this mean he was a failure? In my opinion, not by a longshot. There is an old saying that the victors write history, and while there is some element of truth to this adage, the victors do not always emerge as the heroes respected by observers of the past.

Cicero has been admired throughout the ages. To prove my point, let’s look at just one of Cicero’s many books, De Officiis or in English On Duties, a moral treatise written by Cicero toward the end of his life. Early Christian thinkers, such as the church father Augustine was such a big fan of Cicero; that his detractors would say he was more of a Ciceronian than a Christian. From the medieval ages, to today, we have hundreds of handwritten copies of De Officiis, a testament to Cicero’s popularity as a moral thinker. In the medieval ages, Cicero was being quoted by thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas, one of the most revered church fathers, John of Salisbury, who argued in favour of deposing and killing tyrannical rulers, and Marsilius of Padua, an Italian thinker that put forth one of the earliest writings demanding the separation of church and state.

During the Renaissance, Cicero was deemed to be the pinnacle of eloquence and his style was constantly copied by humanists like Petrarch, who wished to mimic the silver‐​tongued ways of their favorite Roman. When the Gutenberg printing press was invented De Officiis was the third book printed.

During the enlightenment, Cicero held sway over a great number of authorities in the field of political philosophy. He was often quoted by esteemed figures such as John Locke, David Hume, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Adam Smith. In fact, Smith quoted Cicero often in his writings, but because his words were so commonplace, Smith rarely cited him, as to do so would insult the readers’ intelligence as Cicero was so widely read. Thomas Gordon and John Trenchard, who penned Cato’s Letters famous for their radicalism, often quoted Cicero with Gordon even referring to him as the “hero of his history,” high praise indeed.

Cicero’s De Officiis was read by so many throughout the western world across the centuries that it is no exaggeration to say that his moral philosophy and political thought was massively influential in the history of western thought. Cicero failed in preserving the Roman republic, but oddly he won the war of ideas with his thought being a prominent strain in western intellectual life for centuries. Until the 1800s Cicero’s name was a near inescapable occurrence in the field of political philosophy.

But what was Cicero writing in his books that were passed down from generation to generation? The answer is a philosophy that lends itself quite well to liberalism in many ways.

Cicero thought of humans as a middle point between gods and beasts; he wrote that “for whereas nature made other animals stoop down to feed, she made man alone erect, encouraging him to gaze at the heavens as being, so to speak akin to him and his original home.” Humans are special because of their powers of reason to interpret the world and speech, which allows them to cooperate with others. These interrelated qualities allow humans to control their passions and work with others. For Cicero each person possesses two personas, one which is universal and one which is individual. The universal persona holds our capacities for speech and reason while the individual one is composed of our talents, tastes, and duties. Since humans possess reason which originates with some form of God, Cicero concludes that every person has a dash of divinity within them, which entitles them to the respect of others. What we could loosely term as natural rights. Cicero’s definition of humanity was also meant for all peoples across time and space. He wrote that “however one defines man, the same definition applies to us all. This is sufficient proof that there is no essential difference within mankind.”

According to Cicero, the world as we know it was created by a sort of divine and intelligent being that ordered the universe according to certain principles. All things are implanted with a function and end towards which they are directed by the dictates of their own nature; this is called law. To Cicero, “law in the proper sense is right reason in harmony with nature.” And these laws are not in a constant state of flux; they are permanent. Cicero stated emphatically that “there will not be one such law in Rome and another in Athens, one now and another in the future, but all peoples at all times will be embraced by a single and eternal unchangeable law.” And in this manner, Cicero believed akin to the rest of the world, human law ought to resemble this natural law. Justice for Cicero was our greatest virtue as humans, and it is not a matter of opinion but instead of fact as “True law is right reason in harmony with nature.” Cicero expounded four elementary principles of justice (1) do not initiate violence without good reason; (2) keep one’s promises; (3) respect people’s property and (4) be charitable to others within one’s means.

According to Cicero, the state exists to uphold laws that are in harmony with nature’s universal principles. If the state tramples upon people’s rights, it is little more than a gang of robbers or bandits. The law and the state are normative in nature, rather than conventional. He argued that without the key element of justice embodied in law, a state cannot be formed, observing that “many harmful and pernicious measures are passed in human communities–measures which come no closer to the name of laws than if a gang of criminals agreed to make some rules.”In his speeches condemning Mark Antony, Cicero even suggested that the laws Mark Antony passed held no validity as he enforced them using naked violence, rather than right reason. For Cicero, law is more than just force backed by human authority, it must be right before being given might. What Cicero was articulating was one of the first extensive accounts of natural law applied to limit the power and scope of the state.

Equally as important as his natural law credentials, Cicero was one of the first thinkers to posit the view that the preservation of property rights was one of the core reasons people formed states. Cicero believed that God gave the world to humans for his own use. However, this does not mean that we share everything in common. Thus, private property is important and necessary as it allows people to live in peace. Every person is expected to appropriate for themselves and their family what they need to survive. Cicero held that the primary reason for people uniting and forming a state was to protect their property, explaining that those “who administer public affairs must first of all see that everyone holds on to what is his, and that private men are never deprived of their goods by public acts.”

Unlike Plato and Aristotle, Cicero did not believe that the highest function of the state was the molding of people’s characters; instead, he asserted that it was to safeguard people’s life, liberty, and property. Cicero believed that not just any old government would do but one which embodied a separation of powers, a system of checks and balances, all presided over by elected officials. This should sound quite familiar to an American audience, and this is no coincidence.

I could spend hours listing the many authors who view Cicero as a great authority, but for simplicities’ sake, I will limit my listing to two main areas, the thoughts of John Locke, the often dubbed father of liberalism, and the Founding Fathers of America.

In Locke’s day, most educated men learned Latin, and to learn the most eloquent of Latin; there was no better source than good old Cicero. And Locke, like many, greatly admired Cicero, but Locke’s admiration ran extremely deep. From a young age, Locke was quoting Cicero in his personal letters. By the time of Locke’s death, he had nine different editions of De Officiis in his personal library. Locke even strenuously attempted to establish a coherent chronology of Cicero’s life, a project Locke only attempted with one other historical figure, Jesus Christ. In 1693 when Locke wrote Some Thoughts Concerning Education, he explained that two books should be given to children to learn proper moral conduct, the bible, and Cicero’s De Officiis.

So it comes as no surprise that when Locke wrote his extremely influential Two Treatises On Government, the philosophy of Cicero can be felt at every turn. Both argued natural law was the yardstick by which a state’s legitimacy ought to be measured, both believed private property was the primary reason people formed a state, both argued in favor of republican systems of government, and lastly, both supported deposing tyrants who had breached the rules of natural law.

When Locke published his Two Treatises on government, the epigraph was of course, a quote from Cicero that read, “Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto”, in English, let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law — which some listeners will recognise as the motto of the state of Missouri.

This leads us to the Founding Fathers, who were avid fans of Locke, but many also read and admired Cicero. The curriculum in American schools for many of the Founders centered around learning Latin and Greek. If one wanted to learn Latin, they had to read Cicero and a whole host of other classical authors. By 1776, of the nine colleges in colonial America all had similar entry requirements, the ability to read Cicero and Virgil in Latin and the New Testament in Greek. For example, to attend Harvard, John Jay, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton were required to translate some Cicero. For the first fifty years of the American republic, nearly every educated American would have read some of Cicero’s writings.

There was no greater admirer of Cicero than John Adams, who, as a fellow lawyer, saw Cicero as the ultimate role model. Lavishing praise upon Cicero, Adams wrote that “all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united in the same character, his authority should have great weight.” But Adams was no lone admirer. When drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was inspired by what he referred to as “the elementary books of public right” and, of course, he included Cicero’s works.

During the Revolutionary period, when giving rousing speeches was needed more than ever, many studied Cicero’s speeches, who was second to none but the famous Athenian Demosthenes. Cicero was admired because he did not just write about politics but immersed himself wholly in it. Everything he said was backed by his own harsh life experience, meaning that his words carried more weight than armchair philosophers. Cicero was constantly quoted, evoked, and admired throughout the American revolution as a genius of oratory, a republican hero, and most of all, a lover of liberty.

I could go on for longer, but I have already spent more time talking about Cicero than anyone else I have talked about on this podcast. Cicero should be regarded as one of the philosophical greats alongside Plato and Aristotle for his massive influence upon subsequent generations of thinkers. He tirelessly worked towards establishing a lasting peace under which liberty could flourish. Today his writings are not quite so widely read, not many people beyond classical scholars and historians read the great Cicero, but the fact remains that his is one the finest minds that influenced a whole plethora of canonical liberal thinkers. Cicero deserves a place as part of the liberal canon as a great predecessor to the enlightenment ideals that would usher in the modern world. For this reason, he ought to be thought of as one of the grandfathers of liberalism.For anyone who wants to understand how the US constitution and system of checks and balances, that continues to protect life and liberty in these trying times, was created, I would urge them to read the words of the great and possibly the original champion of liberty.