Sunday, January 13, 2008

CRITIQUE & REVIEW: "Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician" by Anthony Everitt

2008 is the “Year of Rome” on Willet Creek Dam. I’m focusing a lot of my personal reading and free time getting to know more about the ancient Roman world. The first installment of the “Year of Rome” is a short review of “Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician” by Anthony Everitt.

Marcus Tullius Cicero is a special case among famous Romans, especially during the chaotic Civil War period that saw the end of the Roman Republic in the 1st Century B.C. He was an influential politician who at times was considered powerful, even though he was never considered a military man and did not have legions backing up his efforts like every other significant Roman leader of the age.

As you can imagine, such a toothless portfolio doomed Cicero to eventual defeat and an early death. But his unique run of success was long and eventful. Because he made his mark mostly as an advocate in the Roman Forum and in the Senate, he was often put in the position of debating the key issues of the day. He was so accomplished at his oratorical and writing skills that even though he was not a “victor,” he did in many ways write the history of the era that saw Julius Caesar put the Republic down and Octavian raise up the Empire.

Everitt’s book is a well-written account that is accessible to the novice Roman history reader like me. I recommend his book to anyone who would like a quick and easy introduction to this era of Roman history.

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