Marcus Tullius Cicero is considered one of Rome`s greatest orators and prose stylists. He was a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, who served as consul in the year 63 BC. According to Michael Grant, “the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language.”
His works rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history, especially the last days of Roman Republic.
Cicero believed his political career was his most important achievement. It was during his consulship that the second Catilinarian conspiracy attempted to overthrow the government through an attack on the city by outside forces, and Cicero suppressed the revolt by summarily and controversially executed five conspirators.
During the chaotic latter half of the 1st century BC marked by civil wars and Julius Caesar, Cicero championed a return to the traditional republican government. Living in Rome at that time gave Cicero an idea of how the real traitor act. Cicero said:
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious, but it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.
For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the heart of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longe resist. A murderer is less to fear.”
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