icero was born Marcus Tullius Cicero in Arpinum, a small town on the
outskirts of Rome on January 3, 106 B.C. As a young man in Rome his
skill as an orator had already begun to grow. He began to plead cases in
the public forum in his 20s, becoming well known in a very short period
of time. By the time he was in his mid-30s he was the most recognized
pleader at the Roman bar. A magistrate as well as a public speaker, at
42 he was elected Consul, Rome's highest office.
Cicero was not only a great orator, but a writer as well as a
statesman. His extensive writings included 58 speeches, about ten
thousand pages of philosophy and rhetoric, and some eight hundred
letters. He was perhaps most famous, however, for his speeches in the
Roman courts and Senate. Since there were no newspapers in Ancient Rome,
these speeches took on tremendous importance, providing news for the
public as well as entertainment. All of Cicero's speeches were copied,
circulated, read, and reread.
Two well-known lawsuits of his time made Cicero famous.
The first involved the governor of Sicily, Gaius Verres, who had been
accused of murder and theft. Representing the state, Cicero forced
Verres into exile after witness testimony and a fiery speech accused
Verres of his crimes.
A second case involved a man accused of patricide in which Cicero
revealed in court that others had murdered the accused's father in an
attempt to frame the young man and steal the family fortune.
Some say that in these cases and others like them lie the true
beginnings of the public's unending fascination with mystery and crime.