Judged by the standard of today --- a standard by which Cicero alone of all the Romans is ever judged --- his character was not spotless. He was intensely vain, hot tempered, not always considerate of his friends, vindictive toward his enemies, extravagent and selfish. On the other hand, his morals were conspicuously pure. In an age of corruption and social degeneracy he was always above all scandal and reproach. He was merciful and compassionate to his slaves; his dealings with the poor and helpless were just and humane. The lifelong devotion of Atticus and Tiro testifies to his amiable and affectionate nature; his defence of Roscius, Sestius, and Milo to his courage and loyalty. His tenderness to his daughter Tullia and his love for his brother Quintus touch us still. His welath was acquired honorably, and, if spent lavishly, was spent on books and villas and works of art, not on the gratifiation of the meaner passions.
-Harold W. Johnston, Selected Orations & Letters of Cicero. Scott, Foresman & Co., 1902.
Back to Cicero...