Little Guide to Marcus Tullius Cicero

SFL Staff

Each post is written to give liberty-minded students a starting point to learn from the great movers and shakers who have contributed to the ideas of liberty. The entire Little Guide to Big Ideas series can be foundhere.

“Freedom is a possession of inestimable value”.– Marcus Tullius Cicero

Who: Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC) was a Roman philosopher, politician, consul, constitutionalist, lawyer and orator. He is recognized as the biggest influence on the Latin language. His writings also pushed forward the Renaissance and the 18th century Enlightenment.

Why he matters: Although he is recognized for being a great lawyer and orator, Cicero’s greatest concern was being a good politician. After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Cicero restored the republic. He became one of the leading figures of Rome, however he wasn’t popular among politicians because he defended civil liberties and the republic. He wrote about private property, natural rights and liberty. His ardent fight for liberty cost him his life.

Cicero is important to the libertarian movement because he inspired individuals across the world to liberate from their oppressors, including the founding fathers of the United States. Jefferson named Cicero as one of the major figures who contributed to a tradition of “public right” that informed his draft of the Declaration of Independence.

Cicero wrote the principles of liberty; the basis of classical liberalism. He influenced John Locke, David Hume and many other thinkers of the 18th century.

 Murray N. Rothbard praised Cicero as “the great transmitter of Stoic ideas from Greece to Rome. …Stoic natural law doctrines…helped shape the great structures of Roman law which became pervasive in Western Civilization.”

If you only read one thing:On The Republic (51 BC)