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All Roads Lead to Rome

The Roman Empire was one of the largest in world history. Rome started as a single city-state in the Central Italy and grew to be an empire ruling the entire Mediterranean coastal region. Its long history can be divided into the Republican and the Empire period. The Roman Republic was a confederation of states under the control of a representative central authority, but the disintegration of the Roman Republic caused the collapse of a constitutional system since it was designed to govern a city-state. It was well adapted for Italy, but not to govern an overseas empire.

Moreover, Rome’s brilliant conquests ultimately weakened its political and social structure. The principles of duty, self-discipline, and devotion, which had governed Romans in the past, caused love of money, power, and pleasure. If Rome had stopped its conquests, the Republic might have developed but corrupt and limited thoughts of individual generals and would-be dictators like Julius Caesar and Pompey, destroyed the traditional political system of Rome through ruthless ambition. Successful generals eclipsed the power of the Senate and other republican institutions.

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At this page of the history, Marcus Tullius Cicero came into philosophical fame. Cicero rose from modest circumstances to the highest rank of consul. Cicero’s year as a consul was one of acute danger for the Republic, but in truth, the Republic was becoming uncontrollable. Institutions designed for a city-state could not be adapted to the new empire of Rome. They could not manage the wealth that poured into the city or the power of successful generals. Cicero fought valiantly for 20 years to stabilize the government and preserve the republic.

Cicero hoped to bring senators and equities together in an alliance that represented responsible citizens against dangerous fanatics. If we explore to understand who Marcus Tullius Cicero was, we can see that he was the eminent late Republican politician, as an ancient art historian. In his speeches and letters, he gives us an unexpected way of insight of the Romans of his time. Cicero was a supporter of the republican system of Rome. He believed in the senate and the Roman people as the core of Roman Republic, and he was one of the last men to stand up for the old Republic, and tried to keep the republican government going.

Cicero had a point of the view that if most citizens deferred to the law – rule of law – this would have the greatest potential of creating long-lasting peace and freedom which did not depend on the will or might of a leader —law ought to lead not man. — He insisted on the primacy of moral standards over government laws. Above all, Cicero declared, the government is morally obliged to protect human life and private property, when government runs disorganized and confused, people have a right to rebel — Cicero honoured daring individuals who helped overthrow tyrants.

As we can see in the Roman history, Cicero was opposed to Julius Caesar, whom he regarded as a dangerous threat to the republic. He disapproved of Caesar’s dictatorship and declined Caesar’s invitation to join the political alliance of Caesar. Although he disapproved of Caesar’s dictatorship, Cicero was not included in his assassination and he returned to political life after this case and delivered a series of scathing speeches (the “Phillipics”) against Marc Antony.

As the transition continued, and Rome became ruled by an emperor who had supreme power, Cicero had to flee from Rome to save his life, but he was captured by the emperor’s forces, and killed. It is very clear that Cicero was an important figure in Roman history, from a birth of relative anonymity to wielding great power at the height of the Roman Republic, to a brave death. Cicero’s words are still powerful today, just as they were two thousand years ago.

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