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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Cicero's political ideas on laws, duty, tyrants and the republic, which he developed as the Roman Republic was threatened by Caesar and civil wars.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ideas developed by Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC) to support and reinvigorate the Roman Republic when, as it transpired, it was in its final years, threatened by civil wars, the rule of Julius Caesar and the triumvirates that followed. As Consul he had suppressed a revolt by Catiline, putting the conspirators to death summarily as he believed the Republic was in danger and that this danger trumped the right to a fair trial, a decision that rebounded on him. While in exile he began works on duty, laws, the orator and the republic. Although left out of the conspiracy to kill Caesar, he later defended that murder in the interests of the Republic, only to be murdered himself soon after.


Melissa Lane
The Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University
and 2018 Carlyle Lecturer at the University of Oxford

Catherine Steel
Professor of Classics at the University of Glasgow


Valentina Arena
Reader in Roman History at University College London

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

49 minutes

Last on

Thu 25 Jan 2018 21:30


Cicero - Wikipedia



Valentina Arena, Libertas and the Practice of Politics in the Late Roman Republic (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Jed Atkins, Cicero on Politics and the Limits of Reason: The Republic and the Laws (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Cicero (trans. Siobhan McElduff), In Defence of the Republic (Penguin, 2011)

Cicero (trans. M.T. Griffin and ed.  E.M. Atkins), On duties (Cambridge University Press, 1991)

Joy Connolly, The State of Speech: Rhetoric and Political Thought in Ancient Rome (Princeton University Press, 2007)

Andrew Lintott, Cicero as Historical Evidence: A Historian's Companion (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Elizabeth Rawson, Cicero: A Portrait (first published 1975; Bloomsbury, 2013)

Catherine Steel, Reading Cicero: Genre and Performance in Late Republican Rome (Duckworth, 2005)

Catherine Steel (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Cicero (Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Kathryn Tempest, Cicero: Politics and Persuasion in Ancient Rome (Continuum, 2011)

Raphael Woolf, Cicero: The Philosophy of a Roman Sceptic (Routledge, 2015)

James E. G. Zetzel (ed.), Cicero: On the Commonwealth and On the Laws: Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought (first published 1999; Cambridge University Press, 2011)


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Melissa Lane
Interviewed Guest Catherine Steel
Interviewed Guest Valentina Arena
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 25 Jan 2018 09:00
  • Thu 25 Jan 2018 21:30

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