106-43 BCE: Cicero

François Perrier, The Death of Cicero, 1635


During the last days of the Republic, Cicero uses his rhetorical gifts to defend Roman liberty from Caesar and Mark Anthony.


Cicero is assassinated by his political enemies in December 43. According to the historian Cassius Dio, his critical tongue is pierced with a hair pin while his body parts are displayed on the speakers’ platform in the Forum Romanum.


… I could not, on the one hand, endure to live under a monarchy or a tyranny, since under such a government I cannot live rightly as a free citizen nor speak my mind safely.
– Cicero according to Cassius Dio’s Roman History 45.18