Amid the corruption and power struggles of the collapse of the Roman Republic, Cicero (106-43BC) produced some of the most stirring and eloquent speeches in history. A statesman and lawyer, he was one of the only outsiders to penetrate the aristocratic circles that controlled the Roman state, and became renowned for his speaking to the Assembly, Senate and courtrooms. Whether fighting corruption, quashing the Catiline conspiracy, defending the poet Archias or railing against Mark Antony in the Philippics - the magnificent arguments in defence of liberty which led to his banishment and death - Cicero's speeches are oratory masterpieces, vividly evocative of the cut and thrust of Roman political life.
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