“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but also the parent of all the others.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC)
A Roman statesman, philosopher, and orator, Cicero is credited with lifting Latin prose from its utilitarian origins to new literary and rhetorical heights. Born into a prominent family of the Roman Equestrian order, (the family name means “chickpea”), Cicero distinguished himself first as a lawyer and speaker, and was elected to a series of government offices at an early age, rising through the ranks during the dangerous years of the Sulla dictatorship, despite his support for a constitutional republic. He aligned himself with Pompey during the civil war that brought Julius Caesar to power, but was later assassinated for his support of Octavian (Augustus) and his antipathy to Marc Antony. Many of Cicero’s speeches and writings survived the Dark Ages to form the basis of later thinking on the formation of governments based on the consent of the governed. Leaders of the American and French revolutions often cited Cicero as the source of their belief in the natural rights of man.