Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), Roman orator and statesman, was born at rural Arpinum (in the south of modern Italy) to a wealthy local family. He was taken to Rome for his education with the idea of a public career and, by the year 70 BC, he had established himself as the leading barrister in Rome. In the meantime, his political career was well under way and he was elected praetor in 66 BC. In addition to his speeches, Cicero produced a large number of works on the theory and practice of rhetoric, on religion, and on moral and political philosophy. He was put to death in 43 BC.
Thomas Habinek is Professor of Classics at University of Southern California. His most recent books include The World of Roman Song: From Ritualized Speech to Social Order and Ancient Rhetoric and Oratory. He is an editor of the journal Classical Antiquity and editor of the book series Classics and Contemporary Thought.