The brutal beheading of Cicero, last defender of the Roman Republic

In 43 B.C., Mark Antony murdered Cicero, famous for his unparalleled powers of speech, and ushered in the beginnings of the Roman Empire.

Lawyer, Statesman, Philosopher

Cicero is remembered for his strong defense of the values of the Roman Republic and rejection of the tyranny he believed Julius Caesar, and then Mark Antony, embodied. Bust from the Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Photograph by Scala, Florence

The second-century A.D. historian Appian vividly captured the moment the Roman Republic truly died: When the great orator Marcus Tullius Cicero was struck down by the forces of his enemies:

As he leaned out of the litter and offered his neck unmoved, his head was cut off. Nor did this satisfy the senseless cruelty of the soldiers. They cut off his hands, also, for the offense of having written something against Antony. Thus, the head was brought to Antony and placed by his order between the two hands on the rostra, where, often as consul, often as a consular, and, that very year against Antony, he had been heard with admiration of his eloquence, the like of which no other human voice ever uttered.”

Cicero’s death between Rome and what is today Naples, on December 7, 43 B.C., brought closer the era of empire.

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