The Cicero Homepage

Marcus Tullius Cicero

The Cicero Homepage header image 2

Family

Cicero married Terentia probably at the age of 27, in 79 BC. According to the upper class mores of the day it was a marriage of convenience, but endured harmoniously for some 30 years. Terentia’s family was wealthy, probably the plebeian noble house of Terenti Varrones, thus meeting the needs of Cicero’s political ambitions in both economic and social terms. She had a uterine sister (or perhaps first cousin) named Fabia, who as a child had become a Vestal Virgin – a very great honour. Terentia was a strong-willed woman and (citing Plutarch) “she took more interest in her husband’s political career than she allowed him to take in household affairs”.[13] She was a pious and probably a rather down-to-earth person.

In the 40s Cicero’s letters to Terentia became shorter and colder. He complained to his friends that Terentia had betrayed him but did not specify in which sense. Perhaps the marriage simply could not outlast the strain of the political upheaval in Rome, Cicero’s involvement in it, and various other disputes between the two. The divorce appears to have taken place in 45 BC. In late 46 BC Cicero married a young girl, Publilia, who had been his ward. It is thought that Cicero needed her money, particularly after having to repay the dowry of Terentia, who came from a wealthy family.[14] This marriage did not last long.

It is commonly known that Cicero held great love for his daughter Tullia, although his marriage to Terentia was one of convenience.[15] When she suddenly became ill in February 45 BC and died after having seemingly recovered from giving birth to a son in January, Cicero was stunned. “I have lost the one thing that bound me to life” he wrote to Atticus.[16] Atticus told him to come for a visit during the first weeks of his bereavement, so that he could comfort him when his pain was at its greatest. In Atticus’ large library, Cicero read everything that the Greek philosophers had written about overcoming grief, “but my sorrow defeats all consolation.”[17] Caesar and Brutus sent him letters of condolence.[18][19]

Cicero hoped that his son Marcus would become a philosopher like him, but Marcus himself wished for a military career. He joined the army of Pompey in 49 BC and after Pompey’s defeat at Pharsalus 48 BC, he was pardoned by Caesar. Cicero sent him to Athens to study as a disciple of the peripatetic philosopher Kratippos in 48 BC, but he used this absence from “his father’s vigilant eye” to “eat, drink and be merry.”[20] After his father’s murder he joined the army of the Liberatores but was later pardoned by Augustus. Augustus’ bad conscience for having put Cicero on the proscription list during the Second Triumvirate led him to aid considerably Marcus Minor’s career. He became an augur, and was nominated consul in 30 BC together with Augustus, and later appointed proconsul of Syria and the province of Asia.[21]

Categorized as: Other

  • Please let us know if you have additions or suggestions.

Leave a Comment

What is 3 + 3 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
Please enter the correct number answer to submit your material to The Cicero Homepage