Quintus Tullius Cicero

Quintus Tullius Cicero (/ˈsɪsər/ SISS-ə-roh, Latin: [ˈkɪkɛroː]; 102 – 43 BC) was a Roman statesman and military leader, the younger brother of Marcus Tullius Cicero. He was born into a family of the equestrian order, as the son of a wealthy landowner in Arpinum, some 100 kilometres (62 mi) south-east of Rome.


Cicero's well-to-do father arranged for him to be educated with his brother in Rome, Athens and probably Rhodes in 79-77 BC.[1] Around 70 BC he married Pomponia (sister of his brother's friend Atticus), a dominant woman of strong personality.[2] He divorced her after a long disharmonious marriage with much bickering between the spouses in late 45 BC.[3] His brother, Marcus, tried several times to reconcile the spouses, but to no avail.[4] The couple had a son born in 66 BC and named Quintus Tullius Cicero after his father.

Quintus was Aedile in 66 BC, Praetor in 62 BC, and Propraetor of the Province of Asia for three years 61-59 BC.[5] Under Caesar, during the Gallic Wars, he was legatus (accompanying Caesar on his second expedition to Britain in 54 BC and surviving a Nervian siege of his camp during Ambiorix's revolt), and was under his brother when the latter was governor in Cilicia in 51 BC. During the civil wars he supported the Pompeian faction, obtaining the pardon of Caesar later.

During the Second Triumvirate, when the Roman Republic was again in civil war, Quintus, his son, and his brother, were all proscribed. He fled from Tusculum with his brother. Later Quintus went home to bring back money for travelling expenses. His son, Quintus minor, hid his father, and did not reveal the hiding place although he was tortured. When Quintus heard this, he gave himself up to try and save his son; however, both father and son, and his famous brother, were all killed in 43 BC, as proscribed persons.[6][7]

Personality and relationship with brother MarcusEdit

Quintus is depicted by Caesar as a brave soldier and an inspiring military leader. At a critical moment in the Gallic Wars he rallied his legion and retrieved an apparently hopeless position. Caesar commended him for this with the words "He praised Cicero and his men very highly, as they deserved".[8] However, later the legate was purportedly responsible for a near-disaster in Gaul but does not receive condemnation from Caesar as a result.[9]

Quintus had an impulsive temperament and had fits of cruelty during military operations, a behaviour frowned on by Romans of that time. The Roman (and Stoic) ideal was to control one’s emotions even in battle. Quintus Cicero also liked old-fashioned and harsh punishments, like putting a person convicted of patricide into a sack and throwing him into the sea (traditionally such a felon was severely scourged, then sewn into a stout leather bag with a dog, a snake, a rooster, and a monkey, and the bag was subsequently thrown into a river).[10] This punishment he meted out during his propraetorship of Asia.[11] (For the Romans, both patricide and matricide were one of the worst crimes.) His brother confesses in one of his letters to his friend Titus Pomponius Atticus (written in 51 BC while he was Proconsul of Cilicia and had taken Quintus as legatus with him) that he dares not leave Quintus alone as he is afraid of what kind of sudden ideas he might have.[12] On the positive side, Quintus was utterly honest, even as a governor of a province, in which situation many Romans shamelessly amassed private property for themselves. He was also a well-educated man who enjoyed reading Greek tragedies, and even wrote some tragedies himself.

The relationship between the brothers was mostly affectionate, except for a period of serious disagreement during Caesar’s dictatorship 49-44 BC.[13] The many letters from Marcus ad Quintum fratrem show how deep and affectionate the brothers' relationship was, though Marcus Cicero often played the role of the "older and more experienced" sibling, lecturing to his brother on what the right thing to do was. Quintus might also have felt at times that the self-centred Marcus thought only about how his brother might hinder or help Marcus' own career on the cursus honorum.[14]


As an author, during the Gallic wars, he wrote four tragedies in the Greek style. Three of them were titled Troas, Erigones, and Electra, but all are lost. He also wrote several poems on the second expedition of Caesar to Britannia, three epistles to Tiro (extant) and a fourth one to his brother. The long letter Commentariolum Petitionis (Little handbook on electioneering) has also survived. Although its authenticity has been much questioned, recently the scholar Andrew Lintott has argued that Quintus was the true author.[15] It is in any case a guide to political behavior in Cicero's time.


  1. ^ Haskell: H.J.: This Was Cicero (1964) p.83
  2. ^ Everitt, Anthony: Cicero, A Turbulent Life p.xv (2001)
  3. ^ Haskell,H.J.: This was Cicero (1964) p.83
  4. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero: Samtliga brev, collected letters translated into Swedish by Gabriel Sjögren (1963)
  5. ^ Rawson, E.: Cicero (1975) p.338
  6. ^ Rawson: Cicero (1975) p. 294
  7. ^ Everitt, A.: Cicero, a Turbulent Life (2001) p. 306-307
  8. ^ Bello Gallico 5.52
  9. ^ Bello Gallico 6.36
  10. ^ Kinsey, Cicero's Speech for Roscius of Ameria
  11. ^ Rawson, E. Cicero (1975) p.99
  12. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero: Samtliga brev, Collected letters, translated by Gabriel Sjögren (1963)
  13. ^ Everitt, Anthony: Cicero, A Turbulent Life (2001) p.213
  14. ^ Rawson, E.: Cicero (1975) p.100
  15. ^ Lintott, A. Cicero as Evidence: A Historian's Companion (2006) p.131

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