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CICERO, MARCUS TULLIUS:

Roman statesman and orator; born 106; died 43 B.C. In 59 he delivered in the Aurelian Forum at Rome a speech in behalf of Flaccus, in which he spoke disparagingly of the Jews; this was perhaps not from conviction so much as in the interest of his client ("Pro Flacco," xxviii.), though in Rhodes he had been the disciple in rhetoric of the anti-Jewish writer Apollonius Molon. Flaccus being accused, among other things, of having appropriated while proconsul of Asia the moneys contributed for the Jewish Temple by Jews under his jurisdiction, Cicero contended that there was an edict forbidding the exporting of gold from the Roman provinces—a plea that was evidently sophistical, since Judea at that time was a part of the Roman empire. He further said, referring to the Jews: "Justice demands that that barbaric superstition should be opposed; and it is to the interest of the state not to regard that Jewish mob which at times breaks out in open riots. . . . At one time the Jewish people took up arms against the Romans; but the gods showed how little they cared for this people, suffering it to be conquered and made tributary." In the Latin the phrase "and to be preserved" occurs after "made tributary," but these words stultify the rest of the sentence, and seem to have been added later by a Jewish or Christian copyist (Bernays, in "Rheinisches Museum," xii. 464).

It would appear, unless Cicero's words are merely a rhetorical flourish, that the Jews, who insisted on being present on an occasion that concerned them, surrounded the platform, and, supporting each other, became formidable through their numbers, "You know," he said, addressing the plaintiff, "how large the mob is, how it holds together, and what it accomplished in its assemblies." It is not likely, however, that the Jewish mob accomplished anything in this case, for Flaccus was probably discharged (compare Pliny, "Historia Naturalis," xiii. 4).

In the trial of Verres (70 B.C.) Plutarch reports that Cicero, in speaking of one of the accusers, Cecilius, who was suspected of a leaning toward Judaism, made the pun, "Quid Judæo cum Verre?" (What has a Jew to do with a pig?). Finally, in a speech delivered in the Senate, May, 56 B.C., and entitled "De Provinciis Consularibus," Cicero refers to the Jews and Syrians as "races born to be slaves," an expression not uncommon in the mouths of the Romans of his day.

Bibliography:
  • M. A. Levy, in Jahrb. Gesch. der Jud. ii. 277;
  • A. Berliner, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 11;
  • Hild, in Rev. Etudes Juives, viii. 1-37;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., iii. 28 (containing also earlier bibliography);
  • Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, 4th ed., iii. 166;
  • Reinach, Textes d'Auteurs Grecs et Romains, pp. 150, 237.
G. S. Kr. G.
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