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Cicero and peas

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)


Cicero, offering a silver cup as a sacrifice, in the inscription instead of the nickname Cicero had the first letters of the remaining names and a pea (in Latin cicer means “peas”).

This certainly proves Cicero’s distance from his nickname, and also justifies his success in Rome’s politics, as a man of homo novus – the first in his family to take office guaranteeing a seat in the senate. It is worth mentioning that Cicero was not ashamed of the “pea” nickname and was convinced that he would be able to ennoble it.

This is how Plutarch mentions the origin of the name of Cicero:

However, the first member of the family who was surnamed Cicero seems to have been worthy of note, and for that reason his posterity did not reject the surname, but were fond of it, although many made it a matter of raillery. For “cicer” is the Latin name for chick-pea, and this ancestor of Cicero, as it would seem, had a faint dent in the end of his nose like the cleft of a chick-pea, from which he acquired his surname.

Plutarch, Cicero, 1

  • Plutarch, Cicero, 1

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