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Cicero’s opinion on the oratorical skills of Sertorius

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)


Marcus Tullius Cicero in his work “Brutus” describes many great Roman orators. His opinions are extremely valuable for historians and researchers because they allow them to explore the era and events of that period.

One of these opinions, however, is not particularly flattering; it concerns Quintus Sertorius, a Roman commander and politician who fell victim to the conflict between Marius and Sulla. By supporting the first of the aforementioned politicians, Sertorius had to escape to Spain, where he led an open rebellion against the Roman senate. Until his tragic death (he was stabbed to death by his own officers), he did not recognize the rule of Sulla and his supporters in Rome.

Cicero was not very friendly towards Sertorius, as he included the following opinion in his work:

Of all the totally illiterate and crude orators , well, actually ranters, I ever knew – and I might as well add completely coarse and rustic – the roughest and readiest were Q. Sertorius.

One may wonder where and when Marcus Tullius Cicero could hear Sertorius.
Probably Cicero witnessed him at a very young age, perhaps he was still a child. It certainly had happened before Sertorius was forced to retreat to Spain and was declared the enemy of the republic.

Author: Joanna Morgan
  • Cicero, Brutus

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