While reading history of philosophy books, Cicero's name often comes up. However I remain unclear of what if any are his original contributions to the philosophy of that period.

I know that he was an important transmitter of philosophical though from the Greek to the Roman world and so onto the modern period. However Sextus Empiricus and Diogenes Laertius were also important transmitters of philosophical knowledge but they get much more of a passing reference in the history books.

I know that Cicero was an important political figure, an adherent of the skeptic school (to a greater or lesser extent) and I believe that his prose is meant to be magnificent (though I'm no classicist). But what did he add to philosophy itself?

Many thanks for your thoughts


It appears that Cicero's main contribution to philosophy was in political philosophy. The extensive account of his idea was only found in the nineteenth century.

His big idea, which he tirelessly publicized, was that of a mixed or balanced constitution. He favored not monarchy nor oligarchy nor democracy, but a combination of all three. His model was Rome itself, but improved. Its executive had quasi-royal powers. It was restrained partly by the widespread use of vetoes and partly by a Senate, dominated by great political families. Politicians were elected to office by the People. [My emphasis.]

From Anthony Everitt's Cicero.

However, looking at Wikipedia's 'Mixed government' entry, this doesn't appear to be much of a novel idea at all. :)

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