by Marcus Tullius Cicero, 55 BC
“The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced. If the nation doesn’t want to go bankrupt, people must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”
- Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC) was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, orator, political theorist, Roman consul and constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. Petrarch’s rediscovery of Cicero’s letters is often credited for initiating the 14th-century Renaissance. According to Polish historian Tadeusz Zielinski, “Renaissance was above all things a revival of Cicero, and only after him and through him of the rest of Classical antiquity.” The peak of Cicero’s authority and prestige came during the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and his impact on leading Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke, David Hume, and Montesquieu was substantial. During the chaotic latter half of the 1st century BC marked by civil wars and the dictatorship of Gaius Julius Caesar, Cicero championed a return to the traditional republican government.