While Cicero the humanist deeply influenced the culture of the Renaissance, Cicero the republican inspired the Founding Fathers of the United States and the Revolutionaries of the French Revolution. John Adams said, "As all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and Philosopher united than Cicero, his authority should have great weight." Jefferson names Cicero as one of a handful of major figures who contributed to a tradition “of public right” that informed his draft of the Declaration of Independence and shaped American understandings of "the Common sense" basis for the right of revolution. Camille Desmoulins said of the French republicans in 1789 that they were "mostly young people who, nourished by the reading of Cicero at school, had become passionate enthusiasts for liberty".
Though he was an accomplished orator and successful Lawyer, Cicero believed his political career was his most important achievement. It was during his consulship that the second Catilinarian conspiracy attempted to overthrow the government through an attack on the city by outside forces, and Cicero suppressed the revolt by summarily executing five conspirators. 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. Following Julius Caesar's death, Cicero became an enemy of Mark Antony in the ensuing power struggle, attacking him in a series of speeches. He was proscribed as an enemy of the state by the Second Triumvirate and consequently executed by Soldiers operating on their behalf in 43 BC after having been intercepted during an attempted FLIGHT from the Italian peninsula. His severed hands and head were then, as a final revenge of Mark Antony, displayed in the Roman Forum.
Cicero was portrayed on the motion picture screen by British actor Alan Napier in the 1953 film Julius Caesar, based on Shakespeare's play. He has also been played by such noted actors as Michael Hordern (in Cleopatra), and André Morell (in the 1970 Julius Caesar). Most recently, Cicero was portrayed by David Bamber in the HBO series Rome (2005–2007) and appeared in both seasons.
In the historical novel series Masters of Rome, Colleen McCullough presents an unflattering depiction of Cicero's career, showing him struggling with an inferiority complex and Vanity, morally flexible and fatally indiscreet, while his rival Julius Caesar is shown in a more approving light. Cicero is portrayed as a hero in the novel A Pillar of Iron by Taylor Caldwell (1965). Robert Harris' novels Imperium, Lustrum (published under the name Conspirata in the United States) and Dictator is the three-part novel series based upon the life of Cicero. In these novels Cicero's character is depicted in a more balanced way than in those of McCullough, with his positive traits equaling or outweighing his weaknesses (while conversely Caesar is depicted as more sinister than in McCullough). Cicero is a major recurring character in the Roma Sub Rosa series of mystery novels by Steven Saylor. He also appears several times as a peripheral character in John Maddox Roberts' SPQR series. The protagonist, Decius Metellus, admires Cicero for his erudition, but is disappointed by his lack of real opposition to Caesar, as well as puzzled by his relentless fawning on the Optimates, who secretly despise Cicero as a parvenu.
Cicero was one of the most viciously and doggedly hunted among the proscribed. He was viewed with sympathy by a large segment of the public and many people refused to report that they had seen him. He was caught December 7, 43 BC leaving his villa in Formiae in a litter going to the seaside where he hoped to embark on a ship destined for Macedonia. When his killers – Herennius (a centurion) and Popilius (a tribune) – arrived, Cicero's own slaves said they had not seen him, but he was given away by Philologus, a freedman of his brother Quintus Cicero.
Petrarch's rediscovery of Cicero's letters is often credited for initiating the 14th-century Renaissance in public affairs, humanism, and classical Roman culture. According to Polish Historian Tadeusz Zieliński, "the 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 18th-century Enlightenment, and his impact on leading Enlightenment thinkers and political theorists such as John Locke, David Hume, Montesquieu and Edmund Burke was substantial. His works rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history, especially the last days of the Roman Republic.
Among Cicero's admirers were Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, and John Locke. Following the invention of Johannes Gutenberg's printing press, De Officiis was the second book printed in Europe, after the Gutenberg Bible. Scholars note Cicero's influence on the rebirth of religious toleration in the 17th century.
Cicero tried to re-enter politics, but his attack on a bill of Caesar's proved unsuccessful. The conference at Luca in 56 BC forced Cicero to recant and support the triumvirate. After this, a cowed Cicero concentrated on his literary works. It is uncertain whether he was directly involved in politics for the following few years. He reluctantly accepted a promagistracy in Cilicia for 51 BC, because there were few other eligible governors available as a result of a legislative requirement enacted by Pompey in 52 BC, specifying an interval of five years between a consulship or praetorship and a provincial command. He served as proconsul of Cilicia from May 51 to November 50 BC. He was given instructions to keep nearby Cappadocia loyal to the King, Ariobarzanes III, which he achieved ‘satisfactorily without war.’ Rome’s defeat by the Parthian Empire and an uprising in Syria caused disquiet in Cilicia. Cicero maintained calm through his mild government. He discovered that much of public property had been embezzled and restored it. This made the cities better off. He retained the civil rights of, and did not impose penalties on, the men who gave the property back. Cicero defeated some Robbers who were based on Mount Amanus and his Soldiers hailed him as imperator. On his way back to Rome he stopped in Rhodes. He then spent some time in Athens, where he caught up with an old friend from his previous stay there and met men of great learning.
Cicero supported Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus as governor of Cisalpine Gaul (Gallia Cisalpina) and urged the Senate to name Antony an enemy of the state. The speech of Lucius Piso, Caesar's father-in-law, delayed proceedings against Antony. Antony was later declared an enemy of the state when he refused to lift the siege of Mutina, which was in the hands of Decimus Brutus. Cicero’s plan to drive out Antony failed. Antony and Octavian reconciled and allied with Lepidus to form the Second Triumvirate after the successive battles of Forum Gallorum and Mutina. The Triumvirate began proscribing their enemies and potential rivals immediately after legislating the alliance into official existence for a term of five years with consular imperium. Cicero and all of his contacts and supporters were numbered among the enemies of the state, and reportedly, Octavian argued for two days against Cicero being added to the list.