Lawless Republic

The Rise of Cicero and the Decline of Rome


By Josiah Osgood

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$41.00 CAD



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A top historian of Rome narrates the erosion of law and order in the last years of the Roman Republic through the rise and fall of its most famous lawyer, Cicero

In its final decades, the Roman Republic was engulfed by a crime wave. An epidemic of extortions, murders, and acts of insurrection tested the court system’s capacity to maintain order. As case after case filled the docket, an ambitious young lawyer named Cicero seized every opportunity to litigate, forging a reputation as a master debater with a bright future in politics. In Lawless Republic, historian Josiah Osgood recounts the legendary orator’s ascent and fall, and his pivotal role in the republic’s lurch toward autocracy. 
Cicero’s first appearance in the courts came shortly after the end of a brutal civil war. After leveraging his fame as a lawyer to become a consul, he ruthlessly crushed a coup by suppressing the liberties of Roman citizens. The premiere legal mind of Rome came to argue that the pursuit of a higher justice could sometimes justify sweeping the law aside, laying the groundwork for Roman history’s most famous act of political violence—the assassination of Julius Caesar.  

Lawless Republic vividly resurrects the spectacle of the courts in the time of Cicero and Caesar, showing how politics trumped the rule of law and sealed the fate of Rome.
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On Sale
Jan 21, 2025
Page Count
384 pages
Basic Books

Josiah Osgood

About the Author

Josiah Osgood is professor of classics at Georgetown University and holds a PhD from Yale University. A winner of the Rome Prize, he is the author of six books on Roman history and the translator and editor of How to Be a Bad Emperor, a 2020 edition of Suetonius’s Lives of the Caesars. He lives in Washington, DC.

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