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By Alexis Culotta

Ancient Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero was assassinated on 7 December 43 BCE. The culmination of a longstanding conflict between Cicero and Marc Antony, the popular political figure’s death in some regards marked the end of the Roman Republic and paved the way for the installation of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus (formerly Octavian)

Following the murder of Julius Caesar in March 44 BCE, both Cicero and Marc Antony rose to public political prominence, but they were diametrically opposed as to how they felt Rome should be governed. In an effort to ensure his views were supported, Cicero curried favor with Octavian, Julius Caesar’s adopted hear, while berating Marc Antony through a series of heated speeches.  

Antony retaliated by eventually gaining the confidence of Octavian through the creation of the Second Triumvirate, a governmental alliance between Antony, Octavian, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, in November 43 BCE. As a result of this alliance’s establishment, Antony drafted a list of those who were to be considered enemies and thus were subject to proscription. Among those proscribed was Cicero. 

Cicero was caught on 7 December just as he was attempting to escape his villa for a ship to Macedonia. As he purportedly said prior to submitting himself to death, "there is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly.“ Marc Antony would soon after meet a similar defeat: in the wake of Octavian’s triumph at the Battle of Actium the subsequent decade, Antony committed suicide. 


Bertol Thorvaldsen, Bust of Cicero, circa 1799-1800 (copy after a Roman original). Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen.

VIcenzo Foppa, The Young Cicero Reading, 1464. Fresco. Wallace Collection, London. 

Thomas Worlidge, Statue of Marcus Tulles Cicero, 18th century engraving. Harvard Art Museums, Massachusetts. 

Portrait of Cicero (Renaissance copy after Roman original). Vatican Museums, Rome.   

“The Death of Cicero,” from the 15th-century manuscript, The Cases of Noble Men and Women [(Rouen, perhaps Boucicot Master - ms. 1440 (f. 213v)].

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The skeletons of two women who died violently were discovered at Téviec, buried under a “roof” of antlers and decorated with necklaces made of shells
Two skeletons of women between 25 and 35 years of age, dated between -6740 and -5680 BP Mesolithic. They died a violent death, with several head injuries and impacts of arrows. The two bodies were buried with great care in a pit half in the basement rock (underlying or country rock) and half in the kitchen debris that covered them. The tomb is protected by antlers. The grave goods include flint and bone (mainly wild boar) and funeral jewelry which is made of marine shells drilled and assembled into necklaces, bracelets and ankle rings. Some of the bone objects have engraved lines. They were recovered in 1938.

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The entrance to Newgrange, a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, 1905
Newgrange (Irish: Sí an Bhrú) is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, about one kilometre north of the River Boyne. It was built about 3200 BC, during the Neolithic period, which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. Newgrange is a large circular mound with a stone passageway and chambers inside. The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by ‘kerbstones’ engraved with artwork. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it has been speculated that it had religious significance – it is aligned with the rising sun and its light floods the chamber on the winter solstice. It is the most famous monument within the Neolithic Brú na Bóinne complex, alongside the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth, and as such is a part of the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site. Newgrange also shares many similarities with other Neolithic constructions in Western Europe, such as Maeshowe in Orkney, Scotland and the Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales.

Gold armband with Herakles knot - Anonymous Greek Artist

Hellenistic, 3rd–2nd century B.C.

Gold inlaid with garnets, emeralds, and enamel, width 3 1/2in. (8.9cm)

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Herakles knot on this sumptuous armband is enriched with floral decoration and inlaid with garnets, emeralds, and enamel. According to the Roman writer Pliny, the decorative device of the Herakles knot could cure wounds, and its popularity in Hellenistic jewelry suggests that it was thought to have the power to avert evil. [x]

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Scythian gold torque in the form of dragons, dated to the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE. From the source:

Hundreds of tiny scales are individually soldered to the writhing forms of two confronted dragons on this magnificent gold torc. Thick curving horns sweep back over the long pointed ears of the rather wolf-like dragon heads. With muzzles drawn into ferocious snarls, these mighty beasts express the formidable strength of the Scythians, one of ancient Eurasia’s most powerful cultures.