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Aged 48, Marcus Cicero, the greatest orator of his time, is to all appearances a broken man. Out of power, exiled to the eastern Mediterranean with his faithful secretary, Tiro, separated from his wife and children, his possessions confiscated, he spends his days tormented by his failure. But, to quote one of his own famous aphorisms: 'while there's life there's hope'. By promising to support his political enemy, Caesar, he manages to win his return to Italy. Once home, he gradually fights his way back: first in the law courts, then in the senate, and finally by the power of his pen, until at last, for one brief and glorious period, he is once again the dominant figure in Rome.