The sheer horror of Cicero’s murder and mutilation contributed to its mythic status in later Roman literature and culture. His death was a popular subject for Roman schoolboys practising the art of speaking, as well as for celebrity orators in after-dinner performances. Learner orators were required to deliver speeches of advice to famous characters from myth and history, or to take sides in notorious crimes from the past: ‘defend Romulus against the charge of killing Remus’; ‘advise Agamemnon whether or not to sacrifice Iphigeneia’; ‘should Alexander the Great enter Babylon, despite bad omens?’ Two of the most popular exercises, repeated in countless Roman schoolrooms and at innumerable dinner parties, involved advising Cicero on the question of whether or not he should ask for Antony’s pardon in order to save his own life; and whether, if Antony offered to spare him provided that he burn all his writings, he should accept the deal. In the cultural politics of the Roman Empire these problems were nicely judged – safely pitching one of the most brilliantly unsuccessful upholders of the old Republican order against the man who, as everyone came to agree, was the unacceptable face of autocracy; and weighing the value of literature against the brute force of life-or-death power. There was lustre, too, in the fact that Roman critics almost universally believed that Cicero had died an exemplary death. Whatever accusations of self-interest, vacillation or cowardice they might level at other aspects of his life, everyone reckoned that on this occasion he behaved splendidly: sticking his bare neck out of the litter, he calmly demanded (as heroes have continued to do ever since) that the assassin make a good job of it.