The Catiline Orations, alternatively Orations Against Catiline
, are, indeed, orations very much against Catiline, as the man is remembered in English: L. Sergius Catilina
, a traitor, a dog, an insurrectionist, a man who meant to strike down the holy Republic
. They are four in number, which is to say that they are four fists; their knuckles innumerable. They are a masterpiece of the world, the work of Mark Tully, »Chickpea« to his friends
and to the world, who was very nearly a masterpiece of men. His flaws are catalogued elsewhere; below are indexed his perfections. They exceed almost anyone's.
Orationem in Catilinam:
The orations are presented here in the translation of C. D. Yonge, of 1856, with arguments and annotations, guaranteed to be free of all rights and liens, abiding durably in the public domain, one hundred per cent CST compliant.
- First Oration, Held in the Senate
Catiline has gathered an army on the outskirts of the great city; Cicero has obtained the absolute power of emergency; the warrant and more of Catiline's death. Why, then, asks the outraged Cicero, is he not dead?!
- Second Oration, Made to the People
Catiline, driven by his own horror and the hatred of everyone, has fled the senate and Rome, claiming to go into exile. Cicero gathers the people and tells them the truth: Catiline has gone not into exile, but into the camp of his traitor army — but they should fear nothing: the gods are with them; the senate is with them; he, Cicero, is with them!
- Third Oration, to the People
By the skills of Cicero, proof has been gained against all the fellow-conspirators of Catiline, and they have made their confessions at the sight of this proof; Cicero goes into the forum and lets the people know of it, and asks them to rejoice, because of the desperate rebellion they have been spared.
- Fourth Oration, Held in the Senate
Many of the senators favor the immediate death of the revealed conspirators, without trial; Julius Cæsar, a likely member himself of the conspiracy, has argued with others against it. Cicero rises up and demands that the traitors be dragged to the Tullianum and throttled without delay.
Most famous of them all is the first, for two passages which have become immortal: the first lines of the opening argument, excoriating Catiline, and the outburst, later in the same, O tempora! O mores!
, which, rendered into English, is »O times! O customs!« — which, it is hoped, even a man with a sandbag for a head will still, in this regressive age, recognize.
They were written in the year of his pride, when he was consul in his year, which is to say, the earliest age at which a man could obtain that honor: in 63 BC, twenty years before he was proscribed and murdered, in the real death throes of the Republic, against the protestations of Julius Octavian
. More than fourteen hundred years later, in 1345
, Francesco Petrarca
rediscovered them via his letters, and his loudmouth love like a snowball down the mountain rumbled into the Renaissance
, growing, swelling, bursting forth like a flower, and we are sitting in it