Delightful to see Robert Harris in the Daily Mail drawing parallels between the corrupted politics of Westminister and the session of the Senate that dealt with the conspiracy of Catiline in 63 BC. One part caught my eye:
That debate … was a turning point in history. Three of the speeches made during it – by Caesar, Cicero and Cato – survive. They read as fresh today as they must have sounded more than 2,000 years ago.
The speeches of Cicero we all know, although I’m not sure if they’re all online in English. But where are the other two to be found?
Ghost of a Flea (Neither racked by guilt nor enslaved by passion) quotes a salient passage from the article:
… the speaker who really won the day was Marcus Cato. His is the first parliamentary speech in history that has come down to us more or less intact, thanks to the scribes who took it down in shorthand. ‘In heaven’s name, men, wake up!’ he thundered. ‘Wake up while there’s still time and lend a hand to defend the republic!
‘Our liberty and lives are at stake! At such a time does anyone here dare talk to me of clemency and compassion?
‘Do not imagine, gentlemen, that it was by force of arms that our ancestors transformed a petty state into this great republic. If it were so, it would now be at the height of its glory, since we have more subjects and citizens, more arms and horses, than they ever had.
‘No, it was something else entirely that made them great – something we entirely lack.
‘They were hard workers at home, just rulers abroad, and to the senate-they brought minds that were not racked by guilt or enslaved by passion. That is what we’ve lost.
History can teach us lessons, if we choose to listen.