Daily Mail article about extant speeches on the Catiline conspiracy

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.


4 thoughts on “Daily Mail article about extant speeches on the Catiline conspiracy

  1. I’m currently translating a lot of Cicero (his personal letters and his oration against Cataline). I can only imagine what it would’ve been like to hear his speeches in person.

  2. That’s very interesting! How are you finding it to work with?

    I have to admit that I am a fan of the translation of the Ad Familiares published by Penguin. Why the new translation?

    I’ve never really got into the speeches, although I read the one for Caelius Rufus the other day and enjoyed it. But to hear the man in person… yes, that must have been special.

  3. I think for Caesar’s and Cato’s speeches the author refers to Sallustus (Coniuratio Catilinae, ch. 51 Caesar, ch. 52 Cato), though these versions are certainly even more distant from the speeches actually held in the senate than in the case of Cicero’s Catilines, which were edited by himself.

    All of these works are available on Perseus, both in Latin and English.

  4. Thank you very much for this. Sallust sounds a probable source, I agree. I’ve never read his works, so of course was unaware of this possibility.

    Mind you… how likely is it that the speeches are genuine, rather than literary compositions?

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