The second oration of M. T. Cicero against Lucius Catilina.
Addressed to the people.
Part of: The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, 4 vols.
The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, translated by C.D. Yonge (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1913-21). Vol. 2.
Author: Marcus Tullius Cicero
Translator: Charles Duke Yonge
I. At length, O Romans, we have dismissed from the city, or driven out, or, when he was departing of his own accord, we have pursued with words, Lucius Catiline, mad with audacity, breathing wickedness, impiously planning mischief to his country, threatening fire and sword to you and to this city. He is gone, he has departed, he has disappeared, he has issued [Editor: illegible word?] out. No injury will now be prepared against these walls within the walls themselves by that monster and prodigy of wickedness. And we have, without controversy, defeated him, the sole general of this domestic war. For now that dagger will no longer hover about our sides; we shall not be afraid in the campus, in the forum, in the senatehouse,—ay, and within our own private walls. He was moved from his place when he was driven from the city. Now we shall openly carry on a regular war with an enemy without hindrance. Beyond all question we ruin the man; we have defeated him splendidly when we have driven him from secret treachery into open warfare. But that he has not taken with him his sword red with blood as he intended,—that he has left us alive,—that we wrested the weapon from his hands,—that he has left the citizens safe and the city standing, what great and overwhelming grief must you think that this is to him! Now he lies prostrate, O Romans, and feels himself stricken down and abject, and often casts back his eyes towards this city, which he mourns over as snatched from his jaws, but which seems to me to rejoice at having vomited forth such a pest, and cast it out of doors.
II. But if there be any one of that disposition which all men should have, who yet blames me greatly for the very thing in which my speech exults and triumphs,—namely, that I did not arrest so capital mortal an enemy rather than let him go,—that is not my fault, O citizens, but the fault of the times. Lucius Catiline ought to have been visited with the severest punishment, and to have been put to death long since; and both the customs of our ancestors, and the rigour of my office, and the republic, demanded this of me; but how many, think you, were there who did not believe what I reported? how many who out of stupidity did not think so? how many who even defended him,—how many who, out of their own depravity, favoured him? If, in truth, I had thought that, if he were removed, all danger would be removed from you, I would long since have cut off Lucius Catiline, had it been at the risk, not only of my popularity, but even of my life.
But as I saw that, since the matter was not even then proved to all of you, if I had punished him with death, as he had deserved, I should be borne down by unpopularity, and so be unable to follow up his accomplices, I brought the business on to this point that you might be able to combat openly when you saw the enemy without disguise. But how exceedingly I think this enemy to be feared now that he is out of doors, you may see from this,—that I am vexed even that he has gone from the city with but a small retinue. I wish he had taken with him all his forces. He has taken with him Tongillus, with whom he had been said to have a criminal intimacy, and Publicius, and Munatius, whose debts contracted in taverns could cause no great disquietude to the republic. He has left behind him others—you all know what men they are, how overwhelmed with debt, how powerful, how noble.
III. Therefore, with our Gallic legions, and with the levies which Quintus Metellus has raised in the Picenian and Gallic territory, and with these troops which are every day being got ready by us, I thoroughly despise that army composed of desperate old men, of clownish profligates, and uneducated spendthrifts; of those who have preferred to desert their bail rather than that army, and which will fall to pieces if I show them not the battle array of our army, but an edict of the prætor. I wish he had taken with him those soldiers of his, whom I see hovering about the forum, standing about the senate-house, even coming into the senate, who shine with ointment, who glitter in purple; and if they remain here, remember that that army is not so much to be feared by us as these men who have deserted the army. And they are the more to be feared, because they are aware that I know what they are thinking of, and yet they are not influenced by it.