Against Catiline


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First Oration Against Catiline


When, O Catiline, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end of your unbridled audacity? Do not the nightly guards placed on the Palatine Hill2 — do not the watches posted throughout the city — do not the alarm of the people and the union of all good men — do not the precautions taken of assembling the Senate in this most defensible place — do not the looks and countenances of this venerable body here present, have any effect upon you? Do you not feel that your plans are detected? Do you not see that your conspiracy is already arrested and rendered powerless by the knowledge which every one here possesses of it? What is there that you did last night, what the night before — where is it that you were — whom did you summon to meet you — what design was there which was adopted by you, with which you think that anyone of us is unacquainted?

Shame on the age and on its principles! The Senate is aware of these things; the consul sees them; and yet this man lives. Lives! ay, he comes even into the Senate. He takes a part in the public deliberations; he is watching and marking down and checking off for slaughter every individual among us. And we, gallant men that we are, think that we are doing our duty to the republic if we keep out of the way of his frenzied attacks. . . .

I wish, O conscript fathers, to be merciful; I wish not to appear negligent amid such danger to the state; but I do now accuse myself of remissness and culpable inactivity. A camp is pitched in Italy, at the entrance of Etruria, in hostility to the republic. The number of the enemy increases daily. And yet the general of that camp, the leader of those enemies, we see within the walls — ay, and even in the Senate — planning every day some internal injury to the republic. If, O Catiline, I should now order you to be arrested, and to be put to death, I should, I suppose, have to fear lest all good men should say that I had acted tardily, rather than that anyone should affirm that I had acted cruelly. But what ought to have been done long ago, I have good reason for not doing as yet. I will put you to death only when there cannot be found a single person so wicked, so abandoned, so like yourself, as not to admit that it has been rightly done. As long as one person exists who dares to defend you, you shall live. But you shall live as you do now, surrounded by my trusty guards, so that you shall not be able to stir one finger against the republic. Many eyes and ears shall still observe and watch you, as they have hitherto done, though you shall not perceive them. . . .

Take yourself off, O Catiline, to your impious and nefarious war, to the great safety of the republic, to your own misfortune and injury, and to the destruction of those who have joined themselves to you in every wickedness and atrocity. Then do you, O Jupiter, who were consecrated by Romulus with the same auspices as this city, whom we rightly call the stay of this city and empire, repel this man and his companions from your altars and from the other temples — from the houses and wails of the city — from the lives and fortunes of all the citizens. And overwhelm all the enemies of good men, the foes of the republic, the robbers of Italy . . . with eternal punishments.

1 Cicero, , i, 1–2, 13.

2 The Palatine Hill was the original seat of the city of Rome. In Cicero’s day, after the city had spread gradually over the other hills in the neighborhood, the Palatine became the fashionable quarter of Rome.


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Chicago: "First Oration Against Catiline," Against Catiline in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 197–198. Original Sources, accessed September 22, 2023,

MLA: . "First Oration Against Catiline." Against Catiline, Vol. i, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 197–198. Original Sources. 22 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: , 'First Oration Against Catiline' in Against Catiline. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.197–198. Original Sources, retrieved 22 September 2023, from