Fourth Oration Against Catiline: Sentence of the Conspirators. ()In the Senate, DEC. 5.


    CHAP. 1. Solicitude of the Senate for Cicero. The question of the traitors' doom must, however, be settled without regard to such considerations.
    2-3. The Senators need not fear for Cicero. Let them take counsel for the welfare of the state. Enormous guilt of the conspirators. Judgment already rendered by the action of the Senate. The sole question is: What shall be the penalty?
    4. Silanus proposes death; Caesar, perpetual imprisonment.
    5. Caesar's proposition discussed.
    6. Death none too severe a penalty: severity to the conspirators is mercy to the city. Opinion of L. Caesar.
    7. Severe measures will be supported by the people.
    8. The humblest citizens are stanch.
    9. The Senators urged to act fearlessly: the consul will not fail them.
    10. Cicero is undismayed: his fame is secure, whatever happens to him. He has undertaken a perpetual war with the bad elements in the state, but the result is certain.
    11. Then let the Senate dare to act rigorously.

Two days later the Senate was convened, to determine what was to be done with the prisoners. It was a fundamental principle of the Roman constitution that no citizen should be put to death without the right of appeal to the people. Against the view of Caesar, which favored perpetual confinement, Cicero urged that, by the fact of taking up arms against the Republic, the conspirators had forfeited their citizenship, and that therefore the law did not protect them. This view prevailed, and the conspirators — Lentulus, Cethegus, Statilius, Gabinius, and Caeparius — were strangled by the public executioners.

As this is the first deliberative oration, delivered in the Senate, contained in this collection, it will be well for the student to consult the account of a senatorial debate given in the Introduction, p. lvii.

In the present case — in which the question was what sentence should be passed upon the captured conspirators — the consul elect, D. Junius Silanus, had advised that they be put to death; C. Julius Caesar (as praetor elect), on the contrary, that they be merely kept in custody. At the end of the discussion, Cicero, as presiding consul, gave his views as expressed in the present oration. (For the speeches of Caesar and Cato, see Sallust, Catiline, chs. 51,52.) 1.

I. Exordium

Solicitude of the Senate for Cicero. But the question of the traitors' doom must be settled without regard to such considerations.

si haec, etc., i.e. if the consulship has been given me on these terms.

at ... perferrem, subst. clause of purpose in apposition with condicio.

ego sum ille consul, I am a consul (i.e. that kind of consul).

aequitas: in the Forum was the tribunal of the praetor who administered justice between citizens.

campus: see note on Cat. 1, sect. 11 (p. 104, l. 7).

auspicus: the taking of the auspices always preceded the election.

The Roman commonwealth was regarded as depending directly upon the will of the gods. Their will was thought to be expressed in signs sent by them (auspicia). These could be observed only under the supervision of the board of augurs, a body whose duty it was to know the rules of interpretation as a special science called jus augurium. Most public acts of any kind had to be performed auspicato, especially the holding of all public assemblies in which business was transacted. Thus the Campus was "consecrated by auspices" every time that the comitia centuriata were held.

auxilium: the Roman Senate, having the management of foreign affairs, was at this time a great court of appeal for subject or friendly nations.

sedes lionoris, i.e. the sella curulis or seat used by the curule magistrates: viz. interrex, dictator, magister equitum, consul, praetor censor, and curule aedile. It was like a modern camp-stool without back or sides, with crossed legs of ivory, so that it could be folded up and carried with the magistrate wherever he went. The bracketed words sella curalis are doubtless an explanatory marginal note.

fuit: we should expect the subj. of characteristic, but the indic. is used (as often) to emphasize the fact.

at . . . eriperem (l.15, below): subst. clause of result, in appos. with exitum (l.10).

foedissima, horrible, with the added idea of polluting things sacred.

sabeatur, hortatory subjunctive.

fatale: see Cat. 3, sect. 9 (p.130).

laeter: § 444 (268); B. 277; G. 466; H. 559, 4 (484, v); H-B. 513, I: apodosis, see § 515, a (306, a); G. 595; H. 586 (508, 4); H-B. 582, I.


II. Propositio

The Senators need not fear for Cicero: they should take counsel for the welfare of the state. Enormous guilt of the conspirators, judgment has been already rendered by the action of the Senate. The sole question is: What shall be the punishment?

pro eo . . . ac mereor, in proportion as 1 deserve.

relaturos gratiam, will reward ("return favor": cf. habere, agere).

immatura: because an ex-consul had reached the highest point of Roman ambition.

misera: the philosophy of the ancients professed to make them despise death (see Plato, Apologia, and Cicero, Tusc. Quaest. 1.

ille ferreas, qui, so iron-hearted as (hence movear, subj.).

fratris: his brother Quintus, younger than he, and at this time praetor elect. He served with credit in Caesar's Gallic campaigns.

neqae . . . non, nor can it be but that, etc.: the two negatives make an affirmative, but with a kind of emphasis which the simple affirmative statement could not give.

axor: his wife Terentia.

filia: his daughter Tullia, married to C. Calpurnius Piso. Daughters took the gentile name of the father; see § 108, b (So, c); G. P- 493; H. 354, 9 (649, 4); H.-B. 678,5.

filias: his son Marcus, now two years old.

gener: Piso was not yet a member of the Senate, and was probably standing in the lobby.

moveor (emphat., as shown by its position), I am affected.

ati sint, [to wish] that, etc. (the verb being implied in moveor); pereamus is in the same construction as sint.

ana . . . peste, i.e. by a destruction which is at the same time that of the whole state.

non Ti. Gracchus, etc.: to preserve the emphasis, render it is not Ti. Gracchus who, etc. For the historical allusions, cf. Cat. 1, sects. 3, 4 (p. 100), and notes.

agrarios: see note on p. 147, l. 29.

Memmium: C. Memmius, one of the most upright men of his time; he was a candidate for the consulship against Glaucia, and was murdered by instigation of Glaucia and Saturninus (B.C. ion).

tenentur, are in custody: to preserve the emphasis we may Change the voice, - we have in our hands.

vestram Omnium: § 302, e (184, d); B. 243,3, a; G.321, R.2; H-B. 339, b.

ut. . . nemo: instead of the usual ne quis or ne quisquam because of the following ne . . . quidem; § 538, 310, a, b (319, d, R., cf. 105, d, N.); G. 543, 4, cf. 317, I; H. 568, Cf. 513 (497, ii, cf. 457); Cf. H.-B. 276, I and 7. 3.

judicils: their verdict on the conspirators' guilt consisted in the acts recounted in the following clauses.

gratias egistis: Cf. relaturos, p. 142, l. 25.

abdicare, etc.: see Cat. ut sect. 14 (p. 133, l. 4), and note.

sed, i.e. though you have in fact decided.

tamquam integrum, as if an open question (i.e. as if you had not already expressed your judgment).

judicetis refers to their judgment as a court with respect to the facts; censeatis, to their view as a public council respecting the punishment.

illa . . . consulis, etc., I will say in advance what belongs to [me as] the consul: i.e. declare the need of instant action; what action, it is for the Senate to determine; for construction, see § 343,4 (214, c); G. 366; H. 439 (401); H.-B. 340.

nova . . . misceri, that a revolution subversive of the government was on foot; nova (subject of misceri) means innovations or unconstitutional measures; misceri refers to the disorder which these would produce.

concitari mala, that evil designs were set in motion.

videbam: for tense, see § 471, b (277, b); B. 260, 4; G. 234; H. 535(469, 2); H.-B. 485.

opinione: § 406,a(247, b); B.217,4; G.398,N.1; H. 471,7 (417, 1, N.1); H.-B. 416, e.

provincias, especially Spain, with which Cn. Piso had had relations. It had not yet become fully reconciled since the overthrow of Sertorius, only eight years before.

sustentando, by forbearance; prolatando, by procrastination.

ratione: abl. of manner.

placet, sc. vindicare.


Silanus proposes death; Caesar, perpetual imprisonment. Caesar's proposition discussed.

haec (with a gesture), all this, i.e. city, citizens, and government.

amplectitur, adopts.

pro, in accordance with.

versatur in, exhibits.

mortem, etc.: a doctrine of the Epicureans, to which sect Caesar and many other eminent Romans belonged.

et ea: cf. note on p. 136, l. 17.

municipus dispertiri, Sc. eos in custodiam.

iniquitatem, since it might expose them to danger, and it would be unjust to choose among so many; difficultatem, since they might decline the service.

statueritis: subj. of integral part.

dignitatis: § 343, c (214, d) ; cf. B. 198, 3; G. 366, R.1; H 439, 3 (401, N.2); cf. H.-B. 340.

adjungit, he [Caesar] adds to his proposal.

ruperit: § 592, 2 (341, c) ; cf. B. 323; G. 366; H. 439 (401); H.-B. 536, a.

sancit, ordains (under penalties).

per senatum, by an executive decree; per populum, by a law.

uno, Sc. dolore.

itaque, etc.: an artful way of making the punishment of death seem less cruel; since death is a relief, these myths, says Cicero, have been invented to give it terror.

eis remotis: equiv. to a fut. protasis; § 521, a (310, a); G. 593,2 ; H. 638, 2 (549, 2); H.-B. 578, 6. 5.

mea: § 355,a (222,a); B. 211, i,a; G.381; H. 449, I (408, t 2); H.-B. 345.

popularis, not popular but devoted to the people, democratic: Caesar was now the recognized leader of this party.

auctore (abl. abs.), proposer; cognitore, sponsor (a legal term).

majorum: none of Caesar 5 ancestors were men of any distinction, although some distant relatives were prominent in public affairs in the time of Sulla; see note on p. 137, l. 23. He belonged, however, to one of the oldest patrician families.

obsidom, i.e. he is pledged at all events to defend the state as against the conspirators.

interesset: for tense, see § 485, d (287, d); H.-B. 482, I. levitatem, want of principle, i.e. of the steady purpose, or stability of character, implied in gravitas.

saluti, i.e. not voluntati: their interests, not their capricious wishes. >

non neminem: it is said that the person referred to was Q. Metellus Nepos, brother of Celer (see Cat. 1, sect. 19), a partisan of Pompey and an enemy of Cicero.

dedit, decrevit, adfecit: i.e. gave his vote for these acts. With this, of course, his present action is inconsistent.

qui has for antecedent the subject of judicarit.

re, the matter (in general); causa, the issue to be decided.

C. Caesar: the full name gives emphasis, contrasting him with the non nemo (p. 145, l. 29). Caesar votes for a judgment against the conspirators which seems contrary to the Sempronian Law, but he, a true friend of the people (vere popularis), recognizes that this law applies to Roman citizens only, and that it therefore cannot protect these traitors.

Semproniam: see note on "Crucifixion," etc., p. 61, l. 10.

latorem, i.e. C. Gracchus.

jussu populi: not strictly true, for C. Gracchus was put to death, not by order of the people, but by virtue of the dictatorial authority conferred upon the consuls by the Senate.

rei publicae: dative.

dependisse: punishment with the Romans was regarded as a penalty paid by the offender to the injured party (hence dare, solvere, pendere of the guilty; capere, petere, repetere, postulare, etc., of the person wronged).

Lentulum: by discussing this conspirator as an example of the would-be popularis, Cicero skillfully throws discredit on the non nemo (p. 145, l.29) and others like him.

largitorem, etc., i.e. however lavish, — a symptom of courting the popular favor.

se jactare, i.e. as a pretended friend of liberty, like the non nemo above.

omnis cruciattis: accusative plural.


III. Contentio

Death is none too severe a penalty; rigor in punishing the conspirators is mercy to the city. Opinion of L. Caesar.

quamob rem, etc.: because Caesar's view has in Caesar a popular sponsor, while the view of Silanus is in fact the more merciful one.

statueritis, dederitis: § 516, c and N. (307, c and a.); G. 595, N.2; H. 540, 2 (473, 2); cf. H.-B. 490.

contionem: see Introd. to Manilian Law in notes (p.272). The action of the consul would have to be justified before the people, who might regard it as a tyrannical measure. In this justification Cicero would have Caesar to assist him.

obtinebo eam, make it appear that it [this view], etc.

ita . . . liceat: an asseveration like our "so help me God." The point lies in the idea of "so and not otherwise" implied in it.

ut . . . moveor, as [it is true that] I am influenced, etc.

animo, hr my mind's eye (properly, abl. of means).

patria, native city.

cum vero: vero introduces (as often) the most striking point. The other conspirators are bad enough, but when, etc.

Vestalium: see note on p. 130, l. 19.

si quis: for form, see § 148, b, N. (104, a, N.); G. 106, R.; H. 512, I (454, I); cf. H-B. 141, a.

sumpserit: see note on dependisse, p. 146, l. 7; for tense, see note on statueritis, p. 146, l. 17.

ut . . . conlocarent: purp. clause in appos. with id.

nisi vero, etc.: reductio ad absurdum, as usual with this phrase; § 525, b, N. (315, b, N.); G. 591, R.4; H.-B. 578, 31 a.

L. Caesar: L. Caesar (consul B.C. 64), was a distant relative of the Dictator, son of Lucius Caesar (consul B.C. 90, the year of the Social War), the author of the law giving citizenship to the Italian allies (see note, Arch., sect. 7). The sister of Lucius Caesar (the younger) was married to Lentulus, and his mother, Fulvia, was daughter of M. Fulvius Flaccus, the leading adherent of C. Gracchus. When Gracchus and Flaccus found themselves (B.C. 121) drawn into a collision with the Senate, they sent the young son of Flaccus with a proposition of compromise. The Senate, however, refused to listen to any terms, threw the messenger into prison, — where he was afterwards strangled, —and moved upon the insurgents with all the power of the state. In the contest that followed, both leaders and several thousands of their partisans lost their lives. It was to these events that L. Caesar had appealed in justifying his vote in condemnation of his brother-in-law Lentulus.

ejus refers to avum.

legatum: of course the informal messenger of insurgents could have no claim to the title ambassador, or to the privileges which attached to the title in ancient as well as modern times.

quorum limits factum: understand with simile some word describing the present conspiracy (what act of theirs was like this?).

largitionis . . . versata est: the plans of C. Gracchus embraced not only a lex frutmentaria, allowing every citizen to buy a certain amount of corn from the state at less than half its market rate, and a lex agraria, providing for the distribution of public land among the poorer citizens, but also the establishment of several colonies, both in Italy and the provinces, the object of which was at once to provide poor citizens with land, and to relieve the city, by emigration, of a part of its proletariat. Though these grants were perhaps just, yet their proposal was regarded by the nobility as a political bid for popular favor, and hence gave rise to violent party jealousy (partium contentio).

avus (see note on p. 131, l. 6): he was an active supporter of the Senate on this occasion; ille (1.32) refers to the same person.

urbem inflammandam: according to Sallust's Catiline, ch. 43, this work was assigned to Gabinius and Statilius.

vereamini follows censeo (ironical), as if with ut omitted.


Severe measures will be supported by the people. The humblest Citizens are stanch. The Senators are urged to act fearlessly: the consul will not fail them.

voces, remarks.

eorum, on the part of those, etc.

vereri . . . ut: § 564(331, f); B. 296, 2; G. 550, 2; 11.567, I (498, iii, N.1); H.-B. 502, 4.

mea, etc.: observe the antithesis between mea summa cura and majore populi. . . voluntate.

ad, for.

consentiunt, unite.

ita . . ut, only to, etc. (lit. with this limitation that): see § 537, b (319, b); G. 552, R3; H-B. 521, 2, d.

summam ordinis consilique, superiority in rank andprecedence in counsel,

hujus ordinis (i.e. the Senate) limits dissensione in the sense of cum hoc, etc. For the long contest here alluded to, see Introduction, p. lxv.

quam st etc., and if we keep this union, etc.

confirmo, I assure, in a different sense from confirmatam: Latin style does not (as ours does) object to such repetitions with a variation in meaning.

tribunos aerarios, deans if the tribes. The Roman people were divided into thirty-five tribes, local and territorial, like wards. These tribes were made the basis of the comitia centuriata, as well as of the comitia tributa. They served also as general administrative and financial divisions. From the latter character the name tribuni aerarii was given to their presiding officers.

scribas: the scribae quaestorii (treasury clerks) formed an important and powerful corporation. As they were a permanent body, while the quaestors (treasurers) were elected annually, they had the real responsibility in the management of the treasury.

sortis: the quaestors entered upon office on the Nones of December (Dec. 5); all other patrician magistrates on the first of January. The scribae had therefore come together in order to be present while the quaestors drew lots for their provinces.

8. ingenuorum, free-born. Freedmen, libertini, were always regarded as inferior in rank, if not in civil and political rights. Even these, however, are shown in the next chapter to be interested in the safety of the republic.

sua vktute: manumission was very commonly bestowed as the reward of some peculiar merit in the slave.

hic nati, i.e. citizens, as contrasted with the manumitted slaves (who were for the most part of foreign birth).

qui modo . . . sit: § 535, d (320, d); H.-B. 579, N.2.

condicione: § 415, N. (251, N.); Cf. B. 224, I; G. 400; H. 473, 2, N.1 (419, 2 4); H.-B. 443.

voluntatis: partitive gen. with quantum, as if tantum voluntatis quantum, etc.

circum tabernas, i.e. among the artisans. The Roman shops were like little stalls along the street, open in front, with a "long room," or perhaps two, at the back.

cubile ac lectulum: both words mean nearly the same thing, and imply a very humble way of living.

otiosum, peaceable; so oti (1.6).

quorum relates to eorum, three lines above.

incensis, Sc. tabernis.

futurum fuit fuisset; § 517, d (308, d); G. 597, R3 H. 582 (51 I, 2); H-B. 581, a; the protasis is implied in incensis.

populi Romani, as contrasted with the Senate: cf. the formula Senatus Populusque Romanus. 9.

impiae, impious (in its strict sense a want of filial duty).

arcem et Capitolium: the Capitoline was a saddle-shaped hill, having the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus (Capitolium) on the southwestern point and the old citadel (arx) on the northeastern (see Cat. 3, sect. 20). Since Jupiter Capitolinus was the protecting divinity of Rome, his temple was the most sacred spot in the whole empire.

aras Penatium: the Penates were gods of the household and the larder (penus), worshipped by every paterfamilias in his own atrium. The state, being developed from the family, had likewise its Penates, which were fabled to have been brought by Aeneas from Troy and established at Lavinium, whence they were transferred to Alba Longa, and afterwards to Rome. Their temple was on the Velia, the low hill Connecting the Palatine and Esquiline.

ignem Vestue: the temple of Vesta was on the Sacra Via, toward the Palatine, — a small round building containing the symbolic household fire of the Roman state. see note on the Vestals, p. 130, l. 19.

focis: the focus, the symbol of household life, was a brazier for burning charcoal. It originally stood at the rear end of the atrium, or great hall, of the house. Later it was moved, for all practical purposes, to the kitchen, but a representative focus remained in the atrium and continued to be the symbol of household life.

quae facultas: § 307, e (201, d); cf. B. 251, 4, b; G. 616, 2; H.-B. 327.

in civili causa, on a political question.

quantis . . . delerit: this clause will be best turned into English by translating the participles fundatum, etc., as verbs, and delerit as a relative clause, — with how great toil this empire was established, which one night, etc. In Latin the question is contained in the interrogative modifiers of imperium and not in the main clause.


IV. Peroratio

Cicero is undismayed: his fame is secure. He has undertaken a perpetual war with the bad elements in the state; but the result is certain. Then let the Senate dare to act rigorously.

me . . . factorum: for cases, see § 354, b (22 I, b); B. 209, I; G. 377; 11.457(409, iii); H-B. 352, I.

gesta: abl. abs. with re publica.

Scipio: the elder Africanus, who brought the Second Punic War to a triumphant close by the battle of Zama, B.C. 202. By "carrying the war into Africa," he forced Hannibal to retire from Italy.

alter Africanus: the younger, surnamed Aemilianus. He was the son of L. Aemilius Paulus (mentioned below), and adopted by the son of the elder Africanus. He captured Carthage, B.C. 146, and Numantia, in Spain, B.C. 133.

Paulus: father of the younger Africanus, and, like his son, the most eminent and upright man of his generation. He brought the Third Macedonian War to a close by the battle of Pydna, B.C. 168, and led King Perseus captive in his triumphal procession.

currum [triumphalem]: the captives did not go with or behind the triumphal chariot, but preceded it in the procession.

bis liberavit: by the victories over the German invaders, —over the Teutones at Aquae Sextiae (B.C. 102), and the Cimbri at Vercellae (B.C. 101).

Pompeius: it should be remembered that Pompey was now in the East, in the midst of his career of conquest, and that his return was looked for with expectancy by all parties. Cicero took every means to win the confidence of the great general, and gain him over to his views in public affairs; but to no purpose. After some wavering, Pompey associated himself with Caesar, thus giving the Senate a blow from which it never recovered, and preparing the way for his own downfall.

aliquid loci: § 346, a, 3 (216, a, 3); B. 202, 2; G. 369; H. 442 (397, 3); H.-B. 346.

quamquam, and yet

uno loco, in one respect

oppressi serviunt, are crushed and enslaved: § 496, N.2 (292, R.); cf. B. 337,2; H-B. 604, I. 11.

pro impeno, in place if: all these honors, which Cicero might have gained by a foreign command, he has renounced in order to stay at home and protect the city.

clientelis hospitusque: the relation of cliens to patronus was that of a subordinate to a superior, carrying with it services on the one side and protection on the other; the hospites were, on the other hand, equals, and their connection was one of mutual aid and friendship. Foreign states and citizens were eager to form such ties with influential Romans, and they were equally advantageous to the Roman. Of course a provincial governor had peculiar opportunities for this.

urbanis opibus, the means afforded by a city life. Such ties would be more easily formed by a sojourn in a province, but they could also be formed by a statesman who remained at home; for the value of such a relation to the provincial consisted in the opportunities for protection and assistance which the statesman possessed in the city itself.

pro meis studiis, in return for my efforts.

quae dum, and as long as this.

mentibus: § 429, 3 (254, a); cf. B. 228, I; H. 485, I (425, 12); H.-B. 436.

suo solius: § 302, e (197, e); B. 243, 31 a; G. 321, R.2; H. 446, 3 (398, 3); H.-B. 339, b.

eum. . . qui, a consul who, etc.: § 297, d (102, d); B. 247, I, a; H.-B. 271, ii.

per se ipsum praestare, make good (so far as he may) on his own part

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
90 BC (1)
64 BC (1)
202 BC (1)
168 BC (1)
146 BC (1)
133 BC (1)
121 BC (1)
102 BC (1)
101 BC (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: