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[17]

Unless I had driven this man, so active, so ready, so audacious, so crafty, so vigilant in wickedness, so industrious in criminal exploits, from his plots within the city to the open warfare of the camp, (I will express my honest opinion, O citizens,) I should not easily have removed from your necks so vast a weight of evil. He would not have determined on the Saturnalia 1 to massacre you he would not have announced the destruction of the republic, and even the day of its doom so long beforehand,—he would never have allowed his seal and his letters, the undeniable witnesses of his guilt, to be taken, which now, since he is absent, has been so done that no larceny in a private house has ever been so thoroughly and clearly detected as this vast conspiracy against the republic. But if Catiline had remained in the city to this day, although, as long as he was so, I met all his designs and withstood them; yet, to say the least, we should have had to fight with him, and should never, while he remained as an enemy in the city, have delivered the republic from such dangers, with such ease, such tranquillity, and such silence.


1 The Saturnalia was a feast of Saturn at which extraordinary licence and indulgence was allowed to all the slaves; it took place at the end of December, while this speech of Cicero was delivered early in November.

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