Cicero's Orations

The First Oration – Oratio in Catilinam Prima in Senatu Habita

As political orations go, it was relatively short, some 3,400 words, and to the point. The opening remarks are still widely remembered and used after 2000 years:

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Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? Quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? Quem ad finem sese effrenata iactabit audacia?

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 that unbridled audacity of yours, swaggering about as it does now?[6]

Also remembered is the famous exasperated exclamation, O tempora, o mores! (Oh, what times! Oh, what behaviour!).

Catiline was present when the speech was delivered. He replied to it by asking people not to trust Cicero because he was a self-made man with no family tradition of public office, and to trust himself because of the long experience of his family. Initially, Cicero's words proved unpersuasive.[7] Catiline then ran from the building, hurling threats at the Senate. Later he left the city and claimed that he was placing himself in self-imposed exile at Marseille, but really went to the camp of Manlius, who was in charge of the army of rebels. The next morning Cicero assembled the people, and gave a further oration.


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