Note the irony

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Note the irony

Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Thu Mar 24, 2005 12:17 pm

Something that struck me while reading :

In truth, O Erucius, you would have been a ridiculous accuser, if you had been born in those times when men were sent for from the plough to be made consuls. Certainly you, who think it a crime to have superintended the cultivation of a farm, would consider that Atilius, whom those who were sent to him found sowing seed with his own hand, a most base and dishonourable man. But, forsooth, our ancestors judged very differently both of him and of all other such men. And therefore from a very small and powerless state they left us one very great and very prosperous. For they diligently cultivated their own lands, they did not graspingly desire those of others; by which conduct they enlarged the republic, and this dominion, and the name of the Roman people, with lands and conquered cities, and subjected nations. (Cicero, Pro Roscio Amerino, XVIII, 50)

Quite ironical, isn't it ? :wink:

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Mar 25, 2005 12:04 pm

Salvete,

By far Cicero's best accusation remains that of accusing Catilina he was trying to destroy the state, while much could be said that Cicero contributed more to its destruction than Catilina did.

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That Cicero contributed more to its destruction...

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Thu Apr 28, 2005 1:25 am

Salve Gnae,

I'm intrigued - I have to ask you to expand on why Cicero might have contributed more to the Republic's destruction than Catiline. It's true, too, that my education is not as complete as it ought to be, so your view of his contribution might be well-known, but it's not apparent to me.

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Catilina

Postby Aldus Marius on Thu Apr 28, 2005 6:43 am

Salve, Iohanne...

I'm not sure what Draco had in mind; but I've got my own set of reasons for believing as he does.

Lucius Sergius Catilina may or may not have been plotting to assassinate all the Magistrates; once we begin accepting evidence from other places besides his opponents ("History is written by the victors", indeed), it begins to look increasingly like "Not". It is rather easier to demonstrate that he had formed up an army and was prepared to fight the Senate for whatever it was he was really after. There were a lot of desperate second-string politicos at that time, frustrated at their enforced powerlessness to accomplish anything through legal means. The raising of an army most certainly did qualify as a crime against the State, whether or not one thinks it was justifiable. But there are ways to handle that.

Cicero did not handle it any of those ways. Apparently, even though he was Consul, he didn't feel he could accomplish what he wanted through the system, either. So he convened the Senate at night, and after not enough debate, ordered Roman citizens (the supposed conspirators) executed without trial. This was the most egregious violation of civil rights since the murders of the Gracchi, which I have elsewhere described as a crime against the Gods. If Roman Law no longer had the power to protect, of what use was the Republic?

Catilina himself perished at the Battle of Pistoia with his home-grown army. Even his enemies said that he died in a manner so brave that he would've gone down in history as a hero if he'd been fighting for the other side.

All that makes me wonder what he was trying to do. History won't tell us. But it must have been awfully important to him.

For a long time I ran an e-List called [Catilinarians]. It was for the OP's "Dissident Wing", who were becoming frustrated at the seeming hopelessness of calling attention to problems in that organization, or of trying to get anything done about them in a general atmosphere of "The Censores hereby declare that Everything Is Cool and All Are Content." Under the circumstances, that was the only List-name that made sense...

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Last edited by Aldus Marius on Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Catilina

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:18 pm

Salve, Mari -

Ah! It had been plain to me that from Cicero we were only getting half the story about Catalina, the presumed malefactor. But the mis-use of powers angle either I never focused on or it was obscured by the drama of the narrative or perhaps by the inherited respect for Cicero's name.

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Postby Q Valerius on Thu Apr 28, 2005 11:06 pm

Inherited respect for Cicero? Most history books look like they've been inherited from Eutropius, where there's no real expansion on how grave Cicero's deeds were. I sympathise whole-heartedly with Mari.
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Catilina reference

Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:22 am

I received my own awakening on this subject upon reading an excerpt of Arthur D. Kahn's The Education of Julius Caesar, put out by Schocken Books in 1986 (ISBN 0805240098). I later bought the whole thing. The Catilina chapters have names on 'em like "The Conspiracy of Cicero and Catiline", vel simile. (The event makes it into a Caesar book because Gaius Iulius, then a Senator, argued forcefully against the executions.)

Even recent Roman fiction has taken another look at the Received Wisdom on Catiline: John Maddox's SPQR II: The Catiline Conspiracy is grudgingly sympathetic, and Steven Saylor's Catilina's Riddle openly so.

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:58 am

Salvete,

I was thinking more about how Cicero did not help to restore the crumbling Republic, but, by his inflammatory rhetorics (more style-oriented than content-oriented) and switching sides constantly (or rather, maintaining some weird form of neutrality), contributed more to its decline.

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