If you had been Catiline, what would you have said to undermine Cicero’s case?
Around 63 B.C conservatives were having trouble electing a statesman for Rome, three candidates were up for the running and only two were able to advance into a position in office. This resulted in fierce competition within the candidates; Cicero, Antonius, and Catiline. With each having their own set of strong suits and weak points, it was growing more and more difficult to choose the winners.
Marcus Tullius Cicero, commonly referred to as simply Cicero, was a lawyer and philosopher from a small town in Italy. He was very skilled in oratory however he is most well known for his literature written in latin.
Markus Antionius was also in the running alongside Cicero. The least is known about Antonius out of all of his fellow candidates but nevertheless, his oratory career was very big in Rome and he was considered the the most distinguished orator of his time.
Lucius Sergius Catilina, known now by his english name; Catiline was born into one of the oldest patrician families in Rome. He also had a distinguished military career making him a respectable figure.
Cicero was at a disadvantage being that he was in fact from Italy and not necessarily from Rome itself, this resulted in being called an ‘immigrant’ and a ‘foreigner’. He also didn’t have a good budget for the campaign, due to this he decided to use his skill of speech to boost himself in the rankings. Cicero attacked the character of his two opponents especially that of Catiline. This was probably not the best idea in my opinion, especially considering the fact that in the end there would be two winners; one for the first place winner who would go on to become the statesman and one for the second place winner who would become right hand hand man to the statesman. So creating bad blood is arguably not the safest way to go.
Nevertheless Cicero made the points that both Antonius and Catiline had close relationships with a young Julius Cesar who was not exactly a respectable figure at the time. He also mentioned that Catiline stole from foreigners and to gain the attention of the wealthy he also mentioned that he would fight for property rights.
In the end Cicero ended up winning the election with Antonius coming in second leaving Catiline to ultimately lose the campaign altogether. Understandably, this humiliated Cataline and throughout the next year he spent preparing for the next election. Meanwhile, Cicero was doing a great job as statesman and accumulated a big following.
During the next elections Cicero came in first yet again and Catiline remained in third for the second year in a row. Now obviously frustrated, Catiline decided that the only way to gain the power he wanted was to overthrow Rome. Thus he created a sort of misfit group containing dissatisfied veterans, flopped politicians, as well as enrolling men who were willing to fight on their behalf before he devised a plan.
In the midst of this, Catiline and his group were compromised resulting in a letter being sent for their banishment from Rome. So they planned an attack to kill Cicero which was unsuccessful. However Cicero made his first speech against Catiline to the senate urging him to be exiled from Rome. Cataline did end up leaving Rome but only to join his army where they planned another attack.
Now Cicero makes his second speech against Catiline to the people. Followed by this a third and fourth after receiving incriminating documents against Catiline’s group. This resulted in the order to find and execute them all. The word got around and Catiline’s small army decreased in numbers making his chance of survival scarce.
When the two army’s met face to face Catiline had no choice but to engage and was killed in battle along with his men. This entire ordeal did not benefit Catiline in any way and in fact made Cicero’s career reach its peak.
Now the question; If you had been Catiline, what would you have said to undermine Cicero’s case?
Analyzing the case that Cicero made against Catiline we can see that the claims made were taken heavily by the Roman people. Catiline was accused of stealing from foreigners as well as being close friends with Julius Cesar. I’m not sure if the claims were argued on behalf of Cataline but I have no reason to believe they were argued against. If these claims were true it still doesn’t account for the fact that Cicero is in fact a foreigner himself.
Cicero’s weakness is that he is not Roman so using that is good advantage. Catiline comes from a well known wealthy family in Rome which puts him at the upper hand. If Cicero wants the attention of the rich by promoting property rights what’s to say Catiline won’t do it better? Why would rich Romans trust a man from a small Italian town to help them with their properties when a like minded Roman who grew up in a wealthy and well known family would likely know more about what the rich want?
Another weakness we can address is Cicero’s lack of money for his campaign. He’s all talk and no action. So why not address this? Why not expose his method? Catiline has the money for his campaign, so why not give action? Put your funds into a project to show how well you can handle your money and show how easy it is to promote an idea to capture attention yet not take action on that idea.
In terms of the situation regarding Julius Cesar it’s difficult to say. A polarizing figure we can use as a comparison would be Donald Trump, if there was someone running for statesman and everyone found out he was friends with Donald Trump it probably wouldn’t look so good. I think if Cataline was willing he would not associate himself with Julius if it meant he would win. I would imagine it would help a lot if Catiline announced that he doesn’t associate or necessarily agree with the actions of Julius.
In conclusion I believe Catiline did not handle the situation he was given in the best way. In fact there were countless ways he could’ve handled it better and possibly ended up as statesman however his actions proved he was likely not fit for the role.