"In the name of heaven, Catiline, how long do you propose to exploit our patience? Do you really suppose that your lunatic activities are going to escape our retaliation for evermore? Are there to be no limits to this audacious, uncontrollable swaggering?
"Look at the garrison of our Roman nation which guards the Palatine by night, look at the patrols ranging the city, the whole population gripped by terror, the entire body of loyal citizens massing at one single spot! Look at this meeting of our Senate behind strongly fortified defences, see the expressions on the countenances of every one of these men who are here! Have none of these sights made the smallest impact on your heart? You must be well aware that your plot has been detected. Now that every single person in this place knows all about your conspiracy, you cannot fail to realize it is doomed. Do you suppose there is a single individual here who has not got the very fullest information about what you were doing last night and the night before, where you went, the men you summoned, the plans you concocted? What a scandalous commentary on our age and its standards! For the Senate knows about all these things. The consul sees them being done. And yet this man still lives! Lives? He walks right into the Senate. He joins in our national debates – watches and notes and marks down with his gaze each one of us he plots to assassinate.
"And we, how brave we are! Just by getting out of the way of his frenzied onslaught, we feel we are doing patriotic duty enough. But yours was the death which the consul should have ordered long ago. The calamity which you have long been planning for each one of us ought to have rebounded on to yourself alone.
"The noble Publius Scipio Nasica, who was chief priest but held no administrative office, killed Tiberius Gracchus, although his threat to the national security was only on a limited scale. Shall we, then, who hold the office of consuls, tolerate Catilina when he is determined to plunge the entire world into fire and slaughter?…
"The Senate once ordained that Lucius Opimius, who was at that time consul, should take measures to protect the state from harm. Thereafter, not one single night was allowed to elapse. Because of a mere suspicion of treason, Gaius Gracchus, the son, grandson and descendant of highly distinguished men, was put to death. A man of consular rank, Marcus Fulvius, was also killed, and so were his children. A similar resolution of the Senate entrusted the national safety to the consuls Gaius Marius and Lucius Valerius; and thereafter not one day went by before the vengeance of the state brought a violent end to the tribune of the people Lucius Saturninus and the praetor Gaius Servilius.
"But look at us, on the other hand. For the past twenty days we have allowed the powers which the Senate has given into our grasp to become blunt at the edges. We have an entirely appropriate decree – but it is left buried in the archives like a sword hidden in its sheath. According to this decree, Catilina, it is evident to all that you should have been instantly executed. And yet you are still alive – and living with an effrontery which bears not the smallest sign of subsiding and is indeed more outrageous than ever. Members of the Senate, my desire is to be merciful. Yet in this grave national emergency I also do not want to seem negligent; and as things are I blame myself for culpable inaction..."
--Marcus Tullius Cicero, In Catilinam I
"Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? quem ad finem sese effrenata iactabit audacia?
"Nihilne te nocturnum praesidium Palati, nihil urbis vigiliae, nihil timor populi, nihil concursus bonorum omnium, nihil hic munitissimus habendi senatus locus, nihil horum ora voltusque moverunt? Patere tua consilia non sentis, constrictam iam horum omnium scientia teneri coniurationem tuam non vides? Quid proxima, quid superiore nocte egeris, ubi fueris, quos convocaveris, quid consilii ceperis, quem nostrum ignorare arbitraris? O tempora, o mores! Senatus haec intellegit. consul videt; hic tamen vivit. Vivit? immo vero etiam in senatum venit, fit publici consilii particeps, notat et designat oculis ad caedem unum quemque nostrum.
"Nos autem fortes viri satis facere rei publicae videmur, si istius furorem ac tela vitemus. Ad mortem te, Catilina, duci iussu consulis iam pridem oportebat, in te conferri pestem, quam tu in nos [omnes iam diu] machinaris.
"An vero vir amplissumus, P. Scipio, pontifex maximus, Ti. Gracchum mediocriter labefactantem statum rei publicae privatus interfecit; Catilinam orbem terrae caede atque incendiis vastare cupientem nos consules perferemus?…
"Decrevit quondam senatus, ut L. Opimius consul videret, ne quid res publica detrimenti caperet; nox nulla intercessit; interfectus est propter quasdam seditionum suspiciones C. Gracchus, clarissimo patre, avo, maioribus, occisus est cum liberis M. Fulvius consularis. Simili senatus consulto C. Mario et L. Valerio consulibus est permissa res publica; num unum diem postea L. Saturninum tribunum pl. et C. Servilium praetorem mors ac rei publicae poena remorata est?
"At [vero] nos vicesimum iam diem patimur hebescere aciem horum auctoritatis. Habemus enim huiusce modi senatus consultum, verum inclusum in tabulis tamquam in vagina reconditum, quo ex senatus consulto confestim te interfectum esse, Catilina, convenit. Vivis, et vivis non ad deponendam, sed ad confirmandam audaciam. Cupio, patres conscripti, me esse clementem, cupio in tantis rei publicae periculis me non dissolutum videri, sed iam me ipse inertiae nequitiaeque condemno…"