Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) was a Roman politician who served as consul in the year 63 BC. He is believed by many to be one of the greatest masters of rhetoric in history. He was persuasive in his arguments and had significant power because of this. Cicero was also a lawyer as well as a politician, and in a verbal confrontation, he attacks a figure of that time, Cataline. Cataline (108-62 BC) was a member of the Roman senate, but he had his own organizations by which there were suspicions that he might attempt to overthrow the city.
Cicero uses his rhetorical tactics to dramatically addresses Cataline in front of the senate. This was not a trial however, this was a political oration delivered by Cicero. Cicero, even in his own time, was regarded as a master of rhetoric. Being verbally pursued by this man raises a level of fear in the victim. Cicero had goals in his speech, but he did not make these obvious. Among other goals, the main goal of Cicero in his oration was to persuade Cataline to leave the city of Rome. The entire oration was centered around this goal. Had I been in the place of Cataline, I would have made an effort to react differently to Cicero’s accusations.
Cicero made several vague accusations towards Cataline, and basically portrayed him as a monstrous threat toward the Roman Republic. While the accusations may have been true, they were neither specific or direct. He did not refer to specific events in which Cataline conspired in wrongdoings.
I do not know if, in this confrontation, Cataline had the opportunity to speak, but if I were in his place, I would have made an effort to intervene. I would have requested Cicero to specify his accusations, and provide relevant proof for them. And if he was unable to speak during the oration, I would have confronted it when Cicero had finished speaking.
Perhaps Cataline did not make an effort to deny these accusations of being a danger to the Roman Republic, because perhaps they were true. Perhaps he really was conspiring against the city, and perhaps he knew that it was true that he deserved death. It is not apparent that he made any effort whatsoever to defend himself. He could have demanded evidence that what Cicero said was true, but if Cicero was able to provide it, Cataline could face death charges rather than simply charges to leave the city. It could have been that the reason he didn’t deny it was to avoid the possibility of the Senate uncovering some of his monstrous deeds. Perhaps he saw it as a safer option to remain silent, and be sentenced to leave the city with his army. Then he could later attack Rome through warfare (which is what he did).
The reasons for his silence in the process is unknown to the text. If I were in his place, I would have confronted Cicero in a similar way that he was confronting Cataline, using logic and a means of rhetoric. I would have asked the senate how they accepted these accusations against him when there was no specified proof that they actually happened.