The seven speeches in this volume, five of them delivered in the year of Cicero’s consulship, are not only sources of supreme interest for the history of their time, but also contain some of his finest oratory. In an age when rhetoric in the grand style is at a discount it is not easy to catch the spirit of the more vivid passages without making them sound unnatural to our ears. It must always be remembered that these speeches were delivered to a Mediterranean audience and often in the presence of large and noisy crowds. This translation seeks to combine an accurate rendering of the Latin with an appreciation of Cicero’s qualities as orator, statesman and counsel for the defence; not always an easy task when the tastes and assumptions of our two societies are so very different.

The importance of the subject-matter is no less striking than the quality of the oratory. Although Catiline’s ill-fated outbreak was only one of a series of episodes in the death of the Roman republic, these speeches provide us with a mass of important material for our knowledge of the period and for our understanding of the framework of Roman politics and society. This fact is reflected in the output of modern scholarship, and an attempt to encompass even a fraction of what has been written about the