Text #9720

Cicero. Orations. Vol. 2
[Cic. Catil. 8. Translated by C. D. Yonge. George Bell and Sons. 1917. (4 Vols.) p. 312]



Although all these things, O Romans, have been so managed by men that they appear to have been done and provided for by the order and design of the immortal gods; and as we may conjecture this because the direction of such weighty affairs scarcely appears capable of having been carried out by human wisdom; so, too, they have at this time so brought us present aid and assistance, that we could almost behold them without eyes. For to say nothing of those things, namely, the firebrands seen in the west in the night time, and the heat of the atmosphere,—to pass over the falling of thunderbolts and the earthquakes,—to say nothing of all the other portents which have taken place in such number during my consulship, that the immortal gods themselves have been seeming to predict what is now taking place; yet, at all events, this which I am about to mention, O Romans, must be neither passed over nor omitted.

For you recollect, I suppose, when Cotta and Torquatus were consuls, that many towers in the Capitol were struck with lightning, when both the images of the immortal gods were moved, and the statues of many ancient men were thrown down, and the brazen tablets on which the laws were written were melted. Even Romulus, who built this city, was struck, which, you recollect, stood in the Capitol, a gilt statue, little and sucking, and clinging to the teats of the wolf. And when at this time the soothsayers were assembled out of all Etruria, they said that slaughter, and conflagration, and the overthrow of the laws, and civil and domestic war, and the fall of the whole city and empire was at hand, unless the immortal gods, being appeased in every possible manner, by their own power turned aside, as I may say, the very fates themselves.

Therefore, according to their answers, games were celebrated for ten days, nor was anything omitted which might tend to the appeasing of the gods. And they enjoined also that we should make a greater statue of Jupiter, and place it in a lofty situation, and (contrary to what had been done before) turn it towards the east. And they said that they hoped that if that statue which you now behold looked upon the rising of the sun, and the forum, and the senate-house, that those designs which were secretly formed against the safety of the city and empire would be brought to light so as to be able to be thoroughly seen by the senate and by the Roman people. And the consuls ordered it to be so placed; but so great was the delay in the work, that it was never set up by the former consuls nor by us before this day.

Text #9723

Obsequens. "A Book of Prodigies After the 505th year of Rome"


“61. M. Cicerone C. Antonio coss. AUC 691/63 BC

Many places were struck by lightning. At Pompeii Vargunteius was struck dead from a clear sky. A fiery javelin stretched to the sky from the west. The whole of Spoletum was shaken by an earth tremor, and some places collapsed. Among other things it was related that two years previously on the Capitol the wolf of Remus and Romulus was struck by lightning, and the standard of Jupiter with its columns was split apart, on the response of the haruspices it was repositioned in the forum. The laws on the bronze tablets the letters were melted. After these prodigies the nefarious conspiracy of Catiline began.”

Text #9724

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

Obsequens, deriving his material from Livy, is slightly confused. It appears, from Cicero’s direct testimony in the Third Catilinarian Oration, that some of the portents listed occurred in the year 65, and others in 63. (BC) Cicero further says that games were celebrated following the portents of 65, which is mentioned by Dio Cassius:

. . .[Not] for this alone did [Caesar] receive praise during his aedileship, but also because he exhibited both the Ludi Romani and the Megalenses on the most expensive scale and furthermore arranged gladiatorial contests in his father’s honour in the most magnificent manner. (Loeb, Vol. 8, p. 115)

Caesar was aedile in 65.

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