I'm currently teaching Cicero's In Catilinam 1 to undergraduate Latin students, and so I feel quite passionately about what Senator Ted Cruz (R - Dumbfuckistan) did to one of the most sublime pieces of extemporaneous speaking in the history of Western literature. Here's a bit of context about Cicero's famous denunciation of Catiline.

Early on the morning of October 8th or 9th, 63 BCE, Marcus Tullius Cicero got word that Lucius Sergius Catiline—a member of one of Rome's most blue-blood patrician families—planned to kill him at his morning salutatio (a time for clients to come get the day's orders from their mob boss patron). This attempt on Cicero's life would have been the culmination of about a year of political intrigue between the two men, who had run nasty political campaigns against one another during the consular elections in 64.

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Cicero was a novus homo, a new man, meaning that he was the first member of his family to rise to senatorial rank, and beyond that, to the office of consul. Rome's republic was a representative government in spirit, if not in practice. Her two consuls served one-year offices, and each consul would hand off day-to-day governance of the Empire every month.

Everything we know about Lucius Sergius Catiline comes from highly vitriolic sources, and most of that information centers around his organizing the so-called "Catilinarian Conspiracy:" a plot—again, according to Cicero and his ken—that would have assassinated everyone in the Roman government and installed Catiline as Rome's dictator. All the evidence for this conspiracy is hearsay, mainly from Cicero's writings.

What becomes clear in the four speeches that Cicero wrote against Catiline is that Cicero must prove a negative. Nothing did happen to Cicero's family or person, but Catiline's decision to flee the city engenders reasonable suspicion that he was up to something. Catiline was later killed at the battle of Pistoria by the army of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer. Here's how he was discovered:

Catiline was found far in advance of his men amid a heap of slain foes, still breathing slightly, and showing on his face the indomitable spirit which had animated him when alive. (J.C. Rolfe trans.)

As for In Catilinam 1, critics have made the compelling case that it was delivered entirely off-the-cuff. Stylistically, the speech is wholly peculiar among the Ciceronian corpus. There's no introduction whatsoever. The majority of verb forms are in the second-person singular (he addresses Catiline directly so much that one gets the sense he screamed in his face a few times). There's very real anger and derision in his diction.

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Imagine this scene. Cicero calls an emergency meeting of the senate not in the senate house, but rather in the Temple of Jupiter Stator, which was Rome's depository for her most sacred military relics. There would have been bloodied standards and shields hanging on the walls, dating from the time of Hannibal and before. Moreover, Cicero commanded a number of Rome's city guard to surround the building with spears pointed inward. The senators—Catiline included, he had no idea what was about to happen—are milling around probably wondering what in the actual fuck is going on. And in walks Cicero, who starts immediately:

How long, Catiline, will you abuse our patience? For how long indeed will that damn insanity mock us? To what end will that unbridled gall bandy itself about? Do not the guards on the Palatine move you? Do not the watchmen of the city move you? Does not the dread of our populace move you? Does not the union of all good people move you? Does not this most well-protected space for our senate meeting move you? Do not the faces and expressions of these men here move you?

Do you get the feeling that your plans are plain? Don't you see that your conspiracy is held tightly bound by the knowledge of these men here?

Question: what'd you do last night? the night before? where were you? who did you gather together? what sort of action did you undertake? Better still: which one of us do you think is an idiot?

Such rapid-fire staccato is not the stuff of prepared remarks. To be sure, a cursory survey of Roman comedy playwrights shows that Cicero may as well have shot these lines off in a bar surrounded by his entourage. And so he continues:

What times! What morals! The senate understands these things, the consul sees them; still, this man's alive. He's alive? Hell, he comes all the way into the senate! He becomes a participant in public business! He marks down and checks off each and every one of us for death! And we, however, brave men that we are [massive sarcastic eyeroll], we appear to do enough by merely dodging this man's frenzied knifepoint.

That concludes the first page of most standard editions of In Catilinam 1. As the speech unfolds, it becomes clear that the other senators in attendance slowly distanced themselves from where Catiline sat (thus Maccari's famous painting up there). In fact, Cicero straight up asks Catiline, "Why do you think all the chairs around you are empty?"

Alright. That Ted Cruz is a dimwitted political opportunist, who will haul any venerable historical figure in regardless of historical context or that historical figure's dirty laundry, should be news to none. But what's particularly galling (audacia, Senator, dropped on Catiline no less than 30 times in the four speeches) about Cruz' co-opting of Cicero here is that the speech was delivered with an immediacy entirely out-of-place when speaking about amnesty for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Did President Obama make a direct threat on your life, Senator? Does President Obama have a private military force waiting to march on D.C., Senator? Do you, Senator, individually and unilaterally have the legislative power to instill martial law, whereby our National Guard must obey any order you issue? Where did you learn your Greek, Senator? Who in the fuck is Demosthenes?

I'll pass over Cruz' editors omitting any mention of how Catiline (Obama?) should be put to death immediately (confestim) and close with this: Ted Cruz needs a fucking history lesson.