Machiavelli’s Catilinarian Oration

Author: Scott, John T
Title: Machiavelli’s Catilinarian Oration
Review/Collection: "Polis” 40, 1
Year edition: 2023
Pages: 110-127
Keywords: Héritage - Fortuna - Legacy, Rhétorique - Retorica - Rhetorics, Stylistique et genres littéraires - Stilistica e generi letterari - Stylistics and literary genre
Description: In the Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli claims that writers who are afraid to condemn Caesar instead criticize Catiline. I argue that Machiavelli follows this advice by inverting it. He openly condemns Caesar and the empire he founded while signaling that he has in mind another inimical example: the Church. He signals his intention by echoing Cicero’s fourth Catilinarian oration, imitating Cicero’s image of the ruin of Rome if Catiline’s conspiracy were to succeed through his own vision of the Italy wrought by wicked Roman emperors who succeeded Caesar. The reader of Machiavelli who recognizes this echo is in a position to see Machiavelli’s own Catilinarian oration against another successor of Caesar. In making my argument, I draw on Rex Stem’s treatment of the functions of exemplementarity as employed by authors of texts and as received by their readers.
Author initials: Scott 2023