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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Catiline’s Address to his Soldiers before the Battle of Pistoria
By Sallust (c. 86–c. 34/35 B.C.)
From the ‘History of Catiline’s Conspiracy’

WHEN Catiline saw himself inclosed by the mountains and two hostile armies, and knew that his designs had miscarried in the city, and that there was neither hope of escaping nor of receiving any succor,—he thought his best way, in such a situation, was to try the fortune of a battle; and determined to engage Antonius as soon as possible. Accordingly, assembling his troops, he thus addressed them:—  1
  “I have learned by experience, fellow-soldiers, that words cannot inspire courage, nor a general’s speech render a spiritless army brave and intrepid. Every man displays in battle just so much courage as nature or habit has given him, and no more. It is to no purpose to exhort him whom neither glory nor danger can animate: his fear deprives him of his hearing. I have assembled you, fellow-soldiers, to instruct you in a few particulars, and to lay before you the grounds of my final resolution.  2
  “You all know what a dreadful calamity Lentulus, by his slow and spiritless conduct, has brought on himself and us; and how I have been prevented from marching into Gaul, by waiting for reinforcements from Rome. In what posture our affairs now are, you all see.  3
  “Two armies—one from Rome, another from Gaul—obstruct our advance. Want of provisions and other necessaries will not allow us to stay longer here, were we ever so desirous of doing it. To whatever place you think of marching, you yourselves must open a passage with your swords. I conjure you then to summon up all your courage; to act like men resolute and undaunted; to remember, when you engage, that you carry in your hands riches, honor, and glory,—nay, even your liberty and your country. If we overcome, all will be safe; we shall have plenty of provisions; the corporate towns and colonies will be all ready to receive us. But if we fail through fear, the very reverse will be our fate; nor will any place or friend protect those whom arms could not. Let me add to this, my fellow-soldiers, that we have different motives to animate us from what the opposing army has. We fight for our country, for our liberty, for our lives; they, for no interest of their own, but only to support the power of a few. Let this consideration, then, engage you to fall on them the more courageously, remembering your former bravery.  4
  “We might indeed have passed our remaining days, with the utmost infamy, in banishment; some of you too might have lived at Rome, depending for your subsistence on others, after having lost your own estates. But such a condition appearing equally disgraceful and intolerable to men of spirit, you resolved on the present course. If you repent of the step, remember that even to secure a retreat, the firmest valor is still indispensable. Peace must be procured by victory alone, not by a groveling cowardice. To hope for security in flight, when you have turned away from the enemy the arms which serve to defend you, is the height of madness. In battle, the most cowardly are always in most danger: courage is a wall of defense. When I consider your characters, fellow-soldiers, and reflect on your past achievements, I have great hopes of victory: your spirit, your age, your virtue encourage me; and our necessity too, which even inspires cowards with bravery,—for the narrowness of our position will prevent the enemy’s numbers from surrounding us. But should fortune envy your valor, be sure you fall not without taking due vengeance on the foe: suffer not yourselves to be captured and slaughtered like cattle; but fight rather like men, and leave our opponents a bloody and mournful victory.”  5

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