'Catiline,' but his most significant dramatic works, on the whole, are his four great satirical comedies.
In his tragedies, 'Sejanus' and 'Catiline,' he excluded comic material; for the most part he kept scenes of death and violence off the stage; and he very carefully and slowly constructed plays which have nothing, indeed, of the poetic greatness of Sophocles or Euripides (rather a Jonsonese broad solidity) but which move steadily to their climaxes and then on to the catastrophes in the compact classical manner.
This throws our actions into perspective; and as crabs, goats, scorpions, the balance and the waterpot lose their meanness when hung as signs in the zodiac, so I can see my own vices without heat in the distant persons of Solomon, Alcibiades, and Catiline
He admires Cicero who blames Catiline
. Is it not so, master?
In the 1st century B.C., members of the Catiline
conspiracy, an aristocratic plot to overthrow the Roman Republic, supposedly swore an oath over the entrails of a boy and then ate them.
Asking voters to call him "Coley," Blease entered politics as a protege of Benjamin Tillman, the white supremacist governor and senator from South Carolina who would go on to denounce his former disciple for his extreme populism, saying, "Catiline
among the Romans and Aaron Burr among the Americans are the only other men I have ever read of who were equal to Blease in bamboozling the people."
Reading these works in the context of an emergent republic, classically-trained Americans were presented with a number of apparently axiomatic claims: Without a self-sacrificing and virtuous people, republics would fall prey to ambitious statesmen, as Rome had to Julius Caesar; since most men acted out of passion instead of reason, republics were nearly impossible to maintain; democracies would permit popular passions to run rampant, paving the way for ambitious men like Caesar and Catiline
. These were cautionary lights by which to guide the new North American republic.
A central focus of her meticulously researched study was Cicero's political combat with, and triumph over, the treasonous conspiracy led by Roman Senator Lucius Sergius Catilina, known in English as Catiline
. While Rome's wealthiest and ablest citizens timidly evaded their duties to defend the commonweal against the impending mortal danger, Cicero, the incomparable rhetoretician, aided by Cato the Younger, dauntlessly exposed and opposed the Catiline
conspiracy, which had penetrated all levels of the government.
At issue here are Cicero's speech to the Senate in Jonson's Catiline
and its precursor in In Catilinam.
Other characters in Sejanus mention the practice occurring in public amphitheatres, and in Jonson's second tragedy Catiline
, the titular conspirator and his fellows drink a bowl of slave's blood mixed with wine to cement their vows.
He cites Thucydides, in the History of the Peloponnesian War, remarking on the breakdown of language as in part responsible for Athens's descent into tyranny and anarchy; Cato the Younger noting a similar loss of the fundamental meaning of words during the Catiline
Conspiracy; and Thomas Hobbes during England's Civil War sensing that the religious controversies of the time, in Thompson's words, "had fatally weakened the linguistic common ground on which an ordered state depends." Is ours another such era, a period where careful language has given way to buzz words, argument to insult, discourse to rivalling prejudices?