Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT II. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. IX The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Alzire, Orestes, Sémiramis, Catiline, Pandora) and Part II (The Scotch Woman, Nanine, The Prude, The Tatler).
ACT II. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. IX The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Alzire, Orestes, Sémiramis, Catiline, Pandora) and Part II (The Scotch Woman, Nanine, The Prude, The Tatler). 
From The Works of Voltaire, A Contemporary Version, (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901), A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming. Vol. IX The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Alzire, Orestes, Sémiramis, Catiline, Pandora) and Part II (The Scotch Woman, Nanine, The Prude, The Tatler).
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- At length the torch is lit to set on fire
- Rome and the subject world; our army’s nigh,
- And all is ready for the great event.
- Knowest thou meantime, my friend, what passes here?
- I know the consul’s prudence, so he calls
- His cowardice, which deeply ruminates
- On future ills: like an unskilful pilot
- He sets up every sail for every wind,
- But knows not or which way the tempest comes,
- Or whither it may drive him—for the senate,
- I fear it not; that many-headed monster,
- So proud of conquest and nobility,
- Looks with an evil eye on Cicero;
- I know it hates him, so does Cæsar; Crassus
- Would gladly yield him up a sacrifice
- To our resentment; on their jealousy
- Depend my hopes—he’s like a dying man,
- With feeble arm he struggles for a while,
- But soon shall sink beneath us and expire.
- Envy I know attacks him, but his tongue
- Can soften all; he leads the captive senate.
- I brave him everywhere; despise his clamors,
- And smile at his resentment: let him rail
- To his last hour, and triumph in the shouts
- Of his admirers, I have other cares
- That sit more heavy on me.
- What should stop
- Thy rapid progress in the paths of glory
- And happiness? Canst thou have aught to fear?
- My numerous foes I heed not, ’tis my friends
- I have most cause to dread; the jealousy
- Of Lentulus, the aspiring soul of Cæsar,
- And, above all, my wife.
- Shall Catiline
- Be frightened at a woman’s tears?—for shame,
- Leave her to indulge her visionary fears:
- I thought thou lovest her as a master should,
- And madest her but the servile instrument
- Of thy ambition.
- ’Tis a dangerous one:
- Rome and her child divide with me her love.
- Curse on the name of Rome, that even beneath
- The roof of Catiline those should dwell who love
- Their country! But before the important hour
- That must decide our fate, she shall be moved,
- She and her son—be that thy care, Cethegus:
- Our wives and children must not trouble us
- In those distressful moments—but for Cæsar—
- What’s to be done? if he refuse to join
- Our cause, shall we proscribe him; shall the names
- Of Cicero and of Cæsar be united?
- Let me consider—to cut Cæsar off—
- That were a dreadful sacrifice; methinks
- I cannot but admire him, and revere
- In him the honor of the Roman name:
- But where is Lentulus?
- O fear not him;
- His pride we know will prompt him to believe
- That thou with him wilt share the sovereign power.
- Let him believe it still! the credulous fool!
- Thou seest, Cethegus, with what sublety
- I’m forced to manage these imperious spirits;
- Their rage, resentment, pride and jealousy:
- Knowest thou he dares even to be Cæsar’s rival?
- To keep my friends within the pale of prudence
- Will cost me much more trouble than the ruin
- Of Cicero and Rome—to guide a party
- Is of all tasks the hardest.—
- Is here, my lord.
catiline, cethegus, lentulus-sura.
- In spite of my remonstrance
- You will rely on Cæsar, and confide
- In him alone; Præneste’s in his power.
- And I must yield to him; but know I scorn it,
- The blood of Scipio was not made to yield.
- I’ve joined with Cæsar, but depend not on him;
- He may support our cause, or he may hurt it;
- I use his name, but ’tis for your advantage.
- And what is there in Cæsar’s name superior
- To yours or mine? why must we meanly court
- His favor? but because he’s Pompey’s rival
- Rome makes a God of him.—I am thy friend;
- Sura and Catiline may defy them all,
- And without Cæsar make the world their own.
- We may—thy conduct and approved valor
- Have ever been my best and surest hope;
- But Cæsar is beloved, respected, feared;
- The senate and the people all admire
- And court him; statesman, general, magistrate;
- In peace revered, and terrible in war;
- A thousand ways he charms the multitude;
- In short he will be necessary.—
- Destructive rather—if to-day he shines
- Our equal, by to-morrow he will prove
- Our rival, and ere long perhaps our master;
- Trust me, I know him well, and therefore think
- Our party has not a more dangerous foe:
- Perhaps his haughty soul may yield to thee,
- But play the tyrant o’er the rest; for me,
- I cannot, will not, brook it—I’ve devoted
- My honor and my fortunes to thy service;
- But I renounce my plighted faith, renounce
- Thee and thy cause, if Cæsar is preferred.
- And so thou shalt—I’d sacrifice my life
- Rather than e’er permit a haughty rival
- To soar above us—Cæsar is our tool,
- Our instrument; to-day I flatter him,
- To-morrow can bring down his pride, perhaps
- Do more—thou knowest our mutual happiness
- And interest are my first and dearest care.
- [To Cethegus.
- Away, and let Aurelia be prepared:
- Go; or her fond intruding love may ruin
- Our deep laid schemes, and mar the great design:
- Return some private way and meet me here,
- I wait for Cæsar.
- Nothing’s to be done.
- I find, without him—but I’ll wait the event.
- Farewell: remember I rely on thee
- More than on Cæsar.—
- I shall execute
- Your high command, and gather all our friends
- Before the standard of great Catiline.
- Hail, godlike Cæsar, thou whom from the days
- Of Sulla I have ranked amongst my best
- And dearest friends, whose fortunes I foretold:
- Born as thou art to be the first of Romans,
- How suits it with thy pride to be the slave
- Of a plebeian, who forever thwarts
- And braves thee to thy face? I know thou hatest him;
- Thy piercing eye observes impatient Rome
- Contending for her freedom, will not Cæsar
- Assist his country to shake off her chains?
- The cause is noble, and the fate of millions
- Depends on this important crisis; thou
- Wilt join us—lookest thou not with jealous eye
- On Pompey still? dost thou not still abhor
- The surly Cato? canst thou serve the gods
- With half thy wonted zeal when the proud consul
- Presides at the altar? will thy noble spirit
- Bear these imperious rulers; soft Lucullus,
- Sunk in the arms of luxury and sloth;
- The greedy Crassus, grasping his large heaps
- Of ill-got wealth, enough to purchase Rome
- And all her venal sons? on every side
- Or faction or corruption reigns; the world
- Calls out on Cæsar; wilt thou hear her voice?
- Wilt thou redress and save thy falling country?
- Will Cæsar listen to his friend?
- He will;
- And if the senate do thee wrong, step forth
- To plead thy cause; I never will betray thee;
- But ask no more.
- Are these the utmost bounds
- Of Cæsar’s friendship, but to talk for him?
- I’ve weighed the projects, and shall not oppose them;
- I may approve, but would not execute.
- I understand you, you are on that side
- Which fortune favors, and would stand aloof
- To mark the progress of our civil wars,
- And raise your fortunes on the common ruin.
- No—I have nobler views; my hate of Cato,
- My jealousy of Pompey, the renown
- Of Cicero, conspire to make me wish
- I might surpass them all; fair glory calls,
- The banks of Seine, the Tagus, and the Rhine;
- I pant for honor, and for victory.
- If conquest is thy aim, begin with Rome;
- To-morrow we may reign the masters of her.
- The enterprise is great, perhaps too bold;
- But, to be open with thee, though ’tis worthy
- Of Catiline, it suits not Cæsar.
- I do not choose to serve.
- To share with Cæsar
- Were no dishonor to the most ambitious.
- But power supreme is not to be divided:
- I’ll not be dragged at Catiline’s chariot wheels
- To grace his triumph: as a friend I love thee;
- But know that friend shall never be—my master:
- Even Pompey shall not—Sulla, whom thy valor
- Hath nobly followed in the race of glory,
- Whose courage I admire, whose lawless rage
- I ever shall abhor, enslaved proud Rome:
- But he deserved the glorious prize, subdued
- The Hellespont, and made Euphrates tremble:
- Asia was conquered: Mithridates owned
- His martial genius—but what noble deeds
- Hast thou to boast? what kings hast thou subdued?
- What seas has Catiline passed, what lands explored?
- Thou hast the seeds of greatness in thy nature;
- But to enslave thy country is above
- Thy present powers, above the powers of Cæsar:
- We have not strength, authority or name
- For such an enterprise. Rome soon must fall:
- But ere I will attempt to be her master,
- I will extend her empire and her glory;
- And if I forge my country’s chains, at least
- Will cover them with laurels.
- Mine, perhaps,
- Is, after all, the shortest path to glory:
- How did your boasted Sulla rise to empire?
- He had an army, so has Catiline;
- Raised by myself alone, and not, like his,
- The gift of fortune; he observed with care
- The favorable hour, and well improved it:
- I have done more; have made the times and seasons
- Subservient to me. Sulla was a king.
- Wouldst thou be one? wilt thou be Cicero’s slave,
- Or rule with Catiline?
- Neither. To be free,
- For I no longer will dissemble with you,
- I esteem Cicero; but love him not,
- Nor fear him: though I love, I dread not thee.
- Divide the senate if thou canst, pull down
- The proud oppressors; thou hast my consent;
- But hope no more, nor dare to think that Cæsar
- Will ever be thy slave: I’ll keep thy secret,
- And be thy friend or foe, as thou deservest it.
- If he supports us not, even let him fall
- The victim of his folly: Sulla knew
- And would have cut him off, but Sulla dared not:
- I know he is my secret enemy,
- As such I shall beware of him.
catiline, cethegus, lentulus-sura.
- What says
- The mighty Cæsar? is he friend or foe?
- His barren friendship only offers me
- A feeble aid; but we can do without him:
- Perhaps he may repent it; and meantime
- We’ve better pillars to support the fabric.
- Behold, the heroes come.
catiline, the conspirators.
- Hail, bold Statilius,
- Valiant Autronius, noble Piso, hail,
- Vargontes, and the rest of my brave friends,
- The first of men, the conquerors of kings,
- The great avengers of a world oppressed,
- This seat of empire soon shall be your own:
- The vanquished nations, which your valor gained,
- Were ravished from you by usurping tyrants;
- For the proud senate still your blood hath flowed;
- For them Tigranes, Mithridates fell;
- For them alone; and all your poor reward
- Was but to stand at distance, and adore
- Your haughty masters; but at length the hour
- Of vengeance is approaching: be prepared
- For no inglorious enterprise: I know
- Your souls would scorn a victory cheaply bought;
- But I will bring you noble conquests, full
- Of danger and of glory: seize, my friends,
- The golden opportunity: already
- I see your foes expiring at your feet.
- Rush on your prey, burn, plunder, and destroy;
- But, above all, let union guide your counsels:
- Even now Præneste falls: the brave remains
- Of Sulla’s scattered forces march towards us:
- I shall command them, and Rome must be yours
- Petreius vanquished, I shall clear my way
- Even to the capitol: then you, my friends,
- Shall rise to empire, to a throne disgraced
- By worthless Romans, and by you restored
- To its true lustre: Curius and his band
- Will open me the gates; but tell me, friend,
- The gladiatorian cohorts, where are they?
- Will those brave veterans join our cause?
- They will:
- Myself shall lead them in the dead of night,
- And arm them in this secret place.
- Mount Cælius—
- Is that secured?
- I’ve bribed the sentinels,
- And all is safe.
- You to mount Aventine
- Repair, and soon as Mallius shall display
- His colors, light your torches, spread destruction
- On every side; let the proscribed perish.
- Let Cicero—ye have sworn it—be my first
- My darling victim: Cæsar too must die,
- And Cato; these removed, the senate soon
- Will tremble and obey: already fortune
- Declares for us, and blinds them to their ruin:
- Within their walls, and almost in their sight
- We lay the snares of death, and mark them out
- For sacrifice: remember not to take up arms
- Before the appointed time: we must surprise
- Ere we destroy: let Cicero and Rome
- Perish together, and the lightning blast
- Before the thunder’s threatening voice alarms them.
- Call not this deed a foul conspiracy;
- ’Tis a just war declared against the foes
- Of Rome and all mankind; reclaim your rights,
- The empire of the world, which base usurpers
- Had ravished from you.
- [To Cethegus and Lentulus-Sura.
- Haste, ye gallant leaders,
- Haste to the senate; see your victims there:
- Hear your proud consul roar; ’tis the last time
- That he shall triumph there—now, worthy Romans,
- Swear by this sword, that with the blood of tyrants
- Shall soon be stained, to perish, or to conquer,
- With Catiline.
- By thee and by this sword
- We swear with thee to perish or to conquer.
- Perish the senate! perish all who serve,
- All who defend them! if there be amongst us
- A traitor, let him die.
- Away, this night
- Will finish all, and Rome shall be our own.
End of the Second Act.