In Roman times, Cicero was known (and is still known) as one of the best orators of his time. He was incredible at writing and presenting oral speeches. He knew how to manipulate the audience to achieve his goals.
During Cicero’s great career he was up against a man named Catiline. They both wanted control over the Roman Senate, but Cicero ultimately won. Catiline was jealous and plotted to murder Cicero. He had an army waiting outside of the city. Cicero heard about Catiline’s plan of revenge and appealed to the Senate. Catiline was present during this amazing speech, and didn’t have a chance to defend himself against all the accusations Cicero was making against him.
So, if I was Catiline what would I do/say to undermine Cicero’s attacks on my character?
Well, first of all, to discredit some of Cicero’s accusations I would challenge him to give proof of what he was saying. This would give me a chance to come up with a valid argument against his claims.
Also, during his speech Cicero addressed Catiline personally a number of times. Goading him to anger and using his silence against him. If I was Catiline I would stand up for myself and not keep silent, because it was part of Cicero’s strategy to make use of Catiline’s silence and use it for his own gain.
It might also be a good idea to point out to the Senate that Cicero is using his words to convince them of Cataline’s guilt without an actual trial. Cicero was so good at what he did, that he could persuade a whole Senate to think his way. That kind of person can be dangerous.
If Cataline was a good enough speaker, he could have also address the Senate and city as well. That would give him the chance to defend himself and maybe turn the city against Cicero.
And maybe as a last resort, I would just quietly leave the city and find a new home somewhere else. (which is what he did.) It would be hard to stay in a place where people hated you and treated you like a criminal.
I feel sorry for Catiline though, because just by reading Cicero’s speech I know how well Cicero was at his gift. He even was able to persuade me to his point of view as I was reading his paper! Cataline did not stand a chance up against this powerful man.