Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? (‘Just how much longer, really, Catiline, will you abuse our patience?’). The famous incipit—‘And what are you reading, Master Buddenbrook? Ah, Cicero! A difficult text, the work of a great Roman orator. Quousque tandem, Catilina. Huh-uh-hmm, yes, I've not entirely forgotten my Latin, either’— already impressed contemporaries, including some ordinarily not so readily impressed. It rings through Sallust's version of Catiline's shadowy address to his followers, when he asks regarding the injustices they suffer (Cat. 20.9): quae quousque tandem patiemini, o fortissumi uiri? (‘Just how much longer, really, will you put up with these, o bravest men?’). More playfully, and less well-known, Sallust employed the expression again in a speech by Philippus (Hist. 1.77.17 M./67 R.): uos autem, patres conscripti, quo usque cunctando rem publicam intutam patiemini et uerbis arma temptabitis? (‘But you, members of the Senate, just how much longer will you suffer our Republic to be unsafe by your hesitation and make an attempt on arms with words?’). Soon afterwards it served Cicero's son, who, as governor of Asia, put down Hybreas fils for having dared to quote from his father's work in his presence (Sen. Suas. 7.14): ‘age’, inquit [sc. Marcus Tullius], ‘non putas me didicisse patris mei: “quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra”?’ (‘“Come now”, he said, “do you think that I do not know by heart my father's ‘Just how much longer, really, Catiline, will you abuse our patience’?”’). Just about the same time, Livy recalled it in order to colour Manlius’ exhortation of his followers (6.18.5): quousque tandem ignorabitis uires uestras, quas natura ne beluas quidem ignorare uoluit? … audendum est aliquid uniuersis aut omnia singulis patienda. quousque me circumspectabitis? (‘Just how much longer, really, will you remain ignorant of your own strength, which nature has willed even brutes to know? … We must dare all together, or else, separately, suffer all. Just how much longer will you keep looking round for me?’). Thereafter Quintilian would refer to it twice, when discussing apostrophe and rhetorical questions (Inst. 4.1.68, 9.2.7), just a couple of years before Tacitus has the maladroit Q. Haterius encourage Tiberius to seize the reins—quo usque patieris, Caesar, non adesse caput rei publicae? (‘Just how much longer, Caesar, will you suffer the absence of the head of state?’, Ann. 1.13.4); a few decades later still, Apuleius puts it into the mouth of the slave who chastises his master, now in asinine form (Met. 3.27): ‘quo usque tandem’, inquit, ‘cantherium patiemur istum paulo ante cibariis iumentorum, nunc etiam simulacris deorum infestum?’ (‘“Just how much longer, really,” he said, “will we suffer this old gelding to attack the animals’ food just a little while ago and now even the gods’ statues?”’). He trusted, no doubt, that the famous question would alert his readers more than anything to the many ‘similarities between Catiline and Lucius’, in order to have them appreciate this ‘ludicrous copy of Cicero's arch-enemy’. Some time after, and in a different corner of the Empire altogether, a teacher's bronze statue would carry the inscription:
VERBACICRO | NISQVOVSQ | TANDEMABVTE | RECATELINAPA | TIENTIANOS | TRA.