The War With Catiline
|The War with Catiline (1931)
by , translated by John C. Rolfe
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It behooves all men who wish to excel the other animals to strive with might and main not to pass through life unheralded, like the beasts, which Nature has fashioned groveling and slaves to the belly. All our power, on the contrary, lies in both mind and body; we employ the mind to rule, the body rather to serve; the one we have in common with the Gods, the other with the brutes. Therefore I find it becoming, in seeking renown, that we should employ the resources of the intellect rather than those of brute strength, to the end that, since the span of life which we enjoy is short, we may make the memory of our lives as long as possible. For the renown which riches or beauty confer is fleeting and frail; mental excellence is a splendid and lasting possession.
Yet for a long time mortal men has discussed the question whether success in arms depends more on strength of body or excellence of mind; for before you begin, deliberation is necessary, when you have deliberated, prompt action. Thus each of these, being incomplete of itself, requires the other’s aid.
Accordingly in the beginning kings (for that was the first title of sovereignty among men), took different courses, some training their minds and others their bodies. Even at that time men’s lives were still free from covetousness; each was quite content with his own possessions. But when Cyrus in Asia and in Greece the Athenians and Lacedaemonians began to subdue cities and nations, to make the lust for dominion a pretext for war, to consider the greatest empire the greatest glory, then at last men learned from perilous enterprises that qualities of mind availed most in war.
Now if the mental excellence with which kings and rulers are endowed were as potent in peace as in war, human affairs would run an evener and steadier course, and you would not see power passing from hand to hand and everything in turmoil and confusion; for empire is easily retained by the qualities by which it was first won. But when sloth has usurped the place of industry, and lawlessness and insolence have superseded self-restraint and justice, the fortune of princes changes with their character. Thus the sway is always passing to the best man from the hands of his inferior.
Success in agriculture, navigation, and architecture depends invariably upon mental excellence. Yet many men, being slaves to appetite and sleep, have passed through life untaught and untrained, like mere wayfarers in these men we see, contrary to Nature’s intent, the body a source of pleasure, the soul a burden. For my own part, I consider the lives and deaths of such men as about alike, since no record is made of either. In very truth that man alone lives and makes the most of life, as it seems to me, who devotes himself to some occupation, courting the fame of a glorious deed or a noble career. But amid the wealth of opportunities Nature points out one path to one and another to another.
It is glorious to serve one’s country by deeds; even to serve her by words is a thing not to despised; one may become famous in peace as well as in war. Not only those who have acted, but those also who have recorded the acts of others oftentimes receive our approbation. And for myself, although I am well aware that by no means equal repute attends the narrator and the doer of deeds, yet I regard the writing of history as one of the most difficult of tasks: first, because the style and diction must be equal to the deeds recorded; and in the second place, because such criticism as you make of others’ shortcomings are thought by most men to be due to malice and envy. Furthermore, when you commemorate the distinguished merit and fame of good men, while every one is quite ready to believe you when you tell of things which he thinks he could easily do himself, everything beyond that he regards as fictitious, if not false.
When I myself was a young man, my inclinations at first led me, like many another, into public life, and there I encountered many obstacles; for instead of modesty, incorruptibility and honesty, shamelessness, bribery and rapacity held sway. And although my soul, a stranger to evil ways, recoiled from such faults, yet amid so many vices my youthful weakness was led astray and help captive my ambition; for while I took of no part in the evil practices of the others, yet the desire for preferment made me the victim of the same ill-repute and jealousy as they.
Accordingly, when my mind found peace after many troubles and perils and I had determined that I must pass what was left of my life aloof from public affairs, it was not my intention to waste my precious leisure in indolence and sloth, nor yet by turning to farming or the chase, to lead a life devoted to slavish employments. On the contrary, I resolved to return to a cherished purpose from which ill-starred ambition had diverted me, and write a history of the Roman people, selecting such portions as seemed to me worthy of record; and I was confirmed in this resolution by the fact that my mind was free from hope, and fear, and partisanship. I shall therefore write briefly and as truthfully as possible of the conspiracy of Catiline; for I regard that event as worthy of special notice because of the extraordinary nature of the crime and of the danger arising from it. But before beginning my narrative I must say a few words about the man’s character.
Lucius Catiline, scion of a noble family, had great vigour both of mind and body, but an evil and depraved nature. From youth up he revelled in civil wars, murder, pillage, and political dissension, and amid these he spent his early manhood. His body could endure hunger, cold and want of sleep to an incredible degree; his mind was reckless, cunning, treacherous, capable of any form of pretence or concealment. Covetous of others’ possessions, he was prodigal of his own; he was violent in his passions. He possessed a certain amount of eloquence, but little discretion. His disordered mind ever craved the monstrous, incredible, gigantic.
After the domination of Lucius Sulla the man had been seized with a mighty desire of getting control of the government, recking little by what manner he should achieve it, provided he made himself supreme. His haughty spirit was goaded more and more every day by poverty and a sense of guilt, both which he had augmented by the practices of which I have already spoken. He was spurred on, also, by the corruption of the public morals, which were being ruined by two great evils of an opposite character, extravagance and avarice.
Since the occasion has arisen to speak of the morals of our country, the nature of my theme seems to suggest that I go farther back and give a brief account of the institutions of our forefathers in peace and in war, how they governed the commonwealth, how great it was when they bequeathed it to us, and how by gradual changes it has ceased to be the noblest and best, and has become the worst and most vicious.
The city of Rome, according to my understanding, was at the outset founded and inhabited by Trojans, who were wandering about in exile under the leadership of Aeneas and had no fixed abode; they were joined by the Aborigines, a rustic folk, without laws or government, free and unrestrained. After these two peoples, different in race, unlike in speech and mode of life, were united within the same walls, they were merged into one with incredible facility, so quickly did harmony change a heterogeneous and roving band into a commonwealth. But when this new community had grown in numbers, civilization, and territory, and was beginning to seem amply rich and amply strong, then, as is usual with mortal affairs, prosperity gave birth to envy. As a result, neighbouring kings and peoples made war upon them, and but few of their friends lent them aid; for the rest were smitten with fear and stood aloof from the danger. But the Romans, putting forth their whole energy at home and in the field, made all haste, got ready, encouraged one another, went to meet the foe, and defended their liberty, their country, and their parents by arms. Afterwards, when their prowess had averted the danger, they lent aid to their allies and friends, and established friendly relations rather by conferring than by accepting favours.
They had a constitution founded upon law, which was in name a monarchy; a chosen few, whose bodies were enfeebled by age but whose minds were fortified with wisdom, took counsel for the welfare of the state. These were called Fathers, by reason either of their age or of the similarity of their duties. Later, when the rule of the kings, which at first had tended to preserve freedom and advance the state, had degenerated into a lawless tyranny, they altered their form of government and appointed two rulers with annual power, thinking that this device would prevent men’s minds from growing arrogant through unlimited authority.
Now at that time every man began to lift his head higher and to have his talents more in readiness. For kings hold the good in greater suspicion than the wicked, and to them the merit of other is always fraught with danger; still the free state, once liberty was won, waxed incredibly strong and great in a remarkably short time, such was the thirst for glory that had filled men’s minds. To begin with, as soon as the young men could endure the hardships of war, they were taught a soldier’s duties in camp under a vigorous discipline, and they took more pleasure in handsome arms and war horses than in harlots and revelry. To such men consequently no labour was unfamiliar, no region too rough or too steep, no armed foeman was terrible; valour was all in all. Nay, their hardest struggle for glory was with one another; each man strove to be the first to strike down the foe, to scale a wall, to be seen of all while doing such a deed. This they considered riches, this fair fame and high nobility. It was praise they coveted, but they were lavish of money; their aim was unbounded renown, but only such riches as could be gained honorably. I might name the battlefields on which the Romans with a mere handful of men routed great armies of their adversaries, and the cities fortified by nature which they took by assault, were it not that such a theme could carry me too far from my subject.
But beyond question Fortune holds sway everywhere. It is she that makes all events famous or obscure according to her caprice rather than in accordance with the truth. The acts of the Athenians, in my judgment, were indeed great and glorious enough, but nevertheless somewhat less important than fame represents them. But because Athens produced writers of exceptional talent, the exploits of the men of Athens are heralded throughout the world as unsurpassed. Thus the merit of those who did the deeds is rated as high as brilliant minds have been able to exalt the deeds themselves by words of praise. But the Roman people never had that advantage, since their ablest men were always most engaged with affairs; their minds were never employed apart from their bodies; the best citizen preferred action to words, and thought that his own brave deeds should be lauded by others rather than that theirs should be recounted by him.
Accordingly, good morals were cultivated at home and in the field; there was the greatest harmony and little or no avarice; justice and probity prevailed among them, thanks not so much to laws as to nature. Quarrels, discord, and strife were reserved for their enemies; citizen vied with citizen only for the prize of merit. They were lavish in their offerings to the gods, frugal in the home, loyal to their friends. By practising these two qualities, boldness in warfare and justice when peace came, they watched over themselves and their country. In proof of these statements I present this convincing evidence: firstly, in time of war punishment was more often inflicted for attacking the enemy contrary to orders, or for withdrawing too tardily when recalled from the field, than for venturing to abandon the standards or to give ground under stress; and secondly, in time of peace they ruled by kindness rather than fear, and when wronged preferred forgiveness to vengeance.
But when our country had grown great through toil and the practice of justice, when great kings had been vanquished in war, savage tribes and mighty peoples subdued by force of arms, when Carthage, the rival of Rome’s sway, had perished root and branch, and all seas and lands were open, then Fortune began to grow cruel and to bring confusion into all our affairs. Those who had found it easy to bear hardship and dangers, anxiety and adversity, found leisure and wealth, desirable under other circumstances, a burden and a curse. Hence the lust for money first, then for power, grew upon them; these were, I may say, the root of all evils. For avarice destroyed honour, integrity, and all the other noble qualities; taught in their place insolence, cruelty, to neglect the gods, to set a price on everything. Ambition drove many men to become false; to have one thought locked in the breast, another ready on the tongue; to value friendships and enmities not on their merits but by the standard of self-interest, and to show a good front rather than a good heart. At first these vices grew slowly, from time to time they were punished; finally, when the disease had spread like a deadly plague, the state was changed and a government second to none in equity and excellence became cruel and intolerable.
But at first men’s souls were actuated less by avarice than by ambitions—a fault, it is true, but not so far removed from virtue; for the noble and the base alike long for glory, honour, and power, but the former mount by the true path, whereas the latter, being destitute of noble qualities, rely upon craft and deception. Avarice implies a desire for money, which no wise man covets; steeped as it were with noxious poisons, it renders the most manly body and soul effeminate; it is ever unbounded and insatiable, nor can either plenty or want make it less. But after Lucius Sulla, having gained control of the state by arms, brought everything to a bad end from a good beginning, all men began to rob and pillage. One coveted a house, another lands; the victors showed neither moderation nor restraint, but shamefully and cruelly wronged their fellow citizens. Besides all this, Lucius Sulla, in order to secure the loyalty of the army which he led into Asia, had allowed it a luxury and license foreign to the manners of our forefathers; and in the intervals of leisure those charming and voluptuous lands had easily demoralized the warlike spirit of his soldiers. There it was that an army of the Roman people first learned to indulge in women and drink; to admire statues, paintings, and chased vases, to steal them from private houses and public places, to pillage shrines, and to desecrate everything, both sacred and profane. These soldiers, therefore, after they had won the victory, left nothing to the vanquished. In truth, prosperity tries the souls of even the wise; how then should men of depraved character like these make a moderate use of victory?
As soon as riches came to be held in honour, when glory, dominion, and power10 followed in their train, virtue began to lose its lustre, poverty to be considered a disgrace, blamelessness to be termed malevolence. Therefore as the result of riches, luxury and greed, united with insolence, took possession of our young manhood. They pillaged, squandered; set little value on their own, coveted the goods of others; they disregarded modesty, chastity, everything human and divine; in short, they were utterly thoughtless and reckless.
It is worth your while, when you look upon houses and villas reared to the size of cities, to pay a visit to the temples of the gods built by our forefathers, most reverent of men. But they adorned the shrines of the gods with piety, their own homes with glory, while from the vanquished they took naught save the power of doing harm. The men of to-day, on the contrary, basest of creatures, with supreme wickedness are robbing our allies of all that those heroes in the hour of victory had left them; they act as though the one and only way to rule were to wrong.
Why, pray, should I speak of things which are incredible except to those who have seen them, that a host of private men have levelled mountains and built upon the seas? To such men their riches seem to me to have been but a plaything; for while they might have enjoyed them honourably, they made haste to squander them shamefully. Nay more, the passion which arose for lewdness, gluttony, and the other attendants of luxury was equally strong; men played the woman, women offered their chastity for sale; to gratify their palates they scoured land and sea; they slept before they needed sleep; they did not await the coming of hunger or thirst, of cold or of weariness, but all these things their self-indulgence anticipated. Such were the vices that incited the young men to crime, as soon as they had run through their property. Their minds, habituated to evil practices, could not easily refrain from self-indulgence, and so they abandoned themselves the more recklessly to every means of gain as well as of extravagance.
In a city so great and so corrupt Catiline found it a very easy matter to surround himself, as by a bodyguard, with troops of criminals and reprobates of every kind. For whatever wanton, glutton, or gamester had wasted his patrimony in play, feasting, or debauchery; anyone who had contracted an immense debt that he might buy immunity from disgrace or crime; all, furthermore, from every side who had been convicted of murder or sacrilege, or feared prosecution for their crimes; those, too, whom hand and tongue supported by perjury or the blood of their fellow citizens; finally, all who were hounded by disgrace, poverty, or an evil conscience—all these were nearest and dearest to Catiline. And if any guiltless man did chance to become his friend, daily intercourse and the allurements of vice soon made him as bad or almost as bad as the rest. But most of all Catiline sought the intimacy of the young; their minds, still pliable as they were and easily moulded, were without difficulty ensnared by his wiles. For carefully noting the passion which burned in each, according to his time of life, he found harlots for some or bought dogs and horses for others; in fine, he spared neither expense nor his own decency, provided he could make them submissive and loyal to himself. I am aware that some have believed that the young men who frequented Catiline’s house set but little store by their chastity; but that report became current for other reasons than because anyone had evidence of its truth.
Even in youth Catiline had many shameful intrigues—with a maiden of noble rank, with a priestess of Vesta—and other affairs equally unlawful and impious. At last he was seized with a passion for Aurelia Orestilla, in whom no good man ever commended anything save her beauty; and when she hesitated to marry him because she was afraid of his stepson, then a grown man, it is generally believed that he murdered the young man in order to make an empty house for this criminal marriage. In fact, I think that this was his special motive for hastening his plot; for his guilt-stained soul, at odds with gods and men, could find rest neither waking nor sleeping, so cruelly did conscience ravage his overwrought mind. Hence his pallid complexion, his bloodshot eyes, his gait now fast, now slow; in short his face and his every glance showed the madman.
To the young men whom he had ensnared, as I have described, he taught many forms of wickedness. From their number he supplied false witnesses and forgers; he bade them make light of honour, fortune, and dangers; then, when he had sapped their good repute and modesty, he called for still greater crimes. If there was no immediate motive for wrongdoing, he nevertheless waylaid and murdered innocent as well as guilty; indeed, he preferred to be needlessly vicious and cruel rather than to allow their hands and spirits to grow weak through lack of practice.
Relying upon such friends and accomplices as these, Catiline formed the plan of overthrowing the government, both because his own debt was enormous in all parts of the world and because the greater number of Sulla’s veterans, who had squandered their property and now thought with longing of their former pillage and victories, were eager for civil war. There was no army in Italy; Gnaeus Pompeius was waging war in distant parts of the world; Catiline himself had high hopes as a candidate for the consulship; the senate was anything but alert; all was peaceful and quiet; this was his golden opportunity.
Accordingly, towards the first of June in the consulate of Lucius Caesar and Gaius Figulus, he addressed his followers at first one by one, encouraging some and sounding others. He pointed out his own resources, the unprepared condition of the state, the great prizes of conspiracy. When he had such information as he desired, he assembled all those who were most desperate and most reckless. There were present from the senatorial order Publius Lentulus Sura, Publius Autronius, Lucius Cassius Longinus, Gaius Cethegus, Publius and Servius Sulla, sons of Servius, Lucius Vargunteius, Quintus Annius, Marcus Porcius Laeca, Lucius Bestia, Quintus Curius; also of the equestrian order, Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, Lucius Statilius, Publius Gabinius Capito, Gaius Cornelius; besides these there were many men from the colonies and free towns who were of noble rank at home. There were, moreover, several nobles who had a somewhat more secret connection with the plot, men who were prompted rather by the hope of power than by want or any other exigency. The greater part of the young men also, in particular those of high position, were favourable to Catiline’s project; for although in quiet times they had the means of living elegantly or luxuriously, they preferred uncertainty to certainty, war to peace. There were also at that time some who believed that Marcus Licinius Crassus was not wholly ignorant of the plot; that because his enemy Gaius Pompeius was in command of a large army, he was willing to see anyone’s influence grow in opposition to the power of his rival, fully believing meanwhile that if the conspirators should be successful, he would easily be the leading man among them.
Now, even before that time a few men had conspired against the government, and among them was Catiline; of that affair I shall give as true an account as I am able.
In the consulship of Lucius Tullus and Manius Lepidus, the consuls elect, Publius Autronius and Publius Sulla, were arraigned under the law against bribery and paid the penalties. A little later Catiline was charged with extortion and prevented from standing for the consulship, because he had been unable to announce his candidacy within the prescribed number of days. There was at that same time a young noble called Gnaeus Piso, a man of the utmost recklessness, poor, and given to intrigue, who was being goaded on by need of funds and an evil character to overthrow the government. He revealed his plans to Catiline and Autronius; they in concert with him began, about the fifth of December, to make preparations to murder the consuls Lucius Cotta and Lucius Torquatus in the Capitol on the first of January; they then proposed that they themselves should seize the fasces and dispatch Piso with an army to take possession of the two Spanish provinces. Upon the discovery of their plot they postponed their murderous design until the fifth of February. At that time they plotted the destruction not merely of the consuls but of many of the senators, and had Catiline not been over-hasty in giving the signal to his accomplices in the front of the senate-house, on that day the most dreadful crime since the founding of the city of Rome would have been perpetrated. But because the armed conspirators had not yet assembled in sufficient numbers, the affair came to naught.
Piso was afterwards, through the efforts of Crassus, who knew him to be a deadly enemy of Gnaeus Pompeius, sent to Hither Spain with praetorian powers, although he was only a quaestor. The senate, however, had been quite willing to give him the province, wishing to remove the shameless fellow to a distance from the seat of government; moreover, many of the aristocracy thought they had in him a safeguard against Pompey, whose power was even then becoming formidable. Now this Piso was slain, while marching through his province, by the Spanish cavalry under his command. Some say that the barbarians could not endure his rule, unjust, insolent, and cruel; others, that the horsemen, who were old and devoted retainers of Pompey, attacked Piso at his instigation. The latter point out that the Spaniards had never before committed such a crime, but had tolerated many cruel rulers in former days. We shall not attempt to decide this question, and enough has been said about the first conspiracy.
When Catiline saw before him the men whom I mentioned a short time ago, although he had often had long conferences with them individually, he thought that it would be well to address and encourage the entire body. Accordingly, withdrawing to a private room of the house and excluding all witnesses, he made the following speech:
“If I had not already tested your courage and loyalty, in vain would a great opportunity have presented itself; high hopes and power would have been placed in my hands to no purpose, nor would I with the aid of cowards or inconstant hearts grasp at uncertainty in place of certainty. But because I have learned in many and great emergencies that you are brave and faithful to me, my mind has had the courage to set on foot a mighty and glorious enterprise, and also because I perceive that you and I hold the same view of what is good and evil; for agreement in likes and dislikes—this, and this only, is what constitutes true friendship. As to the designs which I have formed, they have already been explained to you all individually. But my resolution is fired more and more every day, when I consider under what conditions we shall live if we do not take steps to emancipate ourselves. For ever since the state fell under the jurisdiction and sway of a few powerful men, it is always to them that kings and potentates are tributary and peoples and nations pay taxes. All the rest of us, energetic, able, nobles and commons, have made up the mob, without influence, without weight, and subservient to those to whom in a free state we should be an object of fear. Because of this, all influence, power, rank, and wealth are in their hands, or wherever they wish them to be; to us they have left danger, defeat, prosecutions, and poverty. How long, pray, will you endure this, brave hearts? Is it not better to die valiantly, than ignominiously to lose our wretched and dishonoured lives after being the sport of others’ insolence? Assuredly (I swear it by the faith of gods and men!) victory is within our grasp. We are in the prime of life, we are stout of heart; to them, on the contrary, years and riches have brought utter dotage. We need only to strike; the rest will take care of itself. Pray, what man with the spirit of a man can endure that our tyrants should abound in riches, to squander in building upon the sea and in levelling mountains, while we lack the means to buy the bare necessities of life? That they should join their palaces by twos or even more, while we have nowhere a hearthstone? They amass paintings, statuary and chased vases, tear down new structures and erect others, in short misuse and torment their wealth in every way; yet, with the utmost extravagance, they cannot get the upper hand of their riches. But we have destitution at home, debt without, present misery and a still more hopeless future; in short, what have we left, save only the wretched breath of life? Awake then! Lo, here, here before your eyes, is the freedom for which you have often longed, and with it riches, honour, and glory; Fortune offers all these things as prizes to the victors. The undertaking itself, the opportunity, the dangers, your need, the splendid spoils of war, speak louder than any words of mine. Use me either as your leader or as a soldier in the ranks; my soul and my body shall be at your service. These very schemes I hope to help you carry out as your consul, unless haply I delude myself and you are content to be slaves rather than to rule.”
When these words fell upon the ears of men who had misfortune of every kind in excess, but neither means nor any honourable hope, although disorder alone seemed to them an ample reward, yet many of them called upon him to explain the conditions under which war would be waged, what the prizes of victory would be, and what resources or prospects they would have and in what quarter. Thereupon Catiline promised abolition of debts, the proscription of the rich, offices, priesthoods, plunder, and all the other spoils that war and the license of victors can offer. He added that Piso was in Hither Spain, Publius Sittius of Nuceria in Mauretania with an army, both of whom were partners in his plot; that Gaius Antonius was a candidate for the consulship, and, he hoped, would be his colleague, a man who was an intimate friend of his and was beset by every sort of necessity; consul with him, he would launch his undertaking. Thereupon he heaped maledictions upon all good citizens, lauded each of his own followers by name; he reminded one of his poverty, another of his ambition, several of their danger or disgrace, many of the victory of Sulla, which they had found a source of booty. When he saw that their spirits were all aflame, he dismissed the meeting, urging them to have his candidacy at heart.
It was said at the time that when Catiline, after finishing his address, compelled the participants in his crime to take an oath, he passed around bowls of human blood mixed with wine; that when after an imprecation upon traitors all had tasted it, as is usual in solemn rites, he disclosed his project; and his end in so doing was, they say, that they might be the more faithful to one another because they shared the guilty knowledge of so dreadful a deed. Others thought that these and many other details were invented by men who believed that the hostility which afterwards arose against Cicero would be moderated by exaggerating the guilt of the conspirators whom he had put to death. For my own part I have too little evidence for pronouncing upon a matter of such weight.
Now one of the members of the conspiracy was Quintus Curius, a man of no mean birth but guilty of many shameful crimes, whom the censors had expelled from the senate because of his immorality. This man was as untrustworthy as he was reckless; he could neither keep secret what he had heard nor conceal even his own misdeeds; he was utterly regardless of what he did or said. He had an intrigue of long standing with Fulvia, a woman of quality, and when he began to lose her favour because poverty compelled him to be less lavish, he suddenly fell to boasting, began to promise her seas and mountains, and sometimes to threaten his mistress with the steel if she did not bow to his will; in brief, to show much greater assurance than before. But Fulvia, when she learned the cause of her lover’s overbearing conduct, had no thought to concealing such a peril to her country, but without mentioning the name of her informant she told a number of people what she had heard of Catiline’s conspiracy from various sources.
It was this discovery in particular which aroused a general desire to confer the consulate upon Marcus Tullius Cicero; for before that most of the nobles were consumed with jealousy and thought the office in a way prostituted if a “new man,” however excellent, should obtain it. But when danger came, jealousy and pride fell into the background.
Accordingly, when the elections had been held Marcus Tullius and Gaius Antonius were proclaimed consuls, and this at first filled the conspirators with consternation. And yet Catiline’s frenzy did not abate. On the contrary, he increased his activity every day, made collections of arms at strategic points in Italy, and borrowed money on his own credit or that of his friends, sending it to Faesulae to a certain Manlius, who afterwards was the first to take the field. At that time Catiline is said to have gained the support of many men of all conditions and even of some women; the latter at first had met their enormous expenses by prostitution, but later, when their time of life had set a limit to their traffic but not to their extravagance, had contracted a huge debt. Through their help Catiline believed that he could tempt the city slaves to his side and set fire to Rome; and then either attach the women’s husbands to his cause or make away with them.
Now among these women was Sempronia, who had often committed many crimes of masculine daring. In birth and beauty, in her husband also and children, she was abundantly favoured by fortune; well read in the literature of Greece and Rome, able to play the lyre and dance more skilfully than an honest woman need, and having many other accomplishments which minister to voluptuousness. But there was nothing which she held so cheap as modesty and chastity; you could not easily say whether she was less sparing of her money or her honor; her desires were so ardent that she sought men more often than she was sought by them. Even before the time of the conspiracy she had often broken her word, repudiated her debts, been privy to murder; poverty and extravagance combined had driven her headlong. Nevertheless, she was a woman of no mean endowments; she could write verses, bandy jests, and use language which was modest, or tender, or wanton; in fine, she possessed a high degree of wit and of charm.
After making these preparations Catiline nevertheless became a candidate for the consulship of the following year, hoping that if he should be elected he could easily do whatever he wished with Antonius. In the meantime he was not idle, but kept laying plots of all kinds against Cicero, who, however, did not lack the craft and address to escape them. For immediately after the beginning of his consulate, by dint of many promises made through Fulvia, Cicero had induced Quintus Curius, the man whom I mentioned a little while ago, to reveal Catiline’s designs to him. Furthermore, he had persuaded his colleague Antonius, by agreeing to make over his province to him, not to entertain schemes hostile to the public weal, and he also had surrounded himself secretly with a bodyguard of friends and dependents.
When the day of the elections came and neither Catiline’s suit nor the plots which he had made against the consuls in the Campus Martius were successful, he resolved to take the field and dare the uttermost, since his covert attempts had resulted in disappointment and disgrace.
He therefore dispatched Gaius Manlius to Faesulae and the adjacent part of Etruria, a certain Septimius of Camerinum to the Picene district, and Gaius Julius to Apulia; others too to other places, wherever he thought that each would be serviceable to his project. Meanwhile he himself was busy at Rome with many attempts at once, laying traps for the consul, planning fires, posting armed men in commanding places. He went armed himself, bade others to do the same, conjured them to be always alert and ready, kept on the move night and day, took no rest yet succumbed neither to wakefulness nor fatigue. Finally, when his manifold attempts met with no success, again the dead of night he summoned the ringleaders of the conspiracy to the house of Marcus Porcius Laeca. There, after reproaching them bitterly for their inaction, he stated that he had sent Manlius on ahead to the force which he had prepared for war, and also other men to other important points to commence hostilities, explaining that he himself was eager to go to the front if he could first make away with Cicero, who was a serious obstacle to his plans.
Upon this the rest were terrified and hesitated; but Gaius Cornelius, a Roman knight, offered his services and was joined by Lucius Vargunteius, a senator. These two men determined that very night, a little later, to get access to Cicero, accompanied by a band of armed men, as if for a ceremonial call and taking him by surprise to murder the defenceless consul in his own house. When Curius learned of the great danger which threatened the consul, he hastened to report to Cicero through Fulvia the trap which was being set for him. Hence the would-be assassins were refused admission and proved to have undertaken this awful crime to no purpose.
Meanwhile Manlius in Etruria was working upon the populace, who were already ripe for revolution because of penury and resentment at their wrongs; for during Sulla’s supremacy they had lost their lands and all their property. He also approached brigands of various nationalities, who were numerous in that part of the country, and some members of Sulla’s colonies who had been stripped by prodigal and luxurious living of the last of their great booty.
When these events were reported to Cicero, he was greatly disturbed by the twofold peril, since he could no longer by his unaided efforts protect the city against these plots, nor gain any exact information as to the size and purpose of Manlius’s army; he therefore formally called the attention of the senate to the matter, which had already been the subject of popular gossip. Thereupon, as is often done in a dangerous emergency, the senate voted “that the consuls would take heed that the commonwealth suffer no harm.” The power which according to Roman usage is thus conferred upon a magistrate by the senate is supreme, allowing him to raise an army, wage war, exert any kind of compulsion upon allies and citizens, and exercise unlimited command and jurisdiction at home and in the field; otherwise the consul has none of these privileges except by the order of the people.
A few days later, in a meeting of the senate, Lucius Saenius, one of its members, read a letter which he said had been brought to him from Faesulae, stating that Gaius Manlius had taken the field with a large force on the twenty-seventh of October. At the same time, as is usual in such a crisis, omens and portents were reported by some, while others told of the holding of meetings, of the transportation of arms, and of insurrections of the slaves at Capua and in Apulia.
Thereupon by decree of the senate Quintus Marcius Rex was sent to Faesulae and Quintus Metellus Creticus to Apulia and its neighbourhood. Both these generals were at the gates in command of their armies, being prevented from celebrating a triumph by the intrigues of a few men, whose habit it was to make everything, honourable and dishonourable, a matter of barter. Of the praetors, Quintus Pompeius Rufus was sent to Capua and Quintus Metellus Celer to the district of Pisa, with permission to raise an army suited to the emergency and the danger. The senate also voted that if anyone should give information as to the plot which had been made against the state, he should, if a slave, be rewarded with his freedom and a hundred thousand sesterces, and if a free man, with immunity for complicity therein, and two hundred thousand sesterces; further, that the troops of gladiators should be quartered on Capua and the other free towns according to the resources of each place; that at Rome watch should be kept by night in all parts of the city under the direction of the minor magistrates.
These precautions struck the community with terror, and the aspect of the city was changed. In place of extreme gaiety and frivolity, the fruit of long-continued peace, there was sudden and general gloom. Men were uneasy and apprehensive, put little confidence in any place of security or in any human being, were neither at war nor at peace, and measured the peril each by his own fears. The women, too, whom the greatness of our country had hitherto shielded from the terrors of war, were in a pitiful state of anxiety, raised suppliant hands to heaven, bewailed the fate of their little children, asked continual questions, trembled at everything, and throwing aside haughtiness and self-indulgence, despaired of themselves and of their country.
But Catiline’s pitiless spirit persisted in the same attempts, although defences were preparing, and he himself had been arraigned by Lucius Paulus under the Plautian law. Finally, in order to conceal his designs or to clear himself, as though he had merely been the object of some private slander, he came into the senate. Then the consul Marcus Tullius, either fearing his presence or carried away by indignation, delivered a brilliant speech of great service to the state, which he later wrote out and published. When he took his seat, Catiline, prepared as he was to deny everything, with downcast eyes and pleading accents began to beg the Fathers of the Senate not to believe any unfounded charge against him; he was sprung from such a family, he said, and had so ordered his life from youth up, that he had none save the best of prospects. They must not suppose that he, a patrician, who like his forefathers had rendered great service to the Roman people, would be benefited by the overthrow of the government, while its savior was Marcus Tullius, a resident alien in the city of Rome. When we would have added other insults, he was shouted down by the whole body, who called him traitor and assassin. Then in a transport of fury he cried: “Since I am brought to bay by my enemies and driven desperate, I will put out my fire by general devastation.”
With this he rushed from the senate-house and went home. There after thinking long upon the situation, since his designs upon the consul made no headway and he perceived that the city was protected against fires by watchmen, believing it best to increase the size of his army and secure many of the necessities of war before the legions were enrolled, he left for the camp of Manlius with a few followers in the dead of night. However, he instructed Cethegus, Lentulus, and the others whose reckless daring he knew to be ready for anything, to add to the strength of their cabal by whatever means they could, to bring the plots against the consul to a head, to make ready murder, arson, and the other horrors of war; as for himself, he would shortly be at the gates with a large army.
While this was going on at Rome, Gaius Manlius sent a delegation from his army to Marcius Rex with this message:
“We call gods and men to witness, general, that we have taken up arms, not against our fatherland nor to bring danger upon others, but to protect our own persons from outrage; for we are wretched and destitute, many of us have been driven from our country by the violence and cruelty of the moneylenders, while all have lost repute and fortune. None of us has been allowed, in accordance with the usage of our forefathers, to enjoy the protection of the law and retain our personal liberty after being stripped of our patrimony, such was the inhumanity of the moneylenders and the praetor. Your forefathers often took pity on the Roman commons and relieved their necessities by senatorial decrees, and not long ago, within our own memory, because of the great amount of their debt, silver was paid in copper with the general consent of the nobles. Often the commons themselves, actuated by a desire to rule or incensed at the arrogance of the magistrates, have take up arms and seceded from the patricians. But we ask neither for power nor for riches, the usual causes of wars and strife among mortals, but only for freedom, which no true man gives up except with his life. We implore you and the senate to take thought for your unhappy countrymen, to restore the bulwark of the law, of which the praetor’s injustice has deprived us, and not to impose upon us the necessity of asking ourselves how we may sell our lives most dearly.”
To this address Quintus Marcius made answer, that if they wished to ask anything of the senate, they must lay down their arms and come to Rome as suppliants; that the senate of the Roman people had always been so compassionate and merciful that no one had ever asked it for succour and been refused.
But on the way Catiline sent letters to many of the consulars and to the most prominent of the other nobles, saying that since he was beset by false accusations and unable to cope with the intrigues of his personal enemies, he bowed to fate and was on his way to exile at Massilia; not that he confessed to the dreadful crime with which he was charged, but in order that his country might be at peace and that no dissension might arise from a struggle on his part. A very different letter was read in the senate by Quintus Catulus, who said that it had been sent him in Catiline’s name. The following is an exact copy of this letter:
“Lucius Catilina to Quintus Catulus. Your eminent loyalty, known by experience and grateful to me in my extreme peril, lends confidence to my plea. I have therefore resolved to make no defence of my unusual conduct; that I offer an explanation is due to no feeling of guilt, and I am confident that you will be able to admit its justice. Maddened by wrongs and slights, since I had been robbed of the fruits of my toil and energy and was unable to attain to a position of honour, I followed my usual custom and took up the general cause of the unfortunate; not that I could not pay my personal debts from my own estate (and the liberality of Orestilla sufficed with her own and her daughter’s resources to pay off even the obligations incurred through others), but because I saw the unworthy elevated to honours, and realized that I was an outcast because of baseless suspicion. It is for this reason that, in order to preserve what prestige I have left, I have adopted measures which are honourable enough considering my situation. When I would write more, word comes that I am threatened with violence. Now I commend Orestilla to you and entrust her to your loyalty. Protect her from insult, I beseech you in the name of your own children. Farewell.”
Catiline himself, after spending a few days with Gaius Flaminius in the vicinity of Arretium, where he supplied arms to the populace, which had already been roused to revolt, hastened to join Manlius in his camp, taking with him the fasces and the other emblems of authority. As soon as this became known at Rome, the senate pronounced Catiline and Manlius traitors and named a day before which the rest of the conspirators might lay down their arms and escape punishment, excepting those under sentence for capital offences. It was further voted that the consuls should hold a levy and that Antonius with an army should at once pursue Catiline, while Cicero defended the capital.
At no other time has the condition of imperial Rome, as it seems to me, been more pitiable. The whole world, from the rising of the sun to its setting, subdued by her arms, rendered obedience to her; at home there was peace and an abundance of wealth, which mortal men deem the chiefest of blessings. Yet there were citizens who from sheer perversity were bent upon their own ruin and that of their country. For in spite of the two decrees of the senate not one man of all that great number was led by the promised reward to betray the conspiracy, and not a single one deserted Catiline’s camp; such was the potency of the malady which like a plague had infected the minds of many of our countrymen.
This insanity was not confined to those who were implicated in the plot, but the whole body of the commons through desire for change favoured the designs of Catiline. In this very particular they seemed to act as the populace usually does; for in every community those who have no means envy the good, exalt the base, hate what is old and established, long for something new, and from disgust with their own lot desire a general upheaval. Amid turmoil and rebellion they maintain themselves without difficulty, since poverty is easily provided for and can suffer no loss. But the city populace in particular acted with desperation for many reasons. To begin with, all who were especially conspicuous for their shamelessness and impudence, those too who had squandered their patrimony in riotous living, finally all whom disgrace or crime had forced to leave home, had all flowed into Rome as into a cesspool. Many, too, who recalled Sulla’s victory, when they saw common soldiers risen to the rank of senator, and others become so rich that they feasted and lived like kings, hoped each for himself for like fruits of victory, if he took the field. Besides this, the young men who had maintained a wretched existence by manual labour in the country, tempted by public and private doles had come to prefer idleness in the city to their hateful toil; these, like all the others, battened on the public ills. Therefore it is not surprising that men who were beggars and without character, with illimitable hopes, should respect their country as little as they did themselves. Moreover, those to whom Sulla’s victory had meant the proscription of their parents, loss of property, and curtailment of their rights, looked forward in a similar spirit to the issue of a war. Finally, all who belonged to another party than that of the senate preferred to see the government overthrown rather than be out of power themselves. Such, then, was the evil which after many years had returned upon the state.
For after the tribunician power had been restored in the consulship of Gnaeus Pompeius and Marcus Crassus, various young men, whose age and disposition made them aggressive, attained that high authority; they thereupon began to excite the commons by attacks upon the senate and then to inflame their passions still more by doles and promises, thus making themselves conspicuous and influential. Against these men the greater part of the nobles strove with might and main, ostensibly in behalf of the senate but really for their own aggrandizement. For, to tell the truth in a few words, all who after that time assailed the government used specious pretexts, some maintaining that they were defending the rights of the commons, others that they were upholding the prestige of the senate; but under pretence of the public welfare each in reality was working for his own advancement. Such men showed neither self-restraint nor moderation in their strife, and both parties used their victory ruthlessly.
When, however, Gnaeus Pompeius had been dispatched to wage war against the pirates and against Mithridates, the power of the commons was lessened, while that of the few increased. These possessed the magistracies, the provinces and everything else; being themselves rich and secure against attack, they lived without fear and by resort to the courts terrified the others, in order that while they themselves were in office they might manage the people with less friction. But as soon as the political situation became doubtful, and offered hope of a revolution, then the old controversy aroused their passions anew. If Catiline had been victor in the first battle, or had merely held his own, beyond a doubt great bloodshed and disaster would have fallen upon the state; nor would the victors have been allowed for long to enjoy their success, but when they had been worn out and exhausted, a more powerful adversary would have wrested from them the supreme power and with it their freedom. Yet even as it was, there were many outside the ranks of the conspiracy who, when hostilities began, went to join Catiline. Among them was Fulvius, a senator’s son, who was brought back and put to death by order of his father.
All this time at Rome Lentulus, following Catiline’s directions, was working, personally or through others, upon those whom he thought ripe for revolution by disposition or fortune—and not merely citizens, but all sorts and conditions of men, provided only that they could be of any service in war.
Accordingly, he instructed one Publius Umbrenus to seek out the envoys of the Allobroges, and, if possible, entice them to an offensive alliance, thinking that they could readily be persuaded to such a course, since they were burdened with public and private debt; and besides the Gallic people is by nature prone to war. Umbrenus had carried on business with the Gauls and was personally acquainted with many of the leading men of their states; therefore as soon as he caught sight of the envoys in the Forum, he at once asked them a few questions about the condition of their country, and pretending grief at its lot, began to inquire what remedy they hoped to find for such great troubles. On learning that they had complaints to make of the avarice of the magistrates, that they reproached the senate because it rendered no aid, and looked for death as the only remedy for their wretchedness, he said: “Why, I myself, if only you will show yourselves men, will disclose a plan which will enable you to escape the great evils from which you are suffering.”
When Umbrenus had said this, the Allobroges were filled with the greatest hope and begged him to take pity on them. They declared that nothing was so dangerous or difficult that they would not joyfully undertake it, provided it would relieve their country of debt. Thereupon he took them to the house of Decimus Brutus, which was not far from the Forum and not unsuitable for their plot because of the presence of Sempronia; Brutus, as it happened, was away from Rome at the time. He also sent for Gabinius, that what he was to say might have greater weight. When he arrived, Umbrenus disclosed the plot, named the participants, and, to give the envoys greater courage, included many guiltless men of all classes; then, after promising his assistance, he sent them home.
The Allobroges for a long time were in doubt what course to pursue. On the one hand was their debt, their love of war, and the hope of great booty in the event of victory; but on the other were the senate’s greater resources, a course free from danger, and sure rewards in place of uncertain hopes. All these considerations they weighed, but in the end the fortune of the republic turned the scale. They accordingly divulged the whole affair, just as it had come to their ears, to Quintus Fabius Sanga, their nation’s principal patron. Cicero, on being informed of the plan through Sanga, instructed the envoys to feign a strong interest in the conspiracy, approach the other members of it, make liberal promises, and use every effort to show the guilt of the conspirators as clearly as possible.
At about this time there were disturbances in both Hither and Further Gaul, as well as in the Picene and Bruttian districts and in Apulia; for those whom Catiline had sent on ahead were doing everything at once, acting imprudently and almost insanely. By their meetings at night, by their transportation of arms and weapons, and by their bustle and general activity they caused more apprehension than actual danger. The praetor Quintus Metellus Celer had brought several of their number to trial by virtue of a decree of the senate, and had thrown them into prison; and in Hither Gaul his example was followed by Gaius Murena, who was governing that province as a deputy.
At Rome Lentulus and the other leaders of the conspiracy, having got together a great force as it appeared to them, had arranged that when Catiline arrived in the region of Faesulae with his army, Lucius Bestia, tribune of the commons, should convoke an assembly and denounce the conduct of Cicero, throwing upon that best of consuls the odium of a dangerous war. That was to be the signal for the rest of the band of conspirators to carry out their several enterprises on the following night. Now it is said that the parts assigned to them were the following: Statilius and Gabinius, with many followers, were to kindle fires at twelve important points in the city all at the same time, in order that in the ensuing confusion access might more easily be had to the consul and the others against whom their plots were directed. Cethegus was to beset Cicero’s door and assault him, while to others were assigned other victims. The eldest sons of several families, the greater number of whom belonged to the nobility, were to slay their fathers. Then, when the whole city was stunned by the bloodshed and the fire, they were all to rush out and join Catiline.
During these preparations and arrangements Cethegus constantly complained of the inaction of his associates, insisting that by indecision and delay they were wasting great opportunities; that such a crisis called for action, not deliberation, and that if a few would aid him he would himself make an attack upon the senate-house, even though the rest were faint-hearted. Being naturally aggressive, violent, and prompt to act, he set the highest value upon dispatch.
The Allobroges, as Cicero had recommended, were presented to the other conspirators by Gabinius. They demanded of Lentulus, Cethegus, Statilius, and also of Cassius an oath, which was to be sealed and taken to their countrymen, saying that otherwise they could not readily be induced to embark upon so serious an enterprise. The others complied without suspicion; Cassius, however, promised to come to Gaul shortly, and then left the city just before the envoys. Lentulus sent with the Allobroges a certain Titus Volturcius of Crotona, so that on their way home they might confirm the alliance by exchanging pledges of fidelity with Catiline. He gave Volturcius a letter for Catiline, of which the following is a copy: “Who I am you will learn from my messenger. See to it that you bear in mind in what peril you are, and remember that you are a man. Consider what your plans demand; seek help from all, even from the lowest.” He also sent him a verbal message, inquiring what his idea was in refusing the aid of slaves, when he had been declared a rebel by the senate. The preparations which he had ordered in the city had been made; he should not himself hesitate to come nearer the walls.
When arrangements had been thus perfected and the night for the departed appointed, Cicero, who had been informed of everything through the envoys, ordered the praetors Lucius Valerius Flaccus and Gaius Pomptinus to lie in wait for the Allobroges and their company at the Mulvian Bridge and arrest them. He fully explained why they were sent, but left the general course of action to their discretion. The praetors, who were soldiers, quietly posted their guards, according to their orders, and secretly invested the bridge. As soon as the envoys reached the spot with Volturcius and heard a shout on both sides of them at once, the Gauls quickly say what was going on and immediately surrendered themselves to the praetors. Volturcius at first urged on his companions, and sword in hand defended himself against superior numbers; but when he was deserted by the envoys, he at first earnestly besought Pomptinus, with whom he was acquainted, to save him, but finally, being in fear and despairing for his life, surrendered to the praetors as if to enemies.
When all was over, the details were quickly communicated to the consul by messengers; but he was beset at the same time by deep anxiety as well as by great joy. For while he rejoiced in the knowledge that by the disclosure of the plot his country was saved from peril, he was also troubled, and uncertain what ought to be done, when citizens of such standing were found guilty of a heinous crime. He realized that their punishment would be a load upon his own shoulders; their impunity the ruin of the state. He, therefore, steeling his resolution, ordered Lentulus, Cethegus, Statilius, and Gabinius to be brought before him, as well as a certain Caeparius of Terracina, who was making ready to go to Apulia and stir the slaves to revolt. The others came without delay; but Caeparius, who had left his home a short time before this, heard of the discovery of the plot and had made good his escape from the city. The consul himself took Lentulus by the hand, because he was praetor, and led him to the temple of Concord, bidding the rest follow under guard. Thither he summoned the senate, and when it had assembled in the full numbers he led in Volturcius and the envoys. He bade the praetor Flaccus to bring to the same place the portfolio, together with the letters which he had taken from the Allobroges.
When Volturcius was questioned about the journey and letters, and finally was asked what his design was and why he had entertained it, he at first invented another story and denied knowledge of the conspiracy. Afterwards, when invited to speak under a public pledge of pardon, he gave an exact account of the whole affair. He declared that he had been made a member of the cabal only a few days before by Gabinius and Caeparius, and knew no more than the envoys; except that he had often heard Gabinius mention Publius Autronius, Servius Sulla, Lucius Vargunteius, and many others as being in the plot. The Gauls gave the same testimony, and when Lentulus denied his guilt they confronted him not only with his letter, but also with statements which he was in the habit of making, to the effect that in the Sibylline books the rule of Rome by three Cornelii was foretold; that there had already been Cinna and Sulla, and that he was the third who was destined to be master of the city. Furthermore, that this was the twentieth year since the burning of the Capitol, a year which because of portents the soothsayers had often declared would be stained with the blood of a civil war. Accordingly, when the letters had been read through, each man having first acknowledged his own seal, the senate voted that after Lentulus had resigned his office he and the rest should be held in free custody. As a result of this, Lentulus was delivered to Publius Lentulus Spinther, who at the time was an aedile, Cethegus to Quintus Cornificius, Statilius to Gaius Caesar, Gabinius to Marcus Crassus, and Caeparius (for he had just been caught and brought back) to a senator called Gnaeus Terentius.
Meanwhile, after the disclosure of the plot, the commons, who at first in their desire for a change of rulers had been only too eager for war, faced about and denounced the designs of Catiline, while they extolled Cicero to the skies, manifesting as much joy and exultation as if they had been rescued from slavery. For although they thought that other acts of war would lead to booty rather than to loss, they regarded a general conflagration as cruel, monstrous, and especially calamitous to themselves, since their sole possessions were their daily food and clothing.
On the following day one Lucius Tarquinius was brought before the senate, a man who was said to have been arrested and brought back as he was making his way to Catiline. When he said that he would give evidence about the conspiracy if the state would promise him a pardon, and when he had been invited by the consul to tell what he knew, he gave the senate practically the same testimony as Volturcius about the intended fires, the murder of loyal men, and the march of the rebels. He added that he had been sent by Marcus Crassus to advise Catiline not to be alarmed by the arrest of Lentulus, Cethegus, and the other conspirators, but to make the greater haste to come to the city, in order that he might thereby revive the spirits of the rest, and that they might the more easily be saved from their danger.
As soon, however, as Tarquinius named Crassus, a noble of great wealth and of the highest rank, some thought the charge incredible; others believed it to be true, but thought that in such a crisis so powerful a man ought to be propitiated rather than exasperated. There were many, too, who were under obligation to Crassus through private business relations. All these loudly insisted that the accusation was false, and demanded that the matter be laid before the senate. Accordingly, on the motion of Cicero, the senate in full session voted that the testimony of Tarquinius appeared to be false; that he should be kept under guard and given no further hearing until he revealed the name of the man at whose instigation he had lied about a matter of such moment. At the time some believed that this charge had been trumped up by Publius Autronius, in order that by naming Crassus and involving him in the danger he might shield the rest behind his influence. Others declared that Tarquinius had been instigated by Cicero, to prevent Crassus from taking up the cause of the wicked, after his custom, and embroiling the state. I heard Crassus himself assert afterwards that this grave insult was put upon him by Cicero.
But at that very time Quintus Catulus and Gaius Piso tried in vain by entreaties, influence, and bribes to induce Cicero to have a false accusation brought against Gaius Caesar, either through the Allobroges or some other witness. For both these men were bitter personal enemies of Caesar, Piso because when he was on trial for extortion Caesar had charged him with unjustly executing a native of Transpadine Gaul, while the hatred of Catulus arose from his candidacy for the pontificate, because after he had attained to a ripe old age and had held the highest offices, he had been defeated by Caesar, who was by comparison a mere youth. Moreover, opportunity for an attack upon Caesar seemed favourable, because he was heavily in debt on account of his eminent generosity in private life and lavish entertainments when in office. But when they could not persuade the consul to such an outrageous step, they took the matter into their own hands, and by circulating falsehoods which they pretended to have heard from Volturcius or the Allobroges, stirred up such hostility to Caesar that some Roman knights, who were stationed as an armed guard about the temple of Concord, carried away either by the greatness of the danger or by their own excitability, drew their swords upon Caesar as he was leaving the senate, in order to make their loyalty to their country more conspicuous.
While all this was going on in the senate, and rewards were being voted to the envoys of the Allobroges and to Titus Volturcius, when their information had been verified, the freedmen of Lentulus and a few of his dependents were scouring the streets and trying to rouse the artisans and slaves to rescue him, while others were seeking out the leaders of bands who were wont to cause public disturbances for hire. Cethegus, also, was sending messengers to his slaves and freedmen, entreating them to take a bold step, get their band together, and force their way to him with arms.
When the consul learned of these designs, stationing guards as the time and circumstances demanded and convoking the senate, he put the question what should be done with the men who had been delivered into custody, the senate having shortly before this in a full meeting resolved that they were guilty of treason to their country. On the present occasion Decimus Junius Silanus, who was consul-elect, and hence the first to be called upon for his opinion regarding those who were held in custody, as well as about Lucius Cassius, Publius Furius, Publius Umbrenus, and Titus Annius in case they should be caught, had recommended that they be put to death; later, profoundly influenced by the speech of Gaius Caesar, he said that, when a division was called for, he would give his vote for the proposal of Tiberius Nero, who had advised merely that the guards be increased and the question reopened. But Caesar, when his turn came and the consul asked him for his opinion, spoke in the following terms:
“Fathers of the Senate, all men who deliberate upon difficult questions ought to be free from hatred and friendship, anger and pity. When these feelings stand in the way the mind cannot easily discern the truth, and no mortal man has ever served at the same time his passions and his best interests. When you apply your intellect, it prevails; if passion possesses you, it holds sway, and the mind is impotent. I might mention many occasions, Fathers of the Senate, when kings and peoples under the influence of wrath or pity have made errors of judgement; but I prefer to remind you of times when our forefathers, resisting the dictates of passion, have acted justly and in order. In the Macedonian war, which we waged with king Perses, the great and glorious community of the Rhodians, which owed its growth to the support of the Roman people, was unfaithful to us and hostile. But after the war was over and the question of the Rhodians was under discussion, our ancestors let them go unpunished for fear that some might say that the wealth of the Rhodians, rather than resentment for the wrong they had done, had led to a declaration of war. So, too, in all the Punic wars, although the Carthaginians both in time of peace and in the course of truces had often done many abominable deeds, the Romans never retaliated when they had the opportunity, but they inquired rather what conduct would be consistent with their dignity than how far the law would allow them to go in taking vengeance on their enemies. You likewise, Fathers of the Senate, must beware of letting the guilt of Publius Lentulus and the rest have more weight with you than your own dignity, and of taking more thought for your anger than for your good name. If a punishment commensurate with their crimes can be found, I favour a departure from precedent; but if the enormity of their guilt surpasses all men’s imagination, I should advise limiting ourselves to such penalties as the law has established.
“The greater number of those who have expressed their opinions before me have deplored the lot of the commonwealth in finished and noble phrases; they have dwelt upon the horrors of war, the wretched fate of the conquered, the rape of maidens and boys, children torn from their parents’ arms, matrons subjected to the will of the victors, temples and homes pillaged, bloodshed and fire; in short arms and corpses everywhere, gore and grief. But, O ye immortal gods! what was the purpose of such speeches? Was it to make you detest the conspiracy? You think that a man who has not been affected by a crime so monstrous and so cruel will be fired by a speech! Nay, not so; no mortal man thinks his own wrongs unimportant; many, indeed, are wont to resent them more than is right. But not all men, Fathers of the Senate, are allowed the same freedom of action. If the humble, who pass their lives in obscurity, commit any offence through anger, it is known to few; their fame and fortune are alike. But the actions of those who hold great power, and pass their lives in a lofty station, are known to all the world. So it comes to pass that in the highest position there is the least freedom of action. There neither partiality nor dislike is in place, and anger least of all; for what in others is called wrath, this in a ruler is termed insolence and cruelty.
“For my own part, Fathers of the Senate, I consider no tortures sufficient for the crimes of these men; but most mortals remember only that which happens last, and in the case of godless men forget their guilt and descant upon the punishment they have received, if it is a little more severe than common. I have no doubt that Decimus Silanus, a gallant and brave man, was led by patriotism to say what he did say, and that in a matter of such moment he showed neither favour nor enmity; so well do I know the man’s character and moderation. Yet his proposal seems to me, I will not say cruel (for what could be cruel in the case of such men?) but foreign to the customs of our country. For surely, Silanus, it was either fear or the gravity of the offence which impelled you, a consul elect, to favour a novel form of punishment. As regards fear it is needless to speak, especially since, thanks to the provisions of our distinguished consul, we have such strong guards under arms. So far as the penalty is concerned, I can say with truth that amid grief and wretchedness death is a relief from woes, not a punishment; that it puts an end to all mortal ills and leaves no room either for sorrow or for joy.
“But, in the name of Heaven! why did you not, Silanus, add the recommendation that they first be scourged? Was it because the Porcian law forbids? Yes, but there are other laws which provide that Roman citizens, even when found guilty, shall not lose their lives, but shall be permitted to go into exile. Was it because it is more grievous to be scourged than to be killed? But what punishment is too rigorous or too grievous for men convicted of so great a crime? If, however, it was because scourging is the lighter punishment, what consistency is there in respecting the law in the lesser point when you have disregarded it in the greater? But, you may say, who will complain of a decree which is passed against traitors to their country? Time, I answer, the lapse of years, and Fortune, whose caprice rules the nations. Whatever befalls these prisoners will be well deserved; but you, Fathers of the Senate, are called upon to consider how your action will affect other criminals. All bad precedents have originated in cases which were good; but when the control of the government falls into the hands of men who are incompetent or bad, your new precedent is transferred from those who well deserve and merit such punishment to the undeserving and blameless.
“The Lacedaemonians, after they had conquered the Athenians, set over them thirty men to carry on their government. These men began at first by putting to death without a trial the most wicked and generally hated citizens, whereat the people rejoiced greatly and declared that it was well done. But afterwards their licence gradually increased, and the tyrants slew good and bad alike at pleasure and intimidated the rest. Thus the nation was reduced to slavery and had to pay a heavy penalty for its foolish rejoicing. Within our own memory, when the conqueror Sulla ordered the execution of Damasippus and others of that kind, who had become prominent at the expense of the state, who did not commend this action? All declared that those criminal intriguers, who had vexed the country with their civil strife, deserved their fate. But that was the beginning of great bloodshed; for whenever anyone coveted a man’s house in town or country, he contrived to have him enrolled among the proscribed. Thus those who had exulted in the death of Damasippus were themselves before long hurried off to execution, and the massacre did not end until Sulla glutted all his followers with riches.
“For my own part, I fear nothing of that kind for Marcus Tullius or for our times, but in a great commonwealth there are many different natures. It is possible that at another time, when someone else is consul and is likewise in command of an army, some falsehood may be believed to be true. When the consul, with this precedent before him, shall draw the sword in obedience to the senate’s decree, who shall limit or restrain him?
“Our ancestors, Fathers of the Senate, were never lacking either in wisdom or courage, and yet pride did not keep them from adopting foreign institutions, provided they were honourable. They took their offensive and defensive weapons from the Samnites, the badges of their magistrates for the most part from the Etruscans. In fine, whatever they found suitable among allies or foes, they put in practice at home with the greatest enthusiasm, preferring to imitate rather than envy the successful. But in that same age, following the usage of Greece, they applied the scourge to citizens and inflicted the supreme penalty upon those found guilty. Afterwards, when the state reached maturity and because of its large population factions prevailed; when the blameless began to be oppressed and other wrongs of that kind were perpetrated: then they devised the Porcian law and other laws, which allowed the condemned the alternative of exile. This seems to me, Fathers of the Senate, a particularly cogent reason why we should not adopt a new policy. Surely there was greater merit and wisdom in those men, who from slight resources created this mighty empire, than in us, who can barely hold what they gloriously won.
“Do I then recommend that the prisoners be allowed to depart and swell Catiline’s force? By no means! This, rather, is my advice: that their goods be confiscated and they they themselves be kept imprisoned in the strongest of the free towns; further, that no one hereafter shall refer their case to the senate or bring it before the people, under pain of being considered by the senate to have designs against the welfare of the state and the common safety.”
After Caesar had finished speaking, the rest briefly expressed their adherence to one or another of the various proposals. But Marcus Porcius Cato, when called upon for his opinion, spoke to the following purport:
“My feelings are very different, Fathers of the Senate, when I turn my mind to the plot and the danger we are in, and when I reflect upon the recommendations of some of our number. The speakers appear to me to have dwelt upon the punishment of these men who have plotted warfare upon their country, parents, altars, and hearths; but the situation warns us rather to take precautions against them than to argue about what we are to do with them. For in the case of other offences you may proceed against them after they have been committed; with this, unless you take measures to forestall it, in vain will you appeal to the laws when once it has been consummated. Once a city has been taken nothing is left to the vanquished.
“Nay, in the name of the immortal gods I call upon you, who have always valued your houses, villas, statues, and paintings more highly than your country; if you wish to retain the treasures to which you cling, of whatsoever kind they may be, if you even wish to provide peace for the enjoyment of your pleasures, wake up at last and lay hold of the reins of state. Here is no question of revenues or the wrongs of our allies; our lives and liberties are at stake. Oftentimes, Fathers of the Senate, I have spoken at great length before this body; I have often deplored the extravagance and greed of our citizens, and in that way I have made many men my enemies. I, who had never granted to myself or to my impulses indulgence for any transgression, could not readily condone misdeeds prompted by another’s passion. But although you were wont to give little weight to my words, yet the state was unshaken; its prosperity made good your neglect.
“Now, however, the question before us is not whether our morals are good or bad, nor how great or glorious the empire of the Roman people is, but whether all that we have, however we regard it, is to be ours, or with ourselves is to belong to the enemy. At this point (save the mark!) someone hints at gentleness and long-suffering! But in very truth we have long since lost the true names for things. It is precisely because squandering the goods of others is called generosity, and recklessness in wrong doing is called courage, that the republic is reduced to extremities. Let these men by all means, since such is the fashion of the time, be liberal at the expense of our allies, let them be merciful to plunderers of the treasury; but let them not be prodigal of our blood, and in sparing a few scoundrels bring ruin upon all good men.
“In fine and finished phrases did Gaius Caesar a moment ago before this body speak of life and death, regarding as false, I presume, the tales which are told of the Lower World, where they say that the wicked take a different path from the good, and dwell in regions that are gloomy, desolate, unsightly, and full of fears. Therefore he recommended that the goods of the prisoners be confiscated, and that they themselves be imprisoned in the free towns, doubtless through fear that if they remained in Rome the adherents of the plot or a hired mob would rescue them by force. As if, indeed, there were base and criminal men only in our city and not all over Italy, or as if audacity had not greatest strength where the power to resist it is weakest! Therefore, this advice is utterly futile if Caesar fears danger from the conspirators; but if amid such general fear he alone has none, I have the more reason to fear for you and for myself. Be assured, then, that when you decide the fate of Publius Lentulus and the rest, you will at the same time be passing judgement on Catiline’s army and all the conspirators. The more vigorous your action, the less will be their courage; but if they detect the slightest weakness on your part, they will all be here immediately, filled with reckless daring. Do not suppose that it was by arms that our forefathers raised our country from obscurity to greatness. If that were so, we should have a much fairer state than theirs, since we have a greater number of citizens and allies than they possessed, to say nothing of arms and horses. But there were other qualities which made them great, which we do not possess at all: efficiency at home, a just rule abroad, in counsel an independent spirit free from guilt or passion. In place of these we have extravagance and greed, public poverty and private opulence. We extol wealth and foster idleness. We make no distinction between good men and bad, and ambition appropriates all the prizes of merit. And no wonder! When each of you schemes for his own private interests, when you are slaves to pleasure in your homes and to money or influence here, the natural result is an attack upon the defenceless republic.
“But I let that pass. Citizens of the highest rank have conspired the fire their native city, they stir up to war the Gauls, bitterest enemies of the Roman people. The leader of the enemy with his army is upon us. Do you even now hesitate and doubtfully ask yourselves what is to be done with foemen taken within your walls? Have compassion upon them, I conjure you (they are but young men, led astray by ambition), and even let them go, taking their army with them! Of a truth, if they should resort to war, that gentleness and long-suffering of yours would result in suffering. No doubt the situation is a terrible one, you say, but you are not afraid of it. Nay, but you do fear it exceedingly, though from slothfulness and weakness of spirit you hesitate, waiting one for the other, doubtless trusting to the immortal gods, who have often saved our country in moments of extreme danger. Not by vows nor womanish entreaties is the help of the gods secured; it is always through watchfulness, vigorous action, and wisdom in counsel that success comes. When you abandon yourself to cowardice and baseness, it is vain to call upon the gods; they are offended and hostile.
“In the days of our forefathers Aulus Manlius Torquatus, while warring with the Gauls, ordered the execution of his own son, because he had fought against the enemy contrary to orders, and the gallant young man paid the penalty for too great valour with his life. Do you hesitate what punishment to inflict upon the most ruthless traitors? No doubt their past lives have been such as to palliate this crime! By all means spare Lentulus because of his rank, if he ever spared his own chastity, his good name, or anyone, god or man. Pardon the youth of Cethegus, if this is not the second time that he has made war upon his country. And what shall I say of Gabinius, Statilius, and Caeparius, who would never have formed such designs against the republic if they had ever respected anything?
“Finally, Fathers of the Senate, if (Heaven help us!) there were any room for error I should be quite willing to let you learn wisdom by experience, since you scorn my advice. But as it is, we are beset on every side. Catiline with his army is at our throats; other foes are within our walls, aye, in the very heart of Rome. Neither preparations nor plans can be kept secret; therefore the more need of haste. This, then, is my recommendation: whereas our country has been subjected to the greatest peril through the abominable plot of wicked citizens, and whereas they have been proven guilty by the testimony of the Allobroges, and have confessed that they have planned murder, arson, and other fearful and cruel crimes against their fellow citizens and their country, let those who have confessed be treated as though they had been caught red-handed in capital offences, and be punished after the manner of our forefathers.”
As soon as Cato had taken his seat, all the ex-consuls, as well as a great part of the other senators, praised his proposal and lauded his courage to the skies, while they taxed one another with timorousness. Cato was hailed as great and noble, and a decree of the senate was passed in accordance with his recommendation.
For my own part, as I read and heard of the many illustrious deeds of the Roman people at home and abroad, on land and sea, it chanced that I was seized by a strong desire of finding our what quality in particular had been the foundation of so great exploits. I knew that often with a handful of men they had encountered great armies of the enemy; I was aware that with small resources they had waged wars with mighty kings; also that they had often experienced the cruelty of Fortune; that the Romans had been surpassed by the Greeks in eloquence and by the Gauls in warlike glory. After long reflection I became convinced that it had all been accomplished by the eminent merit of a few citizens; that it was due to them that poverty had triumphed over riches, and a few over a multitude. But after the state had become demoralized by extravagance and sloth, it was the commonwealth in its turn that was enabled by its greatness to sustain the shortcomings of its generals and magistrates, and for a long time, as when mothers are exhausted by child-bearing, no one at all was produced at Rome who was great in merit. But within my own memory there have appeared two men of towering merit, though of diverse character, Marcus Cato and Gaius Caesar. As regards these men, since the occasion has presented itself, it is not my intention to pass them by in silence, or fail to give, to the best of my ability, an account of their disposition and character.
In birth then, in years and in eloquence, they were about equal; in greatness of soul they were evenly matched, and likewise in renown, although the renown of each was different. Caesar was held great because of his benefactions and lavish generosity, Cato for the uprightness of his life. The former became famous for his gentleness and compassion, the austerity of the latter had brought him prestige. Caesar attained glory by giving, helping, and forgiving; Cato by never stooping to bribery. One was a refuge for the unfortunate, the other a scourge for the wicked. The good nature of the one was applauded, the steadfastness of the other. Finally, Caesar had schooled himself to work hard and sleep little, to devote himself to the welfare of his friends and neglect his own, to refuse nothing which was worth the giving. He longed for great power, an army, a new war to give scope for his brilliant merit. Cato, on the contrary, cultivated self-control, propriety, but above all austerity. He did not vie with the rich in riches nor in intrigue with the intriguer, but with the active in good works, with the self-restrained in moderation, with the blameless in integrity. He preferred to be, rather than to seem, virtuous; hence the less he sought fame, the more it pursued him.
After the senate had adopted the recommendation of Cato, as I have said, the consul thought it best to forestall any new movement during the approaching night. He therefore ordered the triumvirs to make the necessary preparations for the execution. After setting guards, he personally led Lentulus to the dungeon, while the praetors performed the same office for the others.
In the prison, when you have gone up a little way towards the left, there is a place called the Tullianum, about twelve feet below the surface of the ground. It is enclosed on all sides by walls, and above it is a chamber with a vaulted roof of stone. Neglect, darkness, and stench make it hideous and fearsome to behold. Into this place Lentulus was let down, and then the executioners carried out their orders and strangled him. Thus that patrician, of the illustrious stock of the Cornelii, who had held consular authority at Rome, ended his life in a manner befitting his character and his crimes. Cethegus, Statilius, Gabinius, and Caeparius suffered the same punishment.
While this was taking place in Rome, Catiline combined the forces which he had brought with him with those which Manlius already had, and formed two legions, filling up the cohorts so far as the number of soldiers permitted. Then distributing among them equally such volunteers or conspirators as came to the camp, he soon completed the full quota of the legions, although in the beginning he had no more than two thousand men. But only about a fourth part of the entire force was provided with regular arms. The others carried whatever weapons chance had given them; namely, javelins and lances, or in some cases, pointed stakes.
When Antonius was drawing near with his army, Catiline marched through the mountains, moved his camp now towards the city and now in the direction of Gaul, and gave the enemy no opportunity for battle, hoping shortly to have a large force if the conspirators at Rome succeeded in carrying out their plans. Meanwhile he refused to enroll slaves, a great flood of whom flocked to him at first, because he had confidence in the strength of the conspiracy and at the same time thought it inconsistent with his designs to appear to have given runaway slaves a share in a citizens’ cause.
But when news reached the camp that the plot had been discovered in Rome, and that Lentulus, Cethegus, and the others whom I mentioned had been done to death, very many of those whom the hope of pillage or desire for revolution had led to take up arms began to desert. The remainder Catiline led by forced marches over rugged mountains to the neighbourhood of Pistoria, intending to escape secretly by cross-roads into Transalpine Gaul. But Quintus Metellus Celer, with three legions, was on the watch in the district of Pisa, inferring from the difficulty of the enemy’s position that he would take the very course which I have mentioned. Accordingly, when he learned through deserters in what direction Catiline was going, he quickly moved his camp and took up a position at the foot of the very mountains from which the conspirator would have to descend in his flight into Gaul. Antonius also was not far distant, since he was following the fleeing rebels over more level ground with an army which, though large, was lightly equipped. Now, when Catiline perceived that he was shut in between the mountains and the forces of his enemies, that his plans in the city had failed, and that he had hope neither of escape nor reinforcements, thinking it best in such a crisis to try the fortune of battle, he decided to engage Antonius as soon as possible. Accordingly he assembled his troops and addressed them in a speech of the following purport:
“I am well aware, soldiers, that words do not supply valour, and that a spiritless army is not made vigorous, or a timid one stout-hearted, by a speech from its commander. Only that degree of courage which is in each man’s heart either by disposition or by habit, is wont to be revealed in battle. It is vain to exhort one who is roused neither by glory nor by dangers; the fear he feels in his heart closes ears. I have, however, called you together to offer a few words of advice, and at the same time to explain the reason for my resolution.
“You know perfectly well, soldiers, how great is the disaster that the incapacity and cowardice of Lentulus have brought upon himself and us, and how, waiting for reinforcements from the city, I could not march into Gaul. At this present time, moreover, you understand as well as I do in what condition our affairs stand. Two hostile armies, one towards Rome, the other towards Gaul, block our way. We cannot remain longer where we are, however much we may desire it, because of lack of grain and other necessities. Wherever we decide to go, we must hew a path with the sword. Therefore I counsel you to be brave and ready of spirit, and when you enter the battle to remember that you carry in your own right hands riches, honour, glory; yea, even freedom and your nature land. If we win, complete security will be ours, supplies will abound, free towns and colonies will open their gates; but if we yield to fear, the very reverse will be true: no place and no friend will guard the man whom arms could not protect. Moreover, soldiers, we and our opponents are not facing the same exigency. We are battling for our country, for freedom, for life; theirs is a futile contest, to uphold the power of a few men. March on, therefore, with the greater courage, mindful of your former valour.
“You might have passed your life in exile and in utter infamy, at Rome some of you might look to others for aid after losing your estates; but since such conditions seemed base and intolerable to true men, you decided upon this course. If you wish to forsake it, you have need of boldness; none save the victor exchanges war for peace. To hope for safety in flight when you have turned away from the enemy the arms which should protect your body, is surely the height of madness. In battle the greatest danger always threatens those who show the greatest fear; boldness is a breastwork.
“When I think on you, my soldiers, and weigh your deeds, I have high hopes of victory. Your spirit, youth, and valour give me heart, not to mention necessity, which makes even the timid brave. In this narrow defile the superior numbers of the enemy cannot surround us. But if Fortune frowns upon your bravery, take care not to die unavenged. Do not be captured and slaughtered like cattle, but, fighting like heroes, leave the enemy a bloody and tearful victory.”
When he had thus spoken, after a brief pause he ordered the trumpets to sound and led his army in order of battle down into the plain. Then, after sending away all the horses, in order to make the danger equal for all and thus to increase the soldiers’ courage, himself on foot like the rest he drew up the army as the situation and his numbers demanded. Since, namely, the plain was shut in on the left by mountains and on the right by rough, rocky ground, he posted eight cohorts in front and held the rest in reserve in closer order. From these he took the centurions, all picked men and reservists, as well as the best armed of the ordinary soldiers, and placed them in the front rank. He gave the charge of the right wing to Gaius Manlius, and that of the left to a man of Faesulae. He himself with his freedmen and the camp-servants took his place beside the eagle, which, it was said, had been in the army of Gaius Marius during the war with the Cimbri.
On the other side Gaius Antonius, who was ill with the gout and unable to enter the battle, he trusted his army to Marcus Petreius, his lieutenant. Petreius placed in the van the veteran cohorts which he had enrolled because of the outbreak, and behind them the rest of his army in reserve. Riding up and down upon his horse, he addressed each his men by name, exhorted him, and begged him to remember that he was fighting against unarmed highwaymen in defence of his country, his children, his altars, and his hearth. Being a man of military experience, who had served in the army with high distinction for more than thirty years as tribune, prefect, lieutenant, or commander, he personally knew the greater number of his soldiers and their valorous deeds of arms, and by mentioning these he fired the spirits of his men.
When Petreius, after making all his preparations, gave the signal with the trumpet, he ordered his cohorts to advance slowly; the army of the enemy followed their example. After they had reached a point where battle could be joined by the skirmishers, the hostile armies rushed upon each other with loud shouts, then threw down their pikes and took to the sword. The veterans, recalling their old-time prowess, advanced bravely to close quarters; the enemy, not lacking in courage, stood their ground, and there was a terrific struggle. Meanwhile Catiline, with his light-armed troops, was busy in the van, aided those who were hard pressed, summoned fresh troops to replace the wounded, had an eye to everything, and at the same time fought hard himself, often striking down the foe—thus performing at once the duties of a valiant soldiers and of a skilful leader.
When Petreius saw that Catiline was making so much stronger a fight than he had expected, he led his praetorian cohort against the enemy’s centre, threw them into confusion, and slew those who resisted in various parts of the field; then he attacked the rest on both flanks at once. Manlius and the man from Faesulae were among the first to fall, sword in hand. When Catiline saw that his army was routed and that he was left with a mere handful of men, mindful of his birth and former rank he plunged into the thickest of the enemy and there fell fighting, his body pierced through and through.
When the battle was ended it became evident what boldness and resolution had pervaded Catiline’s army. For almost every man covered with his body, when life was gone, the position which he had taken when alive at the beginning of the conflict. A few, indeed, in the centre, whom the praetorian cohort had scattered, lay a little apart from the rest, but the wounds even of these were in front. But Catiline was found far in advance of his men amid a heap of slain foemen, still breathing slightly, and showing in his face the indomitable spirit which had animated him when alive. Finally, out of the whole army not a single citizen of free birth was taken during the battle or in flight, showing that all have valued their own lives no more highly than than those of their enemies.
But the army of the Roman people gained no joyful or bloodless victory, for all the most valiant had either fallen in the fight or come off with severe wounds. Many, too, who had gone from the camp to visit the field or to pillage, on turning over the body of the rebels found now a friend, now a guest or kinsman; some also recognized their personal enemies. Thus the whole army was variously affected with sorrow and grief, rejoicing and lamentation.
- Namely, mind and body.
- Cf. Thuc. II.35.
- As being purely corporeal; see p. 2, l. 5: animi imperio, corporis servitio magis utimur.
- Sulla was dictator from 82 to 79 B.C.
- The emphasis given by ego shows that Sallust is offering his personal view of the matter, and in fact his version differs from all other extant traditions.
- Such as the Sabini, Aequi, Rutuli, and Volsci.
- The consuls, first chosen in 509 B.C., according to the traditional chronology.
- Such as Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon.
- See note 4. He died in 78 B.C.
- Referring respectively to military and political power.
- Referring to Xerxes. Lucullus, called by Pompey “Xerxes togatus,” and Pompey himself cut through hills to bring salt water into their fishponds, and villas built out into the sea existed in Sallust’s time at Baiae. See Hor. Odes 3.1.33:
Contracta pisces aequora sentiunt
iactis in altum molibus.
- They forestalled hunger and thirst by appetizers and even by emetics (cf. Sen. Con. ad Helv. 10.3, vomunt ut edant, edunt ut vomant), cold and weariness by baths and indolent habits.
- Fabia, half-sister of Terentia, Cicero’s wife. Catiline was acquitted.
- This trenchant phrase seems to have originated with Cicero, Cat. 1.14, cum morte superioris uxoris novis nuptiis domum vacuefecisses; cf. Livy 1.46.9, cum domos vacuas novo matrimonio fecissent.
- That is, through his pupils in crime.
- He was at the time in Syria, having defeated Mithridates in Pontus.
- 64 B.C.
- The so-called First Conspiracy of Catiline, in which Catiline bore a subordinate part, if he was connected with it at all. It owes its name to the fact that the second conspiracy was the direct outgrowth of the earlier one.
- 66 B.C.
- These included a fine, the loss of their office, and expulsion from the senate.
- This was a trinundium, or “three weeks.”
- A bundle of rods with an axe projecting from their middle, carried by lictors before the higher magistrates of Rome. The axes were removed when the magistrates were in the city.
- For a different account see Suetonius, Jul. 9.
- See note 11.
- Toreumata is the Greek equivalent of vasa caelata, xi.6.
- Probably Cn. Lentulus and L. Gellius, in 70 B.C.; see Livy, Epit. XCVIII.
- Cf. Terence, Phormio 68: modo non montis auri pollicens, a common proverbial expression; maria seems to be rarer in this sense.
- Meaning one whose ancestors had held no curule office; that is, had not been curule aedile, praetor or consul.
- See chap. xxiv.2
- In spite of his revolutionary designs.
- 62 B.C.
- See chap. xxiii.3.
- Chap. xxiii.
- The Sempronian law of Gaius Gracchus provided that two provinces should be assigned to the consuls in advance of the elections, which were later apportioned by agreement or by lot. Cicero offered Antonius the rich province of Macedonia, in place of Gaul, which the fortune of the lot had given him.
- The salutatio, or ceremonial call, paid to distinguished men by clients and friends, took place soon after sunrise. The meeting of the conspirators must have been prolonged to the small hours.
- This was on Oct. 20. Sallust differs from Cicero in placing the consular elections before Cicero’s announcement to the senate (see chap. xxvi), whereas they did not take place until Oct. 28.
- This decree seems not to have been resorted to before the end of the Third Punic War (146 B.C.), before which time a dictator was chosen. The right of the senate to pass such a decree was not admitted by the popular party.
- The former had waged war successfully in Cilicia, while the latter had won his surname by reducing Crete to submission. They could not enter the city without losing the imperium, without which a triumph could not be secured.
- See Index under sestertius.
- To relieve Rome of the danger of their presence.
- See Gellius 15.13.4. The term is used formally of all below the curule magistrates (see note 28); namely, the plebeian aediles, quaestors, tribunes of the commons, tresviri capitales (lv.1), etc. Here it is perhaps less inclusive.
- Passed in 89 B.C. by M. Plautius Silvanus, tribune of the commons, and directed against acts of violence and breaches of peace.
- The First Oration against Catiline, delivered November 8, 63 B.C.
- This slur was unfair, for although Cicero was not born in Rome, as a native of Arpinum he possessed full citizenship.
- That is, “the fire which consumes me”; cf. Cic. pro Mur. 51, cum ille . . . respondisset, si quod esset in suas fortunas incendium excitatum, id se non aqua, sed ruina restincturum. He refers to the method of checking great fires by the demolition of buildings and the like. Valerius Maximus (9.11.3) has incendium ab ipso excitatum.
- On this occasion, the temple of Concord.
- By the Valerian law of 86 B.C.; cf. Velleius Paterculus 2.23.2, who calls it a most shameful law (lex turpissima).
- Since the patricians allowed the plebeians no political rights, the latter withdrew from the city and threatened to form an independent community. Three such “secessions” are recorded: to the Mons Sacer in 494, to the Aventine in 449, and to the Janiculum in 287 B.C.
- Catulus had defended Catiline from the charge relating to Fabia, the vestal mentioned in chap. xv.1.
- That is, in resorting to arms and going to Manlius instead of Massilia; for the force of novo cf. chap. li.8.
- See note 22.
- The actual time was eleven years, from the curtailment of the rights of the tribunes by Sulla in 81 B.C. to their restoration by Pompey in 70.
- 70 B.C.
- Text and meaning are very uncertain. Ceteros seems to refer to the other nobles with less political influence. Having silenced these by threats of prosecution, the dominant faction could assume a more conciliatory attitude towards the people.
- Such a man as Crassus (see chap. xvii.7) or Caesar, who without taking part in the conspiracy, might have profited by a general disturbance.
- The negotiatores were engaged in money-lending, tax-collecting, and public contracts of various kinds. Cf. Cic. Font. 11: referta Gallia negotiatorum est, plena civium Romanorum; nemo Gallorum sine cive Romano quidquam negotii gerit; nummus in Gallia nullus sine civium Romanorum tabulis commovetur.
- That is, he looked after their interests in Rome. Sanga had inherited this duty from his father, Quintus Fabius Maximus, who had won the surname Allobrogicus by reducing that people to submission.
- Namely, the conspirators’ plan of enlisting the aid of the Allobroges. He already knew of the conspiracy.
- Other than Umbrenus and Gabinius.
- That Murena was in charge of Gallia Ulterior is clear from Cic. Mur. 41. Whether Sallust is in error, or the manuscripts, cannot be determined.
- Where the meeting of the senate was held on this occasion.
- In such cases, which corresponded roughly to our release on bail, each accused person was given into the charge of a prominent citizen, who became responsible for his appearance at his trial.
- Cf. Liv. 4.12.10, vendere quod usu menstruo superesset; Tac. The Annals (Tacitus)/Book 4#30.2, dandos vitae usus cui vita concederetur.
- Crassus gained popularity by acting as advocate for men whom Pompey, Caesar and Cicero were unwilling to defend. See Plutarch, Crassus iii.2.
- The accusation of extortion was made by the Allobroges. Caesar, as patron of the province (see note 57), had made the additional charge. Piso was defended by Cicero and acquitted; see Cic. pro Flacco 39.98.
- Caesar was thirty-seven years old at the time.
- See Suetonius, Jul. 14, where the incident is referred to the time of the debate about the punishment of the conspirators.
- Such as those of Clodius and Milo.
- After the members of the senate had expressed their opinions, the supporters of a measure passed to one side of the house (pedibus ire in sententiam illius) to be counted, the opponents to the other.
- That is, the defences against the attempts of conspirators.
- Just before the battle of Pydna (168 B.C.) the Rhodians, fearing the effect on their trade, threatened the Romans with war unless they made peace with Perses. The elder Cato, in a speech of which a part is preserved (Gell. 6.3), persuaded the Romans not to retaliate. The Rhodians, however, were punished by the loss of their possessions in Lycia and Caria, which the Romans had given them as a reward for their help in the war with Antiochus.
- There were three laws of that name, the exact provisions of which are unknown, but the scourging or putting to death of a Roman citizen was forbidden.
- The Valerian laws and one of Gaius Gracchus.
- The proposal of Silanus to put Roman citizens to death was a violation of the Porcian and other laws. If he omitted the scourging as too cruel, he minimized the guilt of the prisoners; but if he thought death the severer penalty, he violated the law in its more important part, especially since the prisoners had not been formally tried and condemned.
- Cf. Verg. Aen. 5.783, quam (=Iunonem), nec longa dies pietas nec mitigat ulla; Liv. 2.45.2, diem tempusque forsitan ipsum leniturum iras.
- At the close of the Peloponnesian war (404 B.C.) the Spartans attempted to maintain their hold upon dependent states by setting up in each a local governing board of aristocrats. The “Thirty Tyrants” at Athens were driven out after about eight months of excesses.
- According to tradition, the laws of the Twelve Tables, published in 449 B.C., were based upon those of Athens and other Greek cities, to which a commission was sent from Rome for that purpose.
- See note 73.
- That is, because of his scepticism about future punishment.
- An error for Titus.
- That is, if there were time to correct an error once made.
- Although the conspirators had only planned these crimes and had been prevented from committing them, because of their confession they should be punished as if they had been caught in the act of perpetrating them.
- The meaning apparently is that they be not allowed the choice of exile. Some have thought that Cato recommended the specific supplicium de more maiorum described in Suetonius, Nero, 49, but there are many reasons for rejecting this view. See Oldfather in Trans. Amer. Phil. Assoc. XXXIX.49 ff.
- But see Suet. 19.1, where Cato is said to have connived at bribery in order to secure the election of Bibulus.
- One for which he had the entire responsibility (cf. Livy 9.42.3 and 31.8.6. Perhaps said in disparagement of Pompey, who finished wars begun by other men.
- Cf. Aeschylus, Seven against Thebes, 589: οὐ γὰρ δοκεῖν ἄριστος, ἀλλ᾽ εἶναι θέλει.
- The tresviri capitales were minor magistrates who had charge of prisons and executions and performed certain police duties.
- This statement can hardly be reconciled with the existing remains; the rest of the description is clear and applies to the Carcer, the so-called “Mamertine prison,” near the north-western corner of the Roman Forum.
- It was probably an old spring-house and derived its name from an early Latin word tullius, meaning “spring,” although the Romans themselves connected it with Servius Tullius. See Platner, Topography of Rome, pp. 251 f.
- The carnifices, servants of the tresviri, or perhaps those officials themselves; see Cic. de Leg. 3.3.6.
- That is, he made two legions of ten cohorts each, but the number in each cohort was below the normal one until he filled it up from the volunteers and conspirators that came into his camp. At first he had two thousand men; at last, two full legions.
- The gladius (sword), pilum (pike), scutum (shield), lorica (coat of mail), cassis (helmet), and ocreae (greaves).
- On the attitude towards the military service of slaves and freedmen, see Suetonius, Aug. 25.
- Text and meaning are uncertain.
- Cf. Caesar, B. G. 1.25.
- The evocati were veterans who after their discharge had been induced to enlist again, usually with the rank of centurion. In this case many of them were probably old soldiers of Sulla.
- Cassius Dio, 37.39, asserts that Antonius feigned illness, so as not to take the field against his old associate.
- That is, without regular arms; see chap. lvi.3.
- The ferentarii were light-armed infantry stationed on the wings, who hurled their javelins and then retired behind the battle line.
- The praetorian cohort was the general’s bodyguard, made up of selected infantry and cavalry. Thus Caesar (B. G. 1.40) proposes to give that honour to the Tenth Legion. Under the empire the praetorian guard gradually acquired great importance and political power.
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