The Catiline Conspiracy
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It becomes all men, who are anxious that they should excel other animals, to strive with their utmost might that they may not pass their life in silence like cattle, which nature has formed with their faces downwards, and slaves to their belly. But all our vigour is placed in the mind and in the body. We for the most part make use of the government of the mind, the submission of the body.
The one we have in common with the gods, and the other with brutes. Wherefore it appears to me more proper to seek for glory by the abilities of the mind rather than by those of mere force; and since that life which we enjoy is short, to make the memory of ourselves as lasting as possible. For the glory of riches and beauty is fickle and frail; virtue is accounted bright and everlasting. But there has been for a long time a great debate amongst mortals, whether the science of war advanced more by the strength of body or by the abilities of the mind. For both before you begin there is need of counsel; and when you have counselled, there is need of vigorous execution. So whilst both by themselves are defective, the one is strengthened by the assistance of the other.
Wherefore in the early ages of the world, kings (for this was the first name of government upon the earth) were different—some cultivated their minds, others their body. At that time too, the life of men was spent without covetousness, to every man his own property was sufficient. But after that Cyrus in Asia, in Greece the Lacedæmonians and Athenians, began to take cities and subdue nations—to look upon the lust of dominion as a ground for war—and to reckon the greatest glory to consist in the greatest dominion; then at length it was found out by danger and trouble, that ability availed most greatly in war. But if the ability of the mind of kings and commanders were as powerful in peace as in war, human affairs would keep themselves in a more calm and settled state. Nor would you see different things carried about in different directions, nor all things changed and confused. For dominion is secured by the same acts by which it was at first acquired. But when instead of labour, sloth, instead of moderation and equity, lust and pride rush in, men’s fortune is changed with their morals. Thus power is ever shifting from the worse to the better man: and the advantages of ploughing, sailing, and building all obey virtue. But many men abandoned to their belly and sleep, untaught and uneducated, have spent their days like strangers, whose body in truth, contrary to nature, has been their happiness, their soul a burden. The life and body of such as these I reckon much the same, since no notice is taken of either. But he indeed appears to me to be truly alive, and to enjoy life, who being engaged in some useful employment, seeks the renown of some noble action or praiseworthy act. But in this great plenty of pursuits, nature has pointed out to different men different courses.
It is a glorious thing to be serviceable to the state, and even eloquence is no despicable thing. Either in peace or war it is possible that a man may become famous. Many of those who have performed noble actions, as well as those who have written the history of others, are applauded.
And to me indeed, although by no means equal glory attends the historian and the hero, yet it appears in the first place difficult to describe great exploits; first indeed, because the deeds are to be equalled by the words: next, because many think that those faults which you may have blamed have been mentioned through ill nature and envy. When you are speaking of the great valour and glory of the good, whatever things each man thinks are easy to be done by himself, he hears with patience, but all beyond he esteems as false, just as if they were feigned. But I, when a young man, in my early days, like very many, was inclined with much zeal to the service of the state, and there many obstacles met me. For instead of modesty, instead of temperance, instead of virtue—boldness, bribery, and avarice were flourishing; which things although my mind despised, being unused to such bad practices, yet amidst so great vices, my tender age was held fast corrupted by ambition. Me too, although I stood aloof from other bad customs, the same desire nevertheless of honour harassed, as it did others, with ambition and envy.
Therefore when my mind after many miseries and dangers rested, and I determined that the rest of my life should be spent by me far away from the state, it was not my intention to waste my valuable leisure in sloth and idleness, nor indeed in cultivating my land or hunting, to spend my life engaged with servile offices; but having returned to the same point, I mean that undertaking and zeal from which a faulty ambition had diverted me, I determined to write in full the exploits of the Roman people concisely, just as each thing appeared worthy of memory; and so much the rather, because my mind was free from hope, fear, and the factions of the state. Therefore I will in a few words give an account of Catiline’s conspiracy, with as much truth as I shall be able. For I look upon that design as especially memorable, from the strangeness of the crime and the danger; of the morals however of this man a few things must be explained before I begin my narrative.
Lucius Catiline descended of a noble race was of great vigour both of mind and body, but of a wicked and perverse disposition. To him from his youth, civil wars, slaughter, rapine, civil discord, were delightful, and therein he spent his youth. His body was enduring of hunger, cold, and watching, more than is credible to any one. His mind was audacious, crafty, fickle—the pretender to, and dissembler of, any thing whatever, greedy of what was not his own, lavish of what was, burning in his lusts, eloquence enough he had, but little wisdom. His wild soul was always desiring things extravagant, incredible, and too high for him. After the tyranny of L. Sulla, a desire had wonderfully seized him of seizing the state; nor by what means he attained this, provided he could obtain the tyranny to himself, had he any care. His savage soul was agitated more and more every day by the want of fortune, and the sense of his guilt, both which he had increased by those practices which I have mentioned above. The corrupt morals of the state, moreover, encouraged him; which morals, evils most bad and different one to another—luxury and avarice—were distracting. The subject itself seems to exhort me, since this part of my history has put me in mind of the morals of the state, to go back, and to detail in a few words the institutions of our ancestors at home and in war; how they managed the republic, and how great they left it; and how being changed by degrees, from being the most glorious and the best, it became the worst and most flagitious.
The city Rome, as I have understood, the Trojans at first founded and inhabited; who, under the guidance of Æneas, flying from their country, wandered about in uncertain settlements; and with them were the Aborigines, a wild race of men, without laws and government, free and unrestrained. When however they collected into one city, although of different race and dissimilar language, and each living in a different manner, it is incredible to be told how easily they became one people. But after their state being improved in number of people, manners and territory, appeared sufficiently prosperous and sufficiently powerful, as most mortal things are treated, envy arose out of their prosperity. Therefore kings of the neighbouring nations began to harass them in war, while a few of their friends were allies. For the rest, struck with fear, stood aloof from their dangers; but the Romans, busy at home and in war, used all expedition, made preparations, each exhorted his neighbour, marched out to meet the enemy, and protected their liberty, their country, and their parents by their arms. Afterwards, when they had repelled the dangers by their valour, they carried aid to their allies and friends, and rather by giving than by receiving kindnesses they gained friendships. They had a lawful government, and the name of their government. was “Royal.” Chosen men, whose body, through years, was infirm, but whose mind was strong in wisdom, consulted for the state These, either through their age or the similarity of their charge, were called “Fathers.” But when kingly government, which at first proved a means of preserving their liberty, and advancing the public interest, degenerated into haughtiness and tyranny, the custom being changed, they chose for themselves, as annual officers, two magistrates. By this means they thought that the human mind would least of all become overbearing.
But at that time every one began more and more to exert himself, and to have his ability in readiness. For by kings good men are more suspected than the bad, and to them the virtue of others is always formidable. But it is incredible to be told how much in a short time the state increased, its liberty being obtained; so great a desire of glory had now come on. Now the youth, as soon as capable of bearing arms, learnt the art of war by labour with experience in the camp; and rather in beautiful arms and war-horses, than in harlots and banquets, placed their pleasure. To such men as these therefore, labour was not unaccustomed; no place was too rugged or difficult, no enemy in arms was formidable. Their valour had subdued every thing. But in glory there was the highest emulation amongst them. Every one was zealous to strike the enemy, to scale the wall, and to be beheld while he was performing such an exploit. These they esteemed riches—this noble glory and real nobility. They were greedy of praise, lavish of their money. They longed for boundless glory, moderate riches. I could relate in what places the Roman people with a small band defeated the greatest forces of the enemy, and what cities fortified by nature they took by fighting, did not such a relation draw me off too far from my purpose.
But in truth fortune rules in every thing. It celebrates or obscures every thing at its pleasure, rather than according to truth. The actions of the Athenians in my opinion were great and glorious enough, but however a little less than they are represented by fame. But because the great genius of writers flourished there, the exploits of the Athenians are celebrated for the greatest throughout the world. Therefore their valour who have done these things is accounted as great, as the finest genius could extol them by language. But the Roman people never had that advantage, because each man who was the wisest was most engaged in the service of the state. No one cultivated the mind without the body. Each one who was the best, preferred to act than to speak, that his own good deeds should be praised by others, than himself to write those of others.
Good manners were therefore practised at home and abroad. Their unanimity was very great, their covetousness very small. Justice and equity flourished among them, not more by the laws than by nature. Their strifes, their discords, and their grudges they carried on with their enemies. Citizens contended with citizens concerning virtue. In the worship of the gods they were magnificent, at home frugal, and faithful to their friends. By these two arts, boldness in war, and by equity when peace had followed, they managed themselves and the republic. Of which things I have these as the greatest proofs, that in war punishment was more often inflicted on those who had fought against the enemy contrary to orders, and who when recalled had been too slow in retreating, than on those who had ventured to desert their standards, or when beaten to quit their posts. In peace however, by kindness rather than by fear, they managed the government, and when they had received an injury, they chose rather to forgive than to revenge it.
But when by labour and justice the state increased, great kings were conquered in war, fierce nations and mighty people were subdued by arms, Carthage the rival of the Roman empire, had utterly perished, all seas and lands were open, fortune began to be enraged, and confound everything. They who had easily endured dangers, doubtful and difficult trials, to them ease and riches, desirable by the rest of mankind, became a burden and a calamity. Therefore at first the love of money, then that of power increased. These things became as it were the foundation of all evils. For avarice overthrew faith, honesty, and all the other good acts; and instead of them it taught men pride, cruelty, to neglect the gods, and to consider everything venal. Ambition forced many men to become false, to have one thing hidden in their hearts, another ready on their tongue, to value friendships and enmities, not accordingly to reality, but interest, and rather to have a good appearance than a good disposition. These things at first began to increase by degrees, sometimes to be punished. Afterwards when the infection swept on like a pestilence, the state was changed, the government from the most just and best, became cruel and intolerable.
But at first ambition more than avarice influenced the minds of the Romans. Which vice however was the nearer to virtue. For glory, honour, command, the good and slothful equally wish for themselves. But the former strives by the right course; to the latter because good qualities are wanting, he works by tricks and deceits. Avarice has a longing for money, which no wise man ever desired. This passion, as if it were imbued with deadly poisons, enervates the body and mind of man. It is always boundless, insatiable, is neither diminished by plenty nor want. But after Lucius Sulla, the republic being seized by force of laws, from a good beginning turned out ill—all men began to plunder and spoil—one man coveted a house, another lands, nor had the victors any modesty or moderation, but committed foul and cruel actions against the citizens. To this was added, that Lucius Sulla, contrary to the custom of the ancients, had treated luxuriously and too liberally the army which he had commanded in Asia, in order to make it faithful to himself. These pleasant and voluptuous countries had easily in time of peace softened the fierce minds of the soldiery. There first of all, the army of the Roman people became accustomed to love, to drink, to admire statues, paintings, and carved vessels, to plunder them in public and private, to rob the temples, and pollute all things both sacred and profane. Therefore these soldiers, after they had gained the victory, left nothing to the conquered; for success tries the minds of wise men, much less could they, when their morals were corrupted, use their victory with moderation.
After that riches began to be an honour and glory, and command and power followed them, virtue began to languish, poverty to be accounted matter of reproach, and innocence to be considered as malignity. Therefore from riches, luxury and avarice with pride came in upon our youth. They ravaged and wasted every thing, their own property they valued at a trifle, that of other persons they coveted, and had not the least care for, or moderation in, shame, modesty, sacred or profane things, which were all the same to them. It is worth while, when you shall have taken a view of their houses and villas built up after the manner of cities, to visit the temples of the gods, which our fathers, the most religious of men, built; but they used to adorn the shrines of their gods with their piety, their own houses with glory, nor took any thing from the conquered except the liberty of doing mischief; but the others, on the contrary, the most cowardly of men, by means of the greatest wickedness, took away from our allies all those things which the bravest men, when victors, had left to the enemies, just as if the doing of injury was forsooth the use of power.
For why should I relate those things which are credible to no one except to those who have seen them—that mountains have been levelled, seas built over by many private persons, whose riches appear to me to have been a jest, since those which they might have used honourably, they hastened to abuse disgracefully? But no less a desire of wantoning, gluttony, and other fashion had come on, women exhibited their shame in the open air, for the sake of feasting they ransacked every place by sea and land, and slept before there was any desire of sleep, they waited not for hunger nor thirst, nor cold nor fatigue, but anticipated all these things through their luxury. These things inflamed the youth, when their property had failed, to crimes: the mind when stained by evil practices was not easily free from lusts, and so was the more entirely given up in every way to getting and spending.
In so great and so wicked a city, Catiline—a thing which was most easy to be done—had crowds of all the most wicked and abandoned men like so many body guards about his person; for every libertine, adulterer, glutton, who had ruined his patrimony by the dice, by his hand, his gluttony, or his debauchery, and he who had contracted large debts in order that he might atone for his wickedness and crime; all parricides moreover, from every quarter, and sacrilegious persons, either convicted in the courts, or fearing condemnation for their crimes; to this, those whom their hand and tongue nourished by perjury and the blood of citizens; and lastly, all whom wickedness, want, or a guilty conscience distracted, these were Catiline’s nearest and intimate friends. But if even any innocent person had fallen into friendship with him, by daily intercourse and wheedling he was easily made a match for, and equal to, the rest; but most of all, he sought the friendship of young men. Their minds soft and pliable by reason of their age were easily caught by his stratagems; for as the taste of each, according to his age, was inflamed, to some he furnished harlots, for others he bought horses and dogs: finally, he spared neither expense nor his own shame, provided he could make them his dependants and faithful to him. I know that there were some who were of this opinion, that the youth which used to frequent Catiline’s house were not at all nice as regards their chastity; but this report prevailed rather from other circumstances than because it had been proved by any person.
Catiline himself had, when a young man, already been engaged in several shameless intrigues with a noble virgin, and a priestess of Vesta, and other practices of the same kind, contrary to the law of man and God. At last being taken with love for Aurelia Orestilla, no quality of whom except her beauty a good man ever praised, because she hesitated to marry him, fearing his son who was grown up, it is believed for a certainty that, having murdered his son, he made his house at liberty for the wicked nuptials, which thing indeed appears to me to have been especially the cause of his hastening his crime; for his impure soul, hostile to God and man, could neither be rested either by waking or sleeping, so did his conscience disturb his troubled mind: therefore his colour was pale, his eyes ghastly, his walk sometimes quick and sometimes slow—in a word, madness was in his appearance and countenance.
But the youth, which as we said before he had seduced, he taught many crimes by various ways; from among them he used to furnish witnesses and false signers, and instructed them to consider their honour, their fortunes, and their dangers, as of no moment. Afterwards, when he had worn down their credit and modesty, he used to order them to commit other greater crimes, and if for the present any opportunity for sinning did not easily present itself, they circumvented and murdered the innocent, just as if they were guilty, and lest forsooth from having nothing to do their hands or their mind should grow inactive, he was rather wantonly wicked and cruel. Catiline confiding in these friends and accomplices because at the same time there was much debt every where, and because most of Sylla’s soldiers, having used their property too lavishly, being mindful of their spoils and their ancient victory, were longing for a civil war entered into design for destroying the republic. In Italy there was no army, Cneius Pompey was carrying on war in the most distant lands, he himself had great hope of obtaining the consulship, the senate was in no ways attentive, all things were safe and tranquil, but all these things were very favourable to Catiline.
Therefore about the kalends of January, Lucius Cæsar and Caius Figulus being consuls, he first of all addressed his accomplices severally, exhorted some, others he tried, and showed them his own strength, the unprepared republic, the great rewards of the conspiracy. When those things which he wished had been sufficiently explored, he collects all those together to whom there was the greatest want and the most daring. Thither there assembled of the senatorian rank, Publius Lentulus Sura, Publius Autronius, Lucius Cassius Longinus, Caius Cethegus, Publius, and Servius, the sons of Sulla Servius, Lucius Vargunteius, Quintus Annius, Marcius Porcius Læcca, Lucius Bestia, and Quintus Curius. Besides these, of equestrian rank, Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, Lucius Statilius, Publius Gabinius Capito, and Caius Cornelius. In addition, many from the colonies and borough towns at home, men of noble birth. There were, moreover, a many more noblemen, rather more secretly sharers in the plot, whom the hope of power rather than poverty or any other necessity excited. But most of the youth, especially that of the nobility, was favourable to Catiline’s undertakings. Those, to whom there was every facility to live either magnificently or luxuriously in peace, preferred uncertainty to certainty, and war to peace. There were also some at that time who believed that Marcius Licinius Crassus was not ignorant of that design; and because Cneius Pompey, an enemy to him, was leading a great army, he wished that the influence of any person whatever should increase in opposition to this man’s power. At the same time he trusted, if the conspirators succeeded, that he would easily be the leader amongst them. But before this time also, a few men, amongst whom was Catiline, had conspired against the state, concerning which matter I shall speak as truly as I shall be able.
In the consulship of Lucius Tullius and Marcus Lepidus, Publius Autronius and Publius Sulla consuls elect having been prosecuted by the laws of bribery, had suffered punishment. Some little time after, Catiline, being convicted of extortion, was forbidden to stand for the consulship, because he could not express his intention within the time fixed by law. There was at the same time Cneius Piso, a noble youth, of the greatest boldness, poor, factious; whom his want and bad morals stimulated to disturb the republic. With him, Catiline and Autronius, the plan being communicated about the nones of December, prepared to slay Lucius Cotta and Lucius Torquatus, the consuls, on the kalends of January; while they themselves having seized the fasces, should send Piso with an army to obtain the two Spains. This plot being discovered, they again put off the plan for the murder to the nones of February. And then, not only for the consuls but for most of the senators, did they plan destruction. And had not Catiline been too hasty to give the signal to his friends before the senate house on that day, the most horrid deed would have been committed since the building of Rome. But as these had not yet collected a sufficient number of armed conspirators, this thing prevented their plot.
Afterwards Piso was sent as quæstor instead of prætor into the nearer Spain by the interest of Crassus, because he knew him to be an enemy to Cneius Pompey. Nor indeed did the senate give him the province unwillingly, inasmuch as they wished a wicked man to be far removed from the state; as also because many good men thought there was protection in him, and at that time the power of Cneius Pompey was formidable. But this Piso, while marching to the province, was slain by some Spanish horse whom he was commanding in his army. There are some who say that the barbarians could not endure his unjust, proud, and cruel commands. But others say that those horsemen, ancient and faithful clients of Cneius Pompey, attacked Piso with his consent. The Spaniards had never at any other time committed such a crime, but had before endured many cruel commands. We will leave this matter undecided, and of this former conspiracy enough has been said.
Catiline, when he saw those whom I have a little above named met together, although he had often treated much with them singly, yet believing it would be useful to address and exhort them collected together, retired into a secret part of his house, and there, all witnesses being far distant, delivered an harangue to this effect:—“If your virtue and honour were not sufficiently known to me, an opportunity would in vain have fallen out, and an excellent hope of dominion would in vain have been in your power; nor would I through sloth or a vain mind prefer uncertain things to certain. But because at many and important times I have found you brave and faithful to me, my mind has therefore determined to commence a very great and noble undertaking; at the same time because I am well aware that those same things are good and evil to you and myself; for to wish the same thing, and to shun the same thing, that in a word is certain friendship. But you have already before this at different times heard what I have agitated in my mind. But my mind is daily more inflamed, when I reflect what will be our condition of life unless we assert ourselves our claims to freedom. For since the state fell into the power and hands of a few powerful men, to them always belonged kings and tributary tetrarchs, to them people and nations paid tribute; all we the rest, active and brave, noble and ignoble, were reckoned by a mob; without interest, without authority, we were slaves to those to whom, were the state in its right health, we should be subjects of dread. Therefore all interest, power, honour, and riches are in their hands, or where they choose; to us they have left dangers, disappointments, law suits, and poverty. How long, then, most brave men will ye endure these things?
“Is it not better to die with valour than lose with disgrace a miserable and disgraceful life, when you are the laughing stock for another man’s pride? But in truth—Oh the faith of gods and men!—victory is in our hands, our age is young, our mind strong; on the other hand, through their age and riches, all things have grown old to them. We have only need of a beginning, all other things the affair itself will make plain. But in truth what person who has the mind of a man can bear that they should have such an excess of money, which they lavish in banking out the sea, and levelling mountains, but that to us there should be wanting even money enough for the necessities of life? That they should join two houses together apiece or more, but that we should nowhere have a household hearth? When they buy paintings, statues, carved works, pull down some places, build others, and lastly in every way gather money, and oppress us, and yet they are unable even with the greatest luxury to spend their wealth. But we have at home—poverty, abroad—debt; a poor estate but much worse hope. In a word, what have we left except a wretched existence? Awake then at length—behold that liberty, that liberty which ye have so often desired; nay besides, riches, honour, and glory are placed before your eyes; fortune has given all these as rewards to the conquerors. Let the affair itself, the time, danger, want, the magnificent spoils of war, exhort you more than my speech. Use me either as a commander or soldier, neither my mind nor my body shall be absent from you. These very things I hope as consul I shall accomplish together with you, unless by chance my mind deceives me, and you are ready rather to be slaves than to command.”
After the men heard these things, who had all evils in abundance, but neither property nor any good hope; although it appeared to them great gain to disturb what was at rest, yet most of them demanded that he should set forth what was the state of the war, what advantages they were to seek by their arms, what strength or hope they had every where. Then Catiline promised them a cancelling of all past debts, a proscription of the rich offices, priesthoods, and all things else which war and the licence of conquerors produce. Moreover, he said, that Piso was in the nearer Spain, and Publius Sitius Nucerinus in Mauitania with an army, both partners in his design; that Caius Antonius sought the consulship, whom he hoped to have for his colleague, a man who was both his intimate friend and bound by all ties to him; and that he himself when consul would with him make a beginning of action. To this, he chastised all good men with reproaches, and naming each one of his own party, one he praised, another he put in mind of his poverty, another of his desire, most of them of their danger or shame, and many of Sulla’s victory, to whom that had been for a booty. After that he sees the mind of all prepared, having exhorted them to take care of his election, he dismissed the assembly.
There were at that time some who said that Catiline, after having delivered his speech, when he had bound the partners of his guilt to an oath, handed round in goblets blood of a human body mixed with wine; then when, after a curse, all had tasted of it, as is the custom to be done at solemn sacrifices, he disclosed his plan, and said he had so done in order that they might be more faithful one among another, each being accomplice with the other in so great a design. But some thought that both these things and many others were made up by those who believed that the odium against Cicero, which afterwards arose, might be abated by the atrocity of their wickedness who had suffered punishment. In my opinion this charge, considering its importance, is not sufficiently proved.
But in this conspiracy was engaged Quintus Curius, descended from no mean house, overwhelmed with crimes and wickedness, whom the censors for the sake of disgrace had removed from the senate. In this man there was no less vanity than audacity; he neither had any care to conceal what he had heard, nor to conceal his own crimes, nor in short what he said or did. He had a long habit of intrigue with Fulvia, a noble lady, to whom when he became less agreeable because through his poverty he was less able to make her presents, beginning all on a sudden to boast, he promised her seas and mountains, and sometimes threatened her with the sword if she would not submit to him. Last of all he began to behave more fiercely than he was accustomed; but Fulvia, the cause of Curius’ insolence being found out, did not keep secret such a danger to the republic, but the name of her informer being suppressed, told to many persons what things she had heard, and how she had heard them, concerning Catiline’s conspiracy. This thing especially inflamed the desires of men to commit the consulship to Marcus Tullius Cicero; for before this, most of the nobility used to boil with envy, and believed that the consulship was as it were polluted, if any person of low birth, however excellent he might be, had obtained it. But when danger arrived, envy and pride were secondary considerations.
Therefore the election being held, Marcus Tullius and Caius Antonius are declared consuls, which thing first gave a shock to the accomplices in the conspiracy. The madness however of Catiline was not abated, but every day he was engaged in more designs; he prepared arms in suitable places through Italy, and sent money borrowed on his own credit or that of his friends to Fæsulæ to a certain Manlius, who afterwards was the first beginner of making the war. He is said at that time to have brought over to himself many men of every kind, and some women also who had at first supported their great extravagance by prostitution, but who, when age had put an end to their gain, but not to their luxury, had contracted large debts. By means of them Catiline thought that he could engage the city slaves to fire the city, and either to draw over their husbands to join him or murder them.
But amongst these was Sempronia who had often committed many actions of a man’s spirit. This woman was sufficiently happy in her extraction and person, as also in her husband and children. In Greek and Latin literature she was skilled, could play upon any instrument and dance more elegantly than any honest woman need do, and in several other things which are instruments in luxury she was well skilled. But every thing was dearer to her than decency and chastity. You could with difficulty decide whether she was less sparing of her money or her reputation. She was so inflamed with lust that she more frequently made advances to men than they to her. She had often before this betrayed secrets, abjured what had been trusted to her, had been an accomplice in murder, and through her luxury and poverty had gone on headlong. But her talents were by no means despicable. She could make verses, start a jest, make use of language either modest, soft, or wanton. In a word, there was in her much wit and much facetiousness.
These preparations having been got together, Catiline nevertheless canvassed for the consulship for the next year, hoping that if he should be elected he could easily make use of Antony according to his pleasure. Nor in the meanwhile was he quiet, but in every way was preparing snares for Cicero; nor were there wanting to him cunning and dexterity to beware of him; for from the commencement of his consulship, by promising many things through Fulvia, he had contrived that Quintus Curius, of whom I have just before spoken, should betray the counsels of Catiline to him. Besides this he had engaged his colleague Antony, by the promise of a province, not to entertain thoughts against the state, and secretly maintained around himself guards of friends and clients. When the day of the assembly came, and neither Catiline’s suit nor the snares which he had made for the consul turned out well, he determined to make war and to try the utmost extremity, since those devices which he had recently tried had turned out crossly and unfavourably.
Accordingly he sent away Caius Manlius to Fæsulæ and to that part of Etruria, one Septimius Camers into the territory of Picenum, and Caius Julius into Apulia, other persons besides to other places, as he thought each might be most useful to his design. In the mean time he was planning many things at Rome at the same time, and was preparing snares for the consul, fires for the city, and filling proper places with armed men. He himself continually wore a sword, and recommended others to do the same, and exhorted them to be always ready and prepared for action. Day and night he was in a hurry, was always wakeful, and fatigued neither by his want of rest nor his labour. Last of all, when to him busy about many things nothing turned out well, he again in the dead of night summonsed the chiefs of the conspiracy through M. Porcius Læcca, and there having complained much of their inactivity, he informs them that he had sent Manlius before him to the force he had prepared to take up arms, as also other persons to other suitable places, who should make a beginning of the war, and that he himself was desirous to go to the army if he could first destroy Cicero, for he very much impeded his designs.
Therefore all the rest being frightened and hesitating, Caius Cornelius, a Roman knight, having promised his assistance, and with him Lucius Vargunteius, a senator, determined that very night in a few hours after to enter Cicero’s house with armed men as if to salute him, and then on a sudden to stab him all unprepared in his own house. Curius, when he understands how much danger is hanging over the consul, with speed tells to Cicero, by means of Fulvia, the plot which was prepared; so they being denied admittance undertook to no purpose so great a crime. In the meanwhile Manlius was stirring up the common people in Etruria, ripe for an insurrection from their poverty, as well as their resentment of the injustice done them, because by the tyranny of Sulla they had lost their lands and all their goods, as well as robbers of every kind, of whom there was great abundance in that country, some also of Sulla’s colonists to whom lust and luxury had left nothing of their great booty.
When these things were told to Cicero, being moved by the double danger because he could neither any longer by his own private plans defend the city from the plots, nor had he any certain account how large was the army of Manlius, or with what intention it was levied, he refers the matter to the senate, which was already before this become the common talk of the town. Therefore, as is generally the custom on any critical occasion, the senate decreed “That the consuls should do their best that the republic should receive no injury.” This is the greatest authority that is given by the senate to any magistrate by the custom of the state, namely to levy an army to carry on war, to restrain in all ways allies and citizens, and both at home and abroad to have the supreme power and authority. Otherwise, without the people’s order, for none of these things has the consul any authority.
A few days after L. Senius, a senator, read a letter in the senate house, which he said was brought him from Fæsulæ by Quintus Fabius, in which it was written, that Caius Manlius had taken up arms with a large force, on the sixth of the kalends of November. At the same time, as is wont in such a case, others brought accounts of portents and prodigies, others that assemblies were held, arms carried about, and that at Capua and in Apulia a servile war was being excited. Therefore by a decree of the senate, Quintus Marcius Rex was sent to Fæsulæ, Quintus Metellus Creticus to Apulia, and the places thereabouts, both of whom were commanders close to the city, being prevented from having a triumph by the calumny of a few to whom it was the custom to sell every thing both honourable and dishonourable. But the prætors, Quintus Pompeius Rufus, and Quintus Metellus Celer were sent to Capua, and to the territory of Picenum; and to them orders were given to levy an army according to the exigency of the time and the danger. Besides this, if any one should give information of the conspiracy which was made against the state, they offered a reward, to a slave his freedom and a hundred sestertia; to a free man pardon for the crime and two hundred sestertia; they likewise decreed, that the bands of gladiators should be distributed in Capua and the other borough towns according to the resources of each place; that at Rome guards should be kept through all the city, and that the inferior officers should preside over them.
By which things the state was moved, and the appearance of the city changed; from the greatest joy and luxury which a long quiet had produced, on a sudden sadness came over all; they were all in a bustle and trembling, and neither sufficiently trusted any man or any place, neither could they carry on war or keep peace. Every one measured the dangers by his own fear. Besides this, women, on whom by reason of the grandeur of the state a dread of war had come to which they were unaccustomed, began to bemoan themselves, extend their suppliant hands to heaven, bewailed their little children, made constant enquiries, were afraid of every thing, and their pride and luxury being put aside, distrusted themselves and their country. But the cruel mind of Catiline pursued the same things, although guards were prepared and he himself had been impeached upon the Plautian law by Lucius Paulus. At last, for the sake of dissembling, and as if for clearing himself just as if he had been through some quarrel attacked, he came into the senate house. Then Marcus Tullius, the consul, either fearing his presence, or thus fired with resentment, delivered a fine oration and useful to the republic, which when it had been committed to writing he afterwards published.
But when he sat down, Catiline, as he was prepared to dissemble every thing, with a downcast face and suppliant voice, begged of the fathers not to believe hastily every thing concerning him; that he was sprung from such a family, and had so led his life from his youth, that he had a right to expect every thing. He begged them not to think that there was any need of a ruined republic to him a patrician, who had himself as well as his ancestors done many services for the people of Rome, whilst Marcus Tullius, who was but a tenant of the city of Rome, stood up as its preserver. In addition to this, when he had added other reproaches, they all raised an outcry against him, and called him enemy and parricide. Then he in great anger exclaimed, “Since indeed I am surrounded and driven headlong by my enemies, I will extinguish my fires by their ruin.”
Then he hurried home from the senate house. There, revolving many things in his own mind that neither his snares for the consul had been successful, and that he was aware that the city was secured from fire by watches, and believing that the best thing to be done was to increase his army, and before the legions should be enrolled, to seize beforehand many places which would be advantageous for the war, he set of at midnight with a few attendants for Manlius’ camp. But he commands Cethegus and Lentulus, and others, whose boldness he knew was ever ready, by whatever means they could to strengthen the forces of their faction, and hasten snares for the consul, and prepare slaughter, fire, and other acts of war. That he himself would come immediately with a large army to the city.
Whilst these things are being carried on at Rome, Caius Manlius sends some of his lieutenants to Quintus Marcius Rex with commands to this effect:—“We call gods and men to witness, general, that we have neither taken up arms against our country, nor in order that we should cause danger to others, but that our bodies should be safe from injury; we who in misery, in want by the violence and cruelty of our creditors, are most of us stripped of our country, but all of us of our credit and our fortunes. Nor is it allowed any of us, after the manner of ancestors, to have the benefit of the law, nor when we have lost our patrimony to have our person free, so great has been the cruelty of our creditors and the prætor. Our ancestors have frequently, from pity for the common people of Rome, relieved its wants by their decrees. And very lately, in our own memory, in consequence of the greatness of debt, by the wish of every good man, brass was made to pass for silver, weight by weight. The common people themselves have often, either excited by a desire for power, or armed through the pride of magistrates, seceded from the fathers. But we neither seek power nor riches, for the sake of which things wars and contests arise among men, but liberty, which no brave man loses but with his life. Thee and the senate we call to witness, that you should consult for us wretched citizens, restore the safeguard of the law which the iniquity of the prætor has taken away, and not lay upon us the necessity to seek how we may die, having avenged our blood as much as possible.”
To this Q. Marcius made answer, “If they wished to ask any thing from the senate, they should lay down their arms, and go as suppliants to Rome. That the senate and people of Rome had always been of so mild and merciful a disposition, that no one ever asked assistance from them in vain.” But Catiline in his journey sends letters to most of those of consular dignity, as well as to every most eminent person. That he, surrounded by false accusations, as he was unable to oppose the faction of his enemies, had yielded to fortune, and was gone into exile to Marseilles. Not that he was conscious to himself of so great a crime, but in order that the senate might be undisturbed, and that no sedition might arise from his struggles. A letter very different from this Quintus Catulus read in the senate house, which he said was delivered to him in Catiline’s name. A copy of it is given below.
“Lucius Catiline to Quintus Catulus, greeting. Your extraordinary honour, known to me by experience, and grateful to me, has given confidence to my recommending to you my cause in great dangers. Wherefore I have determined not to prepare a defence in these new measures, but have decided to express my satisfaction at no consciousness of any crime. Which on my honour you may know with me to be true. Provoked by injuries and insults, because being deprived of the fruit of my labour and industry, I did not obtain the degree of my dignity, I undertook the public cause of the wretched according to my custom. Not but that I could have been able to pay the debt incurred on my own account out of my own estate, when that incurred for others the liberality of Orestilla would have paid out of her own and her daughter’s estate. But because I saw unworthy men exalted by honours, and myself I saw was set aside by a false suspicion, on this showing I have, considering my circumstances, pursued means honourable enough for the preservation of the remaining dignity left me. More when I was desirous to write, news was brought me that force is being prepared against me. Now I commend Orestilla to you, and entrust her to your honour. Defend her from danger, being conjured by thy children. Farewell.”
But he himself having delayed a few days with Caius Flaminius in the territory of Reate, while he is furnishing with arms the neighbourhood before excited, marches with the fasces and the other ensigns of command to Manlius to the camp. When these things were known at Rome, the senate votes Catiline and Manlius enemies, and fixes a day for the rest of the troops, within which they might safely lay down their arms, except such as had been condemned for capital crimes. They decree moreover that the consuls should hold a levy, that Caius Antonius should hasten to follow Catiline with an army, and Cicero should be the protection of the city. The empire of the Roman people at that time seemed to me to be in far the most miserable condition, whose arms, when all things being subdued from the rising to the setting of the sun, obeyed, and when at home ease and riches, which men consider the chiefest things, were flowing in; there were nevertheless citizens who were obstinately bent on destroying themselves and the state. For notwithstanding the two decrees of the senate, out of so great a multitude neither did any one, induced by the reward, unfold the conspiracy, nor did any one of them all depart from Catiline’s camp. So great a force of disease, and as it were an infection, had come upon the minds of most of the citizens.
Nor were their minds only alienated who had been concerned in the conspiracy, but the whole of the common people entirely, through desire for a revolution, approved of the designs of Catiline. This they thus appeared to do according to the custom. For always in a state, they who have no property envy the good, extol the bad, hate old things, long for what is new; through hatred of their own affairs they are anxious for all things to be changed, and without any care to themselves are nourished by disturbance and sedition, since their poverty is easily borne without any loss to themselves. But the common people of the city for many causes went on headlong; first of all they who were everywhere most distinguished for disgrace and wantonness, others also who had lost their patrimony by their crimes, and last of all, all those whom their wickedness or villany had forced from their homes; these flocked to Rome as to a common sewer. Again, many mindful of Sulla’s success, because they had seen some of the common soldiers made senators, and others so enriched that they passed their life in royal living and apparel, every one of them, I say, provided he were in arms, hoped for such things from his success. The youth moreover, who by the labour of their hands had borne up with poverty in the country, being excited by public and private bribery, preferred ease in the town to unpleasant labour. These and all others the republic’s trouble nourished. Wherefore it is the less to be wondered, that needy men of bad morals but the greatest hopes, should act for the republic as they did for themselves. Moreover those men whose fathers had been proscribed by Sulla’s success, and whose goods had been stolen and their rights curtailed, awaited the issue of the war with no other feelings. In addition to this, whoever were of a different party to the senate, chose that the republic should be thrown into confusion rather than they themselves should be less powerful; and thus evil, after many years, returned to the state.
For after that, when Cneius Pompey and Marcius Crassus were consuls, the tribunitian power was restored, young men having obtained the highest dignity, and whose age and spirit were fierce, began by criminating the senate, to excite the common people, and then by bribing and promising, to influence them more, and so they became themselves illustrious and powerful. Against them most of the nobility struggled with all their power under pretence of helping the senate for their own aggrandisement; for to tell the truth in a few words, whoever at that time agitated the state under plausible pretences, some as if they were defending the rights of the people, and others in order that the power of the senate might be increased, these, I say, feigning the public good, contended each one for his own interest; neither had they any modesty or bounds to their contention. Both parties made a cruel use of their victory.
But when Cneius Pompey was sent to the maritime and Mithridatic wars, the power of the common people was diminished, while that of the few increased. These held the offices, provinces, and all other things. They themselves passed their lives unhurt, flourishing, and without fear, and terrified the rest by prosecutions, in order that while in office they might more easily manage the common people. But as soon as any hope of a revolution was offered, the old struggle exalted their minds. And if Catiline had in the first battle come off conqueror, or with equal advantage, straightway a great slaughter and calamity would have overwhelmed the republic. Nor would it have been permitted to those who had gained the victory any longer to enjoy it, but whoever had the greatest power would have forced from them, worn out and half dead, empire and liberty.
There were however several, besides those in the conspiracy, who at first went over to Catiline. Amongst them was Aulus Fulvius, the son of a senator, whom, when he was brought back from his journey, his father ordered to be killed. At the same time Lentulus at Rome, either by himself or by others, was tampering with whomever he believed either through their morals or fortunes to be disposed for a revolution; and not citizens only, but any kind of men whatsoever, provided only they would be of any service in the war.
Therefore he employs a certain Publius Umbrenus to seek out the ambassadors of the Allobroges, and induce them, if he can, to take a share in the war; thinking that as they were both publicly and privately embarrassed by debt, and moreover as the race of the Gauls was naturally warlike, they could easily be drawn into such a design. Umbrenus, because he had traded in Gaul, was known to most of the chiefs of the states, and knew them. Therefore without delay, as soon as he saw the ambassadors in the forum, having enquired a few things about the condition of their state, and as if pitying its misfortune, he began to enquire what end they expected to such great evils? When he saw them complain of the avarice of the magistrates and accuse the senate, because there was no assistance in that body, and that they looked for death as a cure to their miseries. “But I,” he said, “will show you a way if you are only men, by which ye may escape these so great evils.” When he said these things, the Allobroges being raised to the greatest hope prayed Umbrenus to pity them. There was nothing so harsh or so difficult which they would not most gladly do, provided that they could free their state from debt. He leads them to the house of Decimus Brutus, because it was near the forum, and not averse to the plot through Sempronia. For Brutus was at that time absent from Rome. Moreover he sends for Gabinius, in order that there might be greater weight to his discourse. When he arrived he unfolds the conspiracy, names the accomplices, as well as many others of every rank who were not concerned with it, in order that the ambassadors might have the greater confidence. Then having promised them his assistance he sends them away home.
But the Allobroges were a long time in doubt what counsel to take. On the one hand were their debts, their desire for war, and great advantage in their anticipated victory. But on the other, greater benefits to themselves, safe counsels, certain rewards instead of uncertain hope. As they revolved these things, at last the fortune of the republic prevailed. Therefore they discover the whole affair as they had heard it to Quintus Fabius Sanga, whose protection their state much used. Cicero, the plot being discovered to him by Sanga, advises the ambassadors to pretend a violent zeal for the conspiracy, get into the society of the rest, and make large promises, and do their best to detect them as clearly as possible.
About the same time, there was a commotion in Hither and Further Gaul, as also in the territory of Picenum, Bruttium, and Apulia. For they whom Catiline had before despatched, immediately, and as it were madly, set about every thing at once. By nightly assemblies, by the carriage of arms and weapons, by hastening and agitating every thing they had caused more fear than real danger.
Many out of their number, Quintus Metellus Celer, the prætor, authority being given him by advice of the senate, had cast into bonds, as also did Caius Muræna in Hither Gaul, who as lieutenant presided over that province.
But at Rome Lentulus, with the rest who were the ringleaders of the conspiracy, great forces as it appeared being prepared, determined that when Catiline had come with his army to the country of Fæsulæ, Lucius Bestia, the tribune of the people, an assembly being called, should complain of the actions of Cicero, and throw upon that most excellent consul the odium of a most unpleasant war, and that upon this signal, the night following, the rest of the conspiracy should every one follow up the proper part assigned them. But these parts were said to be thus divided. That Statilius and Gabinius, with a large band, should fire twelve points of the city most favourable for their purpose all at once, by which confusion an easier access might be obtained to the consul and the rest against whom snares were prepared. Cethegus was to seize Cicero’s gates, and violently attack him, and the rest were to do the same to others. But the sons of noble families, and of whom there was a very large number from amongst the nobility, were to slay their fathers, and at once, when all were panic struck by slaughter and fire, to sally out to Catiline. Whilst these things were prepared and determined, Cethegus was ever complaining of the sloth of his friends, that they by hesitating and putting off the day, lost great opportunities; that there was need of action not of debate in such a danger. And that he, if a few would assist him, would, while the rest were sleeping, make an attack upon the senate house. He was naturally fierce, vehement, and ready with his hand, and thought that the greatest hope of success depended upon their activity.
But the Allobroges, according to the advice of Cicero, meet the rest by means of Gabinius; and demand an oath from Lentulus, Cethegus, Statilius, and also Cassius, which they may carry home when sealed to their fellow citizens; otherwise they could not easily be brought to so great an undertaking. The rest suspecting nothing give it. Cassius promises that he himself would go thither in a short time, and a little before the messengers, sets out from the city; Lentulus sends with them one Titus Volturcius of Crotona, that the Allobroges, before they reached home, having given and received faith, should confirm their alliance with Catiline. He himself gives to Volturcius a letter for Catiline, a copy of which is given below. “Who I am, you will learn from him whom I have sent to you. Consider in how great a calamity you are, and remember that you are a man. Consider what your cause requires. Seek assistance from all, even from the lowest.” In addition to this he gives a verbal command to ask, “With what view, as he was pronounced an enemy by the senate, he was refusing the assistance of the slaves? That in the city all things were ready which he had ordered; he himself ought no longer to delay to advance neither.”
These things being thus done, and the night fixed on which they were to depart, Cicero being informed of every thing by means of the ambassadors, commands Lucius Valerius Flaccus, and Caius Pomtinus, the prætors, to apprehend by means of an ambush the party of the Allobroges on the Mulvian bridge. He explains the whole affair for which they were despatched. Every thing else they were to do as the occasion required. These soldiers, having placed guards without any bustle, as it was ordered them, secretly watch the bridge. Afterwards when the ambassadors, together with Volturcius, arrived at that place, a clamour arose on both sides at the same time. The Gauls, the plan being quickly understood, without delay deliver themselves to the prætors. Volturcius at first, having exhorted the rest defends himself with his sword from the multitude; then when he was deserted by the ambassadors, having first much besought Pomtinus for his life, because he was known to him, and then fearful and despairing of life, he delivered himself to the prætors as if they had been enemies.
Which things being done, all is immediately declared to the consul by messengers. But him great concern as well as joy seized at the same time. He was delighted as he reflected that by the discovery of the conspiracy the state was delivered from danger; but he was on the other hand uncertain, when so great citizens were detected in the greatest villany, what he ought to do; and he believed that to punish them would be odium to himself, and to let them off would be the ruin of the state. Therefore having made up his mind, he commands Lentulus, Cethegus, Statilius, Gabinius, and also Cæparius of Terracina, who was preparing to set out for Apulia to excite the slaves, to be summoned before him. The rest came without delay. Cæparius having gone from home a little before, when the discovery was known, fled from the city. The consul himself holding Lentulus by the hand, because he was prætor, leads him into the senate house, the rest he orders to come with their guards to the temple of Concord. Thither he summons the senate, and there being a large attendance of that rank, he introduces Volturcius with the ambassadors, and orders Flaccus the prætor to bring to the same place a desk together with the letters which he had received from the ambassadors.
Volturcius being questioned about his journey and the letters, and lastly what intention he had or whence it arose, at first pretended every thing but the truth, and dissembled about the conspiracy; afterwards being bidden to speak on the faith of the state, he discovers all things as they had been carried on, and informs them that he himself a few days before had been drawn in as a partner by Gabinius and Cæparius; that he knew nothing more than the ambassadors, he only used to hear from Gabinius that Publius Autronius, Servius Sulla, Lucius Vargunteius, and others besides were in the conspiracy. The Gauls confess the same things. But they convict Lentulus who was pretending ignorance over and above the letters, by the language which he was wont to use, namely, that by the Sibylline books the command of Rome was fated to three Cornelii; that Cinna and Sulla had already held it, and that he himself was the third to whom it was fated to enjoy the city. Moreover that this was the twentieth year from the burning of the Capitol, which the haruspices had often from prodigies declared would be stained by a civil war. Therefore the letters having been read, when previously all had acknowledged their seals, the senate decrees that Lentulus having abdicated his office, and likewise the rest, should be kept in honourable custody. Accordingly Lentulus is delivered up to Publius Lentulus Spinther who was the ædile, Cethegus to Quintus Cornificius, Statilius to Caius Cæsar, Gabinius to Marcus Crassus, and Cæparius, for he had been fetched back a little before from his flight, to Cneius Terentius a senator.
In the meanwhile the common people, the conspiracy being detected, who at first through desire of novelty had too much favoured the war, their minds being changed, began to curse the designs of Catiline, and extol Cicero to the skies, and as if snatched from slavery were exhibiting all joy and gladness. For other acts of war they thought might turn out more for their advantage than injury, but cruel incendiarism would be boundless and most calamitous to them, as they were men, all of whose substance rested in their daily food and clothing. After this one Lucius Tarquinius was brought to the senate, who when going over to Catiline, they said was brought back from his journey. This men, when he said he could give information concerning the conspiracy if the public faith were given him, being commanded by the consul to speak out what he knew, informs the senate of almost the same things as Volturcius had done, concerning the snares that were prepared, the slaughter of the good, and the march of the enemies. Moreover that he had been sent by Marcus Crassus to tell Catiline not to let Lentulus and Cethegus and the others of the conspiracy who were detected terrify him, but that he should on that account the rather hasten to come nearer the city, in order both to encourage the minds of the rest, and that they might the more easily be rescued from the danger. But when Tarquinius named Crassus, a nobleman of the greatest riches and highest influence, some considering the thing impossible, others, although they thought it true, yet because at such a crisis the great power of the man seemed rather to be appeased than provoked, and the greater number being privately dependant upon Crassus, all these I say cry out that the informer was false, and demand that the question be put. Therefore by the advice of Cicero, a crowded house decides, that Tarquinius’s information seemed false, and that he ought to be kept in chains, nor any more have his liberty, except he should give information of that person by whose instigation he had forged that lie. There were at that time some who thought that that information had been hatched up by Publius Autronius, in order that he might the more easily by naming Crassus defend the rest, through his sharing in the danger, and by his power. Others said that Tarquin had been sent by Cicero, lest Crassus according to his custom having taken upon himself the defence of the bad might perplex the state. I afterwards heard Crassus himself declaring that so great an insult had been offered him by Cicero. But at the same time Quintus Catulus and Caius Piso neither by favour nor by entreaty could induce Cicero, that either by the Allobroges or any other informer should Caius Cæsar be falsely accused. For both of them had a grievous quarrel with him. Piso having been prosecuted by him in an action for damages, on account of the illegal punishment of a certain inhabitant beyond the Po. Catulus being inflamed by hatred against him ever since his standing for the priesthood, because in mature old age and having enjoyed the greatest honours he had retired beaten by Cæsar who was quite a young man. The affair however seemed probable because in private by his signal liberalty, and in public by his very large presents, he had incurred great debts. But as they are unable to bring the consul to such a piece of villany, they themselves by going about man by man and perverting those things which they said they had heard from Volturcius or the Allobroges, brought together much odium against him; to such a degree indeed, that some Roman knights, who for the sake of guard were under arms around the temple of Concord, either induced by the greatness of the danger or the generosity of their minds, in order that their zeal for the republic might be more conspicuous, threatened Cæsar as he came out of the senate with their swords.
Whilst these things are being carried on in the senate, and whilst rewards are being decreed to the ambassadors of the Allobroges and Titus Volturcius, their information being confirmed, some freed men and a few of the clients of Lentulus, by different ways, were exciting the workmen and slaves to rescue him. And in part they were seeking for the leaders of the populace, who for pay were accustomed to agitate the republic. But Cethegus by messengers prayed his slaves and freed men who were picked men and well trained for bold actions, to make a band and break into him with their arms. The consul when he knew that these things were prepared, having distributed guards as the matter and the time admonished him, and having summoned the senate, puts it to them what was then well to be done with regard to those who were committed to custody? But a little before a crowded senate had decided that they had acted against the republic. Then Decius Junius Brutus, being first asked his opinion, because he was then consul elect, concerning those who were kept in custody, and moreover concerning Lucius Cassius, Publius Furius, Publius Umbrenus, and Quintus Annius, should they be apprehended, voted that punishment should be taken upon them. And he being afterwards much influenced by the speech of Caius Cæsar said that he would vote for the resolution of Tiberius Nero, because he gave it as his opinion that when guards were added, the debate on that question should proceed. But Cæsar, when they came to him, being asked for his opinion by the consul spoke to this effect:—
“It becomes all men, O conscript fathers, who consult on doubtful affairs to be free from hatred, friendship, anger, and pity. The mind does not easily foresee the truth when these things stand in the way. Nor has any man living obeyed his passion and his interest together. When you have strung your mind then it is powerful. If passion possesses the mind, it rules, the mind has no power. I could bring a long list, O conscript fathers, of kings and nations who being excited by anger or pity have consulted badly. But I prefer to recount those things which our ancestors contrary to the passion of their minds have done rightly and orderly. In the Macedonian war which we waged with king Perses, the state of the Rhodians, great and magnificent, which had increased by the support of the Roman people, proved treacherous and hostile to us. But when the war being concluded, consultation was held concerning the Rhodians, our ancestors for fear any one should say that the war was undertaken rather for the sake of their riches than their insolence, let them off unpunished.
“Also in all the Carthaginian wars, when that people had constantly both in peace and during truces committed many wicked actions, our ancestors never did the same even though they might; and sought rather what was worthy of themselves than what might have been fairly practised against them. This also is to be provided by us, O conscript fathers, that the crime of Publius Lentulus and the rest many not have more weight with you than your dignity, and that you may not consult your anger more than your good name. For if a punishment equal to their crime can be found, I approve of this strange advice. But if the magnitude of the crime surpasses the invention of all, I think we must use those punishments which are provided by the laws. Most of those who have given their opinions before me, have elegantly and nobly bewailed the calamity of the state, and have enumerated what the cruelties of war are, and the things which happen to the conquered—that the virgins and boys are ravished, children torn from the embraces of their mothers, all which things are allowed the conquerors; the temples and houses are spoiled, slaughter and burning take place, and lastly all things are filled with blood and grief. But by the immortal gods, to what did that speech tend? Words forsooth will inflame him whom so great and so dreadful a crime did not move. It is not so. And to no man do his own injuries appear little. Many esteem them more than they ought. But different persons have different liberty, O conscript fathers. They who of humble birth pass their life in obscurity, if they commit any error through passion but few know it, their fame and their fortune are equal. They who possessed of great power pass their life in public, all men know their deeds. Thus in the greatest fortune there is the least licence allowed. Neither is party feeling nor hatred, and least of all anger becoming. That which with others is called anger, is in a high station called pride and cruelty. I for my part indeed am of this opinion, that all tortures are less than their crimes. But most men remember what is most recent, and in the case of villains, forgetting their crime, they talk only of their punishment, if that has been a little too severe. I know for certain, that Decius Silanus, a brave and zealous man, has spoken what he has from zeal for the state, and that he in a matter of so much importance neither feels favour or ill will. Such I know to be the disposition and such the moderation of the man. But his opinion appears to me not cruel indeed (for what can be cruel against such men?) but not agreeable to our state. For certainly either your fear or their injustice has induced you, Silanus, consul elect, to vote for a new kind of punishment. As to your fear it is superfluous to speak, especially since by the diligence of that most illustrious man, the consul, there are so many guards under arms. And as to the punishment, we may say indeed what is the truth; that in a state of mourning and misery, death is a deliverance from troubles, not a punishment; that puts an end to all human evils, beyond it there is room for neither sorrow nor joy. But by the immortal gods, why did you not add this to your opinion, that they should first be punished with stripes? Was it because the Porcian law forbids it? But other laws also command, not that life should be taken away from condemned citizens, but that exile should be allowed them. Is it because it is more grievous to be scourged than put to death? But what can be too bitter or severe against men convicted of so great a crime? But if it was because scourging is a lesser punishment, how comes it that you regard the law in a matter of less moment, when you have neglected it in a greater? But indeed who will find fault with what shall be determined upon against the unnatural murderers of the state? Time, the day, and fortune, whose good pleasure rules the nations. Whatever shall turn out will happen to them deservedly. But do you, conscript fathers, consider well what you resolve upon against others. All bad examples had their rise from good beginnings. But when power comes into the hands of ignorant or indifferent men, the new precedent is transferred from the worthy and proper to unworthy and improper men.
“The Lacedæmonians, when they had conquered the Athenians, set over them thirty men to manage the state. These at first began to kill uncondemned every worst man, and whoever was hated by all. With this the people were delighted, and said it was done rightly. Afterwards, when their license by degrees grew, they began to put to death just as they pleased the good and bad promiscuously, and struck the rest with fear. Thus the state being overwhelmed by slavery, suffered a dreadful punishment for their silly rejoicing.
“In our memory when the conqueror Sulla commanded Damasippus and others of that stamp, who had raised themselves by the ruin of their country, to be put to death, who did not praise his conduct? They said that wicked and factious men who had excited the republic by their seditions were deservedly put to death. But that circumstance was the beginning of great slaughter. For just as any man desired a man’s house or villa, and at last any piece of plate or garment, he did his best that he might be in the number of the proscribed. Thus they, to whom Damasippus’ death was a cause of joy, were soon after themselves hurried away to death; nor was there any end of this butchery, until Sulla glutted all his followers with riches. And yet I apprehend nothing like this in Marcus Tullius nor at this time. But in a mighty state there are many and various dispositions. At another time and by another consul, in whose hands there may be also an army, something false may be believed as true. And when upon this precedent, by a decree of the senate, the consul shall have drawn his sword, who shall fix bounds to him or who shall overrule him? Our ancestors, O conscript fathers, never wanted either counsel or courage. Nor did pride prevent them from copying the customs of others, provided they were valuable. Arms and military weapons they borrowed from the Samnites, and most of the ornaments of their magistrates from the Tuscans. In fine, whatever in any place either amongst their allies or their enemies appeared useful, that they followed up at home with the greatest zeal. But at that same time, imitating the custom of Greece they used to punish their citizens with stripes, and punish capitally the condemned. But when the state grew up and factions prevailed in a numerous people, the innocent were circumvented, and other things of this kind began to be done; then the Porcian law and other laws were provided, by which exile was allowed to the condemned.
“I then consider this as an especially substantial reason why we should not adopt any new plan. Forsooth there was greater virtue and wisdom in those who from so small resources produced so vast an empire, than in us who can scarcely keep what was well provided to our hands. Is it then my opinion that they should be discharged, and that the army of Catiline should be increased? By no means. But this is my opinion, that their property be confiscated, and they themselves kept in chains in the different boroughs, which are most powerful in their resources; and that no one should ever make a motion concerning them to the senate, nor intercede with the people. And if anyone acts differently, that the senate decree, that such a person intends to act against the state and the safety of all.”
After Cæsar had made an end of speaking, the rest in various ways, some to one and some to another gave assent to his speech. But Marcus Porcius Cato being asked his opinion delivered an oration to this effect.
“I am of quite a different opinion, O conscript fathers, when I consider our circumstances and danger, and when I revolve within myself the advice of some. They appear to me to have debated concerning the punishment of those who have prepared war against their country, their parents, their altars, and their own hearths. But the nature of the thing admonishes us rather to be on our guard against them, than to consult what we are to determine against them. For other crimes you may then punish when they are done, but unless you provide that this may not happen, when it does happen you will in vain ask the aid of justice. When the city is taken nothing is left to the conqueror. But by the immortal gods I call upon you who have always had more regard to your houses, villas, statues, and paintings than the republic, if these things, of whatever kind they are which ye are so fond of, you wish to retain, if you wish also to give time to your pleasures, awake at length and take in hand the republic. We are not now treating of the revenue of the state or the ill-usages of our allies; our liberty and our life are at stake. Often, O conscript fathers, I have spoken many words in this assembly. I have often complained of the luxury and avarice of our citizens, and for that reason I have adversaries. I who never showed any favour to myself or my mind for any fault, could not easily forgive the crimes of another’s lust. But although you valued these things at but a little, yet your republic was secure; our great opulence allowed some carelessness. Now however this is not at stake, whether we must live with good or bad morals, nor how great or how magnificent the empire of the Roman people may be; but whether these things, of whatever kind they seem to be, are to be ours, or together with ourselves in the power of the enemy.
“And does any one here talk to me of mildness and mercy? We have long since indeed lost the true names for things, because to give away other persons’ goods is called liberality; and boldness in wicked actions, fortitude; therefore the state is placed in the greatest extremity. Let them forsooth, since it is now the custom, be generous out of the fortunes of our allies; let them show pity to the plunderers of the treasury; let them not however present them with our blood, and whilst they spare a few villains go to destroy all good men. Well and elegantly has Caius Cæsar just spoken in this assembly concerning life and death; judging I believe those accounts to be false which are told about the infernal regions, that the bad are separated from the good, and inhabit nasty, inhospitable, filthy, and dismal places. Therefore he voted that their property should be confiscated, and they themselves kept throughout the boroughs in prison; for fear of course that if they were at Rome they might forcibly be rescued by their accomplices or a hired mob, just as if rascals and villains were only in the city, and not throughout the whole of Italy—or that audacity would not be more powerful there, where there were less means to oppose it. Wherefore this is indeed foolish advice if he fears danger from them; but if he is the only one who does not feel any apprehension in this great and general panic, it is therefore the more needful that I should have apprehensions for myself and for you.
“Wherefore when you shall decide concerning Lentulus and the rest, have this fact for certain, that ye are deciding at the same time concerning Catiline’s army and all the conspirators. The more vigorously you do these things, the more discouraged will their minds be. If they see you only for an instant unsettled, they will all immediately behave with ferocity. Do not think that our ancestors made the republic mighty from being small by their arms; if the case were so, we should then enjoy it most flourishing, since of allies and citizens, of arms moreover and horses, we have a larger stock than they had. But there were other things that made them great, none of which we have; industry at home, a just government abroad; minds fair and candid in debate, and neither slaves to error nor passion. Instead of these we have luxury and avarice, in public, poverty, in private, opulence; we praise riches and pursue idleness. Between the good and the bad there is no difference. All the rewards of virtue ambition possesses. Nor is it wonderful, (whilst you each of you severally take counsel for your own interest), when at home you are slaves to pleasure, here to money or favour: therefore it happens that an attack is made on the abandoned state. But I pass by these things. Citizens of the highest quality have conspired to burn their country, and invite to the war the nation of the Gauls, most hostile to the Roman name. The leader of the enemy is over our head with his army. Do you even now delay and hesitate what to do to enemies arrested within the walls? You should take pity on them I suppose. A few young men have made a mistake through their ambition, and you would even send them away with their arms. Truly that mildness and mercy, if they can get arms, will turn to your destruction. Yea that you do most thoroughly, but through sluggishness and feebleness of mind, one man waiting for one and another for another, ye are delaying, trusting I suppose to the immortal gods, who have frequently saved this state in the greatest dangers. But not by vows and womanish supplications is the aid of the gods procured. By watching, by action, by carefully counselling, all things turn out well. When you have given up yourself to sloth and idleness, you will in vain invoke the gods: they are angry and hostile to you. In the days of our ancestors, Aulus Manlius Torquatus commanded his own son to be put to death because he had fought against the enemy contrary to his orders.
“And that illustrious youth suffered punishment by his death for his ill-governed courage. Are you delaying what to decide against parricides? The rest of their life I suppose is at variance with this crime. But regard the dignity of Lentulus if he himself ever regarded his own chastity, good name, the gods, or men. Pardon the youth of Cethegus, if this be not the second time he has made war upon his country. For what shall I say of Gabinius, Statilius, and Cæparius, who if they had had any thought at all would never have entertained such projects against the state. Lastly, O conscript fathers, if there were in truth any room for misconduct, I could easily suffer you to be set right by the event, since you regard not words. But on every side we are surrounded. Catiline is pressing with an army in our very teeth. There are other enemies within the walls, and in the bosom of the city. Nothing can either be prepared or planned without their knowledge; wherefore we must use the greater expedition. Wherefore this is my opinion. Since by the wicked counsels of some abandoned citizens the state has come into the greatest danger, and these have been convicted by the testimony of Titus Volturcius and the ambassadors of the Allobroges, and have confessed that they have prepared slaughter, fire, and other foul and cruel deeds against their fellow citizens and their country, punishment is to be inflicted upon those who have confessed, as upon those who are manifestly guilty of capital crimes, according to the custom of our ancestors.”
After Cato sat down, all those of consular rank, as also a great part of the senate, praise his opinion, and extol the virtue of his mind to heaven. First one upbraiding one, and another another, call each cowards. Cato is pronounced illustrious and great. A decree of the senate is passed as he had voted. But by chance it was my desire, as I had read much and heard much of the noble actions which the Roman people had done at home and in war, by sea and by land, to consider attentively what thing most especially had supported such great affairs. I was aware that they had often with a small force fought with vast legions of the enemy. I knew too, that with small forces wars had been waged with rich kings; in addition to this, that they had often endured the violence of fortune; that in eloquence the Greeks, and in renown for war the Gauls, were before the Romans. And to me revolving many things in my mind, it was evident that the signal virtue of a few citizens did all, and therefore it came to pass, that poverty excelled riches, small numbers a multitude. But when the state was corrupted by luxury and sloth, yet still the republic by its own vastness sustained the vices of its commanders and magistrates, and just as in the case of a mother worn out, for a long time there was no one in truth at Rome distinguished for his virtue. But in my memory, there were two men of great virtue, but of different disposition, Marcus Cato and Caius Cæsar; whom, since the circumstances have brought them before our notice, it is not my intention to pass by in silence, so as not to enlarge upon, as well as my ability allows me, the natural dispositions and behaviour of each.
Accordingly their family, their age, and eloquence were almost alike. The greatness of their soul was equal, so also was their glory, but different in each. Cæsar was accounted great from his noble actions, and his munificence; Cato by his integrity of life. The former became renowned by mildness and mercy; to the latter his severity added dignity. Cæsar by giving, assisting, and pardoning; Cato, by bestowing nothing, gained glory. In the one there was refuge to the wretched, in the other destruction to the bad. The affability of the former, the constancy of the latter, was praised. Lastly, Cæsar had induced his mind to labour, to watch; intent on the business of his friends to neglect his own; to deny nothing that was worthy of a gift; for himself he desired a great command, an army, and a new war, where his valour might be conspicuous. But Cato’s line was for moderation, order, but most of all for strict discipline. He did not vie with the rich in riches, nor in faction with the factious, but in valour with the brave, in modesty with the modest, with the innocent in self-denial. He chose rather to be good than to seem so, and therefore the less he sought glory the more it followed him.
After the senate as I said went over to Cato’s opinion, the consul, thinking it the best way to take advantage of the night which was just at hand, lest any new plan should be adopted in the interval, bids the triumvirs prepare what things the punishment required. He himself having distributed guards, conducts Lentulus to prison. The same is done to the rest by the prætors. There is a place in the prison which is called Tullianum, when you have ascended a little to the left, sunk about twelve feet into the ground. Walls surround it on every side, and over it is a roof strengthened by stone arches; but it is filthy from neglect, darkness, and stench, and its appearance is horrible. As soon as Lentulus was lowered into this place, the executioner of capital offences, to whom it was commanded, broke his neck with a rope. Thus did that patrician, of the most illustrious family of the Cornelii, and who had held the dignity of consul at Rome, find an end to his life worthy of his manners and deeds. Punishment was inflicted on Cethegus, Statilius, Gabinius, and Cæparius in the same manner.
Whilst these things are being done at Rome, Catiline formed two legions out of all the force which he had himself led, and Manlius had, and makes up his cohorts according to the number of his men; and then just as any man came as a volunteer, or from his friends to the camp, he disposed of them equally among his troops, and in a short time made his legions full as to the number of men, though he had not at first more than two thousand men. But out of all this force about a fourth part was furnished with the arms of soldiers. The rest, just as chance had armed each, carried spears or lances, and some sharpened stakes. But when Antony came with his army, Catiline began to march through the mountains, and at one time moved his camp towards the city, another time towards Gaul, and gave no opportunity of fighting to the enemy. He hoped he should speedily have a vast army, if his friends should accomplish their attempts at Rome. In the meanwhile he refused the slaves, of whom at first great crowds flocked to him, relying on the strength of the conspiracy, at the same time thinking it inconsistent with his plans to appear to have mixed the interest of citizens with runaway slaves.
But when a messenger came into the camp, that the conspiracy was detected at Rome, and that punishment had been inflicted upon Lentulus, Cethegus and the rest whom I have mentioned above, many, whom hope of plunders or a desire for change had tempted to the war, slip away. The rest Catiline leads away into the territory of Pistorium by long marches through difficult mountains, with the intention of secretly flying through the narrow passes into Transalpine Gaul. But Quintus Metellus Celer with three legions was governor in the territory of Picenum, imagining that Catiline, from the great difficulty he was in, would do the very same things which we have just mentioned. Accordingly, as soon as he knew his march by some deserters, he hastily moved his camp, and took up his station under the very roots of the mountains, where must be his descent as he hastened into Gaul. Nor indeed was Antony far off, considering he was with a large army and along the lower country following as they fled men who had no baggage. But Catiline, when he saw himself surrounded by mountains and the forces of the enemy, that all was wrong in the city, and that there was no hope for flight or defence, thinking it best in such a case to try the fortune of war, determined to engage as soon as possible with Antony. Therefore having called an assembly, he delivered a speech to the following effect:—
“I consider it a thing proved, O soldiers, that words do not add bravery to men, nor that by the speech of its commander can an army become more active from being slothful, or brave from being cowardly. Just as much boldness as there is in any man’s spirit either by nature or disposition, so much is wont to be exhibited in war. Him whom neither glory nor dangers excite, you will in vain exhort. Fear stops up the ears of the mind. But I have called you together in order to give you a little advice, as well as to unfold the reason of my design. You know indeed, my comrades, how much ruin the sloth and cowardice of Lentulus has brought upon himself and us, and how, whilst I was waiting for reinforcements from the city, I could not set out for Gaul. Now indeed you all know almost as well as I do in what condition our affairs are.
“Two armies of the enemy, the one from the city the other from Gaul are opposing us. To remain any longer in these places, even though our mind was very anxious that way, want of corn and other things prevent. Whithersoever we choose to go, the way must be opened by the sword. Wherefore I exhort you to be of a brave and ready mind, and when you shall engage, remember that you carry in your right hands, riches, honour, glory—moreover, your liberty and your country. If we conquer, all things will be safe to us, nay in abundance; the boroughs and colonies will be opened. But if we shall yield through fear, these same things will become hostile to us, nor will any place or friend protect him whom his arms shall not have protected. Moreover, my comrades, the same necessity is not incumbent upon us and them. We contend for our country, our liberty, and our life. It is superfluous for them to fight for the power of a few, wherefore attack them the more boldly, mindful of your former valour. We might have lived in exile with the utmost disgrace. Some of you might have waited at Rome for other persons’ property, your own goods being lost. But because those things appeared disgraceful and intolerable to brave men, you determined to pursue this course. If you are desirous to get rid of your present condition, you have need of boldness. No one, except he be conqueror, has ever changed war for peace. For to expect safety in flight when you have thrown away the arms by which the person is protected, this is indeed madness.
“There is always in a battle the greatest danger to those who are the most afraid. Boldness is esteemed as a wall of defence. When I consider you my comrades and ponder your deeds, great hope of victory possesses me. Your spirit, your age, your valour encourage me, the necessity moreover which makes even the timid brave. For the narrowness of the place prevents the enemy from being able to surround us. But if fortune envies your bravery, take care that ye do not lose your life unrevenged, nor rather, being taken by butchered like cattle, than fighting like men, leave the enemy a bloody and sorrowful victory.”
When he had said these things, having delayed a little, he bids the trumpets sound, and leads down his troops drawn up for battle into a level place. And then, the horses of all being sent away, in order that when the danger was made alike there might be greater boldness to the soldiers, he himself on foot draws up his army according to the place and his forces. For as there was a plain between the mountains on the left hand, and on the right a craggy rock, he places eight cohorts in front, the rest of the standards he draws up more closely as a body of reserve. From these he moves into the first rank all the centurions and old soldiers, as well as every best armed man of the common soldiers. He appoints Caius Manlius to command on the right, and a certain man of Fæsulæ on the left. He himself with his freedmen and colonists, took his station near the eagle, which Caius Marius was said to have had in his army in the Cimbrian war. But on the other side Caius Antonius being ill with the gout, since he could not be present at the battle, commits the army to Marcus Petreius his lieutenant. He posts the veteran cohorts which he had levied on account of this rebellion in the front, and behind them the rest of the army as a body of reserve. He himself riding about on horseback, addresses each man by name, exhorts and implores them to remember that they are fighting for their country, their children, their altars, and their hearths, against unarmed robbers. And as he was a soldier (since for more than thirty years either as tribune, or præfect, or lieutenant, or prætor, he had been engaged in military service with great reputation) he had known many of them and their brave actions, by taking notice of these he raised the minds of his soldiers.
But when, all things being prepared, Petreius gives the signal with his trumpet, he bids the cohorts advance a little. The army of the enemy did the same thing. After they came to that distance from which the battle could be waged by the light armed soldiers, they engage with hostile standards with the greatest clamour; they throw aside their javelins, and the battle is fought with swords. The veterans mindful of their ancient valour hand to hand press fiercely on; the others bravely resist. They contend with the greatest fury. In the meanwhile Catiline with his light armed men moves about in the first line, relieves the wavering, brings up fresh men instead of the wounded, provides every thing, himself fights fiercely, and frequently strikes the enemy; and performed at once the duties of a brave soldier and a good commander. Petreius, when he sees Catiline, contrary to what he expected, fight with great obstinacy, brings the prætorian cohort into the midst of the enemies, and slays them thrown into confusion, and rallying some in one place and others in another. Then he attacks the rest in flank on both sides. Manlius and he of Fæsulæ fall fighting amongst the first. When Catiline sees his forces routed and himself left with a small party, mindful of his family and former dignity, he rushes into the thickest of the enemy, and there fighting is slain.
But when the battle was finished, then in truth you might see how much boldness and how great vigour of mind had been in the army of Catiline. For universally, whatever place each man when alive had taken up for fighting, that, when he had lost his life, he covered with his body. But a few, the middle of whom the prætorian cohort had dispersed, had fallen a little more widely, but all however with wounds in front.
But Catiline was found at a great distance from his own men amongst the corpses of the enemy, still breathing a little, and retaining in his face the ferocity of his soul which he had when alive. Finally, out of all that number, neither in the battle nor in the flight was any free-born citizen taken. Thus all had spared their own and their enemies’ life just alike. Nor however did the army of the Roman people gain a joyful or bloodless victory. For every one who was the bravest either had fallen in battle or departed severely wounded. But many who had gone out of the camp either for the sake of viewing the ground or plundering, as they turned over the corpses of the enemies, found some a friend, others a host or relation. There were some also who recognized their enemies. Thus in different ways, through the whole army, were delight, sorrow, grief, and joy experienced.
This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.
This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.