The Conspiracy of Catiline (63 B.C.)

Lucius Sergius Catilina was a patrician member of a noble family which had not provided Rome with a consul for more than three hundred years and whose decayed fortunes he was determined to revive. Endowed with military talents of distinction, he was a member of the staff of the consul Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo in 89 B.C. at the siege of the rebel town of Asculum. We have no evidence that he played any very active role during the 80's but he certainly remained secured under the Cinnan government. Indeed, he may have had family ties with Marians because a fragment of Sallust's Histories suggest that his wife was Gratidia, a sister of Marcus Marius Gratidianus, and his Marian connections were doubtless severed when expediency dictated the transfer of his decayed patrician family, and with the oligarchy established by him, that Catiline sought to restore his own family to fame. Early in the 70's he saw service abroad, possibly in Cilicia with Publius Servilius Vatia, who was proconsul there from 78 B.C. until 74 B.C.

In 73 B.C. he was accused of adultery with the Vestal Virgin, Fabia, who was a half-sister of Cicero's wife. Among those who testified in his favor was Quintus Lutatius Catulus, the consul of 78 B.C. and now the principal leader of the Optimates. Catiline was acquitted.

Elected praetor in 68 B.C., he was propraetorian governor of Africa in 67-66 B.C., but while he was still in the province an embassy appeared before the Senate with complaints about his conduct in office. On his return home he presented himself as a candidate in the consular elections for 65 B.C., but he was prevented from running in this election by the consul Lucius Volcanius Tullus. The complaints of the provincials had led to his indictment for extortion, and the case finally came before the court in 65 B.C. After a hearing in which he received the support of many consulares, he was acquitted, but not in time for him to stand in the consular elections for 64 B.C.

In the elections for 63 B.C. Catiline was accepted as a candidate, and Cicero hoped that he would join him in his election campaign. There were five other candidates, of whom Gaius Antonius Hybrida (the uncle of Mark Antony) was believed to be the only serious rival. Catiline and Antonius were said to have been supported by Caesar and Crassus and joined forced in an effort to defeat Cicero, furthering their campaign with extensive bribery. To curb their lavish expenditures a measure was proposed which would increase the penalties for this offense, but the bill was vetoed by a tribune, Quintus Mucius Orestius. Cicero thereupon took advantage of the indignation this veto provoked in the Senate and delivered a speech, In Toga Candida, attacking his two rivals. The Optimates took fright and in default of a more suitable candidate helped Cicero in spite of his drawbacks --- his novitas, novus homo --- his support for Pompey and his equestrian connections --- to win the election as senior consul. Antonius came second and with a narrow lead over Catiline.

Before the year was out Catiline survived another prosecution. at the insistence of the quaestor, Marcus Porcius Cato, men who had profited by the Sullan proscriptions were charged with murder, and the flood of cases swamped the Quaesitio de Scicariis, the murder court, one of the seven established or reconstituted by Sulla. As a result, aediles were forced to assist the praetors in charge and preside over trials for murder. Among these iudices quaesitionis was Caesar, who was closely linked with Pompey, prosecuted Catiline, the defendant was acquitted. As president of the court Caesar was not responsible for the verdict of the jury, but it does show that there existed influential men concerned to preserve Catiline from political extinction.

Free once more to stand as a consular candidate in 63 B.C., he again suffered defeat, this time at the hands of Decimus Junius Silanus and Lucius Licinius Murena. This defeat was conclusive. The highest office in the State, the summit of his political ambitions, was not to be his by constitutional means, and it was the realization of this fact that turned Catiline into an active revolutionary preparing a coup d' etat in Rome and an insurrection in Italy. This was the only path now left open to him.

In his speech In Toga Candida, delivered in the Summer of 64 B.C., Cicero alleges a series of crimes committed over the past two decades. He says that at the time of the Sullan proscriptions Catiline had cut off the head of Marcus Marius Gratidianus and carried it through the streets of Rome, and that he had murdered Quintus Caecilius, Marcus Volumnius and Lucius Tanusius; that he had been discreditably involved with the Vestal Fabia (Cicero could not make much of this affair as Catiline had been acquitted and Fabia was his own sister-in-law); that he had entered into an incestuous marriage with his daughter, whose name, Aurelia Orestilla, is supplied for us by Sallust. In the First Speech Against Catiline he adds the further allegation that after getting rid of his previous wife he committed another crime, the murder of his son.

Two other writers add to his list. The author of the electioneering handbook, commentariolum petitionis, alleges that Catiline did away with his brother-in-law, a knight by the name of Quintus Caecilius, during the proscriptions. Plutarch relates that he killed his own brother and committed incest with his daughter.

In his monograph Sallust is seeking to characterize Catiline as symptomatic of all that was evil at Rome and a man foredoomed by the corruptness of society to a life of crime and violence. We know that Sallust used speeches of Cicero for his own writing, and the crimes with which we are presented in the speech In Toga Candida would be just what he wanted to make good his case. Yet there are surprisingly few of them in his work. No mention of the murders by Sulla's lieutenant, and of his moral depravity only a reference to Fabia and then the murder of his son introduced to provide the driving force of his revolutionary designs.

In speeches delivered after the consular elections of 63 B.C. Cicero makes further allegations about Catiline's earlier plots: that he planned to murder Cicero in 64 B.C., to murder Cicero and his rival candidates at the elections of 63 B.C., to kill the consuls and the other leading men on the 29th of December 66 B.C., to massacre the Senate on the same occasion and to take the place of one of the consulares for 65 B.C. who were to be murdered.

These statements about Catiline's plans for violence at the end of 66 B.C. merit further study. In the speech In Toga Candida Cicero says that he will pass over the plot to massacre the Optimates, but the speech Pro Sulla can shed light on the origin of the myth. Cicero is engaged in the defense of Publius Cornelius Sulla and the prosecution has pointed out that in his letter to Pompey Cicero had linked the earlier affair with the conspiracy of 63 B.C. Cicero therefore has to extricate Sulla from complicity in 66 B.C., and one of the devices he employs is the substitution of Catiline for Sulla as a principal in the affair and the implication that Catiline was to have taken the place of one of the murdered consuls.

Sallust accepts Cicero's story and gives Catiline the leading role. The story is highly appropriate for a man ever driven to violence and crime by the corruption of the times and by his bad conscience.


The reasons for Catiline's emphasis upon his policy of tabulae novae, the cancellation of debts, are to be found in the economic conditions of the time. There had been previous occasions in Roman history when expenditures incurred in war had created widespread indebtedness and a serious shortage of currency, but the burden of debt had never been greater than in 63 B.C. The fighting of the 80's and again 78-77 B.C>, followed by the slave revolt of 73-71 B.C. with all the violence and devastation of the Italian countryside, led to a social and economic crisis which was made worse by the destruction of the pirates and the cost of the war against Mithridates. The pirates had caused increased prices for food and the expenditures incurred in defeating Mithridates had decreased the amount of money available for credit. The main grievances, however, were domestic in origin and concerned the plight of the urban poor and the exactions of the rich. The consequent hatred of the wealthy money-lenders fostered popular propaganda against the payment of debts, and at the beginning of 63 B.C. a bill for the cancellation of debts had actually been promoted but it was never passed. It was therefore sound politics for Catiline to make the cancellation of debts his prime concern. There were many in Italy, including the urban plebs, who were very ready to join a noble in refusing to pay their debts.

In his Second Speech Against Catiline Cicero identifies six groups among Catiline's supporters:

1.) Wealthy men who are heavily in debt and who could repay their debt by selling land but

are unwilling to do so.

2.) Men who are in debt and see revolution as their road to power.

3.) Veterans of Sulla's army who had been settled in colonies, but have lived beyond their means

and now want new proscriptions from which to recover their fortunes.

4.) Men deep in financial difficulties who seek to evade their problems by joining Catiline.

5.) The criminal element in society.

6.) The dissolute youth of the capital.

Catiline's support was thus not confined to the lower classes, but there is a significant omission from this list - the urban plebs. There is no doubt that the Roman masses did at first support the conspiracy and their omission is capable of explanation. The Second Speech Against Catiline was delivered to a meeting open to the whole populace in which Cicero seeks to present Catiline's supporters in the worst possible light and to urge the lower classes not to join a conspiracy under the leadership of depraved aristocrats whose interest have nothing in common with theirs. He must therefore avoid identifying his audience with those whom he is attacking.

Those efforts to split the urban plebs from the other conspirators were successful. Cicero was able to convince his listeners that Catiline's aim was anarchy, but anarchy or the liberation of the slaves was not what they sought. No more was it the temporary alleviation of an economic crisis which would leave its root causes untouched. The prospect of radical social reform offering them a permanent improvement of their position in society might have led them to join Catiline, but this was not -- according to Cicero -- what they were being promised.

The leading individual supporters of the conspiracy were drawn from the misfits and failures of society. The most distinguished was Publius Cornelius Lentulus Sura, a consular who had been expelled from the Senate in 70 B.C. By 63 B.C. he had rehabilitated himself and became praetor, and was thus with Catiline able to bring some standing to the revolutionary leaders. A man, however, who was naive enough to base his hopes of success upon oracles was in Cicero's view a man over whom no sleep need be lost. The most notable of the other senatorial supporters were Lucius Cassius Longinus, a corpulent rogue who had been one of the candidates at the consular elections in 64 B.C., and Gaius Cornelius Cethegus, a hot head with no judgment. There were also some knights involved, and men from the towns of Italy: Titus Volturcius from Croton, Marcus Ceparius from Terracina, and Publius Furius, a Sullan colonist from Faesulae. Freedmen, too, were among the members of the conspiracy, notably Publius Umbrenus who had been a businessman in Gaul; but Catiline in spite of the urging of his colleagues refused to the end to raise a slave revolt.

Such men, although a potentially dangerous combination, were not the making of a successful revolution. Their conduct during the conspiracy only serves to confirm the view that their own shortcomings drove them to join Catiline as the sole means of achieving a better place in society. The main redeeming feature of Catiline's followers was their loyalty to their leader.


Catiline's conduct during his election campaign in July 63 B.C. gave cause for alarm to all right thinking citizens. Gaius Manlius, who had served as a centurion under Sulla, was enrolling men in Etruria, and Catiline himself was marching through the streets of Rome at the head of Sullan Veterans and of men dispossessed by Sulla in his proscriptions. It was also reported that in a private meeting Catiline had proclaimed himself the champion of the poor and oppressed and had stated his intention of assassinating Cicero at the forthcoming elections. He continued to attend the meetings of the Senate and there was a note of ruthless menace in his reply to Cato's threat of prosecution. As soon as Cicero heard of what had been said at the private meeting, he summoned the Senate, and his version of what transpired is recorded in the speech Pro Murena. After reporting what had taken place he moved that the elections which were due to be held the following day should be postponed so that the Senate might discuss his report. The Senate accepted his motion, but at the meeting on the next day took the view that there were no grounds for emergency measures, and Catiline stalked out of the House in triumph. Cicero, affirming that his life was threatened and seeing that he had failed to obtain official backing for his view that danger was imminent, formed a bodyguard of private citizens and entered the Campus Martius on the day of the poll surrounded by armed men and ostentatiously wearing a breastplate to overawe his enemies and to bring home to loyalists his own danger. His plan succeeded. Catiline and his followers made no move -- if they had ever intended one --and Decimus Junius Silanus and Lucius Licinius Murena were elected.

When the result of the elections was known, Catiline sent Manlius back to Faesulae in northern Etruria, despatched two subordinates to Picenum and Apulia and others to other areas to raise new levies of troops. For the moment he remained himself in Rome to allay suspicions and to further his plans in the capital. We have no detailed knowledge of what was happening in Rome during August and September, but the existence of an active conspiracy should be dated from these months.

On the night of the 18th of October Cicero was roused from his bed by Crassus and two other nobles, Marcus Marcellus and Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, and was handed a bundle of letters which had been left at Crassus' house. Crassus had opened only that addressed to himself and had found that it warned him of impending massacre and urged him to flee Rome. Various theories about the origin of these letters are possible: that Cicero had forged them in order to check Crassus' reliability, that they were a device of Crassus himself to clear his name or that one of the conspirators was genuinely seeking to warn certain friends of their danger. No theory is susceptible of proof and none is entirely satisfactory, but the subsequent behavior of the conspirators suggests that the third theory is the most likely. On the following morning Cicero convened the Senate and the letters were read out. Again the Senate refused to make any decisive move, but the consuls were instructed to make further inquiries. Later the same day or on the 20th of October Quintus Arrius, an expraetor, brought Cicero more explicit information of events in Etruria, and Cicero convened the Senate once more on the 21st of October and at this meeting the Senatus Consultum Ultimum was passed.

In his First Speech Against Catiline, delivered on the 8th of November, Cicero claimed that at this meeting he had forecast with complete accuracy that Manlius would take up arms on the 27th of October, that a massacre was planned for the 28th and that Praeneste, a stronghold of Latium, was to be seized on the 1st of November. We do not know how all this information came into Cicero's hands: whether from Arrius; from Fulvia, the mistress of Quintus Curius, one of the conspirators, who kept Cicero posted on the conspirators' plans; or from some other source. It is also possible that this claim in our version of the speech, published some three years later, may have replaced a less detailed version couched in more general terms.

Once the Senatus Consultum Ultimum had been passed Cicero acted with all speed, arranged for forces to secure the capital, and despatched a specially raised levy of troops to strengthen the defenses of Praeneste. A few days later, at the very beginning of November, a senator named Lucius Saenius read to the Senate a letter that he had received from Faesulae telling him that Manlius had taken the field on the 27th as planned. It also contained the news that slaves were in revolt at Capua and in Apulia. To deal with these emergencies two consulares who were awaiting triumphs outside the city, Quintus Marcius Rex, the ex-governor of Cilicia, and Quintus Metellus Creticus, the conqueror of Crete, were instructed to take control at Faesulae and in Apulia respectively. The praetors, Quintus Pompeius Rufus and Quintus Metellus Celer, were given authority to raise troops and entrusted with Capua and Picenum.

Rewards were offered for information about the conspiracy: freedom and one hundred thousand sesterces for slaves and pardon with two hundred thousand sesterces for citizens. This offer did not produce a single traitor to Catiline's cause. Arrangements were made to disperse the gladiators at Capua, while at Rome itself Cicero's precautions created panic and caused the collapse of credit.

Catiline still calmly remained in the city, and even when the young Lucius Aemilius Paulus gave notice of intent to prosecute him for violent crime (de vi) his nerve did not fail him. He offered to place himself in the custody of the consular Manius Lepidus, of Cicero, of Metellus Celer, and finally of a person whose identity is uncertain, but none was willing to receive him and the threatened prosecution came to nothing. Cicero was not yet in a position to prove Catiline's guilt. The Senate had shown itself reluctant to move unless totally convinced of imminent crisis, and the very success of Cicero's counter-measures had made him seem an alarmist. He wisely preferred to wait until he held incontrovertible evidence before he moved.

On the night of the 6th November the leading members of the conspiracy gathered at the house of Marcus Porcius Laeca in the street of the scythemakers. Catiline announced that he had decided to leave Rome and take over command of the rebels outside of the city. He was going himself to join Manlius, and those selected to take command of the various areas to proceed to Etruria, Picenum and Cisalpine Gaul. Others were to remain behind in Rome and arrange for the firing of certain regions of the city and for Cicero's assassination. Gaius Cornelius and Lucius Vargunteius volunteered to call upon him the following morning on the pretext of paying their respects and to kill him in his own home, but Curius instructed Fulvia to warn Cicero, and when the assassins arrived early on the morning of the 7th they found the house strongly guarded against them and abandoned their attmept.

On the next day, the 8th of November, Cicero convened the Senate in the temple of Jupiter Stator at the foot of the Palatine Hill. The site was easier to protect than the Senate house itself, and Cicero had surrounded the building with armed knights. To Cicero's astonishment Catiline took his place, but as he sat down the other senators slipped away from the seats around him and left him in isolation. Cicero then delivered his First Speech Against Catiline.

When Cicero had finished, Catiline rose to reply. Far from being cowed by the onslaught upon him he rallied to the attack: his family had rendered great service to Rome over the centuries and he, a patrician, had followed their example and had nothing to win from revolution; Cicero, the city's would be savior was a resident alien. Shouted down by the Senate he rushed from the House and went straight home. There he urged Lentulus, Cethegus and the others to carry out the instructions issued at Laeca's house on the 6th, and then with a few followers he left Rome at the dead of night to join Manlius. Resourceful as ever, he wrote to leading figures at Rome to say that he was the victim of his enemies' malice and was going into voluntary exile at Massillia (Marseilles) in order to spare his country the horrors of civil war. His accomplices who had been left behind at Rome spread a similar report with the object of discrediting Cicero and casting doubt upon the necessity of his measures against Catiline. He also sought to justify himself in a letter to Quintus Catulus which Catulus read out in the Senate and which Sallust claims to reproduce.

On the following day, the 9th of November, Cicero address a public meeting in the Forum and delivered his Second Speech Against Catiline informing the people of what had happened. A few days later (on or about the 17th of November) news reached Rome that Catiline, accompanied like a consul by twelve lictors, had arrived at Manlius' camp. The two men were immediately declared public enemies; the consuls were instructed to enlist troops: Antonius was to pursue Catiline without delay and Cicero was to remain in Rome to defend the capital; and amnesty was offered to those who laid down their arms by a certain day. Once again there was not a single defector from Catiline's ranks to take advantage of this offer.

Of the conspirators left in Rome, Cethegus was all for instant action but was overruled by Lentulus. Plans were laid that on the 16th of December a tribune, Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, should attack Cicero and rouse the people against him for accusing innocent men and provoking dangerous war. Then, on the 17th, under cover of the uncontrolled revelry of the Saturnalia, Statilius and Gabinius were to start fires in twelve places, and in the resulting confusion Cethegus was to kill Cicero at his home and other leading men were to be assassinated. The conspirators were then to break out of the burning city and join Catiline who was to be at hand with his army to receive them.

At this point a further call was male upon Cicero's time and energy. With a fine disregard for the perils of the hour Servius Sulpicius Rufus, one of the unsuccessful candidates for the consulship, combined with Marcus Porcius Cato to accuse Lucius Licinius Murena, consul-elect for 62 B.C., of electoral malpractice. Cicero interrupted his search for evidence against the conspirators and accepted the brief for the defense. Scarcely was the trial over and the defendant safely acquitted than the evidence enabling him to arrest the conspirators came into his hands.

Envoys from the Allobroges, a tribe of Narbonese Gaul, had recently arrived in Italy to seek redress against Roman misrule and the depredations of the Italian financiers. At the request of Lentulus, a certain Umbrenus who had been engaged on business in Gaul approached the envoys with the proposal that if they supported the conspiracy their grievances would be remedied. After the initial approach Publius Gabinius Capito, a leading conspirator of equestrian ran, was introduced to them and details of the conspiracy and the names of those involved were given to them. The envoys, however, had more good sense than the conspirators and decided that the dangers of the bargain outweighed its benefits. They therefore made a detailed exposure of the negotiations to Quintus Fabius Sanga, whose family were the tribe's hereditary patrons. He promptly informed Cicero of all that they had told him and, acting on the consul's instructions, returned to the envoys and told them to pretend to continue their negotiations with the conspirators. They were to get into touch with the other ringleaders, to promise the help for which they had been asked and to exact written promises from Lentulus, Cethegus, Statilius and Cassius. The first three complied, but Cassius, more wary than his colleagues, replied that he was going to Gaul in the near future and left Rome without delay. Late on the evening of the 2nd of December the Gauls, accompanied by Titus Volturcius, left the city carrying with them the incriminating documents. Volturcius, left the city to lead them to Catiline, for whom he carried a personal message from Lentulus. As soon as he heard from the envoys the details of their plans, Cicero summoned Lucius Valerius Flaccus and Gaius Pomptinus, two of the praetors and both men of wide military experience. He ordered them to take an armed force to the Mulvian bridge by which the via Flaminia crosses the Tiber two miles north of Rome. There they were to lie in wait for the party and arrest them as they passed. In the early hours of the 3rd of December the envoys' party reached the bridge and after a brief battle surrendered to the praetors.

Taking Lentulus by the hand out of consideration for his position as praetor, Cicero led the three other conspirators and Volturcius to the temple of Concord where a meeting of the Senate had been convened. The temple was surrounded by armed guards and was closely packed inside.

Volturcius was questioned first and, prompted by the promise of immunity, revealed the conspirators' plans and related how he had been entrusted by Lentulus with the message for Catiline. The Gauls who had accompanied Cicero's party were then brought into the meeting and recounted all that had passed between them and the conspirators. The letters were now produced and their authors questioned -- Cethegus first, then Statilius and Lentulus, and finally Gabinius. All four confessed and, even allowing for Cicero making the most of the material in his hands, the treasonable nature of the conspirators' acclivities could not remain in doubt.

Cicero now asked the House to consider the situation revealed by these confessions. It was first resolved that Lentulus should resign his praetorship and be detained in custody. Cethegus, Statilius and Gabinius were also detained, and all four men were handed over to prominent senators for safe keeping. The Senate then went on to authorized the arrest of other conspirators, among them Cassius who had declined to provide a letter and the freedman, Umbrenus, who had made the first contact with the Gauls. Finally, a thanksgiving to the gods was decreed for Cicero, the first time that a magistrate had received this honor in recognition of the distinguished exercise of his civil, as opposed to his military, power.

On Cicero's instructions copies of the evidence were posted throughout Italy while Cicero himself went straight to the Forum where in his Third Speech Against Catiline he informed the people of the events of the last few days and of the action taken by the Senate.

On the next day, the 4th of December, the Senate met again and an informer, Lucius Tarquinius, alleged that Crassus had ordered him to take a message to Catiline urging him not to lose heart. Some did not believe the story; others believed it, but felt it prudent to keep quiet. Some thought that Autronius was behind Tarquinius, others that he had been put up to his story by Cicero. This was Crassus' own version and the allegation provided him with a credible excuse for not attending the meeting of the Senate the following day and declaring his position publicly. The Senate decided that the evidence of Tarquinius was false and that he should be kept in custody until he revealed who was behind him.

Enemies of Caesar also sought to exploit the crisis. Quintus Lutatius Catulus and Gaius Calpurnus Piso attempted to persuade Cicero to implicate Caesar by means of forged evidence, but he would have nothing to do with them. The Gallic envoys and Volturcius were rewarded and the leading conspirators declared public enemies. Meanwhile attempts were being made to gather parties to free the ringleaders. To counter these efforts Cicero posted guards and summoned the Senate for the following day to decide the fate of the conspirators.

Early in the morning of the 5th of December the Senate met in the temple of Concord. All the approaches were guarded by armed men as were the Forum and the adjacent temples. Cicero opened the debate upon the fate of the arrested men. It was his right as consul to take any action required, but he wanted the authority of the Senate behind him. The first speaker was the senior consul-elect, Junius Silanus. He moved that the men already in custody together with Lucius Cassius Longius, Publius Furius, Umbrenus and Quintus Annius, when they were caught, should be put to death. His fellow consul-elect, Lucius Licinius Murena, and fourteen consulares supported his motion, Caesar, as praetor-elect, was then asked to give his view. He acknowledged the guilt of the conspirators and maintained that no punishment could be too harsh for their crimes, but he opposed the death penalty. This opposition sprang from concern for the rule of law and of fear that a dangerous precedent was being established. He proposed that the prisoners be detained in Italian towns which were to be held responsible for their safe custody. Even if it did not win wide support this suggestion raised doubts in en's minds, and in the succeeding speeches a variety of opinions were expressed until Cicero rose to intervene in the debate. In his Fourth Speech Against Catiline he summed up the arguments advanced by the speakers and invited the Senate to come to its decision. He left little doubt where his own feelings lay, but other views were fairly represented. He was concerned that any decision to execute the conspirators should be seen to have the backing of the Senate. It needed little foresight on his part to visualize the capital that his enemies could make out of such a decision, and he did not wish to leave his political flank unnecessarily exposed.

Finally, Marcus Porcius Cato, tribune-elect for 62 B.C., rose and with his powerful oratory brought home to his audience the dangers of Caesar's suggestion. His personal authority and the force of his logic won the day, and he sat down to general applause. Cicero put Cato's motion proposing the punishment of death to the vote and it was carried by a large majority.

There was no delay in putting the decision into effect. Fearful that attempts might be made to rescue the condemned men, Cicero personally conducted Lentulus to the Tullianum while the praetors escorted Gabinius. With them was Ceparius who had been caught shortly after the others. There they wee all strangled and the waiting crowd heard the consul's announcement that the conspirator's lives were over.

Praise and honors were now heaped upon Cicero. Catulus and Cato hailed him as "Pater Patriae", and the former censor Lucius Gellius moved that he be granted the "civic crown" for saving the lives of citizens. On his journey home through the Forum after the executions the people hailed him as the savior and second founder of the State, and that night lights shone at every door.

This praise was not to last long. On the 10th of December Quintus Caecilius Metellus Nepos entered the office of tribune and declared at a public meeting that a man who had executed citizens without trial should not be allowed to speak. On the 31st of December Cicero was about to make the customary speech to the people at the end of his consulship, he was compelled by Nepos to confine himself to the oath that he had faithfully performed the duties of his office. Cicero, however, was able on this occasion to turn the tables upon his opponent and swore that he alone had saved the State. His oath was greeted by the people with thunderous applause and he was again escorted home by the loyal citizens of Rome. Three days later, on the 3rd of January, Nepos attacked him in the House, but the Senate passed a resolution indemnifying all who had acted against the conspirators.

Things had gone no better for Catiline outside the city after his departure for Rome. The risings in the Italian countryside had rapidly been rendered ineffectual. In the Apennines Metellus Celer and in Cisalpine Gaul Gaius Licinius Murena kept the situation under control. The conspirators at Capua were dealt with by the quaestor, Publius Sestius, and by December he was free to move north in support of Antonius who had been assigned to Etruria, the only area in which there was sustained opposition. Catiline succeeded in increasing his forces there from the two thousand men raised by Manlius to a total of ten thousand, but of these only a quarter was properly armed. He could easily have increased this total by enlisting the slaves who fled to his camp - Lentulus urged this course upon him - but he refused to do this for fear of the effect that it might have on citizens whom he hoped to attach to his cause. Any benefit, however, that he might have secured from restraint was nullified by the lurid picture that Cicero was able to paint of Gallic hordes invited to join in the sack of Rome.

When the news of the execution of the conspirators at Rome reached Catiline's camp, those who had joined his forces solely in the hope of booty deserted and left him even more heavily outnumbered. He therefore abandoned his plans upon Italy or Rome and set out across the Apennines enroute for Transalpine Gaul. After an arduous march with the remains of his army, he reached the vicinity of Pistoria where he found the route blocked by Quintus Metellus Celer and three legions, and the forces of Antonius were by now not far away.

Faced by Metellus, Catiline turned back on his tracks towards Pistoria to face the reluctant Antonius in the hope that he might not fight too hard. Antonius, however, developed an opportune illness and handed over his command to an experienced subordinate, Marcus Petreius. Battle was joined and bitter fighting ensued. Only after the praetorian cohort had been flung against their center did Catiline's forces break. Manlius was among the first to fall and when Catiline saw that all was lost he charged in the direction where the enemy were thickest and there fell fighting to the end. His troops had held their ground almost to a man; even those who had been scattered were found with their wounds in front; not a single freeborn citizen was taken alive and Catiline himself was found far in advance of his men, still breathing and with all his old spirit still showing upon his face. (From an anonymous site on the internet).

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