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martino

The Catiline Conspiracy

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I'm a bit late in joining this discussion but I'll just add my two pence anyway........

 

It's quite clear that Catiline was no angel but in my opinion the whole conspiracy theory was blown way out of proportion , and the main culprit behind the allegations was Marcus Tullius Cicero, Catiline was everything that Cicero hated, he was a rogue, handsome, good with the ladies, he was becoming one of the leading Populares of the time and he was also working his way into the running for the coverted curule chair which would put him in direct competition with Cicero himself. Cicero began a hate campaign against Catiline accusing him of all sorts of atrocities and with the use of his exceptional talent for oratory he managed to convince the senate that Catiline was planning along with his associates to over throw the Republic and massacre the members of the senate.

 

Shame on the age and on its principles! The senate is aware of these things; the consul sees them; and yet this man lives. Lives! aye, he

comes even into the senate. He takes a part in the public deliberations; he is watching and marking down and checking off for slaughter every individual among us. And we, gallant men that we are, think that we are doing our duty to the republic if we keep out of the way of his frenzied attacks.

You ought, O Catiline, long ago to have been led to execution by command of the consul. That destruction which you have been long

plotting against us ought to have already fallen on your own head. What? Did not that most illustrious man, Publius Scipio,the Pontifex Maximus, in his capacity of a private citizen, put to death Tiberius Gracchus, though but slightly undermining the constitution? And shall we, who are the consuls, tolerate Catiline, openly desirous to destroy the wholeworld with fire and slaughter?

Cicero against Catiline 1.2-3

 

Here's another quote from the great orator

 

O happy republic, if it can cast forth these dregs of the republic! Even now, when Catiline alone is got rid of; the republic seems to me

relieved and refreshed; for what evil or wickedness can be devised or imagined which he did not conceive? What prisoner, what gladiator, what thief; what assassin, what parricide, what forger of wills, what cheat, what debauchee, what spendthrift, what adulterer, what abandoned woman, what corrupter of youth, what profligate, what scoundrel can be found in all Italy, who does not avow that he has been on terms of intimacy with Catiline? What murder has been committed for years without him? What nefarious act of infamy that has not been done by him? But in what other man were there ever so many allurements for youth as in him, who both indulged in infamous love for others, and encouraged their infamous affections for himself, promising to some enjoyment of their lust, to others the death of their parents, and not

only instigating them to iniquity, but even assisting them in it. But now, how suddenly had he collected, not only out of the city, but even

out of the country, a number of abandoned men? No one, not only at Rome, but in every corner of Italy, was overwhelmed with debt whom he did not enlist in this incredible association of wickedness.

Cicero against Catiline 2.7

 

The thing with this last attack on Catiline is that Cicero doesnt produce any evidence to back up his apparent knowledge of the evil deeds committed by Catiline.

Edited by Gaius Paulinus Maximus

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Salve!

 

A little digression urgently needed; Cataline and Catiline are not synonymous; the latter is the commonest English transcription of "Catilina", the right Latin spelling of the cognomen of Lucius Sergius, the famous conspirator, Sallust's character and Consul MT Cicero's enemy; that's why each of Cicero's four discourses against him are known as "Catilinarius" (Latin) or "Catilinarian" (English), not "Catalinarian" nor "Catalinarius".

"Cataline" is an English misspelling of the Spanish "Catalina", itself a translation of the Greek name Αικατερινη (Aikaterine). The etymology is debated: it could derive from the earlier Greek name

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The thing with this last attack on Catiline is that Cicero doesnt produce any evidence to back up his apparent knowledge of the evil deeds committed by Catiline.

 

Cicero is simply adding unjust insults to quite just injury. Catiline was undoubtedly guilty of conspiring to overthrow the state. Catiline's political posturing--which ranged from obnoxious Sullan to equally obnoxious populare--is totally irrelevant here except to indicate that he had as little integrity as judgment.

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Catiline was undoubtedly guilty of conspiring to overthrow the state. Catiline's political posturing--which ranged from obnoxious Sullan to equally obnoxious populare--is totally irrelevant here except to indicate that he had as little integrity as judgment.

 

I don't doubt the fact that Catiline was an obnoxious and untrustworthy character, I'm sure he wasn't the first member of the senate to have those characteristics and he certainly wasn't the last, but what I do doubt is the magnitude and truth of the so called conspiracy.

 

If he was "undoubtedly guilty" then where is the proof ?

 

All of the accusations that were thrown at him were never backed up with any real evidence. Cicero says that two of Catiline's associates turned up at his house under orders to kill him but when they were refused entry they simply just turned around and walked away (not very good assassins) if this was the case why didn't Cicero have them charged with conspiracy to commit murder?

 

Cicero also claimed that Catiline assaulted him in person using a dagger but he only managed to avoid injury by side stepping the attacks?? Again if this was the case why didn't Cicero have him charged with an attempt on the consuls life??

 

Then there's the letters from the five "conspirators" that were intercepted on their way to the Allobroge envoys that were in Rome at the time

asking them to join forces with Catiline. Now why would five prominant and suspected men be so stupid as to send such dangerous and self incriminating letters fixed with their personal seals to a bunch of Gauls who they had never met? A bit of a coincidence don't you think?

 

Here's Cicero's explanation......

 

And on this account they deserve even greater hatred and greater punishment, for having attempted to apply their fatal and wicked fire, not only to your houses and homes, but even to the shrines and temples of the Gods. And if I were to say that it was I who resisted them, I should take too much to myself and ought not to be borne. He--he, Jupiter, resisted them, He determined that the Capitol should be safe, he saved these temples, he saved this city, he saved all of you. would never have taken place, so important a matter would never have been so madly entrusted, by It is under the guidance of the immortal gods, O Romans, that I have cherished the intention and desires which I have, and have arrived at such undeniable proofs. Surely, that tampering with the Allobroges Lentulus and the rest of our internal enemies, to strangers and foreigners, such letters would never have been written, unless all prudence had been taken by the immortal gods from such terrible audacity. What shall I say? That Gauls, men from a state scarcely at peace with us, the only nation existing which seems both to be able to make war on the Roman people, and not to be unwilling to do so,--that they should disregard the hope of empire and of the greatest success voluntarily offered to them by patricians; and should prefer your safety to their own power--do you not think that that was caused by divine interposition? especially when they could have destroyed us, not by fighting, but by keeping silence.

Cicero against Catiline 3.22

 

He says it was the gods that made them make such a stupid and fatal error!! Yeah right! more like a total set up. He then proceed to (illegally) have these men executed with out a proper trial, and this from the most famous lawyer and upstanding citizen in Rome.

 

You've got to admit, there was definately something fishy going on.

Edited by Gaius Paulinus Maximus

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what I do doubt is the magnitude and truth of the so called conspiracy.... If he was "undoubtedly guilty" then where is the proof ?

Catiline died, on a field of battle, surrounded by some 300 of his conspirators, hacking with swords at the men of the Roman army. Now how the heck could Catiline put together an army without any planning to do so--and in secret too? Obviously, this is the very definition of not only a conspiracy of enormous magnitude but treason itself, which is why--having assembled an army at Faesulae--Manlius and Catiline were declared hostes.

 

All of the accusations that were thrown at him were never backed up with any real evidence. Cicero says that two of Catiline's associates turned up at his house under orders to kill him but when they were refused entry they simply just turned around and walked away (not very good assassins) if this was the case why didn't Cicero have them charged with conspiracy to commit murder?

Because an attempt on the life of a legally-elected consul is no mere murder--it is an attack on the republic itself, and merely apprehending the guilty parties of that one crime threatens to mask the larger conspiracy against the state. More specifically, to have prosecuted an attempted murder in this case, Cicero would have had to have revealed his most valuable source--Fulvia, from whom he had learned (and would learn) of events of the conspiracy as the events were unfolding. No prosecutor (and no patriot) would have been so stupid as to charge the conspirators with this flimsy murder case while they were in the midst of planning the conflagration of the city.

 

Then there's the letters from the five "conspirators" that were intercepted on their way to the Allobroge envoys that were in Rome at the time asking them to join forces with Catiline. Now why would five prominant and suspected men be so stupid as to send such dangerous and self incriminating letters fixed with their personal seals to a bunch of Gauls who they had never met? A bit of a coincidence don't you think?

Not at all. First, I quit underestimating the stupidity of criminals a long time ago (sometime between first reading "News of the Weird" and later scanning the winners of the Darwin Awards). Second, the conspiracy revealed in those intercepted letters was corroborated by those received by Crassus, which Crassus had brought to the attention of Cicero, and by Catulus, which was signed by none other than Catiline himself. Are we really to expect that Crassus and Catulus, two former friends of Catiline and neither friendly to Cicero, were joining in a conspiracy with Cicero to frame Catiline?? It makes no sense. The letters must be taken as corroborating evidence. Further, the initial messages sent to the Allobroges were NOT affixed with the seals of Lentulus et al. Rather, the Allobroges--in an ingenious sting operation masterminded by Cicero--had insisted on sealed letters to deliver to their own Senate. Thus, Lentulus' provision of his own seal was not a case of unbelievable stupidity but of completely understandable desperation.

 

He then proceed to (illegally) have these men executed with out a proper trial, and this from the most famous lawyer and upstanding citizen in Rome.

First, let's not pretend that Lentulus and company were railroaded without a hearing and full investigation. Quite the opposite. Over the course of a full day of evidentiary hearings, testimony was taken from the messenger who was to have delivered a message from Lentulus et al to Catiline; the house of one of the conspirators was found to have been stacked with spears, swords, armor, and shields; Lentulus himself was cross-examined; the conspirators confessed everything; the case was cut-and-dried.

 

Should they have been given a lengthy and formal trial while Catiline was already at the head of a hostile army and the Senate House had already been attacked by loyalists attempting to grab the conspirators? Why? Having been caught in the early stages of rebellion, these men had clearly foresaken their citizenship. Indeed, even a scoundrel like Caesar--with his weasely suggestion that the conspirators be incarcerated for "safekeeping" (safekeeping for whom?)--explicitly argued against a trial, as did the Senate and consul-designates (Silanus and Murena) when Cicero asked for their opinion. Indeed, there was ancient precedent for executing the conspirators immediately since they had already admitted their intentions; there was no need to wait for them to actually burn down the senate house and murder all the senators!. Most importantly, a formal trial would have only upheld the appearance of legality, while the source of all laws--the state itself--would have been toppled. Any trial would have been worse than a meaningless exercise--it would have been dangerous for the people and Senate of Rome.

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Catiline died, on a field of battle, surrounded by some 300 of his conspirators, hacking with swords at the men of the Roman army. Now how the heck could Catiline put together an army without any planning to do so--and in secret too? Obviously, this is the very definition of not only a conspiracy of enormous magnitude but treason itself, which is why--having assembled an army at Faesulae--Manlius and Catiline were declared hostes.

Sir William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology makes the following remarks about Catiline's main ally:

MALLIA GENS, plebeian. This name is frequently confounded with that of Manlius; and in almost every passage where Mallius occurs some authorities read Manlius. It appears, however, from ancient inscriptions and the best manuscripts, that Mallius is the correct reading in certain cases; and we can easily understand how this name, which was one of no celebrity, should be altered into the well-known one of Manlius (Patrician). The only person in this gens who obtained any of the higher offices of the state was Cn. Mallius Maximus, who was consul b. c. 105. [maximus.]

C. MA'LLIUS, one of Catiline's conspirators, was stationed by the chief at Faesulae in Etruria, where he was commissioned to collect an army and prepare all military stores. He had served under Sulla as a centurion, and possessed great military experience and reputation. In the battle against Cicero's colleague, Antonius, in which Catiline fell, Mallius commanded the right wing, and was killed in the conflict. (Sail. Cat. 24, 27

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Catiline died, on a field of battle, surrounded by some 300 of his conspirators, hacking with swords at the men of the Roman army. Now how the heck could Catiline put together an army without any planning to do so--and in secret too? Obviously, this is the very definition of not only a conspiracy of enormous magnitude but treason itself, which is why--having assembled an army at Faesulae--Manlius and Catiline were declared hostes

 

It's not how the conspiracy ended that I'm questioning because that's quite clear, it's what drove Catiline to be there on the field of battle in the first place that I'm questioning.At the height of the conspiracy Catiline had volunteered himself for house arrest in order to prove he was innocent of the charges which Cicero was accusing him of, Cicero refused, why?

 

Eventually Catiline left Rome supposedly to go into exile but ended up going to join Manilus in Etruria. Manilus had already raised a small band of men consisting of veterans and farmers who had armed themselves in order to defend themselves against debt collectors. So this group of men which you call his conspirators were already formed and armed and ready to fight defend their homes and farms from greedy moneylenders before Catiline even joined them.

 

I think he knew his time in Rome was gone and being the kind of man that he was, he decided to join Manilus in Etruria and fight the representatives of the men that had ruined his career. I'm not saying that it was the right thing to do, I'm just saying I think that it's the Choice Catiline made.(or was hounded into.)

 

This is from Sallust. 34.2

 

XXXV. "Lucius Catiline to Quintus Catulus, wishing health. Your eminent integrity, known to me by experience, gives a pleasing confidence, in the midst of great perils, to my present recommendation. I have determined, therefore, to make no formal defense with regard to my new course of conduct; yet I was resolved, though conscious of no guilt, to offer you some explanation, which, on my word of honor, you may receive as true. Provoked by injuries and indignities, since, being robbed of the fruit of my labor and exertion, I did not obtain the post of honor due to me, I have undertaken, according to my custom, the public cause of the distressed. Not but that I could have paid, out of my own property, the debts contracted on my own security ;While the generosity of Orestilla, out of her own fortune and her daughter's, would discharge those incurred on the security of others. But because I saw unworthy men ennobled with honors, and myself proscribed on groundless suspicion, I have for this very reason, adopted a course, amply justifiable in my present circumstances, for preserving what honor is left to me. When I was proceeding to write more, intelligence was brought that violence is preparing against me. I now commend and intrust Orestilla to your protection ; intreating you, by your love for your own children, to defend her from injury. Farewell."

Edited by Gaius Paulinus Maximus

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It's not how the conspiracy ended that I'm questioning because that's quite clear, it's what drove Catiline to be there on the field of battle in the first place that I'm questioning.

What drove Catiline was Catiline. His letter to Catulus spells out the reasons for taking arms against the republic. This haughty patrician scoundrel was upset that he couldn't get elected consul as a shield for his illegal behavior as a governor; his debts were so high that he couldn't even get a woman to cover them all; and, he was caught in an escalating conspiracy of revenge against Cicero.

 

At the height of the conspiracy Catiline had volunteered himself for house arrest in order to prove he was innocent of the charges which Cicero was accusing him of, Cicero refused, why?

Are you joking? After an attempt had been made on Cicero's life, Catiline did indeed volunteer himself for house arrest--at Cicero's house! Obviously, this wasn't an earnest attempt to make amends.

 

Eventually Catiline left Rome supposedly to go into exile but ended up going to join Manilus in Etruria. Manilus had already raised a small band of men consisting of veterans and farmers who had armed themselves in order to defend themselves against debt collectors. So this group of men which you call his conspirators were already formed and armed and ready to fight defend their homes and farms from greedy moneylenders before Catiline even joined them.

This is a highly imaginative reading of events. Why an army should have been assembled against debt collectors is beyond me. Had this army NOT been formed at Catiline's behest, how did Lentulus et al know it would be available for joining together with the Allobrogres??

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At the height of the conspiracy Catiline had volunteered himself for house arrest in order to prove he was innocent of the charges which Cicero was accusing him of, Cicero refused, why?

Are you joking? After an attempt had been made on Cicero's life, Catiline did indeed volunteer himself for house arrest--at Cicero's house! Obviously, this wasn't an earnest attempt to make amends.

 

Who say's that there'd been an attempt on Cicero's life? We only have his word for it. It was better from Cicero's point of view if Catiline was still at large, Still a menace to Rome. Catiline did eventually go under house arrest in the house of the Praetor Metellus Nepos

 

Eventually Catiline left Rome supposedly to go into exile but ended up going to join Manilus in Etruria. Manilus had already raised a small band of men consisting of veterans and farmers who had armed themselves in order to defend themselves against debt collectors. So this group of men which you call his conspirators were already formed and armed and ready to fight defend their homes and farms from greedy moneylenders before Catiline even joined them.
This is a highly imaginative reading of events. Why an army should have been assembled against debt collectors is beyond me. Had this army NOT been formed at Catiline's behest, how did Lentulus et al know it would be available for joining together with the Allobrogres??

 

 

I never said an army had been assembled, I said a small band of men had armed themselves. You said yourself that Catiline was surrounded by some 300 conspiritators, does 300 men qualify as an army ? I'm not so sure it does.

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Why an army should have been assembled against debt collectors is beyond me.

I never said an army had been assembled, I said a small band of men had armed themselves. You said yourself that Catiline was surrounded by some 300 conspiritators, does 300 men qualify as an army ? I'm not so sure it does.

Maybe both of you would want to add a zero and some cohorts to that figure.

Here comes Sallust, "Bellum Catlina", Book LVI

 

"During these proceedings at Rome, Catiline, out of the entire force which he himself had brought with him, and that which Mallius had previously collected, formed two legions, filling up the cohorts as far as his number would allow;and afterward, as any volunteers, or recruits from his confederates, arrived in his camp, he distributed them equally throughout the cohorts, and thus filled up his legions, in a short time, with their regular number of men, though at first he had not more than two thousand."

 

Catiline might have been a scoundrel, but surely a popular scoundrel (especially if you considered all of this was after four eloquent Catilinarias and some nice executions).

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I guess the question is whether Catiline had a realistic shot at overthrowing the consuls...

...If in addition Catiline could have won over some of the old Sullans ...

He won at least some Sullan veteran soldiers, if not the officers.

Cicero's II Catilinarian:

"(Ch. 17)..For I will tell you, O Romans, of what classes of men those forces are made up, and then, if I can, I will apply to each the medicine of my advice and persuasion.

(Ch. 20) There is a third class, already touched by age, but still vigorous from constant exercise; of which class is Mallius himself; whom Catiline is now succeeding. These are men of those colonies which Sulla established at Faesulae, which I know to be composed, on the whole, of excellent citizens and brave men; but yet these are colonists, who, from becoming possessed of unexpected and sudden wealth, boast themselves extravagantly and insolently;".

 

I guess another valid question would be if Catiline's revolt was an authentic social war ("social" for "society", not for "socii").

If it was so, we should note that Cicero & co. got a complete military victory without any corrective measure for the likely social contributors for this rebellion (ie, veterans impoverishment) and presumably also for the eventual ascent of the first Triumvirate.

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we should note that Cicero & co. got a complete military victory without any corrective measure for the likely social contributors for this rebellion (ie, veterans impoverishment) and presumably also for the eventual ascent of the first Triumvirate.

 

The impoverishment of Sulla's veterans was a personal issue, not a social one. Sulla's were more than amply rewarded for their "service".

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we should note that Cicero & co. got a complete military victory without any corrective measure for the likely social contributors for this rebellion (ie, veterans impoverishment) and presumably also for the eventual ascent of the first Triumvirate.

 

The impoverishment of Sulla's veterans was a personal issue, not a social one. Sulla's were more than amply rewarded for their "service".

Last time I saw, personal issues multiplied some thousands times could make social issues. The impoverishment of Sulla's veterans was a social one because it affected (and was affected by) society as a whole. For one, veterans

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Last time I saw, personal issues multiplied some thousands times could make social issues.

Where is the evidence that Sulla's soldiers were not amply rewarded for their "service" (if you can call the slaughter of innocent Romans "service")? They were not only paid their salaries (which should have been more than sufficient payment for their crimes), they were also given the lands of the innocents proscribed by Sulla. If their appetites were so large that even Sulla could not sate them, then to hell with them!

 

For one, veterans

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