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Life of Cicero by Anthony Trollope

Part 4 out of 6

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this was achieved by the Machiavellian arts which his brother Quintus
taught in his treatise De Petitione Consulatus, or was attributable
to his general popularity, may be a matter of doubt. As far as we can
judge from the signs which remain to us of the public feeling of the
period, it seems that he was at this time regarded with singular
affection by his countrymen. He had robbed none, and had been cruel to
no one. He had already abandoned the profit of provincial government
--to which he was by custom entitled after the lapse of his year's
duty as Praetor--in order that he might remain in Rome among the
people. Though one of the Senate himself--and full of the glory of the
Senate, as he had declared plainly enough in that passage from one of
the Verrine orations which I have quoted--he had generally pleaded
on the popular side. Such was his cleverness, that even when on the
unpopular side--as he may be supposed to have been when defending
Fonteius--he had given a popular aspect to the cause in hand. We
cannot doubt, judging from the loud expression of the people's joy at
his election, that he had made himself beloved But, nevertheless, he
omitted none of those cares which it was expected that a candidate
should take. He made his electioneering speech "in toga candida"--in a
white robe, as candidates did, and were thence so called. It has not
come down to us, nor do we regret it, judging from the extracts which
have been collected from the notes which Asconius wrote upon it. It
was full of personal abuse of Antony and Catiline, his competitors.
Such was the practice of Rome at this time, as it was also with us
not very long since. We shall have more than enough of such eloquence
before we have done our task. When we come to the language in which
Cicero spoke of Clodius, his enemy, of Piso and Gabinius, the Consuls
who allowed him to be banished, and of Marc Antony, his last great
opponent--the nephew of the man who was now his colleague--we shall
have very much of it. It must again be pleaded that the foul abuse
which fell from other lips has not been preserved and that Cicero,
therefore, must not be supposed to have been more foul mouthed than
his rivals. We can easily imagine that he was more bitter than others,
because he had more power to throw into his words the meaning which he
intended them to convey.

Antony was chosen as Cicero's colleague. It seems, from such evidence
as we are able to get on the subject, that Cicero trusted Antony no
better than he did Catiline, but, appreciating the wisdom of the
maxim, "divide et impera"--separate your enemies and you will get the
better of them, which was no doubt known as well then as now--he
soon determined to use Antony as his ally against Catiline, who was
presumed to reckon Antony among his fellow-conspirators. Sallust puts
into the mouth of Catiline a declaration to this effect,[149] and
Cicero did use Antony for the purpose. The story of Catiline's
conspiracy is so essentially the story of Cicero's Consulship, that I
may be justified in hurrying over the other events of his year's rule;
but still there is something that must be told. Though Catiline's
conduct was under his eye during the whole year, it was not till
October that the affairs in which we shall have to interest ourselves

Of what may have been the nature of the administrative work done by
the great Roman officers of State we know very little; perhaps I might
better say that we know nothing. Men, in their own diaries, when they
keep them, or even in their private letters, are seldom apt to say
much of those daily doings which are matter of routine to themselves,
and are by them supposed to be as little interesting to others.
A Prime-minister with us, were he as prone to reveal himself in
correspondence as was Cicero with his friend Atticus, would hardly
say when he went to the Treasury Chambers or what he did when he
got there. We may imagine that to a Cabinet Minister even a Cabinet
Council would, after many sittings, become a matter of course. A
leading barrister would hardly leave behind him a record of his work
in chambers. It has thus come to pass that, though we can picture to
ourselves a Cicero before the judges, or addressing the people from
the rostra, or uttering his opinion in the Senate, we know nothing of
him as he sat in his office and did his consular work. We cannot but
suppose that there must have been an office with many clerks. There
must have been heavy daily work. The whole operation of government
was under the Consul's charge, and to Cicero, with a Catiline on his
hands, this must have been more than usually heavy. How he did it,
with what assistance, sitting at what writing-table, dressed in what
robes, with what surroundings of archives and red tape, I cannot make
manifest to myself. I can imagine that there must have been much of
dignity, as there was with all leading Romans, but beyond that I
cannot advance even in fancying what was the official life of a

In the old days the Consul used, as a matter of course, to go out and
do the fighting. When there was an enemy here, or an enemy there,
the Consul was bound to hurry off with his army, north or south,
to different parts of Italy. But gradually this system became
impracticable. Distances became too great, as the Empire extended
itself beyond the bounds of Italy, to admit of the absence of the
Consuls. Wars prolonged themselves through many campaigns, as notably
did that which was soon to take place in Gaul under Caesar. The
Consuls remained at home, and Generals were sent out with proconsular
authority. This had become so certainly the case, that Cicero on
becoming Consul had no fear of being called on to fight the enemies of
his country. There was much fighting then in course of being done by
Pompey in the East; but this would give but little trouble to the
great officers at home, unless it might be in sending out necessary

The Consul's work, however, was severe enough. We find from his own
words, in a letter to Atticus written in the year but one after his
Consulship, 61 B.C., that as Consul he made twelve public addresses.
Each of them must have been a work of labor, requiring a full mastery
over the subject in hand, and an arrangement of words very different
in their polished perfection from the generality of parliamentary
speeches to which we are accustomed. The getting up of his cases
must have taken great time. Letters went slowly and at a heavy cost.
Writing must have been tedious when that most common was done with a
metal point on soft wax. An advocate who was earnest in a case had to
do much for himself. We have heard how Cicero made his way over to
Sicily, creeping in a little boat through the dangers prepared for
him, in order that he might get up the evidence against Verres. In
defending Aulus Cluentius when he was Praetor, Cicero must have found
the work to have been immense. In preparing the attack upon Catiline
it seems that every witness was brought to himself. There were four
Catiline speeches made in the year of his Consulship, but in the same
year many others were delivered by him. He mentions, as we shall see
just now, twelve various speeches made in the year of his Consulship.

I imagine that the words spoken can in no case have been identical
with those which have come to us--which were, as we may say, prepared
for the press by Tiro, his slave and secretary. We have evidence as to
some of them, especially as to the second Catiline oration, that time
did not admit of its being written and learned by heart after the
occurrence of the circumstances to which it alludes. It needs must
have been extemporary, with such mental preparation as one night may
have sufficed to give him. How the words may have been taken down in
such a case we do not quite know; but we are aware that short-hand
writers were employed, though there can hardly have been a science of
stenography perfected as is that with us.[150]

The words which we read were probably much polished before they were
published, but how far this was done we do not know. What we do know
is that the words which he spoke moved, convinced, and charmed those
who heard them, as do the words we read move, convince and charm us.
Of these twelve consular speeches Cicero gives a special account to
his friend. "I will send you," he says, "the speechlings[151] which
you require, as well as some others, seeing that those which I have
written out at the request of a few young men please you also. It was
an advantage to me here to follow the example of that fellow-citizen
of yours in those orations which he called his Philippics. In these he
brightened himself up, and discarded his 'nisi prius' way of speaking,
so that he might achieve something more dignified, something more
statesman-like. So I have done with these speeches of mine which may
be called 'consulares,'" as having been made not only in his consular
year but also with something of consular dignity. "Of these, one, on
the new land laws proposed, was spoken in the Senate on the kalends of
January. The second, on the same subject, to the people. The third was
respecting Otho's law.[152]

The fourth was in defence of Rabirius.[153]

The fifth was in reference to the children of those who had lost their
property and their rank under Sulla's proscription.[154]

The sixth was an address to the people, and explained why I renounced
my provincial government.[155]

The seventh drove Catiline out of the city. The eighth was addressed
to the people the day after Catiline fled. The ninth was again spoken
to the people, on the day on which the Allobroges gave their evidence.
Then, again, the tenth was addressed to the Senate on the fifth
of December"--also respecting Catiline. "There arc also two short
supplementary speeches on the Agrarian war. You shall have the whole
body of them. As what I write and what I do are equally interesting to
you, you will gather from the same documents all my doings and all my

It is not to be supposed that in this list are contained all the
speeches which he made in his consular year, but those only which he
made as Consul--those to which he was desirous of adding something of
the dignity of statesmanship, something beyond the weight attached to
his pleadings as a lawyer. As an advocate, Consul though he was, he
continued to perform his work; from whence we learn that no State
dignity was so high as to exempt an established pleader from the
duty of defending his friends. Hortensius, when Consul elect, had
undertaken to defend Verres. Cicero defended Murena when he was
Consul. He defended C. Calpurnius Piso also, who was accused, as were
so many, of proconsular extortion; but whether in this year or in the
preceding is not, I think, known.[156]

Of his speech on that occasion we have nothing remaining. Of his
pleading for Murena we have, if not the whole, the material part, and,
though nobody cares very much for Murena now, the oration is very
amusing. It was made toward the end of the year, on the 20th of
November, after the second Catiline oration, and before the third, at
the very moment in which Cicero was fully occupied with the evidence
on which he intended to convict Catiline's fellow-conspirators. As I
read it I am carried away by wonder, rather than admiration, at the
energy of the man who could at such a period of his life give up his
time to master the details necessary for the trial of Murena.

Early in the year Cicero had caused a law to be passed--which, after
him, was called the Lex Tullia--increasing the stringency of the
enactments against bribery on the part of consular candidates. His
intention had probably been to hinder Catiline, who was again about to
become a candidate. But Murena, who was elected, was supposed to have
been caught in the meshes of the net, and also Silanus, the other
Consul designate. Cato, the man of stern nature, the great Stoic of
the day, was delighted to have an opportunity of proceeding against
some one, and not very sorry to attack Murena with weapons provided
from the armory of Murena's friend, Cicero. Silanus, however, who
happened to be cousin to Cato, was allowed to pass unmolested.
Sulpicius, who was one of the disappointed candidates, Cato, and
Postumius were the accusers. Hortensius, Crassus, and Cicero were
combined together for the defence of Murena. But as we read the single
pleading that has come to us, we feel that, unlike those Roman trials
generally, this was carried on without any acrimony on either side.
I think it must have been that Cato wished to have an opportunity of
displaying his virtue, but it had been arranged that Murena was to be
acquitted. Murena was accused, among other things, of dancing! Greeks
might dance, as we hear from Cornelius Nepos,[157] but for a Roman
Consul it would be disgraceful in the highest extreme. A lady, indeed,
might dance, but not much. Sallust tells us of Sempronia--who was,
indeed, a very bad female if all that he says of her be true--that she
danced more elegantly than became an honest woman.[158]

She was the wife of a Consul. But a male Roman of high standing might
not dance at all. Cicero defends his friend by showing how impossible
it was--how monstrous the idea. "No man would dance unless drunk or
mad." Nevertheless, I imagine that Murena had danced.

Cicero seizes an opportunity of quizzing Cato for his stoicism, and
uses it delightfully. Horace was not more happy when, in defence of
Aristippus, he declared that any philosopher would turn up his nose at
cabbage if he could get himself asked to the tables of rich men.[159]
"There was one Zeno," Cicero says, "who laid down laws. No wise man
would forgive any fault. No man worthy of the name of man would allow
himself to be pitiful. Wise men are beautiful, even though deformed;
rich though penniless; kings though they be slaves. We who are not
wise are mere exiles, runagates, enemies of our country, and madmen.
Any fault is an unpardonable crime. To kill an old cock, if you do not
want it, is as bad as to murder your father!"[160]

And these doctrines, he goes on to say, which are used by most of us
merely as something to talk about, this man Cato absolutely believes,
and tries to live by them. I shall have to refer back to this when
I speak of Cicero's philosophy more at length; but his common-sense
crops up continually in the expressions which he uses for defending
the ordinary conditions of a man's life, in opposition to that
impossible superiority to mundane things which the philosophers
professed to teach their pupils. He turns to Cato and asks him
questions, which he answers himself with his own philosophy: "Would
you pardon nothing? Well, yes; but not all things. Would you do
nothing for friendship? Sometimes, unless duty should stand in the
way. Would you never be moved to pity? I would maintain my habit of
sincerity, but something must no doubt be allowed to humanity. It is
good to stick to your opinion, but only until some better opinion
shall have prevailed with you." In all this the humanity of our
Cicero, as opposed equally to the impossible virtue of a Cato or the
abominable vice of a Verres, is in advance of his age, and reminds us
of what Christ has taught us.

But the best morsel in the whole oration is that in which he snubs the
lawyers. It must be understood that Cicero did not pride himself on
being a lawyer. He was an advocate, and if he wanted law there were
those of an inferior grade to whom he could go to get it. In truth,
he did understand the law, being a man of deep research, who inquired
into everything. As legal points had been raised, he thus addresses
Sulpicius, who seems to have affected a knowledge of jurisprudence,
who had been a candidate for the Consulship, and who was his own
intimate friend: "I must put you out of your conceit," he says; "it
was your other gifts, not a knowledge of the laws--your moderation,
your wisdom, your justice--which, in my opinion, made you worthy of
being loved. I will not say you threw away your time in studying law,
but it was not thus you made yourself worthy of the Consulship.[161]

That power of eloquence, majestic and full of dignity which has so
often availed in raising a man to the Consulship, is able by its words
to move the minds of the Senate and the people and the judges.[162]
But in such a poor science as that of law what honor can there be? Its
details are taken up with mere words and fragments of words.[163]
They forget all equity in points of law, and stick to the mere
letter."[164] He goes through a presumed scene of chicanery, which,
Consul as he was, he must have acted before the judges and the people,
no doubt to the extreme delight of them all. At last he says, "Full as
I am of business, if you raise my wrath I will make myself a lawyer,
and learn it all in three days."[165] From these and many other
passages in Cicero's writings and speeches, and also from, Quintilian,
we learn that a Roman advocate was by no means the same as an English
barrister. The science which he was supposed to have learned was
simply that of telling his story in effective language. It no doubt
came to pass that he had much to do in getting up the details of his
story--what we may call the evidence--but he looked elsewhere, to
men of another profession, for his law. The "juris consultus" or the
"juris peritus" was the lawyer, and as such was regarded as being of
much less importance than the "patronus" or advocate, who stood before
the whole city and pleaded the cause. In this trial of Murena, who was
by trade a soldier, it suited Cicero to belittle lawyers and to extol
the army. When he is telling Sulpicius that it was not by being a
lawyer that a man could become Consul, he goes on to praise the high
dignity of his client's profession. "The greatest glory is achieved
by those who excel in battle. All our empire, all our republic, is
defended and made strong by them."[166] It was thus that the advocate
could speak! This comes from the man who always took glory to himself
in declaring that the "toga" was superior to helmet and shield. He
had already declared that they erred who thought that they were going
to get his own private opinion in speeches made in law courts.[167] He
knew how to defend his friend Murena, who was a soldier, and in doing
so could say very sharp things, though yet in joke, against his friend
Sulpicius, the lawyer. But in truth few men understood the Roman law
better than did Cicero.

But we must go back to that agrarian law respecting which, as he tells
us, four of his consular speeches were made. This had been brought
forward by Rullus, one of the Tribunes, toward the end of the last
year. The Tribunes came into office in December, whereas at this
period of the Republic the Consuls were in power only on and from
January 1st. Cicero, who had been unable to get the particulars of the
new law till it had been proclaimed, had but a few days to master its
details. It was, to his thinking, altogether revolutionary. We have
the words of many of the clauses; and though it is difficult at this
distance of time to realize what would have been its effect, I think
we are entitled to say that it was intended to subvert all property.
Property, speaking of it generally, cannot be destroyed The land
remains, and the combined results of man's industry are too numerous,
too large, and too lasting to become a wholesale prey to man's anger
or madness. Even the elements when out of order can do but little
toward perfecting destruction. A deluge is wanted--or that crash of
doom which, whether it is to come or not, is believed by the world to
be very distant. But it is within human power to destroy possession,
and redistribute the goods which industry, avarice, or perhaps
injustice has congregated. They who own property are in these days
so much stronger than those who have none, that an idea of any such
redistribution does not create much alarm among the possessors. The
spirit of communism does not prevail among people who have learned
that it is, in truth, easier to earn than to steal. But with the
Romans political economy had naturally not advanced so far as with us.
A subversion of property had to a great extent taken place no later
than in Sulla's time. How this had been effected the story of the
property of Roscius Amerinus has explained to us. Under Sulla's
enactments no man with a house, with hoarded money, with a family
of slaves, with rich ornaments, was safe. Property had been made
to change hands recklessly, ruthlessly, violently, by the illegal
application of a law promulgated by a single individual, who,
however, had himself been instigated by no other idea than that of
re-establishing the political order of things which he approved.
Rullus, probably with other motives, was desirous of effecting a
subversion which, though equally great, should be made altogether in a
different direction. The ostensible purpose was something as follows:
as the Roman people had by their valor and wisdom achieved for Rome
great victories, and therefore great wealth, they, as Roman citizens,
were entitled to the enjoyment of what they had won; whereas, in fact,
the sweets of victory fell to the lot only of a few aristocrats. For
the reform of this evil it should be enacted that all public property
which had been thus acquired, whether land or chattels, should be
sold, and with the proceeds other lands should be bought fit for the
use of Roman citizens, and be given to those who would choose to have
it. It was specially suggested that the rich country called the
Campania--that in which Naples now stands with its adjacent
isles--should be bought up and given over to a great Roman colony.
For the purpose of carrying out this law ten magistrates should be
appointed, with plenipotentiary power both as to buying and selling.
There were many underplots in this. No one need sell unless he chose
to sell; but at this moment much land was held by no other title than
that of Sulla's proscriptions. The present possessors were in daily
fear of dispossession, by some new law made with the object of
restoring their property to those who had been so cruelly robbed.
These would be very glad to get any price in hand for land of which
their tenure was so doubtful; and these were the men whom the
"decemviri," or ten magistrates, would be anxious to assist. We
are told that the father-in-law of Rullus himself had made a large
acquisition by his use of Sulla's proscriptions. And then there
would be the instantaneous selling of the vast districts obtained by
conquest and now held by the Roman State. When so much land would be
thrown into the market it would be sold very cheap and would be sold
to those whom the "decemviri" might choose to favor. We can hardly now
hope to unravel all the intended details, but we may be sure that the
basis on which property stood would have been altogether changed by
the measure. The "decemviri" were to have plenary power for ten years.
All the taxes in all the provinces were to be sold, or put up to
market. Everything supposed to belong to the Roman State was to be
sold in every province, for the sake of collecting together a huge
sum of money, which was to be divided in the shape of land among
the poorer Romans. Whatever may have been the private intentions of
Rullus, whether good or bad, it is evident, even at this distance of
time, that a redistribution of property was intended which can only
be described as a general subversion. To this the new Consul
opposed himself vehemently, successfully, and, we must needs say,

The intense interest which Cicero threw into his work is as manifest
in these agrarian orations as in those subsequently made as to
the Catiline conspiracy. He ascends in his energy to a dignity of
self-praise which induces the reader to feel that a man who could so
speak of himself without fear of contradiction had a right to assert
the supremacy of his own character and intellect. He condescends, on
the other hand, to a virulence of personal abuse against Rullus which,
though it is to our taste offensive, is, even to us, persuasive,
making us feel that such a man should not have undertaken such a work.
He is describing the way in which the bill was first introduced: "Our
Tribunes at last enter upon their office. The harangue to be made by
Rullus is especially expected. He is the projector of the law, and
it was expected that he would carry himself with an air of special
audacity. When he was only Tribune elect he began to put on a
different countenance, to speak with a different voice, to walk with a
different stop. We all saw how he appeared with soiled raiment, with
his person uncared for, and foul with dirt, with his hair and
beard uncombed and untrimmed."[168] In Rome men under afflictions,
particularly if under accusation, showed themselves in soiled garments
so as to attract pity, and the meaning here is that Rullus went about
as though under grief at the condition of his poor fellow-citizens,
who were distressed by the want of this agrarian law. No description
could be more likely to turn an individual into ridicule than this of
his taking upon himself to represent in his own person the sorrows of
the city. The picture of the man with the self-assumed garments of
public woe, as though he were big enough to exhibit the grief of all
Rome, could not but be effective. It has been supposed that Cicero was
insulting the Tribune because he was dirty. Not so. He was ridiculing
Rullus because Rullus had dared to go about in mourning--"sordidatus"
--on behalf of his country.

But the tone in which Cicero speaks of himself is magnificent. It is
so grand as to make us feel that a Consul of Rome, who had the cares
of Rome on his shoulders, was entitled to declare his own greatness
to the Senate and to the people. There are the two important
orations--that spoken first in the Senate, and then the speech to
the people from which I have already quoted the passage personal to
Rullus. In both of them he declares his own idea of a Consul, and of
himself as Consul. He has been speaking of the effect of the proposed
law on the revenues of the State, and then proceeds: "But I pass by
what I have to say on that matter and reserve it for the people. I
speak now of the danger which menaces our safety and our liberty. For
what will there be left to us untouched in the Republic, what will
remain of your authority and freedom, when Rullus, and those whom you
fear much more than Rullus,[169] with this band of ready knaves, with
all the rascaldom of Rome, laden with gold and silver, shall
have seized on Capua and all the cities round? To all this,
Senators"--Patres conscripti he calls them--"I will oppose what power
I have. As long as I am Consul I will not suffer them to carry out
their designs against the Republic.

"But you, Rullus, and those who are with you, have been mistaken
grievously in supposing that you will be regarded as friends of the
people in your attempts to subvert the Republic in opposition to a
Consul who is known in very truth to be the people's friend I call
upon you, I invite you to meet me in the assembly. Let us have the
people of Rome as a judge between us. Let us look round and see what
it is that the people really desire. We shall find that their is
nothing so dear to them as peace and quietness and ease. You have
handed over the city to me full of anxiety, depressed with fear,
disturbed by these projected laws and seditious assemblies." (It must
be remembered that he had only on that very day begun his Consulship)
"The wicked you have filled with hope, the good with fear. You have
lobbed the Forum of loyalty and the Republic of dignity. But now, when
in the midst of these troubles of mind and body, when in this great
darkness the voice and the authority of the Consul has been heard by
the people--when he shall have made it plain that there is no cause
for fear, that no strange army shall enroll itself, no bands collect
themselves; that there shall be no new colonies, no sale of the
revenue no altered empire, no royal 'decemvirs,' no second Rome no
other centre of rule but this; that while I am Consul there shall be
perfect peace, perfect ease--do you suppose that I shall dread the
superior popularity of your new agrarian law? Shall I, do you think,
be afraid to hold my own against you in an assembly of the citizens
when I shall have exposed the iniqiuty of your designs, the fraud of
this law, the plots which your Tribunes of the people, popular as they
think themselves, have contrived against the Roman people? Shall I
fear--I who have determined to be Consul after that fashion in which
alone a man may do so in dignity and freedom, reaching to ask nothing
for myself which any Tribune could object to have given to me?"[170]

This was to the Senate, but he is bolder still when he addresses the
people. He begins by reminding them that it has always been the custom
of the great officers of state, who have enjoyed the right of having
in their houses the busts and images of their ancestors, in their
first speech to the people to join with thanks for the favors done
to themselves some records of the noble deeds done by their forefathers.
[171] He, however, could do nothing of the kind: he had no such right:
none in his family had achieved such dignity. To speak of himself might
seem too proud, but to be silent would be ungrateful. Therefore would
he restrain himself, but would still say something, so that he might
acknowledge what he had received. Then he would leave it for them to
judge whether he had deserved what they had done for him.

"It is long ago--almost beyond the memory of us now here--since you
last made a new man Consul.[172] That high office the nobles had
reserved for themselves, and defended it, as it were, with ramparts.
You have secured it for me, so that in future it shall be open to any
who may be worthy of it. Nor have you only made me a Consul, much as
that is, but you have done so in such a fashion that but few among the
old nobles have been so treated, and no new man--'novus ante me nemo.'
I have, if you will think of it, been the only new man who has stood
for the Consulship in the first year in which it was legal, and who
has got it." Then he goes on to remind them, in words which I have
quoted before, that they had elected him by their unanimous voices.
All this, he says, had been very grateful to him, but he had quite
understood that it had been done that he might labor on their behalf.
That such labor was severe, he declares. The Consulship itself must
be defended. His period of Consulship to any Consul must be a year of
grave responsibility, but more so to him than to any other. To him,
should he be in doubt, the great nobles would give no kind advice. To
him, should he be overtasked, they would give no assistance. But the
first thing he would look for should be their good opinion. To declare
now, before the people, that he would exercise his office for the good
of the people was his natural duty. But in that place, in which it was
difficult to speak after such a fashion, in the Senate itself, on
the very first day of his Consulship, he had declared the same
thing--"popularem me futurum esse consulem."[173]

The course he had to pursue was noble, but very difficult. He desired,
certainly, to be recognized as a friend of the people, but he desired
so to befriend them that he might support also at the same time the
power of the aristocracy. He still believed, as we cannot believe now,
that there was a residuum of good in the Senate sufficient to blossom
forth into new powers of honest government. When speaking to the
oligarchs in the Senate of Rullus and his land law, it was easy enough
to carry them with him. That a Consul should oppose a Tribune who
was coming forward with a "Lex agraria" in his hands, as the latest
disciple of the Gracchi, was not out of the common order of things.
Another Consul would either have looked for popularity and increased
power of plundering, as Antony might have done, or have stuck to his
order, as he would have called it--as might have been the case with
the Cottas, Lepiduses and Pisos of preceding years. But Cicero
determined to oppose the demagogue Tribune by proving himself to the
people to be more of a demagogue than he. He succeeded, and Rullus
with his agrarian law was sent back into darkness. I regard the second
speech against Rullus as the _ne plus ultra_, the very _beau ideal_
of a political harangue to the people on the side of order and good

I cannot finish this chapter, in which I have attempted to describe
the lesser operations of Cicero's Consulship, without again alluding
to the picture drawn by Virgil of a great man quelling the storms of a
seditious rising by the gravity of his presence and the weight of his
words.[174] The poet surely had in his memory some occasion in
which had taken place this great triumph of character and intellect
combined. When the knights, during Cicero's Consulship essayed to take
their privileged places in the public theatre, in accordance with a
law passed by Roscius Otho a few years earlier (B.C. 68), the founder
of the obnoxious law himself entered the building. The people, enraged
against a man who had interfered with them and their pleasures,
and who had brought them, as it were under new restraints from the
aristocracy, arose in a body and began to break everything that came
to hand. "Tum pietate gravem!" The Consul was sent for. He called on
the people to follow him out of the theatre to the Temple of Bellona,
and there addressed to them that wonderful oration by which they were
sent away not only pacified but in good-humor with Otho himself. "Iste
regit dictis animos et pectora mulcet." I have spoken of Pliny's
eulogy as to the great Consul's doings of the year. The passage is
short and I will translate it:[175] "But, Marcus Tullius, how shall
I reconcile it to myself to be silent as to you, or by what special
glory shall I best declare your excellence? How better than by
referring to the grand testimony given to you by the whole nation, and
to the achievements of your Consulship as a specimen of your entire
life? At your voice the tribes gave up their agrarian law, which was
as the very bread in their mouths. At your persuasion they pardoned
Otho his law and bore with good-humor the difference of the seats
assigned to them. At your prayer the children of the proscribed
forbore from demanding their rights of citizenship. Catiline was put
to flight by your skill and eloquence. It was you who silenced[176]
M. Antony. Hail, thou who wert first addressed as the father of your
country--the first who, in the garb of peace, hast deserved a triumph
and won the laurel wreath of eloquence." This was grand praise to be
spoken of a man more than a hundred years after his death, by one
who had no peculiar sympathies with him other than those created by
literary affinity.

None of Cicero's letters have come to us from the year of his


[148] De Lege Agraria, ii., 2: "Meis comitiis non tabellam, vindicem
tacitae libertatis, sed vocem vivam prae vobis, indicem vestrarum
erga me voluntatum ac studiorum tulistis. Itaque me----una voce
universus populus Romanus consulem declaravit."

[149] Sall., Conj. Catilinaria, xxi.: "Petere consularum C. Antonium,
quem sibi collegam fore speraret, hominem et familiarem, et omnibus
necessitudinibus circumventum." Sallust would no doubt have put
anything into Catiline's mouth which would suit his own purpose; but
it was necessary for his purpose that he should confine himself to

[150] Cicero himself tells us that many short-hand writers were sent
by him--"Plures librarii," as he calls them--to take down the words
of the Agrarian law which Rullus proposed. De Lege Agra., ii., 5.
Pliny, Quintilian, and Martial speak of these men as Notarii. Martial
explains the nature of their business:

"Currant verba licet, manus est velocior illis;
Nondum lingua suum, dextra peregit opus."--xiv., 208.

[151]Ad Att., ii., 1. "Oratiunculas," he calls them. It would seem
here that he pretends to have preserved these speeches only at the
request of some admiring young friends. Demosthenes, of course,
was the "fellow-citizen," so called in badinage, because Atticus,
deserting Rome, lived much at Athens.

[152] This speech, which has been lost, was addressed to the people
with the view of reconciling them to a law in accordance with which
the Equites were entitled to special seats in the theatre. It was
altogether successful.

[153] This, which is extant, was spoken in defence of an old man who
was accused of a political homicide thirty-seven years before--of
having killed, that is, Saturninus the Tribune. Cicero was
unsuccessful, but Rabirius was saved by the common subterfuge of an
interposition of omens. There are some very fine passages in this

[154] This has been lost. Cicero, though he acknowledged the iniquity
of Sulla's proscriptions, showed that their effects could not now be
reversed without further revolutions. He gained his point on this

[155] This has been lost. Cicero, in accordance with the practice of
the time, was entitled to the government of a province when ceasing to
be Consul. The rich province of Macedonia fell to him by lot, but he
made it over to his colleague Antony, thus purchasing, if not Antony's
co-operation, at any rate his quiescence, in regard to Catiline. He
also made over the province of Gaul, which then fell to his lot, to
Metellus, not wishing to leave the city. All this had to be explained
to the people.

[156] It will be seen that he also defended Rabirius in his consular
year, but had thought fit to include that among his consular speeches.
Some doubt has been thrown, especially by Mr. Tyrrell, on the
genuineness of Cicero's letter giving the list of his "orationculas
consulares," because the speeches Pro Murena and Pro Pisone are
omitted, and as containing some "rather un-Ciceronian expressions." My
respect for Mr. Tyrrell's scholarship and judgment is so great that
I hardly dare to express an opinion contrary to his; but I should be
sorry to exclude a letter so Ciceronian in its feeling. And if we are
to have liberty to exclude without evidence, where are we to stop?

[157] Corn. Nepo., Epaminondas, I.: "We know that with us" (Romans)
"music is foreign to the employments of a great man. To dance would
amount to a vice. But these things among the Greeks are not only
pleasant but praiseworthy."

[158] Conj. Catilinaria, xxv.

[159] Horace, Epis. i., xvii.:

"Si sciret regibus uti
Fastidiret olus qui me notat."

[160] Pro Murena, xxix.

[161] Pro Murena, x. This Sulpicius was afterward Consul with M.
Marcellus, and in the days of the Philippies was sent as one of a
deputation to Antony. He died while on the journey. He is said to have
been a man of excellent character, and a thorough-going conservative.

[162] Pro Murena, xi.

[163] Ibid., xi.

[164] Ibid., xii.

[165] Ibid., xiii.

[166] Ibid., xi.

[167] Pro Cluentio, 1.

[168] De Lege Agraria, ii., 5.

[169] He alludes here to his own colleague Antony, whom through his
whole year of office he had to watch lest the second Consul should
join the enemies whom he fears--should support Rullus or go over to
Catiline. With this view, choosing the lesser of the two evils, he
bribes Antony with the government of Macedonia.

[170] De Lege Agraria, i., 7 and 8.

[171] The "jus imagins" belonged to those whose ancestors was counted
an Aedile, a Praetor, or a Consul. The descendants of such officers
were entitled to have these images, whether in bronze, or marble, or
wax, carried at the funerals of their friends.

[172] Forty years since, Marius who was also "novus homo," and also,
singularly enough, from Arpinum, had been made Consul, but not with
the glorious circumstances as now detailed by Cicero.

[173] De Lege Agrana, 11, 1, 2, and 3.

[174] See Introduction.

[175] Pliny the elder, Hist. Nat., lib. vii., ca. xxxi.

[176] The word is "proscripsisti," "you proscribed him." For the
proper understanding of this, the bearing of Cicero toward Antony
during the whole period of the Philippics must be considered.



To wash the blackamoor white has been the favorite task of some
modern historians. To find a paradox in character is a relief to
the investigating mind which does not care to walk always in
the well-tried paths, or to follow the grooves made plain and
uninteresting by earlier writers. Tiberius and even Nero have been
praised. The memories of our early years have been shocked by
instructions to regard Richard III. and Henry VIII. as great and
scrupulous kings. The devil may have been painted blacker than he
should be, and the minds of just men, who will not accept the verdict
of the majority, have been much exercised to put the matter right. We
are now told that Catiline was a popular hero; that, though he might
have wished to murder Cicero, he was, in accordance with the practice
of his days, not much to be blamed for that; and that he was simply
the follower of the Gracchi, and the forerunner of Caesar in his
desire to oppose the oligarchy of Rome.[177] In this there is
much that is true. Murder was common. He who had seen the Sullan
proscriptions, as both Catiline and Cicero had done, might well have
learned to feel less scrupulous as to blood than we do in these days.
Even Cicero, who of all the Romans was the most humane--even he, no
doubt, would have been well contented that Catiline should have been
destroyed by the people.[178] Even he was the cause, as we shall see
just now, of the execution of the leaders of the conspirators whom
Catiline left behind him in the city--an execution of which the
legality is at any rate very doubtful. But in judging even of
bloodshed we have to regard the circumstances of the time in the
verdicts we give. Our consciousness of altered manners and of the
growth of gentleness force this upon us. We cannot execrate the
conspirators who murdered Caesar as we would do those who might now
plot the death of a tyrant; nor can we deal as heavily with the
murderers of Caesar as we would have done then with Catilinarian
conspirators in Rome, had Catiline's conspiracy succeeded. And so,
too, in acknowledging that Catiline was the outcome of the Gracchi,
and to some extent the preparation for Caesar, we must again compare
him with them, his motives and designs with theirs, before we can
allow ourselves to sympathize with him, because there was much in them
worthy of praise and honor.

That the Gracchi were seditious no historian has, I think, denied.
They were willing to use the usages and laws of the Republic where
those usages and laws assisted them, but as willing to act illegally
when the usages and laws ran counter to them. In the reforms or
changes which they attempted they were undoubtedly rebels; but no
reader comes across the tale of the death, first of one and then
of the other, without a regret. It has to be owned that they were
murdered in tumults which they themselves had occasioned. But they
were honest and patriotic. History has declared of them that
their efforts were made with the real purport of relieving their
fellow-countrymen from what they believed to be the tyranny of
oligarchs. The Republic even in their time had become too rotten to
be saved; but the world has not the less given them the credit for a
desire to do good; and the names of the two brothers, rebels as they
were, have come down to us with a sweet savor about them. Caesar, on
the other hand, was no doubt of the same political party. He too was
opposed to the oligarchs, but it never occurred to him that he could
save the Republic by any struggles after freedom. His mind was
not given to patriotism of that sort--not to memories, not to
associations. Even laws were nothing to him but as they might be
useful. To his thinking, probably even in his early days, the state of
Rome required a master. Its wealth, its pleasures, its soldiers, its
power, were there for any one to take who could take them--for any
one to hold who could hold them. Mr. Beesly, the last defender of
Catiline, has stated that very little was known in Rome of Caesar till
the time of Catiline's conspiracy, and in that I agree with him. He
possessed high family rank, and had been Quaestor and Aedile; but it
was only from this year out that his name was much in men's mouths,
and that he was learning to look into things. It may be that he had
previously been in league with Catiline--that he was in league with
him till the time came for the great attempt. The evidence, as far as
it goes, seems to show that it was so. Rome had been the prey of many
conspiracies. The dominion of Marius and the dominion of Sulla had
been effected by conspiracies. No doubt the opinion was strong with
many that both Caesar and Crassus, the rich man, were concerned with
Catiline. But Caesar was very far-seeing, and, if such connection
existed, knew how to withdraw from it when the time was not found to
be opportune. But from first to last he always was opposed to the
oligarchy. The various steps from the Gracchi to him were as those
which had to be made from the Girondists to Napoleon. Catiline, no
doubt, was one of the steps, as were Danton and Robespierre steps. The
continuation of steps in each case was at first occasioned by the bad
government and greed of a few men in power. But as Robespierre was
vile and low, whereas Vergniaud was honest and Napoleon great, so
was it with Catiline between the Gracchi and Caesar. There is, to my
thinking, no excuse for Catiline in the fact that he was a natural
step, not even though he were a necessary step, between the Gracchi
and Caesar.

I regard as futile the attempts which are made to rewrite history on
the base of moral convictions and philosophical conclusion. History
very often has been, and no doubt often again will be, rewritten, with
good effect and in the service of truth, on the finding of new facts.
Records have been brought to light which have hitherto been buried,
and testimonies are compared with testimonies which have not before
been seen together. But to imagine that a man may have been good who
has lain under the ban of all the historians, all the poets, and all
the tellers of anecdotes, and then to declare such goodness simply in
accordance with the dictates of a generous heart or a contradictory
spirit, is to disturb rather than to assist history. Of Catiline we at
least know that he headed a sedition in Rome in the year of Cicero's
Consulship; that he left the city suddenly; that he was killed in the
neighborhood of Pistoia fighting against the Generals of the Republic,
and that he left certain accomplices in Rome who were put to death
by an edict of the Senate. So much I think is certain to the most
truculent doubter. From his contemporaries, Sallust and Cicero, we
have a very strongly expressed opinion of his character. They have
left to us denunciations of the man which have made him odious to all
after-ages, so that modern poets have made him a stock character, and
have dramatized him as a fiend. Voltaire has described him as calling
upon his fellow-conspirators to murder Cicero and Cato, and to burn
the city. Ben Jonson makes Catiline kill a slave and mix his blood,
to be drained by his friends. "There cannot be a fitter drink to make
this sanction in." The friends of Catiline will say that this shows
no evidence against the man. None, certainly; but it is a continued
expression of the feeling that has prevailed since Catiline's time.
In his own age Cicero and Sallust, who were opposed in all their
political views, combined to speak ill of him. In the next, Virgil
makes him as suffering his punishment in hell.[179] In the next,
Velleius Paterculus speaks of him as the conspirator whom Cicero had
banished.[180] Juvenal makes various allusions to him, but all in the
same spirit. Juvenal cared nothing for history, but used the names
of well-known persons as illustrations of the idea which he was
presenting.[181] Valerius Maximus, who wrote commendable little essays
about all the virtues and all the vices, which he illustrated with the
names of all the vicious and all the virtuous people he knew, is very
severe on Catiline.[182] Florus, who wrote two centuries and a half
after the conspiracy, gives us of Catiline the same personal story as
that told both by Sallust and Cicero: "Debauchery, in the first place;
and then the poverty which that had produced; and then the opportunity
of the time, because the Roman armies were in distant lands, induced
Catiline to conspire for the destruction of his country."[183]
Mommsen, who was certainly biassed by no feeling in favor of Cicero,
declares that Catiline in particular was "one of the most nefarious
men in that nefarious age. His villanies belong to the criminal
records, not to history."[184] All this is no evidence. Cicero and
Sallust may possibly have combined to lie about Catiline. Other Roman
writers may have followed them, and modern poets and modern historians
may have followed the Roman writers. It is possible that the world
may have been wrong as to a period of Roman history with which it has
thought itself to be well acquainted; but the world now has nothing to
go by but the facts as they have come down to it. The writers of
the ages since have combined to speak of Cicero with respect and
admiration. They have combined, also, to speak of Catiline with
abhorrence. They have agreed, also, to treat those other rebels, the
Gracchi, after such a fashion that, in spite of their sedition, a
sweet savor, as I have said, attaches itself to their names. For
myself, I am contented to take the opinion of the world, and feel
assured that I shall do no injustice in speaking of Catiline as all
who have written about him hitherto have spoken of him I cannot
consent to the building up of a noble patriot out of such materials as
we have concerning him.[185]

Two strong points have been made for Catiline in Mr. Beesly's defence.
His ancestors had been Consuls when the forefathers of patricians of
a later date "were clapping their chapped hands and throwing up their
sweaty nightcaps." That scorn against the people should be expressed
by the aristocrat Casca was well supposed by Shakspeare; but how did
a liberal of the present day bring himself to do honor to his hero by
such allusions? In truth, however, the glory of ancient blood and the
disgrace attaching to the signs of labor are ideas seldom relinquished
even by democratic minds. A Howard is nowhere lovelier than in
America, or a sweaty nightcap less relished. We are then reminded how
Catiline died fighting, with the wounds all in front; and are told
that the "world has generally a generous word for the memory of a
brave man dying for his cause, be that cause what it will; but for
Catiline none!" I think there is a mistake in the sentiment expressed
here. To die readily when death must come is but a little thing, and
is done daily by the poorest of mankind. The Romans could generally do
it, and so can the Chinese. A Zulu is quite equal to it, and people
lower in civilization than Chinese or Zulus. To encounter death, or
the danger of death, for the sake of duty--when the choice is there;
but duty and death are preferred to ignominious security, or, better
still, to security which shall bring with it self-abasement--that is
grand. When I hear that a man "rushed into the field and, foremost
fighting, fell, "if there have been no adequate occasion, I think him
a fool. If it be that he has chosen to hurry on the necessary event,
as was Catiline's case, I recognize him as having been endowed
with certain physical attributes which are neither glorious nor
disgraceful. That Catiline was constitutionally a brave man no one
has denied. Rush, the murderer, was one of the bravest men of whom I
remember to have heard. What credit is due to Rush is due to Catiline.

What we believe to be the story of Catiline's life is this: In Sulla's
time he was engaged, as behooved a great nobleman of ancient blood,
in carrying out the Dictator's proscriptions and in running through
whatever means he had. There are fearful stories told of him as to
murdering his own son and other relatives; as to which Mr. Beesly is
no doubt right in saying that such tales were too lightly told in Rome
to deserve implicit confidence. To serve a purpose any one would say
anything of any enemy. Very marvellous qualities are attributed to
him--as to having been at the same time steeped in luxury and yet able
and willing to bear all bodily hardships. He probably had been engaged
in murders--as how should a man not have been so who had served under
Sulla during the Dictatorship? He had probably allured some young
aristocrats into debauchery, when all young aristocrats were so
allured. He had probably undergone some extremity of cold and hunger.
In reading of these things the reader will know by instinct how much
he may believe, and how much he should receive as mythic. That he was
a fast young nobleman, brought up to know no scruples, to disregard
blood, and to look upon his country as a milch cow from which a young
nobleman might be fed with never-ending streams of rich cream in the
shape of money to be borrowed, wealth to be snatched, and, above all,
foreigners to be plundered, we may take, I think, as proved. In
spite of his vices, or by aid of them, he rose in the service of his
country. That such a one should become a Praetor and a Governor was
natural. He went to Africa with proconsular authority, and of course
fleeced the Africans. It was as natural as that a flock of sheep
should lose their wool at shearing time. He came back intent, as
was natural also, on being a Consul, and of carrying on the game of
promotion and of plunder. But there came a spoke in his wheel--the
not unusual spoke of an accusation from the province. While under
accusation for provincial robbery he could not come forward as a
candidate, and thus he was stopped in his career.

It is not possible now to unravel all the personal feuds of the
time--the ins and outs of family quarrels. Clodius--the Clodius who
was afterward Cicero's notorious enemy and the victim of Milo's
fury--became the accuser of Catiline on behalf of the Africans. Though
Clodius was much the younger, they were men of the same class. It may
be possible that Clodius was appointed to the work--as it had been
intended that Caecilius should be appointed at the prosecution of
Verres--in order to assure not the conviction but the acquittal of the
guilty man. The historians and biographers say that Clodius was at
last bought by a bribe, and that he betrayed the Africans after that
fashion. It may be that such bribery was arranged from the first. Our
interest in that trial lies in the fact that Cicero no doubt intended,
from political motives, to defend Catiline. It has been said that he
did do so. As far as we know, he abandoned the intention. We have no
trace of his speech, and no allusion in history to an occurrence which
would certainly have been mentioned.[186] But there was _no_ reason
why he should not have done so. He defended Fonteius, and I am quite
willing to own that he knew Fonteius to have been a robber. When I
look at the practice of our own times, I find that thieves and rebels
are defended by honorable advocates, who do not scruple to take their
briefs in opposition to their own opinions. It suited Cicero to do the
same. If I were detected in a plot for blowing up a Cabinet Council, I
do not doubt but that I should get the late attorney-general to defend

But Catiline, though he was acquitted, was balked in his candidature
for the Consulship of the next year, B.C. 65. P. Sulla and Antronius
were elected--that Sulla to whose subsequent defence I have just
referred in this note--but were ejected on the score of bribery, and
two others, Torquatus and Cotta, were elected in their place. In this
way three men standing on high before their countrymen--one having
been debarred from standing for the Consulship, and the other two
having been robbed of their prize even when it was within their
grasp--not unnaturally became traitors at heart. Almost as naturally
they came together and conspired. Why should they have been selected
as victims, having only done that which every aristocrat did as a
matter of course in following out his recognized profession in living
upon the subject nations? Their conduct had probably been the same as
that of others, or if more glaring, only so much so as is always the
case with vices as they become more common. However, the three men
fell, and became the centre of a plot which is known as the first
Catiline conspiracy.

The reader must bear in mind that I am now telling the story of
Catiline, and going back to a period of two years before Cicero's
Consulship, which was B.C. 63. How during that year Cicero
successfully defended Murena when Cato endeavored to rob him of his
coming Consulship, has been already told. It may be that Murena's
hands were no cleaner than those of Sulla and Autronius, and that
they lacked only the consular authority and forensic eloquence of the
advocate who defended Murena. At this time, when the two appointed
Consuls were rejected, Cicero had hardly as yet taken any part in
public politics. He had been Quaestor, Aedile, and Praetor, filling
those administrative offices to the best of his ability. He had, he
says, hardly heard of the first conspiracy.[189] That what he says is
true, is, I think, proved by the absence of all allusion to it in his
early letters, or in the speeches or fragments of speeches that are
extant. But that there was such a conspiracy we cannot doubt, nor that
the three men named, Catiline, Sulla, and Autronius, were leaders
in it. What would interest us, if only we could have the truth, is
whether Caesar and Crassus were joined in it.

It is necessary again to consider the condition of the Republic. To us
a conspiracy to subvert the government under which the conspirer lives
seems either a very terrible remedy for great evils, or an attempt to
do evil which all good men should oppose. We have the happy conspiracy
in which Washington became the military leader, and the French
Revolution, which, bloody as it was, succeeded in rescuing Frenchmen
from the condition of serfdom. At home we have our own conspiracy
against the Stuart royalty, which had also noble results. The Gracchi
had attempted to effect something of the same kind at Rome; but the
moral condition of the people had become so low that no real love of
liberty remained. Conspiracy! oh yes. As long as there was anything to
get, of course he who had not got it would conspire against him who
had. There had been conspiracies for and against Marius, for and
against Cinna, for and against Sulla. There was a grasping for
plunder, a thirst for power which meant luxury, a greed for blood
which grew from the hatred which such rivalry produced. These were the
motive causes for conspiracies; not whether Romans should be free
but whether a Sulla or a Cotta should be allowed to run riot in a

Caesar at this time had not done much in the Roman world except
fall greatly into debt. Knowing, as we do know now, his immense
intellectual capacity, we cannot doubt but at the age he had now
reached, thirty-five, B.C. 65, he had considered deeply his prospects
in life. There is no reason for supposing that he had conceived the
idea of being a great soldier. That came to him by pure accident, some
years afterward. To be Quaestor, Praetor, and Consul, and catch what
was going, seems to have been the cause to him of having encountered
extraordinary debt. That he would have been a Verres, or a Fonteius,
or a Catiline, we certainly are not entitled to think. Over whatever
people he might have come to reign, and in whatever way he might have
procured his kingdom, he would have reigned with a far-seeing eye,
fixed upon future results. At this period he was looking out for a
way to advance himself. There were three men, all just six years his
senior, who had risen or were rising into great repute; they were
Pompey, Cicero, and Catiline. There were two who were noted for
having clean hands in the midst of all the dirt around; and they were
undoubtedly the first Romans of the day. Catiline was determined that
he too would be among the first Romans of the day; but his hands had
never been clean. Which was the better way for such a one as Caesar to

To have had Pompey under his feet, or Cicero, must have then seemed
to Caesar to be impracticable, though the time came when he did, in
different ways, have his feet on both. With Catiline the chance of
success might be better. Crassus he had already compassed. Crassus
was like M. Poirier in the play--a man who, having become rich, then
allowed himself the luxury of an ambition. If Caesar joined the plot
we can well understand that Crassus should have gone with him. We have
all but sufficient authority for saying that it was so, but authority
insufficient for declaring it. That Sallust, in his short account of
the first conspiracy, should not have implicated Caesar was a matter
of course,[190] as he wrote altogether in Caesar's interest. That
Cicero should not have mentioned it is also quite intelligible. He
did not wish to pull down upon his ears the whole house of the
aristocracy. Throughout his career it was his object to maintain the
tenor of the law with what smallest breach of it might be possible;
but he was wise enough to know that when the laws were being broken on
every side he could not catch in his nets all those who broke them. He
had to pass over much; to make the best of the state of things as he
found them. It is not to be supposed that a conspirator against the
Republic would be horrible to him, as would be to us a traitor against
the Crown: there were too many of them for horror. If Caesar and
Crassus could be got to keep themselves quiet, he would be willing
enough not to have to add them to his list of enemies. Livy is
presumed to have told us that this conspiracy intended to restore the
ejected Consuls, and to kill the Consuls who had been established in
their place. But the book in which this was written is lost, and we
have only the Epitome, or heading of the book, of which we know that
it was not written by Livy.[191] Suetonius, who got his story not
improbably from Livy, tells us that Caesar was suspected of having
joined this conspiracy with Crassus;[192] and he goes on to say that
Cicero, writing subsequently to one Axius, declared that "Caesar had
attempted in his Consulship to accomplish the dominion which he had
intended to grasp in his Aedile-ship" the year in question. There is,
however, no such letter extant. Asconius, who, as I have said before,
wrote in the time of Tiberius, declares that Cicero in his lost
oration, "In toga candida," accused Crassus of having been the author
of the conspiracy. Such is the information we have; and if we elect to
believe that Caesar was then joined with Catiline, we must be guided
by our ideas of probability rather than by evidence.[193]

As I have said before, conspiracies had been very rife. To Caesar it
was no doubt becoming manifest that the Republic, with its oligarchs,
must fall. Subsequently it did fall, and he was--I will not say the
conspirator, nor will I judge the question by saying that he was the
traitor; but the man of power who, having the legions of the Republic
in his hands, used them against the Republic. I can well understand
that he should have joined such a conspiracy as this first of
Catiline, and then have backed out of it when he found he could not
trust those who were joined with him.

This conspiracy failed. One man omitted to give a signal at one time,
and another at another. The Senate was to have been slaughtered; the
two Consuls, Cotta and Torquatus, murdered, and the two ex-Consuls,
Sulla and Autronius, replaced. Though all the details seem to have
been known to the Consuls, Catiline was allowed to go free, nor were
any steps taken for the punishment of the conspirators.

The second conspiracy was attempted in the Consulship of Cicero,
B.C. 63, two years after the first. Catiline had struggled for the
Consulship, and had failed. Again there would be no province, no
plunder, no power. This interference, as it must have seemed to him,
with his peculiar privileges, had all come from Cicero. Cicero was the
busybody who was attempting to stop the order of things which had,
to his thinking, been specially ordained by all the gods for the
sustenance of one so well born, and at the same time so poor, as
himself. There was a vulgar meddling about it--all coming from
the violent virtue of a Consul whose father had been a nobody at
Arpinum--which was well calculated to drive Catiline into madness. So
he went to work and got together in Rome a body of men as discontented
and almost as nobly born as himself, and in the country north of Rome
an army of rebels, and began his operations with very little secrecy.
In all the story the most remarkable feature is the openness with
which many of the details of the conspiracy were carried on. The
existence of the rebel army was known; it was known that Catiline was
the leader; the causes of his disaffection were known; his comrades in
guilt were known When any special act was intended, such as might be
the murder of the Consul or the firing of the city, secret plots were
concocted in abundance. But the grand fact of a wide-spread conspiracy
could go naked in Rome, and not even a Cicero dare to meddle with it.

[Sidenote: B.C. 63, aetat. 44]

As to this second conspiracy, the conspiracy with which Sallust and
Cicero have made us so well acquainted, there is no sufficient ground
for asserting that Caesar was concerned in it.[194]

That he was greatly concerned in the treatment of the conspirators
there is no doubt. He had probably learned to appreciate the rage, the
madness, the impotence of Catiline at then propel worth. He too, I
think, must have looked upon Cicero as a meddling, over-virtuous
busybody; as did even Pompey when he returned from the East. What
practical use could there be in such a man at such a time--in one who
really believed in honesty, who thought of liberty and the Republic,
and imagined that he could set the world right by talking? Such must
have been the feeling of Caesar, who had both experience and foresight
to tell him that Rome wanted and must have a master. He probably had
patriotism enough to feel that he, if he could acquire the mastership,
would do something beyond robbery--would not satisfy himself with
cutting the throats of all his enemies, and feeding his
supporters with the property of his opponents. But Cicero was
impracticable--unless, indeed, he could be so flattered as to be made
useful. It was thus, I think, that Caesar regarded Cicero, and thus
that he induced Pompey to regard him. But now, in the year of his
Consulship, Cicero had really talked himself into power, and for this
year his virtue must be allowed to have its full way.

He did so much in this year, was so really efficacious in restraining
for a time the greed and violence of the aristocracy, that it is not
surprising that he was taught to believe in himself. There were, too,
enough of others anxious for the Republic to bolster him up in his own
belief. There was that Cornelius in whose defence Cicero made the two
great speeches which have been unfortunately lost, and there was Cato,
and up to this tune there was Pompey, as Cicero thought. Cicero, till
he found himself candidate for the Consulship, had contented himself
with undertaking separate cases, in which, no doubt, politics were
concerned, but which were not exclusively political. He had advocated
the employment of Pompey in the East, and had defended Cornelius.
He was well acquainted with the history of the Republic; but he had
probably never asked himself the question whether it was in mortal
peril, and if so, whether it might possibly be saved. In his
Consulship he did do so; and, seeing less of the Republic than we can
see now, told himself that it was possible.

The stories told to us of Catiline's conspiracy by Sallust and by
Cicero are so little conflicting that we can trust them both. Trusting
them both, we are justified in believing that we know the truth. We
are here concerned only with the part which Cicero took. Nothing, I
think, which Cicero says is contradicted by Sallust, though of much
that Cicero certainly did Sallust is silent. Sallust damns him, but
only by faint praise. We may, therefore, take the account of the plot
as given by Cicero himself as verified: indeed, I am not aware that
any of Cicero's facts have been questioned.

Sallust declares that Catiline's attempt was popular in Rome
generally.[195] This, I think, must be taken as showing simply that
revolution and conspiracy were in themselves popular: that, as a
condition of things around him such as existed in Rome, a plotter of
state plots should be able to collect a body of followers, was a thing
of course; that there were many citizens who would not work, and who
expected to live in luxury on public or private plunder, is certain.
When the conspiracy was first announced in the Senate, Catiline had
an army collected; but we have no proof that the hearts of the
inhabitants of Rome generally were with the conspirators. On the
other hand, we have proof, in the unparalleled devotion shown by the
citizens to Cicero after the conspiracy was quelled, that their hearts
were with him. The populace, fond of change, liked a disturbance; but
there is nothing to show that Catiline was ever beloved as had been
the Gracchi, and other tribunes of the people who came after them.

Catiline, in the autumn of the year B.C. 63, had arranged the outside
circumstances of his conspiracy, knowing that he would, for the third
time, be unsuccessful in his canvass for the Consulship. That Cicero
with other Senators should be murdered seems to have been their first
object, and that then the Consulship should be seized by force. On the
21st of October Cicero made his first report to the Senate as to the
conspiracy, and called upon Catiline for his answer. It was then that
Catiline made his famous reply: "That the Republic had two bodies, of
which one was weak and had a bad head"--meaning the aristocracy, with
Cicero as its chief--"and the other strong, but without any head,"
meaning the people; "but that as for himself, so well had the
people deserved of him, that as long as he lived a head should be
forth-coming."[196] Then, at that sitting, the Senate decreed, in the
usual formula, "That the Consuls were to take care that the Republic
did not suffer.[197] On the 22d of October, the new Consuls, Silanus
and Murena, were elected. On the 23d, Catiline was regularly accused
of conspiracy by Paulus Lepidus, a young nobleman, in conformity
with a law which had been enacted fifty-five years earlier, "de vi
publica," as to violence applied to the State. Two days afterward it
was officially reported that Manlius--or Mallius, as he seems to have
been generally called--Catiline's lieutenant, had openly taken up arms
in Etruria. The 27th had been fixed by the conspirators for the murder
of Cicero and the other Senators. That all this was to be, and was
so arranged by Catiline, had been declared in the Senate by Cicero
himself on that day when Catiline told them of the two bodies and the
two heads. Cicero, with his intelligence, ingenuity, and industry, had
learned every detail. There was one Curius among the conspirators, a
fair specimen of the young Roman nobleman of the day, who told it all
to his mistress Fulvia, and she carried the information to the Consul.
It is all narrated with fair dramatic accuracy in Ben Jonson's dull
play, though he has attributed to Caesar a share in the plot, for
doing which he had no authority. Cicero, on that sitting in the
Senate, had been specially anxious to make Catiline understand that he
knew privately every circumstance of the plot. Throughout the whole
conspiracy his object was not to take Catiline, but to drive him out
of Rome. If the people could be stirred up to kill him in their wrath,
that might be well; in that way there might be an end of all the
trouble. But if that did not come to pass, then it would be best to
make the city unbearable to the conspirators. If they could be
driven out, they must either take themselves to foreign parts and
be dispersed, or must else fight and assuredly be conquered. Cicero
himself was never blood-thirsty, but the necessity was strong upon him
of ridding the Republic from these blood-thirsty men.

The scheme for destroying Cicero and the Senators on the 27th of
October had proved abortive. On the 6th of the next month a meeting
was held in the house of one Marcus Porcius Laeca, at which a plot was
arranged for the killing of Cicero the next day--for the killing of
Cicero alone--he having been by this time found to be the one great
obstacle in their path. Two knights were told off for the service,
named Vargunteius and Cornelius. These, after the Roman fashion, were
to make their way early on the following morning into the Consul's
bedroom for the ostensible purpose of paying him their morning
compliments, but, when there, they were to slay him. All this,
however, was told to Cicero, and the two knights, when they came, were
refused admittance. If Cicero had been a man given to fear, as has
been said of him, he must have passed a wretched life at this period.
As far as I can judge of his words and doings throughout his life, he
was not harassed by constitutional timidity. He feared to disgrace his
name, to lower his authority, to become small in the eyes of men, to
make political mistakes, to do that which might turn against him. In
much of this there was a falling off from that dignity which, if we do
not often find it in a man, we can all of us imagine; but of personal
dread as to his own skin, as to his own life, there was very little.
At this time, when, as he knew well, many men with many weapons in
their hands, men who were altogether unscrupulous, were in search for
his blood he never seems to have trembled.

But all Rome trembled--even according to Sallust. I have already shown
how he declares in one part of his narrative that the common people
as a body were with Catiline, and have attempted to explain what was
meant by that expression. In another, in an earlier chapter, he says
"that the State," meaning the city, "was disturbed by all this, and
its appearance changed.[198] Instead of the joy and ease which had
lately prevailed, the effect of the long peace, a sudden sadness fell
upon every one." I quote the passage because that other passage has
been taken as proving the popularity of Catiline. There can, I think,
be no doubt that the population of Rome was, as a body, afraid of
Catiline. The city was to be burnt down, the Consuls and the Senate
were to be murdered, debts were to be wiped out, slaves were probably
to be encouraged against their masters. The "permota civitas" and
the "cuncta plebes," of which Sallust speaks, mean that all the
"householders" were disturbed, and that all the "roughs" were eager
with revolutionary hopes.

On the 8th of November, the day after that on which the Consul was to
have been murdered in his own house, he called a special meeting of
the Senate in the temple of Jupiter Stator. The Senate in Cicero's
time was convened according to expedience, or perhaps as to the
dignity of the occasion, in various temples. Of these none had a
higher reputation than that of the special Jupiter who is held to have
befriended Romulus in his fight with the Sabines. Here was launched
that thunderbolt of eloquence which all English school-boys have known
for its "Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra." Whether
it be from the awe which has come down to me from my earliest years,
mixed perhaps with something of dread for the great pedagogue who
first made the words to sound grandly in my ears, or whether true
critical judgment has since approved to me the real weight of the
words, they certainly do contain for my intelligence an expression of
almost divine indignation. Then there follows a string of questions,
which to translate would be vain, which to quote, for those who read
the language, is surely unnecessary. It is said to have been a fault
with Cicero that in his speeches he runs too much into that vein of
wrathful interrogation which undoubtedly palls upon us in English
oratory when frequent resort is made to it. It seems to be too easy,
and to contain too little of argument. It was this, probably, of which
his contemporaries complained when they declared him to be florid,
redundant, and Asiatic in his style.[199] This questioning runs
through nearly the whole speech, but the reader cannot fail to
acknowledge its efficacy in reference to the matter in hand. Catiline
was sitting there himself in the Senate, and the questions were for
the most part addressed to him. We can see him now, a man of large
frame, with bold, glaring eyes, looking in his wrath as though he were
hardly able to keep his hands from the Consul's throat, even there in
the Senate. Though he knew that this attack was to be made on him, he
had stalked into the temple and seated himself in a place of honor,
among the benches intended for those who had been Consuls. When there,
no one spoke to him, no one saluted him. The consular Senators shrunk
away, leaving their places of privilege. Even his brother-conspirators,
of whom many were present, did not dare to recognize him. Lentulus was
no doubt there, and Cethegus, and two of the Sullan family, and Cassius
Longinus, and Autronius, and Laeca, and Curins. All of them were or had
been conspirators in the same cause. Caesar was there too, and Crassus.
A fellow conspirator with Catiline would probably be a Senator. Cicero
knew them all. We cannot say that in this matter Caesar was guilty, but
Cicero, no doubt, felt that Caesar's heart was with Catiline. It was
his present task so to thunder with his eloquence that he should turn
these bitter enemies into seeming friends--to drive Catiline from out
of the midst of them, so that it should seem that he had been expelled
by those who were in truth his brother-conspirators; and this it was
that he did.

He declared the nature of the plot, and boldly said that, such being
the facts, Catiline deserved death. "If," he says, "I should order you
to be taken and killed, believe me I should be blamed rather for my
delay in doing so than for my cruelty."

He spoke throughout as though all the power were in his own hands,
either to strike or to forbear. But it was his object to drive him out
and not to kill him. "Go," he said; "that camp of yours and Mallius,
your lieutenant, are too long without you. Take your friends with you.
Take them all. Cleanse the city of your presence. When its walls are
between you and me then I shall feel myself secure. Among us here you
may no longer stir yourself. I will not have it--I will not endure it.
If I were to suffer you to be killed, your followers in the conspiracy
would remain here; but if you go out, as I desire you, this cesspool
of filth will drain itself off from out the city. Do you hesitate to
do at my command that which you would fain do yourself? The Consul
requires an enemy to depart from the city. Do you ask me whether you
are to go into exile? I do not order it; but if you ask my counsel, I
advise it." Exile was the severest punishment known by the Roman law,
as applicable to a citizen, and such a punishment it was in the power
of no Consul or other officer of state to inflict. Though he had taken
upon himself the duty of protecting the Republic, still he could not
condemn a citizen. It was to the moral effect of his words that he
must trust: "Non jubeo, sed si me consulis, suadeo." Catiline heard
him to the end, and then, muttering a curse, left the Senate, and went
out of the city. Sallust tells us that he threatened to extinguish, in
the midst of the general ruin he would create, the flames prepared
for his own destruction. Sallust, however, was not present on the
occasion, and the threat probably had been uttered at an earlier
period of Catiline's career. Cicero tells us expressly, in one of his
subsequent works, that Catiline was struck dumb.[200] Of this first
Catiline oration Sallust says, that "Marcus Tullius the Consul, either
fearing the presence of the man, or stirred to anger, made a brilliant
speech, very useful to the Republic."[201] This, coming from an enemy,
is stronger testimony to the truth of the story told by Cicero, than
would have been any vehement praise from the pen of a friend.

Catiline met some of his colleagues the same night. They were the very
men who as Senators had been present at his confusion, and to them he
declared his purpose of going. There was nothing to be done in the
city by him. The Consul was not to be reached. Catiline himself was
too closely watched for personal action. He would join the army at
Faesulae and then return and burn the city. His friends, Lentulus,
Cethegus, and the others, were to remain and be ready for fire and
slaughter as soon as Catiline with his army should appear before the
walls. He went, and Cicero had been so far successful.

But these men, Lentulus, Cethegus, and the other Senators, though they
had not dared to sit near Catiline in the Senate, or to speak a word
to him, went about their work zealously when evening had come. A
report was spread among the people that the Consul had taken upon
himself to drive a citizen into exile. Catiline, the ill-used
Catiline--Catiline, the friend of the people, had, they said, gone
to Marseilles in order that he might escape the fury of the tyrant
Consul. In this we see the jealousy of Romans as to the infliction of
any punishment by an individual officer on a citizen. It was with a
full knowledge of what was likely to come that Cicero had ironically
declared that he only advised the conspirator to go. The feeling was
so strong that on the next morning he found himself compelled to
address the people on the subject. Then was uttered the second
Catiline oration, which was spoken in the open air to the citizens at
large. Here too there are words, among those with which he began his
speech, almost as familiar to us as the "Quousque tandem"--"Abiit;
excessit; evasit; erupit!" This Catiline, says Cicero, this pest of
his country, raging in his madness, I have turned out of the city.
If you like it better, I have expelled him by my very words. "He has
departed. He has fled. He has gone out from among us. He has broken
away!" "I have made this conspiracy plain to you all, as I said I
would, unless indeed there may be some one here who does not believe
that the friends of Catiline will do the same as Catiline would have
done. But there is no time now for soft measures. We have to be
strong-handed. There is one thing I will do for these men. Let them
too go out, so that Catiline shall not pine for them. I will show them
the road. He has gone by the Via Aurelia. If they will hurry they
may catch him before night." He implies by this that the story about
Marseilles was false. Then he speaks with irony of himself as that
violent Consul who could drive citizens into exile by the very breath
of his mouth. "Ego vehemens ille consul qui verbo cives in exsilium
ejicio." So he goes on, in truth defending himself, but leading them
with him to take part in the accusation which he intends to bring
against the chief conspirators who remain in the city. If they too
will go, they may go unscathed; if they choose to remain, let them
look to themselves.

Through it all we can see there is but one thing that he fears--that
he shall be driven by the exigencies of the occasion to take some
steps which shall afterward be judged not to have been strictly legal,
and which shall put him into the power of his enemies when the day
of his ascendency shall have passed away. It crops out repeatedly
in these speeches.[202] He seems to be aware that some over-strong
measure will be forced upon him for which he alone will be held
responsible. If he can only avoid that, he will fear nothing else; if
he cannot avoid it, he will encounter even that danger. His foresight
was wonderfully accurate. The strong hand was used, and the punishment
came upon him, not from his enemies but from his friends, almost to
the bursting of his heart.

Though the Senate had decreed that the Consuls were to see that
the Republic should take no harm, and though it was presumed that
extraordinary power was thereby conferred, it is evident that no power
was conferred of inflicting punishment. Antony, as Cicero's colleague,
was nothing. The authority, the responsibility, the action were, and
were intended, to remain with Cicero. He could not legally banish any
one. It was only too evident that there must be much slaughter. There
was the army of rebels with which it would be necessary to fight. Let
them go, these rebels within the city, and either join the army and
get themselves killed, or else disappear, whither they would, among
the provinces. The object of this second Catiline oration, spoken to
the people, was to convince the remaining conspirators that they had
better go, and to teach the citizens generally that in giving such
counsel he was "banishing" no one. As far as the citizens were
concerned he was successful; but he did not induce the friends
of Catiline to follow their chief. This took place on the 9th of
November. After the oration the Senate met again, and declared
Catiline and Mallius to be public enemies.

Twenty-four days elapsed before the third speech was spoken--twenty-
four days during which Rome must have been in a state of very great
fever. Cicero was actively engaged in unravelling the plots the
details of which were still being carried on within the city; but
nevertheless he made that speech for Murena before the judicial bench
of which I gave an account in the last chapter, and also probably
another for Piso, of which we have nothing left. We cannot but marvel
that he should have been able at such a time to devote his mind to
such subjects, and carefully to study all the details of legal cases.
It was only on October 21st that Murena had been elected Consul; and
yet on the 20th of November Cicero defended him with great skill on
a charge of bribery. There is an ease, a playfulness, a softness, a
drollery about this speech which appears to be almost incompatible
with the stern, absorbing realities and great personal dangers in the
midst of which he was placed; but the agility of his mind was such
that there appears to have been no difficulty to him in these rapid

On the same day, the 20th of November, when Cicero was defending
Murena, the plot was being carried on at the house of a certain Roman
lady named Sempronia. It was she of whom Sallust said that she danced
better than became an honest woman. If we can believe Sallust, she
was steeped in luxury and vice. At her house a most vile project was
hatched for introducing into Rome Rome's bitterest foreign foes. There
were in the city at this time certain delegates from a people called
the Allobroges, who inhabited the lower part of Savoy. The Allobroges
were of Gaulish race. They were warlike, angry, and at the present
moment peculiarly discontented with Rome. There had been certain
injuries, either real or presumed, respecting which these delegates
had been sent to the city. There they had been delayed, and fobbed off
with official replies which gave no satisfaction, and were supposed to
be ready to do any evil possible to the Republic. What if they could
be got to go back suddenly to their homes, and bring a legion of
red-haired Gauls to assist the conspirators in burning down Rome? A
deputation from the delegates came to Sempronia's house and there met
the conspirators--Lentulus and others. They entered freely into the
project; but having, as was usual with foreign embassies at Rome, a
patron or peculiar friend of their own among the aristocracy, one
Fabius Sanga by name, they thought it well to consult him.[203] Sanga,
as a matter of course, told everything to our astute Consul.

Then the matter was arranged with more than all the craft of a modern
inspector of police. The Allobroges were instructed to lend themselves
to the device, stipulating, however, that they should have a written
signed authority which they could show to their rulers at home. The
written signed documents were given to them. With certain conspirators
to help them out of the city they were sent upon their way. At a
bridge over the Tiber they were stopped by Cicero's emissaries. There
was a feigned fight, but no blood was shed; and the ambassadors with
their letters were brought home to the Consul.

We are astonished at the marvellous folly of these conspirators, so
that we could hardly have believed the story had it not been told
alike by Cicero and by Sallust, and had not allusion to the details
been common among later writers.[204] The ambassadors were taken at
the Milvian bridge early on the morning of the 3d of December, and in
the course of that day Cicero sent for the leaders of the conspiracy
to come to him. Lentulus, who was then Praetor, Cethegus, Gabinius,
and Statilius all obeyed the summons. They did not know what had
occurred, and probably thought that their best hope of safety lay
in compliance. Caeparius was also sent for, but he for the moment
escaped--in vain; for before two days were over he had been taken and
put to death with the others. Cicero again called the Senate together,
and entered the meeting leading the guilty Praetor by the hand. Here
the offenders were examined and practically acknowledged their guilt.
The proofs against them were so convincing that they could not deny
it. There were the signatures of some; arms were found hidden in the
house of another. The Senate decreed that the men should be kept
in durance till some decision as to their fate should have been
pronounced. Each of them was then given in custody to some noble Roman
of the day. Lentulus the Praetor was confided to the keeping of a
Censor, Cethegus to Cornificius, Statilius to Caesar, Gabinius to
Crassus, and Caeparius, who had not fled very far before he was taken,
to one Terentius. We can imagine how willingly would Crassus and
Caesar have let their men go, had they dared. But Cicero was in the
ascendant. Caesar, whom we can imagine to have understood that the
hour had not yet come for putting an end to the effete Republic, and
to have perceived also that Catiline was no fit helpmate for him in
such a work, must bide his time, and for the moment obey. That he was
inclined to favor the conspirators there is no doubt; but at present
he could befriend them only in accordance with the law. The Allobroges
were rewarded. The Praetors in the city who had assisted Cicero were
thanked. To Cicero himself a supplication was decreed. A supplication
was, in its origin, a thanksgiving to the gods on account of a
victory, but had come to be an honor shown to the General who had
gained the victory.

In this case it was simply a means of adding glory to Cicero, and was
peculiar, as hitherto the reward had only been conferred for military
service.[205] Remembering that, we can understand what at the time
must have been the feeling in Rome as to the benefits conferred by the
activity and patriotism of the Consul.

On the evening of the same day, the 3d of December, Cicero again
addressed the people, explaining to them what he had done, and what
he had before explained in the Senate. This was the third Catiline
speech, and for rapid narrative is perhaps surpassed by nothing that
he ever spoke. He explains again the motives by which he had been
actuated; and in doing so extols the courage, the sagacity, the
activity of Catiline, while he ridicules the folly and the fury of
the others.[206] Had Catiline remained, he says, we should have been
forced to fight with him here in the city; but with Lentulus the
sleepy, and Cassius the fat, and Cethegus the mad, it has been
comparatively easy to deal. It was on this account that he had got rid
of him, knowing that their presence would do no harm. Then he reminds
the people of all that the gods have done for them, and addresses them
in language which makes one feel that they did believe in their gods.
It is one instance, one out of many which history and experience
afford us, in which an honest and a good man has endeavored to use for
salutary purposes a faith in which he has not himself participated.
Does the bishop of to-day, when he calls upon his clergy to pray for
fine weather, believe that the Almighty will change the ordained
seasons, and cause his causes to be inoperative because farmers are
anxious for their hay or for their wheat? But he feels that when men
are in trouble it is well that they should hold communion with the
powers of heaven. So much also Cicero believed, and therefore spoke as
he did on this occasion. As to his own religious views, I shall say
something in a future chapter.

Then in a passage most beautiful for its language, though it is hardly
in accordance with our idea of the manner in which a man should
speak of himself, he explains his own ambition: "For all which, my
fellow-countrymen, I ask for no other recompense, no ornament or
honor, no monument but that this day may live in your memories. It is
within your breasts that I would garner and keep fresh my triumph,
my glory, the trophies of my exploits. No silent, voiceless statue,
nothing which can be bestowed upon the worthless, can give me delight.
Only by your remembrance can my fortunes be nurtured--by your good
words, by the records which you shall cause to be written, can they be
strengthened and perpetuated. I do think that this day, the memory of
which, I trust, may be eternal, will be famous in history because
the city has been preserved, and because my Consulship has been
glorious."[207] He ends the paragraph by an allusion to Pompey,
admitting Pompey to a brotherhood of patriotism and praise. We shall
see how Pompey repaid him.

How many things must have been astir in his mind when he spoke those
words of Pompey! In the next sentence he tells the people of his own
danger. He has taken care of their safety; it is for them to take care
of his.[208] But they, these Quirites, these Roman citizens, these
masters of the world, by whom everything was supposed to be governed,
could take care of no one; certainly not of themselves, as certainly
not of another. They could only vote, now this way and now that, as
somebody might tell them, or more probably as somebody might pay them.
Pompey was coming home, and would soon be the favorite. Cicero must
have felt that he had deserved much of Pompey, but was by no means
sure that the debt of gratitude would be paid.

Now we come to the fourth or last Catiline oration, which was made
to the Senate, convened on the 5th of December with the purpose
of deciding the fate of the leading conspirators who were held in
custody. We learn to what purport were three of the speeches made
during this debate--those of Caesar and of Cato and of Cicero. The
first two are given to us by Sallust, but we can hardly think that we
have the exact words. The Caesarean spirit which induced Sallust to
ignore altogether the words of Cicero would have induced him to give
his own representation of the other two, even though we were to
suppose that he had been able to have them taken down by short-hand
writers--Cicero's words, we have no doubt, with such polishing as may
have been added to the short-hand writers' notes by Tiro, his slave
and secretary. The three are compatible each with the other, and we
are entitled to believe that we know the line of argument used by the
three orators.

Silanus, one of the Consuls elect, began the debate by counselling
death. We may take it for granted that he had been persuaded by Cicero
to make this proposition. During the discussion he trembled at the
consequences, and declared himself for an adjournment of their
decision till they should have dealt with Catiline. Murena, the other
Consul elect, and Catulus, the Prince of the Senate,[209] spoke for
death. Tiberius Nero, grandfather of Tiberius the Emperor, made that
proposition for adjournment to which Silanus gave way. Then--or I
should rather say in the course of the debate, for we do not know who
else may have spoken--Caesar got up and made his proposition. His
purpose was to save the victims, but he knew well that, with such a
spirit abroad as that existing in the Senate and the city, he could
only do so not by absolving but by condemning. Wicked as these men
might be, abominably wicked it was, he said, for the Senate to think
of their own dignity rather than of the enormity of the crime. As they
could not, he suggested, invent any new punishment adequate to so
abominable a crime, it would be better that they should leave the
conspirators to be dealt with by the ordinary laws. It was thus that,
cunningly, he threw out the idea that as Senators they had no power
of death. He did not dare to tell them directly that any danger would
menace them, but he exposed the danger skilfully before their eyes.
"Their crimes," he says again, "deserve worse than any torture you
can inflict. But men generally recollect what comes last. When the
punishment is severe, men will remember the severity rather than the
crime." He argues all this extremely well. The speech is one of great
ingenuity, whether the words be the words of Sallust or of Caesar. We
may doubt, indeed, whether the general assertion he made as to death
had much weight with the Senators when he told them that death to the
wicked was a relief, whereas life was a lasting punishment; but when
he went on to remind them of the Lex Porcia, by which the power
of punishing a Roman citizen, even under the laws, was limited to
banishment, unless by a plebiscite of the people generally ordering
death, then he was efficacious. He ended by proposing that the goods
of the conspirators should be sold, and that the men should be
condemned to imprisonment for life, each in some separate town. This
would, I believe, have been quite as illegal as the death-sentence,
but it would not have been irrevocable. The Senate, or the people,
in the next year could have restored to the men their liberty, and
compensated them for their property. Cicero was determined that the
men should die. They had not obeyed him by leaving the city, and he
was convinced that while they lived the conspiracy would live also. He
fully understood the danger, and resolved to meet it. He replied to
Caesar, and with infinite skill refrained from the expression of any
strong opinion, while he led his hearers to the conviction that death
was necessary. For himself he had been told of his danger; "but if a
man be brave in his duty death cannot be disgraceful to him; to
one who had reached the honors of the Consulship it could not be
premature; to no wise man could it be a misery." Though his brother,
though his wife, though his little boy, and his daughter just married
were warning him of his peril, not by all that would he be influenced.
"Do you," he says, "Conscript Fathers, look to the safety of the
Republic. These are not the Gracchi, nor Saturninus, who are brought
to you for judgment--men who broke the laws, indeed, and therefore
suffered death, but who still were not unpatriotic. These men had
sworn to burn the city, to slay the Senate, to force Catiline upon you
as a ruler. The proofs of this are in your own hands. It was for me,
as your Consul, to bring the facts before you. Now it is for you, at
once, before night, to decide what shall be done. The conspirators
are very many; it is not only with these few that you are dealing.
On whatever you decide, decide quickly. Caesar tells you of the
Sempronian law[210]--the law, namely, forbidding the death of a Roman
citizen--but can he be regarded as a citizen who has been found in
arms against the city?" Then there is a fling at Caesar's assumed
clemency, showing us that Caesar had already endeavored to make
capital out of that virtue which he diplayed afterward so signally at
Alesia and Uxellodunum. Then again he speaks of himself in words so
grand that it is impossible but to sympathize with him: "Let Scipio's
name be glorious--he by whose wisdom and valor Hannibal was forced out
of Italy. Let Africanus be praised loudly, who destroyed Carthage and
Numantia, the two cities which were most hostile to Rome. Let Paulus
be regarded as great--he whose triumph that great King Perses adorned.
Let Marius be held in undying honor, who twice saved Italy from
foreign yoke. Let Pompey be praised above all, whose noble deeds are
as wide as the sun's course. Perhaps among them there may be a spot,
too, for me; unless, indeed, to win provinces to which we may take
ourselves in exile is more than to guard that city to which the
conquerors of provinces may return in safety." The last words of the
orator also are fine: "Therefore, Conscript Fathers, decide wisely and
without fear. Your own safety, and that of your wives and children,
that of your hearths and altars, the temples of your gods, the homes
contained in your city, your liberty, the welfare of Italy and of the
whole Republic are at stake. It is for you to decide. In me you have a
Consul who will obey your decrees, and will see that they be made to
prevail while the breath of life remains to him." Cato then spoke
advocating death, and the Senate decreed that the men should die.
Cicero himself led Lentulus down to the vaulted prison below, in which
executioners were ready for the work, and the other four men were made
to follow. A few minutes afterward, in the gleaming of the evening,
when Cicero was being led home by the applauding multitude, he was
asked after the fate of the conspirators. He answered them but by one
word "Vixerunt"--there is said to have been a superstition with the
Romans as to all mention of death--"They have lived their lives."

As to what was being done outside Rome with the army of conspirators
in Etruria, it is not necessary for the biographer of Cicero to say
much. Catiline fought, and died fighting. The conspiracy was then
over. On the 31st of December Cicero retired from his office,
and Catiline fell at the battle of Pistoia on the 5th of January
following, B.C. 62.

A Roman historian writing in the reign of Tiberius has thought it
worth his while to remind us that a great glory was added to Cicero's
consular year by the birth of Augustus--him who afterward became
Augustus Caesar.[211] Had a Roman been living now, he might be excused
for saying that it was an honor to Augustus to have been born in the
year of Cicero's Consulship.


[177] Catiline, by Mr. Beesly. Fortnightly Review, 1865.

[178] Pro Murena, xxv.: "Quem omnino vivum illine exire non oportuerat."
I think we must conclude from this that Cicero had almost expected that
his attack upon the conspirators, in his first Catiline oration, would
have the effect of causing him to be killed.

[179] Aeneid, viii., 668:

"Te, Catalina, minaci
Pendentem scopulo."

[180] Velleius Paterculus, lib. ii, xxxiv.

[181] Juvenal, Sat. ii., 27: "Catilina Cethegum!" Could such a one as
Catiline answer such a one as Cethegus? Sat. viii., 232: "Arma tamen
vos Nocturna et flammas domibus templisque parastis." Catiline, in
spite of his noble blood, had endeavored to burn the city. Sat. xiv.,
41: "Catilinam quocunque in populo videas." It is hard to find a good
man, but it is easy enough to put your hand anywhere on a Catiline.

[182] Val Maximus, lib. v., viii., 5; lib. ix., 1, 9; lib. ix., xi., 3.

[183] Florus, lib. iv.

[184] Mommsen's History of Rome, book v., chap v.

[185] I feel myself constrained here to allude to the treatment given
to Catiline by Dean Merivale in his little work on the two Roman
Triumvirates. The Dean's sympathies are very near akin to those of Mr.
Beesly, but he values too highly his own historical judgment to
allow it to run on all fours with Mr. Beesly's sympathies. "The real
designs," he says, "of the infamous Catiline and his associates must
indeed always remain shrouded in mystery.----Nevertheless, it is
impossible to deny, and on the whole it would be unreasonable to
doubt, that such a conspiracy there really was, and that the very
existence of the commonwealth was for a moment seriously imperilled."
It would certainly be unreasonable to doubt it. But the Dean, though
he calls Catiline infamous, and acknowledges the conspiracy, never-
theless give us ample proof of his sympathy with the conspirators,
or rather of his strong feeling against Cicero. Speaking of Catiline
at a certain moment, he says that he "was not yet hunted down." He
speaks of the "upstart Cicero," and plainly shows us that his heart
is with the side which had been Caesar's. Whether conspiracy or no
conspiracy, whether with or without wholesale murder and rapine, a
single master with a strong hand was the one remedy needed for Rome!
The reader must understand that Cicero's one object in public life
was to resist that lesson.

[186] Asconius, "In to gacandida," reports that Fenestella, a writer
of the time of Augustus, had declared that Cicero had defended
Catiline; but Asconius gives his reasons for disbelieving the story.

[187] Cicero, however, declares that he has made a difference between
traitors to their country and other criminals. Pro P. Sulla, ca.
iii.: "Verum etiam quaedam contagio scelens, si defendas eum, quem
obstrictum esse patriae parricidio suspicere." Further on in the same
oration, ca. vi., he explains that he had refused to defend Autronius
because he had known Autronius to be a conspirator against his
country. I cannot admit the truth of the argument in which Mr. Forsyth
defends the practice of the English bar in this respect, and in doing
so presses hard upon Cicero. "At Rome," he says, "it was different.
The advocate there was conceived to have a much wider discretion than
we allow." Neither in Rome nor in England has the advocate been held
to be disgraced by undertaking the defence of bad men who have been
notoriously guilty. What an English barrister may do, there was no
reason that a Roman advocate should not do, in regard to simple
criminality. Cicero himself has explained in the passage I have quoted
how the Roman practice did differ from ours in regard to treason. He
has stated also that he knew nothing of the first conspiracy when he
offered to defend Catiline on the score of provincial peculations. No
writer has been heavy on Hortensius for defending Verres, but only
because he took bribes from Verres.

[188] Publius Cornelius Sulla, and Publius Autronius Poetus.

[189] Pro P. Sulla, iv. He declares that he had known nothing of
the first conspiracy and gives the reason: "Quod nondum penitus in
republic aver sabar, quod nondum ad propositum mihi finem honoris
perveneram, quod mea me ambitio et forensis labor ab omni illa
cogitatione abstrahebat."

[190] Sallust, Catilinaria, xviii.

[191] Livy, Epitome, lib. ci.

[192] Suetonius, J. Caesar, ix.

[193] Mommsen, book v., ca. v., says of Caesar and Crassus as to
this period, "that this notorious action corresponds with striking
exactness to the secret action which this report ascribes to them." By
which he means to imply that they probably were concerned in the plot.

[194] Sallust tells us, Catilinaria, xlix., that Cicero was instigated
by special enemies of Caesar to include Caesar in the accusation,
but refused to mix himself up in so great a crime. Crassus also was
accused, but probably wrongfully. Sallust declares that an attempt was
made to murder Caesar as he left the Senate. There was probably some
quarrel and hustling, but no more.

[195] Sallust, Catilinaria, xxxvii.: "Omnino cuneta plebes, novarum
rerum studio, Catilinae incepta probabat." By the words "novarum
rerum studio--by a love of revolution--we can understand the kind of
popularity which Sallust intended to express.

[196] Pro Murena, xxv.

[197] "Darent operam consules ne quid detrimenti respublica capiat"

[198] Catilinaria, xxxi.

[199] Quintilian,lib.xii, 10: "Quem tamen et suorum homines temporum
incessere audebant, ut tumidiorem, et asianum, et redundantem."

[200] Orator., xxxvii.: "A nobis homo audacissimus Catilina in senatu
accusatus obmutuit."

[201] 2 Catilinaria, xxxi.

[202] In the first of them to the Senate, chap.ix., he declares this
to Catiline himself: "Si mea voce perterritus ire in exsilium animum
induxeris, quanta tempestas invidiae nobis, si minus in praesens
tempus, recenti memoria scelerum tuorum, at in posteritatem
impendeat." He goes on to declare that he will endure all that, if by
so doing he can save the Republic "Sed est mihi tanti; dummodo ista
privata sit calamitas, et a reipublicae periculis sejungatui"

[203] Sallust, Catilinaria, xli.: "Itaque Q. Fabio Sangae cujus
patrocinio civitas plurimum utebatur rem omnem uti cognoverant

[204] Horace, Epo. xvi., 6: "Novisque rebus infidelis Allobrox." The
unhappy Savoyard has from this line been known through ages as a
conspirator, false even to his fellow-conspirators. Juvenal, vii.,
214: "Rufum qui toties Ciceronem Allobroga dixit." Some Rufus,
acting as advocate, had thought to put down Cicero by calling him an

[205] The words in which this honor was conferred he himself repeats:
"Quod urbem incendiis, caede cives, Italiam bello liberassem"--"
because I had rescued the city from fire, the citizens from slaughter,
and Italy from war."

[206] It is necessary in all oratory to read something between the
lines. It is allowed to the speaker to produce effect by diminishing
and exaggeratng. I think we should detract something from the praises
bestowed on Catiline's military virtues. The bigger Catiline could be
made to appear, the greater would be the honor of having driven him
out of the city.

[207] In Catilinam, iii., xi.

[208] In Catilinam, ibid., xii.: "Ne mihi noceant vestrum est

[209] "Prince of the Senate" was an honorary title, conferred on
some man of mark as a dignity--at this period on some ex-Consul; it
conferred no power. Cicero, the Consul who had convened the Senate,
called on the speakers as he thought fit.

[210] Caesar, according to Sallust, had referred to the Lex Porcia.
Cicero alludes, and makes Caesar allude, to the Lex Sempronia. The
Porcian law, as we are told by Livy, was passed B.C. 299, and forbade
that a Roman should be scourged or put to death. The Lex Sempronia
was introduced by C. Gracchus, and enacted that the life of a citizen
should not be taken without the voice of the citizens.

[211] Velleius Paterculus, xxxvi.: "Consulatui Ciceronis non mediocre
adjecit decus natus eo anno Divus Augustus."



The idea that the great Consul had done illegally in putting citizens
to death was not allowed to lie dormant even for a day. It must be
remembered that a decree of the Senate had no power as a law. The laws
could be altered, or even a new law made, only by the people. Such was
the constitution of the Republic. Further on, when Cicero will
appeal as, in fact, on trial for the offence so alleged to have been
committed, I shall have to discuss the matter; but the point was
raised against him, even in the moment of his triumph, as he was
leaving the Consulship. The reiteration of his self-praise had created
for him many enemies. It had turned friends against him, and had
driven men even of his own party to ask themselves whether all this
virtue was to be endured. When a man assumes to be more just than his
neighbors there will be many ways found of throwing in a shell against
him. It was customary for a Consul when he vacated his office to make
some valedictory speech. Cicero was probably expected to take full
advantage of the opportunity. From other words which have come from
him, on other occasions but on the same subject, it would not be
difficult to compose such a speech as he might have spoken. But there
were those who were already sick of hearing him say that Rome had been
saved by his intelligence and courage. We can imagine what Caesar
might have said among his friends of the expediency of putting down
this self-laudatory Consul. As it was, Metellus Nepos, one of the
Tribunes, forbade the retiring officer to do more than take the oath
usual on leaving office, because he had illegally inflicted death upon
Roman citizens. Metellus, as Tribune, had the power of stopping any
official proceeding. We hear from Cicero himself that he was quite
equal to the occasion. He swore, on the spur of the moment, a solemn
oath, not in accordance with the form common to Consuls on leaving
office, but to the effect that during his Consulship Rome had been
saved by his work alone.[212] We have the story only as it is told by
Cicero himself, who avers that the people accepted the oath as sworn
with exceeding praise.[213] That it was so we may, I think, take as
true. There can be no doubt as to Cicero's popularity at this moment,
and hardly a doubt also as to the fact that Metellus was acting in
agreement with Caesar, and also in accord with the understood feelings
of Pompey, who was absent with his army in the East. This Tribune
had been till lately an officer under Pompey, and went into office
together with Caesar, who in that year became Praetor. This, probably,
was the beginning of the party which two years afterward formed
the first Triumvirate, B.C. 60. It was certainly now, in the year
succeeding the Consulship of Cicero, that Caesar, as Praetor, began
his great career.

[Sidenote: B.C. 62, aetat. 45.]

It becomes manifest to us, as we read the history of the time, that
the Dictator of the future was gradually entertaining the idea that
the old forms of the Republic were rotten, and that any man who
intended to exercise power in Rome or within the Roman Empire must
obtain it and keep it by illegal means. He had probably adhered to
Catiline's first conspiracy, but only with such moderate adhesion as
enabled him to withdraw when he found that his companions were not
fit for the work. It is manifest that he sympathized with the later
conspiracy, though it may be doubted whether he himself had ever been
a party to it. "When the conspiracy had been crushed by Cicero, he had
given his full assent to the crushing, of it. We have seen how loudly
he condemned the wickedness of the conspirators in his endeavor to
save their lives. But, through it all, there was a well-grounded
conviction in his mind that Cicero, with all his virtues, was not
practical. Not that Cicero was to him the same as Cato, who with his
Stoic grandiloquence must, to his thinking, have been altogether
useless. Cicero, though too virtuous for supreme rule, too virtuous
to seize power and hold it, too virtuous to despise as effete the
institutions of the Republic, was still a man so gifted, and capable
in so many things, as to be very great as an assistant, if he would
only condescend to assist. It is in this light that Caesar seems
to have regarded Cicero as time went on; admiring him, liking him,
willing to act with him if it might be possible, but not the less
determined to put down all the attempts at patriotic republican virtue
in which the orator delighted to indulge. Mr. Forsyth expresses an
opinion that Caesar, till he crossed the Rubicon after his ten years'
fighting in Gaul, had entertained no settled plan of overthrowing the
Constitution. Probably not; nor even then. It may be doubted whether
Caesar ever spoke to himself of overthrowing the Constitution. He came
gradually to see that power and wealth were to be obtained by violent
action, and only by violent action, He had before him the examples of
Marius and Sulla, both of whom had enjoyed power and had died in their
beds. There was the example, also, of others who, walking unwarily in
those perilous times, had been banished as was Verres, or killed as
was Catiline. We can easily understand that he, with his great genius,
should have acknowledged the need both of courage and caution. Both
were exercised when he consented to be absent from Rome, and almost
from Italy, during the ten years of the Gallic wars. But this, I
think, is certain, that from the time in which his name appears
prominent--from the period, namely, of the Catiline conspiracy--he had
determined not to overthrow the Constitution, but so to carry himself,
amid the great affairs of the day, as not to be overthrown himself.

Of what nature was the intercourse between him and Pompey when Pompey
was still absent in the East we do not know; but we can hardly doubt
that some understanding had begun to exist. Of this Cicero was
probably aware. Pompey was the man whom Cicero chose to regard as his
party-leader, not having himself been inured to the actual politics of
Rome early enough in life to put himself forward as the leader of
his party. It had been necessary for him, as a "novus homo," to come
forward and work as an advocate, and then as an administrative officer
of the State, before he took up with politics. That this was so I have
shown by quoting the opening words of his speech Pro Lege Manilia.
Proud as he was of the doings of his Consulship, he was still too new
to his work to think that thus he could claim to stand first. Nor did
his ambition lead him in that direction. He desired personal praise
rather than personal power. When in the last Catiline oration to the
people he speaks of the great men of the Republic--of the two Scipios,
and of Paulus Aemilius and of Marius--he adds the name of Pompey to
these names; or gives, rather, to Pompey greater glory than to any of
them; "Anteponatur omnibus Pompeius." This was but a few days before
Metellus as Tribune had stopped him in his speech--at the instigation,
probably, of Caesar, and in furtherance of Pompey's views. Pompey and
Caesar could agree, at any rate, in this--that they did not want such
a one as Cicero to interfere with them.

All of which Cicero himself perceived. The specially rich, province
of Macedonia, which would have been his had he chosen to take it on
quitting the Consulship, he made over to Antony--no doubt as a bribe,
as with us one statesman may resign a special office to another to
keep that other from kicking over the traces. Then Gaul became his
province, as allotted--Cisalpine Gaul, as northern Italy was then
called; a province less rich in plunder and pay than Macedonia. But
Cicero wanted no province, and had contrived that this should be
confided to Metellus Celer, the brother of Nepos, who, having been
Praetor when he himself was Consul, was entitled to a government. This
too was a political bribe. If courtesy to Caesar, if provinces given
up here and there to Antonys and Metelluses, if flattery lavished on
Pompey could avail anything, he could not afford to dispense with such
aids. It all availed nothing. From this time forward, for the twenty
years which were to run before his death, his life was one always of
trouble and doubt, often of despair, and on many occasions of
actual misery. The source of this was that Pompey whom, with divine
attributes, he had extolled above all other Romans.

The first extant letter written by Cicero after his Consulship was
addressed to Pompey.[214] Pompey was still in the East, but had
completed his campaigns against Mithridates successfully. Cicero
begins by congratulating him, as though to do so were the purpose of
his letter. Then he tells the victorious General that there were
some in Rome not so well pleased as he was at these victories. It
is supposed that he alluded here to Caesar; but, if so, he probably
misunderstood the alliance which was already being formed between
Caesar and Pompey. After that comes the real object of the epistle.
He had received letters from Pompey congratulating him in very cold
language as to the glories of his Consulship. He had expected much
more than that from the friend for whom he had done so much. Still, he
thanks his friend, explaining that the satisfaction really necessary

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