Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

nor Cato in the Senate, nor Lucullus in his luxuries, nor, least of all, Crassus and Cæsar, themselves suspected of conspiring with Catiline,36 were watching over the liberty and the preservation of Rome; her guardian on earth was Cicero.

To him alone had been disclosed 37 the extent and the purposes of the conspiracy which Catiline had begun to organize so early as at the time when he and Cicero were competitors for the consulship. The leading associates whom Catiline then selected were men of various ranks and still more various aims: some weak-minded, like Cornelius Lentulus, — formerly Consul, afterwards expelled from the Senate, but now again in the prætorship, — who aspired to “reign,” 38 as he did; others dull, like Cassius Longinus, who would rise through rebellion to some of the opportunities of fortune or authority above their reach in peace; and others still, bankrupt and debauched, like Quintus Curius, an ejected Senator, or the younger Cornelius Cethegus, who rather sought indulgence for their lusts and prodigalities. Many Senators and more Knights, from the country and the colonies which Sulla spread 39 over Italy, as well as from the city, were sooner or later involved, through their own will, in the same toils.40

36 They had, at all events, sup- 38 There was a prophecy current ported his canvass against Cicero; that a third Cornelius (Cinna having but there is no proof of their having been a first, and Sulla a second) taken part in the conspiracy. should reign at Rome. Plut., Cic.,

37 Through Fulvia, a lady of high 17. rank, and the mistress of Quintus 39 Plut., Cic., 14. Sall., Cat., Curius, the conspirator. Sall., Cat., 28. Cic., In Cat., II. 9. 23, 26.

40 Sall., Cat., 17. Cic., In Cat., II. 8-10. See Drumann, Gesch. na erepta, jus libertatis imminutum Roms, Vol. V. pp. 415 et seq. erat. .... . Ad hoc quicumque 41 Sall., Cat., 21.

renc

The genius of Catiline subdued alike the restless and the sluggish, the lustful and the ambitious; their wants, he said, were his; and the plans they may have seemed to suggest were pursued as he determined. At the outset, he proposed the abolition of debts, the renewal of proscriptions, and the control of the Commonwealth 41 by taking possession of its highest offices. But when Cicero was elected over him, his designs expanded and darkened ; large sums of money and supplies of arms were raised; emissaries were sent about the country, and a camp was formed in Etruria to receive the recruits they could collect; until, by dint of promises, persuasions, and excitements, many of the younger men and the lower classes, especially in the Italian towns,42 were enlisted in what was called “the very grand and the very noble enterprise." 43 Even the populace of Rome, who hailed Cicero as their Consul in the early part of the following year, and trusted in Cæsar as their leader through the subsequent proceedings which Cicero opposed, were, at the time of the new elections, wavering towards Catiline, who, in gaining the consulship, expected to obtain the foothold he required to move the world.

But the repulse he encountered in the Campus Martius drove him to fiercer projects than could easily succeed even with the Roman people. He had repelled the denunciations of Cato in the Senate, some time before his above-mentioned rejoinder to Cicero, by swearing aloud, that, if any fire, as he said, were kindled against his designs, he would extinguish it, not by water, but by universal ruin ; 44 and almost immediately after the elections, the outbreak, long since prepared in Etruria, took place; while the life of Cicero was barely saved from threatened assassination in the city. Our narrative has been purposely inverted, in order that this long train of plots and resources may appear, as it actually was, to have been unknown to all save Cicero and the few in whom he confided, even after the scenes related in the Senatehouse. But the time was come when the Senate, at least, needed to be made aware of the fire and sword daily brought, as it were, unseen, in the robes of Catiline, into their assemblages.

aliarum atque Senati partium erant." 42 « Omnino cuncta plebes. ..... Ibid., 37. See Capp. 24, 26, 27. Urbana plebes. ..... Juventus in 43 “ Maximum atque pulcherriagris. . . . . . Præterea quorum, vic- mum facinus." Ibid., 20. toria Sullæ, parentes proscripti, bo

On the morning, therefore, after Cicero had escaped murder, he called the Senators to meet him in the temple of Jupiter Stator, the Preserver. It was but eighteen days 45 since he had denounced the conspiracy, and not yet as many hours since the intelligence from the camp in Etruria had arrived. Catiline, however, did not scruple to come to the temple at the Consul's summons; but when he approached the cu

44 Cic., Pro Mur., 25.
“The ills that I have done cannot be safe

But by allempting greater ; and I feel
A spirit within me chideg mysluggish

hands," etc.

Ben Jonson's Catiline, Act I. sc. 1.

45 From October 21 to November 8 (A. C. 63), the day of the first oration against Catiline. See Drumann, Gesch. Roms, Vol. V. p. 456, note.

meanour

rule seats, where many of the more reputable Senators were gathered, they rose and left him as though his touch had been fatal. Shrinking thus from Catiline, they turned towards Cicero, in hope of explanation, and, as might be added, were they better men, of sympathy. He rose with excited and resolute demeanour. Day and night had he watched for the hour in which he could unveil the dangers whose premature disclosure would have been a still greater peril, and yet whose concealment was too severe a trial of his strength to be longer endured. In words each one of which was a relief to him and a terror or a sting to Catiline, he unmasked the designs he had successfully but secretly withstood, and bade the enemy against whom he had already protected himself and his country begone from the Senate and from Rome. “And thou, Jupiter,” he concluded, “ whom we call the Preserver of our city and our dominions, I thou wilt drive this man and his accomplices away

from thy shrines and from our walls, — thou wilt save our fortunes and our lives !” 46 It was as the triumph of the Commonwealth which he represented over its own obliquities, when these, in the person of Catiline, unable to reply, were driven from the temple before the virtues of the Consul and the maledictions of the Senators. 47

But the deity to whom Cicero appealed for defence or inspiration had no ears to hear the entreaties of the imploring voice or of the upright heart. The

46 In Cat., I. 13. 47 Plut., Cic., 16. Sall., Cat., 31. Cf. Diod. Sic., Reliq., XL. 5.

« НазадПродовжити »