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conspiracy, indeed, of Catiline was soon suppressed; he fell, as all have read, at the head of his army, 48 to which he hastened from the Senate; and the associates whom he left in Rome, hemmed in by the patience and confounded by the power of Cicero, were taken and executed before the rout of their leader in the field.49 Nor was the Consul alone engaged in the preservation of the Commonwealth. The acts of the Senate, the exertions of the magistrates and the officers, the energies of the Knights, and even the sympathies of the people, supported his designs, and crowned them with success so complete, that the liberty of Rome seemed restored to a new life, at the same time that it was saved from extinction in the massacres and the conflagrations of the conspirators. But the same liberty had permitted them to conspire, if it had not allowed them to prevail; and without recurring to the condition of things remaining after, exactly as before, the conspiracy, it will be enough to throw some light upon the means by which the victotory of the faithful over the faithless citizens of the Commonwealth was secured.
Soon after the flight of Catiline, and while the conspiracy was daily thickening within and without the city, Licinius Murena, mentioned as one of the Consuls elect, was prosecuted by an unsuccessful candidate on the charge of bribery. The accuser was sustained by Cato ; 30 but though there was no doubt in relation to the justice of the accusation, the accused was defended by Crassus, Hortensius, and particularly by Cicero, who pleaded the danger of holding a new election at such a season, and insisted upon the necessity of leaving the highest authority in vigorous hands,51 whether stained, though this he did not urge, or unstained. The same necessity of sacrificing principle to expediency, or rather of turning expediency into a principle, appeared when the Senate assembled to pass sentence upon the accomplices of Catiline. It was scarcely known how they might be supported amongst the citizens; while fears were reasonably entertained that they would yet be rescued,52 and bring the city into greater danger than before. But the laws of the early and the later Commonwealth alike declared the inviolability of the Roman citizen, except it were suspended by a full assembly of the Centuries; and Cicero hesitated, while the Senate was divided in opinion, until he seemed to see, not only the risk of allowing the conspirators to live, but the certain evil of following the opinion put forth by Cæsar, because it was his, proposing the confiscation of their estates and the confinement of their persons in some of the Italian towns.53 The oration, yet remaining fresh from Cicero's lips,
48 At the beginning of the follow- 49 They were given into custody ing year, A.C. 62. Sall., Cat., 60. on the 4th and put to death in prison Flor., IV. 1. He had 20,000 men on the 5th of December. Sall., under bis command. Sall., Cat., Cat., 40 – 47, 55. App., Bell. Civ., 37, 39. App., Bell. Civ., II. 7. II. 6.
50 Cato's purity is not, however, 51 Cic., Pro Murena, 37 et seq. to be overestimated. Murena's col- 52 Sall., Cat., 50. App., Bell. league elect, Junius Silanus, was Civ., II. 5. Dion Cass., XXXVII. equally guilty of corruption; but 35. Silanus was Cato's brother-in-law. 53 Plut., Cæs., 7. Sall., Cat., 51. Plut., Cat., 21.