It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. — G. K. Chesterton

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber




The Conspiracy of Catiline

While Pompey was away in the East, a few young Romans, who had nothing else to do, imagined that it would be a fine thing to murder the consuls, abolish all the laws, plunder the treasury, and set fire to the city. They therefore formed a conspiracy, which was headed by Catiline, a very wicked man.

The reason why Catiline encouraged the young idlers to such crimes was that he had spent all his own money, had run deeply into debt, and wished to find some way to procure another fortune to squander on his pleasures.

Fortunately for Rome, this conspiracy was discovered by the consul Cicero, the most eloquent of all the Roman orators. He revealed the plot to the senate, but Catiline had the boldness to deny all knowledge of it.

Cicero then went on to denounce the traitor in one of those eloquent speeches which are read by all students of the Latin language. Catiline, however, indignantly left the senate hall, and, rushing out of the city, went to join the army of rebels that was awaiting him. But the conspirators who staid in the city were arrested and put to death by order of Cicero and the senate.

Cicero and Catiline
Cicero denouncing Catiline.


In the mean while, an army had been sent out against Catiline, who was defeated and killed, with the greater part of his soldiers. The Romans were so grateful to Cicero for saving them from the threatened destruction that they did him much honor, and called him the "Father of his Country."

Shortly after this event, and the celebration of Pompey's new triumph, the old rivalry between him and Crassus was renewed. They were no longer the only important men in Rome, however; for Julius Cæsar was gradually coming to have more and more power.

This Julius Cæsar was one of the greatest men in Rome. He was clever and cool, and first used his influence to secure the recall of the Romans whom Sulla had banished. As Cæsar believed in gentle measures, he had tried to persuade the senate to spare the young men who had plotted with Catiline. But he failed, owing to Cicero's eloquence, and thus first found himself opposed to this able man.

Cæsar was fully as ambitious as any of the Romans, and he is reported to have said, "I would rather be the first in a village than the second in Rome!" In the beginning of his career, however, he clearly understood that he must try and make friends, so he offered his services to both Pompey and Crassus.

Little by little Cæsar persuaded these two rivals that it was very foolish in them to fight, and finally induced them to be friends. When these three men had thus united their forces, they felt that they held the fortunes of Rome in their hands, and could do as they pleased.

They therefore formed a council of three men, or the Triumvirate, as it is called. Rome, they said, was still to be governed by the same officers as before; but they had so much influence in Rome that the people and senate did almost everything that the Triumvirate wished.

To seal this alliance, Cæsar gave his daughter Julia in marriage to Pompey. Then, when all was arranged according to his wishes, Cæsar asked for and obtained the government of Gaul for five years. To get rid of Cicero, Clodius, a friend of the Triumvirate, revived an old law, whereby any person who had put a Roman citizen to death without trial was made an outlaw. Clodius argued that Cicero had not only caused the death of the young Romans in Catiline's conspiracy, but had even been present at their execution.

Cicero could not avoid the law, so he fled, and staid away from Rome for the next sixteen months. This was a great trial to him, and he complained so much that he was finally recalled. The people, who loved him for his eloquence, then received him with many demonstrations of joy.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

The First Settlers
Escape from the Burning City
The Clever Trick
The Boards Are Eaten
The Wolf and the Twins
Romulus Builds Rome
The Maidens Carried Off
Union of Sabines and Romans
Death of Romulus
Strange Signs of the Romans
The Quarrel with Alba
The Horatii and Curiatii
Tarquin and the Eagle
The Roman Youths
The King Outwitted
The Murder of Tarquin
The Ungrateful Children
The Mysterious Books
Tarquin's Poppies
The Oracle of Delphi
The Death of Lucretia
The Stern Father
A Roman Triumph
A Roman Triumph (Cont.)
Defense of the Bridge
The Burnt Hand
The Twin Gods
The Wrongs of the Poor
Fable of the Stomach
The Story of Coriolanus
The Farmer Hero
The New Laws
Death of Virginia
Plans of a Traitor
A School-Teacher Punished
Invasion of the Gauls
The Sacred Geese
Two Heroes of Rome
Disaster at Caudine Forks
Pyrrhus and His Elephants
The Elephants Routed
Ancient Ships
Regulus and the Snake
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
The Romans Defeated
The Inventor Archimedes
The Roman Conquests
Destruction of Carthage
Roman Amusements
The Jewels of Cornelia
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Caius Gracchus
Jugurtha, King of Numidia
The Barbarians
The Social War
The Flight of Marius
The Proscription Lists
Sertorius and His Doe
Revolt of the Slaves
Pompey's Conquests
Conspiracy of Catiline
Caesar's Conquests
Crossing of the Rubicon
Battle of Pharsalia
The Death of Caesar
The Second Triumvirate
The Vision of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
The Poisonous Snake
The Augustan Age
Death of Augustus
Varus Avenged
Death of Germanicus
Tiberius Smothered
The Wild Caligula
Wicked Wives of Claudius
Nero's First Crimes
Christians Persecuted
Nero's Cruelty
Two Short Reigns
The Siege of Jerusalem
The Buried Cities
The Terrible Banquet
The Emperor's Tablets
The Good Trajan
Trajan's Column
The Great Wall
Hadrian's Death
Antoninus Pius
The Model Pagan
Another Cruel Emperor
An Unnatural Son
The Senate of Women
The Gigantic Emperor
Invasion of the Goths
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra
A Prophecy Fulfulled
First Christian Emperor
Roman Empire Divided
An Emperor's Penance
Sieges of Rome
End of the Western Empire