Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak. — John Adams

Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

The Death of the Conspirators

The Senate no sooner knew that Catiline was with the army than it proclaimed both him and Manlius public enemies.

A messenger was sent to the camp to offer pardon to any who should leave it within a certain time. But no one took advantage of this offer, while many soldiers continued to crowd into it. Rome grew more and more alarmed.

Antonius, the colleague of Cicero, was sent at the head of an army to Fæsulæ. As he was a friend of Catiline he pretended to be ill, and his army did the conspirators no harm. Cicero himself stayed to guard the city, for it was suspected that there was treachery within her walls.

Soon after this the Consul unexpectedly received the proof of the conspirators' guilt.

A Gallic tribe that had been forced to pay a heavy tax to the Romans now sent envoys to Rome to beg that the tax might be removed.

As it chanced, the conspirators in the city saw the envoys, and tried to persuade them to hasten back to their tribe and send a troop of cavalry to the help of the camp at Fæsulæ. They were assured that if they would do this Catiline would see that the money tax was removed.

The envoys promised to aid the conspirators, but they had scarcely left the city when they changed their minds.

Catiline's plot might fail, they said to one another, and then what would happen to their tribe for sending soldiers to his aid, while, if they told Cicero all that they knew, the Consul would certainly reward them well? So they went back into the city and told Cicero what they had been asked to do.

The Consul knew that he now possessed the proof he had so long sought in vain. Moreover, the whole city would rise in fury when she heard that the conspirators had wished to invade Rome with the aid of Gallic troops. So he promised to reward the envoys well if they would do as he bade them.

They were again to leave Rome, and to appear to be faithful to Catiline. But when they had gone a little distance they would be arrested. Now were they to resist overmuch, while the letters they carried were to be given up after a mere show of reluctance.

The envoys agreed to do as the Consul wished, and soon the letters which betrayed the four conspirators within the city were in the hands of the Consul. They were at once arrested and put under guard, while one of them, being a prætor, was forced to resign his office.

Cicero then assembled the people, and delivered his third speech against Catiline and his fellow-conspirators.

When the people heard of the attempted league with Gaul they were roused to a frenzy. Their own leaders had betrayed them, and they were loud in their praise of Cicero for detecting the traitors' schemes.

The Consul had power to pronounce sentence of death on evil-doers, if it seemed necessary for the good of the State. But he did not use his power, begging the Senate rather to counsel him as to what sentence they should suffer.

Many of the senators urged that the four guilty men should be put to death, but Julius Cæsar was more merciful.

'Their crimes,' he said, 'deserve the severest punishment, but when the excitement is over, severity beyond the laws will be remembered, the crimes forgotten.'

He then proposed that the four men should be imprisoned for life, and that their property should be confiscated.

Cæsar's words almost won the day. But Cato, the great-grandson of the Censor, spoke violently against mercy being shown to the conspirators.

Cato was one of the sternest of the Optimates, and his influence was great enough to sway the Senate. It now voted by a majority for the death of the prisoners, and the Consul at once ordered the four men to be strangled.

As Cicero left the Senate-house and hastened through the crowd in the Forum, he said to the people: 'They are dead.' The citizens seemed satisfied that their city would now be safe, while Cato and Catulus commended Cicero as the 'Father of his country.'

Early in 62 B.C. Catiline tried to march into Gaul with the troops that had remained faithful to him. But the Roman army was watching for him. He was forced to fight, and nearly all his men were slain.


Front Matter

The Lady Roma
The She-Wolf
The Twin Boys
Numitor's Grandson
The Sacred Birds
The Founding of Rome
The Sabine Maidens
The Tarpeian Rock
The Mysterious Gate
The King Disappears
The Peace-Loving King
Horatius Slays His Sister
Pride of Tullus Hostilius
King Who Fought and Prayed
The Faithless Friend
A Slave Becomes a King
Cruel Deed of Tullia
Fate of the Town of Gabii
Books of the Sibyl
Industry of Lucretia
Death of Lucretia
Sons of Brutus
Horatius Cocles
Mucius Burns Right Hand
The Divine Twins
The Tribunes
Coriolanus and His Mother
The Roman Army in a Trap
The Hated Decemvirs
The Death of Verginia
The Friend of the People
Camillus Captures Veii
The Statue of the Goddess
Schoolmaster Traitor
Battle of Allia
The Sacred Geese
The City Is Rebuilt
Volscians on Fire
Battle on the Anio
The Curtian Lake
Dream of the Two Consuls
The Caudine Forks
Caudine Forks Avenged
Fabius among the Hills
Battle of Sentinum
Son of Fabius Loses Battle
Pyrrhus King of the Epirots
Elephants at Heraclea
Pyrrthus and Fabricius
Pyrrhus is Defeated
Romans Build a Fleet
Battle of Ecnomus
Roman Legions in Africa
Regulus Taken Prisoner
Romans Conquer the Gauls
The Boy Hannibal
Hannibal Invades Italy
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
Battle of Trebia
Battle of Lake Trasimenus
Hannibal Outwits Fabius
Fabius Wins Two Victories
Battle of Cannae
Despair of Rome
Defeat of Hasdrubal
Claudius Enjoy a Triumph
Capture of New Carthage
Scipio Sails to Africa
Romans Set Fire to Camp
Hannibal Leaves Italy
The Battle of Zama
Scipio Receives a Triumph
Flamininus in Garlands
Death of Hannibal
Hatred of Cato for Carthage
The Stern Decree
Carthaginians Defend City
Destruction of Carthage
Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi
Tiberius and Octavius
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Death of Gaius Gracchus
The Gold of Jugurtha
Marius Wins Notice of Scipio
Marius Becomes Commander
Capture of Treasure Towns
Capture of Jugurtha
Jugurtha Brought to Rome
Marius Conquers Teutones
Marius Mocks the Ambassadors
Metellus Driven from Rome
Sulla Enters Rome
The Flight of Marius
Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius
Marius Returns to Rome
The Orator Aristion
Sulla Besieges Athens
Sulla Fights the Samnites
The Proscriptions of Sulla
The Gladiators' Revolt
The Pirates
Pompey Defeats Mithridates
Cicero Discovers Conspiracy
Death of the Conspirators
Caesar Captured by Pirates
Caesar Gives up Triumph
Caesar Praises Tenth Legion
Caesar Wins a Great Victory
Caesar Invades Britain
Caesar Crosses Rubicon
Caesar and the Pilot
The Flight of Pompey
Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr
Caesar is Loaded with Honours
Nobles Plot against Caesar
The Assassination of Caesar
Brutus Speaks to Citizens
Antony Speaks to Citizens
The Second Triumvirate
Battle of Philippi
Death of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
Battle of Actium
Antony and Cleopatra Die
Emperor Augustus