(Lucius Sergius Catilina)

108–62 BC

Catiline is renowned for his involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the government of Rome and seize power by force. His conspiracy was not carried out however, because it was discovered by Cicero. Catiline himself first appears in history as one of Sulla's henchmen. He is said to have slain his own brother-in-law, as well as others. He is accused of many other outrages as well, but of course, his history has been recorded mostly by his enemies. He held various public offices including quaestor, praetor, and governor of Africa before failing in his first attempt to run for consul in 65 B.C. He was so incensed at the circumstances of this loss that he plotted to kill the new consuls. However, his scheme was never carried out, and he was acquitted when brought to trial on extortion charges. He ran again for consul two years later and lost to Cicero. This time he planned a much more extensive conspiracy, which included many high level Romans, and the collection of money for hiring soldiers. This plot was uncovered by Cicero, however, who made well-supported accusations against Catiline and many of his conspirators on the Senate floor. Given that the plot, if carried out, would have plunged the city into civil war, the populace was very grateful to have been spared such an ordeal. Several of the chief conspirators were immediately put to death, but Catiline himself escaped, only to perish a month later in an altercation outside of Rome. The problems with the republican government remained, however, and three years later, Pompey, Cicero, and Crassus formed the first triumvirate, effectively taking over the government, but without bloodshed.

Key events during the life of Catiline:

82 BC
Partisan of Sulla during the proscriptions. Slew his own brother-in-law.
77 BC
68 BC
67 BC
Governor of Africa.
65 BC
Accused of plotting to murder the consuls, but acquitted.
63 BC
Ran for consul, but was defeated by Cicero. His plan to seize the consulship by force was uncovered by Cicero.
63 BC
Co-conspirators condemned and executed. Catiline held out for a month, but then fell in battle.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Great Conspiracy  in  Roman Life in the Days of Cicero  by  Alfred J. Church
Conspiracy of Catiline  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Cicero  in  Famous Men of Rome  by  John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland
Cicero  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Cicero Discovers the Catiline Conspiracy  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor

Image Links

Cicero denouncing Catiline
 in The Story of the Romans

Cicero denouncing Catiline, Maccari
 in Famous Men of Rome

Short Biography
Cicero Orator. Leader of aristocratic party. Put down Catiline conspiracy. Well known writer.
Clodius Violent enemy of Cicero. Populist rabble-rouser and demagogue.
Crassus Very wealthy general. Fought Spartacus. Formed triumvirate with Pompey and Caesar.
Lentulus Influential Roman who was charged as a co-conspirator with Catiline.