Cicero’s Journal: Cataline’s Conspiracy

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I regret that my orations opposing Cataline were not the final chapter in his history. When I supported legal measures to impose increased penalties for electoral bribery, he took exception, believing that he was the target of these laws and he conceived a plan to assassinate me.

I was informed of the plan from the mistress of one of the co-conspirators in this plot, Quintus Curius Curius. She contacted my wife and her acquaintance, Terentia and revealed everything. Since the plan was to attack me on election day, I persuaded the senate to postpone the elections.

I also hired a bodyguard and began wearing a breastplate under my toga. Perhaps because his plot had become public knowledge, Cataline abandoned it. He ran again for Consul and failed yet again. It was then that became more disgruntled than ever and hatched his most insidious plot: a full-fledged coup d’etat.

Put off by his radical plan, his former supporters Caesar and Crassus abandoned him. Crassus himself approached me and warned me that his doorkeeper had been tasked with delivering several letters to various important Romans, including one addressed to Crassus. Crassus had opened and presented his letter, which was anonymous, stated that Cataline was planning to massacre much of the senate, and warned Crassus to leave the city. Of course, I suspected forgery. While plotting a massacre was not out of character for Cataline, the anonymous nature of the letters was suspect. It is possible Crassus had forged them in order to avoid implication in this plot.

I assumed responsibility for delivering the letters, and I handed them out at a meeting of the senate the following day. I requested the recipients to read the letters aloud, and they all made mention of a malicious plot by Cataline. Prior to this, I had always felt that the Senate had treated me as an outsider: a parvenu who constantly sounded the alarm as to the demise of the Republic. But now, I had presented proof of a dangerous plot and it was up to the senate to allow me to thwart it.

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