It was at this point that Cataline was accused and taken to trial for alleged extortion he had committed while serving as Governor in Africa. It was because of this that he was not allowed to fill one of the vacant Consulships after the two Consul-elects were convicted of bribery.
Consequently, he became disgruntled and plotted with a group of criminals to assassinate those men who were selected to take the place of the debarred Consul-elects as well as a large group of Senators. He, of course, failed but he was still able to attract the attention of Marcus Lincinius Crassus and Gaius Julius Caesar, who provided him with the connections and funds he needed to remain politically active and a threat.
I was truly desperate to stop Cataline from becoming Consul. I went as far as to briefly entertain the idea of defending Cataline from the extortion charges in exchange for his cooperation with my candidacy for Consul. This recourse weighed on me heavily, and I would not have entertained it unless I believed the stability and integrity of the Republic was at stake. Nevertheless, I elected not to make such an offer, and Cataline rigged his own acquittal without my help.
It was at this point that I gave my famous orations against Cataline. I made his and Antonius’s private misdeeds public: the conspiracy to assassinate the Consular Replacements, their role in Sulla’s Proscriptions, Cataline’s frequent association with criminals, and many more crimes against the Republic than I care to list here.
I am glad to report that my orations were effective, and that I won the election by a wide margin. In doing so, I proved that my oratory powers overcame Cataline’s illicit tactics of bribery, extortion, and violence. What is more, I had risen to the highest office in the land without claiming lineage from any previous Consuls or national politicians. The Consulship had been hitherto dominated by Rome’s famous dynastic families, such as the Claudii and Julii. Gaining the Consulship without compromising my principles and integrity is the proudest achievement of my career.