Cicero’s Journal: Defense Against Cataline’s Conspiracy

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The senate granted me the authority I needed to sentence Cataline through an emergency provision called the Final Act. Although its wording was ambiguous, it allowed me as Consul to sentence Roman citizens without need of trial.

When soldiers began assembling in Etruria, as predicted by the letters, I used the authority granted to me by The Final Act to take military countermeasures. When rebellious soldiers marched on the town of Praeneste, which neighbored Rome, we were prepared and successfully repelled the invasion.

Cataline did not believe the Senate had the evidence to connect him to the rebellions. When he caught word of the forthcoming prosecution, he offered to surrender himself into custody, which I declined. After this, he summoned yet another meeting of his co-conspirators and parceled out the regions of Italy and assigned regions of the city to be burned. He sent two of his co-conspirators at the meeting to my house to assassinate me in the early hours of the morning. I was informed of this meeting by a defector, Fulvia, with enough advance notice to increase my guard and refuse admission to the would-be assassins.

I summoned the senate two days later at the temple of Jupiter the Stayer. It was near the Palatine Hill and it was easier to guard than the Senate House. When I confronted him with allegations of this meeting, he lost his temper. He disparagingly called me an “immigrant” and demanded trial. I asked the Senate if they would consign Cataline to exile, and they agreed. Nevertheless, he was allowed to leave the meeting freely.


Cataline now understood that the only chance for him to salvage his designs on Rome was through a military route. He exited the city and summoned 300 armed men who had agreed to aid the conspiracy. He retreated to the town of Faesulae. When word of this reached the Senate, they declared him a public enemy.

It was at this point that I deferred management of the Cataline conspiracy to Lentulus.

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