|The Story of Rome|
|by Mary Macgregor|
|A vivid account of the story of Rome from the earliest times to the death of Augustus, retold for children, chronicling the birth of a city and its growth through storm and struggle to become a great world empire. Gives short accounts of battles and campaigns, and of the men who expanded the borders of the Roman empire to include all lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Ages 10-14 |
CICERO DISCOVERS THE CATILINARIAN CONSPIRACY
 THE excitement caused by Pompey's return to Rome was soon
over. Then the great general found that, in spite of
all that he had done for his country, and in spite of
the splendour of his triumph, there were many in the
city who did not welcome his return.
His very first request to the Senate was refused, and
it may be that Pompey thought half regretfully of his
disbanded army. To it his slightest wish had been law.
The Optimates, too, had grown used to his absence, and
were ready to thwart or ignore him.
So Pompey determined to join the two most powerful men
in Rome at that time. One of these was the wealthy
Crassus, the other was Julius Cæsar, who was destined
to become the greatest man Rome had ever known.
Pompey did not like Crassus, and he soon became jealous
of Julius Cæsar. But in the meantime these three men
formed a secret union, for they thought that then they
alone would govern Rome. This union was afterwards
called The First Triumvirate. When Pompey married
Julia, the beautiful daughter of Cæsar, it seemed
probable that the father and husband would share many
For a time another great man named Cicero threw in his
lot with the three leaders. It is of him that I wish
to tell you now.
Cicero was a great orator and man of letters. In 63
B.C. he was chosen Consul. During the lifetime of
Sulla, Cicero's influence was used on behalf of the
plebeians. But before
 long his reverence for the Rome of the past made him
ready to denounce any side which threatened to
disregard the ancient laws.
In the end he joined the Optimates, because he believed
that if they would cease to live only for pleasure, and
would learn to govern the provinces with justice, the
old order of things might be restored.
By eloquent speeches he tried to rouse the nobles to
live more useful and upright lives. But they paid
little heed to his words, partly, perhaps, because they
did not find that his teaching rang true. For they
knew that he did not always act justly although he bade
them do so, that he often used his eloquence to defend
his friend or his party, when it was plain that the
cause of neither was just. And so his words had not
the power which true words always have.
Two years before Cicero became Consul, Rome had been
greatly disturbed by the discovery of a plot to kill
the Consuls, to seize the government, and even to burn
This plot, which was never proved, was known as The
First Catilinarian Conspiracy, for Catiline, who had
belonged to Sulla's party, was said to have planned it.
In 63 B.C. Cicero declared that a new plot was being
prepared by the same leader.
Catiline had gathered around him a band of the wildest
of the popular party. His followers hoped that
Catiline would be elected Consul, and that then he
would reward them. One of the ways in which he could
do this would be by passing a law for the abolition of
But Catiline was not chosen Consul, while Cicero was.
It was then, in his rage and disappointment, that
Catiline was said to have made a deliberate plot to
assassinate Cicero, to attack the houses of the
senators, and to burn the city. While this was being
done, an invading army was to march into Rome.
Now there seemed reason to be alarmed, for it was known
that troops were assembling near Fæsulæ, a small
 town about three miles from Florence. And not only so,
but their captain was Manlius, an old officer of Sulla.
Since the terrible proscriptions, it was natural that
any one who had been connected with Sulla was feared as
well as hated.
Although Cicero had no doubt that a plot was on foot,
he could not find proof enough to arrest the
conspirators. Yet at a meeting of Senate, early in
November, the Consul rose, and in a vehement speech
denounced Catiline, who was present. The conspirator
sat apart from the other senators, for he knew that
they were suspicious of him.
When Cicero's speech ended, Catiline begged the Senate
not to judge him hastily, and then he left the
That same night the conspirator left Rome apparently
for Marseilles, where, if a Roman chose to live in
exile, he could escape being impeached by his
On his journey, Catiline wrote a letter to a friend,
begging him to protect his wife, and at the same time
he assured him that he, Catiline, was innocent, "save
only that he wished to help his countrymen who were
poor and downtrodden."
The following morning Cicero made another speech
against Catiline, and as the people clamoured to know
why the conspirator had been allowed to escape, the
Consul confessed that he had not proof sufficient to
The following morning Cicero made another speech against Catiline.
Before long the city was startled to hear that the
fugitive had not gone to Marseilles, but to the camp at
Fæsulæ, where he was now in command of the army.
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