A note on Catiline
by: Aldus Marius Peregrinus
Lucius Sergius Catilina may or may not have been plotting to assassinate all the Magistrates; once we begin accepting evidence from other places besides his opponents ("History is written by the victors", indeed), it begins to look increasingly like "Not". It is rather easier to demonstrate that he had formed up an army and was prepared to fight the Senate for whatever it was he was really after. There were a lot of desperate second-string politicos at that time, frustrated at their enforced powerlessness to accomplish anything through legal means. The raising of an army most certainly did qualify as a crime against the State, whether or not one thinks it was justifiable. But there are ways to handle that.
Cicero did not handle it any of those ways. Apparently, even though he was Consul, he didn't feel he could accomplish what he wanted through the system, either. So he convened the Senate at night, and after not enough debate, ordered Roman citizens (the supposed conspirators) executed without trial. This was the most egregious violation of civil rights since the murders of the Gracchi, which I have elsewhere described as a crime against the Gods. If Roman Law no longer had the power to protect, of what use was the Republic?
Catilina himself perished at the Battle of Pistoia with his home-grown army. Even his enemies said that he died in a manner so brave that he would've gone down in history as a hero if he'd been fighting for the other side.
All that makes me wonder what he was trying to do. History won't tell us. But it must have been awfully important to him.
For a long time I ran an e-List called [Catilinarians]. It was for Nova Roma's "Dissident Wing", who were becoming frustrated at the seeming hopelessness of calling attention to problems in that organization, or of trying to get anything done about them in a general atmosphere of "The Censores hereby declare that Everything Is Cool and All Are Content." Under the circumstances, that was the only List-name that made sense...
Aldus Marius Peregrinus