Catiline, Or Catilina, Lucius Scrgins, a Roman conspirator, killed in the engagement of Fae-sula3, 62 B. C. He was the descendant of an ancient but decayed patrician family, and is said by his enemies to have spent his youth and early manhood in a career of profligacy and crime, taking a bloody part in the proscriptions of Sulla, when even some of his own relations became his victims. He was suspected of criminal intercourse with a vestal, and believed guilty of the secret murder of his first wife and his son, committed in order to marry another woman. All this did not prevent him from obtaining important offices and aspiring to the highest dignities in the republic, being able by his mental and bodily powers, of which even his enemies speak with admiration, to undertake every task. Having been sent as praetor to Africa, he returned in 66 B. C. to Rome, to become a candidate in the next consular election, but was disqualified by a charge of extortion in his province, directed against him by Clodius Pulcher, known by his later enmity to Cicero. The newly elected consuls were convicted of bribery, and Cotta and Torquatus, their accusers and competitors, took their places.
On these Catiline resolved to wreak his vengeance, conspiring against their lives with Autronius, one of the deposed consuls, Cn. Piso, and others. The first day of the consulship was fixed for the assassination, but Catiline, it is said, frustrated the attempt by his impatient haste in giving the signal. This failure only stimulated him to greater undertakings. He now, it is alleged, formed a new conspiracy with the purpose of exterminating the whole body of the senate, murdering all the magistrates of the republic, and sharing its sway and treasures with his followers. Such is the representation of great contemporary writers, though their impartiality may be questioned. The corruption of the times favored his designs; ruined nobles of all ranks, profligates, and intriguing persons of both sexes, joined him; many veterans of Sulla were found ready to renew the familiar scenes of proscription; the restless populace could easily be used. His chief cooperators were P. C. Lentulus and P. Autronius, ex-consuls, L. Calpurnius Bestia, tribune elect, Cethe-gus, two nephews of Sulla, and others. It was now his interest to be elected consul; he became a candidate, but was again unsuccessful. Cicero was elected with C. Antonius. Catiline now pushed on with greater vigor.
The plot was matured; troops were levied, especially under C. Manlius, a centurion of Sulla, in the vicinity of Faesulge, in Etruria; arms were provided, the lists of proscription made out, and the day fixed for the assassination of the consuls and the general conflagration of the city. The watchfulness of Cicero saved himself and the republic. Fulvia, the mistress of one of the conspirators, was induced to communicate all the particulars; C. Antonius was made harmless by the promise of Macedonia as a province. Informed by Cicero, the senate intrusted the consuls with absolute power to save the republic from the threatening danger. At the following consular election Catiline was again rejected, and in the night of Nov. 6, 63, he declared in a secret meeting to his ringleaders that the time of action had arrived. Cicero, who knew their every movement, summoned the senate, and delivered his first great oration against Catiline, giving full and ample information of all the facts. Catiline was bold enough to be present and to attempt his justification; but his voice was drowned by the cries of "Enemy" and "Parricide" from the indignant senators, and he was left on his deserted bench a spectacle to the assembly.
He left Rome in the following night to join the camp of Manlius, leaving the management of affairs at the capital to Lentulus and Cethegus. Cicero now addressed the people in the forum, justifying his conduct; the senate declared Catiline and Manlius enemies of the republic, while legal evidence against the conspirators at Rome was furnished by the communications of the ambassadors of the Allobroges, who, being sent to Rome for the redress of grievances, were tempted by Lentulus to join the conspiracy, and to induce their nation to assist in it. Cicero, who received the information from their patron, persuaded them to feign an active participation, and to draw from Lentulus a list of the conspirators, as if by it to induce their countrymen to join in the enterprise. Lentulus and his friends fell into the snare. They were now brought before the senate, assembled in the temple of Concord (Dec. 4), and their guilt was proved. Having delivered his third oration before the people, Cicero on the next day again convoked the senate to deliberate on the punishment of the traitors. The debate was animated.
Silanus, the consul elect, gave his opinion for the immediate death of all of them; this wa3 opposed by Julius Cassar, who was satisfied with their arrest and the confiscation of their estates, and who indeed has been suspected by historians of having been connected with the plot. Cicero gave no opinion, but painted in strong terms the dangers of the state. Cato, voting for death and for immediate efforts against the rebels in the field, made an appeal to the patriotism of the senate, and prevailed. A decree was passed, and Lentulus and his companions were strangled in the night in prison, in direct violation of Roman law. An armv was sent against Catiline under the consul Antonius; but, unwilling to fight against his friend, he gave the command to his legate Petreius. They met near Faesulaa. Catiline defended himself desperately, but in vain; when the battle was lost he threw himself into the midst of his enemies, and fell fighting. - Sal-lust's masterly life of Catiline is our chief authority for his history, but is too obviously the work of a partisan to be implicitly trusted.
Catiline was the leader of the ultra democratic party, and the supporters of the optimates who overthrew him may be suspected of having exaggerated his faults and misrepresented his designs.