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Catiline

Updated on December 23, 2009

Catiline was a Roman soldier and politician. Born Rome, about 108 B.C.

Catiline was named governor of Africa in 67 B.C. When he returned to Rome the following year, he was disqualified as a candidate for the consulship on charges, never proved, of misgovernment in Africa. Embittered by the disqualification, Catiline plotted to seize the government by assassinating the newly elected consuls. The plan failed, but Catiline and his associates were acquitted of conspiracy.

In 64 B.C., Catiline again sought the consulship. However, Marcus Tullius Cicero was elected instead. Catiline sought to avenge his defeat. Together with other dissident Roman politicians, he conspired to fire the city of Rome, murder a number of chief magistrates, and take control of the government. Cicero, however, learned of the plot and exposed Catiline to the senate in four great orations. Cicero declared Catiline to be an enemy of the republic, produced proof of the conspiracy, and convinced the senate that the conspirators should be put to death. Catiline fled Rome for Etruria, where he gathered an army to support him. In January 62 B.C. he was attacked by the army of the consul Gaius Antonius and was killed in battle. These events are narrated by the historian Sallust in The Conspiracy of Catiline.

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