The Catiline Conspiracy

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Sallust, Cicero and the Catiline Conspiracy

Both the histories of Sallust and the orations of Cicero can be considered literary works, to a degree. The War With Catiline, by Sallust and The First Speech Against Lucius Sergius Catilina, by Cicero, both contain excellent examples of writings from the age of the great Roman Empire. Although both are fantastic pieces depicting a time of tragedy, the Catiline Conspiracy against Rome, and they both think Catiline as evil, the two are also different.

Sallust was an obscure historical writer from the first century BCE. In The War With Catiline, he tells of the conspiracy of Catiline and his plan to bring about civil war in Rome and over power the Senate. Sallust depicts this historical event very fairly and with a seemingly unbiased attitude, although he was not involved in any way with or against the conspirators. It was said that in this period of time things had been going very well, "…Our country had grown great through toil and the practice of justice, when great kings had been vanquished in war, savage tribes and mighty peoples subdued by force of arms, when Carthage, the rival of Rome's sway, had perished root and branch, and all seas and lands were open…" This time of absolute supremacy gave way to a generation of Romans who were greedy and power hungry. Sallust viewed this as the root of all evils. Henceforth from this generation is the excuse for Catiline and his evils. Sallust makes it obvious that Catiline was a product of the overall corruption of the people, or at least he took advantage of it.

It is incredible to think of the many men who sided with Catiline and took up arms against their own state, their own people, and even at times their own fathers. Catiline, as evil as he might have been, was also a man of genius. For one to poison the minds of so many takes much talent of the mind. Based on greed and jealousy of his loss in the running for consul against Cicero, he alone...
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