Cicero's Consulship And Catalinary Conspiracies

Cicero's consulship and Catalinary Conspricacies

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  • Created on: 07-01-13 19:12

Setting Up The Rullan Bill

Pompey was being highly successful, and news of his successes were reaching Rome. Pompey was also getting wealth through patronage, the Roman system was based on client bases. Pompey's success sparked jealousy in Crassus, he wanted to undermine Pompey. 

Crassus was censor and embarked on a series of schemes to undermine and compromise Pompey. Pompey had armies marching and was gaining clients. 

In Rome people were paid to spread rumours. A rumour went around that Crassus wanted to move the heart of Rome over to Egypt if he won more support and power. People were not happy with that and feared Crassus would use Egypt to attack Pompey. There was a fear of Civil War. - Cicero spoke against this in the De Rege Alexandrino (speech). This stopped Crassus from increasing his clients or extending his political influence into Spain, Gaul or Egypt.

The annual flood of the Nile creates huge increase in grain which was sold to Romans and fed to the plebs. This would have increased Crassus' riches which was what he after. With more money he could buy more influence and more land.

Cicero wrote to Pompey and decleared that he would look after his interests. This was to make up for not speaking up in his favour before with the Lex Gabinius.

It was during the first phase of the Rullan Bill that Cicero offered co-consul Antonius governorship of Macedonia.

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The Rullan Bill

The Rullan Bill consisted of Crassus trying to undermine Pompey while he was still abroad.

At the end of 64, tribune Rullus put forward the proposal that a 10 man commission with 5 years propraetorian imperium be appointed to distribute the last remaining public land within Italy to the poor. It was also to have the power to establish colonies within Italy and the provinces and to use public funds, provincial taxes and war booty for the purchase of any addiotional land required.

Cicero attacked the bill in 64 and 63. He argued that the land acquired through Pompey's conquests would have to be sold according to the terms of the bill. This secured land for Pompey's veterans.

Crassus also used influence of censor position to appoint Piso as governor of Nera, Spain. Pompey had secure client base there and in theory Piso was supposed to convert them to Crassus. However, Piso was promptly murdered on arrival. 

After Piso failed Crassus created another plan. He used power and influence in senate to propse full citizenship for Transalphine Gauls. This was a huge place to pick up good fighters, they couldn't fight in Roman Army unless a full citizen. This didn't go down well and Caesar had done some conquering so die-hard optimates were unlikey to support the suggestion. 

Crassus failed on all accounts.

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State Of Rome's Economy

War with Mithridates deflated money of Rome. War was coming to a close and people wanted their money back so they could spend it in the East.

War hindered trade. Virtually none which led to the Cash Flow Crisis. Intrest rates increased dramatically. This was not a problem for the poor, just the rich.

Rich were financially embarressed, excessive spending on games. They were land rich not money rich. Without people loaning land they had nothing.

Money lenders wanted money back or were not lending to Patricians.

Squandered money on gambling, buying gladiators.

High unemployment. Many plebs only had casual employment which meant they could lose it at any moment. Slaves took the place of servants, thousands of them took place of Plebs as they were significantly cheaper.

Very high rent.

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The Trial Of Ribirius


Rabirius had committed his crime in 100BC when a SCU was in place. He was on trial now because populares had become increasingly concerned with the SCU and used Rabirius to test the waters. Acted as a warning shot.

Labienius, tribune close links to Caesar, prosecuted an elderly senator, Rabirius, for treason. The legal procedure was archaic, perduellio. Caesar was one of the judges and Rabirius was found guilty. Both Cicero and Hortensius spoke on his behalf on appeal. 

Rullan Bill was still under consideration and Antonius was hoping to be one of the 10 commissioners.

Greatest threat to stability in 63BC was economic dislocation - war with Mithridates. The appalling state of economy, the scale of wealth and inequality and levels of dept were not matters senate wanted to tackle. Cicero believed reform would unstabalise state. - Cicero's response to dept was traditional. Everyone sorts themselves out. Limited land distribution and use of grain doles to help immediate suffering were as far as Cicero would go.

There was a crisis looming and Catalina was going to use the situation to his advantage. 

The Rabirius case raised lots of legal issues and unease of the populares about SCU were eased a little when Cicero used powers of SCU to carry out punishment.

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Overview Of Catalina

Catalina was from an ancient family.

He had served under Sulla and shown himself to be a cruel man who enjoyed creating trouble and had the patience of a saint when it came to carrying out his plans.

He rose through the Circus Honorum.

His first rumoured conspiracy happened when he missed out on the first Consulship.

Tried a different tactic for winning consulship. He would pretend to be a friend of the people, using the advantage of being a noble.

He stood again for consulship. However, Cicero was chosen unanomously with Antonius.

Catalina was enraged.

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Catalina And Cicero

Catalina raised troops in various parts of Italy, especially in Etruria. He made frenzied plans which likened his eratic personality - a possible mental illness?

Cicero was aware of Catalina and his supporters plots through Fulvia, mistress of Curius (who had been expelled from senate in 70.) Cicero approached Curius who had betrayed Catalina's plans. 

Catalina prepared to stand for consulship again, conspirators planned to kill Cicero and other leading figures during the election. Catalina expected to win, he promised to cancel dept and supporters from accross Rome's society - they thought Catalina would solve all their problems as they were in an economic crisis, most of the populares were land rich but money poor.

However, this was information shared between his supporters. Cicero had no proof. He had questioned Catalina but he had remained calm knowing Cicero couldn't do anything. 

Cicero cancelled the election when he learned there were going to be attacks on his life. Cicero appeared in Rome with a body guard and an obvious breast plate. Crassus came to Cicero with anonymus letters addressing several senators. They proved Catalina was gathering an army. 

Many senators were reluctant to believe a noble would consider harming the Roman Republic. Cicero summoned Senate at dawn and read letters aloud by their addressees.

SCU was not in place.

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Cicero's First Speech On Catalinary Conspircay

Cicero was very suspicious of Catalina. He asked for an SCU to be passed - SCU was a decree which gave powers to magistrates, gave Cicero power. They could; levy troops; conduct war; apply unlimited force to allies and citizens; exercise supreme command and exercise jurisdiction both at home and abroad.

With SCU granted Cicero set to work immediatly. Cicero had four armies dispatched to potential trouble spots; shut down all gladitorial schools; rewards given to people who gave up information about actions of Catalina and supporters; put night watchers in place.

Cicero up to this point had been unable to prove link between Catalina and Manilius.

Catalina placed himself in hand of Celer (nobleman), slipped away and held secret meetings with most important supporters in house of Scythemakers. 

Cicero used information from meeting in his first Catalinarian speech. Cicero had summoned Senate to meet at temple of 'Jupiter the slayer' on 7th November. Catalina attended. 

Cicero's message was clear. Reported details of the meeting, warned Catalina about his actions and told senate about the plans to kill him and other leading senators and rebuked those in senate who had been more inclined to believe a noble than a Novus Homo. - Demolished Catalina's reputation in eyes of Senate. 

First speech was an overwhelming speech full of invective details. The tide turned for Catalina because of Cicero's command of reverick. 

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Cicero's Second Speech On Catainary Conspircay

Catalina's guilt was clear, the role of Cicero uncovering his plans was appriciated. Catalina left Rome to join Manilius in Etruria. He deputed Lentulus to organise conspiracy in city. 

Lentulus was a disgraced senator who had been let back into senate and had influence. He was the 'ring leader' of the conspirators.

Before Catalina left Rome he was declared a public enemy - hostis. Cicero and senate knew they had to turn EVERYONE against Catalina. 

The economic distress in Rome was acute. 

Cicero delivered a speech in forum identifying Catalina's supporters. There were six groups: the rich - always unpopular with plebs; depters - who want to seize control of the state; Veterans; Motley and seditious crew - 'life's losers'; criminal element; catalina's special croonies.

Cicero's eloquence left conspirators poorly supported in the city and managed to turn a lot of supporters away.

They planned activities of Lentulus.

Second speech played on people's fears, prejudices for supporters. Controlled a potentially explosive situation.

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Cicero's Third Speech On Catalinary Conspircay

Cicero now had proof he needed of plot within Rome. He led Lentulus down the hill. The authors of the letters were brought before the hastily summoned Senate gathered in the temple of Concord - 3rd December.

Three men confessed, as did Gabinius. Lentulus resigned as praetor. The men were taken to homes of leading senators. Cicero went out into forum and gave third speech - it was a summery of events and Cicero's own rold in them, but also an invocation to the Roman Gods - implied whole universe had seen events.

Cicero found idea of executions 'distasteful' - kindness of nature? He decided to hold a debate in the senate. He argued for speed, there were growing demands for the recall of Pompey. Cicero wanted it settled as he only had 26 days left as consul. 

Could be argued he didn't need a debate. Could have used power of SCU. Case of Rabirius earlier in the year must have convinced him. Backing of senate would strengthen his own position. - Senate was not a court. Law was that every citizen was entitled to a trial before execution. 

Silanus (consul elect) argued for execution. Caesar, praetor elect and pontifix maximus, argued for life imprisonment. Cato (in coming Tribune. Hard hitting tradionalist) said they should die immediatly, reminded everyone republic was under threat - roused court. Silanus changed his mind as did all of Cicero's friends. 

Sensing mood of senate was changing Cicero rose to speak. (fourth speech)

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Cicero's Fourth Speech On Catalinary Conspircay

Cicero reminded senate of grave dangers the city was facing, the unprecedented nature and difficulties of Caesars proposals. He also complimented Caesar as genuine popularis. Cicero's strong words paved way for Cato. 

Cato was scathing of Caesar's proposals. 

At the end the debate a large majority of the senators voted in favour of death.

Cicero wasted no time. Went to Tullianum, city jail. The legality of executions has been long since debated. 

Debate started out as a concern about five criminals - soon becomes personal for Cicero and Caesar. Cato rips open letter given to Caesar thinking it was proving that Caesar was with Catalina, however it was a sexual letter from his half-sister, Servilia who Caesar was having an affair with.

Cicero believed fear if Catalina had swept aside normal divisions within Roman society, and that his own speeches had been integral in this process. It was a political policy that Cicero hoped would outlive events of 63 BC.

Rewards: Catalus, optimate leader, hailed him parens patriae (parent of country); another senator argued he needed a civic crown - made Cicero think they had forgotten Novus Homo status. Senate voted him a supplicatio (a public prayer).

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Bona Dea Trail

Clodius 'Pulcher' was Cicero's informant during the Catalinary Conspiracies. He was a young, charming, crafy man who liked to stir up trouble. He had dabbled in politics from an early age, making a promising start when he incited troops of his brother-in-law Lucullus to mutiny. He used his famous name to win over Roman leaders. 

Decemeber, 62BC - Clodius thought it would be a good idea to disguise himself as a woman and sneak into festival of the 'Bona Dea' - Bona Dea was a deity worshipped by only women. All men were barred from entry. Held yearly in the home of the pontifix Maximus which was Caesar this year. Supervised by his wife and Vestal Virgins. 

Clodius was discovered during the festival. Women turned on him. Some who loved to gossip questioned how he could get in without help from someone on the inside. 

May of the following year Clodius was tried for scrilege. Caesar had divorced his wife during this time and refused to testify againt Clodius. 

Clodius insisted that he had been out of town during the festival. Cicero swore in court he had spoken to him in Rome on that fateful day - it is thought that he was asked to by his wife out of jealousy for Clodius' sister. 

Clodius was acquitted through the wealth of Crassus. 

Vowed revenge on Clodius.

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