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Civil Wars

Lucius Sergius Catilina (108 BC – 62 BC), known in English as Catiline, was a Roman politician of the 1st century BC who is best known for the Catiline (or Catilinarian) conspiracy, an attempt to overthrow the Roman Republic, and in particular the power of the aristocratic Senate.



Family background

Catiline was born in 108 BC to one of the oldest patrician families in Rome. Although his family was of consular heritage, they were then declining in both social and financial fortunes. Virgil later gave the family an ancestor, Sergestus, who had come with Aeneas to Italy, presumably because they were notably ancient; but they had not been prominent for centuries. The last Sergius to be consul had been Gnaeus Sergius Fidenas Coxo in 380 BC.[1] Later, these factors would dramatically shape Catiline's ambitions and goals as he would desire above all else to restore the political heritage of his family along with its financial power.[2]

Military career

An able commander, Catiline had a distinguished military career.[3] He served in the Social War with Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and Cicero, under Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo in 89 BC. During Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Cinna and Gnaeus Papirius Carbo's regime, Catiline played no major role, but he remained politically secure. He later supported Lucius Cornelius Sulla in the civil war of 84 BC–81 BC. Then in the early 70s BC he served abroad, possibly with Publius Servilius Vatia in Cilicia. In 73 BC he was brought to trial for adultery with the Vestal Virgin, Fabia,[4] but Quintus Lutatius Catulus, the principal leader of the Optimates, testified in his favor, and eventually Catiline was acquitted.[5]

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