Like Guy Fawkes in early 17th-century Britain, L. Sergius Catilina was a threat to the constitution imposed on Rome by Sulla in the mid-1st century BC. His aim at first was to reach the consulship, the summit of power at Rome, by conventional means, but he lacked the money and support to win his way to the top, unlike two contemporaries of greater means and talent: the orator Cicero and the military man Pompey the Great.
Defeated for the third time, Catiline took to revolution with a substantial following: destitute farmers, impoverished landowners, discontented Italians and debtors of all kinds. But they could not stand up to the forces of law and order and the rebellion was quashed. For the controversy that still surrounds it, the personalities involved, the distinction of the writers such as Cicero and Sallust, who are our main sources of information for it, this episode remains one of the most significant in late Republican history.
This volume gives an energetic and appealing overview of the events, their sources, and the arguments of modern historians looking back at this controversial period. Accessible for students, but useful also for more experienced scholars, this is the perfect introduction not only to a specific historical episode, but also to the problems of tackling ancient sources as evidence.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of pages: 152
Weight: 186 g
Dimensions: 216 x 138 x 13 mm
This book is typical of works in several series for college students and educated lay readers that narrate exciting events from ancient history. L. Sergius Catilina, "Catiline," failed as a candidate for the consulship against his political rival, the orator M. Tullius Cicero. Catiline thereupon was alleged to have conspired with disaffected peasants, ruined veterans, and ambitious young nobles to overthrow the Roman Republic in 63 BCE. This Catilinarian Conspiracy was uncovered and denounced by Cicero in his most famous orations. Levick (Oxford) concentrates on the specifics of the conspiracy known from Cicero's orations and the moralizing monograph of Sallust, a partisan of Julius Caesar. The author sums up well the scholarly opinion on Cicero's role, and whether Cicero exaggerated or even created the conspiracy for his own political ends. Cicero's call for the execution of Catiline's co-conspirators without trial forestalled a rebellion, but Cicero later paid politically for this decision. Levick offers far less analysis on how the events in 63 BCE led to the First Triumvirate, a turning point for the Republic. Her discussion on later perceptions of Catiline in the literary tradition is well done and should engage most readers. The bibliography is good. Students should read this in tandem with the works of Cicero and Sallust. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. * CHOICE *
[A] thoroughly approachable book, recommended whether you know something or nothing already, about a fascinating and important episode of Roman history. * Classics For All Reviews *
The addition of Catiline to [Ancients in Action's] already impressive list of characters ... will be a welcome one for all who are interested in the historical and political milieu of the Roman Republic on the brink of its collapse. Distinguished ancient historian, Barbara Levick, writes the account in a lively, engaging style, marked often by bold assertions and sometimes speculative theories, all of which draw her audience in, at times almost as bystanders to the action. * The Classical Outlook *
Students will find the book accessible and easy to read. It is short, the text is widely-spaced, and every chapter is divided into sub-sections of a page or two with informative headings. The narrative and analysis are clear and well-judged. The political context is explained briefly but well ... Through [the book], all may enjoy a taste of Dr Levick's inspirational teaching. * Classics Ireland *
Catiline is a fast moving synthesis of the ancient sources mixed with a modern revisionist take against Cicero's narrative ... Well-written and easily read. * Classical Journal *
The book is, as is to be expected from Levick, a solid piece of work. She bases her narrative on thorough knowledge of the sources and in general rather recent scholarship. She is not afraid to take a stance and is aware of the many pitfalls. * Bryn Mawr Classical Review *
Barbara Levick's account of Catiline offers a wonderfully lucid and detailed account of this most elusive of figures. The narrative seamlessly integrates analysis of the ancient sources with discussion of broader issues in late Republican economy and society, and students will find it an invaluable guide to a complex and challenging period of Roman history.