Sylum Inspiration: Lucius Sergius Catilina

Vampire Council: Member

 

Catiline was born in 108 BC to one of the oldest patrician families in Rome, gens Sergia. His parents were Lucius Sergius Silus and Belliena. 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. His great-grandfather was Marcus Sergius. 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.

An able commander, Catiline had a distinguished military career. In 89 BC, during the Social War, he served with Pompey and Cicero, under the consul Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo. He is mentioned on the Asculum Inscription, a bronze tablet which was once nailed to the wall of an unknown public building in Rome, which records the names of Pompey Strabo’s council (consilium) when he granted citizenship to several auxiliaries in his army. During the regime of Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Cinna and Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, Catiline played no major role, but he remained politically secure, married to the niece of Gaius Marius. He later supported Lucius Cornelius Sulla in the civil war of 84–81 BC. According to accusations made by Cicero, during Sulla’s proscription Catiline helped Quintus Lutatius Catulus avenge himself upon Catiline’s brother-in-law, Marcus Marius Gratidianus, the prosecutor who had caused the death of his father. Catiline maimed and killed his brother-in-law at the tomb of the elder Catulus, then decapitated the corpse. Catiline proceeded to carry the head through the streets of Rome and deposited it at Sulla’s feet at the Temple of Apollo. Catiline was also accused of murdering his first wife and son so that he could marry the wealthy and beautiful Aurelia Orestilla, daughter of the consul of 71 BC, Gnaeus Aufidius Orestes. 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 a Vestal Virgin, a capital crime. Catulus, by then the principal leader of the Optimates, testified in his favor. Catiline was acquitted.

He was praetor in 68 BC, and for the following two years was the propraetorian governor for Africa. Upon his return home in 66 BC, he presented himself as a candidate for the consular elections, but a delegation from Africa appealing to the Senate, indicting him for abuses, prevented this as the incumbent consul, Lucius Volcatius Tullus, disallowed the candidacy. He was finally brought to trial in 65 BC, where he received the support of many distinguished men, including many consulars. Even one of the consuls for 65 BC, Lucius Manlius Torquatus, demonstrated his support for Catiline.  Cicero also contemplated defending Catiline in court. Eventually, Catiline was acquitted. The author of the Commentariolum Petitionis, possibly Cicero’s brother, Quintus Cicero, suggests that Catiline was only acquitted by the fact that “he left the court as poor as some of his judges had been before the trial,” implying that he bribed his judges.

There are at least two conspiracies from his life, which led to his glorious death, well until Hector stepped into the picture.

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