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1 XVIII. But previously, etc.] Sallust here makes a digression, to give an account of a conspiracy that was formed three years before that of Catiline.
2 Publius Autronius and Publius Sylla] The same who are mentioned in the preceding chapter. They were consuls elect, and some editions have the words designati consoles immediately following their names.
3 Having been tried for bribery under the laws against it] “Legibus ambitûs interrogati.” Bribery at their election, is the meaning of the word ambitus, for ambire, as Cortius observes, is circumeundo favorem et suffragia quærere. De Brosses translates the passage thus: "Autrone et Sylla, convaincus d'avoir obtenu le consulat par corruption des suffrages, avaient été punis selon la rigueur de la loi." There were several very severe Roman laws against bribery. Autronius and Sylla were both excluded from the consulship.
4 For extortion] “Pecuniarum repetundarum.” Catiline had been prætor in Africa and, at the expiration of his office, was accused of extortion by Publius Clodius, on the part of the Africans. He escaped by bribing the prosecutor and judges.
5 To declare himself a candidate within the legitimate number of days] “Prohibitus erat consulatum petere, quòd intra legitimos dies profiteri” (se candidatum, says Cortius, citing Suet. Aug. 4) nequiverit. A person could not be a candidate for the consulship, unless he could declare himself free from accusation within a certain number of days before the time of holding the comitia centuriata. That number of days was trinundinum spatium, that is, the time occupied by three market-days, tres nundinæ with seven days intervening between the first and second, and between the second and third; or seventeen days. The nundinæ (from novem and dies) were held, as it is commonly expressed, every ninth day; whence Cortius and others considered trinundinum spatium to be twenty-seven, or even thirty days; but this way of reckoning was not that of the Romans, who made the last day of the first ennead to be also the first day of the second. Concerning the nundinæ see Macrob. Sat. i. 16. " Müller and Longius most erroneously supposed the trinundinum to be about thirty days; for that it embraced only seventeen days has been fully shown by Ernesti, Clav. Cic., sub voce ; by Scheller in Lex. Ampl., p. 11, 669 ; by Nitschius Antiquitt. Romm. i. p. 623; and by Drachenborch (cited by Gerlach) ad Liv. iii. 35." Kritzius.
6 Cneius Piso] Of the Calpurnian gens. Suetonius (Vit. Cæs., c. 9) mentions three authors who related that Crassus and Cæsar were both concerned in this plot; and that, if it had succeeded, Crassus was to have assumed the dictatorship, and made Cæsar his master of the horse. The conspiracy, as these writers state, failed through the remorse or irresolution of Crassus.
8 On the first of January] “Kalendis Januariis.” On this day the consuls were accustomed to enter on their office. The consuls whom they were going to kill, Cotta and Torquatus, were those who had been chosen in the place of Autronius and Sylla.
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