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Paetus, Autro'nius

1. P. Autronius Paetus, was elected consul for B. C. 65 with P. Cornelius Sulla; but before he and Sulla entered upon their office, they were accused of bribery by L. Aurelius Cotta and L. Manlius Torquatus, and condemned. Their election was accordingly declared void: and their accusers were chosen consuls in their stead. Enraged at his disappointment Paetus conspired with Catiline to murder the consuls Cotta and Torquatus; and this design is said to have been frustrated solely by the impatience of Catiline, who gave the signal prematurely before the whole of the conspirators had assembled. (Sal. Cat. 18; D. C. 36.27; Ascon. in Cornel. p. 74, ed. Orelli; Suet. Jul. 9; Liv. Epit. 101.) [CATILINA, p. 629b.] Paetus afterwards took an active part in the Catilinarian conspiracy, which broke out in Cicero's consulship. After the suppression of the conspiracy Paetus was brought to trial for the share he had had in it; he entreated Cicero with many tears to undertake his defence, pleading their early friendship, and their having been colleagues in the quaestorship, but this the orator refused (Cic. pro Sull. 6), and all his former friends in like manner withdrew from him their support. He was accordingly condemned, and went into exile at Epeirus, where he was living when Cicero himself went into banishment in B. C. 58. Cicero was then much alarmed lest Paetus should make an attempt upon his life (Sal. Cat. 17, 47; D. C. 37.25; Cic. pro Sull. passim; Cic. Att. 3.2, 7.) Autronius Paetus has a place in the list of orators in the Brutus of Cicero, who however dismisses him with the character, "voce peracuta, atque magna, nec alia re nlla probabilis" (100.68).

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