Before he entered upon his tribuneship, and during the consulship of Cicero,1
he maintained the authority of that magistrate in many conflicts, and above all in the measures relating to Catiline, which proved the most important and most glorious of all, he brought matters to a successful issue. Catiline himself, namely, who was trying to bring about a complete and destructive change in the Roman state, and was stirring up alike seditions and wars, was convicted by Cicero and fled the city;
but Lentulus and Cethegus and many others with them took over the conspiracy, and, charging Catiline with cowardice and pettiness in his designs, were themselves planning to destroy the city utterly with fire, and to subvert the empire with revolts of nations and foreign wars.
But their schemes were discovered, and Cicero brought the matter before the senate for deliberation.2
The first speaker, Silanus, expressed the opinion that the men ought to suffer the extremest fate, and those who followed him in turn were of the same mind, until it came to Caesar.
Caesar now rose, and since he was a powerful speaker and wished to increase every change and commotion in the state as so much stuff for his own designs, rather than to allow them to be quenched, he urged many persuasive and humane arguments. He would not hear of the men being put to death without a trial, but favoured their being kept in close custody,
and he wrought such a change in the opinions of the senate, which was in fear of the people, that even Silanus recanted and said that he too had not meant death, but imprisonment; for to a Roman this was the
‘extremest’ of all evils.