The common people, meanwhile, who had at first, from a desire of change in the government, been too much inclined to war, having, on the discovery of the plot, altered their sentiments, began to execrate the projects of Catiline, to extol Cicero to the skies; and, as if rescued from slavery, to give proofs of joy and exultation. Other effects of war they expected as a gain rather than a loss; but the burning of the city they thought inhuman, outrageous, and fatal, especially to themselves, whose whole property consisted in their daily necessaries and the clothes which they wore.
On the following day, a certain Lucius Tarquinius was brought before the senate, who was said to have been arrested as he was setting out to join Catiline. This person, having offered to give information of the conspiracy, if the public faith were pledged to him,1
and being directed by the consul to state what he knew, gave the senate nearly the same account as Volturcius had given, concerning the intended conflagration, the massacre of respectable citizens, and the approach of the enemy, adding that " he was sent by Marcus Crassus to assure Catiline that the apprehension of Lentulus, Cethegus, and others of the conspirators, ought not to alarm him, but that he should hasten, with so much the more expedition to the city, in order to revive the courage of the rest, and to facilitate the escape of those in custody."2
When Tarquinius named Crassus, a man of noble birth, of very great wealth, and of vast influence, some, thinking the statement incredible, others, though they supposed it true, yet, judging that at such a crisis a man of such power3
was rather to be soothed than irritated (most of them, too, from personal reasons, being under obligation to Crassus), exclaimed that he was " a false witness," and demanded that the matter should be put to the vote. Cicero, accordingly, taking their opinions, a full senate decreed " that the testimony of Tarquinius appeared false; that he himself should be kept in prison; and that no further liberty of speaking4
should be granted him, unless he should name the person at whose instigation he had fabricated so shameful a calumny."
There were some, at that time, who thought that this affair was contrived by Publius Autronius, in order that the interest of Crassus, if he were accused, might, from participation in the danger, more readily screen the rest. Others said that Tarquinius was suborned by Cicero, that Crassus might not disturb the state, by taking upon him, as was his custom,5
the defense of the criminals. That this attack on his character was made by Cicero, I afterward heard Crassus himself assert.