The son submitted to the Romans, and was allowed to reign on the Bosphorus; but Pompeius had extended the Roman Empire as far as the Euphrates; for though a few small kings still remained, it was only by suffrance from the Romans, who had gained thirty-nine great cities. Egypt, the Parthian kingdom on the Tigris, and Armenia in the mountains, alone remained free.
While all this was going on in the East, there was a very dangerous plot contrived at Rome by a man named Lucius Sergius Catilina, and seven other good-for-nothing nobles, for arming the mob, even the slaves and gladiators, overthrowing the government, seizing all the offices of state, and murdering all their opponents, after the example first set by Marius and Cinna.
[Illustration: MOUNTAINS OF ARMENIA.]
Happily such secrets are seldom kept; one of the plotters told the woman he was in love with, and she told one of the consuls, Marcus Tullius Cicero. Cicero was one of the wisest and best men in Rome, and the one whom we really know the best, for he left a great number of letters to his friends, which show us the real mind of the man. He was of the order of the knights, and had been bred up to be a lawyer and orator, and his speeches came to be the great models of Roman eloquence. He was a man of real conscience, and he most deeply loved Rome and her honor; and though he was both vain and timid, he could put these weaknesses aside for the public good. Before all the Senate he impeached Catilina, showing how fully he knew all that he intended. Nothing could be done to him by law till he had actually committed his crime, and Cicero wanted to show him that all was known, so as to cause him to flee and join his friends outside. Catilina tried to face it out, but all the senators began to cry out against him, and he dashed away in terror, and left the city at night. Cicero announced it the next day in a famous speech, beginning, “He is gone; he has rushed away; he has burst forth.” Some of his followers in guilt were left at Rome, and just then some letters were brought to Cicero by some of a tribe of Gauls whom they had invited to help them in the ruin of the Senate. This was positive proof, and Cicero caused the nine worst to be seized, and, having proved their guilt, there was a consultation in the Senate as to their fate. Julius Caesar wanted to keep them prisoners for life, which he said was worse than death, as that, he believed, would end everything; but all the rest of the Senate were for their death, and they were all strangled, without giving them a chance of defending themselves or appealing to the people. Cicero beheld the execution himself, and then went forth to the crowd, merely saying, “They have lived.”
Catilina, meantime, had collected 20,000 men in Italy, but they were not half-armed, and the newly-returned proconsul, Metellus, made head against him; while the other consul, Caius Antonius, was recalled from Macedonia with his army. As he was a friend of Catilina, he did not choose to fight with him, and gave up the command to his lieutenant, by whom the wretch was defeated and slain. His head was cut off and sent to Rome.