Characters Discussed

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Catiline (KA-teh-lin), also referred to as Lucius Sergius Catilina (LEW-shee-uhs SUR-jee-uhs ka-teh-LI-nuh), a patrician traitor. Power-mad, bloodthirsty, venomous, and given to monstrous crimes, he corrupts others and draws them to his party of followers, with which he hopes to control Rome. His inhumanity is disclosed in his sacrifice of a slave and a hideous, perverted communion of the conspirators in which they drink the slave’s blood. He is, fortunately for Rome, indiscreet and hasty. Failing to win a consulate by election, he hastens his attempted revolution before his preparations are complete. His death demonstrates his reckless courage.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero (MAHR-kuhs TUH-lee-uhs SIH-seh-roh), a “new man,” not an established aristocrat. Able and self-confident, he wins a consulate and uses his governmental position and oratorical powers to save Rome from Catiline’s conspiracy. He is willing to use dubious characters as spies, and with information furnished by them he forces Catiline into premature action and consequent defeat. A cautious politician, he does not force the hands of sympathizers with the subversives, and he sends to execution only those active in the conspiracy. Caesar and Crassus thereby survive as threats to Rome’s future.

Caius Julius Caesar

Caius Julius Caesar (GAY-yuhs JEW-lee-uhs SEE-zur), who potentially is more dangerous to Rome than any of the active conspirators. He is too shrewd to make an open break with the republic until he sees how matters are likely to resolve. When Catiline is goaded into premature action by Cicero, Caesar refrains from joining the conspirators openly. He pleads in vain for moderation in punishing the arrested conspirators and prophetically warns Cicero of his fate.

Publius Lentulus

Publius Lentulus (PUHB-lee-uhs LEHN-chew-luhs), a senator formerly ejected from the senate for infamous behavior but later restored. He is filled with family pride and delusions of grandeur. Catiline flatters him with prophecies that a third member of the family Cornelii is to rule Rome, and Lentulus is easily convinced that he is the man intended. He remains in Rome, is arrested, and is executed.

Caius Cethegus

Caius Cethegus (seh-THEE-guhs), a savage, fire-eating conspirator. Indiscreet and tactless, he requires considerable care by Catiline to keep him from disrupting the revolutionary forces. He is hasty, reckless, and chronically angry. He is executed with the rest of the rebels who remain in Rome when Catiline leaves.

Quintus Curius

Quintus Curius (KWIHN-tuhs KEW-ree-uhs), a former senator also ejected from the senate for infamous behavior. Enslaved by his passion for Fulvia, he rashly betrays himself and the other conspirators to her. Under her influence, combined with fear and greed, he becomes a spy for Cicero. His information enables Cicero to avoid assassination and to expose Catiline’s machinations to the senate. Caesar prevents his receiving official reward after Rome is saved.


Fulvia (FUHL-vee-uh), an expensive and extravagant courtesan. She gives her favors where the return is greatest. Suspecting some major plot, she takes back the degraded Curius so that she can wheedle his secret from him. Unwilling to take second place to another woman, she chooses to go over to Cicero rather than to Catiline. Although Cicero feels shame at having to depend on such tools, he skillfully uses Fulvia and Curius to thwart Catiline and thus save Rome.


Sempronia (sehm-PROH-nee-uh), the snobbish wife of Decius Brutus. She is an intellectual feminist, past her prime but still hungry for masculine attention, for which she pays lavishly. She is active in Catilinarian politics but escapes punishment, for Cicero says a government should not show its anger against fools or women.

Marcus Porcius Cato

(The entire section contains 926 words.)

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Critical Essays