Book Review: Cicero and the Catilinarian Conspiracy

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by Charles Odahl

London & New York: Routledge, 2011. Pp. xvi, 102. Illus., maps, chron., notes, biblio., index. $54.95 paper. ISBN: 0415808782

A Fresh Look at Catiline’s Conspiracy

In 63 BC, the ambitious Roman populares politician Lucius Sergius Catilina organized a coup against the Republic that was only frustrated by the political skill of Marcus Tullius Cicero with a little help from Fortune.  Two decades later, the historian Sallust, who had been an eyewitness, composed a monograph on the plot which remains a valuable read. 

Building on Sallust, Prof. Odahl (Boise State) draws upon the writings of Cicero, later ancient historians, and modern scholars to give us a more nuanced account of the conspiracy , often coming down to an almost hour-by-hour treatment, while delving into the political, economic, social, and military factors that had brought the Republic to a state of almost continuous crisis In addition, Odahl goes beyond the events surrounding the coup and its frustration to discu s s how the Roman Republic, particularly as depicted by Cicero, affected the thinking of the “Founding Fathers,” while reminding us that all arguments about lessons from the past are not necessarily accurate for the present. 

A volume in the Routledge series “Studies in Ancient History,” Cicero and the Catilinarian Conspiracy will prove a useful read for those interested in the Roman Republic, and will also prove profitable reading for anyone interested in republican institutions or the coup d’etat as a political instrument. 

Note: Cicero and the Catilinarian Conspiracy is also available in hardback at $135.00, ISBN 978-0-415-87472-4

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Reviewer:    


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