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871

ROME-THE IMPERIAL REPUBLIC.

having been his friend and co-candidate for the consulship, might strike

him less fiercely than Metellus. Nor does it appear that this view was

wholly unsupported by the facts; for when the battle was about to be

precipitated, Antonius feigned sickness, and the command devolved upon

Petreius, who had not the same tenderness for the conspiracy. The two

armies met at Pistoria, and a conflict ensued hardly surpassed in the

annals of ferocious battles. The conspirators had made up their minds to

conquer or die in the struggle, and this resolution was carried out with a

courage worthy of a better cause. It is said that not a single freeman in

the army of Catiline was left alive. He himself was found dead far in

advance of his lines, still grasping his sword and his face distorted with

a scowl of defiance, which not even the agony of death could relax. He died

as he had lived, fearless, audacious, and revengeful.

Notwithstanding the indisputable evidence adduced against those who had

been executed at Rome, and the still more palpable proofs of guilt on the

part of those who had perished in battle, still the law had been violated.

For the law required that a Roman citizen should not be condemned without

being heard in his own defense. Besides, there has been in all ages a

disposition to sympathize with the fallen as against those by whose agency

they fell. The dead, even the treasonable dead, fight for the restoration

of their forfeited fame, more desperately than they fought to destroy it

while living; and posterity generally concedes the battle. Before the close

of his consular year, Cicero was obliged as best he could to stem the tide

of a reaction which set in favor of the overthrown rebellion. The tribunes

elect-Metellus and Bestia-were both of this sympathy, and when at the close

of his really brilliant consulship, Cicero went into the Forum to render to

the people an account of his deeds, one of the new officers forbade him to

speak but the influence of the great orator was still so potent that when

in spite of the interdict, he cried out with an oath that he had saved the

Republic and the city from ruin, the people answered with a shout of

approval.

Such was the course of events in Rome