O tempora, O mores! The Catiline Conspiracy suceeds

Enriched, amnestied, and secure in the knowledge they had not been defeated and were now on the winning side, Caesar’s men cheered him to the skies as he bade them return to their homes, leaving only a small bodyguard of several hundred men for himself.
Why did Caesar disband? I would have thought he would have added his forces ("ragtag" though they may be) to those of Scarurus? Or at least ask for volunteers to stay with him?
As the first snows of the season landed atop the summit of Vesuvius, Petreius, Scarurus and Caesar feasted.
I think you meant Labienus, not Petreius, would be feasting? Given the latter is on a sick bed and furious at all three of them?
 
Why did Caesar disband? I would have thought he would have added his forces ("ragtag" though they may be) to those of Scarurus? Or at least ask for volunteers to stay with him?

I think you meant Labienus, not Petreius, would be feasting? Given the latter is on a sick bed and furious at all three of them?
That's a good point. I did mean Labienus! Petreius, indeed, is Not A Happy Bunny.

He kept a few hundred men for himself, but I was thinking i) it may well have been a condition (that our author didn't mention ;) ) of joining with Scaurus that he would disband most of his army, and ii) a lot of his forces are local peasants, essentially. Disbanding them shows that he's not planning to build up a separate force loyal to himself rather than Pompey; and that's far more valuable to him than a few thousand untrained soldiers would be.

Alternatively, he could well have been pushed into it. He can't keep his ragtag army together forever and he might as well play the role of the benevolent general, dismissing victorious troops.
 
He can't keep his ragtag army together forever and he might as well play the role of the benevolent general, dismissing victorious troops.
True that. But - while you've indicated in the story that this isn't going to happen - Caesar is taking a risk that Petreius doesn't simply annihilate him and his (relatively small) bodyguard. Caesar now basically leads a single (technically over-strength) cohort of troops. That's quite a bit of trust in someone he probably knows is "cheerfully amoral", as you put it. OTOH, Caesar may be counting on the troops not to accept pardoning someone (especially in such a showy manner) and then killing him.

But, please don't mind my nit-picking. ;) Great story, really enjoying it! Looking forward to the next chapter!
 
On the other hand, Caesar doesn't exactly have a ton of options here given that Pompey is clearly vastly more powerful than him and he can't keep fighting forever. Best to accept the inevitable (no army) and get the most he can out of it. At least he does have a bodyguard...
 
Also folding and going passive for now puts Caesar in prime position to be in the back of the line. No one can really expect Caesar to do anything too strenuous just right now with just a couple hundred men under arms, which means Caesar gets to pick the seemingly winning side with Pompey and also not completely burn any bridges by actively wetting his blade with his former allies.
 
Ceaser also got to negotiate an amnesty for his army and a pardon for him and his confidantes, without having been beaten in a battle. He's in a weaker position now for sure, but it is quite possibly the strongest position of any of the people abandoning the Cataline ship as Pompey marches on.
 
Part XXIII - Wolf by the ears
That's right. I finally got some time in between work and buying a house to check in with everyone's favourite backstabbing Romans.

Crassus, indeed, was in fear of the dangers which threatened him on all hands; insomuch that he said, "I have got a wolf by the ears." For he knew the Senatorial party had drawn together a considerable force to revenge themselves upon him; that Pompeius Magnus had secretly sentenced him to die; and that even his own men were formenting mutiny, out of fear of their own lives – Suetonius, On Crassus


Caesar’s defection was in many ways the nail in the coffin of the Decemvirate’s cause. Until then, it might have been possible to hope that Pompey would intervene on the side of the Decemvirate, or at the very least be an honest broker of a genuine compromise. But with Caesar now firmly in the camp of Pompey, it was obvious that Pompey had no intention of supporting the Decemvirate. What was worse – at least from the view of Crassus – was that Pompey had, at the same time, demonstrated that he would demonstrate clemency; that membership of the Decemvirate would not automatically mark one out for death or exile. If such a senior commander as Caesar could be allowed to retain honour, dignity and wealth after repudiating the Decemvirate, so could, it seemed, almost anyone else.

Pompey himself was marching north, to Ariminum. Why he decided not to march on Rome immediately is unclear; the winter snows had not yet rendered passage over the mountains overly difficult. It is likely that this was a decision that owed more to politics than logistics; by delaying, Pompey hoped that the Decemvirate leadership would, to save themselves from the wrath of the Senatorialists, hand themselves over to him; giving Pompey mastery of the city without the need for a risky, unpopular and politically unpalatable siege.

As indeed, many inside Rome were already planning to do. Curio of course had attempted to position himself as the leader of the pro-Pompeian faction; and had ended up in prison for his pains. But other, even more ruthless and certainly more polished operators than Curio were now coldly evaluating their options and deciding Pompey was, at the worst, the lesser of two evils. And chief amongst these were Lentulus Sura and Publius Autronius Paetus – who now began preparing their third act of betrayal in just over a year. Realising that Crassus would never surrender to Pompey; they started their own manouveres. In a stroke of black irony, many of the men they recruited had been part of the original conspiracy to kill Catiline and replace him with Crassus. Indeed, some historians have linked Curio, through Marcus Antonius, to Sura. Whether indeed Curio was one part of an organised conspiracy, whether he was acting in rough concord with Sura, or whether he was indeed entirely his own man, is impossible to say at this stage. Even the fact that Crassus took no action against Sura means little; Sura was a key figure in the regime and he may simply not have felt strong enough to do so.

Crassus himself devoted his formidable energies to fortifying the city. Mass conscription soon yielded him a respectable force of five legions. He also began preparing for a long war. His own stronghold of Hispania was wealthy enough to sustain a considerable war effort for years – as indeed the Roman rebel Sertorius had done so. Catiline’s ramshackle, disorganised and barely functioning administration was overhauled by Crassus. It is doubtful he considered himself strong enough to hold off the forces of both Pompey and Caesar – but he may have felt confident to inflict a crushing defeat on at least one. At the same time, he brought himself precious time by publicly agreeing to Pompey’s proposal of peace talks; effectively blocking any assault by Pompey until after the winter.

Indeed, the Senatorialists themselves – or at least, Cicero and Torquatus – were barely less despairing than Crassus when hearing of Caesar’s defection. Although his military acumen was negligible, Cicero was astute enough to realise that Pompey now controlled the south; had increased his forces in Italy and, most importantly, given essentially any member of the Decemvirate an option to join Pompey, escape punishment, and retain wealth and status. Traitors against the state, men who had overthrown the sacred constitution of Rome herself in the service of their own base desires, would be brought back into the Roman fold. Even more alarming was the prospect of peace talks – which he regarded as no more than a Trojan horse for the coronation of Pompey.

He urged an immediate strike on Rome; backed by Lucullus. Torquatus himself agreed; but the rest of the Senatorial leadership did not. Some were partisans of Pompey. Some were the opposite, urging that a deal with Crassus would be better than Pompey taking supreme command of the state. Others, we might speculate, were simply weary of war and bloodshed, or felt the whole venture too risky. Howevering over the entire discussion was the spectre of Pompey. Although the Senate had not agreed to Pompey’s proposals for a truce and subsequent peace talks, it had not explicitly rejected them either. By opting to assault Rome, they would be both insulting Pompey, rejecting his offers of ‘help’, and allowing the Decemvirate to portray them as tyrants, making war on their own citizenry.

It was Clodius who broke the deadlock. In the East, when the army fighting Mithridates had been under the command of Lucullus, it had been Clodius who had inspirated them to, effectively, go on strike – crippling the war effort and ultimately leading to Lucullus being replaced with Pompey. Now, having escaped Rome and armed with a reputation glorious from the daring attempt to kill Catiline, he went amongst the soldiery – backed up, we might assume, with a considerable quantity of money obtained from Cicero and stories of even greater wealth once Rome fell. Within days, the soldiers – or at least, a vocal minority of them – were calling for a march of Rome, the execution of traitors and for Torquatus to lead them to victory. Faced with such a loud clamour for war, the Senatorial high command reluctantly agreed to an immediate assault. Cicero was simultaneously impressed and appalled by his protégé. In a prophetic letter to Appius, he wrote he saw a multitude of Catilines in his friend. He also noted, with perhaps inappropriate amusement, Pompey’s inevitable fury some days later.

Crassus ordered a scorched-earth policy; with any supplies that could not be transported to Rome burnt. Wells were poisoned, farms burned, and livestock slaughtered. At the same time, he drew his troops to within Rome itself, behind newly strengthened walls. There, he confidently told his supporters, the Senatorialists would batter themselves to pieces over the winter– even as his agents would go to work, offering bribes for desertion and defection.

His supporters, however, did not share his optimistic appraisal of the situation. The Decemvirate seems to have assumed that the Senatorialists would not directly repudiate Pompey’s offer of a truce and peace talks so suddenly; and thus believed they had more months than they actually had to prepare for the resumption of hostilities. Aware that the Senatorialist army was, at most, two weeks from them, they knew they had to act – even though their own preparations were far from ripe.

But stirring in the slums of the Aventine was a third faction. Cethegus was still alive, and had gathered around him what today might be called hardliners. These were the desperate, the radical, men who had indulged too much in greed or bloodshed under Catiline, and too little to offer any new regime, men who had staked everything on Catiline’s gamble and now had nothing more left to lose. In hiding, they plotted; just as Lentulus and his fellows plotted in their villas on the Paletine, as the Senatorialists marched towards Rome – and Pompey, insulted and humiliated, fumed.
 
Well, this was a quite unexpected development... But,supposing that Crasus would manage to survive the incoming coup/killing attempts, the Senatorial contemptuous slight to Pompey just assured that he would, at least, tempted, to align or turn in cobelligerent with the besieged fmer Catilinists now Crassus faction, and step in the war to 'protect Rome and its citizens'...
 
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True that. But - while you've indicated in the story that this isn't going to happen - Caesar is taking a risk that Petreius doesn't simply annihilate him and his (relatively small) bodyguard. Caesar now basically leads a single (technically over-strength) cohort of troops. That's quite a bit of trust in someone he probably knows is "cheerfully amoral", as you put it. OTOH, Caesar may be counting on the troops not to accept pardoning someone (especially in such a showy manner) and then killing him.

But, please don't mind my nit-picking. ;) Great story, really enjoying it! Looking forward to the next chapter!
Also, I realised I never replied to this - sorry!

I love nit-picking. Keeps me on my toes ;)

I mean, you're right, but 'cheerfully amoral' doesn't automatically mean 'going to kill you'. Killing Caesar in battle is one thing, but killing him after he's accepted Pompey's 'amnesty' would be pointless (at this point, Caesar is well-regarded but not the all-conquering warlord) and massively counter-productive (Pompey, either through politics or principle, wants to resolve this without an all-out war...which is impossible if the Decemvirate knows the only options are victory or death).
 
That's very true. But the Senatorial army is MUCH closer to Rome than Pompey is. Pompey's delaying tactics may have been smart politically, but there's a price to be paid...

"Ah Pompey, there you are. Anyway, WE'VE just finished off the rebellion and executed all the traitors. Why, no, sorry, we didn't give you any of their estates. Anyway, Cicero here now has Hispania, maybe you can talk to him. Sorry, gotta go, we're organising a massive triumph...for ourselves."
Well, this was a quite unexpected development... But,supposing that Crasus would manage to survive the incoming coup/killing attempts, the Senatorial contemptuous slight to Pompey just assured that he would, at least, tempted, to align or turn in cobelligerent with the besieged fmer Catilinists now Crassus faction, and step in the war to 'protect Rome and its citizens'..T
 
"Ah Pompey, there you are. Anyway, WE'VE just finished off the rebellion and executed all the traitors. Why, no, sorry, we didn't give you any of their estates. Anyway, Cicero here now has Hispania, maybe you can talk to him. Sorry, gotta go, we're organising a massive triumph...for ourselves."
Perhaps, but even if the Senatorial army would be somewhat helped by the have their enemies in chaos resulting of any botched attempt to kill/overthrown Crassus... But, even, if so, I'd foresee that even if they would manage to enter into Rome, they would still be busy fighting against the armed/entrenched armed bands/ mercenaries in the city.
Also, perhaps, even if more far from Rome than his rivals now turned enemies, Pompey always could opt for displaying the characteristic Roman army celeritas (speed/swiftness) and either ride himself and his cavalry fast forward to Rome while detaching some of veterans formations and speed marching them to the minimal/absolutely necessary rest, towards Rome.
 
Fantastic update! And an ominous ending: forgetting how dangerous an angry, radicalized mob can be has been the death of more than one Roman politician in, well, more "peaceful" times...
 
It seems that Crassus is doubling down on holding Rome. Now is a question to see if he gets killed by the conspirators first or if he goes down with the ship. There is also the question of the Senatorials or Pompey arriving in Rome first. If the Senatorials arrive first, Pompey is going to be pissed off, but another battle for Rome would be going too far. Caesar is likely going to try to strike a compromise. If Pompey is going first, he is probably going to demand Cicero and gang to lay down the weapons, which are probably going to accept.

Regardless of the result: Crassus is cooked and Pompey and the Senatorials are going to be in a very awkward situation.
 
Perhaps, but even if the Senatorial army would be somewhat helped by the have their enemies in chaos resulting of any botched attempt to kill/overthrown Crassus... But, even, if so, I'd foresee that even if they would manage to enter into Rome, they would still be busy fighting against the armed/entrenched armed bands/ mercenaries in the city.
Also, perhaps, even if more far from Rome than his rivals now turned enemies, Pompey always could opt for displaying the characteristic Roman army celeritas (speed/swiftness) and either ride himself and his cavalry fast forward to Rome while detaching some of veterans formations and speed marching them to the minimal/absolutely necessary rest, towards Rome.
Indeed...or Pompey, if he is late, can simply sit back, watch the Senatorialists get sucked into bloody and unpopular urban warfare...and then step in to 'restore order'
 
Fantastic update! And an ominous ending: forgetting how dangerous an angry, radicalized mob can be has been the death of more than one Roman politician in, well, more "peaceful" times...
Thank you. Our man Cethegus is certainly not planning on a nice, comfortable exile eating mullet.
 
(My editing to shorten the original line)
I see what you did there! Cicero is deliberately echoing what Sulla said about Caesar.
Only Sulla was quite wrong about Caesar who was much more alike to him than Marius under any aspect but party affiliation (and desire/need to kill off his enemies)


EDIT: I mean who the desire/need to kill their enemies was one of the main differences between Caesar and Sulla NOT something in which Caesar was more similar to Marius than Sulla… Marius‘ conquest of Rome probably had been the worst of all them
 
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(My editing to shorten the original line)
I see what you did there! Cicero is deliberately echoing what Sulla said about Caesar.
Hahaha, I'm glad you clocked it. There's a couple of little references throughout the TL here and there which I just couldn't resist. Whether Sulla ACTUALLY said it and Cicero is making a knowing reference to it, whether Sulla never said it and Cicero just likes the way it sounds, or whether Sulla did say it but Cicero didn't know of it, I leave as an exercise for the reader.

Only Sulla was quite wrong about Caesar who was much more alike to him than Marius under any aspect but party affiliation (and desire/need to kill off his enemies)


EDIT: I mean who the desire/need to kill their enemies was one of the main differences between Caesar and Sulla NOT something in which Caesar was more similar to Marius than Sulla… Marius‘ conquest of Rome probably had been the worst of all them

Definitely - I always think Marius gets rather 'whitewashed' in history - yes, Sulla was a monster but Marius was hardly much better. Maybe 'losers' usually do get a bit of a whitewashing, especially nowadays, with their crimes conveniently glossed over.

To my mind, he really benefitted from a posthumous association with Caesar.

EDIT: Yes, I know one should avoid judgements of historical personages, but I'd argue Sulla and Marius was violent men even by the standards of a violent, ambitious age.
 
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Definitely - I always think Marius gets rather 'whitewashed' in history - yes, Sulla was a monster but Marius was hardly much better. Maybe 'losers' usually do get a bit of a whitewashing, especially nowadays, with their crimes conveniently glossed over.
Marius is such a fascinating and seemingly contradictory figure; only marginally better, sure, but definitely better than Sulla, but ultimately it's arguable his exploits were even worse for the Republic in the long term. IMO he probably owes most of his whitewashing to his association with the most famous military reform of the Republican era, with his more problematic politics consigned to a footnote to his military exploits.
 
Also the fact that the OTL free reign of Sulla and his crew really set in motion Catiline, the Triumvirates, kinda the whole death of the Republic. Even if Marius was an absolute garbage human being (which he kinda was), actually getting a few Populares reforms through addressing the collapse of the smallholding farmer and the swelling of the urban poor would be huuuuge in potentially preserving the Republic without attaching an Emperor to it.
 
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