It is debatable whether the Catilinarian conspiracy was actually plotted at all, but it is certain that Catiline was treated as guilty by many of his contemporaries and later historical sources. It does not appear that an attempt was made to erase Catiline from memory; instead his story is recounted in detail by both Cicero and Sallust. Sallust portrayed Catiline as possessing some good qualities that made others follow him, such as physical strength and eloquence, but that he was ultimately depraved (Sallust 5). For Sallust, Catiline represented the moral decay that affected Rome; he was able to surround himself with criminals and reprobates because Rome was already corrupted (Sallust 6, 14). He accused him of corrupting the young and reported the belief that he murdered his stepson (Sallust ...
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...Those powerful enough to avoid or cast off any charges could still be criticized posthumously by historians. Maiestas trials showed the power of reputations; based off of them and a delator’s accusation, a person could lose their life. The concept of damnatio memoriae does pose a problem to the historian. If there were conspirators whose legacies were successfully erased by damnatio memoriae, but it would be difficult to discover this. If instead damnatio memoriae was applied more to remove honors and ruin the reputation of a conspirator, as this essay posits, it may be difficult to ascertain the true character of the person and the actual events that took place. However, with the evidence and tools of analysis that exist, it is clear that a person’s reputation, character, and legacy held great significance for Romans and influenced the histories of the period.
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