CETHEGUS, the name of a Roman patrician family of the Cornelian gens. Like the younger Cato its members kept up the old Roman fashion of dispensing with the tunic and leaving the arms bare (Horace, Ars Poëtica, 50; Lucan, Pharsalia, ii. 543). Two individuals are of some importance:—
(1) Marcus Cornelius Cethegus, pontifex maximus and curule aedile, 213 B.C. In 211, as praetor, he had charge of Apulia; later, he was sent to Sicily, where he proved a successful administrator. In 209 he was censor, and in 204 consul. In 203 he was proconsul in Upper Italy, where, in conjunction with the praetor P. Quintilius Varus, he gained a hard-won victory over Mago, Hannibal’s brother, in Insubrian territory, and obliged him to leave Italy. He died in 196. He had a great reputation as an orator, and is characterized by Ennius as “the quintessence of persuasiveness” (suadae medulla). Horace (Ars Poët. 50; Epistles, ii. 2. 117) calls him an authority on the use of Latin words.
Livy xxv. 2, 41, xxvii. 11, xxix. 11, xxx. 18.
(2) Gaius Cornelius Cethegus, the boldest and most dangerous of Catiline’s associates. Like many other youthful profligates, he joined the conspiracy in the hope of getting his debts cancelled. When Catiline left Rome in 63 B.C., after Cicero’s first speech, Cethegus remained behind as leader of the conspirators with P. Lentulus Sura. He himself undertook to murder Cicero and other prominent men, but was hampered by the dilatoriness of Sura, whose age and rank entitled him to the chief consideration. The discovery of arms in Cethegus’s house, and of the letter which he had given to the ambassadors of the Allobroges, who had been invited to co-operate, led to his arrest. He was condemned to death, and executed, with Sura and others, on the night of the 5th of December.
Sallust, Catilina, 46-55; Cicero, In Cat. iii. 5-7; Appian, Bell. Civ. ii. 2-5; see Catiline.