Catiline, who died during his unsuccessful coup against the Roman Republic, was depicted even by his detractors as a man of considerable talent, charisma, and energy, as well as one of unrestrained impulses and vices (he was tried for deflowering a vestal virgin, for instance).
Reader Andrew thought Sallust’s description of Catiline’s character was a fitting description of the “personality,” or one might say, culture, of many investment banks:
Animus audax, subdolus, varius, cuius rei lubet simulator ac dissimulator, alieni adpetens, sui profusus, ardens in cupiditatibus; satis eloquentiae, sapientiae parum. Vastus animus inmoderata, incredibilia, nimis alta semper cupiebat.
His spirit was bold, cunning, changeable according to his needs, in any given
matter capable of pretending both to be things that he wasn’t and not to be
things that he was, hungering for what belonged to others, careless with his
own, violent in his desires; he had a fair amount of eloquence, but little
wisdom. His overgrown spirit constantly longed for what was unbounded,
unbelievable, and beyond his reach.
Of course, the parallel fails on other levels. Cataline was promoting a debt jubilee, something no respectable member of the financial classes would ever back. But his plan to overthrow the Republic appeared to stem from his inability to become consul via legitimate routes, so one has to wonder whether his populist stance was simply a means to an end.