Julius Caesar




Pompey

Preparations for the Return of Pompey.--Scene in the Forum.--Cato and Metellus.--Caesar suspended from the Praetorship.--Caesar supports Pompey.--Scandals against Caesar's Private Life.--General Character of them.--Festival of the Bona Dea.--Publius Clodius enters Caesar's House dressed as a Woman.--Prosecution and Trial of Clodius.--His Acquittal, and the Reason of it.--Successes of Caesar as Propraetor in Spain.--Conquest of Lusitania.--Return of Pompey to Italy.--First Speech in the Senate.-- Precarious Position of Cicero.--Cato and the Equites.--Caesar elected Consul.--Revival of the Democratic Party.--Anticipated Agrarian Law.-- Uneasiness of Cicero.

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CHAPTER XII.

[B.C. 62.] The execution of Lentulus and Cethegus was received in Rome with the feeling which Caesar had anticipated. There was no active sympathy with the conspiracy, but the conspiracy was forgotten in indignation at the lawless action of the consul and the Senate. It was still violence--always violence. Was law, men asked, never to resume its authority?--was the Senate to deal at its pleasure with the lives and properties of citizens?--criminals though they might be, what right had Cicero to strangle citizens in dungeons without trial? If this was to be allowed, the constitution was at an end; Rome was no longer a republic, but an arbitrary oligarchy. Pompey's name was on every tongue. When would Pompey come? Pompey, the friend of the people, the terror of the aristocracy! Pompey, who had cleared the sea of pirates, and doubled the area of the Roman dominions! Let Pompey return and bring his army with him, and give to Rome the same peace and order which he had already given to the world.

Pompey

A Roman commander, on landing in Italy after foreign service, was expected to disband his legions, and relapse into the position of a private person. A popular and successful general was an object of instinctive fear to the politicians who held the reins of government. The Senate was never pleased to see any individual too much an object of popular idolatry; and in the case of Pompey their suspicion was the greater on account of the greatness of his achievements, and because his command had been forced upon them by the people, against their will. In the absence of a garrison, the city was at the mercy of the patricians and their clients. That the noble lords were unscrupulous in removing persons whom they disliked they had shown in a hundred instances, and Pompey naturally enough hesitated to trust himself among them without security. He required the protection of office, and he had sent forward one of his most distinguished officers, Metellus Nepos, to prepare the way and demand the consulship for him. Metellus, to strengthen his hands, had stood for the tribuneship; and, in spite of the utmost efforts of the aristocracy, had been elected. It fell to Metellus to be the first to give expression to the general indignation in a way peculiarly wounding to the illustrious consul. Cicero imagined that the world looked upon him as its saviour. In his own eyes he was another Romulus, a second founder of Rome. The world, unfortunately, had formed an entirely different estimate of him. The prisoners had been killed on the 5th of December. On the last day of the year it was usual for the outgoing consuls to review the events of their term of office before the Senate; and Cicero had prepared a speech in which he had gilded his own performances with all his eloquence. Metellus commenced his tribunate with forbidding Cicero to deliver his oration, and forbidding him on the special ground that a man who had put Roman citizens to death without allowing them a hearing did not himself deserve to be heard. In the midst of the confusion and uproar which followed, Cicero could only shriek that he had saved his country: a declaration which could have been dispensed with, since he had so often insisted upon it already without producing the assent which he desired.

Notwithstanding his many fine qualities, Cicero was wanting in dignity. His vanity was wounded in its tenderest point, and he attacked Metellus a day or two after, in one of those violently abusive outpourings of which so many specimens of his own survive, and which happily so few other statesmen attempted to imitate. Metellus retorted with a threat of impeaching Cicero, and the grave Roman Curia became no better than a kennel of mad dogs. For days the storm raged on with no symptom of abatement. At last Metellus turned to the people and proposed in the assembly that Pompey should be recalled with his army to restore law and order.

Caesar, who was now praetor, warmly supported Metellus. To him, if to no one else, it was clear as the sun at noonday, that unless some better government could be provided than could be furnished by five hundred such gentlemen as the Roman senators, the State was drifting on to destruction. Resolutions to be submitted to the people were generally first drawn in writing, and were read from the Rostra. When Metellus produced his proposal, Cato, who was a tribune also, sprang to his side, ordered him to be silent, and snatched the scroll out of his hands. Metellus went on, speaking from memory Cato's friends shut his mouth by force. The patricians present drew their swords and cleared the Forum; and the Senate, in the exercise of another right to which they pretended, declared Caesar and Metullus degraded from their offices. Metullus, probably at Caesar's advice, withdrew and went off to Asia, to describe what had passed to Pompey. Caesar remained, and, quietly disregarding the Senate's sentence, continued to sit and hear cases as praetor. His court was forcibly closed. He yielded to violence and retired under protest, being escorted to the door of his house by an enormous multitude. There he dismissed his lictors and laid aside his official dress, that he might furnish no excuse for a charge against him of resisting the established authorities. The mob refused to be comforted. They gathered day after day. They clustered about the pontifical palace. They cried to Caesar to place himself at their head, that they might tear down the senate-house, and turn the caitiffs into the street. Caesar neither then nor ever lent himself to popular excesses. He reminded the citizens that if others broke the law, they must themselves set an example of obeying it, and he bade them return to their homes.

Terrified at the state of the city, and penitent for their injustice to Caesar, the Senate hurriedly revoked their decree of deposition, sent a deputation to him to apologize, and invited him to resume his place among them. The extreme patrician section remained irreconcilable. Caesar complied, but only to find himself denounced again with passionate pertinacity as having been an accomplice of Catiline. Witnesses were produced, who swore to having seen his signature to a treasonable bond. Curius, Cicero's spy, declared that Catiline himself had told him that Caesar was one of the conspirators. Caesar treated the charge with indignant disdain. He appealed to Cicero's conscience, and Cicero was obliged to say that he had derived his earliest and most important information from Caesar himself. The most violent of his accusers were placed under arrest. The informers, after a near escape from being massacred by the crowd, were thrown into prison, and for the moment the furious heats were able to cool.

All eyes were now turned to Pompey. The war in Asia was over. Pompey, it was clear, must now return to receive the thanks of his countrymen; and as he had triumphed in spite of the aristocracy, and as his victories could neither be denied nor undone, the best hope of the Senate was to win him over from the people, and to prevent a union between him and Caesar. Through all the recent dissensions Caesar had thrown his weight on Pompey's side. He, with Cicero, had urged Pompey's appointment to his successive commands. When Cicero went over to the patricians, Caesar had stood by Pompey's officers against the fury of the Senate. Caesar had the people behind him, and Pompey the army. Unless in some way an apple of discord could be thrown between them, the two favorites would overshadow the State, and the Senate's authority would be gone. Nothing could be done for the moment politically. Pompey owed his position to the democracy, and he was too great as yet to fear Caesar as a rival in the Commonwealth. On the personal side there was better hope. Caesar was as much admired in the world of fashion as he was detested in the Curia. He had no taste for the brutal entertainments and more brutal vices of male patrician society. He preferred the companionship of cultivated women, and the noble lords had the fresh provocation of finding their hated antagonist an object of adoration to their wives and daughters. Here, at any rate, scandal had the field to itself. Caesar was accused of criminal intimacy with many ladies of the highest rank, and Pompey was privately informed that his friend had taken advantage of his absence to seduce his wife, Mucia. Pompey was Agamemnon; Caesar had been Aegisthus; and Pompey was so far persuaded that Mucia had been unfaithful to him, that he divorced her before his return.

Charges of this kind have the peculiar advantage that even when disproved or shown to be manifestly absurd, they leave a stain behind them. Careless equally of probability and decency, the leaders of the Senate sacrificed without scruple the reputation of their own relatives if only they could make Caesar odious. The name of Servilia has been mentioned already. Servilia was the sister of Marcus Cato and the mother of Marcus Brutus. She was a woman of remarkable ability and character, and between her and Caesar there was undoubtedly a close acquaintance and a strong mutual affection. The world discovered that she was Caesar's mistress, and that Brutus was his son. It might be enough to say that when Brutus was born Caesar was scarcely fifteen years old, and that, if a later intimacy existed between them, Brutus knew nothing of it or cared nothing for it. When he stabbed Caesar at last it was not as a Hamlet or an Orestes, but as a patriot sacrificing his dearest friend to his country. The same doubt extends to the other supposed victims of Caesar's seductiveness. Names were mentioned in the following century, but no particulars were given. For the most part his alleged mistresses were the wives of men who remained closely attached to him notwithstanding. The report of his intrigue with Mucia answered its immediate purpose, in producing a temporary coldness on Pompey's part toward Caesar; but Pompey must either have discovered the story to be false or else have condoned it, for soon afterward he married Caesar's daughter. Two points may be remarked about these legends: first, that on no single occasion does Caesar appear to have been involved in any trouble or quarrel on account of his love affairs; and secondly, that, with the exception of Brutus and of Cleopatra's Caesarion, whose claims to be Caesar's son were denied and disproved, there is no record of any illegitimate children as the result of these amours--a strange thing if Caesar was as liberal of his favors as popular scandal pretended. It would be idle to affect a belief that Caesar was particularly virtuous. He was a man of the world, living in an age as corrupt as has been ever known. It would be equally idle to assume that all the ink blots thrown upon him were certainly deserved, because we find them in books which we call classical. Proof deserving to be called proof there is none; and the only real evidence is the town talk of a society which feared and hated Caesar, and was glad of every pretext to injure him when alive, or to discredit him after his death. Similar stories have been spread, are spread, and will be spread of every man who raises himself a few inches above the level of his fellows. We know how it is with our contemporaries. A single seed of fact will produce in a season or two a harvest of calumnies, and sensible men pass such things by, and pay no attention to them. With history we are less careful or less charitable. An accusation of immorality is accepted without examination when brought against eminent persons who can no longer defend themselves, and to raise a doubt of its truth passes as a sign of a weak understanding. So let it be. It is certain that Caesar's contemporaries spread rumors of a variety of intrigues, in which they said that he was concerned. It is probable that some were well founded. It is possible that all were well founded. But it is no less indubitable that they rest on evidence which is not evidence at all, and that the most innocent intimacies would not have escaped misrepresentation from the venomous tongues of Roman society. Caesar comes into court with a fairer character than those whose virtues are thought to overshadow him. Marriage, which under the ancient Romans was the most sacred of ties, had become the lightest and the loosest. Cicero divorced Tereutia when she was old and ill-tempered, and married a young woman. Cato made over his Marcia, the mother of his children, to his friend Hortensius, and took her back as a wealthy widow when Hortensius died. Pompey put away his first wife at Sylla's bidding, and took a second who was already the wife of another man. Caesar, when little more than a boy, dared the Dictator's displeasure rather than condescend to a similar compliance. His worst enemies admitted that from the gluttony, the drunkenness, and the viler forms of sensuality, which were then so common, he was totally free. For the rest, it is certain that no friend ever permanently quarrelled with him on any question of domestic injury; and either there was a general indifference on such subjects, which lightens the character of the sin, or popular scandals in old Rome were of no sounder material than we find them composed of in other countries and in other times.

Turning from scandal to reality, we come now to a curious incident, which occasioned a fresh political convulsion, where Caesar appears, not as an actor in an affair of gallantry, but as a sufferer.

Pompey was still absent. Caesar had resumed his duties as praetor, and was living in the official house of the Pontifex Maximus, with his mother Aurelia and his wife Pompeia. The age was fertile of new religions. The worship of the Bona Dea, a foreign goddess of unknown origin, had recently been introduced into Rome, and an annual festival was held in her honor in the house of one or other of the principal magistrates. The Vestal virgins officiated at the ceremonies, and women only were permitted to be present. This year the pontifical palace was selected for the occasion, and Caesar's wife Pompeia was to preside.

The reader may remember a certain youth named Clodius, who had been with Lucullus in Asia, and had been a chief instigator of the mutiny in his army. He was Lucullus's brother-in-law, a member of the Claudian family, a patrician of the patricians, and connected by blood and marriage with the proudest members of the Senate. If Cicero is to be believed, he had graduated even while a boy in every form of vice, natural and unnatural. He was bold, clever, unprincipled, and unscrupulous, with a slender diminutive figure and a delicate woman's face. His name was Clodius Pulcher. Cicero played upon it and called him Pulchellus Puer, "the pretty boy." Between this promising young man and Caesar's wife Pompeia there had sprung up an acquaintance, which Clodius was anxious to press to further extremes. Pompeia was difficult of access, her mother-in-law Aurelia keeping a strict watch over her; and Clodius, who was afraid of nothing, took advantage of the Bona Dea festival to make his way into Caesar's house dressed as a woman. Unfortunately for him, his disguise was detected. The insulted Vestals and the other ladies who were present flew upon him like the dogs of Actaeon, tore his borrowed garments from him, and drove him into the street naked and wounded. The adventure became known. It was mentioned in the Senate, and the College of Priests was ordered to hold an inquiry. The college found that Clodius had committed sacrilege, and the regular course in such cases was to send the offender to trial. There was general unwillingness, however, to treat this matter seriously. Clodius had many friends in the house, and even Cicero, who was inclined at first to be severe, took on reflection a more lenient view. Clodius had a sister, a light lady who, weary of her conquests over her fashionable admirers, had tried her fascinations on the great orator. He had escaped complete subjugation, but he had been flattered by the attention of the seductive beauty, and was ready to help her brother out of his difficulty. Clodius was not yet the dangerous desperado which he afterward became; and immorality, though seasoned with impiety, might easily, it was thought, be made too much of. Caesar himself did not press for punishment. As president of the college, he had acquiesced in their decision, and he divorced the unfortunate Pompeia; but he expressed no opinion as to the extent of her criminality, and he gave as his reason for separating from her, not that she was guilty, but that Caesar's wife must be above suspicion.

Cato, however, insisted on a prosecution. Messala, one of the consuls, was equally peremptory. The hesitation was regarded by the stricter senators as a scandal to the order; and in spite of the efforts of the second consul Piso, who was a friend of Clodius, it was decided that a bill for his indictment should be submitted to the assembly in the Forum. Clodius, it seems, was generally popular. No political question was raised by the proceedings against him; for the present his offence was merely a personal one; the wreck of Catiline's companions, the dissolute young aristocrats, the loose members of all ranks and classes, took up the cause, and gathered to support their favorite, with young Curio, whom Cicero called in mockery Filiola, at their head. The approaches to the Forum were occupied by them. Piso, by whom the bill was introduced, himself advised the people to reject it. Cato flew to the Rostra and railed at the consul. Hortensius, the orator, and many others spoke on the same side. It appeared at last that the people were divided, and would consent to the bill being passed, if it was recommended to them by both the consuls. Again, therefore, the matter was referred to the Senate. One of the tribunes introduced Clodius, that he might speak for himself. Cicero had now altered his mind, and was in favor of the prosecution.

[February, B.C. 61.] The "pretty youth" was alternately humble and violent, begging pardon, and then bursting into abuse of his brother-in-law, Lucullus, and more particularly of Cicero, whom he suspected of being the chief promoter of the proceedings against him. When it came to a division, the Senate voted by a majority of four hundred to fifteen that the consuls must recommend the bill. Piso gave way, and the tribune also who had been in Clodius's favor. The people were satisfied, and a court of fifty-six judges was appointed, before whom the trial was to take place. It seemed that a conviction must necessarily follow, for there was no question about the facts, which were all admitted. There was some manoeuvring, however, in the constitution of the court, which raised Cicero's suspicions. The judges, instead of being selected by the praetor, were chosen by lot, and the prisoner was allowed to challenge as many names as he pleased. The result was that in Cicero's opinion a more scandalous set of persons than those who were finally sworn were never collected round a gaming table-- "disgraced senators, bankrupt knights, disreputable tribunes of the treasury, the few honest men that were left appearing to be ashamed of their company"--and Cicero considered that it would have been better if Hortensius, who was prosecuting, had withdrawn, and had left Clodius to be condemned by the general sense of respectable people, rather than risk the credit of Roman justice before so scandalous a tribunal. 1 Still the case as it proceeded appeared so clear as to leave no hope of an acquittal. Clodius's friends were in despair, and were meditating an appeal to the mob. The judges, on the evening of the first day of the trial, as if they had already decided on a verdict of guilty, applied for a guard to protect them while they delivered it. The Senate complimented them in giving their consent. With a firm expectation present in all men's minds the second morning dawned. Even in Rome, accustomed as it was to mockeries of justice, public opinion was shocked when the confident anticipation was disappointed. According to Cicero, Marcus Crassus, for reasons known to himself, had been interested in Clodius. During the night he sent for the judges one by one. He gave them money. What else he either gave or promised them, must continue veiled in Cicero's Latin. 2 Before these influences the resolution of the judges melted away, and when the time came, thirty-one out of fifty-six high-born Roman peers and gentlemen declared Clodius innocent.

The original cause was nothing. That a profligate young man should escape punishment for a licentious frolic was comparatively of no consequence; but the trial acquired a notoriety of infamy which shook once more the already tottering constitution.

"Why did you ask for a guard?" old Catulus growled to the judges: "was it that the money you have received might not be taken from you?"

"Such is the history of this affair," Cicero wrote to his friend Atticus. "We thought that the foundation of the Commonwealth had been surely re- established in my consulship, all orders of good men being happily united. You gave the praise to me and I to the gods; and now unless some god looks favorably on us, all is lost in this single judgment. Thirty Romans have been found to trample justice under foot for a bribe, and to declare an act not to have been committed, about which not only not a man, but not a beast of the field, can entertain the smallest doubt."

Cato threatened the judges with impeachment; Cicero stormed in the Senate, rebuked the consul Piso, and lectured Clodius in a speech which he himself admired exceedingly. The "pretty boy" in reply taunted Cicero with wishing to make himself a king. Cicero rejoined with asking Clodius about a man named "King," whose estates he had appropriated, and reminded him of a misadventure among the pirates, from which he had come off with nameless ignominy. Neither antagonist very honorably distinguished himself in this encounter of wit. The Senate voted at last for an inquiry into the judges' conduct; but an inquiry only added to Cicero's vexation, for his special triumph had been, as he conceived, the union of the Senate with the equites; and the equites took the resolution as directed against themselves, and refused to be consoled. 3

Caesar had been absent during these scenes. His term of office having expired, he had been despatched as propraetor to Spain, where the ashes of the Sertorian rebellion were still smouldering; and he had started for his province while the question of Clodius's trial was still pending. Portugal and Gallicia were still unsubdued. Bands of robbers lay everywhere in the fastnesses of the mountain ranges. Caesar was already favorably known in Spain for his service as quaestor. He now completed the conquest of the peninsula. He put down the banditti. He reorganized the administration with the rapid skill which always so remarkably distinguished him. He sent home large sums of money to the treasury. His work was done quickly, but it was done completely. He nowhere left an unsound spot unprobed. He never contented himself with the superficial healing of a wound which would break out again when he was gone. What he began he finished, and left it in need of no further surgery. As his reward, he looked for a triumph, and the consulship, one or both; and the consulship he knew could not well be refused to him, unwelcome as it would be to the Senate.

Pompey meanwhile was at last coming back. All lesser luminaries shone faint before the sun of Pompey, the subduer of the pirates, the conqueror of Asia, the glory of the Roman name. Even Cicero had feared that the fame of the saviour of his country might pale before the lustre of the great Pompey. "I used to be in alarm," he confessed with naďve simplicity, "that six hundred years hence the merits of Sampsiceramus 4 might seem to have been more than mine." 5 But how would Pompey appear? Would he come at the head of his army, like Sylla, the armed soldier of the democracy, to avenge the affront upon his officers, to reform the State, to punish the Senate for the murder of the Catiline conspirators? Pompey had no such views, and no capacity for such ambitious operations. The ground had been prepared beforehand. The Mucia story had perhaps done its work, and the Senate and the great commander were willing to meet each other, at least with outward friendliness.

His successes had been brilliant; but they were due rather to his honesty than to his military genius. He had encountered no real resistance, and Cato had sneered at his exploits as victories over women. He had put down the buccaneers, because he had refused to be bribed by them. He had overthrown Mithridates and had annexed Asia Minor and Syria to the Roman dominions. Lucullus could have done it as easily as his successor, if he could have turned his back upon temptations to increase his own fortune or gratify his own passions. The wealth of the East had lain at Pompey's feet, and he had not touched it. He had brought millions into the treasury. He returned, as he had gone out, himself moderately provided for, and had added nothing to his private income. He understood, and practised strictly, the common rules of morality. He detested dishonesty and injustice. But he had no political insight; and if he was ambitious, it was with the innocent vanity which desires, and is content with, admiration. In the time of the Scipios he would have lived in an atmosphere of universal applause, and would have died in honor with an unblemished name. In the age of Clodius and Catiline he was the easy dupe of men of stronger intellect than his own, who played upon his unsuspicious integrity. His delay in coming back had arisen chiefly from anxiety for his personal safety. He was eager to be reconciled to the Senate, yet without deserting the people. While in Asia, he had reassured Cicero that nothing was to be feared from him. 6 His hope was to find friends on all sides and in all parties, and he thought that he had deserved their friendship.

[December, B.C. 62.] Thus when Pompey landed at Brindisi his dreaded legions were disbanded, and he proceeded to the Capitol, with a train of captive princes, as the symbols of his victories, and wagons loaded with treasure as an offering to his country. He was received as he advanced with the shouts of applauding multitudes. He entered Rome in a galaxy of glory. A splendid column commemorated the cities which he had taken, the twelve million human beings whom he had slain or subjected. His triumph was the most magnificent which the Roman citizens had ever witnessed, and by special vote he was permitted to wear his triumphal robe in the Senate as often and as long as might please him. The fireworks over, and with the aureole of glory about his brow, the great Pompey, like another Samson shorn of his locks, dropped into impotence and insignificance. In February, 61, during the debate on the Clodius affair, he made his first speech in the Senate. Cicero, listening with malicious satisfaction, reported that "Pompey gave no pleasure to the wretched; to the bad he seemed without backbone; he was not agreeable to the well-to-do; the wise and good found him wanting in substance;" 7 in short, the speech was a failure. Pompey applied for a second consulship. He was reminded that he had been consul eight years previously, and that the ten years' interval prescribed by Sylla, between the first and the second term, had not expired. He asked for lands for his soldiers, and for the ratification of his acts in Asia. Cato opposed the first request, as likely to lead to another agrarian law. Lucullus, who was jealous of him, raised difficulties about the second, and thwarted him with continual delays.

[February 1, B.C. 60.] Pompey, being a poor speaker, thus found himself entirely helpless in the new field. Cicero, being relieved of fear from him as a rival, was wise enough to see that the collapse might not continue, and that his real qualities might again bring him to the front. The Clodius business had been a frightful scandal, and, smooth as the surface might seem, ugly cracks were opening all round the constitution. The disbanded legions were impatient for their farms. The knights, who were already offended with the Senate for having thrown the disgrace of the Clodius trial upon them, had a fresh and more substantial grievance. The leaders of the order had contracted to farm the revenues in Asia. They found that the terms which they had offered were too high, and they claimed an abatement, which the Senate refused to allow. The Catiline conspiracy should have taught the necessity of a vigorous administration. Caecilius Metellus and Lucius Afranius, who had been chosen consuls for the year 60, were mere nothings. Metellus was a vacant aristocrat, 8 to be depended on for resisting popular demands, but without insight otherwise; the second, Afranius, was a person "on whom only a philosopher could look without a groan;" 9 and one year more might witness the consulship of Caesar. "I have not a friend," Cicero wrote, "to whom I can express my real thoughts. Things cannot long stand as they are. I have been vehement: I have put out all my strength in the hope of mending matters and healing our disorders, but we will not endure the necessary medicine. The seat of justice has been publicly debauched. Resolutions are introduced against corruption, but no law can be carried. The knights are alienated. The Senate has lost its authority. The concord of the orders is gone, and the pillars of the Commonwealth which I set up are overthrown. We have not a statesman, or the shadow of one. My friend Pompey, who might have done something, sits silent, admiring his fine clothes. 10 Crassus will say nothing to make himself unpopular, and the rest are such idiots as to hope that although the constitution fall they will save their own fish-ponds. 11 Cato, the best man that we have, is more honest than wise. For these three months he has been worrying the revenue farmers, and will not let the Senate satisfy them." 12

It was time for Cicero to look about him. The Catiline affair was not forgotten. He might still be called to answer for the executions, and he felt that he required some stronger support than an aristocracy, who would learn nothing and seemed to be bent on destroying themselves. In letter after letter he pours out his contempt for his friends "of the fish- ponds," as he called them, who would neither mend their ways nor let others mend them. He would not desert them altogether, but he provided for contingencies. The tribunes had taken up the cause of Pompey's legionaries. Agrarian laws were threatened, and Pompey himself was most eager to see his soldiers satisfied. Cicero, who had hitherto opposed an agrarian law with all his violence, discovered now that something might be said in favor of draining "the sink of the city" 13 and repeopling Italy. Besides the public advantage, he felt that he would please the mortified but still popular Pompey; and he lent his help in the Senate to improving a bill introduced by the tribunes, and endeavoring, though unsuccessfully, to push it through.

[July, B.C. 60.] So grateful was Pompey for Cicero's support that he called him, in the Senate, "the saviour of the world." 14Cicero was delighted with the phrase, and began to look to Pompey as a convenient ally. He thought that he could control and guide him and use his popularity for moderate measures. Nay, even in his despair of the aristocracy, he began to regard as not impossible a coalition with Caesar. "You caution me about Pompey," he wrote to Atticus in the following July. "Do not suppose that I am attaching myself to him for my own protection; but the state of things is such, that if we two disagree the worst misfortunes may be feared. I make no concessions to him, I seek to make him better, and to cure him of his popular levity; and now he speaks more highly by far of my actions than of his own. He has merely done well, he says, while I have saved the State. However this may affect me, it is certainly good for the Commonwealth. What if I can make Caesar better also, who is now coming on with wind and tide? Will that be so bad a thing? Even if I had no enemies, if I was supported as universally as I ought to be, still a medicine which will cure the diseased parts of the State is better than the surgery which would amputate them. The knights have fallen off from the Senate. The noble lords think they are in heaven when they have barbel in their ponds that will eat out of their hands, and they leave the rest to fate. You cannot love Cato more than I love him, but he does harm with the best intentions. He speaks as if he was in Plato's Republic, instead of being in the dregs of that of Romulus. Most true that corrupt judges ought to be punished! Cato proposed it, the Senate agreed; but the knights have declared war upon the Senate. Most insolent of the revenue farmers to throw up their contract! Cato resisted them, and carried his point; but now when seditions break out, the knights will not lift a finger to repress them. Are we to hire mercenaries? Are we to depend on our slaves and freedmen?.... But enough." 15

[October, B.C. 60.] [November, B.C. 60.] Cicero might well despair of a Senate who had taken Cato to lead them. Pompey had come home in the best of dispositions. The Senate had offended Pompey, and, more than that, had offended his legionaries. They had quarrelled with the knights. They had quarrelled with the moneyed interests. They now added an entirely gratuitous affront to Caesar. His Spanish administration was admitted by every one to have been admirable. He was coming to stand for the consulship, which could not be refused; but he asked for a triumph also, and as the rule stood there was a difficulty, for if he was to have a triumph, he must remain outside the walls till the day fixed for it, and if he was a candidate for office, he must be present in person on the day of the election. The custom, though convenient in itself, had been more than once set aside. Caesar applied to the Senate for a dispensation, which would enable him to be a candidate in his absence; and Cato, either from mere dislike of Caesar or from a hope that he might prefer vanity to ambition, and that the dreaded consulship might be escaped, persuaded the Senate to refuse. If this was the expectation, it was disappointed. Caesar dropped his triumph, came home, and went through the usual forms, and it at once appeared that his election was certain, and that every powerful influence in the State was combined in his favor. From Pompey he met the warmest reception. The Mucia bubble had burst. Pompey saw in Caesar only the friend who had stood by him in every step of his later career, and had braved the fury of the Senate at the side of his officer Metellus Nepos. Equally certain it was that Caesar, as a soldier, would interest himself for Pompey's legionaries, and that they could be mutually useful to each other. Caesar had the people at his back, and Pompey had the army. The third great power in Rome was that of the capitalists, and about the attitude of these there was at first some uncertainty. Crassus, who was the impersonation of them, was a friend of Caesar, but had been on bad terms with Pompey. Caesar, however, contrived to reconcile them; and thus all parties outside the patrician circle were combined for a common purpose. Could Cicero have taken his place frankly at their side, as his better knowledge told him to do, the inevitable revolution might have been accomplished without bloodshed, and the course of history have been different. Caesar wished it. But it was not so to be. Cicero perhaps found that he would have to be content with a humbler position than he had anticipated, that in such a combination he would have to follow rather than to lead. He was tempted. He saw a promise of peace, safety, influence, if not absolute, yet considerable. But he could not bring himself to sacrifice the proud position which he had won for himself in his consulship, as leader of the Conservatives; and he still hoped to reign in the Senate, while using the protection of the popular chiefs as a shelter in time of storms. Caesar was chosen consul without opposition. His party was so powerful that it seemed at one time as if he could name his colleague, but the Senate succeeded with desperate efforts in securing the second place. They subscribed money profusely, the immaculate Cato prominent among them. The machinery of corruption was well in order. The great nobles commanded the votes of their clientčle, and they succeeded in giving Caesar the same companion who had accompanied him through the aedileship and the praetorship, Marcus Bibulus, a dull, obstinate fool, who could be relied on, if for nothing else, yet for dogged resistance to every step which the Senate disapproved. For the moment they appeared to have thought that with Bibulus's help they might defy Caesar and reduce his office to a nullity. Immediately on the election of the consuls, it was usual to determine the provinces to which they were to be appointed when their consulate should expire. The regulation lay with the Senate, and, either in mere spleen or to prevent Caesar from having the command of an army, they allotted him the department of the "Woods and Forests." 16 A very few weeks had to pass before they discovered that they had to do with a man who was not to be turned aside so slightingly.

Hitherto Caesar had been feared and hated, but his powers were rather suspected than understood. As the nephew of Marius and the son-in-law of Cinna, he was the natural chief of the party which had once governed Rome and had been trampled under the hoof of Sylla. He had shown on many occasions that he had inherited his uncle's principles, and could be daring and skilful in asserting them. But he had held carefully within the constitutional lines; he had kept himself clear of conspiracies; he had never, like the Gracchi, put himself forward as a tribune or attempted the part of a popular agitator. When he had exerted himself in the political world of Rome, it had been to maintain the law against violence, to resist and punish encroachments of arbitrary power, or to rescue the Empire from being gambled away by incapable or profligate aristocrats. Thus he had gathered for himself the animosity of the fashionable upper classes and the confidence of the body of the people. But what he would do in power, or what it was in him to do, was as yet merely conjectural.

[B.C. 50.] At all events, after an interval of a generation there was again a popular consul, and on every side there was a harvest of iniquities ready for the sickle. Sixty years had passed since the death of the younger Gracchus; revolution after revolution had swept over the Commonwealth, and Italy was still as Tiberius Gracchus had found it. The Gracchan colonists had disappeared. The Syllan military proprietors had disappeared--one by one they had fallen to beggary, and had sold their holdings, and again the country was parcelled into enormous estates cultivated by slave-gangs. The Italians had been emancipated, but the process had gone no further. The libertini, the sons of the freedmen, still waited for equality of rights. The rich and prosperous provinces beyond the Po remained unenfranchised, while the value of the franchise itself was daily diminishing as the Senate resumed its control over the initiative of legislation. Each year the elections became more corrupt. The Clodius judgment had been the most frightful instance which had yet occurred of the depravity of the law courts; while, by Cicero's own admission, not a single measure could pass beyond discussion into act which threatened the interests of the oligarchy. The consulship of Caesar was looked to with hope from the respectable part of the citizens, with alarm from the high-born delinquents as a period of genuine reform. The new consuls were to enter office on the 1st of January. In December it was known that an agrarian law would be at once proposed under plea of providing for Pompey's troops; and Cicero had to decide whether he would act in earnest in the spirit which he had begun to show when the tribunes' bill was under discussion, or would fall back upon resistance with the rest of his party, or evade the difficult dilemma by going on foreign service, or else would simply absent himself from Rome while the struggle was going on. "I may either resist," he said, "and there will be an honorable fight; or I may do nothing, and withdraw into the country, which will be honorable also; or I may give active help, which I am told Caesar expects of me. His friend, Cornelius Balbus, who was with me lately, affirms that Caesar will be guided in everything by my advice and Pompey's, and will use his endeavor to bring Pompey and Crassus together. Such a course has its advantages; it will draw me closely to Pompey and, if I please, to Caesar. I shall have no more to fear from my enemies. I shall be at peace with the people. I can look to quiet in my old age. But the lines still move me which conclude the third book (of my Poem on my consulship): 'Hold to the track on which thou enteredst in thy early youth, which thou pursuedst as consul so valorously and bravely. Increase thy fame, and seek the praise of the good.'" 17

It had been proposed to send Cicero on a mission to Egypt. "I should like well, and I have long wished," he said, "to see Alexandria and the rest of that country. They have had enough of me here at present, and they may wish for me when I am away. But to go now, and to go on a commission from Caesar and Pompey!

  I should blush
  To face the men and long-robed dames of Troy. 18

What will our optimates say, if we have any optimates left? Polydamas will throw in my teeth that I have been bribed by the opposition--I mean Cato, who is one out of a hundred thousand to me. What will history say of me six hundred years hence? I am more afraid of that than of the chatter of my contemporaries." 19

So Cicero meditated, thinking as usual of himself first and of his duty afterward--the fatalest of all courses then and always.

[1] "Si causam quaeris absolutionis, egestas judicum fuit et turpitudo.... Non vidit (Hortensius) satius esse illum in infamiâ relinqui ac sordibus quam infirmo judicio committi."--To Atticus, i. 16.

[2] "Jam vero, oh Dii Boni! rem perditam! etiam noctes certarum mulierum, atque adolescentulorum nobilium introductiones nonnullis judicibus pro mercedis cumulo fuerunt."--Ad Atticum, i. 16.

[3] "Nos hic in republicâ infirmâ, miserâ commutabilique versamur. Credo enim te audisse, nostros equites paene a senatu esse disjunctos; qui primum illud valde graviter tulerund, promulgatum ex senatus consulto fuisse, ut de iis, qui ob judicaudum pecuniam accepissent queareretur. Quâ in re decernendâ cum ego casu non affuissem, sensissemque id equestrem ordinem ferre moleste, neque aperte dicere: objurgavi senatum, ut mihi visus sum, summâ cum auctoritate, et in causâ non verecundâ admodum gravis et copiosus fui."--To Atticus, i. 17.

[4] A nickname under which Cicero often speaks of Pompey.

[5] "Solebat enim me pungere, ne Sampsicerami merita in patriam ad annos DC majora viderentur, quam nostra."--To Atticus, ii. 17.

[6] "Pompeius nobis amicissimus esse constat."--To Atticus, i. 13.

[7] "Non jucunda miseris, inanis improbis, beatis non grata, bonis non gravis. Itaque frigebat."--To Atticus, i. 14.

[8] "Metellus non homo, sed litus atque aer, et solitudo mera."--To Atticus, i. 18.

[9] "Consul est impositus is nobis, quem nemo, praeter nos philosophos, aspicere sine suspiratu potest."--Ib. i. 18.

[10] "Pompeius togulam illam pictam silentio tuetur suam."--Ib. The "picta togula" means the triumphal robe which Pompey was allowed to wear.

[11] "Ceteros jam nosti; qui ita sunt stulti, ut amissâ republicâ piscinas suas fore salvas sperare videantur."--Ib.

[12] Ib., abridged.

[13] "Sentinam urbis," a worse word than he had blamed in Rullus three years before.--To Atticus, i. 19.

[14] "Pompeium adduxi in eam voluntatem, ut in Senatu non semel, sed saepe, multisque verbis, hujus mihi salutem imperii atque orbis terrarum adjudicarit."--ib.

[15] To Atticus, ii. 1, abridged.

[16] Silvae Callesque--to which "woods and forests" is a near equivalent.

[17] "Interea cursus, quos primâ a parte juventae, Quosque ideo consul virtute animoque petisti, Hos retine atquae auge famam laudesque bonorum." To Atticus, ii. 3.

[18] Iliad, vi. 442. Lord Derby's translation.

[19] To Atticus, ii. 5.


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