Cicero and Clodius

Cicero and Clodius.--Position and Character of Clodius.--Cato sent to Cyprus.--Attempted Recall of Cicero defeated by Clodius.--Fight in the Forum.--Pardon and Return of Cicero.--Moderate Speech to the People.-- Violence in the Senate.--Abuse of Piso and Gabinius.--Coldness of the Senate toward Cicero.--Restoration of Cicero's House.--Interfered with by Clodius.--Factions of Clodius and Milo.--Ptolemy Auletes expelled by his Subjects.--Appeals to Rome for Help.--Alexandrian Envoys assassinated.-- Clodius elected aedile.--Fight in the Forum.--Parties in Rome.--Situation of Cicero.--Rally of the Aristocracy.--Attempt to repeal the Leges Juliae.--Conference at Lucca.--Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus.--Cicero deserts the Senate.--Explains his Motives.--Confirmation of the Ordinances of Lucca.--Pompey and Crassus Consuls.--Caesar's Command prolonged for Five Additional Years.--Rejoicings in Rome.--Spectacle in the Amphitheater. > Julius Caesar > Chapter 15


[B.C.58] Before his own catastrophe, and before he could believe that he was in danger, Cicero had discerned clearly the perils which threatened the State. The Empire was growing more extensive. The "Tritons of the fish- ponds" still held the reins; and believed their own supreme duty was to divide the spoils among themselves. The pyramid was standing on its point. The mass which rested on it was becoming more portentous and unwieldy. The Senate was the official power; the armies were the real power; and the imagination of the Senate was that after each conquest the soldiers would be dismissed back into humble life unrewarded, while the noble lords took possession of the new acquisitions, and added new millions to their fortunes.

Cicero and Clodius

All this Cicero knew, and yet he had persuaded himself that it could continue without bringing on a catastrophe. He saw his fellow- senators openly bribed; he saw the elections become a mere matter of money. He saw adventurers pushing themselves into office by steeping themselves in debt, and paying their debts by robbing the provincials. He saw these high-born scoundrels coming home loaded with treasure, buying lands and building palaces, and, when brought to trial, purchasing the consciences of their judges. Yet he had considered such phenomena as the temporary accidents of a constitution which was still the best that could be conceived, and every one that doubted the excellence of it he had come to regard as an enemy of mankind. So long as there was free speech in Senate and platform for orators like himself, all would soon be well again. Had not he, a mere country gentleman's son, risen under it to wealth and consideration? and was not his own rise a sufficient evidence that there was no real injustice? Party struggles were over, or had no excuse for continuance. Sylla's constitution had been too narrowly aristocratic. But Sylla's invidious laws had been softened by compromise. The tribunes had recovered their old privileges. The highest offices of State were open to the meanest citizen who was qualified for them. Individuals of merit might have been kept back for a time by jealousy; the Senate had too long objected to the promotion of Pompey; but their opposition had been overcome by purely constitutional means. The great general had obtained his command by land and sea; he, Cicero, having by eloquent speech proved to the people that he ought to be nominated. What could any one wish for more? And yet Senate and Forum were still filled with faction, quarrel, and discontent! One interpretation only Cicero had been able to place on such a phenomenon. In Rome, as in all great communities, there were multitudes of dissolute, ruined wretches, the natural enemies of property and order. Bankrupt members of the aristocracy had lent themselves to these people as their leaders, and had been the cause of all the trouble of the past years. If such renegades to their order could be properly discouraged or extinguished, Cicero had thought that there would be nothing more to desire. Catiline he had himself made an end of to his own immortal glory, but now Catiline had revived in Clodius; and Clodius, so far from being discouraged, was petted and encouraged by responsible statesmen who ought to have known better. Caesar had employed him; Crassus had employed him; even Pompey had stooped to connect himself with the scandalous young incendiary, and had threatened to call in the army if the Senate attempted to repeal Caesar's iniquitous laws. 1 Still more inexplicable was the ingratitude of the aristocracy and their friends, the "boni" or good--the "Conservatives of the State," 2 as Cicero still continued to call Caesar's opponents. He respected them; he loved them; he had done more for their cause than any single man in the Empire; and yet they had never recognized his services by word or deed. He had felt tempted to throw up public life in disgust, and retire to privacy and philosophy.

So Cicero had construed the situation before his exile, and he had construed it ill. If he had wished to retire he could not. He had been called to account for the part of his conduct for which he most admired himself. The ungracious Senate, as guilty as he, if guilt there had been, had left him to bear the blame of it, and he saw himself driven into banishment by an insolent reprobate, a patrician turned Radical and demagogue, Publius Clodius. Indignity could be carried no farther.

Clodius is the most extraordinary figure in this extraordinary period. He had no character. He had no distinguished talent save for speech; he had no policy; he was ready to adopt any cause or person which for the moment was convenient to him; and yet for five years this man was the omnipotent leader of the Roman mob. He could defy justice, insult the consuls, beat the tribunes, parade the streets with a gang of armed slaves, killing persons disagreeable to him; and in the Senate itself he had his high friends and connections who threw a shield over him when his audacity had gone beyond endurance. We know Clodius only from Cicero; and a picture of him from a second hand might have made his position more intelligible, if not more reputable. Even in Rome it is scarcely credible that the Clodius of Cicero could have played such a part, or that the death of such a man should have been regarded as a national calamity. Cicero says that Clodius revived Catiline's faction; but what was Catiline's faction? or how came Catiline to have a faction which survived him?

Be this as it may, Clodius had banished Cicero, and had driven him away over the seas to Greece, there, for sixteen months, to weary Heaven and his friends with his lamentations. Cicero had refused Caesar's offered friendship; Caesar had not cared to leave so powerful a person free to support the intended attacks on his legislation, and had permitted, perhaps had encouraged, the prosecution. Cicero out of the way, the second person whose presence in Rome Caesar thought might be inconvenient, Marcus Cato, had been got rid of by a process still more ingenious. The aristocracy pretended that the acts of Caesar's consulship had been invalid through disregard of the interdictions of Bibulus; and one of those acts had been the reduction of Clodius to the order of plebeians. If none of them were valid, Clodius was not legally tribune, and no commission which Clodius might confer through the people would have validity. A service was discovered by which Cato was tempted, and which he was induced to accept at Clodius's hands. Thus he was at once removed from the city, and it was no longer open to him to deny that Caesar's laws had been properly passed. The work on which he was sent deserves a few words. The kingdom of Cyprus had long been attached to the crown of Egypt. Ptolemy Alexander, dying in the year 80, had bequeathed both Egypt and Cyprus to Rome; but the Senate had delayed to enter on their bequest, preferring to share the fines which Ptolemy's natural heirs were required to pay for being spared. One of these heirs, Ptolemy Auletes, or "the Piper," father of the famous Cleopatra, was now reigning in Egypt, and was on the point of being expelled by his subjects. He had been driven to extortion to raise a subsidy for the senators, and he had made himself universally abhorred. Ptolemy of Cyprus had been a better sovereign, but a less prudent client. He had not overtaxed his people; he had kept his money. Clodius, if Cicero's story is true, had a private grudge against him. Clodius had fallen among Cyprian pirates. Ptolemy had not exerted himself for his release, and he had suffered unmentionable indignities. At all events, the unfortunate king was rich, and was unwilling to give what was expected of him. Clodius, on the plea that the King of Cyprus protected pirates, persuaded the Assembly to vote the annexation of the island; and Cato, of all men, was prevailed on by the mocking tribune to carry out the resolution. He was well pleased with his mission, though he wished it to appear to be forced upon him. Ptolemy poisoned himself; Cato earned the glory of adding a new province to the Empire, and did not return for two years, when he brought 7,000 talents--a million and a half of English money--to the Roman treasury.

Cicero and Cato being thus put out of the way--Caesar being absent in Gaul, and Pompey looking on without interfering--Clodius had amused himself with legislation. He gratified his corrupt friends in the Senate by again abolishing the censor's power to expel them. He restored cheap corn establishments in the city--the most demoralizing of all the measures which the democracy had introduced to swell their numbers. He re- established the political clubs, which were hot-beds of distinctive radicalism. He took away the right of separate magistrates to lay their vetoes on the votes of the sovereign people, and he took from the Senate such power as they still possessed of regulating the government of the provinces, and passed it over to the Assembly. These resolutions, which reduced the administration to a chaos, he induced the people to decree by irresistible majorities. One measure only he passed which deserved commendation, though Clodius deserved none for introducing it. He put an end to the impious pretence of "observing the heavens," of which conservative officials had availed themselves to obstruct unwelcome motions. Some means were, no doubt, necessary to check the precipitate passions of the mob; but not means which turned into mockery the slight surviving remnants of ancient Roman reverence.

In general politics the young tribune had no definite predilections. He had threatened at one time to repeal Caesar's laws himself. He attacked alternately the chiefs of the army and of the Senate, and the people let him do what he pleased without withdrawing their confidence from him. He went everywhere spreading terror with his body-guard of slaves. He quarrelled with the consuls, beat their lictors, and wounded Gabinius himself. Pompey professed to be in alarm for his life, and to be unable to appear in the streets. The state of Rome at this time has been well described by a modern historian as a "Walpurgis dance of political witches." 3

Clodius was a licensed libertine; but license has its limits. He had been useful so far; but a rein was wanted for him, and Pompey decided at last that Cicero might now be recalled. Clodius's term of office ran out. The tribunes for the new year were well disposed to Cicero. The new consuls were Lentulus, a moderate aristocrat, and Cicero's personal friend, and Metellus Nepos, who would do what Pompey told him. Caesar had been consulted by letter and had given his assent. Cicero, it might be thought, had learnt his lesson, and there was no desire of protracting his penance. There were still difficulties, however. Cicero, smarting from wrath and mortification, was more angry with the aristocrats, who had deserted him, than with his open enemies. His most intimate companions, he bitterly said, had been false to him. He was looking regretfully on Caesar's offers, 4 and cursing his folly for having rejected them. The people, too, would not sacrifice their convictions at the first bidding for the convenience of their leaders; and had neither forgotten nor forgiven the killing of the Catiline conspirators; while Cicero, aware of the efforts which were being made, had looked for new allies in an imprudent quarter. His chosen friend on the conservative side was now Annius Milo, one of the new tribunes, a man as disreputable as Clodius himself; deep in debt and looking for a province to indemnify himself--famous hitherto in the schools of gladiators, in whose arts he was a proficient, and whose services were at his disposal for any lawless purpose.

[B.C. 57.] A decree of banishment could only be recalled by the people who had pronounced it. Clodius, though no longer in office, was still the idol of the mob; and two of the tribunes, who were at first well inclined to Cicero, had been gained over by him. As early as possible, on the first day of the new year, Lentulus Spinther brought Cicero's case before the Senate. A tribune reminded him of a clause, attached to the sentence of exile, that no citizen should in future move for its repeal. The Senate hesitated, perhaps catching at the excuse; but at length, after repeated adjournments, they voted that the question should be proposed to the Assembly. The day fixed was the 25th of January. In anticipation of a riot the temples on the Forum were occupied with guards. The Forum itself and the senate-house were in possession of Clodius and his gang. Clodius maintained that the proposal to be submitted to the people was itself illegal, and ought to be resisted by force. Fabricius, one of the tribunes, had been selected to introduce it. When Fabricius presented himself on the Rostra, there was a general rush to throw him down. The Forum was in theory still a sacred spot, where the carrying of arms was forbidden; but the new age had forgotten such obsolete superstitions. The guards issued out of the temples with drawn swords. The people were desperate and determined. Hundreds were killed on both sides; Quintus Cicero, who was present for his brother, narrowly escaping with life. The Tiber, Cicero says--perhaps with some exaggeration--was covered with floating bodies; the sewers were choked; the bloody area of the Forum had to be washed with sponges. Such a day had not been seen in Rome since the fight between Cinna and Octavius. 5 The mob remained masters of the field, and Cicero's cause had to wait for better times. Milo had been active in the combat, and Clodius led his victorious bands to Milo's house to destroy it. Milo brought an action against him for violence; but Clodius was charmed even against forms of law. There was no censor as yet chosen, and without a censor the praetors pretended that they could not entertain the prosecution. Finding law powerless, Milo imitated his antagonist. He, too, had his band of gladiators about him; and the streets of the Capital were entertained daily by fights between the factions of Clodius and Milo. The Commonwealth of the Scipios, the laws and institutions of the mistress of the civilized world, had become the football of ruffians. Time and reflection brought some repentance at last. Toward the summer "the cause of order" rallied. The consuls and Pompey exerted themselves to reconcile the more respectable citizens to Cicero's return; and, with the ground better prepared, the attempt was renewed with more success. In July the recall was again proposed in the Senate, and Clodius was alone in opposing it. When it was laid before the Assembly, Clodius made another effort; but voters had been brought up from other parts of Italy who outnumbered the city rabble; Milo and his gladiators were in force to prevent another burst of violence; and the great orator and statesman was given back to his country. Sixteen months he had been lamenting himself in Greece, bewailing his personal ill-treatment. He was the single object of his own reflections. In his own most sincere convictions he was the centre on which the destinies of Rome revolved. He landed at Brindisi on the 5th of August. His pardon had not yet been decreed, though he knew that it was coming. The happy news arrived in a day or two, and he set out in triumph for Rome. The citizens of Brindisi paid him their compliments; deputations came to congratulate from all parts of Italy. Outside the city every man of note of all the orders, save a few of his declared enemies, were waiting to receive him. The roofs and steps of the temples were thronged with spectators. Crowds attended him to the Capitol, where he went to pour out his gratitude to the gods, and welcomed him home with shouts of applause.

Had he been wise he would have seen that the rejoicing was from the lips outward; that fine words were not gold; that Rome and its factions were just where he had left them, or had descended one step lower. But Cicero was credulous of flattery when it echoed his own opinions about himself. The citizens, he persuaded himself, were penitent for their ingratitude to the most illustrious of their countrymen. The acclamations filled him with the delighted belief that he was to resume his place at the head of the State; and, as he could not forgive his disgrace, his first object in the midst of his triumph was to revenge himself on those who had caused it. Speeches of acknowledgment he had naturally to make both to the Senate and the Assembly. In addressing the people he was moderately prudent; he glanced at the treachery of his friends, but he did not make too much of it. He praised his own good qualities, but not extravagantly. He described Pompey as "the wisest, best, and greatest of all men that had been, were, or ever would be." Himself he compared to Marius returning also from undeserved exile, and he delicately spoke in honor of a name most dear to the Roman plebs, But he, he said, unlike Marius, had no enemies but the enemies of his country. He had no retaliation to demand for his own wrongs. If he punished bad citizens, it would be by doing well himself; if he punished false friends, it would be by never again trusting them. His first and his last object would be to show his gratitude to his fellow- citizens. 6

Such language was rational and moderate. He understood his audience, and he kept his tongue under a bridle. But his heart was burning in him; and what he could not say in the Forum he thought he might venture on with impunity in the Senate, which might be called his own dunghill. His chief wrath was at the late consuls. They were both powerful men. Gabinius was Pompey's chief supporter. Calpurnius Piso was Caesar's father-in-law. Both had been named to the government of important provinces; and, if authority was not to be brought into contempt, they deserved at least a show of outward respect. Cicero lived to desire their friendship, to affect a value for them, and to regret his violence; but they had consented to his exile; and careless of decency, and oblivious of the chances of the future, he used his opportunity to burst out upon them in language in which the foulest ruffian in the streets would have scarcely spoken of the first magistrates of the Republic. Piso and Gabinius, he said, were thieves, not consuls. They had been friends of Catiline, and had been enemies to himself, because he had baffled the conspiracy. Piso could not pardon the death of Cethegus. Gabinius regretted in Catiline himself the loss of his lover. 7 Gabinius, he said, had been licentious in his youth; he had ruined his fortune; he had supplied his extravagance by pimping; and had escaped his creditors only by becoming tribune. "Behold him," Cicero said, "as he appeared when consul at a meeting called by the arch-thief Clodius, full of wine, and sleep, and fornication, his hair moist, his eyes heavy, his cheeks flaccid, and declaring, with a voice thick with drink, that he disapproved of putting citizens to death without trial." 8 As to Piso, his best recommendation was a cunning gravity of demeanor, concealing mere vacuity. Piso knew nothing--neither law, nor rhetoric, nor war, nor his fellow-men. "His face was the face of some half-human brute." "He was like a negro, a thing [negotium] without sense or savor, a Cappadocian picked out of a drove in the slave-market." 9

Cicero was not taking the best means to regain his influence in the Senate by stooping to vulgar brutality. He cannot be excused by the manners of the age; his violence was the violence of a fluent orator whose temper ran away with him, and who never resisted the temptation to insult an opponent. It did not answer with him; he thought he was to be chief of the Senate, and the most honored person in the State again; he found that he had been allowed to return only to be surrounded by mosquitoes whose delight was to sting him, while the Senate listened with indifference or secret amusement. He had been promised the restoration of his property; but he had a suit to prosecute before he could get it. Clodius had thought to make sure of his Roman palace by dedicating it to "Liberty." Cicero challenged the consecration. It was referred to the College of Priests, and the College returned a judgment in Cicero's favor. The Senate voted for the restoration. They voted sums for the rebuilding both of the palace on the Palatine Hill and of the other villas, at the public expense. But the grant in Cicero's opinion was a stingy one. He saw too painfully that those "who had clipped his wings did not mean them to grow again." 10 Milo and his gladiators were not sufficient support, and if he meant to recover his old power he found that he must look for stronger allies. Pompey had not used him well; Pompey had promised to defend him from Clodius, and Pompey had left him to his fate. But by going with Pompey he could at least gall the Senate. An opportunity offered, and he caught at it. There was a corn famine in Rome. Clodius had promised the people cheap bread, but there was no bread to be had. The hungry mob howled about the senate-house, threatening fire and massacre. The great capitalists and contractors were believed to be at their old work. There was a cry, as in the "pirate" days, for some strong man to see to them and their misdoings. Pompey was needed again. He had been too much forgotten, and with Cicero's help a decree was carried which gave Pompey control over the whole corn trade of the Empire for five years.

This was something, and Pompey was gratified; but without an army Pompey could do little against the roughs in the streets, and Cicero's house became the next battle-ground. The Senate had voted it to its owner again, and the masons and carpenters were set to work; but the sovereign people had not been consulted. Clodius was now but a private citizen; but private citizens might resist sacrilege if the magistrates forgot their duty. He marched to the Palatine with his gang. He drove out the workmen, broke down the walls, and wrecked the adjoining house, which belonged to Cicero's brother Quintus. The next day he set on Cicero himself in the Via Sacra, and nearly murdered him, and he afterward tried to burn the house of Milo. Consuls and tribunes did not interfere. They were, perhaps, frightened. The Senate professed regret, and it was proposed to prosecute Clodius; but his friends were too strong, and it could not be done. Could Cicero have wrung his neck, as he had wrung the necks of Lentulus and Cethegus, Rome and he would have had a good deliverance. Failing this, he might wisely have waited for the law, which in time must have helped him. But he let himself down to Clodius's level. He railed at him in the Curia as he had railed at Gabinius and Piso. He ran over his history; he taunted him with incest with his sister, and with filthy relations with vulgar millionaires. He accused him of having sold himself to Catiline, of having forged wills, murdered the heirs of estates and stolen their property, of having murdered officers of the treasury and seized the public money, of having outraged gods and men, decency, equity, and law; of having suffered every abomination and committed every crime of which human nature was capable. So Cicero spoke in Clodius's own hearing and in the hearing of his friends. It never occurred to him that if half these crimes could be proved, a commonwealth in which such a monster could rise to consequence was not a commonwealth at all, but a frightful mockery which he and every honest man were called on to abhor. Instead of scolding and flinging impotent filth, he should have withdrawn out of public life when he could only remain in it among such companions, or should have attached himself with all his soul to those who had will and power to mend it.

Clodius was at this moment the popular candidate for the aedileship, the second step on the road to the consulship. He was the favorite of the mob. He was supported by his brother Appius Claudius, the praetor, and the clientèle of the great Claudian family; and Cicero's denunciations of him had not affected in the least his chances of success. If Clodius was to be defeated, other means were needed than a statement in the Senate that the aspirant to public honors was a wretch unfit to live. The election was fixed for the 18th of November, and was to be held in the Campus Martius. Milo and his gladiators took possession of the polling- place in the night, and the votes could not be taken. The Assembly met the next day in the Forum, but was broken up by violence, and Clodius had still to wait. The political witch-dance was at its height and Cicero was in his glory. "The elections," he wrote to Atticus, "will not, I think, be held; and Clodius will be prosecuted by Milo unless he is first killed. Milo will kill him if he falls in with him. He is not afraid to do it, and he says openly that he will do it. He is not frightened at the misfortune which fell on me. He is not the man to listen to traitorous friends or to trust indolent patricians." 11

With recovered spirits the Senate began again to attack the laws of Caesar and Clodius as irregular; but they were met with the difficulty which Clodius had provided. Cato had come back from Cyprus, delighted with his exploit and with himself, and bringing a ship-load of money with him for the public treasury. If the laws were invalidated by the disregard of Bibulus and the signs of the sky, then the Cyprus mission had been invalid also, and Cato's fine performance void. Caesar's grand victories, the news of which was now coming in, made it inopportune to press the matter farther; and just then another subject rose, on which the optimates ran off like hounds upon a fresh scent.

Ptolemy of Cyprus had been disposed of. Ptolemy Auletes had been preserved on the throne of Egypt by subsidies to the chiefs of the Senate. But his subjects had been hardly taxed to raise the money. The Cyprus affair had further exasperated them, and when Ptolemy laid on fresh impositions the Alexandrians mutinied and drove him out. His misfortunes being due to his friends at Rome, he came thither to beg the Romans to replace him. The Senate agreed unanimously that he must be restored to his throne. But then the question rose, who should be the happy person who was to be the instrument of his reinstatement? Alexandria was rich. An enormous fine could be exacted for the rebellion, besides what might be demanded from Ptolemy's gratitude. No prize so splendid had yet been offered to Roman avarice, and the patricians quarrelled over it like jackals over a bone. Lentulus Spinther, the late consul, was now Governor of Cilicia; Gabinius was Governor of Syria; and each of these had their advocates. Cicero and the respectable conservatives were for Spinther; Pompey was for Gabinius. Others wished Pompey himself to go; others wished for Crassus.

[B.C. 56.] Meanwhile, the poor Egyptians themselves claimed a right to be heard in protest against the reimposition upon them of a sovereign who had made himself abhorred. Why was Ptolemy to be forced on them? A hundred of the principal Alexandrians came to Italy with a remonstrance; and had they brought money with them they might have had a respectful hearing. But they had brought none or not enough, and Ptolemy, secure of his patrons' support, hired a party of banditti, who set on the deputation when it landed, and killed the greater part of its members. Dion, the leader of the embassy, escaped for a time. There was still a small party among the aristocracy (Cato and Cato's followers) who had a conscience in such things; and Favonius, one of them, took up Dion's cause. Envoys and allied sovereigns or provinces, he said, were continually being murdered. Noble lords received hush-money, and there had been no inquiry. Such things happened too often, and ought to be stopped. The Senate voted decently to send for Dion and examine him. But Favonius was privately laughed at as "Cato's ape;" the unfortunate Dion was made away with, and Pompey took Ptolemy into his own house and openly entertained him there. Pompey would himself perhaps have undertaken the restoration, but the Senate was jealous. His own future was growing uncertain; and eventually, without asking for a consent which the Senate would have refused to give, he sent his guest to Syria with a charge to his friend Gabinius to take him back on his own responsibility. 12

The killing of envoys and the taking of hush-money by senators were, as Favonius had said, too common to attract much notice; but the affair of Ptolemy, like that of Jugurtha, had obtained an infamous notoriety. The Senate was execrated. Pompey himself fell in public esteem. His overseership of the granaries had as yet brought in no corn. He had been too busy over the Egyptian matter to attend to it. Clearly enough there would now have been a revolution in Rome, but for the physical force of the upper classes with their bands of slaves and clients.

The year of Milo's tribunate being over, Clodius was chosen aedile without further trouble; and, instead of being the victim of a prosecution, he at once impeached Milo for the interruption of the Comitia on the 18th of November. Milo appeared to answer on the 2d of February; but there was another riot, and the meeting was broken up. On the 6th the court was again held. The crowd was enormous. Cicero happily has left a minute account of the scene. The people were starving, the corn question was pressing. Milo presented himself, and Pompey came forward on the Rostra to speak. He was received with howls and curses from Clodius's hired ruffians, and his voice could not be heard for the noise. Pompey held on undaunted, and commanded occasional silence by the weight of his presence. Clodius rose when Pompey had done, and rival yells went up from the Milonians. Yells were not enough; filthy verses were sung in chorus about Clodius and Clodia, ribald bestiality, delightful to the ears of "Tully." Clodius, pale with anger, called out, "Who is murdering the people with famine?" A thousand throats answered, "Pompey!" "Who wants to go to Alexandria?" "Pompey!" they shouted again. "And whom do you want to go?" "Crassus!" they cried. Passion had risen too high for words. The Clodians began to spit on the Milonians. The Milonians drew swords and cut the heads of the Clodians. The working men, being unarmed, got the worst of the conflict; and Clodius was flung from the Rostra. The Senate was summoned to call Pompey to account. Cicero went off home, wishing to defend Pompey, but wishing also not to offend the "good" party, who were clamorous against him. That evening nothing could be done. Two days after the Senate met again; Cato abused Pompey, and praised Cicero much against Cicero's will, who was anxious to stand well with Pompey. Pompey accused Cato and Crassus of a conspiracy to murder him. In fact, as Cicero said, Pompey had just then no friend in any party. The mob was estranged from him, the noble lords hated him, the Senate did not like him, the patrician youth insulted him, and he was driven to bring up friends from the country to protect his life. All sides were mustering their forces in view of an impending fight. 13

It would be wasted labor to trace minutely the particulars of so miserable a scene, or the motives of the principal actors in it--Pompey, bound to Caesar by engagement and conviction, yet jealous of his growing fame, without political conviction of his own, and only conscious that his weight in the State no longer corresponded to his own estimate of his merits--Clodius at the head of the starving mob, representing mere anarchy, and nourishing an implacable hate against Cicero--Cicero, anxious for his own safety, knowing now that he had made enemies of half the Senate, watching how the balance of factions would go, and dimly conscious that the sword would have to decide it, clinging, therefore, to Pompey, whose military abilities his civilian ignorance considered supereminent-- Cato, a virtuous fanatic, narrow, passionate, with a vein of vanity, regarding all ways as wrong but his own, and thinking all men who would not walk as he prescribed wicked as well as mistaken--the rest of the aristocracy scuffling for the plunder of Egypt, or engaged in other enterprises not more creditable--the streets given over to the factions-- the elections the alternate prize of bribery or violence, and consulates and praetorships falling to men more than half of whom, if Cicero can be but moderately believed, deserved to be crucified. Cicero's main affection was for Titus Annius Milo, to whom he clung as a woman will cling to a man whose strength she hopes will support her weakness. Milo, at least, would revenge his wrongs upon Clodius. Clodius, Cicero said even in the Senate, was Milo's predestined victim. 14 Titus Annius knew how an armed citizen who burnt temples and honest men's houses ought to be dealt with. Titus Annius was born to extinguish that pest of the Commonwealth. 15

Still smarting over his exile, Cicero went one day with Milo and his gladiators to the Capitol when Clodius was absent, and carried off the brass tablet on which the decree of his exile had been engraved. It was some solace to his poor vanity to destroy the record of his misfortune. But it was in vain. All was going wrong. Caesar's growing glories came thick to trouble his peace. He, after all, then, was not to be the greatest man in Rome. How would these splendid successes affect parties? How would they affect Pompey? How would, they affect the Senate? What should he do himself?

The Senate distrusted him; the people distrusted him. In his perplexity he tried to rouse the aristocracy to a sense of their danger, and hinted that his was the name which yet might save them.

Sextius, who had been a tribune with Milo in the past year, was under prosecution for one of the innumerable acts of violence which had disgraced the city. Cicero defended him, and spoke at length on the state of affairs as he wished the world to believe that he regarded it.

"In the Commonwealth," he said, "there have always been two parties--the populares and the optimates. The populares say and do what will please the mob. The optimates say and do what will please the best men. And who are the best men? They are of all ranks and infinite in number--senators, municipals, farmers, men of business, even libertini. The type is distinct. They are the well-to-do, the sound, the honest, who do no wrong to any man. The object at which they aim is quiet with honor. 16 They are the conservatives of the State. Religion and good government, the Senate's authority, the laws and customs of our ancestors, public faith, integrity, sound administration--these are the principles on which they rest, and these they will maintain with their lives. Their path is perilous. The foes of the State are stronger than its defenders; they are bold and desperate, and go with a will to the work of destruction; while the good, I know not why, are languid, and will not rouse themselves unless compelled. They would have quiet without honor, and so lose both quiet and honor. Some are triflers, some are timid, only a few stand firm. But it is not now as it was in the days of the Gracchi. There have been great reforms. The people are conservative at heart; the demagogues cannot rouse them, and are forced to pack the Assembly with hired gangs. Take away these gangs, stop corruption at the elections, and we shall be all of one mind. The people will be on our side. The citizens of Rome are not populares. They hate the populares, and prefer honorable men. How did they weep in the theatres where they heard the news that I was exiled! How did they cheer my name! 'Tully, the preserver of our liberties!' was repeated a thousand times. Attend to me," he said, turning paternally to the high- born youths who were listening to him, "attend to me when I bid you walk in the ways of your forefathers. Would you have praise and honor, would you have the esteem of the wise and good, value the constitution under which you live. Our ancestors, impatient of kings, appointed annual magistrates, and for the administration they nominated a Senate chosen from the whole people into which the road is open for the poorest citizen." 17

So Cicero, trying to persuade others, and perhaps half persuading himself, that all might yet be well, and that the Roman Constitution would roll on upon its old lines in the face of the scandal of Ptolemy and the greater scandals of Clodius and Milo.

Cicero might make speeches; but events followed their inexorable course. The patricians had forgotten nothing and had learnt nothing. The Senate had voted thanksgivings for Caesar's victories; but in their hearts they hated him more for them, because they feared him more. Milo and his gladiators gave them courage. The bitterest of the aristocrats, Domitius Ahenobarbus, Cato's brother-in-law and praetor for the year, was a candidate for the consulship. His enormous wealth made his success almost certain, and he announced in the Senate that he meant to recall Caesar and repeal his laws. In April a motion was introduced in the Senate to revise Caesar's land act. Suspicions had gone abroad that Cicero believed Caesar's star to be in the ascendant, and that he was again wavering. To clear himself he spoke as passionately as Domitius could himself have wished, and declared that he honored more the resistance of Bibulus than all the triumphs in the world. It was time to come to an end with these gentlemen. Pompey was deeply committed to Caesar's agrarian law, for it had been passed primarily to provide for his own disbanded soldiers. He was the only man in Rome who retained any real authority; and touched, as for a moment he might have been, with jealousy, he felt that honor, duty, every principle of prudence or patriotism, required him at so perilous a crisis to give Caesar his firm support. Clodius was made in some way to understand that, if he intended to retain his influence, he must conform to the wishes of the army. His brother, Appius, crossed the Alps to see Caesar himself; and Caesar, after the troops were in their winter quarters, came over to the north of Italy. Here an interview was arranged between the chiefs of the popular party. The place of meeting was Lucca, on the frontier of Caesar's province. Pompey, who had gone upon a tour along the coast and through the Mediterranean islands on his corn business, attended without concealment or mystery. Crassus was present, and more than a hundred senators. The talking power of the State was in Rome. The practical and real power was in the Lucca conference. Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus were irresistible when heartily united, and a complete scheme was arranged between them for the government of the Empire. There was to be no Domitius Ahenobarbus for a consul, or aristocratic coups d'état. Pompey and Crassus were to be consuls for the ensuing year. The consulship over, Pompey was to have Spain for a province for five years, with an adequate army. Crassus, who was ambitious also of military distinction, was to have Syria. Caesar's command in Gaul was to be extended for five years further in addition to his present term. The consent of the Assembly was to be secured, if difficulty arose, by the votes of the army. The elections being in the winter, Caesar's soldiers were to be allowed to go to Rome on furlough.

In a personal interview Caesar easily asserted his ascendency. Pompey allowed himself to be guided, and the arrangement was probably dictated by Caesar's own prudence. He did not mean to leave Gaul half conquered, to see his work undone, and himself made into a plaything by men who had incited Ariovistus to destroy him. The senators who were present at Lucca implied by their co-operation that they too were weary of anarchy, and would sustain the army in a remodelling of the State if milder measures failed.

Thus, for the moment, Domitius and Cato were baffled. Domitius was not to be consul. Caesar was not to be recalled, or his laws repealed. There was no hope for them or for the reaction, till Pompey and Caesar could be divided; and their alliance was closer now than ever. The aristocratic party could but chafe in impotent rage. The effect on Cicero was curious. He had expected that the conservative movement would succeed, and he had humiliated himself before the Senate, in the idle hope of winning back their favor. The conference at Lucca opened his eyes. For a time at least he perceived that Caesar's was the winning side, and he excused himself for going over to it by laying the blame on the Senate's folly and ingratitude to himself. Some private correspondence preceded his change of sides. He consulted Atticus, and had received characteristic and cautious advice from him. He described in reply his internal struggles, the resolution at which he had arrived, and the conclusion which he had formed upon his own past conduct.

"I am chewing what I have to swallow," he said. "Recantation does not seem very creditable; but adieu to straightforward, honest counsels. You would not believe the perfidy of these chiefs; as they wish to be, and what they might be if they had any faith in them. I had felt, I had known, that I was being led on by them, and then deserted and cast off; and yet I thought of making common cause with them. They were the same which they had always been. You made me see the truth at last. You will say you warned me. You advised what I should do, and you told me not to write to Caesar. By Hercules! I wished to put myself in a position where I should be obliged to enter into this new coalition, and where it would not be possible for me, even if I desired it, to go with those who ought to pity me, and, instead of pity, give me grudging and envy. I have been moderate in what I have written. I shall be more full if Caesar meets me graciously; and then those gentlemen who are so jealous that I should have a decent house to live in will make a wry face.... Enough of this. Since those who have no power will not be my friends, I must endeavor to make friends with those who have. You will say you wished this long ago. I know that you wished it, and that I have been a mere ass; 18 but it is time for me to be loved by myself, since I can get no love from them." 19

Pompey, after leaving Lucca, sent Cicero a message, through his brother, complaining of his speech on the land act, but assuring him of his own and Caesar's friendship if he would now be true to them. In an apologetic letter to Lentulus Spinther, Cicero explained and justified what he meant to do.

"Pompey," he said, "did not let me know that he was offended. He went off to Sardinia, and on his way saw Caesar at Lucca. Caesar was angry with me; he had seen Crassus, and Crassus had prejudiced him. Pompey, too, was himself displeased. He met my brother a few days after, and told him to use his influence with me. He reminded him of his exertions in my behalf; he swore that those exertions had been made with Caesar's consent, and he begged particularly that, if I could not support Caesar, I would not go against him. I reflected. I debated the matter as if with the Commonwealth. I had suffered much and done much for the Commonwealth. I had now to think of myself. I had been a good citizen; I must now be a good man. Expressions came round to me that had been used by certain persons whom even you do not like. They were delighted to think that I had offended Pompey, and had made Caesar my mortal enemy. This was annoying enough. But the same persons embraced and kissed even in my presence my worst foe--the foe of law, order, peace, country, and every good man 20.... They meant to irritate me, but I had not spirit to be angry. I surveyed my situation. I cast up my accounts; and I came to a conclusion, which was briefly this. If the State was in the hands of bad men, as in my time I have known it to be, I would not join them though they loaded me with favors; but when the first person in the Commonwealth was Pompey, whose services had been so eminent, whose advancement I had myself furthered, and who stood by me in my difficulties, I was not inconsistent if I modified some of my opinions, and conformed to the wishes of one who has deserved so well of me. If I went with Pompey, I must go with Caesar too; and here the old friendship came to bear between Caesar, my brother, and myself, as well as Caesar's kindness to me, of which I had seen evidence in word and deed.... Public interest, too, moved me. A quarrel with these men would be most inexpedient, especially after what Caesar has done.... If the persons who assisted in bringing me back had been my friends afterward, they would have recovered their power when they had me to help them. The 'good' had gained heart when you were consul. Pompey was then won to the 'good' cause. Even Caesar, after being decorated by the Senate for his victories, might have been brought to a better judgment, and wicked citizens would have had no opening to make disturbances. But what happened? These very men protected Clodius, who cared no more for the Bona Dea than for the Three Sisters. They allowed my monument to be engraved with a hostile record.... 21 The good party are not as you left them. Those who ought to have been staunch have fallen away. You see it in their faces. You see it in the words and votes of those whom we called 'optimates;' so that wise citizens, one of whom I wish to be and to be thought, must change their course. 'Persuade your countrymen, if you can,' said Plato; 'but use no violence.' Plato found that he could no longer persuade the Athenians, and therefore he withdrew from public life. Advice could not move them, and he held force to be unlawful. My case was different. I was not called on to undertake public responsibilities. I was content to further my own interests, and to defend honest men's causes. Caesar's goodness to me and to my brother would have bound me to him whatever had been his fortunes. Now after so much glory and victory I should speak nobly of him though I owed him nothing." 22

Happy it would have been for Cicero, and happy for Rome, had he persevered in the course which he now seemed really to have chosen. Cicero and Caesar united might have restored the authority of the laws, punished corruption and misgovernment, made their country the mother as well as the mistress of the world; and the Republic, modified to suit the change of times, might have survived for many generations. But under such a modification, Cicero would have no longer been the first person in the Commonwealth. The talkers would have ceased to rule, and Cicero was a talker only. He could not bear to be subordinate. He was persuaded that he, and not Caesar, was the world's real great man; and so he held on, leaning now to one faction and now to another, waiting for the chance which was to put him at last in his true place. For the moment, however, he saved himself from the degradation into which the Senate precipitated itself. The arrangements at Lucca were the work of the army. The conservative majority refused to let the army dictate to them. Domitius intended still to be consul, let the army say what it pleased. Pompey and Crassus returned to Rome for the elections; the consuls for the year, Marcellinus and Philip, declined to take their names. The consuls and the Senate appealed to the Assembly, the Senate marching into the Forum in state, as if calling on the genius of the nation to defend the outraged constitution. In vain. The people would not listen. The consuls were groaned down. No genius of Rome presided in those meetings, but the genius of revolution in the person of Clodius. The senators were driven back into the Curia, and Clodius followed them there. The officers forbade his entrance. Furious young aristocrats flew upon him, seized him, and would have murdered him in their rage. Clodius shrieked for help. His rascal followers rushed in with lighted torches, swearing to burn house and Senate if a hair of Clodius's head were hurt. They bore their idol off in triumph; and the wretched senators sat gazing at each other, or storming at Pompey, and inquiring scornfully if he and Crassus intended to appoint themselves consuls. Pompey answered that they had no desire for office, but anarchy must be brought to an end.

Still the consuls of the year stubbornly refused to take the names of the Lucca nominees. The year ran out, and no election had been held. In such a difficulty, the constitution had provided for the appointment of an Interrex till fresh consuls could be chosen. Pompey and Crassus were then nominated, with a foregone conclusion. Domitius still persisted in standing; and, had it been safe to try the usual methods, the patricians would have occupied the voting-places as before with their retinues, and returned him by force. But young Publius Crassus was in Rome with thousands of Caesar's soldiers, who had come up to vote from the north of Italy. With these it was not safe to venture on a conflict, and the consulships fell as the Lucca conference had ordered.

[B.C. 55.] The consent of the Assembly to the other arrangements remained to be obtained. Caesar was to have five additional years in Gaul; Pompey and Crassus were to have Spain and Syria, also for five years each, as soon as their year of office should be over. The defenders of the constitution fought to the last. Cato foamed on the Rostra. When the two hours allowed him to speak were expired, he refused to sit down, and was removed by a guard. The meeting was adjourned to the next day. Publius Gallus, another irreconcilable, passed the night in the senate-house, that he might be in his place at dawn. Cato and Favonius were again at their posts. The familiar cry was raised that the signs of the sky were unfavorable. The excuse had ceased to be legal. The tribunes ordered the voting to go forward. The last resource was then tried. A riot began, but to no purpose. The aristocrats and their clients were beaten back, and the several commands were ratified. As the people were dispersing, their opponents rallied back, filled the Forum, and were voting Caesar's recall, when Pompey came on them and swept them out. Gallus was carried off covered with blood; and, to prevent further question, the vote for Caesar was taken a second time.

The immediate future was thus assured. Time had been obtained for the completion of the work in Gaul. Pompey dedicated a new theatre, and delighted the mob with games and races. Five hundred lions were consumed in five days of combat. As a special novelty eighteen elephants were made to fight with soldiers; and, as a yet more extraordinary phenomenon, the sanguinary Roman spectators showed signs of compunction at their sufferings. The poor beasts were quiet and harmless. When wounded with the lances, they turned away, threw up their trunks, and trotted round the circus, crying, as if in protest against wanton cruelty. The story went that they were half human; that they had been seduced on board the African transports by a promise that they should not be ill-used, and they were supposed to be appealing to the gods. 23Cicero alludes to the scene in a letter to one of his friends. Mentioning Pompey's exhibitions with evident contempt, he adds: "There remained the hunts, which lasted five days. All say that they were very fine. But what pleasure can a sensible person find in seeing a clumsy performer torn by a wild beast, or a noble animal pierced with a hunting-spear? The last day was given to the elephants; not interesting to me, however delightful to the rabble. A certain pity was felt for them, as if the elephants had some affinity with man." 24

[1] To Atticus, ii. 16.

[2] "Conservatores Reipublicae."--Pro Sextio.

[3] Mommsen.

[4] "Omnia sunt meâ culpâ commissa, qui ab his me amari putabam qui invidebant: eos non sequebar qui petebant."--Ad Familiares, xiv. 1. "Nullum est meum peccatum nisi quod iis credidi a quibus nefas putabam esse me decipi.... Intimus proximus familiarissimus quisque aut sibi pertimuit aut mihi invidit."--Ad Quintum Fratrem, i. 4.

[5] "Meministis tum, judices, corporibus civium Tiberim compleri, cloacas referciri, e foro spongiis effingi sanguinem.... Caedem tantam, tantos acervos corporum extruetos, nisi forte illo Cinnano atque Octaviano die, quis unquam in foro vidit?"--Oratio prov P. Sextio, xxxv. 36.

[6] Ad Quirites post Reditum.

[7] "Ejus vir Catilina."

[8] "Cum in Circo Flaminio non a tribuno plebis consul in concionem sed a latrone archipirata productus esset, primum processit quâ auctoritate vir. Vini, somni, stupri plenus, madenti comâ, gravibus oculis, fluentibus buccis, pressa voce et temulenta, quod in cives indemnatos esset animadversum, id sibi dixit gravis auctor vehementissime displicere."--Post Reditum in Senatu, 6.

[9] Cicero could never leave Gabinius and Piso alone. Again and again he returned upon them railing like a fishwife. In his oration for Sextius he scoffed at Gabinius's pomatum and curled hair, and taunted him with unmentionable sins; but he specially entertained himself with his description of Piso:

"For Piso!" he said: "O gods, how unwashed, how stern he looked--a pillar of antiquity, like one of the old bearded consuls; his dress plain plebeian purple, his hair tangled, his brow a very pledge for the Commonwealth! Such solemnity in his eye, such wrinkling of his forehead, that you would have said the State was resting on his head like the sky on Atlas. Here we thought we had a refuge. Here was the man to oppose the filth of Gabinius; his very face would be enough. People congratulated us on having one friend to save us from the tribune. Alas! I was deceived," etc. etc.

Piso afterward called Cicero to account in the Senate, and brought out a still more choice explosion of invectives. Beast, filth, polluted monster, and such like, were the lightest of the names which Cicero hurled back at one of the oldest members of the Roman aristocracy. A single specimen may serve to illustrate the cataract of nastiness which he poured alike on Piso and Clodius and Gabinius: "When all the good were hiding themselves in tears," he said to Piso, "when the temples were groaning and the very houses in the city were mourning (over my exile), you, heartless madman that you are, took up the cause of that pernicious animal, that clotted mass of incests and civil blood, of villanies intended and impurity of crimes committed [he was alluding to Clodius, who was in the Senate probably listening to him]. Need I speak of your feasting, your laughter, and handshakings--your drunken orgies with the filthy companions of your potations? Who in those days saw you ever sober, or doing anything that a citizen need not be ashamed of? While your colleague's house was sounding with songs and cymbals, and he himself was dancing naked at a supper-party ["cumque ipse nudus in convivio saltaret,"] you, you coarse glutton, with less taste for music, were lying in a stew of Greek boys and wine in a feast of the Centaurs and Lapithae, where one cannot say whether you drank most, or vomited most, or spilt most."--In L. Pisonem,10. The manners of the times do not excuse language of this kind, for there was probably not another member of the Senate who indulged in it. If Cicero was disliked and despised, he had his own tongue to thank for it.

[10] To Atticus, iv. 2.

[11] To Atticus, iv. 3.

[12] For the details of this story see Dion Cassius, lib. xxxix. capp. 12-16. Compare Cicero ad Familiares, lib. i. Epist. 1-2. Curious subterranean influences seem to have been at work to save the Senate from the infamy of restoring Ptolemy. Verses were discovered in the Sibylline Books directing that if an Egyptian king came to Rome as a suppliant, he was to be entertained hospitably, but was to have no active help. Perhaps Cicero was concerned in this.

[13] Ad Quintum Fratrem, ii. 3.

[14] "Tito Annio devota et constituta hostia esse videtur."--De Haruspicum responsis.

[15] Ibid.

[16] "Otium cum dignitate."

[17] Abridged from the Oratio pro Sextio.

[18] "Me germanum asinum fuisse." Perhaps "own brother to an ass" would be a more proper rendering.

[19] To Atticus, iv. 5.

[20] Clodius.

[21] Here follows much about himself and his own merits.

[22] To Lentulus Spinther, Ad Familiares, i. 9. The length of this remarkable letter obliges me to give but an imperfect summary of it. The letter itself should be studied carefully by those who would understand Cicero's conduct.

[23] Dion Cassius.

[24] Ad Familiares, vii. 1.

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