Caesar, however, encompassed and protected by the friendship of Crassus and Pompey, entered the canvass for the consulship; and as soon as he had been triumphantly elected, along with Calpurnius Bibulus, and had entered upon his office,1
he proposed laws which were becoming, not for a consul, but for a most radical tribune of the people; for to gratify the multitude he introduced sundry allotments and distributions of land.
In the senate the opposition of men of the better sort gave him the pretext which he had long desired, and crying with loud adjurations that he was driven forth into the popular assembly against his wishes, and was compelled to court its favour by the insolence and obstinacy of the senate, he hastened before it, and stationing Crassus on one side of him and Pompey on the other, he asked them if they approved his laws.
They declared that they did approve them, whereupon he urged them to give him their aid against those who threatened to oppose him with swords. They promised him such aid, and Pompey actually added that he would come up against swords with sword and buckler too. At this impulsive and mad speech, unworthy of the high esteem in which Pompey stood and unbecoming to the respect which was due to the senate, the nobility were distressed but the populace were delighted.
Moreover, Caesar tried to avail himself still more of the influence of Pompey. He had a daughter, Julia, who was betrothed to Servilius Caepio. This daughter he betrothed to Pompey, and said he would give Pompey's daughter in marriage to Servilius, although she too was not unbetrothed, but had been promised to Faustus, the son of Sulla.
And a little while afterwards Caesar took Calpurnia to wife, a daughter of Piso, and got Piso made consul for the coming year, although here too Cato vehemently protested, and cried out that it was intolerable to have the supreme power prostituted by marriage alliances and to see men helping one another to powers and armies and provinces by means of women.
As for Caesar's colleague, Bibulus, since he availed nothing by obstructing Caesar's laws, but often ran the risk with Cato of being killed in the forum, he shut himself up at home for the remainder of his term of office. Pompey, however, immediately after his marriage, filled the forum with armed men and helped the people to enact Caesar's laws and give him as his consular province Gaul on both sides of the Alps for five years, together with Illyricum and four legions.
Cato, of course, tried to speak against these measures, but Caesar had him led off to prison, supposing that he would appeal to the popular tribunes; but when Cato walked off without a word and Caesar saw not only that the most influential men were displeased, but also that the populace, out of respect for Cato's virtue, were following him in silence and with downcast looks, he himself secretly asked one of the tribunes to take Cato out of arrest.
Of the other senators, only a very few used to go with Caesar to the senate; the rest, in displeasure, stayed away. Considius, a very aged senator, once told Caesar that his colleagues did not come together because they were afraid of the armed soldiers.
‘Why, then,’ said Caesar,
‘dost thou too not stay at home out of the same fear?’ To this Considius replied:
‘Because my old age makes me fearless; for the short span of life that is still left me does not require much anxious thought’
But the most disgraceful public measure of the time was thought to be the election to the tribuneship, during Caesar's consulate, of the notorious Clodius, who had trespassed upon his rights as a husband, and upon the secret nocturnal vigils. He was elected, however, for the overthrow of Cicero; and Caesar did not go forth upon his campaign until, with the help of Clodius, he had raised a successful faction against Cicero and driven him out of Italy.2