I come now to Caius Caesar, O conscript fathers; if he had not existed, which of
us could have been alive now? That most intemperate of men, Antonius, was flying
to the city,
burning with hatred, with a disposition hostile to all good men, with an army.
What was there to oppose to his audacity and wickedness? We had not as yet any
generals, or any forces. There was no public council, no liberty; our necks were
at the mercy of his nefarious cruelty; we were all preparing to have recourse to
flight, though flight itself had no escape for us.
Who was it—what god was it; who at that time gave
to the Roman people this godlike young man, who, while every means for
completing our destruction seemed open to that most pernicious citizen, rising
up on a sudden, beyond every one's hope, completed an army fit to oppose the
fury of Marcus Antonius before any one suspected that he was thinking of any
such step? Great honors were paid to Cnaeus Pompeius when he was a young man and
deservedly, for he came to the assistance of the republic but he was of a more
vigorous age and more calculated to meet the eager requirements of soldiers
seeking a general. He had also been already trained in other kinds of war. For
the cause of Sulla was not agreeable to all men. The multitude of the
proscribed, and the enormous calamities that fell on so many municipal towns
show this plainly.
But Caesar, though many
years younger, armed veterans who were now eager to rest; he has embraced that
cause which was most agreeable to the senate, to the people, to all Italy
,—in short, to gods and men.
And Pompeius came as a reinforcement to the extensive command and victorious
army of Lucius Sulla, Caesar had no one to join himself to. He of his own accord
was the author and executor of his plan of levying an army, and arraying a
defense for us. Pompeius found the whole Picene district hostile to the party of
his adversaries; but Caesar has levied an army against Antonius from men who
were Antonius's own friends, but still greater friends to liberty. It was owing
to the influence of Pompeius that Sulla was enabled to act like a king. It is by
the protection afforded us by Caesar that the tyranny of Antonius has been put
Let us then confer on Caesar a regular
military command, without which the military affairs can not be directed, the
army can not be held together, war can not he waged. Let him be made propraetor
with all the privileges which have ever been attached to that appointment. That
honor, although it is a great one for a man of his age, still is not merely of
influence as giving dignity, but it confers powers calculated to meet the
present emergency. Therefore, let us seek for honors for him which we shall not
easily find at the present day.