18. C. Julius
Caesar, C. F. C. N., the dictator, son of No. 15 and Aurelia, was born on the 12th of July, B. C. 100, in the consulship of C. Marius (VI.) and L. Valerius Flaccus, and was consequently six years younger than Pompey and Cicero.
He had nearly completed his fifty-sixth year at the time of his murder on the 15th of March, B. C. 44. Caesar was closely connected with the popular party by the marriage of his aunt Julia with the great Marius. who obtained the election of his nephew to the dignity of flamen dialis, when he was only thirteen years of age. (B. C. 87.) Marius died in the following year; and, notwithstanding the murder of his own relations by the Marian party, and the formidable forces with which Sulla was preparing to invade Italy, Caesar attached himself to the popular side, and even married, in B. C. 83, Cornelia, the daughter of L. Cinna, one of the chief opponents of Sulla.
He was then only seventeen years old, but had been already married to Cossutia, a wealthy heiress belonging to the equestrian order, to whom he had probably been betrothed by the wish of his father, who died in the preceding year. Caesar divorced Cossutia in order to marry Cinna's daughter; but such an open declaration in favour of the popular party provoked the anger of Sulla, who had returned to Rome in B. C. 82, and who now commanded him to put away Cornelia, in the same way as he ordered Pompey to divorce Antistia, and M. Piso his wife Annia, the widow of Cinna. Pompey and Piso obeyed, but the young Caesar refused to part with his wife, and was consequently proscribed, and deprived of his priesthood, his wife's dower, and his own fortune. His life was now in great danger, and he was obliged to conceal himself for some time in the country of the Sabines, till the Vestal virgins and his friends obtained his pardon from the dictator, who granted it with difficulty, and is said to have observed, when they pleaded his youth and insignificance, " that that boy would some day or another be the ruin of the aristocracy, for that there were many Mariuses in him."
This was the first proof which Caesar gave of the resolution and decision of character which distinguished him throughout life.
He now withdrew from Rome and went to Asia in B. C. 81, where he served his first campaign under M. Minucius Thermus, who was engaged in the siege of Mytilene, which was the only town in Asia that held out against the Romans after the conclusion of the first Mithridatic war. Thermus sent him to Nicomedes III. in Bithynia to fetch his fleet, and, on his return to the camp, he took part in the capture of Mytilene (B. C. 80), and was rewarded by the Roman general with a civic crown for saving the life of a fellow-soldier.
He next served under P. Sulpicius, in Cilicia, in B. C. 78, but had scarcely entered upon the campaign before news reached him of the death of Sulla, whereupon he immediately returned to Rome.
M. Aemilius Lepidus, the consul, had already attempted to rescind the acts of Sulla.
He was opposed by his colleague Q. Catulus, and the state was once more in arms.
This was a tempting opportunity for the leaders of the popular party to make an effort to recover their former power, and many, who were less sagacious and long-sighted than the youthful Caesar, eagerly availed themselves of it.
But he saw that the time had not yet come; he had not much confidence in Lepidus, and therefore remained neutral.
Caesar was now twenty-two years of age, and, according to the common practice of the times, he accused, in the following year (B. C. 77), Cn. Dolabella of extortion in his province of Macedonia. Cn. Dolabella, who had been consul in 81, belonged to Sulla's party, which was an additional reason for his being singled out by Caesar ; but, for the same reason, he was defended by Cotta and Hortensius, and acquitted by the judges, who were now, in accordance with one of Sulla's laws, chosen from the senate. Caesar, however, gained great fame by this prosecution, and shewed that he possessed powers of oratory which bid fair to place him among the first speakers at Rome.
The popularity he had gained induced him, in the following year (B. C. 76), at the request of the Greeks, to accuse C. Antonius (afterwards consul in B. C. 63) of extortion in Greece; but he too escaped conviction. To render himself still more perfect in oratory, he went to Rhodes in the winter of the same year, to study under Apollonius Molo, who was also one of Cicero's teachers ; but in his voyage thither he was captured off Miletus, near the island of Pharmacusa, by pirates, with whom the seas of the Mediterranean then swarmed.
In this island he was detained by them till he could obtain fifty talents from the neighbouring cities for his ransom. Immediately he had obtained his liberty, he manned some Milesian vessels, overpowered the pirates, and conducted them as prisoners to Pergamus, where he shortly afterwards crucified them--a punishment he had frequently threatened them with in sport when he was their prisoner.
He then repaired to Rhodes, where he studied under Apollonius for a short time, but soon afterwards crossed over into Asia, on the outbreak of the Mithridatic war again in B. C. 74. Here, although he held no public office, he collected troops on his own authority, and repulsed the commander of the king, and then returned to Rome in the same year, in consequence of having been elected pontiff, in his absence, in the place of his uncle C. Aurelius Cotta.
On his return to Rome, Caesar used every means to increase his popularity. His affable manners, and still more his unbounded liberality, won the hearts of the people.
As his private fortune was not large, he soon had recourse to the usurers, who looked for repayment to the offices which he was sure to obtain from the people.
It was about this time that the people elected him to the office of military tribune instead of his competitor, C. Popilius; but he probably served for only a short time, as he is not mentioned during the next three years (B. C. 78-71) as serving in any of the wars which were carried on at that time against Mithridates, Spartacus, and Sertorius.
The year B. C. 70 was a memorable one, as some of Sulla's most important alterations in the constitution were then repealed.
This was chiefly owing to Pompey, who was then consul with M. Crassus. Pompey had been one of Sulla's steady supporters, and was now at the height of his glory; but his great power had raised him many enemies among the aristocracy, and he was thus led to join to some extent the popular party.
It was Pompey's doing that the tribunicial power was restored in this year; and it was also through his support that the law of L. Aurelius Cotta, Caesar's uncle, was carried, by which the judicia were taken away from the senate, who had possessed them exclusively for ten years, and were shared between the senate, equites, and tribuni aerarii.
These measures were also strongly supported by Caesar, who thus came into close connexion with Pompey.
He also spoke in favour of the Plotia lex for recalling from exile those who had joined M. Lepidus in B. C. 78, and had fled to Sertorius after the death of the latter.
Caesar obtained the quaestorship in B. C. 68.
In this year he lost his aunt Julia, the widow of Marius, and his own wife Cornelia, the daughter of Cinna.
He pronounced orations over both of them in the forum, in which he took the opportunity of passing a panegyric upon the former leaders of the popular party.
The funeral of his aunt produced a great sensation at Rome, as he caused the images of Marius, who had been declared an enemy of the state, to be carried in the procession : they were welcomed with loud acclamations by the people, who were delighted to see their former favourite brought, as it were, into public again.
After the funeral of his wife, he went, as quaestor to Antistius Vetus, into the province of further Spain.
On his return to Rome, in B. C. 67, Caesar married Pompeia, the daughter of Q. Pompeius Rufus and Cornelia, the daughter of the dictator Sulla.
This marriage with one of the Pompeian house was doubtless intended to cement his union still more closely with Pompey, who was now more favourably inclined than ever to the popular party. Caesar eagerly promoted all his views, and rendered him most efficient assistance ; for he saw, that if the strength of the aristocracy could be broken by means of Pompey, he himself would soon rise to power, secure as he was of the favour of the people.
He accordingly supported the proposal of the tribune Gabinius for conferring upon Pompey the command of the war against the pirates with unlimited powers: this measure was viewed with the utmost jealousy by the aristocracy, and widened still further the breach between them and Pompey.
In the same year, Caesar was elected one of the superintendents of the Appian Way, and acquired fresh popularity by expending upon its repairs a large sum of money from his private purse.
In the following year, B. C. 66, Caesar again assisted Pompey by supporting, along with Cicero, the Manilian law, by which the Mithridatic war was committed to Pompey.
At the end of this year, the first Catilinarian conspiracy, as it is called, was formed, in which Caesar is said by some writers to have taken an active part. But this is probably a sheer invention of his enemies in later times, as Caesar had already, through his favour with the people and his connexion with Pompey, every prospect of obtaining the highest offices in the state.
He had been already elected to the curule aedileship, and entered upon the office in the following year (B. C. 65), with M. Bibulus as his colleague.
It was usual for those magistrates who wished to win the affections of the people, to spend large sums of money in their aedileship upon the public games and buildings; but the aedileship of Caesar and Bibulus surpassed in magnificence all that had preceded it. Caesar was obliged to borrow large sums of money again; he had long since spent his private fortune, and, according to Plutarch, was 1300 talents in debt before he held any public office. Bibulus contributed to the expenses, but Caesar got almost all the credit, and his popularity became unbounded. Anxious to revive the recollection of the people in favour of the Marian party, he caused the statues of Marius and the representations of his victories in the Jugurthine and Cimbrian wars, which had been all destroyed by Sulla, to be privately restored, and placed at night in the Capitol.
In the morning the city was in the highest state of excitement : the veterans and other friends of Marius cried with joy at the sight of his countenance again, and greeted Caesar with shouts of applause : the senate assembled, and Q. Catulus accused Caesar of a breach of a positive law; but the popular excitement was so great, that the senate dared not take any measures against him.
He now attempted to obtain by a plebiscitum an extraordinary mission to Aegypt, with the view probably of obtaining money to pay off his debts, but was defeated in his object by the aristocracy, who got some of the tribunes to put their veto upon the measure.
In B. C. 64 he was appointed to preside, in place of the praetor, as judex quaestionis, in trials for murder, and in that capacity held persons guilty of murder who had put any one to death in the proscriptions of Sulla, although they had been specially exempted from punishment by one of Sulla's laws.
This he probably did in order to pave the way for the trial of C. Rabirius in the following year.
He also took an active part in supporting the agrarian law of the tribune P. Servilius Rullus, which was brought forward at the close of B. C. 64, immediately after the tribunes entered upon their office.
The provisions of this law were of such an extensive kind, and conferred such large and extraordinary powers upon the commissioners for distributing the lands, that Caesar could hardly have expected it to be carried ; and he probably did not wish another person to obtain the popularity which would result from such a measure, although his position compelled him to support it.
It was of course resisted by the aristocracy; and Cicero, who had now attached himself to the aristocratical party, spoke against it on the first day that he entered upon his consulship, the 1st of January, B. C. 63.
The law was shortly afterwards dropped by Rullus himself.
The next measure of the popular party was adopted at the instigation of Caesar. Thirty-six years before, in B. C. 100, L. Appuleius Saturninus, the tribune of the plebs, had been declared an enemy by the senate, besieged in the Capitol, and put to death when he was obliged to surrender through want of water. Caesar now induced the tribune T. Atius Labienus to accuse C. Rabirius, an aged senator, of this crime.
It was doubtless through no desire of taking away the old man's life that Caesar set this accusation afoot, but he wanted to frighten the senate from resorting to arms in future against the popular party, and to strengthen still further the power of the tribunes. Rabirius was accused of the crime of perduellio or treason against the state, a species of accusation which had almost gone out of use, and been supplanted by that of majestas.
He was brought to trial before the duumviri perduellionis, who were usually appointed for this purpose by the comitia centuriata, but on the present occasion were nominated by the praetor. Caesar himself and his relative L. Caesar were the two judges; they forthwith condemned Rabirius, who according to the old law would have been hanged or hurled down from the Tarpeian rock. Rabirius, however, availed himself of his right of appealing to the people; Cicero spoke on his behalf ; the people seemed inclined to ratify the decision of the duumvirs, when the meeting was broken up by the praetor Q. Metellus Celer removing the military flag which floated on the Janiculum.
This was in accordance with an old law, which was intended to protect the comitia centuriata in the Campus Martius from being surprised by the enemy, when the territory of Rome scarcely extended beyond the boundaries of the city, and which was still maintained as a useful engine in the hands of the magistrates. Rabirius therefore escaped, and Caesar did not think it necessary to renew the prosecution, as the object for which it had been instituted had been already in great measure attained.
Caesar next set on foot in the same year (B. C. 63) an accusation against C. Piso, who had been consul in B. C. 67, and afterwards had the government of the province of Gallia Narbonensis. Piso was acquitted, and became from this time one of Caesar's deadliest enemies. About the same time the office of pontifex maximus became vacant by the death of Q. Metellus Pius.
The candidates for it were Q. Lutatius Catulus, Q. Servilius Isauricus, and Caesar. Catulus and Servilius had both been consuls, and were two of the most illustrious men in Rome, and of the greatest influence in the senate: but so great was Caesar's popularity, that Catulus became apprehensive as to his success, and fearing to be defeated by one so much his inferior in rank, station, and age, privately offered him large sums to liquidate his debts, if he would withdraw from the contest. Caesar, however, replied, that he would borrow still more to carry his election.
He was elected on the sixth of March, and obtained more votes even in the tribes of his competitors than they had themselves. Shortly after this he was elected praetor for the following year. Then came the detection of Catiline's conspiracy.
The aristocracy thought this a favourable opportunity to get rid of their restless opponent; and C. Piso and Q. Catulus used every means of persuasion, and even bribery, to induce Cicero to include him among the conspirators. That Caesar should both at the time and afterwards have been charged by the aristocracy with participation in this conspiracy, as he was in the former one of Catiline in B. C. 66, is nothing surprising; but there is no satisfactory evidence of his guilt, and we think it unlikely that he would have embarked in such a rash scheme For though he would probably have had little scruple as to the means he employed to obtain his ends, he was still no rash, reckless adventurer, who could only hope to rise in a general scramble for power : he now possessed unbounded influence with the people, and was sure of obtaining the consulship; and if his ambition had already formed loftier plans, he would have had greater reason to fear a loss than an increase of his power in universal anarchy.
In the debate in the senate on the 5th of December respecting the punishment of the conspirators, Caesar, though he admitted their guilt, opposed their execution, and contended, in a very able speech, that it was contrary to the principles of the Roman constitution for the senate to put Roman citizens to death, and recommended that they should be kept in custody in the free towns of Italy.
This speech made a great impression upon the senate, and many who had already given their opinion in favour of death began to hesitate; but the speech of M. Cato confirmed the wavering, and carried the question in favour of death. Cato openly charged Caesar as a party to the conspiracy, and as he left the senate-house his life was in danger from the Roman knights who guarded Cicero's person.
The next year, B. C. 62, Caesar was praetor. On the very day that he entered upon his office, he brought a proposition before the people for depriving Q. Catulus of the honour of completing the restoration of the Capitol, which had been burnt down in B. C. 83, and for assigning this office to Pompey.
This proposal was probably made more for the sake of gratifying Pompey's vanity, and humbling the aristocracy, than from any desire of taking vengeance upon his private enemy.
As however it was most violently opposed by the aristocracy, Caesar did not think it advisable to press the motion.
This, however, was a trifling matter; the state was soon almost torn asunder by the proceedings of the tribune Q. Metellus Nepos, the friend of Pompey. Metellus openly accused Cicero of having put Roman citizens to death without trial, and at length gave notice of a rogation for recalling Pompey to Rome with his army, that Roman citizens might be protected from being illegally put to death. Metellus was supported by the eloquence and influence of Caesar, but met with a most determined opposition from one of his colleagues, M. Cato, who was tribune this year. Cato put his veto upon the rogation ; and when Metellus attempted to read it to the people, Cato tore it out of his hands; the whole forum was in an uproar; the two parties came to blows, but Cato eventually remained master of the field.
The senate took upon themselves to suspend both Metellus and Caesar from their offices. Metellus fled to Pompey's camp; Caesar continued to administer justice, till the senate sent armed troops to drag him from his tribunal. Then he dismissed his lictors, threw away his praetexta, and hurried home.
The senate, however, soon saw that they had gone too far. Two days after the people thronged in crowds to the house of Caesar, and offered to restore him to his dignity.
He assuaged the tumult; the senate was summoned in haste, and felt it necessary to make concessions to its hated enemy. Some of the chief senators were sent to Caesar to thank him for his conduct on the occasion; he was invited to take his seat in the senate, loaded with praises, and restored to his office.
It was a complete defeat of the aristocracy. Butnot disheartened by this failure, they resolved to aim another blow at Caesar. Proceedings against the accomplices in Catiline's conspiracy were still going on, and the aristocracy got L. Vettius and Q. Curius, who had been two of the chief informers against the conspirators, to accuse Caesar of having been privy to it.
But this attempt equally failed. Caesar called upon Cicero to testify that he had of his own accord given him evidence respecting the conspiracy, and so complete was his triumph, that Curius was deprived of the rewards which had been voted him for having been the first to reveal the conspiracy, and Vettius was cast into prison.
Towards the end of Caesar's praetorship, a circumstance occurred which created a great stir at the time. Clodius had an intrigue with Pompeia, Caesar's wife, and had entered Caesar's house in disguise at the festival of the Bona Dea, at which men were not allowed to be present, and which was always celebrated at the house of one of the higher magistrates.
He was detected and brought to trial; but though Caesar divorced his wife, he would not appear against Clodius, for the latter was a favourite with the people, and was closely connected with Caesar's party.
In this year Pompey returned to Rome from the Mithridatic war, and quietly disbanded his army.
At the expiration of his praetorship Caesar obtained the province of Further Spain, B. C. 61.
But his debts had now become so great, and his creditors so clamorous for payment, that he was obliged to apply to Crassus for assistance before leaving Rome.
This he readily obtained; Crassus became surety for him, as did also others of his friends ; but these and other circumstances detained him so long that he did not reach his province till the summer. Hitherto Caesar's public career had been confined almost exclusively to political life; and he had had scarcely any opportunity of displaying that genius for war which has enrolled his name among the greatest generals of the world.
He was now for the first time at the head of a regular army, and soon shewed that he knew how to make use of it.
He commenced his campaign by subduing the mountainous tribes of Lusitania, which had plundered the country, took the town of Brigantium in the country of the Gallaeci, and gained many other advantages over the enemy. His troops saluted him as imperator, and the senate honoured him by a public thanksgiving. His civil reputation procured him equal renown, and he left the province with great reputation, after enriching both himself and his army.
Caesar returned to Rome in the summer of the following year, B. C. 60, a little before the consular elections, without waiting for his successor.
He laid claim to a triumph, and at the same time wished to become a candidate for the consulship. For the latter purpose, his presence in the city was necessary; but as he could not enter the city without relinquishing his triumph, he applied to the senate to be exempted from the usual law, and to become a candidate in his absence.
As this, however, was strongly opposed by the opposite party, Caesar at once relinquished his triumph, entered the city, and became a candidate for the consulship.
The other competitors were L. Lucceius and M. Calpurnius Bibilus : the former belonged to the popular party, but the letter, who had been Caesar's colleague in the aedileship and praetorship, was a warm supporter of the aristocracy. Caesar's great popularity combined with Pompey's interest rendered his election certain; but that he might have a colleague of the opposite party, the aristocracy used immense exertions, and contributed large sums of money in order to carry the election of Bibulus. And they succeeded. Caesar and Bibulus were elected consuls.
But to prevent Caesar from obtaining a province in which he might distinguish himself, the senate assigned as the provinces of the consuls-elect the care of the woods and of the public pastures.
It was apparently after his election, and not previously as some writers state, that he entered into that coalition with Pompey and M. Crassus, usually known by the name of the first triumvirate. Caesar on his return to Rome had found Pompey more estranged than ever from the aristocracy.
The senate had most unwisely opposed the ratification of Pompey's acts in Asia and an assignment of lands which he had promised to his veterans. For the conqueror of the east and the greatest man in Rome to be thus thwarted in his purpose, and not to have the power of fulfilling the promises which he had made to his Asiatic clients and his veteran troops, were insults which he would not brook; and all the less, because he might have entered Rome, as many of his enemies feared he intended, at the head of his army, and have carried all his measures by the sword.
He was therefore quite ready to desert the aristocracy altogether, and to join Caesar, who promised to obtain the confirmation of his acts. Caesar, however, represented that they should have great difficulty in carrying their point unless they detached M. Crassus from the aristocracy, who by his position, connexions, and still more by his immense wealth, had great influence at Rome. Pompey and Crassus had for a long time past been deadly enemies; but they were reconciled by means of Caesar, and the three entered into an agreement to support one another, and to divide the power between themselves.
This first triumvirate, as it is called, was therefore merely a private agreement between the three most powerful men at Rome; it was not a magistracy like the second; and the agreement itself remained a secret, till the proceedings of Caesar in his consulship shewed, that he was supported by a power against which it was in vain for his enemies to struggle.
In B. C. 59, Caesar entered upon the consulship with M. Bibulus. His first proceeding was to render the senate more amenable to public opinion, by causing all its proceedings to be taken down and published daily. His next was to bring forward an agrarian law, which had been long demanded by the people, but which the senate had hitherto prevented from being carried. We have seen that the agrarian law of Rullus, introduced in B. C. 63, was dropped by its proposer; and the agrarian law of Flavius, which had been proposed in the preceding year (B. C. 60), had been successfully opposed by the aristocracy, although it was supported by the whole power of Pompey.
The provisions of Caesar's agrarian law are not explicitly stated by the ancient writers, but its main object was to divide the rich Campanian land which was the property of the state among the poorest citizens, especially among those who had three or more children; and if the domain land was not sufficient for the object, more was to be purchased.
The execution of the law was to be entrusted to a board of twenty commissioners.
The opposition of the aristocratical party was in vain. Bibulus, indeed, declared before the people, that the law should never pass while he was consul ; but Pompey and Crassus spoke in its favour, and the former declared, that he would bring both sword and buckler against those who used the sword. On the day on which the law was put to the vote, Bibulus, the three tribunes who opposed it, and all the other members of the aristocracy were driven out of the forum by force of arms : the law was carried, the commissioners appointed, and about 20,000 citizens, comprising of course a great number of Pompey's veterans, received allotments subsequently. On the day after Bibulus had been driven out of the forum, he summoned the senate, narrated to them the violence which had been employed against him, and called upon them to support him, and declare the law invalid; but the aristocracy was thoroughly frightened; not a word was said in reply; and Bibulus, despairing of being able to offer any further resistance to Caesar, shut himself up in his own house, and did not appear again in public till the expiration of his consulship.
In his retirement he published "Edicts" against Caesar, in which he protested against the legality of his measures, and bitterly attacked his private and political character.
It was about this time, and before the agrarian law had been passed, that Caesar united himself still more closely to Pompey by giving him his daughter Julia in marriage, although she had been already betrothed to Servilius Caepio. Caesar himself, at the same time, married Calpurnia, the daughter of L. Piso, who was consul in the following year.
By his agrarian law Caesar had secured to himself more strongly than ever the favour of the people ; his next step was to gain over the equites, who had rendered efficient service to Cicero in his consulship, and had hitherto supported the aristocratical party.
An excellent opportunity now occurred for accomplishing this object.
In their eagerness to obtain the fanning of the public taxes in Asia, the equites, who had obtained the contract, had agreed to pay too large a sum, and had accordingly petitioned the senate in B. C. 61 for more favourable terms.
This, however, had been opposed by Metellus Celer, Cato, and others of the aristocracy; and Caesar therefore now brought forward a bill in the comitia to relieve the equities from one-third of the sum which they had agreed to pay.
This measure, which was also supported by Pompey, was carried. Caesar next obtained the confirmation of Pompey's acts; and having thus gratified the people, the equites, and Pompey, he was easily able to obtain for himself the provinces which he wished.
The senate, as we have seen, had previously assigned him the care of the woods and the public pastures as his province, and he therefore got the tribune Vatinius to propose a bill to the people, granting to him the provinces of Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum with three legions for five years.
This was of course passed; and the senate added to his government the province of Transalpine Gaul, with another legion, for five years also, as they plainly saw that a bill would be proposed to the people for that purpose, if they did not grant the province themselves.
It is not attributing any great foresight to Caesar to suppose, that he already saw that the struggle between the different parties at Rome must eventually be terminated by the sword.
The same causes were still in operation which had led to the civil wars between Marius and Sulla, which Caesar had himself witnessed in his youth; and he must have been well aware that the aristocracy would not hesitate to call in the assistance of the sword if they should ever succeed in detaching Pompey from his interests.
It was therefore of the first importance for him to obtain an army, which he might attach to himself by victories and rewards.
But he was not dazzled by the wealth of Asia to obtain a command in the East, for he would then have been at too great a distance from Rome, and would gradually have lost much of his influence in the city.
He therefore wisely chose the Gallic provinces, as he would thus be able to pass the winter in the north of Italy, and keep up his communication with the city, while the disturbed state of Further Gaul promised him sufficient materials for engaging in a series of wars, in which he might employ an army that would afterwards be devoted to his purposes.
In addition to these considerations, Caesar was doubtless actuated by the desire of finding a field for the display of those military talents which his campaign in Spain shewed that he possessed, and also by the ambition of subduing for ever that nation which had once sacked Rome, and which had been, from the earliest times, more or less an object of dread to the Roman state.
The consuls of the following year (B. C. 58), L. Calpurnius Piso and A. Gabinius, were devoted to Caesar's interests; but among the praetors, L. Domitius Ahenobarbus and C. Memmius attempted to invalidate the acts of Caesar's consulship, but without success. Caesar remained a short time in the city, to see the result of this attempt, and then left Rome, but was immediately accused in his absence by the tribune Antistius.
This accusation, however, was dropped; and all these attempts against Caesar were as ill-advised as they were fruitless, since they only shewed more strongly than ever the weakness of his adversaries.
But although Caesar had left Rome, he did not go straight to his province; he remained with his army three months before Rome, to support Clodius, who had passed over from the patricians to the plebs in the previous year, was now tribune, and had resolved upon the ruin of Cicero. Towards the latter end of April, Cicero went into exile without waiting for his trial, and Caesar then proceeded forthwith into his province.
During the next nine years Caesar was occupied with the subjugation of Gaul.
In this time he conquered the whole of Transalpine Gaul, which had hitherto been independent of the Romans, with the exception of the part called Provincia ; he twice crossed the Rhine, and carried the terror of the Roman arms across that river, and he twice landed in Britain, which had been hitherto unknown to the Romans. To give a detailed account of these campaigns would be impossible in the limits of this work; we can only offer a very brief sketch of the principal events of each year.
Caesar left Rome, as has been already remarked, towards the latter end of April, and arrived at Geneva in eight days. His first campaign was against the Helvetii, a powerful Gallic people situated to the north of the lake of Geneva, and between the Rhine and mount Jura.
He had heard before leaving Rome that this people had intended to migrate from their country into Western or Southern Gaul, and he had accordingly made all the more haste to leave the city.
There were only two roads by which the Helvetii could leave their country--one across mount Jura into the country of the Sequani (Franche Comté), and the other across the Rhone by the bridge of Geneva, and then through the northern part of the Roman province.
Since the latter was by far the easier of the two, they marched towards Geneva, and requested permission to pass through the Roman province; but, as this was refused by Caesar, and they were unable to force a passage. they proceeded northwards, and, through the mediation of Dumnorix, an Aeduan, obtained permission from the Sequani to march through their country. Caesar, apprehending great danger to the Roman province in Gaul, from the settlement of the Helvetii in its immediate neighbourhood, resolved to use every effort to prevent it.
But having only one legion with him, he hastened back into Cisalpine Gaul, summoned from their winter quarters the three legions at Aquileia, levied two new ones, and with these five crossed the Alps, and came into the country of the Segusiani, the first independent people north of the province, near the modern town of Lyons. When he arrived there, he found that the Helvetii had passed through the country of the Sequani, and were now plundering the territories of the Aedui. Three out of their four clans had already crossed the Arar (Saône), but the fourth was still on the eastern side of the river.
This clan, called Tigurinus, was unexpectedly surprised by Caesar, and cut to pieces.
He then threw a bridge across the Arar, and went in pursuit of the enemy. His progress, however, was somewhat checked by the defeat, a day or two afterwards, of the whole body of his cavalry, 4000 in number, levied in the province and among the Aedui, by 500 Helvetian horsemen.
He therefore followed them more cautiously for some days, and at length fought a pitched battle with them near the town of Bibracte (Autun).
The battle lasted from about mid-day to sunset, but the Helvetii, after a desperate conflict, were at length defeated with great slaughter.
After resting his troops for three days, Caesar went in pursuit of the enemy. Unable to offer anyfurther resistance, they surrendered unconditionally to his mercy, and were by him commanded to return to their former homes. When they left their native country, their number was 368,000, of whom 92,000 were fighting-men; but upon returning to Helvetia, their number was found to have been reduced to 110,000 persons.
This great victory soon raised Caesar's fame among the various tribes of the Gauls, who now sent embassies to congratulate him on his success, and to solicit his aid. Among others, Divitiacus, one of the most powerful of the Aeduan chiefs, informed Caesar that Ariovistus, a German king, had been invited by the Arverni and Sequani to come to their assistance against the Aedui, between whom and the Arverni there had long been a struggle for the supremacy in Gaul.
He further stated, that not only had the Aedui been again and again defeated by Ariovistus, but that the German king had seized upon a great part of the land of the Sequani, and was still bringing over fresh swarms of Germans to settle in the Gallic country.
In consequence of these representations, Caesar commanded Ariovistus, who had received the title of king and friend of the Roman people in Caesar's own consulship, to abstain from introducing any more Germans into Gaul, to restore the hostages to the Aedui, and not to attack the latter or their allies.
But as a haughty answer was returned to these commands, both parties prepared for war. Caesar advanced northwards through the country of the Sequani, and took possession of Vesontio (Besançon), an important town on the Dubis (Donbs), and some days afterwards fought a decisive battle with Ariovistus, who suffered a total defeat, and fled with the remains of his army to the Rhine, a distance of fifty miles. Only a very few, and among the rest Ariovistus himself, crossed the river; the rest were cut to pieces by the Roman cavalry. [ARIOVISTUS.]
Having thus completed two very important wars in one summer, Caesar led his troops into their quarters for the winter early in the autumn, where he left them under the command of Labienus, while he himself went into Cisalpine Gaul to attend to his civil duties in the province.
The following year, B. C. 57, was occupied with the Belgic war. Alarmed at Caesar's success, the various Belgic tribes, which dwelt between the Sequana (Seine) and the Rhine, and were the most warlike of all the Gauls, had entered into a confederacy to oppose Caesar, and had raised an army of 300,000 men. Caesar meantime levied two new legions in Cisalpine Gaul, which increased his army to eight legions; but even this was but a small force compared with the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. Caesar was the first to open the campaign by marching into the country of the Remi, who submitted at his approach, and entered into alliance with him.
He then crossed the Axona (Aisne), and pitched his camp on a strong position on the right bank.
But, in order to make a diversion, and to separate the vast forces of the enemy, he sent Divitiacus with the Aedui to attack the country of the Bellovaci from the west.
The enemy had meantime laid siege to Bibrax (Bièvre), a town of the Remi, but retired when Caesar sent troops to its assistance. They soon, however, began to suffer from want of provisions, and hearing that Divitiacus was approaching the territories of the Bellovaci, they came to the resolution of breaking up their vast army, and retiring to their own territories, where each people could obtain provisions and maintain themselves.
This determination was fatal to them : together they might possibly have conquered; but once separated, they had no chance of contending against the powerful Roman army. Hitherto Caesar had remained in his entrenchments, but he now broke up from his quarters, and resumed the offensive. The Suessiones, the Bellovaci, and Ambiani were subdued in succession, or surrendered of their own accord; but a more formidable task awaited him when he came to the Nervii, the most warlike of all the Belgic tribes.
In their country, near the river Sabis (Samnbre), the Roman army was surprised by the enemy while engaged in marking out and fortifying the camp.
This part of the country was surrounded by woods, in which the Nervii had concealed themselves; and it seems, as Napoleon has remarked, that Caesar was on this occasion guilty of great imprudence in not having explored the country properly, as he was well provided with light armed troops.
The attack of the Nervii was so unexpected, and the surprise so complete, that before the Romans could form in rank, the enemy was in their midst : the Roman soldiers began to give way, and the battle seemed entirely lost. Caesar used every effort to amend his first error; he hastened from post to post, freely exposed his own person in the first line of the battle, and discharged alike the duties of a brave soldier and an able general. His exertions and the discipline of the Roman troops at length triumphed; and the Nervii were defeated with such immense slaughter, that out of 60,000 fighting-men only 500 remained in the state. The Aduatici, who were on their march to join the Nervii, returned to their own country when they heard of Caesar's victory, and shut themselves up in one of their towns, which was of great natural strength, perhaps on the hill called at present Falais. Caesar marched to the place, and laid siege to it; but when the barbarians saw the military engines approaching the walls, they surrendered to Caesar.
In the night, however, they attempted to surprise the Roman camp, but, being repulsed, paid dearly for their treachery; for on the following day Caesar took possession of the town, and sold all the inhabitants as slaves, to the number of 53,000.
At the same time he received intelligence that the Veneti, Unelli, and various other states in the north-west of Gaul, had submitted to M. Crassus, whom he had sent against them with one legion. Having thus subjugated the whole of the north of Gaul, Caesar led his troops into winter-quarters in the country of the Carnutes, Andes, and Turones, people near the Ligeris (Loire), in the central parts of Gaul, and then proceeded himself to Cisalpine Gaul. When the senate received the despatches of Caesar announcing this victory, they decreed a public thanksgiving of fifteen days--a distinction which had never yet been granted to any one : the thanksgiving in Pompey's honour, after the Mithridatic war, had lasted for ten days, and that was the longest that had hitherto been decreed.
At the beginning of the following year, B. C. 56, which was Caesar's third campaign in Gaul, he was detained some months in Italy by the state of affairs at Rome.
There had been a misunderstanding between Pompey and Crassus; and L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, who had become a candidate for the consulship, threatened to deprive Caesar of his army and provinces. Caesar accordingly invited Pompey and Crassus to come to him at Lncca (Lucca), where he reconciled them to one another, and arranged that they should be the consuls for the following year, and that Crassus should have the province of Syria, and Pompey the two Spains. They on their part agreed to obtain the prolongation of Caesar's government for five years more, and pay for his troops out of the public treasury.
It was not through any want of money that Caesar made the latter stipulation, for he had obtained immense booty in his two campaigns in Gaul; but so corrupt was the state of society at Rome, that he knew it would be difficult for him to retain his present position unless he was able to bribe the people and the leading men in the city.
The money which he had acquired in his Gallic wars was therefore freely expended in carrying the elections of those candidates for public offices who would support his interests, and also in presents to the senators and other influential men who flocked to him at Luca to pay him their respects and share in his liberality.
He held almost a sort of court at Luca : 200 senators waited upon him, and so many also that were invested with public offices, that 120 lictors were seen in the streets of the town.
After settling the affairs of Italy, Caesar proceeded to his army at the latter end of the spring of B. C. 56. During his absence, a powerful confederacy had been formed against him by the maritime states in the north-west of Gaul. Many of these had submitted to P. Crassus in the preceding year, alarmed at Caesar's victories over the Belgians ; but, following the example of the Veneti in Bretagne, they had now all risen in arms against the Romans. Fearing a general insurrection of all Gaul, Caesar thought it advisable to divide his army and distribute it in four different parts of the country.
He himself, with the main body and the fleet which he had caused to be built on the Ligeris, undertook the conduct of the war against the Veneti ; while he sent T. Titurius Sabinus with three legions into the country of the Unelli, Curiosolitae, and Lexovii (Normandy). Labienus was despatched eastwards with a cavalry force into the country of the Treviri, near the Rhine, to keep down the Belgians and to prevent the Germans from crossing that river. Crassus was sent with twelve legionary cohorts and a great number of cavalry into Aquitania, to prevent the Basque tribes in the south of Gaul from joining the Veneti.
The plan of the campaign was laid with great skill, and was crowned with complete success. The Veneti, after suffering a great naval defeat, were obliged to surrender to Caesar, who treated them with merciless severity in order to strike terror into the surrounding tribes : he put all the senators to death, and sold the rest of the people as slaves. About the same time, Titurius Sabinus conquered the Veneti and the surrounding people; and Crassus, though with more difficulty, the greater part of Aquitania.
The presence of Labienus, and the severe defeats they had experienced in the preceding year, seem to have deterred the Belgians from any attempt at revolt. Although the season was far advanced, Caesar marched against the Morini and Menapii (in the neighbourhood of Calais and Boulogne), as they were the only people in Gaul that still remained in arms. On his approach, they retired into the woods, and the rainy season coming on, Caesar was obliged to lead his troops into winter-quarters.
He accordingly recrossed the Sequana (Seine), and stationed his soldiers for the winter in Normandy in the country of the Aulerci and Lexovii. Thus, in three campaigns, Caesar may be said to have conquered the whole of Gaul; but the spirit of the people was not yet broken. They therefore made several attempts to recover their independence ; and it was not till their revolts had been again and again put down by Caesar, and the flower of the nation had perished in battle, that they learnt to submit to the Roman yoke.
In the next year, B. C. 55, Pompey and Crassus were consuls, and proceeded to carry into execution the arrangement which had been entered into at Luca. They experienced, however, more opposition than they had anticipated: the aristocracy, headed by Cato, threw every obstacle in their way, but was unable to prevent the two bills proposed by the tribune Trebonius from being carried, one of which assigned the provinces of the Spains and Syria to the consuls Pompey and Crassus, and the other prolonged Caesar's provincial government for five additional years.
By the law of Vatinius, passed in B. C. 59, Gaul and Illyricum were assigned to Caesar for five years, namely, from the 1st of January, B. C. 58 to the end of December, B. C. 54 ; and now, by the law of Trebonius, the provinces were continued to him for five years more, namely, from the 1st of January, B. C. 53 to the end of the year 49.
In B. C. 55, Caesar left Italy earlier than usual, in order to make preparations for a war with the Germans.
This was his fourth campaign in Gaul. The Gauls had suffered too much in the last three campaigns to make any further attempt against the Romans at present; but Caesar's ambition would not allow him to be idle. Fresh wars must be undertaken and fresh victories gained to keep him in the recollection of the people, and to employ his troops in active service. Two German tribes, the Usipetes and the Tenchtheri, had been driven out of their own country by the Suevi, and had crossed the Rhine, at no great distance from its mouth, with the intention of settling in Gaul.
This, however, Caesar was resolved to prevent, and accordingly prepared to attack them. The Germans opened negotiations with him, but while these were going on, a body of their cavalry attacked and defeated Caesar's Gallic cavalry, which was vastly superior in numbers. On the next day, all the German chiefs came into Caesar's camp to apologize for what they had done; but, instead of accepting their excuse, Caesar detained them, and straightway led out his troops to attack the enemy. Deprived of their leaders, and taken by surprise, the Germans after a feeble resistance took to flight, and were almost all destroyed by the Roman cavalry.
The remainder fled to the confluence of the Mosa (Meuse) and the Rhine, but few crossed the river in safety. To strike terror into the Germans, Caesar resolved to cross the Rhine.
In ten days he built a bridge of boats across the river, probably in the neighbourhood of Cologne, and, after spending eighteen days on the eastern side of the river, and ravaging the country of the Sigambri, he returned to Gaul and broke down the bridge.
Although the greater part of the summer was now gone, Caesar resolved to invade Britain. His object in undertaking this expedition at such a late period of the year was more to obtain some knowledge of the island from personal observation, than with any view to permanent conquest at present.
He accordingly took with him only two legions, with which he sailed from the port Itius (probably Witsand, between Calais and Boulogne), and effected a landing somewhere near the South Foreland, after a severe struggle with the natives. Several of the British tribes hereupon sent offers of submission to Caesar; but, in consequence of the loss of a great part of the Roman fleet a few days afterwards, they took up arms again. Being however defeated, they again sent offers of submission to Caesar, who simply demanded double the number of hostages he had originally required, as he was anxious to return to Gaul before the season should be further advanced.
He did not, therefore, wait for the hostages, but commanded them to be brought to him in Gaul. On his return, he punished the Morini, who had revolted in his absence; and, after leading his troops into winter-quarters among the Belgians, repaired, as usual, to the north of Italy. Caesar had not gained ally victories in this campaign equal to those of the three former years; but his victories over the Germans and far-distant Britons were probably regarded by the Romans with greater admiration than his conquests of the Gauls.
The senate accordingly voted him a public thanksgiving of twenty days, notwithstanding the opposition of Cato, who declared, that Caesar ought to be delivered up to the Usipetes and Tenchtheri, to prevent the gods from visiting upon Rome his violation of the law of nations in seizing the sacred persons of ambassadors.
The greater part of Caesar's fifth campaign, B. C. 54, was occupied with his second invasion of Britain.
After making an expedition into Illyricum, and afterwards into the country of the Treviri, who had shewn a disposition to revolt, he set sail from the port Itius with an army of five legions, and landed without opposition at the same place as in the former year. The British states had entrusted the supreme command to Cassivellaunus, a chief whose territories were divided from the maritime states by the river Tamesis (Thames). The Britons bravely opposed the progress of the invaders, but were defeated in a series of engagements. Caesar crossed the Thames at the only place where it was fordable, took the town of Cassivellaunus, and conquered great part of the counties of Essex and Middlesex.
In consequence of these disasters, Cassivellaunus sued for peace; and, after demanding hostages, and settling the tribute which Britain should pay yearly to the Roman people, Caesar returned to Gaul towards the latter part of the summer. Caesar gained no more by his second invasion of Britain than by his first.
He had penetrated, it is true, further into the country, but he had left no garrisons or military establishments behind him; and the people obeyed the Romans just as little afterwards as they had done before.
In consequence of the great scarcity of corn in Gaul, arising from a drought this year, Caesar was obliged, contrary to his practice in former years, to divide his forces, and station his legions for the winter in different parts of Gaul.
This seemed to the Gauls a favourable opportunity for recovering their lost independence, and destroying their conquerors. The Eburones, a Gallic people between the Meuse and the Rhine, near the modern Tongres, led on by their chiefs, Ambiorix and Cativolcus, were the first to begin the revolt, and attacked the camp of the legion and five cohorts under the command of T. Titurius Sabinus and L. Aurunculeius Cotta, only fifteen days after they had been stationed in their country. Alarmed at the vast hosts which surrounded them, and fearing that they should soon be attacked by the Germans also, the Romans quitted their camp, with the intention of marching to the winter-quarters of the legions nearest them under promise of a safe-conduct from Ambiorix.
This step was taken by Sabinus against the wish of Cotta, who mistrusted the good faith of Ambiorix.
The result verified his fears : the Romans were attacked on their march by Ambiorix, and were destroyed almost to a man.
This was the first serious disaster that Caesar had experienced in Gaul. Flushed with victory, Ambiorix and the Eburones now proceeded to attack the camp of Q. Cicero, the brother of the orator, who was stationed with one legion among the Nervii.
The latter people and the Aduatici readily joined the Eburones, and Cicero's camp was soon surrounded by an overwhelming host. Seconded by the bravery of his soldiers, Cicero, though in a weak state of health, repulsed the enemy in all their attempts to storm the camp, till he was at length relieved by Caesar in person, who came to his assistance with two legions, as soon as he heard of the dangerous position of his legate.
The forces of the enemy, which amounted to 60,000, were defeated by Caesar, who then joined Cicero, and praised him and his men for the bravery they had shewn.
In consequence of the unsettled state of Gaul, Caesar resolved to remain with his army all the winter, and accordingly took up his quarters at Samarobriva (Amiens). About the same time, Indutiomarus, a chief of the Treviri, attempted to form a confederacy against the Romans, but was attacked and killed by Labienus, who was stationed in the country of the Treviri.
In September of this year, B. C. 54, Julia, Caesar's daughter and Pompey's wife, died in childbirth ; but her death did not at the time affect the relations between Caesar and Pompey.
In order, however, to keep up a family connexion between them, Caesar proposed that his niece Octavia, the wife of C. Marcellus and the sister of the future emperor Augustus, should marry Pompey, and that he himself should marry Pompey's daughter, who was now the wife of Faustus Sulla.
This proposal, however, was declined, but for what reason we are not told.
In the next year, B. C. 53, which was Caesar's sixth campaign in Gaul, the Gauls again took up arms, and entered into a most formidable conspiracy to recover their independence.
The destruction of the Roman troops under Sabinus and Cotta, and the unsettled state of Gaul during the winter, had led Caesar to apprehend a general rising of the natives; and he had accordingly levied two new legions in Cisalpine Gaul, and obtained one from Pompey, who was remaining in the neighbourhood of Rome as proconsul with the imperium. Being thus at the head of a powerful army, he was able to subdue the nations that revolted, and soon compelled the Nervii, Senones, Carnutes, Menapii, and Treviri to return to obedience.
But as the Treviri had been supported by the Germans, he crossed the Rhine again a little above the spot where he had passed over two years before, and having received the submission of the Ubii, proceeded to march into the country of the Suevi.
The latter people, however, retired to their woods and fastnesses as he advanced; and, finding it impossible to come up with the enemy, he again recrossed the Rhine, having effected as little as in his previous invasion of the country. On his return, he made a vigorous effort to put down Ambiorix, who still continued in arms.
The country of the Eburones was laid waste with fire and sword; the troops of Ambiorix were again and again defeated, but he himself always escaped falling into the hands of the Romans.
In the midst of this war, when the enemy were almost subdued, Cicero's camp was surprised by a body of the Sigambri, who had crossed the Rhine, and was almost taken.
At the conclusion of the campaign, Caesar prosecuted a strict inquiry into the revolt of the Senones and Carnutes, and caused Acco, who had been the chief ringleader in the conspiracy, to be put to death.
He then stationed his troops for the winter among the Treviri, Lingones, and Senones, and departed to Cisalpine Gaul.
Upon Caesar's arrival in Cisalpine Gaul, he heard of the death of Clodius, who was killed by Milo at the latter end of January, B. C. 52.
This event was followed by tumults, which rent both Rome and Italy asunder; and it was currently reported in Gaul that Caesar could not possibly leave Italy under these circumstances.
The unsuccessful issue of last year's revolt had not yet damped the spirits of the Gauls; the execution of Acco had frightened all the chiefs, as every one feared that his turn might come next; the hatred of the Roman yoke was intense; and thus all the materials were ready for a general conflagration.
It was first set alight by the Carnutes, and in an incredibly short time it spread from country to country, till almost the whole of Gaul was in flames. Even the Aedui, who had been hitherto the faithful allies of the Romans, and had assisted them in all their wars, subsequently joined the general revolt.
At the head of the insurrection was Vercingetorix, a young man of noble family belonging to the Arverni, and by far the ablest general that Caesar had yet encountered. Never before had the Gauls been so united: Caesar's conquests of the last six years seemed to be now entirely lost.
The war, therefore, of this year, B. C. 52, was by far the most arduous that Caesar had yet carried on; but his genius triumphed over every obstacle, and rendered it the most brilliant of all.
It was in the depth of winter when the news of this revolt reached Caesar, for the Roman calendar was now nearly three months in advance of the real time of the year. Caesar would gladly have remained in Italy to watch the progress of events at Rome; but not merely were his hard-won conquests at stake, but also his army, the loss of which would have ruined all his prospects for the future.
He was therefore compelled to leave Rome in Pompey's power, and set out to join his army.
It was, however, no easy matter to reach his troops, as the intermediate country was in the hands of the enemy, and he could not order them to come to him without exposing them to be attacked on their march. Having provided for the safety of the province in Transalpine Gaul, he resolved to surprise the enemy by crossing the Cebenna and descending into the country of the Arverni (Auvergne).
With the forces already in the province, and with those which he had himself brought from Italy, he effected a passage over these mountains, though it was the depth of winter, and the snow lay six feet on the ground. The Arverni, who looked upon these mountains as an impregnable fortress, had made no preparations to resist Caesar, and accordingly sent to Vercingetorix to pray him to come to their assistance.
This was what Caesar had anticipated: his only object was to direct the attention of the enemy to this point, while he himself stole away to his legions.
He accordingly remained only two days among the Arverni, and leaving his troops there in command of D. Brutus, he arrived by rapid journeys in the country of the Lingones, where two of his legions were stationed, ordered the rest to join him, and had assembled his whole army before Vercingetorix heard of his arrival in that part of the country.
He lost no time in attacking the chief towns in the hands of the enemy. Vellaunodunum (in the country of Château-Landon), Genabum (Orléans), and Noviodunum (Nouan, between Orleans and Bourges), fell into his hands without difficulty. Alarmed at Caesar's rapid progress, Vercingetorix persuaded his countrymen to lay waste their country and destroy their towns, that Caesar might be deprived of all sustenance and quarters for his troops.
This plan was accordingly carried into effect; but Avaricum (Bourges), the chief town of the Bituriges, and a strongly fortified place, was spared from the general destruction, contrary to the wishes of Vercingetorix.
This town Caesar accordingly laid siege to, and, notwithstanding the heroic resistance of the Gauls, it was at length taken, and all the inhabitants, men, women, and children, were indiscriminately butchered by the Roman soldiery.
Caesar now divided his army into two parts : one division, consisting of four legions, he sent under the command of T. Labienus against the Senones and Parisii; the other, comprising six legions, he led himself into the country of the Arverni, and with them laid siege to Gergovia (near Clermont).
The revolt of the Aedui shortly afterwards compelled him to raise the siege, but not until he had received a severe repulse in attempting to storm the town. Meantime, the Aedui had taken Noviodunum, in which Caesar had placed all his stores; and, as his position had now become very critical, he hastened northwards to join Labienus in the country of the Senones.
By rapid marches he eluded the pursuit of the enemy, crossed the Ligeris (Loire), and joined Labienus in safety.
The revolt of the Aedui inspired fresh courage in the Gauls, and Vercingetorix soon found himself at the head of a much larger army than he had hitherto commanded. Fearing now for the safety of the province, Caesar began to march southwards through the country of the Lingones into that of the Sequani. The Gauls followed him in vast numbers, and attacked him on his march.
After an obstinate engagement, in which Caesar is said to have lost his sword, the Gallic cavalry were repulsed by the German horse whom Caesar had procured from beyond the Rhine. Thereupon, Vercingetorix led off his infantry, and retreated towards Alesia (Alise in Burgundy, between Semur and Dijon), whither he was pursued by Caesar.
After dismissing his cavalry, Vercingetorix shut himself up in the town, which was considered impregnable, and resolved to wait for succours from his countrymen. Caesar immediately laid siege to the place, and drew lines of circumvallation around it. The Romans, however, were in their turn soon surrounded by a vast Gallic army, which had assembled to raise the siege. The Roman army was thus placed in imminent peril, and in no instance in Caesar's whole life was his military genius so conspicuous.
He was between two great armies: Vercingetorix had 70,000 men in Alesia, and the Gallic army without consisted of between 250,000 and 300,000 men. Still, he would not raise the siege.
He prevented Vercingetorix from breaking through the lines, entirely routed the Gallic army without, and finally compelled Alesia to surrender. Vercingetorix himself thus fell into his hands.
The fall of Alesia was followed by the submission of the Aedui and Arverni. Caesar then led his troops into winter-quarters, and resolved to pass the winter himself at Bibracte, in the country of the Aedui.
After receiving, Caesar's despatches, the senate voted him a public thanksgiving of twenty days, as in the year 55.
The victories of the preceding year had determined the fate of Gaul; but many states still remained in arms, and entered into fresh conspiracies during the winter.
The next year, B. C. 51, Caesar's eighth campaign in Gaul, was occupied in the reduction of these states, into the particulars of which we need not enter.
It is sufficient to say, that he conquered in succession the Carnutes, the Bellovaci, and the Armoric states in western Gaul, took Uxellodunum, a town of the Cadurci (Cahors), and closed the campaign by the reduction of Aquitania.
He then led his troops into winterquarters, and passed the winter at Nemetocenna in Belgium.
He here employed himself in the pacification of Gaul; and, as he already saw that his presence would soon be necessary in Italy, he was anxious to remove all causes for future wars.
He accordingly imposed no new taxes, treated the states with honour and respect, and bestowed great presents upon the chiefs.
The experience of the last two years had taught the Gauls that they had no hope of contending successfully against Caesar ; and as he now treated them with mildness, they were the more readily induced to submit patiently to the Roman yoke. Having thus completed the pacification of Gaul, Caesar found that he could leave his army in the spring of B. C. 50, and therefore, contrary to his usual practice, repaired at the end of the winter to Cisalpine Gaul.
While Caesar had thus been actively engaged in Gaul during the last two years, affairs at Rome had taken a turn, which threatened a speedy rupture between him and Pompey.
The death of Crassus in the Parthian war in B. C. 53 had left Caesar and Pompey alone at the head of the state. Pompey had been the chief instrument in raising Caesar to power in order to serve his own ends, and never seems to have supposed it possible that the conqueror of Mithridates could be thrown into the shade by any man in the world.
This, however, now began to be the case; Caesar's brilliant victories in Gaul were in every body's mouth; and Pompey saw with ill-disguised mortification that he was becoming the second person in the state. Though this did not lead him to break with Caesar at once, it made him anxious to increase his power and influence, and he had therefore resolved as early as B. C. 53 to obtain, if possible, the dictatorship.
He accordingly used no effort to put an end to the disturbances at Rome between Milo and Clodius in that year, in hopes that all parties would be willing to accede to his wishes in order to restore peace to the city.
These disturbances broke out into perfect anarchy on the death of Clodius at the beginning of the following year, B. C. 52, and led to the appointment of Pompey as sole consul with the concurrence of the senate.
This, it is true, did not entirely meet Pompey's wishes, yet it was the first step which the aristocracy had taken to gratify Pompey, and it paved the way for a reconciliation with them.
The acts of Pompey's consulship, which were all directed to the increase of his power, belong to Pompey's life; it is sufficient to mention here, that among other things he obtained the prolongation of his government in Spain for five years more; and as he was not yet prepared to break entirely with Caesar, he allowed some of the tribunes to carry a law exempting Caesar from the necessity of coming to Rome to become a candidate for the consulship.
The ten years of Caesar's government would expire at the end of B. C. 49, and he was therefore resolved to obtain the consulship for B. C. 48, for otherwise he would become a private man.
In the following year, B. C. 51, Pompey entered into still closer connexions with the aristocracy, but at the same time was not willing to support all the violent measures of the consul M. Claudius Marcellus, who proposed to send a successor to Caesar, on the plea that the war in Gaul was finished, and to deprive him of the privilege of becoming a candidate for the consulship in his absence.
At length a decree of the senate was passed, that the consuls of the succeeding year, B. C. 50, should on the first of March consult the senate respecting the disposal of the consular provinces, by which time it was hoped that Pompey would be prepared to take decisive measures against Caesar.
The consuls for the next year, B. C. 50, L. Aemilius Paullus and C. Claudius Marcellus, and the powerful tribune C. Curio, were all reckoned devoted partizans of Pompey and the senate. Caesar, however, gained over Paullus and Curio by large bribes, and with an unsparing hand distributed immense sums of money among the leading men of Rome. Thus this year passed by. without the senate coming to any decision.
The great fear which Pompey and the senate entertained was, that Caesar should be elected consul while he was still at the head of his army, and it was therefore proposed in the senate by the consul C. Marcellus, that Caesar should lay down his command by the 13th of November.
This it could not be expected that Caesar would do ; his proconsulate had upwards of another year to run; and if he had come to Rome as a private man to sue for the consulship, there can be little doubt that his life would have been sacrificed. Cato had declared that he would bring Caesar to trial as soon as he laid down his command; but the trial would have been only a mockery, for Pompey was in the neighbourhood of the city at the head of an army, and would have overawed the judges by his soldiery as at Milo's trial.
The tribune Curio consequently interposed his veto upon the proposition of Marcellus. Meantime Caesar had come into Cisalpine Gaul in the spring of B. C. 50, as already mentioned. Here he was received by the municipal towns and colonies with the greatest marks of respect and affection; and after remaining there a short time, he returned to Transalpine Gaul and held a review of his whole army, which he had so long led to victory. Anxious to diminish the number of his troops, the senate had, under pretext of a war with the Parthians, ordered that Pompey and Caesar should each furnish a legion to be sent into the East.
The legion which Pompey intended to devote to this service was the one he had lent to Caesar in B. C. 53, and which he now accordingly demanded back; and although Caesar saw that he should thus be deprived of two legions, which would probably be employed against himself, he did not think it advisable break with the senate on this point, and felt that he was sufficiently strong to spare even two legions.
He accordingly sent them to the senate, after bestowing liberal presents upon each soldier. Upon their arrival in Italy, they were not, as Caesar had anticipated, sent to the East, but were ordered to pass the winter at Capua.
After this Caesar stationed his remaining eight legions in winter-quarters, four in Belgium and four among the Aedui, and then repaired to Cisalpine Gaul.
He took up his quarters at Ravenna, the last town in his province bordering upon Italy, and there met C. Curio, who informed him more particularly of the state of affairs at Rome.
Though war seemed inevitable, Caesar still shewed himself willing to enter into negotiations with the aristocracy, and accordingly sent Curio with a letter addressed to the senate, in which he expressed his readiness to resign his command if Pompey would do the same, but intimated that he would continue to hold it if Pompey did not accede to his offer. Curio arrived at Rome on the first of January, B. C. 49, the day on which the new consuls L. Cornelius Lentulus and C. Claudius Marcellus entered upon their office.
It was with great difficulty that the tribunes M. Antonius and Q. Cassius Longinus forced the senate to allow the letter to be read, but they could not prevail upon the house to take the subject of it into deliberation and come to a vote upon it.
The consuls, however, brought before the house the state of the republic in general; and after a violent debate the motion of Scipio, Pompey's father-in-law, was carried, " that Caesar should disband his army by a certain day, and that if he did not do it he should be regarded as an enemy of the state." Upon this motion the tribunes M. Antonius and Q. Cassius put their veto; but their opposition was set at naught. Pompey had now made up his mind to crush Caesar, if possible, and accordingly the more violent counsels prevailed. Antonius and Cassius were ejected from the senate-house, and on the sixth of January the senate passed the decree, which was tantamount to a declaration of martial law, that the consuls and other magistrates " should provide for the safety of the state." Antonius and Cassius considering their lives no longer safe, fled from the city in disguise to Caesar's army, and called upon him to protect the inviolable persons of the tribunes. War was now declared.
The senate entrusted the whole management of it to Pompey, made a fresh distribution of the provinces, divided the whole of Italy into certain districts, the defence of each of which was to be entrusted to some distinguished senator, determined that fresh levies of troops should be held, and voted a sum of money from the public treasury to Pompey. Pompey had had all along no apprehensions as to the result of a war; he seems to have regarded it as scarcely possible that Caesar should ever seriously think of marching against him; his great fame, he thought, would cause a multitude of troops to flock around him whenever he wished them; and thus in his confidence of success, he had neglected all means for raising an army.
In addition to this he had been deceived as to the disposition of Caesar's troops, and had been led to believe that they were ready to desert their general at the first opportunity. Consequently, when the war broke out, Pompey had scarcely any troops except the two legions which he had obtained from Caesar, and on the fidelity of which he could by no means rely. So unpopular too was the senatorial party in Italy, that it was with great difficulty they could levy troops, and when levied, they took the first opportunity of passing over to Caesar.
As soon as Caesar learnt the last resolution of the senate, he assembled his soldiers, informed them of the wrongs he had sustained, and called upon them to support him. Finding them quite willing to follow him, he crossed the Rubicon which separated his province from Italy, and occupied Ariminum, where he met with the tribunes.
He commenced his enterprise with only one legion, consisting of 5000 foot soldiers and 300 horse, but others had orders to follow him from Transalpine Gaul, and he was well aware of the importance of expedition, that the enemy might have no time to complete their preparations. Therefore, though it was the middle of winter, he pushed on with the utmost rapidity, and such was the popularity of his cause in Italy, that city after city opened its gates to him, and his march was like a triumphal progress. Arretium, Pisaurum, Fanum, Ancona, Iguvium, and Auximum, fell into his hands.
These successes caused the utmost consternation at Rome; it was reported that Caesar's cavalry was already near the gates of the city; a general panic seized the senate, and they fled from the city even without taking with them the money from the public treasury, and did not recover their courage till they had got as far south as Capua. Caesar continued his victorious march through Picenum till he came to Corfinium, which was the first town that offered him any vigorous resistance. L. Domitius Ahenobarbus, who had been appointed Caesar's successor in Gaul, had thrown himself into Corfinium with a strong force; but as Pompey did not come to his assistance, he was unable to maintain the place, and fell himself into Caesar's hands, together with several other senators and distinguished men. Caesar, with the same clemency which he displayed throughout the whole of the civil war, dismissed them all uninjured, and hastened in pursuit of Pompey, who had now resolved to abandon Italy and was accordingly hastening on to Brundisium, intending from thence to sail to Greece. Pompey reached Brundisium before Caesar, but had not sailed when the latter arrived before the town. Caesar straightway laid siege to the place, but Pompey abandoned it on the 17th of March and embarked for Greece. Caesar was unable to follow Pompey for want of ships, and therefore determined to march against Afranius and Petreius, Pompey's legates in Spain, who possessed a powerful army in that country.
He accordingly marched back from Brundisium and repaired to Rome, having thus in three months become the supreme master of the whole of Italy.
After remaining in the neighbourhood of Rome for a short time, he set out for Spain, having left M. Lepidus in charge of the city and M. Antonius in command of the troops in Italy.
He sent Curio to drive Cato out of Sicily, Q. Valerius to take possession of Sardinia, and C. Antonius to occupy Illyricum. Curio and Valerius obtained possession of Sicily and Sardinia without opposition ; and Curio then passed over into Africa, which was in possession of the Pompeian party. Here, however, he met with strong opposition, and at length was defeated and lost his life in a battle with Juba, king of Mauritania, who supported P. Atius Varus, the Pompeian commander. C. Antonius also met with bad success in Illyricum, for his army was defeated and he himself taken prisoner.
These events, however, happened at a later period in this year; and these disasters were more than counterbalanced by Caesar's victories in the meantime in Spain. Caesar left Rome about the middle of April, and on his arrival in Gaul found, that Massilia refused to submit to him.
He forthwith laid siege to the place, but unable to take it immediately, he left C. Trebonius and D. Brutus with part of his troops to prosecute the siege, and continued his march to Spain.
In this country Pompey had seven legions, three under the command of L. Afranius in the nearer province, two under M. Petreius in the further, and two under M. Terentius Varro also in the latter province west of the Anas (Guadiana). Varro remained in the west; but Afranius and Petreius on the approach of Caesar united their forces, and took up a strong position near the town of Ilerda (Lerida in Catalonia) on the right bank of the Sicoris (Segre). Into the details of this campaign we cannot enter.
It is sufficient to state, that, after experiencing great difficulties at first and some reverses, Caesar at length reduced Afranius and Petreius to such difficulties that they were obliged to surrender. They themselves were dismissed uninjured, part of their troops disbanded, and the remainder incorporated among Caesar's troops. Caesar then proceeded to march against Varro; but after the victory over Afranius and Petreius, there was no army in Spain capable of resisting the conqueror, and Varro accordingly surrendered to Caesar when the latter arrived at Corduba (Cordova). Having thus subdued all Spain, which had engaged him only forty days, he returned to Gaul. Massilia had not yet yielded, but the siege had been prosecuted with so much vigour, that the inhabitants were compelled to surrender the town soon after his arrival before the walls.
While Caesar was before Massilia, he received intelligence that he had been appointed dictator by the praetor M. Lepidus, who had been empowered to do so by a law passed for the purpose.
This appointment, which was of course made in accordance with Caesar's wishes, was contrary to all precedent; for a praetor had not the power of nominating a dictator, and the senate was entirely passed over : but it is idle to talk of established forms under such circumstances; it was necessary that there should be a higher magistrate than praetor to hold the comitia for the election of the consuls; and Caesar wished to enter Rome invested with some high official power, which he could not do so long as he was merely proconsul. Accordingly, as soon as Massilia surrendered, Caesar hastened to Rome and entered upon his dictatorship, but laid it down again at the end of eleven days after holding the consular comitia, in which he himself and P. Servilius Vatia Isauricus were elected consuls for the next year.
But during these eleven days he caused some very important laws to be passed.
The first, which was intended to relieve debtors, but at the same time protect to a great extent the rights of creditors, was in the present state of affairs a most salutary measure. (For the provisions of this lex, see Dict. of Ant. s. v. Julia Lex de Foenore.
) He next obtained the reversal of the sentences which had been pronounced against various persons in accordance with the laws passed in Pompey's last consulship; he also obtained the recall of several other exiles; he further restored the descendants of those who had been proscribed by Sulla to the enjoyment of their rights, and rewarded the Transpadani by the citizenship for their faithful support of his cause.
After laying down the dictatorship, Caesar went in December to Brundisium, where he had previously ordered his troops to assemble.
He had lost many men in the long march from Spain, and also from sickness arising from their passing the autumn in the south of Italy. Pompey had not been idle during the summer, and had employed his time in raising a large army in Greece, Egypt, and the East, the scene of his former glory.
He thus collected an army consisting of nine legions of Roman citizens, and an auxiliary force of cavalry and infantry; and, though it is impossible to estimate its exact strength, as we do not know the number of men which each legion contained, it was decidedly greater than the army which Caesar had assembled at Brundisium. His fleet entirely commanded the sea, and so small was the number of Caesar's ships, that it seemed impossible that he should venture to cross the sea in face of Pompey's superior fleet.
This circumstance, and also the time of the year caused M.Bibulus, the commander of Pompey's fleet, to relax in his guard; and thus when Caesar set sail from Brundisium, on the 4th of January, he arrived the next day in safety on the coast of Epeirus.
In consequence, however, of the small number of his ships, Caesar was able to carry over only seven legions, which, for the causes previously mentioned, had been so thinned as to amount only to 15,000 foot and 500 horse.
After landing this force, he sent back his ships to bring over the remainder; but part of the fleet was intercepted in its return by M. Bibulus, who cruelly put all the crews to death; and the Pompeian fleet kept up such a strict watch along the coast, that the remainder of Caesar's army was obliged for the present to remain at Brundisium. Caesar was thus in a critical position, in the midst of the enemy's country, cut off from the rest of his army; but he knew that he could thoroughly rely on his men, and therefore immediately commenced acting on the offensive.
After gaining possession of Oricum and Apollonia, he hastened northwards, in hopes of surprising Dyrrhachium, where all Pompey's stores were deposited; but Pompey, by rapid marches, reached this town before him, and both armies then encamped opposite to each other, Pompey on the right and Caesar on the left bank of the river Apsus. Caesar was at length joined by the remainder of his troops, which were brought over from Brundisium with great difficulty by M. Antonius and Q. Fufius Calenus. Pompey meantime had retired to some high ground near Dyrrhachium, and as he would not venture a battle with Caesar's veterans, Caesar began to blockade him in his position, and to erect lines of circumvallation of an extraordinary extent; but when these were nearly completed, Pompey forced a passage through Caesar's lines, and drove back his legions with considerable loss. Caesar thus found himself compelled to retreat from his present position, and accordingly commenced his march for Thessaly, pursued by Pompey's army, which was not however able to come up with him. Pompey's plan of avoiding a general engagement with Caesar's veterans till he could place more reliance upon his own troops, was undoubtedly a wise one, and had been hitherto crowned with success; but his victory at Dyrrhachium and the retreat of the enemy inspired him with more confidence, and induced him to give heed to those of his officers who recommended him to bring the contest to an issue by an immediate battle. Accordingly, when Pompey came up with Caesar, who was encamped on the plains of Pharsalus or Pharsalia, in Thessaly, he offered him battle, which was readily accepted by Caesar. Their numbers were very unequal : Pompey had 45,000 footsoldiers and 7000 horse, Caesar 22,000 foot-soldiers and 1000 horse.
The battle, which was fought on the 9th of August, B. C. 48, according to the old calendar, ended in the total defeat of Pompey's army. Pompey fled to the court of Egypt, pursued by Caesar, but was murdered there before the latter arrived in the country. [POMPEIUS.
The battle of Pharsalia decided the fate of the republic. When news of it reached Rome, various laws were passed, which conferred in fact supreme power upon Caesar. Though absent, he was nominated dictator a second time, and that not for six months or a shorter time, but for a whole year.
He appointed M. Antonius his master of the horse, and entered upon the office in September of this year (B. C. 48), so that the commencement and termination of his dictatorship and consulship did not coincide, as some modern writers have represented.
He was also nominated to the consulship for the next five years, but this privilege he did not avail himself of; he was invested, moreover, with the tribunicial power for life, and with the right of holding all the comitia for the election of the magistrates, with the exception of those for the choice of the plebeian tribunes; and it was for this reason that no magistrates except the tribunes of the plebs were elected for the next year, as Caesar did not return to Rome till September in B. C. 47
Caesar went to Egypt, as we have already said, in pursuit of Pompey, and upon his arrival there, he became involved in a war, which detained him several months, and gave the remains of the Pompeian party time to rally and to make fresh preparations for continuing the war.
The war in Egypt, usually called the Alexandrine war, arose from Caesar's resolving to settle the disputes respecting the succession to the kingdom. Caesar determined that Cleopatra, whose fascinations completely won his heart, and her elder brother Ptolemy should reign in common; but as this decision was opposed by the guardians of the young king, a war broke out between them and Caesar, in which he was for some time exposed to great danger on account of the small number of his forces.
But, having received reinforcements, he finally prevailed, and placed Cleopatra and her younger brother on the throne, as the elder had perished in the course of the contest.
It was soon after this, that Cleopatra had a son by Caesar. [CAESARION ; CLEOPATRA.]
After bringing the Alexandrine war to a close, in the latter end of March, B. C. 47, Caesar marched through Syria into Pontus in order to attack Pharnaces, the son of the celebrated Mithridates, who had defeated Cn. Domitius Calvinus, one of Caesar's legates.
This war, however, did not detain him long; for Pharnaces, venturing to come to an open battle with the dictator, was utterly defeated, on the 2nd of August, near Zela.
He thence proceeded to Rome, settling the affairs of the provinces in the way, and arrived in the capital in September.
As the year of his dictatorship was nearly expiring, he caused himself to be appointed to the dignity again for a year, and he nominated M. Aemilius Lepidus his master of the horse. His third dictatorship consequently begins before, the termination of the year 47.
The property of Pompey and of several others of the aristocracy was now confiscated and sold by public auction.
That he might the more easily reward his own friends, the dictator increased the number of praetors and of the members of the priestly colleges, and also introduced a great number of his partizans into the senate. For the remainder of this year he elevated Q. Fufius Calenus and P. Vatinius to the consulship, but he caused himself and his master of the horse, M. Aemilius Lepidus to be elected consuls for the next year.
It was during this time that he quelled a formidable mutiny of his troops which had broken out in Campania.
Caesar did not remain in Rome more than two or three months.
With his usual activity and energy, he set out to Africa before the end of the year (B. C. 47), in order to carry on the war against Scipio and Cato, who had collected a large army in that country. Their forces were far greater than Caesar could bring against them at present ; but he was well aware of the advantage which a general has in acting on the offensive, and had too much reliance on his own genius to be alarmed by mere disparity of numbers.
At the commencement of the campaign, however, Caesar was in considerable difficulties; but, having been joined by some of his other legions, he was able to prosecute the campaign with more vigour, and finally brought it to a close by the battle of Thapsus, on the 6th of April, B. C. 46, in which the Pompeian army was completely defeated. Cato, finding himself unable to defend Utica, put an end to his own life.
The other towns in Africa submitted to the conqueror, and Caesar was thus able to be in Rome again by the latter end of July, according to the old calendar.
Caesar was now the undisputed master of the Roman world.
As he drew near to Rome, great apprehensions were entertained by his enemies lest, notwithstanding his former clemency, he should imitate Marius and Sulla, and proscribe all his opponents.
But these fears were perfectly groundless.
A love of cruelty was no part of Caesar's nature; and, with a magnanimity which victors rarely shew, and least of all those in civil wars, he freely forgave all who had borne arms against him, and declared that he should make no difference between Pompeians and Caesarians. His object was now to allay animosities, and to secure the lives and property of all the citizens of his new kingdom.
As soon as the news of his African victory reached Rome, and before he himself arrived there, a public thanksgiving of forty days was decreed in his honour, and the dictatorship was bestowed upon him for ten years, and the censorship, under the new title of " Praefectus Morum," for three years. Caesar had never yet enjoyed a triumph ; and, as he had now no further enemies to meet, he availed himself of the opportunity of celebrating his victories in Gaul, Egypt, Pontus, and Africa by four magnificent triumphs. None of these, however, were in honour of his successes in the civil war; and consequently his African triumph was to commemorate his victory over Juba, and not over Scipio and Cato.
These triumphs were followed by largesses of corn and money to the people and the soldiers, by public banquets, and all sorts of entertainments. Never before had the games of the circus and the amphitheatre been celebrated with such splendour; for Caesar well knew the temper of the Roman populace, and that they would be willing enough to surrender their so-called liberties if they were well fed and amused.
Caesar next appears in the character of a legislator.
He now proceeded to correct the various evils which had crept into the state, and to obtain the enactment of several laws suitable to the altered condition of the commonwealth.
He attempted by severe sumptuary laws to restrain the extravagance which pervaded all classes of society.
In order to prevent any other general from following his own career, he obtained a law by which no one was to be allowed to hold a praetorian province for longer than one year, or a consular for more than two years.
But the most important of his changes this year (B. C. 46) was the reformation of the calendar, which was a real benefit to his country and the civilized world, and which he accomplished in his character as pontifex maximus, with the assistance of Sosigenes, the Alexandrine mathematician, and the scribe M. Flavius, though he himself also was well acquainted with astronomy.
The regulation of the Roman calendar had always been entrusted to the college of pontiffs, who had been accustomed to lengthen or shorten the year at their pleasure for political purposes; and the confusion had at length become so great, that the Roman year was three months in advance of the real time. To remedy this serious evil, Caesar added 90 days to this year, and thus made the whole year consist of 445 days; and he guarded against a repetition of similar errors for the future by adapting the year to the sun's course. (Dict. of Ant. s.v. Calendarium.
In the midst of these labours, Caesar was interrupted by intelligence of a formidable insurrection which had broken out in Spain, where the remains of the Pompeian party had again collected a large army under the command of Pompey's sons, Cneius and Sextus. Having been previously designated consul and dictator for the following year, Caesar set out for Spain at the latter end of B. C. 46.
With his usual activity, he arrived at Obulco near Corduba in twenty-seven days from the time of his leaving Rome.
He found the enemy able to offer stronger opposition than he had anticipated ; but he brought the war to a close by the battle of Munda, on the 17th of March, B. C. 45, in which he entirely defeated the enemy.
It was, however, a hard-fought battle : Caesar's troops were at first driven back, and were only rallied again by their general's exposing his own person, like a common soldier, in the front line of the battle. Cn. Pompeius was killed shortly afterwards, but Sextus made good his escape.
The settlement of the affairs in Spain detained Caesar in the province some months longer, and he consequently did not reach Rome till September.
He entered the city at the beginning of October in triumph on account of his victories in Spain, although the victory had been gained over Roman citizens, and he also allowed triumphs to his legates Fabius Maximus and Q. Pedius.
The senate received him with the most servile flattery. They had in his absence voted a public thanksgiving of fifty days on account of his victory in Spain, and various other honorary decrees, and they now vied with each other in paying him every species of adulation and homage.
He was to wear, on all public occasions, the triumphal robe; he was to receive the title of " Father of his country ;" statues of him were to be placed in all the temples; his portrait was to be struck on coins; the month of Quintilis was to receive the name of Julius in his honour, and he was to be raised to a rank among the gods.
But there were still more important decrees than these, which were intended to legalise his power and confer upon him the whole government of the Roman world.
He received the title of imperator for life; he was nominated consul for the next ten years, and both dictator and praefectus morum for life; his person was declared sacred; a guard of senators and knights was appointed to protect him, and the whole senate took an oath to watch over his safety.
If we now look at the way in which Caesar exerted his sovereign power, it cannot be denied that he used it in the main for the good of his country.
He still pursued his former merciful course : no proscriptions or executions took place; and he began to revolve vast schemes for the benefit of the Roman world.
He was at the same time obliged to reward his followers, and for that reason he greatly increased the number of senators, augmented the number of public magistrates, so that there were to be sixteen praetors, forty quaestors, and six aediles, and he added new members to the priestly colleges. Among his other plans of internal improvement, he proposed to frame a digest of all the Roman laws, to establish public libraries, to drain the Pomptine marshes, to enlarge the harbour of Ostia, and to dig a canal through the isthmus of Corinth. To protect the boundaries of the Roman empire, he meditated expeditions against the Parthians and the barbarous tribes on the Danube, and had already begun to make preparations for his departure to the East.
In the midst of these vast projects he entered upon the last year of his life, B. C. 44, and his fifth consulship and dictatorship.
He had made M. Antony his colleague in the consulship, and M. Lepidus the master of the horse. Caesar had for some time past resolved to preserve the supreme power in his family; and, as he had no legitimate children, had fixed upon his greatnephew Octavius (afterwards the emperor Augustus) as his successor. Possessing royal power, he now wished to obtain the title of king, which he might hand down to his successor on the throne, and accordingly got his colleague Antony to offer him the diadem in public on the festival of the Lupercalia (the 15th of February); but, seeing that the proposition was not favourably received by the people, he resolved to decline it for the present. Caesar's wish for the title of king must not be regarded as merely a desire to obtain an empty honour, the reality of which he already possessed. Had he obtained it, and been able to bequeath it to his successor, he would have saved the state from many of the evils which subsequently arose from the anomalous constitution of the Roman empire as it was finally established by Augustus.
The state would then have become an hereditary and not an elective monarchy, and would not have fallen into the hands of an insolent and rapacious soldiery.
Meantime, the conspiracy against Caesar's life had been already formed as early as the beginning of the year.
It had been set afoot by Cassius, a personal enemy of Caesar's, and there were more than sixty persons privy to it. Personal hatred alone seems to have been the motive of Cassius, and probably of several others. Many of them had taken an active part in the war against Caesar, and had not only been forgiven by him, but raised to offices of rank and honour; but forgiveness by an enemy, instead of exciting gratitude, only renders the benefactor still more hateful to men of low and base minds. They pretended that their object was to restore liberty to the state, and some, perhaps M. Brutus among the rest, believed that they should be doing good service to their country by the assassination of its ruler.
But the majority were undoubtedly actuated by the mere motive of restoring their own party to power : every open attempt to crush their enemy had failed, and they had now recourse to assassination as the only means of accomplishing their object. Their project was nearly discovered; but Caesar disregarded the warnings that had been given him, and fell by the daggers of his assassins in the senatehouse, on the ides, or fifteenth, of March, B. C. 44. Caesar's death was undoubtedly a loss not only for the Roman people, but the whole civilized world.
The republic was utterly lost; it could not have been restored; and if there had been any possibility of establishing it again, it would have fallen into the hands of a profligate aristocracy, which would only have sought its own aggrandizement upon the ruins of its country. Now the Roman world was called to go through many years of disorder and bloodshed, till it rested again under the supremacy of Augustus, who had neither the talents, the power, nor the inclination to carry into effect the vast and salutary plans of his uncle. When we recollect the latter years of the Roman republic, the depravity and corruption of the ruling class, the scenes of anarchy and bloodshed which constantly occurred in the streets of the capital, it is evident that the last days of the republic had come, and that its only hope of peace and security was under the strong hand of military power. And fortunate was it in obtaining a ruler so mild and so beneficent as Caesar. Pompey was not naturally cruel, but he was weak and irresolute, and was surrounded by men who would have forced him into the most violent and sanguinary acts, if his party had prevailed.
Caesar was in his fifty-sixth year at the time of his death. His personal appearance was noble and commanding; he was tall in stature, of a fair complexion, and with black eyes full of expression.
He never wore a beard, and in the latter part of his life his head was bald. His constitution was originally delicate, and he was twice attacked by epilepsy while transacting public business; but, by constant exercise and abstemious living, he had acquired strong and vigorous health, and could endure almost any amount of exertion.
He took great pains with his person, and was considered to be effeminate in his dress. His moral character, as far as the connexion of the sexes goes, was as low as that of the rest of the Romans of his age. His intrigues with the most distinguished Roman ladies were notorious, and he was equally lavish of his favours in the provinces.
Intellectual Character of Caesar
If we now turn to the intellectual character of Caesar, we see that he was gifted by nature with the most various talents, and was distinguished by the most extraordinary genius and attainments in the most diversified pursuits.
He was at one and the same time a general, a statesman, a lawgiver, a jurist, an orator, a poet, an historian, a philologer, a mathematician and an architect.
He was equally fitted to excel in all, and has given proofs that he would have surpassed almost all other men in any subject to which he devoted the energies of his extraordinary mind. Julius Caesar was the greatest man of antiquity; and this fact must be our apology for the length to which this notice has extended. His greatness as a general has been sufficiently shewn by the above sketch; but one circumstance, which has been generally overlooked, places his genius for war in a most striking light. Till his fortieth year, when he went as propraetor into Spain, Caesar had been almost entirely engaged in civil life.
He had served, it is true, in his youth, but it was only for a short time, and in campaigns of secondary importance; he had never been at the head of an army, and his whole military experience must have been of the most limited kind. Most of the greatest generals in the history of the world have been distinguished at an early age : Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Frederick of Prussia, and Napoleon Bonaparte, gained some of their most brilliant victories under the age of thirty; but Caesar from the age of twenty-three to forty had seen nothing of war, and, notwithstanding, appears all at once as one of the greatest generals that the world has ever seen.
During the whole of his busy life Caesar found time for literary pursuits, and always took pleasure in the society and conversation of men of learning.
He himself was the author of many works, the majority of which has been lost.
The purity of his Latin and the clearness of his style were celebrated by the ancients themselves, and are conspicuous in his Commentarii
, which are his only works that have come down to us. They relate the history of the first seven years of the Gallic war
in seven books, and the history of the Civil war
down to the commencement of the Alexandrine in three books.
In them Caesar has carefully avoided all rhetorical embellishments; he narrates the events in a clear unassuming style, and with such apparent truthfulness that he carries conviction to the mind of the reader. They seem to have been composed in the course of his campaigns, and were probably worked up into their present form during his winter-quarters. The Commentaries on the Gallic War were published after the completion of the war in Gaul, and those on the Civil War probably after his return from Alexandria. The " Ephemerides" of Caesar must not be regarded as a separate work, but only as the Greek name of the " Commentarii." Neither of these works, however, completed the history of the Gallic and Civil wars.
The history of the former was completed in an eighth book, which is usually ascribed to Hirtius, and the history of the Alexandrine
, and Spanish wars
were written in three separate books, which are also ascribed to Hirtius.
The question of their authorship is discussed under Hirtius.
Besides the Commentaries, Caesar also wrote the following works, which have been lost, but the mere titles of which are a proof of his literary activity and diversified knowledge: --
some of which have been mentioned in the preceding account, and a complete list of which is given in Meyer's Oratorum Romanorum Fragmenta, p. 404, &c., 2nd ed.
The ancient writers speak of Caesar as one of the first orators of his age, and describe him as only second to Cicero. (Quint. Inst. 10.1.114
; Vell. 2.36
; Cic. Brut. 72
,74; Tac. Ann. 13.3
, Dial. de Orat.
21 ; Plut. Caes. 3
; Suet. Jul. 55
of which several are preserved in the collection of Cicero's letters, but there were still more in the time of Suetonius (Suet. Jul. 56
) and Appian (App. BC 2.79
in two books, hence sometimes called " Anticatones," a work in reply to Cicero's " Cato," which the Roman orator wrote in praise of Cato after the death of the latter in B. C. 46. (Suet. l.c.; Gel. 4.16
; Cic. Att. 12.40
or as Cicero explains it, " De Ratione Latine loquendi," in two books, which contained investigations on the Latin language, and were written by Caesar while he was crossing the Alps in his return from his winter-quarters in the north of Italy to join his army in further Gaul.
It was dedicated to Cicero, and is frequently quoted by the Latin grammarians. (Suet. l.c.; Cic. Brut. 72
; Plin. Nat. 7.30. s. 31
; Gel. 19.8
; Quint. Inst. 1.7.34
or " Auguralia."
As pontifex maximus Caesar had a general superintendence over the Roman religion, and seems to have paid particular attention to the subject of this work, which must have been of considerable extent as the sixteenth book is quoted by Macrobius. (Sat.
1.16; comp. Priscian, vi. p. 719, ed. Putsch.)
in which he treated of the movements of the heavenly bodies. (Macrob. l.c.; Plin. Nat. 18.25. s. 57
or " Dicta collectanea," a collection of good sayings and witty remarks of his own and other persons.
It seems from Suetonius that Caesar had commenced this work in his youth, but he kept making additions to it even in his dictatorship, so that it at length comprised several volumes.
This was one of Caesar's works which Augustus suppressed. (Suet. l.c.; Cic. Fam. 9.16
Two of these written in his youth, Laudes Herculis
and a tragedy Oedipus
, were suppressed by Augustus.
He also wrote several epigrams, of which three are preserved in the Latin Anthology. (Nos. 68-70, ed. Meyer.)
There was, too, an astronomical poem of Caesar's, probably in imitation of Aratus's, and lastly one entitled Iter
, descriptive of his journey from the city to Spain, which he wrote at the latter end of the year B. C. 46, while he was on this journey.
The editio princeps of Caesar's Commentaries was printed at Rome in 1449, fol.
Among the subsequent editions, the most important are by Jungermann, containing a Greek translation of the seven books of the Gallic war made by Planudes (Francf. 1606, 4to., and 1669,4to.)
; by Graevius, with the life of Caesar, ascribed to Julius Celsus (Amst. 1697, 8vo., and Lug. Bat. 1713, 8vo.)
; by Cellarius (Lips. 1705)
; by Davis, with the Greek translation of Planudes (Cant. 1706, 1727, 4to.)
; by Oudendorp (Lugd. Bat. 1737, 4to., Stuttgard, 1822, 8vo.)
; by Morus (Lips. 1780, 8vo.)
, reedited by Oberlin (Lips. 1805, 1819, 8vo.)
The principal ancient sources for the life of Caesar are the biographies of him by Suetonius and Plutarch, the histories of Dio Cassius, Appian, and Velleius Paterculus, and the letters and orations of Cicero.
The life of Caesar ascribed to Julius Celsus, of Constantinople, who lived in the seventh century after Christ, is a work of Petrarch's, as has been shewn by C. E. Ch. Schneider in his work entitled " Petrarchae, Historia Julii Caesaris," Lips. 1827.
Among modern works the best account of Caesar's life is in Drumann's Geschichte Roms.
Caesar's campaigns have been criticised by Napoleon in the work entitled Précis des Guerres de César par Napoléon, écrit par M. Marchand, à I'île Sainte-Hélène, sous la dictée de I'Empereur, Paris, 1836.)
For an account of Caesar's coins, see Eckhel, vol. vi. pp. 1-17
. His likeness is given in the two coins annexed; in the latter the natural baldness of his head is concealed by a crown of laurel. (See also p. 516.)