Still, Pompey once said in addressing the people that he had received every office earlier than he had expected, and had laid it down more quickly than others had expected. And in truth his disbanding of his armies was a perpetual witness to the truth of his words. But at this time he thought that Caesar was not going to dismiss his forces, and therefore sought to make himself strong against him by means of magistracies in the city. Beyond this, however, he attempted no revolutionary changes, nor did he wish to be thought to distrust Caesar, but rather to neglect and despise him.
But when he saw that the magistracies were not bestowed according to his wishes, because the citizens were bribed, he suffered an anarchy to arise in the city1
; and forthwith there was prevalent much talk in favour of a dictator, which Lucilius the popular tribune first ventured to make public, when he advised the people to elect Pompey dictator. But Cato attacked him, and Lucilius came near losing his tribunate, and many of Pompey's friends came forward in defence of him, declaring that he neither asked nor desired that office.
And when Cato applauded Pompey and urged him to devote himself to the cause of law and order, for the time being he did so, out of shame, and Domitius and Messala were installed in the consulship2
; but afterwards an anarchy arose again, and more people now agitated the question of a dictatorship more boldly. Therefore Cato and his party, fearing lest they should be overborne, determined to allow Pompey a certain legalized office, and so to divert him from the unmixed tyranny of a dictatorship.
Consequently, Bibulus, who was an enemy of Pompey, was first to propose in the senate that Pompey be chosen sole consul; for thus, he said, the city would either be set free from the prevailing disorder, or would become the slave of its strongest man. The proposal seemed strange, considering the man who made it; but Cato rose, leading everybody to think that he was going to speak against it, and when silence was made, said that he himself would not have introduced the proposed measure, but that since it had been introduced by another, he urged its adoption, because he preferred any government whatever to no government at all, and thought that no one would govern better than Pompey in a time of such disorder.
The senate accepted the measure, and decreed that Pompey, if elected consul, should govern alone, but that if he himself desired a colleague, he might choose whom he thought fit after two months had fully expired. Having in this way been made consul3
and so declared by Sulpicius, the Interrex,4
Pompey addressed himself in a friendly manner to Cato, acknowledging that he was much indebted to him, and inviting him to give advice in a private capacity on the conduct of the government.
But Cato would not admit that Pompey was indebted to him, declaring that none of his words had been spoken in the interests of Pompey, but in the interests of the city; and that he would give him advice in a private capacity if he were invited, and in case he should not be invited, would publicly make known his opinion. Such, indeed, was Cato in everything.