previous next


Clodius prosecutes Cicero for putting Citizens to Death without Trial -- Cicero banished and recalled--Cæsar's Conference at Lucca--Bloodshed in the Forum--The Triumvirs divide the Government--Death of Cæsar's Daughter -- Shocking State of Roman Political Life -- Pompey and Milo -- Assassination of Clodius -- Disorders consequent thereon--Pompey made Sole Consul--His Law against Bribery

Y.R. 696
[15] Such were the acts of Cæsar's consulship. He then
B.C. 58
laid down his magistracy and proceeded directly to his new government. Clodius now brought an accusation against Cicero for putting Lentulus and Cethegus and their followers to death without trial.1 Cicero, who had exhibited the highest courage in that transaction, became utterly unnerved at his trial. He put on coarse raiment and, defiled with squalor and dirt, supplicated those whom he met in the streets, not being ashamed to annoy people who knew nothing about the business, so that his doings excited laughter rather than pity by reason of his unseemly aspect. Into such trepidation did he fall at this single trial of his own, although he had been managing other people's causes successfully all his life. In like manner they say that Demosthenes the Athenian did not stand his ground when accused, but fled before the trial. When Clodius interrupted Cicero's supplications on the streets with contumely, he gave way to despair and, like Demosthenes, went into voluntary exile. A multitude of his friends went out of the city with him, and the Senate recommended him to the attention of cities, kings, and princes. Clodius demolished his house and his villas. Clodius was so much elated by this affair that he compared himself with Pompey, who was then the most powerful man in Rome.

[16] Accordingly, Pompey held out to Milo, who was Clodius' colleague in office and a bolder spirit than himself, the hope of the consulship, and incited him against Clodius, and directed him to procure a vote for the recall of Cicero. He hoped that when Cicero should come back he would no longer speak against the existing status (the triumvirate), remembering what he had suffered, but would make trouble for Clodius and bring punishment upon him. Thus Cicero, who had been exiled by means of Pompey,

Y.R. 697
was recalled by means of Pompey about sixteen months
B.C. 57
after his banishment, and the Senate rebuilt his house and his villas at the public expense. He was received magnificently at the city gates. It is said that a whole day was consumed by the greetings extended to him, as was the case with Demosthenes when he returned.
Y.R. 698

[17] In the meantime Cæsar, who had performed the

B.C. 56
many brilliant exploits in Gaul and Britain which have been described in my Celtic history, had returned with vast riches to Cisalpine Gaul on the river Po to give his army a short respite from continuous fighting. From this place he sent large sums of money to many persons in Rome, to those who were holding the yearly offices and to persons otherwise distinguished as governors and generals, and they went thither by turns to meet him.2 So many of them came that 120 lictors could be seen around him at one time, and more than 200 senators, some returning thanks for what they had already received, others asking for money or seeking some other advantage for themselves from the same quarter. All things were now possible to Cæsar by reason of his large army, his great riches, and his readiness to oblige everybody. Pompey and Crassus, his partners in the triumvirate, came also. In their conference it was decided that Pompey and Crassus should be elected consuls again and that Cæsar's governorship over his provinces should be extended for five years more. Thereupon they separated and Domitius Ahenobarbus offered himself as a candidate for the consulship against Pompey. When the appointed day came, both went down to the Campus Martius before daylight to attend the comitia. Their followers got into an altercation and came to blows, and finally somebody assaulted the torchbearer of Domitius with a sword. There was a scattering straightway, and Domitius escaped with difficulty to his own house. Even Pompey's clothing was carried home stained with blood, so great was the danger incurred by both candidates.
Y.R. 699

[18] Accordingly, Pompey and Crassus were chosen consuls

B.C. 55
and Cæsar's governorship was extended for five years according to the agreement. The provinces were allotted with an army to each consul in the following manner: Pompey chose Spain and Africa, but sent friends to take charge of them, he himself remaining in Rome. Crassus took Syria and the adjacent country because he wanted a war with the Parthians, which he thought would be easy as well as glorious and gainful. But when he took his departure from the city there were many unfavorable omens, and the tribunes forbade the war against the Parthians, who had done no wrong to the Romans. As he would not obey, they invoked public imprecations on him, which Crassus disregarded; wherefore he perished in Parthia, together with his son of the same name, and his army, not quite 10,000 of whom, out of 100,000, escaped to Syria. The disaster to Crassus will be described in my Parthian history. As the Romans were suffering from scarcity, they appointed Pompey the sole manager of the grain supply and gave him, as in his operations against the pirates, twenty assistants from the Senate. These he distributed in like manner among the provinces while he superintended the whole, and thus Rome was very soon provided with abundant supplies, by which means Pompey again gained great reputation and power.
Y.R. 700

[19] About this time the daughter of Cæsar, who was married to Pompey, died in childbirth, and fear fell upon all lest, with the termination of this marriage connection, Cæsar and Pompey with their great armies should come into conflict with each other, especially as the commonwealth had been for a long time disorderly and unmanageable. The magistrates were chosen by means of money, and faction fights, with dishonest zeal, with the aid of stones and even swords. Bribery and corruption prevailed in the most scandalous manner. The people themselves went to the elections to be bought. A case was found where a deposit of 800 talents had been made to obtain the

B.C. 54
consulship. The consuls holding office yearly could not hope to lead armies or to command in war because they were shut out by the power of the triumvirate. The baser ones strove for gain, instead of military commands, at the expense of the public treasury or from the election of their own successors. For these reasons good men abstained from office altogether. The disorder was such that at one time the republic was without consuls for eight months, Pompey conniving at the state of affairs in order that there might be need of a dictator.
Y.R. 701

[20] Many citizens began to talk to each other about this,

B.C. 53
saying that the only remedy for existing evils was the one-man power, but that there was need of a man who combined strength of character and mildness of temper, thereby indicating Pompey, who had a sufficient army under his command and who appeared to be both a friend of the people and a leader of the Senate by virtue of his rank, a man of temperance and self-control and easy of access, or at all events so considered. This expectation of a dictatorship Pompey discountenanced in words, but in fact he did everything secretly to promote it, and willingly overlooked the prevailing disorder and the interregnum consequent upon it. Milo, who had assisted him in his controversy with Clodius, and had acquired great popularity by the recall of Cicero, now sought the consulship, as he considered it a favorable time in view of the present interregnum; but
Y.R. 702
Pompey kept postponing the comitia until Milo became
B.C. 52
disgusted, believing that Pompey was false to him, and withdrew to his native town of Lanuvium, which they say was the first city founded in Italy by Diomedes on his return from Troy, and which is situated about 150 stades from Rome.

[21] Clodius happened to be coming from his own country-seat on horseback and he met Milo at Bovillæ. They merely exchanged hostile scowls and passed along; but one of Milo's servants attacked Clodius, either because he was ordered to do so or because he wanted to kill his master's enemy, and stabbed him through the back with a dagger. Clodius' groom carried him bleeding into a neighboring inn. Milo followed with his servants and finished him, -- whether he was still alive, or already dead, is not known, -- for, although he claimed that he had neither advised nor ordered the killing, he was not willing to leave the deed unfinished because he knew that he would be accused in any event. When the news of this affair was circulated in Rome, the people were thunderstruck, and they passed the night in the forum. When daylight came, the corpse of Clodius was displayed on the rostra. Some of the tribunes and the friends of Clodius and a great crowd with them seized it and carried it to the senate-house, either to confer honor upon it, as he was of senatorial birth, or as an act of contumely to the Senate for conniving at such deeds. There the more reckless ones collected the benches and chairs of the senators and made a funeral pile for him, which they lighted and from which the senate-house and many buildings in the neighborhood caught fire and were consumed with the corpse of Clodius.

[22] Such was the hardihood of Milo that he was moved less by fear of punishment for the murder than by indignation at the honor bestowed upon Clodius at his funeral. He collected a crowd of slaves and rustics, and, after sending some money to be distributed among the people and buying Marcus Cælius, one of the tribunes, he came back to the city with the greatest boldness. Directly he entered, Cælius dragged him to the forum to be tried by those whom he had bribed, as though by an assembly of the people, pretending to be very indignant and not willing to grant any delay, but hoping that if those present should acquit him he would escape a more regular trial. Milo said that the deed was not premeditated, since one would not set out with such intentions encumbered with his luggage and his wife. The remainder of his speech was directed against Clodius as a desperado and a friend of desperadoes, who had set fire to the senate-house and burned it to ashes with his body. While he was still speaking the other tribunes, with the unbribed portion of the people, burst into the forum armed. Cælius and Milo escaped disguised as slaves, but there was a heavy slaughter of the others. Search was not made for the friends of Milo, but all who were met with, whether citizens or strangers, were killed, and especially those who wore fine clothes and gold rings. As the government was without order these ruffians, who were for the most part slaves and were armed men against unarmed, indulged their rage and, making an excuse of the tumult that had broken out, they turned to pillage. They abstained from no crime, but broke into houses, looking for any kind of portable property, but pretending to be searching for the friends of Milo. For several days Milo was their excuse for burning, stoning, and every sort of outrage.

[23] The Senate assembled in consternation and looked to Pompey, intending to make him dictator at once, for they considered this necessary as a cure for the present evils; but at the suggestion of Cato they appointed him consul without a colleague, so that by ruling alone he might have the power of a dictator with the responsibility of a consul. He was the first of consuls who had two of the greatest provinces, and an army, and the public money, and the one-man power in the city, by virtue of being sole consul. In order that Cato might not cause obstruction by his presence, it was decreed that he should go to Cyprus and take the island away from King Ptolemy--a law to that effect having been enacted by Clodius because once, when he was captured by pirates, the avaricious Ptolemy contributed only two talents for his ransom. When Ptolemy heard of the decree he threw his money into the sea and killed himself, and Cato settled the government of Cyprus. Pompey proposed the prosecution of offenders and especially of those guilty of bribery and corruption. He thought that the seat of the public disorder was there, and that by beginning there he should effect a speedy cure. He brought forward a law, that any citizen who chose to do so might call for an accounting from anybody who had held office from the time of his own first consulship to the present. This embraced a period of a little less than twenty years, during which Cæsar also had been consul; wherefore Cæsar's friends suspected that he included so long a time in order to cast reproach and contumely on Cæsar, and urged him to straighten out the present crookedness rather than stir up the past to the annoyance of so many distinguished men, among whom they named Cæsar. Pompey pretended to be indignant at the mention of Cæsar's name, as though he were above suspicion, and said that his own second consulship was embraced in the period, and that he had reached back a considerable time in order to effect a complete cure of the evils from which the republic had been so long wasting away.

1 The question whether Cicero was justified under Roman law in putting the conspirators to death without a trial has been the subject of endless controversy. It is treated with great force and clearness by Mr. Strachan-Davidson in his Life of Cicero (p. 151 seq.), who holds that he was so justified.

2 Plutarch (Life of Cæsar, 21) says that this conference took place at Lucca. He mentions the same number of lictors and of senators in attendance as those in the text.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (L. Mendelssohn, 1879)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
58 BC (1)
57 BC (1)
56 BC (1)
55 BC (1)
54 BC (1)
53 BC (1)
52 BC (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: