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Brutus and Cassius arrive at the Gulf of Melas -- Speech of Cassius to the Republican Army -- After which they move against the Enemy

[89] Such was the size of the army reviewed by Brutus and Cassius at the gulf of Melas, and with it they advanced to battle, leaving the remainder of their forces on duty elsewhere. After performing a lustration for the army, they completed the payment of the promised donative still due to the soldiers. They had provided themselves with an abundant supply of money in order to propitiate them with gifts, especially the large number who had served under Gaius Cæsar, lest at the sight or the name of the younger Cæsar, who was advancing, they should change their minds. For which reason also it was deemed best to address the soldiers publicly. A large platform was built, upon which the generals took their places, accompanied by the senators only. The soldiers, both their own and their allies, stood around it below, filled with joy at the sight of their vast number, the most powerful they had ever beheld. To both the generals this was an immediate source of the greatest hope and courage. This more than anything else confirmed the fidelity of the army to the generals, for common hopes generate good feeling. There was a great deal of noise, as is usual on such occasions. The heralds and trumpeters proclaimed silence, and, when this was obtained, Cassius, who was the elder of the two, advanced a little in front of his companions and spoke as follows:--

[90] "A common peril, fellow-soldiers, is the first thing that binds us in a common fidelity to each other. The second is, that we have given you all that we have promised, and this is the surest guarantee for what we have promised you in the future. All our hopes rest in bravery -- the bravery of you, fellow-soldiers, and of us whom you see on this platform, this large and noble body of senators. We have, as you see, the most abundant munitions of war, supplies, arms, money, ships, and auxiliaries both from Roman provinces and the allied kings. Why is it needful, then, to exhort you with words to zeal and unanimity -- you whom a common purpose and common interests have brought together? As to the slanders that those two men, our enemies, have brought against us, you understand them perfectly, and it is for that reason that you were ready to take up arms with us. Yet it seems fitting to explain our reasons once more. These will prove to you that we have the most honorable and righteous cause for war.

[91] "We raised Cæsar to his high place, serving him in war in conjunction with you and holding commands under him. We continued his friends so long that no one could imagine that we conspired against him on account of any private grudge. It was in time of peace that he sinned, not against us, his friends (for we were honored before others by him), but against the laws, against the order of the commonwealth. There was no longer any law supreme, either aristocratic or plebeian, nor any of the institutions that our fathers established when they expelled the kings and swore never to tolerate royal government again. We, descendants of the men who thus swore, sustained that oath and warded off the curse from ourselves. We could no longer endure that one man, although he was our friend and benefactor, should take from the people and vest in himself the control of the public money, the armies, and the elections, and from the Senate the appointment of governors of the provinces; that his will should take the place of the laws, his rule should supplant that of the people, and his supremacy that of the Senate in everything.

[92] "Perhaps you did not understand these matters particularly, but saw only his bravery in war. Yet you may easily learn about them now by observing only the part that concerns yourselves. You, of the common people, when you go to the wars, obey your generals as masters in everything. But in time of peace you resume the mastery over us. The Senate deliberates first, in order that you may not make a slip, but you decide for yourselves; you give your votes by tribes, or by centuries; you choose the consuls, the tribunes, the prætors. In the comitia you pass judgment on the weightiest questions, and you decide rewards and punishments when we have deserved rewards or punishments at your hands. This balance of powers, O citizens, has raised the empire to the summit of fortune and conferred honors upon those worthy of them, and the men thus honored have returned thanks to you. By virtue of this power you made Scipio consul when you bore testimony to his deeds in Africa, and you elected whom you pleased each year as tribunes, to oppose us in your interest if necessary. But why should I repeat so many things that you already know?

[93] "From the time when Cæsar's domination began you no longer elected any magistrate, either prætor, or consul, or tribune. Nor did you bear testimony to anybody's deeds, nor, if you had done so, could you have rewarded them. In a word, nobody owed you any thanks either for a magistracy or a governorship, either for approving his accounts or acquitting him on a trial. Most lamentable of all, you could not defend your tribunes against insult, whom you had constituted your own peculiar and perpetual magistracy, and had made sacred and inviolable. Yet you saw these inviolable men despoiled with contumely of this inviolable office, and of their sacred vestments, without trial, at the order of one man, because in your behalf they saw fit to proceed against certain persons who wished to proclaim him as king. The senators were deeply grieved at this on your account, for the office of tribune is yours, not theirs. But they were not able to censure this man openly or to bring him to trial by reason of the strength of the armies, which, although heretofore belonging to the republic, he had made his own. So they adopted the only remaining method to ward off tyranny, and that was to conspire against the person of the tyrant.

[94] "It was necessary that the decision should be that of the best men, but that the deed should be done by a few. When it was done the Senate voiced the general approval clearly by proposing rewards to the tyrannicides. Antony restrained them from doing so on the pretext that it would lead to disorder; nor was it our intention to confer this benefit upon Rome for the sake of reward, but solely for the sake of the country. Accordingly the senators refrained, not wishing to insult Cæsar, but only to get rid of the tyranny. So they voted amnesty for all, and it was more particularly decreed that there should be no prosecution for the murder. After a little, when Antony excited the mob against us, the Senate gave us command of the largest provinces and armies, and ordered all the countries between Syria and the Adriatic to obey us. In so doing did they punish us as monsters, or did they rather distinguish us as tyrannicides with the royal purple and with the rods and axes? For like reason the Senate recalled from exile the younger Pompeius (who was not concerned in this conspiracy), because he was the only son of Pompey the Great, who first took up arms to defend the republic, and because the young man had made some little opposition in a private way to the tyranny in Spain. It passed a decree also to pay back to him, out of the public funds, the value of his father's property, and it appointed him admiral in order that he also might hold a command because he was on the side of the republic. What more could you ask of the Senate by way of deed or of sign to show that everything was done with their approval, unless that they should declare it to you in so many words? But they will do and say this very thing, and saying it they will repay you with magnificent gifts, when they are able to speak and to requite your services.

[95] "What their present situation is you know. They have been proscribed without trial, and their property confiscated. Without being condemned, they have been put to death in their houses, in the streets, in temples, by soldiers, by slaves, by personal enemies. They have been dragged out of their hiding-places and pursued everywhere, although the laws allow anybody to go into voluntary exile. In the forum, where the head of an enemy was never carried, but only captured arms and the beaks of ships, the heads of those who were lately consuls, prætors, tribunes, ædiles, and knights have been exhibited. Rewards have been assigned for these horrors. This is a breaking out of all the wounds that had been previously healed over, -- sudden seizures of men, and all kinds of infamy perpetrated by wives and sons, freedmen and slaves. Into so desperate a plight and such conditions has the city now been plunged. At the head of all these villains are the triumvirs, who proscribe their own brothers and uncles and tutors first of all. It is said that the city was once captured by the most savage barbarians, but the Gauls never cut off any heads, they never insulted the dead, they never begrudged their enemies a chance to hide or fly. Nor did we ever treat in this way any city that we had captured in war, nor did we ever hear of others doing so. Moreover, it is no ordinary city, but the mistress of the world, that is thus wronged by those who have been chosen to set in order and regulate the republic. What did Tarquin ever do like this, -- Tarquin, whom our ancestors hurled from the throne for an outrage committed upon one woman under the influence of the amatory passion, and then, for that one act, they resolved to be ruled by kings no longer?

[96] "While the triumvirs are committing these outrages, O citizens, they call us infamous wretches. They say they are avenging Cæsar when they proscribe men who were not in Rome when he was killed. Very many of these are here, as you see, who have been proscribed on account of their wealth, their family, or their preferences for republican government. For this reason Pompeius was proscribed with us, although he was far away in Spain when we did the deed. Because he was the son of a republican father (for which reason also he was recalled by the Senate and made commander of the sea), he was proscribed by the triumvirs. What part have those women had in the conspiracy against Cæsar, who have been condemned to pay tribute? What part have those plebeians had, whose property is worth 100,000 drachmas each, upon whom new taxes and contributions have been imposed, which they have been ordered to pay under penalty of being informed against and fined? And even while levying these exactions the triumvirs have not fully paid the sums promised to their troops, while we, who have done nothing contrary to justice, have given you all that we promised and have other funds ready for still larger rewards. So it comes about that the gods favor us because we do what is just.

[97] "Besides the favor of the gods you can see that we have that of mankind by looking at these, your fellow-citizens, whom you have often beheld as your generals and your consuls, and who have won your praises as such. You see that they have had recourse to us as to men doing right and defending the republic. They espouse our cause, they offer up their prayers, and they coöperate with us for what still remains to be done. Far more just are the rewards we have offered to those who rescue them than those which the triumvirs offer for killing them. The triumvirs know that we, who killed Cæsar because he assumed the monarchy, would not tolerate them in assuming his power and that we would not assume it ourselves, but that we would restore to the people in common the government as we received it from our ancestors. So you see the two sides have not taken up arms for the same reason, -- the enemy aiming at monarchy and despotism, as their proscription already proves, while we seek nothing but the mere privilege of living as private citizens under the laws of our country made once more free. Naturally the men before you espouse our side as the gods had done previously. In war the greatest hope lies in the justice of one's cause.

[98] "Let it give no one any concern that he has been one of Cæsar's soldiers. We were not his soldiers then, but our country's. The pay and the rewards given were not Cæsar's, but the republic's. For the same reason you are not now the soldiers of Cassius, or of Brutus, but of Rome. We, Roman generals, are your fellow-soldiers. If our enemies were of the same spirit with ourselves it would be possible for all to lay down their arms without danger, and give back all the armies to the commonwealth, and let it choose its own destiny. If they will accept such terms, we challenge them to do so. Since they will not (for they could not, on account of the proscription and the other things they have done), let us go forward, fellow-soldiers, with unwavering confidence and honest zeal, fighting only for the freedom of the Senate and people of Rome."

[99] They all cried out, "Let us go forward!" and urged him to lead them on immediately. Cassius was delighted with their spirit, and again proclaimed silence and again addressed them, saying: "May the gods who preside over just wars and over good faith reward your zeal, fellow-soldiers. How far superior we are to the enemy in everything that the human foresight of generals can provide let me tell you. We are equal to them in the number of legions, although we have left behind us the large detachments needed in many places. In cavalry and ships we greatly surpass them, as also in auxiliaries from kings and nations as far as the Medes and Parthians. Besides this we have to deal only with an enemy in front, while Pompeius is cooperating with us in Sicily in their rear, and in the Adriatic Murcus and Ahenobarbus with a large fleet and abundance of small craft, besides two legions of soldiers and a body of archers, are cruising hither and thither harassing them in various ways, while both land and sea in our rear are cleared of enemies. As regards money, which some call the sinews of war,1 they are destitute. They cannot pay what they have promised their army. The proceeds of the proscription have not met their expectation, because no good man will buy lands entailed with hate. Nor can they obtain resources elsewhere from Italy, exhausted as it is by civil strife, exactions, and proscriptions. Thanks to abundant foresight, we have plenty for the present, so that we can give you more shortly, and there are other large sums on the road collected from the nations behind us.

[100] "Provisions, the supply of which is the chief difficulty in large armies, they can obtain only from Macedonia, a mountainous region, and the narrow country of Thessaly, and this must be carried to them overland with severe labor. If they try to obtain any from Africa, or Lucania, or Apulia, Pompeius, Murcus, and Domitius will cut them off entirely. We have abundance, and it is brought to us daily by sea without labor from all the islands and mainlands which lie between Thrace and the river Euphrates, and without hindrance, since we have no enemy in our rear. So it rests with us either to hasten the battle, or by delaying it to waste the enemy by hunger. Such and so great, fellow-soldiers, are our preparations, so far as they depend on human foresight. May the future event correspond to these preparations by your efforts and by the help of the gods. As we have paid you all that we promised for your former exploits and have rewarded your fidelity with abundant gifts, so for this greater battle we will, under the favor of the gods, provide you a reward worthy of it. And now, to increase the zeal with which you already advance to your task, and in remembrance of this assembly and of these words, we will make an additional gift from this platform -- to each soldier 1500 Italic drachmas,2 to each centurion five times that sum, and to each tribune in proportion."

[101] Having thus spoken and having put his army in good spirits by deed and word and gifts, he dissolved the assembly. The soldiers remained a long time heaping praises on Cassius and Brutus and promising to do their duty. The generals immediately counted out the money to them, and to the bravest awarded an additional sum on various pretexts. As they received their pay they were dismissed by detachments on the march to Doriscus, and the generals themselves followed soon afterward. Two eagles alighted upon the two silver eagles which surmounted the standards, pecking at them, or, as others say, protecting them, and there they remained, being fed by the generals from the public stores until the day before the battle, when they flew away. After marching two days around the gulf of Melas the army came to Ænus and thence to Doriscus and other towns on the coast as far as Mount Serrium.3

1 νεῦρα πολέμου: "sinews of war." This phrase is older than Appian. It occurs in Cicero's Philippic, v. 2, "nervos belli, pecuniam infinitam."

2 This is the only place in Appian where we find the phrase "Italic drachmas." What is meant is the Roman denarius, equal to sixteen American cents.

3 Both Doriscus and Mount Serrium are mentioned in Pliny's Natural History (iv. 18).

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