« IndietroContinua »
acy over the nations of Italy. It was a fatal day for her character when her last enemy in Italy submitted, and the
lust of foreign dominion entered into her heart. Decline
Thenceforward there was a decline of the sturdy had begun
middle classes in the country districts. The small farmers disappeared before the growing estates of large proprietors and the frequent grants of land to discharged veterans. The free country people sank to a halfslavish condition, or went to swell the numbers of the pauper mob in the city, which called itself the Roman People and cast the majority of the votes in the political assemblies.
The landed aristocracy of the senators and the moneyed aristocracy of the knights directed the foreign policy of the state, while at home there was a series of contests and compromises, in which the populace was alternately terrorized and humored.
The result toward which all this was tending for two hundred years was control by the strong hand of force.
After a rapid series of experiments in revoluTendency
tion the state was destined to settle at last to Monarchy
into repose under a military monarchy, disguised in republican forms.
It was fortunate for Rome that the strongest of her citizens was also the wisest, a man who was able to govern “an age unable to govern itself.” It was Julius Cæsar
who laid the foundations of what is known Cæsar the
as the Roman Empire. Though imperialism Founder of the Empire
ruined Rome, it was the means of civilizing
ancient Europe and, through it, the modern world. Though this empire, like all human works, came in time to its fall, it was, and in its effects still continues to be, the most important and the most permanent political institution in the world's history.
The real master of Rome at the time of Cæsar's birth was Marius, the idol of the common people; a brave and able soldier, but totally incompetent as a statesman. had won renown by conquering Jugurtha, king of Numidia,
and had saved Rome by annihilating the vast Marius
hosts of the northern barbarians, the Cimbri and Teutons, who had defeated several Roman armies and threatened to destroy the city, as the Gauls had done nearly three centuries before.
Marius's younger rival, the champion of the nobles, was Sulla, who had managed to get a large share of the credit
of the Jugurthine War, and who won fresh fame Sulla
by his conquests in the East. Equal to Marius as a soldier, he surpassed him infinitely in political sagacity. He had the clearest notions of what he wished to accomplish, indomitable energy, and no scruples to interfere with his relentless policy.
These two men, their political followers, and their ruffian troops for several years were by turns in power, and repeatedly drenched Rome with the blood of thousands of her citizens.
Marius died in his seventh consulship, worn out by toil, by age, by excitement. Then Sulla ruled with an iron hand until he finally laid aside his power and retired into private life. After his death his political arrangements were mostly swept away, and things went on much as before.
There were, however, no more civil struggles marked by the ferocity of the contest of Marius and Sulla. The
nation was somewhat tamed by loss of blood. The Nation
One cause of trouble had been removed : the exhausted
discontented allies in Italy, by their successes in by Strife the “Social War," * had forced Rome, though
, finally victorious in the field, to grant them citizenship.
* A war between Rome and her Italian “allies” (Socii), B. C. 90-89. The latter demanded independence or else equal rights as citizens of Rome.
This was an infusion of newer and healthier blood. But
the question what was to become of the reNew Blood
public was no nearer settlement. The great man now on the scene was Pompey. He was only six years * older than Cæsar, but reached the summit of
military fame early in life. His services against Pompey's
the Marian party in Italy, in Africa, and against Career
Sertorius in Spain, his brilliant suppression of piracy in the Mediterranean, and above all his successful termination of the war against Mithradates, which brought the wealthy East into subjection to Rome, made him the hero of his generation. But Pompey's greatness was military only. As a statesman he was a cipher, as a savior of society he was a broken reed. His career was a woful anticlimax. But this was the man with whom Cæsar, while growing into power and influence, had to reckon—the rival whom he had finally to crush, because " Pompey could brook no equal and Cæsar no superior.”
ii. CÆSAR'S LIFE Gaius Julius Cæsar was born July 12, 100 B. c. On his father's side he was a member of the famous patrician
gens Iulia, which claimed descent from the Cæsar's
goddess Venus and the Trojan hero Anchises ; Birth and Family
his mother, Aurelia, belonged to an illustrious
plebeian family. He was related by marriage to Marius, the great chief of the popular party, whose wife, Julia, was Cæsar's aunt. Losing his father in his sixteenth year, he received his
education under the direction of his mother, His Mother
a woman of noble and grave character, like Cornelia, “mother of the Gracchi.” His instructor was a
Only four, if Czesar was born in 102 B. C. + Mommsen thinks it was 102, chiefly because the legal age for holding the consulship was forty-three, and Cæsar was consul for the first time
Gallic rhetorician, M. Antonius Gnipho. When a boy of only thirteen Cæsar was appointed Flamen Dialis, priest
of Jupiter, through the favoritism of Marius. Youth
At the age of seventeen he was married, in defiance of Sulla, to the daughter of Cinna, former colleague of Marius. Refusing to put her away at Sulla's command, he was forced to hide himself and eventually to
leave Italy.* After serving with distinction in First Mili
the province of Asia under the pro-prætor tary Service
Thermus, and against the pirates of Cilicia, under Servilius Isauricus, he returned in 78 B. C., at the age of twenty-two, to Rome, where Sulla had just died.
Forthwith, taking the usual method of bringing himself into public notice, he began his political career by prose
cuting Cn. Dolabella for extortion while govFirst Public
ernor of Macedonia, and the next year C. AnSpeeches
tonius for the same crime in Greece. These men had both been partisans of Sulla. Thus the young statesman identified himself with the Populares or democrats, and declared himself an opponent of the Optimates, the aristocratic or senatorial party.
Though these prosecutions were not successful in securing the conviction of the defendants, they greatly enhanced
the reputation of Cæsar, and indeed provoked Absence
the enmity of many influential men among the from Rome
nobles. Therefore it was prudent conduct to quit Rome a second time. On the way to Rhodes he
was captured by pirates and held to a ransom Captured by of fifty talents.t While in their power he Pirates
joined in their sports and treated them with a lordly condescension, but told them that he would crucify
* When Sulla was urged to spare Cæsar, he allowed the intercessors to have their way, but warned them that" in this young man there were many Mariuses."
| Talent : not a coin, but a sum of money measured by weight. The commonest talent, known as the Attic, was worth $1180.
them all after he was released a threat which he soon after carried out to the letter, though he strangled the poor
wretches before nailing them to their crosses. Study at
Then he went to Rhodes, as he had purposed, Rhodes
and spent some time perfecting himself in oratory under Molo, the teacher of Cicero.
In B. C. 74, when twenty-six, succeeding his uncle Aurelius Cotta as one of the college of pontiffs, he returned
again to Rome, where he began to win popular Return to
favor by lavish expenditure, in anticipation of Politics
becoming a candidate for office. Elected quæstor * 68 B. C., he was sent to further Spain with the
* The high offices of the Roman state formed a regular succession, called the cursus honorum, through which it was necessary to pass from the lower, step by step, to the higher; and the age at which a man became eligible for each office was fixed by law. This law was nearly always observed, but was disregarded in some exceptional cases. The term of all these offices was one year.
Quæstor: age, thirty-one ; the quæstors were financial officers, two having charge of the treasury at Rome, the others serving under generals abroad as paymasters in the army, or in the provinces managing the revenues and expenditures.
Ædile : the ædiles had charge of the markets and of public buildings, of streets and temples, and acted as a kind of police and health officers. Three were four ædiles—two plebeian, two curule. Cæsar was one of the latter.
Prætor : age, forty ; the , sætors presided over the various courts of justice ; if the consuls were both absent, one of the prætors took their place. After their year of office they became, as pro-prætors, governors of provinces.
Consul: age, forty-three ; the two consuls were at the head of the government; one of them presided in the senate and at the principal popular elections. Ex-consuls formed the highest rank of the senators, and to them were assigned the leadership of the most important armies and the governorships of the chief provinces. Between successive consulships the law required a man to wait ten full years.
The Pontifex Maximus was president of the college of pontiffs, and virtually the head of the system of the state religion. This office was held for life, and like other religious functions was no part of the cursus honorum.