Immagini della pagina

pro-prætor Antistius Vetus. To this time belongs the story,

probably fictitious, that he compared with deep Quæstor

mortification his own achievements with those of Alexander the Great, being then of the same age as Alexander at his death, and that he thereupon threw up his office and returned to Rome, determined to win for himself a fame equal to that of the Macedonian hero-king.

In 65, while curule ædile, he gave splendid public games, and adorned the Forum and Capitol with public works. For

these objects he incurred enormous debts. One Ædile

night he had the statue and trophies of Marius in the Capitol restored to the place whence they had been thrown down by Sulla's order seventeen years before. This bold act delighted the populace.

He was elected Pontifex Maximus in 63, and it was near the end of this year, when he was already prætor-elect for the following year, that he spoke in the Senate against the proposition to put to death Catiline's fellow conspirators, which was, strictly speaking, an illegal proceeding. He has been accused of complicity with Catiline, but the charge has never been proved.

As prætor in 62 he showed great firmness in a time of riotous violence, being one of a very few who preserved

their own dignity; and the following year, as Prætor

pro-prætor, he governed the province of Further Spain. His administration inere was such as to make him respected and popular. Nevertheless, at the end of a

single year he came back to Rome rich enough Governor of Spain

to pay off his debts, yet when elected Pontifex

Maximus he had been worth “one million dollars less than nothing," and afterward had been unable to start for Spain until Crassus had satisfied his most press

ing creditors at an expense of eight hundred The First

talents. Triumvirate

Back again at Rome in 60 B. C., he formed then, or a little later, the famous alliance, known as the

[ocr errors]

“First Triumvirate,” with Pompey, the most powerful, and Crassus, the wealthiest, man of the time.

It was agreed that Cæsar should be made consul for 59 B. C., and thereafter receive the government of a province.

Pompey's arrangements in Asia in connection with the Mithridatic War were to be confirmed, and he was to be enabled to distribute lands to his soldiers. These matters had been the subject of vexatious disputes between Pompey and the Senate for years. The Senate disliked Pompey, and worried him as much as it dared.

What was promised to Crassus is not definitely known.

In 58 B. C. (May), after his consulship, Cæsar started for his provinces (assigned for five years), Cisalpine and

Transalpine Gaul and Illyricum, and immediGoes to Gaul

ately began the campaigns which form the subject of the Commentaries.

In 56 B. C. the triumvirs had a second meeting, at Lucca in Etruria, inside the limits of Cæsar's province of Cisalpine Gaul, renewing their former agreement, and arranging that Pompey was to have the consulship and then the government of the Spains, Crassus the consulship and then the province of Asia, while Cæsar's powers were to be prolonged to 49 B. C., when, after ten years' interval, he could again be elected consul. This arrangement gave the time

necessary to complete the conquest of Further Death of

Gaul. Crassus

Crassus was killed in battle against the Parthians at Carrhæ in 53; this ended the triumvirate. Pompey grew jealous of Cæsar's influence and fame rising higher every year.

Pompey's wife Julia, CæEstrange

sar's daughter, had died in 54 B. C., and her ment of

child did not long survive. The estrangement Pompey and

which had been growing up between Pompey Cæsar

and Cæsar now became complete. The nobles, taking advantage of this state of things, attempted to shorten Cæsar's term of office, and deprive him of the support of his army before the date arrived when he could lawfully become consul again. Their object was to destroy Cæsar. They distrusted Pompey, but were obliged to make

him their leader. Cæsar, forced to choose beCivil War

tween ruin and a civil war, preferred the latter, and promptly crossed the Rubicon * in December, 50 B. C. His enemies fled before him, and he marched in triumph the whole length of Italy. By midsummer 49 B. c. he had subdued Pompey's lieutenants and armies in Spain. Master of Spain, Gaul, and Italy, and of the legal powers f of the government at Rome, he followed the Pompeians across the Adriatic, and after a long campaign in Epirus won a decisive victory over more than double odds at Pharsalus in Thessaly, in June, 48 B. C. Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was treacherously murdered, and in the following year Cæsar made himself master of Egypt and Asia. Meanwhile the senatorial party had rallied in the province of Africa. Cæsar's victory at Thapsus and the suicide of Cato f in 46 B. c. put an end to resistance in that quarter;

but there was still another struggle in Spain, Triumph of

the old stronghold of the Pompeys, which terCæsar

minated in the desperate battle at Munda in 45 B.C. After this victory Cæsar's supremacy was no longer disputed, and all power, but under republican forms, was placed in his hands.#

Apparently the time had at last come when the con

* The boundary between his province of Cisalpine Gaul and Italy. His act was an armed invasion of his country.

+ The magistrates of B. C. 49 became private citizens at the end of the year. Cæsar was in due form elected consul for 48, and the other offices were filled with his partisans. The nobles and senators with Pompey no longer represented the legal authority of the government.

Cato “of Utica” committed suicide in order to avoid the necessity of submitting to Cæsar and of beholding him master of the state.

# He was made consul for ten years, dictator and præfectus morum for life, and received the title of imperator for life. His person was declared sacred ; the tribunician power had been conferred on him for life in 48 B. C.

queror could show himself as the constructive statesman. The breadth of his mind is seen in the plans of improve

ment and organization which he is known to His Plans of have projected. The reform of the calendar Reform

had been actually realized in 46. This was carried out in his capacity as Pontifex Maximus.* Among other plans were a scientific digest of all the Roman law, the establishment of public libraries, the rebuilding of Corinth and the construction of a canal through its isthmus, the draining of the Pomptine marshes in Italy, the enlargement of the harbor of Ostia, the port of Rome, the establishment of permanent and secure frontiers for the empire by the subjugation of the barbarians along the Danube and the Parthians on the Euphrates. He me nt to extend the Roman franchise, to mold the empire into a great cosmopolitan state. Some think he intended to establish the capital at Constantinople, as the true center of the Roman world. His plans were too wide for the comprehension of his time; other rulers, and great ones, worked on parts of them for centuries—one of them, the Corinth canal, was completed August 6, 1893. But he lived less than a year to carry out the far-reaching schemes he had made for the reform and healing of the state, the defense and strengthening of the empire.

He was murdered in the Senate by a band of conspirators, led by Brutus and Cassius, on the “ Ides ” (15th) of

March, 44 B. C. They dealt him twenty-three Death

wounds, of which but one was mortal. Thus Cæsar died; but the imperial idea, of which he was the first embodiment, has proved the central force of European political history even down to our time.

“Death makes no conquest of this conqueror ;
For now he lives in fame, though not in life.”

Richard III, act iii, scene 1. * Most of Europe used the Julian calendar till 1582 ; England till 1752. Russia used it till the beginning of the twentieth century.



iii. CÆSAR'S CHARACTER Cæsar was tall and elegant in figure, of a fair complexion, with dark hair and keen, dark eyes. His sculptured

portraits give the impression at once of comPersonal

manding intellectuality and tremendous pracAppearance

tical force.* He was very careful in his dress, and in his youth was something of a dandy. His long-sleeved tunic, with fringes

at the wrists, his loose girdle and the careful Habits of

arrangement of his hair, which he sometimes Life

adjusted with one finger, caused his opponents to charge him with foppishness, and the less intelligent of them to underrate his abilities and his ambition. Even when advanced in life he is said to have prized the privilege, voted him by the Senate, of always appearing with a wreath of laurels on his head, chiefly because it enabled him more effectually to conceal the baldness about which he was extremely sensitive.

But when on a campaign he allowed himself no luxury in dress or style of living, except that he always had the

finest horses. Though not by nature very Simple

strong, he had, by the severest discipline, Tastes

trained himself to excel in military and athletic exercises, and to endure the utmost hardship and fatigue. His tastes were elegant but simple. In matters of eating and drinking he was so temperate that his bitterest foe, Cato, said, with characteristic sarcasm, that of all

who came to overthrow the republic, Cæsar Athletic

alone came sober. Skill

He had remarkable strength and skill in swimming, and could ride a spirited horse with his arms folded behind his back. His ability to use weapons served

* The best portraits of Cæsar are two busts, one in the Louvre which seems to represent the soldier, one in the British Museum in London which gives the idea of a statesman and thinker.

« IndietroContinua »