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Caesar: A Sketch by James Anthony Froude

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[Sidenote: B.C. 50.]
Cicero had for some time seen what was coming. He had preferred
characteristically to be out of the way at the moment when he expected
that the storm would break, and had accepted the government of Cilicia and
Cyprus. He was thus absent while the active plot was in preparation. One
great step had been gained--the Senate had secured Pompey. Caesar's
greatness was too much for him. He could never again hope to be the first
on the popular side, and he preferred being the saviour of the
Constitution to playing second to a person whom he had patronized. Pompey
ought long since to have been in Spain with his troops; but he had stayed
at Rome to keep order, and he had lingered on with the same pretext. The
first step was to weaken Caesar and to provide Pompey with a force in
Italy. The Senate discovered suddenly that Asia Minor was in danger from,
the Parthians. They voted that Caesar and Pompey must each spare a legion
for the East. Pompey gave as his part the legion which he had lent to
Caesar for the last campaign. Caesar was invited to restore it and to
furnish another of his own. Caesar was then in Belgium. He saw the object
of the demand perfectly clearly; but he sent the two legions without a
word, contenting himself with making handsome presents to the officers and
men on their leaving him. When they reached Italy the Senate found that
they were wanted for home service, and they were placed under Pompey's
command in Campania. The consuls chosen for the year 49 were Lucius
Cornelius Lentulus and Caius Marcellus, both of them Caesar's open
enemies. Caesar himself had been promised the consulship (there could be
no doubt of his election, if his name was accepted in his absence) for the
year 48. He was to remain with his troops till his term had run out, and
to be allowed to stand while still in command. This was the distinct
engagement which the assembly had ratified. After the consular election
had been secured in the autumn of 50 to the conservative candidates, it
was proposed that by a displacement of dates Caesar's government should
expire, not at the close of the tenth year, but in the spring, on the 1st
of March. Convenient constitutional excuses were found for the change. On
the 1st of March he was to cease to be governor of Gaul. A successor was
to be named to take over his army. He would then have to return to Rome,
and would lie at the mercy of his enemies. Six months would intervene
before the next elections, during which he might be impeached,
incapacitated, or otherwise disposed of; while Pompey and his two legions
could effectually prevent any popular disturbance in his favor. The Senate
hesitated before decisively voting the recall. An intimation was conveyed
to Caesar that he had been mistaken about his term, which would end sooner
than he had supposed; and the world was waiting to see how he would take
it. Atticus thought that he would give way. His having parted so easily
with two legions did not look like resistance. Marcus Caelius, a
correspondent of Cicero, who had been elected praetor for 49, and kept his
friend informed how things were going on, wrote in the autumn:

"All is at a standstill about the Gallic government. The subject has been
raised, and is again postponed. Pompey's view is plain that Caesar must
leave his province after the 1st of March ... but he does not think that
before that time the Senate can properly pass a resolution about it. After
the 1st of March he will have no hesitation. When he was asked what he
would do if a tribune interposed, he said it made no difference whether
Caesar himself disobeyed the Senate or provided some one else to interfere
with the Senate. Suppose, said one, Caesar wishes to be consul and to keep
his army. Pompey answered, 'What if my son wishes to lay a stick on my
back'.... It appears that Caesar will accept one or other of two
conditions: either to remain in his province, and postpone his claim for
the consulship; or, if he can be named for the consulship, then to retire.
Curio is all against him. What he can accomplish, I know not; but I
perceive this, that if Caesar means well, he will not be
overthrown." [6]

The object of the Senate was either to ruin Caesar, if he complied with
this order, or to put him in the wrong by provoking him to disobedience.
The scheme was ingenious; but if the Senate could mine, Caesar could
countermine. Caelius said that Curio was violent against him: and so Curio
had been. Curio was a young man of high birth, dissolute, extravagant, and
clever. His father, who had been consul five-and-twenty years before, was
a strong aristocrat and a close friend of Cicero's. The son had taken the
same line; but, among other loose companions, he had made the
acquaintance, to his father's regret, of Mark Antony, and though they had
hitherto been of opposite politics, the intimacy had continued. The
Senate's influence had made Curio tribune for the year 49. Antony had been
chosen tribune also. To the astonishment of everybody but Cicero, it
appeared that these two, who were expected to neutralize each other, were
about to work together, and to veto every resolution which seemed an
unfair return for Caesar's services. Scandal said that young Curio was in
money difficulties, and that Caesar had paid his debts for him. It was
perhaps a lie invented by political malignity; but if Curio was
purchasable, Caesar would not have hesitated to buy him. His habit was to
take facts as they were, and, when satisfied that his object was just, to
go the readiest way to it.

The desertion of their own tribune was a serious blow to the Senate.
Caelius, who was to be praetor, was inclining to think that Caesar would
win, and therefore might take his side also. The constitutional opposition
would then be extremely strong; and even Pompey, fiercely as he had
spoken, doubted what to do. The question was raised in the Senate, whether
the tribunes' vetoes were to be regarded. Marcellus, who had flogged the
citizen of Como, voted for defying them, but the rest were timid. Pompey
did not know his own mind.[7] Caelius's account of his own feelings in
the matter represented probably those of many besides himself.

"In civil quarrels," he wrote to Cicero, "we ought to go with the most
honest party, as long as the contest lies within constitutional limits.
When it is an affair of camps and battles, we must go with the strongest.
Pompey will have the Senate and the men of consideration with him. All the
discontented will go with Caesar. I must calculate the forces on both
sides, before I decide on my own part." [8]

When the question next came on in the Senate, Curio, being of course
instructed in Caesar's wishes, professed to share the anxiety lest there
should be a military Dictatorship; but he said that the danger was as
great from Pompey as from Caesar. He did not object to the recall of
Caesar, but Pompey, he thought, should resign his province also, and the
Constitution would then be out of peril. Pompey professed to be willing,
if the Senate desired it; but he insisted that Caesar must take the first
step. Curio's proposal was so fair, that it gained favor both in Forum and
Senate. The populace, who hated Pompey, threw flowers upon the tribune as
he passed. Marcellus, the consul, a few days later, put the question in
the Senate: Was Caesar to be recalled? A majority answered Yes. Was Pompey
to be deprived of his province? The same majority said No. Curio then
proposed that both Pompey and Caesar should dismiss their armies. Out of
three hundred and ninety-two senators present, three hundred and seventy
agreed. Marcellus told them bitterly that they had voted themselves
Caesar's slaves. But they were not all insane with envy and hatred, and in
the midst of their terrors they retained some prudence, perhaps some
conscience and sense of justice. By this time, however, the messengers who
had been sent to communicate the Senate's views to Caesar had returned.
They brought no positive answer from himself; but they reported that
Caesar's troops were worn out and discontented, and certainly would refuse
to support him in any violent action. How false their account of the army
was, the Senate had soon reason to know; but it was true that one, and he
the most trusted officer that Caesar had, Labienus, who had fought through
so many battles with him in the Forum as well as in the field, whose high
talents and character his Commentaries could never praise sufficiently--it
was true that Labienus had listened to the offers made to him. Labienus
had made a vast fortune in the war. He perhaps thought, as other
distinguished officers have done, that he was the person that had won the
victories; that without him Caesar, who was being so much praised and
glorified, would have been nothing; and that he at least was entitled to
an equal share of the honors and rewards that might be coming; while if
Caesar was to be disgraced, he might have the whole recompense for
himself. Caesar heard of these overtures; but he had refused to believe
that Labienus could be untrue to him. He showed his confidence, and he
showed at the same time the integrity of his own intentions, by appointing
the officer who was suspected of betraying him Lieutenant-General of the
Cisalpine Province. None the less it was true that Labienus had been won
over. Labienus had undertaken for his comrades; and the belief that Caesar
could not depend on his troops renewed Pompey's courage and gave heart to
the faction which wished to precipitate extremities. The aspect of things
was now altered. What before seemed rash and dangerous might be safely
ventured. Caesar had himself followed the messengers to Ravenna. To raise
the passions of men to the desired heat, a report was spread that he had
brought his troops across and was marching on Rome. Curio hastened off to
him, to bring back under his own hand a distinct declaration of his views.

It was at this crisis, in the middle of the winter 50-49, that Cicero
returned to Rome. He had held his government but for two years, and
instead of escaping the catastrophe, he found himself plunged into the
heart of it. He had managed his province well. No one ever suspected
Cicero of being corrupt or unjust. He had gained some respectable
successes in putting down the Cilician banditti. He had been named
imperator by his soldiers in the field after an action in which he had
commanded; he had been flattering himself with the prospect of a triumph,
and had laid up money to meet the cost of it. The quarrel between the two
great men whom he had so long feared and flattered, and the necessity
which might be thrown on him of declaring publicly on one side or the
other, agitated him terribly. In October, as he was on his way home, he
expressed his anxieties with his usual frankness to Atticus.

"Consider the problem for me," he said, "as it affects myself: you advised
me to keep on terms both with Pompey and Caesar. You bade me adhere to one
because he had been good to me, and to the other because he was strong. I
have done so. I so ordered matters that no one could be dearer to either
of them than I was. I reflected thus: while I stand by Pompey, I cannot
hurt the Commonwealth; if I agree with Caesar, I need not quarrel with
Pompey; so closely they appeared to be connected. But now they are at a
sharp issue. Each regards me as his friend, unless Caesar dissembles;
while Pompey is right in thinking that what he proposes I shall approve. I
heard from both at the time at which I heard from you. Their letters were
most polite. What am I to do? I don't mean in extremities. If it comes to
fighting, it will be better to be defeated with one than to conquer with
the other. But when I arrive at Rome, I shall be required to say if Caesar
is to be proposed for the consulship in his absence, or if he is to
dismiss his army. What must I answer? Wait till I have consulted Atticus?
That will not do. Shall I go against Caesar? Where are Pompey's resources?
I myself took Caesar's part about it. He spoke to me on the subject at
Ravenna. I recommended his request to the tribunes as a reasonable one.
Pompey talked with me also to the same purpose. Am I to change my mind? I
am ashamed to oppose him now. Will you have a fool's opinion? I will apply
for a triumph, and so I shall have an excuse for not entering the city.
You will laugh. But oh, I wish I had remained in my province. Could I but
have guessed what was impending! Think for me. How shall I avoid
displeasing Caesar? He writes most kindly about a 'Thanksgiving' for my
success." [9]

Caesar had touched the right point in congratulating Cicero on his
military exploits. His friends in the Senate had been less delicate.
Bibulus had. been thanked for hiding from the Parthians. When Cicero had
hinted his expectations, the Senate had passed to the order of the day.

"Cato," he wrote, "treats me scurvily. He gives me praise for justice,
clemency, and integrity, which I did not want. What I did want he will not
let me have. Caesar promises me everything.--Cato has given a twenty days'
thanksgiving to Bibulus. Pardon me, if this is more than I can bear.--But
I am relieved from my worst fear. The Parthians have left Bibulus half
alive." [10]

The shame wore off as Cicero drew near to Rome. He blamed the tribunes for
insisting on what he had himself declared to be just. "Any way," he said,
"I stick to Pompey. When they say to me, Marcus Tullius, what do you
think? I shall answer, I go with Pompey; but privately I shall advise
Pompey to come to terms.--We have to do with a man full of audacity and
completely prepared. Every felon, every citizen who is in disgrace or
ought to be in disgrace, almost all the young, the city mob, the tribunes,
debtors, who are more numerous than I could have believed, all these are
with Caesar. He wants nothing but a good cause, and war is always
uncertain." [11]

Pompey had been unwell at the beginning of December, and had gone for a
few days into the country. Cicero met him on the 10th. "We were two hours
together," he said. "Pompey was delighted at my arrival. He spoke of my
triumph, and promised to do his part. He advised me to keep away from the
Senate, till it was arranged, lest I should offend the tribunes. He spoke
of war as certain. Not a word did he utter pointing to a chance of
compromise.--My comfort is that Caesar, to whom even his enemies had
allowed a second consulship, and to whom fortune had given so much power,
will not be so mad as to throw all this away." [12] Cicero had soon to
learn that the second consulship was not so certain. On the 29th he had
another long conversation with Pompey.

"Is there hope of peace?" he wrote, in reporting what had passed. "So far
as I can gather from his very full expressions to me, he does not desire
it. For he thinks thus: If Caesar be made consul, even after he has parted
from his army, the constitution will be at an end. He thinks also that
when Caesar hears of the preparations against him, he will drop the
consulship for this year, to keep his province and his troops. Should he
be so insane as to try extremities, Pompey holds him in utter contempt. I
thought, when he was speaking, of the uncertainties of war; but I was
relieved to hear a man of courage and experience talk like a statesman of
the dangers of an insincere settlement.--Not only he does not seek for
peace, but he seems to fear it.--My own vexation is, that I must pay
Caesar my debt, and spend thus what I had set apart for my triumph. It is
indecent to owe money to a political antagonist." [13]

Events were hurrying on. Cicero entered Rome the first week in January, to
find that the Senate had begun work in earnest. Curio had returned from
Ravenna with a letter from Caesar. He had offered three alternatives.
First, that the agreement already made might stand, and that he might be
nominated, in his absence, for the consulship; or that when he left his
army, Pompey should disband his Italian legions; or, lastly, that he
should hand over Transalpine Gaul to his successor, with eight of his ten
legions, himself keeping the north of Italy and Illyria with two, until
his election. It was the first of January. The new consuls, Lentulus and
Caius Marcellus, with the other magistrates, had entered on their offices,
and were in their places in the Senate. Pompey was present, and the letter
was introduced. The consuls objected to it being read, but they were
overruled by the remonstrances of the tribunes. The reading over, the
consuls forbade a debate upon it, and moved that the condition of the
Commonwealth should be taken into consideration. Lentulus, the more
impassioned of them, said that if the Senate would be firm, he would do
his duty; if they hesitated and tried conciliation, he should take care of
himself, and go over to Caesar's side. Metellus Scipio, Pompey's father-
in-law, spoke to the same purpose. Pompey, he said, was ready to support
the constitution, if the Senate were resolute. If they wavered, they would
look in vain for future help from him. Marcus Marcellus, the consul of the
preceding year, less wild than he had been when he flogged the Como
citizen, advised delay, at least till Pompey was better prepared.
Calidius, another senator, moved that Pompey should go to his province.
Caesar's resentment at the detention of the two legions from the Parthian
war he thought, was natural and justifiable. Marcus Rufus agreed with
Calidius. But moderation was borne down by the violence of Lentulus; and
the Senate, in spite of themselves,[14] voted, at Scipio's dictation,
that Caesar must dismiss his army before a day which was to be fixed, or,
in default, would be declared an enemy to the State. Two tribunes, Mark
Antony and Cassius Longinus, interposed. The tribunes' veto was as old as
their institution. It had been left standing even by Sylla. But the
aristocracy were declaring war against the people. They knew that the veto
was coming, and they had resolved to disregard it. The more passionate the
speakers, the more they were cheered by Caesar's enemies. The sitting
ended in the evening without a final conclusion; but at a meeting
afterwards, at his house, Pompey quieted alarms by assuring the senators
that there was nothing to fear. Caesar's army he knew to be disaffected.
He introduced the officers of the two legions that had been taken from
Caesar, who vouched for their fidelity to the constitution. Some of
Pompey's veterans were present, called up from their farms; they were
enthusiastic for their old commander. Piso, Caesar's father-in-law, and
Roscius, a praetor, begged for a week's delay, that they might go to
Caesar, and explain the Senate's pleasure. Others proposed to send a
deputation to soften the harshness of his removal. But Lentulus, backed by
Cato, would listen to nothing. Cato detested Caesar as the representative
of everything which he most abhorred. Lentulus, bankrupt and loaded with
debts, was looking for provinces to ruin, and allied sovereigns to lay
presents at his feet. He boasted that he would be a second Sylla.[15]
When the Senate met again in their places, the tribunes' veto was
disallowed. They ordered a general levy through Italy. The consuls gave
Pompey the command-in-chief, with the keys of the treasury. The Senate
redistributed the provinces; giving Syria to Scipio, and in Caesar's place
appointing Domitius Ahenobarbus, the most inveterate and envenomed of his
enemies. Their authority over the provinces had been taken from them by
law, but law was set aside. Finally, they voted the State in danger,
suspended the constitution, and gave the consuls absolute power.

The final votes were taken on the 7th of January. A single week had
sufficed for a discussion of the resolutions on which the fate of Rome
depended. The Senate pretended to be defending the constitution. They had
themselves destroyed the constitution, and established on the ruins of it
a senatorial oligarchy. The tribunes fled at once to Caesar. Pompey left
the city for Campania, to join his two legions and superintend the levies.

The unanimity which had appeared in the Senate's final determination was
on the surface only. Cicero, though present in Rome, had taken no part,
and looked on in despair. The "good" were shocked at Pompey's
precipitation. They saw that a civil war could end only in a despotism.
[16] "I have not met one man," Cicero said, "who does not think it would
be better to make concessions to Caesar than to fight him.--Why fight now?
Things are no worse than when we gave him his additional five years, or
agreed to let him be chosen consul in his absence. You wish for my
opinion. I think we ought to use every means to escape war. But I must say
what Pompey says. I cannot differ from Pompey." [17]

A day later, before the final vote had been taken, he thought still that
the Senate was willing to let Caesar keep his province, if he would
dissolve his army. The moneyed interests, the peasant landholders, were
all on Caesar's side; they cared not even if monarchy came so that they
might have peace. "We could have resisted Caesar easily when he was weak,"
he wrote. "Now he has eleven legions and as many cavalry as he chooses
with him, the Cisalpine provincials, the Roman populace, the tribunes, and
the hosts of dissolute young men. Yet we are to fight with him, or take
account of him unconstitutionally. Fight, you say, rather than be a slave.
Fight for what? To be proscribed, if you are beaten; to be a slave still,
if you win. What will you do then? you ask. As the sheep follows the flock
and the ox the herd, so will I follow the 'good,' or those who are called
good, but I see plainly what will come out of this sick state of ours. No
one knows what the fate of war may be. But if the 'good' are beaten, this
much is certain, that Caesar will be as bloody as Cinna, and as greedy of
other men's properties as Sylla." [18]

Once more, and still in the midst of uncertainty:

"The position is this: We must either let Caesar stand for the consulship,
he keeping his army with the Senate's consent, or supported by the
tribunes; or we must persuade him to resign his province and his army, and
so to be consul; or if he refuses, the elections can be held without him,
he keeping his province; or if he forbids the election through the
tribunes, we can hang on and come to an interrex; or, lastly, if he brings
his army on us, we can fight. Should this be his choice, he will either
begin at once, before we are ready, or he will wait till his election,
when his friends will put in his name and it will not be received. His
plea may then be the ill-treatment of himself, or it may be complicated
further should a tribune interpose and be deprived of office, and so take
refuge with him.... You will say persuade Caesar, then, to give up his
army, and be consul. Surely, if he will agree, no objection can be raised;
and if he is not allowed to stand while he keeps his army, I wonder that
he does not let it go. But a certain person (Pompey) thinks that nothing
is so much to be feared as that Caesar should be consul. Better thus, you
will say, than with an army. No doubt. But a certain person holds that his
consulship would be an irremediable misfortune. We must yield if Caesar
will have it so. He will be consul again, the same man that he was before;
then, weak as he was, he proved stronger than the whole of us. What, think
you, will he be now? Pompey, for one thing, will surely be sent to Spain.
Miserable every way; and the worst is, that Caesar cannot be refused, and
by consenting will be taken into supreme favor by all the 'good.' They
say, however, that he cannot be brought to this. Well, then, which is the
worst of the remaining alternatives? Submit to what Pompey calls an
impudent demand? Caesar has held his province for ten years. The Senate
did not give it him. He took it himself by faction and violence. Suppose
he had it lawfully, the time is up. His successor is named. He disobeys.
He says that he ought to be considered. Let him consider us. Will he keep
his army beyond the time for which the people gave it to him, in despite
of the Senate? We must fight him then, and, as Pompey says, we shall
conquer or die free men. If fight we must, time will show when or how. But
if you have any advice to give, let me know it, for I am tormented day and
night." [19]

These letters give a vivid picture of the uncertainties which distracted
public opinion during the fatal first week of January. Caesar, it seems,
might possibly have been consul had he been willing to retire at once into
the condition of a private citizen, even though Pompey was still
undisarmed. Whether in that position he would have lived to see the
election-day is another question. Cicero himself, it will be seen, had
been reflecting already that there were means less perilous than civil war
by which dangerous persons might be got rid of. And there were weak points
in his arguments which his impatience passed over. Caesar held a positive
engagement about his consulship, which the people had ratified. Of the ten
years which the people had allowed him, one was unexpired, and the Senate
had no power to vote his recall without the tribunes' and the people's
consent. He might well hesitate to put himself in the power of a faction
so little scrupulous. It is evident, however, that Pompey and the two
consuls were afraid that, if such overtures were made to him by a
deputation from the Senate, he might perhaps agree to them; and by their
rapid and violent vote they put an end to the possibility of an
arrangement. Caesar, for no other crime than that as a brilliant
democratic general he was supposed dangerous to the oligarchy, had been
recalled from his command in the face of the prohibition of the tribunes,
and was declared an enemy of his country unless he instantly submitted.
After the experience of Marius and Sylla, the Senate could have paid no
higher compliment to Caesar's character than in believing that he would
hesitate over his answer.

[1] "Caelius ad Ciceronem," _Ad Fam_. viii. 10.

[2] _Ibid_.

[3] Suetonius, _De Vita Julii Caesaris_.

[4] "Marcellus foede do Comensi. Etsi ille magistratum non gesserat, erat
tamen Transpadanus. Ita mihi videtur non minus stomachi nostro ac
Caesari fecisse."--_To Atticus_, v. 11.

[5] "Quod ad Caesarem crebri et non belli de eo rumores. Sed susurratores
dumtaxat veniunt.... Neque adhuc certi quidquam est, neque haec
incerta tamen vulgo jactantur. Sed inter paucos, quos tu nosti,
palam secreto narrantur. At Domitius cum manus ad os
apposuit!"--Caelius to Cicero, _Ad Fam_. viii. 1.

[6] Caelius to Cicero, _Ad Fam_. viii. 8.

[7] _Ibid_., viii. 13.

[8] Caelius to Cicero, _Ad Fam_. viii. 14.

[9] _To Atticus_, vii. 1, abridged.

[10] _Ibid._, vii. 2.

[11] _Ibid._, vii. 3.

[12] _To Atticus_, vii. 4.

[13] "Mihi autem illud molestissimum est, quod solvendi sunt nummi
Caesari, et instrumentum triumphi eo conferendum. Est [Greek: amorphon
hantipoliteuomenou chreopheiletaen] esse."--_Ibid_., vii. 8.

[14] "Inviti et coacti" is Caesar's expression. He wished, perhaps, to
soften the Senate's action. (_De Bello Civili_, i. 2.)

[15] "Seque alterum fore Sullam inter suos gloriatur."--_De Bello
Civili_, i. 4.

[16] "Tum certe tyrannus existet."--_To Atticus_, vii. 5.

[17] _To Atticus_, vii. 6.

[18] _Ibid_., vii. 7, abridged.

[19] _To Atticus_, vii. 9, abridged.


Caesar, when the report of the Senate's action reached him, addressed his
soldiers. He had but one legion with him, the 13th. But one legion would
represent the rest. He told them what the Senate had done, and why they
had done it. "For nine years he and his army had served their country
loyally and with some success. They had driven the Germans over the Rhine;
they had made Gaul a Roman province; and the Senate for answer had broken
the constitution, and had set aside the tribunes because they spoke in his
defence. They had voted the State in danger, and had called Italy to arms
when no single act had been done by himself to justify them." The soldiers
whom--Pompey supposed disaffected declared with enthusiasm that they would
support their commander and the tribunes. They offered to serve without
pay. Officers and men volunteered contributions for the expenses of the
war. In all the army one officer alone proved false. Labienus kept his
word to Pompey and stole away to Capua. He left his effects behind, and
Caesar sent them after him untouched.

Finding that all the rest could be depended on, he sent back over the Alps
for two more legions to follow him. He crossed the little river Rubicon,
which bounded his province, and advanced to Rimini, where he met the
tribunes, Antony, Cassius Longinus, and Curio, who were coming to him from
Rome.[1] At Rimini the troops were again assembled. Curio told
them what had passed. Caesar added a few more words. The legionaries,
officers and privates, were perfectly satisfied; and Caesar, who, a
resolution once taken, struck as swiftly as his own eagles, was preparing
to go forward. He had but 5,000 men with him, but he understood the state
of Italy, and knew that he had nothing to fear. At this moment Lucius
Caesar, a distant kinsman, and the praetor Roscius arrived, as they said,
with a private message from Pompey. The message was nothing. The object
was no more than to gain time. But Caesar had no wish for war, and would
not throw away a chance of avoiding it. He bade his kinsman tell Pompey
that it was for him to compose the difficulties which had arisen without a
collision. He had been himself misrepresented to his countrymen. He had
been recalled from his command before his time; the promise given to him
about his consulship had been broken. He had endured these injuries. He
had proposed to the Senate that the forces on both sides should be
disbanded. The Senate had refused. A levy had been ordered through Italy,
and the legions designed for Parthia had been retained. Such an attitude
could have but one meaning. Yet he was still ready to make peace. Let
Pompey depart to Spain. His own troops should then be dismissed. The
elections could be held freely, and Senate and people would be restored to
their joint authority. If this was not enough, they two might meet and
relieve each other's alarms and suspicions in a personal interview.

With this answer the envoys went, and Caesar paused at Rimini. Meanwhile
the report reached Rome that Caesar had crossed the Rubicon. The
aristocracy had nursed the pleasant belief that his heart would fail him,
or that his army would desert him. His heart had not failed, his army had
not deserted; and, in their terror, they saw him already in their midst
like an avenging Marius. He was coming. His horse had been seen on the
Apennines. Flight, instant flight, was the only safety. Up they rose,
consuls, praetors, senators, leaving wives and children and property to
their fate, not halting even to take the money out of the treasury, but
contenting themselves with leaving it locked. On foot, on horseback, in
litters, in carriages, they fled for their lives to find safety under
Pompey's wing in Capua. In this forlorn company went Cicero, filled with
contempt for what was round him.

"You ask what Pompey means to do," he wrote to Atticus. "I do not think he
knows himself. Certainly none of us know.--It is all panic and blunder. We
are uncertain whether he will make a stand, or leave Italy. If he stays, I
fear his army is too unreliable. If not, where will he go, and how and
what are his plans? Like you, I am afraid that Caesar will be a Phalaris,
and that we may expect the very worst. The flight of the Senate, the
departure of the magistrates, the closing of the treasury, will not stop
him.--I am broken-hearted; so ill-advisedly, so against all my counsels,
the whole business has been conducted. Shall I turn my coat, and join the
victors? I am ashamed. Duty forbids me; but I am miserable at the thought
of my children." [2]

A gleam of hope came with the arrival of Labienus, but it soon clouded.
"Labienus is a hero," Cicero said. "Never was act more splendid. If
nothing else comes of it, he has at least made Caesar smart.--We have a
civil war on us, not because we have quarrelled among ourselves, but
through one abandoned citizen. But this citizen has a strong army, and a
large party attached to him.--What he will do I cannot say; he cannot even
pretend to do anything constitutionally; but what is to become of us, with
a general that cannot lead?--To say nothing of ten years of blundering,
what could have been worse than this flight from Rome? His next purpose I
know not. I ask, and can have no answer. All is cowardice and confusion.
He was kept at home to protect us, and protection there is none. The one
hope is in two legions invidiously detained and almost not belonging to
us. As to the levies, the men enlist unwillingly, and hate the notion of a
war." [3]

In this condition of things Lucius Caesar arrived with the answer from
Rimini. A council of war was held at Teano to consider it; and the flames
which had burnt so hotly at the beginning of the month were found to have
somewhat cooled. Cato's friend Favonius was still defiant; but the rest,
even Cato himself, had grown more modest. Pompey, it was plain, had no
army, and could not raise an army. Caesar spoke fairly. It might be only
treachery; but the Senate had left their families and their property in
Rome. The public money was in Rome. They were willing to consent that
Caesar should be consul, since so it must be. Unluckily for themselves,
they left Pompey to draw up their reply. Pompey intrusted the duty to an
incapable person named Sestius, and the answer was ill-written, awkward,
and wanting on the only point which would have proved his sincerity.
Pompey declined the proposed interview. Caesar must evacuate Rimini, and
return to his province; afterwards, at some time unnamed, Pompey would go
to Spain, and other matters should be arranged to Caesar's satisfaction.
Caesar must give securities that he would abide by his promise to dismiss
his troops; and meanwhile the consular levies would be continued.[4]

To Cicero these terms seemed to mean a capitulation clumsily disguised.
Caesar interpreted them differently. To him it appeared that he was
required to part with his own army, while Pompey was forming another. No
time was fixed for the departure to Spain. He might be himself named
consul, yet Pompey might be in Italy to the end of the year with an army
independent of him. Evidently there was distrust on both sides, yet on
Caesar's part a distrust not undeserved. Pompey would not see him. He had
admitted to Cicero that he desired a war to prevent Caesar from being
consul, and at this very moment was full of hopes and schemes for carrying
it on successfully. "Pompey writes," reported Cicero on the 28th of
January, "that in a few days he will have a force on which he can rely. He
will occupy Picenum,[5] and we are then to return to Rome. Labienus
assures him that Caesar is utterly weak. Thus he is in better spirits."

[Sidenote: February, B.C. 49.]
A second legion had by this time arrived at Rimini. Caesar considered that
if the Senate really desired peace, their disposition would be quickened
by further pressure. He sent Antony across the mountains to Arezzo, on the
straight road to Rome; and he pushed on himself toward Ancona, before
Pompey had time to throw himself in the way. The towns on the way opened
their gates to him. The municipal magistrates told the commandants that
they could not refuse to entertain Caius Caesar, who had done such great
things for the Republic. The officers fled. The garrisons joined Caesar's
legions. Even a colony planted by Labienus sent a deputation with offers
of service. Steadily and swiftly in gathering volume the army of the north
came on. At Capua all was consternation. "The consuls are helpless,"
Cicero said. "There has been no levy. The commissioners do not even try to
excuse their failure. With Caesar pressing forward and our general doing
nothing, men will not give in their names. The will is not wanting, but
they are without hope. Pompey, miserable and incredible though it be, is
prostrate. He has no courage, no purpose, no force, no energy.... Caius
Cassius came on the 7th to Capua, with an order from Pompey to the consuls
to go to Rome and bring away the money from the treasury. How are they to
go without an escort, or how return? The consuls say he must go himself
first to Picenum. But Picenum is lost.--Caesar will soon be in Apulia, and
Pompey on board ship. What shall I do? I should not doubt had there not
been such shameful mis-management, and had I been myself consulted. Caesar
invites me to peace, but his letter was written before his advance." [7]

Desperate at the lethargy of their commander, the aristocracy tried to
force him into movement by acting on their own account. Domitius, who had
been appointed Caesar's successor, was most interested in his defeat. He
gathered a party of young lords and knights and a few thousand men, and
flung himself into Corfinium, a strong position in the Apennines, directly
in Caesar's path. Pompey had still his two legions, and Domitius sent an
express to tell him that Caesar's force was still small, and that with a
slight effort he might enclose him in the mountains. Meanwhile Domitius
himself tried to break the bridge over the Pescara. He was too late.
Caesar had by this time nearly 30,000 men. The Cisalpine territories in
mere enthusiasm had raised twenty-two cohorts for him. He reached the
Pescara while the bridge was still standing. He surrounded Corfinium with
the impregnable lines which had served him so well in Gaul, and the
messenger sent to Capua came back with cold comfort. Pompey had simply
ordered Domitius to retreat from a position which he ought not to have
occupied, and to join him in Apulia. It was easy to say Retreat! No
retreat was possible. Domitius and his companions proposed to steal away
in the night. They were discovered. Their own troops arrested them, and
carried them as prisoners to Caesar. Fortune had placed in his hands at
the outset of the campaign the man who beyond others had been the occasion
of it. Domitius would have killed Caesar like a bandit if he had caught
him. He probably expected a similar fate for himself. Caesar received his
captives calmly and coldly. He told them that they had made an ungrateful
return to him for his services to his country; and then dismissed them
all, restoring even Domitius's well-filled military chest, and too proud
to require a promise from him that he would abstain personally from
further hostility. His army, such as it was, followed the general example,
and declared for Caesar.

The capture of Corfinium and the desertion of the garrison made an end of
hesitation. Pompey and the consuls thought only of instant flight, and
hurried to Brindisi, where ships were waiting for them; and Caesar, hoping
that the evident feeling of Italy would have its effect with the
reasonable part of the Senate, sent Cornelius Balbus, who was on intimate
terms with many of them, to assure them of his eagerness for peace, and to
tell Cicero especially that he would be well contented to live under
Pompey's rule if he could have a guarantee for his personal safety.[8]

[Sidenote: March B.C. 49.]
Cicero's trials had been great, and were not diminishing. The account
given by Balbus was simply incredible to him. If Caesar was really as well
disposed as Balbus represented, then the senatorial party, himself
included, had acted like a set of madmen. It might be assumed, therefore,
that Caesar was as meanly ambitious, as selfish, as revolutionary as their
fears had represented him, and that his mildness was merely affectation.
But what then? Cicero wished for himself to be on the right side, but also
to be on the safe side. Pompey's was the right side, the side, that is,
which, for his own sake, he would prefer to see victorious. But was
Pompey's the safe side? or rather, would it be safe to go against him? The
necessity for decision was drawing closer. If Pompey and the consuls went
abroad, all loyal senators would be expected to follow them, and to stay
behind would be held treason. Italy was with Caesar; but the East, with
its treasures, its fleets, its millions of men, this was Pompey's, heart
and soul. The sea was Pompey's. Caesar might win for the moment, but
Pompey might win in the long run. The situation was most perplexing.
Before the fall of Corfinium, Cicero had poured himself out upon it to his
friend. "My connections, personal and political," he said, "attach me to
Pompey. If I stay behind, I desert my noble and admirable companions, and
I fall into the power of a man whom I know not how far I can trust. He
shows in many ways that he wishes me well. I saw the tempest impending,
and I long ago took care to secure his good-will. But suppose him to be my
friend indeed, is it becoming in a good and valiant citizen, who has held
the highest offices and done such distinguished things, to be in the power
of any man? Ought I to expose myself to the danger, and perhaps disgrace,
which would lie before me, should Pompey recover his position? This on one
side; but now look at the other. Pompey has shown neither conduct nor
courage, and he has acted throughout against my advice and judgment. I
pass over his old errors: how he himself armed this man against the
constitution; how he supported his laws by violence in the face of the
auspices; how he gave him Further Gaul, married his daughter, supported
Clodius, helped me back from exile indeed, but neglected me afterward; how
he prolonged Caesar's command, and backed him up in everything; how in his
third consulship, when he had begun to defend the constitution, he yet
moved the tribunes to curry a resolution for taking Caesar's name in his
absence, and himself sanctioned it by a law of his own; how he resisted
Marcus Marcellus, who would have ended Caesar's government on the 1st of
March. Let us forget all this: but what was ever more disgraceful than the
flight from Rome? What conditions would not have been preferable? He will
restore the constitution, you say, but when? by what means? Is not Picenum
lost? Is not the road open to the city? Is not our money, public and
private, all the enemy's? There is no cause, no rallying point for the
friends of the constitution.... The rabble are all for Caesar, and many
wish for revolution.... I saw from the first that Pompey only thought of
flight: if I now follow him, whither are we to go? Caesar will seize my
brother's property and mine, ours perhaps sooner than others', as an
assault on us would be popular. If I stay, I shall do no more than many
good men did in Cinna's time.--Caesar may be my friend, not certainly, but
perhaps; and he may offer me a triumph which it would be dangerous to
refuse, and invidious with the "good" to accept. Oh, most perplexing
position!--while I write, word comes that Caesar is at Corfinium. Domitius
is inside, with a strong force and eager to fight. I cannot think Pompey
will desert him." [9]

[Sidenote: February, B.C. 49.]
Pompey did desert Domitius, as has been seen. The surrender of Corfinium,
and the circumstances of it, gave Cicero the excuse which he evidently
desired to find for keeping clear of a vessel that appeared to him to be
going straight to shipwreck. He pleased himself with inventing evil
purposes for Pompey, to justify his leaving him. He thought it possible
that Domitius and his friends might have been purposely left to fall into
Caesar's hands, in the hope that Caesar would kill them and make himself
unpopular. Pompey, he was satisfied, meant as much to be a despot as
Caesar. Pompey might have defended Rome, if he had pleased; but his
purpose was to go away and raise a great fleet and a great Asiatic army,
and come back and ruin Italy, and be a new "Sylla." [10] In his distress
Cicero wrote both to Caesar and to Pompey, who was now at Brindisi. To
Caesar he said that, if he wished for peace, he might command his
services. He had always considered that Caesar had been wronged in the
course which had been pursued toward him. Envy and ill-nature had tried to
rob him of the honors which had been conferred on him by the Roman people.
He protested that he had himself supported Caesar's claims, and had
advised others to do the same. But he felt for Pompey also, he said, and
would gladly be of service to him.[11]

To Pompey he wrote:

[Sidenote: March, B.C. 49.]
"My advice was always for peace, even on hard terms. I wished you to
remain in Rome. You never hinted that you thought of leaving Italy. I
accepted your opinion, not for the constitution's sake, for I despaired of
saving it. The constitution is gone, and cannot be restored without a
destructive war; but I wished to be with you, and if I can join you now, I
will. I know well that my conduct has not pleased those who desired to
fight. I urged peace; not because I did not fear what they feared, but
because I thought peace a less evil than war. When the war had begun and
overtures were made to you, you responded so amply and so honorably that I
hoped I had prevailed.... I was never more friendly with Caesar than they
were; nor were they more true to the State than I. The difference between
us is this, that while they and I are alike good citizens, I preferred an
arrangement, and you, I thought, agreed with me. They chose to fight, and
as their counsels have been taken, I can but do my duty as a member of the
Commonwealth, and as a friend to you." [12]

* * * * *

In this last sentence Cicero gives his clear opinion that the aristocracy
had determined upon war, and that for this reason and no other the
attempted negotiations had failed. Caesar, hoping that a better feeling
might arise after his dismissal of Domitius, had waited a few days at
Corfinium. Finding that Pompey had gone to Brindisi, he then followed,
trusting to overtake him before he could leave Italy, and again by
messengers pressed him earnestly for an interview. By desertions, and by
the accession of volunteers, Caesar had now six legions with him. If
Pompey escaped, he knew that the war would be long and dangerous. If he
could capture him, or persuade him to an agreement, peace could easily be
preserved. When he arrived outside the town, the consuls with half the
army had already gone. Pompey was still in Brindisi, with 12,000 men,
waiting till the transports could return to carry him after them. Pompey
again refused to see Caesar, and, in the absence of the consuls, declined
further discussion. Caesar tried to blockade him, but for want of ships
was unable to close the harbor. The transports came back, and Pompey
sailed for Durazzo.[13]

A few extracts and abridgments of letters will complete the picture of
this most interesting time.

_Cicero to Atticus_.[14]

"Observe the man into whose hands we have fallen. How keen he is, how
alert, how well prepared! By Jove, if he does not kill any one, and spares
the property of those who are so terrified, he will be in high favor. I
talk with the tradesmen and farmers. They care for nothing but their
lands, and houses, and money. They have gone right round. They fear the
man they trusted, and love the man they feared; and all this through our
own blunders. I am sick to think of it."

_Balbus to Cicero_.[15]

"Pompey and Caesar have been divided by perfidious villains. I beseech
you, Cicero, use your influence to bring them together again. Believe me,
Caesar will not only do all you wish, but will hold you to have done him
essential service. Would that I could say as much of Pompey, who I rather
wish than hope may be brought to terms! You have pleased Caesar by begging
Lentulus to stay in Italy, and you have more than pleased me. If he will
listen to you, will trust to what I tell him of Caesar, and will go back
to Rome, between you and him and the Senate, Caesar and Pompey may be
reconciled. If I can see this, I shall have lived long enough. I know you
will approve of Caesar's conduct at Corfinium."

_Cicero to Atticus_.[16]

"My preparations are complete. I wait till I can go by the upper sea; I
cannot go by the lower at this season. I must start soon, lest I be
detained. I do not go for Pompey's sake. I have long known him to be the
worst of politicians, and I know him now for the worst of generals. I go
because I am sneered at by the optimates. Precious optimates! What are
they about now? Selling themselves to Caesar? The towns receive Caesar as
a god. When this Pisistratus does them no harm, they are as grateful to
him as if he had protected them from others. What receptions will they not
give him? What honors will they not heap upon him? They are afraid, are
they? By Hercules, it is Pompey that they are afraid of. Caesar's
treacherous clemency enchants them. Who are these optimates, that insist
that I must leave Italy, while they remain? Let them be who they may, I am
ashamed to stay, though I know what to expect. I shall join a man who
means not to conquer Italy, but to lay it waste."

_Cicero to Atticus_.[17]

"Ought a man to remain in his country after it has fallen under a tyranny?
Ought a man to use any means to overthrow a tyranny, though he may ruin
his country in doing it? Ought he not rather to try to mend matters by
argument as opportunity offers? Is it right to make war on one's country
for the sake of liberty? Should a man adhere at all risks to one party,
though he considers them on the whole to have been a set of fools? Is a
person who has been his country's greatest benefactor, and has been
rewarded by envy and ill usage, to volunteer into danger for such a party?
May he not retire, and live quietly with his family, and leave public
affairs to their fate?

"I amused myself as times passes with these speculations."

_Cicero to Atticus_.[18]

"Pompey has sailed. I am pleased to find that you approve of my remaining.
My efforts now are to persuade Caesar to allow me to be absent from the
Senate, which is soon to meet. I fear he will refuse. I have been deceived
in two points. I expected an arrangement; and now I perceive that Pompey
has resolved upon a cruel and deadly war. By Heaven, he would have shown
himself a better citizen, and a better man, had he borne anything sooner
than have taken in hand such a purpose."

_Cicero to Atticus_.[19]

"Pompey is aiming at a monarchy after the type of Sylla. I know what I
say. Never did he show his hand more plainly. Has he not a good cause? The
very best. But mark me, it will be carried out most foully. He means to
strangle Rome and Italy with famine, and then waste and burn the country,
and seize the property of all who have any. Caesar may do as ill; but the
prospect is frightful. The fleets from Alexandria, Colchis, Sidon, Cyprus,
Pamphylia, Lycia, Rhodes, Chios, Byzantium, will be employed to cut off
our supplies, and then Pompey himself will come in his wrath."

_Cicero to Atticus_.[20]

"I think I have been mad from the beginning of this business. Why did not
I follow Pompey when things were at their worst? I found him (at Capua)
full of fears. I knew then what he would do, and I did not like it. He
made blunder on blunder. He never wrote to me, and only thought of flight.
It was disgraceful. But now my love for him revives. Books and philosophy
please me no more. Like the sad bird, I gaze night and day over the sea,
and long to fly away.[21] Were flight the worst, it would be nothing,
but I dread this terrible war, the like of which has never been seen. The
word will be, 'Sylla could do thus and thus; and why should not I?' Sylla,
Marius, Cinna, had each a constitutional cause, yet how cruel was their
victory! I shrank from war because I saw that something still more cruel
was now intended. I, whom some have called the saviour and parent of my
country! I to bring Getes, and Armenians, and Colchians upon Italy! I to
famish my fellow-citizens and waste their lands! Caesar, I reflected, was
in the first place but mortal; and then there were many ways in which he
might be got rid of.[22] But, as you say, the sun has fallen out of the
sky. The sick man thinks that while there is life there is hope. I
continued to hope as long as Pompey was in Italy. Now your letters are my
only consolation."

* * * * *

"Caesar was but mortal!" The rapture with which Cicero hailed Caesar's
eventual murder explains too clearly the direction in which his thoughts
were already running. If the life of Caesar alone stood between his
country and the resurrection of the constitution, Cicero might well think,
as others have done, that it was better that one man should die rather
than the whole nation perish. We read the words with sorrow, and yet with
pity. That Cicero, after his past flatteries of Caesar, after the praises
which he was yet to heap on him, should yet have looked on his
assassination as a thing to be desired, throws a saddening light upon his
inner nature. But the age was sick with a moral plague, and neither strong
nor weak, wise nor unwise, bore any antidote against infection.

[1] The vision on the Rubicon, with the celebrated saying that "the die is
cast," is unauthenticated, and not at all consistent with Caesar's

[2] _Ibid_., vii. 12.

[3] "Delectus ... invitorum est et pugnando ab horrentium."--_To
Atticus_, vii. 13.

[4] Compare Caesar's account of these conditions, _De Bello Civili_,
i. 10, with _Cicero to Atticus_, vii. 17.

[5] Between the Apennines and the Adriatic, about Ancona; in the line of
Caesar's march should he advance from Kimini.

[6] _To Atticus_, vii. 16.

[7] _Ibid_., vii. 21.

[8] "Balbus quidem major ad me scribit, nihil malle Caesarem, quam
principe Pompeio sine metu vivere. Tu puto haec credis."--_To
Atticus_, viii. 9.

[9] _To Atticus_, viii. 3.

[10] _To Atticus_, viii. 11.

[11] "Judicavique te bello violari, contra cujus honorem, populi Romani
beneficio concessum, inimici atque invidi niterentur. Sed ut eo
tempore non modo ipse fautor dignitatis tuae fui, verum etiam
caeteris auctor ad te adjuvandum, sic me nunc Pompeii dignitas
vehementer movet," etc.--_Cicero to Caesar, enclosed in a letter to
Atticus_, ix. 11.

[12] Enclosed to Atticus, viii. 11.

[13] Pompey had for _two years_ meditated on the course which he was
now taking. Atticus had spoken of the intended flight from Italy as
base. Cicero answers: "Hoc turpe Cnaeus noster biennio ante cogitavit:
ita Sullaturit animus ejus, et diu proscripturit;" "so he apes Sylla
and longs for a proscription."--_To Atticus_, ix. 10.

[14] _To Atticus_, viii. 13.

[15] Enclosed to Atticus, viii. 15.

[16] _To Atticus_, viii. 16.

[17] _To Atticus_, ix. 4.

[18] _Ibid_., ix. 6.

[19] _To Atticus_, ix. 7 and 9.

[20] _Ibid_.

[21] "Ita dies et noctes tanquam avis illa mare prospecto, evolare cupio."

[22] "Hunc primum mortalem esse, deinde etiam multis modis extingui posse
cogitabam."--_To Atticus_, ix. 10.


[Sidenote: April B.C. 49.]
Pompey was gone, gone to cover the Mediterranean with fleets which were to
starve Italy, and to raise an army which was to bring him back to play
Sylla's game once more. The consuls had gone with him, more than half
the Senate, and the young patricians, the descendants of the Metelli and
the Scipios, with the noble nature melted out of them, and only the pride
remaining. Caesar would have chased them at once, and have allowed them no
time to organize, but ships were wanting, and he could not wait to form a
fleet. Pompey's lieutenants, Afranius and Petreius and Varro, were in
Spain, with six legions and the levies of the Province. These had to be
promptly dealt with, and Sicily and Sardinia, on which Rome depended for
its corn, had to be cleared of enemies, and placed in trustworthy hands.
He sent Curio to Sicily and Valerius to Sardinia. Both islands surrendered
without resistance, Cato, who was in command in Messina, complaining
openly that he had been betrayed. Caesar went himself to Rome, which he
had not seen for ten years. He met Cicero by appointment on the road, and
pressed him to attend the Senate. Cicero's example, he said, would govern
the rest. If his account of the interview be true, Cicero showed more
courage than might have been expected from his letters to Atticus. He
inquired whether, if he went, he might speak as he pleased; he could not
consent to blame Pompey, and he should say that he disapproved of attacks
upon him, either in Greece or Spain. Caesar said that he could not permit
language of this kind. Cicero answered that he thought as much, and
therefore preferred to stay away.[1]Caesar let him take his own course,
and went on by himself. The consuls being absent, the Senate was convened
by the tribunes, Mark Antony and Cassius Longinus, both officers in
Caesar's army. The house was thin, but those present were cold and
hostile. They knew by this time that they need fear no violence. They
interpreted Caesar's gentleness into timidity, but they were satisfied
that, let them do what they pleased, he would not injure them. He
addressed the Senate with his usual clearness and simplicity. He had
asked, he said, for no extraordinary honors. He had waited the legal
period of ten years for a second consulship. A promise had been given that
his name should be submitted, and that promise had been withdrawn. He
dwelt on his forbearance, on the concessions which he had offered, and
again on his unjust recall, and the violent suppression of the legal
authority of the tribunes. He had proposed terms of peace, he said; he had
asked for interviews, but all in vain. If the Senate feared to commit
themselves by assisting him, he declared his willingness to carry on the
government in his own name; but he invited them to send deputies to
Pompey, to treat for an arrangement.

The Senate approved of sending a deputation; but Pompey had sworn, on
leaving, that he would hold all who had not joined him as his enemies; no
one, therefore, could be found willing to go. Three days were spent in
unmeaning discussion, and Caesar's situation did not allow of trifling.
With such people nothing could be done, and peace could be won only by the
sword. By an edict of his own he restored the children of the victims of
Sylla's proscription to their civil rights and their estates, the usurpers
being mostly in Pompey's camp. The assembly of the people voted him the
money in the treasury. Metellus, a tribune in Pompey's interest, forbade
the opening of the doors, but he was pushed out of the way. Cesar took
such money as he needed, and went with his best speed to join his troops
in Gaul.

His singular gentleness had encouraged the opposition to him in Rome. In
Gaul he encountered another result of his forbearance more practically
trying. The Gauls themselves, though so lately conquered in so desperate a
struggle, remained quiet. Then, if ever, they had an opportunity of
reasserting their independence. They not only did not take advantage of
it, but, as if they disdained the unworthy treatment of their great enemy,
each tribe sent him, at his request, a body of horse, led by the bravest
of their chiefs. His difficulty came from a more tainted source.
Marseilles, the most important port in the western Mediterranean, the gate
through which the trade of the Province passed in and out, had revolted to
Pompey. Domitius Ahenobarbus, who had been dismissed at Corfinium, had
been despatched to encourage and assist the townspeople with a squadron of
Pompey's fleet. When Caesar arrived, Marseilles closed its gates, and
refused to receive him. He could not afford to leave behind him an open
door into the Province, and he could ill spare troops for a siege.
Afranius and Petreius were already over the Ebro with 30,000 legionaries
and with nearly twice as many Spanish auxiliaries. Yet Marseilles must be
shut in, and quickly. Fabius was sent forward to hold the passes of the
Pyrenees. Caesar's soldiers were set to work in the forest. Trees were cut
down and sawn into planks. In thirty days twelve stout vessels, able to
hold their own against Domitius, were built and launched and manned. The
fleet thus extemporized was trusted to Decimus Brutus. Three legions were
left to make approaches, and, if possible, to take the town on the land
side; and, leaving Marseilles blockaded by sea and land, Caesar hurried on
to the Spanish frontier. The problem before him was worthy of his genius.
A protracted war in the peninsula would be fatal. Pompey would return to
Italy, and there would be no one to oppose him there. The Spanish army had
to be destroyed or captured, and that immediately; and it was stronger
than Caesar's own, and was backed by all the resources of the province.

The details of a Roman campaign are no longer interesting. The results,
with an outline of the means by which they were brought about, alone
concern the modern reader. Pompey's lieutenant, having failed to secure
the passes, was lying at Lerida, in Catalonia, at the junction of the
Segre and the Naguera, with the Ebro behind them, and with a mountain
range, the Sierra de Llena, on their right flank. Their position was
impregnable to direct attack. From their rear they drew inexhaustible
supplies. The country in front had been laid waste to the Pyrenees, and
everything which Caesar required had to be brought to him from Gaul. In
forty days from the time at which the armies came in sight of each other
Afranius and Petreius, with all their legions, were prisoners. Varro, in
the south, was begging for peace, and all Spain lay at Caesar's feet. At
one moment he was almost lost. The melting of the snows in the mountains
brought a flood down the Segre. The bridges were carried away, the fords
were impassable, and his convoys were at the mercy of the enemy. News flew
to Rome that all was over, that Caesar's army was starving, that he was
cut off between the rivers, and in a few days must surrender. Marseilles
still held out. Pompey's, it seemed, was to be the winning side, and
Cicero and many others, who had hung back to watch how events would turn,
made haste to join their friends in Greece before their going had lost
show of credit.[2]

The situation was indeed most critical. Even Caesar's own soldiers became
unsteady. He remarks that in civil wars generally men show less composure
than in ordinary campaigns. But resource in difficulties is the
distinction of great generals. He had observed in Britain that the coast
fishermen used boats made out of frames of wicker covered with skins. The
river banks were fringed with willows. There were hides in abundance on
the carcasses of the animals in the camp. Swiftly in these vessels the
swollen waters of the Segre were crossed; the convoys were rescued. The
broken bridges were repaired. The communications of the Pompeians were
threatened in turn, and they tried to fall back over the Ebro; but they
left their position only to be intercepted, and after a few feeble
struggles laid down their arms. Among the prisoners were found several of
the young nobles who had been released at Corfinium. It appeared that they
regarded Caesar as an outlaw with whom obligations were not binding. The
Pompeian generals had ordered any of Caesar's soldiers who fell into their
hands to be murdered. He was not provoked into retaliation. He again
dismissed the whole of the captive force, officers and men, contenting
himself with this time exacting a promise from them that they would not
serve against him again. They gave their word and broke it. The generals
and military tribunes made their way to Greece to Pompey. Of the rest,
some enlisted in Caesar's legions; others scattered to combine again when
opportunity allowed.

Varro, who commanded a legion in the south, behaved more honorably. He
sent in his submission, entered into the same engagement, and kept it. He
was an old friend of Caesar's, and better understood him. Caesar, after
the victory at Lerida, went down to Cordova, and summoned the leading
Spaniards and Romans to meet him there. All came and promised obedience.
Varro gave in his accounts, with his ships, and stores, and money. Caesar
then embarked at Cadiz, and went round to Tarragona, where his own legions
were waiting for him. From Tarragona he marched back by the Pyrenees, and
came in time to receive in person the surrender of Marseilles.

The siege had been a difficult one, with severe engagements both by land
and sea. Domitius and his galleys had attacked the ungainly but useful
vessels which Caesar had extemporized. He had been driven back with the
loss of half his fleet. Pompey had sent a second squadron to help him, and
this had fared no better. It had fled after a single battle and never
reappeared. The land works had been assailed with ingenuity and courage.
The agger had been burnt and the siege towers destroyed. But they had been
repaired instantly by the industry of the legions, and Marseilles was at
the last extremity when Caesar arrived. He had wished to spare the
townspeople, and had sent orders that the place was not to be stormed. On
his appearance the keys of the gates were brought to him without
conditions. Again he pardoned every one; more, he said, for the reputation
of the colony than for the merits of its inhabitants. Domitius had fled in
a gale of wind, and once more escaped. A third time he was not to be so

[Sidenote: B.C. 48]
Two legions were left in charge of Marseilles; others returned to their
quarters in Gaul. Well as the tribes had behaved, it was unsafe to presume
too much on their fidelity, and Caesar was not a partisan chief, but the
guardian of the Roman Empire. With the rest of his army he returned to
Rome at the beginning of the winter. All had been quiet since the news of
the capitulation at Lerida. The aristocracy had gone to Pompey. The
disaffection among the people of which Cicero spoke had existed only in
his wishes, or had not extended beyond the classes who had expected from
Caesar a general partition of property, and had been disappointed. His own
successes had been brilliant. Spain, Gaul, and Italy, Sicily and Sardinia,
were entirely his own. Elsewhere and away from his own eye things had gone
less well for him. An attempt to make a naval force in the Adriatic had
failed; and young Curio, who had done Caesar such good service as tribune,
had met with a still graver disaster. After recovering Sicily, Curio had
been directed to cross to Africa and expel Pompey's garrisons from the
Province. His troops were inferior, consisting chiefly of the garrison
which had surrendered at Corfinium. Through military inexperience he had
fallen into a trap laid for him by Juba, King of Mauritania, and had been

Caesar regretted Curio personally. The African misfortune was not
considerable in itself, but it encouraged hopes and involved consequences
which he probably foresaw. There was no present leisure, however, to
attend to Juba. On arriving at the city he was named Dictator. As Dictator
he held the consular elections, and, with Servilius Isauricus for a
colleague, he was chosen consul for the year which had been promised to
him, though under circumstances so strangely changed. With curious
punctiliousness he observed that the legal interval had expired since he
was last in office, and that therefore there was no formal objection to
his appointment.

Civil affairs were in the wildest confusion. The Senate had fled; the
administration had been left to Antony, whose knowledge of business was
not of a high order; and over the whole of Italy hung the terror of
Pompey's fleet and of an Asiatic invasion. Public credit was shaken. Debts
had not been paid since the civil war began. Moneylenders had charged
usurious interest for default, and debtors were crying for _novae
tabulae_, and hoped to clear themselves by bankruptcy. Caesar had but
small leisure for such matters. Pompey had been allowed too long a
respite, and unless he sought Pompey in Greece, Pompey would be seeking
him at home, and the horrid scenes of Sylla's wars would be enacted over
again. He did what he could, risking the loss of the favor of the mob by
disappointing dishonest expectations. Estimates were drawn of all debts as
they stood twelve months before. The principal was declared to be still
due. The interest for the interval was cancelled. Many persons complained
of injustice which they had met with in the courts of law during the time
that Pompey was in power. Caesar refused to revise the sentences himself,
lest he should seem to be encroaching on functions not belonging to him;
but he directed that such causes should be heard again.

Eleven days were all he could afford to Rome. So swift was Caesar that his
greatest exploits were measured by days. He had to settle accounts with
Pompey while it was still winter, and while Pompey's preparations for the
invasion of Italy were still incomplete; and he and his veterans, scarcely
allowing themselves a breathing-time, went down to Brindisi.

It was now the beginning of January by the unreformed calendar (by the
seasons the middle of October)--a year within a few days since Caesar had
crossed the Rubicon. He had nominally twelve legions under him. But long
marches had thinned the ranks of his old and best-tried troops. The change
from the dry climate of Gaul and Spain to the south of Italy in a wet
autumn had affected the health of the rest, and there were many invalids.
The force available for field service was small for the work which was
before it: in all not more than 30,000 men. Pompey's army lay immediately
opposite Brindisi, at Durazzo. It was described afterward as inharmonious
and ill-disciplined, but so far as report went at the time Caesar had
never encountered so formidable an enemy. There were nine legions of Roman
citizens with their complements full. Two more were coming up with Scipio
from Syria. Besides these there were auxiliaries from the allied princes
in the East; corps from Greece and Asia Minor, slingers and archers from
Crete and the islands. Of money, of stores of all kinds, there was
abundance, for the Eastern revenue had been all paid for the last year to
Pompey, and he had levied impositions at his pleasure.

Such was the Senate's land army, and before Caesar could cross swords with
it a worse danger lay in his path. It was not for nothing that Cicero said
that Pompey had been careful of his fleet. A hundred and thirty ships, the
best which were to be had, were disposed in squadrons along the east shore
of the Adriatic; the head-quarters were at Corfu; and the one purpose was
to watch the passage and prevent Caesar from crossing over.

[Sidenote: January, B.C. 48.]
Transports run down by vessels of war were inevitably sunk. Twelve
fighting triremes, the remains of his attempted Adriatic fleet, were all
that Caesar could collect for a convoy. The weather was wild. Even of
transports he had but enough to carry half his army in a single trip. With
such a prospect and with the knowledge that if he reached Greece at all he
would have to land in the immediate neighborhood of Pompey's enormous
host, surprise has been expressed that Caesar did not prefer to go round
through Illyria, keeping his legions together. But Caesar had won many
victories by appearing where he was least expected. He liked well to
descend like a bolt out of the blue sky; and, for the very reason that no
ordinary person would under such circumstances have thought of attempting
the passage, he determined to try it. Long marches exhausted the troops.
In bad weather the enemy's fleet preferred the harbors to the open sea;
and perhaps he had a further and special ground of confidence in knowing
that the officer in charge at Corfu was his old acquaintance, Bibulus--
Bibulus, the fool of the aristocracy, the butt of Cicero, who had failed
in everything which he had undertaken, and had been thanked by Cato for
his ill successes. Caesar knew the men with whom he had to deal. He knew
Pompey's incapacity; he knew Bibulus's incapacity. He knew that public
feeling among the people was as much on his side in Greece as in Italy.
Above all, he knew his own troops, and felt that he could rely on them,
however heavy the odds might be. He was resolved to save Italy at all
hazards from becoming the theatre of war, and therefore the best road for
him was that which would lead most swiftly to his end.

On the 4th January, then, by unreformed time, Caesar sailed with 15,000
men and 500 horses from Brindisi. The passage was rough but swift, and he
landed without adventure at Acroceraunia, now Cape Linguetta, on the
eastern shore of the Straits of Otranto. Bibulus saw him pass from the
heights of Corfu, and put to sea, too late to intercept him--in time,
however, unfortunately, to fall in with the returning transports. Caesar
had started them immediately after disembarking, and had they made use of
the darkness they might have gone over unperceived; they lingered and were
overtaken; Bibulus captured thirty of them, and, in rage at his own
blunder, killed every one that he found on board.

Ignorant of this misfortune, and expecting that Antony would follow him in
a day or two with the remainder of the army, Caesar advanced at once
toward Durazzo, occupied Apollonia, and entrenched himself on the left
bank of the river Apsus. The country, as he anticipated, was well-disposed
and furnished him amply with supplies. He still hoped to persuade Pompey
to come to terms with him. He trusted, perhaps not unreasonably, that the
generosity with which he had treated Marseilles and the Spanish legions
might have produced an effect; and he appealed once more to Pompey's wiser
judgment. Vibullius Rufus, who had been taken at Corfinium, and a second
time on the Lerida, had since remained with Caesar. Rufus, being
personally known as an ardent member of the Pompeian party, was sent
forward to Durazzo with a message of peace.

"Enough had been done," Caesar said, "and Fortune ought not to be tempted
further. Pompey had lost Italy, the two Spains, Sicily, and Sardinia, and
a hundred and thirty cohorts of his soldiers had been captured. Caesar had
lost Curio and the army of Africa. They were thus on an equality, and
might spare their country the consequences of further rivalry. If either
he or Pompey gained a decisive advantage, the victor would be compelled to
insist on harder terms. If they could not agree, Caesar was willing to
leave the question between them to the Senate and people of Rome, and for
themselves, he proposed that they should each take an oath to disband
their troops in three days."

Pompey, not expecting Caesar, was absent in Macedonia when he heard of his
arrival, and was hurrying back to Durazzo. Caesar's landing had produced a
panic in his camp. Men and officers were looking anxiously in each other's
faces. So great was the alarm, so general the distrust, that Labienus had
sworn in the presence of the army that he would stand faithfully by
Pompey. Generals, tribunes, and centurions had sworn after him. They had
then moved up to the Apsus and encamped on the opposite side of the river,
waiting for Pompey to come up.

There was now a pause on both sides. Antony was unable to leave Brindisi,
Bibulus being on the watch day and night. A single vessel attempted the
passage. It was taken, and every one on board was massacred. The weather
was still wild, and both sides suffered. If Caesar's transports could not
put to sea, Bibulus's crews could not land either for fuel or water
anywhere south of Apollonia. Bibulus held on obstinately till he died of
exposure to wet and cold, so ending his useless life; but his death did
not affect the situation favorably for Caesar; his command fell into abler

[Sidenote: February, B.C. 48.]
At length Pompey arrived. Vibullius Rufus delivered his message. Pompey
would not hear him to the end. "What care I," he said, "for life or
country if I am to hold both by the favor of Caesar? All men will think
thus of me if I make peace now.... I left Italy. Men will say that Caesar
has brought me back."

In the legions the opinion was different. The two armies were divided only
by a narrow river. Friends met and talked. They asked each other for what
purpose so desperate a war had been undertaken. The regular troops all
idolized Caesar. Deputations from both sides were chosen to converse and
consult, with Caesar's warmest approval. Some arrangement might have
followed. But Labienus interposed. He appeared at the meeting as if to
join in the conference; he was talking in apparent friendliness to
Cicero's acquaintance, Publius Vatinius, who was serving with Caesar.
Suddenly a shower of darts were hurled at Vatinius. His men flung
themselves in front of him and covered his body; but most of them were
wounded, and the assembly broke up in confusion, Labienus shouting, "Leave
your talk of composition; there can be no peace till you bring us Caesar's

[Sidenote: April, B.C. 48.]
Cool thinkers were beginning to believe that Caesar was in a scrape from
which his good fortune would this time fail to save him. Italy was on the
whole steady, but the slippery politicians in the capital were on the
watch. They had been disappointed on finding that Caesar would give no
sanction to confiscation of property, and a spark of fire burst out which
showed that the elements of mischief were active as ever. Cicero's
correspondent, Marcus Caelius, had thrown himself eagerly on Caesar's side
at the beginning of the war. He had been left as praetor at Rome when
Caesar went to Greece. He in his wisdom conceived that the wind was
changing, and that it was time for him to earn his pardon from Pompey. He
told the mob that Caesar would do nothing for them, that Caesar cared only
for his capitalists. He wrote privately to Cicero that he was bringing
them over to Pompey,[3] and he was doing it in the way in which
pretended revolutionists so often play into the hands of reactionaries. He
proposed a law in the Assembly in the spirit of Jack Cade, that no debts
should be paid in Rome for six years, and that every tenant should occupy
his house for two years free of rent. The administrators of the government
treated him as a madman, and deposed him from office. He left the city
pretending that he was going to Caesar. The once notorious Milo, who had
been in exile since his trial for the murder of Clodius, privately joined
him; and together they raised a band of gladiators in Campania, professing
to have a commission from Pompey. Milo was killed. Caelius fled to Thurii,
where he tried to seduce Caesar's garrison, and was put to death for his
treachery. The familiar actors in the drama were beginning to drop.
Bibulus was gone, and now Caelius and Milo. Fools and knaves are usually
the first to fall in civil distractions, as they and their works are the
active causes of them.

Meantime months passed away. The winter wore through in forced inaction,
and Caesar watched in vain for the sails of his coming transports. The
Pompeians had for some weeks blockaded Brindisi. Antony drove them off
with armed boats; but still he did not start, and Caesar thought that
opportunities had been missed.[4] He wrote to Antony sharply. The
legions, true as steel, were ready for any risks sooner than leave their
commander in danger. A south wind came at last, and they sailed. They were
seen in mid-channel, and closely pursued. Night fell, and in the darkness
they were swept past Durazzo, to which Pompey had again withdrawn, with
the Pompeian squadron in full chase behind them. They ran into the harbor
of Nymphaea, three miles north of Lissa, and were fortunate in entering it
safely. Sixteen of the pursuers ran upon the rocks, and the crews owed
their lives to Caesar's troops, who saved them. So Caesar mentions
briefly, in silent contrast to the unvarying ferocity of the Pompeian
leaders. Two only of the transports which had left Brindisi were missing
in the morning. They had gone by mistake into Lissa, and were surrounded
by the boats of the enemy, who promised that no one should be injured if
they surrendered. "Here," says Caesar, in a characteristic sentence, "may
be observed the value of firmness of mind." One of the vessels had two
hundred and twenty young soldiers on board, the other two hundred
veterans. The recruits were sea-sick and frightened. They trusted the
enemy's fair words, and were immediately murdered. The others forced their
pilot to run the ship ashore. They cut their way through a band of
Pompey's cavalry, and joined their comrades without the loss of a man.

Antony's position was most dangerous, for Pompey's whole army lay between
him and Caesar; but Caesar marched rapidly round Durazzo, and had joined
his friend before Pompey knew that he had moved.

[Sidenote: May, B.C. 48.]
Though still far outnumbered, Caesar was now in a condition to meet Pompey
in the field, and desired nothing so much as a decisive action. Pompey
would not give him the opportunity, and kept within his lines. To show the
world, therefore, how matters stood between them, Caesar drew a line of
strongly fortified posts round Pompey's camp and shut him in. Force him to
surrender he could not, for the sea was open, and Pompey's fleet had
entire command of it. But the moral effect on Italy of the news that
Pompey was besieged might, it was hoped, force him out from his
entrenchments. If Pompey could not venture to engage Caesar on his own
chosen ground, and surrounded by his Eastern friends, his cause at home
would be abandoned as lost. Nor was the active injury which Caesar was
able to inflict inconsiderable. He turned the streams on which Pompey's
camp depended for water. The horses and cattle died. Fever set in with
other inconveniences. The labor of the siege was, of course, severe. The
lines were many miles in length, and the difficulty of sending assistance
to a point threatened by a sally was extremely great. The corn in the
fields was still green, and supplies grew scanty. Meat Caesar's army had,
but of wheat little or none; they were used to hardship, however, and bore
it with admirable humor. They made cakes out of roots, ground into paste
and mixed with milk; and thus, in spite of privation and severe work, they
remained in good health, and deserters daily came into them.

So the siege of Durazzo wore on, diversified with occasional encounters,
which Caesar details with the minuteness of a scientific general writing
for his profession, and with those admiring mentions of each individual
act of courage which so intensely endeared him to his troops. Once an
accidental opportunity offered itself for a successful storm, but Caesar
was not on the spot. The officer in command shrank from responsibility;
and, notwithstanding the seriousness of the consequences, Caesar said that
the officer was right.

[Sidenote: June, B.C. 48.]
Pompey's army was not yet complete. Metellus Scipio had not arrived with
the Syrian legions. Scipio had come leisurely through Asia Minor,
plundering cities and temples and flaying the people with requisitions. He
had now reached Macedonia, and Domitius Calvinus had been sent with a
separate command to watch him. Caesar's own force, already too small for
the business on hand, was thus further reduced, and at this moment there
fell out one of those accidents which overtake at times the ablest
commanders, and gave occasion for Caesar's observation, that Pompey knew
not how to conquer.

There were two young Gauls with Caesar whom he had promoted to important
positions. They were reported to have committed various peculations.
Caesar spoke to them privately. They took offence and deserted. There was
a weak spot in Caesar's lines at a point the furthest removed from the
body of the army. The Gauls gave Pompey notice of it, and on this point
Pompey flung himself with his whole strength. The attack was a surprise.
The engagement which followed was desperate and unequal, for the reliefs
were distant and came up one by one. For once Caesar's soldiers were
seized with panic, lost their order, and forgot their discipline. On the
news of danger he flew himself to the scene, threw himself into the
thickest of the fight, and snatched the standards from the flying bearers.
But on this single occasion he failed in restoring confidence. The defeat
was complete; and, had Pompey understood his business, Caesar's whole army
might have been overthrown. Nearly a thousand men were killed, with many
field officers and many centurions. Thirty-two standards were lost, and
some hundreds of legionaries were taken. Labienus begged the prisoners of
Pompey. He called them mockingly old comrades. He asked them how veterans
came to fly. They were led into the midst of the camp and were all killed.

Caesar's legions had believed themselves invincible. The effect of this
misfortune was to mortify and infuriate them. They were eager to fling
themselves again upon the enemy and win back their laurels; but Caesar saw
that they were excited and unsteady, and that they required time to
collect themselves. He spoke to them with his usual calm cheerfulness. He
praised their courage. He reminded them of their many victories, and bade
them not be cast down at a misadventure which they would soon repair; but
he foresaw that the disaster would affect the temper of Greece and make
his commissariat more difficult than it was already. He perceived that he
must adopt some new plan of campaign, and with instant decision he fell
back upon Apollonia.

[Sidenote: July, B.C 48.]
The gleam of victory was the cause of Pompey's ruin. It was unlooked for,
and the importance of it exaggerated. Caesar was supposed to be flying
with the wreck of an army completely disorganized and disheartened. So
sure were the Pompeians that it could never rally again that they regarded
the war as over; they made no efforts to follow up a success which, if
improved, might have been really decisive; and they gave Caesar the one
thing which he needed, time to recover from its effects. After he had
placed his sick and wounded in security at Apollonia, his first object was
to rejoin Calvinus, who had been sent to watch Scipio, and might now be
cut off. Fortune was here favorable. Calvinus, by mere accident, learnt
his danger, divined where Caesar would be, and came to meet him. The next
thing was to see what Pompey would do. He might embark for Italy. In this
case Caesar would have to follow him by Illyria and the head of the
Adriatic. Cisalpine Gaul was true to him, and could be relied on to refill
his ranks. Or Pompey might pursue him in the hope to make an end of the
war in Greece, and an opportunity might offer itself for an engagement
under fairer terms. On the whole he considered the second alternative the
more likely one, and with this expectation he led his troops into the rich
plains of Thessaly for the better feeding which they so much needed. The
news of his defeat preceded him. Gomphi, an important Thessalian town,
shut its gates upon him; and, that the example might not be followed,
Gomphi was instantly stormed and given up to plunder. One such lesson was
enough. No more opposition was ventured by the Greek cities.

[Sidenote: August 9, B.C. 48.]
Pompey meanwhile had broken up from Durazzo, and after being joined by
Scipio was following leisurely. There were not wanting persons who warned
him that Caesar's legions might still be dangerous. Both Cicero and Cato
had advised him to avoid a battle, to allow Caesar to wander about Greece
till his supplies failed and his army was worn out by marches. Pompey
himself was inclined to the same opinion. But Pompey was no longer able to
act on his own judgment. The senators who were with him in the camp
considered that in Greece, as in Rome, they were the supreme rulers of the
Roman Empire. All along they had held their sessions and their debates,
and they had voted resolutions which they expected to see complied with.
They had never liked Pompey. If Cicero was right in supposing that Pompey
meant to be another Sylla, the senators had no intention of allowing it.
They had gradually wrested his authority out of his hands, and reduced him
to the condition of an officer of the Senatorial Directory. These
gentlemen, more especially the two late consuls, Scipio and Lentulus, were
persuaded that a single blow would now make an end of Caesar. His army was
but half the size of theirs, without counting the Asiatic auxiliaries. The
men, they were persuaded, were dispirited by defeat and worn out. So sure
were they of victory that they were impatient of every day which delayed
their return to Italy. They accused Pompey of protracting the war
unnecessarily, that he might have the honor of commanding such
distinguished persons as themselves. They had arranged everything that was
to be done. Caesar and his band of cutthroats were in imagination already
despatched. They had butchered hitherto every one of them who had fallen
into their hands, and the same fate was designed for their political
allies. They proposed to establish a senatorial court after their return
to Italy, in which citizens of all kinds who had not actually fought on
the Senate's side were to be brought up for trial. Those who should be
proved to have been active for Caesar were to be at once killed, and their
estates confiscated. Neutrals were to fare almost as badly, Not to have
assisted the lawful rulers of the State was scarcely better than to have
rebelled against them. They, too, were liable to death or forfeiture, or
both. A third class of offenders was composed of those who had been within
Pompey's lines, but had borne no part in the fighting. These cold-hearted
friends were to be tried and punished according to the degree of their
criminality. Cicero was the person pointed at in the last division.
Cicero's clear judgment had shown him too clearly what was likely to be
the result of a campaign conducted as he found it on his arrival, and he
had spoken his thoughts with sarcastic freedom. The noble lords came next
to a quarrel among themselves as to how the spoils of Caesar were to be
divided. Domitius Ahenobarbus, Lentulus Spinther, and Scipio were unable
to determine which of them was to succeed Caesar as Pontifex Maximus, and
which was to have his palace and gardens in Rome. The Roman oligarchy were
true to their character to the eve of their ruin. It was they, with their
idle luxury, their hunger for lands and office and preferment, who had
brought all this misery upon their country; and standing, as it were, at
the very bar of judgment, with the sentence of destruction about to be
pronounced upon them, their thoughts were still bent upon how to secure
the largest share of plunder for themselves.

The battle of Pharsalia was not the most severe, still less was it the
last, action of the war. But it acquired a special place in history,
because it was a battle fought by the Roman aristocracy in their own
persons in defence of their own supremacy. Senators and the sons of
senators; the heirs of the names and fortunes of the ancient Roman
families; the leaders of society in Roman saloons, and the chiefs of the
political party of the optimates in the Curia and Forum, were here present
on the field; representatives in person and in principle of the traditions
of Sylla, brought face to face with the representative of Marius. Here
were the men who had pursued Caesar through so many years with a hate so
inveterate. Here were the haughty Patrician Guard, who had drawn their
swords on him in the senate-house, young lords whose theory of life was to
lounge through it in patrician _insouciance_. The other great actions
were fought by the ignoble multitude whose deaths were of less
significance. The plains of Pharsalia were watered by the precious blood
of the elect of the earth. The battle there marked an epoch like no other
in the history of the world.

For some days the two armies had watched each other's movements. Caesar,
to give his men confidence, had again offered Pompey an opportunity of
fighting. But Pompey had kept to positions where he could not be attacked.
To draw him into more open ground, Caesar had shifted his camp
continually. Pompey had followed cautiously, still remaining on his guard.
His political advisers were impatient of these dilatory movements. They
taunted him with cowardice. They insisted that he should set his foot on
this insignificant adversary promptly and at once; and Pompey, gathering
courage from their confidence, and trusting to his splendid cavalry,
agreed at last to use the first occasion that presented itself.

One morning, on the Enipeus, near Larissa, the 9th of August, old style,
or toward the end of May by real time, Caesar had broken up his camp and
was preparing for his usual leisurely march, when he perceived a movement
in Pompey's lines which told him that the moment which he had so long
expected was come. Labienus, the evil genius of the Senate, who had
tempted them into the war by telling them that his comrades were as
disaffected as himself, and had fired Caesar's soldiers into intensified
fierceness by his barbarities at Durazzo, had spoken the deciding word:
"Believe not," Labienus had said, "that this is the army which defeated
the Gauls and the Germans. I was in those battles, and what I say I know.
That army has disappeared. Part fell in action; part perished of fever in
the autumn in Italy. Many went home. Many were left behind unable to move.
The men you see before you are levies newly drawn from the colonies beyond
the Po. Of the veterans that were left, the best were killed at Durazzo."

A council of war had been held at dawn. There had been a solemn taking of
oaths again. Labienus swore that he would not return to the camp except as
a conqueror; so swore Pompey; so swore Lentulus, Scipio, Domitius; so
swore all the rest. They had reason for their high spirits. Pompey had
forty-seven thousand Roman infantry, not including his allies, and seven
thousand cavalry. Caesar had but twenty-two thousand, and of horse only a
thousand. Pompey's position was carefully chosen. His right wing was
covered by the Enipeus, the opposite bank of which was steep and wooded.
His left spread out into the open plain of Pharsalia. His plan of battle
was to send forward his cavalry outside over the open ground, with clouds
of archers and slingers, to scatter Caesar's horse, and then to wheel
round and envelop his legions. Thus he had thought they would lose heart
and scatter at the first shock. Caesar had foreseen what Pompey would
attempt to do. His own scanty cavalry, mostly Gauls and Germans, would, he
well knew, be unequal to the weight which would be thrown on them. He had
trained an equal number of picked active men to fight in their ranks, and
had thus doubled their strength. Fearing that this might be not enough, he
had taken another precaution. The usual Roman formation in battle was in
triple line. Caesar had formed a fourth line of cohorts specially selected
to engage the cavalry; and on them, he said, in giving them their
instructions, the result of the action would probably depend.

Pompey commanded on his own left with the two legions which he had taken
from Caesar; outside him on the plain were his flying companies of Greeks
and islanders, with the cavalry covering them. Caesar, with his favorite
10th, was opposite Pompey. His two faithful tribunes, Mark Antony and
Cassius Longinus, led the left and centre. Servilia's son, Marcus Brutus,
was in Pompey's army. Caesar had given special directions that Brutus, if
recognized, should not be injured. Before the action began he spoke a few
general words to such of his troops as could hear him. They all knew, he
said, how earnestly he had sought for peace, how careful he had always
been of his soldiers' lives, how unwilling to deprive the State of the
services of any of her citizens, to whichever party they might belong.
Crastinus, a centurion, of the 10th legion, already known to Caesar for
his gallantry, called out, "Follow me, my comrades, and strike, and strike
home, for your general. This one battle remains to be fought, and he will
have his rights and we our liberty. General," he said, looking to Caesar,
"I shall earn your thanks this day, dead or alive."

Pompey had ordered his first line to stand still to receive Caesar's
charge.[5] They would thus be fresh, while the enemy would reach them
exhausted--a mistake on Pompey's part, as Caesar thought; "for a fire and
alacrity," he observes, "is kindled in all men when they meet in battle,
and a wise general should rather encourage than repress their fervor."

The signal was given. Caesar's front rank advanced running. Seeing the
Pompeians did not move, they halted, recovered breath, then rushed on,
flung their darts, and closed sword in hand. At once Pompey's horse bore
down, outflanking Caesar's right wing, with the archers behind and between
them raining showers of arrows. Caesar's cavalry gave way before the
shock, and the outer squadrons came wheeling round to the rear, expecting
that there would be no one to encounter them. The fourth line, the pick
and flower of the legions, rose suddenly in their way. Surprised and
shaken by the fierceness of the attack on them, the Pompeians turned, they
broke, they galloped wildly off. The best cavalry in those Roman battles
were never a match for infantry when in close formation, and Pompey's
brilliant squadrons were carpet-knights from the saloon and the circus.
They never rallied, or tried to rally; they made off for the nearest
hills. The archers were cut to pieces; and the chosen corps, having
finished so easily the service for which they had been told off, threw
themselves on the now exposed flank of Pompey's left wing. It was
composed, as has been said, of the legions which had once been Caesar's,
which had fought under him at the Vingeanne and at Alesia. They ill liked,
perhaps, the change of masters, and were in no humor to stand the charge
of their old comrades coming on with the familiar rush of victory. Caesar
ordered up his third line, which had not yet been engaged; and at once on
all sides Pompey's great army gave way, and fled. Pompey himself, the
shadow of his old name, long harasssd out of self-respect by his
senatorial directors, a commander only in appearance, had left the field
in the beginning of the action. He had lost heart on the defeat of the
cavalry, and had retired to his tent to wait the issue of the day.

The stream of fugitives pouring in told him too surely what the issue had
been. He sprang upon his horse and rode off in despair. His legions were
rushing back in confusion. Caesar, swift always at the right moment, gave
the enemy no leisure to re-form, and fell at once upon the camp. It was
noon, and the morning had been sultry; but heat and weariness were
forgotten in the enthusiasm of a triumph which all then believed must
conclude the war. A few companies of Thracians, who had been left on
guard, made a brief resistance, but they were soon borne down. The beaten
army, which a few hours before were sharing in imagination the lands and
offices of their conquerors, fled out through the opposite gates, throwing
away their arms, flinging down their standards, and racing, officers and
men, for the rocky hills which at a mile's distance promised them shelter.

The camp itself was a singular picture. Houses of turf had been built for
the luxurious patricians, with ivy trained over the entrances to shade
their delicate faces from the summer sun; couches had been laid out for
them to repose on after their expected victory; tables were spread with
plate and wines, and the daintiest preparations of Roman cookery. Caesar
commented on the scene with mournful irony. "And these men," he said,
"accused my patient, suffering army, which had not even common
necessaries, of dissoluteness and profligacy!"

Two hundred only of Caesar's men had fallen. The officers had suffered
most. The gallant Crastinus, who had nobly fulfilled his promise, had been
killed, among many others, in opening a way for his comrades. The
Pompeians, after the first shock, had been cut down unresisting. Fifteen
thousand of them lay scattered dead about the ground. There were few
wounded in these battles. The short sword of the Romans seldom left its
work unfinished.

"They would have it so," Caesar is reported to have said, as he looked
sadly over the littered bodies in the familiar patrician dress.[6]
"After all that I had done for my country, I, Caius Caesar, should have
been condemned by them as a criminal if I had not appealed to my army."

[Sidenote: B.C. 48.]
But Caesar did not wait to indulge in reflections. His object was to stamp
the fire out on the spot, that it might never kindle again. More than half
the Pompeians had reached the hills and were making for Larissa. Leaving
part of his legions in the camp to rest, Caesar took the freshest the same
evening, and by a rapid march cut off their line of retreat. The hills
were waterless, the weather suffocating. A few of the guiltiest of the
Pompeian leaders, Labienus, Lentulus, Afranius, Petreius, and Metellus
Scipio (Cicero and Cato had been left at Durazzo), contrived to escape in
the night. The rest, twenty-four thousand of them, surrendered at
daylight. They came down praying for mercy, which they had never shown,
sobbing out their entreaties on their knees that the measure which they
had dealt to others might not be meted out to them. Then and always Caesar
hated unnecessary cruelty, and never, if he could help it, allowed
executions in cold blood. He bade them rise, said a few gentle words to
relieve their fears, and sent them back to the camp. Domitius Ahenobarbus,
believing that for him at least there could be no forgiveness, tried to
escape, and was killed. The rest were pardoned.

So ended the battle of Pharsalia. A hundred and eighty standards were
taken and all the eagles of Pompey's legions. In Pompey's own tent was
found his secret correspondence, implicating persons, perhaps, whom Caesar
had never suspected, revealing the mysteries of the past three years.
Curiosity and even prudence might have tempted him to look into it. His
only wish was that the past should be forgotten: he burnt the whole mass
of papers unread.

Would the war now end? That was the question. Caesar thought that it would
not end as long as Pompey was at large. The feelings of others may be
gathered out of abridgments from Cicero's letters:

_Cicero to Plancius_.[7]

"Victory on one side meant massacre, on the other slavery. It consoles me
to remember that I foresaw these things, and as much feared the success of
our cause as the defeat of it. I attached myself to Pompey's party more in
hope of peace than from desire of war; but I saw, if we had the better,
how cruel would be the triumph of an exasperated, avaricious, and insolent
set of men; if we were defeated, how many of our wealthiest and noblest
citizens must fall. Yet when I argued thus and offered my advice I was
taunted for being a coward."

_Cicero to Caius Cassius_.[8]

"We were both opposed to a continuance of the war [after Pharsalia]. I,
perhaps, more than you; but we agreed that one battle should be accepted
as decisive, if not of the whole cause, yet of our own judgment upon it.
Nor were there any who differed from us save those who thought it better
that the Constitution should be destroyed altogether than be preserved
with diminished prerogatives. For myself I could hope nothing from the
overthrow of it, and much if a remnant could be saved.... And I thought it
likely that, after that decisive battle, the victors would consider the
welfare of the public, and that the vanquished would consider their own."

_To Varro_.[9]

"You were absent [at the critical moment]. I for myself perceived that our
friends wanted war, and that Caesar did not want it, but was not afraid of
it. Thus much of human purpose was in the matter. The rest came
necessarily; for one side or the other would, of course, conquer. You and
I both grieved to see how the State would suffer from the loss of either
army and its generals; we knew that victory in a civil war was itself a
most miserable disaster. I dreaded the success of those to whom I had
attached myself. They threatened most cruelly those who had stayed quietly
at home. Your sentiments and my speeches were alike hateful to them. If
our side had won, they would have shown no forbearance."

_To Marcus Marius_.[10]

"When you met me on the 13th of May (49), you were anxious about the part
which I was to take. If I stayed in Italy, you feared that I should be
wanting in duty. To go to the war you thought dangerous for me. I was
myself so disturbed that I could not tell what it was best for me to do. I
consulted my reputation, however, more than my safety; and if I afterwards
repented of my decision it was not for the peril to myself, but on account
of the state of things which I found on my arrival at Pompey's camp. His
forces were not very considerable, nor good of their kind. For the chiefs,
if I except the general and a few others, they were rapacious in their
conduct of the war, and so savage in their language that I dreaded to see
them victorious. The most considerable among them were overwhelmed with
debt. There was nothing good about them but their cause. I despaired of
success and recommended peace. When Pompey would not hear of it, I advised
him to protract the war. This for the time he approved, and he might have
continued firm but for the confidence which he gathered from the battle at
Durazzo. From that day the great man ceased to be a general. With a raw
and inexperienced army he engaged legions in perfect discipline. On the
defeat he basely deserted his camp and fled by himself. For me this was
the end: I retired from a war in which the only alternatives before me
were either to be killed in action or be taken prisoner, or fly to Juba in
Africa, or hide in exile, or destroy myself."

_To Caecina_.[11]

"I would tell you my prophecies but that you would think I had made them
after the event. But many persons can bear me witness that I first warned
Pompey against attaching himself to Caesar, and then against quarrelling
with him. Their union (I said) had broken the power of the Senate; their
discord would cause a civil war. I was intimate with Caesar; I was most
attached to Pompey; but my advice was for the good of them both.... I
thought that Pompey ought to go to Spain. Had he done so, the war would
not have been. I did not so much insist that Caesar could legally stand
for the consulship as that his name should be accepted, because the people
had so ordered at Pompey's own instance. I advised, I entreated. I
preferred the most unfair peace to the most righteous war. I was
overborne, not so much by Pompey (for on him I produced an effect) as by
men who relied on Pompey's leadership to win them a victory, which would
be convenient for their personal interests and private ambitions. No
misfortune has happened in the war which I did not predict."

[1] _To Atticus_, ix. 18.

[2] "Tullia bids me wait till I see how things go in Spain, and she says
you are of the same opinion. The advice would be good, if I could
adapt my conduct to the issue of events there. But one of three
alternatives must happen. Either Caesar will be driven back, which
would please me best, or the war will be protracted, or he will be
completely victorious. If he is defeated, Pompey will thank me little
for joining him. Curio himself will then go over to him. If the war
hangs on, how long am I to wait? If Caesar conquers, it is thought we
may then have peace. But I consider, on the other hand, that it would
be more decent to forsake Caesar in success than when beaten and in
difficulties. The victory of Caesar means massacre, confiscation,
recall of exiles, a clean sweep of debts, every worst man raised to
honor, and a rule which not only a Roman citizen but a Persian could
not endure.... Pompey will not lay down his arms for the loss of
Spain; he holds with Themistocles that those who are masters at sea
will be the victors in the end. He has neglected Spain. He has given
all his care to his ships. When the time comes he will return to Italy
with an overwhelming fleet. And what will he say to me if he finds me
still sitting here?--Let alone duty, I must think of the danger....
Every course has its perils; but I should surely avoid a course which
is both ignominious and perilous also.

"I did not accompany Pompey when he went himself? I could not. I had
not time. And yet, to confess the truth, I made a mistake which,
perhaps, I should not have made. I thought there would be peace, and I
would not have Caesar angry with me after he and Pompey had become
friends again. Thus I hesitated; but I can overtake my fault if I lose
no more time, and I am lost if I delay.--I see that Caesar cannot
stand long. He will fall of himself if we do nothing. When his affairs
were most flourishing, he became unpopular with the hungry rabble of
the city in six or seven days. He could not keep up the mask. His
harshness to Metellus destroyed his credit for clemency, and his
taking money from the treasury destroyed his reputation for riches.

"As to his followers, how can men govern provinces who cannot manage
their own affairs for two months together? Such a monarchy could not
last half a year. The wisest men have miscalculated.... If that is my
case, I must bear the reproach ... but I am sure it will be as I say.
Caesar will fall, either by his enemies or by himself, who is his
worst enemy.... I hope I may live to see it, though you and I should
be thinking more of the other life than of this transitory one: but so
it come, no matter whether I see it or foresee it."--_To
Atticus_, x. 8.

[3] "Nam hic nunc praeter foeneratores paucos nec homo nec ordo quisquam
est nisi Pompeianus. Equidem jam effeci ut maxime plebs et qui antea
noster fuit populus vester esset."--Caelius to Cicero, _Ad Fam_.,
viii. 71.

[4] Caesar says nothing of his putting to sea in a boat, meaning to go
over in person, and being driven back by the weather. The story is
probably no more than one of the picturesque additions to reality made
by men who find truth too tame for them.

[5] I follow Caesar's own account of the action. Appian is minutely
circumstantial, and professes to describe from the narratives of eye-
witnesses. But his story varies so far from Caesar's as to be
irreconcilable with it, and Caesar's own authority is incomparably the

[6] Suetonius, quoting from Asinius Pollio, who was present at the battle.

[7] _Ad Familiares_, iv. 14.

[8] _Ibid_., xv. 15.

[9] _Ad Fam_., ix. 6.

[10] _Ibid_., vii. 3.

[11] _Ad Fam_., vi. 6.


The strength of the senatorial party lay in Pompey's popularity in the
East. A halo was still supposed to hang about him as the creator of the
Eastern Empire, and so long as he was alive and at liberty there was
always a possibility that he might collect a new army. To overtake him, to
reason with him, and, if reason failed, to prevent him by force from
involving himself and the State in fresh difficulties, was Caesar's first
object. Pompey, it was found, had ridden from the battlefield direct to
the sea, attended by a handful of horse. He had gone on board a grain
vessel, which carried him to Amphipolis. At Amphipolis he had stayed but a
single night, and had sailed for Mitylene, where he had left his wife and
his sons. The last accounts which the poor lady had heard of him had been
such as reached Lesbos after the affair at Durazzo. Young patricians had
brought her word that her husband had gained a glorious victory, that he
had joined her father, Metellus Scipio, and that together they were
pursuing Caesar with the certainty of overwhelming him. Rumor, cruel as

Had brought smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs.

Rumor had told Cornelia that Caesar had "stooped his head" before Pompey's
"rage." Pompey came in person to inform her of the miserable reality. At
Mitylene Pompey's family were no longer welcome guests. They joined him on
board his ship to share his fortunes, but what those fortunes were to be
was all uncertain. Asia had seemed devoted to him. To what part of it
should he go? To Cilicia? to Syria? to Armenia? To Parthia? For even
Parthia was thought of. Unhappily the report of Pharsalia had flown before
him, and the vane of sentiment had everywhere veered round. The Aegean
islands begged him politely not to compromise them by his presence. He
touched at Rhodes. Lentulus, flying from the battlefield, had tried Rhodes
before him, and had been requested to pass on upon his way. Lentulus was
said to be gone to Egypt. Polite to Pompey the Rhodians were, but perhaps
he was generously unwilling to involve them in trouble in his behalf. He
went on to Cilicia, the scene of his old glory in the pirate wars. There
he had meant to land and take refuge either with the Parthians or with one
of the allied princes. But in Cilicia he heard that Antioch had declared
for Caesar. Allies and subjects, as far as he could learn, were all for
Caesar. Egypt, whither Lentulus had gone, appeared the only place where he
could surely calculate on being welcome. Ptolemy the Piper, the occasion
of so much scandal, was no longer living, but he owed the recovery of his
throne to Pompey. Gabinius had left a few thousand of Pompey's old
soldiers at Alexandria to protect him against his subjects. These men had
married Egyptian wives and had adopted Egyptian habits, but they could not
have forgotten their old general. They were acting as guards at present to
Ptolemy's four children, two girls, Cleopatra and Arsinoe, and two boys,
each called Ptolemy. The father had bequeathed the crown to the two elder
ones, Cleopatra, who was turned sixteen, and a brother two years younger.
Here at least, among these young princes and their guardians, who had been
their father's friends, their father's greatest benefactor might count
with confidence on finding hospitality.

For Egypt, therefore, Pompey sailed, taking his family along with him. He
had collected a few ships and 2,000 miscellaneous followers, and with them
he arrived off Pelusium, the modern Damietta. His forlorn condition was a
punishment sufficiently terrible for the vanity which had flung his
country into war. But that it had been his own doing the letters of Cicero
prove with painful clearness; and though he had partially seen his error
at Capua, and would then have possibly drawn back, the passions and hopes
which he had excited had become too strong for him to contend against.
From the day of his flight from Italy he had been as a leaf whirled upon a
winter torrent. Plain enough it had long been to him that he would not be
able to govern the wild forces of a reaction which, if it had prevailed,
would have brought back a more cruel tyranny than Sylla's. He was now
flung as a waif on the shore of a foreign land; and if Providence on each
occasion proportioned the penalties of misdoing to the magnitude of the
fault, it might have been considered that adequate retribution had been
inflicted on him. But the consequences of the actions of men live when the
actions are themselves forgotten, and come to light without regard to the
fitness of the moment. The senators of Rome were responsible for the
exactions which Ptolemy Auletes had been compelled to wring out of his
subjects. Pompey himself had entertained and supported him in Rome when he
was driven from his throne, and had connived at the murder of the
Alexandrians who had been sent to remonstrate against his restoration. It
was by Pompey that he had been forced again upon his miserable subjects,
and had been compelled to grind them with fresh extortions. It was not
unnatural under these circumstances that the Egyptians were eager to free
themselves from a subjection which bore more heavily on them than
annexation to the Empire. A national party had been formed on Ptolemy's
death to take advantage of the minority of his children. Cleopatra had
been expelled. The Alexandrian citizens kept her brother in their hands,
and were now ruling in his name; the demoralized Roman garrison had been
seduced into supporting them, and they had an army lying at the time at
Pelusium, to guard against Cleopatra and her friends.

Of all this Pompey knew nothing. When he arrived off the port he learnt
that the young king with a body of troops was in the neighborhood, and he
sent on shore to ask permission to land. The Egyptians had already heard
of Pharsalia. Civil war among the Romans was an opportunity for them to
assert their independence, or to secure their liberties by taking the side
which seemed most likely to be successful. Lentulus had already arrived,
and had been imprisoned--a not unnatural return for the murder of Dion and
his fellow-citizens. Pompey, whose name more than that of any other Roman
was identified with their sufferings, was now placing himself
spontaneously in their hands. Why, by sparing him, should they neglect the
opportunity of avenging their own wrongs, and of earning, as they might
suppose that they would, the lasting gratitude of Caesar? The Roman
garrison had no feeling for their once glorious commander. "In calamity,"
Caesar observes, "friends easily become foes." The guardians of the young
king sent a smooth answer, bidding Pompey welcome. The water being
shallow, they despatched Achillas, a prefect in the king's army, and
Septimius, a Roman officer, whom Pompey personally knew, with a boat to
conduct him on shore. His wife and friends distrusted the tone of the
reception, and begged him to wait till he could land with his own guard.
The presence of Septimius gave Pompey confidence. Weak men, when in
difficulties, fall into a kind of despairing fatalism, as if tired of
contending longer with adverse fortune. Pompey stepped into the boat, and
when out of arrow-shot from the ship was murdered under his wife's eyes.
His head was cut off and carried away. His body was left lying on the
sands. A man who had been once his slave, and had been set free by him,
gathered a few sticks and burnt it there; and thus the last rites were
bestowed upon one whom, a few months before, Caesar himself would have
been content to acknowledge as his superior.

So ended Pompey the Great. History has dealt tenderly with him on account
of his misfortunes, and has not refused him deserved admiration for
qualities as rare in his age as they were truly excellent. His capacities
as a soldier were not extraordinary. He had risen to distinction by his
honesty. The pirates who had swept the Mediterranean had bought their
impunity by a tribute paid to senators and governors. They were suppressed
instantly when a commander was sent against them whom they were unable to
bribe. The conquest of Asia was no less easy to a man who could resist
temptations to enrich himself. The worst enemy of Pompey never charged him
with corruption or rapacity. So far as he was himself concerned, the
restoration of Ptolemy was gratuitous, for he received nothing for it. His
private fortune, when he had the world at his feet, was never more than
moderate; nor as a politician did his faults extend beyond weakness and
incompetence. Unfortunately he had acquired a position by his negative
virtues which was above his natural level, and misled him into overrating
his capabilities. So long as he stood by Caesar he had maintained his
honor and his authority. He allowed men more cunning than himself to play
upon his vanity, and Pompey fell--fell amidst the ruins of a Constitution
which had been undermined by the villanies of its representatives. His end
was piteous, but scarcely tragic, for the cause to which he was sacrificed
was too slightly removed from being ignominious. He was no Phoebus Apollo
sinking into the ocean, surrounded with glory. He was not even a brilliant
meteor. He was a weak, good man, whom accident had thrust into a place to
which he was unequal; and ignorant of himself, and unwilling to part with
his imaginary greatness, he was flung down with careless cruelty by the
forces which were dividing the world. His friend Lentulus shared his fate,
and was killed a few days later, while Pompey's ashes were still smoking.
Two of Bibulus's sons, who had accompanied him, were murdered as well.

Caesar meanwhile had followed along Pompey's track, hoping to overtake
him. In Cilicia he heard where he was gone; and learning something more
accurately there of the state of Egypt, he took two legions with him, one
of which had attended him from Pharsalia, and another which he had sent
for from Achaia. With these he sailed for Alexandria. Together, so much
had they been thinned by hard service, these legions mustered between them
little over 3,000 men. The force was small, but Caesar considered that,
after Pharsalia, there could be no danger for him anywhere in the
Mediterranean. He landed without opposition, and was presented on his
arrival, as a supposed welcome offering, with the head of his rival.
Politically it would have been better far for him to have returned to Rome
with Pompey as a friend. Nor, if it had been certain that Pompey would
have refused to be reconciled, were services such as this a road to
Caesar's favor. The Alexandrians speedily found that they were not to be
rewarded with the desired independence. The consular fasces, the emblem of
the hated Roman authority, were carried openly before Caesar when he
appeared in the streets; and it was not long before mobs began to assemble
with cries that Egypt was a free country, and that the people would not
allow their king to be insulted. Evidently there was business to be done
in Egypt before Caesar could leave it. Delay was specially inconvenient. A
prolonged absence from Italy would allow faction time to rally again. But
Caesar did not look on himself as the leader of a party, but as the
guardian of Roman interests, and it was not his habit to leave any
necessary work uncompleted. The etesian winds, too, had set in, which made
it difficult for his heavy vessels to work out of the harbor. Seeing that
troubles might rise, he sent a message to Mithridates of Pergamus,[1]
to bring him reinforcements from Syria, while he himself at once took the
government of Egypt into his hands. He forbade the Alexandrians to set
aside Ptolemy's will, and insisted that the sovereignty must be vested
jointly in Cleopatra and her brother as their father had ordered.[2]he
cries of discontent grew bolder. Alexandria was a large, populous city,
the common receptacle of vagabonds from all parts of the Mediterranean.
Pirates, thieves, political exiles, and outlaws had taken refuge there,
and had been received into the king's service. With the addition of the
dissolute legionaries left by Gabinius, they made up 20,000 as dangerous
ruffians as had ever been gathered into a single city. The more
respectable citizens had no reason to love the Romans. The fate of Cyprus
seemed a foreshadowing of their own. They too, unless they looked to
themselves, would be absorbed in the devouring Empire. They had made an
end of Pompey, and Caesar had shown no gratitude. Caesar himself was now
in their hands. Till the wind changed they thought that he could not
escape, and they were tempted, naturally enough, to use the chance which
fate had given them.

Pothinus, a palace eunuch and one of young Ptolemy's guardians, sent
secretly for the troops at Pelusium, and gave the command of them to
Achillas, the officer who had murdered Pompey. The city rose when they
came in, and Caesar found himself blockaded in the palace and the part of

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