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The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol. 2 by Various

Part 7 out of 9

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mistake of allowing Cleopatra to accompany him to Samos, where he
gathered his army, and even to Actium, where she led the way in flying
from the fight, and so persuading the infatuated Antony to leave his
army and join in her disgraceful escape.

Historians have regarded this act of Cleopatra as the mere cowardice of
a woman who feared to look upon an armed conflict and join in the din of
battle. But she was surely made of sterner stuff. She had probably
computed with the utmost care the chances of the rivals, and had made up
her mind that, in spite of Antony's gallantry, his cause was lost.[76]
If she fought out the battle with her strong contingent of ships, she
would probably fall into Octavian's hands as a prisoner, and would have
no choice between suicide or death in the Roman prison, after being
exhibited to the mob in Octavian's triumph. There was no chance whatever
that she would have been spared, as was her sister Arsinoe after Julius
Caesar's triumph, nor would such clemency be less hateful than death. But
there was still a chance, if Antony were killed or taken prisoner, that
she might negotiate with the victor as queen of Egypt, with her fleet,
army, and treasures intact, and who could tell what effect her charms,
though now full ripe, might have upon the conqueror? Two great Romans
had yielded to her, why not the third, who seemed a smaller man?

[Footnote 76: Dion says that Antony was of the same opinion, and went
into the battle intending to fly; but this does not agree with his
character or with the facts.]

This view implies that she was already false to Antony, and it may well
be asked how such a charge is compatible with the affecting scenes which
followed at Alexandria, where her policy seemed defeated by her passion,
and she felt her old love too strong even for her heartless ambition? I
will say in answer that there is no more frequent anomaly in the
psychology of female love than a strong passion coexisting with selfish
ambition, so that each takes the lead in turn; nay, even the
consciousness of treachery may so intensify the passion as to make a
woman embrace with keener transports the lover whom she has betrayed
than one whom she has no thought of surrendering. There are, moreover,
in these tragedies unexpected accidents, which so affect even the
hardest nature that calculations are cast aside, and the old loyalty
resumes a temporary sway. Nor must we fail to insist again upon the
traditions wherein this last Cleopatra was born and bred. She came from
a stock whose women played with love and with life as if they were mere
counters. To hesitate whether such a scion of such a house would have
delayed to discard Antony and to assume another passion is to show small
appreciation of the effects of heredity and of example. Dion tells us
that she arrived in Alexandria before the news of her defeat, pretended
a victory, and took the occasion of committing many murders, in order to
get rid of secret opponents, and also to gather wealth by confiscation
of their goods, for both she and Antony, who came along the coast of
Libya, seem still to have thought of defending the inaccessible Egypt,
and making terms for themselves and their children with the conqueror.
But Antony's efforts completely failed; no one would rally to his
standard. And meanwhile the false Queen had begun to send presents to
Caesar and encourage him to treat with her. But when he bluntly proposed
to her to murder Antony as the price of her reconciliation with himself,
and when he even declared by proxy that he was in love with her, he
clearly made a rash move in this game of diplomacy, though Dion says he
persuaded her of his love, and that accordingly she betrayed to him the
fortress of Pelusium, the key of the country. Dion also differs from
Plutarch in repeatedly ascribing to Octavian great anxiety to secure the
treasures which Cleopatra had with her, and which she was likely to
destroy by fire if driven to despair.

The historian may well leave to the biographer, nay, to the poet, the
affecting details of the closing scenes of Cleopatra's life. In the
fourth and fifth acts of _Antony and Cleopatra_ Shakespeare has
reproduced every detail of Plutarch's narrative, which was drawn from
that of her physician Olympos. Her fascinations were not dead, for they
swayed Dolabella to play false to his master so far as to warn her of
his intentions, and leave her time for her dignified and royal end. But
if these Hellenistic queens knew how to die, they knew not how to live.
Even the penultimate scene of the tragedy, when she presents an
inventory of her treasures to Octavian, and is charged by her steward
with dishonesty, shows her in uncivilized violence striking the man in
the face and bursting into indecent fury, such as an Athenian, still
less a Roman, matron would have been ashamed to exhibit. Nor is there
any reason to doubt the genuineness of this scene, though we must not be
weary of cautioning ourselves against the hostile witnesses who have
reported to us her life. They praise nothing in her but her bewitching
presence and her majestic death.

"After her repast Cleopatra sent to Caesar a letter which she had written
and sealed, and, putting everybody out of the monument but her two
women, she shut the doors. Caesar, opening her letter, and finding
pathetic prayers and entreaties that she might be buried in the same
tomb with Antony, soon guessed what was doing. At first he was going
himself in all haste; but, changing his mind, he sent others to see. The
thing had been quickly done. The messengers came at full speed, and
found the guards apprehensive of nothing; but on opening the doors they
saw her stone dead, lying upon a bed of gold, set out in all her royal
ornaments. Iras, one of her women, lay dying at her feet, and Charmion,
just ready to fall, scarce able to hold up her head, was adjusting her
mistress' diadem. And when one that came in said angrily, 'Was this well
done of your lady, Charmion?' 'Perfectly well,' she answered, 'and as
became the daughter of so many kings'; and as she said this she fell
down dead by the bedside."

Even the hostile accounts cannot conceal from us that both in physique
and in intellect she was a very remarkable figure, exceptional in her
own, exceptional had she been born in any other, age. She is a speaking
instance of the falsehood of a prevailing belief, that the intermarriage
of near relations invariably produces a decadence in the human race. The
whole dynasty of the Ptolemies contradicts this current theory, and
exhibits in the last of the series the most signal exception. Cleopatra
VI was descended from many generations of breeding-in, of which four
exhibit marriages of full brother and sister. And yet she was deficient
in no quality, physical or intellectual, which goes to make up a
well-bred and well-developed human being. Her morals were indeed those
of her ancestors, and as bad as could be, but I am not aware that it is
degeneration in this direction which is assumed by the theory in
question, except as a consequence of physical decay. Physically,
however, Cleopatra was perfect. She was not only beautiful, but
prolific, and retained her vigor, and apparently her beauty, to the time
of her death, when she was nearly forty years old.


B.C. 44


(Caesar's assassination forms the groundwork of one of Shakespeare's most
notable tragedies. The "itching palm" of Cassius, Brutus' rectitude and
honesty of purpose, and Mark Antony's oration will ever live while the
English language endures. When the great Caesar was struck down, the
civil war was over and he was master of the world. The month of the year
B.C. 100 in which he was born, Quinctilis, was afterward called in his
honor, July.

Caius Julius Caesar was one of the greatest figures in history, and early
took a prominent part in the affairs of Rome. He was a rival of Cicero
in forensic eloquence and highly esteemed as a writer, his
_Commentaries_ being universally admired. Ransomed from pirates who had
captured him on his way to study philosophy at Rhodes, he attacked them
in turn, took them to Pergamus, and crucified them.

After various successful engagements Caesar marched against Pharnaces,
now established in the kingdom of the Bosphorus, gaining at Zela, in
Pontus, the decisive victory which he announced in the famous despatch,
_Veni, vidi, vici_ ["I came, I saw, I conquered"].

His unbounded affability, his liveliness and cordiality, his unaffected
kindness to his friends had made him popular with the high as well as
the low. His ambition began to show itself. During the wrangles over the
election of Afranius as consul, Caesar returned from his brilliant
successes in Spain. The troops saluted him as imperator and the senate
voted a thanksgiving in his honor. He was now strong enough to take his
place as the leader of the popular party. He was elected consul in spite
of the hostility of the senate.

A coalition was formed between Caesar and Pompey. Caesar's agrarian law
added to his popularity with the people, and he gained the influence of
the _equites_ by relief of one-third of the farmed taxes of Asia. He now
became proconsul of Illyricum and Gaul for five years. This suited his
ambition. At this time Pompey was the absolute master of Rome. And now
arose his duel for power with Caesar. For a time he opposed the latter's
election as consul, but later yielded.

Caesar had achieved his brilliant success beyond the Alps. He had won
victories in Gaul and Britain; but in the mean time his enemies had been
active at Rome. Still believing that the senate would permit his quiet
election to the consulship, he refused to strike any blow at their
authority. But the senate had determined to humble Caesar. Both Pompey
and Caesar were removed from leadership, but the Consul Marcellus refused
to execute the decree. Caesar was directed by the senate to disband his
army by a fixed day, on pain of being considered a public enemy. Pompey
sided with the senate. This meant civil war. Antony and Cassius fled to
the camp of Caesar, who was enthusiastically supported by his soldiers
and "crossed the Rubicon."

Having become master of all Italy in three months without a battle,
Caesar reentered Rome. Pompey had fled, and at the battle of Pharsalia
was utterly routed, and took refuge in Egypt, where he was murdered a
few days before the arrival of Caesar.

Upon receipt of the news of Pompey's death Caesar was named dictator for
one year. The government was now placed without disguise in his hands.
He was invested with the tribunician power for life. He was also again
elected consul and named dictator.

Caesar had now become a demi-god, and was named dictator for ten years,
being awarded a fourfold triumph, and a thanksgiving being decreed for
forty days. He was also made censor. This was in B.C. 46. After
defeating the remnant of the Pompeians, he returned to Rome in
September, B.C. 45, and was named imperator, and appointed consul for
ten years and dictator for life, being hailed as _Parens Patriae_.

All these triumphs had caused jealousies. It was thought that he aspired
to become king, and this led to his fall.)


It is one of the inestimable advantages of a hereditary government
commonly called the legitimate, whatever its form may be, that it may be
formally inactive in regard to the state and the population--that it may
reserve its interference until it is absolutely necessary, and
apparently leave things to take their own course. If we look around us
and observe the various constitutions, we shall scarcely perceive the
interference of the government; the greater part of the time passes away
without those who have the reins in their hands being obliged to pay any
particular attention to what they are doing, and a very large amount of
individual liberty may be enjoyed. But if the government is what we call
a usurpation, the ruler has not only to take care to maintain his power,
but in all that he undertakes he has to consider by what means and in
what ways he can establish his right to govern, and his own personal
qualifications for it. Men who are in such a position are urged on to
act by a very sad necessity, from which they cannot escape, and such was
the position of Caesar at Rome.

In our European States, men have wide and extensive spheres in which
they can act and move. The much-decried system of centralization has
indeed many disadvantages; but it has this advantage for the ruler, that
he can exert an activity which shows its influence far and wide. But
what could Caesar do, in the centre of nearly the whole of the known
world? He could not hope to effect any material improvements either in
Italy or in the provinces. He had been accustomed from his youth, and
more especially during the last fifteen years, to an enormous activity,
and idleness was intolerable to him. At the close of the civil war he
would have had little or nothing to do unless he had turned his
attention to some foreign enterprise. He was obliged to venture upon
something that would occupy his whole soul, for he could not rest. His
thoughts were therefore again directed to war, and that in a quarter
where the most brilliant triumphs awaited him, where the bones of the
legions of Crassus lay unavenged--to a war against the Parthians. About
this time the Getae also had spread in Thrace, and he intended to check
their progress likewise. But his main problem was to destroy the
Parthian empire and to extend the Roman dominion as far as India, a plan
in which he would certainly have been successful; and he himself felt so
sure of this that he was already thinking of what he should undertake

It is by no means incredible that, as we are told, he intended on his
return to march through the passes of the Caucasus, and through ancient
Scythia into the country of the Getae, and thence through Germany and
Gaul into Italy. Besides this expedition, he entertained other plans of
no less gigantic dimensions. The port of Ostia was bad, and in reality
little better than a mere roadstead, so that great ships could not come
up the river. Accordingly it is said that Caesar intended to dig a canal
for sea-ships, from the Tiber, above or below Rome, through the Pomptine
marshes as far as Terracina. He further contemplated to cut through the
Isthmus of Corinth. It is not easy to see in what manner he would have
accomplished this, considering the state of hydraulic architecture in
those times. The Roman canals were mere _fossae_, and canals with
sluices, though not unknown to the Romans, were not constructed by

[Footnote 77: The first canals with sluices were executed by the Dutch
in the fifteenth century.]

The fact of Caesar forming such enormous plans is not very surprising;
but we can scarcely comprehend how it was possible for him to accomplish
so much of what he undertook in the short time of five months preceding
his death. Following the unfortunate system of Sulla, Caesar founded
throughout Italy a number of colonies of veterans. The old Sullanian
colonists were treated with great severity, and many of them and their
children were expelled from their lands, and were thus punished for the
cruelty which they or their fathers had committed against the
inhabitants of the municipia. In like manner colonies were established
in Southern Gaul, Italy, Africa, and other parts; I may mention in
particular the colonies founded at Carthage and Corinth. The latter,
however, was a _colonia libertinorum_, and never rose to any importance.
We do not know the details of its foundation, but one would imagine that
Caesar would have preferred restoring the place as a purely Greek town.
This, however, he did not do. Its population was and remained a mixed
one, and Corinth never rose to a state of real prosperity.

Caesar made various new arrangements in the State, and among others he
restored the full franchise, or the _jus honorum_, to the sons of those
who had been proscribed in the time of Sulla. He had obtained for
himself the title of imperator and the dictatorship for life and the
consulship for ten years. Half of the offices of the republic to which
persons had before been elected by the centuries were in his gift, and
for the other half he usually recommended candidates; so that the
elections were merely nominal.

The tribes seem to have retained their rights of election uncurtailed,
and the last tribunes must have been elected by the people. But although
Caesar did not himself confer the consulship, yet the whole republic was
reduced to a mere form and appearance. Caesar made various new laws and
regulations; for example, to lighten the burdens of debtors and the
like; but the changes he introduced in the form of the constitution were
of little importance. He increased the number of praetors, which Sulla
had raised to eight, successively to ten, twelve, fourteen, and sixteen,
and the number of quaestors was increased to forty. Hence the number of
persons from whom the senate was to be filled up became greater than
that of the vacancies, and Caesar accordingly increased the number of
senators, though it is uncertain what number he fixed upon, and raised a
great many of his friends to the dignity of senators. In this, as in
many other cases, he acted very arbitrarily; for he elected into the
senate whomsoever he pleased, and conferred the franchise in a manner
equally arbitrary. These things did not fail to create much discontent.
It is a remarkable fact that, notwithstanding his mode of filling up the
senate, not even the majority of senators were attached to his cause
after his death.

If we consider the changes and regulations which Caesar introduced, it
must strike us as a singular circumstance that among all his measures
there is no trace of any indicating that he thought of modifying the
constitution for the purpose of putting an end to the anarchy, for all
his changes are in reality not essential or of great importance. Sulla
felt the necessity of remodelling the constitution, but he did not
attain his end; and the manner, too, in which he set about it was that
of a short-sighted man; but he was at least intelligent enough to see
that the constitution as it then was could not continue to exist. In the
regulations of Caesar we see no trace of such a conviction; and I think
that he despaired of the possibility of effecting any real good by
constitutional reforms. Hence, among all his laws there is not one that
had any relation to the constitution. The fact of his increasing the
number of patrician families had no reference to the constitution; so
far in fact were the patricians from having any advantages over the
plebeians that the office of the two _oediles Cereales_, which Caesar
instituted, was confined to the plebeians--a regulation which was
opposed to the very nature of the patriciate.

His raising persons to the rank of patricians was neither more nor less
than the modern practice of raising a family to the rank of nobility; he
picked out an individual and gave him the rank of patrician for himself
and his descendants, but did not elevate a whole gens. The distinction
itself was merely a nominal one and conferred no privilege upon a person
except that of holding certain priestly offices, which could be filled
by none but patricians, and for which their number was scarcely
sufficient. If Caesar had died quietly the republic would have been in
the same, nay, in a much worse, state of dissolution than if he had not
existed at all. I consider it a proof of the wisdom and good sense of
Caesar that he did not, like Sulla, think an improvement in the state of
public affairs so near at hand or a matter of so little difficulty. The
cure of the disease lay yet at a very great distance, and the first
condition on which it could be undertaken was the sovereignty of Caesar,
a condition which would have been quite unbearable even to many of his
followers, who as rebels did not scruple to go along with him. But Rome
could no longer exist as a republic.

It is curious to see in Cicero's work, _de Republica_, the consciousness
running through it that Rome, as it then stood, required the strong hand
of a king. Cicero had surely often owned this to himself; but he saw no
one who would have entered into such an idea. The title of king had a
great fascination for Caesar, as it had for Cromwell--a surprising
phenomenon in a practical mind like that of Caesar. Everyone knows the
fact that while Caesar was sitting on the _suggestum_, during the
celebration of the _Lupercalia_, Antony presented to him the diadem, to
try how the people would take it. Caesar saw the great alarm which the
act created and declined the diadem for the sake of appearance; but had
the people been silent, Caesar would unquestionably have accepted it. His
refusal was accompanied by loud shouts of acclamation, which for the
present rendered all further attempts impossible. Antony then had a
statue of Caesar adorned with the diadem; but two tribunes of the people,
L. Caesetius Flavus and Epidius Marullus, took it away: and here Caesar
showed the real state of his feelings, for he treated the conduct of the
tribunes as a personal insult toward himself. He had lost his
self-possession and his fate carried him irresistibly onward. He wished
to have the tribunes imprisoned, but was prevailed upon to be satisfied
with their being stripped of their office and sent into exile.

This created a great sensation at Rome. Caesar had also been guilty of an
act of thoughtlessness, or perhaps merely of distraction, as might
happen very easily to a man in his circumstances. When the senate had
made its last decrees, conferring upon Caesar unlimited powers, the
senators, consuls, and praetors, or the whole senate, in festal attire,
presented the decrees to him, and Caesar at the moment forgot to show his
respect for the senators; he did not rise from his _sella curulis_, but
received the decrees in an unceremonious manner. This want of politeness
was never forgiven by the persons who had not scrupled to make him their
master; for it had been expected that he would at least behave politely
and be grateful for such decrees.[78] Caesar himself had no design in the
act, which was merely the consequence of distraction or thoughtlessness;
but it made the senate his irreconcilable enemies. The affair with the
tribunes, moreover, had made a deep impression upon the people. We must,
however, remember that the people under such circumstances are most
sensible to anything affecting their honor, as we have seen at the
beginning of the French Revolution.

[Footnote 78: I have known an instance of a man of rank and influence
who could never forgive another man, who was by far his superior in
every respect, for having forgotten to take off his hat during a visit.]

In the year of Caesar's death, Brutus and Cassius were praetors. Both had
been generals under Pompey. Brutus' mother, Servilia, was a half-sister
of Cato, for after the death of her first husband Cato's mother had
married Servilius Caepio. She was a remarkable woman, but very immoral,
and unworthy of her son; not even the honor of her own daughter was
sacred to her. The family of Brutus derived its origin from L. Junius
Brutus, and from the time of its first appearance among the plebeians it
had had few men of importance to boast of. During the period subsequent
to the passing of the Licinian laws we meet with some Junii in the
Fasti, but not one of them acquired any great reputation. The family had
become reduced and almost contemptible. One M. Brutus in particular
disgraced his family by sycophancy in the time of Sulla and was
afterward killed in Gaul by Pompey. Although no Roman family belonged to
a more illustrious gens, yet Brutus was not by any means one of those
men who are raised by fortunate circumstances. The education, however,
which he received had a great influence upon him. His uncle Cato, whose
daughter Porcia he married--whether in Cato's lifetime or afterward is
doubtful--had initiated him from his early youth in the Stoic
philosophy, and had instilled into his mind a veneration for it, as
though it had been a religion.

Brutus had qualities which Cato did not possess. The latter had
something of an ascetic nature, and was, if I may say so, a scrupulously
pious character; but Brutus had no such scrupulous timidity; his mind
was more flexible and lovable. Cato spoke well, but could not be
reckoned among the eloquent men of his time. Brutus' great talents had
been developed with the utmost care, and if he had lived longer and in
peace he would have become a classical writer of the highest order. He
had been known to Cicero from his early age, and Cicero felt a fatherly
attachment to him; he saw in him a young man who he hoped would exert a
beneficial influence upon the next generation.

Caesar too had known and loved him from his childhood; but the stories
which are related to account for this attachment must be rejected as
foolish inventions of idle persons; for nothing is more natural than
that Caesar should look with great fondness upon a young man of such
extraordinary and amiable qualities. The absence of envy was one of the
distinguishing features in the character of Caesar, as it was in that of
Cicero. In the battle of Pharsalus, Brutus served in the army of Pompey,
and after the battle he wrote a letter to Caesar, who had inquired after
him; and when Caesar heard of his safety he was delighted, and invited
him to his camp. Caesar afterward gave him the administration of
Cisalpine Gaul, where Brutus distinguished himself in a very
extraordinary manner by his love of justice.

Cassius was related to Brutus, and had likewise belonged to the Pompeian
party, but he was very unlike Brutus; he was much older, and a
distinguished military officer. After the death of Crassus he had
maintained himself as quaestor in Syria against the Parthians, and he
enjoyed a very great reputation in the army, but he was after all no
better than an ordinary officer of Caesar. After the battle of Pharsalus,
Caesar did not at first know whither Pompey was gone. Cassius was at the
time stationed with some galleys in the Hellespont, notwithstanding
which Caesar with his usual boldness took a boat to sail across that
strait, and on meeting Cassius called upon him to embrace his party.
Cassius readily complied, and Caesar forgave him, as he forgave all his
adversaries: even Marcellus, who had mortally offended him, was pardoned
at the request of Cicero. Caesar thus endeavored to efface all
recollections of the civil war.

Caesar had appointed both Brutus and Cassius praetors for that year. With
the exception of the office of _praetor urbanus_, which was honorable and
lucrative, the praetorship was a burdensome office and conferred little
distinction, since the other praetors were only the presidents of the
courts. Formerly they had been elected by lot, but the office was now
altogether in the gift of Caesar. Both Brutus and Cassius had wished for
the praetura urbana, and, when Caesar gave that office to Brutus, Cassius
was not only indignant at Caesar, but began quarrelling with Brutus also.
While Cassius was in this state of exasperation, a meeting of the senate
was announced for the 15th of March, on which day, as the report went, a
proposal was to be made to offer Caesar the crown. This was a welcome
opportunity for Cassius, who resolved to take vengeance, for he had even
before entertained a personal hatred of Caesar, and was now disappointed
at not having obtained the city praetorship. He first sounded Brutus and,
finding that he was safe, made direct overtures to him. During the night
some one wrote on the tribunal and the house of Brutus the words,
"Remember that thou art Brutus."

Brutus became reconciled to Cassius, offered his assistance, and gained
over several other persons to join the conspiracy. All party differences
seemed to have vanished all at once; two of the conspirators were old
generals of Caesar, C. Trebonius and Decimus Brutus, both of whom had
fought with him in Gaul, and against Massilia, and had been raised to
high honors by their chief. There were among the conspirators persons of
all parties. Men who had fought against one another at Pharsalus now
went hand-in-hand and intrusted their lives to one another. No proposals
were made to Cicero, the reasons usually assigned for which are of the
most calumniatory kind. It is generally said that the conspirators had
no confidence in Cicero, an opinion which is perfectly contemptible.
Cicero would not have betrayed them for any consideration, but what they
feared were his objections. Brutus had as noble a soul as anyone, but he
was passionate; Cicero, on the other hand, who was at an advanced age,
had many sad experiences, and his feelings were so exceedingly delicate
that he could not have consented to take away the life of him to whom he
himself owed his own, who had always behaved most nobly toward him, and
had intentionally drawn him before the world as his friend.

Caesar's conduct toward those who had fought in the ranks of Pompey and
afterward returned to him was extremely noble, and he regarded the
reconciliation of those men as a personal favor conferred upon himself.
All who knew Cicero must have been convinced that he would not have
given his consent to the plan of the conspirators; and if they ever did
give the matter a serious thought, they must have owned to themselves
that every wise man would have dissuaded them from it; for it was in
fact the most complete absurdity to fancy that the republic could be
restored by Caesar's death. Goethe says somewhere that the murder of
Caesar was the most senseless act that the Romans ever committed; and a
truer word was never spoken. The result of it could not possibly be any
other than that which did follow the deed.

Caesar was cautioned by Hirtius and Pansa, both wise men of noble
character, especially the former, who saw that the republic must become
consolidated and not thrown into fresh convulsions. They advised Caesar
to be careful, and to take a bodyguard; but he replied that he would
rather not live at all than be in constant fear of losing his life.
Caesar once expressed to some of his friends his conviction that Brutus
was capable of harboring a murderous design, but he added that as he,
Caesar, could not live much longer, Brutus would wait, and not be guilty
of such a crime. Caesar's health was at that time weak, and the general
opinion was that he intended to surrender his power to Brutus as the
most worthy. While the conspirators were making their preparations,
Porcia, the wife of Brutus, inferred from the excitement and
restlessness of her husband that some fearful secret was pressing on his
mind; but as he did not show her any confidence, she seriously wounded
herself with a knife and was seized with a violent wound-fever. No one
knew the cause of her illness; and it was not till after many entreaties
of her husband that at length she revealed it to him, saying that as she
had been able to conceal the cause of her illness, so she could also
keep any secret that might be intrusted to her. Her entreaties induced
Brutus to communicate to her the plan of the conspirators. Caesar was
also cautioned by the haruspices, by a dream of his wife, and by his own
forebodings, which we have no reason for doubting. But on the morning of
the 15th of March, the day fixed upon for assassinating Caesar, Decimus
Brutus treacherously enticed him to go with him to the Curia, as it was
impossible to delay the deed any longer.

The conspirators were at first seized with fear lest their plan should
be betrayed; but on Caesar's entrance into the senate house, C. Tillius
(not Tullius) Cimber made his way up to him, and insulted him with his
importunities, and Casca gave the first stroke. Caesar fell covered with
twenty-three wounds. He was either in his fifty-sixth year or had
completed it; I am not quite certain on this point, though, if we judge
by the time of his first consulship, he must have been fifty-six years
old. His birthday, which is not generally known, was the 11th of
Quinctilis, which month was afterward called Julius, and his death took
place on the 15th of March, between eleven and twelve o'clock.


At one time the senate having decreed Caesar some extravagant honors, the
consuls and praetors, attended by the whole body of patricians, went to
inform him of what they had done. When they came, he did not rise to
receive them, but kept his seat, as if they had been persons in a
private station, and his answer to their address was, "that there was
more need to retrench his honors than to enlarge them." This haughtiness
gave pain not only to the senate, but the people, who thought the
contempt of that body reflected dishonor upon the whole Commonwealth;
for all who could decently withdraw went off greatly dejected.

Perceiving the false step he had taken, he retired immediately to his
own house, and, laying his neck bare, told his friends "he was ready for
the first hand that would strike." He then bethought himself of alleging
his distemper as an excuse; and asserted that those who are under its
influence are apt to find their faculties fail them when they speak
standing, a trembling and giddiness coming upon them, which bereave them
of their senses. This, however, was not really the case; for it is said
he was desirous to rise to the senate; but Cornelius Balbus, one of his
friends, or rather flatterers, held him, and had servility enough to
say, "Will you not remember that you are Caesar, and suffer them to pay
their court to you as their superior?"

These discontents were greatly increased by the indignity with which he
treated the tribunes of the people. In the Lupercalia, which, according
to most writers, is an ancient pastoral feast, and which answers in many
respects to the _Lycaea_ among the Arcadians, young men of noble
families, and indeed many of the magistrates, run about the streets
naked, and, by way of diversion, strike all they meet with leathern
thongs with the hair upon them. Numbers of women of the first quality
put themselves in their way, and present their hands for stripes--as
scholars do to a master--being persuaded that the pregnant gain an easy
delivery by it, and that the barren are enabled to conceive. Caesar wore
a triumphal robe that day, and seated himself in a golden chair upon the
_rostra_, to see the ceremony.

Antony ran among the rest, in compliance with the rules of the festival,
for he was consul. When he came into the Forum, and the crowd had made
way for him, he approached Caesar, and offered him a diadem wreathed with
laurel. Upon this some plaudits were heard, but very feeble, because
they proceeded only from persons placed there on purpose. Caesar refused
it, and then the plaudits were loud and general. Antony presented it
once more, and few applauded his officiousness; but when Caesar rejected
it again, the applause again was general. Caesar, undeceived by his
second trial, rose up and ordered the diadem to be consecrated in the

A few days after, his statues were seen adorned with royal diadems; and
Flavius and Marullus, two of the tribunes, went and tore them off. They
also found out the persons who first saluted Caesar king, and committed
them to prison. The people followed with cheerful acclamations, and
called them Brutuses, because Brutus was the man who expelled the kings
and put the government in the hands of the senate and people. Caesar,
highly incensed at their behavior, deposed the tribunes, and by way of
reprimand to them, as well as insult to the people, called them several
times _Brutes_ and _Cumceans_.

Upon this, many applied to Marcus Brutus, who, by the father's side, was
supposed to be a descendant of that ancient Brutus, and whose mother was
of the illustrious house of the Servilli. He was also nephew and
son-in-law to Cato. No man was more inclined than he to lift his hand
against monarchy, but he was withheld by the honors and favors he had
received from Caesar, who had not only given him his life after the
defeat of Pompey at Pharsalia, and pardoned many of his friends at his
request, but continued to honor him with his confidence. That very year
he had procured him the most honorable praetorship, and he had named him
for the consulship four years after, in preference to Cassius, who was
his competitor; on which occasion Caesar is reported to have said,
"Cassius assigns the strongest reasons, but I cannot refuse Brutus."

Some impeached Brutus after the conspiracy was formed; but, instead of
listening to them, he laid his hand on his body and said, "Brutus will
wait for this skin"; intimating that though the virtue of Brutus
rendered him worthy of empire, he would not be guilty of any ingratitude
or baseness to obtain it. Those, however, who were desirous of a change
kept their eyes upon him only, or principally at least; and as they
durst not speak out plain, they put billets night after night in the
tribunal and seat which he used as praetor, mostly in these terms: "Thou
sleepest, Brutus," or, "Thou art not Brutus."

Cassius, perceiving his friend's ambition a little stimulated by these
papers, began to ply him closer than before, and spur him on to the
great enterprise; for he had a particular enmity against Caesar. Caesar,
too, had some suspicion of him, and he even said one day to his friends:
"What think you of Cassius? I do not like his pale looks." Another time,
when Antony and Dolabella were accused of some designs against his
person and government, he said: "I have no apprehensions from those fat
and sleek men; I rather fear the pale and lean ones," meaning Cassius
and Brutus.

It seems, from this instance, that fate is not so secret as it is
inevitable; for we are told there were strong signs and presages of the
death of Caesar. As to the lights in the heavens, the strange noises
heard in various quarters by night, and the appearance of solitary birds
in the Forum, perhaps they deserve not our notice in so great an event
as this. But some attention should be given to Strabo the philosopher.
According to him there were seen in the air men of fire encountering
each other; such a flame appeared to issue from the hand of a soldier's
servant that all the spectators thought it must be burned, yet, when it
was over, he found no harm; and one of the victims which Caesar offered
was found without a heart. The latter was certainly a most alarming
prodigy; for, according to the rules of nature, no creature can exist
without a heart. What is still more extraordinary, many report that a
certain soothsayer forewarned him of a great danger which threatened him
on the ides of March, and that when the day was come, as he was going to
the senate house, he called to the soothsayer, and said, laughing, "The
ides of March are come"; to which he answered softly, "Yes; but they are
not gone."

The evening before, he supped with Marcus Lepidus, and signed, according
to custom, a number of letters, as he sat at table. While he was so
employed, there arose a question, "What kind of death was the best?" and
Caesar, answering before them all, cried out, "A sudden one." The same
night, as he was in bed with his wife, the doors and windows of the room
flew open at once. Disturbed both with the noise and the light, he
observed, by moonshine, Calpurnia in a deep sleep, uttering broken words
and inarticulate groans. She dreamed that she was weeping over him, as
she held him, murdered, in her arms. Others say she dreamed that the
pinnacle was fallen, which, as Livy tells us, the senate had ordered to
be erected upon Caesar's house by way of ornament and distinction; and
that it was the fall of it which she lamented and wept for. Be that as
it may, the next morning she conjured Caesar not to go out that day if he
could possibly avoid it, but to adjourn the senate; and, if he had no
regard to her dreams, to have recourse to some other species of
divination, or to sacrifices, for information as to his fate. This gave
him some suspicion and alarm; for he had never known before, in
Calpurnia, anything of the weakness or superstition of her sex, though
she was now so much affected.

He therefore offered a number of sacrifices, and, as the diviners found
no auspicious tokens in any of them, he sent Antony to dismiss the
senate. In the mean time Decius Brutus, surnamed Albinus, came in. He
was a person in whom Caesar placed such confidence that he had appointed
him his second heir, yet he was engaged in the conspiracy with the other
Brutus and Cassius. This man, fearing that if Caesar adjourned the senate
to another day the affair might be discovered, laughed at the diviners,
and told Caesar he would be highly to blame if by such a slight he gave
the senate an occasion of complaint against him. "For they were met," he
said, "at his summons, and came prepared with one voice to honor him
with the title of king in the provinces, and to grant that he should
wear the diadem both by sea and land everywhere out of Italy. But if
anyone go and tell them, now they have taken their places, they must go
home again, and return when Calpurnia happens to have better dreams,
what room will your enemies have to launch out against you? Or who will
hear your friends when they attempt to show that this is not an open
servitude on the one hand and tyranny on the other? If you are
absolutely persuaded that this is an unlucky day, it is certainly better
to go yourself and tell them you have strong reasons for putting off
business till another time." So saying he took Caesar by the hand and led
him out.

He was not gone far from the door when a slave, who belonged to some
other person, attempted to get up to speak to him, but finding it
impossible, by reason of the crowd that was about him, he made his way
into the house, and putting himself into the hands of Calpurnia desired
her to keep him safe till Caesar's return, because he had matters of
great importance to communicate.

Artemidorus the Cnidian, who, by teaching the Greek eloquence, became
acquainted with some of Brutus' friends, and had got intelligence of
most of the transactions, approached Caesar with a paper explaining what
he had to discover. Observing that he gave the papers, as fast as he
received them, to his officers, he got up as close as possible and said:
"Caesar, read this to yourself, and quickly, for it contains matters of
great consequence and of the last concern to you." He took it and
attempted several times to read it, but was always prevented by one
application or other. He therefore kept that paper, and that only, in
his hand, when he entered the house. Some say it was delivered to him by
another man, Artemidorus being kept from approaching him all the way by
the crowd.

These things might, indeed, fall out by chance; but as in the place
where the senate was that day assembled, and which proved the scene of
that tragedy, there was a statue of Pompey, and it was an edifice which
Pompey had consecrated for an ornament to his theatre, nothing can be
clearer than that some deity conducted the whole business and directed
the execution of it to that very spot. Even Cassius himself, though
inclined to the doctrines of Epicurus, turned his eye to the statue of
Pompey, and secretly invoked his aid, before the great attempt. The
arduous occasion, it seems, overruled his former sentiments, and laid
them open to all the influence of enthusiasm. Antony, who was a faithful
friend to Caesar, and a man of great strength, was held in discourse
without, by Brutus Albinus, who had contrived a long story to detain

When Caesar entered the house, the senate rose to do him honor. Some of
Brutus' accomplices came up behind his chair, and others before it,
pretending to intercede, along with Metillius Cimber, for the recall of
his brother from exile. They continued their instances till he came to
his seat. When he was seated he gave them a positive denial; and as they
continued their importunities with an air of compulsion, he grew angry.
Cimber, then, with both hands, pulled his gown off his neck, which was
the signal for the attack. Casca gave him the first blow. It was a
stroke upon the neck with his sword, but the wound was not dangerous;
for in the beginning of so tremendous an enterprise he was probably in
some disorder. Caesar therefore turned upon him and laid hold of his
sword. At the same time they both cried out, the one in Latin, "Villain!
Casca! what dost thou mean?" and the other in Greek, to his brother,
"Brother, help!"

After such a beginning, those who knew nothing of the conspiracy were
seized with consternation and horror, insomuch that they durst neither
fly nor assist, nor even utter a word. All the conspirators now drew
their swords, and surrounded him in such a manner that, whatever way he
turned, he saw nothing but steel gleaming in his face, and met nothing
but wounds. Like some savage beast attacked by the hunters, he found
every hand lifted against him, for they all agreed to have a share in
the sacrifice and a taste of his blood. Therefore Brutus himself gave
him a stroke in the groin. Some say he opposed the rest, and continued
struggling and crying out till he perceived the sword of Brutus; then he
drew his robe over his face and yielded to his fate. Either by accident
or pushed thither by the conspirators, he expired on the pedestal of
Pompey's statue, and dyed it with his blood; so that Pompey seemed to
preside over the work of vengeance, to tread his enemy under his feet,
and to enjoy his agonies. Those agonies were great, for he received no
less than three-and-twenty wounds. And many of the conspirators wounded
each other as they were aiming their blows at him.

Caesar thus despatched, Brutus advanced to speak to the senate and to
assign his reasons for what he had done, but they could not bear to hear
him; they fled out of the house and filled the people with inexpressible
horror and dismay. Some shut up their houses; others left their shops
and counters. All were in motion; one was running to see the spectacle;
another running back. Antony and Lepidus, Caesar's principal friends,
withdrew, and hid themselves in other people's houses. Meantime Brutus
and his confederates, yet warm from the slaughter, marched in a body
with their bloody swords in their hands, from the senate house to the
Capitol, not like men that fled, but with an air of gayety and
confidence, calling the people to liberty, and stopping to talk with
every man of consequence whom they met. There were some who even joined
them and mingled with their train, desirous of appearing to have had a
share in the action and hoping for one in the glory. Of this number were
Caius Octavius and Lentulus Spinther, who afterward paid dear for their
vanity, being put to death by Antony and young Caesar; so that they
gained not even the honor for which they lost their lives, for nobody
believed that they had any part in the enterprise; and they were
punished, not for the deed, but for the will.

Next day Brutus and the rest of the conspirators came down from the
Capitol and addressed the people, who attended to their discourse
without expressing either dislike or approbation of what was done. But
by their silence it appeared that they pitied Caesar, at the same time
that they revered Brutus. The senate passed a general amnesty; and, to
reconcile all parties, they decreed Caesar divine honors and confirmed
all the acts of his dictatorship; while on Brutus and his friends they
bestowed governments and such honors as were suitable; so that it was
generally imagined the Commonwealth was firmly established again, and
all brought into the best order.

But when, upon the opening of Caesar's will, it was found that he had
left every Roman citizen a considerable legacy, and they beheld the
body, as it was carried through the Forum, all mangled with wounds, the
multitude could no longer be kept within bounds. They stopped the
procession, and, tearing up the benches, with the doors and tables,
heaped them into a pile, and burned the corpse there. Then snatching
flaming brands from the pile, some ran to burn the houses of the
assassins, while others ranged the city to find the conspirators
themselves and tear them in pieces; but they had taken such care to
secure themselves that they could not meet with one of them.

One Cinna, a friend of Caesar's, had a strange dream the preceding night.
He dreamed--as they tell us--that Caesar invited him to supper, and, upon
his refusal to go, caught him by the hand and drew him after him, in
spite of all the resistance he could make. Hearing, however, that the
body of Caesar was to be burned in the Forum, he went to assist in doing
him the last honors, though he had a fever upon him, the consequence of
his uneasiness about his dream. On his coming up, one of the populace
asked who that was? and having learned his name, told it to his next
neighbor. A report immediately spread through the whole company that it
was one of Caesar's murderers; and, indeed, one of the conspirators was
named Cinna. The multitude, taking this for the man, fell upon him, and
tore him to pieces upon the spot. Brutus and Cassius were so terrified
at this rage of the populace that a few days after they left the city.
An account of their subsequent actions, sufferings, and death may be
found in the life of Brutus.

Caesar died at the age of fifty-six, and did not survive Pompey above
four years. His object was sovereign power and authority, which he
pursued through innumerable dangers, and by prodigious efforts he gained
it at last. But he reaped no other fruit from it than an empty and
invidious title. It is true the divine Power, which conducted him
through life, attended him after his death as his avenger, pursued and
hunted out the assassins over sea and land, and rested not till there
was not a man left, either of those who dipped their hands in his blood
or of those who gave their sanction to the deed.

The most remarkable of natural events relative to this affair was that
Cassius, after he had lost the battle of Philippi, killed himself with
the same dagger which he had made use of against Caesar; and the most
signal phenomenon in the heavens was that of a great comet, which shone
very bright for seven nights after Caesar's death, and then disappeared;
to which we may add the fading of the sun's lustre; for his orb looked
pale all that year; he rose not with a sparkling radiance, nor had the
heat he afforded its usual strength. The air, of course, was dark and
heavy, for want of that vigorous heat which clears and rarefies it; and
the fruits were so crude and unconcocted that they pined away and
decayed, through the chilliness of the atmosphere.

We have a proof still more striking that the assassination of Caesar was
displeasing to the gods, in the phantom that appeared to Brutus. The
story of it is this: Brutus was on the point of transporting his army
from Abydos to the opposite continent; and the night before, he lay in
his tent awake, according to custom, and in deep thought about what
might be the event of the war; for it was natural for him to watch a
great part of the night, and no general ever required so little sleep.
With all his senses about him, he heard a noise at the door of his tent,
and looking toward the light, which was now burned very low, he saw a
terrible appearance in the human form, but of prodigious stature and the
most hideous aspect. At first he was struck with astonishment; but when
he saw it neither did nor spoke anything to him, but stood in silence by
his bed, he asked it who it was? The spectre answered: "I am thy evil
genius, Brutus; thou shalt see me at Philippi." Brutus answered boldly,
"I'll meet thee there"; and the spectre immediately vanished.

Some time after, he engaged Antony and Octavius Caesar at Philippi, and
the first day was victorious, carrying all before him, where he fought
in person, and even pillaging Caesar's camp. The night before he was to
fight the second battle the same spectre appeared to him again, but
spoke not a word. Brutus, however, understood that his last hour was
near, and courted danger with all the violence of despair. Yet he did
not fall in the action; but seeing all was lost, he retired to the top
of a rock, where he presented his naked sword to his breast, and a
friend, as they tell us, assisting the thrust, he died upon the spot.



B.C. 44-30


(After the death of Caesar, Rome was in confusion; consternation seized
the people, and the "liberators" failed to rally them to their own
support. In possession of Caesar's treasure, Antony, the surviving
consul, bided his time. His oration at Caesar's funeral stirred the
populace against the "liberators," and made him for the moment master of
Rome; but his self-seeking soon turned the people against him. The young
Octavius, Caesar's heir, had become popular with the army. He returned to
Rome and claimed his inheritance, demanded from Antony Caesar's moneys,
but in vain, and assumed the title of Caesar. The rivalry between the two
leaders rapidly approached a crisis. The partisans of Antony and
Octavius began to clash, and civil war followed. Defeated, Antony
retreated across the Alps. Octavius was elected consul, and began
negotiations with Antony and Lepidus, which resulted in the three new
masters constituting themselves a triumvirate--the Second
Triumvirate--to settle the affairs of the Commonwealth. They divided the
powers of government, and a partition of territory was made between
them. Their next business was to put out of the way, by proscription,
the enemies of this new order of things. Three hundred senators,
including Cicero, were massacred, as well as two thousand knights.

When the terrified senate had legalized the self-assumed authority of
the triumvirs, they turned their attention to Brutus and Cassius in the
East, whither they had gone after the assassination of Caesar and
established and maintained themselves in power. At the battle of
Philippi in Macedonia [B.C. 42] Antony and Octavius defeated Brutus and
Cassius, both of whom died by their own hands. The Roman world was now
in the hands of the triumvirs. Antony ruled in the East, Octavius in the
West, and Lepidus in Africa, B.C. 42-36. In the latter year Lepidus was
deposed by Octavius after a short conflict. And only a year after
Philippi a war between Octavius and Antony was threatened because of a
revolt in Italy, raised by Antony's brother Lucius and Fulvia, wife of
Antony; but it was prevented by a treaty of peace, sealed by the
marriage of Antony to Octavia, sister of Octavius. This peace lasted for
ten years, during which time, however, there was constant friction
between them.

At Tarsus, in B.C. 41, Antony received a visit from Cleopatra, to whose
charms he had yielded years before. This was the turning-point in his
career; he went with her to Alexandria. By his oppression of the people
of the East, and his dalliance with Cleopatra, he made himself the
object of hatred and contempt. His army met with a series of defeats. In
the mean time Octavius was constantly strengthening himself. The rivalry
between them finally reached the point where both prepared for war. The
great sea fight near Actium, September 2d, B.C. 31, resulted in the
destruction of Antony's fleet after he had followed Cleopatra in her
flight. A year later occurred the death of both. This important battle
established Octavius as the sole ruler of the Roman possessions, and
historians regard it as marking the end of the republic and the
beginning of the empire.)

While the conspirators were at their bloody work [of slaying Caesar], the
mass of the senators rushed in confused terror to the doors; and when
Brutus turned to address his peers in defence of the deed, the hall was
well-nigh empty. Cicero, who had been present, answered not, though he
was called by name; Antony had hurried away to exchange his consular
robes for the garb of a slave. Disappointed of obtaining the sanction of
the senate, the conspirators sallied out into the Forum to win the ear
of the people. But here, too, they were disappointed. Not knowing what
massacre might be in store, every man had fled to his own house; and in
vain the conspirators paraded the Forum, holding up their blood-stained
weapons and proclaiming themselves the liberators of Rome.
Disappointment was not their only feeling: they were not without fear.
They knew that Lepidus, being on the eve of departure for his province
of Narbonnese Gaul, had a legion encamped on the island of the Tiber:
and if he were to unite with Antony against them, Caesar would quickly be
avenged. In all haste, therefore, they retired to the Capitol. Meanwhile
three of Caesar's slaves placed their master's body upon a stretcher and
carried it to his house on the south side of the Forum, with one arm
dangling from the unsupported corner. In this condition the widowed
Calpurnia received the lifeless clay of him who had lately been
sovereign of the world.

Lepidus moved his troops to the Campus Martius. But Antony had no
thoughts of using force; for in that case probably Lepidus would have
become master of Rome. During the night he took possession of the
treasure which Caesar had collected to defray the expenses of his
Parthian campaign, and persuaded Calpurnia to put into his hands all the
dictator's papers. Possessed of these securities, he barricaded his
house on the Carinae, and determined to watch the course of events.

In the evening Cicero, with other senators, visited the self-styled
liberators in the Capitol. They had not communicated their plot to the
orator, through fear (they said) of his irresolute counsels; but now
that the deed was done, he extolled it as a godlike act. Next morning,
Dolabella, Cicero's son-in-law, whom Caesar had promised should be his
successor in the consulship, assumed the consular fasces and joined the
liberators; while Cinna, son of the old Marian leader and therefore
brother-in-law to Caesar, threw aside his praetorian robes, declaring he
would no longer wear the tyrant's livery. Dec. Brutus, a good soldier,
had taken a band of gladiators into pay, to serve as a bodyguard of the
liberators. Thus strengthened, they ventured again to descend into the
Forum. Brutus mounted the tribune, and addressed the people in a
dispassionate speech, which produced little effect. But when Cinna
assailed the memory of the dictator, the crowd broke out into menacing
cries, and the liberators again retired to the Capitol.

That same night they entered into negotiations with Antony, and the
result appeared next morning, the second after the murder. The senate,
summoned to meet, obeyed the call in large numbers. Antony and Dolabella
attended in their consular robes, and Cinna resumed his praetorian garb.
It was soon apparent that a reconciliation had been effected: for Antony
moved that a general amnesty should be granted, and Cicero seconded the
motion in an animated speech. It was carried; and Antony next moved that
all the acts of the dictator should be recognized as law. He had his own
purposes here; but the liberators also saw in the motion an advantage to
themselves; for they were actually in possession of some of the chief
magistracies, and had received appointments to some of the richest
provinces of the empire. This proposal, therefore, was favorably
received; but it was adjourned to the next day, together with the
important question of Caesar's funeral.

On the next day Caesar's acts were formally confirmed, and among them his
will was declared valid, though its provisions were yet unknown. After
this, it was difficult to reject the proposal that the dictator should
have a public burial. Old senators remembered the riots that attended
the funeral of Clodius and shook their heads. Cassius opposed it. But
Brutus, with imprudent magnanimity, decided in favor of allowing it. To
seal the reconciliation, Lepidus entertained Brutus at dinner and
Cassius was feasted by Mark Antony.

The will was immediately made public. Cleopatra was still in Rome, and
entertained hopes that the boy Caesarion would be declared the dictator's
heir; for though he had been married thrice, there was no one of his
lineage surviving. But Caesar was too much a Roman, and knew the Romans
too well, to be guilty of this folly. Young C. Octavius, his sister's
son, was declared his heir. Legacies were left to all his supposed
friends, among whom were several of those who had assassinated him. His
noble gardens beyond the Tiber were devised to the use of the public,
and every Roman citizen was to receive a donation of three hundred
sesterces--between ten and fifteen dollars. The effect of this recital
was electric. Devotion to the memory of the dictator and hatred for his
murderers at once filled every breast.

Two or three days after this followed the funeral. The body was to be
burned, and the ashes deposited in the Campus Martius, near the tomb of
his daughter Julia. But it was first brought into the Forum upon a bier
inlaid with ivory and covered with rich tapestries, which was carried by
men high in rank and office. There Antony, as consul, rose to pronounce
the funeral oration. He ran through the chief acts of Caesar's life,
recited his will, and then spoke of the death which had rewarded him. To
make this more vividly present to the excitable Italians he displayed a
waxen image marked with the three-and-twenty wounds, and produced the
very robe which he had worn, all rent and blood-stained. Soul-stirring
dirges added to the solemn horror of the scene. But to us the memorable
speech which Shakespeare puts into Antony's mouth will give the
liveliest notion of the art used and the impression produced. That
impression was instantaneous. The senator friends of the liberators who
had attended the ceremony looked on in moody silence. Soon the menacing
gestures of the crowd made them look to their safety. They fled; and the
multitude insisted on burning the body, as they had burned the body of
Clodius, in the sacred precincts of the Forum. Some of the veterans who
attended the funeral set fire to the bier; benches and firewood heaped
round it soon made a sufficient pile.

From the blazing pyre the crowd rushed, eager for vengeance, to the
houses of the conspirators. But all had fled betimes. One poor wretch
fell a victim to the fury of the mob--Helvius Cinna, a poet who had
devoted his art to the service of the dictator. He was mistaken for L.
Cornelius Cinna the praetor, and was torn to pieces before the mistake
could be explained.[79]

[Footnote 79: This story is, however, rendered somewhat doubtful by the
manner in which Cinna is mentioned in Vergil's ninth _Eclogue_, which
was certainly written in or after the year B.C. 40.]

Antony was now the real master of Rome. The treasure which he had seized
gave him the means of purchasing good will, and of securing the
attachment of the veterans stationed in various parts of Italy. He did
not, however, proceed in the course which, from the tone of his funeral
harangue, might have been expected. He renewed friendly intercourse with
Brutus and Cassius, who were encouraged to visit Rome once at least, if
not oftener, after that day; and Dec. Brutus, with his gladiators, was
suffered to remain in the city. Antony went still further. He gratified
the senate by passing a law to abolish the dictatorship forever. He then
left Rome to win the favor of the Italian communities and try the temper
of the veterans.

Meanwhile another actor appeared upon the scene. This was young
Octavius. He had been but six months in the camp at Apollonia; but in
that short time he had formed a close friendship with M. Vipsanius
Agrippa, a young man of his own age, who possessed great abilities for
active life, but could not boast of any distinguished ancestry. As soon
as the news of his uncle's assassination reached the camp, his friend
Agrippa recommended him to appeal to the troops and march upon Rome. But
the youth, with a wariness above his years, resisted these bold
counsels. Landing near Brundusium almost alone, he there first heard
that Caesar's will had been published and that he was declared Caesar's
heir. He at once accepted the dangerous honor. As he travelled slowly
toward the city he stayed some days at Puteoli with his mother, Atia,
who was now married to L. Philippus. Both mother and stepfather
attempted to dissuade him from the perilous business of claiming his
inheritance. At the same place he had an interview with Cicero, who had
quitted Rome in despair after the funeral, and left the orator under the
impression that he might be won to what was deemed the patriotic party.

He arrived at Rome about the beginning of May, and demanded from Antony,
who had now returned from his Italian tour, an account of the moneys of
which the consul had taken possession, in order that he might discharge
the obligations laid upon him by his uncle's will. But Antony had
already spent great part of the money in bribing Dolabella and other
influential persons; nor was he willing to give up any portion of his
spoil. Octavius therefore sold what remained of his uncle's property,
raised money on his own credit, and paid all legacies with great
exactness. This act earned him much popularity. Antony began to fear
this boy of eighteen, whom he had hitherto despised, and the senate
learned to look on him as a person to be conciliated.

Still Antony remained in possession of all actual power. Cicero, not
remarkable for political firmness, in this crisis displayed a vigor
worthy of his earlier days. He had at one moment made up his mind to
retire from public life and end his days at Athens in learned leisure.
In the course of this summer he continued to employ himself on some of
his most elaborate treatises. His works on the _Nature of the Gods_ and
on _Divination_, his _Offices_, his _Dialogue on Old Age_, and several
other essays belong to this period and mark the restless activity of his
mind. But though he twice set sail from Italy, he was driven back to
port at Velia, where he found Brutus and Cassius. Here he received
letters from Au. Hirtius and other friends of Caesar, which gave him
hopes that, in the name of Octavius, they might successfully oppose
Antony and restore constitutional government. He determined to return,
and announced his purpose to Brutus and Cassius, who commended him and
took leave of him. They went their way to the east to raise armies
against Antony; he repaired to Rome to fight the battles of his party in
the senate house.

Meanwhile Antony had been running riot. In possession of Caesar's papers,
with no one to check him, he produced ready warrant for every measure
which he wished to carry, and pleaded the vote of the senate which
confirmed all the acts of Caesar. When he could not produce a genuine
paper, he interpolated or forged what was needful.

On the day after Cicero's return (September 1st) there was a meeting of
the senate. But the orator did not attend, and Antony threatened to send
men to drag him from his house. Next day Cicero was in his place, but
now Antony was absent. The orator arose and addressed the senate in what
is called his _First Philippic_. This was a measured attack upon the
government and policy of Antony, but personalities were carefully
eschewed: the tone of the whole speech, indeed, is such as might be
delivered by a leader of opposition in parliament at the present day.
But Antony, enraged at his boldness, summoned a meeting for the 19th of
September, which Cicero did not think it prudent to attend. He then
attacked the absent orator in the strongest language of personal abuse
and menace. Cicero sat down and composed his famous _Second Philippic_,
which is written as if it were delivered on the same day, in reply to
Antony's invective. At present, however, he contented himself with
sending a copy of it to Atticus, enjoining secrecy.

Matters quickly drew to a head between Antony and Octavius. The latter
had succeeded in securing a thousand men of his uncle's veterans who had
settled in Campania; and by great exertions in the different towns of
Italy had levied a considerable force. Meantime four of the Epirote
legions had just landed at Brundusium, and Antony hastened to attach
them to his cause. But the largess which he offered them was only a
hundred _denaries_ a man, and the soldiers laughed in his face. Antony,
enraged at their conduct, seized the ringleaders and decimated them. But
this severity only served to change their open insolence into sullen
anger, and emissaries from Octavius were ready to draw them over to the
side of their young master. They had so far obeyed Antony as to march
northward to Ariminum, while he repaired to Rome. But as he entered the
senate house he heard that two of the four legions had deserted to his
rival, and in great alarm he hastened to the camp just in time to keep
the remainder of the troops under his standard by distributing to every
man five hundred denaries.

The persons to hold the consulship for the next year had been designated
by Caesar. They were both old officers of the Gallic army, C. Vibius
Pansa and Au. Hirtius, the reputed author of the Eighth Book of the
_History of the Gallic War_. Cicero was ready to believe that they had
become patriots, because, disgusted with the arrogance of Antony, they
had declared for Octavius and the senate. Antony began to fear that all
parties might combine to crush him. He determined, therefore, no longer
to remain inactive; and about the end of November, having now collected
all his troops at Ariminum, he marched along the AEmilian road to drive
Dec. Brutus out of Cisalpine Gaul. Decimus was obliged to throw himself
into Mutina (Modena), and Antony blockaded the place. As soon as his
back was turned, Cicero published the famous _Second Philippic_, in
which he lashed the consul with the most unsparing hand, going through
the history of his past life, exaggerating the debaucheries, which were
common to Antony with great part of the Roman youth, and painting in the
strongest colors the profligate use he had made of Caesar's papers. Its
effect was great, and Cicero followed up the blow by the following
twelve _Philippics_, which were speeches delivered in the senate house
and Forum, at intervals from December (44) to April in the next year.

Cicero was anxious to break with Antony at once, by declaring him a
public enemy. But the latter was still regarded by many senators as the
head of the Caesarean party, and it was resolved to treat with him. But
the demands of Antony were so extravagant that negotiations were at once
broken off, and nothing remained but to try the fortune of arms. The
consuls proceeded to levy troops; but so exhausted was the treasury that
now for the first time since the triumph of AEmilius Paullus it was found
necessary to levy a property tax on the citizens of Rome.

Octavius and the consuls assembled their forces at Alba. On the first
day of the new year (43) Hirtius marched for Mutina, with Octavius under
his command. The other consul, Pansa, remained at Rome to raise new
levies; but by the end of March he also marched to form a junction with
Hirtius. Both parties pretended to be acting in Caesar's name.

Antony left his brother Lucius in the trenches before Mutina, and took
the field against Hirtius and Octavius. For three months the opponents
lay watching each other. But when Antony learned that Pansa was coming
up, he made a rapid movement southward with two of his veteran legions
and attacked him. A sharp conflict followed, in which Pansa's troops
were defeated, and the consul himself was carried, mortally wounded, off
the field. But Hirtius was on the alert, and assaulted Antony's wearied
troops on their way back to their camp, with some advantage. This was on
the 15th of April, and on the 27th Hirtius drew Antony from his
intrenchments before Mutina. A fierce battle followed, which ended in
the troops of Antony being driven back into their lines. Hirtius
followed close upon the flying enemy; the camp was carried by storm, and
a complete victory would have been won had not Hirtius himself fallen.
Upon this disaster Octavius drew off the troops. The news of the first
battle had been reported at Rome as a victory, and gave rise to
extravagant rejoicings. The second battle was really a victory, but all
rejoicing was damped by the news that one consul was dead and the other
dying. No such fatal mischance had happened since the Second Punic War,
when Marcellus and Crispinus fell in one day.

After his defeat Antony felt it impossible to maintain the siege of
Mutina. With Dec. Brutus in the town behind him, and the victorious
legions of Octavius before him, his position was critical. He therefore
prepared to retreat, and effected this purpose like a good soldier. His
destination was the province of Narbonnese Gaul, where Lepidus had
assumed the government and had promised him support. But the senate also
had hopes in the same quarter. L. Munatius Plancus commanded in Northern
Gaul, and C. Asinius Pollio in Southern Spain. Sext. Pompeius had made
good his ground in the latter country, and had almost expelled Pollio
from Baetica. Plancus and Pollio, both friends and favorites of Caesar,
had as yet declared neither for Antony nor Octavius. If they would
declare for the senate, Lepidus, a feeble and fickle man, might desert
Antony; or if Octavius would join with Dec. Brutus, and pursue him,
Antony might not be able to escape from Italy at all. But these
political combinations failed. Plancus and Pollio stood aloof, waiting
for the course of events. Dec. Brutus was not strong enough to pursue
Antony by himself, and Octavius was unwilling, perhaps unable, to unite
the veterans of Caesar with troops commanded by one of Caesar's murderers.
And so it happened that Antony effected his retreat across the Alps, but
not without extreme hardships, which he bore in common with the meanest
soldier. It was at such times that his good qualities always showed
themselves, and his gallant endurance of misery endeared him to every
man under his command. On his arrival in Narbonnese Gaul he met Lepidus
at Forum Julii (Frejus), and here the two commanders agreed on a plan of

The conduct of Octavius gave rise to grave suspicions. It was even said
that the consuls had been killed by his agents. Cicero, who had hitherto
maintained his cause, was silent. He had delivered his _Fourteenth_ and
last _Philippic_ on the news of the first victory gained by Hirtius. But
now he talked in private of "removing" the boy of whom he had hoped to
make a tool. Octavius, however, had taken his part, and was not to be
removed. Secretly he entered into negotiations with Antony. After some
vain efforts on the part of the senate to thwart him, he appeared in the
Campus Martius with his legions. Cicero and most of the senators
disappeared, and the fickle populace greeted the young heir of Caesar
with applause. Though he was not yet twenty he demanded the consulship,
having been previously relieved from the provisions of the _Lex Annalis_
by a decree of the senate, and he was elected to the first office in the
State, with his cousin, Q. Pedius.[80]

[Footnote 80: Pedius was son of Caesar's second sister, Julia minor, and
therefore first cousin (once removed) to Octavius.]

A curiate law passed, by which Octavius was adopted into the patrician
gens of the Julii, and was put into legal possession of the name which
he had already assumed--C. Julius Caesar Octavianus. We shall henceforth
call him Octavian.

The change in his policy was soon indicated by a law in which he
formally separated himself from the senate. Pedius brought it forward.
By its provisions all Caesar's murderers were summoned to take their
trial. Of course none of them appeared and they were condemned by
default. By the end of September Octavian was again in Cisalpine Gaul
and in close negotiation with Antony and Lepidus. The fruits of his
conduct soon appeared. Plancus and Pollio declared against Caesar's
murderers. Dec. Brutus, deserted by his soldiery, attempted to escape
into Macedonia through Illyricum; but he was overtaken near Aquileia and
slain by order of Antony.

Italy and Gaul being now clear of the senatorial party, Lepidus, as
mediator, arranged a meeting between Octavian and Antony, upon an island
in a small river near Bononia (Bologna). Here the three potentates
agreed that they should assume a joint and coordinate authority, under
the name of "Triumvirs for settling the affairs of the Commonwealth."
Antony was to have the two Gauls, except the Narbonnese district, which,
with Spain, was assigned to Lepidus; Octavian received Sicily, Sardinia,
and Africa. Italy was for the present to be left to the consuls of the
year, and for the ensuing year Lepidus, with Plancus, received promise
of this high office. In return, Lepidus gave up his military force,
while Octavian and Antony, each at the head of ten legions, prepared to
conquer the Eastern part of the empire, which could not yet be divided
like the Western provinces, because it was in possession of Brutus and

But before they began war, the triumvirs agreed to follow the example
set by Sylla--to extirpate their opponents by a proscription, and to
raise money by confiscation. They framed a list of all men's names whose
death could be regarded as advantageous to any of the three, and on this
list each in turn pricked a name. Antony had made many personal enemies
by his proceedings at Rome, and was at no loss for victims. Octavian had
few direct enemies; but the boy-despot discerned with precocious
sagacity those who were likely to impede his ambitious projects, and
chose his victims with little hesitation. Lepidus would not be left
behind in the bloody work. The author of the _Philippics_ was one of
Antony's first victims; Octavian gave him up, and took as an equivalent
for his late friend the life of L. Caesar, uncle of Antony. Lepidus
surrendered his brother Paullus for some similar favor. So the work went
on. Not fewer than three hundred senators and two thousand knights were
on the list. Q. Pedius, an honest and upright man, died in his
consulship, overcome by vexation and shame at being implicated in these

As soon as their secret business was ended, the triumvirs determined to
enter Rome publicly. Hitherto they had not published more than seventeen
names of the proscribed. They made their entrance severally on three
successive days, each attended by a legion. A law was immediately
brought in to invest them formally with the supreme authority, which
they had assumed. This was followed by the promulgation of successive
lists, each larger than its predecessor.

Among the victims, far the most conspicuous was Cicero. With his brother
Quintus, the old orator had retired to his Tusculan villa after the
battle of Mutina; and now they endeavored to escape in the hope of
joining Brutus in Macedonia; for the orator's only son was serving as a
tribune in the liberator's army. After many changes of domicile they
reached Astura, a little island near Antium, where they found themselves
short of money, and Quintus ventured to Rome to procure the necessary
supply. Here he was recognized and seized, together with his son. Each
desired to die first, and the mournful claim to precedence was settled
by the soldiers killing both at the same moment.

Meantime Cicero had put to sea. But even in this extremity he could not
make up his mind to leave Italy, and put to land at Circeii. After
further hesitation he again embarked, and again sought the Italian shore
near Formiae. For the night he stayed at his villa near that place, and
next morning would not move, exclaiming: "Let me die in my own
country--that country which I have so often saved." But his faithful
slaves forced him into a litter and carried him again toward the coast.
Scarcely were they gone when a band of Antony's bloodhounds reached his
villa, and were put upon the track of their victim by a young man who
owed everything to the Ciceros. The old orator from his litter saw the
pursuers coming up. His own followers were strong enough to have made
resistance, but he desired them to set the litter down. Then, raising
himself on his elbow, he calmly waited for the ruffians and offered his
neck to the sword. He was soon despatched. The chief of the band, by
Antony's express orders, hewed off the head and hands and carried them
to Rome. Fulvia, the widow of Clodius and now the wife of Antony, drove
her hairpin through the tongue which had denounced the iniquities of
both her husbands. The head which had given birth to the _Second
Philippic_, and the hands which had written it, were nailed to the
Rostra, the home of their eloquence. The sight and the associations
raised feelings of horror and pity in every heart. Cicero died in his
sixty-fourth year.

Brutus and Cassius left Italy in the autumn of B.C. 44 and repaired to
the provinces which had been allotted to them, though by Antony's
influence the senate had transferred Macedonia from Brutus to his own
brother Caius, and Syria from Cassius to Dolabella. C. Antonius was
already in possession of parts of Macedonia; but Brutus succeeded in
dislodging him. Meanwhile Cassius, already well known in Syria for his
successful conduct of the Parthian War, had established himself in that
province before he heard of the approach of Dolabella. This worthless
man left Italy about the same time as Brutus and Cassius, and at the
head of several legions marched without opposition through Macedonia
into Asia Minor. Here C. Trebonius had already arrived. But he was
unable to cope with Dolabella; and the latter surprised him and took him
prisoner at Smyrna. He was put to death with unseemly contumely in
Dolabella's presence. This was in February, 43; and thus two of Caesar's
murderers, in less than a year's time, felt the blow of retributive
justice. When the news of this piece of butchery reached Rome, Cicero,
believing that Octavian was a puppet in his hands, was ruling Rome by
the eloquence of his _Philippics_. On his motion Dolabella was declared
a public enemy.[81] Cassius lost no time in marching his legions into
Asia, to execute the behest of the senate, though he had been
dispossessed of his province by the senate itself. Dolabella threw
himself into Laodicea, where he sought a voluntary death.

[Footnote 81: He had divorced Tullia, the orator's daughter, before he
left Italy.]

By the end of B.C. 43, therefore, the whole of the East was in the hands
of Brutus and Cassius. But instead of making preparations for war with
Antony, the two commanders spent the early part of the year 42 in
plundering the miserable cities of Asia Minor. Brutus demanded men and
money of the Lycians; and, when they refused, he laid siege to Xanthus,
their principal city. The Xanthians made the same brave resistance which
they had offered five hundred years before to the Persian invaders. They
burned their city and put themselves to death rather than submit. Brutus
wept over their fate and abstained from further exactions. But Cassius
showed less moderation; from the Rhodians alone, though they were allies
of Rome, he demanded all their precious metals. After this campaign of
plunder, the two chiefs met at Sardis and renewed the altercations which
Cicero had deplored in Italy. It is probable that war might have broken
out between them had not the preparations of the triumvirs waked them
from their dream of security. It was as he was passing over into Europe
that Brutus, who continued his studious habits amid all disquietudes,
and limited his time of sleep to a period too small for the requirements
of health, was dispirited by the vision which Shakespeare, after
Plutarch, has made famous. It was no doubt the result of a diseased
frame, though it was universally held to be a divine visitation. As he
sat in his tent in the dead of night, he thought a huge and shadowy form
stood by him; and when he calmly asked, "What and whence art thou?" it
answered, or seemed to answer: "I am thine evil genius, Brutus: we shall
meet again at Philippi."

Meantime Antony's lieutenants had crossed the Ionian Sea and penetrated
without opposition into Thrace. The republican leaders found them at
Philippi. The army of Brutus and Cassius amounted to at least eighty
thousand infantry, supported by twenty thousand horse; but they were
ill-supplied with experienced officers. For M. Valerius Messalla, a
young man of twenty-eight, held the chief command after Brutus and
Cassius; and Horace, who was but three-and-twenty, the son of a
freedman, and a youth of feeble constitution, was appointed a legionary
tribune. The forces opposed to them would have been at once overpowered
had not Antony himself opportunely arrived with the second corps of the
triumviral army. Octavian was detained by illness at Dyrrhachium, but he
ordered himself to be carried on a litter to join his legions. The army
of the triumvirs was now superior to the enemy; but their cavalry,
counting only thirteen thousand, was considerably weaker than the force
opposed to it. The republicans were strongly posted upon two hills, with
intrenchments between: the camp of Cassius upon the left next the sea,
that of Brutus inland on the right. The triumviral army lay upon the
open plain before them, in a position rendered unhealthy by marshes;
Antony, on the right, was opposed to Cassius; Octavian, on the left,
fronted Brutus. But they were ill-supplied with provisions and anxious
for a decisive battle. The republicans, however, kept to their
intrenchments, and the other party began to suffer severely from famine.

Determined to bring on an action, Antony began works for the purpose of
cutting off Cassius from the sea. Cassius had always opposed a general
action, but Brutus insisted on putting an end to the suspense, and his
colleague yielded. The day of the attack was probably in October. Brutus
attacked Octavian's army, while Cassius assaulted the working parties of
Antony. Cassius' assault was beaten back with loss, but he succeeded in
regaining his camp in safety. Meanwhile, Messalla, who commanded the
right wing of Brutus' army, had defeated the host of Octavian, who was
still too ill to appear on the field, and the republican soldiers
penetrated into the triumvirs' camp. Presently his litter was brought in
stained with blood, and the corpse of a young man found near it was
supposed to be Octavian's. But Brutus, not receiving any tidings of the
movements of Cassius, became so anxious for his fate that he sent off a
party of horse to make inquiries, and neglected to support the
successful assaults of Messalla.

Cassius, on his part, discouraged at his ill-success, was unable to
ascertain the progress of Brutus. When he saw the party of horse he
hastily concluded that they belonged to the enemy, and retired into his
tent with his freedman Pindarus. What passed there we know not for
certain. Cassius was found dead, with the head severed from the body.
Pindarus was never seen again. It was generally believed that Pindarus
slew his master in obedience to orders; but many thought that he had
dealt a felon blow. The intelligence of Cassius' death was a heavy blow
to Brutus. He forgot his own success, and pronounced the elegy of
Cassius in the well-known words, "There lies the last of the Romans."
The praise was ill-deserved. Except in his conduct of the war against
the Parthians, Cassius had never played a worthy part.

After the first battle of Philippi it would have still been politic in
Brutus to abstain from battle. The triumviral armies were in great
distress, and every day increased their losses. Reinforcements coming to
their aid by sea were intercepted--a proof of the neglect of the
republican leaders in not sooner bringing their fleet into action. Nor
did Brutus ever hear of this success. He was ill-fitted for the life of
the camp, and after the death of Cassius he only kept his men together
by largesse and promises of plunder. Twenty days after the first battle
he led them out again. Both armies faced one another. There was little
manoeuvring. The second battle was decided by numbers and force, not by
skill; and it was decided in favor of the triumvirs. Brutus retired with
four legions to a strong position in the rear, while the rest of his
broken army sought refuge in the camp. Octavian remained to watch them,
while Antony pursued the republican chief. Next day Brutus endeavored to
rouse his men to another effort; but they sullenly refused to fight; and
Brutus withdrew with a few friends into a neighboring wood. Here he took
them aside one by one, and prayed each to do him the last service that a
Roman could render to his friend. All refused with horror; till at
nightfall a trusty Greek freedman named Strato held the sword, and his
master threw himself upon it. Most of his friends followed the sad
example. The body of Brutus was sent by Antony to his mother. His wife
Portia, the daughter of Cato, refused all comfort; and being too closely
watched to be able to slay herself by ordinary means, she suffocated
herself by thrusting burning charcoal into her mouth. Massalla, with a
number of other fugitives, sought safety in the island of Thasos, and
soon after made submission to Antony.

The name of Brutus has, by Plutarch's beautiful narrative, sublimed by
Shakespeare, become a byword for self-devoted patriotism. This exalted
opinion is now generally confessed to be unjust. Brutus was not a
patriot, unless devotion to the party of the senate be patriotism.
Toward the provincials he was a true Roman, harsh and oppressive. He was
free from the sensuality and profligacy of his age, but for public life
he was unfit. His habits were those of a student. His application was
great, his memory remarkable. But he possessed little power of turning
his acquirements to account; and to the last he was rather a learned man
than a man improved by learning. In comparison with Cassius, he was
humane and generous; but in all respects his character is contrasted for
the worse with that of the great man from whom he accepted favors and
then became his murderer.

The battle of Philippi was in reality the closing scene of the
republican drama. But the rivalship of the triumvirs prolonged for
several years the divided state of the Roman world; and it was not till
after the crowning victory of Actium that the imperial government was
established in its unity. We shall, therefore, here add a rapid
narrative of the events which led to that consummation.

The hopeless state of the republican or rather the senatorial party was
such that almost all hastened to make submission to the conquerors:
those whose sturdy spirit still disdained submission resorted to Sext.
Pompeius in Sicily. Octavian, still suffering from ill-health, was
anxious to return to Italy; but before he parted from Antony, they
agreed to a second distribution of the provinces of the empire. Antony
was to have the Eastern world; Octavian the Western provinces. To
Lepidus, who was not consulted in this second division, Africa alone was
left. Sext. Pompeius remained in possession of Sicily.

Antony at once proceeded to make a tour through Western Asia, in order
to exact money from its unfortunate people. About midsummer (B.C. 41) he
arrived at Tarsus, and here he received a visit which determined the
future course of his life and influenced Roman history for the next ten

Antony had visited Alexandria fourteen years before, and had been
smitten by the charms of Cleopatra, then a girl of fifteen. She became
Caesar's paramour, and from the time of the dictator's death Antony had
never seen her. She now came to meet him in Cilicia. The galley which
carried her up the Cydnus was of more than oriental gorgeousness: the
sails of purple; oars of silver, moving to the sound of music; the
raised poop burnished with gold. There she lay upon a splendid couch,
shaded by a spangled canopy; her attire was that of Venus; around her
flitted attendant cupids and graces. At the news of her approach to
Tarsus, the triumvir found his tribunal deserted by the people. She
invited him to her ship, and he complied. From that moment he was her
slave. He accompanied her to Alexandria, exchanged the Roman garb for
the Graeco-Egyptian costume of the court, and lent his power to the
Queen to execute all her caprices.

Meanwhile Octavian was not without his difficulties. He was so ill at
Brundusium that his death was reported at Rome. The veterans, eager for
their promised rewards, were on the eve of mutiny. In a short time
Octavian was sufficiently recovered to show himself. But he could find
no other means of satisfying the greedy soldiery than by a confiscation
of lands more sweeping than that which followed the proscription of
Sylla. The towns of Cisalpine Gaul were accused of favoring Dec. Brutus,
and saw nearly all their lands handed over to new possessors. The young
poet, Vergil, lost his little patrimony, but was reinstated at the
instance of Pollio and Maecenas, and showed his gratitude in his _First
Eclogue_. Other parts of Italy also suffered: Apulia, for example, as we
learn from Horace's friend Ofellus, who became the tenant of the estate
which had formerly been his own.

But these violent measures deferred rather than obviated the difficulty.
The expulsion of so many persons threw thousands loose upon society,
ripe for any crime. Many of the veterans were ready to join any new
leader who promised them booty. Such a leader was at hand.

Fulvia, wife of Antony, was a woman of fierce passions and ambitious
spirit. She had not been invited to follow her husband to the East. She
saw that in his absence imperial power would fall into the hands of
Octavian. Lucius, brother of Mark Antony, was consul for the year, and
at her instigation he raised his standard at Praeneste. But L. Antonius
knew not how to use his strength; and young Agrippa, to whom Octavian
intrusted the command, obliged Antonius and Fulvia to retire northward
and shut themselves up in Perusia. Their store of provisions was so
small that it sufficed only for the soldiery. Early in the next year
Perusia surrendered, on condition that the lives of the leaders should
be spared. The town was sacked; the conduct of L. Antonius alienated all
Italy from his brother.

While his wife, his brother, and his friends were quitting Italy in
confusion, the arms of Antony suffered a still heavier blow in the
Eastern provinces, which were under his special government. After the
battle of Philippi, Q. Labienus, son of Caesar's old lieutenant Titus,
sought refuge at the court of Orodes, king of Parthia. Encouraged by the
proffered aid of a Roman officer, Pacorus (the King's son) led a
formidable army into Syria. Antony's lieutenant was entirely routed; and
while Pacorus with one army poured into Palestine and Phoenicia, Q.
Labienus with another broke into Cilicia. Here he found no opposition;
and, overrunning all Asia Minor even to the Ionian Sea, he assumed the
name of Parthicus, as if he had been a Roman conqueror of the people
whom he served.

These complicated disasters roused Antony from his lethargy. He sailed
to Tyre, intending to take the field against the Parthians; but the
season was too far advanced, and he therefore crossed the AEgean to
Athens, where he found Fulvia and his brother, accompanied by Pollio,
Plancus, and others, all discontented with Octavian's government.
Octavian was absent in Gaul, and their representation of the state of
Italy encouraged him to make another attempt. Late in the year (41)
Antony formed a league with Sext. Pompeius; and while that chief
blockaded Thurii and Consentia, Antony assailed Brundusium. Agrippa was
preparing to meet this new combination; and a fresh civil war was
imminent. But the soldiery was weary of war: both armies compelled their
leaders to make pacific overtures, and the new year was ushered in by a
general peace, which was rendered easier by the death of Fulvia. Antony
and Octavian renewed their professions of amity, and entered Rome
together in joint ovation to celebrate the restoration of peace. They
now made a third division of the provinces, by which Scodra (Scutari) in
Illyricum was fixed as the boundary of the West and East; Lepidus was
still left in possession of Africa. It was further agreed that Octavian
was to drive Sext. Pompeius, lately the ally of Antony, out of Sicily;
while Antony renewed his pledges to recover the standards of Crassus
from the Parthians. The new compact was sealed by the marriage of Antony
with Octavia, his colleague's sister, a virtuous and beautiful lady,
worthy of a better consort. These auspicious events were celebrated by
the lofty verse of Vergil's _Fourth Eclogue_.

Sext. Pompeius had reason to complain. By the peace of Brundusium he was
abandoned by his late friend to Octavian. He was not a man to brook
ungenerous treatment. Of late years his possession of Sicily had given
him command of the Roman corn market. During the winter which followed
the peace of Brundusium (B.C. 40-39), Sextus blockaded Italy so closely
that Rome was threatened with a positive dearth. Riots arose; the
triumvirs were pelted with stones in the Forum, and they deemed it
prudent to temporize by inviting Pompey to enter their league. He met
them at Misenum, and the two chiefs went on board his ship to settle the
terms of alliance. It is said that one of his chief officers, a Greek
named Menas or Menodorus, suggested to him the expediency of putting to
sea with the great prize, and then making his own terms. Sextus rejected
the advice with the characteristic words, "You should have done it
without asking me." It was agreed that Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica
should be given up to his absolute rule, and that Achaia should be added
to his portion; so that the Roman world was now partitioned among four:
Octavian, Antony, Lepidus, and Sext. Pompeius. On their return the
triumvirs were received with vociferous applause.

Before winter, Antony sailed for Athens in company with Octavia, who for
the time seems to have banished Cleopatra from his thoughts. But he
disgusted all true Romans by assuming the attributes of Grecian gods and
indulging in Grecian orgies.

He found the state of things in the East greatly changed since his
departure. He had commissioned P. Ventidius Bassus, an officer who had
followed Fulvia from Italy, to hold the Parthians in check till his
return. Ventidius was son of a Picenian nobleman of Asculum, who had
been brought to Rome as a captive in the Social War. In his youth he had
been a contractor to supply mules for the use of the Roman commissariat.
But in the civil wars which followed, men of military talent easily rose
to command; and such was the lot of Ventidius. While Antony was absent
in Italy, he drove Q. Labienus into the defiles of Taurus, and here that
adventurer was defeated and slain. The conqueror then marched rapidly
into Syria, and forced Pacorus also to withdraw to the eastern bank of
the Euphrates.

In the following year (38) he repelled a fresh invasion of the
Parthians, and defeated them in three battles. In the last of these
engagements Pacorus himself was slain on the fifteenth anniversary of
the death of Crassus. Antony found Ventidius laying siege to Samosata,
and displaced him, only to abandon the siege and return to Athens.
Ventidius repaired to Rome, where he was honored with a well-deserved
triumph. He had left it as a mule jobber; he returned with the laurel
round his brows. He was the first, and almost the last, Roman general
who could claim such a distinction for victory over the Parthians.

The alliance with Sext. Pompeius was not intended to last, and it did
not last. Antony refused to put him in possession of Achaia, and to
avenge himself for this breach of faith Pompeius again began to
intercept the Italian corn fleets. Fresh discontent appeared at Rome,
and Octavian equipped a second fleet to sail against the naval chief;
but after two battles of doubtful result, the fleet was destroyed by a
storm, and Sextus was again left in undisputed mastery of the sea.
Octavian, however, was never daunted by reverses, and he gave his
favorite Agrippa full powers to conduct the war against Pompeius. This
able commander set about his work with that resolution that marked a man
determined not to fail. As a harbor for his fleet, he executed a plan of
the great Caesar; namely, to make a good and secure harbor on the coast
of Latium, which then, as now, offered no shelter to ships. For this
purpose he cut a passage through the narrow necks of land which
separated Lake Lucrinus from the sea, and Lake Avernus from Lake
Lucrinus, and faced the outer barrier with stone. This was the famous
Julian Port. In the whole of the two years B.C. 38 and 37 Agrippa was
occupied in this work and in preparing a sufficient force of ships.
Every dockyard in Italy was called into requisition. A large body of
slaves was set free that they might be trained to serve as rowers.

On the 1st of July, B.C. 36, the fleet put to sea. Octavian himself,
with one division, purposed to attack the northern coast of Sicily,
while a second squadron was assembled at Tarentum for the purpose of
assailing the eastern side. Lepidus, with a third fleet from Africa, was
to assault Lilybaeum. But the winds were again adverse; and, though
Lepidus effected a landing on the southern coast, Octavian's two fleets
were driven back to Italy with great damage. But the injured ships were
refitted, and Agrippa was sent westward toward Panormus, while Octavian
himself kept guard near Messana. Off Mylae, a place famous for having
witnessed the first naval victory of the Romans, Agrippa encountered the
fleet of Sext. Pompeius; but Sextus, with the larger portion of his
ships, gave Agrippa the slip, and sailing eastward fell suddenly upon
Octavian's squadron off Tauromenium. A desperate conflict followed,
which ended in the complete triumph of Sextus, and Octavian escaped to
Italy with a few ships only. But Agrippa was soon upon the traces of the
enemy. On the 3d of September Sextus was obliged once more to accept
battle near the Straits of Messana, and suffered an irretrievable
defeat. His troops on land were attacked and dispersed by an army which
had been landed on the eastern coast by the indefatigable Octavian; and
Sextus sailed off to Lesbos, where he had found refuge as a boy during
the campaign of Pharsalia, to seek protection from the jealousy of

Lepidus had assisted in the campaign; but after the departure of Sextus
he openly declared himself independent of his brother triumvirs.
Octavian, with prompt and prudent boldness, entered the camp of Lepidus
in person with a few attendants. The soldiers deserted in crowds, and in
a few hours Lepidus was fain to sue for pardon, where he had hoped to
rule. He was treated with contemptuous indifference, Africa was taken
from him; but he was allowed to live and die at Rome in quiet enjoyment
of the chief pontificate.

It was fortunate for Octavian that during this campaign Antony was on
friendly terms with him. In B.C. 37 the ruler of the East again visited
Italy, and a meeting between the two chiefs was arranged at Tarentum.
The five years for which the triumvirs were originally appointed were
now fast expiring; and it was settled that their authority should be
renewed by the subservient senate and people for a second period of the
same duration. They parted good friends; and Octavian undertook his
campaign against Sext. Pompeius without fear from Antony. This was
proved by the fate of the fugitive. From Lesbos Sextus passed over to
Asia, where he was taken prisoner by Antony's lieutenants and put to

Hitherto Octavia had retained her influence over Antony. But presently,
after his last interview with her brother, the fickle triumvir abruptly
quitted a wife who was too good for him, and returned to the fascinating
presence of the Egyptian Queen, whom he had not seen for three years.
From this time forth he made no attempt to break the silken chain of her
enchantments. During the next summer, indeed, he attempted a new
Parthian campaign. But his advance was made with reckless indifference
to the safety of his troops. Provisions failed; disease broke out; and
after great suffering he was forced to seek safety by a precipitate
retreat into the Armenian mountains. In the next year he contented
himself with a campaign in Armenia, to punish the King of that country
for alleged treachery in the last campaign. The King fell into his
hands; and with this trophy Antony returned to Alexandria, where the
Romans were disgusted to see the streets of a Graeco-Egyptian town
honored by a mimicry of a Roman triumph.

For the next three years he surrendered himself absolutely to the will
of the enchantress. To this period belong those tales of luxurious
indulgence which are known to every reader. The brave soldier, who in
the perils of war could shake off all luxurious habits and could rival
the commonest man in the cheerfulness with which he underwent every
hardship, was seen no more. He sunk into an indolent voluptuary, pleased
by childish amusements. At one time he would lounge in a boat at a
fishing party, and laugh when he drew up pieces of salt fish which by
the Queen's order had been attached to his hook by divers. At another
time she wagered that she would consume ten million sesterces at one
meal, and won her wager by dissolving in vinegar a pearl of unknown
value. While Cleopatra bore the character of the goddess Isis, her lover
appeared as Osiris. Her head was placed conjointly with his own on the
coins which he issued as a Roman magistrate. He disposed of the kingdoms
and principalities of the East by his sole word. By his influence Herod,
son of Antipater, the Idumaean minister of Hyrcanus, the late sovereign
of Judea, was made king to the exclusion of the rightful heir. Polemo,
his own son by Cleopatra, was invested with the sceptre of Armenia.
Encouraged by the absolute submission of her lover, Cleopatra fixed her
eye upon the Capitol, and dreamed of winning by means of Antony that
imperial crown which she had vainly sought from Caesar.

While Antony was engaged in voluptuous dalliance, Octavian was
resolutely pursuing the work of consolidating his power in the West. His
patience, his industry, his attention to business, his affability, were
winning golden opinions and rapidly obliterating all memory of the
bloody work by which he had risen to power. He had won little glory in
war; but so long as the corn fleets arrived daily from Sicily and
Africa, the populace cared little whether the victory had been won by
Octavian or by his generals. In Agrippa he possessed a consummate
captain, in Maecenas a wise and temperate minister. It is much to his
credit that he never showed any jealousy of the men to whom he owed so
much. He flattered the people with the hope that he would, when Antony
had fulfilled his mission of recovering the standards of Crassus, engage
him to join in putting an end to their sovereign power and restoring
constitutional liberty.

In point of fidelity to his marriage vows Octavian was little better
than Antony. He renounced his marriage with Clodia, the daughter of
Fulvia, when her mother attempted to raise Italy against him. He
divorced Scribonia, when it no longer suited him to court the favor of
her kinsman. To replace this second wife, he forcibly took away Livia
from her husband, T. Claudius Nero, though she was at that time pregnant
of her second son. But in this and other less pardonable immoralities
there was nothing to shock the feelings of Romans.

But Octavian never suffered pleasure to divert him from business. If he
could not be a successful general, he resolved at least to show that he
could be a hardy soldier. While Antony in his Egyptian palace was
neglecting the Parthian War, his rival led his legions in more than one
dangerous campaign against the barbarous Dalmatians and Pannonians, who
had been for some time infesting the province of Illyricum. In the year
B.C. 33 he announced that the limits of the empire had been extended
northward to the banks of the Save.

Octavian now began to feel that any appearance of friendship with Antony
was a source of weakness rather than of strength at Rome.
Misunderstandings had already broken out. Antony complained that
Octavian had given him no share in the provinces wrested from Sext.
Pompeius and Lepidus. Octavian retorted by accusing his colleague of
appropriating Egypt and Armenia, and of increasing Cleopatra's power at
the expense of the Roman Empire. Popular indignation rose to its height
when Plancus and Titius, who had been admitted to Antony's confidence,
passed over to Octavian, and disclosed the contents of their master's
will. In that document Antony ordered that his body should be buried at
Alexandria, in the mausoleum of Cleopatra. Men began to fancy that
Cleopatra had already planted her throne upon the Capitol. These
suspicions were sedulously encouraged by Octavian.

Before the close of B.C. 32, Octavian, by the authority of the senate,
declared war nominally against Cleopatra. Antony, roused from his sleep
by reports from Rome, passed over to Athens, issuing orders everywhere
to levy men and collect ships for the impending struggle. At Athens he
received news of the declaration of war, and replied by divorcing
Octavia. His fleet was ordered to assemble at Corcyra; and his legions
in the early spring prepared to pour into Epirus. He established his
head-quarters at Patrae on the Corinthian Gulf.

But Antony, though his fleet was superior to that of Octavian, allowed
Agrippa to sweep the Ionian Sea, and to take possession of Methone, in
Messenia, as a station for a flying squadron to intercept Antony's
communications with the East, nay, even to occupy Corcyra, which had
been destined for his own place of rendezvous. Antony's fleet now
anchored in the waters of the Ambracian Gulf, while his legions encamped
on a spot of land which forms the northern horn of that spacious inlet.
But the place chosen for the camp was unhealthy; and in the heats of
early summer his army suffered greatly from disease. Agrippa lay close
at hand watching his opportunity. In the course of the spring Octavian
joined him in person.

Early in the season Antony had repaired from Patrae to his army, so as to
be ready either to cross over into Italy or to meet the enemy if they
attempted to land in Epirus. At first he showed something of his old
military spirit, and the soldiers, who always loved his military
frankness, warmed into enthusiasm; but his chief officers, won by
Octavian or disgusted by the influence of Cleopatra, deserted him in
such numbers that he knew not whom to trust, and gave up all thoughts of
maintaining the contest with energy. Urged by Cleopatra, he resolved to
carry off his fleet and abandon the army. All preparations were made in
secret, and the great fleet put to sea on the 28th of August. For the
four following days there was a strong gale from the south. Neither
could Antony escape nor could Octavian put to sea against him from
Corcyra. On the 2d of September, however, the wind fell, and Octavian's
light vessels, by using their oars, easily came up with the unwieldy
galleys of the eastern fleet. A battle was now inevitable.

Antony's ships were like impregnable fortresses to the assault of the
slight vessels of Octavian; and, though they lay nearly motionless in
the calm sea, little impression was made upon them. But about noon a
breeze sprung up from the west; and Cleopatra, followed by sixty
Egyptian ships, made sail in a southerly direction. Antony immediately
sprang from his ship-of-war into a light galley and followed. Deserted
by their commander, the captains of Antony's ships continued to resist
desperately; nor was it till the greater part of them were set on fire
that the contest was decided. Before evening closed, the whole fleet was
destroyed; most of the men and all the treasure on board perished. A few
days after, when the shameful flight of Antony was made known to his
army, all his legions went over to the conqueror.

It was not for eleven months after the battle of Actium that Octavian
entered the open gates of Alexandria. He had been employed in the
interval in founding the city of Nicopolis to celebrate his victory on
the northern horn of the Ambracian Gulf, in rewarding his soldiers, and
settling the affairs of the provinces of the East. In the winter he
returned to Italy, and it was midsummer, B.C. 30, before he arrived in

When Antony and Cleopatra arrived off Alexandria they put a bold face
upon the matter. Some time passed before the real state of the case was
known; but it soon became plain that Egypt was at the mercy of the
conqueror. The Queen formed all kinds of wild designs. One was to
transport the ships that she had saved across the Isthmus of Suez and
seek refuge in some distant land where the name of Rome was yet unknown.
Some ships were actually drawn across, but they were destroyed by the
Arabs, and the plan was abandoned. She now flattered herself that her
powers of fascination, proved so potent over Caesar and Antony, might
subdue Octavian. Secret messages passed between the conqueror and the
Queen; nor were Octavian's answers such as to banish hope.

Antony, full of repentance and despair, shut himself up in Pharos, and
there remained in gloomy isolation.

In July, B.C. 30, Octavian appeared before Pelusium. The place was
surrendered without a blow. Yet, at the approach of the conqueror,
Antony put himself at the head of a division of cavalry and gained some
advantage. But on his return to Alexandria he found that Cleopatra had
given up all her ships; and no more opposition was offered. On the 1st
of August (Sextilis, as it was then called) Octavian entered the open
gates of Alexandria. Both Antony and Cleopatra sought to win him.
Antony's messengers the conqueror refused to see; but he still used fair
words to Cleopatra. The Queen had shut herself up in a sort of mausoleum
built to receive her body after death, which was not approachable by any
door; and it was given out that she was really dead. All the tenderness
of old times revived in Antony's heart. He stabbed himself, and in a
dying state ordered himself to be laid by the side of Cleopatra. The
Queen, touched by pity, ordered her expiring lover to be drawn up by
cords into her retreat, and bathed his temples with her tears.

After he had breathed his last, she consented to see Octavian. Her
penetration soon told her that she had nothing to hope from him. She saw
that his fair words were only intended to prevent her from desperate
acts and reserve her for the degradation of his triumph. This impression
was confirmed when all instruments by which death could be inflicted
were found to have been removed from her apartments. But she was not to
be so baffled. She pretended all submission; but when the ministers of
Octavian came to carry her away, they found her lying dead upon her
couch, attended by her faithful waiting-women, Iras and Charmion. The
manner of her death was never ascertained; popular belief ascribed it to
the bite of an asp which had been conveyed to her in a basket of fruit.

Thus died Antony and Cleopatra. Antony was by nature a genial,
open-hearted Roman, a good soldier, quick, resolute, and vigorous, but
reckless and self-indulgent, devoid alike of prudence and of principle.
The corruptions of the age, the seductions of power, and the evil
influence of Cleopatra paralyzed a nature capable of better things. We
know him chiefly through the exaggerated assaults of Cicero in his
_Philippic_, and the narratives of writers devoted to Octavian. But
after all deductions for partial representation, enough remains to show
that Antony had all the faults of Caesar, with little of his redeeming

Cleopatra was an extraordinary person. At her death she was but
thirty-eight years of age. Her power rested not so much on actual beauty
as on her fascinating manners and her extreme readiness of wit. In her
follies there was a certain magnificence which excites even a dull
imagination. We may estimate the real power of her mental qualities by
observing the impression her character made upon the Roman poets of the
time. No meditated praises could have borne such testimony to her
greatness as the lofty strain in which Horace celebrates her fall and
congratulates the Roman world on its escape from the ruin which she was
threatening to the Capitol.

Octavian dated the years of his imperial monarchy from the day of the
battle of Actium. But it was not till two years after (the summer of
B.C. 29) that he established himself in Rome as ruler of the Roman
world. Then he celebrated three magnificent triumphs, after the example
of his uncle the great dictator, for his victories in Dalmatia, at
Actium, and in Egypt. At the same time the temple of Janus was
closed--notwithstanding that border wars still continued in Gaul and
Spain--for the first time since the year B.C. 235. All men drew breath
more freely, and all except the soldiery looked forward to a time of
tranquillity. Liberty and independence were forgotten words. After the
terrible disorders of the last century, the general cry was for quiet at
any price. Octavian was a person admirably fitted to fulfil these
aspirations. His uncle Julius was too fond of active exertion to play
such a part well. Octavian never shone in war, while his vigilant and
patient mind was well fitted for the discharge of business. He avoided
shocking popular feeling by assuming any title savoring of royalty; but
he enjoyed by universal consent an authority more than regal.


A.D. 9


(The German race was beginning to make itself felt to a greater extent
than hitherto in its efforts for freedom from the Roman rule. Research
shows that from the earliest days there were two distinct peoples under
this designation of _German_--the northern or Scandinavian, and the
southern, being more truly the German. Both consisted of numerous
tribes, the Romans giving separate names to each: from this arose the
generic titles of _Franks, Bavarians, Alamanni_, and the rest.

They were great fighters and, as a natural sequence, mighty hunters.
When warfare did not occupy their attention, hunting, feasting, and
drinking took its place. Tacitus writes: "To drink continuously, night
and day, was no shame for them." Their chief beverage was barley beer,
though, in the South, wine was used to some extent.

Rome had garrisons throughout the whole land, and the fortunes of the
Germans were at a low ebb. Freedom seemed stifled forever when Arminius
led his forces against the Roman hosts in the forest of Teutoburgium.
Rightly does Creasy rate this important battle so highly, for it meant
the final uplifting of the Teuton, and with him the English-speaking
races of a later time.)

To a truly illustrious Frenchman, whose reverses as a minister can never
obscure his achievements in the world of letters, we are indebted for
the most profound and most eloquent estimate that we possess of the
importance of the Germanic element in European civilization, and of the
extent to which the human race is indebted to those brave warriors who
long were the unconquered antagonists, and finally became the
conquerors, of imperial Rome.

Twenty-three eventful years have passed away since M. Guizot[82]
delivered from the chair of modern history, at Paris, his course of
lectures on the history of civilization in Europe. During those years
the spirit of earnest inquiry into the germs and primary developments of
existing institutions has become more and more active and universal, and
the merited celebrity of M. Guizot's work has proportionally increased.
Its admirable analysis of the complex political and social organizations
of which the modern civilized world is made up must have led thousands
to trace with keener interest the great crises of times past, by which
the characteristics of the present were determined. The narrative of one
of these great crises, of the epoch A.D. 9, when Germany took up arms
for her independence against Roman invasion, has for us this special
attraction--that it forms part of our own national history. Had Arminius
been supine or unsuccessful, our Germanic ancestors would have been
enslaved or exterminated in their original seats along the Eider and the
Elbe. This island would never have borne the name of England, and "we,
this great English nation, whose race and language are now overrunning
the earth, from one end of it to the other," would have been utterly cut
off from existence.

[Footnote 82: Guizot was minister of foreign affairs, and later (1848)
prime minister, under Louis Philippe.]

Arnold may, indeed, go too far in holding that we are wholly unconnected
in race with the Romans and Britons who inhabited this country before
the coming over of the Saxons; that, "nationally speaking, the history
of Caesar's invasion has no more to do with us than the natural history
of the animals which then inhabited our forests." There seems ample
evidence to prove that the Romanized Celts whom our Teutonic forefathers
found here influenced materially the character of our nation. But the
main stream of our people was, and is, Germanic. Our language alone
decisively proves this. Arminius is far more truly one of our national
heroes than Caractacus; and it was our own primeval fatherland that the
brave German rescued when he slaughtered the Roman legions, eighteen
centuries ago, in the marshy glens between the Lippe and the Ems.

Dark and disheartening, even to heroic spirits, must have seemed the
prospects of Germany when Arminius planned the general rising of his
countrymen against Rome. Half the land was occupied by Roman garrisons;
and, what was worse, many of the Germans seemed patiently acquiescent in
their state of bondage. The braver portion, whose patriotism could be
relied on, was ill-armed and undisciplined, while the enemy's troops
consisted of veterans in the highest state of equipment and training,
familiarized with victory and commanded by officers of proved skill and
valor. The resources of Rome seemed boundless; her tenacity of purpose
was believed to be invincible. There was no hope of foreign sympathy or
aid; for "the self-governing powers that had filled the Old World had
bent one after another before the rising power of Rome, and had
vanished. The earth seemed left void of independent nations."

The German chieftain knew well the gigantic power of the oppressor.

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