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The condition of Rome itself was so wasted and miserable at the time of Sulla's decease, that the first outbreaks against his dominion were naturally made abroad or in arms. But as years went by, and the Romans recovered from their terrors, the free spirit of their fathers began to breathe again more generally, though it could be vented, at first, only in murmurs. A Tribune, Cneius Sicinius, attempted, two years after the death of the Dictator, to restore the dignity of the office he occupied, by assailing the faction which approved its degradation. 150 A Consul of the next year, Aurelius Cotta, cleared the tribunate from the stigma of ineligibility to other offices ; 151 but the support of this measure cost Quintus Opimius, one of the Tribunes, dear at a trial to which he was soon afterwards held.152 Two years later, a distribution of corn at certain prices was commanded by the Consuls, in order to allay the existing tumults 153 and give the populace a proof that the freedom they liked best, that of largesses, was not yet departed. The Tribunes of the following year aimed higher, with a law to prevent all men condemned for capital crimes from being suffered to remain in the city.154 And the
sus Dives, the only man in Rome, 151 A. C. 75. Cic., Pro C. Corn., Pompey being absent, who would I., with Asconius's Commentary. accept the command against Spar- 152 Sall., loc. cit., Hist., III. tacus, was his victor.
Cic., In Verr. Act. II., I. 60. 150 A. C. 76. Plut., Crass., 7. 53 A. C. 73. Sall., loc. cit., His example was followed by L. Hist., III. Quintius, two years afterwards. 154 A. C. 72. Freinshem., in loc. Plut., Lucull., 5. Orat. Lic. Mac., Liv., XCVI. 37. ap. Sall., Hist., Lib. III.
efforts of still another Tribune, Lollius Palicanus, in the year of Spartacus's defeat, to recover the tribunitian rights,155 were fair enough, perhaps, to prove that there was still some liberty in Rome.
155 A. C. 71. Ascon. in Cic., In Verr. Act. II., l. 15, 47. App., Bell. Civ., I. 121.
RESORT TO ONE.
“But whereas, in common and ordinary wickedness, this unreasonableness, this partiality and selfishness, relates only, or chiefly, to the temper and passions, in the characters we are now considering it reaches to the understanding and influences the very judgment." - Bishop BUTLER, Sermon X.
A REASON not yet touched upon would alone explain the endurance of Sulla's sovereignty beyond his own lifetime, in the hands of his adherents and successors. After years of anarchy and bloodshed, the one dread uppermost at Rome was that of a fresh revolution ; and there could have been no faction or government so oppressive as to make the majority of the citizens, properly speaking, desirous of its overthrow at the expense of the small tranquillity that had been established. A few, perhaps more than a few, eminent men had inclined towards the cause of Sertorius, whom they knew to be the best of all their own generation, whether they sought him for his virtue or on account of the authority he was likely to acquire. But the correspondence they began with him resulted in nothing besides a pile of letters, which Pompey, with noble decision, refused to open amongst the papers of his murdered enemy. He, too,
would rather have quieted old resentments than given rise to new suspicions or hostilities; not only because he was a member, nay, the leader, of the party then in power, whose superiority seemed to depend upon public peace, but because the desire for order and reconciliation was universal. Any evil doings, indeed, of the dominant faction would be more easily discoverable and more effectively assailable in the midst of tranquillity, or after it had a little while continued, than through any instant commotions. Yet, on the other hand, it was no solitary or collected purposes of some future revolution, more rapidly to be matured in general peace than in general turbulence, that made the citizens of the prostrate parties anxious to have peace endure. The worse, in truth, the state of things, the less did it seem that they could be changed or purified.
No name was now so often sounded in the thoroughfares or quiet chambers of the Romans as that of Pompey, on his return from Spain, after an absence of five years. The Senate, who had consented to all his honors, though he was yet so young, because they considered him almost as one of themselves, trusted in him that he would be their champion and the successor of the Dictator, whose memory they had hitherto obeyed. The Knights, to whom he belonged by birth, looked up to him as the leader who should restore them to the places they had not yet recovered since Sulla's triumph. These expectations of the upper orders, together with the thousand reports everywhere in circulation among the masses of the people, were the means by which Pompey was raised, without the need of vaulting or the fear of falling, up to the highest authority in Rome. The free citizens of the Commonwealth were trained beforehand to resort to a single man, either to make him their ruler or claim him for their champion, according to their apparent needs.
3 A. C. 76-71.
2 See Cicero's sketches, taken at this very time, in his Divin. in Q. Cæc., 3 et seq.
Pompey possessed many natural and some acquired pretensions to this place of champion or ruler amongst his countrymen. Although devoid of the highest faculties of mind, he was preëminently endowed with the most impressive graces of demeanour. His popularity, using the word literally, was the fruit of the daily affability that shone round about him; and there was an air of aspiration, so to speak, in his gait and eye and voice, which commanded admiration, at the same time that the amiability of his presence attracted love. To men of nearly his own standing, however, he wore a different look, sometimes because he chose, but oftener because he was inadvertently led, in both cases by his vanity, to offend them. He took to himself, for instance, the entire credit of the victory over Sertorius, and, with still greater preposterousness, assumed the merit over the real conqueror, Crassus, of having ended the war with Spartacus.
5 Plut., Crass., 11 ; Pomp., 21.
4 Plut., Pomp., 2. At the time of the present narrative, he was thirty-five years old.