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ment of domestic tranquillity, such as it was, seemed to leave nothing undone on which his fame and his authority could then depend. A few years sufficed, not merely to weary him of private life, however powerful, but to open a new field to his exploits in the restoration of order beyond the limits of the city and the factions of the citizens of Rome.
A band of pirates, so numerous as to man a thousand ships, and so various as to be partly composed of men well born and reputably educated, was in possession of nearly the entire Mediterranean. More than ten years had been wasted in expeditions against them; while they were covering the shores with beacons or strongholds, plundering “over four hundred cities,” and making their descents upon Caieta, Ostia, and even the Appian Way; so that, at last, a journey by land was as unsafe as a voyage by sea, and they who remained at home were deprived of their necessary supplies of merchandise, clothing, and food from foreign lands.34 It was suddenly rumored that Pompey was willing to take command of an armament against the freebooters, provided it should be properly equipped and he himself should be unrestrictedly commissioned. On the moment, one Aulus Gabinius, a Tribune, whose youth and manhood had been spent in profligacy, urged by the hope of reward from the hero or from the excited people, brought forward a bill proposing the election of a commander with absolute authority for three years
over the whole sea and all its coasts for fifty miles inland, with officers, soldiers, seamen, and supplies according to his own demands, and a fleet of two hundred ships besides.35 Against this extraordinary commission, which Cæsar and probably Cicero both approved, 36 the Senate, — applying the name to the majority of that body, — with some of the magistrates in office, alone appeared in opposition. The countries adjoining the coasts and the islands of the Mediterranean, held by the Senators or their fellowmembers, were too precious in spoils and in services to themselves to be surrendered even to the control of Pompey ; 37 but though their resistance provoked the old tumults of the Forum, the bill was passed, and the only man, as Gabinius said,38 to be found for the command, received it, with large additions to the supplies previously voted. Twenty-four Senators were taken as his lieutenants, besides two Quæstors; five thousand horse, one hundred and twenty thousand heavy-armed, and many thousand light-armed, troops were raised; and five hundred vessels in all were manned. The price of provisions instantly fell, on the appointment of Pompey; and he, after sweeping the seas, routed the pirates on shore within three short months from the time of his departure from
35 A. C. 67. Vell. Pat., II. 31. 37 See the reported harangue of Plut., Pomp., 25.
Catulus in Dion Cass., XXXVI. 36 Plutarch (loc. cit.) speaks of 14 et seq., especially 16. Cæsar. Cicero, in his oration for 38 Ibid., XXXVI. 10. Compare the Manilian law, speaks for him- the anecdote concerning Catulus in self in relation to the Gabinian. Vell. Pat., II. 32.
Rome.39 On the other hand, the interference, feared by the Senate, soon came to pass in Crete, where Metellus, afterwards surnamed Creticus, was superseded by Pompey in the command of a war against the islanders; his triumph likewise being subsequently prevented by the partisans of his superior at home.40 But there were no circumstances so untoward as to hinder the acknowledgment that the great commission against the pirates had been splendidly executed.41
Pompey's eyes were already fixed upon a new command, to which the overthrow of the pirates had been, perhaps, from the first, intended as an easy stepping-stone. A second war with Mithridates, beginning eight years previously,"2 had been prosecuted against the untiring monarch by Licinius Lucullus, whose skill and activity were so entirely neutralized by his inability to attach or to control his soldiers, that at the end of long and repeated campaigns it seemed as if the work of the day had been undone in the night-time.43 It was for Pompey, as he and most of his countrymen believed, to conclude the contest. Another Tribune, Caius Manilius, was found by the partisans of the absent hero to propose a bill transferring the military forces and operations in the East to the direction of Pompey, without his being de
prived of the nearly unlimited authority he actually possessed.44 The opposition on the part of the Senate was renewed; but Cicero, then in the prætorship, supported the bill with all the eloquence that submission to the great citizen or gratitude for his achievements could inspire ;45 and the person of Pompey, as the historian remarks, was formally made the pivot of the Roman world.46 We may leave him for the present in pursuit of victories.
And we no sooner turn from him to the condition of the Commonwealth he has left behind and beneath him, than we see, as plainly as though we were living there ourselves, that the great problem of establishing public order in the midst of decaying liberties has not yet been solved. One Tribune is engaged in passing a law, which is instantly repealed, to admit the freedmen promiscuously amongst the Tribes.47 Another retorts with a statute to remove all aliens from the city, and to punish such as have unwarrantably assumed the rights of citizenship.48 Then appear two Consuls elect, charged with bribery so offensive that they are not only condemn
44 Liv., Epit. C.
laws. Gesch. Roms, Vol. VI. pp. 45 See the glowing eulogy in Cic., 401 et seq. Pro Leg. Man., 14.
47 A. C. 67; repealed 66. The 46 “ Converterat Cn. Pompeii same Tribune, Manilius, mentioned persona totum in se terrarum or- above. Ascon., in Cic., Pro Mil., bem.” Vell. Pat., II. 31. Cf. Plut., 8. Dion Cass., XXXVI. 25. Pomp., 30. All the old writers 48 A. C. 65. The Papian law, (not contemporaries) remark upon as it was called from its author. the supremacy which Pompey now Cic., De Off., III. 11. Dion Cass., held. See Drumann's detailed ac- XXXVII. 9. count of the Gabinian and Manilian
ed, but displaced in office by their previously unsuccessful competitors. Yet deeper grows the gloom. The two culprits, joined by Lucius Sergius Catiline, a man whose name is like a household word for dissolute habits and ferocious passions, determine to murder the citizens elected in their stead; and some higher personages, like Crassus and Cæsar, are suspected of having a part in the conspiracy.49 When this has failed, without its investigation or its suppression having been proposed, the indignation of men like Porcius Cato returns against the assassins and the villains who have survived the days of Sulla in enjoyment of their sanguinary gains.50 It is an ominous contradiction that we witness between the anxiety concerning evils of an older date and the apparent indifference towards those with which the present and the future are alike infested and endangered.
49 End of A. C. 66 and begin- 18; De Fin. Bon. et Mal., II. 19. ning of 65. The condemned were As for the conspiracy and the manAutronius Pætus and P. Corn. Sulla, ner in which it was hushed up, the Dictator's nephew. They were see Liv., Epit. CI. ; Dion Cass., accused by L. Manlius Torquatus, XXXVI. 27; Suet., Cæs., 9; and displaced by his father and L. Sall., Cat., 18. Aurel. Cotta, the same whose præ- 50 Cato was then (A. C. 65) torship and law have been men- Quæstor. Plut., Cat. Min., 17. tioned. Cic., Pro Sull., 2, 3, 17, Dion Cass., XXXVII. 10.