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to be their friend; but the stronger hope from which he acted was to achieve the conjunction of the Senators and the Knights, so long at variance with one another and with all orders of their countrymen. The support which Cicero received bade fair at first, in spite of strenuous opposition on the other side, to give him a prospect of success. A Knight himself by birth and by attachment, he was also foremost amongst the Senators, to whom he inclined with equal sincerity; and his long fidelity to both estates was requited, during his canvass and at his entrance into office, by many testimonials of confidence and regard. A wider, but a briefer and less serviceable, popularity belonged to Cicero amongst the better portion of the lower classes, whose fondness for his eloquence and trust in his character were increased by their lingering wish to have the laws of their country upheld.
The measures of Cicero in his consulship must be judged according to this projected union, by which he would have welcomed and retained the peace seemingly, perhaps, approaching after many miserable years. He assisted Lucullus to obtain the triumph he had long been claiming for his Eastern victories.' He called the people from the theatre, where they had hissed the author of a law providing separate seats for the Knights, to rebuke them for affronting an honorable man and the great estate whom he represented.10 He even resisted the claims of the sons of those proscribed by Sulla and his followers to be
restored to their rights and patrimonies ; 11 for though their case was cruel, as he mournfully confessed, “yet such,” he added, “ was the dependence of the state upon the laws of Sulla, that it could not stand, if they were broken down." 12 A proposal by one of the Tribunes, that all existing debts should be annulled, was opposed by the Consul, notwithstanding its acceptability to the lower classes, because of its injustice to the higher.13 With equal zeal to hinder the abuses in · more powerful quarters, he himself brought up a law to abolish, which was necessarily modified so as simply to restrict, the right of the Senate to grant permissions of travel or residence in the provinces at the expense of their inhabitants.14 In such a course, Cicero could not avoid exciting expostulation, and in many instances aversion ; but if these different proceedings be fairly weighed, it will be seen how evenly he meant to hold the scales between the restless parties and pursuits with which he had to deal.
Wherever such a cause as that which Cicero maintained, in defending the laws and the liberties of his country, requires the avoidance of so many disturbances and the consideration of so many contending interests, it is plain that there must be an opposite cause upheld with greater or less assurance. At the head of those preparing to attack the institutions of Rome was Julius Cæsar, whose resolution has been
11 Plut., Cic., 12.
14 These grants were called Free 12 Quint., Inst. Orat., XI. 1. 85. Legations. Cic., De Legg., III. 13 Dion Cass., XXXVII, 25. 18.
previously remarked as that of one not likely to be persuaded or controlled against his will. From the time of the quæstorship, when he brought forward the images of Marius, or more particularly from a subsequent ædileship, in which he set up his uncle's trophies on the very Capitol itself,15 Cæsar had taken the lead of the party left without a chief at Marius's death, and reduced by Sulla's triumph to nearly total inanition. Its ranks, gradually filled by individuals discontented with Pompey's power or with the authority still in possession of the Senate, comprised an apparently inconsiderable number of Knights, but a much larger array of the lower orders, especially in the city. Partly by means of his extraordinary talents, but still more by means of the most profuse expenditures in games and bribes and personal displays, Cæsar was now the leader of this mongrel faction, whose only bonds of union consisted in their admiration of him and their hostility to the higher estates whom Cicero was endeavouring to reconcile. Its movements were far from being abrupt or threatening; for its members had no particular purposes in view; and Cæsar was not yet prepared to commit himself by open resistance to the upper orders, with whom, as well as with Cicero, he affected to be, or to desire to be, upon friendly terms. Another circumstance, perhaps, to keep him quiet was the ascendency that the new Consul had for the moment acquired over his own followers; but at any rate, the designs
15 See the reports about him in represented as having charged him Plut., Cæs., 6, where Catulus is with storming the Commonwealth.
of which Cæsar was undoubtedly the author required at first no more than underhand instigation on his part.
The first point was to stir the populace from their contentment under Cicero to some vast hopes, of which they were to be brought, as it were, to see the impracticability, unless they followed their leader into a revolution. At the close of the preceding year, but after the consular clection, a bill denominated Agrarian was proposed by the Tribune Servilius Rullus, providing for the appointment of ten commissioners with ample powers to sell the greater part of the public domains, to receive the public spoils and revenues, excepting such as were in Pompey's hands, and then, with the enormous sums they should thus procure, to purchase lands in Italy for the needy citizens, and to found some colonies upon that portion of the public territory which might remain unsold.16 To accomplish this gigantic project, the commissioners were to keep their offices for five years, with irresponsible and absolute power, as well beyond as within the boundaries of Italy; and one of the arguments which Cicero, who appeared in opposition on the first day of his consulate, directed against the bill, was a warning against the ten kings" proposed for exercising authority over the
16 The details of the scheme will lands in Italy since A. C. 82 (Sulbe found in Cicero's orations De la’s triumph), or out of Italy since Leg. Agr., I. 1, 2, 5, 7, II. 5, 7, 88 (the Social War). 22, 25, 26, III. 1, 3, 4. It was not 17 De Leg. Agr., II. 6. See intended to disturb any proprietors also I. 7, II. 10, 13, 15; and Plut, who had come into possession of Cic., 12.
entire Commonwealth. In contrast with the popular character which was drawn over the hidden purposes of the measure, the Consul entreated the people to observe that “nothing could be so popular as what he then offered them in peace, tranquillity, and ease.”'18 The promises and the reasonings of Cicero, backed by a large proportion of the citizens, prevailed against the bill; but it was not so easily forgotten by the populace that the largess they were then denied might one day be obtained.
The next step which Cæsar took was intended to show his adherents that the revolution of which they might hear whispers was to be achieved with impunity. Another Tribune, Titus Labienus, came forward to charge Caius Rabirius, an aged Senator, with having murdered Saturninus in the conflict between him and the Senate, thirty-seven long years before. The old man was tried by two judges, appointed, after an antiquated form, by the Prætor ; 19 and they, being none other than Julius and his kinsman Lucius Cæsar, pronounced Rabirius guilty. He appealed from their sentence to the Centuries, before whom Hortensius the Senator and Cicero both appeared in his defence. The leaders of the populace, greatly strengthened since the Agrarian bill, were now resolved, at Cæsar's bidding, as others besides themselves understood,20 to strike a blow at
18 De Leg. Agr., II. 37. duellionis. See Cic., Pro Rab.,
19 That of trial for perduellio, or 5. high-treason, conducted in olden 2 0 Suet., Cæs., 12. Dion Cass., times before the Duumviri Per- XXXVII. 26 et seq.