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“The laurels that a Caesar reaps are weeds.”—Cowper, Task, WI.
JULIUS CAESAR, left, as we have read, to assail the laws from which Catiline had been repelled, was endowed with all the powers, as well as all the vices, most adapted to his age. None were greater in intellect, none more fervid in ambition, than he, at the same time that he plunged as deeply as any into luxuries and debaucheries. He received the billetsdoux of his mistresses, the noblest matrons in Rome, while he sat amongst their brothers or their husbands in the Senate." On his departure, deep in debt, for Spain, he lacked an enormous sum, as he said, “to be worth nothing.” He was so careful of his appearance, that Cicero declared he could not believe a man of such nicety about his hair could ever think of overthrowing the Commonwealth.” But the same man was utterly neglectful of his integrity, yielding or resisting, destroying or befriending, according to
1 Plut., Cat., 24. 3 Plut., Caes., 4. Cf. Suet, * App., Bell. Civ., II. 8. Caes., 45.
his own caprices or determinations, of which the selfishness was most profound at the very moment that their generosity appeared most fair and calm. The same one who would have wasted a hundred patrimonies boasted of being sprung from kings on the mother's side, and on the father's from the immortal gods." And he who opened his love-letters before the Senate would weep, in reading the history of Alexander, to think he had as yet done nothing to be compared with the exploits of the mighty conqueror." Something of his wonderful audacity has appeared in the preceding pages; the following will relate his overthrow of liberty at Rome in his own exaltation as a sovereign on earth and a deity in the heathen heaven. The Triumvirs, whose association has been described as the design of Caesar at the time he intended to gain the mastery over Pompey, the single superior he had to fear, were three in number, but only one in will. The submission of Crassus, though speedier, was no surer than that of Pompey, while that of Pompey scarcely even preceded the subjugation of the Commonwealth. For of the nation, as of the three confederates, Caesar was the one to perceive the inevitable issue of the weakness, the discord, and the corruption by which he was surrounded; or else, without foreseeing the destiny of his country, he was the individual most resolved upon his own." 4 Suet., Caes., 6. Well. Pat., 6 The motives of the different II. 41. Triumvirs are variously described in Before, as it appears, the formation of the triumvirate, Caesar, then at the age of forty, was elected to the consulship” by the votes, not only of the populace, but likewise of the Knights, and even of some Senators, already broken from the bonds which Cicero, as we have seen, in vain contrived. The great object with the new Consul was to increase the number of his supporters amongst the higher citizens, and thus to prepare his independence of all connection with Pompey or any other individuals to whom the Knights or the stray Senators were now attached rather than to him. At the same moment, neither the confidence of Pompey nor the favor of the multitude was neglected in his policy, of which a short account will exhibit the extent and the consequences.
5 Plut., Caes., 11. See also the old authors: e. g. Flor., IV. 2; Suet., Caes., 7. Well. Pat., II. 44; Plut., Crass., 14. 7 Well. Pat., II. 44. Il Dion Cass., XXXVIII. 1. 8 For A. C. 59. Suet., Caes., 20. Cic., Ad Att., 9 Plut., Pomp., 48. II. 2, 7, etc.
The acts of Pompey in the East were ratified;” and he, pleased with his state in public, but more delighted with his newly married wife, Caesar's daughter, Julia, was content for the time to live rather as the son-in-law than as the associate or the superior of the aspiring Consul." An Agrarian law was passed in the midst of great tumults, and twenty commissioners were appointed to divide the Campanian domains of the Commonwealth among twenty thousand citizens." Of this number, a large part, it is said, consisted of Pompey's soldiers, who thus became as much the admirers of Caesar as any of the people. Above all, the Knights were gained over by rescinding the contract concerning the Asiatic revenues,” of which they had in vain attempted to get relieved before the present consulship. The greater the stir excited by these various measures, the bolder and the more commanding was the position of the Consul. Vain were the exertions of the Senate, under the lead of their champion, Calpurnius Bibulus, whose election as Caesar's colleague had been procured by open bribes. Besides the support of his multitudinous partisans, Caesar employed a score of men devoted, body and soul, to his desires, and furthermore maintained a troop of followers on whom he could rely for the execution of any violence he might command.” Bibulus finally shut himself up in his house, where the Senate, whom Caesar refused to convene, met from time to time, to issue edicts, in their Consul's name, against the proceedings of his colleague, already the master, temporarily at least, of Rome.” Pompey still looked on, not because he wished to transfer his part to his new father-in-law, but because he thought there was none to strut an hour with him on the stage where he was tired, per
10 Ibid., 47, 48; Caes., 14. Dion Cass., XXXVIII. 4, 5.
12 Cic., Pro Planc., 14. App.,
Bell. Civ., II. 13.
parte.” See Dion Cass., XXXVIII.
One of Caesar's measures was to cause the publication of the pro
ceedings in the Senate and the as
semblies of the people. Suet, Caes., 20. It now seems strange that this should never have been done before.