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of its very memories; and the present, which had yielded him its utmost, was equally insufficient to satisfy his morbid longings. These he for a time, as if convinced of their impossibility, seemed laboring to suppress. He was apparently contented with commissions from the Senate to drain the Pontine Marshes or to cut through the isthmus of the Peloponnesus; while his own enterprises of building and planning improvements, collecting libraries, and completing a digest he had begun of Roman jurisprudence, were sufficient, it must have appeared, to task alike his thoughts and his energies, however vigorous or wild. But he was also openly preparing an expedition against the Parthians, from whose conquest he proposed to return with fire and sword along the Caucasus to Scythia and Germany, completing thus, according to his amazed biographer, the circle of his territories by the ocean." The idea was conceived, perhaps the mention made, of yet vaster empire, the centre of which might be at Alexandria or at Ilium ;112 while unknown nations were to be conquered, until the increase of its inhabitants and the expansion of its boundaries should be checked by reaching the ends of the universe.
Meanwhile, the power on which, as it were, he stood at Rome to overlook the world was sinking beneath the weight of his burdensome ambition. A certain Pontius Aquila did not rise from the seat he occupied as Tribune when Cæsar passed in tri
umphal array. “Take back,” cried out the Emperor, indignant that the insolence of a Roman should contradict his imaginations of universal homage, “ take back, then, Aquila, the Commonwealth !” 113 Two other Tribunes, Flavus and Marullus, removed a diadem from his statue, and called a man to trial for having hailed him king. The affront, as Cæsar thought it, was more than he could bear; and, at his command, the magistrates were both deprived of their tribunate, ejected from the Senate, and exiled."14 “I am not king," was, nevertheless, his reply to some who greeted him with the royal title, “I am not king, but Cæsar!” 115 Yet there is no doubt, on the other hand, that the mere refusal of the kingly crown made him to a certain degree desirous of obtaining it; and the mighty ambition which marked out the universe for an empire was blasted by the feverish hankering for a diadem to wear in the city so soon to be deserted. None, however, could have foreseen, least of all Cæsar, who one day refused a guard for his protection 116 and on another bade men take his words for laws, 117 that the end was thus beginning. A young kinsman, the grandson of a sister, Caius Octavius,
eighteen years old,118 but already distinguished by the people for his beauty and by his uncle for his aspiring aims, was chosen as the heir of the Emperor, and sent, under the care of accomplished teachers, to learn the service of the camp at Apollonia. The title of Emperor, first in peace and war, with that of Chief Pontiff, first in religion, had been previously declared to be transmissible to the born or to the adopted son of Cæsar,"19 and the submission of Rome, of Italy, and the provinces appeared to be perpetual.
The same judgment is written over all usurpations, whether of an individual or of a multitude, in the uneasy or seditious spirit by which they are grimly saluted at their origin and at length precipitated to ruin. But it by no means follows that the uneasiness or the sedition excited by oppression is itself of any more generous or more enduring nature. It chanced in Rome, at one of the appointments of magistrates, then made habitually by the Emperor or under his approval, that the office of City Prætor, sought with great earnestness by Cassius Longinus, was given to his brother-in-law, Junius Brutus. The lives of both these men had been spared by Cæsar; but neither of them thought of what they owed to him so much as of what he yet owed to them. Brutus, the same who was mentioned some time since as Cato's nephew was now forty years of age; and though the avarice 120
118 Having been born in the con- 20 See Cicero's plain statements, sulship of Cicero, A. C. 63. Suet., Ad Att., V. 21, VI. 1-3. Aug., 5.
119 Dion Cass., XLIII. 44, XLIV.
and the debauchery of his times had not been wholly avoided, he was become a sober, industrious, and visionary man, who loved the show of virtue and the name of independence. Soon after his nomination over Cassius to the prætorship, the statue of the elder Brutus, whom he claimed for an ancestor, was hung with the inscription, — “Would thou wert yet amongst the living !” Other writings were thrown upon his own tribunal: — “ Sleep you?” “ You are not Brutus !” 121 The secret of his character had been discovered; and when Cassius followed up the appeals he had originated to the conceit of ancestry and of excellence in his successful competitor, Brutus forgot who had been his benefactor and was still his friend,122 in indignation that there was an Emperor above him and his fellow-Romans. Others like himself were already prepared by Cassius; and many more, upwards of sixty in all,123 united in the conspiracy, of which Brutus took the lead, to murder Cæsar.
The final events in Cæsar's life have often been described, as if the only method of proving a love of liberty under his empire had been to engage in his assassination. But there remains a letter from an unknown writer, 124 addressed “ To Caius Cæsar con
121 Dion Cass., XLIV. 12. App., compiled with all Drumann's accuBell. Civ., II. 112. Plut., Brut., 9; racy and tediousness, will be found Cæs., 62.
in his Gesch. Roms, Vol. III. pp. 122 Plut., Brut., 6-8; Cæs., 62. 693 et seq.
123 Suet., 80. Seneca's remarks 24 It is sometimes attributed to are true, though he wrote them Sallust, and is usually printed with from any other motive than a desire his works. I should be glad to think to tell the truth. De Ira, III. 30. that Cicero wrote it, and that any A full catalogue of the conspirators, differences of style between it and his acknowledged compositions arose from his wish to leave its authorship unknown.
cerning the constitution of the Commonwealth,” to prove the contrary. After reviewing, in manly language, the exploits and the powers of the Emperor, and insisting upon the magnitude of the work he had before him, the letter proceeds to more direct injunctions. Recommending the employment of the lower and the improvement of the higher classes, it contends, as if to secure both, that the authority of wealth must be restrained, and that the precious possession of freedom must be restored by means of activity and union.125 “Up to this time,” it concludes, “ although you have done great deeds at home and abroad, yet your glory is the same as that of many brave men ; but if you shall save this city, so great in name and so wide in dominion, from its impending fall, who on the earth shall be greater, who shall be more renowned ?" 126 It was a truer patriotism thus to solicit Cæsar than to murder him.
The Emperor was warned of the conspiracy against his life; but it was not for one who had trusted in himself against all the citizens and all the laws of the Commonwealth to fear a few “lean and hungry” subjects of his own. He relied, likewise, upon the gratitude of those whom he had saved from death, and of him especially whom he had also loved. “Will he not tarry,” was his question in reply to those who mentioned Brutus as having joined the disaffected, “will he not tarry until this poor body be
125 Capp. 7, 15, 18, 20, 21. 126 Cap. 21.