Зображення сторінки


Antony as follows:- “ We ask you to manifest your intentions towards us more clearly; for you cannot imagine we should be safe amidst your multitude of soldiers. . . . . . It is plain,” he adds, but it is difficult to believe him sincere or sane, “plain that we have had a view to the peace of our country from the beginning, without seeking any thing else besides a universal liberty.” 20 Three months later, when the behaviour of Antony had excited the most mournful apprehensions, not only in the conspirators, but with all men who were still either thoughtful or ambitious, Brutus addressed him again. “We wonder," he says, “ that you should have been so transported by passion as to reproach us with Cæsar's death. ..... If we wished to excite a civil war, your language would nowise hinder us; but you know that we are not to be driven to arms."21 The strongest friends of the conspirators implored them to desist from their vanity and indecision ; 22 but as Cicero wrote, six weeks after the assassination, we have been freed by illustrious men; but we are not free.” 23

The arrival of Octavius, who must henceforth be mentioned under the name he assumed of Cæsar, a month or two after his uncle's fall, was the introduction of another competitor for power over the prostrate Commonwealth. Antony owed the place he

20 Brut. et Cass., ap. Cic., Ad 23 Ad Att., XIV. 14. “Sublato Div., XI. 2.

enim tyranno," he says again (Ibid., 21 Ibid., 3.

4), “ tyrannida manere.” So Ibid., 22 Cic., Ad Att., XV. 4, 29; XIV. 11. and above all, the account of Cicero's interview with Brutus and Cassius, in the same letters, 11.

held, not so much to his own recklessness or to the artifice he certainly exercised, as to his intimate relations with the murdered Emperor, whose memory yet ruled the populace, the Senate, and, above all, the soldiery of Rome. It was easy for Cæsar, young, handsome, and ambitious, to urge his claims of blood and of adoption to the succession of his great kinsman; and though the idea of a new Emperor was not yet openly started, there can be no doubt of its having been cherished by Cæsar as the reality of a future day. If hypocrisy or coldness be talent, no man was ever more gifted than he, who began by fawning upon Cicero and Antony, the Senate and the army, with equal submissiveness, at the same time that he dreaded the soldiers, distrusted the Senators, hated Antony, and scarcely bore with the admonitions or the eulogies of the old man eloquent, the only being whom his adopted father had ever feared. The close of the year beheld both Antony and his younger rival in arms: Antony being declared a public enemy, and endeavouring to obtain possession of Modena and Cisalpine Gaul; while Cæsar, appointed a Proprætor and a Senator, 21 was engaged with the Consuls and the forces of the Senate in the repulse of Antony, who fled early in the following year beyond the Alps to Gaul.

The foreground in the miserable and bloody spectacle, beginning with the murder of the Emperor Cæsar, was thus immediately occupied by his favorite general and his chosen kinsman. It matters little, now, who were in the background, whether it were Lepidus, who had been early elected Chief Pontiff 25 and then sent on his march to Spain, or Sextus Pompey, the younger son of the great Pompey, who had escaped the fate of his father's adherents, and was, at Cæsar's death, in possession of the greater portion of Southern Spain. These, with Cicero, various of the Senators, and many of the military men on either side, must from time to time be named; but unless our interest be concentrated in the strife between Antony and Cæsar, at least from the overthrow of the conspirators, we are in danger of imagining that the cause at stake was somewhat more profound or more extensive than the elevation of the person who should become the Emperor of Rome, not to be murdered as the first had been, but to rule a universally humbled empire.

24 Liv., Epit. CXVIII. App., gone over to him from Antony. Bell. Civ., III. 51. He was at the Dion Cass., XLV. 12, 13. head of several legions which had

The next move, after those just rapidly described, in this great contest, was made by Cæsar, in determining to unite himself with Antony until he could act against him with greater security. Obtaining at once a pretext for turning against the Senate, in whose army he had fought his first campaigns, he marched upon the city with soldiers attached to him and caring nothing for the Commonwealth. With their aid he demanded and received the consulship, then vacant, for the remainder of the year,26 and pro

25 Dion Cass., XLIV. 53. 26 Ibid., XLVI. 45, 46. App., Bell. Civ., III. 94.

cured the election of a near relation 27 named Quintus Pedius, for his colleague. A law of banishment was straightway carried against the murderers of the Emperor, and all by whom they had been joined ; 28 and Cæsar, appropriating the money in the treasury, completed, as it were, the reparation due to his uncle's memory by paying the legacies bequeathed to the people by their sovereign. Leaving the city in charge of his colleague, Cæsar then set out to meet Antony and Lepidus, who were descending together into Italy. They had both been declared public enemies; but at the proposal of the Consul Pedius, the sentence against them was rescinded; nor was it long before the league, already planned between the two and Cæsar, was cemented near Bologna.29 The most valuable provinces 30 were divided amongst themselves, after the example of the first Triumvirs; but the three now united assumed the whole power of the Commonwealth as Triumvirs “ with consular power” for five years.31 The title was no sooner conferred upon them by a law brought forward in the name of a Tribune, than its strength was tried in effecting proscriptions and massacres, to which each

27 The son or the grandson of to have Cisalpine and Transalpine Julia, the Emperor's sister and the Gaul; while Cæsar took Africa, grandmother of Octavius Cæsar. Sardinia, and Sicily. Dion Cass.,

28 App., Bell. Civ., III. 95. XLVI. 55. App., Bell. Civ., IV. Dion Cass., XLVI. 48.

2. 29 It was now the autumn of A. 31 App., Bell, Civ., IV. 2, 7. C. 43. Ibid., 55. App., Bell. Civ., “ Tresviri reipublicæ constituendæ IV. 2.

per quinquennium.” Liv., Epit. 30 Lepidus was to retain Spain CXX. Suet., Aug., 27. and Narbonese Gaul; Antony was

Triumvir abandoned friends and brothers 32 to satisfy his associates, as if he, too, were satisfied.

One victim to these remorseless men was Cicero, the last twelvemonth of whose life had been ennobled by the devoted courage of his prime. Exulting, as we have seen, with much mistaken joy in the fall of Cæsar, to whom his weaker nature had long since been exposed, he united himself with the conspirators, in confidence, soon lessened, however, to lingering hope, that they were to save his country from further servitude. On the discovery of their utter imbecility, his spirits failed; he would have turned to Antony,33 depended on Cæsar,34 or even fled from Italy. In the full determination to make his way to Greece, he heard of so encouraging a change in the aspect of affairs, that the desires or complaints 35 of his friends were no longer needed to bring him back full of determination to do his duty, so far as he could see it, whatever courses other men pursued. Nor when, after arriving in the city, he found the cause of the Commonwealth, to which he still inclined as to an ideal state or one that might yet be made ideal, was feebler than ever in Antony's presence, did he then hesitate to turn upon the new


32 Plut., Ant., 19. App., Bell. 34 “ Magna spes," he said, “ est Civ., IV. 5 et seq. Dion Cass., in eo.” It was true ; but the hopes XLVII. 3 et seq. Vell. Pat., II. of Cæsar and the hopes of Cicero

were like opposite poles. Ad Div., 33 App., Bell. Civ., III. 4. See XII. 23. See Ad Att., XV. 12; the letters, ap. Cic., Ad Att., XIV. Philipp., V. 16 - 18; and Plut., 13. “ Itaque stulta jam Iduum Cic., 44 – 46. Martiarum est consolatio.” Ibid., 35 Cic., Ad Att., XVI. 7; PhiXV. 4.

lipp., I. 3, 4.

« НазадПродовжити »