The Two Triumvirates
THE senators held office for life, and therefore the
Senate was always in possession of power; while owing to the fact
that the elections were annual, the power of the people was but
spasmodic at the best. Whenever some extraordinary occasion, or
some leader who could carry the multitude with him, arose, the people
would awake and carry everything before them. But when the particular
occasion was past, or the leader fallen, the people would drop back
into the old easy way, though there was scarcely ever an election
without a riot, and the Senate would gradually regain all its former
power; each time only using it the more despotically, in revenge
for the checks which had been put upon it, and the insults which
it had received. With politics, as it had universally become, it
was inevitable and in fact essential, that there should arise a
power constantly active, which should balance that of the Senate,
and hold in check its despotic tendencies. This power, as had already
appeared, lay in the army. But the army must be led. Consequently
the logic of the situation was that a coalition should be formed
representing the different classes of the people, but depending
upon the army for support. Such a coalition was demanded by the
times and events, and was actually created in B. C. 60.
Pompey's work was done in the East, and in December 62 B. C., he returned to Rome to display and enjoy such a triumph as had never before been seen on earth. A long train of captive princes of the conquered countries as trophies of his victories, and wagons laden with all manner of treasure as an offering to the State, followed the triumphant general as he returned to the capital. A triumphal column was erected in his honor, with an inscription which declared "that Pompey, 'the people's general,' had in three years captured fifteen hundred cities, and had slain, taken, or reduced to submission twelve million human beings." The offerings which he brought filled the treasury to overflowing, and the income from the countries subdued made the annual revenue of the republic double what it had been before. All this was lost upon the Senate, however, except to deepen its jealousy of Pompey. By a special vote, indeed, he "was permitted to wear his triumphal robe in the Senate as often and as long as it might please him;" but with this the Senate proposed that favors to Pompey should cease.
At the border of Italy Pompey had disbanded his troops, and he entered Rome as a private citizen, with only his political influence to sustain him. And just here Pompey failed. Although he was every inch a general, he was no politician. He could victoriously wield an army, but he could do nothing with a crowd. He could command legions, but could not command votes. More than this, during his absence, the senatorial party had employed the time in strenuous efforts and by all means in their power, to destroy his influence in the city, and to create jealousy and distrust between Caesar and Pompey. When Pompey had departed for Asia, it was with the friendship of Caesar, whose influence had helped to secure his appointment. During Pompey's absence, Caesar's influence and popularity had constantly increased in Rome. He held the people's favor, and Pompey held the military power. The senatorial party decided, if possible, to divide this power by estranging Pompey and Caesar from one another. The tale was carried to Pompey that his wife, Mucia, had been seduced by Caesar.
This accomplished its intended purpose, and Pompey divorced her. Pompey's prompt action in disbanding his troops at the border of Italy had relieved the Senate from dread of his military power; yet Pompey's troops, although disbanded, and of no force as a military power, were an important element in the elections, so long as Pompey could retain their sympathies.
Pompey asked that his acts in Asia might be ratified, but the Senate and its partisans, though not openly refusing to do so, raised so many questions and created so many delays as to amount in effect to a refusal. He also asked that public lands might be distributed to his soldiers, and this also was so successfully opposed as to defeat him. He then attempted to gain his wishes by political influence and action. By the free use of money he secured the election of both the consuls for the year 60 B. C.; but he was disappointed in both. One had not sense enough to be a consul, and the other, Metellus Celer, was the brother of Mucia, whom Pompey had divorced, and under pretense had only lent himself to Pompey in order to take revenge for the reproach thus cast upon his sister. Celer immediately went over to the senatorial party, and engaged in the most violent opposition to Pompey. The tribune Flavius, who had proposed Pompey's measures, went so far as to seize Celer, and put him in prison. Celer called the senators to his cell to deliberate there. The tribune set up his tribunal at the prison door, so that the senators might not enter; but the senators had the prison walls torn down, and went in in spite of the tribune.
The Senate, not content with estranging Pompey and Caesar from one another, and openly insulting Pompey besides, proceeded to offend Caesar. At the close of Caesar's praetorship, -- at the end of 62 B. C., -- the province of Further Spain had been assigned him. But he was in debt two hundred and fifty millions of sesterces -- about twelve millions of dollars. To pay his debts and make the necessary preparations for his journey to Spain, he borrowed from Crassus eight hundred and thirty talents -- nearly thirteen millions of dollars. The senatorial party, however, endeavored to prevent his departure from Rome, and a decree was passed to the effect that the praetors should not go to their provinces until certain important questions of State and religion had been finally settled. Caesar knew that this was aimed at him, and therefore in defiance of the decree he went at once to his province, and put himself at the head of the legions there. This was the first real opportunity that Caesar had ever had to prove his ability as a military leader, and he acquitted himself well. "He thus effected the complete subjugation of the districts of Lusitania north of the Tagus, including the wild fastnesses of the Herminian Mountains and the rapid waters of the Durius. Brigantium in Galicia, protected on the land side by the difficult character of the surrounding country, he attacked with a naval armament, and erected his victorious standard at the furthest extremity of his province." -- Merivale.1
The complete conquest of his province, and the settlement of its civil administration upon a permanent basis, were all accomplished in a little more than a year. His great success entitled him to a triumph, and he desired also to stand for the consulship during the ensuing year. He addressed the Senate soliciting the award of the triumph which he had justly earned. The Senate knew that he wanted also to be a candidate for the consulship. The law was that no general to whom was granted a triumph should come into Rome until the time of triumphal entry, which time was to be fixed by the Senate; and the custom, which had the force of law, was that every candidate for the consulship must appear publicly in the Forum on three distinct occasions, and must be present personally in the Forum on the day of the election. The Senate designed to prevent Caesar's candidacy for the consulship by granting the triumph and setting the time on a day beyond the day of the election, thus keeping him out of the city, so that it would be impossible for him to be present in the Forum as a candidate. This custom could be, and in fact had been, dispensed with on important occasions; but the Senate was very tenacious of both law and custom when they could be turned to its own advantage. Caesar applied to the Senate for a dispensation allowing him to be a candidate in his absence. The Senate would not grant it, and when Caesar's friends began to urge the matter, Cato defeated them by obtaining the floor and talking all the rest of the day. When Caesar learned of the determination of the Senate to shut him out of the consulship by granting a triumph on a day after the election, he checkmated their nicely-planned move. He renounced the triumph, went at once to Rome, went through the necessary forms, and appeared as a candidate for the consulship.
The Senate had now offended Pompey and embittered his soldiers, and had committed itself to open and determined hostility to Caesar. Pompey took in the situation, saw his opportunity, and acted upon it at once. He made overtures to Caesar, who received him willingly, and an alliance was formed. Caesar and Crassus were already firm friends, and had been working together for some time. But Crassus and Pompey were bitter enemies. Caesar's tact, however, soon tempered the feud, and reconciled the enmity. Caesar was the idol of the people; Pompey was the idol of the soldiers; and Crassus, the richest individual in the Roman world, represented the moneyed class, the farmers of the taxes, etc., who were not of the nobility. These three men covenanted together "that no proceedings should be allowed to take place in the commonwealth without the consent of each of the three contracting parties. United they constituted a power beyond all the resources of the commonwealth to cope with" -- Merivale.2 Thus
THE FIRST TRIUMVIRATE
became an accomplished fact, and though there were
a few expiring struggles, the power of the Roman Senate was virtually
Caesar was elected consul by acclamation; and only by the very desperation of bribery and corruption did the senatorial party succeed in electing Bibulus as his colleague. It was the custom, immediately upon the election of the consuls, to name the province which should be theirs at the expiration of the year of their office. The Senate sought to cast a slur upon Caesar by assigning to him the department of roads and forests. But he cared not for that, as he held the power of the State, and had a full year in which to use it before anything in that line was to be performed.
Caesar's consulship was for the year 59 B. C. The first act of his administration was to secure the publication of the proceedings of the Senate, that the people might know what was done therein. He next brought forward the land law for the reward of Pompey's veterans, which the Senate had already refused to allow. This measure, however, like that of Tiberius Gracchus, included thousands of the free citizens who had sold their lands and crowded into Rome. In the long interval since the repeal of the land law of Sulla, things had fallen back into the same old way. The public lands had fallen from those to whom the State had distributed them, to the great landed proprietors. Caesar's land law, like all those before it, proposed to buy the rights of these proprietors, as represented in their improvements, and distribute the lands among Pompey's veterans and several thousands of the unemployed population of the city. He showed to the Senate that there was plenty of money in the treasury, which Pompey's soldiers themselves had brought to the State, to supply all the land required under the act. The Senate would not listen. Cato took the lead in the opposition, and talked again for a whole day; he grew so violent at last that Caesar ordered the lictors to take him off to prison. Many of the senators followed Cato. As nothing could be done, however, Caesar ordered Cato to be set free, at the same time telling them that as they had refused to take part in legislation, henceforth he would present his propositions at once to the people. Bibulus, however, was owned by the Senate, and he as consul might obstruct and delay the proceeding in the assembly. Besides this, the Senate had bribed three tribunes to assist Bibulus.
Caesar did not hesitate. A day was appointed, and he presented his bill in the Forum, which before daylight the populace had filled to overflowing, to prevent the senatorial party from getting in. As Bibulus was consul, a passage was made for him through the crowd, and he took his place with Caesar on the porch of the temple of Castor and Pollux. Caesar stepped forward, and read from a tablet the proposed law, and turning to Bibulus asked if he had any fault to find with it. Bibulus answered that there should be no revolutions while he was consul, at which the assembly hissed. This made Bibulus yet more angry, and he burst out to the whole assembly, "During my year you shall not obtain your desire, not though you cried for it with one voice." Pompey and Crassus, though not officials, were both present. Caesar now signaled to them; they stepped forward, and he asked whether they would support the law. Pompey made a speech in which he declared that he spoke for his veterans and for the poor citizens, and that he approved the law in every letter of it. Caesar then asked, "Will you then support the law if it be illegally opposed?" Pompey replied: "Since you, consul, and you, my fellow-citizens, ask aid of me, a poor individual without office and without authority, who nevertheless has done some service to the State, I say that I will bear the shield if others draw the sword."
At this, a mighty shout arose from the assembly. Crassus followed with a speech to the same purpose. He likewise was cheered to the echo. Bibulus rushed forward to forbid the vote to be taken. The bribed tribunes interposed their veto. Bibulus declared that he had consulted the auspices, -- had read the sky, -- and that they were unfavorable to any further proceeding that day, and declared the assembly dissolved. But the assembly had not come together to be dissolved by him, nor in any such way as that. They paid no attention. He then declared all the rest of the year to be holy time. This was met by a yell that completely drowned his voice. The assembly rushed upon the platform, pushed Bibulus off, broke his insignia of office, bandied him about with the bribed tribunes, and trampled upon them; but they were able to escape without serious injury. Then Cato took up the strain, pushed his way to the rostra, and began to rail at Caesar. He was met with a roar from the assembly that completely drowned his voice, and in a moment he was arrested and dragged away, raving and gesticulating. The law was then passed without a dissenting voice.
The next day Bibulus asked the Senate to pass a decree annulling the act of the assembly, but this failed. Cato, Celer, and Favonius openly refused to obey the law, upon which a second law was passed, making it a capital offense to refuse to swear obedience to the law. Bibulus then shut himself up in his own house, and refused to act as consul any more. This left the triumvirate absolute, with the actual power in Caesar's hands for the rest of the year. Pompey's soldiers had been provided for by the land law which had just been passed, and his acts in Asia were confirmed. In addition to this an act was passed in behalf of Crassus. The farmers of the taxes throughout the provinces had taken the contract at too high a price, and now they were not making as much as they expected. Crassus was the chief of all these, and an act was passed granting new terms. By these acts Caesar had more firmly bound to himself both Pompey and Crassus. He then proceeded more fully to gratify the people by a magnificent display of plays and games.
In legislation, the Senate was totally ignored; Caesar acted directly with the assembly of the people, and passed such laws as he pleased. Yet it must be said that he passed none that were not good enough in themselves, but they were laws which in fact meant nothing. There was no public character to sustain them, and consequently they were made only to be broken. There was a law for the punishment of adultery, when not only Caesar, but nine tenths of the people were ready to commit adultery, at the first opportunity. There were laws for the protection of citizens against violence, when every citizen was ready to commit violence at a moment's notice. There were laws to punish judges who allowed themselves to be bribed, when almost every man in Rome was ready both to offer and to receive brides. There were laws against defrauding the revenue, when almost every person only desired an opportunity to do that very thing. There were laws against bribery at elections, when every soul in Rome from Caesar to the lowest one of the rabble that shouted in the Forum, was ready to bribe or to be bribed. "Morality and family life were treated as antiquated things among all ranks of society. To be poor was not merely the sorest disgrace and the worst crime, but the only disgrace and the only crime: for money the statemen sold the State, and the burgess sold his freedom; the post of the officer and the vote of the juryman were to be had for money; for money the lady of quality surrendered her person, as well as the common courtesan; falsifying of documents, and perjuries had become so common that in a popular poet of this age an oath is called `the plaster for debts.' Men had forgotten what honesty was; a person who refused a bribe was regarded not as an upright man, but as a personal foe. The criminal statistics of all times and countries will hardly furnish a parallel to the dreadful picture of crimes -- so varied, so horrible, and so unnatural." -- Mommsen.3 In this condition of affairs such laws were nothing more nor less than a legal farce.
Caesar's consulship was about to expire, and as above stated, when he was elected the Senate had named as his "province" the department of roads and forests instead of a province. As this was intended at the first to be only a slur upon Caesar, and as both he and the people fully understood it, the people set aside this appointment, and voted to Caesar for five years the command of Illyria, and Gaul within the Alps; but as there were some fears from the barbarians of Gaul beyond the Alps, a proposition was introduced to extend his province to include that. Pompey and Crassus heartily assented, and the Senate seeing that it would be voted to him any way by the assembly, made a virtue of necessity, and bestowed this itself. Pompey now married Caesar's daughter Julia, which more firmly cemented the alliance while Caesar should be absent.
The triumvirate had been formed to continue for five years. As the term drew to a close, the triumvirate was renewed for five years more. Pompey and Crassus were made consuls for the year 55 B. C., with the understanding that while in office they should extend Caesar's command in Gaul for five years longer after the expiration of the first five; and that at the expiration of their consulate, Pompey should have Spain as his province, and Crassus should have Syria.
The first thing to by done the new consuls was to secure the assembly's indorsement of the triumvirs' arrangement of the provinces. This also the senators opposed by every means to the very last. Cato raved as usual, and when at the expiration of his allotted time he refused to sit down, he was dragged away by an officer, and the meeting adjourned. The next day the assembly came together again. When the senatorial party saw that the action of the triumvirs was to be ratified in spite of them, Cato and Atticus, a tribune, were lifted to men's shoulders, and the tribune cried out, as Bibulus on the like occasion formerly, that the skies were unfavorable, and the proceedings illegal. Other tribunes ordered the proceedings to go on, at which a riot began. Clubs and stones and swords and knives were freely used. The senatorial party were driven out, the arrangement of the provinces fully ratified, and the assembly dismissed. The people had no sooner gone out than the senatorial party came back, presented a motion for Caesar's recall, and proceeded to vote upon it. The assembly returned, and drove them out with more bloodshed, and certainly to prevent all question as to what had been done, passed a second time the motion upon Caesar's appointment.
Pompey, yet more to please the populace, dedicated a new theater, which would seat forty thousand people. It was decorated with marble and adorned with precious stones in such abundance as had never before been seen in Rome. The dedication with music, games, chariot races, and contests between men and beasts, continued five days, during which five hundred lions -- one hundred each day -- were turned loose in the arena only to be killed. Besides this, eighteen elephants were compelled to fight with bands of gladiators, the piteous cries of the poor creatures finding a response even in the savage sympathies of Romans.
By the strifes of parties, the election of consuls for the year 54 was prevented until the expiration of 55, and the consulates of Pompey and Crassus had expired. Crassus departed for the East. Pompey assumed command of the province of Spain, but instead of going to Spain, remained in Rome.
In 54, Pompey's wife, Caesar's daughter, died; in June 53 Crassus was killed in that memorable battle with the Parthians; and the triumvirate was dissolved. Pompey had now been so long separated from the army that his influence with the soldiery was almost gone, while Caesar's uninterrupted course of victory in Gaul had made him the idol of the army, as well as the pride of the people. The triumvirate was no sooner broken by the death of Crassus, than the Senate began earnestly to try to win Pompey, and compass Caesar's destruction. "No aristocracy was ever more short-sighted at the crisis of its fate than the once glorious patriciate of Rome. It clung desperately to its privileges, not from a fond regard to their antiquity, or their connection with any social or religious prejudices; disdained to invoke the watchwords of patriotism or utility; it took up its ground upon the enactments which Sulla had made to enhance its own wealth and power, and depress those of its rivals, and contended with its assailants upon purely selfish considerations. Without a policy and without a leader, the nobles went staggering onward in their blind conflict with the forces arrayed against them." -- Merivale.4
Pompey took his stand with the Senate. Although he was in Rome, he was really commander of the province of Spain, and was thus in possession of an army, though that army was at a distance. Under pretense of a need of troops in Syria against the Parthians who had defeated and slain Crassus, the Senate drew from Caesar two legions, and stationed them at Capua. A motion was then made in the Senate for Caesar's recall, and the appointment of his successor. But just then an obstacle presented itself which disconcerted all their plans. Scribonius Curio had been one of the most violent partisans of the senatorial party, and largely on account of this he had been elected tribune by the favor of the Senate. But Curio went over to the interests of Caesar. When the motion was made to appoint a successor to Caesar, Curio moved an amendment to the effect that Pompey be included, and that when Caesar was relieved of this command, Pompey should be relieved of his command also. This amendment met with such approval that it was accepted by an overwhelming majority, and the people were so jubilant that they strewed flowers in Curio's way as he returned from the assembly. The adoption of this amendment completely blocked the effort of the Senate to depose Caesar.
Curio so persistently interposed his veto to all proceedings against Caesar, that at last an attempt was made to get rid of him. One of the censors pronounced him unworthy of a place in the Senate; the consul Marcellus put the question to vote, and it was defeated. Then the consul and his partisans dressed themselves in mourning, and went straight to Pompey; declared the city in danger; placed its safety in his hands; and gave him the two legions that were at Capua. Pompey refused to accept the charge unless it was sanctioned by the consuls who had been elected for the next year. These both confirmed the appointment, and promised their support when they should come into office. Caesar's enemies had now both an army and a commander. This being by the official act of the consular authority, WAS A CONFESSION THAT LEGAL GOVERNMENT WAS AT AN END, AND WAS VIRTUALLY THE ESTABLISHMENT OF GOVERNMENT ONLY BY MILITARY FORCE.
Curio's tribunate ended with the year 50, and he closed his term of office with an appeal to the people, in which he declared that justice was violated, that the reign of law was passed, and that a military domination reigned in the city. He then left the city, and went to Caesar, who was encamped at Ravenna with a legion.
The consuls for the year 49 were both avowed enemies to Caesar. Two of the tribunes for the year were Mark Antony and Cassius Longinus, -- friendly to Caesar and ready to veto every proposition that appeared to be to his disadvantage. Caesar sent Curio back to Rome early in January with a letter in which he offered any one of three things: (1) That the agreement long before made should stand, and he be elected consul in his absence; or (2) that he would leave his army if Pompey would disband his troops; or (3) that he would surrender to a successor all Gaul beyond the Alps with eight of his ten legions, if he were allowed to retain his original province of Illyria and Northern Italy with two legions. The consuls objected to the reading of the letter, but the demands of the tribunes prevailed. When it had been read through, the consuls prohibited any debate upon it, and made a motion to consider the state of the republic. None of Caesar's propositions would be considered for a moment. Lentulus, one of the consuls, took the lead in urging prompt and determined action, and others followed to the same purpose. Some advised delay till they were better prepared; others advised that a deputation be sent to treat further with Caesar.
The majority supported Lentulus. It was moved that Caesar should dismiss his troops by a certain day which the Senate should name, and return to Rome as a private citizen, or be declared a public enemy. The two tribunes interposed their vetos on the ground that it had been decreed by the people that Caesar should be allowed to stand for the consulship in his absence; but their plea was totally disregarded, and the motion was passed almost unanimously. The tribunes then protested against the illegality of the proceedings, and cried aloud that they were refused the free exercise of their official prerogatives. The assembly in reply voted the State in danger; suspended the laws; ordered an immediate levy of troops; and gave the consuls sole power to provide for the public safety. The Senate next proposed to punish the two tribunes. They were given to understand that if they entered the Senate house, they would be expelled by force. They, with Curio, fled to Caesar. The consuls made Pompey commander-in-chief of the forces, and gave him the freedom of the public treasury. Pompey went to Capua to take charge of the two legions there, and organize the new levies.
When the news of these proceedings reached Caesar at Ravenna, he assembled his legions, and laid the whole matter before them. The Senate had satisfied itself with the pleasing illusion that Caesar's legions were so dissatisfied with him and discouraged by the long tedious campaigns in barbarous Gaul, that they only waited for a good opportunity to desert him in a body. But never had they been more mistaken than they were in this. The soldiers were ready to support him to the utmost. They not only offered to serve without pay, but actually offered him money for the expenses of the war. Only one officer out of the whole army failed him. This one slipped away secretly, and fled to Pompey, and Caesar sent all his baggage after him.
Caesar sent orders to Gaul beyond the Alps for two legions to follow him, and he set out toward Rome with the one legion -- 5,000 men -- that was with him. About twenty miles from Ravenna, a little stream called the Rubicon formed part of the boundary between the territory of Rome proper and the provinces which had been assigned to Caesar. To cross this boundary with an armed force was to declare war; but as the Senate had already by its actions more than once openly declared war, Caesar had no hesitation in crossing the boundary. He passed it, and marched ten miles onward to Rimini. There he halted and waited for the two legions ordered from Gaul, one of which reached him about the end of January, and the other about the middle of February.
By the time that Caesar had reached Rimini, the rumor had reached Rome that he was coming, and a panic seized his enemies throughout the whole city. Their excited imaginations and guilty fears pictured him as coming with all his legions, accompanied by hosts of the terrible barbarians of Gaul, hurrying on by forced marches, nearer and yet nearer, and breathing forth fiery wrath. "Flight, instant flight, was the only safety. Up they rose, consuls, praetors, senators, leaving wives and children and property to their fate, not halting even to take the money out of the treasury, but contenting themselves with leaving it locked. On foot, on horseback, in litters, in carriages, they fled for their lives to find safety under Pompey's wing in Capua." -- Froude.5
Instead of Caesar's marching toward Rome, however, he was waiting quietly at Rimini for his legions to come from Gaul, and his waiting there was working doubly to his advantage, to say nothing of the results of the panic-stricken fears of his enemies in Rome. Not only did the two legions come promptly from Gaul, but troops flocked to him from all the country around; and cities on the way to Rome began to declare for him, and were ready to open their gates as soon as he should arrive. Ahenobarbus, with a few thousand men, occupied a strong place in the mountains directly in Caesar's way. Caesar surrounded the place, and captured the whole body of them. He then let them all go. Ahenobarbus and some of his officers went away, but his troops declared for Caesar. As soon as Pompey and the nobles heard of the capture of Ahenobarbus and the the desertion of these troops, they took up their flight again for Brundusium on the east coast of Italy, where they might take ships for Epirus. The greater part of them sailed away at once. Pompey remained with a portion of his army for the ships to return to take them away. Caesar hurried to Brundusium, where he arrived on the ninth of March. Pompey was there. Caesar asked for a meeting, but Pompey refused. Caesar began a siege, but the ships soon came, and Pompey and his army sailed away for Durazzo on the coast of Epirus. Caesar had no ships, and could follow the fugitives no farther. He therefore went directly to Rome. She threw wide her gates to receive him.
The remains of the Senate was convened by the tribunes who had fled to Caesar, but it would do nothing. The assembly of the people voted him the money in the treasury. He took what he needed, and as Spain and the Mediterranean Coast of Gaul were yet subject to Pompey, he went in a few days to bring these into subjection. This was all accomplished before winter. He was made dictator in his absence. He returned to Rome in October. He appointed a day for the election of consuls for the year 48, and himself and Servilius Isauricus were chosen without opposition. Thus he was elected consul for the very year that had been promised him long before by the Senate and assembly, although the Senate had declared that he never should have it at all. The election of the other lawful magistrates soon followed, the form of legal government was restored, and he set out at once to find Pompey and the Senate. He marched to Brundusium, and sailed to Epirus. There he found that Pompey had gone to Macedonia. After much maneuvering, the armies met at Pharsalia in Thessaly, and Pompey's army was completely routed. Pompey fled to Egypt. Caesar followed closely; but Pompey had been murdered and beheaded before he had fairly landed, and only his head was preserved and rendered an unwelcome present to Caesar.
Caesar spent the time till the autumn of 47 setting things in order in Egypt and the East, then he returned to Rome. Finding that Pompey was dead, and that all hope of support from him was gone, Caesar's enemies in Rome became his most servile flatterers. Those who had plunged the State into civil war rather than allow him while absent to be even a candidate for the consulship, now in his absence made him dictator for a whole year, and were ready to heap upon him other preferences without limit.
A part of the year 46 was spent in subduing the opposing forces in Africa. This was soon accomplished, and the servile flatterers went on with their fawning adulations. Even before his return, the Senate voted in his favor a national thanksgiving to continue forty days. When he returned, they voted him not one triumph, but four, with intervals of several days between, and that his triumphal car should be drawn by white horses. They made him inspector of public morals for three years. And as though they would be as extravagant in their adulation as they had been in their condemnation, they voted him dictator for ten years, with the right to nominate the consuls and praetors each year; that in the Senate his chair should always be between those of the two consuls; that he should preside in all the games of the circus; that his image carved in ivory should be borne in processions among the images of the gods, and be kept laid up in the capitol over against the place of Jupiter; that his name should be engraved on a tablet as the restorer of the capital; and finally that a bronze statue of him standing on a globe should be set up with the inscription, "Caesar, the Demi-god."
Caesar was not wanting in efforts to maintain the applause of the populace. He gave to each soldier about a thousand dollars, and to each citizen about twenty dollars, with house-rent free for a year; and provided a magnificent feast for the citizens, who were supported by the public grants of grain. Twenty-two thousand tables were spread with the richest viands, upon which the two hundred thousand State paupers feasted, while from hogsheads the finest wine flowed freely. Above all this he furnished the finest display of games and bloody battles of gladiators that had ever been seen. So great was it, indeed, and so bloody, and so long continued, that it fairly surfeited the savage Roman appetite; and the people began to complain that the vast sums of money spent on the shows would have been better employed in donations direct to themselves. Time and space would fail to tell of the numbers, the magnitude, and the magnificence of the buildings with which he adorned the city.
In the winter of 46-5 Caesar was compelled to go to Spain to reduce the last remains of the senatorial forces. This was accomplished before the month of April was passed, yet he did not return to Rome until September. As soon as the news of his victory reached Rome, however, the Senate, which sincerely hoped he would be killed, began once more to pour forth its fulsome flattery. It voted a national thanksgiving to continue fifty days, decreed him another triumph, conferred upon him the power to extend the bounds of the city, and erected another statue of him with the inscription, "To The Invincible Deity."
When he returned and had enjoyed his triumph, he again celebrated the occasion with games, combats, and shows no less splendid than those which he had given before, only not so long continued. After this was all over, he took up the regulation of the affairs of society and state. He gave his soldiers lands, but instead of trying to provide lands in Italy for all of them, he distributed the most of them in colonies in the provinces. He cut down the quantity of public grants of grain, and sent thousands upon thousands of citizens away beyond the seas to establish Roman provinces. Eighty thousand were sent to rebuild Carthage. Another host was sent to rebuild Corinth, which had been destroyed by the Romans a hundred years before. To lessen the evils that had rent the State so long in the annual elections, he enacted that the elections to the lesser offices of the State should be held only once in three years. He enacted that at least one third of the hired help of farmers, vineyardists, stock raisers, etc., should be Roman citizens. He enacted that all physicians, philosophers, and men of science should be Roman citizens. This privilege was likewise bestowed upon large numbers of people in Gaul, Spain, and other places. In the early days of Rome, unions of the different trades and handicrafts had been formed for mutual benefit. In the times which we have sketched, they had become nothing but political clubs, and withal had become so dangerous that they had to be utterly abolished. In B. C. 58, Clodius, to strengthen his political influence, had restored them. Caesar now abolished them again, but allowed bona fide trades-unions to be organized upon the original plan of mutual benefit.6
As inspector of public morals he next attempted, as he had when he was consul in 59, to create reform by law. It was a time of unbounded luxury and of corresponding license and licentiousness. He forbade the rich young nobles to be carried in litters. Sea and land were being traversed for dainties for the tables of the rich; Caesar appointed inspectors of the tables and the provision stores to regulate the fare, and any prohibited dish found on any table was picked up and carried away even though the guests were sitting at the table at the moment. The marriage relation had fallen to very loose ways. He enacted that any Roman citizen who was the father of three legitimate children born in Rome, or four in Italy, or five anywhere else, should be exempted from certain public obligations; and that the mothers in such cases should be allowed the special dignity of riding in litters, dressing in purple, and wearing necklaces of pearls. Divorces were as frequent as anybody chose to make them, and Caesar, who had divorced his own wife merely upon suspicion, essayed to regulate divorces; and he who from his youth had enjoyed the personal favors of the chief women of Rome, he who "had mistresses in every country which he visited, and liaisons with half the ladies in Rome," and who was at the time maintaining an adulterous connection with the Queen of Egypt, -- he presumed to enact laws against adultery.
One thing, however, he did , which was more lasting than all his other acts put together; and, in fact, of more real benefit. This was the reform of the calendar.
All this time the Senate was heaping upon him titles and honors in the same extravagant profusion as before. One decree made him the father of his country; another liberator; another made him imperator, and commander-in-chief of the army for life with the title to be hereditary in his family. They gave him full charge of the treasury; they made him consul for ten years, and dictator for life. A triumphal robe and a crown of laurel were bestowed on him, with authority to wear them upon all occasions. A figure of his head was impressed upon the coin. His birthday was declared to be a holiday forever; and the name of the month, Quinctilius, was changed to Julius, and is still our July. Next his person was declared sacred, and any disrespect to him in word or action was made to be sacrilege. It was decreed that the oath of allegiance should be sworn by the Fortune of Caesar. The Senate itself took this oath, and by it swore sacredly to maintain his acts, and watch over the safety of his person. To complete the scale, they declared that he was no more Caius Julius, a man, but Divus Julius, a god; and that a temple should be built for the worship of him, and Antony should be the first priest.
Then, having exhausted the extremest measure of the most contemptible sycophancy, March 15, B. C. 44, THEY MURDERED HIM.
Caesar was dead; but all that had made him what he had been, still lived. Pretended patriots assassinated Caesar to save the republic from what they supposed was threatened in him; but in that act of base ingratitude and cruel "patriotism," there was accomplished that which they professed to fear from him, and which in fact they realized from those who were worse than he. It was with the Romans at this time, as it was with the Athenians when Demosthenes told them that if there were no Philip, they themselves would create a Philip. Affairs had reached that point in the Roman State where a Caesar was inevitable, and though to avoid it they had killed the greatest Roman that ever lived, the reality was only the more hastened by the very means which they had employed to prevent it. This they themselves realized as soon as they had awakened from the dream in which they had done the desperate deed. Cicero exactly defined the situation, and gave a perfect outline of the whole history of the times, when, shortly after the murder of Caesar, he bitterly exclaimed, "We have killed the king; but the kingdom is with us still. We have taken away the tyrant; the tyranny survives." That tyranny survived in the breast of every man in Rome.
At the death of Caesar, to Mark Antony, the sole surviving consul, the reins of government fell. Lepidus, Caesar's general of cavalry, was outside the walls with a legion of troops about to depart for Spain. He took possession of the Camp of Mars, and sent to Antony assurances of support. As night came on, with a body of troops he entered the city and camped in the Forum. He and Antony at once came to a mutual understanding. Antony as consul agreed to secure for Lepidus the office of Pontifex Maximus made vacant by the murder of Caesar, and the alliance was completed by Antony's daughter being given in marriage to the son of Lepidus. Antony secured Caesar's will and all his private papers, besides a great sum of money.
As the will showed that Caesar had bequeathed his private gardens to the people of Rome forever as a pleasure ground, and to each citizen a sum of money amounting to nearly fourteen dollars, this bound the populace more firmly than ever to the memory of Caesar. And as Antony stood forth as the one to avenge Caesar's death, this brought the populace unanimously to his support. By the help of all this power and influence, Antony determined to put himself in the place which Caesar had occupied. Among Caesar's papers he found recorded many of Caesar's plans and intentions in matters of the government. These he made to serve his purpose as occasion demanded; for the Senate dared not dissent from any of Caesar's recorded wishes and designs. When the legitimate papers were exhausted, he bribed one of Caesar's clerks to forge and declare to be Caesar's purpose, such State documents as he chose to have made laws, all of which by the power of Caesar's name were carried against all opposition.
Soon, however, there came a serious check upon the success of Antony's soaring ambition. Octavius appeared upon the scene. Caius Octavius was the grandson of one of Caesar's sisters, and by Caesar's will was left his heir and adopted son. He was then in the nineteenth year of his age. He was in Apollonia when Caesar was killed; and upon learning of the murder he immediately set out for Rome, not knowing the particulars, nor yet that Caesar had left a will in his favor. These he learned when he reached the coast of Italy. Without delay, he incorporated Caesar's name with his own, -- Caius Julius Caesar Octavius, -- and presented himself to the nearest body of troops as the heir of the great general. When he reached Rome, Antony received him coldly; refused to give him any of the money that had been left by Caesar; and caused him all the trouble he possibly could in securing possession of the inheritance. Notwithstanding all this, the young Octavius succeeded at every step, and checked Antony at every move. Antony had lost much of his own influence with the populace by failing to fulfill or even to promise to fulfill to them the provisions of Caesar's will. And by refusing to Octavius any of Caesar's money, he hoped so to cripple him that he could not do it.
Octavius promptly assumed all the obligations of the will. He raised money on that portion of the estate which fell to him; he persuaded the other heirs to surrender to his use their shares in the inheritance; he borrowed from Caesar's friends; and altogether succeeded in raising sufficient funds to discharge every obligation. By paying to the people the money that Caesar had left them, he bound the populace to himself. At the time of Caesar's funeral, one of the tribunes, a fast friend to Caesar, but who unfortunately bore the same name as one of Caesar's enemies, was mistaken by the populace for the other man, and in spite of his cries and protestations, was literally torn to pieces. The time came for the vacant tribunate to be filled. Octavius strongly favored a certain candidate. The people proposed to elect Octavius himself, though he was not yet of legal age to hold office. Antony, as consul, interfered to stop the proceedings. This roused the spirit of the people, and as they could not elect Octavius, they stubbornly refused to elect anybody.
Antony, seeing his power with the people was gone, next tried to secure the support of the army. The six best legions of the republic were stationed in Macedonia, destined for service in Parthia. Five of these legions Antony wheedled the Senate into transferring to him. Next he intrigued to have the province of Gaul within the Alps bestowed on him instead of the province of Macedonia which had already been given him. This the Senate hesitated to do, and interposed so many objections that Antony found his purpose about to be frustrated, and he made overtures to Octavius. Octavius received him favorably; a pretended reconciliation was accomplished between them; and by the support of Octavius, Antony secured the change of provinces which he desired. Antony called four of his legions from Macedonia to Brundusium, and went to that place to assume command. As soon as Antony went to Brundusium, Octavius went to Campania, to the colonies of veterans who had been settled there upon the public lands, and by the offer of about a hundred dollars to each one who would join him, he soon secured a force of ten thousand men. These he took to the north of Italy, to the border of Antony's province, and put them in camp there.
When Antony met his legions at Brundusium, he found them sullen, and instead of their greeting him with acclamations they demanded explanations. They declared that they wanted vengeance for Caesar's death, and that instead of punishing the assassins, Antony had dallied with them. They called upon him to mount the tribunal, and explain his conduct. He replied that it was not the place of a Roman commander to explain his conduct, but to enforce obedience. Yet he betrayed his fear of them by mingling promises with his threats and pledges with his commands. He offered them about twenty dollars apiece, and drew a contrast between the hard service in Parthia, and the easy time that was before them in the province to which he was to take them. This did not satisfy them. He put some to death, yet the others would not be quiet. The agents of Octavius were among them contrasting the hundred dollars to each man, that he was paying, with the paltry twenty dollars that Antony was offering. Antony was obliged to increase his bid, but it was not yet near the price Octavius was offering. He broke up the command into small bodies, and ordered them to march separately thus along the coast of the Adriatic, and unite again at Rimini, and he himself returned to Rome. He had barely time to reach his home, when a messenger arrived with the word that one of his legions had gone over bodily to Octavius. This message had scarcely been delivered when another came saying that another legion had done likewise. He went with all haste to where they were, hoping to win them back, but they shut against him the gates of the city where they were, and shot at him from the walls. By raising his bid to the same amount that Octavius was paying, he succeeded in holding the other two legions in allegiance to himself.
War could be the only result of such counterplotting as this, and other circumstances hastened it. Antony now had four legions; Lepidus had six; three were in Gaul under the command of Plancus; and Octavius had five. When Antony had obtained the exchange of provinces, the one which he secured -- Gaul within the Alps -- was already under the command of a pro-consul, Decimus Brutus. But with the command of the province Antony had received authority to drive out of it any pretender to the government. He commanded Decimus to leave the province. Decimus refused, and Antony declared war. Decimus shut himself up in a stronghold, and Antony laid siege to him there. Octavius saw now an opportunity to humble Antony, and strengthen himself -- he offered his service to the Senate.
The two consuls whose term of office had expired came up, January 43, B. C., and Octavius joined his forces to theirs. Two battles were fought in April, in both of which Antony was worsted, though both the pro-consuls were slain. Antony left the field of battle, and marched across the Alps and joined Lepidus. Decimus desired to follow with all the forces present; but as he was one of the murderers of Caesar, Octavius would not obey him. Also the troops of Octavius declared that Caesar's heir was their leader, and Decimus their enemy. Decimus then marched also across the Alps, and joined his forces to those of Plancus. This left Italy wholly to Octavius, and he made the most of the opportunity. He demanded that the Senate grant him a triumph. His demand was only treated with contempt. The Senate in turn sent to him a peremptory command to lead his army against "the parricides and brigands" that had joined their forces in Gaul. He replied by sending to Rome four hundred of his soldiers to demand for him the consulship for the year 42.
The soldiers presented their demand in the Senate house. It was refused. One of them then laid his hand upon his sword and declared with an oath, "If you do not grant it, this shall obtain it for him." Cicero replied, "If this is the way that you sue for the consulship, doubtless your chief will acquire it." The soldiers returned to Octavius, and reported upon their embassy. Octavius with his legions immediately crossed the Rubicon and started for Rome, giving up to the license of his soldiers all the country as he passed.
As soon as the Senate learned that Octavius was coming with his army, they sent an embassy to meet him, and to tell him that if he would only turn back they would grant everything he asked, and add yet above all about five hundred dollars for each of his soldiers. But he, knowing that he had the Senate in his power, determined to make his own terms after he should get possession of the city. The Senate turned brave again, put on a blustering air, and forbade the legions to come nearer than ninety miles to the city. As two legions had just come from Africa, the Senate supposed they had a military power of their own. They threw up fortifications and gave the praetors military command of the city. By this time Octavius and his army had reached Rome. The senators again suddenly lost all their bravery. Such of them as had least hope of favor fled from the city or hid themselves. Of the others, each one for himself decided to go over to Octavius; and when each one with great secrecy had made his way to the camp of the legions, he soon found that all the others had done the same thing. The legions and the praetors who had been set to defend the city went over bodily to Octavius. The gates were thrown open; Octavius with his legions entered the city; the Senate nominated him for consul; the assembly was convened, and he was elected -- September 22, 43 B. C. -- with his own cousin, Pedius, chosen as his colleague, and with the right to name the prefect of the city. Octavius became twenty years old the next day.
An inquiry was at once instituted upon the murder of Caesar, and all the conspirators were declared outlaws; but as Brutus and Caassius, the two chief assassins, were in command of the twenty legions in Macedonia and Asia Minor, Octavius needed more power. This he obtained by forming an alliance with Antony and Lepidus. These two commanders crossed the Alps, and the three met on a small island in the River Reno, near Bologna. There, as a result of their deliberation for three days,
was formed, and the tripartition of the Roman world
They assumed the right to dispose of all the offices of the government; and all their decrees were to have the force of law, without any question, confirmation, or revision by either the Senate or the people. In short, they proposed that their power should be absolute -- they would do what they pleased. Yet they were compelled to consider the army. To secure the support of the legions, they pledged to them eighteen of the finest districts in Italy, with an addition of about a thousand dollars to each soldier. The conditions of the compact were put into writing, and when each of the triumvirs had taken an oath faithfully to observe them, they were read to the troops. The soldiers signified their approval upon condition that Octavius should marry the daughter of Antony's wife Fulvia.7
When the powers of the triumvirate had thus been made firm, the triumvirs sat down "with a list of the noblest citizens before them, and each in turn pricked [with a pin] the name of him whom he destined to perish. Each claimed to be ridded of his personal enemies, and to save his own friends. But when they found their wishes to clash, they resorted without compunction to mutual concessions." Above all other men Cicero was the one upon whom Antony desired to execute vengeance; and in return for this boon, he surrendered to Octavius his own uncle on his mother's side. Lepidus gave up his own brothers. "As they proceeded, their views expanded. They signed death warrants to gratify their friends. As the list slowly lengthened, new motives were discovered for appending to it additional names. The mere possession of riches was fatal to many; for the masters of so many legions were always poor: the occupation of pleasant houses and estates sealed the fate of others; for the triumvirs were voluptuous as well as cruel. Lastly, the mutual jealousy of the proscribers augmented the number of their victims, each seeking the destruction of those who conspicuously favored his colleagues, and each exacting a similar compensation in return. The whole number extended, we are told, to three hundred senators and two thousand knights; among them were brothers, uncles, and favorite officers of the triumvirs themselves." -- Merivale.8
When this list had been arranged, the triumvirs with their legions started to Rome. Before they reached the city, they sent to the consuls the names of seventeen of the most prominent citizens, with an order to put them all to death at once. Cicero was one of the seventeen. The executioners "attacked the houses of the appointed victims in the middle of the night: some they seized and slew unresisting; others struggled to the last, and shed blood in their own defense; others escaping from their hands raised the alarm throughout the city, and the general terror of all classes, not knowing what to expect, or who might feel himself safe, caused a violent commotion." -- Merivale.9 Cicero had left the city, but he was overtaken by the messengers of blood, his head and his hands were cut off and carried to Antony, who exulted over the ghastly trophies; and Fulvia in a rage of gloating anger took the bloody head and held it upon her knees, and looking into the face poured forth a torrent of bitter invective against him whose face it was, and then in a perfect abandon of fury seized from her hair her golden bodkin, and pierced and through the tongue that had so often, so exultantly, and so vilely abused both her husbands.
The triumvirs reached Rome one after another. "Octavius entered first; on the following day Antony appeared; Lepidus came third. Each man was surrounded by a legion and his praetorian cohort. The inhabitants beheld with terror these silent soldiers taking possession of every point commanding the city. Rome seemed like a place conquered and given over to the sword." -- Duruy.10 A tribune called an assembly of the people; a few came, and the three commanders "were now formally invested with the title of triumvirs, and all the powers they claimed were conferred upon them" November 27, B. C. 43. The following night there was posted throughout the city this edict: --
"M. Lepidus, Marcus Antonius, and Octavius Caesar, chosen triumvirs for the reconstitution of the republic, thus declare: Had not the perfidy of the wicked answered benefits by hatred; had not those whom Caesar in his clemency spread after their defeat, enriched and loaded with honors, become his murderers, we too should disregard those who have declared us public enemies. But perceiving that their malignity can be conquered by no benefits, we have chosen to forestall our enemies rather than be taken unawares by them. Some have already been punished; with the help of the gods we shall bring the rest to justice. Being ready to undertake an expedition against the parricides beyond the seas, it has seemed to us and will appear to you necessary that we should not leave other enemies behind us. Yet we will be more merciful than a former imperator, who also restored the ruined republic, and whom you hailed with the name of Felix. Not all the wealthy, not all who have held office, will perish, but only the most dangerous evil-doers. These offenders we might have seized unawares; but for your sakes we have preferred to draw up a list of proscribed persons rather than to order an executing by the troops, in which harm might have come to the innocent. This then is our order: Let no one hide any of those whose names follow; whosoever shall aid in the escape of a proscribed man shall be himself proscribed. Let the heads be brought to us. As a reward, a man of free condition shall receive twenty-five thousand Attic drachmae, a slave ten thousand, together with freedom and the name of citizen. The names of persons receiving these rewards shall be kept secret." -- Duruy.11
Attached to this document were one hundred and thirty names of senators and knights who were devoted to death. Another list of one hundred and fifty was almost immediately added, and yet others followed in quick succession. Guards had been placed at all the gates, all places of refuge had been occupied, and all means of escape had been cut off. The slaughter began. "The executioners, armed with the prostituted forms of authority, rushed unresisted and unhindered in pursuit of their victims. They found many to aid them in the search, and to stimulate their activity. The contagious thirst of blood spread from the hired assassins to all who had an ancient grudge to requite, a future favor to obtain. Many fell in the confusion whose names were not included in the list of the proscribed. Many a private debt was wiped out in the blood of the creditor. Robbers and cut-throats mingled with the bitter partisan and the private enemy. While the murderer carried the head of his victim to fix it on a spike before the rostra, and claim the proffered reward, the jackals of massacre entered the tenantless house, and glutted themselves with plunder." Merivale.12
When the names of the published lists had been exhausted, and all their political enemies had been slain, the triumvirs published yet another list, not of more to be put to death, but of those whose property should be confiscated. When this list was exhausted, then "all the inhabitants of Rome and Italy, -- citizens and foreigners, priests and freedmen," -- who had possessions amounting to more than twenty thousand dollars, were obliged to "lend" to the triumvirs one-tenth of all their possessions, and "give" one year's income besides. Then, "glutted with blood and rapine," Lepidus, for the triumvirate, announced to the Senate that the proscription was at an end. Octavius, however, reserved the right to kill some more, and "declared that the only limit he had fixed to the proscription was that he should be free to act as he pleased." -- Suetonius.13 Then the fawning Senate voted to the triumvirs civic crowns as "the saviors of their country."
In the beginning of the year 42 B. C., Antony and Octavius, leaving Lepidus in command of Rome and Italy, started to the East to destroy Brutus and Cassius, the murderers of Caesar; but it was summer before they got all their troops together in Macedonia. Brutus and Cassius, with their united forces, had returned from Asia Minor into Europe. The two armies met at Philippi in Macedonia. The forces of Brutus and Cassius numbered about one hundred thousand, and those of Antony and Octavius about one hundred and twenty thousand. Two battles, twenty days apart, were fought on the same ground. In the first Cassius lost his life; in the second the army of Brutus was annihilated, and Brutus himself committed suicide.
It became necessary now to pay the soldiers the money and put them in possession of the land which had been promised them when the triumvirate was formed. A sum equal to a thousand dollars had been promised to each soldier, and as there were now one hundred and seventy thousand soldiers, a sum equal to one hundred and seventy million dollars was required. Antony assumed the task of raising the money from the wealth of Asia, and Octavius the task of dispossessing the inhabitants of Italy and distributing their lands and cities among the soldiers. Antony's word to the people of Pergamos describes the situation both in Italy and all the countries of Asia. To them he said: --
"You deserve death for rebellion; this penalty I will remit; but I want money, for I have twenty-eight legions, which with their auxiliary battalions amount to 170,000 men, besides cavalry and detachments in other quarters. I leave you to conceive what a mass of money must be required to maintain such armaments. My colleague has gone to Italy to divide its soil among these soldiers, and to expel, so to speak, the Italians from their won country. Your lands we do not demand; but instead thereof we will have money. And when you hear how easily, after all, we shall be contented, you will, we conceive, be satisfied to pay and be quit of us. We demand only the same sum which you have contributed during the last two years to our adversaries; that is to say, the tribute of ten years; but our necessities compel us to insist upon receiving this sum within twelve months." -- Merivale.14
As the tribute was much reduced by the time it reached the coffers of Antony, the levy was doubled, and the command given that it should be paid in two installments the same year. To this the people replied, "If you force us to pay the tribute twice in one year, give us two summers and two harvests. No doubt you have also the power to do so." But instead of considering the distress of the people caused by these most burdensome exactions, "Antony surrounded himself with flute-players, mountebanks, and dancing-girls. He entered Ephesus, preceded by women dressed as Bacchantes, and youths in the garb of Fauns and Satyrs. Already he assumed the aATJ TTRibutes of Bacchus, and set himself to play the part by continual orgies." -- Duruy.15
While Cassius was in Asia Minor, he had compelled Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, to supply him with troops and money. As these had been used against the triumvirs, Antony sent from Tarsus in Cilicia, and called her to account for her conduct. She came, representing Venus, to render her account in person. And "when she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up his heart on the river of Cydnus."
"The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne,
Burned on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water, which they beat, to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggared all description: she did lie
In her pavilion (cloth of gold and tissue),
O'er-picturing that Venus, where we see
The fancy out-work nature: on each side her,
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling cupids,
With divers colored fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid, did. . . .
"Her gentlewomen, like the Nereides,
So many mermaids, tended her i' the eyes,
And made their bends adornings: at the helm
A seeming mermaid steers; the silken tackle
Swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands,
That yarely frame the office. From the barge
A strange invisible perfume hits the sense
Of the adjacent wharfs. The city cast
Her people out upon her; and Antony,
Enthroned in the market-place, did sit alone,
Whistling to the air; which, but for vacancy,
Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra, too,
And made a gap in nature. . . .
"Upon her landing, Antony sent to her,
Invited her to supper: she replied,
It should be better, he became her guest;
Which she entreated: Our courteous Antony,
Whom ne'er the word of `No,' woman heard speak,
Being barbered ten times o'er, goes to the feast;
And, for his ordinary, pays his heart,
For what his eyes eat only."
Antony went with Cleopatra to Alexandria, B. C. 41. Fulvia died in the spring of 40. Antony's giddy infatuation with the voluptuous queen of Egypt was fast estranging him from Octavius and the Roman people. The matter was patched up for a little while, by the marriage of Antony and Octavia, the sister of Octavius, B. C. 40; but within two years Antony was again swallowed up in the charms of Cleopatra, from whom he never again separated. Two children whom he had by her he named respectively the Sun and the Moon, and when Cleopatra assumed the dress and professed the aATJ TTRibutes of Isis, Antony played the part of Osiris. He publicly rejected Octavia in 35, divorced her in 32, and war was declared the same year. The war began and ended with the naval battle of Actium, September 2, B. C. 31.
In the midst of the battle Cleopatra hoisted sail and fled. Antony left everything and followed her. They sailed home to Alexandria, and there committed suicide. In the meantime Lepidus had been set aside, and now, just thirteen and one-half years from the murder of Caesar, the State, having again gone through the same course precisely, came again to the exact point where it had been then, only in worse hands, and Octavius was the head of one hundred and twenty millions of people, and SOLE MASTER OF THE ROMAN WORLD.
1 [Page 50] "History of the Romans Under the Empire," chap. iv, par. 22.
2 [Page 51] Id., par. 33.
3 [Page 55] "History of Rome," book v, chap. xi, par. 72.
4 [Page 58] "Romans Under the Empire," chap. xi, par. 4 from end.
5 [Page 61] "Caesar," chap. xxi, par. 3.
6 [Page 65] Plutarch's "Lives," Numa, chap. xxxi. Merivale, "Romans Under the Empire," chap. iv, par. 42; and chap. xx, par. 11.
7 [Page 74] The girl's name was Clodia. She was Fulvia's daughter by Clodius, her former husband.
8 [Page 74] "Romans Under the Empire," chap. xxvi, par. 13.
9 [Page 75] Id., par. 14.
10 [Page 75] "History of Rome," chap. lix, sec. iv, par. 10.
11 [Page 76] Id.
12 [Page 77] "Romans Under the Empire," chap. xxvi, par. 15.
13 [Page 77] "Lives of the Caesars," Augustus, chap. xxvii
14 [Page 78] "Romans Under the Empire," chap. xxvii, par. 2.
15 [Page 79] "History of Rome," chap. lx, sec. iii, par. 1.
16 [Page 80] "Antony and Cleopatra," act ii, scene ii.