The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

XI. Having thus conciliated popular favour, he endeavoured, through his
interest with some of the tribunes, to get Egypt assigned to him as a
province, by an act of the people. The pretext alleged for the creation
of this extraordinary government, was, that the Alexandrians had
violently expelled their king [32], whom the senate had complimented with
the title of an ally and friend of the Roman people. This was generally
resented; but, notwithstanding, there was so much opposition from the
faction of the nobles, that he could not carry his point. In order,
therefore, to diminish their influence by every means in his power, he
restored the trophies erected in honour of Caius Marius, on account of
his victories over Jugurtha, the Cimbri, and the Teutoni, which had been
demolished by Sylla; and when sitting in judgment upon murderers, he
treated those as assassins, who, in the late proscription, had received
money from the treasury, for bringing in the heads of Roman citizens,
although they were expressly excepted in the Cornelian laws.

XII. He likewise suborned some one to prefer an impeachment (9) for
treason against Caius Rabirius, by whose especial assistance the senate
had, a few years before, put down Lucius Saturninus, the seditious
tribune; and being drawn by lot a judge on the trial, he condemned him
with so much animosity, that upon his appealing to the people, no
circumstance availed him so much as the extraordinary bitterness of his
judge.

XIII. Having renounced all hope of obtaining Egypt for his province, he
stood candidate for the office of chief pontiff, to secure which, he had
recourse to the most profuse bribery. Calculating, on this occasion, the
enormous amount of the debts he had contracted, he is reported to have
said to his mother, when she kissed him at his going out in the morning
to the assembly of the people, “I will never return home unless I am
elected pontiff.” In effect, he left so far behind him two most powerful
competitors, who were much his superiors both in age and rank, that he
had more votes in their own tribes, than they both had in all the tribes
together.

XIV. After he was chosen praetor, the conspiracy of Catiline was
discovered; and while every other member of the senate voted for
inflicting capital punishment on the accomplices in that crime [33], he
alone proposed that the delinquents should be distributed for safe
custody among the towns of Italy, their property being confiscated. He
even struck such terror into those who were advocates for greater
severity, by representing to them what universal odium would be attached
to their memories by the Roman people, that Decius Silanus, consul elect,
did not hesitate to qualify his proposal, it not being very honourable to
change it, by a lenient interpretation; as if it had been understood in a
harsher sense than he intended, and Caesar would certainly have carried
his point, having brought over to his side a great number of the
senators, among whom was Cicero, the consul’s brother, had not a speech
by Marcus Cato infused new vigour into the resolutions of the senate. He
persisted, however, in obstructing the measure, until a body of the Roman
knights, who stood under arms as a guard, threatened him with instant
death, if he continued his determined opposition. They even thrust at
him with their drawn swords, so that those who sat next him moved away;
(10) and a few friends, with no small difficulty, protected him, by
throwing their arms round him, and covering him with their togas. At
last, deterred by this violence, he not only gave way, but absented
himself from the senate-house during the remainder of that year.

XV. Upon the first day of his praetorship, he summoned Quintus Catulus
to render an account to the people respecting the repairs of the Capitol
[34]; proposing a decree for transferring the office of curator to
another person [35]. But being unable to withstand the strong opposition
made by the aristocratical party, whom he perceived quitting, in great
numbers, their attendance upon the new consuls [36], and fully resolved
to resist his proposal, he dropped the design.

XVI. He afterwards approved himself a most resolute supporter of
Caecilius Metullus, tribune of the people, who, in spite of all
opposition from his colleagues, had proposed some laws of a violent
tendency [37], until they were both dismissed from office by a vote of
the senate. He ventured, notwithstanding, to retain his post and
continue in the administration of justice; but finding that preparations
were made to obstruct him by force of arms, he dismissed the lictors,
threw off his gown, and betook himself privately to his own house, with
the resolution of being quiet, in a time so unfavourable to his
interests. He likewise pacified the mob, which two days afterwards
flocked about him, and in a riotous manner made a voluntary tender of
their assistance in the vindication of his (11) honour. This happening
contrary to expectation, the senate, who met in haste, on account of the
tumult, gave him their thanks by some of the leading members of the
house, and sending for him, after high commendation of his conduct,
cancelled their former vote, and restored him to his office.

XVII. But he soon got into fresh trouble, being named amongst the
accomplices of Catiline, both before Novius Niger the quaestor, by Lucius
Vettius the informer, and in the senate by Quintus Curius; to whom a
reward had been voted, for having first discovered the designs of the
conspirators. Curius affirmed that he had received his information from
Catiline. Vettius even engaged to produce in evidence against him his
own hand-writing, given to Catiline. Caesar, feeling that this treatment
was not to be borne, appealed to Cicero himself, whether he had not
voluntarily made a discovery to him of some particulars of the
conspiracy; and so baulked Curius of his expected reward. He, therefore,
obliged Vettius to give pledges for his behaviour, seized his goods, and
after heavily fining him, and seeing him almost torn in pieces before the
rostra, threw him into prison; to which he likewise sent Novius the
quaestor, for having presumed to take an information against a magistrate
of superior authority.

XVIII. At the expiration of his praetorship he obtained by lot the
Farther-Spain [38], and pacified his creditors, who were for detaining
him, by finding sureties for his debts [39]. Contrary, however, to both
law and custom, he took his departure before the usual equipage and
outfit were prepared. It is uncertain whether this precipitancy arose
from the apprehension of an impeachment, with which he was threatened on
the expiration of his former office, or from his anxiety to lose no time
in relieving the allies, who implored him to come to their aid. He had
no (12) sooner established tranquillity in the province, than, without
waiting for the arrival of his successor, he returned to Rome, with equal
haste, to sue for a triumph [40], and the consulship. The day of
election, however, being already fixed by proclamation, he could not
legally be admitted a candidate, unless he entered the city as a private
person [41]. On this emergency he solicited a suspension of the laws in
his favour; but such an indulgence being strongly opposed, he found
himself under the necessity of abandoning all thoughts of a triumph, lest
he should be disappointed of the consulship.

XIX. Of the two other competitors for the consulship, Lucius Luceius and
Marcus Bibulus, he joined with the former, upon condition that Luceius,
being a man of less interest but greater affluence, should promise money
to the electors, in their joint names. Upon which the party of the
nobles, dreading how far he might carry matters in that high office, with
a colleague disposed to concur in and second his measures, advised
Bibulus to promise the voters as much as the other; and most of them
contributed towards the expense, Cato himself admitting that bribery;
under such circumstances, was for the public good [42]. He was
accordingly elected consul jointly with Bibulus. Actuated still by the
same motives, the prevailing party took care to assign provinces of small
importance to the new consuls, such as the care of the woods and roads.
Caesar, incensed at this indignity, endeavoured by the most assiduous and
flattering attentions to gain to his side Cneius Pompey, at that time
dissatisfied with the senate for the backwardness they shewed to confirm
his acts, after his victories over Mithridates. He likewise brought
about a reconciliation between Pompey and Marcus Crassus, who had been at
variance from (13) the time of their joint consulship, in which office
they were continually clashing; and he entered into an agreement with
both, that nothing should be transacted in the government, which was
displeasing to any of the three.

XX. Having entered upon his office [43], he introduced a new regulation,
that the daily acts both of the senate and people should be committed to
writing, and published [44]. He also revived an old custom, that an
officer [45] should precede him, and his lictors follow him, on the
alternate months when the fasces were not carried before him. Upon
preferring a bill to the people for the division of some public lands, he
was opposed by his colleague, whom he violently drove out of the forum.
Next day the insulted consul made a complaint in the senate of this
treatment; but such was the consternation, that no one having the courage
to bring the matter forward or move a censure, which had been often done
under outrages of less importance, he was so much dispirited, that until
the expiration of his office he never stirred from home, and did nothing
but issue edicts to obstruct his colleague’s proceedings. From that
time, therefore, Caesar had the sole management of public affairs;
insomuch that some wags, when they signed any instrument as witnesses,
did not add “in the consulship of Caesar and Bibulus,” but, “of Julius
and Caesar;” putting the same person down twice, under his name and
surname. The following verses likewise were currently repeated on this
occasion:

Non Bibulo quidquam nuper, sed Caesare factum est;
Nam Bibulo fieri consule nil memini.

Nothing was done in Bibulus’s year:
No; Caesar only then was consul here.

(14) The land of Stellas, consecrated by our ancestors to the gods, with
some other lands in Campania left subject to tribute, for the support of
the expenses of the government, he divided, but not by lot, among upwards
of twenty thousand freemen, who had each of them three or more children.
He eased the publicans, upon their petition, of a third part of the sum
which they had engaged to pay into the public treasury; and openly
admonished them not to bid so extravagantly upon the next occasion. He
made various profuse grants to meet the wishes of others, no one opposing
him; or if any such attempt was made, it was soon suppressed. Marcus
Cato, who interrupted him in his proceedings, he ordered to be dragged
out of the senate-house by a lictor, and carried to prison. Lucius
Lucullus, likewise, for opposing him with some warmth, he so terrified
with the apprehension of being criminated, that, to deprecate the
consul’s resentment, he fell on his knees. And upon Cicero’s lamenting
in some trial the miserable condition of the times, he the very same day,
by nine o’clock, transferred his enemy, Publius Clodius, from a patrician
to a plebeian family; a change which he had long solicited in vain [46].
At last, effectually to intimidate all those of the opposite party, he by
great rewards prevailed upon Vettius to declare, that he had been
solicited by certain persons to assassinate Pompey; and when he was
brought before the rostra to name those who had been concerted between
them, after naming one or two to no purpose, not without great suspicion
of subornation, Caesar, despairing of success in this rash stratagem, is
supposed to have taken off his informer by poison.

XXI. About the same time he married Calpurnia, the daughter of Lucius
Piso, who was to succeed him in the consulship, and gave his own daughter
Julia to Cneius Pompey; rejecting Servilius Caepio, to whom she had been
contracted, and by whose means chiefly he had but a little before baffled
Bibulus. After this new alliance, he began, upon any debates in the
senate, to ask Pompey’s opinion first, whereas he used before to give
that distinction to Marcus Crassus; and it was (15) the usual practice
for the consul to observe throughout the year the method of consulting
the senate which he had adopted on the calends (the first) of January.

XXII. Being, therefore, now supported by the interest of his father-in-
law and son-in-law, of all the provinces he made choice of Gaul, as most
likely to furnish him with matter and occasion for triumphs. At first
indeed he received only Cisalpine-Gaul, with the addition of Illyricum,
by a decree proposed by Vatinius to the people; but soon afterwards
obtained from the senate Gallia-Comata [47] also, the senators being
apprehensive, that if they should refuse it him, that province, also,
would be granted him by the people. Elated now with his success, he
could not refrain from boasting, a few days afterwards, in a full senate-
house, that he had, in spite of his enemies, and to their great
mortification, obtained all he desired, and that for the future he would
make them, to their shame, submissive to his pleasure. One of the
senators observing, sarcastically: “That will not be very easy for a
woman [48] to do,” he jocosely replied, “Semiramis formerly reigned in
Assyria, and the Amazons possessed great part of Asia.”

XXIII. When the term of his consulship had expired, upon a motion being
made in the senate by Caius Memmius and Lucius Domitius, the praetors,
respecting the transactions of the year past, he offered to refer himself
to the house; but (16) they declining the business, after three days
spent in vain altercation, he set out for his province. Immediately,
however, his quaestor was charged with several misdemeanors, for the
purpose of implicating Caesar himself. Indeed, an accusation was soon
after preferred against him by Lucius Antistius, tribune of the people;
but by making an appeal to the tribune’s colleagues, he succeeded in
having the prosecution suspended during his absence in the service of the
state. To secure himself, therefore, for the time to come, he was
particularly careful to secure the good-will of the magistrates at the
annual elections, assisting none of the candidates with his interest, nor
suffering any persons to be advanced to any office, who would not
positively undertake to defend him in his absence for which purpose he
made no scruple to require of some of them an oath, and even a written
obligation.

XXIV. But when Lucius Domitius became a candidate for the consulship,
and openly threatened that, upon his being elected consul, he would
effect that which he could not accomplish when he was praetor, and divest
him of the command of the armies, he sent for Crassus and Pompey to
Lucca, a city in his province, and pressed them, for the purpose of
disappointing Domitius, to sue again for the consulship, and to continue
him in his command for five years longer; with both which requisitions
they complied. Presumptuous now from his success, he added, at his own
private charge, more legions to those which he had received from the
republic; among the former of which was one levied in Transalpine Gaul,
and called by a Gallic name, Alauda [49], which he trained and armed in
the Roman fashion, and afterwards conferred on it the freedom of the
city. From this period he declined no occasion of war, however unjust
and dangerous; attacking, without any provocation, as well the allies of
Rome as the barbarous nations which were its enemies: insomuch, that the
senate passed a decree for sending commissioners to examine into the
condition of Gaul; and some members even proposed that he should be
delivered up to the enemy. But so great had been the success of his
enterprises, that he had the honour of obtaining more days [50] (17) of
supplication, and those more frequently, than had ever before been
decreed to any commander.

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