The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

XXV. During nine years in which he held the government of the province,
his achievements were as follows: he reduced all Gaul, bounded by the
Pyrenean forest, the Alps, mount Gebenna, and the two rivers, the Rhine
and the Rhone, and being about three thousand two hundred miles in
compass, into the form of a province, excepting only the nations in
alliance with the republic, and such as had merited his favour; imposing
upon this new acquisition an annual tribute of forty millions of
sesterces. He was the first of the Romans who, crossing the Rhine by a
bridge, attacked the Germanic tribes inhabiting the country beyond that
river, whom he defeated in several engagements. He also invaded the
Britons, a people formerly unknown, and having vanquished them, exacted
from them contributions and hostages. Amidst such a series of successes,
he experienced thrice only any signal disaster; once in Britain, when his
fleet was nearly wrecked in a storm; in Gaul, at Gergovia, where one of
his legions was put to the rout; and in the territory of the Germans, his
lieutenants Titurius and Aurunculeius were cut off by an ambuscade.

XXVI. During this period [51] he lost his mother [52], whose death was
followed by that of his daughter [53], and, not long afterwards, of his
granddaughter. Meanwhile, the republic being in consternation at the
murder of Publius Clodius, and the senate passing a vote that only one
consul, namely, Cneius Pompeius, should be chosen for the ensuing year,
he prevailed with the tribunes of the people, who intended joining him in
nomination with Pompey, to propose to the people a bill, enabling him,
though absent, to become a candidate for his second consulship, when the
term of his command should be near expiring, that he might not be obliged
on that account to quit his province too soon, and before the conclusion
of the war. Having attained this object, carrying his views still
higher, and animated with the hopes of success, he omitted no (18)
opportunity of gaining universal favour, by acts of liberality and
kindness to individuals, both in public and private. With money raised
from the spoils of the war, he began to construct a new forum, the
ground-plot of which cost him above a hundred millions of sesterces [54].
He promised the people a public entertainment of gladiators, and a feast
in memory of his daughter, such as no one before him had ever given. The
more to raise their expectations on this occasion, although he had agreed
with victuallers of all denominations for his feast, he made yet farther
preparations in private houses. He issued an order, that the most
celebrated gladiators, if at any time during the combat they incurred the
displeasure of the public, should be immediately carried off by force,
and reserved for some future occasion. Young gladiators he trained up,
not in the school, and by the masters, of defence, but in the houses of
Roman knights, and even senators, skilled in the use of arms, earnestly
requesting them, as appears from his letters, to undertake the discipline
of those novitiates, and to give them the word during their exercises.
He doubled the pay of the legions in perpetuity; allowing them likewise
corn, when it was in plenty, without any restriction; and sometimes
distributing to every soldier in his army a slave, and a portion of land.

XXVII. To maintain his alliance and good understanding with Pompey, he
offered him in marriage his sister’s grand-daughter Octavia, who had been
married to Caius Marcellus; and requested for himself his daughter,
lately contracted to Faustus Sylla. Every person about him, and a great
part likewise of the senate, he secured by loans of money at low
interest, or none at all; and to all others who came to wait upon him,
either by invitation or of their own accord, he made liberal presents;
not neglecting even the freed-men and slaves, who were favourites with
their masters and patrons. He offered also singular and ready aid to all
who were under prosecution, or in debt, and to prodigal youths; excluding
from (19) his bounty those only who were so deeply plunged in guilt,
poverty, or luxury, that it was impossible effectually to relieve them.
These, he openly declared, could derive no benefit from any other means
than a civil war.

XXVIII. He endeavoured with equal assiduity to engage in his interest
princes and provinces in every part of the world; presenting some with
thousands of captives, and sending to others the assistance of troops, at
whatever time and place they desired, without any authority from either
the senate or people of Rome. He likewise embellished with magnificent
public buildings the most powerful cities not only of Italy, Gaul, and
Spain, but of Greece and Asia; until all people being now astonished, and
speculating on the obvious tendency of these proceedings, Claudius
Marcellus, the consul, declaring first by proclamation, that he intended
to propose a measure of the utmost importance to the state, made a motion
in the senate that some person should be appointed to succeed Caesar in
his province, before the term of his command was expired; because the war
being brought to a conclusion, peace was restored, and the victorious
army ought to be disbanded. He further moved, that Caesar being absent,
his claims to be a candidate at the next election of consuls should not
be admitted, as Pompey himself had afterwards abrogated that privilege by
a decree of the people. The fact was, that Pompey, in his law relating
to the choice of chief magistrates, had forgot to except Caesar, in the
article in which he declared all such as were not present incapable of
being candidates for any office; but soon afterwards, when the law was
inscribed on brass, and deposited in the treasury, he corrected his
mistake. Marcellus, not content with depriving Caesar of his provinces,
and the privilege intended him by Pompey, likewise moved the senate, that
the freedom of the city should be taken from those colonists whom, by the
Vatinian law, he had settled at New Como [55]; because it had been
conferred upon them with ambitious views, and by a stretch of the laws.

(20) XXIX. Roused by these proceedings, and thinking, as he was often
heard to say, that it would be a more difficult enterprise to reduce him,
now that he was the chief man in the state, from the first rank of
citizens to the second, than from the second to the lowest of all, Caesar
made a vigorous opposition to the measure, partly by means of the
tribunes, who interposed in his behalf, and partly through Servius
Sulpicius, the other consul. The following year likewise, when Caius
Marcellus, who succeeded his cousin Marcus in the consulship, pursued the
same course, Caesar, by means of an immense bribe, engaged in his defence
Aemilius Paulus, the other consul, and Caius Curio, the most violent of
the tribunes. But finding the opposition obstinately bent against him,
and that the consuls-elect were also of that party, he wrote a letter to
the senate, requesting that they would not deprive him of the privilege
kindly granted him by the people; or else that the other generals should
resign the command of their armies as well as himself; fully persuaded,
as it is thought, that he could more easily collect his veteran soldiers,
whenever he pleased, than Pompey could his new-raised troops. At the
same time, he made his adversaries an offer to disband eight of his
legions and give up Transalpine-Gaul, upon condition that he might retain
two legions, with the Cisalpine province, or but one legion with
Illyricum, until he should be elected consul.

XXX. But as the senate declined to interpose in the business, and his
enemies declared that they would enter into no compromise where the
safety of the republic was at stake, he advanced into Hither-Gaul [56],
and, having gone the circuit for the administration of justice, made a
halt at Ravenna, resolved to have recourse to arms if the senate should
proceed to extremity against the tribunes of the people who had espoused
his cause. This was indeed his pretext for the civil war; but it is
supposed that there were other motives for his conduct. Cneius Pompey
used frequently to say, that he sought to throw every thing into
confusion, because he was unable, with all his private wealth, to
complete the works he had begun, and answer, at his return, the vast
expectations which he had excited in the people. Others pretend that he
was apprehensive of being (21) called to account for what he had done in
his first consulship, contrary to the auspices, laws, and the protests of
the tribunes; Marcus Cato having sometimes declared, and that, too, with
an oath, that he would prefer an impeachment against him, as soon as he
disbanded his army. A report likewise prevailed, that if he returned as
a private person, he would, like Milo, have to plead his cause before the
judges, surrounded by armed men. This conjecture is rendered highly
probable by Asinius Pollio, who informs us that Caesar, upon viewing the
vanquished and slaughtered enemy in the field of Pharsalia, expressed
himself in these very words: “This was their intention: I, Caius Caesar,
after all the great achievements I had performed, must have been
condemned, had I not summoned the army to my aid!” Some think, that
having contracted from long habit an extraordinary love of power, and
having weighed his own and his enemies’ strength, he embraced that
occasion of usurping the supreme power; which indeed he had coveted from
the time of his youth. This seems to have been the opinion entertained
by Cicero, who tells us, in the third book of his Offices, that Caesar
used to have frequently in his mouth two verses of Euripides, which he
thus translates:

Nam si violandum est jus, regnandi gratia
Violandum est: aliis rebus pietatem colas.

Be just, unless a kingdom tempts to break the laws,
For sovereign power alone can justify the cause. [57]

XXXI. When intelligence, therefore, was received, that the interposition
of the tribunes in his favour had been utterly rejected, and that they
themselves had fled from the city, he immediately sent forward some
cohorts, but privately, to prevent any suspicion of his design; and, to
keep up appearances, attended at a public spectacle, examined the model
of a fencing-school which he proposed to build, and, as usual, sat down
to table with a numerous party of his friends. But after sun-set, mules
being put to his carriage from a neighbouring mill, he set forward on his
journey with all possible privacy, and a small retinue. The lights going
out, he lost his way, and (22) wandered about a long time, until at
length, by the help of a guide, whom he found towards day-break, he
proceeded on foot through some narrow paths, and again reached the road.
Coming up with his troops on the banks of the Rubicon, which was the
boundary of his province [58], he halted for a while, and, revolving in
his mind the importance of the step he was on the point of taking, he
turned to those about him, and said: “We may still retreat; but if we
pass this little bridge, nothing is left for us but to fight it out in

XXXII. While he was thus hesitating, the following incident occurred. A
person remarkable for his noble mien and graceful aspect, appeared close
at hand, sitting and playing upon a pipe. When, not only the shepherds,
but a number of soldiers also flocked from their posts to listen to him,
and some trumpeters among them, he snatched a trumpet from one of them,
ran to the river with it, and sounding the advance with a piercing blast,
crossed to the other side. Upon this, Caesar exclaimed, “Let us go
whither the omens of the Gods and the iniquity of our enemies call us.
The die is now cast.”

XXXIII. Accordingly, having marched his army over the river, he shewed
them the tribunes of the people, who, upon their being driven from the
city, had come to meet him; and, in the presence of that assembly, called
upon the troops to pledge him their fidelity, with tears in his eyes, and
his garment rent from his bosom. It has been supposed, that upon this
occasion he promised to every soldier a knight’s estate; but that opinion
is founded on a mistake. For when, in his harangue to them, he
frequently held out a finger of his left hand, and declared, that to
recompense those who should support him in the defence of his honour, he
would willingly part even with his ring; the soldiers at a distance, who
could more easily see than hear him while he spoke, formed their
conception of what he said, by the eye, not by the ear; and accordingly
gave out, that he had promised to each of them the privilege (23) of
wearing the gold ring, and an estate of four hundred thousand sesterces.

XXXIV. Of his subsequent proceedings I shall give a cursory detail, in
the order in which they occurred [61]. He took possession of Picenum,
Umbria, and Etruria; and having obliged Lucius Domitius, who had been
tumultuously nominated his successor, and held Corsinium with a garrison,
to surrender, and dismissed him, he marched along the coast of the Upper
Sea, to Brundusium, to which place the consuls and Pompey were fled with
the intention of crossing the sea as soon as possible. After vain
attempts, by all the obstacles he could oppose, to prevent their leaving
the harbour, he turned his steps towards Rome, where he appealed to the
senate on the present state of public affairs; and then set out for
Spain, in which province Pompey had a numerous army, under the command of
three lieutenants, Marcus Petreius, Lucius Afranius, and Marcus Varro;
declaring amongst his friends, before he set forward, “That he was going
against an army without a general, and should return thence against a
general without an army.” Though his progress was retarded both by the
siege of Marseilles, which shut her gates against him, and a very great
scarcity of corn, yet in a short time he bore down all before him.

XXXV. Thence he returned to Rome, and crossing the sea to Macedonia,
blocked up Pompey during almost four months, within a line of ramparts of
prodigious extent; and at last defeated him in the battle of Pharsalia.
Pursuing him in his flight to Alexandria, where he was informed of his
murder, he presently found himself also engaged, under all the
disadvantages of time and place, in a very dangerous war, with king
Ptolemy, who, he saw, had treacherous designs upon his life. It was
winter, and he, within the walls of a well-provided and subtle enemy, was
destitute of every thing, and wholly unprepared (24) for such a conflict.
He succeeded, however, in his enterprise, and put the kingdom of Egypt
into the hands of Cleopatra and her younger brother; being afraid to make
it a province, lest, under an aspiring prefect, it might become the
centre of revolt. From Alexandria he went into Syria, and thence to
Pontus, induced by intelligence which be had received respecting
Pharnaces. This prince, who was son of the great Mithridates, had seized
the opportunity which the distraction of the times offered for making war
upon his neighbours, and his insolence and fierceness had grown with his
success. Caesar, however, within five days after entering his country,
and four hours after coming in sight of him, overthrew him in one
decisive battle. Upon which, he frequently remarked to those about him
the good fortune of Pompey, who had obtained his military reputation,
chiefly, by victory over so feeble an enemy. He afterwards defeated
Scipio and Juba, who were rallying the remains of the party in Africa,
and Pompey’s sons in Spain.

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