The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

LXI. He rode a very remarkable horse, with feet almost like those of a
man, the hoofs being divided in such a manner as to have some resemblance
to toes. This horse he had bred himself, and the soothsayers having
interpreted these circumstances into an omen that its owner would be
master of the world, he brought him up with particular care, and broke
him in himself, as the horse would suffer no one else to mount him. A
statue of this horse was afterwards erected by Caesar’s order before the
temple of Venus Genitrix.

LXII. He often rallied his troops, when they were giving way, by his
personal efforts; stopping those who fled, keeping others in their ranks,
and seizing them by their throat turned them towards the enemy; although
numbers were so terrified, that an eagle-bearer [83], thus stopped, made
a thrust at him with (40) the spear-head; and another, upon a similar
occasion, left the standard in his hand.

LXIII. The following instances of his resolution are equally, and even
more remarkable. After the battle of Pharsalia, having sent his troops
before him into Asia, as he was passing the straits of the Hellespont in
a ferry-boat, he met with Lucius Cassius, one of the opposite party, with
ten ships of war; and so far from endeavouring to escape, he went
alongside his ship, and calling upon him to surrender, Cassius humbly
gave him his submission.

LXIV. At Alexandria, in the attack of a bridge, being forced by a sudden
sally of the enemy into a boat, and several others hurrying in with him,
he leaped into the sea, and saved himself by swimming to the next ship,
which lay at the distance of two hundred paces; holding up his left hand
out of the water, for fear of wetting some papers which he held in it;
and pulling his general’s cloak after him with his teeth, lest it should
fall into the hands of the enemy.

LXV. He never valued a soldier for his moral conduct or his means, but
for his courage only; and treated his troops with a mixture of severity
and indulgence; for he did not always keep a strict hand over them, but
only when the enemy was near. Then indeed he was so strict a
disciplinarian, that he would give no notice of a march or a battle until
the moment of action, in order that the troops might hold themselves in
readiness for any sudden movement; and he would frequently draw them out
of the camp without any necessity for it, especially in rainy weather,
and upon holy-days. Sometimes, giving them orders not to lose sight of
him, he would suddenly depart by day or by night, and lengthen the
marches in order to tire them out, as they followed him at a distance.

LXVI. When at any time his troops were dispirited by reports of the
great force of the enemy, he rallied their courage; not by denying the
truth of what was said, or by diminishing the facts, but, on the
contrary, by exaggerating every particular. (41) Accordingly, when his
troops were in great alarm at the expected arrival of king Juba, he
called them together, and said, “I have to inform you that in a very few
days the king will be here, with ten legions, thirty thousand horse, a
hundred thousand light-armed foot, and three hundred elephants. Let none
of you, therefore, presume to make further enquiry, or indulge in
conjectures, but take my word for what I tell you, which I have from
undoubted intelligence; otherwise I shall put them aboard an old crazy
vessel, and leave them exposed to the mercy of the winds, to be
transported to some other country.”

LXVII. He neither noticed all their transgressions, nor punished them
according to strict rule. But for deserters and mutineers he made the
most diligent enquiry, and their punishment was most severe: other
delinquencies he would connive at. Sometimes, after a great battle
ending in victory, he would grant them a relaxation from all kinds of
duty, and leave them to revel at pleasure; being used to boast, “that his
soldiers fought nothing the worse for being well oiled.” In his
speeches, he never addressed them by the title of “Soldiers,” but by the
kinder phrase of “Fellow-soldiers;” and kept them in such splendid order,
that their arms were ornamented with silver and gold, not merely for
parade, but to render the soldiers more resolute to save them in battle,
and fearful of losing them. He loved his troops to such a degree, that
when he heard of the defeat of those under Titurius, he neither cut his
hair nor shaved his beard, until he had revenged it upon the enemy; by
which means he engaged their devoted affection, and raised their valour
to the highest pitch.

LXVIII. Upon his entering on the civil war, the centurions of every
legion offered, each of them, to maintain a horseman at his own expense,
and the whole army agreed to serve gratis, without either corn or pay;
those amongst them who were rich, charging themselves with the
maintenance of the poor. No one of them, during the whole course of the
war, deserted to the enemy; and many of those who were made prisoners,
though they were offered their lives, upon condition of bearing arms
against him, refused to accept the terms. They endured want, and other
hardships, not only (42) when they were besieged themselves, but when
they besieged others, to such a degree, that Pompey, when blocked up in
the neighbourhood of Dyrrachium, upon seeing a sort of bread made of an
herb, which they lived upon, said, “I have to do with wild beasts,” and
ordered it immediately to be taken away; because, if his troops should
see it, their spirit might be broken by perceiving the endurance and
determined resolution of the enemy. With what bravery they fought, one
instance affords sufficient proof; which is, that after an unsuccessful
engagement at Dyrrachium, they called for punishment; insomuch that their
general found it more necessary to comfort than to punish them. In other
battles, in different quarters, they defeated with ease immense armies of
the enemy, although they were much inferior to them in number. In short,
one cohort of the sixth legion held out a fort against four legions
belonging to Pompey, during several hours; being almost every one of them
wounded by the vast number of arrows discharged against them, and of
which there were found within the ramparts a hundred and thirty thousand.
This is no way surprising, when we consider the conduct of some
individuals amongst them; such as that of Cassius Scaeva, a centurion, or
Caius Acilius, a common soldier, not to speak of others. Scaeva, after
having an eye struck out, being run through the thigh and the shoulder,
and having his shield pierced in an hundred and twenty places, maintained
obstinately the guard of the gate of a fort, with the command of which he
was intrusted. Acilius, in the sea-fight at Marseilles, having seized a
ship of the enemy’s with his right hand, and that being cut off, in
imitation of that memorable instance of resolution in Cynaegirus amongst
the Greeks, boarded the enemy’s ship, bearing down all before him with
the boss of his shield.

LXIX. They never once mutinied during all the ten years of the Gallic
war, but were sometimes refractory in the course of the civil war.
However, they always returned quickly to their duty, and that not through
the indulgence, but in submission to the authority, of their general; for
he never yielded to them when they were insubordinate, but constantly
resisted their demands. He disbanded the whole ninth legion with
ignominy at Placentia, although Pompey was still in arms, and would (43)
not receive them again into his service, until they had not only made
repeated and humble entreaties, but until the ringleaders in the mutiny
were punished.

LXX. When the soldiers of the tenth legion at Rome demanded their
discharge and rewards for their service, with violent threats and no
small danger to the city, although the war was then raging in Africa, he
did not hesitate, contrary to the advice of his friends, to meet the
legion, and disband it. But addressing them by the title of “Quirites,”
instead of “Soldiers,” he by this single word so thoroughly brought them
round and changed their determination, that they immediately cried out,
they were his “soldiers,” and followed him to Africa, although he had
refused their service. He nevertheless punished the most mutinous among
them, with the loss of a third of their share in the plunder, and the
land destined for them.

LXXI. In the service of his clients, while yet a young man, he evinced
great zeal and fidelity. He defended the cause of a noble youth,
Masintha, against king Hiempsal, so strenuously, that in a scuffle which
took place upon the occasion, he seized by the beard the son of king
Juba; and upon Masintha’s being declared tributary to Hiempsal, while the
friends of the adverse party were violently carrying him off, he
immediately rescued him by force, kept him concealed in his house a long
time, and when, at the expiration of his praetorship, he went to Spain,
he took him away in his litter, in the midst of his lictors bearing the
fasces, and others who had come to attend and take leave of him.

LXXII. He always treated his friends with such kindness and good-nature,
that when Caius Oppius, in travelling with him through a forest, was
suddenly taken ill, he resigned to him the only place there was to
shelter them at night, and lay upon the ground in the open air. When he
had placed himself at the head of affairs, he advanced some of his
faithful adherents, though of mean extraction, to the highest offices;
and when he was censured for this partiality, he openly said, “Had I been
assisted by robbers and cut-throats in the defence of my honour, I should
have made them the same recompense.”

(44) LXXIII. The resentment he entertained against any one was never so
implacable that he did not very willingly renounce it when opportunity
offered. Although Caius Memmius had published some extremely virulent
speeches against him, and he had answered him with equal acrimony, yet he
afterwards assisted him with his vote and interest, when he stood
candidate for the consulship. When C. Calvus, after publishing some
scandalous epigrams upon him, endeavoured to effect a reconciliation by
the intercession of friends, he wrote to him, of his own accord, the
first letter. And when Valerius Catullus, who had, as he himself
observed, fixed such a stain upon his character in his verses upon
Mamurra as never could be obliterated, he begged his pardon, invited him
to supper the same day; and continued to take up his lodging with his
father occasionally, as he had been accustomed to do.

LXXIV. His temper was also naturally averse to severity in retaliation.
After he had captured the pirates, by whom he had been taken, having
sworn that he would crucify them, he did so indeed; but he first ordered
their throats to be cut [84]. He could never bear the thought of doing
any harm to Cornelius Phagitas, who had dogged him in the night when he
was sick and a fugitive, with the design of carrying him to Sylla, and
from whose hands he had escaped with some difficulty by giving him a
bribe. Philemon, his amanuensis, who had promised his enemies to poison
him, he put to death without torture. When he was summoned as a witness
against Publicus Clodius, his wife Pompeia’s gallant, who was prosecuted
for the profanation of religious ceremonies, he declared he knew nothing
of the affair, although his mother Aurelia, and his sister Julia, gave
the court an exact and full account of the circumstances. And being
asked why then he had divorced his wife? “Because,” he said, “my family
should not only be free from guilt, but even from the suspicion of it.”

LXXV. Both in his administration and his conduct towards the vanquished
party in the civil war, he showed a wonderful moderation and clemency.
For while Pompey declared that he would consider those as enemies who did
not take arms in defence of the republic, he desired it to be understood,
that he (45) should regard those who remained neuter as his friends.
With regard to all those to whom he had, on Pompey’s recommendation,
given any command in the army, he left them at perfect liberty to go over
to him, if they pleased. When some proposals were made at Ileria [85] for a surrender, which gave rise to a free communication between the two
camps, and Afranius and Petreius, upon a sudden change of resolution, had
put to the sword all Caesar’s men who were found in the camp, he scorned
to imitate the base treachery which they had practised against himself.
On the field of Pharsalia, he called out to the soldiers “to spare their
fellow-citizens,” and afterwards gave permission to every man in his army
to save an enemy. None of them, so far as appears, lost their lives but
in battle, excepting only Afranius, Faustus, and young Lucius Caesar; and
it is thought that even they were put to death without his consent.
Afranius and Faustus had borne arms against him, after obtaining their
pardon; and Lucius Caesar had not only in the most cruel manner destroyed
with fire and sword his freed-men and slaves, but cut to pieces the wild
beasts which he had prepared for the entertainment of the people. And
finally, a little before his death, he permitted all whom he had not
before pardoned, to return into Italy, and to bear offices both civil and
military. He even replaced the statues of Sylla and Pompey, which had
been thrown down by the populace. And after this, whatever was devised
or uttered, he chose rather to check than to punish it. Accordingly,
having detected certain conspiracies and nocturnal assemblies, he went no
farther than to intimate by a proclamation that he knew of them; and as
to those who indulged themselves in the liberty of reflecting severely
upon him, he only warned them in a public speech not to persist in their
offence. He bore with great moderation a virulent libel written against
him by Aulus Caecinna, and the abusive lampoons of Pitholaus, most highly
reflecting on his reputation.

LXXVI. His other words and actions, however, so far outweigh all his
good qualities, that it is thought he abused his power, and was justly
cut off. For he not only obtained excessive honours, such as the
consulship every year, the dictatorship for life, and the censorship, but
also the title of emperor [86], (46) and the surname of FATHER OF HIS
COUNTRY [87], besides having his statue amongst the kings [88], and a
lofty couch in the theatre. He even suffered some honours to be decreed
to him, which were unbefitting the most exalted of mankind; such as a
gilded chair of state in the senate-house and on his tribunal, a
consecrated chariot, and banners in the Circensian procession, temples,
altars, statues among the gods, a bed of state in the temples, a priest,
and a college of priests dedicated to himself, like those of Pan; and
that one of the months should be called by his name. There were, indeed,
no honours which he did not either assume himself, or grant to others, at
his will and pleasure. In his third and fourth consulship, he used only
the title of the office, being content with the power of dictator, which
was conferred upon him with the consulship; and in both years he
substituted other consuls in his room, during the three last months; so
that in the intervals he held no assemblies of the people, for the
election of magistrates, excepting only tribunes and ediles of the
people; and appointed officers, under the name of praefects, instead of
the praetors, to administer the affairs of the city during his absence.
The office of consul having become vacant, by the sudden death of one of
the consuls the day before the calends of January [the 1st Jan.], he
conferred it on a person who requested it of him, for a few hours.
Assuming the same licence, and regardless of the customs of his country,
he appointed magistrates to hold their offices for terms of years. He
granted the insignia of the consular dignity to ten persons of pretorian
rank. He admitted into the senate some men who had been made free of the
city, and even natives of Gaul, who were semi-barbarians. (47) He
likewise appointed to the management of the mint, and the public revenue
of the state, some servants of his own household; and entrusted the
command of three legions, which he left at Alexandria, to an old catamite
of his, the son of his freed-man Rufinus.

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