Caesar: A Sketch
James Anthony Froude

Part 4 out of 8

the religious there was a similar anticipation of the mediaeval Catholic
Church. The Druids were not a special family, like the Levites, or in any
way born into the priesthood. They were an order composed of persons
selected, when young, out of the higher ranks of the community, either for
speciality of intellect, or from disposition, or by the will of their
parents, or from a desire to avoid military service, from which the Druids
were exempt. There were no tribal distinctions among them. Their head-
quarters were in Britain, to which those who aspired to initiation in the
more profound mysteries repaired for instruction; but they were spread
universally over Gaul and the British Islands. They were the ministers of
public worship, the depositaries of knowledge, and the guardians of public
morality. Young men repaired to the Druids for education. They taught
theology; they taught the movements of the stars. They presided in the
civil courts and determined questions of disputed inheritance. They heard
criminal cases and delivered judgment; and, as with the Church, their
heaviest and most dreaded punishment was excommunication. The
excommunicated person lost his civil rights. He became an outlaw from
society, and he was excluded from participation in the sacrifices. In the
religious services the victims most acceptable to the gods were human
beings--criminals, if such could be had; if not, then innocent persons,
who were burnt to death in huge towers of wicker. In the Quemadero at
Seville, as in our own Smithfield, the prisoners of the Church were
fastened to stakes, and the sticks with which they were consumed were tied
into fagots, instead of being plaited into basket-work. So slight a
difference does not materially affect the likeness.

The tribal chieftainship and the religious organization of the Druids were
both of them inherited from antiquity. They were institutions descending
from the time when the Gauls had been a great people; but both had
outlived the age to which they were adapted, and one at least was
approaching its end. To Caesar's eye, coming new upon them, the Druids
were an established fact, presenting no sign of decay; but in Gaul,
infected with Roman manners, they existed merely by habit, exercising no
influence any longer over the hearts of the people. In the great struggle
which was approaching we find no Druids among the national leaders, no
spirit of religion inspiring and consecrating the efforts of patriotism.
So far as can be seen, the Druids were on the Roman side, or the Romans
had the skill to conciliate them. In half a century they were suppressed
by Augustus, and they and their excommunications, and their flaming
wicker-works, had to be sought for in distant Britain or in the still more
distant Ireland. The active and secular leadership could not disappear so
easily. Leaders of some kind were still required and inevitably found, but
the method of selection in the times which had arrived was silently
changing. While the Gallic nation retained, or desired to retain, a kind
of unity, some one of the many tribes had always been allowed a hegemony.
The first place had rested generally with the aedui, a considerable people
who occupied the central parts of France, between the Upper Loire and the
Saone. The Romans, anxious naturally to extend their influence in the
country without direct interference, had taken the aedui under their
protectorate. The aedui again had their clients in the inferior tribes;
and a Romano-aeduan authority of a shadowy kind had thus penetrated
through the whole nation.

But the aeduans had rivals and competitors in the Sequani, another
powerful body in Burgundy and Franche-Comte. If the Romans feared, the
Gauls, the Gauls in turn feared the Romans; and a national party had
formed itself everywhere, especially among the younger men, who were proud
of their independence, impatient of foreign control, and determined to
maintain the liberties which had descended to them. To these the Sequani
offered themselves as champions. Among the aedui too there were fiery
spirits who cherished the old traditions, and saw in the Roman alliance a
prelude to annexation. And thus it was that when Caesar was appointed to
Gaul, in every tribe and every sub-tribe, in every village and every
family, there were two factions,[2] each under its own captain, each
struggling for supremacy, each conspiring and fighting among themselves,
and each seeking or leaning upon external support. In many, if not in all,
of the tribes there was a senate, or counsel of elders, and these appear
almost everywhere to have been aeduan and Roman in their sympathies. The
Sequani, as the representatives of nationalism, knowing that they could
not stand alone, had looked for friends elsewhere.

The Germans had long turned covetous eyes upon the rich cornfields and
pastures from which the Rhine divided them. The Cimbri and Teutons had
been but the vanguard of a multitude who were eager to follow. The fate of
these invaders had checked the impulse for half a century, but the lesson
was now forgotten. Ariovistus, a Bavarian prince, who spoke Gaelic like a
native, and had probably long meditated conquest, came over into Franche-
Comte at the invitation of the Sequani, bringing his people with him. The
few thousand families which were first introduced had been followed by
fresh detachments; they had attacked and beaten the aedui, out of whose
territories they intended to carve a settlement for themselves. They had
taken hostages from them, and had broken down their authority, and the
faction of the Sequani was now everywhere in the ascendant. The aedui,
three years before Caesar came, had appealed to Rome for assistance, and
the Senate had promised that the Governor of Gaul should support them. The
Romans, hoping to temporize with the danger, had endeavored to conciliate
Ariovistus, and in the year of Caesar's consulship had declared him a
friend of the Roman people. Ariovistus, in turn, had pressed the aedui
still harder, and had forced them to renounce the Roman alliance. Among
the aedui, and throughout the country, the patriots were in the ascendant,
and Ariovistus and his Germans were welcomed as friends and deliverers.
Thoughtful persons in Rome had heard of these doings with uneasiness; an
old aeduan chief had gone in person thither, to awaken the Senate to the
growing peril; but the Senate had been too much occupied with its fears of
Caesar, and agrarian laws, and dangers to the fish-ponds, to attend; and
now another great movement had begun, equally alarming and still closer to
the Roman border.

The Helvetii were old enemies. They were a branch of the Celtic race, who
occupied modern Switzerland, hardy, bold mountaineers, and seasoned in
constant war with their German neighbors. On them, too, the tide of
migration from the north had pressed continuously. They had hitherto
defended themselves successfully, but they were growing weary of these
constant efforts. Their numbers were increasing, and their narrow valleys
were too strait for them. They also had heard of fertile, scantily peopled
lands in other parts, of which they could possess themselves by force or
treaty, and they had already shown signs of restlessness. Many thousands
of them had broken out at the time of the Cimbrian invasion. They had
defeated Cassius Longinus, who was then consul, near their own border, and
had annihilated his army. They had carried fire and sword down the left
bank of the Rhone. They had united themselves with the Teutons, and had
intended to accompany them into Italy. Their first enterprise failed. They
perished in the great battle at Aix, and the parent tribe had remained
quiet for forty years till a new generation had grown to manhood. Once
more their ambition had revived. Like the Germans, they had formed
friendships among the Gallic factions. Their reputation as warriors made
them welcome to the patriots. In a fight for independence they would form
a valuable addition to the forces of their countrymen. They had allies
among the Sequani; they had allies in the anti-Roman party which had risen
among the Aedui; and a plan had been formed in concert with their friends
for a migration to the shores of the Bay of Biscay between the mouths of
the Garonne and the Loire. The Cimbri and Teutons had passed away, but the
ease with which the Cimbri had made the circuit of these districts had
shown how slight resistance could be expected from the inhabitants.
Perhaps their coming had been anticipated and prepared for. The older men
among the Helvetii had discouraged the project when it was first mooted,
but they had yielded to eagerness and enthusiasm, and it had taken at last
a practical form. Double harvests had been raised; provision had been made
of food and transport for a long march; and a complete exodus of the
entire tribe with their wives and families had been finally resolved on.

If the Helvetii deserted Switzerland, the cantons would be immediately
occupied by Germans, and a road would be opened into the province for the
enemy whom the Romans had most reason to dread. The distinction between
Germans and Gauls was not accurately known at Rome. They were confounded
under the common name of Celts[3] or Barbarians. But they formed
together an ominous cloud charged with forces of uncertain magnitude, but
of the reality of which Italy had already terrible experience. Divitiacus,
chief of the Aedui, who had carried to Rome the news of the inroads of
Ariovistus, brought again in person thither the account of this fresh
peril. Every large movement of population suggested the possibility of a
fresh rush across the Alps. Little energy was to be expected from the
Senate. But the body of the citizens were still sound at heart. Their
lives and properties were at stake, and they could feel for the dignity of
the Empire. The people had sent Pompey to crush the pirates and conquer
Mithridates. The people now looked to Caesar, and instead of the "woods
and forests" which the Senate designed for him, they had given him a five
years' command on their western frontier.

The details of the problem before him Caesar had yet to learn, but with
its general nature he must have intimately acquainted himself. Of course
he had seen and spoken with Divitiacus. He was consul when Ariovistus was
made "a friend of the Roman people." He must have been aware, therefore,
of the introduction of the Germans over the Rhine. He could not tell what
he might have first to do. There were other unpleasant symptoms on the
side of Illyria and the Danube. From either quarter the storm might break
upon him. No Roman general was ever sent upon an enterprise so fraught
with complicated possibilities, and few with less experience of the
realities of war.

The points in his favor were these. He was the ablest Roman then living,
and he had the power of attracting and attaching the ablest men to his
service. He had five years in which to look about him and to act at
leisure--as much time as had been given to Pompey for the East. Like
Pompey, too, he was left perfectly free. No senatorial officials could
encumber him with orders from home. The people had given him his command,
and to the people alone he was responsible. Lastly, and beyond everything,
he could rely with certainty on the material with which he had to work.
The Roman legionaries were no longer yeomen taken from the plough or
shopkeepers from the street. They were men more completely trained in
every variety of accomplishment than have perhaps ever followed a general
into the field before or since. It was not enough that they could use
sword and lance. The campaign on which Caesar was about to enter was
fought with spade and pick and axe and hatchet. Corps of engineers he may
have had; but if the engineers designed the work, the execution lay with
the army. No limited department would have been equal to the tasks which
every day demanded. On each evening after a march, a fortified camp was to
be formed, with mound and trench, capable of resisting surprises, and
demanding the labor of every single hand. Bridges had to be thrown over
rivers. Ships and barges had to be built or repaired, capable of service
against an enemy, on a scale equal to the requirements of an army, and in
a haste which permitted no delay. A transport service there must have been
organized to perfection; but there were no stores sent from Italy to
supply the daily waste of material. The men had to mend and perhaps make
their own clothes and shoes, and repair their own arms. Skill in the use
of tools was not enough without the tools themselves. Had the spades and
mattocks been supplied by contract, had the axes been of soft iron, fair
to the eye and failing to the stroke, not a man in Caesar's army would
have returned to Rome to tell the tale of its destruction. How the
legionaries acquired these various arts, whether the Italian peasantry
were generally educated in such occupations, or whether on this occasion
there was a special selection of the best, of this we have no information.
Certain only it was that men and instruments were as excellent in their
kind as honesty and skill could make them; and, however degenerate the
patricians and corrupt the legislature, there was sound stuff somewhere in
the Roman constitution. No exertion, no forethought on the part of a
commander could have extemporized such a variety of qualities. Universal
practical accomplishments must have formed part of the training of the
free Roman citizens. Admirable workmanship was still to be had in each
department of manufacture, and every article with which Caesar was
provided must have been the best of its kind.

The first quarter of the year 58 was consumed in preparations. Caesar's
antagonists in the Senate were still raving against the acts of his
consulship, threatening him with impeachment for neglecting Bibulus's
interpellations, charging him with impiety for disregarding the weather,
and clamoring for the suppression of his command. But Cicero's banishment
damped the ardor of these gentlemen; after a few vicious efforts, they
subsided into sullenness, and trusted to Ariovistus or the Helvetii to
relieve them of their detested enemy. Caesar himself selected his
officers. Cicero having declined to go as his lieutenant, he had chosen
Labienus, who had acted with him, when tribune, in the prosecution of
Rabirius, and had procured him the pontificate by giving the election to
the people. Young men of rank in large numbers had forgotten party
feeling, and had attached themselves to the expedition as volunteers to
learn military experience. His own equipments were of the simplest. No
common soldier was more careless of hardships than Caesar. His chief
luxury was a favorite horse, which would allow no one but Caesar to mount
him; a horse which had been bred in his own stables, and, from the
peculiarity of a divided hoof, had led the augurs to foretell wonders for
the rider of it. His arrangements were barely completed when news came in
the middle of March that the Helvetii were burning their towns and
villages, gathering their families into their wagons, and were upon the
point of commencing their emigration. Their numbers, according to a
register which was found afterward, were 368,000, of whom 92,000 were
fighting men. They were bound for the West; and there were two roads, by
one or other of which alone they could leave their country. One was on the
right bank of the Rhone by the Pas de l'Ecluse, a pass between the Jura
mountains and the river, so narrow that but two carts could go abreast
along it; the other, and easier, was through Savoy, which was now Roman.

Under any aspect the transit of so vast a body through Roman territory
could not but be dangerous. Savoy was the very ground on which Longinus
had been destroyed. Yet it was in this direction that the Helvetii were
preparing to pass, and would pass unless they were prevented; while in the
whole Transalpine province there was but a single legion to oppose them.
Caesar started on the instant. He reached Marseilles in a few days, joined
his legion, collected a few levies in the Province, and hurried to Geneva.
Where the river leaves the lake there was a bridge which the Helvetii had
neglected to occupy. Caesar broke it, and thus secured a breathing time.
The Helvetii, who were already on the move and were assembling in force a
few miles off, sent to demand a passage. If it was refused, there was more
than one spot between the lake and the Pas de l'Ecluse where the river
could be forded. The Roman force was small, and Caesar postponed his

It was the 1st of April; he promised an answer on the 15th. In the
interval he threw up forts, dug trenches, and raised walls at every point
where a passage could be attempted; and when the time was expired, he
declined to permit them to enter the Province. They tried to ford; they
tried boats; but at every point they were driven back. It remained for
them to go by the Pas de l'Ecluse. For this route they required the
consent of the Sequani; and, however willing the Sequani might be to see
them in their neighbors' territories, they might object to the presence in
their own of such a flight of devouring locusts. Evidently, however, there
was some general scheme, of which the entry of the Helvetii into Gaul was
the essential part; and through the mediation of Dumnorix, an Aeduan and
an ardent patriot, the Sequani were induced to agree.

The Province had been saved, but the exodus of the enormous multitude
could no longer be prevented. If such waves of population were allowed to
wander at pleasure, it was inevitable that sooner or later they would
overflow the borders of the Empire. Caesar determined to show, at once and
peremptorily, that these movements would not be permitted without the
Romans' consent. Leaving Labienus to guard the forts on the Rhone, he
hurried back to Italy, gathered up his three legions at Aquileia, raised
two more at Turin with extreme rapidity, and returned with them by the
shortest route over the Mont Genevre. The mountain tribes attacked him,
but could not even delay his march. In seven days he had surmounted the
passes, and was again with Labienus.

The Helvetii, meanwhile, had gone through the Pas de l'Ecluse, and were
now among the Aedui, laying waste the country. It was early in the summer.
The corn was green, the hay was still uncut, and the crops were being
eaten off the ground. The Aedui threw themselves on the promised
protection of Rome. Caesar crossed the Rhone above Lyons, and came up with
the marauding hosts as they were leisurely passing in boats over the
Saone. They had been twenty days upon the river, transporting their wagons
and their families. Three quarters of them were on the other side. The
Tigurini from Zurich, the most warlike of their tribes, were still on the
left bank. The Tigurini had destroyed the army of Longinus, and on them
the first retribution fell. Caesar cut them to pieces. A single day
sufficed to throw a bridge over the Saone, and the Helvetii, who had
looked for nothing less than to be pursued by six Roman legions, begged
for peace. They were willing, they said, to go to any part of the country
which Caesar would assign to them; and they reminded him that they might
be dangerous if pushed to extremities. Caesar knew that they were
dangerous. He had followed them because he knew it. He said that they must
return the way that they had come. They must pay for the injuries which
they had inflicted on the Aedui, and they must give him hostages for their
obedience. The fierce mountaineers replied that they had been more used to
demand hostages than to give them; and confident in their numbers, and in
their secret allies among the Gauls, they marched on through the Aeduan
territories up the level banks of the Saone, thence striking west toward

Caesar had no cavalry; but every Gaul could ride, and he raised a few
thousand horse among his supposed allies. These he meant to employ to
harass the Helvetian march; but they were secret traitors, under the
influence of Dumnorix, and they fled at the first encounter. The Helvetii
had thus the country at their mercy, and they laid it waste as they went,
a day's march in advance of the Romans. So long as they kept by the river,
Caesar's stores accompanied him in barges. He did not choose to let the
Helvetii out of his sight, and when they left the Saone, and when he was
obliged to follow, his provisions ran short. He applied to the Aeduan
chiefs, who promised to furnish him, but they failed to do it. Ten days
passed, and no supplies came in. He ascertained at last that there was
treachery. Dumnorix and other Aeduan leaders were in correspondence with
the enemy. The cavalry defeat and the other failures were thus explained.
Caesar, who trusted much to gentleness and to personal influence, was
unwilling to add the Aeduii to his open enemies. Dumnorix was the brother
of Divitiacus, the reigning chief, whom Caesar had known in Rome.
Divitiacus was sent for, confessed with tears his brother's misdeeds, and
begged that he might be forgiven. Dumnorix was brought in. Caesar showed
that he was aware of his conduct; but spoke kindly to him, and cautioned
him for the future. The corn-carts, however, did not appear; supplies
could not be dispensed with; and the Romans, leaving the Helvetii, struck
off to Bibracte, on Mont Beauvray, the principal Aeduan town in the
highlands of Nivernais. Unfortunately for themselves, the Helvetii thought
the Romans were flying, and became in turn the pursuers. They gave Caesar
an opportunity, and a single battle ended them and their migrations. The
engagement lasted from noon till night. The Helvetii fought gallantly, and
in numbers were enormously superior; but the contest was between skill and
courage, sturdy discipline and wild valor; and it concluded as such
contests always must. In these hand-to-hand engagements there were no
wounded. Half the fighting men of the Swiss were killed; their camp was
stormed; the survivors, with the remnant of the women and children, or
such of them as were capable of moving (for thousands had perished, and
little more than a third remained of those who had left Switzerland),
straggled on to Langres, where they surrendered. Caesar treated the poor
creatures with kindness and care. A few were settled in Gaul, where they
afterward did valuable service. The rest were sent back to their own
cantons, lest the Germans should take possession of their lands; and lest
they should starve in the homes which they had desolated before their
departure, they were provided with food out of the Province till their
next crops were grown.

A victory so complete and so unexpected astonished the whole country. The
peace party recovered the ascendency. Envoys came from all the Gaulish
tribes to congratulate, and a diet of chiefs was held under Caesar's
presidency, where Gaul and Roman seemed to promise one another eternal
friendship. As yet, however, half the mischief only had been dealt with,
and that the lighter part. The Helvetii were disposed of, but the Germans
remained; and till Ariovistus was back across the Rhone, no permanent
peace was possible. Hitherto Caesar had only received vague information
about Ariovistus. When the diet was over, such of the chiefs as were
sincere in their professions came to him privately and explained what the
Germans were about. A hundred and twenty thousand of them were now settled
near Belfort, and between the Vosges and the Rhine, with the connivance of
the Sequani. More were coming, and in a short time Gaul would be full of
them. They had made war on the Aedui; they were in correspondence with the
anti-Roman factions; their object was the permanent occupation of the

Two months still remained of summer. Caesar was now conveniently near to
the German positions. His army was in high spirits from its victory, and
he himself was prompt in forming resolutions and swift in executing them.
An injury to the Aedui could be treated as an injury to the Romans, which
it would be dishonor to pass over. If the Germans were allowed to overrun
Gaul, they might soon be seen again in Italy.

Ariovistus was a "friend of Rome." Caesar had been himself a party to the
conferring this distinction upon him. As a friend, therefore, he was in
the first instance to be approached. Caesar sent to invite him to a
conference. Ariovistus, it seemed, set small value upon his honors. He
replied that if he needed anything from Caesar, he would go to Caesar and
ask for it. If Caesar required anything from him, Caesar might do the
same. Meanwhile Caesar was approaching a part of Gaul which belonged to
himself by right of conquest, and he wished to know the meaning of the
presence of a Roman army there.

After such an answer, politeness ceased to be necessary. Caesar rejoined
that since Ariovistus estimated so lightly his friendship with the Romans
as to refuse an amicable meeting, he would inform him briefly of his
demands upon him. The influx of Germans on the Rhine must cease: no more
must come in. He must restore the hostages which he had taken from the
Aedui, and do them no further hurt. If Ariovistus complied, the Romans
would continue on good terms with him. If not, he said that by a decree of
the Senate the Governor of Gaul was ordered to protect the Aedui, and he
intended to do it.

Ariovistus answered that he had not interfered with the Romans; and the
Romans had no right to interfere with him. Conquerors treated their
subjects as they pleased. The Aedui had begun the quarrel with him. They
had been defeated, and were now his vassals. If Caesar chose to come
between him and his subjects, he would have an opportunity of seeing how
Germans could fight who had not for fourteen years slept under a roof.

It was reported that a large body of Suevi were coming over the Rhine to
swell Ariovistus's force, and that Ariovistus was on the point of
advancing to seize Besancon. Besancon was a position naturally strong,
being surrounded on three sides by the Doubs. It was full of military
stores, and was otherwise important for the control of the Sequani. Caesar
advanced swiftly and took possession of the place, and announced that he
meant to go and look for Ariovistus.

The army so far had gained brilliant successes, but the men were not yet
fully acquainted with the nature of their commander. They had never yet
looked Germans in the face, and imagination magnifies the unknown. Roman
merchants and the Gauls of the neighborhood brought stories of the
gigantic size and strength of these northern warriors. The glare of their
eyes was reported to be so fierce that it could not be borne. They were
wild, wonderful, and dreadful. Young officers, patricians and knights, who
had followed Caesar for a little mild experience, began to dislike the
notion of these new enemies. Some applied for leave of absence; others,
though ashamed to ask to be allowed to leave the army, cowered in their
tents with sinking hearts, made their wills, and composed last messages
for their friends. The centurions caught the alarm from their superiors,
and the legionaries from the centurions. To conceal their fear of the
Germans, the men discovered that, if they advanced farther, it would be
through regions where provisions could not follow them, and that they
would be starved in the forests. At length, Caesar was informed that if he
gave the order to march, the army would refuse to move.

Confident in himself, Caesar had the power, so indispensable for a
soldier, of inspiring confidence in others as soon as they came to know
what he was. He called his officers together. He summoned the centurions,
and rebuked them sharply for questioning his purposes. The German king, he
said, had been received at his own request into alliance with the Romans,
and there was no reason to suppose that he meant to break with them. Most
likely he would do what was required of him. If not, was it to be
conceived that they were afraid? Marius had beaten these same Germans.
Even the Swiss had beaten them. They were no more formidable than other
barbarians. They might trust their commander for the commissariat. The
harvest was ripe, and the difficulties were nothing. As to the refusal to
march, he did not believe in it. Romans never mutinied, save through the
rapacity or incompetence of their general. His life was a witness that he
was not rapacious, and his victory over the Helvetii that as yet he had
made no mistake. He should order the advance on the next evening, and it
would then be seen whether sense of duty or cowardice was the stronger. If
others declined, Caesar said that he should go forward alone with the
legion which he knew would follow him, the 10th, which was already his

The speech was received with enthusiasm. The 10th thanked Caesar for his
compliment to them. The rest, officers and men, declared their willingness
to follow wherever he might lead them. He started with Divitiacus for a
guide; and, passing Belfort, came in seven days to Cernay or to some point
near it. Ariovistus was now but four-and-twenty miles from him. Since
Caesar had come so far, Ariovistus said that he was willing to meet him.
Day and place were named, the conditions being that the armies should
remain in their ranks, and that Caesar and he might each bring a guard of
horse to the interview. He expected that Caesar would be contented with an
escort of the Aeduan cavalry. Caesar, knowing better than to trust himself
with Gauls, mounted his 10th legion, and with them proceeded to the spot
which Ariovistus had chosen. It was a tumulus, in the centre of a large
plain equidistant from the two camps. The guard on either side remained
two hundred paces in the rear. The German prince and the Roman general met
on horseback at the mound, each accompanied by ten of his followers.
Caesar spoke first and fairly. He reminded Ariovistus of his obligations
to the Romans. The Aedui, he said, had from immemorial time been the
leading tribe in Gaul. The Romans had an alliance with them of old
standing, and never deserted their friends. He required Ariovistas to
desist from attacking them, and to return their hostages. He consented
that the Germans already across the Rhine might remain in Gaul, but he
demanded a promise that no more should be brought over.

Ariovistus haughtily answered that he was a great king; that he had come
into Gaul by the invitation of the Gauls themselves; that the territory
which he occupied was a gift from them; and that the hostages of which
Caesar spoke had remained with him with their free consent. The Aedui, he
said, had begun the war, and, being defeated, were made justly to pay
forfeit. He had sought the friendship of the Romans, expecting to profit
by it. If friendship meant the taking away his subjects from him, he
desired no more of such friendship. The Romans had their Province. It was
enough for them, and they might remain there unmolested. But Caesar's
presence so far beyond his own borders was a menace to his own
independence, and his independence he intended to maintain. Caesar must go
away out of those parts, or he and his Germans would know how to deal with

Then, speaking perhaps more privately, he told Caesar that he knew
something of Rome and of the Roman Senate, and had learnt how the great
people there stood affected toward the Governor of Gaul. Certain members
of the Roman aristocracy had sent him messages to say that if he killed
Caesar they would hold it a good service done,[4] and would
hold him their friend forever. He did not wish, he said, to bind himself
to these noble persons. He would prefer Caesar rather; and would fight
Caesar's battles for him anywhere in the world if Caesar would but retire
and leave him. Ariovistus was misled, not unnaturally, by these strange
communications from the sovereign rulers of the Empire. He did not know,
he could not know, that the genius of Rome and the true chief of Rome were
not in the treacherous Senate, but were before him there on the field in
the persons of Caesar and his legions.

More might have passed between them; but Ariovistus thought to end the
conference by a stroke of treachery. His German guard had stolen round to
where the Romans stood, and, supposing that they had Gauls to deal with,
were trying to surround and disarm them. The men of the 10th legion stood
firm; Caesar fell back and joined them, and, contenting themselves with
simply driving off the enemy, they rode back to the camp.

[Sidenote: B.C. 57.]
The army was now passionate for an engagement. Ariovistus affected a
desire for further communication, and two officers were despatched to hear
what he had to say; but they were immediately seized and put in chains,
and the Germans advanced to within a few miles of the Roman outposts. The
Romans lay entrenched near Cernay. The Germans were at Colmar. Caesar
offered battle, which Ariovistus declined. Cavalry fights happened daily
which led to nothing. Caesar then formed a second camp, smaller but
strongly fortified, within sight of the enemy, and threw two legions into
it. Ariovistus attacked them, but he was beaten back with loss. The "wise
women" advised him to try no more till the new moon. But Caesar would not
wait for the moon, and forced an engagement. The wives and daughters of
the Germans rushed about their camp, with streaming hair, adjuring their
countrymen to save them from slavery. The Germans fought like heroes; but
they could not stand against the short sword and hand-to-hand grapple of
the legionaries. Better arms and better discipline again asserted the
superiority; and in a few hours the invaders were flying wildly to the
Rhine. Young Publius Crassus, the son of the millionaire, pursued with
the cavalry. A few swam the river; a few, Ariovistus among them, escaped
in boats; all the rest, men and women alike, were cut down and killed. The
Suevi, who were already on the Rhine, preparing to cross, turned back into
their forests; and the two immediate perils which threatened the peace of
Gaul had been encountered and trampled out in a single summer. The first
campaign was thus ended. The legions were distributed in winter quarters
among the Sequani, the contrivers of the mischief; and Labienus was left
in charge of them. Caesar went back over the Alps to the Cisalpine
division of the Province to look into the administration and to
communicate with his friends in Rome.

In Gaul there was outward quiet; but the news of the Roman victories
penetrated the farthest tribes and agitated the most distant households on
the shores of the North Sea. The wintering of the legions beyond the
province was taken to indicate an intention of permanent conquest. The
Gauls proper were divided and overawed; but the Belgians of the north were
not prepared to part so easily with their liberty. The Belgians considered
that they too were menaced, and that now or never was the time to strike
for their independence. They had not been infected with Roman manners.
They had kept the merchants from their borders with their foreign
luxuries. The Nervii, the fiercest of them, as the abstemious Caesar marks
with approbation, were water-drinkers, and forbade wine to be brought
among them, as injurious to their sinews and their courage. Caesar learnt
while in Italy from Labienus that the Belgae were mustering and combining.
A second vast horde of Germans were in Flanders and Artois; men of the
same race with the Belgae and in active confederacy with them. They might
have been left in peace, far off as they were, had they sat still; but the
notes of their preparations were sounding through the country and feeding
the restless spirit which was stunned but not subdued.

Caesar, on his own responsibility, raised two more legions and sent them
across the Alps in the spring. When the grass began to grow he followed
himself. Suddenly, before any one looked for him, he was on the Marne with
his army. The Remi (people of Rheims), startled by his unexpected
appearance, sent envoys with their submission and offers of hostages. The
other Belgian tribes, they said, were determined upon war, and were
calling all their warriors under arms. Their united forces were reported
to amount to 300,000. The Bellovaci from the mouth of the Seine had sent
60,000; the Suessiones from Soissons 50,000; the Nervii, between the
Sambre and the Scheldt, 50,000; Arras and Amiens, 25,000; the coast
tribes, 36,000; and the tribes between the Ardennes and the Rhine, called
collectively Germani, 40,000 more. This irregular host was gathered in the
forests between Laon and Soissons.

Caesar did not wait for them to move. He advanced at once to Rheims, where
he called the Senate together and encouraged them to be constant to the
Roman alliance. He sent a party of Aedui down the Seine to harass the
territory of the Bellovaci and recall them to their own defence; and he
went on himself to the Aisne, which he crossed by a bridge already
existing at Berry-au-Bac. There, with the bridge and river at his back, he
formed an entrenched camp of extraordinary strength, with a wall 12 feet
high and a fosse 22 feet deep. Against an attack with modern artillery
such defences would, of course, be idle. As the art of war then stood,
they were impregnable. In this position Caesar waited, leaving six cohorts
on the left bank to guard the other end of the bridge. The Belgae came
forward and encamped in his front. Their watch-fires at night were seen
stretching along a line eight miles wide. Caesar, after feeling his way
with his cavalry, found a rounded ridge projecting like a promontory into
the plain where the Belgian host was lying. On this he advanced his
legions, protecting his flanks with continuous trenches and earthworks, on
which were placed heavy cross-bows, the ancient predecessors of cannon.
Between these lines, if he attacked the enemy and failed, he had a secure
retreat. A marsh lay between the armies; and each waited for the other to
cross. The Belgians, impatient of delay, flung themselves suddenly on one
side and began to pour across the river, intending to destroy the cohorts
on the other bank, to cut the bridge, and burn and plunder among the Remi.
Caesar calmly sent back his cavalry and his archers and slingers. They
caught the enemy in the water or struggling out of it in confusion; all
who had got over were killed; multitudes were slaughtered in the river;
others, trying to cross on the bodies of their comrades, were driven back.
The confederates, shattered at a single defeat, broke up like an exploded
shell. Their provisions had run short. They melted away and dispersed to
their homes, Labienus pursuing and cutting down all that he could

The Roman loss was insignificant in this battle. The most remarkable
feature in Caesar's campaigns, and that which indicates most clearly his
greatness as a commander, was the smallness of the number of men that he
ever lost, either by the sword or by wear and tear. No general was ever so
careful of his soldiers' lives.

Soissons, a fortified Belgian town, surrendered the next day. From
Soissons Caesar marched on Breteuil and thence on Amiens, which
surrendered also. The Bellovaci sent in their submission, the leaders of
the war party having fled to Britain. Caesar treated them all with
scrupulous forbearance, demanding nothing but hostages for their future
good behavior. His intention at this time was apparently not to annex any
of these tribes to Rome, but to settle the country in a quasi-independence
under an Aeduan hegemony.

But the strongest member of the confederacy was still unsubdued. The
hardy, brave, and water-drinking Nervii remained defiant. The Nervii would
send no envoys; they would listen to no terms of peace.[5] Caesar
learnt that they were expecting to be joined by the Aduatuci, a tribe of
pure Germans, who had been left behind near Liege at the time of the
invasion of the Teutons. Preferring to engage them separately, he marched
from Amiens through Cambray, and sent forward some officers and pioneers
to choose a spot for a camp on the Sambre. Certain Gauls, who had observed
his habits on march, deserted to the Nervii, and informed them that
usually a single legion went in advance, the baggage-wagons followed, and
the rest of the army came in the rear. By a sudden attack in front they
could overwhelm the advanced troops, plunder the carts, and escape before
they could be overtaken. It happened that on this occasion the order was
reversed. The country was enclosed with thick fences, which required to be
cut through. Six legions marched in front, clearing a road; the carts came
next, and two legions behind. The site selected by the officers was on the
left bank of the Sambre at Maubeuge, fifty miles above Namur. The ground
sloped easily down to the river, which was there about a yard in depth.
There was a corresponding rise on the other side, which was densely
covered with wood. In this wood the whole force of the Nervii lay
concealed, a few only showing themselves on the water side. Caesar's light
horse which had gone forward, seeing a mere handful of stragglers, rode
through the stream and skirmished with them; but the enemy retired under
cover; the horse did not pursue; the six legions came up, and, not
dreaming of the nearness of the enemy, laid aside their arms and went to
work intrenching with spade and mattock. The baggage-wagons began
presently to appear at the crest of the hill, the signal for which the
Nervii had waited; and in a moment all along the river sixty thousand of
them rushed out of the forest, sent the cavalry flying, and came on so
impetuously that, as Caesar said, they seemed to be in the wood, in the
water, and up the opposite bank at sword's point with the legions at the
same moment. The surprise was complete: the Roman army was in confusion.
Many of the soldiers were scattered at a distance, cutting turf. None were
in their ranks, and none were armed. Never in all his campaigns was Caesar
in greater danger. He could himself give no general orders which there was
time to observe. Two points only, he said, were in his favor. The men
themselves were intelligent and experienced, and knew what they had to do;
and the officers were all present, because he had directed that none of
them should leave their companies till the camp was completed. The troops
were spread loosely in their legions along the brow of the ridge. Caesar
joined the 10th on his right wing, and had but time to tell the men to be
cool and not to agitate themselves, when the enemy were upon them. So
sudden was the onslaught that they could neither put their helmets on, nor
strip the coverings from their shields, nor find their places in the
ranks. They fought where they stood among thick hedges which obstructed
the sight of what was passing elsewhere. Though the Aduatuci had not come
up, the Nervii had allies with them from Arras and the Somme. The allies
encountered the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th legions, and were driven rapidly
back down the hill through the river. The Romans, led by Labienus, crossed
in pursuit, followed them into the forest, and took their camp. The Nervii
meanwhile flung themselves with all their force on the two legions on the
left, the 12th and 7th, enveloped them with their numbers, penetrated
behind them, and fell upon the baggage-wagons. The light troops and the
camp-followers fled in all directions. The legionaries, crowded together
in confusion, were fighting at disadvantage, and were falling thick and
fast. A party of horse from Treves, who had come to treat with Caesar,
thought that all was lost, and rode off to tell their countrymen that the
Romans were destroyed.

Caesar, who was in the other wing, learning late what was going on,
hurried to the scene. He found the standards huddled together, the men
packed so close that they could not use their swords, almost all the
officers killed or wounded, and one of the best of them, Sextius Baculus
(Caesar always paused in his narrative to note any one who specially
distinguished himself), scarce able to stand. Caesar had come up unarmed.
He snatched a shield from a soldier, and, bareheaded, flew to the front.
He was known; he addressed the centurions by their names. He bade them
open their ranks and give the men room to strike. His presence and his
calmness gave them back their confidence. In the worst extremities he
observes that soldiers will fight well under their commander's eye. The
cohorts formed into order. The enemy was checked. The two legions from the
rear, who had learnt the danger from the flying camp-followers, came up.
Labienus, from the opposite hill, saw what had happened, and sent the 10th
legion back. All was now changed. The fugitives, ashamed of their
cowardice, rallied, and were eager to atone for it. The Nervii fought with
a courage which filled Caesar with admiration--men of greater spirit he
said that he had never seen. As their first ranks fell, they piled the
bodies of their comrades into heaps, and from the top of them hurled back
the Roman javelins. They would not fly; they dropped where they stood; and
the battle ended only with their extermination. Out of 600 senators there
survived but three; out of 60,000 men able to bear arms, only 500. The
aged of the tribe, and the women and children, who had been left in the
morasses for security, sent in their surrender, their warriors being all
dead. They professed to fear lest they might be destroyed by neighboring
clans who were on bad terms with them. Caesar received them and protected
them, and gave severe injunctions that they should suffer no injury.

By the victory over the Nervii the Belgian confederacy was almost
extinguished. The German Aduatuci remained only to be brought to
submission. They had been on their way to join their countrymen; they were
too late for the battle, and returned and shut themselves up in Namur, the
strongest position in the Low Countries. Caesar, after a short rest,
pushed on and came under their walls. The Aduatuci were a race of giants,
and were at first defiant. When they saw the Romans' siege-towers in
preparation, they could not believe that men so small could move such vast
machines. When the towers began to approach, they lost heart and sued for
terms. Caesar promised to spare their lives and properties if they
surrendered immediately, but he refused to grant conditions. They had
prayed to be allowed to keep their arms; affecting to believe, like the
Nervii, that they would be in danger from the Gauls if they were unable to
defend themselves. Caesar undertook that they should have no hurt, but he
insisted that their arms must be given up. They affected obedience. They
flung their swords and lances over the walls till the ditch was filled
with them. They opened their gates; the Romans occupied them, but were
forbidden to enter, that there might be no plundering. It seems that there
was a desperate faction among the Aduatuci who had been for fighting to
extremity. A third part of the arms had been secretly reserved, and after
midnight the tribe sallied with all their force, hoping to catch the
Romans sleeping. Caesar was not to be surprised a second time. Expecting
that some such attempt might be made, he had prepared piles of fagots in
convenient places. These bonfires were set blazing in an instant. By their
red light the legions formed; and, after a desperate but unequal combat,
the Germans were driven into the town again, leaving 4,000 dead. In the
morning the gates were broken down, and Namur was taken without more
resistance. Caesar's usual practice was gentleness. He honored brave men,
and never punished bold and open opposition. Of treachery he made a severe
example. Namur was condemned. The Aduatuci within its walls were sold into
slavery, and the contractors who followed the army returned the number of
prisoners whom they had purchased at 53,000. Such captives were the most
valuable form of spoil.

The Belgae were thus crushed as completely as the Gauls had been crushed
in the previous year. Publius Crassus had meanwhile made a circuit of
Brittany, and had received the surrender of the maritime tribes. So great
was the impression made by these two campaigns, that the Germans beyond
the Rhine sent envoys with offers of submission. The second season was
over. Caesar left the legions in quarters about Chartres, Orleans, and
Blois. He himself returned to Italy again, where his presence was
imperatively required. The Senate, on the news of his successes, had been
compelled, by public sentiment, to order an extraordinary thanksgiving;
but there were men who were anxious to prevent Caesar from achieving any
further victories since Ariovistus had failed to destroy him.

[1] Perhaps in consequence of the Catiline conspiracy.

[2] "In Gallia non solum in omnibus civitatibus atque in omnibus pagis
partibusque sed paene etiam in singulis domibus factiones sunt,
earumque factionum principes sunt qui summam auctoritatem eorum
judicio habere existimantur.... Haec est ratio in summa totius
Galliae, namque omnes civitates in partes divisae sunt duas. Cum
Caesar in Galliam venit, alterius factionis principes erant Haedui,
alterius Sequani."--_De Bello Gallico_, lib. vi. capp. 11, 12.

[3] Even Dion Cassius speaks of the Germans as _Keltoi_.

[4] "Id se ab ipsis per eorum nuntios compertum habere, quorum omnium
gratiam atque amicitiam ejus morte redimere posset."--_De Bell.
Gall_., i. 44.

[5] Caesar thus records his admiration of the Nervian character: "Quorum
de natura moribusque Caesar cum quaereret sic reperiebat, nullum
aditum esse ad eos mercatoribus; nihil pati vini reliquarumque rerum
ad luxuriam pertinentium inferri, quod iis rebus relanguescere animos
eorum et remitti virtutem existimarent: esse homines feros magnaeque
virtutis; increpitare atque incusare reliquos Belgas qui se populo
Romano dedidissent patriamque virtutem projecissent; confirmare sese
neque legatos missuros neque ullam conditionem pacis
accepturos."--_De Bell. Gall_., ii. 15.


[Sidenote B.C.58]
Before his own catastrophe, and before he could believe that he was in
danger, Cicero had discerned clearly the perils which threatened the
State. The Empire was growing more extensive. The "Tritons of the fish-
ponds" still held the reins; and believed their own supreme duty was to
divide the spoils among themselves. The pyramid was standing on its point.
The mass which rested on it was becoming more portentous and unwieldy. The
Senate was the official power; the armies were the real power; and the
imagination of the Senate was that after each conquest the soldiers would
be dismissed back into humble life unrewarded, while the noble lords took
possession of the new acquisitions, and added new millions to their
fortunes. All this Cicero knew, and yet he had persuaded himself that it
could continue without bringing on a catastrophe. He saw his fellow-
senators openly bribed; he saw the elections become a mere matter of
money. He saw adventurers pushing themselves into office by steeping
themselves in debt, and paying their debts by robbing the provincials. He
saw these high-born scoundrels coming home loaded with treasure, buying
lands and building palaces, and, when brought to trial, purchasing the
consciences of their judges. Yet he had considered such phenomena as the
temporary accidents of a constitution which was still the best that could
be conceived, and every one that doubted the excellence of it he had come
to regard as an enemy of mankind. So long as there was free speech in
Senate and platform for orators like himself, all would soon be well
again. Had not he, a mere country gentleman's son, risen under it to
wealth and consideration? and was not his own rise a sufficient evidence
that there was no real injustice? Party struggles were over, or had no
excuse for continuance. Sylla's constitution had been too narrowly
aristocratic. But Sylla's invidious laws had been softened by compromise.
The tribunes had recovered their old privileges. The highest offices of
State were open to the meanest citizen who was qualified for them.
Individuals of merit might have been kept back for a time by jealousy; the
Senate had too long objected to the promotion of Pompey; but their
opposition had been overcome by purely constitutional means. The great
general had obtained his command by land and sea; he, Cicero, having by
eloquent speech proved to the people that he ought to be nominated. What
could any one wish for more? And yet Senate and Forum were still filled
with faction, quarrel, and discontent! One interpretation only Cicero had
been able to place on such a phenomenon. In Rome, as in all great
communities, there were multitudes of dissolute, ruined wretches, the
natural enemies of property and order. Bankrupt members of the aristocracy
had lent themselves to these people as their leaders, and had been the
cause of all the trouble of the past years. If such renegades to their
order could be properly discouraged or extinguished, Cicero had thought
that there would be nothing more to desire. Catiline he had himself made
an end of to his own immortal glory, but now Catiline had revived in
Clodius; and Clodius, so far from being discouraged, was petted and
encouraged by responsible statesmen who ought to have known better. Caesar
had employed him; Crassus had employed him; even Pompey had stooped to
connect himself with the scandalous young incendiary, and had threatened
to call in the army if the Senate attempted to repeal Caesar's iniquitous
laws.[1] Still more inexplicable was the ingratitude of the aristocracy
and their friends, the "boni" or good--the "Conservatives of the State,"
[2] as Cicero still continued to call Caesar's opponents. He respected
them; he loved them; he had done more for their cause than any single man
in the Empire; and yet they had never recognized his services by word or
deed. He had felt tempted to throw up public life in disgust, and retire
to privacy and philosophy.

So Cicero had construed the situation before his exile, and he had
construed it ill. If he had wished to retire he could not. He had been
called to account for the part of his conduct for which he most admired
himself. The ungracious Senate, as guilty as he, if guilt there had been,
had left him to bear the blame of it, and he saw himself driven into
banishment by an insolent reprobate, a patrician turned Radical and
demagogue, Publius Clodius. Indignity could be carried no farther.

Clodius is the most extraordinary figure in this extraordinary period. He
had no character. He had no distinguished talent save for speech; he had
no policy; he was ready to adopt any cause or person which for the moment
was convenient to him; and yet for five years this man was the omnipotent
leader of the Roman mob. He could defy justice, insult the consuls, beat
the tribunes, parade the streets with a gang of armed slaves, killing
persons disagreeable to him; and in the Senate itself he had his high
friends and connections who threw a shield over him when his audacity had
gone beyond endurance. We know Clodius only from Cicero; and a picture of
him from a second hand might have made his position more intelligible, if
not more reputable. Even in Rome it is scarcely credible that the Clodius
of Cicero could have played such a part, or that the death of such a man
should have been regarded as a national calamity. Cicero says that Clodius
revived Catiline's faction; but what was Catiline's faction? or how came
Catiline to have a faction which survived him?

Be this as it may, Clodius had banished Cicero, and had driven him away
over the seas to Greece, there, for sixteen months, to weary Heaven and
his friends with his lamentations. Cicero had refused Caesar's offered
friendship; Caesar had not cared to leave so powerful a person free to
support the intended attacks on his legislation, and had permitted,
perhaps had encouraged, the prosecution. Cicero out of the way, the second
person whose presence in Rome Caesar thought might be inconvenient, Marcus
Cato, had been got rid of by a process still more ingenious. The
aristocracy pretended that the acts of Caesar's consulship had been
invalid through disregard of the interdictions of Bibulus; and one of
those acts had been the reduction of Clodius to the order of plebeians. If
none of them were valid, Clodius was not legally tribune, and no
commission which Clodius might confer through the people would have
validity. A service was discovered by which Cato was tempted, and which he
was induced to accept at Clodius's hands. Thus he was at once removed from
the city, and it was no longer open to him to deny that Caesar's laws had
been properly passed. The work on which he was sent deserves a few words.
The kingdom of Cyprus had long been attached to the crown of Egypt.
Ptolemy Alexander, dying in the year 80, had bequeathed both Egypt and
Cyprus to Rome; but the Senate had delayed to enter on their bequest,
preferring to share the fines which Ptolemy's natural heirs were required
to pay for being spared. One of these heirs, Ptolemy Auletes, or "the
Piper," father of the famous Cleopatra, was now reigning in Egypt, and was
on the point of being expelled by his subjects. He had been driven to
extortion to raise a subsidy for the senators, and he had made himself
universally abhorred. Ptolemy of Cyprus had been a better sovereign, but a
less prudent client. He had not overtaxed his people; he had kept his
money. Clodius, if Cicero's story is true, had a private grudge against
him. Clodius had fallen among Cyprian pirates. Ptolemy had not exerted
himself for his release, and he had suffered unmentionable indignities. At
all events, the unfortunate king was rich, and was unwilling to give what
was expected of him. Clodius, on the plea that the King of Cyprus
protected pirates, persuaded the Assembly to vote the annexation of the
island; and Cato, of all men, was prevailed on by the mocking tribune to
carry out the resolution. He was well pleased with his mission, though he
wished it to appear to be forced upon him. Ptolemy poisoned himself; Cato
earned the glory of adding a new province to the Empire, and did not
return for two years, when he brought 7,000 talents--a million and a half
of English money--to the Roman treasury.

Cicero and Cato being thus put out of the way--Caesar being absent in
Gaul, and Pompey looking on without interfering--Clodius had amused
himself with legislation. He gratified his corrupt friends in the Senate
by again abolishing the censor's power to expel them. He restored cheap
corn establishments in the city--the most demoralizing of all the measures
which the democracy had introduced to swell their numbers. He re-
established the political clubs, which were hot-beds of distinctive
radicalism. He took away the right of separate magistrates to lay their
vetoes on the votes of the sovereign people, and he took from the Senate
such power as they still possessed of regulating the government of the
provinces, and passed it over to the Assembly. These resolutions, which
reduced the administration to a chaos, he induced the people to decree by
irresistible majorities. One measure only he passed which deserved
commendation, though Clodius deserved none for introducing it. He put an
end to the impious pretence of "observing the heavens," of which
conservative officials had availed themselves to obstruct unwelcome
motions. Some means were, no doubt, necessary to check the precipitate
passions of the mob; but not means which turned into mockery the slight
surviving remnants of ancient Roman reverence.

In general politics the young tribune had no definite predilections. He
had threatened at one time to repeal Caesar's laws himself. He attacked
alternately the chiefs of the army and of the Senate, and the people let
him do what he pleased without withdrawing their confidence from him. He
went everywhere spreading terror with his body-guard of slaves. He
quarrelled with the consuls, beat their lictors, and wounded Gabinius
himself. Pompey professed to be in alarm for his life, and to be unable to
appear in the streets. The state of Rome at this time has been well
described by a modern historian as a "Walpurgis dance of political
witches." [3]

Clodius was a licensed libertine; but license has its limits. He had been
useful so far; but a rein was wanted for him, and Pompey decided at last
that Cicero might now be recalled. Clodius's term of office ran out. The
tribunes for the new year were well disposed to Cicero. The new consuls
were Lentulus, a moderate aristocrat, and Cicero's personal friend, and
Metellus Nepos, who would do what Pompey told him. Caesar had been
consulted by letter and had given his assent. Cicero, it might be thought,
had learnt his lesson, and there was no desire of protracting his penance.
There were still difficulties, however. Cicero, smarting from wrath and
mortification, was more angry with the aristocrats, who had deserted him,
than with his open enemies. His most intimate companions, he bitterly
said, had been false to him. He was looking regretfully on Caesar's
offers,[4] and cursing his folly for having rejected them. The people,
too, would not sacrifice their convictions at the first bidding for the
convenience of their leaders; and had neither forgotten nor forgiven the
killing of the Catiline conspirators; while Cicero, aware of the efforts
which were being made, had looked for new allies in an imprudent quarter.
His chosen friend on the conservative side was now Annius Milo, one of the
new tribunes, a man as disreputable as Clodius himself; deep in debt and
looking for a province to indemnify himself--famous hitherto in the
schools of gladiators, in whose arts he was a proficient, and whose
services were at his disposal for any lawless purpose.

[Sidenote: B.C. 57.]
A decree of banishment could only be recalled by the people who had
pronounced it. Clodius, though no longer in office, was still the idol of
the mob; and two of the tribunes, who were at first well inclined to
Cicero, had been gained over by him. As early as possible, on the first
day of the new year, Lentulus Spinther brought Cicero's case before the
Senate. A tribune reminded him of a clause, attached to the sentence of
exile, that no citizen should in future move for its repeal. The Senate
hesitated, perhaps catching at the excuse; but at length, after repeated
adjournments, they voted that the question should be proposed to the
Assembly. The day fixed was the 25th of January. In anticipation of a riot
the temples on the Forum were occupied with guards. The Forum itself and
the senate-house were in possession of Clodius and his gang. Clodius
maintained that the proposal to be submitted to the people was itself
illegal, and ought to be resisted by force. Fabricius, one of the
tribunes, had been selected to introduce it. When Fabricius presented
himself on the Rostra, there was a general rush to throw him down. The
Forum was in theory still a sacred spot, where the carrying of arms was
forbidden; but the new age had forgotten such obsolete superstitions. The
guards issued out of the temples with drawn swords. The people were
desperate and determined. Hundreds were killed on both sides; Quintus
Cicero, who was present for his brother, narrowly escaping with life. The
Tiber, Cicero says--perhaps with some exaggeration--was covered with
floating bodies; the sewers were choked; the bloody area of the Forum had
to be washed with sponges. Such a day had not been seen in Rome since the
fight between Cinna and Octavius.[5] The mob remained masters of the
field, and Cicero's cause had to wait for better times. Milo had been
active in the combat, and Clodius led his victorious bands to Milo's house
to destroy it. Milo brought an action against him for violence; but
Clodius was charmed even against forms of law. There was no censor as yet
chosen, and without a censor the praetors pretended that they could not
entertain the prosecution. Finding law powerless, Milo imitated his
antagonist. He, too, had his band of gladiators about him; and the streets
of the Capital were entertained daily by fights between the factions of
Clodius and Milo. The Commonwealth of the Scipios, the laws and
institutions of the mistress of the civilized world, had become the
football of ruffians. Time and reflection brought some repentance at last.
Toward the summer "the cause of order" rallied. The consuls and Pompey
exerted themselves to reconcile the more respectable citizens to Cicero's
return; and, with the ground better prepared, the attempt was renewed with
more success. In July the recall was again proposed in the Senate, and
Clodius was alone in opposing it. When it was laid before the Assembly,
Clodius made another effort; but voters had been brought up from other
parts of Italy who outnumbered the city rabble; Milo and his gladiators
were in force to prevent another burst of violence; and the great orator
and statesman was given back to his country. Sixteen months he had been
lamenting himself in Greece, bewailing his personal ill-treatment. He was
the single object of his own reflections. In his own most sincere
convictions he was the centre on which the destinies of Rome revolved. He
landed at Brindisi on the 5th of August. His pardon had not yet been
decreed, though he knew that it was coming. The happy news arrived in a
day or two, and he set out in triumph for Rome. The citizens of Brindisi
paid him their compliments; deputations came to congratulate from all
parts of Italy. Outside the city every man of note of all the orders, save
a few of his declared enemies, were waiting to receive him. The roofs and
steps of the temples were thronged with spectators. Crowds attended him to
the Capitol, where he went to pour out his gratitude to the gods, and
welcomed him home with shouts of applause.

Had he been wise he would have seen that the rejoicing was from the lips
outward; that fine words were not gold; that Rome and its factions were
just where he had left them, or had descended one step lower. But Cicero
was credulous of flattery when it echoed his own opinions about himself.
The citizens, he persuaded himself, were penitent for their ingratitude to
the most illustrious of their countrymen. The acclamations filled him with
the delighted belief that he was to resume his place at the head of the
State; and, as he could not forgive his disgrace, his first object in the
midst of his triumph was to revenge himself on those who had caused it.
Speeches of acknowledgment he had naturally to make both to the Senate and
the Assembly. In addressing the people he was moderately prudent; he
glanced at the treachery of his friends, but he did not make too much of
it. He praised his own good qualities, but not extravagantly. He described
Pompey as "the wisest, best, and greatest of all men that had been, were,
or ever would be." Himself he compared to Marius returning also from
undeserved exile, and he delicately spoke in honor of a name most dear to
the Roman plebs, But he, he said, unlike Marius, had no enemies but the
enemies of his country. He had no retaliation to demand for his own
wrongs. If he punished bad citizens, it would be by doing well himself; if
he punished false friends, it would be by never again trusting them. His
first and his last object would be to show his gratitude to his fellow-

Such language was rational and moderate. He understood his audience, and
he kept his tongue under a bridle. But his heart was burning in him; and
what he could not say in the Forum he thought he might venture on with
impunity in the Senate, which might be called his own dunghill. His chief
wrath was at the late consuls. They were both powerful men. Gabinius was
Pompey's chief supporter. Calpurnius Piso was Caesar's father-in-law. Both
had been named to the government of important provinces; and, if authority
was not to be brought into contempt, they deserved at least a show of
outward respect. Cicero lived to desire their friendship, to affect a
value for them, and to regret his violence; but they had consented to his
exile; and careless of decency, and oblivious of the chances of the
future, he used his opportunity to burst out upon them in language in
which the foulest ruffian in the streets would have scarcely spoken of the
first magistrates of the Republic. Piso and Gabinius, he said, were
thieves, not consuls. They had been friends of Catiline, and had been
enemies to himself, because he had baffled the conspiracy. Piso could not
pardon the death of Cethegus. Gabinius regretted in Catiline himself the
loss of his lover.[7] Gabinius, he said, had been licentious in his
youth; he had ruined his fortune; he had supplied his extravagance by
pimping; and had escaped his creditors only by becoming tribune. "Behold
him," Cicero said, "as he appeared when consul at a meeting called by the
arch-thief Clodius, full of wine, and sleep, and fornication, his hair
moist, his eyes heavy, his cheeks flaccid, and declaring, with a voice
thick with drink, that he disapproved of putting citizens to death without
trial." [8] As to Piso, his best recommendation was a cunning gravity of
demeanor, concealing mere vacuity. Piso knew nothing--neither law, nor
rhetoric, nor war, nor his fellow-men. "His face was the face of some
half-human brute." "He was like a negro, a thing [_negotium_] without
sense or savor, a Cappadocian picked out of a drove in the
slave-market." [9]

Cicero was not taking the best means to regain his influence in the Senate
by stooping to vulgar brutality. He cannot be excused by the manners of
the age; his violence was the violence of a fluent orator whose temper ran
away with him, and who never resisted the temptation to insult an
opponent. It did not answer with him; he thought he was to be chief of the
Senate, and the most honored person in the State again; he found that he
had been allowed to return only to be surrounded by mosquitoes whose
delight was to sting him, while the Senate listened with indifference or
secret amusement. He had been promised the restoration of his property;
but he had a suit to prosecute before he could get it. Clodius had thought
to make sure of his Roman palace by dedicating it to "Liberty." Cicero
challenged the consecration. It was referred to the College of Priests,
and the College returned a judgment in Cicero's favor. The Senate voted
for the restoration. They voted sums for the rebuilding both of the palace
on the Palatine Hill and of the other villas, at the public expense. But
the grant in Cicero's opinion was a stingy one. He saw too painfully that
those "who had clipped his wings did not mean them to grow again." [10]
Milo and his gladiators were not sufficient support, and if he meant to
recover his old power he found that he must look for stronger allies.
Pompey had not used him well; Pompey had promised to defend him from
Clodius, and Pompey had left him to his fate. But by going with Pompey he
could at least gall the Senate. An opportunity offered, and he caught at
it. There was a corn famine in Rome. Clodius had promised the people cheap
bread, but there was no bread to be had. The hungry mob howled about the
senate-house, threatening fire and massacre. The great capitalists and
contractors were believed to be at their old work. There was a cry, as in
the "pirate" days, for some strong man to see to them and their misdoings.
Pompey was needed again. He had been too much forgotten, and with Cicero's
help a decree was carried which gave Pompey control over the whole corn
trade of the Empire for five years.

This was something, and Pompey was gratified; but without an army Pompey
could do little against the roughs in the streets, and Cicero's house
became the next battle-ground. The Senate had voted it to its owner again,
and the masons and carpenters were set to work; but the sovereign people
had not been consulted. Clodius was now but a private citizen; but private
citizens might resist sacrilege if the magistrates forgot their duty. He
marched to the Palatine with his gang. He drove out the workmen, broke
down the walls, and wrecked the adjoining house, which belonged to
Cicero's brother Quintus. The next day he set on Cicero himself in the Via
Sacra, and nearly murdered him, and he afterward tried to burn the house
of Milo. Consuls and tribunes did not interfere. They were, perhaps,
frightened. The Senate professed regret, and it was proposed to prosecute
Clodius; but his friends were too strong, and it could not be done. Could
Cicero have wrung his neck, as he had wrung the necks of Lentulus and
Cethegus, Rome and he would have had a good deliverance. Failing this, he
might wisely have waited for the law, which in time must have helped him.
But he let himself down to Clodius's level. He railed at him in the Curia
as he had railed at Gabinius and Piso. He ran over his history; he taunted
him with incest with his sister, and with filthy relations with vulgar
millionaires. He accused him of having sold himself to Catiline, of
having forged wills, murdered the heirs of estates and stolen their
property, of having murdered officers of the treasury and seized the
public money, of having outraged gods and men, decency, equity, and law;
of having suffered every abomination and committed every crime of which
human nature was capable. So Cicero spoke in Clodius's own hearing and in
the hearing of his friends. It never occurred to him that if half these
crimes could be proved, a commonwealth in which such a monster could rise
to consequence was not a commonwealth at all, but a frightful mockery
which he and every honest man were called on to abhor. Instead of scolding
and flinging impotent filth, he should have withdrawn out of public life
when he could only remain in it among such companions, or should have
attached himself with all his soul to those who had will and power to mend

Clodius was at this moment the popular candidate for the aedileship, the
second step on the road to the consulship. He was the favorite of the mob.
He was supported by his brother Appius Claudius, the praetor, and the
_clientele_ of the great Claudian family; and Cicero's denunciations
of him had not affected in the least his chances of success. If Clodius
was to be defeated, other means were needed than a statement in the Senate
that the aspirant to public honors was a wretch unfit to live. The
election was fixed for the 18th of November, and was to be held in the
Campus Martius. Milo and his gladiators took possession of the polling-
place in the night, and the votes could not be taken. The Assembly met the
next day in the Forum, but was broken up by violence, and Clodius had
still to wait. The political witch-dance was at its height and Cicero was
in his glory. "The elections," he wrote to Atticus, "will not, I think, be
held; and Clodius will be prosecuted by Milo unless he is first killed.
Milo will kill him if he falls in with him. He is not afraid to do it, and
he says openly that he will do it. He is not frightened at the misfortune
which fell on me. He is not the man to listen to traitorous friends or to
trust indolent patricians." [11]

With recovered spirits the Senate began again to attack the laws of Caesar
and Clodius as irregular; but they were met with the difficulty which
Clodius had provided. Cato had come back from Cyprus, delighted with his
exploit and with himself, and bringing a ship-load of money with him for
the public treasury. If the laws were invalidated by the disregard of
Bibulus and the signs of the sky, then the Cyprus mission had been invalid
also, and Cato's fine performance void. Caesar's grand victories, the news
of which was now coming in, made it inopportune to press the matter
farther; and just then another subject rose, on which the optimates ran
off like hounds upon a fresh scent.

Ptolemy of Cyprus had been disposed of. Ptolemy Auletes had been preserved
on the throne of Egypt by subsidies to the chiefs of the Senate. But his
subjects had been hardly taxed to raise the money. The Cyprus affair had
further exasperated them, and when Ptolemy laid on fresh impositions the
Alexandrians mutinied and drove him out. His misfortunes being due to his
friends at Rome, he came thither to beg the Romans to replace him. The
Senate agreed unanimously that he must be restored to his throne. But then
the question rose, who should be the happy person who was to be the
instrument of his reinstatement? Alexandria was rich. An enormous fine
could be exacted for the rebellion, besides what might be demanded from
Ptolemy's gratitude. No prize so splendid had yet been offered to Roman
avarice, and the patricians quarrelled over it like jackals over a bone.
Lentulus Spinther, the late consul, was now Governor of Cilicia; Gabinius
was Governor of Syria; and each of these had their advocates. Cicero and
the respectable conservatives were for Spinther; Pompey was for Gabinius.
Others wished Pompey himself to go; others wished for Crassus.

[Sidenote: B.C. 56.]
Meanwhile, the poor Egyptians themselves claimed a right to be heard in
protest against the reimposition upon them of a sovereign who had made
himself abhorred. Why was Ptolemy to be forced on them? A hundred of the
principal Alexandrians came to Italy with a remonstrance; and had they
brought money with them they might have had a respectful hearing. But they
had brought none or not enough, and Ptolemy, secure of his patrons'
support, hired a party of banditti, who set on the deputation when it
landed, and killed the greater part of its members. Dion, the leader of
the embassy, escaped for a time. There was still a small party among the
aristocracy (Cato and Cato's followers) who had a conscience in such
things; and Favonius, one of them, took up Dion's cause. Envoys and allied
sovereigns or provinces, he said, were continually being murdered. Noble
lords received hush-money, and there had been no inquiry. Such things
happened too often, and ought to be stopped. The Senate voted decently to
send for Dion and examine him. But Favonius was privately laughed at as
"Cato's ape;" the unfortunate Dion was made away with, and Pompey took
Ptolemy into his own house and openly entertained him there. Pompey would
himself perhaps have undertaken the restoration, but the Senate was
jealous. His own future was growing uncertain; and eventually, without
asking for a consent which the Senate would have refused to give, he sent
his guest to Syria with a charge to his friend Gabinius to take him back
on his own responsibility.[12]

The killing of envoys and the taking of hush-money by senators were, as
Favonius had said, too common to attract much notice; but the affair of
Ptolemy, like that of Jugurtha, had obtained an infamous notoriety. The
Senate was execrated. Pompey himself fell in public esteem. His
overseership of the granaries had as yet brought in no corn. He had been
too busy over the Egyptian matter to attend to it. Clearly enough there
would now have been a revolution in Rome, but for the physical force of
the upper classes with their bands of slaves and clients.

The year of Milo's tribunate being over, Clodius was chosen aedile without
further trouble; and, instead of being the victim of a prosecution, he at
once impeached Milo for the interruption of the Comitia on the 18th of
November. Milo appeared to answer on the 2d of February; but there was
another riot, and the meeting was broken up. On the 6th the court was
again held. The crowd was enormous. Cicero happily has left a minute
account of the scene. The people were starving, the corn question was
pressing. Milo presented himself, and Pompey came forward on the Rostra to
speak. He was received with howls and curses from Clodius's hired
ruffians, and his voice could not be heard for the noise. Pompey held on
undaunted, and commanded occasional silence by the weight of his presence.
Clodius rose when Pompey had done, and rival yells went up from the
Milonians. Yells were not enough; filthy verses were sung in chorus about
Clodius and Clodia, ribald bestiality, delightful to the ears of "Tully."
Clodius, pale with anger, called out, "Who is murdering the people with
famine?" A thousand throats answered, "Pompey!" "Who wants to go to
Alexandria?" "Pompey!" they shouted again. "And whom do you want to go?"
"Crassus!" they cried. Passion had risen too high for words. The Clodians
began to spit on the Milonians. The Milonians drew swords and cut the
heads of the Clodians. The working men, being unarmed, got the worst of
the conflict; and Clodius was flung from the Rostra. The Senate was
summoned to call Pompey to account. Cicero went off home, wishing to
defend Pompey, but wishing also not to offend the "good" party, who were
clamorous against him. That evening nothing could be done. Two days after
the Senate met again; Cato abused Pompey, and praised Cicero much against
Cicero's will, who was anxious to stand well with Pompey. Pompey accused
Cato and Crassus of a conspiracy to murder him. In fact, as Cicero said,
Pompey had just then no friend in any party. The mob was estranged from
him, the noble lords hated him, the Senate did not like him, the patrician
youth insulted him, and he was driven to bring up friends from the country
to protect his life. All sides were mustering their forces in view of an
impending fight.[13]

It would be wasted labor to trace minutely the particulars of so miserable
a scene, or the motives of the principal actors in it--Pompey, bound to
Caesar by engagement and conviction, yet jealous of his growing fame,
without political conviction of his own, and only conscious that his
weight in the State no longer corresponded to his own estimate of his
merits--Clodius at the head of the starving mob, representing mere
anarchy, and nourishing an implacable hate against Cicero--Cicero, anxious
for his own safety, knowing now that he had made enemies of half the
Senate, watching how the balance of factions would go, and dimly conscious
that the sword would have to decide it, clinging, therefore, to Pompey,
whose military abilities his civilian ignorance considered supereminent--
Cato, a virtuous fanatic, narrow, passionate, with a vein of vanity,
regarding all ways as wrong but his own, and thinking all men who would
not walk as he prescribed wicked as well as mistaken--the rest of the
aristocracy scuffling for the plunder of Egypt, or engaged in other
enterprises not more creditable--the streets given over to the factions--
the elections the alternate prize of bribery or violence, and consulates
and praetorships falling to men more than half of whom, if Cicero can be
but moderately believed, deserved to be crucified. Cicero's main affection
was for Titus Annius Milo, to whom he clung as a woman will cling to a man
whose strength she hopes will support her weakness. Milo, at least, would
revenge his wrongs upon Clodius. Clodius, Cicero said even in the Senate,
was Milo's predestined victim.[14] Titus Annius knew how an armed citizen
who burnt temples and honest men's houses ought to be dealt with. Titus
Annius was born to extinguish that pest of the Commonwealth.[15]

Still smarting over his exile, Cicero went one day with Milo and his
gladiators to the Capitol when Clodius was absent, and carried off the
brass tablet on which the decree of his exile had been engraved. It was
some solace to his poor vanity to destroy the record of his misfortune.
But it was in vain. All was going wrong. Caesar's growing glories came
thick to trouble his peace. He, after all, then, was not to be the
greatest man in Rome. How would these splendid successes affect parties?
How would they affect Pompey? How would, they affect the Senate? What
should he do himself?

The Senate distrusted him; the people distrusted him. In his perplexity he
tried to rouse the aristocracy to a sense of their danger, and hinted that
his was the name which yet might save them.

Sextius, who had been a tribune with Milo in the past year, was under
prosecution for one of the innumerable acts of violence which had
disgraced the city. Cicero defended him, and spoke at length on the state
of affairs as he wished the world to believe that he regarded it.

"In the Commonwealth," he said, "there have always been two parties--the
populares and the optimates. The populares say and do what will please the
mob. The optimates say and do what will please the best men. And who are
the best men? They are of all ranks and infinite in number--senators,
municipals, farmers, men of business, even libertini. The type is
distinct. They are the well-to-do, the sound, the honest, who do no wrong
to any man. The object at which they aim is quiet with honor.
[16] They are the conservatives of the State. Religion and good
government, the Senate's authority, the laws and customs of our ancestors,
public faith, integrity, sound administration--these are the principles on
which they rest, and these they will maintain with their lives. Their path
is perilous. The foes of the State are stronger than its defenders; they
are bold and desperate, and go with a will to the work of destruction;
while the good, I know not why, are languid, and will not rouse themselves
unless compelled. They would have quiet without honor, and so lose both
quiet and honor. Some are triflers, some are timid, only a few stand firm.
But it is not now as it was in the days of the Gracchi. There have been
great reforms. The people are conservative at heart; the demagogues cannot
rouse them, and are forced to pack the Assembly with hired gangs. Take
away these gangs, stop corruption at the elections, and we shall be all of
one mind. The people will be on our side. The citizens of Rome are not
populares. They hate the populares, and prefer honorable men. How did they
weep in the theatres where they heard the news that I was exiled! How did
they cheer my name! 'Tully, the preserver of our liberties!' was repeated
a thousand times. Attend to me," he said, turning paternally to the high-
born youths who were listening to him, "attend to me when I bid you walk
in the ways of your forefathers. Would you have praise and honor, would
you have the esteem of the wise and good, value the constitution under
which you live. Our ancestors, impatient of kings, appointed annual
magistrates, and for the administration they nominated a Senate chosen
from the whole people into which the road is open for the poorest
citizen." [17]

So Cicero, trying to persuade others, and perhaps half persuading himself,
that all might yet be well, and that the Roman Constitution would roll on
upon its old lines in the face of the scandal of Ptolemy and the greater
scandals of Clodius and Milo.

Cicero might make speeches; but events followed their inexorable course.
The patricians had forgotten nothing and had learnt nothing. The Senate
had voted thanksgivings for Caesar's victories; but in their hearts they
hated him more for them, because they feared him more. Milo and his
gladiators gave them courage. The bitterest of the aristocrats, Domitius
Ahenobarbus, Cato's brother-in-law and praetor for the year, was a
candidate for the consulship. His enormous wealth made his success almost
certain, and he announced in the Senate that he meant to recall Caesar and
repeal his laws. In April a motion was introduced in the Senate to revise
Caesar's land act. Suspicions had gone abroad that Cicero believed
Caesar's star to be in the ascendant, and that he was again wavering. To
clear himself he spoke as passionately as Domitius could himself have
wished, and declared that he honored more the resistance of Bibulus than
all the triumphs in the world. It was time to come to an end with these
gentlemen. Pompey was deeply committed to Caesar's agrarian law, for it
had been passed primarily to provide for his own disbanded soldiers. He
was the only man in Rome who retained any real authority; and touched, as
for a moment he might have been, with jealousy, he felt that honor, duty,
every principle of prudence or patriotism, required him at so perilous a
crisis to give Caesar his firm support. Clodius was made in some way to
understand that, if he intended to retain his influence, he must conform
to the wishes of the army. His brother, Appius, crossed the Alps to see
Caesar himself; and Caesar, after the troops were in their winter
quarters, came over to the north of Italy. Here an interview was arranged
between the chiefs of the popular party. The place of meeting was Lucca,
on the frontier of Caesar's province. Pompey, who had gone upon a tour
along the coast and through the Mediterranean islands on his corn
business, attended without concealment or mystery. Crassus was present,
and more than a hundred senators. The talking power of the State was in
Rome. The practical and real power was in the Lucca conference. Pompey,
Caesar, and Crassus were irresistible when heartily united, and a complete
scheme was arranged between them for the government of the Empire. There
was to be no Domitius Ahenobarbus for a consul, or aristocratic _coups
d'etat_. Pompey and Crassus were to be consuls for the ensuing year.
The consulship over, Pompey was to have Spain for a province for five
years, with an adequate army. Crassus, who was ambitious also of military
distinction, was to have Syria. Caesar's command in Gaul was to be
extended for five years further in addition to his present term. The
consent of the Assembly was to be secured, if difficulty arose, by the
votes of the army. The elections being in the winter, Caesar's soldiers
were to be allowed to go to Rome on furlough.

In a personal interview Caesar easily asserted his ascendency. Pompey
allowed himself to be guided, and the arrangement was probably dictated by
Caesar's own prudence. He did not mean to leave Gaul half conquered, to
see his work undone, and himself made into a plaything by men who had
incited Ariovistus to destroy him. The senators who were present at Lucca
implied by their co-operation that they too were weary of anarchy, and
would sustain the army in a remodelling of the State if milder measures

Thus, for the moment, Domitius and Cato were baffled. Domitius was not to
be consul. Caesar was not to be recalled, or his laws repealed. There was
no hope for them or for the reaction, till Pompey and Caesar could be
divided; and their alliance was closer now than ever. The aristocratic
party could but chafe in impotent rage. The effect on Cicero was curious.
He had expected that the conservative movement would succeed, and he had
humiliated himself before the Senate, in the idle hope of winning back
their favor. The conference at Lucca opened his eyes. For a time at least
he perceived that Caesar's was the winning side, and he excused himself
for going over to it by laying the blame on the Senate's folly and
ingratitude to himself. Some private correspondence preceded his change of
sides. He consulted Atticus, and had received characteristic and cautious
advice from him. He described in reply his internal struggles, the
resolution at which he had arrived, and the conclusion which he had formed
upon his own past conduct.

"I am chewing what I have to swallow," he said. "Recantation does not seem
very creditable; but adieu to straightforward, honest counsels. You would
not believe the perfidy of these chiefs; as they wish to be, and what they
might be if they had any faith in them. I had felt, I had known, that I
was being led on by them, and then deserted and cast off; and yet I
thought of making common cause with them. They were the same which they
had always been. You made me see the truth at last. You will say you
warned me. You advised what I should do, and you told me not to write to
Caesar. By Hercules! I wished to put myself in a position where I should
be obliged to enter into this new coalition, and where it would not be
possible for me, even if I desired it, to go with those who ought to pity
me, and, instead of pity, give me grudging and envy. I have been moderate
in what I have written. I shall be more full if Caesar meets me
graciously; and then those gentlemen who are so jealous that I should have
a decent house to live in will make a wry face.... Enough of this. Since
those who have no power will not be my friends, I must endeavor to make
friends with those who have. You will say you wished this long ago. I know
that you wished it, and that I have been a mere ass;[18] but it is time
for me to be loved by myself, since I can get no love from them." [19]

Pompey, after leaving Lucca, sent Cicero a message, through his brother,
complaining of his speech on the land act, but assuring him of his own and
Caesar's friendship if he would now be true to them. In an apologetic
letter to Lentulus Spinther, Cicero explained and justified what he meant
to do.

"Pompey," he said, "did not let me know that he was offended. He went off
to Sardinia, and on his way saw Caesar at Lucca. Caesar was angry with me;
he had seen Crassus, and Crassus had prejudiced him. Pompey, too, was
himself displeased. He met my brother a few days after, and told him to
use his influence with me. He reminded him of his exertions in my behalf;
he swore that those exertions had been made with Caesar's consent, and he
begged particularly that, if I could not support Caesar, I would not go
against him. I reflected. I debated the matter as if with the
Commonwealth. I had suffered much and done much for the Commonwealth. I
had now to think of myself. I had been a good citizen; I must now be a
good man. Expressions came round to me that had been used by certain
persons whom even you do not like. They were delighted to think that I had
offended Pompey, and had made Caesar my mortal enemy. This was annoying
enough. But the same persons embraced and kissed even in my presence my
worst foe--the foe of law, order, peace, country, and every good man
[20].... They meant to irritate me, but I had not spirit to be angry. I
surveyed my situation. I cast up my accounts; and I came to a conclusion,
which was briefly this. If the State was in the hands of bad men, as in my
time I have known it to be, I would not join them though they loaded me
with favors; but when the first person in the Commonwealth was Pompey,
whose services had been so eminent, whose advancement I had myself
furthered, and who stood by me in my difficulties, I was not inconsistent
if I modified some of my opinions, and conformed to the wishes of one who
has deserved so well of me. If I went with Pompey, I must go with Caesar
too; and here the old friendship came to bear between Caesar, my brother,
and myself, as well as Caesar's kindness to me, of which I had seen
evidence in word and deed.... Public interest, too, moved me. A quarrel
with these men would be most inexpedient, especially after what Caesar has
done.... If the persons who assisted in bringing me back had been my
friends afterward, they would have recovered their power when they had me
to help them. The 'good' had gained heart when you were consul. Pompey was
then won to the 'good' cause. Even Caesar, after being decorated by the
Senate for his victories, might have been brought to a better judgment,
and wicked citizens would have had no opening to make disturbances. But
what happened? These very men protected Clodius, who cared no more for the
Bona Dea than for the Three Sisters. They allowed my monument to be
engraved with a hostile record....[21] The good party are not as you left
them. Those who ought to have been staunch have fallen away. You see it in
their faces. You see it in the words and votes of those whom we called
'optimates;' so that wise citizens, one of whom I wish to be and to be
thought, must change their course. 'Persuade your countrymen, if you can,'
said Plato; 'but use no violence.' Plato found that he could no longer
persuade the Athenians, and therefore he withdrew from public life. Advice
could not move them, and he held force to be unlawful. My case was
different. I was not called on to undertake public responsibilities. I was
content to further my own interests, and to defend honest men's causes.
Caesar's goodness to me and to my brother would have bound me to him
whatever had been his fortunes. Now after so much glory and victory I
should speak nobly of him though I owed him nothing." [22]

Happy it would have been for Cicero, and happy for Rome, had he persevered
in the course which he now seemed really to have chosen. Cicero and Caesar
united might have restored the authority of the laws, punished corruption
and misgovernment, made their country the mother as well as the mistress
of the world; and the Republic, modified to suit the change of times,
might have survived for many generations. But under such a modification,
Cicero would have no longer been the first person in the Commonwealth. The
talkers would have ceased to rule, and Cicero was a talker only. He could
not bear to be subordinate. He was persuaded that he, and not Caesar, was
the world's real great man; and so he held on, leaning now to one faction
and now to another, waiting for the chance which was to put him at last in
his true place. For the moment, however, he saved himself from the
degradation into which the Senate precipitated itself. The arrangements at
Lucca were the work of the army. The conservative majority refused to let
the army dictate to them. Domitius intended still to be consul, let the
army say what it pleased. Pompey and Crassus returned to Rome for the
elections; the consuls for the year, Marcellinus and Philip, declined to
take their names. The consuls and the Senate appealed to the Assembly, the
Senate marching into the Forum in state, as if calling on the genius of
the nation to defend the outraged constitution. In vain. The people would
not listen. The consuls were groaned down. No genius of Rome presided in
those meetings, but the genius of revolution in the person of Clodius. The
senators were driven back into the Curia, and Clodius followed them there.
The officers forbade his entrance. Furious young aristocrats flew upon
him, seized him, and would have murdered him in their rage. Clodius
shrieked for help. His rascal followers rushed in with lighted torches,
swearing to burn house and Senate if a hair of Clodius's head were hurt.
They bore their idol off in triumph; and the wretched senators sat gazing
at each other, or storming at Pompey, and inquiring scornfully if he and
Crassus intended to appoint themselves consuls. Pompey answered that they
had no desire for office, but anarchy must be brought to an end.

Still the consuls of the year stubbornly refused to take the names of the
Lucca nominees. The year ran out, and no election had been held. In such a
difficulty, the constitution had provided for the appointment of an
_Interrex_ till fresh consuls could be chosen. Pompey and Crassus
were then nominated, with a foregone conclusion. Domitius still persisted
in standing; and, had it been safe to try the usual methods, the
patricians would have occupied the voting-places as before with their
retinues, and returned him by force. But young Publius Crassus was in Rome
with thousands of Caesar's soldiers, who had come up to vote from the
north of Italy. With these it was not safe to venture on a conflict, and
the consulships fell as the Lucca conference had ordered.

[Sidenote: B.C. 55.]
The consent of the Assembly to the other arrangements remained to be
obtained. Caesar was to have five additional years in Gaul; Pompey and
Crassus were to have Spain and Syria, also for five years each, as soon as
their year of office should be over. The defenders of the constitution
fought to the last. Cato foamed on the Rostra. When the two hours allowed
him to speak were expired, he refused to sit down, and was removed by a
guard. The meeting was adjourned to the next day. Publius Gallus, another
irreconcilable, passed the night in the senate-house, that he might be in
his place at dawn. Cato and Favonius were again at their posts. The
familiar cry was raised that the signs of the sky were unfavorable. The
excuse had ceased to be legal. The tribunes ordered the voting to go
forward. The last resource was then tried. A riot began, but to no
purpose. The aristocrats and their clients were beaten back, and the
several commands were ratified. As the people were dispersing, their
opponents rallied back, filled the Forum, and were voting Caesar's recall,
when Pompey came on them and swept them out. Gallus was carried off
covered with blood; and, to prevent further question, the vote for Caesar
was taken a second time.

The immediate future was thus assured. Time had been obtained for the
completion of the work in Gaul. Pompey dedicated a new theatre, and
delighted the mob with games and races. Five hundred lions were consumed
in five days of combat. As a special novelty eighteen elephants were made
to fight with soldiers; and, as a yet more extraordinary phenomenon, the
sanguinary Roman spectators showed signs of compunction at their
sufferings. The poor beasts were quiet and harmless. When wounded with the
lances, they turned away, threw up their trunks, and trotted round the
circus, crying, as if in protest against wanton cruelty. The story went
that they were half human; that they had been seduced on board the African
transports by a promise that they should not be ill-used, and they were
supposed to be appealing to the gods.[23]Cicero alludes to the scene in
a letter to one of his friends. Mentioning Pompey's exhibitions with
evident contempt, he adds: "There remained the hunts, which lasted five
days. All say that they were very fine. But what pleasure can a sensible
person find in seeing a clumsy performer torn by a wild beast, or a noble
animal pierced with a hunting-spear? The last day was given to the
elephants; not interesting to me, however delightful to the rabble. A
certain pity was felt for them, as if the elephants had some affinity with
man." [24]

[1] _ To Atticus_, ii. 16.

[2] "Conservatores Reipublicae."--_Pro Sextio_.

[3] Mommsen.

[4] "Omnia sunt mea culpa commissa, qui ab his me amari putabam qui
invidebant: eos non sequebar qui petebant."--_Ad Familiares_,
xiv. 1. "Nullum est meum peccatum nisi quod iis credidi a quibus
nefas putabam esse me decipi.... Intimus proximus familiarissimus
quisque aut sibi pertimuit aut mihi invidit."--_Ad Quintum
Fratrem_, i. 4.

[5] "Meministis tum, judices, corporibus civium Tiberim compleri, cloacas
referciri, e foro spongiis effingi sanguinem.... Caedem tantam, tantos
acervos corporum extruetos, nisi forte illo Cinnano atque Octaviano
die, quis unquam in foro vidit?"--_Oratio prov P. Sextio_,
xxxv. 36.

[6] _Ad Quirites post Reditum_.

[7] "Ejus vir Catilina."

[8] "Cum in Circo Flaminio non a tribuno plebis consul in concionem sed a
latrone archipirata productus esset, primum processit qua auctoritate
vir. Vini, somni, stupri plenus, madenti coma, gravibus oculis,
fluentibus buccis, pressa voce et temulenta, quod in cives indemnatos
esset animadversum, id sibi dixit gravis auctor vehementissime
displicere."--_Post Reditum in Senatu_, 6.

[9] Cicero could never leave Gabinius and Piso alone. Again and again he
returned upon them railing like a fishwife. In his oration for Sextius
he scoffed at Gabinius's pomatum and curled hair, and taunted him with
unmentionable sins; but he specially entertained himself with his
description of Piso:

"For Piso!" he said: "O gods, how unwashed, how stern he looked--a
pillar of antiquity, like one of the old bearded consuls; his dress
plain plebeian purple, his hair tangled, his brow a very pledge for
the Commonwealth! Such solemnity in his eye, such wrinkling of his
forehead, that you would have said the State was resting on his head
like the sky on Atlas. Here we thought we had a refuge. Here was the
man to oppose the filth of Gabinius; his very face would be enough.
People congratulated us on having one friend to save us from the
tribune. Alas! I was deceived," etc. etc.

Piso afterward called Cicero to account in the Senate, and brought out
a still more choice explosion of invectives. Beast, filth, polluted
monster, and such like, were the lightest of the names which Cicero
hurled back at one of the oldest members of the Roman aristocracy. A
single specimen may serve to illustrate the cataract of nastiness
which he poured alike on Piso and Clodius and Gabinius: "When all the
good were hiding themselves in tears," he said to Piso, "when the
temples were groaning and the very houses in the city were mourning
(over my exile), you, heartless madman that you are, took up the cause
of that pernicious animal, that clotted mass of incests and civil
blood, of villanies intended and impurity of crimes committed[he was
alluding to Clodius, who was in the Senate probably listening to him].
Need I speak of your feasting, your laughter, and handshakings--your
drunken orgies with the filthy companions of your potations? Who in
those days saw you ever sober, or doing anything that a citizen need
not be ashamed of? While your colleague's house was sounding with
songs and cymbals, and he himself was dancing naked at a supper-party
["cumque ipse nudus in convivio saltaret,"] you, you coarse glutton,
with less taste for music, were lying in a stew of Greek boys and wine
in a feast of the Centaurs and Lapithae, where one cannot say whether
you drank most, or vomited most, or spilt most."--_In L.
Pisonem_,10. The manners of the times do not excuse language of
this kind, for there was probably not another member of the Senate
who indulged in it. If Cicero was disliked and despised, he had his
own tongue to thank for it.

[10] _To Atticus_, iv. 2.

[11] _To Atticus_, iv. 3.

[12] For the details of this story see Dion Cassius, lib. xxxix. capp.
12-16. Compare _Cicero ad Familiares_, lib. i. Epist. 1-2.
Curious subterranean influences seem to have been at work to save the
Senate from the infamy of restoring Ptolemy. Verses were discovered in
the Sibylline Books directing that if an Egyptian king came to Rome as
a suppliant, he was to be entertained hospitably, but was to have no
active help. Perhaps Cicero was concerned in this.

[13] _Ad Quintum Fratrem_, ii. 3.

[14] "Tito Annio devota et constituta hostia esse videtur."--_De
Haruspicum responsis_.

[15] Ibid.

[16] "Otium cum dignitate."

[17] Abridged from the _Oratio pro Sextio_.

[18] "Me germanum asinum fuisse." Perhaps "own brother to an ass" would be
a more proper rendering.

[19] _To Atticus_, iv. 5.

[20] Clodius.

[21] Here follows much about himself and his own merits.

[22] To Lentulus Spinther, _Ad Familiares_, i. 9. The length of this
remarkable letter obliges me to give but an imperfect summary of it.
The letter itself should be studied carefully by those who would
understand Cicero's conduct.

[23] Dion Cassius.

[24] _Ad Familiares_, vii. 1.


[Sidenote: B.C. 56.]
While Caesar was struggling with the Senate for leave to complete the
conquest of Gaul, fresh work was preparing for him there. Young Publius
Crassus, before he went to Italy, had wintered with the seventh legion in
Brittany. The Breton tribes had nominally made their submission, and
Crassus had desired them to supply his commissariat. They had given
hostages for their good behavior, and most of them were ready to obey. The
Veneti, the most important of the coast clans, refused. They induced the
rest to join them. They seized the Roman officers whom Crassus had sent
among them, and they then offered to exchange their prisoners for their
countrymen whom the Romans held in pledge. The legions might be
irresistible on land; but the Veneti believed that their position was
impregnable to an attack on the land side. Their homes were on the Bay of
Quiberon and on the creeks and estuaries between the mouth of the Loire
and Brest. Their villages were built on promontories, cut off at high tide
from the mainland, approachable only by water, and not by water except in
shallow vessels of small draught which could be grounded safely on the
mud. The population were sailors and fishermen. They were ingenious and
industrious, and they carried on a considerable trade in the Bay of Biscay
and in the British Channel. They had ships capable of facing the heavy
seas which rolled in from the Atlantic, flat-bottomed, with high bow and
stern, built solidly of oak, with timbers a foot thick, fastened with
large iron nails. They had iron chains for cables. Their sails--either
because sailcloth was scarce, or because they thought canvas too weak for
the strain of the winter storms--were manufactured out of leather. Such
vessels were unwieldy, but had been found available for voyages even to
Britain. Their crews were accustomed to handle them, and knew all the
rocks and shoals and currents of the intricate and difficult harbors. They
looked on the Romans as mere landsmen, and naturally enough they supposed
that they had as little to fear from an attack by water as from the shore.
At the worst they could take to their ships and find a refuge in the

Crassus, when he went to Rome, carried the report to Caesar of the revolt
of the Veneti, and Caesar felt that unless they were promptly punished,
all Gaul might be again in flame. They had broken faith. They had
imprisoned Roman officers who had gone on a peaceful mission among them.
It was necessary to teach a people so restless, so hardly conquered, and
so impatient of foreign dominion, that there was no situation which the
Roman arm was unable to reach.

While the Lucca conference was going on, a fleet of Roman galleys was
built by his order in the Loire. Rowers, seamen, and pilots were brought
across from Marseilles. When the season was sufficiently advanced for
active operations, Caesar came himself and rejoined his army. Titus
Labienus was sent with three legions to Treves to check the Germans on the
Rhine, and prevent disturbances among the Belgae. Titurius Sabinus, with
three more, was stationed in Normandy. To Brittany Caesar went in person
to reduce the rebellious Veneti. The weather was too unsettled for his
fleet to be able as yet to join him. Without its help he found the problem
as difficult as the Veneti expected. Each village required a siege; when
it was reduced, the inhabitants took to their boats, and defied him again
in a new position. Many weeks were thus fruitlessly wasted. The fine
weather at length set in. The galleys from the Loire came out, accompanied
by others from Rochelle and the mouth of the Garonne. The command at sea
was given to Decimus Brutus, a cousin of the afterward famous Marcus, a
clever, able, and so far loyal officer.

The Veneti had collected every ship that they or their allies possessed to
defend themselves. They had 220 sail in all--a force, considering its
character, extremely formidable. Their vessels were too strong to be run
down. The galleys carried turrets; but the bows and sterns of the Veneti
were still too lofty to be reached effectively by the Roman javelins. The
Romans had the advantage in speed; but that was all. They too, however,
had their ingenuities. They had studied the construction of the Breton
ships. They had provided sickles with long handles, with which they
proposed to catch the halyards which held the weight of the heavy leather
sails. It was not difficult to do, if, as is probable, the halyards were
made fast, not to the mast, but to the gunwale. Sweeping rapidly alongside
they could easily cut them; the sails would fall, and the vessels would be

A sea battle of this singular kind was thus fought off the eastern
promontory of the Bay of Quiberon, Caesar and his army looking on from the
shore. The sickles answered well; ship after ship was disabled; the
galleys closed with them, and they were taken by boarding. The Veneti then
tried to retreat; but a calm came on, and they could not move. The fight
lasted from ten in the morning till sunset, when the entire Breton fleet
was taken or sunk.

After this defeat the Veneti gave up the struggle. Their ships were all
gone. Their best men were on board, and had been killed. They had no power
of resistance left. Caesar was constitutionally lenient, and admired
rather than resented a valiant fight for freedom. But the Veneti had been
treacherous. They had laid hands on the sacred persons of Roman
ambassadors, and he considered it expedient on this one occasion to use
severity. The council who had contrived the insurrection were put to
death. The rest of the tribe were treated as the Aduatuci had been, and
were sold into slavery.

Sabinus, meanwhile, had been in difficulties in Normandy. The people there
had risen and killed their chiefs, who tried to keep them quiet; vagabonds
from other parts had joined them, and Sabinus, who wanted enterprise,
allowed the disturbances to become dangerous. He ended them at last,
however, successfully, and Caesar would not allow his caution to be
blamed. During the same months, Publius Crassus had made a brilliant
campaign in Aquitaine. The Aquitani had not long before overthrown two
Roman armies. Determined not to submit to Caesar, they had allied
themselves with the Spaniards of the Pyrenees, and had officers among them
who had been trained by Sertorius. Crassus stormed their camp with a skill
and courage which called out Caesar's highest approbation, and completely
subdued the whole country.

In all France there now remained only a few unimportant tribes on the
coast between Calais and the Scheldt which had not formally submitted. The
summer being nearly over, Caesar contented himself with a hasty survey of
their frontier. The weather broke up earlier than usual, and the troops
were redistributed in their quarters. Again there had been a year of
unbroken success. The Romans were masters of Gaul, and the admirable care
of their commander had preserved the numbers in his legions almost
undiminished. The smallness of the loss with which all these wonders were
accomplished is perhaps the most extraordinary feature of the story. Not
till a year later is there any notice of fresh recruits being brought from

The winter which followed brought with it another of the dangerous waves
of German immigration. The powerful Suevi, a nation of warriors who
cultivated no lands, who wore no clothes but a deer or sheep skin, who
lived by hunting and pasture, despised the restraints of stationary life,
and roved at pleasure into their neighbors' territories, were pressing on
the weaker tribes and forcing them down into the Low Countries. The
Belgians, hoping for their help against the Romans, had invited these
tribes over the Rhine; and, untaught by the fate of Ariovistus, they were
crossing over and collecting in enormous numbers above the junction of the
Rhine and the Meuse. Into a half-peopled country, large portions of which
are lying waste, it might be barbarous to forbid an immigration of
harmless and persecuted strangers; but if these Germans were persecuted,
they were certainly not harmless; they had come at the instance of the
party in Gaul which was determined to resist the Roman conquest, and
unless the conquest was to be abandoned, necessity required that the
immigration must be prohibited. When the advance of spring allowed the
troops to move, Caesar called a council of Gallic chiefs. He said nothing
of the information which had reached him respecting their correspondence
with these new invaders, but with his usual swiftness of decision he made
up his mind to act without waiting for disaffection to show itself. He
advanced at once to the Ardennes, where he was met by envoys from the
German camp. They said that they had been expelled from their country, and
had come to Gaul in search of a home; they did not wish to quarrel with
the Romans; if Caesar would protect them and give them lands, they
promised to be useful to him; if he refused their alliance, they declared
that they would defend themselves. They had fled before the Sueves, for
the Sueves were the first nation in the world; the immortal gods were not
a match for the Sueves; but they were afraid of no one else, and Caesar
might choose whether he would have them for friends or foes.

Caesar replied that they must not stay in Gaul. There were no unoccupied
lands in Gaul which could receive so vast a multitude. The Ubii[1] on
their own side of the Rhine were allies of the Romans; the Ubii, he was
willing to undertake, would provide for them; meanwhile they must go back;
he would listen to no other conditions. The envoys departed with their
answer, begging Caesar to advance no farther till he had again heard from
them. This could not be granted. The interval would be employed in
communicating with the Gauls. Caesar pushed on, crossed the Meuse at
Maestricht, and descended the river to Venloo, where he was but twelve
miles distant from the German head-quarters. Again messengers came, asking
for time--time, at least, till they could learn whether the Ubii would
receive them. If the Ubii were favorable, they said that they were ready
to go; but they could not decide without a knowledge of what was to become
of them. They asked for a respite, if only for three days.

Three days meant only leisure to collect their scattered detachments, that
they might make a better fight. Caesar gave them twenty-four hours.

The two armies were so near that their front lines were in sight of each
other. Caesar had given orders to his officers not to meddle with the
Germans. But the Germans, being undisciplined and hot-blooded, were less
easy to be restrained. A large body of them flung themselves on the Roman
advanced guard, and drove it in with considerable loss; seventy-four Roman
knights fell, and two Aquitanian noblemen, brothers, serving under Caesar,
were killed in defending each other.

Caesar was not sorry for an excuse to refuse further parley. The Germans
were now scattered. In a day or two they would be united again. He knew
the effect which would be produced on the restless minds of the Gauls by
the news of a reverse however slight; and if he delayed longer, he feared
that the country might be on fire in his rear. On the morning which
followed the first action, the principal German chiefs appeared to
apologize and to ask for a truce. They had come in of their own accord.
They had not applied for a safe conduct, and war had been begun by their
own people. They were detained as prisoners; and, marching rapidly over
the short space which divided the camps, Caesar flung himself on the
unfortunate people when they were entirely unprepared for the attack.
Their chiefs were gone. They were lying about in confusion beside their
wagons, women and children dispersed among the men; hundreds of thousands
of human creatures, ignorant where to turn for orders, and uncertain
whether to fight or fly. In this condition the legions burst in on them,
furious at what they called the treachery of the previous day, and
merciless in their vengeance. The poor Germans stood bravely defending
themselves as they could; but the sight of their women flying in shrieking
crowds, pursued by the Roman horse, was too much for them, and the whole
host were soon rushing in despairing wreck down the narrowing isthmus
between the Meuse and the Rhine. They came to the junction at last, and
then they could go no further. Multitudes were slaughtered; multitudes
threw themselves into the water and were drowned. Caesar, who was not
given to exaggeration, says that their original number was 430,000. The
only survivors, of whom any clear record remains, were the detachments who
were absent from the battle, and the few chiefs who had come into Caesar's
camp and continued with him at their own request from fear of being
murdered by the Gauls.

This affair was much spoken of at the time, as well it might be. Questions
were raised upon it in the Senate. Cato insisted that Caesar had massacred
a defenceless people in a time of truce, that he had broken the law of
nations, and that he ought to be given up to the Germans. The sweeping off
the earth in such a manner of a quarter of a million human creatures, even
in those unscrupulous times, could not be heard of without a shudder. The
irritation in the Senate can hardly be taken as disinterested. Men who had
intrigued with Ariovistus for Caesar's destruction, needed not to be
credited with feelings of pure humanity when they made the most of the
opportunity. But an opportunity had undoubtedly been offered them. The
rights of war have their limits. No living man in ordinary circumstances
recognized those limits more than Caesar did. No commander was more
habitually merciful in victory. In this case the limits had been
ruthlessly exceeded. The Germans were not indeed defending their own
country; they were the invaders of another; but they were a fine brave
race, overtaken by fate when doing no more than their forefathers had done
for unknown generations. The excuse for their extermination was simply
this: that Caesar had undertaken the conquest of Gaul for the defence of
Italy. A powerful party among the Gauls themselves were content to be
annexed to the Roman Empire. The patriots looked to the Germans to help
them in driving out the Romans. The Germanizing of Gaul would lead with
certainty to fresh invasions of Italy; and it seemed permissible, and even
necessary, to put a stop to these immigrations once for all, and to show
Gauls and Germans equally that they were not to be.

It was not enough to have driven the Germans out of Gaul. Caesar respected
their character. He admired their abstinence from wine, their courage,
their frugal habits, and their pure morality. But their virtues made them
only more dangerous; and he desired to show them that the Roman arm was
long and could reach them even in their own homes. Parties of the late
invaders had returned over the Rhine, and were protected by the Sigambri
in Westphalia. Caesar had demanded their surrender, and the Sigambri had
answered that Roman authority did not reach across the river; if Caesar
forbade Germans to cross into Gaul, the Germans would not allow the Romans
to dictate to them in their own country. The Ubii were growing anxious.
They were threatened by the Sueves for deserting the national cause. They
begged Caesar to show himself among them, though his stay might be but
short, as a proof that he had power and will to protect them; and they
offered him boats and barges to carry his army over. Caesar decided to go,
but to go with more ostentation. The object was to impress the German
imagination; and boats and barges which might not always be obtainable
would, if they seemed essential, diminish the effect. The legions were
skilled workmen, able to turn their hand to anything. He determined to
make a bridge, and he chose Bonn for the site of it. The river was broad,
deep, and rapid. The materials were still standing in the forest; yet in
ten days from the first stroke that was delivered by an axe, a bridge had
been made standing firmly on rows of piles with a road over it forty feet
wide. A strong guard was left at each end. Caesar marched across with the
legions, and from all sides deputations from the astonished people poured
in to beg for peace. The Sigambri had fled to their woods. The Suevi fell
back into the Thuringian forests. He burnt the villages of the Sigambri,
to leave the print of his presence. He paid the Ubii a long visit; and
after remaining eighteen days beyond the river, he considered that his
purpose had been gained, and he returned to Gaul, destroying the bridge
behind him.

It was now about the beginning of August. A few weeks only of possible
fine weather remained. Gaul was quiet, not a tribe was stirring. The
people were stunned by Caesar's extraordinary performances. West of the
channel which washed the shores of the Belgae lay an island where the
enemies of Rome had found shelter, and from which help had been sent to
the rebellious Bretons. Caesar, the most skilful and prudent of generals,
was yet adventurous as a knight-errant. There was still time for a short
expedition into Britain. As yet nothing was known of that country, save
the white cliffs which could be seen from Calais; Roman merchants
occasionally touched there, but they had never ventured into the interior;
they could give no information as to the size of the island, the qualities
of the harbors, the character or habits of the inhabitants. Complete
ignorance of such near neighbors was undesirable and inconvenient; and
Caesar wished to look at them with his own eyes. The fleet which had been
used in the war with the Veneti was sent round into the channel. He
directed Caius Volusenus, an officer whom he could trust, to take a galley
and make a survey of the opposite coast, and he himself followed to
Boulogne, where his vessels were waiting for him. The gathering of the
flotilla and its object had been reported to Britain, and envoys from
various tribes were waiting there with offers of hostages and humble
protestations. Caesar received them graciously, and sent back with them a
Gaul, named Commius, whom he had made chief of the Atrebates, to tell the
people that he was coming over as a friend, and that they had nothing to

Volusenus returned after five days' absence, having been unable to gather
anything of importance. The ships which had come in were able only to take
across two legions, probably at less than their full complement--or at
most ten thousand men; but for Caesar's present purpose these were
sufficient. Leaving Sabinus and Cotta in charge of the rest of the army,
he sailed on a calm evening, and was off Dover in the morning. The cliffs
were lined with painted warriors, and hung so close over the water that if
he attempted to land there stones and lances could reach the boats from
the edge of the precipice. He called his officers about him while his
fleet collected, and said a few encouraging words to them; he then moved
up the coast with the tide, apparently as far as Walmer or Deal. Here the
beach was open and the water deep near the land. The Britons had followed
by the brow of the cliff, scrambling along with their cars and horses. The
shore was covered with them, and they evidently meant to fight. The
transports anchored where the water was still up to the men's shoulders.
They were encumbered with their arms, and did not like the look of what
was before them. Seeing them hesitate, Caesar sent his armed galleys
filled with archers and crossbow-men to clear the approach; and as the
legionaries still hesitated, an officer who carried the eagle of the 10th
leapt into the sea and bade his comrades follow if they wished to save
their standard. They sprang overboard with a general cheer. The Britons
rode their horses into the waves to meet them; and for a few minutes the
Romans could make no progress. Boats came to their help, which kept back
the most active of their opponents, and once on land they were in their
own element. The Britons galloped off, and Caesar had no cavalry.

A camp was then formed. Some of the ships were left at anchor, others were
brought on shore, and were hauled up to the usual high-water mark. Commius
came in with deputations, and peace was satisfactorily arranged. All went
well till the fourth day, when the full moon brought the spring tide, of
which the Romans had no experience and had not provided for it. Heavy
weather came up along with it. The galleys on the beach were floated off;
the transports at anchor parted their cables; some were driven on shore,
some out into the channel. Caesar was in real anxiety. He had no means of
procuring a second fleet. He had made no preparations for wintering in
Britain. The legions had come light, without tents or baggage, as he meant
to stay no longer than he had done in Germany, two or three weeks at most.
Skill and energy repaired the damage. The vessels which had gone astray
were recovered. Those which were least injured were repaired with the
materials of the rest. Twelve only were lost, the others were made

The Britons, as Caesar expected, had taken heart at the disaster. They
broke their agreement, and fell upon his outposts. Seeing the small number
of Romans, they collected in force, in the hope that if they could destroy
the first comers no more such unwelcome visitors would ever arrive to
trouble them. A sharp action taught them their mistake; and after many of
the poor creatures had been killed, they brought in hostages, and again
begged for peace. The equinox was now coming on. The weather was again
threatening. Postponing, therefore, further inquiries into the nature of
the British and their country, Caesar used the first favorable
opportunity, and returned, without further adventure, to Boulogne. The
legions were distributed among the Belgae; and Caesar himself, who could
have no rest, hastened over the Alps, to deal with other disturbances
which had broken out in Illyria.


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