Caesar: A Sketch
James Anthony Froude

Part 5 out of 8

[Sidenote: B.C. 54.]
The bridge over the Rhine and the invasion of a country so remote that it
was scarcely believed to exist, roused the enthusiasm at Rome beyond the
point which it had hitherto reached. The Roman populace was accustomed to
victories, but these were portents like the achievements of the old
demigods. The humbled Senate voted twenty days of thanksgiving; and
faction, controlled by Pompey, was obliged to be silent.

The Illyrian troubles were composed without fighting, and the interval of
winter was spent in preparations for a renewal of the expedition into
Britain on a larger scale. Orders had been left with the officers in
command to prepare as many transports as the time would allow, broader and
lower in the side for greater convenience in loading and unloading. In
April, Caesar returned. He visited the different stations, and he found
that his expert legionaries, working incessantly, had built six hundred
transports and twenty-eight armed galleys. All these were finished and
ready to be launched. He directed that they should collect at Boulogne as
before; and in the interval he paid a visit to the north of Gaul, where
there were rumors of fresh correspondence with the Germans. Danger, if
danger there was, was threatened by the Treveri, a powerful tribe still
unbroken on the Moselle. Caesar, however, had contrived to attach the
leading chiefs to the Roman interest. He found nothing to alarm him, and
once more went down to the sea. In his first venture he had been
embarrassed by want of cavalry. He was by this time personally acquainted
with the most influential of the Gallic nobles. He had requested them to
attend him into Britain with their mounted retinues, both for service in
the field, and that he might keep these restless chiefs under his eye.
Among the rest he had not overlooked the Aeduan prince, Dumnorix, whose
intrigues had brought the Helvetii out of Switzerland, and whose treachery
had created difficulty and nearly disaster in the first campaign. Dumnorix
had not forgotten his ambition. He had affected penitence, and he had been
treated with kindness. He had availed himself of the favor which had been
shown to him to pretend to his countrymen that Caesar had promised him the
chieftainship. He had petitioned earnestly to be excused from accompanying
the expedition, and, Caesar having for this reason probably the more
insisted upon it, he had persuaded the other chiefs that Caesar meant to
destroy them, and that if they went to Britain they would never return.
These whisperings were reported to Caesar. Dumnorix had come to Boulogne
with the rest, and he ordered him to be watched. A long westerly wind had
prevented Caesar from embarking as soon as he had wished. The weather
changed at last, and the troops were ordered on board. Dumnorix slipped
away in the confusion with a party of Aeduan horse, and it was now certain
that he had sinister intentions. The embarkation was suspended. A
detachment of cavalry was sent in pursuit, with directions to bring
Dumnorix back dead or alive. Dumnorix resisted, and was killed.

No disturbance followed on his death. The remaining chiefs were loyal, or
wished to appear loyal, and further delay was unnecessary. Labienus, whom
Caesar thoroughly trusted, remained behind with three legions and two
thousand horse to watch over Gaul; and on a fine summer evening, with a
light air from the south, Caesar sailed at sunset on the 20th of July. He
had five legions with him. He had as many cavalry as he had left with
Labienus. His flotilla, swollen by volunteers, amounted to eight hundred
vessels, small and great. At sunrise they were in midchannel, lying in a
dead calm, with the cliffs of Britain plainly visible on their left hand.
The tide was flowing. Oars were out; the legionaries worked with such
enthusiasm that the transports kept abreast of the war-galleys. At noon
they had reached the beach at Deal, where this time they found no enemy to
oppose their landing; the Britons had been terrified at the multitude of
ships and boats in which the power of Rome was descending on them, and had
fled into the interior. The water was smooth, the disembarkation easy. A
camp was drawn out and intrenched, and six thousand men, with a few
hundred horse, were told off to guard it. The fleet was left riding
quietly at anchor, the pilots ignorant of the meaning of the treacherous
southern air which had been so welcome to them; and Caesar advanced inland
as far as the Stour. The Britons, after an unsuccessful stand to prevent
the Romans from crossing the river, retired into the woods, where they had
made themselves a fortress with felled trees. The weak defence was easily
stormed; the Britons were flying; the Romans were preparing to follow;
when an express came from Deal to tell Caesar that a gale had risen again
and the fleet was lying wrecked upon the shore. A second accident of the
same kind might have seemed an omen of evil, but Caesar did not believe in
omens. The even temperament of his mind was never discomposed, and at each
moment he was able always to decide, and to do, what the moment required.
The army was halted. He rode back himself to the camp, to find that forty
of his vessels only were entirely ruined. The rest were injured, but not
irreparably. They were hauled up within the lines of the camp. He selected
the best mechanics out of the legions; he sent across to Labienus for
more, and directed him to build fresh transports in the yards at Boulogne.
The men worked night and day, and in little more than a week Caesar was
able to rejoin his troops and renew his march.

The object of the invasion had been rather to secure the quiet of Gaul
than the annexation of new subjects and further territory. But it could
not be obtained till the Romans had measured themselves against the
Britons, and had asserted their military superiority. The Britons had
already shown themselves a fearless race, who could not be despised. They
fought bravely from their cars and horses, retreated rapidly when
overmatched, and were found dangerous when pursued. Encouraged by the
report of the disaster to the fleet, Cassibelaunus, chief of the Cassi,
whose head-quarters were at St. Albans, had collected a considerable army
from both sides of the Thames, and was found in strength in Caesar's front
when he again began to move. They attacked his foraging parties. They set
on his flanking detachments. They left their cars, and fought on foot when
they could catch an advantage; and remounted and were swiftly out of the
reach of the heavily armed Roman infantry. The Gaulish horse pursued, but
did not know the country, and suffered more harm than they inflicted. Thus
the British gave Caesar considerable trouble, which he recorded to their
credit. Not a word can be found in his Commentaries to the disparagement
of brave and open adversaries. At length he forced them into a battle,
where their best warriors were killed. The confederacy of tribes dissolved
and never rallied again, and he pursued his march thenceforward with
little molestation. He crossed the Medway, and reached the Thames
seemingly at Sunbury. There was a ford there, but the river was still
deep, the ground was staked, and Cassibelaunus with his own people was on
the other side. The legions, however, paid small attention to
Cassibelaunus; they plunged through with the water at their necks. The
Britons dispersed, driving off their cattle, and watching his march from a
distance. The tribes from the eastern counties made their submission, and
at Caesar's orders supplied him with corn. Caesar marched on to St. Albans
itself, then lying in the midst of forests and marshes, where the cattle,
the Cassi's only wealth, had been collected for security. St. Albans and
the cattle were taken; Cassibelaunus sued for peace; the days were drawing
in; and Caesar, having no intention of wintering in Britain, considered he
had done enough and need go no farther. He returned as he had come. The
Kentish men had attacked the camp in his absence, but had been beaten off
with heavy loss. The Romans had sallied out upon them, killed as many as
they could catch, and taken one of their chiefs. Thenceforward they had
been left in quiet. A nominal tribute, which was never paid, was assigned
to the tribes who had submitted. The fleet was in order, and all was ready
for departure. The only, but unhappily too valuable, booty which they had
carried off consisted of some thousands of prisoners. These, when landed
in Gaul, were disposed of to contractors, to be carried to Italy and sold
as slaves. Two trips were required to transport the increased numbers; but
the passage was accomplished without accident, and the whole army was
again at Boulogne.

Thus ended the expedition into Britain. It had been undertaken rather for
effect than for material advantage; and everything which had been aimed at
had been gained. The Gauls looked no more across the Channel for support
of insurrections; the Romans talked with admiration for a century of the
far land to which Caesar had borne the eagles; and no exploit gave him
more fame with his contemporaries. Nor was it without use to have solved a
geographical problem, and to have discovered with certainty what the
country was, the white cliffs of which were visible from the shores which
were now Roman territory. Caesar during his stay in Britain had acquired a
fairly accurate notion of it. He knew that it was an island, and he knew
its dimensions and shape. He knew that Ireland lay to the west of it, and
Ireland, he had been told, was about half its size. He had heard of the
Isle of Man, and how it was situated. To the extreme north above Britain
he had ascertained that there were other islands, where in winter the sun
scarcely rose above the horizon; and he had observed through accurate
measurement by water-clocks that the midsummer nights in Britain were
shorter than in the south of France and Italy. He had inquired into the
natural products of the country. There were tin mines, he found, in parts
of the island, and iron in small quantities; but copper was imported from
the Continent. The vegetation resembled that of France, save that he saw
no beech and no spruce pine. Of more consequence were the people and the
distribution of them. The Britons of the interior he conceived to be
indigenous. The coast was chiefly occupied by immigrants from Belgium, as
could be traced in the nomenclature of places. The country seemed thickly
inhabited. The flocks and herds were large; and farm buildings were
frequent, resembling those in Gaul. In Kent especially, civilization was
as far advanced as on the opposite continent. The Britons proper from the
interior showed fewer signs of progress. They did not break the ground for
corn; they had no manufactures; they lived on meat and milk, and were
dressed in leather. They dyed their skins blue that they might look more
terrible. They wore their hair long, and had long mustaches. In their
habits they had not risen out of the lowest order of savagery. They had
wives in common, and brothers and sisters, parents and children, lived
together with promiscuous unrestraint. From such a country not much was to
be gained in the way of spoil; nor had much been expected. Since Cicero's
conversion, his brother Quintus had joined Caesar, and was now attending
him as one of his lieutenant-generals. The brothers were in intimate
correspondence. Cicero, though he watched the British expedition with
interest, anticipated that Quintus would bring nothing of value back with
him but slaves; and he warned his friend Atticus, who dealt extensively in
such commodities, that the slaves from Britain would not be found of
superior quality.[2]

[1] Nassau and Darmstadt.

[2] "Britannici belli exitus exspectatur. Constat enim, aditus insulae
esse munitos mirificis molibus. Etiam illud jam cognitum est, neque
argenti scrupulum esse ullum in illa insula, neque ullam spem praedae,
nisi ex mancipiis: ex quibus nullos puto te litteris aut musicis
eruditos exspectare."--_Ad Atticum_, iv. 16. It does not appear
what Cicero meant by the "mirificae moles" which guarded the
approaches to Britain, whether Dover Cliff or the masses of sand
under water at the Goodwins.


The summer had passed off gloriously for the Roman arms. The expedition to
Britain had produced all the effects which Caesar expected from it, and
Gaul was outwardly calm. Below the smooth appearance the elements of
disquiet were silently working, and the winter was about to produce the
most serious disaster and the sharpest trials which Caesar had yet
experienced. On his return from Britain he held a council at Amiens. The
harvest had been bad, and it was found expedient, for their better
provision, to disperse the troops over a broader area than usual. There
were in all eight legions, with part of another to be disposed of, and
they were distributed in the following order. Lucius Roscius was placed at
Seex, in Normandy; Quintus Cicero at Charleroy, not far from the scene of
the battle with the Nervii. Cicero had chosen this position for himself as
peculiarly advantageous; and his brother speaks of Caesar's acquiescence
in the arrangement as a special mark of favor to himself. Labienus was at
Lavacherie, on the Ourthe, about seventy miles to the south-east of
Cicero; and Sabinus and Cotta were at Tongres, among the Aduatuci, not far
from Liege, an equal distance from him to the north-east. Caius Fabius had
a legion at St. Pol, between Calais and Arras; Trebonius one at Amiens;
Marcus Crassus one at Montdidier; Munatius Plancus one across the Oise,
near Compiegne. Roscius was far off, but in a comparatively quiet country.
The other camps lay within a circle, two hundred miles in diameter, of
which Bavay was the centre. Amiens was at one point on the circumference.
Tongres, on the opposite side of it, to the north-east. Sabinus, being the
most exposed, had, in addition to his legion, a few cohorts lately raised
in Italy. Caesar, having no particular business to take him over the Alps,
remained, with Trebonius attending to general business. His dispositions
had been carefully watched by the Gauls. Caesar, they supposed, would go
away as usual; they even believed that he had gone; and a conspiracy was
formed in the north to destroy the legions in detail.

The instigator of the movement was Induciomarus, the leader of the patriot
party among the Treveri, whose intrigues had taken Caesar to the Moselle
before the first visit to Britain. At that time Induciomarus had been able
to do nothing; but a fairer opportunity had arrived. The overthrow of the
great German horde had affected powerfully the semi-Teutonic populations
on the left bank of the Rhine. The Eburones, a large tribe of German race
occupying the country between Liege and Cologne, had given in their
submission; but their strength was still undiminished, and Induciomarus
prevailed on their two chiefs, Ambiorix and Catavoleus, to attack Sabinus
and Cotta. It was midwinter. The camp at Tongres was isolated. The nearest
support was seventy miles distant. If one Roman camp was taken,
Induciomarus calculated that the country would rise; the others could be
separately surrounded, and Gaul would be free. The plot was well laid. An
entrenched camp being difficult to storm, the confederates decided to
begin by treachery. Ambiorix was personally known to many of the Roman
officers. He sent to Sabiuus to say that he wished to communicate with him
on a matter of the greatest consequence. An interview being granted, he
stated that a general conspiracy had been formed through the whole of Gaul
to surprise and destroy the legions. Each station was to be attacked on
the same day, that they might be unable to support each other. He
pretended himself to have remonstrated; but his tribe, he said, had been
carried away by the general enthusiasm for liberty, and he could not keep
them back. Vast bodies of Germans had crossed the Rhine to join in the
war. In two days at the furthest they would arrive. He was under private
obligations to Caesar, who had rescued his son and nephew in the fight
with the Aduatuci, and out of gratitude he wished to save Sabinus from
destruction, which was otherwise inevitable. He urged him to escape while
there was still time, and to join either Labienus or Cicero, giving a
solemn promise that he should not be molested on the road.

A council of officers was held on the receipt of this unwelcome
information. It was thought unlikely that the Eburones would rise by
themselves. It was probable enough, therefore, that the conspiracy was
more extensive. Cotta, who was second in command, was of opinion that it
would be rash and wrong to leave the camp without Caesar's orders. They
had abundant provisions. They could hold their own lines against any force
which the Germans could bring upon them, and help would not be long in
reaching them. It would be preposterous to take so grave a step on the
advice of an enemy. Sabinus unfortunately thought differently. He had been
over-cautious in Brittany, though he had afterward redeemed his fault.
Caesar, he persuaded himself, had left the country; each commander
therefore must act on his own responsibility. The story told by Ambiorix
was likely in itself. The Germans were known to be furious at the passage
of the Rhine, the destruction of Ariovistus, and their other defeats. Gaul
resented the loss of its independence. Ambiorix was acting like a true
friend, and it would be madness to refuse his offer. Two days' march would
bring them to their friends. If the alarm was false, they could return. If
there was to be a general insurrection, the legions could not be too
speedily brought together. If they waited, as Cotta advised, they would be
surrounded, and in the end would be starved into surrender.

Cotta was not convinced, and the majority of officers supported him. The
first duty of a Roman army, he said, was obedience to orders. Their
business was to hold the post which had been committed to them, till they
were otherwise directed. The officers were consulting in the midst of the
camp, surrounded by the legionaries. "Have it as you wish," Sabinus
exclaimed, in a tone which the men could hear; "I am not afraid of being
killed. If things go amiss, the troops will understand where to lay the
blame. If you allowed it, they might in forty-eight hours be at the next
quarters, facing the chances of war with their comrades, instead of
perishing here alone by sword or hunger."

Neither party would give way. The troops joined in the discussion. They
were willing either to go or to stay, if their commanders would agree; but
they said that it must be one thing or the other; disputes would be
certain ruin. The discussion lasted till midnight. Sabinus was obstinate,
Cotta at last withdrew his opposition, and the fatal resolution was formed
to march at dawn. The remaining hours of the night were passed by the men
in collecting such valuables as they wished to take with them. Everything
seemed ingeniously done to increase the difficulty of remaining, and to
add to the perils of the march by the exhaustion of the troops. The Meuse
lay between them and Labienus, so they had selected to go to Cicero at
Charleroy. Their course lay up the left bank of the little river
_Geer_. Trusting to the promises of Ambiorix, they started in loose
order, followed by a long train of carts and wagons. The Eburones lay,
waiting for them, in a large valley, two miles from the camp. When most of
the cohorts were entangled in the middle of the hollow, the enemy appeared
suddenly, some in front, some on both sides of the valley, some behind
threatening the baggage. Wise men, as Caesar says, anticipate possible
difficulties, and decide beforehand what they will do if occasions arise.
Sabinus had foreseen nothing and arranged nothing. Cotta, who had expected
what might happen, was better prepared, and did the best that was
possible. The men had scattered among the wagons, each to save or protect
what he could. Cotta ordered them back, bade them leave the carts to their
fate, and form together in a ring. He did right, Caesar thought; but the
effect was unfortunate. The troops lost heart, and the enemy was
encouraged, knowing that the baggage would only be abandoned when the
position was desperate. The Eburones were under good command. They did
not, as might have been expected, fly upon the plunder. They stood to
their work, well aware that the carts would not escape them. They were not
in great numbers. Caesar specially says that the Romans were as numerous
as they. But everything else was against the Romans. Sabinus could give no
directions. They were in a narrow meadow, with wooded hills on each side
of them filled with enemies whom they could not reach. When they charged,
the light-footed barbarians ran back; when they retired, they closed in
upon them again, and not a dart, an arrow, or a stone missed its mark
among the crowded cohorts. Bravely as the Romans fought, they were in a
trap where their courage was useless to them. The battle lasted from dawn
till the afternoon, and though they were falling fast, there was no
flinching and no cowardice. Caesar, who inquired particularly into the
minutest circumstances of the disaster, records by name the officers who
distinguished themselves; he mentions one whose courage he had marked
before, who was struck down with a lance through his thighs, and another
who was killed in rescuing his son. The brave Cotta was hit in the mouth
by a stone as he was cheering on his men. The end came at last. Sabinus,
helpless and distracted, caught sight of Ambiorix in the confusion, and
sent an interpreter to implore him to spare the remainder of the army.
Ambiorix answered that Sabinus might come to him, if he pleased; he hoped
he might persuade his tribe to be merciful; he promised that Sabinus
himself should suffer no injury. Sabinus asked Cotta to accompany him.
Cotta said he would never surrender to an armed enemy; and, wounded as he
was, he stayed with the legion. Sabinus, followed by the rest of the
surviving officers whom he ordered to attend him, proceeded to the spot
where the chief was standing. They were commanded to lay down their arms.
They obeyed, and were immediately killed; and with one wild yell the
barbarians then rushed in a mass on the deserted cohorts. Cotta fell, and
most of the others with him. The survivors, with the eagle of the legion,
which they had still faithfully guarded, struggled back in the dusk to
their deserted camp. The standard-bearer, surrounded by enemies, reached
the fosse, flung the eagle over the rampart, and fell with the last
effort. Those that were left fought on till night, and then, seeing that
hope was gone, died like Romans on each other's swords--a signal
illustration of the Roman greatness of mind, which had died out among the
degenerate patricians, but was living in all its force in Caesar's
legions. A few stragglers, who had been cut off during the battle from
their comrades, escaped in the night through the woods, and carried the
news to Labienus. Cicero, at Charleroy, was left in ignorance. The roads
were beset, and no messenger could reach him.

Induciomarus understood his countrymen. The conspiracy with which he had
frightened Sabinus had not as yet extended beyond a few northern chiefs,
hut the success of Ambiorix produced the effect which he desired. As soon
as it was known that two Roman generals had been cut off, the remnants of
the Aduatuci and the Nervii were in arms for their own revenge. The
smaller tribes along the Meuse and Sambre rose with them; and Cicero,
taken by surprise, found himself surrounded before he had a thought of
danger. The Gauls, knowing that their chances depended on the capture of
the second camp before assistance could arrive, flung themselves so
desperately on the entrenchments that the legionaries were barely able to
repel the first assault. The assailants were driven back at last, and
Cicero despatched messengers to Caesar to Amiens, to give him notice of
the rising; but not a man was able to penetrate through the multitude of
enemies which now swarmed in the woods. The troops worked gallantly,
strengthening the weak points of their fortifications. In one night they
raised a hundred and twenty towers on their walls. Again the Gauls tried a
storm, and, though they failed a second time, they left the garrison no
rest either by day or night. There was no leisure for sleep; not a hand
could be spared from the lines to care for the sick or wounded. Cicero was
in bad health, but he clung to his work till the men carried him by force
to his tent and obliged him to lie down. The first surprise not having
succeeded, the Nervian chiefs, who knew Cicero, desired a parley. They
told the same story which Ambiorix had told, that the Germans had crossed
the Rhine, and that all Gaul was in arms. They informed him of the
destruction of Sabinus; they warned him that the same fate was hanging
over himself, and that his only hope was in surrender. They did not wish,
they said, to hurt either him or the Roman people; he and his troops would
be free to go where they pleased, but they were determined to prevent the
legions from quartering themselves permanently in their country.

There was but one Sabinus in the Roman army. Cicero answered, with a
spirit worthy of his country, that Romans accepted no conditions from
enemies in arms. The Gauls might, if they pleased, send a deputation to
Caesar, and hear what he would say to them. For himself, he had no
authority to listen to them. Force and treachery being alike unavailing,
they resolved to starve Cicero out. They had watched the Roman strategy.
They had seen and felt the value of the entrenchments. They made a bank
and ditch all round the camp, and, though they had no tools but their
swords with which to dig turf and cut trees, so many there were of them
that the work was completed in three hours.[1] Having thus pinned the
Romans in, they slung red-hot balls and flung darts carrying lighted straw
over the ramparts of the camp on the thatched roofs of the soldiers' huts.
The wind was high, the fire spread, and amidst the smoke and the blaze the
Gauls again rushed on from all sides to the assault. Roman discipline was
never more severely tried, and never showed its excellence more signally.
The houses and stores of the soldiers were in flames behind them. The
enemy were pressing on the walls in front, covered by a storm of javelins
and stones and arrows, but not a man left his post to save his property or
to extinguish the fire. They fought as they stood, striking down rank
after rank of the Gauls, who still crowded on, trampling on the bodies of
their companions, as the foremost lines fell dead into the ditch. Such as
reached the wall never left it alive, for they were driven forward by the
throng behind on the swords of the legionaries. Thousands of them had
fallen, before, in desperation, they drew back at last.

But Cicero's situation was almost desperate too. The huts were destroyed.
The majority of the men were wounded, and those able to bear arms were
daily growing weaker in number. Caesar was 120 miles distant, and no word
had reached him of the danger. Messengers were again sent off, but they
were caught one after another, and were tortured to death in front of the
ramparts, and the boldest men shrank from risking their lives on so
hopeless an enterprise. At length a Nervian slave was found to make
another adventure. He was a Gaul, and could easily disguise himself. A
letter to Caesar was enclosed in the shaft of his javelin. He glided out
of the camp in the dark, passed undetected among the enemies as one of
themselves, and, escaping from their lines, made his way to Amiens.

Swiftness of movement was Caesar's distinguishing excellence. The legions
were kept ready to march at an hour's notice. He sent an order to Crassus
to join him instantly from Montdidier. He sent to Fabius at St. Pol to
meet him at Arras. He wrote to Labienus, telling him the situation, and
leaving him to his discretion to advance or to remain on his guard at
Lavacherie, as might seem most prudent. Not caring to wait for the rest of
his army, and leaving Crassus to take care of Amiens, he started himself,
the morning after the information reached him, with Trebonius's legion to
Cicero's relief. Fabius joined him, as he had been directed, at Arras. He
had hoped for Labienus's presence also; but Labienus sent to say that he
was surrounded by the Treveri, and dared not stir. Caesar approved his
hesitation, and with but two legions, amounting in all to only 7,000 men,
he hurried forward to the Nervian border. Learning that Cicero was still
holding out, he wrote a letter to him in Greek, that it might be
unintelligible if intercepted, to tell him that help was near. A Gaul
carried the letter, and fastened it by a line to his javelin, which he
flung over Cicero's rampart. The javelin stuck in the side of one of the
towers and was unobserved for several days. The besiegers were better
informed. They learnt that Caesar was at hand, that he had but a handful
of men with him. By that time their own numbers had risen to 60,000, and,
leaving Cicero to be dealt with at leisure, they moved off to envelop and
destroy their great enemy. Caesar was well served by spies. He knew that
Cicero was no longer in immediate danger, and there was thus no occasion
for him to risk a battle at a disadvantage to relieve him. When he found
the Gauls near him, he encamped, drawing his lines as narrowly as he
could, that from the small show which he made they might imagine his
troops to be even fewer than they were. He invited attack by an
ostentation of timidity, and having tempted the Gauls to become the
assailants, he flung open his gates, rushed out upon them with his whole
force, and all but annihilated them. The patriot army was broken to
pieces, and the unfortunate Nervii and Aduatuci never rallied from this
second blow. Caesar could then go at his leisure to Cicero and his
comrades, who had fought so nobly against such desperate odds. In every
ten men he found that there was but one unwounded. He inquired with minute
curiosity into every detail of the siege. In a general address he thanked
Cicero and the whole legion. He thanked the officers man by man for their
gallantry and fidelity. Now for the first time (and that he could have
remained ignorant of it so long speaks for the passionate unanimity with
which the Gauls had risen) he learnt from prisoners the fate of Sabinus.
He did not underrate the greatness of the catastrophe. The soldiers in the
army he treated always as friends and comrades in arms, and the loss of so
many of them was as personally grievous to him as the effects of it might
be politically mischievous. He made it the subject of a second speech to
his own and to Cicero's troops, but he spoke to encourage and to console.
A serious misfortune had happened, he said, through the fault of one of
his generals, but it must be borne with equanimity, and had already been
heroically expiated. The meeting with Cicero must have been an interesting
one. He and the two Ciceros had been friends and companions in youth. It
would have been well if Marcus Tullius could have remembered in the coming
years the personal exertion with which Caesar had rescued a brother to
whom he was so warmly attached.

Communications among the Gauls were feverishly rapid. While the Nervii
were attacking Cicero, Induciomarus and the Treveri had surrounded
Labienus at Lavacherie. Caesar had entered Cicero's camp at three o'clock
in the afternoon. The news reached Induciomarus before midnight, and he
had disappeared by the morning. Caesar returned to Amiens, but the whole
country was now in a state of excitement. He had intended to go to Italy,
but he abandoned all thoughts of departure. Rumors came of messengers
hurrying to and fro, of meetings at night in lonely places, of
confederacies among the patriots. Even Brittany was growing uneasy; a
force had been collected to attack Roscius, though it had dispersed after
the relief of Cicero. Caesar again summoned the chiefs to come to him, and
between threats and encouragements succeeded in preventing a general
rising. But the tribes on the upper Seine broke into disturbance. The
Aedui and the Remi alone remained really loyal; and it was evident that
only a leader was wanted to raise the whole of Gaul. Caesar himself
admitted that nothing could be more natural. The more high-spirited of the
Gauls were miserable to see that their countrymen had so lost conceit of
themselves as to submit willingly to the Roman rule.

Induciomarus was busy all the winter soliciting help from the Germans, and
promising money and lands. The Germans had had enough of fighting the
Romans, and, as long as their own independence was not threatened, were
disinclined to move; but Induciomarus, nothing daunted, gathered
volunteers on all sides. His camp became a rallying point for
disaffection. Envoys came privately to him from distant tribes. He, too,
held his rival council, and a fresh attack on the camp of Labienus was to
be the first step in a general war. Labienus, well informed of what was
going on, watched him quietly from his entrenchments. When the Gauls
approached, he affected fear, as Caesar had done, and he secretly formed a
body of cavalry, of whose existence they had no suspicion. Induciomarus
became careless. Day after day he rode round the entrenchments, insulting
the Romans as cowards, and his men flinging their javelins over the walls.
Labienus remained passive, till one evening, when, after one of these
displays, the loose bands of the Gauls had scattered, he sent his horse
out suddenly with orders to fight neither with small nor great, save with
Induciomarus only, and promising a reward for his head. Fortune favored
him. Induciomarus was overtaken and killed in a ford of the Ourthe, and
for the moment the agitation was cooled down. But the impression which had
been excited by the destruction of Sabinus was still telling through the
country. Caesar expected fresh trouble in the coming summer, and spent the
rest of the winter and spring in preparing for a new struggle. Future
peace depended on convincing the Gauls of the inexhaustible resources of
Italy; on showing them that any loss which might be inflicted could be
immediately repaired, and that the army could and would be maintained in
whatever strength might be necessary to coerce them. He raised two fresh
legions in his own province. Pompey had formed a legion in the north of
Italy, within Caesar's boundaries, for service in Spain. Caesar requested
Pompey to lend him this legion for immediate purposes; and Pompey, who was
still on good terms with Caesar, recognized the importance of the
occasion, and consented without difficulty.

[Sidenote: B.C. 53.]
Thus amply reinforced, Caesar, before the grass had begun to grow, took
the field against the tribes which were openly disaffected. The first
business was to punish the Belgians, who had attacked Cicero. He fell
suddenly on the Nervii with four legions, seized their cattle, wasted
their country, and carried off thousands of them to be sold into slavery.
Returning to Amiens, he again called the chiefs about him, and, the Seine
tribes refusing to put in an appearance, he transferred the council to
Paris, and, advancing by rapid marches, he brought the Senones and
Carnutes to pray for pardon.[2] He then turned on the Treveri and their
allies, who, under Ambiorix, had destroyed Sabinus. Leaving Labienus with
the additional legions to check the Treveri, he went himself into
Flanders, where Ambiorix was hiding among the rivers and marshes. He threw
bridges over the dikes, burnt the villages, and carried off an enormous
spoil, of cattle and, alas! of men. To favor and enrich the tribes that
submitted after a first defeat, to depopulate the determinately rebellious
by seizing and selling as slaves those who had forfeited a right to his
protection, was his uniform and, as the event proved, entirely successful
policy. The persuasions of the Treveri had failed with the nearer German
tribes; but some of the Suevi, who had never seen the Romans, were tempted
to adventure over and try their fortunes; and the Treveri were waiting for
them, to set on Labienus, in Caesar's absence. Labienus went in search of
the Treveri, tempted them into an engagement by a feigned flight, killed
many of them, and filled his camp with prisoners. Their German allies
retreated again across the river, and the patriot chiefs, who had gone
with Induciomarus, concealed themselves in the forests of Westphalia.
Caesar thought it desirable to renew the admonition which he had given the
Germans two years before, and again threw a bridge over the Rhine at the
same place where he had made the first, but a little higher up the stream.
Experience made the construction more easy. The bridge was begun and
finished in a few days, but this time the labor was thrown away. The
operation itself lost its impressiveness by repetition, and the barrenness
of practical results was more evident than before. The Sueves, who had
gone home, were far away in the interior. To lead the heavily armed
legions in pursuit of wild light-footed marauders, who had not a town
which could be burned, or a field of corn which could be cut for food, was
to waste their strength to no purpose, and to prove still more plainly
that in their own forests they were beyond the reach of vengeance. Caesar
drew back again, after a brief visit to his allies the Ubii, cut two
hundred feet of the bridge on the German side, and leaving the rest
standing with a guard to defend it, he went in search of Ambiorix, who had
as yet eluded him, in the Ardennes. Ambiorix had added treachery to
insurrection, and as long as he was free and unpunished the massacred
legion had not been fully avenged. Caesar was particularly anxious to
catch him, and once had found the nest warm which Ambiorix had left but a
few moments before.

In the pursuit he came again to Tongres, to the fatal camp which Sabinus
had deserted and in which the last of the legionaries had killed each
other, rather than degrade the Roman name by allowing themselves to be
captured. The spot was fated, and narrowly escaped being the scene of a
second catastrophe as frightful as the first. The entrenchments were
standing as they were left, ready to be occupied. Caesar, finding himself
encumbered by his heavy baggage in the pursuit of Ambiorix, decided to
leave it there with Quintus Cicero and the 14th legion. He was going
himself to scour Brabant and East Flanders as far as the Scheldt. In seven
days he promised to return, and meanwhile he gave Cicero strict directions
to keep the legion within the lines, and not to allow any of the men to
stray. It happened that after Caesar recrossed the Rhine two thousand
German horse had followed in bravado, and were then plundering between
Tongres and the river. Hearing that there was a rich booty in the camp,
that Caesar was away, and only a small party had been left to guard it,
they decided to try to take the place by a sudden stroke. Cicero, seeing
no sign of an enemy, had permitted his men to disperse in foraging
parties. The Germans were on them before they could recover their
entrenchments, and they had to form at a distance and defend themselves as
they could. The gates of the camp were open, and the enemy were actually
inside before the few maniples who were left there were able to collect
and resist them. Fortunately Sextius Bacillus, the same officer who had so
brilliantly distinguished himself in the battle with the Nervii, and had
since been badly wounded, was lying sick in his tent, where he had been
for five days, unable to touch food. Hearing the disturbance, Bacillus
sprang out, snatched a sword, rallied such men as he could find, and
checked the attack for a few minutes. Other officers rushed to his help,
and the legionaries having their centurions with them recovered their
steadiness. Sextius Bacillus was again severely hurt, and fainted, but he
was carried off in safety. Some of the cohorts who were outside, and had
been for a time cut off, made their way into the camp to join the
defenders, and the Germans, who had come without any fixed purpose, merely
for plunder, gave way and galloped off again. They left the Romans,
however, still in the utmost consternation. The scene and the associations
of it suggested the most gloomy anticipations. They thought that German
cavalry could never be so far from the Rhine, unless their countrymen were
invading in force behind them. Caesar, it was supposed, must have been
surprised and destroyed, and they and every Roman in Gaul would soon share
the same fate. Brave as they were, the Roman soldiers seem to have been
curiously liable to panics of this kind. The faith with which they relied
upon their general avenged itself through the completeness with which they
were accustomed to depend upon him. He returned on the day which he had
fixed, and not unnaturally was displeased at the disregard of his orders.
He did not, or does not in his Commentaries, professedly blame Cicero. But
the Ciceros perhaps resented the loss of confidence which one of them had
brought upon himself. Quintus Cicero cooled in his zeal, and afterward
amused the leisure of his winter quarters with composing worthless dramas.

Ambiorix had again escaped, and was never taken. The punishment fell on
his tribe. The Eburones were completely rooted out. The turn of the
Carnutes and Senones came next. The people themselves were spared; but
their leader, a chief named Acco, who was found to have instigated the
revolt, was arrested and executed. Again the whole of Gaul settled into
seeming quiet; and Caesar went to Italy, where the political frenzy was
now boiling over.

[1] Caesar says their trenches were fifteen miles long. This is, perhaps,
a mistake of the transcriber. A Roman camp did not usually cover more
than a few acres.

[2] People about Sens, Melun, and Chartres.


[Sidenote: B.C. 55.]
The conference at Lucca and the Senate's indifference had determined
Cicero to throw in his lot with the trimmers. He had remonstrated with
Pompey on the imprudence of prolonging Caesar's command. Pompey, he
thought, would find out in time that he had made Caesar too strong for
him; but Pompey had refused to listen, and Cicero had concluded that he
must consider his own interests. His brother Quintus joined the army in
Gaul to take part in the invasion of Britain, and to share the dangers and
the honors of the winter which followed it. Cicero himself began a warm
correspondence with Caesar, and through Quintus sent continued messages to
him. Literature was a neutral ground on which he could approach his
political enemy without too open discredit, and he courted eagerly the
approval of a critic whose literary genius he esteemed as highly as his
own. Men of genuine ability are rarely vain of what they can do really
well. Cicero admired himself as a statesman with the most unbounded
enthusiasm. He was proud of his verses, which were hopelessly commonplace.
In the art in which he was without a rival he was modest and diffident. He
sent his various writings for Caesar's judgment. "Like the traveller who
has overslept himself," he said, "yet by extraordinary exertions reaches
his goal sooner than if he had been earlier on the road, I will follow
your advice and court this man. I have been asleep too long. I will
correct my slowness with my speed; and as you say he approves my verses, I
shall travel not with a common carriage, but with a four-in-hand of
poetry." [1]

"What does Caesar say of my poems?" he wrote again. "He tells me in one of
his letters that he has never read better Greek. At one place he writes
[Greek: rathumotera] [somewhat careless]. This is his word. Tell me the
truth, Was it the matter which did not please him, or the style?" "Do not
be afraid," he added with candid simplicity; "I shall not think a hair the
worse of myself." [2]

His affairs were still in disorder. Caesar had now large sums at his
disposition. Cicero gave the highest proof of the sincerity of his
conversion by accepting money from him. "You say," he observed in another
letter, "that Caesar shows every day more marks of his affection for you.
It gives me infinite pleasure. I can have no second thoughts in Caesar's
affairs. I act on conviction, and am doing but my duty; but I am inflamed
with love for him." [3]

With Pompey and Crassus Cicero seemed equally familiar. When their
consulship was over, their provinces were assigned as had been determined.
Pompey had Spain, with six legions. He remained himself at Rome, sending
lieutenants in charge of them. Crassus aspired to equal the glory of his
colleagues in the open field. He had gained some successes in the war with
the slaves which persuaded him that he too could be a conqueror; and
knowing as much of foreign campaigning as the clerks in his factories, he
intended to use Syria as a base of operations against the Parthians, and
to extend the frontier to the Indus. The Senate had murmured, but Cicero
had passionately defended Crassus;[4] and as if to show publicly how
entirely he had now devoted himself to the cause of the "Dynasts," he
invited Crassus to dine with him the day before his departure for the

The position was not wholly pleasant to Cicero. "Self-respect in speech,
liberty in choosing the course which we will pursue, is all gone," he
wrote to Lentulus Spinther--"gone not more from me than from us all. We
must assent, as a matter of course, to what a few men say, or we must
differ from them to no purpose.--The relations of the Senate, of the
courts of justice, nay, of the whole Commonwealth are changed.--The
consular dignity of a firm and courageous statesman can no longer be
thought of. It has been lost by the folly of those who estranged from the
Senate the compact order of the equites and a very distinguished man
[Caesar]." [5] And again: "We must go with the times. Those who have
played a great part in public life have never been able to adhere to the
same views on all occasions. The art of navigation lies in trimming to the
storm. When you can reach your harbor by altering your course, it is a
folly to persevere in struggling against the wind. Were I entirely free I
should still act as I am doing; and when I am invited to my present
attitude by the kindness of one set of men, and am driven to it by the
injurious conduct of the other, I am content to do what I conceive will
conduce at once to my own advantage and the welfare of the State.--
Caesar's influence is enormous. His wealth is vast. I have the use of
both, as if they were my own. Nor could I have crushed the conspiracy of a
set of villains to ruin me, unless, in addition to the defences which I
always possessed, I had secured the goodwill of the men in power." [6]

[Sidenote: B.C. 54.]
Cicero's conscience could not have been easy when he was driven to such
laborious apologies. He spoke often of intending to withdraw into his
family, and devoting his time entirely to literature; but he could not
bring himself to leave the political ferment; and he was possessed besides
with a passionate desire to revenge himself on those who had injured him.
An opportunity seemed to present itself. The persons whom he hated most,
after Clodius, were the two consuls Gabinius and Piso, who had permitted
his exile. They had both conducted themselves abominably in the provinces,
which they had bought, he said, at the price of his blood. Piso had been
sent to Macedonia, where he had allowed his army to perish by disease and
neglect. The frontiers had been overrun with brigands, and the outcries of
his subjects had been audible even in Rome against his tyranny and
incapacity. Gabinius, in Syria, had been more ambitious, and had exposed
himself to an indignation more violent because more interested. At a hint
from Pompey, he had restored Ptolemy to Egypt on his own authority and
without waiting for the Senate's sanction, and he had snatched for himself
the prize for which the chiefs of the Senate had been contending. He had
broken the law by leading his legions over the frontier. He had defeated
the feeble Alexandrians, and the gratified Ptolemy had rewarded him with
the prodigious sum of ten thousand talents--a million and a half of
English money. While he thus enriched himself he had irritated the
knights, who might otherwise have supported him, by quarrelling with the
Syrian revenue farmers, and, according to popular scandal, he had
plundered the province worse than it had been plundered even by the

When so fair a chance was thrown in his way, Cicero would have been more
than human if he had not availed himself of it. He moved in the Senate for
the recall of the two offenders, and in the finest of his speeches he laid
bare their reputed iniquities. His position was a delicate one, because
the senatorial party, could they have had their way, would have recalled
Caesar also. Gabinius was Pompey's favorite, and Piso was Caesar's father-
in-law. Cicero had no intention of quarrelling with Caesar; between his
invectives, therefore, he was careful to interweave the most elaborate
compliments to the conqueror of Gaul. He dwelt with extraordinary
clearness on the value of Caesar's achievements. The conquest of Gaul, he
said, was not the annexation of a province. It was the dispersion of a
cloud which had threatened Italy from the days of Brennus. To recall
Caesar would be madness. He wished to remain only to complete his work;
the more honor to him that he was willing to let the laurels fade which
were waiting for him at Rome, before he returned to wear them. There were
persons who would bring him back, because they did not love him. They
would bring him back only to enjoy a triumph. Gaul had been the single
danger to the Empire. Nature had fortified Italy by the Alps. The
mountain-barrier alone had allowed Rome to grow to its present greatness,
but the Alps might now sink into the earth, Italy had no more to

The orator perhaps hoped that so splendid a vindication of Caesar in the
midst of his worst enemies might have purchased pardon for his onslaught
on the baser members of the "Dynastic" faction. He found himself mistaken.
His eagerness to revenge his personal wrongs compelled him to drink the
bitterest cup of humiliation which had yet been offered to him. He gained
his immediate purpose. The two governors were recalled in disgrace, and
Gabinius was impeached under the new Julian law for having restored
Ptolemy without orders, and for the corrupt administration of his
province. Cicero would naturally have conducted the prosecution; but
pressure of some kind was laid on, which compelled him to stand aside. The
result of the trial on the first of the two indictments was another of
those mockeries of justice which made the Roman law-courts the jest of
mankind. Pompey threw his shield over his instrument. He used his
influence freely. The Egyptian spoils furnished a fund to corrupt the
judges. The speech for the prosecution was so weak as to invite a failure,
and Gabinius was acquitted by a majority of purchased votes. "You ask me
how I endure such things," Cicero bitterly wrote, in telling the story to
Atticus; "well enough, by Hercules, and I am entirely pleased with myself.
We have lost, my friend, not only the juice and blood, but even the color
and shape, of a commonwealth. No decent constitution exists in which I can
take a part. How can you put up with such a state of things? you will say.
Excellently well. I recollect how public affairs went awhile ago, when I
was myself in office, and how grateful people were to me. I am not
distressed now, that the power is with a single man. Those are miserable
who could not bear to see me successful. I find much to console me." [8]
"Gabinius is acquitted," he wrote to his brother.--"The verdict is so
infamous that it is thought he will be convicted on the other charge; but,
as you perceive, the constitution, the Senate, the courts, are all nought.
There is no honor in any one of us.--Some persons, Sallust among them, say
that I ought to have prosecuted him. I to risk my credit with such a jury!
what if I had acted, and he had escaped then! but other motives influenced
me. Pompey would have made a personal quarrel of it with me. He would have
come into the city.[9]--He would have taken up with Clodius again. I
know that I was wise, and I hope that you agree with me. I owe Pompey
nothing, and he owes much to me; but in public matters (not to put it more
strongly) he has not allowed me to oppose him; and when I was flourishing
and he was less powerful than he is now, he let me see what he could do.
Now when I am not even ambitious of power, and the constitution is broken
down, and Pompey is omnipotent, why should I contend with him? Then, says
Sallust, I ought to have pleased Pompey by defending Gabinius, as he was
anxious that I should. A nice friend Sallust, who would have me push
myself into dangerous quarrels, or cover myself with eternal infamy!" [10]

Unhappy Cicero, wishing to act honorably, but without manliness to face
the consequences! He knew that it would be infamous for him to defend
Gabinius, yet at the second trial Cicero, who had led the attack on him in
the Senate, and had heaped invectives on him, the most bitter which he
ever uttered against man, nevertheless actually did defend Gabinius.
Perhaps he consoled himself with the certainty that his eloquence would be
in vain, and that his extraordinary client this time could not escape
conviction. Any way, he appeared at the bar as Gabinius's counsel. The
Syrian revenue farmers were present, open-mouthed with their accusations.
Gabinius was condemned, stripped of his spoils, and sent into banishment.
Cicero was left with his shame. Nor was this the worst. There were still
some dregs in the cup, which he was forced to drain. Publius Vatinius was
a prominent leader of the military democratic party, and had often come in
collision with Cicero. He had been tribune when Caesar was consul, and had
stood by him against the Senate and Bibulus. He had served in Gaul in
Caesar's first campaigns, and had returned to Rome, at Caesar's instance,
to enter for higher office. He had carried the praetorship against Cato;
and Cicero in one of his speeches had painted him as another Clodius or
Catiline. When the praetorship was expired, he was prosecuted for
corruption; and Cicero was once more compelled to appear on the other
side, and defend him, as he had done Gabinius. Caesar and Pompey, wishing
perhaps to break completely into harness the brilliant but still half
unmanageable orator, had so ordered, and Cicero had complied. He was
ashamed, but he had still his points of satisfaction. It was a matter of
course that, as an advocate, he must praise the man whom, a year before,
he had spattered with ignominy; but he had the pleasure of feeling that he
was revenging himself on his conservative allies, who led the prosecution.
"Why I praised Vatinius," he wrote to Lentulus, "I must beg you not to ask
either in the case of this or of any other criminal. I put it to the
judges that since certain noble lords, my good friends, were too fond of
my adversary [Clodius], and in the Senate would go apart with him under my
own eyes, and would treat him with warmest affection, they must allow me
to have my Publius [Vatinius], since they had theirs [Clodius], and give
them a gentle stab in return for their cuts at me." [11] Vatinius was
acquitted. Cicero was very miserable. "Gods and men approved," he said;
but his own conscience condemned him, and at this time his one
consolation, real or pretended, was the friendship of Caesar. "Caesar's
affectionate letters," he told his brother, "are my only pleasure; I
attach little consequence to his promises; I do not thirst for honors, or
regret my past glory. I value more the continuance of his good-will than
the prospect of anything which he may do for me. I am withdrawing from
public affairs, and giving myself to literature. But I am broken-hearted,
my dear brother;--I am broken-hearted that the constitution is gone, that
the courts of law are naught; and that now at my time of life, when I
ought to be leading with authority in the Senate, I must be either busy in
the Forum pleading, or occupying myself with my books at home. The
ambition of my boyhood--

Aye to be first, and chief among my peers--

is all departed. Of my enemies, I have left some unassailed, and some I
even defend. Not only I may not think as I like, but I may not hate as I
like,[12] and Caesar is the only person who loves me as I should wish to
be loved, or, as some think, who desires to love me." [13]

[Sidenote: B.C. 53.]
The position was the more piteous, because Cicero could not tell how
events would fall out after all. Crassus was in the East, with uncertain
prospects there. Caesar was in the midst of a dangerous war, and might be
killed or might die. Pompey was but a weak vessel; a distinguished
soldier, perhaps, but without the intellect or the resolution to control a
proud, resentful, and supremely unscrupulous aristocracy. In spite of
Caesar's victories, his most envenomed enemy, Domitius Ahenobarbus, had
succeeded after all in carrying one of the consulships for the year 54.
The popular party had secured the other, indeed; but they had returned
Appius Claudius, Clodius's brother, and this was but a poor consolation.
In the year that was to follow, the conservatives had bribed to an extent
which astonished the most cynical observers. Each season the elections
were growing more corrupt; but the proceedings on both sides in the fall
of 54 were the most audacious that had ever been known, the two reigning
consuls taking part, and encouraging and assisting in scandalous bargains.
"All the candidates have bribed," wrote Cicero; "but they will be all
acquitted, and no one will ever be found guilty again. The two consuls are
branded with infamy." Memmius, the popular competitor, at Pompey's
instance, exposed in the Senate an arrangement which the consuls had
entered into to secure the returns. The names and signatures were
produced. The scandal was monstrous, and could not be denied. The better
kind of men began to speak of a dictatorship as the only remedy; and
although the two conservative candidates were declared elected for 53, and
were allowed to enter on their offices, there was a general feeling that a
crisis had arrived, and that a great catastrophe could not be very far
off. The form which it might assume was the problem of the hour.

Cicero, speaking two years before on the broad conditions of his time, had
used these remarkable words: "No issue can be anticipated from discords
among the leading men, except either universal ruin, or the rule of a
conqueror, or a monarchy. There exists at present an unconcealed hatred
implanted and fastened into the minds of our leading politicians. They are
at issue among themselves. Opportunities are caught for mutual injury.
Those who are in the second rank watch for the chances of the time. Those
who might do better are afraid of the words and designs of their
enemies." [14]

The discord had been suspended, and the intrigues temporarily checked, by
the combination of Caesar and Pompey with Crassus, the chief of the
moneyed commoners. Two men of equal military reputation, and one of them
from his greater age and older services expecting and claiming precedency,
do not easily work together. For Pompey to witness the rising glory of
Caesar, and to feel in his own person the superior ascendency of Caesar's
character, without an emotion of jealousy, would have demanded a degree of
virtue which few men have ever possessed. They had been united so far by
identity of conviction, by a military detestation of anarchy, by a common
interest in wringing justice from the Senate for the army and people, by a
pride in the greatness of their country, which they were determined to
uphold. These motives, however, might not long have borne the strain but
for other ties, which had cemented their union. Pompey had married
Caesar's daughter, to whom he was passionately attached; and the personal
competition between them was neutralized by the third element of the
capitalist party represented by Crassus, which if they quarrelled would
secure the supremacy of the faction to which Crassus attached himself.
There was no jealousy on Caesar's part. There was no occasion for it.
Caesar's fame was rising. Pompey had added nothing to his past
distinctions, and the glory pales which does not grow in lustre. No man
who had once been the single object of admiration, who had tasted the
delight of being the first in the eyes of his countrymen, could find
himself compelled to share their applause with a younger rival without
experiencing a pang. So far Pompey had borne the trial well. He was on the
whole, notwithstanding the Egyptian scandal, honorable and
constitutionally disinterested. He was immeasurably superior to the
fanatic Cato, to the shifty Cicero, or the proud and worthless leaders of
the senatorial oligarchy. Had the circumstances remained unchanged, the
severity of the situation might have been overcome. But two misfortunes
coming near upon one another broke the ties of family connection, and by
destroying the balance of parties laid Pompey open to the temptation of
patrician intrigue. In the year 54 Caesar's great mother Aurelia, and his
sister Julia, Pompey's wife, both died. A child which Julia had borne to
Pompey died also, and the powerful if silent influence of two remarkable
women, and the joint interest in an infant, who would have been Caesar's
heir as well as Pompey's, were swept away together.

The political link was broken immediately after by a public disaster
unequalled since the last consular army was overthrown by the Gauls on the
Rhone; and the capitalists, left without a leader, drifted away to their
natural allies in the Senate. Crassus had taken the field in the East,
with a wild ambition of becoming in his turn a great conqueror. At first
all had gone well with him. He had raised a vast treasure. He had
plundered the wealthy temples in Phoenicia and Palestine to fill his
military chest. He had able officers with him; not the least among them
his son Publius Crassus, who had served with such distinction under
Caesar. He crossed the Euphrates at the head of a magnificent army,
expecting to carry all before him with the ease of an Alexander. Relying
on his own idle judgment, he was tempted in the midst of a burning summer
into the waterless plains of Mesopotamia; and on the 15th of June the
great Roman millionaire met his miserable end, the whole force, with the
exception of a few scattered cohorts, being totally annihilated.

The catastrophe in itself was terrible. The Parthians had not provoked the
war. The East was left defenceless; and the natural expectation was that,
in their just revenge, they might carry fire and sword through Asia Minor
and Syria. It is not the least remarkable sign of the times that the
danger failed to touch the patriotism of the wretched factions in Rome.
The one thought of the leaders of the Senate was to turn the opportunity
to advantage, wrest the constitution free from military dictation, shake
off the detested laws of Caesar, and revenge themselves on the author of
them. Their hope was in Pompey. If Pompey could be won over from Caesar,
the army would be divided. Pompey, they well knew, unless he had a
stronger head than his own to guide him, could be used till the victory
was won, and then be thrust aside. It was but too easy to persuade him
that he was the greatest man in the Empire; and that as the chief of a
constitutional government, and with the Senate at his side, he would
inscribe his name in the annals of his country as the restorer of Roman

The intrigue could not be matured immediately. The aristocracy had first
to overcome their own animosities against Pompey, and Pompey himself was
generous, and did not yield to the first efforts of seduction. The smaller
passions were still at work among the baser senatorial chiefs, and the
appetite for provinces and pillage. The Senate, even while Crassus was
alive, had carried the consulships for 53 by the most infamous corruption.
They meant now to attack Caesar in earnest, and their energies were
addressed to controlling the elections for the next year. Milo was one of
the candidates; and Cicero, who was watching the political current,
reverted to his old friendship for him, and became active in the canvass.
Milo was not a creditable ally. He already owed half a million of money,
and Cicero, who was anxious for his reputation, endeavored to keep him
within the bounds of decency. But Milo's mind was fastened on the province
which was to redeem his fortunes, and he flung into bribery what was left
of his wrecked credit with the desperation of a gambler. He had not been
praetor, and thus was not legally eligible for the consulate. This,
however, was forgiven. He had been aedile in 54, and as aedile he had
already been magnificent in prodigality. But to secure the larger prize,
he gave as a private citizen the most gorgeous entertainment which even in
that monstrous age the city had yet wondered at. "Doubly, trebly foolish
of him," thought Cicero, "for he was not called on to go to such expense,
and he has not the means." "Milo makes me very anxious," he wrote to his
brother. "I hope all will be made right by his consulship. I shall exert
myself for him as much as I did for myself;[15] but he is quite mad,"
Cicero added; "he has spent L30,000 on his games." Mad, but still, in
Cicero's opinion, well fitted for the consulship, and likely to get it.
All the "good," in common with himself, were most anxious for Milo's
success. The people would vote for him as a reward for the spectacles, and
the young and influential for his efforts to secure their favor.[16]

The reappearance of the "Boni," the "Good," in Cicero's letters marks the
turn of the tide again in his own mind. The "Good," or the senatorial
party, were once more the objects of his admiration. The affection for
Caesar was passing off.

[Sidenote: B.C. 52.]
A more objectionable candidate than Milo could hardly have been found. He
was no better than a patrician gladiator, and the choice of such a man was
a sufficient indication of the Senate's intentions. The popular party led
by the tribunes made a sturdy resistance. There were storms in the Curia,
tribunes imprisoning senators, and the Senate tribunes. Army officers
suggested the election of military tribunes (lieutenant-generals), instead
of consuls; and when they failed, they invited Pompey to declare himself
Dictator. The Senate put on mourning, as a sign of approaching calamity.
Pompey calmed their fears by declining so ambitious a position. But as it
was obvious that Milo's chief object was a province which he might
misgovern, Pompey forced the Senate to pass a resolution that consuls and
praetors must wait five years from their term of office before a province
was to be allotted to them. The temptation to corruption might thus in
some degree be diminished. But senatorial resolutions did not pass for
much, and what a vote had enacted a vote could repeal. The agitation
continued. The tribunes, when the time came, forbade the elections. The
year expired. The old magistrates went out of office, and Rome was left
again without legitimate functionaries to carry on the government. All the
offices fell vacant together.

Now once more Clodius was reappearing on the scene. He had been silent for
two years, content or constrained to leave the control of the democracy to
the three chiefs. One of them was now gone. The more advanced section of
the party was beginning to distrust Pompey. Clodius, their favorite
representative, had been put forward for the praetorship, while Milo was
aspiring to be made consul, and Clodius had prepared a fresh batch of laws
to be submitted to the sovereign people; one of which (if Cicero did not
misrepresent it to inflame the aristocracy) was a measure of some kind for
the enfranchisement of the slaves, or perhaps of the sons of slaves.[17]
He was as popular as ever. He claimed to be acting for Caesar, and was
held certain of success; if he was actually praetor, such was his
extraordinary influence, and such was the condition of things in the city,
that if Milo was out of the way he could secure consuls of his own way of
thinking, and thus have the whole constitutional power in his hands.[18]

Thus both sides had reason for fearing and postponing the elections.
Authority, which had been weak before, was now extinct. Rome was in a
state of formal anarchy, and the factions of Milo and Clodius fought
daily, as before, in the streets, with no one to interfere with them.

Violent humors come naturally to a violent end. Milo had long before
threatened to kill Clodius. Cicero had openly boasted of his friend's
intention to do it, and had spoken of Clodius in the Senate itself as
Milo's predestined victim. On the evening of the 13th January, while the
uncertainty about the elections was at its height, Clodius was returning
from his country house, which was a few miles from Rome on "the Appian
Way." Milo happened to be travelling accidentally down the same road, on
his way to Lanuvium (Civita Indovina), and the two rivals and their
escorts met. Milo's party was the largest. The leaders passed one another,
evidently not intending a collision, but their followers, who were
continually at sword's point, came naturally to blows. Clodius rode back
to see what was going on; he was attacked and wounded, and took refuge in
a house on the roadside. The temptation to make an end of his enemy was
too strong for Milo to resist. To have hurt Clodius would, he thought, be
as dangerous as to have made an end of him. His blood was up. The
"predestined victim," who had thwarted him for so many years, was within
his reach. The house was forced open. Clodius was dragged out bleeding,
and was despatched, and the body was left lying where he fell, where a
senator, named Sextus Tedius, who was passing an hour or two after, found
it, and carried it the same night to Rome. The little which is known of
Clodius comes only through Cicero's denunciations, which formed or colored
later Roman traditions; and it is thus difficult to comprehend the
affection which the people felt for him; but of the fact there can be no
doubt at all; he was the representative of their political opinions, the
embodiment, next to Caesar, of their practical hopes; and his murder was
accepted as a declaration of an aristocratic war upon them, and the first
blow in another massacre. On the following day, in the winter morning, the
tribunes brought the body into the Forum. A vast crowd had collected to
see it, and it was easy to lash them into fury. They dashed in the doors
of the adjoining senate-house, they carried in the bier, made a pile of
chairs and benches and tables, and burnt all that remained of Clodius in
the ashes of the senate-house itself. The adjoining temples were consumed
in the conflagration. The Senate collected elsewhere. They put on a bold
front, they talked of naming an interrex--which they ought to have done
before--and of holding the elections instantly, now that Clodius was gone.
Milo still hoped, and the aristocracy still hoped for Milo. But the storm
was too furious. Pompey came in with a body of troops, restored order, and
took command of the city. The preparations for the election were quashed.
Pompey still declined the dictatorship, but he was named, or he named
himself, sole consul, and at once appointed a commission to inquire into
the circumstances of Milo's canvass, and the corruption which had gone
along with it. Milo himself was arrested and put on his trial for the
murder. Judges were chosen who could be trusted, and to prevent
intimidation the court was occupied by soldiers. Cicero undertook his
friend's defence, but was unnerved by the stern, grim faces with which he
was surrounded. The eloquent tongue forgot its office. He stammered,
blundered, and sat down.[19] The consul expectant was found guilty and
banished, to return a few years after like a hungry wolf in the civil war,
and to perish as he deserved. Pompey's justice was even-handed. He
punished Milo, but the senate-house and temples were not to be destroyed
without retribution equally severe. The tribunes who had led on the mob
were deposed, and suffered various penalties. Pompey acted with a
soldier's abhorrence of disorder, and, so far, he did what Caesar approved
and would himself have done in Pompey's place.

But there followed symptoms which showed that there were secret influences
at work with Pompey, and that he was not the man which he had been. He had
taken the consulate alone; but a single consul was an anomaly; as soon as
order was restored it was understood that he meant to choose a colleague;
and Senate and people were watching to see whom he would select as an
indication of his future attitude. Half the world expected that he would
name Caesar, but half the world was disappointed. He took Metellus Scipio,
who had been the Senate's second candidate by the side of Milo, and had
been as deeply concerned in bribery as Milo himself; shortly after, and
with still more significance, he replaced Julia by Metellus Scipio's
daughter, the widow of young Publius Crassus, who had fallen with his

Pompey, however, did not break with Caesar, and did not appear to intend
to break with him. Communications passed between them on the matter of the
consulship. The tribunes had pressed him as Pompey's colleague. Caesar
himself, being then in the north of Italy, had desired, on being
consulted, that the demand might not be insisted on. He had work still
before him in Gaul which he could not leave unfinished; but he made a
request himself that must be noticed, since the civil war formally grew
out of it, and Pompey gave a definite pledge, which was afterwards broken.

One of the engagements at Lucca had been that, when Caesar's command
should have expired, he was to be again consul. His term had still three
years to run; but many things might happen in three years. A party in the
Senate were bent on his recall. They might succeed in persuading the
people to consent to it. And Caesar felt, as Pompey had felt before him,
that, in the unscrupulous humor of his enemies at Rome he might be
impeached or killed on his return, as Clodius had been, if he came back a
private citizen unprotected by office to sue for his election. Therefore
he had stipulated at Lucca that his name might be taken and that votes
might be given for him while he was still with his army. On Pompey's
taking the power into his hands, Caesar, while abandoning any present
claim to share it, reminded him of this understanding, and required at the
same time that it should be renewed in some authoritative form. The
Senate, glad to escape on any terms from the present conjunction of the
men whom they hoped to divide, appeared to consent. Cicero himself made a
journey to Ravenna to see Caesar about it and make a positive arrangement
with him. Pompey submitted the condition to the assembly of the people, by
whom it was solemnly ratified. Every precaution was observed which would
give the promise, that Caesar might be elected consul in his absence, the
character of a binding engagement.[20]

It was observed with some surprise that Pompey, not long after, proposed
and carried a law forbidding elections of this irregular kind, and
insisting freshly on the presence of the candidates in person. Caesar's
case was not reserved as an exception or in any way alluded to. And when a
question was asked on the subject, the excuse given was that it had been
overlooked by accident. Such accidents require to be interpreted by the
use which is made of them.

[1] _Ad Quintum Fratrem_, ii. 15.

[2] "Ego enim ne pilo quidem minus me amabo."--_Ibid_., ii. 16. Other
editions read "te."

[3] "Videor id judicio facere: jam enim debeo: sed amore sum
incensus."--_Ad Quintum Fratrem_, iii. 1.

[4] Ad Crassum. _Ad Familiares_, v. 8.

[5] Ad Lentulum. _Ad Fam_., i. 8.

[6] _Ibid_., i. 9.

[7] _De Provinciis Consularibus_.

[8] _To Atticus_, iv. 16.

[9] Pompey, as proconsul with a province, was residing outside the walls.

[10] _Ad Quintum fratrem_, iii. 4.

[11] _Ad Familiares_, i. 9.

[12] "Meum non modo animum, sed ne odium quidem esse liberum."--_Ad
Quintum Fratrem_, iii. 5.

[13] See the story in a letter to Atticus, lib. iv. 16-17.

[14] _De Haruspicum Responsis_.

[15] "Angit unus Milo. Sed velim finem afferat consulatus: in quo enitar
non minus, quam sum enisus in nostro."--_Ad Quintum Fratrem_,
iii. 9.

[16] _Ad Familiares_, ii. 6.

[17] "Incidebantur jam domi leges quae nos nostris servis addicerent....
Oppressisset omnia, possideret, teneret lege nova, quae est inventa
apud eum cum reliquis legibus Clodianis. Servos nostros libertos suos
fecisset."--_Pro Milone_, 32, 33. These strong expressions can
hardly refer to a proposed enfranchisement of the libertini, or sons
of freedmen, like Horace's father.

[18] "Caesaris potentiam suam esse dicebat.... An consules in praetore
coercendo fortes fuissent? Primum, Milone occiso habuisset suos
consules."--_Pro Milone_, 33.

[19] The _Oratio pro Milone_, published afterwards by Cicero, was the
speech which he intended to deliver and did not.

[20] Suetonius, _De Vita Julii Caesaris_. Cicero again and again
acknowledges in his letters to Atticus that the engagement had really
been made. Writing to Atticus (vii. 1), Cicero says: "Non est locus ad
tergiversandum. Contra Caesarem? Ubi illae sunt densae dexterae? Nam
ut illi hoc liceret adjuvi rogatus ab ipso Ravennae de Caelio tribuno
plebis. Ab ipso autem? Etiam a Cnaeo nostro in illo divino tertio
consulatu. Aliter sensero?"


The conquest of Gaul had been an exploit of extraordinary military
difficulty. The intricacy of the problem had been enhanced by the venom of
a domestic faction, to which the victories of a democratic general were
more unwelcome than national disgrace. The discomfiture of Crassus had
been more pleasant news to the Senate than the defeat of Ariovistus, and
the passionate hope of the aristocracy had been for some opportunity which
would enable them to check Caesar in his career of conquest and bring him
home to dishonor and perhaps impeachment. They had failed. The efforts of
the Gauls to maintain or recover their independence had been successively
beaten down, and at the close of the summer of 53 Caesar had returned to
the north of Italy, believing that the organization of the province which
he had added to the Empire was all that remained to be accomplished. But
Roman civilians had followed in the van of the armies. Roman traders had
penetrated into the towns on the Seine and the Loire, and the curious
Celts had learnt from them the distractions of their new rulers. Caesar's
situation was as well understood among the Aedui and the Sequani as in the
clubs and coteries of the capital of the Empire, and the turn of events
was watched with equal anxiety. The victory over Sabinus, sharply avenged
as it had been, kept alive the hope that their independence might yet be
recovered. The disaffection of the preceding summer had been trampled out,
but the ashes of it were still smouldering; and when it became known that
Clodius, who was regarded as Caesar's tribune, had been killed, that the
Senate was in power again, and that Italy was threatened with civil
convulsions, their passionate patriotism kindled once more into flame.
Sudden in their resolutions, they did not pause to watch how the balance
would incline. Caesar was across the Alps. Either he would be deposed, or
civil war would detain him in Italy. His legions were scattered between
Treves, Auxerre, and Sens, far from the Roman frontier. A simultaneous
rising would cut them off from support, and they could be starved out or
overwhelmed in detail, as Sabinus had been at Tongres and Cicero had
almost been at Charleroy. Intelligence was swiftly exchanged. The chiefs
of all the tribes established communications with each other. They had
been deeply affected by the execution of Acco, the patriotic leader of the
Carnutes. The death of Acco was an intimation that they were Roman
subjects, and were to be punished as traitors if they disobeyed a Roman
command. They buried their own dissensions. Except among the Aedui there
was no longer a Roman faction and a patriot faction. The whole nation was
inspired by a simultaneous impulse to snatch the opportunity, and unite in
a single effort to assert their freedom. The understanding was complete. A
day was fixed for a universal rising. The Carnutes began by a massacre
which would cut off possibility of retreat, and, in revenge for Acco,
slaughtered a party of Roman civilians who were engaged in business at
_Gien_.[1] A system of signals had been quietly arranged. The
massacre at Gien was known in a few hours in the south, and the Auvergne
country, which had hitherto been entirely peaceful, rose in reply, under a
young high-born chief named Vercingetorix. Gergovia, the principal town of
the Arverni, was for the moment undecided.[2] The elder men there, who
had known the Romans long, were against immediate action; but
Vercingetorix carried the people away with him. His name had not appeared
in the earlier campaigns, but his father had been a man of note beyond the
boundaries of Auvergne; and he must himself have had a wide reputation
among the Gauls, for everywhere, from the Seine to the Garonne, he was
accepted as chief of the national confederacy. Vercingetorix had high
ability and real organizing powers. He laid out a plan for the general
campaign. He fixed a contingent of men and arms which each tribe was to
supply, and failure brought instantaneous punishment. Mild offences were
visited with the loss of eyes or ears; neglect of a more serious sort with
death by fire in the wicker tower. Between enthusiasm and terror he had
soon an army at his command, which he could increase indefinitely at his
need. Part he left to watch the Roman province and prevent Caesar, if he
should arrive, from passing through. With part he went himself to watch
the Aedui, the great central race, where Roman authority had hitherto
prevailed unshaken, but among whom, as he well knew, he had the mass of
the people on his side. The Aedui were hesitating. They called their
levies under arms, as if to oppose him, but they withdrew them again; and
to waver at such a moment was to yield to the stream.

The Gauls had not calculated without reason on Caesar's embarrassments.
The death of Clodius had been followed by the burning of the senate-house
and by many weeks of anarchy. To leave Italy at such a moment might be to
leave it a prey to faction or civil war. His anxiety was relieved at last
by hearing that Pompey had acted, and that order was restored; and seeing
no occasion for his own interference, and postponing the agitation for his
second consulship, he hurried back to encounter the final and convulsive
effort of the Celtic race to preserve their liberties. The legions were as
yet in no danger. They were dispersed in the north of France, far from the
scene of the present rising, and the northern tribes had suffered too
desperately in the past years to be in a condition to stir without
assistance. But how was Caesar to join them? The garrisons in the province
could not be moved. If he sent for the army to come across to him,
Vercingetorix would attack them on the march, and he could not feel
confident of the result; while the line of the old frontier of the
province was in the hands of the insurgents, or of tribes who could not be
trusted to resist the temptation, if he passed through himself without
more force than the province could supply. But Caesar had a resource which
never failed him in the daring swiftness of his own movements. He sent for
the troops which were left beyond the Alps. He had a few levies with him
to fill the gaps in the old legions, and after a rapid survey of the
stations on the provincial frontier he threw himself upon the passes of
the Cevennes. It was still winter. The snow lay six feet thick on the
mountains, and the roads at that season were considered impracticable even
for single travellers. The Auvergne rebels dreamt of nothing so little as
of Caesar's coming upon them at such a time and from such a quarter. He
forced his way. He fell on them while they were lying in imagined
security, Vercingetorix and his army being absent watching the Aedui, and,
letting loose his cavalry, he laid their country waste. But Vercingetorix,
he knew, would fly back at the news of his arrival; and he had already
made his further plans. He formed a strong entrenched camp, where he left
Decimus Brutus in charge, telling him that he would return as quickly as
possible; and, unknown to any one, lest the troops should lose courage at
parting with him, he flew across through an enemy's country with a handful
of attendants to Vienne, on the Rhone, where some cavalry from the
province had been sent to wait for him. Vercingetorix, supposing him still
to be in the Auvergne, thought only of the camp of Brutus; and Caesar,
riding day and night through the doubtful territories of the Aedui,
reached the two legions which were quartered near Auxerre. Thence he sent
for the rest to join him, and he was at the head of his army before
Vercingetorix knew that only Brutus was in front of him. The Aedui, he
trusted, would now remain faithful. But the problem before him was still
most intricate. The grass had not begun to grow. Rapid movement was
essential to prevent the rebel confederacy from consolidating itself; but
rapid movements with a large force required supplies; and whence were the
supplies to come? Some risks had to be run, but to delay was the most
dangerous of all. On the defeat of the Helvetii, Caesar had planted a
colony of them at Gorgobines, near Nevers, on the Loire. These colonists,
called Boii, had refused to take part in the rising; and Vercingetorix,
turning in contempt from Brutus, had gone off to punish them. Caesar
ordered the Aedui to furnish his commissariat, sent word to the Boii that
he was coming to their relief, swept through the Senones, that he might
leave no enemy in his rear, and then advanced on Gien, where the Roman
traders had been murdered, and which the Carnutes still occupied in force.
There was a bridge there over the Loire, by which they tried to escape in
the night. Caesar had beset the passage. He took the whole of them
prisoners, plundered and burnt the town, gave the spoil to his troops, and
then crossed the river and went up to help the Boii. He took Nevers.
Vercingetorix, who was hastening to its relief, ventured his first battle
with him; but the cavalry, on which the Gauls most depended, were
scattered by Caesar's German horse. He was entirely beaten, and Caesar
turned next to Avaricum (Bourges), a rich and strongly fortified town of
the Bituriges. From past experience Caesar had gathered that the Gauls
were easily excited and as easily discouraged. If he could reduce Bourges,
he hoped that this part of the country would return to its allegiance.
Perhaps he thought that Vercingetorix himself would give up the struggle.
But he had to deal with a spirit and with a man different from any which
he had hitherto encountered. Disappointed in his political expectations,
baffled in strategy, and now defeated in open fight, the young chief of
the Arverni had only learnt that he had taken a wrong mode of carrying on
the war, and that he was wasting his real advantages. Battles in the field
he saw that he would lose. But the Roman numbers were limited, and his
were infinite. Tens of thousands of gallant young men, with their light,
active horses, were eager for any work on which he might set them. They
could scour the country far and wide. They could cut off Caesar's
supplies. They could turn the fields into a blackened wilderness before
him on whichever side he might turn. The hearts of the people were with
him. They consented to a universal sacrifice. They burnt their farmsteads.
They burnt their villages. Twenty towns (so called) of the Bituriges were
consumed in a single day. The tribes adjoining caught the enthusiasm. The
horizon at night was a ring of blazing fires. Vercingetorix was for
burning Bourges also; but it was the sacred home of the Bituriges, the one
spot which they implored to be allowed to save, the most beautiful city in
all Gaul. Rivers defended it on three sides, and on the fourth there were
swamps and marshes which could be passed only by a narrow ridge. Within
the walls the people had placed the best of their property, and
Vercingetorix, against his judgment, consented, in pity for their
entreaties, that Avaricum should be defended. A strong garrison was left
inside. Vercingetorix entrenched himself in the forests sixteen miles
distant, keeping watch over Caesar's communications. The place could only
be taken by regular approaches, during which the army had to be fed. The
Aedui were growing negligent. The feeble Boii, grateful, it seemed, for
Caesar's treatment of them, exerted themselves to the utmost, but their
small resources were soon exhausted. For many days the legions were
without bread. The cattle had been driven into the woods. It came at last
to actual famine.[3] "But not one word was heard from them," says
Caesar, "unworthy of the majesty of the Roman people or their own earlier
victories." He told them that if the distress became unbearable he would
raise the siege. With one voice they entreated him to persevere. They had
served many years with him, they said, and had never abandoned any
enterprise which they had undertaken. They were ready to endure any degree
of hardship before they would leave unavenged their countrymen who had
been murdered at Gien.

Vercingetorix, knowing that the Romans were in difficulties, ventured
nearer. Caesar surveyed his position. It had been well chosen behind a
deep morass. The legions clamored to be allowed to advance and attack him,
but a victory, he saw, would be dearly purchased. No condemnation could be
too severe for him, he said, if he did not hold the lives of his soldiers
dearer than his own interest,[4] and he led them back without indulging
their eagerness.

The siege work was unexpectedly difficult. The inhabitants of the Loire
country were skilled artisans, trained in mines and iron works. The walls,
built of alternate layers of stone and timber, were forty feet in
thickness, and could neither be burnt nor driven in with the ram. The town
could be taken only with the help of an agger--a bank of turf and fagots
raised against the wall of sufficient height to overtop the
fortifications. The weather was cold and wet, but the legions worked with
such a will that in twenty-five days they had raised their bank at last, a
hundred yards in width and eighty feet high. As the work drew near its end
Caesar himself lay out all night among the men, encouraging them. One
morning at daybreak he observed that the agger was smoking. The ingenious
Gauls had undermined it and set it on fire. At the same moment they
appeared along the walls with pitch-balls, torches, fagots, which they
hurled in to feed the flames. There was an instant of confusion, but
Caesar uniformly had two legions under arms while the rest were working.
The Gauls fought with a courage which called out his warm admiration. He
watched them at the points of greatest danger falling under the shots from
the scorpions, and others stepping undaunted into their places to fall in
the same way. Their valor was unavailing. They were driven in, and the
flames were extinguished; the agger was level with the walls, and defence
was no longer possible. The garrison intended to slip away at night
through the ruins to join their friends outside. The wailing of the women
was heard in the Roman camp, and escape was made impossible. The morning
after, in a tempest of rain and wind, the place was stormed. The
legionaries, excited by the remembrance of Gien and the long resistance,
slew every human being that they found, men, women, and children all
alike. Out of forty thousand who were within the walls, eight hundred
only, that had fled at the first sound of the attack, made their way to
the camp of Vercingetorix.

Undismayed by the calamity, Vercingetorix made use of it to sustain the
determination of his followers. He pointed out to them that he had himself
opposed the defence. The Romans had defeated them, not by superior
courage, but by superior science. The heart of the whole nation was united
to force the Romans out of Gaul, and they had only to persevere in a
course of action where science would be useless, to be sure of success in
the end. He fell back upon his own country, taking special care of the
poor creatures who had escaped from the carnage; and the effect of the
storming of Bourges was to make the national enthusiasm hotter and fiercer
than before.

The Romans found in the town large magazines of corn and other provisions,
which had been laid in for the siege, and Caesar remained there some days
to refresh his troops. The winter was now over. The Aedui were giving him
anxiety, and as soon as he could he moved to Decize, a frontier town
belonging to them on the Loire, almost in the very centre of France. The
anti-Roman faction were growing in influence. He called a council of the
principal persons, and, to secure the fidelity of so important a tribe, he
deposed the reigning chief and appointed another who had been nominated by
the Druids.[5] He lectured the Aedui on their duty, bade them furnish
him with ten thousand men, who were to take charge of the commissariat,
and then divided his army. Labienus, with four legions, was sent to
compose the country between Sens and Paris. He himself, with the remaining
six legions, ascended the right bank of the Allier towards Gergovia in
search of Vercingetorix. The bridges on the Allier were broken, but Caesar
seized and repaired one of them and carried his army over.

The town of Gergovia stood on a high plateau, where the rivers rise which
run into the Loire on one side and into the Dordogne on the other. The
sides of the hill are steep, and only accessible at a very few places, and
the surrounding neighborhood is broken with rocky valleys. Vercingetorix
lay in force outside, but in a situation where he could not be attacked
except at disadvantage, and with his communication with the fortress
secured. He was departing again from his general plan for the campaign in
allowing Gergovia to be defended; but it was the central home of his own
tribe, and the result showed that he was right in believing it to be
impregnable. Caesar saw that it was too strong to be stormed, and that it
could only be taken after long operations. After a few skirmishes he
seized a spur of the plateau which cut off the garrison from their
readiest water-supply, and he formed an entrenched camp upon it. He was
studying the rest of the problem when bad news came that the Aedui were
unsteady again. The ten thousand men had been raised as he had ordered,
but on their way to join him they had murdered the Roman officers in
charge of them, and were preparing to go over to Vercingetorix. Leaving
two legions to guard his works, he intercepted the Aeduan contingent, took
them prisoners, and protected their lives. In his absence Vercingetorix
had attacked the camp with determined fury. The fighting had been
desperate, and Caesar only returned in time to save it. The reports from
the Aedui were worse and worse. The patriotic faction had the upper hand,
and with the same passionate determination to commit themselves
irrevocably, which had been shown before at Gien, they had massacred every
Roman in their territory. It was no time for delaying over a tedious
siege: Caesar was on the point of raising it, when accident brought on a
battle under the walls. An opportunity seemed to offer itself of capturing
the place by escalade, which part of the army attempted contrary to
orders. They fought with more than their usual gallantry. The whole scene
was visible from the adjoining hills, the Celtic women, with long
streaming hair, wildly gesticulating on the walls. The Romans were driven
back with worse loss than they had yet met with in Gaul. Forty-six
officers and seven hundred men had been killed.

Caesar was never more calm than under a reverse. He addressed the legions
the next day. He complimented their courage, but he said it was for the
general and not for them to judge when assaults should be tried. He saw
the facts of the situation exactly as they were. His army was divided.
Labienus was far away with a separate command. The whole of Gaul was in
flames. To persevere at Gergovia would only be obstinacy, and he accepted
the single military failure which he met with when present in person
through the whole of his Gallic campaign.

Difficulties of all kinds were now thickening. Caesar had placed magazines
in Nevers, and had trusted them to an Aeduan garrison. The Aeduans burnt
the town and carried the stores over the Loire to their own strongest
fortress, Bibracte (Mont Beauvray). The river had risen from the melting
of the snows, and could not be crossed without danger; and to feed the
army in its present position was no longer possible. To retreat upon the
province would be a confession of defeat. The passes of the Cevennes would
be swarming with enemies, and Labienus with his four legions in the west
might be cut off. With swift decision he marched day and night to the
Loire. He found a ford where the troops could cross with the water at
their armpits. He sent his horse over and cleared the banks. The army
passed safely. Food enough and in plenty was found in the Aeduans'
country, and without waiting he pressed on toward Sens to reunite his
forces. He understood the Gauls, and foresaw what must have happened.

Labienus, when sent on his separate command, had made Sens his head-
quarters. All down the Seine the country was in insurrection. Leaving the
new Italian levies at the station, he went with his experienced troops
down the left bank of the river till he came to the Essonne. He found the
Gauls entrenched on the other side, and, without attempting to force the
passage, he marched back to Melun, where he repaired a bridge which the
Gauls had broken, crossed over, and descended without interruption to
Paris. The town had been burnt, and the enemy were watching him from the
further bank. At this moment he heard of the retreat from Gergovia, and of
the rebellion of the Aedui. Such news, he understood at once, would be
followed by a rising in Belgium. Report had said that Caesar was falling
back on the province. He did not believe it. Caesar, he knew, would not
desert him. His own duty, therefore, was to make his way back to Sens. But
to leave the army of Gauls to accompany his retreat across the Seine, with
the tribes rising on all sides, was to expose himself to the certainty of
being intercepted. "In these sudden difficulties," says Caesar, "he took
counsel from the valor of his mind." [6] He had brought a fleet of
barges with him from Melun. These he sent down unperceived to a point at
the bend of the river four miles below Paris, and directed them to wait
for him there. When night fell he detached a few cohorts with orders to go
up the river with boats as if they were retreating, splashing their oars,
and making as much noise as possible. He himself with three legions stole
silently in the darkness to his barges, and passed over without being
observed. The Gauls, supposing the whole army to be in flight for Sens,
were breaking up their camp to follow in boisterous confusion. Labienus
fell upon them, telling the Romans to fight as if Caesar was present in
person; and the courage with which the Gauls fought in their surprise only
made the overthrow more complete. The insurrection in the north-west was
for the moment paralysed, and Labienus, secured by his ingenious and
brilliant victory, returned to his quarters without further accident.
There Caesar came to him as he expected, and the army was once more

Meanwhile the failure at Gergovia had kindled the enthusiasm of the
central districts into white-heat. The Aedui, the most powerful of all the
tribes, were now at one with their countrymen, and Bibracte became the
focus of the national army. The young Vercingetorix was elected sole
commander, and his plan, as before, was to starve the Romans out. Flying
bodies harassed the borders of the province, so that no reinforcements
could reach them from the south. Caesar, however, amidst his conquests had
the art of making staunch friends. What the province could not supply he
obtained from his allies across the Rhine, and he furnished himself with
bodies of German cavalry, which when mounted on Roman horses proved
invaluable. In the new form which the insurrection had assumed the Aedui
were the first to be attended to. Caesar advanced leisurely upon them,
through the high country at the rise of the Seine and the Marne, toward
Alesia, or Alice St. Reine. Vercingetorix watched him at ten miles'
distance. He supposed him to be making for the province, and his intention
was that Caesar should never reach it. The Celts at all times have been
fond of emphatic protestations. The young heroes swore a solemn oath that
they would not see wife or children or parents more till they had ridden
twice through the Roman army. In this mood they encountered Caesar in the
valley of the Vingeanne, a river which falls into the Saone, and they met
the fate which necessarily befell them when their ungovernable multitudes
engaged the legions in the open field. They were defeated with enormous
loss: not they riding through the Roman army, but themselves ridden over
and hewn down by the German horsemen and sent flying for fifty miles over
the hills into Alice St. Reine. Caesar followed close behind, driving
Vercingetorix under the lines of the fortress; and the siege of Alesia,
one of the most remarkable exploits in all military history, was at once

Alesia, like Gergovia, is on a hill sloping off all round, with steep and,
in places, precipitous sides. It lies between two small rivers, the Ose
and the Oserain, both of which fall into the Brenne, and thence into the
Seine. Into this peninsula, with the rivers on each side of him,
Vercingetorix had thrown himself with eighty thousand men. Alesia as a
position was impregnable except to famine. The water-supply was secure.
The position was of extraordinary strength. The rivers formed natural
trenches. Below the town to the east they ran parallel for three miles
through an open alluvial plain before they reached Brenne. In every other
direction rose rocky hills of equal height with the central plateau,
originally perhaps one wide table-land, through which the water had
ploughed out the valleys. To attack Vercingetorix where he had placed
himself was out of the question; but to blockade him there, to capture the
leader of the insurrection and his whole army, and so in one blow make an
end with it, on a survey of the situation seemed not impossible. The Gauls
had thought of nothing less than of being besieged. The provisions laid in
could not be considerable, and so enormous a multitude could not hold out
many days.

At once the legions were set to work cutting trenches or building walls as
the form of the ground allowed. Camps were formed at different spots, and
twenty-three strong block-houses at the points which were least
defensible. The lines where the circuit was completed were eleven miles
long. The part most exposed was the broad level meadow which spread out to
the west toward the Brenne river. Vercingetorix had looked on for a time,
not understanding what was happening to him. When he did understand it, he
made desperate efforts on his side to break the net before it closed about
him. But he could do nothing. The Gauls could not be brought to face the
Roman entrenchments. Their cavalry were cut to pieces by the German horse.
The only hope was in help from without, and before the lines were entirely
finished horsemen were sent out with orders to ride for their lives into
every district in Gaul and raise the entire nation. The crisis had come.
If the countrymen of Vercingetorix were worthy of their fathers, if the
enthusiasm with which they had risen for freedom was not a mere emotion,
but the expression of a real purpose, their young leader called on them to
come now, every man of them, and seize Caesar in the trap into which he
had betrayed himself. If, on the other hand, they were careless, if they
allowed him and his eighty thousand men to perish without an effort to
save them, the independence which they had ceased to deserve would be lost
forever. He had food, he bade the messengers say, for thirty days; by
thrifty management it might be made to last a few days longer. In thirty
days he should look for relief.

The horsemen sped away like the bearers of the fiery cross. Caesar learnt
from deserters that they had gone out, and understood the message which
they carried. Already he was besieging an army far outnumbering his own.
If he persevered, he knew that he might count with certainty on being
attacked by a second army immeasurably larger. But the time allowed for
the collection of so many men might serve also to prepare for their
reception. Vercingetorix said rightly that the Romans won their victories,
not by superior courage, but by superior science. The same power of
measuring the exact facts of the situation which determined Caesar to
raise the siege of Gergovia decided him to hold on at Alesia. He knew
exactly, to begin with, how long Vercingetorix could hold out. It was easy
for him to collect provisions within his lines which would feed his own
army a few days longer. Fortifications the same in kind as those which
prevented the besieged from breaking out would serve equally to keep the
assailants off. His plan was to make a second line of works--an exterior
line as well as an interior line; and as the extent to be defended would
thus be doubled, he made them of a peculiar construction, to enable one
man to do the work of two. There is no occasion to describe the rows of
ditches, dry and wet; the staked pitfalls; the cervi, pronged instruments
like the branching horns of a stag; the stimuli, barbed spikes
treacherously concealed to impale the unwary and hold him fast when
caught, with which the ground was sown in irregular rows; the vallus and
the lorica, and all the varied contrivances of Roman engineering genius.
Military students will read the particulars for themselves in Caesar's own
language. Enough that the work was done within the time, with the legions
in perfect good humor, and giving jesting names to the new instruments of
torture as Caesar invented them. Vercingetorix now and then burst out on
the working parties, but produced no effect. They knew what they were to
expect when the thirty days were out; but they knew their commander, and
had absolute confidence in his judgment.

Meanwhile, on all sides, the Gauls were responding to the call. From every
quarter, even from far-off parts of Belgium, horse and foot were streaming
along the roads. Commius of Arras, Caesar's old friend, who had gone with
him to Britain, was caught with the same frenzy, and was hastening among
the rest to help to end him. At last two hundred and fifty thousand of the
best fighting men that Gaul could produce had collected at the appointed
rendezvous, and advanced with the easy conviction that the mere impulse of
so mighty a force would sweep Caesar off the earth. They were late in
arriving. The thirty days had passed, and there were no signs of the
coming deliverers. Eager eyes were straining from the heights of the
plateau; but nothing was seen save the tents of the legions or the busy
units of men at work on the walls and trenches. Anxious debates were held
among the beleaguered chiefs. The faint-hearted wished to surrender before
they were starved. Others were in favor of a desperate effort to cut their
way through or die. One speech Caesar preserves for its remarkable and
frightful ferocity. A prince of Auvergne said that the Romans conquered to
enslave and beat down the laws and liberties of free nations under the
lictors' axes, and he proposed that sooner than yield they should kill and
eat those who were useless for fighting.

Vercingetorix was of noble nature. To prevent the adoption of so horrible
an expedient, he ordered the peaceful inhabitants, with their wives and
children, to leave the town. Caesar forbade them to pass his lines.
Cruel--but war is cruel; and where a garrison is to be reduced by famine
the laws of it are inexorable.

But the day of expected deliverance dawned at last. Five miles beyond the
Brenne the dust-clouds of the approaching host were seen, and then the
glitter of their lances and their waving pennons. They swam the river.
They filled the plain below the town. From the heights of Alesia the whole
scene lay spread under the feet of the besieged. Vercingetorix came down
on the slope to the edge of the first trench, prepared to cross when the
turn of battle should give him a chance to strike. Caesar sent out his
German horse, and stood himself watching from the spur of an adjoining
hill. The Gauls had brought innumerable archers with them. The horse
flinched slightly under the showers of arrows, and shouts of triumph rose
from the lines of the town; but the Germans rallied again, sent the
cavalry of the Gauls flying, and hewed down the unprotected archers.
Vercingetorix fell back sadly to his camp on the hill, and then for a day
there was a pause. The relieving army had little food with them, and, if
they acted at all, must act quickly. They spread over the country
collecting faggots to fill the trenches, and making ladders to storm the
walls. At midnight they began their assault on the lines in the plain; and
Vercingetorix, hearing by the cries that the work had begun, gave his own
signal for a general sally. The Roman arrangements had been completed long
before. Every man knew his post. The slings, the crossbows, the scorpions
were all at hand and in order. Mark Antony and Caius Trebonius had each a
flying division under them to carry help where the pressure was most
severe. The Gauls were caught on the cervi, impaled on the stimuli, and
fell in heaps under the bolts and balls which were poured from the walls.
They could make no impression, and fell back at daybreak beaten and
dispirited. Vercingetorix had been unable even to pass the moats and
trenches, and did not come into action till his friends had abandoned the

The Gauls had not yet taken advantage of their enormous numbers. Defeated
on the level ground, they next tried the heights. The Romans were
distributed in a ring now fourteen miles in extent. On the north side,
beyond the Ose, the works were incomplete, owing to the nature of the
ground, and their lines lay on the slope of the hills descending towards
the river. Sixty thousand picked men left the Gauls' camp before dawn;
they stole round by a distant route, and were allowed to rest concealed in
a valley till the middle of the day. At noon they came over the ridge at
the Romans' back; and they had the best of the position, being able to
attack from above. Their appearance was the signal for a general assault
on all sides, and for a determined sally by Vercingetorix from within.
Thus before, behind, and everywhere, the legions were assailed at the same
moment; and Caesar observes that the cries of battle in the rear are
always more trying to men than the fiercest onset upon them in front;
because what they cannot see they imagine more formidable than it is, and
they depend for their own safety on the courage of others.

Caesar had taken his stand where he could command the whole action. There
was no smoke in those engagements, and the scene was transparently
visible. Both sides felt that the deciding trial had come. In the plain
the Gauls made no more impression than on the preceding day. At the weak
point on the north the Romans were forced back down the slope, and could
not hold their positions. Caesar saw it, and sent Labienus with six
cohorts to their help. Vercingetorix had seen it also, and attacked the
interior lines at the same spot. Decimus Brutus was then despatched also,
and then Caius Fabius. Finally, when the fighting grew desperate, he left
his own station; he called up the reserves which had not yet been engaged,
and he rode across the field, conspicuous in his scarlet dress and with
his bare head, cheering on the men as he passed each point where they were
engaged, and hastening to the scene where the chief danger lay. He sent
round a few squadrons of horse to the back of the hills which the Gauls
had crossed in the morning. He himself joined Labienus. Wherever he went
he carried enthusiasm along with him. The legionaries flung away their
darts and rushed upon the enemy sword in hand. The cavalry appeared above
on the heights. The Gauls wavered, broke, and scattered. The German horse
were among them, hewing down the brave but now helpless patriots who had
come with such high hopes and had fought so gallantly. Out of the sixty
thousand that had sallied forth in the morning, all but a draggled remnant
lay dead on the hill-sides. Seventy-four standards were brought in to
Caesar. The besieged retired into Alice again in despair. The vast hosts
that were to have set them free melted away. In the morning they were
streaming over the country, making back for their homes, with Caesar's
cavalry behind them, cutting them down and capturing them in thousands.

The work was done. The most daring feat in the military annals of mankind
had been successfully accomplished. A Roman army which could not at the
utmost have amounted to fifty thousand men had held blockaded an army of
eighty thousand--not weak Asiatics, but European soldiers, as strong and
as brave individually as the Italians were; and they had defeated, beaten,
and annihilated another army which had come expecting to overwhelm them,
five times as large as their own.

Seeing that all was over, Vercingetorix called the chiefs about him. He
had gone into the war, he said, for no object of his own, but for the
liberty of his country. Fortune had gone against him; and he advised them
to make their peace, either by killing him and sending his head to the
conqueror or by delivering him up alive. A humble message of submission
was despatched to Caesar. He demanded an unconditional surrender, and the
Gauls, starving and hopeless, obeyed. The Roman general sat amidst the
works in front of the camp while the chiefs one by one were produced
before him. The brave Vercingetorix, as noble in his calamity as Caesar
himself in his success, was reserved to be shown in triumph to the
populace of Rome. The whole of his army were prisoners of war. The Aedui
and Arverni among them were set aside, and were dismissed after a short
detention for political reasons. The remainder were sold to the
contractors, and the proceeds were distributed as prize-money among the
legions. Caesar passed the winter at Bibracte, receiving the submission of
the chiefs of the Aedui and of the Auvergne. Wounds received in war soon
heal if gentle measures follow a victory. If tried by the manners of his
age, Caesar was the most merciful of conquerors. His high aim was, not to
enslave the Gauls, but to incorporate them in the Empire; to extend the
privileges of Roman citizens among them and among all the undegenerate
races of the European provinces. He punished no one. He was gracious and
considerate to all, and he so impressed the central tribes by his judgment
and his moderation that they served him faithfully in all his coming
troubles, and never more, even in the severest temptation, made an effort
to recover their independence.

[Sidenote B.C. 51.]
Much, however, remained to be done. The insurrection had shaken the whole
of Gaul. The distant tribes had all joined in it, either actively or by
sympathy; and the patriots who had seized the control, despairing of
pardon, thought their only hope was in keeping rebellion alive. During
winter they believed themselves secure. The Carnutes of the Eure and
Loire, under a new chief named Gutruatus,[7] and the Bituriges,
untaught by or savage at the fate of Bourges, were still defiant. When the
winter was at its deepest, Caesar suddenly appeared across the Loire. He
caught the country people unprepared, and captured them in their farms.
The swiftness of his marches baffled alike flight and resistance; he
crushed the whole district down, and he was again at his quarters in forty
days. As a reward to the men who had followed him so cheerfully in the
cold January campaign, he gave each private legionary 200 sesterces and
each centurion 2,000. Eighteen days' rest was all that he allowed himself,
and with fresh troops, and in storm and frost, he started for the
Carnutes. The rebels were to have no rest till they submitted. The
Bellovaci were now out also. The Remi alone of all the Gauls had continued
faithful in the rising of Vercingetorix. The Bellovaci, led by Commius of
Arras, were preparing to burn the territory of the Remi as a punishment.
Commius was not as guilty, perhaps, as he seemed. Labienus had suspected
him of intending mischief when he was on the Seine in the past summer, and
had tried to entrap and kill him. Anyway Caesar's first object was to show
the Gauls that no friends of Rome would be allowed to suffer. He invaded
Normandy; he swept the country. He drove the Bellovaci and the Carnutes to
collect in another great army to defend themselves; he set upon them with
his usual skill; and destroyed them. Commius escaped over the Rhine to
Germany. Gutruatus was taken. Caesar would have pardoned him; but the
legions were growing savage at these repeated and useless commotions, and
insisted on his execution. The poor wretch was flogged till he was
insensible, and his head was cut off by the lictor's axe.

All Gaul was now submissive, its spirit broken, and, as the event proved,
broken finally, except in the southwest. Eight years out of the ten of
Caesar's government had expired. In one corner of the country only the
dream still survived that, if the patriots could hold out till Caesar was
gone, Celtic liberty might yet have a chance of recovering itself. A
single tribe on the Dordogne, relying on the strength of a fortress in a
situation resembling that of Gergovia, persisted in resistance to the
Roman authority. The spirit of national independence is like a fire: so
long as a spark remains a conflagration can again be kindled, and Caesar
felt that he must trample out the last ember that was alive. Uxellodunum--
so the place was named--stood on an inaccessible rock, and was amply
provisioned. It could be taken only as Edinburgh Castle was once taken, by
cutting off its water; and the ingenious tunnel may still be seen by which
the Roman engineers tapped the spring supplied the garrison. They, too,
had then to yield, and the war in Gaul was over.

[Sidenote B.C. 50.]
The following winter Caesar spent at Arras. He wished to hand over his
conquests to his successor not only subdued, but reconciled, to
subjection. He invited the chiefs of all the tribes to come to him. He
spoke to them of the future which lay open to them as members of a
splendid Imperial State. He gave them magnificent presents. He laid no
impositions either on the leaders or their people, and they went to their
homes personally devoted to their conqueror, contented with their
condition, and resolved to maintain the peace which was now established--a
unique experience in political history. The Norman Conquest of England
alone in the least resembles it. In the spring of 50 Caesar went to Italy.
Strange things had happened meanwhile in Rome. So long as there was a hope
that Caesar would be destroyed by the insurrection, the ill-minded Senate
had waited to let the Gauls do the work for him. The chance was gone. He
had risen above his perils more brilliant than ever, and nothing now was
left to them but to defy and trample on him. Servius Galba, who was
favorable to Caesar, had stood for the consulship for 49, and had received
a majority of votes. The election was set aside. Two patricians, Lentulus
and Caius Marcellus, were declared chosen, and their avowed purpose was to
strip the conqueror of Gaul of his honors and rewards.[8] The people of
his own Cisalpine Province desired to show that they at least had no
sympathy with such envenomed animosities. In the colonies in Lombardy and
Venetia Caesar was received with the most passionate demonstrations of
affection. The towns were dressed out with flags and flowers. The
inhabitants crowded into the streets with their wives and children to look
at him as he passed. The altars smoked with offerings; the temples were
thronged with worshippers praying the immortal gods to bless the greatest
of the Romans. He had yet one more year to govern. After a brief stay he
rejoined his army. He spent the summer in organizing the administration of
the different districts and assigning his officers their various commands.
That he did not at this time contemplate any violent interference with the
Constitution may be proved by the distribution of his legions, which
remained stationed far away in Belgium and on the Loire.

[1] Above Orleans, on the Loire.

[2] Four miles from Clermont, on the Allier, in the Puy-de-Dome.

[3] "Extrema fames."--_De Bell. Gall_., vii. 17.

[4] "Summa se iniquitatis condemnari debere nisi eorum vitam sua salute
habeat cariorem."

[5] _De Bell. Gall_., vii. 33.

[6] "Tantis subito difficultatibus objectis ab animi virtute consilium

[7] Gudrund? The word has a German sound.

[8] "Insolenter adversarii sui gloriabantur L. Lentulum et C. Marcellum
consules creatos, qui omnem honorem et dignitatem Caesaris
exspoliarent. Ereptum Servio Galbae consulatum cum is multo plus
gratia, suffragiisque valuisset, quod sibi conjunctus et
familiaritate et necessitudine legationis esset."--_Auli Hirtii
De Bell. Gall_. viii. 50.


[Sidenote: B.C. 51.]
Crassus had been destroyed by the Parthians. The nomination of his
successor lay with the Senate, and the Senate gave a notable evidence of
their incapacity for selecting competent governors for the provinces by
appointing in his place Caesar's old colleague, Bibulus. In their whole
number there was no such fool as Bibulus. When he arrived in Syria he shut
himself into a fortified town, leaving the Parthians to plunder and burn
at their pleasure. Cicero mocked at him. The Senate thanked him for his
distinguished services. The few serious men in Rome thought that Caesar or
Pompey should be sent out;[1] or, if they could not be spared, at least
one of the consuls of the year--Sulpicius Rufus or Marcus Marcellus. But
the consuls were busy with home politics and did not wish to go, nor did
they wish that others should go and gather laurels instead of them.
Therefore nothing was done at all,[2] and Syria was left to fate and
Bibulus. The consuls and the aristocracy had, in fact, more serious
matters to attend to. Caesar's time was running out, and when it was over
he had been promised the consulship. That consulship the faction of the
conservatives had sworn that he should never hold. Cato was threatening
him with impeachment, blustering that he should be tried under a guard, as
Milo had been.[3] Marcellus was saying openly that he would call him
home in disgrace before his term was over. Como, one of the most thriving
towns in the north of Italy, had been enfranchised by Caesar. An eminent
citizen from Como happening to be at Rome, Marcellus publicly flogged him,
and bade him go back and tell his fellow-townsmen the value of Caesar's
gift to them, Cicero saw the folly of such actions;[4] but the
aristocracy were mad--mad with pride and conscious guilt and fear. The ten
years of Caesar's government would expire at the end of 49. The engagement
had been entered into that he was to see his term out with his army and to
return to Rome for 48--as consul. They remembered his first consulship and
what he had done with it, and the laws which he had passed--laws which
they could not repeal; yet how had they observed them? If he had been too
strong for them all when he was but one of themselves, scarcely known
beyond the Forum and senate-house, what would he do now, when he was
recognized as the greatest soldier which Rome had produced, the army, the
people, Italy, the provinces all adoring his name? Consul again he could
not, must not be. Yet how could it be prevented? It was useless now to
bribe the Comitia, to work with clubs and wire-pullers. The enfranchised
citizens would come to vote for Caesar from every country town. The
legionaries to a man would vote for him; and even in the venal city he was
the idol of the hour. No fault could be found with his administration. His
wars had paid their own expenses. He had doubled the pay of his troops,
but his military chest was still full, and his own wealth seemed
boundless. He was adorning the Forum with new and costly buildings.
Senators, knights, young men of rank who had been extravagant, had been
relieved by his generosity and were his pensioners. Gaul might have been
impatient at its loss of liberty, but no word of complaint was heard
against Caesar for oppressive government. The more genius he had shown the
more formidable he was. Let him be consul, and he would be the master of
them all.

Caesar had been credited with far-reaching designs. It has been assumed
that in early life he had designed the overthrow of the Constitution; that
he pursued his purpose steadily through every stage in his career, and
that he sought the command of Gaul only to obtain an army devoted to him
which would execute his will. It has not seemed incredible that a man of
middle age undertook the conquest of a country of which nothing is known
save that it was inhabited by warlike races, who more than once had
threatened to overrun Italy and destroy Rome; that he went through ten
years of desperate fighting exposed to a thousand dangers from the sword,
from exposure and hardship; that for ten years he had banished himself
from Rome, uncertain whether he would ever see it again; and that he had
ventured upon all this with no other object than that of eventually
controlling domestic politics. A lunatic might have entertained such a
scheme, but not a Caesar. The Senate knew him. They knew what he had done.
They knew what he would now do, and for this reason they feared and hated
him. Caesar was a reformer. He had long seen that the Roman Constitution
was too narrow for the functions which had fallen to it, and that it was
degenerating into an instrument of tyranny and injustice. The courts of
law were corrupt; the elections wore corrupt. The administration of the
provinces was a scandal and a curse. The soil of Italy had become a
monopoly of capitalists, and the inhabitants of it a population of slaves.
He had exerted himself to stay the mischief at its fountain, to punish
bribery, to punish the rapacity of proconsuls and propraetors, to purify
the courts, to maintain respect for the law. He had endeavored to extend
the franchise, to raise the position of the liberated slaves, to replace
upon the land a free race of Roman citizens. The old Roman sentiment, the
consciousness of the greatness of the country and of its mighty destinies,
was chiefly now to be found in the armies. In the families of veteran
legionaries, spread in farms over Italy and the provinces, the national
spirit might revive; and, with a due share of political power conceded to
them, an enlarged and purified constituency might control the votes of the
venal populace of the city. These were Caesar's designs, so far as could
have been gathered from his earlier actions; but the manipulation of
elections, the miserable contests with disaffected colleagues and a
hostile Senate, were dreary occupations for such a man as he was. He was
conscious of powers which in so poor a sphere could find no expression. He
had ambition doubtless--plenty of it--ambition not to pass away without
leaving his mark on the history of his country. As a statesman he had done
the most which could be done when he was consul the first time, and he had
afterward sought a free field for his adventurous genius in a new country,
and in rounding off into security the frontiers of the 'Empire on the side
where danger was most threatening. The proudest self-confidence could not
have allowed him at his time of life to calculate on returning to Rome to
take up again the work of reformation.

But Cesar had conquered. He had made a name for himself as a soldier
before which the Scipios and the Luculluses, the Syllas and Pompeys paled
their glory. He was coming back to lay at his country's feet a province
larger than Spain--not subdued only, but reconciled to subjugation; a
nation of warriors, as much devoted to him as his own legions. The
aristocracy had watched his progress with the bitterest malignity. When he
was struggling with the last spasms of Gallic liberty, they had talked in
delighted whispers of his reported ruin.[5] But his genius had risen
above his difficulties and shone out more glorious than before. When the
war was over the Senate had been forced to vote twenty days of
thanksgiving. Twenty days were not enough for Roman, enthusiasm. The
people made them into sixty.

If Caesar came to Rome as consul, the Senate knew too well what it might
expect. What he had been before he would be again, but more severe as his
power was greater. Their own guilty hearts perhaps made them fear another
Marian proscription. Unless his command could be brought to an end in some
far different form, their days of power were numbered, and the days of
inquiry and punishment would begin.


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