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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David


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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David





Rome From The Death Of Sulla To The Great Civil Wars Of Caesar And Pompey








On the death of Sulla, the Roman government was once more in the hands of
the aristocracy, and for several years the consuls were elected from the
great ruling families. But, in spite of all the conquests of Sulla and all
his laws, the State was tumbling into anarchy, and was convulsed with
fresh wars.

Sulla was alive when M. Lepidus came forward as the leader of the
democratic party against C. Lutatius Catulus--a man without character or
ability, who had deserted from the optimates to the popular party, to
escape prosecution for the plunder of Sicily. The fortune he acquired in
his government of that province enabled Lepidus to secure his election as
consul, B.C. 78, and he even attempted to deprive Sulla of his funeral
honors. A conspiracy was organized in Etruria, where the Sullan
confiscation had been most severe. Lepidus came forward as an avenger of
the old Romans whose fortunes had been ruined. The Senate, fearing
convulsions, made Lepidus and Catulus, the consuls, swear not to take up
arms against each other; but at the expiration of the consulship of
Lepidus, went, as was usual, to the province assigned to him. This was
Gaul, and here the war first broke out. An attempt on Rome was frustrated
by Catulus, who defeated Lepidus, and the latter soon died in Sardinia,
whither he had retired.

Sertorius was then in command of the army in Spain,--a man who had
risen from an obscure position, but who possessed the hardy virtues of the
old Sabine farmers. He served under Marius in Gaul, and was praetor when
Sulla returned to Italy. When the cause of Marius was lost in Africa, he
organized a resistance to Sulla in Spain. His army was re-enforced by
Marian refugees, and he was aided by the Iberian tribes, among whom he was
a favorite. For eight years this celebrated hero baffled the armies which
Rome, under the lead of the aristocracy, sent against him, for he
undertook to restore the cause of the democracy.

Against Sertorius was sent the man who, next to Caesar, was destined
to play the most important part in the history of those times--Cn.
Pompeius, born the same year as Cicero, B.C. 106, who had enlisted in the
cause of Sulla, and early distinguished himself against the generals of
Marius. He gained great successes in Sicily and Africa, and was, on his
return to Rome, saluted by the dictator Sulla himself with the name of
Magnus, which title he ever afterward bore. He was then a simple
equestrian, and had not risen to the rank of quaestor, or praetor, or
consul. Yet he had, at the early age of twenty-four, without enjoying any
curule office, the honor of a triumph, even against the opposition of
Sulla.

Pompey was sent to Spain with the title of proconsul, and with an
army of thirty thousand men. He crossed the Alps between the sources of
the Rhone and Po, and advanced to the southern coast of Spain. Here he was
met by Sertorius, and at first was worsted. I need not detail the varied
events of this war in Spain. The Spaniards at length grew weary of a
contest which was not to their benefit, but which was carried on in behalf
of rival factions at the capital. Dissensions broke out among the officers
of Sertorius, and he was killed at a banquet by Perpenna, his lieutenant.
On the death of the only man capable of resisting the aristocracy of Rome,
and whose virtues were worthy of the ancient heroes, the progress of
Pompey was easy. Perpenna was taken prisoner and his army was dispersed,
and Spain was reduced to obedience.

In the mean time, while Pompey was fighting Sertorius in Spain, a
servile war broke out in Italy, produced in part by the immense demand of
slaves for the gladiatorial shows. One of these slaves, Spartacus, once a
Thracian captain of banditti, escaped with seventy comrades to the crater
of Vesuvius, and organized an insurrection, and he was soon at the head of
one hundred thousand of those wretched captives whose condition was
unendurable. Italy was ravaged from the Alps to the Straits of Messina. No
Roman general, then in Italy, was equal to the task of subduing them. But,
in the second year of the war, Crassus, who was a great proprietor of
slaves, and who had ably served under Sulla, undertook the task of
subduing the insurrectionary slaves. With six legions he drove them to the
extremity of the Bruttian peninsula, and shut them up in Rhegium by strong
lines of circumvallation. Spartacus was killed, after having broken
through the lines, and most of his followers were destroyed; but six
thousand escaped into Cisalpine Gaul, as the northern part of Italy was
then called, and met Pompey on his victorious return from Spain, by whom
they were utterly annihilated. Pompey claimed the merit of ending the
servile war, and sought the honor of the consulship, although ineligible.
Crassus, also ineligible, also demanded the consulship, and both these
lieutenants of Sulla obtained their ends. But both, in order to obtain the
consulship, made great promises. Pompey, in particular, promised to
restore the tribunitian power. Pompey now broke with the aristocracy,
whose champion he had been, and even carried another law by which the
judices were taken from the equites as well as the Senate. Thus was the
constitution of Sulla subverted within ten years. In this movement Pompey
was supported by Julius Caesar, who was a young man of thirty years of age.

On the expiration of his consulship, Pompey remained inactive,
refusing a province, until the troubles with the Mediterranean pirates
again called him into active military service. These pirates swarmed on
every coast, plundering cities, and cutting off communication between Rome
and the provinces. They especially attacked the corn vessels, so that the
price of provisions rose inordinately. The people, in distress, turned
their eyes to Pompey; but he was not willing to accept any ordinary
command, and through his intrigues, his tool, the tribune Gabinius,
proposed that the people should elect a man for this service of consular
rank, who should have absolute power for three years over the whole of the
Mediterranean, and to a distance of fifty miles inward from the coast, and
who should command a fleet of two hundred ships. He did not name Pompey,
but everybody knew who was meant. The people, furious at the price of
corn, and full of admiration for the victories of Pompey, were ready to
appoint him; the Senate, alarmed and jealous, was equally determined to
prevent his appointment. Tumults and riots were the consequence. Pompey
affected to desire some other person for the command but himself; but the
law passed, in spite of the opposition of the Senate, and Pompey was
commissioned to prepare five hundred ships, enlist one hundred and twenty
thousand sailors and soldiers, and also to take from the public treasury
whatever sum he needed.

In the following spring his preparations were made, and in forty days he
cleared the western half of the Mediterranean from the pirates, and drove
them to the Cilician coast. Here he gained a great victory over their
united fleets, and took twenty thousand prisoners, whom he settled at
various points on the coasts, and returned home in forty-nine days after
he had sailed from Brundusium. In less than three months he had ended the
war.

This great success led to his command against Mithridates, who had
again rallied his forces for one more decisive and desperate struggle with
the Romans. Asia rallied against Europe, as Europe rallied against Asia in
the crusades. Mithridates, after his defeat by Sulla, had retired to
Armenia to the court of his son-in-law, Tigranes, whose power was greater
than that of any other Oriental potentate. Tigranes was not at first
inclined to break with Rome, but (B.C. 70) he consented to the war, which
continued for seven years without decisive results. The Romans were
commanded by Lucullus, the old lieutenant of Sulla, and although his
labors were not appreciated at Rome, he broke really the power of
Mithridates. But, through the intrigues of Pompey and his friends, he was
recalled, and Pompey was commissioned, with the extraordinary power of
unlimited control of the Eastern army and fleet, and the rights of
proconsul over the whole of Asia. He already had the dominion of the
Mediterranean. The Senate opposed this dangerous precedent, but it was
carried by the people, who could not heap too many honors on their
favorite. Cicero, then forty years of age, with Caesar, supported the
measure, which was opposed by Hortensius and Catulus.

Lucullus retired to his luxurious villa to squander the riches he
had accumulated in Asia, and to study the academic philosophy, while
Pompey pursued his conquests in the East over foes already broken and
humiliated. He showed considerable ability, and drove Mithridates from
post to post in the heart of his dominion. The Eastern monarch made
overtures of peace, which were rejected. Nothing but unconditional
surrender would be accepted. His army was finally cut to pieces, and the
old man escaped only with a few horsemen. Rejected by Tigranes, he made
his way to the Cimmerian Bosphorus, which was his last retreat. Pompey
then turned his attention to Armenia, and Tigranes threw himself upon his
mercy, at the cost of all his territories but Armenia Proper. Pompey then
resumed the pursuit of Mithridates, fighting his way though the mountains
of Iberia and Albania, but he did not pursue his foe over the Caucasus.
Mithridates, secure in the Crimea, then planned a daring attempt on Rome
herself, which was to march round the Euxine and up the Danube, collecting
in his train the Sarmatians, Gaetae, and other barbarians, cross the Alps,
and descend upon Italy. His kingdom of Pontus was already lost, and had
been made a Roman province. His followers, however, became disaffected,
his son Pharnaces rebelled, and he had no other remedy than suicide to
escape capture. He died B.C. 63, after a reign of fifty-three years, in
the sixty-ninth year of his age--the greatest Eastern prince since Cyrus.
Racine has painted him in one of his dramas as one of the most heroic men
of the world. But it was his misfortune to contend with Rome in the
plenitude of her power.

Pompey, before the death of Mithridates, went to Syria to regulate
its affairs, it being ceded to Rome by Tigranes. After the defeat of
Tigranes by Lucullus, that kingdom, however, had been recovered by
Antiochus XIII., the last of the Seleucidae, who held a doubtful
sovereignty. He was, however, reduced by a legate of Pompey, and Syria
became a Roman province. The next year, Pompey advanced south, and
established the Roman supremacy in Phoenicia and Palestine, the latter
country being the seat of civil war between Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. It
was then that Jerusalem was taken by the Roman general, after a siege of
three months, and the conqueror entered the most sacred precincts of the
temple, to the horror of the priesthood. He established Hyrcanus as high
priest, as has been already related, and then retired to Pontus, settled
its affairs, and departed with his army for Italy, having won a succession
of victories never equaled in the East, except by Alexander. And never did
victories receive such great eclat, which, however, were easily won, as
those of Alexander had been. No Asiatic foe was a match for either Greeks
or Romans in the field. The real difficulties were in marches, in
penetrating mountain passes, in crossing arid plains.

But before the conqueror of Asia received the reward of his great
services to the State--the most splendid triumph which had as yet been seen
on the Via Sacra--Rome was brought to the verge of ruin by the conspiracy
of Catiline. The departure of Pompey to punish the pirates of the
Mediterranean and conquer Mithridates, left the field clear to the two
greatest men of their age, Cicero and Caesar. It was while Cicero was
consul that the conspiracy was detected.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, the most accomplished man, on the whole, in
Roman annals, and as immortal as Caesar himself, was born B.C. 106, near
Arpinum, of an equestrian, but not senatorial family. He received a good
education, received the manly gown at sixteen, and entered the forum to
hear the debates, but pursued his studies with great assiduity. He was
intrusted by his wealthy father to the care of the augur, Q. Mucius
Scaevola, an old lawyer deeply read in the constitution of his country and
the principles of jurisprudence. At eighteen he served his first and only
campaign under the father of the great Pompey, in the social war. He was
twenty-four before he made a figure in the eye of the public, keeping
aloof from the fierce struggles of Marius and Sulla, identifying himself
with neither party, and devoted only to the cultivation of his mind,
studying philosophy and rhetoric as well as law, traveling over Sicily and
Greece, and preparing himself for a forensic orator. At twenty-five he
appeared in the forum as a public pleader, and boldly defended the
oppressed and injured, and even braved the anger of Sulla, then
all-powerful as dictator. At twenty-seven he again repaired to Athens for
greater culture, and extensively traveled in Asia Minor, holding converse
with the most eminent scholars and philosophers in the Grecian cities. At
twenty-nine he returned to Rome, improved in health as well as in those
arts which contributed to his unrivaled fame as an orator--a rival with
Hortensius and Cotta, the leaders of the Roman bar. At thirty he was
elected quaestor, not, as was usually the case, by family interest, but
from his great reputation as a lawyer. The duties of his office called him
to Sicily, under the praetor of Lilybaeum, which he admirably discharged,
showing not only executive ability, but rare virtue and impartiality. The
vanity which dimmed the lustre of his glorious name, and which he never
exorcised, received a severe wound on his return to Italy. He imagined he
was the observed of all observers, but soon discovered that his gay and
fashionable friends were ignorant, not only of what he had done in Sicily
but of his administration at all.

For the next four years he was absorbed in private studies, and in
the courts of law, at the end of which he became aedile, the year that
Verres was impeached for misgovernment in Sicily. This was the most
celebrated State trial for impeachment on record, with the exception,
perhaps, of that of Warren Hastings. But Cicero, who was the public
accuser and prosecutor, was more fortunate than Burke. He collected such
an overwhelming mass of evidence against this corrupt governor, that he
went into exile without making a defense, although defended by Hortensius,
consul elect. The speech which the orator was to have made at the trial
was subsequently published by Cicero, and is one of the most eloquent
tirades against public corruption ever composed or uttered.

Nothing of especial interest marked the career of this great man
for three more years, until B.C. 67 he was elected first praetor, or
supreme judge, an office for which he was supremely qualified. But it was
not merely civic cases which he decided. He appeared as a political
speaker, and delivered from the rostrum his celebrated speech on the
Manilian laws, maintaining the cause of Pompey when he departed from the
policy of the aristocracy. He had now gained by pure merit, in a corrupt
age, without family influence, the highest offices of the State, even as
Burke became the leader of the House of Commons without aristocratic
connections, and now naturally aspired to the consulship,--the great prize
which every ambitious man sought, but which, in the aristocratic age of
Roman history, was rarely conferred except on members of the ruling
houses, or very eminent success in war. By the friendship of Pompey, and
also from the general admiration which his splendid talents and
attainments commanded, this great prize was also secured. He had six
illustrious competitors, among whom were Antonius and Catiline, who were
assisted by Crassus and Caesar. As consul, all the energies of his mind and
character were absorbed in baffling the treason of this eminent patrician
demagogue. L. Sergius Catiline was one of those wicked, unscrupulous,
intriguing, popular, abandoned and intellectual scoundrels that a corrupt
age and patrician misrule brought to the surface of society, aided by the
degenerate nobles to whose class he belonged. In the bitterness of his
political disappointments, headed off by Cicero at every turn, he
meditated the complete overthrow of the Roman constitution, and his own
elevation as chief of the State, and absolutely inaugurated rebellion.
Cicero, who was in danger of assassination, boldly laid the conspiracy
before the Senate, and secured the arrest of many of his chief
confederates. Catiline fled and assembled his followers, which numbered
twelve thousand desperate men, and fought with the courage of despair, but
was defeated and slain.

Had it not been for the vigilance, energy, and patriotism of Cicero, it is
possible this atrocious conspiracy would have succeeded. The state of
society was completely demoralized; the disbanded soldiers of the Eastern
wars had spent their money and wanted spoils; the Senate was timid and
inefficient, and an unscrupulous and able leader, at the head of
discontented factions, on the assassination of the consuls and the
virtuous men who remained in power, might have bid defiance to any force
which could then, in the absence of Pompey in the East, have been
marshaled against him.

But the State was saved, and saved by a patriotic statesman who
had arisen by force of genius and character to the supreme power. The
gratitude of the people was unbounded. Men of all ranks hailed him as the
savior of his country; thanksgivings to the gods were voted in his name,
and all Italy joined in enthusiastic praises.

But he had now reached the culminating height of his political
greatness, and his subsequent career was one of sorrow and disappointment.
Intoxicated by his elevation,--for it was unprecedented at Rome, in his
day, for a man to rise so high by mere force of eloquence and learning,
without fortune, or family, or military exploits,--he became conceited and
vain. In the civil troubles which succeeded the return of Pompey, he was
banished from the country he had saved, and there is nothing more pitiful
than his lamentations and miseries while in exile. His fall was natural.
He had opposed the demoralising current which swept every thing before it.
When his office of consul was ended, he was exposed to the hatred of the
senators whom he had humiliated, of the equites whose unreasonable demands
he had opposed, of the people whom he disdained to flatter, and of the
triumvirs whose usurpation he detested. No one was powerful enough to
screen him from these combined hostilities, except the very men who aimed
at the subversion of Roman liberties, and who wished him out of the way;
his friend Pompey showed a mean, pusillanimous, and calculating
selfishness, and neither Crassus nor Caesar liked him. But in his latter
days, part of which were passed in exile, and all without political
consideration, he found time to compose those eloquent treatises on almost
every subject, for which his memory will be held in reverence. Unlike
Bacon, he committed no crime against the laws; yet, like him, fell from
his high estate in the convulsions of a revolutionary age, and as Bacon
soothed his declining years with the charms of literature and philosophy,
so did Cicero display in his writings the result of long years of study,
and unfold for remotest generations the treasures of Greek and Roman
wisdom, ornamented, too, by that exquisite style, which, of itself, would
have given him immortality as one of the great artists of the world. He
lived to see the utter wreck of Roman liberties, and was ultimately
executed by order of Antonius, in revenge for those bitter philippics
which the orator had launched against him before the descending sun of his
political glory had finally disappeared in the gloom and darkness of
revolutionary miseries.

But we resume the thread of political history in those tangled
times. Cicero was at the highest of his fame and power when Pompey
returned from his Asiatic conquests, the great hero of his age, on whom
all eyes were fixed, and to whom all bent the knee of homage and
admiration. His triumph, at the age of forty-five, was the grandest ever
seen. It lasted two days. Three hundred and twenty-four captive princes
walked before his triumphal car, followed by spoils and emblems of a war
which saw the reduction of one thousand fortresses. The enormous sum of
twenty thousand talents was added to the public treasury.

Pompey was, however, greater in war than in peace. Had he known
how to make use of his prestige and his advantages, he might have
henceforth reigned without a rival. He was not sufficiently noble and
generous to live without making grave mistakes and alienating some of his
greatest friends, nor was he sufficiently bad and unscrupulous to abuse
his military supremacy. He pursued a middle course, envious of all talent,
absorbed in his own greatness, vain, pompous, and vacillating. His
quarrels with Crassus and Lucullus severed him from the aristocratic
party, whose leader he properly was. His haughtiness and coldness
alienated the affections of the people, through whom he could only advance
to supreme dominion. He had neither the arts of a demagogue, nor the
magnanimity of a conqueror.

It was at this crisis that Caesar returned from Spain as the
conqueror of the Lusitanians. Caius Julius Caesar belonged to the ancient
patrician family of the Julii, and was born B.C. 100, and was six years
younger than Pompey and Cicero. But he was closely connected with the
popular party by the marriage of his aunt Julia with the great Marius, and
his marriage with Cornelia, the daughter of Cinna, one of the chief
opponents of Sulla. He early served in the army of the East, but devoted
his earliest years to the art of oratory. His affable manners and
unbounded liberality made him popular with the people. He obtained the
quaestorship at thirty-two, the year he lost his wife, and went as quaestor
to Antistius Vetus, into the province of Further Spain. On his return, the
following year, he married Pompeia, the granddaughter of Sulla, of the
Cornelia gens, and formed a union with Pompey. By his family connections
he obtained the curule aedileship at the age of thirty-five, and surpassed
his predecessors in the extravagance of his shows and entertainments, the
money for which he borrowed. At thirty-seven he was elected Pontifex
Maximus, so great was his popularity, and the following year he obtained
the praetorship, B.C. 62, and on the expiration of his office he obtained
the province of Further Spain. His debts were so enormous that he applied
for aid to Crassus, the richest man in Rome, and readily obtained the loan
he sought. In Spain, with an army at his command, he gained brilliant
victories over the Lusitanians, and returned to Rome enriched, and sought
the consulship. To obtain this, he relinquished the customary triumph,
and, with the aid of Pompey, secured his election, and entered into that
close alliance with Pompey and Crassus which historians call the first
triumvirate. It was merely a private agreement between the three most
powerful men of Rome to support each other, and not a distinct magistracy.

As consul, Caesar threw his influence against the aristocracy, to
whose ranks he belonged, both by birth and office, and caused an agrarian
law to be passed, against the fiercest opposition of the Senate, by which
the rich Campanian lands were divided for the benefit of the poorest
citizens--a good measure, perhaps, but which brought him forward as the
champion of the people. He next gained over the equites, by relieving
them, by a law which he caused to be passed, of one-third of the sum they
had agreed to pay for the farming of the taxes of Asia. He secured the
favor of Pompey by causing all his acts in the East to be confirmed. At
the expiration of his consulship he obtained the province of Gaul, as the
fullest field for the development of his military talents, and the surest
way to climb to subsequent greatness. At this period Cicero went into
exile without waiting for his trial--that miserable period made memorable
for aristocratic broils and intrigues, and when Clodius, a reckless young
noble, entered into the house of the Pontifex Maximus, disguised as a
woman, in pursuit of a vile intrigue with Caesar's wife.

The succeeding nine years of Caesar's life were occupied by the
subjugation of Gaul. In the first campaign he subdued the Helvetii, and
conquered Ariovistus, a powerful German chieftain. In the second campaign
he opposed a confederation of Belgic tribes--the most warlike of all the
Gauls, who had collected a force of three hundred thousand men, and
signally defeated them, for which victories the Senate decreed a public
thanksgiving of fifteen days. That given in Pompey's honor, after the
Mithridatic war, had lasted but ten. At this time he made a renewed
compact with Pompey and Crassus, by which Pompey was to have the two
Spains for his province, Crassus that of Syria, and he himself should have
a prolonged government in Gaul for five years more. The combined influence
of these men was enough to secure the elections, and the year following
Crassus and Pompey were made consuls. Caesar had to resist powerful
confederations of the Gauls, and in order to strike terror among them, in
the fourth year of the war, invaded Britain. But I can not describe the
various campaigns of Caesar in Gaul and Britain without going into details
hard to be understood--his brilliant victories over enemies of vastly
greater numbers, his marchings and countermarchings, his difficulties and
dangers, his inventive genius, his strategic talents, his boundless
resources, his command over his soldiers and their idolatry, until, after
nine years, Gaul was subdued and added to the Roman provinces. During his
long absence from Rome his interests were guarded by the tribune Curio,
and Marcus Antonius, the future triumvir. During this time Crassus had
ingloriously conducted a distant war in Parthia, in quest of fame and
riches, and was killed by an unknown hand after a disgraceful defeat. This
avaricious patrician must not be confounded with the celebrated orator, of
a preceding age, who was so celebrated for his elegance and luxury.

Affairs at Rome had also taken a turn which indicated a rupture with Caesar
and Pompey, now left, by the death of Crassus, at the head of the State.
The brilliant victories of the former in Gaul were in everybody's mouth,
and the fame of the latter was being eclipsed. A serious rivalry between
these great generals began to show itself. The disturbances which also
broke out on the death of Clodius led to the appointment of Pompey as sole
consul, and all his acts as consul tended to consolidate his power. His
government in Spain was prolonged for five years more; he entered into
closer connections with the aristocracy, and prepared for a rupture with
his great rival, which had now become inevitable, as both grasped supreme
power. That struggle is now to be presented in the following chapter.





Next: The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Previous: The Mithridatic And Civil Wars



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