Page 0873



trophies and statues of Marius. Then it was that the old democratic

soldiers came from their retreats, surrounded the effigy of their great

leader, and wept for joy at seeing again openly displayed the emblems of

their day of glory. In his personal affairs Caesar was equally reckless,

prodigal, audacious, even dissipated. He spent his means and borrowed and

went in debt until he was burdened with obligations amounting to a sum

equal to a million and a quarter of dollars. He spread tables public and

private the like of which had never before been seen in the Eternal City.

He equipped in silver armor three hundred pairs of gladiators and sent them

into the arena for the delectation of the people. By every variety of

expenditure and invention, as well as by real magnanimity of purpose, he

sought to arouse the enthusiasm and admiration of his countrymen. Whatever

great natural genius, brilliant wit, profound insight, refinement, culture,

and a certain splendor of vice could do to fascinate the multitude and to

wean them withal from the gloomy scenes and calamities of the past, that

Caesar studiously exhibited in his life and manners and official conduct.

After the expiration of his term as aedile the ambitious Julius next sought

the office of pontifex maximus, recently made vacant by the death of

Catulus. In this purpose he was hotly opposed by some of the most eminent

men of Rome. It is related that on the morning of the election he said to

his mother, "Today I shall be either pontifex or a dead Roman." He was

triumphantly elected, receiving from the tribes of his opponents more votes

than they did themselves. The result showed conclusively that a new master

had appeared whom in popular esteem not even Pompeius himself could long

hope to eclipse.

At the age of forty Caesar was still a mere tyro in the field. As a

soldier-much less as a commander-he had no reputation except what he had

won by acts of personal bravery at the siege of Mitylene. It was a late

beginning for a military hero. He had already made himself prematurely bald

by his reckless life at the capital. He was pale, lean, slender; shaken

somewhat by the too early and too frequent gratification of passion;

subject to epilepsy. From this time forth, however, he became a changed

man; and during the remaining seventeen years of his life displayed such a

series of amazing and rational activities as have never been equaled except

by Napoleon Bonaparte.

At the expiration of his praetorship (B. C. 62) Caesar was assigned to

Spain. It is said that at this time Crassus was his security for five

millions of dollars. Now it was that the lightning of his genius began to

flash. The multifarious forces of his mind could never be sufficiently

occupied. He read, wrote, spoke, discussed affairs, cogitated, dictated to

seven amanuenses at a time, swam rivers, slept out of doors, defied the

dank morass and the snow blast of winter; ate hard bread, shared the lot of

his soldiers, heaped up through sleepless nights the glowing embers of his

ambition. Meanwhile Crassus and Pompeius eyed each other askance, and the

moribund Senate croaked out its jealousy at both.

In the rivalry of the two leaders just mentioned Caesar saw his golden

opportunity. Instead of inciting them the one against the other, he

conceived the idea of effecting a reconciliation between them which should

be used to his own advantage. He now had in view the consulship, and he

knew that with the united support of Pompeius and Crassus he could easily

obtain the prize. In the face of such a combination the opposition of the

Senate would be little less than ridiculous. In the furtherance of this

object he was completely successful. Crassus and Pompeius were reconciled,

and between them and Caesar, under the guiding hand of the latter, was

formed that great coalition known as the First Triumvirate. The popularity

of Pompeius and the money of Crassus were both subordinated to the end of

Caesar's consulship. He was elected in B. C. 59, with Marcus Bibulus, an

Optimate blockhead, for a colleague.

This was just to Caesar's liking. Bibulus