Page 0882

882

UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

there was neither virtue nor patriotism in performing a dance around the

body of death and singing hymns to the gods of the Past, he determined to

gird himself for the inevitable, and commit himself to his destiny. He

accordingly proceeded to strengthen himself in the North by extending the

rights of the Gauls, and lightening their burdens. At the same time he took

care that nothing should bedim his fame in the capital. Near the spot

formerly occupied by the Senate House he erected a palace known as the

Julian Basilica. He instituted at his own expense-for he was now grown

rich-splendid games and festivals, and left unused no means which money

could procure to baffle the designs of his enemies.

At last, in B. C. 50, a measure was introduced by Caius Marcellus,

requiring that Caesar, though his term of office had not yet expired,

should resign his command. When the resolution was presented to the

assembly Tribonius Curio, one of the tribunes, ardently attached to the

Caesarian cause, seconded the motion on condition that the provision should

be extended to Pompeius also. To this, of course, the adherents of Pompeius

could not well agree, and their refusal to agree meant civil war and

revolution. Cicero, who by his spirit of compromise and commanding

abilities, though not by his political steadfastness, was the Henry Clay of

the tottering Republic, was now governor of Cilicia, having been purposely

sent by the Pompeians to that distant trust to destroy his influence at the

capital. So the winds were left to blow, while one thunder cloud rose from

the horizon of Cisalpine Gaul, and another hovered over Rome.

Notwithstanding the superficial supremacy of the Pompeian party, there was

in Rome- even in the Senate-a tremendous underflow of sentiment against it.

The senators well remembered that Pompeius was but a recent convert from

the popular party, and they distrusted him. They were willing to use him in

maintaining their crumbling prerogatives, but wished to free themselves

from his domination. These dispositions were clearly manifested when

Curio's resolution to include Pompeius with Caesar came to a final vote.

The amendment was adopted by a majority of three hundred and fifty

concurros in a vote of three hundred and ninety. (1) So the measure was

passed requiring Pompeius as well as Caesar to lay down his command. The

consul Marcellus, however, seeing that this resolution would by giving an

equal chance to the two rivals at the bar of public opinion prove the ruin

of the Pompeians as well as of their leader, refused to publish the decree.

He even went further, and directed Pompeius to call out the troops and

defend the city; for he had already circulated the false report that Caesar

was marching on Rome. The latter had in the meantime been deprived of two

of his legions by a fraud of the Optimates. Under the pretense of sending a

reinforcement to Syria, they had procured the passage of a resolution

requiring Pompeius and Caesar each to surrender a legion for the war in the

East. During the Gallic insurrection Caesar had been under the necessity of

borrowing a legion from his colleague, so that both the required legions

were now drawn from Caesar's command, and none at all from that of

Pompeius. Then, as soon as the legions were brought down from the North-for

Caesar cheerfully complied with the order of the Senate-they were stationed

at Capua, and Syria was left to take care of herself. It was an adroit

maneuver to weaken the proconsul of Gaul.

The crisis was now at hand. When the decree of the Senate was borne to

Caesar he expressed his entire readiness to resign his command if Pompeius

would also comply with the law and do the same. (2) He sent this, his

determination, to the Senate, as an ultimatum, by the hands of Curio, who

had fled for safety ___________________________ 1 When a Roman senator was

called for his vote, he arose and said, concurro (I concur), or non

concurro (I dissent), according to his views or interests.

_______________________________ 2 Here was the gist of the whole question.

The party of the aristocracy had determined that Caesar should be

suppressed. They had determined to destroy him. He knew it. All Rome knew

it. In order to succeed, they must deprive him of his command. Pompeius

held his office by a tenure not one whit more constitutional than did

Caesar. The proposition of Curio, though adroit, was fair. It was shrewd,

but honorable. It was politic, but legal; cunning, but right.