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.