Page 0896

896

UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

began to take counsel with those who had struck down the impersonation of

the state. As soon as it was known that Caesar was slain there were stormy

scenes in the capital. The populace rolled in unsteady masses from side to

side. The sea beds of Rome were shaken as by an earthquake. There was no

uprising in favor of the conspirators. Here and there solitary cries of the

old aristocrats could be heard in cheerless applause like the notes of ill-

voiced birds crying out of the shadows of the past. The assassins of Caesar

had to seek refuge in the Capitol; but through the agency of Cicero a

conference was presently held and a reconciliation effected. It was agreed

that there should be no more bloodshed and an amnesty for all past

offenses. Meanwhile Antonius had obtained possession of Caesar's will and

estate, and awaited the opportunity which was to make all things even.

The opportunity soon came. Antonius was appointed to deliver the funeral

oration over the body of Caesar. He took advantage of the occasion, and

produced a marvelous discourse, in which genuine praise of the virtues of

the great dead was adroitly interwoven with ironical concessions to the

virtues of his murderers. A waxen effigy of the body of the illustrious

hero, with its twenty-three gaping wounds, was shown to the people under

the glare of tapers. Finally Antonius read Caesar's will, in which many of

the conspirators were remembered with legacies! The Imperator's gardens

beyond the Tiber were bequeathed to the people, and every citizen was to

receive three hundred sesterces! The effect of this disclosure of Caesar's

benevolent purposes was tremendous. The inflammable multitude took fire.

The storm of reaction swept every thing before it. The conspirators'

houses were burned and themselves driven from the city. Brutus and Cassius

were glad to escape with their lives.

In the mean time all of Caesar's acts had been confirmed by the Senate. The

world can murder the doer, but can not undo the deed! A transformation had

been effected which could not be transfixed with a dagger. Antonius was

master of the city. Lepidus commanded the army. Young Caius Octavius, son

of the daughter of Caesar's sister, had been recognized as his heir; and

the word heir might already have been rendered "successor."