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Title: Ancient Rome - The Lives of Great Men
Author: Hamilton, Mary Agnes
Language: English
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  [Illustration: ROME AND THE TIBER]


  _The Lives of Great Men_

  told by


  Brutus and Tarquin · Lucretia · Mucius · Cloelia · Regulus
  Marcus Curtius · Coriolanus · Volumnia · Pyrrhus
  Fabricius · Hamilcar · Hannibal · Flaminius · Fabius
  Marcellus · The Scipios · The Gracchi · Cato · Marius
  Drusus · Sulla · Mithridates · Lucullus · Pompeius
  Crassus · Cicero · Caesar


  London   Edinburgh   Glasgow   Copenhagen
  New York   Toronto   Melbourne   Cape Town
  Bombay   Calcutta   Madras   Shanghai

  Humphrey Milford


CONTENTS [added by transcriber]

  I     INTRODUCTORY: The People and City of Rome
  II    The Early Heroes
  III   The Great Enemies of Rome
  IV    The Scipios
  V     The Gracchi
  VI    Cato the Censor
  VII   Caius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla
  VIII  The New Rome
  IX    Lucius Licinius Lucullus
  X     Cnaeus Pompeius
  XI    Marcus Licinius Crassus
  XII   Marcus Tullius Cicero
  XIII  Caius Julius Caesar


  Ruins of a Roman Town--Pompeii                                   1
  Rome and the Tiber                                               2
  The Hills round Horace’s Farm. From a drawing by E. Lear         5
  Lar, or Household God                                            7
  Etruscan Soldier. (British Museum)                              12
  Roman Legionary. (British Museum)                               13
  Lacus Curtius. Restored. (From C. Huelsen,
      _Das Forum Romanum_. Maglioni and Strini, Rome)             17
  Pyrrhus. (From a photograph by Richter & Co., Naples)           25
  The Desolation of Carthage To-day. (From a photograph
      by Prof. J. L. Myres)                                       30
  Carthaginian Priestess. (From _The Carthage of
      the Phoenicians_, by permission of Mr. W. Heinemann)        31
  Pictures from Pompeii of a Mimic Naval Battle               32, 33
  Great St. Bernard Pass. (From a photograph by F. J. Hall)       37
  Trasimene. (From a photograph by Alinari)                       40
  Helmet found on the Field of Cannae. (British Museum)           43
  A Coin of Victory                                               47
  Scipio Africanus                                                49
  Tragic and Comic Masks                                          58
  Costume. The Roman Toga. (British Museum)                       65
  Elaborate Lamp. To show the luxury of later times               69
  The Tomb of a Roman Family, to show simplicity of dress.
      (From a photograph by Alinari)                              74
  Ploughing. A Terra-cotta Group.
      (_Journal of Hellenic Studies_)                             75
  The Shrine of the Lar, from a House in Pompeii                  77
  The Aristocrat distributing Largesse; The Fisherman;
      The Rich Matron; The Shepherdess. (Capitoline Museum)     80-3
  Trophy of Victory. (Capitoline Museum)                          84
  Sulla, from a coin                                              89
  Mithridates, from a coin                                        92
  A Boar Hunt. (Capitoline Museum)                                96
  Scene from a tragedy. Terra-cotta relief                        97
  Cutler’s Forge and Cutler’s Shop. (From the gravestone
      of L. Cornelius Atimetus, a Roman Cutler)               98, 99
  Writing Materials. (British Museum)                            101
  Pompeius                                                       109
  A Vase in the shape of a Galley                                111
  A Triumph, from a relief of the Empire.
      (Capitoline Museum)                                        114
  A Roman Villa on the Coast                                     116
  A Thracian Gladiator                                           125
  Orodes the Parthian                                            128
  Cicero                                                         131
  Arpinum, Cicero’s birthplace.
      (From a photograph by Alinari)                             132
  Julius Caesar. (From a gem in the British Museum)              142
  Julius Caesar. (From a bust in the British Museum)             143
  Submission of Tribes, from a relief. (Capitoline Museum)       150
  Roman Legionary Helmet found in Britain. (British Museum)      151
  The Heights of Alesia                                          152
  Marcus Antonius, from a coin                                   153
  Cleopatra, from a coin                                         156
  A Roman Coin celebrating the Murder of Caesar                  157
  A Cinerary Urn                                                 159
  A Roman Water-carrier with his Water-skin on his Back          160

  from a drawing by E. Lear]



The People and City of Rome

More than two thousand years ago, at a time when the people in the
British Isles and in most parts of Western Europe were living the lives
of savages, occupied in fighting, hunting, and fishing, dwelling in rude
huts, clad in skins, ignorant of everything that we call civilization,
Rome was the centre of a world in many ways as civilized as ours is now,
over which the Roman people ruled. The men who dwelt in this one city,
built on seven hills on the banks of the river Tiber, gradually
conquered all Italy. Then they became masters of the lands round the
Mediterranean Sea: of Northern Africa and of Spain, of Greece, Egypt,
Asia Minor and the Near East, and of Western Europe. The greatness of
Rome and of the Roman people does not lie, however, in their conquests.
In the end their conquests ruined them. It lies in the character, mind,
and will of the Romans themselves.

In the history of the ancient world the Romans played the part that men
of our race have played in the history of the modern world. They knew,
as we claim to know, how to govern: how to govern themselves, and how to
govern other people. To this day much in our laws and in our system of
government bears a Roman stamp. They were great soldiers and could
conquer: they could also hold and keep their conquests and impress the
Roman stamp on all the peoples over whom they ruled. Their stamp is
still upon us. Much that belongs to our common life to-day comes to us
from them: in their day they lived a life not much unlike ours now. And
in many respects the Roman character was like the British. We can see
the faults of the Romans, if we cannot see our own; we can also see the
virtues. We can see, too--looking back at them over the distance of
time, judging them by their work and by what is left to us of their
writings--how the mixture of faults in their virtues explains the fall
as well as the rise of the great power of Rome.

  [Illustration: LAR, or Household God]

The Romans were men of action, not dreamers. They were more interested
in doing things than in understanding them. They were men of strong will
and cool mind, who looked out upon the world as they saw it and, for the
most part, did not wonder much about how and why it came to be there. It
was there for them to rule. That was what interested them. Ideas they
mostly got from other people, especially from the Greeks. When they had
got them they could use them and turn them to something of their own.
But they were not distracted by puzzling over ideas. Their religion was
that of a practical people. In the later days of Rome few educated men
believed in the gods. But all the ceremonies and festivals were
dedicated to them; and magnificent temples in their honour were erected
in which their spirits were supposed to dwell. In the old days every
Roman household had its particular images--the Lares and Penates which
the head of the family tended and guarded. Connected with this office
was the sacred authority of the head of the family--the paterfamilias.
His word was law for the members of the household. And the City of Rome
stood to its citizens in the place of the paterfamilias. The first laws
of a Roman’s life were his duty to his father and to the State. They had
an absolute claim on him for all that he could give. The Roman’s code of
honour, like the Englishman’s, rested on this sense of duty. A man must
be worthy of his ancestors and of Rome. His own life was short, and
without honour nothing; the life of Rome went on.

Courage, devotion to duty, strength of will, a great power of silence,
a sense of justice rather than any sympathy in his dealings with other
men: these were the characteristic Roman virtues. The Roman was proud:
he had a high idea of what was due from himself. This was the groundwork
out of which his other qualities grew, good and bad. Proud men are not
apt to understand the weakness of other people or to appreciate virtues
different from their own. The defects of the Romans were therefore
hardness, sometimes amounting to cruelty both in action and in
judgement; lack of imagination; a blindness to the things in life that
cannot be seen or measured. They were just rather than generous. They
trampled on the defeated and scorned what they could not understand.
They worshipped success and cared little for human suffering. About
this, however, they were honest. Sentimentalism was not a Roman vice,
nor hypocrisy. When great wealth poured into the city, after the Eastern
conquests of Lucullus and Pompeius, the simplicity of the old Roman life
was destroyed and men began to care for nothing but luxury, show, and
all the visible signs of power. They were quite open about it: they did
not pretend that they really cared for other things, or talk about the
‘burden of Empire’.

The heroes of Roman history are men of action. As they pass before us,
so far as we can see their faces, hear their voices, know their natures
from the stories recorded by those who wrote them down at the time or
later, these men stand out in many respects astonishingly like the men
of our own day, good and bad. Centuries of dust lie over them. Their
bones are crumbled to the dust. Yet in a sense they live still and move
among us. Between them and us there lie not only centuries but the great
tide of ruin that swept the ancient world away: destroyed it so that the
men who came after had to build the house of civilization, stone by
stone anew, from the foundation. The Roman world was blotted out by the
barbarians. For hundreds of years the kind of life men had lived in Rome
disappeared altogether and the very records of it seemed to be lost.
Gradually, bit by bit, the story has been pieced together, and the men
of two thousand years ago stand before us: we see them across the gulf.
The faces of those belonging to the earliest story of Rome are rather
dim. But they, too, help us to understand what the Romans were like. We
learn to know a people from the men it chooses as its heroes; about whom
fathers tell stories to their children. They show what are the deeds and
qualities they admire: what kind of men they are trying to be.


The Early Heroes

The oldest Roman stories give a description of the coming of the people
who afterwards inhabited the city, from across the seas. They tell of
the founding of the first township round the Seven Hills, and of the
kings, especially of the last seven, who ruled over the people until,
for their misdeeds, they were driven out and the very name of King
became hateful in Roman ears. Then there are many tales of the wars
between the people of Rome and the neighbours dwelling round them on the
plains of Latium and among the hills of Etruria and Samnium; and the
fierce battles fought against the Gauls who, from time to time, swept
down on Italy from the mountains of the north.

These stories do not tell us much that can be considered as actual
history. But they do help us to understand what the Romans wished to be
like, by showing us the sort of pictures they held up before themselves.

In later times the Romans learned to admire intensely all that came from
Greece. The Greeks had been a great ruling people when the Roman State
hardly existed: and from them much in Roman life and thought was
borrowed. They liked to think that the first settlers on the Tiber bank
came from an older finer world than that of the other tribes dwelling in
Italy. So they told how, after the great siege of Troy by the Greek
heroes, Aeneas, one of the Trojan leaders, fled from his ruined city
across the seas, bearing his father and his household gods upon his
shoulders, and after many adventures, and some time passed in the great
city of Carthage, on the African coast, came with a few trusty
companions to the shores of Latium and there founded a new home.

The descendants of Aeneas ruled over their people as kings. In later
days, however, the Romans, who held that all citizens were free and
equal, hated the name of King. Rome was a republic: its government was
carried on by men elected by the citizens from among themselves, and by
assemblies in which all citizens could take part. The first duty of
every citizen was to the republic: its claim on him stood before all
other claims.

The story of the fall of the last king and of Lucius Junius Brutus, one
of the first Consuls, as the chief magistrates of the new republic were
called, shows clearly how far the idea of duty to the republic could go
in the minds of Romans.

Brutus and Tarquin

The last King of Rome was Tarquin the Proud. His misrule, and the
insolent heartlessness of his family, especially of his son Sextus,
brought about their expulsion from Rome and the end of the kingship.
Sextus had, by guile, got into the town of Gabii but was at a loss how
to make himself master there. He managed to send out a messenger to his
father. It was summer. In the garden where the King was walking,
poppies--white and purple--were growing in long ranks. Tarquin said
nothing to the messenger: only as he walked he struck off with his staff
the heads of the tallest poppies, one after another, without saying a
word. Sextus, when the messenger came back and described to him his
father’s action, understood. Pitilessly he put the leading men of Gabii
to the sword.

It was the misdeeds of this Sextus that brought the proud house of
Tarquin to the ground. He tried to force his brutal love on the fair
Lucretia, the wife of his cousin Collatinus, and so shamed her that,
after telling her husband how she had been wronged, Lucretia killed
herself before his eyes and those of his friend Brutus. Stirred to
deepest wrath, Collatinus and Brutus then swore a great oath to drive
the house of Tarquin from Rome and henceforth allow no king to rule over
the free people of the city. When they had told their fellow citizens
how Sextus had wronged Lucretia, a daughter of one of the proudest
families in the city, and reminded them of the oppression and injustice
they had all suffered at the hands of his family, the leading men of
Rome rose up and drove the Tarquins out. The city was proclaimed for
ever a republic to be ruled not by any one man but by the will and for
the good of all free men who dwelt in it. Some there were, however, who
took the side of Tarquin and tried to bring him back. Among them were
the two sons of Brutus. They were captured and brought up for judgement,
and like the others condemned to death. Brutus was the judge. Though
they were his sons and he loved them he condemned them unflinchingly.
Without any sign of feeling he saw them go to their death. An action for
which he would have sentenced another man seemed to him no less wrong
when committed by his own children.

  _The Death of Lucretia_

  They tried to soothe her grief, laying the blame, not on the
  unwilling victim, but on the perpetrator of the offence. ‘It is
  the mind,’ they said, ‘not the body that sins. Where there is no
  intention, there is no fault,’ ‘It is for you,’ she replied, ‘to
  consider the punishment that is his due; I acquit myself of guilt,
  but I do not free myself from the penalty; no woman who lives
  after her honour is lost shall appeal to the example of Lucretia,’
  Then she took a knife which she had hidden under her dress,
  plunged it into her heart, and dropping down soon expired. Her
  husband and father made the solemn invocation of the dead.

  While the others were occupied in mourning, Brutus drew the knife
  from the wound, held it still reeking before him, and exclaimed,
  ‘I swear by this blood, pure and undefiled before the prince’s
  outrage, and I call you, gods, to witness, that I will punish
  Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, his impious wife, and all his children
  with fire and sword to the utmost of my power, and that I will not
  allow them or any other to rule in Rome.’ After this, he handed
  the knife to Collatinus, next to Lucretius and Valerius, all
  amazed at Brutus and perplexed to account for his new spirit of
  authority. They took the oath as he directed and, changing wholly
  from grief to anger, they obeyed his summons to follow him and
  make an immediate end of the royal power.

  The body of Lucretia was brought from her house and carried to the
  Forum, the people thronging round, as was natural, in wonder at
  this strange and cruel sight, and loud in condemning the crime of
  Tarquinius. They were deeply moved by the father’s sorrow, and
  still more by the words of Brutus, who rebuked their tears and
  idle laments, urging them to act like men and Romans by taking up
  arms against the common enemy.

    Livy, i. 58. 9-59. 4.

  [Illustration: ETRUSCAN SOLDIER
  from a Brit. Mus. bronze]

Mucius and Cloelia

The same spirit was shown by Caius Mucius and the maiden Cloelia and
many others in the long and bitter wars that followed. Tarquin found
refuge with Lars Porsena, King of the Etruscans, who pretended to be
eager to restore him while he really wanted to submit the Roman people
to his own rule. Porsena laid siege to the city and the people were
reduced to the hardest straits. A young man named Caius Mucius
determined to kill Lars Porsena. He succeeded in passing through the
enemy’s lines and made his way into their camp. There he saw a man clad
in purple whom he took to be Lars Porsena. In his heart he plunged the
dagger he had hidden under the folds of his toga. The man fell dead. But
he was not the King. Mucius was carried before Lars and to him he said,
‘I am a Roman, my name Caius Mucius. There are in Rome hundreds of young
men resolved, as I was, to take your life or perish in the attempt. You
may slay me but you cannot escape them all.’ Porsena demanded the names
of the others: Mucius refused to speak. When Porsena said he would
compel him to speak by torture Mucius merely smiled. On the altar a
flame was burning. To prove to the ally of Tarquin of what stuff the
young men of Rome were made, he thrust his right arm into the flame and
held it so without flinching until the flesh was charred away. Such, his
action showed the King, was the spirit of Rome.

  [Illustration: ROMAN LEGIONARY
  from a Brit. Mus. bronze]

  _Mucius: The Spirit of Rome_

  Mucius was escaping through the scared throng, that fell away
  before his bloody dagger, when, summoned by the shouts, the King’s
  guards seized him and dragged him back. Standing helpless before
  the throne, but even in such desperate position more formidable
  than afraid, he cried out, ‘I am a Roman citizen; my name is Caius
  Mucius. My purpose was to kill an enemy of my country; I have as
  much courage to die as I had to slay; a Roman should be ready for
  great deeds and great suffering. Nor have I alone been emboldened
  to strike this blow; behind me is a long line of comrades who seek
  the same honour. Therefore, if you choose, prepare for a struggle
  in which you will fight for your life every hour of the day and
  have the sword of an enemy at your palace door. Such is the war
  that we, the youth of Rome, proclaim against you. You need not
  fear armies and battles; by yourself you will meet us one by one.’
  When the King, enraged and terrified, was threatening to have him
  thrown into the flames unless he explained the hints of
  assassination thus vaguely uttered, he replied, ‘See how worthless
  the body is to those whose gaze is fixed on glory.’ With these
  words he laid his right hand on a brazier already lighted for the
  sacrifice and let it burn, too resolute, as it seemed, to feel
  pain. Then Porsena, astounded at the sight, ordered Mucius to be
  removed from the altar and exclaimed, ‘Begone, your own desperate
  enemy more than mine. I would wish well to your valour, if that
  valour was on the side of my country. As it is, I send you hence
  unharmed and free from the penalties of war.’

    Livy, ii. 12. 8-14.

Later in the same war the Romans were compelled to give hostages,
twenty-four men and maidens. Cloelia, a highborn maiden sent among them,
escaped at night and on horseback swam across the foaming Tiber to Rome.
But since she had been given as a hostage and faith once given was
sacred, the Roman leaders sent her back.

  _Cloelia’s Heroism_

  This reward granted to the heroism of Mucius inspired women also
  with ambition to win honour from the people. The maiden Cloelia,
  one of the hostages, escaped the sentries of the Etruscan camp,
  which had been pitched near the Tiber, and amid a shower of
  missiles swam across the river, leading a band of maidens whom she
  brought back safe to their families in Rome. When Porsena heard of
  it, he was at first enraged, and sent envoys to the city with a
  demand for the return of his hostage Cloelia; he made no great
  account of the others. Afterwards, his anger being changed to
  admiration, he said that her exploit surpassed anything done by
  Horatius or Mucius, and declared that he would consider the treaty
  broken if the hostage was not surrendered, but that if she was, he
  would send her back unharmed to her people. Faith was kept on both
  sides; the Romans returned the guarantee of peace in accordance
  with the terms of the treaty, and the King not only protected but
  honoured the heroine, making her a present of half the hostages
  and bidding her choose as she pleased. The story is that when they
  were brought before her, she picked out the youngest, a choice at
  once creditable to her modesty and approved by the unanimous wish
  of the rest that those whose age made them most helpless should be
  liberated first. After the restoration of peace the Romans
  recognized this unexampled heroism in a woman with the honour,
  also unexampled, of an equestrian statue. It was placed at the top
  of the Sacred Way, a maiden sitting on a horse.

    Livy, ii. 13. 6-11.

This same high temper and unflinching sense of honour was shown two
hundred years later in an even more splendid way by Atilius Regulus.


In the first war against Carthage (255 B.C.) Regulus, a Roman general,
was heavily defeated and taken prisoner with a large part of his army.
Shortly afterwards the Roman fleet was destroyed by a terrible storm.
Nevertheless, the events of the next year’s campaign went against the
Carthaginians. They determined to offer peace and for this purpose
sent an embassy to Rome. With this embassy Regulus was sent, on the
understanding that if he failed to induce his countrymen to make peace
and to agree to an exchange of prisoners he would return to Carthage,
where, as he well knew, a terrible fate certainly awaited him.
Nevertheless, despite the appeals of his wife and children, Regulus
urged his countrymen not to make peace. His body might belong to the
Carthaginians who had captured it, but his spirit was Roman and no Roman
could urge his countrymen to accept defeat and give up fighting until
they had won. True to his vow, he went back to Carthage and there he was
put to dreadful tortures. His eyelids were cut off and he was then
exposed to the full glare of the sun. But the story of his devotion
remained strong in the minds of his countrymen, and Horace, one of their
great poets, later put it into lines of imperishable verse.

  _The Honour of Regulus_

  Such a downfall had the prescient soul of Regulus feared, when he
  refused assent to dishonourable terms and maintained that the
  precedent would be fatal in time to come if the prisoners did not
  die unpitied. ‘I have seen’, he said, ‘our eagles hanging on
  Carthaginian shrines, and weapons of our soldiers surrendered
  without bloodshed; I have seen arms bound behind the back of the
  free, and gates thrown open in security, and lands tilled that our
  armies had wasted. Think you that the soldier, ransomed with gold,
  will return the braver? You do but add loss to disgrace. Wool,
  tinctured by dye, never regains its old purity; nor does true
  courage, if once it is lost, deign to be restored to the degraded.
  If the stag fights after being freed from the meshes of the net,
  he will be brave who has surrendered to a treacherous foe, and he
  will crush the Carthaginians in a second fight who without
  resentment has felt the thongs binding his arms, and has feared
  death. Such a man, all ignorant of the way to win a soldier’s
  life, has confused peace and war. Oh lost honour! Oh mighty
  Carthage, exalted by the shameful downfall of Italy!’ It is said
  that he put from him the lips of his virtuous wife and his little
  children, a free citizen no longer, and with grim resolution
  turned his eyes to the ground, till with the weight of advice
  never given by any before him he strengthened the wavering purpose
  of the Fathers, and amid the mourning of his friends hurried into
  a noble exile. Yet, though he knew what the barbarian tormentor
  had in store for him, he set aside opposing kinsmen and people
  that would delay his return as quietly as if he were leaving the
  business of some client’s suit at last decided, and were
  journeying to his estate in Venefrum or to Tarentum that the
  Spartan built.

    Horace, _Od._ iii. 5. 13-56.

Marcus Curtius

What were Rome’s most precious possessions? To this question a splendid
answer was given by Marcus Curtius. In the midst of the Forum--the
market-place in the heart of the city where public business was
transacted and men met daily to discuss politics and listen to
speeches--the citizens found one morning that a yawning gulf had opened.
This, so the priests declared, would not close until the most precious
thing that Rome possessed had been thrown into it. Then the republic
would be safe and everlasting. For a time men puzzled and pondered over
the meaning of this dark saying. Marcus Curtius, a youth who had covered
himself with honour in many battles, solved the riddle. Brave men, he
said, had made Rome great: the city had nothing so precious. Clad in
full armour and mounted on his war-horse he leaped into the gulf. It
closed over him at once, nor ever opened again.

  _The Devotion of Marcus Curtius_

  During the same year, as the story goes, a cavern of measureless
  depth was opened in the middle of the Forum, either from the shock
  of an earthquake or from some other hidden force; and though all
  did their best by throwing soil into it, the gulf could not be
  filled up till, warned by the gods, the people began to inquire
  what was Rome’s greatest treasure. For that treasure, so the
  prophets declared, must be offered in it, if the Roman
  commonwealth was to be safe and lasting. Whereupon Marcus Curtius,
  a warrior renowned in war, rebuked them for doubting whether the
  Romans had any greater blessing than arms and valour. Amid a
  general silence he devoted himself, looking to the Capitol and the
  temples of the immortal gods that overhang the Forum, and
  stretching out his hands, at one time to the sky, at another to
  the yawning chasm that reached to the world below. Then, fully
  armed and seated on a horse splendidly caparisoned, he plunged
  into its depths, while a crowd of men and women showered corn and
  other offerings after him. Thus we may suppose that the Curtian
  Lake got its name from him, and not from Curtius Mettus, in old
  time the famous soldier of Titus Tatius.

    Livy, vii. 6.

  [Illustration: LACUS CURTIUS

In Mucius Scaevola, in Regulus, in Marcus Curtius, and many others the
fine qualities of the old Roman temper, pride, courage, will, devotion,
a love of their country that went beyond all other feelings, even unto
death, stand out. One can see the main lines of the character that made
the Romans what they afterwards became--the conquerors and law-givers
first of a single city, Rome, then of the whole plain of Latium in which
that city stood: then, after driving back barbarian invaders from the
north and Greek invaders from the south, of all Italy: later of the
known world.


To understand this character better one may look at it from another
angle, studying a man in whom these qualities were spoiled by the faults
that belong to them. Courage may become cruelty: pride fall into
arrogance: high contempt for others will grow to selfishness and
hardness; even a high devotion to one’s country may be spoiled if it
comes to mean a devotion to one’s own idea of what that country should
be like and how it should treat oneself. It may then be mere
selfishness. Many men love their country not as it is but as they think
it ought to be. This may be a good and helpful feeling if what they
think it ought to be depends not on their own private wishes and welfare
only, but on that of the people as a whole. A love of country of this
kind makes men strive incessantly to make it better. But some Romans
forgot the welfare of the people as a whole. The men belonging to the
old families, men who claimed to be descended from the early settlers,
who called themselves ‘patricians’, that is, the fathers of the State,
were apt to consider that what they thought must be so: that they alone
knew what was right and good. The welfare of the State depended on them.
They were the leaders in the army and in the government. They had no
patience with those who said that they should not settle everything in
Rome, that their idea of what was right and patriotic was not the end of
the matter; men who said that Rome was not this class or that but the
whole people. The city was growing fast; new settlers had come in, men
not counted as citizens, but men whose happiness and comfort depended on
the way the State treated them. These people, the ‘plebs’ as they were
called, were despised by many patricians. They looked upon them not as
Romans, but as creatures who could be made into soldiers when the city
needed soldiers, but at other times should keep quiet.

The faults and virtues of the patricians--and nearly all the heroes of
Roman story belong to patrician families--are well shown in the life of
Caius Marcius, called Coriolanus in honour of his victory outside the
town of Corioli.

  _The Capture of Corioli_

  One of the leading men in the camp was C. Marcius, who afterwards
  received the name of Coriolanus, a youth of equal vigour in
  counsel and in action. The Roman army was besieging Corioli and,
  occupied with its people shut up behind their walls, had no fear
  of attack from without, when the Volscian troops from Antium swept
  down upon it, and at the same time the enemy sallied out of the
  town. Marcius happened to be on duty, and with some picked troops
  not only repelled the sally, but fearlessly rushed in through the
  open gate and, after slaughtering the enemy in the neighbourhood,
  chanced to come across some lighted brands and flung them on to
  the buildings that adjoined the wall. Then the cries of the
  townsmen, mingled with the shrieks of women and children that
  quickly arose, as usual, when the alarm was given, encouraged the
  Romans and dismayed the Volscians, inasmuch as they found that the
  city which they had come to help was in the hands of the enemy.
  Thus the Volscians from Antium were routed and Corioli was taken.

    Livy, ii. 33. 5-9.

Caius Marcius belonged to one of the oldest and proudest families in the
Republic. A member of this family had been one of the Seven Kings. His
father died when Caius was but a boy and he was left in the charge of
his mother Volumnia. Volumnia was a woman of noble character and fine
mind. Her house was admirably ordered: everything in it was beautiful
and yet simple. She brought up her son well: he excelled in all manly
exercises, was of a courage that nothing could shake, scorned idleness,
luxury, and wealth: believed that the one life for a Roman was a life of
service to the death. But Volumnia did not succeed, as a father might
have done, in curbing the faults of the lad’s character. Caius grew up
headstrong, obstinate, and excessively proud. Personally highly gifted
in mind and body, he was disposed to look down upon others less firm and
resolute. He set, for himself, a high standard of uprightness and
courage, and cared nothing for what other people thought of him. Among
the youths with whom he grew up he was the natural leader: his will
brooked no contradiction. Few dared to criticize or oppose him. Those
less firm in mind, less brave in action, less indifferent to the opinion
of others, he despised. Any one who failed in courage, endurance, or
devotion he condemned without sympathy.

When but a lad he won, for bravery in battle, the crown of oak leaves
given to soldiers who saved the life of a comrade in action. In all the
fighting of the hard years in which Rome was defending itself against
the other Italian peoples, Marcius was ever to the fore. He shrank from
no fatigue, no danger: he was always in the hottest of the fight: first
as a simple soldier, then as a general. In the field his soldiers adored
him because he shared all their hardships and always led them to
victory. Always, too, he refused to take any reward in money or riches.
But when these same soldiers got back to Rome Coriolanus had no sympathy
with them. Fighting was life to him: he did not see why it should not
satisfy every one or understand the hardships of the common man whose
wife and children were left behind in wretched poverty. There were
indeed many things Coriolanus did not see. His harsh mind condemned
without understanding the complaints of the poor. To him it seemed that
they thought of themselves, instead of thinking about Rome. He did not
realize that their hard lot compelled them to do so. His wealth and
birth made him free, but they were not free.

All the land belonged to the patricians. Wars made them richer because
the things their land produced fetched high prices, but the poor family
starved while the father was away at the wars, unable to earn, and they
had no money with which to purchase things. They had to pay taxes--and
wars always mean heavy taxes. They fell into debt and, under the harsh
Roman law, a debtor could be first imprisoned and then, unless some one
helped him by paying off what he owed, sold as a slave. Even a man
serving in the army might have his house and all the poor household
goods he had left at home seized because he or his wife had got into
debt. This harsh law finally produced a mutiny. The whole army marched
out of Rome and, taking up a position on the Sacred Mount outside,
stayed there until the Senate (this was the ruling body of the State, at
the time composed only of patricians) agreed first to change the harsh
laws about debt, and second to give to the poorer people a body of men
to look after their interests. These were the Tribunes. The appointment
of these tribunes angered many patricians, and especially Coriolanus.
Not understanding the sufferings of the people--he had always been far
removed himself from any such difficulties, belonging as he did to a
family of wealth and dignity--he thought that their discontents were
created by talk and idleness. And since there were men in Rome who got a
cheap popularity by perpetually reminding the people of their wrongs, he
sometimes seemed to be right. The tribunes he regarded as noxious
busybodies, whose loose talk was dividing Rome into two parties. In fact
there were two parties. Coriolanus could not see that the real cause of
the division was not what the tribunes said but what the people
suffered. He could see no right but his own, and all his powerful will
was set to driving that right through. To yield seemed to him
pusillanimous. There was bound to be a fierce struggle and it soon came.
Coriolanus made bitter scornful speeches, which enraged the people. They
smarted under his biting words and forgot all his great deeds. He became
more and more unpopular. This unpopularity only made him despise the
people, who judged men by words and not by deeds. At last the tribunes
accused him of trying to prevent their receiving the corn that had been
sent to them by the city of Syracuse and of aiming at making himself
ruler in the city. Finally they demanded that he should be banished.
Coriolanus scorned to defend himself. Instead of that he attacked the
tribunes and abused the people in terms of cruel scorn and contempt.
When the vote banishing him was carried he turned on them, declaring
that they made him despise not only them but Rome. He banished them:
there was a world elsewhere.

But though Coriolanus had always declared that he cared more for Rome
than for anything and desired not his own greatness but that of the city
and now pretended to scorn the people and the sentence they had passed
upon him, his actions showed how far his bitterness had eaten into his
own soul. He turned his back on Rome and betook himself to the camp of
Tullus Aufidius, the leader of the people of Antium, then engaged in war
against the Republic, and prepared to assist him in order to punish the
ungrateful Romans.

From this dreadful action he was saved by his mother Volumnia. Her
patriotism was truer and more unselfish than his. With his wife and his
young children she came to the camp, clad in the garb of deepest
mourning, dust scattered upon her grey hairs, and went on her knees to
her son to implore him not to dishonour himself by fighting against his
country. At last the true nobleness in the soul of Coriolanus made its
way through the anger and bitterness that had darkened it: he acceded to
Volumnia’s prayers, though he well knew what the price for himself would
be. Rome was saved from a great danger, since the city had no general to
equal Coriolanus. He himself, however, was assassinated by the orders of
Aufidius, who soon afterwards was badly defeated in the field.
Coriolanus said to his mother, when she at last persuaded him to yield,
that she had won a noble victory for Rome, but one that was fatal to her
son. He was right. His very words showed that in some part of his mind
he realized how wrong and really unpatriotic his action had been; in
joining with the enemies of Rome he had shown clearly that what he loved
was not his country but his own pride. In the end, thanks to Volumnia,
he bent his head. The lesson to the Romans was a clear one: and in the
years that followed it was not forgotten. Coriolanus was remembered as a
hero, but also as a warning. When real danger threatened Rome the people
stood unshaken from without and from within. In the Roman camp there
were never any traitors.

  _The Mother’s Appeal_

  Distracted by the sight of his mother, Coriolanus leapt wildly
  from his seat and was advancing to embrace her when, turning from
  supplication to anger, she exclaimed, ‘Before I allow your
  embrace, let me know whether I have come to an enemy or a son,
  whether I am a prisoner or a mother in your camp. Has a long life
  and helpless old age brought me to such a pass that I see you,
  first as an exile, and afterwards as an enemy? Could you bear to
  devastate this land that bore and nurtured you? However hostile
  and threatening the spirit in which you came, did not your anger
  fail when you crossed its border? When Rome was in sight, did you
  not reflect, “Inside those walls are my home and its gods, my
  mother, wife, and children?” If I had not been a mother, as it
  seems, Rome would not have been besieged; if I had not a son,
  I should have died free in a free country. But as for me, I can no
  longer suffer anything that will add to my wretchedness or to your
  disgrace and, wretched though I am, it will not be for long. These
  younger ones have the claim upon you, for, if you persist, you
  will bring them to a premature death or to a life of slavery.’
  Then his wife and children embraced him, and the wailing that
  arose from all the throng of women, and lamentations for
  themselves and their country, at length broke his resolution. He
  embraced them and sent them away, and at once withdrew his forces
  from the city.

    Livy, ii. 40. 5-10.

  _A Happy Victory_

  _Coriolanus._                 O, mother, mother!
  What have you done? Behold! the heavens do ope,
  The gods look down, and this unnatural scene
  They laugh at. O my mother! mother! O!
  You have won a happy victory to Rome;
  But, for your son, believe it, O! believe it,
  Most dangerously you have with him prevail’d,
  If not most mortal to him. But let it come.
  Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,
  I’ll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,
  Were you in my stead, would you have heard
  A mother less, or granted less, Aufidius?

  _Auf._ I was mov’d withal.

  _Cor._                I dare be sworn you were:
  And, sir, it is no little thing to make
  Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,
  What peace you’ll make, advise me: for my part,
  I’ll not to Rome, I’ll back with you; and pray you,
  Stand to me in this cause.

    Shakespeare, _Coriolanus_, V. iii.


The Great Enemies of Rome

The early history of Rome is a history of war. Its heroes are soldiers.
When the city was founded and throughout its early life Italy was
divided among different peoples, ruling over different parts of the
country. With these peoples--the Latins, the Etruscans, the Volscians,
the Samnites--the Romans fought. War with one or other of them was
always going on. Its fortune varied, but in the end the Roman spirit and
the Roman organization told. One by one the other Italian tribes
submitted and accepted Roman overlordship. This was a long and slow
business, extending over hundreds of years. While it was still going on
the Romans had to meet another danger: the danger of invasion from
without. Again and again the Gauls swept down upon Italy from the north.
Once (390) they actually occupied parts of the city of Rome itself.
After that they were finally driven out and defeated by Camillus. Later,
though they came again across the northern hills, they were always
beaten and driven back. When on the march, their armies were dangerous;
but the Gauls had no plan of permanent conquest: after a defeat, they
retired to their northern plains and hills.

Within the space of a hundred years, in the third century before the
birth of Christ, the Romans had to meet two invaders of a very different
and far more dangerous kind: invaders with a settled plan of conquest,
who came against them in order to subdue and rule Rome and Italy. These
were Pyrrhus and Hannibal. Had either of them succeeded, the whole
history of Rome and of the world might have been different. In a very
real sense Pyrrhus and Hannibal are heroes in the story of Rome. They
were the greatest enemies the Roman people ever had to meet. They were
defeated because of qualities in the Roman people as a whole, rather
than by the genius of any single general. No single Roman leader at the
time was a first-rate commander like Pyrrhus, still less a genius like
Hannibal, a much greater man than he. It is during their struggle with
Pyrrhus, in the war with Carthage that followed Pyrrhus’s defeat, and in
the long war with Hannibal that ended in his defeat and the destruction
of Carthage as a great power that we can see the Roman character at its
best. We can appreciate it and understand it only by understanding the
enemies whom it met and broke.


At the time of his attack upon Italy Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, was the
most brilliant soldier of his day: and his ambition was to rule, like
Alexander, over a world greater than that of his own Greek kingdom. From
babyhood he breathed and grew up amid storm and adventure, all his life
he was most at home in camps and on the battlefield. His father was
killed in battle when Pyrrhus was but five years old: he himself was
only saved from death by a faithful slave who carried him to the house
of the King of the Illyrians and laid him at his feet. The baby Pyrrhus
clasped the knees of the monarch who, looking into his face, could not
resist the appeal of the child’s eyes, but kept him safe till he was
twelve years old and then helped to put him on his father’s throne.
Though only a boy, Pyrrhus held it for five years. He was driven out,
but later he recovered his kingdom again. As he grew up he studied the
art of war constantly and wrote a handbook on tactics. As Plutarch, who
wrote his life, puts it, ‘he was persuaded that neither to annoy others
nor be annoyed by them was a life insufferably languishing and tedious’.
Pyrrhus’s appearance expressed the strong, generous simplicity and
directness of his character and his singleness of aim. The most
remarkable feature in his face was his mouth, for his front teeth were
formed of a continuous piece of bone, marked only with small lines
resembling the divisions of a row of teeth. Fear was absolutely unknown
to him. His weakness was that he did not understand men: though a
brilliant soldier he knew nothing about government. He was a soldier
only. He could win battles but not rule men.

  [Illustration: PYRRHUS]

Pyrrhus came to Italy on the invitation of the people of Tarentum.
Tarentum was a wealthy and flourishing city in the south. Originally a
Greek settlement, its people were famous for the luxury and elegance of
their houses and lives, and scorned the rude, hardy, and simple Romans
as untutored barbarians. When some Roman ships appeared in their harbour
they were sunk by the Tarentines, who thought that as the Romans were at
that time busy--the Gauls had swept down from the north and they were
engaged with a war against the Samnites--Tarentum was safe from them.
But the Romans at once declared war (281). The Tarentines took fright:
they had no mind for fighting themselves and looked about for some one
who would do it for them. Thus they called to Pyrrhus to save the Greeks
in Italy. Pyrrhus saw in their appeal his chance of realizing what for
the great Alexander had remained a dream--an empire in the West. He took
sail at once. He was indeed so eager that he started in mid-winter
despite the storms, and lost part of his fleet on the way. Nevertheless
he brought a great army with him: Macedonian foot soldiers, then
considered the best in the world, horsemen, archers, and slingers; and
elephants, never before seen in Italy. In Tarentum he found nothing
ready. His first task was to make the idle, luxurious city into a camp.
The inhabitants, who cared for nothing but feasting, drinking, and
games, did not like this, but it was too late to be sorry. Pyrrhus had
come, and since no other towns in Italy gave any sign of joining him, he
had to make the most of Tarentum. The Tarentines, who had been used to
having all their fighting done for them by slaves, now had to go into
training themselves.

In the spring the Roman army took the field and marched south against
the invader. When Pyrrhus surveyed from a hill the Roman camp and line
of battle he exclaimed in surprise: ‘These are no barbarians!’ In the
end he won a victory at Heraclea (280), partly by reason of the panic
caused among the Roman soldiers by the elephants--they had never seen
such beasts before--but the victory was a very expensive one. Pyrrhus’s
own losses were so heavy that he said, ‘One more victory like this and I
shall be ruined.’ As he walked over the field at night and saw the Roman
dead, all their wounds in front, lying where they had fallen in their
own lines, he cried: ‘Had I been king of these people I should have
conquered the world.’

A deep impression was made on him by the envoy Fabricius. Plutarch tells
the story:

  _Pyrrhus and Fabricius_

  Presently envoys came to negotiate about the fate of the
  prisoners, and among them Gaius Fabricius, who was famed among the
  Romans, as Cineas told the King, for uprightness and military
  talent, and for extreme poverty as well. Therefore Pyrrhus
  received him kindly, apart from the rest, and urged him to accept
  a present, of course not corruptly, but as a so-called token of
  friendship and intimacy. When Fabricius refused, the King did no
  more for the moment, but next day, wishing to try his nerves as he
  had never seen an elephant, he had the largest of these beasts put
  behind a curtain close to them as they conversed. This was done,
  and at a signal the curtain was drawn aside, and the beast
  suddenly raised its trunk and held it over the head of Fabricius,
  uttering a harsh and terrifying cry. Undisturbed, he turned round
  and, smiling, said to Pyrrhus, ‘Yesterday your gold did not move
  me, nor does your elephant to-day.’

  At dinner all sorts of subjects were discussed, and as a great
  deal was said about Greece and its philosophers, Cineas happened
  to mention Epicurus and explained the doctrines of his disciples
  about the gods and service to the state and the chief end of life.
  This last, as he said, they identified with pleasure, while they
  avoided service to the state as interrupting and marring their
  happiness, and banished the gods far away from love and anger and
  care for mankind to an untroubled life of ceaseless enjoyment.
  Before he had finished, Fabricius interrupted him and said, ‘By
  Hercules, I hope that Pyrrhus and the Samnites will hold these
  doctrines as long as they are at war with us.’

  This filled Pyrrhus with such admiration of his high spirit and
  character that he was more anxious than before to be on terms of
  friendship instead of hostility with the Romans, and he privately
  urged Fabricius to arrange a peace and to take service with him
  and live as the first of all his comrades and generals. It is said
  that he quietly replied, ‘O king, you would gain nothing; for
  these very men who now honour and admire you will prefer my rule
  to yours if they once get to know me.’ Such were his words; and
  Pyrrhus did not receive them with anger or in a spirit of offended
  majesty, but he actually told his friends of the nobility of
  Fabricius and gave him sole charge of the prisoners on the
  understanding that, if the Senate refused the peace, they should
  be sent back after greeting their friends and keeping the festival
  of Saturn. As it happened, they were sent back after the festival,
  the Senate ordaining the penalty of death for anyone who stayed

    Plutarch, xxx. 20.

He was yet more deeply impressed by the strength of the Roman character
a little later. When he found that none of the Latins were going to join
him Pyrrhus sent an ambassador to the Senate, offering terms of peace.
This ambassador was loaded with costly presents for the leading Romans
and their wives. All these gifts were refused. Then Pyrrhus’s envoy came
before the Senate, to see whether eloquence could not do what bribes had
failed to effect. He had been a pupil of the great Demosthenes, the most
wonderful orator of Greece, and his golden words moved many of the
senators; they thought it would be wise to make terms. But old Appius
Claudius, one of the most distinguished men in Rome, the builder of the
great military road known as the Appian way, had been carried into the
Senate House by his sons and servants, for he was very old and nearly
blind. He now rose to his feet and his speech made these senators
ashamed of themselves. ‘Hitherto’, he cried, ‘I have regarded my
blindness as a misfortune; but now, Romans, I wish I had been deaf as
well as blind, for then I should not have heard these shameful counsels.
Who is there who will not despise you and think you an easy conquest, if
Pyrrhus not only escapes unconquered but gains Tarentum as a reward for
insulting the Romans?’ His words stirred the senators deeply. They voted
as one man to continue the war. Pyrrhus’s ambassador was told to tell
his master that the Romans could not treat so long as there was an enemy
on Italian soil. He told Pyrrhus that the Senate seemed to him an
assembly of kings.

The firm mind of the Romans did not change when Pyrrhus marched north.
Though he got within forty miles of the city there was no panic: only a
rush of men to join the armies standing outside the walls to guard it.
He had to retire south again. Even after another victory in the next
campaign--at Asculum (279)--Rome was not shaken: the Italians stood
firm. Pyrrhus knew that to win battles was not enough; he could not
conquer Rome unless he could shake the solid resistance of a whole
people. This he could not do. Nor did he know how to appeal to the
Italians and unite them against Rome. To the Italians Pyrrhus was a
foreigner, called in by the Tarentine Greeks whom they rightly despised.
Against him they rallied round Rome. And the Romans never wavered for an
instant. At the darkest hour there had been no break in the will of the
whole people. Pyrrhus saw this: he saw that the Romans would last him
out. After Asculum he crossed to Sicily and defeated the Carthaginians,
the allies of Rome who were gradually capturing the island from
Agathocles the king. But though he soon overran a large part of this
island, the Greeks in Sicily liked his iron rule no better than the
Greeks of Tarentum had done. He returned to Italy, leaving the great
fortress of Lilybaeum still in Carthaginian hands, crying as he sailed
away, ‘What a battleground for Romans and Carthaginians I am leaving.’
In Italy he fought one more big battle, at Beneventum (275); but it was
a defeat. His hopes were ended. He had won glory for himself, but he
had, and this he knew, helped to unite Italy under Rome; and, as he saw,
to prepare the way for a great struggle between Rome and Carthage.
Pyrrhus saw, sooner than any Roman, the great struggle coming in which
the fate of Rome was to be decided. He had shown the Romans the way: had
made their strength visible to them and turned their eyes beyond Italy,
across the seas.


The power of Carthage, to the men of the age of Pyrrhus, seemed
infinitely greater than that of Rome. Rome at that time was but a single
city whose rule did not extend even over the whole of Italy. Carthage
was the head of an empire, built up on a trade which spread its name
over the whole of the known world. The Punic or Phoenician people, as
the ruling race in Carthage was called because of their dark skins, came
from the East. Their earliest homes were in Arabia and Syria. It was
from Tyre and Sidon, great and rich towns when Rome was hardly a
village, that the traders came and settled in North Africa. Their ships,
laden with woven stuffs in silk and cotton, dyed in rich colours, with
perfumes and spices, ivory and gold, ornaments and implements in metal,
sailed all the navigable seas, and brought home from distant places the
goods and raw materials of different lands. At a time when the Romans
had hardly begun to sail the seas at all, their vessels passed out of
the Mediterranean, through the Straits and up to the little-known lands
of the Atlantic. They brought home tin from distant Cornwall, silver
from Spain, iron from Elba, copper from Cyprus. Carthage itself was a
magnificent city and the richest in the world. Its citizens lived in
wealth and idleness on the labour of others. Trade supplied them with
riches: the hardy tribes of Africa, Numidians and Libyans, were their
slaves, manned their fleets and armies. Their navy ruled the seas. They
had settlements in Spain; Corsica and Sardinia were owned by Carthage;
all the west of Sicily was in their hands.


In Sicily the Carthaginians and the Romans first met. The eastern part
of the island was ruled by King Hiero of Syracuse; but raids on it were
constantly made by the people of Messina. After one of these Hiero
attacked Messina. His force was driven off by the Carthaginians who then
occupied the citadel. The people of the town looked round for assistance
and finally appealed to Rome (265).

Messina was not a Roman city; but the Romans saw that if the
Carthaginians were left in possession they would hold a bridge from
which they could easily cross into Italy. That was the question that had
to be faced when the Senate met to consider whether they should help the
people of Messina. To do so meant war with Carthage at once. Not to do
so might mean war with Carthage later on. The Senate called upon the
people to decide. The people voted for war now.


No man could then have foreseen how long and severe the war was going to
be. It lasted three and twenty years (264-241); and at the beginning all
the advantage seemed to be on the Carthaginian side. In the first place
Carthage had the strongest navy in the world. The Carthaginian army was
much the larger, though it was composed of paid soldiers of foreign
race. There was no outstanding leader on the Roman side equal to
Hamilcar, who commanded the Carthaginians in its later stages.

When the war began the Romans had no fleet. They had never had more than
a few transport vessels: no fighting ships. They did not know how they
were constructed. This did not daunt them, however. A Carthaginian
man-of-war was driven ashore. Roman carpenters and shipwrights at once
set to work, studying how it was put together, and thinking out devices
by which it could be improved. While the shipwrights were busy the men
practised rowing on dry land. The most famous improvement invented by
the Romans was the ‘crow’. This was an attachment to the prow, worked by
a pulley, consisting of a long pole with a sharp and strong curved iron
spike at the end. As soon as an enemy ship came within range this pole
was swung round so that the spike caught the vessel and held it in an
iron grip. A bridge was fastened to the pole: the soldiers ran along and
boarded, forcing a hand-to-hand fight. To this the Carthaginian sailors
were not used. They were better navigators than the Romans, but not such
good fighters. In hand-to-hand encounters the Romans got the best of it.
But they did not know so much of wind and weather, and again and again
the storms made havoc with them. Four great fleets were destroyed or
captured in the first sixteen years of the war, which lasted for
twenty-three. In the year 249 Claudius the Consul lost 93 vessels at a
stroke in the disastrous battle of Drepana and killed himself rather
than live on under the disgrace. Later in the same year another great
fleet was dashed to pieces in a storm.

  [Illustration: PICTURES FROM POMPEII--]

The year ended with the Carthaginians masters of the seas and on land.
Four Roman armies had been lost almost to a man. In five years one man
in every six of the population of Rome had perished in battle or on the
sea. After sixteen years’ hard fighting and extraordinary efforts the
end of the war seemed further off than ever, unless the Romans were to
admit defeat. But it was no part of their character to admit defeat. As
Polybius, the great Greek historian who knew them well, said some years
later, ‘The Romans are never so dangerous as when they seem to be
reduced to desperation.’ So it proved. No one had any thought of giving
in. Regulus, captured by the Carthaginians and sent by them to Rome to
urge his countrymen to surrender, urged them to go on fighting, though
he knew he must pay the penalty for such words with his life. Had the
Carthaginians been made of the same metal they might have used the hour
to strike the fatal blow; but they were not. On land they did not trust
the one really great general whom they had--Hamilcar Barca. For six
years nothing serious was done in Sicily. On sea they let the fleet fall
into disrepair because they were confident that the Romans, after their
tremendous losses, could do nothing much. They did not know the Roman
temper. In the coffers of the State there was no money to build ships.
But there were rich men in Rome who put their country’s needs before
their own comfort. A number of them sold all they had and gave the money
for shipbuilding. Shipwrights and carpenters worked night and day, and
in a wonderfully short time a fleet of 250 vessels was constructed and
given to the State. And this fleet ended the war. Every man in it was
alive with enthusiasm, ready to die for Rome. The Consul Lutatius
Catulus, who was put in command of it, utterly defeated the Carthaginian
navy in a great battle off the Aegatian Islands (241). In Sicily
Hamilcar could do nothing; no supplies could reach him. With bitterness
in his heart he had to make a peace which gave Sicily to Rome. The real
heroes are the Roman people who, whether in the armies or the navies or
at home, never yielded or lost courage in spite of defeat and disaster
but held on to the end. They won the victory. They defeated Hamilcar. In
this, the first Punic War, the Carthaginian Government was glad to make
peace; Hamilcar was not. He was determined that Carthage should defeat
Rome yet: he made his young son Hannibal swear never to be friends with

  [Illustration: --OF A MIMIC NAVAL BATTLE]


This son of Hamilcar was the most dangerous enemy the Romans ever had to
face. He was not only, like Pyrrhus, a brilliant soldier and general: he
was much more than this. He was a genius in all the arts of war, and in
the leadership of men; great as Napoleon and Julius Caesar were great.
He had the power to fill the hearts of his followers with a devotion
that asked no questions; they were ready to die for him, to endure any
and every hardship. No Roman general of the time was a match for him:
few in any time. Yet he was defeated. The reason was simple. He was
defeated not by this or that Roman general but by the Roman people. His
genius broke against their steady endurance, grim patience, and devotion
to Rome. Hannibal could and did win battles, but no victory brought him
nearer to his great object, that of dividing Italy and breaking the
dominance of Rome. Except for the southern tribes and Capua the Italians
stood solid; in Rome there was never any talk of giving in. When Varro,
after a rout, partly due to his own recklessness, which left the road to
Rome open to Hannibal, brought his remnant back to the city, the
senators came out to meet him, and instead of uttering reproaches or
lamentations, thanked him because he had not despaired of the Republic.
This spirit Hannibal could not break. Behind him there was nothing of
this kind. He had his genius and the soldiers he had made; but the
people of Carthage only gave him grudging support.

Hannibal’s invasion of Italy failed: but it is one of the most wonderful
stories in the whole history of war, and he is one of the great men of

His father, Hamilcar Barca (‘Barca’ means ‘lightning’), was a brilliant
general; that the Carthaginians lost their first war with Rome was their
fault, not his. Of his three sons, Hannibal, Hasdrubal, and Mago,
Hannibal the eldest was the dearest to him and most like himself in
strength of will, in the power to form a purpose and hold to it unshaken
by all that happened to him or that other people said. Soon after the
war with Rome was ended Hamilcar left Carthage, taking his sons with
him. Before he left he made young Hannibal, then nine years old, swear
on the altars never to be friends with Rome. They sailed for Spain.
Spain, Hamilcar saw, could be worth more than Sicily, if the people were
trained as soldiers and taught the arts of agriculture and mining. The
country was rich in metals. His sons helped him, and he meantime taught
them not only everything connected with war and the training and
handling of men, but languages and all that was then known of history
and of art, so that although their boyhood was spent in camps they were
as well taught as the noblest Roman.

At the age of six-and-twenty Hannibal was chosen by the army to command
the Carthaginian forces in Spain. Although young in years Hannibal’s
purpose in life had long been clear to him: since his father’s death he
had lived and thought for nothing else. He had trained the army in Spain
for this purpose; his captains knew and shared it; and they and the men
were filled with a passionate love for and belief in their young
commander. Hannibal could make himself feared. The discipline in his
army was strict, though he never asked men to do or suffer what he would
not do or suffer himself. It was not through fear, however, that he made
men devoted to him. They followed him because they believed in him,
believed that he had a clear plan and the will to carry it through, and
because they loved him. He was the elder brother and companion of his
soldiers, and never forgot that they were men.

Three years after he had been made general in Spain Hannibal’s plans
were complete. Everything was ready. He knew what he was going to do.
Suddenly he laid siege to Saguntum (219), a town in Spain allied to
Rome, and took it. This was a declaration of war on Rome. A few months
later news came to Rome; news which at first could hardly be believed.
Hannibal had left New Carthage, his great base in Spain, with a large
army. He had defeated the northern Spaniards and was preparing to cross
the Alps and descend on Italy. The Roman army sent to stop him on the
Rhone arrived too late to do so. But to cross the Alps with troops and
baggage when the winter snows were beginning to fall upon the mountain
passes and the streams were freezing into ice was believed to be
impossible: no army had ever done it. The paths were precipitous, at
places there were no tracks at all. Wild fighting tribes of Gauls held
the passes. There was no food: not even dry grass for the animals.
Fierce storms of hail and snow swept the mountain tops.

Nevertheless, before winter had fully set in Hannibal had brought his
army over. The losses of men and animals had been severe; but a thing
thought impossible had been done. The season was still early for
fighting: Hannibal could let his suffering troops rest in the fertile
North Italian plains. Livy describes the last stage of the journey:

  _Hannibal’s March: the Sight of the Promised Land_

  On the ninth day they reached the crest of the Alps, pushing on
  over trackless steeps, and sometimes compelled to retrace their
  steps owing to the treachery of the guides or, where they were not
  trusted, to the random choice of some route through a valley. For
  two days they encamped on the top, and the soldiers, exhausted by
  marching and fighting, were allowed to rest. A number of baggage
  animals, too, that had slipped on the rocks, reached the camp by
  following the tracks of the army. Tired as the men were, and
  wearied by so many hardships, a further dismay was caused by a
  fall of snow, which the setting of the Pleiades brought with it.
  They started again at dawn, and the army was slowly advancing
  through ways blocked with snow, listlessness and despair visible
  on the faces of all, when Hannibal hurried in front of his men and
  ordered them to stop on a ridge commanding a wide and distant
  view, from which he pointed out Italy and the plains of the Po
  lying at the foot of the Alps. ‘Here’, he exclaimed, ‘you are
  scaling the walls, not merely of Italy, but of Rome; the rest of
  the way will be smooth and sloping; one or at most two battles
  will make you masters of the fortress and capital of Italy.’

    Livy, xxi. 35. 4-9.

Just across the river Ticinus a Roman army came to meet him under
Cornelius Scipio (218). It was defeated; a month later the other consul,
Sempronius, was out-generalled and defeated on the river Trebia. These
two victories meant that Italy north of the Po was in Hannibal’s hands.
Moreover the Gauls had risen and joined him. Hannibal at once set to
work training them, and filling the thinned ranks of his own army with
fresh men. His hope was that not only the Gauls--poor allies, for they
could never be trusted--but the Italians generally would rise and join
him. He counted on their being eager to shake off the yoke of Rome.

  [Illustration: GREAT ST. BERNARD PASS]

In Rome men were anxious and excited, but not dismayed. There were two
main parties among the people and among the soldiers, led by men of very
differing type. On one side stood those who believed that the way to
treat Hannibal was by a waiting game. If Rome stood fast they could wear
him out as they had worn Pyrrhus out. He was far away from his base of
supplies. His new troops could not be so good as his old. The Italians
would not rise to help him in any great numbers. The centre of Italy was
safe, anyhow. So long as he stayed in the north the south would not
rise; if he moved south the Gauls would soon tire of fighting. The
leader of this party was Quintus Fabius, a member of one of the proudest
Roman families, and a man of what was already beginning to be called the
old school. That the common people might suffer if the war dragged out
for years did not disturb him much.

On the other side stood men like Caius Flaminius and Terentius Varro,
younger both in years and in mind, eager, impatient for action.

Caius Flaminius had opposed Fabius before. He had been elected a tribune
of the people--one of those magistrates appointed at the time of
Coriolanus to speak for them. He was a man of great ability and warm
enthusiasm, a man with more imagination than Fabius. He was as truly
devoted to his country, but to his mind the greatness of Rome depended
not only on conquest and fine laws and honesty and honour in its leading
citizens. These were all good things. But there was another question to
ask. Were the ordinary common people happy? Fifteen years before
Hannibal’s invasion, Flaminius had brought in a Bill intended to help
the poorer Romans by making land settlements for small cultivators in
the north. Fabius and most of the old patricians were hot against this.
Fabius said to give land to the poor people of Rome encouraged men who
could find work in the city but did not take the trouble. They would not
cultivate the land if they got it: they would sell it and come back for
more. Flaminius denied this. There were men in numbers, he said, men who
had served in the armies, who wanted to work but could not do it because
they could not get land. To put more men on the land would enrich the
whole country. His law was finally carried. Another work done by
Flaminius stands to this day as a memorial of him. It, too, shows the
imagination of the man. This is the Via Flaminia, a magnificent road
that ran right across the Apennine Mountains from sea to sea. It took
twenty years to build, but when built it stood for centuries, useful in
time of war, even more useful in time of peace.

Flaminius, already popular on account of these achievements, dreamed of
doing yet more striking things as a soldier. This was his danger. In the
year after the battle of the Trebia he was put in command of one of the
two new Roman armies. He was all for a bold policy and believed that he
could defeat Hannibal and thus add military glory to himself. He did not
know Hannibal. Hannibal, however, had made it his business to know his
enemies; he did know what Flaminius was like and used that knowledge for
his undoing. Flaminius’s views and character are given by Livy.

  _Flaminius before Trasimene_

  Flaminius would not have refrained from action even if his enemy
  had been inactive; but when the lands of the allies were harried
  almost before his eyes, he thought it a personal disgrace that
  Hannibal should range through the heart of Italy and advance
  unopposed to attack the walls of Rome. In the council all the rest
  urged a safe rather than an ambitious policy. ‘Wait for your
  colleague,’ they exclaimed, ‘and then, joining the two armies,
  carry on the war with a common spirit and purpose; meantime use
  the cavalry and light-armed infantry to check the reckless
  plundering of the enemy.’ In a rage he flung himself out of the
  council and, bidding the trumpet give at once the signal for march
  and battle, he cried, ‘Rather let us sit still before the walls of
  Arretium, for here is our country and our home. Hannibal is to
  slip away from our hands and devastate Italy and, plundering and
  burning, to reach the walls of Rome, while we are not to move a
  step till C. Flaminius is summoned by the Fathers from Arretium,
  as Camillus of old was summoned from Veii.’ Amid these angry words
  he ordered the standards to be pulled up with all speed and leapt
  into the saddle, but the horse suddenly fell and threw the consul
  over his head. While the bystanders were alarmed by this gloomy
  omen for the beginning of a campaign, a further message arrived
  that, in spite of all the standard-bearer’s exertions, the
  standard could not be pulled up. Turning to the messenger, he
  said, ‘Do you also bring a dispatch from the Senate forbidding me
  to fight? Go, tell them to dig out the standard if their hands are
  so numbed with fear that they cannot pull it up.’ Then the advance
  began; the chief officers, apart from their previous disagreement,
  were further alarmed by the double portent; the soldiers were
  delighted with their high-spirited leader, as they thought more
  about his confidence than any grounds on which it might rest.

    Livy, xxii. 3. 7-14.

  [Illustration: TRASIMENE]

When Flaminius took the field he found that Hannibal, despite the
melting snow that flooded the fields and made them into marshes and the
rivers into torrents, had crossed the Apennines. It had been a terrible
crossing: men, horses, and animals fell ill and died. Hannibal himself
lost an eye. But he had crossed the mountains and marched right past
Flaminius, who was not strong enough to attack him, on the road to Rome.
This was done on purpose to lure Flaminius on; for Hannibal knew that he
longed to fight before the other consul, Servilius, could join him with
his army and share the glory. Hannibal had learned a great deal about
the country and he succeeded in misleading Flaminius as to his
movements, drawing him on into a deadly trap. Along the high hills
standing round the shores of Lake Trasimene he posted his men one night
on either side of the pass that closed the entrance. In the morning the
heavy mists concealed them absolutely. Flaminius marched his army right
in, unsuspecting. Hannibal’s soldiers swept down the slopes and closed
the Romans in on every side. They were doomed. There was no escape: they
were entrapped between the marshes and the lake; only the vanguard cut
their way through, and they were surrounded later. Fifteen thousand men
perished, among them Flaminius himself, who died fighting. As many were
taken prisoners. Hannibal’s losses were far less. Livy comments:

  _After Trasimene_

  Such was the famous battle of Trasimene, one of the most memorable
  disasters of the Roman people. Fifteen thousand men were slain on
  the field; ten thousand, scattered in flight all over Etruria,
  made for Rome by different ways. Two thousand five hundred of the
  enemy fell in the battle; many afterwards died of wounds. Hannibal
  released without ransom the prisoners who belonged to the Latin
  allies, and threw the Romans into chains. He separated the bodies
  of his own men from the heaps of the enemy’s dead and gave orders
  for their burial. A long search was made for the body of
  Flaminius, which he wished to honour with a funeral; but it could
  not be found.

    Livy, xxii. 7. 1-5.

After this disaster old Fabius was called to the helm and he carried out
his own totally different policy; a policy of endless waiting. During
the whole of the rest of the year Hannibal could not force Fabius to
give battle. Hannibal moved gradually south, along the western coast.
But the Italians did not rise in any great numbers. Hannibal believed
that a crushing defeat of Rome would make them do so, and prepared to
that end. This is Livy’s account of Fabius’s plan of campaign, and of
some of the difficulties he met with in carrying it out: difficulties
not only from Hannibal but from his own captains. Thus Varro, his master
of the horse, was constantly stirring up discontent.

  _The Strategy of Fabius_

  The dictator took over the consul’s army from his deputy, Fulvius
  Fleccus, and marching through the Sabine land came to Tibur on the
  day which he had fixed for the gathering of the new recruits. From
  Tibur he moved to Praeneste, and by cross roads to the Latin way.
  Thence, after very careful scouting, he led his army against the
  enemy, determined not to risk an engagement anywhere if he could
  avoid it. On the day that Fabius first encamped within view of the
  enemy, not far from Arpi, Hannibal at once formed his army into
  line and offered battle; but when he saw no movement of troops and
  no stir in the camp, he retired exclaiming that the ancestral
  spirit of the Romans was broken, that they were finally conquered,
  and that they admitted their inferiority in valour and renown. But
  an unspoken anxiety invaded his mind that he would now have to
  deal with a general very unlike Flaminius and Sempronius, and that
  the Romans, taught by their disasters, had at last sought out a
  leader equal to himself.

  Thus Hannibal at once saw reason to fear the wariness of the new
  dictator, but as he had not yet put his determination to the
  proof, he began to worry and harass him by constantly moving his
  camp and pillaging the lands of the allies actually before his
  eyes. Sometimes he would hurriedly march out of sight, sometimes
  he would wait concealed beyond a bend of the road, in the hope
  that he might catch him on the level. Fabius, however, led his
  troops along the high ground, neither losing touch with his enemy
  nor giving him battle. The soldiers were kept in the camp unless
  some necessary service called them out. If fodder and wood were
  wanted, they went in strong parties that did not scatter. A force
  of cavalry and light-armed infantry, formed and posted to meet
  sudden attacks, protected their own comrades and threatened the
  scattered plunderers of the enemy. The safety of the army was
  never staked on one pitched battle, while small successes in
  trivial engagements, begun without risk and with a retreat at
  hand, taught the soldiers, demoralized by previous disasters, to
  think better of their own valour and the chances of victory. But
  he did not find Hannibal such a formidable enemy of this sound
  strategy as the master of the horse, who was only prevented by his
  subordinate position from ruining the country, being headstrong
  and rash in action and unrestrained in speech. First with a few
  listeners, afterwards openly among the soldiers, he described the
  deliberation of his commander as indolence and his caution as
  cowardice, attributing to him faults that were akin to his
  virtues, and tried to exalt himself by depreciation of his
  superior, a detestable practice that has become common because it
  has been too successful.

    Livy, xxii. 12.

In the following year, Varro, this same master of the horse, was made
consul, sharing the command with Aemilius Paulus. Aemilius was an
experienced soldier; but he was on the worst of terms with Varro, and
Fabius did not mend matters by warning him that Varro’s rashness was
likely to be more dangerous to Rome than Hannibal himself.

The Roman army was the largest yet put in the field and especially
strong in infantry. The Plain of Cannae, where Hannibal was encamped,
was not favourable for infantry, Aemilius therefore wanted to put off
battle. Varro was eager for it. They could not agree. In the end they
decided to take command alternately. As soon as Varro’s day came the
soldiers saw, to their delight, the red flag of battle flying from the
general’s tent.

  [Illustration: HELMET found on the field of CANNAE]

The battle of Cannae (216) was Hannibal’s greatest victory and the most
terrible defeat for Rome in all its history. The Roman charge drove
right through the Carthaginian centre: too far, so that the
Carthaginians turned and attacked on all sides. The slaughter was
terrible. Of 76,000 Romans who fought in the battle the bodies of 70,000
lay upon the field, among them Aemilius himself and the flower of the
noblest families in Rome. It was said that a seventh of all the men of
military age in Italy perished. Of the higher officers Varro was the
only one who escaped; with him was a tiny handful of men, all that was
left of the mighty army.

The news of Cannae came to Rome and the city was plunged in mourning.
Yet despite the hideous losses and the extreme danger no one gave way to
weakness or despair. The strife of parties died down. Men and women
turned from weeping for their dead to working for their country. Rome
still stood and to every Roman the city’s life was more important than
his own. Not a reproach was uttered against Varro, even by those who
before had distrusted and blamed him. After the battle he had done well.
With great courage and energy he collected together and inspired with
new faith the scattered units that remained, and at their head he
marched back to Rome. The Senate and people went in procession to the
city gate to meet him and the scattered remnant of travel-worn,
bloodstained men who had escaped with him from Cannae. Before them all
Varro was thanked because he had not despaired of the Republic. Well
might Hannibal feel that even after Cannae Rome was not conquered. It
was not conquered because the spirit of its people was unbroken. Rome
stood firm. The rich came forward giving or lending all they had to the
State; men of all classes flocked to the new armies; heavy taxes were
put on and no one complained. If the ordinary man was ready to give his
life, the least the well-to-do could do was to give his money. The
people of Central Italy stood by Rome. In the south rich cities like
Capua opened their gates to Hannibal; some of the southern peoples
joined him. But there was no big general rising. Nor did the help
Hannibal needed come from home, Carthage, or from his other allies in
Sicily and Macedonia. The people of Carthage were not like those of
Rome. They were sluggish and a big party there was jealous of Hannibal
and would do nothing to support him.

Marcellus, the general who took the field after Cannae, was a fine
soldier who believed with Fabius that the way to defeat Hannibal was to
wear him down. In Marcellus Hannibal found an enemy he must respect.
When Marcellus was killed at last and brought into the Carthaginian camp
Hannibal stood for a long time silent, looking at his dead enemy’s face.
Then he ordered the body to be clothed in splendid funeral garments and
burned with all the honours of war. He had the ashes placed in a silver
urn and sent to Marcellus’s son. He had in the same way buried Aemilius
with all honourable ceremony.

Time was on the Roman side. Yet for eleven years Hannibal, with a small
army, kept the whole might of Rome at bay. He was driven further south,
that was all. His great hope was that though the Carthaginians would not
stir, his brothers Hasdrubal and Mago would send him help from Spain. In
Spain after his own departure the Romans had reconquered most of the
country, but four years after Cannae Publius Scipio (defeated on the
Ticinus) and his brother Cneus were both defeated and killed, and during
the next few years Hasdrubal won nearly the whole of Spain. In 208 he
was able to move north. He crossed the Pyrenees; spent the winter in
Gaul; and in the spring, as soon as the snows melted, crossed the Alps
by an easier pass than that taken by his great brother. Before any one
expected him he was in Italy. The danger, if he could join Hannibal, was
extreme. So serious was it indeed that Fabius, now a very old man, went
to the two consuls, Livius and Claudius Nero, and begged them to act
together. They hated one another. Fabius had learned how dangerous such
quarrels might be to the State, and what harm his own advice had done
between Varro and Aemilius Paulus; he now used all his great influence
to get the consuls to put an end to personal strife. They agreed and
joined their armies. Together they were much stronger than Hasdrubal. On
the river Metaurus he was defeated (207). There Hasdrubal himself,
fighting like a lion, was killed with ten thousand of his men.

Unhappily the victorious Nero showed in his treatment of his dead enemy
a spirit very different from that of Hannibal. He threw the bloody head
of Hasdrubal in front of Hannibal’s lines. It was the first news he had
of the fate of his brother. He had lost not only a man dearer to him
than any on earth but, with him, his last hope of success. He knew that
all was over; the fortune of Carthage was at an end. For a moment he hid
his face in his mantle. What deep bitterness and pain held his heart in
that moment none may guess.

Two later Roman writers, Livy and Horace, have described the battle of
the Metaurus, which was, indeed, the turning-point of the war: for
Hannibal a fatal turning.

  _Metaurus, and After_

  Hasdrubal had often shown himself a great leader, but never so
  great as in this, his last battle. It was he who supported his men
  in the fight by words of encouragement and by meeting danger at
  their side; it was he who, with mingled entreaty and rebuke, fired
  the spirit of his troops, weary and despairing of a hopeless
  struggle; it was he who called back the fugitives and in many
  places restored the broken ranks. At last, when fortune declared
  itself in favour of the enemy, he would not survive the great host
  that had followed him, but spurred his horse into the thickest of
  the Roman legionaries. There he fell fighting, as became the son
  of Hamilcar and the brother of Hannibal.

  The consul, C. Claudius, on his return to the camp ordered the
  head of Hasdrubal, which he had carefully brought with him, to be
  thrown down in front of the enemy’s sentries, and he exhibited
  African prisoners in chains. Two of them he freed and sent to
  Hannibal to inform him of everything that had happened. Hannibal,
  stricken with grief at such public and personal loss, exclaimed,
  as we are told, ‘I recognize the doom of Carthage.’ Then he
  withdrew to Bruttium in the southern corner of Italy, with the
  intention of concentrating there all the allies, whom he could not
  protect if they were scattered.

    Livy, xxvii. 49, 51.


  What thou owest, Rome, to the house of Nero, let the Metaurus be
  our witness, and Hasdrubal’s overthrow, and that bright day that
  scattered the gloom of Latium, the first to smile with cheering
  victory since the dread African careered through the cities of
  Italy, like fire through a pine forest or Eurus over Sicilian
  waves. After this the manhood of Rome gained strength from
  continued and successful effort, and temples desecrated by the
  unhallowed violence of the Carthaginian saw their gods restored.
  And the treacherous Hannibal at length exclaimed ‘Like stags, the
  prey of ravening wolves, we essay to pursue those whom it is a
  rare triumph to elude and escape.... No more shall I send
  triumphant messages to Carthage; fallen, yea fallen, is all the
  hope and greatness of our name with the loss of Hasdrubal. Naught
  is there that the hands of the Claudii will fail to perform, for
  Jupiter protects them with beneficent power, and prudent
  forethought brings them safe through the perils of war.’

    Horace, Od. iv. 4. 36-76.

For four more years Hannibal stood at bay in South Italy. No Roman
general drove him out, no Roman army could defeat him or the soldiers
who stood by him with a matchless devotion only given to men who have,
as Hannibal had, what we call the divine spark burning within them. When
at last, after fourteen years in Italy, he sailed home, it was to try to
save Carthage, the city which had betrayed him, and now called him to
save them from the war the Romans had carried into their own country. He
knew that he could not do it. The Carthaginians had signed their own
doom when they failed to send him help. When they in their turn called
to Hannibal the enemy was at their gates. In the great battle of Zama,
outside Carthage, Scipio defeated Hannibal. This defeat was the end of
Carthage as a great power. The Roman terms had to be accepted. The power
and might of Carthage was over. The city still stood: but its empire was
gone. All its overseas possessions were added to the Roman dominions.

  [Illustration: A COIN OF VICTORY]

Six years after Zama Hannibal was banished from Carthage at the bidding
of Rome, although Scipio protested in the Senate, declaring it to be
unworthy of Rome to fear one man in a ruined state. Hannibal took refuge
in the East. There, some years later, he and Scipio met. Of the
conversation between them many stories were told. Scipio asked Hannibal
whom he thought the greatest general in the world. Hannibal replied that
he put Alexander first, then Pyrrhus, then himself.

‘And where would you have placed yourself had I not defeated you?’

‘Oh, Scipio, then I should have placed myself not third but first.’

In saying this Hannibal put his thought in words that might give
pleasure to his listener but were not quite true. Scipio had defeated
him at Zama; but no one knew better than the victor that the real
triumph was not his. The forces that had defeated Hannibal were greater
than those in the hand of any one man.

Had Hannibal defeated the Romans, the whole course of the world’s
history might have been changed. Looking back now it seems impossible
that he could ever have thought he could do so. But part of the secret
of a truly great man is that he believes nothing to be impossible on
which he has set his will. The power to set the will firmly, clearly,
with knowledge, on some action to be done, of whatever kind it be; to
sacrifice, for that end, one’s own wishes; to crush down the desire
every human being feels for rest, enjoyment, comfort at the moment, and
go on when the chance of success seems far away; this power is the
instrument by which extraordinary things are brought about. Because of
this power behind him Hannibal was a real danger to Rome, and Rome knew
it. If he could have made the people of Carthage feel as he did, he
would have conquered. But he could not. His will was set on defeating
Rome: the will of the Carthaginians was set, not on this, but on a life
of ease and comfort for themselves. And because the Carthaginians were
built thus, and not like Hannibal, and he could not, by his single
force, make them like himself, it would have been a disaster for the
world if Hannibal had won. The Romans defeated him because they, and not
the Carthaginians, had in them something of the force that moved
Hannibal: they, as Polybius said of them, ‘believed nothing impossible
upon which their minds were set’.


The Scipios

Scipio, to whom after his defeat of Hannibal the name of Africanus was
given by his countrymen, was a Roman of a new type. For him the interest
and business of the world were not bounded by war. He read much and
travelled widely in the course of his life and thought deeply on many
things that had hardly begun to trouble the ordinary Roman of his time,
though they were to trouble deeply the Romans who came after him. He
loved Rome: but his love was not the simple unquestioning devotion of
the old Romans, for whom it was enough that the city was there, and that
their religion as well as their patriotism was bound up with it. He
loved Rome because he believed it stood for something fine.

Of Scipio’s domestic life we do not know much: but he was a man of many
warm and devoted friendships and certainly showed deep attachment to his
father, to his brother, and to Scipio Aemilianus, his grandson by
adoption. When young he was distinguished by his slim height and extreme
fairness of complexion; a skin that flushed easily and showed the
feelings he afterwards learned to conceal.

Something of his character may be seen in his bust, which shows, above
the firm mouth and powerful chin of the man of action and resolute will,
the questioning eyes and fine brow of the thinker. It is a stern, but
not altogether a cold face; above all it is the face of a man to whom
nothing was indifferent. Like most portraits of great men, it represents
its subject well on in middle life, when the enthusiasms of youth have
cooled and settled, but it is the face of a man capable of enthusiasm,
if an enthusiasm controlled by judgement.

  [Illustration: SCIPIO AFRICANUS]

Scipio was capable of enthusiasm: but not of a kind that carried him
away or made him do reckless things. The Romans of his time believed
that he had been born under a lucky star, was in some sense a special
favourite of the gods. Certainly the chances that destroy or make men
seemed throughout his life always to turn out for good. He made
mistakes, and they proved more successful than the wisest judgements
could have been. But the real secret of his success was not luck but his
sureness of himself. He never lost his head. He believed he could do
anything he put his hand to. This belief not only inspired others with
confidence; it carried him through the stages of difficulty and apparent
failure in which all but the strongest are apt to give up an enterprise
for lost. More than that, thanks to his belief in himself, Scipio was
never disturbed by jealousy or by envy of other men’s success. Men’s
praise did not excite him; his own opinion was what mattered and he knew
what it was. At the same time Scipio had in his nature no tinge of what
the Greeks called the ‘daemon’ in man and we the divine spark. The
impossible did not beckon to him. His imagination and his desires moved
among the things that could be done. He was incapable of a passion like
Hannibal’s. He could never have set out to conquer the world, and held
on year after year, beaten but not defeated, knowing that he could not
win but refusing to give up. He was the natural leader of a successful
people. Always he had Rome behind him. Hannibal had nothing behind him,
in that sense. He had to create his instruments by the sheer force of
his own fiery energy. Scipio could never have done this. It would have
seemed to him foolish to try.

Although Scipio cared for many things outside the business of war, it
was as a soldier that he was admired and honoured by most of his
countrymen. War was the only road to high place and distinction
recognized in Rome. Scipio, like other young men of his class--he
belonged to a very ancient and honourable family, that of the
Cornelii--was trained as a soldier from his boyhood.

At the battle of the Ticinus the life of the consul Publius Cornelius
Scipio was saved by the gallantry of a lad of eighteen, serving his
first campaign. This lad was his son, named like himself Publius
Cornelius Scipio. He fought again at Cannae, and was, with the son of
old Fabius Cunctator, among the very few young officers who escaped
alive. As he made his way from the stricken field he came upon a group
of men, one or two being officers, who in despair after the frightful
day felt that Rome was lost. All that was left for them was to cross the
seas and try, in a new country, to carve a career for themselves. Scipio
and young Fabius, their swords drawn, compelled them to give up this
idea and swear that they would not desert their country. These young men
did yeoman service in helping Varro to collect the remnants of his
scattered army; and Scipio was clearly marked out for high command in
years to come.

That it would come as soon as it actually did no one, however, could
have foreseen. After the battles of Ticinus and Trebia, Scipio’s father
and his uncle were sent to Spain to reconquer the lost provinces there
and prevent any help coming to Hannibal. They also stirred up trouble in
Africa. But their success was brief. When Hannibal’s brother Hasdrubal
returned to Spain the Spaniards who had enlisted in the Roman armies
deserted. Finally, four years after Cannae, Publius Scipio was defeated
and killed and Cnaeus, shut in by three armies, suffered the same fate.
To allow the Carthaginians to hold Spain was a serious danger; to defeat
them a big task. Long did the Roman Senate deliberate over who was to be
sent. There did not seem to be any one capable who could be spared.
Fabius was very old; Aemilius dead; Marcellus needed against Hannibal.
The younger generals thought the Spanish command carried more risk than

At last Scipio came forward and offered himself. A vivid account of the
impression he made on the men of his day is given by Livy.

  _Africanus, the Young Proconsul_

  At Rome, after the recovery of Capua, the Senate and people were
  as anxious about the situation in Spain as in Italy, and it was
  determined to strengthen the army there and to send a new
  commander. There was, however, no agreement about the best man for
  the post, though all felt that, as two great generals had fallen
  in the course of thirty days, their successor ought to be chosen
  with unusual care. After various names had been proposed, it was
  finally arranged that the people should elect a proconsul for the
  Spanish command, and the consuls gave notice of the day of
  election. It had been assumed that any who thought themselves
  equal to the responsibility would come forward as candidates, and
  when this expectation was disappointed, there was renewed mourning
  for the recent disasters and regret for the lost generals. Thus it
  happened that on the day of the election the citizens went down to
  the Plain despondent and without definite purpose. Turning to the
  assembled magistrates, they scanned the features of the leaders,
  who were looking helplessly from one to another, and murmured that
  the blow had been so great and that the position was now so
  hopeless that no one dared to accept the Spanish command. All at
  once P. Scipio, the son of Publius who had fallen in Spain,
  proposed himself as a candidate, though he was only twenty-four
  years of age, and took his stand in a conspicuous place. Every eye
  was fixed on him, and the shouts of applause that at once burst
  forth predicted good luck and success to his mission. Then the
  election proceeded, and P. Scipio received the votes, not only of
  every century, but of every individual. However, when the business
  was finished and impetuosity and enthusiasm had cooled, men began
  to ask themselves amid the general silence what they had really
  done, and whether favour had not carried the day against
  judgement. There was a strong feeling that the proconsul was too
  young, and some even found a bad omen in the misfortunes of his
  family and in the very name of Scipio, as he was leaving two
  households in mourning to go to provinces where he would have to
  fight over the tombs of his father and of his uncle.

  When Scipio saw the trouble and anxiety caused by this hasty
  action, he invited the people to meet him, and spoke with such
  pride and confidence of his youth and the duty entrusted to him
  and the war which he was to conduct that he awakened and renewed
  all the former enthusiasm, and filled his hearers with a more
  sanguine hope than is usually suggested by trust in promises or by
  inference from established facts. Scipio, indeed, did not merely
  deserve admiration for his genuine qualities, but from his youth
  upwards he had been endowed with a peculiar faculty for making the
  most of them. When he gave counsel to the people, he founded it on
  a vision of the night or an inspiration seemingly divine, either
  because he was in some sort influenced by superstition, or because
  he expected that his wishes and commands would be carried out
  readily if they came with a kind of oracular sanction. In very
  early life he began to create this impression, and as soon as he
  was of age, he would do no business, public or private, till he
  had gone to the Capitol and entered the temple, generally sitting
  there for a time alone and apart. By this habit, which he
  maintained all through his life, he gave support, either of set
  purpose or by accident, to a belief held by some that he was of
  divine parentage, and he thus revived a similar and equally
  baseless story, once current about Alexander the Great, that he
  was the son of a huge serpent, which had often been seen in the
  house before his birth, but glided away at the approach of any one
  and disappeared from sight. Scipio did nothing to discredit these
  wonders; in fact, he indirectly confirmed them, for, if he
  asserted nothing, he did not deny anything.

    Livy, xxvi. 18-19.

He was still very young, nevertheless he had already made people feel
confidence in him. In Spain, although he began with a bad failure since
he allowed Hasdrubal to cross the Pyrenees with his army and march to
Italy to assist Hannibal, his Spanish campaign was ably carried out and
his capture of New Carthage was a bold and brilliant exploit. When the
time came to choose a general, after the Metaurus, to attack Hannibal at
home, every one in Rome felt that Scipio was the man. He would finish
the war. There was, indeed, no serious rival; the long struggle had worn
the older generals out. Some of the old-fashioned senators distrusted
Scipio. He was too cultivated; too much interested in Greek literature
and too young. But he was the idol of the people, who adore success, and
was nominated by acclamation.

Soon the Carthaginians were so hard pressed that they sent frantic
messages to Hannibal to come to their aid. They knew that the death
struggle was upon them. Hannibal came. Even his genius could not, at
this stage, change the fortunes of war. He had no time to train the raw
Carthaginian levies. His veterans were invincible, but they were vastly
outnumbered when on the plains of Zama, five days’ march from Carthage,
he met Scipio in the final battle (202). It was a victory for Rome.
Hannibal, who always saw things as they were, knew that the long
struggle was over. Carthage must make what terms it could. These terms
were severe. The city lost all its foreign possessions, had to pay a big
indemnity, and hand over all but twenty men-of-war and all elephants; no
military operations even within Africa could be undertaken save by
permission of Rome. The city, however, was left free. Scipio set his
face firmly against those who clamoured for the utter destruction of
Carthage. In the same way he protested against the demand made six years
later for the banishment of Hannibal.

Scipio returned to Rome amid scenes of extraordinary enthusiasm and
rejoicing. All the way from Rhegium, where he landed, to Rome itself the
people came out and lined the roads, hailing him as the man who had
saved his country. He entered the city in triumph, marching to the
Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline hill to lay before the altar his
wreaths of olive and laurel. Magnificent games were held, lasting for
several days, in honour of his victory, and he himself was given the
name Africanus.

For the next few years Africanus lived in Rome the life of a private
citizen, concerned with politics, giving his spare time to the study of
Greek literature, to which he was devoted. This study he shared with
many friends, among them Laelius, who had been his devoted lieutenant in
the Spanish and African wars, Tiberius Gracchus the Elder, the husband
of Scipio’s daughter Cornelia, herself a woman of high character and
educated ability; and Aemilius Paulus, whose sister he married and whose
nephew was afterwards adopted into the family of the Scipios by the son
of Africanus and known as Scipio Aemilianus. As they read the plays,
poetry, and philosophy of the Greeks, educated Romans learned that they
were not alone in the world. Before them had lived a people who were
skilled in all the arts of life at a time when they themselves were rude
barbarians, like the Gauls whom they despised.

The Greece of their day, however, was no longer the Greece of the
glorious past. Alexander’s great empire, which had extended over half
Asia, had fallen to pieces. In Greece itself the different peoples were
quarrelling among themselves. Even after the Roman armies had freed the
Greeks from Philip of Macedonia, Antiochus of Asia threatened them; at
the Court of Antiochus was Hannibal. It was as an envoy from Rome to his
Court that Scipio met and talked with Hannibal. Later he went out as
assistant to his brother Lucius, when the latter was made commander in
the war against Antiochus, and finally defeated him at the battle of
Magnesia in Asia Minor.

By no means all educated Romans shared Scipio’s feelings about Greece.
On the contrary there were many who thought that the simplicity of the
grand old Roman character was being destroyed, while the young men were
falling into luxurious and effeminate ways. Marcus Porcius Cato, for
example, a man of the utmost uprightness and courage, took this view. He
was a hard man himself, and he wanted others to be hard. He could see no
difference between a love of beauty and luxury. He saw nothing that was
bad in the old order, nothing that was good in the new.

The Scipios, Africanus and his brother, who now bore the name of
Asiaticus, were Cato’s particular enemies. He had struggled in the
Senate with Africanus over Carthage, for the old man wanted to see the
city of Hannibal razed to the ground. He hated Scipio’s Greek ideas. He
thought him too proud and self-willed to be a good servant of the State.
After the Greek campaign Cato called upon Asiaticus to give an account
of the money spent in the wars against Antiochus, suggesting that he had
been extravagant. That such a charge should be brought against his
brother roused Scipio Africanus to passionate anger. He refused to
defend him; the character of a Scipio was its own defence. In the
presence of the Senate he tore up the account books which Cato had
called for. When Lucius was, nevertheless, condemned Scipio rescued him
by force. Thereupon he himself was charged with treason by two tribunes.
Even then his haughty spirit did not bend. Instead of pleading his cause
he reminded the people that it was the anniversary of the day on which
he had defeated Hannibal at Zama. Let them follow him to the Temple of
Jupiter and pray for more citizens like himself. The crowd obeyed. No
more was heard of the trial.

Scipio’s pride, however, was deeply injured. He had been the idol of
Rome in his youth. That he and his brother should be accused before the
Roman people was to him an unbearable sign of ingratitude and baseness
of mind. He left Rome, shaking its dust from his feet, and retired to
the country. There a few years later he died at the age of fifty-three.
In his will he ordered that his ashes should not be taken to Rome.

In the same year (183) Hannibal also died. To the last the Romans feared
him; Hannibal took poison when he heard that Nicomedes of Bithynia, at
whose Court he was, had been ordered to hand him over to Rome.

Scipio Aemilianus

The young man left to carry on the great name of Scipio was the son of
Aemilius Paulus and nephew by marriage of Africanus, whose son adopted
him into the Cornelian family.

Scipio Aemilianus, to give him the name by which he was always known
after this adoption, saw, even more clearly than Africanus had done,
both that Rome was changing and what was good and what was bad in the
change. He shared in both good and bad. No one saw more clearly than he
the baseness of the destruction of Carthage and the cruelty of the sack
of Numantia; yet it was he who, as general, had to carry them out. He
saw the dangers of the growing contrast between the increasing wealth of
the few rich, as treasures poured from all parts of the world into their
coffers, and the wretchedness of the poor in Rome; he saw the cruelty,
indifference to human life, and love of pleasure that filled men’s minds
after a series of successful wars; he saw the old simplicity of life and
high devotion to country disappearing and a new selfishness and personal
ambition growing up.

Scipio was a man of action; an excellent soldier and general. Even old
Cato, who hated the Scipios, had to admire Aemilianus. Speaking of him
he quoted a famous line of Homer: ‘He is a real man: the rest are
shadows.’ In a very profound sense this was true. The mind of Scipio
Aemilianus saw below the surface of things to the reality. He could act,
but like all really first-rate men of action--Napoleon, Hannibal,
Caesar--he was a thinker. Round his table there gathered the most
interesting men in Rome. They talked of all the questions that have
puzzled and perplexed men’s minds since men began to think at all.
Closest of his friends was Polybius, the great Greek historian who wrote
the history of the wars with Carthage. He lived in his house and
accompanied him in his wars in Spain and Africa. Polybius stood by
Scipio’s side as he watched Carthage burning to the ground (146). Orders
had come from Rome that the city was to be utterly destroyed;
a ploughshare was to be drawn across the site and a solemn curse laid on
any one who should ever rebuild there. ‘It is a wonderful sight,’ said
Aemilianus as they watched walls toppling and buildings collapsing in
the flames which rose up, a huge cloud of ruddy smoke darkening and
thickening the noonday sky of Africa, ‘but I shudder to think that some
one may some day give the same order--for Rome.’

The following sketch of his character by Polybius shows some of his
distinguishing traits:

  _Scipio Aemilianus as a Sportsman_

  After the war was decided, Paulus, in the belief that hunting was
  the best training and recreation that a young man could have, put
  the king’s huntsmen at the orders of Scipio, and gave him full
  authority over everything connected with the chase. Scipio readily
  accepted the charge and, regarding it almost as a royal office,
  continued to occupy himself with it as long as the army remained
  in Macedonia after the battle. His youth and natural disposition
  qualified him for this pursuit, like a high-bred hound, and his
  devotion to hunting became permanent, being continued when he came
  to Rome and found Polybius as enthusiastic as himself.
  Consequently, all the time that other young men spent in the
  law-courts and with morning calls, waiting about in the Forum and
  trying thus to make a favourable impression on the people, was
  passed by Scipio in hunting; and as he was constantly performing
  brilliant and notable exploits, he distinguished himself more than
  all the rest. For they could not win credit except by injuring
  others; such are the conditions of legal action; but Scipio,
  without doing any harm to any one, gained a popular reputation for
  courage, matching words with deeds. Therefore he soon excelled his
  contemporaries more than any Roman of whom we have record, though
  he followed a path to fame which, in view of Roman character and
  prejudice, was the very opposite of that chosen by his rivals.

    Polybius, xxxvi. 15. 5-12.

From Carthage came another friend of Scipio’s--the poet Terence. Born in
that city about the time of Hannibal’s death, the lad had come to Rome
as a slave. His rare parts attracted the notice of his owner, who
finally set him free. Terence was introduced to Scipio by another friend
of his. This was Caecilius, the playwriter. His plays are unfortunately
all lost, so that we have no means of judging what they were like. One
day when Caecilius was at supper he was told that the managers of the
games had sent a young man to read him a play which he had submitted to
them, and of which they thought well. Caecilius called him in and bade
him sit down on a stool on the other side of the table from that at
which he and his friends were reclining on sofas, and begin to read to
him. The young man had only read a few lines when the elder poet stopped
him. The work was so good, he said, that he ought to sit at the author’s
feet, not he at his; he called Terence up to the table. Afterwards
Caecilius took the young man to see Scipio Aemilianus; and he soon
became one of the intimate circle which Scipio had gathered round him.
Scipio and Caecilius helped him with advice, and they all worked
together at Scipio’s favourite task of improving and purifying the Latin
language. A line in one of Terence’s plays expresses the point of view
which Scipio Aemilianus and his friends tried to take. ‘I am human:
nothing human is alien to me.’ These plays are among the earliest works
of pure literature in Latin, and they show in every line the influence
of Greece. The Greek spirit was one of questioning; and its influence on
Roman thought was profound.

  [Illustration: TRAGIC AND COMIC MASKS]

Scipio Aemilianus questioned but looked on. He saw much in the present
state of Rome to disturb and displease him; he dreaded what might come
in the future, as the few grew richer and the many poorer; but he did
not take any action. His was the mind of the philosopher; like his
friends Polybius and Terence he wanted to understand. He did not believe
that things could be changed. What was to happen would happen; to
perturb and perplex oneself was useless and might be dangerous. The
people who got excited and believed that great improvements could be
brought about easily seemed to him stupid and dangerous. It was easy to
breed disorder; to spoil the things that had made Rome great; very hard
to make alterations. The men who really served the Republic were not the
politicians clamouring in the market-place, orating in the Assembly, or
the idle dirty mobs who listened to them and were ready to shout for
this to-day and the other thing to-morrow. Them Scipio scorned. The real
workers and builders he thought were the silent soldiers fighting and
working in all the dreariness and discomfort of camps in foreign
countries. In Scipio there was a good deal of the temper of that Lucius
Junius Brutus who in the earliest days of the Republic had condemned his
own sons to death for treason to the State. He judged his own friends
and relations more, not less, severely than other people. Thus when
Tiberius Gracchus, the kinsman and brother-in-law of Scipio (his own
wife was Sempronia, the sister of Gracchus) brought in his Land Bill and
came, over it, into conflict with the Senate, Scipio was against him.
When disorders and rioting in the streets of Rome grew out of the
struggle over the Land Bill and Tiberius was murdered, Scipio made a
speech in the Senate in which he said that Tiberius had deserved his
death. He quoted a line of Homer: ‘So perish all who do the like again.’
When the people shouted him down in their anger he turned on them with
cold contempt--fear of any kind was not in Scipio--and said, ‘Be silent,
ye to whom Italy is only a step-mother.’ Speeches like that did not make
him popular. Scipio was so much respected that men always listened when
he spoke. There was something lofty and splendid about him and no
soldier of his day could compare with him. But he stood aloof. Outside
his own circle of close friends he was little known and less understood.

His death was sudden and mysterious. One day after speaking in the
Senate he returned home apparently well and in his ordinary calm frame
of mind. Nothing had occurred to disturb him. He did not seem to be
disturbed about anything. Next morning he was found dead in his bed.
What had happened was never known. It was whispered about that he had
been murdered.


The Gracchi

No account of the heroes of Roman History would be complete or truthful
which left out the women. Although the Roman woman was not supposed to
take any share in public affairs, although she was, until she married,
subject to the authority of her father, and afterwards to that of her
husband, there are innumerable stories which show how great was the real
part played by women in Roman life, even in quite early times. They were
often as well educated as the men, sometimes better.

This was clearly the case with Cornelia, the daughter of Scipio
Africanus, and wife of Tiberius Gracchus the elder. Left a widow when
the eldest of her three children, named Tiberius after his father, was
but a lad, she conducted their training herself. From her her sons and
daughter learned to be simple and hardy in their habits, truthful and
upright in their minds, and to care for things of the spirit rather than
of the body, as she did herself. When her friends boasted to her of the
rich furnishing of their houses, of their robes of silk, their ornaments
and jewels, Cornelia would turn to her children and say, ‘These are my
treasures.’ She taught Tiberius and Caius and their sister that what
mattered was not what a man had but what he was. They were rich. They
bore an honoured name. But these things would not give honour unless
they had the soul of honour in themselves. They must strive not for
their own pleasure or comfort or even for their own personal glory, but
to live a life of true service to their fellow citizens. And that meant
that they must see things as they were, and not be contented with the
names people gave them. They wanted to see Rome great and to help it to
grow greater. She taught them that a city, like a man, was great only
when it strove for right and justice. Mere wealth and power did not make
it so.

These thoughts sank into the minds of the young Gracchi. As they grew up
they cared for Greek learning, art, and literature, poetry, and all the
things that make life beautiful, as Scipio Aemilianus and Laelius did;
but it troubled them, as it had not troubled Scipio, that these good
things reached only the few, while the great body of the people had no
share in them at all. To them, as once to Caius Flaminius, it seemed
wrong as well as dangerous that Rome should be made up, as they saw that
it was, of two sorts of people, ever more and more separated from each
other; the few who had everything and the many who had nothing. They
could not feel, as Coriolanus had done, as Fabius had done, as Cato did,
and as Scipio Aemilianus, it seemed to them, was doing more and more,
that all good was to be found among the well-to-do and cultured few, and
that what happened to the many did not matter. It seemed to them that it
did matter if the many were poor, ignorant, stupid. It was not necessary
that they should be so. They were ignorant and stupid because they were
poor. If their lot were less hard they might be clever and good, or at
any rate better than at present.

So it seemed to Tiberius Gracchus and later to his younger brother
Caius, as they looked at what they saw in the light of what Cornelia had
taught them. They could not find life beautiful while so many people
were wretched, or feel that Rome was the city of their dreams, however
rich and powerful it might be, however many lands across the seas owned
its sway, so long as the ordinary men who served as soldiers in Rome’s
armies, the ordinary women who kept their homes and brought up their
children, were miserable.

The great wars which brought glory to generals and wealth and pride to
Rome actually made the poor more miserable, for many reasons, and for
two in particular. One was the growing number of slaves in the city.
After every campaign thousands of prisoners were taken and these
prisoners were not given back at the end of the war; they became the
slaves of the conqueror. There were so many slaves in Rome after the
wars with Sicily, Carthage, Spain, Greece, Asia Minor, that it was by no
means easy for the ordinary Roman to get work. The other reason was the
difficulty of getting land. Once, before the long wars, Italy had been a
country of small farmers and peasants who lived on a little piece of
land, sometimes rented and sometimes their own, and cultivated it. There
were very few of these happy farmers now. The men had been called away
to the wars; many never came back. What happened was this. While the man
was away at the wars, his wife, with children to look after, and less
strong than he, could seldom cultivate the land fully. Even if she
managed to keep the children fed, she had no money or produce over with
which to pay the rent. Then the landlord would turn her out and take the
plot and add it to his own estate. This was happening all over Italy. If
the owner were not turned out, the land went to rack and ruin from
neglect. Thus many a soldier, when he did come back, found his home
gone. Others, weary, worn, and perhaps disabled after long years of the
hardships of war, had neither the strength nor energy to set to the
heavy work of digging and preparing land that had been neglected for
years. At the same time the common lands, which were supposed to belong
to the whole people, who might graze their cattle or cut wood on them,
were taken in bit by bit by the big landlords in the war years. Thus men
who wanted land could not get it. Big estates grew bigger, and they were
run largely by slave-labour. The independent husbandman, who had been
the backbone of the Roman army, was vanishing. A few people began, in
Scipio’s day, to be worried about this question of the land, because
they saw that if the peasants and farmers disappeared, the best soldiers
would disappear also.

All this was well known; it had been going on for long. People talked,
but nothing was done. Sometimes, however, there comes a man who has the
power to see and be moved to action by a thing which most people, out of
habit or laziness, take as a matter of course. Tiberius Gracchus was
such a man. In his young manhood he was quiet, rather shy, and very
silent; he thought a great deal and said little about it. Some people
regarded him as slow. His was the slowness of a mind that takes a long
time to be sure of a thing but, once sure, never lets go. When he did
speak, men observed that his remarks were just and well considered and
went to the heart of the matter. His devotion to duty was obvious; as a
soldier he won the respect and love of his men by his unvarying fairness
of temper and the fact that he never asked them to take a risk or bear a
hardship that he did not share himself. And he acquired, too,
a reputation for integrity which was, as Plutarch tells us, of infinite

  _Tiberius Gracchus. The Value of a Reputation for Integrity_

  After the Libyan expedition Gracchus was elected quaestor, and it
  was his lot to serve against the Numantines under the Consul Gaius
  Mancinus, who had some good qualities, but was the most
  unfortunate of Roman generals. Thus unexpected situations and
  reverses in the field brought more clearly into light, not only
  the ability and courage of Tiberius, but--what was more
  remarkable--his respect and regard for his superior, who was so
  crushed by disaster that he hardly knew whether he was in command
  or not. After some decisive defeats Mancinus left his camp and
  attempted to retire by night, but the Numantines, being aware of
  his movements, at once occupied the camp, fell upon his troops as
  they fled, made havoc of the rear, and drove the whole army on to
  difficult ground, from which it was impossible to escape.
  Whereupon, in despair of forcing a way into safety, he sent envoys
  with proposals for a truce and conditions of peace. The enemy
  replied that they trusted no one except Tiberius and insisted that
  he should be sent to them. This attitude was partly due to their
  high opinion of Tiberius, whose reputation was familiar to all,
  partly to the memory of his father, who after fighting against the
  Spanish tribes and subduing many of them settled terms of peace
  with the Numantines and persuaded the Roman people strictly to
  confirm and keep them. Thus it came about that Tiberius was sent;
  and after some give and take in negotiations he made a treaty, and
  beyond question saved twenty thousand Roman citizens, besides
  attendants and camp followers.

    Plutarch, liii. 5.

As Tiberius travelled through Italy on his way to the wars in Spain he
looked at the condition of the people of his own country, thought of the
fortunes of his own soldiers, and was moved to indignation and distress
by what he saw. On the banners carried into battle, above the public
buildings, at the head of the laws and decrees issued by the Government,
there stood the letters ‘S.P.Q.R.’--the Senate and People of Rome. The
senators, he knew, were rich and growing richer. The name of Rome was
carried far and wide. But what of the people? As Tiberius himself said,
‘The wild beasts of Italy have their lairs and hiding places, but those
who fight and die for Italy wander homeless with their wives and
children and have nothing that they can call their own except the air
and sunlight.’

Tiberius saw and felt. But seeing and feeling were not enough. He
determined to act. The land question, the homelessness and poverty of
the people, and the army question were, as he saw it, really part of the
same. He resolved to deal with them together.

When he came back from his second term of service in Spain (134) he got
himself elected as one of the tribunes of the people. Almost at once he
introduced his Land Bill. The idea of this Bill was simple. All over
Italy the State of Rome owned great estates. But for years back the
estates had either been let to or occupied by the big landowners or
wealthy men of Rome. They were in possession. But the lands did not
belong to them. There was no reason in law or justice why the Republic
should not take back and use what was its own. These lands, cut up into
small holdings, would provide a means of livelihood to hundreds of
thousands of peasant proprietors. The miserable poverty of Rome could be
swept away. A new race would grow up.

  [Illustration: COSTUME. THE ROMAN TOGA,
  from a terra-cotta in the British Museum]

The Bill was a reasonable one. It was received with enthusiasm by the
poorer classes. Moderate men saw that it was a sincere effort to tackle
a state of things they knew and deplored. It was necessary to do
something for the poor, they knew; they were glad of any plan which
promised to reduce the luxury and display of the rich. But the big
landowners, whose estates were going to be divided, who were being
called upon to give back what, after all, had never been their own, were
furious. They were ready to go to any lengths to defeat the Bill. To
them Tiberius was a dangerous man, a traitor to his own class. Since
they were in a minority they knew that if the matter came to a vote they
would be defeated. Feeling grew more excited as the voting day drew
near. Tiberius had become the darling of the people; but he had to go
about armed for fear of an attack from the landlords’ party. At last the
latter hit on an ingenious device. The tribunes, the magistrates who
represented the poor classes, or plebeians as they were called, were ten
in number, one to represent each of the original ten tribes. If one of
them chose he could stop anything the others wanted to do by saying
‘Veto’--I forbid. This power was intended to be used sparingly and only
in times of grave danger. Originally, indeed, the tribune could only say
Veto on religious grounds; because having inspected the omens he saw
something which showed that the gods were unfavourable. The landlords,
however, now persuaded Octavius, one of the colleagues of Tiberius, to
say Veto to his Land Bill. Tiberius understood what had happened. He
tried to persuade Octavius to give way. In vain. Then, as happens with
men who appear very quiet and hard to move, his anger, which had been
slowly mounting, burst out. He went down to the assembly of the people
and made a powerful attack upon Octavius. How could a man be said to
represent the people, he asked, to be a tribune of the people, who was
doing his best to prevent a measure which the people desired and which
was altogether for their good? There was a scene of great excitement.
Tiberius called upon Octavius to resign. Octavius refused. Then Tiberius
called for the election of another tribune in Octavius’s place. This was
against all rule and order. Nevertheless it was done. Octavius was
removed. A new tribune was elected in his stead. Amid great rejoicing
the Land Bill was passed.

The landlords were full of a deep bitterness against Tiberius and
accused him of all kinds of things. They said that he wanted to upset
the State and tear up the laws because he had passed a Bill taking from
them a portion of their lands which had never really belonged to them.
He, however, went quietly on with his work. A committee was set up, on
which were both Tiberius and his brilliant young brother Caius, to
divide the common land and give it out in lots to the citizens who
needed and could work it. This was a long task. At the end of the year
Gracchus ceased to be tribune. His work was not finished. The Senate had
refused to give the Land Commission any money for their expenses and was
putting every kind of difficulty in the way of their getting on with
their task. Moreover, in view of the hatred of the landlords Gracchus
himself, as a private person, was hardly safe. Therefore, when the
election time came he asked to be chosen as tribune again.

A great many of the citizens who had come in from the country districts
to vote for the Land Bill had gone back again; others had left Rome to
prepare for or take up the new allotments. The charges made against
Gracchus made timid people afraid; they were worried when it was said
that a man could not legally be elected tribune for two years running.
They were still further alarmed by Gracchus’s own speeches. Feeling ran
very high on both sides, and it was plain that the election day would
not go off without some disturbance.

Rioting, indeed, broke out in the Capitol almost before the sun rose and
fighting with sticks and stones between those who wanted Tiberius
elected and those who did not. As always happens, many joined in who
neither knew nor cared what the trouble was all about. When Tiberius
himself appeared he raised his hand to summon his friends to gather
round him. This was reported to the Senate by a man who cried, ‘Tiberius
Gracchus has raised his hand to his head: he is asking the citizens to
crown him.’ On this Nasica, a senator who hated Gracchus, demanded that
he should be put to death as a traitor. When the consul refused Nasica
rushed out with a body of senators and, charging the people who stood
round Tiberius, broke through and killed him almost at once (133). In
the panic many others were slain and trampled underfoot. The body of
Gracchus was cast into the Tiber. Many of his supporters were
imprisoned. Others had all their property taken away.

The senators doubtless hoped that, Tiberius dead, his work would soon be
forgotten. But the evils he had tried to remedy remained. And abroad
serving in the army was his brother Caius, who did not forget. ‘Whither
can I go?’ said Caius. ‘What place is there for me in Rome? The Capitol
reeks with my brother’s blood. In my home my mother sits weeping and
lamenting for her murdered son.’ His was a nature very different from
his brother’s. Tiberius was quiet, gentle, kindly, naturally rather
dreamy; a man who in happier times would have been content with the
uneventful life of a gentleman. Caius was fiery and passionate, filled
with an energy that must have found some outlet for itself in whatever
circumstances he had lived. He loved his brother and his death filled
his heart with glowing anger and a fixed determination that his work and
life should not be wasted. He would carry out Tiberius’s ideals; and
carry them farther than Tiberius had ever dreamed.

Caius Gracchus was nine years younger than Tiberius and a man of more
remarkable character and more brilliant gifts than his brother. The
sense of a great wrong made Tiberius burn with indignation, and in his
indignation he took to politics; Caius had a natural genius for
politics. His mind ranged forward into the future; whereas Tiberius
worked blindly, in the dark, Caius knew where he wanted to go. And he
understood men as his brother had never done. Without any of the shy
aloofness that at times gave Tiberius the appearance of more strength
than he really possessed, Caius made people like him without moving away
by so much as an inch from the purpose he had in mind. That purpose was
a change far more revolutionary than Tiberius had dreamed of.

Only twenty years of age at the time of his brother’s murder, Caius
spent the next ten years in public service. Like Aemilianus he held it
every man’s duty to work for the Republic. But while Aemilianus thought
that for such work obedience, faithfulness, courage, temperance were all
that were required of a man, Caius, who had these virtues in a high
degree, had also an active questioning mind. It did not seem to him that
the men who ruled the State were wise or just or generous enough to lay
down, once for all, the lines on which it was to move for ever. The
citizen had a duty to the Republic beyond that of loyal and obedient
devotion. He must use not only his arm in its service but his mind also.
He must help it to grow; make Rome worthy of the greatness about which
people talked so lightly and easily. The greatness had been won at a
fearful price. Hundreds of thousands of Roman soldiers had laid down
their lives to make it; hundreds of thousands more had given their best
years to its service, asking no reward but that the Republic should
stand safe. It could, Caius thought, only be safe, only be great in so
far as it became more and more the city of free men in fact as well as

With such thoughts as these moving in his mind he turned in loathing
from the life of the young Roman noble of his own age and class. He had
no use for personal luxury; wine and fine clothes and a gorgeous house
in which to live a life of ease and idleness--these things were nothing
to him. While serving abroad in Spain, Sardinia, and elsewhere, he
shared the hardships of his soldiers, and spent his own money in the
effort to make their hard lot less severe. Such leisure as he had was
occupied in reading. In this way he disciplined and fortified his mind.
Moreover, Caius had before him a fixed purpose, a clearly determined
work in life. For that he was preparing. One of his weapons was to be
the art of speech. He studied, therefore, particularly the works of the
great Greek orators. He wanted to learn, and he did learn, how to use
words to persuade men and impel them to action. He made himself one of
the greatest orators Rome knew. His speeches are lost, but accounts of
them remain, and they tell how Caius could set his hearers on fire, stir
them to tears or anger.

  [Illustration: ELABORATE LAMP
  to show the luxury of later times]

When, nine years after Tiberius’s death, Caius Gracchus came back to
Rome (124), he found that men were waiting eagerly for him. Tiberius had
not been forgotten. The poor hoped, the rich feared that Caius had come
as his avenger. When he stood for the tribuneship the party in the
Senate that had thwarted and finally murdered Tiberius strained every
nerve to prevent Caius’s election. They did not wait to hear what his
plans were. They knew that he belonged to the men of the new generation
who wanted far-reaching changes, and they believed that any change must
be at their expense. They at once began attacking Caius. They accused
him of coming home before his time of service abroad was up. They even
declared that he, the most scrupulously honest and disinterested of men,
had made more money than he ought to have done from the various posts he
had held. Caius turned on them. He had already served twelve years in
the army. As for making money: ‘I am the only man who went out with a
full purse and returned with an empty one. Others took out casks of wine
for themselves, and when they had emptied them brought the casks back
filled with gold and silver.’ He lived not in the rich quarter of Rome
among the high-born and wealthy, but among the poor near the Forum. He
was elected tribune by an overwhelming majority and at once set to work.

His main idea was a really great and original one; nothing less than the
extension of Roman citizenship, in so far as voting rights went, to the
people of Italy. The Italians were called to serve in Rome’s armies. The
best soldiers, indeed, had always come from outside the capital. The
Italians paid heavier taxes; they ought to share in the benefits of Rome
and have a voice in its government. Caius Gracchus indeed dreamed of
making the Government of Rome a real democracy. It was a magnificent
dream; but the people were not ready for it. In fact it was only after a
bitter war that the Italians won from the Romans the right to vote.
Gracchus knew that his plan could not be carried through at once; but he
had worked out a series of Bills which would, he believed, pave the way
for it. Until they were through he said nothing of his great scheme.

  _Caius Gracchus. The varied Activities of a popular Leader_

  When the people had not only passed this law, but actually
  commissioned Gracchus to appoint the judges from the Order of the
  Knights, he became invested with a kind of royal authority, and
  even the senators were ready to listen to his counsel. When he
  gave it, he always proposed something to their credit, as, for
  example, a most just and honourable decree about the corn which
  the proconsul Fabius had sent from Spain. He persuaded the Senate
  to sell the corn and return the money to the cities from which it
  came, and furthermore to censure Fabius for making his rule
  burdensome and unendurable to the inhabitants; and this brought
  him great reputation and popularity in the provinces. He proposed,
  too, to send out colonies and to make roads and to build
  granaries, personally managing and controlling all these
  undertakings, never failing in attention to a mass of details, but
  with extraordinary quickness and application working out each task
  as if it alone engaged his efforts, with the result that even
  those who hated and feared him were astounded at his universal
  thoroughness and efficiency. Most people on meeting him were
  surprised to see him surrounded by contractors, craftsmen,
  ambassadors, commanders, soldiers, and scholars. Treating them all
  with an easy good nature, being at once kind and dignified, and
  suiting himself to the character of the individual, he proved that
  it was gross slander to call him dictatorial, or presumptuous, or
  violent. Thus his gift for popular leadership was shown rather in
  personal association and conduct than in public speeches.

    Plutarch, liv. 6.

He was a tremendous worker and all his plans were thought out to the
smallest detail. They were not vague ideas on paper. He began on his
land policy. If it were to have any chance of being carried he must, he
saw, break the solid majority of the landowning classes and their
friends. The most important of these friends were the class known as the
Knights, or Equestrian Order. The Senate was composed of men selected
from among those who had held one of the high offices of State. Senators
might not take part in business, but they alone served as jurors to try
the cases which concerned people who carried it on, and particularly
those who carried on one important kind of business, that of
tax-collecting in the provinces. This was largely in the hands of the
knights. Their name went back to the days of the old constitution when
men of a certain wealth served in the cavalry, and were given votes as
so serving. The so-called Equestrian Order had greatly grown in number.
They were the money-makers, financiers, capitalists of Rome. As against
changes in the land system they might stand with the Senate, but when
Caius Gracchus proposed that the juries which tried people for political
offences should be drawn not from the Senate, but from the knights, he
won their support against it. He then turned to win that of the people
by a new Corn Law which arranged that the Government should buy corn
wholesale and supply it to the Roman people at a fixed low price. From
this he turned to other constructive measures. He revived his brother’s
Land Laws; started a great road-building scheme; and worked out a plan
for the reorganization of the army. Over the detailed working out of all
these big plans he watched himself with the eye of a practical man whom
nothing escaped. For Caius, though his ideas were large and
far-reaching, and his mind grasped problems that the ordinary Roman
politician did not begin to see, was no dreamer. He was an organizer of
consummate ability and possessed a remarkable knowledge of facts and of
men. His house became a sort of great Government office, buzzing with
hard work from morning until night.

In the following year he was re-elected and at once moved on to the next
stage in his policy, a big scheme of land settlement and colonization,
very much on the lines now worked by Canada and our other Colonies who
assist intending settlers by giving them cheap passages out and plots of
land in new territories. This done, he launched his plan of granting
Roman citizenship to the Italians.

Here, however, he came into collision with rich and poor at once. The
ordinary Roman citizen was jealous of his rights and did not want to
share them. Caius’s popularity began to fall off at once. The idea of
Italy a nation was one for which the Romans were not ready. They had
been angry when Tiberius wanted to give farms to the Italians; Caius’s
plan of giving them votes and thereby a share in the games, cheap corn,
and other joys of Roman life, made them far more angry. They despised
the Italians and cared nothing for their grievances. Caius could not
stir them to any sympathy.

The leaders of the Senatorial party realized at once what had happened,
and determined to strike. An outbreak of disorder at a meeting at which
Caius was speaking gave them their chance. The consul declared that the
State was in danger and proclaimed a state of siege in the city. Then he
went out with armed bands and in the streets Caius himself and a number
of his supporters were cut down and slain (121).

Thus both Caius and Tiberius Gracchus perished. Cornelia their mother
left Rome and went to live at Misenum. Of her sons she spoke as of two
heroes who had given their lives for their country. Her pride in them
remained untarnished, for they had died true to the things in which they
believed. Indeed, many years had not passed before statues to the
brothers were set up in the public places in Rome and offerings brought
there by the people who realized, too late, how greatly both Tiberius
and Caius had served them. Had their work been carried through, Rome
might have been spared the terrible disasters that came upon the city in
the next half-century. As it was, the senators breathed with relief that
Caius had followed his brother to a bloody grave; they did not see that
those who opposed reform were preparing the way for revolution and civil


Cato the Censor

At any time there are always some people who look back and say, ‘Ah,
things are not what they were. There are no such men nowadays as there
used to be. The good old days are over. When I was young....’ and so on.
Such men see in change nothing but evil. There is, to some minds,
a danger in every change: but there may be greater danger in standing

The evils that men like the Gracchi saw in their own time made them
desire to see the life of Rome move forward to other and better ways.
A new world had opened round them: new ideas, new forces were making
themselves felt. Rome was no longer a small city, whose existence was
closed in by its own walls; it was the centre of a great dominion, and
touched the life of other peoples and nations at innumerable points. The
ways of the old could not be those of the new Rome. They saw the
difficulties and risks, but they saw too the promise of better things to
be won.

  [Illustration: THE TOMB OF A ROMAN FAMILY:
  to show simplicity of dress]

Very different was the outlook of a man like Marcus Porcius Cato. To him
the ancient ways alone seemed right. He modelled his own life and
actions so far as he could upon the heroes of the past, especially on
those like Cincinnatus, who were noted for their simplicity and
frugality. Cincinnatus, though he had held the highest offices in Rome,
was found driving his own plough by those who came from Rome in an hour
of peril to ask him to take over the highest power in the State. So Cato
kept his dress, the furnishings of his house and table, and everything
about him as plain as those he might have had in the days when every one
was poor. In his own record of his life he reports that he never wore a
garment that cost him more than a hundred drachmae; that even when
praetor or consul he drank the same wine as his slaves; that a dinner
never cost him from the market above thirty pence; and that he was thus
frugal for the sake of his country, that he might be able to endure the
harder service in war. He adds that having got, among some goods he was
heir to, a piece of Babylonian tapestry, he sold it immediately; that
the walls of his country houses were neither plastered nor white-washed;
that he never gave more for a slave than fifteen hundred drachmae, as
not requiring in his servants delicate shapes and fine faces but
strength and ability to labour, that they might be fit to be employed in
his stables, about his cattle or on such-like business; and that he
thought proper to sell them again when they grew old, that he might have
no useless persons to maintain. In a word he thought nothing cheap that
was superfluous, that what a man has no need of is dear even at a penny;
and that it is much better to have fields where the plough goes and
cattle feed, than gardens and walks that require much watering and
sweeping. This stern simplicity he carried throughout his life and in
words of eloquence (he was one of the most powerful speakers in Rome) he
tried to get others to imitate him.

  [Illustration: PLOUGHING: a terra-cotta group]

Cato’s own character was of remarkable firmness. He did not ask other
people to do what he would not do himself. He served in war again and
again, and distinguished himself as a soldier, though his harshness made
him detested by the peoples he conquered, for instance in Spain. But he
wanted every one to think and live in his way, and judged with cruel
severity those who thought or acted otherwise. The key to his character,
both its strength and its weakness, is given by Plutarch when he remarks
that ‘Goodness moves in a larger sphere than justice.’ Cato was just:
but his justice was often harsh, cruel, and ungenerous. Thus he left his
war-horse behind him when he left Spain, to save the public purse the
charge of his freight, just as he sold his slaves when they became too
old to work. In this we see carefulness and indifference to comfort and
luxury turning to parsimony and meanness. As Cato grew older he became
more and more fond of having money though not of spending it. He himself
had prospered in life and, as he grew older, became extremely rich both
from his farms and from lending money, at high interest, to shipping and
other companies. For those who did not succeed he had a very severe
judgement and small pity, as for those who gave way to any of the faults
from which he was free. He judged instead of understanding them. His
judgement was just but not sympathetic. His own account of the duties of
a bailiff and his wife gives an excellent idea of the man.

  _The Duties of a Bailiff and his Wife_

  These will be your duties as bailiff. Maintain strict discipline;
  observe rest-days; do not lay hands on the property of another,
  but keep a careful watch over your own. It is your business to
  settle disputes in the household and to punish offences without
  excessive severity. The household ought to be well cared for,
  never suffering from cold or hunger, and should be sufficiently
  employed; in which case it will be easier to stop unruliness and
  dishonesty. If your conduct is good, your example will be
  followed; if you are wronged, your master will inflict the
  punishment. Reward merit, and thus encourage others to exert
  themselves. Do not waste time in taking walks; always be sober,
  and never go out to dinner. See that your master’s orders are
  carried out, and do not suppose that you are wiser than he is. His
  friends should be your friends, and you should obey those whom you
  are bidden to obey. Do not sacrifice at the cross-ways and on the
  hearth of the homestead except at the great festival of the
  _Lares_. Do not make an advance without your master’s knowledge,
  but exact all that is due to him. Never lend seed-corn,
  provisions, meal, grain, wine, or oil to any one. There should be
  two or three households to which you apply in times of need, and
  which you similarly help; but no more. Be punctual in settling
  accounts with your master. Special labour on the land, paid by the
  day, should not be employed beyond the term agreed. Buy nothing
  without your master’s knowledge, nor, indeed, keep any transaction
  from him. Let no one sponge upon you; consult no soothsayer,
  augur, prophet, or Chaldaean. Do not stint the sowing; for the
  result will be a poor crop. Acquaint yourself thoroughly with all
  the work on the farm, and often do some yourself, as long as it
  does not overtire you. Thus you will understand the feelings of
  the workers and they, knowing this, will be more contented, while
  you will enjoy better health, have less taste for idle walks, and
  be more ready for sleep. Be first to get up in the morning, and
  last to go to bed at night, taking care that the house is locked
  up, that everyone is at rest in his proper place, and that the
  animals have got their fodder.

  You should take care, too, that your wife does not neglect her
  duties. Make her fear you. Do not let her indulge in luxury. She
  should see as little as possible of her neighbours and other
  female friends; she should not entertain at home or go out to
  dinner, or waste time in walks. Do not let her sacrifice, or
  depute any one else to sacrifice, without the orders of her master
  or mistress; for it must be understood that the master sacrifices
  for all the household. She should be neat, and keep the house neat
  and swept, and every day, before she goes to bed, she should see
  that the hearth is clean and the ashes gathered on to the embers.
  On days of festival, Kalends, Nones, or Ides, she should lay a
  garland on the hearth and during the same days offer up prayer to
  the Lar of the house for plenty. It is her business to see that
  food is cooked for you and everybody else, and to keep a good
  supply of poultry and eggs.

    Cato, _De Re Rustica_, v. 1-5; cxliii. 1-2.

  [Illustration: THE SHRINE OF THE LAR
  from a house in Pompeii]

This same just but hard and ungenerous spirit is seen in Cato’s public
life. As Censor he had the right to strike off the roll of senators men
who were in any respect unworthy. In doing this Cato was fearless. He
attacked the most popular men in Rome and did not yield an inch when
there was a howl against him. Public money was to him as sacred as
private, and ought, he held, to be husbanded in the same careful way.
Thus he attacked the brother of Scipio Africanus, because, as he said,
he had spent more than he ought on his campaigns. He admired Scipio
greatly. Cato was far too intelligent not to appreciate his high
qualities of mind and character: but he thought him a new and therefore
dangerous kind of man.

Fifty years after the battle of Zama the Carthaginians, who were not
allowed by the treaty to make war without the permission of Rome, sent
an appeal for protection against Masannasa, the King of Numidia, who had
gradually been encroaching on their territory. A Commission was sent out
from Rome to inquire, with Cato at its head. Cato came back possessed by
one idea, which never afterwards left him. ‘Carthage must be destroyed.
Rome would not be safe until it was blotted out.’ When it was pointed
out to him that the city was in no sense dangerous to Rome, that it had
practically no arms, absolutely no fleet, and had shown in fifty years
no sort of desire to attack Rome, was indeed too weak even to defend
itself against attack, Cato paid no heed. It did not stir him when
Scipio urged that to attack a defeated and helpless city was mean and
unworthy of Rome, that its greatness would not be increased by
destroying a beaten foe. Cato paid no heed. Carthage was rich and
flourishing: it might one day be a danger again. It was taking trade
that Rome might get, it possessed riches Rome might have. He was a
powerful and effective speaker and his name stood high in Rome. What he
said had a great influence because his character was deeply respected.
Though old, his red hair quite white, he had lost none of his vigour.
His dry humour could still make the Senate laugh, and his passionate
earnestness rouse them to anger. His grey eyes sparkled, his long white
teeth flashed when, day in, day out, whatever the main subject of his
speech, the inflexible old man always ended with the words, ‘Carthage
must be destroyed’.

Cato had his way in the end. The Romans carried out the destruction of
Carthage (146). It was a mean and disgraceful act. The Carthaginians had
already submitted, without terms, to the mercy of the Roman people. When
the consuls arrived they first demanded that all arms should be
collected and given up: then that all the inhabitants should depart and
the city itself be removed. This was too much. The desperate people
resolved to resist, and resist they did with terrible and extraordinary

Cato himself did not live through the siege: but he died knowing that
his fierce will had its way. Carthage was to be destroyed. As a city it
was to exist no longer.


Caius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla

To understand the strange and in many ways sinister characters of Caius
Marius and of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, we must have in our minds a
picture of the dark times in which they lived. At a crisis in the life
of the State Sulla showed courage, decision and will, and a stern
devotion to his country which enabled him, in his own way, to save it.
In these things he showed that he was a Roman of the old breed. Until
this crisis came Sulla appeared no better than the other aristocrats of
his time: like them he was careless of everything save his own selfish
pleasure; always he remained hard, cruel, indifferent to the lives,
feelings, and happiness of others. Whereas both Tiberius and Caius
Gracchus lived and died for an idea greater than themselves, Sulla’s was
a mind incapable of idealism. He and Caius Marius, his great rival, are
alike in nothing except the harsh cruelty that belongs to times of
revolutionary upheaval. In all other respects they are as unlike as any
two men that ever lived. Marius was a son of the soil, a soldier with a
soldier’s merits--courage, rude good humour, careless generosity--and
his faults--cruelty, coarseness, indifference to everything but the
rudest of pleasures. His one big work was the reconstruction of the
army. Sulla was an aristocrat to the finger-tips: proud, cold-blooded,
indifferent, highly educated, with a deep disbelief in everything and
everybody. He had a remarkable intellect, and a physical beauty which
attracted women without number. But it is doubtful whether he ever cared
for a human creature. His extraordinary courage and his equally
extraordinary indifference rested on a chilling belief in Fate. He was
lucky: he called himself Sulla Felix; but nothing in the end was going
to make any difference.

  [Illustration: THE ARISTOCRAT distributing largesse]

To see Marius and Sulla against the background of their time the events
must be traced that followed on the death of Caius Gracchus.

Tiberius Gracchus, and far more clearly his brother Caius, had seen the
growing dangers that threatened Rome, if no wise steps were taken in
time to meet them. Both brothers gave their lives in the effort to save
their country. Their sacrifice was vain. The men who had power in their
hands were blind to the great change that was taking place. They tried
to compel the stream to go on flowing in its old channels, although the
weight of waters had grown too great for them to carry. The result was
that suddenly the waters broke loose and flooded everything. Rome, all
Italy, was torn by a bloody and terrible civil war.

At the time many people put these things down to the Gracchi. They had
stirred up the lower orders and the Italians to discontent and
bitterness. They had set strife between classes in Rome: roused the
middle class against the senators and the mob against both. This was not
a just statement. Caius Gracchus had thought out a great plan of reform
that, if carried through, might have saved Rome and Italy from
revolution and civil war. He had to win people to his side. In order to
do so he passed measures that were not good in themselves but only as
means to his great end. Thus he made the knights, the new class of
wealthy men, judges instead of the senators; and gave doles of bread to
the Roman populace in the hope that he would then be able to persuade
them to give votes to the Italians and so make Italy really one.

  The evil that men do lives after them:
  The good is oft interréd with their bones.

It was so with Caius Gracchus.

  [Illustration: THE FISHERMAN]

But the real cause of the civil war lay much deeper than the work of any
single man or group of men. It was, in the main, the fact that while
Rome had grown, and grown into a new world, the old system of government
remained, and did not fit this new world. Rome was beginning to be a
great trading empire. Yet wealth and power was jealously held by a small
class in Rome in their own hands. The men of this class grew rich. They
went out to the provinces, to Sicily, Greece, and Spain, as governors
and made great fortunes. They came home with their riches and bought up
the land that had once belonged to peasants and farmers, and worked this
land with slaves. The condition of these slaves in the country was
miserable, especially that of those who lived herded in camps. The greed
of the agents of the tax-collecting companies made the Roman name hated
in the provinces. In Italy, too, there was deep discontent. To keep the
Roman poor quiet the ruling classes gave them games and bread-doles;
they altered the laws so that no Roman citizen could be condemned to
death for any offence. This kept the Romans quiet, but it made the
Italians, who had no share in it, increasingly restive.

  [Illustration: THE RICH MATRON]

It had been clear to the far-seeing mind of Caius Gracchus that unless
Rome could draw fresh blood and life and energy from Italy it must
perish. The material wealth that was pouring into the city from all
parts of the world, from Carthage and Corinth and the conquered kingdoms
of the East, was doing more harm than good. Too many men, rich as well
as poor, were beginning to care only for pleasure and for money as a
means to pleasure. The luxury and extravagance of the rich made the
poverty of the poor bitter, and these poor, uneducated, idle, accustomed
to be kept in a good temper by splendid shows and presents of corn and
wine, were ready at any moment to rise in disorder and destroy those who
tried to help them. Most of them were not liable to military
service--that was still confined to the old classes of men who held
land; but they had votes, while the Italians had none. The town mob was
swollen by freedmen--slaves who had saved enough money to buy themselves
off--they too had votes.

The Roman voters cared nothing for the wrongs of the Italians, or of the
people of the provinces. Like the rich, who lived on the revenues of the
tax-collecting companies, they thought the rest of the world was there
merely to supply them with comfort and luxuries. But while in Rome
itself people were more and more sharply divided between the ‘have nots’
and the ‘haves’, all round them there was a growing dissatisfaction and
discontent. The strife at home meant that enterprises abroad were badly
managed. Many army commanders and provincial governors were incompetent
and corrupt. There was no longer the old high Roman sense of duty and
honesty. In its stead were pride, greed, and cruelty. The spirit that
had shown itself in the savage destruction of Carthage and Corinth was
shown again in the treatment of Jugurtha.

  [Illustration: THE SHEPHERDESS]

Jugurtha, the King of Numidia, threw off the Roman yoke and defied every
Roman general sent against him until Caius Marius was sent out (107).
Marius, the son of humble parents, had been marked by Scipio Aemilianus,
under whom he served in Africa, as a coming man: but though he had
already shown great gifts as a leader the Senate did not want to give
him the command against Jugurtha because of his low birth, rude manners,
and the love in which he was held by the Roman mob. He was at last
elected by a huge majority, and, thanks in part to the brilliant
exploits of a cavalry officer, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, ended the
campaign in triumph. Jugurtha was captured, marched in chains through
the Roman streets and cast naked into an ice-cold dungeon to die of
hunger and exposure.

In Marius’s triumph there was a drop of bitterness. His glory was shared
with Sulla. For it was Sulla who had actually captured Jugurtha. With a
small body of men he had daringly entered the camp of Bocchus, King of
Mauretania, with whom Jugurtha had taken refuge, and persuaded Bocchus
to make friends with Rome by giving him up. He had a ring made with a
picture of the scene, which annoyed Marius every time he saw it.

  [Illustration: TROPHY OF VICTORY
  Capitoline Museum]

But no one at the moment thought that Sulla could be a real rival to
Marius. There was no question of naming any one else as general when the
strife of parties in Rome was suddenly interrupted by terrible news--the
Northern barbarians were on the march. This danger, from the Cimbri and
the Teutones, had actually been threatening for a long time. In 113 a
consular army had been routed by the Cimbri. For the next eight years,
joined by other tribes, they remained on the North Italian frontier,
a perpetual menace, defeating, one after another, the armies sent
against them. In 105, when Marius was still in Africa, two Roman armies
were annihilated at Arausio on the Rhone (105). More than 80,000 men
perished in a single battle. Only a handful escaped to bring the
terrible news home. Such a disaster had not happened since Cannae. The
way to Rome stood open: there was no army to stop the victors had they
marched on to Italy. They did not. They turned to Spain. Marius, who was
called home, given chief command, and made consul in three successive
years, had time to create a new army.

In doing this he tackled one of the most pressing problems of the time.
Gracchus had seen how great a danger the falling-off of the supply of
men from the land might be: but no one had really grasped and dealt with
the question from the army point of view until Marius took it in hand.
This was indeed his greatest and most lasting work. First he changed the
whole basis of service. Every one was liable to be called on, not only
the shrinking class of holders of land. He took soldiers from the towns
as well as from the country, from among freedmen and paupers as well as
from among citizens. Second, he paid to every soldier a small daily
wage. This was an immense change. It at once created a new class: the
professional soldier. Formerly men had done their time in the army and
then returned to ordinary civil life. Now the soldier was a soldier for
life. Next Marius reorganized the army from within, sweeping away the
differences between the Roman legions and those made up of Italians and
allies. He improved the equipment of all ranks. This done he set himself
to training his new men, encamped in Transalpine Gaul, in readiness to
meet the foe.

A soothsayer, in whose prophecy he placed great faith, had told Marius
he should be consul seven times. As consul for the fourth time he
finally attacked the Teutones with his new armies. At Aquae Sextiae
(to the north of Marseilles) 100,000 barbarians were slain (102). It was
a terrible slaughter. For centuries after the fields were covered with
blackening bones, and the people of Massilia used them to make fences
for their vineyards. Next year Marius, consul for the fifth time, met
the Cimbri, who had crossed the Alps and descended into the plains of
Lombardy, at Vercellae (101). Before the battle messengers came from the
Cimbri, demanding land for themselves and the Teutones. They had not
heard of the rout of Aquae Sextiae. Marius smiled grimly. ‘Do not
trouble yourselves about your brothers,’ he replied. ‘They have land
enough which we have given them to keep for ever.’ When battle was
joined next day it was the height of summer; the blazing heat exhausted
the Northerners. Boiorix, the Cimbrian king, the tallest and strongest
man in the army, perished; round him there lay, at the day’s end,
100,000 of his countrymen.

Marius returned home to be hailed as the saviour of his country, the
peer of Camillus and Fabius. He was made consul for the sixth time.

Marius had won great victories; but the rejoicings in Rome over the
terrible dangers that had been averted by his generalship were brief.
Men’s minds were profoundly disturbed: many felt dimly that great and
terrible events were coming without seeing what they were or how to deal
with or prevent them. Marius certainly was not the man who had either
the insight or the power to do this; he was a man of camps with no
knowledge or understanding of politics. His victories and the great
shows that followed them made him the idol of the mob: but the idol of
the mob was the last man to deal wisely with the difficulties of Rome.
The men of wealth and birth detested him as a dangerous, rude,
unlettered boor, who knew nothing of government or public business.
Marius could not even keep order. There were constant riots. People were
set upon and murdered in the open streets. Alarming reports came from
the provinces, especially from the East. But any one who had the courage
to demand justice for the provincials was certain to be detested in
Rome. Thus the honest Rutilius Rufus, who tried to defend the people of
Asia against the greed of the Roman tax-collectors, was driven into
exile. Nor did the Roman mob care a fig for the grievances of the
Italians--or the senators either.


There were, however, men in Rome who felt that dishonour was coming upon
the Republic from these things as well as danger. These men--aristocrats
of the old stamp--were, however, mostly rather inclined to turn aside
from politics, which filled them with disgust. Their feelings were not
keen enough to make them take action. But they saw that things were
going from bad to worse; and when at last one of their order came
forward who cared enough to take risks, they rallied round him. This was
M. Livius Drusus, a young man of lofty family, who thought the men of
his own order were partly to blame for what was happening. They held
aloof and let vulgar and ignorant men like Marius and his associates,
Glaucia and Saturninus (men of very low character who led the crowd by
promises and bribes), drag the good name of Rome down. Two things
stirred Drusus to action: one the shocking unfairness of the law courts,
the other the fact that the people of Italy were shut out of all share
in their own government. Everything was settled in Rome: the Italians
had no voice. The consuls and other magistrates who made and
administered the laws were chosen by Roman votes only. Yet the Italians
had to send men to the army and pay taxes.

Drusus got his Bill for the reform of the law courts through (91) in
spite of the moneyed men, since he proposed that the judges should be
partly chosen from the Senate, and a strong body of senators backed this
up. But when his Bill giving votes to the Italians came up things were
different. There he could count on very little support. It did not help
him in Rome that, when he fell ill, prayers for his recovery were put up
in every town in Italy. This was indeed used against him by his enemies
in Rome, who said there was a conspiracy going on. The rich Italians,
too, made common cause with the rich men in Rome. Some of the
aristocrats stood by Drusus, but the majority in Rome was against him.

Throughout Italy the struggle round his Bill raised an intense and deep
excitement. Then one night Drusus was murdered in the street as he was
going home. The murderer vanished. No inquiry was made. Drusus’s Bill
was dropped; his party was crushed. His enemies at once rushed through a
measure setting up a court before which every one suspected of
sympathizing with votes for Italians was to be charged.

But the hopes of the Italians could not be crushed thus. The news of
Drusus’s murder ran like an earthquake shock through Italy. Feeling was
at fever pitch. Rome refused to recognize Italian rights: the Italians
would compel it to do so by the sword. All over the peninsula feverish
preparations went on. A few months after Drusus’s death fighting broke
out at Asculum in the south and spread like lightning all over the north
and centre.

This Social War, as it was called, was waged with dreadful bitterness on
both sides, and the misery and ruin it brought on the country was
terrible. In the first year (90) things went against Rome, though all
their best generals, including Marius and his hated rival Sulla, took
the field. In the second year (89) Marius did little or nothing, but in
the south Sulla carried everything before him. But while the Romans were
winning they were also beginning to see that the war need never have
taken place: it was time to let the Italians take their share and make
them Romans. A Bill giving them voting rights was drafted and passed
into law. This did more than anything in the actual campaign to bring
the fighting to an end.

The war was still raging when news came that the East was ablaze.
Mithridates, King of Pontus, the richest king in Asia Minor, and far the
ablest, had taken the field and was preparing to overrun the Roman
provinces. Hard on the heels of this came worse. Mithridates had
defeated a Roman general, destroyed his army, captured his fleet and was
invading Asia. He came, he said, to free the people from the Roman
tax-collectors who sucked their blood away. Slaves and prisoners were
set free, those who killed Italians pardoned. On a certain day of the
year 88 there was a massacre of no less than 80,000 Italians in Asia.
The rebellion against Rome, thus begun, spread to Greece. Athens threw
off the Roman yoke; Mithridates, who dreamed of ruling over the whole
East, sent his general to help overthrow the Roman garrisons in Greece.

Thus while Romans were fighting one another the lands beyond the seas of
which they were so proud, and which were the source of most of their
wealth, were in rebellion. Men of their own race had been massacred by
Asiatics. Each day the news grew worse. In Rome there were riots in the
streets. Sulla had been named commander against Mithridates. Marius
could not bear this. He got his friends to bring in a Bill transferring
the command to him. It was carried, but amid such disorder that senators
and consuls fled from the city. Sulla had left the riots and disorders
of Rome to go to his army at Nola. There he received the order to hand
over the command to Marius. If Marius expected him to obey he had
misread the character of the man he hated. Sulla’s answer was to march
upon Rome at the head of his legions. There he was welcomed by the
remnant of the Senate as the restorer of law and order. Marius fled.

  [Illustration: SULLA from a coin]

Of the sudden rise of Sulla, Plutarch gives the following account:

  _Sulla Felix_

  In the long Social War, with all its vicissitudes and disasters,
  and dangers that threatened the safety of Rome, Marius could
  achieve nothing great, and merely proved that military excellence
  demands physical strength and vigour, while Sulla by many notable
  victories gained the reputation of a great general with the
  people, of the greatest of generals with his friends, and of the
  most fortunate with his enemies. Yet he was not sensitive about
  this last judgement as Timotheus the son of Conon was; for when
  his enemies attributed all his successes to fortune, and painted
  pictures in which he was represented asleep with Fortune casting a
  net over the cities, Timotheus was rude to them and angry, feeling
  that they deprived him of the credit due to his deeds. Sulla, on
  the other hand, not only accepted without annoyance the ‘felicity’
  thus assigned to him, but even magnifying it and recognizing it as
  divine, he made fortune responsible for his exploits, either in a
  spirit of ostentation or from a genuine belief in providential
  guidance. For example, he has written in his memoirs that of all
  his decisions which were justified by results the happiest were
  not reached by deliberation, but adopted in the hurry of the
  moment. Moreover, when he says that he was born for fortune rather
  than for war, he seems to have more respect for fortune than for
  merit and to accept the control of an unseen power; insomuch that
  he makes a divine good luck the cause of his harmony with
  Metellus, his kinsman and colleague in the consulship; for he
  expected to have much trouble with him, but found him a most
  agreeable partner in office. Again, in the memoirs, which he has
  dedicated to Lucullus, he bids him place most reliance on any
  warning given him by a vision in the night. He tells us, too, that
  when he was leaving the city with an army to fight in the Social
  War, the earth opened near Laverna and a great fire gushed out,
  shooting up a bright flame to the sky. The prophets interpreted
  this to mean that a man of genius, who was of unusual and
  remarkable appearance, would take the command and free the country
  from its present disorders. Sulla declares that he was the man;
  for his golden hair was the peculiarity in his appearance, and he
  felt no diffidence in ascribing genius to himself after his great

    Plutarch, xxxiii. 6. 2-7.

In many respects Lucius Cornelius Sulla is the most extraordinary figure
in Roman history. Belonging to a very old family, the same as that of
the Scipios, he grew up in genteel poverty, living in one of the large
blocks of flats that had been built near the centre of the town. He was
extremely handsome, with every grace of form and feature, tall, well
built, with a face of classic outline, marred in later life by a hot and
somewhat mottled complexion, but distinguished by eyes of a brilliant
blue: eyes that could upon occasion flash fire. They did not often do
so, for Sulla was a person of ice-cold reserve, seldom carried away by
his feelings. Highly educated and gifted with unusual powers of mind, he
looked out upon the world and despised most people in it. His was a mind
incapable of feeling any sort of religious appeal. Most of the things
people strove after seemed to him stupid, because there was no pleasure
in them. He was what is called a cynic.

Until he was nearly fifty Sulla took no important part in public
affairs. He served with great distinction in Africa. His unshakable
courage and complete self-control, combined as they were with rare
powers of making men do what he wanted and an absolute belief in
himself, made him a successful commander. But for military glory in
itself he did not care, or for any other kind of glory. To him these
things were illusions. Nor was he stirred by patriotism in the ordinary
sense. He saw the Rome of his time very much as it was and did not
consider it worth the sacrifice of a pleasure. The aristocrats seemed to
him selfish and stupid: the popular party vulgar and stupid. He saw what
was going to happen but had none of the belief that inspires idealists
that he could change the course of events. ‘Things are what they are;
the consequences will be what they will be. Why then should we seek to
be deceived?’ This, said two thousand years later, was a true
description of Sulla’s point of view. He looked on, coldly scornful; and
amused himself, like other well-to-do men of his class, with the arts in
their lower as well as their higher forms. But, when occasion called, he
could act. When the Social War broke out, and all hands in Rome were, as
it were, called to the pumps, Sulla was ready. He proved more
successful, if also more ruthless, than any other commander in the
field; he understood, better than any one else, the supreme danger in
which Rome stood. It was this, and not personal ambition in the ordinary
sense, that made him take the command against Mithridates, and march on
Rome when the Marius faction showed that they were incapable of keeping
order there.

Sulla could spend no time in Rome. The danger in the East was too
pressing. He sailed for Greece. Marius might return: if he did Sulla
knew that his own life might be in danger, but he could not trouble
about that. Roman rule in the East was threatened: it was his business
to save it. He saw, as Marius did not or could not see, that at this
terrible moment the fate of Rome trembled in the balance. Italy lay torn
and exhausted by civil war. Agriculture had been ruined, thousands
slain, and business of all kinds was at a standstill. The war in the
East shook the very life of the Republic to its foundations. Rome lived,
as London lives, on trade and supplies from overseas. They were stopped.
There was a money panic. The danger was the greater that the revolt
against Rome, both in Italy and in Asia, Greece, and elsewhere, had
right on its side. The Roman Government, in the years that had passed
since the defeat of Hannibal, had been bad: cruel, extortionate, and
unjust. In Rome itself there was bitter disunion.

When Sulla set sail he knew all this, knew how tremendous a task was
before him, and, believing as he did in his star, knew that he would
accomplish it. But only he of Romans then living could have done it.
Marius, hot-headed always and now old and weakened in will and mind by
drink, could not have succeeded. It needed all Sulla’s extraordinary
coolness, all his iron will.

Though he saw that trouble would break out again in Rome as soon as his
back was turned, he also saw that the danger from the revolt of Greece
and from Mithridates was even more immediate and pressing. The whole
basis on which the Roman world rested would drop from under it if
Mithridates succeeded. The danger was, in its way, as great as that
which had threatened Rome when Hannibal crossed the Alps.

  [Illustration: MITHRIDATES from a coin]

For Mithridates was an exceedingly able prince. His strength did not lie
in the huge hordes of soldiers he had behind him. Eastern soldiers were
a poor match for Roman legionaries, even when they far outnumbered them.
Nor did it lie in the vast wealth of the kingdoms over which he ruled:
though in both men and resources he outclassed the small army Rome could
send against him. His real strength was first his own ability, second,
the general and widespread revolt against Rome. The Roman State, as he
knew, was torn with revolution at home. There was a general sense of
panic and uncertainty. The Government had neither men, money, nor
supplies for the war against Mithridates.

Now, instead of closing ranks, as after Cannae, rich Romans fled, some
even joining Mithridates. Marius and his party saw in the dangers Sulla
went out to face nothing but their chance to come back to power in Rome.
Marius himself was old now and had taken to drink. Almost as soon as
Sulla sailed revolution broke out again in Rome. The streets ran with
blood; the town was heaped with the bodies of the slain. Cinna, one of
the consuls, proposed to recall Marius (who had fled to the ruins of
Carthage) and brought up first slaves and then armed Italians against
the Senate. He was defeated and declared a public enemy. With Sertorius,
a most able officer but a personal enemy of Sulla, Cinna then organized
the Samnites. Marius returned from Africa, and he, Cinna, Sertorius, and
Carbo marched on Rome (87). When they at last entered the city at the
head of their troops a terrible massacre took place. Marius, who was
almost mad with fury, struck down any one who had ever thwarted or
criticized him, among them some of the noblest men in Rome. Antonius,
first of living orators, Publius Crassus, a fine soldier, Catulus who
had shared with Marius the toils and honours of the wars against
Teutones and Cimbri, Merula the consul, shared the fate of hundreds of
less note. No one was safe. Marius walked about like a raging lion,
thirsting for blood. The heads of the dead stood in rows round the Forum
and above Marius’s own house. For five days the massacre went on until
at last Sertorius, who had looked on with horror, stopped it by cutting
Marius’s bodyguard of murderers to pieces. The old man was elected
consul for the seventh time (86): a few days later he died. Sulla
meantime was declared a public enemy, banished, and removed from his
command. His house was demolished, all his goods were sold, his wife and
family were driven into exile.

Such was the news that came to Sulla as he was besieging Athens and in
the greatest danger. The city appeared impregnable. His small army was
reduced by wounds, disease, and the shortage of supplies: the danger
that Mithridates would land and cut them off was immediate. They would
then be between the devil and the deep sea. But Sulla’s iron will did
not quail. The man whom Rome regarded as a creature of pleasure shared
every hardship of the soldiers and encouraged them day and night by his
personal courage and calm. He showed marvellous ingenuity and resource
in collecting supplies and a complete disregard of everything but the
purpose in hand. He was a Greek scholar with a real admiration of Greek
literature and art: yet he ransacked the temples and melted down the
ornaments and treasures of centuries to make money; cut down the trees
of the Sacred Grove of the Academy where Plato had walked with Socrates
to make trench props. His ablest officer, Lucius Lucullus, was sent off
to collect a fleet, somehow or other.

All through the winter and the whole of the next year Athens held out.
The next winter came before Mithridates’ fleet sailed: it could do
nothing till the spring. But with this news came that of a new danger.
The Roman Government of Cinna was sending out an army against Sulla. He
was between two fires. But his nerve did not fail. Athens fell to a
supreme assault on the 1st March (86) before the new Roman army left
Italy. Moving south Sulla then met Mithridates’ army on the Boeotian
plain and at Chaeronea gained a victory that rang through the world. The
spell of Mithridates’ name was broken: Rome was still invincible. The
revolted cities of the East began to come back. In the same year Sulla
gained another great victory. At first the Roman line broke,
panic-struck. Sulla, leaping from his horse, snatched a standard and
rushing into the hottest of the fight shouted to his men, ‘Soldiers! If
you are asked where you abandoned your general, say it was at
Orchomenus.’ Stung by this reproach and the supreme courage of their
general, the men recovered. The day was won. Flaccus, the Roman general,
made an agreement with Sulla: to him, whatever the orders of the Home
Government, it seemed impossible that Roman armies should fight against
one another when there was a common enemy to face. But a captain in the
ranks, Fimbria by name, stirred up a mutiny, Flaccus was murdered, and
Fimbria prepared to march on Sulla.

Sulla was now in a dilemma. His life was in danger unless he made peace
with Mithridates. To do so was not magnificent: it was not even highly
honourable. But Sulla was not a man to be stayed by such ideas. His own
life was at the moment more important than anything else. If he were
killed there would not be much left of the honour of Rome. He therefore
made a treaty with Mithridates. He made the treaty on his own terms,
however. Earlier, at a time when he was in extreme danger, Mithridates
had offered him an alliance. This he had utterly rejected. Now he
insisted that Mithridates should altogether abandon his plans and claims
against Rome. By the treaty of Dardanus (84) the king had to give up all
his conquests in Greece and Asia and hand over ships of war and a great
sum of money to Sulla. In return the man who had arranged the
cold-blooded murder of 80,000 Italians was made ‘friend and ally’ of
Rome. Sulla knew that Mithridates would sooner or later give trouble
again: but for the time being the danger was over. Rome’s power and name
in the East had been saved, at a price. The treaty could not stand, but
for the moment it was necessary. Sulla could turn to saving Rome at
home. Fimbria’s army began to desert to him. Fimbria in despair killed
himself. Sulla spent the next year in preparations for his own return in
Rome. Carbo, who had succeeded Cinna, was as bitter against him as Cinna
had been.

After a year in Asia collecting the taxes, not paid for the last four
years, Sulla landed at Brundisium (83) with a well-filled treasury and a
devoted army. On every soldier he imposed an oath: they were to treat
the Italians as friends and fellow citizens, not as enemies. But to the
Marian party in Rome he determined to show no mercy. The State must be
cleared of these people: there must be no more riot and revolution. As
Sulla marched north he defeated the forces sent against him: many of the
soldiers deserted to him: many cities opened their gates. The Government
of Marius, Cinna, and Carbo was thoroughly unpopular: and Sulla kept his
word, doing no harm to the country through which he passed. Only the
Samnites resisted strongly: them Sulla, who had been joined by young
Crassus and by Cnaeus Pompeius, defeated in a great battle lasting from
noon to the following mid-day outside the Colline Gate (82).

Rome and all Italy were now in Sulla’s power. He entered the city and
assembled the Senate in the Temple of Bellona. As he explained his plans
for restoring order--he was to have the powers of a dictator till that
was done--a frightful sound was heard. Sulla gave his grim smile. ‘Some
criminals being punished’, he said. Six thousand Samnite prisoners were
being cut to pieces. In this spirit he proceeded to stamp out what had
been the party of Marius. Marius had been mad with rage: Sulla was quite
calm, but not a whit more merciful. The tomb of Marius was broken open,
his ashes scattered in the road. Samnium, which had resisted the
conqueror, was laid desert. The land was broken into allotments for
Sulla’s soldiers.

The proscriptions followed. Lists of public enemies were posted and a
reward paid to any one who killed the men whose names appeared. Their
property was confiscated. Men put the names of private enemies on the
list before or sometimes after they had killed them. Catiline, for
instance, did this to his own brother. Sulla did not care. The State
must be cleared of dangerous men and it must get revenues from
somewhere. On the 1st June 81 the lists were closed: the executions and
confiscations ended. Nearly five thousand persons had perished. Their
property and that of those who had fled or been banished fell to the
State, which got four million pounds in this way.

By murder and robbery the State treasury was filled. Sulla’s hard mind
did not shrink from these ugly words. He did the things and made no
pretences. In the same way he never pretended to believe in the rights
of the people. He despised them, thought them stupid, ignorant, and
lazy. What they needed was police. The Government he built up was of
this kind. He made the Senate much larger and stronger, for men of birth
and wealth, though no better than the others, could at least, he
thought, be trusted to keep things orderly and as they were. No one was
to be consul till he had passed through the lower offices, and then
consul only once. As consul he was to stay in Italy without an army; at
the end of his year he might be sent abroad, with an army, as a
pro-consul. In Italy there were to be no troops: no soldiers were to
cross the Rubicon. The law courts were reformed, the juries again drawn
from the Senate.

  [Illustration: A BOAR HUNT
  from a sculpture in the Capitoline Museum]

When he had finished his work of reorganization and built up the power
of the Senate--i.e. of the older men of birth and property--as strongly
as he could, Sulla laid down all his extraordinary powers and retired to
private life. He had built himself a lovely villa, full of the art
treasures he had brought from Greece and from the East, in the midst of
exquisite gardens. There he lived, writing his memoirs, and enjoying the
pleasures of hunting and fishing, banqueting and revelling, surrounded
by the most amusing people he could find. Many of these were writers,
artists, and actors. Actors were looked down upon in Rome, but Roscius
the tragedian was a great friend of Sulla’s, for he scorned all such
notions as unreal. Always Sulla had provoked the Romans by his power of
casting off serious cares when he sat down at table and by what they
thought his ill-timed jests. They did not understand his view of life.
To him it was all a play, not a very good play: out of which, if one
were lucky, one might get some entertainment. He had been lucky: chance
was his goddess and he believed in nothing higher. Before he died, at
the age of sixty, he wrote his own epitaph, which was inscribed on the
great monument set up to him in the Campus Martius: ‘No friend ever did
me so much good or enemy so much harm but I repaid him with interest.’

  [Illustration: SCENE FROM A TRAGEDY
  Terra-cotta relief]

  [Illustration: CUTLER’S FORGE]


The New Rome

With the death of Sulla a new period of Roman history begins, a brief
and in many ways brilliant half-century, about which we know far more
than we do of any earlier time, since we possess the works, in writing,
architecture, sculpture, of the men, or of some of them, who helped to
make it. Roman life in these fifty years is, in many respects,
startlingly like that of our own day. True, the great discoveries of
science had not been achieved; there were no motors, telephones or
lifts, no railways, no electric light or power, no illustrated
papers--indeed the first newspaper of any kind was a small sheet issued
by Caesar. But in the things they did and said and thought about, and in
the way they acted and spoke and thought about them, the Romans who
lived in the sixty odd years before the birth of Christ were very much
like the Englishmen of our own day. The comfort of the lives of the
well-to-do, with their elegant town houses and charming country villas,
furnished with beautiful things brought from all parts of the world,
depended on the labour of innumerable slaves. In many ways, however,
these slaves were not worse off than the poor factory workers of our
great towns; in some they were more fortunate. The lot of those who were
being trained to fight in the games was certainly dreadful; but those
owned by private persons were for the most part kindly treated and could
and often did buy their freedom. The class of freedmen was a large and
growing one in Rome.

  [Illustration: CUTLER’S SHOP]

The revolutionary wars had brought ruin to many. Large tracts of Italy
had been laid waste. But though the wounds that had been dealt at the
life of the country bled for long, prosperity returned surprisingly
quickly. If some families had lost everything, others had profited by
their losses. And from abroad wealth poured into Italy in
ever-increasing streams. A new class of rich men grew up, whose wealth
came from business of all sorts--tax-farming in the provinces, house
building, ship construction, agriculture on a large scale. Side by side
with them were the lawyers, an increasingly important body. As to-day,
a great many young men, when they had completed their education by
spending some time abroad, in Greece by preference, became barristers.
Success in the courts, the power of public speaking, opened the way to
success in politics, though it was long before any one could go far
along that road who had not won distinction as a soldier.

Very slowly and gradually, the sharp line between the new men and the
old patrician families began to soften. There were few so proud that
they would not go and eat a sumptuous dinner at the house of a man
because his parent had not worn the purple stripe on his toga that
marked the senator. Education spread. Sulla brought back with him from
Greece innumerable treasures, among them the works of Aristotle, which
became the educated young Roman’s bible.

All over Italy wealth spread, as the fields blossomed with vine and
olive. Great roads made travel easier and swifter; aqueducts brought
water where it was needed; the marshes were drained; everywhere lovely
villas were built, their exquisite gardens adorned with beautiful
statues. Thither the tired Roman went for a few days’ refreshment,
accompanied by his friends and escorted by trains of slaves. Slaves
wrote his letters for him, and carried them swiftly to his friends in
other parts of Italy or across the seas. They copied the verses and
prose sketches which the young Roman of fashion liked to have written,
so that the vellum roll circulated almost as quickly and freely, among
the well-to-do, as does the volume to-day. Life became more elegant and
refined. Music, dancing, games of all sorts provided distraction;
gambling became a passion with many; eating and drinking were as
luxurious as now. When we think of the Romans of the period after the
civil wars we must think of men intelligent, cultivated, educated,
polished by contact with a wide and various world of affairs, their
minds opened by foreign travel and the study of Greek language and

  [Illustration: WRITING MATERIALS
  Pens, Ink, Tablet, and Potsherd
  Brit. Mus.]

War, however, remained the high road to popularity and fame. Since all
the provinces were held by military governors (pro-consuls or quaestors)
any one who aspired to high place in the State must have gone through
some sort of military training. The successful general was still the
favourite candidate. But military prowess alone was no longer enough.
The day was gone by when a boor like Marius could ride rough-shod over
the Republic. The hero of the new Rome was to be something more than a
soldier, though he must be a soldier too.

Within Italy the struggle between Romans and Italians was over. Italy
was one, as it had never been before. Having acquired the vote, though
not on terms of full equality with the Roman citizen, the Italian middle
class settled down to money-making and did not, as a rule, trouble much
about the stormy course of politics in the capital. More and more, it
was from Italy that the army came; the Roman populace liked the shows
given at the close of campaigns, but did not care much for the dangers
and hardship of service.

But although this struggle was over, another remained, sharper and more
bitter than before. The return of Sulla had meant the triumph of the
Senatorial Party, of the Conservatives, the men of old family and fixed
ideas. Sulla’s proscriptions, the murder and banishment of innumerable
families and the seizure of their goods and estates, to be divided among
their enemies, left behind them a deep hatred between those who had
triumphed and those who had been defeated. After Sulla’s death the sons
and grandsons of the proscribed began to come back, and what had once
been the Popular Party, led by Marius and Cinna, built itself up again.
At first it had no leaders. The men who were to be its leaders were
still too young. Gradually, however, in spite of the unpopularity that
had become attached to its very name, it gathered strength. The new rich
and the struggling lawyers joined its ranks, since there was more chance
there than in those of the Conservatives for fresh talent and new ideas.
A new kind of political organization was built up through the clubs and
workmen’s associations.

The main source of the growing strength of this new Popular Party was
the weakness and inefficiency of the Government. Sulla had erected a
remarkable machine, intended to prevent all change and keep the power of
the State in the hands of a small ruling class, the patricians. But the
machine would not work when his strong directing hand was removed. It
was too stiff and rigid to cope with the growing tasks of administering
the great empire over which Rome had to rule. Bit by bit Sulla’s system
broke down; his rules were swept aside. In the years between his death
and that of Caesar the rule of Rome extended enormously; each extension
made the need of a strong and efficient Government more pressing. The
actual government of Rome through the Senate was neither strong nor
efficient. Nothing was well managed. This growing mismanagement
compelled men of active minds to look around and ask themselves what was
wrong. They found different answers. But the need of change was clear.


Lucius Licinius Lucullus

If great men are those whose action brings about great changes, Lucius
Licinius Lucullus was one of the greatest men of his time. His campaign
in Asia Minor started an altogether new policy. Hitherto Rome had
acquired provinces in an accidental way; there had been no purpose of
conquest. In Spain and Africa the influence of Carthage had to be wiped
out; in Greece Rome was nominally a protector only, called in to help
against outside dangers. In Asia Minor it was more or less the same. As
regards Asia Minor no one in Rome was satisfied with the treaty Sulla
had made with Mithridates. It was felt to be a disgrace to Rome that the
man who had caused the murder of hundreds of thousands of Italians in
cold blood was recognized as the ‘friend and ally’ of Rome and left in
undisturbed possession. Mithridates had got to be punished. When
Lucullus went to the East it was for this purpose. But he did far more.
He discovered that these great Asiatic monarchies, with their myriad
armies, looked strong but were really weak; they could not maintain
themselves, if attacked. He did not merely make Rome safe against their
attack; he marched through kingdom after kingdom, conquering and
subduing them to Rome. Thus, in fact, if not yet in name, he made Rome
an empire.

The work he thus began Lucullus did not complete. The idea was his; it
was his hard fighting, the courage with which he overrode instructions
and disregarded the Senate’s order to return, which paved the way for
conquest. Pompeius, whose slow mind and cautious temper could never have
started such a policy, saw from Rome what Lucullus’s fighting was
leading up to. He saw the golden prize at the end of his efforts and
determined to snatch it from him. In this he succeeded. But the credit
or blame of making Rome an imperial power, a power that rules by force
over alien races, belongs not to him but to Lucullus. This was not
understood at the time. Lucullus, disappointed and embittered, came back
to Rome and was known to his contemporaries not as the man who laid the
foundations of the empire, but as the giver of the most luxurious and
extraordinary banquets ever eaten. The proverb associated with his
name--‘Dining with Lucullus’--shows this. His feasts were famous; the
rarest foods from every part of the known world were on his table. His
gardens too were wonderful, and his house glowed with all the treasures
of the distant East. Among the treasures he brought back was one little
noticed in his day--the cherry-tree. This soon grew all over Italy, but
that Lucullus had brought it was forgotten. Like everything else that he
did, it failed to bring him fame.

The family of L. Licinius Lucullus was one of the oldest in Rome and one
of those not too numerous ones which maintained not only the pride of
ancient race but the idea that good birth carried duties with it. He was
poor but excessively proud, and belonged to that small Conservative
group from which Rutilius Rufus and Livius Drusus came. His mind was
clear and highly educated, cultivated in the full sense. As a soldier he
was extremely able. The way in which the ordinary politician made money
and bought votes disgusted him. In the main he stood sternly aloof from
the scramble for office and wealth.

After Sulla’s death--he had been one of Sulla’s most capable
officers--he retired to private life and watched with cold scorn the way
in which the affairs of the State were mismanaged both at home and
abroad; the long struggle with Sertorius, the rise of Pompeius, by good
luck rather than, he thought, by merit. He had strong feelings and a
good deal of the ambition that moves in almost every mind that is aware
of its own powers, but he detested intrigue and had no aptitude for it.
He was unpopular, because of his habit of saying what he thought, both
in public and in private, about the corrupt politicians and vulgar
scrambling money-makers whom other politicians abused in private but
dared not offend in public. He had no party. Until he was fifty he had
held no command or office of the first rank.

But when the question of the campaign against Mithridates came up
Lucullus felt that he had a claim to it and was prepared, despite his
ordinary aloofness, to push that claim through. Nicomedes, the old King
of Bithynia, had just died (74) and left his rich territory--a buffer
state between the Roman provinces in Asia Minor and Mithridates’ kingdom
of Pontus--to the Roman people. This the able and wily King of Pontus
was not going to allow. He declared war, made an alliance with
Sertorius, and marched into Bithynia. This was a serious menace. When
Mithridates invaded Cilicia (73) people remembered the massacre of
fifteen years ago and trembled. Pompeius wanted the command, but he was
still busy in Spain; in the end Lucullus was appointed.

The difficulties of the campaign were at first overwhelming. Lucullus
was not in sole control and his colleagues were refractory. But the
defeat of Cotta, the other consul, at last left him a free hand. Many of
his captains were dismayed by the reduction of the Roman army. Lucullus
remained calm. Mithridates had attacked the port of Cyzicus, far from
his own base, with an army so large that to provision it was extremely
difficult. Lucullus took up a position from which he could cut off his
supplies and so close him in a trap between the town and his own army.
With his smaller army Lucullus refused battle, and when Mithridates
endeavoured to make his way out by dividing his forces Lucullus attacked
the two parts in turn, though it was the dead of winter, and defeated
them disastrously. A vast army perished in the snow. Lucullus was able
to overrun Bithynia and force Mithridates to retreat into Pontus.

It was now that Lucullus took the step which makes his career profoundly
important in the history of Rome. Instead of waiting for instructions
from the Home Government--instructions which he knew would probably have
ordered his recall and certainly a halt in his operations--he resolved
to act boldly on a plan of his own. That plan was no less than the
invasion of Mithridates’ kingdom. Nearly all his generals opposed him,
but Lucullus’s mind was clear. He burned to wipe out the treaty of
Dardanus and had come to the conclusion that Eastern monarchies were not
so strong as they looked: that their loose organization could not stand
against the disciplined force of Rome. Mithridates himself had something
of genius; but Mithridates was old.

The progress of the campaign showed that Lucullus was right. Entering
Pontus in the late autumn, he overran the rich country without meeting
with any serious opposition; Mithridates’ armies had been scattered at
Cyzicus; he had not yet collected fresh ones. Immense plunder--slaves
and cattle, gold and silver, ivory and precious stones, rare stuffs and
wondrous embroideries--were sent home to Rome. In the following spring
when Mithridates did advance with his new army Lucullus defeated it
decisively. Cabira was taken and Lucullus spent the winter with the
royal palace as his head-quarters, training his army for the work before
it. Here the defects of his character came into play. Proud and
passionate, Lucullus had an inordinate sense of his own dignity and of
the greatness of his own purpose; he forgot that the greatest general is
only the leader of other men, on whom his triumphs depend. To Lucullus
his soldiers were mere instruments, not human beings; the army a
machine. Great generals like Hannibal, Caesar, Napoleon, Alexander and,
in his degree, Sertorius, owe their lasting success to the power they
have to make each man in the army feel that he is a man, whose devotion
matters, on whom in the last resort everything depends. When soldiers
feel this, when they feel that they and their general are part of one
living thing, they can perform miracles. Lucullus had no such power. He
was harsh, tyrannical, and inhuman in his attitude and, overwhelmed by a
mass of work, never found time to relax. The sternness of discipline
never unbent. He seemed to grudge the soldiers any share in the vast
booty sent to Rome. He had no kindly word or look for individuals. It
was this growing feeling of bitterness that the discontented officers in
his army, and especially his brother-in-law Clodius, who was secretly
working for Pompeius against him, used to sow the seeds of mutiny.

Lucullus, absorbed in the mighty design he had conceived, did not
realize what was happening, even when after the capture of Amisus his
men paid no heed to his orders that the city should be spared, but
sacked and looted it. By the autumn all Pontus was in Roman hands.
Lucullus, again refusing to await orders from Rome, pushed on into
Armenia and attacked Tigranes, with whom Mithridates had taken refuge.
This campaign was brilliantly carried out. With his small army, hardly
20,000 in all, Lucullus inflicted a series of crushing defeats on the
Armenian forces. Armenia was under his feet. He had shown all the
qualities of a great commander: clearness and steadiness of purpose,
complete confidence, the boldness and unresting energy of genius. As he
rested in winter quarters in South Armenia planning the conquest of
Persia and Parthia, he might well compare himself with Alexander.

Next year Tigranes had gathered a fresh army and Lucullus determined to
smash him by taking Artaxata, the capital of Armenia. But here he
failed. The campaign was dreadful: the ground was covered with snow; the
rivers icy. At last mutiny broke out, his men refused to go on. News
came from Rome that Lucullus had been superseded. The plotters at Rome
had got their way.

The fruits of victory had been snatched from Lucullus and left for
Pompeius to garner. His soul might well be filled with bitterness as he
came back to Rome. No one there realized what he had done; he had no
party. The political struggle disgusted him more than ever. His
solitariness had been increased by years of absolute power in the East.
He withdrew into silent isolation, and the banquets which were the talk
of Rome. Men gaped, but did not understand either the man or his work.

  _After Strenuous Years_

  In the life of Lucullus, as in Old Comedy, we find at the
  beginning the acts of a soldier and a statesman, but towards the
  end eating and drinking, and little else but revels and
  illuminations, and mere frivolity. For I count as frivolous his
  costly houses, with their porticoes and baths, and still more the
  pictures and statues and his pains in collecting such works of art
  at great expense, lavishing the magnificent fortune amassed during
  his campaigns on the site where even now, though luxury has
  increased so much, the gardens of Lucullus are counted among the
  noblest belonging to the Emperor. At Naples, too, and on the
  neighbouring coast he pierced hills with great tunnels, surrounded
  his house with ponds and channels of salt water for breeding fish,
  and even built out into the sea, so that Tubero, the Stoic
  philosopher, at the sight of this magnificence called him ‘Xerxes
  in a toga’. Besides all this, he had country seats near Tusculum,
  with gazebos and rooms and porticoes open to the air, where
  Pompeius came on a visit, and blamed him for lodging himself
  excellently in summer, but making a house that was uninhabitable
  in winter. Lucullus merely smiled and said, ‘Do you think that I
  have less sense than the cranes and storks, and do not change my
  home according to the season?’ At another time, when a Praetor was
  anxious to make his spectacle magnificent, and begged for a loan
  of some purple cloaks to dress the performers, Lucullus replied
  that he would give him some if he found that he had any. Next day
  he asked how many were wanted, and hearing that a hundred would be
  enough, he offered two hundred. Horace is thinking of this when he
  remarks that he considers a house poor when the valuables hidden
  and overlooked are not more than those known to the master.

    Plutarch, xxxvi. 39.


Cnaeus Pompeius

At the time of Sulla’s death the unanimous opinion of Rome would have
fixed upon Cnaeus Pompeius as the one young man then alive who was
likely to follow in his footsteps and rule the Roman world by his own
will. And if there had been in Pompeius’s character the qualities which
his rapid success seemed to promise, they would have been right. But the
life of Pompeius shows how much circumstances--chance, opportunity, the
good opinion of others, birth and wealth--can do for a man; and what
they cannot do, unless he has within himself the qualities of mind and
will which mark off the first-rate from the best second-rate. Greatness
was, as it were, thrust upon him; but since he was not great in himself
he could not achieve it. It is this that makes him so interesting a
failure. His failure was due to the fact that at a supreme crisis he was
called upon to do just the things he could not do. It was no accident
that enabled Julius Caesar to succeed where he failed. For Caesar
possessed in supreme degree the power to act with decision, which, when
combined with clear judgement, makes the great man of action. At the
crucial moment the judgement of Pompeius wavered: his will was
uncertain. In ordinary peaceful times his weaknesses might never have
been seen; but his life fell within an era of storm and stress when the
stuff of which men are made is tested and shown.

Tall, strongly built, with curly hair and large eyes that though
prominently set and wide open had a rather sleepy expression, Pompeius
when young was often likened to Alexander the Great. He had his regular
features and brilliant colouring, but in his eyes there was none of the
fire or mystery that made Alexander seem to his contemporaries as
beautiful as a god. His manners were grave and dignified. He gave all
who saw him an impression of his importance. Pompeius had a very strong
sense of his own importance. The thing he was most afraid of was of
being laughed at. When he suspected that any one was doing this, he lost
his temper.

  [Illustration: POMPEIUS]

Pompeius belonged to a family old and honourable enough, though
plebeian, to make the senators at last accept him as one of themselves,
the more readily that he had acquired immense wealth in the
proscriptions. At the time of the civil war he was on the side of
Marius, and closely associated with him, while Marius and Cinna were in
power in Rome. His first wife Antistia was the daughter of a friend of
Cinna’s. When Sulla landed, however, Pompeius soon saw which way things
were going. He collected an army and marched to join Sulla. Although he
was only twenty-three at the time, Sulla hailed him as one of the most
important of his supporters. He suggested to him that he should put away
his young wife Antistia and marry his own daughter-in-law. To this
Pompeius agreed, although Antistia loved him and was in the deepest
distress, since her father had been killed in the proscriptions;
moreover, her mother, when she heard how Pompeius intended to treat her
daughter, laid violent hands upon herself. In the proscriptions Pompeius
acquired so much wealth that within a few years he was one of the
richest men in Rome. His popularity was great and he could afford to
keep it up by giving splendid shows and presents to the people.

His wealth, his quick success, his great popularity filled the senators
with awe. They had a constant fear that he was to be the next Sulla.
They listened with respect to all that Pompeius said, though he was a
dull speaker; and regarded him as the first general of the day, though
he had really done nothing to deserve that title. But he was always
lucky in his campaigns, and again and again had the good fortune to be
made commander just at the stage when the fruits of a long struggle,
carried on by others, were ready to be gathered. In the means by which
he achieved success Pompeius was not over scrupulous. His want of
feeling in the matter of Antistia was only one sign of this. The same
kind of callousness was shown in the way he secured the final defeat of
Sertorius, not by action in the field but by a plot. After three years
of unsuccessful fighting Sertorius, much the ablest of Marius’s
followers, who had raised the standard of revolt in Spain, was still as
far from being conquered as ever. Pompeius was tired of the war; so were
his troops. At last by the treachery of Perpenna and some other Romans
in his army, on whose minds secret emissaries from Rome had worked,
Sertorius was murdered. Pompeius then suppressed the revolt in Spain
with horrible cruelty and returned to Rome crowned with success.

He was made consul (70) although he had never held any of the junior
offices of State; but his consulship was marked by nothing more
important than his constant disagreements with his colleague Crassus,
who, though of patrician birth, inclined to the so-called Popular,
anti-Senatorial party. For the next two years he was little to the fore
until called upon, as the first general of the day, to deal with a
difficulty which represented a most serious danger to Rome. Rome
depended to a large extent on foreign corn. Yet this overseas corn
supply was almost suspended by the pirates of the Mediterranean.
Commander after commander failed to suppress them. Food prices in Rome
rose to famine heights. At last the tribune Gabinius proposed that a
special commander should be appointed, with unexampled power, both as
regards men and money; and that Pompeius should be the man. Caesar and
Cicero supported the plan. It was hotly opposed by those who thought
such powers dangerous; but in the end Pompeius was appointed. He showed
conspicuous energy and within forty days the seas were cleared.

  [Illustration: A VASE in the shape of a galley]

A vivid account of Pompeius’s operations against the pirates was given
by Cicero in the great speech he made in support of the proposal of
Manilius to give him the command in the East, in the place of Lucullus.

  _Pompeius in his Prime_

  You know well enough how quickly these operations against the
  Pirates were conducted, but I must not on that account omit all
  mention of them. What man ever existed that, either in the course
  of business or in the pursuit of gain, was able to visit so many
  places and to travel such long distances in so short a time as
  this great blast of war, directed by Cn. Pompeius, swept over the
  seas? Even when it was yet too early for a distant voyage, he
  visited Sicily, explored the coast of Africa, thence crossed to
  Sardinia, and protected these three great granaries of the
  Republic with strong garrisons and fleets. Next, after returning
  to Italy, he provided in the same way for the safety of the two
  Spains and Transalpine Gaul, and sending ships to the Illyrian
  coast, to Achaia, and all Greece besides, he established large
  forces, military and naval, in the two seas of Italy. On the
  forty-ninth day after he left Brundisium he brought the whole of
  Cilicia under the dominion of the Roman people, and all the
  Pirates, wherever they might be, either were captured and put to
  death, or surrendered to his sole authority and command. Finally,
  when the Cretans had followed him even into Pamphylia with envoys
  begging for clemency, he did not disdain their offer of submission
  and was content to demand hostages. The result was that this great
  war, that lasted so long and reached so far, a war that harassed
  every country and every people, was taken in hand by Pompeius at
  the end of the winter, was begun in the early days of the spring,
  and was finished by the middle of the summer.

    Cicero, _De Lege Manilia_, §§ 34-5.

Pompeius used the renown won by this success to secure for himself the
fruits of the Asiatic victories won by Lucullus. On the one hand, he
worked in Rome against Lucullus so that he got the command transferred
to himself; on the other, by bribery and the arts of Clodius, Lucullus’s
brother-in-law and aide-de-camp, he worked up a mutiny among his troops.
Then he went out to Asia and in a series of spectacular campaigns laid
the East at his feet. His progress through Asia was a parade; it was no
wonder that the Romans were dazzled by the news of the way in which he
overran kingdoms and conquered vast territories of enormous wealth.
Pompeius seemed to them a general of the rank of Hannibal or Alexander.

The Senate grew alarmed. They had not forgotten how Sulla had returned
from the East in 83 and set himself up as Dictator, master of Rome. If
Pompeius in 62 wanted to do the same there was nothing to prevent him.
He had a great army, devoted to him and ready to follow him in any
adventure. He was extremely popular with the people of Rome. He had
never shown any particular respect for the laws and customs of the State
when he wanted anything for himself. He had broken the rules Sulla had
laid down, by which no one could hold high command until he had passed
through all the lower offices. Now, while still in Asia, he demanded to
be allowed to stand as consul, in his absence, although he had never
been tribune or praetor. The Senate put difficulties in his way. Indeed
they did everything they could to irritate Pompeius and give him the
excuse for taking the strong line they dreaded. Only Julius Caesar, the
young and rapidly rising leader of the Popular party, backed him. The
Senate refused to allow Pompeius to stand for the consulship. Nepos, his
emissary, would actually have been killed in the streets if Caesar had
not saved him. Caesar pleased him by proposing that he should finish
rebuilding the Capitol.

The Senate’s fears were groundless, as Caesar knew. Pompeius was not
like Sulla. Sulla always knew what he wanted. Pompeius had no clear aim.
Opportunities lay open before him which he did not desire or know how to
use. He wanted to be important, a big man of whom people spoke well, to
whom they looked up; but his timid mind shrank from responsibility. He
had never been fired by any great idea; he had no purpose that he wanted
to impress upon the world. He had not even got that harsh and cold
contempt for the mass of mankind that caused Sulla to feel a sort of
bitter pleasure in imposing his will upon them. Of Caesar’s fire he had
nothing. Politically he had never taken a firm line. If no one in Rome
quite knew where he stood, Pompeius was in the same doubt himself. His
was a respectable nature with a natural inclination towards safety. But
in the Rome of his day things were in a state of uneasy movement; there
was no safety or quiet for any one who wanted at the same time to be a
big figure. Pompeius was later forced to take action. This action was
weak and irresolute because his mind had never been clear. Most people
are like Pompeius: they do not know what they want; or they want
something vague, like happiness or the good opinion of others; or they
want a number of things which cannot be had together. The mark of those
men who stand out in history is that they conceived clearly something
they wanted to have or do; and by force of will drove through to it.
Even when they failed, as Hannibal, for instance, failed, their failure
has in it something more magnificent than ordinary success. But this
power to will implies a readiness to make sacrifices. If you want one
thing you must be prepared to do without others. If you want to please
yourself you must be ready to displease other people. You cannot have
your own way and at the same time have the good opinion of everybody.
This Pompeius never saw.

  [Illustration: A TRIUMPH
  from a relief of the Empire]

When he returned from his great campaigns in the East in the year 62
Pompeius landed at Brundisium and dismissed his soldiers to their homes.
The senators heaved a vast sigh of relief. He was not going to be
dangerous. When Pompeius arrived in Rome without his army he found that
nobody much wanted him. People were more interested in the struggles
that had been going on at home--Catiline’s conspiracy, Cicero’s strong
line in putting the conspirators to death, the question whether Caesar
had been implicated, the friendship between Caesar and Crassus--than in
what Pompeius had been doing in the East. Without his army nobody was
afraid of Pompeius. He found Lucullus, in the Senate and political
circles generally, doing everything he could to thwart him, supported by
Cato the Younger, who thought that imperialism, Eastern conquests, and
new wealth were bad things, likely to ruin Rome. Pompeius celebrated a
stupendous triumph which made him the idol of the mob; but the Senate
would not hear of his being made consul or make grants of lands to his
soldiers. The Conservative party had thwarted Pompeius at every turn; he
was deeply hurt, and in his most sensitive part, his vanity. This hurt
finally drove him into an alliance with Caesar and Crassus, the leaders
of the Popular party, and his own most dangerous rivals. He disliked
Crassus and feared Caesar. At the moment his support was invaluable to
the Popular party; therefore Caesar set himself to overcome Pompeius’s
distrust of himself and Crassus’s deep detestation of Pompeius. He had
good arguments for each of them; and behind them a charm of manner that
few people could resist.

Three years after Pompeius returned from the East the three strongest
men in Rome were bound together. This first Triumvirate (60), as it was
afterwards called, was a private arrangement. People only learned of its
existence when they saw it at work. Pompeius married Caesar’s daughter,
Julia, who, so long as she lived, kept him friendly with her father.
Caesar was made consul and at once confirmed all that Pompeius had done
in the East and made grants of lands to his soldiers. A big programme of
land reform was passed through. The corn distribution was reorganized.
People who criticized the Triumvirate too openly, like Cato, were
banished. Cicero also was exiled, since Clodius had sworn vengeance on
him. Caesar would have saved him by taking him with him to Gaul, as well
as his brother Quintus, who was one of his adjutants; but Cicero
refused. Caesar went off to Gaul the year after his consulship (58);
Pompeius and Crassus were left masters in Rome.

There were at the time incessant disorders in the city. The strife of
parties waxed bitter and furious. Fights between different political
clubs were of nightly occurrence. The ingenious Clodius had reorganized
the old associations of the workers into guilds of a more or less
political kind, and thus built up a machinery in every quarter of the
city which he handled with great adroitness at election times. Moreover,
he organized something like a voters’ army of slaves and freedmen, which
turned out on his instructions, and lived on the free corn given out by
the State. Pompeius did nothing to cope with this state of things. He
fell, in fact, into a strange condition of indolence, and took hardly
any part in public affairs. The news of Caesar’s victories in Gaul did
not rouse him, though Caesar’s popularity increased daily and his own

Pompeius’s sloth at this period is sometimes put down to his extreme
domestic happiness. Julia, his new wife, was but half his age, three and
twenty. She possessed a full measure of the irresistible charm of her
father; so long as she lived the bond between the Triumvirs was
unshakeable. But her husband’s apparent indifference to public affairs
was due, in the main, to another reason; the one which explains so much
in Pompeius’s action and inaction both at this time and later. He stood
aloof because he did not know what to do. The political tangle had
become a knot that must be cut. Pompeius was not the man to cut knots.
He let things slide.

  Notice the roof garden]

Disorder grew and nothing was done to stop it. The Senate, alarmed by
Caesar’s growing popularity--a fifteen days’ festival was held in honour
of his victories in Gaul--began to attack his new land and other laws.
Pompeius did not trouble to defend them. Cicero had come back from
banishment and made alarmist speeches declaring that Caesar was aiming
at bringing the Republic to an end. Pompeius and Crassus quarrelled
again. Yet when Caesar called his friends to meet him at Lucca, where he
had gone into winter quarters (56), hardly any one in Rome refused to
go. Pompeius, despite his growing jealousy and uneasiness, was
reconciled to Crassus and the Triumvirate renewed. But as soon as he got
back to Rome again, away from Caesar’s charm, he fell back into his old
moody indolence. In the course of the next few years he became openly
hostile to Caesar. Little heed was paid in Rome to what he was doing in
Gaul. The death and defeat of Crassus at Carrhae (53), produced no deep
stir. The disturbances in the city, which had been occasional, grew
constant. More interest was felt by the ordinary citizen and even the
ordinary senator in the brawls between Clodius and Milo than in anything
happening outside Rome.

The Government was quite helpless. Things were plainly going from bad to
worse. There was one strong man in the Roman world who might save the
State; but the price of his doing it was one that made the Conservatives
determined to have civil war rather. The clearer Caesar’s outstanding
position became the more resentful were Pompeius’s feelings against him.
Since his early youth he had been regarded by other people, and had come
to regard himself, as the great man. Now, however, when there was a real
opportunity for showing greatness he did not know how to do it; and saw,
too, another likely to carry off the prize.

Julia’s death, two years after the meeting at Lucca, removed the one
human being who might have prevented an open breach between Pompeius and
Caesar, and left Pompeius’s jealousy to rule unchecked in his mind.
Caesar, far from Rome, saw with clear eyes the meaning of what was
happening there; Pompeius, though on the spot, did not or would not
understand. He would never take action. For this very reason the
senators looked upon him as a safe man and gave him powers far greater
than any Caesar had or had ever asked for. He was made sole consul (52)
and head of a special court which was to try all cases of disorder.
Disorder had indeed been getting more and more serious; Clodius and Milo
were rival candidates for the consulship. There were open fights, day
and night, between their followers. At last Clodius was actually
murdered by Milo’s ruffians on the Appian Way.

Pompeius did nothing, though in Rome he was all-powerful. Crassus was
dead; Caesar far away in Gaul and hard pressed there. When Pompeius fell
ill about this time prayers for his recovery were put up all over Italy;
and when the news came that he was better great public services of
thanksgiving took place. But as Plutarch says, this demonstration proved
to be one of the causes of the civil war which followed. ‘For the joy
Pompeius conceived on this occasion, added to the high opinion he had of
his achievements, intoxicated him so far that, bidding adieu to the
caution and prudence which had put his good fortune and the glory of his
actions upon a sure footing, he gave in to the most extravagant
presumption and even contempt of Caesar; insomuch that he declared, “He
had not need of arms nor any extraordinary preparations against him,
since he could pull him down with much more ease than he had set him
up”.’ When people like Cicero expressed their fear that Caesar might
march upon Rome with his army he said, ‘In Italy, if I do but stamp upon
the ground an army will appear.’ Filled with such notions, he proceeded
recklessly to drive Caesar to desperation. He refused to disband his own
troops (two legions which he had lent to Caesar, and Caesar, on his
demand, had returned to him loaded with presents); instead of backing
Caesar’s candidature for the consulship for the year in which he was due
to return from Gaul he opposed him in every way. Finally, he made it
quite clear that if Caesar came to Rome without his army he would be in
serious danger; and at the same time insisted that he should do so.

What this must lead to was plain enough to people in Rome. When they
heard that Caesar had crossed the Rubicon (49) at the head of his troops
(regardless of Sulla’s law) they fell into a panic. The Senate was
terrified of Caesar and not much less afraid of Pompeius. But disunited
as the Conservatives were among themselves, he was the only man who
could hold them together at all, and their only general. If Pompeius had
acted firmly at the crisis, whether with Caesar or against him, he might
have prevented the civil war. But at a time when every day was vital he
did nothing at all for several days, remained in his own house without
giving any lead or staying in any way the gathering tumult and
excitement. Refugees began to pour into Rome. For some reason or other
every one took it for granted that Caesar was going to march on the
city, though as a matter of fact he had made no move. At last Pompeius
declared that the country was in danger and that every one should leave
Rome. He himself left the city to muster the great bodies of soldiers in
Italy into an army. Very soon afterwards the consuls fled, in such a
hurry that they left the State treasures behind them, and with most of
the senators joined Pompeius at Brundisium, whence they intended to sail
for Greece.

Perhaps only a poet could interpret what was happening, in this time, in
the mind of Pompeius. Lucan thus describes it:

  _The Last Phase: the ‘Shadow of a Mighty Name’_

  You fear, Magnus, lest new exploits throw past triumphs into the
  shade, and victory over the Pirates be eclipsed by the conquest of
  Gaul; your rival is spurred on by the habit of continuous
  enterprise and a success too proud to take the second place; for
  Caesar will no longer endure a greater nor Pompeius an equal.
  Which of them appealed more righteously to civil war, we are not
  permitted to know. Each has the support of a mighty judge; the
  gods approved the cause of the conqueror, Cato of the conquered.
  They were not, indeed, equally matched. Pompeius was of an age
  already failing in decay, and during the long repose of peace and
  civil life had forgotten the practice of command; eager to be on
  the lips of all, lavish in his gifts to the mob, swayed by the
  breath of the people’s will, and flattered by applause in the
  theatre that he built. Careless, too, of gaining fresh stores of
  strength, and relying over much on earlier success, he stands the
  shadow of a mighty name; like an oak that, towering in some
  fertile field, bears spoils offered by the people of old and
  votive gifts of their leaders; no longer cleaving to the earth by
  stout roots, it is kept upright by its own mere weight, and
  thrusting leafless branches through the air, gives no shade save
  from the naked trunk. Yet, though it rocks and soon will fall
  before the first blast from the east, though around it so many
  forest trees raise their stems unshaken, it is worshipped alone.

    Lucan, _Pharsalia_, i. 121-43.

First in leaving Rome and then in leaving Italy Pompeius made fatal
mistakes. Caesar was soon master of Italy, almost without bloodshed.
Within the year he had reduced Spain and Sicily, the Roman granaries,
after severe fighting; built a fleet and sailed for Greece. There he
tried to induce Pompeius to meet him and so come to a settlement.
Pompeius refused.

He believed that his army was stronger than Caesar’s. He and all his
friends were full of bitterness, and quite sure of victory. They had,
indeed, every advantage on their side, in numbers and supplies, and
could afford to wear Caesar down by a waiting policy. This was
Pompeius’s own plan, and it was sound. But he allowed himself to be
overruled largely because of the gibes of his followers. He moved from
Dyrrachium, where he had held a very strong position, to the plains of
the Enipeus river. At Pharsalia a great battle took place (48). Pompeius
was defeated. His defeat was largely his own fault. He had 43,000 men to
Caesar’s 21,000 and was especially strong in cavalry. By a skilful
stratagem Caesar defeated the cavalry; when Pompeius saw this he
believed the day was lost; left the field and hid himself in despair in
his tent. Deserted by their general his lines broke; the defeat became a
rout. His army was wiped out. Pompeius himself fled to Egypt with a
handful of attendants. There he was murdered by the Egyptians, under the
eyes of his wife and son.

Caesar, it is said, wept when Pompeius’s seal-ring was handed to him,
and he knew that his great rival had perished. He set the statue of
Pompeius up again in Rome; and might, thereby, have seemed to rebuke,
almost in the words Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Marullus, the
fickle people of Rome who so soon forgot him who was once their idol.

  _A Broken Idol_

  _Marullus._ Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings he home?
  What tributaries follow him to Rome
  To grace in captive bonds his chariot wheels?
  You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
  O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome,
  Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft
  Have you climb’d up to walls and battlements,
  To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
  Your infants in your arms, and there have sat
  The livelong day, with patient expectation,
  To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome:
  And when you saw his chariot but appear,
  Have you not made a universal shout,
  That Tiber trembled underneath her banks,
  To hear the replication of your sounds
  Made in her concave shores?
  And do you now put on your best attire?
  And do you now cull out a holiday?
  And do you now strew flowers in his way,
  That comes in triumph over Pompey’s blood?
  Be gone!
  Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
  Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
  That needs must light on this ingratitude.

    Shakespeare, _Julius Caesar_, I. i.


Marcus Licinius Crassus

Of all the wealthy men in Rome, whether like Lucullus or Sulla they had
brought their riches back from foreign conquests, or extracted it from
the people of the overseas provinces as governors, or made it in
business, the wealthiest was Marcus Licinius Crassus. His riches became
a standard by which other men’s were measured. Crassus belonged to an
old but comparatively poor family which suffered much in the wars of
Marius and Sulla. He himself as a very young man was, like Pompeius, one
of Sulla’s lieutenants. Like Pompeius again he had founded his fortune
at the time of Sulla’s proscriptions. But the extraordinary and constant
increase in his wealth was due to his own unresting energy and extreme
ingenuity, helped by the fact that he was not in the least scrupulous.

The houses in which the ordinary Roman lived were chiefly built of wood:
only very rich men had stone or marble houses at this time. The streets
were extremely narrow, and many of them very steep and crooked, and the
dwellings, whether single houses or great tenements, were crowded
closely together. As the buildings grew old they were apt to fall down,
especially the high flats, which became top-heavy. Serious fires were
also very common. Crassus observed this. He therefore collected a great
body of slaves, skilled as carpenters and masons. He also equipped
others as a fire brigade. When a fire broke out anywhere he would make
an offer to the owner to buy the house very cheaply. Were his offer
accepted he would put out the conflagration and rebuild. Were it refused
he would let it burn. At the same time he bought up at cheap rates
houses in bad repair and likely to collapse, which he therefore got at
low prices. In this way he became owner of a great part of Rome, and, as
more and more people were constantly crowding into the city to live, and
the supply of houses was less than the demand for them, he could and did
charge high rents. People who refused to live in his houses could find
nowhere else to go.

This was one of the means by which Crassus acquired his riches. But he
was incessantly alert and active to spy out opportunities in this
direction or in that for making money. His energy never relaxed: he was
always busy. He never fell into idle ways or the kind of stupid
amusement in which so many Romans, young and old, frittered away most of
their time. At a time when he owned half the houses in Rome, and so many
members of the Senate were in debt to him that they dared not vote
against his wishes, he built for himself only one house, and that of
moderate size. He enjoyed money-making as men enjoy any pursuit of which
they are master. After a time, however, he grew so rich that a new
ambition seized him. He began to thirst after direct political
power--not merely the indirect power which his money gave him. Crassus
was no fool. In financial affairs of all kinds he had courage, resource,
ingenuity, determination, and persistence, with that touch of
imagination which belongs to any kind of genius. It was not only by
accident that everything he touched turned to gold. But his imagination
was of a narrowly limited kind. He understood all the lower motives that
move men but none of the higher ones, for he understood only what he
found within himself, and within himself there was no room for the power
of any kind of idea.

With most Romans of his time religion had become a dead thing. They kept
the sacred images in their houses and performed all the official and
recognized ceremonies. But this was matter of custom and manners, like
the rules of dress. There was no reality or feeling in it. The reality
of Roman religion had been men’s devotion to their country and the
belief in the city as a great thing whose life went on after their own
ended. In its service they had been prepared to spend themselves, for it
to die. This kind of devotion had been profoundly shaken. The average
Roman of Crassus’s time believed in nothing but his own pleasure, and in
power and glory for himself.

In this Crassus was exactly like them. He was the richest man in Rome,
but riches after a time ceased to satisfy him. They did not give him
popularity. This it is true was partly his own fault, for Crassus, like
many very wealthy men, combined reckless occasional expenditure with
steady meanness. He gave the most gorgeous shows; but he hardly ever let
off a debtor. His hardness in collecting small sums was a byword. He
would spend thousands one day and haggle about a shilling the next. Of
course it was this careful looking after the pence that had made and
kept Crassus so rich; but it did not make him beloved. Nor, though he
was a very capable soldier, could he compete in this respect with
Pompeius, who always seemed to manage to get the showy things to do
while other people only got the hard work. When Crassus boasted of his
exploits in the campaign against Spartacus, people shrugged their
shoulders. Yet the Slave War had been a most serious danger, the more so
that it broke out at a moment when difficulties were dark on every side.

More than once in the last few years Rome had suffered severely from a
shortage in the supply of wheat that meant actual famine for the poorer
people. In Italy the fields which used to grow corn had been
increasingly planted with vine and olive--more profitable crops. The
corn grown in the countryside was not much more than sufficient for the
needs of the people living there. Rome depended in the main on supplies
from across the seas. Although the Sicilian towns were legally bound to
send a certain proportion of their crop to Rome they did not always do
so, and the Government was extremely slack in keeping them up to the
mark. A serious famine occurred in the year of Mithridates’ invasion of
Bithynia, which looked dangerous enough. At the same time came the news
that the commander who had been sent out against the pirates who were
devastating the Cilician coast had been seriously defeated by them and,
worst of all, that a great rising of the slaves had broken out
throughout Italy (73).

This Slave War proved more serious even than at first appeared. The
slaves had not merely risen in great bodies: they had found a leader who
proved a real military genius in Spartacus. Spartacus was a Thracian,
and like most of his fellow slaves had been a prisoner of war.

These slaves were not the ordinary household slaves, many of whom were
treated kindly enough, or those employed in crafts and industries. They
were for the most part men kept in compounds under training for the
games. All over Italy there were training schools, belonging to rich
men, where picked slaves, chosen among prisoners of war because they
were tall, strong, and handsome, were kept and taught to fight as
gladiators. The conditions of these schools were very bad and the
unfortunate men in them had nothing better before them than the chance
of death in the arena. The taste of the Roman people was growing brutal;
the part of the shows given them by successful generals or politicians
who wanted popularity that they liked the best were the gladiatorial
fights: fights between men armed in different ways that went on till one
or other of the combatants was killed. A favourite combat was that
between a man armed with a trident and another provided with a net.
Sometimes these fights took place between bodies of men. Like the
Spanish bull fights, these shows excited the people of Rome beyond
anything. Good swordsmen fetched high prices and won fame for their

These unhappy men were for the most part prisoners of war; many of them
had been chiefs and leaders in their own country, and were men not only
of strength and courage but of intelligence. In the big training school
at Capua there was such a man among the slaves: Spartacus, a Thracian
chief. His mind rebelled against the hopelessness of his lot and he
stirred up his fellows. Eighty of them broke out from captivity and made
their escape to the slopes of Vesuvius. There they built a strong camp,
and, as the news spread of what they had done, slaves from all over
Italy joined them: some breaking out of the schools and prisons as
they had done, others running away from their masters and places of
employment. A small force was sent against them. They drove it back
in disorder and captured its weapons. This success encouraged further
risings. Spartacus was soon at the head of a considerable force. In the
next year (72) he defeated a consular army. His own numbers rose to over
40,000. The war was fought with horrible cruelty and bitterness on both
sides. Neither gave nor expected any mercy. All captured slaves were put
to death. Spartacus compelled three hundred Roman prisoners to fight as
gladiators at the funeral games held for a fallen slave captain. Farms
and country houses were plundered and burned.

  [Illustration: A THRACIAN GLADIATOR]

The growing success of the slaves filled people with terror: they
dreaded a general massacre of the rich. Yet it seemed impossible to
crush them. Spartacus showed rare qualities as a general and organizer;
and after he had defeated both consuls, in the following year, and began
to move northwards, there was something like a panic in Rome. No one was
willing to undertake command against him. At last Crassus came forward.
Here, he thought, was his chance to win glory equal to that which
Pompeius was gaining in Spain. His quick eye saw that the Roman armies
were falling to pieces through bad discipline: his first task was to
restore the strictness of military law.

In the beginning Spartacus seemed too strong and skilful for him, but
Crassus knew that in the end jealousies were sure to break out in his
ranks, since the slaves were men of different nationalities, only held
together by the will and skill of their commander. At last, after long
months in which success seemed hopeless, so hopeless that the Senate
recalled Pompeius from Spain to Crassus’s infinite rage, he compelled
Spartacus to fight a battle. He was killed and with him 12,000 of his
followers. They fought heroically, their wounds were all in front.
Pompeius as he crossed the Alps met only the bands of desperate
fugitives fleeing from the conqueror. He put them to the sword and
afterwards, to the disgust of Crassus, claimed a share in the victory.
‘Though Crassus’s men defeated the gladiators in battle, I plucked the
war up by the roots’, he told the Senate.

Next year (70) Crassus and Pompeius were elected consuls together. This
did not make them friends. Crassus disliked Pompeius and was exceedingly
jealous of his great position and influence. He did not see why he
should not be recognized as as big a man as Pompeius. Pompeius was cold,
lazy, self-satisfied; good fortune rained its golden shower upon him and
he stood and gathered it up in his hands. Crassus, tingling with energy,
alert in every nerve, was exasperated when he thought of Pompeius.

But he was intelligent enough soon to realize that he would not rise to
the position and power in the State he wanted by his own unaided
efforts. Nor had he to look far to find the person who could give him
what he had not himself got. Pompeius’s success filled him with anger
and bitter envy because he disliked Pompeius. His self-satisfied and
slow temper annoyed him. For the powers of Julius Caesar, on the other
hand, Crassus felt nothing but lively admiration, wonder, and even
devotion. He realized his extraordinary qualities at a time when Caesar
was unpopular and unsuccessful. Moreover, he was conquered immediately
by Caesar’s personal charm, and never ceased to feel it. Caesar was
loaded with debt: his want of money was his main personal difficulty.
His main political difficulty was the fact that the Democratic or
Popular party had become stamped, at the time of Marius and Cinna, as
the party of revolution and disorder. To Caesar, therefore, Crassus was
invaluable: a firm bond was sealed between them.

Some years later Caesar actually succeeded in reconciling Crassus to
Pompeius by persuading them that as long as they levelled their
artillery against one another they raised people like Cicero and Cato
the Younger to importance. These men would be nothing and could do
nothing if Crassus, Pompeius, and himself were friends and acted
together. He soon proved to be right. The Triumvirate were irresistible.
First Caesar was consul (59): then, four years later (55), Crassus and

Crassus’s thirst for glory made him eager to have, in the year after his
consulship, a great and important provincial command. To his delight,
while Pompeius took Spain and Caesar remained in Gaul, he was given
Syria. Although he was by now sixty the most fantastic visions of
triumph and conquest immediately floated before his eyes: he saw himself
performing feats in the East which should altogether outshine those of
Lucullus and Pompeius. There was no war going on in that part of the
world, but Crassus at once made up his mind that there should be war
since it was the straight path to honour and renown. He would attack
Parthia and conquer a new and rich country for Rome. This he planned
regardless of the fact that the Parthians were actually allies of Rome.
The ideas sown by Lucullus were bearing fruit.

Crassus was elderly. It was long since he had directed a campaign, and
campaigning in the East was new to him. Neither he nor his son Publius,
who after serving with Caesar in Gaul came with him as his aide-de-camp,
or any other member of his staff, knew anything of the geography of
Parthia. After gaining quick successes in Mesopotamia he returned to
Syria for the winter instead of going forward and making, as he could
have done, allies in the cities of Babylon and Seleucia, cities always
at enmity with the Parthians. As it was, while he was busy inquiring
into the revenues of the cities of Syria and weighing the treasures in
the temples, the Parthians, warned of his intentions, were making
preparations against him. Accounts of the scale of these preparations
were brought in which alarmed the Roman soldiers. They had imagined that
the Parthians, a most warlike people, were tame folk such as Lucullus
had found the Armenians and Cappadocians. A series of terrific
thunderstorms seemed to them to herald disaster.

  [Illustration: ORODES THE PARTHIAN]

Crassus, however, paid no heed to the murmurs of his officers and men.
He had no lack of courage or energy, and did not at all realize his
danger. Moreover, he was deceived by spies into a false security. Thus
he marched too far into a country about which he knew nothing. Suddenly
his scouts brought in news that a great army was advancing. Very soon
the Romans were upon this army. They found that its advance guard was
composed of a kind of warrior never met by the Romans--bowmen on
horseback, and bowmen of most deadly skill, whose arrows could pierce a
steel cuirass, whose aim was sure and whose rapid movements made it
almost impossible to stay them. Indeed, within a very short space of
time the Roman army was hemmed in and surrounded. Crassus showed great
intrepidity, but his men could not withstand the superior numbers and
dreadful skill of the Parthians. With great difficulty he succeeded in
extricating a portion of his men; but the day closed in defeat and the
survivors were in the darkest spirits.

Next morning the enemy advanced again with loud shouts and songs of
victory and a fearsome noise of drums. And in the front of their line
was a man carrying on a high spear the head of young Publius Crassus,
the son of the Roman commander. This sight sent a thrill of horror
through the army. Crassus alone showed greatness of mind. Plutarch gives
the following account of his behaviour:


  Crassus was in this condition. He had ordered his son to charge
  the Parthians, and as a messenger had come with the news that
  there was a great rout, and that the enemy were being hotly
  pursued, and as, besides this, he saw that the force opposed to
  him was not pressing so hard (for in truth the larger part had
  moved off to meet Publius), he regained courage somewhat, and,
  concentrating his force, posted it in a strong position on some
  slopes, in the expectation that his son would soon come back from
  the pursuit. It proved, however, that the first messengers sent to
  him by Publius when he realized his danger had been intercepted by
  the barbarians and slain, while others, getting through with
  difficulty, reported that Publius was lost if he was not supported
  strongly and at once. Then Crassus became the prey of contrary
  impulses and no longer able to take a reasoned view of anything,
  being distracted between the desire to help his son and the fear
  of risking the safety of his force as a whole. At length he
  determined to advance.

  Meantime the enemy were hurrying to the attack, more terrible than
  ever, with yells and shouts of triumph, and the kettledrums
  thundered again round the Roman ranks, as they stood expecting
  another battle to begin. Some of the Parthians, who were carrying
  the head of Publius stuck on the end of a spear, rode close up and
  displayed it, insolently asking about his parents and family, for
  it was monstrous, they said, that a noble youth of such brilliant
  courage should be the son of a coward like Crassus. This sight,
  more than all else, crushed and broke the spirit of the Romans,
  for they were not strengthened, as they should have been, by a
  resolution to defend themselves, but were seized, one and all,
  with fright and panic.

  Yet it is said that Crassus never showed himself so great as in
  this disaster. Passing along the ranks, he shouted, ‘This grief
  touches me, and none besides, but by your success alone can the
  honour and glory of Rome be preserved inviolate and unconquered.
  If you pity me for the loss of a gallant son, prove it by your
  fury against the enemy. Take from them their triumph, punish their
  ferocity, do not be cast down by our loss. Great aims are never
  realized without some suffering. Lucullus did not overthrow
  Tigranes without bloodshed, nor Scipio Antiochus; our ancestors
  lost a thousand ships off the coast of Sicily, and in Italy many
  dictators and generals; but never did these defeats prevent them
  from crushing the conquerors. It is not by good luck, but by
  endurance and courage in the face of peril, that Rome has risen to
  its height of power.’

    Plutarch, xxxix. 26.

Faulty generalship had brought the Roman army into a position whence no
courage could save it. In the second day’s battle a terrible defeat was
sustained: no less than thirty thousand Romans perished in the disaster
of Carrhae (53). Crassus himself was killed in a parley afterwards.

It is said that a few days after the battle, before the news of it had
reached him, the Parthian king was witnessing a performance of the
Bacchae of Euripides in which there is a scene where one of the dancers
comes in bearing a bleeding head. The actor who took this part carried
the head of Crassus, which he cast, amid shouts of joy, at the king’s

Such was the tragic end of the millionaire Crassus. The news of his
death and defeat came to Rome but caused no excitement there. The city
was more interested in the street brawls of Clodius and Milo. The
politicians were watching the growing conflict between Caesar and
Pompeius. Crassus had dropped out of the Triumvirate. The stage was
cleared for the great duel.


Marcus Tullius Cicero

Of none of the men of his own time do we know so much as of Marcus
Tullius Cicero. His contemporaries we know from the accounts given and
judgements passed by others: Cicero we know from his own. He was the
first speaker of his age, and his speeches deal largely with the
politics and people of his time, as he defended or attacked the men and
their acts. Cicero was anything but impartial; yet it is from what he
says that much of our picture of Caesar and Crassus, Pompeius, Antonius,
Catiline, Clodius, Cato, Brutus and a host of others are drawn. In all
the long gallery of portraits he has painted none is so sharp and vivid
as his own. It comes to us not only through his speeches but through all
his writings--and he wrote admirably on many philosophical and
semi-philosophical subjects--and above all through his letters. These
letters are addressed for the most part to his intimate friend the
banker Pomponius Atticus, but also to others including most of the
prominent men of his time, and to his daughter Tullia, to whom he was
devotedly attached. They give a day-to-day picture of the life of Rome
and also of the man who wrote them. Cicero was immersed, like most men
of his time, in politics. He rose, to his own ineffable delight
(a delight which he expresses again and again with childlike
complacency), to be consul. But the explanation of a character that at
times amused and at times exasperated his contemporaries, and has caused
the same mixture of feelings to much later admirers, is that he was, in
his essence, an artist. He wanted, as do many artists, to be and do
other things. He was more vain of his dubious success in politics than
of the splendour of his oratory or the beauty of his writing. In action
he was timid, uncertain, and quite unable to cope with the great
currents of his time, snobbish and constantly mistaken in his judgements
of people, and alternately elated and despairing in his view of public
events. When he takes up his pen he is a master.

  [Illustration: CICERO]

Cicero was in some ways typical of the new men in Rome. He was born at
Arpinum, where his family belonged to the Italian middle class. His
parents were sufficiently well-to-do for the young man to receive an
excellent education, completed, like that of other well-bred young men
of the time, by attending lectures in Athens on literature and
philosophy. His father’s death brought him a fortune that though not
large was sufficient, together with a small estate at Arpinum and a
house in Rome.

  [Illustration: ARPINUM.
  Cicero’s birthplace]

But Cicero had no mind for a life of fashionable idleness. For a
middle-class provincial there was little chance in politics, so long as
Sulla’s laws stood. He therefore turned to the law courts. There he soon
made himself a great name, the more distinguished since he kept up the
old custom of refusing fees. A wealthy marriage increased his
consequence. His honesty and ability made him respected by all sorts of
people. Cicero used his gifts in the most honourable way by defending
the people of the provinces, who before his time had hardly ever got a
hearing, against the rapacity of some of the Roman tax collectors.
A case which made his name known throughout the Roman world was the
prosecution of Caius Verres which he undertook on behalf of the people
of Sicily. Verres, once an officer in Marius’s army, was a man of
notoriously bad character. Like other praetors he looked on his
governorship simply as an opportunity to make money for himself and his
friends; it was freely said, even in Rome, that his misrule was ruining
Sicily. And Sicily was one of the chief granaries of Rome. The greatest
excitement was aroused over the case because the Democratic party took
it up as a means of discrediting the Government; and at the same time
brought in a Bill for the reform of the law courts by making the jurors
not senators only, but, as before Sulla’s time, men belonging to the
Equestrian Order. This frightened the Conservatives: they saw that much
hung on the case of Verres. Quintus Hortensius, the most famous advocate
of his time, agreed to defend him.

Cicero went to Sicily to collect evidence. He was quick to feel, in all
his sensitive nerves, the tense atmosphere of excitement gathering round
the case. It was to make or mar him. His genius rose delighted to the
great occasion. He understood, as the Conservatives did not, the
feelings that were dumbly stirring the mind of the ordinary decent
Roman, and could give them voice. As the evidence he had collected was
unrolled the story of the greed of Verres and the suffering of the
people of Sicily was laid bare step by step. Excitement and anger
against the class in power who did and defended such things grew and
grew. Each day an enormous crowd thronged the Forum and at times its
feelings made it positively dangerous. One witness told how a Roman
citizen had been crucified: his appeal, ‘Civis Romanus sum--I am a Roman
citizen’, had fallen on deaf ears. At this the hearers were stirred to
such rage that Verres was only saved from being torn to pieces by the
adjournment of the hearing. After fourteen days the defendants realized
that their case was lost; no judge dared acquit Verres. He fled the city
and was never heard of again. Cicero was the hero of the hour.

The man who appears and feels himself a hero when addressing a great
crowd, who can work their feelings and his own into tempestuous
enthusiasm, is often a weak reed, swayed by every impulse and incapable
of the long slow effort required to carry a purpose into action. This
was the case with Cicero. When speaking he was carried away by his own
passion. Then he appeared to know exactly what he thought. Alone,
however, he was moody, a prey to fearful doubt and depression, one day
full of enthusiasm, the next despairing. He was at once vain and timid;
uncertain of himself and turned this way and that by the praise or blame
of others. His great desire was to be admired by every one. His
comparatively humble origin made him feel any attention from the nobles
far more flattering than it was.

In a good sense as well as in a bad he was a Conservative. His study of
history made him feel full of respect for any institution that had
lasted a long time, and for men belonging to ancient families. He felt
this even at a time when his writings and speeches were making him known
throughout Italy and admired by men whose praise was worth having. The
rich men and many of the aristocrats were far inferior to Cicero in
brains and character; yet he longed and strove to get into ‘society’.
Society at the time was extravagant, frivolous, vicious, and
hard-hearted. Cicero was modest and frugal in his personal habits,
serious in the bent of his mind, a man of high moral principle and
tender domestic affections. Yet nothing pleased him more than an
invitation to one of the houses of the smart set; nothing vexed him more
than to be thought old-fashioned or middle-class in his ideas.

All these feelings made him regard his own election to the consulship,
and the support he received as candidate from the noble Conservatives,
as the most wonderful affair. Yet the real reason why the Conservatives
supported him was not that they loved Cicero but that they loathed
Catiline, the third strong candidate, and were prepared to go to great
lengths to keep him out. Antonius, who was elected as Cicero’s
colleague, though a friend of Crassus, was considered to be harmless.

This consulship was the turning point in Cicero’s life. He had always
wanted to stand well with all parties. Now he was compelled to take his
place definitely on the Conservative side. More than that, it finally
caused him to lose his sense of balance altogether and to think of
himself as a statesman: a part for which he was ill fitted. He was so
much impressed with his own importance that he bought a vast house on
the Palatine. To do so he had to borrow money and thus got into debt.
Before he had been free, after his consulship he became entangled and

This was the case with many of the leading politicians and men of all
parties, and hampered their actions in countless ways. In order to win
popular favour they spent huge sums on shows and gave feasts and
presents to the populace. They lived altogether in a way expensive and
showy beyond their means. To do this they had to borrow money at
exorbitant terms, and were thus helplessly in the power of the rich men
who lent to them. Caesar at this time was fearfully in debt and
constantly in difficulties on this account. So were innumerable
fashionable young aristocrats. The Roman laws of debt were still
extremely harsh and all acted against the unfortunate debtor. Prices
were steadily rising: the vast wealth of the few made the lot of the
many increasingly hard. While Lucullus was in the East there had been a
serious financial crisis in Rome, and the effects of this lasted for a
long time.

As a consequence of this state of things a vast number of people of all
classes were stirred to wild excitement and enthusiasm when Catiline,
who was determined to be consul and by no means inclined to sit down
under one rebuff, set out a programme of which the chief item was a
wiping off of a large part of all outstanding debts. The poorer people
were on his side in this almost to a man. So were a great many needy
aristocrats, especially among the younger men. The rich, on the other
hand, especially the class of Knights, to which most of the big
financiers and trading houses belonged, were furious. They were ready to
throw all their influence and the great power of the purse on to the
side of the Conservatives, who cried that Catiline’s programme meant
revolution. On both sides the wildest excitement and the most extreme
bitterness of feeling was stirred up.

Catiline was a man of low character, and of very bad record, quite
reckless. But he was by no means without ability. There was something to
be said for his programme if nothing for the man who proposed it.
Certainly the law of debt needed to be reformed. The rich did not argue
against it: they fell into a panic. They saw that popular feeling and
popular votes would be on Catiline’s side. But they had money and could
bribe. They did bribe so effectively that when it came to the election
he was beaten again.

The alarm of the propertied classes did not, however, die down, or the
excitement of the disappointed. People had talked of revolution and
civil war so loud and long during the elections that they began to
believe in it. Cicero had been going about for days with a cuirass under
his toga. He really believed that grave plots were on foot. He spent his
time listening to spies and informers. One day he came down to the
Senate with a very long face declaring that he ‘knew all’. He produced
no proofs, but most people were too much excited to ask for proofs. The
word plot was enough. A state of siege was proclaimed in the city.

Soon afterwards news came that a follower of Catiline had actually got
some soldiers together in Etruria. Catiline, however, was still in Rome.
He attended a meeting of the Senate. On his bench he sat alone, shunned
by all the other senators, who applauded loudly while Cicero thundered
against him. At last Catiline, unable to bear it any longer, got up,
marched out of the Senate House, and left Rome. Cicero did not dare to
have him arrested. There were as yet no solid proofs against him. A few
days later proofs came. Catiline’s supporters in Rome lost their heads
without him. They were foolish enough to ask some ambassadors of the
Allobroges--a tribe of Gauls, then in the city with a petition to the
Senate--whether their people would send soldiers to assist a rising.

Cicero now seemed to have the Catilinarians in his hand. They were
ready, some of them, to bring the Gauls into Italy! That was enough.
There was a wild outburst of feeling. All sorts of prominent people,
including Caesar, were said to be implicated. Catiline had escaped, but
all his close associates were arrested and brought up for trial by the
Senate. Cicero hurried on the proceedings. He was terrified by the wild
passion that swept all classes, the senators no less than the howling
mobs outside. After two days’ debate the question of what should be done
to the conspirators was put to the vote. The first senator voted for
death. All the others who followed voted for death until it came to
Caesar. Caesar knew of the rumours going about and the risk of his own
position as leader of the party to which Catiline had belonged.
Nevertheless with great courage he voted against the death penalty.
Every Roman citizen, he urged, had the right to appeal to his fellows.
To put men to death without trial was illegal. Cato, however, made a
powerful plea on the other side. Death was decreed. As Caesar left the
Senate House a group of knights threatened him with swords.

Next day Cicero, accompanied by a solemn procession of senators, saw the
executions carried out. Caesar was not in the procession. A huge crowd
escorted Cicero back to his home. They declared, and he proudly
believed, that he had saved the country. Plutarch thus describes

  _Cicero’s Day of Triumph_

  Cicero passed through the Forum and, reaching the prison, handed
  over Lentulus to the officer with orders to put him to death; then
  he brought down Cethegus and the rest separately for execution.
  And when he saw many of the conspirators still standing together
  in the Forum, ignorant of what had happened and waiting for
  darkness in the belief that the men were alive and could be
  rescued, he cried to them with a loud voice, ‘They lived,’ Thus
  Romans signify death if they wish to avoid words of ill omen.

  Evening had already come when he returned through the Forum to his
  house on the Palatine, no longer attended by the citizens with
  silence or even with restraint, but received everywhere with
  shouts and clapping of hands, and saluted as saviour and founder
  of his country. The streets were bright with the gleam of all the
  torches and links that were placed at the doors, and the women
  displayed lights from the roofs that they might see the hero and
  do him honour, as he made his stately progress escorted by the
  noblest in Rome; most of whom had conducted great wars and entered
  the city in triumphal processions and added whole tracts of sea
  and land to the empire, and who now agreed as they marched along
  that the Roman people was indebted to many leaders and generals of
  their day for wealth and spoil and power, but to Cicero alone for
  safety and life, because he had freed it from so vast and terrible
  a danger. For it was not thought so wonderful that he had crushed
  the conspiracy and punished the conspirators, but that he had
  quenched the most serious insurrection ever known with very little
  suffering, and without domestic strife and disturbance.

    Plutarch, lvii. 22. §§ 2-5.

The circumstances of Cicero’s exile and return are described by Plutarch
in passages that give a lively picture of the life of the time:

  Cicero, convinced that he must go into exile or leave the question
  to be decided by armed conflict with Clodius, determined to ask
  Pompeius for help; but he had purposely gone away and was now
  staying at his villa in the Alban hills. Accordingly, Cicero first
  sent Piso, his son-in-law, to make an appeal, and afterwards went
  himself. When Pompeius knew that he had come, he did not wait to
  see him (for he was terribly ashamed to face the man who had
  engaged in hard struggles on his behalf and often shaped his
  policy to please him), but at the request of Caesar, whose
  daughter he had married, he was false to those obsolete services,
  and, slipping out by a back door, managed to evade the interview.

  Thus betrayed by Pompeius and left without support, Cicero put
  himself in the hands of the consuls. Gabinius was harsh and
  unrelenting, but Piso spoke more gently to him, bidding him
  withdraw and let Clodius have his day, endure the changed times,
  and become once more the saviour of his country, which his enemy
  had filled with strife and suffering. After this answer Cicero
  consulted his friends, and Lucullus urged him to remain in the
  assurance that he would prevail, but others advised him to go into
  exile; for the people would feel his loss when it had enough of
  the mad recklessness of Clodius. He accepted this council, and
  taking to the Capitol the image of Minerva, a prized possession
  which had long stood in his house, he dedicated it with the
  inscription, ‘To Minerva, guardian of Rome,’ Then, having got an
  escort from his friends, he left the city secretly at night, and
  journeyed by land through Lucania, wishing to reach Sicily.

    31. §§ 2-5.

As a matter of fact the immediate danger from Catiline had been
exaggerated. People came to see this in a very few months. Catiline
raised a few hundred men and was killed fighting. The real danger lay
not in him but in the economic and political condition of Rome and
Italy. Its causes were the mismanagement, corruption, and feebleness of
the Government; the flaunting vulgarity and profiteering of the rich;
the misery of the poor. Cicero had done nothing to meet these evils: he
had no plan for doing so; he hardly realized that they were there. Men
had called him ‘Father of his country’. That great day was ever in his
mind. As he thought of it his vanity swelled and swelled until the year
of his consulship seemed to him the greatest in the annals of Rome. He
bored every one by talking incessantly of it on all occasions. He
dreamed of this and saw nothing of the dark tides rising round. He
watched helplessly the growing power of Pompeius, Crassus, and Caesar,
and did not understand what Rome was coming to. Caesar was always
friendly and gracious to him, for he had a mind which could appreciate
Cicero’s genius as a writer: but Cicero distrusted Caesar.

He had meantime made a deadly enemy of Clodius who, by playing on
disorder, was making himself more and more dangerous in Rome. Clodius
was charged with sacrilege. He defended himself by saying that on the
day on which he was said to have been present, in female clothes, at the
Women’s Festival being celebrated in the house of Caesar’s wife, he was
in fact not in the city. Cicero swore that he had seen him. Thanks to
bribery Clodius was acquitted. He never forgave Cicero. Soon after this,
in the first year of the Triumvirate (59), he secured his banishment
from the city for a year.

Cicero, after a visit to Greece, retired to his villa at Tusculum. He
would have been wiser had he settled down there and devoted himself to
the writing of which he was a consummate master. But after sixteen
months in the country he returned to Rome.

  _The Return_

  It is said that the people never passed a measure with such
  unanimity, and the Senate rivalled it by proposing a vote of
  thanks to those cities that had given help to Cicero in exile, and
  by restoring at the public expense his house, with the villa and
  buildings, which Clodius had destroyed. Thus Cicero returned in
  the sixteenth month after his banishment, and so great was the
  rejoicing in cities and the general enthusiasm in greeting him
  that he fell short of the truth when he declared afterwards that
  he was brought to Rome on the shoulders of Italy. Crassus, too,
  who had been his enemy before his exile, was glad to meet him and
  make proposals for reconciliation, saying that he did it to please
  his son Publius, who was an admirer of Cicero.

    33. §§ 4-5.

When Clodius was murdered in the streets by Milo, Cicero undertook the
latter’s defence in a very famous speech, which we still possess. Milo,
however, was condemned. In the province of Cilicia to which he was soon
afterwards appointed governor, Cicero showed himself an honest and
upright administrator. When he returned to Rome, however, his conduct
showed a helpless weakness. Between Pompeius and Caesar he for long did
not know how to choose. Both seemed to him in a measure wrong. In his
own letters he said to one of his friends at this time, ‘Whither shall I
turn? Pompeius has the more honourable cause, but Caesar manages his
affairs with the greatest address and is most able to save himself and
his friends. In short, I know whom to avoid but not whom to seek.’ In
the end, since he thought that Caesar failed, when he entered Rome, to
treat him with proper distinction and courtesy, he joined Pompeius at

There, however, he made himself very unpopular by criticism of
everything done or left undone. He took no part in the battle of
Pharsalia, being in poor health: after it, instead of joining Cato, who
was carrying on the war in Africa, he sailed to Brundisium. When Caesar
returned from Egypt he set out to join him. Caesar hailed him with the
greatest kindness and respect. Cicero, however, soon withdrew to
Tusculum, where he busied himself with writing. His private affairs
vexed him, however. He divorced his wife Terentia and married a rich
young woman whose fortune paid off some of his debts. But his days were
clouded by a heavy grief: his beloved daughter Tullia died.

After Caesar’s murder Octavius treated him graciously. Marcus Antonius,
however, who divided the power of the State with Octavius, was detested
by Cicero, who did all in his power to increase the growing dissensions
between the two. Against Antonius he wrote a series of most envenomed
speeches which he called Philippics in imitation of those of Demosthenes
against Philip of Macedon. In this, however, he paved the way to his own
doom. Antonius and Octavius patched up their quarrels, formed the Second
Triumvirate with Lepidus, and carried through a terrible proscription.
Cicero’s was one of the names on Antonius’s list, placed there mainly by
the wish of his wife Fulvia, who hated the man who had spoken evil of
her husband. Cicero was killed in his own villa at the age of
sixty-four, and his head set up in Rome above the rostrum from which he
had so often delivered passionate speeches.


Caius Julius Caesar

So long as the world lasts men will discuss, without settling, the
question, What constitutes greatness? Some people will give one answer,
some another. There are those who hold that no man ought properly to be
called great who is not also good. Thus a French historian said that
Napoleon was as great as a man could be without virtue. Even here,
however, there is room for difference and discussion. What is meant by
virtue? Is the good man he who does good, who makes people better and
happier, or the man who is good in himself, who tries always to put the
welfare of others before his own, whether he succeeds or not? If the
first be true, poets, painters, and sculptors must rank highest in the
order of goodness as of greatness. If the second, most of the really
good are forgotten, since they tried and failed. Is success the test? It
is the only test that history accepts. The men who appear to us as great
in the story of the past are those who made some mark, whether for good
or evil, on their time. The others are forgotten. What we know of most
of the men, great or small, of the past, is not what they were, but what
they did. We know what they did. We can only guess why they did it.
Often, too, it happens that good men--men kindly, affectionate, and
unselfish--do harm to others without knowing it: bad men do good.

  [Illustration: JULIUS CAESAR
  The Brit. Mus. gem]

All these puzzling questions, and many more, are set to us by the
character of Caius Julius Caesar. He puzzled the men who lived in his
own time, and has gone on puzzling historians ever since. Brutus, who
loved him, finally killed him because he thought he was doing more harm
than good. Marcus Antonius, who also loved him, thought him, to the end,
the noblest man that ever lived. One great historian regards him as one
of the few really wise and far-seeing statesmen in the world’s story;
a man who with extraordinary genius saw what the world needed and with
extraordinary will carried it out. Another sees him as no more than a
clever, selfish, and ambitious time-server: a man without fixed ideas or
principles, whose sole object was power. Both admit his genius: but
where one sees it directed steadily to great ends, the other sees
nothing fixed in his character but the determination to succeed.

Caesar’s speeches (and he was a great speaker) are lost. We have two
volumes of his writings: his account of the conquest and settlement of
Gaul, and his account of the Civil War. These two volumes of
_Commentaries_ are so admirably written, in so pure and firm and lucid a
style, with such mastery of narrative and of order, that their author
would stand high among Roman writers had he been distinguished in no
other way. Only a remarkable man could have written an account of his
own doings in just this style. For there is no word of comment: the
whole thing is, as Caesar himself says, bare, simple, and plain, with
every kind of ornament cast aside. The language is simple, exact,
concise. Every word tells. There is never a word too much. The dryness
with which amazing feats of generalship, of endurance, of courage, are
set down only makes them, in the end, more impressive. No mere talker,
no one shifted this way and that by chance and by the opinion of others,
could have written these books. They are the record of one who could
both see and act.

In so far as we can judge a man from his face, the busts tell the same
story. They show us Caesar in middle age, when firmly set to serious
purposes, the idle impulses of youth left behind. The power to think,
the power to act--these are the characteristics of the familiar bust.
Yet Caesar, if we can believe the stories of him, retained to beyond
middle life a rare personal charm, and always had much of the quick,
passionate responsiveness of the artist. There was room in his mind for
all sorts of things beside the business of making men do what he wanted.
Whether the almost tragic nobility of the sculptured face, which is in
this respect like that of Napoleon, means that Caesar was led on by
something higher than personal ambition, the desire to engrave his own
will upon the stuff of life, it is impossible to say. He made history;
he was, in that sense, a man of destiny, but did he know what he was
doing? did he care for a good beyond his own?

  [Illustration: JULIUS CAESAR
  The Brit. Mus. bust]

The first incident we know of Caesar is highly characteristic. Pompeius
at the time of the proscriptions had put away his wife at Sulla’s
behest. Caesar, a little younger, like him a rising young soldier, was
descended from one of the most illustrious of patrician families. But
his uncle had married Marius’s sister. Not only was he the nephew of
Marius; he was allied to the beaten party in the Revolution by his
marriage to Cornelia the daughter of Cinna. Sulla commanded him to
divorce her. Caesar refused. He loved his wife dearly. Neither then
(he was hardly out of his teens) nor at any other time was he ready to
take orders from other men. Therefore his property and the dowry of his
young wife were confiscated. His own life was in danger and he had to
leave Rome. But his will did not bend. Sulla realized something of the
stuff of which, youthful and unknown as he was, Caesar was made. ‘In
that young man’, he said, ‘there are many Mariuses.’

At the time, and for long after, however, no sign of this was perceived
by most people. At an age when Pompeius, the darling of fortune, had
celebrated a triumph and was, despite his youth, a leading man in Rome,
looked up to by every one, rather feared by the Senate, wealthy,
prosperous, and important, Caesar was poor and quite unknown, attached
by his relationship to Marius and Cinna to a defeated faction and a
broken and discredited party. Yet Sulla was right. Caesar had a genius,
a patience, and a power of will such as Marius never possessed. Of his
military talents no one, not even Caesar himself, had any suspicion till
long after. His rise was slow and difficult. Until his alliance with
Crassus he was perpetually hampered by poverty and debts, both in fact
and in the opinion of Rome.

When he escaped from Rome (81) Caesar went abroad first to the Greek
islands, where he served his first campaign, and afterward to Bithynia;
he also raised an expeditionary force against the Rhodian pirates. After
Sulla’s death he returned to Rome. His eloquence soon won him a position
in the Popular party. No one, however, regarded him as a serious rival
to Pompeius, who was at this time regarded as inclining more or less to
the Popular side. The enormous debts which were to be such a burden to
Caesar were mainly contracted while Pompeius was in the East. He carried
through magnificent building schemes, and gave superb games to the
people--such being the road to popularity. Wider plans were forming in
his mind, however: plans on the lines of Gracchus.

The great difficulty in Caesar’s way, over and above his own debts, was
the character of the Popular party. It stood, to the majority of
Conservatives and men of wealth and standing, for nothing but disorder
and insecurity, with revolution in the background. These Conservatives
did not see that they were helping to bring about all the things they
dreaded by their opposition to change and their effort to keep all power
in the hands of their own order, and their fear, distrust, and jealousy
of any man of real ability. They drove young able men into the Popular
party; and the Popular party to them was always the party of Marius and
Cinna. There were in fact too many men in it of low character and
reckless ways of life; men like Catiline and his friend Cethegus, like
Clodius and Milo. The more clearly Caesar was marked out as the leader
of this party the more did the Conservatives dread and hate him. Not
without reason did he often think his very life was in danger. It was
always possible that riots might break out. If they did the Popular
party would be held responsible, and he would suffer for them all. His
debts increased this danger. They made him at once reckless and

Yet Caesar’s popularity in Rome was real. At the time when his
difficulties were thickest upon him he stood for election, against some
of the most honoured and important senators, as Pontifex Maximus, the
chief of the State religion. He was under forty; it was a post generally
held by an old man; his religious views were known to be extremely
‘advanced’. Moreover, many people whispered that he had been privy to
Catiline’s conspiracy, since Catiline was a member of his party. One of
the other candidates offered to pay his debts if he would retire. To
retire was not Caesar’s way; he regarded the proposal as an insult. As
he left home on the day of election he told his mother, to whom he was
devoted, that he would return Pontifex or an exile. He was elected.

The same immovable courage was shown by Caesar at the time of the
Catilinarian conspiracy. The whole machinery of the trial of the
conspirators was contrary to the law; the Senate was not a proper Court
which could condemn men to death. Caesar knew that he was suspected by
many of being involved in the conspiracy and that many would be only too
delighted if they could see him in the dock for any reason. Yet he was
the one man who dared to point out the illegality and injustice of what
was being done and to vote against the death sentence. Caesar’s life was
threatened at the time; but afterwards when the excitement died down and
people could consider the affair more calmly they saw that he had been
right; that he had kept his sense of justice when panic had made the
other senators lose theirs altogether.

Caesar was soon after this made governor of Spain (61-60). But his
creditors were so pressing that he would have actually been unable to
start had he not come to an understanding with Crassus. Crassus settled
the most urgent of his debts and he set out. Two stories are told of him
at this time which show a good deal of his mind. In crossing the Alps he
came upon a town so small that one of his friends remarked to him that
in a place so tiny there could be none of the struggle for place and
power such as there were in Rome, nothing worth having or being. Caesar,
however, said, ‘I assure you I had rather be the first man here than the
second man in Rome.’ When in Spain he spent his leisure in reading.
Among other books he studied the Life of Alexander the Great. The
followers of Pompeius who had just come back from the East were freely
comparing him to Alexander. Caesar was so much moved by what he read
that he sat thoughtful for a long time and at last, to the surprise of
his companions, burst into tears. They could not understand the reason
till he said, ‘Do you not think I have sufficient cause for concern,
when Alexander at my age ruled over so many conquered countries and I
have not one glorious achievement to boast?’

In his government of Spain Caesar showed firmness, energy, and wisdom.
He carried out successful expeditions to distant parts of the peninsula
and brought the whole country into such good order that he enriched it
as well as the Roman State, himself, and his own soldiers. And all the
time that he was in Spain his mind was at work. From a distance he saw
the meaning of events in Rome with clearness and formed his own plans.

As soon as he returned he set to work to bring about that understanding
between himself, Crassus, and Pompeius that was known afterwards (at the
time it was a private bond) as the First Triumvirate (60). To bring this
about was by no means easy. Pompeius was jealous and apt to ride the
high horse. Crassus, though attached to Caesar, hated Pompeius. But
Caesar persuaded them both. The world might see how things stood when he
walked between them to the place of election for the consulship.

During his consulship (59) Caesar, despite the feeble opposition of his
colleague, carried through a big programme of reforms. In addition he
got a decree passed making him governor and military commander of Gaul
for five years. In Transalpine Gaul very dangerous movements were said
to be going on among the tribes. The Senate was not sorry to think of
getting Caesar out of the way and into a dangerous place: he himself
desired to win a glory equal to that of Pompeius and the command of an
army devoted to himself. In Gaul he meant to find both. And he did.

Plutarch, who wrote the lives of many distinguished Romans, was no lover
of Caesar. Pompeius is his hero. Yet Plutarch says that Caesar’s
campaigns in Gaul (58-51) show him ‘not in the least inferior to the
greatest and most admired commanders the world ever produced’. ‘In
Gaul’, he says, ‘we begin a new life, as it were, and have to follow him
in quite another track.’ In the nine years he spent there Caesar showed
astonishing genius as a soldier and won the utter devotion of his men.
But what he did in the field is surpassed by the statesmanship shown in
his settlement of the country and plan for its government.

In Gaul Caesar’s great ideas found scope; but they were not born in
Gaul. If Caesar at work in Gaul appears to be a different man from
Caesar playing at politics in Rome, the reason is not that he suddenly
changed but that the picture of him in Rome is based on the accounts
given by his enemies, by men who feared and disliked without
understanding him. They have drawn a picture of a wild, extravagant, and
dissipated young man. Caesar was that, but behind it there was a mind
more powerful, a personality more strong, than in any of his
contemporaries: that mind and personality which old Sulla had perceived.
When in Rome Caesar worked incessantly even while he pretended to idle.
He was one of the busiest men in the city, though some of his busy-ness
was of a foolish kind. In Gaul his immense energies were turned to
constructive work. His health, which had been fragile--he suffered from
epilepsy or what was called ‘the falling sickness’ and from violent
headaches--and never became extraordinarily robust, was strengthened by
the hardships of a military life, by long marches, exposure, and spartan
food. And his energy, always extraordinary, seemed to grow by what it
fed on. He never rested. When on horseback on the march he kept
secretaries by him to write, at his dictation, letters, orders,
memoranda, draft laws, and his own history. He reduced his hours of
sleep to the fewest and at all times shared, like Hannibal, every
hardship of his men. They adored him, not only because of this and
because he never forgot that they were men like himself, but because of
something magnetic in his personality, that charm which is the hardest
thing in the world to describe or define. Caesar made his men believe in
him: trust him when he asked them to do things that appeared impossible:
face the most terrific odds and the severest trials in perfect belief in
him. They believed, as he did, in his star. But their devotion was not
only due to his genius. It was given to him, as a man, because of his

For nine years Caesar was in Gaul. For nine years Rome saw nothing of
him, though he spent winters at Ravenna and Lucca, and all the time
never lost touch with what was going on in the capital, or hold over men
there. He had left one or two faithful friends, among them Marcus
Antonius and Curio, to look after his interests. But his whole mind and
energy were devoted to his work in Gaul. It was a great work. Caesar not
only fought battles and conquered territories, as Pompeius and Lucullus
had done in the East. He did what they had never even tried to do: he
romanized the country. Understanding, with rare quickness and sympathy,
the nature of the people with whom he had to deal, he did not try to
alter their deep-rooted habits. But he started the work, completed under
the Empire, of spreading Roman law and order, coins and ways of trading,
in a word Roman civilization, over Central Europe. Caesar’s mark
remained upon it all. There were disturbances in various parts of the
country after he left it. What the Romans called Gaul was a vast region
inhabited by numerous tribes who hated and warred against one another,
and had not learnt how to live in peace side by side. When Caesar took
up his command, the wild hordes of the north were ready to swoop down
upon Rome as they had done in the time of Brennus and again later when
Marius defeated them at Vercellae and the Raudine Fields. As the result
of Caesar’s work they were held back for more than four hundred years.
And since Caesar was a statesman as well as a soldier his work was never
wholly undone: the stamp of his genius and of Rome was set once and for
all on North-western Europe.

As a soldier Caesar ranks among the greatest in the world. When he first
went to Gaul his army was small--but four legions in all. The rest of
his army he created, enlisting and training it on the spot. With his
small forces he had to meet not Orientals, driven into battle by fear,
but sturdy and fiercely warlike men with whom fighting was a natural
passion. Among the Gaulish chieftains too there were leaders of great
military gifts--Ariovistus, the chief of the Teutons, and Vercingetorix
of the Arverni.

Some idea of the means by which Caesar stirred and inspired his men, and
checked the danger of insubordination in his own ranks, which rose at
times when they were called upon to fight forces far greater in numbers,
is given by a passage in his own story. It begins with a speech he made
to his men.

  from a relief of the Empire]

  _How Caesar dealt with threats of insubordination provoked by fear
  of meeting the Germans_

  ‘If any of you are alarmed by the defeat and flight of the Gauls,
  you will find on inquiry that they were tired out by the length of
  the war, and that Ariovistus, who for many months had been
  encamped behind the shelter of the swamps and made it impossible
  to engage him, suddenly fell on them when they were scattered
  without any thought of fighting, and conquered them rather by
  stratagem than by valour. Such a policy might well succeed against
  untrained barbarians, but even Ariovistus does not expect that
  Roman armies can be ensnared by it. Again, if any disguise their
  fears by a pretended anxiety about supplies or by imaginary
  difficulties in the route, they are acting presumptuously; for, as
  it seems, either they are hopeless about the commander’s
  performance of his duty or they are dictating to him what that
  duty is. These matters are for my decision; corn is being supplied
  by the Sequani, Leuci and Lingones, and the crops are already
  ripe. As for the difficulties of the route, you will soon have an
  opportunity of judging them. When I am told that the soldiers will
  disobey me and refuse to march, I am not at all troubled, for I
  know that, if an army has been disobedient, either its commander
  has been defeated through incompetence or some overt act has
  convicted him of extortion; but the whole course of my life bears
  witness to my integrity, and my success is proved by my campaign
  against the Helvetii. Accordingly I shall do at once what I had
  intended to do later and shall march to-night at the fourth watch,
  so that I may know without delay whether your fears are stronger
  than the claims of honour and duty. If no one else follows me,
  I shall start with the tenth legion, whose devotion is beyond
  question, and I intend to make it my bodyguard.’ Caesar had shown
  special favour to this legion and had an absolute trust in its

  This speech made an extraordinary impression upon all and inspired
  very great enthusiasm and eagerness to advance. The tenth legion
  set the example, thanking Caesar through its tribunes for his
  generous confidence, and declaring that it was ready in every way
  to fight. Then the rest of the legions commissioned their tribunes
  and chief centurions to apologize to Caesar; they had never
  hesitated or feared, and had never thought that they should meddle
  with their commander in the control of operations. Caesar accepted
  their apology and started at the fourth watch, as he had warned

    Caesar, _De Bello Gallico_, i. 40. 8-41. 4.

  found in Britain]

There was a moment when it looked as though all Caesar’s work was to be
swept away. He spent part of the year 54 in Britain. While he was away
plans for a great rising were conceived. Soon after he returned all Gaul
rose in a blaze. The first rising was put down. In 52 another and more
serious movement took place with Vercingetorix at its head. The danger
was greater than ever. It was the more serious that Caesar knew that in
Rome his enemies were working against him. So great was it indeed that
Caesar’s officers were in despair and begged him to retreat to some safe
spot until reinforcements could be sent. But to wait for reinforcements
would make things worse instead of better. The rebellion would gather
force. It was by no means certain that Pompeius, now hand in glove with
the Conservatives, would send him more troops. Pompeius would be glad to
see his rival fail. Caesar was not going to give him that pleasure. And
retreat in face of danger was never Caesar’s way. Always he went to meet
it. So now. He delivered a blow at the very heart of the enemy’s
position. Caesar’s capture of Alesia, the stronghold of Vercingetorix,
and his defeat of the second great Gallic army that closed him in while
he was blockading the town are among the great feats in the history of
war. The odds were heavy against him. His army was in a position from
which no luck, only the most brilliant generalship, could save it.
Caesar not only saved it: he absolutely crushed the foe. Vercingetorix
surrendered. The rebellion collapsed. By the end of the next year Gaul
was under Caesar’s feet again. It was possible for him to turn his eyes
and mind to Rome (50).

  [Illustration: THE HEIGHTS OF ALESIA
  The stronghold of Vercingetorix]

He did not want to quarrel with Pompeius. He had indeed from the first
done everything in his power to prevent such a quarrel. But he saw that
the old order of things in Rome was crumbling into ruin. If Pompeius and
he could not rule together, one of them must rule alone. In the years of
his absence Pompeius had moved more and more to the Conservative point
of view. His jealousy of Caesar had grown. The long struggle came to a
head when Caesar’s time in Gaul drew to an end.

  [Illustration: MARCUS ANTONIUS from a coin]

Caesar from his winter quarters at Ravenna declared that he was ready to
disband his army and return to Rome as a private citizen as soon as
Pompeius demobilized his troops. Pompeius actually had a larger force of
men under arms than Caesar, including two legions which Caesar had
borrowed and sent back to him. In the Senate Curio proposed that both
generals should lay down their commands. This was agreed to. Pompeius
refused. A few months later the question came up again. Curio, who had
been to Ravenna, where Caesar was, read a letter from him. In this he
said he would disarm, if Pompeius did the same. The Senate declared the
letter was dangerous, and the man who wrote it dangerous. A friend of
Pompeius then proposed that by a certain day Caesar, if not disarmed,
should be regarded as a traitor. When Marcus Antonius and Cassius,
another tribune, vetoed this, they were expelled from the Senate and
threatened with swords by Pompeius’s adherents. Caesar could no longer
have any doubt as to what awaited him in Rome. He explained how things
stood to his soldiers: they cried to him to march on (49).

By Sulla’s law the Rubicon was the military boundary of Italy. No one
might cross it under arms. Caesar paused for a moment on the bank; then
suddenly crying, ‘The die is cast’, he crossed the river at the head of
his men and marching with great speed entered Ariminum.

The poet Lucan, writing long afterwards, tried to penetrate the secrets
of his mind, and guess what passed in it at this moment.

  _The Approach to the Rubicon: a Poet’s Phantasy_

  Caesar had already hurried across the frozen Alps, pondering in
  his heart vast schemes of war to come; but when he reached the
  narrow waters of the Rubicon, the vision of his distracted country
  rose awful to his gaze, with saddened features clear seen through
  the gloom and white locks flowing from beneath her crown of
  towers. All dishevelled and bare-armed she stood before him,
  uttering words broken by sighs: ‘Whither do ye press on? Whither
  do ye bear these my standards? If ye come as loyal citizens, thus
  far and no further.’ Then Caesar shuddered in every limb, his hair
  stiffened, and faintness of heart, checking his steps, stayed him
  at the very brink. Soon he cried: ‘Oh Lord of thunder, that from
  the Tarpeian rock dost survey all our city, and gods that followed
  the race of Iulus from Troy, and mysteries of Quirinus lost to our
  sight, and Jupiter enthroned over Latium on Alba’s mount, and
  hearth of Vesta’s fire, and thou, Rome, worshipped as divine, be
  gracious to my cause. I bear against thee no frenzied arms. Lo!
  here am I, Caesar, conqueror by sea and land, still everywhere thy
  soldier if none forbid. On him, on him shall rest the guilt who
  makes me thy enemy!’ Then without delay be gave the signal for
  advance and quickly led his men through the swollen stream.

    Lucan, _Pharsalia_, i. 183-203.

There was no resistance. It was not Caesar’s intention to use any
violence. In Rome, however, when the news came that he was moving south,
people fell into a panic. Pompeius lost his head. Although the forces at
his command were greater than Caesar’s, he left the city, leaving
everything, including the State Treasury, behind him. Most of the
senators and people of consequence did the same.

Within sixty days from his crossing the Rubicon Caesar entered Rome and
made himself master of it and of all Northern Italy without bloodshed.
People who had trembled and believed that a reign of terror and
proscriptions of the kind carried out by Marius and Sulla would follow,
breathed again. Caesar showed no bitterness. There were no executions.
The property of those who had fled with Pompeius was untouched. Even to
Labienus, the one officer of his own who deserted him and joined the
other side, Caesar was generous. He sent his goods after him.

Caesar summoned those members of the Senate who had remained in Rome and
addressed them in a mild and gracious speech. He had no desire for war:
he urged them to send deputies to Pompeius. But no one would do this.
Pompeius meantime was embarking for Greece. Caesar did not follow him.
He was master in Rome: but Rome was utterly dependent for all its
supplies, the means by which it lived, on the world outside. Of that
world Pompeius seemed master. Caesar’s first task was, therefore, not to
defeat Pompeius but to secure the food supply of the capital. For this
purpose he himself set out for Spain, where there was a strong Pompeian
army, leaving Marcus Antonius in charge in Italy and sending Curio to
Sicily. The Spanish campaign was severe, but after the Battle of Ilerda
the Pompeian armies were shattered. A considerable force surrendered.
Caesar pardoned the men and many of them joined his legions. When he
returned home, capturing Massilia on the way, he heard that Curio had
done excellently in Sicily: Cato had been defeated and fled to Pompeius.

The West was safe. From Spain, Sicily, and Sardinia corn flowed into
Rome. Caesar could sail for Dyrrachium to meet Pompeius. Pompeius
rejected all his proposals for peace. He was in a strong position: his
army far outnumbered Caesar’s, and his companions were blindly certain
of victory. They indeed spent their time quarrelling among themselves as
to who should hold the great offices in Rome when they got back there:
who should be Pontifex Maximus for instance, when Caesar had been
killed. They were so sure of victory that when Caesar was compelled to
shift his camp, since his men were dying of starvation, they insisted on
following him and giving battle, though Pompeius saw that this was
playing Caesar’s game: whereas to delay would have worn him down. At the
battle of Pharsalia (48) Caesar’s much smaller army won a complete
victory, thanks to his superior generalship. The princes of the East
sent in their submission to the conqueror. The senators and men of rank
who survived Pharsalia hastened to make their peace with Caesar, all
except Cato, who had not shaved or cut his hair since Caesar crossed the
Rubicon, and now sailed to Africa to resist to the last.

Pompeius fled to Egypt. Thither Caesar followed him only to learn the
news of his death. When the bloody head of his chief enemy and sometime
friend was handed to him Caesar turned away, tears in his eyes.

Years before Caesar had planned to bring Egypt under the Roman rule: but
this plan had been defeated. Now he found everything in confusion there.
The old king, dying two years earlier, had left his kingdom to his
children, Cleopatra, then sixteen, and a baby boy. By Cleopatra, who
even as a young girl had those extraordinary powers of mind and charm
that have made her famous through the ages, Caesar was fascinated. Her
wit and gaiety, her beauty and changefulness, held him entranced: and
week after week he stayed on in Alexandria, while a dangerous
insurrection was being planned by the ex-vizier of the old king.
Suddenly it broke out. Caesar had but a handful of troops: to save his
fleet from being used against him he had to set fire to it with his own
hands. From the dock the flames spread to the palace and destroyed the
great Alexandrine library, the most wonderful in the world. Caesar
himself only just escaped: he had to swim across the harbour, holding
his papers in one hand.

  [Illustration: CLEOPATRA from a coin]

The danger was serious but brief. Reinforcements arrived from Cilicia:
the Egyptian rebels were defeated: the ex-vizier put to death: Cleopatra
and her brother made rulers over Egypt under the protection of Rome.
Caesar in the spring crossed to Asia Minor, where he came, saw, and
conquered, as he himself said. In September he was in Athens: in October
in Rome: in December in Africa. There, at the battle of Thapsus, he
crushed out the last spark of opposition. Cato, who had fled to Utica,
killed himself, much to Caesar’s distress. He admired the sturdy
independence of the old man and would have spared him. His daughter
Portia was married to Marcus Junius Brutus, a Pompeian whom Caesar had
pardoned and loved as a son.

The secret of Caesar’s clemency, which astonished his contemporaries,
lay partly in his own nature, partly in his clear purpose to
re-establish life in Rome on a firm and lasting foundation. His mind had
no bitterness. Bitterness arises out of some inner uncertainty; Caesar
had a rare certainty as to what he wanted to do and as to his being able
to do it. He was not afraid of other people or of their judgements. He
had no need to compare himself uneasily with them. He could stand on
what he did, irrespective of what they thought about it. He had come to
build, not to destroy. He had seen the failure of Marius and of Sulla.
Sulla had tried to restart Rome on a false basis--the rule of one party
in the State, standing on the bleeding bodies and broken fortunes of the
other. He had failed. His system had crumbled, and in its ruin it had
brought the whole State to the ground. Moreover, Sulla’s system had left
no room for growth. Rome’s task in the world had grown enormously and
the old machine was quite incapable of fulfilling it. Caesar wanted to
create a new machine that could govern not a city but a world.

  [Illustration: A ROMAN COIN
  celebrating the murder of Caesar]

Caesar worked with the energy and power of a giant at his colossal task.
Every part of the State was in disorder--the army, the navy, the
treasury, the laws, trade, the whole business of government. He had to
reconstruct the whole, and in the space of little more than a year he
did much towards this. And besides these great tasks there were lesser
ones--the reform of the calendar, of the system of weights and measures,
of the language. Reforms are never popular. The change from bad to good
is slow and gradual. Caesar’s followers were not made as rich as they
had hoped. His measures were directed to filling, not private pockets,
but the coffers of the State.

The people loved him. Their lot was vastly improved. But a growing body
began to say that he was behaving as a tyrant and that things were no
better than they had been under the old government. Some of these people
were sincere republicans who were afraid that Caesar was trying to make
himself king. Among them was Marcus Junius Brutus.

Brutus had married Cato’s daughter and shared many of Cato’s ideas.
Round him there gathered a knot of men, among whom the ablest was Caius
Cassius, who determined to free the city of the tyrant. To the minds of
Brutus and Cassius it seemed that Caesar was destroying the seeds of
greatness in all other men, to make himself supreme. Shakespeare makes
Cassius argue thus:

  _The Penalty of Greatness_

  _Cassius._ Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
  Like a Colossus; and we petty men
  Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
  To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
  Men at some time are masters of their fates:
  The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
  But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
  Brutus and Caesar: what should be in that ‘Caesar’?
  Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
  Write them together, yours is as fair a name;
  Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
  Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with ’em,
  ‘Brutus’ will start a spirit as soon as ‘Caesar’.
  Now, in the names of all the gods at once,
  Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed,
  That he is grown so great? Age, thou art sham’d!
  Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!
  When went there by an age, since the great flood,
  But it was fam’d with more than with one man?
  When could they say, till now, that talk’d of Rome,
  That her wide walls encompassed but one man?
  Now is it Rome indeed, and room enough,
  When there is in it but one only man.
  O! you and I have heard our fathers say,
  There was a Brutus once that would have brook’d
  The eternal devil to keep his state in Rome
  As easily as a king.

    Shakespeare, _Julius Caesar_, I. ii.

Caesar was warned of the conspiracy but took little heed. He had always
taken his life in his hand. He knew that he walked in constant danger.
When a soothsayer warned him to beware the Ides of March he only
laughed; and when the Ides (March 15) came and his wife implored him to
stay indoors, he paid no attention but set out for a meeting of the
Senate as usual to transact his daily business, hearing petitions and
so on.

It was the day chosen by the conspirators. One of them detained Marcus
Antonius, who generally watched over his chief’s safety: the others
gathered round Caesar. At a sudden signal, they fell upon him with their
daggers. Caesar was unarmed. At the foot of the statue of Pompeius,
which he had himself caused to be set up in a place of honour, he fell.
Pierced by six and thirty wounds he died. Marcus Brutus raised his
dagger, dyed with Caesar’s blood, and holding it aloft declared that he
had freed Rome from a tyrant.

So Caesar fell (44). Years of bitter civil war followed. Then at last
Caesar’s nephew and adopted son, Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus, did
that which Brutus had slain Caesar to prevent--changed the Roman
Republic into the Roman Empire. All the Emperors bore the name of
Caesar. Throughout the vast world over which the Roman eagles flew,
Julius Caesar was worshipped almost as a god.

  [Illustration: A CINERARY URN]

  [Illustration: A ROMAN WATER-CARRIER
  with his water-skin on his back]

Printed in England at the Oxford University Press

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The word “invisible” means that there is an appropriately sized blank
space, but no printed character. The repeated words in “From her her
sons and daughter learned” and “be recognized as as big a man as
Pompeius” are not errors.

  the long and bitter wars that followed.  [_final . invisible_]
  CHAPTER III  [_anomalous title format unchanged_]
  He was an organizer of consummate ability  [comsummate]
  Rome has risen to its height of power.’  [_close quote missing_]
  the Roman people was indebted to many leaders
    [_text unchanged: expected “were”_]
  [Illustration: JULIUS CAESAR The Brit. Mus. gem]  [Brit. Mus gem]
  which rose at times when they were called upon  [at time]

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Ancient Rome - The Lives of Great Men" ***

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