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Caesar: A Sketch
by James Anthony Froude
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Cicero was not taking the best means to regain his influence in the Senate by stooping to vulgar brutality. He cannot be excused by the manners of the age; his violence was the violence of a fluent orator whose temper ran away with him, and who never resisted the temptation to insult an opponent. It did not answer with him; he thought he was to be chief of the Senate, and the most honored person in the State again; he found that he had been allowed to return only to be surrounded by mosquitoes whose delight was to sting him, while the Senate listened with indifference or secret amusement. He had been promised the restoration of his property; but he had a suit to prosecute before he could get it. Clodius had thought to make sure of his Roman palace by dedicating it to "Liberty." Cicero challenged the consecration. It was referred to the College of Priests, and the College returned a judgment in Cicero's favor. The Senate voted for the restoration. They voted sums for the rebuilding both of the palace on the Palatine Hill and of the other villas, at the public expense. But the grant in Cicero's opinion was a stingy one. He saw too painfully that those "who had clipped his wings did not mean them to grow again." [10] Milo and his gladiators were not sufficient support, and if he meant to recover his old power he found that he must look for stronger allies. Pompey had not used him well; Pompey had promised to defend him from Clodius, and Pompey had left him to his fate. But by going with Pompey he could at least gall the Senate. An opportunity offered, and he caught at it. There was a corn famine in Rome. Clodius had promised the people cheap bread, but there was no bread to be had. The hungry mob howled about the senate-house, threatening fire and massacre. The great capitalists and contractors were believed to be at their old work. There was a cry, as in the "pirate" days, for some strong man to see to them and their misdoings. Pompey was needed again. He had been too much forgotten, and with Cicero's help a decree was carried which gave Pompey control over the whole corn trade of the Empire for five years.

This was something, and Pompey was gratified; but without an army Pompey could do little against the roughs in the streets, and Cicero's house became the next battle-ground. The Senate had voted it to its owner again, and the masons and carpenters were set to work; but the sovereign people had not been consulted. Clodius was now but a private citizen; but private citizens might resist sacrilege if the magistrates forgot their duty. He marched to the Palatine with his gang. He drove out the workmen, broke down the walls, and wrecked the adjoining house, which belonged to Cicero's brother Quintus. The next day he set on Cicero himself in the Via Sacra, and nearly murdered him, and he afterward tried to burn the house of Milo. Consuls and tribunes did not interfere. They were, perhaps, frightened. The Senate professed regret, and it was proposed to prosecute Clodius; but his friends were too strong, and it could not be done. Could Cicero have wrung his neck, as he had wrung the necks of Lentulus and Cethegus, Rome and he would have had a good deliverance. Failing this, he might wisely have waited for the law, which in time must have helped him. But he let himself down to Clodius's level. He railed at him in the Curia as he had railed at Gabinius and Piso. He ran over his history; he taunted him with incest with his sister, and with filthy relations with vulgar millionaires. He accused him of having sold himself to Catiline, of having forged wills, murdered the heirs of estates and stolen their property, of having murdered officers of the treasury and seized the public money, of having outraged gods and men, decency, equity, and law; of having suffered every abomination and committed every crime of which human nature was capable. So Cicero spoke in Clodius's own hearing and in the hearing of his friends. It never occurred to him that if half these crimes could be proved, a commonwealth in which such a monster could rise to consequence was not a commonwealth at all, but a frightful mockery which he and every honest man were called on to abhor. Instead of scolding and flinging impotent filth, he should have withdrawn out of public life when he could only remain in it among such companions, or should have attached himself with all his soul to those who had will and power to mend it.

Clodius was at this moment the popular candidate for the aedileship, the second step on the road to the consulship. He was the favorite of the mob. He was supported by his brother Appius Claudius, the praetor, and the clientele of the great Claudian family; and Cicero's denunciations of him had not affected in the least his chances of success. If Clodius was to be defeated, other means were needed than a statement in the Senate that the aspirant to public honors was a wretch unfit to live. The election was fixed for the 18th of November, and was to be held in the Campus Martius. Milo and his gladiators took possession of the polling- place in the night, and the votes could not be taken. The Assembly met the next day in the Forum, but was broken up by violence, and Clodius had still to wait. The political witch-dance was at its height and Cicero was in his glory. "The elections," he wrote to Atticus, "will not, I think, be held; and Clodius will be prosecuted by Milo unless he is first killed. Milo will kill him if he falls in with him. He is not afraid to do it, and he says openly that he will do it. He is not frightened at the misfortune which fell on me. He is not the man to listen to traitorous friends or to trust indolent patricians." [11]

With recovered spirits the Senate began again to attack the laws of Caesar and Clodius as irregular; but they were met with the difficulty which Clodius had provided. Cato had come back from Cyprus, delighted with his exploit and with himself, and bringing a ship-load of money with him for the public treasury. If the laws were invalidated by the disregard of Bibulus and the signs of the sky, then the Cyprus mission had been invalid also, and Cato's fine performance void. Caesar's grand victories, the news of which was now coming in, made it inopportune to press the matter farther; and just then another subject rose, on which the optimates ran off like hounds upon a fresh scent.

Ptolemy of Cyprus had been disposed of. Ptolemy Auletes had been preserved on the throne of Egypt by subsidies to the chiefs of the Senate. But his subjects had been hardly taxed to raise the money. The Cyprus affair had further exasperated them, and when Ptolemy laid on fresh impositions the Alexandrians mutinied and drove him out. His misfortunes being due to his friends at Rome, he came thither to beg the Romans to replace him. The Senate agreed unanimously that he must be restored to his throne. But then the question rose, who should be the happy person who was to be the instrument of his reinstatement? Alexandria was rich. An enormous fine could be exacted for the rebellion, besides what might be demanded from Ptolemy's gratitude. No prize so splendid had yet been offered to Roman avarice, and the patricians quarrelled over it like jackals over a bone. Lentulus Spinther, the late consul, was now Governor of Cilicia; Gabinius was Governor of Syria; and each of these had their advocates. Cicero and the respectable conservatives were for Spinther; Pompey was for Gabinius. Others wished Pompey himself to go; others wished for Crassus.

[Sidenote: B.C. 56.] Meanwhile, the poor Egyptians themselves claimed a right to be heard in protest against the reimposition upon them of a sovereign who had made himself abhorred. Why was Ptolemy to be forced on them? A hundred of the principal Alexandrians came to Italy with a remonstrance; and had they brought money with them they might have had a respectful hearing. But they had brought none or not enough, and Ptolemy, secure of his patrons' support, hired a party of banditti, who set on the deputation when it landed, and killed the greater part of its members. Dion, the leader of the embassy, escaped for a time. There was still a small party among the aristocracy (Cato and Cato's followers) who had a conscience in such things; and Favonius, one of them, took up Dion's cause. Envoys and allied sovereigns or provinces, he said, were continually being murdered. Noble lords received hush-money, and there had been no inquiry. Such things happened too often, and ought to be stopped. The Senate voted decently to send for Dion and examine him. But Favonius was privately laughed at as "Cato's ape;" the unfortunate Dion was made away with, and Pompey took Ptolemy into his own house and openly entertained him there. Pompey would himself perhaps have undertaken the restoration, but the Senate was jealous. His own future was growing uncertain; and eventually, without asking for a consent which the Senate would have refused to give, he sent his guest to Syria with a charge to his friend Gabinius to take him back on his own responsibility.[12]

The killing of envoys and the taking of hush-money by senators were, as Favonius had said, too common to attract much notice; but the affair of Ptolemy, like that of Jugurtha, had obtained an infamous notoriety. The Senate was execrated. Pompey himself fell in public esteem. His overseership of the granaries had as yet brought in no corn. He had been too busy over the Egyptian matter to attend to it. Clearly enough there would now have been a revolution in Rome, but for the physical force of the upper classes with their bands of slaves and clients.

The year of Milo's tribunate being over, Clodius was chosen aedile without further trouble; and, instead of being the victim of a prosecution, he at once impeached Milo for the interruption of the Comitia on the 18th of November. Milo appeared to answer on the 2d of February; but there was another riot, and the meeting was broken up. On the 6th the court was again held. The crowd was enormous. Cicero happily has left a minute account of the scene. The people were starving, the corn question was pressing. Milo presented himself, and Pompey came forward on the Rostra to speak. He was received with howls and curses from Clodius's hired ruffians, and his voice could not be heard for the noise. Pompey held on undaunted, and commanded occasional silence by the weight of his presence. Clodius rose when Pompey had done, and rival yells went up from the Milonians. Yells were not enough; filthy verses were sung in chorus about Clodius and Clodia, ribald bestiality, delightful to the ears of "Tully." Clodius, pale with anger, called out, "Who is murdering the people with famine?" A thousand throats answered, "Pompey!" "Who wants to go to Alexandria?" "Pompey!" they shouted again. "And whom do you want to go?" "Crassus!" they cried. Passion had risen too high for words. The Clodians began to spit on the Milonians. The Milonians drew swords and cut the heads of the Clodians. The working men, being unarmed, got the worst of the conflict; and Clodius was flung from the Rostra. The Senate was summoned to call Pompey to account. Cicero went off home, wishing to defend Pompey, but wishing also not to offend the "good" party, who were clamorous against him. That evening nothing could be done. Two days after the Senate met again; Cato abused Pompey, and praised Cicero much against Cicero's will, who was anxious to stand well with Pompey. Pompey accused Cato and Crassus of a conspiracy to murder him. In fact, as Cicero said, Pompey had just then no friend in any party. The mob was estranged from him, the noble lords hated him, the Senate did not like him, the patrician youth insulted him, and he was driven to bring up friends from the country to protect his life. All sides were mustering their forces in view of an impending fight.[13]

It would be wasted labor to trace minutely the particulars of so miserable a scene, or the motives of the principal actors in it—Pompey, bound to Caesar by engagement and conviction, yet jealous of his growing fame, without political conviction of his own, and only conscious that his weight in the State no longer corresponded to his own estimate of his merits—Clodius at the head of the starving mob, representing mere anarchy, and nourishing an implacable hate against Cicero—Cicero, anxious for his own safety, knowing now that he had made enemies of half the Senate, watching how the balance of factions would go, and dimly conscious that the sword would have to decide it, clinging, therefore, to Pompey, whose military abilities his civilian ignorance considered supereminent— Cato, a virtuous fanatic, narrow, passionate, with a vein of vanity, regarding all ways as wrong but his own, and thinking all men who would not walk as he prescribed wicked as well as mistaken—the rest of the aristocracy scuffling for the plunder of Egypt, or engaged in other enterprises not more creditable—the streets given over to the factions— the elections the alternate prize of bribery or violence, and consulates and praetorships falling to men more than half of whom, if Cicero can be but moderately believed, deserved to be crucified. Cicero's main affection was for Titus Annius Milo, to whom he clung as a woman will cling to a man whose strength she hopes will support her weakness. Milo, at least, would revenge his wrongs upon Clodius. Clodius, Cicero said even in the Senate, was Milo's predestined victim.[14] Titus Annius knew how an armed citizen who burnt temples and honest men's houses ought to be dealt with. Titus Annius was born to extinguish that pest of the Commonwealth.[15]

Still smarting over his exile, Cicero went one day with Milo and his gladiators to the Capitol when Clodius was absent, and carried off the brass tablet on which the decree of his exile had been engraved. It was some solace to his poor vanity to destroy the record of his misfortune. But it was in vain. All was going wrong. Caesar's growing glories came thick to trouble his peace. He, after all, then, was not to be the greatest man in Rome. How would these splendid successes affect parties? How would they affect Pompey? How would, they affect the Senate? What should he do himself?

The Senate distrusted him; the people distrusted him. In his perplexity he tried to rouse the aristocracy to a sense of their danger, and hinted that his was the name which yet might save them.

Sextius, who had been a tribune with Milo in the past year, was under prosecution for one of the innumerable acts of violence which had disgraced the city. Cicero defended him, and spoke at length on the state of affairs as he wished the world to believe that he regarded it.

"In the Commonwealth," he said, "there have always been two parties—the populares and the optimates. The populares say and do what will please the mob. The optimates say and do what will please the best men. And who are the best men? They are of all ranks and infinite in number—senators, municipals, farmers, men of business, even libertini. The type is distinct. They are the well-to-do, the sound, the honest, who do no wrong to any man. The object at which they aim is quiet with honor. [16] They are the conservatives of the State. Religion and good government, the Senate's authority, the laws and customs of our ancestors, public faith, integrity, sound administration—these are the principles on which they rest, and these they will maintain with their lives. Their path is perilous. The foes of the State are stronger than its defenders; they are bold and desperate, and go with a will to the work of destruction; while the good, I know not why, are languid, and will not rouse themselves unless compelled. They would have quiet without honor, and so lose both quiet and honor. Some are triflers, some are timid, only a few stand firm. But it is not now as it was in the days of the Gracchi. There have been great reforms. The people are conservative at heart; the demagogues cannot rouse them, and are forced to pack the Assembly with hired gangs. Take away these gangs, stop corruption at the elections, and we shall be all of one mind. The people will be on our side. The citizens of Rome are not populares. They hate the populares, and prefer honorable men. How did they weep in the theatres where they heard the news that I was exiled! How did they cheer my name! 'Tully, the preserver of our liberties!' was repeated a thousand times. Attend to me," he said, turning paternally to the high- born youths who were listening to him, "attend to me when I bid you walk in the ways of your forefathers. Would you have praise and honor, would you have the esteem of the wise and good, value the constitution under which you live. Our ancestors, impatient of kings, appointed annual magistrates, and for the administration they nominated a Senate chosen from the whole people into which the road is open for the poorest citizen." [17]

So Cicero, trying to persuade others, and perhaps half persuading himself, that all might yet be well, and that the Roman Constitution would roll on upon its old lines in the face of the scandal of Ptolemy and the greater scandals of Clodius and Milo.

Cicero might make speeches; but events followed their inexorable course. The patricians had forgotten nothing and had learnt nothing. The Senate had voted thanksgivings for Caesar's victories; but in their hearts they hated him more for them, because they feared him more. Milo and his gladiators gave them courage. The bitterest of the aristocrats, Domitius Ahenobarbus, Cato's brother-in-law and praetor for the year, was a candidate for the consulship. His enormous wealth made his success almost certain, and he announced in the Senate that he meant to recall Caesar and repeal his laws. In April a motion was introduced in the Senate to revise Caesar's land act. Suspicions had gone abroad that Cicero believed Caesar's star to be in the ascendant, and that he was again wavering. To clear himself he spoke as passionately as Domitius could himself have wished, and declared that he honored more the resistance of Bibulus than all the triumphs in the world. It was time to come to an end with these gentlemen. Pompey was deeply committed to Caesar's agrarian law, for it had been passed primarily to provide for his own disbanded soldiers. He was the only man in Rome who retained any real authority; and touched, as for a moment he might have been, with jealousy, he felt that honor, duty, every principle of prudence or patriotism, required him at so perilous a crisis to give Caesar his firm support. Clodius was made in some way to understand that, if he intended to retain his influence, he must conform to the wishes of the army. His brother, Appius, crossed the Alps to see Caesar himself; and Caesar, after the troops were in their winter quarters, came over to the north of Italy. Here an interview was arranged between the chiefs of the popular party. The place of meeting was Lucca, on the frontier of Caesar's province. Pompey, who had gone upon a tour along the coast and through the Mediterranean islands on his corn business, attended without concealment or mystery. Crassus was present, and more than a hundred senators. The talking power of the State was in Rome. The practical and real power was in the Lucca conference. Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus were irresistible when heartily united, and a complete scheme was arranged between them for the government of the Empire. There was to be no Domitius Ahenobarbus for a consul, or aristocratic coups d'etat. Pompey and Crassus were to be consuls for the ensuing year. The consulship over, Pompey was to have Spain for a province for five years, with an adequate army. Crassus, who was ambitious also of military distinction, was to have Syria. Caesar's command in Gaul was to be extended for five years further in addition to his present term. The consent of the Assembly was to be secured, if difficulty arose, by the votes of the army. The elections being in the winter, Caesar's soldiers were to be allowed to go to Rome on furlough.

In a personal interview Caesar easily asserted his ascendency. Pompey allowed himself to be guided, and the arrangement was probably dictated by Caesar's own prudence. He did not mean to leave Gaul half conquered, to see his work undone, and himself made into a plaything by men who had incited Ariovistus to destroy him. The senators who were present at Lucca implied by their co-operation that they too were weary of anarchy, and would sustain the army in a remodelling of the State if milder measures failed.

Thus, for the moment, Domitius and Cato were baffled. Domitius was not to be consul. Caesar was not to be recalled, or his laws repealed. There was no hope for them or for the reaction, till Pompey and Caesar could be divided; and their alliance was closer now than ever. The aristocratic party could but chafe in impotent rage. The effect on Cicero was curious. He had expected that the conservative movement would succeed, and he had humiliated himself before the Senate, in the idle hope of winning back their favor. The conference at Lucca opened his eyes. For a time at least he perceived that Caesar's was the winning side, and he excused himself for going over to it by laying the blame on the Senate's folly and ingratitude to himself. Some private correspondence preceded his change of sides. He consulted Atticus, and had received characteristic and cautious advice from him. He described in reply his internal struggles, the resolution at which he had arrived, and the conclusion which he had formed upon his own past conduct.

"I am chewing what I have to swallow," he said. "Recantation does not seem very creditable; but adieu to straightforward, honest counsels. You would not believe the perfidy of these chiefs; as they wish to be, and what they might be if they had any faith in them. I had felt, I had known, that I was being led on by them, and then deserted and cast off; and yet I thought of making common cause with them. They were the same which they had always been. You made me see the truth at last. You will say you warned me. You advised what I should do, and you told me not to write to Caesar. By Hercules! I wished to put myself in a position where I should be obliged to enter into this new coalition, and where it would not be possible for me, even if I desired it, to go with those who ought to pity me, and, instead of pity, give me grudging and envy. I have been moderate in what I have written. I shall be more full if Caesar meets me graciously; and then those gentlemen who are so jealous that I should have a decent house to live in will make a wry face.... Enough of this. Since those who have no power will not be my friends, I must endeavor to make friends with those who have. You will say you wished this long ago. I know that you wished it, and that I have been a mere ass;[18] but it is time for me to be loved by myself, since I can get no love from them." [19]

Pompey, after leaving Lucca, sent Cicero a message, through his brother, complaining of his speech on the land act, but assuring him of his own and Caesar's friendship if he would now be true to them. In an apologetic letter to Lentulus Spinther, Cicero explained and justified what he meant to do.

"Pompey," he said, "did not let me know that he was offended. He went off to Sardinia, and on his way saw Caesar at Lucca. Caesar was angry with me; he had seen Crassus, and Crassus had prejudiced him. Pompey, too, was himself displeased. He met my brother a few days after, and told him to use his influence with me. He reminded him of his exertions in my behalf; he swore that those exertions had been made with Caesar's consent, and he begged particularly that, if I could not support Caesar, I would not go against him. I reflected. I debated the matter as if with the Commonwealth. I had suffered much and done much for the Commonwealth. I had now to think of myself. I had been a good citizen; I must now be a good man. Expressions came round to me that had been used by certain persons whom even you do not like. They were delighted to think that I had offended Pompey, and had made Caesar my mortal enemy. This was annoying enough. But the same persons embraced and kissed even in my presence my worst foe—the foe of law, order, peace, country, and every good man [20].... They meant to irritate me, but I had not spirit to be angry. I surveyed my situation. I cast up my accounts; and I came to a conclusion, which was briefly this. If the State was in the hands of bad men, as in my time I have known it to be, I would not join them though they loaded me with favors; but when the first person in the Commonwealth was Pompey, whose services had been so eminent, whose advancement I had myself furthered, and who stood by me in my difficulties, I was not inconsistent if I modified some of my opinions, and conformed to the wishes of one who has deserved so well of me. If I went with Pompey, I must go with Caesar too; and here the old friendship came to bear between Caesar, my brother, and myself, as well as Caesar's kindness to me, of which I had seen evidence in word and deed.... Public interest, too, moved me. A quarrel with these men would be most inexpedient, especially after what Caesar has done.... If the persons who assisted in bringing me back had been my friends afterward, they would have recovered their power when they had me to help them. The 'good' had gained heart when you were consul. Pompey was then won to the 'good' cause. Even Caesar, after being decorated by the Senate for his victories, might have been brought to a better judgment, and wicked citizens would have had no opening to make disturbances. But what happened? These very men protected Clodius, who cared no more for the Bona Dea than for the Three Sisters. They allowed my monument to be engraved with a hostile record....[21] The good party are not as you left them. Those who ought to have been staunch have fallen away. You see it in their faces. You see it in the words and votes of those whom we called 'optimates;' so that wise citizens, one of whom I wish to be and to be thought, must change their course. 'Persuade your countrymen, if you can,' said Plato; 'but use no violence.' Plato found that he could no longer persuade the Athenians, and therefore he withdrew from public life. Advice could not move them, and he held force to be unlawful. My case was different. I was not called on to undertake public responsibilities. I was content to further my own interests, and to defend honest men's causes. Caesar's goodness to me and to my brother would have bound me to him whatever had been his fortunes. Now after so much glory and victory I should speak nobly of him though I owed him nothing." [22]

Happy it would have been for Cicero, and happy for Rome, had he persevered in the course which he now seemed really to have chosen. Cicero and Caesar united might have restored the authority of the laws, punished corruption and misgovernment, made their country the mother as well as the mistress of the world; and the Republic, modified to suit the change of times, might have survived for many generations. But under such a modification, Cicero would have no longer been the first person in the Commonwealth. The talkers would have ceased to rule, and Cicero was a talker only. He could not bear to be subordinate. He was persuaded that he, and not Caesar, was the world's real great man; and so he held on, leaning now to one faction and now to another, waiting for the chance which was to put him at last in his true place. For the moment, however, he saved himself from the degradation into which the Senate precipitated itself. The arrangements at Lucca were the work of the army. The conservative majority refused to let the army dictate to them. Domitius intended still to be consul, let the army say what it pleased. Pompey and Crassus returned to Rome for the elections; the consuls for the year, Marcellinus and Philip, declined to take their names. The consuls and the Senate appealed to the Assembly, the Senate marching into the Forum in state, as if calling on the genius of the nation to defend the outraged constitution. In vain. The people would not listen. The consuls were groaned down. No genius of Rome presided in those meetings, but the genius of revolution in the person of Clodius. The senators were driven back into the Curia, and Clodius followed them there. The officers forbade his entrance. Furious young aristocrats flew upon him, seized him, and would have murdered him in their rage. Clodius shrieked for help. His rascal followers rushed in with lighted torches, swearing to burn house and Senate if a hair of Clodius's head were hurt. They bore their idol off in triumph; and the wretched senators sat gazing at each other, or storming at Pompey, and inquiring scornfully if he and Crassus intended to appoint themselves consuls. Pompey answered that they had no desire for office, but anarchy must be brought to an end.

Still the consuls of the year stubbornly refused to take the names of the Lucca nominees. The year ran out, and no election had been held. In such a difficulty, the constitution had provided for the appointment of an Interrex till fresh consuls could be chosen. Pompey and Crassus were then nominated, with a foregone conclusion. Domitius still persisted in standing; and, had it been safe to try the usual methods, the patricians would have occupied the voting-places as before with their retinues, and returned him by force. But young Publius Crassus was in Rome with thousands of Caesar's soldiers, who had come up to vote from the north of Italy. With these it was not safe to venture on a conflict, and the consulships fell as the Lucca conference had ordered.

[Sidenote: B.C. 55.] The consent of the Assembly to the other arrangements remained to be obtained. Caesar was to have five additional years in Gaul; Pompey and Crassus were to have Spain and Syria, also for five years each, as soon as their year of office should be over. The defenders of the constitution fought to the last. Cato foamed on the Rostra. When the two hours allowed him to speak were expired, he refused to sit down, and was removed by a guard. The meeting was adjourned to the next day. Publius Gallus, another irreconcilable, passed the night in the senate-house, that he might be in his place at dawn. Cato and Favonius were again at their posts. The familiar cry was raised that the signs of the sky were unfavorable. The excuse had ceased to be legal. The tribunes ordered the voting to go forward. The last resource was then tried. A riot began, but to no purpose. The aristocrats and their clients were beaten back, and the several commands were ratified. As the people were dispersing, their opponents rallied back, filled the Forum, and were voting Caesar's recall, when Pompey came on them and swept them out. Gallus was carried off covered with blood; and, to prevent further question, the vote for Caesar was taken a second time.

The immediate future was thus assured. Time had been obtained for the completion of the work in Gaul. Pompey dedicated a new theatre, and delighted the mob with games and races. Five hundred lions were consumed in five days of combat. As a special novelty eighteen elephants were made to fight with soldiers; and, as a yet more extraordinary phenomenon, the sanguinary Roman spectators showed signs of compunction at their sufferings. The poor beasts were quiet and harmless. When wounded with the lances, they turned away, threw up their trunks, and trotted round the circus, crying, as if in protest against wanton cruelty. The story went that they were half human; that they had been seduced on board the African transports by a promise that they should not be ill-used, and they were supposed to be appealing to the gods.[23]Cicero alludes to the scene in a letter to one of his friends. Mentioning Pompey's exhibitions with evident contempt, he adds: "There remained the hunts, which lasted five days. All say that they were very fine. But what pleasure can a sensible person find in seeing a clumsy performer torn by a wild beast, or a noble animal pierced with a hunting-spear? The last day was given to the elephants; not interesting to me, however delightful to the rabble. A certain pity was felt for them, as if the elephants had some affinity with man." [24]

[1] To Atticus, ii. 16.

[2] "Conservatores Reipublicae."—Pro Sextio.

[3] Mommsen.

[4] "Omnia sunt mea culpa commissa, qui ab his me amari putabam qui invidebant: eos non sequebar qui petebant."—Ad Familiares, xiv. 1. "Nullum est meum peccatum nisi quod iis credidi a quibus nefas putabam esse me decipi.... Intimus proximus familiarissimus quisque aut sibi pertimuit aut mihi invidit."—Ad Quintum Fratrem, i. 4.

[5] "Meministis tum, judices, corporibus civium Tiberim compleri, cloacas referciri, e foro spongiis effingi sanguinem.... Caedem tantam, tantos acervos corporum extruetos, nisi forte illo Cinnano atque Octaviano die, quis unquam in foro vidit?"—Oratio prov P. Sextio, xxxv. 36.

[6] Ad Quirites post Reditum.

[7] "Ejus vir Catilina."

[8] "Cum in Circo Flaminio non a tribuno plebis consul in concionem sed a latrone archipirata productus esset, primum processit qua auctoritate vir. Vini, somni, stupri plenus, madenti coma, gravibus oculis, fluentibus buccis, pressa voce et temulenta, quod in cives indemnatos esset animadversum, id sibi dixit gravis auctor vehementissime displicere."—Post Reditum in Senatu, 6.

[9] Cicero could never leave Gabinius and Piso alone. Again and again he returned upon them railing like a fishwife. In his oration for Sextius he scoffed at Gabinius's pomatum and curled hair, and taunted him with unmentionable sins; but he specially entertained himself with his description of Piso:

"For Piso!" he said: "O gods, how unwashed, how stern he looked—a pillar of antiquity, like one of the old bearded consuls; his dress plain plebeian purple, his hair tangled, his brow a very pledge for the Commonwealth! Such solemnity in his eye, such wrinkling of his forehead, that you would have said the State was resting on his head like the sky on Atlas. Here we thought we had a refuge. Here was the man to oppose the filth of Gabinius; his very face would be enough. People congratulated us on having one friend to save us from the tribune. Alas! I was deceived," etc. etc.

Piso afterward called Cicero to account in the Senate, and brought out a still more choice explosion of invectives. Beast, filth, polluted monster, and such like, were the lightest of the names which Cicero hurled back at one of the oldest members of the Roman aristocracy. A single specimen may serve to illustrate the cataract of nastiness which he poured alike on Piso and Clodius and Gabinius: "When all the good were hiding themselves in tears," he said to Piso, "when the temples were groaning and the very houses in the city were mourning (over my exile), you, heartless madman that you are, took up the cause of that pernicious animal, that clotted mass of incests and civil blood, of villanies intended and impurity of crimes committed[he was alluding to Clodius, who was in the Senate probably listening to him]. Need I speak of your feasting, your laughter, and handshakings—your drunken orgies with the filthy companions of your potations? Who in those days saw you ever sober, or doing anything that a citizen need not be ashamed of? While your colleague's house was sounding with songs and cymbals, and he himself was dancing naked at a supper-party ["cumque ipse nudus in convivio saltaret,"] you, you coarse glutton, with less taste for music, were lying in a stew of Greek boys and wine in a feast of the Centaurs and Lapithae, where one cannot say whether you drank most, or vomited most, or spilt most."—In L. Pisonem,10. The manners of the times do not excuse language of this kind, for there was probably not another member of the Senate who indulged in it. If Cicero was disliked and despised, he had his own tongue to thank for it.

[10] To Atticus, iv. 2.

[11] To Atticus, iv. 3.

[12] For the details of this story see Dion Cassius, lib. xxxix. capp. 12-16. Compare Cicero ad Familiares, lib. i. Epist. 1-2. Curious subterranean influences seem to have been at work to save the Senate from the infamy of restoring Ptolemy. Verses were discovered in the Sibylline Books directing that if an Egyptian king came to Rome as a suppliant, he was to be entertained hospitably, but was to have no active help. Perhaps Cicero was concerned in this.

[13] Ad Quintum Fratrem, ii. 3.

[14] "Tito Annio devota et constituta hostia esse videtur."—De Haruspicum responsis.

[15] Ibid.

[16] "Otium cum dignitate."

[17] Abridged from the Oratio pro Sextio.

[18] "Me germanum asinum fuisse." Perhaps "own brother to an ass" would be a more proper rendering.

[19] To Atticus, iv. 5.

[20] Clodius.

[21] Here follows much about himself and his own merits.

[22] To Lentulus Spinther, Ad Familiares, i. 9. The length of this remarkable letter obliges me to give but an imperfect summary of it. The letter itself should be studied carefully by those who would understand Cicero's conduct.

[23] Dion Cassius.

[24] Ad Familiares, vii. 1.



CHAPTER XVI.

[Sidenote: B.C. 56.] While Caesar was struggling with the Senate for leave to complete the conquest of Gaul, fresh work was preparing for him there. Young Publius Crassus, before he went to Italy, had wintered with the seventh legion in Brittany. The Breton tribes had nominally made their submission, and Crassus had desired them to supply his commissariat. They had given hostages for their good behavior, and most of them were ready to obey. The Veneti, the most important of the coast clans, refused. They induced the rest to join them. They seized the Roman officers whom Crassus had sent among them, and they then offered to exchange their prisoners for their countrymen whom the Romans held in pledge. The legions might be irresistible on land; but the Veneti believed that their position was impregnable to an attack on the land side. Their homes were on the Bay of Quiberon and on the creeks and estuaries between the mouth of the Loire and Brest. Their villages were built on promontories, cut off at high tide from the mainland, approachable only by water, and not by water except in shallow vessels of small draught which could be grounded safely on the mud. The population were sailors and fishermen. They were ingenious and industrious, and they carried on a considerable trade in the Bay of Biscay and in the British Channel. They had ships capable of facing the heavy seas which rolled in from the Atlantic, flat-bottomed, with high bow and stern, built solidly of oak, with timbers a foot thick, fastened with large iron nails. They had iron chains for cables. Their sails—either because sailcloth was scarce, or because they thought canvas too weak for the strain of the winter storms—were manufactured out of leather. Such vessels were unwieldy, but had been found available for voyages even to Britain. Their crews were accustomed to handle them, and knew all the rocks and shoals and currents of the intricate and difficult harbors. They looked on the Romans as mere landsmen, and naturally enough they supposed that they had as little to fear from an attack by water as from the shore. At the worst they could take to their ships and find a refuge in the islands.

Crassus, when he went to Rome, carried the report to Caesar of the revolt of the Veneti, and Caesar felt that unless they were promptly punished, all Gaul might be again in flame. They had broken faith. They had imprisoned Roman officers who had gone on a peaceful mission among them. It was necessary to teach a people so restless, so hardly conquered, and so impatient of foreign dominion, that there was no situation which the Roman arm was unable to reach.

While the Lucca conference was going on, a fleet of Roman galleys was built by his order in the Loire. Rowers, seamen, and pilots were brought across from Marseilles. When the season was sufficiently advanced for active operations, Caesar came himself and rejoined his army. Titus Labienus was sent with three legions to Treves to check the Germans on the Rhine, and prevent disturbances among the Belgae. Titurius Sabinus, with three more, was stationed in Normandy. To Brittany Caesar went in person to reduce the rebellious Veneti. The weather was too unsettled for his fleet to be able as yet to join him. Without its help he found the problem as difficult as the Veneti expected. Each village required a siege; when it was reduced, the inhabitants took to their boats, and defied him again in a new position. Many weeks were thus fruitlessly wasted. The fine weather at length set in. The galleys from the Loire came out, accompanied by others from Rochelle and the mouth of the Garonne. The command at sea was given to Decimus Brutus, a cousin of the afterward famous Marcus, a clever, able, and so far loyal officer.

The Veneti had collected every ship that they or their allies possessed to defend themselves. They had 220 sail in all—a force, considering its character, extremely formidable. Their vessels were too strong to be run down. The galleys carried turrets; but the bows and sterns of the Veneti were still too lofty to be reached effectively by the Roman javelins. The Romans had the advantage in speed; but that was all. They too, however, had their ingenuities. They had studied the construction of the Breton ships. They had provided sickles with long handles, with which they proposed to catch the halyards which held the weight of the heavy leather sails. It was not difficult to do, if, as is probable, the halyards were made fast, not to the mast, but to the gunwale. Sweeping rapidly alongside they could easily cut them; the sails would fall, and the vessels would be unmanageable.

A sea battle of this singular kind was thus fought off the eastern promontory of the Bay of Quiberon, Caesar and his army looking on from the shore. The sickles answered well; ship after ship was disabled; the galleys closed with them, and they were taken by boarding. The Veneti then tried to retreat; but a calm came on, and they could not move. The fight lasted from ten in the morning till sunset, when the entire Breton fleet was taken or sunk.

After this defeat the Veneti gave up the struggle. Their ships were all gone. Their best men were on board, and had been killed. They had no power of resistance left. Caesar was constitutionally lenient, and admired rather than resented a valiant fight for freedom. But the Veneti had been treacherous. They had laid hands on the sacred persons of Roman ambassadors, and he considered it expedient on this one occasion to use severity. The council who had contrived the insurrection were put to death. The rest of the tribe were treated as the Aduatuci had been, and were sold into slavery.

Sabinus, meanwhile, had been in difficulties in Normandy. The people there had risen and killed their chiefs, who tried to keep them quiet; vagabonds from other parts had joined them, and Sabinus, who wanted enterprise, allowed the disturbances to become dangerous. He ended them at last, however, successfully, and Caesar would not allow his caution to be blamed. During the same months, Publius Crassus had made a brilliant campaign in Aquitaine. The Aquitani had not long before overthrown two Roman armies. Determined not to submit to Caesar, they had allied themselves with the Spaniards of the Pyrenees, and had officers among them who had been trained by Sertorius. Crassus stormed their camp with a skill and courage which called out Caesar's highest approbation, and completely subdued the whole country.

In all France there now remained only a few unimportant tribes on the coast between Calais and the Scheldt which had not formally submitted. The summer being nearly over, Caesar contented himself with a hasty survey of their frontier. The weather broke up earlier than usual, and the troops were redistributed in their quarters. Again there had been a year of unbroken success. The Romans were masters of Gaul, and the admirable care of their commander had preserved the numbers in his legions almost undiminished. The smallness of the loss with which all these wonders were accomplished is perhaps the most extraordinary feature of the story. Not till a year later is there any notice of fresh recruits being brought from Italy.

The winter which followed brought with it another of the dangerous waves of German immigration. The powerful Suevi, a nation of warriors who cultivated no lands, who wore no clothes but a deer or sheep skin, who lived by hunting and pasture, despised the restraints of stationary life, and roved at pleasure into their neighbors' territories, were pressing on the weaker tribes and forcing them down into the Low Countries. The Belgians, hoping for their help against the Romans, had invited these tribes over the Rhine; and, untaught by the fate of Ariovistus, they were crossing over and collecting in enormous numbers above the junction of the Rhine and the Meuse. Into a half-peopled country, large portions of which are lying waste, it might be barbarous to forbid an immigration of harmless and persecuted strangers; but if these Germans were persecuted, they were certainly not harmless; they had come at the instance of the party in Gaul which was determined to resist the Roman conquest, and unless the conquest was to be abandoned, necessity required that the immigration must be prohibited. When the advance of spring allowed the troops to move, Caesar called a council of Gallic chiefs. He said nothing of the information which had reached him respecting their correspondence with these new invaders, but with his usual swiftness of decision he made up his mind to act without waiting for disaffection to show itself. He advanced at once to the Ardennes, where he was met by envoys from the German camp. They said that they had been expelled from their country, and had come to Gaul in search of a home; they did not wish to quarrel with the Romans; if Caesar would protect them and give them lands, they promised to be useful to him; if he refused their alliance, they declared that they would defend themselves. They had fled before the Sueves, for the Sueves were the first nation in the world; the immortal gods were not a match for the Sueves; but they were afraid of no one else, and Caesar might choose whether he would have them for friends or foes.

Caesar replied that they must not stay in Gaul. There were no unoccupied lands in Gaul which could receive so vast a multitude. The Ubii[1] on their own side of the Rhine were allies of the Romans; the Ubii, he was willing to undertake, would provide for them; meanwhile they must go back; he would listen to no other conditions. The envoys departed with their answer, begging Caesar to advance no farther till he had again heard from them. This could not be granted. The interval would be employed in communicating with the Gauls. Caesar pushed on, crossed the Meuse at Maestricht, and descended the river to Venloo, where he was but twelve miles distant from the German head-quarters. Again messengers came, asking for time—time, at least, till they could learn whether the Ubii would receive them. If the Ubii were favorable, they said that they were ready to go; but they could not decide without a knowledge of what was to become of them. They asked for a respite, if only for three days.

Three days meant only leisure to collect their scattered detachments, that they might make a better fight. Caesar gave them twenty-four hours.

The two armies were so near that their front lines were in sight of each other. Caesar had given orders to his officers not to meddle with the Germans. But the Germans, being undisciplined and hot-blooded, were less easy to be restrained. A large body of them flung themselves on the Roman advanced guard, and drove it in with considerable loss; seventy-four Roman knights fell, and two Aquitanian noblemen, brothers, serving under Caesar, were killed in defending each other.

Caesar was not sorry for an excuse to refuse further parley. The Germans were now scattered. In a day or two they would be united again. He knew the effect which would be produced on the restless minds of the Gauls by the news of a reverse however slight; and if he delayed longer, he feared that the country might be on fire in his rear. On the morning which followed the first action, the principal German chiefs appeared to apologize and to ask for a truce. They had come in of their own accord. They had not applied for a safe conduct, and war had been begun by their own people. They were detained as prisoners; and, marching rapidly over the short space which divided the camps, Caesar flung himself on the unfortunate people when they were entirely unprepared for the attack. Their chiefs were gone. They were lying about in confusion beside their wagons, women and children dispersed among the men; hundreds of thousands of human creatures, ignorant where to turn for orders, and uncertain whether to fight or fly. In this condition the legions burst in on them, furious at what they called the treachery of the previous day, and merciless in their vengeance. The poor Germans stood bravely defending themselves as they could; but the sight of their women flying in shrieking crowds, pursued by the Roman horse, was too much for them, and the whole host were soon rushing in despairing wreck down the narrowing isthmus between the Meuse and the Rhine. They came to the junction at last, and then they could go no further. Multitudes were slaughtered; multitudes threw themselves into the water and were drowned. Caesar, who was not given to exaggeration, says that their original number was 430,000. The only survivors, of whom any clear record remains, were the detachments who were absent from the battle, and the few chiefs who had come into Caesar's camp and continued with him at their own request from fear of being murdered by the Gauls.

This affair was much spoken of at the time, as well it might be. Questions were raised upon it in the Senate. Cato insisted that Caesar had massacred a defenceless people in a time of truce, that he had broken the law of nations, and that he ought to be given up to the Germans. The sweeping off the earth in such a manner of a quarter of a million human creatures, even in those unscrupulous times, could not be heard of without a shudder. The irritation in the Senate can hardly be taken as disinterested. Men who had intrigued with Ariovistus for Caesar's destruction, needed not to be credited with feelings of pure humanity when they made the most of the opportunity. But an opportunity had undoubtedly been offered them. The rights of war have their limits. No living man in ordinary circumstances recognized those limits more than Caesar did. No commander was more habitually merciful in victory. In this case the limits had been ruthlessly exceeded. The Germans were not indeed defending their own country; they were the invaders of another; but they were a fine brave race, overtaken by fate when doing no more than their forefathers had done for unknown generations. The excuse for their extermination was simply this: that Caesar had undertaken the conquest of Gaul for the defence of Italy. A powerful party among the Gauls themselves were content to be annexed to the Roman Empire. The patriots looked to the Germans to help them in driving out the Romans. The Germanizing of Gaul would lead with certainty to fresh invasions of Italy; and it seemed permissible, and even necessary, to put a stop to these immigrations once for all, and to show Gauls and Germans equally that they were not to be.

It was not enough to have driven the Germans out of Gaul. Caesar respected their character. He admired their abstinence from wine, their courage, their frugal habits, and their pure morality. But their virtues made them only more dangerous; and he desired to show them that the Roman arm was long and could reach them even in their own homes. Parties of the late invaders had returned over the Rhine, and were protected by the Sigambri in Westphalia. Caesar had demanded their surrender, and the Sigambri had answered that Roman authority did not reach across the river; if Caesar forbade Germans to cross into Gaul, the Germans would not allow the Romans to dictate to them in their own country. The Ubii were growing anxious. They were threatened by the Sueves for deserting the national cause. They begged Caesar to show himself among them, though his stay might be but short, as a proof that he had power and will to protect them; and they offered him boats and barges to carry his army over. Caesar decided to go, but to go with more ostentation. The object was to impress the German imagination; and boats and barges which might not always be obtainable would, if they seemed essential, diminish the effect. The legions were skilled workmen, able to turn their hand to anything. He determined to make a bridge, and he chose Bonn for the site of it. The river was broad, deep, and rapid. The materials were still standing in the forest; yet in ten days from the first stroke that was delivered by an axe, a bridge had been made standing firmly on rows of piles with a road over it forty feet wide. A strong guard was left at each end. Caesar marched across with the legions, and from all sides deputations from the astonished people poured in to beg for peace. The Sigambri had fled to their woods. The Suevi fell back into the Thuringian forests. He burnt the villages of the Sigambri, to leave the print of his presence. He paid the Ubii a long visit; and after remaining eighteen days beyond the river, he considered that his purpose had been gained, and he returned to Gaul, destroying the bridge behind him.

It was now about the beginning of August. A few weeks only of possible fine weather remained. Gaul was quiet, not a tribe was stirring. The people were stunned by Caesar's extraordinary performances. West of the channel which washed the shores of the Belgae lay an island where the enemies of Rome had found shelter, and from which help had been sent to the rebellious Bretons. Caesar, the most skilful and prudent of generals, was yet adventurous as a knight-errant. There was still time for a short expedition into Britain. As yet nothing was known of that country, save the white cliffs which could be seen from Calais; Roman merchants occasionally touched there, but they had never ventured into the interior; they could give no information as to the size of the island, the qualities of the harbors, the character or habits of the inhabitants. Complete ignorance of such near neighbors was undesirable and inconvenient; and Caesar wished to look at them with his own eyes. The fleet which had been used in the war with the Veneti was sent round into the channel. He directed Caius Volusenus, an officer whom he could trust, to take a galley and make a survey of the opposite coast, and he himself followed to Boulogne, where his vessels were waiting for him. The gathering of the flotilla and its object had been reported to Britain, and envoys from various tribes were waiting there with offers of hostages and humble protestations. Caesar received them graciously, and sent back with them a Gaul, named Commius, whom he had made chief of the Atrebates, to tell the people that he was coming over as a friend, and that they had nothing to fear.

Volusenus returned after five days' absence, having been unable to gather anything of importance. The ships which had come in were able only to take across two legions, probably at less than their full complement—or at most ten thousand men; but for Caesar's present purpose these were sufficient. Leaving Sabinus and Cotta in charge of the rest of the army, he sailed on a calm evening, and was off Dover in the morning. The cliffs were lined with painted warriors, and hung so close over the water that if he attempted to land there stones and lances could reach the boats from the edge of the precipice. He called his officers about him while his fleet collected, and said a few encouraging words to them; he then moved up the coast with the tide, apparently as far as Walmer or Deal. Here the beach was open and the water deep near the land. The Britons had followed by the brow of the cliff, scrambling along with their cars and horses. The shore was covered with them, and they evidently meant to fight. The transports anchored where the water was still up to the men's shoulders. They were encumbered with their arms, and did not like the look of what was before them. Seeing them hesitate, Caesar sent his armed galleys filled with archers and crossbow-men to clear the approach; and as the legionaries still hesitated, an officer who carried the eagle of the 10th leapt into the sea and bade his comrades follow if they wished to save their standard. They sprang overboard with a general cheer. The Britons rode their horses into the waves to meet them; and for a few minutes the Romans could make no progress. Boats came to their help, which kept back the most active of their opponents, and once on land they were in their own element. The Britons galloped off, and Caesar had no cavalry.

A camp was then formed. Some of the ships were left at anchor, others were brought on shore, and were hauled up to the usual high-water mark. Commius came in with deputations, and peace was satisfactorily arranged. All went well till the fourth day, when the full moon brought the spring tide, of which the Romans had no experience and had not provided for it. Heavy weather came up along with it. The galleys on the beach were floated off; the transports at anchor parted their cables; some were driven on shore, some out into the channel. Caesar was in real anxiety. He had no means of procuring a second fleet. He had made no preparations for wintering in Britain. The legions had come light, without tents or baggage, as he meant to stay no longer than he had done in Germany, two or three weeks at most. Skill and energy repaired the damage. The vessels which had gone astray were recovered. Those which were least injured were repaired with the materials of the rest. Twelve only were lost, the others were made seaworthy.

The Britons, as Caesar expected, had taken heart at the disaster. They broke their agreement, and fell upon his outposts. Seeing the small number of Romans, they collected in force, in the hope that if they could destroy the first comers no more such unwelcome visitors would ever arrive to trouble them. A sharp action taught them their mistake; and after many of the poor creatures had been killed, they brought in hostages, and again begged for peace. The equinox was now coming on. The weather was again threatening. Postponing, therefore, further inquiries into the nature of the British and their country, Caesar used the first favorable opportunity, and returned, without further adventure, to Boulogne. The legions were distributed among the Belgae; and Caesar himself, who could have no rest, hastened over the Alps, to deal with other disturbances which had broken out in Illyria.

[Sidenote: B.C. 54.] The bridge over the Rhine and the invasion of a country so remote that it was scarcely believed to exist, roused the enthusiasm at Rome beyond the point which it had hitherto reached. The Roman populace was accustomed to victories, but these were portents like the achievements of the old demigods. The humbled Senate voted twenty days of thanksgiving; and faction, controlled by Pompey, was obliged to be silent.

The Illyrian troubles were composed without fighting, and the interval of winter was spent in preparations for a renewal of the expedition into Britain on a larger scale. Orders had been left with the officers in command to prepare as many transports as the time would allow, broader and lower in the side for greater convenience in loading and unloading. In April, Caesar returned. He visited the different stations, and he found that his expert legionaries, working incessantly, had built six hundred transports and twenty-eight armed galleys. All these were finished and ready to be launched. He directed that they should collect at Boulogne as before; and in the interval he paid a visit to the north of Gaul, where there were rumors of fresh correspondence with the Germans. Danger, if danger there was, was threatened by the Treveri, a powerful tribe still unbroken on the Moselle. Caesar, however, had contrived to attach the leading chiefs to the Roman interest. He found nothing to alarm him, and once more went down to the sea. In his first venture he had been embarrassed by want of cavalry. He was by this time personally acquainted with the most influential of the Gallic nobles. He had requested them to attend him into Britain with their mounted retinues, both for service in the field, and that he might keep these restless chiefs under his eye. Among the rest he had not overlooked the Aeduan prince, Dumnorix, whose intrigues had brought the Helvetii out of Switzerland, and whose treachery had created difficulty and nearly disaster in the first campaign. Dumnorix had not forgotten his ambition. He had affected penitence, and he had been treated with kindness. He had availed himself of the favor which had been shown to him to pretend to his countrymen that Caesar had promised him the chieftainship. He had petitioned earnestly to be excused from accompanying the expedition, and, Caesar having for this reason probably the more insisted upon it, he had persuaded the other chiefs that Caesar meant to destroy them, and that if they went to Britain they would never return. These whisperings were reported to Caesar. Dumnorix had come to Boulogne with the rest, and he ordered him to be watched. A long westerly wind had prevented Caesar from embarking as soon as he had wished. The weather changed at last, and the troops were ordered on board. Dumnorix slipped away in the confusion with a party of Aeduan horse, and it was now certain that he had sinister intentions. The embarkation was suspended. A detachment of cavalry was sent in pursuit, with directions to bring Dumnorix back dead or alive. Dumnorix resisted, and was killed.

No disturbance followed on his death. The remaining chiefs were loyal, or wished to appear loyal, and further delay was unnecessary. Labienus, whom Caesar thoroughly trusted, remained behind with three legions and two thousand horse to watch over Gaul; and on a fine summer evening, with a light air from the south, Caesar sailed at sunset on the 20th of July. He had five legions with him. He had as many cavalry as he had left with Labienus. His flotilla, swollen by volunteers, amounted to eight hundred vessels, small and great. At sunrise they were in midchannel, lying in a dead calm, with the cliffs of Britain plainly visible on their left hand. The tide was flowing. Oars were out; the legionaries worked with such enthusiasm that the transports kept abreast of the war-galleys. At noon they had reached the beach at Deal, where this time they found no enemy to oppose their landing; the Britons had been terrified at the multitude of ships and boats in which the power of Rome was descending on them, and had fled into the interior. The water was smooth, the disembarkation easy. A camp was drawn out and intrenched, and six thousand men, with a few hundred horse, were told off to guard it. The fleet was left riding quietly at anchor, the pilots ignorant of the meaning of the treacherous southern air which had been so welcome to them; and Caesar advanced inland as far as the Stour. The Britons, after an unsuccessful stand to prevent the Romans from crossing the river, retired into the woods, where they had made themselves a fortress with felled trees. The weak defence was easily stormed; the Britons were flying; the Romans were preparing to follow; when an express came from Deal to tell Caesar that a gale had risen again and the fleet was lying wrecked upon the shore. A second accident of the same kind might have seemed an omen of evil, but Caesar did not believe in omens. The even temperament of his mind was never discomposed, and at each moment he was able always to decide, and to do, what the moment required. The army was halted. He rode back himself to the camp, to find that forty of his vessels only were entirely ruined. The rest were injured, but not irreparably. They were hauled up within the lines of the camp. He selected the best mechanics out of the legions; he sent across to Labienus for more, and directed him to build fresh transports in the yards at Boulogne. The men worked night and day, and in little more than a week Caesar was able to rejoin his troops and renew his march.

The object of the invasion had been rather to secure the quiet of Gaul than the annexation of new subjects and further territory. But it could not be obtained till the Romans had measured themselves against the Britons, and had asserted their military superiority. The Britons had already shown themselves a fearless race, who could not be despised. They fought bravely from their cars and horses, retreated rapidly when overmatched, and were found dangerous when pursued. Encouraged by the report of the disaster to the fleet, Cassibelaunus, chief of the Cassi, whose head-quarters were at St. Albans, had collected a considerable army from both sides of the Thames, and was found in strength in Caesar's front when he again began to move. They attacked his foraging parties. They set on his flanking detachments. They left their cars, and fought on foot when they could catch an advantage; and remounted and were swiftly out of the reach of the heavily armed Roman infantry. The Gaulish horse pursued, but did not know the country, and suffered more harm than they inflicted. Thus the British gave Caesar considerable trouble, which he recorded to their credit. Not a word can be found in his Commentaries to the disparagement of brave and open adversaries. At length he forced them into a battle, where their best warriors were killed. The confederacy of tribes dissolved and never rallied again, and he pursued his march thenceforward with little molestation. He crossed the Medway, and reached the Thames seemingly at Sunbury. There was a ford there, but the river was still deep, the ground was staked, and Cassibelaunus with his own people was on the other side. The legions, however, paid small attention to Cassibelaunus; they plunged through with the water at their necks. The Britons dispersed, driving off their cattle, and watching his march from a distance. The tribes from the eastern counties made their submission, and at Caesar's orders supplied him with corn. Caesar marched on to St. Albans itself, then lying in the midst of forests and marshes, where the cattle, the Cassi's only wealth, had been collected for security. St. Albans and the cattle were taken; Cassibelaunus sued for peace; the days were drawing in; and Caesar, having no intention of wintering in Britain, considered he had done enough and need go no farther. He returned as he had come. The Kentish men had attacked the camp in his absence, but had been beaten off with heavy loss. The Romans had sallied out upon them, killed as many as they could catch, and taken one of their chiefs. Thenceforward they had been left in quiet. A nominal tribute, which was never paid, was assigned to the tribes who had submitted. The fleet was in order, and all was ready for departure. The only, but unhappily too valuable, booty which they had carried off consisted of some thousands of prisoners. These, when landed in Gaul, were disposed of to contractors, to be carried to Italy and sold as slaves. Two trips were required to transport the increased numbers; but the passage was accomplished without accident, and the whole army was again at Boulogne.

Thus ended the expedition into Britain. It had been undertaken rather for effect than for material advantage; and everything which had been aimed at had been gained. The Gauls looked no more across the Channel for support of insurrections; the Romans talked with admiration for a century of the far land to which Caesar had borne the eagles; and no exploit gave him more fame with his contemporaries. Nor was it without use to have solved a geographical problem, and to have discovered with certainty what the country was, the white cliffs of which were visible from the shores which were now Roman territory. Caesar during his stay in Britain had acquired a fairly accurate notion of it. He knew that it was an island, and he knew its dimensions and shape. He knew that Ireland lay to the west of it, and Ireland, he had been told, was about half its size. He had heard of the Isle of Man, and how it was situated. To the extreme north above Britain he had ascertained that there were other islands, where in winter the sun scarcely rose above the horizon; and he had observed through accurate measurement by water-clocks that the midsummer nights in Britain were shorter than in the south of France and Italy. He had inquired into the natural products of the country. There were tin mines, he found, in parts of the island, and iron in small quantities; but copper was imported from the Continent. The vegetation resembled that of France, save that he saw no beech and no spruce pine. Of more consequence were the people and the distribution of them. The Britons of the interior he conceived to be indigenous. The coast was chiefly occupied by immigrants from Belgium, as could be traced in the nomenclature of places. The country seemed thickly inhabited. The flocks and herds were large; and farm buildings were frequent, resembling those in Gaul. In Kent especially, civilization was as far advanced as on the opposite continent. The Britons proper from the interior showed fewer signs of progress. They did not break the ground for corn; they had no manufactures; they lived on meat and milk, and were dressed in leather. They dyed their skins blue that they might look more terrible. They wore their hair long, and had long mustaches. In their habits they had not risen out of the lowest order of savagery. They had wives in common, and brothers and sisters, parents and children, lived together with promiscuous unrestraint. From such a country not much was to be gained in the way of spoil; nor had much been expected. Since Cicero's conversion, his brother Quintus had joined Caesar, and was now attending him as one of his lieutenant-generals. The brothers were in intimate correspondence. Cicero, though he watched the British expedition with interest, anticipated that Quintus would bring nothing of value back with him but slaves; and he warned his friend Atticus, who dealt extensively in such commodities, that the slaves from Britain would not be found of superior quality.[2]

[1] Nassau and Darmstadt.

[2] "Britannici belli exitus exspectatur. Constat enim, aditus insulae esse munitos mirificis molibus. Etiam illud jam cognitum est, neque argenti scrupulum esse ullum in illa insula, neque ullam spem praedae, nisi ex mancipiis: ex quibus nullos puto te litteris aut musicis eruditos exspectare."—Ad Atticum, iv. 16. It does not appear what Cicero meant by the "mirificae moles" which guarded the approaches to Britain, whether Dover Cliff or the masses of sand under water at the Goodwins.



CHAPTER XVII.

The summer had passed off gloriously for the Roman arms. The expedition to Britain had produced all the effects which Caesar expected from it, and Gaul was outwardly calm. Below the smooth appearance the elements of disquiet were silently working, and the winter was about to produce the most serious disaster and the sharpest trials which Caesar had yet experienced. On his return from Britain he held a council at Amiens. The harvest had been bad, and it was found expedient, for their better provision, to disperse the troops over a broader area than usual. There were in all eight legions, with part of another to be disposed of, and they were distributed in the following order. Lucius Roscius was placed at Seex, in Normandy; Quintus Cicero at Charleroy, not far from the scene of the battle with the Nervii. Cicero had chosen this position for himself as peculiarly advantageous; and his brother speaks of Caesar's acquiescence in the arrangement as a special mark of favor to himself. Labienus was at Lavacherie, on the Ourthe, about seventy miles to the south-east of Cicero; and Sabinus and Cotta were at Tongres, among the Aduatuci, not far from Liege, an equal distance from him to the north-east. Caius Fabius had a legion at St. Pol, between Calais and Arras; Trebonius one at Amiens; Marcus Crassus one at Montdidier; Munatius Plancus one across the Oise, near Compiegne. Roscius was far off, but in a comparatively quiet country. The other camps lay within a circle, two hundred miles in diameter, of which Bavay was the centre. Amiens was at one point on the circumference. Tongres, on the opposite side of it, to the north-east. Sabinus, being the most exposed, had, in addition to his legion, a few cohorts lately raised in Italy. Caesar, having no particular business to take him over the Alps, remained, with Trebonius attending to general business. His dispositions had been carefully watched by the Gauls. Caesar, they supposed, would go away as usual; they even believed that he had gone; and a conspiracy was formed in the north to destroy the legions in detail.

The instigator of the movement was Induciomarus, the leader of the patriot party among the Treveri, whose intrigues had taken Caesar to the Moselle before the first visit to Britain. At that time Induciomarus had been able to do nothing; but a fairer opportunity had arrived. The overthrow of the great German horde had affected powerfully the semi-Teutonic populations on the left bank of the Rhine. The Eburones, a large tribe of German race occupying the country between Liege and Cologne, had given in their submission; but their strength was still undiminished, and Induciomarus prevailed on their two chiefs, Ambiorix and Catavoleus, to attack Sabinus and Cotta. It was midwinter. The camp at Tongres was isolated. The nearest support was seventy miles distant. If one Roman camp was taken, Induciomarus calculated that the country would rise; the others could be separately surrounded, and Gaul would be free. The plot was well laid. An entrenched camp being difficult to storm, the confederates decided to begin by treachery. Ambiorix was personally known to many of the Roman officers. He sent to Sabiuus to say that he wished to communicate with him on a matter of the greatest consequence. An interview being granted, he stated that a general conspiracy had been formed through the whole of Gaul to surprise and destroy the legions. Each station was to be attacked on the same day, that they might be unable to support each other. He pretended himself to have remonstrated; but his tribe, he said, had been carried away by the general enthusiasm for liberty, and he could not keep them back. Vast bodies of Germans had crossed the Rhine to join in the war. In two days at the furthest they would arrive. He was under private obligations to Caesar, who had rescued his son and nephew in the fight with the Aduatuci, and out of gratitude he wished to save Sabinus from destruction, which was otherwise inevitable. He urged him to escape while there was still time, and to join either Labienus or Cicero, giving a solemn promise that he should not be molested on the road.

A council of officers was held on the receipt of this unwelcome information. It was thought unlikely that the Eburones would rise by themselves. It was probable enough, therefore, that the conspiracy was more extensive. Cotta, who was second in command, was of opinion that it would be rash and wrong to leave the camp without Caesar's orders. They had abundant provisions. They could hold their own lines against any force which the Germans could bring upon them, and help would not be long in reaching them. It would be preposterous to take so grave a step on the advice of an enemy. Sabinus unfortunately thought differently. He had been over-cautious in Brittany, though he had afterward redeemed his fault. Caesar, he persuaded himself, had left the country; each commander therefore must act on his own responsibility. The story told by Ambiorix was likely in itself. The Germans were known to be furious at the passage of the Rhine, the destruction of Ariovistus, and their other defeats. Gaul resented the loss of its independence. Ambiorix was acting like a true friend, and it would be madness to refuse his offer. Two days' march would bring them to their friends. If the alarm was false, they could return. If there was to be a general insurrection, the legions could not be too speedily brought together. If they waited, as Cotta advised, they would be surrounded, and in the end would be starved into surrender.

Cotta was not convinced, and the majority of officers supported him. The first duty of a Roman army, he said, was obedience to orders. Their business was to hold the post which had been committed to them, till they were otherwise directed. The officers were consulting in the midst of the camp, surrounded by the legionaries. "Have it as you wish," Sabinus exclaimed, in a tone which the men could hear; "I am not afraid of being killed. If things go amiss, the troops will understand where to lay the blame. If you allowed it, they might in forty-eight hours be at the next quarters, facing the chances of war with their comrades, instead of perishing here alone by sword or hunger."

Neither party would give way. The troops joined in the discussion. They were willing either to go or to stay, if their commanders would agree; but they said that it must be one thing or the other; disputes would be certain ruin. The discussion lasted till midnight. Sabinus was obstinate, Cotta at last withdrew his opposition, and the fatal resolution was formed to march at dawn. The remaining hours of the night were passed by the men in collecting such valuables as they wished to take with them. Everything seemed ingeniously done to increase the difficulty of remaining, and to add to the perils of the march by the exhaustion of the troops. The Meuse lay between them and Labienus, so they had selected to go to Cicero at Charleroy. Their course lay up the left bank of the little river Geer. Trusting to the promises of Ambiorix, they started in loose order, followed by a long train of carts and wagons. The Eburones lay, waiting for them, in a large valley, two miles from the camp. When most of the cohorts were entangled in the middle of the hollow, the enemy appeared suddenly, some in front, some on both sides of the valley, some behind threatening the baggage. Wise men, as Caesar says, anticipate possible difficulties, and decide beforehand what they will do if occasions arise. Sabinus had foreseen nothing and arranged nothing. Cotta, who had expected what might happen, was better prepared, and did the best that was possible. The men had scattered among the wagons, each to save or protect what he could. Cotta ordered them back, bade them leave the carts to their fate, and form together in a ring. He did right, Caesar thought; but the effect was unfortunate. The troops lost heart, and the enemy was encouraged, knowing that the baggage would only be abandoned when the position was desperate. The Eburones were under good command. They did not, as might have been expected, fly upon the plunder. They stood to their work, well aware that the carts would not escape them. They were not in great numbers. Caesar specially says that the Romans were as numerous as they. But everything else was against the Romans. Sabinus could give no directions. They were in a narrow meadow, with wooded hills on each side of them filled with enemies whom they could not reach. When they charged, the light-footed barbarians ran back; when they retired, they closed in upon them again, and not a dart, an arrow, or a stone missed its mark among the crowded cohorts. Bravely as the Romans fought, they were in a trap where their courage was useless to them. The battle lasted from dawn till the afternoon, and though they were falling fast, there was no flinching and no cowardice. Caesar, who inquired particularly into the minutest circumstances of the disaster, records by name the officers who distinguished themselves; he mentions one whose courage he had marked before, who was struck down with a lance through his thighs, and another who was killed in rescuing his son. The brave Cotta was hit in the mouth by a stone as he was cheering on his men. The end came at last. Sabinus, helpless and distracted, caught sight of Ambiorix in the confusion, and sent an interpreter to implore him to spare the remainder of the army. Ambiorix answered that Sabinus might come to him, if he pleased; he hoped he might persuade his tribe to be merciful; he promised that Sabinus himself should suffer no injury. Sabinus asked Cotta to accompany him. Cotta said he would never surrender to an armed enemy; and, wounded as he was, he stayed with the legion. Sabinus, followed by the rest of the surviving officers whom he ordered to attend him, proceeded to the spot where the chief was standing. They were commanded to lay down their arms. They obeyed, and were immediately killed; and with one wild yell the barbarians then rushed in a mass on the deserted cohorts. Cotta fell, and most of the others with him. The survivors, with the eagle of the legion, which they had still faithfully guarded, struggled back in the dusk to their deserted camp. The standard-bearer, surrounded by enemies, reached the fosse, flung the eagle over the rampart, and fell with the last effort. Those that were left fought on till night, and then, seeing that hope was gone, died like Romans on each other's swords—a signal illustration of the Roman greatness of mind, which had died out among the degenerate patricians, but was living in all its force in Caesar's legions. A few stragglers, who had been cut off during the battle from their comrades, escaped in the night through the woods, and carried the news to Labienus. Cicero, at Charleroy, was left in ignorance. The roads were beset, and no messenger could reach him.

Induciomarus understood his countrymen. The conspiracy with which he had frightened Sabinus had not as yet extended beyond a few northern chiefs, hut the success of Ambiorix produced the effect which he desired. As soon as it was known that two Roman generals had been cut off, the remnants of the Aduatuci and the Nervii were in arms for their own revenge. The smaller tribes along the Meuse and Sambre rose with them; and Cicero, taken by surprise, found himself surrounded before he had a thought of danger. The Gauls, knowing that their chances depended on the capture of the second camp before assistance could arrive, flung themselves so desperately on the entrenchments that the legionaries were barely able to repel the first assault. The assailants were driven back at last, and Cicero despatched messengers to Caesar to Amiens, to give him notice of the rising; but not a man was able to penetrate through the multitude of enemies which now swarmed in the woods. The troops worked gallantly, strengthening the weak points of their fortifications. In one night they raised a hundred and twenty towers on their walls. Again the Gauls tried a storm, and, though they failed a second time, they left the garrison no rest either by day or night. There was no leisure for sleep; not a hand could be spared from the lines to care for the sick or wounded. Cicero was in bad health, but he clung to his work till the men carried him by force to his tent and obliged him to lie down. The first surprise not having succeeded, the Nervian chiefs, who knew Cicero, desired a parley. They told the same story which Ambiorix had told, that the Germans had crossed the Rhine, and that all Gaul was in arms. They informed him of the destruction of Sabinus; they warned him that the same fate was hanging over himself, and that his only hope was in surrender. They did not wish, they said, to hurt either him or the Roman people; he and his troops would be free to go where they pleased, but they were determined to prevent the legions from quartering themselves permanently in their country.

There was but one Sabinus in the Roman army. Cicero answered, with a spirit worthy of his country, that Romans accepted no conditions from enemies in arms. The Gauls might, if they pleased, send a deputation to Caesar, and hear what he would say to them. For himself, he had no authority to listen to them. Force and treachery being alike unavailing, they resolved to starve Cicero out. They had watched the Roman strategy. They had seen and felt the value of the entrenchments. They made a bank and ditch all round the camp, and, though they had no tools but their swords with which to dig turf and cut trees, so many there were of them that the work was completed in three hours.[1] Having thus pinned the Romans in, they slung red-hot balls and flung darts carrying lighted straw over the ramparts of the camp on the thatched roofs of the soldiers' huts. The wind was high, the fire spread, and amidst the smoke and the blaze the Gauls again rushed on from all sides to the assault. Roman discipline was never more severely tried, and never showed its excellence more signally. The houses and stores of the soldiers were in flames behind them. The enemy were pressing on the walls in front, covered by a storm of javelins and stones and arrows, but not a man left his post to save his property or to extinguish the fire. They fought as they stood, striking down rank after rank of the Gauls, who still crowded on, trampling on the bodies of their companions, as the foremost lines fell dead into the ditch. Such as reached the wall never left it alive, for they were driven forward by the throng behind on the swords of the legionaries. Thousands of them had fallen, before, in desperation, they drew back at last.

But Cicero's situation was almost desperate too. The huts were destroyed. The majority of the men were wounded, and those able to bear arms were daily growing weaker in number. Caesar was 120 miles distant, and no word had reached him of the danger. Messengers were again sent off, but they were caught one after another, and were tortured to death in front of the ramparts, and the boldest men shrank from risking their lives on so hopeless an enterprise. At length a Nervian slave was found to make another adventure. He was a Gaul, and could easily disguise himself. A letter to Caesar was enclosed in the shaft of his javelin. He glided out of the camp in the dark, passed undetected among the enemies as one of themselves, and, escaping from their lines, made his way to Amiens.

Swiftness of movement was Caesar's distinguishing excellence. The legions were kept ready to march at an hour's notice. He sent an order to Crassus to join him instantly from Montdidier. He sent to Fabius at St. Pol to meet him at Arras. He wrote to Labienus, telling him the situation, and leaving him to his discretion to advance or to remain on his guard at Lavacherie, as might seem most prudent. Not caring to wait for the rest of his army, and leaving Crassus to take care of Amiens, he started himself, the morning after the information reached him, with Trebonius's legion to Cicero's relief. Fabius joined him, as he had been directed, at Arras. He had hoped for Labienus's presence also; but Labienus sent to say that he was surrounded by the Treveri, and dared not stir. Caesar approved his hesitation, and with but two legions, amounting in all to only 7,000 men, he hurried forward to the Nervian border. Learning that Cicero was still holding out, he wrote a letter to him in Greek, that it might be unintelligible if intercepted, to tell him that help was near. A Gaul carried the letter, and fastened it by a line to his javelin, which he flung over Cicero's rampart. The javelin stuck in the side of one of the towers and was unobserved for several days. The besiegers were better informed. They learnt that Caesar was at hand, that he had but a handful of men with him. By that time their own numbers had risen to 60,000, and, leaving Cicero to be dealt with at leisure, they moved off to envelop and destroy their great enemy. Caesar was well served by spies. He knew that Cicero was no longer in immediate danger, and there was thus no occasion for him to risk a battle at a disadvantage to relieve him. When he found the Gauls near him, he encamped, drawing his lines as narrowly as he could, that from the small show which he made they might imagine his troops to be even fewer than they were. He invited attack by an ostentation of timidity, and having tempted the Gauls to become the assailants, he flung open his gates, rushed out upon them with his whole force, and all but annihilated them. The patriot army was broken to pieces, and the unfortunate Nervii and Aduatuci never rallied from this second blow. Caesar could then go at his leisure to Cicero and his comrades, who had fought so nobly against such desperate odds. In every ten men he found that there was but one unwounded. He inquired with minute curiosity into every detail of the siege. In a general address he thanked Cicero and the whole legion. He thanked the officers man by man for their gallantry and fidelity. Now for the first time (and that he could have remained ignorant of it so long speaks for the passionate unanimity with which the Gauls had risen) he learnt from prisoners the fate of Sabinus. He did not underrate the greatness of the catastrophe. The soldiers in the army he treated always as friends and comrades in arms, and the loss of so many of them was as personally grievous to him as the effects of it might be politically mischievous. He made it the subject of a second speech to his own and to Cicero's troops, but he spoke to encourage and to console. A serious misfortune had happened, he said, through the fault of one of his generals, but it must be borne with equanimity, and had already been heroically expiated. The meeting with Cicero must have been an interesting one. He and the two Ciceros had been friends and companions in youth. It would have been well if Marcus Tullius could have remembered in the coming years the personal exertion with which Caesar had rescued a brother to whom he was so warmly attached.

Communications among the Gauls were feverishly rapid. While the Nervii were attacking Cicero, Induciomarus and the Treveri had surrounded Labienus at Lavacherie. Caesar had entered Cicero's camp at three o'clock in the afternoon. The news reached Induciomarus before midnight, and he had disappeared by the morning. Caesar returned to Amiens, but the whole country was now in a state of excitement. He had intended to go to Italy, but he abandoned all thoughts of departure. Rumors came of messengers hurrying to and fro, of meetings at night in lonely places, of confederacies among the patriots. Even Brittany was growing uneasy; a force had been collected to attack Roscius, though it had dispersed after the relief of Cicero. Caesar again summoned the chiefs to come to him, and between threats and encouragements succeeded in preventing a general rising. But the tribes on the upper Seine broke into disturbance. The Aedui and the Remi alone remained really loyal; and it was evident that only a leader was wanted to raise the whole of Gaul. Caesar himself admitted that nothing could be more natural. The more high-spirited of the Gauls were miserable to see that their countrymen had so lost conceit of themselves as to submit willingly to the Roman rule.

Induciomarus was busy all the winter soliciting help from the Germans, and promising money and lands. The Germans had had enough of fighting the Romans, and, as long as their own independence was not threatened, were disinclined to move; but Induciomarus, nothing daunted, gathered volunteers on all sides. His camp became a rallying point for disaffection. Envoys came privately to him from distant tribes. He, too, held his rival council, and a fresh attack on the camp of Labienus was to be the first step in a general war. Labienus, well informed of what was going on, watched him quietly from his entrenchments. When the Gauls approached, he affected fear, as Caesar had done, and he secretly formed a body of cavalry, of whose existence they had no suspicion. Induciomarus became careless. Day after day he rode round the entrenchments, insulting the Romans as cowards, and his men flinging their javelins over the walls. Labienus remained passive, till one evening, when, after one of these displays, the loose bands of the Gauls had scattered, he sent his horse out suddenly with orders to fight neither with small nor great, save with Induciomarus only, and promising a reward for his head. Fortune favored him. Induciomarus was overtaken and killed in a ford of the Ourthe, and for the moment the agitation was cooled down. But the impression which had been excited by the destruction of Sabinus was still telling through the country. Caesar expected fresh trouble in the coming summer, and spent the rest of the winter and spring in preparing for a new struggle. Future peace depended on convincing the Gauls of the inexhaustible resources of Italy; on showing them that any loss which might be inflicted could be immediately repaired, and that the army could and would be maintained in whatever strength might be necessary to coerce them. He raised two fresh legions in his own province. Pompey had formed a legion in the north of Italy, within Caesar's boundaries, for service in Spain. Caesar requested Pompey to lend him this legion for immediate purposes; and Pompey, who was still on good terms with Caesar, recognized the importance of the occasion, and consented without difficulty.

[Sidenote: B.C. 53.] Thus amply reinforced, Caesar, before the grass had begun to grow, took the field against the tribes which were openly disaffected. The first business was to punish the Belgians, who had attacked Cicero. He fell suddenly on the Nervii with four legions, seized their cattle, wasted their country, and carried off thousands of them to be sold into slavery. Returning to Amiens, he again called the chiefs about him, and, the Seine tribes refusing to put in an appearance, he transferred the council to Paris, and, advancing by rapid marches, he brought the Senones and Carnutes to pray for pardon.[2] He then turned on the Treveri and their allies, who, under Ambiorix, had destroyed Sabinus. Leaving Labienus with the additional legions to check the Treveri, he went himself into Flanders, where Ambiorix was hiding among the rivers and marshes. He threw bridges over the dikes, burnt the villages, and carried off an enormous spoil, of cattle and, alas! of men. To favor and enrich the tribes that submitted after a first defeat, to depopulate the determinately rebellious by seizing and selling as slaves those who had forfeited a right to his protection, was his uniform and, as the event proved, entirely successful policy. The persuasions of the Treveri had failed with the nearer German tribes; but some of the Suevi, who had never seen the Romans, were tempted to adventure over and try their fortunes; and the Treveri were waiting for them, to set on Labienus, in Caesar's absence. Labienus went in search of the Treveri, tempted them into an engagement by a feigned flight, killed many of them, and filled his camp with prisoners. Their German allies retreated again across the river, and the patriot chiefs, who had gone with Induciomarus, concealed themselves in the forests of Westphalia. Caesar thought it desirable to renew the admonition which he had given the Germans two years before, and again threw a bridge over the Rhine at the same place where he had made the first, but a little higher up the stream. Experience made the construction more easy. The bridge was begun and finished in a few days, but this time the labor was thrown away. The operation itself lost its impressiveness by repetition, and the barrenness of practical results was more evident than before. The Sueves, who had gone home, were far away in the interior. To lead the heavily armed legions in pursuit of wild light-footed marauders, who had not a town which could be burned, or a field of corn which could be cut for food, was to waste their strength to no purpose, and to prove still more plainly that in their own forests they were beyond the reach of vengeance. Caesar drew back again, after a brief visit to his allies the Ubii, cut two hundred feet of the bridge on the German side, and leaving the rest standing with a guard to defend it, he went in search of Ambiorix, who had as yet eluded him, in the Ardennes. Ambiorix had added treachery to insurrection, and as long as he was free and unpunished the massacred legion had not been fully avenged. Caesar was particularly anxious to catch him, and once had found the nest warm which Ambiorix had left but a few moments before.

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