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THE COMMENTARIES OF CAESAR ***




Produced by Chuck Greif and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This book was
produced from scanned images of public domain material
from the Google Books project.)










_Ancient Classics for English Readers_

EDITED BY THE
REV. W. LUCAS COLLINS, M.A.

CÆSAR




_The Volumes published of this Series contain_


HOMER: THE ILIAD, BY THE EDITOR.

HOMER: THE ODYSSEY, BY THE SAME.

HERODOTUS, BY GEORGE C. SWAYNE, M.A.
Late Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

The following Authors, by various Contributors, are in preparation: -

VIRGIL.
HORACE.
ÆSCHYLUS.
SOPHOCLES.
ARISTOPHANES.
CICERO.
JUVENAL.
XENOPHON.

OTHERS WILL FOLLOW.

_A Volume will be published on the 1st of every
alternate Month, price 2s. 6d._




THE COMMENTARIES
OF
CÆSAR

BY
ANTHONY TROLLOPE

WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
MDCCCLXX




CONTENTS.


CHAP. PAGE

I. INTRODUCTION, 1

II. FIRST BOOK OF THE WAR IN GAUL. - CÆSAR DRIVES
FIRST THE SWISS AND THEN THE GERMANS OUT
OF GAUL. - B.C. 58, 28

III. SECOND BOOK OF THE WAR IN GAUL. - CÆSAR SUBDUES
THE BELGIAN TRIBES. - B.C. 57, 45

IV. THIRD BOOK OF THE WAR IN GAUL. - CÆSAR SUBDUES
THE WESTERN TRIBES OF GAUL. - B.C. 56, 54

V. FOURTH BOOK OF THE WAR IN GAUL. - CÆSAR
CROSSES THE RHINE, SLAUGHTERS THE GERMANS,
AND GOES INTO BRITAIN. - B.C. 55, 63

VI. FIFTH BOOK OF THE WAR IN GAUL. - CÆSAR’S
SECOND INVASION OF BRITAIN. - THE GAULS
RISE AGAINST HIM. - B.C. 54, 74

VII. SIXTH BOOK OF THE WAR IN GAUL. - CÆSAR PURSUES
AMBIORIX. - THE MANNERS OF THE GAULS
AND OF THE GERMANS ARE CONTRASTED. - B.C.
53, 88

VIII. SEVENTH BOOK OF THE WAR IN GAUL. - THE REVOLT
OF VERCINGETORIX. - B.C. 52, 100

IX. FIRST BOOK OF THE CIVIL WAR. - CÆSAR CROSSES
THE RUBICON. - FOLLOWS POMPEY TO BRUNDUSIUM. - AND
CONQUERS AFRANIUS IN SPAIN. - B.C.
49, 116

X. SECOND BOOK OF THE CIVIL WAR. - THE TAKING OF
MARSEILLES. - VARRO IN THE SOUTH OF SPAIN. - THE
FATE OF CURIO BEFORE UTICA. - B.C. 49, 131

XI. THIRD BOOK OF THE CIVIL WAR. - CÆSAR FOLLOWS
POMPEY INTO ILLYRIA. - THE LINES OF PETRA
AND THE BATTLE OF PHARSALIA. - B.C. 48, 146

XII. CONCLUSION, 174

CÆSAR




CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION.


It may perhaps be fairly said that the Commentaries of Cæsar are the
beginning of modern history. He wrote, indeed, nearly two thousand years
ago; but he wrote, not of times then long past, but of things which were
done under his own eyes, and of his own deeds. And he wrote of countries
with which we are familiar, - of our Britain, for instance, which he
twice invaded, of peoples not so far remote but that we can identify
them with our neighbours and ourselves; and he so wrote as to make us
feel that we are reading actual history, and not romance. The simplicity
of the narratives which he has left is their chief characteristic, if
not their greatest charm. We feel sure that the circumstances which he
tells us did occur, and that they occurred very nearly as he tells them.
He deals with those great movements in Europe from which have sprung,
and to which we can trace, the present political condition of the
nations. Interested as the scholar, or the reader of general literature,
may be in the great deeds of the heroes of Greece, and in the burning
words of Greek orators, it is almost impossible for him to connect to
any intimate and thoroughly-trusted link the fortunes of Athens, or
Sparta, or Macedonia, with our own times and our own position. It is
almost equally difficult to do so in regard to the events of Rome and
the Roman power before the time of Cæsar. We cannot realise and bring
home to ourselves the Punic Wars or the Social War, the Scipios and the
Gracchi, or even the contest for power between Marius and Sulla, as we
do the Gallic Wars and the invasion of Britain, by which the
civilisation of Rome was first carried westwards, or the great civil
wars, - the “Bellum Civile,” - by which was commenced a line of emperors
continued almost down to our own days, and to which in some degree may
be traced the origin and formation of almost every existing European
nation. It is no doubt true that if we did but know the facts correctly,
we could refer back every political and social condition of the present
day to the remotest period of man’s existence; but the interest fails us
when the facts become doubtful, and when the mind begins to fear that
history is mixed with romance. Herodotus is so mythic that what delight
we have in his writings comes in a very slight degree from any desire on
our part to form a continuous chain from the days of which he wrote down
to our own. Between the marvels of Herodotus and the facts of Cæsar
there is a great interval, from which have come down to us the works of
various noble historians; but with Cæsar it seems that that certainty
commences which we would wish to regard as the distinguishing
characteristic of modern history.

It must be remembered from the beginning that Cæsar wrote only of what
he did or of what he caused to be done himself. At least he only so
wrote in the two works of his which remain to us. We are told that he
produced much besides his Commentaries, - among other works, a poem, - but
the two Commentaries are all of his that we have. The former, in seven
books, relates the facts of his seven first campaigns in Gaul for seven
consecutive years; those campaigns in which he reduced the nations
living between the Rhine, the Rhone, the Mediterranean, the Pyrenees,
and the sea which we now call the British Channel.[1] The latter
Commentary relates the circumstances of the civil war in which he
contended for power against Pompey, his former colleague, with Crassus,
in the first triumvirate, and established that empire to which Augustus
succeeded after a second short-lived triumvirate between himself and
Lepidus and Antony.

It is the object of this little volume to describe Cæsar’s Commentaries
for the aid of those who do not read Latin, and not to write Roman
history; but it may be well to say something, in a few introductory
lines, of the life and character of our author. We are all more or less
familiar with the name of Julius Cæsar. In our early days we learned
that he was the first of those twelve Roman emperors with whose names
it was thought right to burden our young memories; and we were taught to
understand that when he began to reign there ceased to exist that form
of republican government in which two consuls elected annually did in
truth preside over the fortunes of the empire. There had first been
seven kings, - whose names have also been made familiar to us, - then the
consuls, and after them the twelve Cæsars, of whom the great Julius was
the first. So much we all know of him; and we know, too, that he was
killed in the Capitol by conspirators just as he was going to become
emperor, although this latter scrap of knowledge seems to be
paradoxically at variance with the former. In addition to this we know
that he was a great commander and conqueror and writer, who did things
and wrote of them in the “veni, vidi, vici” style - saying of himself, “I
came, I saw, I conquered.” We know that a great Roman army was intrusted
to him, and that he used this army for the purpose of establishing his
own power in Rome by taking a portion of it over the Rubicon, which
little river separated the province which he had been appointed to
govern from the actual Roman territory within which, as a military
servant of the magistrates of the republic, he had no business to appear
as a general at the head of his army. So much we know; and in the
following very short memoir of the great commander and historian, no
effort shall be made, - as has been so frequently and so painfully done
for us in late years, - to upset the teachings of our youth, and to
prove that the old lessons were wrong. They were all fairly accurate,
and shall now only be supplemented by a few further circumstances which
were doubtless once learned by all school-boys and school-girls, but
which some may perhaps have forgotten since those happy days.

Dean Merivale, in one of the early chapters of his admirable history of
the Romans under the Empire, declares that Caius Julius Cæsar is the
greatest name in history. He makes the claim without reserve, and
attaches to it no restriction, or suggestion that such is simply his own
opinion. Claims of this nature, made by writers on behalf of their
pet-heroes, we are, all of us, generally inclined to dispute; but this
claim, great as it is, can hardly be disputed. Dr Merivale does not say
that Cæsar was the greatest man that ever lived. In measuring such
supremacy, men take for themselves various standards. To satisfy the
judgment of one, it is necessary that a poet should be selected; for
another, a teacher of religion; for a third, some intellectual hero who
has assisted in discovering the secrets of nature by the operations of
his own brain; for a fourth, a ruler, - and so on. But the names of some
of these cannot be said to be great in history. Homer, Luther, Galileo,
and Charles V., are great names, - as are also Shakespeare, Knox, Queen
Elizabeth, and Newton. Among these, the two rulers would probably be the
least in general admiration. But no one can assert that the names of the
poets, divines, and philosophers, are greater than theirs in history.
The Dean means that of all men who have lived, and whose deeds are
known to us, Julius Cæsar did most to move the world; and we think that
the Dean is right. Those whom we might, perhaps, compare with Cæsar, are
Alexander, Charlemagne, Cromwell, Napoleon, and Washington. In regard to
the first two, we feel, when claims are made for them, that they are
grounded on the performance of deeds only partially known to us. In the
days of Alexander, history was still dark, - and it had become dark again
in those of Charlemagne. What Cromwell did was confined to our own
islands, and, though he was great for us, he does not loom as large
before the eyes of mankind in general as does one who moved all Europe,
present and future. If there be any fair antagonist to Cæsar in this
claim, it is Napoleon. As a soldier he was equally great, and the area
of his operations was as extended. But there is an old saying which
tells us that no one can be sure of his fortune till the end shall have
come; and Cæsar’s death on the steps of the Capitol was more in
accordance with our ideas of greatness than that of Napoleon at St
Helena. We cannot, moreover, but feel that there were fewer drawbacks
from greatness in the personal demeanour of the Roman “Imperator” and
Dictator than in that of the French Emperor. For Julius Cæsar was never
really emperor, in that sense in which we use the word, and in
accordance with which his successor Augustus really became an emperor.
As to Washington, we may perhaps allow that in moral attributes he was
the greatest of all. To aid his country he dared all, - even a rebel’s
disgraceful death, had he not succeeded where success was most
improbable; and in all that he attempted he succeeded. His is the name
that culminates among those of the men who made the United States a
nation, and does so by the eager consent of all its people. And his work
came altogether from patriotism, - with no alloy of personal ambition.
But it cannot be said that the things he did were great as those which
were done by Cæsar, or that he himself was as potent in the doing of
them. He ventured everything with as grand a purpose as ever warmed the
heart of man, and he was successful; but the things which he did were in
themselves small in comparison with those effected by his less noble
rival for fame. Mommsen, the German historian, describes Cæsar as a man
too great for the scope of his intelligence and power of delineation.
“The historian,” he says, speaking of Cæsar, “when once in a thousand
years he encounters the perfect, can only be silent regarding it.”
Napoleon also, in his life of Cæsar, paints his hero as perfect; but
Napoleon when doing so is, in fact, claiming godlike perfection for that
second Cæsar, his uncle. And the perfection which he claims is not that
of which Mommsen speaks. The German intends to convey to us his
conviction that Cæsar was perfect in human capacity and intelligence.
Napoleon claims for him moral perfection. “We may be convinced,” says
the Emperor, “by the above facts, that during his first consulate, one
only motive animated Cæsar, - namely, the public interest.” We cannot,
however, quite take the facts as the Emperor of the French gives them to
us, nor can we share his conviction; but the common consent of reading
men will probably acknowledge that there is in history no name so great
as that of Julius Cæsar, - of whose written works some account is
intended to be given in the following chapters.

He was born just one hundred years before Christ, and came of an old
noble Roman family, of which Julius and not Cæsar was the distinctive
name. Whence came the name of Cæsar has been a matter of doubt and of
legend. Some say that it arose from the thick hair of one of the Julian
tribe; others that a certain scion of the family, like Macduff, “was
from his mother’s womb untimely ripped,” for which derivations Latin
words are found to be opportune. Again we are told that one of the
family once kept an elephant, - and we are referred to some eastern
language in which the word for elephant has a sound like Cæsar. Another
legend also rose from Cæsar’s name, which, in the Gallic language of
those days, - very luckily for Cæsar, - sounded as though one should say,
“Send him back.” Cæsar’s horse once ran away with him, and carried him
over to the enemy. An insolent Gaul, who knew him, called out, “Cæsar,
Cæsar!” and so the other Gauls, obeying the order supposed to be given,
allowed the illustrious one to escape. It must be acknowledged, however,
that the learned German who tells us this story expresses a contemptuous
conviction that it cannot be true. Whatever may have produced the word,
its significance, derived from the doings and writings of Caius Julius,
has been very great. It has come to mean in various languages the holder
of despotic power; and though it is said that, as a fact, the Russian
title Czar has no connection with the Roman word, so great is the
prestige of the name, that in the minds of men the popular appellation
of the Russian Emperor will always be connected with that of the line of
the Roman Emperor.

Cæsar was the nephew by marriage of that Marius who, with alternations
of bloody successes and seemingly irreparable ruin, had carried on a
contest with Sulla for supreme power in the republic. Sulla in these
struggles had represented the aristocrats and patricians, - what we
perhaps may call the Conservative interest; while Marius, whose origin
was low, who had been a common soldier, and, rising from the ranks, had
become the darling of the army and of the people, may perhaps be
regarded as one who would have called himself a Liberal, had any such
term been known in those days. His liberality, - as has been the case
with other political leaders since his time, - led him to personal power.
He was seven times Consul, having secured his seventh election by
atrocious barbarities and butcherings of his enemies in the city; and
during this last consulship he died. The young Cæsar, though a patrician
by birth, succeeded his uncle in the popular party, and seems from a
very early age, - from his very boyhood, - to have looked forward to the
power which he might win by playing his cards with discretion.

And very discreet he was, - self-confident to a wonderful degree, and
patient also. It is to be presumed that most of our readers know how the
Roman Republic fell, and the Roman Empire became established as the
result of the civil wars which began with Marius and ended with, that
“young Octavius” whom we better recognise as Augustus Cæsar. Julius
Cæsar was the nephew by marriage of Marius, and Augustus was the
great-nephew and heir of Julius. By means of conscriptions and murders,
worse in their nature, though less probably in number, than those which
disgraced the French Revolution, the power which Marius achieved almost
without foresight, for which the great Cæsar strove from his youth
upwards with constant foresight, was confirmed in the hands of Augustus,
and bequeathed by him to the emperors. In looking back at the annals of
the world, we shall generally find that despotic power has first grown
out of popular movement against authority. It was so with our own
Cromwell, has twice been so in the history of modern France, and
certainly was so in the formation of the Roman Empire. In the great work
of establishing that empire, it was the mind and hand and courage of
Cæsar that brought about the result, whether it was for good or evil.
And in looking at the lives of the three men - Marius, Cæsar, and
Augustus, who followed each other, and all worked to the same end, the
destruction of that oligarchy which was called a Republic in Rome - we
find that the one was a man, while the others were beasts of prey. The
cruelties of Marius as an old man, and of Augustus as a young one, were
so astounding as, even at this distance, to horrify the reader, though
he remembers that Christianity had not yet softened men’s hearts.
Marius, the old man, almost swam in the blood of his enemies, as also
did his rival Sulla; but the young Octavius, he whom the gods favoured
so long as the almost divine[2] Augustus, cemented his throne with the
blood of his friends. To complete the satisfaction of Lepidus and
Antony, his comrades in the second triumvirate, he did not scruple to
add to the list of those who were to die, the names of the nearest and
dearest to him. Between these monsters of cruelty - between Marius and
Sulla, who went before him, and Octavius and Antony who followed
him - Cæsar has become famous for clemency. And yet the hair of the
reader almost stands on end with horror as Cæsar recounts in page after
page the stories of cities burned to the ground, and whole communities
slaughtered in cold blood. Of the destruction of the women and children
of an entire tribe, Cæsar will leave the unimpassioned record in one
line. But this at least may be said of Cæsar, that he took no delight in
slaughter. When it became in his sight expedient that a people should
suffer, so that others might learn to yield and to obey, he could give
the order apparently without an effort. And we hear of no regrets, or of
any remorse which followed the execution of it. But bloodshed in itself
was not sweet to him. He was a discreet, far-seeing man, and could do
without a scruple what discretion and caution demanded of him.

And it may be said of Cæsar that he was in some sort guided in his life
by sense of duty and love of country; as it may also be said of his
great contemporaries, Pompey and Cicero. With those who went before
him, Marius and Sulla, as also with those who followed him, Antony and
Augustus, it does not seem that any such motives actuated them. Love of
power and greed, hatred of their enemies and personal ambition, a
feeling that they were urged on by their fates to seek for high place,
and a resolve that it was better to kill than be killed, impelled them
to their courses. These feelings were strong, too, with Cæsar, as they
are strong to this day with statesmen and with generals; but mingled
with them in Cæsar’s breast there was a noble idea, that he would be
true to the greatness of Rome, and that he would grasp at power in order
that the Roman Empire might be well governed. Augustus, doubtless, ruled
well; and to Julius Cæsar very little scope for ruling was allowed after
his battling was done; but to Augustus no higher praise can be assigned
than that he had the intelligence to see that the temporary wellbeing of
the citizens of Rome was the best guarantee for his own security.

Early in life Cæsar lifted himself to high position, though he did so in
the midst of dangers. It was the wonder of those around him that Sulla
did not murder him when he was young, - crush him while he was yet, as it
were, in his shell; but Sulla spared him, and he rose apace. We are told
that he became priest of Jupiter at seventeen, and he was then already a
married man. He early trained himself as a public orator, and amidst
every danger espoused the popular cause in Rome. He served his country
in the East, - in Bithynia, probably, - escaping, by doing so, the perils
of a residence in the city. He became Quæstor and then Ædile, assisted
by all the Marian party, as that party would assist the rising man whom
they regarded as their future leader. He attacked and was attacked, and
was “indefatigable in harassing the aristocracy,”[3] who strove, but
strove in vain, to crush him. Though young, and addicted to all the
pleasures of youth, - a trifler, as Sulla once called him, - he omitted to
learn nothing that was necessary for him to know as a chief of a great
party and a leader of great armies. When he was thirty-seven he was made
Pontifex Maximus, the official chief of the priesthood of Rome, the
office greatest in honour of any in the city, although opposed by the
whole weight of the aristocracy, and although Catulus was a candidate,
who, of all that party, was the highest not only in renown but in
virtue. He became Prætor the next year, though again he was opposed by
all the influence of those who feared him. And, after his twelve months
of office, he assumed the government of Spain, - the province allotted to
him as Proprætor, in accordance with the usage of the Republic, - in the
teeth of a decree of the Senate ordering him to remain in Rome. Here he
gained his first great military success, first made himself known to his
soldiery, and came back to Rome entitled to the honour of a triumph.

But there was still another step on the ladder of the State before he
could assume the position which no doubt he already saw before him. He
must be Consul before he could be the master of many legions, and in
order that he might sue in proper form for the consulship, it was
necessary that he should abandon his Triumph. He could only triumph as
holding the office of General of the Republic’s forces, and as General
or Imperator he could not enter the city. He abandoned the Triumph, sued
for his office in the common fashion, and enabled the citizens to say
that he preferred their service to his personal honours. At the age of
forty-one he became Consul. It was during the struggle for the
consulship that the triumvirate was formed, of which subsequent ages
have heard so much, and of which Romans at the time heard probably so
little. Pompey, who had been the political child of Sulla, and had been
the hope of the patricians to whom he belonged, had returned to Rome
after various victories which he had achieved as Proconsul in the East,
had triumphed, - and had ventured to recline on his honours, disbanding
his army and taking to himself the credit of subsiding into privacy. The
times were too rough for such honest duty, and Pompey found himself for


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