Cassius Dio.

Dio's Rome, Volume 2 An Historical Narrative Originally Composed in Greek During the Reigns of Septimius Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus; and Now Presented in E online

. (page 11 of 30)
Online LibraryCassius DioDio's Rome, Volume 2 An Historical Narrative Originally Composed in Greek During the Reigns of Septimius Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus; and Now Presented in E → online text (page 11 of 30)
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according to their real inclination and regarded them as having been
most to blame for his banishment. And though he was not quite bold
enough to oppose them openly, since he had recently tasted the fruits of
unrestrained free speech, nevertheless he composed secretly a little
book and inscribed upon it that it contained a kind of defence of his
policy. In it he heaped together masses of denunciation against them and
others, which led him to such fear of these statements getting out in
his lifetime that he sealed up the volume and delivered it to his son
with the injunction not to read nor to publish what was written, until
his father should have departed from life.

[-11-] Cicero, accordingly, took root anew and got back his property and
likewise the foundation of his home, although the latter had been given
up to Liberty and Clodius both called the gods to witness and interposed
religious scruples against its desecration. But Cicero found a flaw in
the enactment of the lex curiata by the provisions of which his rival
had been taken from the nobles into the rank of the people, on the
ground that it had not been proposed within the limit of days set by
ancestral custom. Thus he tried to make null and void the entire
tribuneship of Clodius (in which also the decree regarding his house had
been passed), saying that inasmuch as the transference of the latter to
the common people had taken place unlawfully, it was not possible for
any one of his acts while in office to be considered binding. By this
means he persuaded the pontifices to give back to him the foundation as
properly his and unconsecrated. So he obtained that and money for the
construction of his house, and whatever else of his property had been

[-12-] After this there was further trouble on account of King Ptolemy.
He had spent much money upon some of the Romans, some of his own income
and some borrowed, in order to strengthen his kingdom and receive the
name of friend and ally. He was collecting this sum forcibly from the
Egyptians and was irritated at the difficulty he encountered as well as
at their bidding him demand back Cyprus from the Romans or else renounce
his friendship for the foreigners, - neither of which demands suited his
wishes. Since he could neither persuade them to be quiet nor yet force
them, as he had no foreign troops, he made his escape from Egypt, went
to Rome, and accused them of having expelled him from his kingdom: he
obtained the right to be restored by Spinther, to whom Cilicia had been

[-13-] While this was going on, the people of Alexandria, who for a
while did not know that he had departed for Italy or supposed he was
dead, placed Berenice his daughter on the throne in his place. Then,
learning the truth, they sent a hundred men to Rome to defend themselves
against his complaints and to bring counter charges of all the wrongs
they had suffered. He heard of it in advance (he was still in Rome) and
lay in wait for the envoys, by sending various men in different
directions, before their arrival. The majority of them perished on the
road, and of the survivors he slew some in the city itself and others he
either terrified by what had happened or by administering bribes
persuaded them neither to touch upon the matters regarding which they
had been sent, nor to make any mention at all of those who had been
killed. [-14-] The affair, however, became so noised abroad that even
the senate was mightily displeased, being urged on to action chiefly by
Marcus Favonius, who assigned two causes for his indignation, - first,
that many envoys sent by allies had perished by violence, and second,
that numerous Romans also on this occasion had taken bribes. So they
summoned Dio, the presiding officer of the envoys (for he had survived)
in order to learn the truth from him. But this time, too, Ptolemy gained
such a victory by money that neither did Dio enter the assemblage, nor
was any mention made of the murder of the dead men, so long as Ptolemy
was on the ground.[49] Furthermore, when Dio was subsequently
treacherously slain, he paid no penalty for that deed, either. This was
chiefly due to the fact that Pompey had entertained him in his house and
continued to render him powerful assistance. Of the other abuses that
sprang from this source many were accused at a later time, but few
convicted. For bribery was rampant and each coöperated with the other
because of his own fear.

[-15-] While mortals were being influenced by money to behave themselves
so, Heaven at the very beginning of the next year by striking with a
thunderbolt the statue of Jupiter erected on the Alban hill, delayed the
return of Ptolemy some little time. For when they had recourse to the
Sibylline verses they found written in them this very passage: "If the
king of Egypt come requesting some aid, refuse him not friendship
altogether, nor yet succor him with any great force: otherwise, you will
have both toils and dangers." Thereupon, amazed at the coincidence
between the verses and the events of the time, they were persuaded by
Gaius Cato the tribune to rescind all their decisions in the case. This
was the way the oracle was given, and it was made public by Cato (for it
was forbidden to announce to the populace any of the Sibylline
statements unless the senate voted it). Yet as soon as the sense of the
verses, as usually happens, began to be talked about, he was afraid that
it might be concealed, led the priests before the populace and there
compelled them to utter the oracle before the senate had given them any
instructions. The more scruples they had against doing so, the more
insistent[50] was the multitude. [-16-] Cato's wish prevailed; it was
written in the Latin tongue and proclaimed. After this they gave their
opinions: some were for assigning the restoration of Ptolemy to Spinther
without an army and others urged that Pompey with two lictors should
escort him home (Ptolemy, on learning of the oracle, had preferred this
latter request and his letter was read in public by Aulus Plautius, the
tribune). The senators then, fearing that Pompey would by this means
obtain still greater power, opposed it, using the matter of the grain as
an excuse.

All this happened in the consulship of Lucius Philippus and Gnaeus
Marcellinus. Ptolemy, when he heard of it, refused the favor of
restoration, went to Ephesus, and passed his time in the temple of the

[-17-] The year before a peculiar incident, which still has some bearing
upon history, had taken place. It was this. The law expressly forbids
any two persons of the same clan to hold the same priesthood at the same
time. Now Spinther the consul was anxious to place his son Cornelius
Spinther among the augurs, and when Faustus, the son of Sulla, of the
Cornelian gens had been enrolled before him, took his son out of the
clan and put him in that of Manlius Torquatus, and thus though the
letter of the law was preserved, its spirit was broken.

[B.C. 56 (_a.u._ 698)]

[-18-] Clodius had now come to the office of aedile, in the year of
Philippus and Marcellinus; being anxious to avoid the lawsuit he had got
himself elected by a political combination. He immediately instituted
proceedings against Milo for procuring gladiators: what he was doing
himself and was likely to be brought to trial for he brought as a charge
against his rival. He did this not really in the expectation of
convicting Milo, - for the latter had many strong champions, among them
Cicero and Pompey, - but in order that under this pretext he might carry
on a campaign against Milo and harass his helpers. The following was one
of his numerous devices. [-19-] He had instructed his clique that
whenever he should ask them in the assemblies: "Who was it that did or
said so-and-so?" they should all cry out: "Pompey!" Then on several
occasions he would suddenly ask about everything that could be taken
amiss in Pompey, either in physical peculiarities or any other respect,
taking up various small topics, one at a time, as if he were not
speaking of him particularly. Thereupon, as usually happens in such
cases, some would start off and others join in the refrain, saying
"Pompey!" and there was considerable jeering. The man attacked could not
control himself and keep quiet nor would he stoop to a trick like
Clodius's, so that he grew exceedingly angry, yet could not stir: thus
nominally Milo was condemned, but in reality Pompey was convicted
without even making a defence. For Clodius went one step farther and
would not allow the lex curiata to be brought up for discussion; and
until that was enacted no other serious business could be transacted in
the commonwealth or any suit introduced.

[-20-] For a season Milo served as a shield for their abuses and
assassinations, but about this time some portents occurred. In Albanum a
small temple of Juno, set on a kind of table facing the east, was turned
around to the west; a flash of light starting from the south shot across
to the north; a wolf entered the city; an earthquake occurred; some of
the citizens were killed by a thunderbolt; in Latin territory a
subterranean tumult was distinctly heard: and the soothsayers, being
anxious to produce a remedy, said that some spirit was angry with them
because of some temples or sites not inhabited for holy purposes. Then
Clodius substituted Cicero for Milo and attacked him vigorously in
speeches because he had built upon the foundation of the house dedicated
to Liberty; and once he went to it, with the apparent intention of
razing it anew to the ground, though he did not do so, being prevented
by Milo. [-21-] Cicero was angry at such treatment and kept making
complaints, and finally with Milo and some tribunes as attendants he
ascended the Capitol and took down the tablets set up by Clodius to
commemorate his exile. This time Clodius came up with his brother Gaius,
a praetor, and took them away from him, but later he watched for a time
when Clodius was out of town, ascended the Capitol again, took them and
carried them home. After this occurrence no quarter was shown on either
side, but they abused and slandered each other as much as they could,
without refraining from the basest means. One declared that the
tribuneship of Clodius had been contrary to law and that therefore his
deeds in office had no authority, and the other that Cicero's exile had
been justly decreed and his restoration unlawfully voted.

[-22-]While they were contending, and Clodius was getting much the worst
of it, Marcus Cato came upon the scene and made them equal. He had a
grudge against Cicero and was likewise afraid that all his acts in
Cyprus would be annulled, because he had been sent out under Clodius as
tribune: hence he readily took sides with the latter. He was very proud
of his deeds and anxious above all things that they should be confirmed.
For Ptolemy, who at that time was master of the island, when he learned
of the vote that had been passed, and neither dared to rise against the
Romans nor could endure to live, deprived of that province, had taken
his life by drinking poison.[51] Then the Cypriots, without reluctance,
accepted Cato, expecting to be friends and allies of the Romans instead
of slaves. It was not, however, of this that Cato made his chief boast;
but because he had administered everything in the best possible manner,
had collected slaves and large amounts of money from the royal treasury,
yet had met with no reproach but had given account of everything
unchallenged, - it was for this that he laid claim to valor no less than
if he had conquered in some war. So many persons accepted bribes that he
thought it more unusual for a man to despise money than to conquer the

[-23-] So at that time Cato for the reasons specified had some hope of a
proper triumph, and the consuls in the senate proposed that a praetorship
be given him, although by law it could not yet be his. He was not
appointed (for he spoke against the measure himself), but obtained even
greater renown from it. Clodius undertook to name the servants brought
from Cyprus Clodians, because he himself had sent Cato there, but failed
because the latter opposed it. So they received the title of Cyprians,
although some of them wanted to be called Porcians; but Cato prevented
this, too. Clodius took his opposition extremely ill and tried to pick
flaws in his administration: he demanded accounts for the transactions,
not because he could prove him guilty of any wrongdoing, but because
nearly all of the documents had been destroyed by shipwreck and he might
gain some prestige by following this line. Caesar, also, although not
present, was aiding Clodius at this time, and according to some sent him
in letters the accusations brought against Cato. One of their attacks
upon Cato consisted in the charge that he himself had persuaded the
consuls (so they affirmed) to propose a praetorship for him, and that he
had then voluntarily put it by, in order not to appear to have missed it
when he wanted it.

[B.C. 56 (_a.u._ 698)]

[-24-] So they kept up the conflict, and Pompey, too, encountered some
trouble in the distribution of the grain. Many slaves had been freed in
anticipation of the event, of whom he wished to take a census in order
that the grain delivery might take place with some decency and order.
This, to be sure, he managed fairly easily through his own wisdom and
because of the large supply of grain: but in seeking the consulship he
found annoyances which likewise entailed a measure of censure for him.
Clodius's behavior irritated him, but even more the fact that he was
treated slightingly by the rest, whose superior he was: and he felt
injured both on account of his reputation and on account of the hopes by
reason of which while still a private citizen he had thought to be
honored beyond them all. Sometimes he could bring himself to despise all
this. At first when people began to speak ill of him he was annoyed, but
after a time, when he came to consider carefully his own excellence and
their baseness, he paid no further attention to them. [-25-] The fact,
however, that Caesar's influence had grown and the populace admired his
achievements so much as to despatch ten men from the senate in
recognition of the apparently absolute subjugation of the Gauls[52] and
that the people were so slated by consequent hopes as to vote him large
sums of money was a thorn in Pompey's side. He attempted to persuade the
consuls not to read Caesar's letters but conceal the facts for a very
long time until the glory of his deeds should of its own motion spread
itself abroad, and further to send some one to relieve him even before
the specified date. So jealous was he that he proceeded to disparage and
abrogate all that he himself had effected with Caesar's aid: he was
displeased at the great and general praise bestowed upon the latter
(whereby his own exploits were being over-shadowed) and reproached the
populace for paying little heed to himself and going frantic over Caesar.
Especially was he vexed to see that they remembered former achievements
just so long as nothing occurred to divert them, that they turned with
greatest readiness to each new event, even if it were inferior to
something previous because they became tired of the usual and liked the
novel, and that they overthrew all established glory by reason of envy,
but helped to build up any new power by reason of their hopes. [-26-]
This was what caused his displeasure; and as he could not effect
anything through the consuls and saw that Caesar had passed beyond the
need of keeping faith with him, he regarded the situation as grave. He
held that there were two things that destroy friendship, - fear and
envy, - and that these can only arise from rival glory and strength. As
long as persons possess these last in equal shares, their friendship is
firm, but when one or the other excels in the least degree, then the
inferior party is jealous and hates the superior while the stronger
despises and abuses the weaker: so, whichever way you take it, the one
is vexed by his inferiority, the other is elated by his advantage, and
they come to strife and war in place of their former friendship. On the
basis of some such calculations Pompey began to arm himself against
Caesar. And because he thought he could not easily alone overthrow him,
he cultivated Crassus even more than before, that he might act with him.

[-27-] When they had compared notes, they decided that it would be
really impossible for them to accomplish anything as private citizens,
but if they should get the consulship and divide the authority between
them for rivalry against him, they would both be a match for him and
quickly overcome him, being two against one. So they arranged an entire
plan of dissimulation, to wit, that if any of their companions should
urge them to the office, they should say they no longer cared to obtain
the consulship: after this they put forth their best efforts to get it,
in spite of the fact that they had formerly been friends with some of
the other candidates. When they began to canvass for the office outside
of the times directed by law and others made it plain that they would
not allow them to be appointed (among these were the consuls themselves,
for Marcellinus had some little influence), they brought it about that
the elections should not be held that year (and to this end they
employed Gaius Cato and some others), in order that an interrex might be
chosen and they seek and secure the place in accordance with the laws.
[-28-] Now this was done under some other pretext (as it was said, by
reason of engagements made at a different time), but in reality by their
own influence, for they openly showed dislike of those who opposed them.
The senate, however, was violently enraged, and once while they were
wrangling left the room. That was the end of the proceedings for the
time being, and again when the same disturbance happened the senators
voted to change their dress, as if for some calamity, and they paid no
attention to Cato, who, because he gained nothing by speaking against
the proposed step, rushed out of the gathering and called in any one he
met in the market-place,[53] in order that no decision might be reached;
for, if any person not a senator were within, they might not give their
vote. But other tribunes were quick and prevented those invited from
entering, and so this decree was passed, and it was also proposed that
the senators should not be spectators at the festival then going on.
When Cato opposed this measure, too, they rushed out in a body, and
after changing their dress returned, hoping thus to frighten him. When
even so he would not moderate his behavior, they all together proceeded
to the Forum and brought to a state of sincere sorrow the multitude, who
had come running to that place; Marcellinus was the speaker, and he
lamented the present occurrences, while the rest listening wept and
groaned, so that no one had a word to say against him. After doing this
the senators entered the senate-house immediately, intending to vent
their wrath upon those who were responsible.[-29-] But Clodius had
meantime jumped to the side of Pompey and espoused his cause again in
the hope that if he should help him in securing the prize now at stake,
he would make him entirely his friend. So he came before the populace in
his ordinary garb, without making any change as the decree required, and
addressed a speech to them against Marcellinus and the rest. As great
indignation at this act was shown by the senators, he abandoned the
people in the midst of his speech and hastened to the senate, where he
came near meeting his end. For the senate confronted him and prevented
his going in, while at that moment he was surrounded by the knights and
would have been torn limb from limb, had he not raised an outcry,
calling upon the people for aid; whereupon many ran to the scene
bringing fire and threatening to burn his oppressors along with the
senate-house, if they should do him any harm.

[-30-] He, then, came within an ace of being killed. But Pompey, not
alarmed at all by this, on one occasion rushed into the senatorial
assembly, thwarting them as they were just about to vote, and prevented
the measure from being carried. When Marcellinus after that publicly
asked him whether he really desired to become consul, he in hope that
the other might give ground admitted that he was a candidate, but said
that he did not want the office so far as the just men were concerned,
but that on account of the seditious he was exerting every influence to
that end. So Pompey came out openly as his rival, and Crassus on being
interrogated gave the same implication himself, not admitting the fact,
to be sure, but not denying it, either: instead, he took, as usual, a
middle course and said that he would do whatever was advantageous to the
republic. In view of this situation Marcellinus and many others were
terrified, as they observed their equipment and opposing array, and
would no longer frequent the senate-house.

As the number required by custom for passing any vote about the
elections did not assemble, it was impossible to have any business at
all about them brought forward, and the year thus passed away. However,
the senators did not change their attire nor attend the festivals nor
celebrate the feast of Jupiter on the Capitol nor go out to Albanum for
the Feriae Latinae, held there for the second time by reason of something
not rightly done. Instead, like persons in bondage and not possessing
authority to choose officials or conduct any other public business they
spent the rest of the year.

[B.C. 55 (_a.u._ 699)]

[-31-]And after this Crassus and Pompey were appointed consuls by the
interrex, as no one else of the earlier canvassers opposed them. Lucius
Domitius, who contested the office up to the very last day of the year,
started out from home for the assembly of the people just after dark,
but when the boy that carried the torch in front of him was stabbed, he
was frightened and went no farther. Hence, as no one else contested
their election, and furthermore because of the action of Publius
Crassus, who was a son of Marcus and then lieutenant under Caesar, in
bringing soldiers to Rome for this very purpose, they were easily

[-32-] When they had thus assumed the leadership of the State, they had
the other offices given to such as were well disposed toward them and
prevented Marcus Cato from being appointed praetor. They suspected that
he would not submit to their régime and were unwilling to add any legal
power to his outspoken opposition. The nomination of the praetors was
made in peace, for Cato did not see fit to offer any violence: in the
matter of the curule aediles, however, assassinations took place, so that
Pompey was implicated in much bloodshed. The other officials,
too, - those elected by the people, - they appointed to please themselves
(for they controlled the elections), and they made friends with the
other aediles and most of the tribunes. Two tribunes, Gaius Ateius Capito
and Publius Aquilius Gallus, would not come to terms with them.

[-33-] Accordingly, when the offices had been settled, they possessed
the object of their strivings. They themselves made no mention of these
matters before either the senate or the populace, but gravely pretended
that they wanted nothing further. Gaius Trebonius, however, a tribune,
presented a measure that to the one Syria and its environs be given to
rule over for five years, and to the other the Hispaniae, where there
had recently been an uprising, for a similar period; also that they
should employ as many soldiers as they might wish, both citizens and
allies, and should make peace and war with whomsoever they pleased.
Many, and especially the friends of Caesar, took offence at this, because
those men after obtaining provinces to govern were likely to keep Caesar
from holding his position for a much longer time; and therefore some
prepared to speak against the measure. Then the consuls fearing that
they might fail utterly of the projects they had in hand won over all
such supporters on the condition of extending his leadership also for
three [54] years more (to follow the actual facts). However, they
submitted no part of his case to the populace until their own business
had been ratified. And the adherents of Caesar anticipated in this way,
kept quiet, and the greater part of the rest, in bondage to fear and
satisfied if even so they should save their lives, remained still.
[-34-]On the other hand, Cato and Favonius resisted all their schemes,

Online LibraryCassius DioDio's Rome, Volume 2 An Historical Narrative Originally Composed in Greek During the Reigns of Septimius Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus; and Now Presented in E → online text (page 11 of 30)