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 12 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 12 of 30)
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having the two tribunes and others to help them, since in fighting few
against many their frankness was of no avail. Favonius, who obtained
from Trebonius only one hour for his speech in opposition, used it up in
crying out at random about the distressing condition of the times. Cato
received the right of employing two hours in his harangue and turned his
efforts to censuring the immediate proposition and the whole situation,
as he was wont, and so he exhausted his time before he had touched upon
any of the revolutionary aspects of the matter. This was done not
because he did not have the privilege of speaking also on that topic,
but in order that he might be silenced by Trebonius while still
appearing to have something more to say and thus obtain this additional
grievance to bring up against him. For he well understood that had he
employed the entire day, he was still sure to be unable to persuade them
to vote anything that he wished. Hence, when bidden to be silent he did
not stop immediately, but had to be pushed and dragged from the
assemblage, whereupon he came back, and at last though consigned to
prison he did not moderate his behavior.

[-35-] That day was so spent that the tribunes were unable to speak any
word at all. For in the meetings of the people where a measure was also
under discussion, the right to speak was given to all the private
citizens before those that held the offices, to the end, as it seemed,
that none of them captivated beforehand by the opinion of a superior
should dissimulate the thoughts that he had in mind, but should say what
he thought with entire frankness. Hence Gallus, being afraid that some
one might on the next day keep him from the Forum or do something worse
still, went into the place of assembly directly after nightfall and
passed the night there for the sake of the safety that the place
afforded, and for the purpose of leaving there at dawn to join the
populace outside. Trebonius, by shutting all the doors of the
senate-house, caused this man to have spent the night and most of the
day there in vain. Others occupied the site of the gathering by night
and barred out Ateius, Cato, Favonius and the remainder of their
followers. When Favonius and Ninnius got in somehow unobserved and Cato
and Ateius climbed upon the shoulders of some of those standing around
and being lifted up by them declared an omen directing the meeting to
break up, the attendants of the tribunes drove them both out, wounded
the rest who were with them and actually killed a few.

[-36-] After the law was in this way ratified and the people were
already departing from the assembly Ateius took Gallus covered with
blood (he had been struck in being forced out of the gathering), led him
into the presence of those still on the spot, exhibited him to them, and
by making all the comments that were natural, stirred them mightily. The
consuls were made aware of this and came quickly, having, indeed, been
waiting somewhere near to see what was going on. As they had a
considerable body-guard they intimidated the men, immediately called a
meeting and passed the additional measures relating to Caesar. The same
persons tried to resist these, too, but were unable to accomplish

[-37-] The consuls had this enactment passed, and next they laid heavier
penalties upon such as bribed any persons, as if they themselves were
any the less guilty because they had secured their office not by money
but by force. They had even undertaken to curtail personal expenditures,
which had gone to great lengths, although they themselves indulged in
every kind of luxury and delicacy; they were prevented, however, by this
very business of lawmaking. For Hortensius, one of the men fondest of
expensive living, by reviewing the great size of the city and adverting
with commendation to the costliness of their homes and their magnanimity
toward others, persuaded them to give up their intention, for he could
use their mode of life to champion his words. They respected his
contention, and furthermore, because they shrank from appearing to debar
others through any envy from rights that they themselves enjoyed, they
voluntarily withdrew their motion.

[-38-] These were the same days in which Pompey dedicated the theatre
wherein we take pride even at the present time. In it he provided an
entertainment consisting of music and gymnastic contests, and in the
hippodrome a horse-race and the slaughter of many beasts of all kinds.
Five hundred lions were used up in five days, and eighteen elephants
fought against men in heavy armor. Some of these beasts were killed
immediately and others much later. For some of them, contrary to
Pompey's wish, were pitied by the people when they were wounded and
ceased fighting and walked about with their trunks raised toward heaven.
They lamented so bitterly as to give rise to the report that they did so
not by accident, but were crying out upon the oaths in which they
trusted when crossing over from Libya, and were calling upon Heaven to
avenge them. For it is said that they would not set foot upon the ships
before they received a pledge under oath from their leaders that they
should verily suffer no harm: whether this is really so or otherwise, I
know not. For some in time past have further declared that in addition
to understanding the language of their native country they also
comprehend what is going on in the sky, so that at the time of new moon,
before that luminary comes within the gaze of men, they reach running
water and there make a kind of purification of themselves. These are
some of the things I have heard; I have heard also that this theatre was
not erected by Pompey, but by one Demetrius, a freedman of his, with the
money he had gained while making campaigns with the general. Wherefore
he yielded the name of the structure most justly to his master, that he
might not be ill spoken of for having, as his freedman, gathered money
enough to suffice for so huge an expenditure.

[-39-] No doubt in this Pompey afforded the populace no little delight,
but in making with Crassus the levies, according to their votes, he
displeased them exceedingly. Then the majority repented of their course
and praised Cato and the rest. So the latter group both on his account
and because a certain lawsuit, nominally against their lieutenants but
really against them and with reference to their acts had been instituted
by some of the tribunes, dared indeed to commit no act of violence, but,
together with the malcontents in the senate, changed their clothing as
if for a calamity. They immediately, however, repented in regard to this
costume and without waiting for any excuse went back to their accustomed
dress. Now when the tribunes endeavored to abolish the levies and
rescind the vote for the proposed campaigns, Pompey, for his part,
showed no anger. He had sent out his lieutenants without delay and he
himself was glad to remain where he was on the plea that he was
prevented from going abroad, especially as he ought to be in Rome on
account of his duties in the care of the grain; and his plan in that
case was to let his officers subdue the Hispaniae and himself manage the
affairs at Rome and in the rest of Italy. Crassus, however, since
neither of these considerations operated in his case, turned to force of
arms. The tribunes, then, seeing that their boldness, being unarmed, was
too weak to hinder any of his undertakings, in general kept silence.
They announced many unusual portents, however, that applied to him, as
if they could avoid including the public in their curse: at one time as
he was offering on the Capitol the customary prayers for his campaign
they spread a report of omens and wonders, and again when he was setting
out they called down many terrible curses upon him. Ateius even
attempted to cast him into prison, but other tribunes resisted, and
there was a conflict among them and a delay, in the midst of which
Crassus left the pomerium.

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

[-40-] Now he, whether by chance or as a result of the curses, before
long met with defeat. As for Caesar, he, in the consulship of Marcellinus
and Philippus, had made an expedition against the Veneti, who live near
the ocean. They had seized some Roman soldiers sent out for grain and
afterward detained the envoys who came to see about them, to the end
that in exchange they might get back their own hostages. Caesar, instead
of giving these back, sent out different bodies of troops in various
directions, some to waste the possessions of those who had joined the
revolt and thus to prevent the two bands from aiding each other, and
others to guard the possessions of those that were under treaty for fear
they too might cause some disturbance: he himself meanwhile went
straight against the Veneti. He constructed in the interior boats, which
he heard were of advantage for the reflux tide of the ocean, and
conveyed them down the river Liger, but in so doing used up almost the
entire season to no purpose. Their cities, established in strong
positions, were inaccessible, and the ocean surging around practically
all of them rendered an infantry attack out of the question, and a naval
attack equally so in the midst of the ebb and flow of the tide.
Consequently Caesar was in despair until Decimus Brutus came to him with
swift ships from the Mediterranean. And he was inclined to think he
would be unable to accomplish anything with those either, but the
barbarians through contempt for the smallness and weakness of the
cutters incurred defeat. [-41-] For these boats, with a view to rapid
progress, had been built rather light in the prevailing style of naval
architecture among us, whereas those of the barbarians, because in the
constant reflux of the ocean they often needed to rest on dry ground and
to hold out against the succession of ebb and flow, surpassed them very
much in both size and stoutness. For these reasons the barbarians, never
having had any experience with such a fleet, in view of the appearance
of the ships believed their effectiveness of no importance; and as soon
as they were lying at anchor they set sail against them, thinking to
sink them in a very short time by means of their boathooks. They were
carried by an extremely powerful wind, for their sails were of leather
and so received greedily the full force of the wind. [-42-] Now Brutus
for a time paid good heed to that fact and did not dare to sail out
against them because of the number and size of the ships and the sweep
of the wind and their impetus, but prepared to repel their attack near
the land and to abandon the boats altogether. When, however, the wind
suddenly fell, the waves were stilled, and the boats could no longer be
propelled even with oars but because of their great heaviness stopped
almost motionless, then he took courage and sailed to meet them. Falling
upon them he wrought them many serious injuries with impunity, using
both flank and smashing tactics,[55] now ramming one of them, now
backing water, in whatever way and as much as he liked, sometimes with
many vessels against one and again with equal numbers opposed,
occasionally even approaching safely with few against many. At whatever
point he was superior to them, there he stuck to them closely, and some
he sank by ripping them open, and others he boarded from all sides with
his mariners for a hand to hand conflict, thus slaughtering many. If he
found himself inferior at any place, he very easily retired, so that the
advantage rested with him in any case. [-43-] The barbarians did not use
archery and had not provided themselves beforehand with stones, not
expecting to have any need of them. Hence, if any one came into close
quarters with them, they fought him off after a fashion, but with those
that stood a little distance from them they knew not how to cope. So
they were wounded and killed, some being unable to repel any one, and
some of the boats were rammed and torn open, while others were set on
fire and burned; still others were drawn off in tow, as if empty of men.
The rest of the crews seeing this waited no longer: some killed
themselves to avoid being captured alive and others leaped into the sea
with the idea that from there they might board the hostile ships, or in
any event not perish at the hands of the Romans. In earnestness and
daring they were no whit inferior, but grieved terribly at being
betrayed by the stationary qualities of their vessels. The Romans, to
make sure that the wind when it sprang up again should not move the
ships, applied from a distance long poles fitted with knives, by means
of which they cut the ropes and split the sails. Through the
circumstance that the enemy were compelled to fight a kind of land
battle in their boats against a foe conducting a naval battle, great
numbers perished there and all the survivors were captured. Of these
Caesar slew the most prominent and sold the rest.

[-44-] Next he made a campaign against the Morini and Menapii, their
neighbors, expecting to terrify them by what he had already accomplished
and capture them easily. He failed, however, to subdue any of them. They
had no cities, living only in huts, and they conveyed their most valued
treasures to the ruggedest parts of the mountains, so that they did the
attacking parties of the Romans much more harm than they themselves
suffered. Caesar attempted by cutting down the forests to make his way
into the very mountains, but renounced his plan on account of their size
and the nearness of winter, and retired.

[-45-] While he was still in Venetia, Quintus Titurius Sabinus, his
lieutenant, was despatched against the Unelli, whose leader was
Viridovix. At first he was greatly terrified at their numbers and would
have been satisfied if only the camp should be saved, but later he
perceived that though this advantage made them bolder, they were not in
reality dangerous, and he took courage. Most of the barbarians, in fact,
in their threats make all sorts of terrible boasts that are without

Even so he did not dare to venture a passage of arms openly with them,
for they kept him in position by mere numbers, but induced them
recklessly to assault his rampart, though the site was on high ground.
He did this by sending about evening, as a deserter, one of his allies
who spoke their language, and persuaded them that Caesar had met with
reverses. Trusting this report they straightway started out heedlessly
against the Romans (for they were gorged with food and drink), in the
fear that they might flee before their arrival. Moreover, since their
plans contemplated not allowing even the fire-priest[56] to be saved
they brought along chips and logs, carrying some and dragging others,
with the evident intention of burning them alive. Thus they made their
attack up-hill and came climbing up eagerly, meeting with no resistance.
Sabinus did not move until the most of them were within his power. Then
he charged down upon them from all sides at once, and terrifying those
in front he dashed them all headlong down the hill, and while they were
upset, tumbling over one another and the logs, he cut them down to such
an extent that no one of them or of the others rose against him again.
For the Gauls, who are unreasonably insatiate in all respects alike,
know no limits in either their courage or their fear, but fall from the
one into unthinkable cowardice and from the other into headstrong

[-46-] About the same period, Publius Crassus, too, son of Marcus
Crassus, subjugated nearly all of Aquitania. The people are themselves
Gauls, and dwell next to Celtica, and their territory extends straight
along the Pyrenees to the ocean. Against these Crassus made his
campaign, conquering the Sotiates in battle and capturing them by siege.
He lost a few men, to be sure, by treachery in the course of a parley,
but defended them vigorously in this very action. On seeing some others
in a gathering with soldiers of Sertorius from Spain who carried on the
war with more strategy than recklessness, believing that the Romans
through lack of supplies would soon abandon the country, he pretended to
be afraid of them. Though incurring their contempt he did not even so
draw them into a conflict with him, but while they were calmly awaiting
developments he attacked them suddenly and unexpectedly. At the point
where he met them he accomplished nothing, because the barbarians
advanced and repelled him vigorously; but while their main force was
there, he sent some men around to the other side of their camp, got
possession of this, which was destitute of men, and passing through it
took the fighters in the rear. In this way they were all annihilated,
and the rest, all but a few, made terms without a murmur.

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

[-47-] This was the work of the summer. While the Romans were in winter
quarters on friendly ground the Tencteri and Usipetes, Celtic tribes,
partly because forced out by the Suebi and partly because called upon by
the Gauls, crossed the Rhine and invaded the country of the Treveri.
Finding Caesar there they became afraid and sent to him to make a truce,
asking for land or at least the permission to take some. When they could
obtain none, at first they promised voluntarily to return to their homes
and requested an armistice. Later their young men, seeing a few horsemen
of his approaching, despised them and altered their determination:
thereupon they stopped their journey, harassed the small detachment,
which would not await their attack, and elated over this success
continued the war.

[-48-] Their elders, condemning their action, came to Caesar even
contrary to their advice and asked him to pardon them, laying the
responsibility upon a few. He detained these emissaries with the
assurance that he would give them an answer before long, set out against
the other members of the tribe, who were in their tents, and came upon
them as they were passing the noon hour and expecting no hostile
demonstration, inasmuch as the delegation was with him.

Rushing into the tents[57] he found great numbers of infantrymen who did
not have time even to pick up their weapons, and he cut them down near
the wagons where they were disturbed by the presence of the women and
the children scattered promiscuously about. The cavalry was absent at
the time, and immediately, when the men learned of the occurrence, they
set out to their native abodes and retired among the Sugambri. He sent
after them and demanded their surrender, not because he expected that
they would give themselves up to him (the men beyond the Rhine were not
so afraid of the Romans as to listen to anything of that sort), but in
order that on this excuse he might cross the stream itself. He himself
was exceedingly anxious to do something that no one had previously
equaled, and he expected to keep the Celts at a distance from the Gauls
by invading the former's territory. When, therefore, the cavalry refused
to give themselves up, and the Ubii, whose land was coterminal with the
Sugambri and who were at variance with them, invoked his aid, he crossed
the river by bridging it. But on finding that the Sugambri had betaken
themselves into their strongholds and that the Suebi were gathering
apparently to come to their aid, he retired within twenty days.

[-49-] The Rhine issues from the Celtic Alps, a little outside of
Rhaetia, and proceeding westward, with Gaul and its inhabitants on the
left, it bounds the Celts on the right, and finally empties into the
ocean. This has always, even till now, been considered the boundary,
from which they came to the difference in names, since very anciently
both the peoples dwelling on each side of the river were called Celts.

[-50-] Caesar, then, first of Romans crossed the Rhine at this time, and
later in the consulship of Pompey and Crassus he traversed the channel
of Britain. This country is distant from the Belgic mainland, opposite
the Morini, three hundred and fifty stades at the shortest
computation,[58] and extends alongside the rest of Gaul and nearly all
of Spain, reaching out into the sea. To the very first of the Greeks and
Romans it was not even known; to their descendants it was a matter of
dispute whether it was a continent or an island. And its history was
written from both points of view by many who knew nothing about it,
because they had not seen with their own eyes nor heard from the natives
with their own ears, but indulged in guesses according as each had
leisure or fondness for talk. As time went on, first under Agricola as
propraetor and now under Severus as emperor, it has been clearly proven
to be an island.

[-51-] To this land then, Caesar, since he had won over the Morini and
the rest of Gaul was quiet, desired to cross. He made the voyage with
infantry by the most desirable course, but did not select the best
landing-place. For the Britons, having ascertained in advance that he as
sailing against them, had secured all the landings on the main coast.
Accordingly, he sailed around a kind of projecting headland and coasted
along on the other side of it. There he disembarked in shoal water,
conquered those who joined battle with him and got a footing on dry land
before more numerous assistance could come, after which he repulsed
their attack also. Not many of the barbarians fell, for they had chariot
drivers, and being mounted easily escaped the Romans whose cavalry had
not yet arrived; but alarmed at the reports about them from the mainland
and because they had dared to cross at all and had managed to set foot
upon the land, they sent to Caesar some of the Morini who were friends of
theirs, to see about terms of peace. On this occasion he demanded
hostages, which they were willing to give.[-52-] But as the Romans
meanwhile began to encounter difficulties by reason of a storm which
damaged their fleet that was present and also the one on the way, they
changed their minds and though not attacking the invaders openly (for
their camp was strongly guarded), they received some who had been sent
out to bring in provisions on the assumption that the country was
friendly, and destroyed them all, save a few, to whose rescue Caesar came
with speed. After that they assaulted the very camp of the invaders.
Here they accomplished nothing, but fared badly; they would not,
however, make terms until they had been often defeated. And Caesar
properly did not intend to make peace with them, but since the winter
was approaching and he was not equipped with a sufficient force to
continue fighting at that season, - moreover because his supplies had
failed and the Gauls in absence had begun an uprising, - he somewhat
unwillingly concluded a truce with them, demanding this time still more
hostages, but obtaining only a few.

[-53-] So he sailed back to the mainland and put an end to the
disturbances. From Britain he had won nothing for himself or for the
City except the glory of having conducted an expedition against that
land. But on this he prided himself greatly and the Romans at home
magnified it to a remarkable degree. Seeing that the formerly unknown
had become certain and the previously unheard of accessible, they
regarded the hope arising from these facts as already realized and
exulted over their expected achievements as if the latter were already
within their grasp.

[-54-] Hence they voted to celebrate a thanksgiving for twenty days: but
while that was taking place there was an uprising in Spain, which was
consequently assigned to Pompey's care. Some tribes had revolted and
obtained the help of the Vaccaei: while still unprepared they were
conquered by Metellus Nepos, but as he was besieging Clunia they
assailed him, proved themselves his superiors, and won back the city; at
another time they were beaten, though without being enslaved or anything
like it. In fact, they so far surpassed their opponents in numbers that
Nepos was glad to remain quiet and not run any risks.

[-55-] About this same time Ptolemy, although the Romans voted not to
assist him and were even now highly indignant at the bribery he had
instituted, was nevertheless restored and got back the kingdom. Pompey
and Gabinius effected this. So much power did official authority and
abundance have as against the decrees of the people and the senate that
when Pompey sent orders to Gabinius, then governor of Syria, the latter
immediately put his army in motion. So the former out of kindness and
the latter through corrupt influence restored the king contrary to the
wish of the commonwealth, paying no heed either to it or to the

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 12 of 30)