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

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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 2 of 30)
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Second, they pillaged even craft lying in harbors. If any one ventured
to put out against them, usually he was defeated and perished; but even
if he conquered he would be unable to capture any of the enemy by reason
of the speed of their ships. Accordingly, they would return after a
little, as if victors, to ravage and set in flames not only farms and
country districts, but also whole cities. But other places they
conciliated, so as to gain apparently friendly naval stations and winter

[-22-] As they progressed by these means it became customary for them to
go into the interior, and they did much mischief even among those who
had no sea-traffic. This is the way they treated not only those outside
of their body of allies, but the land of Italy itself. Believing that
they would obtain greater gains from that quarter and that they would
terrify all others still more, if they refused to hold their hands even
from that country, they sailed into the very harbor of Ostia, and also
of other cities in the vicinity, burned the ships and ravaged
everything. Finally, as no setback occurred, they took up their abode on
the land, disposing of whatever men they did not kill, and of the spoils
they took quite fearlessly, as if in their own territory. And though
some plundered in one region and others elsewhere, - it not being
possible for the same persons to do harm the whole length of the
sea, - they nevertheless showed such friendship one for another that they
sent money and assistance even to those entirely unknown, as if to
nearest kin. One of the largest elements in their strength was that
those who helped any of them all would honor, and those who came into
collision with any of them all would despoil.

[-23-] To such an extent did the supremacy of the pirates grow that
their hostility became a matter of moment, constant, admitting no
precaution, implacable. The Romans, of course, from time to time heard
and saw a little of what was going on, inasmuch as imports in general
ceased coming in and the corn supply was shut off entirely; but they
gave no serious attention to it when they ought. On the contrary, they
would send out fleets and generals, according as they were stirred by
individual reports, but effected nothing; instead, they caused their
allies all the greater distress by these very means, until they were
finally reduced to extremities. Then at last they came together and
deliberated many days as to what steps must be taken. Wearied by the
continued dangers and noting how great and far reaching was the war
raised against them, and believing, too, that it was impossible to
assail the pirates all at once or individually, because the latter gave
mutual assistance and it was impracticable to drive them back everywhere
at once, the people fell into a dilemma and into great despair of making
any successful stroke. In the end one Aulus Gabinius, a tribune, set
forth his plan: he was either prompted by Pompey or wished to do him
some favor; certainly he was not impelled by any love of the common
welfare, for he was the vilest of men: his plan was that they should
choose from among the ex-consuls one general with full powers over all,
who should command for three years and have the use of a huge force,
with many lieutenants. He did not actually utter the name of Pompey, but
it was easy to see that if once the multitude should hear of any such
proposition, they would choose him. [-24-] So it turned out. His motion
was carried and immediately all save the senate began to favor Pompey.
That body was in favor of enduring anything whatever at the hands of the
freebooters rather than to put so great command into Pompey's hands. In
fact they came near slaying Gabinius in the very halls of the senate,
but he eluded them somehow. When the people learned the intention of the
senators they raised an uproar, going to the point of making a rush at
them as they sat assembled: and if the elders had not gotten out of the
way, the populace would without doubt have killed them. They all
scattered and secreted themselves except Gaius Piso the consul (it was
in his year and Acilius's that these events took place), who was
arrested and condemned to perish for the others; but Gabinius begged him
off. After this the leading men themselves gladly held their peace on
condition of being allowed to live, but used influence on the nine
tribunes, to have them oppose Gabinius. All of the latter, however,
except a Lucius Trebellius and Lucius Roscius, out of fear of the
multitude would not say a word in opposition; and those two men, who had
the courage, were unable to redeem any of their promises by either word
or deed. For when the appointed day came on which the motion was to be
ratified, things went as follows.

Pompey, who was thoroughly anxious to command, and already by reason of
his own ambition and the zeal of the populace no longer so much regarded
this commission as an honor as the failure to win it a disgrace, seeing
the opposition of those in power had a wish to appear as if compulsion
were being used. In general he was as little as possible in the habit of
revealing his real desires, but still more on this occasion did he feign
reluctance, because of the ensuing jealousy, should he of his own accord
lay claim to the leadership, and because of the glory if he should be
appointed unwillingly as the one most worthy to command.

[-25-] He now came forward and said: "Quirites, I rejoice at the honor
laid upon me by you. All men naturally take pride in benefits conferred
upon them by the citizens, and I, who have often enjoyed honors at your
hands, scarcely know how to be worthily pleased at the present
contingency. However, I do not think that you should be so insatiable
with regard to my services, nor that I should incessantly be in some
position of command. For I have labored since childhood, and as you
know, you should be promoting others as well. Do you not recall how many
toils I underwent in the war against Cinna, though I was the veriest
youth, or how many labors in Sicily and in Africa before I had quite
reached the age of iuvenis, or how many dangers I encountered in Spain,
while I was not as yet a senator? I shall not say that you have shown
yourselves ungrateful toward me for all these labors. How could I? Quite
the reverse, in addition to the many other important favors of which you
have deemed me worthy, the very fact that I was trusted to undertake the
post of general against Sertorius, when no one else was either willing
or able, and that I held a triumph, contrary to custom, after resigning
it, brought me the greatest honor. I only say that I have undergone many
anxieties and many dangers, that I am worn out in body and wearied in
soul. Do not keep reckoning that I am still young, nor calculate that I
have lived just so many years. For if you count up the campaigns that I
have made and the dangers I have faced, you will find them far more in
number than my years, and by this means you will more readily believe
that I can no longer withstand the anxieties and the hardships."

[-26-] "Some one might possibly reply: 'But you see that all such
opportunities for toil are causes of jealousy and hatred.' This feature
you hold in no account - you ought not properly even to pretend to regard
it - but to me it would prove most grievous. And I must admit that I am
not so much disturbed or troubled by any danger to be encountered in the
midst of wars as by such exhibitions. For what person in his right mind
could take pleasure in living among men who are jealous of him, and who
would feel the heart to carry out any public enterprise, if destined in
case of failure to submit to punishment and if successful to be the
object of rancorous envy? In view of these and other considerations
allow me to remain at peace and attend to my own business, so that now
at last I may bestow some care upon my private affairs and not perish
from exhaustion. Against the pirates elect somebody else. There are many
who are both willing and able to serve as admirals, both younger and
older men, so that your choice from so numerous a company becomes easy.
Of course I am not the only one who loves you, nor am I alone skilled in
warfare, but - not seeming to favor any by mentioning names - equally so
is A or B."

[-27-] At this point in his harangue Gabinius, interrupting, cried:
"Pompey's behavior in this very matter, Quirites, is worthy of his
character. He does not seek the leadership, nor does he accept it
without thought when granted him. An upright man has no business,
generally speaking, to desire the annoyances incident to office, and it
is Pompey's way to undertake all tasks imposed upon him only with due
consideration, in order that he may accomplish them with corresponding
safety. Precipitation in promises and in action, more hasty than the
occasion demands, causes the downfall of many; but exactitude at the
start as well as in execution possesses a constant value and is to the
advantage of all. You must choose not what would satisfy Pompey, but
what is of benefit to the state. Not office seekers, but those who have
capacity should be appointed to the business in hand; the former exist
in very large numbers, but any other such man as my candidate you will
not find. You recall, further, how many reverses of a serious nature we
endured in the war against Sertorius through lack of a general, and that
we found no one else among young or old adapted to it except the man
before you; and that we sent him to the field in place of both consuls,
although at that time he had not yet reached a mature age and was not a
member of the senate. I should be glad if we did have many able men, and
if I ought to pray for such, I would so pray: since, however, this
ability does not depend on prayer or come of its own accord to any one,
but a man has to be born with a natural bent for it, to learn what is
pertinent and practice what is fitting and beyond everything to enjoy
good fortune, which would very rarely fall to the lot of the same man,
you must all unanimously, whenever such an one is found, both support
him and make the fullest use of him even if he does not wish it. Such
violence proves most noble both to him who exerts it and to him who
suffers it, - to the former because he would be preserved by it, and to
the latter because it would preserve the citizens, in whose behalf the
excellent and patriotic man would most readily give up both body and

[-28-] "Do you think that whereas this Pompey when a youth could conduct
campaigns, be general, increase our possessions, preserve those of our
allies, and acquire those of our adversaries, now, in the prime of life,
when every man fairly surpasses himself, with a mass of additional
experience gained from wars he could not prove most useful to you? Will
you reject, now that he has reached man's estate, him whom while iuvenis
you chose to lead? Will you not confide this campaign to the man, now
become a member of the senate, to whom while still a knight you
committed those wars? Will you not, now that you have most amply tested
his mettle, commit the present emergency, no less pressing than former
ones, to him for whom alone you asked in the face of those urgent
dangers ere you had applied any accurate test at all? Will you not send
out against the pirates one, now an ex-consul, whom before he could yet
properly hold office you elected against Sertorius? Rather, do not for a
moment adopt any other course; and Pompey, do you heed your country, and
me. By her you were borne, by her you were reared. You must be a slave
to whatever is for her advantage, not shrinking from any hardship or
danger to secure it. And should it become necessary for you to lose your
life, you must in that case not await your fated day but embrace
whatever death meets you. [-29-] But truly I am ridiculous to give you
this advice, - you who in so many great conflicts have exhibited both
your bravery and your love for your country. Heed me, therefore, and
these citizens here; do not fear because some are envious. Rather press
on all the more for this very reason to a goal which is the friendship
of the majority and the common advantage of us all, and scorn your
traducers. Or, if you are willing to grieve them a little, take command
for this very reason, that you may distress them by serving and winning
glory contrary to their expectations, and that you may in person set an
ending worthy of yourself beside your former accomplishments, by ridding
us of many great evils."

[-30-] When Gabinius had thus expressed himself, Trebellius strove to
make a dissenting speech; but as he did not receive leave to speak he
proceeded to oppose the casting of a vote. Gabinius was incensed, and
delayed the balloting regarding Pompey, but introduced a new motion
concerning the same man. The first seventeen tribes to register an
opinion decided that Trebellius was at fault and might be no longer
tribune. And not until the eighteenth was on the point of voting the
same way, was he barely induced to maintain silence. Roscius, seeing
this, did not dare utter a word, but by a gesture of his raised hand
urged them to choose two men, so that he might by so doing cut off a
little of Pompey's supremacy. At this gesticulation of his the crowd
gave a great threatening shout, whereat a crow flying above their heads
was so startled that it fell as if smitten by lightning. After that
Roscius kept not only his tongue but his hand still. Catulus was for
remaining silent, but Gabinius urged him to make some speech, inasmuch
as he ranked among the foremost in the senate and it seemed likely that
through his agency the rest might reach a harmonious decision; it was
Gabinius's hope, likewise, that he would join in approving the general
desire from the fact that he saw the tribunes in bad straits.
Accordingly Catulus received permission to speak, since all respected
and honored him as one who at all times spoke and acted for their
advantage, and delivered an address about as follows:

[-31-] "That I have been exceedingly zealous, Quirites, in behalf of
your body, all of you, doubtless, clearly understand. This being so, it
is requisite for me to set forth in simple fashion and quite frankly
what I know to be for the good of the State; and it is only fair for you
to listen to it calmly and afterward to deliberate. For, if you raise an
uproar, you will fail of obtaining some perhaps very useful suggestion
which you might have heard, but if you pay attention to what is said you
will be sure to discover definitely something to your advantage. I for
my part assert in the first place most emphatically that it is not
proper to confide to any one man so many positions of command, one after
another. This has been forbidden by law, and by test has been found to
be most perilous. What made Marius such a monster was practically
nothing else than being entrusted with so many wars in the briefest
space of time and being made consul six times as rapidly as possible:
and similarly the cause of Sulla's frenzy was that he held command of
the armies so many years in succession, and later was appointed
dictator, then consul. It does not lie in man's nature for a person, not
necessarily young but mature quite as often, after exercise in authority
for a considerable period to be willing to abide by ancestral
customs.[-32-] I do not say this in any spirit of condemnation of
Pompey, but because it does not appear at all advantageous to you on
general grounds, and further it is not permitted according to the laws.
For if an enterprise brings honor to those deemed worthy of it, all whom
that enterprise concerns ought to obtain honor; this is the principle of
democracy: and if it brings labor, all ought to share that labor
proportionately; this is mere equity.

"Again, in such an affair it is to your advantage for many individuals
to have practice in exploits, so that as a result of trial your choice
may be an easy one from among those who can be trusted for any urgent
business; but if you take that other course it is quite inevitable that
the scarcity should be great of those who will practice what they
should, and to whom interests can be trusted. This is the chief reason
why you were at a loss for a general in the war with Sertorius; previous
to that time you were accustomed to employ the same men for a long
period. Consequently, even if in all other respects Pompey deserves to
be elected against the pirates, still, inasmuch as he would be chosen
contrary to the injunction of the laws and to the principles laid down
by experience, it behooves both you and him most strongly that it be not

[-33-] "This is the first and most important point I have to mention.
Second arises the consideration, that when consuls and praetors and those
serving in their place can take offices and leaderships in a way
prescribed by the laws it is neither decent nor advantageous for you to
overlook them and introduce some new office. To what end do you elect
the annual officials, if you are going to make no use of them for such
businesses? Not, presumably, that they may stalk about in
purple-bordered togas, nor that endued with the name alone of the office
they may be deprived of its duties. How can you fail to alienate these
and all the rest who have a purpose to enter politics at all, if you
break down the ancient offices, and entrust nothing to those elected by
law, but assign a strange and previously non-existent position of
command to a private individual? [-34-] If there should be any necessity
of choosing, in addition to the annual officials, still another, there
is for this, too, an ancient precedent, - I mean the dictator. However,
because he held such power, our fathers did not appoint him on all
occasions nor for a longer period than six months. Accordingly, if you
need any such person, you may, without transgressing the laws or making
light of the common welfare, designate either Pompey or any one else
dictator, - on condition that he shall sway for not more than the time
ordained, nor outside of Italy. You doubtless are not ignorant that this
latter limitation, too, our fathers guarded scrupulously, and no
instance would be found of a dictator chosen for any other country,
except one sent to Sicily, and that without accomplishing anything. But
if Italy needs no such person and you would no longer endure, apart from
the functions of dictator, even the name (this is clear from your anger
against Sulla), how would it be right for a new position of command to
be created, and that, too, for three years and embracing practically all
interests both in Italy and without? What disasters come to cities from
such a course, and how many men on account of lawless lust for rule have
often disturbed our populace and done themselves countless evils, you
all alike understand.

[-35-] "About this, then, I shall say no more. Who can fail to know that
on general principles it is neither decent nor advantageous to commit
matters to any one man, or for any one man to be put in charge of all
the blessings we own, even if he be the best man conceivable? Great
honors and excessive powers excite and ruin even such persons. I ask
you, however, to consider my next assertion, - that it is not possible
for one man to preside over the entire sea and to manage the entire war
properly. You must, if you shall in the least do what is needful, make
war on them everywhere at once, so that they may neither unite, nor by
finding a refuge among those not attacked, become hard to capture. Any
one man who might be in command could by no manner of means accomplish
this. For how on about the same days could he fight in Italy and in
Cilicia, Egypt and Syria, Greece and Spain, in the Ionian Sea and the
islands? Consequently you need many soldiers and generals both, to take
matters in hand, if they are going to be of any use to you. [-36-] In
case any one declares that even if you confide the entire war to some
one person he will most certainly have plenty of admirals and
lieutenants, my reply would be: 'Would it not be much juster and more
advantageous for these men destined to serve under him to be chosen by
you beforehand for the very purpose and to receive an independent
command from you? What prevents such a course?' By this plan they will
pay more heed to the war, since each of them is entrusted with his own
particular share and cannot lay upon any one else the responsibility for
neglect of it, and there will be keener rivalry among them because they
are independent and will themselves get the glory for whatever they
effect. By the other plan what man do you think, subordinate to some one
else, will with equal readiness perform any duty, when the credit for
his victory will belong not to himself but to another?

"Accordingly, that one man could not at one time carry on so great a war
has been admitted on the part of Gabinius himself, in that he asks for
many helpers to be given to whomever is elected. Our final consideration
is whether actual commanders or assistants should be sent, and whether
they should be despatched by the entire populace, or by the commandant
alone for his assistance. Every one of you would agree that my
proposition is more law-abiding in all respects, and not merely in
reference to the case of the freebooters. Aside from that, notice how it
looks for all our offices to be overthrown on the pretext of 'pirates'
and for no one of them either in Italy or in subject territory during
this time ..." [8]

[-37-] ... and of Italy in place of consul for three years, they
assigned to him fifteen lieutenants and voted all the ships, money and
armaments that he might wish to take. These measures as well as the
others which the senate decided to be necessary to their effectiveness
in any given case that body ratified even against its will. Its action
was prompted more particularly by the fact that when Piso refused to
allow the subordinate officers to hold enlistments in Gallia
Narbonensis, of which he was governor, the populace was furiously
enraged and would straightway have cast him out of office, had not
Pompey begged him off. So after making preparations as the business and
his judgment demanded he patrolled at one time the whole stretch of sea
that the pirates were troubling, partly himself and partly through the
agency of his under officers, and subdued the greater part of it that
very year. For whereas the force that he directed was vast both in point
of fleet and in point of heavy-armed infantry, so that he was
irresistible both on sea and on land, his kindness to those who made
terms with him was equally vast, so that he won over great numbers by
such procedure. Persons defeated by his troops who made trial of his
clemency went over to his side very readily. For besides other ways in
which he took care of them he would give them any lands he saw vacant
and cities that needed inhabitants, in order that they might never again
through poverty fall into need of criminal exertions. Among the other
cities settled in this way was the one called in commemoration
Pompeiopolis. It is in the coast region of Cilicia and had been sacked
by Tigranes. Soli was its original name.

[-38-] Besides these events in the year of Acilius and Piso, an
ordinance directed at men convicted of bribery regarding offices was
framed by the consuls themselves, to the effect that no one of those
involved should either hold office or be a senator, and should
furthermore be subject to a fine. For now that the power of the tribunes
had returned to its ancient state, and many of the persons whose names
had been stricken off by the censors were aspiring to get back the rank
of senator by one means or another, a great many political unions and
combinations were formed aiming at all the offices. The consuls took
this course not because they were angry at the affair - they themselves
were shown to have been actively engaged, and Piso, who was indicted by
several persons on this charge, escaped being brought to trial only by
purchasing exemption - but because pressure had been exerted by the
senate. The reason for this was that one Gaius Cornelius, while tribune,
undertook to lay very severe penalties upon such unions, and the
populace sided with him. The senate, being aware that an excessive
punishment threatened has some deterrent force, but that men are then
not easily found to accuse or condemn the guilty, since the latter will
be in desperate danger, whereas moderation stimulates many to
accusations and does not divert condemnations, was desirous of

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 2 of 30)