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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 27 of 30)
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that they might be free and independent and be governed rightly. By
speaking such words they calmed the majority, especially since they
injured no one. Fearing for all that that somebody might concert
measures against them the conspirators ascended the Capitoline with the
avowed intention of offering prayer to the gods, and there they spent
the day and night. And at evening they were joined by some of the other
prominent men who had not shared in the plot, but were anxious, when
they saw the perpetrators praised, to secure the glory of it, as well as
the prizes which those concerned expected. With great justice the affair
happened to turn out the opposite way: they did not secure any
reputation for the deed because they had not been partakers of it in any
way, but they shared the danger which fell upon the ones who committed
it just as much as if they themselves had been the plotters.

[-22-] Seeing this, Dolabella likewise did not see fit to keep quiet,
but entered upon the consular office though it did not yet belong to
him, and after a short speech to the people on the situation ascended
the Capitol. While affairs were in this condition Lepidus, learning what
had taken place, by night occupied the Forum with his soldiers and at
dawn delivered a speech against the assassins. Antony immediately after
Caesar's death had fled, casting away his robe of office in order to
escape notice, and had concealed himself through the night. When,
however, he ascertained that the assassins were on the Capitol and
Lepidus in the Forum, he assembled the senate in the precinct of Tellus
and brought forward the business of the hour for deliberation. Some said
one thing, some another, as each of them thought about it: Cicero, whose
advice they followed, spoke to this effect: -

[-23-] "On every occasion I think no one ought to say anything merely
for the sake of winning favor or to show his spite, but to reveal just
what the man in each case thinks to be the best. We demand that those
who are praetors or consuls shall do everything from upright motives, and
if they make any errors we demand an account from them even if their
slip was accidental; and it will be unbearable if in debates, where we
are complete masters of our own opinion, we shall abandon the common
welfare with a view to private advantage. For this reason, Conscript
Fathers, I have always thought that I ought to advise you on all matters
with simplicity and justice, but especially under the present
circumstances, when, if without being over-captious we come to an
agreement, we shall be preserved ourselves and enable all the rest to
survive, but if we wish to examine everything minutely, I fear ill
fortune - but at the very opening of my address I do not wish to say
anything displeasing. [-24-] Formerly, not very long ago, those who had
arms usually also got control of the government and consequently issued
orders to you as to the subjects on which you must deliberate, but you
could not look forward and see what it was proper for them to do. But
now practically all conditions are so favorably placed that the matter
is in your hands and the responsibility rests upon you; and from your
own selves you may obtain either concord and with it liberty, or
seditions and civil wars again and a master at the close of them.
Whatever you decide to-day all the rest will follow. This being the
state of the case as I see it, I declare that you ought to abandon your
mutual enmities or jealousies or whatever name should be applied to
them, and return to that ancient condition of peace and friendship and
harmony. For you should remember this, if nothing else, that so long as
we enjoyed that kind of government, we acquired lands, fortunes, glory
and allies, but ever since we were led into abusing one another, so far
from growing better we have become decidedly worse off. I am so firmly
convinced that nothing else at present could save the city that if we do
not to-day, at once, with all possible speed, adopt some policy, we
shall never be able to regain our position.

[-25-] "Notice carefully that I am speaking only the truth, of which you
may convince yourselves if you regard present conditions and then
consider our position in old times. Do you not see what is taking
place, - that the populace is again being divided and torn asunder and
that, some choosing this side, and some that, they have already fallen
into two parties and two camps, that the one side has taken timely
possession of the Capitol as if they feared the Gauls or somebody, and
the other side with headquarters in the Forum is preparing to besiege
them and so behaving like Carthaginians, and not as though they too were
Romans? Do you not hear that though formerly citizens often differed,
even to the extent of occupying the Aventine once, and the Capitol, and
some of them the Sacred Mount, as often as they were reconciled one with
another on equal terms (or by yielding but a small point) they at once
stopped hating one another, to live the rest of their lives in such
peace and harmony that in common they carried through successfully many
great wars? As often, on the other hand, as they had recourse to murders
and assassinations, the one side deceived by the justification of
defending themselves against the encroachments of the other, and the
other side by an ambition to appear to be inferior to none, no good ever
came of it. Why need I waste time by repeating to you, who know them
equally well, the names of Valerius, Horatius, Saturninus, Glaucia, the
Gracchi? With such examples before you, not of foreign origin but native
to this land, do not hesitate to strive after the right course and guard
against the wrong. Having from the events of history received a proof of
the outcome of the situation on which you are deliberating, regard my
exhortation no longer as mere words but believe that the welfare of the
community is at stake this instant. Do not for any doubtful theory cast
away the certainty of hope, but trusting to a reliable pledge secure in
advance a sure result for your calculations.

[-26-] "It is in your power, if you receive this evidence that I
mentioned from your own land and your own ancestors, to decide rightly.
And this is why I did not wish to cite instances from abroad, though I
might have mentioned countless of them. One instance, nevertheless, I
will offer from the best and most ancient city from which our fathers
did not disdain to introduce certain laws; for it would be a disgrace
for us who so far surpass the Athenians in strength and sense, to
deliberate less well than they. They were once - of course you all know
this - at variance, and as a result were overcome in war by the
Lacedaemonians and endured a tyranny of the more powerful citizens; and
they did not obtain a respite from evils until they made a compact and
agreement to forget their past injuries, though many and severe, and
never to allow a single reproach because of them or to bear malice
against any one. Now when they had attained such a degree of wisdom,
they not only ceased enduring tyrannies and seditions, but flourished in
every way, regaining their city, laying claim to the sovereignty of the
Greeks, and finally becoming powerful enough to decide frequently on the
preservation or destruction both of the Lacedaemonians themselves and of
the Thebans. Now notice, that if those men who seized Phyle and came
home from the Peirseus had chosen to take vengeance on the city party
for wrongs suffered, they would, to be sure, have seemed to have
performed a justifiable action, but they would have undergone, as well
as have caused, many evils. Just as they exceeded their hopes by
defeating their foes, they might perhaps themselves have been in turn
unexpectedly worsted. [-27-] In such matters there is nothing sure, and
one does not necessarily gain the mastery as a result of being strong,
but vast numbers who were confident have failed and vast numbers who
were looking to defeat somebody have perished before they could strike.
The party that is overreached in any transaction is not bound to be
fortunate just because it is wronged, nor is the party which has the
greater power bound to be successful just because it surpasses, but both
are equally subservient to human uncertainty and the mutability of
fortune, and the issue they secure is often not in accordance with the
favorable prognostications of the one side, but proves to be what the
other actually dared not expect. As a result of this, and of intense
rivalry (for man is strongly given when wronged or believing himself
wronged to become beyond measure bold) many are on many occasions
inspired to undergo dangers even beyond their strength, with the
determination to conquer or at least not to perish utterly without
having shed some blood. So it is that partly conquering and partly
defeated, sometimes gaining the mastery over others and again falling
prostrate themselves, some are altogether annihilated and others gain a
Cadmean victory, as it is called, and at a time when the knowledge can
avail them nothing they perceive that their plans were ill drawn.

[-28-] "That this is so you also have learned by experience. Consider,
Marius for some time had power in seditions; then he was driven out,
collected a force, and accomplished what you know. Likewise Sulla - not
to speak of Cinna or Strabo or the rest who intervene - influential at
first, then subdued, then making himself ruler, authorized every
possible terrible severity."

After that Lepidus, evidently with the intention of following in their
footsteps, instituted a kind of sedition of his own and stirred nearly
the whole of Italy. When we at last got rid of him too, remember what we
suffered from Sertorius and from the exiles with him. What did Pompey,
what did this Caesar himself do? - not to mention here Catiline or
Clodius. Did they not at first fight against each other, and that in
spite of their relationship, and then fill full of countless evils not
only our own city or even the rest of Italy, but practically the entire
world? Well, after Pompey's death and that great destruction of the
citizens, did any quiet appear? Whence could it? By no means. Africa
knows, Spain knows the multitudes who perished in each of those lands.
What then? Did we have peace after this? How is it possible, when Caesar
himself lies slain in this fashion, the Capitol is occupied, all through
the Forum arms are seen, and throughout the city fear exists? [-29-] In
this way, when men begin a seditious career and seek ever to repay
violence with violence and inflict vengeance without care for propriety,
without care for human limitations, but according to their desires and
the power that arms give them, there necessarily arises in each such
case a kind of circle of ills, and alternate requitals of outrages take
place. The fortunate party abounds in insolence and sets no limits to
the advantage it may take, and the party that is crushed, if it does not
perish immediately, rages at the disaster and is eager to take vengeance
on the oppressor, until it sate its wrath. Then the remainder of the
multitude, even if it has not been previously involved in the
transactions, now through pity of the beaten and envy of the victorious
side, co√ґperates with the former, fearing that it may suffer the same
evils as the downtrodden element and hoping that it may win the same
success as the force temporarily in the ascendant. Thus the portion of
the citizens that is not concerned is brought into the dispute and one
class takes the evil up against another, through pretence of avenging
the side which is for the moment at a disadvantage, as if they were
repelling a regular, everyday danger; and individually they free
themselves from it, but they ruin the community in every way. [-30-] Do
you not see how much time we have lost in fighting one another, how many
great evils we have endured meanwhile, and, what is worse than that,
inflicted? And who could count the vast mass of money of which we have
stripped our allies and robbed the gods, which furthermore we have
contributed ourselves from what we did not possess, and then expended it
against one another? Or who could number the mass of men that have been
lost, not only of ordinary persons (that is beyond computation) but of
knights and senators, each one of whom was able in foreign wars to
preserve the whole city by his life and death? How many Curtii, how many
Decii, Fabii, Gracchi, Marcelli, Scipiones have been killed? Not, by
Jupiter, to repel Samnites or Latins or Spaniards or Carthaginians, but
only to perish themselves in the end. And for those under arms who died,
no matter how deep sorrow one might feel for them, there is less reason
to lament. They entered the battles as volunteers, if it is proper to
call volunteers men compelled by fear, and they met even if an unjust at
least a brave death, in an equal struggle; and in the hope that they
might even survive and conquer they fell without grieving. But how might
one mourn as they deserve those who were pitiably destroyed in their
houses, in the roads, in the Forum, in the senate-chamber even, on the
Capitol even, by violence - not only men but also women, not only those
in their prime, but also old men and children? And after subjecting one
another to so many of these reprisals of such a nature as all our
enemies put together never inflicted upon us (nor were we ever the
authors of anything similar to them), so far from loathing such acts and
manfully wishing to have done with them, we rejoice and hold festivals
and term those who are guilty of them benefactors. Honestly, I cannot
deem this life that we have been leading human; it is rather that of
wild beasts which are consumed by one another.

[-31-] "For what is definitely past, however, why should we lament
further? We cannot now prevent its having happened. Let us fix our
attention upon the future. That is, indeed, the reason why I have been
mentioning former events, not for the purpose of giving a list of
national calamities which ought never to have occurred, but that by
exhibiting them I might persuade you to preserve at least what is left.
This is the only benefit one can derive from evils, - to guard against
ever again enduring anything similar. This is most within your power at
the present moment, while the danger is just beginning, while not many
have yet united, and those who are unruly have gained no advantage over
one another nor suffered any setback, so that by hope of superiority or
anger at inferiority they are led to enter danger heedlessly and
contrary to their own interests. Still, in this great work you will be
successful without undergoing any toil or danger, without spending money
or ordering murders, but simply by voting just this, that no malice
shall be borne on the part of any. [-32-] Even if any errors have been
committed by certain persons, this is not a time to enquire carefully
into them, nor to convict, nor to punish. You are not at the moment
sitting in judgment over any one, that you should need to search out
what is just with absolute accuracy, but you are deliberating about the
situation that has arisen and how the excitement may in the safest way
be allayed. This is something we could not bring about, unless we should
overlook some few things, as we are wont to do in the case of children.
When dealing with them we do not take all matters carefully into
account, and many things we of necessity overlook. For venial sins it is
not right to chastise them remorselessly, but rather to admonish them
gently. And now, since we are not only named fathers of all the people
in common, but are in reality such, let us not enter into a discussion
of all the fine points, lest we all incur ruin; for anybody could find
much fault with Caesar himself so that he would seem to have been justly
slain, or again might bring heavy charges against those that killed him,
so that they would be thought to deserve punishment. But such action is
for men who are anxious to arouse seditions again. It is the task of
those who deliberate rightly not to cause their own hurt by meting out
exact justice, but to win preservation by a use at the same time of
clemency. Accordingly, think of this that has happened as if it had been
a kind of hail storm or deluge that had taken place and give it to
forgetfulness. Now, if never before, gain a knowledge of one another,
since you are countrymen and citizens and relatives, and secure harmony.

[-33-] "Now, that none of you may suspect that I wish to grant any
indulgence to Caesar's assassins to prevent their paying the penalty,
just because I was once a member of Pompey's party, I will state one
fact to you. I think that all of you are firmly of the opinion that I
have never adopted an attitude of friendship or hostility toward any one
for purely personal reasons, but it was always for your sake and for the
public freedom and harmony that I hated the one class and loved the
other. For this reason I will pass over the rest that might be said, and
make merely a brief statement to you. I am so far from doing this that I
mentioned and not looking out for the public safety, that I affirm the
others, too, should be granted immunity for their high-handed acts,
contrary to established law, in Caesar's lifetime, and they ought to keep
the honors, offices, and gifts which they received from him, though I am
not pleased with some of them. I should not advise you to do or to grant
anything further of the kind: but since it has been done, I think you
ought not to be troubled overmuch about any of these matters. For what
loss so far-reaching could you sustain if A or B holds something that he
has obtained outside of just channels and contrary to his deserts as the
benefit you could attain by not causing fear or disturbance to men who
were formerly of influence?

"This is what I have to say for the present, in the face of pressing
need. When feeling has subsided, let us then consider any remaining
subjects of discussion."

[-34-] Cicero by the foregoing speech persuaded the senate to vote that
no one should bear malice against any one else. While this was being
done the assassins also promised the soldiers that they would not undo
any of Caesar's acts. They perceived that the military was mightily ill
at ease for fear it should be deprived of what he had given it, and so
they made haste, before the senate reached any decision whatever, to
anticipate the others' wishes. Next they invited those who were present
there down below to come within hearing distance, and conversed with
them on matters of importance; as a result of the conference they sent
down a letter to the Forum announcing that they would take nothing away
from anybody nor do harm in other ways, and that the validity of all
acts of Caesar was confirmed. They also urged a state of harmony, binding
themselves by the strongest oaths that they would be honest in
everything. When, therefore, the decisions of the senate also were made
known, the soldiers no longer held to Lepidus nor did the others have
any fear of him, but hastened to become reconciled, - chiefly at the
instance of Antony, - quite contrary to his intention. Lepidus, making a
pretence of vengeance upon Caesar, was anxious to institute a revolution
and as he had legions at his command he expected that he would succeed
to his position as ruler and gain the mastery; these were his motives in
endeavoring to further a conflict. Antony, as he perceived his rival's
favorable situation and had not himself any force at his back, did not
dare to adopt any revolutionary measures for the time being, and
furthermore he persuaded Lepidus (to prevent his becoming greater) to
bow to the will of the majority. So they came to terms on the conditions
that had been voted, but those on the Capitol would not come down till
they had secured the son of Lepidus and the son of Antony to treat as
hostages; then Brutus descended to Lepidus, to whom he was related, and
Cassius to Antony, being assured of safety. While dining together they
naturally, at such a juncture, discussed a variety of topics and Antony
asked Cassius: "Have you perhaps got some kind of dagger under your arm
even now?" To which he answered: "Yes, and a big one, if you too should
desire to play the tyrant."

[-35-]This was the way things went at that time. No damage was inflicted
or expected, and the majority were glad to be rid of Caesar's rule, some
of them even conceiving the idea of casting his body out unburied. The
conspirators well pleased did not undertake any further superfluous
tasks and were called "liberators" and "tyrranicides." Later his will
was read and the people learned that he had made Octavius his son and
heir and had left Antony, Decimus, and some of the other assassins to be
the young man's guardians and inheritors of the property in case it
should not come to him, and furthermore that he had directed various
bequests to be given to different persons, and to the city the gardens
along the Tiber, as well as thirty denarii (according to the record of
Octavius himself) or seventy-five according to some others, to each of
the citizens. This news caused an upheaval and Antony fanned the flames
of their resentment by bringing the body most inconsiderately[112] into
the Forum and exposing it covered with blood as it was and with gaping
wounds. There he delivered over it a speech, in every way beautiful and
brilliant but not suited to the state of the public mind at that time.
His words were about as follows: -

[-36-] "If this man had died as a private citizen, Quirites, and I had
happened to be a private citizen, I should not have needed many words
nor have rehearsed all his achievements, but after making a few remarks
about his family, his education, and his character, and possibly
mentioning some of his services to the state, I should have been
satisfied and should have refrained from becoming wearisome to those not
related to him. But since this man has perished while holding the
highest position among you and I have received and hold the second, it
is requisite that I should deliver a twofold address, one as the man set
down as his heir and the other in my capacity as magistrate. I must not
omit anything that ought to be said but speak what the whole people
would have chanted with one tongue if they could have obtained one
voice. I am well aware that it is difficult to hit your precise
sentiments. Especially is it no easy task to treat matters of such
magnitude, - what speech could equal the greatness of the deeds? - and
you, whose minds are insatiable because of the facts that you know
already, will not prove lenient judges of my efforts. If the speech were
being made among men ignorant of the subject, it would be very easy to
content them, for they would be startled by such great deeds: but as the
matter stands, through your familiarity with the events, it is
inevitable that everything that shall be said will be thought less than
the reality. Outsiders, even if through jealousy they should distrust
it, yet for that very reason must deem each statement they hear strong
enough: but your gathering, influenced by good-will, must inevitably
prove impossible to satisfy. You yourselves have profited most by
Caesar's virtues and you demand his praises not half-heartedly, as if he
were no relation, but out of deep affection as one of your very own. I
shall strive therefore to meet your wishes to the fullest extent, and I
feel sure that you will not criticise too closely my command of words or
conception of the subject, but will, out of your kindness of heart, make
up whatever is lacking in that respect.

[-37-] "I shall speak first about his lineage, though not because it is
very brilliant. Yet this too has considerable bearing on the nature of
excellence, that a man should have become good not through force of
circumstances but by inherent power. Those not born of noble parents may
disguise themselves as honest men but may also some day be convicted of
their base origin by innate qualities. Those, however, who possess the
seed of honesty, descending through a long line of ancestors, cannot
possibly help having an excellence which is of spontaneous growth and
permanent. Still, I do not now praise Caesar chiefly because he was
sprung from many noble men of recent times and kings and gods of ancient
days, but because in the first place he was a kinsman of our whole
city, - we were founded by the men that were his ancestors, - and secondly
because he not only confirmed the renown of his forefathers who were



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 27 of 30)