Julius Caesar.

Cæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: online

. (page 25 of 59)
Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 25 of 59)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

siderable distance from his troops, he, on a sudden, appealed
to the honor of all about him for assistance not to suffer the
wound, which he had perfidiously received, to go without
vengeance; and, wheeling his horse about, rode unguardedly
before the rest up to the commander. All his horse following
his example, made a few of our men turn their backs and
pursued them. Comius, clapping spurs to his horse, rode up
to Volusenus, and, pointing his lance, pierced him in the
thigh with great force. When their commander was wounded,
our men no longer hesitated to make resistance, and, facing
about, beat back the enemy. When this occurred, several of
the enemy, repulsed by the great impetuosity of our men, were
wounded, and some were trampled to death in striving to
escape, and some were made prisoners. Their general escaped
this misfortune by the swiftness of his horse. Our commander,
being severely wounded, so much so that he appeared to run
the risk of losing his life, was carried back to the camp. But
Comius, having either gratified his resentment, or, because he
had lost the greatest part of his followers, sent embassadors to
Antonius, and assured him that he would give hostages as a
security that he would go wherever Antonius should prescribe,
and would comply with his orders, and only entreated that this
concession should be made to his fears, that he should not be
obliged to go into the presence of any Roman. As Antonius
judged that his request originated in a just apprehension, he
indulged him in it and accepted his hostages.

Caesar, I know, has made a separate commentary of each
year's transactions, which I have not thought it necessary for me
to do, because the following year, in which Lucius Paulus and
Caius Marcellus were consuls, produced no remarkable occur-
rences in Gaul. But that no person may be left in ignorance
of the place where Caesar and his army were at that time, I
have thought proper to write a few words in addition to this


CHAP. XLIX. Caesar, while in -winter quarters in the
counfty of the Belgae, made it his only business to keep the
states in amity with him, and to give none either hopes of, or
pretext for a revolt. For nothing was further from his wishes
than to be under the necessity of engaging in another war at
his departure ; lest, when he was drawing his army out of
the country, any war should be left unfinished, which the Gauls
would cheerfully undertake, when there was no immediate
danger. Therefore, by treating the states with respect, making
rich presents to the leading men, imposing no new burdens,
and making the terms of their subjection lighter, he easily
kept Gaul (already exhausted by so many unsuccessful battles)
in obedience.

CHAP. L. When the winter quarters were broken up he
himself, contrary to his usual practice, proceeded to Italy, by
the longest possible stages, in order to visit the free towns
and colonies, that he might recommend to them the petition
of Marcus Antonius, his treasurer, for the priesthood. For
]ie exerted his interest both cheerfully in favor of a man
strongly attached to him, whom he had sent home before
him to attend the election, and zealously to oppose the faction
and power of a few men, who, by rejecting Marcus Antonius,
wished to undermine Caesar's influence when going out of
office. Though Caesar heard on the road, before he reached
Italy that he was created augur, yet he thought himself in
honor bound to visit the free towns and colonies, to return
them thanks for rendering such service to Antonius by their
presence in such great numbers [at the election], and at the
same time to recommend to them himself, and his honor in
his suit for the consulate the ensuing year For his adversaries
arrogantly boasted that Lucius Lentulus and Caius Marcellus
had been appointed consuls, who would strip Caesar of all
honor and dignity : and that the consulate had been in-
juriously taken from Sergius Galba, though he had been much
superior in votes and interest, because he was united to Caesar,
both by friendship, and by serving as lieutenant under him.

CHAP. LL Caesar, on his arrival, was received by the
principal towns and colonies with incredible respect and affec-
tion ; for this was the first time he came since the war against
united Gaul. Nothing was omitted which could be thought
of for the ornament of the gates, roads, and every place
through which Caesar was to pass. All the people with their


children went out to meet him. Sacrifices were offered up in
every quarter. The market places and temples were laid out
with entertainments, as if anticipating the joy of a most splen-
did triumph. So great was the magnificence of the richer
and zeal of the poorer ranks of the people.

CHAP. IH. When Caesar had gone through all the states
of Cisalpine Gaul, he refurned with the greatest haste to the
army at Nemetocenna ; and having ordered all his legions
to march from winter quarters to the territories of the Treviri,
he went thither and reviewed them. He made Titus Labienus
governor of Cisalpine Gaul, that he might be the more inclmed
to support him in his suit for the consulate. He himself made
such journeys as he thought would conduce to the health of
his men by change of air ; and though he was frequently told
that Labienus was solicited by his enemies, and was assured that
a scheme was in agitation by the contrivance of a few, that the
senate should interpose their authority to deprive him of a part
of his army ; yet he neither gave credit to any story concern-
ing Labienus, nor could be prevailed upon to do any thing in
opposition to the authority of the senate ; for he thought that his
cause would be easily gained by the free voice of the senators.
For Caius Curio, one of the tribunes of the people, having
undertaken to defend Caesar's cause and dignity, had often
proposed to the senate, " that if the dread of Caesar's arms
rendered any apprehensive, as Pompey's authority and arms
were no less formidable to the forum, both should resign
their command, and disband their armies. That then the
city would be free, and enjoy its due rights." And he not
only proposed this, but of himself called \\pon the senate to
divide on the question. But the consuls and Pompey's friends
interposed to prevent it ; and regulating matters as they desired,
they broke up the meeting.

CHAP. LIIL This testimony of the unanimous voice of
the senate was very great, and consistent with their former
conduct; for the preceding year, when Marcellus attacked
Caesar's dignity, he proposed to the senate, contrary to the
law of Pompey and Crassus, to dispose of Caesar's province,
before the expiration of his command, and when the votes were
called for, and Marcellus, who endeavored to advance his own
dignity, by raising envy against Caesar, wanted a division, the
full senate went over to the opposite side. The spirit of



Caesar's foes was not broken by this, but it taught them, that
they 'ought to strengthen their interest by enlarging their
connections, so as to force the senate to comply with whatever
they had resolved on.

CHAP. LIV. After this a decree was passed by the senate,
that one legion should be sent by Pompey, and another by"
Csesar, to the Parthian war. But these two legions were
evidently drawn from Csesar alone. For the first legion which
Pompey sent to Caesar, he gave Caesar, as if it belonged to
himself, though it was levied in Caesar's province. Caesar,
however, though no one could doubt the design of his enemies,
sent the legion back to Cneius Pompey, and in compliance with
the decree of the senate, ordered the fifteenth, belonging to
himself, and which was quartered in Cisalpine Gaul, to be
delivered up. In its room he sent the thirteenth into Italy, to
protect the garrisons from which he had drafted the fifteenth.
He disposed his army in winter quarters, placed Caius Tre-
bonius, with four legions among the Belgae, and detached Caius
Fabius, with four more, to the ^Edui; for he thought that
Gaul would be most secure, if the Belgae, a people of the
greatest valor, and the ^Edui, who possessed the most
powerful influence, were kept in awe by his armies.

CHAP. LV. He himself set out for Italy ; whore he was
informed on his arrival, that the two legions sent home by
him, and which by the senate's decree, should have been sent
to the Parthian war, had been delivered over to Pompey, by
Caius Marcellus the consul, and were retained in Italy.
Although from this transaction it was evident to every one
that war was designed against Caesar, yet he resolved to submit
to any thing, as long as there were hopes left of deciding the
dispute in an equitable manner, rather than to have recourse to







I. The various causes and origin of the civil war. VIII. Caesar makes him-
self master of Italy with great ease, owing to the municipal towns
being devoted to his interests. XXV. He besieges Pompey at Brun-
dusium. XXVIH. The latter effects his escape, and the town sur-
renders. XXX. Caesar's partisans expel Cotta from Sardinia, And
Cato from Sicily. XXXII. Csesar sets out for Rome. XXXIII. But
the plans, which he had in contemplation, being immature, he proceeds
into Transalpine Gaul, XXXVI. With the intention of besieging Mas-
silia by land and sea. XXXVII. He previously sends Fabius, one of
Ms lieutenants, into Spain. XXXLX. He follows in person, leaving
Cains Trebonius, and Decimus Brutus, to besiege MassJia, XLI. Ana
carries on war against Afranius and Petreius, Pompey's lieutenants, in
the vicinity of Ilerda. XLVIH. Caesar is hemmed in between the
Segre and Cinca, in consequence of a violent storm, which sweeps
awav the bridges over these rivers. LIV. Nevertheless, he surmounts
all Ms difficulties. LVI. In the meantime, the inhabitants of Massilia
are conquered in a naval battle. LIX. Caesar henceforth is successful
in all his operations in Spain. LXIII. He follows the enemy closely in
all their marches and countermarches, and by his cavalry, prevents
them from foraging, LXXXI. And at length intercepts them, and
compels them to surrender.


I WILL now say nothing .concerning the absurd opinion of
those who assert that the following Commentaries on the Civil
War were not written by Csesar himself. Even without the
authority of Suetonius, the diction itself would be sufficient to
convince the most skeptical that Caesar and no other was the
author. I am of the opinion of those who think that the
beginning of these Commentaries is lost. For I can not be
convinced that Caesar commenced so abruptly ; and History
itself gives sufficient evidence that many circumstances
required to be previously stated. For which reason we


thought that it would bo well worth our attention to compile
from Plutarch, Appian, and Dion, a narrative of such facts
as seemed necessary to fill up the chasm ; these facts are as
follows :

"When Caesar, after reducing all Transalpine Gaul, had
passed into Cisalpine Gaul, he determined for many reasons to
send embassadors to Rome to request for him the consulate, and
a proolongation of the command of his province. Pompey,
who was estranged from Caesar, although he was not as yet
at open enmity with him, determined neither to aid him by his
influence nor openly oppose him on this occasion. But
the consuls Lentulus and Marcellus, who had previously been
on unfriendly terms with Csesar, resolved to use all means in
their power to prevent him from gaining his object. Marcellus
in particular did not hesitate to offer Csesar other insults.
Ca3sar had lately planned the colony of Novumcomum in Gaul :
Marcellus, not content with taking from it the light of citizen-
ship, ordered the principal man of the colony to be arrested
and scourged at Rome, and sent him to make his complaints
to Caesar : an insult of this description had never before been
offered to a Roman citizen. WJiile these transactions are
taking place, Caius Curio, tribune of the commons, comes to
Caesar in his province. Curio had made many and energetic
struggles, in behalf of the republic and Caesar's cause : at
length when he perceived that all his efforts were vain, he fled
through fear of his adversaries, and informed Caesar of all the
transactions that had taken place, and of the efforts made by
his enemies to crush him. Ca?sar received Curio with great
kindness, as he was a man of the highest rank, and had great
claims on himself and the republic, and thanked him warmly
for his numerous personal favors. But Curio, as war was
being openly prepared against Cgesar, advised him to con-
centrate his troops, and rescue the republic now oppressed by
a few daring men. Caesar, although he was not ignorant of
the real state of affairs, was however of opinion that particular
regard should be paid to the tranquillity of the republic, lest
any one should suppose that he was the originator of the war.
Therefore, through his friends, he made this one request, that
two legions, and the province of Cisalpine Gaul, and Illy-
ricum, should be left him. All these acts were performed by
Caesar, with the hope that his enemies might be induced by


the justice of his demands, to preserve the peace of the re-
public. Even Pompey himself did not dare to oppose them.
But when Caesar could not obtain his request from the con-
suls, he wrote to the senate a letter, in which he briefly stated
his exploits and public services, and entreated that he should
not be deprived of the favor of the people, who had ordered,
that he, although absent, should be considered a candidate
at the next elections ; and he stated also that he would dis-
band his army, if the senate and people of Rome would pass
a resolution to that effect, provided that Pompey would do
the same. That, as long as the latter should retain the com-
mand of his army,' no just reason could exist that he [Caesar]
should disband his troops and expose himself to the insults of
his enemies. He intrusts this letter to Curio to bear to its
destination ; the latter traveled one hundred and sixty miles
with incredible dispatch, and reached the city in three days'
time, before the beginning of January, and before the
consuls could pass any decree concerning Caesar's command.
Curio, after accomplishing his journey, kept the letter, and did
not give it up, until there was a crowded meeting of the senate,
and the tribunes of the commons were present ; for he was
afraid, lest, if he gave it up previously, the consuls should sup-
press it."

CHAP. I. When Caesar's letter was delivered to -the
consuls, they were with great difficulty, and a hard struggle
of the tribunes, 1 prevailed on to suffer it to be read in the
senate ; but the tribunes could not prevail, that any questioq
should be put to the senate on the subject of the letter. The
consuls put the question on the regulation of the state,
Lucius Lentulus the consul promises that he will not fail
the senate and republic, " if they declared their sentiments
boldly and resolutely, but if they turned their regard to Caesar,
and courted his favor, as they did on former occasions, he
would adopt a plan for himself, and not submit to the authority
of the senate : that he too had a means of regaining Caesar's
favor and friendship." Scipio spoke to the same purport,
" that it was Pompey's intention not to abandon the republic,

1 Plutarch says that Mark Antony, who was then tribune, read the
letter to the people, which, says Cicero, made them very reluctant to en-
list, when Pompey ordered a levy. P.


if the senate would support him ; but if they should hesitate
and act without energy, they would in vain implore his aid, if
they should require it hereafter."

CHAP. II. This speech of Scipio's, as the senate was
convened in the city, and Pompey 1 was near at hand, seemed
to have fallen from the lips of Pompey himself. Some
delivered their sentiments with more moderation, as Marcellus
first, who in the beginning of his speech, said, "that the
question ought not to be put to the senate on this matter,
till levies were made throughout all Italy, and armies raised
under whose protection the senate might freely and safely pass
such resolutions as they thought proper ;" as Marcus Calidius
afterward, who was of opinion, " that Pompey should set out
for his province, that there might be no cause for arms ; that
Csesar 2 was naturally apprehensive as two legions were forced
from him, that Pompey was retaining those troops, and keeping
them near the city to do him injury :" as Marcus Rums, who
followed Calidius almost word for word. They were all harshly
rebuked by Lentulus, who peremptorily refused to propose
Calidius's motion. Marcellus, overawed by his reproofs, re-
tracted his opinion. Thus most of the senate, intimidated by
the expressions of the consul, by the fears of a present army,
and the threats of Pompey's friends, unwillingly and reluc-
tantly adopted Scipio's opinion, that Caesar should disband
his . army by a certain day, and should he not do so, he
should be considered as acting against the state. Marcus
Antonius, and Quintus Cassius, tribunes of the people, inter-
posed. 3 The question was immediately put on their inter-
position. Violent opinions were expressed ; whoever spoke
with the greatest acrimony and cruelty, was most highly com-
mended by Caesar's enemies.

CHAP. HI. The senate having broken up in the evening,

1 As Pompey was at the head of an army (being appointed proconsul
of Spain and Africa) ho could not come within the city while invested
with power. P.

* A decre of the senate had been passed some time before, that
Caesar and Pompey should each contribute, out of their forces, a legion
to be sent against the Parthians. Pompey had previously lent Csesar
one legion, which he now returned, with the fifteenth legion belonging
to himself. Pompey kept both. P.

3 The tribunes by their intercession, were able to paralyze the measures
of the senate, and prevent any obnoxious measures from passing.


all -who belonged to that order vrere summoned by Pompey.
He applauded the forward, and secured their votes for the next
day ; the more moderate he reproved and excited against Caesar.
Many veterans, from all parts, who had served in Pompey's
armies, were invited to his standard by the hopes of rewards
and promotions. Several officers belonging to the two legions,
which had been delivered up by Caesar, were sent for. The city
and the comitium were crowded with tribunes, centurions, and
veterans. All the consul's friends, all Pompey's connections,
all those who bore any 'ancient enmity to Caesar, were forced
into the senate house. By their concourse and declarations
the timid were awed, the irresolute confirmed, and the greater
part deprived of the power of speaking their sentiments with
freedom. Lucius Piso, the censor, offered to go to Caesar : as
did likewise Lucius Roscius, the praetor, to inform him of
these affairs, and require only six days' time to finish the
business. Opinions were expressed by some to the effect that
commissioners should be sent to Caesar to acquaint him with
the senate's pleasure.

CHAP. rV. All these proposals were rejected, and opposi-
tion made to them all, in the speeches of the consul, Scipio,
and Cato. An old grudge against Caesar and chagrin at a
defeat actuated Cato. Lentulus was wrought upon by the
magnitude of his debts, and the hopes of having the govern-
ment of an army and provinces, and by the presents 1 which
he expected from such princes as should receive the title of
friends of the Roman people, and boasted among his friends,
that he would be a second Sylla," to whom the supreme
authority should return. Similar hopes of a province and
armies, which he expected to share with Pompey on account of
his connection 3 with him, urged on Scipio ; and moreover [he
was influenced by] the fear of being called to trial, and the

1 The Roman commander often gave foreign princes the title of king
in the name of the Roman people ; and as this honor seemed to imply a
recognition of their authority, immense sums were occasionally given for it.

2 Alluding to the well-known prophecy of the Sybil, that three of the
Cornelii should have the supreme power at Rome. Lentulus, who played
such a prominent part in Catiline's conspiracy, frequently quoted the
same prophecy, which seems to have lured the Cornelii to their doom by
the bright vision of supreme power.

3 Pompey married Cornelia, Scipio's daughter, on the death of Julia,
whom her father Caesar had bestowed on Pompey, to attach him more
firmly to his interests.


adulation and an ostentatious display of himself and his friends
in power, who at that time had great influence in the republic,
and courts of judicature. Pompey himself, incited by Caesar's
enemies, because he was unwilling that any person should
bear an equal degree of dignity, had wholly alienated himself
from Caesar's friendship, and procured a reconciliation with
their common enemies ; the greatest part of whom he had
himself brought upon Caesar during his affinity with him. At
the same time, chagrined at the disgrace which he had incurred
by converting the two legions from their expedition through
Asia and Syria, to [augment] his own power and authority, he
was anxious to bring matters to a war.

CHAP. V. For these reasons every thing was done in a
hasty and disorderly manner, and neither was time given to
Caesar's relations to inform him [of the state of affairs] nor
liberty to the tribunes of the people to deprecate their own
danger, nor even to retain the last privilege, which Sylla had left;
them, the interposing their authority ; but on the seventh day
they were obliged to think of their own safety, which the most
turbulent tribunes of the people were not accustomed to attend
to, nor to fear being called to an account for their actions, till
the eighth month. Recourse is had to that extreme and final
decree of the senate (which was never resorted to even by
daring proposers except when the city was in danger of being
set on fire, or when the public safety was despaired of). " That
the consuls, praetors, tribunes of the people, and proconsuls
in the city, should take care that the state received no
injury." These decrees are dated the eighth day before the
ides of January ;' therefore, in the first five days, on which the
senate could meet, from the day on which Lentulus entered
into his consulate, the two days of election excepted, the se-
verest and most virulent decrees were passed against Caesar's
government, and against those most illustrious characters, the
tribunes of the people. The latter immediately made their
escape from the city, and withdrew to Caesar, who was then at
Ravenna, awaiting an answer to his moderate demands ; [to see]
if matters could be brought to a peaceful termination by any
equitable act on the part of his enemies.

CHAP. VL During the succeeding days the senate is con-
vened outside the city. Pompey repeated the same things
1 The 8th of January.


which he had declared through Scipio. He applauded the
courage and firmness of the senate, acquainted them with his
force, and told them that he had ten legions ready ; that he was
moreover informed and assured that Caesar's soldiers were dis-
affected, and that he could not persuade them to defend or even
follow him. Motions were made in the senate concerning
other matters.; that levies should be made through all Italy ;
that Faustus Sylla should be sent as propraetor into Maurita-
nia ; that money should be granted to Pompey from the public
treasury. It was also put to the vote that king Juba should
be [honored with the title of] friend and ally. But Marcellus
said that he would not allow this motion for the present.
Philip, one of the tribunes, stopped [the appointment of] Sylla ;
the resolutions respecting the other matters passed. The prov-
inces, two of which were consular, the remainder praetorian,
were decreed to private persons; Scipio got Syria, Lucius
Domitius Gaul : Philip and Marcellus were omitjed, from a
private motive, and their lots were not even admitted. To the
other provinces praetors were sent, nor was time granted as in

Online LibraryJulius CaesarCæsar's Commentaries on the Gallic and civil wars: → online text (page 25 of 59)