Julius Caesar.

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PROrESSOa of philosophy in the UBTITEIISITT of ABERDEEN.










Caius Julius C^sar, the son of C. Julius Csesar and Aurelia, was born B. C. 100,
on tlie twelfth of Quintilis, afterward called Julius in honour of this Caesar. His aunt
Julia was the wife of Caius Marius. In his seventeenth year he married Cornelia, the
daughter of Cinna, by whom he had a daughter, Julia. This connection with Marius
and Cinna, the two great opponents of the dictator Sulla, exposed him to the resent-
ment of the opposite faction. Sulla is said to have spaced his life with great reluc-
tance. He first served under M. Thermus in Asia, and distinguished himself at the
capture of Mitylene (B. C. 80 or 79). In the following year he served under P. Ser-
vilius Isauricus in Cilicia. The news of Sulla's death brought him back to Rome,
B..C. 78. After his unsuccessful impeachment of Dolabella for maladministration in
his province, he retired to Rhodes, and for a time became the pupil of the rhetorician
Molo, whose instruction Cicero had attended, probably a year or two before Caesar's
visit, B. C. 75.

About B. C. 69, being elected one of the military tribunes, he procured an enactment
&a- the restoration of L. Cinna, his wife's brother, and of those partisans of M. Lepi-
dus who after his death had joined Sertorius in Spain. The following year he was
quEestor in Spain, and on his return to Rome, he was elected curule sedile for B. C. 65.
The oflRce of aedile gave Cassar an opportunity of indulging his taste for magnificence
and display, by which he secui'ed the favour of the people. Caesar, who was now
five-and-thirty years of age, had enjoyed no opportunity of distinguishing himself in a
military capacity; while Cn. Pompeius, who was only six years older, was spreading
his name and the terror of the Roman arms throughout the East. By a judicious
application of money among the poorer voters, and of personal influence among all
classes, he obtained the Pontificatus Maximus (B. C. 63), or headship of the college of
Pontifices, a place to which an official residence in the Sacra Via was attached. This
union of civil and religious functions in the same person, at least in the higher and more
profitable places, was part of the old Roman polity.

At the time of the debate on the conspiracy of Catiline (B. C. 63), Caesar was praetor
designatus (praetor elect for the following year), and accordingly spoke in his place in
the senate. He was the only person who ventured to oppose the proposition for put-
ting the conspirators to death : he recommended their property to be confiscated, and
that they should be dispersed through the different municipia of Italy, and kept under
a strict surveillance.

An affair which happened during his praetorship (B. C. 62) caused no little scandal
at Rome. While the ceremonies in honour of the Bona Dea were performing in the
house of Caesar, at which women only could be present, the profligate P. Clodius, put-
ting on a woman's dress, contrived to get admission to these mysterious rites. On the
affair being discovered, Csesar divorced his wife Pompeia, whom* he had married after


the death of Cornelia ; and Clodius, after being brought to a public trial for an offence
against religion, only escaped by bribing the jury. From naotives of policy, Caesar
did not break with Clodius : he probably saw that he could make him a useful tool
against Cicero.

The year 61 B. C. was spent by Csesar in his province of Southern Spain, where he
speedily restored order, and he hurried back to Rome before his successor came to can-
vass for the consulship. The aristocratical party saw that it was impossible to prevent
Caesar's election ; their only chance was to give him a colleague who should be a
check upon him. Their choice of Bibulus was singularly unfortunate. Bibulus, after
unavailing efforts to resist the impetuosity of his colleague, shut himself up in his
house, and Ccesar acted as sole consul, B. C. 59. He had contrived to render ineffec-
tual all opposition on the part of his opponents. Pompeius was dissatisfied because
the senate delayed about confirming all his measures in the Mithridatic war and during
his command in Asia : Crassus, who was the richest man in the state, and second only
to Pompey in influence with the senatorial faction, was not on good terms with Pom-
peius. If Csesar gained over only one of these rivals, he made the other his enemy ;
he determined, therefore, to secure them both. He began by courting Pompeius, and
succeeded in bringing about a reconciliation between him and Crassus. It was agreed
that there should be a general understanding among the three as to the course of policy.
To cement their alliance more closely, Csesar gave Pompeius his daughter Juha in
marriage. He himself also took a new wife on the occasion, Calpurnia, the daughter
of L. Piso, whom he nominated one of the consuls for the ensuing year, B. C. 58.
This union of Pompeius, Crassus, and Csesar, destroyed the credit of Pompeius, threw
disunion among the aristocrats, and put the whole power of the state into the hands of
one vigorous and clear-sighted man.

One of the most important measures of Caesar's consulship was an agrarian law for
the division of some public lands in Campania among the poorer citizens, which was
carried by intimidation. Clodius, the enemy of Cicero, was, through Caesar's influence
and the help of Pompeius, adopted into a plebeian family, and thus made capable of
holding the office of tribune. Clodius, the next year, was elected a tribune, and drove
Cicero into exile, B. C. 58.

The Roman consuls, on going out of office, received the government of a province
for one year. Caesar's opponents unwisely made another efTort against him ; they pro-
posed to give him the superintendence of the roads and forests. Vatinius, one of his
creatures, forthwith procured a law to be passed, by which he obtained for Cssar the
province of Gallia Cisalpina, or North Italy, and Illyricum, for five years; and the
senate, fearing the people might grant still more, not only confirmed the rheasure, but
added the province of Gallia Transalpina. "From this moment," remarks Schlosser,
" the history of Rome presents a striking parallel to the condition of the French repub-
lic during Bonaparte's first campaigns in Italy. In both cases we see a weak repub-
lican administration in the capital involved in continual broils, which the rival factions
are more interested in fostering than in securing the tranquillity and peace of the
empire. In both cases we find a province of the distracted republic occupied by a
general with unlimited power — the uncontrolled master of a territory which, in extent
and importance, is equal to a mighty kingdom — a man of superior understanding, des-
perate resolves, and, if circumstances rendered it necessary, of fearful cruelty — a man
who, under the show of democratical opinions, behaved like a despot, governed a prov-
ince at his pleasure, and established an absolute control over his soldiers by leading
them to victory, bloodshed, and pillage." {-{,

The Gallic provinces at this time subject to Rome, were Gallia Citerior, or Cisal-


pine Gaul ; and WKa Ulterior, or tlie southern part of Transalpine Gaul, also called
emphatically Provincia, whose capital was Narbo, now Narbonne. The Provincia
extended from the Mediterranean to the Cebenna mountains, and included the modern
provinces of East Languedoc, Provence, and Dauphine. On the north it joined the
Allobroges, then lately subjected to Rome. When Caesar, in his Commentaries,
speaks of Gaul, which he divides into Aquitania, Celtica, and Belgica, he means the
Gaul which was then independent, and which he conquered, exclusive of the Provincia
already subject to Rome. Csesar's campaigns in Gaul, which are the most eventful
periods of his life, belong to the history of Rome. They comprise the time from the
beginning of B. C. 58 to B. C. 51. During this period he stopped the Helvetii, who
were emigrating from their native country, a part of modern Switzerland, with the
intention of settling in the southern part of Gaul. He totally defeated Ariovistus, a
powerful German chief, with immense slaughter. Some of the fugitives escaped
across the Rhine in boats, and Ariovistus among them. The two sons of Ariovistus
and one daughter were killed in the flight, and another daughter was taken prisoner.

The campaign of 57 B. C. was against the Belgic Gauls, a powerful race of German
origin, who had been long settled in the country between the Rhine and the Sequana
(Seine). The war was conducted with his usual vigour and success, though the
resistance of some of the Belgic tribes, especialy the Nervii, was most desperate. In
this campaign, Caesar advanced north of the Axona, a branch of the Seine. Crassus,
the son of Crassus with whom Caesar had made a coalition, being detached by Caesar
across the Sequana into Western Gaul, received the submission of the Aulerci, Unelli,
and Veneti, and other maritime people on the coasts of the Atlantic; and, as the sea-
son was growing late, the army went into winter-quarters in the country of the Car-
nutes, Turones, and other parts of Central Gaul. Ccesar set off, according to his
custom, for Cisalpine Gaul, where his friends flocked from Rome to congratulate him
on his successes. The senate, on receiving from the victorious general the usual
official letters, ordered fifteen days of public thanksgiving to the gods, a period never
granted before for any other general.

His third campaign, 56 B. C, was against the Western Gauls, of whom the Veneti
were a powerful commercial, seafaring people, who had numerous ships in which they
traded with Britain and other countries. Having recovered from the alarm of Caesar's
conquests, they arrested the officers of Crassus, and refused to give them up until
their own hostages were restored. All the neighbouring maritime tribes made common
cause with the Veneti. Caesar immediately ordered galleys to be constructed on the
Ligeris, and sent also to collect ships on the coast of the Pictones and Santones, wlio
were friends with Rome. He directed the fleet to attack the Veneti by sea, while he
marched against them by land. A great naval battle, which lasted all day, ended with
the destruction of the fleet of the Veneti, to the number of above two hundred ships,
Caesar put to death all the senators or chief men of the Veneti, and sold the rest as
slaves. After the defeat of the Veneti, he marched against the Morini and Menapii,
and placed his troops for the winter among the Aulerci, Lexovii, &c.

The following year, 55 B. C, the campaign was carried on against the Germans
upon the Mosa and the Rhine, and they were defeated with great slaughter, probably
near Coblenz, at the junction of the Moselle and the Rhine. After this battle, Caesar
constructed a bridge over the Rhine in ten days, when he marched across and ravaged
the country of the Sicambri. He recrossed the Rhine after spending eighteen days on
German ground.

He next made his first expedition into Britain. In this year Caesar's period of
government was extended for five years by a senatus consultum.


The next year, 54 B. C, after making an excursion into Illyricum, he returned
into Gaul, where he had ordered a fleet to assemble at Fortius Ttius for a second
attempt upon Britain. On his return from Britain, owing to the bad harvest and
scarcity of provisions, he dispersed his legions in various parts of the country for the
winter, a measure which proved nearly fatal to the Roman arms. He himself
remained in Belgic Gaul. The Eburones revolted and attacked the camp of Titurius
Sabinus and L. Cotta, who had one legion and five cohorts with them. The Romans,
against Cotta's opinion, made an effort to retire to the next Roman garrison, but they
were attacked on their march and cut to pieces. The Eburones, under their king
Ambiorix, next attacked the camp of Quintus Cicero, brother to the orator, who was
stationed with one legion in the country of the Nervii. Quintus made a brave defence,
and was finally relieved by Caesar. The following year, 53 B. C, which was the
sixth of his government, symptoms of general disaffection manifested themselves
throughout Gaul. This was a year of desultory though destructive warfare. CfEsar
crossed the Rhine again from the country of the Treviri. This movement led to no
result, and he withdrew his army. He then ravaged the country of the Eburones, and
having put his legions to winter among the Treviri, Lingones, and Senones, repaired
to Cisalpine Gaul. The disturbances at Rome, in consequence of the murder of P.
Clodius, made him turn his attention toward that quarter. He raised troops in every
part of the Cisalpine province. The Gauls now thought the time was come for one
great effort while Cassar was engaged in Italy. The Carnutes massacred all the
Romans whom they found in the town of Genabum. Vercingetorix, a young man of
one of the first families of the Arverni, was placed at the head of a confederacy of the
whole of Celtic Gaul. Coesar, hearing the news, set off in the middle of winter for
Gaul north of the Alps, and took Vellaunodunum, Genabum, and Noviodunum. He
also took Avaricum, garrisoned by the Gauls, who made a courageous defence. But
the great event of this campaign was the siege of Alesia, now a village called Saint
Reine, and also Alise, near Flavigny, and Semur, in North Burgundy. For this cele-
brated siege we must refer to Caesar's own account. Caesar found himself besieged in
his own lines, having to fight Vercingetorix who had retired within the town, and the
confederates from without. Alesia finally surrendered, and Vercingetorix, several
years later, walked before the triumphal car of the conqueror; after which he was put
to death in prison. Caesar's eighth and last campaign in Gaul (51 B. C.) is related by
Hirtius, who has continued his ' Commentaries' by writing an eighth or supplementary
book. During the winter, which followed this campaign, he endeavoured to conciliate
the principal inhabitants of Gaul by rewards, and treated the people with kindness;
and, by rendering the Roman yoke light, he pacified Gaul, exhausted by its long and
unfortunate struggle. In the spring 50 B. C, he set off for North Italy, where he
was received with great rejoicings. On his return to Belgic Gaul, he reviewed his
troops, and soon after returned to the north of Italy, where the dissensions between
him and the senate had begun which led to the civil war. This was the ninth and
last year of Caesar's government of the Gauls.

Caesar's connection with Pompeius had dissolved by the death of Julia without any
surviving offspring, and by the growing jealousy with which his success in Gaul and
his popularity with his army had filled all the aristocratical party. His object now
was to obtain the consulship a second time, and a special enactment had been already
passed enabling, him to stand for the consulship in his absence. But Pompeius pre-
vailed upon the senate to require him to give up the command of the army and come
to Rome in person to be a candidate. Caesar, who was at Ravenna, in his province of
Gallia Cisalpina, sent Curio to Rome with a letter expressed in strong terms, in which


he proposed to give up his array and come to the city, if Pompeius would also give up
the command of the troops which he had. The senate made a decree that Ceesar
should give up his army by a certain day, or be considered an enemy to the state.
The tribunes, M. Antoniiis and Q. Cassius, the friends of Cfesar, attempted to oppose
the measure; but their opposition was treated with contempt, and thus they gained a
good excuse for hurrying to Cassar with the news. Upon receiving the intelligence,
Caesar crossed the Rubicon, a small stream which formed the southern limit of his
province, and directed his march toward the south, B. C. 49. Rome was filled with
confusion ; councils were divided and hesitating ; and Pompeius, who was the com-
mander-in-chief on the side of the senate, was unprovided with troops to oppose the
veterans of the Gallic wars. Domitius, who had thrown himself into Corfinium to
defend the place, was given up to Ceesar by his soldiers, who joined the invading army.
The alarm now became still greater, and Pompeius, with a large part of the senate
and his forces, hurried to Brundisium, whence he succeeded in crossing the sea to
Dyrrachium in Epirus. Csesar, who had reached Brundisium before Pompeius left it,
advanced to Rome, and took possession of the public money, which the other party in
their hurry had left behind. His next movement was into Spain, where Afranius and
Petreius, who were on the side of Pompeius, were at the head of eight legions. After
reducing this important province, Csesar on his return took the town of Massilia, the
siege of which had been commenced on his march to Spain.

The title of " dictator" was assumed on his return to Rome, and he nominated him-
self and Servilius consuls for the following year, B. C. 48. The campaign of this
year, which is described in the third book of the " Civil Wars," comprises the opera-
tions of Caesar and Pompeius at Dyrrachium, and the subsequent defeat of Pompeius
on the plain of Pharsalus, in Thessaly. After his defeat, Pompeius fled to Egypt, and
on his landing, was treacherously murdered by Achillas, the commander of the troops
of the young king Ptolemaeus, and L. Septimius, a Roman, who had served under
Pompeius in the war with the pirates.

Caesar arrived in Egypt shortly after the death of Pompeius. The disputes in the
royal family of Egypt and the interference of Caesar brought on a contest between the
Romans and the king's troops, which ended in a new settlement of the kingdom by the
Jloman general. Here he formed his intimacy with Cleopatra, the young queen of
Egypt. Early in the year B. C. 47, he marched into Pontus, and defeated Phar-
naces. He returned to Italy in the autumn, by way of Athens. At Brundisium he
was met by Cicero, who was glad to make peace with him. On his return to Rome,
he was named dictator for one year, and consul for the following year, with M, Lepi-
dus. During the winter he crossed over into Africa, where the party of Pompey had
rallied under Scipio ; gained a complete victory at the battle of Thapsus, and was
again at Rome in the autumn of B. C. 46. In B. C. 45, Caesar was sole consul, and
dictator for the third time. During the greater part af this year he was absent in
Spain, where Cn. Pompeius, son of Pompeius the Great, had raised a large force.
The great battle of Munda, in which thirty thousand are said to have fallen on the side
of Pompeius, terminated the campaigns of Caesar. Pompeius was taken after the bat-'
tie, and his head was carried to Caesar, who was then at Hispalis.

On his return to Rome, Caesar was created consul for ten years and dictator for life.
On the ides (15th) of March, B. C. 44, he was assassinated in the senate-house. After
his death he was enrolled among the gods, under the appellation of divos ivlivs, as
appears from his medals.

The ene.rgy of Caesar's character, his personal accomplishments and courage, his
talents for war, and his capacity for civil affairs, render him one of. the most remark-


able Kien of any age. Thougli a lover of pleasure, and a man of licentious habits, he
never neglected vi'hat was a matter of business. As a writer and an orator, he has
received the highest praise from Cicero ; and his " Commentaries," written in a plain,
perspicuous style, are a model of their kind. His projects were vast and magnificent.
He reformed the Roman calendar, under the direction of Sosigenes. He established
public libraries, and gave to the learned Varro the care of collecting and arranging the
books. The three books of the " Civil Wars" were written by Csesar ; but the single
books on the Alexandrian, African, and Spanish wars, respectively, are generally
attributed to another hand. The fragments of various other works of Caesar's have
been collected by his editors.


The following translation of Cffisar's Commentaries was done from the celebrated
edition of the late Dr. Clarke, printed for J. Tonson, in 1712. All possible care has
been taken to render it exact, and to preserve the distinctness and perspicuity of
expression for which the original is so justly famous. The reader will perceive that
the very turn and manner of Cssar have been copied with the utmost attention;
and though the success may not always answer expectation, yet candour will induce
him to make great allowances when he considers the inimitable beauty of the Latin,
and the difficulty of expressing ancient maniaers and transactions in modem language.
It was at first intended to accompany the translation with notes, explaining what was
difficult and obscure in the Roman art of war. But, as a few loose, scattered remarks
would have contributed little toward giving the reader a distinct idea of what was
necessary to be known on this head, there is substituted in their place a discourse con-
cerning the military customs of the sncients, in which all that is curious and most
interesting relating to these matters is fully and copiously explained. Besides the
ancient authors, Rollin, Folard, Orrery, Feuquiere, Machiavel, Montesquieu, and sev-
eral other moderns, have been consulted, and all such .passages selected as tended to
throw light upon this branch of the Roman antiquities. ' As the author, by his situation
in life, is necessarily a stranger to the practical part of war, he pretends not to otFer
anything of his own upon the subject. If he has collected with care from the writers
before mentioned, and disposed the materials they furnished, in such a manner as suffi-
ciently to display the proficiency and improvements of the ancients in military knowl-
edge, he has compassed all he intended, and the reader will have no cause to complain.
The ancient names of places are retained in the translation, as well to avoid giving too
modern a turn to the author by a contrary practice, as because they are sufficiently
familiar to an English ear, being constantly made use of by all historians w^ho treat of
those times in our language. But, as the following work may perhaps fall into the
hands of persons little acquainted with ancient" geography — and who would, therefore,
be at a loss in comparing Csesar's descriptions with the present face of the country —
the reader will find at the end of the book a Geographical Index, in which the ancient
names of places, as near as can be discovered with any certainty, are explained by the
modern. It may be just proper to mention, that besides the seven books of the Gallic
War, and the three of the Civil, written by Cassar himself, the Supplements of A.
Hirtius Pansa are likewise inserted in the following translation, consisting of one
additional book to the Gallic War, and three books of the Alexandrian, African, and
Spanish Wars_^«









I. The Romans, from small beginnings and
an almost contemptible original, rose by de-
grees to be sovereigns of the world. If we in-
quire into the causes of this, we shall find, that
nothing so much contributed to it, as the ex-
cellence of their military discipline. War is
a profession of the greatest importance to so-
ciety. The security of our lives, liberties, pro-
perties, and indeed of all that is dear and valua-
ble among men, depends in a manner entirely
on it. Good and wholesome laws may esta-
blish peace and unity within, and if executed
with vigour, will prevent the inroads of vice

Online LibraryJulius CaesarThe commentaries of Caesar → online text (page 1 of 75)