He rode a very remarkable horse, with feet almost like those of a man, the hoofs being divided in such a manner as to have some resemblance to toes. This horse he had bred himself, and the soothsayers having interpreted these circumstances into an omen that its owner would be master of the world, he brought him up with particular care, and broke him in himself, as the horse would suffer no one else to mount him. A statue of this horse was afterwards erected by Caesar's order before the temple of Venus Genitrix.
He often rallied his troops, when they were giving way, by his personal efforts; stopping those who fled, keeping others in their ranks, and seizing them by their throat turned them towards the enemy; although numbers were so terrified, that an eagle-bearer,[*](The standard of the Roman legions was an eagle fixed on the head of a spear. It was silver, small in size, with expanded wings, and clutching a golden thunderbolt in its claws. ) thus stopped, made a thrust at him with the spear-head; and another, upon a similar occasion, left the standard in his hand.
The following instances of his resolution are equally, and even more remarkable. After the battle of Pharsalia, having sent his troops before him into Asia, as he was passing the straits of the Hellespont in a ferryboat, he met with Lucius Cassius, one of the opposite party, with ten ships of war; and so far from endeavouring to escape, he went alongside his ship, and calling upon him to surrender, Cassius humbly gave him his submission.
At Alexandria, in the attack of a bridge, being forced by a sudden sally of the enemy into a boat, and several others hurrying in with him, he leaped into the sea, and saved himself by swimming to the next ship, which lay at the distance of two hundred paces; holding up his left hand out of the water, for fear of wetting some papers which he held in it; and pulling his general's cloak after him with his teeth, lest it should fall into the hands of the enemy.
He never valued a soldier for his moral conduct or his means, but for his courage only; and treated his troops with a mixture of severity and indulgence; for he did not always keep a strict hand over them, but only when the enemy was near. Then indeed he was so strict a disciplinarian, that he would give no notice of a march or a battle until the moment of action, in order that the troops might hold themselves in readiness for any sudden movement; and he would frequently draw them out of the camp without any necessity for it, especially in rainy weather, and upon holy-days. Sometimes, giving them orders not to lose sight of him, he would suddenly depart by day or by night, and lengthen the marches in order to tire them out, as they followed him at a distance.
When at any time his troops were dispirited by reports of the great force of the enemy, he rallied their courage, not by denying the truth of what was said, or by diminishing the facts, but, on the contrary, by exaggerating every particular. Accordingly, when his troops were in great alarm at the expected arrival of king Juba, he called them together, and said, "I have to inform you that in a very few days the king will be here, with ten legions, thirty thousand horse, a hundred thousand light-armed foot, and three hundred elephants. Let none of you, therefore, presume to make further enquiry, or indulge in conjectures, but take my word for what I tell you, which I have from undoubted intelligence; otherwise I shall put them aboard an old crazy vessel, and leave them exposed to the mercy of the winds, to be transported to some other country."
He neither noticed all their trangressions, nor punished them according to strict rule. But for deserters and mutineers he made the most diligent enquiry, and their punishment was most severe: other delinquencies he would connive at. Sometimes, after a great battle ending in victory, he would grant them a relaxation from all kinds of duty, and leave them to revel at pleasure; being used to boast, "that his soldiers fought nothing the worse for being well oiled." In his speeches, he never addressed them by the title of "Soldiers," but by the kinder phrase of "Fellow-soldiers;" and kept them in such splendid order, that their arms were ornamented with silver and gold, not merely for parade, but to render the soldiers more resolute to save them in battle, and fearful of losing them. He loved his troops to such a degree, that when he heard of the defeat of those under Titurius, he neither cut his hair nor shaved his beard, until he had revenged it upon the enemy; by which means he engaged their devoted affection, and raised their valour to the highest pitch.
Upon his entering on the civil war, the centurions of every legion offered, each of them, to maintain a horseman at his own expense, and the whole army agreed to serve gratis, without either corn or pay; those amongst them who were rich, charging themselves with the maintenance of the poor. No one of them, during the whole course of the war, deserted to the enemy; and many of those who were made prisoners, though they were offered their lives, upon condition of bearing arms against him, refused to accept the terms. They endured want, and other hardships, not only when they were besieged themselves, but when they besieged others, to such a degree, that Pompey, when blocked up in the neighbourhood of Dyrrachium, upon seeing a sort of bread made of an herb, which they lived upon, said, "I have to do with wild beasts," and ordered it immediately to be taken away; because, if his troops should see it, their spirit might be broken by perceiving the endurance and determined resolution of the enemy. With what bravery they fought, one instance affords sufficient proof; which is, that after an unsuccessful engagement at Dyrrachium, they called for punishment; insomuch that their general found it more necessary to comfort than to punish them. In other battles, in different quarters, they defeated with ease immense armies of the enemy, although they were much inferior to them in number. In short, one cohort of the sixth legion held out a fort against four legions belonging to Pompey, during several hours; being almost every one of them wounded by the vast number of arrows discharged against them, and of which there were found within the ramparts a hundred and thirty thousand. This is no way surprising, when we consider the conduct of some individuals amongst them; such as that of Cassius Scaeva, a centurion, or Caius Acilius, a common soldier, not to speak of others. Scaeva, after having an eye struck out, being run through the thigh and the shoulder, and having his shield pierced in an hundred and twenty places, maintained obstinately the guard of the gate of a fort, with the command of which he was intrusted. Acilius, in the sea-fight at Marseilles, having seized a ship of the enemy's with his right hand, and that being cut off, in imitation of that memorable instance of resolution in Cynaegirus amongst the Greeks, boarded the enemy's ship, bearing down all before him with the boss of his shield.
They never once mutinied during all the ten years of the Gallic war, but were sometimes refractory in the course of the civil war. However, they always returned quickly to their duty, and that not through the indulgence, but in submission to the authority, of their general; for he never yielded to them when they were insubordinate, but constantly resisted their demands. He disbanded the whole ninth legion with ignominy at Placentia, although Pompey was still in arms, and would not receive them again into his service, until they had not only made repeated and humble entreaties, but until the ringleaders in the mutiny were punished.
When the soldiers of the tenth legion at Rome demanded their discharge and rewards for their service, with violent threats and no small danger to the city, although the war was then raging in Africa, he did not hesitate, contrary to the advice of his friends, to meet the legion, and disband it. But addressing them by the title of "Quirites," instead of "Soldiers," he by this single word so thoroughly brought them round and changed their determination, that they immediately cried out they were his " soldiers," and followed him to Africa, although he had refused their service. He nevertheless punished the most mutinous among them. with the loss of a third of their share in the plunder, and the land destined for them.
In the service of his clients, while yet a young man, he evinced great zeal and fidelity. He defended the cause of a noble youth, Masintha, against king Hiempsal, so strenuously, that in a scuffle which took place upon the occasion, he seized by the beard the son of king Juba; and upon Masintha's being declared tributary to Hiempsal, while the friends of the adverse party were violently carrying him off, he immediately rescued him by force, kept him concealed in his house a long time, and when, at the expiration of his praetorship, he went to Spain, he took him away in his litter, in the midst of his lictors bearing the fasces, and others who had come to attend and take leave of him.
He always treated his friends with such kindness and good-nature, that when Caius Oppius, in travelling with him through a forest, was suddenly taken ill, he resigned to him the only place there was to shelter them at night, and lay upon the ground in the open air. When he had placed himself at the head of affairs, he advanced some of his faithful adherents, though of mean extraction, to the highest offices; and when he was censured for this partiality, he openly said, "Had I been assisted by robbers and cut-throats in the defense of my honour, I should have made them the same recompense."
The resentment he entertained against any one was never so implacable that he did not very willingly renounce it when opportunity offered. Although Caius Memmius had published some extremely virulent speeches against him, and he had answered them with equal acrimony, yet he afterwards assisted him with his vote and interest, when he stood candidate for the consulship. When C. Calvus, after publishing some scandalous epigrams upon him, endeavoured to effect a reconciliation by the intercession of friends, he wrote to him, of his own accord; the first letter. And when Valerius Catullus, who had, as he himself observed, fixed such a stain upon his character in his verses upon Mamurra as never could be obliterated, he begged his pardon, invited him to supper the same day; and continued to take up his lodging with his father occasionally, as he had been accustomed to do.
His temper was also naturally averse to severity in retaliation. After he had captured the pirates, by whom he had been taken, having sworn that he would crucify them, he did so indeed; but he first ordered their throats to be cut. [*](To save them from the torture of a lingering death.) He could never bear the thought of doing any harm to Cornelius Phagitas, who had dogged him in the night when he was sick and a fugitive, with the design of carrying him to Sylla, and from whose hands he had escaped with some difficulty by giving him a bribe. Philemon, his amanuensis, who had promised his enemies to poison him, he put to death without torture. When he was summoned as a witness against Publicus Clodius, his wife Pompeia's gallant, who was prosecuted for profanation of religious ceremonies, he declared he knew nothing of the affair, although his mother Aurelia, and his sister Julia, gave the court an exact and full account of the circumstances. And being asked why then he had divorced his wife? "Because," he said, "my family should not only be free from guilt, but even from the suspicion of it."
Both in his administration and his conduct towards the vanquished party in the civil war, he showed a wonderful moderation and clemency. For while Pompey declared that he would consider those as enemies who did not take arms in defence of the republic, he desired it to be understood, that he should regard those who remained neuter as his friends. With regard to all those to whom he had, on Pompey's recommendation, given any command in the army, he left them at perfect liberty to go over to him, if they pleased. When some proposals were made at Ilerda [*](Now Lerida, in Catalonia. ) for a surrender, which gave rise to a free communication between the two camps, and Afranius and Petreius, upon a sudden change of resolu* tion, had put to the sword all Caesar's men who were found in the camp, he scorned to imitate the base treachery which they had practised against himself. On the field of Pharsalia, he called out to the soldiers " to spare their fellow-citizens," and afterwards gave permission to every man in his army to save an enemy. None of them, so far as appears, lost their lives but in battle, excepting only Afranius, Faustus, and young Lucius Caesar; and it is thought that even they were put to death without his consent. Afranius and Faustus had borne arms against him, after obtaining their pardon; and Lucius Caesar had not only in the most cruel manner destroyed with fire and sword his freedmen and slaves, but cut to pieces the wild beasts which he had prepared for the entertainment of the people. And finally, a little before his death, he permitted all whom he had not before pardoned, to return into Italy, and to bear offices both civil and military. He even replaced the statues of Sylla and Pompey, which had been thrown down by the populace. And after this, whatever was devised or uttered, he chose rather to check than to punish it. Accordingly, having detected certain conspiracies and nocturnal assemblies, he went no farther than to intimate by a proclamation that he knew of them; and as to those who indulged themselves in the liberty of reflecting severely upon him, he only warned them in a public speech not to persist in their offence. He bore with great moderation a virulent libel written against him by Aulus Caecinna, and the abusive lampoons of Pitholaiis, most highly reflecting on his reputation.
His other words and actions, however, so far outweigh all his good qualities, that it is thought he abused his power, and was justly cut off. For he not only obtained excessive honours, such as the consulship every year, the dictatorship for life, and the censorship, but also the title of emperor, [*](The title of emperor was not new in Roman history; 1. It was sometimes given by the acclamations of the soldiers to those who commanded them. 2. It was synonymous with conqueror, and the troops hailed him by that title after a victory. In both these cases it was merely titular, and not permanent, and was generally written after the proper name, as Cicero imperator, Lentulo imperatore. 3. It assumed a permanent and royal character first in the person of Julius Caesar, and was then generally prefixed to the emperor's name in inscriptions, as IMP. Caesar. DIVI. etc.) and the surname of FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY, [*](Cicero was the first who received the honour of being called Pater patriae. ) besides having his statue amongst the kings, [*](Statues were placed in the Capitol of each of the seven kings of Rome, to which an eighth was added in honour of Brutus, who expelled the last. The statue of Julius Caesar was afterwards raised near them. ) and a lofty couch in the theatre. He even suffered some honours to be decreed to him, which were unbefitting the most exalted of mankind: such as a gilded chair of state in the senate-house and on his tribunal, a consecrated chariot, and banners in the Circensian procession, temples, altars, statues among the gods, a bed of state in the temples, a priest, and a college of priests dedicated to himself, like those of Pan; and that one of the months should be called by his name. There were, indeed, no honours which he did not either assume himself, or grant to others, at his will and pleasure. In his third and fourth consulship, he used only the title of the office, being content with the power of dictator, which was conferred upon him with the consulship; and in both years he substituted other consuls in his room, during the three last months; so that in the intervals he held no assemblies of the people, for the election of magistrates, excepting only tribunes and ediles of the people; and appointed officers, under the name of praefects, instead of praetors, to administer the affairs of the city during his absence. The office of consul having become vacant, by the sudden death of one of the consuls the day before the calends of January [the 1st Jan.], he conferred it on a person who requested it of him, for a few hours. Assuming the same licence, and regardless of the customs of his country, he appointed magistrates to hold their offices for terms of years. He granted the insignia of the consular dignity to ten persons of praetorian rank. He admitted into the senate some men who had made free of the city, and even natives of Gaul, who were semi-barbarians. He likewise appointed to the management of the mint, and the public revenue of the state, some servants of his own household; and entrusted the command of three legions, which he left at Alexandria, to an old catamite of his, the son of his freed-man Rufinus.
He was guilty of the same extravagance in the language he publicly used, as Titus Ampius informs us; according to whom he said, "The republic is nothing but a name, without substance or reality. Sylla was an ignorant fellow to abdicate the dictatorship. Men ought to consider what is becoming when they talk with me, and look upon what I say as a law." To such a pitch of arrogance did he proceed, that when a soothsayer announced to him the unfavourable omen, that the entrails of a victim offered for sacrifice were without a heart, he said, "The entrails will be more favourable when I please; and it ought not to be regarded as a prodigy that a beast should be found wanting a heart."
But what brought upon him the greatest odium, and was thought an unpardonable insult, was his receiving the whole body of the conscript fathers sitting, before the temple of Venus Genitrix, when they waited upon him with a number of decrees, conferring on him the highest dignities. Some say that, on his attempting to rise, he was held down by Cornelius Balbus; others, that he did not attempt to rise at all, but frowned on Caius Trebatius, who suggested to him that he should stand up to receive the senate. This behaviour appeared the more intolerable in him, because, when one of the tribunes of the people, Pontius Aquila, would not rise up to him, as he passed by the tribunes' seat during his triumph, he was so much offended, that he cried out, "Well then, you tribune, Aquila, oust me from the government." And for some days afterwards, he never promised a favour to any person, without this proviso, "if Pontus Aquila will give me leave."
To this extraordinary mark of contempt for the senate, he added another affront still more outrageous. For when, after the sacred rites of the Latin festival, he was returning home, amidst the immoderate and unusual acclamations of the people, a man in the crowd put a laurel crown, encircled with a white fillet,[*](The white fillet was one of the insignia of royalty. Plutarch, on this occasion, uses the expression, διαδήματι βασιλικῷ, a royal diadem. ) on one of his statues; upon which, the tribunes of the people, Epidius Marullus, and Caesetius Flavus ordered the fillet to be removed from the crown, and the man to be taken to prison. Caesar, being much concerned either that the idea of royalty had been suggested to so little purpose, or, as was said, that he was thus deprived of the merit of refusing it, reprimanded the tribunes very severely, and dismissed them from their office. From that day forward, he was never able to wipe off the scandal of affecting the name of king, although he replied to the populace when they saluted him by that title, "I am Caesar, and no king." And at the feast of the Lupercalia,[*](The Lupercalia was a festival, celebrated in a place called the Lupercal, in the month of February, in honour of Pan. During the solemnity, the Luferci, or priests of that god, ran up and down the street naked, with only a girdle of goat's skin round their waist, and thongs of the same in their hands; with which they struck those they met, particularly married women, who were thence supposed to be rendered prolific. ) when the consul Antony placed a crown upon his head in the rostra several times, he as often put it away, and sent it to the Capitol for Jupiter, the Best and the Greatest. A report was very current, that he had a design of withdrawing to Alexandria or Ilium, whither he proposed to transfer the imperial power, to drain Italy by new levies, and to leave the government of the city to be administered by his friends. To this report 'it was added, that in the next meeting of the senate, Lucius Cotta, one of the fifteen, [*](Persons appointed to inspect and expound the Sibylline books. ) would make a motion, that as there was in the Sibylline books a prophecy, that the Parthians would never be subdued but by a king, Caesar should have that title conferred upon him.
For this reason the conspirators precipitated the execution of their design,[*](A.U.C. 709.) that they might not be obliged to give their assent to the proposal. Instead, therefore, of caballing any longer separately, in small parties, they now united their counsels; the people themselves being dissatisfied with the present state of affairs, both privately and publicly condemning the tyranny under which they lived, and calling on patriots to assert their cause against the usurper. Upon the admission of foreigners into the senate, a hand-bill was posted up in these words: "A good deed! let no one shew a new senator the way to the house." These verses were likewise currently repeated:
- The Gauls he dragged in triumph through the town,
- Caesar has brought into the senate-house, And changed their plaids[*](See before, c. xxii.)for the patrician gown.
When Quintus Maximus, who had been his deputy in the consulship for the last three months, entered the theatre, and the lictor, according to custom, bid the people take notice who was coming, they all cried out, "He is no consul." After the removal of Cesetius and Marullus from their office, they were found to have a great many votes at the next election of consuls. Some one wrote under the statue of Lucius Brutus "Would you were now alive !" and under the statue of Caesar himself these lines:
- Gallos Caesar in triumphum ducit: iidem in curiam
- Galli braccas deposuerunt, latum clavum sumpserunt.
- Because he drove from Rome the royal race,
- Brutus was first made consul in their place.
- This man, because he put the consuls down,
- Has been rewarded with a royal crown.
About sixty persons were engaged in the conspiracy against him, of whom Caius Cassius, and Marcus and Decimus Brutus were the chief. It was at first debated amongst them, whether they should attack him in the Campus Martius when he was taking the votes of the tribes, or some bf them should throw him off the bridge. whilst others should be ready to stab him upon his fall; or else in the Via Sacra, or at the entrance of the theatre. But after public notice had been given by proclamation for the senate to assemble upon the ides of March [15th March], in the senate-house built by Pompey, they approved both of the time and place, as most fitting for their purpose.
- Brutus, quia reges ejecit, consul primus factus est:
- Hic, quia consules ejecit, rex postremo factus est.