Roman Empire > Roman Empire History > From Pompey's Return From The East To Cicero's Banishment And Recall. b.C. 62-57

From Pompey's Return From The East To Cicero's Banishment And Recall. b.C. 62-57

Pompey, as we have already seen, reached Italy in B.C. 62. It was generally feared that he would seize the supreme power, but he soon calmed these apprehensions by disbanding his army immediately after landing at Brundusium. He did not, however, enter Rome in triumph till the 30th of September, B.C. 61. The triumph lasted two days, and surpassed in splendor every spectacle that Rome had yet seen. The tablets carried in the procession, on which his victories were emblazoned, declared that he had taken 1000 strong fortresses, 900 towns, and 800 ships; that he had founded 39 cities; that he had raised the revenue of the Roman people from 59 millions to 85 millions; and that he had brought into the public treasury 20,000 talents. Before his triumphal car walked 324 captive princes.

With this triumph the first and most glorious part of Pompey's life may be said to have ended. Hitherto he had been employed almost exclusively in war; but now he was called upon to play a prominent part in the civil commotions of the Republic - a part for which neither his natural talents nor his previous habits had in the least fitted him. From the death of Sulla to the present time, a period of nearly twenty years, he had been unquestionably the first man in the Roman world, but he did not retain much longer this proud position, and soon discovered that the genius of Cæsar had reduced him to a second place in the state. It would seem as if Pompey, on his return to Rome, hardly knew to which party to attach himself. He had been appointed to the command against the pirates and Mithridates in opposition to the aristocracy, and they still regarded him with jealousy and distrust. He could not, therefore, ally himself to them, especially too as some of their most influential leaders, such as M. Crassus and L. Lucullus, were his personal enemies. At the same time he seems to have been indisposed to unite himself to the popular party, which had risen into importance during his absence in the East, and over which Cæsar possessed unbounded influence. But the object which engaged the immediate attention of Pompey was to obtain from the Senate a ratification of his acts in Asia, and an assignment of lands which he had promised to his veterans. In order to secure this object, he had purchased the Consulship for one of his officers, L. Afranius, who was elected with Q. Metellus for B.C. 60. But L. Afranius was a man of slender ability; and the Senate, glad of an opportunity to put an affront upon a person whom they both feared and hated, resolutely refused to sanction Pompey's measures in Asia. This was the unwisest thing they could have done. If they had known their real interests, they would have yielded to all Pompey's wishes, and have sought by every means to win him over to their side, as a counterpoise to the growing and more dangerous influence of Cæsar. But their short-sighted policy threw Pompey into Cæsar's arms, and thus sealed the downfall of their party. Pompey was resolved to fulfill the promises he had made to his Asiatic clients and his veteran troops.

Cæsar had returned from Spain in the middle of this year. He had been in that province for one year as Proprætor, during which time he displayed that military ability which was soon to be exhibited on a still more conspicuous field. He subdued the mountainous tribes of Lusitania, took the town of Brigantium in the country of the Gallæci, and gained many other advantages over the enemy. His troops saluted him as Imperator, and the Senate honored him by a public thanksgiving. He now laid claim to a triumph, and at the same time wished to become a candidate for the Consulship. For the latter purpose his presence in the city was necessary; but, as he could not enter the city without relinquishing his triumph, he applied to the Senate to be exempted from the usual law, and to become a candidate in his absence. As this was refused, he at once relinquished his triumph, entered the city, and became a candidate for the Consulship. He was elected without difficulty, but the aristocracy succeeded in associating with him in the Consulship M. Bibulus, who belonged to the opposite party, and who had likewise been his colleague in the Ædileship and Prætorship.

Cæsar now represented to Pompey the importance of detaching from the aristocracy M. Crassus, who, by his connections and immense wealth, possessed great political influence. Pompey and Crassus had for a long time past been deadly enemies, but they were now reconciled, and the three entered into an agreement to divide the power between themselves. This first Triumvirate, as it is called, was therefore merely a private arrangement between the three most powerful men at Rome, which remained a secret till the proceedings of Cæsar in his Consulship showed that he was supported by a power against which it was in vain for his enemies to struggle.

As soon as Cæsar had entered upon his Consulship he proposed an agrarian law for the division of the rich Campanian land. The execution of the law was to be intrusted to a board of twenty commissioners. The opposition of the aristocratical party was in vain. Porapey and Crassus spoke in favor of the law; and the former declared that he would bring both sword and buckler against those who used the sword. On the day on which it was put to the vote, Bibulus and the other members of the aristocracy were driven out of the forum by force of arms: the law was carried, the commissioners appointed, and about 20,000 citizens, comprising, of course, a great number of Pompey's veterans, received allotments subsequently. Bibulus, despairing of being able to offer any farther resistance to Cæsar, shut himself up in his own house, and did not appear again in public till the expiration of his Consulship.

Cæsar obtained from the people a ratification of all Pompey's acts in Asia, and, to cement their union more closely, gave his only daughter Julia in marriage to Pompey. His next step was to gain over the Equites, who had rendered efficient service to Cicero in his Consulship, and had hitherto supported the aristocratical party. An excellent opportunity now occurred for accomplishing this object. In their eagerness to obtain the farming of the public taxes in Asia, the Equites had agreed to pay too large a sum, and accordingly petitioned the Senate for more favorable terms. This, however, had been opposed by Metellus Celer, Cato, and others of the aristocracy; and Cæsar, therefore, now carried a law to relieve the Equites from one third of the sum which they had agreed to pay. Having thus gratified the people, the Equites, and Pompey, he was easily able to obtain for himself the provinces which he wished.

It is not attributing any extraordinary foresight to Cæsar to suppose that he already saw that the struggle between the different parties at Rome must eventually be terminated by the sword. The same causes were still in operation which had led to the civil wars between Marius and Sulla; and he was well aware that the aristocracy would not hesitate to call in the assistance of force if they should ever succeed in detaching Pompey from his interests. It was therefore of the first importance for him to obtain an army which he might attach to himself by victories and rewards. Accordingly, he induced the Tribune Vatinius to propose a bill to the people granting him the provinces of Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum for five years (B.C. 58-54). Transalpine Gaul was shortly afterward added. Cæsar chose the Gallic provinces, as he would thus be able to pass the winter in Italy and keep up his communication with the city, while the disturbed state of Farther Gaul promised him sufficient materials for engaging in a series of wars in which he might employ an army that would afterward be devoted to his purposes. In addition to these considerations, Cæsar was also actuated by the ambition of subduing forever that nation which had once sacked Rome, and which had been, from the earliest times, more or less an object of dread to the Roman state.

The Consuls of the following year (B.C. 58) were L. Calpurnius Piso and A. Gabinius. Piso was Cæsar's father-in-law, and Gabinius in his Tribunate had proposed the law conferring upon Pompey the command against the pirates. Cæsar saw that it was evident they would support whatever the Triumvirs might wish. Cicero was now threatened with destruction.

In B.C. 62, while the wife of Cæsar was celebrating in the house of her husband, then Prætor and Pontifex Maximus, the rites of the Bona Dea, from which all male creatures were excluded, it was discovered that P. Clodius Pulcher, a profligate noble, whom we have seen inciting the army of Lucullus to insurrection, had found his way into the mansion disguised in woman's apparel, and, having been detected, had made his escape by the help of a female slave. The matter was laid before the Senate, and by them referred to the members of the Pontifical College, who passed a resolution that sacrilege had been committed. Cæsar forthwith divorced his wife. Clodius was impeached and brought to trial. In defense he pleaded an alibi, offering to prove that he was at Interamna at the very time when the crime was said to have been committed; but Cicero came forward as a witness, and swore that he had met and spoken to Clodius in Rome on the day in question. In spite of this decisive testimony, and the evident guilt of the accused, the Judices pronounced him innocent by a majority of voices (B.C. 61). Clodius now vowed deadly vengeance against Cicero. To accomplish his purpose more readily, he determined to become a candidate for the Tribunate, but for this it was necessary, in the first place, that he should be adopted into a plebeian family by means of a special law. This, after protracted opposition, was at length accomplished through the interference of the Triumvirs, and he was elected Tribune for B.C. 58.

One of the first acts of Clodius, after entering upon office, was to propose a bill interdicting from fire and water any one who should be found to have put a Roman citizen to death untried. Cicero changed his attire, and, assuming the garb of one accused, went round the Forum soliciting the compassion of all whom he met. For a brief period public sympathy was awakened. A large number of the Senate and the Equites appeared also in mourning, and the better portion of the citizens seemed resolved to espouse his cause. But all demonstrations of such feelings were promptly repressed by Piso and Gabinius. Cæsar had previously made overtures to Cicero, which the orator, overrating his influence and relying upon the support of Pompey, had rejected. The Triumvirs now left him to his fate, and Cicero, giving way to despair, quitted Rome at the beginning of April (B.C. 68), and reached Brundusium about the middle of the month. From thence he crossed over to Greece. The instant that the departure of Cicero became known, a law was passed pronouncing his banishment, forbidding any one to entertain or harbor him, and denouncing as a public enemy whosoever should take any steps toward procuring his recall. His mansion on the Palatine, and his villas at Tusculum and Formiæ, were at the same time given over to plunder and destruction. Clodius, having thus gratified his hatred, did not care to consult any longer the views of the Triumvirs. He restored Tigranes to liberty, whom Pompey had kept in confinement, ridiculed the great Imperator before the people, and was accused of making an attempt upon his life. Pompey, in revenge, resolved to procure the recall of Cicero from banishment, and was thus brought again into some friendly connections with the aristocratical party. The new Consuls (B.C. 57) were favorable to Cicero; but, though Clodius was no longer in office, he had several partisans among the Tribunes who offered the most vehement opposition to the restoration of his great enemy. One of the chief supporters of Cicero was the Tribune T. Annius Milo, a man as unprincipled and violent as Clodius himself. He opposed force to force, and at the head of a band of gladiators attacked the hired ruffians of Clodius. The streets of Rome were the scenes of almost daily conflicts between the leaders of these assassins. At length the Senate, with the full approbation of Pompey, determined to invite the voters from the different parts of Italy to repair to Rome and assist in carrying a law for the recall of Cicero. Accordingly, on the 4th of August, the bill was passed by an overwhelming majority. On the same day Cicero quitted Dyrrhachium, and crossed over to Brundusium. He received deputations and congratulatory addresses from all the towns on the line of the Appian Way; and having arrived at Rome on the 4th of September, a vast multitude poured forth to meet him, while the crowd rent the air with acclamations as he passed through the Forum and ascended the Capitol to render thanks to Jupiter (B.C. 57).

Temple of Hercules at Rome
Temple of Hercules at Rome

Temple of Nemausus (Nimes), now called the Maison Carree
Temple of Nemausus (Nimes), now called the Maison Carrée
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