2. Beginnings of Rome
3. Institutions of Early Rome
4. Etruscan Kings of Rome
5. Reorganization of Kingdom

6. Struggle against Kingship
7. Struggle for Economic Rights
8. Struggle for Equal Laws
9. Struggle for Political Equality
10. Conquest of Latium
11. Conquest of Central Italy
12. Conquest of Southern Italy
13. Supremacy of Rome in Italy
14. First Punic War
15. Second Punic War
16. Conquests in East
17. Reduction of Roman Conquests
18. Rome as a World Power
19. Times of Gracchi
20. Times of Marius and Sulla
21. Times of Pompey and Caesar
22. Times of Antony and Octavius

23. Reign of Augustus
24. Julian Emperors
25. Flavian Emperors
26. Five Good Emperors
27. Decline of Empire
28. Reorganization of Empire
29. Extinction of Western Empire
Outlines of Roman History
by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L.
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: American Book Company (1901).



Table of contents




The Rise of Pompey, I.The Growing Influence of Caesar, II.Civil War between Pompey and Caesar, III.The Rule of Julius Caesar, IV.


   Failures of the Sullan Party.—When Sulla resigned his power and placed the government in the hands of his party, he no doubt thought that he had secured the state from any further disturbance. He had destroyed all opposition, he fancied, by wiping out the Marian party. But as soon as he died, the remnants of this party began to reappear on every side. With the restoration of the senate’s power there also returned all the old evils of the senatorial rule. The aristocratic party was still a selfish faction ruling for its own interests, and with little regard for the welfare of the people. The separation between the rich and the poor became more marked than ever. Luxury and dissipation were the passion of one class, and poverty and distress the condition of the other. The feebleness of the new government was evident from the start, and Sulla was scarcely dead when symptoms of reaction began to appear.

   The Revolt of Lepidus (B.C. 77).—The first attempt to overthrow the work of Sulla was made by the consul M. Aemilius Lepidus, a vain and petulant man, who aspired to be chief of the popular party. Lepidus proposed to restore to the tribunes the full power which Sulla had diminished, and then to rescind the whole Sullan constitution. But his colleague, Q. Lutatius Catulus,
1 had no sympathy with his schemes and opposed him at every step. To prevent a new civil war the senate bound the two consuls by an oath not to take up arms. But Lepidus disregarded this oath, raised an army, and marched on Rome. He was soon defeated by Catulus with the aid of Cn. Pompey. It is well for us to notice that Pompey by this act came into greater prominence in politics as a supporter of the senate and the Sullan party.

   The Sertorian War and Pompey (B.C. 80-72).—A much more formidable attempt at revolution was made by Q. Sertorius, who was one of the friends of Marius, and who had escaped to Spain during the Sullan proscriptions. Sertorius was a man of noble character, brave, prudent, generous, and withal a very able soldier. The native tribes of Spain were chafing under the Roman governors; and Spain itself had become the retreat of many Marian refugees. Sertorius, therefore, formed the plan of delivering Spain from the power of Rome, and setting up an independent republic. (For map of Spain, see p. 112.) He won the devotion and loyalty of the Spanish provincials, whom he placed on an equality with his Roman subjects. He organized the cities after the Italian model. He encouraged the natives to adopt the arts of civilization. He formed a school at Osca, where the young men were instructed in Latin and Greek. He also defeated the Roman legions under Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, who had been sent against him.

   The Roman senate was firmly convinced that something must be done to save the Spanish province. Pompey was therefore appointed proconsul in Spain—although he had never been consul or held any other civil office. Sertorius showed what kind of general he was when he defeated the young Pompey in the first battle, and might have destroyed his army if Metellus had not come to his assistance. But fortune at last frowned upon Sertorius and favored Pompey. Sertorius, in a fit of wrath, caused the boys in the school at Osca to be put to death. This cruel act aroused the indignation of the Spanish subjects. It was not long before he himself was murdered by one of his lieutenants. With Sertorius out of the way, Pompey obtained an easy victory; and Spain was reduced to submission.

   War of the Gladiators, and Crassus (B.C. 73-71).—Before the war with Sertorius was ended, the senate was called upon to meet a far greater danger at home. In order to prepare the gladiators for their bloody contests in the arena, training schools had been established in different parts of Italy. At Capua, in one of these so-called schools (which were rather prisons), was confined a brave Thracian, Spartacus. With no desire to be “butchered to make a Roman holiday,” Spartacus incited his companions to revolt. Seventy of them fled to the crater of Vesuvius and made it a stronghold. Reënforced by other slaves and outlaws of all descriptions, they grew into a motley mass of one hundred thousand desperate men. They ravaged the fields and plundered the cities, until all Italy seemed at their mercy. Four Roman armies were defeated in succession. With Pompey still absent in Spain, the senate sought some other leader to crush this fearful insurrection. The command fell to M. Crassus, who finally defeated Spartacus and his army. A remnant of five thousand men fled to the north, hoping to escape into Gaul; but they fell in with Pompey, who was just returning from Spain, and were destroyed. By this stroke of luck, Pompey had the assurance to claim that in addition to closing the war in Spain, he had also finished the war with the gladiators.

   First Consulship of Pompey and Crassus (B.C. 70).—With their victorious legions, Pompey and Crassus now returned to the capital and claimed the consulship. Neither of these men had any great ability as a politician. But Crassus, on account of his wealth, had influence with the capitalists; and Pompey, on account of his military successes, was becoming a sort of popular hero, as Marius had been before him. The popular party was now beginning to gather up its scattered forces, and to make its influence felt. With this party, therefore, as offering the greater prospect of success, the two soldiers formed a coalition, and were elected consuls.

   The chief event of the consulship of Pompey and Crassus was the complete overthrow of the Sullan constitution. The old power was given back to the tribunes. The legislative power was restored to the assembly, which now could pass laws without the approval of the senate. The exclusive right to furnish jurors in criminal cases was taken away from the senate; and henceforth the jurors (iudices) were to be chosen, one third from the senate, one third from the equites, and one third from the wealthy men below the rank of the equites (the so-called tribuni aerarii). Also, the power of the censors to revise the list of the senators, which Sulla had abolished, was restored; and as a result of this, sixty-four senators were expelled from the senate. By these measures the Sullan regime was practically destroyed, and the supremacy of the senate taken away. This was a great triumph for the popular party. After the close of his consulship, Pompey, with affected modesty, retired to private life.

   Pompey and the War with the Pirates.—But Pompey was soon needed to rescue Rome from still another danger. Since the decline of the Roman navy the sea had become infested with pirates. These robbers made their home in Crete and Cilicia (see map, p. 142), from which they made their depredations. They had practically the control of the whole Mediterranean, and preyed upon the commerce of the world. They plundered the cities of nearly every coast. They even cut off the grain supplies of Rome, so that Italy was threatened with a famine. To meet this emergency a law was passed (lex Gabinia, B.C. 61) giving to Pompey for three years supreme control over the Mediterranean Sea and its coasts for fifty miles inland. He was given five hundred ships and as many soldiers as he might wish. The public treasuries and all the resources of the provinces were placed at his disposal.

   Such extraordinary power had never before been given to any man, except Sulla. But Pompey fully satisfied the expectations of the people. Within ninety days from the time he set sail, he had cleared the whole Mediterranean Sea of its pirates. He had captured three thousand vessels, slain ten thousand of the enemy, and taken twenty thousand prisoners.
Cicero said in his rhetorical way that “Pompey had made his preparations for the war at the end of the winter, began it in the early spring, and finished it in the middle of the summer.” Pompey remained in the East to settle affairs in Cilicia, and perhaps to win fresh laurels as a soldier.

   Pompey and the Conquest of the East.—The splendid success of Pompey against the pirates led his friends to believe that he was the only man who could bring to a close the long and tedious war against Mithridates. Since the death of Sulla the king of Pontus had continued to be a menace to Rome. The campaigns in the East had been conducted by L. Licinius Lucullus, who was a really able general, but who was charged with prolonging the war in order to enrich himself. There was some ground, too, for this charge: for, as it was afterward well said of him, “he transplanted the luxury of Asia to Rome.” Lucullus had already gained several victories over Mithridates; but the war still lingered. A law was then passed at Rome (lex Manilia, B.C. 66) displacing Lucullus and giving to Pompey supreme control over all the Roman dominions in the East. Armed with this extensive authority, Pompey began the conquest of the East. He soon succeeded in defeating Mithridates, and in driving him from his kingdom. He then invaded Syria and took possession of that kingdom. He next entered Judea, and after a severe struggle succeeded in capturing Jerusalem (B.C. 63). All the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean were now subject to Pompey. Out of the conquered countries he formed four new provinces: (1) Bithynia with Pontus; (2) Syria; (3) Cilicia; and (4) Crete. When he returned to Italy he had the most successful and brilliant record that any Roman general had ever achieved.


   Rome during the Absence of Pompey.—During the absence of Pompey in the East (B.C. 67-61) the politics of the capital were mainly in the hands of three men—Marcus Porcius Cato, Marcus Tullius Cicero, and Gaius Julius Caesar. Cato was the grandson of Cato the Censor; and like his great ancestor he was a man of firmness and of the strictest integrity. He was by nature a conservative, and came to be regarded as the leader of the aristocratic party. He contended for the power of the senate as it existed in the days of old. But lacking the highest qualities of a statesman, he could not prevent the inroads which were being made upon the constitution.

   On the other hand, Julius Caesar was coming to the front as the leader of the popular party. Though born of patrician stock, he was related by family ties to Marius and Cinna, the old leaders of the people. He was wise enough to see that the cause of the people was in the ascendancy. He aroused the sympathies of the Italians by favoring the extension of the Roman franchise to cities beyond the Po. He appealed to the populace by the splendor of the games which he gave as curule aedile. He allied himself to Crassus, whose great wealth and average ability he could use to good advantage.

   Between these two party leaders stood Cicero, who, in spite of his vanity, was a man of great intellect and of excellent administrative ability; but being a moderate man, he was liable to be misjudged by both parties. He was also what was called a “new man” (novus homo), that is, the first of his family to obtain the senatorial rank. Cicero was made consul, and rose to the highest distinction during the absence of Pompey.

   Cicero and the Catilinian Conspiracy.—If Cicero had done nothing else, he would have been entitled to the gratitude of his country for two acts—the impeachment of Verres and the defeat of Catiline. Cicero stood for law and order, and generally for constitutional government. By his impeachment of Verres, the corrupt governor of Sicily, he brought to light, as had never been done before, the infamous methods employed in the administration of the provinces. He not only brought to light this corruption; he also brought to justice one of the greatest offenders. Then by the defeat of Catiline during his consulship Cicero saved Rome from the execution of a most infamous plot. Catiline was a man of great influence with a certain class, and had already become quite a politician. He had been a partisan of Sulla; had held the office of praetor; and had twice been defeated for the consulship. But if one half of the accounts of him are true, he was a man of most abandoned and depraved character. When Cato threatened to prosecute him, he said that if a fire were kindled against him he would put it out, not with water, but by a general ruin. Ruined himself in fortune, he gathered about him the ruined classes—insolvent debtors, desperate adventurers, and the rabble of Rome. It is said that his plot involved the purpose to kill the consuls, massacre the senators, and to burn the city of Rome. The plot was discovered by Cicero, and was foiled. Cicero delivered in the senate an oration against Catiline, who was present and attempted to reply; but his voice was drowned with the cries of “Traitor,” and he fled from the senate to his camp in Etruria. Here a desperate battle ensued; and Catiline was defeated and slain, with three thousand of his followers (B.C. 62). Five of his fellow-conspirators were condemned to death by the senate; and Cicero put the judgment into execution. This act afterward exposed Cicero to the charge of executing Roman citizens without a proper trial. But the people hailed Cicero as the savior of Rome, the Father of his Country.

   It was charged that Caesar was implicated in the plot of Catiline; but this charge was answered when Cicero declared that Caesar had done all that a good citizen could do to crush it. The great success of Cicero gave to the senate and the moderate party a temporary advantage. But the senate under the leadership of Cato and Lucullus had not the skill to retain this advantage.

   The First Triumvirate—Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus (B.C. 60).—Pompey soon returned to Italy from his victories in the East (B.C. 61). Like Marius returning from the Cimbric war, he was given a magnificent triumph. But like Sulla returning from the East, he was feared by those in power, lest he might use his victorious army to overthrow the existing government, and reign in its stead. To allay all suspicion, Pompey disbanded his army as soon as it touched the soil of Italy; and he hoped that his great services would give him the proud position of the first citizen of Rome. But in this he was disappointed. By disbanding his army, he had given up the source of his influence. Still, he hoped that the senate would at least confirm his arrangements in the East and reward his veterans by grants of land. In this, too, he was disappointed. Yielding to the influence of Lucullus, who had been deposed from the command in the East, the senate refused either to confirm his acts, or to reward his soldiers. Pompey had thus a serious grievance against the senate.

   But this grievance of Pompey might not have been very dangerous, if the senate had not also offended Caesar. Caesar was rapidly gaining power and influence. He had held the offices of military tribune, quaestor, aedile, pontifex maximus, and praetor. Then as propraetor he had been sent to Spain, where he laid the basis of his military fame. On his return from Spain the senate thwarted him in his desire to have a triumph. In other ways Caesar was embarrassed by the senate. But he was beginning to feel his power, and was not the man to put up with petty annoyances. He accordingly entered into a coalition with Pompey, to which Crassus was also admitted. This coalition, or self-constituted league, is known as the “first triumvirate.” It was formed for the purpose of opposing the senatorial party, and of advancing the personal designs of its members. By the terms of this compact Pompey was to have his acts confirmed and his veterans rewarded; Crassus was to have an opportunity to increase his fortune; and Caesar was to have the consulship, and afterward a command in Gaul. Pompey was ostensibly at the head of the league, but Caesar was its ruling spirit.

   The Consulship of Caesar (B.C. 59).—The first fruit of the new alliance was the election of Caesar to the consulship. On his election Caesar went faithfully to work to fulfill his obligations to Pompey, and to strengthen his hold upon the people. He obtained, in the first place, the passage of an agrarian law which provided for the veterans of Pompey, and which also gave estates in Campania to the needy citizens of Rome. In the next place, he secured a law confirming all the acts of Pompey in the East. Finally, he obtained the passage of a law which pleased and conciliated the equites. The tax collectors had made a high offer for the privilege of collecting the taxes of Asia, and afterward concluded that they had made a bad bargain. Accordingly, Caesar took their part, and succeeded in remitting one third of what they had agreed to give.

   These laws were bitterly opposed by the senators, but without success. Pompey was now satisfied; the people were pleased; and the capitalists were reconciled. The senate under its bad management was thus outgeneraled by Caesar; and it lost the temporary advantage it had gained during the consulship of Cicero. So completely did Julius Caesar overshadow his weak colleague, Bibulus, who was a partisan of the senate, that this term of office was humorously called the consulship of Julius and Caesar. At the close of his consulship Caesar obtained the government of Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum, to which was added Transalpine Gaul (Narbonensis). This power was granted for five years. Caesar was thus furnished with an opportunity for the exercise of his military talents, and the building up of a powerful army devoted to his cause.

   Clodius and the Banishment of Cicero.—Before Caesar departed for his provinces, he was careful to see that his interests would be looked after during his absence. He chose as his agent P. Clodius, an unscrupulous politician whose personal character was not above reproach, but whose hostility to the senate could be depended upon. To Clodius, who held the position of tribune, was given the task, first, of keeping hold of the populace; and, next, of getting out of the way as best he could the two most influential men in the senate, Cicero and Cato.

   The first part of this task he easily accomplished by passing a law that grain should hereafter be distributed to the Roman people free of all expense.

   To carry out the second part of his task was not so easy—to remove from the senate its chief leaders. Cato was disposed of, however, by a law annexing Cyprus (see map, p. 202) to the Roman dominion, and appointing him as its governor. Cicero was also got rid of by a law which Clodius succeeded in passing, and which provided that any magistrate who had put a Roman citizen to death without a trial should be banished. Cicero knew that this act was intended for him, and that it referred to his execution of the Catilinian conspirators. After vainly attempting to enlist sympathy in his own behalf, Cicero retired to Greece (B.C. 58) and devoted himself to literary pursuits. With their leaders thus removed, the senate was for a time paralyzed.

   Renewal of the Triumvirate at Lucca (B.C. 56).—When Caesar had departed from Rome to undertake his work in Gaul, Clodius began to feel his own importance and to rule with a high hand. The policy of this able and depraved demagogue was evidently to govern Rome with the aid of the mob. He paraded the streets with armed bands, and used his political influence to please the rabble. Pompey as well as the senate became disgusted with the regime of Clodius. They united their influence, and obtained the recall of Cicero from exile. At the same time Cato retuned from his absence in Cyprus. On the return of the old senatorial leaders, it looked as though the senate would once more regain its power, and the triumvirate would go to pieces.

   But the watchful eye of Caesar detected these symptoms of discontent, and a conference of the leaders took place at Lucca, a town in northern Italy (see map, p. 81), where a new arrangement was brought about. Caesar was now to be given an additional term of five years in Gaul, and to be elected consul at the end of that time; Pompey and Crassus were to receive the consulship; and at the close of their term of office Pompey was to have the provinces of Spain and Africa, and the money-loving Crassus was to receive the rich province of Syria. In this way they would divide the world among them. The terms of the agreement were apparently satisfactory to the parties concerned. Caesar now felt that matters at Rome were safe, at least until he could complete his work in Gaul and fortify his own power with a devoted and invincible army.

   Caesar and his Province.—It is not easy for us to say exactly what was in the mind of Caesar when he selected Gaul for his province. It was at this time the most forbidding part of the Roman territory. It was the home of barbarians, with no wealth like that of Asia, and few relics of a former civilization like those of Spain and Africa. But there were three or four things, no doubt, that Caesar saw clearly.

   In the first place, he saw that the power which should hereafter rule the Roman state must be a military power. Sulla had succeeded by the help of his army, and Pompey had failed by giving up his army. If he himself should ever establish his own power, it must be by the aid of a strong military force.

   In the next place, he saw that no other province afforded the same political opportunities as those which Gaul presented. It is true that the distant province of Syria might open a way for the conquest of Parthia, and for attaining the glories of another Alexander. But Syria was too far removed from Roman politics; and Caesar’s first ambition was political power, and not military glory.

   Again, he saw that the conquest of Gaul was necessary for the protection of the Roman state. The invasions of the northern barbarians—the Gauls, the Cimbri and the Teutones had twice already threatened Rome with destruction. By its conquest Gaul might be made a barrier against barbarism.

   Moreover, he saw that Rome was in need of new and fertile lands for colonization. Italy was overcrowded. The most patriotic men had seen the need of extra-Italian colonies. Gaius Gracchus had sought an outlet in Africa. He himself had advocated settlements in the valley of the Po. What Italy needed most, after a stable government, was an outlet for her surplus population. His own ambition and the highest interests of his country Caesar believed to be at one. By conquering Gaul he would be fighting not for Pompey or the senate, but for himself and Rome.

   The Conquest of Gaul (B.C. 58-51).—The provinces over which Caesar was placed at first included Cisalpine Gaul, that is, the valley of the Po; Illyricum, that is, the strip of territory across the Adriatic Sea; and Narbonensis, that is, a small part of Transalpine Gaul lying about the mouth of the Rhone. Within eight years he brought under his power all the territory bounded by the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Rhine, and the Atlantic Ocean, or about what corresponds to the modern countries of France, Belgium, and Holland.

   He at first conquered the Helvetii, a tribe lying on the outskirts of his own province of Narbonensis. He then met and drove back a great invasion of Germans, who, under a prince called Ariovistus, had crossed the Rhine, and threatened to overrun the whole of Gaul. He then pushed into the northern parts of Gaul, and conquered the Nervii and the neighboring tribes. He overcame the Veneti on the Atlantic coast, and conquered Aquitania. He also made two invasions into Britain (B.C. 55, 54), crossed the Rhine into Germany, and revealed to the Roman soldiers countries they had never seen before. After once subduing the various tribes of Gaul, he was finally caned upon to suppress a general insurrection, led by a powerful leader called Vercingetorix. The conquest of Gaul was then completed.

   A large part of the population had been either slain in war or reduced to slavery. The new territory was pacified by bestowing honors upon the Gallic chiefs, and self-government upon the surviving tribes. The Roman legions were distributed through the territory; but Caesar established no military colonies like those of Sulla. The Roman arts and manners were encouraged; and Gaul was brought within the pale of civilization.


   Dissolution of the Triumvirate.—While Caesar was absent in Gaul, the ties which bound the three leaders together were becoming weaker and weaker. The position of Crassus tended somewhat, as long as he was alive, to allay the growing suspicion between the two great rivals. But after Crassus departed for the East to take control of his province in Syria, he invaded Parthia, was badly defeated, lost the Roman standards, and was himself killed (B.C. 53). The death of Crassus practically dissolved the triumvirate; or we might rather say, it reduced the triumvirate to a duumvirate. But the relation between the two leaders was now no longer one of friendly support, but one of mutual distrust.

   The Sole Consulship of Pompey (B.C. 52)—The growing estrangement between Pompey and Caesar was increased when the senate appointed Pompey “sole consul.” This was not intended as an affront to Caesar, but was evidently demanded to meet a real emergency. The city was distracted by continual street fights between the armed bands of Clodius, the demagogue, and those of T. Annius Milo, who professed to be defending the cause of the senate. In one of these broils Clodius was killed. His excited followers made his death the occasion of riotous proceedings. His body was burned in the Forum by the wild mob, and the senate house was destroyed by fire. In the anarchy which followed, the senate felt obliged to confer some extraordinary power upon Pompey. On the proposal of Cato, he was appointed “consul without a colleague.” Under this unusual title Pompey restored order to the state, and was looked upon as “the savior of society.” He became more and more closely bound to the cause of the senate; and the senate recognized its obligations to him by prolonging his command in Spain for five years.

   The Rupture between Pompey and Caesar.—It was a part of the agreement made at the conference of Lucca, we remember, that Caesar was to receive the consulship at the close of his command in Gaul. He naturally wished to retain the control of his army until he had been elected to his new office. The senate was determined that he should not, but should present himself at Rome as a private citizen before his election. Caesar well knew that he would be helpless as a private citizen in the presence of the enemies who were seeking to destroy him. Cato had already declared that he would prosecute him as soon as he ceased to be proconsul in Gaul. Caesar promised, however, to give up his province and his army, if Pompey would do the same; but Pompey refused. The senate then called upon Caesar to give up two of his legions on the plea that they were needed in the Parthian war. The legions were given up; but instead of being sent to the East they were stationed in Campania. Upon further demands, Caesar agreed to give up eight legions of his army, if he were allowed to retain two legions in Cisalpine Gaul until the time of his election. This the senate refused; and demanded that he must give up his province and his whole army by a certain day, or be declared a public enemy. The senate had offered him humiliation or war. He chose war, and crossed the Rubicon (B.C. 49), the stream which separated his province of Cisalpine Gaul from Italy.

   Campaigns in Italy, Spain, and Greece.—The contest was now reduced to a struggle between the two greatest soldiers which Rome had ever produced. Caesar knew the value of time; at the instant when he decided upon war, he invaded Italy with a single legion. Pompey, unprepared for such a sudden move and not relying upon the two legions which the senate had taken from Caesar, was obliged to withdraw to Brundisium (see map, p. 114). Besieged in this place by Caesar, he skillfully withdrew his forces to Greece, and left Caesar master of Italy.

   Caesar was now between two hostile forces, the army in Spain under Pompey’s lieutenants, and the army in Greece under Pompey himself. He must now defeat these armies separately before they could be united against him. As he had no fleet with which to follow Pompey into Greece, he decided at once to attack the army in Spain. He dispatched his Gallic legions across the Pyrenees, while he secured himself at Rome. He entered the city, and dispelled the fear that there might be repeated the horrors of the first civil war. He showed that he was neither a Marius nor a Sulla. Rejoining his legions in Spain, he soon defeated Pompey’s lieutenants. When he returned to Rome he found that he had been proclaimed dictator. He resigned this title and accepted the office of consul.

   In the beginning of the next year (B.C. 48), with the few ships that he had collected, he transported his troops from Brundisium across the Adriatic to meet the army of Pompey. In the first conflict, at Dyrrachium, he was defeated. He then retreated across the peninsula (see map, p. 128) in the direction of Pharsalus in order to draw Pompey away from his supplies on the seacoast. The two generals met at Pharsalus (B.C. 48), when Caesar with about twenty thousand men completely defeated the army of Pompey, which numbered more than forty thousand. Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was treacherously murdered. Caesar had now accomplished the first part of his work, by taking possession of Italy and defeating the two armies of Pompey in Spain and Greece. He had established his title to supremacy. Especial honors were paid to him at Rome. He was made consul for five years, tribune for life, and dictator for one year.

   Campaigns in Egypt, Asia, Africa, and Spain.—Caesar now entered upon the second part of his work—that of pacifying the provinces. While in Egypt, be became fascinated by the charms of Cleopatra, and settled a dispute in which she was involved. That country was disturbed by a civil war between this princess and her brother Ptolemy. Each claimed the right to the throne. Caesar defeated the forces of Ptolemy and assigned the throne to Cleopatra, under the protection of two Roman legions.

   On his way back to Italy he passed through Asia Minor. Here he found Pharnaces, the son of the great Mithridates, stirring up a revolt in Pontus. At the battle of Zela (47 B.C.) he destroyed the armies of this prince, and restored the Asiatic provinces, recording his speedy victory in the famous words, “Veni, vidi, vici.”

   The armies of Caesar had now swept over all the provinces of Rome, except Africa. Here the Pompeian leaders, assisted by the king of Numidia, determined to make a last stand against the conqueror. Their forces were under Cato, who held Utica, and Metellus Scipio, who commanded in the field. After subduing a mutiny of his tenth legion by a single word,—calling the men “citizens,” instead of “fellow-soldiers,”—Caesar invaded Africa. The battle of Thapsus (B.C. 46) destroyed the last hope of the Pompeian party. The republican forces were defeated; and Cato, the chief of the senatorial party, committed suicide at Utica. In this war Numidia was conquered and attached to the province of Africa. All resistance to Caesar’s power was now at an end, except a brief revolt in Spain, led by the sons of Pompey, which was soon put down, the enemy being crushed (B.C. 45) at the battle of Munda (see map, p. 112).


   Caesar’s Triumphs and Titles.—When Caesar returned to Rome after the battle of Thapsus, he came not as the servant of the senate, but as master of the world. He crowned his victories by four splendid triumphs, one for Gaul, one for Egypt, one for Pontus, and one for Numidia. He made no reference to the civil war; and no citizens were led among his captives. His victory was attended by no massacres, no proscriptions, no confiscations. He was as generous in peace as he had been relentless in war. Caesar was great enough to forgive his enemies. A general amnesty was proclaimed; and friend and foe were treated alike. We may see the kind of power which he exercised by the titles which he received. He was consul, dictator, controller of public morals (praefectus morum), tribune, pontifex maximus, and chief of the senate (princeps senatus). He thus gathered up in his own person the powers which had been scattered among the various republican officers. The name of “imperator” with which the soldiers had been accustomed to salute a victorious general, was now made an official title, and prefixed to his name. In Caesar was thus embodied the one-man power which had been growing up during the civil wars. He was in fact the first Roman emperor.

   Caesar’s Political Reforms.—Caesar held his great power only for a short time. But the reforms which he made are enough to show us his policy, and to enable us to judge of him as a statesman. The first need of Rome was a stable government based on the interest of the whole people. The senate had failed to secure such a government; and so had the popular assemblies led by the tribunes. Caesar believed that the only government suited to Rome was a democratic monarchy—a government in which the supreme power should be held permanently by a single man, and exercised, not for the benefit of himself or any single class, but for the benefit of the whole state. Let us see how his changes accomplished this end.

   In the first place, the senate was changed to meet this view. It had hitherto been a comparatively small body, drawn from a single class and ruling for its own interests. Caesar increased the number to nine hundred members, and filled it up with representative men of all classes, not simply nobles, but also ignobiles—Spaniards, Gauls, military officers, sons of freedmen, and others. It was to be not a legislative body but an advisory body, to inform the monarch of the condition and wants of Italy and the provinces. In the next place, he extended the Roman franchise to the inhabitants beyond the Po, and to many cities in the provinces, especially in Transalpine Gaul and Spain. All his political changes tended to break down the distinction between nobles and commons, between Italians and the provincials, and to make of all the people of the empire one nation.

   Caesar’s Economic Reforms.—The next great need of Rome was the improvement of the condition of the lower classes. Caesar well knew that the condition of the people could not be changed in a day; but he believed that the government ought not to encourage pauperism by helping those who ought to help themselves. There were three hundred and twenty thousand persons at Rome to whom grain was distributed. He reduced this number to one hundred and fifty thousand, or more than one half. He provided means of employment for the idle, by constructing new buildings in the city, and other public works; and also by enforcing the law that one third of the labor employed on landed estates should be free labor. As the land of Italy was so completely occupied, he encouraged the establishment, in the provinces, of agricultural colonies which would not only tend to relieve the farmer class, but to Romanize the empire. He relieved the debtor class by a bankrupt law which permitted the insolvent debtor to escape imprisonment by turning over his property to his creditors. In such ways as these, while not pretending to abolish poverty, he afforded better means for the poorer classes to obtain a living.

   His Reform of the Provincial System.—The despotism of the Roman republic was nowhere more severe and unjust than in the provinces. This was due to two things—the arbitrary authority of the governor, and the wretched system of farming the taxes. The governor ruled the province, not for the benefit of the provincials, but for the benefit of himself. It is said that the proconsul hoped to make three fortunes out of his province—one to pay his debts, one to bribe the jury if he were brought to trial, and one to keep himself. The tax collector also looked upon the property of the province as a harvest to be divided between the Roman treasury and himself. Caesar put a check upon this system of robbery. The governor was now made a responsible agent of the emperor; and the collection of taxes was placed under a more rigid supervision. The provincials found in Caesar a protector; because his policy involved the welfare of all his subjects.

   His Other Reforms and Projects.—The most noted of Caesar’s other changes was the reform of the calendar, which has remained as he left it, with slight change, down to the present day. He also intended to codify the Roman law; to provide for the founding of public libraries; to improve the architecture of the city; to drain the Pontine Marshes for the improvement of the public health; to cut a channel through the Isthmus of Corinth; and to extend the empire to its natural limits, the Euphrates, the Danube, and the Rhine. These projects show the comprehensive mind of Caesar. That they would have been carried out in great part, if he had lived, we can scarcely doubt, when we consider his wonderful executive genius and the works he actually accomplished in the short time in which he held his power.

   The Assassination of Caesar.—If Caesar failed, it was because he did not adjust himself sufficiently to the conservative spirit of the time. There were still living at Rome men who were blindly attached to the old republican forms. To them the reforms of Caesar looked like a work of destruction, rather than a work of creation. They saw in his projects a scheme for reviving the kingship. It was said that when Caesar was offered a crown he looked at it wistfully; and that he had selected his nephew Octavius as his royal heir.

   The men who hated Caesar, and who conspired to kill him, were men who had themselves received special favors from him. The leading conspirators, M. Brutus and C. Cassius, had both served in Pompey’s army, and had been pardoned by Caesar and promoted to offices under his government. Joined by some fifty other conspirators, these men formed a plot to kill Caesar in the senate house. The story of his assassination has been told by Plutarch and made immortal by Shakespeare. When the appointed day came, the Ides of March (March 15, B.C. 44), Caesar was struck down by the daggers of his treacherous friends, and he fell at the foot of Pompey’s statue. It has been said that the murder of Caesar was the most senseless act that the Romans ever committed. His death deprived Rome of the greatest man she ever produced. But the work of the conspirators did not destroy the work of Caesar.


Liddell, Ch. 67, “The Second Civil War” (
Shuckburgh, Ch. 42, “Pompey in the East” (1).
How and Leigh, Ch. 47, “Cicero and Catiline” (1).
Merivale, Gen. Hist., Ch. 40, “The First Triumvirate” (1).
Mommsen, Vol. IV., Bk. V., Ch. 11, “The Old Republic and New Monarchy” (2).
Mommsen, abridged, Ch. 35, “Joint Rule of Pompey and Caesar” (2).
Pelham, Bk. V., Ch. 1, “The Dictatorship of Julius” (1).1).
Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar” (36).
Plutarch, “Sertorius,” “Lucullus,” “Pompey,” “Crassus,” “Cato the Younger,” “Caesar,” “Cicero” (11).


   CAESAR’S CAMPAIGNS IN GAUL.—How and Leigh, Ch. 49 (1); Shuckburgh, Ch. 44 (1); Merivale, Gen. Hist., Ch. 41 (1); Merivale, Triumvirates, Ch. 5 (6); Merivale, Empire, Chs. 5-12 (7); Dodge, Julius Caesar, Chs. 8-14 (22).

1 Son of the colleague of Marius (
p. 165).

2 The figure in parenthesis refers to the number of the topic in the
Appendix, where a fuller title of the book will be found.


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