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B.C.44J ASSASSINATION OF CAESAR. 259
arms, he seized the hilt of Casca's dagger. For a moment he defended himself with his stilus* and wounded one of his assailants. But at the sight of Brutus among his murderers, he exclaimed, '• Et tu, Brute "—" Thou too, Brutus !"—drew his toga over his face, and ceased resistance, while the conspirators fulfilled the oath they had sworn, that each one of them would bathe his dagger in the Dictator's blood. Supported for an instant by the blows struck at him from every side, he staggered a few paces, and fell on a spot which seemed chosen by the very irony of fate :—
"Even at the base of Pompcy's statue,
He died in his fifty-sixth year. The deeds which he had performed, and the much vaster enterprizes that he meditated, bear witness to his transcendent practical genius alike in war and peace. His intellectual qualities and habits are described by Cicero as embracing genius, understanding, memory, taste, reflection, industry, and exactness. The universal application of his powers is thus summed up by a modern historian:—" He was great in everything he undertook; as a captain, a statesman, a lawgiver, a jurist, an orator, a poet, an historian, a grammarian, a mathematician, and anarchiteef't And the historian of the Caesars has pointed out that "The secret of this manifold excellence was discovered by Pliny in the unparalleled energy of Caesar's inteUectual powers, which he could devote without distraction to several subjects at once, or rush at any moment from one occupation to another with the abruptness and rapidity of lightning.}: Caesar could be writing and reading, dictating and listening, all at the same time; he was wont to occupy four amanuenses at once, and had been known on occasions to employ as many as seven together. § And, as if to complete the picture of the most perfect specimen of human ability, we are assured that in all the exercises of the camp his vigour and skill were not less conspicuous. He fought at the most perilous moments in the ranks of the soldiers; he could manage his charger without the use of reins, and he saved his life at Alexandria by bis address in tbe art of swimming."* Tbere is a bust of Julius Caesar in tbe Britisb Museum, in wbich every lineament corresponds to tbis character, and wbich gives us a far better idea of bis features tban all tbe laboured description of bis biographers. Of bis moral quahties, we have had frequent occasion to notice his generosity and affability, his marvellous power of winning friends, and his clemency to bis enemies. The last quality proceeded from a mixture of genuine kindness of heart with a farsighted magnanimity of policy; for he was restrained by no scruple of conscience from using whatever means would effect his ends. His Epicurean love of the amenities of life never descended to the habit of gross self-indulgence. Though profligate in his amours from his earliest youth, and in tbe case of Cleopatra enslaved by love, his habitual temperance is attested by the saying of Cato, that Caesar alone came sober to the overthrow of the Republic. In the control of his temper also he presented a striking contrast to Alexander, f These virtues were conspicuous on the surface of Caesar's character; but, if we descend deeper, we find in him faults that are an epitome of the corruption of his age,—its want of reverence for the old foundations of social virtue, and for the first principles of truth and of self-sacrificing virtue. He was at once the product and the avenger of the deep-seated diseases which had made the longer duration of the existing state of things at Rome impossible. Cicero, in spite of his pitiable weaknesses, — Cato, notwithstanding his repulsive harshness,—could live through the same age without the sacrifice of pure morality and unselfish patriotism. It is with such men that Caesar should be compared, and not with Pompey and the faction of the nobles. That these men were utterly in the wrong does not prove Caesar to have been in the right; nor does the useless crime of his murderers raise him to the dignity of a political martyr. The necessities which urged him on through the later stages of his career— even could "the tyrant's plea" ever be admitted as valid—can plead no excuse for the deliberate choice of bis earlier ambition, nor exempt him from the condemnation which history passes upon the usurper. And when the points of real greatness in his character are used to cast a false halo over each fresh attempt to imitate his political crimes, that very greatness assures us that the result must be but a wretched plagiarism:—
* The short piece of iron, sharpened at the end, for writing on waxen tablets, which a Roman carried in his writing case.
t Draniann, GtachieMe Rorns, vol. iii. p. 746.
t So Cicero says of him: "Sed hoc rtpat horribili vigilantia, celeritate, diligentia «t" Ud AU. VIII. 9.)
5 At least so says Pliny (II.N. vii. 25). Perhaps there are official persons who ran form some idea of the amount of attention to each clerk, which would bring the »Utanent within the limits of possibility.
"None but himself can be his parallel."
• Merivale, Vol. II. p. 600.
+ "Magno illo Alexandre, scd soirio ncquc iracundo, similliiixus." (Veil. Paterc.) B.C. 44 J THE CONSPIRATORS AND THE PEOPLE. 201
THE LAST CIVIL WAR: AND THE FOUNDATION OF THE EMPIRE —FROM THE DEATH OF CAESAR TO THE BATTLE OF ACTIUM. B.C. 44 TO B.C. 31.
'Hia legs bestrid the ocean: his rear'd arm
Sxqtjex or Cbsab S Death—The Conspirators And The People—The Corpse Of
Cjsak Proceedings Of Antony—Decision Of The Senate—Hollow Reconci
Liation Cssas's Acts Are Confirmed And The Provinces Allotted — Cesar 3
Testament Puneral Oration Of Mark Antony—Furt Of The People—GoVernment Of Antony—His Use Of Cesar's Papers—Octavios At Apollonia— Bis Decision On Hiar1no Of Cesar's Death—M. Vipsanius Aorippa —Octavius Returns To Italy—Claims His Inheritance As 0. Julius Cjisar Octavianes— His Interview With Cicero—He Arrives At Rome—Omens Of His Greatness—
Hk Coirts The Senate And People—His Interview With Antony Ootavian
D1scbaroes Cssar's Bequests — Nis Popularity—Apotheosis Of Julius The
Provinces—Cicero's 'philippics'—Antony Leaves Rome—War Of Mutina— Defeat Of Antony—Octavian Breaks With The Senate, Returns To Home, And Becomes Consul—His Coalition With Antont And Lepidcs—Second Tr1umfi
B_ate Proscription—Murder Of Cicero—Successes Of Sextus Pompeius—Tub
Republicans In The East—Battles Of Philippi—Deaths Of Brutus And Cassius
Partition Of The Provinces—antony And Cleopatra—Confusion In Italy—
-war Of Pe'lusia—The Parthians In Syria—Antont And Sextus Before Bkun
Disium Reconciliation Of The Triumvirs—Peace With Sextus Pompey At Mi
Gzstrm Ventidius Defeats The Parthians—New War With Sextus, And Defeat
Of Octavian—Second Reconciliation Of Ootavian And Antony—Treaty Of
T1kextcm Aorippa's Victory Over Sextus Pompey —Deposition Of Lepidus —
Peatit Of Sextus—Extinction Of Tne Senatorial Party—Honouhs Heaped Upon Octavian —Aorippa And M.scenas—Antony And Cleopatra In The East—
ASTONl's DEFEAT IN Parthia—HIS ARMENIAN CAMPAIGN AND TRIUMPH AT ALEXANDRIA ROMAN PROVINCES GIVEN TO CLEOPATRA—THE EGYPTIAN COURT OCTA
VIAN'S SUCCESSFUL WARS IN THE ALPS—HIS GROWINO POPULARITY—FINAL BREACH
WITH ANTONY WAR DECLARED AGAINST EGYPT—BATTLE OF ACTIUM—FLIGHT OF
CLEOPATRA AND AKTONY —OCTAVIAN LANDS IN EGYPT—DEATHS OF ANTONY, CLIOPATRA, ASD CSSARION — EGYPT MADE A ROMAN PROVINCE—RETURN AND TRIUMPH OF OOTAVIAN—EPOCH OF THE EMPIRE.
Could the murder of Cassar have been justified on moral CTonnds, the want of any preparation for the next step would have branded it as a crime. The conspirators seemed to have hoped that the people would at once have ratified their deed; and they rushed from the Senate-house to the Forum, brandishing their bloody daggers, carrying a cap of liberty on the point of a spear, and crying out that they had killed a tyrant and a king. Brutus mounted the rostra, and began an elaborate speech; but, instead of being hailed as the second founder of the Republic, his voice was drowned in tumultuous cries. The people had wavered in their allegiance to Caasar; but a true instinct told them that they would be no gainers by his death. The rest of the Senators had dispersed in fright on the perpetration of the deed, and the conspirators found themselves completely isolated. They hastened to the Capitol, under the pretence of paying their vows to Jupiter, and occupied it with the bands of Decimus Brutus. The movement was not too soon, for Lepidus who, as master of the horse, commanded a legion outside the city, sent troops to occupy the Forum during the night. These hasty movements had left them no time to drag the body of Cresar, as those of the Gracchi had been dragged, through the streets, and throw it into the Tiber—an indignity which some at least of the conspirators proposed. The corpse of the master of the world, who had boasted in the morning that the Ides of March had come and found him safe, lay alone at the base of his rival's statue, till three of his servants carried it on a broken litter to his house. Antony had escaped in the first confusion. His death had been proposed by some of the conspirators as needful for their safety, but Brutus had protested against sullying tyrannicide with wanton murder; and they now found their own safety in the double policy of Antony. They were joined in the Capitol by the small remnant whom the civil war had left of the old aristocratic party. Among the first to resort to them was Cicero, who never ceased to praise the deed which had been done, as an act of justice on a public enemy. He urged the vigorous policy of assuming the government of the state, and above all making no terms with Antony.
The surviving consul, shut up for security in his own house, continued during the night to gain information of the proceedings of the conspirators, to communicate with Lepidus, and above all to secure Caesar's private papers, which were sent to him by Calpurnia, with a treasure of 4000 talents. The possession of Caesar's will gave him an irresistible appeal to the people, and Lepidus was won over by the promise of the vacant pontificate. But on the following morning (March 16th) another of Ctesar's partisans, Dolabella, came forward to support the conspirators from personal enmity to Antony. His appearance in the Forum with the insignia of a consul—for Caesar had promised him the succession to the office—encouraged the friends of the conspirators to invite them
B.C. 44.] WILL AND FUNERAL OF CESAR. 263
to descend into the Forum, where Brutus again harangued the people. He holdly justified the deed, claimed to have acted in the spirit of his great ancestor, and called the people to rally once more round the Pompeian standard, which Sextus was still bearing up against the forces of the late Dictator. But the appeal met with no response, and the conspirators returned to the Capitol. They now saw that their only hope was to make terms with Antony, who, by his authority as consul, opened the public treasury, which contained the enormous sum of 700,000,000 sesterces, and assumed the government of the city. The conspirators invited him to summon the Senate to decide between the two parties; and he at once complied, feeling that the balance was thus thrown into his own hands. His proposal that the acts of Caesar should be ratified, his murder passed over in silence, and his remains honoured with a public funeral, was warmly supported hy Cicero, and adopted by the Senate. The conspirators came down from the Capitol in the guise rather of amnestied criminals than of triumphant liberators. Brutus supped with Lepidus, and Cassius with Antony; but the grim pleasantries of the latter hanquet betrayed what was in their thoughts. "Have you still a dagger under your arm?" asked the consul in a tone of raillery. "Yes!" replied Cassius, with some bitterness; "one for you if you affect the tyranny."
On the following day (March 18th) the conspirators resumed their places in the Senate, which confirmed the assignment of the provinces that Csesar had already made to him. Cisalpine Gaul was allotted to Decimus Brutus, who would thus hold the command of an army in the north of Italy; Marcus Brutus obtained Macedonia, where the legions destined for the Parthian war were assembled; Asia and Syria gave Trebonius and Cassius the resources of the East. Marcus Brutus and Cassius, however, had still to fulfil the year of their prsetorship at Rome; while the supreme magistracy remained in the hands of the consuls Antony and Dolabella, who had affected a reconciliation. Antony, as will immediately appear, flattered himself with the power of crushing the conspirators long before they could assume their respective governments. The public funeral of Caesar furnished his opportunity.
Atticus, as he sat by Cicero in the Senate, had whispered that all was lost if the funeral were permitted, and Cassius had attempted an opposition, which was overruled by Brutus. Before the day appointed for the funeral, the testament of Caesar was