to descend into the Forum, where Brutus again harangued the people. He boldly 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 Cæsar should be ratified, his murder passed over in silence, and his remains honoured with a public funeral, was warmly supported by 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 banquet 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 Cæsar 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 prætorship 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 Cæsar 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 Cæsar was


Lade public. * Joined with his chief heir were Pedius and Pinerias, the other two grandsons of his sisters, and the ingratitude which stamped so many of his murderers was keenly felt, when the name of Decimus Brutus appeared among the heirs in reversion. But an interest more than sentimental was excited when the people heard that Cæsar had left a legacy of 300 sesterces (nearly 31.) to every citizen, besides bequeathing to them his gardens beyond the Tiber, with their halls and corridors, which were afterwards enlarged and beautified by Augustus. They were already overwhelmed with gratitude, shame, and indignation, when their senses were appealed to by the magnificent obsequies of their benefactor, whose waxen effigy was raised on a platform which turned in every direction, exhibiting the marks of the threeand-twenty wounds. Nor was their imagination less inflamed by the dramas which formed a part of the funeral games. The Con- ; test for the Arms of Achilles reminded them that their hero had left behind neither a Ulysses nor an Ajax among the factions that kept hollow truce over his corpse; and the story of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra reminded them of the revenge due for an unnatural murder. Last of all, the consul Antony came forward to pronounce that marvellous oration which Appian has preserved, and of which the authority of Cicero proves that our great dramatist has not exaggerated the power and the artifice. When at the highest pitch to which he could work up his hearers' recollection of the great deeds of Julius, he suddenly lifted the blood-stained robe that covered the mangled corse, and for every rent in the garment pointed to a wound in the beloved form, the struggling tide of fury burst forth at once. They forbad the body to be carried forth to the pyre built up in the Campus Martius. Here it should be burnt, in the Forum, nay some said in the very temple of Jupiter. At last it was borne to the Curia of Pompey, the scene of the bloody deed. A funeral pile was built up of benches and tables, and an apparition of the Dioscuri themselves, descending to apply the torch, redeemed the sacrilege of burning the dead within the sacred boundary of the city. The garments and trinkets of the bystanders, the instruments of the musicians, the arms of the soldiers, were cast upon the burning heap, around which men of every nation, from the Celt to the Jew, swelled the chorus of

* It is by dramatic licence that Shakspere has connected the reading of the will with the funeral oration of Antony.

+ There was no recognition of Cæsarion, and Cleopatra retired in disappointment to Egypt.

"Tua illa pulchra laudatio, tua miseratio, tua cohortatio(Cicero, Philipp. II. 36).

wailing, which soon changed to the cry of vengeance. Brands snatched from the pyre were borne against the houses of Brutus and Cassius, who had fled from the city at the beginning of the tumult. Their retainers repulsed the disorderly assault; but the mob roamed through the city in search of victims; and the poet Helvius Cinna, an attached friend of Cæsar's, was torn in pieces by mistake for Cinna the conspirator. A marble column was soon afterwards erected by the people over Cæsar's ashes, with an inscription, “ To the Father of his country.”

That day's work put an end to the hollow compromise, and left Antony master of Rome. He invited the chiefs of both parties in the Senate to join him in a policy of moderation. Just when he was expected to claim the dictatorship, he proposed the abolition of the office, which no Roman ruler ever afterwards assumed; and Cicero uttered the universal joy at this deliverance not only from the royalty they had borne, but from the very fear of royalty. But they soon found themselves subject to a new and capricious form of irresponsible power. Keeping to himself Cæsar's private papers, Antony began to use them as the authority for proposing new measures, banishing one man, and conferring honours and rewards upon another; and this upon such scraps of memoranda, that, as Cicero says, every act, writing, word, promise, thought of Cæsar's had more force than if he had been alive. Nor was this all. When no vestige of a document could be found to suit his purpose, Antony employed one of his scribes, named Faberius, to fabricate what he wanted. The Senate, taught by recent experience the power of Cæsar's name, registered every decree that professed to bear it; but the wits of Rome took their revenge on those who owed their advancement to the alleged favour of the dead, by nicknaming them Orcitoe and Charonitæ, the 6 men of Orcus ” and *** passengers of Charon.” The impatience which the populace began to feel under his despotic government was made a pretext for demanding the Senate's permission to enrol a body-guard of six thousand men. But it was now time to provide for the security of Italy; and Antony left the city in April to superintend the distribution of the Campanian lands among Cæsar's veterans, under an agrarian law carried by his brother Lucius as tribune. His colleague Dolabella, left behind to govern Rome, gratified the Senate, and excited the anxiety of Antony, by the severity with which he repressed the popular movements that were made in the name of Cæsar. Party relations had fallen into a confusion which a power above that of Antony and the Senate was to bring back to order.

ne popular movementen into a contu.

back to order.

Caius Octavius—as we have now to call him for the last time -had been but a few months at Apollonia, waiting for Cæsar's landing on his way to the East, when a hurried letter from his mother Atia informed him of the deed of the Ides of March. The news had reached her but vaguely, and the will had not yet been published; but the instinct of woman saw in the youth at once the only head of Cæsar's party and avenger of his death. She urged his instant return to Rome :-“Go, my son : may the gods conduct thee whither thy high destiny calls thee: may they grant me soon to see thee victorious over thy enemies !” A responsive chord was at once struck in the breast of Octavius. The ambition of the youth who had ventured, at the age of eighteen, to ask Cæsar for the mastership of the horse, did not shrink from his high destiny; and from that moment he resolved to prove himself “the nephew of his uncle.” It was an act of personal devotion, not of political principle; and the key to the apparent inconsistencies of his career is to be found in the fact that, while his own politics were aristocratic, he devoted himself heart and soul to the exaction of vengeance for Cæsar's death, and the recovery of Cæsar's inheritance of empire.

It was his fortune to have at his side one of those friends, who, like Sully to Henry IV., seem created to double the strength and counsel of men who are called to a great work. MARCUS VIPSANIUS AGRIPPA, born, like Octavius himself, in the consulship of Cicero (B.C. 63), of an obscure family,* had been appointed by Cæsar as the companion of his military studies at Apollonia. He already showed the elements of that character, the subsequent development of which has been well described in the following words :-"He was, in the highest sense of the term, a man of business, possessing with force of character and natural courage that intuitive good sense which seems more like instinct than genius, but which, if less brilliant, is nearly always more successful. His straightforward abilities were exactly of the class required to complete the far-reaching policies, but over-subtle appliances, of his companion.” Octavius had also with him Quintus Salvidienus Rufus, who, after rendering him good service, turned traitor and was put to death in B.C. 40. Agrippa and Salvidienus advised him to sail for Italy at the head of the soldiers in the camp of Apollonia, who declared their readiness to follow him. But now he began to show that profound policy which makes the youth of nineteen one of the greatest wonders of

* It is not certain whether his father was the son of a freedman.

history. Rather than proclaim a new civil war, which would have enabled Antony to declare him a public enemy, he resolved to throw himself upon the support of Cæsar's partisans in Italy. Crossing the Adriatic with only a few attendants, he landed, not at Brundisium, but at the obscure town of Lupia, and there remained quiet to learn the course that events had taken. Here he was joined by his mother Atia and his step-father Philippus, and the tidings of Cæsar's will determined him, in spite of their earnest dissuasion, to claim his inheritance and to assume his adoptive name, C. JULIUS CÆSAR OCTAVIANUS. Received with enthusiasm by the garrison of Brundisium, he boldly sent forward his claims to Rome; but still he declined the services of the veterans who flocked around him, and journeyed leisurely onwards. At Puteoli he visited and conversed with Cicero, who was rejoiced to welcome a rival to the hated Antony. He reached Rome on the 27th of April, and, as he entered the city, a peculiar effulgence about the sun was interpreted as a welcome from heaven. This omen was but one of many, which are said to have attended his whole course, from the morning of his birth, on the very day on which the Senate was discussing the fate of the Catilinarian conspirators, when an astrologer declared that the Lord of the World was


Octavian at once took the formal steps for claiming Cæsar's inheritance, but preserved an impenetrable reserve concerning the succession to his honours. The necessity of obtaining a Lex Curiata to sanction his adoption gave occasion to his haranguing the people, and his praises of the late Dictator excited Cicero's anxiety; but his bearing conciliated the Senate. Antony hastened back to Rome, where he arrived in May, and an interview with Octavian revealed to him the unsuspected force of his rival's character. He refused to pay over Cæsar's money, on the grounds that it was public money and was all spent, and that but for him the will would have been set aside. He claimed Octavian's gratitude, and appealed to his fears, urging him not to assume a name that would bring on him so many enemies. Octavian at once sold his own property, and, gathering all he could obtain from his friends, discharged his unele's legacies. This act at once exhibited to the Senate his firm resolution, and laid the basis of his popularity in the gratitude of every Roman citizen. A splendid opportunity now occurred for showing himself to the people as an heir worthy of Cæsar. On the morning of Pharsalia, when the consul gave his watchword of Venus Genetrix, he had vowed to

« ForrigeFortsett »