CHAPTER II. CAESAR'S EARLY YEARS.
The people of Rome had, of course, no printed books, and yet they were mentally cultivated and refined, and were qualified for a very high appreciation of intellectual pursuits and pleasures. In the absence, therefore, of all facilities for private reading, the Forum became the great central point of attraction. The same kind of interest which, in our day, finds its gratification in reading volumes of printed history quietly at home, or in silently perusing the columns of newspapers and magazines in libraries and reading-rooms, where a whisper is seldom heard, in Caesar's day brought every body to the Forum, to listen to historical harangues, or political discussions, or forensic arguments in the midst of noisy crowds. Here all tidings centered; here all questions were discussed and all great elections held. Here were waged those ceaseless conflicts of ambition and struggles of power on which the fate of nations, and sometimes the welfare of almost half mankind depended. Of course, every ambitious man who aspired to an ascendency over his fellow-men, wished to make his voice heard in the Forum. To calm the boisterous tumult there, and to hold, as some of the Roman orators could do, the vast assemblies in silent and breathless attention, was a power as delightful in its exercise as it was glorious in its fame. Caesar had felt this ambition, and had devoted himself very earnestly to the study of oratory.
[Apollonius.] [Caesar studies under him.]
His teacher was Apollonius, a philosopher and rhetorician from Rhodes. Rhodes is a Grecian island, near the southwestern coast of Asia Minor Apollonius was a teacher of great celebrity, and Caesar became a very able writer and speaker under his instructions. His time and attention were, in fact, strangely divided between the highest and noblest intellectual avocations, and the lowest sensual pleasures of a gay and dissipated life. The coming of Sylla had, however, interrupted all; and, after receiving the dictator's command to give up his wife and abandon the Marian faction, and determining to disobey it, he fled suddenly from Rome, as was stated at the close of the last chapter, at midnight, and in disguise.
[Caesar's wanderings.] [He is seized by a centurion.]
He was sick, too, at the time, with an intermittent fever. The paroxysm returned once in three or four days, leaving him in tolerable health during the interval. He went first into the country of the Sabines, northeast of Rome, where he wandered up and down, exposed continually to great dangers from those who knew that he was an object of the great dictator's displeasure, and who were sure of favor and of a reward if they could carry his head to Sylla He had to change his quarters every day, and to resort to every possible mode of concealment. He was, however, at last discovered, and seized by a centurion. A centurion was a commander of a hundred men; his rank and his position therefore, corresponded somewhat with those of a captain in a modern army. Caesar was not much disturbed at this accident. He offered the centurion a bribe sufficient to induce him to give up his prisoner, and so escaped.
[Caesar in Asia Minor.] [He joins the court of Nicomedes.]
The two ancient historians, whose records contain nearly all the particulars of the early life of Caesar which are now known, give somewhat contradictory accounts of the adventures which befell him during his subsequent wanderings. They relate, in general, the same incidents, but in such different connections, that the precise chronological order of the events which occurred can not now be ascertained. At all events, Caesar, finding that he was no longer safe in the vicinity of Rome, moved gradually to the eastward, attended by a few followers, until he reached the sea, and there he embarked on board a ship to leave his native land altogether. After various adventures and wanderings, he found himself at length in Asia Minor, and he made his way at last to the kingdom of Bithynia, on the northern shore. The name of the king of Bithynia was Nicomedes. Caesar joined himself to Nicomedes's court, and entered into his service. In the mean time, Sylla had ceased to pursue him, and ultimately granted him a pardon, but whether before or after this time is not now to be ascertained. At all events, Caesar became interested in the scenes and enjoyments of Nicomedes's court, and allowed the time to pass away without forming any plans for returning to Rome.
[Cilicia.] [Character of its inhabitants.]