CHAPTER IX. CAESAR IN EGYPT.
[Caesar after the battle of Pharsalia.]
Caesar surveyed the field of battle after the victory of Pharsalia, not with the feelings of exultation which might have been expected in a victorious general, but with compassion and sorrow for the fallen soldiers whose dead bodies covered the ground. After gazing upon the scene sadly and in silence for a time, he said, "They would have it so," and thus dismissed from his mind all sense of his own responsibility for the consequences which had ensued.
[His clemency.] [Caesar pursues Pompey.]
He treated the immense body of prisoners which had fallen into his hands with great clemency, partly from the natural impulses of his disposition, which were always generous and noble, and partly from policy, that he might conciliate them all, officers and soldiers, to acquiescence in his future rule. He then sent back a large portion of his force to Italy, and, taking a body of cavalry from the rest, in order that he might advance with the utmost possible rapidity, he set off through Thessaly and Macedon in pursuit of his fugitive foe.
[Treasures of the Temple of Diana.]
He had no naval force at his command, and he accordingly kept upon the land. Besides, he wished, by moving through the country at the head of an armed force, to make a demonstration which should put down any attempt that might be made in arty quarter to rally or concentrate a force in Pompey's favor. He crossed the Hellespont, and moved down the coast of Asia Minor. There was a great temple consecrated to Diana at Ephesus, which, for its wealth and magnificence, was then the wonder of the world. The authorities who had it in their charge, not aware of Caesar's approach, had concluded to withdraw the treasures from the temple and loan them to Pompey, to be repaid when he should have regained his Dower. An assembly was accordingly convened to witness the delivery of the treasures, and take note of their value, which ceremony was to be performed with great formality and parade, when they learned that Caesar had crossed the Hellespont and was drawing near. The whole proceeding was thus arrested, and the treasures were retained.
[Caesar in Asia Minor.] [He sails for Egypt.]
Caesar passed rapidly on through Asia Minor, examining and comparing, as he advanced, the vague rumors which were continually coming in in respect to Pompey's movements. He learned at length that he had gone to Cyprus; he presumed that his destination was Egypt, and he immediately resolved to provide himself with a fleet, and follow him thither by sea. As time passed on, and the news of Pompey's defeat and flight, and of Caesar's triumphant pursuit of him, became generally extended and confirmed, the various powers ruling in all that region of the world abandoned one after another the hopeless cause, and began to adhere to Caesar. They offered him such resources and aid as he might desire. He did not, however, stop to organize a large fleet or to collect an army. He depended, like Napoleon, in all the great movements of his life, not on grandeur of preparation, but on celerity of action. He organized at Rhodes a small but very efficient fleet of ten galleys, and, embarking his best troops in them, he made sail for the coasts of Egypt. Pompey had landed at Pelusium, on the eastern frontier, having heard that the young king and his court were there to meet and resist Cleopatra's invasion. Caesar, however, with the characteristic boldness and energy of his character, proceeded directly to Alexandria, the capital.
[Caesar at Alexandria.]
Egypt was, in those days, an ally of the Romans, as the phrase was; that is, the country, though it preserved its independent organization and its forms of royalty, was still united to the Roman people by an intimate league, so as to form an integral part of the great empire. Caesar, consequently, in appearing there with an armed force, would naturally be received as a friend. He found only the garrison which Ptolemy's government had left in charge of the city. At first the officers of this garrison gave him an outwardly friendly reception, but they soon began to take offense at the air of authority and command which he assumed, and which seemed to them to indicate a spirit of encroachment on the sovereignty of their own king.
[The Roman fasces.] [The lictors.]
Feelings of deeply-seated alienation and animosity sometimes find their outward expression in contests about things intrinsically of very little importance. It was so in this case. The Roman consuls were accustomed to use a certain badge of authority called the fasces. It consisted of a bundle of rods, bound around the handle of an ax. Whenever a consul appeared in public, he was preceded by two officers called lictors, each of whom carried the fasces as a symbol of the power which was vested in the distinguished personage who followed them.
The Egyptian officers and the people of the city quarreled with Caesar on account of his moving about among them in his imperial state, accompanied by a life guard, and preceded by the lictors. Contests occurred between his troops and those of the garrison, and many disturbances were created in the streets of the city. Although no serious collision took place, Caesar thought it prudent to strengthen his force, and he sent back to Europe for additional legions to come to Egypt and join him.
[Pompey's head sent to Caesar.] [Caesar mourns Pompey.]