CHAPTER X. CAESAR IMPERATOR.
[Caesar again at Rome.] [Combinations against him.] [Veni, vidi, vici.]
Although Pompey himself had been killed, and the army under his immediate command entirely annihilated, Caesar did not find that the empire was yet completely submissive to his sway. As the tidings of his conquests spread over the vast and distant regions which were under the Roman rule - although the story itself of his exploits might have been exaggerated - the impression produced by his power lost something of its strength, as men generally have little dread of remote danger. While he was in Egypt, there were three great concentrations of power formed against him in other quarters of the globe: in Asia Minor, in Africa, and in Spain. In putting down these three great and formidable arrays of opposition, Caesar made an exhibition to the world of that astonishing promptness and celerity of military action on which his fame as a general so much depends. He went first to Asia Minor, and fought a great and decisive battle there, in a manner so sudden and unexpected to the forces that opposed him that they found themselves defeated almost before they suspected that their enemy was near. It was in reference to this battle that he wrote the inscription for the banner, "Veni, vidi, vici" The words may be rendered in English, "I came, looked, and conquered," though the peculiar force of the expression, as well as the alliteration, is lost in any attempt to translate it.
[Caesar made dictator.]
In the mean time, Caesar's prosperity and success had greatly strengthened his cause at Rome. Rome was supported in a great measure by the contributions brought home from the provinces by the various military heroes who were sent out to govern them; and, of course, the greater and more successful was the conqueror, the better was he qualified for stations of highest authority in the estimation of the inhabitants of the city. They made Caesar dictator even while he was away, and appointed Mark Antony his master of horse. This was the same Antony whom we have already mentioned as having been connected with Cleopatra after Caesar's death. Rome, in fact, was filled with the fame of Caesar's exploits, and, as he crossed the Adriatic and advanced toward the city, he found himself the object of universal admiration and applause.
[Opposition of Cato.] [Pompey's sons.]
But he could not yet be contented to establish himself quietly at Rome. There was a large force organized against him in Africa under Cato, a stern and indomitable man, who had long been an enemy to Caesar, and who now considered him as a usurper and an enemy of the republic, and was determined to resist him to the last extremity. There was also a large force assembled in Spain under the command of two sons of Pompey, in whose case the ordinary political hostility of contending partisans was rendered doubly intense and bitter by their desire to avenge their father's cruel fate. Caesar determined first to go to Africa, and then, after disposing of Cato's resistance, to cross the Mediterranean into Spain.
[Complaints of the soldiers.]
Before he could set out, however, on these expeditions, he was involved in very serious difficulties for a time, on account of a great discontent which prevailed in his army, and which ended at last in open mutiny. The soldiers complained that they had not received the rewards and honors which Caesar had promised them. Some claimed offices, others money others lands, which, as they maintained, they had been led to expect would be conferred upon them at the end of the campaign. The fact undoubtedly was, that, elated with their success, and intoxicated with the spectacle of the boundless influence and power which their general so obviously wielded at Rome, they formed expectations and hopes for themselves altogether too wild and unreasonable to be realized by soldiers; for soldiers, however much they may be flattered by their generals in going into battle, or praised in the mass in official dispatches, are after all but slaves, and slaves, too, of the very humblest caste and character.
[The mutiny.] [The army marches to Rome.]
The famous tenth legion, Cesar's favorite corps, took the most active part in fomenting these discontents, as might naturally have been expected, since the attentions and the praises which he had bestowed upon them, though at first they tended to awaken their ambition, and to inspire them with redoubled ardor and courage, ended, as such favoritism always does, in making them vain, self-important, and unreasonable. Led on thus by the tenth legion, the whole army mutinied. They broke up the camp where they had been stationed at some distance beyond the walls of Rome, and marched toward the city. Soldiers in a mutiny, even though headed by their subaltern officers, are very little under command; and these Roman troops, feeling released from their usual restraints, committed various excesses on the way, terrifying the inhabitants and spreading universal alarm. The people of the city were thrown into utter consternation at the approach of the vast horde, which was coming like a terrible avalanche to descend upon them.
[Plan of the soldiers.]
The army expected some signs of resistance at the gates, which, if offered, they were prepared to encounter and overcome. Their plan was, after entering the city, to seek Caesar and demand their discharge from his service. They knew that he was under the necessity of immediately making a campaign in Africa, and that, of course, he could not possibly, as they supposed, dispense with them. He would, consequently, if they asked their discharge, beg them to remain, and, to induce them to do it, would comply with all their expectations and desires.