XV. PROGRESS OF THE GREAT POMPEY.
Cæsar now entered upon a wonderful career of conquest, which lasted nine years. The story of what he accomplished during the first seven is given in his "Commentaries," as they are called, which are still read in schools, on account of the incomparable simplicity, naturalness, and purity of the style in which they are written, as well as because they seem to give truthful accounts of the events they describe. Sixty years before this time the Romans had possessed themselves of a little strip of Gaul south of the Alps, which was known as the Province, [Footnote: See pages 166 and 182.] and though they had ever since thought that there was a very important region to the north and west that might be conquered, they made no great effort to gain it. Cæsar was now to win imperishable laurels by effecting what had been before only vaguely dreamed of. He first made himself master of the country of the Helvetii (modern Switzerland), defeated the Germans under their famous general Ariovistus, and subjected the Belgian confederacy. The frightful carnage involved in these campaigns cannot be described, and the thousands upon thousands of brave barbarians who were sacrificed to the extension of Roman civilization are enough to make one shudder. When the despatches of Cæsar announcing his successes reached Rome, the senate, on motion of Cicero, though against the protestations of Cato, ordained that a grand public thanksgiving, lasting fifteen days, should be celebrated (B.C. 57). This was an unheard-of honor, the most ostentatious thanksgiving of the kind before - that given to Pompey, after the close of the war against Mithridates - having lasted but ten days.
Pompey and Crassus had fallen out during the absence of Cæsar, and he now invited them to meet and consult at Lucca, at the foot of the Apennines, just north of Pisa, where (April, 56) he held a sort of court, hundreds of Roman senators waiting upon him to receive the bribes with which he ensured the success of his measures during his absences in the field. [Footnote: Pompey had left Rome ostensibly for the purpose of arranging for supplies of grain from Africa and Sardinia. He was followed by many of his most noted adherents, the conference counting more than two hundred senators and sixscore lictors. Cæsar, like a mighty magician, caused the discordant spirits to act in concert. The power of the triumvirs is shown by the change that came over public opinion, and the calmness with which their acts were submitted to, though it was evident that the historic form of government was to be overturned, and a monarchy established. ] Here the three agreed that Pompey should rule Spain, Crassus Syria, and Cæsar Gaul, which he had made his own. Cæsar still kept on with his conquests, meeting desperate resistance, however, from the hordes of barbarians, who would not remain conquered, but engaged in revolts that caused him vast trouble and the loss of large numbers of soldiers. Incidentally to his other wars, he made two incursions into Britain, the home of our forefathers (B.C. 55 and 54), and nominally conquered the people, but it was not a real subjugation. Shakespeare did not make a mistake when he put into the mouth of the queen-wife of Cymbeline the words:
* * * "A kind of conquest
Cæsar made here; but made not here his brag
Of 'came' and 'saw' and 'overcame,'"
and certainly the brave Britons did not continue to obey their self-styled Roman "rulers."