The Lives of the Twelve Caesars
The Lives of the Twelve Caesars
Nam si violandum est jus, regnandi gratia
Violandum est: aliis rebus pietatem colas.
Be just, unless a kingdom tempts to break the laws,
For sovereign power alone can justify the cause. 57
XXXI. When intelligence, therefore, was received, that the interposition of the tribunes in his favour had been utterly rejected, and that they themselves had fled from the city, he immediately sent forward some cohorts, but privately, to prevent any suspicion of his design; and, to keep up appearances, attended at a public spectacle, examined the model of a fencing-school which he proposed to build, and, as usual, sat down to table with a numerous party of his friends. But after sun-set, mules being put to his carriage from a neighbouring mill, he set forward on his journey with all possible privacy, and a small retinue. The lights going out, he lost his way, and (22) wandered about a long time, until at length, by the help of a guide, whom he found towards day-break, he proceeded on foot through some narrow paths, and again reached the road. Coming up with his troops on the banks of the Rubicon, which was the boundary of his province 58 , he halted for a while, and, revolving in his mind the importance of the step he was on the point of taking, he turned to those about him, and said: "We may still retreat; but if we pass this little bridge, nothing is left for us but to fight it out in arms."
XXXII. While he was thus hesitating, the following incident occurred. A person remarkable for his noble mien and graceful aspect, appeared close at hand, sitting and playing upon a pipe. When, not only the shepherds, but a number of soldiers also flocked from their posts to listen to him, and some trumpeters among them, he snatched a trumpet from one of them, ran to the river with it, and sounding the advance with a piercing blast, crossed to the other side. Upon this, Caesar exclaimed, "Let us go whither the omens of the Gods and the iniquity of our enemies call us. The die is now cast."
XXXIII. Accordingly, having marched his army over the river, he shewed them the tribunes of the people, who, upon their being driven from the city, had come to meet him; and, in the presence of that assembly, called upon the troops to pledge him their fidelity, with tears in his eyes, and his garment rent from his bosom. It has been supposed, that upon this occasion he promised to every soldier a knight's estate; but that opinion is founded on a mistake. For when, in his harangue to them, he frequently held out a finger of his left hand, and declared, that to recompense those who should support him in the defence of his honour, he would willingly part even with his ring; the soldiers at a distance, who could more easily see than hear him while he spoke, formed their conception of what he said, by the eye, not by the ear; and accordingly gave out, that he had promised to each of them the privilege (23) of wearing the gold ring, and an estate of four hundred thousand sesterces. 60
XXXIV. Of his subsequent proceedings I shall give a cursory detail, in the order in which they occurred 61 . He took possession of Picenum, Umbria, and Etruria; and having obliged Lucius Domitius, who had been tumultuously nominated his successor, and held Corsinium with a garrison, to surrender, and dismissed him, he marched along the coast of the Upper Sea, to Brundusium, to which place the consuls and Pompey were fled with the intention of crossing the sea as soon as possible. After vain attempts, by all the obstacles he could oppose, to prevent their leaving the harbour, he turned his steps towards Rome, where he appealed to the senate on the present state of public affairs; and then set out for Spain, in which province Pompey had a numerous army, under the com