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Mary Macgregor

Cæsar Gives Up His Triumph

The Senate and the nobles now began to fear the ambition of Cæsar. And they were glad to give him the command of the army in Spain, so that he might, for a time at least, be away from Rome. They hoped that the people, who were always fickle, would find a new favourite in his absence, one whom they might be able to influence. Already they knew that they could not move Cæsar to do their will.

So in 61 b.c. Cæsar went to Spain. With new duties he quickly developed new powers. There was now no time spent in idle pleasures, or even on the more serious joy of composing poems. His whole energy was devoted to his soldiers. Soon he had added to the numbers of his army, and marched into districts as yet unconquered by Rome.

Everywhere he went he was victorious, and when he returned to Rome it was to claim a triumph.

Now he had arrived before the city gates just in time for the election of Consuls. To stand for the Consulship it was necessary to enter the city and proclaim oneself a candidate. To enjoy a triumph it was necessary to stay outside the walls until the Senate has decreed that a triumph was deserved.

Cæsar was thus in a strait, and of this his enemies were not slow to take advantage. For when he asked the Senate to allow him to stand for the Consulship without entering the city, it refused. And more than that, it would not decide that he should enjoy a triumph until it was too late to have it and stand for the Consulship as well.

Which should he give up? Cæsar himself, being wise, had no doubt. But the Senate and the nobles hoped that he would choose the triumph. That was a glory that would soon be forgotten, while if he became Consul he would be more powerful than they cared to think.

But Cæsar gave up the triumph and proclaimed himself a candidate for the Consulship. And his enemies were forced to look on as he walked to the assembly of the people between Pompey and Crassus, the two most powerful men in Rome. With their support he was elected Consul with unusual honours.

It was now that Pompey, Crassus, and Cæsar formed the secret union which became known as the First Triumvirate.

The laws the Triumvirate brought forward were framed chiefly to please the people and to win their support. One was regarding the vexed question of allotments of land for Pompey's veterans, another was about the distribution of corn.

When some of the senators and the Optimates tried to hinder these measures from becoming law, Pompey took an armed force to the Campus, to keep order it was said. But every one knew that the real reason was to make the voters afraid to oppose the Triumvirate.

A year passed and Cæsar's Consulship came to an end. He then demanded that the Senate should give him Gaul as his province. As a rule a province was allotted to an officer for a year, but Cæsar insisted that he should have Gaul for five years.

The Senate, again thinking it would be well that he should be absent from Rome, granted his request. And so in 58 b.c. Cæsar left Rome to begin his new duties in Gaul.

But before he left the city he arranged that the chief offices of the State should be held by friends of his own, so that his enemies might not grow too powerful during his absence.

Cicero had shown himself no friend to Cæsar, and he was now forced either to leave Rome or be brought to trial for executing the four Catilinarian conspirators.

Rather than be brought to trial Cicero went into exile. But in sixteen months he was again in Rome, trying to win Pompey from his secret agreement with Cæsar.