Images de page

he was joined by many exiles, who aided him in drilling the native troops. Though driven for a time into Africa by the proconsul Anʼnius, he returned, upon the invitation of the Lusitanians, with a Libyan and Moorish army, which defeated the fleet of Sulla in the Straits of Gibraltar, and his land forces near the Guadalquivir. All Roman Spain became subject to Sertorius. With the aid of Cilician pirates, he captured the islands of Ivi'ca and Formentera. He formed a government, in which the senate was composed only of Romans; but he distinguished the native Spaniards by many marks of favor, and won their confidence not only by his brilliant genius, but by his perfect justice in the administration of their affairs.

147. Metellus, Sulla's colleague in the consulship, who commanded his armies in Spain, was completely baffled by the unwearied activity and superior knowledge of the country displayed by Sertorius. At length Cneius Pompey, who had already, in his thirtieth year, gained the title of Great, and the honor of a triumph for his victories over the allies of the Marians in Africa, was sent into Spain with the title of proconsul, to share the command with Metellus. His military skill far surpassed that of his predecessors, but for five years the war was still dragged out with more loss and vexation than success.

At last, Sertorius was murdered by one of his own officers, a man of high birth, who envied the ascendency of genius and integrity, and hoped by removing his general to open the way to his own advancement. He was totally defeated and captured by Pompey in the first battle which he fought as commander-in-chief; and though he tried to save his life by giving up the papers of Sertorius, and thus betraying the secrets of his party in Rome, he was ordered to instant execution, B. C. 72.

148. The Spanish war was now ended, but a nearer and greater danger threatened Rome. The pride and luxury fed by foreign conquest had brought no increase of refinement to the common people; and their favorite amusement for festal days was to see the bravest captives, taken in war and trained for the purpose, slaughter each other in the amphitheater. The ædiles, who provided the public shows, vied with each other in the numbers and training of the gladiators, whom they either bought or hired from their owners for exhibition. Among the unhappy men who were under training in the school at Capua, was a Thracian peasant named Spartacus. His soul revolted against the beastly fate to which he was doomed, and he communicated his spirit to seventy of his comrades. Forcibly breaking bounds, they passed out at the gates of Capua, seized upon the road some wagon-loads of gladiators' weapons, and took refuge in an extinct crater of Vesuvius. They defeated 3,000 soldiers who besieged them, and armed themselves more effectively with the spoils. of the slain.

Spartacus proclaimed freedom to all slaves who would join him. The half-savage herdsmen of the Bruttian and Lucanian mountains sprang to arms at his call, and the number of insurgents quickly rose to 40,000. They defeated two legions under the prætor Varinius, stormed and plundered Thurii and Metapon'tum, Nola and Nuce'ria, and many other towns of southern Italy. In the second year their forces were increased to 100,000 men, and they defeated successively two consuls, two prætors, and the governor of Cisalpine Gaul. All Italy, from the Alps to the Straits of Messana, quaked at the name of Spartacus, as it had done, more than a hundred years before, at that of Hannibal; but it only proved the decay of Roman character, that a mere bandit chief could accomplish what had once taxed the genius of the greatest general whom the world had yet produced.

[ocr errors]

149. Spartacus, however, saw clearly that in the end the organized power and resources of Rome must be superior to his own, and he only proposed to his followers to fight their way to and beyond the Alps, and then disperse to their homes; but the insurgents, spoiled with success, refused to leave Italy, and turned again to the south. Their winter-quarters, near Thurii, were like an immense fair crowded with the plunder of the whole peninsula, which merchants from far and near assembled to buy. Spartacus refused gold or silver, and took in exchange only iron or brass, which he converted into weapons of war by means of foundries established in his camp. In the panic which pervaded Rome, no one was willing to offer himself for the office of prætor. At length, Licinius Crassus accepted the appointment, and led eight legions into the field.

150. Spartacus was twice defeated, and driven to the southern point of Bruttium. Thence he tried to escape into Sicily, where the servile war was still smoldering and ready to be rekindled, and where, by holding the grain fields, he could soon have raised a bread-riot among the hungry mob of Rome. But the Cilician pirates, who had engaged to transport him, proved treacherous; and his attempt to convey his army across the straits on rafts and wicker boats was ineffectual. He then, in despair, broke the lines of Crassus, and once more threw Rome into great' consternation.

But the same jealousies which had scattered the forces of Greeks and Romans, doomed the barbarians, also, to destruction. Thirty thousand Gauls separated themselves from Spartacus and his Thracians, and were totally destroyed near Crotona. The final encounter took place on the head-waters of the Silarus. Spartacus fell desperately fighting, and his army was destroyed. Only 5,000 of his men made their way to the north of Italy, where they were met by Pompey on his return from Spain, and all put to the sword. The 6,000 prisoners taken by Crassus were crucified along the Appian Way.

151. The two triumphant generals, Pompey and Crassus, demanded the consulship as their reward. To attain this, it was needful to set aside some of the Sullæan laws, for Pompey had neither reached the required age nor passed through the preliminary offices. But the deliverers of Rome could not ask in vain. On Dec. 31, B. C. 71, Pompey triumphed a second time for his victories in Spain; the next day, Jan. 1, B. C. 70, he entered on the duties of his consulship with Licinius Crassus. Though formerly a chief instrument of the oligarchy under Sulla, Pompey now attached himself to the democratic party, more especially to the wealthy middle class. He restored to the tribunes of the people the power which Sulla had taken away, and caused judges to be chosen no longer exclusively from the Senate, but in equal proportions from the Senate, the knights, and the tribunes of the treasury -a class of moneyed men who collected and paid the revenues due to the soldiers.

Reform in the government of the provinces was a rallying cry of the new party, and the year of Pompey's consulate was marked by the prosecution of Verres, ex-prætor of Syracuse, for his shameless robbery of the province of Sicily. The impeachment was conducted by Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great lawyer and orator, whose wonderful learning and eloquence had already made him illustrious. Cicero was allowed one hundred and ten days to collect evidence of Verres's guilt. In less than half the time he returned from Sicily, followed by a long train of witnesses, whose fortunes had been ruined by the fraud and inhumanity of the prætor. Verres himself had been heard to boast that he had amassed wealth enough to support a life-time of luxury, even if he should spend two-thirds of his ill-gotten gains in hushing inquiry or in buying a pardon; and the unhappy provincials plainly declared that, if he were acquitted, they would petition the Senate to repeal all the laws against official injustice, that in future their governors might, at least, only plunder to enrich themselves, and not to bribe their judges. But Verres was condemned, and not even awaiting his sentence, escaped with his treasures to Massilia.

152. At the end of his consulship, Pompey did not accept a province, but remained quietly in Rome, taking no part in public affairs. An increasing danger soon demanded the exercise of his talents. Since the destruction of the naval power of Carthage, Syria, and Egypt, the pirates of the Cilician coast had cruised unchecked throughout the Mediterranean, and had even been encouraged by Mithridates and Sertorius in their enmity against Rome. They captured the corn-ships, plundered the wealthiest cities, and even attacked Roman dignity in its most imposing form, by carrying off great magistrates, with their trains of attendants, from the Appian Way.

The crisis demanded extraordinary measures, and, in B. C. 67, Pompey

was intrusted with absolute and irresponsible control of the Mediterranean, with a district extending fifty miles inland from its coasts, and with unlimited command of ships, money, and men. The price of provisions fell instantly upon his appointment, showing the confidence which his great ability had inspired. In forty days he had swept the western sea, and restored the broken communication between Italy, Africa, and Spain. Then sailing from Brundisium, he cleared the sea to the eastward, hunting the corsairs from all their inlets by means of the several squadrons under his fifteen lieutenants, and winning many to voluntary submission by his merciful treatment of the prisoners who fell into his hands.

The final battle took place near the Cilician coast, above which, on the heights of Mount Taurus, the pirates had placed their families and their plunder. They were defeated; 10,000 men were slain, their arsenals, magazines, and 1,300 vessels destroyed, while 400 ships and 20,000 prisoners were taken. Pompey showed no less wisdom in disposing of his captives than energy in defeating them. They were settled in isolated towns, and provided with honest employment; and as a result of the short and decisive conflict of three months, the Mediterranean remained safe and open to peaceful traffic for many years.

153. The Mithridatic War, though conducted with great ability by Lucullus, had become disastrous to the Romans; and a new law, proposed by Manil'ius, now extended Pompey's jurisdiction over all the forces in Asia, with power to make war, peace, or alliance with the several kings at his own discretion. Within a year, B. C. 66, he received the submission of the king of Armenia, and drove Mithridates beyond the Cau'casus. He deposed the last of the Seleucidæ, and placed Syria, as well as Pontus and Bithynia, under provincial management.

As centers of Roman or Greek civilization, he founded thirty-nine new cities, beside rebuilding or reviving many old ones. Among the former was Nicop'olis"the city of victory"—which he caused to be built as a home for his veteran soldiers, on the site of the decisive overthrow of Mithridates. He subdued Phoenicia and Palestine, B. C. 63, captured the temple-fortress of Jerusalem by a siege of three months, and established Hyrcanus as "high priest and ruler of the people." The next year he returned to Italy in a long triumphal procession.


-Death of Drusus is followed by the Social War, in the victorious ending of which Sulla gains great glory. Marius interferes by violence with his appointment to command in the war against Pontus. Sulla overpowers the city by his legions, and Marius becomes an exile. After Sulla's departure he returns, captures Rome, and massacres his opponents, but dies soon after the beginning of his seventh consulship. Sulla, returning triumphant from the East, defeats the new consuls and their allies, and by his proscriptions makes havoc with life

and property at Rome. As dictator, he restores the aristocratic government of the early Republic. He dies in retirement, B. C. 78. Sertorius, ten years sovereign in Spain, is opposed by Pompey, and murdered, B. C. 72. War of the gladiators, under Spartacus, fills all Italy with terror, B. C. 73-71. It is ended by Crassus, who, with Pompey the Great, becomes consul for B. C. 70. Cicero impeaches Verres for extortion in Sicily. Pompey, intrusted with extraordinary powers by the Gabinian law, destroys the Cilician pirates; then completes the Pontic War, and establishes Roman dominion in western Asia.


154. Rome, meanwhile, had narrowly escaped ruin from the iniquitous schemes of one of her own nobles. L. Ser'gius Catili'na, a man of ancient family, but worthless character and ruined fortunes, seized the time when all the troops were absent from Italy, to plot with other nobles, as wicked and turbulent as himself, for the overthrow of the government. The new consuls were to be murdered on the day of their inauguration. Catiline and Autro'nius were to take the supreme command in Italy, and Piso was to lead an army into Spain. The first plot failed through the imprudence of its leader; but a second, of still bolder and more comprehensive character, was formed. Eleven senators were drawn into the conspiracy; magazines of arms were formed, and troops levied in various parts of the peninsula. The wide-spread discontent of the people with the existing government aided the success of the movement; and, in the end, slaves, gladiators, and even criminals from the common prisons, were to be liberated and armed.

The secret was kept by a vast number of persons for eighteen months, but the main features of the plot were at length made known to Cicero, then consul, and by his vigilance and prudence it was completely foiled. He confronted Catiline in the Senate-where the arch conspirator had the boldness to take his usual place -- with an oration, in which he laid open with unsparing vehemence the minutest circumstances of the plot. The convicted ringleader fled from Rome in the night, and placed himself at the head of his two legions, hoping yet to strike an effective blow before the levies ordered by the Senate could be fit for service. His chief accomplices were seized and strangled in prison, by order of the Senate, while he himself was followed and defeated in Etruria by the proconsul Antonius. The battle was decisive. Catiline fell fighting far in advance of his troops, and 3,000 of his followers perished with him. No free Roman was taken alive. B. C. 62.

155. Though this daring conspiracy was thus happily crushed, the weakness and disorder of society alarmed the best and wisest citizens. It was feared that some man of commanding talent might yet succeed where Catiline had failed, and overthrow the liberties of Rome. Pompey, now returning with his victorious legions from the East, was the imme

« PrécédentContinuer »