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Gallic and Belgic tribes to submission, established Roman colonies among them, and completely organized provincial governments. Most remarkable of all, the chiefs of the conquered tribes "went to their homes,” says Froude, “personally devoted to their conqueror, contented with their condition, and resolved to maintain the peace which was now established.”
Cæsar's brilliant successes, however, had excited the jealousy of other ambitious Romans. His great rival for political honors was Pompey, who, with the wealthy Crassus, had joined him for several years in directing Roman affairs. Their coalition, or "triumvirate,” as it is called, was dissolved 53 B.C. by the death of Crassus. Pompey then went over to the aristocratic party and openly advocated measures intended to degrade and humiliate Cæsar. His hostility culminated in securing the passage of an order by the Senate commanding Cæsar to disband his army and give up the government of his province by a certain day, on pain of being declared a public enemy. This action precipitated civil war,-a struggle between two ambitious and powerful men for supremacy in the Roman state,- for the republic was in its death throes, and monarchy of some sort was inevitable. The contest resulted in a complete triumph for Cæsar. Pompey's forces were overthrown, and he himself was slain by an over-ardent, would-be ally of Cæsar in Egypt. From that time until his death Cæsar was, practically, the head of the Roman government. In 45 B.c. he was made Dictator for life. He was invested with all the high offices of state, the title “Imperator” being conferred upon him, and made hereditary in his family. Popular enthusiasm ran so high that a statue was erected to him in the Capitol, inscribed to "Cæsar the demigod."
The judgment of history declares that Cæsar used the imperial powers conferred upon him wisely and for the good of the Roman people. Every department of the public service felt the beneficent effects of his policy of administrative reform. His foresight planned far-reaching measures for unifying the entire Roman world.
Cæsar's magnanimity is proverbial, He scorned to pursue with málice a fallen enemy. But envy and suspicion accused him of intending to use his power for the enslavement of the Roman people. A conspiracy, headed by Cassius and Brutus, struck him down in the senate house, March 15, 44 B.C.
Cæsar was assassinated in the name of Liberty, the conspirators claiming that their motive was a desire to restore the republic; but their deed precipitated a peaceful Rome into civil strife, and hastened the coming of the empire.
FROM FROUDE'S “CÆSAR: A SKETCH”
PERSONAL TRAITS OF CÆSAR
In person Cæsar was tall and slight. His features were more refir
than was isual in Roman faces; the forehead was wide and high, the nose large and thin, the lips full, the eyes dark gray like an eagle's, the neck extremely thick and sinewy. His complexion was pale. His beard and mustache were kept carefully shaved. His hair was short and naturally scanty, falling off toward the end of his life, and leaving him partially bald. His voice, especially when he spoke in public, was high and shrill. His health was uniformly strong until his last year, when he became subject to epileptic fits. He was a great bather, and scrupulously clean in all his habits; abstemious in his food, and careless in what it consisted; rarely or never touching wine, and noting sobriety as the highest of qualities, when describing any new people. He was an athlete in early life, admirable in all manly exercises, and especially in riding. In Gaul he rode a remarkable horse, which he had bred himself, and which would let no one but Cæsar mount him. From his boyhood it was observed that he was the truest of friends, that he avoided quarrels, and was most easily appeased when offended.
In manner he was quiet and gentlemanlike, with the natural courtesy of high breeding. On an occasion when he was dining somewhere, the other guests found the oil too rancid for them: Cæsar took it without remark, to spare his entertainer's feelings. When on a journey through a forest with his friend Oppius, he came one night to a hut where there was a single bed. Oppius being unwell, Cæsar gave it up to him and slept on the ground.
CÆSAR AS A STATESMAN Like Cicero, Cæsar entered public life at the bar. He belonged by birth to the popular party, but he showed no disposition, like the Gracchi, to plunge into political agitation. His aims were practical. He made war only upon injustice and oppression; and, when he commenced as a pleader, he was noted for the energy with which he protected a client whom he believed to have been wronged. When he rose into the Senate, his powers as a speaker became strikingly remarkable. Cicero, who often heard him, and was not a favorable judge, said that there was a pregnancy in his sentences and a dignity in his manner which no orator in Rome could approach. But he never spoke to court popularity: his aim from first to last was better government, the prevention of bribery and extortion, and the distribution among deserving citizens of some portion of the public land which the rich were stealing. The Julian Laws, which excited the indignation of the aristocracy, had no other objects than these; and had they been observed, they would have saved the constitution.
SHAKESPEARE'S “JULIUS CÆSAR"1 It is afternoon, a little before three o'clock. Whole fleets of wherries are crossing the Thames, picking their way among the swans and the other boats, to land their passengers on the south bank of the river. Skiff after skiff puts forth from the Blackfriars stair, full of theatre-goers who have delayed a little too long over their dinner and are afraid of being too late; for the flag waving over the Globe Theatre announces that there is a play to-day. The bills upon the street posts have informed the public that Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is to be presented, and the play draws a full house. People pay their sixpences and enter; the balconies and the pit are filled. Distinguished and specially favored spectators take their seats on the stage behind the curtain. Then sound the first, the second, and the third trumpet-blasts, the curtain
1 From William Shakespeare: a Critical Study, by Georg Brandes.