Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

THE

MIRROR OF HISTORY.

ERA THE FIRST.

THE LIFE OF JULIUS CÆSAR.

THE RISE OF THE IMPERIAL POWER OF ROME, AND OF THE

INVASION OF BRITAIN.

1. CAIUS JULIUS CÆSAR lived at a time remarkable for some of those great events which must always be deemed worthy of memory, in the history of states and empires. His age was famous for that military skill by which Rome was enabled to obtain its superiority over other nations, and to enlarge its conquests. Among its heroes whose actions are recorded with admiration, there was no one to whom he can be considered as inferior. His life and actions commence a new period in the history of that state over which he obtained the supreme rule, changing its constitution from a republic to that form of military despotism, which was continued till towards the latter end of the fifth century, when its glory was entirely extinguished. 2. The birth of this extraordinary man

took place ninety-nine years before the Christian era, or 655 from the foundation of Rome (B.C. 753) by Romulus. His birthday was in that month of the year called by the Romans Quinctilis,--the same that has been since named

B

renown.

after him July, or in the Latin language Julius. Tradition traced his fanıily to the line of Æneas, the hero of Virgil, whose son Iulus, or Julus, escaping with him from the flames of Troy, settled in Alba ; and in the time of Tullus Hostilius migrated to Rome. From the time of the Punic war (B.C. 264), the ancestors of Cæsar had been distinguished by holding public offices. From his youth he was animated with a strong passion for glory, and his whole life was devoted to the object of obtaining it, and of thus acquiring a supremacy in the state. This dignity, he was destined at length to secure, by his great talents and military

3. It was necessary for every Roman who aimed at distinction, to pass through the several stages of official rank which led to the consular dignity—the highest which the state then allowed. A view of the progress of Cæsar through these gradations, will afford an adequate idea of the steps by which every great man in that community obtained his promotion to the office of Consul. The first and lowest degree which Cæsar took in the path of promotion was that of a military or legionary tribune (B.c. 11); a post, however, which then

power than such officers enjoyed before the time of Sylla, who abridged it of some of those functions by which it had been accustomed to control the proceedings of the senators. His next advance was to become a Quæstor (B.C. 70), or collector of the public revenues. Through this he proceeded, at the end of five years, to take the office of an Ædile (B.C. 65), to whom belonged the care of the public buildings, and the management of the public speetacles, or games acted in the theatre. Not long after this time he secured his election to the dignity of Pontifex Maximus (B.C. 63), which was one held by the possessor for life. It placed under his directions, not only matters pertaining to the public bridges (as the original title imports), but, what was of far more consequence, it gave him the supreme charge of the temples of the gods, and the regulation of the ceremonials of the national religion. Another important step in advancement was the office of Prætor or prefect, who was the chief magistrate in the city of Rome (B.c. 62). This was necessarily followed after a year's service by that of proconsul, or an allotment of a province with a military command. The last and highest in the order of these dignities, the consulship, Cæsar obtained not long after (B.C. 59), becoming thus invested with that power which, in the time of war, placed all the military regulations at his disposal.

gave

its
possessor

less

4. To understand, however, this sketch of the progress of our hero with more advantage, it will be necessary to trace some of the actions of his life in detail. From this general summary of his career, to the time of his being consul, it will be seen that he did not commence the more striking part of his career at a very early age. His first. appearance as an active statesman took place about the thirty-seventh year of his age (B.C. 63). But, thirteen years previously, he had served as a volunteer at the siege of Mitylene (B.C. 76), and had there obtained for himself the honour of a civic crown, which, though made only of oaken leaves, was esteemed the most reputable badge of martial virtue ; and never bestowed, but for saving the life of a citizen, and killing at the same time an enemy.

5. In the earlier part of his life he had been exposed to great perils. · When about seventeen years old, he was with some difficulty preserved from the resentment of Sylla. He had become allied to Marius, and had married Cornelia, Cinna's daughter, whom he could not be persuaded to divorce by all the threats of Sylla, who, considering him for that reason averse to his interests, deprived him of his wife's fortune, and of the office of high priest of Jupiter, to which he had been appointed the year previously (B.C. 83). Cæsar, therefore, apprehending something worse, thought it pradent to retire and conceal himself in the country. Here he was accidentally discovered by Sylla's soldiers, and was forced to redeem his head by a very large sum. This, and the intercession of the vestal virgins, to one of whom his wife was related, aided by the authority of other powerful relations, extorted, very unwillingly, a grant of his life from Sylla, who had the sagacity to foresee his future ascendancy in the state, declaring that he for whose safety they were so solicitous, would one day be the ruin of that aristocracy which he himself was then establishing with so much trouble, for he could discern many a Marius in this one Cæsar.

6. After the death of Sylla (B.C. 78), when he was now about the age of twenty-one, Cæsar returned to Rome,

« AnteriorContinuar »