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Julius Caesar, Chapter 20: Julius Caesar consul[60 BC]
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Caesar's very first enactment after becoming consul was, that the proceedings both of the senate and of the people should day by day be compiled and published. He also revived a by-gone custom, that during the months when he did not have the fasces an orderly should walk before him, while the lictors followed him. He brought forward an agrarian law too, and when his colleague announced adverse omens [Business could be interrupted or postponed at Rome by the announcement of an augur or a magistrate that he had seen a flash of lightning or some other adverse sign; sometimes an opponent merely announced that he would 'watch the skies' for such omens], he resorted to arms and drove him from the Forum; and when next day Bibulus made complaint in the senate and no one could be found who ventured to make a motion, or even to express an opinion about so high-handed a proceeding (although decrees had often been passed touching less serious breaches of the peace), Caesar's conduct drove him to such a pitch of desperation, that from that time until the end of his term he did not leave his house, but merely issued proclamations announcing adverse omens. From that time on Caesar managed all the affairs of state alone and after his own pleasure; so that sundry witty fellows, pretending by way of jest to sign and seal testamentary documents, wrote Done in the consulship of Julius and Caesar, instead of 'Bibulus and Caesar, writing down the same man twice, by name and by surname. Presently too the following verses were on everyone's lips:|
In Caesar's year, not Bibulus', an act took place of late;
For naught do I remember done in Bibulus' consulate.
The plain called Stellas, which had been devoted to public uses by the men of by-gone days, and the Campanian territory, which had been reserved to pay revenues for the aid of the government, he divided without casting lots [through a special commission of twenty men] among twenty thousand citizens who had three or more children each. When the publicans asked for relief, he freed them from a third part of their obligation, and openly warned them in contracting for taxes in the future not to bid too recklessly. He freely granted everything else that anyone took it into his head to ask, either without opposition or by intimidating anyone who tried to object. Marcus Cato, who tried to delay proceedings [by making a speech of several hours' duration; Gell. 4.10.8. The senate arose in a body and escorted Cato to prison, and Caesar was forced to release him], was dragged from the House by a lictor at Caesar's command and taken off to prison. When Lucius Lucullus was somewhat too outspoken in his opposition, he filled him with such fear of malicious prosecution [for his conduct during the Third Mithridatic War] that Lucullus actually fell on his knees before him. Because Cicero, while pleading in court, deplored the state of the times, Caesar transferred the orator's enemy Publius Clodius that very same day from the patricians to the plebeians [59 B.C.], a thing for which Clodius had for a long time been vainly striving; and that too at the ninth hour [That is, after the close of the business day, an indication of the haste with which the adoption was rushed through]. Finally taking action against all the opposition in a body, he bribed an informer to declare that he had been egged on by certain men to murder Gnaeus Pompeius, and to come out upon the rostra and name the guilty parties according to a pre-arranged plot. But when the informer had named one or two to no purpose and not without suspicion of double-dealing, Caesar, hopeless of the success of his over-hasty attempt, is supposed to have had him taken off by poison.
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Cato the Younger
Fasces:Rods of wood tied by a red thong into a bundle from which an axe projected. Symbol of regal and later magesterial authority.