« السابقةمتابعة »
II. CAESAR'S GAME OF POLITICAL CHESS AND THE PART ASSIGNED TO CLODIVS IN IT.
On the evidence of our passage, and because of his attacks on Pompey, our textbooks agree that Clodius 'turned against his masters,' and that his employment was a mistake on Caesar's part.1 On the contrary, although Clodius was undoubtedly a wild reckless fellow, it would seem that he answered Caesar's special purposes very well on the whole, and that he served in reality but one master-the leader of his own Popular party.
When Caesar, gambling on military success in Gaul, departed from Rome, he left himself in none too strong a position on the home front.
He had won his way to power as leader of the 'Reds'; and in his consulship had still further incensed his natural enemies-the 'Die-Hards.' Success, moreover, had only been attained by inducing the reluctant Pompey to join
Pompey, of course, was exceedingly uncomfortable in the rôle of 'Bolshevik,' and was always hankering after political respectability.2
Caesar, however, in 59 had imitated the methods of the Gracchi without making the mistake they had made; so now in doing what Sulla had done in 87 he strengthened himself by every possible device where Sulla had left himself weak.
(1) To counter the hatred of the Die-Hards' he had the alliance of Crassus and Pompey-that of the latter cemented by the immediate political past and the hatreds engendered by it,3 and also by the marriage with Julia.
In addition he handed over the party machine, perfected by himself and Vatinius, into the vigorous hands of Clodius. The results were satisfactory; Cato went off to Cyprus and the Senatorial machine was kept completely out of action.4
(2) He had the ever-present fear of Pompey yielding to ambition or political instinct and making common cause with the Optimates. In addition to the ties of love and hatred with which he had attached Pompey to himself, he had protected himself by placing Crassus to keep a jealous eye on his partner, and still further reinsured himself by giving Clodius a free hand to stop any such move. There is plenty of evidence to show that Pompey was induced to consent to the adoption of Clodius without realizing what it was going to mean to Cicero-the most useful of men to him in the political game -or to himself. Clodius, as will be shown, carried out this task of keeping Pompey and the Optimates apart with the greatest energy.
(3) There was the personal rivalry of Pompey to be considered. It is true that he had cut a poor enough figure in 61 to 60, but the lustre of his prestige,
1 Cf. Mommsen, Even Caesar had to learn by experience,' etc. On this occasion, I think, he underrates his hero's sagacity.
2 Cf. Att. II. 21, 3; 22, 6, etc.
3 Cf. Att. II. 19, 2; 25, 2, etc.
4 Cf. In Vat. 35; Pro Sest. 15, 33, etc.
5 Cf. Att. II. 21, 41, etc.
6 Cf. Pro Sest. 15 and 4; Att. II. 19, 4; 20, 2; 21, 6; 22, 2, etc.
if not kept adequately dimmed, might easily gather round him a personal party (e.g. Gabinius, Hypsaeus, and the like) strong enough to upset the scale of Caesar's calculations. (It very nearly did in 57-56.) If anything were to go wrong in Gaul, what would be more likely than for Pompey to play cuckoo once again and say in effect 'You've done very well for a beginner-but things are getting serious-this is obviously a job for me!' He had done it before— to Metellus in Spain and Lucullus in the East, not to mention less important occasions.1 It is possible therefore that Caesar left Rome with a whispered injunction to Clodius to 'Keep Pompey's comb cut.' Clodius at any rate carried out that task most conscientiously-in fact with more zeal than discretion; but so deep was the rift between Pompey and the Optimates that it took nearly a year for the insolences of Clodius to drive him to seek a refuge in their arms. Clodius certainly seems to have gone too far in his attacks on Pompey and in the open employment of force; in this respect he may have been a bad servant to Caesar, but not in respect of his loyalty.
(4) Finally, precautions had been taken by Caesar against his becoming himself in any way subservient to his own party machine. He had, of course, the connexions with Pompey and Crassus to rely on, and in addition he cultivated as far as was possible amicable relations with the Senate,2 and in the end even allowed Cicero to come back, subject to his own assurances and the watchful eye of Clodius.
By April 56 B.C. Caesar had had sufficient time and sufficient luck; his military successes had given him such a position that he could practically dispense with the 'Red' party machine and yet meet Pompey on equal
On the one hand he believed himself to be through the wood in Gaul3though events showed that he was wrong. On the other the armed bands of Pompey and Milo had to a very large extent nullified the utility of the 'Popular party.'
When the cards were laid on the table at Lucca, Caesar felt strong enough to be able to afford to give all that Pompey could ask. Clodius could now be dropped, though it was chiefly due to him (and Crassus) that Pompey received his new powers at the hands of Caesar and not of Caesar's enemies.
This was certainly a complicated scheme of intrigue, but it was the game that every politician of the time had to play. Crassus and Caesar had played it in the sixties with precisely the same pieces as were used in the fiftiesSpain, Egypt, land laws, political moves and counter moves and covering moves. Pompey had played it in 62, when he sent Metellus Nepos to attack the Senate and make an interest with Caesar and the populares, while he himself spoke Cicero and the Senate fair. He played it again in 57 and 56,
1 Cf. Plut. Pompey, 31: ellioμévov ¿λλorpíois νεκροῖς ὥσπερ όρνιν ἀργὸν ἐπικαταίρειν καὶ λείψανα πολέμων σπαράσσειν.
2 Cf. his attitude at the beginning of his consulship; the extension of his proconsular com
mand by the Senate; its votes of thanksgivings for his victories; and cf. (cum grano salis) In Vat. 20.
3 Cf. Prou, cons., § 34: 'one more summer and Gaul will be settled.'
and so did Cicero. Pompey, to change the metaphor once more, was no mean exponent of the art, but Caesar had won on points long before he knocked his heavier opponent out.
III. How CLODIVS PLAYED THE PART ASSIGNED TO HIM.
At the risk of going over rather well-trodden ground it appears necessary to follow out the actions of Clodius in the years 58 to 56, to illustrate what has been said above.
The despatch of Cato to Cyprus was avowedly a move to get the most redoubtable 'Die-Hard' out of the way, and Clodius flourished familiar letters of congratulation from Caesar on doing it1 [cf. II. (1)].
The attack on Cicero got rid of the man who was most likely to seduce Pompey to the Constitutional cause [cf. II. (2)].
The attack on Pompey in the affair of Tigranes, his tampering with Pompey's acts in Galatia, and the feud with Pompey's old friend Gabinius* served the purpose of discrediting Pompey's personal prestige [cf. II. (3)]. When the point had been scored Caesar apparently played the rôle of mediator, or at any rate was able successfully to disclaim any responsibility. The words of Cicero to Vatinius are even more applicable to Clodius: 'Qui te suae dignitatis augendae causa periculo tuo, nullo suo delicto ferri praecipitem est facile passus!'
Pompey had never wished Cicero to be attacked, but yielded to the pressure, and perhaps the intrigues, of Caesar; no sooner was the orator in exile than Pompey, or his agents, began to be active on his behalf.10 Towards the end of 58 these exertions matured; a rapprochement between Pompey and the Constitutionalists was afoot, of which the recall of Cicero was an outward and visible sign.11 Clodius moved heaven and earth to stop it, in the interest of Caesar, and defeated the first suggestions of his opponents by the reductio ad absurdum of De domo, 40. Caesar, however, yielded to the representations of Pompey ('tanquam' Cicero would be a useful man to the triumvirate, now that he had learned his lesson), and allowed Cicero to return, subject to the assurances of Q. Cicero and Pompey 12 and the safeguard of Clodius' hostile supervision. There is no evidence nor any probability that Clodius was acting contrary to Caesar's interests.
The year 57 showed that Clodius had been right. At the very moment of Cicero's return the price of corn suddenly went up, and it was suggested that Pompey was the only man to take control of the situation. Clodius organized mass meetings and told the mob that the rise in price was a 'put up job,'
Cicero's doing,1 especially to give Pompey an important commission. The consul Lentulus,2 with the assent of most of his party, moved that Pompey should be given that great commission for five years, and Cicero was called upon to support the motion in his first political speech since his return.3 Even then Clodius furiously attacked the fait accompli, and renewed his personal attacks on Cicero.5
The fury of his attack was redoubled later on when it transpired that Pompey was trying to get control of Egypt with the connivance, as it was suspected, of Lentulus Spinther, Cicero, and other of his friends. At the close of the year the fact that Pompey was out to smash the triumvirate or at any rate was thinking of doing so—was emphasized by the fact that through Lupus, one of his personal adherents, an attack was started upon Caesar's Campanian land law." From Q. Fr. ii. 3 we see that these two developments aroused not only the ever-ready Clodius to desperate energy, but the jealousy and apprehension of Crassus as well; with the result that Clodius, his 'populares,' and the tribune C. Cato are found to be working in alliance with Crassus and the extreme Optimates to checkmate Pompey. Insolent attacks by Clodius and his gang were made on Pompey; attempts to sow discord between him and Cicero were made by C. Cato precisely as Crassus himself had done in 62;8 and Pompey 'said outright that he would take better precautions to protect his life than Africanus had done whom C. Carbo had assassinated'—a fairly obvious, but unnoticed, allusion, I believe, to the Campanian land affair. Cicero says, therefore, 'Great happenings appear to be in the wind . . . Clodius is rallying his gangs. . . . For that occasion WE are considerably in a majority, owing to the forces brought up by Pompey himself.'
In his next letter to Quintus, Cicero mentions that Appius Claudius was away on a visit to Caesar. This may not have had any connexion with the political situation; on the other hand it may; and it is at any rate an indication that his brother Clodius was not at feud with Caesar.
The event of these matters was that Cicero made a damaging attack upon Caesar in his interrogation of Vatinius in the case of Sestius, and then proceeded openly to renew the Campanian land agitation, while Pompey looked benignly on.10 Crassus, however, betook himself to Caesar at Ravenna, and the conference of Lucca ensued. Pompey, unable to count on the support of the Optimates, and having received an advantageous offer from Caesar, changed his policy and left Cicero high and dry. The utility of Clodius to Caesar became more or less a thing of the past. Pompey probably made it a
condition that he should be dropped. In Fam. 1. 7 Cicero talks of his futility and impotence.
Without elaborating these matters, I think enough has been said to suggest that the ordinary view of Clodius and his policy should be reconsidered, and that Mommsen, for instance, is off the mark when he says: 'Clodius fought in turn for the ruling democracy, for the Senate, and for Crassus.' He did up to a point; but always on behalf of Caesar. Mommsen also says: 'We might as well seek to set a charivari to music as to attempt to write the history of this political witches' revel,' i.e. the tribunate of Clodius. But it is not a witches' revel; its history may be complicated, but is not irrational; and there is at any rate evidence from which to attempt to write it, which is more than can be said for the Laws of Caesar's Dictatorship. It is, moreover, a not unimportant period, and throws an interesting light on the characters of its protagonists.
DR. RICE HOLMES has thrown a flood of light on innumerable passages in Caesar's Commentaries, but in one small matter he has, as I hope to show, darkened counsel. In his recent work on the Roman Republic and the founder of the Empire (Vol. III., pp. 369-71) his anxiety to retain the MSS. reading III. in Caesar (Bell. Ciu. I. 30. 2), Mittit. . . in Siciliam Curionem pro praetore cum legionibus III.,' leads him to pervert or neglect the plain meaning of other passages in Caesar. He holds that 'Curio was not sent to Sicily with any legions,' and that the 'Domitian cohorts,' which Caesar says (Bell. Ciu. I. 25. 1) he sent to Sicily straightway from Corfinium, are identical with the three legions which Caesar (Bell. Ciu. I. 30. 2, u.s.) says he sent with Curio from Brundisium. Dr. Holmes believes that this was what Caesar really meant, though he expressed himself loosely. Let us see how it agrees with Caesar's other statements.
In Bell. Ciu. II. 23 Caesar distinctly says that he had given Curio four legions, though Curio took only two with him to Africa ('Curio in Africam profectus ex Sicilia... duas legiones ex IIII. quas a Caesare acceperat . . . transportabat). Again in Bell. Ciu. II. 28 he definitely identifies the two legions which Curio took to Africa with those which had surrendered at Corfinium (legionesque eas traduxerat Curio quas superioribus temporibus Corfinio receperat Caesar'). Cf. also Bell. Ciu. II. 32. 7 sq. The two legions left by Curio in Sicily are probably, as Dr. Rice Holmes suggests, those which we find stationed at Messana in August, 48 B.C. (Bell.
1 History of Rome (Eng. trans.), Vol. V., p. 111. 2 In a sense this is doubtless true. Curio probably accompanied Caesar on his journey from Brundisium to Rome (March 20-30; cf. ad Att. IX. 15. 1), and was certainly at Cumae and Puteoli in the middle of April (ad Att. X. 4. 8 sq.;
5. 2; 7. 3), while the legions probably marched direct from Brundisium to Rhegium, at least 250 miles. But is this anything more than the not uncommon practice of a general's arrival at the last moment?