Page:The Harvard Classics Vol. 51; Lectures.djvu/38

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tionalization, the Roman aristocracy, which had guided the state first to internal harmony, then to stable leadership in Italy, and finally to world-empire, became divided against itself. The empire had nurtured a stock of contractors, money lenders, grain and slave dealers—the so-called equestrian order—which pushed the great landed proprietors, who constituted the senate, from position to position; wrested from them control of the provinces which it then pillaged most outrageously, and helped on the paralysis of government from which the rule of the emperors was the only escape. The youth of Cicero coincided with the suicidal strife between the agrarian and the commercial wings of the aristocracy. Cicero, being a "new man," had to attach himself to great personages like Pompey, in order to make his way in politics, so that his political course and his political views were both "wobbly"; but he had at least one fixed policy, that the "harmony of the orders" must be restored at all costs.[1] This, however, was impracticable.


The empire had also bred a standing army, and the necessity that this be used against the Teutons, Italians, Greeks, and Gauls bred leader after leader who could dictate terms to the civil government. The last of these was Julius Cæsar. He was the last because he decided not to coerce the senate, but to put himself in its place. His short reign (49-44 B. C.) is a memorable episode in the development of Rome, in that it was the first reappearance of a world monarchy since Alexander the Great's death. Cæsar is greeted in contemporary Greek documents as "the Saviour of the entire race of men." After his murder a quarrel arose between rival candidates for the command of the troops—Cæsar's troops, as the assassins found to their sorrow. Antony,[2] his master of horse, finally took one half of them with him to the East, to finish Cæsar's projected campaign against the Parthians, to live in Alexandria at the feet of Cleopatra, Cæsar's royal mistress who was not only an able and unscrupulous woman, but also the heir of a bad political tradition to bring Egypt into the Roman Empire by annexing the Roman Empire to the Egyptian crown. The most that can be said for him is that he was a kind

  1. See Cicero's "Letters" in Harvard Classics, ix, 79.
  2. H. C., xii, 322.