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of Shakespere's, and one of the finest passages in the Æneid.
Such speculations, however, are useless. There was no such dagger ready, and the three sat down calmly to the work in hand. The partition of the empire, as Mr. Merivale observes, was an easy task. A province or two more or less, an outlying kingdom here or there, was a matter of small moment to men, each of whom was determined ultimately to have the whole. That matter caused small difference among them; but there was another which sat closer to their hearts. How was each to obtain the privilege of slaughtering the adherents of his rival? We will let Mr. Merivale describe how they did so. We should find it difficult to improve the narrative :—
"The associates, thus prepared for the work of slaughter, sate with a list of the noblest citizens before them, and each in turn pricked the name of him whom he destined to perish. Each claimed to be ridded of his personal enemies, and to save his own friends. But when they found their wishes clash, they resorted without compunction to mutual concessions. Octavius could easily permit Antonius to proscribe the detested author of the Philippics. Antonius surrendered to him in return his own uncle by the mother's side, Lucius Cæsar. It is uncertain whether Lepidus claimed the slaughter of his brother, Paulus Æmilius, or whether he only abandoned him to the malice of his collegues. As they proceeded, their views expanded. They signed death-warrants to gratify their friends. As the list slowly lengthened, new motives were discovered for appending to it additional names. The mere possession of riches was fatal to many, for the masters of so many legions were always poor: the occupation of pleasant houses and catates sealed the fate of others, for the triumvirs were voluptuous as well as cruel. Lastly, the mutual jealousy of the proscribers augmented the number of their victims, each seeking the destruction of those who conspicuously favored his colleagues, and each exacting a similar compensation in return. The whole number extended, we are told, to three hundred senators and two thousand knights; among them were brothers, uncles, and favorite officers of the triumvirs themselves!"
Nothing in history is more horrid than this. Let us remember the age of Octavius, and the fact, as here told to us, that he had no personal enemies on whom to be avenged, no excitement of war or sense of danger to blunt his feelings: let us remember what are the customary springs of
action in a youth of twenty, and how prone such a one usually is to risk his own life when desirous to imperil that of his enemy. Who but Octavius, at such an age as that, has sat in slow secluded counsel and with studious forethought arranged the slaughter of his enemies and of his friends?
Romanorum Romanissimus ! It is all that we can say of him. It was the nature of a Roman to be subtle, cruel, ambitious, and unscrupulous-to be wise in policy, cold of heart, fond of power, and anxious for blood; and education with Octavius had so improved upon nature, that at twenty he had nothing left to learn: he had already beaten the greatest of his countrymen in their own peculiar
The world still reads with panting heart and hair on end the bloody records of many a fearful tragedy. Rome waded in blood when Sylla avenged himself, and the amusements of Nero and of Commodus were almost as fatal to her. The Sicilian vespers fill us with horror. slaughter of the Hussites and the Albigenses seem to have demanded the intervention of an avenging God. The massacre of St. Bartholomew and the cruelties of Alva fascinate us by their atrocity. The black hole of Calcutta still moves our tears, and the bloodclogged guillotine of Marat and Robespierre leaves us with the idea that the cruelty of men could sin with no deeper guilt than theirs.
But all the slaughterers of their fellow-men should hide their heads before Octavius. All murderers should pale at the superiority of his forethought, and the coldness of his cruelty. He was "the best o' the
cut-throats"-for it cannot be said of Antony that he was as good. In all those historic instances to which we have referred some strong passion had been excited, or else those rivers of blood were shed by slow dribblets at first, till the apppetite, maddened by its food, became brutalised and demoniac. Men taught themselves to think that they were slaying God's enemies, not their own; and then found themselves unable to stop the torrent when they had raised the flood-gate. Sylla slew his victims as ruthlessly, but Sylla had been roused to vengeance by opposition. Nero and Commodus were made mad by power.
At the Sicilian vespers deep wrongs were avenged; so deep that our sympathies are with the murderers, not with the murdered. The cruelty even of Robespierre was the growth of time, and was matured by opportuity. He, perhaps, is the most abhorrent to us of all the world's famous hangmen; and yet in his early years he employed his energies in advocating the repeal of all laws which would inflict capital punishment.
Antony was bad enough. The mind recoils with half incredulous horror at the narration of such cruelty as his. But he was used and well used to slaughter in all its forms. He had seen the streets of Rome red with Roman blood; he had seen many a hard-fought field; he had seen the wounds of Cæsar; and he had, moreover, enemies of his own. Antony was a man whose heart had been hardened, till it was hard as stone, by the bloody circumstances of an adventurous life; but Octavius was a youth whose heart required no hardening. It was produced by nature without a spot in it softer than adamant. It had been steeled in a triple furnace, and placed in his bosom ready for such work as he had to do.
The field of Philippi has obtained a celebrity in history to which the battles fought on it hardly give it a just claim. It is true that on that field there was made the last stand by republican Rome against her masters; but that stand was made so poorly, that republican Rome need not boast mnch of the matter.
Antony were now the inheritors of Cæsar's policy. Sylla had been the avenger of the high aristocracy of Rome, of the senators and consuls, of the great families who had so long contrived to divide among them the wealth of the state, of the curule chairs, of the fasces, and of Roman dignity. His party was that of the oligarchy, who had habitually ruled Rome, and who considered themselves in an especial manner to be the blood and marrow of the republic. As Cæsar had taken up the mantle of Marius, so had Pompey worn that of Sylla; and now its shreds and fragments were divided between the men who had consented to the murder of Cæsar.
And here we cannot but qualify the word republic as applied to any Roman faction or any Roman party then existing. To our ears the word republic savors of democracy, and to a Roman of the time of Coriolanus the word might probably convey some similar idea. But the power of any fraction of the people except the army had now been dead sufficiently long to be forgotten. The popular and plebeian office of tribune was still held and still coveted as one of the most powerful in the state; but the Roman tribune had lately been no more than one among the many tyrants of Rome. The populace of Rome, if they favored either party, favored that of the Caesars. Caesar had been the successor of Marius, and Marius had been the champion of the people. Octavius and
Thus, at Philippi the side of the republic was advocated by Brutus and Cassius, but the people of Rome were with Octavius and Antony.
And very unworthily did Brutus and Cassius play their part. They were masters of an immense force, and also of the country in which that force was to be employed; they had, or might have had, through their natural ally, the son of Pompey, full command of the sea. Nevertheless, they allowed their enemies to transport their huge army into Macedonia, and then force on an action, unprepared as the triumviri were with any means of sustaining their legions, had an action been declined. The two republican generals then differed on the eve of battle, and finally fought without any thoroughly concerted scheme. It appears that they might even then have conquered, but for their own folly or mistakes. Gods and men were not against them, had they been able to befriend themselves. One side of the army, that led by Brutus, was in the very act of victory, when the other side, led by Cassius, turned round and fled. Cassius had been deceived as to what the legions of Brutus were about, and immediately that he had the smallest ground for doubt, he retired to his tent, and had his throat cut. So far the contest had been nearly equal, and such was the first battle of Philippi.
The second took place some three weeks after it, on the same ground. Here also the legions of Brutus fought well; but the Caesareans ultimately drove them back. Then the soldiers of Rome began to fancy that no name but that of Caesar could lead them to
victory, and wavered in their obedience. Brutus was all but left alone. So he also retired, and, more Romanorum, died by his own sword, as Cato, Cassius, and so many others had done before him. It was the only resource of a Roman in adversity.
The field of Philippi lies at the foot of the southern slope of the Balkan, between the western extremity of that ridge and the spur which runs from it to the southward, and which, we believe, is still called Mount Rhodope: and here was terminated all idea of the republic of Rome. From thence to the next great battle, that of Actium, there is little of great interest to record. Antony soon took possession of the eastern provinces, and, with the provinces, of the manners also of of the East. We cannot now stop to dwell on his luxurious life in the arms of Cleopatra, of the wonderful fascination which she obtained over his stern Roman nature, or of the efforts which he made from time to time to rescue himself from the fatal effects of Eastern debauchery, and be again the loved imperator of his legions. Nor is it necessary that we should. If any portion of Roman history is well known, it is that which tells us of Antony's revels in Egypt. It must, however, be remembered that he had cemented his friendship with Octavius by marrying his sister Octavia. Such domestic ties were as commonly made among Roman citizens, with the political object of ensuring family alliances, as they since have been between crowned heads; but the intended object was rarely gained. The lady was indeed frequently so married, but she was almost as frequently divorced. So intricate in this manner were the alliances in times of trouble between the leaders of the different factions, that it is quite impossible that an ordinary reader should follow them. He will frequently meet the narrative of some auspicious wedding, that is to strengthen the friendship of noble families, and yet before the bride had been delivered of her firstborn child, he will hear of her divorce. She will then be led to a second nuptial couch, and the heir of the first husband will be born beneath the rooftree of his enemy.
Such a marriage as this had united the dissolute Antony with the virtuous and perhaps prudish Octavia.
It was not likely that their loves should be enduring. Whatever were the merits of Octavia, she could hardly hope to compete with Cleopatra in the use of a woman's weapons. She was of course neglected, contemned, and insulted; and having in vain followed her husband as far as Athens, returned to Rome to add her wrongs to all the others which enabled her brother to call Antony his enemy.
Octavius in the meantime had been far differently employed. When the Eastern provinces had been assigned to Antony, Lepidus had been sent to Africa, and Italy and the Western provinces fell to the share of Octavius. The task undertaken by him was not an easy one. He had battle after battle to fight, not for new provinces, not for fresh laurels, but for very existence in his Roman home. War, we may say, can never have been in itself delightful to Augustus, as it was to Cæsar and to Antony-as it had been to Alexander, and was to be to Napoleon. He had neither taste for it, nor apparently much talent. In his younger days his health was always feeble, and often so bad as to disable him from moving unless in a litter. When he commanded in person, he was generally beaten, and seems finally to have become so aware of this, as to trust much more in military matters to Agrippa than to himself. He was twice beaten and well beaten in naval engagements by Sextus Pompeius; but the good fortune for which his whole life was noted was as conspicious in his adversity as in his success. Though his navy had been completely routed, though he himself had been barely able to escape with life, nevertheless his enemy had failed to profit by the opportunity of victory, and after each defeat Octavius was allowed to
Retrick his beams, and with new spangled ore Flame in the forehead of the morning sky.
It were useless to follow the four chieftains, for Sextus the son of Pompey now made a fourth, through their various quarrels and reconciliations; each of them disliked and was personally jealous of the other; each of them wished to be alone supreme, for it seems that even Lepidus made some such attempt. But
it was not long before Antony and Octavius remained the only masters of a Roman force. Octavius, though he could not conquer Sextus himself, did so by the arms of Agrippa, and the son of the Pompey the Great soon vanished from the scene, and was heard of no more. He it seems did not kill himself, but was privately butchered in some manner sufficiently obscure to have escaped much attention.
Each of the two brothers-in-law desired a rupture with the other, and they did not find it difficult to assign a cause. As is usual among potentates who become so circumstanced, they began by angry charges, each accusing the other of selfish ambition and treachery. They were both no doubt correct in such accusations. Octavius harangued against Antony in the senate, and Antony replied by sending to Rome a formal divorce of his wife Octavia. This it seems was tantamount to a declaration of war. Antony proclaimed himself as about to contend against the tyranny of Octavius, but Octavius more prudently declared war, not against Antony, but against Egypt. And so the world was once more in arms.
We will not attempt to describe the battle of Actium, but will refer our readers to Virgil and Mr. Merivale, giving a preference to the poet. From his authority, it would appear that the victory of Augustus (we may presume so to call him now, as he is so called by Virgil) was entirely owing to the interference of the Actian Apollo. The god who had been duly worshipped in his temple on the cliff bent his bow, and the Eastern tribes, terror-stricken, fled at the hurtling of his arrow. The historian attributes as little as the poet to the prowess or skill of the victor. Antony was a beaten man before the battle began. His mind was gone; his high courage sapped; his selfconfidence was at an end. Looking at the number of his forces, the weight of his vessels, the means at his disposal, and his own experience, one is inclined to say that he should have beaten his enemy, either by land or water. But he fought without an idea of conquering, and none who ever so fought have conquered. No god was necessary to make him fly, for he went into battle prepared
only for flight. The poison of Egypt had already quelled the courage of the Roman warrior.
In truth, there was no battle at Actium, though so much merit has been given to Augustus for his victory. There was no battle, but only a complete rout. We all know that Cleopatra accompanied Antony when he went forth to meet Augustus
ultima secum Bactra vehit,sequiturque nefas Egyptia conjux,
This in the eyes of Romans was the great offence; this was in their mind the cause of his discomfiture. And they were probably right. The Egyptian consort maintained it seems a sort of control over her own country's force through the whole campaign. It was but a divided command which Antony held, and a command divided with a woman. On the first opportunity which the wind allowed, Cleopatra fled.
She hoisted her purple sails on her gilded deck. [as Mr. Merivale tells us,] and threaded rapidly the maze of combatants, followed by This the Egyptian squadron of sixty barks. movement, unexpected to the last by either party, was ascribed to woman's cowardice; but from what had already passed in the council, there can be no doubt that it was previously concerted. When Antonius hinself, observing the appointed signal, leaped into a five-oared galley, and followed swiftly in her wake, the rage and shame of his adherents filled them with desperation.
Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat. There is no other explanation to be given of Antony's conduct, for it seems that he had no ulterior
design. The great army which he had left on shore, and to which he should have trusted his safety, abandoned its general when it was found that the general had abandoned his army. Nor did Antony expect that it would be otherwise. He as his sole resource returned to Egypt with his queen, and here, in alternate periods of gloomy solitude and loud revelling orgies, wasted the few wretched remaining days of his mo mentous life. For an instant he is seen combating against the foe that had followed close upon his heels, with all the energy and promptness of his youth, and then he is found begging abjectly for favour, as no Ro
man should have begged. His mistress too was treacherous to him, and strove hard to save herself by the sale of her lover's life and her own charms. Augustus, however, knew that both were at his command, and would purchase neither. The two fugitives were abandoned by every friend, by every hope, by every chance of succour. Cleopatra, fearing she knew not what, retired to the costly tomb which she had prepared for her sepulture, and gave out that she had destroyed herself. Her lover, not to be outdone, and flattering himself that in spite of her well-known perfidy, the pearl of Egypt had at last died for love of him, determined to perish as became a Roman. He gave himself a mortal wound, and when wounded and sinking was carried to the arms of his mistress. And thus he died.
Augustus was a libertine as regards women, but he never became the slave of a woman. It was in vain that Cleopatra tried her well-accustomed wiles upon the iron heart of a third Roman Imperator. Augustus, we are told, looked coldly from her face, upbraided her for her policy as a queen, and demanded an inventory of her wealth. For him she could now answer but two purposes-to fill his coffers, and adorn his triumph. Cleopatra begged abjectly for her life, and the conqueror felt assured that she would consent to live to be dragged as a show through the streets of Rome. We remember how the gallant Vercingetorix had fared; how he, after six years of captivity, had been strangled in Rome by way of gracing the triumph of the great Cæsar, of the Cæsar who was famous for his mercy. Cleopatra may have fairly surmised that neither her sex, nor her more than matured charms, would save her from some fate equally to be dreaded at the hands of a Cæsar who was not often merciful.
She deceived Augustus by her prayers and her humility. She again taught herself to believe that she had truly loved her Antony, and having sent to the conqueror an appeal, in which she begged to be buried with her lover, she succeeded in putting an end to her life. The historian is able to give us no more authenticated narrative of the manner of her death than that with which Shakespere
has made us familiar. We are not forbidden to believe in those little asps hidden beneath the fig-leaves, with which we have so long been requainted. Augustus was balked of his living victim, and constrained to satisfy his triumphal pomp with a poor image of the dying lady. He was not, however, debarred from blood. The boy Cæsarion was the child of Cleopatra, and she had claimed Cæsar as the father of her son. Cæsarion therefore died. There was still surviving one of the conspirators against Cæsar: he also died. Others also there were whom it was thought well to sacrifice, some for one cause, some for another. And then, we are told, Octavius, triumphant in victory and secure in power, wiped his blood-stained sword.' Mr. Merivale seems almost to think that he would better have sustained his character, had he had resource to another proscription.
Having arranged his affairs in the East, Augustus returned to Rome, and enjoyed his triumph. This is the moment at which the Empire of the West commenced; 725 years from the building of the city, and 29 years before the birth of Christ. It is a memorable epoch in the world's history. In profane history there is none more memorable. From this commenced the system of qualified despotism which has prevailed so generally in Europe. All the emperors, czars, and autocratic kings who have since ruled in Germany, Russia, Spain, France, England, and Italy, have owed their power to the policy of Augustus, and have not the less owed to him the necessity of labouring in their great offices for the weal of their subjects.
It is in this that European tyrants have differed so widely from Eastern kings. The thrones of the latter have been soft and idle couches, their subjects attendant slaves, mere ministers to the pleasures of their lord, their kingdom a domain for the production of such luxuries as might gratify his tastes. But no seat can have been less soft than those on which the autocratic sovereigns of Europe have been forced to sit, no labour more oppressive both to the body and the mind than that they have been called upon to endure. It is true that many have failed to ac