Page images


"I hope, mamma, you are ready; for after what you mentioned last night of Pompey, I expect to be much interested in him.”

“Perhaps you will, Anne; but the history of Rome is no longer the record of splendid actions, but of notorious crimes. At the time we are speaking of, Pompey and Crassus were the two most powerful men in the state : the first was a celebrated general ; the second, the richest man in Rome. Secretly jealous of each other, they shewed they were so by refusing to disband their armies. Each tried to obtain the favour of the people, but by a different method. Pompey restored their power by annulling the laws which Sylla had procured against them. Crassus gave entertainments to the mob; dis


tributed corn amongst them, and gave dinners to the lower classes of people. A number of pirates at this time infesting the Mediterranean, a law was made creating Pompey admiral for three years, which gave him a degree of power, and might have been dangerous to his country, had he not possessed a greater desire for glory tban a love of ruling. Having thus acquired a command over the feet, he soon cleared the sea of these intruders ; not by destroying them, but by removing them to a distance, where he gave them lands. Pompey's success was so agreeable to the Tribunes, that they gave him the government of Asia, and made him commander of the armies which were sent against Mithridates, who was joined by Tigranes, king of Armenia. This prince was weak and vain : he obliged the kings whom he conquered to attend him as his slaves; he called himself monarch of all monarchies; and his quarrel with the Romans, and union with Mithridates, arose from the Roman general not giving him all his titles. Mithridates, on the contrary, was bold and warlike. Possessing great riches and extensive dominions, he for some time successfully opposed the Romans armies. The good fortune, however, of Pompey prevailed; Mithridates was betrayed by his own son, and obliged to shut himself up in his own palace. His son prevented his departure, and sent him word that death was all that remained to him. The unhappy old king, with many of his followers, immediately took poison, in order to avoid falling into the hands of the Romans. Tigranes was treated much in the same way by his son, but Pompey refused his assistance in ill treating his father, and, upon his continuing his undutiful conduct, he confined him until he was sent to Rome. Tigranes was treated kindly by Pompey, who obliged him to pay a sum of money, but restored the greatest part of his dominions to him. Pompey continued his march, and crossed Mount Taurus. Darius, King of Media, and Antiochus, King of Syria, were conquered by him. The King of Parthia submitted to him, and Syria and Pontus became Roman provinces. Entering Judea, he sent for Aristobulus, the usurping high priest, to appear before him ; this was refused, and Aristobulus fortified the temple against him. At the end of three months the temple was taken, and 12,000 Jews slain. Though Pompey entered the sacred temple with a reverential awe, yet his curiosity led him to see the holy of holies."

That was behind the curtain, where none but the high priest was permitted to enter, was it not, mamma?".

“Yes, Anne ; but he showed much respect for the place, and would not touch any of the treasures kept there. He, however, restored Hyrcanus to the priesthood, carrying Aristobulus with him to grace his triumph at Rome. This triumph was the most magnificent ever seen at Rome: the son of Tigranes, the sister of Mithridates, with Aristobulus, were in the train of the conqueror. The treasures brought home were enormous. During this time, a conspiracy in the state was formed, by one Cataline, a man of great courage and abilities, but of depraved character. Knowing that his fortune could not be made worse, he determined to revenge himself for not being chosen consul, instead of Cicero. Joined by some others as bad as himself, it was determined that a general rising should take place in Italy, that Rome should be set fire to in several places, and that, in the confusion, the senators should be massacred and the citadel seized. Cicero was to be the first destroyed, but, fortunately, the plot was discovered to him before it was quite ready for execution. The elegant speech in

which Cicero accused Cataline of his wickedness, before the senate, still exists, and that bad man, finding he could not excuse himself, left Rome, determining to begin his proceedings before the senate should be prepared to oppose him. Many of the conspirators remaining in Rome, Cicero proposed that they should be seized before they had time to escape; and a debate ensued as to what punishment should be inflicted upon them, between several celebrated characters. Julius Cæsar wished them to be confined for life. Cato was for putting them to death. These two men are said both to have loved their country, and studied its inter

but for different reasons, Cæsar wished to rule it. Cato loved it, because he thought it more free than any other. Cæsar was mild and merciful, Cato proud and severe ; it was not likely that two such opposite characters should agree. The opinion of Cato prevailed, and the prisoners were strangled. Cataline, in the mean time, had raised an army, and was resolved to defend himself to the last, but troops being sent against him, he and his party were all cut to pieces. Public thanks were given by the senate to Cicero, by whose advice and good management the city had been saved, and h.

ests ;


« PreviousContinue »