Caesar: A Biography

By Gérard Walter; Emma Craufurd et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter III
THE FLIGHT BEFORE CAESAR

Day had dawned, the day which was to witness the first tumult of civil war. The feeble rays of the morning light struggled through a sky heavy with clouds. The troops had entered Ariminum while its inhabitants were still asleep. Caesar's arrival was heralded by the sharp clamour of fife and trumpet, to which the horn added its harsh lingering note. This music woke the sleepy citizens. Jolted from their beds, they seized their arms and rushed to the market place. It was occupied by the Roman troops. They saw the military standards shining in all their splendour and they were able to distinguish in the centre of the gathering the gaunt outline of the imperator haranguing his army. Then they "shuddered with fear," and perhaps also with cold on that bleak winter morning, and, "giving up all idea of resistance," they went back to their homes.

The celebrated speech which Caesar delivered to his soldiers assembled in the forum of Ariminum must be regarded as a sort of manifesto which marked the opening of hostilities.

Caesar appeared before his army "shedding tears and rending the garments on his breast," declares Suetonius. Beside him stood the fugitive tribunes who had arrived the night before and were still dressed in the miserable garments of slaves. The setting was carefully prepared. It aimed at rousing his hearers by a skilful display of the injustices which their leader had had to endure in the recent past. For now he would disclose to them the real reasons of the expedition he had undertaken, and announce his break with Pompey, of which his troops--who had heard

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