A. 7.—The Catiline conspiracy (B.C. 63), and the irregular executions that followed its suppression, at length gave him his opportunity. While the Senate was hailing Cicero as “the Father of his country” for the stern promptitude which enabled him, as Consul, to say “Vixere” ["They have lived”] in answer to the question as to the doom of the conspirators, Caesar had electrified the assembly by his denunciation of the view that, in whatsoever extremity, the blood of Roman citizens might be shed by a Roman Consul, secretly and without legal warrant. Henceforward he took his place as the special leader on whom popular feeling at Rome more and more pinned its hopes. As Pontifex Maximus he gained (B.C. 63) a shadowy but far from unreal religious influence; as Pro-praetor he solidified the Roman dominion in Spain (where he had already been Quaestor); and on his return (B.C. 60) reconciled Crassus, the head of the moneyed interest, with Pompey, the darling of the Army, and by their united influence was raised next year to the Consulship.
A. 8.—A Roman Consul invariably, after the expiration of his year of office, was sent as Pro-consul to take charge of one of the Provinces, practically having a good deal of personal say as to which should be assigned to him. Caesar thus chose for his proconsular government the district of Gaul then under Roman dominion, i.e. the valley of the Po, and that of the Rhone. In making this choice Caesar was actuated by the fact that in Gaul he was more likely than anywhere else to come in for active service. Unquiet neighbours on the frontier, Germans and Helvetians, were threatening invasion, and would have to be repelled. And this would give the Pro-consul the chance of doing what Caesar specially desired, of raising and training