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The Common People of Ancient Rome eBook

Frank Frost Abbott
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 172 pages of information about The Common People of Ancient Rome.
cannot have blinded us entirely to the romance of the desperate siege of Alesia and the final struggle which the Gauls made to drive back the invader.  Matius shared with Caesar all the hardships and perils of that campaign, and with Caesar he witnessed the final scene of the tragedy when Vercingetorix, the heroic Gallic chieftain, gave up his sword, and the conquest of Gaul was finished.  It is little wonder that Matius and the other young men who followed Caesar were filled with admiration of the man who had brought all this to pass.

It was a notable group, including Trebatius, Hirtius, Pansa, Oppius, and Matius in its number.  All of them were of the new Rome.  Perhaps they were dimly conscious that the mantle of Tiberius Gracchus had fallen upon their leader, that the great political struggle which had been going on for nearly a century was nearing its end, and that they were on the eve of a greater victory than that at Alesia.  It would seem that only two of them, Matius and Trebatius, lived to see the dawning of the new day.  But it was not simply nor mainly the brilliancy of Caesar as a leader in war or in politics which attracted Matius to him.  As he himself puts it in his letter to Cicero:  “I did not follow a Caesar, but a friend.”  Lucullus and Pompey had made as distinguished a record in the East as Caesar had in the West, but we hear of no such group of able young men following their fortunes as attached themselves to Caesar.  We must find a reason for the difference in the personal qualities of Caesar, and there is nothing that more clearly proves the charm of his character than the devotion to him of this group of men.  In the group Matius is the best representative of the man and the friend.  When Caesar came into his own, Matius neither asked for nor accepted the political offices which Caesar would gladly have given him.  One needs only to recall the names of Antony, Labienus, or Decimus Brutus to realize the fact that Caesar remembered and rewarded the faithful services of his followers.  But Matius was Caesar’s friend and nothing more, not his master of the horse, as Antony was, nor his political and financial heir, as Octavius was.  In his loyalty to Caesar he sought for no other reward than Caesar’s friendship, and his services to him brought with them their own return.  Indeed, through his friend he suffered loss, for one of Caesar’s laws robbed him of a part of his estate, as he tells us, but this experience did not lessen his affection.  How different his attitude was from that of others who professed a friendship for Caesar!  Some of them turned upon their leader and plotted against his life, when disappointed in the favors which they had received at his hands, and others, when he was murdered, used his name and his friendship for them to advance their own ambitious designs.  Antony and Octavius struggle with each other to catch the reins of power which have fallen from his hands; Dolabella, who seems to regard himself as an understudy of Caesar, plays a serio-comic part in Rome in his efforts to fill the place of the dead dictator; while Decimus Brutus hurries to the North to make sure of the province which Caesar had given him.

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