After this, he took Gaul as his province, and spent seven years in subduing it bit by bit, and in making two visits to Britain. He might pretty well trust the rotten state of Rome to be ready for his interference when he came back. Clodius had actually dared to bring Cicero to a trial for having put to death the friends of Catilina without allowing them to plead their own cause. Pompeius would not help him, and the people banished him four hundred miles from Rome, when he went to Sicily, where he was very miserable; but his exile only lasted two years, and then better counsels prevailed, and he was brought home by a general vote, and welcomed almost as if it had been a triumph.
Marcus Porcius Cato was as honest and true a man as Cicero, but very rough and stern, so that he was feared and hated; and there were often fierce quarrels in the Senate and Forum, and in one of these Pompeius’ robe was sprinkled with blood. On his return home, his young wife Julia thought he had been hurt, and the shock brought on an illness of which she died; thus breaking the link between her husband and father.
Pompeius did all he could to please the Romans when he was consul together with Crassus. He had been for some time building a most splendid theatre in the Campus Martius, after the Greek fashion, open to the sky, and with tiers of galleries circling round an arena; but the Greeks had never used their theatres for the savage sports for which this was intended. When it was opened, five hundred lions, eighteen elephants, and a multitude of gladiators were provided to fight in different fashions with one another before thirty thousand spectators, the whole being crowned by a temple to Conquering Venus. After his consulate, Pompeius took Spain as his province, but did not go there, managing it by deputy; while Crassus had Syria, and there went to war with the wild Parthians on the Eastern border. In the battle of Carrhae, the army of Crassus was entirely routed by the Parthians; he was killed, his head was cut off, and his mouth filled up with molten gold in scorn of his riches. At Rome, there was such distress that no one thought much even of such a disaster. Bribes were given to secure elections, and there was nothing but tumult and uproar, in which good men like Cicero and Cato could do nothing. Clodius was killed in one of these frays, and the mob grew so furious that the Senate chose Pompeius to be sole consul to put them down; and this he did for a short time, but all fell into confusion again while he was very ill of a fever at Naples, and even when he recovered there was a feeling that Caesar was wanted. But Caesar’s friends said he must not be called upon to give up his army unless Pompeius gave up his command of the army in Spain, and neither of them would resign.
[Illustration: THE ARENA.]
Caesar advanced with all his forces as far as Ravenna, which was still part of Cisalpine Gaul, and then the consul, Marcus Marcellus, begged Pompeius to protect the commonwealth, and he took up arms. Two of Caesars great friends, Marcus Antonius and Caius Cassius, who were tribunes, forbade this; and when they were not heeded, they fled to Caesar’s camp asking his protection.