So he advanced. It was not lawful for an imperator, or general in command of an army, to come within the Roman territory with his troops except for his triumph, and the little river Rubicon was the boundary of Cisalpine Gaul. So when Caesar crossed it, he took the first step in breaking through old Roman rules, and thus the saying arose that one has passed the Rubicon when one has gone so far in a matter that there is no turning back. Though Caesar’s army was but small, his fame was such that everybody seemed struck with dismay, even Pompeius himself, and instead of fighting, he carried off all the senators of his party to the South, even to the extreme point of Italy at Brundusium. Caesar marched after them thither, having met with no resistance, and having, indeed, won all Italy in sixty days. As he advanced on Brundusium, Pompeius embarked on board a ship in the harbor and sailed away, meaning, no doubt, to raise an army in the provinces and return—some feared like Sulla—to take vengeance.
Caesar was appointed Dictator, and after crushing Pompeius’ friends in Spain, he pursued him into Macedonia, where Pompeius had been collecting all the friends of the old commonwealth. There was a great battle fought at Pharsalia, a battle which nearly put an end to the old government of Rome, for Caesar gained a great victory; and Pompeius fled to the coast, where he found a vessel and sailed for Egypt. He sent a message to ask shelter at Alexandria, and the advisers of the young king pretended to welcome him, but they really intended to make friends with the victor; and as Pompeius stepped ashore he was stabbed in the back, his body thrown into the surf, and his head cut off.
With Pompeius fell the hopes of those who were faithful to the old government, such as Cicero and Cato. They had only to wait and see what Caesar would do, and with the memory of Marius in their minds.
[Illustration: JULIUS CAESAR.]
Caesar did not come at once to Rome; he had first to reduce the East to obedience. Egypt was under the last descendants of Alexander’s general Ptolemy, and was an ally of Rome, that is, only remaining a kingdom by her permission. The king was a wretched weak lad; his sister Cleopatra, who was joined with him in the throne, was one of the most beautiful and winning women who ever lived. Caesar, who needed money, demanded some that was owing to the state. The young king’s advisers refused, and Caesar, who had but a small force with him, was shut up in a quarter of Alexandria where he could get no fresh water but from pits which his men dug in the sand. He burnt the Egyptian fleet that it might not stop the succors that were coming from Syria, and he tried to take the Isle of Pharos, with the lighthouse on it, but his ship was sunk, and he was obliged to save himself by swimming, holding his journals in one hand