Life of Antony, 5

Plutarch  translated by Bernadotte Perrin

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5This, however, was at a later time. But when matters at Rome came to a crisis, the aristocratic party attaching itself to Pompey, who was in the city, and the popular party summoning Caesar from Gaul, where he was in arms, then Curio, the friend of Antony, who had changed sides and was now favouring the cause of Caesar, brought Antony over to it. Curio had great influence with the multitude from his eloquence, and made lavish use of money supplied by Caesar, and so got Antony elected tribune of the people,[10] and afterwards one of the priests, called augurs, who observe the flight of birds. 2As soon as Antony entered upon his office he was of great assistance to those who were managing affairs in the interests of Caesar. In the first place, when Marcellus the consul proposed to put under Pompey’s control the soldiers already collected, and to give him power to levy others, Antony opposed him by introducing a decree that the forces already assembled should sail for Syria and give aid to Bibulus, who was carrying on war with the Parthians, and that the troops which Pompey was then levying should not belong to him. 3In the second place, when the senate would not receive Caesar’s letters nor allow them to be read, Antony, whose office gave him power, read them himself, and thereby changed the opinion of many, who judged from Caesar’s letters that he was making only reasonable and just demands. 4And finally, when two questions were before the senate, one, whether Pompey should dismiss his forces, and the other, whether Caesar should do so, and only a few were for having Pompey lay down his arms, and all but a few were for having Caesar do so, then Antony rose and asked whether it was the opinion of the senate that Pompey and Caesar alike should lay down their arms and dismiss their forces. This proposal all accepted with alacrity, and with shouts of praise for Antony they demanded that the question be put to vote. But the consuls would not consent to this, and again the friends of Caesar put forward fresh demands which were thought to be reasonable. These Cato opposed, and Lentulus, in his capacity of consul, drove Antony from the senate. Antony went forth heaping many imprecations upon them, and putting on the dress of a slave, and hiring a car in company with Quintus Cassius, he set out to join Caesar. As soon as they came into Caesar’s presence they cried loudly that everything was now at loose ends in Rome, since even tribunes of the people had no freedom of speech, but everyone who raised his voice in behalf of justice was persecuted and ran risk of his life.[11]

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  • [10] In 50 B.C.

  • [11] For the events narrated in this chapter, cf. also the Pompey, lviii. f.; the Caesar, xxx. f.

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