1In the course of his sixteenth year he lost his father. In the next consulate, having previously been nominated priest of Jupiter, he broke his engagement with Cossutia, a lady of only equestrian rank, but very wealthy, who had been betrothed to him before he assumed the gown of manhood, and married Cornelia, daughter of that Cinna who was four times consul, by whom he presently had a daughter Julia; and the dictator Sulla could by no means force him to put away his wife. 2Therefore besides being punished by the loss of his priesthood, his wife’s dowry, and his family inheritances, Caesar was held to be one of the opposite party. He was accordingly forced to go into hiding, and though suffering from a severe attack of quartan ague, to change from one covert to another almost every night, and save himself from Sulla’s detectives by bribes. But at last, through the good offices of the Vestal virgins and of his near kinsmen, Aemilius Mamercus and Aurelius Cotta, he obtained forgiveness. 3Everyone knows that when Sulla had long held out against the most devoted and eminent men of his party who interceded for Caesar, and they obstinately persisted, he at last gave way and cried, either by divine inspiration or a shrewd forecast: “Have your way and take him; only bear in mind that the man you are so eager to save will one day deal the death blow to the cause of the aristocracy, which you have joined with me in upholding; for in this Caesar there is more than one Marius.”
2He served his first campaign in Asia on the personal staff of Marcus Thermus, governor of the province. Being sent by Thermus to Bithynia, to fetch a fleet, he dawdled so long at the court of Nicomedes that he was suspected of improper relations with the king; and he lent colour to this scandal by going back to Bithynia a few days after his return, with the alleged purpose of collecting a debt for a freedman, one of his dependents. During the rest of the campaign he enjoyed a better reputation, and at the storming of Mytilene Thermus awarded him the civic crown.
3He served too under Servilius Isauricus in Cilicia, but only for a short time; for learning of the death of Sulla, and at the same time hoping to profit by a counter revolution which Marcus Lepidus was setting on foot, he hurriedly returned to Rome. But he did not make common cause with Lepidus, although he was offered highly favourable terms, through lack of confidence both in that leader’s capacity and in the outlook, which he found less promising than he had expected.
4Then, after the civil disturbance had been quieted, he brought a charge of extortion against Cornelius Dolabella, an ex-consul who had been honoured with a triumph. On the acquittal of Dolabella Caesar determined to withdraw to Rhodes, to escape from the ill-will which he had incurred, and at the same time to rest and have leisure to study under Apollonius Molo, the most eminent teacher of oratory of that time. While crossing to Rhodes, after the winter season had already begun, he was taken by pirates near the island of Pharmacussa and remained in their custody for nearly forty days in a state of intense vexation, attended only by a single physician and two body-servants; 2for he had sent off his travelling companions and the rest of his attendants at the outset, to raise money for his ransom. Once he was set on shore on payment of fifty talents, he did not delay then and there to launch a fleet and pursue the departing pirates, and the moment they were in his power to inflict on them the punishment which he had often threatened when joking with them. He then proceeded to Rhodes, but as Mithridates was devastating the neighbouring regions, he crossed over into Asia, to avoid the appearance of inaction when the allies of the Roman people were in danger. There he levied a band of auxiliaries and drove the king’s prefect from the province, thus holding the wavering and irresolute states to their allegiance.
5While serving as military tribune, the first office which was conferred on him by vote of the people after his return to Rome, he ardently supported the leaders in the attempt to re-establish the authority of the tribunes of the commons, the extent of which Sulla had curtailed. Furthermore, through a bill proposed by one Plotius, he effected the recall of his wife’s brother Lucius Cinna, as well as of the others who had taken part with Lepidus in his revolution and after the consul’s death had fled to Sertorius; and he personally spoke in favour of the measure.
6When quaestor, he pronounced the customary orations from the rostra in praise of his aunt Julia and his wife Cornelia, who had both died. And in the eulogy of his aunt he spoke in the following terms of her paternal and maternal ancestry and that of his own father: “The family of my aunt Julia is descended by her mother from the kings, and on her father’s side is akin to the immortal Gods; for the Marcii Reges (her mother’s family name) go back to Ancus Marcius, and the Julii, the family of which ours is a branch, to Venus. Our stock therefore has at once the sanctity of kings, whose power is supreme among mortal men, and the claim to reverence which attaches to the Gods, who hold sway over kings themselves.”
2In place of Cornelia he took to wife Pompeia, daughter of Quintus Pompeius and granddaughter of Lucius Sulla. But he afterward divorced her, suspecting her of adultery with Publius Clodius; and in fact the report that Clodius had gained access to her in woman’s garb during a public religious ceremony was so persistent, that the senate decreed that the pollution of the sacred rites be judicially investigated.
7As quaestor it fell to his lot to serve in Farther Spain. When he was there, while making the circuit of the assize-towns, to hold court under commission from the praetor, he came to Gades, and noticing a statue of Alexander the Great in the temple of Hercules, he heaved a sigh, and as if out of patience with his own incapacity in having as yet done nothing noteworthy at a time of life when Alexander had already brought the world to his feet, he straightway asked for his discharge, to grasp the first opportunity for greater enterprises at Rome. 2Furthermore, when he was dismayed by a dream the following night (for he thought that he had offered violence to his mother) the soothsayers inspired him with high hopes by their interpretation, which was: that he was destined to rule the world, since the mother whom he had seen in his power was none other than the earth, which is regarded as the common parent of all mankind.
8Departing therefore before his term was over, he went to the Latin colonies which were in a state of unrest and meditating a demand for citizenship; and he might have spurred them on to some rash act, had not the consuls, in anticipation of that very danger, detained there for a time the legions which had been enrolled for service in Cilicia.
9For all that he presently made a more daring attempt at Rome; for a few days before he entered upon his aedileship he was suspected of having made a conspiracy with Marcus Crassus, an ex-consul, and likewise with Publius Sulla and Lucius Autronius, who, after their election to the consulship, had been found guilty of corrupt practices. The design was to set upon the senate at the opening of the year and put to the sword as many as they thought good; then Crassus was to usurp the dictatorship, naming Caesar as his master of horse, and when they had organized the state according to their pleasure, the consulship was to be restored to Sulla and Autronius. 2This plot is mentioned by Tanusius Geminus in his History, by Marcus Bibulus in his edicts, and by Gaius Curio the elder in his speeches. Cicero too seems to hint at it in a letter to Axius, where he says that Caesar in his consulship established the despotism which he had had in mind when he was aedile. Tanusius adds that Crassus, either conscience-stricken or moved by fear, did not appear on the day appointed for the massacre, and that therefore Caesar did not give the signal which it had been agreed that he should give; and Curio says that the arrangement was that Caesar should let his toga fall from his shoulder. 3Not only Curio, but Marcus Actorius Naso as well declare that Caesar made another plot with Gnaeus Piso, a young man to whom the province of Spain had been assigned unasked and out of the regular order, because he was suspected of political intrigues at Rome; that they agreed to rise in revolt at the same time, Piso abroad and Caesar at Rome, aided by the Ambrani and the peoples beyond the Po; but that Piso’s death brought both their designs to naught.