04. Some Political Matters
September 07, 2001
I'm on my way back to northern Italy for the winter. The troops will quarter in Gaul. I have sent Servius Galba and the 12th legion into the Alps on a mission to pacify the trade route there.
September 09, 2001
Those in power rarely recognize someone else's achievement unless it benefits them. Thus I should elaborate on how it is that the Senate granted me a supplicatio.
Earlier this year, Cicero was recalled from exile. It was largely the result of a collaboration between Pompey and the Senate. I may have mentioned that Pompey, with Crassus, is in an alliance with me - some call this the triumvirate, although they frequently use this term to overstate our influence over Roman affairs. It is true we collaborated in order to attain positions and pass legislation that, had we been acting alone, would have been prevented by the Senate, but it's not true that we are de facto dictators with absolute control over the Empire.
Cicero, I should mention, is a fabulous orator and lawyer. I have great respect for him, and we write to each other frequently. However, he is too closely tied to old, impractical ways, and is too friendly with the rich. A bad relationship with the popular Clodius - and a few unwise comments during a trial - led to his exile, which greatly upset the senators, as they need his oration to make their ugly ways seem more appealing.
Anyway, the senators were so happy with Pompey efforts on Cicero's behalf that during a recent grain shortage, the Senate granted him a cura annonae, a special commission to deal with the grain supply throughout the Empire. The term is for 5 years, and it represents a significant augmentation of his power. He must have known that I would notice this and be concerned about the effect it could have on our alliance. So, I think he lobbied key senators to grant me the supplicatio, as a way of making up for his own advancements.
I am pleased with the outcome nonetheless. But the larger concern is that the Senate will begin to influence Pompey's behaviour. Over the next while I will monitor the relationship closely.
September 18, 2001
Regular updates will resume in a few days.
September 24, 2001
I'm back. My attention was temporarily diverted to more important matters.
Much has happened. Servius Galba's campaign has suffered a setback. Pompey has gained more political ground than I expected. There is increased street violence in Rome, I hear, because a new mob has been organized.
More about these developments will be forthcoming.
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September 26, 2001
About Galba's expedition: the goal, as I mentioned before, was to open up lines of communication and trade in the Alps. He won several victories at the outset, and decided after taking hostages to quarter for the winter in a small, central town. He had the natives evacuate a part of their village, and reinforced it as a camp. He sent a couple cohorts to quarter in a different district, and kept a couple more out looking for supplies.
Suddenly he received word that the natives had deserted their part of the village. Reports came of a great mass of them, armed, occupying the mountains that completely surrounded the town. They had resented giving over their children as hostages, and also noticed the numerical inferiority of the Roman troops, since so many had been sent out of the area.
When the Gauls attacked, the fighting was fierce. The Romans had nowhere to turn for reinforcements, so wounded men had to keep at their posts, while the enemy came in wave after wave. The Gauls also had the advantage of height, and used it to lob down their javelins.
Finally the men could take no more. In a last attempt, they forced their way out of the fort and attacked the Gauls directly. There was a stunning reversal. I think Gauls are unaccustomed to seeing Roman troops fighting with desperation. Whatever it was, the Gauls were quickly surrounded and a large number were killed before the rest fled.
Roman casualties were high, however, and Galba decided to abandon plans of camping in the region. He has set out for the nearest camp in Transalpine Gaul. So unfortunately the mission was a failure.
September 27, 2001
A few words about mercy. I have become known for my clementia, as I spare my enemies the cruelty most often associated with military superiority. It is really a simple formula. You must present others with a choice when they are dealing with you: if they do what you wish, there will be positive results; if not, negative results. The more black and white the choice, the better.
Unnecessary cruelty, like the betraying of agreements, works against one in the long run. If your enemy suspects he will be treated horribly should he surrender, he will fight to the death against you. Alternately, if he expects clemency, he will be eager to lay down his weapon. Cruelty will also give the undecided a reason to oppose you. When your enemies recruit help, they will point out what a cruel and horrible enemy you are. In this way your cruelty is helping the enemy's cause.
Give the enemy the option of kind treatment if they comply with your wishes. Tell them that if they do not, they will be destroyed - in gentler words than this, of course, or you will be seen as a bully. Do not worry that they will abuse your clemency. If they do so, sell them into slavery, or raze their village, or crucify them - react in such a way as to discourage such dishonesty in others. They will learn that forgiveness is not to be taken lightly.
September 28, 2001
While Pompey has enjoyed a better relationship with the Senate lately, his relationship with the people is falling apart. Everywhere he goes, I hear, he is taunted by mobs of opponents. It's odd, since he used to be incredibly popular with the common man. The reason is the opposition of Clodius. Clodius is an enigmatic fellow. He's talented, intelligent, belligerent, aggressive, popular, anarchic, and dangerous. He isn't afraid to use extraordinary means to get his way. He views legal proceedings and the techniques of government with such scorn that he actually prefers violence. His street gangs have had a profound effect on Roman life in recent years, sometimes good, sometimes bad.
In any case Clodius has set his sights on Pompey. I take this as a sign of a renewed rivalry between Pompey and Crassus, who is Clodius' shadowy financier.
I'm unwilling to get too involved in this dynamic in the moment (more so than I already am, anyway), but I am sure the time will come for a decisive act.
September 30, 2001
I've saved some money over the campaign this past year, and I'm considering doing some building in Rome. Rather than a large site on the outskirts of the city, I'll build something more modest in a central location.
I have heard mention that Marcus Crassus is feeling resentful lately. As you may know, he is one-third of the somewhat strained alliance that also includes myself and Pompey. Both he and Pompey are getting on in years, and while Crassus has attained fabulous wealth and quite a bit of political sway, he has never had great military successes. He led an army against Spartacus' slave insurrection a few years back, but most of the credit for his accomplishments went to Pompey. So now that the Roman people are celebrating my victories in Gaul, Crassus feels a little jealous and longs for a new command. It's understandable.
October 02, 2001
I'm not sure if I have mentioned it recently, but the Egyptians have gotten themselves into some trouble. Last year they rose up and ousted their king, Ptolemy XII. (I'm not sure what they're up to with their names: Ptolemy has two sons whom he has also named Ptolemy, and two daughters named Cleopatra. Why all the confusion?) Now on the throne is the eldest daughter, Berenice. She has just recently been implicated in the murder of her husband and is marrying again.
The instability over there is of great concern here in Rome, as the bulk of our grain supply comes from Egypt. In fact, Ptolemy XII is here now, and there are plans to reinstate him. I am expecting the command to be granted to someone soon. If I were not so busy in Gaul, I'd love to take it myself.
I'm considering a quick trip to the Balkans this winter, just to look around. The area is rich in minerals, and a campaign could be launched from Illyria. Other offensives I'm thinking about: expeditions into Germany or Britain. Both areas supply troops and assistance to insurgencies in Gaul, and both consider themselves untouchable.
October 03, 2001
Clodius' gang has been opposed lately by a new force on the street, that of Milo, who is backed by Pompey. Milo's gang is made up largely of gladiators he has bought. They seem determined and efficient; technical, if not inspired. They lack Clodius' ability to appeal to the masses. A handful of Clodius' can create a riot. Milo's can only intimidate a specific target. He has apparently tried to bring Clodius to court on some charge or another, but I'm pretty sure it will fail.
I have been having many visitors here. As I mentioned, I'll have Clodius' brother up. I'm thinking of inviting Crassus, and maybe even Pompey...
October 05, 2001
One thing I miss about Rome is the theatre. I have been thinking of Euripides' Phoenician Women: for if we must do wrong, to do so for a kingdom were the fairest cause, but in all else virtue should be our aim.
October 06, 2001
Pompey is offering himself to the Senate as a candidate for special command in Egypt. The objective, as I mentioned earlier, would be the reinstatement of Ptolemy XII.
My lovely daughter Julia tells me that Pompey is worried about his standing with the Senate. As he loses popularity among the plebes, he may also become less useful to the senators, who need someone to dress up their self-serving policies as "being for the common good."
Well, if I accept Pompey's bid for increased power, I may as well get something in return. I have raised many additional legions during the war in Gaul, as dictated by military necessity. Yet I am still financing them myself with money from the campaign. I think they should be on the public payroll, like every other soldier.
October 08, 2001
I met with Clodius' brother today. He's a reasonable fellow and the discussions were civil. I have good reason to believe the violence in Rome will get better shortly.
The Senate has decided not to give the Egyptian command to Pompey. Very interesting.
October 10, 2001
The street battle moves to the court. Milo has filed various charges against Clodius.
In the Senate, Cicero has mentioned he may bring the lex campana, my land law that was passed two years ago, up for review. This is ridiculous. The law was extremely well thought out, and beyond that it's already been put into effect. I suppose that to the fatcat patricians, giving the urban poor a fair chance at purchasing rural property is a bad idea? Do they think a huge population of disenchanted plebians will help keep Rome stable?
Presumably the part he objects to is the settlement of my soldiers. I almost admire Cicero's audacity. When Cato attempted to block the law's passage, he wound up in jail. Does Cicero think he's any different, especially since he just came back from exile? I can assume he has a powerful backer, and there are really only two of those that aren't me.
October 13, 2001
Milo's legal attacks on Clodius have failed. Elections are tomorrow, Clodius is running for aedile: if he is elected he will be immune to prosecution, as are all of our magistrates.
October 15, 2001
Clodius was elected aedile! With Crassus' help, and the help of some other powerful people, he easily escaped Milo's attacks. I assume he will now take Milo to court.
I'm taking a trip to the Balkans, so updates will resume upon my return in a couple days.