Caesar, Caius Julius by Faye Huntington

Let your thoughts go back along the years to the first years you can remember anything about, to the times of which your father and mother or perhaps your grandfather and grandmother have told you. Farther than that. Go back in the pages of history even farther than the history of the years when our Saviour was on earth. That is a long time to think back, is it not? But our record tells us that Csar was born one hundred years before Christ. He must have been a diligent student, for he became learned in philosophy and science, and thoroughly understood all the arts of war. Those of you who have progressed so far in your Latin studies, are familiar with his history of the wars he waged with the Helvetii, a nation which occupied what is now Switzerland, and with a king called Ariovistus. This was a German king who had crossed over the line into Gaul, and if you have read the story of these wars, you know something of his peculiarity as a historian, as well as something of his skill in carrying on war. For seven years he waged war in Gaul, in the meantime invading Britain. After this the Senate at Rome commanded Csar to disband his army and return to Rome. This he refused to do except under certain conditions which were refused; and the Senate further declared that unless his army was disbanded by a certain day Csar would be considered a public enemy. When he heard of this decree he called his soldiers together, and by his eloquence made them feel that both he and they had been treated badly, and then he determined to go on. It was not lawful for a general to lead an army into the province of Rome unless upon occasions of coming in great triumph.

Now I presume you have heard it said, when a person has gone too far in some undertaking to retreat, that he "has crossed the Rubicon." The Rubicon was a small stream which formed the boundary between Gaul, where Csar had been all this time with his army, and the Roman province. After he had made up his mind what to do, he led his soldiers across this little river. It was not much to do, but it was the important step which decided his future course.

I cannot tell you all that followed; how the leaders at Rome were terrified at the approach of the famous general, and fled pursued by Csar, who soon was made dictator of Rome. A little while after, hearing of a chance for a conquest in Asia Minor, he set out for Tarsus and presently sent back that famous message "Veni, vidi, vici!"—"I came, I saw, I conquered!"

He came back to Rome after some further triumphs in Africa, and ruled fifteen years. Though he gained his position of power unlawfully, he ruled wisely and appears to have sought to promote the welfare of his State. He made many good laws and carried forward many schemes for the general good. Among his undertakings was the revision of the calendar, in which he was assisted by some wise men who suggested the introduction of leap-years to make up for the six hours which were running behind every year.

But he had many enemies, and these conspired to take his life. When he was fifty-six years old he was assassinated in the Senate chamber. Among those who conspired against him was Marcus Brutus, who had been his friend, and when Csar saw the hand of Brutus uplifted against him he exclaimed, "Et tu Brute!"—"Thou too Brutus!" and fell down dead.

It has always seemed to me that there is a whole world of sadness in those three little words "Thou too Brutus!" There is love and reproach and despair. When a chosen friend turns against us we feel that we are undone.

Well, what have we found out about Csar's greatness? He was great in generalship, great in statesmanship, and great in oratory, and Macaulay says, "He possessed learning, taste, wit, eloquence, the sentiments and manners of an accomplished gentleman." What was lacking to make him truly great?