Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

The Crossing of the Rubicon

The news of Pompey's hostility was soon conveyed to Cæsar, who therefore tried harder than ever to keep in the good graces of the Romans, and asked to be named consul.

Cæsar had now been governor of Gaul almost nine years. In that short space of time he managed to subdue eight hundred towns and three hundred tribes; and he had fought against more than three million soldiers. His services had been so great that Pompey did not dare oppose his wishes openly, lest the people should be angry.

Pompey, however, was very anxious that his rival should come to Rome only as a private citizen. He therefore bribed a man to oppose Cæsar's election as consul, on the plea that it was against the law to elect any man who was absent from the city.

Then, as Cæsar staid in Gaul, Pompey advised the senate to recall two of his legions; but even when parted from him, these men never forgot the general they loved, and remained true to him.

As all the attempts to hinder Cæsar and lessen his glory had been vain, Pompey now fancied that it would be a good plan to make him come back to Rome, where he would not have an army at his beck and call. So the senate sent out the order that Pompey wished; but, instead of starting out for Italy alone, Cæsar came over the Alps at the head of his army. The great general was determined to get the better of his rival, arms in hand, if he could not secure what he wished more peaceably.

The news of Cæsar's crossing the Alps at the head of his army filled the senators with dismay. They feared the anger of a man who had won so many victories. Remembering that Pompey had often saved the state from threatening dangers, they implored him to take an army and go northward to check Cæsar's advance.

As we have already seen, Cæsar did not like bloodshed; and he was unwilling to fight with other Romans if he could secure what he wished without doing so. He therefore paused several times, and made several attempts to make peace with Pompey. But, when all his offers were refused, he ceased to hesitate, and boldly crossed the Rubicon, crying, "The die is cast!"

The Rubicon was a small river which flowed between the province of Gaul and the territory of the Roman republic. For this reason, it was against the law for the governor of Gaul to cross it without laying down his arms. As Cæsar did not obey this law, he plainly showed that he no longer intended to respect the senate's wishes, and was ready to make civil war.

Cæsar's crossing of the Rubicon was a very noted event. Ever since then, whenever a bold decision has been made, or a step taken which cannot be recalled, people have exclaimed: "The die is cast!" or "He has crossed the Rubicon!" and, when you hear these expressions used, you must always remember Cæsar and his bold resolve.

When Pompey heard that Cæsar had invaded Roman territory, and was coming toward Rome, his heart was filled with terror. Instead of remaining at his post, he fled to the sea, and embarked at Brundisium, the modern Brindisi. His aim was to sail over to Greece, where he intended to collect an army large enough to meet his rival and former friend.

Cæsar marched into Rome without meeting with any opposition. Arrived there, he broke open the treasury of the republic, and took all the money he needed to pay his troops. Then he sent out troops to meet Pompey, while he went straight to Spain, where he added to his fame by conquering the whole country in a very short time.

The conquest of Spain completed, the untiring Cæsar next set out for Greece, where he planned to meet Pompey himself. In the mean while, however, Pompey had gathered together many troops, and had been joined by many prominent Romans, among whom were Cicero, the great orator, and Brutus, a severe and silent but very patriotic man.


Front Matter

The First Settlers
Escape from the Burning City
The Clever Trick
The Boards Are Eaten
The Wolf and the Twins
Romulus Builds Rome
The Maidens Carried Off
Union of Sabines and Romans
Death of Romulus
Strange Signs of the Romans
The Quarrel with Alba
The Horatii and Curiatii
Tarquin and the Eagle
The Roman Youths
The King Outwitted
The Murder of Tarquin
The Ungrateful Children
The Mysterious Books
Tarquin's Poppies
The Oracle of Delphi
The Death of Lucretia
The Stern Father
A Roman Triumph
A Roman Triumph (Cont.)
Defense of the Bridge
The Burnt Hand
The Twin Gods
The Wrongs of the Poor
Fable of the Stomach
The Story of Coriolanus
The Farmer Hero
The New Laws
Death of Virginia
Plans of a Traitor
A School-Teacher Punished
Invasion of the Gauls
The Sacred Geese
Two Heroes of Rome
Disaster at Caudine Forks
Pyrrhus and His Elephants
The Elephants Routed
Ancient Ships
Regulus and the Snake
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
The Romans Defeated
The Inventor Archimedes
The Roman Conquests
Destruction of Carthage
Roman Amusements
The Jewels of Cornelia
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Caius Gracchus
Jugurtha, King of Numidia
The Barbarians
The Social War
The Flight of Marius
The Proscription Lists
Sertorius and His Doe
Revolt of the Slaves
Pompey's Conquests
Conspiracy of Catiline
Caesar's Conquests
Crossing of the Rubicon
Battle of Pharsalia
The Death of Caesar
The Second Triumvirate
The Vision of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
The Poisonous Snake
The Augustan Age
Death of Augustus
Varus Avenged
Death of Germanicus
Tiberius Smothered
The Wild Caligula
Wicked Wives of Claudius
Nero's First Crimes
Christians Persecuted
Nero's Cruelty
Two Short Reigns
The Siege of Jerusalem
The Buried Cities
The Terrible Banquet
The Emperor's Tablets
The Good Trajan
Trajan's Column
The Great Wall
Hadrian's Death
Antoninus Pius
The Model Pagan
Another Cruel Emperor
An Unnatural Son
The Senate of Women
The Gigantic Emperor
Invasion of the Goths
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra
A Prophecy Fulfulled
First Christian Emperor
Roman Empire Divided
An Emperor's Penance
Sieges of Rome
End of the Western Empire