Contrary to former custom in the Sertorian headquarters, the feast soon became a revel; wild words passed at table, and it seemed as if some of the guests sought opportunity to begin an altercation. Sertorius threw himself back on his couch, and seemed desirous not to hear the disturbance. Then a wine-cup was dashed on the floor; Perpenna had given the concerted sign. Marcus Antonius, Sertorius' neighbour at table, dealt the first blow against him, and when Sertorius turned round and attempted to rise, the assassin flung himself upon him and held him down till the other guests at table, all of them implicated in the conspiracy, threw themselves on the struggling pair, and stabbed he defenceless general while his arms were pinioned (682). With him died his faithful attendants. So ended one of the greatest men, if not the very greatest man, that Rome had hitherto produced-- a man who under more fortunate circumstances would perhaps have become the regenerator of his country--by the treason of the wretched band of emigrants whom he was condemned to lead against his native land. History loves not the Coriolani; nor has she made any exception even in the case of this the most magnanimous, most gifted, most deserving to be regretted of them all.

Perpenna Succeeds Sertorius

The murderers thought to succeed to the heritage of the murdered. After the death of Sertorius, Perpenna, as the highest among the Roman officers of the Spanish army, laid claim to the chief command. The army submitted, but with mistrust and reluctance. However men had murmured against Sertorius in his lifetime, death reinstated the hero in his rights, and vehement was the indignation of the soldiers when, on the publication of his testament, the name of Perpenna was read forth among the heirs. A part of the soldiers, especially the Lusitanians, dispersed; the remainder had a presentiment that with the death of Sertorius their spirit and their fortune had departed.

Pompeius Puts And End To The Insurrection

Accordingly, at the first encounter with Pompeius, the wretchedly led and despondent ranks of the insurgents were utterly broken, and Perpenna, among other officers, was taken prisoner. The wretch sought to purchase his life by delivering up the correspondence of Sertorius, which would have compromised numerous men of standing in Italy; but Pompeius ordered the papers to be burnt unread, and handed him, as well as the other chiefs of the insurgents, overto the executioner. The emigrants who had escaped dispersed; and most of them went into the Mauretanian deserts or joined the pirates. Soon afterwards the Plotian law, which was zealously supported by the young Caesar in particular, opened up to a portion of them the opportunity of returning home; but all those who had taken part in the murder of Sertorius, with but a single exception, died a violent death. Osca, and most of the towns which had still adhered to Sertorius in Hither Spain, now voluntarily opened their gates to Pompeius; Uxama (Osma), Clunia, and Calagurris alone had to be reduced by force. The two provinces were regulated anew; in the Further province, Metellus raised the annual tribute of the most guilty communities; in the Hither, Pompeius dispensed reward and punishment: Calagurris, for example, lost its independence and was placed under Osca. A band of Sertorian soldiers, which had collected in the Pyrenees, was induced by Pompeius to surrender, and was settled by him to the north of the Pyrenees near Lugudunum (St. Bertrand, in the department Haute-Garonne), as the community of the "congregated" (-convenae-). The Roman emblems of victory were erected at the summit of the pass of the Pyrenees; at the close of 683, Metellus and Pompeius marched with their armies through the streets of the capital, to present the thanks of the nation to Father Jovis at the Capitol for the conquest of the Spaniards. The good fortune of Sulla seemed still to be with his creation after he had been laid in the grave, and to protect it better than the incapable and negligent watchmen appointed to guard it. The opposition in Italy had broken down from the incapacity and precipitation of its leader, and that of the emigrants from dissension within their own ranks. These defeats, although far more the result of their own perverseness and discordance than of the exertions of their opponents, were yet so many victories for the oligarchy. The curule chairs were rendered once more secure.

Chapter II

Rule Of The Sullan Restoration

External Relations

When the suppression of the Cinnan revolution, which threatened the very existence of the senate, rendered it possible for the restored senatorial government to devote once more the requisite attention to the internal and external security of the empire, there emerged affairs enough, the settlement of which could not be postponed without injuring the most important interests and allowing present inconveniences to grow into future dangers. Apart from the very serious complications in Spain, it was absolutely necessary effectually to check the barbarians in Thrace and the regions of the Danube, whom Sulla on his march through Macedonia had only been able superficially to chastise,(1) and to regulate, by military intervention, the disorderly state of things along the northern frontier of the Greek peninsula; thoroughly to suppress the bands of pirates infesting the seas everywhere, but especially the eastern waters; and lastly to introduce better order into the unsettled relations of Asia Minor. The peace which Sulla had concluded in 670 with Mithradates, king of Pontus,(2) and of which the treaty with Murena in 673(3) was essentially a repetition, bore throughout the stamp of a provisional arrangement to meet the exigencies of the moment; and the relations of the Romans with Tigranes, king of Armenia, with whom they had de facto waged war, remained wholly untouched in this peace. Tigranes had with right regarded this as a tacit permission to bring the Roman possessions in Asia under his power.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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