That popularity, to which men like Pompeius, with pretensions greater than their abilities, usually attach more value than they are willing to confess to themselves, could not but fall in the highest measure to the lot of the young general whose accession gave victory to the almost forlorn cause of the democracy. The reward of victory claimed by him for himself and his soldiers would then follow of itself. In general it seemed, if the oligarchy were overthrown, that amidst the total want of other considerable chiefs of the opposition it would depend solely on Pompeius himself to determine his future position. And of this much there could hardly be a doubt, that the accession of the general of the army, which had just returned victorious from Spain and still stood compact and unbroken in Italy, to the party of opposition must have as its consequence the fall of the existing order of things. Government and opposition were equally powerless; so soon as the latter no longer fought merely with the weapons of declamation, but had the sword of a victorious general ready to back its demands, the government would be in any case overcome, perhaps even without a struggle.

Coalition Of The Military Chiefs And The Democracy

Pompeius and the democrats thus found themselves urged into coalition. Personal dislikings were probably not wanting on either side: it was not possible that the victorious general could love the street orators, nor could these hail with pleasure as their chief the executioner of Carbo and Brutus; but political necessity outweighed at least for the moment all moral scruples.

The democrats and Pompeius, however, were not the sole parties to the league. Marcus Crassus was in a similar situation with Pompeius. Although a Sullan like the latter, his politics were quite as in the case of Pompeius preeminently of a personal kind, and by no means those of the ruling oligarchy; and he too was now in Italy at the head of a large and victorious army, with which he had just suppressed the rising of the slaves. He had to choose whether he would ally himself with the oligarchy against the coalition, or enter that coalition: he chose the latter, which was doubtless the safer course. With his colossal wealth and his influence on the clubs of the capital he was in any case a valuable ally; but under the prevailing circumstances it was an incalculable gain, when the only army, with which the senate could have met the troops of Pompeius, joined the attacking force. The democrats moreover, who were probably somewhat uneasy at their alliance with that too powerful general, were not displeased to see a counterpoise and perhaps a future rival associated with him in the person of Marcus Crassus.

Thus in the summer of 683 the first coalition took place between the democracy on the one hand, and the two Sullan generals Gnaeus Pompeius and Marcus Crassus on the other. The generals adopted the party-programme of the democracy; and they were promised immediately in return the consulship for the coming year, while Pompeius was to have also a triumph and the desired allotments of land for his soldiers, and Crassus as the conqueror of Spartacus at least the honour of a solemn entrance into the capital.

To the two Italian armies, the great capitalists, and the democracy, which thus came forward in league for the overthrow of the Sullan constitution, the senate had nothing to oppose save perhaps the second Spanish army under Quintus Metellus Pius. But Sulla had truly predicted that what he did would not be done a second time; Metellus, by no means inclined to involve himself in a civil war, had discharged his soldiers immediately after crossing the Alps. So nothing was left for the oligarchy but to submit to what was inevitable. The senate granted the dispensations requisite for the consulship and triumph; Pompeius and Crassus were, without opposition, elected consuls for 684, while their armies, on pretext of awaiting their triumph, encamped before the city. Pompeius thereupon, even before entering on office, gave his public and formal adherence to the democratic programme in an assembly of the people held by the tribune Marcus Lollius Palicanus. The change of the constitution was thus in principle decided.

Re-establishing Of The Tribunician Power

They now went to work in all earnest to set aside the Sullan institutions. First of all the tribunician magistracy regained its earlier authority. Pompeius himself as consul introduced the law which gave back to the tribunes of the people their time-honoured prerogatives, and in particular the initiative of legislation-- a singular gift indeed from the hand of a man who had done more than any one living to wrest from the community its ancient privileges.

New Arrangement As To Jurymen

With respect to the position of jurymen, the regulation of Sulla, that the roll of the senators was to serve as the list of jurymen, was no doubt abolished; but this by no means led to a simple restoration of the Gracchan equestrian courts. In future--so it was enacted by the new Aurelian law--the colleges of jurymen were to consist one-third of senators and two-thirds of men of equestrian census, and of the latter the half must have rilled the office of district-presidents, or so-called -tribuni aerarii-. This last innovation was a farther concession made to the democrats, inasmuch as according to it at least a third part of the criminal jurymen were indirectly derived from the elections of the tribes. The reason, again, why the senate was not totally excluded from the courts is probably to be sought partly in the relations of Crassus to the senate, partly in the accession of the senatorial middle party to the coalition; with which is doubtless connected the circumstance that this law was brought in by the praetor Lucius Cotta, the brother of their lately deceased leader.

Renewal Of The Asiatic Revenue-Farming

Not less important was the abolition of the arrangements as to taxation established for Asia by Sulla,(3) which presumably likewise fell to this year.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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