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POMPEY GOES TO SPAIN 243 such righteous indignation against them, that he was constrained to put them to death, it was unfortunate that only seven years later he should himself introduce and carry through several of these same Democratic reforms which Lepidus and his followers suffered for supporting (B.C. 77).
For the second time Pompey now stood victorious in Italy with a large army at his back. In spite of the unswerving loyalty to the Optimate cause which he had hitherto displayed, the Senate felt uncomfortable with such a stirring and capable general at their gates. It was with considerable relief, therefore, that they heard that he was not unwilling to undertake a new military commission, which would remove him far from the capital. He wished to be given the charge of the difficult and dangerous war against Sertorius in Spain, which had been in progress ever since Sulla drove the Democrats out of Italy five years before. Metellus, the best general of the old Optimate ring, had been striving against the great guerilla chief with indifferent success, if without actual disaster. There was no one else to send against him, least of all did the consuls of the year show any wish to set out upon such an uninviting errand. “We must despatch Pompey to Spain," said the witty L. Philippus, "non pro consule, sed pro consulibus.” Doubtless the more suspicious members of the oligarchy muttered to each other that if Pompey slew Sertorius, the state was freed from a great public danger, while if Sertorius slew or foiled Pompey, there was at least a dangerous pretender removed from the political stage. So the young general was duly assigned the province of Hither Spain, and permitted to march forth from Italy, taking with him the army which had subdued the Cisalpine rebels and captured Mutina. Troubles in Gaul delayed his march, and it was not till the spring of B.C. 76 that he reached the Pyrenees, there to find that
Sertorius was in possession of the greater part of the Iberian Peninsula. The tribes of the north-east were still faithful, as were most of the coast cities on the Mediterranean. But Metellus was fighting an uphill battle in Baetica, and over the whole of the interior, and the western parts of the two provinces, Sertorius reigned supreme.
The fact was that the Spanish war was no longer a struggle between the two Roman parties, nor a prolongation of the old contest in Italy between Democrat and Optimate. It was much more like a national rising of the greater number of the Iberian tribes to recover their ancient independence. The old programme of Marius and Cinna had nothing in it to attract the Spaniards, and Sertorius was not fighting for that outworn creed; he was sustained by his personal ambition and his determination not to submit to the oligarchy. It was as a Spanish chief, not as a Roman propraetor, that he was now strong; the Italian element in his host was daily growing less, the native element more preponderant. The war was becoming an attempt, led by a man of genius, to found a new Romano-Spanish national state. If Sertorius was not yet wholly successful, it was because the ancestral feuds of the Celtiberian tribes always supplied his enemies with a considerable following of native supporters. Yet their number was daily growing less, as the loyal states of the interior, unsuccoured by the arms of Metellus, fell one after another into the hands of the great guerilla chief.
Spain was already the land in which, to quote the epigram of a great general of the modern world, “large armies starve and small armies get beaten.” Pompey found that he had undertaken no easy task, when he looked on the boundless arid plains and the rugged sierras over which the bands of Sertorius were roving. How was he to deal with an enemy who moved twice as fast as the CAMPAIGNS AGAINST SERTORIUS
heavily loaded legion, who knew every pass and ravine, who dispersed when beaten, yet assembled within a few days to fall upon the victor's flanks and rear. The army of the rebels, it was said, was like one of their own rivers. At one moment Sertorius would be wandering lost in the plains with a handful of followers, like a meagre July stream; at the next, like the same stream after rain, he would be dashing along swollen by countless fierce affluents from the mountains, almost irresistible, with 150,000 spears at his back.
For five years the weary struggle with the Spaniards continued [B.C. 76–72] amid many alternations of fortune. If Pompey had hoped to win an easy triumph over enemies no more formidable than those he had encountered in Italy and Africa, he must have been disappointed. Many times he was foiled, once he was defeated in open fight: on another occasion he owed it to the arrival of his colleague Metellus that he ended the day with a drawn battle instead of a defeat. But his spirit never failed, nor did his legions waver from their belief in him. The Senate supported him badly, as might have been expected : there was a moment when the pay of his soldiers was two years in arrear, and when he had used up the greater part of his private fortune in making advances to his loyal followers. But in spite of the neglect of the home government, the difficulty of the country, and the unrivalled mixture of craft and courage displayed by his adversary, he worked on slowly towards his end. Many historians have sneered at Pompey's management of the war, and have hinted that a general of ordinary capacity would have brought it to a much earlier end, without any of the “unfortunate incidents” that chequered its earlier years. We, who have learnt of late what guerilla warfare means, shall be loth to condemn him when we reflect on the superior numbers of his enemies, on the character of his troops, almost entirely infantry, and on the slack way in which he was supported from home. He never despaired, even when the struggle had dragged on for four years: he slowly drove back Sertorius into the inland : when at last that great man fell by the hands of his own discontented followers, he brought the war to a sudden end in a few months. It would have ceased long before, if the rebels had not possessed such a splendid leader. Perpenna, the double traitor who had murdered Sertorius, fell into Pompey's hands in the last decisive battle. To save his life even for a few days he offered to place in his captor's hands the private correspondence of his late chief, containing many letters of the most compromising sort from prominent men at Rome. Pompey burnt the papers unread and consigned Perpenna to the headsman. He might have crushed the malcontents by producing their treasonable correspondence, or have made them his humble servants by threatening to divulge the documents if they thwarted him. But such methods were far from his honest mind.
Leaving Spain at last pacified, Pompey set out for Italy in the spring of B.C. 71. On his return journey he was fortunate enough to run into the midst of the wrecks of the army of Spartacus. After their defeat by Crassus, and the death of their leader, the rebels were flying towards the Alps, but met the Spanish legions in Liguria and there were cut to pieces.
It was now for the third time that Pompey came victorious to the gates of Rome, with a loyal army of veterans who would have followed him on any enterprise. Sulla's troops, who came over from Greece in B.C. 83, were not more devoted to their leader or more ready to attack any enemy that he might point out to them. The Senate might well tremble, for they had done their best to provoke Pompey, by their culpable neglect of the
POMPEY'S LEAGUE WITH CRASSUS 247
Spanish war and their persistent refusal to grant money and reinforcements to him for the last five years. They had no force to oppose him, for Metellus, the other commander in Spain, had disbanded his legions, and Crassus, who had put down the Servile revolt, was known to be even worse disposed toward the Senate than Pompey himself. There were only three possible ways out of the situation. The two generals-old personal enemies, as we have seen when dealing with the life of Crassusmight fall to blows and fight for the sovereignty of Italy; or one of them, in jealousy of the other, might espouse the cause of the Senate; or they might agree to sink their private enmity and join in an attack on the Optimates and the constitution of Sulla.
As we have already had to relate, it was the last and the least likely of these three alternatives that came to pass. Pompey did not attempt to fight his way to supreme power across the body of his rival Crassus, but joined with him to overthrow the Senate. He had long seen that the Sullan constitution was too narrow and cramping for a man of his own ability and ambition. He was flattered by the almost universal applause which he had won by ending the lingering war in Spain; flattered all the more, perhaps, because it must be confessed that Perpenna's dagger had given him the final triumph almost as much as his own sword. He owed the Senate no gratitude; a great body of the enemies of the Optimates—the rural knights and municipal Italy in general—were ready to welcome him as their natural leader. Hence came his definitive acceptance of the place of leader of the anti- senatorial party, and his alliance with Crassus. Probably he was in the end unwise to make their cause his own; he was reopening the floodgates of Democracy, when a Democratic constitution was really more unsuited to him than the rule