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POMPEY REORGANISES CORN-SUPPLY 271
flowed over the world from the city." Nor was it only the needs of the moment that were provided for: Pompey made permanent arrangements for the improvement of the corn-supply, which worked perfectly well during the short remainder of the Republican régime.
While he was still absent in Sicily there was a complicated interlude at Rome. The worthless King of Egypt, Ptolemy Auletes, who had just been expelled from his realm by the Alexandrines, came to Italy to ask for help. There was considerable competition ainong the leading men at Rome for the commission to restore him to his throne, for such jobs were always profitable to the commander to whom they were intrusted. Lentulus Spinther and several others intrigued for the post, and while they were wrangling Pompey's friends proposed that he should be sent to Egypt as soon as his present task was completed. The Optimates hunted up a Sibylline oracle, to the effect that “the king must not be restored by an army." But when the news reached Pompey, he sent back a message that he was prepared to restore Ptolemy without asking for a single cohort : it would merely be a matter for negotiations. In accordance with this hint, the tribune Caninius brought forward a bill providing that Pompey should be sent to Alexandria with no more retinue than two lictors, in order to reconcile the king to his subjects. But the Optimates used all their influence against the proposal, employing the hypocritical plea that so valuable a life must not be risked among the turbulent Egyptians. The Caninian bill was rejected, and Ptolemy went back to the East; in the next year he got himself restored by a private bargain with Gabinius, the proconsul of Syria — a simpler if not a cheaper method than that of making a formal appeal to the Senate and People.
In spite of the fact that he had stopped the famine,
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Pompey found that he was in a more unenviable position than ever when he returned to Rome. The Optimates, elated by the rejection of the Caninian bill, raised their heads and dared openly to oppose him: Clodius began once more to make him the mark of the foulest abuse and to raise mobs against him: Crassus, in spite of the fact that the alliance of B.C. 60 was still ostensibly in existence, intrigued against him, and even (so Pompey complained) became privy to a plot for his assassination. So helpless did he feel, that he resolved at last to appeal to Cæsar, the one man who was able, if he chose, both to make Clodius keep silence and to frighten the Optimates. This must have been a bitter humiliation to him; he had to confess that he had proved totally unable to manage domestic affairs, and to ask for the second time for his father-in-law's help. Cæsar was now a very different personage from the mere Democratic politician of B.C. 59. His Helvetian, German, and Belgic campaigns had raised him to the highest rank as a general, and he already had a numerous and devoted army at his back. Pompey must have felt that their relative importance was much changed since they had last met each other on the eve of Cæsar's departure for Gaul. Then he had been Rome's only general, and his colleague a clever demagogue with a doubtful past: now he was a notorious political failure and Cæsar the idol of the soldiery. But the Gallic wars were only half over, and it is probable that the elder man did not even yet realise his ally's full genius. It was to Cæsar, the manager of Rome's politics, not to Cæsar, the master of many legions, that he was appealing.
Pompey's visit to his father-in-law's province was made, in the guise of a mere side-excursion. While purporting to be on his way to Corsica and Sardinia, to reorganise the corn-supply, he turned aside to Lucca, where Cæsar
THE CONFERENCE OF LUCCA 273 had fixed his quarters for the winter of B.C. 57–56. He was not the only visitor whom the proconsul of Gaul had received. Crassus had been with Cæsar at Ravenna a few weeks before, bent on the opposite design. He thought that he at last saw his opportunity for edging Pompey entirely out of his political position. If Cæsar refused him help, he would sink into insignificance, and become a mere negligible quantity. But it was not the intention of the conqueror of Gaul to break with either of his colleagues. He preferred that during his absence there should be a balance of power at Rome. It would not suit him that either Pompey or Crassus should be reduced to impotence; still less was it his game that the Optimates should be allowed to seize the reins of power. The more distracted were home politics, the more important would be his own position. Some day he would come back to Rome to work his will; and when that day should come, he would prefer to find the city masterless and ill-governed. Meanwhile, there was still much work to be done in Gaul; the province was but half subdued, and his own army was not as yet so large or so devoted to himself as he hoped to make it.
Hence it came to pass that the conference at Lucca ended in a way that must have been unexpected to many of the onlookers. Cæsar insisted that Pompey and Crassus should both remain his allies, and once more (as in B.C. 70) they went through a solemn farce of reconciliation, and professed to put away their old quarrels. The next step was to draw up the political programme for the ensuing year. Cæsar claimed nothing more for himself than the renewal of his proconsulship in Gaul for another five years, and the right to raise more legions. In return for this concession he undertook not only to get Pompey and Crassus made consuls for B.C. 55, but to allow each of them to take a province and an army when their year of consulship should have expired. Pompey was to receive Spain, Crassus Syria. These were astoundingly liberal terms ! Cæsar seemed to be arming his colleagues against himself, and to be making them the present of a position which they could not have obtained by their own exertions. For it was he, and not they, who managed the whole business; he had but to give the signal and pull the wires, and immediately Clodius relapsed into silence, and the Optimates drew in their horns and stood still. It is not till we mark the consequences of the conference of Lucca that we realise how predominant was the position that Cæsar had already acquired. To his ancient power of intrigue and mob-management he now added the command of an ample provincial treasury and a large army. Absent though he was from Rome, he could secure that his desires should be carried out. If he now assigned provinces and legions to his confederates, it was because he knew their characters well, and did not fear them. They would always be at secret enmity with each other, and would practically cancel each other as factors in the political situation. Meanwhile they would, as he calculated, keep the Optimates quiet; each of them had suffered too much from the senatorial party to be willing to conclude an alliance with it.
In making this political forecast Cæsar committed an error. Pompey and Crassus duly received their consulships and provinces, and the Optimates were duly repressed. Cicero, as their representative, was forced to make that apology for his late attempts to kick against the triumvirs which he called his "recantation " [tralivodía]. So far things went well for Cæsar, but he had not allowed for two possibilities. The first was the death of Crassus, who lost his life and his army at Carrhae in B.C. 53. By his removal from the scene the counterweight which kept Pompey in check ceased to exist. The second factor in CÆSAR AND POMPEY ESTRANGED 275
the new situation was the growth of an overmastering jealousy in Pompey's mind, which led him into paths where it had seemed unlikely that he would ever stray. The elder general did not want to be king or dictator of Rome; this he had proved half-a-dozen times already. But he was also entirely resolved that no one else should aspire to such a position, and month by month it grew more clear that Cæsar might do so. This Pompey was determined to prevent; he had given himself a colleague, but he did not intend that his colleague should become his inaster. Such was the secret at the bottom of that gradual estrangement between the two men which grew more and more evident as the years B.C. 53-50 rolled on. Both morally and legally Pompey's suspicions of Cæsar were entirely justifiable. But unfortunately he had placed himself under great obligations to his colleague ; his conduct was bound to wear an invidious aspect when he began first to take measures of precaution against the man who had helped him out of his difficulties, and then openly to oppose him. Of this he was himself well aware; it was the main reason for his long hesitation and hanging back, before he finally declared himself the foe of his benefactor. When Cato, not long before hostilities commenced, taunted him with having allowed Cæsar to grow to his present greatness unopposed, Pompey replied that the man had been his friend and his father-in-law.
Those who, with Mommsen, attribute to Pompey nothing but the meanest impulses, call personal jealousy alone the cause of his breach with Cæsar. And that feeling was undoubtedly a powerful element among the mixed motives which swayed his mind; but there was something more: there was the honest political conviction that Rome did not want a despot. He himself, whose opportunities in the past had been so great, had not chosen to be king; why should another be allowed