|The Story of Rome|
|by Mary Macgregor|
|A vivid account of the story of Rome from the earliest times to the death of Augustus, retold for children, chronicling the birth of a city and its growth through storm and struggle to become a great world empire. Gives short accounts of battles and campaigns, and of the men who expanded the borders of the Roman empire to include all lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Ages 10-14 |
CÆSAR AND THE PILOT
 AS Cæsar marched through Italy, town after town threw
open its gates to welcome the general who had at last
returned from Gaul, where his victories had covered him
What Pompey thought as he heard of the triumphal
progress of his rival we do not know. But he could not
fail to see how he had been deceived when he believed
that the affection of the people had been centered on
Not a single battle did Cæsar have to fight before he
reached the gates of Rome. Even here he was free to
enter the city, for Pompey, although his army was as
large as that of his rival, had fled.
The defence of the city had been left in the hands of
the Consuls. But they felt unable to face the general,
who came with his army behind him, so they also escaped
from the city and joined Pompey. In their fear they
did not even stay to open the treasury to take from it
the money that would be needed to help Pompey to carry
on the war.
Pompey meanwhile crossed the Adriatic Sea and reached
Epirus. He knew that in the East his name was still
powerful, and would draw many brave warriors to fight
And so it proved, for ere long the numbers of his army
were nearly doubled. But the warriors of the East,
even when they were brave, had neither the discipline
nor the experience of Cæsar's faithful legions.
Cæsar did not stay long in Rome, but after adding to
 his army many strong soldiers from Gaul and from
Germany, he went to Spain. Here he found that Pompey
had left officers to guard the Roman provinces, but he
forced them to withdraw and soon won over their troops.
Yet, although he was successful in this, the time he
spent in Spain was beset with difficulties. Often he
had not food enough for his army, while he himself was
in danger from ambushes and from plots that were made
by his enemies, to take his life.
After securing Spain, Cæsar went back to Rome, where
he was at once made Dictator. He only held the
position for eleven days, but during that time he used
his power to recall the exiles whom Sulla's cruelty had
driven away, and to restore to them, or to their
children, their privileges as citizens of Rome. He
also passed a law for the relief of debtors, which was
sure to please the people.
Then having resigned his Dictatorship and been elected
Consul, Cæsar hastened to Brundisium, where he had
commanded his troops to assemble.
Here he found that there were not nearly enough ships
to take his army across to Epirus. But no obstacle
could turn him from his purpose, which just then was to
pursue Pompey. So he determined to sail at once with
seven legions, leaving the others, under Mark Antony,
to follow as soon as a sufficient number of ships could
It was only with great difficulty that Cæsar, with his
seven legions, was able to land, for the coast of
Epirus was being closely watched by Pompey's fleet.
But by sailing to the south he eluded its vigilance,
and succeeded in landing at a town called Oricum.
Here, day after day, he watched for Mark Antony, with
the legions he had left behind. Months passed and
still he did not come. For after Cæsar had landed,
Pompey bade his fleet guard the coasts still more
closely, and Antony was afraid to set sail.
Cæsar, at length, determined that he would wait no
 longer. He would himself go back and bring his army to
Oricum. So he disguised himself as a slave, and hiring
a small boat was rowed away, although the sea was
covered with the ships of the enemy.
Not only his enemies, but Nature herself, threatened to
endanger the life of the great commander. For a storm
arose, and the wind blew more and more violently. The
current too was strong against the boat, and at length
the pilot, thinking that it was impossible to proceed,
ordered the rowers to return.
Then Cæsar went to the pilot, and taking his hand he
said, "Go on, my friend, and fear nothing. You carry
Cæsar and his fortune on your boat."
Cæsar! The name was as magic, and the sailors forgot
their fears, and once again they pulled their hardest
against waves and wind. But their efforts were vain,
while each moment the danger became greater.
When the boat began to fill with water, even Cæsar had
to yield, and bade the sailors pull for the shore.
As he reached the land, his soldiers, who had missed
him, eagerly helped him from the boat, and chid him for
risking his life so heedlessly.
Moreover, it seemed that their pride was hurt, for why,
they said, should he go into danger for the legions who
were at Brundisium? Could he not trust them to gain
the victories he desired?
With the spring, Antony and the legions at length
arrived, and Cæsar determined to force Pompey to fight
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics