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years sped by, — while Cæsar passed the Rubicon, fought out his struggle for power at Rome, and subdued Egypt, Pontus, and Northern Africa, — and all the time the brave Gaul remained closely watched and guarded, and with no hope of seeing the jagged peaks and wild valleys of his own beautiful Auvergne. For well did he, like every other marked foe of Rome, know for what he was reserved, and no doubt he yielded himself in the full expectation of that fate which many a man, as brave as he, had escaped by self-destruction.
The day came at last. In July, B. C. 45, the victorious Cæsar had leisure to celebrate his victories in four grand triumphs, all in one month, and that in honor of the conquest of Gaul came the first. The triumphal gate of Rome was thrown wide open, every house was decked with hangings of silk and tapestry, the household images of every family, dressed with fresh flowers, were placed in their porches, those of the gods stood on the steps of the temples, and in marched the procession, the magistrates first in their robes of office, and then the trumpeters. Next came the tokens of the victory, - figures of the supposed gods of the two great rivers, Rhine and Rhone, and even of the captive Ocean, made in gold, were carried along, with pictures framed in citron wood, showing the scenes of the victory,
the wild waste of the Cevennes, the steep peaks of Auvergne, the mighty camp of Alesia; nay, there too would be the white cliffs of Dover, and the struggle with the Britons on the beach. Models in wood and ivory showed the fortifications of Avaricum, and of many another city; and here too were carried specimens of the olives and vines, and other curious plants of the newly won land ; here was the breastplate of British pearls that Cæsar dedicated to Venus. A band of fluteplayers followed, and then came the white oxen that were to be sacrificed, their horns gilded and flowers hung round them, the sacrificing priests with wreathed heads marching with them. Specimens of bears and wolves from the woods and mountains came next in order, and after them waved for the last time the national ensigns of the many tribes of Gaul. Once more Vercingetorix and Vergosillaunus saw their own Arvernian standard, and marched behind it with the noblest of their clan ; once more they wore their native dress and well-tried armor. But chains were on their hands and feet, and the men who had fought so long and well for freedom, were the captive gazing-stock of Rome. Long, long was the line of chained Gauls of every tribe, before the four white horses appeared, all abreast, drawing the gilded car, in which stood a slight form in a purple robe, with the bald head and narrow temples encircled with a wreath of bay, the thin cheeks tinted with vermilion, the eager acquiline face and narrow lips gravely composed to Roman dignity, and the quick eye searching out what impression the display was making on the people. Over his head a slave held a golden crown, but whispered, “Remember that thou too art a man.” And in following that old custom, how little did the victor know that, bay-crowned like himself, there followed close behind, in one of the chariots of the officers, the man whose dagger-thrust would, two years later, be answered by his dying word of reproach ! The horsemen of the army followed, and then the legions, every spear wreathed, every head crowned with bay, so that an evergreen grove might have seemed marching through the Roman streets, but for the war-songs, and the wild jests, and ribald ballads that custom allowed the soldiers to shout out, often in pretended mockery of their own victorious general, the Imperator.
The victor climbed the Capitol steps, and laid his wreath of bay on Jupiter's knees, the white oxen were sacrificed, and the feast began by torchlight. Where was the vanquished ? He was led to the dark prison vault in the side of the Capitoline hill, and there one sharp sword-thrust ended the gallant life and long captivity.
It was no special cruelty in Julius Cæsar. Every Roman triumph was stained by the slaughter of the most distinguished captives, after the degradation of walking in chains had been undergone. He had spirit to appreciatė Vercingetorix, but had not nobleness to spare him from the ordinary fate. Yet we may doubt which, in true moral greatness, was the superior in that hour of triumph, the conqueror who trod down all that he might minister to his own glory, or the conquered, who, when no resistance had availed, had voluntarily confronted shame and death in hopes to win pardon and safety for his comrades.
THEN a monarch's power is unchecked by his
people, there is only One to whom he believes himself accountable; and if he have forgotten the dagger of Damocles, or if he be too high-spirited to regard it, then that Higher One alone can restrain his actions. And there have been tin when princes have so broken the bounds of right, that no hope remains of recalling them to their duty save by the voice of the ministers of God upon Earth. But as these ministers bear no charmed life, and are subjects themselves of the prince, such rebukes have been given at the utmost risk of liberty and life.
Thus it was that though Nathan, unharmed, showed David his sin, and Elijah, the wondrous prophet of Gilead, was protected from Jezebel's fury, when he denounced her and her husband Ahab for the idolatry of Baal and the murder of Naboth ; yet no Divine hand interposed to shield Zachariah, the son of Jehoiada, the high-priest, when he rebuked the apostasy of his cousin, Jehoash, King of Judah, and was stoned to death by the ungrateful king's command in that very temple court where Jehoiada and his armed Levites had encountered the savage usurping Athaliah, and won back the kingdom for the child Jehoash. And when, “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” St. John the Baptist denounced the sin of Herod Antipas in marrying his brother Philip's wife, he bore the consequences to the utmost, when thrown into prison and then beheaded to gratify the rage of the vindictive woman.
Since Scripture Saints in the age of miracles were not always shielded from the wrath of kings, Christian bishops could expect no special interposition in their favor, when they stood forth to stop the way of the sovereign's passions, and to proclaim that the cause of mercy, purity, and truth is the cause of God.
The first of these Christian bishops was Ambrose, the sainted prelate of Milan. It was indeed a Christian Emperor whom he opposed, no other than the great Theodosius, but it was a new and unheard of thing for any voice to rebuke an Emperor of Rome, and Theodosius had proved himself a man of violent passions.
The fourth century was a time when races and all sorts of shows were the fashion, nay, literally the rage ; for furious quarrels used to arise among the spectators who took the part of one or other of the competitors, and would call themselves after their colors, the Blues or the Greens. A favorite chariotdriver, who had excelled in these races at Thessalonica, was thrown into prison for some misdemeanor by Botheric, the Governor of Illyria, and his absence so enraged the Thessalonican mob, that they rose in tumult, and demanded his restoration. On being refused, they threw such a hail of stones that the governor himself and some of his officers were slain.
Theodosius might well be displeased, but his rage passed all bounds. He was at Milan at the time, and at first Ambrose so worked on his feelings as