Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Plutarch
Editor: John D. Cox
Not Peer Reviewed

Life of Caesar


XXXII. Now at that time Caesar had not in all about him above five thousand footmen and three thousand horsemen: for the rest of his army he left on the other side of the mountains, to be brought after him by his lieutenants. So, considering that, for the execution of his enterprise, he should not need so many men of war at the first but rather, suddenly stealing upon them, to make them afraid with valiantness, taking benefit of the opportunity of time; because he should more easily make his enemies afraid of him coming so suddenly when they looked not for him, than he should otherwise distress them, assailing them with his whole army, in giving them leisure to provide further for him: he commanded his captains and lieutenants to go before, without any other armor than their swords, to take the city of Ariminum (a great city of Gaul, being the first city men come to, when they come out of Gaul) with as little bloodshed and tumult as they could possible. Then, committing that force and army he had with him unto Hortensius, one of his friends, he remained a whole day together, openly in the sight of every man, to see the sword-players handle their weapons before him At night he went into his lodging, and, bathing his body a little, came afterwards into the hall amongst them, and made merry a while with them whom he had bidden to supper. Then, when it was well forward night, and very dark, he rose from the table, and prayed his company to be merry, and no man to stir, for he would straight come to them again: howbeit he had secretly before commanded a few of his trustiest friends to follow him; not altogether, but some one way, and some another way. He himself in the mean time took a coach he had hired, and made as though he would have gone some other way at the first, but suddenly he turned back again towards the city of Ariminum.

Caesar's doubtful thoughts at the river of Rubicon.

When he was come unto the little river of Rubicon, which divided Gaul on this side the Alps from Italy, he stayed upon a sudden. For, the nearer he came to execute his purpose, the more remorse he had in his conscience, to think what an enterprise he took in hand: and his thoughts also fell out more doubtful, when he entered into consideration of the desperateness of his attempt. So he fell into many thoughts with himself, and spake never a word, waving sometime one way, sometime another way, and oftentimes changed his determination, contrary to himself. So did he talk much also with his friends he had with him, amongst whom was Asinius Pollio, telling him what mischiefs the beginning of this passage over that river would breed in the world, and how much their posterity, and they that lived after them, would speak of it in time to come. But at length, casting from him with a noble courage all those perilous thoughts to come, and speaking these words. which valiant men commonly say, that attempt dangerous and desperate enterprises : "A man can be but once undone; come on," he passed over the river; and when he was come over, he ran with his coach and never stayed, so that before daylight he was within the city of Ariminum, and took it ... ....

Caesar took the city of Ariminum.