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44 BC, The Roman Revolution, Fall of the Republic and the Rise of the Caesars

owedtojoy

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What did the Romans do for us?

July 44 BC, was the first month so named, 2,060 years ago this month, called after the Roman Dictator Julius Caesar, who had re-organised the Roman Calendar into 12 months of a year lasting 365 days. Caesar may have learned of a better calendar from Greek scientists while engaging in some war and sexual adventuring (with the teenage Queen Cleopatra) in Alexandria. He had gone in pursuit of his fallen enemy, Pompey, in the 5-year civil war just ended.

If you ever ask "What did the Romans do for us?", you can start with the calendar, for (except for some tweaking by Pope Gregory), it is the one we still use, and all the months still have more or less their Roman names.

Caesar did not live to see the month named after him, his birth month when he would have been 56, as he was assassinated in one of history's most famous murders, on the notorious Ides of March, of that year.

The murder of the Dictator (note: 'Dictator' was a Roman civil title granted by the Senate, with special powers to order the state, more about that later, so to the Romans it did not carry the sinister overtones we give it) turned out to be not the end of a story but a punctuation in a long century of sporadic and bloody wars, riots, executions and murders, starting (as the Romans themselves agreed) in 110 BC (10 years before Caesar's birth) with the murder of the Tribune Tiberius Gracchus, and ending only with the deaths of Caesar's lieutenant Mark Antony and his paramour Queen Cleopatra (Caesar's former lover) in 30 BC.

The "last man standing" turned out to be, against the odds in 44 BC, Julius Caesar's grand-nephew and adopted son, Gaius Octavius. Octavius who was only 19 in the year of his grand-uncle's death, took the name Gaius Julius Caesar (his adoptive father's full name), and later became the first Emperor with the title Augustus Caesar.

So what had happened was a Revolution, as we understand it. A massive state was restructured over an 80 year period, with enormous consequences, and peoples had to find a place in the New Order.

The Roman Republican Constitution

To the Greeks, the Roman Republic was an oligarchy because there was not direct democracy, but something closer to what we would call "representative democracy". Cicero called the Roman (unwritten) Constitution a "balanced constitution" because it had the monarchical, oligarchical and democratic elements within it, and our modern republics all begin more with Cicero than with Plato or any Greek. The orders of the state were

  • The magistrates, elected by the people were supposed to supply the monarchical element. These were consuls, praetors, quaestors and aediles. The two consuls were the premier leaders of what we would call the executive. The Romans did not recognise any difference between the political and military spheres, so consuls and praetors were army commanders as well, for which they would be given imperium by the Senate. Magistrates and ex-magistrates also acted as judges in court cases. Quaestors had financial duties, while aediles managed "the environment", and organised ceremonial games for the population.
  • The Senate was composed of ex-magistrates, and individuals chosen by other Senators - to become a magistrate, you needed to be wealthy in the first place both as a legal requirement, and to pay the enormous sums required to run a campaign. So the Senate was a gathering of the wealthy, and supplied the oligarchical element. It declared peace or war, made treaties, met and sent ambassadors, and discussed all matters relevant to the state, such as internal security. Surprisingly, it could not directly make laws but could only propose them for approval (or not) by the Popular Assembly.
  • The Popular Assembly (or properly Assemblies, for there were varieties split into tribes or centuries for different functions - elections or lawmaking) approved laws and elected magistrates. Romans of the Republican era understood very well that power derived from the people, but elections were attended by massive bribery, malfeasance and often violence. Two magistrates had the power to veto laws and to propose laws also - the official known as the Tribuni Plebis, the Tribunes of the Plebs. This was a remnant of an ancient struggle between aristocrats ("patricians" ) and people ("plebs") that had taken place after the Kings were banished from Rome. The distinction had become meaningless because by Caesar's time, there were wealthy plebeians in the Senate, and to be of a patrician family (as Caesar) was only a snobbish distinction. For example, it did not prevent his immediate family having only modest means. But the office of Tribune was an important and coveted office.

So what went wrong?


Rome at the time of Caesar's birth was pre-eminent throughout the Mediterranean world, mainly because it possessed the most efficient military machine of the ancient world. In the west, it had vanquished and destroyed Carthage. Carthaginian territories in Sicily, Africa, Sardinia,Corsica and Spain were now Roman. Southern Gaul (roughly modern Provence) was a Roman province. In the east, it had subdued the successor states of Alexander the Great's empire - Macedon was a Roman province, and the Near East to the Euphrates was either Roman provinces or dependent Greek dynasties, like the Seleucids in Syria, or the Ptolemies in Egypt.

The enormous accession of wealth to Rome, in plunder, taxes and slaves made Senators, their families and their dependants very rich indeed, but with less benefit to the poorer classes in Rome itself. Demobbed soldiers were of special need, because many returned from wars to find their small farms absorbed into larger holdings. Naturally, many gravitated to Rome itself, now with a population of possibly a million, a ramshackle densely populated urban centre that amazed Greeks with its ugliness.

Another outcome was the professionalisation of the Roman army. The army became a long-service institution rather than a force of short-term levies. Legions became loyal to their general, especially if he was victorious in long campaigns, rather than to the state. This led to the emergence of a series of "warlords". Most of the contenders for power we will deal with (including Caesar and his enemy Pompey) were such warlords.

The conflict used to be presented as a struggle between the "Senatorial" party and the "Popular" party, of which Caesar was supposed to be one. But this was more of a struggle among the oligarchs and factions of the Senate for control of the state. The Romans had no "political parties" - there were only individuals bound to struggle against each other for superiority. Being of the populares meant more a style of politics - having laws proposed by a Tribune and passed by the Popular Assembly, laws dividing up land for example, and giving it to Rome's poor and to ex-soldiers, or laws doling out free corn. Proposals for land reform had led to the murder of Tiberius Gracchus, and later his brother Gaius.

Opposed were a Senate faction who called themselves the boni ("the good men"), or optimates ("the best men"). These mistrusted passing laws directly through the Popular Assembly, often of course because it threatened the interests of their class, who owned much of Italy's best farmland. The most prominent in Caesar's time was Marcius Porcius Cato ("the Younger"). Cicero, or Marcus Tullius Cicero, a "new man" who had made his way to prominence without great inherited wealth, was of a neutral bent, fearing anyone who might seize control of the state, but guided above all by adherance to the law.

Indeed, the deadliest accusation against any prominent Roman was that he aimed as monarchy - it was a standard threat or insult thrown at every prominent person in Rome - not only Caesar, but Pompey as well, after he returned from the Middle East as a conquering hero. The deadly accusation had been made against Gracchus and used to justify his murder. And it was used against Caesar - with more justification. Much of the duality in the Roman constitution (the two consuls, for example) was designed to prevent dominance by a single man.

BTW, it had to be a man. Women had no vote, though they had more freedom than their Greek counterparts.

But being prominent and subject to accusations of "aiming at monarchy" was perilous - it could lead to trial, conviction and banishment or death, at the very least great indignity. It was to guard his position against such an eventuality that led Caesar to "cross the Rubicon" in 50 BC i.e. to lead his army into Italy and follow in the footsteps of Lucius Cornelius Sulla (q.v.).

The Main Events

While Caesar was a teenager, two generals called Sulla and Marius (who was Caesar's uncle) had struggled for control of the state. Lucius Cornelius Sulla had even led his army against Rome itself, and captured the city. Sulla, though like Caesar was from a somewhat obscure and not-very-wealthy patrician family, was of the Senatorial party, and limited the size of the Senate, and stripped the Tribunes of their power to propose laws.

Sulla had himself made Dictator (a special office, a sort of super-Consul, invoked only at times of national crisis), and ruled Rome for 2 years (82-81 BC), in a prefigurement of the Caesar and the Emperors. He then retired, and died in 78 BC. Many of his "reforms" were undone after his death.

His two most prominent lieutenants were Marcus Licinius Crassus, said to be the wealthiest man in Rome and the general who defeated the Spartacus revolt (73-71 BC), and Gnaeus Pompeius or "Pompey", a man who had used his personal wealth to raise an army in support of Sulla, and earned the nickname "Young Butcher" for his punishments to captured enemies.

In 61 BC, Pompey returned to Rome, having conducted a triumphant campaign in the Middle East that included the defeat of the remaining powers in the region, the end of the Seleucid kingdom, the creation of the Roman province of Syria, the siege and capture of Jerusalem and the installation of a client king in Egypt. Immediately, his settlement of the East and his goal of land grants to his soldiers was blocked by the boni faction, who feared he was aiming at political dominance. Pompey was also at odds with Crassus, and the two seemed to be natural political rivals.

Caesar was at that time a career politician who had held several offices, but had achieved nothing of note, other than to have had adulterous affairs with many other Senators' wives. But Caesar's political genius showed: he persuaded Pompey and Crassus to join with him in what was known as the First Triumvirate. Caesar become consul and with the alliance of willing tribunes passed Pompey's bills. Crassus's investments in tax-farming were protected.

Caesar got the Gallic provinces on both sides of the Alps (to the Romans, the Po Valley was Gallia Cisalpina, "Gaul on this side of the Alps", the South of France was Gallia Transalpina, "Gaul on the far side of the Alps"). Caesar proceeded to display an unexpected military genius, conquering Gaul in a 7-year campaign, suppressing a major uprising, raiding into Britain and across the Rhine, killing and enslaving over a million people, and finally paying off his massive debts.

Pompey stayed in Rome, governing Spain by proxy and maintaining an army there. Pompey (now named "Magnus" for his emulation of Alexander in the East) maintained a recognisably Imperial style - he engaged in a massive building programme, much as the later Emperors were to. When the Emperor Caligula was assassinated one-hundred years later, some Senators said it marked exactly a century since freedom died in the old Republic. They had a point, as most important decisions were made in private among the Triumvirs, rather than by open discussion.

Crassus, like Caesar searching for military glory and becomimg a warlord, went to Syria, but his army was annihilated by the Parthians in 53 BC at Carrhae (Haran, in modern Turkey), and he was killed. Then there were two.

Another bond between Caesar and Pompey snapped when Pompey's wife, Caesar's daughter Julia, died in childbirth. The marriage had been part of the Triumvirate "bonding", but by all accounts it was a happy marriage that came to a tragic end. Caesar tried hard to renew the link, offering his great-niece (Octavia, Octavius' sister, even though she was married to someone else!) but Pompey refused. Indeed, the two men never met again face-to-face. Caesar offered many times, but Pompey perhaps feared Caesar's personal charm and never agreed.

So the Triumvirate disintegrated. Cato and the boni faction now coalesced with Pompey, believing the growing power of Caesar to the be greater threat to the state, and the Magnus as its saviour. The call among the boni was for Caesar to be put on trial for alleged misdeeds in Gaul, like making war on Roman allies.

Caesar could not risk returning to Rome to such a fate, given the bribery and skulduggery prevalent in the Roman legal system. He wanted to return to a consulship, in which he would be immune from prosecution, and keep his army for as long as he could - pointing out Pompey had an army in Spain.

Negotiations were tortuous, but Cato and his followers were determined. The majority of the Senate would have opted for a peaceful resolution - at one point, the Senate voted by a large majority for both men to disband their armies, but the vote was ignored. Caesar had the support of the two Tribunes for 50 BC - two dissolute young men called Mark Antony and Gaius Scribonius Curio, but both men were forced to flee the city by armed gangs.

Caesar took precipitate action in that year by crossing the Rubicon, the river beyond which a provincial governor was forbidden to bring an army. He captured Rome and forced Pompey and Senators who opposed him to flee to Greece. Caesar took the war into Spain, defeating the Pompeian army there, then back to Greece. Pompey's strategic sense seems to have deserted him, for he passively awaited Caesar rather than carrying the war back into Italy as he had command of the sea. Perhaps he feared pitting his relatively untrained legions against Caesar's tough veterans, already the stuff of legends for their hardiness, discipline and fighting spirit.

After giving Caesar some difficult moments early in the campaign, and despite a two-to-one superiority, Pompey was completely defeated by Caesar at Pharsalus in Greece 48 BC. Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was murdered on his arrival. Caesar still had to campaign in Egypt, Asia Minor, Africa (Tunisia) and Spain before returning to Rome in 45 BC. He had annihilated his opposition - Pompey and the leaders of the boni were eliminated, Cato committed suicide in Africa, Pompey's son and Labienus (Caesar's most trusted lieutenant in Gaul, now his fiercest opponent) died after the last battle in Spain.

To the minor leaders, Caesar showed great clemency where Pompey and Sulla had not. But it was these who conspired against him - Marcus Brutus, nephew of Cato (and rumoured to be a son of Caesar from a long standing liaison), Cassius Longinus, but also some of Caesar's own followers like Marcus' cousin Decimus Brutus. These were the man who stabbed Caesar to death on the Ides of March.

What were Caesar's intentions? And After the Assassination

AT this point, Caesar decided to avenge Crassus and invade Parthia. Rumours abounded that he was going to march his army around the Black Sea, surpassing Alexander. Many historians take this to mean that he was tired of Rome's seemingly insuperable problems, and had no solutions.

Others see Caesar as a military and political genius who had realised the solutions to Rome's problems. He certainly addressed issues with unstoppable energy, dictating to secretaries three at a time. He had plans to settle his veterans in colonies around the Empire and for communities within Italy. But we do not know what his long term plans were. He had been made Dictator for life, a distinction without precedent, and possibly just wanted to continue on his exciting life.

He claimed to have invaded Italy not to further personal ambitions but to save his dignitas from humiliation. Dignitas to the Romans had connotations of honour, dignity and prestige. Perhaps he never had a long term plan to dominate Rome as he did, but he left an indelible blueprint for others to follow.

For his death solved nothing either. For a while a truce of sorts was in place - Caesar's laws were unchanged by the Senate, while there was an amnesty for the assassins. But the mistake of Brutus and the others was not to kill Antony and Octavius as well, at least Antony for Octavius was an unknown. The ambition of these two emerged to take the place of Caesar's, plus a thirst for vengeance.

Neither Brutus nor Cassius proved equal to the task of preventing the collapse of the Republic. It was past saving since Casear's victory. Both men set themselves up a warlords in turn, and engaged in warfare with the now-combined forces of Antony and Octavius (whom we will call Augustus, though it was years before he received this title). After their defeat at Phillipi in Greece, the way was clear for the final rivalry of Antony versus Augustus, and the showdown at Actium.

A neutral like Cicero suffered the fate of being too prominent in trying to re-assert the primacy of law in the turmoil after Caesar's death. He was the best representative of the old republican order, and try to rally a power between the warlords based on the consuls and the Senate, and against Antony. He was outmanoeuvred and betrayed by Augustus, who switched sides to make an alliance with Antony. Antony insisted that Cicero be executed and Augustus agreed. Cicero was beheaded and his head exposed in the Forum. It is said that Antony's wife Fulvia drove pins through the tongue of the great orator who had denounced her husband.

From The Caesars to Caesarism

The regime put in place by Augustus was a military dictatorship that took the form of a monarchy. It is said that Augustus spent half the imperial budget on the armed forces, a sum probably essential to defend the borders and keep internal order. However, some provinces were left virtually without garrisons, to be managed by the Senate. The others (the "Imperial" provinces) were governed by the Emperor, except for Egypt whose enormous wealth demanded a special Imperial Legate.

Military dictatorships are still common - for a while they were the norm in Latin America, and in the Middle East and Central Asia, the regimes of Dictators like Gaddafi or Saddam were of his sort. Other regimes like Assad or Putin are more refined versions - the regime still depends on the military and internal security apparatus.

Also familiar is the military leader who "fulfils" or "guards the benefits" of the Revolution "on behalf of the people", like Napoleon or Stalin.

So the story of the fall of the Roman Republic, even if it happened two-thousand years ago, is still close to us as an almost-contemporary event.

Just like the Russians and French after their respective revolutions, perhaps the people of Rome gladly acceded to an autocrat from sheer exhaustion. For while Rome continued to use the motto SPQR ("Senatus Populus Que Romanus") (The Senate and People of Rome), the Senate continued to partner the Emperors for centuries, supplying governors, advisers, legates, while it was the people who lost participation, or at least a free choice of their leaders. "Consent to be governed" was never asked so the state was unpinned by obedience acquiescence rather than by any enthusiasm.

Opposition to the Emperors usually came from ambitious army generals, and like any dictatorship the Roman Empire never solved the succession problem, or the succession-without-violence problem, which is perhaps democracy's greatest triumph. Indeed the Roman "monarchy" was perhaps one of the bloodiest in history, and had more civil wars between rival claimants than it had internal revolts of rebellious subjects.

What might have prevented the fall of the Republic?

A separation of military and political arms would have helped, and a stronger tradition of military non-interference in politics i.e. no warlords. Another might have been formal political parties like ours, in which strong individuals might have learned to channel their rivalries and make personal aggrandisement secondary to collective success.

Another might have been stronger institutional arms of the state - a judicial process with a Supreme Court as guardian of the laws and traditions of the state - being the collective memory of the state and people of how to resist tyranny. But the Romans did not even have a police force - the concept of a judicial-legal arm of the state to defend the ordinary citizen did not exist. In the Empire, the Praetorian Guard of the Emperors did run a sort of secret police, but that was not really for the benefit of the citizen. But we do owe to the Romans the concept of a rights-bearing citizen who was theoretically equal before the law to every other citizen.

The Roman Empire followed the theory of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan - the Emperor or Monarch was the Sovereign who had been ceded the right to keep order by citizens to prevent them warring with each other. That is the recipe for dictatorship with a truncated right to consent to be governed, or to change governments. For the Empire was run mainly in the interests of the rich oligarchy who dominated the Senate, and modern dictatorships are run on much the same lines. The fall of the Republic can seem very contemporary, and Caesarism is still a common phenomenon in the modern world.
 
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Lumpy Talbot

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Nice summary and we probably shouldn't forget we get one of the most telling and important phrases in modern politics from that era- 'bread and circuses'. Still very relevant today.

I agree that the development of the Republic and Demos seems more authentic from the Greek era than the Roman. I suspect the Roman model is what is most evident today.

Both Rome and Athens favoured an interesting piece of politics which seems to have fallen by the wayside unfortunately in our modern pale imitatatory systems- always been fascinated by the use of 'exile' to remove some threat bloodlessly from the state and I'd be inclined myself to favour its revival- again more on the Greek model than on the Roman.
 

Analyzer

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Tom Holland has a book on the age of the Ceasar dynasty for sale currently.

The era following the defeat of Hannibal is an era that I find fascinating. It is enormously educational.
 

Catalpast

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Heading into town today to get a book on Caesar's epic siege of Alesia in Gaul

Caesar was a military genius

- but a political failure

His nephew Octavian was a political genius

- but a mediocre commander

You could say between them they founded the greatest Empire the World has ever known
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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Nice post, owedtojoy. Deserves thorough Fisking.

Meanwhile, a quickie.

Julius Caesar caused the need to revise the calendar.

The Romans had a perfectly good method of keeping things in step: it just required "intercalation" (inserting a day every so often to compensate for the less-than-correct-360 day lunar-based year).

This "intercalation" could only be done by the Pontifex Maximus being in Rome, in February, to ordain the business. For the period of the Gallic War (58-51 BC) and the subsequent Civil War the Pontifex Maximus was otherwise engaged: he was, of course, said C. Iulius Cæsar.

The result was 46BC had to be extended to 445 days and January, Sextilis, and December got 31 days, and April, June, September and November got 30. By adding the extra day at the end of the month, that didn't interfere with the statutory festivals of Nones and Ides, and spread other festivals away from the previous Ides: it did cause a problem with April and Floralia, so the extra day then was put four days earlier (a.d. VI Kalendas Maias).

Caesar's adviser was one Sosignes. When I taught this stuff, largely to prevent having to correct "Feburay" in every subsequent school exercise, "Sausage-knees" became a passing favourite with Year Seven.

Even that didn't quite get things aligned, so in a leap year, the 24th February (the sixth day before the Kalends of March) counted twice in Leap Years.

Caesar's successor as Pontifex Maximus was nice-but-dim Lepidus, who again allowed things to slip. By 12BC Lepidus was dead, and Augustus was Lord High Everything Else, and had to further mess: he dropped the leap year for 5BC, 1BC and AD4 (why do I feel uncomfortable with that numbering in this context?) and "intercalation" was restored only in AD8 and subsequently.

If that's my anorak, I'll just take it on the way out.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Suspect most empires carry a hidden virus within them that actually contributes to their demise as it rises with the emergent power bloc and at a certain stage becomes a fatal flaw.

Perhaps in the days of Macedonia, then Greece, then Rome it was their destiny to expand until the very expansion created the conditions for a wholesale downfall.

Activity meets eventual entropy and entropy begats a negative energy. Thats about a broad a brush as I can find to apply.
 

Dame_Enda

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Catalpast will like this thread. As do I.
 

between the bridges

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Couple of points...

Caesar narrowly missed being proscribed by Sulla.

He had served in Asia and had a successful military campaign in Spain prior to Gaul.

Cicero was as power mad as any of them.
 

owedtojoy

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Nice post, owedtojoy. Deserves thorough Fisking.

Meanwhile, a quickie.

Julius Caesar caused the need to revise the calendar.

The Romans had a perfectly good method of keeping things in step: it just required "intercalation" (inserting a day every so often to compensate for the less-than-correct-360 day lunar-based year).

This "intercalation" could only be done by the Pontifex Maximus being in Rome, in February, to ordain the business. For the period of the Gallic War (58-51 BC) and the subsequent Civil War the Pontifex Maximus was otherwise engaged: he was, of course, said C. Iulius Cæsar.

The result was 46BC had to be extended to 445 days and January, Sextilis, and December got 31 days, and April, June, September and November got 30. By adding the extra day at the end of the month, that didn't interfere with the statutory festivals of Nones and Ides, and spread other festivals away from the previous Ides: it did cause a problem with April and Floralia, so the extra day then was put four days earlier (a.d. VI Kalendas Maias).

Caesar's adviser was one Sosignes. When I taught this stuff, largely to prevent having to correct "Feburay" in every subsequent school exercise, "Sausage-knees" became a passing favourite with Year Seven.

Even that didn't quite get things aligned, so in a leap year, the 24th February (the sixth day before the Kalends of March) counted twice in Leap Years.

Caesar's successor as Pontifex Maximus was nice-but-dim Lepidus, who again allowed things to slip. By 12BC Lepidus was dead, and Augustus was Lord High Everything Else, and had to further mess: he dropped the leap year for 5BC, 1BC and AD4 (why do I feel uncomfortable with that numbering in this context?) and "intercalation" was restored only in AD8 and subsequently.

If that's my anorak, I'll just take it on the way out.
From what I read, the Roman priests made a complete fu*ckup of their intercalations. Here is Suetonius, author of The Twelve Caesars, of which Julius was the first:

... turning his attention to the reorganisation of the state, he reformed the calendar, which the negligence of the pontiffs had long since so disordered, through their privilege of adding months or days at pleasure, that the harvest festivals did not come in summer nor those of the vintage in the autumn; and he adjusted the year to the sun's course by making it consist of three hundred and sixty-five days, abolishing the intercalary month, and adding one day every fourth year.

- C. Suetonius Tranquillis, The Life Of Julius Caesar, Ch XL

He did add a two months as a one-off to get the days and seasons to line up. The Roman year began in March, which means their July had been Quntilis ("Fifth Month"). August had been Sextilis. Explains why September through December are our Ninth to Twelfth months.

PS I like the theory that Caesar learned about this organisation of the calendar in Alexandria. It means he did more there than just get his hole and fight a couple of battles.

Stephen Saylors book The Triumph of Caesar, about his Roman detective Gordianus the Finder, hinges on the changes in the calendar.
 

owedtojoy

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Couple of points...

Caesar narrowly missed being proscribed by Sulla.

He had served in Asia and had a successful military campaign in Spain prior to Gaul.

Cicero was as power mad as any of them.
The first two are spot on. About the second, fighting troublesome hill-tribes was pretty run-of-the-mill for any Roman governor. I Caesar passed up his chance to get a triumph (a victorious march through Rome's streets) for that campaign. But for all we know a competent professional might have done it. No details survive.

About Cicero, I am not so sure. For example, during the Civil War he was a half-hearted adherent to Pompey and Cato, but returned to Italy and made his peace with Caesar after Pharsalus. His personal letters, many of which survive, are an invaluable resource for the period. But they show a man torn between competing camps with his heart in neither. If there was a "centre ground", Cicero was probably there, and that is why he got run over eventually.

Incidentally, the most influential Roman of that period today is probably Cicero - all out modern theorists of Republics and politics from Locke to Montesquieu to Madison were avid reads of Cicero and absorbed his account of a balanced constitution.

PS Robert Harris trilogy on Cicero Lustrum, Imperium and Dictator are great reads.
 

owedtojoy

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Respect,OP.
( and how could you upload such a long post?)
With some difficulty.

I wrote a bit every day, saved some of it in Word.

It is probably too long - but it was great therapy for the horrible news from Nice.
 

Catalpast

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The best military Life on Julius Caesar is:
Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier, And Tyrant

https://www.amazon.com/Julius-Caesar-Soldier-Tyrant-Paperback/dp/0306804220

As General Fuller writes, Caesar was "an unscrupulous demagogue whose one aim was power, and a general who could not only win brilliant victories but also commit dismal blunders.... It is reasonable to suspect that, at times, Caesar was not responsible for his actions, and toward the end of his life, not altogether sane."
 

owedtojoy

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Couple of points...

Caesar narrowly missed being proscribed by Sulla.

He had served in Asia and had a successful military campaign in Spain prior to Gaul.

Cicero was as power mad as any of them.
I can't resisit relating his gem.

I mentioned Robert Harris' trilogy on Cicero above ... they are narrated by a Greek slave of Cicero called Tiro, who really existed and is mentioned by Roman historians.

Tiro is said to have invented a method of shorthand, and according to tradition we owe to him the "invention" of the ampersand: &

The good news about Tiro is that he Cicero made him a free man, and he survived the (judicial) murder of his boss. He retired to a farm, and lived to the ripe old age of 99 in the peaceful reign of Augustus.
 

Catalpast

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The first two are spot on. About the second, fighting troublesome hill-tribes was pretty run-of-the-mill for any Roman governor. I Caesar passed up his chance to get a triumph (a victorious march through Rome's streets) for that campaign. But for all we know a competent professional might have done it. No details survive.

About Cicero, I am not so sure. For example, during the Civil War he was a half-hearted adherent to Pompey and Cato, but returned to Italy and made his peace with Caesar after Pharsalus. His personal letters, many of which survive, are an invaluable resource for the period. But they show a man torn between competing camps with his heart in neither. If there was a "centre ground", Cicero was probably there, and that is why he got run over eventually.

Incidentally, the most influential Roman of that period today is probably Cicero - all out modern theorists of Republics and politics from Locke to Montesquieu to Madison were avid reads of Cicero and absorbed his account of a balanced constitution.

PS Robert Harris trilogy on Cicero Lustrum, Imperium and Dictator are great reads.
Cicero's Letters are indeed a fascinating read

- clearly intellectual activity in the Roman World was at a very high level

Something that conversely never managed to convert itself into an industrial revolution

- the intellect was there

- but not the interest in the mechanical
 

owedtojoy

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The best military Life on Julius Caesar is:
Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier, And Tyrant

https://www.amazon.com/Julius-Caesar-Soldier-Tyrant-Paperback/dp/0306804220

As General Fuller writes, Caesar was "an unscrupulous demagogue whose one aim was power, and a general who could not only win brilliant victories but also commit dismal blunders.... It is reasonable to suspect that, at times, Caesar was not responsible for his actions, and toward the end of his life, not altogether sane."
Could be true ... there were signs of what might be megalomania, like being allowed to wear a laurel wreath at all times to hide his bald spot, and sporting red leather boots that had been word by his ancestors. Or just vanity? We are just not sure of his intentions

There are similar debates about Alexander the Great,

I find the Goldsworthy biography to be balanced

https://www.google.ie/?gws_rd=ssl#q=Adrian+Goldsworthy+Caesar
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Harris' trilogy on Cicero through the eyes of Tiro is a fascinating read alright and I would add a recommendation.
 

owedtojoy

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Cicero's Letters are indeed a fascinating read

- clearly intellectual activity in the Roman World was at a very high level

Something that conversely never managed to convert itself into an industrial revolution

- the intellect was there

- but not the interest in the mechanical
Rome and the cities of the Empire had public libraries, where subscribers could read the books.

The first public library in Rome was founded by Asinius Pollio, a soldier who fought with Caesar and wrote a history of the Civil War. Pollio actually crossed the Rubicon with Caesar, and it is a tragedy that his works are lost.

The Romans were advanced engineers - in some places, they did have large scale enterprises that resembled factories. Their difficulty was the lack of power sources, and the presence of slaves to handle all manner of tasks meant there was no great pressure to experiment.

The scorpion, a weapon that fired arrows by mechanical power rather than by human muscle, is a really impressive weapon. Caesar used these in Gaul as "field artillery".



Scorpio-Ballista
 

Catalpast

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Could be true ... there were signs of what might be megalomania, like being allowed to wear a laurel wreath at all times to hide his bald spot, and sporting red leather boots that had been word by his ancestors. Or just vanity? We are just not sure of his intentions

There are similar debates about Alexander the Great,

I find the Goldsworthy biography to be balanced

https://www.google.ie/?gws_rd=ssl#q=Adrian+Goldsworthy+Caesar
Read his 'How Rome Fell' which is excellent

But as I said above my next one is 'Alesia' by Osprey

- I am designing a war-game based on the battle on the Field of Glory site

Matrix Games - Field of Glory

- but it needs some fine tuning :D
 

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