Julius Caesar [Cliff notes to correcting common pop culture misconceptions]

Caesar was:

  • A great leader, the embodiment of what Rome wanted their politicians to be

    Votes: 5 25.0%
  • A flawed but justified leader

    Votes: 4 20.0%
  • I didn't read the thread, he was a power mad dictator right?

    Votes: 4 20.0%
  • None of the above

    Votes: 7 35.0%

  • Total voters
    20
Status
Closed

Caesarmagnus

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Jan 2015
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I think there's ample evidence from alternative points of view. Cicero for example was an avowed Caesar hater, but even he tells us how bent on war the Pompieans were, and the extent to which they were rejecting patently reasonable compromises. I genuinely ask; what more exactly could Caesar have done to avoid a war? It seems clear he wanted peace. Even pro-Caesarean writers, like Hirtius, were also pragmatists who were inherently conservative. After the war Hirtius didn't try to punish the supposed "Liberators", preferring compromises to try and avoid a catastrophic civil war, and his surviving work (the final segment of the Gallic Wars) is very favourable to Caesar (and sheds light of Labienus character hirtherto unknown, probably concealed by Caesar so it didn't reflect poorly on him). I just don't see the evidence of the Boni's fears as rational either. They had been totally unfounded to that point, and the guy wanted to run for consul then go fight another war overseas. Where is the harm to Rome from that? Remember, the Boni had been claiming Caesar was going to overthrow the state for over a decade by that point, and every time it didn't bear fruit. Did he use the armies he got after being Praetor and Consul to immediately overthrow the state? No. He used them to go fight Rome's enemies. All indications are he wanted to be consul, then go do that some more. It was the same career path of glory and generalling so many great Romans had followed (Pompey included). Even when he's forced into power, his actions are not indicative of a guy trying to wipe out opposition; he was pardoning enemies and appointing them to office so they would buy into everyone working together. I just don't see the characterization as accurate (especially not when their champion Pompey was the guy with the far more criminal career, who had subverted the state for personal gain repeatedly; if they can work with Pompey why not Caesar too? It seems personal enmity was the only issue here).
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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Well, I'm taking issue with Abraham's suggestion that Roman virtues (whatever they are) and Roman greatness went downhill post Republic. I don't see how that's necessarily true or accurate. It's a bold (and vague!) claim, me thinks..... perhaps he would care to explain?
Caesar Dictator fully destroyed the Republic. They tried for a very short period to restore the Republic but it was never the same again, never truly governed by the Senate and People, but by warlords (Triumvirate), eventually that led to more civil war, then a sole tyrant taking over.

Republic collapsed into civil war, with uncaring warlords doing whatever necessary for personal glory, damn the state. That's what Abraham and Cato and even Cicero lamented. Was it inevitable? Yes, republics don't last forever. Was it also caused by selfishness, ego, and other negative traits? Yes also.

In the Late Republic, check out the aristocratic obsession with fish ponds, the piscinae. Or the rise in popularity of the philosophies of Cynism or Epicureanism. Or how the education of the Roman elite was more Greek than traditional Roman. The ridiculousness of tax farming. The warmongering from Triumph hunting. The criminal exploitation of provinces purely for personal gain.

Regarding the last, Cicero said every They said in the Late Republic every governor of a pronvince needed to earn three fortunes in his year. One to pay of creditors for the costs of running for office, splendor during the aedile position, bribing voters, etc. The second fortune was reserve for more bribing, specifically the judge and Senatorial and Equestrian mixed juries of an extortion or treason charge brought against them by a political rival over legit crimes committed during the governorship. And the last fortune was to live for the rest of their lives.

How did they live? Cicero visited the country estate of the long dead Scipio Aemilianus, who at the time was wealthy. He remarked how tiny it was, barely a hovel, and how the bath was pitch black, because that was how Roman men bathed back then. They didn't do the gaudy baths of later, even the richest and most powerful lived frugally compared to those of the Late Republic.

And the drop in standards during the Principate was even worse. Need one be reminded of the excesses of the Julio Claudian emperors? You won't see a bunch of Senators in the 2nd Cent BC whoring their wives out for political favor.
 

Caesarmagnus

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Jan 2015
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Australia
I assume you’re talking about Cato when you allude to people whoring out their wives for political gain, right? Aggie, parsing through your wider criticisms with the republic, perhaps you can outline for me the steps Caesar could have taken from 58BC to ensure peace. I’m at a loss as to what more he could have done to be honest, but perhaps you can enlighten us.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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I assume you’re talking about Cato when you allude to people whoring out their wives for political gain, right? Aggie, parsing through your wider criticisms with the republic, perhaps you can outline for me the steps Caesar could have taken from 58BC to ensure peace. I’m at a loss as to what more he could have done to be honest, but perhaps you can enlighten us.
LOL, Cato the Younger whored his wife out by divorcing her? Her father is the one who married her to Hortensius. Cato the Younger was a rather repugnant and horrible person IMO, but at least get your story straight when you try to crap on him to defend a megalomaniac, tyrant who died thousands of years ago, who you obviously have idolize in a rather immature manner (considering how quick you are to insult others who don't agree with your personal and completely unsourced opinions about +2,000 year old scatterings of dust that used to be a man named Gaius Julius Caesar).

As for what could Caesar Dictator have done, let's see:

- He could have done what every other proconsular governor commanding an army did, and finished with his war and term as governor, turn the command of his army over to his replacement, or discharging it, as he was ordered by the state.
- He could have stayed in Gaul and not marched on Rome.
- He could just have capitulated and faced his day in court. At that point he was probably the richest and most popular individual in the country, after Pompeius Magnus. A loss trial was not a forgone conclusion, he was just completely unwilling to risk it, more so risk the embarrassment of it all.
- He could have fallen on his sword. This is my favorite. Its a very Roman thing to do, harkens back to the days of yore when Roman men acted first and foremost for the Senate and People of Rome, and not chiefly for their own glory. Especially considering how ethical it would have been, his early death would have prevented a brutal half decade long civil war and the total destruction of the Republic. How many tens of thousands of Roman citizens would have lived, had children, made lives for themselves? How many foreign lands would be spared the ravishes of campaigning armies doing whatever necessary to gain supplies and tactical advantage? Quite the body count for the tyrant's ego...

But none of that would make for entertaining and drama filled fictional novels, and make it extra hard to crush on a not-yet-dictator who kills himself before he conquers his own country.
 

Caesarmagnus

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Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
This post is far out there, even for you.

LOL, Cato the Younger whored his wife out by divorcing her? Her father is the one who married her to Hortensius. Cato the Younger was a rather repugnant and horrible person IMO, but at least get your story straight when you try to crap on him to defend a megalomaniac, tyrant who died thousands of years ago, who you obviously have idolize in a rather immature manner (considering how quick you are to insult others who don't agree with your personal and completely unsourced opinions about +2,000 year old scatterings of dust that used to be a man named Gaius Julius Caesar).
Cato divorced his 30 year old wife, after being approached by Hortensius about a marriage to his family in order to tie them together politically. Cato had to agree to all this, he wasn’t blindsided by Phillipus remarrying her, he agreed to the divorce for that purpose. So she could marry a 60 year old. Then after he died he remarried her. He basically pimped her out on loan to a political ally. I just assumed when you described people whoring out their wives that’s the kind of thing you were alluding to.

As for what could Caesar Dictator have done, let's see:
- He could have done what every other proconsular governor commanding an army did, and finished with his war and term as governor, turn the command of his army over to his replacement, or discharging it, as he was ordered by the state.
- He could have stayed in Gaul and not marched on Rome.
- He could just have capitulated and faced his day in court. At that point he was probably the richest and most popular individual in the country, after Pompeius Magnus. A loss trial was not a forgone conclusion, he was just completely unwilling to risk it, more so risk the embarrassment of it all.
- He could have fallen on his sword. This is my favorite. Its a very Roman thing to do, harkens back to the days of yore when Roman men acted first and foremost for the Senate and People of Rome, and not chiefly for their own glory. Especially considering how ethical it would have been, his early death would have prevented a brutal half decade long civil war and the total destruction of the Republic. How many tens of thousands of Roman citizens would have lived, had children, made lives for themselves? How many foreign lands would be spared the ravishes of campaigning armies doing whatever necessary to gain supplies and tactical advantage? Quite the body count for the tyrant's ego...

But none of that would make for entertaining and drama filled fictional novels, and make it extra hard to crush on a not-yet-dictator who kills himself before he conquers his own country.
You’d know this if you read my posts, or your history books, but:

1) Caesar’s term of office hadn’t expired. He was entitled to keep his armies until it did. The demand for him to give up his armies prior to this, without a Senate vote to back it, was illegal.
2) Caesar’s term of office never got to expire. He was in Gaul when he was illegally declared an enemy of the state. Again, I explained this and you’d know it if you read more about the subject.
3) You say he should have “gone to face his day in court”. Why would you do that when the people who want you to face your day in court just treated the legal process with contempt? What sort of fair trial are you likely to get? The sort of trial Milo got when Pompey flooded the court with soldiers?
4) To speak of a trial process is moot. They illegally declared him a public enemy while he was waiting in Gaul for his term to expire.

I kind of stopped taking you seriously when you suggested he just commit suicide to ensure peace. Pretty absurd stuff. A free society can’t demand human sacrifices.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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Aggie believe it or not I knew about the list of Roman consuls before you mentioned it, hence the 1 in 550 figure. It's not some obscure, arcane knowledge. It's common knowledge, but since that guy asked for it I provided it. Something else I provided him, that you apparently didn't read while skimming my post, was two books that say the same thing I do about Marius helping the rise of Caesar's family (hint; try clicking the links). It is not "fiction", it is a common view in academia. I could have kept googling for more sources and found more that say the same, I recommend you try it before making absurd claims about common knowledge being merely a work of fiction. If you read people's posts clearly in future, or you know some history books, you won't embarrass yourself with claims about how "I should be ashamed" or "you're making up stuff!" What's funnier about these claims, and what makes it impossible to take you seriously, is that this tangent started with you asking me to look the source up because you had read it yourself, but couldn't remember where, and you've moved from that to claiming it was an invention of mine. You've lost the plot. I also don't think you should be lecturing anyone on the niceties of Roman families in the late republic, given you thought Sulla being a patrician assured him of greatness (something that was categorically untrue). You clearly have a lot of holes in your knowledge of this period dude.
At least you provided a non-fiction source, and for that I thank you. With that, I can actually properly rip the trope you keep repeating to pieces, properly, with sources.

Both books you found and linked from your Google Search of "Marius Julia Marriage" repeat the same trope you do, not an uncommon one unfortunately (as I said, I have read it before, and its filled with errors and assumptions and outright falsehoods). Sadly, both authors also provide their narratives entirely without citing any sources with footnotes, in-text citations, or anything else (as you fail to do as well).

Let's start with the naive and foolish comparison that Freeman makes between the Julii Caesari, a relatively new branch of the Julii clan that only came to political office in Rome in the late 3rd Century BC as the following drama:

"Like financially embarrassed nobility of the Victorian era who had long ago sold the last of the family silverware, all the Julians had left by the late second century BC was their impeccable family name."

Utterly farse. Again, as I mentioned time and time again in this thread, and as you will continuously ignore (though I hope other readers might see the folly), despite ancient and modern biographers claiming that Caesar's family were poor, every generation since the late 3rd Cent BC had a male member of the different branches of the family in the Senate, with many of them rising to praetor (the second highest Roman magistrate position), and one being the consul (the highest). That is not a financially embarrassed family.
Furthermore, just to reinforce how stupid this is, one of the duties of the Censor was to dismiss any Senator found to be poor, and they did it commonly (which is how Sulla's family were ousted from power).

Furthermore, the book "Sulla: A Dictator Reconsidered" states that Marius was "extremely rich", which is identical to what you proposed earlier too. The problem with that is there is zero evidence to support that. In fact, and allow me to actually bother to cite a source, Marius' upbringing described by Plutarch as follows:

"Born of parents who were altogether obscure, poor people who lived by the labour of their own hands." - Plutarch, Life of Marius, 3.1

So there you have a source describing Marius' upbringing as poor. But even that is nonsense, because we know from other sources that Marius' family were actually of the Equestrian Order (Marius served in the cavalry during the Numantine War and then rose from there to become a contubernales of Scipio Aemilianus, and then from there running for office afterwards). To be in the Equestrian Order at that time meant a lot, in the whole of the Roman society of nearly 330-390,000 citizens, only 3,600 of the very highest (outside those individuals, not families, were members of the Senate) were of the Equites, so it was a big deal in terms of wealth and prestige. And Marius' family and the rest of his people had only gained Roman citizenship in 188 BC, two generations before Gaius Marius the seven time consul, which means his family is believed to have been one of the most powerful of Arpinum, something mentioned by Cicero I believe, whose own family were Marian rivals in Arpinum. While being the big fish in Arpinum wasn't that big of a deal for a Roman Senator, it was still far far far from poor.

So that proves Marius wasn't born rich, at least according to sources. But what about later on? Marius defeated Jugurtha in 105 BC, got rich off that between plunder and a bit from slaves (siege of Capsa being a likely windfall of cash), and then through the sale of slaves captured from the surviving Teutones and Cimbri in 102-1 BC (said to number in the hundreds of thousands), meaning Marius was filthy rich in later life. But that was years AFTER he married Julia. What about when he married her, lets see what Plutarch how to say about that:

"But when he returned to political life, he had neither wealth nor eloquence, with which the magnates of the time used to influence the people." - Life of Marius, 6.1 (describing Marius' return from Spain as a praetor, a few years before marrying Julia)

Need we really need to continue down this path?

But how could a New Man with no wealth marry into the Julii" someone might be thinking.

"Still, the very intensity of his assurance, his indefatigable labours, and his plain and simple way of living, won him a certain popularity among his fellow citizens, and his honours brought him increasing influence, so that he married into the illustrious family of the Caesars and became the husband of Julia, who was the aunt of that Caesar who in after times became greatest among the Romans, and in some degree, because of his relationship, made Marius his example, as I have stated in his Life" - Life of Marius, 6.2 (literally the next line right after Plutarch tells us that Marius wasn't rich)

(Caesarmagnus, that all took me a bit more than two minutes, but it was worth it)

And lastly, Telford comparing Caesar's family wealth and situation to Sulla's is silly. Of Marius and the Julii, Sulla was the only one that was poor and even then, only really legally such. We know enough about his upbringing and education that he wasn't raised as an actual poor person, but the way Roman law worked , because the wealth was not his, it belonged to others specifically his step mother and later his mistress, it meant that during a Census that Sulla was rated as poor, possibly even a member of the lowest order of Romans (which would explain him hanging around with the dregs of society, despite access to wealth). Overall, his youth and early adulthood put him in a position that allowed him to live a life without much in the way of want, but because the wealth did not belong to him he was not of a property class that would have allowed him to run for any office until he received the later inheritances from both women (under dubious circumstances). But of them all that were described as poor, he comes the closest.

There are too many tropes, made worse by pop culture history, that need to be crushed for the health of the history of ancient Rome. This thread is full of them.
 

Caesarmagnus

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Jan 2015
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Australia
Your wall of text above amounts to "I Aggie, a poster who didn't understand what being a patrician meant, know more about this period than 2 different notable historians". I don't agree. It's a minor side point, so I'm not going to get drawn into it too much in any event; the sources were for the other guy, not you, but they certainly show your claim I was making something up without sources was wrong (on the heels of your original claim, that you had also read the material and were familiar with it; your right hand literally isn't following the left one, but whatever's clever).
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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This post is far out there, even for you.
Cato divorced his 30 year old wife, after being approached by Hortensius about a marriage to his family in order to tie them together politically. Cato had to agree to all this, he wasn’t blindsided by Phillipus remarrying her, he agreed to the divorce for that purpose. So she could marry a 60 year old. Then after he died he re
married her. He basically pimped her out on loan to a political ally. I just assumed when you described people whoring out their wives that’s the kind of thing you were alluding to.

After he divorced her, HE DIDN'T CONTROL HER. She was the property of her paterfamilias, reverting back under control of her father, who was the one who married her to Hortensius.

When I said whoring, I literally meant whoring, where Senators gave their wives to the pleasure of various Emperors, most notable Caligula.

1) Caesar’s term of office hadn’t expired. He was entitled to keep his armies until it did. The demand for him to give up his armies prior to this, without a Senate vote to back it, was illegal.
Wrong. Caesar was not in Gaul on his own volition, he was the legally appointed proconsular provincial governor, and his time was running out. Which was why he marched on Rome. It was either disband/come home as a civilian with no troops, or fight a war. Cicero wrote that Pompey once said, "If Sulla could, why can't I?" That was why Caesar did what he did, because the precedent had unfortunately been made and Caesar had a loyal army so could do what he wanted with it.

Caesar wanted to extend his service as governor, but wasn't allowed, nor was he allowed to retain command of an army without a province (as Pompey had done when he had returned with an army after the Sertorius War).

2) Caesar’s term of office never got to expire. He was in Gaul when he was illegally declared an enemy of the state.
First, the Senate's actions weren't illegal, they had declared Senatus Consultum which made everything they did legal. Second, the whole point of Caesar marching on Rome and invading Italy when he did was because when the his term was over, he would be a privatus. Hence the point that his term of office was expiring.

Again, I explained this and you’d know it if you read more about the subject.
This is arrogant even for you. You know damn well I've read plenty about this. Remember who the one who is actually quoting ancient sources, and which one of us is

3) You say he should have “gone to face his day in court”. Why would you do that when the people who want you to face your day in court just treated the legal process with contempt? What sort of fair trial are you likely to get? The sort of trial Milo got when Pompey flooded the court with soldiers?
You asked me before what he could have done, I gave my answers. Just because you don't like the answers is no bother to me.

No one man is greater than the nation, and Caesar's ego (and your own) was not worth the downfall of the Republic. At worst he would have ended up as a rich exile, at best he would have bribed and talked his way out of the jam, just as countless other individuals had done.

4) To speak of a trial process is moot. They illegally declared him a public enemy while he was waiting in Gaul for his term to expire.
Because he had defied the Senate. He had been ordered by the highest authority, the very one that had given him the command of the army in the first place, to lay down his command. Caesar refused, an illegal act. He is not allowed to dictate to the Senate, he was a proconsul governor, and not above the rule of law. You want to talk illegal? Caesar blowing them off is illegal. What are they supposed to do when a governor formally flips them the bird?

I kind of stopped taking you seriously when you suggested he just commit suicide to ensure peace. Pretty absurd stuff. A free society can’t demand human sacrifices.
I didn't say demand or be forced. Romans committed suicide constantly, Senators especially, it was a major custom. They did so often when their honor was called into question. Caesar killing himself would have ended the situation with Caesar keeping his honor (going out like a real man), while also quelling a civil war.

You don't like it because you have a man crush on a long dead tyrant. That was apparent years ago when you signed up and have done little besides defend Caesar, to include starting this thread with the ridiculous choices for your survey (which you lost, BTW). But to me Caesar isn't a god, he's just a mortal man with a giant ego. So if he falls on his sword, so the hell what?
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
After he divorced her, HE DIDN'T CONTROL HER. She was the property of her paterfamilias, reverting back under control of her father, who was the one who married her to Hortensius.

As I explained, this requires wilful blindness to believe. She was in Cato’s authority, not her fathers, while she was his wife. This 60 yr old comes up and says “hey, how bout I marry into your family? This match is no good? Ok, how about I take your wife?”, and you divorce her for that purpose, then the moral responsibility is yours; you can’t absolve him of the agency in the decision because he divorced her, he divorced her to ensure that outcome. He basically told her “I want you to be this guy’s wife, and once he’s dead I’ll take you back I guess”.

Wrong. Caesar was not in Gaul on his own volition, he was the legally appointed proconsular provincial governor, and his time was running out. Which was why he marched on Rome. It was either disband/come home as a civilian with no troops, or fight a war. Cicero wrote that Pompey once said, "If Sulla could, why can't I?" That was why Caesar did what he did, because the precedent had unfortunately been made and Caesar had a loyal army so could do what he wanted with it.
You are either not reading my posts, or are incapable of understanding them. Caesar was still legally a governor with his imperium. His time was indeed running out, and he was having his many supporters try and influence matters to avoid a prosecution through legal means... then his opponents decided “screw the law” and started doing a bunch of illegal stuff, from ignoring the 370-22 Senate vote in favour of Caesar not having to give up his command until Pompey did, to illegally conveying command on Pompey and having him start recruiting minus legal authority to do so. The last of the illegal things they did was to ignore the legal veto of the tribunes, who opposed passing the Senatus Consultum Ultimum, and physically kick them out of the Senate. Caesar had been trying to play by the rules, the other side wasn’t willing to. You need to educate yourself on the facts dude.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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Your wall of text above amounts to "I Aggie, a poster who didn't understand what being a patrician meant, know more about this period than 2 different notable historians". I don't agree. It's a minor side point, so I'm not going to get drawn into it too much in any event; the sources were for the other guy, not you, but they certainly show your claim I was making something up without sources was wrong (on the heels of your original claim, that you had also read the material and were familiar with it; your right hand literally isn't following the left one, but whatever's clever).
Wow, you're rude. But this isn't new, you've always been rude. And full of falsehoods. You dare accuse me of not knowing what a patrician is?

I remember debating you years ago about something relating to patricians, so I searched Historum for it, and found quite a few old discussions you and I have participated in.

Link to Source

In the thread when you ranted that Philip II was raised to be a king, and then proved you didn't know what "noble" meant in the context of Rome. Wow...

Link to other source

I then found another thread where you didn't know quaestor had lictors. That's not that impressive...

and another source

Here is where you told Historum about how Marius invented a "breaks on impact spear" (it was a pilum, not a hasta), and was the first to start "mass recruiting among the lowest classes", which is off by a century because Polybius and Livy both state it happened extensively during the 2nd Punic War, with the poor, and even including an entire legion of slaves, to be given their freedom AFTER they proved themselves in battle.

"I haven't been wrong about a single thing I've said." - Caesarmagnus, Dec 30, 2016, upon declaring something wrong

You sure about this quote? And have you been wrong about anything since then?

Its okay to say yes, especially since anyone with half a knowledge of this subject knows the answer to that already.
 
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