Questor Julius Caesar in the Hispania 69-68-67BC (!)


Ad Honorem
May 2016
Julius Caesar is probably one of the Roman characters more studied in history. But the period that he was in the Iberian Peninsula as Questor, before his bigger days, is almost always forgotten, probably due the scarcity of sources.

I would like to request the help of the Forum to gather information, and post it here, about his life and actions in this specific period, as a Questor in this area, both primary sources, as secondary (maybe some passages from his most known biographers).


Forum Staff
Oct 2011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Actually that period of the life of Caesar remains in the background. On history books, in Italy, we read that it was a useful step for his career. He was Questor under Antistio Vero for not a long time, but this allowed him to join the Senate.

Svetonius [1,7 De Vita Caesarum] tells us something about his judiciary activity in Spain

Quaestori ulterior Hispania obvenit;
ubi cum mandatu praetoris iure dicundo conventus circumiret Gadisque
venisset, animadversa apud Herculis templum Magni Alexandri imagine
ingemuit et quasi pertaesus ignaviam suam, quod nihil dum a se memorabile
actum esset in aetate, qua iam Alexander orbem terrarum subegisset,
missionem continuo efflagitavit ad captandas quam primum maiorum
rerum occasiones in urbe.
He became Questor of Ulterior Hispania.
Under the mandate of the Pretor he went to the places of assembly to administrate justice, until he arrived at Cadiz, where, seeing the statue of Alexandre the Great, near Heracle's temple, he cried, almost feeling the shame of his ineptitude. In fact, he thought he had did nothing memorable, at the age when Alexander had already conquered the world. So he required an office in Rome to have the occasion to record great deeds.
Oct 2015
Plutarch (Caes 5,6) is even more brief...

"After the funeral of his wife he went to Spain as quaestor to one of the praetors, called Vetus.(C Antistius Vetus pr 70BCE pro-praetor in further Spain 69BCE) He always had the greatest respect for Vetus and gave his son the appointment of quaestor under him when he, in his turn, became praetor."(62BCE, pro-praetor in further Spain 61BCE).

As is Vellius Paterculus (2.43)

"..and to his praetorship and quaestorship passed in Spain in which he showed wonderful energy and valor."

The Julii apparently maintained their friendship with the Antistii, as the son, or grandson(?) of Vetus was consul suffectus in 30BCE, and HIS son campaigned with Augustus in Spain, became a pontifex, and was consul in 6BC.
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Oct 2015
Belatedly(!!) There is a little more detail on Caesars campaign in Lusitania (61BCE) in Cassius Dio XXXVII.52-53. The quote from T A Dodge in the thread on the battle of the Ebro is derived from this passage, though Major Dodge distained footnotes.

Appian (II.8) is very brief, only saying he ignored judicial and administrative duties, reduced Lusitania, sent money to the treasury and was awarded a triumph.
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Oct 2015
Another interesting gap in the career of Caesar is his role in the slave war of 73-71 BCE. Suetonius (Caes 5) and Plutarch (Caes 5,1) say he was elected Military Tribune for 72 BCE (possibly 71).The 24 elected Military Tribunes were usually assigned to the four legions commanded by the years consuls, and both the consuls of 72 (L Gellius & Cn Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus) were defeated by Spartacus. In any case, Caesar must have served in Crassus campaign of 71 as Military Tribune or in some other capacity. The sources, however are silent.