What was the impact of Julius Caesar’s murder?
The late Republic is one of the most fascinating periods of history you can study, not least because the sources are so rich (albeit largely written by a bunch of self-aggrandizing aristocrats or their lackeys). But Caesar was largely a symptom of its decline and everyone can choose the seeds of destruction according to their tastes. Was it the First Slave Revolt, the Gracchi, the Social War, Marius, Sulla, the triumvirate, the optimates? Was it the lack of a common enemy after the sacks of Carthage and Corinth? Was it the unresolved tensions left over from the Conflict of Orders? Probably all of them, and you're just left to marvel, as Polybius did, that the Romans had a system that held the competing tensions in some sort of balance for as long as it did.
The angle I've most enjoyed lately is applying the framework from Robin Markwica's "Logic of Affect" to many of the figures in the build up to the civil war. Erich Gruen's "The Last Generation of the Roman Republic" is also very interesting, in that he portrays most Republican institutions (and even Caesar and Pompey's relationship) functioning quite well fairly late on. The entire standoff seemed so unnecessary and avoidable, but there's too much power and prestige at stake by the end for anybody to budge. Were I to point the finger at one man it would be Cato the Younger, but as I say, it's all personal taste at this point.
> the competing tensions in some sort of balance
This is such a crucial aspect to stability through the ages. Any system of government that depends on an unbroken succession of angels is bound to fail sooner rather than later, and much sooner than anyone thinks; so systems must be designed with the assumption that power-hungry, egocentric maniacs will be in charge, and pit them against each other in a contained manner. "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition."
But the main reason was slave work that enabled the obscene accumulation of wealth in the hands of so few.
Exactly what is happening today with slave wage, acces to AI/automation, discretionary not applying laws(labor laws?) for some players, massive tax evasion schemes for the 1%, printing money discretionary for the 1%, monopolies on comerce, state monopoly on comerce via tight monetary controls(China), treating homes as "investments", control of the media.
This time around it will be different though.
Cato the younger for forcing Caesar to cross the Rubicon?
Yes. By refusing to come to an entirely reasonable settlement which allowed Caesar to return from Gaul peacefully and without being prosecuted. By working tirelessly to put a wedge between Pompey and Caesar.
> has a long tradition of not prosecuting former Presidents
Has this ever been tested often?
The President generally has a lot of legal immunity and latitude.
I don’t think that’s “tradition” where people choose not to prosecute the president, it’s just the law. Exceed that and every president is potentially at risk…
> Has this ever been tested often?
Nixon comes to mind immediately. He was formally pardoned just to make sure he wasn't prosecuted.
Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were impeached (though not removed from office), but were never prosecuted for the (alleged) crimes that led to impeachment.
The Harding administration was notoriously corrupt, and he would almost certainly have been impeached had he not died in office.
Reagan was accused of violating the law in the Iran-Contra affair, but was never prosecuted.
There are undoubtedly other examples that aren't coming to mind immediately, but yeah, I'd say the principle has been fairly well tested.
To turn it around, no former President has ever been prosecuted after leaving office, to my knowledge, and it wasn't because none of them committed crimes.
I’ve heard of those, but I haven’t heard of the rule.
> I haven’t heard of the rule.
Nobody said anything about a rule. The comment you initially responded mentioned a tradition. Those are two different things.
A tradition is where people were doing (or not doing, as in this case) something in the past, long enough and consistently enough that it become recognised as a thing.
I haven’t heard of this tradition.
During the 2016 campaign, one of the norms Trump was criticized, for breaking by both left and right was the norm that you don't prosecute your political opponents. Specifically this was in the context of his campaign promise to "lock her up" ("her" being his opponent Hillary Clinton), a promise he didn't bother trying to keep while he was in office.
I don’t know that I agree with the whole narrative.
Nixon was pardoned, but the reason is that Nixon they were worried local and federal officials could act. I feel like that situation has it both ways. No tradition was protecting him so Ford acted.
Trump not prosecuting Clinton seems like it could just as easily be because they didn’t think they could get a conviction and frankly Trumps opinion on legal matters seems pretty random. I’m not sure that was out of any principle.
That’s almost certainly the case with Regan…I don’t know how you convict him.
I also don’t buy into this meaning the tradition would be absolute. If it was wouldn’t that encourage the worst behavior?
he said "former president" and you are saying "president". not the same thing.
the important difference is that the president has a lot of power while in office, pardon power, and many immunities. If a president is "corrupt", their power is great, their prosecution will be very difficult, but there is a reason to want to stop them.
A former president has lost those powers and immunities, and in the same sense is also "no longer a threat", so in most cases it's not "necessary" to take legal steps to stop them from further crimes or transgressions.
And in both cases, the due to the nature of politics, there is a desire to avoid feeding the political hunger for revenge thru malicious prosecution. Both sides have found it in their interest to let the wounded political warriors retire from the field, and focus the fight to those remaining.
Just a typo on my part.
Some mental gymnastics. Not to mention off-topic flamebait.
No former President has ever been prosecuted for crimes committed in office either during or after leaving office, even in cases where they quite clearly did commit crimes.
That is neither "mental gymnastics" nor "off-topic flamebait". It is simply a fact.
> This is the primary reason the United States has a long tradition of not prosecuting former Presidents, even ones that were provably guilty of crimes.
There is no such tradition. In 222 years no former U.S. President has committed any crimes.
> In 222 years no former U.S. President has committed any crimes.
If it is so, then why did Gerald Ford grant a full and unconditional pardon to Richard Nixon for any crimes that he might have committed against the United States as president? 
It seems to imply that at least someone thought Nixon might have committed some crime.
If Nixon committed any crimes it was while he was president. Please understand the difference between a sitting president and a former president.
Not for nothing, Nixon was never charged with a crime. A pardon is a forgiveness. What was Nixon pardoned for, exactly? Who knows!
I would very much like to see the pardon powers be limited by extending it. You should never be able to commute any one person’s sentence or pardon any one person.
It should be all or nothing.
Want to pardon someone who has been convicted for lying to a federal agent? You must pardon everyone currently serving a sentence for lying to a federal agent. No exceptions.
Also the whole idea of pardoning someone who has not even been charged with a crime, let alone convicted is just morally bankrupt. I was not born yet back then but I’m glad that Ford lost the POTUS election after such blatant corruption.
> There is no such tradition. In 222 years no former U.S. President has committed any crimes.
This is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence.
For me one of the most interesting hypotheticals is that at the time of his death Julius was preparing for an invasion of Parthia.
Crassus had failed before him and Marc Antony would fail after him, and that probably contributed in o his fall as much as anything. Augustus saw these lessons and wisely decided not to risk an invasion of Parthia and instead reached a negotiated settlement.
It would be about 150 years before Trajan lead a successful invasion of Parthia.
With regards to Julius, Alexander was his idol, and I am sure he would have loved to emulate him in conquering the lands of the Persian Empire (now ruled by Parthia). Julius was also one of the great generals of history and it would have been interesting to see how it would have gone.
A Roman Empire extending East into the heartland of the old Persian Empire would have been interesting. It might have led to actual direct contact between the Roman and Chinese Han courts.
I don't see any viable way for Julius Caesar to succeed in Parthia. Compared to the Gauls, Parthia was far more politically cohesive, had better trained and equipped soldiers, and presented more logistical difficulties (Antony benefited a lot from having Cleopatra's support and still failed). Fighting a long and grueling war like that so far away from Rome would have meant leaving his domestic political situation in the hands of his allies -- and he didn't really have anybody capable he could trust to do that.
Parthia did have a weakness in that the Parthians were seen as interlopers by the Persians whom they ruled over. The Sassanians who followed them were far more unified as they were actually Persian and able to claim the heritage of the Achaemenids(the Persian Empire of Cyrus, Darius, etc).
In addition, the Parthian capitals were fairly far West. Trajan was able able to successfully invade Parthia.
My guess would be that Julius was a good enough general to successfully invade Parthia, like Trajan and extract some concessions.
The big question is if he could have actually conquered Persia. This is one instance where the centralization of Persia may have been able to play into his hands. If you look at Alexander’s conquest after a few decisive victories in pitched battles, he was able to conquer Persia. Same with the later Muslim conquest of Persia, where decisive pitched battles delivered large chunks of Persian territories to the Muslims.
So while definitely not easy, I don’t think it was impossible, and Julius was one of the greatest generals of Antiquity, so it certainly would have been interesting to see if he could have done it.
The Roman general Ventidius defeated the Parthians and could have possibly invaded Parthian territory, but chose not to. Probably done to not outshine his boss Marc Antony. Caesar was still a good military leader at the time, but was 60 years old at this point. He also was planning to punish the Dacians on the way over. The Dacian's would be a persistent problem for the Roman's until their eventual conquest by the Emperor Trajan over 150 years later.
For me the person that had changed the fate of Europe is Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer. Never heard of him?
Well Julius Cesar was supposed to receive command of Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum. And his plan for winning glory (and money) was provoking a war and conquering in North East direction - Balkans and perhaps with his usual impetus toward Central Europe, perhaps as far as today's Ukraine.
But a person that have been nominated for Transalpine Gaul command Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer had died unexpectedly and his imperium have been passed to Julius Cesar.
Now imagine that Julius Cesar and his legions had conquered Central and Eastern Europe while Western Europe had been left alone. And Augustus and further Cesars will continue in this direction.
Caesar wanted to do a lap around the Black Sea after defeating the Parthians and work his way home through what was then Sythia.
Depending on how far they got, and there's more than a good chance that the Parthians may have destroyed any army sent against them. If not, then the Romans would have had to face the steppe horse archers a few hundred years earlier than otherwise. And that would never be easy.
Re: Rome and Han China. This channel is great, and they have a video about the first-hand accounts of meetings between the East and the West https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO3senO4JZ0
In this alternate timeline would Augustus still take over?
Without Augustus as the first emperor who knows if Rome would have lasted nearly as long as it did
His plan was to recreate Alexander’s invasion of the Indus.
He would have failed.
> [Cæsar’s] plan was to recreate Alexander’s invasion of the Indus
“Cleopatra: A Life” by Stacy Schiff.
> The murder of Caesar marked the beginning of a long and protracted civil war
I don't see how you can look at the events leading up to the murder of Julius Caesar as anything but a civil war. He literally led roman armies into battle against roman armies controlled by opposing political interests.
> The death of Caesar did not provoke the end of the Republic
The amount of political power concentrated in the single dictator-for-life changed dramatically after this. If you want to call a system in which one person has dictatorial power a republic because they will lose that dictatorial power via assassination or revolt if they are awful enough at their job for long enough (e.g. Nero) then basically anything is a republic.
Long and protracted is possibly the salient phrase. Julius Caesar's civil war with Pompey was neither long nor protracted and never actually involved the populus of Italy, let alone Rome.
Pompey abandoned Italy effectively as soon as Caesar entered Italy. Pompey's Macedonian strategy ultimately failed as soon as it was contested. Sure, there were the Spanish interludes, but beyond the Senate's abdication of Italy, Caesar was extremely forgiving to his opponents, the institutions of the Republic continued, and ultimately the struggles never reached Italy proper until after his death.
So I can definitely see why the author might emphasize the continued violence of the second Triumvirate ahead of the breaking up of the first.
The institutions continued. The institutions continued under Augustus, too. But that's like saying that China and Venezuela are democracies because they have elections.
The Roman Republic was dead when Caesar won the civil war. The trappings remained, but the Republic was dead. (Seriously, could the people - or even the Senate - have voted Julius Caesar out? No, Caesar was there because of his armies, not because of the popular vote. So it wasn't a republic. In a republic, you can lose elections and be out of power.)
If inability to remove the Consul (or Dictator) via from office via elections is what qualifies as the death of the Republic, then it died with Marius, Sulla, or Pompey. Laying the death at Caesar's feet is ridiculous.
Caesar was popular. He was murdered by a coalition of unpopular and disaffected Pompeiians and noveau riche both enabled by Caesar's clemency and largess. He was accorded his honors, powers, and cult status legally. If your notion that a Republic isn't a Republic because popular representatives can't be voted out (because the people don't want to vote them out), then Republics and Democracies don't exist at all and all you have is rhetoric.
> If inability to remove the Consul (or Dictator) via from office via elections is what qualifies as the death of the Republic, then it died with Marius, Sulla, or Pompey.
Right. Arguably the Republic had been on life support for decades, even before Marius and Sulla.
Some argue that the fundamental issue was a coordination problem. The civic institutions that had worked reasonably well when Rome was merely the capital of an Italian agricultural reason began to fail miserably as Rome changed into an empire where communication between outlying regions and the capital took weeks or months. The proconsul/propraetor system, which came about fairly late in the Roman Republic, was an attempt to mitigate this, by providing an on-site official with authority ("imperium"). In practice, the promagistrates generally looked on their one year terms as a license to loot the province, squeezing out as many taxes and bribes as they could collect. This did not endear them with the locals.
By contrast, an emperor usually wanted to remain in power for a long time (most of them did not, but they wanted to), and could spread their looting out over a longer period of time, and have it carried out by local officials they could make and break at will.
> was merely the capital of an Italian
Arguably (considering the causes and outcomes of the Social War) it didn't even function that well in that regard. It was a city state which suddenly (in a couple generations) became a global empire.
> an emperor
Did an emperor even need to loot that much? He did not have to spend enormous amounts of money for electoral campaigns or directly compete with his peers in other ways. Arguably the interests of the emperor were inherently aligned with that of the state unlike that of elected magistrates who were ussually much more concerned about their political success and accumulating wealth (which I guess is pretty much what you're saying..)
> Arguably the interests of the emperor were inherently aligned with that of the state unlike that of elected magistrates who were ussually much more concerned about their political success and accumulating wealth (which I guess is pretty much what you're saying..)
Roving bandits vs. stationary bandits.
> Did an emperor even need to loot that much?
dunno about looting specifically, but yes, the emperors always needed an insane amount of money to finance the wars.
But it’s the state that needed the money. I mean under the Republic the corrupt magistrates defrauded both the people they were ruling over and the state.
In the empire due to various reforms the state managed to get a much bigger share of the pie than before while collecting less in taxes.
The paper ends with the claim that the conspirators destroyed the republic but as you said it was already dead. Given that countries like the US like to draw parallels to Rome, I think it is an important message that normal people dont accept the late society with a consolidating dictator as a republic. Killing Caesar was a noble act, but it apparently required killing his adoptive son too. We can only learn from history if we listen to it without falling into a Stockholm syndrome like a scholar that specializes in one of the monsters.
> it apparently required killing his adoptive son too
This is the wrong lesson! Killing Caesar wasn’t a solution. Hell, Caesar might have been the only one who could have fixed the system.
I saw a speech from Gaddafi that he was going to gradually reform Libya.. It is an often repeated lie that institutions are going to magically transform themselves to no longer be shaped by being suck ups to dictators as soon as a dictator wills it.
Nobility implies sacrifice. Cassius, Brutus, et. al sacrificed nothing except the hard-fought stability and foundational reform that Caesar was in the process of providing. If honor can be accorded to jealous rentiers guarding latifundia and Old Money engaging in institutional revanchism, then yes, America should learn from history and what happens to tyrants given time.
As far as hamfisted comparisons between Trump to Caesar go, Trump is no Caesar. He lacks gall, youth, tribute, loyalty, and competence. The only connection he has is the theatricality of those that floundered in the wake of Caesar & Augustus.
> Cassius, Brutus, et. al sacrificed nothing
Bedsides their standing, wealth and lives?
Ceasar was a glory seeking political opportunist and a war criminal. You’re right the second part probably does not apply to Trump…
> hard-fought stability and foundational reform that Caesar was in the process of providing.
Yes just like any dictator. Augustus ended up learning from Caesars mistakes and at the built much more stable foundations than Caesar ever could.
Caesar was just a second Sulla. Obviously he was much less bloodthirsty and cruel from the perspective of his fellow Romans (Gauls and Germans are subhumans so who cares about them). However he suffered from the same savior/messiah complex that Sulla did, believing he alone could reform and save the republic. Well he didn’t and he couldn’t anyway..
> Killing Caesar was a noble act
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus Hath told you Caesar was ambitious: If it were so, it was a grievous fault, And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it. Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest– For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men– Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral. He was my friend, faithful and just to me: But Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honourable man. He hath brought many captives home to Rome Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill: Did this in Caesar seem ambitious? When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff: Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honourable man. You all did see that on the Lupercal I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition? Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And, sure, he is an honourable man. I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke, But here I am to speak what I do know. You all did love him once, not without cause: What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him? O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason. Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me.
Caesar had multiple Tribunes of the Plebs (who had far more electoral legitimacy than Caesar ever did, being elected by the Plebeian Assembly) removed from office. To pretend that he never did anything blatantly undemocratic is false.
Comment was deleted :(
Name them and why they were removed according to the extant historians.
I've gotta say, your tone is quite grating, but fine, I'll play along.
He removed two tribunes in the runup to his assassination (Gaius Marullus and Lucius Flavus) after they had a few citizens arrested for calling Caesar 'King' as he greeted them. He also had Publius Sestus removed, ostensibly on charges of inciting violence (but more motivated by opposition to his land redistribution), during one of his earlier consulships. I suppose you would argue all of this was justified, but my point is that no matter how you slice it, Tribunes of the Plebs were far more democratically accountable to the people and had far more electoral legitimacy than Caesar ever did (having been declared dictator for life by a thoroughly undemocratic institution, the Senate). Tribunes served for a year, and if the plebs actually disapproved of their conduct, they could have chosen someone else. The Plebeian Assembly's ability to elect their Tribunes was, after all, one of the few powers left to them after Sulla's reforms.
I guess a modern analogue would be a Supreme Court justice declaring they are working in the interests of the people, ruling that all corporations above a certain size must be dissolved, then removing from office members of Congress that try to impeach them. You might argue that they're acting in the interests of the people (in their own judgement), but it would be indisputably undemocratic nonetheless.
Edit: forgot to mention in my little analogy, of course, that the Supreme Court justice is also a four star general with the military at their beck and call.
>You might argue that they're acting in the interests of the people (in their own judgement), but it would be indisputably undemocratic nonetheless.
That's a fair assessment of my position. I view the criticism that the most successful populares consul of Rome was "undemocratic" while being consul and dictator of a Republic constituted and elected on the basis of property and nepotism to be entirely ridiculous when the "undemocratic" criticism is the removal of Tribunes doing things directly in opposition of the actual interest of the plebs. Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy enriching themselves as career politicians while the cities and countryside decay meet with my equal disdain.
In short, if isolated demands for rigor abound when dealing with procedural rules and precedent, I will ally with those trying to prevent fires rather than those that simply talk until time runs out (but Cato was a virtuous man).
Ah, now I get it. All along, you've been arguing in the scorched-earth style of modern culture warriors (on all sides). I couldn't understand it in a discussion about Caesar. But now I understand. You're using Caesar as a proxy to fight modern-day culture wars. You're not actually talking about Caesar; you're talking about your projection of him onto our present day.
He really wasn't as spotless as you're trying to paint him. Neither are the ones that you're trying to project him onto. (And neither were the other side, in his day and in ours.) Neither side is worth your level of battle to whitewash their reputation.
I continue to await your wisdom. Please, O Oracle, bewstow upon me my own thoughts.
Who am I projecting Caesar onto? I'm honestly curious as to who you think I think is doing an effective and honest job.
OK, but what if Caesar lost his popularity? (The crowd was fickle, after all.) Would he have accepted being voted out of office? Or would he have used the army to remain in power?
The question is not whether Caesar was popular. The question is whether he could have been removed from power by political means if the people had wanted to.
The Republic didn't die with Caesar's assassination. It died when he took his army into Italy.
Or it died earlier than that. You want to say it died with Marius and Sulla? Sure, I can go there.
>The question is not whether Caesar was popular. The question is whether he could have been removed from power by political means if the people had wanted to.
This plays into the status games endemic to late Republics. To quote another maligned general that was merciful to the vanquished and cruel to the recalcitrant: "Your pretended fear lest error should step in, is like the man who would keep all wine out of the country, lest men should be drunk. It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon a supposition he may abuse it."
Caesar didn't proscribe his opponents. They killed themselves rather than be in sufferance of his mercy. He didn't attempt to become king or imperator. Augustus grasped his "inheritance" himself. Caesar revelled in his well-earned and legally-entitled glory that overshadowed those of his older, wealthier peers. What he did extralegally in the aftermath of the civil war, like Augustus, he did to conform with the facade of legality to protect the commonweal. Like Cicero, he lived to take the blame of necessity personally. Had he failed in the public eye is a pointless exercise however; He did not fail.
It's informative to ask: Was FDR a dictator? He had an unprecedented scope of power, illegally enlarged the executive branch multiple times, engaged in extralegal economic redistribution, defied informal term limits, and was beloved by the masses.
Yet, if FDR had lost any of his presidential campaigns, would he have left office and transitioned accordingly? There's not a shred, not a whisp, of evidence to suggest otherwise.
Sometimes, and I know well that we live in all too human times that make such people and their circumstances mythical, people do struggle to do good for their own honor and the sake of the public good.
To crib from the eulogy of a would-be American Caesar, executed amidst similarly trying times: "Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their peers, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change."
> revelled in his well-earned and legally-entitled glory that
That's really a heavily biased claim. First of all Cesar's invasion of Gaul was actual illegal. The stuff he did there even shocked some of the ussually bloodthirsty Roman aristocrats. Regardless of whether he felt what the senate did was just or not his refusal to give up his governorship and the subsequent march on Rome was in no way legal.
His position of dictator was only legal because Ceasar passed laws making it legal. Dictator for life was never a constitutional office in Rome (besides the two times when rebelling general lead his army into the city and forced the senate/assembly to appoint him as one).
Term limits were fundamental part of Roman Consitution and the Republic. While Cesar did not call himself king he was one effectively.
After he was assassinated the office of Dictator was officially abolished. And basically equated to that of King (any person who attempted to make himself dictator could be executed without a trial). You know who proposed this law? Mark Anthony...
Actually Augustus position was legalistically more legitimate (obviously it's only semantics at this point) sensing that Ceasar made mistake appointed himself dictator Augustus had the senate grant him a bunch of separate offices and special powers but he never legally held absolute power in the same way Ceasar did and maintained the illusion that the Republic was still in place.
> Was FDR a dictator?
FDR did not conquer Washington DC with an army. But yeah I guess it's a scale. Ceasar was much, much closer to being an absolute ruler than Roosevelt was. Roosevelt could not legally not execute any American citizen he wanted (Ceasar could even if he ussually chose not to do this)
> "Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery"
Caesar was a glory seeking opportunist (just like almost every other Roman politician...) and a war criminal even if a brilliant general. I'm not saying his opponents were any better but I really don't understand in what way did Ceasar display "Moral courage"?
> It's informative to ask: Was FDR a dictator? He had an unprecedented scope of power, illegally enlarged the executive branch multiple times, engaged in extralegal economic redistribution, defied informal term limits, and was beloved by the masses.
Drawing an equivalency between FDR, who was repeatedly reelected by huge majorities after his terms expired, and did comply with the rulings of a hostile Supreme Court after failing to outmaneuver them, to Caesar, who had himself declared dictator for life by the Senate (itself hardly a democratic institution), and removed multiple Tribunes from office who had more electoral legitimacy than he did, is a bit of a reach.
In May 1937, Associate Justice Owen Roberts, who had previously been a reliable conservative vote on the Court, voted with the liberal wing of the Court in upholding a state minimum wage law. This unexpected switch gave the Court a 5-4 majority in favor of upholding the New Deal legislation, and effectively ended Roosevelt's plans to expand the Court.
It's absolutely ludicrous to say he outmaneuvered them. Roberts conceded and FDR abandoned his plans to pack the court.
FDR did not abandon his plans because of a change in the court's jurisprudence. He abandoned them because he ran into insurmountable opposition from his own party that killed the plan. The House Judiciary chairman called it unconstitutional, for example, and it repeatedly failed votes in the Senate Judiciary committee. It had been made abundantly clear by mid-year that the bill had no chance of passing, hence its failure; otherwise, he would have pushed for it regardless of what the court ruled in West Coast Hotel. Even still, he complied with prior court rulings that had struck down parts of the New Deal after his efforts failed.
Do you think that Caesar was unlimited de facto in what he could put forth whereas FDR was circumscribed?
I think Caesar had carte blanche control over his soldiers, and FDR didn't (which I, and I think even he, would agree was a good thing). I think FDR was elected to a preexisting constitutional office for a predefined term by the people of the nation, while Caesar had himself ad-hoc declared 'Dictator for life' by an undemocratic Senate he effectively held at sword point. I think that that FDR operated under restrictions (which he did at times try to loosen, with varying degrees of success), while Caesar had virtually none (save for factors that motivated some of his policymaking, such as keeping those soldiers happy).
Obviously you believe in populism, economic and/or otherwise, so I suppose you think it is a good thing that someone like Caesar was able to act largely without restrictions in implementing his plans; I don't think a lack of checks is a good thing, even if I believe the policy being implemented is itself good (though Caesar did do things I think were wrong, particularly on the military front, Gaul, etc.). I guess that's just a difference of opinion that we have.
I disagree that Caesar had total control over his soldiers. Labienus and Antony alone among his legates shows that loyalty to Caesar had very real limits that could either turn into antipathy or debauchery. The diadem incident showed that whatever the intent was, Caesar was limited in what he could do.
I don't believe that violation of precedent leads to positive outcomes and that each violation destroys its own foundation, but I also believe that slavish adherence to a stultified and failing system of precedence leads to outcomes that mimic the proverb "the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." Lawfare is another kind of civic death, as Cato demonstrated multiple times. So if you want to call opposition to terminal ossification "populism" then sure, you've got me.
> The diadem incident showed that whatever the intent was, Caesar was limited in what he could do.
I largely think this is a good place to leave this conversation, but I can't help but point out that when the limit is 'you can't openly declare yourself king in a nation whose fundamental character is defined as opposition to monarchy', there isn't much of a real limit.
Ultimately, from what I understand, the post-civil war opposition to Caesar was less about what he did than how he did it, so I think that yes, that was a very real limit. If he had or even wanted the kind of total and repressive control that is frequently hinted at but never entirely substantiated (and I think our picture of that control is colored very much by the post-Augustan emperors) along with his supposed revolutionary ambition, then becoming a hereditary king would have been very much the logical conclusion, yet there's very little evidence that Caesar, unlike say Napoleon (or even Cromwell) aimed at this.
If he did aim at it, he did it uncharacteristically poorly. True, his dictatorship ended prematurely so it's ultimately a counterfactual in any case, but keeping your enemies around after they've been defeated in order to declare yourself king at some point after returning from another multi-year military campaign triggers my sense of absolute disbelief, but your mileage may vary.
I think it more likely that the suppression of the Tribunes, the diadem incident, etc. were constructed by others attempting to gin up the fears of "a nation whose fundamental character is defined as opposition to monarchy." I believe that Caesar was among the best of the Romans.
I hope that in 2024, we will successfully recover some lost works via the Vesuvius Prize to justify or refute this position with more direct evidence.
> keeping your enemies around after they've been defeated
I don't think this specifically is evidence of much. Caesar did this all the time; he believed (ultimately incorrectly in my view, based on the way he died), that he would be much better served by brining these people to his side, with their existing powerbases and supporters.
> were constructed by others
Some of it could have been, I guess? But he certainly didn't have to take the bait and remove the tribunes, and the accounts of the diadem incident I've read suggest he knew it would happen ahead of time.
> I believe that Caesar was among the best of the Romans.
Fair enough, you're entitled to your opinion. But I gotta say, the stuff I've read about what he did in Gaul and elsewhere makes it impossible for me to view him as any sort of paragon. I'm not saying he was a unique sort of evil or anything (obviously not, the Roman Republic was an expansionist state whose history is littered with atrocities), but I don't find myself feeling very charitable towards him.
>Caesar did this all the time; he believed (ultimately incorrectly in my view, based on the way he died), that he would be much better served by brining these people to his side, with their existing powerbases and supporters.
Yes, but this all occurred prior to his dictatorship. Coalitions are needed when sovereignty is in doubt. If he intended to be king or imperator (and allegedly already was de facto), what incentives does he have to effectively double the elites requiring patronage and titles? Praetors and consuls were limited as were provincial commands. And the Proscriptions were fresh enough in everyone's mind (and subsequently repeated after his death) that it doesn't jive with me that a Rex Caesar needed former Pompeiians to justify his rule when both his ability to rule and his pool of seized wealth to distribute were negatively impacted by their rehabilitation.
>But he certainly didn't have to take the bait and remove the tribunes, and the accounts of the diadem incident I've read suggest he knew it would happen ahead of time.
Given the need of Caesar to be seen as doing the "right thing" rather than the "public thing" I think it's understandable why he would defend citizens and supporters against spurious charges drummed up to harm him. It recalls the episode where Marcus Claudius Marcellus had a Transpadane magistrate whipped (something forbidden to be done to Roman citizens) because Caesar had treated them as citizens while not actually being so. I imagine events like that hit a sore spot personally and not simply puncturing his auctoritas. Something akin to Buzz Aldrin punching a conspiracy theorist in the face for calling him a liar and a phony.
The diadem incident was a scissor statement regardless of who actually orchestrated it. Opponents would see it as testing the waters for kingship and allies an explicit repudiation of it. Given what I perceive to be Caesar's prudence and the desperation of his opponents to manufacture opposition, I find the latter motivation to be more credible, by far.
>But I gotta say, the stuff I've read about what he did in Gaul and elsewhere makes it impossible for me to view him as any sort of paragon.
I meant specifically as a Roman, not necessarily under modern mores. Caesar in my mind was a necessary force rather than a desirable one. Yet I will admit that I'm in the minority when it comes to "cruel necessity" in war, particularly conducted by those that abide by tit for two tats. I think I would rather have punctuated Gaulish atrocities, Sacks of Wexford, Burning of Atlantas, and Hiroshimas than continual and ineffective warfare that sacrifices more real humans and real wealth for slower but larger meat grinders led by forgotten and incompetent men. In short, there are only two kinds of historical personages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody remembers.
> Coalitions are needed when sovereignty is in doubt.
Every leader requires a coalition to stay in power, not just to achieve it.
> what incentives does he have to effectively double the elites requiring patronage and titles
As shown by Cato killing himself rather than accept clemency, it put those who accepted it into a massive debt of honor to Caesar and was massively useful in helping turn those he pardoned to his side. Caesar himself clearly understood this, per what he reportedly said upon hearing of Cato's death - "O Cato, I begrudge you your death; for you begrudged me the sparing of your life."
> allies an explicit repudiation of it
This would be far more credible if he wasn't sitting on a golden throne on a raised dais when Marc Antony presented him the diadem.
> I think I would rather have punctuated Gaulish atrocities
I don't think the Gallic atrocities that Caesar himself recounted were necessary for the most part. And yes, all major historical figures are complained about, but some complaints are more valid than others.
Hot take: The Republic was always a plutocratic/hoplocratic oligarchy where real power was only superficially related to formal process. Talking about when it “died” is mostly debate about how to selectively romanticize its “life”.
But, romanticizing either the Republic or the Empire or both has been (and remains) pretty foundational to political society and national identity for a wide swathe of the world...
That popularity beyond being removed of course, came after most of the people who didn't support him were dead
Who do you mean? Do you mean Pompey (who was independently killed by Egyptians), Cato (killed himself rather than be pardoned), Ahenobarbus (was defeated, tried to kill himself, then was pardoned by Caesar only to fight again and be defeated again and killed in battle), Labienus (defeated, pardoned, killed in battle), Cicero (defected to the Pompeiians and was actively solicited by Caesar to return to public service, never punished by Caesar), Petreius and Juba (fought a suicidal dual with a slave killing the victor). Whom else am I missing? I'm curious as to whom you mean.
Or do you mean the very alive and formerly Pompeiian Senators that Caesar enriched and restored to office that ultimately killed him out of pride?
> The Roman Republic was dead when Caesar won the civil war
The Republic had been in trouble for a long time. IMHO it officially died as soon as the First Triumvirate was created. Rome was in complete control of just three people for many years.
Pompey was the leading figure of the First Triumvirate, so arguably he deserves more blame than even Caesar for the downfall. The fact that more senators chose him over Caesar says very little about how truly republican any of them were by that point.
The war between Caesar's party and Pompey's party was really just a battle for who would be Dictator for life. Neither of them had any intention of handing real power back, because they could honestly tell themselves it was unlikely to fall into any better hands.
Had he won, Pompey would have continued to (through military threats) control the Senate the same way he had for many years prior to the civil war.
Caesar was pretty popular, and ignoring that ignores many of the dynamics (reaching back to Marius at least, but really all the way to the Conflict of the Orders) that actually governed Roman politics. At the time he came to power, Rome was ruled by an oligarchy, and many of the instruments of political representation for the people had been co-opted by the aristocracy. Not to say his intentions were at all pure, but neither were those of any of his contemporaries.
The US is in the same situation, except that it is not a personal dictatorship. It has a two-party dictatorship, and what unites them is the unwavering support for the foreign imperialism. Any party/candidate that breaks with the foreign imperialism will be labeled an enemy of the state. In this sense, democracy is dead in America too since the cold war.
Having foreign policy you disagree with does not make America non-democratic. There are many areas in which the American government doesn't seem to represent the will of the people, but military spending and interventionism are broadly popular.
Now, if you want to argue that people have been duped into holding beliefs contrary to their own best interests, I think you could make a strong argument. But that's not the same thing as saying that the government doesn't reflect the beliefs they DO hold.
The US is the place where the tail wags the dog. The wealthy minorities that are interested in war (for financial reasons or otherwise) put billions into pro-war public support. So it is difficult to say if this is something that the population really wants or if they're being duped into accepting.
> what unites them is the unwavering support for the foreign imperialism
This is a dated political model.
Tell that to the PRC.
I am telling that to the PRC.
> Julius Caesar's civil war with Pompey was neither long nor protracted...
Compared to what? It was nearly two years just for the portion with Pompey.
> .. and never actually involved the populus of Italy, let alone Rome.
Of course it did involve a great many people from Italy and a great many Romans.
> Pompey's Macedonian strategy ultimately failed as soon as it was contested.
It failed after very nearly succeeding multiple times and after months of skirmishes, sieges, storming of cities, back-and-forth trench warfare on huge scale, and marches with counter-marches. It was a slugfest between the largest and most modern forces of the day.
>Compared to what? It was nearly two years just for the portion with Pompey.
The period prior to Caesar (i.e. Marius, Sulla, and Catalinean period, etc.) and the post-Caesarian civil wars?
>Of course it did involve a great many people from Italy and a great many Romans.
Show me a serious battle in Italy or a battle in Rome that resulted in serious destruction or disruption to the operations of Rome and the Italic peoples as a result of Caesar's civil war. Corfinium? Brundisium? It's nothing.
> It failed after very nearly succeeding multiple times and after months of skirmishes, sieges, storming of cities, back-and-forth trench warfare on huge scale, and marches and counter-marches. It was a slug fest between large forces.
It was a handful of battles and sieges. It's nothing compared to other campaigns. It's hard to believe that you're not actively being disingenuous rather than incidentally illiterate in regards to the broader historical context.
> Show me a serious battle in Italy or a battle in Rome that resulted in serious destruction as a result of Caesar's civil war.
The people fighting in Spain, Greece, and Africa were largely Italian Romans or non-Italian Romans or allies. Caesar and Pompey were Italian Romans. It was in every way a civil war of Romans. What difference does it make that, for logistical reasons, the battles took place outside of Italy proper?
> It was a handful of battles and sieges. It's nothing compared to other campaigns.
Greece was the hardest campaign of Caesar's life. For the first time, he was fighting a complete military peer that had more resources, more soldiers, and more money. Pompey even had important Gallic leaders and Caesar's #2 (Labienus) leading a much larger cavalry force. Pompey's army matched and beat Caesar's in siege warfare.
Caesar almost lost multiple times and was beaten and in retreat when he turned around to fight and win at Pharsalus. Had Pompey avoided a full scale engagement, it's very likely that he would have won.
>The people fighting in Spain, Greece, and Africa were largely Italian Romans or non-Italian Romans or allies. Caesar and Pompey were Italian Romans. It was in every way a civil war of Romans. What difference does it make that, for logistical reasons, the battles took place outside of Italy proper?
The non-soldiery weren't involved, a total war wasn't invoked, and proscriptions were largely absent? Come on.
>Caesar almost lost multiple times and was beaten and in retreat when he turned around to fight and win at Pharsalus. Had Pompey avoided a full scale engagement, it's very likely that he would have won.
This is absolutely irrelevant. Your counterfactuals concerning a mythical competent Pompey are pointless. He didn't win. He fled Italy, fled Macedonia, and died commensurate to his honor and integrity. In a small boat, by foreign underlings.
The civil wars that actually impacted the peoples of Italy and Rome, as in proscriptions, institutional and physical damage, preceded and followed Caesar. The lull was enabled and continued by Caesar, sabotaged by such heroes of the Republic as the sole consul Pompous, sorry Pompeius, Magnus.
> It's hard to believe that you're not actively being disingenuous rather than incidentally illiterate in regards to the broader historical context.
Please don’t. The rules specifically discourage this.
Assume good faith.
I'm being accurate. Mindlessly sending an antagonistic reply without giving due consideration to what was actually said is more antithetical to norms of good faith than stating that this is occurring.
> He literally led roman armies into battle against roman armies controlled by opposing political interests.
Yes, but he had offered a truce to the senate before it came to that. What he wanted was to extend is governorship in Gaul. This would have given him legal protection from his enemies in the senate and kept him somewhat distanced from roman politics for the duration.
The senate pressed for this outcome. They got more than they bargained for.
> I don't see how you can look at the events leading up to the murder of Julius Caesar as anything but a civil war. He literally led roman armies into battle against roman armies controlled by opposing political interests.
Arguably the protracted civil war goes back to Sulla.
But since he "won" one would have expected that to mean peace from that point on, except he hasn't really won since eventually he got himself killed.
Like many things, it's all about perspectives, long term vs short term focus, counterfactuals, and an occasional dose of contrarianism, which always fueled the attempt of essayists to raise above the noise (by being noisier)
If there's one thing the entirety of Roman history tells us, it's that managing succession is incredibly difficult. It was by no means the rule that someone 'winning' meant things were about to get peaceful (or at least, not until they'd killed off all their rivals, siblings, or whoever else they chose to proscribe).
Which is why modern democracy must be treasured for all its faults.
Their argument isn't that the republic continued on into the empire, but that it was already dead to other things. For example, if a system where an unelected triumvirate holds all the political power is a republic, basically anything is a republic.
The definition of a republic is itself a nebulous thing.
One definition is simply a government that does not have a king. Another is the lack of inherited office.
The triumvirates appear to have satisfied both of these simple requirements.
Recommendation: the Hardcore History podcast by Dan Carlin . He has a series on the Kings of Ancient Persia and an episode on Caesar's conquest of Gaul.
Dan talks about this concept a lot. In his words, who invented the light bulb doesn't matter. If someone didn't do it someone else would. But what is far more interesting are these turning points in history that could've completely changed the course of civilization.
What if Alexander the Great hadn't died? Dan mentions one of the Kings of Persia was responsible for rebuilding the Temple of Solomon without which Judaism may well have died out. Then we may not have had it, Christianity or Islam. What would the world be like then? Persia came very close to conquering Greece. Roman culture and development was heavily influenced by Greece. The entire of European history turned on that moment. Or the Mongols who turned back from conquering Europe to choose a new Khan.
It's fun to theorize about these events but the best we can do is guess as to the immediate aftermath. The ripple effets mean modern history would be completely unrecognizable.
A gold coin celebrating the assassination of Julius Caesar recently sold for 3 million USD:
There's an interesting book about how things were headed south long before the events everyone knows about:
This article filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of Roman history, in particular, the significant role Augustus played in cementing the dictatorship established by Julius.
The parallels between what happened in Rome 2000 years ago and what is happening in the U.S. today are getting really scary.
The Founding Fathers of the United States were directly inspired by the Roman Republic. The notion that the Republic would ultimately devolve (or evolve, given your perspective) into Empire was not a foreign notion to them.
I don't necessarily think that they understood the extent to which the acquisition of land, power, and resources by corporations might mimic the destructive influence of the latifundia of the late Roman Republic, but still the end result will likely be the same: land reform by a populare (i.e. Peace, Land, Bread).
Under the Julian land reform program, Caesar proposed to:
* Distribute public lands to poor and landless citizens: Caesar proposed to distribute public lands to poor and landless citizens, who would be allowed to cultivate the land in exchange for paying a small rent to the state.
* Restrict the size of private estates: Caesar proposed to limit the amount of land that could be held by any one individual, in order to prevent the accumulation of vast estates by the wealthy elite. This would help to ensure that there was enough land available for small farmers and other citizens.
* Create colonies for veterans and landless citizens: Caesar proposed to create new colonies in Italy and other parts of the Roman world, where veterans and landless citizens could be settled and given land to cultivate.
Given the current crises in housing, climate, self-confidence, and employment amongst the proles, a similar platform is likely to emerge. Unfortunately, given the same stridency in those with wealth and status, similar obstacles are also likely to prevent the pressure valve of nihilistic desperation from being released, with likely destructive results.
> Restrict the size of private estates: Caesar proposed to limit the amount of land that could be held by any one individual, in order to prevent the accumulation of vast estates by the wealthy elite.
And would he have given up his Spanish silver mines?
> This would help to ensure that there was enough land available for small farmers and other citizens.
It would also -- totally coincidentally -- ensure that the competing powerful families would not remain strong enough to threaten Caesar but I'm sure that wasn't his intention. Caesar was an honourable man, after all.
Yet another entrant to the Roman whataboutism parade. Sure. You win. Whatever. Caesar was a ruthless plutocrat that so-everly unjustly denuded those poor, poor Roman Opimates of their fortunes and prestige to prevent them from opposing Rex Caesar by giving land to the poor and veterans, reforming the calendar, spending endless years on military campaigns to expand Rome's wealth, and granting citizenship to non-Italics, then letting everyone who hated him come back if they wouldn't try to kill him. I hear Cato the Younger quite virtuously hated Mondays. Dies Lunae delendae sunt. etc. etc.
I have read apologies for Robespierre, Napoleon, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh that were practically identical to your Caesar apology. There was no end to all the good stuff those people tirelessly did for their ungrateful nations in spite of all the evil people who tried to stop them.
An association fallacy is an informal inductive fallacy of the hasty-generalization or red-herring type and which asserts, by irrelevant association and often by appeal to emotion, that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another. Two types of association fallacies are sometimes referred to as guilt by association and honor by association.
I think I really did win that one.
Show trials and struggle sessions were absent during Caesar's dictatorship, as were executions and totalitarianism. Even if Caesar's clemency were entirety motivated by power-seeking, Caesar was a Fabian rather than totalitarian executioner. But sure, lull your integrity to sleep with pithy nothings.
Sure, he was Cincinnatus reincarnated.
> The parallels between what happened in Rome 2000 years ago and what is happening in the U.S. today
such as please? trump as tiberius i can kind of see. biden is claudius?
I read it with a slightly wider scope for "today": when you have reached the point where you need to include the middle initial to tell presidents apart you aren't that far from just incrementing a counter...
If that were true, Jeb! or Hillary would be president right now. As it stands, the Clinton and Bush names are not winning anyone office right now, and the most prominent Kennedy politician right now is arguably an anti-vax conspiracy theorist.
This was basically the case from the start, ala John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
Indeed. Even from the outside I can see similarities with family dynasties in the political elites. We have the Kennedys, Bush, Clintons, and who knows what will become of the Trump family going forward.
Clunck-click with every trip hopefully.
Edit: British humour. Started as car seat belt promotion videos, but now used to refer to someone being in prison.
Not OP, but I see the situation more as 100 years before Caesar. You had competing interests but inability (unwillingness?) to compromise. Various people tried increasingly heavy-handed solutions, including the populist Gracchi brothers, and then Sulla entering Rome with his legions (forbidden) three years of military dictatorship--after which he resigned and went home.
We seem to be at the potential start of that process. The morals/ethics of the coastal elites from the rural population have diverged to the point where, with Social Justice (differing from social justice) they may not be compatible, but both sides are trying to enforce their morality on the other. (Although I think the push for change is essentially from the coasts and the rural morality is on an offensive-defense.) So you get the rise of populist Trump and the far right to oppose the push from the far left. Trump isn't equivalent to anyone in Rome, but the situation has a similar flavor. (Also, the situation described by Plato in the Republic, where he says democracy results in chaos, causing people to want a dictator to restore order, although we have not got there yet.)
> inability (unwillingness?) to compromise.
I think the basic story of the late Republic is one of a political-economy which needed to change but which could not. Romes successes had rewritten the fundamental realities of its means and relations of production but the political system gave an effective veto power to people who refused to see this and instead wished to blame cultural changes and a decline in traditional virtue for the troubles.
This delusion was a borderline mental illness. These people loved Rome's martial history and wanted to keep armies in the field as much as anyone, yet opposed opening the cavalry to non-yeomen despite the deleterious impacts it had on the rural upper class and the decreasing ability of the Romans to field these kind of patriotic cavalry.
These people benefited in multitude ways from the influx of slave labor. But they resisted any effort to enfranchise now underemployed Romans, settling instead to doll them grain. Even as this destroyed the
These people leveraged their neighbor Italians to win profitable war after profitable war and resisted giving them the privileges of citizenship until forced at the point of a spear.
And all the while, any type of reform which had the aesthetic of appearing against traditional Roman virtue was resisted entirely by the traditional aristocrats. Until of course Marius, many of whose reforms were so practical that not even a nostalgia trip like Sulla could bring himself to turn them all back.
I think the moral of the fall of Rome is not about a lack of compromise but about what happens when your political system ceases to be able to address the fundamental issues that are undermining it. The end of the Poland-Lithuania is another such example.
The Marian reforms were very practical, but they also set the scene for later generations of armies that felt bound more to their general than to Rome itself. There's a reason Augustus nearly bankrupted the state professionalizing the army.
But I broadly agree with your point - the tensions that brought the Republic down had been festering for hundreds of years.
> But I broadly agree with your point - the tensions that brought the Republic down had been festering for hundreds of years.
That's true but not my specific point. My specific point is that the above comment is extolling a milk-toast "both sides" view of the breakdown of the Roman Republic that simply isn't supported by fact. The problems facing Rome were plainly due to changes in geo-poltical and economic circumstances. Many of these changes in circumstances were themselves created by action of the basic structures of Roman society and the successes they had achieved.
All resistance to addressing those changes in any manner, big or small, can be laid at the feet of an out of touch group of traditional aristocrats who would not abide Rome in any form besides the mythological form they believe it had in the early Republic. These people essentially held a veto to any "legitimate" challenge and used violence in successive circumstances where they feared an "illegitimate" challenge.
Totally agree that there wasn't much for the plebs to compromise on and I hope I'm not both-sidesing here, just pointing out that the tradition of violence around any proposed land reforms goes back hundreds of years, indeed all the way to the very first proposed agrarian laws of 486BC. The patrician class was conservative and backward-looking by its very nature, and the Roman form of government was almost _explicitly_ created to reach stalemate rather than solve problems in one side's favour (tribunes had the veto too, except as you point out for a few years under Sulla). Obviously in practice that meant the oligarchy had the better part of the deal. But that wasn't necessarily a _new_ tension. So what changed that these old grievances ended up shattering the Republic?
When you say "traditional aristocrats who would not abide Rome in any form besides the mythological form they believe it had in the early Republic" that sure sounds like the us senate to me. As I see it, the senate still has few q-anon completely irrational people who want to destroy everything. The senate doesn't see that we are actually imperiled by another presidency that wants to continue to destroy our institutions. They don't seem to the see the danger. Thus we get our supreme court making decisions justified by writing from before 1776.
For what it's worth, one Roman figure who had an insanely engorged ego, relied on huge loans for his business dealings, and assigned Rome's decay to a shadowy cabal of deep-state paedophiles, was Cicero.
Ha! Now that would be a lovely parallel to his complaint about children disobeying parents. I think it would be refreshing to know that conspiracy theories are a expression within humanity, not a unique expression of modern (moral) failure. Do you have any sources / summaries for his Roman conspiracy theories? And how does this square with my perception that Cicero has been perceived as respectable? Is it just that he's respectable but also very traditional and has less than verified causal ideas? Or maybe he's not as respectable (at least in modern terms) as I had assumed?
If you want the most passionate and entertaining takedown (not just of the man but the tradition that has accepted his output uncritically), it would be Michael Parenti’s in The Assassination of Julius Caesar.
But you can read about Cicero’s two Catiline conspiracies, the first completely fabricated, the second embellished beyond all reason, see his second oration against Catiline, chapter 4, sections 7-8 for the juiciest accusations re: corrupting the nation’s youth.
Early in his career he credited himself with bravely speaking out against allies of Sulla, but that was probably an embellishment:
He’s a very entertaining figure, and you can’t help but read his letters and identify a little with him (even as he swings from proclaiming himself the greatest human ever to live, to being wildly neurotic). He was a Demosthenes forever in search of a Philip but was ultimately too spineless and indecisive to affect events when it counted. In some ways I find him pitiable in the same way as Pompey - desperate to be accepted by the aristocracy and always insecure about it. But while his literary output was sparkling, his politics and egotism were contemptible.
> such as please? trump as tiberius i can kind of see. biden is claudius?
my money is on hunter biden as the future augustus ))) has military experience? check. likes to party? check! feels like 44BC all over again.
Well, it's obviously not an exact replay with a one-to-one mapping of today's characters onto those of 2000 years ago. I guess I'd map Trump onto Caesar (though he seems more like a Mussolini than a Caesar -- funny how Italy seems to breed dictators), his defeat in 2020 onto Caesar's assassination, with the concomitant premature sigh of relief breathed by the proponents of democracy, and DeSantis, if he wins in '24, as Augustus.
From TFA: "The third impact was the realisation of a new reality. Caesar’s teenage adopted son took over where his father had left off. The power of a popular name to motivate soldiers and the poor left his killers amazed."
I would not be surprised to see an analogous sentence being written ten years from now, something like, "DeSantis took over where Trump had left off. The power of MAGA ideology to motivate a large portion of the public left the Democrats amazed (and permanently out of power)."
This is all quite a stretch. Trump's defeat is akin to Caesar's assassination? He lost the election. Trump's supporters are the opposite of proponents of democracy, despite their delusions convincing them otherwise.
Democracy isn't when only Democrats win either, and yet we have people like Stacy Abrams.
Either way, I find this comparison of ancient Rome to modern politics ridiculous. Just thought I'd slam in here with a jab.
Lmao we can’t go one thread without an american making it about trump
Alea iacta est
For those who only know the story of Brutus (the leader of assassins whom apparently Caesar didn't expect to be his traitor) there was another Brutus the most famous one in Rome who in the early times of Rome, when it was still a kingdom, killed a tyrant and that put down the foundation of roman republic.
This guys, Lucius Junius Brutus, was a hero of the republic and his killing of then king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus regarded as a great, inspiring act.
Romans according to legends swore to never have a king again. For that reason there was never a king in the empire but an emperor who was not de jure a king, he just held all the leading political functions at once :).
So these assassins who killed Caesar saw themselves as heroes, they didn't think they'll be regarded as criminals and condemned but expected to be the saviours of the republic and remembered for ages to come.
Later in the revolutionary years, when e.g. french republicans were slaying king they too looked up to the legend of the very first Brutus and saw themselves not merely assassins but heroes of the people.
In the case of the very first Brutus, they swore to kill the king after he raped and killed one of his companions wife, one can definitely argue he was a heroic figure. In the case of latter wannabe Brutuses it's very clear they aimed for power consciously or subconsciously hiding behind ideals. The subsequent genocides and thefts of property like in the case of French revolution or Lenin's who even died of syphilis are just too obvious.
You know that's not what happened during the French revolution, right? Like, at all. Most representatives wanted to keep it alive after he was captured in Varennes. They wanted an English-style monarchy, with a stronger parlement
If he had not conspired against France with the Hapsburgs, and let letters proving he was actively participating in the war effort to trap and kill his own citizens (or rather subjects), the representatives would just have kept him under house arrest until the end of the Austrian, Prussian, Spanish, Italian and English aggression (they had no casus belli BTW, maybe the Austrian could justify one, but this was an illegal aggression, I refute the name of first coalition war).
And had he not done it, 'la montagne' would not have taken control of the parlement, Paris' sans culottes would not have been radicalized as much, there would have been less deaths in province. Also, he was one of the investigator of foreign aggression, so less war, less death on the battlefield.
Also, had the pope kept his army in his pants, other Italian and Iberic Nations would have too, and at most the cardinals would have taken an haircut (given the amount they stole, it was only right), and most catholic churches would suffer as much as protestant temple : nothing.
I don't know how you draw parallel between Caesar assassination and Louis XVI lawful execution.
You are naive to believe regicide was not the end goal of the revolution. Every revolution desires to destroy the previous. That's the philosophical basis. As for wanting to emulate Cromwell, as far as I know Charles I was also executed. Of course, you can't commit such act without a good excuse, how else are you going to sell it to the people but we can just speculate now. I've drawn a parallel between regicide of Tarquiniuses assassins and the murderers of lawful king of France (where by the way there is none, one can argue Lucious Brutus was a hero, nothing like the murderers of french king). You can google Brutus and french revolution and you'll see I haven't just came up with it.
Having spent some time in France it always amazed me how they so uncritically celebrate that genocide and many are even proud of it (few can tell why beyond the couple of slogans taught in schools).
You're ignorant if you think regicide was the end goal of the revolution.
Why would Barnave declare the king fleeing to Varennes was a kidnapping, with the support of the whole assembly, even the club Jacobin if it was? Wouldn't that be counterproductive? You know the archive of the assemblée constituante are now available, a d you can read the memo yourself, you do not have to believe me.
Or you can read the historian who found, read and categorized those documents, Jean Clément Martin, and you might understand that the revolution is WY more complex than that, and started under Louis XV, by Louis XV.
And also, if by genocide you mean the first coalition 'war', that's true that a lot of French died killed by unlawful war (only Austria and the Prussian had a 'valid' casus belli, and Louis XVI created it.). 300 000 total dead French, not counting the civil war nor Italian republics supporting the French. Don't know if I would call it a genocide though.
> You are naive to believe regicide was not the end goal of the revolution.
Your patronizing attitude is inappropriate, parent obviously knows more than you about the topic.
Yes, the excesses of the French Revolution were entirely caused by Louis XVI.
The lengths to which people will go to justify revolutionary slaughter are really something.
Hold up though. Russian's massacred in one day at Praga 20,000 people. That's basically the lower estimate of the death toll from 'The Terror'. Yet I don't see historians nor pundits observe such an act as deligitimizing of Tsarist Russia in the way they often see 'The Terror' as some kind of slam dunk against The French Republicans. That kind of slaughter was just one among many perpetrated by monarchies all over Europe against people who were often not even a significant threat in any real way to the perpetrating institutions. 'The Terror' on the other hand was happening at a time when the French Republic was in fact fighting for its existence. Every power in Europe wished to see it fail. There were active conspiracies to sabatoge it. There was an active rebellion in The Vendee. The revolutionary government was loaded with people brilliant and egotistical all vying for more influence. It's not paranoia if people are actually out to get you.
I'm not defending 'The Terror' but trying to place it in context. If we are going to do history in context, we have to see it much more as part-in-parcel of the circumstances surrounding it. My point is that it is sooooooo discussed even while we jot down the political violence of other powers as mete footnotes even while being more justifiable and smaller in scope than those.
TBH No one expects anything positive from Russia, a benighted Oriental tyranny that changed its outer faces, but never its brutal core.
France is home to the Enlightement, though; subsequently, they tend to be held to a higher standard of conduct.
Not what I'm saying. His death was caused by the discovery of letters proving he instigated the foreign aggressions and the slaughter of French citizen (I use your words, as most French deaths of this period of time were caused by the coalition army).
At the times, traitors were killed. He was a traitor, he was killed.
This destroyed the Kingdom of France (or was the last nail in the coffin), precipited the formation of the first French republic under pressure of Paris citizens who had been betrayed twice (at least, depending on how you count) and were becoming even more violent. Of course the first republic was violent, considering how it was created.
And BTW, you could consider the revolution ended there, with the fall of the kingdom of France, before the Vendée war and what's called 'la terreur'. Most considered at the time that the revolution ended in 1789, before the monarchy betrayed everyone (twice). Everything else was to keep the French constitution ("All men are born free and equal in rights").
You can read Jean Clément Martin if you want more details.
Lucretia, according to sources including Livy, explicitly wasn't killed. She specifically stayed alive so that she could live to tell Brutus et. al of Tarquinus's rape.
The part of their plan about "being remembered for years to come" seems to work.
I wonder if this is more of an Europe / USA / Australia / South America thing, or do people in say China / Japan / Korea / Africa / India learn about this too.
"The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome" by Michael Parenti is worth reading.
Though I don't agree with it, I can't stand this cruel imperialist.
Surprised that nobody's mentioned Mike Duncan's Storm before the Storm in this... The problems of the Republic go back a century before Caesar, at the very least.
Another series I really liked (it's a fictionalisation, but still) was Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome.
 https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/mike-duncan/the-st...  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_Rome
Yes, Caesar's death opened the field for Octavian. But Octavian was such a political genius that we can easily imagine him assuming dictatorial power after Caesar no matter how long the latter lived, and institutionalizing in substantially the same form.
Their cultural technology grew to allow them to concentrate power beyond a stable level, result, turmoil. Even the most powerful guy in the civilization could get assassinated.
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it's almost like assassinating people doesn't solve problems.
Ecept for all the times it does. Not advocating it but repression in fact works. Romam reactionaries maintianed their wealth and influence for several hundred years by stabbing anyone who challenged it.
That's not "solving problems." That's simply "maintaining the status quo in the face of opposition."
Except if you see "the problem" as ingrate agitators, it very much is "solving problems". I'm not making a moral argument for political violence. But we live in an era with a peculiar recent history and we tell ourselves a progressive story of hope, triumph of justice, rule of law and non-violence based on that recent history. But if we look more broadly at history, we see powers which endure a long time on oppression and occasional mild reform or compromise. It tells a different story which I think we should be congizant of and which should make us guard more jealously democracy and less certain of its security in moral rightnes.
People can take power and dominate you, your family and everyone you know. And the "moral arch of history" will fuck itself off for 1000 years with only a sting of martyrs to its credit.
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> Julius Caesar was neither the first nor the last leader to be assassinated in Roman history, but his is the only death that still reverberates.
The context is Roman leaders, of which Christ isn’t one. Don’t go looking for unnecessary offense.
Hah. I will delete the comment, the header was out if context
You are thinking of the death of Jesus? Yes you have a point. He was a leader in Roman history, even though he was not a Roman leader
Isn’t it strange that we still look upon the Roman Empire favorably? The basis of it was chattel slavery and genocide. They deserve to be in the same bucket as Nazi Germany.
Is there any reason to believe that it is more cruel than its contemporaries?
It was really much worse, relatively speaking.
It solidifed the transformation from Republic to Empire, much like Trump's arrest will complete America's transformation from Republic to Empire.
Read it again, makes perfect sense. Hope you're enjoying these times too!
Young Caesar 2000
When I was twelve years old
They put me on the throne
When I was twelve years old
They made me king
From the ocean south of here to the northern hemisphere
They gave me everything.
Now I'm thirteen
And no one takes me seriously
Now I'm thirteen
And they're trying to take away control
I don't know how stupid
You all think I am
But as sure as flowers grow along the western wall
Heads are gonna roll
Crafted by RajatSource Code