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Primus Pilus

The Fall of the Republic

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My apologies. I did not intend to provide an alternate viewpoint, but was instead making a comment (albeit snide) in reference to Beck in matters of history. He often relies on David Barton for the information he provides. No need to go into that any more here that the one comment, and I honestly shouldn't have done that. Sometimes temptation overrides wisdom :)

 

No problem we probably all have those urges now and then but from bitter experience I've found that it is often better not to succumb to them in a new group your meeting for the first time unless everyone is aware of the context and sometimes not even then :unsure: .

 

So glad you cleared that up although with my Legati hat on, if you haven't spotted it you may wish to note the forum guidelines here ;)

 

And BTW welcome to the fora. If you wish there is a separate forum here for introductions.

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Greetings

 

If there already is the answer to my question somewhere else in this forum, I apologize.

 

I wanted to ask

 

1)whether you feel that the Roman oligarchy/republic was worth saving

2)whether it was possible, anyway, to save it

3)had you been there, at the time, what actions you would have taken to save it

 

Occasionally, I feel that all factions, all individuals (including Caesar, Octavian, Pompey, Antony, etc) involved in the civil wars (133 to 31 BC) were hopeless and hapless victims of circumstances utterly beyond their control.

 

Thank you

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1)whether you feel that the Roman oligarchy/republic was worth saving

The Republic is always worth saving from corruption and it's fall. The reason why we doubt it, and the problem with all of history, Heidegger says, is that the Romans failed to adhere to the Greek ideal. But the SPQR itself WAS failed. In fact, it wasn't until the Age of Generals that Rome began to just plunder lands and take slaves. Before that, people were made allies, and able to join an economic empire that meant they could have all the acoutrements of civilization, instead of just their one piece. It meant peace and protection for them throughout the known world. This is how the republic and the empire was supposed to operate, for the protection of its constituent states. The other problem with Rome was that some senator at some point had decreed that people could squat on the public land, as long as they provided a tithe of food. This led to senators squatting on the land, and running giant plantations or latifundia, with slaves. This situation led to the stacking of the voting blocks in the Comita, where nobilites knew they could keep their power, because proportionally people from teh countryside had more votes than the million in the city, but with elections every year few real farmers travelled to the capital, allowing the nobilites to control the vote. But as I said, things were not always this way, and the history was later retrojected to hide these things ( T.P. Wiseman).

 

2)whether it was possible, anyway, to save it

There was a possibility to save Rome. One thought would have been to make it not mandatory to own land to serve in the military. As more and more wars of conquest depleted Rome's forces, and more and more citizens moved to the city and off the land, there were less and less people to serve in the military. Therefore, generals like Caesar and Pompey thought, why not give the land we take in conquest to our soldiers in payment? As you can imagine, this promise created a huge host that was loyal only to their commander, not the republic.

 

3)had you been there, at the time, what actions you would have taken to save it

On the first day of his consulship, in 69 BC, Cicero argued against the agrarian law and it was overturned. However, this noble and heroic action was to fall short of the mark. Without an agrarian law, Caesar and Pompey had their backs against a wall when it came to their soldiers. In a sense, they were forced to end the republic. But hapless and hopeless they were not. Each had a choice. Cicero was shocked when Pompey chose power, although the man had always been power hungry. He also warned Caesar about the impact he was making on history. Cicero himself was asked to join this triumverate and REFUSED. Instead, he did all that he could do at that point. He preserved the order that was Rome into the world's first constitution, and this book we call his Republic. If it had not been lost until the 19th century, history would look different. Cicero however, was shocked when his cohorts murdered Caesar, almost to please him, the great champion of the republic. He was horrified that Caesar could not restore the republic. The real danger, the real adder in the nest, was actually Antony. Not lured by power or forced by circumstance, his avarice, greed, and intent to destroy the republic knew no bounds, and eventually he did murder Cicero. Octavian, on the other hand, took Cicero's advice in his speech to Caesar, and transformed Rome from a city of brick to a city of marble, along the great orator's blueprints. But alas, despite his skills as a leader, or his fathers, as is outlined in theory on the succession problem, once you remove elections, his sons were despots, utterly mad many of them. Once the republic fell, it was all falling after that, and it took nearly a millenia, if not more, for humanity to evolve again out of the darkness.

 

Even if Cicero couldn't save the Republic at the time, perhaps his words can save the world now. He tried to preserve that period in human evolution, the agrarian state, for posterity, and now we are seeing another evolutionary phase in Wilber's Integral Theory of the Evolution of Consciousness, the global age, where we might all learn again how to become republics (as evidenced by the Arab Spring), and work together as a peaceful and just world empire, once again, a juridical order that, as Negri says, would not eliminate sovereignty but affirm it, as we would all be equal as states, a Hobbsean order rather than a Lockean possibility of chaos, where world peace is kept by a delicate balance of world powers or empires, as opposed to an empire without an emperor such as Rome had, and is in constant danger of world war or global destruction. So it is still worth saving the Republic, that people might know how to save the world.

 

If you're interested in these topics, you can read about the reasons for the fall of Rome in my thesis here: http://www.academia.edu/897777/State_of_Affairs_before_the_Fall_Roman_Agrarian_Legislation_in_the_Republic_of_Cicero. I hope to post a piece this weekend on the Commonwealth, and by the end of the year, 2012, on the Simulacrum and the Singularity.

 

 

Thank you for asking this question!

Edited by NeoCicero

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Also, they should have assassinated Marc Antony instead. Rather than the victim, I think he was the true villain of the story. How do others feel?

Edited by NeoCicero

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Greetings

 

If there already is the answer to my question somewhere else in this forum, I apologize.

 

I wanted to ask

 

1)whether you feel that the Roman oligarchy/republic was worth saving

The Roman oligarchy was still there in the Empire but under new management. If however do you mean was it worth putting back in charge, the answer is probably no, because they were no less self-serving than the Caesars who ordered them around, and in any case, since Julius Caesar had proven that autocratic power was possible, that there would always be ambitious members among them waiting to grab sole power in some way.

 

2)whether it was possible, anyway, to save it

As a ruling concern? It very nearly resumed control on a number of occaisions and some changes of Caesar were inspired by senatorial instigation. In fact, I would say that the julio-claudian era was a period of transition between oligarchial and autocratic power. Augustus was a sly dictator who wrested power out of their hands. Until Nero was declared 'Enemy of the State' and committed suicide, the Senate was working toward running the empire again right under the noses of the Caesars, though in fairness, some Caesars were quite happy for the assistance.

 

3)had you been there, at the time, what actions you would have taken to save it

Create a constitution which established succession and the legal limits for control of the empire. The idea that a man could be Dictator For Life (as the Caesars were) would be made illegal and fixed term offices re-introduced.

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Greetings

 

If there already is the answer to my question somewhere else in this forum, I apologize.

 

I wanted to ask

 

1)whether you feel that the Roman oligarchy/republic was worth saving

The Roman oligarchy was still there in the Empire but under new management. If however do you mean was it worth putting back in charge, the answer is probably no, because they were no less self-serving than the Caesars who ordered them around, and in any case, since Julius Caesar had proven that autocratic power was possible, that there would always be ambitious members among them waiting to grab sole power in some way.

 

2)whether it was possible, anyway, to save it

As a ruling concern? It very nearly resumed control on a number of occaisions and some changes of Caesar were inspired by senatorial instigation. In fact, I would say that the julio-claudian era was a period of transition between oligarchial and autocratic power. Augustus was a sly dictator who wrested power out of their hands. Until Nero was declared 'Enemy of the State' and committed suicide, the Senate was working toward running the empire again right under the noses of the Caesars, though in fairness, some Caesars were quite happy for the assistance.

 

3)had you been there, at the time, what actions you would have taken to save it

Create a constitution which established succession and the legal limits for control of the empire. The idea that a man could be Dictator For Life (as the Caesars were) would be made illegal and fixed term offices re-introduced.

 

It seems to me that a single Emperor cost the provincials considerably less than a whole lot of Roman politicians who had to make back their election expenses and see their families right, which would ultimately have destroyed the Empire: the Republic of the ultra-rich was anachronistic. As to constitutions, they are like the Rubicon: a barrier only to the conventional mind at a time when what mattered was the control of professional armies.

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Control of the legions was done by proxy. Legates were representing the authority of the state and the upper class. It is true that making sure these men stayed on side was a major concern. What is also true was that politics in the city of Rome were aimed at grabbing a share of both personal power and profit. Rome was an intensely competitive state - politics was no different.

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Control of the legions was done by proxy. Legates were representing the authority of the state and the upper class. It is true that making sure these men stayed on side was a major concern. What is also true was that politics in the city of Rome were aimed at grabbing a share of both personal power and profit. Rome was an intensely competitive state - politics was no different.

 

Well, the control of the legions by Pompey and Caesar doesn't seem to have been done by proxy. The system was breaking down, surely?

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Those examples are out of context. During the civil war you would expect a Roman politician aiming to be victorious to have a hands on approach - that was par for the course with the Roman upper classes - military service wasn't mandatory but it provided considerable credibility - and always had. During the earlier republic it wasn't unknown for senators to rip open a toga to reveal a war wound. "Look! I have fought for Rome!", which we can interpret as a demand for respect. Mind you, senators were a bit demonstrative during their speeches, almost theatrical performances we may well amusing today.

 

But back to the proxy business - that was what a legionary legate was. A senior Roman in charge of armed men. As for the system breaking down, well, it was a bit wobbly now and then.

Edited by caldrail

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