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Did Caesar Ultimately

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My opening paragraph was just to say that I am alone on this subject with respect to my opinion and I do however realize that my fellow forum contributors all tend to have recieved formal training. I naturally thought perhaps this was a topic taught predominantly from one mindset. As for winning respect or freindship, well, every good discussion needs an antagonist. As for the modern politics I was merely showing that there are trends in politics that never change and refering me to an afterhours lounge I find quite condescending.

 

It may interest you to know Tribunician power, that many forum contributors - I'd say the majority in fact, do not have any formal training in the Ancient History area, myself included. They are generally well read though, and are not regurgitating taught opinions - but their own.

 

With regard to your final comment, you shouldn't feel Ursus is being condescending, he just knows how often threads can move from discussions about Ancient Rome, to discussions about modern politics, which do belong in the afterhours forum.

 

Regards

Germanicus

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I did not say that there were not struggles between the classes nor did I say that the populares were being treated as well as they should have been. I said that their republican system appeared good on paper but was incapable of dealing with these problems and that was not the fault of the optimates. Furthermore I was speaking more specifically of the optimates in power just prior to the fall. It is impossible to change a government already in effect without violence or the threat there of. I must ask you though, if you believed the goals of the Catilline conspiracists to be logical solutions for easing the burden on the populares.

 

The system was shown capable of dealing with problems in the past , the fault lies primarily with the optimates that the system fell apart. I briefly outlined the historical struggle so you could understand that the system was a constantly changing process rather than a static one, it wasn

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I blame the fall of the Republic on the Plebs, who bastardized the original system in the first place and added their own version of instability known as the Tribune veto. :)

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Your joking right, seriously. I suppose its a common theme in the fall of any great empire. The rich and fortunate abuse the public, the public start up a rebellion only to be drenched in their own blood(not always the case) because they were not strong enough yet to bring down an empire, but the hatred last only to truely implode one day that will bring demise to everyone part of the infrastructure.

Note: that was 100% opinion, nothing to be considered.

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My opening paragraph was just to say that I am alone on this subject with respect to my opinion and I do however realize that my fellow forum contributors all tend to have recieved formal training.

 

As I said, you are making questionable assumptions. I believe there are only a handfull of people here who hold formal academic degrees in classics or history. Most of us are nothing but fairly well-read amateurs when it comes to the subject.

 

 

As for winning respect or freindship, well, every good discussion needs an antagonist.

 

Debate is encouraged. Antagonistic behavior per se is not.

 

 

refering me to an afterhours lounge I find quite condescending.

 

As a matter of course, off topic threads are diverted to the afterhours lounge. As you are recent to the forums you may not be aware of all the policies. My statement was merely to clarify the normal lay of affairs.

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I always had the feeling that he was pandering to the populous. He certainly gained strength by winning over the plebes. Every man he promoted to senatorial rank was a potential ally.

 

Exactly right. The system of patronage that Caesar mastered--like any common ward heeler--was not based on delivering good government, providing for the common defence of Rome and her allies, and on rooting out corruption, but based instead on delivering free bread and circuses to potential voters.

 

As the data indicate, this early welfare state brought parasites scurrying from all over the Mediterranean to the banks of the Tiber. In Rome, the poor--having been fed Egyptian grain--were then fed themselves to the military beast fathered by Marius to then be buried by Caesar--buried in Gaul, in Pharsalus, and in Utica. And buried with them was a fortune that could have been used by the equites to invest in modernising Rome, in securing new trade, and in generating employment for the poor and middle-class.

 

Populares like Catiline, Clodius, and Caesar were happy to SPEAK for the poor, but their economic agenda--cancellation of debts, seizure and redistribution of land, massive public works--are the kinds of programs that we today associate with thugs like Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Pol Pot in Cambodia, and Stalin in Soviet Russia. Note that these modern-day Caesars, too, CLAIM to speak on behalf of the poor, all the while leaving the poor in conditions more wretched than they had ever experienced previously.

 

I don't know where others derive their admiration for Cato, but mine certainly doesn't come from Addison's play (which I've never read) nor the Cato Institute's moniker (which comes from the pseudonym of the early American anti-federalists not my name-sake), but from the plain fact that Cato stood against the two forces pulling the Republic apart--first, corruption and second, hypocritical aristocrats such as Caesar who, like a pimp advertising his whores, truck out the misery of the poor for their own power-lust. Frankly, there seems to be something telling about the fact that Washington admired Cato, whereas Napoleon and Bismarck loved Caesar.

 

Whatever Caesar's feelings about the poor, however, no enemy of the republic is a true friend of anyone outside the aristocracy. By commencing an illegal war, slaughtering senators, hand-picking their replacements, and assuming life-long dictatorial powers, Caesar chose power. In the end, Caesar wasn't busy planning for public works as in the HBO series, or engaging scholarly symposia on constitutional reform, but was instead scrounging up capital for his next military adventure. What could be clearer? Caesar chose to wrest control from the senate and people of Rome merely for the sake of his own power and fame.

 

For a lifetime of sacrificing the interest of Rome to his own vanity and power-lust, Caesar deserves the blame for setting Rome on the road of collapse. In my opinion, Caesar couldn't be stabbed enough.

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As the data indicate, this early welfare state brought parasites scurrying from all over the Mediterranean to the banks of the Tiber. In Rome, the poor--having been fed Egyptian grain--were then fed themselves to the military beast fathered by Marius to then be buried by Caesar--buried in Gaul, in Pharsalus, and in Utica. And buried with them was a fortune that could have been used by the equites to invest in modernising Rome, in securing new trade, and in generating employment for the poor and middle-class.

 

Part of the reform laws included forcing a percentage of the workforce be free labor rather than all slave. The "welfare state" was a large part a creation of the optimates who drove people from public lands in the great consolidations into slave estates of the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, consolidations that wouldn't have happened and handouts that wouldn't have been needed had laws pushed through by tribunes like the lex agraria been upheld.

 

Populares like Catiline, Clodius, and Caesar were happy to SPEAK for the poor, but their economic agenda--cancellation of debts, seizure and redistribution of land, massive public works--are the kinds of programs that we today associate with thugs like Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Pol Pot in Cambodia, and Stalin in Soviet Russia. Note that these modern-day Caesars, too, CLAIM to speak on behalf of the poor, all the while leaving the poor in conditions more wretched than they had ever experienced previously.

 

False comparisons, they are the products of revolution and upheavals of the old order. My period of specialization is the Stalinist purges of the '30s, the linkages are tenous at best. Before the murder of the Gracchi, the move for reforms was a political struggle that often led to bloodshed but not outright revolution. Further a majority of the land in question was public land-- not private-- leased in huge lots by the Senate to their own rather than distributed among the citizenry. Public leases that over time became the personal property of the leasee then owner.

 

As I've stated in other posts, the struggle for reform was, until the murder of the Gracchi, a study of compromise between the Senate and the populares.

 

I don't know where others derive their admiration for Cato, but mine certainly doesn't come from Addison's play (which I've never read) nor the Cato Institute's moniker (which comes from the pseudonym of the early American anti-federalists not my name-sake), but from the plain fact that Cato stood against the two forces pulling the Republic apart--first, corruption and second, hypocritical aristocrats such as Caesar who, like a pimp advertising his whores, truck out the misery of the poor for their own power-lust. Frankly, there seems to be something telling about the fact that Washington admired Cato, whereas Napoleon and Bismarck loved Caesar.

 

No one reads the play today, the point was the admiration for him was an artifical construct devoid of contact with reality that enjoyed propagaton for years. Of course Washington admired Cato, the point was he and the Federalist authors were the sort of audience it was directed towards and the play was popular among them, hence same Cato that the Federalist authors named themselves for.

 

Cato was the Church-Lady of the Republic who was more interested in preserving the status quo for his public which consisted of the optimates, who denied returned legions land for their service, who let personal animus overcome any need for compromise and a hypocrite for whom the Roman laws were "flexible" when he needed to execute Roman citizens or justify the murder of a tribune of the people. He wasn't above some questionable practices in his own personal life, divorcing his wife out to Hortensius, a rich old man, waiting for him to die and then remarrying her with his fortune.

 

But yes, he was fiscally honest.

 

Whatever Caesar's feelings about the poor, however, no enemy of the republic is a true friend of anyone outside the aristocracy. By commencing an illegal war, slaughtering senators, hand-picking their replacements, and assuming life-long dictatorial powers, Caesar chose power. In the end, Caesar wasn't busy planning for public works as in the HBO series, or engaging scholarly symposia on constitutional reform, but was instead scrounging up capital for his next military adventure. What could be clearer? Caesar chose to wrest control from the senate and people of Rome merely for the sake of his own power and fame.

 

I explained the strategic and political issues that influenced the Gallic War, issues that any governor would have had to respond to and you made no mention the fact that Cato was gunning for him through personal spite. I'm not sure what your sources are, but there was no slaughter of Senators outside the battlefields that Cato and Co. were equally culpable for in the conflict.

 

Your statement is also incorrect concerning public works; the Curia Julia, the Campus Martius, a new Senate House, draining the Pontine marshes and constructing a canal through the ismus of Corinth were just some of several projects JC pushed forth.

 

For a lifetime of sacrificing the interest of Rome to his own vanity and power-lust, Caesar deserves the blame for setting Rome on the road of collapse. In my opinion, Caesar couldn't be stabbed enough.

 

As opposed laying part of the blame at sacrificing the interest of the Roman citizenry by maintaining the political and economic power of a few families, concentrating public lands in their own hands, driving landowners off other lands, murdering representatives of the populares and limiting the voting franchise?

 

The road to collapse began two generations before with the murder of the Gracchi, the struggle between Marius and Sulla, Sulla's dictatorship and end of the great compromises between populares and optimates that occured with the Struggle of the Orders.

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Part of the reform laws included forcing a percentage of the workforce be free labor rather than all slave. The "welfare state" was a large part a creation of the optimates who drove people from public lands in the great consolidations into slave estates of the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, consolidations that wouldn't have happened and handouts that wouldn't have been needed had laws pushed through by tribunes like the lex agraria been upheld.

 

The lex agraria (or any measure promoting tenant farming over the use of chattel slavery) would have helped to increase the supply the grain, but the Gracchan lex frumentaria--which set the price of grain at below-market rates--would have been crippling to the remaining private Italian farmers who depended on Roman sales for their livelihood. After the Gracchi, the lex frumentaria would subsequently provide a dole and a political bribe, as I originally maintained.

 

Moreover, the blame for the failure of the lex agraria falls as much to the political incompetence of the Gracchi as to conservatism on the part of the Senate. The wisdom of the lex agraria was a debatable issue, and Tiberius Gracchus should have brought it before a deliberative body like the Senate rather than to the Popular Assembly. Even his friend and fellow-tribune M. Octavius agreed that the bill belonged in the Senate, which is why he unexpectedly vetoed the bill in the Conicilium Plebis. Tiberius' stubborn insistence on forcing the bill down the throats of the nobiles was a fatal mistake that undercut any sympathy Senators may have had for the bill.

 

Populares like Catiline, Clodius, and Caesar were happy to SPEAK for the poor, but their economic agenda--cancellation of debts, seizure and redistribution of land, massive public works--are the kinds of programs that we today associate with thugs like Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Pol Pot in Cambodia, and Stalin in Soviet Russia. Note that these modern-day Caesars, too, CLAIM to speak on behalf of the poor, all the while leaving the poor in conditions more wretched than they had ever experienced previously.

 

False comparisons, they are the products of revolution and upheavals of the old order. My period of specialization is the Stalinist purges of the '30s, the linkages are tenous at best. Before the murder of the Gracchi, the move for reforms was a political struggle that often led to bloodshed but not outright revolution. Further a majority of the land in question was public land-- not private-- leased in huge lots by the Senate to their own rather than distributed among the citizenry. Public leases that over time became the personal property of the leasee then owner.

 

The Catilinarian program made no distinction between purchased land and property that had passed from public ownership to private property. Thus, the comparison of Catiline, Clodius and Caesar--post-Gracchan revolutionaries, and I was quite clear that I was talking about the post-Gracchan program--to Mugabe et al was perfect. The program of Catiline and his poor aristocratic friends--like the agrarian programs of Mugabe, Stalin, and Pol Pot--were simply land-grabs for political spoils. The aims, like the means, were also identical--to starve the opposition (white farmers, kulaks, intellectuals, respectively) and to reward political and military allies.

 

Of course Washington admired Cato, the point was he and the Federalist authors were the sort of audience it was directed towards and the play was popular among them, hence same Cato that the Federalist authors named themselves for.

 

You're missing the early American political scene entirely. Hamilton, the Federalist, signed his letters "Caesar" (supposedly tongue-in-cheek). ANTI-federalists, such as Yates and Clinton, signed their letters "Brutus" and "Cato" (without any sense of irony). Washington was a Federalist, and so he would have been dismayed to see his hero's name attached to the anti-Federalist cause. My point is that Addison's play may help to explain why some libertarians admired Cato, but how do you explain why statists like Hamilton, Napoleon, and Bismarck admired Caesar?

 

I explained the strategic and political issues that influenced the Gallic War, issues that any governor would have had to respond to and you made no mention the fact that Cato was gunning for him through personal spite. ... Your statement is also incorrect concerning public works; the Curia Julia, the Campus Martius, a new Senate House, draining the Pontine marshes and constructing a canal through the ismus of Corinth were just some of several projects JC pushed forth.

 

If adultery, power-lust, corruption, political murder, and genocide are not sufficient to justify "personal spite", I don't know what would! We clearly disagree about the propriety of Caesar's governorship in Gaul, and I'd suggest we start a new thread to discuss the matter, as I'm happy to be persuaded otherwise.

 

I'm also happy to admit that Caesar used public works as well as military campaigns to reward his cronies (again like Bismarck), but my original point stands--these works would do nothing in the long-run to alleviate the suffering of the poor. After private capital had been diverted from more worthwhile projects and the Curia Julia was constructed, what benefit could possibly accrue to the landless poor? The draining of the Pontine marshes and the Corinthian canal may have been worthwhile ventures, but the resulting decrease in available capital would have sent already sky-high interest rates soaring--how could that benefit the debt-addled poor? There is, of course, no way of knowing whether these were actually sound proposals or not because there is no record of their ever having been debated. There was no debate on the proposals because the men of ability who might have raised any intelligent questions about them had been killed by Caesar so he needn't be bothered with such 'obstinancy', 'delay', and, um, thinking.

 

The road to collapse began two generations before with the murder of the Gracchi, the struggle between Marius and Sulla, Sulla's dictatorship and end of the great compromises between populares and optimates that occured with the Struggle of the Orders.

 

On this point, I agree entirely.

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Arguments for either side are being presented well, but I do take issue once again with the use of the term genocide to describe Caesar's Gallic war. The term by definition is incorrect, and is used only to sensationalize the argument.

 

The Gallic War may have been many things, including an opportunistic chance for Caesar to increase his own wealth and dignitas, but it was not genocide by definition. His goal was not to destroy the Gallic and Britannic Celts or the Germanic tribes of the Rhenus. Had they submitted to his will (which can however easily speak for his ambitions), there would have been little reason for the casualties associated with military warfare and the punitive death of civilians. While we can look at the events and call Caesar's tactics brutal, which they were, we must understand his ultimate goal.

 

Understanding that his original intention seems to have been a campaign to subjugate various Illyrian tribes, one can see that Caesar just wanted to lead an army to military glory, anywhere and against anyone. If Caesar had been granted his proconsular command in another part of the Roman world (in Africa or the east for example), you can be sure he would've found a way to begin a campaign of conquest despite the lack of Celtic presence. As the Helvetii and associated circumstances provided an easier path to that glory, Caesar jumped (probably with complete and unadulterated joy and excitement) at the opportunity. Had the Celts not resisted (not that one can assign blame for resistance) and had they deferred to Caesar's will after the defeat of the Helvetii the Gauls would have been incorporated into the growing Empire without major incident, as the surviving tribes and allies of Caesar eventually were anyway. Had Caesar desired their destruction, then there would've been no point in extending the Romanization to any of the Celts, and systematic destruction that ended after the 'war' would've continued indefinately beyond the defeat of Vercingetorix and the wide spread rebellion.

 

These events as genocide don't compare to various major genocidal events that are easily identifiable especially in the 20th century, where the destruction of an ethnicity, race or religious group was the aim. Caesar's goal was conquest and subjugation, not ultimate destruction. Whether we agree with his tactics, his ideals or his results, I will always maintain that his actions were not genocide despite the great number of associated deaths. I understand that this is a fine line and one can argue that Caesar did indeed punish the most resistant enemy tribes with complete annhiliation or enslavement. However, these were actions that were punitive in nature (yes, also understanding that he forced them to choose resistance or acceptance), designed not only as retribution for resistance, but to serve as a warning to others. Why give such a warning if the goal is to destroy or eliminate everyone? Conquest by its very nature can be brutal and consuming, but does not necessarily equate to the goals associated with genocide.

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The lex agraria (or any measure promoting tenant farming over the use of chattel slavery) would have helped to increase the supply the grain, but the Gracchan lex frumentaria--which set the price of grain at below-market rates--would have been crippling to the remaining private Italian farmers who depended on Roman sales for their livelihood. After the Gracchi, the lex frumentaria would subsequently provide a dole and a political bribe, as I originally maintained.

 

Lex frumentaria is the price for grain paid by populares to the state not the farmer. The lex agrarian also limited the use of public lands to a specific amount of land per person to keep large concentrations of land from going to the optimates, which is what finally happened anyway. Be that as it may, the adjustment of agricultural prices to reflect market realities and the subsidy of prices is a damn better set of problems to face than the raping of public lands by the optimates marginalizing of hundreds of thousands of the populace into landlessness.

 

Moreover, the blame for the failure of the lex agraria falls as much to the political incompetence of the Gracchi as to conservatism on the part of the Senate. The wisdom of the lex agraria was a debatable issue, and Tiberius Gracchus should have brought it before a deliberative body like the Senate rather than to the Popular Assembly. Even his friend and fellow-tribune M. Octavius agreed that the bill belonged in the Senate, which is why he unexpectedly vetoed the bill in the Conicilium Plebis. Tiberius' stubborn insistence on forcing the bill down the throats of the nobiles was a fatal mistake that undercut any sympathy Senators may have had for the bill.

 

Whatever the validity of criticism of how he went about it, it wasn

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Arguments for either side are being presented well, but I do take issue once again with the use of the term genocide to describe Caesar's Gallic war. The term by definition is incorrect, and is used only to sensationalize the argument.

 

OK--you got me. Against the men, women, and children of Gaul, Caesar was merely guilty of stealing, enslaving, beheading, crucifying, torturing, or plain slaughtering thousands upon thousands of innocents, people who posed no threat to Rome whatever, who paid taxes, who engaged in trade, and who were very often baited into opposing her. Caesar's decision that the Gallic tribes could never govern themselves peacably certainly sounds like the opinion of a racist, but technically Caesar was not guilty of genocide.

 

I should also mention that among the conquering nations of the ancient world, Roman conquest (even under Caesar) brought more benefits than brought by other conquerors.

 

Still...Caesar was a very bad man.

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Blaming the oligarchy for the fall of the republic must be something they teach you guys in college.

 

I'm a bit late to reply to this, but i will anyway :)

Mate, i am 16 years old; all the knowledge i have of the Roman History is gained from reading and taking in the opinions of all people i respect on this website. From the knowledge i have, i have come the conclusion myself, without college training, that the Oligarchy, the Boni, the Optimiates, (whatever you wish to call them) of Caesar's time were the worst thing that happened to the Republic. Staunchly opposed to any reform that threatened them or sometimes that didn't, they were far worse then Caesar, as they were preventing people of intelligence from helping the Republic move forward. Yes Caesar may have been extremely ambitious, but what distinguished person in history wasn't ambitious at some point in their life?

I can only quote Antony from Shakespeare in saying "Yet Brutus said he (Caesar) was ambitious, and Brutus is an honourable man" :lol:

Still...Caesar was a very bad man.

With that reasoning, one could say that the many fathers of independence or advancement of nations (i.e. George Washington, Henry Parkes etc etc, can't honestly think of any more right now :) ) were bad men.

Cato, it is perhaps obvious on who's side you would have been back in the ancient Republic :lol:

Edited by Tobias

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Arguments for either side are being presented well, but I do take issue once again with the use of the term genocide to describe Caesar's Gallic war. The term by definition is incorrect, and is used only to sensationalize the argument.

 

OK--you got me. Against the men, women, and children of Gaul, Caesar was merely guilty of stealing, enslaving, beheading, crucifying, torturing, or plain slaughtering thousands upon thousands of innocents, people who posed no threat to Rome whatever, who paid taxes, who engaged in trade, and who were very often baited into opposing her. Caesar's decision that the Gallic tribes could never govern themselves peacably certainly sounds like the opinion of a racist, but technically Caesar was not guilty of genocide.

 

I should also mention that among the conquering nations of the ancient world, Roman conquest (even under Caesar) brought more benefits than brought by other conquerors.

 

Still...Caesar was a very bad man.

 

Indeed slaughter and conquest in the name of Rome and its greater glory was acceptable to most ancient people and in most cases revered and encouraged. Even the optimates were not so opposed to the Gallic War on a human rights basis, but for reasons made up entirely of law and politics. At any rate, I'll leave you guys to your political debate.

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We clearly disagree about the propriety of Caesar's governorship in Gaul, and I'd suggest we start a new thread to discuss the matter, as I'm happy to be persuaded otherwise.

 

Kindly start this thread Cato, I'm sure it will become a hot topic.

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As your reffered to me in your reply; i feel it is compulsory that i reply:

 

I didn't open this topic trying to discredit Caesar and i apologise if thats the view you received yet everyone has an oppinion and as i partly blamed Caesar naturally my argument would tend more to the negative side however i expected to be disputed but please do not try to discredit me by saying that when i start this thread it was one sided.

 

Thanks

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