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M. Porcius Cato

Reforming The Republic

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But doesn't your example suggest that even 2 was 1 too many? Why not just one tribune? Seems to me that the fewer tribunes there are, the cheaper it is to corrupt them and the less likely that the office will represent the will of the citizens.

 

I think the number was OK, but I'd have liked tribunes to be elected by tribe and not necessarily in Rome. No one has mentioned it yet, but the voting system effectively excluded non-Roman Italians from their voice in the tribal assembly and that led to terrible imbalances in representation.

 

Two points on this firstly 1 tribune would have not been able to reflect conflicts in public opinion

 

Secondly there is plenty of evidence that in cases of important legislation the rural tribes turned up in force as they did for the Gracchi. The Senate was not always successful in getting rid of them. Also the voting tribes may have been made up of rural citizens but quite often enfranchisement meant that they moved to Rome and so would have been able to represent their ribes quite effectively.

 

Sullafelix

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I think the number was OK, but I'd have liked tribunes to be elected by tribe and not necessarily in Rome. No one has mentioned it yet, but the voting system effectively excluded non-Roman Italians from their voice in the tribal assembly and that led to terrible imbalances in representation.
Secondly there is plenty of evidence that in cases of important legislation the rural tribes turned up in force as they did for the Gracchi. The Senate was not always successful in getting rid of them. Also the voting tribes may have been made up of rural citizens but quite often enfranchisement meant that they moved to Rome and so would have been able to represent their ribes quite effectively.

If the rural Italians could show up so effectively, why was there so seldom even a quorum present for the votes? The problem wasn't that the rural Italians could never get to Rome, but that there was a necessary lapse in time between when the tribune could propose a vote, when elections were held, and when votes for legislation were held. The inter-legislative period was specifically designed to exclude non-Roman Italians, and it succeeded so far that they were often not present in numbers sufficient for a quorum, leading to the use of even freedmen and slaves to sit in their place. For details, I refer you to Lily Ross Taylor's book on Roman voting districts.

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More broadly, the very notion of "human maturity" is awfully dubious. Taken literally, it's absurd: there is no collective brain and so no collective learning. Metaphorically, it's also mistaken as it implies a unidirectional historical force toward progress. That kind of teleological take on history makes no sense whatever. Over time, regression is almost as likely as progress--and whether a population makes progress or not depends in very large part on government policy (e.g., whether ther is a rule of law, the right to private property, deliberative mechanisms of government finance, civilian control of the military, etc).

 

Admittedly I am speaking in very broad terms. I disagree strongly that there is not a concept of unified human understanding. Sure it is not a prevalent and direct force, but it is there nonetheless. No nation in Europe (or nowadays the entire world) was/is secluded from the lessons learned from the next nation. Stories, habits and customs bleed over to the surroundings over time. I would say that the Roman experience of Kings under the early city is entirely a different animal compared to the Imperial rule. There are many shades of tyranny, many different combinations of the same thing, one must experiment with them all before moving on to the next step like a baby putting things it finds to its mouth while crawling through the dirt.

 

Your suggestion that regression is just as likely is only true on the microscopic scale, but on the macroscopic, even a time of troubles is sometimes required to make it to the next level of understanding, and if you look back at the last 5,000 years of history I think that is abundantly clear.

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Admittedly I am speaking in very broad terms. I disagree strongly that there is not a concept of unified human understanding. Sure it is not a prevalent and direct force, but it is there nonetheless. No nation in Europe (or nowadays the entire world) was/is secluded from the lessons learned from the next nation.

If this were true, North Korea would not exist.

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Admittedly I am speaking in very broad terms. I disagree strongly that there is not a concept of unified human understanding. Sure it is not a prevalent and direct force, but it is there nonetheless. No nation in Europe (or nowadays the entire world) was/is secluded from the lessons learned from the next nation.

If this were true, North Korea would not exist.

 

Like I said, there are times and moments (or areas) of regression or retardation of advancement in a total sum of progress. Chaos is always a fundamental aspect of life, this will always be so, but still there exists a general trend.

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QUOTE(Lost_Warrior @ Jan 4 2006, 07:14 AM) *

 

In the end, it seems like the senate had very little power (as Germanicus stated) they were a puppet of, it seems everyone. The senate's power would have to be restored, first off.

 

OK--how exactly would you suggest restoring the power of the senate? Give the first man of the senate his own legion? Abolish the tribunate? What?

 

My solution seems simple enough, although I will admit that I have no experience in government and in practice it may be very difficult: Limit the power of those in control of the senate. No, not abolish, however limiting the power and therefore the influence of those who are "making puppets of" the senate will restore the senate's power.

 

QUOTE

Secondly, one major problem with the armies is that they were in competition with each other. Two generals might be able to work together if they had to, but most of the time, they were out for their own personal glory. Allowing generals to have the triumph meant that every one wanted one and it caused armies, loyal to their respective generals, to do all sorts of things they shouldn't and wouldn't usually do. Armies it seems were no longer loyal to the Senate, or even to Rome. They were loyal to their general.

 

 

Yes, I agree that that was the problem--so what was the cure? Abolish triumphs? Rotate legions among generals? Provide for all possible veteran's benefits prior to deployment (e.g., by providing future land settlements via lottery)? What exactly is your proposal for reform?

 

Rotating legions would not be a good idea, simply because a legion "gets used to" a certain general and would likely resent such treatment. Loyalty to a general is not a problem if the legions are still loyal to Rome as well. The problem came when the legions became loyal only to the general. I would say, find a way to increase the legions' loyalty to the state as well. This could be done in a number of ways. Stricter control over the entire military system by the senate (well, in this case, what's left of it) is necessary, but does little to actually increase loyalty. Instead, it handles the problem of the wayward generals. In order to increase the loyalty to Rome it would first have to be discerned what exactly is making the men disloyal to the state. Those problems could then have been addressed. It could be something as simple as better rations, on increased wages, which would boost morale.

 

As for the triumphs, wasn't it at one point more restricted? I know that at first, at least, not every general was even allowed to have a triumph. Later, however, any general who had "earned" it, could get one. Though it seems to me that these generals did things that they should NOT have been rewarded for. Maybe that is the problem. Generals being given the greatest honor for doing things that they most likely should have been punished for.

Edited by Lost_Warrior

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My solution seems simple enough, although I will admit that I have no experience in government and in practice it may be very difficult: Limit the power of those in control of the senate. No, not abolish, however limiting the power and therefore the influence of those who are "making puppets of" the senate will restore the senate's power.

So, your suggestion would be, perhaps, to limit tribunician power?

 

Armies it seems were no longer loyal to the Senate, or even to Rome. They were loyal to their general.
Yes, I agree that that was the problem--so what was the cure?

I would say, find a way to increase the legions' loyalty to the state as well. This could be done in a number of ways. Stricter control over the entire military system by the senate (well, in this case, what's left of it) is necessary, but does little to actually increase loyalty. Instead, it handles the problem of the wayward generals. In order to increase the loyalty to Rome it would first have to be discerned what exactly is making the men disloyal to the state. Those problems could then have been addressed. It could be something as simple as better rations, on increased wages, which would boost morale.

Hmmmm.... I'm not so sure increasing wages alone would increase loyalty to the republic itself. After all, if the legions come home to find that their farms are in disarray and that their farms on depleted Italian soil can't compete with the newly conquered provincial farms, wouldn't they be loyal to whomever can win them another farm? Since this was normally their general, legionnaries would still have their primary loyalty to their general. Your overall strategy seems right, but it seems to me that standardizing veteran's benefits across generals removes the economic motivation for putting general over state.

 

As for the triumphs, wasn't it at one point more restricted? I know that at first, at least, not every general was even allowed to have a triumph. Later, however, any general who had "earned" it, could get one. Though it seems to me that these generals did things that they should NOT have been rewarded for. Maybe that is the problem. Generals being given the greatest honor for doing things that they most likely should have been punished for.

I agree completely, but here again we face the problem of how to prosecute generals who did things they should not have been rewarded for (see the Gallic Wars thread for my argument why Caesar--for one-- should have faced trial). How can you prosecute a general who has several legions at his disposal? Perhaps they should have had a military court?

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How can you prosecute a general who has several legions at his disposal? Perhaps they should have had a military court?

 

Sadly, they are just as easily open to bribery and corruption like the tribunes who take Caesar's side. So I doubt that should be considered.

Edited by FLavius Valerius Constantinus

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How can you prosecute a general who has several legions at his disposal? Perhaps they should have had a military court?

 

But again, if Soldier loyalty could be to the Senate and People, rather than an individual general, you wouldn't need a military court. It also seems that even if the Senate gave assurance to soldiers based on service, a general would just outdo them if he wanted to buy loyalty.

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How can you prosecute a general who has several legions at his disposal? Perhaps they should have had a military court?

 

But again, if Soldier loyalty could be to the Senate and People, rather than an individual general, you wouldn't need a military court. It also seems that even if the Senate gave assurance to soldiers based on service, a general would just outdo them if he wanted to buy loyalty.

Good point. Perhaps the only check on an ambitious general is another ambitious general (or two or three).

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QUOTE(Lost_Warrior @ Jan 4 2006, 08:22 PM) *

My solution seems simple enough, although I will admit that I have no experience in government and in practice it may be very difficult: Limit the power of those in control of the senate. No, not abolish, however limiting the power and therefore the influence of those who are "making puppets of" the senate will restore the senate's power.

 

So, your suggestion would be, perhaps, to limit tribunician power?

 

Yes, that would probably strengthen the Senate.

 

Hmmmm.... I'm not so sure increasing wages alone would increase loyalty to the republic itself. After all, if the legions come home to find that their farms are in disarray and that their farms on depleted Italian soil can't compete with the newly conquered provincial farms, wouldn't they be loyal to whomever can win them another farm? Since this was normally their general, legionnaries would still have their primary loyalty to their general. Your overall strategy seems right, but it seems to me that standardizing veteran's benefits across generals removes the economic motivation for putting general over state.

 

I was simply using the wages as a hypothetical example. What I meant was, find out what it is that is making the men unhappy with the State, and change it.

 

Good point. Perhaps the only check on an ambitious general is another ambitious general (or two or three).

 

lol maybe. It seems to me, though, that the Republic *could* have been saved, but it would basically involve going back to the way things had been in the past, when the Republic was strong. That wouldn't be a good idea on so many levels (for one thing, the Roman "empire" would not be able to become as large or as strong, and would probably have gotten it's butt kicked long ago. Not to mention undoing many of the reforms, limiting the Tribune's power, etc would be NOT good for the people, IMO). It could have been saved, but Rome would not have become what it was had the Republic continued.

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How can you prosecute a general who has several legions at his disposal? Perhaps they should have had a military court?

But again, if Soldier loyalty could be to the Senate and People, rather than an individual general, you wouldn't need a military court. It also seems that even if the Senate gave assurance to soldiers based on service, a general would just outdo them if he wanted to buy loyalty.

So how would you increase soldier loyalty to the Senate and People of Rome?

 

It's interesting that even in Caesar's army, there were those who abandoned him when he crossed the Rubicon. Were there any similar desertions when Sulla marched on Rome? This might provide a clue as to what reforms might work.

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Were there any similar desertions when Sulla marched on Rome? This might provide a clue as to what reforms might work.

 

Absolutely.. according to Appian all but one quaestor abandoned Sulla. Plutarch unfortunately mentions nothing of it however.

 

Appian, The Civil Wars, Book 3

When Sulla heard of this (the transfer of his eastern command to Marius... PP) he resolved to decide the question by war, and called the army together to a conference. They were eager for the war against Mithridates because it promised much plunder, and they feared that Marius would enlist other soldiers instead of themselves. Sulla spoke of the indignity put upon him by Sulpicius and Marius, and while he did not openly allude to anything else (for he did not dare as yet to mention this sort of war), he urged them to be ready to obey his orders. They understood what he meant, and as they feared lest they should miss the campaign they uttered boldly what Sulla had in mind, and told him to be of good courage, and to lead them to Rome. Sulla was overjoyed and led six legions thither forthwith; but all his superior officers, except one quaestor, left him and fled to the city, because they would not submit to the idea of leading an army against their country. Envoys met him on the road and asked him why he was marching with armed forces against his country. "To deliver her from tyrants," he replied.

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Admittedly I am speaking in very broad terms. I disagree strongly that there is not a concept of unified human understanding. Sure it is not a prevalent and direct force, but it is there nonetheless. No nation in Europe (or nowadays the entire world) was/is secluded from the lessons learned from the next nation.

If this were true, North Korea would not exist.

 

Ahhh but what if one of these lessons of unified understanding is that a totalitarian disctatorship can violate intellectual property rights of individuals in a free market, use slave labor to produce the results and then sell it back to them at a smashing profit?

 

LOL sorry, off topic

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It's interesting that in both Caesar's and Sulla's marches on Rome, it was only the officers who deserted. Perhaps if junior officers had greater collective power, they might prevent rebellion. I'm not saying that junior officers are always right (in American history, it was a group of junior officers who attempted to make George Washington king), but they might raise the cost of rebellion somewhat. Alternatively, if junior officers had greater authority among their legionnaries , they might also prevent a rebellion. Ideas?

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