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M. Porcius Cato

Reforming The Republic

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I look forward to reading it. I've always had the sense that Sulla might be the victim of Caesarian propaganda. Not to excuse Sulla, but he did put out a hit on Caesar and Caesar had a great PR machine (good enough to have him declared a god, by Jove!)

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I look forward to reading it. I've always had the sense that Sulla might be the victim of Caesarian propaganda. Not to excuse Sulla, but he did put out a hit on Caesar and Caesar had a great PR machine (good enough to have him declared a god, by Jove!)

 

Caesar was interested in re-establishing the legacy of Marius after Sulla essentially erased his public image, but I've never really had the impression from the ancients that Caesar was very concerned about Sulla. Obviously Caesar's inclusion on the proscription roles and later refusal of the dictators divorce order make for a dramatic part of Caesar's character, but once Caesar went east, there seems to have been little conflict. Of course, he wisely stayed in Asia until Sulla's death, but there isn't really any surviving written accounts that terribly slander Sulla in favor of Caesar.

 

Consider that the main sources... Plutarch (c. 45 - 125 AD) and Appian (c. 95 - 165 AD) lived and wrote long after Caesar, and actually used a great deal of Sulla's own words as source material. Appian for example, whose account of the Civil War era is perhaps the most important of any of the ancient sources come across as quite neutral. His description of the proscriptions of the second triumvirate certainly wouldn't make one think all that highly of Octavian. Add Livy to the mix (who's value in this time period is admittedly weak) and there is another ancient source who was known for having Republican leanings. Sulla's separation by a generation from the immediate timetable of events surrounding Caesar and the fall of the Republic probably shielded him a bit. While Sulla was decidely anti-populares and anti-Marius, it didn't make him beloved by the opposition and therefore not really a target for the Caesarians. Its not like Cato was running around extolling the great times under Sulla. Certainly he was hit residually by Caesar's pro-Marius campaign, but as the political agenda grew, I get the impression that Sulla was largely just remembered for what he was.

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Thanks Primus--that was useful information. Again, look forward to learning more about Sulla's career than I could learn from Plutarch, who seems to present as much as he can, as honestly as possible, but without a modern sensibility that's difficult to pin down. Empiricism I think it is.

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Firstly, I would like to address your use of the word Senate and Lex in the same sentence. Res Publica literally means "public thing" as I have previously stated in this or another thread. The Senate did not pass laws end of story. The Roman Senate was a deliberative body, and did not possess legislative or judicial powers. Laws were put to the people in the Concilium Plebis and the laws passed here were called Plebiscitia and were binding on ALL citizens.

They just needed more time to finish. Unfortunately, their work was cut short by a tyrant, and the tyrannicides couldn't quite defeat the tyrant's princelings.

I would like you to clarify this statement for the record please. The use of the word Tyrant. Do you mean this in the modern connotation or the ancient greek word for sole ruler?

within a republic, you need a real political party.

I, and am sure many others have fallen into this trap. It is easy and perhaps natural for us to apply our modern sensibilities and experiences to our studies. However, I have learned to some extent to distance myself from this "habit" and urge you and others to try also. It is a necessary step if you desire to benefit from your studies. The concept of a political party to the romans would be as alien to them as not having them would be to us. Roman politics was nothing more than a system of temporary alliances. Alliances formed to advance a common cause then the alliance was disintegrated.

In regard to Sulla

I call him a power-grabber because he grabbed power and bathed in the blood of his adversaries.

True, he was a power grabber. But there again, he was a champion of that body of morons your namesake championed. Bathed in blood? Nah. You've fallen into the trap ancient disinfomation. Sulla was no more bathed in blood than was the senate during the Gracchan killings. Look up the numbers, they're actually quite small when you consider that Rome was at this time a city of perhaps 750,000. Sulla was guilty of nothing more than not reigning in his lieutenants and letting the system of proscriptions be abused. Something the emperor Tiberius would be later condemned for (Sejanus).

Edited by P.Clodius

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Firstly, I would like to address your use of the word Senate and Lex in the same sentence.

Yes, I realize the senate did not pass laws. I thought I was careful not to imply otherwise, for example, by using more generic terms such as "legislators", but if I slipped someplace--thanks for the correction. I don't think it changes the substance of my post--which is that many of the reforms that were needed were passed and that the republican ruling class was not resistant to change as has been commonly alleged (e.g., by Sallust and by previous posters). In support of this claim, I cited about a dozen laws sampled from the major categories of reform that had been mentioned in this thread.

 

They just needed more time to finish. Unfortunately, their work was cut short by a tyrant, and the tyrannicides couldn't quite defeat the tyrant's princelings.

I would like you to clarify this statement for the record please. The use of the word Tyrant. Do you mean this in the modern connotation or the ancient greek word for sole ruler?

The latter as my primary meaning, but I fully intended the modern connotation (if not denotation).

 

The concept of a political party to the romans would be as alien to them as not having them would be to us. Roman politics was nothing more than a system of temporary alliances.

Clodius, I'd warmly invite you to read my original post. I said exactly the same thing--the 'optimates' and 'populares' were "party-like" but NOT real political parties in the modern sense. The latter, I said, would be able to pass a wide-ranging political agenda without a strong-man, and while the 'amicita' or 'factiones' (as they were generally called) seemed to be evolving in the direction of a modern political party, they weren't there yet.

 

In regard to Sulla I call him a power-grabber because he grabbed power and bathed in the blood of his adversaries.

True, he was a power grabber. But there again, he was a champion of that body of morons your namesake championed. Bathed in blood? Nah. You've fallen into the trap ancient disinfomation. Sulla was no more bathed in blood than was the senate during the Gracchan killings. Look up the numbers, they're actually quite small when you consider that Rome was at this time a city of perhaps 750,000. Sulla was guilty of nothing more than not reigning in his lieutenants and letting the system of proscriptions be abused. Something the emperor Tiberius would be later condemned for (Sejanus).

Couldn't resist a swipe at the senatorial families could you? I'd say your characterization of the senate is as much a product of ancient misinformation as my characterization of Sulla. Being a dictator, Sulla's failure to reign in his lieutenants (Pompey included), makes him complicit. And I'd lay the same charge at Tiberius' doorstep for the same reason.

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