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Julius Caesar.. Good And Bad Points

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He used the political system and various magistracies (including that of Pontifex Maximus) to secure himself from debt and prosecutions to bitter rivals.

 

Didn't Caesar's campaign for Pontifex Maximus put him so far in debt (from bribing people to vote him the priesthood!) that Crassus had to bail him out? Caesar only got out of his debt to Crassus (830 talents, or about 1/8 of Crassus' wealth) by pillaging the wealthy villages of Hispania Ulterior.

 

Now I don't mean to suggest that Caesar rushed off to Hispania Ulterior (illegally I might add) merely out of concern for paying his debts: the only time he was concerned about money-lenders was when he needed them himself. No, Caesar was in a hurry to get out of town because his wife and buddy Clodius had just been up to, er, some sort of funny business :rolleyes: during the sacred rites to Bona Dea. Yeah, that Caesar sure was a master politician--when his allies couldn't control themsleves, he simply ran away. Masterful.

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if he refused her he wouldn't be a real man.

 

I want to respond.....but it's not thread related. I'll just quietly hope that everyone knows the mark of a real man is actually self control.

 

I am merely pointing out that if Caesar's only negative points are that he is a murderor and likes to sleep around, then we have to agree that he did pretty well compared to other Roman leaders before and after him.

 

As for the mark of a real man, lets leave that to the Gods.

Edited by tflex

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if he refused her he wouldn't be a real man.

I want to respond.....but it's not thread related. I'll just quietly hope that everyone knows the mark of a real man is actually self control.

 

[applauding] Well said Germanicus!

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Yeah, that Caesar sure was a master politician--when his allies couldn't control themsleves, he simply ran away. Masterful.

 

The man ran circles around his political opponents even if he did have a few bumps along the road. Did that event finish him? Hardly. Politics isn't about standing and fighting... its about knowing when to stand and fight and when to give ground. One doesn't have to always win to be a master, one has to know how to play the game. Hispania was a pretty smart move in retrospect.

 

 

He used the political system and various magistracies (including that of Pontifex Maximus) to secure himself from debt and prosecutions to bitter rivals.

 

Didn't Caesar's campaign for Pontifex Maximus put him so far in debt (from bribing people to vote him the priesthood!) that Crassus had to bail him out? Caesar only got out of his debt to Crassus (830 talents, or about 1/8 of Crassus' wealth) by pillaging the wealthy villages of Hispania Ulterior.

 

Caesar was facing ridiculous debt problems before he even campaigned for Pontifex Maximus. He increased that debt for sure, but his victory enabled new opportunities. Caesar took advantage of the opportunities that existed at the time (Hispania among them, a stroke of genius, really) and manipulated them for his benefit. Securing debt relief from Crassus is just another example of his mastery of the situation.

 

Or are you suggesting that Caesar bumbled and stumbled his way to becoming one of the most recognized names in human history, and that he really lacked any political ability whatsoever? I mean c'mon Cato, I don't care if anyone likes the man and his methods and motivations can certainly be questioned but to deny his accomplishments seems very petty to me.

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are you suggesting that Caesar bumbled and stumbled his way to becoming one of the most recognized names in human history, and that he really lacked any political ability whatsoever?

 

No of course not--that would be absurd. I'm not arguing that Caesar was Forest Gump (although that's a funny idea!), but only that his political strategy wasn't perfect--by relying on violent, cynical, popular agitators, Caesar was bound to find his henchman putting him in a difficult spot (hence my mentioning the Bona Dea business).

 

This isn't really a major point, by the way--as Caesar had his Clodius, Pompey had his Milo, and Cato had his Bibulus. Politics makes embarrassing bedfellows.

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are you suggesting that Caesar bumbled and stumbled his way to becoming one of the most recognized names in human history, and that he really lacked any political ability whatsoever?

 

No of course not--that would be absurd. I'm not arguing that Caesar was Forest Gump (although that's a funny idea!), but only that his political strategy wasn't perfect--by relying on violent, cynical, popular agitators, Caesar was bound to find his henchman putting him in a difficult spot (hence my mentioning the Bona Dea business).

 

This isn't really a major point, by the way--as Caesar had his Clodius, Pompey had his Milo, and Cato had his Bibulus. Politics makes embarrassing bedfellows.

 

LOL, ok, was just making sure we had some posturing for effect going on in there :rolleyes:

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Aside from that, I believe his greatest flaw was his legendary sex drive which his opponents used against him, and which Cleopatra was able to use to ensnare him.

 

 

Actually, he snared her. He was nobody's fool. She needed him more than he needed her, she followed him to Rome and he never altered his will in her behalf.

 

This is not to say that, had he lived, and gone East, he might not have fallen as an amused old man under her sway.

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The Gelzer passage relies I think exclusively on Sallust, one of Caesar's partisans. The interesting thing about Sallust's reconstruction of events is what it omits.

 

By tradition, the order of speeches in the senate went by seniority, meaning that Caesar and Cato would have been among the last recognized to speak. Therefore, most of the major legal arguments for execution would have been made by the time Caesar and Cato rose to speak. Thus, Caesar's main job was to lay out the full legal case against the majority, and speaking after Caesar, Cato's job would have been almost entirely in the rallying spirit of "Hey Guys! Remember all the arguments you've been making for the last 3 hours!?! Ignoring them now has consequences!"

 

By focusing entirely on the debate between Caesar and Cato (whose rivalry would have loomed large by the time of Sallust's writing), Sallust was able to downplay the legal case for execution--on the one side, we have a full legal argument (Caesar's) and on the other side, we have only an appeal to consequences (Cato's). In my view, this has a distorting effect on our appreciation of Cicero and his achievement as it neglects the legal argument that would have been made for Cicero's position.

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They were based mostly on Plu, Sue, Cic, though there is some Sal in there too. Caesar spoke AFTER the consulares, i.e. before the majority of the Senate, Cato much later...

Edited by P.Clodius

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Clodius, you quoted from Gelzer's bio. Do you think it's better than Meier's? From flipping through it, the Gelzer bio looks awfully dated, no?

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They're both VERY good. One thing I'm staring to notice is that I tend to prefer older styles to new. One thing I can't stand is constantly looking up annotations, footnotes, etc. These are less prevalent in older books as they tend to put primary source material in quotes or perenthases. The greats imo are Grant, Mier, Gelzer, Dodge, Baker. I have not read Gibbon or Momsen, but I find the modern authors too dry, too phorensic.

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They're both VERY good. One thing I'm staring to notice is that I tend to prefer older styles to new. One thing I can't stand is constantly looking up annotations, footnotes, etc. These are less prevalent in older books as they tend to put primary source material in quotes or perenthases. The greats imo are Grant, Mier, Gelzer, Dodge, Baker. I have not read Gibbon or Momsen, but I find the modern authors too dry, too phorensic.

I like the Meier treatment, but my preferences generally tend to run in the opposite direction--I like lots and lots of specific facts (especially numbers!), and I'm a big fan of historical treatments that seek to persuade the reader of a new reconstruction (e.g., "Rome at War" by my colleague Nathan Rosenstein)--or to vindicate an old one that's fallen out of favor (e.g., Ward Perkins' argument "Yes, Virginia, Rome FELL").

 

Generally, I'm not big on biographies because authors tend either to fall in love with their subjects (maybe to justify their efforts) or to villify them utterly if the subject's reputation has grown too large (not thinking of any bios of ancients that I'd put in this category, btw).

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Guest Caracalla

Caesar doesn't have any weak points thats why he had to be assassinated.

 

His enemies were weak and never accomplished anything meaningful in their whole life except killing Caesar.

 

They could not beat him on his own level so they took the low road. I wish Cato the younger could have been wacked like most of them were before he took his own life. It's a shame but such is life.

 

Great people seem to always meet an ugly fate at the end.

 

How can anyone argue against Caesar. It's like ignoring historical facts.

Edited by Caracalla

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