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Furius Venator

Did Cato Destroy The Republic?

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Of course - during the course about the subtleties of the Roman state, we ought to always rely on the wise Wikipedia. :rolleyes:

 

Well, it's not just wiki's opinion, there are other sources too. All three dates are subject to interpretation. I personally think the Republic fell in 44 BC, but only became official in 27 BC; it never recovered after 44BC. Whichever way you look at it, Cato had a defining role in it's collapse. The Gracchi brothers, Sulla, Marius all had a hand in destroying the Republic and they all lived long before any of the three dates. There was no one person responsible for the Republic's failures, but Cato certainly was one of the major culprits because of his official position and influence.

Edited by tflex

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Well, it's not just wiki's opinion, there are other sources too. All three dates are subject to interpretation. I personally think the Republic fell in 44 BC, but only became official in 27 BC; it never recovered after 44BC. Whichever way you look at it, Cato had a defining role in it's collapse. The Gracchi brothers, Sulla, Marius all had a hand in destroying the Republic and they all lived long before any of the three dates. There was no one person responsible for the Republic's failures, but Cato certainly was one of the major culprits because of his official position and influence.

Yeah, no objection here. Cato certainly holds part of the blame for the downfall of the Republic - when did I deny this before? I certainly wouldn't have him as a primary culprit, though. I think the destruction of the Republic according to those responsible is as follows:

 

Augustus - laid the final blow to the Republic; was the only man in Rome who had the power to restore the Republic and failed

 

Marius - his military reforms, unprecedented consulship terms, and dictatorial command were the biggest blows to the Republic until Augustus struck it dead.

 

Caesar - crippled the Republic with his war on Rome and afterwards his assumption of the title dictator in perpetuo

 

Sulla - after winning the first civil war, abused the power of the dictatorship for his own gain; the proscription lists and bullying dictatorship set horryfyingly bad precedents

 

The more minor characters of Pompey, Antony, Lepidus, Cato, et al. have a good share as well, but history has decided that the four above bear the most burden.

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What do you think Sulla had? Because he gave it up a couple years before he died doesn't mean that he didn't have the power to be dictator until he died. If that's the case, then the "Republic" fell decades before Caesar, however absurd that might be.

 

I disagree. Sulla became dictator legibus faciendis et reipublicae costituendae, and the fact is that he reformed the constitution, then laid down the office because he felt he'd done what was required to replensih the republic. I do see what you are saying, but see Sulla accepting the office as saying - "Yes I will reform laws and fortify the constitution of this republic" where as Caesar said "Yes I will be Dictator for as long as I live and do as I see fit for the rest of my life".

 

But our opinions differ and I feel never will they converge on this issue.

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Don't be so negative, Germanice, I do not have a closed mind. I used Sulla as an extreme example - it was granted for him to do whatever he wished to reform the Republic, but if we wished, he could have had it for life. Dictatorship previously meant elected for a year and then when through lay it down again. Furthermore, the proscription lists easily went against the constitution of the Republic. Such a crime is utterly deplorable. It was a mark of the end, but it wasn't the end itself.

 

The reason why it hadn't ended with Caesar is because Caesar died before he could kill it. It was definitely within his grasp to kill, but he was stopped by the assassins. If the assassins had won out, do you think the Republic might still have been saved?

 

I place it squarely on Augustus who had created the princeps system - an unprecedented role - one he made up for himself. With the princeps system, there was no going back to the Republic.

 

I suppose it'd be the same for a person who is near death in a coma and a person who is being buried in a grave.

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I agree that Augustus put the coffin in the grave, but still don't see the republic functioning as a republic after 44BC.

 

I guess the difference between Sulla and Caesar is that Sulla was a Republican.

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The reason why it hadn't ended with Caesar is because Caesar died before he could kill it.

 

Caesar's assassination put the nail in the coffin and ruined any chance to reinstate the Republic. It probably would have been wiser to let Ceasar die of old age or in battle.

 

I place it squarely on Augustus who had created the princeps system - an unprecedented role - one he made up for himself. With the princeps system, there was no going back to the Republic.

 

How can you place it squarely on Augustus, the Republic system was on the decline for 100 years before Augustus. It was a complete mess long before, Augustus found himslef at odds with the supporters of the Republic and simply put the nail in the coffin. It was already dead, he just made sure there was no going back, as you said.

 

The flawed system was to blame, then the supporters, like Cato, that refused to adjust to the times and fix the obvious problems, then rogue generals like Sulla and Caesar etc, who exploited the situation.

Edited by tflex

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I don't understand how the most important defender of the Republic can be blamed for destroing it!

 

If he had agreed to Caesar (and he was not alone to oppose him) the Republic would have collapsed anyway but maybe without a civil war (but I doubt that all other ambitious generals will submit to Caesar without a fight)

 

Why don't blame Cicero for sparking the wars against Antonius?

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If he had agreed to Caesar (and he was not alone to oppose him) the Republic would have collapsed anyway

 

What evidence is there for this? Caesar proposed to stand for the consulship in absentia and that he and Pompeius should both lay down their extraordinary army commands. Caesar proposed that he should retain in the interim only Cisalpine Gaul and a single legion. A second consular term for Caesar would hardly have destroyed the republic.

 

The intransigence of Cato and his tiny faction, based upon hatred and jealousy prevented a peaceful solution.

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If he had agreed to Caesar If he had agreed to Caesar (and he was not alone to oppose him) the Republic would have collapsed anyway

 

There's no way to be sure of this, but we can be reasonable sure of why Caesar crossed the Rubicon under arms.

 

Why don't blame Cicero for sparking the wars against Antonius?

 

Because Cicero was well dead with a pin cushion tongue when they started.

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No, it wasn't. Cato was just one vote in the senate, and the vast majority of senators voted for compromise. Cato had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that that compromise never came to fruition.

You know better than to make a statement like that. Cato was the front man for about 20 diehard senators. And his power was not in the vote but in the filabuster.

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Let us consider the anti-Caesar faction.

 

Prominent are:

 

Marcellus: the consul who dismissed the senate when they voted to disarm both Pompey and Caesar. Jealous and frustrated that Caesar's extended command had made it harder for aristocrats from more prominent families, like the Marcelli, to gain opportunity for a triumph.

 

Appius Claudius: the censor who attempted to remove Caesar's more prominent supporters from the senate. His daughter was married to Cato's nephew. His mother was one of the Metelli.

 

Ahenobarbus: a long established opponent of Caesar. Cato's brother-in-law.

 

Bibulus: a man who had often been Caesar's colleague in various offices, and frequently humiliated by him. Cato's son-in-law.

 

Metellus Scipio: same reasons as Marcellus.

 

Lentulus: consul in 49. Prevented senatorial debate on Caesar's letters. Reasons as Marcellus.

 

Cato: a constant opponent of Caesar from the time of Catiline. It would of course be very wrong to suggest that his personal emnity was in any way fuelled by the notorious 'love letter' incident during the trial. Nonetheless, he opposed Caesar at every opportunity from that moment on.

 

 

Now Cicero is quite clear: Cato said to him that neither he, nor his allies were willing to accept anything that would allow Caesar to stand for consul in absentia. From this, Cato seems to have been the organ-grinder of the coalition rather than a mere monkey.

Edited by Furius Venator

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No, it wasn't. Cato was just one vote in the senate, and the vast majority of senators voted for compromise. Cato had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that that compromise never came to fruition.

You know better than to make a statement like that. Cato was the front man for about 20 diehard senators. And his power was not in the vote but in the filabuster.

 

Cato's ability to filibuster posed no threat to the Republic. Quite the opposite, the right to filibuster even today remains a bedrock protection for minority viewpoints.

 

Now Cicero is quite clear: Cato said to him that neither he, nor his allies were willing to accept anything that would allow Caesar to stand for consul in absentia.

 

Which is to say that Cato intended to uphold the law. Hardly the work of a revolutionary bent on destroying the republic.

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Roman law, as you well know, was governed by precedent. There was plenty of precedent for standing in absentia.

 

Wishing to gain a second term as consul is hardly revolutionary either. Even by standing in absentia.

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Roman law, as you well know, was governed by precedent. There was plenty of precedent for standing in absentia.

 

Wishing to gain a second term as consul is hardly revolutionary either. Even by standing in absentia.

 

Sure--but marching on Rome is an act of treason.

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