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Furius Venator

Did Cato Destroy The Republic?

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Yes. And as I said, Caesar is culpable.

 

But why on earth would anyone with an ounce of sense not have come to accommodation with him. Cicero at least (for once) saw that was the sensible course.

 

The senate were clearly terrified of civil war, so they must have regarded Caesar as potentially willing to start one.

 

There was an alternative, which was simply to give him his second term. After all, he was willing to reduce his forces to one legion and keep only Cisalpine Gaul.

 

The republic did not fall into chaos when Pompey and Crassus were hanging about Rome with their armies muttering about how nice it might be to be consul and they were allowed to stand. Why would Caesar have been different? There is no reason to suppose he would.

 

For all the pious cant about 'upholding the constitution', Cato and his faction clearly hoped to destroy Caesar, not because he was a threat to the republic, rather because he was a threat to their ambition, or because of past feuds.

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Yes. And as I said, Caesar is culpable.

 

But why on earth would anyone with an ounce of sense not have come to accommodation with him. Cicero at least (for once) saw that was the sensible course.

 

The senate were clearly terrified of civil war, so they must have regarded Caesar as potentially willing to start one.

 

There was an alternative, which was simply to give him his second term. After all, he was willing to reduce his forces to one legion and keep only Cisalpine Gaul.

 

The republic did not fall into chaos when Pompey and Crassus were hanging about Rome with their armies muttering about how nice it might be to be consul and they were allowed to stand. Why would Caesar have been different? There is no reason to suppose he would.

 

For all the pious cant about 'upholding the constitution', Cato and his faction clearly hoped to destroy Caesar, not because he was a threat to the republic, rather because he was a threat to their ambition, or because of past feuds.

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I doubt that Caesar croosed the Rubicon with an army to face Cato. He could do that alone with his nasty tongue. His army was meant for Pompei. Cato was not even very important.

 

Cicero also had a nasty tongue that was used greatly to make Octavian and the consuls chase Antonius and defeat him at Mutina. It's an important event and some great speeches.

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From post number 57

 

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.

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Was Cato strong enough to defeat Caesar in a public, normal debate?

 

If it was then it means that he had a large group that agreed with him and he was a spokesman for many. So, not only him it's to "blame", but everybody from that group that Furious mentions.

 

If he was not strong enough then all was just an excuse for Caesar to get not power, but absolute power.

 

It seems stupid for the optimates not agreing with Caesar when he had a large army. They probably had reasons not to trust him about laying down the arms etc.

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It seems stupid for the optimates not agreing with Caesar when he had a large army. They probably had reasons not to trust him about laying down the arms etc.

 

I'm sure they were convinced of his involvement in the Cataline affair and maintained the notion that he would be willing to upstage the state for personal glory and gain. Perhaps that fear above all, whether justified or not, is what made compromise ultimately unattainable. Even had a compromise been reached in theory, would either party have trusted the other enough to follow through?

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Was Cato strong enough to defeat Caesar in a public, normal debate?

 

No, Caesar was a master of public debate and would always present himself as amicable but wronged.

 

If it was then it means that he had a large group that agreed with him and he was a spokesman for many. So, not only him it's to "blame", but everybody from that group that Furious mentions.

Right, Cato was the figurehead/mouthpiece of an elite who were themselves jockying for power and position.

 

If he was not strong enough then all was just an excuse for Caesar to get not power, but absolute power.

 

No, Caesar exihibited the will/desire to compromise right upto the end. His complete submission to the will of the Cato faction would have been a death sentence.

 

It seems stupid for the optimates not agreing with Caesar when he had a large army. They probably had reasons not to trust him about laying down the arms etc.

 

Right, the Sullan/Marian debacle was still fresh in the minds of many..What they failed to recognize was Caesar was no Sulla and were willing to lead the world to destruction because of their blinkered policy of no compromise.

 

Sry for the messed up quotes

 

[edit by P-P... fixed the quotes :ph34r:]

Edited by Primus Pilus

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His complete submission to the will of the Cato faction would have been a death sentence.

 

Syme puts it rather well:

 

Returning to Rome a private citizen, Caesar would at once be prosecuted by his enemies for extortion or treason. They would secure lawyers reputed for eloquence, high principle and patriotism. Cato was waiting for him, rancorous and incorruptible. A jury carefully selected, with moral support from soldiers of Pompeius stationed around the court, would bring in the inevitable verdict. After that, nothing for Caesar but to join the exiled Milo at Massilia and enjoy the red mullet and Hellenic culture of that university city.

 

Roman revolution p.48

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His complete submission to the will of the Cato faction would have been a death sentence.

 

Syme puts it rather well:

 

Returning to Rome a private citizen, Caesar would at once be prosecuted by his enemies for extortion or treason. They would secure lawyers reputed for eloquence, high principle and patriotism. Cato was waiting for him, rancorous and incorruptible. A jury carefully selected, with moral support from soldiers of Pompeius stationed around the court, would bring in the inevitable verdict. After that, nothing for Caesar but to join the exiled Milo at Massilia and enjoy the red mullet and Hellenic culture of that university city.

 

Roman revolution p.48

Furius, Syme was partisan imo. He hated the principate and therefore Caesar. Milo had the protection of the Boni, Caesar did not. He would have been a dead man.

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See folk think that about Syme. But there's little sense of that in his book. Or rather there is, but his hatred isn't confined to the Principate. He hates everyone. That's the strength of his work. He's unrelentingly harsh on the lot of them. He's not so much anti-Augustan as anti-everyone.

Edited by Furius Venator

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Ok, not only Cato, but all the optimates are guilty for their inability to deal with Caesar.

 

So, my client Cato it's guilty of being the figurehead of a faction that is in part responsabile for one of the civil wars.

This does not make him responable for "the fall of the Republic" an ample, complex procces that started before his birth and ended after his death.

 

He could play nice and give Caesar a chance, but he could not change the already established proffesional army, the violent political ambitions of some groups, the enrichment of the equites or the decline of the peasantry.

 

He was a defender of a Republic doomed by many interactions and evolutions that he could not control. Probably he would lose even if Caesar was defeated and Pompey would became the new absolute ruler.

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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.

"You shall not get it EVEN if you ALL want it!"

Sure the filabuster is a useful tool if it used properly but is it really helpful to filabuster an issue pressed by massive social forces?

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The filibuster--like the tribunician veto--may have resulted in unpopular decisions, but so what? There was nothing treasonous about using either the filibuster or the veto: both were mechanisms that required further debate on topics of importance, and whether generals could set themselves up as patrons to vast armies was a topic of importance that really did require debate. Nothing Cato did to provoke that debate was treasonous, unlawful, or a threat to the republic. Quite the contrary, something had to be done to end the system of client armies that had begun with Marius--in this Cato's opposition to the Pompeian settlement was principled, far-sighted, and totally admirable.

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