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M. Porcius Cato

Symptoms Of The Triumvirate Not The Republic

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...I doubt bribery played that much of a role in determining who held office...

 

is this a game of let's deny anything we don't like or which acts against our pet theories? can anyone play? :P

 

Phil

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is this a game of let's deny anything we don't like or which acts against our pet theories? can anyone play?

 

Maybe you could start a thread on electoral bribery Phil, it's prevalence is certainly up for debate, it would probably be better than laying baits for it in exsisting threads.

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The third symptom [of the triumvirate] is "Intense electoral competition leading to secret pacts, bribery, and corruption".

-Were you thinking in ambitus or in non-electoral bribery?

-Even if ambitus was not effective, was its frequency related to the coming of the triumvirs?

-How can we compare the frequency of these conditions between diverse periods of the Republic?

 

I was thinking of both (i.e., electoral bribery and bribery of the juries), and it does seem to have been practiced on an unprecedented scale during Caesar's run through the cursus honorum. In his run for the pontifex maximus (against Catulus, best I recall), Caesar reportedly borrowed vast sums for bribes, and his run for the consulship was so rife with bribes that his opponents set up a rival fund to give Bibulus a chance at winning too. I doubt these types of bribes made much of a difference for reasons that I've discussed earlier, but bribery of juries may be a different matter entirely: votes of jurors are much easier to guess, and so if you a bribe a juror and he reneges, it's easier to detect. We certainly have some wild cases where this occurred (e.g., the trial of Clodius for the Bona Dea scandal).

 

Was the frequency of bribery in this period some quirk of Caesarian politics, or was it causally related to the powers of the triumvirs? I tend toward the latter explanation. Thanks to Crassus, the triumvirs' agenda included a kind of corporate welfare for the rapacious publicani, who had vast networks of agents in their employ and who could deliver kick-backs to corrupt officials and their allies. If this political machine was the sort of Roman Tammany Hall that it looks like, then by supporting it, the triumvirs ratcheted up political corruption to levels not seen since the days of the Sullan bounty-hunters.

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In his run for the pontifex maximus (against Catulus, best I recall), Caesar reportedly borrowed vast sums for bribes,.

Your recall is right indeed, Quintus Lutatius Catulus (previously Consul on 78 BC) and also a third candidate, Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus (previously Consul on 79 BC) for the 63 BC (691 AUC) election for Pontifex Maximus.

 

Plutarch. Caesar, Ch. VII sec. II: "The favour of the electors appeared to be about equally divided, and therefore Catulus, who, as the worthier of Caesar's competitors, dreaded more the uncertainty of the issue, sent and tried to induce Caesar to desist from his ambitious project, offering him large sums of money."

 

Suetonius, De Vita XII Caesarum, Divus Julius, Ch. XIII: "After giving up hope of the special commission, he announced his candidacy for the office of pontifex maximus, resorting to the most lavish bribery. Thinking on the enormous debt which he had thus contracted ... And in fact he so decisively defeated two very strong competitors (for they were greatly his superiors in age and rank), that he polled more votes in their tribes than were cast for both of them in all the tribes.

 

Sallustius, Bellum Catilinae, Ch. XLIX, sec. I-II: "But at that very time Quintus Catulus and Gaius Piso tried in vain by entreaties, influence, and bribes to induce Cicero to have a false accusation brought against Gaius Caesar, ... the hatred of Catulus arose from his candidacy for the pontificate ..."

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and his run for the consulship was so rife with bribes that his opponents set up a rival fund to give Bibulus a chance at winning too.

For the 59 BC (695 AUC) consulship election, besides CJ Caesar and Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, there was only another candidate, Lucius Lucceius.

 

Suetonius, De Vita XII Caesarum, Divus Julius, Ch. XIX, sec.I-II: "Of the two other candidates for this office, Lucius Lucceius and Marcus Bibulus, Caesar joined forces with the former, making a bargain with him that since Lucceius had less influence but more funds, he should in their common name promise largess to the electors from his own pocket. When this became known, the aristocracy authorized Bibulus to promise the same amount, being seized with fear that Caesar would stick at nothing when he became chief magistrate, if he had a colleague who was heart and soul with him. Many of them contributed to the fund, and even Cato did not deny that bribery under such circumstances was for the good of the commonwealth. So Caesar was chosen consul with Bibulus"

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For the 59 BC (695 AUC) consulship election, besides CJ Caesar and Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, there was only another candidate, Lucius Lucceius.

It's interesting to note who would have been a shoe-in to win that election--C. Octavius. According to Velleius, Octavius had been the first-ranking praetor of 62, polling ahead of both Caesar and Bibulus, and unlike Caesar, Octavius hadn't been forced to resign from office in disgrace. Unfortunately, after a distinguished campaign in Macedonia where he was declared imperator by his troops, poor Octavius died mysteriously in Nola. Octavius, of course, was married to Caesar's niece Atia....

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I was thinking of both (i.e., electoral bribery and bribery of the juries), and it does seem to have been practiced on an unprecedented scale during Caesar's run through the cursus honorum. In his run for the pontifex maximus (against Catulus, best I recall), Caesar reportedly borrowed vast sums for bribes, and his run for the consulship was so rife with bribes that his opponents set up a rival fund to give Bibulus a chance at winning too. Was the frequency of bribery in this period some quirk of Caesarian politics, or was it causally related to the powers of the triumvirs? I tend toward the latter explanation.

 

I don't know MPC perhaps in earlier ages politicians were simply more discrete when they seeded the campaign trail with Gold. Caesar was always a showman, he could have simply been flaunting his power as Triumvir.

 

Also remember the polarization of politics near the end of the Republic meant that public office was a game of vastly higher stakes.

 

the partisan politics would logically mean that buying an office would get more expensive.

 

"There is Evil, ever around Fundamental System of Government quite Incidental" Evita the Musical

Edited by CiceroD

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Also remember the polarization of politics near the end of the Republic meant that public office was a game of vastly higher stakes.

Was politics more polarized during the era of Caesar? I'd say it had too few poles.

 

Also, look at the politics in the era of Cato versus Nasica, Nasica versus the Gracchi, Livius Drusus versus everyone, and Marius versus Sulla. The politics during these conflicts were of very high stakes. Consider: even when Tiberius Gracchus feared for his life should he lose the tribunate and pleaded with the citizens to vote for him, he is not recorded as having resorted to bribery.

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