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Caesar: Hero Or Villain

Caesar: Hero or Villain?  

31 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you think Caesar was

    • 100% Hero
      2
    • 100% Villain
      3
    • More Hero than Villain
      21
    • More Villain than Hero
      5


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...I added a little poll, on top of the thread, feel free to cast your vote...

 

cheers

viggen

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Heroism or villany is in the eye of the beholder. You could never provide an absolute answer to this question because everyone has a different take on it, to a greater or lesser degree. Human beings love to categorise though. We are very much a race of aggressive accountants. The problem when dealing with dicactorial characters is that however much we might approve of their acheivements, we tend to ignore the motivations that led them to it.

 

Now I'm the king of the Romans

Oh, the latin VIP

I've reached the top and had to stop

And that's what botherin' me

I wanna be Alexander,

And stroll across the world

And be just like the that other guy

I'm tired of reading reports

 

Oh, oobee doo

I wanna be like you

I wanna walk like you

Talk like you, too

You'll see it's true

A guy like me

Can learn to be a hero too

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As Caldrail said in musical verse a lot of it is about human perception of individuals.

 

We all to some extent or other wish to or will see something of ourselves either reflected in or absent in others. For which reason I would tend to challenge anyone who truly believed that Caesar or anyone else for that matter was 100% either hero or villain. If pushed they would probable eventually mention that a 'hero' cheated on his wife or left a forlorn hope to protect his retreat while a 'villain' loved his pets, was faithful to his wife or even a passable painter.

 

With that 100% barrier breached where they actually lie on the scale of hero or villain comes down to more personal reasons and in some cases may even slide depending on how an indivudal was feeling on the day.

 

A 'hero' can make mistakes and even a 'villain' due to be tried for war crimes whatever you or I may think of them personally can still be seen as an icon amongst some sectors of his society.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't the Gauls contrary to popular belief not a single united race and culture but a variety of different groups that had bitter rivalry with each other despited being commonly erroneously labeled as a single culture and civiliazation?

 

 

You're not wrong. Moreover, some Gallic cities were formal allies of Rome, had been for generations, traded with Rome, and had been centers of Greek civilization. It took Caesar's blundering adventurism to turn these friends of Rome into enemies.

 

 

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I think its best to say that how Caesar is viewed by the Gauls depends on which Gaullish tribe.The ones that fought and lost to him of course bitterly hated him while the ones that allied with him or stayed neutral either were favorable of him or indifferent.

 

The Remi, IIRC, are the prime example of a loyal trible to Caesar. Even during the rebellion, I remember reading that the Remi did not turn.

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It took Caesar's blundering adventurism to turn these friends of Rome into enemies.

 

Somebody's been reading Fuller.

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By the time of Claudius there were substantial numbers of new Gaulish citizens bearing the clan name of Julius.

 

I guess the desire to integrate themselves into the Roman power structure overcame any resentment of Caesar's conquest.

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By the time of Claudius there were substantial numbers of new Gaulish citizens bearing the clan name of Julius.

 

I guess the desire to integrate themselves into the Roman power structure overcame any resentment of Caesar's conquest.

 

I have an ebook of, but have yet to read Becoming Roman The Origins of Provincial Civilization in Gaul by Greg Woolf. Product description:

This book studies the processes conventionally termed "Romanization" through an analysis of the experience of Roman rule over the Gallic province of the empire in the period 200 BC-AD 300. It examines how and why Gallo-Roman civilization emerged from the confrontation between the iron-age cultures of Gaul and the civilization we call classical. It develops an original synthesis and argument that will form a bridge between the disciplines of classics and archaeology and will be of interest to all students of cultural change.

 

Looks like it's right down this lane topic wise.

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It took Caesar's blundering adventurism to turn these friends of Rome into enemies.

Somebody's been reading Fuller.

 

 

Good catch--and it was a good read too.

 

 

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I think he was more hero than villain. IMO Caesar was one of those rare historical figures that are able to fully see the "big picture" and then effectively act on it. He knew that the Republic as it was constituted was no longer functional and knew that he had to create a government structure suitable for ruling a large empire. Despite the claims of his detractors, I do not think he had any intention of turning Rome into a monarchy (that was the doing of Octavian, IMO), if he had been then he would have not made Octavian, who was then only a teenager, his heir. It was Caesar's assassins, and then Octavian's and Antonius' violent purging of their political opponents (unlike Caesar's clemency), that killed the Republic, not Caesar.

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Interesting that you take a view that Caesar was somehow 'saving' Rome, a popular theme these days regarding the Roman empire and one based on sentiments expressed in the western world ever since their passing. We praise Rome for civic achievement, admire their imperial vastness, and applaude their conquering legions, yet at the same time, we sneer at their callousness, greed, decadence, and political ruthlessness.

 

it would seem then that the question of whether Caesar was hero or villain rests on his motive for crossing the Rubicon. Was it indeed to replace a broken Republic with a new dynamic autocracy? Or simply a desire for personal power?

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it would seem then that the question of whether Caesar was hero or villain rests on his motive for crossing the Rubicon. Was it indeed to replace a broken Republic with a new dynamic autocracy? Or simply a desire for personal power?

 

I would say that Caesar's decision to cross the Rubicon was not initially to replace a broken Republic or for personal power but simply a matter of survival. Imo Caesar had been backed into a corner by the senate, if he'd have stood his legions down and crossed the Rubicon and entered Rome on his own then his career as a soldier and a politician would have certainly been over and his life would have also been in serious jeopardy. Caesar had accquired many enemies during his time in Gaul and to enter Rome alone would have been suicidal to say the least. So for me he wasn't really left with much option was he? Caesar was not the sort of man to just turn and walk away from a problem he was the the kind to meet it head on, and that's exactly what he did. Whether he made the correct decision or not will be argued over through the ages, but I'm pretty sure that if I was faced with the same choices after achieving so much then it would have been hard to turn around and walk away with my tail between my legs. Don't you think?

 

 

Hero or villian? The ancient world was a cruel and savage place where only the strongest survived. It may be a bit of a cliche but it's true, through out history the names that stand out have all been ruthless, determined, brave, cruel, intelligent characters. To achieve this legendary status you had to be both a hero at times and a villian at others. Caesar definately falls into this cateogary.

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I agree Caesar was backed into a corner - the senate wanted him to disarm and cease to be a political threat via his legions - but don't you think that Caesar was going to take any such chance to grab power at some point? Certainly the senate made him take that step, but we shouldn't ignore Caesar's character. He was an iverterate risk taker and had been intent on success from childhood.

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I don't doubt that regardless of how it did eventually happen, Caesar at some point in his career would have gone on to become the dominant force in Rome, he was too big a character not to, he was an ambitious man and maybe the success had gone to his head, who knows? I just think that given the choice he would have rather gone about the proccess in a less violent manner, Caesar's hand was forced, there's no doubt about that and he reacted accordingly. I don't think bloodshed was the way he wanted to go. I think the last thing he wanted was Roman fighting against Roman. But at the end of the day thats how it played out and he had to see it through.

 

. Alea iacta est.......

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Yet despite those sentiments, Caesar was a man who sought military glory (and plunder of course - the two were inseperable) and was known for his willingness to fight in the front line with his men. He was also a patrician in a society that valued military prowess, applauded conquest, enjoyed bloodsports for entertainment, and tolertaed a level of violence in everyday life that is to us unacceptable. He would have been a child of his time surely? For him the exercise of violence or the threat of it wasn't so alien. I agree he wasn't a psychopathic dictator that we're accustomed to in the modern era, and let's be honest, the Romans had a few of those over the centuries, but since Caesar was the same man who regularly humiliated and ultimately executed Vercingetorix without any apparent concern, can we really ascribe humane character and aspirations to him?

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