Jump to content
UNRV Ancient Roman Empire Forums
  • Time Travel Rome

Sign in to follow this  
P.Clodius

Proscription Declaration, Appian

Recommended Posts

I've always found the wording of this declaration to be awesome, grave, and powerful. That aside, if it is read thoroughly, and with a knowlege of events prior to, it can serve as a window. What do you get from this document? Try to be as neutral as you can.

 

"Marcus Lepidus, Marcus Antonius, and Octavius Caesar, chosen by the people to set in order and regulate the republic, do declare that, had not perfidious traitors begged for mercy and when they obtained it become the enemies of their benefactors and conspired against them, neither would Gaius Caesar have been slain by those whom he saved by his clemency after capturing them in war, whom he admitted to his friendship and upon whom he heaped offices, honours, and gifts; nor should we have been compelled to use this wide-spread severity against those who have insulted us and declared us public enemies. Now, seeing that the malice of those who have conspired against us and by whose hands Gaius Caesar suffered, cannot be mollified by kindness, we prefer to anticipate our enemies rather than suffer at their hands. Let no one who sees what both Caesar and ourselves have suffered consider our action unjust, cruel, or immoderate. Although Caesar was clothed with supreme power, although he was pontifex maximus, although he had overthrown and added to our sway the nations most formidable to the Romans, although he was the first man to attempt the untried sea beyond the pillars of Hercules and was the discoverer of a country hitherto unknown to the Romans, this man was slain in the midst of the senate-house, which is designated as sacred, under the eyes of the gods, with twenty-three dastardly wounds, by men whom he had taken prisoners in war and spared, while some of them he had named as co-heirs of his wealth. After this execrable crime, instead of arresting the guilty wretches, the rest sent them forth as commanders and governors, in which capacity they seized upon the public money, with which they are collecting an army against us and are seeking reinforcements from barbarians ever hostile to Roman rule. Cities subject to Rome that would not obey them they have burned, or ravaged, or levelled to the ground; other cities they have forced by terror to bear arms against the country and against us.

 

"Some of them we have punished already; and by the aid of divine providence you shall presently see the rest punished. Although the chief part of this work has been finished by us or is well under control, namely the settlement of Spain and Gaul as well as matters here in Italy, one task still remains, and that is to march against Caesar's assassins beyond the sea. On the eve of undertaking this foreign war for you, we do not consider it safe, either for you or for us, to leave other enemies behind to take advantage of our absence and watch for opportunities during the war; nor again do we think that there should be delay on their account, but that we ought rather to sweep them out of our pathway, once for all, seeing that they began the war against us when they voted us and the armies under us public enemies.

 

"What vast numbers of citizens have they, on their part, doomed to destruction with us, disregarding the vengeance of the gods and the reprobation of mankind! We shall not deal harshly with any multitude of men, nor shall we count as enemies all who have opposed us or plotted against us, or those distinguished for their riches merely, their abundance, or their high position; nor shall we slay as many as another man who held the supreme power before us, when he, too, was regulating the commonwealth in civil convulsions, and whom you named the Fortunate on account of his success; and yet necessarily three persons will have more enemies than one. We shall take vengeance only on the worst and most guilty. This we shall do for your interest no less than for our own, for while we keep up our conflicts you will all be involved necessarily in great dangers, and it is necessary for us also to do something to quiet the army, which has been insulted, irritated, and decreed a public enemy by our common foes. Although we might arrest on the spot whomsoever we had determined on, we prefer rather to proscribe rather than seize them unawares; and this, too, on your account, so that it may not be in the power of enraged soldiers to exceed their orders against persons not responsible, but that they may be restricted to a certain number designated by name, and spare the others according to order.

 

"So be it then! Let no one harbour any one of those whose names are hereto appended, or conceal them, or send them away, or be corrupted by their money. Whoever shall be detected in saving, or aiding, or conniving with them we will put on the list of the proscribed without allowing any excuse or pardon. Let those who kill the proscribed bring us their heads and receive the following rewards: to a free man 25,000 Attic drachmas per head; to a slave his freedom and 10,000 Attic drachmas and his master's right of citizenship. Informers shall receive the same rewards. In order that they may remain unknown the names of those who receive the rewards shall not be inscribed in our registers."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A wonderfully moving (and informative) document. Thanks for posting it!

 

It really shows the new leaders' respect for Caesar. :suprise:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While there are so many compelling statements within, I think I find this the most interesting..

 

We shall take vengeance only on the worst and most guilty. This we shall do for your interest no less than for our own, for while we keep up our conflicts you will all be involved necessarily in great dangers, and it is necessary for us also to do something to quiet the army, which has been insulted, irritated, and decreed a public enemy by our common foes.

 

The entire document sets up the rationale for instituting proscriptions, but this brief statement gives a convenient excuse for those who may be sitting on the fence. I translate it essentially as...

 

"Look everyone, even if we wanted to try and negotiate through peaceful, diplomatic means, the army isn't going to have it. Better let them have this bit of vengeance or who knows what insanity may be unleashed, on friend, foe and neutral bystander alike!"

 

Whether right or wrong, just or not, everyone from major political players to common citizen to slaves can easily understand the implications. Truly an excellent use of threat to create general conformity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Propaganda and a vicious rape of the fundamentals of the Republican system.

 

Yet at the same time brilliant, for it binds fact and dignity to the process in a rare form, and a testimony to the changing times. Indeed the reasonability it tries to convey seems to indicate a need to communicate that a new order is required to maintain the status quo for the Roman people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Let those who kill the proscribed bring us their heads and receive the following rewards: to a free man 25,000 Attic drachmas per head

 

Hah now that's somethin! Kill people for money! Very nice post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a fantastic piece of propaganda this declaration is, i bet it had even the mildest mannered of citizens screaming blue murder and vowing to avenge Caesar's death at whatever cost

This guy sure knew how to stir up emotions

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's my thought? Of impudent hypocricy, lies, slander, rationalization, and pure evil? Gee I don't know...

 

had not perfidious traitors begged for mercy and when they obtained it become the enemies of their benefactors and conspired against them, neither would Gaius Caesar have been slain by those whom he saved by his clemency after capturing them in war

 

A convenient falsehood but a lie nevertheless. Caesar offered no general amnesty after Pharsalus (when it might have brought a quick end to the civil war), preferring instead to dally with Cleopatra while the forces of the republic regrouped (master strategist that Caesar!) And when Scipio and his unseasoned troops then surrendered in North Africa, they were all summarily slaughtered. Caesar's excuse for slaughtering Scipio and his men was that he was having an epileptic attack at the time (!), but like his claim not to have stood in the presence of the Senate due to an acute bout of diaherria, the epilepsy excuse stinks to high heaven.

 

Although Caesar was clothed with supreme power, although he was pontifex maximus, although he had overthrown and added to our sway the nations most formidable to the Romans, although he was the first man to attempt the untried sea beyond the pillars of Hercules and was the discoverer of a country hitherto unknown to the Romans, this man was slain in the midst of the senate

By Pluto's thorny *$#%, this is rich! Although Pompey was clothed with supreme power, and had overthrown and added to Rome enemies far more formidable to the Romans (as opposed to the bunch of rag-tag iron age women and children that Caesar butchered by the hundreds of thousands), this POMPEY WAS SLAIN IN THE MIDST OF THE SENATE. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Moreover, and this is absolutely essential, ever since Publicola the killing of a man who declared himself king was required by law. Those cowards who failed to wield their daggers were the outlaws, not the liberators. As is well known, Caesar was known as king of Rome in everyplace but Italy, and he underscored this point by removing any tribune who contradicted his self-declared monarchy.

 

After this execrable crime, instead of arresting the guilty wretches, the rest sent them forth as commanders and governors, in which capacity they seized upon the public money, with which they are collecting an army against us and are seeking reinforcements from barbarians ever hostile to Roman rule. Cities subject to Rome that would not obey them they have burned, or ravaged, or levelled to the ground; other cities they have forced by terror to bear arms against the country and against us.

Oh yeah?!? And WHY were these commanders and governors collecting an army? Because the lackeys of Caesar were collecting one as well and because they cast the first stone by assembling mobs to burn government buildings and the private homes and persons of their enemies. As for "barbarians", these toadies of Caesar were hip-high in the barbarian clients that Caesar had collected in his illegal war. And shall we even discuss these Caesarian boot-lickers' treatment of pro-republican cities? Just ask Livia's family about their mercy. Or the men, women and children of Praeneste, who were all murdered (regardless of their allegiances) by this craven cabal of cowards.

 

Let no one harbour any one of those whose names are hereto appended, or conceal them, or send them away, or be corrupted by their money. Whoever shall be detected in saving, or aiding, or conniving with them we will put on the list of the proscribed without allowing any excuse or pardon. Let those who kill the proscribed bring us their heads and receive the following rewards: to a free man 25,000 Attic drachmas per head; to a slave his freedom and 10,000 Attic drachmas and his master's right of citizenship. Informers shall receive the same rewards. In order that they may remain unknown the names of those who receive the rewards shall not be inscribed in our registers.

 

And who exactly were on this notorious list? The very friends and families of Octavian and Antony, who--rather than trading indulgences for their loved ones--instead traded vendettas. If only some real Roman had been around to liberate their country of these new Tarquins! Unfortunately, the last true Roman was Cassius.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My word Cato!! I hope you feel better after that rant :P

I;m gonna take a stab in the dark here and say that your not a member of the Julius Caesar fan club, please correct me if im wrong but i think i will state my mortgage on it! ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And who exactly were on this notorious list? The very friends and families of Octavian and Antony, who--rather than trading indulgences for their loved ones--instead traded vendettas.

 

You mention that the triumvirs put there family members on the list, but as far as I know Octavian did not proscribe a single blood relative, and Antony's and Lepidus' choice of family members were able to get off without execution.

 

Antony's uncle, Lucius, was indeed placed on the proscription lists by Octavian. However, Octavian only put his name there because he was attempting to dissuade Antony from executing Cicero (probably because of Octavian's early political connection with him) by having Antony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And who exactly were on this notorious list? The very friends and families of Octavian and Antony, who--rather than trading indulgences for their loved ones--instead traded vendettas.

 

I stand by this claim. The friends and families (whether by blood, adoption, marriage, or any combination of same) of the triumvirs were put on a list for anyone to kill and to collect a bounty. If some of these managed to escape, I'm glad of it, but I give no credit to the authors of this insidious announcement.

 

Also, my claim that "the last true Roman was Cassius" belongs originally to the historian Cremutius Cordus, who was executed for the claim by Tiberius. That the senate and people of Rome sat idly while this happened rather proves the historian correct. As much as I admire a number of Romans who came after Cassius (Tacitus, for example), these are the very Romans who would claim that the Imperial regime began a centuries-long slide to servility. After Cassius, no one could say (as one famous republican did), "I am a Roman, and you are just a king."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Also, my claim that "the last true Roman was Cassius" belongs originally to the historian Cremutius Cordus, who was executed for the claim by Tiberius. That the senate and people of Rome sat idly while this happened rather proves the historian correct. As much as I admire a number of Romans who came after Cassius (Tacitus, for example), these are the very Romans who would claim that the Imperial regime began a centuries-long slide to servility. After Cassius, no one could say (as one famous republican did), "I am a Roman, and you are just a king."

 

The story above is indeed very interesting, but I do not see how you can admire Cassius so much, the man was a greedy extortionist; you are probably aware of the fact that he instigated the sack of Rhodes in 43 AD solely for financial gain. I see your point that after his death few people resisted the tyranny of the principate, however, if being a

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The story above is indeed very interesting, but I do not see how you can admire Cassius so much.... I see your point that after his death few people resisted the tyranny of the principate

 

I wouldn't say that I admire Cassius generally, only that he was the last to act on the old Roman spirit of "No man is king of me." As bad as was Cassius' extortion of the Rhodesians, I'd still say that it is preferable to have one magistrate robbing the Rhodesians than to have a monarch's legion of extortionists robbing everyone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've always found the wording of this declaration to be awesome, grave, and powerful. That aside, if it is read thoroughly, and with a knowlege of events prior to, it can serve as a window. What do you get from this document? Try to be as neutral as you can...

 

It's simple, translated;

 

"We've spent several years dragging thousands of troops through the Roman world to fight a vicious civil war. It's over, we won and now they're expecting their demobilization reward. Sorry you backed the wrong horse (or no horse at all). It's your a** or ours at the hands of disgruntled troops. Just as important, we can now even a few personal scores as well before turning on each other."

Edited by Virgil61

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"We've spent several years dragging thousands of troops through the Roman world to fight a vicious civil war. It's over, we won and now they're expecting their demobilization reward. Sorry you backed the wrong horse (or no horse at all). It's your a** or ours at the hands of disgruntled troops. Just as important, we can now even a few personal scores as well before turning on each other."

 

So why didn't they simply say that? Why all the unnecessary propaganda? Why even post a justification for the list? Why not simply post the list with the reward?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Map of the Roman Empire

×