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Why Did The Roman Republic Fall?

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Other than the fact that he had formerly worked for Sulla, what evidence do you have to suggest Pompey would have started butchering people, with the implicit support of the Senate?

Other than that I can think of nothing else at this time, but it's enough for me to imagine what would come if they won the war.

 

Hold on--you are presuming to use your imagination as evidence? Now it's all becoming clear.

 

The Republic was flexible, and that was a strength. In order to function properly while being an empire rather than a city it sure as Hades had to be flexible, but this last instance of inflexibility of people like Cato and Domitius Ahenobarbus, for reasons selfish or idealistic, was the last time the Republic could bear it. At that point you had to go with the wildly swinging power blocks and hope for the best, because anything more rigid would cause it to crack.

 

Sure, the republic was flexible in the sense that it could adopt new laws and policies for the good of the republic. But Caesar's demand to keep his army wasn't for the republic--it was to threaten Rome should it displease Caesar. The senate did not intend to be blackmailed by Caesar--so they required that he disband his army like every other returning general. There was nothing in the interest of the republic that would have had generals doing otherwise.

 

Anyway, you all know my opinion by now. I'd love to see L Quintus Sertorius, M. Porcius Cato and M. Tullius Cicero all have a debate here now between each other; I bet you all have some interesting insights into these times.

I'm sure you would like that. With Sertorius' and Cicero's commnets, I've finally had the pleasure of seeing opinions I agree with that weren't my own!

Edited by M. Porcius Cato

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I'm sure you would like that. With Sertorius' and Cicero's commnets, I've finally had the pleasure of seeing opinions I agree with that weren't my own!

 

A most scholarly observation!

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But Caesar's demand to keep his army wasn't for the republic--it was to threaten Rome should it displease Caesar. The senate did not intend to be blackmailed by Caesar--so they required that he disband his army like every other returning general. There was nothing in the interest of the republic that would have had generals doing otherwise.

 

MPC - what should a man do if his rivals intend to ruin, if not kill, him?

 

Caesar was not just [an]"other reurning general" was he?

 

And the motives of the Boni were not immediate - they were ancient and of revenge, malice and hatred. They were little men confronting a force; last defenders of a broken system. They went under as the deserved to.

 

Phil

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MPC - what should a man do if his rivals intend to ruin, if not kill, him?

Either beat them in the political sphere or retire from politics--just like everyone else does. Did you know that Caesar wasn't REALLY descended from Venus? Caesar hadn't any divine rights, and he wasn't the first to have rivals attempting to wreck his political career. From the earliest days of the republic right up to Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, competition was fierce. If a man isn't willing to stand for competition, he should quit the race.

 

Caesar was not just [an]"other returning general" was he?

Yes, he was--until he crossed the Rubicon. Then he was a traitor. What on earth are you thinking? That Caesar somehow is such a godling that he doesn't have to play by the rules? That's how a sociopath thinks of himself, but you needn't play along with his megalomania.

 

And the motives of the Boni were not immediate - they were ancient and of revenge, malice and hatred.

A sweeping generalization about a large and diverse group, and with no supporting evidence--very well done, Phil. Please, vent more.

Edited by M. Porcius Cato

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More to the point--my argument was that none of them were both necessary and sufficient for the fall of the republic, whereas Caesar was.

 

Surely Caesars rule of power wasn't necessary for the fall of the republic. It may have been sufficient but so only because of various structural changes in the cursus honorum from the the reign of Sulla in conjunction with the possibility of creating your own professional armies due to the landproblems ultimatley caused by the second punic war.

 

These factors must surely have been the necessary condition for the downfall of the republic. If Caesar had fought his gallic wars before the time of the Gracchi (or at least before the second punic war) he would never had have the opportunity to bypass the constitution as he so blatantly did in 49.

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Surely Caesars rule of power wasn't necessary for the fall of the republic. It may have been sufficient but so only because of various structural changes in the cursus honorum from the the reign of Sulla in conjunction with the possibility of creating your own professional armies due to the landproblems ultimatley caused by the second punic war.

 

Would you care to expand on your thesis? What, in your view, is the principal evidence supporting the idea that there were structural changes in the cursus honorum that benefitted Caesar? Isn't this based on the mistaken idea that Caesar was born in 100 instead of 102? Also, how exactly do you tie "personal armies" to the second punic war? I think I know where you're coming from, but I'd better not assume.

 

If Caesar had fought his gallic wars before the time of the Gracchi (or at least before the second punic war) he would never had have the opportunity to bypass the constitution as he so blatantly did in 49.

 

Actually, I think Rome would have been more vulnerable to a time-ported Caesar prior to the second punic war if only because Hannibal hadn't yet taken Rome to school to learn to fight. Moreover, the Senate had yet had no experience dealing with anyone like Caesar, so he would have found still less opposition in the forum than in the battlefield. In any case, this is a matter of pure speculation.

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Actually, I think Rome would have been more vulnerable to a time-ported Caesar prior to the second punic war if only because Hannibal hadn't yet taken Rome to school to learn to fight. Moreover, the Senate had yet had no experience dealing with anyone like Caesar, so he would have found still less opposition in the forum than in the battlefield. In any case, this is a matter of pure speculation.

 

Even in those times much of the military population was landed was it not? Add to that the lack of a long history of military adventurism (200-43BC), and you do not have a recipe for military revolt at all. The soldiers would never stand for it, there wouldn't be the resources for it either.

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Even in those times much of the military population was landed was it not? Add to that the lack of a long history of military adventurism (200-43BC), and you do not have a recipe for military revolt at all. The soldiers would never stand for it, there wouldn't be the resources for it either.

 

Good points. You're probably right.

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Would you care to expand on your thesis? What, in your view, is the principal evidence supporting the idea that there were structural changes in the cursus honorum that benefitted Caesar? Isn't this based on the mistaken idea that Caesar was born in 100 instead of 102? Also, how exactly do you tie "personal armies" to the second punic war? I think I know where you're coming from, but I'd better not assume.

 

Firstly, english is not my native language so bear with me.

 

The expansion of quaestors to a total of 20 lowered the already competitive roman individual the chance of reaching consulship and thereby (possibly) nobility. The tribunes were at the same time barred from climbing the cursus which, against my thesis, should cancel out the effect. The tribunal institution was, however, eventually restored by Pompey and Crassus. As the benefits from succesful warfare got higher and higher the competition amongst ambitious roman politicians rose to an alarming level.

This should not be seen as neither a necessary (as I mistakenly wrote earlier) nor a sufficient condition for the creation of dictators - but surely we can agree that it is very plausible that changes like this one catalysed the creation of a man like Caesar.

 

I do tie (albeit indirectly) the upcoming of professional armies with the Second Punic War on the basis that this war was a major cause for the rise of the landless proletariat residing in Rome - and to a lesser degree in the countryside. Hannibal had effectively burned and pillaged the italian countryside which in return meant that many returning peasants had to rebuild (with the perspective that grain was practically worthless due to import from Sicily and more important Egypt). Olives and caddle was expensive and since many from the senatus ordo had enriched themselves beyond believe from the ongoing wars the choice was simple - sell!

 

 

Actually, I think Rome would have been more vulnerable to a time-ported Caesar prior to the second punic war if only because Hannibal hadn't yet taken Rome to school to learn to fight. Moreover, the Senate had yet had no experience dealing with anyone like Caesar, so he would have found still less opposition in the forum than in the battlefield. In any case, this is a matter of pure speculation.

 

Favonius Cornelius took the words out of my mouth.

Edited by fonss

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The expansion of quaestors to a total of 20 lowered the already competitive roman individual the chance of reaching consulship and thereby (possibly) nobility. The tribunes were at the same time barred from climbing the cursus which, against my thesis, should cancel out the effect. The tribunal institution was, however, eventually restored by Pompey and Crassus. As the benefits from succesful warfare got higher and higher the competition amongst ambitious roman politicians rose to an alarming level.

This should not be seen as neither a necessary (as I mistakenly wrote earlier) nor a sufficient condition for the creation of dictators - but surely we can agree that it is very plausible that changes like this one catalysed the creation of a man like Caesar.

I don't see the connection between the expansion of the number of quaestors, the fall and rebirth of the tribunate, and the increased payoffs for military success. It seems that the last element was certainly important in explaining Caesar's rise to power, but I fail to see how that element connects to the other two reforms.

 

I do tie (albeit indirectly) the upcoming of professional armies with the Second Punic War on the basis that this war was a major cause for the rise of the landless proletariat residing in Rome - and to a lesser degree in the countryside.

 

OK, let's grant the premise for the sake of argument--still, what percentage of Caesar's army were proletarii? Does anyone have a firm, educated guess? After the Marian reforms, the proletarii only made up 5% of the new army (according to one source I read but have unfortunately forgotten). If that figure holds, then even if the landless in Rome doubled, it would still have only a small effect on the size of Caesar's army.

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The expansion of the numbers of quaestors meant that more (ambitious) people had to share the same piece of cake - hence competition rose.

 

I do not claim that Caesar crossing the Rubicon in 49 was a direct consequence of these structural changes, but I do claim that it didn't make perspectives for the republic any better.

 

OK, let's grant the premise for the sake of argument--still, what percentage of Caesar's army were proletarii? Does anyone have a firm, educated guess? After the Marian reforms, the proletarii only made up 5% of the new army (according to one source I read but have unfortunately forgotten). If that figure holds, then even if the landless in Rome doubled, it would still have only a small effect on the size of Caesar's army.

 

Sulla needed land for his 120.000 veterans (and indeed provided all of them with land), Pompey needed land for his soldiers, and Caesar was no excpetion to this. A soldiers loyalty to his general was, in he late republic, unmistakenly linked to the generals capability to provide pension (land) and wages. All this was a direct consequence of economic and social changes that happened after the second punic war.

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Sulla needed land for his 120.000 veterans (and indeed provided all of them with land), Pompey needed land for his soldiers, and Caesar was no excpetion to this. A soldiers loyalty to his general was, in he late republic, unmistakenly linked to the generals capability to provide pension (land) and wages. All this was a direct consequence of economic and social changes that happened after the second punic war.

 

But the last sentence is the issue under dispute, specifically whether the Hannibalic war necessitated the creation of private armies.

 

If Sulla, Pompey, and Caesar had not provided land to their veterans, their veterans would still have left service far richer than they had entered it. These soldiers had been paid for their service; they were given leave to rape and pillage the provinces at their leisure; and their commanders grew monstrously rich from their campaigns. So, there's no point in pretending that the soldiers would have faced starvation upon leaving the service. Moreover, in every case, the commanders you mentioned could have patiently attempted to purchase land out of their own purse for their soldiers. But they didn't. They relied on confiscation, proscription, and civil war to evacuate speedily those Roman lands they wished to disburse to their veterans. In short, Sulla, Pompey, and Caesar came to view Roman property holders in the same way that they learned to view non-Roman property holders--as de-humanized fodder for their own ambition. Sulla, Pompey, and Caesar weren't frustrated social workers--they were thugs who were accustomed to taking what they wanted, rights be damned.

 

What is the relevance of the Hannibalic war to these affairs? The connection seems very slight to me. If I'm misunderstanding you, please let me know.

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What is the relevance of the Hannibalic war to these affairs? The connection seems very slight to me. If I'm misunderstanding you, please let me know.

I'm wondering that too. Perhaps because it gave inspiration to so many of the gratuitous campaigns by avaricious upstarts in the 2nd century BC?

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What is the relevance of the Hannibalic war to these affairs? The connection seems very slight to me. If I'm misunderstanding you, please let me know.

I'm wondering that too. Perhaps because it gave inspiration to so many of the gratuitous campaigns by avaricious upstarts in the 2nd century BC?

 

The only connection that I can readily accept is that the expansion of territory as a result of the Punic and Macedonian Wars created an environment and the opportunity to make the later transgressions possible. The additional influx of slave labor has long been argued as having a negative impact on the landless citizenry of Rome and leading to the rise of the populares movement. Whether this was a real condition of hardship, a perceived slight, political propaganda or some combination of thereof is of course often debated around here.

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