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M. Porcius Cato

The Lex Gabinia

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You're quite correct.


Pompey's command was given to him by an extraordinary law that specifically extended his proconsular imperium to include, as I recall, unlimited authority over all of the Mediterranean Sea, and also over all land within fifty miles of the shoreline.


Caesar's command was, ostensibly, a standard proconsular commission. However, the strength of his block of supporters in Rome enabled him to breach the legal standards restricting the abuse of proconsular power without facing any substantial opposition from anyone - save Cato, that is.


Pompey's breach of the restrictions on his imperium were slight and, in any case, there were few restrictions to begin with. Caesar's were much more perfidious for knowingly breaking the laws governing his power, and counting on the docility of his enemies to allow him to get away with it.


It is obvious that Caesar was counting on his enemies to let him get away with what he had perpetrated during his consulate of 60 B.C.E., and subsequently in his ten years in Gaul. It was their determination to uphold the rule of law that caused Caesar to launch the Bellum Civilis.


Even if comparisons to the current straits of American politics are for the most part baseless, I still dislike the idea of such a precedent.


EDIT - I think that when the article refers to a "special extended command" of Caesar's, he refers to the fact that no man would normally be alotted two successive proconsulates, except perhaps in times of dire need (Scipio in Spain and successively, Africa.).

Edited by L. Quintus Sertorius

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The most strking part it is not that the powers granted to Pompey were exceptional and not neccesary, but the fact that he secured the submission of the pirates without defeating them but almost thru enlisting them. I don't have the sources at hand but I remember that he helped the pirates defend themselves against a Roman governor. No wonder that his son will be the lider of the pirates after his death.

He clearly misused the powers he was given after a scare and became the most influential mem in Rome.

I think that after becaming so powerfull he made it difficult for anybody else to rule Rome and he was behind comotions and intrigues that weekend the Senate and opened the way for Caesar's coup that suited him well. If he could defeat Caesar, and he had any chance to do it, he would became the undisputed ruler without raising the opposition that Caesar did.

I largely agree with Harris as Lex Gabinia was one of the events that led to the downfall of the Republic, but his omission of the events of Marius-Sulla, Antonius-Brutus and Octavian-Antonius civil wars that were unrelated to this law it's what makes his statement weak.

The fall of the Republic was a long and complex process.

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