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Mosquito

Caesar - personality

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First, I agree with everything that Neil said.

 

Second, I think we're in agreement that Caesar's being a clinical narcissist is less than certain. Still--by Jupiter's stone--can't we at least agree that he was a vain, reckless, power-hungry manipulator?? Leaving aside whether you think it's OK to be a vain, reckless, power-hungry manipulator, or whether other Romans were too, or whether Caesar was justified in his vanity/recklessness/etc due to his divine origins or Marian posturing or whatever, does anyone have any evidence against this characterization?

 

Last, if you are a committed amoralist and therefore don't want to pass moral judgment on anything (or nothing ancient or older than 30), then why not at least address the aspects of Caesar's personality that have no moral valence. For example, does anyone think Caesar was an introvert? Or that he loved routine and hated change? Or prided himself on his punctuality? Or found himself easily agreeing with everyone around him? Or was the nervous type? To me, all these characteristics seem very far from the Caesar depicted in the sources, which depict a fellow was open-minded, careless, extroverted, competitive, and self-confident. (Neil might recognize these characterizations as corresponding roughly to the "Big Five" personality traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.)

 

Cato - the more I read through this thread, the more I realise that the debate in question is nothing at all to do with what I was trying to get it - which was the simple thing of theory versus diagnostics. A doctor could postulate on what a set of symptoms/signs constituted, but if he was any kind of competent medic he would add the rider: 'But I would need to examine the patient before committing myself'. Therefore, anything we try to say about Caesar is theory only, but that does not mean that it has no value (as I said before, in answer to Neil, I have retracted that opening stance of mine). There is a case, however, for saying that I've gone off at a pedantic tangent! :ph34r:

 

What has struck me, however, especially from your posts, is that I also find myself hoist with my own petard! For years I have defended Tiberius because 'I understand him psychologically'. I find myself examining all the evidence about Caligula to see if 'there was a reason for his behaviour'. So - hats off to all you posters who are backing me onto the ropes here..... :lol:

 

For me, one of the greatest things about this Forum is that we can read, learn, debate and even be willing to change our stance.

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The thread provoked me to look at issues of mental illness, and apparent personality disorders in relation to known medicaments at this time. Had GJC been given medication for his epilepsy the balance of probabilities suggest the following as "cooling" drugs (so enumerated by Galen at a later time , but referenced to earlier Hippocratic work): poppy, henbane, mandrake and hemlock. From my blog entries you may note that the possibility of altered behaviour (if administered unwisely) is not impossible with any of these medicaments. So I do not wish to infer that the Divine One was a dope fiend , but the extant conventional medication would need to have been controllled with care.

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What has struck me, however, especially from your posts, is that I also find myself hoist with my own petard! For years I have defended Tiberius because 'I understand him psychologically'. I find myself examining all the evidence about Caligula to see if 'there was a reason for his behaviour'.

 

 

I was always saying that Tiberius was one of the best Roman emperors and I belive he dont even needs to be defended.

As for Caligula there was very interesting work written by Roland Auget who proved that Caligula could have been not mad and that his actions (even making a horse - senator) are logic and consequent.

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As for Caligula there was very interesting work written by Roland Auget who proved that Caligula could have been not mad and that his actions (even making a horse - senator) are logic and consequent.

 

Yes, Mosquito - and a similar theory can be found in Balsdon's 'Emperor Gaius'. But we are going to end up going off topic - or I can hear the thundering hooves of PP's horse as he gallops towards us to split this thread into an 'Emperors - Personality' thread. :romansoldier:

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Thought provoking thread.

 

My only contribution is to ask; What we have as data that gives us an insight to his psychological condition? We've got ancient works that have their own interpretations possibly biased through a contemporary lens--some more sympathetic than others, we have countless interpretations of his actions, as well as clues as to his health pointing towards some sort of condition that tended towards seizures.

 

But we don't have Caesar to analyze. Or don't we? What we do have in his own words is "De Bello Gallico". Understanding that it's part military dispatch, part propaganda, etc., and probably written, cultivated and re-written to a polished exterior. But what is left should still give us some clues as to his personality (It's been a couple of years and I'll have to dig up my copy to review).

 

I think it's terribly relevant as it is the only account from the source himself. That being said, does it give up anything insightful if read from a psychoanalytical perspective?

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Thought provoking thread.

 

My only contribution is to ask; What we have as data that gives us an insight to his psychological condition? We've got ancient works that have their own interpretations possibly biased through a contemporary lens--some more sympathetic than others, we have countless interpretations of his actions, as well as clues as to his health pointing towards some sort of condition that tended towards seizures.

 

But we don't have Caesar to analyze. Or don't we? What we do have in his own words is "De Bello Gallico". Understanding that it's part military dispatch, part propaganda, etc., and probably written, cultivated and re-written to a polished exterior. But what is left should still give us some clues as to his personality (It's been a couple of years and I'll have to dig up my copy to review).

 

I think it's terribly relevant as it is the only account from the source himself. That being said, does it give up anything insightful if read from a psychoanalytical perspective?

 

 

Well said Virgil. Thats far better argument than considerations on mental health of the man who died over 2000 years ago.

Its hard to say that one can get impression that author of Gallic and Civil war was mentally unstable. In opposite - even political enemies of Caesar - like Cicero - admitted that it was great work. Its over 2000 years since people learn latin on his work, learning his style and trying to master their skills in the way that Caesar has showned.

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We have sources about Caesar (e.g., Cicero's letters) that predate Augustus' cult, so compare them to later sources and see if Caesar's personality is depicted any differently.

 

 

Oh yes, Cicero's letters are great evidence. Author widelly describes himself how great he is, how important he is, how he has saved the Republic - and how small are others.

People like Pompey and Casar are described as great and wonderful when they are in frindship with Cicero and as evil when are not.

Letters of Cicero are telling us more about Cicero than about others because are highly subjective.

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Its hard to say that one can get impression that author of Gallic and Civil war was mentally unstable. In opposite - even political enemies of Caesar - like Cicero - admitted that it was great work. Its over 2000 years since people learn latin on his work, learning his style and trying to master their skills in the way that Caesar has showned.

 

For the umpteenth time, no one has said that Caesar was mentally unstable, not in the sense that he was incompetent to function at normal tasks. In fact, being a good writer is in no way inconsistent with pathological narcissism; indeed, being a good writer would be a real boon to the pathological narcissist.

 

From the DSM-IV:

Diagnostic criteria for 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

 

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

 

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

(4) requires excessive admiration

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

 

I'm not going to go over this list point-by-point, but this seems like a pretty good description of the man who cheated on his wives, betrayed his friends, whined continually about how everyone was jealous of him, bragged of killing a million human beings and enslaving another million, marched an army on his own country to avoid going to trial for war crimes, had himself declared dictator-for-life, refused the title of king only because he said it was beneath him, and had his statue placed in temples with the inscription "To the invincible god".

 

All this, I'm sure, is just normal behavior :lol:

Edited by M. Porcius Cato

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MPC, which five or all nine plus your observations?

Let me tear a page out of your book - citations, please, from non-biased, trustworthy ancient authors.

 

Your word on most topics is good enough for me - but not here. Still, you dont have to "quote", your word is good enough.

Edited by Gaius Octavius

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Julius Caesar was the founder on the worlds greatest empire. Many scholars of antiquity have attempted to reason the personality of this man. Lord Bacon thought Julius Caesar to be the most complete character of all antiquity. " Nature seems incapable of such extraordinary combinations as composed his versatile capacity which was the wonder even of the Romans themselves. The first General-- he fought 50 battles , in which 1,192,000 men fell-- the Only Triumphant politician --- inferior to none in eloquence--comparable to any in the attainments of wisdom, in an age made up of the greatest commanders , statemen, orators, and philosophers , that ever appeared in the world--an author who composed a perfect specimen of military annals in his travelling carriage--he wrote as he fought, said Quinctilian-- at one time in a controversy with Cato , at another writing a treatise on punning, and collecting a set of good sayings-- fighting and making love at the same moment, and willing to abandon both his empire and his mistress for a sight of the foundations of the Nile. Such did Julius Caesar appear to his contemporaries and to those of subsequent ages who were the most inclined to deplore and execrate his fatal genius"

 

also on the topic of Caligula--- his condition of not having more than 3 hours sleep at any given time was the prime reason he lost his humanity.

 

regards,

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MPC, which five or all nine plus your observations?

Let me tear a page out of your book - citations, please, from non-biased, trustworthy ancient authors.

 

That's not a page out of a book--that's a whole book! Although I'll politely decline your extravagant assignment, my bet is that one could make a damned good case for at least five of these from Caesar's own writing in the Gallic Wars and Civil Wars.

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That's not a page out of a book--that's a whole book!

 

And, I'll bet that you are writing it! BTW, did you see Segestan above?

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Its hard to say that one can get impression that author of Gallic and Civil war was mentally unstable. In opposite - even political enemies of Caesar - like Cicero - admitted that it was great work. Its over 2000 years since people learn latin on his work, learning his style and trying to master their skills in the way that Caesar has showned.

 

For the umpteenth time, no one has said that Caesar was mentally unstable[/i

 

...Indeed. Strictly speaking, Personality disorders are not even mental illnesses - they are patterns of behaviour and personality traits which are (very) extreme forms of those displayed by us all. They require defining however because their consequences can be disastrous for the individuals concerned, or society in general. They are also useful definitions, as sufferers do tend to fall into the categories as outlined by the DSM-IV. To say that someone had one of these disorders does not mean we are demeaning their place in history, and no - one is saying Caesar was a 'bad man' because he may have had one.

 

A more in depth reading of Caesars life than a coffee table book on his campaigns should be enough to tell anyone that he was comparable to Hitler, Stalin and Bonaparte. And that is before the subject of personality disorders even raises itself.

 

I think Caesar fans are missing the point here, as we keep going round in circles trying to point this out. The personality disorder thing is incidental, the possibility of him having one being raised merely to explain things which are already a matter of record. Caesar did march against his own country, was instrumental in bringing down a centuries old republic, did wage war illegally and was responsible for the deaths of many Romans in the civil war he initiated. Now, in order to asses how 'good' he was, let us balance that with the following: He was a good orator. He wrote good books. He was a good general. He expanded the Roman World.

 

I can see why he was murdered.

Edited by Northern Neil

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Julius Caesar was the founder on the worlds greatest empire

 

Julius Caesar founded an empire? Boy that's news to me

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Something has just struck me from MPC's post above describing the Narcissistic pesonality. Who defined this? When was it defined? I'll bet it sure as hell wasn't defined when Narcissus was a lad! :angry: Or Alexander (whom many of the criteria could also fit) or Caesar.

 

Now, have all the criteria that are cited as signs of this disorder been defined from observation of people exhibiting these signs. Are we chicken or egg here? Or to put it more bluntly, have psychologists looked at people throughout history who 'made a name for themselves' and taken strands of their personality to use as a measure? That is an over-simplification, of course, but I hope you see what I am driving at.

 

This may well belong in another kind of discussion, but I would be grateful for explanations - even in another thread, or PM.

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