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M. Porcius Cato

Nobiles in the Caesarian Civil War

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The important point is that this list puts to bed the simplistic nonsense that Caesar was some sort of champion in a class war between the nobiles and people. If anything, the nobiles were (as in the case of Sulla) on the side of a patrician marching on Rome to put an end to a popularly elected government. Indeed, scanning the list, it looks as if Caesar has not only more nobiles on his side but more patricians on his side as well (but I haven't counted them yet). Moreover, that citadel of inherited privilege--the augury--was overwhelmingly Caesarian (8/11).

 

I have never subscribed to the theory that Caesar was a champion of the People, but for the sake of the argument, before we reach such a far-reaching conclusion, shouldn't we know the numbers involved in the other groups? You hinted that they were comparatively small, but presumably the entire list compiled by S-B is based on men who expressed an allegiance or neutrality. Were there men who were not canvassed at all? For instance, if we are talking about - say - 300 senators and only half of them have taken part in the 'study', how can we reach the definite conclusion that more nobles supported Caesar?

 

As for the populares ticket, we all know that the nobiles did not shy from playing that card if they thought it would suit their own purposes.

Great piece of research MPC, is this info available online someplace? I agree totally with your "simplistic nonsense" observation. I think the left/right assumption is easy for our modern sensibilities to fall into, we're always trying to classify so to speak. Roman politics was a rather loose collection, and subsequent to change system of temporary alliances that gradually became more polarized IMO. A precursor to party politics perhaps? The traditional (Optimates)/Populares were a means or method of getting something accomplished simplistically speaking. As we know politics at Rome was a personal affair, Virtus, Dignitas, etc...So was Caesar a "champion" of the people in a Robin Hood sense, nah...But did people in need benefit from some of his reforms, yes. I forget the exact figures, (80,000 families with 3 or more children?) benefited from his land redistribution program. Would any of you agree that the events surrounding the late republic, Gracchi to the 2nd settlement were manifestations of the struggle of the orders?

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Great piece of research MPC, is this info available online someplace?

You can download the CQ article from JSTOR. If you don't have JSTOR access, I can send you a PDF of the article.

 

But did people in need benefit from some of his reforms, yes. I forget the exact figures, (80,000 families with 3 or more children?) benefited from his land redistribution program.

But if as many were rendered homeless by the lex agraria Campania (and there is evidence that very many families were left homeless to make room for Pompey's vets--there is a discussion on this issue elsewhere), then it seems that Caesar may have been playing zero-sum politics: in effect, robbing farmer Peter to pay soldier Paul. Also, the large number you cite refers to eligibility, not to the beneficiaries. The number of actual beneficiaries is unknown.

 

Would any of you agree that the events surrounding the late republic, Gracchi to the 2nd settlement were manifestations of the struggle of the orders?

The struggle of the orders was a struggle between two hereditary classes--patricians, who were descended from the founding families of the city, and plebeians, who were newcomers after the founding of the city. (In this sense, the Roman historians were probably onto something when they depicted Romulus--the founder of the city--as the one who ordered the city into patricians and plebeians.) Historically, the plebeian order had an interest in maintaining the power of their tribunes, and certainly many of the events in the late republic were centered around tribunician power, and also the struggle of the new newcomers (esp non-Roman Italians) to attain civil rights. In this sense, there is some continuity between the struggle of the ancient hereditary orders and the events of the middle to late Republic. However, there were other issues at stake too, including especially the problem of containing political violence in Rome, which--by threatening to topple the state entirely or leaving it in the grip of a Sulla--posed the greatest threat to plebeian civil rights since the patrician Appius Claudius the Decemvir raped the chaste plebeian Verginia (or whatever that legendary event is meant to stand for).

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But did people in need benefit from some of his reforms, yes. I forget the exact figures, (80,000 families with 3 or more children?) benefited from his land redistribution program.

But if as many were rendered homeless by the lex agraria Campania (and there is evidence that very many families were left homeless to make room for Pompey's vets--there is a discussion on this issue elsewhere), then it seems that Caesar may have been playing zero-sum politics: in effect, robbing farmer Peter to pay soldier Paul. Also, the large number you cite refers to eligibility, not to the beneficiaries. The number of actual beneficiaries is unknown.

So the supposition that the Ager Publicus was utilized by the ruling class and staffed by slaves is false?

 

A quick wiki...

In the earliest periods of Roman expansion in central Italy, the ager publicus was used for Roman and (after 338 BC) Latin colonies. Later tradition held that as far back as the 400s BC, the Patrician and Plebeian classes disputed the rights of the rich to exploit the land, and in 367 BC two Plebeian Tribunes, Gaius Licinius Stolo and Lucius Sextius Sextinus Lateranus promulgated a law which limited the amount of the ager publicus to be held by any individual to 500 iugera, roughly 350 acres. In the half century following the Battle of Telamon (c. 225 BC), the Roman fully absorbed Cisalpine Gaul, adding huge swathes of land to the ager publicus, land which was more often than not given to new Latin colonies or to small freeholders. In the south of Italy, huge tracts of newly re-incorporated lands remained in the ager publicus, but tended to be leased out to wealthy citizens in return for rents, often ignoring the Laws of 367. Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus attempted to address some of these violations in 133 BC, which led to much redistribution of the land. A similar move by his brother Gaius Sempronius Gracchus in 123 BC failed because of his death the following year. In 111 BC, a new law was passed which allowed individual smallholders to assume ownership of their part of the ager publicus.

Edited by P.Clodius

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So the supposition that the Ager Publicus was utilized by the ruling class and staffed by slaves is false?

 

There were certainly latifundia in Campania. That's not at issue. The problem is that leased smallholdings (i.e., "peasant" farms) were also very common in Campania, much more so than the large villas (for a review of the archaeological evidence, see N. Rosenstein's "Rome at War".

 

For an on-line review of the legislation, see Public Lands and Agrarian Laws of the Roman Republic:

Cicero, in his second speech upon the land bill of Rullus, when speaking of the consequences that would follow its enactment, declared that if the Campanian cultivators were ejected they would have no place

to go, and he truly says that
such a measure would not be a settlement of plebeians upon the land, but an ejection and expulsion of them from it
.

 

Did it pay to send out a swarm of 100,000 idle paupers who, for two generations, had been fed at the public charge from the corn-bins of Rome, simply in order that a like number of honest peasants, who had been not

only self-supporting but had paid a large part of the Roman revenue, should be compelled to sacrifice their goods in a glutted market and become debauched and idle?

 

Writing on the lex Iulia agraria Campania, Long wrote:

"This monstrous, this abominable crime was committed to serve a party purpose; and the criminal was a Roman consul ... too intelligent not to know what he was doing, and unscrupulous enough to do anything that would serve his own ends."

 

What a friend of the dispossessed was Caesar, who dispossessed so many! If I were a populare (which I'm not), I'd say, "No wonder Caesar had so many nobiles on his side!"

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Writing on the lex Iulia agraria Campania, Long wrote:

"This monstrous, this abominable crime was committed to serve a party purpose; and the criminal was a Roman consul ... too intelligent not to know what he was doing, and unscrupulous enough to do anything that would serve his own ends."

I believe the Primary Sources on which Long formed such an opinion to have been "mistaken".

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I believe the Primary Sources on which Long formed such an opinion to have been "mistaken".

 

How do you determine whether the primary sources are mistaken, and what evidence would support your re-evaluation of the primary sources?

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Help me. If Caesar had so much support from the oligarchy, why didn't the Senate let him stand for consul while he was in his province? Please don't cite The Law. It could have been very easily taken care of.

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Help me. If Caesar had so much support from the oligarchy, why didn't the Senate let him stand for consul while he was in his province? Please don't cite The Law. It could have been very easily taken care of.

 

I think support doesn't mean unequivocal support. I mean, you would support McCain to get rid of ethanol subsidies, but would you support him if he proposed attacking and levelling Iran?

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Help me. If Caesar had so much support from the oligarchy, why didn't the Senate let him stand for consul while he was in his province? Please don't cite The Law. It could have been very easily taken care of.

 

I know the law is very irritating to uphold--it would be much easier to just do whatever makes the powerful happy, wouldn't it?--but the law forbade Caesar from standing for consul in absentia. Moreover, once Caesar had crossed the Rubicon with his troops, he was no longer in absentia, and the Senate DID offer to let Caesar stand for consul. Caesar refused--demonstrating that all his previous objections were simply pretexts for his real object, the dictatorship.

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MPC, think of a modern event, WWI. It is said that once the wheels of war were in motion, they were impossible to stop. Ditto with Caesar? As far as LAW or CONSTITUTIONS are concerned, the First Triumvirate wasn't stopped. Nor were the supremes concerned about appointing a U.S. president.

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A thought just hit me.

Perhaps Caesar knew his actions in Gaul were illegal. And wanting to hold on to his ill-gotten gains, made a roll of the dice.

Hard to step down when you pay your tens of thousands of men and they swear loyalty to you. 8 years of that is enough to turn anyone's head.

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A thought just hit me.

Perhaps Caesar knew his actions in Gaul were illegal. And wanting to hold on to his ill-gotten gains, made a roll of the dice.

Hard to step down when you pay your tens of thousands of men and they swear loyalty to you. 8 years of that is enough to turn anyone's head.

Yes, indeed.

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