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L. Quintus Sertorius

The Cause That Lacked Naught But A Cause

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If we accept all of this, then the real "killer" of the Roman Republic would have been C. Marius.

 

Creating a condition that may have aided the ambitions of unscrupulous men is not the same as being guilty of the murder itself. While Marius (along with men such as Sulla and Cinna) may have contributed various precedents that men like Pompey, Crassus and Caesar were able manipulate to their own advantage, it was the latter who actually did the deed.

 

If we should believe in Plutarch (Vita Marius, Ch. 29 to 31) and Appian (Civil Wars, Book 1, Ch. 30 to 32), Marius, Saturninus and their allies were ambitious and unscrupulous enough to manipulate to their own advantage the precedents and conditions they had contributed for, at least during Marius' sixth consecutive consulship (100 BC); if they actually didn't do the deed, it would be mainly because of internal conflict, lack of popular support and a strong opposition from their enemies.

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If we should believe in Plutarch (Vita Marius, Ch. 29 to 31) and Appian (Civil Wars, Book 1, Ch. 30 to 32), Marius, Saturninus and their allies were ambitious and unscrupulous enough to manipulate to their own advantage the precedents and conditions they had contributed for, at least during Marius' sixth consecutive consulship (100 BC); if they actually didn't do the deed, it would be mainly because of internal conflict, lack of popular support and a strong opposition from their enemies.

 

I'm not sure I understand the point, or what it has to do with the motivations of Caesar's soldiers? Civil war was not unavoidable because of the Marian reforms, it only made the possibility more viable. At any point men such as Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, etc. could've voluntary given up their commands. The fact that some didn't isn't the fault of the military structure, but of the individuals who chose to take advantage of that structure. The Republic survived Marius and Sulla (even if we might view its status as precarious with the benefit of retrospection), but it did not truly survive Caesar. The actions of predecessors should not excuse the actions of later individuals.

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I agree with PP: Someone else may have loaded the gun, but Caesar pulled the trigger.

 

Whether the "someone else" was Marius is (to me) an open question. The military reforms of Marius are always discussed as a revolutionary change that created private armies, but I'm not so sure that Marius is as much to blame here as was Sulla. I'm currently devouring "The Army in the Roman Revolution," and I'm continually surprised by the extent to which Sulla's military reforms destabilized the republic. Hopefully, I'll have a review of the book shortly--it's quite germane to this discussion.

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If we should believe in Plutarch (Vita Marius, Ch. 29 to 31) and Appian (Civil Wars, Book 1, Ch. 30 to 32), Marius, Saturninus and their allies were ambitious and unscrupulous enough to manipulate to their own advantage the precedents and conditions they had contributed for, at least during Marius' sixth consecutive consulship (100 BC); if they actually didn't do the deed, it would be mainly because of internal conflict, lack of popular support and a strong opposition from their enemies.

 

I'm not sure I understand the point, or what it has to do with the motivations of Caesar's soldiers?

Before the so called "Marian" reforms, Roman soldiers were common citizens under their general's authority (Caesar or whoever) only for some months; after the MR, that authority was extended over many years during all their professional life and even beyond it. I think you understood the point long before me.

Civil war was not unavoidable because of the Marian reforms, it only made the possibility more viable.

I think the time limit of the levy of each consulship was specifically designed to prevent the development of personal armies, indispensable to any coup d'etat. The MR made that possible. Period.

At any point men such as Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, etc. could've voluntary given up their commands.

Roman generals before MR, virtuous or not, simply hadn't that choice.

The fact that some didn't isn't the fault of the military structure, but of the individuals who chose to take advantage of that structure.

The NRA argument; weapons don't kill. I think that is a matter of perspective and hardly an absolute.

The Republic survived Marius and Sulla (even if we might view its status as precarious with the benefit of retrospection), but it did not truly survive Caesar.

That was probably because Sulla died too soon.

The actions of predecessors should not excuse the actions of later individuals.

The MR were some of the actions of these predecessors (Marius and Sulla) ; both certainly did their best to take advantage from these reforms, even beyond the law.

I'm certainly not trying to excuse any action of Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, Octavius, Anthony or any other later individual.

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I agree with PP: Someone else may have loaded the gun, but Caesar pulled the trigger.

 

Whether the "someone else" was Marius is (to me) an open question. The military reforms of Marius are always discussed as a revolutionary change that created private armies, but I'm not so sure that Marius is as much to blame here as was Sulla. I'm currently devouring "The Army in the Roman Revolution," and I'm continually surprised by the extent to which Sulla's military reforms destabilized the republic. Hopefully, I'll have a review of the book shortly--it's quite germane to this discussion.

Touch

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I agree with PP: Someone else may have loaded the gun, but Caesar pulled the trigger.

 

Whether the "someone else" was Marius is (to me) an open question. The military reforms of Marius are always discussed as a revolutionary change that created private armies, but I'm not so sure that Marius is as much to blame here as was Sulla. I'm currently devouring "The Army in the Roman Revolution," and I'm continually surprised by the extent to which Sulla's military reforms destabilized the republic. Hopefully, I'll have a review of the book shortly--it's quite germane to this discussion.

 

The only mistake that Marius made in his reorganisation was to allow the cult of personality to take precedence. To him, it was a perfectly acceptable means of ensuring loyalty of the army on campaign. Remember that ancient armies did not have the logisitics and communications that we take for granted today. They built some great roads (for the ease of military and governmental communication, not the public) and they had clever signalling systems, but that just isn't the same as being able to radio HQ and tell them there's a problem and could they help please.

 

A commander in the field must be able to tell his men to stand and fight. His men must risk their lives in hand to hand combat with real, sharp blades at his request. Battles can be dangerous places. Lethal ones too. Therefore, the leadership qualities of an ancient commander are essential to inspire and control his men. Therefore it was logical that the legions swore an oath of obedience, and that the commander assumed the role Rome's representative.

 

Where this system becomes unstable is the motivations of commanders whose ambitions are not the same as everyone elses. The old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely was never more true in roman politics. To quote a recent movie - "With an army behind you, you could be very political..."

 

Might is Right in roman eyes. This was a conquest state, an empire built on the back of military threat and action even in republican days. Yes, diplomacy and trade had a part to play, but it remains clear that Rome's success was based on a relentless will to fight. It was a competitive society - very competitive - where people literally murdered each other to get to the top. It therefore follows that army commanders would inevitably be candidates for political power, and this was the primary reason why Rome preferred safe, sensible, non-extrovert generals who knew their place and were loyal to Rome's leadership.

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The only mistake that Marius made in his reorganisation was to allow the cult of personality to take precedence. To him, it was a perfectly acceptable means of ensuring loyalty of the army on campaign. Remember that ancient armies did not have the logisitics and communications that we take for granted today. They built some great roads (for the ease of military and governmental communication, not the public) and they had clever signalling systems, but that just isn't the same as being able to radio HQ and tell them there's a problem and could they help please.

 

A commander in the field must be able to tell his men to stand and fight. His men must risk their lives in hand to hand combat with real, sharp blades at his request. Battles can be dangerous places. Lethal ones too. Therefore, the leadership qualities of an ancient commander are essential to inspire and control his men. Therefore it was logical that the legions swore an oath of obedience, and that the commander assumed the role Rome's representative.

Someone should have told that to Scipio in Zama or Paulus in Pydna.

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Before the so called "Marian" reforms, Roman soldiers were common citizens under their general's authority (Caesar or whoever) only for some months; after the MR, that authority was extended over many years during all their professional life and even beyond it. I think you understood the point long before me.

 

The Marian reforms had absolutely nothing to do with Consular authority or constitutional processes. It only allowed non landing holding citizens to be recruited without special circumstances. Roman legions had been involved in long term campaigns well before Marius (the Punic wars being the most notable).

 

I think the time limit of the levy of each consulship was specifically designed to prevent the development of personal armies, indispensable to any coup d'etat. The MR made that possible. Period.

 

The time limit of consulships were to limit the length of governing power and to create a check and balance between two authorities (therefore reducing the threat of monarchy). While restriction of military authority may have been an ancillary benefit, this was not the primary reason. Shared consular military authority largely prevented rogue military action. The Marian reforms only made recruiting of armies for long term campaigns easier but it was the Lex Gabinia (also Manilia) and Lex Vatinia that allowed the long term campaigns of Pompey and Caesar, not the military structure developed by Marius. These commands still would've been possible without the Marian reforms, depending on the available manpower of course.

 

If you wish to blame tribunician corruption, foreign threat or the ineptitude of previous generals for the conditions which allowed the consecutive Marian consulships and the precedents for personal ambition that clearly affected the following generation, I can understand. However the reform of legionary structure and the recruiting pool did not make Caesar cross the Rubicon.

 

At any point men such as Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, etc. could've voluntary given up their commands.
Roman generals before MR, virtuous or not, simply hadn't that choice. The NRA argument; weapons don't kill. I think that is a matter of perspective and hardly an absolute.

 

All players involved had choices to make. Some choices might have been more brash than others, but everyone has to make choices. The conditions that existed may have made certain actions plausible or the idea of 'chivalrous' behavior unlikely, but pre-destination is absurd.

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Quoting MPC:

"Legally, the sacrumentum, or military oath, was sworn to the presiding commander, to whom the soldier vowed to obey, to execute the orders of his officers, and not to desert (Polyb. 6.21.2). Oaths to the republic itself--which might have saved Rome from Caesar's designs--were typically required of foreign nations and allies, but such an oath was never required of soldiers. Thus, Caesar had only to command his men to cross the Rubicon, and they had no choice in the matter."

and admitting that what there is said about Caesar can also be applied to other Roman Generals (ie, Sulla), this oath was a clear restriction of consular and constitutional authority.

I understand that the length of this oath was radically extended by the "Marian" reforms.

Now, the Lex Gabina (67 BC), Lex Manilia (66 BC) and Lex Vatinia (59 BC) couldn't have had any effect over the first march of a Roman Army against Rome by Sulla at 88 BC, almost two decades after the "Marian" reforms.

MPC also mentioned the enthusiastic support given to Sulla by his soldiers, ie when they stoned the tribunes send by the Senate under Marius' influence; I think it's evident that Sulla would have not been able to attack Rome without such support.

I also think that no Roman general in the pre-marian era even tried to march over Rome, at least from the time of the Punic wars.

 

My obvious question is:

Do you think the "Marian" reforms (or any other reform from the late II and/or early I Centuries BC) had anything to do with the feasibility of Roman commanders like Sulla to convince their soldiers to do the unthinkable and attack Rome?

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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Well sheeit, I turn my back for 6 months and what do I find, a deluge of Naughty boy Caesar posts. The end of the republic had its roots in the second punic war, rich individuals/conglomerates buying up land because the owners were drafted to fight a mismanaged conflict. The Head Count, (displaced persons) had a votive weight of 1, is this right? Who would speak for these people? Those that attempted tended to die at the hands of the ruling class. As for the "cause" quote, consider its source. While I love Cicero for the unique insight he offers into this most critical of time periods, I cannot take the quote seriously when coming from someone who regarded the people as "scum". The cause was just, the republic was sick (not necessarily beyond repair), the cause required a Caesar to lead it.

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Caesar marched on Rome to speak for the poor? Funny he never mentioned this... nor ever spoke for the poor either--guess he was too busy threatening their tribunes with death while having a crown fit around his balding pate.

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Caesar marched on Rome to speak for the poor? Funny he never mentioned this... nor ever spoke for the poor either--guess he was too busy threatening their tribunes with death while having a crown fit around his balding pate.

At the risk of betraying my age, you need a new needle for your record player as it appears to be sticking. So let me get this straight. The under-represented classes did not benefit from any of the legislation proposed, and passed by whatever means by Caesar?

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At the risk of betraying my age, you need a new needle for your record player as it appears to be sticking. So let me get this straight. The under-represented classes did not benefit from any of the legislation proposed, and passed by whatever means by Caesar?

 

No more than they benefitted from Pompey or any other general who sent booty home to Rome. Probably less since Caesar wasted so much of the treasury on spilling Roman blood.

 

Caesar was no populist hero.

Edited by M. Porcius Cato

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Allow me a reminder here as the discussion slowly evolves... the subject is "What was the motivation for Caesar's soldiers." Let's not rehash the repetitive arguments over how we feel about Caesar himself.

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Allow me a reminder here as the discussion slowly evolves... the subject is "What was the motivation for Caesar's soldiers." Let's not rehash the repetitive arguments over how we feel about Caesar himself.

I shall therefore refrain from thread thuggery. Could it be because Caesar promoted on ability rather than social position, was capable of communicating with his soldiers on their level, led by example, shared rather than hoarded, was one of the most successful military leaders of ALL time, etc....?

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