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G-Manicus

Would the Republic have survived had they served a 2nd course?

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No amount of obfuscation will obviate the obvious that 95% (99%?) of the 'people' were anything more than cannon fodder, and a source of riches for the ruling elites.

 

If the people didn't want to be cannon fodder, then they should have quit voting for magistrates that led them into new wars. The fact is that the Roman electorate loved to watch foreign rulers brought to Rome in chains, and so they voted for ruling elites that delivered them what they wanted. That's democracy -- it gives the people what they want, whether it's good for them or not.

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...the likes of Cato and Cicero, two of the most respected thinkers of their time...

'Respected' post mortum, in life as much victims of fickle politics as anyone else. Cato was an extremist whose predictable and constant obstinacy contributed to the fall of the Republic more than most.

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'Respected' post mortum, in life as much victims of fickle politics as anyone else.

 

Not only respected post mortem. Cicero and Cato had many admirers in their own lifetimes. Cato's reputation for honesty, for example, was the source of the phrase, "I wouldn't believe it even if Cato said it was so."

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It's said that Caesar's assassins also wished to kill Marc Antony on the Ides of March but that he was spared at the (looking back now) naive insistence of Brutus, who thought Antony could be brought around once Caesar was gone.

 

Hearkening back to Cicero's famous quote describing Caesar's assassination as "that superb banquet," what would the impact have been had they expanded the menu to include Antony? Would the Republic have survived? Or was the Empire inevitable? I find it hard to imagine Octavius rising to power without Antony's military might to do the heavy lifting. That aside, was the Republic already beyond saving? Was the damage inflicted upon it by the brothers Gracchus, Gaius Marius, Sulla, Caesar, etal, a mortal wound? Was it only a matter of time until somebody was able to come along and consolidate power and sweep away the last vestiges of he Republic ?

 

We'll never know for sure, but I will speculate.

 

Don't forget the Octavian had recruited his own legion from Caesar's veterans around Capua, and as the adopted son of Julius Caesar, he inherited all of the clients of Caesar, and ergo their loyalties. I believe in Roman eyes, an adoption was exactly the same as a birth relationship, so there was no distinction. Octavian used this relationship to work his way into the game.

 

It's my belief that if Antony had been killed as well, then the power struggle would have been between Octavian, Lepidus and the Senate. Octavian likely would have been able to get much of Antony's legions to come under his wing, due to his familial relationship to Caesar, and also because Octavian was paying. Lepidus - at least the way things happened - turned out to be the weaker of the partners in the Second Triumvirate; who could say if he'd be the weaker in a struggle between Octavian, himself and the Senate? I'd imagine the Senate would side with whomever was the least likely to follow in Caesar's footsteps as dictator.

 

Octavian appears to have been a very shrewd politician and understood the reality of situations. I think his youth and inexperience would have been balanced out by his shrewd manueuverings. No telling if he could prevail however; would Octavian have been a charismatic leader that legions would follow when blood began to be shed if Antony was out of the picture? Good question. There are stories that Octavian conveniently disappeared before battles when Antony was alive, and I have to think that the men followed Antony's lead, not Octavian's. Part of me thinks that unless the Senate and Lepidus were fools, Octavian's legions would have eventually crumbled without Antony's experience. But if the Senate and Lepidus didn't unite or put up any stiff opposition against Octavian, then I think Octavian might have eventually succeeded.

 

But again, one of Antony's generals may have surfaced to try and claim power.

 

Interesting topic.

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The conspirators were hated by most plebs and all soldiers. One should remember that at that moment all roman soldiers were Caesar veterans. So the murderers tried to keep M. Antonius to save them from the fury of the army. Anyone could have led the army against the murderers. After all those man had fought from Britain to Egypt for Caesar and knew the bussines of war very well and did not really needed the cavalry hero to lead them.

Keeping M. Antonius was a good move. Maybe he behaved more shrewd then they expected but saving a drunkard, incompetent foe in the game can be a better move than to kill it and open the spot for someone brighter.

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One should remember that at that moment all roman soldiers were Caesar veterans.

 

Aye, but without a clear successor, it was up to Antony (Caesar's right hand man) and Octavian (Caesar's adopted son and heir) to duke it out for proving to the Roman people who had more of a right to Caesar's legacy. Legally, Octavian got Caesar's lands, money and clients, and he was also the Pontifex Maximus, so he did have religious authority. But Octavian held no official military position or office (I believe), so in effect he was a legitimate heir of Caesar that controlled an illegal army.

 

Antony did have a legal office - he was a Tribune of the people, and as such held considerable power in the Roman government, particularly that of veto. If Antony wished, he could bring the Roman state to a screeching halt if he so desired to, but veto was a power that had to be used very carefully, lest it backfire and create the tribune some terrible enemies. Antony was also a military hero and proven soldier. He was experienced and could command the leadership of Caesar's men by inciting them to revenge if he so wished.

 

Antony and Octavian's men did clash near Mutinae, and Antony defeated. All of the men who fought were once Caesar's men, yet their loyalties were split between Antony and Octavian. So it wasn't so clear cut that since all men belonged to Caesar that their loyalties were clear... I'm sure both Antony and Octavian incited their legions to violence using Caesar's name.

 

With Antony in retreat, one would figure that Octavian wouldn't need him, right? But he did. The Senate backed Octavian, I think, and Octavian needed Antony. Octavian was too young and inexperienced to command the state by himself, and I believe the Senate passed a law just for Octavian to lower the age making one eligible to be a Consul. The Senate needed Octavian. Octavian needed Antony. Antony grudgingly had to accept the terms, it would seem. And Lepidus, he used to be Antony's man, but apparently became ambitious. Octavian was originally reduced to junior membership, and apparently Antony thought he was going to ride herd over both Octavian and Lepidus, but Octavian was patient and cunning, and in time, we see that he outlasted his senior partners.

 

Between Antony and Octavian, Caesar's assassins were done away with. And proscription took care of the rest of their enemies.

 

I personally would love to have been a fly on the wall, following around Octavian to see what decisions he made and why. That'd be an interesting guy to observe throughout his life.

 

I'm talking too much again. Sorry, I just love the topic. I'm sure I've got some inaccuracies here and there - the curse of memory - so I welcome corrections. :)

 

Cheers!

Gregg

Edited by Legio XIII

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It's said that Caesar's assassins also wished to kill Marc Antony on the Ides of March but that he was spared at the (looking back now) naive insistence of Brutus, who thought Antony could be brought around once Caesar was gone.

 

Hearkening back to Cicero's famous quote describing Caesar's assassination as "that superb banquet," what would the impact have been had they expanded the menu to include Antony? Would the Republic have survived? Or was the Empire inevitable? I find it hard to imagine Octavius rising to power without Antony's military might to do the heavy lifting. That aside, was the Republic already beyond saving? Was the damage inflicted upon it by the brothers Gracchus, Gaius Marius, Sulla, Caesar, etal, a mortal wound? Was it only a matter of time until somebody was able to come along and consolidate power and sweep away the last vestiges of he Republic ?

 

The Empire was an unlawful result of outlaws , the Republic was founded on Roman moral law. All that was needed , to save the Republic, was a senate that could enforce the Laws of the Republic , by default remove the Oligarchies puppet Caesar. Caesar was murdered but his power was bigger than he. Augustus did a good job of using that which Caesar had stolen, as an outlaw ruler , but it wasn't long before the barbarians were at the gates, so to speak, and the Republic was no more. .

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It's said that Caesar's assassins also wished to kill Marc Antony on the Ides of March but that he was spared at the (looking back now) naive insistence of Brutus, who thought Antony could be brought around once Caesar was gone.

 

Hearkening back to Cicero's famous quote describing Caesar's assassination as "that superb banquet," what would the impact have been had they expanded the menu to include Antony? Would the Republic have survived? Or was the Empire inevitable? I find it hard to imagine Octavius rising to power without Antony's military might to do the heavy lifting. That aside, was the Republic already beyond saving? Was the damage inflicted upon it by the brothers Gracchus, Gaius Marius, Sulla, Caesar, etal, a mortal wound? Was it only a matter of time until somebody was able to come along and consolidate power and sweep away the last vestiges of he Republic ?

Salve, Amici

I have to agree with MPC and PP on this one. We tend to overestimate the impact of specific individuals (Antonius, Octavius, Caesar or any other) over the outcome of whole political and social systems. The demise of the Republican system was a long multi-factorial process; its main cause was the collective irresponsibility of the ruling nobiles class, who almost always brought their personal interests ahead to those of the Res Publica.

 

Actually, the Roman Republic was serving a second course, after the Happy Dictator LC Sulla effectively eliminated it at DCLXXII AUC / 82 BC just to restore it a little later for whatever reason might have crossed his mind. The lucky nobiles simply weren't prudent enough to profit from this additional opportunity.

 

Even more, the Idus of March in DCCX AUC / 44 BC wasn't the last chance to restore the Republic, not even Actium itself; Varro Murena, Cassius Chaerea, the Four Emperors' year, MC Nerva and probably many more ocassions were missed, presumably mostly because the affected nobiles were unable and/or unwilling to take the risk. We may reasonably infer that many of them found much more comfortable and secure the perspective of becoming Imperial bureaucrats.

Edited by ASCLEPIADES

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IMO the Marian military "reforms" and the Social War pretty much doomed the republic, rule by one military strong-man or another was inevitable. Following the Marin reforms the legions basically became more loyal to their commanders rather then to the republic. Also, the stubborn, elitist, and anti-populist attitudes of the Senate lead to popular support going to strong-men making promises to help the common man. It is those two things, the Marian reforms and elitist Optimate stubbornness that destroyed the Republic. The votes of the poor are easy pickings for strong-men like Marius, Caesar, and Antony.

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IMO the Marian military "reforms" and the Social War pretty much doomed the republic, rule by one military strong-man or another was inevitable. Following the Marin reforms the legions basically became more loyal to their commanders rather then to the republic. Also, the stubborn, elitist, and anti-populist attitudes of the Senate lead to popular support going to strong-men making promises to help the common man. It is those two things, the Marian reforms and elitist Optimate stubbornness that destroyed the Republic. The votes of the poor are easy pickings for strong-men like Marius, Caesar, and Antony.

Salve, T. We agree.

 

The so-called "Marian" Reforms basically implied the utter professionalization of the Legions, with the consequent end of the citizen Army; Roman soldiers and civilians were the same people no more.

 

If such reforms were unavoidable or not (ie, due to the huge increase of the conquered territories and populations) is a fascinating question, but that's another story.

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Salve, T. We agree.

 

The so-called "Marian" Reforms basically implied the utter professionalization of the Legions, with the consequent end of the citizen Army; Roman soldiers and civilians were the same people no more.

 

If such reforms were unavoidable or not (ie, due to the huge increase of the conquered territories and populations) is a fascinating question, but that's another story.

 

Salve, A.!

 

I much prefer a citizen-army based on conscription over a so-called "professional" military dominated by volunteers in the modern word precisely because of what I consider the negitive effects of the Marian Reforms. I fear that professional militaries may tend to be more loyal to politicians and/or governments that pay them instead of being loyal to the people and country. Also, a mostly professional army creates a military class to which war is a way of life and not a civic duty.

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Salve, A.!

 

I much prefer a citizen-army based on conscription over a so-called "professional" military dominated by volunteers in the modern word precisely because of what I consider the negitive effects of the Marian Reforms. I fear that professional militaries may tend to be more loyal to politicians and/or governments that pay them instead of being loyal to the people and country. Also, a mostly professional army creates a military class to which war is a way of life and not a civic duty.

Virtually all Hellenic poleis would have agreed, certainly not the Macedonians.

 

For better or for worse, it seems a citizen Army was an option no more at the late Republic; well differentiated soldiers and peasants mainly because:

 

- Citizen soldiers couldn't care for their lands and houses while they were on remote provincial duty.

 

- Conversely, half-time training was presumably not enough for facing some newcomers, like the Germans.

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Salve, A.!

 

I much prefer a citizen-army based on conscription over a so-called "professional" military dominated by volunteers in the modern word precisely because of what I consider the negitive effects of the Marian Reforms. I fear that professional militaries may tend to be more loyal to politicians and/or governments that pay them instead of being loyal to the people and country. Also, a mostly professional army creates a military class to which war is a way of life and not a civic duty.

Virtually all Hellenic poleis would have agreed, certainly not the Macedonians.

 

For better or for worse, it seems a citizen Army was an option no more at the late Republic; well differentiated soldiers and peasants mainly because:

 

- Citizen soldiers couldn't care for their lands and houses while they were on remote provincial duty.

 

- Conversely, half-time training was presumably not enough for facing some newcomers, like the Germans.

 

IMO The republic would of survived had the army become a professional force that was kept loyal to the Roman state as a whole instead of just to their commanders.

 

Another thing that needed to be done was the creation of true governorships to replace the pro-consuls. These governors would be appointed for 5-year terms and could only govern a particular province for a single term. These governors would have control of local military forces for purpose of keeping the peace and defending against barbarians but had no control over the legions, who would remain under the ultimate control of the consuls. I would also create a new office of 6 "Millitary Praetors" elected for 3-year terms that would control the legions stationed outside of Italy and who would be subordinate to the consuls.

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IMO The republic would of survived had the army become a professional force that was kept loyal to the Roman state as a whole instead of just to their commanders.

Under any kind of social contract, common people's loyalty is inevitably related to their government's ability to protect their interests and fulfil their requirements.

 

Across all the last century of the Republic's history, their professional soldiers were expected to endlessly fight for the Senatorial class' wealth and glory without any security for them and their families after the end of their military service.

 

In spite of the immense amounts of money that the conquests (specially on the East) brought to Rome, even the chance of having a piece of land was repeatedly denied to them.

 

Being the cannon fodder, they didn't even have the chance to vote while they were on service out of the city.

 

So when one of their commanders crossed the Rubicon, it's no surprise he was followed by many of them.

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