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Greatest Roman Figure??

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However, there is only one man the average person in the street could probably name. For good reason too!

 

And here in Ohio, that would be BRUTUS!

Riiigghhhtt!!!

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I am still an infant in learning about Ancient Rome and Republic Rome. For some reason, I do love Caesar, again, I am still learning about him.

 

To get back to the original post, I'm not a fan of Caesar. For just one list of reasons that I'm not an admirer of Caesar, see HERE (plenty of juicy counter-arguments also follow). Poke around, and you'll find other lists I've written, variously condemning Caesar's Machiavellian character, short-sighted laws, exaggerated military reputation, and destructive legacy.

 

As for the greatest Roman figures, my personal favorites are the most idealistic ones: Cato the Younger and Sertorius. I also greatly admire (1) M Junius Brutus, for founding the republic and defending it against his own sons, (2) the tribune Licinius who opened Roman government to the plebeian caste, (3) the plebeian consul M. Curius Dentatus, whose armies defeated all of Rome's enemies, including Pyrrhus, and (4) Scipio Africanus, who saved Rome from the greatest general of the ancient world (and perhaps all time), Hannibal.

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Didn't Machiavelli write about Sulla also?

 

 

I am still an infant in learning about Ancient Rome and Republic Rome. For some reason, I do love Caesar, again, I am still learning about him.

 

To get back to the original post, I'm not a fan of Caesar. For just one list of reasons that I'm not an admirer of Caesar, see HERE (plenty of juicy counter-arguments also follow). Poke around, and you'll find other lists I've written, variously condemning Caesar's Machiavellian character, short-sighted laws, exaggerated military reputation, and destructive legacy.

 

As for the greatest Roman figures, my personal favorites are the most idealistic ones: Cato the Younger and Sertorius. I also greatly admire (1) M Junius Brutus, for founding the republic and defending it against his own sons, (2) the tribune Licinius who opened Roman government to the plebeian caste, (3) the plebeian consul M. Curius Dentatus, whose armies defeated all of Rome's enemies, including Pyrrhus, and (4) Scipio Africanus, who saved Rome from the greatest general of the ancient world (and perhaps all time), Hannibal.

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Didn't Machiavelli write about Sulla also?

 

 

Machiavelli wrote a treatise on Republican government, using Rome as an example: The Discourses on Livy. Too bad his Prince gets all the press, because Discourses is a more interesting read.

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Caesar it's well known, but that does not qualify him for greatness. It seems to me that after winning the Greatest Aristocrat in Rome competition he was at a loss with what to do with his victory.

Dentatus, Scipio Africanus and emperor Aurelianus I admire for their martial qualities that I associate with Rome while Octavian, Constantine and Justinian for the changes they brought with their political skill.

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Caesar certainly is the most famous Roman ever among the general populace, and a gifted man in his own right. But most famous isn't necessarily the greatest. As far as political organization, Augustus and Constantine set the tenor for the early and later empires, respectively. It is hard to think of more far reaching political visionaries.

 

To be fair to Caesar though, Augustus and Constantine had much a longer time at the top to be able to shape the republic/empire into how they thought it should have been. Caesar had his own idea's and ambitions for the future of Rome but unfortunately he was unable to fulfill them.

 

As for the greatest Roman figure?? That's debatable, we will always argue the for's and against's of that question, but he is most certainly the greatest known Roman figure. I think that's something that we can all certainly agree on.

 

I agree, Caesar's popularity only grew to the proportion it did after he conquerd Gaul and was then cut short, while Augustus had 41 years and Constantine had 31 years respectively to make an impact. Its interesting that he acheived such as high amount of popularity, but due to the nature of his death and the events surrounding it, i guess its only natural. Possible that shakespeare had something to do with it,lol.

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If substituting a military dictatorship for a malfunctioning democracy instead of trying to reform the democracy makes for a great man, then Caesar qualifies. Do any other 'great men' of the 20th century come to mind? Caesar was a great general, but his Gallic campaign was conducted for Julius Caesar's political benefit, not Rome's military or economic needs. And that's not a good reason for the deaths (conservatively speaking) of half a million people. Caesar was a charming individual who would probably go out of his way to be pleasant even if he had nothing to gain from it. If he did have something to gain, he'd cheerfully see you dead or ruined in an instant - especially if you were not Roman.

 

Caesar was not a good politician - good politicians don't get assassinated by the senate, or forced to declare military coups against their own country. And if there is any evidence of a political programme other than the promotion and glorification of Julius Caesar, I must have missed it. I'm with Suetonius on this one. Caesar deserved to die. However, my anti-Caesarian views are also well known. You could try Goldsworthy's Caesar, Portrait of a Colossus, where he gives a very balanced view despite my attempts to persuade him otherwise.

 

My choice for greatest - not nicest - Roman would be Augustus. He made the nearly impossible job of being emperor look easy, genuinely reformed much of the system (tax collection and military service, for example) and gave forty years of peace to a traumatized and collapsing empire. And many people have heard of August (formerly Sextilis) which is named after him.

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My choice for greatest - not nicest - Roman would be Augustus.

 

 

While I agree with your choice in Augustus, I have to ask: since when was being nice a criteria of measurement for the Romans? If the benchmark of Roman virtue was the original Brutus executing his sons for a conspiracy against the Republic, where does the state have room for being nice? ;)

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My choice for greatest - not nicest - Roman would be Augustus.

 

 

While I agree with your choice in Augustus, I have to ask: since when was being nice a criteria of measurement for the Romans? If the benchmark of Roman virtue was the original Brutus executing his sons for a conspiracy against the Republic, where does the state have room for being nice? ;)

 

True that, Ursus. It's hard to think of a nice one. They were all to some extent ruthless bastards, without exception all of our favourites have been, in any case.

That might make for an interesting thread; 'Who do you think was the nicest Roman?'.

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heh! Maybe we should start another thread 'Is a nice Roman a contradiction in terms?'

 

If we do start looking for nice Romans, my vote goes to Rutilius Rufus.

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Caesar's siege engineer, Mamurra, was very accommodating (or so Catullus says).

 

So was King Nicomedes IV Philapator of Bithynia, if we are to start sinking to that level...;)

 

I'll admit that I have a considerable admiration for Caesar, and I'll also admit that Colleen McCullough did much to facilitate this admiration. I believe Caesar's military ability was not overrated, and that he was also an orator, writer and legal draftsman up there with (and perhaps beyond) Cicero himself. His Achilles' Heel, to me, was his complete and utter devotion to his dignitas. McCullough suggests that he firmly believed in the concept that his and every man's dignitas was also Rome's dignitas, and as such strove to the utmost all his life to increase it. Perhaps this is somewhat naive, but i don't like to assume the worst about people. This almost fanatic zeal made him incapable of the sort of compromise that would see his dignitas decreased, even a little. Maybe if he was more subtle, less obviously aiming for greatness, he would not have attracted the jealousy of his peers. This was the way of Augustus I believe.

 

A post earlier stated that Caesar wasn't a good politician. To me, to be a "good politician", and all that being a "good politician" entails, is not something to boast about ;)

 

Was Caesar the greatest Roman figure? I don't think any one man can be declared Rome's greatest figure. As Caesar himself may (or may not) have believed, he was just one of the passing figures in the ongoing pageant that was the Glory of Rome. No doubt he was one of the greatest parts. But not the greatest. No one Roman can claim that title, in my opinion. Each great Roman had to face the unique context of their own time, and times change, as do the people.

Edited by Tobias

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heh! Maybe we should start another thread 'Is a nice Roman a contradiction in terms?'

 

If we do start looking for nice Romans, my vote goes to Rutilius Rufus.

 

Hah! There is one! Rutilius Rufus definitely qualifies.

Off topic, I love your books, Maty.

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Caesar's siege engineer, Mamurra, was very accommodating (or so Catullus says).

 

So was King Nicomedes IV Philapator of Bithynia, if we are to start sinking to that level... :angry:

 

I'll admit that I have a considerable admiration for Caesar, and I'll also admit that Colleen McCullough did much to facilitate this admiration. I believe Caesar's military ability was not overrated, and that he was also an orator, writer and legal draftsman up there with (and perhaps beyond) Cicero himself. His Achilles' Heel, to me, was his complete and utter devotion to his dignitas. McCullough suggests that he firmly believed in the concept that his and every man's dignitas was also Rome's dignitas, and as such strove to the utmost all his life to increase it. Perhaps this is somewhat naive, but i don't like to assume the worst about people. This almost fanatic zeal made him incapable of the sort of compromise that would see his dignitas decreased, even a little. Maybe if he was more subtle, less obviously aiming for greatness, he would not have attracted the jealousy of his peers. This was the way of Augustus I believe.

 

The Oxford Latin Dictionary defines the expression as fitness, suitability, worthiness, visual impressiveness or distinction, dignity of style and gesture, rank, status, position, standing, esteem, importance, and honor.

Wow, what a list of words. Maybe that is why some people hold Caesar in such high esteem. The ultimate man. Is it all about image? I think that the populus that were interest in politics wanted to achieve this, the populus that only cared about food on the table, had no idea what dignitas. Reminds me of today.

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