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Caesar CXXXVII

Ides of March

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This thread seems to be a grab bag of random topics about Caesar, so just a few thoughts:

 

(1) Parenti's book is terrible. He really doesn't have much of any background on ancient Rome, and the book is Michael Moore-ish in its cartoonish treatment of historical events. Clodius mentioned the socialist tone of the bio, but I don't even think Parenti is even competent at that. Presumably a consistent Marxist would celebrate Spartacus rather than the guy who bragged he enslaved a million Gallic men, women, and children... but then Marxists have always had a funny way of tolerating real slavery while shaking their fists at capitalist 'exploiters' ...

 

(2) PP and I had a long discussion of Caesar's birth date in a previous thread (HERE and HERE), and we came to the conclusion that 102 is more likely. Specialists on the late republic who wrote on the topic came to a similar conclusion as well.

 

(3) On the ides itself, I still highly recommend Nicolaus of Damascus' treatment. Of all the ancient historians, he comes closest to providing an eyewitness account.

 

(EDIT: included links to previous discussions.)

 

 

Many thanks for providing those links to the earlier discussions, MPC, which I seemed to have trouble finding!

 

So, we can attribute the discrepancy in Caesar's birthdate perhaps to special senatorial dispensation granted him for election to his various magisterial offices, or simply perhaps to an error on the part of Caesar's earliest historians. But certainly (Caesar CXXXVII, very funny!) not due to Caesar's vanity (at least, not in this case). B)

 

-- Nephele

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Error indeed. Caesar's assent of the cursus is unremarkable, conformist, and did not break with mos maiorum. 102 for me also!

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Wow, thanks everyone. Thank you for destroying one of those foundational bits of information every young Classics student learns. I can no longer trust anything I have ever learnt about Caesar, and therefore, all of Roman history. My life is meaningless: I shall now honourably throw myself off the Tarpeian Rock.

 

 

B)

 

 

Seriously though, I had no idea. Very interesting. Though is there not reference (maybe Plutarch, I really can't remember) that Caesar was indeed 6 years younger than Cicero who was consequently born in 106? If Caesar was born in 102 does that push back Cicero's birth year to 108? Humm... perhaps we need to shift all of history back by 2 years.....

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Error indeed. Caesar's assent of the cursus is unremarkable, conformist, and did not break with mos maiorum. 102 for me also!

 

Well, let's not go overboard. His assent was remarkable for a number of reasons, including rampant and flagrant bribery (yes, Bibulus too), attempting to stand for office in absentia (maybe twice), gaining provinces and proconsular armies that had not been delegated to him by the senate, and so on. Now we can just say he was old enough to know better...

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You missed the point. He did nothing that no one before had not done, therefore his climb up the cursus was indeed unremarkable. He wasn't old enough to know better at the time because that was ALL he had known.

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Hi all:

 

As a new member to this group, I first want to say how much I have enjoyed reading many of the very informative posts of the members over the past several weeks. So now I will take the plunge.

 

A question that I have been asking for years regarding the assassination of Caesar is simply this. How could someone as so clearly politically astute as Caesar, for lack of a better way of saying it, "not seen this thing coming?" Although he did publicly turn down M. Antonius' offer of the crown so to speak, he seems to have often dressed the part of a king, (that three letter word that gentlemen in Rome did not use in public) and displayed an attitude of kingship. How could he not have foreseen the reaction of the liberatores to his actions and seen the conspiracy coming and prevented it? Was it just arrogance? Foolishness? A combination of both? I appreciate everyone's thoughts.

 

 

I will bet you for 50 cents that the subject has been discussed here before, as anything else about dear Caesar . Maybe PP, Nep. or Ursus will help ?

 

My opinion - We will never know . You can dismiss foolishness, the guy was master of politics .

You can ask another question - If Caesar was simply another tyrant, why he entered the senate without bodyguards ? If you are a tyrant, why should you care about rules of any kind ? So, Caesar was not just another tyrant - he was a special tyrant ! B)

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The man who changed his birthyear from 102 to 100 BCE in order to become younger....

 

What is this now? This is news to me, please elaborate.

 

Here's the word on Caesar's birth year, from our own Primus Pilus, who authored this introduction to The First Triumvirate:

 

"Of interesting note regarding the election is Caesar's age. The constitution, under normal circumstances, required a Consular candidate to be 42 years of age. Caesar, however, according to common beliefs, being born in 100 BC, was only 40 years old. This has led to much speculation that he was actually born in 102 BC to make him the right age for the office. The fact that the 'boni' and their ultra conservative policies make little argument against the legality of Caesar running for Consul, lends credence to the argument that Caesar was actually born 2 years earlier. In fact, each office Caesar held was exactly 2 years prior to being legally eligible. However, circumstances throughout this imperatorial period of the Republic often negated such rules. Pompey served as consul in his 20's without even having been a Senator first. Both Plutarch and Suetonius, ancient Rome's great biographers, both say that Caesar died during his 56th year. He would have turned 56 in July of 44 BC making it seem quite clear that Caesar was indeed born in 100 BC. Some theories have suggested that his age may have been overlooked because Caesar won the corona civica in his youth while on campaign in the east. Regardless, no special legislation or extenuating circumstances seemed to block Caesar's legal position to run for Consul."

 

I, also, am unaware of any primary source stating that Caesar changed his birthdate "in order to become younger." That does seem a rather extraordinary claim.

 

-- Nephele

 

Thanks for posting this Nephele. After the discussion with MPC some time back, I actually meant to rephrase this paragraph... will do so now. I haven't completely dismissed the notion that Caesar was born in 100 but it's definately important to note the legal issues (or lack thereof in this case).

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BTW, lets say that Plutarchus and Sallustius' biographies of Caesar were writen in c. 100 (did Aurelius Victor wrote one ?) - When the next biograhy of Caeasr was writen ? I mean, there are about 100 books about the guy since 1870 or so, are there older ? Since c.100 to c. 1800 ?

 

 

I have no choice but to repeat my question . Thanks

 

Edit : Let say that Shakespeare's work writen c. 1599 is a biography (certainly it is a play with dramatization of actual events), it is the only one between Plutarchus'/Suetonius' and the 19th century ?

Edited by Caesar CXXXVII

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BTW, lets say that Plutarchus and Sallustius' biographies of Caesar were writen in c. 100 (did Aurelius Victor wrote one ?) - When the next biograhy of Caeasr was writen ? I mean, there are about 100 books about the guy since 1870 or so, are there older ? Since c.100 to c. 1800 ?

 

 

I have no choice but to repeat my question . Thanks

 

Edit : Let say that Shakespeare's work writen c. 1599 is a biography (certainly it is a play with dramatization of actual events), it is the only one between Plutarchus'/Suetonius' and the 19th century ?

 

Unless you include the many various versions copied by medieval monks there isn't anything of significance that I'm aware of.

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And what is this nonsense about him being assassinated on the 14th instead of the Ides? Although I realise I may be opening myself up to the gods know what here, what is the source for this, Caesar CXXXVII?

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And what is this nonsense about him being assassinated on the 14th instead of the Ides? Although I realise I may be opening myself up to the gods know what here, what is the source for this, Caesar CXXXVII?

 

 

 

It is because of Quinti the rooster, he did not crow the other day so some people thought that the assassination took place on the 14th .

 

Edit : Before raeding the below it is important to understand that the assassination took place on the Ides of Mars pure and simple . But this Ides of March (March 15th) is for the Iulian calendar and not the modern one . When synchronization is made between the two we get the 14th . It is no big deal, the Roman calendar of the year 190 BCE was 4 months ahead of the modern one so March 15th 190 was actually November 191 .

 

Here is the explanation from Chris Bennett - "The exact Julian date at which the pre-Julian calendar was replaced by the Julian calendar is determined by fixing the triennial cycle that was incorrectly used in the years before the Augustan reform of A.U.C. 746 = 8. This problem is often glossed over quickly as being trivial and obvious. However, the period has much more chronological interest and difficulty than is usually assumed, and determining the correct solution turns out to be of fundamental importance to solving Roman chronology in the years of the pre-Julian calendar.

 

While the Julian calendar itself began operation on Kal. Ian. A.U.C. 709 = 45, leap years were initially inserted every third year instead of every fourth, until the error was corrected by Augustus. The most detailed description of this reform is given by the fifth century author Macrobius Saturnalia 1.14.13. He states that after Caesar's death the pontiffs caused the leap day to be inserted "at the beginning of every fourth year instead of at its end" (i.e., since the Romans counted inclusively, every third year instead of every fourth), for 36 years, after which time there had been 12 leap days in a period that should have had 9. At that point, Augustus suspended intercalation for 12 years to compensate for the three extra leap days, and then resumed intercalation on the correct frequency. A similar account is given by Solinus I 40-47, and certain details are given by earlier authors; notably, Pliny, NH 18.211, states that intercalation was suspended for 12 years. The reality of the three-year cycle is proven by iPriene 105, a decree issued by the proconsul of Asia, Paullus Fabius Maximus, that explicitly synchronises the calendar of the Asian province with this cycle in a leap year.

 

Even knowing the date of the Augustan reform, and being assured that it did not affect the month lengths, there are several ambiguities in Macrobius' account.

 

The first is to determine exactly which years were incorrectly implemented as leap years. Since the period 45-8 covers 38 years, counting inclusively in the Roman fashion, there are three possible phases for 12 intervals of 3 years.

 

The second is to determine whether there were 12 or 13 intercalations before the reform. While there were 12 triennial intervals in the period 45-8, each interval had a start and an end point, meaning that there were 13 possible points at which leap days could have been inserted. The first of these would be the same on both triennial and quadrennial cycles, meaning that any initial leap day need not be regarded as an error requiring compensation.

 

The third is to determine when the 12 years were counted from and the manner in which intercalation was resumed. Scaliger argued that the 12 years were counted from the year of the Augustan reform. 12 years from 8, counting inclusively, covers the period 8 B.C. - 4 A.D., implying a resumption of intercalation in A.D. 5. Since A.D. 5 is not a Julian leap year, intercalation must then have been resumed by resuming the accumulation of quarter days in that year. On the other hand, if the 12 years were counted from the last intercalation (e.g. an intercalation in 9), then the first Julian leap year could be A.D. 4. In fact, the contemporary data shows that the "12 years" is an ancient error, and intercalation must have been resumed in A.D. 4, the 12th year of the reform.

 

Finally, Macrobius does not specify whether three intercalations were omitted according to the erroneous triennial cycle or the correct quadrennial cycle. Ever since Scaliger, it has been automatically assumed that the quadrennial cycle was used. However, it will be seen that the evidence supports omission according to the triennial cycle."

 

 

Two books that reffered to the problem -

Michels, A.K. The Calendar of the Roman Republic (Princeton, 1967).

Bickerman, E.J. Chronology of the Ancient World. (London: Thames & Hudson, 1969, rev. ed. 1980

 

Judge for yourself .

Edited by Caesar CXXXVII

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And what is this nonsense about him being assassinated on the 14th instead of the Ides? Although I realise I may be opening myself up to the gods know what here, what is the source for this, Caesar CXXXVII?

 

 

 

It is because of Quinti the rooster, he did not crow the other day so some people thought that the assassination took place on the 14th .

 

Touche, Caesar! I like it.

 

Edit : Before raeding the below it is important to understand that the assassination took place on the Ides of Mars pure and simple . But this Ides of March (March 15th) is for the Iulian calendar and not the modern one . When synchronization is made between the two we get the 14th . It is no big deal, the Roman calendar of the year 190 BCE was 4 months ahead of the modern one so March 15th 190 was actually November 191 .

 

Ach - thank you for your very erudite explanation, but we are splitting hairs to the nth degree here. I have a Jacobite ancestor who was executed on 30th July 1746 (old Julian calendar, before the Gregorian came in here in England in 1752). I still honour his memory on 30th July every year. As you say, it's no big deal. We can get bogged down with all this pedantry, but thank you for explaining the discrepancy between the 15th and 14th March 44BC. :)

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How could someone as so clearly politically astute as Caesar, for lack of a better way of saying it, "not seen this thing coming?"

 

That's an interesting question.

 

Certainly Caesar knew he was hated by some: "Can I have any doubt that I am deeply loathed, when Marcus Tullius has to sit and wait and cannot simply come to see me as he wishes. If ever there were an easy-mannered man, then it is he. Yet I have no doubt that he hates me." Moreover, until early 44, Caesar was constantly attended by a bodyguard of Spanish auxiliaries. Moreover, there were rumors of conspiracy constantly swirling, including one involving Antony.

 

Despite this, Caesar also believed greatly in his own importance in keeping the state from falling into another civil war. According to Suetonius et al, Caesar supposedly claimed that even Brutus was sensible enough not to be impatient for his death. This attitude of Apr

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Despite this, Caesar also believed greatly in his own importance in keeping the state from falling into another civil war. According to Suetonius et al, Caesar supposedly claimed that even Brutus was sensible enough not to be impatient for his death. This attitude of Apr

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"How could someone as so clearly politically astute as Caesar, for lack of a better way of saying it, "not seen this thing coming?"

 

 

He did take at least one precaution - His heir Octavian was safely stashed away in Greece with a friendly legion close at hand. In the end it was this precaution that did for Brutus and Cassius and the other assassins.

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