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Freedom

Essay by 24  •  November 16, 2010  •  1,936 Words (8 Pages)  •  763 Views

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Summary

The Pompei-Caesar civil war was violent on a scale not previously experienced by Rome. It was bad for the Ancient Mediterranean world in general. The war disrupted its agricultural bases and was economically wasteful, in addition to bringing political uncertainty, as the petty potentates in client relations to Rome were not sure with whom to adhere, since they were uncertain who would be victorious. Additionally, much life was lost, with the elite of Rome and the outlying Italian cities being prominently represented among the victims. In 47 BCE, Caesar returned from the East, and was publicly pardoned by the Senate. Pompeii's supporters renewed the Senate with their own numbers, after which Caesar left to confront North African rebels under Q. Metullus Scipio. Arriving in the winter of 47-46, he only had half an army, and waited until the spring before destroying the Pompeiian-supported rebels at Thapsus. His forces massacred the rebels. The Rome Senate then accorded him the power of Dictator for ten years, allowing him as well a four-fold triumph: victories over the last ten years were celebrated, including Gaul, Egypt, Pontus, and Africa. Just after this he defeated a further rebellion under Pompei's son, Sextus Pompei, in Iberia at Munda. This was the last civil war battle in Caesar's time. His status as Dictator provided him commands of the army and provinces; financial control, foreign policy decisions, as well as tribunal veto power over judicial decisions and legislation. Basically, he had the untouchable power to run government. In 47 BCE he renewed the Senate, raising its numbers to 900, appointing great numbers of his supporters. These included Italian town equites, certain freedmen, and ex-centurions.

Caesar also promulgated several points of practical legislation: 1) He changed the calendar, reforming it into the Julian calendar; 2) he permitted the urban tribunes to attack street gangs. Collegia were made illegal, but exempted Jews due to their assistance to him when he was in Alexandria; 3) in urban courts, the jury was divided equally between equites and senators; 4) he began to break the barriers in the relations between Rome and the provinces. Caesar was liberal with grants of Roman citizenship, bestowing it of Cisalpine Gaul, the provincial urban centers, as well as certain individuals, and elevated other provincial cities to Latin citizen rights status. It was the first wholesale extension of citizenship. As well, he began appointing outsiders to the Senate; 5) He planned Caesarian colonies, or the roots of cities in less Romanized areas such as Southern Gaul, Iberia, Africa, and Asia Minor. In 44 BCE there were 35 legions under arms. Caesar proposed to settle de-mobilized soldiers and veterans in these cities as well as Rome's urban unemployed; 6) Caesar tried to change the method of provincial tribute. It had been based on tithe in kind, but he wanted to shift it to a fixed land tax.

In 44 BCE, Caesar relied on his senatorial supporters to elect him Dictator for Life--dictator perpetuus. He went on to plan an attack on Parthia, the Persian state in the far eastern reaches of Roman territories. However, on March 15, 44--the Ides of March--sixty senators conspired to murder him, on the steps of the Senate House named for Pompei. Cassius, along with the scholarly, philosophical M. Brutus, were the titular ringleaders of a group including some older senators who had opposed Caesar all along, as well as some of his erstwhile supporters who objected to his deprivation of certain Rome aristocrats of jobs, as well as his growing autocracy. While the conspirators fled Rome, and later Italy, Caesar's party--the factio--was now left in confusion. One of them, the competent general Marcus Antonius who was Consul in 44, came to temporary leadership of the group, declaring an amnesty to the conspirators. He also declared that Caesar's legislative initiatives would stand.

At Caesar's death, the first thing Mark Antony did was to go to Caesar's residence, take all the material wealth he could, as well as his will. Another prominent member of Caesar's factio was M. Aemilius Lepidus, who was about to become governor of Narbonnese Gaul and brought his seven legions to Rome in order to subdue the capital if need be. Mark Antony restrained him, and started to move towards predominance. There was one other player, however. Caesar's will had (allegedly) listed C. Octavian as heir to his personal fortune and social position. Octavian's grandfather had married a sister of Caesar; Octavian was thus Caesar's grand nephew. At the age of eighteen, he had (somewhat unusually) just passed from equestrian to senatorial rank. He was currently out of Italy, doing military training, and returned to Rome as soon as he heard of Caesar's death, changing his name to C. Julius Caesar Octavianus. Passing through Italy, he had begun to collect supporters among veterans from Caesar's legions. He immediately found that Mark Antony had depleted Caesar's personal as well as state funds. Octavian still needed an army. He prevailed upon the Senate to provide him with the proconsular command in Cisalpine Gaul; however Decimus Brutus--related to the co-conspirator--was already on the ground there. It was around this time that the orator-politician returned to Rome and delivered his series of addresses entitled the Philippics, in which he repeatedly condemned Mark Antony as an aspiring despot. At this time those senators who had supported the assassination allied with Octavian as a brake on growing tyranny, granting him the propraetorship in Cisalpine Gaul, along with two legions. Around this time, D. Brutus defeated the besieging Mark Antony at Mutina. In this, D. Brutus was assisted by Octavian, who had linked up with Senate-dispatched relief forces. M. Antony was forced to retreat to Italy, yet ultimately, his forces overpowered those of Brutus. At this point, Octavian began to break with the Senate. The latter gave fellow conspirators M. Brutus and Cassius proconsulships in Macedonia and Syria, respectively. The also Senate did not appropriate the funds for Octavian to pay his soldiers. In July 43, Octavian forced the issue by demanding one of the vacant consulships. The Senate refused, giving him the praetorship instead. Octavian then marched on Rome with eight legions. Through cultivating the masses--plebs--and raising a veteran-based army, as well as through the support of military friends such as M.V. Agrippa and C.

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