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Who were the candidates in the consular elections for 80 BC in Rome?

Who were the candidates in the consular elections for 80 BC in Rome?

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Wikipedia describes the political process of 80 BC thus:

Near the end of 81 BC, Sulla, true to his traditionalist sentiments, resigned his dictatorship, disbanded his legions and re-established normal consular government. He also stood for (with Metellus Pius) and was elected consul for the following year, 80 BC. He dismissed his lictors and walked unguarded in the Forum, offering to give account of his actions to any citizen.

This sounds rather upright. But I am wondering, however, whether other candidates except Sulla and Metellus, his crony, were allowed to - or dared to - stand in that election. Is something known about this?

My suspicions are further heightened by this passage in Appian:

The following year Sulla, although he was dictator, undertook the consulship a second time, with Metellus Pius for his colleague, in order to preserve the pretence and form of democratic government. It is perhaps from this example that the Roman emperors appoint consuls for the country and even sometimes nominate themselves, considering it not unbecoming to hold the office of consul in connection with the supreme power.

During his dictatorship, candidates were appointed by Sulla for reasons of his own. I believe the elections of 79 BC were also restricted access.

In 78 AD, the consul Lepidus ran on a platform of reforming Sulla's changes and won the top spot. This was probably the first fully free election the Romans had in the post-Sullan period.

Plutarch's Life of Sulla

And to such an extent did he put more confidence in his good fortunes than in his achievements, that, although he had slain great numbers of the citizens, and introduced great innovations and changes in the government of the city, he laid down his office of dictator, and put the consular elections in the hands of the people; and when they were held, he did not go near them himself, but walked up and down the forum like a private man, exposing his person freely to all who wished to call him to account. Contrary to his wishes, a certain bold enemy of his was likely to be chosen consul, Marcus Lepidus, not through his own efforts, but owing to the success which Pompey had in soliciting votes for him from the people. And so, when Sulla saw Pompey going away from the polls delighted with his victory, he called him to him, and said: "What a fine victory this is of thine, young man, to elect Lepidus in preference to Catulus, the most unstable instead of the best of men!

So it is clear from this that the first election that Sulla did not enforce was Lepidus' victory.

I read the book Rubicon by Thomas Holland and he states that anti-Sullans only dared to speak up after Sulla had already died. Perhaps the answer to your question is that everyone who dared to oppose Sulla had been killed by him, so there where de facto no potential other candidates. Romans either supported Metellus or kept their mouths shut. - Jeroen K

This is absolutely correct. Adding to it Sulla killed over 400 "enemies of State" during the first 6 months of his rule. Metellus was actually well liked so there wasn't a whole lot to debate about his candidacy. However those who did oppose him tried to poison him. This failed.

Local elections in Pompeii

We are now in election campaign to we elect deputies or representatives in the European Parliament. The streets are again plastered with election ads. Also the Old World had elections for some political office and had “campaign” with their messages of propaganda to persuade voters.

Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii, has also given us a lot of information about daily life in a Roman city, for example on the elections that were held every year for some charges of the municipal government.
In 87 B.C. Pompeii became a municipality as most of the cities of Italy and shortly after in the 80- it was colony. This double origin of the inhabitants of Pompeii was reflected initially in the institutions until to be unified.

The old democracies have a big difference with today: they are not universal and therefore very few individuals are involved. The number of electors of Pompeii would be very small. With the city and the surrounding countryside there were an estimated 36,000 people, of which half were slaves half of the remaining half would be women who did not vote there were also the children. We may think that they could vote 2,500 people in the city and 5,000 in the field. So we think that family relationships,friendship would be determining.

In cities such as Pompeii they were chosen some charges similar to then of the "urbs", the "city", Rome, with responsibilities relating exclusively to your local office.

Specifically the aediles, like the aediles of Rome and like our present councilors, also annual, and duoviri or more important local magistrates, like the Roman consuls, were elected by the citizens, for annual term.To be Duovir it was necessary to have been before aedile.

The deputies, the aediles, took care of the municipal police, streets, public buildings, water, assigning positions in the market, to raise local taxes and municipal properties leased, etc.. In some inscription they are called "duoviri charged of streets and public and sacred buildings"

The ancient duoviri made the &ldquoordo decurionum&rdquo, similar to the Senate, for life, elected by themselves.

The seviri augustales or priests of Augustus, were chosen in turn by the ordo decurionum.

Every five years the quinquenales (for five year) duoviri played local functions similar to the censors of Rome.

It seems that for duoviri it was only two annual candidates, ie, as many as charges. We could raise a question about real democracy in Pompeii, but it bear in mind that to be duunvir, it had to have been before aedile, and only two councilors were elected each year, so the list of possible candidates was very small. So the closest elections were of aedile, Elections would be held in March or April and the term would begin in July.

The vote (suffragium) was expressed in writing (per tabellam) in a wax tablet on which candidate&rsquos name was engraved with a stylus. The tablet was deposited in a box (arca) or basket (cista) in your district, overseen by representatives from other districts, usually three. The process was chaired and supervised by the proposed by the electoral assembly duovirum, generally greatest in old, sitting in the stands (suggestum) assisted by his collaborators, as the specialist Staccioli, RA says in his Manifesti elettorali nell'antica Pompei.

The description corresponds in its entirety to the current process: districts, ballot boxes, ballot papers, agents and representatives, president of the board of elections …

An important element of the process was the electoral propaganda.

We have many testimonies of election posters in Pompeii: the 25,000 inscriptions or graffiti appearing on walls of houses, some on the outside and others inside, tenth, about 2,500 are election posters that provide us a lot and sometimes curious information.

It should be made some general consideration. First such registration implies a certain level and development of reading ability of Pompeian people some famous paintings and mosaics also reflect the literacy rate.
The graffiti, generally well calligraphed, are made by professional sign makers who make any kind of registration they are as conscious of his art that they sometimes initialed his name. For example a certain Celer reports that "Aemilius Celer, his neighbor, wrote it," and in anticipation that someone erased, he added: "If you have the evil to erase it, I wish something wrong for you." This Celer is the author of other graffiti announcing a gladiatorial show.

Neighbours beg you to elect Lucius Statius Receptus duumvir with judicial
power, a worthy man. Aemilius Celer wrote this, a neighbour. You jealous
one who destroys this, may you fall ill.

L(ucium) Statium Receptum
IIvir(um) i(ure) d(icundo) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) vicini dig(num)
scr(ibsit) Aemilius Celer vic(ini)
qui deles

Most are written in red and black. They are written into capital (uppercase) letter and in italics and reflect spoken Latin, Vulgar Latin as some call …

They are usually very formulaic and respect a formula that is repeated constantly (also current ads are very formulaic and do not vary in its general form of a campaign to another, they do not lack in, for example, VOTE …). That is, in general they are very monotonous and uncreative and they use abbreviations profusely, O for &ldquooro, orant (to beg) V for vobis (to you), F for faciatis (made) ROG for ROGo, rogant DRP for Dignum rei publcae (ideal for Public Affairs).

The general formula is: name of the candidate in the accusative and office which is demanded in abbreviated, AED (ILEM), II VIR (um). Then the name whose proposes or endorses asking the vote in nominative and Formula ROG (at / ant, propose, ask, or O (ro) V (os) F (aciatis) (I ask you to do). The indicate in general way:

Mrs so-and-so asks you to do (duunvir) to Mrs. So-and-so ...

Ever they have a little more originality, as in the following example where the message is interspersed between the letters of the candidate (CIL, IV 07868):

I beg you to elect Lollius, suitable for roads and public and sacred buildings.

Lollium d(ignum) v(iis) a(edibus) s(sacris) p(ublicis) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis)

Generally each poster is dedicated to one a candidate and rarely both names appear.

The posters are not cleared after each campaign, but they are accumulated on each other sometimes the old posters are covered with a layer of plaster to register new top of them. Some advertisements correspond to the time of creation of Pompei as a Roman colony in 80 BC, but most correspond to the last years of the city, between the earthquake of 62 DC and the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD that destroyed the city.

Considering that some are superimposed on other advertisements that were not deleted, it has been tried to set a timeline of the candidates, but it is a very difficult and challenging task.

Some have certainly been directly commissioned by the candidate concerned, other are given by members of the family, others show anonymous support or of certain social groups (fullers, dyers, millers, poultry, harvesters, carpet makers or matting makers, ointments vendors, fishermen , muleteers, onion sellers, jewelers, hairdressers, barbers, bakers, hatters, ..),or religious brotherhoods (devotees of Venus, devotees of Isis, …) or groups of friends (ball players, checkers players, comrades, friends amphitheater shows, the workers and the poor, prostitutes …) or of certain influential people. So one resorts to the authority of Suedius Titus Clemens, agent of the emperor Vespasian. Naturally, the owner of the building in which the graffiti appears would support the candidate.

CIL 04, 01147:
I ask that you elect aedile Aulus Vettius Firmus, worthy of public things, ask you to elect him ball players elect him.

A(ulum) Vettium Firmum / aed(ilem) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) d(ignum) r(ei) p(ublicae) o(ro) v(os) f(aciats) pilicrepi facite

CIL IV 09932
Modestus for aedile (city councillor). The underprivileged and the poor elect him.

Modestum aed (ilem)[prole]tari et pauper[es] facite

Note: others read [unguen] tari (i) perfumers

CIL, IV 00202
All sellers of apples with Helvius Vestalis propos Marcus Holconius Priscus for duunvir (major) (II vir) in charge of justice (iure dicundo)


M(arcum) Holconium / Priscum IIvir(um) i(ure) d(icundo) / pomari universi / cum Helvio Vestale rog(ant)

In any case there are no formal political parties and others are who ask to vote for the candidate.

Ever, few times, the name of a woman appears, as for example Tedia Secunda, who turns out to be the grandmother of Lucius Popidius Secundus, with him she appears next to. Anyway, grandmothers before as now have a weakness for their grandchildren and this would be proud of the political career of his grandson.

(CIL 04, 07469)
I beg you to make Lucius Popidius Secundus aedile. His anxious grandmother Tedia Secunda ask it and he did him.

L(ucium) Popi[dium] S[ecun]d[u]m aed(ilem) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) / Taed[i]a secunda cupiens avia rog(at) et fecit

On several occasions the girls of a tavern are the support for a candidate, in jest or seriously, we do not know …

CIL IV 07863
[Make] C.Lollius Fuscus duumvir for looking after the roads [and] the sacred [and] oublic buildings. Aselina&rsquos [girls?] ask you, not without Zmyrna.

Note: Aselina&rsquos girls would be prostitutes.

C(aium) Lollium / Fuscum IIvir(um) v(iis) a(edibus) s(acris) p(ublicis) p(rocurandis) / Asellinas(!) rogant(!) / nec sine Zmyrina

It is striking the support to candidate of a group of women who just do not vote or participate in politics.
Sometimes irony can be glimpsed, such as when certain not advisable groups seem to show support for a candidate or maybe it's also an example of counter-propaganda. See below the comment to a graffiti referred to Helvius

The names of four women, Aselina, Egle, Smyrna and Mary, who may belong to the same inscription, appear on the outer wall of a tavern in Via dell'Abbondanza they probably are waitresses or prostitutes. Maybe it's the maids for example, Greek names Egle and Smyrna seem slave name maybe some horny put the names of the maids next to the electoral advises jokingly completing the ad. Perhaps the interested Gayo Juiio Polybius, did not like it because it appears erased the name of Smyrna with a layer of lime, as if he wanted to remove that support … or maybe i was the concerned girl who covered it.

I beg you to elect Cn. Helvius Sabinus aedile, worthy of public office. Aegle
asks this.

Cn(aeum) Helvium Sabinum / aed(ilem) d(ignum) r(ei) p(ublicae) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) Aegle rogat

I beg you to elect Cn. Helvius Sabinus aedile, worthy of public office. Maria
asks this.

Cn(aeum) Helvium Sabinum / aed(ilem) d(ignum) r(ei) p(ublicae) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) Maria rogat

So too it has been deleted the name Cuculla from the inscription, perhaps because the candidate did not like him or his "election committee":

CIL IV 07841
Caius Julis Polybius for duunvirum. Cuculla beg it.

C(aium) Iulium Polybium. (duo)vir(um) Cuculla rog(at)

Marcus Cerrinius Vatia is supported by numerous individuals and groups such as pomari or apple sellers, (CIL, IV 00149), or by the saccari or boots bags (CIL, IV 00274), or by the campanians (CIL, IV 00480), or by coronarii, the manufacturers of crowns (CIL, IV 00502) and by all seribibi or "drinking late into the night" (CIL, IV, 00581), which I reproduce below:

The late drinkers all ask you to elect Marcus Cerrinius Vatia aedile. Florus
and Fructus wrote this.

M(arcum) Cerrinium / Vatiam aed(ilem) o(rant) v(os) f(aciatis) seribibi / universi rogant / scr(ipsit) Florus cum Fructo

Note: some commenter thinks that the names of the clerks are fictitious.

And they who sleep with … (do not know with whom):

CIL IV 00575
All those asleep and Macerius ask for Vatia as aedile.

Vatiam aed(ilem) rogant / Ma cerio(m!) dormientes / universi cum / [

CIL IV 00576
The little thieves ask for Vatia as aedile.

Vatiam aed(ilem) furunculi rog(ant)

Marcus Cerrinius Vatia. All fugitive slaves.

[M Cerrinium Vatiam?] drapetae omnes

They all seem examples of counter-propaganda or unwanted support.

It is funny one in which the artist adds some harvest

Caius Julis Polybius for aedile for looking after the roads [and] the sacred [and] public buildings. Lantern carrier, hold the ladder.

C(aium) Iulium Polybium / aed(ilem) v(iis) a(edibus) s(acris) p(ublicis) p(rocurandis) // lanternari tene / scalam.

There is not program or campaign promises it seems to prevail the moral status of the candidate. Sometimes the initials DRP (Dignum Rei Ppublicae) and adjectives related to your dignity and honesty appear. "Dignus" actually means &ldquosuitable, adequate&rdquo. Other laudatory adjectives that can be used sometimes are virum bonum (good man), virum probum (honest man) iuvenem (Young), iuvenem probum (honest young) adulescentem probum (honest teenager), verecundissimum (very respectable), adding so any reason to vote for him.

CIL 04, 06626
If integrity in life is thought to be of any use,
This man, Lucretius Fronto is worthy of great honour.

Si pudor in vita quicquam prodesse putatur / Lucretius hic Fronto dignus honore bono est.

It is said about Gaius Julius Polybius that "shows (or bring) good bread" without knowing if he is the baker or someone who makes a deal of free bread.

I beg you to elect Gaius Julius Polybius aedile. He brings good bread.

C(aium) Iulium Polybium / aed(ilem) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) panem bonum fert

It is said about Brutius Balbus that "he does not squander money in town" and this may mean that it is a good manager or that he spends their own money

Brutius Balbus for duumvir. This will save the public purse. Genialis asks it.

Bruttium Balbum // IIvir(um) / hic aerarium conservabit // Gen[ialis] / rog(at)

Casuistry is huge in 2500 ads. I reproduce some more with some curious detail, so:

(CIL, IV, 02887)
If reject Quintius, , sit on a donkey

Quintio(m) si qui recusat, assidat ad asinum&rdquo

Note: Unlike most, this does not call for the vote butt announces evils for those who do not provide. With "sit on a donkey" it seems to refer to heavy and constant work with which the asses were circling the mill wheel to it the poet Catullus refers in his poem 97, v, 10: "et non Pistrino asino atque traditur?" (and is he not sent to the mill as a donkey. It could also mean "to ride on a donkey to serve. derision and mockery. "

The youth club of youth of Venus proposes Ceyus Secundus for duumvir in charge of justice


Ceium Secundum IIv(irum) i(ure) d(icundo) / Veneriosi rog(ant) iuvenem

One of the councilors loves M.Cerrinus, the other is his love. That makes me hate him. He who hates love.

M(arcum) Cerrinium / aed(ilem) alter amat alter / amatur ego fastidi(i?) / qui fastidit amat

Note: We remember the famous poem 85 of Catullus ' Odi et amo "," I hate and I love "

There are several candidates on more than a hundred ads. I will make some consideration on one of them, Cnaeus Helvius Sabinus, appearing in at least 140 times and so we learn more details about this political propaganda.

(CIL 4, 9928):
I beg you to elect Cn. Helvius Sabinus aedile, worthy of public office.


Cn(aeum) Helvium / Sabinum aed(ilem)/ d(ignum) r(ei) p(ublicae) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis)

As I said, he appears in 140 entries. In most he figures with three names Cn (aeum) Helvium Sabinum 15 times as Helvium Sabinum 8 as Cnaeum Helvium in 6 as Helvium 1 as Cnaeum Helvium Sabinum Arieh. We conclude, therefore, that is a well known character and easily identified by citizens.

In the majority of cases he appears only as a candidate on 6 occasions with another candidate who appears only once for aedile also he appears in the rest for duumvir.

In most times it appears the office that he wants, aedilem (over 100) once duumvir (IIvirum) he only appears in a dozen with a name of the three without more data, so that the voter should know what position he wants.

Only twice the functions as aedile are specified: the charge of sacred and public buildings (temples):

I beg you make him aedile for looking after the sacred and public buildings

Aed(ilem)d(ignum) r(ei) p(yublicae) v(iis) a(edibus) s(acris) p(ublicis) p(rocurandis) O(ro) V(os) F(aciatis)

In most, at least half, full or not typical formula is used: D (Ignum) R (ei) P (ublicae) O (ro,-ant) ((or rog (o,-ant) (V ( os) F (aciatis): (more than 60 times). Dignum, dignified, proper, refers to the merits and suitability fotr he position.

On four occasions he is called virum bonum (good man), in five virum probum (honest man) one time iuvenem (young) and twice iuvenem probum (honest young), thus providing a reason why that he should be elected.

In most times the ad is anonymous, it was probably at the behest of the candidate himself.
On more than 34 occasions he is proposed by others:
– By individuals, sometimes accompanied by his families (suis) or by his wife (sua) Aegle (twice) Popidi (us), Caprasia, Balbus, Iunia, Thyrsus, Parthope and Rufino, Crescens (twice), Vesonius Primus, Infantio, Astylus, Astyle, Pacuvius, Lorei, Maria.
– By individuals with family: Equitius cum suis, Primus cum suis, Infantio cum suis, Amandio cum sua , Epidius cum suis, Porcellus cum suis, Biri cum Biria.
– By his neighbors: vicini (twice)
– By groups: urbulanenses, Poppaei, Aliari, Isiaci (devotees of Isis), cum gallinariis Hermes (Hermes with caregivers of hens), pistores cum vicinis (twice): bakers with its neighbors, Masculus cum codatis.

The latter, Masculus cum codatis, has been object of special attention. The graffiti, CIL IV 7240 says:

Elect Gnaeus Helvius Sabinus aedile he is worthy to manage the community. Masculus and all those who have a tail you recommend him.


Cn(aeum) Helvium / Sabinum aed(ilem) d(ignum) r(ei) p(ublicae) o(rat) f(aciatis) / Masculus cum codatis ubiq(ue).

Some commentators, such as Della Corte, reviewers that the graffiti may refer to a brotherhood of devotees of the god Priapus whose Masculus would be their chairman. It is interpreted in any case, as an example of unwanted support ads, which discredit a candidate or just a bad joke.

Anyway, they are 2500 graffiti which are valuable documents to know one aspect of the social and political life of a Roman city of the first century. Apparently there are many differences with the world today in the background there are not many. The purpose or object and form of these messages are actually very similar to ours: it is to persuade the voter to choose a particular candidate usually without further additions. Sometimes some data based on the candidate's qualities and sometimes the support of certain social groups is reflected, as now it is offered.

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Antonio Marco Martínez.

Born in January 1949, professor of Latin at various Institutes, he now has enough time in his retirement to reread the Greco-Latin classics, review their history and culture, and extract information that is of direct interest for the present moment.

Who were the candidates in the consular elections for 80 BC in Rome? - History

Chances are, no matter where you are, you have heard about the election in the United States. While the country is dealing with the results of their votes, we might want to ponder the history of elections and democracy that have influenced the makeup of the United States.

A coin depicting an Ancient Roman casting a vote. C. Cassius Longinus (issuer). 63 BC. AR Denarius (3.75 g, 4h). Rome mint. Attribution: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Although the Romans are famous for the non-democratic tradition of their emperors, during the Republic, the Romans participated in voting on measures and offices. After the Romans overthrew their Etruscan rulers on 509 B.C.E. they established their Republic. The vote may not have held as much weight during Republican Rome as votes are typically believed to in modern times, but the influence of this Republic has reverberated into the present.

Starting with only two consul positions open for elections, the Republic ended with 44 offices open for election. Those who could vote were natural Roman males. This excluded women, slaves, and anyone not born in Rome. Although this severely limited the electorate, the sheer size of the Roman Empire have led historians to believe that, at one point, the electorate might have included up to 910,000 members.

The elections could be competitive and there were even propaganda strategies. One strategy was to offer food and drinks from bowls inscribed with a candidates name. These treats were offered on the street at the time of elections.

With the cup on the left, Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the younger) asks (petit) to be elected Tribune of the plebs. The cup on the right was sponsored by Lucius Cassius Longinus (praetor with Cicero in 66 BC) to support (suffragatur) Lucius Sergius Catilina (Catilinae) bid for consulate. Courtesy of WIkimedia Commons.

However, expecting a majority of these voters to be able to attend votes, which lasted only about 5 hours in specific locations, was impossible. There are no sources that exist today to tell us what kind of turnout came to the vote, however, Juius Caesar had an attached onto the Campus Martius constructed to serve as a polling place.

Temple of Deified Hadrian (Hadrianeum), Campus Martius, Rome. Attribution: Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This attachment, judging by its size, could have only held between 30,000 and 70,000 people. Historians believe that the range of 6,000 and 16,800 is a more realistic range given the needed space to collect physical votes. With an electorate at 910,000 this means than less that 10% of the Republic were voting on offices around this time.

Augustus, after Caesar, would maintain elections, but the men up for office were pre-selected. So, although the turnout was so small, the significance of those elections did not last very long after the construction of that polling place.

Rachel Feig Vishnia. Roman Elections in the Age of Cicero: Society, Government, and Voting. Routledge, Mar 12, 2012.

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Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt

17 December 2012 by Jean Andreau

Jean-Pierre Dalbéra - Flickr cc

There was no public debt in Grecian-Roman antiquity. This absence is peculiar to the period, unlike Italian cities of the late middle ages and modern times, and modern states. Some Greek cities certainly did borrow publicly, [1] especially in the Hellenistic period, but such loans were always occasional and they did not constitute a public debt. As for Rome, its position on public borrowing was absolutely radical: it was to be avoided as much as possible, and the other cities of the empire were also, as much as possible, impeded from borrowing. This policy was perpetuated by the Roman emperor Augustus and by his successors [2] . Only during the particularly ferocious ’Punic wars (against Carthage)’ during the third century BC did Rome borrow money. Even so, more or less professional financiers did not participate, the borrowing came from Roman citizens by way of an obligatory, but refundable, levy.

So the question of Roman public debt may leave the place to discussion of private debt only.
Roman documents frequently mention private debt and the crises that were caused. For example, the historian Tacitus, (circa 58 -120), wrote about one such crisis that occurred in 33 CE during the reign of Tiberius: ’Loan interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. was an ingrained evil in the city of Rome, a very frequent cause of sedition and discord strongly disapproved of [3] Seeing that in the following lines, Tacitus alludes to the ’Law of the Twelve Tables”, a normative text dating from 450 BC. and to the prohibition of usury, most probably enacted as from 342 BC These ancient times are apparently the fifth and fourth century BC.

During these centuries payments were made with bronze bars, then, towards the end of the fourth century, with the first minted bronze coins. Debt could then lead to a form of serfdom, which the Latins named nexum, which is ’debt slavery’. The insolvent debtor was convicted and awarded to his creditor, to work on his land. He could not be sold, he was not slave merchandise, he remained within the territory of the city (unlike the slave merchandise, who was almost never a slave in his own region ) and was still considered a citizen, but he had permanently lost his freedom. This debt bondage, which caused much social unrest, especially in the fourth century BC. was finally abolished by law, in 326, for Roman citizens.

The end of the fourth century BC. was marked by a strong social reaction against endebtment, but if the debt bondage was never subsequently reinstated for Roman citizens, the abolition of interest lending did not last for very long, and was never again abolished. Harsh private debt crises occurred during the following centuries, in Italy and in the whole of Roman domination. Thanks to the works of Cicero and other author we are the better informed about those that erupted in south- central Italy in the first century BC. These Italian crises were of particular importance because of the importance of Rome itself, its elites and the trade which guaranteed its supplies. However, this did not necessarily happen all around the Mediterranean, nor at the same time. There was a debt crisis in Rome and central Italy in 192 – 193 BC Cato had a similar crisis to manage in Sardinia when he was governor in 198 BC [4] . Another happened in Etolie and Thessaly in173BC The Governor of the Province,Claudius Pulcher, applied debt relief, reimbursement restructuring, annual repayment and other measures. [5]

Personal debts could have two causes. Unpaid sums or outstanding loans. In the first case the debtor had not borrowed, but had not paid a sum that was due, such as taxes, which was often the case. Fiscal crises and protesting against taxes was not uncommon, especially outside of Italy. In fact, as from 167 BC Italy was practically exempted from what we would call ’direct taxation’. Tax troubles arrived at the beginning of the the reign of Tibere, first in Achaia and Macedonia (15), then in Judea and Syria (17) [6] . In reply to these difficulties emperors occasionally wrote-off tax arrears. This was done in the 2 nd century By Hadrian, then by Marcus Aurelius [7] . We shall see that the Roman government was very hostile to the erasing of debts between persons, but would sometimes erase tax arrears.

It is not easy to identify the causes of each debt crisis, but they were obviously not all as serious as in these examples. Lending at interest was widely practiced in many circumstances, in cash or in kind (grain loans, for example). We know very little about the lending in kind, and it is impossible to say how much went on. In Egypt, where papyrus documents provide more information than elsewhere, it was not preponderant. Nevertheless, there was certainly chronic indebtedness among the poor (laborers, farmers and sharecroppers, various professionals among the urban plebians, etc. ). Debt crises are born when this sort of popular endebtment becomes serious, and when a part of the elite (such as senators, knights and local dignataries) are also indebted. Members of the elite were accustomed to borrow and others accustomed to lending, while others still, lent and borrowed at the same time. If debtors members of the elite could no longer reimburse the financial vigour of the elite crashed and debt crises could have serious social and political consequences. Such circumstances could have several causes: poor harvests, causing hardship for all those who lived off agriculture political or military tensions, reduced money supply, which caused difficulties in acquiring the money necessary for making payments and resulting in higher interest rates Interest rates When A lends money to B, B repays the amount lent by A (the capital) as well as a supplementary sum known as interest, so that A has an interest in agreeing to this financial operation. The interest is determined by the interest rate, which may be high or low. To take a very simple example: if A borrows 100 million dollars for 10 years at a fixed interest rate of 5%, the first year he will repay a tenth of the capital initially borrowed (10 million dollars) plus 5% of the capital owed, i.e. 5 million dollars, that is a total of 15 million dollars. In the second year, he will again repay 10% of the capital borrowed, but the 5% now only applies to the remaining 90 million dollars still due, i.e. 4.5 million dollars, or a total of 14.5 million dollars. And so on, until the tenth year when he will repay the last 10 million dollars, plus 5% of that remaining 10 million dollars, i.e. 0.5 million dollars, giving a total of 10.5 million dollars. Over 10 years, the total amount repaid will come to 127.5 million dollars. The repayment of the capital is not usually made in equal instalments. In the initial years, the repayment concerns mainly the interest, and the proportion of capital repaid increases over the years. In this case, if repayments are stopped, the capital still due is higher…

From the beginning of the first century BC to the end of the first century Comon Era. There were four major debt and repayment crises in Italy. The first between 91 and 81 BC, then another around 60 BC, which provoked the « Conjuration of Catalina », a third from 49 to 46 BC during the civil war between Caesar and Pompeii and the Pompeiiens. There was another in 33 [8] .

The 91-81 BC crisis seams to have have been the worst and should be considered apart. There were three ferocious wars (the ’Social’ war between Rome and its Italian allies, the civil war between Marius’ troops and those of Sulla and the war against Mithridates, who, in 88, murdered tens of thousands of Romans and Italians in the eastern Mediterranean), an explosion of debt and monetary and fiscal troubles. The prevailing confusion in the circulation of currency, and social tensions due to indebtedness, led the Roman magistrature, in 86 BC., to restructure a quarter of existing debts. and to abolish the remainder. This is the only time in the history of Rome that such a high proportion of debt was abolished. Rome was never to enact a total debt abolition [9] .

The Conspiracy of Catalina lasted a year and a half, from the middle of 64 to the beginning of 62 BC., but the truly insurgent phase did not exceed a few months, between October 63 and January 62 BC. It is interesting because the event is richly documented. Indeed, Sallust devoted a historic treaty to Catalina. Cicero, who fought against the conspirators while he was consul in 63 BC. (In Rome the consulate was the highest judicial authority, it was occupied by two senators each year), wrote four speeches opposing him (the ’Catiline orations’). It is also interesting because it does not occur in the context of a civil war, and the surviving texts tell us the arguments of the indebted conspirators, and those of Cicero. Who without being himself a great moneylender, was on principle, closer to the positions of the creditors than that of the debtors.

He continued to insist on the extreme gravity of the plot, at the time it was happening and afterwards claiming the plotters wanted the complete destruction of the Roman state. This was certainly excessive, in the four orations he pronounced at the moment of the events, Cicero heavily dramatised the situation to influence opinions. Afterwards, the repression of the plot became his principle glory. Sallust, not an ally of Cicero, also insisted on the gravity of the events he called it the ’bellum Catilinarium’ the Catiline war [10] .

Although It was certainly less bloody than the civil wars of the 80s BC. It did lead to the execution of five important personalities, including a former consul who held the praetor-ship in 63, Publius Cornelius Lentulus, and a few thousand (between 3000 and 10000?) Catiliniens were put to death in Pistoia at the beginning of 62 BC. It was so much more dramatic than the monetary crisis of 33 CE. which took place without bloodshed.

It is impossible to recount here in detail everything we know about the plot’s political evolution. Its leader, Catalina, was of a very ancient family, Senator and former staunch supporter of Sulla in the 80s. He was twice, in 62 and 63 BC, failed candidate in consular elections, among his supporters, there was a group of senators, and several important personalities [11] . It was, for example, rumoured that the renowned Crassus supported him discreetly (Crassus and Pompey, at that time, were the two most influential politicians of Rome, and they were of course rivals Caesar had not the influence that he achieved three or four years later, at 36 years old he was a rising star).

If we are to believe Sallustius, Catalina stressed, along with this group of confirmed partisans, the contrast between their own poverty and debt on the one hand, and on the other hand the wealth and arrogance of those in power who abused their political position to appropriate money paid by foreign sovereigns in tribute or by immigrants from Rome in taxes [12] . He promised them tabulae novae, meaning the abolition of debts. At the same time, he was already speaking to them of seizing power, banishing adversaries and the loot to be gained from the war.

There is some disagreement about the meaning of tabulae novae, an expression which, literally, indicates the establishment of new financial registers or new acknowledgement of debts [13] . It is a slogan which refers to the complete abolition of debts resulting from monetary loans. This slogan, which was very popular amongst the common people of Rome, obviously met with a great deal of hostility from money lenders and all creditors. The abolition of debts could be achieved by passing a law. If Catalina had been elected and passed this law, would it have also prohibited the lending of money with interest for the future? We do not know, it is uncertain. The abolition of debts is one thing, the prohibition of lending with interest is quite another. But, as I have said, these tabulae novae were never introduced in Rome to abolish all debts. However, we have seen that in 86 BC three quarters of the debts had been abolished, which amounts to an almost total abolition.

In 64 BC part of the urban working classes of Rome (in other words, the free people of the city, partly comprised of more or less parasitic clients from large families, but also of small shop owners, workers and artisans) was heavily in debt. Troubles erupted. Working class associations had to be dissolved and roadside preachers banned. After losing the elections, in October 63, Catalina turned to violent measures. There were rumours that he was planning to murder the consul Cicero and set fire to the city of Rome. Cicero and Sallustius tell us the conspirators had several partisans:

► amongst the working classes of Rome

► amongst the young people from the senatorial elite. These “young people” were legally under their parents’ control but, as a group, this gilded youth had influence and added to the heated atmosphere in the city. Such was the tension that Appian recounts the case of a “young” senator who was killed by his father for supporting the conspiracy.

► and, in addition, amongst Sulla’s “colonialists”.

In 82-79 BC, following his victory in the civil war, Sulla settled a significant number of his previous soldiers and veterans in the territory. Appian quotes the enormous number of 120,000 previous soldiers installed in this way in general it is believed to be 23 legions, in other words, between 80,000 and 100,000 men. This in itself is a very large total, if one considers that in the census carried out in 70 BC the total number of adult male Roman citizens was approximately 900,000. This means that 10% of Roman citizens had received land from Sulla which, as a result of the civil war, had been confiscated from its previous owners. Some of these “colonies” and Sulla’s individual distributions were situated close to Rome, others in Etruria (mainly in Arezzo and Fiesole) or in Campania (For example, in Pompei). Given that Catalina was an old partisan of Sulla’s, many rallied around him (notably those from Tuscany, Arezzo and Fiesole).

It is impossible to relate in detail here all that we know about the development of the conspiracy. The consul Cicero declared an emergency state (the “final senatus-consultum”) and, to improve his fight against Catalina, led him to abandon the city of Rome. Catalina joined his insurgent partisans in Tuscany (on 8 November) and was declared a public enemy by the Senate. Cicero had five of Catalina’s chiefs arrested, including the money lender Lentulus, who was discharged on 3 December. The execution of such high profile Roman citizens in virtue of the emergency state was not a foregone conclusion and Cesar, for example, appealed to the Senate against the death penalty (he recommended keeping them under supervised custody and judging them after the complete defeat of Catalina’s troops). They were nevertheless sentenced to death and the five prisoners were executed on 5 December 63. Furthermore Catalina and his partisans were defeated and killed by the regular army in Pistoia, Tuscany, during the second half of January 62. This marked the end of the “conspiracy.”

The circulation of money following the debt crisis and the political situation seemed to have been frozen [14] . It was what was called in Latin inopia mummorum, a shortage of coins. Aware of the situation, Cicero banned the transport of precious metals (gold and silver) outside Italy and possibly even their transport from one province to another [15] .

The origins of this insurrectionary movement lie with the fact that several social groups fell into debt: Sulla’s previous soldiers who had become small or medium scale landowners the working classes of Rome (shop keepers, artisans, etc) and part of the senatorial elite. In one passage, which I will cite below and which dates between 44-43, Cicero repeats that there has never been so much debt in Italy as during his consulate. He repeatedly links the existence of the conspiracy to the debt crisis. When Catalina left Rome, for example, he exclaimed “But what men has he left behind! And what debts they have! And what influence! And what names!” [16] .

The large debt crises such as that of 64-63 seem to occur each time the senatorial elite, or at least a part of it, also falls into debt. The urban working classes and a certain number of poor or modest peasants were most likely chronically in debt, but this indebtedness did not become politically dramatic until the elite also fell into debt. The indebted senators had assets consisting of land, livestock, slaves, houses and valuable objects and, unless they sold a fraction of these assets, they would not be able to repay their creditors. In 63, some of them, including Catalina, could not make the decision to break up their estate, they even refused for political reasons because their dignity and their rank were founded on their estates [17] . Sallustius quotes Catalina as having said the following sentences, which he would have written in a letter (but, as we know, ancient historians rewrote the letters and speeches that they attributed to the heroes of their works).

“Given the impossibility of preserving my rank I have publicly taken upon myself, as is my custom, the defence of the most unfortunate, not because I am unable to repay my personal debts by selling my assets (and, as far as the debts of others go, the generosity of Aurelia Orestilla [Catalina’s wife] has placed her resources and those of her daughter at my disposal with the aim of settling my debts) but I saw men who had no right to them being showered with honours, while I felt excluded, and was exponed to unjust suspicion. It is in this regard that I have kindled hope and formed the design, which my situation more than justifies, of saving what remains of my dignity.” [18] .

As regards the indebted rich who were willing to sell, the moment they tried to do so the price of land went down [19] .

On an individual level the senators’ debts can sometimes be explained by their occupational hazards. A senator’s position in the elite was partly conditioned by elections in which the family’s “nobility” certainly counted for a lot, but along with other factors. If a patrician like Catalina lost the courtroom or consular elections he also lost the chance to gain access to their funds and remake a fortune that had been dilapidated by his career debut.

Catalina and his partisans demanded an abolition of all debts, a demand which the consul Cicero and the majority of his senators refused. Years later, in the treaty of Duties (De officiis) written in 44-43, Cicero once again justifies the radical nature of his policies regarding debt:

“What does the establishment of new debt accounts mean other than that you buy a plot of land with my money, that you’re the one who owns it and that I do not have my money? That’s why you have to ensure that there aren’t any debts, which may harm the State. It can be avoided in many ways but, if there are debts they should not be such that the rich lose their assets and the debtors acquire the assets of others. Nothing in fact maintains the State more efficiently than good faith (fides), which cannot exist if there is no need to pay one’s debts. Never has anyone acted with more vehemence to avoid paying them than under my consulate. It has been attempted by men of all ranks, men who were armed, and who set up camps. But such was my resistance that this evil was eliminated from the State (de re publica) entirely” [20] .

Let us move on to Sulla’s colonies. It was traditional to found cities known as colonies, which were inhabited by the poor, for example in the city of Rome, from redistributed land. This was not the first time that previous semi professional or practically professional soldiers had received land. These distributions often, but not always, had positive results. In Sulla’s case it was a failure. Why? It is not easy to explain but one of the reasons is doubtless that the distributed land had been confiscated from its previous owners following a civil war [21] . The foundation of a colony of this nature was a traumatising event for the social fabric of a region (especially when it occured at the end of a civil war and when the region in question was not traditionally latin and had its own culture and its own language, as was the case with Etruria or the Oscan cities of the gulf of Naples)!

Despite being the beneficiaries of these plots of land (the exact amount of which we do not know, in the case of Sulla’s colonisation), the veterans were not very rich. The debt problem was not the same for them as it was for Catalina or Lentulus. Sallustius included in his account a letter which he attributes to Caius Manlius, a centurion who commanded the Catalinians in Tuscany [22] . It’s not a question of an estate that one could sell but one that one does not wish to sell! Manlius insists on the fact that the estate has been totally lost already, along with his reputation, and that they are trying to save, if at all possible, their personal freedom. The text shows that although (definitive and statutory) servitude for debt had been abolished in Italy, at least for Roman citizens, forced work for repaying debt still existed, on a temporary basis, until such time as the work carried out had compensated the sum of money owed. Was it usual to apply this procedure? Or did it depend on the personality of the money lender (a magistrate whose cruelty was denounced by Manlius)? We do not know. In any case, the possibility of such forced work, conceived as a violation of freedom, existed legally, even if it was not to be confused entirely with slavery.

The ancient writers are aware that, during crises, and particularly in debt crises, factors beyond the agents’ control can come into play, which, to our way of seeing, are economic. They are for example fully aware that bad agricultural harvests can affect the price of grain and thereby produce a debt crisis. The economic causes of such crises that they they single out the most often are either bad harvests, or destruction caused by wars (foreign or civil), as well as the despondency and fear they produce, or factors related to the financial behaviour of particular social groups.

Detrimental financial behaviour could be that of individuals who have managed their affairs badly [23] . It could also be that of social groups who have not adapted their responses appropriately in terms of managing their assets. Thus, according to Cicero, having receieved land and feeling intoxicated by their victory in the civil war, Sulla’s previous soldiers wanted to play at being large scale farmers by carrying out major construction and buying significant numbers of slaves. These unifamiliar rural exploitations thus drove them into debt and the only conceivable way out was to join the conspiracy [24] .

The ancients who have written of the Conspiracy, such as Cicero, Sallustius and Appian, have stressed the political causes of this crisis infinitely more than the “economic” factors. They have insisted on the idea that the causes of the debt are to be found in the political climate and the management of public money. What is stressed are the problems of one sector of the elite, and these problems are mostly attributed to the abnormal and unfair management of State resources. In the secret meeting with his partisans in 64, Catalina does not in the least condemn a situation which would have compromised the sale of wine, oil or livestock produced in the domaines of those in debt, but the grabbing of State riches by a small clique, at the exclusion of the rest of the city’s legitimate elite.

It is also difficult to understand why the debt crisis escalated to such an extent during the years 64 and 63, rather than several years before or after this date. It has often been thought that the State’s minting of currency was to blame and that the 60s subjected the State to the repercussions of insufficient minting throughout several decades. It is not easy to know approximately how many coins were in circulation each year there is much debate about this amongst numismatists. On the other hand, we do not know how many coins the State remelted and reminted before putting them into circulation again. Some believe that the State reminted all of them, but that is hardly likely. When all is said and done it is by no means certain that the number of silver coins issued diminished throughout the 70s and 60s BC. It remains to consider the question of the possible contraction of practically available monetary stock, and in particular the question of thesaurisation. The reduction of the price of land, the debt problems, the political troubles, led some people to keep their money at home, even though they were in a position to pay their debts and their rent. It is significant that in 49 Cesar banned anyone from keeping more than 60,000 sestertia in cash [25] .

In normal times public power intervened very little in private financial affairs, unless it were via the usual functions of justice and to fix an interest limit. In view of the absence of a bureau for registering contracts there was doubtless no way in Italy of knowing the details of all the debts that were incurred. But the debt or payment crises that affected Rome and central-meridional Italy were fairly frequent and when they occured it was necessary to intervene, in order to avoid very serious social and political problems. Which means of action did the State have at its disposal? In order to simplify, let’s say it had five. All of these means were used at one time or another, and consisted of different political options:

1) the pure and simple refusal of any kind of debt adjustment, together with the repression of possible uprisings (this was Cicero’s stance in 63 BC)

2) different measures aimed at facilitating debt payment without abolishing either capital or interests: for example the non retroactive reduction of interests and the rescheduling of the due dates of the debts, as was carried out, according to Tite-Live, in 348-347 BC [26]

3) payment of public funds as gifts, loans or reduced interest loans (as carried out by Tiberius in 33.)

4) The attribution to creditors of certain of the debtors’ assets, or the public organisation of the sale of estates. The first of these two measures, which was taken by Cesar between 49 and 46, was possibly more favourable to the debtors than the second, because the multiplication of sales with bids led to the lowering of the price of land and thus condemned the debtors to sell their assets at a very low price. Cesar himself wrote that during the crisis of 49-46 he was trying to, at the same time “do away with or diminish the fear of a general cancellation of debts, almost constantly following wars or civil troubles, and on the other hand to maintain the reputation of the debtors” [27] .

5) The partial or total abolition of interests or debt capital (in Rome the total abolition of debts was never decided but there were reductions of interest and partial abolitions, the most prominent being in 86 BC).

The financial measures of general scope taken in times of crisis were only enforced on a very temporary basis. When Cesar decided, in order to remedy the payment crisis which struck in 49, that no one could keep more than 60,000 sestertia in cash he emphasised that this law was not new, but reiterated another law which was already in force [28] . After the crisis in 33, Tiberius himself put back into force one of Cesar’s laws which had never been abrogated but had fallen into disuse for a long time because, Tacitus writes, private interest comes before public good [29] . And, out of laxity, the measures applied by the senate in 33 AD were enforced for a very short time. This is one of the reasons that explains the triggering of new debt crises several years or several decades later.

Andreau 1980 : J. Andreau, « Pompéi : mais où sont les vétérans de Sylla ? », Revue des Etudes anciennes, 82, p. 183-199.

Andreau 2001 : J. Andreau, Banque et affaires dans le monde romain (IVe siècle av. J.-C.-IIIe siècle ap. J.-C.), Paris, Seuil, Collection Points Histoire.

Andreau 2006 : J. Andreau, « Existait-il une Dette publique dans l’Antiquité romaine ? », in J. Andreau, G. Béaur & J.-Y. Grenier (dir.), La Dette publique dans l’Histoire, Journées du Centre de Recherches Historiques (26-28 novembre 2001), Paris, Comité pour l’Histoire économique et financière de la France (C.H.E.F.F.), p. 101-114.

Frederiksen 1966 : M. W. Frederiksen, « Caesar, Cicero and the Problem of Debt », Journal of Roman Studies, 56, p. 128-141.

Hinard 1985a : Fr. Hinard, Les proscriptions de la Rome républicaine, Rome, Ecole Française de Rome.

Hinard 1985b : Fr. Hinard, Sylla, Paris, Fayard.

Ioannatou 2006 : M. Ioannatou, Affaires d’argent dans la correspondance de Cicéron, L’Aristocratie sénatoriale face à ses dettes, Paris, De Boccard.

Lo Cascio 1979 : E. Lo Cascio, “Carbone, Druso e Gratidiano : la gestione della res nummaria a Roma tra la Lex Papiria e la Lex Cornelia », Athenaeum, 57, p. 215-238.

Migeotte 1984 : L. Migeotte, L’Emprunt public dans les cités grecques, Québec-Paris, Editions du Sphinx & Belles Lettres.

Nicolet 1971 : Cl. Nicolet, « Les variations des prix et la ‘théorie quantitative de la monnaie’ à Rome, de Cicéron à Pline l’Ancien », Annales Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations, 26, p. 1202-1227.

Tchernia 2011 : A. Tchernia, Les Romains et le commerce, Naples, Centre Jean Bérard.

The CADTM publishes a series of articles on debt abolition, activism for abolition, the role of debt in political, social and geostrategic conficts throughout history. Several authors have contributed to the series. The first article, by Eric Toussaint, The Long tradition of debt abolition in Mesopetamia and Egypt from 3000 to 1000 BC, was published September 2 2012, http://cadtm.org/http://cadtm.org/T. The second article in the series Isabele Ponet, Debt cancellation in the land of Canaan in the first millennium BC http://cadtm.org/Debt-cancellation-in-the-land-of

Jean Andreau is the Director of Studies emeritus at the École des Hautes Etudes in Social Sciences, Paris.

Translation: Mike Krolikowski and Ümit Hussein


[3] Tacite, Annales, 6.16.1 (TheFrench translations cited are from the collections of French Universities published by ’des Belles Lettres ’ I do sometimes modify them in the cause of clarity)

[4] Livy, Roman History, 32.27.3-4.

[5] Livy, Roman History 42.5.7-10.

[6] Tacitus, Annals, 1.76.4 et 2.42.8

[7] Histoire Auguste, Hadrien, 7 Dion Cassius, 72.32.

[8] On this crisis of 33 CE. see Andreau 2001, 192-193 and 196 and Tchernia 2011.

[10] Salluste,The Cataline plot, 4.4

[11] Salluste, Catilina, 17 on Catilina and his supporters, see Ioannatou 2006, passim.

[13] On tabulae novae, see Ioannatou 2006, p. 72-85.

[14] See Nicolet 1971, p. 1221-1225.

[15] Cicéron, in Vatinium, 12 and pro Flacco, 67.

[16] Cicéron, Deuxième Catilinaire, 4.

[21] Hinard 1985a and 1985b and Andreau 1980.

[23] Cicéron, Deuxième Catilinaire, 21.

[24] Cicéron, Deuxième Catilinaire, 20.

[26] Tite-Live, Histoire romaine, 7.27.3-4.

[27] César, Guerre Civile, 3.1.1-4 see Frederiksen 1966 and Ioannatou 2006.

Roman Timeline of Events - Table of Contents

Roman Empire Wall Map
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The Twelve Tables are the first attempt to make a law code, and remained the only attempt for nearly one thousand years.

Typically, Roman prisons were not used to punish criminals, but instead served only to hold people awaiting trial or execution.

The Tribune of the Plebes (tribunus plebis) was a magistracy established in 494 BC. It was created to provide the people with a direct representative magistrate.

A copy of the acts of the Deified Augustus by which he placed the whole world under the sovereignty of the Roman people.

This book reveals how an empire that stretched from Glasgow to Aswan in Egypt could be ruled from a single city and still survive more than a thousand years.

This second edition includes a new introduction that explores the consequences for government and the governing classes of the replacement of the Republic by the rule of emperors.

During the period, the government of the Roman empire met the most prolonged crisis of its history and survived. This text is an early attempt at an inclusive study of the origins and evolutions of this transformation in the ancient world.

Swords Against the Senate describes the first three decades of Rome's century-long civil war that transformed it from a republic to an imperial autocracy, from the Rome of citizen leaders to the Rome of decadent emperor thugs.

Rome's first emperor, Augustus, the adopted son of Julius Caesar, has probably had the most lasting effect on history of all rulers of the classical world. This book focuses on his rise to power and on the ways in which he then maintained authority throughout his reign.

Centuriate Voting Assembly

The centuriae may also have been started by the 6th king or he might have inherited and augmented them. The Servian centuriae included about 170 centuriae of foot soldiers (infantry or pedites), 12 or 18 of equestrians, and a couple of others. How much wealth a family had determined which census class and therefore centuria its men fit in.

The wealthiest infantry class had close to a majority of the centuriae and were also allowed to vote early, just after the cavalry whose first position in the metaphorical voting line (may have) earned them the label praerogativae. (It is from this use that we get the English word 'prerogative.') (Hall says that later after the system was reformed, the first [selected by lot] centuria to vote had the title of centuria praerogativa.) Should the vote of the wealthiest (infantry) first class and that of the cavalry be unanimous, there was no reason to go to the second class for their vote.

The vote was by centuria in one of the assemblies, the comitia centuriata. Lily Ross Taylor thinks the members of a given centuria were from a variety of tribes. This process changed over time but is thought to have been the way the vote worked when the Servian Reforms were instituted.

10 Most Decisive Ancient Battles

Everyone loves a good tale of battles and blood &ndash which is clearly evidenced by the plethora of movies and movie scenes based on them. In this list, instead of just looking at great battles based on numbers or deaths, we are looking at battles that were strategically important or changed the methods of warfare. This list only includes battles from before the time of Christ. Later battles will be the subject of a future list. I have generally avoided describing the actual events of the battles in order to present the overall historical impact. You can use the &ldquosource&rdquo links to read more on each battle. This list contains a competition &ndash read more at the bottom of the list.

The Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC was a decisive victory for the Parthian Spahbod Surena (try saying that 10 times fast!) over the Roman general Crassus near the town of Carrhae (now the present-day ruins of Harran, Turkey). A Parthian force of 1,000 cataphracts and 9,000 horse archers under general Surena met the Romans at Carrhae. Crassus&rsquo cavalry was screening ahead of the main force when they were engaged by the cataphracts, and the weapons his cavalry employed were not capable of piercing the cataphracts armor. His cavalry was soon surrounded and routed, and his son Publius killed. Rome was humiliated by this defeat, and this was made even worse by the fact that the Parthians had captured several Legionary Eagles. It is also mentioned by Plutarch that the Parthians found the Roman prisoner of war that resembled Crassus the most, dressed him as a woman and paraded him through Parthia for all to see. The capture of the golden Aquilae (legionary battle standards) by the Parthians was considered a grave moral defeat and evil omen for the Romans. It required a generation of diplomacy before the Parthians returned them. An important and unexpected implication of this battle was that it opened up the European continent to a new and beautiful material: silk. However, the most immediate effect of the battle was that Carrhae was an indirect cause for the fall of the Republic, and the rise of the Empire. [Source]

The Battle of Pydna in 168 BC between Rome and the Macedonian Antigonid dynasty represents the ascendancy of Rome in the Hellenic/Hellenistic world and the end of the Antigonid line of kings, whose power traced back to Alexander III of Macedon. It is often considered to be the classic example of the Macedonian phalanx against the Roman legion, and generally accepted as proving the superiority of the latter over the former. This was not the final conflict between the two rivals, but it broke the back of Macedonian power. The political consequences of the lost battle were severe. The Senate&rsquos settlement included the deportation of all the royal officials and the permanent house arrest of Perseus. The kingdom was divided into four republics that were heavily restricted from intercourse or trade with one another and with Greece. There was a ruthless purge, with allegedly anti-Roman citizens being denounced by their compatriots and deported in large numbers (300 000). [Source]

The Battle of Ipsus was fought between some of the Diadochi (the successors of Alexander the Great) in 301 BC near the village of that name in Phrygia. Antigonus I Monophthalmus and his son Demetrius I of Macedon were pitted against the coalition of three other companions of Alexander: Cassander, ruler of Macedon Lysimachus, ruler of Thrace and Seleucus I Nicator, ruler of Babylonia and Persia. The battle opened with the usual slowly intensifying skirmishing between the two armies&rsquo light troops, with elephants eventually thrown into the fray by both sides. Efforts were made by both sides to hamstring the enemy&rsquos elephants, but also had to hang back to protect their own. Demetrius&rsquo superior right-flank cavalry drove Antiochus&rsquo wing back, but was halted in his attempted rear blow by Seleucus, who moved the elephant reserve to block him. More missile troops moved to the unprotected Antigonid right flank, as Demetrius was unable to disengage from the elephants and enemy horse to his front. At the beginning of the day, Antigonus had not been able to wear plate armor this disadvantage was unexpectedly used by an anonymous allied peltast, who killed him with a well-thrown javelin. Without leadership and already beginning to flee, the Antigonid army completely disintegrated. The last chance to reunite the Alexandrine Empire had now passed. Antigonus had been the only general able to consistently defeat the other Successors without him, the last bonds the Empire had had began to dissolve. Ipsus finalized the breakup of an empire, which may account for its obscurity despite that, it was still a critical battle in classical history and decided the character of the Hellenistic age. [Source]

The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between Alexander the Great of Macedonia and Darius III of Achaemenid Persia. The battle, which is also inaccurately called the Battle of Arbela, resulted in a massive victory for the Macedonians. While Darius had a significant advantage in numbers, most of his troops were of a lower quality than Alexander&rsquos. Alexander&rsquos pezhetairoi were armed with a six-meter spear, the sarissa. The main Persian infantry was poorly trained and equipped in comparison to Alexander&rsquos pezhetairoi and hoplites. After the battle, Parmenion rounded up the Persian baggage train while Alexander and his own bodyguard chased after Darius in hopes of catching up. As at Issus, substantial amounts of loot were gained following the battle, with 4,000 talents captured, as well as the King&rsquos personal chariot and bow. The war elephants were also captured. In all, it was a disastrous defeat for the Persians, and possibly one of Alexander&rsquos finest victories. At this point, the Persian Empire was divided into two halves &ndash East and West. Bessus murdered Darius, before fleeing eastwards. Alexander would pursue Bessus, eventually capturing and executing him the following year. The majority of the existing satraps were to give their loyalty to Alexander, and be allowed to keep their positions, however, the Persian Empire is traditionally considered to have fallen with the death of Darius. [Source]

The Battle of Marathon during the Greco-Persian Wars took place in 490 BC and was the culmination of King Darius I of Persia&rsquos first full scale attempt to conquer the remainder of Greece and incorporate it into the Persian Empire, which would secure the weakest portion of his western border. The longest-lasting legacy of Marathon was the double envelopment. Some historians have claimed it was random rather than a conscious decision by Miltiades &ndash the Tyrant of the Greek Colonies. In hoplitic battles, the two sides were usually stronger than the center because either they were the weakest point (right side) or the strongest point (left side). However, before Miltiades (and after him until Epaminondas), this was only a matter of quality, not quantity. Miltiades had personal experience from the Persian army and knew its weaknesses. As his course of action after the battle shows (invasions of the Cyclades islands), he had an integrated strategy upon defeating the Persians, hence there is no reason he could have not thought of a good tactic. The double envelopment has been used ever since, such as when the German Army used a tactic at the battle of Tannenberg during World War I similar to that used by the Greeks at Marathon. [Source]

The Battle of Cynoscephalae was fought in Thessaly in 197 BC between the Roman army, led by Titus Quinctius Flamininus, and the Antigonid dynasty of Macedon, led by Philip V. This Macedonian defeat marks the passing of imperial power from the successors of Alexander the Great to Rome. Along with the later Battle of Pydna, this defeat is often held to have demonstrated that the Macedonian phalanx, formerly the most effective fighting unit in the ancient world, was now obsolete, although in fact the phalanx was able to force the legions back and held their own with swords until twenty maniples fell upon their rear (due to the weak Macedonian flanks and the Roman elephants routing the disordered Macedonian left flank). As a consequence of his loss, Philip had to pay 1,000 talents to Rome, as well as disband his navy and most of his army. He also had to send his son to Rome as a hostage. The battle in many ways determined the subsequent history of the Mediterranean. It also was a major turning point in how wars were fought. The image above is the site of the Battle of Cynoscephalae today. [Source]

The Battle of Actium was the decisive engagement in the Final War of the Roman Republic between the forces of Octavian and those of the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. It was fought on September 2, 31 BC, on the Ionian Sea near the Roman colony of Actium in Greece. Octavian&rsquos fleet was commanded by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, while Antony&rsquos fleet was supported by the fleet of his lover, Cleopatra VII, queen of Ptolemaic Egypt. The victory of Octavian&rsquos fleet enabled him to consolidate his power over Rome and its domains, leading to his adoption of the title of Princeps (&ldquofirst citizen&rdquo) and his accepting the title of Augustus from the Senate. As Augustus Caesar, he would preserve the trappings of a restored Republic, but many historians view his consolidation of power and the adoption of his honorifics flowing from his victory at Actium as the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire. The political consequences of this sea battle were far-reaching. As a result of the loss of his fleet, Mark Antony&rsquos army, which had begun as equal to that of Octavian&rsquos, deserted in large numbers. In a communication breakdown, Antony came to believe that Cleopatra had been captured, and so he committed suicide. Cleopatra heard the news about Mark Antony and, rather than risk being captured by Octavian, committed suicide herself, on August 12, 30 BC. She allowed herself to be bitten by a poisonous asp that was reportedly hidden for her in a basket of figs. [Source]

The Third Servile War, also called the Gladiator War, The Battle of Siler River, and The War of Spartacus by Plutarch, was the last of a series of unrelated and unsuccessful slave rebellions against the Roman Republic, known collectively as the Servile Wars. The Third Servile War was the only one to directly threaten the Roman heartland of Italia and was doubly alarming to the Roman people due to the repeated successes of the rapidly growing band of rebel slaves against the Roman army between 73 and 71 BC. The rebellion was finally crushed through the concentrated military effort of a single commander, Marcus Licinius Crassus, although the rebellion continued to have indirect effects on Roman politics for years to come. The Third Servile War was significant to the broader history of ancient Rome mostly in its effect on the careers of Pompey and Crassus. The two generals used their success in putting down the rebellion to further their political careers, using their public acclaim and the implied threat of their legions to sway the consular elections of 70 BC in their favor. Their actions as Consuls greatly furthered the subversion of Roman political institutions and contributed to the eventual transition of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. [Source]

The Battle of Pharsalus was a decisive battle of Caesar&rsquos Civil War. On August 9, 48 BC, the battle was fought at Pharsalus in central Greece between forces of the Populares faction and forces of the Optimates faction. Both factions field armies from the Roman Republic. The Populares were led by Gaius Julius Caesar (Caesar) and the Optimates were led by Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey). In addition to Pompey, the Optimates faction included most of the Roman Senate. The victory of Caesar weakened the Senatorial forces and solidified his control over the Republic. Pompey fled from Pharsalus to Egypt, where he was assassinated on the order of Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII. The Battle of Pharsalus ended the wars of the First Triumvirate. The Roman Civil War, however, was not ended. Pompey&rsquos two sons, the most important of whom was Sextus Pompeius, and the Pompeian faction led now by Labienus, survived and fought their cause in the name of Pompey the Great. Caesar spent the next few years &lsquomopping up&rsquo remnants of the senatorial faction. After finally completing this task, he was assassinated in a conspiracy arranged by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus. [Source]

The Battle of Salamis, was a decisive naval battle between the Greek city-states and Persia in September, 480 BC in the strait between Piraeus and Salamis Island, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens. The Greeks were not in accord as to how to defend against the Persian army, but Athens under Themistocles used their navy to defeat the much larger Persian navy and force King Xerxes I of Persia to retreat. The Greek victory marked the turning point of the campaign, leading to the eventual Persian defeat. The Battle of Salamis has been described by many historians as the single most significant battle in human history. The defeat of the Persian navy was instrumental in the eventual Persian defeat, as it dramatically shifted the war in Greece&rsquos favor. Many historians argue that Greece&rsquos ensuing independence laid the foundations for Western civilization, most notably from the preservation of Athenian democracy, the concept of individual rights, relative freedom of the person, true philosophy, art and architecture. Had the Persians won at Salamis, it is very likely that Xerxes would have succeeded in conquering all the Greek nations and passing to the European continent, thus preventing Western civilization&rsquos growth (and even existence). Given the influence of Western civilization on world history, as well as the achievements of Western culture itself, a failure of the Greeks to win at Salamis would almost certainly have had seriously important effects on the course of human history. [Source]

To celebrate the launch of our new stable service and our new look, we have a competition on this list. The prize is a copy of both of the movies shown above &ndash Spartacus, and 300. The prize winner will be one randomly selected commenter &ndash as usual you can enter more than one comment to improve your chances, but your comments must add value to this list &ndash that means no comments designed just to have a better chance at winning. The winner must be a registered user of the List Universe. You can click here to register. Good luck!

Omissions: Kadesh, Megiddo, Thermopylae (less decisive than Salamis above), Cannae, and Gaixia

This article is licensed under the GFDL because it contains quotations from the Wikipedia articles cited above.

Great Roman Civil War, 50-44 BC

The Great Roman Civil War (50-44 BC) was triggered by the rivalry between Julius Caesar and his conservative opposition in the Senate, and saw Caesar defeat all of his enemies in battles scattered around the Roman world, before famously being assassinated in Rome on the Ides of March, triggering yet another round of civil wars.

The Great Roman Civil War was the middle part of a series of civil wars that rocked, and eventually destroyed, the Roman Republic. Roman politics was often quite vicious, but the almost normal low level of violence was first tipped over into civil war by the rivalry between Marius and Sulla.

Marius was one of the great military heroes of the Republic, consul for five consecutive years from 104 BC to 100 BC, and responsible for the defeat of the Cimbri and Teutones, two Germanic tribes who defeated Roman armies in Gaul and attempted to invade Italy, and the Roman commander early in the Social War (91-88 BC).

Sulla war an upcoming commander. He had served under Marius in Africa and against the Cimbri and Teutones, and made his name in independent command during the Social War. Although Sulla and Marius had originally worked together, by the end of the Social War they were bitter rivals.

In 88 BC Sulla was one of the two consuls. One of the rewards of that post was that it would be followed by a military command, and Sulla was given the command of the war against Mithridates the Great of Pontus (First Mithridatic War). However Marius also wanted the command, and he found an ally in the tribune P. Sulpicius, who had fallen out with Sulla over the integration of the new Italian citizens into the Roman voting system. When Sulpicius attempted to have the Italians distributed between all thirty five Roman tribes, so that their votes would have some significance, Sulla opposed him. Sulpicius and Marius formed an alliance, the consuls attempted to suspend all public business and riots broke out. Sulla was forced to take shelter with Marius, and agreed to support the Italian laws. He then returned to his army, which was besieging Nola. Once Sulla was out of the city, Sulpicius used his powers to transfer the eastern command from Sulla to Marius.

Marius and Sulpicius had badly misjudged Sulla. When the news reached him, Sulla decided to lead his army to Rome, a momentous decision, breaking a taboo as old as the Republic. All but one of his officers deserted him when the decision was made public, but the troops sided with Sulla, and murdered a group of military tribunes sent by Marius to take command. Marius and Sulpicius had no soldiers at their disposal - none were allowed in Rome - and the makeshift forces they were able to gather were unable to stand up to Sulla's men (battle of the Esquiline Forum, 88 BC). Sulpicius was betrayed and killed, but Marius managed to escape to Africa.

Sulla's settlement unravelled in 87 BC. One of the consuls for the year, Lucius Cornelius Cinna, opposed Sulla's reforms. After an attempt to introduce voting reform failed he was expelled from the city, raised an army, and returned to besiege Rome. He was supported by Marius, who returned from Africa, and the city fell. Marius rather sullied his reputation with a massacre of his perceived enemies, but died early in 86 BC, just after starting his seventh consulship. This left Cinna as the dominant figure in Italy for the next few years.

While this was going on, Sulla campaigned in the east, where he managed to expel Mithridates from all of his conquests. A Marian army sent to oppose Sulla campaigned against Mithridates instead, after its original commander was overthrown by one of his tribunes. By 85 BC Mithridates was ready to make peace, ending the war, and freeing Sulla to return to Italy. Cinna was killed in a mutiny amongst troops who didn't want to risk the sea voyage to the Balkans to face Sulla, leaving Carbo to lead the resistance to Sulla.

In 83 BC Sulla returned to Italy. The campaign of 83 BC was indecisive, and the war continued into 82 BC. The main focus of the war in that year was a long siege of Praeneste, where the younger Marius was forced to take refuge after suffering defeat at the battle of Sacriportus. The Marians made several attempts to lift the siege, all of which failed. Their Samnite allies even attempted to attack Rome, and were defeated in a desperate battle outside the Colline Gate. Soon after this the defenders of Praeneste gave up. Marius committed suicide, while Carbo fled from Italy, and died soon afterwards. Pompey the Great was sent to deal with the Marians in Sicily and Africa, only leaving the forces of Sertorius in Spain.

Sulla's rule began badly, with the infamous proscriptions. A series of lists of his political opponents were posted in the Forum, and it was legal to kill anyone who was on the list. Several of his allies, most notoriously Crassus, used the proscriptions to become rich, getting the names of innocent but wealthy men added to the lists. Eventually Sulla ended the bloodbath, but it was a permanent stain on his reputation.

Next came his constitutional reforms. Sulla believed that the popular assemblies and the Tribunes of the Plebs were largely responsible for political instability in Rome (rather ignoring the role of ambitious aristocrats such as himself). First he made himself 'Dictator for the Reconstitution of the State', giving his actions a veneer of legality based on ancient precedent. He eliminated the powers of the Tribunes to veto or put forward laws, and barred anyone who had served as tribune from holding any further offices, in an attempt to make the post less attractive. The popular assemblies were only allowed to vote on laws that the Senate had already approved. The career structure for Roman aristocrats was more firmly controlled. Each post would have to be held in turn, from quaestor to praetor to consul, and age limits were imposed - 30 for quaestor, 42 for consul. The number of quaestors was increased to twenty, and they were given automatic entry into the Senate, reducing the power of the censors. The number of normal praetors was increased to eight. Nobody could hold the same post twice within ten years. The aim was to produce a stable system dominated by the aristocracy, but Sulla failed to address the biggest problem that would be faced by the Republic over the next few years - the power of the army. After setting up his new constitution Sulla stood down as dictator, and returned to private life. His constitution didn't last terribly long after his death in 78 BC.

The period between the death of Sulla and the outbreak of the Great Civil War saw some of the most famous names in Roman history come to the fore. Julius Caesar is of course the most famous of them, but at the start of the period he was a fairly junior name. The two leading figures were Pompey the Great, who first gained fame by raising a private army to help Sulla during his second civil war, and the famously wealthy Crassus, who mainly used his influence behind the scenes, taking advantage of his financial power over many of his fellow Romans. Only slightly below them in influence was Cato the Younger, an uncompromising conservative whose single minded defence of what he believed was the status-quo probably played a major part in the fall of the Republic by backing his opponents into increasingly difficult positions. The orator, lawyer and politician Cicero was less influential than he believed, but his writings provide an invaluable view of the period, and he did serve as Consul. A confusingly large cast of aristocratic figures filled out the political scene, often changing sides with bewildering speed.

The first challenge to Sulla&rsquos constitution began almost as soon as he gave up power. The consuls for 78 BC were Q. Catulus, a supporter of Sulla and M. Lepidus, one of his noisiest opponents. Lepidus began to campaign for the repeal of some of Sulla&rsquos laws almost as soon as his term of office began, possibly even while Sulla was still alive. The two consuls clashed openly after they were sent to put down a revolt in Etruria, where Lepidus decided to side with the rebels. The Senate was unwilling to stand up to him and risk another civil war, and instead gave him the province of Transalpine Gaul in an attempt to get him out of Rome. However they then summoned him to Rome to hold the elections for 77 BC, but Lepidus chose to march on the city at the head of the Etrurian rebels and demand a second term as Consul.

After wavering for a moment, the Senate regained its nerve and commissioned Catulus and Pompey to put down Lepidus&rsquos revolt. Lepidus reached Rome, where he was defeated by Catulus and Pompey near the Mulvian Bridge and the Janiculum. Catulus pursued Lepidus as he retreated to Etruria, while Pompey moved further north and besieged Lepidus&rsquos legate M. Brutus at Mutina. Mutina soon fell, and Brutus was killed (rather controversially). Pompey pursued his defeated forces to Liguria, where he captured and killed Lepidus&rsquos son Scipio. Pompey then joined Catulus in time to take part in the final battle of the brief civil war at Cosa in Etruria. Lepidus fled to Sardinia where he soon died. His surviving supporters fled to Spain under the command of Perperna, where they soon joined Sertorius, the last of Sulla&rsquos opponents still in arms against his new constitution.

With civil war averted, Pompey was ordered to disband his army, but much to the Senate&rsquos alarm he refused. Luckily for them, Pompey had no interest in seizing power. Instead he wanted to be sent to Spain, where Sertorius had won a series of victories over Senatorial armies, and was currently holding his own against Metellus Pius. Neither of the consuls for 77 BC were willing to go to Spain, and eventually the Senate gave in and sent Pompey. Once in Spain he worked fairly well with Metellus Pius, and by 72 BC Sertorius had been killed and the Sertorian War was over.

Over the next few years Roman domestic politics were dominated by attempts to restore the power of the Tribunes, greatly reduced by Sulla. However this was overshadowed in 73 BC by the outbreak of Spartacus&rsquos revolt. This began with the escape of a band of gladiators led by Spartacus from a school in Capua, but soon expanded into a full-blown revolt. Spartacus ended up with a massive army, with which he was able to roam up and down the Italian peninsula seemingly at will, defeating every army that was sent against him. Eventually the command was taken away from the Consuls and given to Crassus, who raised a massive army of his own, and trapped Spartacus in the far south of Italy. An attempt to escape to Sicily failed, and Spartacus was finally defeated by Crassus during his third attempt to escape from the far south. Much to Crassus&rsquos annoyance, Pompey had just been recalled to Italy and defeated 5,000 fleeing rebels, allowing him to claim a part in the defeat of the revolt.

In the aftermath of the revolt Pompey gained a third Triumph, for his victories in Spain, but Crassus had to make do with an Ovation, as crushing a slave revolt didn&rsquot justify a full triumph. A more significant reward was that the two men were elected as the consuls for 70 BC. They cooperated to restore the powers of the tribunes, but otherwise spent most of their year in power opposing each other. The two men staged a public reconciliation at the end of their year of office, but it isn&rsquot clear how genuine it was.

Pompey wasn&rsquot a terribly effective politician in normal times, and rather faded into the background between periods of crisis. On this occasion it was the growing threat of the Mediterranean&rsquos fleets of pirates that brought him back into the limelight. Many of the naval powers that had kept the pirates under control had been weakened by Rome, and they even threatened the Italian coast. After a series of ineffective attempts to deal with the problem, in 67 BC Pompey was given the command of the campaign against the pirates, with sweeping powers. He was given proconsular powers across the Mediterranean, and as far as fifty miles inland, with power equal to any proconsul in the area.

Pompey&rsquos campaign against the pirates was one of his most impressive achievements. He raised a massive fleet, which he divided into separate divisions that each patrolled part of the sea. Pompey himself took his main fleet to Cilicia to deal with the main pirate bases. The campaign only took three months, and by the end of the summer of 67 BC the pirates had been defeated.

Pompey&rsquos next command was against Mithridates, who had been at war with Rome since 73 BC (Third Mithridatic War). Lucullus, the Roman commander during most of the war, successfully expelled Mithridates from his kingdom of Pontus then chased him into Armenia, where he inflicted a series of defeats on the Armenians of Tigranes the Great. However he was unable to actually complete his victory, and in 67 BC Mithridates defeated the Roman forces that had been left behind in Pontus at the battle of Nicopolis and briefly regained command of his kingdom. By this time Lucullus had lost much of his political support in Rome, and in 66 BC Pompey was given command of the war. Once again Pompey moved quickly, and by the end of the year Mithridates had been defeated and forced to flee into exile. In 65 BC he reached Crimea, where he seized power from his disloyal son Machares, and began to plot for his return. However this time he was unable to keep hold of power, and was eventually forced to commit suicide after his son rebelled against him.

Over the next few years Pompey reorganised large parts of the East. He stripped away Tigranes&rsquos conquests, and claimed authority over Syria, where the last remnants of the once-mighty Seleucid Empire were swept away without any difficulties. Pompey finally returned to Rome in 62 BC, coming back as a conquering hero who had defeated one of her most persistent enemies, and gained vast new provinces for her. Unfortunately for Rome, many of the more conservative figures in the Senate distrusted Pompey because of his success, because of the irregular nature of his career, and because he wasn&rsquot &lsquoone of them&rsquo. Their unwillingness to compromise with Pompey and their persistent attempts to block his proposals would soon force him into an unexpected alliance with Crassus and Caesar.

Pompey returned to Italy towards the end of 62 BC. Many of the Senate&rsquos conservatives had feared that he would march on Rome with his army and seize power, but instead he disbanded his troops as soon as he landed, and made a peaceful progress towards Rome. He then stopped at his villa in Alba where he waited to celebrate his triumph). Pompey managed to get one of his supporters, M. Piso, elected as one of the consuls for 61 BC, but he turned out to be a great disappointment. Instead of focusing on getting Pompey&rsquos settlement of the east and land settlement for this troops approved, Piso focused on his own feud with his fellow consul M. Messalla.

Pompey eventually gave up on Piso, and managed to get another of his supporters, L. Afranius, elected as one of the consuls for 60 BC. This electoral success was probably helped by the celebration of Pompey&rsquos magnificent two-day long triumph in September 61 BC, which will have reminded the Roman people of the vast increase in wealth he had won for them. An attempt to pass a land bill in 60 BC ended in farce, with the other consul, Metellus Celer, conducting official business from prison. In the end the bill failed.

Events were now rushing towards the formation of the first triumvirate, although until the very last moment the idea that Pompey and Crassus might cooperate in such a way seemed impossible. The catalyst for this transformation of the political scene was Julius Caesar. He had just won a small war in western Spain, and had been awarded a triumph. He was also determined to stand for election as one of the consuls for 59 BC. Caesar was another of the people that Cato the Younger was bitterly opposed to. In an attempt to stop him standing for consul, Cato convinced the Senate to refuse to all Caesar to declare his candidacy without crossing the sacred boundary of Rome. Caesar was now faced with a clear choice - stay outside the boundary, celebrate his triumph but lose the chance to stand for Consul, or cross the boundary, stand for consul but lose his triumph. Caesar chose the second option, entered the city, and stood for election. Cato and his faction attempted to reduce the potential damage by suggesting that instead of being giving overseas provinces to rule, the consuls of 59 BC should be given the task of clearing the brigands out of Italy. Finally the conservatives spend large amounts of money to make sure that Cato&rsquos son-in-law M. Calpurnius Bibulus was elected at Caesar&rsquos co-consul, in an attempt to make sure that Caesar would be unable to achieve anything during his year in power.

While all of this political manoeuvring was going on, Caesar approached Pompey and Crassus to try and gain their support. Both men had found their own political ambitions blocked by the same group of aristocratic senators who now opposed Caesar. At some point they came to an agreement to support each other&rsquos laws and requirements in the following year.

At first Caesar attempted to win over the optimates, acting in an apparently reasonable way. He put forward a new land bill, but attempted to remove those aspects that the conservatives had complained about in previous laws. The new land bill would be administered by a board of twenty men, and Caesar was banned from taking part. All land required would be purchased from willing sellers at its official value, using money won by Pompey. Despite all of his best efforts, his opponents still opposed the law, some because it had been proposed by Caesar and would thus win him popularity. Cato opposed it largely because it was an innovation, and others because Cato had opposed it. Caesar attempted to have Cato thrown into prison for obstructing the law, but had to back down. Finally, Caesar brought the law before the popular assemblies. Once again Bibulus refused to allow it to pass. Caesar called on Pompey, who unsurprisingly supported it. He then called on Crassus, who might well have been expected to oppose it, but apparently to most people&rsquos surprise Crassus publicly supported the bill, finally bringing the triumvirate into the open. On the day of the vote Bibulus attempted to use technical measures to make the vote invalid, while Cato attempted to protest against it, but they were removed by violence and the law passed. On the following day Bibulus was unable to get the senate to veto the law. After this failure Bibulus retired to his house, from where he attempted to declare bad auspices for every possible day on which public business could be carried out, but without any great impact. Caesar was effectively left to act as the sole consul for the year.

For the rest of the year Caesar ruled through the popular assembly. Pompey&rsquos eastern settlement was finally approved, while Crassus got the financial measures he had requested. The alliance between Caesar and Pompey was strengthened by the marriage of Pompey to Caesar&rsquos daughter Julia. A new, more radical land law was passed. Finally the previous distribution of the provinces was cancelled, and Caesar was granted Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum for five years, with three legions. The Senate, on this occasion led by Pompey, added Transalpine Gaul and a fourth legion, in the hope that this would keep Caesar further away from Rome.

By the end of the year the triumvirs had got most of what they had wanted, but at great cost. Pompey had his eastern settlement and his land law, although had lost much of his popularity. Caesar had his year as consul and his command in Gaul, but had made permanent enemies in the Senate, who spent the entire time he was in Gaul preparing to bring him down on his return.

In 58 Caesar finally departed for Gaul, where he soon became involved in the famous Gallic War, using his provincial posting to launch one of the great wars of conquest of the Roman Republic. While he was away the politics of Rome remained as poisonous as ever. In 58 BC the main destabilising factor was the tribune Clodius, officially a supporter of Caesar, but in reality an immoral figure. During his time in office he forced Cicero into exile, using the events of Cicero&rsquos year at consul against him. However he was also a fairly skilful political operator. Clodius&rsquos election as Tribune was only legitimate if Caesar&rsquos laws from 59 BC were legitimate, as it had been Caesar who had allowed him to become a plebeian. The conservative opposition had attempted to have them declared illegal, but in 58 BC Cato agreed to accept a post as commissioner to take over the kingdom of Cyprus, which was to be taken over by Rome. By accepting this post, which he believed was in the best interests of Rome, Cato had effectively admitted that Caesar&rsquos acts of 59 BC were legal. However Clodius then turned against his patrons. He freed Tigranes, the son of the king of Armenia, a move that humiliated Pompey. The consul Gabinius protested and was attacked. Clodius then turned on Caesar, attacking the validity of his acts at consul!

In 57 BC Clodius was no longer tribune, but he was still popular and influential, and a member of the senate. The year was largely dominated by attempts to recall Cicero, and by a grain shortage, probably caused by the incompetence of the man Clodius had placed in charge of the grain commission. Clodius&rsquos actions in 58 BC had turned Pompey against him, and he campaigned in Italy in support of Cicero. Enough Italian voters came to Rome in the summer to ensure that Cicero was recalled. Cicero reached Rome in September, and was present when Pompey was given command of the grain supplies. This time he struggled to make an immediate impact, as there was a genuine shortage of grain at the time.

By 56 BC the triumvirate appeared to be in trouble. Pompey and Crassus were once again open rivals, and Caesar&rsquos enemies were gathering against him. Caesar appears to have taken the lead in restoring the alliance. In the spring he visited Crassus at Ravenna and Pompey at Luca and suggested that they should stand for the consulate in 55 BC. He would send some of his soldiers to support their candidacy. Cicero abandoned his opposition to Caesar, and Clodius fell into line, at least for the moment. The elections were held early in 55 BC, and as planned Pompey and Crassus were duly elected. They quickly dealt with their provinces for the following years. Crassus was given Syria and Pompey Spain, both for five years, while Caesar&rsquos command was extended for five years.

Collapse of the Triumvirate

The triumvirate had reached the peak of its success, and events now forced the three men apart. In 54 Crassus left for Syria, suddenly determined to revive his military reputation by conquering Parthia. Caesar was still in Gaul, so this only left Pompey in Rome. His bonds with Caesar were weakened when his wife Julia died, breaking the family connection between the two men. One of the consuls for the year was Ahenobarbus, one of the men Pompey and Crassus had stood to keep out of office in the first place, while Cato was elected at praetor. They attempted to undermine the triumvirs, but were unable to compete with the glamour of Caesar&rsquos military successes and Cicero&rsquos speeches. Their moral authority was also badly undermined when they accepted bribes from one of the consular candidates for 53 BC.

The first really serious blow came in 53 BC. Crassus finally began his invasion of Parthia, only to be defeated and killed at Carrhae. The year also began without any consuls in place, and a prolonged and violent rivalry between Clodius and Milo, both of whom raised private armies. Pompey eventually returned to the city and held the elections in the summer, by which time most people&rsquos attention had turned to the elections for 52 BC. Clodius decided to stand, and once again violence on the streets prevented the elections from happening as normal.

The rioting continued in 52 BC. Early in the year Clodius and Milo ran into each other near Bovillae outside Rome, and Clodius was killed after taking refuge in a nearby tavern. Clodius&rsquos funeral pyre was built inside the senate house, and the entire building burnt down. In response the Senate asked Pompey to restore order. Some suggested that he should be made dictator, but instead he was made sole consul. Pompey used this call to switch his support to the conservative faction. L. Domitius Ahenobarbus was put in charge of an investigation into the bribery and violence of recent months. Pompey turned down an offer to marry Caesar&rsquos great-niece and instead chose to marry Crassus&rsquos son&rsquos widow Cornelia, the daughter of Q. Metellus Scipio, an important member of the aristocratic faction. Pompey was also able to quickly restore order, and make sure that the elections for 51 BC went more smoothly.

The consuls for 51 BC were M Marcellus, an orator who had been opposed to Caesar, and Ser. Sulpicius Rufus, reputedly an honest man. Marcellus announced that he would raise the issue of replacing Caesar in Gaul, making him vulnerable to prosecution. Sulpicius opposed the plan, fearing that it would trigger another civil war. The debate on Gaul eventually took place in September 51 BC, and it was agreed that new governors would be allocated in the spring of 50 BC. Caesar would thus lose his army and his immunity months before the consular elections for 49 BC, leaving him vulnerable to prosecution. Pompey supported this measure.

The consuls for 50 BC were C. Marcellus, a cousin of M. Marcellus, and L Aemilius Paullus. Marcellus was related to Caesar by marriage and Paullus owned him a favour after Caesar lent him 1,500 talents to help complete the rebuilding of the basilica in the Roman Forum. One of the tribunes was Curio, one of Caesar&rsquos opponents during his year as consul, but soon to turn out to have changed sides. When the date allocated for the discussion of the new governor for Gaul, Curio made sure that it was delayed. Pompey suggested that Caesar should give up his command on the Ides of November, 46 days before the start of the next consular year. This would still have left him vulnerable to prosecution. Pompey now had an army of his own, ready to lead it east to deal with the Parthians, but late in the year they withdrew from Syria to deal with a civil war. Caesar was at Ravenna, still within his province, but dangerously close to Rome. However most of his army was still in Gaul, and the Senate believed that it had the stronger military position.

The final crisis began with an attack on Curio in the senate. He responded by proposing that both Caesar and Pompey should give up their commands, although he didn&rsquot specify when (he was still Caesar&rsquos man). The motion passed by 370 votes to 22. The consul C. Marcellus believed that this vote meant it was inevitable that Caesar would bring his legions to Rome, and went to Pompey to ask him to take command of the two legions ready for the Parthian War and defend the Republic. Pompey agreed to do so, &lsquoif all else fails&rsquo.

On 10 December Curio&rsquos period of office ended, and he departed to join Caesar at Ravenna. He was then chosen to bring Caesar&rsquos peace offer to the Senate. Caesar suggested that both he and Pompey should lay down their commands, and submit to the judgement of the Roman people. If Pompey didn&rsquot agree then Caesar threatened to &lsquocome quickly and avenge his country&rsquos wrongs and his own&rsquo. The Senate refused to debate this suggestion. Instead Metellus Scipio put forward a proposal that if Caesar didn&rsquot disband his armies by a fixed date then he would be declared an enemy of the state. The motion was passed, but vetoed by two of the tribunes.

One final compromise was suggested. Caesar would give up almost all of his provinces, but keep at least Illyricum and one legion until the start of his second consulship. Pompey was willing to go along with this plan, but Cato and the other conservatives blocked it. On 7 January they passed an emergency degree that the officers of the government should see that the Republic suffers no harm. Caesar&rsquos two supporters amongst the Tribunes, Antony and Cassius, were told that their safety could no longer be guaranteed. They decided to seek refuge with Caesar, joined by Curio and Caelius. When the exiled tribunes reached Caesar, he finally decided to break with the Senate and march on Rome, feeling that he had been given no choice.

The Outbreak of War

On 10 January 49 BC (by the Roman calendar, which at the time was some way out of sync with the seasons) Caesar led his single legion (Legio XIII Gemina) across the Rubicon, the river that marked the north-eastern boundary of Italy proper. By doing this he broke the law that stated that only a current magistrate could exercise Imperium, the right to command troops, in Italy. Caesar, as a proconsul and governor of Gaul, had the right to command troops within his province. Caesar recognised that he was taking a massive gamble, and was famously believed to have said 'let the die be cast',

The collapse of the Republican institutions was clearly demonstrated by the response to Caesar's invasion. It should have been the two consuls for the year, Lentulus and C. Marcellus, who led the Republican response, but instead that task was given to Pompey the Great. Caesar moved too quickly for the Republicans. He split his army in two. Antony was sent inland to Arretium, on the Via Cassia, while Caesar moved down the Adriatic coast to Ancona, on the Via Flaminia. Caesar's rapid movement caused a panic in Rome. On 17 January the news that he was already at Ancona reached the city, and Pompey decided to Rome. He ordered the consuls and senate to move south to Campania. In the meantime Caesar occupied Picenum, the area opposite Rome on the Adriatic coast.

The first resistance came at Corfinium, a crossroads town to the east of Rome. The newly appointed proconsul for Transalpine Gaul, Domitius Ahenobarbus, didn&rsquot see himself as bound to obey Pompey, who he saw as simply another proconsul. He raised an army equivalent to three legions, and attempted to defend the town. When Caesar's men turned up, Ahenobarbus's troops refused to fight and forced him to surrender. Caesar showed the clemency for which he would soon become famous, and allowed all the prisoners of senatorial or equestrian rank to go free. Ahenobarbus' troops were taken into Caesar's service, and then sent to Sicily.

Pompey had no intention of fighting in Italy. He only had access to two legions, both of which had served under Caesar and were thus of doubtful loyalty. As Caesar's army moved south, Pompey and the consuls moved to Brundisium, close to the eastern tip of Italy. On 4 March the consuls set sail for Epirus. Caesar arrived a few days later with three veteran and three new legions. He attempted to trap Pompey in Brundisium, but on 17 March Pompey managed to slip past Caesar's planned blockade, heading for Epirus.

In just over two months Caesar had forced his enemies to abandon Italy, and with it Rome. This was an impressive achievement, although his enemies still occupied large parts of the Empire - Pompey's men ruled in Spain, while the main Republican forces were now in the east. Pompey's decision not to at least attempt to defend Rome was almost certainly a mistake, abandoning the heart of the Republic to Caesar.

After failing to trap Pompey at Brundisium Caesar returned to Rome. He stayed there for two not entirely successful weeks. His attempts to at least appear to be acting legitimately were spoilt by L. Metellus, one of the tribune of the plebs, who used his right of veto to block all of Caesar's proposals. Caesar had to cross over the pomoerium, the sacred boundary of Rome, to threaten Metellus and seize the money in the treasury. This was another breach of Roman tradition, as any proconsul who crossed the pomoerium was considered to have lost his imperium, and with it his command.

Spain (49 BC)

Caesar's next move was to march to Spain to deal with Pompey's supporters in that area. On his way he faced opposition at Massilia, which decided to side with Pompey and the Republicans. The resulting siege of Massilia actually lasted longer than Caesar's campaign in Spain, and the city only surrendered when Caesar reappeared on his way back to Italy. Caesar couldn't afford to stop and conduct the siege in person. He left Decimus Brutus to conduct the siege (winning two naval battles outside Massilia in the process), and continued on to Spain.

Spain was the location of one of Pompey's earliest military successes, the defeat of the Roman rebel Sertorius (Sertorian War), and Spain had been his proconsular province for some years. He had three armies in Spain - L. Afranius and M. Petreius were in Hispania Citerior (eastern Spain), the scholar M. Varro was in Hispania Ulterior (southern Spain). Varro remained in his province, while Afranius and Petreius united their forces in Citerior. Caesar's forces were easily able to cross the Pyrenes, but a standoff soon developed at the town of Ilerda. For a time Caesar suffered from a lack of supplies, but eventually he had the best of the fighting, and in the summer Afranius and Petreius asked for surrender terms. Once again Caesar was generous. The two commanders were allowed to leave (going to join Pompey) and their army was dissolved. Caesar them moved against Varro, but his army also collapsed as Caesar approached, and Varro was forced to surrender.

Elsewhere things didn't go quite as well for Caesar. One of his supporters, G. Scribonius Curio, expelled Cato from Sicily, and then invaded Africa, which was held by Attius Varus. Curio won an initial battle at Utica, and then besieged the city, but he was then defeated and killed by King Juba of Numidia at the battle of the Bagradas River (24 July 49 BC). The province of Africa remained in Republican hands until the final battle of the war.

In the autumn of 49 BC Caesar returned to Rome, forcing the surrender of Massilia on the way. His main task at Rome was to make sure that he was elected as one of the Consuls for 48 C. His first problem was that only the existing consuls could run the election, and they were with Pompey in Greece. M. Lepidus found a solution. Caesar was made dictator for a few days, and conducted the elections himself. Unsurprising he was elected, alongside P. Servilius Isauricus. Caesar then restored the rights of the sons of the victims of Sulla's proscriptions, and recalled a number of people who had been condemned by Pompey. He also attempted to deal with a debt crisis, before after eleven days leaving for Brundisium to resume the war against Pompey.

Pompey and Greece, 49-48 BC

While Caesar had been campaigning in Spain, the senate in exile had moved to Thessalonica. Pompey focused on raising as large an army as possible. Two legions were raised by Lentulus Crus in Asia, and two were coming from Syria under Metellus Scipio. More troops were provided by Rome's client kings in the east, many of whom owed their position to Pompey. Pompey also had a powerful fleet, under Bibulus, Caesar's co-consul and rival in 59 BC. Pompey's troops were able to capture Curicta in Illyria, which was being held by Caesar's men, but were repulsed at Salonae.

Despite Bibulus's best efforts, Caesar managed to cross to Greece with seven legions, but the rest of his army, under Mark Antony, was trapped at Brundisium. Only after the death of Bibulus of natural causes early in 48 BC was Antony able to cross over to Illyria to join Caesar, but his fleet was swept past Caesar and Pompey, and had to land on the far side of Pompey's men. The two armies then became involved in a 'race to the sea' around Dyrrhachium, Pompey attempting to secure as large an area as possible. The two sides then settled down into the siege of Dyrrhachium (March-May 48 BC). This ended in a rare setback for Caesar. Pompey made two attempts to break through the siege lines, the second of which was successful enough to force Caesar to lift the siege (battle of Dyrrhachium, 20 May 48 BC).

Caesar's next move was to head east across Greece, to support his legate Domitius Calvinus, who was threatened by Metellus Scipio's legions coming from Syria. Pompey had two choices - he could have taken the chance to return to Italy and attempt to regain Rome, or he could follow Caesar. He decided not to risk taking the war back to Italy, and followed Caesar.

Caesar and Calvinus soon met up, and then headed east into Thessaly. On the way they quickly besieged Gomphi, on the western border of Thessaly, where their troops sacked the town. The other towns in Thessaly opened their gates to Caesar.

Pompey now came under pressure from the optimates, his more conservative supporters, who didn&rsquot entirely trust him. Pompey was aware that Caesar was still in a difficult position in Greece, and would have preferred to wear him down, but instead he was forced to offer battle. The resulting battle of Pharsalus (9 August 48 BC) effectively ended any realistic chance of a Republican victory in the civil war. Despite being outnumbered Caesar won a major victory. Pompey escaped, but Domitius Ahenobarbus was killed in the battle. In the aftermath of the battle Caesar burned Pompey's correspondence and offered to pardon anyone who asked his forgiveness. Amongst those who chose to chance sides was M. Brutus, later to be one of his assassins. Cicero also decided to give up, and returned to Italy, where he was delayed at Brundisium for some time.

The few remaining Republican leaders fled to North Africa. Cato and Pompey's sons went to Cyrenaica, just to the west of Egypt, where they hoped to meet up with Pompey. Pompey himself went to Lesbos, where he joined his wife and then decided to head for Egypt, where he expected to be supported by the young king Ptolemy XIII. Instead he was murdered on the orders of the young king's advisors as he landed on the Egyptian shore.

Three days later, on 2 October 48 BC, Caesar arrived in Egypt, at the start of a fateful stay. He arrived in the middle of a vicious dispute between the co-rulers, the 21-year old Cleopatra VII Philopater and her younger brother-husband Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator (the Ptolomies had adopted the Egyptian custom of marriage within the Royal family). Caesar moved into the Royal palace and announced that he was going to arbitrate in the civil war. At first he shared the palace with Ptolemy, while Cleopatra was denied access to him. Famously she gained access to Caesar by hiding inside a rolled up carpet, which was presented to him.

Caesar was won over by the dramatic gesture, and sided with Cleopatra (nine months later their son Caesarion was born). Ptolomy was furious, and stormed out of the palace. Caesar's two under-strength legions were soon besieged by Ptolomy's larger army, supported by the populace of Alexandria, then the most impressive city in the world. The siege of Alexandria dragged on until March 47 BC, when reinforcements finally reached Egypt. This was an Allied army led by Mithridates of Pergamum. The combined Roman forces were able to defeat the besieging forces (battle of the Nile). Ptolomy was drowned during the battle.

Caesar probably stayed in Egypt for another couple of months after the battle, going on a river tour down the Nile with the by now heavily pregnant Cleopatra. Cleopatra was given another co-monarch, her even younger brother Ptolomy XIV, supported by three legions.

During the long siege of Alexandria the situation in the rest of the Roman Empire had turned against Caesar. Cato had moved west to the province of Africa, where he and the other surviving Republican leaders had managed to raise a powerful army. In Italy Mark Antony was making himself unpopular. After Pharsalus Caesar had been appointed dictator for a year, to cover 47 BC. Antony served as his deputy (master of the horse). He had to leave Rome to deal with a mutiny in Campania, and while he was away Dolabella, then one of the tribune of the plebs, began to campaign for debt relieve, causing disorder in Rome. Antony restored order violently, losing a great deal of his earlier popularity.

The most immediate problem was in Asia Minor. At the end of the Mithridatic Wars, Pharnaces, the son of Mithridates the Great had been left as rule of the Cimmerian Bosporus (the Crimea). He now decided to take advantage of the Roman Civil War to invade his father's old kingdom. He defeated Domitius Calvinus at Nicopolis, and briefly appeared to pose a threat to Roman authority.

Caesar quickly eliminated the threat. From Egypt he moved to Antioch and Syria, and then into Asia Minor. At Zela he easily defeated Pharnaces, leading him to make one of his most famous comments - Veni, Vidi, Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered). He would later use the ease of his victory over Pharnaces to undermine the significance of Pompey's victories over Mithridates.

After defeating Pharnaces, Caesar returned to Rome. He quickly dealt with the mutiny in Campania, partly by pointedly referring to the soldiers as citizens and not fellow soldiers. He dealt with the elections for 47 BC (rather late) and for 46 BC (rather early), and made himself Consul for 46 BC.

Africa, 46 BC

The Republicans now had a sizable force in Africa. Cato was its leading spirit, but the former consul Metellus Scipio was the official leader of the Republicans, and Labienus the main military figure. They also had access to Pompey's naval squadrons, and the support of King Juba. The Republicans were in contact with supporters in Spain, where Caesar's governor Q. Cassius had made himself almost universally unpopular.

Late in 48 BC Caesar prepared to depart for Africa. One attempt to delay him was made by a haruspex, one of Rome's diviners, who claimed that disaster would follow if Caesar left before the solstice. Caesar ignored this, and departed from Rome on 25 December, several weeks before the solstice on the then current calendar.

Caesar had a difficult arrival in Africa. He was soon attacked by a larger army under Labienus, in a costly drawn battle at Ruspina. Caesar was helped by Bocchus of Mauretania and P. Sittius, a Roman serving under Bocchus, who invaded Juba's kingdom. Caesar was also able to use propaganda, portraying his enemies as the tool of a barbarian king, to convince some of the Republicans to desert to him. Caesar then besieged the town of Thapsus. The Republicans attempted to lift the siege, but instead suffered a heavy defeat in the resulting battle of Thapsus.

After taking Thapsus, Caesar advanced towards the Republican base at Utica. Cato now realised that his cause was hopeless. After making sure that anyone who wanted to escape had got away, he committed suicide, denying Caesar the chance to pardon him. Metellus Scipio was intercepted while attempting to reach Spain and committed suicide. Juba committed suicide after the battle of Thapsus. However Labienus and Pompey's two sons escaped to Spain, where they managed to establish themselves.

Caesar spent a short time reorganising Africa. Juba's kingdom was split, with part going to Sittius and the Mauretanians, and the rest becoming a Roman province. Several prisoners, who had been pardoned but broken their word not to fight again were executed. He then returned to Rome.

Spain, 45 BC

Caesar was back in Rome by the end of July, at the start of his longest stay during the Civil War. Part of his time was spent preparing for the celebration of four triumphs in succession, to mark his victories in Gaul, Egypt, Pharnaces and Juba. Amongst the enemy leaders on display were Vercingetorix, Cleopatra's younger sister Arsineo and Juba's four year old son. Only Vercingetorix was executed after the triumph.

Towards the end of 46 BC Caesar left for Spain once again, taking one veteran legion with him. This time he was less forgiving. The rebels were treated as unforgivable enemies, and both sides committed atrocities. On one occasion Caesar's men lined their fortifications with the severed heads of their enemies.

Cn Pompeius, Pompey's elder son, caused Caesar some problems by refusing to risk a battle. However eventually he was force to fight, at Munda. This was one of Caesar's hardest fights, but he was able to motivate his men to fight on, and ended up winning a crushing victory. Labienus was killed during the battle, and Cn Pompeius a few days later. Sextus Pompeius managed to escape, and would later prove to be a thorn in the side of the Second Triumvirate, but the battle effectively ended the Great Civil War.

Caesar returned to Rome in October 45 BC. By now his political judgement appears to have been slipping. He celebrated another triumph, this time for his victory over fellow Romans. There were hints that he was considering making himself King, and he had himself appointed Dictator for Life. His actions began to worry many of his former supporters, as well as his pardoned enemies. On the Ides of March, 15 March 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated during a Senate Meeting, three days before he was due to leave for an invasion of Parthia.

The immediate result of the assassination was the renewed outbreak of Civil War. This fell into two clear stages. The first saw the Senate, supported by Caesar's heir Octavian, fight Mark Antony, Caesar's master of the horse. Although Antony was defeated, both of the consuls for the year were killed. In the aftermath of the fighting Octavian changed sides. Antony, Octavian and Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate, a much more formal arrangement than the First Triumvirate.

The second stage saw Octavian and Antony cross to Greece to attack the Liberators, Caesar's assassins who had been forced to flee from Italy after their actions didn't meet with the universal approval they appear to have expected. The two main Liberators, Crassus and Brutus, committed suicide after the First battle of Philippi and Second battle of Philippi respectively, leaving Octavian, Antony and Lepidus to split the Roman world between them.

The third stage saw Octavian and Antony clash for control of the entire Roman world. Eventually this rivaly erupted into open warfare. Octavian crossed to the Balkans and defeated Antony and Cleopatra's armies at the naval battle of Actium. Antony and Cleopatra fled to Egypt, where they eventually committed suicide to avoid falling into Octavian's hands. This gave Octavian undisputed control over the Roman world. He proved to be a far more skillful politician than Caesar, or indeed most of his rivals, and managed to set up a system in which he had the reality of power, while keeping the Senate on his side. He was rewarded with the title of Augustus, and became the first Roman Emperor.

Brutus - Caesar's Assassin, Kirsty Corrigan. A well balanced biography of Brutus, one of the more consistent defenders of the Roman Republic, and famously one of Caesar's assassins on the Ides of March. Paints a picture of a man of generally high moral standards (with some flaws in financial matters), but also an over-optimistic plotter, who failed to make any realistic plans for the aftermath of the assassination. Does a good job of tracing Brutus's fairly obscure early years, as well as distinguishing between later legends and historically likely events [read full review]

Mark Antony - A Plain Blunt Man, Paolo de Ruggiero . Nice to have a biography devoted to Mark Antony in his own right rather than as part of someone else's story, but be aware that the author is very biased in favour of Mark Antony and rather stretches the evidence to make his case. Readable and the author knows his sources, but would be better without the bias. [read full review]

Scholarly studies

The interest in studying ancient Rome arose presumably during the Age of Enlightenment in France. Charles Montesquieu wrote a work " Reflections on the Causes of the Grandeur and Declension of the Romans". The first major work was The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, which encompassed the period from the end of 2nd century to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. Like Montesquieu Gibbon paid high tribute to the virtue of Roman citizens. Barthold Georg Niebuhr was a founder of the criticism and wrote The Roman History, carried until the First Punic war. Niebuhr has made an attempt to determine the way the Roman tradition appeared. According to him, Romans, like other people, had a historical ethos which was preserved mainly in the noble families. During the Napoleonic period the work titled The History of Romans by Victor Duruy appeared. It highlighted the Caesarean period popular at the time. History of Rome, Roman constitutional law and Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, all by Theodor Mommsen, became very important milestones. Later the work Greatness and Decline of Rome by Guglielmo Ferrero was published. The Russian work Очерки по истории римского землевладения, преимущественно в эпоху Империи (The Outlines on Roman Landownership History, Mainly During the Empire) by Ivan Grevs contained information on the economy of Pomponius Atticus, one of the greatest landowners during the end of Republic.

Watch the video: Ρωμαίοι VS Ελλήνων: 5 συγκρούσεις που άλλαξαν την ιστορία Α μέρος (May 2022).