I feel Roman History again so question, just how bad was the Republic that lead to Caesar?

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Of all that I read from Roman History the impression I got from why the Roman Republic collapsed into the Empire was because of constant civil wars, and a corrupt/ineffective senate and this paved the way for Strong-man figures that hailed from Nobility and from the Military to assume power and bring order to the Chaos in the Republic.

But things, are not that simple I assume. So what exactly was going on in the Roman Republic that made it flounder, stagnate, and prone to chaos and civil wars that brought about the likes of Sulla, Caesar, and Octavian/Augustus and thus rendered Democracy dead for the next thousand years?

It simply became too big.

The measures that usually ensured that the army does protect the republic instead of being loyal to would be usurpers could not work with an army that could be deployed far from the city for a longer time.

And the methods of oversight of officials also became less effective with longer distance which means either releasing direct control using more intermediaries or accepting more corruption.

Democracy comes with bureaucratic overhead (not that the Roman Republic was that democratic anyway, but that is another discussion). A working democratic gouvernment over a huge area and population requires a technology level that was only reached in modern (meaning early modern) times.

Rome got too big, too fast for the system to cope with is a simple answer to that. The move to a professional army, rather than a citizen one is another good one.

Going a bit broader, look at the rest of the Mediterranean at the time. In Greece, Athens got democracy, the Persians were repelled, Athens gained an empire and lost it within about 200 years. The Greece squabbled amongst themselves for a bit, then Alexander found the cheat for god mode and conquered the known world. He then died, his generals took whatever they could and fought amongst themselves for the next few centuries. Rome defeated Carthage, and the successor kingdoms, and then Pompeius found the god mode cheat and then Caesar stole it from him and conquered Western Europe.

The Roman Republic proved not to be stable, but the same was true of everywhere anyone in Rome had heard of. Everywhere else had fallen apart at least once, or gotten conquered, admittedly often by the Romans. Chaos wasn't out of the ordinary.

Thaluikhain:
Rome got too big, too fast for the system to cope with is a simple answer to that. The move to a professional army, rather than a citizen one is another good one.

Going a bit broader, look at the rest of the Mediterranean at the time. In Greece, Athens got democracy, the Persians were repelled, Athens gained an empire and lost it within about 200 years. The Greece squabbled amongst themselves for a bit, then Alexander found the cheat for god mode and conquered the known world. He then died, his generals took whatever they could and fought amongst themselves for the next few centuries. Rome defeated Carthage, and the successor kingdoms, and then Pompeius found the god mode cheat and then Caesar stole it from him and conquered Western Europe.

The Roman Republic proved not to be stable, but the same was true of everywhere anyone in Rome had heard of. Everywhere else had fallen apart at least once, or gotten conquered, admittedly often by the Romans. Chaos wasn't out of the ordinary.

So what is the logic where having one person holding with absolute power over the whole empire can prevent this chaos when it ended up trading one bad thing for another potentially worse one?

Civil Strife vs Tyranny from a dictator.

Basically yes.

How does democracy work ? You have citizens voting. That is easy if you can gather all your citizens in one place with no one having to travel more than one hour and where you can see to it that everyone has one vote.

It is harder if you have months of travel time. And paper/patchment is expensive and many people illiterate. and you have problems with tampering with votes. And you have dozens of languages makiung debate difficult. Not that it matters too much as people live far enough from each other that can't have a nationwide debate anyway. Oh, you also don't have newspapers and stuff, news get spread around from mouth to mouth mostly including loss of accuracy.
And even if you can solve all that and people are willing to travel months to make sure democracy works, if your important desicions take that much time you will get additional problems. And we didn't even tough loyalty problems with the armies which always need to be controlled to prevent a coup or a secession.

The Roman Republic was pretty stable. It existed for quite some time. But there was no way to actually rule the Roman area the same way. So it was either become an empire or relinquish control and go back to a city state republic.

Throughout history you will find gouvernments and culture with democratic elements. But all the big empires are different for a reason. Until recently that is.

One aspect of Republican life that constantly haunted Rome was that the senators were heavily encouraged to have strong rivalries and deny their rivals or anyone else any achievements. This both left to problems remaining unsolved but it also made political conflict escalate into civil strife or even outright civil war. One example of the former would be the father of Marc Anthony. Anthony Senior was send to deal with the pirates not despite but BECAUSE he was likely to fail. The Senators actually didn't want the problem solved because that would involve a potential rival being able to get the credit of solving the piracy issue. The same motive can be found in the opposition in Caesars land bill. Ceasars bill was a quality piece of legislation in an area that needed reform but Caesar fixing something would make him more popular which his enemies considered a bigger problem.

The clashing of strong personalities eventually became so problematic that it led to war. The chief reasons for Caesar's and Sulla's civil wars was the intensive hatred between them and their rivals, Cato and Marius respectively.

These two problems let to sacred precedents being broken which just opened up the way for others to emulate previous bad practices. The attempt to deny the Grachi brothers their achievements led to a lynching that ensured violence would be more common from then on out and Sulla marching on Rome was an example for Pompey and Caesar to follow.

That troops were willing to join adventurous commanders in assaulting Rome was because of the Marian reforms. This reform gave Roman soldiers the potential for much higher rewards but the Senate had a habit of taking those rewards for themselves. This tied the soldiers very firmly to their commanders who were required to be their champion and force the Senate to grant them their rightful rewards.

For me the chief reason the Republic fell was the incompetence of the Senate. Their encouraged civil strife, they looked away from solving problems to avoid someone getting credit for solving them and they kept setting bad precedents that would make the next adventurer even more successful than the last. As such I don't consider the emperors reigning those nitwits in to have been a particularly big loss.

Hades:
One aspect of Republican life that constantly haunted Rome was that the senators were heavily encouraged to have strong rivalries and deny their rivals or anyone else any achievements. This both left to problems remaining unsolved but it also made political conflict escalate into civil strife or even outright civil war. One example of the former would be the father of Marc Anthony. Anthony Senior was send to deal with the pirates not despite but BECAUSE he was likely to fail. The Senators actually didn't want the problem solved because that would involve a potential rival being able to get the credit of solving the piracy issue. The same motive can be found in the opposition in Caesars land bill. Ceasars bill was a quality piece of legislation in an area that needed reform but Caesar fixing something would make him more popular which his enemies considered a bigger problem.

The clashing of strong personalities eventually became so problematic that it led to war. The chief reasons for Caesar's and Sulla's civil wars was the intensive hatred between them and their rivals, Cato and Marius respectively.

These two problems let to sacred precedents being broken which just opened up the way for others to emulate previous bad practices. The attempt to deny the Grachi brothers their achievements led to a lynching that ensured violence would be more common from then on out and Sulla marching on Rome was an example for Pompey and Caesar to follow.

That troops were willing to join adventurous commanders in assaulting Rome was because of the Marian reforms. This reform gave Roman soldiers the potential for much higher rewards but the Senate had a habit of taking those rewards for themselves. This tied the soldiers very firmly to their commanders who were required to be their champion and force the Senate to grant them their rightful rewards.

For me the chief reason the Republic fell was the incompetence of the Senate. Their encouraged civil strife, they looked away from solving problems to avoid someone getting credit for solving them and they kept setting bad precedents that would make the next adventurer even more successful than the last. As such I don't consider the emperors reigning those nitwits in to have been a particularly big loss.

Sometimes I wonder if Rome as a civilization was always meant to be doomed to collapse. Especially since the Empire proper wasn't any better really.

We essentially traded horribly incompetent and corrupt senate in exchange for Caligula, Nero, and Commodus.

Samtemdo8:

Hades:
One aspect of Republican life that constantly haunted Rome was that the senators were heavily encouraged to have strong rivalries and deny their rivals or anyone else any achievements. This both left to problems remaining unsolved but it also made political conflict escalate into civil strife or even outright civil war. One example of the former would be the father of Marc Anthony. Anthony Senior was send to deal with the pirates not despite but BECAUSE he was likely to fail. The Senators actually didn't want the problem solved because that would involve a potential rival being able to get the credit of solving the piracy issue. The same motive can be found in the opposition in Caesars land bill. Ceasars bill was a quality piece of legislation in an area that needed reform but Caesar fixing something would make him more popular which his enemies considered a bigger problem.

The clashing of strong personalities eventually became so problematic that it led to war. The chief reasons for Caesar's and Sulla's civil wars was the intensive hatred between them and their rivals, Cato and Marius respectively.

These two problems let to sacred precedents being broken which just opened up the way for others to emulate previous bad practices. The attempt to deny the Grachi brothers their achievements led to a lynching that ensured violence would be more common from then on out and Sulla marching on Rome was an example for Pompey and Caesar to follow.

That troops were willing to join adventurous commanders in assaulting Rome was because of the Marian reforms. This reform gave Roman soldiers the potential for much higher rewards but the Senate had a habit of taking those rewards for themselves. This tied the soldiers very firmly to their commanders who were required to be their champion and force the Senate to grant them their rightful rewards.

For me the chief reason the Republic fell was the incompetence of the Senate. Their encouraged civil strife, they looked away from solving problems to avoid someone getting credit for solving them and they kept setting bad precedents that would make the next adventurer even more successful than the last. As such I don't consider the emperors reigning those nitwits in to have been a particularly big loss.

Sometimes I wonder if Rome as a civilization was always meant to be doomed to collapse. Especially since the Empire proper wasn't any better really.

We essentially traded horribly incompetent and corrupt senate in exchange for Caligula, Nero, and Commodus.

Every civilization is doomed to collapse. It should be noted that the Roman empire lasted an incredibly long time and that they even outlived their Chinese peers of the Han Dynasty by centuries though unlike China the Roman Empire couldn't restore itself.

You mention Caligula, Nero and Commodus but those are the extreme outliers. Name one and most Roman historians have an easy time naming a great empire like Hadrian or Augustus in return. There are even some ''bad'' emperors like Tiberius and Domitian who are re examined as terrible people but competent, perhaps even great rulers And its worth noting that Caligula and Nero reigned during the golden era of the Roman empire. That the imperial system survived the reign of those two incompetent monarchs by centuries just shows how strong the system really was. They reigned as nitwits but after their reign was over the damage was fairly limited. Rome was still the dominant power in the western world, the system they represented survived them and more capable men took their place.

Hades:

Samtemdo8:

Hades:
One aspect of Republican life that constantly haunted Rome was that the senators were heavily encouraged to have strong rivalries and deny their rivals or anyone else any achievements. This both left to problems remaining unsolved but it also made political conflict escalate into civil strife or even outright civil war. One example of the former would be the father of Marc Anthony. Anthony Senior was send to deal with the pirates not despite but BECAUSE he was likely to fail. The Senators actually didn't want the problem solved because that would involve a potential rival being able to get the credit of solving the piracy issue. The same motive can be found in the opposition in Caesars land bill. Ceasars bill was a quality piece of legislation in an area that needed reform but Caesar fixing something would make him more popular which his enemies considered a bigger problem.

The clashing of strong personalities eventually became so problematic that it led to war. The chief reasons for Caesar's and Sulla's civil wars was the intensive hatred between them and their rivals, Cato and Marius respectively.

These two problems let to sacred precedents being broken which just opened up the way for others to emulate previous bad practices. The attempt to deny the Grachi brothers their achievements led to a lynching that ensured violence would be more common from then on out and Sulla marching on Rome was an example for Pompey and Caesar to follow.

That troops were willing to join adventurous commanders in assaulting Rome was because of the Marian reforms. This reform gave Roman soldiers the potential for much higher rewards but the Senate had a habit of taking those rewards for themselves. This tied the soldiers very firmly to their commanders who were required to be their champion and force the Senate to grant them their rightful rewards.

For me the chief reason the Republic fell was the incompetence of the Senate. Their encouraged civil strife, they looked away from solving problems to avoid someone getting credit for solving them and they kept setting bad precedents that would make the next adventurer even more successful than the last. As such I don't consider the emperors reigning those nitwits in to have been a particularly big loss.

Sometimes I wonder if Rome as a civilization was always meant to be doomed to collapse. Especially since the Empire proper wasn't any better really.

We essentially traded horribly incompetent and corrupt senate in exchange for Caligula, Nero, and Commodus.

Every civilization is doomed to collapse. It should be noted that the Roman empire lasted an incredibly long time and that they even outlived their Chinese peers of the Han Dynasty by centuries though unlike China the Roman Empire couldn't restore itself.

You mention Caligula, Nero and Commodus but those are the extreme outliers. Name one and most Roman historians have an easy time naming a great empire like Hadrian or Augustus in return. There are even some ''bad'' emperors like Tiberius and Domitian who are re examined as terrible people but competent, perhaps even great rulers And its worth noting that Caligula and Nero reigned during the golden era of the Roman empire. That the imperial system survived the reign of those two incompetent monarchs by centuries just shows how strong the system really was. They reigned as nitwits but after their reign was over the damage was fairly limited. Rome was still the dominant power in the western world, the system they represented survived them and more capable men took their place.

Would you argue in saying for example that the United States as how the Founding Fathers envisioned it, has already long since collapsed into something else now?

Samtemdo8:

Hades:

Samtemdo8:

Sometimes I wonder if Rome as a civilization was always meant to be doomed to collapse. Especially since the Empire proper wasn't any better really.

We essentially traded horribly incompetent and corrupt senate in exchange for Caligula, Nero, and Commodus.

Every civilization is doomed to collapse. It should be noted that the Roman empire lasted an incredibly long time and that they even outlived their Chinese peers of the Han Dynasty by centuries though unlike China the Roman Empire couldn't restore itself.

You mention Caligula, Nero and Commodus but those are the extreme outliers. Name one and most Roman historians have an easy time naming a great empire like Hadrian or Augustus in return. There are even some ''bad'' emperors like Tiberius and Domitian who are re examined as terrible people but competent, perhaps even great rulers And its worth noting that Caligula and Nero reigned during the golden era of the Roman empire. That the imperial system survived the reign of those two incompetent monarchs by centuries just shows how strong the system really was. They reigned as nitwits but after their reign was over the damage was fairly limited. Rome was still the dominant power in the western world, the system they represented survived them and more capable men took their place.

Would you argue in saying for example that the United States as how the Founding Fathers envisioned it, has already long since collapsed into something else now?

Potentially, but they also considered the US the great experiment, and even from the getgo the added amendments. The firt ten were added in almost immediately after the constitution was instituted.

ANother thing to look at that might help, particularly the end of the republic, is Extra History: The Brothers Grocci.

Samtemdo8:
So what is the logic where having one person holding with absolute power over the whole empire can prevent this chaos when it ended up trading one bad thing for another potentially worse one?

Logic? It's just something that happened. Augustus ended up in power, he kept it for decades, things worked fairly well and what was left of the old system faded away over the next few generations.

Samtemdo8:
Would you argue in saying for example that the United States as how the Founding Fathers envisioned it, has already long since collapsed into something else now?

Certainly it has, but then again, the US is one of the longest living and stable countries there is. Almost every other nation in the world got violently made into something new in the last 250 years.

Samtemdo8:
So what is the logic where having one person holding with absolute power over the whole empire can prevent this chaos when it ended up trading one bad thing for another potentially worse one?

Civil Strife vs Tyranny from a dictator.

The logic is not that one person holding absolute(ish) power is more stable or efficient or any of that nonsense, but that the material facts of the Roman Republic led to consolidations of power among their elite such that one of their more successful elites could seize power for themselves. And so one did; why shouldn't he have?

Thaluikhain:
Certainly it has, but then again, the US is one of the longest living and stable countries there is. Almost every other nation in the world got violently made into something new in the last 250 years.

Considering the Civil War that is also true of the US.

The Roman Republic was an extremely centralised society which despite its eventual enormous size was still built on the model of a city state. Noone outside of the city itself could claim Roman citizenship, but still had to fulfil obligations to the Republic. The republic was essentially a power-sharing agreement between a small number of patrician/noble families who dominated politics in the city. Important offices, like military commands and provincial governorships, were given to already-powerful members of the aristocracy as a way of rewarding them and thus ensuring the loyalty of their families, and over time this resulted in a concentration of wealth and military power in the hands of individuals, whom the senate then needed to grant even more rewards to to keep loyal. It was a vicious cycle of power concentration which ultimately lead to a period in the first century in which a few individuals came to dominate Roman politics and began to use their enormous military power against their political rivals, leading to a period of civil wars.

People supported the Empire because they were tired of civil wars, but also to an extent because they were tired of the patrician ruling class. The patricians had dominated the Republic and been a very conservative force, opposing reforms which might have hurt their power base or advanced the situation of the common plebians, the majority of Roman citizens. Julius Ceasar, although a patrician by birth, was also a popularist who opposed the conservatism of most of his patrician rivals and sought to advance the status of the plebs. His successors generally followed his lead in this regard, and as such were extremely popular among much of the Roman population.

I tend to think too much importance is placed on the collapse of the Roman Republic (and the Empire that followed). Like... Collapses happen all the friggen' time. What makes Roman/Byzantine government interesting isn't its collapse - it's how bloody long it lasted. The U.S. is what we now consider a long-lasting government (and while the civil war was certainly tumultuous, the U.S. survived it), and it's still peanuts compared to the sweep of Rome.

Samtemdo8:
Of all that I read from Roman History the impression I got from why the Roman Republic collapsed into the Empire was because of constant civil wars, and a corrupt/ineffective senate and this paved the way for Strong-man figures that hailed from Nobility and from the Military to assume power and bring order to the Chaos in the Republic.

You note that most of the "strong-man figures" came from nobility, but you realise pretty much all of the senate would have been as well right? Like, there was a specific set amount of money you had to earn per annum that you had to hit before you could even qualify to run for senate. Everyone in it is rich as hell and usually that way because of family money. Which is probably part of the reason things were getting stagnant; with the same old family names popping up in the senate, what vested interest do they have in changing things? If the way things were going so far has resulted in them being millionaires and in seats of power, why would they want that to stop. Which is where the people who would like that to stop, for whatever reason, come in and do something about it

It's less how bad a group of individuals were, more the structuralist foundations that allowed a person to simply (albeit brilliantly) beat up a bunch of Gauls and get power solely on the back of it.

Let's put it in context, you had a society that nominally had a Senate that were supposed to be the arbiter of the military eengagements and invasions of its neighbours, but rather than putting real teeth in that proviso allowed a formerly family-disgraced general basically subsume entire regiments of soldiers under one banner and earn the praise of a savage Roman citizenry that saw military conquest as the backbone of worthiness of leadership.

I'm probably cheapening what cronyism of the First Triumvirate had played to create that disastrous turn of events to begin with, but ehh.

evilthecat:
The Roman Republic was an extremely centralised society which despite its eventual enormous size was still built on the model of a city state. Noone outside of the city itself could claim Roman citizenship, but still had to fulfil obligations to the Republic. The republic was essentially a power-sharing agreement between a small number of patrician/noble families who dominated politics in the city. Important offices, like military commands and provincial governorships, were given to already-powerful members of the aristocracy as a way of rewarding them and thus ensuring the loyalty of their families, and over time this resulted in a concentration of wealth and military power in the hands of individuals, whom the senate then needed to grant even more rewards to to keep loyal. It was a vicious cycle of power concentration which ultimately lead to a period in the first century in which a few individuals came to dominate Roman politics and began to use their enormous military power against their political rivals, leading to a period of civil wars.

People supported the Empire because they were tired of civil wars, but also to an extent because they were tired of the patrician ruling class. The patricians had dominated the Republic and been a very conservative force, opposing reforms which might have hurt their power base or advanced the situation of the common plebians, the majority of Roman citizens. Julius Ceasar, although a patrician by birth, was also a popularist who opposed the conservatism of most of his patrician rivals and sought to advance the status of the plebs. His successors generally followed his lead in this regard, and as such were extremely popular among much of the Roman population.

I think you're overselling Roman desire for peace, over their desire for a military government that has proven itself worthy simply to beat peace out of any and all discontent. Caesar came from a disgraced family, and his father was a 'rebel' (you could loosely say) himself--disgraced solely because he picked the losing side of yet another civil conflict. None of that mattered to the soldiers (or the citizens) that (in truthfulness) had illegally rallied under Caesar's banner for a conquest of Gaul without Senatorial approval, and if ending in failure would have sparked a civil war on its own. In fact the argument could be made that Roman praise of Caesar led to more 'wars of glory' while he was alive, some utterly disastrous (like the Eastern campaign that barely survived soldiers getting off their ships) and cost Rome much of any of its strength that it purported to celebrate.

It always struck me as weird that so few people write about Crasus' role in the crisis of the Roman Republic.

None of that really mattered to the Roman citizen. What mattered was you could be victorious. No average Roman citizen truly cared Julius crossed the Rubicon. They only cared what the results of that were. Julius Caesar sparked a brutal covil war right then and there, but he never lost the trust of his soldiers or was at all admonished by the people upon the consolidation of his rule, and people did not even blame him for Mark Antony's (at the time, his lieutenant) disastrous incompetency of the handling of Rome in the absence of its administration.

Arguably Julius Caesar was responsible for more death from civil conflict than the combined efforts of the Servile wars, Spartacus, and Sulla. Moreover unlike many of those conflicts, this time it was Romans themselves dying in droves. Not merely peripheries, but actual Romans. Warfare was not considered exceptional, and after a century of this and looking at contemporaneous reactions to such events of the mid-1st Century BC, that Julius wasn't somehow so particular in the means and desires by which he sought political power.

Pompey was just as manipulative and just as desiring to capitalize on the glory and praise of the Roman citizen. As was Crasus, as was Antony, as was any Roman general or would-be general.

Mark Antony was not an Optimate, either. Brutus was, but Caesar spared him and his associates for a reason. If he legitimately thought that the average Roman citizen truly wanted to destroy every trace of them Caesar would have done it in a heartbeat.

Roman desire of security was born in that bloody tumult of the 1st Century BC, but pretending like Julius Caesar represented a significant departure from his contemporaries and what they considered important as if divisibly objective is kind of ignoring the fact that if Pompey had decided to press his military successes against a recently beaten Caesar, we'd be saying 'Hail Pompey' and that Pompey wouldn't have objectively been all that different in mindset.

Romans would have welcomed him (particularly after Antony's governorship of 'Italy'), he would have pressed the Senate to effectively make himself dictator, etc. The fun fact of the matter is the eventual civil war of Antony's also would have happened, just a hell of a lot sooner, as Pompey beat Caesar as by all reasonable expectations. So the difference in the historical account would be simply the years and place.

It might of even still been a Brutus burying a blade into Caesar's flesh. The only difference being instead of a infamous political assassination, simply a case of soldiers on the battlefield and Caesar simply being remembered as a skilled, innovative general who vied for power amongst a sea of other gifted generals of his age.

Marian reforms? Predate Caesar. Populares consuls? Predate Caesar. Grain dole? Predate Caesar.

Let's not undersell just how much Romans appealed to an idea of peace through brutal strength. So much so any number of modern white supremacists appeal to its 'culture' (of whatever maladjusted idea of what Rome was and is) while ixnaying all the things that Romans actually thought of Northern Europeans in general.

Actually, speaking further on the Marian reforms I feel they better reflect even in the eyes of Populares the real motivator and belief of a state's objectives is its capacity to project power and the state should serve the wishes of its people to contribute to that singular belief of the skill-at-arms and state leadership. What Romans actually considered important in a person and leader.

Pompey could have easily substituted a Caesar in these regards. Someone who was also a brilliant strategist, and had personally fought and reflected a Roman's idea of ideal citizenry.

Moreover, if Pompey had beaten Caesar, there is no reason why we would view him any differently. Pompey's military brilliance and capacity to govern was tested at a ridiculously young age. And he came up smelling like roses. And that's an important consideration to take. Julius Caesar was a patrician born but from a disgraced household. Pompey's father had dragged them into the nobility, and Pompey himself had a glorious rise to power from what is fairly 'humble' (comparatively) roots.

For all of the bluster of Caesar's disgraced familial background and pulling himself up by his sandal straps, comparatively he had a much easier 'go of it' than Pompey or his parents.

As they say, even Caesar recoiled at Ptolemy's treachery and disrespect. Pompey was a hero of the Roman Republic.

The relationship and profiles of both Caesar and Pompey cannot be so easily defined by what was ostensibly an artificial divide of Populares and Optimates. Caesar was more than willing to abuse his relationship to Pompey when it suited him (infact he owed everything he had to Pompey). Both of them took proactive roles on the battlefield (at least when Pompey was younger), Pompey arguably cared more about his soldiers' wellbeing and how that respect should be displayed by the Senate breaking up their personal land holdings in Italy to bequeath upon his landless soldiers who were retiring from service...

This was land within the peninsula. Not merely some far-off colonized part of the world.

Both of them could represent either arbitrary political ideals to which is so obtusely defined as 'Populares' and 'Optimates'. Moreover, Pompey actually has provincial blood in his veins, himself.

While Pompey had to spend a lifetime of exemplary political service (and succeeding) why a provincial family deserves the idea ofbeing thought of as Roman nobility... Caesar got handed it on a silver platter. Caesar had nothing to lose by appearing as if to appeal to the common Roman. Pompey had to fight to appear as anything but in the eyes of the patricians.

So ultimately you're talkig the major contrasting figures of Roman politics that would orchestrate the end of the Roman Republic, set its gears turning. Very similar personalities, a very intertwined history of alliance and eventual coflict, who come from two very different upbringings--and yet markedly both were very much products of their time and place, and neither of them conflicting with the either solely for something obtuse as being Populares or Optimate.

They had a singular goal in mind that both of them would exploit whoever or whatever they had at their disposal in the same ways if it would lead to the best outcome for themselves. The idea they did anythig beyond think about their station, or had real, core beliefs that they saw larger than themselves and what they wanted is not apparent.

Nor would it be, to begin with. These people were not philosophers or artists, they were soldiers. Caesar declaring himself dictator wasn't even novel. Moreover his own dad would have disapproved precisely because he suffered due to that non-novelty of Roman dictators.

Emperors who were uniquely concerned with the well being of Roman plebs is equally valid saying they're channeling their inner Gracchus or Marius as it is saying they're simply taking a leaf out of Caesar's book. Caesar would end up looking like just another Sulla to his detractors for a reason, and he certainly wasn't anywhere near the ancient 'SJW' firebrand than a Gracchus was.

Julius Caesar, despite his family suffering under Sulla, would end up copying his gameplan. And kind of failing to live up to Sulla's legacy. Arguably by necessity (choosing to not occupy Rome but rather catch uup with the Optimates (of which he failed to do so, anyways) or arguably by choice by appointing an Antony to secure a devastated Rome rather than employing a logistician specialist who better understands feeding people and requisitioning, rather than commanding troops. This is a Roman general that doesn't understand logistics and appoints a military ruler who definitely does not understand it at all.

And we're talking Romans... people who didn't have 0, but built ridiculous amounts of still usable roads.

So it always strikes me as odd that people see Caesar as if a gifted thinker or strategist. Skilled in warfare, but he is breathtakingly ill-equipped at all other aspects of administration, politicking, trade, and more.

The funny thing about Sulla is he was hugely popular... more popular than Caesar after him. The only reason why Caesar at all is compared favourably to the lovable (by Roman standards), openly homosexual Roman dictator is because of the Julio-Claudian dynasty itself and the romantically tragic nature of Caesar's death.

Even Plutarch writes of Sulla's and Metrobius' relationship as if a virtue of enduring love and devotion beyond simple, base sexual urge--as homosexual interludes are often written up as, lacking in the same level and purity of love as heterosexual relationships.

The funny thing about Plutarch is he somehow manages to get right what Western scholars and artists get wrong thousands of years afterwards because it brings up uncomfortable discourse in Christian circles. That Sulla had a shitload of wives simply to have an heir, but remained loyal and true to his male lover well into old age and romantically beyond. Funny how they use the multiple wives bit as if an accusation of degeneracy rather than just seeking an heir and for Roman sensibilities of starting a family, and then either point to Metrobius as 'proof' of 'degeneracy' or just refuse to acknowledge that Sulla was actually faithful and his real love and affections weren't on the basis of physical attraction but a desire of male companionship that he happily maintained.

Kind of sad that Plutarch is considered a more reasonable, accepting thinker compared with a Mozart in these regards.

Regardless of that taboo as then as it is now, Sulla still ridiculously popular. And a cotemporary of Caesar.

Why is it no one talks about Sulla? Basically everything that Caesar accomplished was by Sulla's example, using Sulla's tactics, and ultimately not being anywhere near successful with them. It's also the perfect example of why lateRepublic politics can't just be aalyzed as Populares v. Optimates. Roman politics and the sheer alien headspace of Roman citizenry itself and how Romans felt about their reltionship to the Republic would never allow it to be that simple.

A lot of Caesar's relative importance has nothing to do with him personally. Merely Roman politics and laws that preceded him, and a whole lot of self-interested good press after him that pretends as if he was somehow some magnificently successful Roman without peer coupled with a romatically tragic assassination to end cap his life.

Sulla was a better Caesar than Caesar. Sulla didn't have a imperial dynasty he would inadvertantly birth that would change the known world, and have a distant descendant talk him up as if a fucking god. I mean, sure... he beat up some backwards, divided Gauls cleverly. Which isn't exactly as unbelievable a feat as professional soldiery defeating other professional soldiery in pitched battles and showing how you're the best damn Roman around to take the reins.

The Romans opened the gates for Sulla, and immediately provided their stores of food and gave no contest in favour of the Marian occupiers. So this idea that the Populares had this instant, unbridled affection owed to them by all the plebeians of Rome if even extant did not materially manifest. When Caesar saw and left Rome an anarchic, hellish urban battlefield of rioting, looting, and revolutioary activity... a Sulla but a few decades prior saw and left Rome an ordered, peaceful, stable place. He also didn't install an idiot like Antony to administer to its needs.

Once again, Sulla was incredibly popular and his memory would remain as such (with much envy) even into the Julio-Claudian dynasty. So much so Nero legitimately considered his descendant an existential threat that may have unified the people against a still very young Imperial Rome.

In a Roman's eyes, particularly one that either heard stories or lived through it... if you're lookig for stability, are you going to remember an Optimate that did not punish the citizenry harshly, and made sure the grain flowed... or are you going to remember how Caesar abandonned you, put in an Antony who starved and beat you, and scattered the one group of administrators that kept you fed and policed the streets?

So this idea of cross-Roman backing of the Populares isn't going to be as strong as you might thing, and only in the fullness of time a self-destruction of Rome under Populares control will be forgotten.

Samtemdo8:

So what is the logic where having one person holding with absolute power over the whole empire can prevent this chaos when it ended up trading one bad thing for another potentially worse one?

Civil Strife vs Tyranny from a dictator.

Precedent. Previous dictators seemed to solve crisis by taking quick action and not losing time with the Senate not reaching a quick resolution; and when the crisis was solved, the dictators returned the power back to the Senate.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
[quote="evilthecat" post="528.1056587.24286484"]The Roman Republic was an extremely centralised society which despite its eventual enormous size was still built on the model of a city state. Noone outside of the city itself could claim Roman citizenship, but still had to fulfil obligations to the Republic. The republic was essentially a power-sharing agreement between a small number of patrician/noble families who dominated politics in the city. Important offices, like military commands and provincial governorships, were given to already-powerful members of the aristocracy as a way of rewarding them and thus ensuring the loyalty of their families, and over time this resulted in a concentration of wealth and military power in the hands of individuals, whom the senate then needed to grant even more rewards to to keep loyal. It was a vicious cycle of power concentration which ultimately lead to a period in the first century in which a few individuals came to dominate Roman politics and began to use their enormous military power against their political rivals, leading to a period of civil wars.

Arguably Julius Caesar was responsible for more death from civil conflict than the combined efforts of the Servile wars, Spartacus, and Sulla.

We might argue he was if Caesar was chiefly responsible for the wars that bear his name. Fact of the matter was that his enemies did everything in their power to start a civil war and when Caesar crossed the Rubicon he was at a point where he could either go to war or lose his political life, perhaps even his life in general in a cangeroo court controlled by his enemies. Whether Caesar was guilty or not does not entirely matter since the Senate didn't have the authority to prosecute him. They couldn't prosecute a consul which he would have easily become and they couldn't prosecute a governor either which Caesar was at the time. They could have procecuted him in the time between his command and his consulship....except there wasn't any. Caesars term lasted pretty much untill the election. The problem was that Caesars foes just stubbornly insisted Caesars command ended earlier than it legally did or that they denied him the right to run for Consul in absentia despite having already granted him that right. There was even a deal to prevent a civil war until Cato sabotaged it so there was no other option than war.

Caesar vs Sulla is an interesting discussion and I hold a somewhat different view. For me Sulla ranks lower than Caesar because his legacy wasn't as strong. Sulla certainly left a legacy in that he set a disastrous precedent by marching on Rome but the reforms he issued once he was in power got gleefully dismantled after he left office. It was likely his experience in witnessing this that made Caesar make his dictatorship permanent. I would argue against Sulla leaving an orderly state either. In fact Sulla's impact can be felt in the future conflicts of the Republic. Spain was still in rebellion against his faction, retired legionaries he stationed in Italy would join the Cataline conspiracy and two out of three Triumvirs were his proteges.

I certainly would agree that Populares vs Optimates is an artificial construct. Most Roman politicians weren't as ideologically driven. Pompey famously swapped ''factions'' at the drop of a hat. He joined Sulla before playing the populist when he got popular, when he wished closer ties to the ''Optimates'' Cato and Co foolishly snubbed him which made him throw in his lot with Caesar, after which he would lead the ''Optimates'' against him. Its also interesting to note that the coalition Cicero made to save Decimus Brutus(one of Caesars assasins) from Anthony existed almost entirely of Caesarians with the two consuls at the time being Caesarians and them being reinforced by Octavian himself.

Hades:

We might argue he was if Caesar was chiefly responsible for the wars that bear his name. Fact of the matter was that his enemies did everything in their power to start a civil war and when Caesar crossed the Rubicon he was at a point where he could either go to war or lose his political life, perhaps even his life in general in a cangeroo court controlled by his enemies. Whether Caesar was guilty or not does not entirely matter since the Senate didn't have the authority to prosecute him. They couldn't prosecute a consul which he would have easily become and they couldn't prosecute a governor either which Caesar was at the time. They could have procecuted him in the time between his command and his consulship....except there wasn't any. Caesars term lasted pretty much untill the election. The problem was that Caesars foes just stubbornly insisted Caesars command ended earlier than it legally did or that they denied him the right to run for Consul in absentia despite having already granted him that right. There was even a deal to prevent a civil war until Cato sabotaged it so there was no other option than war.

That doesn't explain why Caesar effectively let Rome destroy itself. Caesar's abondonment of Rome, something he caused by crossing the Rubicon, is morally justified if he then occupied it and personally administered to its needs. His literal strategy for why he did not do as such was that occupying Rome that is already an open city would delay him from catching up to Pompey and the Optimates. The problem is this strategy didn't work in the first place, he underestimated Pompey's capacity to transport his soldiers and a bunch of old men in tunics and they escaped anyways.

Then as a 'master stroke' decided that Antony was fit to govern the Italian peninsula, despite any number of qualified logisticians tht were actually needed to stop Romans (and 'Italians' in general) starving. Compounding the situation of chronic food shortages and rioting with an incompetent soldier who only knew how to stab people.

Guess how well that brilliant idea worked out?

Compare that with a Sulla that succeeded in everyway that Caesar who copied him did not, as well as safeguard Rome while still on the advance. Sulla was undoubtedly a better strategist all-around, and honestly Romans themselves knew it regardless of the ideological differences. That Sulla was a man of uncompromising standards of rule, efficacy in logistics, personal magnetism and charisma, and Caesar wanted to live up to him for a reason.

The thing that people forget to acknowledge is that Sulla was beloved by people. Even his enemies and Caesar, son of the father who had his property confiscated, could not survive politically tarnishing his reputation he created by his own capabilities. That the memory of Sulla would be a perpetual thorn in the side of the Julio-Claudians generations after, and whe open praise of Optimate ideas were effectvely taboo. So much so Nero executed the last definite descendant of him as a real political threat to the idea of the Empire.

Caesar vs Sulla is an interesting discussion and I hold a somewhat different view. For me Sulla ranks lower than Caesar because his legacy wasn't as strong. Sulla certainly left a legacy in that he set a disastrous precedent by marching on Rome but the reforms he issued once he was in power got gleefully dismantled after he left office. It was likely his experience in witnessing this that made Caesar make his dictatorship permanent. I would argue against Sulla leaving an orderly state either. In fact Sulla's impact can be felt in the future conflicts of the Republic. Spain was still in rebellion against his faction, retired legionaries he stationed in Italy would join the Cataline conspiracy and two out of three Triumvirs were his proteges.

Legacy isn't as strong? You mean he didn't have the same level of propaganda and lust for power? The fact of the matter is Sulla was simply a better leader and unifier of people than Caesar. He would also remain a more popular ruler of people for contemporaneous Romans of his time. He didn't need a grandson pretending he was god-sent, nor did he need to be murdered by the Senate to justify why the 'Optimates are bad'.

If the adage of; "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power..." holds true, Sulla is not only efficaciously better on all counts, but simply a better person in all the ways it counts. You know what one of the biggest shames of history is in my opinion? That his memoirs weren't saved. Imagine being able to peer into his insights and get a true senstion of his feelings, qualms, doubts, musings of power and statecraft?

If Sulla's memoirs were saved, I think it would be required reading in any study of the classics concerning military science, politics and history.

I mean, sure. Sulla basically was the beginning of the end, but only in example. Sulla can hardly be blamed for being emulated. And he did try to limit the private control of legions as he foresaw in the same way he abused the Marian reforms to defeat the Marians themselves, so would the Populares use them to destroy the Senate just as he would march on Rome.

He recognized the problem, didn't do enough to stop it. But he himself did not create those systems, he simply used those laws against the Marians who did.

I certainly would agree that Populares vs Optimates is an artificial construct. Most Roman politicians weren't as ideologically driven. Pompey famously swapped ''factions'' at the drop of a hat. He joined Sulla before playing the populist when he got popular, when he wished closer ties to the ''Optimates'' Cato and Co foolishly snubbed him which made him throw in his lot with Caesar, after which he would lead the ''Optimates'' against him. Its also interesting to note that the coalition Cicero made to save Decimus Brutus(one of Caesars assasins) from Anthony existed almost entirely of Caesarians with the two consuls at the time being Caesarians and them being reinforced by Octavian himself.

I would also argue Pompey actually represented the Populares ideal better of an Italian provicial family that built themselves into the ideal Roman citizen as Romans regardless of politics thought that was. Caesar was still a patrician and would always be seen as such despite Sulla smashing their 'revolution' and confiscating the property of the Marians.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Hades:

We might argue he was if Caesar was chiefly responsible for the wars that bear his name. Fact of the matter was that his enemies did everything in their power to start a civil war and when Caesar crossed the Rubicon he was at a point where he could either go to war or lose his political life, perhaps even his life in general in a cangeroo court controlled by his enemies. Whether Caesar was guilty or not does not entirely matter since the Senate didn't have the authority to prosecute him. They couldn't prosecute a consul which he would have easily become and they couldn't prosecute a governor either which Caesar was at the time. They could have procecuted him in the time between his command and his consulship....except there wasn't any. Caesars term lasted pretty much untill the election. The problem was that Caesars foes just stubbornly insisted Caesars command ended earlier than it legally did or that they denied him the right to run for Consul in absentia despite having already granted him that right. There was even a deal to prevent a civil war until Cato sabotaged it so there was no other option than war.

That doesn't explain why Caesar effectively let Rome destroy itself. Caesar's abondonment of Rome, something he caused by crossing the Rubicon, is morally justified if he then occupied it and personally administered to its needs. His literal strategy for why he did not do as such was that occupying Rome that is already an open city would delay him from catching up to Pompey and the Optimates. The problem is this strategy didn't work in the first place, he underestimated Pompey's capacity to transport his soldiers and a bunch of old men in tunics and they escaped anyways.

Then as a 'master stroke' decided that Antony was fit to govern the Italian peninsula, despite any number of qualified logisticians tht were actually needed to stop Romans (and 'Italians' in general) starving. Compounding the situation of chronic food shortages and rioting with an incompetent soldier who only knew how to stab people.

Guess how well that brilliant idea worked out?

Compare that with a Sulla that succeeded in everyway that Caesar who copied him did not, as well as safeguard Rome while still on the advance. Sulla was undoubtedly a better strategist all-around, and honestly Romans themselves knew it regardless of the ideological differences. That Sulla was a man of uncompromising standards of rule, efficacy in logistics, personal magnetism and charisma, and Caesar wanted to live up to him for a reason.

The thing that people forget to acknowledge is that Sulla was beloved by people. Even his enemies and Caesar, son of the father who had his property confiscated, could not survive politically tarnishing his reputation he created by his own capabilities. That the memory of Sulla would be a perpetual thorn in the side of the Julio-Claudians generations after, and whe open praise of Optimate ideas were effectvely taboo. So much so Nero executed the last definite descendant of him as a real political threat to the idea of the Empire.

Caesar vs Sulla is an interesting discussion and I hold a somewhat different view. For me Sulla ranks lower than Caesar because his legacy wasn't as strong. Sulla certainly left a legacy in that he set a disastrous precedent by marching on Rome but the reforms he issued once he was in power got gleefully dismantled after he left office. It was likely his experience in witnessing this that made Caesar make his dictatorship permanent. I would argue against Sulla leaving an orderly state either. In fact Sulla's impact can be felt in the future conflicts of the Republic. Spain was still in rebellion against his faction, retired legionaries he stationed in Italy would join the Cataline conspiracy and two out of three Triumvirs were his proteges.

Legacy isn't as strong? You mean he didn't have the same level of propaganda and lust for power? The fact of the matter is Sulla was simply a better leader and unifier of people than Caesar. He would also remain a more popular ruler of people for contemporaneous Romans of his time. He didn't need a grandson pretending he was god-sent, nor did he need to be murdered by the Senate to justify why the 'Optimates are bad'.

If the adage of; "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power..." holds true, Sulla is not only efficaciously better on all counts, but simply a better person in all the ways it counts. You know what one of the biggest shames of history is in my opinion? That his memoirs weren't saved. Imagine being able to peer into his insights and get a true senstion of his feelings, qualms, doubts, musings of power and statecraft?

If Sulla's memoirs were saved, I think it would be required reading in any study of the classics concerning military science, politics and history.

I certainly would agree that Populares vs Optimates is an artificial construct. Most Roman politicians weren't as ideologically driven. Pompey famously swapped ''factions'' at the drop of a hat. He joined Sulla before playing the populist when he got popular, when he wished closer ties to the ''Optimates'' Cato and Co foolishly snubbed him which made him throw in his lot with Caesar, after which he would lead the ''Optimates'' against him. Its also interesting to note that the coalition Cicero made to save Decimus Brutus(one of Caesars assasins) from Anthony existed almost entirely of Caesarians with the two consuls at the time being Caesarians and them being reinforced by Octavian himself.

I would also argue Pompey actually represented the Populares ideal better of an Italian provicial family that built themselves into the ideal Roman citizen as Romans regardless of politics thought that was. Caesar was still a patrician and would always be seen as such despite Sulla smashing their 'revolution' and confiscating the property of the Marians.

The problem with Caesar staying is that he was required elsewhere. Aside from Caesar, Pompey and Labinus capable military commanders were rather hard to find in the late Republic. There was Lucullus but he was dead at the time and likely wouldn't have sided with Caesar anyway, and Anthony's reputation as a soldier hadn't been established yet. If Caesar send an underling at Pompey then that underling would lose. Its not like the situation was much better on the other side but if Caesar wasn't involved in his own operations they tended to fail.

Having your heirs write the history books is certainly a way to ensure your legacy but your heirs won't be writing any history books if you don't have your own legacy either. Sulla's direct legacy was limited because his heirs ended up overthrown by a successor of the faction he had defeated. That's no fault of his own but it was a ''Marian'' and not an Optimate who founded the empire.

As for who's the better person, its worth reminding that Sulla(And Marius and Octavian too) purged their enemies while Caesar didn't. And its very much true that Caesar got direct political advantage for not being a butcher but that just makes it more apparent that his foes didn't take the merciful route and get that sweet PR bonus. And I wouldn't say the Assasination was required to ''pretend'' the optimates that came after Sulla were bad. Their chief politician was Cato who was his own unique brand of terrible and incompetent, and at his side were dullards like Ahenobarbus or Bibilus.

Hades:

The problem with Caesar staying is that he was required elsewhere. Aside from Caesar, Pompey and Labinus capable military commanders were rather hard to find in the late Republic.

But is that really true? Perhaps they had plenty of capable commanders, it's that they were overshadowed by others: after all, a competent general is likely to come out looking poor when facing off against a great one. Thus it might not have been a deficit in capable commanders, but an unusual number of highly capable ones.

Agema:

Hades:

The problem with Caesar staying is that he was required elsewhere. Aside from Caesar, Pompey and Labinus capable military commanders were rather hard to find in the late Republic.

But is that really true? Perhaps they had plenty of capable commanders, it's that they were overshadowed by others: after all, a competent general is likely to come out looking poor when facing off against a great one. Thus it might not have been a deficit in capable commanders, but an unusual number of highly capable ones.

I don't think that's the case. Among Caesars most capable military officers was Marc Anthony who actually wasn't all that good at it. Not only was Marc Anthony not a Caesar but he was only an average commander at best who lost most of his independent commands. Even Octavian with his own very shaky record can claim a victory over Anthony even if his colleagues did half of the work.

And on the sides of the optimates things aren't much better. Leading Figures like Cato and Cicero hardly had any military skill and Ahenobarbus attempts to fight Caesar without Pompey's permission ended up as a rather pathetic endeavor.

There was a deficit in capable commanders but that's only natural. In the same generation of Caesar there had been a devastating civil war with both faction purging their opponents. A lot of talent ended up on the chopping block of either Marius or Sulla. I think there's definitely merrit to what you say and it certainly goes for a lot of Hannibal's opponents that they were up against a very special opponent but with the late Republic military was becoming quite rare. This due to aforementioned purging but also because money and connections became increasingly important over time.

Hades:

I don't think that's the case. Among Caesars most capable military officers was Marc Anthony who actually wasn't all that good at it. Not only was Marc Anthony not a Caesar but he was only an average commander at best who lost most of his independent commands. Even Octavian with his own very shaky record can claim a victory over Anthony even if his colleagues did half of the work.

I'm pretty sure it was Anthony that did the heavy lifting defeating Cassius and Brutus. He was also pretty much Caesar's second in command, and I seriously doubt he got that through mediocrity.

And on the sides of the optimates things aren't much better. Leading Figures like Cato and Cicero hardly had any military skill and Ahenobarbus attempts to fight Caesar without Pompey's permission ended up as a rather pathetic endeavor.

It's not fair to include Cicero and Cato - they were basically just statesmen, not generals. There are however plenty of generals around at the time - although not necessarily very politically active ones. Octavian and Anthony had lots of subordinates capable of quality command. Octavian of course got one (Agrippa) to do much of the military work for him. Anthony faced numerous campaigns in the East where subordinate generals evidently handled themselves fine.

In terms of the big cheeses, history has been something of a lottery until very recently because generalship was so heavily dependent on political connections. It's not a meritocracy: the king leads the army because he's king, and if he doesn't lead it, whom he likes most leads it. Arguably Napoleon is the guy who creates the first institutionalised system of merit-based promotion to high rank, so the Roman Republic is not really any different from most of history in that sense. And I just can't see any reason to believe it had an unusual deficit in competence.

Agema:

Hades:

I don't think that's the case. Among Caesars most capable military officers was Marc Anthony who actually wasn't all that good at it. Not only was Marc Anthony not a Caesar but he was only an average commander at best who lost most of his independent commands. Even Octavian with his own very shaky record can claim a victory over Anthony even if his colleagues did half of the work.

I'm pretty sure it was Anthony that did the heavy lifting defeating Cassius and Brutus. He was also pretty much Caesar's second in command, and I seriously doubt he got that through mediocrity.

And on the sides of the optimates things aren't much better. Leading Figures like Cato and Cicero hardly had any military skill and Ahenobarbus attempts to fight Caesar without Pompey's permission ended up as a rather pathetic endeavor.

It's not fair to include Cicero and Cato - they were basically just statesmen, not generals. There are however plenty of generals around at the time - although not necessarily very politically active ones. Octavian and Anthony had lots of subordinates capable of quality command. Octavian of course got one (Agrippa) to do much of the military work for him. Anthony faced numerous campaigns in the East where subordinate generals evidently handled themselves fine.

In terms of the big cheeses, history has been something of a lottery until very recently because generalship was so heavily dependent on political connections. It's not a meritocracy: the king leads the army because he's king, and if he doesn't lead it, whom he likes most leads it. Arguably Napoleon is the guy who creates the first institutionalised system of merit-based promotion to high rank, so the Roman Republic is not really any different from most of history in that sense. And I just can't see any reason to believe it had an unusual deficit in competence.

Anthony was indeed the great victor at Philipi but no one in that battle had any business commanding troops. Anthony wasn't a good soldier but he was at least somewhat of a soldier. Octavian and Brutus weren't while Cassius moment of military glory in Syria was decades ago. They all got their post from connections or bribing legions. On the whole Anthony was not an incapable fellow but aside from his early debacle in Rome he was actually much more of a politician and administrator than a soldier. Its telling that Augustus chose to leave most of his work in the east alone after deposing Anthony. But in battle he fared much poorer. The only truly successful campaign was Philipi against millitary noobs. Against Octavian, Phantus and Hirtus he lost, against the Partians he lost and finally he lost for good against Agrippa.

Hades:

The problem with Caesar staying is that he was required elsewhere. Aside from Caesar, Pompey and Labinus capable military commanders were rather hard to find in the late Republic. There was Lucullus but he was dead at the time and likely wouldn't have sided with Caesar anyway, and Anthony's reputation as a soldier hadn't been established yet. If Caesar send an underling at Pompey then that underling would lose. Its not like the situation was much better on the other side but if Caesar wasn't involved in his own operations they tended to fail.

Having your heirs write the history books is certainly a way to ensure your legacy but your heirs won't be writing any history books if you don't have your own legacy either. Sulla's direct legacy was limited because his heirs ended up overthrown by a successor of the faction he had defeated. That's no fault of his own but it was a ''Marian'' and not an Optimate who founded the empire.

As for who's the better person, its worth reminding that Sulla(And Marius and Octavian too) purged their enemies while Caesar didn't. And its very much true that Caesar got direct political advantage for not being a butcher but that just makes it more apparent that his foes didn't take the merciful route and get that sweet PR bonus. And I wouldn't say the Assasination was required to ''pretend'' the optimates that came after Sulla were bad. Their chief politician was Cato who was his own unique brand of terrible and incompetent, and at his side were dullards like Ahenobarbus or Bibilus.

Woof. Sorry, I meant to respond sooner but things have gotten hectic.

Antony proved himself in Gaul, but he proved himself as a tactician and master man-at-arms, not a logistician. And keep in mind, Caesar managed the destruction of Vercingetorix's forces and the (very late) Gallic resistance through that understanding of logistics. He had other people under his banner that would have better fulfilled the needs of Rome. There is the argument that he simply did not know how bad things would get in Rome, but in the end he would still need to dedicate loyal soldiery to it in the end anyways.

But as I was saying before... ultimately by the end of the Julio-Claudians, the real threat to the empire was simply the memory of Sulla. Not only that but it would take an Augustus (to whom we actually owe to Caesar real fame) actually beating Sulla's memory.

Sulla's public funeral eclipsed any riots, or discord, in the face of Julius Caesar's and state funeral in sheer turnout. That's nothing to say that Sulla also enjoyed undivided support. Senator and common citizen alike. Hence why I was challenging EtC's assumption that Caesar was somehow this radical Populares who managed to unite the citizenry against the Republic who were tired of civil war. It simply isn't true. Sulla was and would be for centuries after, a more popular figure.

And Sulla didn't need to be suddenly murdered. He had retired from service and public life, and the turnout for his state funeral despite being outside public life eclipsed any public support for a dead Caesar. If Sulla's memoirs were saved, we'd be looking at him far more than a relatively uncomplicated Caesar as either soldier or as a politician.

Caesar wasn't even that much of a Populares. He didn't mind being Pompey's and Crasus' voicebox in exchange for consulship, and Caesar had no problem with his patrician status. It's not like he was a Gracchus or Marius reborn.

He was a patrician when it suited him, a Marian when it suited him, a dictator because he wanted it.

We owe to Caesar's grandson and the romantically tragic nature of his death Caesar's true fame. In reality, Sulla's contemporaries loved him. It would take until Octavian to eclipse Sulla's prestige amongst the people. As for Sulla's tyranny... look, okay... he purged people. But not everyone. If he did, Caesar wouldn't be a thing at all. And keep in mind, what did people do to vanquished rebels in general back in those days?

Even nowadays--ringleaders of mutinies and rebellions get shot in the U.S. under the crime of treason. Comparatively, Sulla's actions in his victory were nothing special and were simply decorum.

Plus there is the argument that Caesar couldn't just get rid of the Optimates.

Hades:
Anthony was indeed the great victor at Philipi but no one in that battle had any business commanding troops. Anthony wasn't a good soldier but he was at least somewhat of a soldier. Octavian and Brutus weren't while Cassius moment of military glory in Syria was decades ago. They all got their post from connections or bribing legions. On the whole Anthony was not an incapable fellow but aside from his early debacle in Rome he was actually much more of a politician and administrator than a soldier. Its telling that Augustus chose to leave most of his work in the east alone after deposing Anthony. But in battle he fared much poorer. The only truly successful campaign was Philipi against millitary noobs. Against Octavian, Phantus and Hirtus he lost, against the Partians he lost and finally he lost for good against Agrippa.

Well, okay.

But how are they different from many other generals in many other eras? As said, up until Napoleon, people leading armies because of political status was largely the norm. Many of them had some sort of amateur expertise - your average feudal noble was expected to have some sort of military know-how not dissimilar from the basic military experience a Roman noble would have looking after a few legions for a while. But let's face it, they led troops mostly by freak of birth, and lots of them weren't really any better.

Late Rome is effectively a handful of military strongmen like Stilicho and Aetius holding things together whilst underneath lies almost nothing. In the medieval era, France took 117 years to beat the much smaller and poorer country of England mostly because they struggled to get any commanders who could think beyond charging cavalry at a line of defensive stakes. You can't really point to a single British general worth a damn in the whole century between Marlborough and Wellington. View Russia in the Napoleonic Wars, and the kindest you can say is that there were a handful of above average generals bobbing around in an ocean of mediocrity.

What you can accept is a lot of these guys were at least baseline adequate. Most of these guys could get an army from A to B without dying of starvation or annihilation in ambush, and then make sure it didn't implode on the battlefield. That's actually a significant task much of the population couldn't manage, and that is minimal competence for a general. Again, to return to Napoleon, I think he said that even the most seemingly inadequate generals of their era were probably better generals than the officers under them.

Part of the thing about Roman society was that it was a top-heavy oligarchy where achievements and gaining wealth were highly valued. In the early days of the Republic, this took the form of Rome expanding outward, taking places like North Africa, Spain, Gaul, Greece and so on. The problem is that they eventually reached a point where they didn't have an outward threat to fight, and as such the ambition of powerful men turned inward and the Republic, well, it started eating itself. Powerful men in the Senate and elsewhere in the Roman government were going at each other and hoarding as much wealth and power as possible, which also led to a lot of Roman citizens getting screwed over. Mainly Roman farmers, as they had gone off to fight Roman wars and often came home to find their lives ruined because the slaves they had captured were working on a plantation that they couldn't compete with.

This was complicated by already existing problems with the Republic, the provincials being screwed over, how the lower class had very few protections and a lot of them had to rely on the government for their daily bread, the ineffectiveness of a citizen soldier style army in a nation as big as Rome was by this point, and it lead to a lot of nasty stuff, complete with power-hungry Roman leaders waging war on each other and spilling blood by the hundreds of thousands.

It really did leave a perfect vacuum for Caesar open.

After reading all this, so in summation:

The Roman Republic got too big and to fast that the Republican System of Government did not adapt to the changes? That the leadership running Rome ran it as if it was still a City-State then the massive Empire that it was growing as?

Samtemdo8:
After reading all this, so in summation:

The Roman Republic got too big and to fast that the Republican System of Government did not adapt to the changes? That the leadership running Rome ran it as if it was still a City-State then the massive Empire that it was growing as?

No such thing as 'too big'. To put it into context, yeah the late Roman Republic was 'big' but it would get bigger even after Caesar, and it would always still be a midget in comparison to empires older than it was then, and contemporaneous empires that still existed like the Han Dynasty of China.

The Parthian Empire was still kicking its arse all the way to Octavian and beyond. As proved by Crassus, while being kind of a shithead, was still a competent leader of soldiers and the Persians would have none of that Roman shit for sometime despite riddled with structural problems and on its last legs. The Battle of Carrhae is kind of proof that people put far too much stock on Rome as merely a military power, rather than actually looking at its administrative capabilities even in the clusterfuck of the Late Republic.

So much so that the Roman legion and its tortoise formation is falsely represented on tv as if this thing that could weather common missiles when the truth of the matter is Eastern bowfire routinely punched through it and scythe through forearms of shieldbearing limbs. People mythologizing the actual capabilities of the Roman soldier.

And I honestly don't get why this mythology became a thing. Even Plutarch wrote that it was as if eastern bows could carve through any cover.

You know what shields are really good for? Melee and occulting the body and legs, as well as transferring damage away from the body that relies of less protective armour. It's almost as if horse-mounted archers and javelin throwers historically were really potent and weren't trumped by some flimsy bit of wood, hide and metal banding or something...

Here's a thought experiment. Imagine yourself as a 5'05'' ish tall person. Now imagine the arm of a 5'05'' ish tall person. Now imagine a blunted arrow with a 1 in. diameter, 3.5 in. long head punching through muscle, bone, sinew and artery. Now imagine how well you will actually survive standing under repeated attack for hours. Now imagine how effective you'll be when it actually comes to engaging in the melee while profusely bleeding, with a massive shield nailed to your rapidly useless arm...

Anyways, the late Republic was not somehow plagued with abnormal problems of being an empire. In fact it managed that all things considered given the major revolts were either Roman born, or simply slave revolts that were put down expediently by gifted generals such as Sulla and Pompey.

And if the late Republic was somehow this extraordinary den of illadvised politicking of somehow abnormal dimensions, then it wouldn't have had the remarkable sagacity of routinely investing power in very talented and capable generals in their darkest hours.

The problem of the late Republic begins with Marius, and exemplified by Sulla, and then copy-pasta'd by Caesar, Pompey, ad Crassus, and everyody else with a bit of money that came after him.

Samtemdo8:
After reading all this, so in summation:

The Roman Republic got too big and to fast that the Republican System of Government did not adapt to the changes? That the leadership running Rome ran it as if it was still a City-State then the massive Empire that it was growing as?

That's glossing over the massive concentration of wealth and power (which would kind of seem relevant to the current day, so historians should probably pay extra attention) that was the proximate cause of their instability, but... yes.

It's not exactly an accident that it was Julius Caesar, arguably Rome's most successful conqueror, and then his heir Octavian which finally ended the Republic and formalized their already outsize political power. And it's no accident that the richest man in Rome (Crassus) a few years before Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon had been a patron and ally of Julius Caesar and part of the first Triumvirate (though Crassus died before that happened.)

Something I'm seeing here is talk about how the Senate was corrupt because of being rich and powerful individuals that didn't let others into their fold, but ask this, why is this seen as bad?

The majority of people that were poor or even just well enough off to sustain themselves and their family didn't have time to be involved with all these political debates. Part of the problem with Rome expanding was that the armies had to be run constantly which led to average people with lives back home being unable to look after said home. The same applies to the Senate. And even if the Roman method of education was really poor by our current standards (With much of it being rote memorization of speeches) the poor couldn't afford that education.

Literacy and education are a luxury that we in our modern world are very fortunate to have and, at least with the USA, be able to give to most of the population. How systems work in older times are not the same as how they work now, everyone should be thinking about what it actually means to be this or that in other time periods. You could read about someone refusing to see a doctor in the middle ages and think they were being stubborn and stupid but there was a time where doctors were much more likely to kill you than any other method of healing someone told you because of poor understanding of the body and lack of knowledge of things like sanitation.

Specter Von Baren:
Something I'm seeing here is talk about how the Senate was corrupt because of being rich and powerful individuals that didn't let others into their fold, but ask this, why is this seen as bad?

Because the Marian reforms as exemplified by Sulla and copypasta'd by Caesar and Crassus meant soldiers tied their affiliations to patricians and wealthy Socii with a shitload of coin rather than the citystate of Rome itself, thus allowing said generals to literally march on the city or often suddenly withdraw their protection.

Effectively creating a mercenarial system where power fell to the most ambitious and rich often with cataclysmic circumstances that would constantly lead to brutal civil war and disastrous military campaigns liberated by any oversight, between anyone with suitable coin and megalomania to simply buy Roman soldiers and desired glory over the beefits of the empire of the late Republic...

It would be like if Microsoft could buy half the U.S. armed forces, and declare war on Japan to get rid of Nintendo and Sony. Basically precisely that fucked up... and then Microsoft declaring itself dictator over the United States because who the fuck would stand in its way? The Late Republic was basically cyberpunk style corporations as governments, only with swords and sandals.

The late Republic is essentially every free market-type's wet dream.... precisely because they share the same megalomania of self-importance and complete lack of empathy to do nothing but secure their sense of entitled greed, regardless of the quatifiable mass of human suffering that would cause. And who the fuck would stop them when they've already bought all the police? Basically what they've done now, already, across the world, only less obvious than back in the late Republic.

Sulla is totally my bae, tho.

[quote="Specter Von Baren" post="528.1056587.24288808"]Something I'm seeing here is talk about how the Senate was corrupt because of being rich and powerful individuals that didn't let others into their fold, but ask this, why is this seen as bad?

Because a government body that only thinks of the interest of their own particularly group without leaving any room for this group to increase will only seek to cater to an incredibly small amount of people. The senate dragged its heels on the piracy issue because it sure would be inconvenient for those senators if someone got credit for fixing it, and for this the people sailing the Mediterranean or living in coastal cities had to pay a price. Letting Caesars land reform bill pass would benefit the plebs rather than the senators so it had to be obstructed and so on.

A government should try to take responsibility for the entire nation, the entire empire and the entire republic but a corrupt oligarchy only seeks to take care of itself.

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