Dictatorship
Up Rise to Power Important Friends and Enemies Significant Events Dictatorship Assassination Assessment

 

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During this expedition, moreover, he intended to dig through the isthmus of Corinth, and had already put Anienus in charge of this work; he intended also to divert the Tiber just below the city into a deep channel, give it a bend towards Circeium, and make it empty into the sea at Terracina, thus contriving for merchantmen a safe as well as an easy passage to Rome; and besides this, to convert marshes about Pomentinum and Setia into a plain which many thousands of men could cultivate; and further, to build moles which should barricade the sea where it was nearest to Rome, to clear away the hidden dangers on the shore of Ostia, and then construct harbours and roadsteads sufficient for the great fleets that would visit them. And all these things were in preparation." Plutarch

"The adjustment of the calendar, however, and the correction of the irregularity in the computation of time, were not only studied scientifically by him, but also brought to completion, and proved to be of the highest utility. For not only in very ancient times was the relation of the lunar to the solar year in great confusion among the Romans, so that the sacrificial feasts and festivals, diverging gradually, at last fell in opposite seasons of the year, but also at this time people generally had no way of computing the actual solar year;"  Plutarch

 

" At that time some wished to gratify him by voting him one honour after another, while others treacherously included extravagant honours, and published them, so that he might become an object of envy and suspicion to all. Caesar was of a guileless disposition and was unskilled in political practices by reason of his foreign campaigns, so that he was easily taken in by these people, supposing naturally enough, that their commendations came rather from men who admired him than from men who were plotting against him."  Nicolaus of Damascus

His other words and actions, however, so far outweigh all his good qualities, that it is thought he abused his power, and was justly cut off. For he not only obtained excessive honours, such as the consulship every year, the dictatorship for life, and the censorship, but also the title of emperor [86], (46) and the surname of FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY [87], besides having his statue amongst the kings [88], and a lofty couch in the theatre. He even suffered some honours to be decreed to him, which were unbefitting the most exalted of mankind; such as a gilded chair of state in the senate-house and on his tribunal, a consecrated chariot, and banners in the Circensian procession, temples, altars, statues among the gods, a bed of state in the temples, a priest, and a college of priests dedicated to himself, like those of Pan; and that one of the months should be called by his name. There were, indeed, no honours which he did not either assume himself, or grant to others, at his will and pleasure. In his third and fourth consulship, he used only the title of the office, being content with the power of dictator, which was conferred upon him with the consulship; and in both years he substituted other consuls in his room, during the three last months; so that in the intervals he held no assemblies of the people, for the election of magistrates, excepting only tribunes and ediles of the people; and appointed officers, under the name of praefects, instead of the praetors, to administer the affairs of the city during his absence. The office of consul having become vacant, by the sudden death of one of the consuls the day before the calends of January [the 1st Jan.], he conferred it on a person who requested it of him, for a few hours. Assuming the same licence, and regardless of the customs of his country, he appointed magistrates to hold their offices for terms of years. He granted the insignia of the consular dignity to ten persons of pretorian rank. He admitted into the senate some men who had been made free of the city, and even natives of Gaul, who were semi-barbarians. (47) He likewise appointed to the management of the mint, and the public revenue of the state, some servants of his own household; and entrusted the command of three legions, which he left at Alexandria, to an old catamite of his, the son of his freed-man Rufinus     Suetonius

 

"They granted him, then, permission to do whatever he wished to those who had favoured Pompey's cause, not that he had not already received this right from himself, but in order that he might seem to be acting with some show of legal authority. They appointed him arbiter of war and peace with all mankind using the conspirators in Africa as a pretext without the obligation even of making any communication on the subject to the people or the senate. This, of course, also lay in his power before, inasmuch as he had so large an armed force; at any rate the wars he had fought he had undertaken on his own authority in nearly every case. Nevertheless, because they wished still to appear to be free and independent citizens, they voted him these rights and everything else which it was in his power to have even against their will. Thus he received the privilege of being consul for five consecutive years and of being chosen dictator, not for six months, but for an entire year, and he assumed the tribunician authority practically for life; for he secured the right of sitting with the tribunes upon the same benches and of being reckoned with them for other purposes a privilege which was permitted to no one. All the elections except those of the plebs now passed into his hands, and for this reason they were delayed till after his arrival and were held toward the close of the year. In the case of the governorships in subject territory the citizens pretended to allot themselves those which fell to the consuls, but voted that Caesar should give the others to the praetors without the casting of lots; for they had gone back to consuls and praetors again contrary to their decree. And they also granted another privilege, which was customary, to be sure, but in the corruption of the times might cause hatred and resentment: they decreed that Caesar should hold a triumph for the war against Juba and the Romans who fought with him, just as if had been the victor, although, as a matter of fact, he had not then so much as heard that there was to be such a war" Cassius Dio

The remains of the Basilica Julia

 

Remains of the Basilica Julia dedicated by Caesar in 46BC

In spite of his clear, swift vision, intense intellect, and will of steel, the program of reforms launched by his initiative had included no far-reaching reconstructions of the machinery of the state, which after his death reverted to anarchy. "  Michael Grant

" His rule began as a triumph of a faction in civil war; he made it his task to transcend faction, and in doing so wrought his own destruction. A champion of the people, he had to curb the People's rights, as Sulla had done. To rule , he needed the support of the nobiles, yet he had to curtail their privileges and repress there dangerous ambitions.... In name and function, Caesar's office was to set the state in order." Syme

 

Cleopatra in Rome meeting Caesar

Caesar's meeting with Cleopatra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

coin of Caesar

"If  , after your victory, you leave the Commonwealth in its present state, you must be anxious lest your divine capacity for achievement should engender more amazement than praise,

"Tribunals must be set up, loyalty and faith revived; the license that was rife on all sides must be checked; a new generation must be brought on; everything that had dissolved and drifted apart must be bound together again by strict laws.' Cicero in a speech to the Senate

 " It is to the honour of Caesar, that when he had obtained the supreme power, he exercised it with a degree of moderation beyond what was generally expected by those who had fought on the side of the Republic".

  Then turning his attention to the reorganisation of the state, he reformed the calendar, which the negligence of the pontiffs had long since so disordered, through their privilege of adding months or days at pleasure, that the harvest festivals did not come in summer nor those of the vintage in the autumn; and he adjusted the year to the sun's course by making it consist of three hundred and sixty-five days, abolishing the intercalary month, and adding one day every fourth year. Furthermore, that the correct reckoning of seasons might begin with the next Kalends of January, he inserted two other months between those of November and December; hence the year in which these arrangements were made was one of fifteen months, including the intercalary month, which belonged to that year according to the former custom.

  He filled the vacancies in the senate, enrolled additional patricians, and increased the number of praetors, aediles, and quaestors, as well as of the minor officials; he reinstated those who had been degraded by official action of the censors or found guilty of bribery by verdict of the jurors. He shared the elections with the people on this basis: that except in the case of the consulship, half of the magistrates should be appointed by the people's choice, while the rest should be those whom he had personally nominated. And these he announced in brief notes like the following, circulated in each tribe: "Caesar the Dictator to this or that tribe. I commend to you so and so, to hold their positions by your votes." He admitted to office even the sons of those who had been proscribed. He limited the right of serving as jurors to two classes, the equestrian and senatorial orders, disqualifying the third class, the tribunes of the treasury.

He made the enumeration of the people neither in the usual manner nor place, but from street to street aided by the owners of blocks of houses, and reduced the number of those who received grain at public expense from three hundred and twenty thousand to one hundred and fifty thousand. And to prevent the calling of additional meetings at any future time for purposes of enrolment, he provided that the places of such as died should be filled each year by the praetors from those who were not on the list.

 Moreover, to keep up the population of the city, depleted as it was by the assignment of eighty thousand citizens to colonies across the sea, he made a law that no citizen older than twenty or younger than forty, who was not detained by service in the army, should be absent from Italy for more than three successive years; that no senator's son should go abroad except as the companion of a magistrate or on his staff; and that those who made a business of grazing should have among their herdsmen at least one-third who were men of free birth. He conferred citizenship on all who practised medicine at Rome, and on all teachers of the liberal arts, to make them more desirous of living in the city and to induce others to resort to it.

As to debts, he disappointed those who looked for their cancellation, which was often agitated, but finally decreed that the debtors should satisfy their creditors according to a valuation of their possessions at the price what they had paid for them before the civil war, deducting from the principal whatever interest had been paid in cash or pledged through bankers; an arrangement which wiped out about a fourth part of their indebtedness. He dissolved all guilds, except those of ancient foundation. He increased the penalties for crimes; and inasmuch as the rich involved themselves in guilt with less hesitation because they merely suffered exile, without any loss of property, he punished murderers of freemen by the confiscation of all their goods, as Cicero writes, and others by the loss of one-half.

 He administered justice with the utmost conscientiousness and strictness. Those convicted of extortion he even dismissed from the senatorial order. He annulled the marriage of an ex-praetor, who had married a woman the very day after her divorce, although there was no suspicion of adultery. He imposed duties on foreign wares. He denied the use of litters and the wearing of scarlet robes or pearls to all except those of a designated position and age, and on set days. section 2In particular he enforced the laws against extravagance, setting watchmen in various parts of the market, to seize and bring to him dainties which were exposed for sale in violation of the law; and sometimes he sent his lictors and soldiers to take from a dining-room any articles which had escaped the vigilance of his watchmen, even after they had been served.

  In particular, for the adornment and convenience of the city, also for the protection and extension of the Empire, he formed more projects and more extensive ones every day: first of all, to rear a temple of Mars, greater than any in existence, filling up and levelling the pool in which he had exhibited the sea-fight, and to build a theatre of vast size, sloping down from the Tarpeian rock; to reduce the civil code to fixed limits, and of the vast and prolix mass of statutes to include only the best and most essential in a limited number of volumes; to open to the public the greatest possible libraries of Greek and Latin books, assigning to Marcus Varro the charge of procuring and classifying them; to drain the Pomptine marshes; to let out the water from Lake Fucinus; to make a highway from the Adriatic across the submit of the Apennines as far as the Tiber; to cut a canal through the Isthmus; to check the Dacians, who had poured into Pontus and Thrace; then to make war on the Parthians by way of Lesser Armenia, but not to risk a battle with them until he had first tested their mettle.

All these enterprises and plans were cut short by his death.'

 Suetonius

 

 

 

 

 

" He was wholly taken up, at least at first, with administrative, organizational and social problems....They were often best solved by one who enjoyed monarchical authority; and Caesar was adept at solving them. Here  his passion for achievement came into its own.......He now ruled the empire as he had once ruled his army."  Meier

" Caesar responded to the need with restless energy in the intervals between his campaigns abroad: in view of the short time that he spent in Rome the amount and variety of legislation that he sponsored is amazing and its incompleteness understandable."  Scullard

" Plutarch faults Caesar for promulgating legislative proposals during his first consulship in 59BC that were designed" simply to please the commonality." "Neither Plutarch nor Dio allow that Caesar might have pursued reformist policies because he was responding to popular pressure and because he believed such reforms were just and beneficial to Rome and its people."  Parenti

Temple of Julius Caesar, completed by Augustus, after Caesar's death

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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