Opposition to C. Julius Caesar: Motives, Methods, Successes and the Question of Tyranny.
Keywordscaesar, roman republic, politics, roman law, voting assemblies, roman senate, pompey, cicero, cato minor
21 History and Archaeology
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AbstractThis thesis examines the motives, methods and successes of opposition to C. Julius Caesar in the period 60-50 leading to the outbreak of civil war in 49. An attempt has been made to distinguish between traditional and innovative methods of opposition. An evaluation of creativity levels and the social acceptability of actions has been conducted in an effort to understand adherence to moral standards in the pre-war period. In Chapter 2, opposition to Caesar in 60 and 59 is examined and found to be fierce, persistent and, despite Caesar ultimately achieving his aims, successful in a limited way. Chapter 3 examines the circumstances of 58-57. Caesar’s position was more firmly secured through the agency of Clodius’ tribunate, during which Cicero was exiled and Cato was removed from the political scene for both political and personal reasons. Examination of opposition to Caesar in Chapter 4 focuses on the period 56-54. It is demonstrated that prior to the conferences of Luca and Ravenna, opposition to Caesar was broadly undertaken by groups or individuals who fomented dissent between Crassus and Pompey in order to undermine the triumvirate as a whole. In 55 opposition to Caesar was nullified by a renewal of the triumvirate. In 54 opposition was resurgent and dominated the courts with limited success. In Chapter 5, opposition to Caesar in the period 53-50 is examined and is shown to be marked by anarchy, attempted reforms and the disintegration of the triumviral alliance. Given widespread impressions of pressure, corruption, violence and breakdown, especially in modern accounts of the period, it is suprising to discover that tactics used by Caesar’s opponents were traditional and socially acceptable for the most part, despite vehement political and personal disagreement. The will of the people was still respected by Caesar’s opponents; popular opinion in 59 was in fact the cause of opposition failure. While the Republic had suffered civil war in the opening decades of the first century BC, the state had resumed constitutional operation prior to 60. Traditional moral values and methods of gaining rank and prestige were still important and continued to be adhered to after 60. Methods of influence and social communication remained largely unchanged in the 50s, and ensured the continuity of political exchange without substantial innovation. From 56 to 54 opposition methods were opportunistic, a result of the renewal of the triumvirate. Caesar’s opponents continued to adhere to traditional political practice, despite dominance of the political machinary by the triumvirate. In 54 Caesar’s opponents gained control of the law courts, which resulted in numerous trials but no break with traditional or socially acceptable behaviour. Opposition between 53 and 50 remained traditional in most cases within an environment marked by anarchy and political stalemate, fueled by the intransigence of Caesar and Pompey who refused to recognise each others’ dignitas. The Civil War, then, was not caused by an extended period of constitutional instability. The Civil War was the result of political deadlock at the end of the 50s, motivated by the social and political inflexibility of a small group of Senators.