Ceasar Essay, Research Paper
Caesar the Politician
Ronald Syme, the author of the assigned passage, is one of the leading ancient historians of the present. He was an Oxford professor, and wrote the Roman Revolution in the late 1930?s. To Syme, one-person rule was not appealing to him. He lived in a time of WWII, and leaders like Hitler. By the time Syme began to write, there was much more research on the dismal side of Caesar?s monarchy than earlier authors, such as Theodor Mommsen had. Syme argues that in the ?Roman Revolution?, Caesar could not control the new social group he acquired. Caesar surpassed his peers because of his intelligence and luck. His dictatorship, says Syme, led to his assassination.
History sometimes hinted that Caesar had monarchy on his mind from the beginning. He felt he could cure the world?s problems through armed forces. However, Caesar did not like war. He repeatedly tried to negotiate with enemies like Pompeius before battling. Pompeius was afraid that Caesar would take over the government and reform the state, which is why he was chosen to save the oligarchy. Caesar knew Pompeius had a small army. Caesar had the majority in the senate, and knew they would back him in any military decision.
Caesar was probably not even supposed to stand for the consulate, but his followers clouded legal matters so he could do so. Caesar was the kind of person that never wanted anyone to know if his rank, prestige, or honor was in jeopardy. To cast a shadow on these times, exceptions had always taken place legally for Caesar. Caesar publicly took interest in defending the tribunes and the liberties of the Roman People, but what he valued most was his dignitas, or personal honor.
Caesar?s enemies had a choice between civil war and trying to evict him politically. They said his authority was illegitimate and the proconsul was rebellious. Many thought the people of Italy would come together to throw out Caesar, but he made sure his dignitas was protected.
He gathered troops and simultaneously confidence, as he mastered Italy by crossing the Rubicon.
The odds lay against Caesar until his legions joined at Pharsalus. Luck and the loyalty of his legions brought him to a victory. For the next three years, Caesar ?cleaned up? what was left of Pompeius? armies. These enemies may not have won the war, but they did stop Caesar from glorifying his aristocracy. They made sure he knew that he was responsible for killing his peers in war.
Caesar brought it upon himself to establish his dictatorship. This was not wise after winning a war, because to the Roman people, it was a true sign of monarchy. Caesar essentially knew that at some point his enemies were going to come after him because unlike in the triumvirate, as one, he was vulnerable. However, he had the title of dictator as a shield. With a title such as this, he had much protection and control over the lives of the people because he could put to death anyone that argued his word.
Caesar?s most profound mistake was not rebuilding the ravages from the war, and regenerating the people socially to ensure their lasting protection and prosperity. Instead, he set out for war again. In war, Caesar could take pride in his victories, and disregard the actuality of the problems in Rome. The decisions in war and even some laws of Caesar were made swiftly, without deliberation, or concern of the consequences of the future. He did not proclaim any intentions or goals for the Roman Society besides victory in war. Without these, he could not be an efficient leader, and the citizens started to realize this.
Caesar quickly became well aware that he had become unpopular with the citizens of Rome for not paying attention to their needs.
Caesar?s enemies wanted him removed from office immediately. As a result, he was assassinated. After his death, the Caesarian party lived on, and filtered into a national government in a transformed senate. The assassination of Caesar took place because of the person that Caesar was not what he might have become. His dictatorship did not allow room for new laws, forces, or ideas of the people to be put in effect. Making himself first among his peers, Caesar lost the respect and support of many of his allies. Without this support, he couldn?t be an adequate statesman.
Caesar can be judged only by facts, not intentions, for only Caesar knew what those were. Factually, we can extract from his writings, and those of the other authors of his time, that Caesar was a realist and an opportunist. However, his time was cut too short for Caesar to actually establish a strong form of government, based on his intentions. Caesar?s game plan shall forever remain a mystery, making it difficult for modern historians to arbitrate the man that Caesar truly was.