in Ancient Rome

  • longer service in and after the II Punic War (cf. the story of Spurius Ligustinus)
  • recruiting difficulties, both in terms of numbers and in terms of conditions of service far from home
  • Some set up financial companies to bid on the right to collect taxes in various provinces; tax contracts were sold at Rome by the Censors, but administered under the control of provincial governors (who were not above accepting bribes).
  • From 149 B.C., there are enough complaints at Rome from Provincials that a permanent court is set up with a specially assigned Praetor to deal exclusively with provincial maladministration Quaestio de repetundis.
  • In exchange for political support, the brothers Gracchi offered the Equites the seats on the jury in the Quaestio de repetundis; this politicized 'justice' along lines of financial interest, tax farmers against or in collusion with honest senatorial governors.
  • by Caesar's time, ca. 46 B.C., there were 500,000 living off the grain dole in Rome.
  • Many were ex-slaves (freedmen, liberti), with non-Italian heritages.
  • They desire generous office seekers (thus, the cost of campaigns increases).
  • They desire successful military commanders, to provide entertainment, gifts of money and food, new buildings, and money to provide subsidized grain.
  • They are willing to vote for the ideas of ambitious Tribunes of the People.
  • various ethnic groups, other than Greeks, living in Italy, with partial Roman citizenship rights
  • They were required to provide military service (as auxilia), but they were subject to harsher discipline, got less pay and booty than legionaries, and had virtually no chance at higher command in the military.
  • Their municipalities were subject to 'visitation' by Roman officials, who were arrogant, avaricious, and sometimes homicidal; justice denied.
These were young and ambitious members of noble families, or successful military men (C. Marius, for example), who see no chance to rise to power without short-circuiting the traditional system.
  • They make proposals to the Concilium Plebis as agents of ambitious generals, thereby interfering with traditional senatorial control over foreign policy and war making.
  • They sell their services (including their veto power) to senatorial interests or the interests of a generalissimo (e.g. Julius Caesar's outright purchase of the services of Curio the Younger).
  • They sponsor appropriate legislation to satisfy the needs or desires of the clientage of their patrons.
  • They become more willing to engage in violence to get their legislation through, against senatorial opposition (who also engage in violence).
complaints about:
  • corrupt senatorial governors
  • arrogant Roman citizens who are allowed to staff juries in provinces, and who always vote pro-Roman
  • inability to get (fair) hearings from the Senate at Rome
  • corruption of juries in Rome
Their solution is to 'buy' patrons with 'gifts', thereby fueling the increasing expense and corruption in politics and justice (e.g. the Verres case)
-More than 1.5 million slaves brought to Rome between 200 and 150 B.C.
-Agricultural slaves replaced free citizen-commoners as casual labor or tenant farmers on country estates.
-Agricultural slaves often used in the herding industry.
-Slave revolts:
  • 135-132: Sicily (Syrian and Cappadocian slaves prominent)
  • 73-71: Campania and central Italy (Spartacus Slave Revolt)
    fear on the part of the Roman ruling classes of disorders
SCIPIO AEMILIANUS: conqueror of Carthage (146 B.C.) and of the Spaniards at Numantia (133 B.C.). Assassinated while engaged in political maneuvering in the wake of the murder to Tiberius Gracchus his brother-in-law.

GAIUS MARIUS: the winner of the Jugurthine War in Africa and the Gallic Wars; consul seven times (four of them in immediate succession, in contravention of the law); when he died (in bed!) in 86, and his son committed suicide during the civil war against Sulla, the patronage of the Marius interests would eventually fall to his nearest male relative, his wife's sister's son, Julius Caesar.

L. CORNELIUS SULLA: at first Marius' quaestor, later his chief competitor for power, winner of the first war against King Mithradates VI of Pontus; conducted a civil war against Rome (82-81), followed by proscriptions of his enemies; forced the legislation of a new constitution, using the most dubious methods, including violence.

MARCUS CRASSUS a profiteer in the Sullan regime, he became the richest man in Rome; the winner of the war against the slaves (Spartacus Revolt); consul in 70 B.C., with Pompeius; an enemy of Pompey, but one of the three Triumvirs (60-53 B.C.) and consul in 55; killed during his expedition against the Parthians (53 B.C.)

POMPEY 'the Great' (106–48 B.C.) Winner of a campaign against the defeated forces of Marius in Spain (The Sertorian War, 70's B.C.), of the Spartacus Revolt (71), of the Pirate War (40 days in 67 B.C.), and the Third Mithridatic War (66–63 B.C.), during which he added 12.1 million new subjects to the Roman Empire. He formed a partnership with Caesar and Crassus (First Triumvirate, 60-53 B.C.) to dominate the government of Rome, and married Caesar's daughter. Consul with Crassus in 55, and sole consul in 52, he turned against Caesar and did much to bring about the Civil War (49-45), at the beginning of which he lost his life, on the shores of Egypt, near Alexandria (48).

JULIUS CAESAR (100–44 B.C.) Pontifex Maximus (63-44 B.C.); Praetor in 62; successful governorship in Farther Spain and Lusitania (61-60); consul in 59; proconsul in the Gauls and Illyria 59-49; winner of a series of civil wars against the intransigent Senate, against Pompey and his sons, 49-45 B.C. (Dyrrachium, Pharsalus, Alexandria, Zela, Thapsus, Munda); Dictator for Life. Assassinated by his friends, March 15, 44. B.C.
Suetonius, "Life of Julius Caesar"

MARCUS ANTONIUS (ca. 83–30 B.C.): His grandfather was a triumphator and prominent orator, his father an ineffectual fighter against the Cretan pirates (d. 74), his uncle (consul 63 B.C.) a traitor; he was a lieutenant of Julius Caesar in the struggles of the late 50's leading to the Civil War (49-45). Consul at the time of Caesar's assassination, he claimed the patronage of the Caesarian faction, entered into a Triumvirate with Young Caesar (Augustus) and M. Aemilius Lepidus, which collapsed with the defeat of Lepidus at Naulochus in September, 36. He wanted to carry out Caesar's planned campaign against the Parthians, and he tried, with only modest successes, to do so. He offended Roman feeling by taking up with Cleopatra VII and abandoning his Roman wife, Young Caesar's sister Octavia. By distributing Roman territories in the East to his lover and her children, he made himself obnoxious to the whole of Italy.

CAESAR AUGUSTUS (63 B.C.–14 A.D.) Born Cn. Octavius, he was adopted by his grand-uncle Julius Caesar in his Will. He defeated Antonius and Cleopatra at Actium on 2 September, 31 B.C. and again at Alexandria in July and August of 30 B.C. He created the Roman Empire and the position of Emperor (Princeps, Imperator). It fell to him to work out the ways of dealing with the pressure groups whose competing interests had brought down the Republic. His efforts over a period of 43 years were largely a success.


May 29, 2009 1:09 PM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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