Essay about The Downfall Of Julius Caesar

Essay about The Downfall Of Julius Caesar

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In this essay I will argue that the ultimate failure of Pompey in his struggle with Julius Caesar was due to Pompey’s lack of risk-taking and his inability to predict Caesar’s strategies. I will then contrast this to Caesar’s riskier strategies which would eventually lead to his triumph over Pompey. I shall cover the major battles, Ilerda, Dyrrhacchium and Pharsalus in order to assess how and why Pompey eventually lost against Caesar.

Tensions between Caesar and Pompey had grown more noticeable after the death of Crassus in 53BC. Caesar and Pompey came into conflict again when Pompey was granted sole consulship under the Senatus Consultum Ultimum (52BC) to combat the mob that had risen up to avenge Clodius’ death. Whilst Pompey was sole consul he instituted a law that prevented the holding of an office in absentia. Suetonius mentions that the bill that forbade the holding of offices in absentia was accidentally passed by Pompey before he could exempt Caesar from its conditions. However, Scullard writes that Pompey needed to take Caesar into consideration; this was done by proposing another bill that would allow Caesar to finish his Gallic command and step straight into the consulship.

Naturally, Caesar was not pleased by the idea of having to physically enter Rome, a city infested with his enemies, in order to stand for the consulship. Caesar wrote that he was being robbed of his prerogative (to hold an office in absentia) and that the people would vote for his position as a candidate for the next consulship. This suggests that Pompey had either not thought about making Caesar exempt from the bill or had been manipulated by members of the Senate who opposed Caesar. This links back to the idea that Pompey failed in his st...


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... an ignoble way or that he realised that he could now never make a demonstration of his mercy by showing Pompey his clementia.

In conclusion, Pompey’s ultimate defeat came from his underestimating the true ingenuity of Caesar which manifested itself in acts of extreme daring that would either pay dividends or lead to utter failure. This was due to the fact that it would have been difficult for Pompey to predict what course of action to take against Caesar as he had the habit of mobilising his forces and making very swift attacks against his enemies. Also, Caesar’s forces had been trained to great skill via the Gallic campaigns which meant that they possessed a discipline that outranked the skill of Pompey’s forces. Pompey failed through his unwillingness to take the extreme risks that Caesar, crossing the Rubicon, was prepared to accept if it brought him victory.

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