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Civil War on Pompey

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Civil War on Pompey

In 49 B.C., Gaius Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his army, declaring civil war on Pompey and his supporters in the Senate. In this paper, I will explore the political and legal issues that pushed Caesar to the brink.

Looking at Rome’s political struggles at the dawn of the first century B.C., it becomes apparent that the groundwork for Caesar’s Republic shattering revolt was lain down by Marius and Sulla. To be more specific, the stage was set by the class struggles between the Aristocracy, who demanded control of the Republic by virtue of tradition, and the masses, which demanded a voice.

Marius made a major step in pushing the Republic towards constitutional upheaval when, in 107 B.C., he abolished the property requirements for military service (Meier, 29). Not only did these impoverished soldiers depend on their commander rather than the State for their fiscal support, but they were also promised land in newly conquered provinces upon the completion of the service. While enlarging the pool from which the Roman Army drew its volunteer soldiers, this change in policy brought about a dangerous shift in political power. It was for this reason that the Senate opposed nearly every land law placed before it. If a gifted commander was able to enrich his soldiers through plunder, and give them land to settle after the campaign, “the soldiers might feel a greater obligation to their commander than to the Senate (Meier, 29).” This circumstance is an essential ingredient for civil war, more so, possible, than any other.

In 88 B.C., King Mithridates of Pontus invaded the Roman Province of Asia. Cornelius Sulla, one of the consuls, was chosen to lead the Roman legions against him by the Senate....

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...ials and tribulations during the 51 years before Caesar’s revolt. Rome’s political systems were in such a degraded state that had Caesar been unsuccessful; someone else would have shortly followed. It was the actions of Marius and Sulla, not the ambitious dreams of a young man, which were ultimately responsible.

Works Cited

Dickinson, John. Death of a Republic. New York, Macmillan, 1963.

Meier, Christian. Caesar. New York: BasicBooks/HarperCollins, 1995.

Sabben-Clare, J. P. Caesar and Roman Politics 60-50 B.C.: source material in translation. Bristol: Bristol Classics, 1981.

Plutarch. Fall of the Roman Republic. Trans. Rex Warner. New York: Penguin USA, 1972.

Caesar, C. Julius. Civil Wars. Trans. A. G. Peskett. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Caesar, C. Julius. The Gallic Wars. Trans. H. J. Edwards, C.B. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
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