BECK index

Roman Revolution and Civil Wars

Reforms of the Gracchi Brothers
Marius and Sulla
Pompey, Crassus, Caesar, and Cato
Julius Caesar Dictator
Brutus, Octavian, Antony and Cleopatra

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Reforms of the Gracchi Brothers

Roman Expansion to 133 BC

Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus were the sons of Sempronius Gracchus and Cornelia, the daughter of Scipio Africanus. When Tiberius was serving as quaestor in Spain, the Numantines insisted on negotiating with the son of the man who had treated the Iberians better than other Romans, who often went back on their promises. Plutarch credited Tiberius Gracchus with saving the lives of 20,000 Roman citizens in the agreement, though the senate rejected it and sent the commander Mancinus in chains back to Numantia, which having plundered the Roman camp nonetheless gave back the financial ledgers Tiberius requested. In traveling through Etruria to Numantia, Tiberius had noticed how citizen farmers had been replaced by foreign slaves.

So as tribune in 133 BC Tiberius Gracchus proposed a land reform bill that was supported by the consul Mucius Scaevola and Publius Crassus, the richest Roman. The Licinian law of 367 BC, prohibiting anyone from owning more than 330 acres, was being ignored. Though those owning more than this were actually criminals, Tiberius' proposal would compensate them with no rent on the public lands they would now own in perpetuity up to this legal limit, and sons could retain another 165 acres each; the rest would be distributed to the poor by a commission of himself, his brother, and his father-in-law. Tiberius argued that the soldiers and their families were homeless and deserved to share in the increased Roman wealth. Nonetheless the wealthy landowners opposed the bill and persuaded tribune Marcus Octavius to veto it. So Tiberius introduced a more severe bill ordering the illegal owners to vacate the land with no compensation, and he offered to pay Octavius with his own money for the extensive lands he would lose; but Octavius refused, and a meeting with the senate was in vain. Frustrated, Tiberius proposed that Octavius be removed from the tribuneship; the tribes voted unanimously for this, and Octavius was dragged away. The land reform law was passed, though the senate resisted providing its expenses.

Going against tradition again, Tiberius was the first tribune in two centuries to be re-elected and proposed that the money left to the Roman people in the will of Attalus III be used to help citizens stock and cultivate these farms; he also reduced the period of military service that had been from age 17 to 46, gave the people the right to appeal jury verdicts, and added to the senators serving on juries an equal number of knights. However, as 31 rural tribes dominated the four urban tribes and because many of his supporters were busy with the harvest, these proposals of Tiberius were not going to pass. In the turmoil rumors spread that the rich had hired assassins to kill Tiberius and that a gesture he had made toward his head recognizing this was interpreted by his opponents as his asking for a crown. Led by Scipio Nasica, the senators and their followers, armed with clubs, staves, and broken benches, attacked Tiberius Gracchus, killing him and 300 others and throwing their bodies into the Tiber. Some of the supporters of Tiberius were banished, and others including the rhetorician Diophanes were executed. This was the first major outbreak of civil violence in Rome since the expulsion of the kings nearly four centuries before.

The senate attempted to conciliate the people by allowing the distribution of the land to proceed and by appointing Publius Crassus to the commission. Threatened with impeachment, Nasica was sent to Asia. After three years the rebellion in Sicily involving 75,000 self-liberated slaves was brutally put down by the Roman legions of consul Rupilius. Although Attalus III had bequeathed the kingdom of Pergamum to Rome, Aristonicus claimed the throne and was supported by a similar revolt of slaves calling themselves citizens of the sun, who defeated and killed Crassus, then consul and the first chief priest to leave Italy. The legions of consul Marcus Perperna subdued them though, and Aristonicus was executed at Rome. The eastern portion of this kingdom was assigned to client kings to control the frontiers; Telmissus went to the Lycian confederacy, lands in Thrace to the province of Macedonia, and by 129 BC the rest had been organized as the province of Asia in the Roman empire.

Scipio Aemilianus got the land commission replaced by the consuls, who did little, and supporting Italians' right to citizenship, he angered urban Romans and was found mysteriously dead one morning. Young Gaius Gracchus went to Sardinia as quaestor and used his oratorical skill touring cities and pleading for clothing to relieve the army. In 125 BC consul Fulvius Flaccus proposed citizenship for most of the Italian allies, but the senate sent him off to help Massilia (Marseilles) fight the Gauls. The bill was defeated, and the revolt by the Latin colony of Fregellae was crushed. Gaius Gracchus was elected tribune in 123 BC and proposed numerous reforms protecting citizens from banishment by magistrates without trial, dividing public lands among the poor, supplying soldiers with clothing at state expense, extending the franchise to Italians, founding colonies at Tarentum and Capua, constructing roads, and providing grain for the poor at a low price. Facing the people when he spoke instead of the senate, all these laws were passed, and Gaius was allowed to select the new jurors, now all from the equestrian order. These wealthy merchant "knights" also benefited by Rome's selling of tax collection privileges in the provinces to the highest capitalist bidders.

Gaius Gracchus successfully urged the election of Fannius as consul and was re-elected as tribune without campaigning. After visiting Africa, where a new colony was being set up on the site of destroyed Carthage, Gaius returned to Rome to find that Fannius was expelling all those not born in Rome. Gracchus denounced this policy and promised support to those who stayed, though he did nothing when one of his friends was dragged away to prison. New Gracchian reforms were undercut by demogogic proposals of consul Livius Drusus that were never implemented. According to Plutarch, Gaius was denied a third tribuneship when the election results were falsified after he had the seats for watching gladiators at the forum torn down so that magistrates would not sell them to spectators.

The party of the consul Opimius planned to revoke the Gracchi laws, and both factions gathered at the capitol. A servant of Opimius, who made an insulting gesture, was stabbed to death by a crowd with long iron writing implements. This gave Opimius the excuse to have the senate declare an emergency, as he asked the senators to arm themselves and the knights to bring two armed servants with them the next morning. Negotiation by envoy with the party of Gaius and Fulvius on the Aventine hill failed, and Opimius advanced on them with Cretan archers shooting. Gaius fled to the temple of Diana; but as rewards had been offered for his and Fulvius' heads, they both were killed. Three thousand of their supporters were also executed, and their property was confiscated. Opimius was the first consul to make himself dictator; he was prosecuted by the people's tribunal for putting people to death without a trial but acquitted, though later Opimius was convicted of bribery in the Jugurthine War.

The same year Gaius Gracchus died (121 BC), it was said that 120,000 Gauls were killed by the Roman army near the Rhone, and the new province of Transalpine Gaul or Narbonensis was added to the empire. According to Appian the knights on juries became addicted to bribes, and the rich bought the land allotments of the poor or found pretexts for taking them by force; land distribution was discontinued; rent was collected, and though some of it was distributed to the poor, after many lawsuits much unemployment resulted. In 114 BC after a Vestal virgin was killed by lightning, the Sibylline oracles were consulted, and a Greek and Gallic couple were sacrificed in the forum as had been done in 225 BC, though the senate finally banned human sacrifice in 97 BC.

Marius and Sulla

When Numidian king Micipsa died in 118 BC, his kingdom was divided between his two sons Hiempsal and Adherbal and his nephew Jugurtha, who had Hiempsal murdered. Jugurtha then attacked and defeated Adherbal, who fled to Rome. When Jugurtha had fought with Scipio Aemilianus at Numantia years before, Scipio had advised him to cultivate the friendship of Rome as a whole but warned him not to rely on his habit of bribing individual Romans. However, this habit continued, and a Roman commission awarded what some considered the better half of the kingdom to Jugurtha, who then besieged Adherbal at Cirta in 113 BC. Roman envoys demanded both sides put down their arms and persuaded Adherbal to surrender; but he was killed, and Jugurtha also massacred the Italians there. So Rome sent an army to Africa, and Jugurtha, asking for an armistice, was promised safe conduct to Rome, where a rival to his throne was assassinated by order of Jugurtha's friend Bomilcar. Questioning of Jugurtha before the senate was interrupted by those he had bribed, and as Jugurtha left the city he said, "Yonder is a city put up for sale, and its days are numbered if it finds a buyer."1

The Roman army seems to have been corrupted too, as Aulus was defeated by Jugurtha and surrendered; the senate rejected the treaty and sent consul Metellus Numidicus to Africa. A law of tribune Mamilius established a tribal court to investigate corruption, but according to Sallust the mob became as arrogant as the aristocrats by oppressively using hearsay evidence. In Numidia Metellus disciplined the army and then laid waste the countryside, letting his soldiers massacre the men and take the rest as plunder. Jugurtha surrendered, giving up 200,000 pounds of silver and all his elephants, but then he changed his mind. Metellus tried to get Bomilcar to betray his king, but Jugurtha discovered the plot and had Bomilcar executed.

Gaius Marius had become wealthy through tax collection and commanded the cavalry for Metellus, who finally allowed the commoner to go to Rome and campaign for consul. The new man was not only elected consul, but the people took over the senate's prerogative by assigning Marius to Africa, replacing Metellus. Marius was the first to change the Roman army from a militia of property owners to a professional army as he enrolled numerous proletarians. Eventually his army captured and destroyed Jugurtha's southern stronghold at Capsa; again the men were massacred, and the rest were sold into slavery, the soldiers dividing the booty. Negotiations with neighboring king Bocchus of Mauretania were carried on by Marius' quaestor Cornelius Sulla. Bocchus offered to stay in his territory and stop Jugurtha from crossing the boundary of the Muluccha River; but Sulla insisted he do something, and so Bocchus handed Jugurtha over to the Romans, who executed him in 104 BC.

Earlier Marius had been elected tribune with the help of his patron Metellus and proposed a law that weakened the nobles in the courts; he strongly defended it in the senate, even going so far as to call for the arrest of Metellus, who opposed it. Marius served as a praetor and also put down bandits in Spain. His Numidian triumph featured Jugurtha in chains and 3,007 pounds of gold, 5,775 pounds of silver, and 287,000 drachmas in coins. The law prohibiting it was ignored, as he was re-elected consul to face the threat in the north of 300,000 Teuton and the Cimbri warriors, who had already defeated the armies of several Roman consuls; 80,000 Romans had died at the Arausio River in 105 BC.

When Marius asked for assistance from the king of Bithynia, he learned that the majority of Bithynians had been seized by tax collectors and made slaves in Roman provinces. The senate decreed all citizens of allied states should be liberated, and Licinius Nerva freed 800 in Sicily. The owners complained; when he stopped freeing slaves, they revolted. As their numbers grew and Athenion organized them into an army, the rebels besieged Lilybaeum. The slave revolt lasted four years, but eventually 20,000 of them were killed. Just northwest of the Alps Marius' proletarian army defeated the Ambrones, killing and capturing 100,000. Joining with the army of Catulus, the Roman armies also routed the Teutons, taking 60,000 prisoners and killing twice that many.

By now Marius had been elected consul five years in a row. When asked why he had illegally given citizenship to a thousand Camerinians, Marius replied that the din of war had drowned the law's voice. To get elected consul a sixth time in 100 BC he allied himself with the violent tribune Saturninus and distributed much money to the voters. Plutarch wrote that Marius considered lying a sign of cleverness and had no problem getting around a law of Saturninus that made senators take an oath, which honest men like Metellus refused to take and left Rome. Failing to solve the conflict between Saturninus and the senators, Marius brought his troops into the forum and forced the aristocrats to capitulate on capital hill from lack of water. However, he was unable to prevent the mob from stoning them to death, thus angering both sides. Saturninus, who once had an election rival murdered, also was killed by a mob. Choosing not to stand again for consul and upset over the resolution allowing Metellus to return from exile, Marius went to visit Mithridates in Pontus, hoping to be put in command in the war against him; but the position went to his hated adversary and the current consul, Sulla.

In 97 BC the Roman proconsul Q. Mucius Scaevola established tribunals in Asia that corrected the wrongs of the tax collectors and made them reimburse the plaintiffs, while those who had put men to death were put on trial. With this justice and by living on his own money, Scaevola did much to reduce Asian hatred toward Rome. The next year Asellio governed Sicily with similar wisdom, as he rehabilitated the once prosperous island by relieving the oppressed, administering justice, promoting learning, and helping those in need. In Asia Scaevola's work was carried on by his advisor Rutilius Rufus, but in 92 BC this man was unjustly convicted of extortion by an equestrian jury that resented his interference in their tax collection business.

The tribune Livius Drusus attempted to confer voting citizenship on the Italian allies, but a coalition of senators, equestrians, and urban voters blocked this. Marsian chief Poppaedius marched toward Rome with 10,000 to demand these rights but was persuaded to turn back and let the senate deliberate. When Drusus was assassinated in 91 BC, the Italian action committees organized for war, and in Asculum Picenians were provoked to massacre the resident Romans. A confederation of the Marsi, Paeligni, Vestini, Picentes, Marrucini, Frentani, Samnites, Hirpini, and Lucanians put together an army of 100,000 to force their demands on Rome or gain independence. Rome called on Spaniards, Numidians, and even enrolled ex-slaves to raise fifteen legions with 150,000 men. After several battles the senate conferred Roman citizenship on the Etruscans, Umbrians, Latins, and all the Italians not in revolt, though the ten new tribes voting last had little influence. The rebellion in the north ended with the surrender of Asculum, and the south was eventually worn down by the army of Sulla in what has been called the Social War.

In 89 BC suffering debtors got Asiello to apply a long neglected law that prohibited usury, but the creditors had him murdered while he was performing a religious sacrifice. The next year tribune Sulpicius proposed distributing the Italians into the old 35 tribes including ex-slaves, unseating senators with debts greater than 2,000 denarii, and transferring command in Asia from Sulla to Marius; but the senate suspended business. So Sulpicius formed a body-guard of 600 propertied citizens he called his "anti-senate," which attacked the consuls and killed one of their sons, a mob chasing Sulla to the house of Marius, who allowed him to escape. In exchange for protection by Marius the consuls got Sulpicius' proposals passed into law; but Sulla, after killing staff officers who favored Marius and mistreating two praetors sent to stop him, marched his six legions into Rome "to deliver her from her tyrants."2 So Marius had some of Sulla's friends put to death; but his offer of freedom failing to get more than three slaves to join him, Marius fled to Libya.

After setting fire to houses of those resisting, Sulla restored order by punishing looters. The next day an assembly reinstituted the ancient traditions that no proposal could be brought before the people until it was approved by the senate and that voting should be by centuries not by tribes; tribune powers were curtailed, and 300 aristocrats were enrolled in the senate. Rewards were offered for the death of Marius, Sulpicius, and ten others; Sulpicius was soon caught and killed, but the adventures of Marius eventually brought him back to Rome. Sulla then went off to Asia to fight Mithridates, but the other consul Pompeius Rufus was murdered by the soldiers of Pompeius Strabo, whom he was sent to replace. Cinna succeeded Sulla as consul promising him loyalty, but he supported Marius' idea of distributing the new citizens into the old tribes; the other consul Octavius favored the old citizens.

Pontus king Mithridates VI (r. 120-63 BC) had occupied Galatia and Cappadocia in 104 BC, and in 88 BC he took over Bithynia and invaded the Roman province of Asia, establishing himself in Pergamum. Greatly reduced tax revenues and Mithridates' order that killed as many as 80,000 Italians made this war a priority in Rome. His son Ariarathes had invaded Thrace and Macedonia, while the fleet of his general Archelaus had subjugated the Cyclades (except Rhodes), occupied Euboea, and even took over Athens with the tyrant Aristion. Sulla's army besieged Athens and Piraeus, stole treasures from temples at Olympia, Epidaurus, and Delphi, stormed the city, and massacred most of the starving people. The priests at Delphi criticized these new generals for rising by violence rather than merit and for needing armies to fight against each other instead of against public enemies, requiring money for their soldiers, putting up their country for sale, and thus obeying the worst people. Though greatly outnumbered, Sulla's army won victories over Archelaus at Chaeronea and Orchomenus and in three years killed 160,000 men. Archelaus and Mithridates agreed to give up Asia and Paphlagonia, restore Bithynia to Nicomedes and Cappadocia to Ariobarzanes, pay 2,000 talents, and provide seventy bronze-armored ships and 500 archers. Sulla then imposed an indemnity of 20,000 talents on Asia.

Landing in Etruria, Marius offered freedom to slaves and raised an army; Cinna, joining him and appointing him proconsul, had also gathered disaffected troops from Latium and Campania. The forces of Marius took over the port of Ostia and then the Janiculan hill near Rome. A mob dragged Octavius from a public platform in the forum and murdered him. The senate invited Cinna and Marius into the city, asking them to avoid bloodshed. Marius refused to enter the gate until the people repealed his banishment. Then after his nod or mere silence his bodyguard of ex-slaves killed the enemies of Marius and committed other atrocities until Cinna and Sertorius used their troops to massacre these Bardyiae bodyguards.

News that Sulla had defeated Mithridates and was returning with his army led Cinna and Marius to declare themselves consuls for 86 BC, but Marius soon died of illness. Cinna repealed the laws of Sulla, as censors registered the new citizens; debts were reduced to a quarter of what they were, and money and exchange rates were regulated. Cinna reappointed himself consul two more times and selected Carbo as his colleague. Flaccus was sent to Asia against Mithridates, but Sulla refused to cooperate with him. Flaccus was so hated by his army that his legate Fimbria killed and replaced him; but surrounded by Sulla's army, Fimbria committed suicide after most of his soldiers deserted to Sulla. Cinna got Sulla declared a public enemy but was killed by troops mutinying at Ancona.

Crossing to Brundisium in 1200 ships, Sulla's forces swept across Italy, chasing consul Norbanus to Capua after killing 7,000. The sixteen cohorts of Sulla's commander Marcus Lucullus defeated fifty cohorts, killing 18,000. The morale of Sulla's troops proved far superior to the other Romans in this civil war, as thousands of them deserted to his side, consul Cornelius Scipio losing his entire army. At Signia Sulla defeated Marius, son of Marius, killing 20,000 and taking 8,000 prisoners. Sulla's generals Pompey, Crassus, Metellus, and Servilius were also victorious; young Pompey, having raised three legions on his own initiative, was named Great by Sulla. Carbo's army of 70,000 was defeated by Sulla, as young Marius committed suicide at Praeneste after ordering the murder of the distinguished jurist Mucius Scaevola. Sulla started by giving individual trials before execution but then ordered 12,000 herded together and slaughtered; he made certain that all his Samnite enemies were killed. Pompey defeated and killed Carbo in Sicily. At Antennae Sulla promised 3,000 men terms; but after they fought on his side, he had the survivors and a total of 6,000 massacred in the circus at Rome. 50,000 had been killed in battles around Rome, but after three years of civil war Sulla entered the imperial capital again.

Sulla published lists of his enemies, who were to be killed for rewards of two talents, confiscated their properties, and executed anyone caught helping those so proscribed; their sons were prohibited from holding offices. Ninety senators, 15 consuls, and 2600 knights were proscribed and killed or fled. From their slaves Sulla organized a bodyguard of 10,000 men he emancipated. Sulla proclaimed himself dictator with power over life and death, property, colonies, and even kingdoms, decreeing immunity for all his past actions. He appointed an Alexander king in Alexandria, but he was so offensive that the Alexandrians killed him after 19 days. Confiscated properties and colonies provided land for about 120,000 discharged soldiers. Strict requirements were made for holding offices, and Ofella was executed for standing for the consulship without having been quaestor and praetor. Sulla's laws giving the senate more power and the tribunes little were reinstituted, and all parts of the empire were required to pay tribute. After re-establishing this aristocratic republic, Sulla gave up his dictatorship and even his bodyguard, retiring to the country, where he died of illness a year later in 78 BC, the year Marcus Lepidus was elected consul.

Pompey, Crassus, Caesar, and Cato

As consul Lepidus proposed restoring the power of the tribunes, the sale of cheap grain, and giving Italians their estates back, though he had prospered more than any from buying this property at low prices. When evicted landowners in Faesulae expelled Sulla's colonists, the senate sent Lepidus to quell the revolt; but he took the side of the rebels, while his friend Junius Brutus organized insurrection in northern Italy. After Lepidus asked to run again for consul and marched forces toward Rome, the senate gave commands to Catulus and Pompey, who were supported by Sulla's veterans. Brutus surrendered to Pompey in the north, and Catulus defeated Lepidus at the Milvian bridge in Rome. Servilius attacked the pirates in Lycia, Pamphylia, and Cilicia for three years, causing them to scatter around the Mediterranean.

Sulla had sent Metellus Pius to fight Sertorius and the rebelling Lusitanians in Spain, and Rome missed the opportunity to end this war by reinstating Sertorius after Sulla's death. Using guerrilla tactics, Sertorius was rarely defeated. When 20,000 fugitives from the revolt of Lepidus led by Perperna joined Sertorius and formed an opposition senate, the Roman senate gave young Pompey proconsular power there. Sertorius educated his Iberian hostages, whom he later killed, and formed an alliance with Mithridates of Pontus. Pompey asked for more money and threatened to bring his army back to Italy if he did not get it. Rome sent the funds and passed a law pardoning those involved in Lepidus' revolt. Envying his victories he could not equal, Perperna murdered Sertorius to get command in 72 BC; but it was not long before Pompey defeated and killed Perperna. Pompey's generous settlement and pardons helped to restore prosperity to Spain, and by destroying Sertorius' correspondence he prevented prosecutions in Rome.

In 74 BC the senate established a garrison at Cyrene, making it an official Roman province. Nicomedes IV bequeathed his kingdom of Bithynia to Rome, and Mithridates, afraid of losing control of the Black Sea and to help his Spanish allies, occupied Bithynia, invaded Asia again, and destroyed a Roman fleet of a hundred ships at Chalcedon. His son-in-law, Armenian king Tigranes, invaded Cappadocia and was said to have removed 300,000 people to Armenia. Lucius Lucullus got himself appointed to command in Asia and Cilicia and was able to blockade and starve 300,000 troops of Mithridates besieging Cyzicus; then he defeated a Pontic naval squadron off Lemnos. Lucullus marched his army through Galatia, and after two tough winters and a bloody battle at Cabira he occupied Pontus with troops. In Asia he found that Roman money-lending at high interest had driven their war debts up to a staggering 120,000 talents; Lucullus reduced the obligation to 40,000 and arranged for it all to be paid within four years, saving the Asians from bankruptcy but causing resentment among equestrian capitalists.

In 73 BC the Thracian Spartacus and two Celts led a slave revolt that started with 74 gladiators in their barracks at Capua and spread through Campania. A division of 3,000 soldiers failed to trap them on Mount Vesuvius. The numbers and supplies of the robber band increased, as soldiers of two legions from Rome refused to fight and went home or were defeated. The bandits took over and plundered the south of Italy, growing to 70,000. Since all captured slaves were crucified, the insurgents also killed their prisoners or made them kill each other in mock gladiatorial contests. The next year armies of both consuls and Gaius Cassius, governor of Cisalpine Gaul, all failed to subdue the armed gangs, as the liberated Celts ravaged the south, and Spartacus led his men north to the Apennines. The praetor Crassus was appointed commander, but his first division also threw away their arms and fled. So he took these 500 men and decimated their squads by executing one out of ten so that they would fear him more than the enemy.

Spartacus led his robber army to Rhegium to find passage with pirates, who now held Syracuse; but the Cilician pirates took his payment and sailed away. Crassus had a ditch dug and a wall built for 35 miles from sea to sea, but Spartacus and most of his men broke through on a winter night and returned to Lucania. Crassus called in the army of Lucullus from Macedonia and Pompey's from Spain, though he regretted it after his army surrounded 12,300 Celts, who all fought to the death. Spartacus won a victory; but his men refused to retreat and were defeated. Pompey's army arrived to hunt down the remaining rebels, and 6,000 were crucified along the road from Capua to Rome. This last large slave revolt perhaps taught the Romans to treat their slaves better and the slaves the futility of armed insurrection.

Crassus had won the victory but not without the help of Pompey. Both stood for consul, while neither disbanded his army as the law required. Pompey was also too young and had not been quaestor or praetor, but he promised to restore the power of the tribunes. Both were elected for 70 BC, and pressured by the people and direful prophecies if they did not, Crassus and Pompey agreed to dismiss their armies. Pompey got juries of senators to include equestrians and the next wealthiest class of tribuni aerarii after Cicero's successful prosecution of Sicily governor Verres for corruption exposed the biased judicial system. The senate was purged of many Sulla nominees as the first censors appointed in sixteen years removed 64 senators. Pompey kept his promise and restored the tribunes' powers to veto, initiate legislation, and run for higher offices.

The next year without authorization by the senate Lucullus led 16,000 soldiers across the Euphrates into Armenia, where its powerful king Tigranes commented that they were too many to be ambassadors and too few to be an army. Nonetheless his 250,000 infantry and 50,000 horse were defeated by Lucullus at Tigranocerta. The weary army of Lucullus refused to chase Mithridates to his capital at Artaxata.

Fugitives from the wars and its consequent poverty had greatly increased the numbers of pirates, who with a thousand ships had captured 400 cities, destroyed the harbor at Delos, ransacked the coasts of Italy, and even cut off Rome's grain supply. Hungry Romans insisted Pompey be appointed to command a great naval force; the senate balked at giving him this power; but attacked by a mob, they agreed. In 67 BC Pompey with an army of 125,000 under 24 commanders using 500 ships cleared the pirates out of the two halves of the Mediterranean in three months. About 10,000 pirates were killed in battles, and Pompey settled more than 20,000 prisoners in thinly populated areas. The bandits' bases on Crete were subdued by forces under Metellus Creticus, and this island became a Roman province. Lucullus was recalled by the senate and replaced by Pompey, whose army completed the defeat of the Pontic forces. Mithridates escaped, but his attempt to conscript more soldiers and his killing of relatives caused a rebellion led by his son Pharnaces. The king of Pontus eventually committed suicide, and Pharnaces was given the kingdom of Bosphorus as an ally. In Rome Cotta was convicted of plundering Heraclea for his own enrichment during the Mithridatic war; but his only punishment was loss of senatorial rank, though he returned some of the spoils to the state treasury.

Gaius Julius Caesar born in 100 BC was a nephew of Marius, was proud that his family descended from the Roman king Ancus Marcius, and claimed that his Julian ancestors could be traced through Aeneas to the goddess Venus. At age 16 he married Cornelia, daughter of four-time consul Cinna. Sulla took away Caesar's priesthood, her dowry, and his inheritance when he refused to divorce her. Caesar had to hide from Sulla's secret police until Vestal virgins interceded for him. When Caesar was sent to raise a fleet in Bithynia, it was widely believed that he had a homosexual affair with King Nicomedes IV. Failing to win a prosecution of extortion against Cornelius Dolabella, Caesar went to Rhodes to study rhetoric with its greatest current teacher Apollonius Molo. At sea he was captured by pirates, and while waiting for the ransom of fifty talents he joked that he would later capture and crucify them, which he did. Like Pompey, Caesar raised his own forces, which he used to win back cities in Asia during the Mithridatic war.

In 65 BC Julius Caesar used his aedileship to gain popularity by providing shows of wild-beast hunts and plays; he tried to get himself elected governor of Egypt, but this was thwarted by the new man Cicero. Caesar reacted by replacing the public monuments to Marius' victories that Sulla had destroyed. Crassus was censor and got Calpurnius Piso appointed governor of Spain, but he ruled so badly that a Spaniard soon murdered him. Crassus and Caesar were suspected of trying to take over the government with two consuls, who were convicted of bribery and corruption. Cicero also stopped their attempt to establish a commission to control the land that Pompey's veterans would soon be wanting. Cicero then was elected consul over Catiline, the candidate supported by Crassus. Caesar was elected pontifex maximus (chief priest) and praetor by borrowing money to win over voters. Caesar divorced Pompeia, because she was merely suspected of adultery with Clodius in a sacrilegious scandal; but by not charging Clodius with adultery Caesar gained him as an ally.

Pompey attempted to order the chaos of the disintegrating Seleucid empire, where Nabataeans had taken over Damascus. John Hyrcanus and Aristobulus asked Pompey to settle their dispute over the throne of Israel. He chose the elder Hyrcanus, but the followers of Aristobulus refused to give up Jerusalem until Pompey besieged it for three months. Hyrcanus had to settle for being high priest and not king, and Seleucid independence ended as Syria became a Roman province. Bithynia and Pontus were combined into a province, and the province of Cilicia was expanded. This eastern portion of the empire increased annual Roman tax revenues from 50 to 85 million denarii. Further east Pompey's promise to Parthian king Phraates III to return his lost territory for an alliance against Armenia's Tigranes was broken when he divided the controversial land between the two. Pompey's army had captured a thousand fortified places, 900 cities, and 800 pirate ships, founding 39 cities; so he distributed 16,000 talents, rewarding each soldier with 1500 drachmas.

Catiline had killed men on Sulla's lists and even murdered his own son because of his objection to a marriage Catiline desired. He ran for consul promising to cancel debts but lost. Rumors of his conspiracy to murder the consuls and take over the government had helped to get Cicero elected consul for 63 BC. The danger of the conspiracy increased and even threatened the life of Cicero, who got the senate to declare an emergency and found the evidence to arrest several conspirators in Rome, as Catiline went north to join the uprising in Etruria led by Gaius Manlius, who assumed the fasces of military command. The senate declared Catiline and Manlius public enemies but offered pardon to rebels who laid down their arms. Cicero asked for the death penalty for the arrested conspirators, but Caesar argued for confiscation of their property and imprisonment so that they could be given a regular trial. Cato argued that although arson and massacre were only planned and not committed, once a city is captured it is too late. Caesar attempted to block the proceedings until some knights threatened to kill him. By decree of the senate the five conspirators were executed that night by Cicero's authority, causing many of the 20,000 followers to give up the revolution. The remainder of the forces led by Manlius and Catiline were defeated and killed attempting to flee Italy over the Apennines.

Marcus Porcius Cato, called the younger to distinguish him from his famous great grandfather, had been so scrupulous and careful with finances as quaestor that he gained a reputation for unshakeable honesty. Concerned that Metellus Nepos was standing for tribune, Cato ran against him; both were elected. Metellus and the praetor Caesar proposed such inflammatory bills that the senate suspended them but revoked their decree after Caesar dissuaded a crowd that gathered at his house from using violence. Cato tried to persuade Metellus not to allow Pompey to return with his army and declared that while he lived, Pompey would never come armed into Rome. In response to the needs of the poor, the assembly passed a bill Cato proposed to distribute grain at low prices.

Landing at Brundisium, Pompey dismissed his army, and in Rome he was given the largest triumph so far that included among many other things 75,100,000 drachmas in silver coins, carriages with gold, 324 prominent hostages, depictions of kings conquered, and countless wagons of arms. Nonetheless influenced by Cato and Lucullus, the senate delayed ratifying his eastern arrangements. When Pompey tried to ally himself with Cato by himself and his son marrying his nieces, Cato responded that he was not assailable by the women's chamber. The two women were disappointed until they saw voters being bribed during an election in Pompey's own garden. Cato then prevented the assembly from passing Pompey's land law for his soldiers.

In debt 25 million sesterces, Caesar was only allowed to leave for the farther Spain, where he had been assigned as propraetor, thanks to Crassus standing guarantee for most of it with 830 talents. There Caesar's forces conquered the Spanish tribes in order to make them pay tribute to Rome. Thus Caesar became rich, while his soldiers also prospered at the expense of the natives. Waiting outside the city for his triumph, Caesar asked to use friends to campaign for consul, but Cato would not let him; so Caesar gave up the triumph and entered the city to campaign himself. He joined his candidacy to that of Lucceius, who had more money to bribe voters. Cato, afraid of Caesar with a pliant colleague, even urged bribing voters on behalf of Bibulus in order to preserve the constitution. Caesar and Bibulus were elected in 60 BC, but the senate snubbed Caesar by assigning the consuls to protect the forests and pastures from brigands.

So Caesar formed a political alliance with Pompey and Crassus. Pompey married Caesar's daughter Julia even though she was engaged to Caepio, whom Pompey mollified by promising his own daughter, while Caesar married Calpurnia, daughter of Lucius Piso. Caesar's first act was to order a daily record to be published of the proceedings in the senate and assembly. To get the land act for Pompey's veterans passed, the forum was cleared of its opponents, as the other consul Bibulus, though accompanied by Lucullus and Cato, was attacked by a crowd, which broke the fasces of the lictors and wounded two escorting tribunes. Bibulus did not appear in public for the remaining eight months of his consulship, although he issued proclamations that Caesar's legislation was illegal.

The eastern settlements were ratified, and Caesar and Pompey received large bribes for giving privileges to dependent kings, while Caesar got a law passed against extortion in the provinces. They received 6,000 talents to recognize Ptolemy XI Auletes, but the next year he was driven out by Egyptians refusing to pay high taxes imposed to pay his debt to Caesar and Pompey. Caesar won popularity with the equestrians by getting one-third of the debts the tax collectors owed the treasury released. Consuls for the next year were to be Lucius Piso and Pompey's man Gabinius. Caesar got himself appointed governor with four legions in both Gauls and Illyria for an unprecedented five years.

Caesar found the Helvetii and the Belgae the "bravest" of the Gauls, because they were nearer the Germans, who were continually at war. Most of the Celtic Gauls were poor and oppressed by the knights, who fought the wars, and by the Druids, who were the judges and priests. The Druids believed in reincarnation as an incentive to bravery and justice. They practiced human sacrifice but preferred to use capital punishment of criminals if possible. The Gauls grew crops, but the Germans ate mostly meat, cheese, and milk. Afraid of an invasion by the German Suebi, the Helvetii asked permission to migrate through Gaul to the Atlantic coast, but Caesar told them if they used force to do so the Romans would stop them. Their land pillaged by the Helvetii, the Aedui and Allobroges asked Rome for help. Caesar, gathering his four legions and raising two more, went to avenge the Roman defeat by the Tigurini fifty years before. The Helvetii lost the battle, and 110,000 were forced to return to their homes in Switzerland.

Many Gauls joined with Aeduan leader Divitiacus in asking Caesar's aid against the invading German leader Ariovistus. Caesar had previously authored a senate resolution of friendship with Ariovistus and tried to negotiate, asking him to stop migrations across the Rhine, return the Aeduan hostages, and not make war. The German Suebi claimed as much right to conquer Gaul by force as the Romans had and refused to yield until most of them were killed by Romans. Caesar's army occupied Gaul in 58 BC, and the next year they raised two more legions and in the north defeated the Belgae and left the Nervii with only three out of 600 councilors and 500 soldiers out of 60,000. The Atuatuci, who promised to surrender but did not, had 53,000 sold into slavery. Near the Atlantic coast Publius Crassus, son of the consul, with one legion defeated the Veneti, where the next year Caesar had all their councilors killed and the people sold as slaves to teach them to respect ambassadors. The initial conquest of Gaul was completed when Publius Crassus occupied Aquitanian territory to the Pyrenees.

While Cato prophetically warned the senate of dangers, Lucullus retired to a life of pleasure, and Pompey was absorbed by his young wife. In 58 BC the tribune Clodius acting for Caesar became popular by passing a law distributing free grain, forced Cicero into exile with a law condemning anyone who killed a citizen without a trial, and got Cato sent to Cypress, where the younger Ptolemy was deposed and committed suicide; Cypress was added to the province of Cilicia, and Cato shipped 7,000 talents to Rome. Pompey decided to recall Cicero and sent a large force led by Annius Milo with Cicero's brother into the forum in order to overcome Clodius. Cicero returned and reconciled Pompey and the senate, getting Pompey appointed the administrator of all ports and trading centers for the distribution of food, giving him authority over sea and land.

In 56 BC Pompey, Marcus Crassus, and about 120 senators met with Caesar at Luca on the border of Cisalpine Gaul. They agreed Pompey and Crassus would stand for the consulship and would be supported by votes of Caesar's soldiers. Cato and most of the senate supported Lucius Domitius in a struggle not merely for office but for their liberty, which became apparent when Pompey's party sent armed men to prevent Domitius from entering the forum, killing his torchbearer and causing the rest to flee. Pompey and Crassus were elected, and the tribune Trebonius got Spain and Africa assigned to Pompey, Syria to Crassus, and Caesar's governorship of Gaul confirmed for five more years. Cato's speech opposing this was curtailed by force, and though many were wounded as they were driven out of the forum, Cato persuaded them not to throw down Pompey's statues. Instead he warned Pompey about Caesar, and the next year as praetor Cato, concerned that gifts had corrupted politics, proposed that candidates be required to give an accounting of their election procedures; but the people who benefited from these bribes stoned him.

When two German tribes crossed the Rhine, Caesar used a truce violation to arrest their leaders and then massacred all of them. His soldiers built a bridge over the Rhine to show that he could invade them if necessary. Then he made two incursions across the channel to Britain, where according to his book Gallic War he imposed tribute to Rome, though scholars doubt it was collected. Meanwhile Pompey entertained the Romans with wild animal fights with as many as 500 lions being killed. Ptolemy XI promised to pay Rome 10,000 talents to restore his kingship in Egypt; but the people and the senate perturbed by his bribery refused to authorize this. Nonetheless in 55 BC Pompey sent Syrian governor Gabinius to occupy Egypt with his army, and the Roman banker Caius Rabirius became Ptolemy's finance minister as well as his creditor. Gabinius was later charged with this war violation, but using his money to bribe jurors he was acquitted. However, he was convicted of taking the money from Ptolemy and forced to return it to Rome as a fine.

Marcus Crassus, known for his avarice, had increased his worth from 300 to 7,100 talents using many slaves not only in silver mines and laboring on the land but as secretaries, silversmiths, and stewards he helped educate himself. After his year as consul, Crassus was appointed governor of Syria; but the senate did not authorize a war with Parthia, though Caesar encouraged him in this. As Crassus was leaving Rome, the tribune Ateius tried to stop him from going to violate their treaties of friendship; but the crowd was awed by Pompey, and the other tribunes would not let Ateius arrest Crassus; dreadful curses were called down as he departed. Putting to sea in the stormy season, Crassus lost many ships. In 53 BC the ambitious Crassus crossed the Euphrates and invaded Parthia, where he foolishly allowed his army to be led into the desert. Expected help from Armenia's Artavasdes could not come, because Parthia's Orodes had invaded that country. The Roman army was defeated, and Crassus trying to negotiate was captured and killed by Surena's Parthian forces. The Romans lost about 20,000 killed and 10,000 prisoners, as about 10,000 returned. The threat of a counter-attack was removed when the Parthian king, afraid of a revolt, had Surena put to death.

After Julia died in childbirth and the child died too, the connection between Pompey and Caesar lessened. Pompey married Cornelia, daughter of the aristocratic Metellus Scipio, whom he selected as fellow consul. In Gaul Eburones king Ambiorix united enough tribes to destroy a Roman detachment of one and half legions near Liége, though Caesar was able to relieve Cicero's brother and put down insurgencies one at a time. He requested aid from Pompey, who sent one of his legions from Spain to Gaul. That winter Caesar attacked the Nervii with four legions and ravaged their country. He gained more recruits from the Italian side of the Alps to meet a widespread revolt led by Arvernian king Vercingetorix in 52 BC. After Caesar's army showed it could be defeated, even the Aedui joined the Gauls' fight for their independence. So Caesar hired German mercenaries from beyond the Rhine whom he gave better horses. Even though he was attacked with 250,000 infantry and 8,000 horse while he was besieging Vercingetorix at Alesia, this added cavalry helped achieve victory for the Romans. Vercingetorix surrendered, and Caesar doubled his soldiers' pay and gave every one of his men a Gallic slave.

Caesar then was able to subdue all of Gaul by combining his famous clemency with the power of his legions, though to make an example of those who bore arms against him at Uxellodunum he had their hands cut off. Troops were garrisoned in every part of Gaul, and Caesar used his recently acquired wealth (which he failed to mention in his war commentary) to win over most of the senate by offering them loans with little or no interest, while those in the provinces were provided with public works at his or the government's expense. In eight years Caesar's army had conquered all of Gaul, taking 800 cities, subduing 300 nations, fighting battles with three million men, killing one million and capturing another million of them, and exacting an annual tribute of eight million denarii.

After Clodius was killed in an attack on Milo, the senate-house and other buildings in the forum were burned down. The senate declared an emergency and with Cato's support made Pompey sole consul to restore order; Pompey even punished Milo along with others, though after marrying Cornelia he summoned the jurors in her father's case to his house. After a law was passed prohibiting speeches praising anyone on trial, Pompey went to court to praise Plancus; Cato covered his ears because of the illegality and was removed from the jury, though Plancus was condemned. Such behavior decreased Pompey's popularity, but he was voted his provinces for four more years with a thousand talents per year for military expenses. Caesar provided funds to rebuild the forum.

Cato stood for consul but was defeated. After Caesar had broken a truce and his army killed 300,000 Germans, Cato had suggested that Caesar be turned over to them to expiate the wrong. Cato warned Romans that Caesar was more to be feared than the Britons and Gauls. After Caesar's opponents Aemilius Paullus and Claudius Marcellus were elected consuls and Gaius Curio tribune, Caesar bought the neutrality of Paulus for 1500 talents and the friendship of the heavily indebted and skilled speaker Curio for even more. Curio then insisted that Pompey along with Caesar also give up his province and lay down his arms. Pompey asked Caesar to return the legion and one of his own for the Parthian war, and Caesar sent them back after rewarding the men with 250 drachmas each; but the war never occurred, and the legions went to winter quarters at Capua, while Caesar moved closer by going to Ravenna.

In 50 BC Curio again proposed that Pompey give up his command of Spain and Italy at the same time as Caesar's expired, and the senate voted 370 to 22 in favor of this disarmament. However, hearing a false rumor that Caesar had moved four legions to Placentia, consul Gaius Marcellus and the two consuls elected for the next year persuaded Pompey to mobilize his forces. Yet men were reluctant to enlist as people demanded a settlement; tribune Mark Antony read aloud a letter brought by Curio from Caesar proposing he and Pompey both give up their provinces, disband their armies, and give an account to the people's judgment; Cicero also suggested a compromise; but the consul Lentulus refused to allow the senate to vote on these. Caesar was determined to invade Italy if force were used against the tribunes, who had vetoed the senate's decree that he disband his forces, for he feared Cato's promise to impeach him if he disbanded his army.

In January 49 BC the senate declared an emergency, putting Rome under the consuls and Pompey as proconsul, declaring Caesar a public enemy, and forcing tribunes Antony and Quintus Cassius to leave the senate and flee the city. Three days later Caesar crossed the bordering stream of the Rubicon and marched with only 5,000 infantry and 300 cavalry toward Rome. Cato advised the senate to give all power to Pompey, arguing that the one who can raise up great evils can best allay them. The senators were then appointed to various commands, Cato going to Sicily. Pompey declared a state of civil war and ordered all the senators to follow him in leaving the city; gathering five legions at Capua, he headed toward Brundisium. Caesar occupied Umbria, Picenum, and Tuscany, captured and released his senate-appointed replacement Domitius Ahenobarbus at Corfinium and accepted his soldiers over to his side. Pompey, who once said that he could stamp his foot and all Italy would rise to fight for him, did not find it so easy. Caesar's small army arrived at Brundisium, just as Pompey and his supporters were departing. Crossing to Dyrrhachium, Pompey organized his navy of 500 ships. The senate met there and passed Cato's decree that no Roman should be killed except in battle, and no city subject to Rome should be plundered.

Then Caesar marched to Rome and entered the city without violence except for his threat to the tribune Lucius Metellus, who at first refused to turn over the treasury to him. Caesar told Metellus that war had no use for free speech but that he could make speeches after they laid down their weapons. A fund from an ancient Gallic invasion remained with a curse on anyone using it for anything but a Gallic war; having subjugated all of Gaul, Caesar felt justified in taking it. The senate and consuls refusing to make him dictator, Caesar appointed praetor Aemilius Lepidus prefect and then led six legions to Spain after putting Massilia under siege along the way. He managed to gain a capitulation without a major battle at Ilerda, asking only that Pompey's army be disbanded, though the soldiers were free to join him. On his return to Italy the Massilians surrendered, and Caesar left a garrison of two legions there. A food crisis in Rome was averted when Caesar sent Quintus Valerius to take Sardinia, while Curio drove Cato out of Sicily. In Africa Curio and two of Caesar's legions were destroyed by Juba's Numidians. In Illyria Pompey's navy destroyed the forty ships of Caesar's Publius Dolabella and trapped Antony's two legions; most were taken to join Pompey's forces in Macedonia, while some escaped to Italy.

Hearing of a mutiny at Placentia by his soldiers, who were demanding the five minae he had promised them, Caesar won them back with a stern speech and then executed twelve chosen by lot from the 120 leaders. Back in Rome, Lepidus got the assembly to appoint Caesar dictator, which office he used to order grain distributed to the starving people, exiles recalled (except Milo), the civil rights restored for the children of those persecuted by Sulla, and debtors relieved from some of the interest burdening them. Hoarding of coins was prohibited, and creditors were required to accept property as payment at pre-war prices determined by a commission. Then Caesar conducted the consular election in which he was elected, allowing him to resign the dictatorship after eleven days.

Caesar found enough ships to bring part of his army over to Epirus, where he offered to make peace with Pompey by dismissing their armies and letting the senate and people of Rome resolve the conflict; he argued that their equally matched power made this a good time for peace, but Pompey refused. Caesar also sent a message to Scipio in Macedonia asking him to persuade Pompey to agree, but to no avail. Caesar's army attacked Pompey's fortifications at Dyrrhachium and in one battle lost 2,000 men. According to Caesar's Civil War his former commander in Gaul, Labienus, put to death the prisoners to show his loyalty to Pompey.

Short of supplies which Pompey could get by sea, Caesar marched his forces to Thessaly. Instead of returning to Italy, Pompey chose to pursue, and with the legions of Scipio making his army twice as large as Caesar's they met at Pharsalus; but Caesar's tactics and hardened veterans lost only about 1200 men as they killed about 6,000 and captured about 24,000 of Pompey's army. Caesar ordered that his prisoners not be harmed nor have their property taken. Pompey fled and found a ship that took him to his wife at Mitylene. Cato had retreated to Africa, and Pompey went to Egypt, where his advisors persuaded young Ptolemy XII that he could earn Caesar's gratitude and not have to fear Pompey by killing him, which they did.

Julius Caesar Dictator

Caesar pursued Pompey in Asia, where he reduced their taxes by a third. After the battle of Pharsalus many of Pompey's officers came over to Caesar's side, and the consul Servilius and the senate of Rome gave him a second dictatorship. In 48 BC the praetor Caelius, who advocated a moratorium on all interest and debt payments, was stripped of his office by the senate and then joined Milo in a revolt in which both were killed. The next year tribune Dolabella's proposal to cancel all debts caused great disturbance; Caesar's chosen master of horse (deputy dictator) Mark Antony acted so autocratically quelling the riot in the capital with troops killing 800 people including Dolabella's men that in the next consular election Caesar ran with Lepidus instead of Antony.

In Alexandria Caesar was presented with Pompey's head and ring. He attempted to reconcile Cleopatra VII with her young brother Ptolemy XII; but the latter's eunuch advisor Pothinus and general Achillas plotted against him, as did her younger brother and sister Arsinoe, causing a war in the city in which the besieged Romans burned the fleet of warships and by accident the great library. A young Mithridates of Pergamum brought an army from Syria, enabling the Romans to win the battle of the Nile and pacify Alexandria. Caesar granted the Jews equal rights with the Greeks in Egypt and placed a Roman garrison in Alexandria. Cleopatra at 20 married her very young brother Ptolemy XIII, and they became king and queen of Egypt. After Cleopatra gave birth to his son Caesarion, Caesar marched through Syria to Pontus to meet the army of Pharnaces, who had occupied that country and defeated Caesar's commander Domitius Calvinus. At Zela Caesar wrote tersely that he "came, saw, conquered" (veni vidi vici) and turned over the Bosphoran kingdom to Pharnaces' illegitimate brother Mithridates.

Caesar returned to Rome just in time to stop a mutiny by his honored tenth legion by threatening to dismiss them from the service before a lucrative expedition to Africa. Caesar held elections and was again elected consul before going to Africa with eight legions to defeat ten legions led by Metellus Scipio and four of Numidian king Juba at Thapsus, killing according to Plutarch 50,000. Scipio, Petreius, and Juba killed themselves. Caesar had the papers of Scipio burned as he had those of Pompey before. Cato as governor of Utica had not authorized freeing the slaves but allowed their masters to do so; after reading over Plato's Phaedo he also took his own life, which Caesar said he would have liked to save, as he had pardoned many including Cassius and Brutus, who both became praetors and his assassins.

In Rome after celebrating four triumphs for victories in Gaul, Egypt, Pontus, and Africa, Caesar provided shows and a banquet for 20,000 people. According to Appian it was said the money amounted to 60,500 talents in silver and 20,414 pounds of gold, and each soldier was given 1500 drachmas. Finally after being declared dictator a third time (this time for ten years) and consul a fourth time, Caesar took an army to Spain, where Quintus Cassius had governed so badly and stolen so much money that he even alienated his Roman army before dying in a shipwreck after being summoned to aid Caesar in Africa. To stop desertions Cnaeus Pompey had 74 men beheaded for favoring Caesar, but the desertions continued. Many of Pompey's men had previously been pardoned by Caesar, and those captured a second time were usually put to death. After he was nearly killed himself, Caesar's forces overcame those led by Pompey's sons, killing another 30,000 at Munda; Cnaeus Pompey was captured and killed, though his brother Sextus escaped. The triumph over the Romans fighting in Spain was celebrated with less enthusiasm; but Caesar's clemency was honored with a temple, and he ordered Pompey's statues restored.

Caesar established forty colonies in the provinces for his soldiers, including Corinth and Carthage which had been destroyed one century before. He reduced the number of those receiving free grain from 320,000 to 150,000, reflecting a diminished population from war and 80,000 unemployed sent to twenty colonies abroad. He ordered an artificial harbor excavated at Ostia, a canal across the Corinthian isthmus, and the Pomptine marshes and Lake Fucinus to be drained. After a year of fifteen lunar months he established the solar Julian calendar of 365 days with one day added every fourth February, and July was named after him. To lessen the danger of slave revolts, a third of the shepherds had to be free-born.

As dictator Caesar granted citizenship to the transpadane Gauls and to all physicians and professional teachers in Rome. A compliant senate was increased from 600 to 900 and included many government officials, army officers, bankers, and industrialists. Caesar increased the penalties for crime so that wealthy men might not get away with major crimes by mere exile, since their property could now be confiscated. Canceling interest since the civil war began reduced debt by a quarter. He transferred tax collection from private individuals to municipal governments. Inspectors seized prohibited luxuries in the marketplace and even in people's private diningrooms. He ordered the civil code be reduced to a publishable set of written laws, and Marcus Varro was commissioned to provide libraries and collect and classify Greek and Latin books.

Many of these projects and his Alexander-like schemes to invade the Scythians, Parthians, and encircle the Black Sea never occurred because of his assassination. Virtually all magistrates were being selected by Caesar; eight prefects had been chosen to represent him while he was in Spain, and in February 44 BC his dictatorship was declared perpetual. People were also offended when Caesar deprived Marullus and Flavius of their tribuneship for removing the diadems put on Caesar's statues and for arresting those who first saluted him as king. Because a Sibylline oracle said that the Parthians could only be conquered by a king, on March 15 the senate was to declare Caesar king outside Italy in the provinces three days before he was scheduled to leave on his eastern military expedition; but in front of a statue of Pompey at a senate meeting Caesar, who had dismissed his bodyguard, was stabbed 23 times by a conspiracy that involved sixty prominent men. With the exception of Decimus Brutus all the conspirators had been prisoners pardoned by Caesar after fighting for Pompey.

Brutus, Octavian, Antony and Cleopatra

Although Casca was the first to stab Caesar, the leaders of the conspiracy were Caius Cassius and Marcus Brutus. The mother of Brutus, Servilia, was the sister of Cato and had had an affair with Julius Caesar, though rumors that Caesar was his father are unlikely since Brutus was only fifteen or perhaps seventeen years younger than Caesar. Brutus was also married to the courageous Porcia, Cato's daughter. Even though the father of Brutus had been put to death by Pompey as a follower of Marius, the rational and virtuous Brutus supported Pompey in the civil war for the public good. After the battle of Pharsalus, Caesar invited Brutus to join him; he governed Cisalpine Gaul well, and by 44 BC Brutus had become praetor. He was even a possible successor to Caesar, and his integrity drew many to the conspiracy against Caesar's dictatorship organized by Cassius. Brutus was responsible for limiting the assassination to Caesar alone, sparing Mark Antony.

After the bloody murder in which Brutus' hand was accidentally wounded by Cassius, Brutus gave a speech at the capitol explaining the reasons for their action and suggesting the recall of Sextus Pompey and the two dismissed tribunes. However, the speech by Cinna denouncing Caesar caused a violent reaction, and the conspirators took refuge in the capitol protected by gladiators. Lepidus, returning from Spain and Gaul with an army, brought in a detachment to surround the capitol but agreed to send his son as a hostage. Mark Antony, who as a young man under the influence of Curio had run up a debt of 250 talents, also sent his son to the capitol as a hostage and then arranged for a meeting of the senate, which passed Cicero's decree of amnesty for the conspirators. The senate also voted that no changes should be made in any of Caesar's appointments and programs, which Antony noted Caesar had planned for the next five years; instead of submitting to elections by the people, the senate chose to keep what they had.

The next day the senate thanked Antony for averting another civil war, and provincial governorships allotted Crete to Brutus, Cyrene to Cassius, Asia to Trebonius, and Cisalpine Gaul to Decimus Brutus, though Caesar had assigned Brutus to Macedonia and Cassius to Syria. At Caesar's funeral it was announced that his will adopted his grandnephew Octavian and gave him three-quarters of his estate; however, his gardens along the Tiber were given to the public, and every Roman was to receive 60 denarii. This and Antony's eloquent eulogy aroused the sorrow and anger of the people so much that they made a funeral pyre of benches and tables and were only stopped from burning the conspirators' houses by a resolve to return the next day armed. The conspirators quickly left Rome, and the anger at Cinna was so great that a tribune poet by that name was torn to pieces by a mob.

Antony obtained Caesar's papers from his widow Calpurnia and inserted names of men he wished to appoint to various positions or recall from exile and prison. Antony allowed Caesar's replacement Dolabella to be co-consul with himself, but Antony acted so autocratically that many wished for the return of Brutus when he was to oversee the games as praetor. Antony angered Octavian and the plebeians for executing a man without trial for plotting against Brutus and Cassius. The senate passed Antony's resolution to recall Sextus Pompey, assigning him command of the seas. Antony enlisted a personal body guard, which soon grew to 6,000 soldiers, mostly centurions. Eighteen-year-old Octavian came to Rome to claim from Antony as Caesar's trustee the estate he had inherited so that he could pay the citizens what Caesar had promised them. At first Octavian sided with the aristocratic party of Cicero and the senate, but he began mobilizing Caesar's veterans.

The senate put the praetors Brutus and Cassius in charge of the grain supply and assigned Dolabella to Syria, where he killed the conspirator Trebonius, causing the senate to re-assign Cassius to Syria to make war on Dolabella, who summoned four Roman legions from Egypt; but when these went over to Cassius, Dolabella was defeated at Laodicea and committed suicide. Cassius sent his cavalry into Cappadocia to kill Ariobarzanes and seize its treasury, and he inflicted such heavy tribute on Tarsus that children, women, and old and even young men were sold into slavery. The forces of Cassius defeated Rhodes even though they sent his old rhetoric teacher to plead with him; their treasury was also plundered, as ten years of tribute was seized.

Antony got his assignment changed from Macedonia to a five-year command in Gaul. In the senate Cicero began attacking Antony in speeches he called Philippics. Antony suspected that Octavian was plotting to murder him, as thousands of soldiers defected to Octavian even though he had no authorization to raise troops. Antony executed a few of his troops for attempted mutiny. Before the year was over, Antony was sending his troops into Gaul; but the senate passed Cicero's resolution telling Decimus Brutus to stay there, and Octavian was made propraetor as the two new consuls raised troops also. When Antony besieged Decimus Brutus at Mutina, he was attacked and defeated by Octavian and the consuls, who both were killed. The senate declared Antony a public enemy, but he fled across the Alps and joined forces with Lepidus and Plancus. Meanwhile Marcus Brutus took over Macedonia even though the senate had assigned it to Antony's brother Caius, whose troops Brutus won over in Illyria; the senate then assigned Brutus Illyria and Macedonia.

When the senate would not appropriate the large sums Octavian demanded to pay his troops nor elect the youth consul, the adopted Caesar marched his private army to Rome and held his own consular elections that appointed him and his cousin Pedius. His first act in the assembly was to rescind the amnesty and prosecute Caesar's assassins in their absence. Since Cassius and Brutus had raised large armies in Syria and Macedonia, this meant another civil war. Octavian met with Antony and Lepidus, and joining they declared themselves constituted triumvirs of the republic with consular power for five years. They essentially appointed all magistrates, as the senate they controlled authorized all their acts in advance including unlimited conscription and taxation; only the unpopular word "dictator" was withheld. Some historians have marked the end of the Roman republic on November 27, 43 BC, although it took Octavian a dozen years to consolidate power in his own hands.

The triumvirate began by proscribing for political murder 300 senators and 2,000 knights. Cicero was one of the first to be killed, and Antony and Lepidus even had relatives listed. As with Sulla's purge, large rewards were given to those informing or killing those on the list. Many were slaughtered amid panic, but a few escaped, mostly to Sextus Pompey in Sicily. Property was confiscated to pay their 43 legions; but this raised little money, because people were too afraid to buy these large estates even at low prices. So they began taxing the richest 1400 women, though Hortensia, arguing that women who could not vote should not be taxed, got this reduced to 400. Even the treasury of the Vestal virgins was not spared. Octavian appointed Sextius governor of New (Numidian) Africa, and Cornificius, who would not yield his senate-appointed authority, was defeated.

Brutus gained from Asia 16,000 talents tribute Apuleius had collected; then he besieged and captured resisting Xanthus. After that, Patara and others in Lycia capitulated. The twenty legions of Brutus and Cassius met in Asia Minor and then began marching back through Thrace toward the army of Antony and Octavian that had crossed the Adriatic. They met on the plains of Philippi. Cassius was defeated by Antony and committed suicide; but the forces of the haunted Brutus were victorious over those of the ill Octavian, who guided by a dream left his tent. Three weeks later Brutus was defeated by Antony and took his own life. Much money, food, and supplies were delivered to Antony and Octavian for their hungry army; but the triumvirs had promised their soldiers a bounty of 500 drachmas each, and so had to impose heavy taxes and tribute. Two centuries later Appian wrote that Rome's form of government was decided at Philippi, and they had not gone back to democracy since.

As Octavian settled 100,000 veterans on Italian land, Antony levied tribute from the eastern provinces and irritated many with his indulgent pleasures in Greece; he took property from many noble families and gave it to his friends. A representative of Asia claimed they had raised 200,000 talents for Antony. This Roman, so easily seduced by beautiful women, summoned Cleopatra VII to Cilicia to reprimand her for supporting Cassius and quickly came under the spell of the Egyptian queen of Macedonian heritage who could speak several languages. Antony sent assassins to murder her sister Arsinoe and went with Cleopatra to Alexandria. Antony's jealous wife Fulvia agitated for a war to bring back her husband, and his brother Lucius as consul fought to restore the republic; but they were besieged into surrender at Perusia by Octavian, who had the Perusian senate and many prominent Romans executed but spared Lucius.

Labienus had gone from the side of Brutus to helping Parthian kings Orodes and Pacorus to take over most of western Asia. So Antony went to meet the Parthians in Phoenicia and then decided to take his 200 ships to meet his wife Fulvia; but she became sick, was neglected by Antony, and died. Antony accepted the support of Ahenobarbus even though he had been proscribed as a friend of Brutus; but Brundisium closed its gates to them. Antony besieged the port and sent for his army in Macedonia. Octavian resented these hostile actions and Antony's negotiations with Sextus Pompey. In 40 BC with famine, robbery, and public frustration with strife, another civil war was delayed as Antony was once again reconciled with Octavian; they divided the Roman empire at the Adriatic, giving Octavian the west to Illyria, Antony the east, and Lepidus Africa. Antony married Octavian's recently widowed sister Octavia, who quickly bore him two daughters and a son, whom Virgil in his Fourth Eclogue apparently hoped would be a divine ruler for a golden age.

Sextus Pompey still controlled Sicily, had taken over Sardinia, and was blockading Rome's essential food supply with the help of Ahenobarbus' control of the Ionian Gulf. Antony sent Ahenobarbus to Bithynia as governor and an army led by Ventidius which pushed back the Parthians, killing Labienus and Parthian king Pacorus. Famine caused a riot in the Roman forum, and a mob threw stones at Octavian. Antony came and was respected, because he favored a treaty with Sextus; but when Antony refused to leave, they threw stones at him too. The insurrection was suppressed by the hated triumvirs. Meeting with Octavian and Antony, Sextus in exchange for keeping Sicily and Sardinia agreed to open the food channels, keep the sea clear of pirates, and stop giving refuge to fugitive slaves. Yet Octavian divorced Scribonia, who was related to Pompey, and on the day she bore Julia, Octavian's only child, he married the pregnant Livia, the mother of Tiberius. Antony returned to the east and captured the city of Samosata in Syria.

Brought together by Octavia, Antony met her brother again at Tarentum in 37 BC to renew the triumvirate for another five years; Octavian agreed to trade him 20,000 troops (which he never sent) for 120 galleys with bronze rams to use against Sextus Pompey, who had been caught sponsoring pirates. Antony's general Sosius recaptured Jerusalem, where Herod was made king. The next year after some losses, young Caesar's admiral Agrippa, using 30,000 freed slaves trained as oarsmen, defeated Sextus Pompey in a naval battle involving 300 war-ships on each side. The 40-year-old Pompey fled to Antony in Asia, but after negotiating with the Parthians he was put to death by one of Antony's officers. Octavian now had more than 500 war-ships and 45 legions. Octavian put in place a cohort system of night watchmen that executed brigands and quickly ended the widespread robberies in Italy. After so much civil strife Octavian's efforts to bring order and stability were appreciated. The attempt of Lepidus to regain power by taking Sicily was defeated, although Octavian allowed him to live on as chief priest.

Antony met Cleopatra in Syria and was so enamored that he gave her dominion over Phoenicia, lower Syria, Cypress, part of Cilicia, Judea, and the coast of Arabia. After Phraates IV killed his father Orodes and took over Parthia, Antony marched an army through Arabia and Armenia; but in his impatience he let his siege equipment trail behind and be captured, as 10,000 of his men were killed; departure of the forces of Armenian king Artavasdes also contributed to this disaster. After his troops ran away from the Parthians, Antony had his own men decimated, killing one out of ten. A four-week winter retreat doubled the losses of Antony's army, mostly from disease and cold, even though the Romans had won eighteen battles against the Parthians.

Antony invaded Armenia again in 34 BC and captured its king Artavasdes. Celebrating a triumph in Egypt, Antony declared Cleopatra queen of kings and her son Ptolemy Caesarion king of kings as co-rulers of Egypt and Cypress; for his own six-year old twins by her Alexander Sun received Armenia, Media, and Parthia even though Antony had not conquered them, while Cleopatra Moon was given Cyrenaica and Libya, and two-year-old Ptolemy Philadelphus got Syria and Cilicia. These "Donations of Alexandria" were resented in Rome; in 32 BC after the consuls and 300 senators on Antony's side were driven out of the senate and Antony's divorce of Octavia became known, her brother had Antony's will read aloud in the senate, revealing that his body was to be buried in Egypt. Acting as the fetial priest, Octavian and the senate declared war on Cleopatra, as oaths of allegiance were taken to Octavian as leader (dux). The triumvirate had expired; Octavian was elected consul for 31 BC; though Antony was supposed to have been consul too, he was not elected and no longer had any Roman authority.

Although Antony's power was greater on land, Cleopatra, providing 200 ships and 20,000 talents, insisted on concentrating their naval forces at the harbor of Actium, where Octavian's admiral Agrippa trapped them. Many Roman officers resented the presence of the Egyptian queen; the ships of Cleopatra and Antony were able to break out, but most of the others did not; as the royal couple sailed for Egypt, their forces deserted to Octavian. The client-kings of Antony quickly went over to Octavian, who had to return to Italy to quell a mutiny of his veterans by exempting the freedmen from a tax and promising his troops riches they would gain in Alexandria; he also evicted Italian communities that had supported Antony and gave their land to his veterans.

Cleopatra returned to Egypt showing signs of victory to prevent revolt and had prominent men she feared executed, using their estates to equip more forces and find new allies. She had Armenian king Artavasdes put to death to try to please the king of Media. Antony returned to his army in Cyrenaica, but Scarpus put to death the delegation Antony sent and those soldiers who protested. Octavian sent a message to Cleopatra that if she had Antony killed, he would let her maintain her throne, while she collected her treasure in her tomb threatening to destroy it or hoping to seduce Octavian, whose forces captured Pelusium. Antony attacked Octavian's army with cavalry and shot messages into his camp promising soldiers 6,000 sesterces; but his infantry attack was defeated, as Octavian kept his troops loyal.

Hearing that Cleopatra was dead, Antony stabbed himself with his sword and died in Cleopatra's arms in her tomb; she survived but, dreading being displayed in Octavian's triumph at Rome, let herself be killed by an asp. Octavian had her son Caesarion and Antony's eldest son by Fulvia put to death; but the children of Cleopatra and Antony were raised by Octavia, and Cleopatra Moon was married to Numidian king Juba II. Seizing Cleopatra's treasury, Octavian gained more money than the state of Rome, where the interest rates fell overnight from 12 to 4 percent. Egypt was made a tribute-paying province ruled directly by a prefect of Octavian, who traveled to Asia to take over Antony's dominions before returning to Rome, where he was made tribune for life in 30 BC.

Empire of Augustus and Tiberius


1. Sallust, The Jugurthine War 36 tr. S. A. Handford.
2. Appian, The Civil Wars 1:7:57 tr. Horace White.

Copyright © 1998-2004 by Sanderson Beck

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Greek Culture to 500 BC
Greek Politics and Wars 500-360 BC
Greek Theatre
Socrates, Xenophon, and Plato
Isocrates, Aristotle, and Diogenes
Philip, Demosthenes, and Alexander
Hellenistic Era
Roman Expansion to 133 BC
Roman Revolution and Civil Wars
Plautus, Terence, and Cicero
Summary and Evaluation


World Chronology to 30 BC
Chronology of Europe to 1400

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