The Assassination of Julius Caesar
The assassination of Julius Caesar in 44BC by conspiring members of the Roman senate was an effort to remove a dictator whose power had grown to extraordinary levels and to revive the Republic government. Caesar’s power span throughout the entire Roman Empire, which during his reign extended from present day Syria, down into parts of Africa, over to Spain, most of France and all of Italy. He had the favor of the people, military and most of the Roman government. Caesar’s death at the hand of conspirators did remove him from power; however, it did not restore the Republic government as the Senate had anticipated, on-the-other hand it gave rise to yet a more powerful dictator that was beyond what Caesar had achieved prior to his demise.
Preceding Caesar’s rise to power, the Roman Empire was ruled by the Senate which in turn was determined by the people; however, the Senate resided in Rome and could not directly govern the wide expanse of the Roman Empire. Rome was split into provinces, each province was presided over by a governor appointed by the Senate and changed every year. The governor’s performance depended solely on his personal character; Roman government did not include a check and balance system such as current governments do today. The lack thereof created social unrest throughout many provinces. An unmoral governor could rule as they saw fit, taking advantage of their constituents.
Social unrest was not the only breakdown of the Roman government; military forces did not receive their entire pay from the Republic. Soldiers were paid a wage from the state, but relied upon their general to provide spoils of war to supplement pay. Wealthier generals could even provide soldiers with parcels of land at the time of their discharge. Many soldiers were poor non-land owners depending on their service in the military to provide them and their families a better life. This dependency shifted the allegiance of the armies away from the Republic and to the generals that provided riches and lands. With the command and allegiance of large armies, or legions, powerful generals could march against the Republic and over throw the Senate, thus creating a serious threat. The Senate’s strategy to abate this threat from generals and their legions was to reward victorious generals with honors and titles. Celebrations lasting for days were held in a victorious general’s honor and the general was rewarded a political office or given a special title. Several generals had been given honors and titles during the middle of the first century BCE, Pompey and Julius Caesar.
Julius Caesar was born into an old Roman patrician family around 100 BCE and became one of the greatest politicians and generals of his time. He began his career with establishing a political family connection that was centered on Caesar’s aunt Julia, whom had married Gaius Marius, the most important man in Rome for about 20 years; he was a seven time consul, the highest political position one could achieve. Caesar used this connection in one of his earliest attempts to gain favor from the people of Rome. During a speech at his aunt’s funeral, Caesar played upon his relation to Marius to win the support of Marius’ followers. Marius had been declared an enemy of the state and his honors or figures of victory were buried by the law and Senate. Caesar had the figures dug up and transported to the capital during the night. The next morning, word spread of the revival of these honors and a mass of people came rushing into the city, most over joyous to see Marius’ honors restored. Caesar was praised by most of the Roman people who thought him a worthy relation of Marius and tolerated by the Senate whom Caesar defied with such a public display. Caesar continued to create public displays of kindness all the while winning the favor of the people.
Caesar’s military exploits also gained him favor from not only the Roman people, but...
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