The First Triumvirate

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The First Triumvirate

The first triumvirate was and alliance between three prominent politicians, Crassus, Pompey and Julius Caesar. The Roman historian Livy described the First Triumvirate as 'a conspiracy against the state by its three leading citizens'. The agreement was unofficial and private. It was formed in the summer of 60-59 B.C. The first triumvirate however is a bit misleading in name. Not only was it never called that by the contemporary Romans, but it was a far more inclusive factio (faction) than the term triumvirate implies.

How and why the first triumvirate was created:

·Crassus and Pompey had been colleagues in the past, they shared consulship in 70 B.C. but never liked each other, and it was only through Julius Caesar that they came together.

·Each of members had great resources, Crassus had money, Pompey had influence and respect, and Caesar had diplomatic skills as well as the consulship in 59 B.C.

·The deal was solidified through marriage; Pompey marrying Julia, Caesars daughter and Caesar married Calpurnia whose father was a good friend of Crassus. Cato was not happy about this and as Plutarch wrote ‘Cato exclaimed loudly against this, and protested, with a great deal of warmth, that it was intolerable the government should be prostituted by marriages'.

·It had been formed because of each member's hostility from other members in the senate, particularly from the optimtaes, who were led by Cato the younger.

Caesar:
He wanted to gain a large pro-consular command, instead of some insignificant part of the Roman Empire, which was the optimates plan.

Caesar was rapidly gaining power and influence. He had held the offices of military tribune, quaestor, aedile, pontifex maximus, and praetor. Then as propraetor he had been sent to Spain, where he laid the basis of his military fame. On his return from Spain the senate thwarted him in his desire to have a triumph. In other ways the senate embarrassed Caesar. But he was beginning to feel his power, and was not the man to put up with petty annoyances.

Crassus:
Crassus, one of the richest men in Rome, found that his political career was not going as well as he would have liked. He wanted to make a contract with the tax collectors as he had financial matters at stake.

Despite his evident jealousy towards Pompey he held the consulship with him in 70 BC, the two of them using their term in office to restore the rights of the Tribunes of the People. In 59 BC the two were then joined by Julius Caesar in what was to become known as the First Triumvirate, a period which saw the three of them cover all bases of Roman power so effectively that they ruled virtually unopposed.

Pompey:
Pompey wanted land for his veterans General Pompey had defeated Cilician pirates, conquered the declining Seleucid Empire and subdued Judaea, but discovered that the Senate would not ratify his organization of the Near East. So he returned to Rome. He hoped that his great services would give him the proud position of the first citizen of Rome. But in this he was disappointed. He had given up the source of his influence by disbanding his army on the way back to Rome. Still, he hoped that the senate would at least confirm his arrangements in the East and reward his veterans by grants of land. But this grievance of Pompey might not have been very dangerous, if the senate had not also offended Caesar. Caesar was rapidly gaining power and influence. He accordingly entered into a coalition with Caesar, to which Crassus was also admitted.

Successes of the first triumvirate:

The alliance meant the three completely dominated roman politics.

With Pompey and Crassus supporting him Caesar was triumphantly elected consul

As consul Caesar saw to the swift ratification of Pompey's oriental acts; an agrarian law passed the Senate, distributing land among the urban poor and Pompey's soldiers; and Crassus received a financial agreement that was beneficial...
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