Veni Vidi Vici
The beginning of a 1000 years
The European history spawns for almost 3000 years. It’s divided into the antiquities 1000BC (but really it was between 500 BC until 500 AD). This marks the start of the Medievals, which spawned for another thousand years, up until the renaissance during the 16th century. Since then modern history begins. Although this is ‘only’ 500 years, it is commonly accepted as a time distinction. The antiquities is the cradle of todays society and that includes the founding of the Greek democracy, a subject for another time. Today we will discuss the Romans and their influence on our modern society.
Romans have been portrayed as both protagonists and antagonists throughout history, presumably the truth is somewhere in-between. The Roman Republic started as early as 509 BC. Before that it was a royal monarchy. The plebis (the common, not noble people) revolted against the dominant patricians (the nobility and royals). This marks the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the republic. The development of the republic occurred gradually, spanning over hundreds of years. As the Republic developed, the plebis received their own assembly. Its function was to pass legislation, elect magistrates and other judicial matters.
The new Democratic Processes
In the Roman Republic the magistrates had an important function. Amongst them there was a hierarchical order. Aspirants had to start at the bottom and work their way to the top. Serving the state had to happen at all the governmental departments and the highest magistrates were the consuls. There were always two consuls during one mandate to prevent absolute power. After the consuls had served their mandate they became indefinite members of the senate. Consequently, the senate had a lot of power and influence of the magistrates and the society as a whole.
The Rise of Caesar
The republic was flourishing and ever expanding at 100 B.C all of Italy and Greece were Roman and the western costs of the Mediterranean. In 44 B.C the land of the empire had doubled. The Romans had concurred the eastern parts of the Mediterranean, the Iberian peninsula and France. Caesar met his fate that same year and would perish from the world.
Why is ‘Caesar’ a name that has survived for 2000 years. Julius caesar is a capturing figure deserving a spot in the history books because he changed the course of history. Caesar got his mandate as a consul thanks to his political alliance with Crassus and Pompey. The three men formed the first ‘Triumvirate’. Where they made favours in order to receive favours from they others, probably best defined by corruption.
Caeser, the consul
After his term as a consul, which only lasted a year, Caesar proceeded to conquer Gaul. But Crassus died and the roman empire was the brink of civil war, that led to the appointment of Pompey as the sole consul. Pompey and Caesar had a deep alliance, ever since Caesar offered his only daughter Julia in marriage to Pompey. Pompey accepted this proposal, but after 53 B.C this alliance was dead, Julia had died in childbirth. Caesar valued his alliance with Pompey and therefore he offered him his niece as a bride instead. But, too Caesars despair Pompey declined his offer. After that, their relationship turn bitter. Since both men were claiming power over Rome, on of histories most significant power struggles had just initiated.
Caesar leaves Rome
Caesar soon found himself alone without allies. The political establishment in Rome had banned him from ever crossing the Rubicon river and enter Rome again. The power-hungry Caesar and his troops were aimlessly wandering the northern parts of the empire. This could have very well been the end of Caesars history. The ultimate goal of Pompey was to neutralize Caesar as a political enemy. However, in 49 B.C Caesars crossed the Rubicon River, a symbolic move, and this sparked the civil war in the Roman republic. As luck would have it Caesar and his legioned managed to conquer Rome. How this happened is a story on its own. Now Caesar ruled Rome, the heart of the Roman Empire and he was almighty.
A turn of events
Caesar’s conquest depended at large by his political alliances. However, the political establishment and non of the parties involved wanted to have a full-blown civil war. Regardless, Caesar became the sole emperor of the Roman Empire, as his name has become the very word for ‘emperor’ in several languages. He teamed up with a man referred to as Mark Anthony, who plays a crucial role later on. The still unstable empire found some security in having a definitiv ruler. Before dealing with the ongoing uprise and civil war, Caesar had hi mind elsewhere. Caesar started to look around for new land to conquer, and a country across the Mediterranean was of particular interest, Egypt.
Letting his Gaze wander
Coincidentally, while Caesar had his eyes on Egypt he received a package from Egypt. From this package the ruler of Egypt emerged. Perhaps foreshadowing that Egypt would be next. The legendary Egyptian ruler Cleopatra had offered herself to Caesar, in order to save her country from the Roman dominance.
This move caused one of history’s most famous love stories. Indeed, Cleopatra secured the future of Egypt, at least for now. The two remained married to their previous spouses and did not seek to formalise their relationship. Cleopatra had continued the family tradition and her marriage was to her own brother. This was common practice in the royal dynasty she came from and this was not her first sibling marriage. Their marital status did not hinder the two to concubine, the two eventually had a child. Cleopatra thought that her son would be safe and with him the future of Egypt would unquestionably be secure. However, Caesar did not see it the same way. Regardless, Caesar had other things on his mind. In Caesars eyes Pompey, who where currently banished from Rome, he was the culprit of the civil war.
The Civil War & the Uprise
The uprising all around the Empire was indeed devastating for Pompey. Caesar’s armies showed to be superior to those of Pompey, and Pompey ended up retreating. Pompey was murdered by an officer to King Ptolemy who was King of Alexandria, Which does indeed mean that King Ptolemy is none other than Cleopatra’s husband. Coincidentally, also her younger brother. The senate and the senators still had some powers vested within themselves. After Caesar had seized the power, the power of the senate was soon only be a memory. After fighting wars and living decadently in Alexandria for awhile Caesar returned to Rome. When in Rome, Caesar obtained the title as ‘dictator’ and he proceeded to fight minor uprisings but had finally begun to put his empire in order.
Caesar was impatient with a great clemency about him. This led to Caesar pardoning his enemies and giving them amnesty. Controversy, he committed many atrocities against the barbarians, which were people who were not Romans. In march 44 B.C Caesar met his faith. There were 60 conspirators and all from the senate, planned and committed the murder of Julius Caesar.
The end & a new beginning
After his death the civil war was imminent, and the second Triumvirate was formed. This quickly developed in to conflict between two of the men, ironically history repeating itself. The first, Mark Anthony who had been a loyal friend to Ceasar, was now having a love affair with Cleopatra. The couple ended up having three children. Mark Anthony was now claiming the power of the ‘Caesar’. Opposed to him was Caesar’s adopted son, Octavius. Mark Anthony suffered many defeats against Octavius, and for Mark Anthony things were looking dim, then he got even worse news, Cleopatra had died. This caused Mark Anthony so much pain that he dragged his own sword in his torso. However, this was a cruel lie told by Cleopatra. Upon hearing that Mark Anthony actually killed himself she looked herself in her tomb with her servants and legend says she died by a snake bite.
The birth of Augustus, the sole emperor
At this point and time, Cleopatra’s brother, The King of Egypt had left the political stage long before this and the mighty Egyptian Kingdom became a part of the Roman Empire. There was now a sole ruler, the only one with claims to the dictatorship, Octavius. Whom at 14 B.C became Emperor Augustus. The republic was forever dead, this marked the start of the ‘principate’. Which had the famous Roman Emperors, such as Nero and Caligula, the true power games had just begun. Therefore, the infamous intellectual Caesar is a man who changed history, and who’s name is still relevant to this day..