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Julius Caesar And The Fall Of The Roman Republic

3531 words - 14 pages

How was it possible that under the dictatorship and after the deification of Julius Caesar the Roman republic fell, when it had been structurally sound for four centuries before? When the republic was established around the end of the 6th century B.C.E., the Romans made clear that they wished to avoid all semblance of the monarchy that had ruled for two centuries before. (T.J. Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000-264 BC), London and New York: Routledge, 1995; p. 215) The rule of the Republic was to be split into powers of the senate and consuls, a system that worked for over four centuries. The republic would face problems with the rise of the first triumvirate in 60 B.C.E., involving Julius Caesar, Crassus and Pompey. The triumvirate gained power that was intended to be in the hands of the senate and Roman assembly. This paved way to a situation in which a single man could sweep up the political power that previously belonged to the entire senate. Julius Caesar would use this tactic, following his campaigns of Gaul and Britton, to take sole dictatorship over Rome. While there were previous cases which individuals had been appointed as dictator, usually by the senate to serve for six months in a time of war, Caesar was appointed dictator three separate times.. After declining his first dictatorship, Caesar was awarded two more reigns as dictator for one and ten years, respectively. At this point Caesar was praised by the Roman people for his various military victories and had been awarded several awards and honors by the senate. Having conquered much of the surrounding territories, spanning from northern Africa to Greece, and enacting several reforms, Caesar was in the process of acquiring the most power a single man had ever documented in the Roman republic. Temples were being erected in his honor and he was being honored in ways that had never been done before. Caesar was becoming a living god in front of the senate. In order to stop his ascending reign, Caesar was executed.
Based on ancient Greek belief, Caesar’s work as a man had already been done and he was awarded the title Divus after his death, symbolizing his apotheosis to divine status. Caesar was deified after his death, at a level that had been done before only in honor of Romulus, the founder of Rome. Caesar had transcended man and become a god that once walked among men. Caesar’s accomplishments were not beyond conceivable for a man, although rare. By awarding Caesar honors and awards while he was alive, the Senate was creating a dictator that was beyond their own control. The Senate had deified Caesar as more than a man so they could justify his assassination. However, by the time Caesar was assassinated he had already changed the course of history, leaving an heir and a trail of followers that saw it was more than possible for one man to control Rome. Caesar’s apotheosis was a turning point for the Roman republic that...

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