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Why Did Caesar Fail And Augustus Succeed In Establishing Autocracy In Rome?

2040 words - 8 pages

Why did Caesar fail and Augustus succeed in establishing autocracy in Rome?Julius Caesar is arguably one of history's best generals. His reign ended only a few years after it began with his assassination, but Caesar's naïve nephew, Octavian, succeeded in establishing long and successful autocracy in Rome. However, this success may appear as a result of learning from Caesar's mistakes. A closer examination reveals Octavian as a shrewd politician who dealt more effectively with his enemies than Caesar, while presenting his right of absolute power as consistent with, rather than in opposition to both the laws and values of the Roman Republic.During his rise to power, Caesar effectively dealt with his main opponents, but in his arrogance failed to recognize potential dangers. The beginning of Julius Caesar's political career was protected politically by the First Triumvirate of 60 BC. The secret agreement between Crassus, Pompey and Caesar meant "Jointly [they swore] to oppose all public policies of which any of them might disapprove." This pact made it convenient for all three men to forward their careers without impeding each other's political ambitions. Tensions sparked between Pompey and Caesar and eventually these tensions led to the breakdown of the First Triumvirate. After the pact broke "the senate voted for the appointment of only a single consul, naming Pompey as their choice." This demonstrates reasoning for the senate and Pompey's order for Caesar to demobilize his legions; instead "he marched on Rome… [And] summoned the senate to review the political situation…" in revenge. After his successful battle for Rome, Caesar defeated Pompey's forces in Pharsalus and pursued Pompey to Egypt where he was murdered. Caesar also eliminated the threat of Pompey's two sons and their supporters, before they were able to reorganize. [1: Micheal Grant, Julius Caesar (Granada Publishing Ltd: London, 1969) p64][2: Suetonius Divus Julius, 19][3: Because of the deaths of both Crassus and Caesar's daughter Julia.][4: Suetonius Divus Julius 26][5: Suetonius Divus Julius 34][6: Mary T. Boatwright, The Romans, From Village to Empire (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2004) p242][7: Suetonius Divus Julius 35][8: Suetonius Divus Julius 35]Having eliminated Pompey and his supporters, Caesar felt secure offering forgiveness to the remaining minor followers, a mistake that had significant repercussions. Caesar failed to recognize the potential threat they posed, which included his future conspirators, and their interaction with the senate he now controlled. Caesar was murdered in 44 BC by the senate because of his own short sightedness. Because he demonstrated restraint and clemency he can be perceived as overconfident of his safety from spared conspirators. This is shown during the battle of Pharsalus, when Caesar gave clemency to Pompey's supporters by shouting "Save your fellow Romans!" allowing each soldier to rescue one other from the opposing...

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