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Why was Caesar at the Rubicon?

Why was Caesar at the Rubicon?



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"Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος" (anerriphtho kybos, lit. Let the die be cast) was attributed by Suetonius to Caesar when it was reported that some legionaries cross the Rubicon. Why did Caesar move to the Rubicon and stop there? Was it because after that, a civil war would be unavoidable and Caesar wanted to avoid it? Was it just an excuse to start the war anyway?


The Rubicon river marked the boundary between the province of Cisalpine Gaul and Italy proper. Caesar, as a proconsul, held imperium (the right to command) within the provinces, but only a consul or praetor could hold imperium inside Italy. Generals were expected to lay down their command and re-enter Italy as private citizens; not doing so would be seen as a threat to Rome. According to Wikipedia,

"Suetonius's account depicts Caesar as undecided as he approached the river, and attributes the crossing to a supernatural apparition",

suggesting that he was unsure whether to provoke civil war at that time.

His act of crossing the Rubicon leading fully armed soldiers immediately created a force in Italy in opposition to the Senate; thus, a civil war had begun.

Wikipedia has a much more detailed (and better cited!) section on this very subject.


Why Caesar crossed the Rubicon is a question none other than Caesar himself answered:

'They wanted it so. I, Gaius Caesar, in spite of such great deeds would have been condemned, had I not sought help from my army (hoc uoluerunt. tantis rebus gestis C. Caesar condemnatus essem nisi ab exercitu auxilium petissem).'
(Suet. Dl 30.4; Plut. Caes. 46.1. )

That alludes to his successes on the one hand and his not only potentially dire legal situation.

He made enemies, a lot of enemies, in the years leading up to this situation. But his actions of interior policy as consul in 59 went unpunished, in fact unpunishable, since he was holding office, or imperium.

He was faced with laying down arms and office to return to Rome and hold a triumph, but face a trial for misdeeds afterwards. To avoid that he wanted the consulship for 48. North of the Rubico he had immunity, legal protection for holding imperium, that is command over the legions in Gallia, and the resulting immunity from that he alsocould enforce himself with military might if need be.

Normally, he would have stand election for consulship in person, opening up all the legal pitfalls of being a private citizens without an army. His solution to that was trying to get elected to the position without being present. A clever move not unprecedented, as Pompeius was elected in absentia before. But allowing Caesar that would not only give him power again to behave in the same manner against the wishes of the optimates like he did in his first consulship. It would have also been the de facto submission of his enemies, equalling a public statement of 'no prosecution and no accusation' for his prior 'misdeeds'.

For Caesar it was either holding office - any high office - or face complete downfall. Seeing the distribution of troops and commanders within Italy it was also the opportunity for action.

At the beginning of the year 49 Caesar sent a letter in which he presented the old demands: he would either be entitled to apply for the consulate in absentia, or all troop commanders would have to be recalled. The Consul Lucius Cornelius Lentulus Crus did not even mention this. Instead, Caesar was now to be given a deadline by which to dismiss his army, otherwise he would be treated as a traitor.

Now Caesar's tribune interceded; negotiations were still feverish behind the scenes, and Caesar even allowed himself to be negotiated down to Illyricum and only one legion, to which Pompeius, but not Cato, wanted to respond.

This was the 'compromise' offered by Caesar as a way out of the stalemate situation in the Senate. But Caesar's proposal was not accepted and Antonius and Cassius blocked every other advance by their veto. Only the declaration of a state of emergency remained, with which Pompeius and other office holders were authorized to appropriate measures for the protection of the state. Antonius and Cassius, whose protection of immunity was precarious in a state of emergency, fled to Caesar, who was now able to write the defence of the people's tribune and thus of the people's rights of freedom on his flags.

For these reasons every thing was done in a hasty and disorderly manner, and neither was time given to Caesar's relations to inform him [of the state of affairs] nor liberty to the tribunes of the people to deprecate their own danger, nor even to retain the last privilege, which Sylla had left them, the interposing their authority; but on the seventh day they were obliged to think of their own safety, which the most turbulent tribunes of the people were not accustomed to attend to, nor to fear being called to an account for their actions, till the eighth month. Recourse is had to that extreme and final decree of the senate (which was never resorted to even by daring proposers except when the city was in danger of being set on fire, or when the public safety was despaired of). "That the consuls, praetors, tribunes of the people, and proconsuls in the city, should take care that the state received no injury." These decrees are dated the eighth day before the ides of January; therefore, in the first five days, on which the senate could meet, from the day on which Lentulus entered into his consulate, the two days of election excepted, the severest and most virulent decrees were passed against Caesar's government, and against those most illustrious characters, the tribunes of the people. The latter immediately made their escape from the city, and withdrew to Caesar, who was then at Ravenna, awaiting an answer to his moderate demands; [to see] if matters could be brought to a peaceful termination by any equitable act on the part of his enemies.
- Julius Caesar: "The Civil Wars", translated by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn

The consequence for this was clear: on 10 January 49 he crossed the Rubico, the border river between his province Gallia Cisalpina and Italy, and thus opened the civil war.

In defending his invasion of Italy to Lentulus Spinther, Caesar claims that one of the reasons he came out of his province was to assert the freedom of himself and the Roman people, who had been overwhelmed by the faction of the optimates; oppressum, though singular, surely qualifies se as well as populum Romanum (1.22.5). Indeed, Caelius reported in August 50 that Caesar was convinced that he could not survive (saluum esse, ap. Cic. Fam. 8.14.2) if he left his army; the reference must be to Caesar's political future. If, however, motivated by this political powerlessness, Caesar invaded Italy, it was imperative that he regularise his position as quickly as possible. Hence his (largely unsuccessful) efforts to persuade leading senators to remain in or return to Rome. An earlier action that showed Caesar's political weakness was the crossing of the Rubicon itself. It had been planned for some months. It revealed that Caesar was desperate to avoid prosecution. He had no remedy for the predicament he had created by his use of violence when consul in 59 apart from the further use of violence.
- GR Stanton: "Why Did Caesar Cross the Rubicon?", Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Bd. 52, H. 1, 2003, pp. 67-94. (jstor)

At the Rubico he reached the boundary for his imperium geographically and he reached the limits of his office term at the same time. He marched on Rome - as far as legal limits allowed and near enough to show force as well as at least feigning to be ready to compromise. His very brief stay at the river was stopping at barking but not biting, yet.


Question:
Why was Caesar at the Rubicon?

Short Answer:
The perception was Caesar was at the Rubicon, with a single legion (1/10th of his available forces) to seek terms in his confrontation with his political rivals who controlled the Senate. That Caesar subsequently crossed the Rubicon, invading Rome reluctantly only after his moderate requirements for peace were refused. Another popular belief is that Caesar was at the Rubicon to pursue his life long ambition to invade and conquer Rome by force and that all his posturing and offering terms were a façade to make him appear weak in order to goad and embolden his political enemies to fool hardy action. Caesar wanted to be seen as being reluctant and forced to invade rather than be seen as the aggressor.

Detailed Answer
The first Triumvirate beginning in 60BC was an informal alliance between three great men of Rome. These men did not agree on political issues but rather agreed to support each other as each worked for his own benefit. The three men were:

  • Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Romes greatest war hero and general, (up to that point).
  • Marcus Licinius Crassus, Rome's richest citizen.
  • Gaius Julius Caesar, who was politically popular on the basis of his family's name, political support for popular reforms, and his office. Caesar at the time of the forming of this alliance was the chief priest of Rome (Pontifex Maximus) which gave him significant political influence. Caesar though was perceived to be the weakest of the three great men when the triumvirate was formed.

Through the triumvirate alliance Pompeius remained in Rome solidifying his power and Crassus and Caesar would leave Rome to seek military fame and wealth as governors of remote unruly provinces. Crasus in Syria and Caesar in Gaul.

The First Triumvirate
Caesar was at the time very well connected with the Populares faction, which pushed for social reforms. He was moreover Pontifex Maximus-the chief priest in the Roman religion-and could significantly influence politics, notably through the interpretation of the auspices. Pompey was the greatest military leader of the time, having notably won the wars against Sertorius (80-72 BC), Mithridates (73-63 BC), and the Cilician Pirates (66 BC). Although he won the war against Spartacus (73-71 BC), Crassus was mostly known for his fabulous wealth, which he acquired through intense land speculation.

Through this alliance Caesar acquired wealth and greatly enhanced his fame and military reputation as Governor of Gaul. Their alliance ended, when Marcus Crassus was killed in 53 BC.

Pompey

  • Plutarch thought that fear of Crassus had led Pompey and Caesar to be decent to each other and his death paved the way for the subsequent friction between these two men and the events that eventually led to civil war.
  • Florus wrote: "Caesar's power now inspired the envy of Pompey, while Pompey's eminence was offensive to Caesar; Pompey could not brook an equal or Caesar a superior.
  • Seneca wrote that with regard to Caesar, Pompey "would ill endure that anyone besides himself should become a great power in the state, and one who was likely to place a check upon his advancement, which he had regarded as onerous even when each gained by the other's rise:

In 50 BC Caesar's former ally Pompey was now allied with the Roman Senate. They conspired to strip Caesar of his political immunity as governor of Gaul, prosecute him for "insubordination and treason". Governors of Roman provinces gained wealth by extortion and bootie from conquests. Caesar had not restricted his "franchise" to Gaul but had also raided into neighboring provinces. An offense his political enemies now wished to use against him.

They hoped to strip him of his office and immunity, force him to accept banishment for some period of time. The Senate and Pompey hoped the scandal and subsequent disgrace would weaken Caesar politically.

Crossing the Rubicon by a Roman Army was an act of aggression against Rome. Roman armies were raised and maintained by personal fortunes and benefited greatly financially from having successful aggressive leaders like Caesar. Thus their loyalty was to their commanders and not to the state / Rome. Caesars motivation for crossing the Rubicon, and invading Rome was perceived to be a response to the aggressive actions by the Senate and his former ally Pompey but their is another school of thought which proposes an alternative view. That Caesar was a supremely ambitious guy, who saw himself in direct competition with Alexander the Great from a young age as the greatest conqueror in history. That he always desired to invade and conquer Rome and that he was savvy enough politically to make it appear to be his opponents fault.

Pompey received false reports that Caesar's troops were not loyal to him, and wished to support Pompey in his confrontation with Caesar. Reports which emboldened Pompey. Caesar also crossed the alps with but a single legion, his 13th Legion (6000 men) a relatively small force. Caesar had been granted command of 4 legions when he left for Gaul and the historian Livius says had 10 legions at his command in Gaul. Bringing only a single legion makes him appear weak and unprepared confrontation.

Prior to crossing the Rubicon Caesar offered terms to the senate. Caesar offered to disband his legions and retain only two legions if offered governorship of the province of Illyricum. Later he reduced his requirements to only a single legion. If granted this position it would give him immunity from prosecution from his enemies and give him time to use his popularity and fortune to run for console. Makes Caesar appear to prefer a political outcome rather than a military one.

In part because of the perception of Caesar's weakness, the Senate over reached. It declared the popular Caesar an enemy of the state, and seemingly forced his hand to invade Rome. The Senate and Pompey believed evidently weak Caesar would not cross the Rubicon with a single legion giving Pompey time raise forces to oppose him. Caesar however; attacked and his single legion of veterans from Gaul proved more than a match for Pompey's forces.


From: Comments

LangLangC But why 'schools', who are prominent members of these schools? (That also means: imo the 'Caesar mastermind"pole' is not impossible and offers a few interesting details & alternatives, but seems a rather unlikely variant in all these details. Too many variables, too long game… )

You are not wrong. There is debate about Caesar's motivation in seeking peace. As I said two schools of thought. I believe the more supported belief by historians is Caesar invited Pompey's and the Senate's aggression. Making himself appear weak, reasonable and vulnerable to provoke them into conflict in which he was perceived to be their victim. This theme was first proposed by the Roman historian Suetonius in his Twelve Caesars and has widely held by historians. It was opposed by the respected historian Theodor Mommsen.

The machinations and as you say, "long game" is why Julius Caesar goes down as not just one of the greatest military leaders of all time, but one of the greatest political strategists too.

Caesar's Sincerity in Negotiating for Peace
Given the fact that Caesar did make a number of attempts to negotiate a peaceful compromise with Pompey and the Senate both prior to and after the crossing of the Rubicon, it must now be determined whether these offers were indeed sincere. It has been observed that, before Mommsen, the great majority of historians accepted the opinion reported by Suetonius that Caesar had been determined to seek supreme power by force since his youth38. As such some historians - like Hardy - believed that Caesar's peace offers were made because "he knew that they would be refused. In other words, such offers were made for the purpose of deceiving public opinion and of creating disunity in the ranks of his opponents. Other historians - such as Schmidt - cited a letter by Cicero and were convinced that Caesar's various offers of peace were merely a ruse in so far as they were apt to delay military action on the part of his opponents. Mommsen, however, challenged these views by contending that all of Caesar's proposals were sincere and that it was only the folly and obstinacy of his opponents which made them reject these offers and so made a war to the bitter end inevitable. He was in turn supported by such historians as Meyer, Syme and Adcock. As can be seen, three different alternatives exist


Crossing the Rubicon

C.E. Stevens explains how, by crossing the Rubicon, Julius Caesar challenged the power of the Roman Senate, and opened the way for the foundation of the Roman Empire.

At least four alleged, episodes in ancient history have become commonplaces of ordinary language. One is fictitious: Alexander did not weep because there were no more worlds to conquer. Two are very doubtful: Alexander, if he did anything to the Gordian Knot, untied rather than cut it and Nero, according to Tacitus, did not 'fiddle while Rome was burning.' But Julius Caesar did, in fact, 'cross the Rubicon,' even though we cannot be certain which streamlet between Ravenna and Rimini once bore that name.

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This Day In History: Julius Caesar Crosses the Rubicon (55 BC)

This day in history in 55 B.C.- Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River and starts a civil war in the Roman Republic. There had been many civil wars in the previous century but the one started by Caesar was to change Roman history forever. The river Rubicon was considered to be the dividing line between Italy and the rest of the Empire. Any general who led an army across this river was committing an act of treason against the state and was officially a traitor. Caesar took this extraordinary action in order to ensure that he retained control of his army. He had used this army to conquer Gaul but he had refused to relinquish command of this army at the appointed time. At this time the legions of Rome were personally loyal to their commander and not to the Senate of Rome. The legionaries in Caesar&rsquos army were more loyal to him than Rome. This was a real problem for Rome and it resulted in an endless series of wars in the First Century B.C.

Flickr (Statue of Julius Caesar at the Louvre)

He believed that if he did that his many enemies in Rome would have him imprisoned or even executed. Caesar felt that he had no choice but to defy the Roman Senate which he believed wanted him sidelined or even dead. When he crossed the Rubicon, he was well-aware of the consequences but he was as ever prepared for a fight.

When the Roman Senate heard that Caesar had crossed the Rubicon there was uproar. However, they had no army with which to defend the city and the army of Caesar occupied the city and within weeks, the rest of Italy. Under the leadership of Pompey the Great, the senators assembled an army in the Balkans. Caesar crossed into the Balkans and he defeated the army of Pompey. However, the civil war was far from over. Soon there were anti-Caesarian revolts all over the Empire. Even the assassination of Pompey in Egypt did not end the Civil War. Eventually, Caesar was able to subdue the Empire and he made himself the dictator of Rome. He was a king in all but name. This aroused the resentment of many in the elite, although the people loved Caesar. There was a conspiracy against Caesar and he was assassinated as he entered the Roman Senate House. This started another civil war and this was one by Mark Anthony and Octavian. In a later civil war, Octavian (grand-nephew of Caesar) defeated Mark Anthony. Octavian later became Augustus, the de-facto first Emperor of Rome. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon he set off a chain of events that led to the fall of the Roman Republic and the emergence of an Imperial system in Rome.


Immunity in Roman law

While both Roman and U.S. law render certain officeholders immune from prosecution while in office, the Romans theorized the relationship between power and office differently than U.S. law.

Roman law granted immunity to certain elected officials whose offices entitled the holder to “imperium” or “potestas” or to officials whose office was “sacred.”

Offices with “imperium” are closest to what we might consider presidential powers. The term translates generally as “the right to command.” “Imperium” allowed the officeholder to exercise authority over a range of matters, such as military command, legislative authority, the maintenance of public order and the power of coercion (ranging from incarceration to capital punishment).


Family background and career

Caesar’s gens, the Julii, were patricians—i.e., members of Rome’s original aristocracy, which had coalesced in the 4th century bce with a number of leading plebeian (commoner) families to form the nobility that had been the governing class in Rome since then. By Caesar’s time, the number of surviving patrician gentes was small and in the gens Julia the Caesares seem to have been the only surviving family. Though some of the most powerful noble families were patrician, patrician blood was no longer a political advantage it was actually a handicap, since a patrician was debarred from holding the paraconstitutional but powerful office of tribune of the plebs. The Julii Caesares traced their lineage back to the goddess Venus, but the family was not snobbish or conservative-minded. It was also not rich or influential or even distinguished.

A Roman noble won distinction for himself and his family by securing election to a series of public offices, which culminated in the consulship, with the censorship possibly to follow. This was a difficult task for even the ablest and most gifted noble unless he was backed by substantial family wealth and influence. Rome’s victory over Carthage in the Second Punic War (218–201 bce ) had made Rome the paramount power in the Mediterranean basin an influential Roman noble family’s clients (that is, protégés who, in return, gave their patrons their political support) might include kings and even whole nations, besides numerous private individuals. The requirements and the costs of a Roman political career in Caesar’s day were high, and the competition was severe but the potential profits were of enormous magnitude. One of the perquisites of the praetorship and the consulship was the government of a province, which gave ample opportunity for plunder. The whole Mediterranean world was, in fact, at the mercy of the Roman nobility and of a new class of Roman businessmen, the equites (“knights”), which had grown rich on military contracts and on tax farming.

Military manpower was supplied by the Roman peasantry. This class had been partly dispossessed by an economic revolution following on the devastation caused by the Second Punic War. The Roman governing class had consequently come to be hated and discredited at home and abroad. From 133 bce onward there had been a series of alternate revolutionary and counter-revolutionary paroxysms. It was evident that the misgovernment of the Roman state and the Greco-Roman world by the Roman nobility could not continue indefinitely and it was fairly clear that the most probable alternative was some form of military dictatorship backed by dispossessed Italian peasants who had turned to long-term military service.

The traditional competition among members of the Roman nobility for office and the spoils of office was thus threatening to turn into a desperate race for seizing autocratic power. The Julii Caesares did not seem to be in the running. It was true that Sextus Caesar, who was perhaps the dictator’s uncle, had been one of the consuls for 91 bce and Lucius Caesar, one of the consuls for 90 bce , was a distant cousin, whose son and namesake was consul for 64 bce . In 90 bce , Rome’s Italian allies had seceded from Rome because of the Roman government’s obstinate refusal to grant them Roman citizenship, and, as consul, Lucius Caesar had introduced emergency legislation for granting citizenship to the citizens of all Italian ally states that had not taken up arms or that had returned to their allegiance.

Whoever had been consul in this critical year would have had to initiate such legislation, whatever his personal political predilections. There is evidence, however, that the Julii Caesares, though patricians, had already committed themselves to the antinobility party. An aunt of the future dictator had married Gaius Marius, a self-made man (novus homo) who had forced his way up to the summit by his military ability and had made the momentous innovation of recruiting his armies from the dispossessed peasants.

The date of Caesar the dictator’s birth has long been disputed. The day was July 12 or 13 the traditional (and perhaps most probable) year is 100 bce but if this date is correct, Caesar must have held each of his offices two years in advance of the legal minimum age. His father, Gaius Caesar, died when Caesar was but 16 his mother, Aurelia, was a notable woman, and it seems certain that he owed much to her.

In spite of the inadequacy of his resources, Caesar seems to have chosen a political career as a matter of course. From the beginning, he probably privately aimed at winning office, not just for the sake of the honours but in order to achieve the power to put the misgoverned Roman state and Greco-Roman world into better order in accordance with ideas of his own. It is improbable that Caesar deliberately sought monarchical power until after he had crossed the Rubicon in 49 bce , though sufficient power to impose his will, as he was determined to do, proved to mean monarchical power.

In 84 bce Caesar committed himself publicly to the radical side by marrying Cornelia, a daughter of Lucius Cornelius Cinna, a noble who was Marius’s associate in revolution. In 83 bce Lucius Cornelius Sulla returned to Italy from the East and led the successful counter-revolution of 83–82 bce Sulla then ordered Caesar to divorce Cornelia. Caesar refused and came close to losing not only his property (such as it was) but his life as well. He found it advisable to remove himself from Italy and to do military service, first in the province of Asia and then in Cilicia.

In 78 bce , after Sulla’s death, he returned to Rome and started on his political career in the conventional way, by acting as a prosecuting advocate—of course, in his case, against prominent Sullan counter-revolutionaries. His first target, Gnaeus Cornelius Dolabella, was defended by Quintus Hortensius, the leading advocate of the day, and was acquitted by the extortion-court jury, composed exclusively of senators.

Caesar then went to Rhodes to study oratory under a famous professor, Molon. En route he was captured by pirates (one of the symptoms of the anarchy into which the Roman nobility had allowed the Mediterranean world to fall). Caesar raised his ransom, raised a naval force, captured his captors, and had them crucified—all this as a private individual holding no public office. In 74 bce , when Mithradates VI Eupator, king of Pontus, renewed war on the Romans, Caesar raised a private army to combat him.

In his absence from Rome, Caesar was made a member of the politico-ecclesiastical college of pontifices and on his return he gained one of the elective military tribuneships. Caesar now worked to undo the Sullan constitution in cooperation with Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius), who had started his career as a lieutenant of Sulla but had changed sides since Sulla’s death. In 69 or 68 bce Caesar was elected quaestor (the first rung on the Roman political ladder). In the same year his wife, Cornelia, and his aunt Julia, Marius’s widow, died. In public funeral orations in their honour, Caesar found opportunities for praising Cinna and Marius. Caesar afterward married Pompeia, a distant relative of Pompey. Caesar served his quaestorship in the province of Farther Spain (modern Andalusia and Portugal).

Caesar was elected one of the curule aediles for 65 bce , and he celebrated his tenure of this office by unusually lavish expenditure with borrowed money. He was elected pontifex maximus in 63 bce by a political dodge. By now he had become a controversial political figure. After the suppression of Catiline’s conspiracy in 63 bce , Caesar, as well as the millionaire Marcus Licinius Crassus, was accused of complicity. It seems unlikely that either of them had committed himself to Catiline but Caesar proposed in the Senate a more merciful alternative to the death penalty, which the consul Cicero was asking for the arrested conspirators. In the uproar in the Senate, Caesar’s motion was defeated.

Caesar was elected a praetor for 62 bce . Toward the end of the year of his praetorship, a scandal was caused by Publius Clodius in Caesar’s house at the celebration there of the rites, for women only, of Bona Dea (a Roman deity of fruitfulness, both in the Earth and in women). Caesar consequently divorced Pompeia. He obtained the governorship of Farther Spain for 61–60 bce . His creditors did not let him leave Rome until Crassus had gone bail for a quarter of his debts but a military expedition beyond the northwest frontier of his province enabled Caesar to win loot for himself as well as for his soldiers, with a balance left over for the treasury. This partial financial recovery enabled him, after his return to Rome in 60 bce , to stand for the consulship for 59 bce .


Why was Caesar at the Rubicon? - History

This Day In History: January 10, 49 BC

On this day in history, 49 BC, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon with a legion of his soldiers, which was against Roman law. Specifically, Governors of Roman provinces (promagistrates) were not allowed to bring any part of their army within Italy itself and, if they tried, they automatically forfeited their right to rule, even in their own province. The only ones who were allowed to command soldiers in Italy were consuls or preators. This act of leading his troops into Italy would have meant Caesar’s execution and the execution of any soldier who followed him, had he failed in his conquest. Caesar was initially heading to Rome to stand trial for various charges, by order of the Senate. According to the historian Suetonius, Caesar wasn’t at first sure whether he’d bring his soldiers with him or come quietly, but he ultimately made the decision to march on Rome.

Shortly after the news hit Rome that Caesar was coming with an army, many of the Senators, along with the consuls G. Claudius Marcellus and L. Cornelius Lentulus Crus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, a.k.a. Pompey (Caesar’s chief rival for power who was supporting the Senate), fled Rome. Somewhat humorously, they were under the impression that Caesar was bringing nearly his whole army to Rome. Instead, he was just bringing one legion, which was largely outnumbered by the forces Pompey and his allies had at their disposal. Never-the-less, they fled and after a four year struggle, Caesar was victorious and Pompey fled to Egypt where he was assassinated. Caesar then became Dictator Perpetuus of Rome. This appointment and changes within the government that happened in the aftermath ultimately led to the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire.

Interestingly, despite the Rubicon once signifying the boundary between Cisalpine Gaul and Italy proper, the exact location of the river was lost to history until quite recently. The river’s location was initially lost primarily because it was a very small river, of no major size or importance, other than as a convenient border landmark. Thus, when Augustus merged the northern province of Cisalpine Gaul into Italy proper, it ceased to be a border and which river it was exactly gradually faded from history.

Thanks to occasional flooding of the region until around the 14th or 15th centuries, the course of the river also frequently changed with very little of it thought to still follow the original course, excepting the upper regions. In the 14th and 15th centuries, various mechanisms were put in place to prevent flooding and to regulate somewhat the paths of many rivers in that region to accommodate agricultural endeavors. This flooding and eventual regulation of the rivers’ paths further made it difficult to decipher which river was actually the Rubicon.

Various rivers were proposed as candidates, but the correct theory wasn’t proposed until 1933, namely what now is called the Fiumicino with the crossing likely being somewhere around the present day industrial town of Savignano sul Rubicone (which incidentally was called Savignano di Romagna, before 1991). This theory wasn’t proven until about 58 years later in 1991 when scholars, using various historical texts, managed to triangulate the exact distance from Rome to the Rubicon at 199 miles (320 km). Following Roman roads of the day and other evidence, they then were able to deduce where exactly the original Rubicon had been and which river today was once the Rubicon (the Fiumicino river today is about 1 mile away from where the Rubicon used to flow around that crossing site).


Down to the River

The day before the crossing, Caesar acted as if nothing unusual was happening. The conqueror of Gaul attended a public event in Ravenna and carefully examined plans for a gladiator school. Secretly, he had ordered his cohorts to proceed to the banks of the river and wait for him there. Later, during dinner that night, he told his guests he would have to leave them for a moment. A chariot pulled by mules from a nearby bakery was waiting for him outside, and after a considerable delay in finding the exact position of his troops, he eventually managed to join them on the bank. Here he mulled the agonizing choice that lay before him.

Writing around a century and a half later, the historian Suetonius produced an account of this moment that reveals the legendary status the event had attained in the Roman mind. Still unsure whether to advance, a man of extraordinary height and beauty appeared, clearly sent by the gods. “The apparition snatched a trumpet from one of them, rushed to the river, and sounding the war-note with mighty blast, strode to the opposite bank. Then Caesar cried: ‘Take we the course which the signs of the gods and the false dealing of our foes point out. The die is cast.’”


The Day the World Ended: Caesar Crosses the Rubicon

The Rubicon was a small, insignificant river that once acted as the border between Roman Italy proper and Cisalpine Gaul (a providence in modern day Northern Italy).

By the year 49 B.C. this providence had been in Roman control for hundreds of years, so long that the border held very little importance, except in one aspect.

To cross the Rubicon at the head of an army was forbidden. It was an act of war against the Roman senate itself.

Even for a Roman General with a Roman crossing the Rubicon would be taken as an act of war.

Knowing all of this, Julius Caesar sat on the bank at the head of a Legion of soldiers, deciding whether to cross or not.

Caesar was stuck between the definition of a rock and a hard place. Ten years ago he had served as Consul (equivalent to a modern president) of the senate. While in office he had twisted a few arms, and broken a few laws, to push his agenda. This was not exactly unheard of at the time, but Caesar had made some powerful enemies.

When his time in office had expired (terms as consul lasted one year) he had secured himself a position as the Governor of Gaul (France). This position brought him wealth, honor, a continued military command, but most importantly, it brought him immunity.

Roman citizens were immune from standing trial as long as they held certain positions of power within the government.

The laws he had broken may have been swept under the rug if he had been any other man, but this was Caesar. He was deeply influential with the populace, and hated by the ruling elite.

They wanted his titles and accomplishments stripped from him, leaving him incapable of ever holding office again. Banishment was possible as well.

He could run for Consul once every ten years, and in the interval he would have his time as Governor continually extended. By continually jumping between these positions, he could still remain in power and also never be found guilty in a political witch hunt (from Caesar’s perspective anyways).

All he needed was time. Eventually, his political faction would be strong enough that he may not need this crafty reshuffling.

For nine years everything worked out perfectly.

Yes there was significant pressure to remove him from office, but his faction had been able to hold off every significant assault. He would win re-election and could reset the board, now with more pieces at his disposal.

But at the eleventh hour, it all fell apart.

With one year remaining before he could run for Consul again, the Senate brought forth a vote that his political party could not stop. He would be removed from office and tried before his enemies.

He could submit, and watch as his entire life’s work was ripped apart by his enemies, or he could rebel.

So here he sat, on the bank of the Rubicon, all night.

When his legion had formed in the morning, he is said to have paused in contemplation, then spoke.


How Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon

The phrase “mix the Rubicon”, that’s to create a work that is determining, not providing more possibilities to fix your decision, established a fact. The majority are likewise conscious of the truth that his look is definitely an appearance of obligation Julius Caesar…

Much less is famous by what the Rubicon, and just why this task is just a politician, and under what conditions handed Caesar herself transpired ever.

I century’s center BC the Republic experienced inner disaster. Concurrently using the conquests’ excellent achievements having issues within the management program that is public.

The Senate is hooked in the leading generals who gained popularity and recognition within the conquests, and also squabbles, he regarded departing the gadget that was Republican in support of the monarchy and also the dictatorship.

Military leader Julius Caesar and an effective politician were some of those who recommended central energy but wasn’t averse to concentrate it.

In 62 BC in Rome shaped a triumvirate — actually, the Republic started initially to handle three of the very formidable politician and leader: Marcus Crassus gnaws Pompey and Julius Caesar.

Crassus, who’d suppressed the revolt of Spartacus, and Pompey, who gained amazing victories had a state for as soon as couldn’t deal with the resistance of the Senate, although to single energy.

Caesar at that time was observed more like a politician who were able to convince to Crassus and Marriage openly Pompey. The chance of Caesar whilst Rome’s single mind looked over the full time a lot more moderate.

Triumvirate — Crassus Pompey and Caesar

After brought the armies in Gaul the problem transformed, Caesar gained the war’s seven decades. Beauty to Caesar whilst the leader besides, and swept up using the beauty of Pompey, he’d soldiers faithful to him which had turn into a severe debate within the battle that is political.

After 53 Crassus murdered in Mesopotamia, the query got down seriously too, who of both deserving competitors, Caesar and Pompey, will end up the only leader of Rome.

For quite some time, competitors have attempted to steadfastly keep up the stability that was fragile, not attempting to slip into civil war. And Caesar and Pompey had scores faithful for them, however, they resolved along within the vanquished provinces.

Legally, when the Peninsula wasn’t performed military procedures, the leader had no to come right into the edges of Croatia in the mind of the soldiers.

From fifty BC’s fall, the disaster within the relationships between Caesar and Pompey has already reached its maximum. Both events having didn’t agree with new “spheres of impact” started initially to get ready for a conflict that was definitive.

A natural position was originally taken by the Senate, however, the Pompey followers were able to convince a big part in his benefit. Caesar had declined forces of proconsul expansion in Gaul, which permitted the soldiers to be commanded by him.

Like an opponent of the ” building ” in the Caesar Pompey, who’d at his removal legions placed herself meanwhile.

1 Jan 49 BC the Senate announced Croatia under martial-law, hired by Pompey leader-in-chief and it has established the job to prevent the political uncertainty. Underneath the troubles’ firing intended the Caesar of his forces of proconsul in Gaul inclusion. In case his dedication was started products that were military.

the Senate, although Caesar was prepared to lay out the military energy, but only when exactly the same concur Pompey didn’t do it now.

About the day of 10 Jan 49, Caesar has obtained information of the formulations of the Senate in Gaul and of Pompey from his running from Rome followers. 1/2 of the faithful causes (2500 legionaries) was about the edge of the land of Cisalpine Gaul (today Upper Italy) and France. A little nearby water Rubicon was run along by the edge.

For Caesar it’s period crucial choices — or, distributing towards deciding the Senate, or faithful soldiers to mix the river on Rome breaking the regulations that in case there is a disappointment, endangered with impending demise.

Self-confidence within Caesar’s achievement wasn’t — no, although he was well-known popular Pompey and was the Gallic battle tempered his scores, however, the troopers of Pompey wasn’t worse.

But using the soldiers BC Caesar made a decision on 10 Jan 49 to mix March and the Rubicon on Rome, foreshadowing the near future span of Roman background but additionally their own destiny.

Traversing the Rubicon in the troops’ mind, a civil war was hence begun by Caesar. the Senate frustrated the rapidity of motion of Caesar, and Pompey using the causes that were accessible didn’t care to speak to protect Rome as well as to fulfill. Meanwhile, privately of the evolving Caesar entered the garrisons of his cities, which increased the assurance of his followers and the leader in supreme achievement.

Pompey didn’t provide Caesar in Croatia definitive fight, wishing to get using the aid of nearby causes and having removed into the land. Caesar herself, just passing having been taken by his supporters he visited follow the adversary.

Selection of Caesar can’t be transformed

The civil war may drag on for four lengthy decades, even though primary challenger of Caesar, Pompey is likely to be murdered (from the will of Caesar) after his beat in the fight of Pharsalus. Lastly, some Pompeian celebration that is actual is likely to be conquered just prior to the demise of Caesar in 45 BC.

Officially, Caesar turned Emperor in the word’s current feeling, though because it was announced master in 49 BC, the year 44 BC was just grown, towards by his forces, he’d a nearly total group of characteristics of the power.

Energy by Caesar’s constant centralization triggered the conspiracy of the advocates of Rome and followed closely by the increasing loss of impact of the Senate.

The Murder Of Caesar

March 15, 44 BC, the conspirators assaulted Caesar within the building of the Senate’s conferences. Among the hits nevertheless proved deadly, although all of the injuries were shallow.

Something isn’t realized by murders: Caesar was very popular among middle-classes of Rome and the lower courses. The folks were exceptionally angered using the outcome they themselves needed to flee from Rome, from the conspiracy of the aristocrats.

Following Caesar’s demise, the Republic flattened totally. His Gaius Octavius, an heir of Caesar, turned the only Roman Emperor. The Rubicon has been previously entered.


6b. Julius Caesar


Julius Caesar's military might, political savvy, and diplomatic genius made him supremely popular among the Roman citizenry.

The first conspirator greeted Caesar, then plunged a knife into his neck. Other stabbers followed suit. One by one, several members of the Senate took turns stabbing Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.E.), the dictator of the entire Roman Empire.

Stunned that even his good friend Brutus was in on the plot, Caesar choked out his final words: "'kai su, teknon?" ("You too, my child?").

On the steps of the Senate, the most powerful man in the ancient world died in a pool of his own blood.

About "Et tu, Brute?"


Roman soldiers' appearance changed very little over the centuries. The army of Julius Caesar looked very similar to the soldiers in this 2nd-century B.C.E. carving.

In William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, the title character manages to utter "Et tu, Brute?" ("and you, Brutus?") as he is slain. This is not historically accurate.

According to the 1st century C.E. Roman historian Suetonius, Julius Caesar spoke mainly Greek and not Latin, as was the case with most patricians at the time. In his history about the life of Julius Caesar, Suetonius writes that as the assassins plunged their daggers into the dictator, Caesar saw Brutus and spoke the Greek phrase kai su, teknon, meaning "you too, my child."

There is still debate whether or not it was shouted in shock or said as a warning. On one hand, Caesar may have been amazed to find a close friend like Brutus trying to kill him on the other hand, he may have meant that Brutus would pay for his crime in the future for this treachery. Either way, the words were Greek, so leave "Et tu, Brute" for Shakespeare.


Roman coins celebrated Caesar's military victories in Gaul (present-day France).

Long before Julius Caesar became dictator (from 47-44 B.C.E.) and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Republic had entered a state of rapid decline. The rich had become wealthier and more powerful as a result of Rome's many military successes.

Meanwhile, life for the average Roman seemed to be getting worse. Attempts to reform the situation by two brothers, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, were met with opposition that eventually resulted in their deaths.


Julius Caesar led his Roman legions as far north as Britain in 55 B.C.E. He and his army may have seen this view upon landing at Deal Beach.
In this 19th-century painting by Abel de Pujol, Caesar leaves his wife on the Ides of March, the day of his murder.

A Revolting Development

Spartacus (109-71 B.C.E.) was a captured soldier who was sold into slavery to be a gladiator. But he escaped his captors and formed an army of rebel slaves. Against great odds, Spartacus's slave army defeated two Roman battalions.

Spartacus wanted to leave Italy, but his army and supporters of the slave revolt urged him to attack Rome. A Roman army led by Crassus finally defeated Spartacus and his men.

Over 5,000 men from Spartacus's army were crucified along Rome's main road, the Appian Way, as a warning to other slaves not to revolt.

Finally, a new practice developed in which the army was paid with gold and land. Soldiers no longer fought for the good of the Republic but fought instead for tangible rewards. Gradually, soldiers became more loyal to the generals who could pay them than to the Roman Republic itself. It was within this changing atmosphere that military leaders such as Julius Caesar were able to seize control of and put an end to the Roman Republic.

Julius Caesar was a man of many talents. Born into the patrician class, Caesar was intelligent, educated, and cultivated. An excellent speaker, he possessed a sharp sense of humor, charm, and personality. All of these traits combined helped make him a skilled politician.

Moreover, Caesar was a military genius. His many successful military campaigns gained him broad support and popularity among the common people. Caesar also won the undying loyalty of his soldiers, who supplied him with the necessary muscle to seize power.

Julius Caesar began his rise to power in 60 B.C.E. by forging an alliance with another general, Pompey, and a wealthy patrician, Crassus. Together, these three men assumed control of the Roman Republic, and Caesar was thrust into the position of consul. Historians have since dubbed the period of rule by these three men the First Triumvirate.

Over time, however, the triumvirate broke down. Crassus was killed in battle, and Pompey began entertaining ideas of ruling without the dangerously popular Caesar. While Caesar was fighting in Gaul (modern-day France), Pompey and the Senate ordered Caesar to return to Rome without his army. But when Caesar crossed the Rubicon River in northern Italy, he brought his army with him in defiance of the senate's order. This fateful decision led to a civil war. Caesar defeated Pompey's forces and entered Rome in 46 B.C.E., triumphant and unchallenged.

Upon his return, Caesar made himself dictator and absolute ruler of Rome and its territories. During his rule, he enacted several reforms. Caesar founded many colonies in newly conquered territories and provided land and opportunity for poor Romans who chose to migrate there. He reduced the number of slaves and opened citizenship up to people living in the provinces. Finally, he created a new calendar named the Julian calendar. This very calendar, with a few minor adjustments, is the same one used around the world today.


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