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Gaius Julius Caesar was highly responsible for the fall of the Roman Republic

Gaius Julius Caesar was highly responsible for the fall of the Roman Republic, his success in placing himself in an incredibly powerful position, allowed him to threaten Rome itself. Caesar gained provinceship in Gaul, which led him to having extreme political power. He also gained popularity through political alliances, giving him support to reach the head of the cursus honorum, for example the first triumvirate. The civil war between Pompey and Caesar lead to Caesar being nominated as dictator for life which impacted the fall of the republic.

Caesar’s political alliance of the First Triumvirate had a major impact on the fall of the Roman Republic as it showed the senate had started to lose control. The First Triumvirate involved the Gaius Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus and was formed in 59 BC. The alliance was set and finalised when Caesar married his daughter, Julia to Pompey. Pompey was considered one of the greatest generals of Rome and Crassus, the wealthiest man, both gave Caesar support and popularity in order to reach the position of consul. In 59 BC, Caesar was elected co-consul with Bibulus, Caesar was unable to push Pompey’s agenda or any of his other reforms through the Senate. Thus, he went to the people’s assembly where Bibulus tried to stop him, however was thrown down the stairs of the temple of Castor and was showered with garbage (Ancient History Encyclopedia), he left the public life allowing Caesar to rule as consul. The death of Crassus had split the triumvirate, and the death of Julia, Pompey’s wife and Caesar’s daughter, had ended the triumvirate. With 40,000 soldiers, Caesar crossed the Rubicon and returned to Rome. He was wealthier and more powerful, desiring a return to politics and the consulship. Pompey had been favoured by the senate, even given consulship in 52 BC, he was defined as a saviour of the defender of the republic. Caesar demanded a stand for consulship, Pompey agreed, however, the senate wanted Caesar’s command to end. Suetonius wrote Caesar said “they would have condemned me regardless of all my victories.” The senate continued to make allegations against Caesar, saying he should give up his army and province in Gaul. The first triumvirate had impacted the fall of the Roman Republic as it showed the senate was losing control of the state, and it wouldn’t be long until an empire came along. Caesar’s fierce power, made the senate lose control leading to the fall of the Roman republic. Plutarch states in the life of Caesar, 28 that “The collapse of good government in Rome … city was left with no government at all … things ended in nothing worse than a monarchy.” This is also supported by Professor Averil Cameron’s statement that the word “king was the most dangerous word that could be uttered in Roman politics” showing that the government wasn’t strong, nor had as much power as it used to because the First Triumvirate was formed, leading to the Roman Empire. The first triumvirate appealed directly to the popular assembly, which was comprised of the plebeian class, because the first triumvirate clashed with the conservative optimates, whereas Caesar, Pompey and Crassus were considered populares, meaning they were for the people. Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill says that “the fame and glory derived from the fact he did it for the Roman people”. The optimates refused changes dealing with Rome’s expansion. Additionally, through the end of the First Triumvirate, Caesar laid the foundations for change to an Empire through his actions, such as the civil war between Pompey and Caesar. Therefore, Caesar was extremely responsible for the fall of the Roman republic.

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Another impact of the fall of the Roman Republic was his success in maneuvering himself into an extremely powerful position where he was able to jeopardize Rome. Caesar was the first Roman general to cross the Rhine river and the channel as he invaded Britain, this victory gave him significant political power which eventually lead to the civil war between Pompey and Caesar. He acquired province in Gaul where he could gather wealth, territory for Rome and build up allies and supporters for himself. Through force he was able to stay in Gaul for up to 8 years, which is detailed in the (Caesar: Gallic Wars). These are descriptions created by Caesar to tell the Senate his plans and achievements in the battles and receive popularity. Caesar wanted to enhance his reputations through military victory this would also provide him with enormous wealth. In 58 BC however, the Helvetii, a tribe from what is now Switzerland, tried to migrate across part of Transalpine Gaul. When Caesar resisted them, the migrants took another route, crossing the territory of people allied to Rome, including the Aedui. Caesar tracked down the Helvetii tribe and defeated them, telling the survivors to return to their original land. Over time, Caesar would take his legion through Gaul and beyond saying he was defending Rome’s interest and their allies (Caesar: Gallic Wars), as well as to create control in Gaul. Within Caesar’s war commentaries, he showed how each campaign was in the best interests of Rome, these commentaries portrayed Caesar as someone loyal to Rome. In doing this, Caesar gains popularity of the people, even though the Senate disliked him. His loyal army and extraordinary tactics had lead to his success in battles. Allowing Caesar to establish his military prestige in Gaul, adopt a large client base and military fame that rivalled Pompey, he also accumulated wealth on a scale comparable to Crassus and had a devoted army. Plutarch saying “He was making his army into something which he controlled as though it was his own body … creating a force of his own which would be both alarming and invincible”, his status had grown as well as his political power. This gave him popularity among the people, which Caesar then used to run for consulship. Additionally, “He would do whatever necessary and get a triumph which would raise his status with the people it was all about building caesar’s image” (Peter Connolly). However, the senate stopped him before he could gain command. Caesar’s province in Gaul gave him military and political power through his expansion by conquering the land, and being a good military general. His portrayal of himself through the Gallic war commentaries allowed Caesar to become popular with the people. Which the senate feared, so much that “Caesar was assassinated by those close to him because they were scared they couldn’t control him.” (Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill). Through Caesar’s political power and the senate trying to stop him out of fear of what he would do in the future, Caesar rebelled which lead to urban violence, civil war and a divided nation. Having a consequence of the fall of senatorial power causing the Roman republic to fall and the Roman empire to rise. Therefore, Caesar had an significant impact on the fall of the Roman Republic.

Lastly, the civil war between Caesar and Pompey had a huge impact on the fall of the Roman republic. The end of the first triumvirate eventually lead to the start of the civil war. When Caesar returned from Gaul, his popularity and status had grown, and requested to stand for consulship. Pompey, who was favoured by the senate, agreed to this, however the senate wanted to end Caesar’s command before he stood for consulship. When the senate asked Caesar to give up his army and his province in Gaul, he said he would only do this if Pompey did the same, which didn’t happen. Caesar tried once again to come to terms with the senate and Pompey, but the senate disagreed and sent Mark Antony and Gaius Cassius to take over Caesar’s won land, they didn’t want to, but their lives were threatened. The senate feared that a civil war would lead to a king, in which Caesar responded “I am not king, but Caesar” (Suetonius 69-140). In 49 BC, Caesar knew he had to choose between rebellion and prosecution, preferring the dignity of war over the humiliation, Caesar chose to rebel, which he says “the die is cast”. Caesar felt forced and called on his 13th legion and marched on Rome. Pompey was unable to gather enough men to defend the city against Caesar, he and the majority of the senators fled to Greece, along with majority of the population of Rome. Caesar entered Rome and took it for himself and pardoned his enemies. He attacked the senators defeating two of Pompey’s leaders and some of Pompey’s troops surrendered to Caesar. Pompey fled to Egypt hoping to find safety and friends however, was murdered. Caesar went to Egypt, following Pompey, finding out he was killed. Here he met Cleopatra and had his first legitimate son. Eventually, he returned to Rome and in 45 BC he was made dictator for life, where he boasted “Veni, Vidi, Vici” meaning I came, I saw, I conquered, showing his dictatorship had a significant impact on the fall of the Roman Republic. Similarly, wearing of a toga made entirely of purple with stars sewn on (Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill) conveyed his immense power that he had accumulated as the colour meant royalty. Through this he created many political, social and administrative reforms. A variety of issues that were neglected or ignored originally by the senate were solved during Caesar’s power. He conducted reforms using conventional devices of the Roman state such as, the edict, the senatorial decree and popular law. For example, the reform in Italy increased their loyalty to Caesar and stability within the empire, through a uniform system of government allowing them to manage their own affairs, elect their own senate and magistrates. Through Caesar’s reforms, he was able to include the people within senatorial decisions. This lead to the fall of the republic as their wasn’t a divide between politicians and individuals, whereas the republic government systems was run by the optimates. As Caesar was a populare, he did everything for the people, therefore, allowing the people to have an active role in their government is highly significant. Thus, showing that Caesar had a serious impact on the fall of the Roman republic because he broke down the power of the senate and allowed the people to be involved.

To conclude, Caesar was significantly responsible for the fall of the Roman republic, this was due to his province in Gaul, giving him an intense amount of power. Additionally, Caesar’s role in the first triumvirate had created foundations for the changes of Rome to become an Empire as well as the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, which had consequences also leading to the fall of the Roman republic.


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