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Caesar (Masters of Rome, #5)
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ROMAN EMPIRE -THE HISTORY... > 11. CAESAR... December 31 ~ January 6 ~ ~ pp. 504-556; No Spoilers Please

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message 1: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new) - rated it 4 stars

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
Section Overview and Summary

The West, Italia and Rome, the East: from June of 49 B.C. until March of 48 B.C.: 504 - 556


Curio successfully gained control of Sicily, hence the grain supply for Rome, but in August, he was killed in Africa fighting King Juba of Numidia. Antony takes the news to Fulvia, Curio’s wife, who falls apart.

Lepidus gets a decree from the Senate appointing Caesar as dictator, and it’s ratified by the Popular Assembly in early September. The knights are worried that Caesar might act like Sulla, and order proscriptions to get money for the civil war, but Atticus (Cicero’s brother-in-law) tries to allay their fears.

Caesar has to deal with mutiny in the 9th legion – they want to be discharged with land in Italy. He finds out who the ringleaders are, then has the whole legion appear before him on the parade ground, along with representatives from the other legions. He says they’ll be discharged but dishonorably, with no spoils, no land and no citizenship. The men are distraught, plead with Caesar not to be let go. He agrees, but the 120 ringleaders are to be decimated – that is, one-tenth of them will be beaten to death by the other nine-tenths. The lots have been rigged so that the worst mutineers are the ones to die.

Eight legions march for Brundisium starting in November, while Caesar goes to Rome. He proposes a law which will regulate the economy while he’s gone; it goes far to reassure both debtors and creditors. Caesar is voted in as senior consul, thus ceasing to be dictator when his consulship starts, and his colleague will be Vatia, a man he trusts. With Rome taken care of, he joins his legions in Brundisium, taking Antony along with him.

Meanwhile, Pompey is training troops in Dyrrachium, and tells all the senators with him that they will have to cough up some money, as having an army is expensive. He sends various of his hangers-on off to places around the eastern Mediterranean to collect money and ships. He sends Cato to Rhodes to get a fleet (but mostly to get rid of him). He puts Bibulus in charge of the navy. When Brutus arrives from Cilicia, Pompey asks for a loan, but Brutus says Servilia would kill him if he gave out any money at all. He sends his son Gnaeus to Egypt to get ships and food from Cleopatra. While she’s glad to give him ships, she says she can’t part with any grain because Egypt is short of food just now. When he insists, she gives in, but he finds when he gets back to Pompey that most of the food in the ships is dates, not grain.

Pompey had been staying in Thessalonica, but he hurriedly returns to Dyrrachium when he hears that Caesar has crossed from Brundisium with four legions. He also learns of the defeat of his Spanish legions and the surrender of Massilia. The whole of Epirus has gone over to Caesar’s side, as has Dyrrachium, but Labienus terrifies the latter into coming back to Pompey. Even though he has Caesar outnumbered and there’s only a river between them, Pompey is indecisive and there’s no battle. Bibulus has succeeded in preventing Antony and the rest of Caesar’s legions from crossing, but he becomes ill from exposure and dies while Cato comforts him.


message 2: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new) - rated it 4 stars

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
This week's reading starts with the news that Curio had secured Sicily and ends with the death of Bibulus, and Cato saying "My bones tell me I'll be dead first."


message 3: by G (new) - rated it 4 stars

G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments There were a few things that I learned from this section: First, Lepidus suggested Caesar as dictator. It is not a role he apparently sought and he subsequently gave it up, at least in title. And second, the way he spoke to large groups - with people 'telephoning' what he said along the line. Very interesting.


message 4: by G (new) - rated it 4 stars

G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments I also liked the way McCullough shows how his transition is becoming apparent to those around him. The conversation between Trebonius and Fabius leads me to believe that this new hardness, which was triggered by the mutiny, is actually something that has been there all along. He used a more gentle approach with his legions before, but now, as dictator, he no longer has to rely on softness.


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G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments On a personal note, Gnaeus Pompey's first look at Alexandria made me wish I could have seen it. "...Alexandria upon the farthest shore of Our Sea was magnificent." Can you imagine that library?


message 6: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (new) - rated it 4 stars

Vicki Cline | 3835 comments Mod
Great comments, G. Caesar's method of speaking to the troops reminds me of the Occupy Movement's use of "human mics." Even though he would have preferred to be elected consul, I don't think he could have gotten done everything he thought needed to be done to fix Rome as consul. Whereas as dictator, he could plow ahead and not have to worry about convincing anyone of his plans.

And yes, it would be lovely to see Alexandria as it was.


Cheryl (cheryl319) | 372 comments McCullough does a really good job of showing Caesar's feeling wounded after the 'betrayal' of the ninth - for his men not to love him unequivocally was quite a blow, and made worse that it was this legion. They ruined his perfect reputation with his troops. I knew exactly which one it was thanks to McCullough's previous descriptions of them - I was shocked, too, and I felt Caesar's disappointment. There's a great paragraph on page 518 in which Gaius Trebonius analyzes Caesar's feelings - that he wants to be acknowledged as unequalled but is only opposed, not recognized. The character study is just amazing in all it's depth.


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