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Julius Cesar crosses the Rubicon Jan, 10 49BC


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United Nations of Roma Victrix


After Caesar spent 51 BC and the better part of 50 BC touring his newly conquered province of Gaul, political chaos was developing back in Rome. The optimates despised Caesar and his conquests (viewing much of his campaigning as unwarranted and illegal) and looked for every opportunity to strip him of his command. These conquests not only brought in a great number of slaves, but brought so much monetary wealth into Rome, that the value of gold was actually reduced by as much as 1/4 or even 1/3 of its value before the wars. Though the common people noticed little effect, and seemingly loved Caesar, the optimates had a great deal to lose from this devaluation of their wealth. That was only one small piece of the puzzle, however. Caesar's original Consulship in 59 BC was one in which he not only thwarted optimate interests but pushed forward a populares agenda that not only made life miserable for the conservatives but generally rejected the law and political custom. Such actions were destabilizing and dangerous for the health of the Republican system.


They wanted to prosecute Caesar for a variety of reasons, including conducting an illegal war into Germania that the Senate never authorized. In fact, many argued that the protection of Cisalpine Gaul and Narbonensis didn't require the war that Caesar conducted in the larger part of Gaul in the first place. Prosecuting Caesar, whether the goal was death, exile or just a symbolic limitation of his power, would prevent his re-establishment of the populares agenda that he so masterfully manipulated previously. The years 50 and 49 BC were pivotal because during this time frame, Caesar's 'imperium' or safety from prosecution was set to expire. Caesar badly desired the ability to run for the Consulship in abstentia, thereby allowing him the safe transfer of protection from his Proconsular Imperium, granted by his command in Gaul, to that of the actual Consulship once again.


By this time, however, Pompey, likely the only man able to smooth things over, had clearly sided with the optimates. His jealously over Caesar's success and his ultimate goal of acceptance and power within the Senate took him ever further from the alliance with Caesar. The Lex Pompeia De Magistratibus that was passed while Pompey was Consul without colleague forced a candidate to be present in Rome to run for office, and of course, one couldn't legally bring their legions to Rome for protection. Marcus Claudius Marcellus, Consul for 51 BC, tried to have Caesar recalled from his command prior to its actual legal expiration, and in 50 BC, his cousin Gaius Claudius Marcellus attempted to the same. Caesar's only hope in Rome from a legal standpoint was the intervention of the Tribunes of the Plebes, who managed to veto any attempts to bring Caesar to his knees.



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