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Augustus vs Julius

Discussion in 'World History' started by Transkar, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Super Moderator

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    But this is irrelevant to an assessment of their personal qualities and achievements. You might as well say that without Mr Bonaparte Sr, little Napoleon would never have gone on to achieve what he did, so old man Bonaparte was a great general. Or Origen would never have written his works of genius if he hadn't had a rich patron, Ambrosius, to commission them - but that doesn't make Ambrosius a greater theologian than Origen!

    If you had some good reason for saying that Caesar adopted Octavius specifically because he recognised Octavius' incredible ability and could predict what a good emperor he would be, then you might have an additional reason for rating Caesar highly (although that would not, in itself, be a reason for rating Caesar over Octavius - a man who recognises genius in another is doing well, but it doesn't make him a greater genius). Alternatively, if you had some good reason for saying that Octavius' brilliance somehow came about because of Caesar's adoption of him (perhaps Caesar mentored him and taught him how to be brilliant) then you might have a better case. Simply saying that Caesar was a necessary condition for Octavius, however, is no case.
     
  2. Dragonlord

    Dragonlord Fantasy Warlord

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    I think Jeelen was replying to the SECOND question:

    It wasn't 'fate' to have them back to back - one great leader handpicked a second great leader (by adoption) to follow him. One of the better Roman customs of the time, adopting promising young men as a successor, instead of relying on genetic serendipity...
     
  3. JonathanStrange

    JonathanStrange PrinceWithA1000Enemies

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    Julius to Augustus: "My work made your work possible!"
     
  4. EnlightenmentHK

    EnlightenmentHK Emperor

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    But if you're in any way factoring in the manner in which one rises to power as an indicator of overall greatness, than Octavian's 'adoption to prominence' certainly comes into play. Caesar came from much humbler beginnings comparatively and kicked, scratched, intrigued, bribed, married, allied, and cajoled his way to the top. Octavian instantly became one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Rome the second Caesar died and all he had to do was impress Caesar a bit without even really trying for prominence. Caesar was for the most part a self-made 'great man', Octavian had much of his early greatness handed to him.

    That said, I'm going Caesar. Octavian had too many gifts given to him. The loyalty of many of Caesar's veteran, elite legions due to a line in a will. Agrippa, without whom Octavian never lasts the Civil War.

    Caesar was a brilliant general, an equally gifted and crafty politician, a renown author and orator, a political reformer, and if he had half as many years as de facto head of state as Octavian did, I have little doubt that his stamp on the empire/republic (who knows how that would've turned out) would have been even more profound and far-reaching than Octavians.

    It is not that Octavian was greater, it was that he lived longer at the height of his power.
     
  5. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    I'll say Gaius Iulius Caesar was better, because that was legally the name of both of them once Octavius was adopted.

    I probably have more republican than imperialistic sympathies though, so I'd prefer a Cato to a Caesar any day.
     
  6. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Republican and imperialist are not mutually exclusive, as the Roman Republic rather impressively demonstrated. :)
     
  7. vogtmurr

    vogtmurr Emperor

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    Julius Caesar. Augustus was a pretty good first emperor, but Julius could do all of the above and a lot more. His political maneuvers are as remarkable as his military ones, whereas Teutoburgerwald marked the end of Rome's era of rapid expansion. And I think we should look at their successors - Augustus left us a legacy of vicious tyrants that followed him.
     
  8. Antilogic

    Antilogic --

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    People tend to forget the largest expansion of Roman territory occurred before they were run by a military dictatorship.
     
  9. EnlightenmentHK

    EnlightenmentHK Emperor

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    As Dachs noted, there is nothing stopping republicans from being quite the militant imperialists and in fact, many of them were. Also, I have very little sympathy for the republican cause. Most of them were ridiculously wealthy entrenched elites who did everything within their power to ensure things stayed that way. They resisted nearly every reform and usually tried to destroy every reformer. They were not in any real sense the representatives of the people nor did they actively try to advance their interests.

    Caesar was hardly the first demagogue to pander to populist interests to advance their own power and prestige. The Republic had dozens of them before. Most probably were self-interested panderers using the outrage of the disaffected masses to their own personal advantage. But the fact is there were serious disparities and inequities in wealth, privileges, and rights that the republicans were not addressing, and in fact virulently opposed any measures or reforms that might address them.

    The situation was rife for ambitious individuals to position themselves as the 'champion of the people' because quite frankly, their pleas were being ignored or suppressed by those who held power. Even if Caesar had failed miserably early, there would have been another. And another. And another until the currently system was drastically reformed or overthrown. Most of this the republicans brought on themselves. They were no friends to the average people of Rome and a dictator or emperor who at least pretended to be, and in fact undertook many reforms that might suggest they really were, was FAR preferable to a bunch of wealthy, elitist aristocrats chanting 'Republican' while they screwed the lions share of the people within it.
     
  10. vogtmurr

    vogtmurr Emperor

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    I tend to agree with some of these statements. Doesn't make these historical figures any less in ability for it really, just their motivations were personal ambition. As someone said "Sulla can be liberating" once you accept that. But there is something different about the Barracks emperors after Titus; Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, and the peaceful reign of Antoninus Pius. They are even called "the Five Good Emperors", after the depravity, chaos, and destruction of the previous bunch that followed Augustus, which gave Emperors a bad name. They weren't in the same vein as that fratricidal aristocracy, some weren't even Romans, proving that the empire had become multi-national. Maybe the worst blot found on their records is that some of them persecuted the helpless christians, they felt threatened by for some reason. They were generals who took to their duty and selected their successors: "the Roman Empire was governed by absolute power, under the guidance of wisdom and virtue".[ Gibbon] Philosopher Kings ? some of them were. They completed some of the best Roman engineering projects that helped cement the Pax Romana where all were citizens.
    But to be fair to Julius, he did not choose civil war by himself, and his abilities were certainly as good as any of these. The fact that he had to acquire power the hard way earns our respect too. I believe there are examples as a political administrator where he distributed even handed justice, temperance and where his legislation allowed common people to thrive and have rights. The Republic was more than just an exploitive entity keeping its people down.
     
  11. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    I prefer Cicero to any Cato.;)
     
  12. Cheezy the Wiz

    Cheezy the Wiz Socialist In A Hurry

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    I would say that Sulla did a good job of dismantling the Republic before Julius got there.

    Or as the United States is demonstrating. Or that any of the European states demonstrated.
     
  13. Neonanocyborgasm

    Neonanocyborgasm Deity

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    Both were excellent leaders, but Augustus learned from his predecessor's mistakes by concealing the true nature of his absolute authority, by cloaking it in a veneer of republican institutions and legal dictates. Julius Caesar was less subtle. Also, Augustus was more ruthless. By the time he assumed absolute power, he had killed off all of his political opponents.
     
  14. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    I don't know... most emperors indeed had to please the (roman) plebeians, especially while they kept residence in Rome. But during the republic - prior to Sulla, at least - the comitia held some real power, and kept the people, down to the plebeians, involved in politics. There were the Gracchus, for example, and they did made some changes - nothing of the kind would be possible under the empire. There were the tribunes, and even if many they were usually manipulated by the politicians of the senatorial class they also limited their action. The emperors put an end to that (actually Sulla started it too).

    Sure, the later Roman Republic and the Empire provided grain for free, games etc - but that was because the imperial funds grew enormously through the tribute from the rest of the empire. The plebeians were successfully bribed, to the point where they kept quiet (unlike other roman cities like Alexandria or Constantinople later), so we can say guess that the freeman lived better during that period. But they lost all political power, all interest in it, became passive: when the empire fell its population did not took up weapons to keep it together and its institutions standing, the Res Publica wasn't theirs anymore... Just compare the sack of Rome by the Goths and later the Vandals with the obstinate resistance against Hannibal during the second punic war. It wasn't the same Rome at all, the later was throughly rotten.
     
  15. vogtmurr

    vogtmurr Emperor

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    Agreed. And it wasn't just the Plebeians that became passive beneficiaries. The Roman army had become a conscripted militia towards the end tasked with the unenviable assignment of guarding the frontiers, while the elite mobile reserve increasingly became dominated by the very barbarian tribes it was supposed to contain, who by comparison, had nothing to lose.
     
  16. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Did nobody read what I posted in the "what happened to the Roman Army after 410" thread?
     
  17. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    I did. You're right that there was a roman army still in the 4th century, but it's also true that the empire was having trouble recruiting soldiers. There was a reason why they steadily took germans as foederati after the third century
     
  18. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    But the extent of this is overrated, is the point. :p
     
  19. vogtmurr

    vogtmurr Emperor

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    not yet - Stilicho (actually before 410), Aetius, and Majorian are surely among the best. However, were they not all the sons of 'barbarian' chieftains ?
     
  20. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Maiorianus wasn't even remotely 'barbarian'. Stilicho's Vandal patrimony seems not to have affected contemporaries' perceptions of 'Romanness', whatever that means. Aetius was even less 'barbarian' than he was, being a descendant of Romans that left Dacia when that province was abandoned generations before. None of these emperors, further, can serve as a particularly good barometer of supposed 'barbarization of the Roman army'; the best example of that is the period of Isaurian domination in the Eastern Roman Empire. So it's even further useless if you want to claim that it helped cause the collapse of the Western Empire; it didn't.
     

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