The Roman Civil War

The period of the Roman civil wars extends to the years 133 to 30 BC, in which the Roman Republic first came into a serious crisis and finally went down as a form of state. What began with the failed Gracchic reforms and the "party struggles" between optimates and popularities ended with the establishment of the monarchy in the form of the Principate under the first Roman Emperor Augustus.





The crisis of the Roman Republic was a side effect of military successes in the Mediterranean and on the European mainland.
The rise of Rome to the dominant power of the time and the enormous size of the Roman Empire
inevitably created profound social tensions between various interest groups in the Reich: the aristocratic landlords, the Roman peasants, the growing urban knights (Eques) and the more powerful officers of the Roman army.

Parts of the Roman nobility, represented in the Senate by the grouping of the Optimates, gained enormous wealth through the growth of their landed property and the influx of slaves from the conquered territories, which was further increased by monetary transactions. The peasants, who had made the conquests possible as legionaries, however, increasingly impoverished. They either could not farm their farms because of service in the legions, or because they could not afford slaves and had small acreage, they were not able to compete with the Latifundia owners. Many of them descended into the urban proletariat, becoming an interesting constituency of voters within Rome. Their interests were taken up by the grouping of the popular people, which included members of plebeian families as well as reforming patricians, ie members of the senate nobility. Some of them actually sought a fairer distribution of land ownership, in part only to exhaust the proletarian voters' potential and to increase their own power with the help of an army clientele. In addition, the army commanders, and especially the proconsuls and propraetors, became more and more powerful in the broader campaigns and thanks to the legions entrusted to them, who, upon their return to Rome, no longer resigned themselves to the loss of all their power.




Course of the civil war

The reform attempts of the Gracchen

The time of the civil wars began in 133 BC. With the attempt of the popular tribune Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus to enforce a land reform. Agrarian laws should limit the power of landlords and improve the situation of smallholders and urban proletarians. Thus, the legislative amendments provided for dividing the land bought up by the upper classes under dubious legal circumstances into parcels and distributing them to peasants and urban proles. In addition to overcoming social tensions, the desire to preserve Rome's military clout - only those in possession of military service - was crucial to Tiberius Gracchus.
By two acts of the Roman state contradictory acts - the dismissal of its against the agrarian laws voted Mittribunen and the unauthorized release of the Roman state inherited Attalosvermögens for their implementation - the agrarian laws finally came about. In order to prevent the reversal of his laws, which were fought by the conservative circles of the Senate, Tiberius Gracchus was elected again in the following year to the People's Tribune. This once again constituted a breach of the constitutional order of the republic, in which each office had to be re-elected annually on the annuity principle. As a result, Tiberius Gracchus and about 300 of his followers were killed by senators and followers of the Optimates on the Capitol. As a result, there were tumultuous uprisings in the streets of Rome, but were defeated militarily.

Ten years later, 123-121 BC BC, Tiberius' younger brother Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, with the support of the Equites, the Roman knighthood, gained sufficient political weight to continue his brother's work. He made another attempt to solve the agricultural problem.

In opposition to Gaius formed behind consul Lucius Opimius a following of dissatisfied, partly violent optimates. When Gaius advocated granting citizenship to all of Rome's Italian allies, he lost the support of the urban Roman proletariat, which feared for its already minor political influence. The Senate took the opportunity to declare Gaius Gracchus a public enemy. Forced to flee, he was killed by a slave. Opimius and his followers finally fought street fights that killed 3,000 popularists.

The Optimates had prevailed for the time being, but they had also introduced a moment of violence into Roman domestic politics, which eventually turned against them.


Marius and Sulla

In 107 BC, the general Gaius Marius was elected consul, a representative of the popular and followers of the ideas of the brothers Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. From 111 to 105 BC, he successfully fought King Jugurtha of Numidia, and in the years 102 and 101 BC, he defeated the Cimbri and Teutons in the Cimbric Wars, who had previously defeated several Roman legions. With his military successes Marius grew power and reputation.
He was also the first Roman to hold the consulate several times in succession. This violation of the principle of annuity gave him almost dictatorial power, but weakened the constitutional order of the Roman Republic. Laws and rules were increasingly subordinated to the considerations of usefulness of the respective rulers.

As a politician, Marius enforced an army and agrarian reform: The place of the former citizen squad was replaced by a professional army, in which also members of the proletariat were taken. After completing their service, the veterans were entitled to a piece of farm land taken from the ager publicus, the Roman state land. Since the Legion's respective commanders were responsible for distributing land to their veterans, a strong bond of loyalty arose between them. The Roman legionaries thus became part of the so-called army clientele. They felt less and less committed to the state than to their respective generals. This eventually brought about a fundamental shift in power away from the senatorial nobility as a whole to the individual holders of the highest military force, which eventually ended with the far-reaching elimination of Senate power by Augustus.
In the National War (91-89 BC), the Italian allies of Rome also achieved full citizenship. Thus, the number of Roman citizens entitled to vote increased considerably, without the city institutions of the republic being adapted. People's assemblies and annual elections to the offices of the republic, for example, could only attend who was in the city. Thus the soldiers and veterans from the territories of the allies felt much more loyal to their commander than to the Senate and the other institutions in distant Rome, in whose establishment they were not involved.

Under the leadership of patrician Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who had fought alongside Marius in the Jugurthinian and Confederate wars, the Optimates in the Senate attacked Marius' reforms. Sulla was elected consul in 88 BC. After a popular coup, Sulla became the first Roman general in history to invade Rome with his troops and regain power by military force. Once again a part of the old constitution had been destroyed.

While Sulla because of the war against King Mithridates VI. Rome had to leave immediately, the popular people under Marius and the new consul of the year 87 BC, Lucius Cornelius Cinna, took advantage of the hour. They seized power after ten days of fighting, killing many of the Senate members and supporters of the Optimates, and then carried out a terror regiment in Rome. Cinna, similar to Marius, who had died in 86 BC shortly after renewed consulship, was elected consul three times in succession.

On his return in 82 BC, Sulla, supported by Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, defeated the Populares and established a dictatorship. He defeated the followers of Marius and made them on proscription lists for outlaw, systematically persecute and kill. He exposed bounties to particularly dangerous political opponents. Finally, he restored the power of the Senate and restricted the powers of the tribunes. After securing the traditional republican order, Sulla resigned in 79 BC. With this behavior he was in the republican tradition, despite the fact that his own power was no longer based on the prestige of the Senate, but on his command over the legions.


The first triumvirate

After Sulla's resignation, Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus became dominant figures in Roman politics. Both were among the optimists, but reversed almost all of Sulla's law changes in the year 70 BC. Commander of the Legions in the 3rd Mithridatic War and defeating the slave revolt under Spartacus, both rose to military potentates committed to their clientele among soldiers and veterans. Like Marius and Sulla before them, they were thus enabled to pass politics on the Senate, for whose power they should have entered as optimates.
In the year 60 BC, when the Senate refused to acknowledge Pompey's measures to care for his veterans, he made a private alliance with Crassus and a young political upstart, Julius Caesar, the triumvirate. This unlawful "three-men rule" was to ensure "that nothing in the state should be done that displeased any of the three." The fact that Caesar came from the ranks of the popular, shows that the original conflict - supremacy of the Senate nobility or greater participation of the people - barely played a role. From now on, the republic was concerned with the existential question: could it still persist in its traditional form? Would it be able to push back or integrate the power of the military rulers newly created after Marius's army reform, or would it ultimately succumb to it?

Caesar was in the triumvirate initially the junior partner. By agreement, his allies supported his election as consul of the year 59 BC. He then took over, as any consul after the end of his official year, the administration of a province. Caesar used the province of Gallia cisalpina as a base to conquer the entire non-Roman Gaul to the Rhine in the years 58-51 BC. This not only brought him tremendous wealth, but also command, the Empire, over vast armies. Since Crassus had fallen in the war against the Parthians in 53 BC, Caesar now represented the largest military power factor in the state.


Civil war between Caesar and Pompey

After Pompey's wife, Caesar's daughter Iulia, had died in childbirth, an essential element of the alliance between the two power politicians disappeared. In addition, Pompey had more and more left the popular channel, approached the Senate and for 52 BC had been elected consul sine collega, that is, the sole consul. The situation came to a head when, with the approval of Pompey, Caesar was ultimately requested by the Senate to abandon his command and return to Rome as a private citizen. This would have put Caesar at risk of trial for exceeding his powers. In this situation, Caesar set with his troops to the border river Rubicon in motion, which separated the military-free urban area of ​​Rome from the northern provinces. On 7 January 49 BC, Pompey was ordered by the Senate to defend the Republic against Caesar. On January 10, Caesar passed the Rubicon and started the war against the republic. He marched against Rome, which was evacuated by Pompey, and then to Spain, where he eliminated Pompey's troops. Pompey himself was later defeated in Greece at the Battle of Pharsalos and murdered shortly thereafter in Egypt, the other senatorial armies were successively defeated in Africa, in the Battle of Thapsus, and Hispania, at the Battle of Munda. This Caesar could rise to the sole ruler of Rome.


The Second Triumvirate

However, after Caesar had returned victorious to Rome in 45 BC, he failed in the political task of permanently securing the new position of power, which had never been achieved in Roman history. Whether he actually sought the king's rule, was in his time and is still controversial. His election as dictator for life could only be a temporary solution. Politically Caesar had reached a deadlock when he was murdered on March 15 44 BC by the conspirators around Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.
The conspirators' plan to restore the rule of the Senate soon proved illusory. The power in Rome fell to the one who, as Emperor, was able to mobilize the largest and most powerful legions. Caesar's great-nephew and legacy Octavian, the later Augustus, and the Cesarean generals Marcus Antonius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus were superior to the Caesar claimants in the long term. They formed the second triumvirate and ruthlessly eliminated all domestic opponents through proscriptions. also Cicero. In the battle of Philippi, Octavian and Antony defeated the armies of Cassius and Brutus in 42 BC. From that point on, it was no longer a question of whether Rome would remain a republic, but only of what should take its place.

A reconciliation seemed palpable when Sextus Pompey, who blocked Italy from Sicily with his fleet, reached the rehabilitation of the proscribed in 39 BC in the Treaty of Misenum, but the following year the fighting between the young Caesar and the son of Magnus flared up again , After the conquest of Sicily by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in 36 BC, Octavian succeeded in politically chilling Lepidus, too.

After the victory over their political opponents, however, the tensions between the remaining triumvirs grew, and now it all boiled down to a final confrontation with Antony and her allied Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt. With the naval victory over Antony at Actium in 31 BC and the capture of Alexandria the following year, secured Octavian sole rule in the Roman Empire.


Karte des Römischen Reiches nach dem Vertrag von Misenum

Map of the Roman Empire after the Treaty of Misenum


Augustus and the end of the civil wars

With the end of the civil wars, the irrevocable end of the republic had come. Unlike Caesar, Octavian, who received the honorary name of Augustus ("the Exalted One") from the Senate, succeeded in replacing it with a new, enduring form of government: the Principate was a veiled monarchy in which the old republican institutions and offices persisted, but the princeps united all decisive powers in his person. In his title, therefore, was emphasized that office on which the power was actually based in the newly formed Empire: that of the Emperor.
Only 100 years after Augustus, the historian Tacitus lamented the downfall of the Republic. The Romans of that time were well aware of the loss of political freedom that accompanied the Principate. The history of the expulsion of the last of the seven ancient Roman kings by Lucius Iunius Brutus has always been one of the founding myths of Rome. Julius Caesar had become his fate for the title of king to fatal. The fact that the Romans finally accepted the barely concealed dictatorship of an individual was, not least, the consequence of a whole century of wars and the longing for peace derived from them. This Augustus knew to satisfy: The Augustan age was not least the beginning of the Pax Romana - the Roman peace.









You can find the right literature here:

Caesar's Civil War

Caesar's Civil War Paperback – October 18, 2002

Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great were two of the greatest generals Rome had ever produced. Together they had brought vast stretches of territory under Roman dominion. In 49 BC they turned against each other and plunged Rome into civil war. Legion was pitched against legion in a vicious battle for political domination of the vast Roman world. Based on original sources, Adrian Goldsworthy provides a gripping account of this desperate power struggle. The armies were evenly matched but in the end Caesar's genius as a commander and his great good luck brought him victory in 45 BC.

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The Roman Army: The Civil Wars 88–31 BC (Battle Orders)

The Roman Army: The Civil Wars 88–31 BC (Battle Orders) Paperback – October 21, 2008

The Roman Legions were the most highly organized troops of the ancient world, but the process of turning the Legions from what was essentially a part-time citizen militia into the professional force that first made Rome the dominant power in the Mediterranean and then built an empire that stretched across the known world, was no small feat

Focusing on the organizational changes in the Roman Army during the Civil Wars, Nic Fields examines the role played by Caius Marius and his far-reaching reforms, which included having professional volunteers from the lowest social class enter the army in search of the possibility of plunder. He goes on to examine the consequences of encouraging these soldiers to follow their commanders without question, which broke the allegiance of the army to the Roman state, a trend that gave rise to militarily ambitious men such as Sulla, Pompeius, Caesar, Antonius, and Octavian.

With the nuts and bolts detail that readers demand from the Battle Orders series, this is an intriguing description of how the Roman army grew, modernized, rebelled and finally helped build an empire, complete with full organizational charts, photographs and detailed maps.

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Civil War (Oxford World's Classics)

Civil War (Oxford World's Classics)

Lucan's epic poem on the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, unfinished at the time of his death, stands beside the poems of Virgil and Ovid in the first rank of Latin epic. This newly annotated, free verse translation conveys the full force of Lucan's writing and his grimly realistic view of the subject. The work is a powerful condemnation of civil war, emphasizing the stark, dark horror of the catastrophies which the Roman state inflicted upon itself. Both the introduction and glossary set the scene for readers unfamiliar with Lucan and explore his relationship with earlier writers of Latin epic, and his interest in the sensational.

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Marching With Caesar-Civil War

Marching With Caesar: Civil War (Volume 3) Paperback – November 15, 2012

In the second book of the critically acclaimed Marching With Caesar series, Titus Pullus and his friends in the 10th Legion are called on to serve as the agents of change as their general, Gaius Julius Caesar singlehandedly changes the Roman Republic to Empire. From Spain and the dusty plains of Pharsalus, to the streets of Rome itself, Titus must survive the battlefield and navigate the treacherous world of Roman politics.

Helping Titus are his surviving tentmates, including his best friend Vibius Domitius, but like the rest of the Republic, their friendship is tested by the strife and fratricide that comes with civil war. At the same time, Titus has to deal with the challenges that have confronted career military members throughout the ages as he tries to balance the demands and heartache created by the long absences from his young family.

Nevertheless, through it all Titus and the men of the 10th Legion continue Marching With Caesar.

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The Collapse of Rome: Marius, Sulla and the First Civil War

The Collapse of Rome: Marius, Sulla and the First Civil War Hardcover – December 3, 2013

By the early first century BC, the Roman Republic had already carved itself a massive empire and was easily the most powerful state in the Mediterranean. Roman armies had marched victoriously over enemies far and wide, but the Roman heartland was soon to feel the tramp of armies on campaign as the Republic was convulsed by civil war and rival warlords vied for supremacy, sounding the first death knell of the Republican system. At the center of the conflict was the rivalry between Marius, victor of the Jugurthine and Northern wars, and his former subordinate, Sulla. But, as Gareth Sampson points out in this new analysis, the situation was much more complex than the traditional view portrays it and the scope of the First Civil War both wider and longer. This narrative and analysis of a critical and bloody period in Roman history will make an ideal sequel to the author's Crisis of Rome (and a prequel to his first book, The Defeat of Rome).

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