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Chapter 3 - Caesar’s “Entry into History”

The Catilinarian Debate and Its Aftermath

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2021

Robert Morstein-Marx
Affiliation:
University of California, Santa Barbara
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Summary

Caesar’s famous intervention in the Catilinarian Debate of 63, too often viewed as fundamentally opposed to the Senate's authority, instead illustrates the kind of "patrician republicanism" discernable in his early career. His failed proposal for permanent imprisonment seems to have been intended to avoid the kind of popular backlash against the Senate’s authority that was inevitable if the laws protecting citizens against execution without the People’s authorization against were blatantly violated by that body. His advice was ultimately rejected, but his view of the matter would be vindicated by Cicero’s expulsion in 58. Caesar’s praetorship and successful Spanish command brought further clashes with Cato, whose development of his favored tactic of the filibuster in these years shows that he did not as a rule carry the majority of the Senate, while Caesar’s own pursuit of military glory and cultivation of a "popular" though not aggressively populari persona was consistent with long-standing republican tradition.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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