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POLL: Favorite General: Caesar or Pompey?


251 votes were cast.


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ChrisGermanicus Inactive Member writes:

What I know:
In the late Roman Republic, the position of head of the Republic was shared between two citizens, and were called dictators. At that time (after 50 BC and Caesar's conquest of Gaul), the positions were held by a constant shuffling of Caesar, Pompey, and a third one (Cassius, I think). None of them felt like sharing power, and a civil war broke out. I believe the third man was eliminated first, and that the final battle took place after Caesar crossed the Rubicon, saying the immortal words "Alea Iacta Est". Caesar won and became sole Dictator (a first in Rome, I believe). Then, in March of 44 BC, key membres of the Senate conspired against him and assassinated him.

Good lord, straight from a Xena episode, methinks…

Soooo: the last actual dictator before Caesar had been Sulla in the 80s, and his dictatorship was not actually legal (nb: historically speaking, the dictator was a single magistrate chosen in times of dire need, the last time before Sulla being the Second Punic War, with almost unlimited power and, more importantly, legal immunity after his six-month term of office expired). Thus, the Romans were expectably dubious about giving anybody the dictatorship after the Marian/Sullan civil war.

The Republic was headed by two CONSULS, who effectively had similar power to a dictator, albeit limited and checked by the respective colleague (colleague principle). They usually had to have considerable political experience, having passed the cursus honorum course of offices, although Pompey managed to get consul in 70, due to his military success (and the big stick which his armies were); then, his colleague was Crassus.

By the end of the 60s, he could again run for Consul (there was a 10-year respite before a single person could again run for consul), and tried to after disbanding his troops, relying on his dignitas (personal repute and dignity); however, the Senate opposed him, and so he entered the Triumvirate with Crassus and Caesar in 59, after which Caesar became Consul (with the infamous and low-profile Bibulus, the Consulate being called "The consulate of Julius and Caesar") and pushed through legislation in favour of his co-triumvirs (Triumvirate meaning "a team/commission of three men"; being used in various political context, often for ad-hoc commissions).

After his consulate, Caesar (by crafty manoeuvering) got the proconsular command of the Gallic province, which led to a supreme military command for the next five years, in which he waged the Gallic War, which brought him great wealth, military power and repute – but also made him the enemy of the Senate, since they (rightly) feared heŽd be a threat to the system and their privileges.

Thus, when he returned in 49, they ordered him to discharge his troops, but did not guarantee him the right to run for consule in the years elections; thus, he crossed the symbolic river Rubicon, which marked the border between Gaul and Italy, thus leading troops to Italy against the will of the senate.

There were some inconclusive actions in Italy (Siege of Corfinium), but the main theatres were Spain and Greece, the latter seeing the showdown at Pharsalos in 48 where Caesar defeated Pompey – more enemy troops remained in Africa (defeated at Utica in 46) and in Spain (Munda 45).

In 46, Caesar had been made dictator for 10 years, which was prolonged in 45 (after Munda) to "dictator perpetuus", or "dictator for life", the latter office being definitely unconstitutional, which gave him, in effect, imperial power, making him the first Roman emperor in all but title.


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VOTING RESULTS
AnswerVotes%Chart
definitely Caesar
86
34%
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Caesar
43
17%
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lean toward Caesar
42
17%
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no preference
34
14%
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lean toward Pompey
20
8%
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Pompey
2
1%
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definitely Pompey
8
3%
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not familiar with them
5
2%
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not an Ancient gamer
11
4%
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POLL IS CLOSED
POLL DESCRIPTION

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy magazine recently had a special Caesar vs. Pompey issue featuring the Roman Civil War.

Which Ancient general do you favor: Caesar or Pompey?