The First Triumvirate

Notes on the First Triumvirate

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Pompey's Position

-Returned from campaign in the East having created his eastern settlements.

-However this was blocked by the Optimates.

-Pompey was reliant on populares and a tribune to ratify the settlement therefore this was a blow to his prestige.

-This also prevented him from honouring his promises to his veterans.

-Pompey had also sought the hand of Cato's niece in marriage yet had another public rejection.

Main goal- land for veterans

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Crassus' Position

-Spokesman for equestrian tax farmers in Asia.

-Due to Mithridatic War, tax farmers suffered great losses and asked Crassus to appeal to Senate for a rebate.

-This was an outrageous request which was rejected by Optimates.

-Cicero was trying to protest unity between senate and equites supported this request which was naive.

-Crassus was also damaged by accusations of bribery of jurors in Bona Dea scandal.

Main goal- popularity and wealth

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Caesar's position

-Returned from Spain in 60BC and wanted consulship of 59BC.

-Also was awaiting a triumph for his success in Spain so was unable to enter Rome whilst still in command of his troops.

-Senate offered him either triumph or consulship because he couldn't stand in absentia for consulship.

-Caesar forewent his triumph in favour of consulship but had senatorial opposition.

-Cato's cousin Bibulus, was being supported to stand against Caesar for consul.

-Senate decided prior to elections on provinces to be alloted- Caesar granted paths and woodlands of Rome.

  • There was senatorial opposition to these three men and Caesar had previously supported Pompey and Crassus.
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What did they have to gain?

-Caesar- consulship with support of the other two and command in Gaul.

-Crassus- short-term financial objectives which a 'tame' consul could satisfy and a political caolition which could stand up to Pompey.

-Pompey- previous use of 'tame' consuls (Piso 61, Afranius 60) and tribune (Flavius 60) failed to get his settlement ratified, there was no other options.

First Triumvirate was formed- this was an unofficial pand remained secret for considerable time.

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The first triumvirate

- Cicero was asked to join on two occasions yet refused.

-The idea of a political coalition (amicitae) wasn't unusual at Rome.

-Combination of support, prestige, wealth and popularity.

Three important stages of triumvirate

  • Formation (59BC)
  • 'Pressure period'- (58-56BC)- Luca and reconciliation
  • Break down (53BC)
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Caesar's consulship

-Caesar was a poularis and was elected with the individual backing of Pompey and Crassus.

-He immediately started a programme of legislation to satisfy his bankers.

-Senate were opposed to this ( Bibulus- co-consul- had been put forward for office by Cato and the Senate to check Caesar).

-Land bill was proposed- Caesar was moderate in his approach and open to compromise however the Senate rejected it.

-Caesar forced to put it to the assembly anyway and Bibulus vetoed.

-Caesar called Pompey and Crassus to the forum (and some veterans) and using the threat of force, the bill was passed.

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Caesar's consulship

-Provision of the land bill:

  • Land for Pompey's veterans to be purchased with funds from the eastern settlement.
  • Later, Lex Campania passed: public lands in Italy to be divided into 20000 allotments to urban poor.
  • Land had been previously been a great source of Roman revenue therefore hostility when splitting it up.

-Pompey was upset with the use of force and threats to pass the bill and opened the popular figure up to the hostility of the people.

-Pompey married Julia, Caesar's daughter.

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Caesar's consulship

-Vatinius, a tribune used Caesar to:

  • Ratify Pompey's eastern settlement.
  • Rebate 1/3 tax contract for equestrians.
  • Proposed that Caesar be given Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum as pro-consular provinces; with imperium for 5 years and with an army of three legions.

-Despite 'unfavorouble omens'  declared for the passing of the provincial amendment, the bill was passed.

-Transalpine Gaul and an additional legion was also added on later on the death of its governor.

Ptolemy Auletes: recognised by Triumvirate as king of Egypt and paid Rome handsomely.

-He limited the amount that governors and staff could requisition from provinces and limits on gifts and compulsory strict accounts and statements.

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Caesar's consulship

-Caesar continued to legislation throughout 59BC but had no thought for the consitution and a willingness to use violence.

-There was open opposition to the triumvirate.

-Cicero was commited to Pompey and therefore prevented him openly opposing the triumvirate.

-Cicero hoped that it would break up naturally.

-Only Cicero was recognised as having the power to persuade Pompey to break form the others and Caesar in recognition with this offered again for Cicero to join his staff.

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Preparations for the future

- Consulship handed on to Gabinus and Piso (both well disposed to Caesar).

-Needed a tame tribune- Clodius to control Cicero and Cato whilst Caesar took up his province.

-Used his stats as Pontifex Maximus to change Clodius' status to a plebian from a patrician so he can become a tribune- very unusual.

-Cicero then realised the danger he faced from Clodius.

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