History and Political Science March 26, Topic: Explain the course of the First Roman Civil War.
Romans fought a number of civil wars. The first one resulted in the ouster of the Kings, followed by the revolt of the plebeians that paved way for the enactment of the laws of the Twelve Tablets. The cause of the outbreak of the Roman Civil War was, when a Tribune of the Plebs Tiberius Gracchus made attempts to restore the public lands occupied by the aristocracy from the common land used by the poor farmers. Those farmers belonged to the armed forces as well. Gracchus was murdered followed by the murder of his brother. The stability of the Republic was in doldrums. To counter the Germanic invasions, Gaius Marius recruited a large number of people from the non-propertied class into the army. After expiry of their stint with the army, with no farms to return to, they depended on their generals for livelihood. The Generals utilized the power of the following to their advantage to wrest more authority. The first successful military coup was that of Sulla in 88 BC.
Sulla made efforts to set right the situation but the power-hungry generals sabotaged the settlement after he died and that led to the war between Pompey and Caesar. Caesar won and appointed himself as the dictator for life. Before that he continued to destroy the resistance and in 46 BC he reached Iberia to fight war for the defeat of sons of Pompey. By temperament Caesar was a democratic ruler and he argued, “There shall be free elections and the Senate and the Roman people shall be in full control of the government. To facilitate this and fix the terms and ratify them with an oath, I suggest that Pompey either comes to meet me or allows me to meet him. By submitting our differences, to mutual discussion, we shall settle them all.”(40) But he was assassinated by some senators led by one of his close friends, Brutus, and the situation was out of hand again. His heir Augustus (former Octavian) with Mark Anthony fought against the killers and defeated them. They ruled the empire but war erupted amongst these two as well and Anthony was defeated. The shrewd Octavian succeeded in hammering out the settlement to restore the Republic, assumed reserve powers to control the legions and stalled the competition amongst the ambitious generals. He defeated Anthony and Cleopatra (who committed suicide) and declared himself as the Emperor of Rome in 32BC.
Caesar, Julius. The Civil War of Caesar. Trans. Jane P. Gardner. Penguin Classics, November
18, 1976. English, Print.