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The Assassination of Caesar Did Not Bring Democracy but Ushered in Autocracy

Author:

MG an air warrior, a political observer, and writer with wide experience.

the-assassination-of-caesar-did-not-bring-democracy-but-ushered-in-autocracy

Introduction

Julius Caesar is recognized as one of the great figures of world history. The purpose of this article is not just to relate the fact that Caesar was murdered but to bring out an aspect that is not really touched upon. I will try to relate how the killing of Caesar did not affect the course of the Roman Empire. The purpose of the conspirators in removing Caesar to stop dictatorship did not happen and Rome slid into a dictatorship. In a similar vein, one can say the American withdrawal from Afghanistan is not going to save them from terrorism despite they shaking the hands off the terrorists as doctor Faustus did with the devil.

When Caesar took over he increasingly became autocratic. He began to bypass the Senate and made his control over the treasury absolute. To the chagrin of the conspirators, he won over the loyalty of the army. He made the army personally loyal to him by announcing pensions for retiring soldiers. This is related by Edward Watts, author of Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell Into Tyranny.

He began to do all the things that normally a king would do like emblazoning his image on coins and concentrating power in his hands to the extent that he could accept or reject the election results. Rome was now rife with rumors that Caesar was going to crown himself king of the Roman empire. Probably Caesar was a little naive and should have been more circumspect. In the first weeks of 44 BC, he proclaimed himself dictator for life.



the-assassination-of-caesar-did-not-bring-democracy-but-ushered-in-autocracy

Assassination

The alarm bells now began to ring and many of the senators some of who were his close friends felt threatened that their lifestyle would be disturbed. They did not want that absolute power should be concentrated in the hands of a single individual and they reasoned that in case Caesar was removed Rome would continue as a Republic.

This cabal of senators referred to themselves as "liberators" and hatched the plan to assassinate the great man. These conspirators had no personal enmity towards Julius Caesar but they felt that it was important to eliminate him for the good of Rome. In a similar vein, the American president Joe Biden and earlier to him Donald Trump has assumed that a handshake with the Taliban and retreat is going to be a great help to America and America can continue on its path of global domination once this eyesore is removed.

On March 15 in 44 B.C., Caesar was stabbed 23 times by conspirators. His best friend Marcus Junius Brutus was among the conspirators. At that time the Cabal felt that by killing Caesar they were the saviors of liberty but unknown to them they had dealt a death blow to democracy in Rome. Caesar died instantly.



the-assassination-of-caesar-did-not-bring-democracy-but-ushered-in-autocracy

Aftermath

The leader of the assassins Brutus lived in a utopia of his own. He had planned to make a flowery speech to the Roman people in which he would mention that Caesar had been removed so that freedom and democracy could continue. But as Caesar's body was taken to the Senate he was in for a shock. The Roman people were outraged at the killing of Caesar and there was good reason for it because he had looked after the lower and middle classes and carried out many economic reforms like cancellation of debts and adjustments of the tax code. These deprived people had no issue with Caesar being a dictator, because they had benefited.

The net result of all this was a total shock to Brutus and his friends and they realized that power is slipping from their grasp. A man called Marc Anthony took over the leadership and in a stunning speech which has been immortalized by Shakespeare in his play, Julius Caesar turned the tables on the conspirators. Caesar was a far-sighted man and perhaps one can say that he had an inkling that something may happen to him and so he had made a will in which he had named his great-nephew Octavian as the primary heir. Though only 18 years old he was a man with a very astute mind and he quickly grasped the situation and won over the loyalty of many legions of the Roman army and thus Antony was greatly alarmed. There was a clash between the two but both of them quickly realized that it would be better for them to join together. Another of Caesar's deputies Lepidus also joined forming a triumvirate.

The triumvirate let loose a reign of terror. Something like what the Taliban has always done. An example is that of Cicero who had made a speech against Anthony and paid with his life. His head along with his right hand was cut and placed in the Roman forum as an exhibition. Octavian and Antony now took revenge and defeated the plot leaders Brutus and Antony at the battle of Longinus in 42 BC. The murderers had no option but to kill themselves before falling into the hands of Octavius. This is akin to the battles being fought by the Taliban against its opponents like in the Punjsher campaign.

The triumvirate eventually turned on each other. Lepidus was exiled and Antony escaped to Egypt where he fell in love with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. This was a thoughtless act because his wife was the sister of Octavian and Anthony was shamed in Rome and nobody wished him to come back. Octavian was however not going to spare Anthony and pursued him with the naval fleet and in the famous battle of Actium in 31 BC he won decisively leaving no choice to Marc Antony and Cleopatra but to commit suicide. Octavian now became the omnipotent ruler, much like the Taliban in Afghanistan.



Conclusion

The cabal of Roman leaders who had murdered Julius Caesar with the idea of restoring democracy did not achieve anything. History records that Octavian established absolute rule and concentrated even more power in his hands than his great uncle . The Senate became a rubber-stamp.

In 27 B.C. the senate bestowed the title “Augustus” upon him. He was a clever man and always referred to him as Rome’s ‘first citizen.’”

Augustus ruled for nearly 50 years and it was an autocratic rule. The democracy which the conspirators had yearned for never came about. To my mind there is a similarity here as the Americans have withdrawn from Afghanistan thinking that they are going to live in peace but it's not going to happen like that as the Taliban is going to consolidate and then God save America. There is no analogy between the Taliban and Augustus who was an illustrious ruler but the idea is just to show the course of events that are planned never happens. The conspirators killed Caesar to prevent dictatorship which ultimately came about in any case. Similarly the Americans left Afghanistan looking for peace which is not going to come.

References

Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell Into Tyranny.-Edward Watts

Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine-Barry Strauss

A History of Ancient Rome -Mary Beard

Comments

MG Singh (author) from UAE on September 14, 2021:

Thank you, John, for your comment I quite agree with you and all we can do is to keep our fingers crossed.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on September 14, 2021:

Dear Manatitaji, yes love is a commodity sadly missing but I wonder even love can temper al Qaeda and Taliban. Thank you sir for commenting.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 14, 2021:

A very interesting account of the death of Caesar and the aftermath. Plans often go awry, as in that case. Time will tell in regard to the USA withdrawing from Afghanistan, but I cannot see how any good could come from it.

manatita44 from london on September 14, 2021:

Interesting account. These things always continue. I agree. History attests to it. We need love in the heart of man. Excellent write!

MG Singh (author) from UAE on September 13, 2021:

Thank you, friend, nice you commented.

Parduman Singh on September 13, 2021:

You have given a good account about Julius Caesar and your analogy which I hope people can't understand is that what you planned doesn't always happen is very true and In a way, it is applicable to America. The thinking is that we are going to have peace and happiness after the retreat from Afghanistan but it will never be the case.

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