The year is 59 BC and Caesar has attained his first consulship.
As was the norm, Caesar distributed money to all of the centuries to secure
their votes and urged his primary opponent to do the same. Caesar
won every century and was the first in Roman history to do so. Another
contender, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, was voted in as the Junior consul.
Prior to the election, Caesar had been in Spain and was forced to give
up his triumph in order to come into Rome and stand for election.
Immediately back in Rome, Caesar struck up the “First Triumvirate” with
Pompey and Crassus (What positions did they hold?). Banded together,
these three were unstoppable and could get whatever they wanted done.
Pompey wanted a land bill passed for his veterans, Crassus wanted more
money and visibility, and Caesar wanted a lucrative province that otherwise
would not have been given to him once his consulship was over.
This consolidation of power did not go unnoticed and was opposed (chiefly) by the other consul, Bibulus, a staunch conservative senator named Cato, and a handful of tribunes of the plebs. These people were powerless in the face of so much auctoritas, however, and the triumvirate got pretty much what it wanted throughout the year. Every time a bill was vetoed by an opponent, Caesar would claim that the omens were bad and that the move was voided by the gods. When a motion was offered forth in the Forum, violence erupted (sometimes even in the Senate) to silence the supporters.
The lowest point of the whole ordeal came when Caesar introduced his land bill that would give Pompey a place to settle his veterans. Cato spoke out in the Senate and Caesar had him arrested (he was later released). Pompey had his henchman, Vatinius (what position did he hold?), organize the veterans into tribes to not only vote on the bill, but terrorize the city into voting their way as well. Bibulus arrived at the forum to protest, but was silenced when a bucket of dung was poured on his head and he was kicked off the rostra. This event let everyone know that the res publica, in its pure democratic form, was now dead. Bibulus locked himself in his house for the rest of the year in a boycott of politics. From then on, he issued proclamations attesting to bad omens every time Caesar put a motion to a vote – this was ignored.
It gets worse at the end of April. Caesar sponsors a new land bill that will split up Campania and settle Roman families with three or more children. This immediately benefited Pompey’s veterans. Included in this plan was Caesar’s command of Gallia Transalpina. Around this time, Pompey married Caesar’s daughter, Julia, and the Romans finally saw the blatant abuse of power that had formed. Crassus, who had ceased to benefit from anything anymore, became an opponent of Pompey’s and fear captured the entire city. The populi started to hate Caesar so much that, upon his entrance into the theater (when it was accustomed for the audience to whistle their approval), the crowd was dead silent and then erupted into a deafening cheer when Cato, Caesar’s opponent, appeared.
Having accomplished so much in such a blatantly dubious way, Caesar now needed to regain the trust and support of the Roman people – enter the de bello Gallico.
Possible Discussion Topics:
- Voting procedure (p.186-188 Meier)
- Century praerogativa
- Who was Crassus?
- Who was Pompey?
- Problem of settling the veterans (go back to Marius’ capite censi)
- The 59 BC consulship as THE turning point for the eminent end
- Violence in Republican Rome (when and how did it start?)
Scene I: The Campus Martius
The election officials are accepting tablets, and after a quick glance at each, are giving most of the voters money.
Caesar looks on with pleasure from the right side of the stage. The Election Official is sitting down in center stage with a stack of tablets to his side and a stack of money in his hand.
There is a line of voters with tablets in their hands (3) in front of him – the first steps up and gives him the tablet.
Election Official (taking the tablet): Gratias.
(looking for a vote for Caesar and seeing it): And here you go, one denarius. Pleasure doing
business with you! (hands him the money).
He turns around and walks away offstage. A new voter comes up to the Official.
Election Official: A vote for Caesar?
2nd voter: You bet!!
Election Official: Here you go. Hands him the denarius
2nd voter: Macte! He walks away off stage
The third voter walks up to the Official
Scene II: The Rostra (many hours later)
Many people (the class) are standing around facing the official awaiting the results of the election
Election Official: Here are the results! You, populi Romani,
have selected Gaius Julius Caesar as your
Everybody: Yeah! Alright!
Election Official: And, carrying the second most votes, Bibulus is your new Junior Consul.
Everybody (not as loudly as they cheered for Caesar): Yeah!
Caesar: Multas gratias, vos omnes!! Multas gratias!!
I will do everything in my power to please the
people of Rome!
Everbody: Yeah!! Yeah!!!
Scene III: Caesar’s house
Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus are all huddled around each other (hunched over in centerstage) , as if talking very secretively.
Caesar: Okay, here is the deal. I may be the consul, but
I can’t get everything I need done without your
help, so let’s help each other out – I scratch your back and you scratch mine… sound good? You guys can help me get the province I need for a successful proconsulship.
Pompey: Well, what’s in it for us?
Caesar: Whatever you want! (turns to Pompey) You need land for your veterans, right?
Caesar: So, I’ll get you that.
Crassus: Well, what about me?
Caesar(looks at Crassus): Crassus, you are very wealthy and I
need your money to help “sway” the
citizens’ votes my way.
Crassus: No kidding – what’s in it for me?
Caesar (thinking for a second with his hand on his chin): Ummm… more money?
Crassus: Sounds good to me!
All three shake hands and disperse
Scene IV: The Senate
The senators (the class) are sitting in their chairs listening to Caesar. Caesar is facing them and discussing some proposed legislation.
The consular lictors are standing at attention on each side of the stage.
Caesar: And so, my fellow senators, this new land bill is really for the good of everybody!
Cato (loudly and with his hands thrown up in the air): This stinks!
Caesar, you want to take the land away
from the citizens of Rome and give it to some roughneck veteran soldiers? I will not stand for this!!
Caesar: Cato, Cato! Of course this is for the good of everyone!
None of our citizens want that land,
it’s………….too good! Yes, too good. The land is too good.
Caesar: Cato, if you won’t be quiet, I shall have you arrested.
Cato: Well, I’m not going to stand here and take this!
Caesar: Then you won’t. Guards – seize him!
The consular lictors seize Cato by each arm and escort him offstage.
Cato (as he’s carried off): You can’t do this! You will
not see the last of me!!
Scene V: Later that day in the Forum
Narrator: A few hours later, a contio is held to discuss the new land bill
The citizens are facing Caesar, centerstage, and listening to him speak
Caesar (standing on the rostra): And this land bill will benefit everybody!
Bibulus (walking up towards Caesar): I, as Junior Consul, will not allow this bill to be put to a vote!
One of Caesar’s supporters: Tace! You Goody-Goody! He runs up out of the crowd and pours a bucket of dung on his head. He then pushes Bibulus away from Caesar.
Bibulus (angry and obviously shocked): You won’t get away with
this! The Roman people will not stand
for this! I’ve done all I can – try to run this government by yourself Caesar, I’m going home and
I’m not coming out until after (pointing at Caesar) this demon has done his damage!
Bibulus storms offstage
Caesar: Well, that worked out even better than I had planned!
Scene VI: The Theater
Crowd: Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Makes a lot of noise
Caesar enters the theater
Caesar: Salvete, my fellow Romans!!
The crowd is completely silent
One member: Boo!
Caesar is shocked, he stands there for a second, looking confused, and then sits down.
Cato: Salvete, citizens!
Crowd: Alright! Yeah! Yeah! Crowd makes a lot of noise
Cato sits down and Caesar says to himself out loud
Caesar: Man, I think I might have really messed up here! I need
to do something that is going to get them
on my side (thinks for a second)…. I know! How about a nice, old fashion war!!
Scratches his chin and looks evil
Caesar: Oh, this is SO good!!