Far from undermining Caesar’s confidence, Pompey’s deceitful maneuver only seemed to stiffen his resolve. Caesar leads his army to Rome, shown here surrounded by strong walls (right), to take what is his by force. 0 1. Eight years later, at the beginning of the year 50 B.C., Caesar had subjugated Gaul, to the great benefit of the republic, which had won valuable territory to defend it against invasions. They sought out Pompey in the Forum and dramatically placed a sword in his hand, begging him to take command of Italy’s troops to save the republic. Depicted on the back of an aureus minted in Gaul, Mark Antony was entrusted with the command of the left wing of Caesar’s army in major battles. Caesar let them go free, knowing full well they would go back to Pompey—which they did. Pompey’s garrison at Asculum leaves their post before the arrival of Caesar’s forces as they move down the coastline. 67-94. A When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC, he expressed disrespect to the Roman Senate and started the war against it. He expanded the borders of the Republic into modern France, Spain, and Britain, making him a popular leader. Caesar sends the tribune Mark Antony with five cohorts of the 13th Legion to occupy Arretium. N.S. to pay for his wars against Pompey. Caesar’s career was marked by this atmosphere of frenzied competition for power between nobles and populists. Pompey and the consuls prevented a vote on the proposal in the letter and passed a motion declaring Caesar a public enemy. Stung by Caesar’s affronts, the powerful aristocratic faction in the Senate—known as the optimates—were waiting to pounce on him when his consulship ended, when he would be left without official immunity and highly vulnerable to his enemies. Why did Julius Caesar “cross the Rubicon” in 49 BCE? This day in history in 55 B.C.- Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River and starts a civil war in the Roman Republic. The following year, 48 B.C., Caesar dedicated to pursuing Pompey across Greece. Awash with Gallic gold, he shrewdly targeted financially embarrassed senators who, in return for Caesar’s “generosity” in paying off their debts, declared themselves his unconditional allies. Having returned to Rome, he continued implementing significant reforms in the year of life left to him. By accusing him of corruption and abuses of power during his time in Gaul, they hoped to bring his political career to an end. The Egyptian ruler evidently saw where the tide of Roman power was flowing. 2016. the general — under orders from the Roman Senate to disband his armies — made the cold-blooded decision to lead his army across the Rubicon river into Italy. They urged him to take command of the army and of as many additional troops as he wanted to recruit himself. Julius Caesar Crossing The Rubicon. So now ... their scandalous liaison isn’t stepping behind the scenes ... but exploding into full-scale war!”. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. The mistake wasn't in letting the situation get that far, but in that they believed the Roman and Italian people would rally to defend the Republican system. Little knowing she would become the last of the Ptolemaic monarchs who had ruled Egypt since the time of Alexander the Great, Cleopatra spent much of that same year as Caesar’s lover, sealing her reputation in the Roman world as a femme fatale who would later “ensnare” Mark Antony. In December, when the plebeian leader Curio persuaded the Senate to vote on the proposal for Caesar and Pompey to lay down their arms at the same time, 370 senators voted for it and just 22 against. Caesar was coming off 10 years as a proconsul in Gaul where he was immune from prosecution as long as he held his proconsular imperium. On January 10, 49 BC, commanding the Legio XIII, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River, the boundary between the province of Cisalpine Gaul to the north and Italy proper to the south. The hostile atmosphere in the Senate convinced Caesar that he needed to defend himself militarily and politically. His enemies in Rome were planning to prosecute him for alleged (and in large part real) illegalities prior to going to Gaul and for grossly overstepping his authority while in Gaul. 22. Caesar surprisingly accepted, perhaps to demonstrate a willingness to compromise. Rome’s treasury was housed in the Temple of Saturn at the Forum; it was sacked by Caesar in 49 B.C. Julius Caesar believed the omens received from the gods and the unfairness of Rome's Republic necessitated violating an ancient Roman law that forbade any general from crossing the Rubicon … Pompey declared that he would send one if Caesar sent another. * When E.S. Caesar races to cut him off, but Pompey sails to the Greek shore with his troops in mid-March. This bibliography was generated on Cite This For Me on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. Why does Caesar cross the Rubicon and start a civil war? Gruen was writing his account of Roman politics from 78 to 49 B.C. 52, H. 1, 2003, pp. His allies fled Italian towns and cities as Caesar approached. They had witnessed the honing of his skills as a military and political strategist, subjugating Gaul (corresponding to much of modern-day France and northern Italy), extending the bounds of the Roman Republic as far as the Rhine, and all the time shoring up his influence back in Rome. Crossing the Rhine. Suetonius tells of a miraculous event that occured as Caesar mulled over crossing the Rubicon, depicted in this 1494 painting by Francesco Granacci. Born around 100 B.C., Caesar’s boyhood was marked by the Social Wars, a series of struggles in which Rome’s Italian allies fought for the right to Roman citizenship and its privileges. In a particularly spectacular coup, he even managed to buy off the consul Lucius Aemilius Lepidus Paullus for a colossal down payment of some nine million denarii. On swiftly passing to the far bank of this minor river, Caesar set the republic hurtling down the second course. He was headed to Transalpine Gaul to begin serving as Governor. He understood that civil war would most likely ensue between himself and the Roman nobility, led by his strongest rival and former ally: the brilliant military commander Pompey the Great. Caesar now had the backing of a loyal army who would follow him to victory or death. Many of these soldiers join up with Caesar. A WELL-KNOWN war. on the banks of the Rubicon, Julius Caesar faced a critical choice. But if he didn't bring his troops into Italy, Caesar would be forced to relinquish his command and likely be forced into exile, giving up his military glory and ending his political future. The immediate result was Caesar’s consulship in 59 B.C., during which he sidelined the Senate and passed various laws aimed at winning him popular support. The deadline for Caesar to lay down his command, March 50 B.C., came and went. Caesar makes his camp in Apulia. All rights reserved. Pompey and his new optimate allies hatched a plan to seize the moment to take Caesar to court. Background. The river Rubicon was considered to be the dividing line between Italy and the rest of the Empire. As crossing the Rubicon with an army was prohibited, lest a returning general attempt a coup d'etat, that triggered the ensuing civil war between Caesar and Pompey. In 60 B.C. His popularity, however, led to tensions with other powerful Roman leaders. Shortly after the removal of his military rival, Caesar arrived in Egypt, where he patched up the dynastic struggle between Ptolemy and his sister, Cleopatra VII. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Why did Julius Caesar cross the Rubicon? Plutarch renders the phrase in Latin, of course, as "alea iacta est" or "iacta alea est.". "Let the die be cast" itself is an expression meaning roughly "let the game begin," and it comes from a play called Arrhephoros ("the Flute Girl"), a comedy written by the Greek playwright Menander in the 4th century B.C.E. C. Gnaeus Pompey and Rome were threatened by a dangerous revolt. And he did it with just 50,000 men. Discussion/Question Just watched the Netflix documentary on Rome (season 2) which illustrates Julius Caesar's journey from a soldier becoming emperor of Rome. ", Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Bd. “The die is cast,” “crossing the Rubicon,” and “I came, I saw, I conquered” are all popular phrases that, taken from Caesar’s military career, convey decisive action. On that infamous March day the following year, he succumbed to the assassins’ knives. When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he started a five-year Roman civil war. According to the late first-century historian Plutarch, a contemporary of Suetonius: “When they said that if Caesar was heading to Rome they could not see what troops could withstand him, Pompey boastfully replied with a smile: ‘Legions will spring up anywhere I stamp on the ground in Italy.’”, Marcus Caelius Rufus, an aristocrat, summarized the situation in a letter to Cicero in the fall of that year: “The closer we come to this inevitable clash, the more apparent the danger. Therefore, by crossing the Rubicon into Gaul and starting the war, Caesar threw the dice, not only sealing his own political future but effectively ending the Roman Republic and beginning the Roman Empire. But Julius Caesar did, in fact, 'cross the Rubicon,'; even though we cannot be certain which streamlet between Ravenna and Rimini once bore that name. 21. Social tensions created by the rapid expansion of Roman territory had plunged the political system into crisis for much of Caesar’s life. Caesar believes the gods are on his side, encouraging him to proceed into Italy. Caesar was named an enemy of the state and told to come home and face the senate. The plebeian tribunes supporting Caesar surround him, aware of the momentousness of the occasion, and plan their next movements. To cross the Rubicon is a metaphor which means to take an irrevocable step that commits one to a specific course. Although he was breaking the law, Pompey accepted the mission. Later, during dinner that night, he told his guests he would have to leave them for a moment. A false rumor spread that Caesar had set out from Gaul with four legions. Specifically, Governors of Roman provinces (promagistrates) were not allowed to bring any part of their army within Italy itself and, if they tried, they automatically forfeited their right to rule, even in their own province. Albert Einstein is supposed to have said: “Never memorize what you can look up in a book”. Having successfully led his troops in the north, Julius Caesar became governor of Gaul, part of modern-day France. Sulla defended the rights of Rome’s increasingly discredited noble rulers against the populares, the Senate faction who represented the interests of non-noble citizens clamoring for reform. Caesar had no intention of obeying the Senate, and he knew perfectly well what the consequences of his insubordination would be. The Senate met again and passed a decree calling on the consuls to defend Rome against any attack. The tribunes Mark Antony and Quintus Cassius (a relative of the famous Cassius who later conspired to assassinate Caesar) exercised their veto, but it was rejected by the Senate. Writing later in The Civil Wars, Caesar recalled how he had been waiting for the Senate’s response for days “[to see] if matters could be brought to a peaceful end by any equitable act on the part of his enemies.” But he now realized there was no other way and started preparing for the final showdown. In 44 B.C. But the faction opposing Caesar immediately went against the spirit of this decision. As he stood, he debated whether or not to cross the Rubicon, a river separating Cisalpine Gaul—the piece of land where Italy joins the mainland and at the time inhabited by Celts—from the Italian peninsula. Tradition dictates that Ariminum’s forum was the scene for Julius Caesar’s famous speech to his soldiers when he uttered the words “alea jacta est”.In Rimini, a monument in Piazza Tre Martiri marks the place where Caesar allegedly harangued his troops. and lasted until 476 C.E. Fully aware of the momentous nature of his decision, Caesar ignored the warning and began to march south on Rome. Faced with such obstinacy, his enemies in Rome scrambled to increase the pressure on the rogue governor. Caesar was not the first person to openly violate the law of the republic. WHY DID CAESAR CROSS THE RUBICON? Most of the terrified senators were willing to grant the concessions Caesar was asking for to avoid war. Alliances shifted continually: One of Caesar’s most loyal lieutenants, Labienus, decided to switch sides to Pompey. The conqueror of Gaul attended a public event in Ravenna and carefully examined plans for a gladiator school. Biography of Pompey the Great, Roman Statesman, M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota. Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus was the only one who fought back. and then led his troops across the river. Source(s): https://shrinke.im/a0fty. Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River in 49 B.C., an action that marked the beginning of a Roman civil war and resulted in Caesar's undisputed mastery of Roman government. His troops approach Sulmo, which immediately surrenders. Caesar and his soldiers follow the figure (left of center). Important Events in the Life of Julius Caesar, The 8 Biggest Military Defeats Suffered by Ancient Rome, The Revolt of the Gauls From Caesar's Gallic Wars, Caesar's Role in the Collapse of the Roman Republic, Winners and Losers of Julius Caesar's Gallic War Battles, A Collection of Articles About Julius Caesar. Crossing the Rubicon: In 49 BCE, Julius Caesar marched his army across the Rubicon River. On this day, Julius Caesar decided to cross the Rubicon River with his 13th legion and head towards Rome. Crossing to Egypt after his defeat at the Battle of Pharsalus, Pompey threw himself on the mercy of Ptolemy XIII, who immediately had him murdered. From it sprang the Roman Empire and the genesis of modern European culture. Since crossing the Rubicon, Caesar and his legions had expelled Pompey and his troops from Italy. He realized how important his decision was, especially since Rome had already undergone a civil dispute a few decades earlier. After crossing the Rubicon, Caesar advanced to Ariminum (modern-day Rimini), the first city outside his province. The motion was vetoed by Mark Antony, the newly appointed plebeian tribune and crucial ally of Caesar who would prove to play a fateful role in the last stages of his life. In the attempt to destroy Pompey and his extensive allies across the Roman world, Caesar was forced to cover astonishing distances, putting down a revolt in modern-day Marseille in France before routing Pompey’s loyalists in Spain at the Battle of Ilerda in June. When he was making this decision, Caesar was contemplating committing a heinous crime. A chariot pulled by mules from a nearby bakery was waiting for him outside, and after a considerable delay in finding the exact position of his troops, he eventually managed to join them on the bank. Even so, negotiations went on until the very last moment. The statesman and orator Cicero vainly tried to find a peaceful solution to the conflict while a sense that the republic was becoming increasingly ungovernable took hold in the capital. He moved some of his troops into the north of Italy, at the same time extending his influence in the corridors of power. On 10 January 49 BC, Roman general Julius Caesar defied an ultimatum set to him by the Senate. When Julius Caesar was about to cross the tiny Rubicon River in 49 B.C.E., he quoted from a play by Menander to say " anerriphtho kybos! " Upon Julius Caesar's death, his adopted son Augustus became Rome's first emperor. In 81 B.C. The Parisii minted this second-century B.C. According to Suetonius, Caesar quipped, "Even yet we may drawback, but once cross yon little bridge, and the whole issue is with the sword." He would not stand down as governor of Gaul, as stipulated, but would instead stay on until the end of 49 B.C., proposing that in the summer of that year, he would stand for election to become consul for a second time. He thought he'd be killed once he entered Rome so he led his army into Rome instead. The Roman Empire started in 31 B.C.E. At the same time, he had at his back a trained, experienced, and fiercely loyal army. Still unsure whether to advance, a man of extraordinary height and beauty appeared, clearly sent by the gods. But this campaign was just the beginning. Even then, resistance to the new order bubbled up in the following months. Caesar had been appointed to a governorship over a region that ranged from southern Gaul to Illyricum (but not Italy). If you did it meant that you were going to overthrow the government/emperor. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/magazine/2017/03-04/julius-caesar-crossing-rubicon-rome.html. These included improving land and grain distribution, as well as the reorganization of local government across Italy. What would have happened had Caesar not made that fateful river crossing five years previously? Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon In one of the most iconic moments of Caesar’s biography, in 49 B.C.E. Website. no general was allowed to cross the Rubicon and enter Rome with there army( on pain of death) . So he made his decision to cross the river with his army and said the famous phrase “the die is cast” as there was no turning back. Namely, the Rubicon was a river in Italy south of which no Roman general was allowed to lead an army. Julius Caesar was one of Rome's most powerful and iconic rulers, but do you know how he seized control of Rome? For the record, Julius Caesar not only did he win the battle, but in just two months, the future dictator managed to take over the whole of Italy with almost no resistance. On January 10, 49 B.C., on the banks of the Rubicon River in southern Gaul (near the modern-day city of Ravenna), Julius Caesar and the soldiers of the 13th Legion waited and weighed their options. 0 0. But when Julius Caesar decided to cross the Rubicon, he only brought one legion; why not his whole army? The proposal might have been acceptable but was rejected due to fierce opposition by Cato the Younger, one of Caesar’s most implacable opponents. Secretly, he had ordered his cohorts to proceed to the banks of the river and wait for him there. Menander was one of Caesar's favorite dramatists. Despite its appearance, crossing this humble river would have serious consequences. In return, the consul promised not to support any initiatives against him during his remaining term of office. The mysterious being snatches a trumpet from a Roman soldier and plays it as he crosses the river, followed by Caesar’s army. But the main beneficiary of the wars was undoubtedly Caesar himself. ", The Roman historian Plutarch reported that at this critical moment of decision Caesar declared in Greek and in a loud voice, "let the die be cast!" In the event, he was succeeded by his adopted son, Octavian, who consolidated the drift toward authoritarian leadership, later becoming the Emperor Augustus. From now on, war is our judge.”. According to the law of the Roman Republic, any provincial governor leading troops across the border back into Italy would be declared a public enemy. He sends another three cohorts to the coastal cities of Pisaurum, Fanum Fortunae, and Ancona. To cross the Rubicon is a metaphor which means to take an irrevocable step that commits one to a specific course. Plutarch reports that he spent time with his friends "estimating the great evils of all mankind which would follow their passage of the river and the wide fame of it which they would leave to posterity. Caesar even said he would stand down if he were allowed to keep just one legion and govern the province of Illyria, in the modern-day Balkans. How did Julius Caesar motivate his troops to cross the Rubicon river and thus turning them against their own republic (becoming traitors)? They reiterated to the Senate that since the military campaign was over, Caesar must disband his army, and a new governor of Gaul be elected to replace him. Cingulum opens its gates to Caesar’s troops without any bloodshed. He again offered to resign his command at the same time as Pompey, but the Senate interpreted his proposal as a gesture of arrogance. In 55 BC Caesar was busy preparing for his invasion of Britain. Caesar’s combination of wealth and military clout struck fear and loathing into the hearts of senators back in Rome—not least his erstwhile ally, Pompey, who since Crassus’s death had been moving politically closer to the aristocratic optimates. To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive. At the war's end, Julius Caesar was declared dictator for life. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. Caesar only delivered the death blow to Pompey’s stubborn followers in Spain a year later, in 45 B.C. or "let the die be cast" in Greek. How Julius Caesar Started a Big War by Crossing a Small Stream. Just as it is today, once you've cast (or thrown) the dice, your fate is decided. Caesar advances south, easily taking the cities of Pisaurum, Fanum, and Ancona. They in turn swore to avenge the insults against him and the tribunes. Huddled against the biting cold, many of the soldiers of the 13th Legion of the army of the Roman Republic had served under Caesar for much of the previous decade. Corfinium falls with the capture of three legions. gold coin. If Caesar chose to cross the Rubicon, there would be no turning back. A jeep model is named for his crossing the Rubicon River, and a calendar still in use—the Julian—takes its name from him. This plunged the Roman world into civil war. Pompey and his allies abandon Rome for Capua. After crossing the Rubicon into the Roman Republic near Ravenna in early January, Caesar marches his forces south to Ariminum. Black lines indicate detours made by Caesar’s troops. Around January 10, when he learned of the Senate’s decision, he ordered the 13th Legion to take up their riverside positions, exhorting them to defend the honor of their general whom they had served for nine years. Caesar definitely debated for a while about what to do. A bust from the Capitoline Museums in Rome depicts Cicero, an ally of Pompey, who later developed a cordial relationship with Caesar. As Caesar debates whether to cross the Rubicon, an otherwordly figure appears, wearing a yellow tunic and playing a lute (left). As the year 49 B.C. On January 10th, 49 B.C., Gaius Julius Caesar uttered one of history’s most famous lines, Iacta alea est (sometimes written alea iacta est), after which he crossed the Rubicon river with his army and set the Roman Civil War in motion. So once he crossed it, It was a blatant act of defiance towards the senate. These are the sources and citations used to research Why did Julius Caesar cross the Rubicon?. Its significance to Rome lay in its location, marking the official border between Italy and Cisalpine Gaul, the region south of the Alps governed by Julius Caesar. The reason Pompey, Cato, and the rest of the anti-Caesar senators left Italy was because they believed Caesar was bringing his whole army across the Rubicon. Today, the meaning of crossing the Rubicon refers to making a challenging decision that can have unpredictable consequences. During his youth, generals and politicians often exploited their military victories to take political control of the state.
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