5 Pages

How the war ended The Ides of March

On 15 February 44, Caesar’s dictatorship and other powers were extended for life. A month later he was stabbed to death by a group of senators that included men who had served him for years, as well as pardoned Pompeians. Before discussing why the conspirators acted in this way, we must consider the difficult question of Caesar’s own long-term aims-a subject of continuing scholarly debate and little agreement. It has often been stated that the Roman Republic failed and was replaced by the rule of emperors because the system, designed to regulate the public affairs of a city-state, could not cope with the changed circumstances of governing a world empire. There is some truth in this as we have seen, for during the last years of the Republic it became increasingly difficult to accommodate and regulate the competition between a few overwhelmingly powerful individuals. At the same time the Senate failed to acknowledge the emergence of a professional army or to do anything to provide for discharged soldiers who were no longer men of property, encouraging them to a closer bond with generals who offered them more. Yet, even under the empire, the institutions of Rome were to a great extent those of a citystate, but the emperors imposed more control of the system and encouraged the integration of first Italy and then the provinces. Institutions developed to support a permanent army, kept loyal to the emperor alone. Senators still held most of the senior positions in imperial government, although usually with authority delegated from the emperor, but the number of people, both citizen and non-citizen, benefiting from the regime was greatly increased. The empire, or Principate as it is more often known, gave Rome and the provinces a remarkable level of stability, broken only twice by civil war in the first two centuries of its existence, in comparison to the period from 133 BC to 31 BC.