Roman Republic

Roman Italy (1st Century AD)

Caesar (69 - 59 BC) 

In construction:

69-8 BC:

  1. Caesar served as quaestor in Spain.

  2. He returning ante tempus, and supported the agitation of the Transpadanes (the people who lived between the river Po and the Alps) for full citizenship.

  3. Oration at the funerals of his aunt and his wife

  4. Curator of the Via Appia, probably in 68 BC

65 BC: Curule Aedile, with Marcus Calpiunius Bibulus.

  1. His games won him considerable popularity.

  2. He restored the trophies of Marius.

  3. He supported Crassus’ plan to annex Egypt

64 BC: As Iudex Quaestionis, Caesar presided over the quaestio de sicariis, and the court condemned several men charged with killing men whom Sulla had proscribed, but acquitted Catiline.

63 BC:

  1. he was elected Pontifex Maximus, to the annoyance of his older and more distinguished rivals;

  2. he prosecuted C. Calpurnius Piso, complaining of his treatment of the Transpadanes ;

  3. he was one of the iiviri perduellionis appointed for Labienus' prosecution of Rabirius;

  4. conscious of Pompey’s impending return, he supported the bill of Labienus and Ampius Balbus allowing Pompey to wear the dress of a triumphator at public shows;

  5. he opposed the killing of the men arrested in December , following the Cataline Conspiracy, and came near to carrying the Senate with him

Quintus Lutatius Catulus consistently opposed Julius Caesar, whom he endeavoured to implicate in the Catilinarian conspiracy.  Caesar, in return, accused him of embezzling public money during the reconstruction of the temple on the Capitol, and proposed to obliterate his name from the inscription and deprive him of the office of commissioner for its restoration. Catulus' supporters rallied round him, and Caesar dropped the charge. Later Caesar took his revenge on Catulus by defeating him in the election to the religious office of Pontifex Maximus in 63 BC.

62 BC: praetor [probably Urban Praetor]:

  1. Caesar supported the tribune Q. Caecilius Metellus Nepos

  2. in proposing controversial legislation that would recall Pompey and his army in order to quell the Catiline rebellion.  However, the pair were so obstinate in their proposals that they were suspended from office by the Senate.  Caesar attempted to continue to perform his duties, only giving way when violence was threatened.   The Senate was persuaded to reinstate him after he quelled public demonstrations in his favour.

61 BC: Propraetor

  1. After a delay in the allocation of provinces, Caesar was given the praetorian province of Hispania Ulterior in early March.  According to Suetionius:

  2. “Being allotted the province of Further Spain after his praetorship, Caesar got rid of his creditors, who tried to detain him, ... and was on his way [even] before the provinces were provided for ...”, (‘Life of Julius Caesar’, 18: 1).

  3. In other words, he left Rome without waiting for the decrees of the Senate that formally confirmed the appointments of the new provincial governors and provided them with funds and equipment.  He fought successfully against the Callaeci and Lusitani, granted various measures of debt relief, and captured enough booty to pay his own debts. 

Informal Triumvirate: Pompey, Crassus and Caesar (60 BC)

According to Suetonius:

  1. “After restoring order in his province, he [returned to Rome] without waiting for the arrival of his successor, in order to:

  2. request a triumph; and

  3. stand for election for the consulship [of 59 BC, suo anno

  4. But, inasmuch as the day for the elections had already been announced and no account could be taken of Caesar's candidacy unless he entered the city as a private citizen, ... he was forced to forgo the triumph, to avoid losing the consulship”, (‘Life of Julius Caesar’, 18: 1-2).

  5. He must have therefore have arrived in Rome in June (which suggests that his term in Spain had been extended.  While he found himself denied a triumph, Pompey found the Senate reluctant to:

  6. confirm his acta in the East; and

  7. provide land for assignation to his veterans

  8. These were the circumstances in which he formed the agreement with Pompey and Crassus that is now known as the first triumvirate.

Caesar’s First Consulship (59 BC)

Caesar was duly elected to the consulship, with Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus as his colleague.  According to Robert Broughton (referenced below, at p. 187, with references):

  1. “Bibulus, with the support of three Tribunes of the Plebs, opposed Caesar’s agrarian law [see below], but when proved powerless against the combination of Caesar, Pompey and Crassus, retired to his house and, by announcements that he was watching for omens, kept Caesar’s legislation technically invalid.”

Broughton named the three tribunes who had attempted to aid Bibulus as: Quintus Ancharius; Cnaeus Dominius Calvinus; and Caius Fannius.

Caesar’s Legislation

Caesar’s lex Julia Agraria, which was probably passed in January, was followed in May by another that distributed land in Campania.

Another of Caesar’s law ratified Pompey’s acta in the east and satisfied Crassus by remitting a third of the contracts to the tax farmers of Asia.

Caesar’s lex de repetundis improved the regulation of provincial governors.

Caesar’s Prospective Proconsular Provinces

Under the lex Sempronia de Provinciis Consularibus (123 BC), the two consular provinces assigned for a particular year had to be designated before the election of that year’s  consuls.   According to Suetonius, when it had become evident in the summer of 60 BC that Caesar would stand in the elections for the consulship of 59 BC:

  1. “... the aristocracy took care that provinces of the smallest importance, that is, silvae callesque (woods and pastures), should be assigned to the consuls about to be elected”, (‘Life of Julius Caesar’, 19: 2).

Since decrees under this law were not subject to tribunician veto, Caesar was potentially destined to follow his proconsul a year with another as proconsul in an obscure province, while the more important provinces would all be governed by others.  However, Caesar soon secured the assignation of more important provinces:

  1. “Backed ... by his father-in‑law [Lucius Calpurnius Piso] and his son-in‑law [Pompey], ... [Caesar] made the Gauls his choice, as the most likely to enrich him and furnish suitable material for triumphs:

  2. at first, it is true, he received only Cisalpine Gaul, with the addition of Illyricum, by the bill of Vatinius [see below]; but

  3. he subsequently received [Transalpine Gaul] as well, [this time] from the Senate, since the members feared that, should they refuse it, the people would [add this to his earlier allocations]” (‘Life of Caesar’, 22: 1).

Cassius Dio gave a similar account, in which Caesar:

  1. “... claimed [publicly] to be thoroughly satisfied with what he had [i.e. the consulship].  However, others [i.e. friendly tribunes] ... proposed whatever he [really wanted], and had it passed, not only by the people, but also by the Senate itself.  So it was that:

  2. the people granted him the government of Illyricum and of Cisalpine Gaul, with three legions, for five years; and

  3. the Senate granted him, in addition, Transalpine Gaul and another legion (‘Roman History’, 38: 8: 4-5).

Cisalpine Gaul

During a short-lived emergency in Gaul in March 60 BC (discussed in more detail below), the Senate mandated that the consuls of that year, Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer and Lucius Afranius, should draw lots for the Gallic provinces (presumably so that they could assume overall command).  Cisalpine Gaul fell to Afranius but, since the emergency soon ended, it is unclear whether(and, if so, when) he took up this military assignment: 

  1. According to Robert Broughton (referenced below, at p. 189), it is possible that Afranius served as governor of Cisalpine Gaul during Caesar’s consular year of 59 BC. 

  2. David Rafferty (referenced below, at pp. 201-2) observed that:

  3. “... all that we can say with confidence is that Afranius was probably still in Rome in mid-December [60 BC]: ... this would not precluded him from [having gone] to his [allotted] province [thereafter].”

  4. He concluded that:

  5. “The likelihood ... is that Afranius took up his province [in 59 BC] but [that his colleague], Metellus Celer - see below] did not, meaning that only one of the [twelve] territorial provinces was held by a consul or consular proconsul [in that year]. ”

  6. Terry Corey Brennan (referenced below, at p. 583) argued that:

  7. “... although detailed evidence is lacking, there is good reason to suspect that ... Afranius took up Cisalpina at some point after he received it in the emergency sortition of March of [60 BC] ... : and he will have remained there until .... Caesar took charge [in March 58 BC].”

However, David Rafferty (as above0 also noted that:

  1. “Eight praetorian [provincial governors of this year] are known, including [Caius] Pomptinus, [the governor of Transalpine Gaul - see below] ... Thus, three [of the twelve] provinces were held by unknown imperators.”

Given the lack of hard evidence for Afranius’ career after 60 BC, Cisalpine Gaul could conceivably have been a fourth.

Lex Vatinia de Caesaris Provincia

The tribunician law that assigned Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum to Caesar was put forward by Publius Vatinius, whom Robert Broughton (referenced below, at p. 189, with references) characterised as:

  1. “The chief supporter in the tribunicial college of Caesar, Pompey and Crassus.”

Cicero addressed this law in a passage in the speech of 56 BC in which he defended Publius Sestius: in his hostile cross-examination, of Vatinius (who appeared as a witness at the trial), Cicero asked:

  1. “... by what decree of the Senate [were you] appointed [as Caesar’s legate in Gaul ?] ... .  Your gesture gives me your answer: you say [that it was] in virtue of your own law. 

  2. Are you then ... a traitor to your fatherland ? 

  3. Was it your object that no trace of the Senate should be left in the state ? 

  4. Did you wish to rob the Senate even of the prerogative that no-one had ever before denied to it, the right of appointing staff-officers by a resolution of the House ? 

  5. Did this Council of State appear to you so mean, the Senate so degraded, the State so wretched and prostrate, that envoys of peace and war, that ambassadors, that representatives, that directors of policy in war, that assistants in the administration of a province, should no longer, according to the custom of our ancestors, be chosen by the Senate? 

  6. You had deprived the Senate of the right of assigning provinces [and] sanctioning the appointment of commanders ... ”, (‘In Vatinium’, 35-6, translated by Robert Gardner, referenced below, 1958a, at pp. 287-9).

From this, it is clear that, even in 56 BC, Vatinius’ law remained controversial.  However, despite his distaste for the lex Vatinia, Cicero argued against a proposal to assign Cisalpine Gaul to another consul when Caesar’s five year term came to an end: in another speech that he delivered in 56 BC, (which is discussed further below), he pointed out that, should Cisalpine Gaul be assigned in 56 BC under the lex Sempronia to one of the consuls who was elected for 55 BC, then this consul:

  1. “... should [normally] take over his province on the first day of January [54 BC. ... However, because the province was originally assigned to Caesar for five full years, this consul would] seem to have [Cisalpine Gaul] promised to him but not definitely assigned.  ... [What would happen when his consular year ended ?]:

  2. Is he to leave Rome [on 1st January 54 BC] wearing his general’s cloak ?  

  3. [Is he to depart for] a place where he will not be allowed to present himself before a fixed day [in the future]? 

  4. During January and February he will have no province; all at once, on the first day of March, a province will be found for him”, (‘De Provinciis Consularibus’, 37, translated by , translated by Robert Gardner, referenced below, 1958b, at pp.585-7).

This suggests that the lex Vatinia had:

  1. taken effect on the 28th February 59 BC: and

  2. prescribed the 28th February 54 BC as the end of Caesar’s five years as governor of Cisalpine Gaul.

Transalpine Gaul

As noted above, he status of the Gallic provinces changed in early 60 BC.  This is clear from a passage in a letter that Cicero wrote from Rome on 15th March to Atticus (who was in Epirus):

  1. “... the chief subject of interest in public affairs [here] ... is the disturbance in Gaul, ... [where]  the Helvetii are undoubtedly in arms and making raids on our province.  The Senate has [therefore] decreed that the two consuls [Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer and Lucius Afranius] should draw lots for the Gauls ...”, (Letter to Atticus, 1: 19: 2).

It seems that Metellus drew Transalpine Gaul and (as noted above) Afranius Cisalpine Gaul.  However, the emergency soon evaporated: in a second letter to Atticus on 13th May, Cicero noted that:

  1. “Your friend Metellus is an admirable consul.  I have only one fault to find with him: he [is disappointed with] the news from Gaul of the restoration of peace: I suppose that [he had been hoping to replace Pomptinus (see below) in Transalpina, and to secure] a triumph”, (Letter to Atticus, 1: 20: 5).

Caius Pomptinus

Robert Broughton (referenced below, at p. 77) recorded that Pomptinus, a praetor in 63 BC, had first been appointed as governor of Transalpine Gaul for 62 BC, and that his appointment was prorogued in each of the following two years, during which time he:

  1. “... checked and repressed a rebellion of the [Gallic] Allobroges”

It is clear from Cicero’s two letter above that:

  1. the Senate had mandated the consul Metellus Celer to relieve him of overall command in March 60 BC; but

  2. he had quickly put an end to the emergency that had prompted this senatorial intervention.

It is clear from a passage of Cicero’s speech of 56 BC in defence of Marcus Caelius Rufus that Metellus  had still been in Rome in April 59 BC when he had died, and that some (including Cicero) suspected that his wife (who was, by then, married to Cicero’s enemy, Clodius) had poisoned him:

  1. “I witnessed what was perhaps the most bitter sorrow of my life ... , when Q. Metellus was snatched from the bosom and embrace of his country, ... [only] two days after he had displayed his full vigour in the Senate, on the Rostra, and in public life, ...  when [still] in the prime of his years, in the best of health, and in the fullness of his strength.  At that moment, at the point of death, ... he remembered the State with his last thoughts... [as] he strove in broken and dying words to tell how ... great a tempest threatened [it] ...;  he grieved, not so much because he was dying, but because his country ... should be bereft of his aid.  Being the man he was, had the violence of a sudden crime not removed him, in what fashion would he, as a man of consular rank, have resisted [Clodius’s] revolutionary madness, ... Shall, then, that woman who comes from a house like this venture to speak about the speedy effect of a draught of poison? ... Will she not shudder at the walls that know her guilt, and at the memory of that night of death and grief ?, (‘Pro Caelio’, 59-60, translated by Robert Gardner, referenced below, 1958b, at pp. 479-83).

There is no surviving evidence to suggest that he had taken up the governorship of Transalpine Gaul before his death, but some scholars believe that he was about to do so.  However, Robert Broughton (referenced below, at p. 184) argued that:

  1. “... since he apparently lost his province, it is probable that Pomptinus [was] Caesar’s immediate predecessor.  It is uncertain when he returned to Rome to demand his triumph [see below].”

David Rafferty (referenced below, at p. 201) agreed, and Metellus’:

  1. “... position in 59 BC was therefore that of a privatus, and his death in that year had no bearing on the assignment of Transalpine Gaul to Caesar.  Broughton is correct that Pomptinus retained the province until it was given to Caesar. [which] helps explain the constant opposition of Vatinius and other partisans of Caesar to any recognition of Pomptinus‘ achievements [see below].” 

Cicero’s second letter above had indeed indicated that, when news had arrived in Rime in May 60 BC that the emergency in Gaul had ended, Metellus had been disappointed, since he had hoped to take overall command there and thus to secure a triumph.

According to Cassius Dio:

  1. “... Metellus would not ...yield, even when Flavius later threatened that he would not allow him to go out to the province that he had drawn[in March 60 BC] unless he would permit the law to be passed; on the contrary, [Metellus said that] he was very glad to remain in the city”, (‘Roman History’, 37: 50: 4).

Terry Corey Brennan (referenced below, at p. 578)


Cicero, in his hostile cross-examination of Caius Vatinius in 56 BC, asked rhetorically::

  1. “... I should like to learn from you ...  your intention, when you the funeral celebration given by my friend Quintus Arrius [probably in April 59 BC] wearing the toga pulla (mourning dress) ? Had you ever seen or heard of anyone presenting himself in such a costume on such an occasion ? ...  You will say that you [were signifying your disapproval]  of the supplicationes (public thanksgivings] that were then being held. Very well, I grant you that those thanksgivings were nothing.  Do you see that I am not questioning you on the subject of that year, nor about the interests you seem to share with very high personages [i.e. Caesar and Pompey], but about your own misdeeds ?”, (‘In Vatinium’, 30, translated by Robert Gardner, referenced below, 1958a, at pp. 281).

Gardner (at note d) observed  that the so-called Bobbio Scholiast (in his commentary on this passage) asserted  that the supplicationes of which Vatinius disapproved had been those given in 59 BC in honour of Pomptinus (although the scholiast had not reveal the source of his information).

In late October 54 BC;, Cicero wrote from Rome to Atticus (who was in Asia), reporting that:

  1. “Pomptinus wants to celebrate his triumph on 2 November.  The praetors Cato and Servilius and the tribune Q. Mucius are stopping him at the city gate: they say that no enabling law has been brought in, and it is true that the manner of its bringing in was insulse (in bad taste).  The consul Appius [Claudius Pulcher] will be on Pomptinus’ side.  Cato, however, asseverates that Pomptinus will triumph over his (Cato’s) dead body, an utterance that, I expect, will end in air( like a good many from the same quarter).”, (Letter to Atticus, 4: 18: 4).

Cassius Dio:

  1. “... Caius Pomptinus [finally] celebrated a triumph over the Gauls: he had remained outside the pomerium [since his victory in 60 BC], because no one granted him the right to hold it, and he would have missed it even now had not the praetor Servius Sulpicius Galba [... who had served under Pomptinus in Gaul] not, secretly and just before dawn, [enrolled a number of new citizens], despite the fact that it is illegal for any business to be brought before the people before the first hour.  For this reason some of the tribunes, who had been left out of the assembly, caused him trouble in [Pomptinus’ triumphal] procession, at any rate, so that there was some bloodshed”, (Roman History’, 39: 65: 1-2).

Read more:

D. Rafferty, “Provincial Allocations in Rome: 123-52 BC”, (2019) Stuttgart

L. Grillo, “Cicero's De Provinciis Consularibus Oratio”, (2015) New York

T. Corey Brennan, “The Praetorship in the Roman Republic: Volume 1: Origins to 122 BC”, (2000) Oxford

R. Gardner (translator), “Cicero: Pro Sestio: In Vatinium”, (1958a) Cambridge MA

R. Gardner (translator), “Cicero: Pro Caelio: De Provinciis Consularibus: Pro Balbo”, (1958b) Cambridge MA

T. R. S. Broughton, “The Magistrates of the Roman Republic,Volume II (99 - 31 BC)”,  (1952) New York

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