Friday, April 20, 2012

The Calm before the Storm

After Julius Caesar returned to Rome in triumph, he served another term as Consul, in 700 AUC (54 BC).  He used this year to further consolidate his political base and bolster the positions of his allies in government.  He lavished the city with games and construction projects, expanding his already impressive popularity.  As his term wound to an end, he continued the various efforts to maintain the support of the electorate, only now the games were held in the name of his various political allies and lieutenants. 
The most ambitious of the projects begun during Caesar's consulship would be the Library of Rome, built with the stated intention of rivaling that of Alexandria.  Caesar sought to have a copy in Rome of every book in Alexandria.  Nearly as grand as the library would be the extensive upgrades to the facilities at Ostia's port, the nearest to Rome.  A large fortified harbor was begun, with 2 long seawalls to protect the harbor and a sophisticated lighthouse.

Caesar also pursued various minor political reforms, seeking to improve the Roman state wherever he thought possible, to the extant that the state and people were willing to tolerate after the previous decade's reforms.  The most significant successful reforms were term limits for various magistrates.  Governors were also now subjected to similar limits on their terms, requiring continued support of the assemblies to maintain their posts.  However, governors seeking to stay in office simply bled their provinces dry (to an extent that was shocking, even by Roman standards) to afford bribing the assemblies, leading to several provincial revolts during 701 and 702 AUC (53 and 52 BC).  Thus, hard term limits were imposed on governors as well.

Less significant reforms included efforts to weed out corruption and fraud, such as establishing a formal licensing system for practitioners of medicine.  Caesar also sought to expand the number of Italian voting tribes from 12 to 14, though resistance to that from the Roman establishment dissuaded him from pursuing the effort any further.

While Caesar and his allies were busy in Rome, his protege, Lucius Octavius, served as governor of Dacia.  While serving as governor, his main goal was to solidify the Roman dominion of the area, which was hampered by the logistics of the current borders.  Collaborating with the governor of Illyricum, Gaius Claudius Pulcher, Octavius sought to subdue the various tribes in the Illyrian hinterland.  To the north, the Boii remained firm in their allegiance to the Republic, but the tribes between the coastline and Dacia could not be relied upon.

So, in the spring of 701 AUC (53 BC), Octavius and Claudius began campaigning in Illyria.  The first phase of the campaign secured the Savus (Sava) river, which was the main goal of both generals.  They then moved north, securing the Dravus (Drava) river, which was then established as the border between the Roman Republic and the Boii, who occupied Pannonia between the Dravus and Danuvius.  With this narrow strip of land securely in Roman hands, Octavius and Claudius methodically marched south,  crushing all the opposing tribes before them.  By the end of 702 AUC (52 BC), inland Illyria was subdued and added to the province of Illyricum, greatly shortening the Roman borders.



More of a house cleaning than anything else to set the state for future updates.  Everything major program Caesar does at this point is something he planned to do.  The smaller efforts, such as the regulation of medicine were efforts proposed by other Romans, such as Pliny.

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