The Historical Context

The contio-setting

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 There were three principal settings for speeches in the late Roman republic: (1) the law-courts; (2) the senate; (3) the contio, a public meeting called by certain magistrates. Contiones were held for a variety of purposes: to inform the populus Romanus (‘the people of Rome’) of proposed legislation or important events, to debate controversial issues of the day, and very often for senior politicians to be held to account (or hauled over the coals, depending on your perspective) by the tribunes of the plebs. The plebeian tribunate was one of the magistracies with the right to call contiones and tribunes are often found in the contio setting in our sources; as the principal place to address the populus, the contio was the natural habitat for these most populares magistrates. The important point for the pro lege Manilia is how audience influences oratory: in a law-court the speaker addresses the jury, in the senate he addresses his fellow senators (his peers), and in a contio speech he addresses (or affects to address) the populus Romanus, the Roman people, generally called Quirites to their face. (In this oration, Cicero addresses his audience with the appellation Quirites twenty-three times, five times in the set text alone: § 27: utinam, Quirites, …; § 36: summa enim omnia sunt, Quirites, … § 37: Vestra admurmuratio facit, Quirites, … § 42: vos, Quirites, hoc ipso ex loco saepe cognovistis; § 45: amisissetis Asiam, Quirites, …. See also § 46: Potestis igitur iam constituere, Quirites, … § 48: Quod ut illi proprium ac perpetuum sit, Quirites, … § 49: dubitatis Quirites, quin…)

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Cicero had not held the plebeian tribunate, which was an optional office on the cursus honorum, but (as noted above) at the time of the pro lege Manilia he was one of that year’s praetors. His previous speeches had all been legal cases; he opens the pro lege Manilia with the observation that this was his first-ever contio speech. ((Cic. Man. 1.)) The expressed purpose of the speech is to encourage people to vote for the lex Manilia, a proposed law intended to transfer command of the campaign against Mithridates to Pompey. The secondary purpose of the speech, as we may infer from reading between the lines and from its publication after the event, is to promote Cicero himself, both as an orator and as a Friend of Pompey. Cicero’s interests are praetor, but also to anticipate his next political campaign, the canvass for the consulship. By speaking at all, Cicero publicises his support of Pompey, which Pompey himself may appreciate and which will hopefully gain Cicero some of the reflected glow from Pompey’s popularity; and by publishing the speech he preserves testimony to the occasion and also enables those deprived souls who missed the performance to enjoy his oratory second-hand (this includes you!). (He no doubt revised the script before its dissemination in writing, though how much Cicero revised any given speech for publication is one of those eternally debated issues that keep modern scholars occupied and safely off the streets.)

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Rome’s imperial expansion

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Rome began as just one city-state among a quarrelsome bunch in the Italian peninsula. Disregarding the historically doubtful wars of the regal period and very early Republic, Rome’s winning ways with its neighbours resulted in:

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 In the course of successfully prosecuting several centuries of sustained warfare the populus Romanus expanded their territory from the ordinary hinterland of an average city-state to a territorial empire embracing chunks of Spain, Greece, Asia Minor, the Near East (mod. Middle East) and Africa. One unforeseen by-product of this remarkable imperial expansion has been the modern debate over how to explain it. Broadly speaking, there are three academic views:

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  • The classic view, ‘defensive imperialism’: that the Romans were constantly pressed to defend themselves against external powers, and in the course of reluctantly defending themselves somehow ended up with an empire (mysterious!). ((E.g. Walbank (1963), Brunt (1964).))
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  • The ‘aggressive imperialism’ view, propounded in the first place as a revisionist perspective by W. V. Harris: that the Romans were extraordinarily aggressive and took out their anger management issues on their neighbours, prosecuting a deliberate policy of expansion via the ferocious contest for laus and gloria among their top politicians and their unusual capacity for deeply unpleasant behaviour. (‘In my view it is more likely that the regular harshness of Roman war-methods sprang from an unusually pronounced willingness contributed to Roman bellicosity.’ ((Harris (1979) 51; cf. also Rowland (1983).)))
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  • The ‘realist’ view, representing the inevitable backswing against the initial revisionist perspective: certainly the ‘defensive imperialism’ idea is untenable, derived as it is from our self-justifying and mostly late Republic/imperial Roman sources. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that the Romans were a uniquely violent people (or, presumably, uniquely xenophobic). Rather, the ancient world was a violent place (and, at the time of writing, nothing much seems to have changed since) in which nations and city-states were constantly going to war with each other, and Roman social and political structures just happened to be uniquely suited to coping with decades-long wars and the occasional catastrophic defeat (or, better, evolved into being able to do so). ((E.g. North (1981); cf. also Adler’s critique (2008a), (2008b) of the idea that the ‘defensive imperialism’ version is pro-imperialistic, pro-Roman apologia: what it boils down to is that anyone who is or feels themselves to be vulnerable to accusations of being in possession of an empire actually gets very uncomfortable about comparisons with Rome and tends to denigrate whatever they think the Roman version of imperialism is. In contrast, ‘anti-imperialists’/critics of hawkish foreign policies/etc. jump straight for (often inappropriate and shockingly inaccurate) comparisons with Rome, which is once again the villain of the piece due to negative popular preconceptions. (This is a separate issue from the point that Victorian/Edwardian classicists tended to rely innocently on literary sources, which are generally self-justifying Roman ones, of course.) For more on modern (re)conceptions of ancient empires, cf. Harrison (2008).))

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 We (this is probably no surprise) favour the ‘realist’ take, ((80 Persian expansion, for instance, was unambiguously aggressive. So were the Assyrians: just look at their friezes. And how about Alexander? And when Rome turned up in Sicily, was Carthage already there because the Sicilians had decided to invite them round for tea?))) but it doesn’t really matter too much for present purposes. What does matter is that in the course of systematically rendering their neighbours down for soup stock, the Romans fell prey not to an enemy power but instead, in the end, to internal political dissensions, thereby kicking off the sequence of civil wars that eventually transformed the Republic into the monarchic Empire.

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Civil wars

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 The first formal civil war (defined as ‘war between Roman citizens’) is generally taken to be Sulla’s first march on Rome in 88. However, this came at the tail-end of a lengthy history of political violence starting in 133, when the tribune Tiberius Gracchus’s controversial legislation to divvy up public land for the benefit of the landless (with the good of the Roman army in mind: at this point, only men in possession of a certain amount of property could serve in the army) ended in the death of Tiberius and some 300 followers in a minor bloodbath on the Capitol when the senior senator and pontifex maximus (‘chief pontiff’) Publius Scipio Nasica led a mob of senators there to disrupt Tiberius’s dubiously legal re-election as tribune. ((Plutarch, Life of Tiberius Gracchus; Appian, Bellum Civile 1.9-16; Velleius Paterculus 2.3.)) Further political violence took place in 121, when Tiberius’s younger brother Gaius Gracchus, who had followed in Tiberius’s political footsteps and was seeking to be tribune for the third time, was slaughtered along with his allies in somewhat more organised fashion by the sitting consul, L. Opimius;8 ((Plutarch, Life of Gaius Gracchus, Appian Bellum Civile 1.21-26. Cf. especially Stockton (1979) 114-61, Nippel (1995) 63-4, Flower (2006) 69, 76-8 and (2010) 86.)) then in 100, the tribune L. Appuleius Saturninus and the praetor C. Servilius Glaucia were lynched in the Curia Hostilia, despite promises of safe conduct from the sixth-time consul and sometime popularis Gaius Marius. ((Appian, Bellum Civile 1.110ff.))

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 In 91, the murder of the popularis tribune M. Livius Drusus by persons unknown added to the various tensions that gave rise to the Social War, which we hesitate to call a civil war only due to a quibble of semantics: it was fought between Romans and their Italian allies (the socii), rather than between Roman citizens. However, citizenship issues were an important factor in the Social War, so it isn’t actually too much of a stretch to describe the Social War as a civil war: on the traditional account, the Italian city- states decided to break with Rome and set up a separate federal state, Italia, out of the frustrated desire to become Roman citizens, as promised by the murdered Drusus. ((E.g. Brunt (1965) 271, Gabba (1989), Salmon (1982) 128-29.)) (Henrik Mouritsen, it is worth noting, has proposed a wilfully post-colonial antidote to this traditional view arguing that the ‘we want citizenship’ version was superimposed on a ‘down with evil oppressor Rome’ original. ((Mouritsen (1998).))) In any case, whether you buy that or not, the Social War ran from 91-88; the (former ) allies were defeated through a combination of military victory and political concessions: the Latins were granted citizenship, though the qualifications to this grant (especially confining them to the four urban tribes, like freedmen, thereby restricting the new citizens’ political influence) became new sources of political tensions immediately ((Salmon (1982) 130.)). One of the tribunes of 88, proposed laws to distribute the new citizens through all 35 voting tribes and sought to gain support for his legislation by transferring command of the impending war against Mithridates from the consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla to the ageing Gaius Marius. ((On the events of 88 generally, cf. Katz (1977), Mitchell (1979) 54-76. On Sulpicius and his activities, cf. Badian (1969) 481-90, Lintott (1971), Mitchell (1975), Keaveney (1979), Powell (1990), Lewis (1998), Lovano (2002) 1-18. Luce (1970) argues that much of the 90s should be seen in the light of Marius’s ambitions for another great command and his opponents’ attempts to prevent him from getting one.)) This did not go down well: after open violence in the streets, Sulla escaped to his army, joined forces with his colleague, Quintus Pompeius, and together the consuls marched on Rome. ((Keaveney (1982) 60-4, Levick (1982) 508, Lovano (2002) 19-21, Santangelo (2007) 6-7.))

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 There is an argument to be made that Sulla’s first march on Rome was a police action, and Christian Meier, followed by Robert Morstein-Marx, has made it. ((Morstein-Marx (2011) 272, Meier (1966) 224; for a similarly sympathetic perspective cf. Mitchell (1979) 68-76.)) Well, perhaps. It was the first full-on military occupation of Rome by Roman consuls, who should technically have forfeited their imperium as soon as they crossed the formal city boundary (the pomerium). Once in possession of Rome, they revoked Sulpicius’s laws and handed out a ‘kill on sight’ list that included Sulpicius (who got it in the neck, rather literally) and Marius (who escaped to Africa and enjoyed several pathetic adventures of the sort that later became de rigueur for Sulla’s enemies). It isn’t clear what other legislation was promulgated at this point, because there’s a suspicion that the sources are retrojecting the legislation of Sulla’s second march on Rome. ((Flower (2010) 120.)) Sulla did hold the elections for the following year and upheld the results even though he disapproved of one of the winners, Lucius Cornelius Cinna; both consuls-designate were obliged to swear an oath to uphold Sulla’s settlement and Sulla himself headed out East to take the first of several inconclusive hacks at Mithridates. ((Keaveney (1982) 66-8, Levick (1982) 508, Lovano (2002) 31.))

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 As soon as Sulla was out of the way, things broke down in Rome. The consuls Cinna and C. Octavius fell out with each other and the senate backed Octavius, who drove Cinna out of Rome. Marius reappeared; Cinna and Marius together marched on Rome; both got to be consuls (Marius for the seventh time) and Marius died a natural death later that year. The four years or so that followed are generally known as the Tempus Cinnae (‘the time of Cinna’) or the Dominatio Cinnae (‘the tyranny of Cinna’) or something on those lines; meanwhile Sulla, out East, was obliged to manoeuvre around not just Mithridates but also the senatorial/Cinnan candidate for the command. ((Lovano (2002) 32-45; on the Cinnae dominatio generally cf. Badian (1962), Bulst (1964), Mitchell (1979) 76-80, Lovano (2002).)) Eventually he decided he’d had enough of this and came to terms with Mithridates, which allowed him to head back to Italy for his second march on Rome in 83. This time he did things thoroughly: relevant details are supporters, dictatorship, legislation, proscriptions, resignation, a natural death. ((Keaveney (1982) 169-75, Hantos (1988).)) Although it’s tempting to cut off ‘Sulla’s civil wars’ with Sulla’s victory at Rome, in fact the civil wars continued down through the 70s, as the various ‘Marians’ who had fled Rome continued to fight the good fight in Sicily, Africa and, most determinedly, Sertorius in Spain. ((Plutarch, Life of Sertorius, Spann (1987).)) Additionally, Italy itself continued to be troubled, first by M. Aemilius Lepidus, one of the consuls of 78, ((Weigel (1992) 12-19.)) and then by whatever was going on with Catiline in 63. ((Salmon (1935), Allen (1938), Yavetz (1963) 496, Phillips (1976), Smith (1966) 105-31, Waters (1970), Stockton (1971) 110-42, Seager (1973), Mitchell (1979) 232-42.)) (Whatever was going on in Rome, there was certainly an uprising out in the field.) And we might throw in Spartacus and the slave war in Italy in the 70s for good measure.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 In short, we are looking at twenty years of civil war from the Social War in 91 to the end of Sertorius in Spain in 72; then the 60s, when Pompey is out East, then the 50s, when Caesar is out west; and then the return of civil war in 49, when Caesar crosses the Rubicon and marches on Rome. This civil war lasted from 49 to Actium in 31 – another twenty years, from which Caesar’s doubtfully adopted heir Octavian/Augustus emerged triumphant and everyone still standing went and had a nice quiet lie down for several years. But as far as the pro lege Manilia is concerned, all of that remains safely in the future and the main shadow in everyone’s tragic backstory is Sulla.

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The shadow of Sulla

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Why is this a relevant category? In general terms, because the unfinished war against Mithridates is one of Sulla’s legacies, and anything with Sulla’s fingerprints on it is potentially a sticky issue. It’s less than ten years since the last major Marian (Sertorius) was disposed of, less than fifteen years since Sulla’s death, all those currently engaged in politics had some level of complicity in Sulla’s regime, and Mithridates remained free to make trouble because Sulla left the war early so he could sort out his enemies in Rome. Cicero soft-pedals this point in the actual speech: two triumphs have so far been won for wars with Mithridates, even though those wars left Mithridates bloody but unbowed, but Sulla and L. Murena, the triumphatores in question, both ‘deserve praise for what they did, pardon for what they left undone, since both were recalled to Italy from the war, Sulla by a crisis at home and Murena by Sulla’. ((Cic. Man. 8: verum tamen illis imperatoribus laus est tribuenda, quod egerunt, venia danda, quod reliquerunt, propterea quod ab ea bello Sullam in Italiam res publica, Murenam Sulla revocavit.))   Moreover, Cicero goes on to point out that the rearming Mithridates did his best to link up with Sertorius in Spain so that Rome might be attacked on two fronts, ((Cic. Man. 9.)) thereby linking the defeated side of the civil war with the current external enemy. ((It’s possibly worth noting that he delays citing Sertorius by name until Man. 10; introduced in Man. 9, Sertorius is only ‘that imperator over in Hispania we had all those problems with’, which somewhat camouflages the civil war aspect.))

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 This awkward Sullan background perhaps plays into Cicero’s ‘damn with faint praise’ strategy in this speech, which applies most noticeably in his treatment of Lucullus, who features as a general who is great but not quite great enough. Lucullus is a fortis vir, a sapiens homo and a magnus imperator who relieved Cyzicus from siege, defeated a Sertorian fleet, opened the way into Pontus, occupied Sinope, Amisus and countless other cities of Pontus and Cappadocia, drove out Mithridates and did all this without endangering Rome’s socii or revenues. ((Cic. Man. 20-1.)) However, he was hamstrung by the avarice of his troops, the hostility of Mithridates’ neighbours and the adherence to petty precedent on the part of the senate, ((Cic. Man. 22-6.)) leaving a war (says Cicero) so great that only a truly extraordinary imperator (sc. Pompey) can handle it. ((Cic. Man. 27.)) Likewise, those who oppose the lex Manilia do so from sincere, if misplaced concerns: Hortensius opposed the lex Gabinia and now opposes the lex Manilia, and the populus Romanus recognises that he does so bono animo (‘with good intention’), but nonetheless disagreed with him then and should disagree with him now. ((Cic. Man. 56.)) Quintus Catulus, a respected patriot (amantissimus rei publicae: Man. 51) argues against innovating in the face of the exempla et instituta maiorum by handing so much power to a privatus (Man. 60): not only were the maiores actually quite happy to innovate themselves, says Cicero, but Pompey’s previous career is all the precedent he needs. ((Cic. Man. 59-62.)) In the pro lege Manilia, the only villain is Mithridates; unlike in Cicero’s legal speeches, where the need to find alternative candidates for the role of the defendant (or, in the case of the Verrines, where Cicero speaks for the prosecution) results in character assassinations and outright attacks, here Cicero presents us with a rational Rome where prominent figures disagree with one another in good faith and may be outvoted by a populus wiser than any of them.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 In fact, this serene take on the Roman political sphere contrasts not just with Cicero’s legal speeches but also with quite a lot of Cicero’s later political speeches, which feature a gallery of super-villains, demagogic would-be tyrants and corrupt politicians to rival anything Marvel or DC has yet come up with. In particular, the speeches against Catiline from the second half of Cicero’s consulship, the mid-50s invective in Pisonem and the Second Philippic against M. Antonius are all dominated by attacks on specific individuals and present a version of Rome that is divided, under attack and in extreme peril from political dangers. Now, one difference between the pro lege Manilia and those speeches is that after he reached the consulship Cicero no longer needed to canvass for office, having topped the cursus honorum (well, there was still the censorship, but that was far too irregularly held to count on at this point in time), and, being in a position to make real inimici (‘political enemies’), henceforth did so, quite gratuitously in the case of his future arch-nemesis Clodius Pulcher. As a praetor in 66, however, Cicero was still obliged to calculate his position with regards both to his political peers and his future voting constituency: to lean too far towards the populus and/or demonize his eminent opponents could alienate people whose support/votes he was going to need, and so he treads carefully around Hortensius and Catulus. Similarly, if in a slightly different way, he treads rather carefully around Manilius, whose law he is ostentatiously supporting. We mentioned above that Manilius was a turbulent tribune and certainly Manilius’s political future was not heading down the sort of career path that might make him a valuable amicus for a respectable gentleman like Cicero, which may explain why Manilius himself is markedly absent from the pro lege Manilia. Cicero appeals to the magnitude of the war, the excellence of Pompey and the wisdom of the populus, but he has very little to say about Manilius.

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 To tie all this back to Sulla, it is perhaps noteworthy that Cicero is so delicate in this speech in contione. Cicero’s treatment of Sulla in his consular speeches de lege agraria 2 and 3, also delivered to the populus, suggests there were cheap points to be made by unkind references to Sulla (and even more so to the beneficiaries of Sulla’s proscriptions and colony policies). ((Cic. Agr. 1.21, 2.82, 3.5 (Sullana dominatio/Sulla the tyrannus), 2.52 (the proscriptions), 2.68-70, 3.3, 3.13 (Sullan profiteers), 3.6-7, 3.10 (Sullans and Marians, i.e. political positioning in relation to the Sullan regime).)) Sulla was not a popular (and certainly not popularis) figure, but his settlement did have to be upheld by those in power, since they were in power thanks to Sulla’s settlement. Certainly Sulla’s contribution to Roman political consensus remained contentious for quite a long time to come: the politics of the 70s had revolved around unpicking particular aspects of Sulla’s political settlement, Manlius’s uprising during the Catilinarian affair of 63 testifies to the grievances of Sullan veterans, Pompey in the 50s was apostrophised (famously) as carnifex adulescentulus as a call-back to his early career under Sulla, and the shadow of Sulla fell particularly heavily on both sides in the civil war that started when Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49.

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 Speaking of Pompey’s particular Sullan past, the other sticky issue for the pro lege Manilia was the extraordinary nature of the command being handed to Pompey. More on extraordinary commands below, but in aggregate Sulla’s dictatorial settlement seems to have aimed at concentrating political power in the hands of the senate as a way to counteract the upsetting recent trend towards rogue magisterial action, whereas the lex Manilia doubles up the offence of the lex Gabinia in concentrating extraordinary power in the hands of a privatus whose early career necessarily invoked Sulla as mentor and role model. Pompey’s remarkable career would not have been possible if not for Sulla’s activities (and, presumably, his father Strabo dying before he could pick a side for his veterans) and Cicero’s careful treatment of Pompey’s previous career in this speech reflects the problems inherent in lauding victories gained in civil war. Pompey had gone from the games and lessons of childhood to his father’s army in order to study military matters in a great war (bellum maximum) against the most savage enemies (acerrimi hostes); as a mere boy, he had served as soldier in a summus imperator’s army, and as an adulescens commanded a great army; he had ‘more often clashed with his country’s enemies (cum hoste conflixit) than any other man has quarrelled with his own (cum inimico concertavit), fought more wars than others have read of, discharged more public offices (provinciae) than other men have coveted; in his youth (adulescentia), he learned the lessons of warfare not from the instructions of others but under his own command (suis imperiis), not by reverses in war but by victories, not through campaigns but through triumphs’. ((Cic. Man. 28.)) Pompey had engaged in all types of warfare and so gained universal competence: ‘The civil war, the wars in Africa, Transalpine Gaul and Spain, the slave war and the naval war, wars different in type and locality and against foes as different, not only carried on by himself unaided but carried to a conclusion, make it manifest that there is no item within the sphere of military experience which can be beyond the knowledge of Pompeius’. ((Cic. Man. 28.)) This glorious account tarnishes when rephrased as what it was: a series of victories achieved against Roman citizens. Cicero disguises this by portraying the wars waged outside Italy as foreign wars, rather than extensions of the initial civil war sparked by Sulla’s return from the East. ((Steel (2001) 145 (see further 140-47).)) His response to Hortensius and Catulus’s criticisms of the imperium proposed for Pompey was similarly slippery: it was disingenuous of Cicero to dismiss as unimportant the problems Pompey’s singular cursus honorum posed, as future events would show.

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The lex Manilia and the problem of extraordinary commands

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 We spared a few words above for the academic problem that we don’t really know what Pompey’s imperium (‘right of command’) as per the lex Gabinia was. Whatever the details, it handed to Pompey, a private citizen, an extraordinary imperium for a set number of years. This plays into a theme of the late Republic, that of ‘extraordinary commands’. ‘Ordinary’ commands were based on election to a magistracy with attached imperium, either the praetorship or the consulship, and either as a magistrate during your term in office or as a promagistrate after your term in office you get handed a provincia (this is really a sphere of operation, but – except for the urban praetor – generally one attached to certain geographical boundaries) in which to operate your imperium. But for certain military challenges that emerged in the late republic, not least as a result of Rome’s imperial expansion, this system didn’t quite work – and the Romans felt that in certain situations extraordinary measures proved necessary (if not desirable). We might start this trend with Marius’s totally unprecedented repeat elections to six consulships to deal with the marauding Cimbri and Teutones, which is not technically an extraordinary command as we just defined it (because Marius was, indeed, elected), but which is at least an example of someone holding a command significantly past the usual expiration date and without requiring prorogation. Marius is also significant because he was the first to start (officially) raising levies from the capite censi, the poorest class of citizens who possessed less than a certain amount of property and were hence literally ‘counted by the head’. We combine these details because the real issue here is that the longer you hold your command, and the more your men rely on you to reward them (usually with land) at the end of their time in service, the more opportunity you have to turn your army into one loyal to you personally.

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 This problem was exacerbated by extraordinary commands. By the time of the lex Manilia, the conferral of an imperium extra ordinem was by no means unprecedented, let alone unconstitutional. Erich Gruen, for instance, stresses that such commands were an integral part of Rome’s political repertory, especially in situations of military crisis. ((Gruen (1974) 534-43 (‘Appendix III: imperia extra ordinem’). Note that his heavy reliance on Cicero’s speech de Imperio as evidence for the ordinary nature of extraordinary commands is circular: it is, of course, exactly what Cicero wishes his audience to believe, and he spins facts and exempla accordingly.)) He does not, however, reckon with the possibility that even ‘constitutional’ acts could still have been perceived as profoundly problematic and may have had unintended and dysfunctional consequences as well. Such mandates provided high- profile aristocrats with further opportunities to distinguish themselves over and above their peers and tended to be longer and involve more grandiose forms of imperium than the usual sort. The increasing need for special commands due to imperial expansion and the ensuing accumulation of power and resources in the hands of outstanding individuals has often been recognized as one of the defining paradoxes of late republican politics. Moreover, the controversial nature of said commands led to political blowback in the form of the senate’s refusal or quibbling over post-command settlements, especially the settlement of veterans on land. This, in turn, made soldiers more inclined to look to their commanders as the source of potential and actual rewards – and more willing to obey when, for example, their commanders proposed such dubious activities as fighting fellow citizens.

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 Pompey was pretty much the king of extraordinary commands in the late Republic: his early career, right up to his consulship, involved a string of commands given to a private citizen (as per citations from the pro lege Manilia, above), followed by a stint in Spain non pro consule sed pro consulibus (© L. Philippus, Cic. Man. 62). After his consulship, the lex Gabinia gave him the command against the pirates that the lex Manilia commuted into a command against Mithridates. In the 50s, as we pointed out above, he picked up a grain-related command and a Spanish pro-consulship-by- proxy, which is probably the most egregious, since he delegated the work to legates and lurked just outside Rome (so as not to abrogate his imperium by crossing the pomerium). The extraordinary commands that actually did it for the Republic, however, were those given to Caesar: a five year command in Gaul that was prorogued in 55 for a further five years, at the end of which a quarrel over whether Caesar should be allowed to stand for the consulship in absentia (thereby saving him any concern about being prosecuted in the interval between giving up his Gallic command and resuming a new office) sparked a civil war in which Caesar’s army and officers were loyal, above all, to Caesar himself.

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