The Roman magistrates were elected officials in Ancient Rome. During the period of the Roman Kingdom, the King of Rome was the principal executive magistrate, his power, in practice, was absolute. He was the chief priest, lawgiver and the sole commander of the army; when the king died, his power reverted to the Roman Senate, which chose an Interrex to facilitate the election of a new king. During the transition from monarchy to republic, the constitutional balance of power shifted from the executive to the Roman Senate; when the Roman Republic was founded in 509 BC, the powers, held by the king were transferred to the Roman consuls, of which two were to be elected each year. Magistrates of the republic were elected by the people of Rome, were each vested with a degree of power called "major powers". Dictators had more "major powers" than any other magistrate, after the Dictator was the censor, the consul, the praetor, the curule aedile, the quaestor. Any magistrate could obstruct an action, being taken by a magistrate with an equal or lower degree of magisterial powers.
By definition, plebeian tribunes and plebeian aediles were technically not magistrates since they were elected only by the plebeians, as such, they were independent of all other powerful magistrates. During the transition from republic to the Roman empire, the constitutional balance of power shifted from the Roman Senate back to the executive. Theoretically, the senate elected each new emperor; the powers of an emperor existed, by virtue of his legal standing. The two most significant components to an emperor's imperium were the "tribunician powers" and the "proconsular powers". In theory at least, the tribunician powers gave the emperor authority over Rome's civil government, while the proconsular powers gave him authority over the Roman army. While these distinctions were defined during the early empire they were lost, the emperor's powers became less constitutional and more monarchical; the traditional magistracies that survived the fall of the republic were the consulship, plebeian tribunate, aedileship and military tribunate.
Mark Antony abolished the offices of dictator and Master of the Horse during his Consulship in 44 BC, while the offices of Interrex and Roman censor were abolished shortly thereafter. The executive magistrates of the Roman Kingdom were elected officials of the ancient Roman Kingdom. During the period of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman King was the principal executive magistrate, he was the chief executive, chief priest, chief lawgiver, chief judge, the sole commander-in-chief of the army. His powers rested on law and legal precedent, he could only receive these powers through the political process of an election. In practice, he had no real restrictions on his power; when war broke out, he had the sole power to organize and levy troops, to select leaders for the army, to conduct the campaign as he saw fit. He controlled all property held by the state, had the sole power to divide land and war spoils, was the chief representative of the city during dealings with either the Gods or leaders of other communities, could unilaterally decree any new law.
Sometimes he submitted his decrees to either the popular assembly or to the senate for a ceremonial ratification, but a rejection did not prevent the enactment of a decree. The king chose several officers to assist him, unilaterally granted them their powers; when the king left the city, an Urban Prefect presided over the city in place of the absent king. The king had two Quaestors as general assistants, while several other officers assisted the king during treason cases. In war, the king commanded only the infantry, delegated command over the cavalry to the commander of his personal bodyguards, the Tribune of the Celeres; the king sometimes deferred to precedent simply out of practical necessity. While the king could unilaterally declare war, for example, he wanted to have such declarations ratified by the popular assembly; the period between the death of a king, the election of a new king, was known as the interregnum. During the interregnum, the senate elected a senator to the office of Interrex to facilitate the election of a new king.
Once the Interrex found a suitable nominee for the kingship, he presented this nominee to the senate for an initial approval. If the senate voted in favor of the nominee, that person stood for formal election before the People of Rome in the Curiate Assembly. After the nominee was elected by the popular assembly, the senate ratified the election by passing a decree; the Interrex formally declared the nominee to be king. The new king took the auspices, was vested with legal authority by the popular assembly; the Roman magistrates were elected officials of the Roman Republic. Each Roman magistrate was vested with a degree of power. Dictators had the highest level of power. After the Dictator was the Consul, the Praetor, the Censor, the curule aedile, the quaestor; each magistrate could only veto an action, taken by a magistrate with an equal or lower degree of power. Since plebeian tribunes were technically not magistrates
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He held the office of consul an unprecedented seven times during his career, he was noted for his important reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, reorganizing the structure of the legions into separate cohorts. Marius defeated the invading Germanic tribes, for which he was called "the third founder of Rome." His life and career were significant in Rome's transformation from Republic to Empire. Marius was born in 157 BC in the town of Arpinum in southern Latium; the town had been conquered by the Romans in the late 4th century BC and was given Roman citizenship without voting rights. Only in 188 BC did the town receive full citizenship. Although Plutarch claims that Marius' father was a labourer, this is certainly false since Marius had connections with the nobility in Rome, he ran for local office in Arpinum, he had marriage relations with the local nobility in Arpinum, which all combine to indicate that he was born into a locally important family of equestrian status.
The problems he faced in his early career in Rome show the difficulties that faced a "new man". There is a legend that Marius, as a teenager, found an eagle's nest with seven chicks in it – eagle clutches hardly have more than 3 eggs. Since eagles were considered sacred animals of Jupiter, the supreme god of the Romans, it was seen as an omen predicting his election to the consulship seven times; as consul, he decreed that the eagle would be the symbol of the Senate and People of Rome. In 134 BC, he was serving with the army at Numantia and his good services brought him to the attention of Scipio Aemilianus. Whether he arrived with Scipio Aemilianus or was serving in the demoralized army that Scipio Aemilianus took over at Numantia is not clear. According to Plutarch, during a conversation after dinner, when the conversation turned to generals, someone asked Scipio Aemilianus where the Roman people would find a worthy successor to him. Aemilianus gently tapped on Marius' shoulder, saying: "Perhaps this is the man."
It would seem that at this early stage in his army career, Marius had ambitions for a political career in Rome. He ran for election as one of the twenty-four special military tribunes of the first four legions who were elected. Sallust tells us that he was unknown by sight to the electors but was returned by all the tribes on the basis of his accomplishments. Next, he ran for the quaestorship after losing an election for local office in Arpinum; the military tribunate shows that he was interested in Roman politics before the quaestorship. He ran for local office as a means of gaining support back home, lost to some other local worthy. Nothing is known of his actions while quaestor. In 120 BC, Marius was returned as plebeian tribune for the following year, he won with the support of Quintus Caecilius Metellus, an inherited patronus. The Metelli, though neither ancient nor patrician, were one of the most powerful families in Rome at this time. During his tribunate, Marius pursued a populares line.
He passed a law. In the 130s voting by ballot had been introduced in elections for choosing magistrates, passing laws and deciding legal cases, replacing the earlier system of oral voting; the wealthy continued to try to influence the voting by inspecting ballots and Marius passed a law narrowing the passages down which voters passed to cast their votes in order to prevent outsiders from harassing the electors. In the passage of this law, Marius alienated the Metelli. Soon thereafter, Marius lost; this loss was at least in part due to the enmity of the Metelli. In 116 BC he won election as praetor for the following year and was promptly accused of ambitus, he won acquittal on this charge, spent an uneventful year as praetor in Rome. In 114 BC, Marius' imperium was prorogued and he was sent to govern Hispania Ulterior, where he engaged in some sort of minor military operation: according to Plutarch, he cleared away the robbers whilst robbery was still considered a noble occupation by the local people.
During this period in Roman history governors seem to have served two years in Hispania, so he was replaced in 113 BC. He received no triumph on his return and did not run for the consulship, but he did marry Julia, the aunt of Julius Caesar; the Julii Caesares were a patrician family, but at this period seem to have found it hard to advance above the praetorship. To judge by this marriage, Marius had achieved some substantial political or financial influence by this point; the Marii were the inherited clients of the Caecilii Metelli and a Caecilius Metellus had aided Marius' campaign for the tribunate. Although he seems to have had a break with the Metelli as a result of the laws he passed while tribune, the rupture was not permanent, since in 109 BC Quintus Caecilius Metellus took Marius with him as his legate on his campaign against Jugurtha. Legates were simply envoys sent by the Senate, but men appointed as legates by the Senate were used by generals as subordinate c
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (triumvir)
Marcus Aemilius Lepidus was a Roman patrician, a part of the Second Triumvirate alongside Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus and Marcus Antonius, the last Pontifex Maximus of the Roman Republic. Lepidus had been a close ally of Julius Caesar. Though he was an able military commander and proved a useful partisan of Caesar, Lepidus has always been portrayed as the weakest member of the Triumvirate, he appears as a marginalised figure in depictions of the events of the era, most notably in Shakespeare's plays. While some scholars have endorsed this view, others argue that the evidence is insufficient to discount the distorting effects of propaganda by his opponents, principally Cicero and Augustus. Lepidus was the son of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, his brother was Lucius Aemilius Lepidus Paullus. His father was the first leader of the revived populares faction after the death of Sulla, led an unsuccessful rebellion against the optimates. Lepidus married Junia Secunda, sister of Marcus Junius Brutus and Junia Tertia, Cassius Longinus's wife.
Lepidus and Junia Secunda had Marcus Aemilius Lepidus the Younger. Lepidus joined the College of Pontiffs as a child, he started his cursus honorum as triumvir monetalis, overseeing the minting of coins, from c. 62–58 BC. Lepidus soon became one of Julius Caesar's greatest supporters, he was appointed as a praetor in 49 BC, being placed in charge of Rome while Caesar defeated Pompey in Greece. He secured Caesar's appointment as dictator, a position Caesar used to get himself elected as consul, resigning the dictatorship after eleven days. Lepidus was rewarded with the position of proconsul in the Spanish province of Hispania Citerior. While in Spain Lepidus was called upon to act to quell a rebellion against Quintus Cassius Longinus, governor of neighbouring Hispania Ulterior. Lepidus refused to support Cassius, who had created opposition to Caesar's regime by his corruption and avarice, he negotiated a deal with the rebel leader, the quaestor Marcellus, helped defeat an attack by the Mauretanian king Bogud.
Cassius and his supporters were allowed to leave and order was restored. Caesar and the Senate were sufficiently impressed by Lepidus' judicial mixture of negotiation and surgical military action that they granted him a triumph. Lepidus was rewarded with the consulship in 46 after the defeat of the Pompeians in the East. Caesar made Lepidus magister equitum his deputy. Caesar appears to have had greater confidence in Lepidus than in Mark Antony to keep order in Rome, after Antony's inflammatory actions led to disturbances in 47. Lepidus appears to have been genuinely shocked when Antony provocatively offered Caesar a crown at the Lupercalia festival, an act that helped to precipitate the conspiracy to kill Caesar; when in February 44 Caesar was elected dictator for life by the Senate, he made Lepidus magister equitum for the second time. The brief alliance in power of Caesar and Lepidus came to a sudden end when Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44. Caesar had dined at Lepidus' house the night before his murder.
One of the ringleaders of the conspiracy, Gaius Cassius Longinus, had argued for the killing of Lepidus and Mark Antony as well, but Marcus Junius Brutus had overruled him, saying the action was an execution and not a political coup. As soon as Lepidus learned of Caesar's murder, he acted decisively to maintain order by moving troops to the Campus Martius, he proposed using his army to punish Caesar's killers, but was dissuaded by Antony and Aulus Hirtius. Lepidus and Antony both spoke in the Senate the following day, accepting an amnesty for the assassins in return for preservation of their offices and Caesar's reforms. Lepidus obtained the post of Pontifex Maximus. At this point Pompey's surviving son Sextus Pompey tried to take advantage of the turmoil to threaten Spain. Lepidus was sent to negotiate with him. Lepidus negotiated an agreement with Sextus that maintained the peace; the senate voted him a public thanksgiving festival. Lepidus thereafter administered both Narbonese Gaul; when Antony attempted to take control of Cisalpine Gaul by force and displace Decimus Brutus, the Senate, led by Cicero, called on Lepidus to support Brutus – one of Caesar's killers.
Lepidus prevaricated. After Antony's defeat at the Battle of Mutina, the Senate sent word that Lepidus' troops were no longer needed. Antony, marched towards Lepidus's province with his remaining forces. Lepidus engaged in negotiations with Antony; when the two armies met, large portions of Lepidus's forces joined up with Antony. Lepidus negotiated an agreement with him, while claiming to the Senate, it is unclear whether Lepidus' troops forced him to join with Antony, whether, always Lepidus's plan, or whether he arranged matters to gauge the situation and make the best deal. Antony and Lepidus now had to deal with Octavian Caesar, Caesar's great-nephew and, adopted by Caesar in Caesar's will. Octavian was the only surviving commander of the forces; the Senate instructed Octavian to hand over control of the troops to Decimus Brutus. Antony and Lepidus met with Octavian on an island in a river near Mutina but more near Bologna, their armies lined along opposite banks, they formed the Second Triumvirate, legalized with the name of Triumvirs for Confirming the Republic with Consular Power by the Lex T
Secessio plebis was an informal exercise of power by Rome's plebeian citizens, similar to a general strike taken to the extreme. During a secessio plebis, the plebs would abandon the city en masse and leave the patrician order to themselves. Therefore, a secessio meant that all shops and workshops would shut down and commercial transactions would cease; this was an effective strategy in the Conflict of the Orders due to strength in numbers. Authors report different numbers for. Cary & Scullard state there were five between 494 BC and 287 BC. Beginning in 495 BC, culminating in 494–493 BC, as a result of concerns about debt and the failure of the senate to provide for plebeian welfare, the plebeians on the advice of Lucius Sicinius Vellutus seceded to the Mons Sacer; as part of a negotiated resolution, the patricians freed some of the plebs from their debts and conceded some of their power by creating the office of the Tribune of the Plebs. This office was the first government position held by the plebs, since at this time the office of consul was held by patricians solely.
Plebeian Tribunes were made sacrosanct during their period in office. The Second Secessio Plebis of 449 BC was caused by the abuses of a commission of the decemviri and involved demands for the restoration of the plebeian tribunes and of the right to appeal, suspended. In 450 BC Rome decided to appoint the commission of the decemviri, tasked with compiling a law code; the commission was given a term of one year. The decemviri were exempted from appeal. In 450 BC they issued a set of laws, but became abusive, they killed a soldier, a plebeian tribune and who criticised them. One of the decemviri, Appius Claudius Crassus, tried to force Verginia, to marry him. To prevent this, her father cursed Appius Claudius Crassus; this sparked riots which started with the crowd which witnessed the incident and spread to the army, encamped outside the city. The people went to the Aventine Hill; the senate tried to get the decemviri to resign. The people decided to withdraw en masse to Mons Sacer like in the first secession.
The senate managed to force them to resign. It sent two senators, Lucius Valerus Potitus and Marcus Horatius Barbatus, to Mons Sacer to negotiate; the people demanded the restoration of the plebeian tribunes and the right to appeal, suspended during the term of the decemviri. This was agreed and they returned to the Aventine Hill and elected their tribunes. Lucius Valerius Potitus and Marcus Horatius Barbatus became the consuls for 449 BC, they introduced new laws. The lex Valeria Horatia de plebiscìtis provided that the laws passed by the Plebeian Council were binding of all Roman citizens despite patrician opposition to laws passed by this assembly being binding on them. However, after being passed, these laws had to receive the approval of the senate; this meant. Lex Valeria Horatia de senatus consulta ordered that the senatus consulta had to be kept in the temple of Ceres by the plebeian aediles, the assistants of the plebeian tribunes; this meant that the plebeian aediles had knowledge of these decrees.
This put them in the public domain. The consuls had been in the habit of suppressing or altering them; the lex Valeria Horatia de provocatio forbade the creation of offices of state which were not subject to appeal. The third secession is alluded to by Florus; this fourth secession is noted by Livy. The Oxford Classical Dictionary calls this an "obscure military revolt". In 287 BC, the plebs seceded a final time to the Janiculum to force the patricians to adopt the Lex Hortensia, which gave plebiscites the force of law
Theatre of Pompey
The Theatre of Pompey was a structure in Ancient Rome built during the latter part of the Roman Republican era by Pompey the Great. Completed in 55 BC, it was the first permanent theatre to be built in Rome. Enclosed by the large columned porticos was an expansive garden complex of fountains and statues. Along the stretch of the covered arcade were rooms dedicated to the exposition of art and other works collected by Pompey during his campaigns. On the opposite end of the garden complex was a curia for political meetings; the senate would use this building along with a number of temples and halls that satisfied the requirements for their formal meetings. The curia is infamous as the place where Julius Caesar was murdered by Brutus and Cassius during a session of the Senate. Pompey paid for this theatre to gain political popularity during his second consulship; the theatre was inspired by Pompey's visit in 62 BC to a Greek theatre in Mytilene. Construction began around 61 BC. Prior to its construction, permanent stone theatres had been forbidden, so to side-step this issue, Pompey had the structure built in the Campus Martius, outside of the pomerium, or sacred boundary, that divided the city from the ager Romanus.
Pompey had a temple to Venus Victrix built near the top of the theatre's seating. The sources on the dedication are contradictory. Pliny reports its dedication in 55 BC, the year of Pompey's second consulship. However, Gellius preserves a letter by Cicero's freedmen, Tiro that dates the dedication to 52 BC. Two performances are associated with the dedication: Clytemnestra by Accius, Equos Troianus either by Livius Andronicus or Gnaeus Naevius. Clodius Aesopus, a renowned tragic actor, was brought out of retirement in order to act in the theatre's opening show; the show was accompanied by gladiatorial matches featuring exotic animals. For forty years, the theatre was the only permanent theatre located in Rome, until Lucius Cornelius Balbus the Younger constructed one in 13 BC in the Campus Martius. Regardless, the Theatre of Pompey continued to be the main location for plays, both due to its splendor and its dealing size. In fact, the site was considered the premiere theatre throughout its entire life.
Seeking association with the great theatre, others constructed their own in and around the area of Pompey's. This led in the most literal sense. Following Pompey's defeat and subsequent assassination in 48BC during the Great Roman Civil War, Caesar used the theatre to celebrate the triumph over Pompey's forces in Africa; the Theatre was the site of Caesar's assassination as it was the temporary meeting location of the Roman Senate. The porticos and theatre were maintained for centuries. Octavian restored parts of the complex in 32 BC, in AD 21 Tiberius initiated a reconstruction of the part of the theatre, destroyed by fire, completed during the reign of Caligula. Claudius rededicated the Temple of Venus Victrix. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476, the Theatre of Pompey remained in use and when the city of Rome came under the dominion of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, the structure was once again renovated between AD 507–511. However, this renovation would be its last. Following the destructive Gothic War there was no need for a large theatre because the population of Rome had declined drastically.
As such, the theatre was allowed to deteriorate. During the Early Middle Ages, The marble covering of the theatre was used as a material to maintain other buildings. Being located near the Tiber, the building was regularly flooded which caused further damage; the concrete core of the building remained standing in the 9th century AD, as a pilgrim guidebook from that time still listed the site as a theatrum. By the 12th century, buildings had started to encroach upon the remains. However, the floor plan of the old theatre was still recognizable. In 1140, one source referred to the ruins as the Theatrum Pompeium, whereas another referred to it as the "temple of Cneus pompeii". In 1150, Johannes de Ceca is reputed to have sold a trillium, or round structure to an ancestor of the Orsini family. In 1296, the site of the theatre was turned into a fortress by the Orsini. In the Middle Ages the square of Campo de' Fiori was built and the remaining parts of the theatre were quarried to supply stone for many newer buildings which still exist in modern Rome.
Today, not much remains visible of the once majestic theatre, as the vestiges of the structure have been enveloped by the structures that lie between the Campo de' Fiori and Largo di Torre Argentina. The largest intact sections of the theatre are found in the Palazzo della Cancelleria, which used much of the bone-colored travertine for its exterior from the theatre; the large red and grey columns used in its courtyard are from the porticoes of the theatre's upper covered seating. And while the theatre itself is no longer discernible, the imprint of the building itself can still be detected.
The Curia Julia is the third named Curia, or Senate House, in the ancient city of Rome. It was built in 44 BC, when Julius Caesar replaced Faustus Cornelius Sulla's reconstructed Curia Cornelia, which itself had replaced the Curia Hostilia. Caesar did so to redesign both spaces within the Roman Forum; the alterations within the Comitium reduced the prominence of the Senate and cleared the original space. The work, was interrupted by Caesar's assassination at the Theatre of Pompey, where the Senate had been meeting temporarily while the work was completed; the project was finished by Caesar's successor, Augustus Caesar, in 29 BC. The Curia Julia is one of a handful of Roman structures that survive intact; this is due to its conversion into the basilica of Sant'Adriano al Foro in the 7th century and several restorations. However, the roof, the upper elevations of the side walls and the rear façade are modern and date from the remodeling of the deconsecrated church, in the 1930s. There were many curiae during the history of the Roman civilization, many of them existing at the same time.
Curia means "meeting house". While the senate met at the curia within the comitium space, there were many other structures designed for it to meet when the need occurred: for example, meeting with someone, not allowed to enter the sanctified curias of the Senate; the Curia Julia is the third named curia within the comitium. Each structure was rebuilt a number of times but originated from a single Etruscan temple, built to honor the truce of the Sabine conflict; when this original temple was destroyed, Tullus Hostilius gave it his name. It lasted for a few hundred years until fire again destroyed the curia, the new structure was dedicated to its financial benefactor, Cornelius Sulla. In fact, the structure now in the forum is the second incarnation of Caesar's curia. From 81 to 96, the Curia Julia was restored under Domitian. In 283, it was damaged by a fire, at the time of Emperor Carinus. From 284 to 305, the Curia was rebuilt by Diocletian, it is the remnants of Diocletian's building. In 412, the Curia was restored again, this time by Urban Prefect Annius Eucharius Epiphanius.
On July 10, 1923, the Italian government acquired the Curia Julia and the adjacent convent of the Church of S. Adriano from the Collegio di Spagna for 16,000 lire; the exterior of the Curia Julia features brick-faced concrete with a huge buttress at each angle. The lower part of the front wall was decorated with slabs of marble; the upper part was covered with stucco imitation of white marble blocks. A single flight of steps leads up to the bronze doors; the current bronze doors are modern replicas. A coin was found within the doors during their transfer; that allowed archaeologists to date repairs made to the Senate House and the addition of the bronze doors to the reign of Emperor Domitian. The original appearance of the Senate House is known from an Emperor Augustus denarius of 28 BC, which shows the veranda held up by columns on the front wall of the building; the interior of the Curia Julia is austere. The hall is 25.20 m long by 17.61 m wide. There are three broad steps that could have fitted five rows of chairs or a total of about 300 senators.
The walls are stripped but were veneered in marble two thirds of the way up. The two main features of the interior of the Curia Julia are its Altar of Victory and its striking floor. At the far end of the hall could be found the "Altar of Victory", it consisted of a statue of Victoria, the personification of victory, standing on a globe, extending a wreath. The altar was placed in the Curia by Augustus to celebrate Rome's military prowess, more his own victory at the Battle of Actium, in 31 BC; the altar was removed in the 5th century in 408 AD, as part of a general backlash against the pagan traditions of Ancient Rome. The other main feature of the Curia's interior, the floor, is in contrast to the building's colorless exterior. Featured on the floor is the Roman art technique of opus sectile in which materials are cut and inlaid into walls and floors to make pictures of patterns; that is described by Claridge as " stylized rosettes in squares alternate with opposed pairs of entwined cornucopias in rectangles, all worked in green and red porphyry on backgrounds of Numidian yellow Phrygian purple".
In his Res Gestae Divi Augusti, Augustus writes of the project: "I built the Senate House... with the power of the state in my hands by universal consent, I extinguished the flames of civil wars, relinquished my control, transferring the Republic back to the authority of the Senate and the Roman people. For this service I was named Augustus by a decree of the Senate". In fact, the relinquishment of power was truer in word than in deed. In the past, the Curia Hostilia and Comitium "were oriented by the cardinal points of the compass, which may have marked them out as specially augurated space and at any rate set them off obliquely from the Forum rectangle that formed over the centuries". Breaking with tradition, the Curia Julia was reoriented by Julius Caesar "on more'rational' lines, squaring it up with the rectangular lines of the Forum and more with his new forum, to which the new Senate House formed an architectural appendage more in keeping with the Senate's increasing subordination"; the reduced power of the Roman Senate during the Imperial Period is reflected by the Curia Julia's less prominent location and orientation.
Still, the two buildings had simil
The First Triumvirate was an informal alliance between three prominent Roman politicians: Julius Caesar and Crassus, at the end of the Roman Republic. The constitution of the Roman Republic was a complex set of checks and balances designed to prevent a man from rising above the rest and creating a monarchy. In order to bypass these constitutional obstacles, Caesar and Crassus forged a secret alliance in which they promised to use their respective influence to help each other. According to Goldsworthy, the alliance was "not at heart a union of those with the same political ideals and ambitions", but one where "all seeking personal advantage." As the nephew of Gaius Marius, Caesar was at the time well connected with the Populares faction, which pushed for social reforms. He was moreover Pontifex Maximus—the most important priest of the Roman religion—and could influence politics, notably through the interpretation of the auspices. Pompey was recognised as the greatest military leader of the time, having notably won the wars against Sertorius, Mithridates and the Cilician Pirates.
Crassus was known for his fabulous wealth. Both Pompey and Crassus had extensive patronage networks; the alliance was cemented with the mariage of Pompey with Caesar's daughter Julia in 59 BC. Thanks to this alliance, Caesar thus received an extraordinary command over Gaul and Illyria for five years, so he could start his conquest of Gaul. In 56 BC the Triumvirate was renewed at the Lucca conference, in which the triumvirs agreed to share the Roman provinces between them; the latter embarked into an expedition against the Parthians to match Caesar's victories in Gaul, but died in the disastrous defeat of Carrhae in 53 BC. The death of Crassus ended the Triumvirate, left Caesar and Pompey facing each other. Pompey sided with the Optimates, the conservative faction opposed to the Populares—supported by Caesar—and fought Caesar in the senate. In 49 BC, once the conquest of Gaul complete, Caesar refused to release his legions and instead invaded Italy from the north by crossing the Rubicon with his army.
The following civil war led to Caesar's victory over Pompey at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC and the latter's assassination in Ptolemaic Egypt where he fled after the battle. In 44 BC Caesar was assassinated in Rome and the following year his heir Octavian formed the Second Triumvirate with Marcus Antonius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. In the background of the formation of this alliance were the frictions between two political factions of the Late Republic, the populares and optimates; the former drew support from the plebeians. They espoused policies addressing the problems of the urban poor and promoted reforms that would help them redistribution of land for the landless poor and farm and debt relief, it challenged the power the nobiles exerted over Roman politics through the senate, the body that represented its interests. The Optimates were an anti-reform conservative faction that favoured the nobles, wanted to limit the power of the plebeian tribunes and the Plebeian Council and strengthen the power of the senate.
Julius Caesar was a leading figure of the populares. The origin of the process that led to Caesar seeking the alliance with Pompey and Crassus traces back to the Second Catilinarian conspiracy, which occurred three years earlier in 63 BC when Marcus Tullius Cicero was one of the two consuls. In 66 BC Catiline, the leader of the plot, presented his candidacy for the consulship, but he was charged with extortion and his candidacy was disallowed because he announced it too late. In 65 BC he was brought to trial along with other men who had carried out killings during the proscriptions of Lucius Cornelius Sulla when the dictator had declared many of his political opponents enemies of the state, he received the support of many prominent men and he was acquitted through bribery. In 63 BC Catiline was a candidate for the consulship again, he presented himself as the champion of debtors. Catiline was defeated again and Marcus Tullius Cicero and Gaius Antonius Hybrida were elected, he plotted a coup d'état together with a group of fellow aristocrats and disaffected veterans as a means of preserving his dignitas.
One of the conspirators, Gaius Manlius, assembled an army in Etruria and civil unrest was prepared in various parts of Italy. Catiline was to lead the conspiracy in Rome, which would have involved arson and the murder of senators, he was to join Manlius in a march on Rome. The plot was to start with the murder of Cicero. Cicero discovered this, exposed the conspiracy, produced evidence for the arrest of five conspirators, he had them executed without trial with the backing of a final decree of the Senate – a decree the senate issued at times of emergency. This was done. Julius Caesar opposed this measure; when Catiline heard of this he led his forces in Pistoria with the intention of escaping to northern Italy. He was defeated; the summary executions were an expedient to discourage further violence. However, this measure, an unprecedented assertion of senatorial power over the life and death of Roman citizens, backfired for the optimates, it was seen by some as a violation of the rig