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Beware the Ides

March 15, 2010

While you wait on a more substantive post from me today, I thought I’d wish everyone a happy Ides of March.

Although, I suppose, “Happy” isn’t the appropriate wish for a day like today.  As you may be aware, today is the 2,054th anniversary of the death of Julius Caesar.   Although by many accounts a brutal dictator bent on subverting the Roman Republic, his death nonetheless advanced the decline of the Republic until it became a complete autocracy with a token nod toward democracy in the form of a powerless Senate.

This situation was precipitated by a long period of economic collapse in which the Roman middle class was essentially forced into foreclosure wholesale by declining land prices and the disrepair of their homesteads (in turn caused by a focus by the Roman government on military conquest instead of domestic investment).  This lead to a serious unemployment problem in Rome occurring at the same time as the large land-owning aristocracy grew in wealth (through the acquisition of foreclosed properties).  Over time this economic situation remained unresolved, which lead to a series of political and social crises that ultimately ended when Gaius Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 B.C. and attained complete power over the Plebeian Council and the Roman Senate, effectively making of himself a supreme dictator.  With Caesar’s assassination came not the return of the power of the Senate;  a civil war instead ensued, ending with Caesar’s adopted son (and actual great-nephew) Gaius Octavius assuming the same power and position as was held by Julius, and taking for himself the title “Augustus” or “Exalted One”.  The Roman Republic had ended and the Empire had begun.

Just something to think about, today.  This is the kind of high drama and intrigue that also makes for great stories.  Also something to consider, today.  (Oh wait… someone already wrote that story 😦  Maybe the statue of limitations on Shakespeare’s copyright has expired?)

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