Pompey’s Fight Against Piracy

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Did Pompey or Caesar do more of importance to fight piracy in the Roman Mediterranean? Consider piracy as an actual threat to shipping, as a source for propaganda, and as a basis for establishing and maintaining power in Rome and in the broader eastern Mediterranean coastal world.

During the final century of the Roman Republic, piracy was a serious threat in the waters known to the Romans as mare nostrum.[1] A young Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompey are two particular figures of the late Republic whose fight against piracy is focused on by the ancient sources early in their public careers. Caesar’s encounter with the pirates is often presented as theatrical anecdote, used to enhance the vital traits, being his speed and ruthlessness, presented of Caesar the general during his propaganda campaign later in his career. Subsequently, his confrontation with the pirates did not impact greatly on the fight against piracy. Comparably, Pompey’s campaign against the pirates was also aimed at gaining prestige in Rome, through his swift securing of the grain supply, in order to enable him to gain command in the war against Mithridates. However, his

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The Assassination of Julius Caesar

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Why was Caesar assassinated? To what degree was his murder his own fault?

Born in 100 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar[1] is one of history’s most prolific conquerors, playing a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire[2]. Born into an ancient patrician family, the gens Iulia, Caesar was successful in both the political and military spheres of Roman life, having achieved great victories in the Gallic Wars and Civil War, and having achieved the office of dictator perpetuo by his death on the Ides of March 44 BC, the result of a conspiracy by a group of Romans, led by Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus, known as ‘the Liberators’[3]. Whilst many ancient and contemporary writers assign the reason for Caesar’s assassination to his display of arrogance and tyrannical nature, it was the manner Continue reading

The Legacy of Titus: ‘amor ac deliciae generis humani’

Ancient literature is generally favourable to the emperor Titus, portraying him as a good ruler, and thus a man of good character. Does his reign deserve to be remembered as a positive one, or does this portrait of the emperor owe much to the fact that he died early in his reign?


Among ancient historians, Titus stands as one of the most exemplary of any emperor. All surviving accounts of this period present a highly favourable view of him, his character preferred in comparison with that of his brother Domitian. His economic and administrative handling of the empire, as well of his generosity are particularly emphasised throughout the works of Josephus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio. However, it is also suggested in the latter’s works that Titus’ reputation ‘may also have been due to the fact that he survived his accession but a very short time, for he was thus given no opportunity for wrongdoing’.[1] This article will argue that, while it is true that his reputation was enhanced by his early death, the sources undeniably show that his reign must be considered a positive one, with no Continue reading

Propaganda on the Legends of Roman Coins

Do the legends on Roman coins add to their propaganda value?

Throughout the late Republic and Empire, the authority and achievements of powerful individuals and the emperor, respectively, were conveyed to the population in a variety of ways. The most widespread of these, being Roman coinage, circulated throughout the provinces of the Empire, serving to familiarise the populaces with influential individuals and emperors of whom they would never see in person. Coinage also served to convey the message of changing policies, merits and achievements throughout the empire. Images upon these coins were of great importance since their development c.300 BC, however it was only in the second century BC that the importance of another feature emerged; the rising significance of the legend, the text that runs around the edge of the coin. Whilst images upon Roman coins were seen to be the source of propaganda[1], the ambiguity of the images became an issue as a greater number of individuals and Continue reading