The ‘Three-Headed Monster’

Edited by Luciano Canfora and Julian Stringer

in Julius Caesar

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780748619368
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670734 | DOI:
The ‘Three-Headed Monster’

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Caesar formed a ‘a conspiracy [conspiratio] with Pompey and Crassus’. The crux of the agreement — a private agreement, but with clearly stated mutual responsibilities, and in this sense a true conspiracy — was described by Suetonius, who plainly had a reliable source: ‘that no step should be taken in public affairs which did not suit any one of the three’. There is no historical source that does not comment critically on this pact. Pollio, who saw in it the origin of the civil war, was broadly in agreement with Velleius, who warmly welcomed the rise of Augustus and was also an admirer of Caesar. Marcus Terentius Varro even wrote a satire about the triumvirate, with the title The Three-Headed Monster. In the judgement of the historians, in what concerns this fundamental turnabout by Caesar, the opinion of the Cato school — one of total rejection and condemnation — has held sway. They had feared the rise of another princeps like Sulla, and all of a sudden they had three.

Keywords: Julius Caesar; Pompey; Crassus; public affairs; Suetonius; Sulla; conspiracy; Pollio; Marcus Terentius Varro; triumvirate

Chapter.  3888 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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