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Caesar in Andalusia


Bust of Caesar. Antikensammlung, Berlin (Germany). Photo Jona Lendering. In 61/60, Julius Caesar was governor of Andalusia, or Baetica, to use its ancient name. The Greek author Plutarch of Chaeronea describes what happened in chapter 12-13 of his Life of Julius Caesar.

The translation below was made by Robin Seager.

As soon as Caesar reached Hispania he set to work immediately. In a few days he raised ten cohorts in addition to the force of twenty cohorts which was there already. He then marched against the Gallaeci and the Lusitani and, after conquering them, went on as far as the outer sea, subduing the tribes which before then had been independent of Rome.

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Map of Spain in the age of Caesar. Design Jona Lendering.
These military successes of his were followed up by equally good work in civilian administration. He established good relations between the various cities. One of his most notable achievements was to solve the problem of the existing ill-feeling between debtors and creditors. He ordered that the creditor should take two-thirds annually of the debtor's income, and that the owner of the property should retain the use of the rest and so go on in this way until the whole debt was paid off.

By these measures he had acquired a great reputation by the time he left his province. He had become rich himself and he had made his soldiers rich as a result .of his campaigns, and he had been saluted by them as 'Imperator'.

The law was that those who desired the honor of a triumph had to wait outside the city, while candidates for the consulship had to be present in the city in person. Caesar, who arrived at Rome just at the time of the consular elections, was therefore in a dilemma and sent  to the Senate asking permission for his name to be put forward for the consulship by his friends, while he himself remained outside the city. [His opponent] Cato, however, first opposed the request by insisting that it was illegal, and then, when he saw that many senators had been won over by Caesar's attentions, managed to get a vote on the matter put off by wasting time and speaking for the entire day. Caesar then decided to forgo the triumph and to try for the consulship.

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