home   :    index    :    ancient Rome    :    Caesar    :    article by Plutarch

Caesar's Last Plans


Bust of Caesar. Antikensammlung, Berlin (Germany). Photo Jona Lendering. During the last year of his life, Julius Caesar prepared several great plans. In fact, it seems as if he was escaping into wild fantasies because he was unable to cope with the political realities. Some plans are described by Plutarch of Chaeronea (46-c.120)  in chapter 59 of his Life of Julius Caesar.

The translation below was made by Robin Seager.

Caesar was born to do great things and to seek constantly for distinction. His many successes, so far from encouraging him to rest and to enjoy the fruits of all his labors, only served to kindle in him fresh confidence for the future, filling his mind with projects of still greater actions and with a passion for new glory, as though he had run through his stock of the old. His feelings can best be described by saying that he was competing with himself, as though he were someone else, and was struggling to make the future excel the past.

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Bust of Julius Caesar. Musei Vaticani, Roma (Italy). Photo Jona Lendering.
Julius Caesar
(Musei Vaticani, Rome)

He had made his plans and preparations for an expedition against the Parthians; after conquering them he proposed to march round the Black Sea by way of Hyrcania, the Caspian Sea, and the Caucasus; he would then invade Scythia, would overrun all the countries bordering on Germania and Germania itself, and would then return to Italy by way of Gaul, thus completing the circuit of his empire which would be bounded on all sides by the ocean.

While this expedition was going on he proposed to dig a canal through the isthmus of Corinth, and had already put Anienus in charge of this undertaking. He also planned to divert the Tiber just below the city into a deep channel, which would bend round towards Circeii and come out into the sea at Terracina, so that there would be a safe and easy passage for merchantmen to Rome [1]. Then too he proposed to drain the marshes by Pometia and Setia [2] and to create a plain which could be cultivated by many thousands of men. He also intended to build great breakwaters along the coast where the sea is nearest to Rome, to clear away all the obstructions which were a danger to shipping at Ostia, and to construct harbors and roadsteads big enough for the great fleets which would lie at anchor there [3].

 




Notes

[1]
Circeii and Terracina were towns in southern Latium. Terracina is some 90 kilometers away from along the Via Appia.

[2]
The malaria-invested marshy plains of southern Latium were notorious. Several emperors and popes have tried to improve conditions. It was left to Mussolini to execute Caesar's plan.

[3]
Ostia ('mouth') was the port at the mouth of the Tiber.





 home   :    index    :    ancient Rome    :    Caesar