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Caesar’s unrealized plans

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Bust of Gaius Julius Caesar
Bust of Gaius Julius Caesar

Many historians consider the murder of Julius Caesar to be one of the most important turning points in the history of civilization. Some go further and ask what would have happened to Rome without the murder, or what would have happened if Caesar had survived. Thanks to the preserved texts from that time, we have some insight into Caesar’s plans, which were ultimately never realized.

As Cassius Dio wrote in his “Roman History” (Book 44), after defeating his opponents, Caesar planned an expedition against the Parthians, which was thwarted by his assassination (according to Bivar he was to march through Armenia Minor). We learn further details thanks to Plutarch, who adds that the return route was planned through the territories of Hyrcania and the Caucasus, then around the Black Sea (then called the Guest Sea) in order to invade Scythia. Eventually, Caesar was also to invade the border with Germania to return to Rome through his conquered Gaul.

Caesar’s plans were not limited to military operations only. Among his many engineering projects, you can find ideas such as tunneling through Corinth, draining the marshes of southern Latium (which was finally made by Mussolini more than two thousand years later) or creating large breakwaters near Ostia to ensure safe and efficient navigation at the mouth of the Tiber.

Were Caesar’s 55-year-old plans really that ambitious, or did ancient historians go overboard with their descriptions? In spite of his great military achievements, did he have a chance to conquer the Party, an enemy whom Rome never really defeated before or after (despite some successes)? Contemporary historians still ask such questions. However, even in the time before Caesar, some claimed that they knew the answer to some of them – according to the Sibylline Books, Roman troops had a chance to conquer Parthia only led by the king…

Author: Jakub Ernt (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)
Sources
  • Bivar H.D.H, The Political History of Iran under the Arsacids, 1968
  • Kasjusz Dion, Historia rzymska
  • William C. McDermott, Caesar's Projected Dacian-Parthian Expedition, Ancient Society Vol. 13/14 (1982/1983), pp. 223-231
  • Plutarch, Żywoty

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