A report on Roman dictator

Depiction of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus. Fabius was dictator in 217 BC.
Head presumed to be that of Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Sulla was dictator from 82–79 BC.
Depiction of the Assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (mid 19th century).

Extraordinary magistrate in the Roman Republic endowed with full authority to resolve some specific problem to which he had been assigned.

- Roman dictator
Depiction of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus. Fabius was dictator in 217 BC.

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John Trumbull, The Death of Paulus Aemilius at the Battle of Cannae (1773)

Battle of Cannae

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Key engagement of the Second Punic War between the Roman Republic and Carthage, fought on 2 August 216 BC near the ancient village of Cannae in Apulia, southeast Italy.

Key engagement of the Second Punic War between the Roman Republic and Carthage, fought on 2 August 216 BC near the ancient village of Cannae in Apulia, southeast Italy.

John Trumbull, The Death of Paulus Aemilius at the Battle of Cannae (1773)
John Trumbull, The Death of Paulus Aemilius at the Battle of Cannae (1773)
Hannibal's route of invasion
Battles of Trebia, Lake Trasimene and Cannae, anticlockwise, from top
A modern monument near the site of the Battle of Cannae
Modern interpretation of a slinger from the Balearic Islands (famous for the skill of their slingers)
Initial deployment and Roman attack (in red)
Destruction of the Roman army
Philip V of Macedon pledged his support to Hannibal following the Carthaginian victory.
Hannibal counting the signet rings of the Roman knights killed during the battle, statue by Sébastien Slodtz, 1704, Louvre
Shield of Henry II of France depicting Hannibal's victory at Cannae, an allusion to France's conflict with the Holy Roman Empire during the 16th century.
Medieval representation of the battle of Cannae

After these losses, the Romans appointed Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus as dictator to deal with the threat.

Ruins of the aedes of Vesta

Glossary of ancient Roman religion

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Highly specialized.

Highly specialized.

Ruins of the aedes of Vesta
Altar (ara) from Roman Spain
Augustus, capite velato
Page listing imperial natales by month from the 17th-century Codex Vaticanus Barberini latinus, based on the Calendar of Filocalus (354 AD)
Etruscan liver of Piacenza
Relief (1st century AD) depicting the Palladium atop a column entwined by a snake, to which Victory presents an egg as a warrior attends in a pose of peace
The Fasti Antiates Maiores, a pre-Julian calendar in a reconstructed drawing
Flamen wearing the distinctive hat of his office, with the top point missing (3rd century AD)
Ritual implements
Libatio depicted on a drawing of a coin
Lituus and jug on the reverse of a coin
Zeus (Etruscan Tinia, Roman Jupiter) holding a three-pronged lightning bolt, between Apollo and Hera/Juno (red-figure calyx-krater from Etruria, 420-400 BC)
Emmer wheat, used for mola salsa
Mars wearing the paludamentum
Attendant at a sacrifice with ax
Dedication from Roman Britain announcing that a local official has restored a locus religiosus
Marcus Aurelius capite velato carries out a sacrifice. By his left side is a flamen wearing an apex. The victima is the bull, who will be struck by the popa to the right. The music of the aulos was to drive off inauspicious noise. The setting is the Temple of Capitoline Jupiter.
Duenos inscription
Victims for the suovetaurilia led to the altar by victimarii, one of whom carries an implement for striking

The importance of this ritual is lost in obscurity, but in the early Republic it is associated with the appointment of a dictator clavi figendi causa, "dictator for the purpose of driving the nail," one of whom was appointed for the years 363, 331, 313, and 263 BC. Livy attributes this practice to religio, religious scruple or obligation.

Titus Larcius

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Titus Larcius (surnamed Flavus or Rufus; 501–493 BC) was a Roman general and statesman during the early Republic, who served twice as consul and became the first Roman dictator.

Bust of Crassus, in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

Marcus Licinius Crassus

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Roman general and statesman who played a key role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

Roman general and statesman who played a key role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

Bust of Crassus, in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
Bust of Crassus, in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
A Roman marble head of the triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus, mid-1st century BC, Grand Palais, Paris
A Roman bust of Pompey the Great made during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), a copy of an original bust from 70 to 60 BC, Venice National Archaeological Museum, Italy
From left to right: Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Pompey the Great
Denarius minted by Publius Licinius Crassus, son of the triumvir Marcus, as monetalis in 55 BC; on the obverse is a laureate bust of Venus, perhaps in honor of his commanding officer Julius Caesar; on the reverse is an unidentified female figure, perhaps representing Gaul
"The torture of Crassus," 1530s, Louvre

Following Sulla's assumption of the dictatorship, Crassus amassed an enormous fortune through real estate speculation.

Flavian-era bust of Antony

Mark Antony

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Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic from a constitutional republic into the autocratic Roman Empire.

Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic from a constitutional republic into the autocratic Roman Empire.

Flavian-era bust of Antony
Flavian-era bust of Antony
Antony's brother Lucius, on a coin issued at Ephesus during his consulship in 41 BC
Hellenistic bust of Pharaoh Ptolemy XII Auletes.
The ancient Mediterranean in 50 BC at the end of Caesar's Gallic Wars, with the territory of Rome in yellow.
Cato the Younger, a member of the Optimates faction, was one of the chief architects of the decree which provoked Caesar into civil war.
The Battle of Pharsalus: the decisive battle of Caesar's Civil War. Antony commanded the left wing of Caesar's army.
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The Death of Julius Caesar, as depicted by Vincenzo Camuccini. Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March (15 March) 44 BC.
"Marc Antony's Oration at Caesar's Funeral" as depicted by George Edward Robertson
Octavian, Julius Caesar's adopted son. Antony would struggle with Octavian for leadership of the Caesarian party following Caesar's assassination.
A denarius of Marcus Antonius struck in 42 BC
Denarius struck at Ephesus in 41 B.C. commemorating the Second Triumvirate. One on side is Octavian, later Caesar Augustus, and on the other is Antony
The vengeance of Fulvia by Francisco Maura Y Montaner, 1888, depicting Fulvia, Antony's wife, inspecting the severed head of Cicero
First Battle of Philippi – 3 October 42 BC
Second Battle of Philippi – 23 October 42 BC
Antony and Cleopatra (1883) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema depicting Antony's meeting with Cleopatra in 41 BC.
A map of the Parthian Empire. Parthia shared its western border along the Euphrates River with Rome.
Roman aureus bearing the portraits of Marcus Antonius (left) and Octavianus (right), issued in 41 BC to celebrate the establishment of the Second Triumvirate by Octavianus, Antonius and Marcus Lepidus in 43 BC.
A denarius of both Octavianus and Marcus Antonius struck in 41 BC
Antony and Octavia on the obverse of a tetradrachm issued at Ephesus in 39 BC. Antony and his brother-in-law, Octavian, enacted a new treaty that year which redivided control over the Roman world.
A Roman bust of Mark Antony, late 1st century AD, Vatican Museums
A late Ptolemaic or Roman sculpted head of an Alexandrian nobleman, perhaps a depiction of Mark Antony, Brooklyn Museum
A map of the Donations of Alexandria (by Mark Antony to Cleopatra and her children) in 34 BC.
The Battle of Actium (1672) by Laureys a Castro (National Maritime Museum, London)
This mid-1st-century-BC Roman wall painting in Pompeii, Italy, showing Venus holding a cupid is most likely a depiction of Cleopatra VII of Ptolemaic Egypt as Venus Genetrix, with her son Caesarion as the cupid, similar in appearance to the now lost statue of Cleopatra erected by Julius Caesar in the Temple of Venus Genetrix (within the Forum of Caesar). The owner of the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus at Pompeii walled off the room with this painting, most likely in immediate reaction to the execution of Caesarion on orders of Augustus in 30 BC, when artistic depictions of Caesarion would have been considered a sensitive issue for the ruling regime.
Fragmentary portrait bust from Smyrna thought to depict Octavia, sister of Octavian and Antony's wife
A tetradrachm of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra VII of Ptolemaic Egypt
Antony (George Coulouris) addresses the crowd in the Mercury Theatre production of Caesar (1937), Orson Welles's modern-dress adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy
Map of the Roman Republic in 43 BC after the establishment of the Second Triumvirate: 
AntonyLepidusOctavianTriumvirs collectively
Sextus PompeyThe LiberatorsRome's client kingdomsPtolemaic Egypt
Map of the Roman Republic in 42 BC after the Battle of Philippi: 
AntonyLepidusOctavianTriumvirs collectively
Sextus PompeyParthian EmpireRome's client kingdomsPtolemaic Egypt
Map of the Roman Republic in 39 BC after the Treaty of Brundisium and the Treaty of Misenum: 
AntonyLepidusOctavianTriumvirs collectively
Sextus PompeyParthian EmpireRome's client kingdomsPtolemaic Egypt

Fearing the persecutions of Lucius Cornelius Sulla only thirty years earlier, they avoided granting Pompey the dictatorship by instead naming him sole consul for the year, giving him extraordinary but limited powers.

The western Mediterranean in 218 BC

Second Punic War

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The second of three wars fought between Carthage and Rome, the two main powers of the western Mediterranean in the 3rd century BC. For 17 years the two states struggled for supremacy, primarily in Italy and Iberia, but also on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia and, towards the end of the war, in North Africa.

The second of three wars fought between Carthage and Rome, the two main powers of the western Mediterranean in the 3rd century BC. For 17 years the two states struggled for supremacy, primarily in Italy and Iberia, but also on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia and, towards the end of the war, in North Africa.

The western Mediterranean in 218 BC
The western Mediterranean in 218 BC

Quintus Fabius Maximus was elected dictator by the Roman Assembly and adopted the "Fabian strategy" of avoiding pitched battles, relying instead on low-level harassment to wear the invader down, until Rome could rebuild its military strength.

A 1792 depiction of the death of Gaius Gracchus, who was driven to suicide after the passage against him of the first senatus consultum ultimum in 121 BC.

Senatus consultum ultimum

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Modern term given to resolutions of the Roman senate lending its moral support for magistrates to use the full extent of their powers and ignore the laws to safeguard the state.

Modern term given to resolutions of the Roman senate lending its moral support for magistrates to use the full extent of their powers and ignore the laws to safeguard the state.

A 1792 depiction of the death of Gaius Gracchus, who was driven to suicide after the passage against him of the first senatus consultum ultimum in 121 BC.
An 1889 depiction of Cicero denouncing Catiline in the senate. In the First Catilinarian, Cicero references a senatus consultum ultimum – "we have a resolution of the senate, a formidable and authoritative decree against you" – empowering him to take action against Catiline's conspiracy.
A senatus consultum ultimum was decreed against Octavian, pictured in a later bust, which became unenforceable when the senate's forces defected to Octavian's side.

Its usage in the late republic also was in contrast to the general practice of the early republic to appoint dictators to resolve domestic unrest.

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Sulla's civil war

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Fought between the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla and his opponents, the Cinna-Marius faction , in the years 83–81 BC. The war ended with a decisive battle just outside Rome itself.

Fought between the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla and his opponents, the Cinna-Marius faction , in the years 83–81 BC. The war ended with a decisive battle just outside Rome itself.

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After the war the victorious Sulla made himself dictator of the republic.

Map of Rome in the time of Augustus. The pomerium at that time is marked in pink; the Capitoline and Aventine are extra pomerium, "beyond the wall", with their boundaries in yellow.

Pomerium

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Religious boundary around the city of Rome and cities controlled by Rome.

Religious boundary around the city of Rome and cities controlled by Rome.

Map of Rome in the time of Augustus. The pomerium at that time is marked in pink; the Capitoline and Aventine are extra pomerium, "beyond the wall", with their boundaries in yellow.
Inscription marking the Claudian pomerium in via del Pellegrino

The pomerium did not follow the line of the Servian walls, and remained unchanged until the Dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla, in a demonstration of his absolute power, expanded it in 80 BC. Several white marker stones (known as cippi) commissioned by Claudius have been found in situ and several have been found away from their original location.

The Proscribed Royalist, 1651, painted by John Everett Millais c. 1853, in which a Puritan woman hides a fleeing Royalist proscript in the hollow of a tree

Proscription

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Proscription (proscriptio) is, in current usage, a 'decree of condemnation to death or banishment' (Oxford English Dictionary) and can be used in a political context to refer to state-approved murder or banishment.

Proscription (proscriptio) is, in current usage, a 'decree of condemnation to death or banishment' (Oxford English Dictionary) and can be used in a political context to refer to state-approved murder or banishment.

The Proscribed Royalist, 1651, painted by John Everett Millais c. 1853, in which a Puritan woman hides a fleeing Royalist proscript in the hollow of a tree

An early instance of mass proscription took place in 82 BC, when Lucius Cornelius Sulla was appointed dictator rei publicae constituendae ("Dictator for the Reconstitution of the Republic").