Caesar and the Triumvirate

Historically, political leaders had to unite in order to keep their political power stable. The First Triumvirate of Gaius Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus was not an officially documented alliance but rather an informal agreement between the three persons. Their goal was to establish their rule in the state after the Roman Republic failed to be effective for a long time.

The First Triumvirate was announced in 60 BC with the purpose of uniting the influence and resource of the three mentioned leaders. Julius Caesar was the main organizer of the union, as it is known to be his initiative. This fact is remarkable because Caesar did not have immediate necessity to capture power as he had just got an official state position of a consul. However, having a relatively small but stable position did not look so alluring as having absolute power, though it was related to risk. It is even more remarkable that Caesar decided to create an alliance with Crassus and Pompey, because they were nearly enemies. However, he was a pragmatic politician and believed that the feud can be stopped if a significant goal united them.


When he did not receive support from senators, Caesar found an alley in Pompey, who was also displeased with senators’ attitude. Thus, they diminished the role which he played during a war in Asia by cancelling his earlier orders. However, the alliance between Pompey and Caesar could not be very successful, because they would have a powerful Crassus against them. Being a smart politician and negotiator, Caesar managed to persuade Crassus and Pompey to end their feud in reconciliation. His argument was that their struggle with each other would weaken them but made the senators stronger.

Thus, due to the support of his allies, Caesar was elected as consul. Crassus was the wealthiest citizen in Rome, so he could help with financing. Pompey was a famous military official, so he could be useful when armed support was needed. Caesar, in his turn, was a skillful politician, so creating a union like this was quite reasonable. In fact, the year 59 BC when Caesar was elected a consul, was the beginning of his absolute power. Though formally it might look differently, in fact it happened to be so, especially taking into account the fact that he stopped gathering Senate at all. In his position, Caesar took decisions in favor of Pompey, recovering the previously taken ones to cancel his orders in Asia. He took a law to divide some lands in Rome between the poor citizens, without even offering the second consul to share decision making process with him. Caton, who was in opposition, was sent to prison. However, Caesar decided to free him later. It is also believed that politically Caesar was not yet influential, so this is why he created most of his radical laws in Pompey’s interest. However, he managed to prolong his consulship for five more years and to obtain rule over three more lands. The year 53 BC, when Crassus was killed in a war, is the time when the Triumvirate stopped its existence.

Thus, the Triumvirate had a certain political power that alliance brought to its members. However, because of personal ambitions none of them could ensure it lasted for a long time. This was an interesting political experience, though, which was later useful in the creation of the Second Triumvirate. Besides, it was a prolific experience for Caesar who was becoming more efficient and powerful as a politician.