Full Version: Was it Curio\'s idea to cross the Rubicon?
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What role did Curio have in Caesar’s choice to cross the Rubicon?

I ask because Lucan in his Pharsalia says that Curio convinced Caesar to cross the river:

Quote: The hostile Senate, in contempt of right,
Drove out the Tribunes. They to Caesar's camp
With Curio hasten, who of venal tongue,
Bold, prompt, persuasive, had been wont to preach
Of Freedom to the people, and to call
Upon the chiefs to lay their weapons down.
And when he saw how deeply Caesar mused...
... he said... “Strike; for no strength as yet the foe hath gained.
Occasion calls, delay shall mar it”...
So then was Caesar eager for the fight,
Stirred by the words of Curio.

Lucan, Pharsalia, 304-337

Now I’ve never taken Lucan’s Pharsalia as any sort of historical document, but instead just viewed it as poetry of sorts, perhaps of the nationalistic type like the Aeneid.

However, apparently some people at least have taken this as a historic event. I’ve been reading Dante’s Divine Comedy, and good old Virgil and Dante run across Curio in Hell. The commentator explains that Curio is in Hell because he was the one that directly caused the Civil War. He did this by convincing Caesar to cross the Rubicon.

(For those interested, the lines in the Divine Comedy that spurred the commentary are theseSmile

Quote:This outcast quenched the doubt in Caesar’s heart:
‘To men prepared delays are dangerous’;
Thus he gave sign for civil strife to start.”

O how deject to me, how dolorous
Seemed Curio, with his tongue hacked from his throat,
He that of speech was so adventurous!

Dante, Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto XXXVIII 97-102

If anything, I’ve always thought of Curio as an attempted peace-maker prior to the outbreak of war. After all, he was the one who suggested both Caesar and Pompey lay down their commands.

So what exactly was Curio doing when Caesar crossed the Rubicon?
There is a mention of Curio's shifty dealings in Appian (Civil Wars, II). Curio is initially described as 'a bitter enemy of Caesar' when he becomes Tribune of the Plebs, but also 'heavily burdened with debt'. Caesar buys his allegiance, to act as his agent-provocateur in Rome, along with the neutrality of consul Aemilius Paulus. (Appian II.26). By this account, Curio's suggestions that both Caesar and Pompey resign their commands are merely ploys, in Caesar's interest.

Later, after the consuls have panicked and presented the sword to Pompey, Curio travels to Caesar's camp at Ravenna:

Quote:After embracing Curio and returning thanks for what he had done for him, [Caesar] reviewed the situation. Curio advised him to bring his whole army together now and lead it to Rome, but Caesar thought it best still to try to come to terms. So he directed his friends to make an agreement in his behalf, that he should deliver up all his provinces and soldiers, except that he should retain two legions and Illyria with Cisalpine Gaul until he should be elected consul. This was satisfactory to Pompey, but the consuls refused. Caesar then wrote a letter to the Senate, which Curio carried a distance of 1300 stades in three days and delivered to the newly-elected consuls as they entered the senate-house on the first of January.12 The letter embraced a calm recital of all that Caesar had done from the beginning of his career and a proposal that he would lay down his command at the same time with Pompey, but that if Pompey should retain his command he would not lay down his own, but would come quickly and avenge his country's wrongs and his own. When this letter was read, as it was considered a declaration of war, a vehement shout was raised on all sides... (Appian II.32)

The same story appears in Caesar's own Commentaries:

Quote:Curio had made many and energetic struggles, in behalf of the republic and Caesar's cause: at length when he perceived that all his efforts were vain, he fled through fear of his adversaries, and informed Caesar of all the transactions that had taken place, and of the efforts made by his enemies to crush him. Caesar received Curio with great kindness, as he was a man of the highest rank, and had great claims on himself and the republic, and thanked him warmly for his numerous personal favors. But Curio, as war was being openly prepared against Caesar, advised him to concentrate his troops, and rescue the republic now oppressed by a few daring men. Caesar, although he was not ignorant of the real state of affairs, was however of opinion that particular regard should be paid to the tranquillity of the republic, lest any one should suppose that he was the originator of the war.(Caesar, Civil War, I.0)

- Nathan
Aha. Thanks. I didn't think to check Appian, and I didn't notice that passage in Civil Wars.
Quote:So what exactly was Curio doing when Caesar crossed the Rubicon?
Grinning savagely.