Chapter Five. The Dictator

  1. Miriam Griffin Emeritus Fellow
  1. Jane F. Gardner Emeritus Professor

Published Online: 5 MAY 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444308440.ch5

A Companion to Julius Caesar

A Companion to Julius Caesar

How to Cite

Gardner, J. F. (2009) The Dictator, in A Companion to Julius Caesar (ed M. Griffin), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444308440.ch5

Editor Information

  1. Somerville College, Oxford, UK

Author Information

  1. School of Humanities, University of Reading, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 MAY 2009
  2. Published Print: 10 APR 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405149235

Online ISBN: 9781444308440



  • the dictator;
  • Caesar's constitutional powers - derived partly from consulship;
  • dictators appointed under the Republic - to meet immediate needs, powers of the office seem never to have been precisely defined in law;
  • the official description was rei gerundae causa (“to take necessary action”);
  • dictator could convene assemblies;
  • Caesar's legislation - Sulla as dictator altered the constitution by measures designed to strengthen authority of Senate;
  • Caesar's imminent departure for the East - possible context for alleged remark about Sulla being a dunce for having abdicated dictatorship;
  • Caesar's office as dictator perpetuus - lapsing with his own lifetime;
  • Caesar probably had in mind - not immediate restoration of the res publica urged by Cicero, but the enforcement of his own laws


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Caesar's Legislation

  • Plans for the Future

  • Further Reading