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In the early republic, a dictator was usually appointed for a reason such as presiding over an election or defending the city against a foreign invasion.

I remember reading somewhere that Sulla's dictatorship was based on the agreement (which he obviously forced the Senate into) that he would see the Republic and its constitution restored to its proper form.

What was the constitutional basis for Caesar's dictatorship?

  • Caesar was a dictator several times. Do you mean his last time (Dictator Perpetuus)? – Matt Nov 3 '15 at 9:51
  • Yes. I would like to know on what basis was Caesar made dictator first for 10 years and then extended to perpetuity. – BeyondSora Nov 3 '15 at 22:55
  • By this time, the Senate was making it up as they went along. There was no basis for any such thing, the only non-terminating dictatorship was Sulla's, which had no legal basis. – Oldcat Nov 3 '15 at 23:56
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    The Romans didn't have a constitution in our meaning of the word - they had traditions, and a balance of powers, but all parties to their constitutional compact were always looking to tilt the table in their perceived favour. In practice, any action by the Senate that was not vetoed by a Tribune of the Plebs was legal, both de facto and de jure. For this reason it was common practice for all powerful senators to have as many client Tribunes of the Plebs as possible, to ensure that those agents would not veto Senate actions desired by their patron. – Pieter Geerkens Nov 6 '15 at 19:00
  • The Roman Republic is much better modeled by Mario Puzo's depiction of mid-Twentieth century New York City mafia than any comparison to a modern government model. – Pieter Geerkens Nov 6 '15 at 19:04

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