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Contribution to Book
The Blackwell dictionary of modern social thought
  • William Peter BAEHR, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Document Type
Dictionary entry
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Blackwell Publishers

A term denoting a form of dictatorship loosely modelled on the career of Julius Caesar (100–44 bc), the populist general and autocrat who seized power from the Roman senatorial oligarchy in 49 bc, and whose regime accelerated the collapse of the Roman Republic. However, this definition requires immediate qualification. For not only has the term been employed to include figures who predate Julius – like the Athenians Pisistratus (c.600–527 bc) and Pericles (c.495–429 bc) and the Spartan Cleomenes III (c.260–219 bc) (Neumann, 1957, pp. 237–8; Weber, 1921–2); it is also the case that Augustus Caesar (63 bc to ad 14), not Julius, has sometimes been credited as the exemplar of Caesarism (Riencourt, 1958). Moreover, though many twentieth-century usages seek analogy with ancient Rome, others do not, so that today Caesarism is a concept in the utmost confusion.

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Copyright ©2003 Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

Additional Information
ISBN of the source publication: 9780631221647
Citation Information
Baehr, P. (2003). Caesarism. In W. Outhwaite (Ed.), The Blackwell dictionary of modern social thought (2nd ed.) (pp. 60-61). United States: Blackwell Publishers.