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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