C. 100-44 BCE: Julius Caesar


The general and consul Julius Caesar is a controversial character in the history of free speech. When he becomes consul in 59 BCE, he opens the Senatorial protocols for the public. The published acta diurna can be regarded as the first newspaper in history. Instead of silencing his political enemies with force, he generally prefers to fight back with words. Caesar’s polemical response to Cato the Younger, the Anticato, is a brilliant example.


On the other hand, Caesar’s grab for power is one of the main reasons for the fall of the Republic and the loss of liberty. When he names himself ‘dictator indefinitely’ in 44 BCE, Republican senators like Cicero and Cato the Younger view him as a serious threat to Roman liberty.


“War has no use for free speech”
– Caesar, according to Plutarch’s The Life of Julius Caesar 35.7