Julius Caesar – The Greatest Ruler in the history of Rome
Julius Caesar was born in a family of Patricians in the gens of Julli. Patricians were the people that belonged to the category of the original aristocrats of Rome. His father, Gaius Caesar, was a Roman Senator and praetor that governed the province of Asia. His mother, Aurelia, was a commendable woman. She had a high influence on his life. Aurelia had political power through her own family, and she always supported Caesar in his decisions. Both of his parents believed in the ideology of Populare which stood for the rights of socially lower class and a democratized government. In that era, Rome had two ideologies, that were Optimate and Populare. While Populare favored the rights of the lower class, Optimate dominated them and kept themselves on high in the social hierarchy. His parents being supporters of Populare, influenced the thinking of Caesar.
After the age of 16 his life seemed to change drastically. He lost his father at that age and the responsibility of his family was then shifted to his shoulders. He followed the priesthood after the death of his father and became the new High Priest of Jupiter. He married a woman of the high class named Cornelia, and was happy in his married life. They soon had a daughter named Julia. But good days did not last for long, he was soon targeted by the new Roman ruler, Sulla, because of his position and his ideology. So, to protect his family he had to leave the priesthood and run away from Rome. So, he joined the military and started as a soldier. There he realized, that he had the power to rebel within himself, which led him to be extremely effective. During his time in military, he performed heroic acts and proved himself as a useful soldier. He quickly grew popular in the military. After spending some time in the military he came back to Rome, right after the Sulla’s death. In Rome, he pursued studies to become an advocate and targeted the Sullan revolutionaries.
After some time, his interest to master the oratory skills, led him to travel toward Rhodes but, on his way, he was kidnapped by pirates. They kept him for ransom and demanded twenty talents of gold in exchange for his life. He told them that he was worth fifty talents and threatened to take revenge after his release. Pirates made fun of him but eventually, he did hunt them down and killed all of them.
After coming back to Rome, he worked on targeting Sullan Constitution, along with, Pompey who was the lieutenant of Sulla but later switched sides after Sulla’s death. In 69 BCE, Caesar got elected as a military tribune but this good news came along with the bad one. In the same year, his wife Cornelia who was pregnant with their second child, died and the baby did not survive as well. So, in 67 BCE, he married Sulla’s granddaughter Pompeia. With the passing time, his name kept rising in the society. Soon, in 65 BCE, he got elected as Curule Aediles. After two years, he got elected as Pontifex Maximus. Due to his new position, he became acquainted with Marcus Licinus Crassus, a Roman General, who became a good friend of him. He, later helped Caesar become a Chief Priest in 63 BCE. Due to his success and position in the society he started living a lavish life but with borrowed money from Crassus. After a year, he again got elected to yet another high position as a praetor to command the army. All these achievements, though enhanced his social status and made him more influential, did little for his personal life. He had to divorce his wife because of her involvement with another man. Soon to fulfill his duties as a praetor, he left for Spain as Governor of Hispania. His mission in Spain was a success. Him defeating the rivals also brought a much desired peace to the region and made him win the loyalty of his troops. After coming back to Rome, he joined Pompey and Crassus in a political agreement. Julius was positioned as consul and ruled Rome along with Pompey and Crassus.
As he was in debt to Crassus and his own wealth was dwindling out, it became necessary for him to regain what he had lost. So, he again left Rome. This time he went to Gaul in 58 BCE after marrying Calpurnia who was the daughter of Piso, a Roman Senator. In Gaul, he fought with his rivals with efficiency and smartness just like in Spain. But Germanic tribes soon posed threat to him as they were attempting to cross the Rhine River. So, a bridge was constructed by him over the Rhine just to show the capabilities of the Rome. He took his soldiers across the bridge and then came back, showing them his power and ability. After this, the Germans retreated, but the Gallic Wars were still going on. However by then Caesar’s confidence in his power was unstoppable. He invaded Britain twice after defeating the northern tribes. In 55 BC, he invaded Britain with just two legions but in 54 BCE, he took five legions, two-thousand cavalry, and 800 ships. Even Britain was afraid of his power, and they did not dare to attack until he moved inland. In 52 BCE, he defeated Vercingetorix, a chieftain of the Arverni tribe and a Gallic King, at the Battle of Alesia. After these military missions, he regained his wealth, and conquest of Gaul was an ultimate success for him. While everything was going right for him in Gaul, the opposite was happening in Rome. When he came back, Crassus was already killed during the battle with the Parthians, this placed Pompey in power. While he was away, Julia, Caesar’s daughter, also died during the childbirth. Seeing the opportunity, Pompey changed sides and followed the Optimate faction, and then robbed Caesar of his title of governor of Gaul. Under the direct influence of Pompey, Senate decided that Caesar should come back only as a private citizen. They also declared that if Caesar will not come back as a private citizen then he will be treated as an enemy. All of this was happening because people in power at Rome became insecure that Caesar was growing powerful day by day and was overshadowing them.
He did not come back, but brought his troops across the Rubicon river so that he could be at the border of Roman Territory in 49 BCE. This was looked at, as a step towards the war. By this time, Civil War was inevitable. Pompey knew that he could not win against Caesar, and Caesar will do anything to regain his position in Rome. Due to the fear, Pompey, rather than facing Caesar, fled to Spain and then after to Greece. In Greece, he was defeated by Caesar’s smaller army. The battle was called the Battle of Pharsalus. Again, Pompey ran away from that battle to Egypt, where he was finally defeated and killed by Ptolomey XIII, an Egyptian King of Ptolemaic Dynasty, who was in exile. The news of Pompey’s death made Caesar outrageous because he wanted to be the one to kill Pompey.
Caesar, showing up in Egypt in the quest for Pompey, asserted shock over Pompey’s passing. In anger, he broadcasted military regulations and took control over the royal residence. His dominance was inescapable. As per some historians, he then subtly sent for Cleopatra VII, co-official with Ptolomey XIII, who had been ousted and was in banishment. Caesar ousted Ptolemy XIII and made an alliance with Cleopatra who was sister of Ptolomey. She rooted for Caesar’s armies. Due to the blockade in the royal residence by the Egyptians under Achillas, Caesar and Cleopatra waited for a considerable length of time until fortifications showed up in the Spring of 47 BCE and the Egyptian armed force was then later crushed.
In the writings of some historians, Caesar and Cleopatra appeared to have become lovers soon after their first meeting, and he stayed in Egypt with her for nine months. In 47 BCE, Cleopatra brought forth a child, Ptolemy Caesar who was known as Caesarion, and showed him as her beneficiary, and replacement to the lofty position. By that time a new rebellion rose named Pharnaces, King of the Bosporan Kingdom and a son of Mithridates. To take care of this new rebellion, Caesar led his troops to Asia Minor leaving Cleopatra behind to rule the Egypt. And as expected, he got the victory by defeating Pharnaces. Later he started focusing on Rome, he defeated the Opitame faction at the battle of Thapsus and returned to Rome in July that year. He got success in every battlefield he stepped on.
Even though he was married to Calpurnia, he brought Cleopatra and his son Ptolemy, with him to Rome. He never named his son with Cleopatra as an heir but he named his grandson as his heir. After coming back, he started social reforms where he did land redistribution to the poor. At that time, he was already given the title of Dictator Perpetuus which meant ‘dictator for life’. However, during the reforms, the senate never approved any of his decisions and he still kept suggesting the laws and rules that he wanted to apply. He kept pushing for new reforms. He started a police force in Rome. He formed the calendar and made the rebuilding of Carthage possible. He completely terminated old tax systems. He also abolished many legislation pieces. He was becoming so powerful, so swiftly, that people around him feared and he was indifferent to their opinions. Even senates were intimidated by his power as he barely ever lost a battle and the support of him in public was just growing. When he was at the highest peak of success, a plan to kill him was cooking between the high powers of Rome, as it would be beneficial to everyone if Caesar was dead. It was in 44 BCE that Caesar was assassinated in the Basilica of Pompey the Great. He lay dead in front of Pompey’s statue after being stabbed twenty-three times. The people who assassinated him included Senates, Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, and many others. Caesar knew that he was a problem and a threat to people in high positions but Brutus’s betrayal came as a heartbreaking shock to him. Brutus was one of the trusted people to Caesar but became the one to stab him to death. While he was at a door of death, he said “You too, Brutus?” Another powerful dictator left the world that day and his death affected many people.
His assassins made the mistake of leaving Mark Antony alive, his right-hand man. Mark Antony immediately started planning revenge against them and made contacts with Octavian, Caesar’s son, which led to the Battle of Philippi, where he defeated Cassius and Brutus Army in 42 BCE. Mark then made an alliance with Cleopatra, this new alliance was perceived as a great threat to Rome. Octavian, a former ally, did not approve of it. Cleopatra and Anthony were soon defeated at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE by Octavian. They both committed suicide after a year of being defeated. Later, Octavian made Caesar a deity and named himself as a son of god. He made the Roman Republic come to an end and started Roman Empire.
Julius Caesar had a tragic death but remained alive in the heart of people. His heroism left lasting effect to the world that is imprinted in the history of Rome.
|Date of Birth : 12 July 100 BC|
|Died : 15 March 44 BC|
|Place of Birth : Suburra, Ancient Rome|
|Father : Gaius Julius Caesar|
|Mother : Aurelia|
|Spouse/Partners : Cornelia (Wife), Pompeia(Wife), Calpurnia(Wife), Cleopatra (Partner)|
|Professions : Dictator, Consul, Politician, Soldier|
Time Period: 81–45 BC
Time Period: 64-44 BC
Time Period: 59-58 BC
Time Period: 58-49 BC
Time Period: 49-44 BC
Time Period: 44 BC
Academic references on the Julius Caesar
- The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome” by Michael Parenti
- Julius Caesar: A Life” by Antony Kamm
- Julius Caesar: The Life and Times of the People’s Dictator” by Luciano Canfora
- The Conquest of Gaul” by Julius Caesar (Caesar’s own firsthand account of his military campaigns)
- Julius Caesar: A Critical Reader” edited by Andrew James Hartley
- The Ides: Caesar’s Murder and the War for Rome” by Stephen Dando-Collins
- Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic” by Tom Holland
- Julius Caesar: The Pursuit of Power” by Ernle Bradford
- The Rise of the Roman Empire” by Polybius (Although not exclusively about Caesar, this work provides valuable context for his era)
- The Twelve Caesars” by Suetonius (A biographical work covering the lives of the first twelve Roman emperors, including Caesar)
- Julius Caesar and the Transformation of the Roman Republic” by Harriet I. Flower – Greece & Rome, 2008.
- The Real Julius Caesar” by Barry Strauss – Smithsonian Magazine, 2008.
- The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A Reexamination of the Evidence” by Nicolaus Horsfall – Greece & Rome, 1988.
- The Death of Julius Caesar: A Chronology” by David Stockton – Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 1979.
- Caesar’s Gaul: Ancient Rome and the Making of Modern Europe” by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill – History Today, 2003.
- The Murder of Caesar: A Forensic Investigation” by Richard A. Billows – Classical Philology, 1994.
|Quotes By Julius Caesar|
|“I came, I saw, I conquered. “|
|“Experience is the teacher of all things. “|
|“Cowards die many times before their actual deaths. “|
|“In most cases men willingly believe what they wish. “|
|“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience. “|
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