Julius Caesar


Julius Caesar was born on the thirteenth day of the month Quintilis in the year of 100 BC. His full name was Gaius Julius Caesar, the same as his father?s. Gaius was his given name and Julius was his surname. He was a strong political and military leader who changed the history of the Greco-Roman world. This paper will answer the following questions: What happened during his early political career? How did he become a strong dictator of the Roman Empire? What events led up to the making of the first triumvirate? What happened during his reign as dictator of Rome? What events led up to his assassination? Julius Caesar is probably the most famous leader in history. (Grant, table of dates p.1, and foreword p.xxi)

When he was young, Caesar lived through one of the worst decades in the history of Rome. The city was assaulted and captured by Roman armies twice. First, in eighty-seven BC by the leaders of the populares. (Caesar?s aunt and uncle, Marius and Cinna.) Cinna was killed the year that Caesar married Cornelia. The second attack against the city happened in eighty-two BC. Marius? enemy Sulla, leader of the optimates, carried out the attack. On each occasion the massacre of political opponents was followed by the confiscation of their property. (Fowler, p.24)

Caesar knew that his public speaking needed improvement, he therefore announced that he was leaving to study on the island of Rhodes. His professor was the famous Greek rhetorician, Apollonius Molon. When he was off the coast of Anatolia pirates kidnapped him. They demanded a large ransom for his return. Caesar broke free from the pirates and captured a large number of them. He then returned to Rome to engage in a normal political career. (Grant, p.9-11)

In the Roman political world Pompey and Crassus challenged the dominance of the optimates. Quintus Latatius Catulus and Lucius Licinius Lucullus led the optimates. Sulla was responsible for creating their careers. Caesar married Pompeia after Cornelia?s death. Then, in sixty-five BC he was appointed aedile. The aedile was in charge of the programs of the city such as games, spectacles, and shows. As aedile, Caesar gained claim to the leadership of the populares. (Grant, p.12)

Before leaving Rome to govern Spain for a year, Caesar divorced his wife because of an allegation that she had been involved in the offense of Publis Clodius. Clodius was awaiting trial for breaking into Caesar?s home the previous December. While on his trip to Spain, Caesar was very successful. He returned in a short time with considerable military glory and enough money to pay off all his debts. (Abbott, p.64)

A short while after his trip, Caesar was elected for consul in fifty-nine BC. He joined a political alliance with Pompey and Crassus. This alliance was named the first triumvirate. Pompey possessed a great influence through his splendid abilities and military renown. Crassus was powerful through his wealth. Caesar developed a plan to reconcile them, and then of favoring himself with their united aid in accomplishing his own deeds. (Abbott, p.71)

Caesar?s purpose in the triumvirate was to gain a large military command. Pompey wanted a part of the eastern settlement and land allotments for his discharged troops. An agrarian bill authorizing the purchase of land for Pompey?s soldiers was passed in fifty-nine BC. This law did not go over well with the senators because they were selfish with the lands they had annexed to their estates.

The Senators tried to block legislation with the help of Marcus Bibulus. He postponed the voting by declaring that the heavens were unfavorable to legislation. Caesar disregarded Bibulus? behavior, and the remainder of the legislative program was carried out. (Thaddeus, p.116)

Caesar had control of three provinces for five years. They were Cisalpine Gaul, Transalpine Gaul, and Illyria. Caesar became determined to conquer and rule the entirety of Gaul. After his defeat of the Belgic tribes in the north, and the submission of the maritime tribes on the Atlantic seaboard, he believed he had conquered the entire area of Gaul. Caesar then decided to make two expeditions, one across the Rhine and the second across the Straits of Dover to Britain. While in Britain, he received the submission of the supreme commander of the southeast Britons, Cassivellaunus. (Grant, p.55)

In my opinion, by fifty-three BC the first triumvirate had totally broken apart. Caesar now had an extreme amount of personal power, wealth, and