Julius Caesar

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Gaius Julius Caesar, (probably) 100 B.C. - March 15, 44 B.C.

Julius Caesar was born to a patrician family which supposedly traced its ancestry to Iulus, the son of the Trojan prince Aeneas, who according to myth was the son of Venus. At the height of his power in 45 B.C. Caesar began building a temple to Venus Genetrix at Rome, signifying his link to the goddess.

Caesar's family was not rich by the standards of the Roman noblity, and no member of his family had achieved any promience in recent memory. His paternal aunt Julia married Marius, the leader of the Populares against the influence of the Optimates. This family relationship caused Caesar great trouble during the dictatorship of Sulla.

-skipping years here-

In 59 B.C., the year of his consulate, Caesar entered into a strategic alliance with two other leading politicians, Marcus Licinius Crassus and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Crassus was the richest man in Rome; Pompey was the most successful general. Caesar brought to the alliance his political popularity and drive. Pompey married Caesar's daughter Julia. This unofficial alliance is called by historians the First Triumvirate, or "Three-man Arrangement".

  • Consul, 59 B.C.
  • Proconsul in Gaul, 58-49 B.C.
  • Crosses the Rubicon, January 7, 49 B.C.
  • Defeats Pompey at Pharsalus, Greece, 48 B.C.
  • Dictator, 10 year term 46 B.C.
  • Dictator for Life, 45 B.C.

At the end of his life Caesar had accepted the title Dictator with the unusual and extra-constitutional provision that he would hold the office for life rather than the usual brief term.

The question of whether or not Caesar intended to accept the title of King, to settle for the title of Dictator, or even to escape from the question by leaving for the Eastern Mediterranean to fight the Parthian Empire causes scholarly debate.

  • as an historian

Julius Caesar published a book on his campaigns to subdue the Gauls, The Gallic War (De bello Gallico). This book's reputation has suffered by being assigned as a school text to introductory and intermediate Latin students, who of course hate it -- as they would anything else used as a reading at that level! On re-reading in later life, many people perceive the clarity of syntax and beauty of style of which an early Latin teacher tried to convince them.

Caesar vividly describes in his Gallic War the battles and intrigues that took place in the nine years he spent slaughtering tribal armies that opposed Roman domination.