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Julius Caesar


Julius Caesar was a strong leader for the Romans who
changed the course of the history of the Greco - Roman
world decisively and irreversibly. With his courage and
strength he created a strong empire . What happened during
his early political career? How did he become such a strong
dictator of the Roman Empire? What events led up to the
making of the first triumvirate? How did he rise over the
other two in the triumvirate and why did he choose to take
over? What happened during his reign as dictator of Rome?
What events led up to the assassination of Caesar? What
happened after he was killed? Caesar was a major part of
the Roman Empire because of his strength and his strong war
Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman whose
dictatorship was pivotal in Rome's transition from republic
to empire. When he was young Caesar lived through one of
the most horrifying decades in the history of the city of
Rome. The city was assaulted twice and captured by Roman
armies, first in 87 BC by the leaders of the populares, his
uncle Marius and Cinna. Cinna was killed the year that
Caesar had married Cinna's daughter Cornelia. The second
attack upon the city was carried our by Marius' enemy
Sulla, leader of the optimates, in 82 BC on the latter's
return from the East. On each occasion the massacre of
political opponents was followed by the confiscation of
their property. The proscriptions of Sulla, which preceded
the reactionary political legislation enacted during his
dictatorship left a particularly bitter memory that long
Caesar left Rome for the province of Asia on the condition
that he divorce his wife because Sulla would only allow him
to leave on that condition. When he heard the news that
Sulla had been killed he returned to Rome. He studied
rhetoric under the distinguished teacher Molon.
In the winter of 75-74 BC Caesar was captured by pirated
and, while in their custody awaiting the arrival of the
ransom money which they demanded, threatened them with
crucifixion , a threat which he fulfilled immediately after
his release. He then returned to Rome to engage in a normal
political career, starting with the quaetorship which he
served in 69-68 BC in the province of Further Spain.
In the Roman political world of the sixties the dominance
of the optimates was challenged by Pompey and Crassus. The
optimates, led by Quintus Lutatius Catulus and Lucius
Licinius Lucullus , were chiefly men whose careers had been
made by Sulla. Pompey and Crassus were consuls in 70 BC and
had rescinded the most offensively reactionary measures of
Sulla's legislation. During Pompey's absence from 67 to 62
BC during his campaigns against the Mediterranean pirates,
Mithridates, and Crassus, his jealous rival. Caesar married
Ponpeia after Cornelia's death and was appointed aedile in
65 BC As aedile , Caesar returned to Marius' trophies to
their former place of honor in the Capitol, thus laying
claim to leadership of the populares.
When Caesar was a praetor, he supported a tribune who
wanted Pompey recalled to restore order in Rome. As a
result, Caesar was suspended from office for a period and
antagonized Catulus. Before leaving Rome to govern Further
Spain for a year, Caesar divorced his wife Pompeia because
of the allegation that she had been implicated in the
offense of Publius Clodius. The latter was then awaiting
trial for breaking into Caesar's house the previous
December disguised as a woman at the festival of the Bona
Dea, which no man is allowed to attend.
After his return from a successful year administrating
Spain Caesar was elected consul for 59 BC through political
alliance with Pompey and Crassus . This alliance was called
the first triumvirate. Caesar's purpose was to gain a big
military command. Pompey for his part sought the
ratification of his Eastern settlement and land allotments
for his discharged troops. Crassus sought a revision of the
contract for collecting taxes in the province of Asia. An
agrarian bill authorizing the purchase of land for Pompey's
veterans was passed in January of 59 BC at a disorderly
public assembly which Caesar's fellow consul Calpurnius
Bibulus, was thrown from the platform and his consular
insignia were broken. Bibulus tried to stop Caesar and his
supporters from passing any further law but was only able
to postpone the creation of the new laws by saying that the
skies would not permit it because there was stormy weather
and they were very superstitious. Caesar disregarded
Bibulus' behavior and the remainder of the legislative
program of the triumvirate was carried through. As a result
of this action Caesar and his friends incurred bitter
attacks. Their political opponents continued to claim that
the whole of the legislation was unconstitutional and
Caesar had secured for five years the governorship of three
provinces. The provinces were Cisalpine Gaul , Transalpine
Gaul , and Illyricum . He left Rome and remained in Gaul
until his invasion of Italy. He continued north of the Alps
each summer and he would leave his army there in garrison
each winter while he came south to conduct the civil
administration of Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum and to keep
in contact with Rome.
Caesar became determined to conquer and make a province of
the whole 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 that the task had all but
been accomplished. Caesar decided to make two short
reconnaissance expeditions, one across the Rhine. and the
other across the Straits of Dover to Britain. In a longer
and more serious invasion of Britain he crossed the Thames
and received the submission of the supreme commander of the
southeastern Britons, Cassivellaunus.
Caesar had avoided recall to Rome at the end of the five
years of command voted to him by coming to a fresh
agreement with Pompey and Crassus at Luca. The optimates in
control of the senate, now awake to the immense increase in
Caesar's personal power, wealth, and prestige, kept Pompey
in Italy, allowing him to govern his Spanish provinces by
deputies. Pompey's own attachment to Caesar was broken when
Caesar's daughter Julia to whom Pompey had been happily
married since 59 BC died in 54 BC Crassus was killed by the
Parthians at Carrhae in Mesopotamia. In planning Caesar's
return to civil life in Rome he could assume that as soon
as he lost the immunity from prosecution which his military
command conferred, his political enemies would endeavor to
secure his exile by prosecuting him in the courts either
for bribery or for the use of force in politics. In Rome
there was support in the senate for a negotiated compromise
when Curio put forth the proposal by which Caesar would
give up his military command and stand in person at the
consular election on condition that Pompey abandon his
military command at the same time. On January 7, 49 BC
Antony and one of his fellow tribunes were warned that
their lives would be in danger if they sustained their veto
and the proclamation of military law was passed. Caesar was
told to leave his troops behind and cross the Rubicon into
Rome alone. Caesar knew that this was a death sentence for
him so he did not leave his troops but marched into the
city and caused a civil war. He defeated Pompey's troops in
many battles and became the dictator of Rome.
From the time that he had first faced battle in Gaul and
discovered his own military genius, Caesar was evidently
fascinated and obsessed by military and imperial problems.
He gave them an absolute priority over the more delicate by
no less fundamental task of revising the Roman
constitution. The need in the latter sphere was a solution
which would introduce such elements of authoritarianism as
were necessary to check corruption and administrative
Caesar's first dictatorship was simply a commission to
enable him to hold elections in the absence of the consuls
of the year who were with Pompey, but after the news of
Pharsalus, Caesar was created dictator again; after Tapsus
he was made dictator for ten years and in the winter of 45
BC he was appointed perpetual dictator.
When Caesar was out of Italy after 49 BC real power lay in
the hands of his representatives. When he was dictator the
most important of these representatives was his "master of
the horse". This representative was Mark Antony. Much
resentment was felt by prominent senators like Cicero on
account of the great power and influence of such against of
Caesar. Caesar's military dominance was established beyond
the possibility of successful challenge, the senate gave
him a profusion of personal honors which were out of
keeping with Roman tradition, reflecting as they did the
extravagant distinctions accorded earlier to the
Hellenistic kings. The month of July was named after Caesar
and his statue was placed in the temple of Quirinus.
Caesar was considered to be a dictator for life. According
to the traditional Republican constitution this office was
only to be held for six months during a dire emergency.
Caesar also obtained honors to increase his prestige. He
wore the robe, crown, and scepter of a triumphant general
and used the title imperator. He was also in command of the
armies. Caesar used his dictatorship and used it to
increase his power. With all of his powers he was pretty
much the king of Rome. Mark Antony was his major supporter
and he helped convince the others to allow Caesar to have
these abilities, but it led to some problems.
A group of conspirators had been formed against Caesar
because they felt that he had too much power and that if he
became the king of Rome he would become corrupt and use his
powers to create a bad society. The senate resented his
actual position that was shown in the sixty member
conspiracy which Marcus Brutus had organized to kill him.
On the Ides of March , two days before he was due to leave
Rome on his great eastern expedition, he was stabbed to
death at a meeting of the senate in Pompey's new theater.
He fell dead at the foot of Pompey's statue. Pompey was
avenged, as well as Bibulus and Cato. After a provocative
funeral oration by Mark Antony, Caesar's body was burned by
the mob in the forum. When at the games in his honor the
following July a comet appeared and it was regarded as
evidence of his godhead and he was formally consecrated and
"divus Julius," or divine Julius. Octavius, whose name
became Caesar Octavianus after his adoption by Caesar's
will, solved, by his creation of the Roman principate, the
constitutional problem that Caesar failed to solve.
Caesar had started as a consul and had formed the first
triumvirate with Crassus and Pompey. They had taken over
the Roman civilization and had controlled for a while. When
Crassus was killed and agreement was made. Pompey and
Caesar were supposed to give up their military and enter
the city of Rome to find a real ruler. Pompey was in on the
deal and he was supposed to take over. Caesar knew that if
he entered the city of Rome without his troops he would be
killed by Pompey and so he crossed the Rubicon with his
troops and attacked Rome. He took over as a dictator for
life and gained a lot of power. He was able to run a strong
military and even though he was considered only a dictator
he wrote laws that actually made him have the same powers
as a king. The conspirators saw the problem that had arised
and so they planned the murder of Caesar on the Ides of
March. Caesar was killed and there was another triumvirate
formed. Caesar was a strong military leader that had showed
strength and courage to take over the town and he was able
to form a civilization that was strong militarily and


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