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Research - Ancient Rome - Julius Caesar

It's strange how history and Hollywood have made Caesar a hero, but when you delve into his life another picture is painted - one of aggressive politics and shocking betrayal.

Gaius Julius Caesar was born July 13, 100 BC to Gaius Julius Caesar (senior) and Aurelia, nobles or patricians.

In 84 BC, at the age of 18, he married Cornelia Cinna who bore him his only legitimate child, a girl named Julia. Cornelia died in 68 BC.

Caesar joined the army where he proved to be a personable leader, winning award after award (including the crown of leaves, the Civic Crown). Despite his victories, he lost his inheritance and had little money when he returned to Rome. He decided to get into legal advocacy, which he excelled at since he was a good orator and had a flair for drama. Trials were performed in the Forum.

In 75 BC, he was kidnapped by pirates who originally ransomed him for 20 talents, but Caesar demanded they ask for 50 (because he thought he was worth more). Once he was freed, he tracked them down and executed them.
He was elected Military Tribune in 72 BC. Four years later, he was elected Quaestor. That same year he married his enemy and former Dictator Sulla's granddaughter, Pompeia.

In 65 BC, he was elected Curule Aedile. His new title required him to spend money (mostly that he borrowed) to influence people's opinion and gain prestige. It was rumored that he was having affairs with married women of prominent men.

In 62 BC, he was elected Praetor (commander of the army or a magistrate). A year later he went to Spain to act as propraetor (governor). One more year, Caesar returned to Rome and became part of a triumverate of power with Crassus and Pompey. Crassus had emassed his fortune by buying properties for rock-bottom prices after they were destroyed in fires. He helped finance Caesar's political career.

In 59 BC, Caesar was elected Consul despite heavy opposition. He arranged a marriage of his only daughter Julia to his partner Pompey and then married Calpurnia (who was the daughter of a leading member in the Popular faction). When his consulship ended, he finagled himself a five-year proconsulship of Gaul where he lived and fought in military campaigns for 9 years.

Crassus died in 53 BC, leaving Caesar and Pompey in a tense predictament of power-hunger. Pompey convinced the Senate to charge Caesar with crimes against the Senate, preventing Caesar from being able to return to Rome as a private citizen (and risk legal action). Instead, Caesar led his army against Italy in a Civil War. Pompey fled to the east while Caesar met his army in Spain. By 48 BC, Pompey gathered a large army of troops in Greece and faced Caesar again. But, the tide turned against Pompey despite a series of mishaps, and finally he fled to Egypt.

The Egyptians, however, betrayed Pompey and presented his head to Caesar when he landed in Alexandria. It was here he met Cleopatra and helped her regain her throne from Ptolemy XIII. She reportedly bore a son by him named Caesarion. The next year they joined Caesar in Rome.

In 47 BC, Caesar left Alexandria and pursued King Pharnaces whom he overcame - thus giving life to the famous slogan "Veni, Vidi, Vici" ("I came, I saw, I overcame").

Caesar was declared Dictator Perpetuus (Dictator for perpetuity) in 44 BC. Despite warnings of potential danger, Caesar refused to use a bodyguard. In the Curia, a theatre built by Pompey, Caesar attended his last Senate meeting before a group of senators (led by Marcus Junius Brutus) murdered him - on March 15th, the Ides of March. He was 55 years old.






Julius Caesar by Philip Freeman:

When Rome Ruled:

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:

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1 comment:

  1. Awesome stuff about Ceaser - esp when he told his kidnappers to ask for 50 and 25 crowns. He sounds like a character history will never forget!