Posted on 26th December 2020
Born Gaius Julius Caesar in July 100BC into a Patrician family. Following his father’s death, Caesar became head of his family at the age of only sixteen.
Roman dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla had gained power by force and now wished to purge Rome of his enemies; Caesar was one of these enemies, for he had married Cornelia in 84BC, the daughter of the influential Lucius Cornelius Cinna, enemy of Sulla. This marriage gave Caesar his only legitimate child, a daughter Julia. Caesar was stripped by Sulla of all his money, property, his wife’s marriage dowry and inheritance; now left with nothing he decided to join the army.
Following the death of Sulla, Caesar, feeling it was safe to do so, returned to Rome in 78BC. In 72BC he was elected military tribune (elected official).
Caesar was well educated and primed for a political career, becoming quaestor (elected official) in 69BC. This was a lowly political position, but another rung on the ladder. He worked as a lawyer and was a great public speaker, even delivering the funeral oration of his aunt Julia in 69BC. It was this year that his wife Cornelia also died.
In 59BC he became joint consul of Rome alongside Marcus Bibulus, serving in this position for one year, then becoming governor of Gaul (France). At this time, he ruled Rome alongside Pompey Magnus and Crassus as a triumvirate (power shared by three leaders) even though he travelled to Gaul. The triumvirate was working but the relationship was strained, all wanted power for themselves alone.
Following Crassus’ death in battle in 54BC, Pompey ruled Rome while Caesar continued to conquer Gaul, not returning to Rome for nine years. He spent this time conquering much of what is now modern-day Europe.
To cement a fragile relationship with Pompey, Caesar married him to his daughter Julia, but she was to die in childbirth. There was very little to keep Caesar and Pompey as friends following this and their relationship became further strained.
Caesar was a powerful military general, well supported by the people of Rome, and with his conquest of Gaul completed in 51BC, he wished to run for consul of Rome.
Caesar was ordered by the senate to give up control of the military, but he refused. This caused a public split between Pompey and Caesar, neither would relent and lose honour and dignity, neither wished to lose their power.
Caesar marched on Rome with his army; as he crossed the Rubicon river, this was a declaration of war against Pompey. He stated, ‘The die is cast’.
Caesar returned to Rome in 49BC a military hero; Pompey had already retreated from the city. Caesar spent the next eighteen months in pursuit of Pompey, defeating him at the battle of Pharsalus, then chasing Pompey to Egypt where he had fled. Arriving in Egypt, Caesar found that the young Pharaoh, Ptolemy XIII had arranged for Pompey to be killed; Caesar was presented with Pompey’s head as a gift.
After deposing Ptolemy and placing Cleopatra on the throne of Egypt, Caesar once again returned to Rome in 46BC a very powerful man. He had absolute power over the Senate and was named as a Dictator.
Although loved by the people, Caesar was felt to have too much power by many in the Senate, and some were to plot against him.
On 15 March 44BC, Caesar on entering the Senate was set upon by a group of Senators, and stabbed over twenty times, finally to his death. The main instigators of this were Brutus and Cassius.
Julius Caesar died on 15 March 44BC (Ides of March) and was proclaimed ‘a God’ after his death..
Tagged as: Junior Ancient Rome
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