During his reign as dictator from 49-44 BC, Julius Caesar had a number of notable impacts on the city of Rome.
One of the initial crises with which Caesar had to deal was widespread debt in Rome, especially after the outbreak of civil war when lenders demanded repayment of loans and real estate values collapsed. The result was a serious shortage of coinage in circulation as people hoarded whatever they had. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Caesar ordered that property must be accepted for repayment at its pre-war value. He also reinstated a previous law which forbade the holding of more than 60,000 sesterces in cash by any one person. Caesar later cancelled all interest payments due since the beginning of 49 BC and permitted tenants to pay no rent for one year. While these measures still did not eliminate Rome's debt, Caesar's creative reaction to the problem helped to alleviate the debt in a way that satisfied both lenders and borrowers.
In addition to debt, Caesar had to deal with widespread unemployment in Rome. As a way to reduce the unemployment, the poor were offered a new life in Rome's overseas colonies. Those who stayed behind and depended on a monthly supply of free grain suffered when Caesar cut the grain rations in half, limiting the number of receivers to 150,000 when 320,000 had been collecting them. Caesar did, however, arrange for better supervision of the city's grain supply, and he also helped to improve access to grain from overseas by constructing a new harbour at Ostia and a new canal from Tarracina.
The construction of new public buildings also served as a method of reducing unemployment in the city, but there was another motivation for building major projects in Rome: Caesar wanted to enhance the city's appearance after he realized how unimpressive Rome seemed in comparison to Alexandria, which was considered the greatest city of the Mediterranean. As a result, the Forum Julium was built to provide more space for lawcourts, and the Saepta Julia, situated on the Campus Martius, provided a large enclosure for voting. Caesar also ordered the construction of a new senate house after the previous one was used as Clodius's funeral pyre in 52 BC. Additionally, he sought to divert the Tiber River away from Rome to prevent flooding and to add to the city's area. He had also planned to build a grand temple of Mars, a theatre that would rival Pompey's, and a library that would rival Alexandria's. Caesar never saw any of the latter projects completed, however, as he was killed in 44 BC before any of them were finished.
Caesar's impact on the city of Rome continued even after his death when, in his will, he stipulated that his villa, the gardens surrounding it, and his art gallery all be made public. He also distributed his wealth to the people of Rome, leaving 300,000 sesterces to each citizen. Overall, Caesar sought to make Rome a cultural and educational centre of the Mediterranean world by attracting intellectuals, doctors, and lawyers to the city. Indeed, the actions that he took over his time in power showed his devotion to Rome and his wish to bring stability and prosperity to the city.
Julius Caesar's Impact On The Roman Empire
Candidates for offices came to Caesar for money, something that again, Caesar could grant based on the spoils of his conquests. In return, these candidates did everything they could do to advance Caesar's power. The most influential and powerful men visited Caesar and decided that Caesar should receive more money, and most importantly, that Caesar's power should be renewed for an additional five years (Plutarch, 1915). Caesar's advertisement of his defeat of Gaul was paying off handsomely in money and extended leadership. This was helpful to Caesar because it allowed him to further influence men that would later help him back in Rome.
Essay On Julius Caesar As A Change Agent
Julius Caesar impacted Western Civilization from giving tax reforms, as well as many others, including their calendar. Also, Julius Caesar used an interesting philosophy in controlling conquered people. Julius treated revolted people better than regular people, which did away with the thought of riots, creating positive outcomes. Furthermore, without Caesar giving the world his son Augustus, who succeeded and continued many of the ideas by Caesar. He was a great change agent and person, because of all of his accomplishments and positive reform done as a dictator, as well as an author.&hellip
Summary: Act II, scene i. Brutus paces back and forth in his garden. He asks his servant to bring him a light and mutters to himself that Caesar will have to die. Brutus compares Caesar to the egg of a serpent “which, hatched, would as his kind grow mischievous” thus, he determines to “kill him in the shell” (II.
Calpurnia says that the heavens proclaim the death of only great men, so the omens must have to do with him. Caesar replies that while cowards imagine their death frequently, thus dying in their minds several times over, brave men, refusing to dwell on death, die only once.
The life of Julius Caesar and his impact in Rome
People like him were rare. He had never been depressed or disheartened by any kind of misfortunes. Additionally, he was determined to face all dangers and evils that surrounded him and did not succumb to any of them. He had a tall and handsome stature and was very likeable. The society was something he was fond of, and it was fond of him, too. All his manners were fascinating (Abbott 14). As a result, he became an excellent general. He was very keen on special tactics and strategy that would help him handle the Roman soldiers who were rough and greedy. He had a unique swiftness as far as acting on his enemies was concerned. Patience was also a trait that he had, which helped him plan for the best time and place that he would fight his battles. Most of his soldiers had total dedication to him because of his unique leadership skills. All these positive traits are attributed to Julius Caesar (SFUSD para.1). This paper seeks to discuss the life of Julius Caesar and the effect he had on the future of Rome.
There are very few documented works that talk on the childhood of Julius Caesar. One of them has the information that he did not have any formal education. However, his primary education was delivered to him by a private tutor where he obtained skills in writing and reading. The secondary education that he received helped him as he acquired skills in music, history, geography, science, and Greek philosophy. He also studied the Rhodes rhetoric, which came in handy as it prepared him in his law career in the courts (Roberts 47).
Julius' father passed away while he was 16 years old. He was then nominated as the next Jupiter priest. At this time, he married a lady known as Cornelia after breaking his relationship with a lady known as Cossutia. Cornelia was the daughter of Sulla, who was a consul for four times. A rift arose between Caesar and Sulla as a result of his marriage to his daughter. This made him live in secret places. Afterwards, they resolved their enmity, and they bore a daughter and named it Julia (Tranquillus para.1).
2. His Early Political Life
Julius Caesar served as a personal aide for Marcus Thermus who was the governor of the Asian province. He was sent several times to a king called Bithynia to fetch a fleet in which he was suspected of having false deals with the king of Bithynia. He also served under a person called Serviliys Isaricus in Cilicia. His exposure to the military also made him popular, and it was at this point he started his political ambitions (Tranquillus para.1 & 2).
3. Rise to Power
Julius Caesar belonged to one of the oldest Roman families. He was a member of the popular Democratic Party. Caesar was ordered to divorce Lucius Cornelius' daughter, Cinna. However, he never obeyed. Consequently, he fled Rome due to his prescription. He only returned to Rome after Sulla died. This was when his political career started. He was very popular in his party because of his good characteristics as an orator. It was also during this time when Caesar went to Asia so as to drive away an army called the Cappadocian. When he returned to Rome, he was in the lead in agitating for government reforms.
Additionally, Caesar was behind the election of Pompey, who became the head of the Democratic Party. Due to his popularity, he became a military tribune. Together with Pompey, they went to the East so as to obtain power in terms of command. After that, he returned to Rome and became more honored than Pompey. All this time, he continually adored Cinna and Marius, and the Romans loved him for that. However, the opposite could not be said of the Senate, for they loathed him.
Caesar had influence now, and everything could work out well for him. He bribed his way up to the position of the high priest, better known as the pontifex maximus. Immediately, he participated in reforming the Roman calendar, which benefited the society greatly. Caesar never sided with the Senate at any time. As a result, he was always the favorite of the people. As he rose to power, he pleaded for mercy to a group of conspirators of the Roman Government. This increased the rift between the Senate and him. In 62 BC, Pompeia, the second wife of Caesar, had a scandalous love affair with Clodius. Caesar did not believe that any of his wives would betray him. Therefore, he divorced her as she went against their Roman rites.
4. The Triumvirate
Caesar had served as a proconsul in Spain. He returned to Rome with a high ambition: to be a consulate. Since he was a man who knew how to strategize, he made up a coalition of three leaders. However, he was strongly opposed by the Senate. This coalition was composed of Pompey, who was the army's commander-in-chief, and Marcus Licinius Crassus who was rated as the richest Roman citizen. The two members were always fighting because of the jealousy they felt for one another. Caesar was, however different, as his personality always kept the three working together.
Caesar was the most active of the three he succeeded in fighting for the rights of the poor veterans and citizens by making sure the Senate had secured land for them. The wealthy equities also supported him strongly. It was at this time when he married Calpurina. However, the other two members, Pompey and Crassus, could not stop fighting. After calming the two triumvirate members, Caesar decided to appoint them as leaders separately. He appointed them as consuls, where Pompey served in Spain and Crassus in Syria. This benefitted him as Caesar gained command of the whole Gaul where he won several conquests. The major tie between Pompey and Caesar was Julia, who was Caesar's daughter, and was married by Pompey. Julia was killed when Caesar was in Gaul. At the same time, Pompey betrayed him by supporting the Senatorial party. This was as a result of his envy toward Caesar as he had achieved a lot of military success after the conquest in Gaul. Crassus, the other member of the triumvirate, died, and this marked the end of the coalition. Since then, Pompey and Caesar became great rivals.
5. The Conquest of Gaul
Julius Caesar lived in Britain and Gaul for a period of seven years. In his stay, he was successful in making alliances with some of the tribes in Gaul. These tribes helped him as he was able to fight their enemies. There was a tribe in Switzerland that was referred to as the Helvetii. He learned of their ill intentions of invading the lands of Rome. Consequently, he recruited two legions, which included a total of 7,200 men. They went to the north so as to fight the Helvetti, and the small Roman army defeated the larger Helvetti army. Caesar then dealt with the Germans, who were also a threat to the Roman people. His army conquered the Germans, too. All these victories inspired him as he learned that he could conquer the whole of Gaul (SFUSD para. 5).
The following year, he fought and conquered the Belgic tribes that lived in the North. The army was so powerful that in Normandy, France, and Brittany, the fight was so intense and was stopped by Caesar's lieutenant known as Publius Licinius Crassus. All these victories lasted for two years. The whole of the Gaul region bowed down to him, from the Ocean to the Rhine River, and also to the Roman Empire. The Senate honored him by declaring a 15-day long holiday (SFUSD para.4).
At this time, Rome had a lot of problems. The agriculture sector was hardly hit as there was a shortage in grains. There were so many violent outbreaks as results of the fighting of the mobs in 57 BC. This situation also led to the formation of the triumvirate, which was composed of Crassus, Pompey, and Julius. However, Julius Caesar was the most respected because of all the conquests he had achieved in a short period of time. As a result, the other two leaders detested him and were constantly jealous of him (SFUSD para. 5).
In 56 BC, he destroyed the Veneti and other Gaul tribes that had revolted against the Roman Empire. He also wiped out German tribes who had come to assist Gaul in their fight against the Roman soldiers. Afterwards, he led his army in crossing the Rhine River and destroyed the Germans and Britons who had supported the Gauls. This time, he received 20 days of public thanksgiving. Though he made all these conquests, there was no peace in Gaul. He organized for other conquests in Britain, but they were not successful. It was a double tragedy to him because after arriving at Gaul from Britain, he was given the shocking news of the death of his daughter Julia and Aurelia, her mother. Additionally, he had lost over 10,000 of his men (SFUSD para. 8 and 9).
This marked a turning point in his life. All his anger and stress was projected to the people of Gaul. Unlike in the past, he treated all his enemies with great hate and disrespect. As a result of the atrocities that he subjected the people of Gaul into, a revolt was organized by a young prince referred to as Vercingetorix. He led the central Gaul residents in revolt. However, his troops, plus their wives and daughters, were destroyed by Caesar who was again honored with a 20-day public thanksgiving (SFUSD para.10 and 11). The last conquest took place in a city known as Uxellodunum. Caesar commanded his people to cut the army of all the men who were armed. The whole land of Gaul was conquered. Caesar even wrote in all his commentaries that there was peace in the land of Gaul even though it was a graveyard peace (SFUSD para. 13).
6. Civil War
The first triumvirate came to an end. Pompey was fully supported by the Senate and was appointed as the consul. Meanwhile, almost all the Roman people adored Caesar as a result of his military success. Therefore, the Senate was threatened and feared him a lot. They demanded Caesar to give up his army because they knew he also wanted to be consul after his term in Gaul had expired. Caesar responded and stated that the only way he could give up his army was if Pompey could also give up his. This really infuriated the Senate, which stated that if Caesar did not surrender, they would declare him as an enemy of the people in Rome, which would tarnish his reputation among the Roman citizens. The law stated that a person could only keep his army until the term was over. There was so much tension in the Senate at that time.
Some members of the Senate were in support of Caesar. Therefore, the Senate expelled them, and they fled to Caesar. Consequently, Caesar gathered enough soldiers who supported him against the senatorial leaders. After all the arrangements had been made, the army crossed the Rubicon, a river which separated the province from Italy. They entered Italy, and the Civil War started. The march of Caesar and his army was triumphant, and this shocked the Senate, which fled to Capua. Caesar later went to Brundisium where he attacked Pompey. Pompey feared and fled with his army to Greece. Caesar and his army brought peace to Spain, a place where the legates of Spain were holding. Caesar returned to Rome and became a dictator for only 11 days. These days were enough for his election as consul. Afterwards, he went to Greece to look for Pompey.
Caesar was determined to kill Pompey. He and his army set themselves strategically in Pharsalus. Pompey tried to attack Caesar, but he was killed after he fled to Egypt. Afterwards, Caesar remained in Egypt for some time. He continued with the war where he went to Pontus and Syria. At these points, he conquered Pharnaces II very easily. This was one of the followers of Pompey. Additionally, he went to Africa where all the Pompey supporters had gone to hide. He successfully fought them and ended their opposition, which was led by a person called Cato. This marked the end of the Civil War.
Afterwards, Caesar went back to Rome and became a dictator where he ruled for 10 years. He was above the constitution and the law in the Roman Empire. After two years, he became "the dictator for life" and the head of all the government offices. There were many reforms that he made in the government. However, all the reforms were considered meaningless by some, and his power was considered absolute. His power seemed sort of a monarchy, which evoked great hatred from the Roman people as they loved and cherished their Republican tradition. This prompted some people to plan on how they would attack Caesar (Hooker para.5).
7. Caesar Assassinated
Caesar was murdered on March 15 44 BC. The populace was not pleased with his dictatorial style of leadership. Several plots had been made in an attempt to kill him. A soothsayer known as Spurrina had warned him of the impeding danger that would befall him in the month of March (Gavorse para. 2). In fact, on the day prior to his death, Caesar had dreamt that a person had stabbed him in the arms of his wife. His health was also deteriorating, which made him inefficient even in his leadership (Gavorse para. 3). Several notes of the dangerous plots against him were handed over to him, but he dismissed all these claims and even laughed off the words of the soothsayer. Several people came to him and pretended to be paying their respects to him (Gavorse para. 4). They were conspirators, and they stabbed him repeatedly. He had more than 20 wounds inflicted on his body. Afterwards, the conspirators ran away. His lifeless body was later carried by his slaves where he died shortly (Gavorse para. 5).
8. Caesar's Literary Works
There are very many pioneers of literary works that presented the life of Julius Caesar and the events that surrounded him in plays and poems. Among these people is William Shakespeare. The works of Julius Caesar were held with high esteem as they are even today. He had several commentaries about the Civil War and Conquest of Gaul. Seven of his books have the information on the Gallic wars, and they have narrated on the events of the Civil War. They are documents which derive their roots from the classical military times. He also wrote a lot of poetry, which was quite a masterpiece. The only piece of poem that is present today is one on Terence.
He left several unfinished works, most of which he talked about the rift between him and Pompey and all the events that happened. They were later published by Oppius and Hirtiys. He is described as one who "wrote memoirs which deserve the highest praise they are naked in their simplicity, straightforward yet graceful, stripped off all rhetorical adornment, as of a garment" (Tranquillus para. 56).
9. A Legacy that Lives on: His Effects on the Future of Rome
Caesar is one of the people in history who have led a life that has evoked great controversy. Some of the Roman citizens loathed his leadership. Those who admired him stated that he fought for the people's rights by ending oligarchy. They termed him as a very ambitious demagogue whose way into power restored the Republic through his dictatorial leadership. They adore his different gifts and his versatile nature. Additionally, his admirers praised him for his good skills as an orator, a military leader, and a statesman.
Peace was restored in Rome through the wars he fought. He was behind the programs that showed the level of affection he had for Rome. He also ensured there was an improvement in the economic and social sectors. The Civil War affected the future of Rome in that all the Cilicians and the Gauls who lived north of a river referred to as Po could become leaders. The numbers of the senators rose from 600 to 900. There were many Sulan citizens who were denied their rights prior to his leadership. Upon his leadership, the rights of these people were restored. The social life of the Roman people was also put into place (Roberts 150).
Initially, the Romans had no calendar of their own. He introduced the Julian calendar to this effect. He also abolished all the trade guilds because there was a lot of political gangs and mobs that abused them. Upon his leadership, the Southern Italy plantation labor force increased. This was because over a third of the population was given jobs in the plantations. There were very important provincial leaders in Rome at that time. All of them had been enrolled by Caesar. They helped to rebuild the poor Roman citizens' colonization (Roberts 150).
Julius Caesar is a person who will forever be remembered in the history of Rome and the world in general. Although most of his activities revolved around wars and conquest, he, indeed, changed some aspects in the Roman Empire. His leadership style seems to prove what some people state, that there can never be peace without war in any land. His leadership achievement is, however, debatable. This is because the Roman Empire was continually involved in civil wars even after his demise.
What influence did Julius Caesar have on biblical history?
Julius Caesar is not mentioned in the Bible, nor did he live during the times recorded in the Bible, having died in 44 BC. However, Julius Caesar did instigate the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire, which was led by a strong emperor/dictator. The Caesars who followed in his wake played a significant role in persecution of the early church. A short summary of Roman history and of Julius Caesar’s career will be helpful:
For hundreds of years, Rome had operated as a republic, led by the Senate made up of representatives of the people from the upper class. In those days, cities (not countries) often wielded the most power, and the city of Rome had conquered much of the known world. (It would be as if Washington, D.C., were an independent city that gradually gained enough economic and military might to conquer the whole American continent.) People who lived within the Roman Empire were conquered people, subject to a foreign power, namely, the city of Rome. One of the secrets of Rome’s power was its mighty legions and the generals that commanded them.
Julius Caesar was an ambitious general with many victories to his name. He was also a politician who sought to parlay his popularity into real power. At that time there were two other generals/politicians in similar positions, Pompey and Crassus. With the death of Crassus, Pompey aligned himself with the Senate, who ordered Julius to retire and return to Rome alone. Julius, realizing that this would leave him vulnerable, returned to Rome with his 13th Legion, and civil war erupted. When all was settled, Julius Caesar was firmly in control of Rome. Although he was not officially designated Emperor at the time, later historians consider him the first Roman Emperor, and the family name Caesar became the title of the Emperor, as one who followed in the steps of Julius Caesar.
Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC, by a group of senators led by Brutus and Cassius (two who are familiar to students of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar). A new round of civil war erupted. The forces of Julius’s friend Mark Antony and his grand-nephew Octavius defeated forces loyal to Brutus and Cassius at Philippi. Antony had intended to seize power, but Julius had adopted and designated Octavius as his successor, as he had no living legitimate children according to Roman law. Forces loyal to Octavius defeated the forces of Antony (and his partner, Cleopatra) at Actium, leaving Octavius as the sole military power. However, he still had to court political and popular support, which he did aggressively. Throughout his life Octavius was granted more and more power. In 27 BC, he was granted the title Augustus, and although there were many legal, political, and constitutional limits to his power, he was for all practical purposes a dictator. The Caesars who followed Augustus became increasingly despotic. Some of them, including Augustus Caesar, are mentioned in the New Testament.
It is Julius Caesar’s immediate heir that is mentioned in the famous nativity story: “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world” (Luke 2:1).
Augustus was followed by his adopted stepson Tiberius, who is mentioned in Luke 3:1. John the Baptist entered his ministry in the thirteenth year of the reign of Tiberius.
Tiberius was followed by Caligula, who is not mentioned in the New Testament. Caligula was the great-nephew of Augustus on his father’s side and the nephew of Tiberius on his mother’s side.
Caligula was followed by Claudius Caesar, the uncle of Tiberius. Claudius is mentioned in Acts 18:2. Priscilla and Aquila left Italy because the Emperor Claudius has expelled all Jews from Rome.
The final Emperor who could claim any kinship to Julius Caesar was Nero, who is not mentioned by name in the New Testament but was the Emperor in power when Paul made his appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:10&ndash11). From extrabiblical sources we know of Nero’s intense persecution of Christians.
Even though Julius Caesar is not mentioned in Scripture, and even though he did not live during any of the times covered by the biblical narrative, his ambition set in motion the events that changed the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. The whole New Testament is colored by the historical and cultural background of the Roman Empire, starting with Julius Caesar and his successors. The New Testament church took a stand against the cult surrounding the Roman Emperor, who was often considered to be deity or quasi-deity. The central Christian confession “Jesus is Lord” is a refutation of the central creed of the Roman Empire, “Caesar is Lord.” Although Augustus bore the title “son of the deified one” (a reference to Julius), it was during the reign of Augustus that the true Son of God was actually born on earth. Tiberius, as Emperor, was the head of the Roman religion, but the Word of God bypassed him and came to a lowly prophet named John, preaching in the wilderness. And, finally, it was the Roman Emperors with aspirations of deity who were often the strongest persecutors of Christians in the early church. It was the ambition of Julius Caesar that paved the way for one man (the Caesar) to rule the Roman Empire with an iron fist and to interpret Christian fidelity to Jesus as Lord as treasonous.
Julius Caesar was a trend-setter and model for many Caesars who followed, and the impact he had on the Roman world greatly affected the church and the spread of the gospel.
9 Fascinating Facts About Julius Caesar, 'Dictator for Perpetuity'
Julius Caesar (100 B.C.E.-44 B.C.E.) was a towering figure of ancient Rome, a populist politician and brilliant military strategist who overthrew a corrupt Roman republic and crowned himself dictator for life. His romantic exploits and bloody betrayal were juicy enough to fuel two different Shakespeare plays, and historians have wrestled over his legacy — savior, tyrant or tragic hero? — for more than 2,000 years.
And today most people still know his name, even though they're not sure why. Here are nine must-know facts about Caesar.
1. He Wasn't Born by C-Section
First, let's dispel the age-old rumor that Caesar was the original, or at least the most famous Caesarean baby. Philip Freeman, a classics professor at Pepperdine University and author of the biography "Julius Caesar," says it's extremely unlike that Caesar was surgically birthed millennia before anesthesia or antibiotics.
"In those days, a C-section was almost always a death sentence for a mother, but Caesar's mother lived 50 years after his birth," says Freeman in an email interview. "The story probably comes from Caesar's name in Latin, which looks very much like the word 'to cut.'"
And for the record, Caesar had nothing to do with the Caesar salad either. That was invented in 1924 by an Italian-born chef named Caesar Cardini working in Tijuana, Mexico.
2. He Was a Political 'Progressive'
"Conservative" and "progressive" are modern terms, but they're often applied to the partisan feud between Caesar's followers and those of his Roman political foe, Cato the Younger.
Richard Billows, a history professor at Columbia University and author of "Julius Caesar, The Colossus of Rome," says that Rome in the first century B.C.E. had become hopelessly corrupt, dominated by elite families called Optimates who doled out political favors for cash.
"Cato the Younger, the leading conservative, insisted that the traditional governing system ruled by the elites was absolutely fine as it was," says Billows. "The corruption problem wasn't institutional or systemic, argued Cato the Younger, but a moral one."
Caesar thought that was nonsense. The only way to root out corruption was to replace the incompetent elites with skilled governors and generals, some recruited from outside of Rome in its expanding foreign provinces.
Cicero, the great writer and orator, argued that the best way to keep corrupt officials in line was to install a rector of impeccable personal standing to act as a kind of supreme judge. Caesar liked the rector idea but wanted to take it a step further.
"Caesar believed that ending corruption was not something you could do by moral persuasion you needed real power," says Billows. "The rector needed to have the power to depose and punish generals and governors who didn't behave themselves. In other words, Rome needed a dictator."
3. He Viciously Conquered Gaul (Modern France)
Caesar proved his political genius early, forming pacts with political rivals and getting elected as consul of Rome in 59 B.C.E. at 41 years old. But if he was going to make his case for becoming the sovereign ruler of Rome, he needed to show his strength as a military leader.
For centuries, Rome and its territories had been terrorized by invading tribes from the north. Rather than just fighting off these Germanic and Celtic hordes, Caesar decided to push north and conquer the whole of Gaul, which had roughly the same borders as modern France.
By Caesar's admittedly exaggerated account of his seven-year war in Gaul, his armies killed 1 million people, enslaved another 1 million, and subjugated the remaining 1 million.
"Not anywhere near a million were killed or enslaved, but it certainly illustrates that it was a pretty atrocious process," says Billows. "Caesar believed in the Roman Empire, and he clearly felt that it was necessary for Roman power to extend up through Gaul."
More importantly, says Billows, Caesar knew from experience that political fights in Rome were seldom settled by philosophical debate. Ultimately, if he wanted to defeat his political foes, he would need to use force.
"So, the conquest of Gaul, to a great part, is about the training of an army that he could rely on to take control of Rome," says Billows.
4. He Was Behind the Phrase 'Cross the Rubicon'
In modern parlance, "crossing the Rubicon" is making a decision or taking a step from which there is no turning back. In the year 49 B.C.E., Caesar marched his army out of Gaul and back toward Rome.
"The Rubicon River was the boundary between Caesar's province as governor and Italy proper, which no governor was allowed to enter with an army," says Freeman. "When he crossed the Rubicon with his troops, he was in open rebellion against Rome."
Writing a century later, the Roman historian Plutarch described Caesar's internal turmoil as he took "the dreadful step" and "thought of the sufferings which his crossing the river would bring upon mankind, as well as "the fame of the story of it which they would leave to posterity." Indeed Caesar's decision to cross the Rubicon thrust Rome into a bloody civil war in which Caesar defeated the much larger army of the Senate led by Pompey the Great.
5. He Eschewed the Title of 'King' for 'Dictator for Life'
Billows says that Caesar's victory in the civil war effectively ended the traditional Roman system of government.
"From that point on, Rome is governed by a monarch who oversees the whole system and determines who is going to govern where, who is going to lead which armies, where Rome goes to war and where it makes peace," says Billows. "It was an efficient, effective, centralized system where everything is answerable to one central authority figure."
Officially, Caesar's title was dictator, which literally means "the one who dictates" or gives orders. In Ancient Rome, dictators were special magistrates brought in to solve temporary emergencies. Today, the word "dictator" holds strong negative connotations, but in Caesar's time the title everyone avoided was "king."
"Romans grew up on stories on how the kings had become cruel and tyrannical, and that's why they had to be overthrown so Rome could become a republic," says Billows. "Caesar's enemies constantly accused him of trying to crown himself king, and Caesar always said, 'Rome will never be ruled by a king.' But what's in a word?"
In 45 B.C.E., Caesar declared himself "dictator for perpetuity." So much for the temporary gig.
6. He Lent His Name to the Titles of 'Czar' and 'Kaiser'
When Caesar's adoptive heir Augustus became the first emperor of Rome, he went by the name Caesar Augustus, and all subsequent Roman emperors also carried the title Caesar, a sign of how venerated Caesar was as a military and political leader.
That respect/fear carried over into other cultures. The Russian word czar or tsar is a variant of Caesar, as is Kaiser in German.
7. That Fling With Cleopatra Was Mainly for Political Reasons
When Caesar and his army drove Pompey out of Rome in the civil war, Caesar chased Pompey's men all the way to Egypt. There, Caesar met Queen Cleopatra, with whom he had a secret love affair. For Cleopatra, half Caesar's age and hungry for political leverage, love likely had nothing to do with it. In fact contemporary accounts place more emphasis on Cleopatra's intellect and cunning rather than her supposed beauty.
"[Caesarion, the son she bore to Caesar] definitely gave Cleopatra status in the eyes of the Egyptians, but more importantly it bound Caesar to her," says Freeman. In fact, Cleopatra moved to Rome after their son was born and lived there until Caesar was assassinated. He even erected a statue to her, much to the dismay of the Romans.
8. Caesar Was a Terrific Writer
In addition to being a political genius and military leader, Caesar was also a prolific and accomplished writer. He wrote lengthy histories of his military conquests, penned his own speeches and even dabbled in poetry.
"I can't think of anyone else in history who has shown such extraordinary command of three different fields: politics, war and literature," says Billows.
The story goes that Caesar was such a wizard with words that he could dictate several different pieces of writing at the same time. He'd have three scribes in the same room, one taking dictation for an administrative letter, one writing up a speech to the Senate and another writing down Caesar's exploits in Gaul. Billows says Caesar would alternate seamlessly between each scribe like a chess master playing multiple games at once.
Caesar even published a joke book. They weren't his jokes, but he was a fan of humor, especially Cicero's. So, Caesar had a scribe follow Cicero around writing down his best zingers, which he assembled into a book.
Caesar also found time to reform the yearly calendar to the one we still use now.
9. He May Not Have Said 'Et Tu, Brute'
Although he had rabid support among the people, Caesar made more than his fair share of political enemies in the Roman Senate, including Marcus Junius Brutus, who had backed Pompey in the civil war. They felt that Caesar had amassed too much power.
On March 15, the infamous "Ides of March," Brutus and a cadre of conspirators murdered Caesar, stabbing him 23 times with double-edged daggers. They did it at a Senate meeting in full view of 200 witnesses, but the plotters were pardoned.
According to some sources, Caesar's last words weren't Shakespeare's famous "Et tu, Brute?" ("You, too, Brutus?") but "You, too, my child?" Either way, Caesar was shocked to see his friend among the people stabbing him.
After Caesar's death, his birth month of Quintilis was renamed in his honor as "Julius" – what we known in English as "July."
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The "Caesar haircut," unlike the salad, may owe its clipped-bangs look to Julius Caesar. Some Roman writers criticized him for being overly vain, especially about his thinning hairline, which he tried to cover up by combing his hair forward.
Caesar as Dictator
Bust of Julius Caesar. Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general, statesman, consul, and notable author of Latin prose.
After assuming control of the government upon the defeat of his enemies in 45 BCE, Caesar began a program of social and governmental reforms that included the creation of the Julian calendar. He centralized the bureaucracy of the Republic and eventually proclaimed himself “dictator in perpetuity.” It is important to note that Caesar did not declare himself rex (king), but instead, claimed the title of dictator. Contrary to the negative connotations that the modern use of the word evokes, the Roman dictator was appointed by the Senate during times of emergency as a unilateral decision-maker who could act more quickly than the usual bureaucratic processes that the Republican government would allow. Upon bringing the Roman state out of trouble, the dictator would then resign and restore power back to the Senate. Thus, Caesar’s declaration ostensibly remained within the Republican framework of power, though the huge amounts of power he had gathered for himself in practice set him up similar to a monarch.
Caesar used his powers to fill the Senate with his own partisans. He also increased the number of magistrates who were elected each year, which created a large pool of experienced magistrates and allowed Caesar to reward his supporters. He used his powers to appoint many new senators, which eventually raised the Senate’s membership to 900. All the appointments were of his own partisans, which robbed the senatorial aristocracy of its prestige and made the Senate increasingly subservient to him. To minimize the risk that another general might attempt to challenge him, Caesar passed a law that subjected governors to term limits. All of these changes watered down the power of the Senate, which infuriated those used to aristocratic privilege. Such anger proved to be fuel for Caesar’s eventual assassination.
Despite the defeat of most of his conservative enemies, however, underlying political conflicts had not been resolved. On the Ides of March (March 15) 44 BCE, Caesar was scheduled to appear at a session of the Senate, and a group of senators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus conspired to assassinate him. Though some of his assassins may have had ulterior personal vendettas against Caesar, Brutus is said to have acted out of concern for the Republic in the face of what he considered to be a monarchical tyrant. Mark Antony, one of Caesar’s generals and administrator of Italy during Caesar’s campaigns abroad, learned such a plan existed the night before, and attempted to intercept Caesar, but the plotters anticipated this and arranged to meet him outside the site of the session and detain him him there. Caesar was stabbed 23 times and lay dead on the ground for some time before officials removed his body.
A new series of civil wars broke out following Caesar’s assassination, and the constitutional government of the Republic was never restored. Caesar’s adopted heir, Octavian, later known as Augustus, rose to sole power, and the era of the Roman Empire began.
How Did Julius Caesar Change Rome?
Julius Caesar changed Rome in a number of significant ways, from conquering more lands and defeating invading armies in order to expand the Roman empire to quelling uprisings and relieving debt. He helped to turn Rome into a cultured and enlightened hub.
Julius Caesar is one of the most well-known and iconic rulers of ancient Rome. He was hugely influential in all aspects of the Roman Empire, including politics, the everyday life of citizens, war and economics. When Caesar first came to power, one of the biggest threats facing Rome was the huge mountain of debt. This caused poverty and civil war, with lenders clamouring for their money, and sent property and real estate value plummeting. There was also a distinct lack of coinage, as people hoarded currency. Caesar intervened, relieving the financial crisis and ending the civil unrest by providing free rent for a year, giving citizens the option of a new life and a fresh start in one of the foreign colonies, limiting how much currency could be kept per citizen and cancelling all interest payments due since the outbreak of the civil war. His creative and decisive action ended the civil war and relieved much of the debt and poverty at the heart of the Empire while managing to appease both lenders and borrowers.
He also sought to make Rome a cultural haven of enlightenment and beauty, attracting intellectuals, doctors and scientists from all over the Empire to the city of Rome. After his murder, his influence continued, as his will decreed that his property and estates were made public and that his amassed fortune was distributed to the citizens of Rome.
Was Julius Caesar Really a Military Genius?
Caesar’s greatest skills may actually have been in how he handled men rather than strategy and tactics.
Few men’s names resonate after two thousand years, for it is a very long stretch of time. And yet at the sound of the name “Caesar” everyone knows who he was and roughly what he did. Flawed, terrible, majestic soldier, general, orator, administrator, author—he strode large in his time, so large that he still treads in ours.
So who is Julius Caesar? Two episodes in his early life are telling. While still a teenager, he was commanded by Rome’s dictator Sulla to divorce his wife, Cornelia. He refused. Murderous Sulla confiscated Caesar’s fortune and marked him for death. The rebellious teenager fled and joined the army.
Somewhat later, when about 25, Caesar was captured by pirates who vowed to free him for a large sum of money. He said he was worth more than twice as much and sent for it, promising to hang the pirates as soon as he could. The ransom arrived and the pirates freed their captive. Caesar hired ships, caught the pirates, and crucified them—after mercifully slitting their throats.
Julius Caesar: Facts from Fiction
Do we see herein a fearless and ruthless man, ready to defy convention and smash his way to a destiny? Love him or hate him, he ran through life in bold strokes.
He was a bisexual rake. Curio said of him, “He was a husband to every woman and wife to every man” in Rome. In Gaul, his soldiers sang songs in jestful warning that wives be locked indoors until he left town.
The Conquest of Gaul
Caesar is mainly remembered for his conquest of Gaul. Indeed, this accomplishment probably had more impact on subsequent history than any of his others. Oddly, though, Caesar was not a military man, but rather a politician. He went to Gaul in large part to further his career in Rome—he needed victories, the spoils that came with them, and an army loyal to him. His timing was auspicious. This was a time when Germanic and Celtic tribes were astir and in need of restraint, and it happened that Caesar had the physical courage, administrative acumen, and mental agility to defeat one after another of them. To emphasize his dominance of Gaul, he invaded Germany and established the Rhine as a border for Roman civilization, and then he raided Britain twice in force.
His greatest victory in these Gallic wars may have come when his fortunes looked their lowest, when Vercingetorix revolted. Caesar staked all on a siege of the Gallic chieftain, but then was besieged himself by a huge relieving army of Gauls. Caesar built a double ring, one around Vercingetorix and his 30,000, another outside the first to keep the second army at bay. With luck, courage, and skill he prevailed. Then he managed Gaul so well that it remained a loyal province of Rome for hundreds of years, sparing Rome invasion and spreading Classical culture to northern Europe.
Leadership by Example
Caesar’s greatest skills may actually have been in how he handled men rather than strategy and tactics. He could err at military science, but by the example of his courage, his willingness to share the privations of his men, and his keen sense of military justice he won the loyalty of his soldiers. When he crossed the Rubicon, he commanded a much smaller force than was available to Pompey in Rome, but Pompey fled knowing that Caesar’s force was competent, loyal, and motivated.
Outnumbered more than two-to-one at Pharsalus, the decisive battle against Pompey, it was morale, training, and leadership that won the day. Caesar then went on to defeat large armies in Pontus (on the Black Sea), North Africa, and Spain. He returned to Rome and began an ambitious slate of reforms that the city and empire desperately needed. His assassination postponed those reforms until Augustus could take them up again after 15 years of civil war.
An Administrative Genius, Rather Than Master Tactician
Unquestionably, Caesar matured as he aged and his responsibilities increased. This is a major reason his persona still resonates. His genius likely tilted more toward administration than toward shifting legions to the right place at the right time. But winning the hearts of soldiers, triumphing in battles, and building empires requires first the former the second is in vain without it.
This article by Brooke C. Stoddard first appeared in the Warfare History Network on September 2, 2014.
Image: Members of Roman historical society "Gruppo Storico Romano" prepare to take part in a re-enactment of the "Ides of March", known also as the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, in downtown Rome March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile