Julius Caesar: Who Was This Dictator of Rome?

06/08/2021

     Who was Julius Caesar? Discover the history of this icon. Contrary to what many people think, Caesar was not a Roman Emperor, but a DICTATOR. It was he who marked the transition from the Roman Republic.

Who was Julius Caesar?

     Caius Julius Caesar - July 13, 100 BC - March 15, 44 BC was a Roman patrician, military leader and politician. He played a critical role in transforming the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Much of the historiography of Caesar's military campaigns was written by himself or by sources contemporary with him, most of them letters and speeches by Cicero and manuscripts by Sallust. His biography was later best written by historians Suetonius and Plutarch. Caesar is considered by many academics to be one of the greatest military commanders in history.

The most interesting thing about Julius Caesar is that from him onwards, all future Roman emperors were named "Caesars".

Caesar was born Humble:

     Born into a patrician family of little influence, Julius Caesar gradually gained his place in Roman public life. In 60 BC, he and politicians Marcus Crassus and Pompey the Great formed an alliance (the First Triumvirate) that ended up dominating Roman politics for years. His attempts to hold onto power through populist tactics faced resistance from the conservative aristocratic classes of the Roman senate, led by men like Cato and Cicero.

     Caesar gained good military reputation and money during the Gallic Wars (58-50 BC), expanding Roman domains north to the English Channel, annexing Gaul (present-day France), and east to the Rhine (within present-day Germany ). He also became the first Roman general to launch a military incursion into Britannia.


Civil War:

     His achievements gave him enormous military power and respect, which ended up threatening the position of his political companion, and now rival, Pompey the Great. The latter had switched sides after Crassus' death in 53 BC and now supported the conservative wing of the senate. With the war in Gaul over, senators in Rome demanded that Caesar dismiss his army and return to the capital.

     Caesar refused to obey and in 49 BC crossed the Rubicon River with his legions, entering Italy armed (in violation of Roman law which prevented a general from marching into Rome). This precipitated a violent civil war, which ended in Caesar's victory, with him assuming full power in the Republic.


Absolute Dictator:

     In 49 BC, Julius Caesar assumed command in Rome as an absolute dictator. He then initiated a series of social and political reforms, including the creation of the Julian calendar. He continued to centralize the Republic's power and bureaucracy for years to come, giving himself great authority. But the wound of the civil war was still open and the political opposition in Rome began to conspire to oust him from power.

     The conspiracies culminated in the Ides of March in 44 BC with the assassination of Caesar by a group of aristocratic senators led by Marcus Junius Brutus. His death would precipitate a new civil war for the spoils of power and thus the republican constitutional government was never fully restored. His great-nephew, Caio Octaviano, was made his heir in a will. In 27 BC, the young man would go down in history as Augustus, the first Roman emperor, adopting the title of Caesar and claiming his political legacy for himself.

In the case of Caesar's death, the phrase "Até tu Brutus" is just a dramatic work by William Shakespeare, not really corresponding with his last words.

Julius Caesar and Cleopatra:

     Julius Caesar and Cleopatra became lovers, staying together in Alexandria for over a year. The two could not marry, as Roman law did not recognize the marriage of a citizen to a non-Roman. However, relationship with a barbarian was not considered adultery. The two would have fathered a son together, Caesarion, and Cleopatra visited Rome at least once, residing in Caesar's villa on the banks of the River Tiber.

     At the end of 48 BC, Caesar was again appointed dictator, with a one-year term. After solving the problems in Egypt, he left for the Middle East, where he won an easy victory against King Farnaces II of Pontus; his victory was so quick and so easy that he would have scoffed at Pompey's earlier difficult victory over them. Upon defeating yet another enemy, Caesar would have said his famous phrase "Veni, vidi, vici" ("I came, vi, vici").

     Cleopatra was a beautiful and intelligent woman, after her time in Rome, she influenced a lot in local fashion, as she was an authentic Egyptian and dressed as such. When Cleopatra went to Rome for the first time and the Romans got to know her style and dress... they fell in love. All women wanted to be like Cleopatra!


Death:

     According to Plutarch, when Julius Caesar arrived, Senator Tillius Cimbro presented him with a petition to revoke the exile imposed on his brother. The other conspirators approached under the pretext of offering support and surrounded Caesar. According to Plutarch and Suetonius, Caesar dismissed the request, but Cimbro grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him by the tunic. Caesar then yelled at Cimbro: "What do you mean, this is violence!"

     At the same time, Casca picked up his dagger and went for Caesar's neck. The latter, however, turned quickly and took Casca by the arm. According to Plutarch, Caesar would have said, in Latin, "Bark, you villain, what are you doing?" Casca, frightened, shouted in Greek "Help, brother!" A few moments later, everyone in the group, including Bruto, attacked the dictator.

     Caesar tried to pull away but, blinded by the blood running from his head, he stumbled and fell. Even on the ground, in the portico, he continued to be stabbed. According to Eutropius, around 60 men participated in the murder. Caesar was reportedly stabbed 23 times.

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