Julius Ceasar

Julius Caesar, Life of


Julius Caesar was a strong leader for the Romans who changed the course

of the history of the Greco - Roman world decisively and irreversibly. (3)

With his strength and courage 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

strategies. (3)

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 survived. (2),(3)

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. (1)

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. (3)

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.(1), (2)

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. (2)

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