Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar was born on the thirteenth
day of the month Quintilis in the year of 100 BC. His full name was Gaius

Julius Caesar, the same as his father’s. Gaius was his given name and Julius
was his surname. He was a strong political and military leader who changed
the history of the Greco-Roman world. This paper will answer the following
questions: What happened during his early political career? How did he
become a strong dictator of the Roman Empire? What events led up to the
making of the first triumvirate? What happened during his reign as dictator
of Rome? What events led up to his assassination? Julius Caesar is probably
the most famous leader in history. (Grant, table of dates p.1, and foreword

When he was young, Caesar lived through
one of the worst decades in the history of Rome. The city was assaulted
and captured by Roman armies twice. First, in eighty-seven BC by the leaders
of the populares. (Caesar’s aunt and uncle, Marius and Cinna.) Cinna was
killed the year that Caesar married Cornelia. The second attack against
the city happened in eighty-two BC. Marius’ enemy Sulla, leader of the
optimates, carried out the attack. On each occasion the massacre of political
opponents was followed by the confiscation of their property. (Fowler,

Caesar knew that his public speaking needed
improvement, he therefore announced that he was leaving to study on the
island of Rhodes. His professor was the famous Greek rhetorician, Apollonius

Molon. When he was off the coast of Anatolia pirates kidnapped him. They
demanded a large ransom for his return. Caesar broke free from the pirates
and captured a large number of them. He then returned to Rome to engage
in a normal political career. (Grant, p.9-11)

In the Roman political world Pompey and

Crassus challenged the dominance of the optimates. Quintus Latatius Catulus
and Lucius Licinius Lucullus led the optimates. Sulla was responsible for
creating their careers. Caesar married Pompeia after Cornelia’s death.

Then, in sixty-five BC he was appointed aedile. The aedile was in charge
of the programs of the city such as games, spectacles, and shows. As aedile,

Caesar gained claim to the leadership of the populares. (Grant, p.12)

Before leaving Rome to govern Spain for
a year, Caesar divorced his wife because of an allegation that she had
been involved in the offense of Publis Clodius. Clodius was awaiting trial
for breaking into Caesar’s home the previous December. While on his trip
to Spain, Caesar was very successful. He returned in a short time with
considerable military glory and enough money to pay off all his debts.
(Abbott, p.64)

A short while after his trip, Caesar was
elected for consul in fifty-nine BC. He joined a political alliance with

Pompey and Crassus. This alliance was named the first triumvirate. Pompey
possessed a great influence through his splendid abilities and military
renown. Crassus was powerful through his wealth. Caesar developed a plan
to reconcile them, and then of favoring himself with their united aid in
accomplishing his own deeds. (Abbott, p.71)

Caesar’s purpose in the triumvirate was
to gain a large military command. Pompey wanted a part of the eastern settlement
and land allotments for his discharged troops. An agrarian bill authorizing
the purchase of land for Pompey’s soldiers was passed in fifty-nine BC.

This law did not go over well with the senators because they were selfish
with the lands they had annexed to their estates.

The Senators tried to block legislation
with the help of Marcus Bibulus. He postponed the voting by declaring that
the heavens were unfavorable to legislation. Caesar disregarded Bibulus’
behavior, and the remainder of the legislative program was carried out.
(Thaddeus, p.116)

Caesar had control of three provinces for
five years. They were Cisalpine Gaul, Transalpine Gaul, and Illyria. Caesar
became determined to conquer and rule the entirety of Gaul. After his defeat
of the Belgic tribes in the north, and the submission of the maritime tribes
on the Atlantic seaboard, he believed he had conquered the entire area
of Gaul. Caesar then decided to make two expeditions, one across the Rhine
and the second across the Straits of Dover to Britain. While in Britain,
he received the submission of the supreme commander of the southeast Britons,

Cassivellaunus. (Grant, p.55)

In my opinion, by fifty-three BC the first
triumvirate had totally broken apart. Caesar now had an extreme amount
of personal power, wealth, and prestige. His relations with Pompey had
ended when Caesar’s daughter Julia died. (Pompey was married to Julia.)

Then, Crassus left for his province of Syria with the intention of at last
overcoming the military glory of Caesar and Pompey. While in Mesopotamia,
the Parthians