Gaius Julius Caesar was a brilliant general, a great politician, and a powerful dictator of the roman republic. He was born on July 17, 100 BC and he was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC.
Caesar’s rise to power was not an easy one, in 73 BC he was made a pontiff in Rome. He gained a lot of popularity because of this and because he sided with those seeking power outside the circle of nobles, who at that time dominated the Roman senate. He also gained popularity with the Gauls in 68 BC by supporting them for Roman citizenship.
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Caesar became the governor of Spain in 61 BC after Crassus had helped pay his creditors after some financial issues. Military actions in Spain helped further restore Caesar’s financial security. Caesar outwitted his political enemies by passing up his triumph. He did this in order to win the election to the consulate with the support of Pompey and Crassus. At this time Crassus was the richest man in Rome. Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus formed what was known as the first triumvirate, which means a government of three men, in 60-59 BC. These actions were taken to further their political success. While the triumvirate ruled, the senate became very angered.
This led to the breakup of the senate, which gave the triumvirate even more power. Caesar also received the governorships of Illyricum, Cisalpine Gaul, and Transalpine Gaul. He was also given control over a large army that he used to rule over Gaul. He gained a lot of political strength from the Gallic Wars which lasted from 58 to 51 BC. With Caesar spending most of his time in the north, Pompey gathered most of his power by making a good relationship with the senate. The Gallic Wars were not Caesar’s most famous wars, the wars with Pompey probably hold that title.
Although Caesar’s daughter, Julia, was married to Pompey, friction between the two developed. This friction was encouraged by Crassus. The death of Julia in 54 BC and the death of Crassus in 53 BC destroyed Caesar and Pompey’s relationship. In 52 BC Pompey was made sole consul. In 50 BC Pompey joined with Caesar’s political enemies and ordered Caesar to disassemble his army. Instead, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River into Italy and fought against Pompey, which created another civil war in Rome.
In many battles, Caesar defeated Pompey which caused Pompey to flee to the east. Caesar secured Spain and then fought Pompey in Greece, defeating him at Pharsalus. Pompey escaped with some of his soldiers to Egypt, where he was eventually murdered. Caesar followed Pompey to Egypt and soon made civil war there. Caesar made Cleopatra his mistress and also made her the queen of Egypt.
Caesar led many campaigns in which he won victories all over the Roman empire. At one of these victories he used the famous words, “Veni, Vedi, Vicci”, which meant, “I came, I saw, I conquered”. Meanwhile, back in Rome, Caesar gained complete control of the Roman government.
He earned himself many political honors. In 49 BC he was appointed dictator, and eventually, he became dictator for life. He was also elected sole consul in 48 BC. From 47-46 BC, he was made tribunician sacrosanctity. Because of these accomplishments, Caesar was honored by being represented on coins and many statues. A temple was also built in his honor in 45 BC.
Caesar introduced many reforms, such as limiting the distribution of free grain, founding citizen colonies, introducing the Julian calendar, and enlarging the senate. At the same time, he reduced debts, changed taxes, and let non-Italians become Roman citizens. He met the common people’s needs which strengthened his control of the state.
In 44 BC people began fearing that Caesar would become an absolute king, because of this people who once loved him planned to murder him. These people led by Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus stabbed him at a meeting of the senate in Pompey’s theater on March 15, 44 BC.
Caesar’s life was one of the most important in Roman history. He had a great impact on the world and the Roman empire. He was perhaps the greatest ruler ever.
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