Gaius Julius Caesar was an ancient Roman general and statesman. He was one of the founders of the new Roman Empire who abolished the Roman Republic system and strengthened the nation’s powers. He was not only an intelligent politician but also a leader and genius war tactician.
Julius led the Roman legions in Gallic Wars before defeating Pompey in a civil war and ruled the Roman Republic as a dictator from 49 BC until he died in 44 BC Caesar became one of the most influential leaders in history.
He was particularly famous in the Roman Republic due to a series of military triumphs in the Gallic Wars, led by him, completed by 51 BC, and the considerable expansion of Roman territory. During this time, he invaded Britain and constructed bridges called bridges across the Rhine.
Early Life of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar was born to a patrician family, the gens Julia that claimed descent from Julus, son of the famous Trojan prince Aeneas, who was rumored to be the son of goddess Venus.
The Julii were from the Alban region and were mentioned as one of the leading Alban houses that settled in Rome after the fall of Alba Longa in the mid-7th century BC after the destruction of Alba Longa. They obtained patrician status along with other patrician Alban families.
The Julii were also present in the battle of Bovillae, as revealed by an ancient inscription on an altar in the town’s theatre. They spoke of the people making sacrifices according to the lege Albana or Alban rituals for years.
The Caesarian Section
Pliny, the Elder, attributes the name “Caesar” to an ancestor born by the Caesarean section. According to historians, Caesar was the first one born by the Caesarian method, and hence the name is attributed to him as a result.
The Pirates Captured Caesar
The pirates captured Caesar as he crossed the Aegean Sea on his way to Rhodes to study philosophy and oratory. According to some reports, Caesar acted more like an oppressive leader than a hostage among the pirates. The pirates released him after Caesar paid the ransom. Later on, Caesar employed a private navy to track them down and had the pirates crucified for their crimes.
Caesar started his political career in earnest. In 69 BC, he became the military consul and later a quaestor (a person in charge of public revenue and expenditures) of a Roman province. He married a woman named Pompeia, the Sulla’s granddaughter,
In 65 BC, Caesar was elected an aedile, a prominent Roman magistrate, responsible for public buildings, games, etc. As a result, he hosted costly games in the Circus in Maximus, which attracted the general public, but unfortunately, he fell into heaps of debts because of them. Two years later, he was elected as Pontifex Maximus, the chief high priest of the Pontiffs College back in Ancient Rome.
Caesar divorced his wife Pompeia in 62 BC after a politician caused great controversy by disguising himself as a woman and sneaking into sacred women’s celebrations sponsored by Pompeia. Along with like-minded statesmen, Crassus and Pompey, Caesar formed the First Triumvirate in 60 BC, a political alliance to handle the Roman political affairs which would dominate for several years.
A few years later, Caesar and his fellows created a political group called Populares. As they attempted to gain power through their party, they were met with opposition from the Optimates, which were pro-establishment in the Roman Senate, including Cato the Younger, who had the support of Cicero on several occasions.
The First Triumvirate
Caesar got appointed as the Governor of Spain. He was elected as the Senior Roman consul in 59 BC after a series of successful military and political operations and the support of Pompey, leading general and statesman, and Marcus Licinius Crassus, known as the richest man in Rome.
Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus quickly formed an informal partnership known as the First Triumvirate, which was united due to the marriage of Caesar’s daughter Julia to Pompey. The Roman Senate was scared because they knew that a collaboration of three influential individuals would be unstoppable. They were right, and the triumvirate quickly took control of Rome.
Conquest of Gaul
Caesar became the governor of the vast region of Gaul in 58 BC, where he commanded a large army. Caesar led many great campaigns to conquer and stabilize the province during the Gallic Wars, acquiring a fierce military leader reputation.
He constructed a bridge across the Rhine River into Germanic territories and crossed the English Channel into British territory. On the other hand, his remarkable success in the province made Pompey resent him, complicating the already fragile relationship between Pompey and Crassus.
Julius Caesar and Cleopatra
The child Pharaoh named Ptolemy VIII killed Pompey to prevent Caesar from invading Egypt on September 28, 48 BC. When Caesar arrived in Egypt, Ptolemy presented him with Pompey’s severed head.
After some time, Caesar found himself in a civil war between Ptolemy and his Egyptian co-regent Cleopatra. Caesar ended up falling in love with Cleopatra and, as a result, collaborated with her to dispose of Ptolemy and make her the ruler of Egypt.
The couple never married, but their long-term affair gave birth to Ptolemy XV, also known as Caesarion.
Caesar spent the next few years conquering the Middle East, Africa, and Spain, defeating his enemies and what remained of Pompey’s supporters. In 46 BC, he became a dictator of Rome for ten years.
Caesar’s success infuriated his political opponents, laying the groundwork for the eventual ultimate end of the Roman Republic. He started making several radical changes to help Rome’s lower and middle class by:
Controlling the distribution of subsidized grain
Raising the Senate’s size to represent more people
Reducing the government debt
Supporting military veterans
Giving Roman citizenship to people living in Rome’s distant areas
Rearranging the Roman tax code
Creating the Julian calendar
In 44 BC. Caesar declared himself dictator for life. On the other hand, his crusade for total power did not go very well with many Roman Politicians. A group of senators wanted to kill him because they thought he would become an emperor someday.
Together with the support of his veteran army, these accomplishments threatened Pompey’s status, which he had reconciled with the Senate following Crassus’s death in 53 BC. After the end of the Gallic Wars, the Senate ordered Caesar to relinquish command of his military forces and return to Rome.
The senators, followed by Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, and Marcus Junius Brutus, stabbed Caesar 23 times, ending his reign and life as he fell bleeding into the Senate floor at the foot of a Pompey statue on the Ides of March.
Julius Caesar – One of the Pioneers of the Roman Empire
Julius Caesar was a famous and influential leader of his time. He was a great politician and statesman who, despite the hardships, faced his problems without giving up. Caesar revolutionized and changed the structure of the Roman Republic and made it into The Great Roman Empire that we’ve heard about so much from our childhood. We can learn a lot by examining his life, especially his war tactics and how he conquered territories and defeated his enemies.