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Julius Caesar

also known asCivilization:Roman: Rome

Caius Julius Caesar

Era: Decline
100–44 BCField of Renown:military: Dictator
 Looking down upon the Rubicon, he stood a while deep in thought

Julius Caesar stands out in history as one of most influential men who ever lived. The reason for this is that he is credited for laying the groundwork of the Roman Empire, which thrived for over four hundred years after his death. At the time he lived, the republic of Rome was torn apart by political and civil strife. The tasks of administering government in many far flung provinces, building suitable infrastructure, and regulating a professional army were overwhelming to a political system run by feuding oligarchs in a single city. Julius Caesar understood the drastic reforms that would be necessary to prevent the empire from breaking apart and he made great strides during his own life in this direction, although he destroyed the republic in the process.

In his youth, Julius Caesar was popular and known to be personally courageous, but he also had a reputation as a reveler and a spendthrift, and did not show early signs of serious ambition. He did not rise to high prominence in the popular party until his late thirties, and held only minor offices until then. He was forty by the time he formed the first triumvirate with Crassus and Pompey, and at the time was the junior member. It was in the following decade, from 58 to 50 B.C., that he distinguished himself as a formidable leader in both the military and political domains. In his conquest of Gaul he is said to have taken up arms against over a million Gallic warriors, and killed another million. He completely subdued the entire region of modern France and made forays into Britain and Germany. At the same time he was achieving extraordinary military success, he wrote one of the greatest classic works of literature in the ancient world, "Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War." His personal and political popularity reached ever greater heights during this time, including everyone but the Senate and their supporters.

After Caesar had served eight years in Gaul the fearful Senate requested that he disband his armies. At that point he made the difficult decision to march to Rome. This essentially forced a civil war, but Caesar hoped to reconcile with his opponents rather than destroy them. All of Italy surrendered to him without a battle and his enemies, led by Pompey, were forced to flee to the East to raise armies there. At the battle of Pharsalia, only one year after he crossed the Rubicon, his most important enemy, Pompey, was defeated. It took another year to consolidate his power and put down minor revolts throughout the empire. At all times Caesar was as conciliatory as possible and pardoned his opponents without hesitation.

By 46 B.C. the empire was completely pacified and he returned to Rome to start his work of reform and reorganization. He had advanced ideas on many topics, from the building of roads, communication and infrastructure, to a revamped system of taxes, to a change in the very idea of Roman citizenship and voting rights. His career was cut short by assassination, but many of his ideas and reforms were carried through by later emperors. He was at the time, and still is, a very controversial character. His admirers have always seen a great defender of the people against a corrupt oligarchy, while his detractors have seen a power hungry demagogue, and an enemy of democracy. How the world might have been different if he had never lived, or perchance, if he had lived longer, is one of those perennially fascinating questions that historians have been speculating on for twenty centuries.

Key events during the life of caesar

Year Event
81 BC Flees from Rome during Sulla's reign of terror.
78 BC Returns to Rome; establishes a reputation as a fun-loving fop.
76 BC Captured by pirates. After being ransomed, hires ship, finds pirates who held him and kills them.
74 BC Returns from service in Third Mithradatic War; becomes active in the popular (Marian) party.
70 BC Military tribune in western Spain.
66 BC Pompey assumes command in Third Mithradatic War; Caesar becomes head of Popular party.
63 BC Elected Pontifix Maximus. Advocates mercy for Catiline conspirators.
62 BC Scandal involving Clodius and Caesar's wife results in divorce.
60 BC Establishes First Triumvirate with Crassus and Pompey. Pompey marries Caesar's daughter.
58 BC Assigned rule of Gaul with four legions for five years (later extended).
  Achieved great victories in Gaul. Wrote Commentaries on the War in Gaul
55 BC Invades Britain.
54 BC Julia, daughter of Caesar, wife of Pompey dies; conflict between the two men deepens.
52 BC Defeats Vercingetorix, his most resilient Gallic opponent. Pompey becomes sole consul.
50 BC Fearing Caesar, the Senate demands that he disband his army. Antony and others join Caesar in Gaul.
49 BC Caesar crosses the Rubicon, advancing unopposed to Rome. Pompey flees to Greece. Revolts in Spain put down.
48 BC Pompey is defeated at the battle of Pharsalia. Later he is murdered in Egypt.
47 BC Caesar pursues Pompey to Egypt. Places Cleopatra on the throne. Puts down revolts throughout empire.
46 BC Returns to Rome as sole ruler and begins reforms.
44 BC Assassinated on the senate floor by a group of conspirators.

Book Links
Julius Caesar  by  Jacob Abbott


Story LinksBook Links
Crossing the Rubicon  in  Thirty More Famous Stories Retold  by  Baldwin
Crossing of the Rubicon  in  Story of the Romans  by  Guerber
Julius Caesar  in  Famous Men of Rome  by  Haaren
Julius Caesar  in  Soldiers and Sailors  by  Horne
Caesar  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Kaufman
Caesar Crosses the Rubicon  in  Story of Rome  by  Macgregor
Caesar and Pompey  in  Historical Tales: 11—Roman  by  Morris
Julius Caesar, The First Emperor of Rome  in  Old World Hero Stories  by  Tappan
Caesar and His Fortune  in  Children's Plutarch: Tales of the Romans  by  Gould
Caesar  in  Roman Life in the Days of Cicero  by  Church
Conquests of Caesar  in  Helmet and Spear  by  Church
Of Julius Caesar: Soldier  in  Stories from Roman History  by  Dalkeith
Caesar's Conquests  in  Story of the Romans  by  Guerber
Patriot of Vercingetorix  in  Story of France  by  Macgregor
Caesar Praises His Tenth Legion  in  Story of Rome  by  Macgregor
Ariovistus, the First Great German  in  History of Germany  by  Marshall
Julius Caesar  in  On the Shores of the Great Sea  by  Synge
First Coming of Julius Caesar  in  Stories from English History: I  by  Church
Coming of the Romans  in  Our Island Story  by  Marshall
Cleopatra and Caesar  in  Cleopatra  by  Abbott
Julius Casear  in  Fifty Famous Stories Retold  by  Baldwin
Caesar in Gaul  in  Story of Old France  by  Guerber
Julius Caesar Is Captured by Pirates  in  Story of Rome  by  Macgregor
Caesar and the Pirates  in  Historical Tales: 11—Roman  by  Morris
Assassination of Caesar  in  Historical Tales: 11—Roman  by  Morris
Julius Caesar as Explorer  in  Book of Discovery  by  Synge
Julius Caesar  in  Plutarch's Lives  by  Weston

Image Links
The Pirates at Anchor  in Julius Caesar Crossing the Rubicon  in Julius Caesar The Elephants made Torch-bearers  in Julius Caesar
Burning of Caesar's Body  in Julius Caesar Caius Julius Caesar  in Roman Life in the Days of Cicero The Death of Caesar  in Stories from Roman History
The Assassination of Julius Caesar  in Augustus: His Life and Work Bust of Caesar  in Story of the Romans Death of Caesar  in Story of the Romans
Julius Caesar  in Famous Men of Rome Vercingetorix before Caesar  in Famous Men of Rome Caesar crossing the Rubicon  in Famous Men of Rome
The death of Caesar  in Famous Men of Rome Generals of the Roman Republic  in Greatest Nations: Rome Caesar Crossing the Rubicon  in Greatest Nations: Rome
Cleopatra Brought before Caesar  in Greatest Nations: Rome Caesar at Cleopatra's Court  in Greatest Nations: Rome The Triumph of Caesar  in Greatest Nations: Rome
Antony Offering to Crown Caesar  in Greatest Nations: Rome The Murder of Caesar  in Greatest Nations: Rome Julius Caesar in Soldiers and Sailors
Julius Caesar in Soldiers and Sailors The Ides of March  in Soldiers and Sailors Vercingetorix threw his arms at the feet of his conquerors  in Story of France
Looking down upon the stream, he stood awhile deep in thought.  in Story of Rome Caesar paused on the banks of the Rubicon.  in On the Shores of the Great Sea Caesar Crossing the Rubicon.  in Old World Hero Stories
Caesar and the Pilot in Plutarch's Lives The murder of Caesar in Plutarch's Lives

Contemporary Short Biography
Pompey Very renowned general. Defeated pirates. Led opposition to Caesar in civil war.
Crassus Very wealthy general. Fought Spartacus. Formed triumvirate with Pompey and Caesar.
Cicero Orator. Leader of aristocratic party. Put down Catiline conspiracy. Well known writer.
Cato (the younger) Highly principled republican who opposed Caesar, killed self after defeat of Pompey.
Cleopatra Queen of Egypt. Lover of both Caesar and Mark Antony.
Antony With Octavius, led empire after Caesar's death. Liaison with Cleopatra caused downfall.