A baby was born on July 12 or 13 of 100 BC in Rome. Little did the proud parents of this baby know that he would rule most of the known world. This baby was born to the name of Gaius, his personal name, Julius was the name of his family’s clan and the name of his family was Caesar meaning hairy. Caesar was such an amazing man that many people couldn’t believe that he was born the same way as them. Over time stories have arisen about Caesar’s birth. One story says that Caesar was pulled from an incision in his mother’s stomach. This is where the medical term of Cesarean section came from, from Caesar’s birth.
Not everyone paid that much attention to the birth of Caesar, it was overshadowed by exploits of his Uncle Gaius Marius. Marius was a politician, he was a “new man” or a plebeian politician. He married into the aristocratic Caesar family so he would have a name to back up his words. Marius did not receive a first-class education or a lot of other advantages some politicians had. Marius was elected consul in 108 BC, once in office he proved himself as a brilliant general. He persuaded the senate to send him to Africa and replace the general in the war there. He took over for General Metellus.
Soon he ended the war that had been dragging on for many years. When he returned to Rome Marius found another chance for fame. Nomadic German tribes had invaded the north of Italy and winning a couple battles over Roman armies. Marius took the spotlight away from this little bundle of joy named Caesar. No matter what he wanted he was propelled into politics. Many of his relatives were senators or held other important political offices. He listened to many political discussions between his family which had substantial influences on him. He was trained to be a politician by his tutor Antonius Gnipho.
He studied Greek and Latin literature, philosophy, and most important, rhetoric or the art of persuasive argument. At the age of twelve he was brought to the senate house to watch speeches and debates. As a kid he wrote numerous poems and plays. Augustus believed that these writings might tarnish his reputation, when he became emperor he burned all of Caesar works. Caesar was a very handsome boy and for that matter man too. He dressed in a style all his own. He was not very strong as boy. All male children were expected to be good athletes. Caesar acquired skills in running, fencing, and horseback riding.
He became capable of physical feats that would astonish his childhood friends. His health was a bit frail as a kid. At an early age he became somewhat deaf and after he was thirty he suffered occasionally from fits of epilepsy. He was rather tall for a man from his time, he grew to be about five feet eight inches tall. In Roman tradition the fathers arranged their children’s’ marriages at an early age. Caesar’s father arranged his marriage with a young woman named Cossutia. Caesar hated this idea. He wanted to control his own life. He had a strong will of his own.
But he had lots of respect for his father so he agreed to marry Cossutia. The marriage did not last long, only a few months. Soon after the wedding Caesar divorced his bride. A little later Caesar’s father died. When Caesar was nineteen he fell deeply in love with a woman named Cornelia. Cornelia was Cinna’s daughter and Cinna was Marius’ most powerful colleague and co-consul. This entangled Caesar even more with politics. Having Marius as an uncle and Cinna as a father-in-law. Soon after the marriage Caesar and Cornelia had a daughter, whom they named Julia after his aunt and Marius’ wife.
Marius and Cinna were elected consuls while Sulla was at war with Mithridates in 86 BC. Soon after both Cinna and Marius died. It left their party leaderless and could not stop Sulla from taking control of the republic. When Sulla took control he forced Caesar to divorce Cornelia as a test of loyalty. He refused to divorce the love of his life. He knew that men had been killed for far less serious things. He knew his life was in danger, he avoided execution by leaving Rome for the hilly country side near Rome. Caesar eluded hunters and police with a small group of his slaves for a few weeks.
Then he became weak and sick from exposure, exhaustion, and a lack of sleep since he had been sleeping on the ground. While he was sick his slaves carried him around. One night Caesar and his slaves ran into one of Sulla’s men in the hills, even in his state of being he managed to keep the man from arresting him and bringing him into Rome. Soon after this incident Caesar found out some of his powerful friends were going to try and get him a pardon. He returned to Rome. After Cornelia nursed him back to health he was summoned to the forum.
He went there and came face to face with Sulla who with a slight move of hand could have him executed on the spot. His friends pleaded that he was just a boy; hotheaded, and his refusal had nothing to do with politics. Sulla granted Caesar a pardon by saying, “You have made your point, and you can have him, but always bear in mind that one Caesar is worse than a dozen Mariuses. ” Even though Caesar had a pardon he knew that he was not safe in Rome. He would leave the first chance he got. In 81 BC he got his chance. He was offered a spot on the staff of proconsul Thermus. He immediately excepted the offer.
Thermus was going to Asia Minor to control the rebellious Mytileneans. Soon after arriving in Asia Minor Caesar was sent to make sure Nicomedes, king of Bithynia on the Black Sea, had kept his promise to bring his fleet of ships to help Thermus control the Mytileneans. When Caesar arrived in Bithynia he was astonished by the king’s luxuries. The king really showed off his wealth. On Caesar’s first night in Bithynia he slept on a bed of gold and on the second he was the guest of honor at a banquet. Caesar and Nicomedes became close friends and the king gave his young friend who he had come to admire gifts of money.
Caesar did not forget his mission and the ships were sent to Thermus’ aid. Caesar had to leave Bithynia and return to his duties in the army, which he did reluctantly. Mytilene was taken by storm and Caesar won the civic crown, Rome’s highest award for courage. Caesar was kept busy with administrative duties in Asia Minor. Caesar was going to join up with the navy to stop the pirates in the eastern Mediterranean until he got word that Sulla was dead. Caesar was now twenty-two and he would start his political career. He returned to Rome and had a joyous reunion with his wife and daughter.
He refused to ally himself with the Sulla or the Marius political party. He decided not to be a politician just yet. For the time being he wrote poetry and touched down in science. He through huge parties that plunged him in to debt. Many money lenders felt that Caesar would be in a position to pay them back many times over. Caesar knew he could make a name for himself by prosecuting or defending an official who had committed crimes while in office. Caesar decided he would prosecute the former governor of Macedonia, Gnaeus Dolabella, who had used public funds greedily.
Caesar’s speeches and case was well organized and made a good impression on the judges but Caesar lost the case. Dolabella had hired two of the best lawyers in Rome. Caesar’s debts were growing and his career was baffled again. He decided to leave Rome again. He boarded a ship for the East. His ship was nearing the coast of Asia Minor when pirates attacked the ship and took Caesar prisoner. They demanded a ransom of about thirty thousand dollars but Caesar bitterly told the pirates he was worth seventy-five thousand dollars. The pirates happily changed the ransom.
Caesar’s friends quickly set out to raise the money. Caesar was held hostage by his captors for thirty-eight days. During those five weeks Caesar acted as if the pirates were his body guards and not captors. He wrote verses and speeches and the pirates that did not admire his speeches and verses, he called them illiterate to their faces. He would often threaten to hang them they attributed this to a boyish playfulness. They were very wrong. As soon as the ransom arrived he scurried off to make a force of men from nearby towns offering them all the money and possessions they could get off the ship.
He apprehended all of the pirates and carried out the threat he made while prisoner, he hung every one of them there and then. He continued to his original destination, he island of Rhodes. On the island he studied rhetoric with the famous teacher Apollonius Molon. He soon found out that his mother’s brother, Cotta, the priest, had died and now there was an open spot in the College of Priests. The seat was being held for Caesar. This post was important because it could lead to the office of High Priest of Rome. In 74 BC, the twenty-six year old, Caesar, went back to Rome to try and jump-start his career again.
Caesar had four wives. His first wife was Cossutia. The marriage was arranged by Caesar’s father. The marriage only lasted a couple months and then they were divorced. His second wife was Cornelia, Cinna’s daughter. Caesar fell deeply in love with her when he was nineteen. Cornelia died while Caesar was quaestor. His third wife was Pompeia she was Sulla’s grand-daughter. He married into the family of one of his enemies. A festival that was being held by Pompeia excluded all men from the holy festival. Men were not even allowed to know what happens at the festival.
On the day of the festival Caesar had to leave his house, during the day he got an urgent message from his mother telling him to come home. When he came home he found Clodius hiding in the house watching the events. Caesar divorced Pompeia a few days later because he thought that she had snuck Clodius in. His last wife was in 59 BC to Calpurnia and was politically motivated. Piso was Calpurnia’s father and the year after the marriage Caesar arranged for Piso to be consul. Calpurnia remained Caesar’s wife till his death in 44 BC. Caesar had many important roles and offices. His uncle, Marius, got him his first job.
Marius announced that Caesar would be the Priest of Jupiter. In those days Romans worshipped the traditional gods. Many complex rituals were binded to the worshipping to the gods. Deserving young adults were given ceremonial posts in religious institutions. One of his functions was to be the junior clerk for the Vestal Virgins. The Vestal Virgins were high women in Roman society who served the goddess Vesta. Caesar respected these ladies. His next high position was as one of the priests in the college of Pontiffs. He got this role when his uncle, Cotta, suddenly died. He worked hard at this job.
In 68 BC Caesar decided to run for quaestor, or officers who tended to the budget, checked expenditures, and were responsible for finances. He need an enormous sum of money to run for office, which he did not have. He needed a financier. His financier was Crassus who would turn out to be an important part of Caesar’s life. Caesar won the election easily but he owed Crassus a hefty sum of money. Caesar did an exceptionally good job as Quaestor. At this time there were twenty other Quaestors. Quaestors were automatically members of the Senate. As Quaestors he spent money very quickly.
His debts grew to 830,000 dollars but Crassus was there to bail him out. Next, Caesar got an administrative position in Spain. He spent a while in Spain and was fascinated by the culture in Spain. He once stared a statue of Alexander the Great and started to weep saying that Alexander had died as old as Caesar was at the time Caesar continued on about how he had not accomplished anything compared to Alexander the Great. When Caesar returned to Rome he was elected aedile, or people who supervised civic affairs, such as water supply, roads, the public games, and the repair of buildings.
The election cost him more than the previous one for quaestor. Part of his job was to amuse the people of Rome. Caesar outdid anyone in history by hiring no fewer than 640 gladiators for just one performance and he armored them in silver. His debts grew even larger but he never kept accounts of the money he owed. Caesar became populare’s party leader. Then Caesar married off one of his sisters to a rich moneylender. Soon after he became Pontifex Maximus, or the head of the College of Pontiffs who were priest. In other words he became the high priest of Rome.
He had no right to become Pontifex Maximus, nobody this young had ever become Pontifex Maximus. When the role of Pontifex Maximus opened up he made a bid for it. He was not only confirmed as Pontifex Maximus it helped him to become respected by conservatives and it let him live in official residence. People would throw stones at consuls or tribunes but to throw a stone at the Pontifex Maximus was a terrible felony. One of his enemies named Cato yelled at Caesar and called him a drunkard, everyone knew Caesar was not a drunkard, so it made Cato look ridiculous.
Finally, this gave Caesar a little more popular and he was elected praetor, or a senior judge, this was an important post. As praetor Caesar distinguished himself by being a fair-minded and able judge. He worked hard and found out the leadership problems of Rome. When his praetorship was over he was forty-one years old. Caesar then got the governorship of Spain. This was his first time being at the head of an army. As governor he always had an army at his disposal. If he did not get this governorship he would have been ruined, at that time he owed 3,250,000 dollars, the largest sum in Rome’s history.
They tried to keep him from going to Spain but once again Crassus and some other rich men bailed him out. As governor of Spain he sold prisoners of war into slavery and he took a share of the local taxes which was all considered proper to do. He made lots of money by doing these things and soon had enough to pay back all his debts. His money problems were behind him. Caesar did a very good job in Spain. He fought a small war, restrained an army of rebels in Lusitania, reached Galicia and looked at the Atlantic for the first time. He proved himself to be a great leader and administrator.
When he returned to Rome he decided to run for consulship. There were a few obstacles that Caesar had to overcome. Caesar had to get past the senate, controlled by the Optimates, who would not allow Caesar to have a triumph in spite of his victories in Spain. Second, the senate decided that consuls should not be able to get big posts after their terms. Caesar wanted to be pro-consul after his term as consul. The senate decided he should get the role of commissioner of forests. Caesar decided to make what is now called the First Triumvirate.
The First Triumvirate consisted of Caesar, Crassus and Pompey. Together they were invincible. Pompey had the army, Crassus had the money, and Caesar had the political genius. It was formed in 60 BC, the next year Caesar was elected consul. He pulled some strings and instead of becoming his assigned role of Commissioner of Forests he became pro-consul for Cisalpine Gaul and Illyria for five years. Soon after he became pro-consul for Transalpine Gaul. By 56 BC most of Gaul had been subdued. His five years as pro-consul for Gaul were extended five more years.
The Senate would prosecute Caesar for many crimes if he entered Italy, so he stayed out of Italy until he could be elected consul and be immune from prosecution. The Senate decided Caesar would have to disband his army by a certain date or he would become a public enemy. When Caesar got the news of what the Senate decided he pondered for many days on what to do. He finally came to a conclusion, he decided he would march on Rome. This was the toughest decision Caesar ever made in his entire life. He knew a civil war would be a sure bet but the events may lead him to being a dictator.
What he was going to do would destroy the Roman republic. If he did not do it his career and life would be doomed. The Rubicon river was the southern boundary line of his control. If he passed it he would be a public enemy. The Rubicon is not an impressive-looking stream. The water was brown and muddy. Yet this river could change the course of history. In 49 BC Caesar and his men crossed the Rubicon. It is said that as Caesar crossed ghosts appeared on the coast of the river and flames shot up in the sky, it is even said that the gods could be heard moaning but Caesar paid no attention.
Caesar was greatly outnumbered and was at a major disadvantage. Caesar took control of Italy in an incredible six weeks. Caesar walked into Rome and the frightened senate named him dictator. He resigned from his dictatorship after only eleven days and made himself consul as he originally planned. Caesar had five triumphs in his lifetime. After one of his victories he was again appointed dictator the length of the term was undefined. Then in 46 BC he was elected to a third dictatorship, meanwhile he served four terms as consul and was also tribune. All this time he had held his position of Pontifex Maximus.
Caesar was the first person in Roman history to get the permanent title of Imperator which meant victorious general. As dictator he made many reforms. Caesar redistributed state lands in Italy and founded new colonies overseas. This gave land to thousands of ex-soldiers who had no land. He began such public works projects as building roads and buildings and draining marshes around Rome. This gave jobs to thousands of Romans who had not been able to find work. He planned and paid for gladiatorial games that were free to the public. This kept the poor and the idle from turning into angry mobs.
He doubled the size of the Senate. This made each senator less powerful but it also gave business people a chance to become senators. He cut back the activities of publicans. He gave Roman citizenship to Greeks, Spaniards, and Gauls. He adopted a new calendar based on the Egyptian calendar. Caius Cassius was the ringleader in a conspiracy against Caesar. Cassius gathered a small group of citizens to join him in a plot to murder Caesar. In those days the killing of a ruler for patriotic reasons was not a crime! In February of 44 BC he was appointed dictator for life. This pushed his assassinators over the edge.
Caesar wanted to lead armies again in new and glorious conquests. He made plans to leave Rome for two years and lead an army. He was to leave on March 19. This meant the assassination had to take place soon, Cassius had to make final plans. Caesar knew something was wrong he had spies everywhere and a soothsayer openly said that he would be killed. He refused to take precautions and even dismissed his bodyguard. This whole time he refused to be crowned king. Caesar was scheduled to attend a meeting on the Ides, or fifteenth, of March, that was the day the conspirators would attack.
On March fourteenth Caesar’s wife had terrible dreams of her husband’s death. In the morning his wife pleaded with him not to go. Caesar postponed the session. One of the conspirators named Decimus Brutus came to Caesar’s house and persuaded him to come to the session. He gave in and came to the session. His wife’s try to save him failed. When Caesar entered the Senate a group formed around him and stabbed him to death. He was stabbed 23 times then fell on a statue of Pompey. So Caesar died. Caesar had a great life and then was stabbed because people were jealous of him.