Julius Caesar served as a key ruler in creating the Roman Empire. He is considered one of the world’s greatest generals and a wise politician. He took opportunities and used them to their fullest for self improvement. Characteristics such as confidence and charisma made Caesar a born leader. Over the course of his lifetime he flew through the political ladder in the Roman Republic and set forth a new way of ruling as a dictator. He was born as Gaius Julius Caesar on 13 July 100 B. C. , the only son of Gaius Julius Caesar and Aurelia. He did have two other sisters, Julia Caesaris the elder and younger.
In Roman naming practice a child is given three names at birth, a praenomen, a clan or family names (Julii), and a cognomen, which is a nickname that distinguishes the person from another. He was born and raised in Subura of Rome which was very poor. His family didn’t have the money for a home on Palatine Hill. The Julii lost some of their former glory because they were one of the last known Patrician (aristocratic) families. This was inconvenient at the time because political power was in the descendants of the old Plebeian families.
These are those who had married into old patricians and now joined were now known as the Nobility. He was only expected to stay at the bottom of the political ladder. Also, Rome was in a period of unrest and civil war. The empire had grown in size and cheap labor had taken over. This lead to much unemployment. During the time he was born, Caesar’s uncle, Gaius Marius, was consul. He had saved the Roman republic several years before by defeating two Germanic tribes, the Teutones and the Cimbri . At age 16, Caesar’s father died at Pisa while on military duty.
From then on he knew his life would be a challenge. He wanted to restore his families glory and make a name for himself. The same year in 84 B. C. he married the daughter of Cinna and became a part of their already distinguished family. In 82 BC Sulla became dictator. Sulla was given extraordinary powers covering justice, military, and government. Caesar was on the list of people to be exiled. Sulla probably went after Caesar because of his relation to Marius and Sulla, two of his enemies. Any offspring of that marriage would be considered a threat to him.
His family pleaded for his life and he was spared, but stripped of his inheritance. In order to pacify the situation, Caesar left Rome and joined the army. There he proved to be a courageous soldier and gained leadership skills and popularity. Before returning to Rome he went to Rhodes to study oratory under Apollonius Molon. This would be very beneficial in climbing Rome’s political ladder. On this way there he was captured by pirates and held hostage for 40 days. He was more than what they bargained for, showing authority over them. When he was released he had them crucified.
Caesar’s way with words has always been his greatest asset. “Julius Caesar could make you do what he thought you should do by giving you a speech” (Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire). During his time away Sulla died from liver failure. This made it easier for him to return to Rome in 78 B. C. , which was currently lead by consul Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. In 69 B. C. Caesar was elected quaestor and went to serve in Hispania. To rid himself of debt he did anything to earn him money and fame. In 59 B. C. he tried for consul, the highest office in Rome, in hopes of receiving Gaul as his province.
In order to make this happen, he won the support of Crassus (the richest man in Rome) who funded Caesar’s political campaigns. Later he convinced Pompey to work with them in order to win the election. They were known as the First Triumvirate. Between the three of them they had enough money and influence to control the public economy. To further strengthen the alliance Pompey married Caesar’s daughter Julia. He was about 22 years older than her. Caesar believed in equality and redistribution of lands to the poor. This was looked down on by aristocrats and appealed more to the lower class.
While heading into Gaul, he faced the threat of the Germans, who crossed the Rhine into the Roman territory. German soothsayers predicted that if they fought before a new moon that they would surely lose. Caesar heard this and used it to his advantage, ambushing the Germans and slaughtering them as if they were to extinguish the entire race. This was known as the Gallic Wars. After crushing the Germans he set out to invade Britannia in 55B. C.. Over the 15 years in Gaul, he led Roman armies against enemies abroad while fighting Pompey for political control at home.
Caesar had become a military hero to the people. “Enormous financial resources, popular military victories, impeccable ancestry, and one of the finest minds in the ancient world had yet produced was enough to terrify Caesar’s political enemies. ” (7 Julius Caesar) Because of his power the Senate revoked his governorship of Gaul. Consequently, on 10 January 49 B. C. General Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River, the boundary between Italian Gaul and Italian proper, which symbolized an initiation for war. This began what is known as Caesar’s Civil War between Italian provinces. Crossing the Rubicon” was a point of no return. He had directly and publicly disobeyed commands. It was either have a civil war or die in disgrace. Caesar decided to fight. In 48 B. C. he and Pompey met on the plain of Pharsalus in Thessaly and Caesar defeated his troops. Pompey escaped to Egypt, while Caesar’s men build ships and followed him. Pompey was eventually assassinated. In 46 B. C. Caesar is named dictator of Rome. He did much to restore and rebuild the city by revising tax laws, resettled homes, and even reformed the calendar which is still used today.
He slowly replaced the Republic and recognized an empire. In 45 B. C. he reached his goal, being named dictator of Rome for life. The Senate was outraged as well as Brutus because they believed that no one man could rule Rome. On March 15, also know in the Roman calendar as the “Ides of March” Caesar was stabbed to death in the Senate by Marcus Junius Brutus and 40 conspirators. His death lead to more anarchy and turmoil rather than a rebirth of the Republic like they had thought. However, he did set a standard for later rulers/emperors to look up to.
One of them was Caesar’s heir Octavian (later known as Caesar Augustus) who further enlarged and rebuilt the new empire. Since Caesar’s time, he has been an inspiration through his leadership and oratory skills. He was a great general and a key leader in ancient Rome. Throughout his life he climbed the Roman political ladder with just about every important title, even high priest. The month of July is even named after him. Ruling titles, such as the German “Kaiser” and Slavic “Czar” which are words for “ruler”, were also derived from his name. Most importantly, he ended the republic system in Rome.