SmithJulius CaesarJanuary 5, 2018It’s hard to truly understand the actions of Gaius Julius Caesar since we have not lived during his time. But with documents from the past we are able to work out an idea of why he did what he did, and that was to be a critical part in the downfall of the Roman Empire in 476 C.E. Which was, at the time, the strongest power in the world and the only empire bringing order to Western Europe. Personally, I believe he is a hero to the world itself, but does this make him a hero or a traitor? Julius Caesar was born on July 12, 100 B.
C. in a city south of Rome called Alba Longa. The family he was born into, the gens Julia, had claimed to be descendants from the legendary Trojan Prince, Aeneas, and so from Venus, the goddess of love.
His father, Gaius Julius Caesar, was the Governor of the province of Asia. This reason, and because his sister married Gaius Marius and his mother was from an influential family, made the Julii Caesaris a very prominent family in Western Europe. But this did not make them politically influential because Gaius Julius Caesar had only produced three consuls. Though he did reach the rank of Praetor, which is the second highest rank in the republic of Rome’s magistrates. Which still did not give them political influential in Rome.
By the time he was 16, his father died from unknown causes in 85 B.C while putting on his shoes in the morning. This could easily be a work of conspiracy because another Caesar, his grandfather, had died of similar causes. During this time, Julius’ age was at the same time as a civil war that was being fought between his Uncle, Gaius Marius, and his opposition, Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Though Caesar wasn’t always into armies and war all his life. At first, he was interested in the quiet life as priest.
In which he was elected to be the High Priest of Jupiter during this civil war. When his father did pass away, he was able to take power at the age of 16. This was an issue though as the legal age to be in power is 18. This means that he was in power after his father’s death for 2 year before being of age. He was beginning to understand, as he got into the politics, that he may never gain power of Rome. This made him angry and made him believe that the only way to gain such power, was to become a dictator with an army behind him. This was hard to do though as people from around Rome and overseas hated Rome’s counsel, which included the lineage of Caesar’s family.
But even something like this never stopped him for fighting for what he believed in. During this same time, in 84B.C, Caesar married the daughter of Lucius Cornelius, of whom was an Italian Noble. At 16, he was also finished growing. He was a 5 foot 8 inch tall man, slender and slim, and he never failed to dress carefully.
One year later in 83 B.C, Lucius returned from the East where he had successfully conquered more land for him and his people. Though, upon arriving home, he ordered Julius Caesar to divorce his daughter because he did not approve of it anymore. But Caesar did not want to and so he denied the order from the Italian Noble.
Because of this, Lucius wanted to take his land and kill him. Caesar almost lost his property and his own life for denying the order from Lucius. By the time Caesar’s age reached 31 years, he had taken part in many wars in which he then became heavily involved with politics. This happened mainly after he was captured by pirates and vowed to hang them once he was free. He kept this vow and ended up fulfilling it after he returned to Rome and was elected to become a quaestor, which is a government financial administrator.
This is the first consequential, or important, office of this kind to be established in Rome. Later in this period, his wife and Aunt pass away, but he ends up marrying a woman who is related to his close ally, Pompey, only 1 year later in 67 B.C. When Caesar became 56 years old in 44 B.C, he was betrayed by his top Generals including: Marcus Junius Brutus and Cassius. These two ended up assassinating Caesar by stabbing him 23 times, with only one being the fatal blow. Five days after this assassination, Brutus had exclaimed that there will be no more tyranny in Rome at that point, and saying that Julius Caesar was no more. What he said is still known today as the phrase, “Friends! Romans! Countryman!’ which was used to bring everybody together in this time.
But this didn’t go as well as planned for Brutus and Cassius. They thought they would be loved and followed afterwards, but that is not what happened. The lower and middle class members of Rome’s society were angry at the fact that these two men killed their leader, of whom was still a dictator. So they did not follow or praise the assassins. Two years later though, in 42 B.
C, everybody truly understood what Julius had given to Rome. They treated him like a god and even the senate had also believed so. This was the first time in Rome’s history that a Roman figure was treated like a god and also given a unique title: “The Divine Julius.” This angered the lower and middle class even more due to the fact that they lost a leader that actually brought Rome back from its weakest time. So Caesar’s great grand-nephew, Octavian, used this popularity to acquire an army under his control. With this army, he chased after his great uncle’s assassins and was victorious over them. With this popularity now going towards Octavian, he returned to Rome and was able to take power.
In 27 B.C, Octavian changed his name to Augustus as the first Roman Emperor. When Caesar was alive, he was able to turn the lands of Europe into an Empire under the power and protection of Rome. The biggest reason why the common people loved him so much is because he was able to bring order and protection to his people. He didn’t favor just the high class either. He provided some equality to everybody in Rome’s homeland.
He also opened the doors of the Christian Faith to the people. He believed in that faith very strongly and was concluded to be a Bishop and the father of the church. Though people still looked at him like a dictator, and that’s because he was. He still had the mentality of being one-hundred percent in charge and that’s part of the reason of why he was assassinated.Though the reason for Brutus and Cassius’ assassination of Caesar is slightly clear. Caesar did many many bad things over his lifetime.
In the Gallic Wars, he killed 500,000- 1,000,000 Gauls. A lot of these were to have a higher body count for his own praise. But the people of Rome did not know this was how he gained that many. They believed him to have slain many ‘traitors’ of Rome and not allies, traders, and even civilians.
This also goes along with his own legionnaire body count as the many civil wars that he took part in, he had lost many of his men. A lot of his countrymen looked at that is disgust because these wars were mainly his own quarrels. The land that he took were from his dead allies and enemies. Looking at everything he did that are supposedly ‘obvious bads,’ actually made perfect sense.
Even the killing, or massacre, of hundreds of thousand of people. This is because he was trying to gain popularity to bring his family back into the limelight and give himself power. And obviously the civil wars were fought with reason. He was trying to gain Rome more land and more power over many other territories around it. This made Rome very terrifying and made people turn from them when thinking about abolishing them. He gave everybody under the new Roman land protection and freedoms, the same as ‘true blood’ Roman countryman, as long as they pledged their allegiance to Rome.
Also, his ‘own’ quarrels weren’t necessarily his own. If he thought he could better the Republic of Rome then he took the opportunity without a second thought. Long after Caesar’s death, he was looked up to for many of the great things he did for the world.
The common people saw him as a great leader for giving humanity peace and order to the lands. They praised him in this for being a genius soldier and lawmaker. As the greatest poets in the world came and went, they all had something in common. And that was believing him to have been the noblest man to ever have lived. Which is a huge honor since there have only been a few great poets in the world. He had probably the biggest feat in human history during his reign. That was the laying of the foundations of law and government, which still stands after 2000 years. No other leader has ever made that great of a feat.
Works CitedCarcopino, Jerome. Daily Life In Ancient Rome. Edited by Henry T. Rowell, Translated by E. O.
Lorimer, Yale University Press, 1940. Braziller, George. Rome The Center of Power. Edited by Andre Malraux, Andre Parrot, and Albert Beuret, Translated by Peter Green, Editions Gallimard, 1970.
Buchan, John. Julius Caesar. 2nd ed., Edinburgh UP, 1932. Stout, S. E. “Training Soldiers for the Roman Legion.” The Classical Journal, vol.
16, no. 7, 1 Apr. 1921, pp. 423–431.***************Heather, Perter. “The Huns and the End of the Roman Empire in Western Europe.
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180.************Watkins, Thayer. “The Life of Julius Caesar.” A Timeline of the Life of Julius Caesar, www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/caesarjulius.htm.