Julius Caesar


Julius Caesar was born in 100 BC on the 13th day of
Quintilis, which we now call July in honor of him. He
belonged to a powerful family because Caesar's father's
sister married Gaius Marius, the leading man in Rome at the
time.
Caesar's father, Gaius, reached the post praetor, an
official in charge of judicial matters, but did not go on to
the highest post of consul, or chief executive. Caesar's
mother, Aurelia, had two daughters besides Caesar. Women
couldn't participate in government so obviously she did not.
She could, though, speak very clearly and elegantly which is
where some of Caesar's ability may have come from. He came
from a family of patricians, descendants of Rome's early
rulers, and was fairly wealthy but was still not as well off
as some of the other noble families.
Between 81 BC and 79 BC, Caesar served in Asia Minor on
the personal staff of Marcus Minucius Thermus, the praetor.
He was then sent on a mission to King Nicomedes of Bithynia.
During the conquest of the island Lesbos, Caesar gained a
prize for bravery. Later he was captured by pirates and
paid the usual ransom of 25 talents (500 kg) of silver.
When Sulla (the dictator in Rome) died, Caesar felt
safe to return to Italy where he started a career as a
criminal lawyer. In 75 BC he went to Rhodes for more
education and was once again captured by pirates, who asked
the usual tariff. Caesar demanded it doubled and threatened
to kill them. After the ransom was paid, he defeated the
bandits and had them crucified.
After continuing his studies, they were quickly
interrupted when Mithridates of Pontus attacked Asia Minor
in 74 BC. Caesar raised a small army and defended some
towns giving time for Commander Lucullus to also raise an
army and defeat them. Now Caesar was a war hero and
returned to Rome in 73 BC. His career as a general and
politician had begun.
In 68, Caesar was elected as one of the twenty
quaestors, allowing him to enter the Senate.
After returning from Spain, he was elected aedile and
was responsible for "bread and circuses." He organized
great games, making sure the Romans would remember his name.
This same year he was accused of planning to murder the
consuls, but was not sentenced.
Two years later, Caesar was elected pontifex maximus,
or high priest. He was then, soon after, elected praetor,
and the optimates became nervous for the first time because
of his popularity. Again they accused Caesar of a crime.
They said he was desecrating some secret ceremonies which
women in the high priest house held. He then divorced his
wife to fix this accusation and stop larger troubles.
Caesar was now in debt and got Marcus Licinius Crassus,
the richest man in Rome, to pay his 830 talents (7,500 kg)
of silver debt. Then Caesar had himself elected governor of
Andalusia.
Up to this point, Caesar's behavior as a Roman Senator
was quite normal. But from now on, his acts were often
criminal. However, since he always had an office or army
post, he was immune against prosecution.
Next, Caesar's Spanish War restored order on the west-
coast of present-day Portugal. He looted some silver mines
and became rich.
Caesar's consulship was rather secure. In December of
60 BC, he was elected to the highest office in the Roman
Republic. Caesar and his colleague Bibilus, one of the
optimates, reorganized taxes and made a law against
extortion. By this time Caesar had paid his debt back to
Crassus, but still had some moral obligations to him. When
the Senate then tried to play Caesar, Crassus, and Pompeius
against each other, Caesar noticed and formed an alliance
between the three known as the First Triumvirate.
Gnaeus Pompeius, known as Pompey, was now Rome's
leading general. Pompey had many accomplishments including
defeating the pirates and annexing Syria. He doubled Rome's
annual income and added vast territories to the empire.
When Crassus died, the two remaining rulers were in
disagreement. Pompey's army was in the southern part of the
Italian Peninsula, including Rome. Caesar was in charge of
an army in the north. He took his army across the Rubicon
River, said "The die is cast," and started the civil war
between the two (Caesar and Pompey).
Pompey was defeated which left Caesar in charge of
Rome's military. It was also the end of the Roman Republic.
Caesar was then appointed dictator for a year in 49 BC, for
two in 48 BC, and for ten in 46 BC. In 44 BC, he was
finally appointed dictator for life. In the same year on
March 15, 44 BC, he was assassinated. A few