Julius Caesar Biography

A biography of Julius Caesar, the first Emperor of Rome.

Gaius Julius Caesar, who would become the first Emperor of Rome, was born on 13 July, 100 B.C.E. He was born at a chaotic time in Roman history, brought about largely by the rapid expansion of the Roman Empire. The first 20 years of Caesar's life were typified by rivalries between the Senate and the Assembly. The electoral system in Rome was also corrupt.

When Consul Sulla returned to Rome in 83 B.C.E. after fighting abroad, he began a campaign to get rid of his enemies. Several thousand senators and other officials were murdered. Sulla then had the Senate declare him dictator for life. Caesar, now in his early twenties, had married the daughter of one of Sulla's enemies and the dictator demanded that he divorce her. Caesar, however, refused to do so, showing the headstrong nature that would chart his future course. Perhaps to escape the wrath of Sulla, Caesar joined the staff of Minurius Thermas, the Praetor in Bithynia in 81 B.C.E.

When the death of Sulla was announced in 78, Caesar returned to Rome. For several years he honed his skills as a lawyer. Then, in 75, he studied under Appollonius Molon in Rhodes. On his way to Rhodes he was captured by pirates, staying with them for six weeks. While with them he vowed to return and crucify them. On his release he did exactly that.

On returning to Rome in 69, he was elected to his first office, that of Quaestor. In 68, he joined the staff of the Praetor of Further Spain. Back in Rome the following year, Caesar caught the attention of Crassus, a rich and powerful former Praetor. When in 66 Caesar was made Aedile to Crassus' Censor, Caesar threw magnificent games for the masses, financed by Crassus. This made Caesar hugely popular with the people.

Caesar became Praetor in 62. He was made Propraetor of Further Spain at the end of his Praetorship. This was his first independent military command and he was soon subjugating the local tribes of Lusitania. After returning to Rome to secure a consulship he was rejected for that position by the Senate. He did however secure the Governorship of the Province of Gaul. Soon thereafter he learned that a Swiss tribe was about to invade Gaul. He set off to defend his new territory.

Caesar engaged and soundly defeated the invading Helvetii army. He then turned his attention to the Germans, achieving a stunning victory along the banks of the Rhine. Next he turned his forces north where the Belgae, a part Germanic tribe, were proving rebellious. After a tense standoff the Belgae withdrew and were pursued and routed by Caesar's army.



Caesar then returned to Italy. He was given the unprecedented honour of a fifteen day thanksgiving. He spent the next few years putting down rebellions and extending the corners of the Roman Empire. In 54, he set out with 800 ships for Britain. The leader of the Britons, Cassivellaunus engaged the Romans in guerrilla warfare but eventually surrendered to Caesar.

Back in Rome, political violence was continuing. General Pompey was elected sole consul following the burning to the ground of the Senate and the murder of many of it's members. Caesar saw his opportunity to take control and, knowing that he had the people behind him, decided to launch an overthrow attempt against Pompey. While Pompey had more soldiers, Caesar had more popular support. As Caesar closed in on Rome Pompey abandoned the city. Caesar set out in pursuit, chasing him across the continent. Finally, after several engagements, Pompey fled to Egypt, requesting that King Ptolemy XIII protect him. Instead the king had him beheaded.

Julius Caesar was now supreme ruler of he Roman Empire. But he soon had more problems to handle when his battle weary army staged a rebellion. Also Pompeii's two sons were stirring up revolt. A campaign was engaged upon to rid him of this problem. On successful completion of it he returned to Rome an all conquering hero.

A grateful nation turned Caesar into a God-like figure. The Senate, which he had enlarged from 600 to 900 gave him the title Pater Patriae ( Father of the Country). The month of Quintilis was also renamed in his honour.

Others in the ever conspiratorial Roman environment, however, despised his absolute power and planned to get rid of him. On the 15th of March, 44 B.C.E Caesar set out for the Senate and sat in his Regal chair. Tullius Cimber approached him, grabbed Caesars toga and exposed his neck. At this signal another conspirator rushed in and tried to stab Caesar in the throat. Caesar, however, managed to fend him off. Then the other conspirators rushed in on the Emperor with knives. The rest of the Senate stood by and watched in horror. Julius Caesar was stabbed to death, receiving 23 wounds. He fell dead at the feet of Pompey's statue.

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