Julius Caesar In my opinion, no other man in the history of the world symbolizes military and political strength as much as Julius Caesar does. Caesar was born on July 12, 100 BC in Rome, Italy (Encarta 2000). His father belonged to the prestigious Julian clan (Internet Explorer) His uncle by marriage was Gaius Marius, leader of the Populares which supported agrarian reform and opposed the Optimates (Comptons Encyclopedia). Marius saw to it that Julius Caesar was appointed flamen dialis which is a archaic priesthood with no power. Caesar’s marriage in 84 BC to Cornelia, the daughter of Marius’s associate was a political Match (Lindsay Salo). When Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Marius’s enemy and leader of the Optimates, was made dictator in 82 BC, he issued a list of enemies to be executed. Caesar was not harmed but he was ordered by Sulla to divorce Cornelia. Caesar refused that order and left Rome to join the army (Lindsay Salo) (Comptons Encyclopedia). This was the beginning of an astonishing military career.
He became second in command of the province Asia (Turkey) (Lindsay Salo). In two years he proved his bravery and superior skills at arms. After these years and Sulla’s resignation in 78 BC, Julius decided to return to Rome. There he served as an officer in Crassus’s army against Spartacus, Caesar climbed steadily in the government by serving as an official in many provinces (Internet Explorer). After the death of his wife Cornelia, Julius remarried a wealthy wife and allied with Crassus, who was the richest man in Rome at the time (Internet Explorer).
Their opponent was Pompeius Magnus (the Great). Caesar wanted to become part of the consulate. The consulate was a governmental position where two consuls, nominated each year, held the power of the state. Caesar was hoping that he and Crassus would become the powerful consuls of the Roman Empire. However, the Senate tried to stop his efforts by pitting Crassus, Pompeius and Caesar against each other.
Caesar noticed this and did something believed impossible. Julius created an alliance among himself, Crassus, and Pompeius (Encarta 2000). The alliance made it possible for them all to share power. This three way consulship was called a Triumvirate (Internet Explorer). This agreement dictated the Roman policy for the next decade.
They shared all offices between them and their followers and that’s the way Caesar became Governor of Gaul Transalpinia (Encarta 2000). He had three legions (15,000 men) under his command. Julius Caesar then marched into Celtic Gaul, defeated the Helvetii, and forced them to return to their home (Encarta 200). Next, he crushed Germanic forces under Ariovistus and further proved his excellent leadership. Julius Caesar now turned his mind completely on politics. In 51 BC, while still fighting some resistant clans, he proposed to the Senate to extend his governor-ship for another two years, which allowed him to run for consul in the year 48 BC (A consul could only become consul again after 10 years).
He said that he earned it based on his presentations in Gaul and referred to Pompeius whose governor ship in Spain had been extended the year before. But the senate hesitated. In the year 50 BC, Caesar still tried to extend his governor ship, but to ensure the loyalty of his army he doubled their pay. Other huge sums went into public funds and the creation of his own silver coins: “CAE” on one side and “SAR” on the other, and a kneeling Vercingetorix before him (Encarta 2000). The two consuls of 50 BC were hostile to him, but he managed to bribe one of them. This caused a stalemate in the Senate.
Then, late in the fall, the senate decide that Caesar and Pompeius were to relinquish control of their armies and provinces. Caesar’s followers tried to veto it, but the hostile consul ordered Pompeius to defend the Republic with two Legions at Capua and the authority to raise more. Caesar thereupon gathered his own armies and went south. Both commanders were still on speaking terms and Caesar made another proposal. The proposal was that he would relinquish control of all but two of his legions and The province of Cisalpine Gaul (the part of Gaul lying in Italy). Pompeius agreed, but the senate ordered him to wait.
Caesar then made an ultimatum. Julius summed up his services to the state and demanded that he could keep his legions and provinces till he was elected consul. In January 49 BC Mark Anthony, Caesar’s trusted lieutenant, demanded that the ultimatum he read aloud in the senate. Although the majority would have swayed for peace, the opponents of Caesar would allow no compromises and bullied all the frightened senators that Caesar should disband his armies or be declared enemy of the state. The Senate then stripped Julius of all his offices and the Republic declared war on him.
Julius Caesar’s reaction to this was on January 11. He led his single legion, which he had assembled, across the bridge over a small stream that marked the boundary between his province and the Roman homeland. This spot was the Rubicon. Pompeius tried to stop Caesar, but all was in vain. No one dared to stand up against Caesar’s superior veteran soldiers.
The senate and Pompeius were now panic stricken and left Italy to head toward Albania, without taking the treasury with them. Once in Rome, Caesar wasted no time. Against no effective opposition, he assembled a makeshift senate, took control of the government and broke open the treasury. Mark Anthony was put in charge of the Italian legions and Caesar himself went to the independent city of Massilia. He could not capture the city, but he went to Spain and crushed Pompeius followers. When Caesar returned to Massilia, he was clement and did not sack the city, but it was no longer independent.
He returned to Rome as a victor, but there was still Pompeius and the old senate. Pompeius himself had raised a massive army in Macedonia. Caesar lacked a navy and was forced to land in Yugoslavia with only 20,000 men (7 under powered legions). Although Julius was largely outnumbered, he and Mark Anthony were victorious over Pompeius. What happened was very odd. Strangely Pompeius withdrew his army and Caesar remarked “Today the enemy would have won, if they had a commander who was a winner.” Caesar now chased after Pompeius towards Pharsalus.
Here Caesar’s 32,000 faced Pompeius 43,000. It was going to be the largest conflict of the civil war over the Roman Empire. On a morning in early August both armies attacked. Caesar’s left and center held strong, while his right withdrew. Pompeius, noticing Caesar’s weak side headed his cavalry in the gap, but Caesar intelligently sent in his last reserve, and Pompeius lines simply collapsed.
Nineteen months after the crossing of the Rubico Caesar became dictator and master of the Roman Empire. The defeated Pompeius now fled to Egypt but was killed once there by his own men (Encarta 2000). Although he had to stomp out several rebellions, in 46 BC Caesar finally could stage four Triumph parades for his victories. Caesar is believed to have been only twenty-six years old at the time. Caesar was now the ruler of the Roman Empire and the senate declared him dictator for life.
As a ruler, Caesar instituted various reforms. In provinces, he eliminated the highly corrupt tax system, extended Roman citizenship, and sponsored colonies of veterans. Also Caesar’s reform of the calendar gave Rome a rational means of recording time which was very important (Encarta 2000). However, a number of senatorial families felt that Caesar threatened their position. Thus, on the 6th of March 44 BC, the so called Ides of March, Caesar was murdered by Marcus Brutus, Gaius Cassius, and his two trusted commanders of his old legions Decimus Brutus and Gaius Trebonius (Encarta 2000). Caesar was stabbed twenty-three times.
While the blood poured out of his wounded body the great dictator of Rome silently pulled his toga over his head and fell at the foot of a statue of Pompeius (Internet Explorer). In conclusion, Julius Caesar was probably the greatest man of his time and the most successful. It was Caesar who ended the Roman republic and paved the way for the later Roman emperors (Encarta 2000). From his early life to his death no other man accomplished as much as he did. Julius Caesar in my opinion was the greatest soldier and dictator of all time.
Bibliography 1. Compton’s Encyclopedia 2. Encarta 2000.