The life of Julius Caesar and his impact in Rome
People like him were rare. He had never been depressed or disheartened by any kind of misfortunes. Additionally, he was determined to face all dangers and evils that surrounded him and did not succumb to any of them. He had a tall and handsome stature and was very likeable. The society was something he was fond of, and it was fond of him, too. All his manners were fascinating (Abbott 14). As a result, he became an excellent general. He was very keen on special tactics and strategy that would help him handle the Roman soldiers who were rough and greedy. He had a unique swiftness as far as acting on his enemies was concerned. Patience was also a trait that he had, which helped him plan for the best time and place that he would fight his battles. Most of his soldiers had total dedication to him because of his unique leadership skills. All these positive traits are attributed to Julius Caesar (SFUSD para.1). This paper seeks to discuss the life of Julius Caesar and the effect he had on the future of Rome.
There are very few documented works that talk on the childhood of Julius Caesar. One of them has the information that he did not have any formal education. However, his primary education was delivered to him by a private tutor where he obtained skills in writing and reading. The secondary education that he received helped him as he acquired skills in music, history, geography, science, and Greek philosophy. He also studied the Rhodes rhetoric, which came in handy as it prepared him in his law career in the courts (Roberts 47).
Julius' father passed away while he was 16 years old. He was then nominated as the next Jupiter priest. At this time, he married a lady known as Cornelia after breaking his relationship with a lady known as Cossutia. Cornelia was the daughter of Sulla, who was a consul for four times. A rift arose between Caesar and Sulla as a result of his marriage to his daughter. This made him live in secret places. Afterwards, they resolved their enmity, and they bore a daughter and named it Julia (Tranquillus para.1).
2. His Early Political Life
Julius Caesar served as a personal aide for Marcus Thermus who was the governor of the Asian province. He was sent several times to a king called Bithynia to fetch a fleet in which he was suspected of having false deals with the king of Bithynia. He also served under a person called Serviliys Isaricus in Cilicia. His exposure to the military also made him popular, and it was at this point he started his political ambitions (Tranquillus para.1 & 2).
3. Rise to Power
Julius Caesar belonged to one of the oldest Roman families. He was a member of the popular Democratic Party. Caesar was ordered to divorce Lucius Cornelius' daughter, Cinna. However, he never obeyed. Consequently, he fled Rome due to his prescription. He only returned to Rome after Sulla died. This was when his political career started. He was very popular in his party because of his good characteristics as an orator. It was also during this time when Caesar went to Asia so as to drive away an army called the Cappadocian. When he returned to Rome, he was in the lead in agitating for government reforms.
Additionally, Caesar was behind the election of Pompey, who became the head of the Democratic Party. Due to his popularity, he became a military tribune. Together with Pompey, they went to the East so as to obtain power in terms of command. After that, he returned to Rome and became more honored than Pompey. All this time, he continually adored Cinna and Marius, and the Romans loved him for that. However, the opposite could not be said of the Senate, for they loathed him.
Caesar had influence now, and everything could work out well for him. He bribed his way up to the position of the high priest, better known as the pontifex maximus. Immediately, he participated in reforming the Roman calendar, which benefited the society greatly. Caesar never sided with the Senate at any time. As a result, he was always the favorite of the people. As he rose to power, he pleaded for mercy to a group of conspirators of the Roman Government. This increased the rift between the Senate and him. In 62 BC, Pompeia, the second wife of Caesar, had a scandalous love affair with Clodius. Caesar did not believe that any of his wives would betray him. Therefore, he divorced her as she went against their Roman rites.
4. The Triumvirate
Caesar had served as a proconsul in Spain. He returned to Rome with a high ambition: to be a consulate. Since he was a man who knew how to strategize, he made up a coalition of three leaders. However, he was strongly opposed by the Senate. This coalition was composed of Pompey, who was the army's commander-in-chief, and Marcus Licinius Crassus who was rated as the richest Roman citizen. The two members were always fighting because of the jealousy they felt for one another. Caesar was, however different, as his personality always kept the three working together.
Caesar was the most active of the three; he succeeded in fighting for the rights of the poor veterans and citizens by making sure the Senate had secured land for them. The wealthy equities also supported him strongly. It was at this time when he married Calpurina. However, the other two members, Pompey and Crassus, could not stop fighting. After calming the two triumvirate members, Caesar decided to appoint them as leaders separately. He appointed them as consuls, where Pompey served in Spain and Crassus in Syria. This benefitted him as Caesar gained command of the whole Gaul where he won several conquests. The major tie between Pompey and Caesar was Julia, who was Caesar's daughter, and was married by Pompey. Julia was killed when Caesar was in Gaul. At the same time, Pompey betrayed him by supporting the Senatorial party. This was as a result of his envy toward Caesar as he had achieved a lot of military success after the conquest in Gaul. Crassus, the other member of the triumvirate, died, and this marked the end of the coalition. Since then, Pompey and Caesar became great rivals.
5. The Conquest of Gaul
Julius Caesar lived in Britain and Gaul for a period of seven years. In his stay, he was successful in making alliances with some of the tribes in Gaul. These tribes helped him as he was able to fight their enemies. There was a tribe in Switzerland that was referred to as the Helvetii. He learned of their ill intentions of invading the lands of Rome. Consequently, he recruited two legions, which included a total of 7,200 men. They went to the north so as to fight the Helvetti, and the small Roman army defeated the larger Helvetti army. Caesar then dealt with the Germans, who were also a threat to the Roman people. His army conquered the Germans, too. All these victories inspired him as he learned that he could conquer the whole of Gaul (SFUSD para. 5).
The following year, he fought and conquered the Belgic tribes that lived in the North. The army was so powerful that in Normandy, France, and Brittany, the fight was so intense and was stopped by Caesar's lieutenant known as Publius Licinius Crassus. All these victories lasted for two years. The whole of the Gaul region bowed down to him, from the Ocean to the Rhine River, and also to the Roman Empire. The Senate honored him by declaring a 15-day long holiday (SFUSD para.4).
At this time, Rome had a lot of problems. The agriculture sector was hardly hit as there was a shortage in grains. There were so many violent outbreaks as results of the fighting of the mobs in 57 BC. This situation also led to the formation of the triumvirate, which was composed of Crassus, Pompey, and Julius. However, Julius Caesar was the most respected because of all the conquests he had achieved in a short period of time. As a result, the other two leaders detested him and were constantly jealous of him (SFUSD para. 5).
In 56 BC, he destroyed the Veneti and other Gaul tribes that had revolted against the Roman Empire. He also wiped out German tribes who had come to assist Gaul in their fight against the Roman soldiers. Afterwards, he led his army in crossing the Rhine River and destroyed the Germans and Britons who had supported the Gauls. This time, he received 20 days of public thanksgiving. Though he made all these conquests, there was no peace in Gaul. He organized for other conquests in Britain, but they were not successful. It was a double tragedy to him because after arriving at Gaul from Britain, he was given the shocking news of the death of his daughter Julia and Aurelia, her mother. Additionally, he had lost over 10,000 of his men (SFUSD para. 8 and 9).
This marked a turning point in his life. All his anger and stress was projected to the people of Gaul. Unlike in the past, he treated all his enemies with great hate and disrespect. As a result of the atrocities that he subjected the people of Gaul into, a revolt was organized by a young prince referred to as Vercingetorix. He led the central Gaul residents in revolt. However, his troops, plus their wives and daughters, were destroyed by Caesar who was again honored with a 20-day public thanksgiving (SFUSD para.10 and 11). The last conquest took place in a city known as Uxellodunum. Caesar commanded his people to cut the army of all the men who were armed. The whole land of Gaul was conquered. Caesar even wrote in all his commentaries that there was peace in the land of Gaul even though it was a graveyard peace (SFUSD para. 13).
6. Civil War
The first triumvirate came to an end. Pompey was fully supported by the Senate and was appointed as the consul. Meanwhile, almost all the Roman people adored Caesar as a result of his military success. Therefore, the Senate was threatened and feared him a lot. They demanded Caesar to give up his army because they knew he also wanted to be consul after his term in Gaul had expired. Caesar responded and stated that the only way he could give up his army was if Pompey could also give up his. This really infuriated the Senate, which stated that if Caesar did not surrender, they would declare him as an enemy of the people in Rome, which would tarnish his reputation among the Roman citizens. The law stated that a person could only keep his army until the term was over. There was so much tension in the Senate at that time.
Some members of the Senate were in support of Caesar. Therefore, the Senate expelled them, and they fled to Caesar. Consequently, Caesar gathered enough soldiers who supported him against the senatorial leaders. After all the arrangements had been made, the army crossed the Rubicon, a river which separated the province from Italy. They entered Italy, and the Civil War started. The march of Caesar and his army was triumphant, and this shocked the Senate, which fled to Capua. Caesar later went to Brundisium where he attacked Pompey. Pompey feared and fled with his army to Greece. Caesar and his army brought peace to Spain, a place where the legates of Spain were holding. Caesar returned to Rome and became a dictator for only 11 days. These days were enough for his election as consul. Afterwards, he went to Greece to look for Pompey.
Caesar was determined to kill Pompey. He and his army set themselves strategically in Pharsalus. Pompey tried to attack Caesar, but he was killed after he fled to Egypt. Afterwards, Caesar remained in Egypt for some time. He continued with the war where he went to Pontus and Syria. At these points, he conquered Pharnaces II very easily. This was one of the followers of Pompey. Additionally, he went to Africa where all the Pompey supporters had gone to hide. He successfully fought them and ended their opposition, which was led by a person called Cato. This marked the end of the Civil War.
Afterwards, Caesar went back to Rome and became a dictator where he ruled for 10 years. He was above the constitution and the law in the Roman Empire. After two years, he became "the dictator for life" and the head of all the government offices. There were many reforms that he made in the government. However, all the reforms were considered meaningless by some, and his power was considered absolute. His power seemed sort of a monarchy, which evoked great hatred from the Roman people as they loved and cherished their Republican tradition. This prompted some people to plan on how they would attack Caesar (Hooker para.5).
7. Caesar Assassinated
Caesar was murdered on March 15 44 BC. The populace was not pleased with his dictatorial style of leadership. Several plots had been made in an attempt to kill him. A soothsayer known as Spurrina had warned him of the impeding danger that would befall him in the month of March (Gavorse para. 2). In fact, on the day prior to his death, Caesar had dreamt that a person had stabbed him in the arms of his wife. His health was also deteriorating, which made him inefficient even in his leadership (Gavorse para. 3). Several notes of the dangerous plots against him were handed over to him, but he dismissed all these claims and even laughed off the words of the soothsayer. Several people came to him and pretended to be paying their respects to him (Gavorse para. 4). They were conspirators, and they stabbed him repeatedly. He had more than 20 wounds inflicted on his body. Afterwards, the conspirators ran away. His lifeless body was later carried by his slaves where he died shortly (Gavorse para. 5).
8. Caesar's Literary Works
There are very many pioneers of literary works that presented the life of Julius Caesar and the events that surrounded him in plays and poems. Among these people is William Shakespeare. The works of Julius Caesar were held with high esteem as they are even today. He had several commentaries about the Civil War and Conquest of Gaul. Seven of his books have the information on the Gallic wars, and they have narrated on the events of the Civil War. They are documents which derive their roots from the classical military times. He also wrote a lot of poetry, which was quite a masterpiece. The only piece of poem that is present today is one on Terence.
He left several unfinished works, most of which he talked about the rift between him and Pompey and all the events that happened. They were later published by Oppius and Hirtiys. He is described as one who "wrote memoirs which deserve the highest praise; they are naked in their simplicity, straightforward yet graceful, stripped off all rhetorical adornment, as of a garment" (Tranquillus para. 56).
9. A Legacy that Lives on: His Effects on the Future of Rome
Caesar is one of the people in history who have led a life that has evoked great controversy. Some of the Roman citizens loathed his leadership. Those who admired him stated that he fought for the people's rights by ending oligarchy. They termed him as a very ambitious demagogue whose way into power restored the Republic through his dictatorial leadership. They adore his different gifts and his versatile nature. Additionally, his admirers praised him for his good skills as an orator, a military leader, and a statesman.
Peace was restored in Rome through the wars he fought. He was behind the programs that showed the level of affection he had for Rome. He also ensured there was an improvement in the economic and social sectors. The Civil War affected the future of Rome in that all the Cilicians and the Gauls who lived north of a river referred to as Po could become leaders. The numbers of the senators rose from 600 to 900. There were many Sulan citizens who were denied their rights prior to his leadership. Upon his leadership, the rights of these people were restored. The social life of the Roman people was also put into place (Roberts 150).
Initially, the Romans had no calendar of their own. He introduced the Julian calendar to this effect. He also abolished all the trade guilds because there was a lot of political gangs and mobs that abused them. Upon his leadership, the Southern Italy plantation labor force increased. This was because over a third of the population was given jobs in the plantations. There were very important provincial leaders in Rome at that time. All of them had been enrolled by Caesar. They helped to rebuild the poor Roman citizens' colonization (Roberts 150).
Julius Caesar is a person who will forever be remembered in the history of Rome and the world in general. Although most of his activities revolved around wars and conquest, he, indeed, changed some aspects in the Roman Empire. His leadership style seems to prove what some people state, that there can never be peace without war in any land. His leadership achievement is, however, debatable. This is because the Roman Empire was continually involved in civil wars even after his demise.
Abbott, Jacob. History of Julius Caesar. Middlesex: Echo Library, 2006. Print.
Hooker, Richard. World Civilizations. WSU edu, 6 Sep, 1999. Web. 25 March 2010.
Roberts, Peter. Ancient History Book 2.Singapore: Green Giant Press, 2003. Print.
SFUSD. Julius Caesar and the Conquest of Gaul. SFUSD. 2010. Web. 25 March 2010.
Tranquillus, Suetonius. The Lives of the Twelve Caesars. Chicago Edu, 2009. Web. 25 March 2010.