Marius serves as Consul. Wars against Teutones in Gaul. Victories of
Aquae Sextiae 102; Vercellae, 101. Legislation of Saturninus; rioting
in Rome. Marius restores order, 100.
Caesar born in Rome on July 13 to Gaius Caesar and Aurelia.
of Drusus, whose plans to satisfy the Italian allies fails; Drusus assassinated.
War breaks out with Italian allies; massacre of Romans at Asculum.
"Social War" against Rome's Italian allies, demanding greater
citizenship rights. The rebellion is crushed by Sulla, Marius, and Pompey
Strabo, but the allies eventually received enhanced rights. First campaign
of young Pompey, Cicero.
Rufus tribune. Proposal to transfer the Mithridatic command from Sulla
to Marius. Sulla marches on Rome with his army; caputres the city; repeals
legislation and passes laws strengthening the Senate. Marius escapes.
Social War draws to a close. Mithridates overruns Asia Minor, massacres
many Romans and Italians; joined by Athens.
and Marius occupy Rome; massacre of Sulla's supporters. Sulla lands
in Greece and besieges Athens. Carbo consul 87-84. The teenage Caesar
is chosen for the lifetime dignity of flamen dialis (high priest of
elected Consul for the seventh time (with Cinna), dies. Sulla takes
Athens, defeats Mithridates' armies. Immediately after election as Consul
(for the seventh time), Marius dies. Cinna takes control of the Populares
against Sulla's faction.
negotiates Treaty of Dardanus with Mithridates. Settlement of Asia.
Caesar becomes officially a man by assuming the toga virilis. His father
in power but is later murdered. Caesar weds Cinna's daughter. Carbo
remains sole consul.
Cornelius Sulla, returning from the eastern Mithridatic War, victorious
against the Marian party with the aid of Pompey and Crassus. Massive
proscriptions follow. Sulla's legislation returns political power to
the Senate; tribunician powers limited. Murena begins Second Mithridatic
War in Italy; Sulla victorious at the battle of the Colline Gate. Massive
proscriptions, deaths, property confiscations shake the power structure.
Sertorious, last major Marian leader, leaves for Spain. Pompey defeats
Sulla's opponents in Sicily; Sulla orders Murena to stop fighting against
becomes dictator; constitutional settlement, reform of criminal law.
Pompey defeats the Marians in Africa; Sertorius driven from Spain.
hostile against Caesar; Caesar flees Rome. Sulla persuaded to pardon
Caesar, who refuses to divorce Cinna's daughter, Cornelia. Sulla impounds
Cornelia's dowry and strips Caesar of office of flamen dialis. Caesar's
only child, daughter Julia, is born.
serves as Consul. Sertorius returns to Spain. Caesar leaves Rome for
military service with the governor of Asia. At the capture of Mytilene,
Caesar wins the corona civica (personal heroism). For the rest of his
life he will be awarded public honors (such as being able to wear his
laurel crown on all public occasions). He is also permitted to sit in
the Senate without age restriction.
resigns dictatorship. Sertorious defeats Metellus Pius in Spain.
of Sulla. Lepidus challenges Sulla's constitution. Caesar serves under
P. Servilius Isauricus in Cilicia. After Sulla's death, Caesar returns
to Rome. He refuses to join Lepidus' insurrection.
defeated by Catulus and Pompey, dies in Sardinia. Pompey appointed against
Sertorius in Spain. In Rome, Caesar, as advocate, prosecutes the consular
Cn. Cornelius Dolabella for extortion while serving as provincial governor.
to restore powers to tribunes. Sertorius successful against Pompey and
75 Lex Aurelia
allows tribunes to hold other offices later. Cicero serves as quaestor
in Sicily. Leaving Rome to study rhetoric in Rhodes, Caesar is captured
by pirates; his 50-talent ransom takes 40 days to raise while he is
held captive. Caesar, released, returns and crucifies all the pirates.
He then continues on to Rhodes to study under famous rhetorician Apollonius
made a Roman province. Reinforcements sent to Pompey in Spain. Mithridates
invades Bithynia; Lucullus sent against him. On the outbreak of the
Mithridatic War, Caesar fights against a royal detachment in Asia province.
Returns to Rome. Nicomedes dies, bequeaths Bythinia to Rome.
Licius Macer agitates for reform Laws deal with grain distribution.
Rising of Spartacus at Capua. Lucullus defeats Mithridates on the Rhyndacus.
Caesar joins the Pontifical College.
continues successfully against Roman efforts to destroy revolt. In Spain,
Sertorius assassinated; Pompey settles Spain. Lucullus campaigns against
Mithridates in Pontus. M. Antonius unsuccessful against Cretan pirates.
Caesar serves as military tribune.
defeated by Crassus. Pompey returns from Spain. Lucullus defeats Mithridates
who flees to Tigranes.
and Crassus elected as consuls; they continue dismantling provisions
of Sullan laws.
captures Armenian capital, Tigranocerta. Caesar serves as quaestor under
governor of Further Spain. His aunt Julia (wife of Marius) dies; Caesar
gives funeral oration, honors Marius and his own descent. Later, Caesar's
marries Pompeia, granddaughter of Sulla. Votes for Lex Gabinia, to give
Pompey total authority to fight piracy in the eastern Mediterranean.
destroys piracy in the Mediterranean; his reputation soars.
Catilinarian 'conspiracy.' Cicero, Caesar speaks in favor of the Lex
Manilia, giving Pompey unparallelled powers in command of Roman armies
destroys Mithridates, king of Pontus, bringing new territories into
the Empire. He completely reorganizes the eastern provinces; his reputation
is at its height.
is censor; works for influence in Spain and Egypt. Pompey campaigns
in the Caucasus. Caesar serves as Curule Aedile with Bibulus. He restores
Marius' trophies, formerly removed by Sulla, and gains a reputation
for lavish expenditure on games and crowd-pleasing entertainments.
victorious in Syria; end of Seleucid monarchy. In the elections, Cataline
loses to Cicero for the consulship; some sources suggest Caesar supported
of Cicero. Caesar triumphs at the polls to win the position of Pontifix
Maximus. Birth of Octavian. On December 5, Caesar's significant speech
in the Senate against condemning the Catilinarian conspirators to death
without trial. Cato accuses Caesar of foreknowledge of the conspiracy
but Cicero supports him. Pompey in Damascus, Jerusalem; end of Hasmonean
power. Mithridates dies in the Crimea.
and death of Catiline at Pistoia. Caesar elected praetor. Clodius profanes
the Bona Dea festival with resulting scandal. Caesar divorces Pompeia
for not being "above suspicion." Pompey settles the East (including
making Syria a province); returns to Italy and dismisses his army in
61 The Senate
opposes Pompey's administrative acts in the East; Pompey holds his Triumph.
Trial of Clodius. Caesar proconsul of the province of Further Spain;
victorious campaign against the Lusitani which permits him to seek a
Triumph in Rome. In Gaul, the Allobroges revolt; the Aedui appeal to
Rome for help. Crassus negotiates, unsuccessfully, to reduce tax-farming
commitments of the Equites in the east.
returns to Rome; Cato filibusters to prevent his standing for the consulship
in absentia. Foregoing his Triumph, Caesar enters Rome, stands for office,
and wins the Consulship with the support of Caesar and Crassus. The
"First Triumvirate" formed.
turbulent consulship. Land reforms forced through the Senate for Pompey's
veterans; Crassus' tax-farming proposals passed. Bibulus retires to
"watch the sky for omens." Caesar's daughter marries Pompey;
Caesar marries Piso's daughter, Calpurnia. Caesar secures Cisalpine
Gaul and Illyricum (and, later, further Gaul) as his post-consular province
for a 5-year term.
of Publius Clodius. Cicero exiled; Cato sent to Cypress which is annexed.
Caesar moves against the Helvetii and Ariovistus in the first battles
of the Gallic Wars.
in Rome between Clodius and Milo. Cicero is recalled in September. Pompey
concerned with food supply. Caesar campaigns against the Belgii; all
northern Gaul apparently pacified.
56 The Triumvirate
in disarray; Cicero attacks the land-reform law Caesar passed during
his consulship. Caesar meets with Pompey and Crassus at Lucca in April
to renew power-sharing. Caesar's term in Gaul to be extended. Pompey
and Crassus will stand, again, for the Consulship. Caesar campaigns
against rebellious tribes in Brittany and Normandy as well as the Aquitani.
Cato returns from Cypress.
consulship of Pompey and Crassus; law passed prolonging Caesar's proconsulship
for five years with new commands for both Consuls.Caesar campaigns against
the Usipetes and Tencteri. First crossing of the Rhine into Germany;
first, historic renconnaissance mission to Britain. Historic thanksgivings
voted to Caesar by the Senate.
remains near Rome, governing Spain through subordinates. Rioting in
Rome. Caesar returns to Britain, spending the winter in Gaul. Ambiorix
destroys fifteen cohorts. Winter quarters of the legate Q.Cicero besieged;
relieved by Caesar. Labienus campaigns against the Treveri. Death in
childbirth of Caesar's daughter, Julia, wife of Pompey; Caesar's mother,
Aurelia, also dies. Crassus, in Syria, prepares for Parthian campaign.
rioting in Rome; no consuls can be elected until July. Caesar undertakes
punitive expeditions against the rebellious tribes; second Rhine crossing.
The Eburones are exterminated; Ambiorix escapes. On June 9, in Mesopotamia,
Crassus loses the battle of Carrhae and his life.
52 In January,
Publius Clodius murdered by Milo. Disorder in Rome; Pompey elected 'consul
without a colleague' on February 25. Serves alone until order is restored
in August. Caesar negotiates from Ravenna and, by the law, of the ten
tribunes, is permitted to stand for the consulship in 49 in absentia.
The Gallic confederacy formed under Vercingetorix; Gaul breaks into
open rebellion. Caesar captures Avaricum, has to abandon the siege of
Vergovia, is victorious in the neighborhood of Dijon, surrounds Vercingetorix
in Alesia, repels the attempt of the combined Celtic levies to relieve
him. Vercingetorix surrenders.
attacks on Caesar, who gains support of Curio. Parthia invades Syria;
Cicero sent as governor to Cilicia. Death of Ptolemy Auletes; Ptolemy
XIII marries Cleopatra; joint rulers in Egypt. Caesar completes pacification
of Gaul; surrender of Uxellodunum with multilation of rebellious prisoners.
Caesar begins political reorganization of the province from Nemotocenna
(Arras). Probable publication of his Gallic commentaries. In Rome, Marcellus
attempts to prematurely recall Caesar from his command.
50 In Rome
the optimates continue their efforts to recall Caesar and bring him
to trial. The tribune, C. Curio, prevents the passing of a decree against
Caesar by imposition of the tribunician veto. Curio proposes that both
Caesar and Pompey disarm; vetoed. Pompey asked by consul Marcellus to
save the State (November). In December, Curio's term expires; Antony
takes over as Caesar's leading tribune. Pompey refuses to compromise.
Civil War looms. Caesar continues to negotiate to avoid losing his imperium
while still running for the Consulship for 48 in absentia.
49 On January
7, the Senate decrees that Caesar must dismiss his army by an appointed
day and, despite tribunician veto, grants Pompey and the other magistrates
state authority. Caesar crosses Rubicon during the night of January
10 and, with one legion, begins moving towards Rome. On February 21,
Corfinium surrenders with little resistance; on March 17, Pompey abandons
Italy and crosses to the Balkan peninsula. On August 2, Pompey's Army
in Nearer Spain surrenders to Caesar following battle of Ilerda; the
souther Spanish province follows. Massilia surrenders to Caesar after
a six-months' siege. Caesar is elected dictator and, during 11-day term,
passes emergency legislation.
gives up the dictatorship, elected to second consulship with Publius
Servilius Isauricus. Crossing the Adriatic, he surrounds Pompey at Dyrrhachium
in April; Pompey breaks through the siege line in July. Caesar withdraws
towards Thessaly. On August 9, Caesar defeats Pompey at Pharsalus. Pompey
flees to Egypt, Caesar in pursuit. On September 28, prior to Caesar's
arrival, Pompey is murdered by ministers of the Pharoah in Egypt. Caesar
arrives and occupies Alexandria, where his small force is besieged by
Ptolemy's hostile forces. Meets and supports Cleopatra in her quest
for rule of Egypt.
again appointed dictator, this time for one year in absentia. Antony,
his Master of the Horse, maintains order in Italy. In March, Caesar's
forces relieved by reinforcements from Asia Minor; on March 27, he is
victorious in battle on the Nile. Death of Ptolemy. Caesar installs
Cleopatra as Queen and cruises the Nile. Pharnaces of Bosporus defeats
Roman army under Domitius Calvinus in Pontus. In early June, Caesar
leaves Egypt, moves against the king of Pontus, Pharnaces II (Mithridates'
son). On August 1, defeats Pharnaces at Zela ("I came, I saw, I
conquered"). At the beginning of October, Caesar (dictator) arrives
in Rome; further legislative reforms including reorganizastion of debt
laws. On December 28, Caesar and his legions return to the coast of
Africa to defeat the remaining Pompeian forces. Since 48, the optimates
have been collecting armies in the African Province. Cleopatra bears
Caesar a son, nicknamed Caesarion.
elected consul for the third time, serving with Lepidus. On April 6,
Caesar victorious at Battle of Thapsus, defeating Scipio and Juba. Suicide
of Cato. On July 25, Caesar returns to Rome where he is appointed to
his third dictatorship, this time for a ten-year term. In Spain, the
sons of Pompey renew the war. Caesar completes further legislation including
reform of the calendar, adding additional days to this year to bring
the solar calendar into alignment. Leaves Rome for Spain in the middle
serves as his fourth consulship (without a colleague). On March 17,
Caesar victorious at Munda; after administrative reforms, he returns
to Rome in October. The Senate votes extravagant decrees in his honor,
including dictatorship for life and divine worship. Caesar's iimages
begin to appear on coinage. In the fall, Caesar makes preparations for
a campaign in Parthia the next year and makes his will, appointing his
great-nephew, Octavian, as his primary heir, allegedly adopting him
as his son.
44 On February
15, Caesar appears at the Lupercalia as dictator perpetuus (for life),
in the dress of the ancient kings of Rome; refuses the diadem of kingship
offered by co-consul Mark Antony, along with the title of king. Announces
he will leave Rome for Parthia on March 18. 60 Republicans, led by Brutus
and Cassius, join in conspiracy to murder him. On the Ides of March
(March 15), attending the Senate for the last time, Caesar is stabbed
to death. His last words, to Brutus, in Greek, were "and you too,
child?" Octavian returns from Greece. Antony receives command in
Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul. Cicero's first Phillipic against Antony.
siege of Mutina raised; deaths of consuls Hirtius and Pansa. D. Brutus
killed in Gaul. Octavian declared consul in August. Triumvirate of Octavian,
Antony and Lepidus (November). Proscriptions; death of Cicero. Brutus
in Macedonia and Cassius in Syria raising armies.
Caesar deified. Sextus Pompeius controls Sicily. Brutus and Cassius
are defeated at Philippi in October; both commit suicide.
Rise to Power
Although he was born into the Julian gens, one of the oldest patrician
families in Rome, Caesar was always a member of the democratic or popular
party. He benefited from the patronage of his uncle by marriage, Caius
Marius. In 82 B.C., when Caesar refused to obey Sulla’s order
to divorce Cornelia, the wealthy daughter of Lucius Cornelius Cinna,
he was proscribed and subsequently fled from Rome (81 B.C.). 2
death, Caesar returned (78 B.C.) and began his political career. He
quickly gained popularity with his party and a reputation for oratory.
In 74 B.C. he went into Asia to repulse a Cappadocian army. Upon his
return, he agitated for reform of the government on popular lines and
helped to advance the position of Pompey, the virtual head of the popular
party. Caesar was made military tribune before 70 B.C. and was quaestor
in Farther Spain in 69 B.C.; he helped Pompey to obtain the supreme
command for the war in the East. He returned to Rome in 68 B.C., and
in Pompey’s absence was becoming the recognized head of the popular
party. His praise of Marius and Cinna made him popular with the people,
but earned him the hatred of the senate. 3
In 63 B.C.
he was elected pontifex maximus [high priest], allegedly by heavy bribes.
His later reform of the calendar with the help of Sosigenes, was one
of his greatest contributions to history. In Dec., 63 B.C., Caesar advocated
mercy for Catiline and the conspirators, thereby increasing the enmity
of the senatorial party and its leaders, Cato the Younger and Quintus
Lutatius Catulus (see Catulus, family). In 62 B.C., Clodius and Caesar’s
second wife, Pompeia, were involved in a scandal concerning the violation
of the secret rites of Bona Dea, and Caesar obtained a divorce, saying,
“Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.” 4
in Farther Spain as proconsul in 61 B.C., he returned to Rome in 60
B.C., ambitious for the consulate. Against senatorial opposition he
achieved a brilliant stroke—he organized a coalition, known as
the First Triumvirate, made up of Pompey, commander in chief of the
army; Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome (see Crassus,
family); and Caesar himself. Pompey and Crassus were jealous of each
other, but Caesar by force of personality kept the arrangement going.
In 59 B.C.
he married Calpurnia. In the same year, as consul, he secured the passage
of an agrarian law providing Campanian lands for 20,000 poor citizens
and veterans, in spite of the opposition of his senatorial colleague,
Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus. Caesar also won the support of the wealthy
equites by getting a reduction for them in their tax contracts in Asia.
This made him the guiding power in a coalition between people and plutocrats.
He was assigned
the rule of Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul and Illyricum with four legions
for five years (58 B.C.–54 B.C.). The differences between Pompey
and Crassus grew, and Caesar again moved (56 B.C.) to patch up matters,
arriving at an agreement that both Pompey and Crassus should be consuls
in 55 B.C. and that their proconsular provinces should be Spain and
Syria, respectively. From this arrangement he drew an extension of his
command in Gaul to 49 B.C. In the years 58 B.C. to 49 B.C. he firmly
established his reputation in the Gallic Wars. 7
In 55 B.C.,
Caesar made explorations into Britain, and in 54 B.C. he defeated the
Britons, led by Cassivellaunus. Caesar met his most serious opposition
in Gaul from Vercingetorix, whom he defeated in Alesia in 52 B.C. By
the end of the wars Caesar had reduced all Gaul to Roman control. These
campaigns proved him one of the greatest commanders of all time. In
them he revealed his consummate military genius, characterized by quick,
sure judgment and indomitable energy. The campaigns also developed the
personal devotion of the legions to Caesar. His personal interest in
the men (he is reputed to have known them all by name) and his willingness
to undergo every hardship made him the idol of the army—a significant
element in his later career. 8
In 54 B.C.
occurred the death of Caesar’s daughter Julia, Pompey’s
wife since 59 B.C. She had been the principal personal tie between the
two men. During the years Caesar was in Gaul, Pompey had been gradually
leaning more and more toward the senatorial party. The tribunate of
Clodius (58 B.C.) had aggravated conditions in Rome, and Caesar’s
military successes had aroused Pompey’s jealousy. Crassus’
death (53 B.C.) in Parthia ended the First Triumvirate and set Pompey
and Caesar against each other. 9
After the First Triumvirate ended, the senate supported Pompey, who
became sole consul in 52 B.C. Meanwhile, Caesar had become a military
hero as well as a champion of the people. The senate feared him and
wanted him to give up his army, knowing that he hoped to be consul when
his term in Gaul expired. In Dec., 50 B.C., Caesar wrote the senate
that he would give up his army if Pompey would give up his. The senate
heard the letter with fury and demanded that Caesar disband his army
at once or be declared an enemy of the people—an illegal bill,
for Caesar was entitled to keep his army until his term was up. 10
faithful to Caesar, Marc Antony and Quintus Cassius Longinus (see under
Cassius) vetoed the bill and were quickly expelled from the senate.
They fled to Caesar, who assembled his army and asked for the support
of the soldiers against the senate. The army called for action, and
on Jan. 19, 49 B.C., Caesar with the words “Iacta alea est”
[the die is cast] crossed the Rubicon, the stream bounding his province,
to enter Italy. Civil war had begun. 11
march to Rome was a triumphal progress. The senate fled to Capua. Caesar
proceeded to Brundisium, where he besieged Pompey until Pompey fled
(Mar., 49 B.C.) with his fleet to Greece. Caesar set out at once for
Spain, which Pompey’s legates were holding, and pacified that
province. Returning to Rome, Caesar held the dictatorship for 11 days
in early December, long enough to get himself elected consul, and then
set out for Greece in pursuit of Pompey. 12
at Brundisium a small army and fleet—so small, in fact, that Bibulus,
waiting with a much larger fleet to prevent his crossing to Epirus,
did not yet bother to watch him—and slipped across the strait.
He met Pompey at Dyrrhachium but was forced to fall back and begin a
long retreat southward, with Pompey in pursuit. Near Pharsalus, Caesar
camped in a very strategic location. Pompey, who had a far larger army,
attacked Caesar but was routed (48 B.C.) and fled to Egypt, where he
was killed. 13
pursued Pompey to Egypt, remained there for some time, living with Cleopatra,
taking her part against her brother and husband Ptolemy XII, and establishing
her firmly on the throne. From Egypt he went to Syria and Pontus, where
he defeated (47 B.C.) Pharnaces II with such ease that he reported his
victory in the words “Veni, vidi, vici” [I came, I saw,
I conquered]. In the same year he personally put down a mutiny of his
army and then set out for Africa, where the followers of Pompey had
fled, to end their opposition led by Cato. 14
On his return to Rome, where he was now tribune of the people and dictator,
he had four great triumphs and pardoned all his enemies. He set about
reforming the living conditions of the people by passing agrarian laws
and by improving housing accommodations. He also drew up the elaborate
plans (which Augustus later used) for consolidating the empire and establishing
it securely. In the winter of 46 B.C.–45 B.C. he was in Spain
putting down the last of the senatorial party under Gaeus Pompeius,
the son of Pompey. He returned to Rome in Sept., 45 B.C., and was elected
to his fifth consulship in 44 B.C. In the same year he became dictator
for life and set about planning a campaign against Parthia, the only
real menace to Rome’s borders. 15
powers had, however, aroused great resentment, and he was bitterly criticized
by his enemies, who accused him of all manner of vices. When a conspiracy
was formed against him, however, it was made up of his friends and protégés,
among them Cimber, Casca, Cassius, and Marcus Junius Brutus. On Mar.
15 (the Ides of March), 44 B.C., he was stabbed to death in the senate
house. His will left everything to his 18-year-old grandnephew Octavian
(later Augustus). 16
always been one of the most controversial characters of history. His
admirers have seen in him the defender of the rights of the people against
an oligarchy. His detractors have seen him as an ambitious demagogue,
who forced his way to dictatorial power and destroyed the republic.
That he was gifted and versatile there can be little doubt. He excelled
in war, in statesmanship, and in oratory. 17
works are highly esteemed. Of Caesar’s literary works, his commentaries
on the Gallic Wars (seven books) and on the civil war (three books)
survive. They are masterpieces of clear, beautiful, concise Latin, and
they are classic military documents. Caesar wrote poetry, but the only
surviving piece is a poem on Terence. 18
born in Rome to a well-known patrician family (gens Julia), which supposedly
traced its ancestry to Julus, the son of the Trojan prince Aeneas, who
according to myth was the son of Venus. According to legend, Caesar
was born by Caesarian section and is its namesake, though this is unlikely
because it was only performed on dead women, and his mother lived long
after he was born. Caesar was raised in a modest apartment building
(insula) in the Subura, a lower-class neighborhood of Rome.
Caesares, although of impeccable aristocratic patrician stock, were
not rich by the standards of the Roman nobility. Thus, no member of
his family had achieved any outstanding prominence in recent times,
though in his father's generation there was a renaissance of their fortunes.
His paternal aunt, Julia, married Gaius Marius, a talented general and
reformer of the Roman army. Marius became one of the richest men in
Rome at the time and while he gained political influence, the Caesar
family gained the wealth.
end of Marius' life in 86 BC, internal politics reached a breaking point.
Several disputes of the Marius faction against Lucius Cornelius Sulla
led to civil war and eventually opened the way to Sulla's dictatorship.
Caesar was tied to the Marius party through family connections. Not
only was he Marius' nephew, he was also married to Cornelia Cinnilla,
the youngest daughter of Lucius Cornelius Cinna, Marius' greatest supporter
and Sulla's enemy. To make matters worse, in the year 85 BC, just after
Caesar turned 15, his father grew ill and soon died. Both Marius and
his father had left Caesar much of their property and wealth in their
Sulla emerged as the winner of this civil war and began his program
of proscriptions, Caesar, not yet 20 years old, was in a bad position.
Sulla ordered Caesar to divorce Cornelia in 82 BC, but Caesar refused
and prudently left Rome to hide. Sulla pardoned Caesar and his family
and allowed him to return to Rome. In a prophetic moment, Sulla was
said to comment on the dangers of letting Caesar live. According to
Suetonius, the dictator in relenting on Caesar's proscription said,
"He whose life you so much desire will one day be the overthrow
of the part of nobles, whose cause you have sustained with me; for in
this one Caesar, you will find many a Marius."
pardon, Caesar did not remain in Rome and left for military service
in Asia and Cilicia. While still in Asia Minor, Caesar was involved
in several military operations. In 80 BC, while still serving under
Thermus, he played a pivotal role in the siege of Miletus. During the
course of the battle Caesar showed such personal bravery in saving the
lives of legionaries, that he was later awarded the corona civica (oak
crown). The award was of the highest honor given to a non-commander,
and when worn in public, even in the presence of the Roman Senate, all
were forced to stand and applaud his presence.
Back in Rome
in 78 BC, when Sulla died, Caesar began his political career in the
Forum at Rome as an advocate, known for his oratory and ruthless prosecution
of former governors notorious for extortion and corruption. The great
orator Cicero even commented, "Does anyone have the ability to
speak better than Caesar?" Aiming at rhetorical perfection, Caesar
traveled to Rhodes in 75 BC for philosophical and oratorical studies
with the famous teacher Apollonius Molo.
On the way,
Caesar was kidnapped by Cilician pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. When
they demanded a ransom of twenty talents, he laughed at them, saying
they did not know whom they had captured. Instead, he ordered them to
ask for fifty. They accepted, and Caesar sent his followers to various
cities to collect the ransom money. In all he was held for thirty-eight
days and would often laughingly threaten to have them all crucified.
True to his word, as soon as he was ransomed and released, he organized
a naval force, captured the pirates and their island stronghold and
put them to death by crucifixion as a warning to other pirates. However,
since they had treated him well, he had their legs broken before they
were crucified to lessen their suffering.
to Rome in 73 BC, Caesar was elected to the College of Pontiffs. Unfortunately,
Caesar returned to Rome in the middle of the slave rebellion under the
ex-gladiator Spartacus. The Senate sent legion after legion to handle
the rebellion, but each time Spartacus was victorious. In 72 BC, Caesar
was elected a military tribune by the Roman assemblies, his first step
in political life. Finally, in the year 71 BC, Marcus Crassus rose to
the challenge presented by Spartacus. Caesar was one of the few men
to lobby for Crassus in trying to establish his command. The Senate
appointed Crassus to the cause, and Crassus personally levied six brand
new legions, and recruited the young Caesar to serve as one of his tribunes
for his work as an advocate. After a series of defeats, Crassus finally
overcame Spartacus in 71 BC. During their time together, Caesar and
Crassus would form a friendship that would later advance both of their
careers in the years to come. But Caesar's triumph soon turned to disaster.
In 69 BC,
Caesar became a widower after Cornelia's death trying to deliver a stillborn
son. In the same year, he lost his aunt Julia, to whom he was very attached.
These two deaths left Caesar very much alone to raise a still infant
daughter, Julia Caesaris. It was untraditional for Roman women to have
great public funerals, but Caesar broke tradition and gave them both
fine funerals. During the funerals, Caesar delivered eulogy speeches
from the Rostra. Julia's funeral was filled with political connotations,
since Caesar insisted on parading Marius's funeral mask. Although Caesar
was very fond of both women (according to Suetonius), these speeches
were interpreted by his political opponents as propaganda for his upcoming
election for the office of quaestor.
depicted from the bust in the British Museum, in Cassell's History of
England (1902)Caesar was elected quaestor by the Assembly of the People
in 69 BC, at the age of thirty, as stipulated in the Roman cursus honorum.
He drew the lots and was assigned a quaestorship in Lusitania, a Roman
province roughly situated in modern Portugal and part of southern Spain.
As an administrative and financial officer, the trip was largely uneventful,
but it was while in Hispania that he had the famous encounter with a
statue of Alexander the Great. At the temple of Hercules in Gades, it
was said that he broke down and cried. When asked why he would have
such a reaction, his simple response was: "Do you think I have
not just cause to weep, when I consider that Alexander at my age had
conquered so many nations, and I have all this time done nothing that
released early from his office as quaestor, and allowed to return to
Rome early. Despite any personal grief over the loss of his wife, of
who all accounts suggest he loved dearly, Caesar was set to remarry
in 67 BC for political gain. This time, however, he chose an odd alliance.
The granddaughter of Sulla, and daughter of Quintus Pompey, Pompeia
Sulla, was to be his next wife. Now as a member of the Senate, thanks
to his election earlier as quaestor, Caesar supported laws which were
designed to grant Pompey the Great unlimited powers in dealing with
Cilician pirates in the Mediterranean. Obviously building a relationship
with Rome's great general would play into his hands later.
support of the laws regarding Pompey's command, Caesar served as the
curator of the Appian Way. The maintenance of this road, which stretched
from Rome to Cumae and beyond to the heel of Italy's boot, was an important
and high profile position. While it was enormously expensive on a personal
basis, it gave a great deal of prestige to a young Senator, and Crassus'
support certainly made it an achievable task for Caesar. All the while,
Caesar continued to pursue his judicial career until his election as
curule aedile in 65 BC, along with a young rival and member of the Optimates
faction by the name of Bibulus.
position was the next step in the Roman cursus honorum and was a grand
opportunity for the master of the public spectacle. The curule aediles
were responsible for such public duties as the construction and care
of temples, maintenance of public buildings, traffic, and other aspects
of Rome's daily life; perhaps most important of all, the staging of
public games on state holidays and management of the Circus Maximus.
Caesar indebted himself to the point of near financial ruin during this
time, but enhanced his image irreversibly with the common people. Caesar
ended his year as aedile in glory but in bankruptcy. His debts reached
several hundred gold talents (millions of euros in today's currency)
and threatened to be an obstacle for his future career. His co-aedile
Bibulus was so unspectacular in comparison that he later commented in
frustration that the entire year's aedileship was credited to Caesar
alone, instead of both.
as aedile was, however, an enormous help for his election as Pontifex
Maximus (high priest) in 63 BC, following the death of the previous
holder Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius. This office meant a new house
— the Domus Publica (public house) — in the Forum, the responsibility
of all Roman religious affairs and the custody of the Vestal virgins
under his roof. For Caesar, it also meant a relief of his debts. The
election put Caesar in a position of considerable power, with opportunity
for income. The Pontifex was elected to a lifetime term and while technically
not a political office, still provided considerable advantages in dealing
with the Senate and legislation.
as Pontifex was however marked by a scandal. Following the death of
his wife Cornelia, he had married Pompeia, a granddaughter of Sulla,
in 67 BC. As the wife of the Pontifex and an important matrona (Latin:
married woman), Pompeia was responsible for the organization of the
Bona Dea festival in December. These rites were exclusive to women and
considered very sacred. However, Publius Clodius Pulcher managed to
get in the house disguised as a woman. This was absolute sacrilege and
Pompeia received a letter of divorce. Caesar himself admitted that she
could be innocent in the plot, but, as he said: "Caesar's wife,
like the rest of Caesar's family, must be above suspicion."
63 BC was
an especially difficult year, not only for Caesar, but for the Roman
Republic itself. Caesar ran for, and won, the office of Praetor Urbanus
for the year 62 BC. Before he could even take office, however, the Catiline
Conspiracy erupted putting Caesar in direct conflict with the Optimates
once again. The result was the conviction to death of five notable Roman
men, Catiline's allies, without a trial. The only other option open
was banishment, as imprisonment before trial was unheard of; if banished
the men would simply have gone to take command of Catiline's armies
in Etruria. The Senate deliberated on the matter, with Caesar one of
the few men to speak up against the death penalty.
end of his praetorship, Caesar was again in serious jeopardy of prosecution
for his debts. Crassus came to the rescue again, paying off a quarter
of his 20 million denarii balance. Eventually, by 61 BC, Caesar was
finally assigned to serve as the Propraetor governor of Lusitania, the
province he served in as a quaestor. With this appointment, his creditors
backed off, allowing that this position could be quite profitable. Leaving
Rome even before he was officially to take over, Caesar was not taking
Hispania, Caesar developed a remarkable reputation as a military commander.
Between 61 BC and 60 BC, he won considerable victories over the local
Gallaecian and Lusitanian tribes. During one of his victories, his men
hailed him as Imperator in the field, which was a vital consideration
in being eligible for a triumph back in Rome. Caesar was now faced with
a terrible dilemma, though. He wanted to run for consul for 59 BC and
would have to be present within the city of Rome to do so, but he also
wanted to receive the honor of a triumph. The Optimates surely would
use this against him, forcing him to wait outside the city, as was the
custom, until they confirmed his triumph. The delay would force Caesar
to miss his chance to run for consul and he made a fateful decision.
In the summer of 60 BC, Caesar entered Rome to run for the highest political
office in the Roman Republic.
In 60 BC, Caesar's decision to forego a chance at a triumph for his
achievements in Spain put him in a position to run for consul. Even
though Caesar had overwhelming popularity within the citizen assemblies,
he had to manipulate formidable alliances within the Senate itself in
order to secure his election. Already maintaining a solid friendship
with the fabulously wealthy Marcus Crassus, he approached Crassus' rival
Pompey the Great with the concept of a coalition. Pompey had already
been considerably frustrated by the inability to get land reform for
his eastern veterans and Caesar brilliantly patched up any differences
between the two powerful leaders.
(known today as the First Triumvirate) was formed in late 60 BC, and
remarkably remained a secret for some time. Pompey and Crassus agreed
to use their wealth and clout to secure Caesar's consulship, and in
return Caesar would lobby for both Pompey's and Crassus's political
agenda. Caesar and Crassus were already the best of friends from a decade
back, and he solidified his alliance with Pompey by giving him his own
daughter Julia Caesaris in marriage. The alliance combined Caesar's
enormous popularity with the plebians and legal reputation with Crassus's
fantastic wealth and influence within the plutocratic Equestrian order
and Pompey's equally spectacular wealth, military reputation, and Senatorial
influence. With their help, Caesar won the election easily enough, but
the Optimates managed to get Caesar's former co-aedile Marcus Calpurnius
Bibulus elected as the junior consul.
Once in office
in 59 BC, Caesar's first order of business was to pass a law that required
the public release of all debates and procedures of the Senate. Next
on the agenda was the appeasement of Pompey. Unused land in parts of
Italy would be restored and offered to Pompey's veterans. Doing so would
not only alleviate the problem of the unemployed mob in Rome but would
satisfy Pompey and his legions. Still Cato the Younger and the Optimate
faction opposed the concept simply because it was Caesar's idea. Caesar
rebuked the Senate and took it directly to the people.
before the citizen assemblies, Caesar asked his co-consul Bibulus his
feelings on the bill, as it was important to have the support of both
standing consuls. His reply was simply to say that the bill would not
be passed even if everyone else wanted it. At this point the so-called
first triumvirate was made publicly known with both Pompey and Crassus
voicing public approval of the measure in turn. The law carried with
overwhelming public support and Bibulus retired to his home in disgrace.
Bibulus spent the remainder of his consular year trying to use religious
omens to declare Caesar's laws as null and void, in an attempt to bog
down the political system. Instead, however, he simply gave Caesar complete
autonomy to pass almost any proposal he wanted to. After Bibulus' withdrawal,
the year of the consulship of Caesar and Bibulus was often referred
to jokingly thereafter as the year of "Julius and Caesar".
with Crassus, by marrying the daughter of his client Piso, Caesar next
strengthened his alliance with Pompey. Pompey was married to Caesar's
daughter Julia. In what seemed to be a mere political edge, the marriage
blossomed into romance by all accounts. Caesar was given the proconsulship
of Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum, granting him the opportunity to match
political victories with military glory. This five-year term, unprecedented
for an area that was relatively secure, was an obvious sign of Caesar's
ambition for external conquests. Caesar's future campaigns would all
be conducted at his own discretion. In an additional stroke of luck,
the current governor of Gallia Narbonensis died, and this province was
assigned to Caesar as well.
As 59 BC came
to a close, Caesar had the support of the people, along with the two
most powerful men in Rome (aside from himself), and the opportunity
for infinite glory in Gaul. At the age of forty, while already holding
the highest office in Rome and defeating his enemies at every turn,
the true greatness of his career was yet to come. Marching quickly to
the relative safety of his provinces, to invoke his five year imperium
and avoid prosecution, Caesar was about to alter the geopolitical landscape
of the ancient world.
Caesar took official command of his provinces of Illyricum, Cisalpine
Gaul and Transalpine Gaul in 59 BC. Beyond the province of Transalpine
Gaul was a vast land comprising modern France, called Gallia Comata,
where loose confederations of Celtic tribes maintained varying relationships
with Rome. However, as soon as he took office, a Celtic tribe living
in modern day Switzerland, the Helvetii, had planned a move from the
Alpine region to the west of modern France. In order to make such a
move, however, the Helvetii would have to march not only through Roman-controlled
territory, but that of the Roman allied Aedui tribe as well. Other Gallic
Celts and people within the province of Gallia Narbonensis feared that
the Helvetii would not just move through as they proposed, but would
plunder everything in their path as they went. Without question, Caesar
opposed the idea and hastily recruited two more fresh legions in preparation.
local tribes joined the Helvetti in lesser numbers making the entire
force among the largest and most powerful in all of Gaul. In total,
according to Caesar, nearly 370,000 tribesmen were gathered, of which
about 260,000 were women, children and other non-combatants. After setting
off, and disregarding Caesar's objection, the two forces inevitably
met. After several skirmishes, Caesar occupied the high ground with
his six legions, and lured the enemy into a poorly matched battle. Near
the Aeduan capital, Caesar crushed the Helvetii, slaughtering the enemy
wholesale with little regard for combat status. According to Caesar
himself, of the 370,000 enemy present, only 130,000 survived the battle.
In the next few days following the battle while chasing down the fleeing
enemy, it seems that at least another 20,000 were killed. Around the
same time, in late 59 BC, the Germanic leader Ariovistus, chieftain
of the Germanic Suebi, lead an invasion of Gaul and raided the border
regions, but Caesar quelled the situation at that point by arranging
an alliance with the Germans in early 58 BC. He forced the Germans back
east across the Rhine, and used the "defense of Roman allies"
as his cause to continue north in conquest.
In the spring
of 57 BC, Caesar was in Cisalpine Gaul attending to the administration
of his governorship. Despite cries of great thanks from various Gallic
tribes, discontent was growing. Word came to Caesar that a confederation
of northern Gallic tribes under the Belgae was building to confront
the Roman presence in Gaul. Caesar hurried back to his legions, raising
two new legions of mainly Gallic "citizens" in the meantime,
bringing his total to eight.
arrived, likely in July 57 BC, the rumors of Gallic opposition proved
true. Caesar moved quickly, surprising Gallic tribes before they could
join the opposition, and made fast allies of them. The Belgae, in reprisal
against this, began to attack. With eight legions the Romans crushed
the attack in a hard fought affair. The victory was two fold for Caesar.
It not only was a victory in the field, but a political and propaganda
win as well. By defending his "allies" from external aggression,
he could now easily secure the necessary legalities to continue aggression
against the Belgae. Though it would be another difficult campaign, this
was exactly the sort of fortune that Caesar wanted. Caesar continued
north, conquering all in his path, either through politics or by force.
As the campaign
year of 56 BC opened, Caesar found that Gaul still was not quite ready
for Roman occupation. Caesar sent his generals to every corner of Gaul,
quelling any Gallic resistance in their way. Publius Crassus, son of
Marcus Crassus, was sent to Aquitania with twelve legionary cohorts
to subdue the tribes there. With the help of Gallic auxilia, Crassus
quickly brought Roman control to the westernmost portion of Gaul. Decimus
Brutus, the young future assassin of Caesar, was sent north to modern
day Brittany to build a fleet amongst the Veneti. The Veneti controlled
the waterways with a formidable fleet of their own and were augmented
by British Celts. At first the Gallic vessels outmatched the Romans,
and Brutus could do little to hamper Venetian operations. Roman ingenuity
took over, however, and they began using hooks launched by archers to
grapple the Venetian ships to their own. Before long, the Veneti were
completely defeated, and like many tribes before them, sold into slavery.
In all, dozens
of tribes were forced to surrender to Roman domination and hundreds
of thousands of prisoners were sent back to Rome as slaves. With the
defeat of the Gallic resistance, Caesar next began to focus his attention
across the channel. Still, the conquest was not quite as complete as
it seemed. First Caesar would have to deal with more Germanic incursions
before he could cross to Britain. And despite his confidence, the Gallic
tribes were not nearly as subdued as he thought. For now, though, Caesar
returned to Cisalpine Gaul to attend to political matters in Rome.
Britain, and Vercingetorix
By 56 BC, as Caesar was pushing Roman control throughout the entire
Gallic province, the political situation in Rome was dangerously falling
apart. In the midst of planning his next steps in Gaul, Britain and
Germania, Caesar returned to Cisalpine Gaul and knew he had to reaffirm
support within the Senate. Pompey was in northern Italy attending to
his duties with the grain commission, and Crassus went to Ravenna to
meet with Caesar. He instead, called them both to Lucca for a conference,
and the three triumvirs were joined by up to 200 Senators. Though support
in Rome was unravelling, this meeting showed the scope and size of the
‘triumvirate’ as being a much larger coalition than just
three men. However, Caesar needed Crassus and Pompey to get along in
order to hold the whole thing together. Caesar had to have his command
extended in order to ensure safety from recall and prosecution.
was reached in which Caesar would have his extension while granting
Pompey and Crassus a balance of power opportunity. Pompey and Crassus
were to be elected as joint consuls for 55 BC, with Pompey receiving
Hispania as his province and Crassus to get Syria. Pompey, jealous over
Caesar’s growing army, wanted the security of a provincial command
with legions, and Crassus wanted the opportunity for military glory
and plunder to the east in Parthia. With the matter resolved, Crassus
and Pompey returned to Rome to stand for the elections of 55 BC. Despite
bitter resistance from the Optimates, including a delay in the election,
the two were eventually confirmed as consuls. Caesar took no chances
however, and sent his legate, Publius Crassus, back to Rome with 1,000
men to "keep order". The presence of these men, along with
the popularity of Crassus and Pompey went a long way to stabilize the
situation. Caesar quickly returned to Gaul set into motion the first
Roman invasion of Britain.
could focus on Britain, a German invasion across the Rhine into Ubian
territory forced his attention on Germania. The invaders sent ambassadors
to Caesar saying they only desired peace, but Caesar demanded their
removal from Gaul and marched his legions against them. Before Caesar
attacked, his cavalry was attacked by surprise and seventy-eight Romans
were killed. A full-scale assault was then launched on the German camp
and according to Caesar, 430,000 leaderless German men, women and children
were assembled. The Romans butchered indiscriminately, sending the mass
of people fleeing to the Rhine, where many more succumbed to the river.
In the end, there is no account of how many were killed, but Caesar
also claims to have not lost a single man.
With the situation
secure on the Gallic side of the river, Caesar decided it was time to
settle the matter with the aggressive Germans once and for all, lest
they invade again. It was decided, in order to impress the Germans and
the Roman people that bridging the Rhine would have the most significant
effect. By June of 56 BC, Caesar became the first Roman to cross the
Rhine into Germanic territory. In so doing, a monstrous wooden bridge
was built in only ten days, stretching over 300 feet across the great
river. This alone assuredly, impressed the Germans and Gauls, who had
little comparative capability in bridge building. Within a short time
of his crossing, nearly all tribes within the region sent hostages along
with messages of peace.
Only one tribe
resisted, fleeing their towns rather than submit to Caesar. The Romans
made an example of them by burning their stores and their villages before
receiving word that the Suevi were beginning to assemble in opposition.
Caesar, rather than risk this glorious achievement in a pitched battle
with a fierce foe, decided that discretion was the better part of valor.
After spending only eighteen days in Germanic territory, the Romans
returned across the Rhine, burning their bridge in the process. With
that short diversion, Caesar secured peace among the Germans, as the
Suevi remained relatively peaceful for some time after, and secured
a crucial alliance with the Ubii. His rear secured, Caesar looked for
another glorious Roman ‘first’ and moved his body north
to prepare for the invasion of Britain.
an unsuccessful first invasion, Caesar succeeded in invading a second
time with the largest naval invasion in history until the Invasion of
Normandy, nearly 2,000 years later. At year's end in 55 BC, Caesar had
traveled to the farthest point in the known world and held most of Gaul
firmly in his hands. But not all was going Caesar's way. In 54 BC, his
only daughter, Julia Caesaris, died in childbirth, leaving both Pompey
and Caesar heartbroken. And to make matters worse, Crassus had been
killed in 53 BC during his ill-fated campaign in Parthia. Without Crassus
or Julia, Pompey began to drift towards the Optimates faction, and relations
with Caesar withered. Still away in Gaul, Caesar tried to secure Pompey's
support by offering him one of his nieces in marriage, but Pompey refused.
Instead, Pompey married Cornelia Metella, the daughter of Metallus Scipio,
one of Caesar's greatest enemies.
was brewing among the tribes of south-central Gaul. Among those tribes
were the Arverni. Initially hesitant, a young chieftan, Vercingetorix,
came to the forefront to rally the Gauls. Other neighboring tribes soon
joined the growing revolt, especially in the absence of the legions
who occupied the northern and eastern portions of Gaul. Caesar had to
make haste from Cisalpine Gaul and joined his army in the late winter/early
spring of 52 BC. Caesar had no choice but to consolidate his forces
against the formidable revolt.
Vercingetorix's retreating army to the fortified town of Alesia. With
an alleged army of some 80,000 men, Vercingetorix and his Gauls were
in shock from Caesar's Germanic cavalry allies and were in no condition
to meet the 60,000 Romans legionaries on the battlefield. Caesar ordered
the complete circumvallation of the Alesian plateau, which would not
only enclose the Gauls, but keep his large army occupied during the
siege. Walls, ditches and forts of various sizes stretched the entire
circle for a total length of ten miles. In one of the most brilliant
siege tactics in the history of warfare, and a testament to the skill
of Roman engineering, Caesar ordered a second wall to be built on the
outside of the first. This wall, nearly identical to the first in construction
and type, extended as much as fifteen miles around the inner wall and
left enough of a gap in between to fortify the entire Roman army. The
first wall was designed to keep Vercingetorix in, and the second wall
to keep his allies out.
army was raised to defend Vercingetorix. According to Caesar, nearly
250,000 Gauls came in support of their besieged king. This force marched
from the territory of the Aedui to crush the Romans between two forces
larger than that of their target. Inside Alesia, however, conditions
were terrible, with an estimated 180,000 people (including non-combatant
women and children) running out of food and supplies.
By the time
the relief force arrived, Vercingetorix and his army were in dire straits,
with many of his men likely on the verge of surrender. October 2 would
prove to be the final battle of Alesia. The Gauls on both sides hammered
the weakness in the Roman wall. Overall, the Romans may have been outnumbered
as many as six to one. The battle that was once very close to the possible
end of Caesar, turned into an all out rout and the Gauls outside the
Roman walls were slaughtered. By the end of the battle, the Germanic
cavalry would virtually wipe out the retreating Gauls, leaving only
Vercingetorix on the inside. Forced back into Alesia after the defeat
of his relief force, with no hope of additional reinforcements, and
only with the starving remnants of his own army, Vercingetorix was forced
of Vercingetorix lead to an effective end of the Gallic Wars. The whole
campaign resulted in 800 conquered cities, 300 subdued tribes, one million
men sold into slavery and another three million dead in battle.
Painting of Gaius Julius CaesarThe Optimates despised Caesar and his
conquests and looked for every opportunity to strip him of his command.
Prosecuting Caesar, whether the goal was death, exile or just a symbolic
limitation of his power, would prevent his re-establishment of the populares
agenda that he so masterfully instituted previously. The years 50 BC
and 49 BC were pivotal because during this time frame, Caesar's imperium,
namely safety from prosecution, was set to expire. Caesar badly desired
the ability to run for the consulship in absentia, thereby allowing
him the safe transfer of protection from his proconsular imperium, granted
by his command in Gaul, to that of the actual consulship once again.
By this time,
however, Pompey, likely the only man able to smooth things over, had
clearly sided with the Optimates. His jealously over Caesar's success
and his ultimate goal of acceptance and power within the Senate took
him ever further from the alliance with Caesar. Laws were passed while
Pompey was consul without colleague that forced a candidate to be present
in Rome to run for office.
options throughout were either to surrender willingly and face certain
prosecution along with the end of his career or life, or go to war.
On January 1, 49 BC and the days immediately following, the Senate rejected
Caesar's final peace proposal and declared him a public enemy. Around
the January 10 49 BC, word reached Caesar and he marched south with
the Thirteenth Legion from Ravenna towards the southern limit of Cisalpine
Gaul's border. He likely arrived around January 11, and stopped on the
northern bank of the small river border, the Rubicon.
to contemplate the situation understandably for some time before making
his final fateful decision. He is then reported to have muttered the
now famous phrase, from the work of the poet Menander, Alea iacta est,
usually translated as "The die is cast." The Rubicon was crossed
and Caesar officially invaded the legal border from his province into
Italy, thus starting the civil war. Despite having two legions to Caesar's
one, Caesar's Gallic legions were on the move to join him so Pompey
and the rest of Caesar's opposition had little choice but to leave Rome
immediately and abandon Italy to Caesar. When Caesar entered Rome, he
was elected Dictator, but only served for eleven days when he left office
and served as consul instead. He was soon joined by legions from Gaul,
and set off for Spain with nine legions. He is said to have boasted
"I'm off to meet an army without a leader, then I will meet a leader
without an army." Caesar meant that Pompey had left seven legions
in Spain while he fled to Greece. Caesar's army marched into Spain and
defeated the Pompeiian forces at Ilierda. While marching back through
southern Gaul, he took the city of Massila (present day Marseille) from
returned to Italy before marching into Thessaly with eight legions.
He quickly incorporated the towns of the region under his control. His
exhausted and poorly supplied army was able to secure new sources of
food and essentially become re-energized for the continuing campaign.
Caesar first faced Pompey on July 10, 48 BC at Dyrrhacium. Caesar barely
avoided a catastrophic defeat. Caesar lured Pompey into Greece where
he decisively defeated Pompey's numerically superior army — Pompey
had nearly twice the number of infantry and considerably more cavalry
— at the Battle of Pharsalus in an exceedingly short engagement
in 48 BC.
As the battle
closed, Caesar reviewed the field and was likely shaken by the effects
of civil war. He claimed that 15,000 enemy soldiers were killed, including
6,000 Romans, and 25,000 were captured, while losing only 200 of his
own men, though both numbers are likely either over- or under-exaggerated.
Still, the sight of the field apparently had a profound effect on the
new master of the Roman world. In surveying the carnage, Caesar supposedly
said, "They would have it so, I, Gaius Caesar, after so much success,
would be condemned had I dismissed my army."
Following the defeat at Pharsalus, the majority of the remaining Pompeian
forces surrendered to Caesar, and the major part of the war was essentially
over. Pompey himself fled to Egypt, where his own horrible fate awaited
him. Respected as the conqueror of the East, Pompey certainly felt comfortable
heading into Egypt. While waiting off-shore to receive word from the
boy-king, Ptolemy XIII, Pompey was betrayed and assassinated. Stabbed
in the back and decapitated, his body was burned on the shore and his
head was brought to the king in order to present as a gift to Caesar.
On July 24, 48 BC, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus was dead, just short of 58
years old. When Caesar arrived in pursuit of Pompey, to certainly, by
all accounts, grant him a pardon and welcome him back to Rome, Ptolemy
presented Caesar with Pompey's head and his signet ring. Caesar, despite
realizing Pompey's death made him the master of Rome, was overcome with
grief. Turning away from the slave who presented Pompey's head, Caesar
burst into tears at the sight of his rival, former friend, and son-in-law.
arrived with just 4,000 men, or just under one full legion, he immediately
took over the palace and presumed to secure his authority. He had two
goals while in Egypt, secure grain and repayment of Egyptian debts,
and also to settle the matter of who should rule the country: Cleopatra
or Ptolemy. Caesar privately requested a meeting with Cleopatra in order
to take stock of her before making a decision.
was slipped into some bed coverings and presented to Caesar as a gift.
Though little is known of the actual meeting, it is quite clear that
the young queen made an enormous impression on Caesar. She was elegant
and charismatic, but most of all, she had power and money, and Caesar
supposed she was susceptible to manipulation. Caesar, at 52 years old
and 35 years her elder, easily withstood her seduction attempts, and
seduced her. He would place Cleopatra on the throne of Egypt and use
her as the key to controlling the vast wealth of Egypt.
of 47 BC, Caesar secured the reign of Cleopatra by enforcing the will
of her father Ptolemy XII with both military and political force, and
married her to her younger brother Ptolemy XIV. Over the next several
months, Caesar and Cleopatra went on what seemed like a honeymoon vacation
along the Nile. Traveling on Cleopatra's barge as far south as his men
would let him, they toured the entire country all the way to the border
and Cleopatra enjoyed their love affair in earnest, however, Republican
forces in Spain and Africa continued to be a threat. Making matters
worse, though, Pharnaces II of Pontus, son of the great Roman enemy
Mithridates the Great was making incursions against neighboring provinces
in the Roman East. Once again Caesar gathered his forces and marched
off to face another threat.
The End of
the Civil War
By the campaign season of 47 BC, Caesar left Egypt and began an overland
march through the far eastern provinces. Heading towards the trouble
with Pharnaces, Caesar traveled through Judaea and Syria, accepting
apologies and granting pardons to those foreign kings and Roman governors
who had supported Pompey. In so doing, he was also able to rebuild his
war chest through the various tributes paid to him. Caesar met King
Pharnaces in the Battle of Zela. His victory was so swift and so complete
that he commemorated it in his triumph with the words: Veni Vidi Vici
("I came, I saw, I conquered").
46 BC, he proceeded to Africa to deal with the remnants of Pompey's
Senatorial supporters under Cato the Younger. He quickly gained a significant
victory at Thapsus over the forces of Metellus Scipio, who was killed
in battle, and Cato. After Cato saw that his forces were defeated by
Caesar, in traditional Roman fashion, he fell on his sword and committed
great loss for the Senatorial faction, Pompey's sons Gnaeus Pompeius
and Sextus Pompeius, together with Titus Labienus, Caesar's former propraetorian
legate (legatus propraetore) and second in command in the Gallic War,
escaped to Spain, where they continued to resist Caesar's dominance
of the Roman world. Caesar arrived in Spain in late November or early
December of 46 BC, with eight legions and 8,000 cavalry of his own.
Caesar's arrival was completely unexpected by the enemy, and the surprise
gave him an early advantage.
In March of
45 BC, the two armies faced off in the Battle of Munda with Gnaeus Pompey
holding the high ground. Caesar was forced to march uphill against the
strong enemy position, but he was never one to shirk from a chance at
open battle. As his army marched to meet Pompey, and the battle was
joined, it soon became clear that this would be among the most ferociously
fought battles of Caesar's career. The exhausting battle was taking
its toll and both commanders left their strategic overview positions
to join their men in the ranks. Caesar himself later told friends that
he had fought many times for victory, but Munda was the first time he
had fought for his life. Finally after an epic struggle, Caesar's Tenth
Legion, under his nephew Octavian, began to make the difference.
on Caesar's right wing, the Tenth started to push back Gnaeus Pompey's
wing. Labienus, in command of Pompey's cavalry, recognized the threat
and broke off from the main battle with his cavalry to secure the camp,
but this seemed to have dire consequences. Pompey's men seemed to have
viewed this as a general retreat by the one man who knew Caesar so well,
and panic was the result. Caesar's army overwhelmed the retreating enemy
and was merciless in its zeal to end the war. Up to 30,000 men were
slaughtered in the carnage, including Labienus, but Gnaeus Pompey managed
to escape. Still, it would turn out to be the final major battle and
victory of Caesar's career, and one that effectively ended land-based
Over the next few months, Caesar mopped up in Hispania and brutally
punished the people for their disloyalty. Gnaeus Pompey was later killed
and his brother Sextus who garrisoned Corduba managed to flee Spain
entirely. Caesar was joined by his nephew Octavian just prior to the
battle of Munda, and the young man secured himself as Caesar's heir
during the campaign in Spain. He certainly learned a great deal about
provincial administration from his now all-powerful uncle. It was after
the battle of Munda that Caesar stopped referring to Octavian as his
nephew and called him his son.
to Italy in September, 45 BC, and among his first tasks was to file
his will, naming Octavian as his sole heir. While away, the Senate had
already begun bestowing honors on Caesar. Even though Caesar had not
proscribed his enemies, instead pardoning nearly every one of them,
there seemed to be little open resistance to Caesar, at least publicly.
and celebrations were to be held on April 21 to honor Caesar's great
victory. Along with the games, Caesar was honored with the right to
wear triumphal clothing, including a purple robe (reminiscent of the
kings of Rome) and laurel crown, on all public occasions. A large estate
was being built at Rome's expense, and on state property, for Caesar's
exclusive use. The title of Imperator also became a legal title that
he could use in his name for the rest of his life.
A statue of
Caesar was placed in the temple of Quirinus with the inscription To
the Invincible God. Since Quirinus was the deified likeness of the city
and its founder and first king, Romulus, this act identified Caesar
not only on equal terms with the gods, but with the ancient kings as
well. In yet more scandalous behavior, Caesar had coins minted bearing
his likeness. This was the first time in Roman history that a living
Roman was featured on a coin, clearly placing him above the Roman state,
actually returned to Rome in October of 45 BC, he gave up his fourth
consulship (which he had held without colleague) and placed Quintus
Fabius Maximus and Gaius Trebonius as suffect consuls in his stead.
He celebrated a fifth triumph, this time to honor his victory in Spain.
The Senate continued to encourage more honors. A temple to Libertas
was to be built in his honor, and he was granted the title Liberator.
They elected him consul for life, and allowed him to hold any office
he wanted, including those generally reserved for plebeians, like the
tribunate. He also was given the power to appoint magistrates to all
provincial duties, a process previously done by drawing of lots or through
the approval of the Senate. The month of his birth, Quintilis, was renamed
July (Latin Julius) in his honor and his birthday, July 13, was recognized
as a national holiday. Even a tribe of the people's assembly was to
be named for him. A temple and priesthood, the Flamen maior, was established
and dedicated in honor of his family.
did have a reform agenda and took on various social ills. He passed
a law that prohibited citizens between the ages of 20 and 40 from leaving
Italy for more than three years unless on military assignment. This
theoretically would help preserve the continued operation of local farms
and businesses and prevent corruption abroad. If a member of the social
elite did harm or killed a member of the lower class, then all the wealth
of the perpetrator was to be confiscated. A general cancellation of
one-fourth of all debt also greatly relieved the public and helped to
endear him even further to the common population.
regulated the purchase of state-subsidized grain and forbade those who
could afford privately supplied grain from purchasing from the grain
dole. He made plans for the distribution of land to his veterans and
for the establishment of veteran colonies throughout the Roman world.
Caesar ordered a complete overhaul of the Roman calendar in 46 BC, establishing
a 365-day year with a leap year every fourth year (this Julian Calendar
was subsequently modified by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 into the modern
calendar). As a result of this reform, the year 46 BC was in fact 445
days long to bring the calendar into line.
that at one point, Caesar informed the Senate that he felt his honours
were more in need of reduction than augmentation, but withdrew this
position so as not to appear ungrateful. He was given the title Pater
Patriae ("Father of the Fatherland"). He was appointed dictator
a third time, and then nominated for nine consecutive one-year terms
as dictator, effectively making him dictator for ten years. He was also
given censorial authority as prefect of morals (praefectus morum) for
At the onset
of 44 BC, the honors bestowed upon Caesar continued and the subsequent
rift between him and the aristocrats deepened. He had been named Dictator
Perpetuus, making him dictator for the remainder of his life. This title
even began to show up on coinage bearing Caesar's likeness, placing
him above all others in Rome. Some among the population even began to
refer to him as Rex (Latin for king), but Caesar refused to accept the
title. But the seeds of conspiracy were beginning to grow within the
The fear of Caesar becoming king continued when someone placed a diadem
on the statue of Caesar on the Rostra. Not long after the incident with
the diadem, two tribunes had citizens arrested after they called out
the title Rex to Caesar as he passed by on the streets of Rome. Caesar
acted harshly. He ordered those arrested to be released, and instead
took the tribunes before the Senate and had them stripped of their positions.
At the coming
festival of the Lupercalia, the biggest test of the Roman people for
their willingness to accept Caesar as king was to take place. On February
15, 44 BC, Caesar sat upon his gilded chair on the Rostra and watched
the race. When Mark Antony ran into the Forum and was raised to the
Rostra by the priests attending the event, Antony produced a diadem
and attempted to place it on Caesar's head, saying "the people
offer this the title of king to you through me." Caesar quickly
refused being sure that the diadem did not touch his head. The crowd
roared with approval, but Antony, undeterred, attempted to place it
on Caesar's head again. Still there was no voice of support from the
crowd, and Caesar rose from his chair and refused Antony again, saying,
"I will not be king of Rome!" The crowd wildly endorsed Caesar's
to leave in April of 44 BC for campaigns in Parthia, and a secret opposition
that was steadily building had to act fast. Made up mostly of men that
Caesar had pardoned already, they knew their only chance to rid Rome
of Caesar was to prevent him ever leaving for Parthia.
the Senate to meet in the Theatrum Pompeium (built by Pompey) on the
Ides of March (March 15) 44 BC. A few days before, a soothsayer had
said to Caesar, "Beware the Ides of March." As the Senate
convened, Caesar was attacked and stabbed to death by a group of Senators
who called themselves the Liberators (Liberatores); the Liberators justified
their action on the grounds that they committed tyrannicide, not murder,
and were preserving the Republic from Caesar's alleged monarchical ambitions.
Among the assassins who locked themselves in the Temple of Jupiter were
Gaius Trebonius, Decimus Junius Brutus, Marcus Junius Brutus, and Gaius
Cassius Longinus. Caesar had personally pardoned most of his murderers
or personally advanced their careers. Caesar sustained twenty-three
(as many as thrity-five by some accounts) stab wounds, which ranged
from superficial to mortal, and ironically fell at the feet of a statue
of his best friend and greatest rival, Pompey the Great. Pompey had
recently been deified by the Senate, some accounts report that Caesar
prayed to Pompey as he lay dying. In antiquity, however, his last words
were generally thought to be those reported by Suetonius (Jul. 82.2)
as: ?a? s? t?????? (Greek, "You too, (my) son?"). Shakespeare's
Et tu, Brute? (Latin, "And (even) you, Brutus?") – in
the play, Julius Caesar, are without ancient authority.
also marked, ironically, the end of the Roman Republic, for which the
assassins had struck him down. The Roman middle and lower classes, with
whom Caesar was immensely popular, and had been since Gaul and before,
were enraged that a small group of high-browed aristocrats had killed
their champion. Antony, who had been as of late drifting from Caesar,
capitalized on the grief of the Roman mob and threatened to unleash
them on the Optimates, perhaps with the intent of taking control of
named his grand-nephew Gaius Octavius (Octavian) sole heir of his vast
fortune, giving Octavius both the immensely powerful Caesar name and
control of one of the largest amounts of money in the Republic. In addition,
Gaius Octavius was also, for all intents and purposes, the son of the
great Caesar, and consequently the loyalty of the Roman populace shifted
from the dead Caesar to the living Octavius. Octavius, only aged nineteen
at the time of Caesar's death, proved to be ruthless and lethal, and
while Antony dealt with Decius Brutus in the first round of the new
civil wars, Octavius consolidated his position. A new triumvirate was
found — the Second and final one — with Octavian, Antony,
and Caesar's loyal cavalry commander Lepidus as the third member. This
triumvirate deified Caesar as Divus Julius and – seeing that Caesar's
clemency had resulted in his murder – brought back the horror
of proscription, abandoned since Sulla, and proscribed its enemies in
large numbers in order to seize even more funds for the second civil
war against Brutus and Cassius, whom Antony and Octavian defeated at
A third civil
war then broke out between Octavian on one hand and Antony and Cleopatra
on the other. This final civil war, culminating in Antony and Cleopatra's
defeat at Actium, resulted in the ascendancy of Octavian, who became
the first Roman Emperor, under the name Caesar Augustus. In 42 BC, Julius
Caesar was formally deified as "the Divine Julius" (Divus
Iulius), and Caesar Augustus henceforth became Divi filius ("Son
of a God").
that "the virginity of this son of Venus was lost in Bithynia"
with King Nicomedes. Licinius Calvus was quoted as "whate’er
Bithynia had, and Caesar’s paramour (predicator, active partner
in anal sex)". Dollabella said that Caesar is "the queen’s
rival, the inner partner of the royal couch" and Curio called him
"the brothel of Nicomedes and the stew of Bithynia". Bibulus
named Caesar the "queen of Bithynia" saying that "of
yore he was enamoured of a king, but now of a king’s estate".
Gaius Memmius made analogy to Ganymede by stating that Caesar was the
"cupbearer to Nicomedes with the rest of his wantons". It
was said that soldiers sang mockingly that "Caesar conquered the
Gauls, but Nicomedes conquered Caesar".
In ancient Rome male homosexuality was common and widespread throughout
society, but it was thought to be improper for a freeborn boy or man
to be penetrated anally as Caesar was in his youth. For a man or boy
to participate in the passive role during anal sex it generally indicated
that they were a slave or one that had earned his freedom. Under Roman
law emancipated slaves may still be required to render certain services,
including sexual ones, to their former master. 
charged that Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus had earned his adoption
by Caesar through sexual favors. Suetonius while saying that Caesar's
affair with Nicomedes is true described Antony's accusation of an affair
with Octavian as political slander. The boy would become the first Roman
Emperor following Caesar's death. 
to Cornelia Cinnilla
Second marriage to Pompeia Sulla
Third marriage to Calpurnia Pisonis
Caesaris with Cornelia Cinnilla
Ptolemy XV Caesar (Caesarion) with Cleopatra VII, he would become an
from Julia Caesaris and Pompey, dead at several days, unnamed
July 13, 100 BC – Birth in Rome; Alternatively, July 12, 102 BC
84 BC – First marriage to Cornelia Cinnilla
82 BC – Escapes the Sullan persecutions
81/79 BC – Military service in Asia and Cilicia; tryst with Nicomedes
70s – Career as an advocate
69 BC – Death of Cornelia, Quaestor in Hispania Ulterior
65 BC – Curule aedile
63 BC – Second marriage to Pompeia Sulla,
December, Divorces Pompeia
Elected pontifex maximus and praetor urbanus
the Catilinarian conspiracy
61 BC – Serves of Propraetor in Hispania Ulterior
59 BC – First consulship with Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, beginning
of the First Triumvirate
Third marriage to Calpurnia Pisonis
58 BC/53 BC – First term as Proconsul of Gaul
54 BC – Death of Julia
53 BC – Death of Crassus: end of the First Triumvirate
53 BC/48 BC — Second term as Proconsul of Gaul
52 BC – Battle of Alesia
49 BC – Crossing of the Rubicon, the civil war starts
48 BC – Defeats Pompey in Greece at Battle of Pharsalus, made
dictator (serves for 11 days)
Second consulship with Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus
47 BC – Campaign in Egypt; meets Cleopatra VII
46 BC – Defeats Cato and Metellus Scipio in northern Africa, third
consulship with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus
Introduces the Julian Calendar and adoptes Octavian as heir
45 BC – Defeats the last opposition in Hispania
Returns to Rome; fourth consulship (without colleague)
Named Pater Patriae by the Senate and third dictatorship
44 BC –
Fifth consulship with Marc Antony
Appointed perpetual dictator
February, Refuses the diadem offered by Antony
March 15, Assassinated
42 BC Formally deified as "the Divine Julius" (Divus Julius),