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A short biography of Julius Caesar
He was a man of the people, a populist who helped military veterans and initiated land reform. He was a brilliant strategist on the battlefield, an astute politician, and an avid historian. This man would become the last dictator of the Roman Republic, paving the way for the great Roman Empire. Julius Caesar was masterful, artful and above all, powerful. He was adored by the man in the street for all those things. But despised by those who were envious of the hold he had over the people.
This is the story of his life. Gaius Julius Caesar was born on the 12th of July, 100 BC, in Rome. His parents were named Gaius Julius Caesar and Aurelia Cotta. This family of his was noble, claiming descent from powerful ancestors. Where the name Caesar originated has been debated. It might have been related to the procedure of the Caesarean section or to the slaying of an elephant or it might have been down to the first Caesar’s thick, curly locks of hair.
Despite being noble, the family was not particularly rich and didn’t hold much sway in Roman politics of the day. They were comfortable, though, with the father holding the position of senator and the mother hailing from a wealthy family. Information is scant as to what happened in the early childhood of Julius Caesar, but we do know that he had to grow up fast due to his father passing away.
At age 16, he was the man of the family. This was a time of division in Rome and there was a bloody civil war. Caesar’s uncle Marius was in the middle of that, a man who had granted Caesar the position of the high priest of Jupiter. Caesar was also married to the daughter of his uncle’s main ally, Lucius Cornelius Cinna. Then all came undone for the young man when his uncle and his ally lost the civil war to the powerful Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Caesar was in a precarious position and his life was in danger.
He was soon stripped of his priesthood and robbed of the inheritance he was set to receive, and for the sake of his survival, he went into hiding. But Caesar had a stroke of luck when his mother’s family joined the support of Sulla. He was allowed to come out of hiding, but he was stripped of his title of priest. As things went, this would make the man be, because priests were not allowed to become part of the military. Free of his title, Caesar looked to the army.
This being a time of pervasive back-stabbing, the literal kind, Caesar was well aware that being close to Sulla was perhaps not a prudent thing to do. He got out of Rome as fast as he could and joined military campaigns that stretched to Asia. He soon became a man of distinction and received credit for his part in military victories.
Caesar had found his footing and his bearing in life. When he was 22 years old the great Sulla bit the dust, and with him out of the way, Caesar knew he could likely return to Rome without the fear of being killed by an enemy. That he did, and he acquired a house in the “Subura”, a lower-class neighborhood ripe with a crime where the streets always thronged with people. Stripped of his inheritance, Caesar was not a wealthy man by any means.
He’s getting to know those streets would shape his view of life. He would not forget the average man. It’s now that Caesar’s life took another turn because during his time in the suburb he became an admired prosecutor who brought down corrupt governors who had taken advantage of their positions and was renowned for his gift of speech and dazzled people with his fluid orations.
He fought righteously and he won. Also, he garnered even more praise in Rome after people heard the story of him being kidnapped by pirates when he was traveling the seas. While a held prisoner he showed no fear and even demanded that the pirates raise the ransom they had asked for. He was worth more than the demand, he told the pirates. The money was paid and Caesar was released, but that wasn’t the end of it. He soon got a fleet together and went in search of the pirates.
He found them and brought them back to Rome to face the music and had them all crucified, just as he had told them would happen when he was in captivity. But Caesar was lenient, too, and rather than have them experience the full force of this brutal kind of execution, he first slit their throats. After that, it was back to the army and more campaigns in Asia. On his return to Rome, the now esteemed man was quickly made a public official and it is here where his life in politics began.
It wasn’t all plain sailing. He lost his wife, then married again, and then divorced. But at age 37 he ran for the position of Pontifex Maximus, which translates as chief priest of the Roman state religion. It was a messy affair, with his rivals for that post accused of corruption. But Caesar won and it wasn’t even close. At the age of 41 he was elected senior Roman consul, a position he gained with the help of some powerful friends. He and these two friends would form what is called the First Triumvirate.
This consisted of Caesar, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey), and Marcus Licinius Crassus. Why would they do that? Well, the simple answer is the constitution was in place to prevent any one person from becoming too powerful and having too much control. But these men agreed to make a secret alliance in which they would help each other. Together they were powerful, and each of them would take advantage of that. Caesar had one thing in mind to start with, a populist move that would involve redistributing public land to some of the poorer people in Rome.
If anyone was against this, he said force might be used. The two men in his triumvirate agreed, and so people became aware of the alliance. He was successful, but his number of enemies was growing, especially within the ranks of the Roman aristocracy. Caesar was viewed as a populist upstart, a possible danger to the wealthy elite, but he had the admiration of the people for his social reform. He had the backing of his co-aligned, and so his power just grew and grew.
The thing was, he was still not a rich man and he had debts to pay. He was aware that money could be made by winning military campaigns, and he looked towards the region of Gaul which now covers parts of western Europe. That land was inhabited by Germanic tribes that might be a threat to Rome, so Caesar defeated them with two legions.
He wasn’t done by any means, and he defeated more tribes. After this, he concentrated his efforts on an invasion of Briton. On his way there he won more campaigns winning battles against various European tribes, although his first invasion of Britain was unsuccessful. On his second attempt, his troops made it further inland and some alliances were made, but Caesar was forced to retreat once more due to revolts in Gaul. But we shouldn’t underestimate what he had achieved.
Caesar and his legions had crossed Europe and they had defeated everyone in their path. They had breached the borders of that island of Briton. Caesar had gained great respect for these campaigns, but he had his detractors in the people that thought he was gaining too much power. In Rome there was trouble, and the triumvirate was strained. One of the enduring strengths of this alliance was the fact that Caesar’s daughter was married to Pompey, but she died while giving birth. Caesar offered him another relative, albeit a distant one this time, and that was turned down.
Things went from bad to worse when the third member of the triumvirate, Crassus, died in a military campaign. Pompey then married the daughter of one of Caesar’s political enemies and that was the end of the triad. Caesar meanwhile was busy fighting insurrection in Gaul, campaigns that at times may not have gone as he wanted, but he nonetheless came out as the victor.
The many tribes had known if they fought each other and the Romans they were done for, so they formed an alliance and did have some success against Caesar’s armies. But in the end, Caesar was victorious and he marched through parts of Europe and defeated around 300 tribes while destroying 800 cities.
Caesar is now 50 years old and he faces a very big problem. Pompey is heading the senate and he’s just demanded that Caesar disband his legions and return to Rome. Caesar is seen as a power unto himself and a threat to those in the Senate. He’s accused of insubordination and treason. He knows what will happen and he does not meet the demand. Instead, he takes a single legion, of men who are wholeheartedly behind him, to the border of Italy. He will not bow down. In Caesar’s own words he said, “the die is cast” and he entered Italy ready to go against his opponents in the Senate.
Caesar was vastly outnumbered with his one legion, but those were hardened men who’d been fighting tribes for some time. The fight didn’t even happen and Pompey fled to Spain with his tail between his legs. Caesar went in pursuit and left Rome in the hands of the great Mark Anthony. Caesar had no ships since they had been taken by Pompey, and so he marched into Spain, first subduing anyone that might align with Pompey and his troops, and then going in search of Pompey himself.
What ensued was the Battle of Dyrrhachium, and at first, Pompey had all the strategic advantages. Caesar’s army was in a bad position, unable to attack and blocked in so they could not get provisions to feed themselves. Pompey on the other hand had the sea, and he could wait as long as he wanted. But as time went by Pompey was finding it more difficult to get supplies, while the harvest was on its way and Caesar would be in good stead for battle.
When the fighting finally commenced, Caesar lost ground; he was simply outnumbered by Pompey’s forces. Both forces didn’t back down, but in the end, Caesar halted his attacks. Both armies retreated and went in search of more men as well as supplies, and then what happened sometime after was the Battle of Pharsalus in Greece. Pompey again was in a much stronger position with double the troops that Caesar had and a lot more provisions.
He knew if he just waited, Caesar’s army would starve. But the senate demanded Pompey attack and so he did. Caesar’s battle-hardened soldiers were commendable, and his instructions were perfect. At the end of the battle when many men had lost their lives all Pompey could do was watch his men running away.
He had finally been defeated. Caesar was a proud man and it’s said he remembered every officer, or centurion, by their name. Pompey fled to Egypt but there Ptolemy XIII demanded that he be executed. He gave the head to Caesar to see. It backfired and Caesar was inflamed because he had been using his time granting amnesty to all those in the senate that had been against him. Instead of killing his enemies and anyone who had fought against him, Caesar showed mercy and allowed the men to live their lives normally.
Caesar then campaigned against the Egyptian pharaoh and he won again. He made the great Cleopatra the ruler and they became lovers, which is a story that has gone down in history. Although Caesar was married in Rome, what happened in Egypt kind of stayed in Egypt.
Now dictator of Rome, Caesar went off again on more campaigns, and this time he easily defeated armies in the Middle East. He moved on to Africa where there were Roman enemies who had been aligned with Pompey, and while he didn’t win all the fights, he did enough. The campaigns didn’t stop and Caesar went away to Spain.
At this time his name was being sung in the streets and he was being praised for the great and merciful man he was. His enemies were not all slaughtered, but they had not turned against him in Rome. But enmity towards him started to fester when he was made dictator for another ten years and began a course of social reforms that supported the lower and middle classes.
This infuriated most of the wealthy people of course. He wanted to reform taxes; subsidize grain, reduce government debt, support veterans of the military. Aso, he gives Roman citizenship to people in territories far and wide. Also, made laws so that certain people couldn’t buy extravagant luxury goods. He also brought in the Julian calendar, the precursor to the calendar we use today in the West.
At the same time, he held outrageous games where 100s of wild animals were killed as well as over 2,000 war captives. This kind of thing was seen as over the top by some people. It was March 15 and Caesar was 55 years old. He had won over many of the people and had become known as a mighty leader, but his power and his reforms had annoyed many of the Roman elites.
They wanted him dead, and so they plotted to assassinate him. Mark Anthony had gotten wind of this plot, but his own plan to inform Caesar was thwarted. Caesar was called to the Senate where he thought he had some matters to deal with, but little did he know that when he arrived those waiting for him had all conspired to kill him.
Senators grabbed him and pulled him to the ground and then proceeded to stab him. His body was punctured 23 times and 60 men were involved. It was the politician named Marcus Junius Brutus that led the plot, and some records state that Caesar’s last words were, “You too, Brutus?” Brutus then marched through the streets announcing to the people that once again Rome was free.
The consequence of this was the lower and middle classes were outraged that their champion had been brutally murdered by corrupt politicians. They became a mob and a violent one at that. The story is a long one, but civil wars ensued.
Mark Anthony aligned with Caesar’s old flame, Cleopatra, and the two of them warred against Caesar’s grandnephew, Octavian. Octavian won, and he became the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Caesar has gone down as perhaps the greatest military leader in ancient Rome. He had an expression he used to state how he quickly dealt with other armies. That was, “Veni, Vidi, Vici” or “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Following is the best collection of Julius Caesar Quotes
Julius Caesar Quotes on Death:
“A coward dies a thousand deaths, the gallant never taste of death but once.”
“The die has been cast.”
“Death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
“Which death is preferably to every other? ‘The unexpected'”
“When beggars die, there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.”
“I love the name of honor more than I fear death.”
“Cowards die many times before their deaths.”
Julius Caesar Quotes on Pride:
“If I fail it is only because I have too much pride and ambition.”
“Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And sure he is an honorable man.”
“No one is so brave that he is not disturbed by something unexpected.”
Julius Caesar Quotes on Conquer:
“I came, I saw, I conquered.”
“All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third.”
“If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it.”
“I have lived long enough to satisfy both nature and glory.”
“I came to Rome when it was a city of stone … and left it a city of marble”
”But I am constant as the Northern Star, of whose true fixed and resting quality there is no fellow in the firmament. ”
Julius Caesar Quotes on Patience:
“It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”
“Good reasons must, of course, give place to better.”
Julius Caesar Quotes on Knowledge:
“Without training, they lacked knowledge. Without knowledge, they lacked confidence. Without confidence, they lacked victory.”
“Experience is the teacher of all things.”
“It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life.”
Julius Caesar Quotes on Wine and Luxuries:
“Wine and other luxuries have a tendency to enervate the mind and make men less brave in battle.”
“Beer … a high and mighty liquor.”
“All bad precedents begin as justifiable measures.”
Julius Caesar Quotes on War:
“War gives the right to the conquerors to impose any condition they please upon the vanquished.”
“In war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.”
“To win by strategy is no less the role of a general than to win by arms.”
“I am going to Spain to fight an army without a general, and thence to the East to fight a general without an army.”
“Fortune, which has a great deal of power in other matters but especially in war, can bring about great changes in a situation through very slight forces.”
“Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”
“Many of you wished me dead. Many of you perhaps still do. But I hold no grudges and seek no revenge. I demand only this that you join with me in building a new Rome, a Rome that offers justice, peace, and land to all its citizens, not just the privileged few. Support me in this task, and old divisions will be forgotten. Oppose me, and Rome will not forgive you a second time. Senators, the war is over.”
Julius Caesar Quotes on Suffering:
“It is better to suffer once than to be in perpetual apprehension.”
“I’d rather ten guilty persons should escape than one innocent should suffer.”
Julius Caesar Quotes on Believe:
“In the end, it is impossible not to become what others believe you are.”
“What we wish, we readily believe, and what we ourselves think, we imagine others think also.”
“Bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.”
Julius Caesar Quotes on Patriotism:
“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.“
“During a few days’ halt near Vesontio for the provision of corn and other supplies, a panic arose from inquiries made by our troops and remarks uttered by Gauls and traders, who affirmed that the Germans were men of a mighty frame and incredible valor and skill at arms. “
“I am prepared to resort to anything, to submit to anything, for the sake of the commonwealth.”
Julius Caesar Quotes on Gods:
“The immortal gods are wont to allow those persons whom they wish to punish for their guilt sometimes a greater prosperity and longer impunity, in order that they may suffer the more severely from a reverse of circumstances.”
“Let us go where the gods have shown us the way and the injustice of our enemies calls us.”
Julius Caesar Quotes on Men:
“Men willingly believe what they wish.”
“As a rule, what is out of sight disturbs men’s minds more seriously than what they see.”
“The evil that men do lives after them;
“Men’s minds tend to fear more keenly those things that are absent.”
“There is a tide in the affairs of men.”
“Men freely believe that which they desire.”
“Our men must win or die. Pompey’s men have… other options.”
“Men in general are quick to believe that which they wish to be true.”
Other Quotes by Julius Caesar
“Let me have men about me that are fat, Sleek-headed-men, and such as sleep o’nights; Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much; such men are dangerous.”
“Go on, my friend, and fear nothing; you carry Caesar and his fortune in your boat.”
“I believe that the members of my family must be as free from suspicion as from actual crime.”
“I had rather be first in a village than second at Rome.”
“Arms and laws do not flourish together.”
“Good gentlemen, look fresh and merrily. Let not our looks put on our purposes, But bear it as our Roman actors do, With untired spirits and formal constancy.”
“The difference between a republic and an empire is the loyalty of one’s army.”
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
“No music is so charming to my ear as the requests of my friends, and the supplications of those in want of my assistance.”
“During a few days’ halt near Vesontio for the provision of corn and other supplies, a panic arose from inquiries made by our troops and remarks uttered by Gauls and traders, who affirmed that the Germans were men of a mighty frame and an incredible valour and skill at arms.”
“I love treason but hate a traitor.”
“The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.”
These are the best collection of Julius Caesar Quotes. These quotes are very inspiring and useful in this era too. I hope you like the collection of Julius Caesar Quotes.
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