Julius Caesar

November 25, 2012 3:14 am

Was Julius Caesar mostly interested in serving the people whom he ruled? Or was he only interested in grabbing power? People who met the Roman statesman could not agree. Caesar was a brilliant soldier and a clever, capable ruler. But he was also extremely ambitious.
A FAMOUS FAMILY
Caesar was born in 100 bc, to one of Rome’s most famous families. But his family had many enemies, and Caesar thought it best to leave Rome. He trained as a soldier and went to study in Greece. But he hoped for a political career.
Caesar returned to Rome in 73 bc and made plans to run for office. He worked on the election campaigns of army general Pompey and Crassus, a very rich noble. The men were running for consul, which was then the highest office in Rome. To win support for the candidates, Caesar invited citizens to attend free gladiator shows in which men fought each other with swords. In 59 bc, Caesar was voted consul. The next year, he became governor of Gaul (a large Roman province in Western Europe).
WAR HERO
In Gaul, Caesar won famous victories against German and Celtic tribes. Then he invaded Britain and defeated the Britons. To celebrate—and boast—he wrote a book about his military successes in Gaul.
Caesar’s success made Pompey jealous, and he tried to get Caesar removed as commander in Gaul. Furious with his former friend, Caesar declared war. Pompey ran away to Greece and then Egypt, but Caesar followed him. Pompey was murdered in Egypt before Caesar arrived.
Caesar spent some time in Egypt. He helped put queen Cleopatra back on the throne as Egypt’s ruler. Cleopatra’s brother had removed her from power. Next, Caesar marched east, to crush a rebellion in what is now Turkey.
TOO MUCH POWER?
In 45 bc, Caesar was back in Rome. He was named dictator for life and given total political power. He reformed the law, reorganized taxes, and introduced a new calendar. We still use a calendar based on the Julian calendar. He named the month of July after himself.
Caesar also commanded the Roman army, and was chief priest of the Roman religion. Many Romans admired him, but others felt uneasy that he had so much power. Some senators felt the Roman Senate should have more power. These senators stabbed Caesar to death on March 15 in 44 bc. March 15 was known as the Ides of March in the Roman calendar. When people say, “Beware the Ides of March,” they are referring to the plot to kill Caesar and the possibility of unknown danger lurking nearby.
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