Julius Caesar

This article is about the Roman dictator. For his relatives named Julius Caesar, see Julii Caesares. For other uses, see Julius Caesar (disambiguation).
"Caesar" redirects here. For other uses, see Caesar (disambiguation).
Gaius Julius Caesar
César (13667960455).jpg
The Tusculum portrait, perhaps the only surviving sculpture of Caesar made during his lifetime
Dictator of the Roman Republic
In office
October 49 BC – 15 March 44 BC [a]
Consul of the Roman Republic
In office
1 January 44 BC – 15 March 44 BC
Serving with Mark Antony 
Preceded by C. Caninius Rebilus (Suffect)
and Gaius Trebonius (Suffect)
Succeeded by P. Cornelius Dolabella (Suffect)
and Mark Antony
In office
1 January 46 BC – September 45 BC
Serving with M. Aemilius Lepidus (46 BC)
Preceded by Q. Fufius Calenus
and Publius Vatinius
Succeeded by Q. Fabius Maximus (Suffect)
and Gaius Trebonius (Suffect)
In office
1 January 48 BC – 1 January 47 BC
Serving with P. Servilius Vatia Isauricus
Preceded by C. Claudius Marcellus Maior
and L. Cornelius Lentulus Crus
Succeeded by Q. Fufius Calenus
and Publius Vatinius
In office
1 January 59 BC – 1 January 58 BC
Serving with Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus
Preceded by Q. Caecilius Metellus Celer
and Lucius Afranius
Succeeded by L. Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus
and Aulus Gabinius
Personal details
Born 13 July 100 BC
Died 15 March 44 BC (aged 55)
Resting place Temple of Caesar, Rome
Political party Populares
Parents Gaius Julius Caesar and Aurelia Cotta
Religion Roman polytheism

Gaius Julius Caesar [b] (Classical Latin:  [ˈɡaː.i.ʊs ˈjuː.li.ʊs ˈkae̯.sar]; 13 July 100 BC [1] – 15 March 44 BC), [2] known as Julius Caesar, was a Roman politician, general, and notable author of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.

In 60 BC, Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey formed a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for several years. Their attempts to amass power as Populares were opposed by the Optimates within the Roman Senate, among them Cato the Younger with the frequent support of Cicero. Caesar's victories in the Gallic Wars, completed by 51 BC, extended Rome's territory to the English Channel and the Rhine. Caesar became the first Roman general to cross both the Channel and the Rhine, when he built a bridge across the Rhine and crossed the Channel to invade Britain.

These achievements granted him unmatched military power and threatened to eclipse the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC. With the Gallic Wars concluded, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome. Caesar refused the order, and instead marked his defiance in 49 BC by crossing the Rubicon with the 13th Legion, leaving his province and illegally entering Roman Italy under arms. [3] Civil war resulted, and Caesar's victory in the war put him in an unrivalled position of power and influence.

After assuming control of government, Caesar began a programme of social and governmental reforms, including the creation of the Julian calendar. He centralised the bureaucracy of the Republic and was eventually proclaimed " dictator in perpetuity", giving him additional authority. But the underlying political conflicts had not been resolved, and on the Ides of March (15 March) 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by a group of rebellious senators led by Marcus Junius Brutus. A new series of civil wars broke out, and the constitutional government of the Republic was never fully restored. Caesar's adopted heir Octavian, later known as Augustus, rose to sole power after defeating his opponents in the civil war. Octavian set about solidifying his power, and the era of the Roman Empire began.

Much of Caesar's life is known from his own accounts of his military campaigns, and from other contemporary sources, mainly the letters and speeches of Cicero and the historical writings of Sallust. The later biographies of Caesar by Suetonius and Plutarch are also major sources. Caesar is considered by many historians to be one of the greatest military commanders in history. [4]

Early life and career

Gaius Marius, Caesar's uncle

Caesar was born into a patrician family, the gens Julia, which claimed descent from Iulus, son of the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas, supposedly the son of the goddess Venus. [5] The cognomen "Caesar" originated, according to Pliny the Elder, with an ancestor who was born by Caesarean section (from the Latin verb to cut, caedere, caes-). [6] The Historia Augusta suggests three alternative explanations: that the first Caesar had a thick head of hair (Latin caesaries); that he had bright grey eyes (Latin oculis caesiis); or that he killed an elephant (caesai in Moorish) in battle. [7] Caesar issued coins featuring images of elephants, suggesting that he favored this interpretation of his name.

Despite their ancient pedigree, the Julii Caesares were not especially politically influential, although they had enjoyed some revival of their political fortunes in the early 1st century BC. [8] Caesar's father, also called Gaius Julius Caesar, governed the province of Asia, [9] and his sister Julia, Caesar's aunt, married Gaius Marius, one of the most prominent figures in the Republic. [10] His mother, Aurelia Cotta, came from an influential family. Little is recorded of Caesar's childhood. [11]

In 85 BC, Caesar's father died suddenly, [12] so Caesar was the head of the family at 16. His coming of age coincided with a civil war between his uncle Gaius Marius and his rival Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Both sides carried out bloody purges of their political opponents whenever they were in the ascendancy. Marius and his ally Lucius Cornelius Cinna were in control of the city when Caesar was nominated to be the new high priest of Jupiter, [13] and he was married to Cinna's daughter Cornelia. [14] [15] Following Sulla's final victory, though, Caesar's connections to the old regime made him a target for the new one. He was stripped of his inheritance, his wife's dowry, and his priesthood, but he refused to divorce Cornelia and was forced to go into hiding. [16] The threat against him was lifted by the intervention of his mother's family, which included supporters of Sulla, and the Vestal Virgins. Sulla gave in reluctantly, and is said to have declared that he saw many a Marius in Caesar. [11]

Caesar felt that it would be much safer far away from Sulla should the Dictator change his mind, so he left Rome and joined the army, serving under Marcus Minucius Thermus in Asia and Servilius Isauricus in Cilicia. He served with distinction, winning the Civic Crown for his part in the Siege of Mytilene. He went on a mission to Bithynia to secure the assistance of King Nicomedes's fleet, but he spent so long at Nicomedes' court that rumours arose of an affair with the king, which Caesar vehemently denied for the rest of his life. [17] Ironically, the loss of his priesthood had allowed him to pursue a military career, as the high priest of Jupiter was not permitted to touch a horse, sleep three nights outside his own bed or one night outside Rome, or look upon an army. [18]

Hearing of Sulla's death in 78 BC, Caesar felt safe enough to return to Rome. He lacked means since his inheritance was confiscated, but he acquired a modest house in Subura, a lower-class neighbourhood of Rome. [19] He turned to legal advocacy and became known for his exceptional oratory accompanied by impassioned gestures and a high-pitched voice, and ruthless prosecution of former governors notorious for extortion and corruption.

Dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla stripped Caesar of the priesthood.

On the way across the Aegean Sea, [20] Caesar was kidnapped by pirates and held prisoner. [21] [22] He maintained an attitude of superiority throughout his captivity. The pirates demanded a ransom of 20 talents of silver, but he insisted that they ask for 50. [23] [24] After the ransom was paid, Caesar raised a fleet, pursued and captured the pirates, and imprisoned them. He had them crucified on his own authority, as he had promised while in captivity [25]—a promise that the pirates had taken as a joke. As a sign of leniency, he first had their throats cut. He was soon called back into military action in Asia, raising a band of auxiliaries to repel an incursion from the east. [26]

On his return to Rome, he was elected military tribune, a first step in a political career. He was elected quaestor for 69 BC, [27] and during that year he delivered the funeral oration for his aunt Julia, and included images of her husband Marius in the funeral procession, unseen since the days of Sulla. His wife Cornelia also died that year. [28] Caesar went to serve his quaestorship in Spain after her funeral, in the spring or early summer of 69 BC. [29] While there, he is said to have encountered a statue of Alexander the Great, and realised with dissatisfaction that he was now at an age when Alexander had the world at his feet, while he had achieved comparatively little. On his return in 67 BC, [30] he married Pompeia, a granddaughter of Sulla, whom he later divorced in 61 BC after her embroilment in the Bona Dea scandal. [31]

In 63 BC, he ran for election to the post of Pontifex Maximus, chief priest of the Roman state religion. He ran against two powerful senators. Accusations of bribery were made by all sides. Caesar won comfortably, despite his opponents' greater experience and standing. [32] Cicero was consul that year, and he exposed Catiline's conspiracy to seize control of the republic; several senators accused Caesar of involvement in the plot. [33]

After serving as praetor in 62 BC, Caesar was appointed to govern Hispania Ulterior (modern south-eastern Spain) as propraetor, [34] [35] [36] though some sources suggest that he held proconsular powers. [37] [38] He was still in considerable debt and needed to satisfy his creditors before he could leave. He turned to Marcus Licinius Crassus, one of Rome's richest men. Crassus paid some of Caesar's debts and acted as guarantor for others, in return for political support in his opposition to the interests of Pompey. Even so, to avoid becoming a private citizen and thus be open to prosecution for his debts, Caesar left for his province before his praetorship had ended. In Spain, he conquered two local tribes and was hailed as imperator by his troops; he reformed the law regarding debts, and completed his governorship in high esteem. [39]

Caesar was acclaimed Imperator in 60 and 45 BC. In the Roman Republic, this was an honorary title assumed by certain military commanders. After an especially great victory, army troops in the field would proclaim their commander imperator, an acclamation necessary for a general to apply to the Senate for a triumph. However, he also wanted to stand for consul, the most senior magistracy in the republic. If he were to celebrate a triumph, he would have to remain a soldier and stay outside the city until the ceremony, but to stand for election he would need to lay down his command and enter Rome as a private citizen. He could not do both in the time available. He asked the senate for permission to stand in absentia, but Cato blocked the proposal. Faced with the choice between a triumph and the consulship, Caesar chose the consulship. [40]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Julius Caesar
Alemannisch: Gaius Julius Cäsar
العربية: يوليوس قيصر
aragonés: Chulio César
armãneashti: Julius Caesar
asturianu: Xuliu César
azərbaycanca: Qay Yuli Sezar
تۆرکجه: ژولیوس سزار
bamanankan: Julius Caesar
Bân-lâm-gú: Julius Caesar
башҡортса: Юлий Цезарь
беларуская: Гай Юлій Цэзар
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Гай Юліюс Цэзар
Bikol Central: Julius Caesar
Bislama: Julius Caesar
български: Юлий Цезар
bosanski: Julije Cezar
буряад: Юлий Цезарь
català: Juli Cèsar
Cebuano: Julius Caesar
čeština: Julius Caesar
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Julius Caesar
chiShona: Julius Caesar
Cymraeg: Iŵl Cesar
ދިވެހިބަސް: Julius Caesar
Ελληνικά: Ιούλιος Καίσαρ
español: Julio César
Esperanto: Julio Cezaro
estremeñu: Juliu Cesa
euskara: Julio Zesar
Fiji Hindi: Julius Caesar
føroyskt: Julius Cæsar
français: Jules César
Gaeilge: Iúil Caesar
Gàidhlig: Iulius Caesar
galego: Xulio César
贛語: 凱撒大帝
Gĩkũyũ: Julius Caesar
ગુજરાતી: જુલિયસ સીઝર
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Julius Caesar
Hawaiʻi: Iulius Caesar
Ilokano: Julius Caesar
Bahasa Indonesia: Julius Caesar
interlingua: Julio Cesare
Interlingue: Julius Caesar
íslenska: Júlíus Caesar
Basa Jawa: Julius Caesar
Kiswahili: Julius Caesar
Kreyòl ayisyen: Julius Caesar
لۊری شومالی: جوٙلیوٙس سئزار
latviešu: Jūlijs Cēzars
Lëtzebuergesch: Gaius Iulius Caesar
Limburgs: Julius Caesar
lingála: Julius Caesar
la .lojban.: .iuli'us. kaisar.
lumbaart: Giuli Ceser
македонски: Гај Јулиј Цезар
Malagasy: Joliosy Kaisara
მარგალური: იულიუს კეისარი
مازِرونی: سزار
Bahasa Melayu: Julius Caesar
Baso Minangkabau: Julius Caesar
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Julius Caesar
Mirandés: Júlio César
монгол: Юлий Цезарь
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဂျူးလိယက်ဆီဇာ
Nāhuatl: Julius Caesar
Dorerin Naoero: Julius Caesar
Na Vosa Vakaviti: Julius Caesar
Nederlands: Julius Caesar
Nēhiyawēwin / ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ: ᑭᑲᓯᑲᒋ ᑌᐊᐁᓭᐊᕃ
नेपाल भाषा: जुलियस सिजर
Napulitano: Gaio Giulio Cesare
Nordfriisk: Julius Cäsar
Norfuk / Pitkern: Julius Caesar
norsk bokmål: Julius Cæsar
norsk nynorsk: Julius Cæsar
Nouormand: Jules César
occitan: Juli Cesar
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Julius Caesar
پنجابی: جولیس سیزر
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ជូលីស៍ សេសារ
Piemontèis: Gajo Giulio Céser
Tok Pisin: Julius Caesar
Plattdüütsch: Gaius Julius Caesar
português: Júlio César
Qaraqalpaqsha: Julius Caesar
română: Iulius Cezar
русиньскый: Юлій Цезар
саха тыла: Юлий Цезарь
Gagana Samoa: Julius Caesar
संस्कृतम्: जुलियस कैसर
Sängö: Julius Caesar
Seeltersk: Julius Caesar
Sesotho: Julius Caesar
Simple English: Julius Caesar
slovenčina: Gaius Iulius Caesar
slovenščina: Gaj Julij Cezar
Soomaaliga: Julius Caesar
کوردیی ناوەندی: جولیوس سێزار
српски / srpski: Гај Јулије Цезар
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Gaj Julije Cezar
svenska: Julius Caesar
Tagalog: Julio Cesar
Taqbaylit: Yulyu Qiṣer
татарча/tatarça: Гай Юлий Цезарь
тоҷикӣ: Юлий Сезар
ᏣᎳᎩ: Julius Caesar
Tsetsêhestâhese: Julius Caesar
Tshivenda: Julius Caesar
Türkçe: Jül Sezar
українська: Гай Юлій Цезар
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: يۇلىئۇس كايسار
Vahcuengh: Gaejsa
Tiếng Việt: Julius Caesar
Volapük: Julius Caesar
文言: 凱撒
Winaray: Julius Caesar
吴语: 凱撒
Xitsonga: Julius Caesar
Yorùbá: Juliu Késárì
粵語: 凱撒
Zazaki: Caesar
Zeêuws: Julius Caesar
žemaitėška: Gajos Jolėjos Cezaris