The Life And Death Of Julius Caesar

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In my opinion, Julius Caesar is the ultimate representation of military and political strength throughout history. Born on July 12, 100 BC in Rome, Italy (Encarta 2000), Caesar came from the esteemed Julian clan (Internet Explorer). Additionally, his uncle by marriage was Gaius Marius, the leader of the Populares faction that advocated for agrarian reform and opposed the Optimates (Comptons Encyclopedia).

Marius ensured that Julius Caesar became flamen dialis, an obsolete religious role without authority. The marriage between Caesar and Cornelia in 84 BC, who was the daughter of Marius’s friend, was a calculated political alliance (Lindsay Salo). Despite being included in a list of enemies to be executed by Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Marius’s adversary and leader of the Optimates, Caesar managed to escape unharmed. However, Sulla demanded Caesar to divorce Cornelia. Defying this command, Caesar chose to leave Rome and join the military (Lindsay Salo) (Comptons Encyclopedia). This marked the commencement of an extraordinary military career where he eventually became the second-in-command in the province of Asia (Turkey) (Lindsay Salo).

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In just two years, Julius demonstrated his bravery and exceptional military prowess. Following this achievement, in 78 BC, after Sulla’s resignation, he made the choice to go back to Rome. He joined Crassus’s army and fought against Spartacus, while simultaneously ascending the ranks in government by holding various administrative positions in numerous provinces (Internet Explorer).

Julius, after his wife Cornelia’s death, remarried a wealthy wife and joined forces with Crassus, the richest man in Rome at that time (Internet Explorer). They faced their opponent, Pompeius Magnus (the Great). Caesar desired to be part of the consulate, a governmental position in which two consuls, nominated annually, held state power. Caesar hoped that he and Crassus would become powerful consuls of the Roman Empire. However, the Senate attempted to hinder his efforts by pitting Crassus, Pompeius, and Caesar against each other. Ceasar perceived this and achieved something thought impossible – he formed an alliance with Crassus and Pompeius (Encarta 2000).

The formation of an alliance enabled them to collectively hold power, known as a Triumvirate (Internet Explorer). This agreement determined Roman policy for the following ten years, with all offices being shared among the members and their respective supporters. As a result, Caesar assumed the role of Governor of Gaul Transalpinia (Encarta 2000), commanding three legions totaling 15,000 soldiers. Subsequently, Julius Caesar led a successful campaign in Celtic Gaul, defeating the Helvetii and compelling their retreat to their homeland (Encarta 200).

Julius Caesar continued his conquests after crushing the Germanic forces under Ariovistus. In 51 BC, while still dealing with resistant clans, he requested the Senate to extend his governorship by two years. This extension would allow him to run for consul in 48 BC, as a consul could only serve again after a gap of 10 years. Caesar justified his request by citing his achievements in Gaul and comparing them to Pompeius, whose governorship in Spain had been extended the previous year. However, the Senate expressed hesitation.

In 50 BC, Caesar attempted to prolong his governorship. In order to secure the allegiance of his army, he increased their wages. He also allocated significant funds towards public resources and minted his own currency. The coins featured “CAE” on one side, “SAR” on the other, and depicted a kneeling Vercingetorix in front of him (Encarta 2000).

The two consuls of 50 BC showed hostility towards Caesar, but he successfully bribed one of them, resulting in a deadlock in the Senate. Later that autumn, the Senate decided that both Caesar and Pompeius should give up control of their armies and provinces. Caesar’s supporters attempted to veto this decision, but the unfriendly consul commanded Pompeius to defend the Republic with two Legions at Capua and the authority to raise additional troops. In response, Caesar gathered his own armies and headed south. Despite their differences, both commanders were still communicating with each other when Caesar proposed a new idea. He suggested that he would surrender control of all but two of his legions along with the province of Cisalpine Gaul (the part of Gaul that is in Italy).

Pompeius agreed to Caesar’s request, but the senate instructed him to wait. In response, Caesar issued an ultimatum. He outlined his valuable contributions to the state and insisted on retaining his legions and provinces until he was elected consul. Then, in January 49 BC, Mark Anthony, a loyal lieutenant of Caesar, demanded that the ultimatum be read out loud in the senate. Despite the fact that the majority favored peace, Caesar’s opponents were unwilling to make any compromises. They intimidated the fearful senators, demanding that Caesar either disband his armies or be declared an enemy of the state.

On January 11, in reaction to the Senate stripping Julius of his offices and the Republic declaring war on him, Julius Caesar led his single legion across the Rubicon, a small stream that served as the boundary between his province and the Roman homeland. Despite Pompeius’ attempt to hinder him, Caesar’s superior veteran soldiers deterred anyone from opposing him.

Both the senate and Pompeius were filled with fear, prompting them to flee Italy and make their way to Albania, leaving the treasury behind. Caesar, upon arriving in Rome, swiftly took action. With no significant opposition, he gathered a temporary senate, assumed control of the government, and accessed the treasury. The responsibility of leading the Italian legions was entrusted to Mark Anthony, while Caesar journeyed to the autonomous city of Massilia. Although he was unsuccessful in capturing the city, he proceeded to Spain and decisively defeated Pompeius’ supporters.

Upon Caesar’s return to Massilia, he displayed mercy by refraining from sacking the city, although it lost its independence. Although he came back to Rome victorious, Pompeius and the old senate were still present. Pompeius, in fact, had assembled a formidable army in Macedonia. Caesar lacked a navy and had to disembark in Yugoslavia with a mere 20,000 soldiers (7 weakened legions).

Despite being greatly outnumbered, Julius and Mark Anthony emerged victorious over Pompeius in a peculiar turn of events. Unexpectedly, Pompeius withdrew his army, leading Caesar to comment, “Today the enemy would have won if they had a commander who was a winner.” Subsequently, Caesar pursued Pompeius towards Pharsalus, where his forces of 32,000 would face off against Pompeius’ 43,000, in what would become the largest conflict of the civil war for the Roman Empire.

Both armies attacked in the morning of early August. Caesar’s left and center remained strong, but his right withdrew. Pompeius observed Caesar’s vulnerable side and led his cavalry into the gap, but Caesar responded cleverly by deploying his final reserve force, causing Pompeius’ lines to crumble. After nineteen months since crossing the Rubico, Caesar became the dictator and ruler of the Roman Empire. The defeated Pompeius fled to Egypt but met his demise at the hands of his own men once there (Encarta 2000).

During his rule over the Roman Empire, Caesar managed to suppress numerous rebellions and accomplished enough victories to organize four Triumph parades in 46 BC. It is believed that at this time, Caesar was only twenty-six years old. He had risen to power as ruler of the empire and was declared dictator for life by the senate. As a leader, Caesar implemented various reforms including the elimination of a highly corrupt tax system and expanding Roman citizenship in provinces. Furthermore, he advocated for colonies for veterans. Additionally, Caesar’s calendar reform brought about an organized way of documenting time in Rome, which held significant importance (Encarta 2000).

Julius Caesar was assassinated on the 6th of March 44 BC, also known as the Ides of March.

Marcus Brutus, Gaius Cassius, Decimus Brutus, and Gaius Trebonius were responsible for his assassination. Their motivation was fear of Caesar’s potential threat to their families’ power.

During the attack, Caesar received twenty-three stab wounds. Despite this, he remained composed and covered his head with his toga before falling at the base of a statue.

Undoubtedly, Julius Caesar was the most accomplished and successful individual of his time. He played a vital role in concluding the Roman republic and paving the path for future Roman emperors (Encarta 2000). His achievements surpassed those of any other person throughout his lifetime. In my perspective, Julius Caesar was unparalleled in both military leadership and governance.


  1. Compton’s Encyclopedia
  2. Encarta 2000
  3. Internet Explorer
  4. Lindsay Salo

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The Life And Death Of Julius Caesar. (2018, Oct 05). Retrieved from

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