Julius Caesar

In my
opinion, no other man in the history of the world symbolizes military and
political strength as much as Julius Caesar does. Caesar was born on July 12,
100 BC in Rome, Italy (Encarta 2000). His father belonged to the prestigious
Julian clan (Internet Explorer) His uncle by marriage was Gaius Marius, leader
of the Populares which supported agrarian reform and opposed the Optimates (Comptons
Encyclopedia). Marius saw to it that Julius Caesar was appointed flamen dialis
which is a archaic priesthood with no power. Caesar’s marriage in 84 BC to
Cornelia, the daughter of Marius’s associate was a political Match (Lindsay Salo).

When Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Marius’s enemy and leader of the Optimates, was
made dictator in 82 BC, he issued a list of enemies to be executed. Caesar was
not harmed but he was ordered by Sulla to divorce Cornelia. Caesar refused that
order and left Rome to join the army (Lindsay Salo) (Comptons Encyclopedia).

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This was the beginning of an astonishing military career. He became second in
command of the province Asia (Turkey) (Lindsay Salo). In two years he proved his
bravery and superior skills at arms. After these years and Sulla’s resignation
in 78 BC, Julius decided to return to Rome. There he served as an officer in
Crassus’s army against Spartacus, Caesar climbed steadily in the government by
serving as an official in many provinces (Internet Explorer). After the death of
his wife Cornelia, Julius remarried a wealthy wife and allied with Crassus, who
was the richest man in Rome at the time (Internet Explorer). Their opponent was
Pompeius Magnus (the Great). Caesar wanted to become part of the consulate. The
consulate was a governmental position where two consuls, nominated each year,
held the power of the state. Caesar was hoping that he and Crassus would become
the powerful consuls of the Roman Empire. However, the Senate tried to stop his
efforts by pitting Crassus, Pompeius and Caesar against each other. Caesar
noticed this and did something believed impossible. Julius created an alliance
among himself, Crassus, and Pompeius (Encarta 2000). The alliance made it
possible for them all to share power. This three way consulship was called a
Triumvirate (Internet Explorer). This agreement dictated the Roman policy for
the next decade. They shared all offices between them and their followers and
that’s the way Caesar became Governor of Gaul Transalpinia (Encarta 2000). He
had three legions (15,000 men) under his command. Julius Caesar then marched
into Celtic Gaul, defeated the Helvetii, and forced them to return to their home
(Encarta 200). Next, he crushed Germanic forces under Ariovistus and further
proved his excellent leadership. Julius Caesar now turned his mind completely on
politics. In 51 BC, while still fighting some resistant clans, he proposed to
the Senate to extend his governor-ship for another two years, which allowed him
to run for consul in the year 48 BC (A consul could only become consul again
after 10 years). He said that he earned it based on his presentations in Gaul
and referred to Pompeius whose governor ship in Spain had been extended the year
before. But the senate hesitated. In the year 50 BC, Caesar still tried to
extend his governor ship, but to ensure the loyalty of his army he doubled their
pay. Other huge sums went into public funds and the creation of his own silver
coins: “CAE” on one side and “SAR” on the other, and a
kneeling Vercingetorix before him (Encarta 2000). The two consuls of 50 BC were
hostile to him, but he managed to bribe one of them. This caused a stalemate in
the Senate. Then, late in the fall, the senate decide that Caesar and Pompeius
were to relinquish control of their armies and provinces. Caesar’s followers
tried to veto it, but the hostile consul ordered Pompeius to defend the Republic
with two Legions at Capua and the authority to raise more. Caesar thereupon
gathered his own armies and went south. Both commanders were still on speaking
terms and Caesar made another proposal. The proposal was that he would
relinquish control of all but two of his legions and The province of Cisalpine
Gaul (the part of Gaul lying in Italy). Pompeius agreed, but the senate ordered
him to wait. Caesar then made an ultimatum. Julius summed up his services to the
state and demanded that he could keep his legions and provinces till he was
elected consul. In January 49 BC Mark Anthony, Caesar’s trusted lieutenant,
demanded that the ultimatum he read aloud in the senate. Although the majority
would have swayed for peace, the opponents of Caesar would allow no compromises
and bullied all the frightened senators that Caesar should disband his armies or
be declared enemy of the state. The Senate then stripped Julius of all his
offices and the Republic declared war on him. Julius Caesar’s reaction to this
was on January 11. He led his single legion, which he had assembled, across the
bridge over a small stream that marked the boundary between his province and the
Roman homeland. This spot was the Rubicon. Pompeius tried to stop Caesar, but
all was in vain. No one dared to stand up against Caesar’s superior veteran
soldiers. The senate and Pompeius were now panic stricken and left Italy to head
toward Albania, without taking the treasury with them. Once in Rome, Caesar
wasted no time. Against no effective opposition, he assembled a makeshift
senate, took control of the government and broke open the treasury. Mark Anthony
was put in charge of the Italian legions and Caesar himself went to the
independent city of Massilia. He could not capture the city, but he went to
Spain and crushed Pompeius followers. When Caesar returned to Massilia, he was
clement and did not sack the city, but it was no longer independent. He returned
to Rome as a victor, but there was still Pompeius and the old senate. Pompeius
himself had raised a massive army in Macedonia. Caesar lacked a navy and was
forced to land in Yugoslavia with only 20,000 men (7 under powered legions).

Although Julius was largely outnumbered, he and Mark Anthony were victorious
over Pompeius. What happened was very odd. Strangely Pompeius withdrew his army
and Caesar remarked “Today the enemy would have won, if they had a
commander who was a winner.” Caesar now chased after Pompeius towards
Pharsalus. Here Caesar’s 32,000 faced Pompeius 43,000. It was going to be the
largest conflict of the civil war over the Roman Empire. On a morning in early
August both armies attacked. Caesar’s left and center held strong, while his
right withdrew. Pompeius, noticing Caesar’s weak side headed his cavalry in the
gap, but Caesar intelligently sent in his last reserve, and Pompeius lines
simply collapsed. Nineteen months after the crossing of the Rubico Caesar became
dictator and master of the Roman Empire. The defeated Pompeius now fled to Egypt
but was killed once there by his own men (Encarta 2000). Although he had to
stomp out several rebellions, in 46 BC Caesar finally could stage four Triumph
parades for his victories. Caesar is believed to have been only twenty-six years
old at the time. Caesar was now the ruler of the Roman Empire and the senate
declared him dictator for life. As a ruler, Caesar instituted various reforms.

In provinces, he eliminated the highly corrupt tax system, extended Roman
citizenship, and sponsored colonies of veterans. Also Caesar’s reform of the
calendar gave Rome a rational means of recording time which was very important
(Encarta 2000). However, a number of senatorial families felt that Caesar
threatened their position. Thus, on the 6th of March 44 BC, the so called Ides
of March, Caesar was murdered by Marcus Brutus, Gaius Cassius, and his two
trusted commanders of his old legions Decimus Brutus and Gaius Trebonius
(Encarta 2000). Caesar was stabbed twenty-three times. While the blood poured
out of his wounded body the great dictator of Rome silently pulled his toga over
his head and fell at the foot of a statue of Pompeius (Internet Explorer). In
conclusion, Julius Caesar was probably the greatest man of his time and the most
successful. It was Caesar who ended the Roman republic and paved the way for the
later Roman emperors (Encarta 2000). From his early life to his death no other
man accomplished as much as he did. Julius Caesar in my opinion was the greatest
soldier and dictator of all time.
Bibliography
1. Compton’s Encyclopedia
2. Encarta 2000
Biographies