Julius Caesar was a Roman general and dictator who lived from 100 BC to 44 BC. He helped to make Rome a great empire. He was also a talented writer.
Early life of Caesar
His father, Gaius Caesar died when Caesar was 16. Caesar’s mother, Aurelia, influenced her son greatly.
Although Caesar came from a noble upper class family, he supported the normal people.
Caesar studied public speaking on Rhodes, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. On his way there, he was captured by pirates who wanted gold from him. Caesar quickly organized a small navy, captured the pirates and had them killed.
Caesar enters politics
After Caesar returned from Rhodes, he began his political career. In 69 or 68 BC he became quaestor, a high Roman officer, who controlled finances. Caesar soon moved up the Roman political ladder. He organized great games that made him popular with the public.
In order to make him stronger Caesar made a political agreement with the two most powerful men in Rome, the rich Marcus Licinius Crassus and the popular general Pompey the Great. This partnership became known as the First Triumvirate. In 59 BC Caesar was elected consul, the highest public office in old Rome. As one of two consuls, he ruled the Roman state for one year.
After his year of office Caesar left Rome to govern Gaul, a province that is now France. There he worked and fought together with his soldiers. He fought against and conquered many tribes of Western Europe and became a great soldier.
Caesar takes Rome
Meanwhile, Caesar’s old friend Crassus was killed while fighting in Asia. Caesar and his other old friend, Pompey, then became rivals. They fought for power. Pompey wanted Caesar to give up his power but Caesar was unwilling to do that. He marched back from Gaul toward Italy at the head of his army.
The Romans sided with Caesar, so Pompey fled across the sea to Greece. Caesar took over the treasury in Rome and set up a government with himself as dictator. For five years Caesar’s soldiers fought against Pompey’s supporters.
Caesar followed Pompey to Egypt, but Pompey was murdered before Caesar could catch him. To prove his power, Caesar continued to fight and win battles. After one victory in Asia, he sent back the message, “Veni, vidi, vici.” which means “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
When Caesar returned to Rome he became the permanent head of the government and became even more honored and powerful. Romans created statues of him and compared him to god.
Caesar also had many enemies. Some of them thought that power should not be in the hand of one person.
On March 15, 44 BC, 60 senators organized the murder of Caesar at a meeting of the Senate. Caesar’s friend Brutus was head of the conspiracy. Caesar first fought back but then Brutus killed him with his dagger.
Rome’s greatest statesman and soldier left the world many things. Caesar founded the Julian calendar, which is now used in most parts of the world. The Roman month Quintilis, in which Caesar was born, was renamed July in his honor.