Julius Caesar, military genius, empire builder and conquering hero, was one of antiquity's greatest and most influential legends. Born around 100 B.C.E., Julius Caesar was the child of a moderately wealthy patrician family. Around 81 B.C.E. when Caesar was about eighteen years old, he joined the Roman Army. His military cunning and strict adherence to Roman ethics saw his rise within the Legions until he was a commander, leading his legions on many campaigns, including two invasions of Britannia (later known as Great Britain) in 55 and 54 B.C.E.
Mixing Military and Politics
In addition to his military prowess, Caesar developed a love of politics. In 65 B.C.E. he was appointed an adele and charged with governance of Rome's public entertainments. This was an important position, because Romans expected the highest quality in their pageants, parades and more. It was also vital that Caesar keep the Romans happy or the mob might turn on them. Caesar borrowed extensive sums of money to put on the most elaborate pageants and feasts for Rome where everyone is invited and courted Rome's wealthiest patron, Crassus.
Caesar's star was on the rise, he was appointed a consul in 59 B.C.E. and later served as governor of Gaul (later known as France) in 58 B.C.E. A stern and strict leader, Caesar earned a near fanatical loyalty from the fifty thousand troops that followed him. The people of Rome loved him, the men in his legions loved him, but the Senate and the other Roman commanders were not so certain of Caesar or his intentions.
In 49 B.C.E., Rome's Senate ordered Caesar to surrender his legions to their command. Instead of obeying, he marched his forces into Italy. Not only had Caesar violated Roman law (Governors were not allowed to leave their territories), but he continued to advance his forces towards Rome itself. His clashes with Pompey (another Roman commander) dispersed Pompey's legions and sent the man fleeing to Egypt where the Egyptian Pharaoh Ptolemy VI executed him.
With little to oppose him, Caesar spent the next several years picking off his enemies both foreign and domestic. During his time in Egypt, he married Queen Cleopatra, destroyed her brother's armies and installed her as sole ruler. He even fathered children with her.
Dictator for Life
In 45 B.C.E. Caesar made a triumphant return to Rome, replacing disloyal senators with his own appointments and declaring himself Dictator for life. But the men Caesar displaced were wealthy, cunning and patient. They plotted against him and worried that Caesar, too obsessed with his own rise to power, would dismantle the Roman notion of equality and rule by mob, assassinated him in 44 B.C.E.
But even his successor, Augustus took the name Caesar. Despite his death, Caesar's accomplishments became synonymous with leadership and rule. The titles Czar (former royalty of Russia) and Kaiser (former rulers of Germany) can trace their roots to one man: Julius Caesar.