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Julius Ceasar Essay, Research Paper


Life and Conquest

I Came, I Saw, I Conquered

These words of Gaius Julius Caesar express the incredibly strong will and power of one of the most influential, political and military leaders the world has ever seen. Caesar s quick wits and ability to calculate the odds during battle led him to bring about the end of the Roman Republic and pave the way for the mighty Roman Empire. To fully understand the life of such an influential man like Julius Caesar one must examine the rise, peak, and fall of his power. Caesar was such an Influential person in history that many years past his time leaders from different countries used his name as a reference for their own. For example Czar and Kaisar both originate from the name Caesar.

Gauis Julius Caesar was born on the 13th day of July between the years 105-100 BCE into a patrician family who claimed to be descendents of the kings of Alba Hanga, and through them to Aeneas of Troy whose mother was the goddess Venis.1 Even Caesar s name Julius comes from the name of Venus s son Iulus. At the time of Caesar s birth Rome was still a republic and the empire was only really begging. Senators ruled, all of them motivated by the greed of wealth and power in the hope of becoming either a praetor or a council. These two senior posts or Imperium were of the highest regard at the time because it enabled anyone who possessed the rank the legal right to command an army. From Birth there seems to have existed a strong emotional attachment between mother and son. Caesar s father died in Pisa in 85 BCE and may not have been in Rome much during Caesar s youth. Not only was Caesar an only son, but also from his youth he suffered from epilepsy, a condition that often broke out at the worst times. 2 The boy was educated like the other patricians in rhetoric, philosophy and law. It was only after a near brink with death did the eighteen year old decide to enter the army. When Caesar was a young man he was captured by pirates. While he was their prisoner he would read to them from books of Greek and Roman literature. When the dirty pirates showed nothing but scorn for him and his books the young Caesar promised to hunt them all down and kill them after he was ransomed. The unknowing pirates should have killed him right there instead of laughing and making fun of him.3 Julius Caesar made good on his promise, though. After his release Caesar borrowed a ship from the governor of a nearby island and hunted down his captors one by one. After defeating them, he crucified the whole band together, leaving them to die of thirst hanging naked in the hot Mediterranean sun.4

This was the begging of an astonishing military career. Caesar became second in command of the province of Asia(Turkey). In just two short years he made a name for himself through his bravery and courage at arms. Right after these beneficial years, he returned to Rome to serve as an officer in Crassus s army against Sparticus and climbed steadily up in the government by serving as an official in the Province. The intelligent leader then married a wealthy roman women an allied with Crassus, then the richest man in Rome. In 61 BCE Caesar was sent to Spain and received military post as governor. He ruthlessly suppressed all resistance and returned to Rome a hero. However Caesar was not yet satisfied. The eager worrier set his sights at the Roman Consol and the power it brought. While all of this was going on the Senate began to feel jealous and afraid of Caesar s growing popularity and tried to turn Caesar his ally Crassus and Caesar s already big contestant Gneaus Pompeius( the great) against eachother.5 But Caesar was quick to notice this and did something believed impossible; he created an alliance between him and the other two to share all the power. As a result the senate was effectively bypassed and the first Triumvirate was born.

The largest reason why Julius Caesar is remembered by most historians is most likely his conquest of Gaul and Britain. At the time of Caesar the land that is North Western Europe today was known as Gaul. All of Gaul was free from Roman rule and was divided into Celtic tribes. These tribes were constantly fighting each other and except for the higher up leaders or Druids no one really feared the advancing Romans. Or Julius Caesar for that matter. The will to conquer drove Caesar North into Gaul and that strong will transferred into the generals legions, which made them so faithful that on one account when his troops were low on food and were hungry during a siege, Caesar ordered his men to eat grass and they loyally obeyed. He had three legions( 1500 men) under his command. However when the Helvetti invaded Gaul and Italy he accidentally got command of an additional army.6 After Caesar had crushed the Helvetti he prepared his legions and set his attention on the Celts, and the second of his many campaigns of Gaul began.

Caesar was a brilliant military leader, he led many campaigns

58 BCE- The Helvetic Campaign

57 BCE- The Belgic Campaign

56 BCE- The Venetic Campaign

55 BCE- The German Campaign

54 BCE- The British Campaign

There can be no doubt that Caesar was an extremely competent general. He understood strategy tactics. He was almost always aware of the movements of his enemies. And as a result, was almost always able to choose the time and place for battle. In 56 BCE, the operations in Brittany continued. Caesar destroyed the Venti and the next year conquered the Morini and Menapii and virtually exterminated two German Tribes.7 Confident with his victories Caesar bridged the Rhine and raided Germany before crossing the channel into Britain. The Roman People where so impressed by these feats they voted him twenty days of public thanksgiving. The reality was that things were begging to get out of hand. His expeditions to Germany and Britain had both been brief and Gaul was far from pacified.8 Nevertheless Caesar prepared to launch a new expedition on Britain the next year.

800 ships and 5 legions were invested the second time he crossed the channel. Such an astonishing record that it would stand until the allied landings on Normandy during the 2nd World War. The Primary reason why Caesar s Campaigns in Gaul were so successful was because although there were a lot of tribes with a lot of good worriers in Gaul, no one would unite them all together and give the enormous Roman legions an equal fight. Until. One tribal prince Celtius of the Averni,, attempted to do just that and make himself king of all free Gaul. This was supposedly against the Gaelic beliefs and is punishable by death. However Celtius was found murdered not by his own people but the evidence suggested that Roman weapons were used.9 Celtius son Vercingetorix became furious and blamed the Romans. He also realized that if he wanted to remain free, he would have to unite all tribes together. During the rebellion of Vercingetorix, Caesar himself recorded many battles such as, Cenabum which he won, the battle of Bourges in which Vercingetorixs men, out numbered and scared by the Romans attempted to flea the city quietly. However the wives of the men refusing to become Roman slaves began shouting and screaming so they had to cancel the escape plan and were eventually defeated. Caesar then followed this up by a victory at gergovia. Finally Vercingetorix suffered the final blow at the siege at Alessia. Caesar was able to ally with the Germans and use their intelligence of the land for his advantage. The battle began and Caesar sent in the Germans. After a while both sides were loosing strength and the Gauls were giving up hope. As a final blow Caesar led an attack personally with fresh soldiers and the Gauls were brutally defeated. The next day Vercingetorix gave himself up to Caesar. Gaul was no longer a free country but was under the control of Rome and Julius Caesar had got the rewards he was looking for.10

When Caesar was in Gaul and organizing the conquered territories, Crassus and Pompey tried to enlarge their powers as well. While Pompey succeeded, Crassus was not so lucky. He was defeated by the Parthians who live in modern Iraq. And killed by the thing he desired most, gold. The precious metal was liquefied and poured into his mouth. With this, only Caesar and Pompeius remained and the first triumvirate was over.

On January 11th in the year 49 BCE Julius Caesar crossed the Rubico River and sparked the second civil war. Pompeius fled to Egypt but was killed by his own men.11 In tern with his loyal legions behind him, Caesar was now master ruler of Rome. In 46 BCE Caesar, victorious over Pompeius , conqueror of Gaul and Profound military leader, decided to stage four Triumph Parades for himself. After the first Parade was Caesar s old enemy Vercingetorix strangled to further the festivities. Caesar was now indestructible and the senate declared him dictator for life.

Caesar was now almost free to make reforms to improve life in Rome. However he needed the Senate s help to pass legislation.12 The civil war against Pompey had taken a toll on the senate. Many of Pompey s supporters were senators but they were killed in battle. Caesar then increased the number of senators from 5-6 hundred, to around 9 hundred and filled those vacant seats with people he selected. Effectively the Senate became nothing more than a puppet of Caesars power.13 This monopoly of power led the upper class Roman citizens who once had a say in the ruling of the republic to become worried and believe that Caesar was going to destroy the republic and all the traditions that they held dear, and bring back the monarchy which the rich Romans so hated.

So it began ..those who had come prepared for the murder all bared their daggers and hemmed Caesar in on every side. Whichever way he turned, he met the blows of daggers and saw the cold steel aimed at his face for it had been agreed that they must all take part in the sacrifice, and all flesh themselves with his blood Either by chance or because he was pushed there by his murderers, he fell down against the pedestal on which the statue of Pompey stood 14 March 15, 44 BCE The Ides of March, on this day , Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated by Marcus Brutus, Gaius Cassius, Decimus Brutus and Gaius Trebonius. Struck twenty three times, he silently pulled his toga over his head and collapsed to the floor. The greatest general Rome had ever and did ever see was dead.

Caesars death was quickly avenged by his close friend Marc Anthony, his adopted great nephew Octavius and the commander of his cavalry Lepidus. Another triumvirate was born. But like the last one did not last long. Octavian came out the winner and it was with him that Caesar Augustus and the Roman Empire was born. From middle class plebian to single ruler of one of the greatest powers the world has ever seen, Gaius Julius Caesar transformed a Republic into an Empire and in doing so created a leader the world will never forget.


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