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Gaius Julius Caesar was born into a patrician family, the gens Julia , which claimed descent from Iulus , son of the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas , supposedly the son of the goddess Venus. They were granted patrician status, along with other noble Alban families. Despite their ancient pedigree, the Julii Caesares were not especially politically influential, although they had enjoyed some revival of their political fortunes in the early 1st century BC.

Little is recorded of Caesar's childhood. In 85 BC, Caesar's father died suddenly, [20] so Caesar was the head of the family at His coming of age coincided with a civil war between his uncle Gaius Marius and his rival Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Both sides carried out bloody purges of their political opponents whenever they were in the ascendancy. Marius and his ally Lucius Cornelius Cinna were in control of the city when Caesar was nominated as the new Flamen Dialis high priest of Jupiter , [21] and he was married to Cinna's daughter Cornelia.

Following Sulla's final victory, though, Caesar's connections to the old regime made him a target for the new one. He was stripped of his inheritance, his wife's dowry, and his priesthood, but he refused to divorce Cornelia and was forced to go into hiding. Sulla gave in reluctantly and is said to have declared that he saw many a Marius in Caesar. Caesar felt that it would be much safer far away from Sulla should the Dictator change his mind, so he left Rome and joined the army, serving under Marcus Minucius Thermus in Asia and Servilius Isauricus in Cilicia.

He served with distinction, winning the Civic Crown for his part in the Siege of Mytilene. He went on a mission to Bithynia to secure the assistance of King Nicomedes 's fleet, but he spent so long at Nicomedes' court that rumours arose of an affair with the king, which Caesar vehemently denied for the rest of his life. He lacked means since his inheritance was confiscated, but he acquired a modest house in Subura , a lower-class neighbourhood of Rome.

On the way across the Aegean Sea , [28] Caesar was kidnapped by pirates and held prisoner. The pirates demanded a ransom of 20 talents of silver, but he insisted that they ask for He had them crucified on his own authority, as he had promised while in captivity [33] —a promise that the pirates had taken as a joke.

As a sign of leniency, he first had their throats cut. He was soon called back into military action in Asia, raising a band of auxiliaries to repel an incursion from the east. On his return to Rome, he was elected military tribune , a first step in a political career. He was elected quaestor for 69 BC, [35] and during that year he delivered the funeral oration for his aunt Julia , and included images of her husband Marius in the funeral procession, unseen since the days of Sulla. His wife Cornelia also died that year. On his return in 67 BC, [38] he married Pompeia , a granddaughter of Sulla, whom he later divorced in 61 BC after her embroilment in the Bona Dea scandal.

In 63 BC, he ran for election to the post of Pontifex Maximus , chief priest of the Roman state religion. He ran against two powerful senators. Accusations of bribery were made by all sides. Caesar won comfortably, despite his opponents' greater experience and standing. After serving as praetor in 62 BC, Caesar was appointed to govern Hispania Ulterior the western part of the Iberian Peninsula as propraetor , [43] [44] [45] though some sources suggest that he held proconsular powers.

He turned to Marcus Licinius Crassus , one of Rome's richest men. Crassus paid some of Caesar's debts and acted as guarantor for others, in return for political support in his opposition to the interests of Pompey. Even so, to avoid becoming a private citizen and thus open to prosecution for his debts, Caesar left for his province before his praetorship had ended. In Spain, he conquered two local tribes and was hailed as imperator by his troops; he reformed the law regarding debts, and completed his governorship in high esteem.

In the Roman Republic, this was an honorary title assumed by certain military commanders. After an especially great victory, army troops in the field would proclaim their commander imperator , an acclamation necessary for a general to apply to the Senate for a triumph. However, he also wanted to stand for consul, the most senior magistracy in the republic. If he were to celebrate a triumph, he would have to remain a soldier and stay outside the city until the ceremony, but to stand for election he would need to lay down his command and enter Rome as a private citizen.

He could not do both in the time available.

Essay about Biography of Julius Caesar

He asked the senate for permission to stand in absentia , but Cato blocked the proposal. Faced with the choice between a triumph and the consulship, Caesar chose the consulship. The election was sordid — even Cato , with his reputation for incorruptibility, is said to have resorted to bribery in favour of one of Caesar's opponents. Caesar won, along with conservative Marcus Bibulus. Caesar was already in Crassus ' political debt, but he also made overtures to Pompey. Pompey and Crassus had been at odds for a decade, so Caesar tried to reconcile them.

The three of them had enough money and political influence to control public business.

This informal alliance, known as the First Triumvirate "rule of three men" , was cemented by the marriage of Pompey to Caesar's daughter Julia. Caesar proposed a law for redistributing public lands to the poor—by force of arms, if need be—a proposal supported by Pompey and by Crassus, making the triumvirate public. Pompey filled the city with soldiers, a move which intimidated the triumvirate's opponents. Bibulus attempted to declare the omens unfavourable and thus void the new law, but he was driven from the forum by Caesar's armed supporters.

His lictors had their fasces broken, two high magistrates accompanying him were wounded, and he had a bucket of excrement thrown over him.

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In fear of his life, he retired to his house for the rest of the year, issuing occasional proclamations of bad omens. These attempts proved ineffective in obstructing Caesar's legislation. Roman satirists ever after referred to the year as "the consulship of Julius and Caesar. When Caesar was first elected, the aristocracy tried to limit his future power by allotting the woods and pastures of Italy, rather than the governorship of a province, as his military command duty after his year in office was over.

The term of his governorship, and thus his immunity from prosecution, was set at five years, rather than the usual one. Caesar was still deeply in debt, but there was money to be made as a governor, whether by extortion [57] or by military adventurism.

Caesar had four legions under his command, two of his provinces bordered on unconquered territory, and parts of Gaul were known to be unstable. Some of Rome's Gallic allies had been defeated by their rivals at the Battle of Magetobriga , with the help of a contingent of Germanic tribes. The Romans feared these tribes were preparing to migrate south, closer to Italy, and that they had warlike intent. Caesar raised two new legions and defeated these tribes. In response to Caesar's earlier activities, the tribes in the north-east began to arm themselves.

Caesar treated this as an aggressive move and, after an inconclusive engagement against the united tribes, he conquered the tribes piecemeal. Meanwhile, one of his legions began the conquest of the tribes in the far north, directly opposite Britain. The Lucca Conference renewed the First Triumvirate and extended Caesar's governorship for another five years. In 55 BC, Caesar repelled an incursion into Gaul by two Germanic tribes, and followed it up by building a bridge across the Rhine and making a show of force in Germanic territory, before returning and dismantling the bridge.

Late that summer, having subdued two other tribes, he crossed into Britain , claiming that the Britons had aided one of his enemies the previous year, possibly the Veneti of Brittany. He advanced inland, and established a few alliances. However, poor harvests led to widespread revolt in Gaul, which forced Caesar to leave Britain for the last time. While Caesar was in Britain his daughter Julia, Pompey's wife, had died in childbirth. Caesar tried to re-secure Pompey's support by offering him his great-niece in marriage, but Pompey declined.

In 53 BC Crassus was killed leading a failed invasion of the east. Rome was on the brink of civil war. Pompey was appointed sole consul as an emergency measure, and married the daughter of a political opponent of Caesar. The Triumvirate was dead. Though the Gallic tribes were just as strong as the Romans militarily, the internal division among the Gauls guaranteed an easy victory for Caesar.

Vercingetorix 's attempt in 52 BC to unite them against Roman invasion came too late. In 50 BC, the Senate led by Pompey ordered Caesar to disband his army and return to Rome because his term as governor had finished. Pompey accused Caesar of insubordination and treason. Upon crossing the Rubicon , Caesar, according to Plutarch and Suetonius, is supposed to have quoted the Athenian playwright Menander , in Greek, " the die is cast ". Pompey, despite greatly outnumbering Caesar, who only had his Thirteenth Legion with him, did not intend to fight.

Ancient Rome

Caesar pursued Pompey, hoping to capture Pompey before his legions could escape. Pompey managed to escape before Caesar could capture him. After an astonishing day route-march, Caesar defeated Pompey's lieutenants, then returned east, to challenge Pompey in Illyria, where, on 10 July 48 BC in the battle of Dyrrhachium , Caesar barely avoided a catastrophic defeat. In an exceedingly short engagement later that year, he decisively defeated Pompey at Pharsalus , in Greece on 9 August 48 BC.

In Rome, Caesar was appointed dictator , [78] with Mark Antony as his Master of the Horse second in command ; Caesar presided over his own election to a second consulship and then, after 11 days, resigned this dictatorship.

There, Caesar was presented with Pompey's severed head and seal-ring, receiving these with tears. Caesar then became involved with an Egyptian civil war between the child pharaoh and his sister, wife, and co-regent queen, Cleopatra. Perhaps as a result of the pharaoh's role in Pompey's murder, Caesar sided with Cleopatra. The royal barge was accompanied by additional ships, and Caesar was introduced to the luxurious lifestyle of the Egyptian pharaohs. Caesar and Cleopatra were not married.

Caesar continued his relationship with Cleopatra throughout his last marriage—in Roman eyes, this did not constitute adultery—and probably fathered a son called Caesarion. Cleopatra visited Rome on more than one occasion, residing in Caesar's villa just outside Rome across the Tiber. Late in 48 BC, Caesar was again appointed dictator, with a term of one year.

After this victory, he was appointed dictator for 10 years. While he was still campaigning in Spain, the Senate began bestowing honours on Caesar. Caesar had not proscribed his enemies, instead pardoning almost all, and there was no serious public opposition to him. Great games and celebrations were held in April to honour Caesar's victory at Munda.

Plutarch writes that many Romans found the triumph held following Caesar's victory to be in poor taste, as those defeated in the civil war had not been foreigners, but instead fellow Romans. Caesar also wrote that if Octavian died before Caesar did, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus would be the next heir in succession. Second, he wanted to create a strong central government in Rome. Finally, he wanted to knit together all of the provinces into a single cohesive unit.