Gaius Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar has been described as one of the most influential political and military leaders in history. He began the Roman transition from a republic to an empire. Caesar united Rome under his ruthless power; he controlled religion, senate, and the military. He almost made himself emperor, and this was the fact that inspired his assassination.
Caesar was born in Rome on July 12 or 13, 100 BC. He started his education early, as a young man he was placed under the tutorship of M. Antonius Gnipho, a freeborn native of Gaul. Antonius was a well-educated man, and well read in Greek and Latin. Caesar was a product of what could be called the Roman Renaissance; he was well educated in the culture of classical Greece. He was a realist, and very astute; he saw the real problem set out to solve it with great vigor. Julius belonged to the prestigious Julli clan; these were patricians and traced their lineage back to the goddess Venus. His uncle by marriage was Gaius Marius, leader of the Populares. This party was opposed by some of the senatorial faction. Caesar later married Cornelia in 84 BC; she was the daughter of one of Gaius’s associates. These two factors identified Caesar as a radical to certain members of the senate. Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Marius enemy was elected dictator in 82 BC, Sulla ordered Caesar to divorce Cornelia. Caesar refused and fled Rome to Samnium. He did not return to his home until Sulla resigned in 78 BC.
Caesar was captured in 78 BC by pirates on his way to Rhodes, he was said to have raised his ransom, raised a naval force, captured his captors, and had them executed, all while holding no public office. At Rhodes he studied rhetoric under Apollonius Molon, a celebrated master. There is no doubt he used his newly learned rhetoric on the unlucky pirates.
From 73 BC to 69 BC practically nothing is known of his life, in 69 BC he was elected questor, and in the following year served as such on the staff of C. Antistius Vetus, praetor of Spain. Shortly before he took his position he lost his aunt and his wife. When he returned to Rome and married Pompeia, this strange marriage has been considered a politically tactical move in order to gain an eventual strategic advantage.
In 67 BC Pompey the Great had supreme command in the east. Licinius Crassus a rich partician, was bitterly jealous of Pompey’s successes. These two men rivaled for the next dictatorship, so in order to keep up with Pompey, Crassus needs the popular support of the people. Who better to help Crassus then the outspoken and popular Julius Caesar, this alliance was considered a marriage de convenance. Caesar was a governor in Spain for a year, he returned in 60 BC. It was at this point that Julius formed a three-way alliance with Crassus and Pompey. This was known as the First Triumvirate. To cement their relationship further, Caesar gave his daughter Julia to Pompey in marriage. Now properly backed Caesar was elected to...