Julius Caesar has always been an important, well-known figure in history. His name still lives on, two thousand years after his death. Even the terms "Kaiser" and "Tsar" are renditions of "Caesar." To this day, the name "Caesar" conjures images of ancient Rome, conspiracies, intrigue, and murder. Thanks to William Shakespeare, most people know that he was betrayed and killed by his friends. He was extremely popular with the common Romans, and an ingenious military leader. It is these traits that have made his name endure throughout the centuries. But what was it that made him so popular among the plebians of Rome, yet so feared among the patrician nobility? The answer starts in the beginning of the life of Julius Caesar.
Gaius Julius Caesar was born in 100 B.C. to Aurelia and Julius Caesar, in the neighborhood of Subura, just a short distance from the heart of Rome. Although the Caesars were patrician nobility, much of the family's money had run out by the time that Caesar was born. It was for this reason that Aurelia and Julius lived in the less prosperous Subura area. Because he was raised in this area, the young Caesar had a unique perspective. He was "A patrician descendant of kings who knew intimately the lives and sorrows of common Romans." Therefore, when he became an adult, he was able to identify with the less-affluent plebian class better than most Romans in politics at the time.
As with most Roman families, the elder Caesar was often away from home due to political and military activity. As a result, young Caesar was raised by his mother, with his father only there occasionally. Just as young Caesar was reaching adulthood, the time when his father would have been more active in the young man's life, the elder Caesar died, probably during military service, leaving the sixteen year old Caesar as the head of the household.
Just as the young Caesar had come of age, a revolution had taken place. A Roman general named Lucius Sulla had plotted, and succeeded, in taking over Rome. After he had successfully taken over Rome, Sulla then marched off to attack Mithridates of Pontus in Asia Minor. But while Sulla was fighting Mithridates, a consul by the name of Cornelius Cinna had taken control of Rome. One of the first things that Cinna did was to appoint the young Julius Caesar as flamen dialis, the high priest of Jupiter. Even though this was one of the highest priestships in Rome, it was extremely restrictive. A lifetime commitment, the flamen dialis could never could never see a corpse, nor ride a horse. This would effectively exclude the young Caesar from ever becoming involved in war or politics. But the return of Sulla saved Caesar.
After compromising with Mithridates, Sulla returned to Rome. He promptly defeated Cinna, and began to systematically destroy all who opposed him. Sulla had become the sole dictator of Rome. He was careful to stock all government positions with his supporters. He promptly...