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4100-49 BC - Julius Caesar- Early Career

Caesar, the name of a patrician family of the Julian gens, tracing its origin to Julius, the son of tineas. The first member of the family who occurs in history with the surname of Caesar was Sextus Julius Caesar, praetor, 208 B.c. Caesar was the family name of the first five Roman emperors. With Nero the imperial family became extinct (68 AD), and Caesar became merely a title of dignity. The emperor, who bore the title of Augustus, appointed his successor, with the title of Caesar. On medals and monuments we find the title Caesar preceding the name of the emperor, as "Imp. Caesar Nerva Trajanus Augustus," and following that of the designated successor, as "Marc. Aurel. Antonin. Caesar." In the lower Greek empire, a new dignity of Sebastocrator was conferred, and that of Gesar became the third rank in the state. From Caesar are derived the German "kaiser" and the Russian "czar."

Gains Julius Caesar, the Roman general, statesman, and historian, was born 10 July 100 BC. He was the son of the praetor Caius Julius Caesar, and from his earliest boyhood displayed extraordinary talents. He had a penetrating intellect, a remarkably strong memory, and a lively imagination ; was indefatigable in business, and able, as we are told by Pliny, to read, write, hear, and dictate at the same time, from four to seven different letters. When the party of Marius, the uncle of Caesar by marriage with his aunt, Julia, gained the ascendency in Rome, Cinna, the friend of Marins, gave his 'laughter Cornelia in marriage to Caesar, with the view thereby to establish his own power more firmly. Caesar, who was already married, divorced his wife Cossutia to marry Cornelia, which provoked the anger of Sulla, who ordered him to put away Cornelia. Pompey and M. Piso were also ordered to put away their wives, and obeyed, but Caesar resisted and was proscribed, and obliged to take refuge in the Sabine territory, being deprived of his wife, his fortune, and the priestriood which he had held from the age of 13. His friends obtained his pardon with difficulty.

Caesar now withdrew from Rome, and went to Asia, serving his first campaign under M. Minucius Thermus, the prator in Asia, who intrusted him with the command of the fleet which was to blockade Mitylene. In the execution of this trust Caesar distinguished himself highly, and on the death of Sulla returned to Rome, distinguished himself as an orator in his accusations against Dolabella and other causes which he prosecuted, and used every means to increase his popularity.

He afterward visited Rhodes, and placed himself under the instruction of Apollonius, to fit himself for speaking at the bar. On the way he was taken by pirates, and compelled to pay 50 talents for his release. To revenge himself, he fitted out some vessels at Miletus, overtook the pirates, made the greater number of them prisoners, and had them crucified before Pergamus. He now returned to Rome, entered into alliance with Pompey, and became military tribune, qiKcstor, and aedile. At the same time he had the address to win the favor of the people by affability, splendid entertainments, and public shows; and, trusting to his popularity, ventured to erect again the statues and trophies of Marius, who was hated by the senate and the patricians. He was accused of taking part in the conspiracies of Catiline, but no substantial proof has been given in support of the accusation, which was unlikely, as Caesar had easier means of acquiring power. He defended the conspirators, who were arrested, and Cato strongly opposed him, so that he was obliged to quit the rostrum.

In the year 62 ?.?, Coesar was praetor. He had already, 63 BC, been chosen pontifcx maximus. On the expiry of his praetorship he obtained the government of Further Spain. His profuse expenditure in courting popularity had involved him deeply in debt. His creditors refusing to let him depart, Crassus became his security for the enormous sum of 830 talents. It was on his journey to Spain that he expressed, on seeing a miserable village, the well-known sentiment, that "he would rather be first there than second at Rome." In Spain he made several conquests, and returned to Rome with money enough to pay off his debts.

He now endeavored to reconcile Pompey and Crassus, whose enmity by throwing the influence of the latter into the aristocratic party would have interfered with the ambitious designs which Caesar and Pompey had formed. He succeeded in his design, and all three agreed to divide the sovereign power between them. This was the first triumvirate in Roman histor (60 BC). Caesar then became consul with M. Calpurnius Bibulus, confirmed the measures of Pompey, and procured the passing of a law in opposition to the senate and his colleagues to distribute certain lands among the poor citizens. This brought him into the highest favor with the people. With Pompey he formed a still more intimate connection by giving him his daughter Julia in marriage, and gained the favor of the equestrian order by remitting a third part of their taxes.

When the year of his consulship had expired, Caesar obtained the government of Gaul for five years, with the command of four legions. After his marriage with the accomplished Calpurnia he repaired to Gaul (58 BC), compelled the Helvetii, who had invaded that province, to retreat to their native country, subdued Ariovistus, who, at the head of a German tribe, had attempted to settle in the country of the ^dui, and conquered the Belgae. In nine years he reduced all Gaul, crossed the Rhine twice (55 and 53 BC), and twice passed over to Britain (55 and 54 BC), defeated the gallant natives of this island in several battles, and compelled them to give him hostages. A rising of the Gauls under Vercingetorix was not put down without difficulty, but the country was latterly reduced to quietness, and was ruled by the conqueror with policy and kindness. The senate had continued his government in Gaul for another period of five years, while Pompey was to have the command of Spain, and Crassus that of Syria, Egypt, and Macedonia for five years also. But the death of Crassus in his campaign against the Panhians dissolved the triumvirate; and the death of Julia, which took place about the same time, cooled the friendship between Carsar and Pompey - each intent upon his own aggrandisement.

Meanwhile the power and authority of Pompey had been constantly increasing. Caesar, too, strove to strengthen and enlarge his own party in the capital. Pompey now lent his influence to the aristocratic party, and persuaded the Senate to pass a decree, by which Caesar was to leave his army and resign his government of GauL He declared himself ready to obey if Pompey would do the same. Hereupon the senate ordered that Caesar should resign his offices and command within a certain time, or be proclaimed an enemy to the state, and appointed Pompey general of the army of the republic. Upon this Caesar urged his soldiers to defend the honor of their leader, led his faithful veterans across the Rubicon, a small stream then regarded as separating Italy from Gaul (49 BC), and made himself master of the peninsula without striking a blow.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:28:31 ZULU