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Julius Caesar

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Julius Caesar

People come into this world destined for certain things. Some are destined to be generals or politicians or firefighters. Julius Caesar was destined for greatness. His father and grandfather were both well known Roman politicians. His uncle was one of the greatest military leaders in roman history. With these people playing roles in his life, Julius Caesar didn't have to try very hard to be a big player in the roman world. In his early life, Caesar stood out in the political arena of Rome. He also stood out in the military becoming one of the most successful generals in the whole empire, with conquests from Germania to Spain. Later in life, he would become one of the greatest and most recognized men in history. In the end, his greatness would come back to haunt him and his political rivals would get the better of him. In so short of time, few people in history have had more impact on both the world he lived in and the world as we know it today.

Gaius Julius Caesar was born on the 12th day of the month of Quinctilis later named July after his death (Fowler 8). He was born into one of the most influential and illustrious families in Rome at the time. The young man was born into a world full of doubt. The constitutional government that society was functioning on was falling to pieces with little alternative to it besides mob rule. Julius Caesar's greatest mentor was his uncle Marius. Marius was one of the greatest military leaders in roman history. During the civil war that Caesar was born into, his uncle Marius was the leader of the party that opposed the brutal dictator Sulla. When Sulla won the war, Caesar was forced to flee to Asia Minor to escape retaliation (Fowler 33). While in Asia Minor, the young Julius Caesar began to focus his attention to the arts of oratory and politics. It is during this time that Caesar began to refine the skills that he would use throughout his life.

After the Sullan government was overthrown, Caesar returned and was elected to an official post in Spain. His time in Spain was torture for him. He was cut off from the political arena in Rome with little contact to the senate. He survived his time in Spain and used it to further his knowledge of politics and government. When he returned to Rome he was elected to an aedileship, the next step in politics above his quaestorship in Spain. The same day he was elected, a conspiracy was hatched to provide the democracy with the power in Rome and prevent the return of Pompeious, who it was feared would return a military dictator. The plan was to kill the roman counsels and appoint a prominent politician named Crassus dictator with Julius Caesar his chief lieutenant. The plan was never carried out but Caesar was beginning to make the political connections necessary to sustain a long career. (Fowler 68)

After the failed coup, Caesar now had a thirst for power. His boyhood friend Cicero had recently been named counsel of Rome and had formed and alliance with Pompeious who had the support of the military. This alliance only lasted a few months and soon fell apart. Caesar saw this as a chance to seize power and immediately formed an alliance with Pompeious for military support, and his old friend Crassus who provided the money to the alliance. This alliance became known as the triumvirate. The triumvirate held a lot of power in roman politics and stayed together until Caesar was elected counsel. Although the triumvirate was now dissolved, Caesar now had the support of one of the most influential military leaders and one of the wealthiest roman politicians. (Fowler 100)

After Caesar's year as counsel of Rome was over, he became the governor of the province of Transalpine Gaul. While there, Caesar's main job became the defense of the roman province from invasion. One threat to him was the Germanic tribe of the Helvetti. The Helvetti had been coming closer and closer to the roman border and were up till this time unchecked. No significant roman army had been seen in this region since the time of Marius. It was clear to Caesar what had to be done; he must stop the Helvetti from roaming freely throughout the region if peace was ever to be brought to the area. One of the most important decisions Caesar made while governor was to take 10 legions and completely conquer the Helvetti. After his conquest, Caesar then turned his attention the rest of the Germanic tribes and northwest Gaul, conquering both in a relatively short amount of time. After dealing with Gaul and the Germanic tribes he then conquered the rest of the Germany and even invaded Brittany. As his term as governor began to run down, Caesar started to make plans for his return to power in Rome. (Fowler 139)

Caesar began to make plans to again be elected counsel. The senate was fearful of his popularity and his power and they began to pass laws to prevent him from being elected. In order for him to campaign, the senate said that he would have to give up his control of his army several months before he was scheduled to do so. Caesar had already been forced to relinquish control of his army while he was in office in Spain before he returned to run for counsel the first time. He did not want to give up his forces knowing that the senate would never let him become counsel and would never allow him to stay in control of his army. He sent word to the senate that he refused to relinquish control until his time as governor was up, but still wanted to run a counsel. The senate did not want him to have an army or be elected and so they declared a state of war in Rome. Caesar was unprepared for the action but nonetheless saw the opportunity to take power. He accepted his fate and led his army to the banks of the Rubicon River, knowing that crossing the river with a military force would be high treason against Rome. Caesars closest advisors said the he hesitated only a little while before deciding to cross the river and bring civil war to the Italian peninsula. (Fowler 257)

Although Caesar knew that lives would be lost, he also knew that if he were triumphant the Italian people would be under his control. His intention was not to be a cruel conqueror like Sulla had been before, but rather conquer with kindness and generosity. Caesars advance toward Rome was never halted or even slowed. Pompeious knew that there was no way he could stop him with his present force and so escaped to the east where his main body of forces was located. Caesar now had a hostile army on each side of him. The biggest threat was the army located in Spain which was Pompeious's veteran legions. Caesar knew that he must march to Spain and defeat this army before tunring his attention to the east and the capture of Pompeious. But first he would have to stop off in Rome to gather support for his war and his

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