The Life of Julius Caesar

More of this Feature

• Part 2: Government and Gaul
Part 3: Civil War and Victory
• Part 4: Opponents of Caesar
• Part 5: Death of Caesar

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Julius Caesar and Gaul
Caesar's Landings in Britain
Julius Caesar and the Crossing of the Rubicon
Julius Caesar
Ancient Rome

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Part 1: The Early Years

Julius Caesar was born in 100 B.C. in Rome to patrician parents but not into a position of wealth and power. His father, Gaius Julius Caesar, was a praetor (an important position in government). His mother, Aurelia, was more well known as the sister of Julia, the wife of Gaius Marius, who was at the time the leader of a group of Romans known as the Popular group.

When young Julius (as he preferred to be known, dropping his real first name, which was Gaius just like his father's) was 15, his father died. He spent a few years making a name for himself in the military and then got married, to a woman named Cornelia, who was the daughter of an important man in the Popular group. A few years into their marriage, Cornelia gave birth to a daughter, Julia.

Things changed when Sulla ruled the Roman government as dictator. For one thing, Sulla ordered Julius to divorce Cornelia, since she was from the family of one Sulla's enemies. Caesar refused and instead went into hiding, in order to avoid a certain death sentence for refusing to obey the dictator's wishes. He was eventually pardoned and later returned to Rome when Sulla died, in 78 B.C.

Julius continued to grow as a soldier, distinguishing himself in battle against Rome's many enemies and saving the lives of fellow soldiers in the process. He was also kidnapped in 75 B.C. and held for ransom by pirates from Cilicia, a nearby land. When he found out that they were asking 20 talents to be paid for his release, he is said to have insisted that he was worth at least 50.

He was elected military tribune in 72 B.C. He was also making a name for himself as a lawyer and public speaker. He was elected quaestor in 68 B.C. and, therefore, got a seat in the Senate. He also married Pompeia, Sulla's granddaughter.

Caesar continued to rise in the rankings of government, being elected pontifex maximus (chief priest) and then praetor. He also continued his military successes and was elected consul, in 60 B.C.

The consulship was the top job in government at the time, but Caesar wasn't the only consul. In fact, Rome already had two consuls, Crassus and Pompey.

Next page > Government and Gaul > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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