A Tourist in Rome - Julius Caesar
|Birth:||July, 100 BC|
|Death:||March 15, 44 BC (assassination)|
Julius Caesar's rise to power as a military general for the Republic along with his successful campaigns led to his extreme popularity with his soldiers and the people. He was also popular with the people because he grew up in a poor neighborhood and passed much legislation which helped the common man. He shared power with Pompey the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus, the three of them known as the First Triumvirate, which was a means by which each of them gained power by taking advantage of the strengths of the other two. When Caesar marched on Rome, crossing the Rubicon ("the die is cast"), the triumvirate broke up and eventually Caesar defeated Pompey in civil war, leading to Pompey's death when he fled to Egypt. When Caesar returned to Rome he built Caesar's Forum and the Temple of Venus Genetrix. After several terms as dictator between 48 BC and 45 BC, Ceasar declared himself dictator for life on either January 26th or February 15th of 44 BC, an unprecedented move since dictators normally held power for only six months. This led to his assassination on March 15th 44 BC, the ides of March, by senators who felt he was destroying the Republic.
So, was Caesar a good guy or bad guy? Arguments can be made on both sides. He was definitely on the side of the people, and he didn't carry out any of the ruthless purges of prior rulers (like Sulla), or successive rulers (like most of them). But he definitely was the turning point which destroyed the Republic, though by then, there was little to save due to the century-long trend of increasing individual power to which he just added an exclamation mark. He was also ruthless in war, for example, during the siege of Alesia, in Gaul, Caesar allowed the women and children of Alesia to starve rather than take them in and feed them with his armies' rations.
The word "Caesar" begat the words "Kaiser" and "Tsar". The month of "July" was named after "Julius".