Julius we now call July in honor of

Julius we now call July in honor of

Julius Caesar was born in 100 BC on the 13th day ofQuintilis, which we now call July in honor of him.

Hebelonged to a powerful family because Caesar’s father’ssister married Gaius Marius, the leading man in Rome at thetime.Caesar’s father, Gaius, reached the post praetor, anofficial in charge of judicial matters, but did not go on tothe highest post of consul, or chief executive. Caesar’smother, Aurelia, had two daughters besides Caesar. Womencouldn’t participate in government so obviously she did not.

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She could, though, speak very clearly and elegantly which iswhere some of Caesar’s ability may have come from. He camefrom a family of patricians, descendants of Rome’s earlyrulers, and was fairly wealthy but was still not as well offas some of the other noble families.Between 81 BC and 79 BC, Caesar served in Asia Minor onthe personal staff of Marcus Minucius Thermus, the praetor.

He was then sent on a mission to King Nicomedes of Bithynia. During the conquest of the island Lesbos, Caesar gained aprize for bravery. Later he was captured by pirates andpaid the usual ransom of 25 talents (500 kg) of silver.When Sulla (the dictator in Rome) died, Caesar feltsafe to return to Italy where he started a career as acriminal lawyer.

In 75 BC he went to Rhodes for moreeducation and was once again captured by pirates, who askedthe usual tariff. Caesar demanded it doubled and threatenedto kill them. After the ransom was paid, he defeated thebandits and had them crucified.After continuing his studies, they were quicklyinterrupted when Mithridates of Pontus attacked Asia Minorin 74 BC. Caesar raised a small army and defended sometowns giving time for Commander Lucullus to also raise anarmy and defeat them. Now Caesar was a war hero andreturned to Rome in 73 BC.

His career as a general andpolitician had begun.In 68, Caesar was elected as one of the twentyquaestors, allowing him to enter the Senate.After returning from Spain, he was elected aedile andwas responsible for “bread and circuses.” He organizedgreat games, making sure the Romans would remember his name. This same year he was accused of planning to murder theconsuls, but was not sentenced.Two years later, Caesar was elected pontifex maximus,or high priest. He was then, soon after, elected praetor,and the optimates became nervous for the first time becauseof his popularity.

Again they accused Caesar of a crime. They said he was desecrating some secret ceremonies whichwomen in the high priest house held. He then divorced hiswife to fix this accusation and stop larger troubles.Caesar was now in debt and got Marcus Licinius Crassus,the richest man in Rome, to pay his 830 talents (7,500 kg)of silver debt. Then Caesar had himself elected governor ofAndalusia.

Up to this point, Caesar’s behavior as a Roman Senatorwas quite normal. But from now on, his acts were oftencriminal. However, since he always had an office or armypost, he was immune against prosecution.Next, Caesar’s Spanish War restored order on the west-coast of present-day Portugal. He looted some silver minesand became rich.

Caesar’s consulship was rather secure. In December of60 BC, he was elected to the highest office in the RomanRepublic. Caesar and his colleague Bibilus, one of theoptimates, reorganized taxes and made a law againstextortion.

By this time Caesar had paid his debt back toCrassus, but still had some moral obligations to him. Whenthe Senate then tried to play Caesar, Crassus, and Pompeiusagainst each other, Caesar noticed and formed an alliancebetween the three known as the First Triumvirate.Gnaeus Pompeius, known as Pompey, was now Rome’sleading general. Pompey had many accomplishments includingdefeating the pirates and annexing Syria.

He doubled Rome’sannual income and added vast territories to the empire.When Crassus died, the two remaining rulers were indisagreement. Pompey’s army was in the southern part of theItalian Peninsula, including Rome.

Caesar was in charge ofan army in the north. He took his army across the RubiconRiver, said “The die is cast,” and started the civil warbetween the two (Caesar and Pompey).Pompey was defeated which left Caesar in charge ofRome’s military.

It was also the end of the Roman Republic. Caesar was then appointed dictator for a year in 49 BC, fortwo in 48 BC, and for ten in 46 BC. In 44 BC, he wasfinally appointed dictator for life. In the same year onMarch 15, 44 BC, he was assassinated. A few years later hisgrandnephew, Octavian (Augustus), became the first RomanEmperor.

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