Julius Caesar Essay, Research Paper
Many things can be said about great men. You never can tell exactly just
what makes a man great. Looks, personality, a strong mind, these are all
good qualities to look for in a man. Speaking as a woman, I know women
look for all these qualities and then some. Does he have a good job? A fine
house? Good credit? Many of these questions plague the minds of women
today. Whether you are looking for a life partner, a friend, or a lover, these
questions will arise. Sometimes from you, but mainly from those around
you. Needless to say, we are all looking for greatness. In one form or
another. On July 13 100 B.C. a great man was born. Gaius Julius Caesar
walked the face of this earth for 56 years. Some called him a tyrant, a foe,
an adversary. Others named him a loyal friend and confidant. I, on the
other hand, simply call him great. Journey with me through the life of this
great man. We will walk together through his birth and family, his rise to
power, and finally the betrayal that cost him his life. After this, we will
meet back here. We will then reflect on the ups, the downs, the sorrows,
and the pains of which Caesar would have called his life. As we walk down
this road together, you will be awed, challenged and inspired. Come, let’s
go. The journey has already begun….
A Star is Born
A light shined ever so brightly on the thirteenth day of July 100 B.C. That
light was the birth of Gaius Julius Caesar. There was no small stir in the
spiritual realm on that day. It seemed as though some mystical force knew
what this young babe would later come to be. For that same mystical force
tried to eliminate him at birth. Because of the various complications at birth,
he was born through an unusual method for that time period. He was born
through the process of what would later become known as a Caesarean
Section. Although this process is commonplace for our day and time, at that
time, his birth was nothing short of a miracle. This miraculous birth in itself
was enough to let us know that this was not an ordinary man and this was
not to be an ordinary life. Whatever mystical powers there are that be, tried
to extinguish this life from the onset. Maybe this same power knew of the
murders, the wars, the savageries, the betrayals that were to come. Maybe
this power knew of the great lust for power and thirst for blood that was in
this babe’s future. This evil foreboding, seemed to cast a dim shadow over
the remainder of his life. For this babe would grow into a lad and then into
a man and yet this same mystical power would be continually petitioning
the ultimate power for his life. For whatever reason that was, we cannot tell.
However, looking through a dark glass in time we will least able to
The Julian Family was a noble one to say the least. They were patricians,
part of the Roman upper class. It was once rumored that they were direct
descendants of the goddess Venus. However, modern scholars seem to
believe that the Julian Family began this rumor on their own and it has no
actual basis in fact. Descendants of the gods or not, the Julian family was a
far cry from where they wanted to be politically, as well as financially. In
fact, they were in the second or third rank politically. The highest office the
family had reached was the office of Praetor. This shows they could not
have had a great fortune.
Caesar’s father also was called Gaius Julius Caesar. His mother was named
Aurelia, the daughter of consul Lucius Aurelius Cotta. In those days a
Roman noble won distinction for himself and his family by securing election
to a series of public offices, which culminated in the consulship, with the
censorship possibly to follow. This was a difficult task for even the ablest
and most gifted noble unless he was backed by substantial family wealth
and influence. Even with all of these seeming disadvantages, every star has
a day to shine.
Rise To Power
I have often heard people say the power for greatness is in us all. Whether
it’s business, sewing, cooking, etc… we all have a gift. Some of us have
multiple gifts. Bottom line is, we all have the power to succeed. The secret
to success is in the not giving up. We all have a season of prosperity that
comes into our lives. What we make of that season is up to us. Through
wisdom we can cause this season of life to be extended or cut short. We
can even have our lives extended or shortened through wise decision
making. Wisdom tells us which friends to keep and which ones to let go.
Wisdom often warns us of our enemies. Wisdom tells us which car to buy.
Wisdom is that still small voice on the inside that keeps us on track.
Solomon boldly declares: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get
wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” 1 When a star rises, it
shoots up fast and shines more brilliantly than all the rest. Gaius Caesar was
that shooting star. Caesar was by all accounts a military genius. He served
as officer in Crassus’s army against Spartacus and climbed steadily up in the
government by serving as official in the provinces. Using wisdom, he (re)
married a wealthy wife and allied with Crassus, then the richest man in
Rome. Their contestant was Pompeius Magnus (the Great). Caesar coveted
and gained the lifetime function of Pontifex maximus, high priest of the
people of Rome.
In 61Bc he received a military post as governor of Spain. He ruthlessly
suppressed all resistance and returned as war hero in Rome. The consulate
was his next goal. The two consuls held the power of state and were
nominated each year. But the senate balked his efforts and tried to play
Crassus, Pompeius and Caesar against each other. Caesar noticed this and
using wisdom did something believed impossible; he created an alliance
between him and the other two to share all power. The senate was effectively
bypassed and the First Triumvirate was born….
This agreement dictated the Roman policy for the next decade. they shared
all offices between them and their followers. That is the way Caesar became
Governor of Gaul Transalpinia. He had three legions (15000 men) under his
command, but when the Helvetii invaded Gaul and Italy he accidentally got
command of an additional army. After he crushed the Helvetii he turned his
attention on the Celts. When this part of the drama had been enacted the real
With Gallia subjugated, Caesar turned his mind fully to the political arena.
In 51Bc, while still fighting some defiant clans, he proposed to the Senate to
extend his governership with another 2 years, which allowed him to run for
consul in the year 48 B.C. (A consul could only become consul again after
10 years). He said that he earned it based on his presentations in Gaul and
referred to Pompeius whose governership in Spain had been extended the
year before. But the senate hesitated. In the year 50 B.C., Caesar still tried to
extend his governership, but to ensure the loyalty of his army he doubled
their pay. The senate delivered a crushing blow in the fall. The senate voted
and ordered Caesar and Pompeius to give up control of their armies and
provinces. Caesar’s followers tried to veto it, but the hostile consul ordered
Pompeius to defend the Republic with two Legions at Capua and the
authority to raise more. Caesar thereupon gathered his own armies and went
south. Both commanders were still on speaking terms and Caesar made
another proposal; he would relinquish control of all but two of his legions
and The province of Cisalpine Gaul (the part of Gaul lying in Italy!).
Pompeius agreed, but the senate ordered him to hold foot. Caesar then made
an ultimatum; he summed up his services to the state and demanded that he
keep his legions and provinces till he was elected consul. In January 49 B.C.
Mark Anthony, Caesar’s trusted lieutenant, demanded that the ultimatum
was read aloud in the senate.
But although the majority would have sued for peace, the opponents of
Caesar blocked all compromises and bullied all the frightened senators that
Caesar should disband his armies or be declared enemy of the state. Caesar
was stripped of all his offices; The Republic declared war on Caesar. Caesar
heard of the senates response and did what he did best: He acted. 11
January he led his single legion which he had assembled across the bridge
over a small stream that marked the boundary between his province and the
Roman homeland: The Rubicon…
Pompeius tried to stop Caesar, but all was in vain. No one dared to stand up
against Caesar’s crack veteran soldiers. The senate panicked and left Italy,
leaving the treasury intact behind them (how stupid can you be…). The
senate and Pompeius fled to Albania. Once in Rome Caesar wasted no time.
Against no effective opposition, he assembled a makeshift senate, took
control of the government and broke open the treasury. Mark Antony was
put in charge of the Italian legions and Caesar himself went to the
independent city of Massilia (Marseille). He could not capture the city, but
he went to Spain and crushed Pompeius followers (most defected to Caesar).
When Caesar returned to Massilia, he was clement and did not sack the city,
but it was no longer independent. He returned to Rome as a victor, but there
was still Pompeius and the old senate. Pompeius himself had raised a
massive army in Macedonia. Caesar was bold but extremely outnumbered.
His boldness scared Pompeius into a retreat. On a morning in early August
both armies collided. Caesar’s left and center held fast, while his right
withdrew. Pompeius, seeing this, hurled his cavalry in the gap, but Caesar
pulled an ace out of his sleeve. He sent in his last reserve (Napoleon; ” the
positioning and the timing of the reserve is one of the most important
decisions on the battlefield”) and Pompeius’ lines simply collapsed. Nineteen
months after the crossing of the Rubicon, Caesar was made master of Rome
and its empire. Pompeius fled to Egypt but was killed on arrival by his own
men. Caesar, hot on his heels, is said to have wept for his former son in law.
In 46 B.C. after snuffing out 4 small rebellions, Caesar was clearly
omnipotent and the senate declared him dictator for life.
The Ultimate Betrayal
Each one of us has set goals for his or her own life. Some are realistic and
some are not. We all like to feel like we have accomplished something in
life. That is the reason we set those goals. Some people however, will do
anything to acheive those goals. They do not care who they hurt, or what
the consequences will be. Just as long as they accomplish what they set out
to do. Gaius Caesar had a goal. He lusted greedily for power. He craved
blood. He killed, he conquered, he subdued. As if by some unseen force he
was driven. He wanted to have absolute power. In 44 B.C. he accomplished
that goal. He paid the ultimate price for what he wanted.
I believe however, Jackie Gleason (while portraying Ralph Kramden,) said
it best,” Be kind to the people you meet on the way up, because you are
gonna meet the same people on the way down.” Although this bit of
wisdom was siezed from an episode on “The Honeymooners,” this saying
still holds true today. Caesar became dictator, but the price for that victory
was insurmountable. Fear was on every side. He could not trust anyone.
Caesar obtained innumerable adversaries. Many of his enemies feared him.
Because of this fear, they chose to hate him secretly. One prime example is
that of Cicero. Cicero wrote letter revealing his apparent dislike for Caesar
after Caesar’s demise. This proves that not all of Caesar’s enemies were bold
enough to air their hatred openly. Many friends and confidants secretly
hated him as well. On the 6th of March 44 B.C., the so called Ides of March,
was Caesar murdered by Marcus Brutus, Gaius Cassius, Decimus Brutus
and Gaius Trebonius, the last being an old commanders of his legions and
a dear friend.
A popular saying in this country is that every man has his price. The price
for ultimate power cost Gaius Caesar his family his friends and ultimately
his life. In return, he received power, fame and fortune. Not many people
are willing to pay that high of a price, for anything. Some people are
ambitious and they like that sort of power. Some will do anything to get it.
Lust, greed, or an unquenchable thirst for power, is what drives them.
However, one should not allow his or her thirst for power and greatness
interfere with the lives of others. A popular proverb declares you reap what
you sow. In the life of Caesar this proverb was proven to be true. If Caesar
had been killed in a war. He would have died with honor as a hero. But
because he was ruthless and greedy for power, he died a cold, miserable,
death,at the hands of his so-called friends. He lived as a ruthless animal,
and died as a worthless dog. We are each allowed only one life on this
earth. Each one of us has a choice of which path we choose to take. We can
either choose life or we can choose death. No one can force us to choose.
We must make our choice willingly. Caesar made his choice, and he paid
the price for that choice. I pray those of us that follow him, learn from his
mistakes, and make the right choice.
Jerome Carcopino. Daily Life In Ancient Rome: Yale University Press 1940
Christian Meier. Caesar A Biography: Basic Books 1982
Holy Bible (King James Version) Zondervan 1994
Biography Julius Caesar. http://cyberessays.com/History/75.htm
Julius Caesar. http://homepages.iol.ie/~coolmine/typ/romans/romans6.html
1. Holy Bible (King James Version) Zondervan 1994. Proverbs 4:47