Caesar, (Gaius) Julius

Caesar, (Gaius) Julius
born July 12/13, 100, Rome
died March 15, 44 BC, Rome

Celebrated Roman general, statesman, and dictator.

A patrician by birth, he held the prominent posts of quaestor and praetor before becoming governor of Farther Spain in 61–60. He formed the First Triumvirate with Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus in 60 and was elected consul in 59 and proconsul in Gaul and Illyria in 58. After conducting the Gallic Wars, during which he invaded Britain (55, 54) and crossed the Rhine (55, 53), he was instructed by the Senate to lay down his command, Senate conservatives having grown wary of his increasing power, as had a suspicious Pompey. When the Senate would not command Pompey to give up his command simultaneously, Caesar, against regulations, led his forces across the Rubicon River (49) between Gaul and Italy, precipitating the Roman Civil War. Pompey fled from Italy but was pursued and defeated by Caesar in 48; he then fled to Egypt, where he was murdered. Having followed Pompey to Egypt, Caesar became lover to Cleopatra and supported her militarily. He defeated Pompey's last supporters in 46–45. He was named dictator for life by the Romans. He was offered the crown (44) but refused it, knowing the Romans' dislike for kings. He was in the midst of launching a series of political and social reforms when he was assassinated in the Senate House on the ides of March by conspirators led by Cassius and Brutus. His writings on the Gallic and Civil wars are considered models of classical historiography.

Julius Caesar, marble bust; in the Capitoline Museums, Rome.

Alinari/Art Resource, New York

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