Julius Casaer

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JULIUS CAESAR: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 102/100 BCE: Gaius Julius Caesar was born (by Caesarean section according to an unlikely legend) of Aurelia and Gaius Julius Caesar, a praetor. His family had noble, patrician roots, although they were neither rich nor influential in this period. His aunt Julia was the wife of Gaius Marius, leader of the Popular faction. c. 85 BCE: His father died, and a few years later he was betrothed and possibly married to a wealthy young woman, Cossutia. This betrothal/
  JULIUS CAESAR: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND  102/100 BCE: Gaius Julius Caesar was born (by Caesarean section according to an unlikelylegend) of Aurelia and Gaius Julius Caesar, a praetor. His family had noble, patrician roots,although they were neither rich nor influential in this period. His aunt Julia was the wife of Gaius Marius, leader of the Popular faction. c. 85 BCE: His father died, and a few years later he was betrothed and possibly married to awealthy young woman, Cossutia. This betrothal/marriage was soon broken off, and at age 18he married Cornelia, the daughter of a prominent member of the Popular faction; she later  bore him his only legitimate child, a daughter, Julia. When the Optimate dictator, Sulla, wasin power, he ordered Caesar to divorce her; when Caesar refused, Sulla proscribed him (listedhim among those to be executed), and Caesar went into hiding. Caesar's influential friendsand relatives eventually got him a pardon. c. 79 BCE: Caesar, on the staff of a military legate, was awarded the civic crown (oak leaves)for saving the life of a citizen in battle. His general sent him on an embassy to Nicomedes,the king of Bithynia, to obtain a fleet of ships; Caesar was successful, but subsequently he became the butt of gossip that he had persuaded the king (a homosexual) only by agreeing tosleep with him. When Sulla died in 78, Caesar returned to Rome and began a career as aorator/lawyer (throughout his life he was known as an eloquent speaker) and a life as anelegant man-about-town. 75 BCE: While sailing to Greece for further study, Caesar was kidnapped by Cilician piratesand held for ransom. When informed that they intended to ask for 20 talents, he is supposedto have insisted that he was worth at least 50. He maintained a friendly, joking relationshipwith the pirates while the money was being raised, but warned them that he would track themdown and have them crucified after he was released. He did just that, with the help of   volunteers, as a warning to other pirates, but he first cut their throats to lessen their suffering because they had treated him well. 72 BCE: Caesar was elected military tribune. (Note that Pompey and Crassus were theconsuls for 70 BCE.) 69 BCE: He spoke at the funerals of both his aunt, Julia, and his wife, Cornelia. On bothoccasions, he emphasized his connections with Marius and the ancient nobility of his family,descended from the first kings on his mother's side and from the gods on his father's(revealing a notable talent for self-dramatization and a conception that there was somethingexceptional about him). 68/67 BCE: Caesar was elected quaestor and obtained a seat in the Senate; he marriedPompeia, a granddaughter of Sulla. Caesar supportedGnaeus Pompeyand helped him get anextraordinary generalship against the Mediterranean pirates, later extended to command of the war against King Mithridates in Asia Minor. 65 BCE: He was elected curule aedile and spent lavishlyon games to win popular favor; large loans from Crassusmade these expenditures possible. There were rumors thatCaesar was having an affair with Gnaeus Pompey's wife,Mucia, as well as with the wives of other prominent men. 63 BCE: Caesar spent heavily in a successful effort to getelected  pontifex maximus (chief priest); in 62 he waselected praetor. He divorced Pompeia because of her involvement in a scandal with another man, although theman had been acquitted in the law courts; Caesar isreported to have said, ³The wife of Caesar must be abovesuspicion,´ suggesting that he was so exceptional thatanyone associated with him had to be free of any hint of scandal. In 61 he was sent to the province of Further Spainas propraetor. 60 BCE: He returned from Spain and joined with Pompeyand Crassus in a loose coalition called by modern historians ³The First Triumvirate´ and byhis enemies at the time ³the three-headed monster.´ In 62, Pompey had returned victoriousfrom Asia, but had been unable to get the Senate to ratify his arrangements and to grant landto his veteran soldiers because he had disbanded his army on his return and Crassus was blocking his efforts. Caesar persuaded the two men to work together and promised to supporttheir interests if they helped him get elected to the consulship. 59 BCE: Caesar was elected consul against heavy Optimate opposition led by MarcusPorcius Cato, a shrewd and extremely conservative politician. Caesar married his onlydaughter, Julia, to Pompey to consolidate their alliance; he himself married Calpurnia, thedaughter of a leading member of the Popular faction. Caesar pushed Pompey's measuresthrough, helped Crassus' proposals, and got for himself a five-year term as proconsul of Gaulafter his consulship was over. However, he used some strong-arm methods in the Assemblyand completely cowed his Optimate colleague in the consulship, Bibulus, so that jokersreferred to the year as ³the consulship of Julius and Caesar´ (instead of ³the consulship of   Caesar and Bibulus´). Caesar was safe from prosecution for such actions as long as he heldoffice, but once he became a private citizen again he could be prosecuted by his enemies inthe Senate. 58 BCE: Caesar left Rome for Gaul; he would not return for 9 years, in the course of whichhe would conquer most of what is now central Europe, opening up these lands toMediterranean civilization²a decisive act in world history. However, much of the conquestwas an act of aggression prompted by personal ambition (not unlike the conquests of Alexander the Great). Fighting in the summers, he would return to Cisalpine Gaul (northernItaly) in the winters and manipulate Roman politics through his supporters (see thismap of Caesar's Gallic campaigns). 56 BCE: Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus met in Caesar's province to renew their coalition,since Pompey had been increasingly moving toward the Optimate faction. Pompey andCrassus were to be consuls again, and Caesar's command in Gaul was extended until 49 BCE. 54 BCE: Caesar led a three-monthexpedition to Britain (the was the firstRoman crossing of the English Channel), but he did not establish a permanent basethere. Meanwhile, Caesar's coalition withPompey was increasingly strained,especially after Julia died in childbirth in54. In the following year, Crassus receivedcommand of the armies of the East but wasdefeated and killed by the Parthians. 52 BCE: Rioting in Rome led to Pompey'sextra-legal election as ³consul without acolleague.´ Without Julia and Crassus,there was little to bond Caesar and Pompeytogether, and Pompey moved to theOptimate faction, since he had always beeneager for the favor of the aristocrats. 51 BCE: The conquest of Gaul effectivelycompleted, Caesar set up an efficient provincial administration to govern thevast territories; he published his history Th e Gallic Wars . The Optimates in Romeattempted to cut short Caesar's term asgovernor of Gaul and made it clear that he would be immediately prosecuted if he returned toRome as a private citizen (Caesar wanted to run for the consulship in absentia so that hecould not be prosecuted). Pompey and Caesar were maneuvered into a public split; neither could yield to the other without a loss of honor, dignity, and power. 49 BCE: Caesar tried to maintain his position legally, but when he was pushed to the limit heled his armies across theRubicon River (the border of his province), which was automaticcivil war. Pompey's legions were in Spain, so he and the Senate retreated to Brundisium andfrom there sailed to the East. Caesar quickly advanced to Rome, set up a rump Senate and  had himself declared dictator. Throughout his campaign, Caesar practiced²and widely publicized²his policy of  clemency (he would put no one to death and confiscate no property). In a bold, unexpected move, Caesar led his legions to Spain, to prevent Pompey'sforces from joining him in the East; he allegedly declared, ³I am off to meet an army withouta leader; when I return, I shall meet a leader without an army.´ After a remarkably shortcampaign, he returned to Rome and was elected consul, thus (relatively) legalizing his position. 48 BCE: Pompey and the Optimate faction had established a strong position in Greece bythis time, and Caesar, in Brundisium, did not have sufficient ships to transport all his legions.He crossed with only about 20,000 men, leaving his chief legate, Mark Antony, inBrundisium to try to bring across the rest of the soldiers. After some rather desperatesituations for Caesar, the rest of his forces finally landed, though they were greatlyoutnumbered by Pompey's men. In the final battle, on the plains of Pharsalus, it is estimatedthat Pompey had 46,000 men to Caesar's 21,000. By brilliant generalship, Caesar wasvictorious, though the toll was great on both sides; Caesar pardoned all Roman citizens whowere captured, including Brutus, but Pompey escaped, fleeing to Egypt. October 2, 48 BCE: Caesar, with no more than 4,000 legionaries, landed in Alexandria; hewas presented, to his professed horror, with the head of Pompey, who had been betrayed bythe Egyptians. Caesar demanded that the Egyptians pay him the 40 million sesterces he wasowed because of his military support some years earlier for the previous ruler, Ptolemy XII(³The Flute Player´), who had put down a revolt against his rule with Caesar's help. After Ptolemy XII's death, the throne had passed to his oldest children,Cleopatra VIIand PtolemyXIII, as joint heirs. When Caesar landed, the eunuch Pothinus and the Egyptian generalAchillas, acting on behalf of Ptolemy XIII (at this time about 12 years old), had recentlydriven Cleopatra (at this time about 20-21 years old) out of Alexandria. Cleopatra had herself smuggled into the palace in Alexandria wrapped in a rug (purportedly a gift for Caesar) andenlisted his help in her struggle to control the Egyptian throne. Like all the Ptolemies,Cleopatra was of Macedonian Greek descent; she was highly intelligent and well-educated.Caesar saw her as a useful ally as well as a captivating female, and he supported her right tothe throne. Through the treachery of Pothinus and the hostility of the Egyptian people to theRomans, Achillas and an army of 20,000 besieged the palace. Caesar managed to hold the palace itself and the harbor; he had Pothinus executed as a traitor but allowed the youngPtolemy to join the army of Achillas. When he ordered the Egyptian fleet burnt, the greatLibrary of Alexandria was accidently consumed in the flames.
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