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Gaius Iulius Caesar (100-44 BCE) was a central figure of the last decades of the Roman Republic. He was an accomplished writer and orator, a brilliant politician and power-broker and an outstanding general, but he was also totally ruthless in the pursuit of his personal goals and ambitions, which included not only absolute power over the Roman empire, but also divine honours and recognition as a human god.

Gaius Iulius Caesar
Gaius Iulius Caesar

The Early Years

Caesar was born in 102 or 100 BCE into the ancient patrician family of the Iulii who claimed ancestry from Aeneas of Troy, one of the mythical founders of Rome, and the goddess Venus, but few members of the family had distinguished themselves in the previous generations. Caesar's father arrived at the praetor-ship, but never won the election for the consulship.

The years of his youth were dominated by the conflict between the factions of Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornilius Sulla in the conflict between the populares and the optimates. Caesar's family relations placed him on the side of the populares, since his aunt Julia was married to Marius. In 87, when Marius was elected consul with his ally Lucius Cornelius Cinna, this bond was further strengthened when Cinna gave his daughter Cornelia in marriage to Caesar.

Caesar was also appointed flamen dialis (the chief priest of Jupiter) by Cinna. The flamen dialis was submitted to a strict programme of religious duties, including a restriction on leaving Rome for more than one night in a row, which effectively prevented the flamen dialis from pursuing a normal political career. Maybe little was expected of Caesar due to the undistinguished recent history of his family.

Marius died in 86, and Cinna was deposed by supporters of Sulla, who took control of Rome. Sulla annulled most of the decisions of Marius and Cinna, including the nomination of Caesar as flamen dialis, but Caesar's life was spared, unlike many other supporters of Marius. Caesar never accepted the cancellation of his nomination as flamen dialis, and neither did he divorce Cornelia as a result of the changing political tides.

This article has been split into 11 separate sections. Use the menu below to jump to another section.

  1. Introduction
  2. Caesar's Political Career
  3. The Alliance with Crassus and Pompey
  4. The Conquest of Gaul
  5. The Civil War
  6. Dictator and God
  7. The Assassination
  8. Caesar's Legacy
  9. The Julian Calendar
  10. Literature and Links
  11. Photographs of Julius Caesar

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Copyright © 2003 René Seindal, last changed 2003-08-28

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