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Dictator and God

Julius Caesar in the Capitoline Museums
Julius Caesar in the Capitoline Museums

After the battle of Munda no-one tried to oppose Caesar with arms; no-one was capable of opposing Caesar. He was the single most wealthy man in the empire, with a fortune to match, if not exceed, that of the state treasury. The armed forces were loyal to him personally, and every opposing force had been defeated. The majority of the senate was appointed by him. There was no power but Caesar's.

He had managed to put an end to the civil wars and conflicts that had ravaged the Roman Republic, but the price was high, not just in human lives and suffering. The political system that had governed the state for more than four centuries had failed miserably and laid in ruins, but there was nothing to take it place, except the rule by one person: dictatorship or monarchy.

Consequently, Caesar ruled Rome singlehandedly through a series of extraordinary appointments renewed consistently from year to year. In 49 BCE the senate (appointed by himself) made him dictator for a year. In 48 BCE he held his second consulate, in 47 BCE he was dictator again, in 46 BCE third time consul and dictator, in 45 BCE consul for the fourth time and dictator and finally in 44 BCE fifth time consul and dictator for life.

Besides his political and military honours Caesar received religious honours on an unprecedented scale, and apparently (the sources disagree) he was even deified in his lifetime, a hitherto unseen event in all of Roman history. The only human the Romans worshipped as a god was Romulus, and that by identification with Quirinus, not as a separate divinity.

Worshipping rulers as living gods was quite common in the Eastern empire and in Egypt, and the Romans knew that very well, but no such tradition had ever existed in Rome itself.

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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This page is linked under the names "Julius Caesar", "Caesar", "Gaius Julius Caesar", "Gaius Iulius Caesar" and "Giulio Cesare".

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

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