Gaius Julius Caesar was born in Rome, Italy in the year 100 BCE to the patrician family of Gaius Julius Caesar and his wife Aurelia. Caesar’s Aunt Julia was wife to Gaius Marius, who at the time of Caesar’s birth was the leader of the Popular faction of Roman Politics. Caesar’s family was still far from rich even though they were considered to be Roman aristocrats. At the young age of 16 Caesar’s father passed away, causing him to become very close with his mother Aurelia.
When Caesar reached the age of 18 he married his wife Cornelia. Cornelia was the daughter of a prominent member in the Popular faction, this shows early signs of Caesar’s wants for more by using marriage to elevate his standing in society. After being married to Caesar, Cornelia gave birth to Caesar’s only legitimate child who was then named Julia. This was all occurring after 85 BCE when Sulla was in power and decided to order Caesar to divorce Cornelia. Caesar refused to divorce his wife and Sulla proscribed him, meaning that he was on the list to be executed. Caesar immediately went into hiding, until later when his influential friends would be able to give him pardon and allow his marriage to exist. Caesar was then elected to be on the staff of a military legate, after receiving the civic crown in 79 BCE. The civic crown is awarded to any solider for saving the life a Roman citizen during battle. Caesar was ordered then by his general to be an embassy to Nicomedes, the King of Bithynia. He needed to convince Nicomedes to allow him to obtain a fleet of ships for the Roman Navy. Caesar was successful in doing this and upon the death of Sulla in 78 BCE. he returned to Rome. After moving back to Rome Caesar had goals of starting a career as a lawyer and being an influential member in Roman society. After sending some years making his name known Caesar was elected to the position of military tribune in 72 BCE.
Caesar’s Aunt Julia and wife Cornelia would soon pass away around 69 BCE. At both funerals Caesar spoke of the ancient nobility of his family, with his mother’s side descending from the first kings and his father’s from the gods. This reveals Caesar’s profound talent of envisioning greatness for himself along with his ability of self- dramatization. In 68 BCE Caesar was elected questor and received a seat in the senate, along with now marrying a new wife named Pompeia. Pompeia came from a prominent family with being the granddaughter of Sulla. While in the senate Caesar supported Pompey’s addresses for generalship to fight the Mediterranean Pirates, and would later be in favor of extending Pompey’s command to fight against King Mithridates. This is where the friendship between Pompey and Caesar would begin and later evolve into the First Triumvirate.
Caesar had expensive and lavish games held in order to win popular favor, and be elected curcule aedile in 65 BCE. The funding for these games didn’t only come from the pockets of Caesar but also the pockets of Crassus, who gave large loans to him. This shows an early interest that Crassus had in Caesar’s political career that they clearly already had similar interests. Caesar then shocked everyone when he was elected to be pontifex maximus (chief priest) which was normally a position held by someone of greater age then just 37. A year later Caesar would be elected praetor and divorce his wife Pompeia after hearing of an apparent scandal between her and another man. After finishing his term as praetor in 61 BCE Caesar was sent to Spain as propraetor. Caesar would later return to Rome in 60 BCE after a successful military campaign in Spain. As any propraetor before Caesar after a successful military campaign you would request to have a triumph, where you would process your forces with any trophies of the conquest throughout the city of Rome. In order to achieve this the senate needed to grant approval and until then you would have to station your army outside the city. Now Caesar also wanted to run for the consulship of 59 BCE and to be nominated Caesar would have to be present in the senate. Caesar asked the senate if he could be allowed both since him showing up for his nomination for consulship would prevent him from having a triumph cause he couldn’t enter the city without forfeiting his triumph. The senate didn’t want to give him any exceptions from the usual Roman traditions so they declined his proposal for both and Caesar decides that he would rather run for consulship. Caesar felt robbed of an honor without having a triumph and sought the help of Pompey and Crassus to win the consulship. In 59 BCE Caesar won the consulship and was elected consul, this marked the beginning of “The First Triumvirate” with him promising to support the interests of both Crassus and Pompey.
The First Triumvirate was sealed with the marriage of Caesar’s daughter Julia to Pompey. Caesar also remarries once again to Calpurnia, the daughter of a leading member in the Popular faction. Caesar also pushes through Pompey’s measures along with Crassus’ proposals to repay them for helping him achieve the position of consul. While Caesar was consul there was Brutus, who was the other consul but through Caesar’s manipulation of the assembly Brutus was unable to achieve much of anything and many refer to this time as solely the consulship of Caesar. Caesar had until his consulship was up to achieve everything that was breaking Roman tradition because once his term of office ended he could be persecuted by the senate for his actions as a private citizen. Caesar knew this and already had a plan to set up a 5 year term as proconsul in Gaul and before his consulship was fully done he had already left for Gaul in 58 BCE.
Caesar’s conquest in Gaul would be motivated by acts of aggression for personal goals. When all was said and done Caesar had conquered much of what is now central Europe. Through the conquering of this area he opened up their civilizations to the more advanced Mediterranean lifestyles. In 56 BCE Pompey and Crassus meet Caesar in his new province where they renewed their coalition and laid plans for the upcoming consulship elections. It was made clear that Crassus and Pompey were to be consuls again, while extending Caesars command in Gaul until 49 BCE By the time 54 BCE came Caesar had become the first Roman to cross the English Channel but wasn’t able to establish a permanent base. Caesar’s daughter Julia also passed away during this time while giving childbirth, this only weakened the pact that formed The First Triumvirate. A year after, Crassus gained command of the armies in the East and was defeated and killed by the Parthians. Now there was very little to hold the bond together between Caesar and Pompey, and in 52 BCE Pompey moved to the Optimate faction. Caesar seeing his time in command of Gaul coming to an end he set up a provincial administration to govern the vast territories he conquered. The Optimates in Rome even tried to cut Caesar’s time as the commander of Gaul short before 49 BCE this put Caesar and Pompey in a public split. Where neither could agree with the other without losing dignity, honor, and power.
When it became time for Caesar to relinquish his command in Gaul in 49 BCE he decided to cross the Rubicon River with his armies and initiate civil war. Pompey’s forces were nowhere near but all the way in Spain, so Pompey and the senate retreated to the East. Caesar would then march straight for Rome and when he got their he set up his own senate as replacement. Caesar would continue to pursue Pompey until he met him on the plains of Pharsalus. Caesar forces of 21,000 was outnumbered by Pompey’s forces of 46,000 but after get leadership Caesar’s forces were victorious and Pompey fled to Egypt. Caesar would chase Pompey to Alexandria, where he found the Egyptians betrayed him and presented Caesar with the head of Pompey.
When Caesar landed in Alexandria, Egypt he was asked for his aid by Cleopatra in her struggle for the control of the throne. Caesar saw Cleopatra as a highly intelligent and educated as well as a useful ally. After months of fighting he finally won Cleopatra her throne as a client ruler in alliance with Rome in June of 47 BCE. Soon after Caesar left Egypt Cleopatra bore a son and named him Caesarion, claiming that it was Caesars son. Caesar moved swiftly through Asia Minor ending all the disturbances there and made for Rome. Once back in Rome Caesar ended all the problems that occurred because of Mark Antony’s mismanagement. Caesar then set his eyes on ending the Optimates, and after some decisive battles Caesar defeated them at Thapsus. Instead of being pardon by Caesar, Cato decided to commit suicide.
Now with all of Caesar’s problems handled he returned back to Rome and had four triumphs in 46 BCE. One for each of his conquest over the Gauls, Egyptians, Pharnaces, and Juba. Caesar now held the position of a dictator and decided to govern more in the manner of a general then a politician. Caesar even began to issue coins to his likeness with their designs, while also allowing people to adore his statues as if he was a god. The senate even continued to award him new privileges such as being able to wear the purple and gold toga. In February of 44 BCE. Caesar was preparing a campaign against the Parthians, who had killed Crassus when he was warned of some personal danger. Caesar refused to listen and didn’t request for a body guard. On March 15, 44 BCE Caesar was to attend a last senate meeting before leaving for his campaign. Sixty conspirators, lead by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Brutus Albinus, and Gaius Trebonius stabbed Caesar 23 times with daggers they had concealed in their togas. After Caesar’s death Rome would fall into civil war, which would be fought between Marc Antony and Octavious.