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Julius Caesar

Birthdate: 100 BC
Date of death: 15. March 44 BC
Other names: Gaius Iulius Caesar

Gaius Julius Caesar , better known by his nomen gentilicium and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a Roman dictator, politician, and military general who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He was also a historian and wrote Latin prose.

In 60 BC, Caesar, Crassus and Pompey formed the First Triumvirate, a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for several years. Their attempts to amass power as Populares were opposed by the Optimates within the Roman Senate, among them Cato the Younger with the frequent support of Cicero. Caesar rose to become one of the most powerful politicians in the Roman Republic through a number of his accomplishments, notably his victories in the Gallic Wars, completed by 51 BC. During this time, Caesar became the first Roman general to cross both the English Channel and the Rhine River, when he built a bridge across the Rhine and crossed the Channel to invade Britain. Caesar's wars extended Rome's territory to Britain and past Gaul. These achievements granted him unmatched military power and threatened to eclipse the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC. With the Gallic Wars concluded, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome. Leaving his command in Gaul meant losing his immunity from being charged as a criminal for waging unsanctioned wars. As a result, Caesar found himself with no other options but to cross the Rubicon with the 13th Legion in 49 BC, leaving his province and illegally entering Roman Italy under arms. This began Caesar's civil war, and his victory in the war by 45 BC put him in an unrivaled position of power and influence.

After assuming control of government, Caesar began a program of social and governmental reforms, including the creation of the Julian calendar. He gave citizenship to many residents of far regions of the Roman Republic. He initiated land reform and support for veterans. He centralized the bureaucracy of the Republic and was eventually proclaimed "dictator for life" , giving him additional authority. His populist and authoritarian reforms angered the elites, who began to conspire against him. On the Ides of March , 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by a group of rebellious senators led by Gaius Cassius Longinus, Marcus Junius Brutus and Decimus Junius Brutus, who stabbed him to death. A new series of civil wars broke out and the constitutional government of the Republic was never fully restored. Caesar's adopted heir Octavian, later known as Augustus, rose to sole power after defeating his opponents in the civil war. Octavian set about solidifying his power, and the era of the Roman Empire began.

Much of Caesar's life is known from his own accounts of his military campaigns and from other contemporary sources, mainly the letters and speeches of Cicero and the historical writings of Sallust. The later biographies of Caesar by Suetonius and Plutarch are also major sources. Caesar is considered by many historians to be one of the greatest military commanders in history. His cognomen was subsequently adopted as a synonym for "Emperor"; the title "Caesar" was used throughout the Roman Empire, giving rise to modern cognates such as Kaiser and Tsar. He has frequently appeared in literary and artistic works, and his political philosophy, known as Caesarism, inspired politicians into the modern era.

Works

Quotes Julius Caesar

„It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.“

—  Julius Caesar
Disputed, (la) Qui se ultro morti offerant facilius reperiuntur quam qui dolorem patienter ferant. Quoted in many works without citation

„I prefer nothing but that they act like themselves, and I like myself.“

—  Julius Caesar
Disputed, Nihil enim malo quam et me mei similem esse et illos sui. Reported by Marcus Tullius Cicero in a letter to Atticus. Variant translations: There is nothing I like better than that I should be true to myself and they to themselves.

„There are also animals which are called elks [alces "moose" in Am. Engl.; elk "wapiti"]. The shape of these, and the varied colour of their skins, is much like roes, but in size they surpass them a little and are destitute of horns, and have legs without joints and ligatures; nor do they lie down for the purpose of rest, nor, if they have been thrown down by any accident, can they raise or lift themselves up. Trees serve as beds to them; they lean themselves against them, and thus reclining only slightly, they take their rest; when the huntsmen have discovered from the footsteps of these animals whither they are accustomed to betake themselves, they either undermine all the trees at the roots, or cut into them so far that the upper part of the trees may appear to be left standing. When they have leant upon them, according to their habit, they knock down by their weight the unsupported trees, and fall down themselves along with them.“

—  Julius Caesar, book Commentarii de Bello Gallico
De Bello Gallico, Sunt item, quae appellantur alces. Harum est consimilis capris figura et varietas pellium, sed magnitudine paulo antecedunt mutilaeque sunt cornibus et crura sine nodis articulisque habent neque quietis causa procumbunt neque, si quo adflictae casu conciderunt, erigere sese aut sublevare possunt. His sunt arbores pro cubilibus: ad eas se applicant atque ita paulum modo reclinatae quietem capiunt. Quarum ex vestigiis cum est animadversum a venatoribus, quo se recipere consuerint, omnes eo loco aut ab radicibus subruunt aut accidunt arbores, tantum ut summa species earum stantium relinquatur. Huc cum se consuetudine reclinaverunt, infirmas arbores pondere adfligunt atque una ipsae concidunt. Book VI

„Of all these, the Belgae are the bravest/strongest.“

—  Julius Caesar, book Commentarii de Bello Gallico
De Bello Gallico, Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae. Book I, Ch. 1

„I will not … that my wife be so much as suspected.“

—  Julius Caesar
His declaration as to why he had divorced his wife Pompeia, when questioned in the trial against Publius Clodius Pulcher for sacrilege against Bona Dea festivities (from which men were excluded), in entering Caesar's home disguised as a lute-girl apparently with intentions of a seducing Caesar's wife; as reported in Plutarch's Lives of Coriolanus, Caesar, Brutus, and Antonius by Plutarch, as translated by Thomas North, p. 53 Variant translations: Caesar's wife must be above suspicion.

„I came, I saw, I conquered.“

—  Julius Caesar
Written in a report to Rome 47 B.C., after conquering Pharnaces at Zela in Asia Minor in just five days; as quoted in Life of Caesar http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Caesar*.html#50 by Plutarch; reported to have been inscribed on one of the decorated wagons in the Pontic triumph, in Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Julius http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Julius*.html#37, by Suetonius Variant translation: Came, Saw, Conquered Inscription on the triumphal wagon reported in The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, as translated by Robert Graves (1957)

„Gaul is subdued.“

—  Julius Caesar
Gallia est pacata. Written in a letter with which Caesar informed the Roman Senate of his victory over Vercingetorix in 52 BC

„It is not the well-fed long-haired man I fear, but the pale and the hungry looking.“

—  Julius Caesar
As reported in Plutarch's Anthony'; William Shakespeare adapted this in having Caesar declare Cassius as having "a lean and hungry look."

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„In most cases men willingly believe what they wish.“

—  Julius Caesar, book Commentarii de Bello Gallico
De Bello Gallico, Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt. Book III, Chapter 18 Variant translation: Men willingly believe what they wish to be true. As quoted in The Adventurer No. 69 (3 July 1753) in The Works of Samuel Johnson (1837) edited by Arthur Murphy, p. 32 Compare: "What each man wishes, that he also believes to be true" Demosthenes, Olynthiac 3.19

„The die is cast.“

—  Julius Caesar
Alea iacta est. As quoted in Vita Divi Iuli [The Life of the deified Julius] (121 CE) by Suetonius, paragraph 33 http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/suetonius/suet.caesar.html#33 (Caesar: … "Iacta alea est", inquit. – Caesar said … "the die is cast".) Said when crossing the river Rubicon with his legions on 10 January, 49 BC, thus beginning the civil war with the forces of Pompey. The Rubicon river was the boundary of Gaul, the province Caesar had the authority to keep his army in. By crossing the river, he had committed an invasion of Italy. A contrasting account from Plutarch, Life of Pompey, 60.2.9: :<u>Ἑλληνιστὶ</u> πρὸς τοὺς παρόντας ἐκβοήσας, «Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος», [anerrhíphtho kúbos] διεβίβαζε τὸν στρατόν. ::He [Caesar] declared <u>in Greek</u> with loud voice to those who were present ‘Let the die be cast’ and led the army across. : He was reportedly quoting the playwright Menander, specifically “Ἀρρηφόρῳ” (Arrephoria, or “The Flute-Girl”), according to Deipnosophistae, Book 13 http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/erudits/athenee/XIII.htm, paragraph 8, saying «Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος» (anerrhíphtho kúbos). The Greek translates rather as “<u>let</u> the die <u>be</u> cast!”, or “Let the game be ventured!”, which would instead translate in Latin as iacta ālea estō. According to Lewis and Short ( Online Dictionary: alea http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059%3Aentry%3D%231776, Lewis and Short at the Perseus Project. See bottom of section I.).

„Fortune, which has a great deal of power in other matters but especially in war, can bring about great changes in a situation through very slight forces.“

—  Julius Caesar
Sed fortuna, quae plurimum potest cum in reliquis rebus tum praecipue in bello, parvis momentis magnas rerum commutationes efficit; ut tum accidit. The Civil War, Book III, 68; variant translation: "In war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes."

„All Gaul is divided into three parts“

—  Julius Caesar, book Commentarii de Bello Gallico
De Bello Gallico, Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres. Book I, Ch. 1 http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/caesar/gall1.shtml; these are the first words of De Bello Gallico, the whole sentence is "All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third." http://data.perseus.org/citations/urn:cts:latinLit:phi0448.phi001.perseus-lat1:1.1.1

„The immortal gods are wont to allow those persons whom they wish to punish for their guilt sometimes a greater prosperity and longer impunity, in order that they may suffer the more severely from a reverse of circumstances.“

—  Julius Caesar, book Commentarii de Bello Gallico
De Bello Gallico, Consuesse enim deos immortales, quo gravius homines ex commutatione rerum doleant, quos pro scelere eorum ulcisci velint, his secundiores interdum res et diuturniorem impunitatem concedere. Book I, Ch. 14, translated by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn

„I assure you I had rather be the first man here than the second man in Rome.“

—  Julius Caesar
On passing through a village in the Alps, as attributed in Parallel Lives, by Plutarch, as translated by John Langhorne and William Langhorne (1836), p. 499 Variant: First in a village rather than second in Rome.

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