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Julius Caesar: Friend or Foe?

by Robyn Welborne 3 years ago in history

History Essay

Julius Caesar and Pompey shared a special love/hate relationship within their personal and political life. To Caesar, Pompey represented a father figure to him; yet Caesar saw within himself to one day surpass and conquer Pompey for the throne of Rome. Caesar tolerated Pompey solely for the purpose of gaining his knowledge and wisdom---to later overthrow Pompey’s power in a civil war. Caesar and Pompey struggled for power which ultimately ended in luck on Caesar’s behalf. In 48 B.C., again erupts another civil war (which lasts until the year 45 B.C.) where Caesar utterly defeats everyone and assumes position as emperor of the Roman Empire. As emperor, Caesar adopts Octavian, to further advance his political and popularity status, which surprisingly backfired on Caesar’s original plans he had for Octavian. “Having outcompeted his rivals one by one, Octavian was now by far the most powerful man in the Roman empire … he was basically a military dictator with almost unlimited power (Sommer, 34).” Octavian, as he got older, proved to be far more advanced in his comprehension and skills than Caesar had anticipated, which played to Caesar’s advantage as Octavian willingly shared his insight with Caesar in planning war strategies for Caesar’s army. After Caesar’s death, he left everything he owned to his successor Octavian in his will. With his newfound power and wealth, Octavian decided to donate it all to the poor (in honor of Caesar’s wish). In doing so, Octavian gains prestige with the people of Rome---getting help and support from them to refinance and rebuild his power again. After the Senate went into hiding from killing Julius Caesar, Octavian then takes it upon himself to avenge Caesar’s death by hunting down and killing off each of the members of the Roman Senate. While Caesar was still alive though, he accentuated his supremacy by pleading to the Senate for a force unanimous decision of making him dictator of Rome.

Julius Caesar was already a part of the Roman Senate, along with his cousin Marcus Junius Brutus and a few of his close friends: Mark Antony, Crassus, and Longinus. When Caesar began his career as Emperor, he made Mark Antony his chief general. Not feeling satisfied, Caesar starts to widen the Senate to nine hundred members from all trade nations. Caesar was still not content (with his newly expanded Senate) that he felt the need to be made dictator of Rome in order to further perfect the Roman Empire. Caesar appeals before the Senate and offers up his petition to be established as dictator by telling the Senate that he can enhance and improve the well-being of Rome; little did the Senate know that Caesar was not taking no for an answer. Caesar raised his expectations and forcefully requested that the Senate makes him perpetual dictator, yet it still allowed the Senate to obtain some power by obligating Caesar to renew his reign by them every three months. “His disregard for republican institutions was too cavalier and his assumption of the dictatorship for life alarmed powerful senators (Rogers and Hollister, 199).” The Senate pondered hard on the demand given to them by Caesar because, without having their undivided consent, Caesar’s request would not be made possible. As Caesar was becoming accustomed to his new position as dictator, he had taken up a noticeable interest in Egypt and their customs.

After the defeat of Pompey, Caesar developed this certain fascination with Egypt that eventually led to him surveying the country. While in Egypt, Caesar gets caught up within a civil war between Cleopatra VII (51-30 B.C.) and her brother over the throne for Egypt. Cleopatra VII saw opportunity in Caesar and convinced him to take her side and aid in killing her brother (which Caesar agreed to). With the threat of her brother now gone, Cleopatra VII inherits the Egyptian throne. Cleopatra VII was not pleased with her current status; so to ensure that her reign will be long lasting, she persuaded Caesar to give her a son---to eventually take over after her death. For both Egypt and Rome, Caesar’s actions gave way to both negative and positive effects that resulted in tensions within the two nations. “His mother insisted that he was the son of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar. … but Caesar apparently did not officially acknowledge him (http://www.princeton.edu).” Caesar’s illegitimate son by Cleopatra VII stirs up trouble back in Rome when his wife finds out about his secret love affair while exploring Egyptian lands. With all these efforts from Caesar to try to accentuate himself, for the well-being of Rome, he made one crucial mistake by letting his high ambitions blind his eyes to the central desires of his Senate members.

Julius Caesar was a man of power and prestige, thus he surrounded himself with associates of like-mind. This was his downfall. Caesar failed to recognize the changing ambitions of his colleagues which unavoidably led to his untimely death. In 44 B.C., the Senate became so fed up with Caesar’s dictatorial ways that they summoned Caesar in to the Senate-council room where he was stab twenty-three times by 60 members, which included his supposed pardoned friends Cassius, Longinus, and his cousin, Marcus Junius Brutus. “‘… straightway Tillius Cimber … caught his toga by the shoulders … one of the Cascas stabbed him from one side just below the throat.’ –Suetonius (Sommer, 28)” After the brutal deed was committed, the Senate member went into hiding, mainly away from Octavian who sought revenge after he was informed about the heartless murder of his adopted father. Even though Caesar was a dictator, he did contribute, in his life, to some well-known concepts that are still widely used today.

Though Caesar’s methods of approach (for ruling Rome) were incorrect, he did still play a fundamental role in the development of the modern society that exists worldwide now. The Gregorian calendar was revised by Caesar into a universal system:

[“…By the sixteenth century, it had put the Julian calendar behind the solar one by 10 days. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered the advancement of the calendar by 10 days … If somewhat inelegant, this system is undeniably effective, and is still in official use in the United States. (Snowden)”]

For a while the Julian calendar was the main method in Britain, until 45 B.C., when the days became thrown off track with the rotation of the sun and moon. At that point, Pope Gregory XIII demanded the switch and revision of the calendars to match the cycles of creation. After his death, Caesar did the unthinkable and restored the Senate members---who fought against him---to their original positions. A tyrant he may be, Caesar did receive some acknowledgments after his death, such like the month of July being named after him (Julius Caesar) and having a temple erected in his honor. But taking a step back, Caesar did reform the city by lowering taxes and by boosting the economics of his people by introducing a wide range of spectacular events, such as the gladiatorial games at the Roman coliseum. The games were put in place for entertainment purposes, but ultimately, their main goal was to distract the people from their everyday problems; a sort of outlet for stress that temporarily eased their worries from the harsh realities of life. The life of Julius Caesar, all the way until his untimely murder, has shaped the entire function structure of the known world to this day.

Work Cited Page

Sommer, Michael. The Complete Roman Emperor: Imperial Life at Court and on Campaign. New York: Thames & Hudson Inc., 2010. Print.

Rogers, Guy MacLean, and C. Warren Hollister. Roots of the Western Tradition: A Short History of the Ancient World. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.

Princeton Education. Caesarion. (accessed December 8, 2013). Web.

Snowden, Ben. The Curious History of the Gregorian Calendar: Eleven days that never were. Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved. (accessed December 8, 2013). Web.

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Robyn Welborne
Robyn Welborne
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Robyn Welborne

I am an aspiring creative writer who is currently working for my double Associate’s Degree in English. My writing has no limits and no filter. Anything and everything from all genres; if I think about it, then I will write it down. Enjoy!

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