Julii History

Amongst the people of Rome, there was always a need for change. For hundreds of years, the Senate ruled the Roman Republic, but it had become corrupt. The lower class and slaves were always separate from the upper classes, and frequently their votes were swayed by false or unfair promises by senatorial candidates. It was not until a man strong enough to march on Rome herself did the Republic receive its first real dictator.

The Julii were just a regular, as far as exceedingly wealthy goes, family in Rome that gave birth to perhaps the most ground-shaking military man of the time. He was such an astounding conqueror and player on the political stage that his exploits are still talked of today; the emperor Napolean Bonaparte even claimed he was descendant of this man. This man is Gaius Julius Caesar.

From his birth in mid-July, 100 B.C., he was caught up in controversy before leaving diapers. Due to the revolutionary political involvements of his uncle, Gaius Marius, Caesar was strongly associated as being a radical as well, since he lead the Populares faction in Rome.. Even in 84 B.C., this view was strengthened as he married the daughter of one of Marius' associates. Marius also appointed the boy in a position of ancient priesthood before the man died in 86 B.C.

Due to his association with the Populares, he was driven out by his political enemy Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 82 B.C. Sulla had become dictator of Rome, and Caesar did not return to his birth city until after Sulla's resignation in 78 B.C. However, he did not stay for long; due to his political failures, he emigrated to Rhodes to study. Upon the coming of 72 B.C., he was eventually elected to the pontificate, which was a group of elite priests in Rome. He returned to Rome the next year.

Later in his career, Caesar was governor of Hispania for a short time. His more dignified role was that of governor in Gaul beginning in 58 B.C. This land contained a few factions; some were loyal to Rome, others still clinging to their own ways and leadership. Early in his rule of Gaul, Caesar marched into the independent regions of Gaul and forced them to leave Roman lands. During his campaign, he also sent other German forces heading for the hills. His conquest brought northern Gaul into Roman hands, uniting the province.

Back in Rome, allies of the rising star that was Caesar attempted to make a greater foothold in the politics of Rome. However, others apparently foresaw his coming power. In an effort to delay Caesar from returning to Rome, he was made governor for an additional five years.

In 52 B.C., Pompey the Great was the only consul in Rome. Caesar had aided the man in receiving his office, and had also given his daughter Julia to Pompey, and she became his wife. Previously, Marcus Licinius Crassus had shared the position, but he foolishly met his death in a war against Parthia in 53 B.C. By that time, Caesar and Pompey had found considerable rifts between them, and when Julia died in 54 B.C., they became outright rivals.

Pompey set out to bring Caesar's power back to controllable limits. Caesar saw this and proposed that they both retire from their positions, but Pompey refused. Bringing the senators together, he managed to convince them to order the great Caesar to disband his army or become an enemy of Rome.

Although Pompey was in control of a much larger army, it was spread throughout various provinces, and therefore left Italy somewhat unprotected. In 49 B.C., Caesar crossed from his own province into Italy and marched on Rome. Pompey fled, his flight eventually bringing him to Greece. Within a few months, Caesar controlled Italy.

In 48 B.C., with Consul Pompey running like a coward, Caesar declared himself dictator until another elected official came to office. Shortly thereafter, Pompey was killed in Egypt shortly after he fled from Caesar's forces in Greece.

Although Caesar was officially a steward until another man elected by the public took power, he had no intention of giving it up. Following suit with Sulla, he attempted to make himself dictator for life. To help support this, he was also consul for a decade, which made it illegal for anyone to harm him. He also clothed himself in the garb of a successful general, amplifying his image as Imperator.

During his reign, he actually did sort out many problems with the Roman Republic. Caesar established a calendar, cleaned up taxation systems and increased the number of Roman senators!

However, all things must come to an end. Perhaps if Caesar had fulfilled his vision for Rome, the great civilization may have existed for far longer a time. His political enemies, fearing he would turn into a king, planned an assassination. When he walked into senate on March 15th, 44 B.C., the senators betrayed and killed him. As said in Julius Caesar, "Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!" However, by killing Caesar, even if those such as Marcus Junius Brutus were reluctant, could very well have also killed 'liberty' and 'freedom' and invited years of tyranny that eventually became the Roman Empire, and the downfall of Rome.