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10 Things Worth Knowing About Julius Caesar

  1. He was born into one heck of a great family

The gens Julia, Caesar’s house, were a patrician family with quite notable origins. The house claimed to have descended from Iulus, son of the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas, who according to myth might also have been the son of  Venus – Roman goddess of beauty and love. Historia Augusta, a late Roman collection of biographies, suggests that the name of the family stems from the fact that one of its predecessors was born by means of a ceserean section. Other explanations for the name include  the first Caesar having a head full of hair (caesaries); having bright gray eyes (oculis caesiis); or killing an elephant (caesai in Moorish) in battle. Julius Caesar personally preferred the elephant explanation.

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  1. Caesar loved a lot of women in his lifetime

He first got married as a teenager to Cornelia, in 84 BC. They had a daughter together, Julia Caesaris, in 76 B.C. This marriage was not an easy one due to the fact that Lucius Cornelius Cinna, Cornelia’s father was in opposition to the current dictator of the Roman Republic, Lucius Cornelius Sulla. When Cornelia died in 69 B.C., Caesar married Pompeia, a granddaughter of the Dictator. But when a scandal occurred, with rumors spreading about a man crashing an all-women religious festive meeting, in which Pompeia took part, Julius had to divorce her. Later on he met and married his third wife Calpurnia, and also had an affair with Cleopatra.

3. Caesar’s coming of age coincided with a famous feud

In 85 BC Caesar’s father died without a known cause, and Julius had to stand for all his family. He was 16 at the time, and soon enough the battle began for political influence between Caesar’s uncle Gaius Marius and his opponent Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Both of them were quite set on winning, too. And so, they eliminated their enemies by means of bloody purges whenever possible. Lucius Cornelius Sulla won the feud and thus, ordered Caesar to  abandon his inheritance, his wife, and his priesthood (he was a priest for Jupiter). Caesar refused to divorce his wife, Cornelia, and had to hide away until the political climate was appeased again.

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  1. He had quite a serious relationship with Cleopatra

What started as a military operation, soon ended in a world-famous love affair. In 48 B.C., Julius Caesar went to Egypt to wage war against Pompey, a Roman general and a rival of his. There he made acquaintance with the charming Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt, who had some differences with her husband and brother, Ptolemy XIII. Caesar offered to be a mediator to help the two. But, as things turned out, the quarrel did not stop and the clever Cleopatra decided to talk with Caesar face to face. In order for the render-vous to happen, she ordered her servants to smuggle her in a laundry bag, or a carpet as some sources say. We all know what followed.

  1. Caesar and Cleopatra had a son

In 47 B.C., Ptolemy Caesar was born. No one was entirely sure who the boy’s father was, but the rumors were too loud not to believe them. All we know for certain is that Cleopatra held him very dear and made sure that he was an ascendant to the Egyptian throne. Some historians even suspect, that with Ptolemy out of the picture (he died around 47 B.C. ), she wanted a more suitable co-ruler than her next husband Ptolemy XIV, so she poisoned the latter. This meant that Ptolemy Caesar would rule Egypt by her side…and that she would never again had to be bothered with her husband-brothers’ nuances.

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  1. Julius Caesar was once kidnapped by pirates

When Julius Caesar was in his mid twenties, he wanted to study on the island of Rhodes and become one of Apollonius’s students. Apollonius was a famous Greek rhetorician and apparently when one wanted to become a successful politician, the teacher to go to. Even Cicero took lessons from him. However, just as Julius was on his way, an unexpected incident occurred. The pirates hijacked his ship just off the southwestern coast of Asia Minor. When the pirates demanded a ransom, however, the proud Julius said that the sum was too low and he was worth more! Luckily, a larger sum was soon collected and he was set free.

  1. He invented the leap year as we know it today

Before Julius Caesar’s reign, the Romans were all using the lunar calendar. The typical lunar year was 355 days long and also had other intrinsic differences. The calendar was not perfect and sometimes led to strange occurrences, such as seasonal festivals happening out of season. It was also the duty of Roman officials to bear in mind the necessity of adding one day from time to time. But Caesar had a much better idea. He suggested that the solar year should be the basis of the calendar, rather than the lunar one. The new calendar had 365 days, with a leap day happening every four years to even out the seasonal differences.

  1. Julius Caesar was a brilliant tactician

Some historians claim that the Roman Empire never really started before Julius Caesar. He was a brilliant military mind an a staunch supporter of expansion of Rome towards the West and the South. Truth be told, the expansion of land under Roman rule had no limits for him his two political buddies – Pompey the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus, with whom he started the First Triumvirate. As a small political party of sorts, the triumvirate had a powerful voice, even while standing in opposition to the Senate. And afterwards, it also became a thing in world politics. The triumvirate is considered a means of diplomatic rule up to this day.

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  1. Shakespeare wrote a play about him

William Shakespeare apparently found inspiration in the history of Ancient Rome. Not only did he write the play „Julius Caesar” but continued with the classic theme in his other works: „Coriolanus” and „Antony and Cleopatra”. Surprisingly enough, the play’s main focus is shifted towards the character of Brutus. He even speaks more lines than Caesar does in total. Shakespeare ponders the moral innuendos of Caesar’s assassination. The play starts just after Julius’s victory over Pompey‘s sons at the battle of Munda and finishes at the point of Brutus committing suicide by means of his own sword. „Julius Caesar” has been so successful that it has even been made into several movies, starring  Marlon Brando and Charlton Heston.

  1. He was stabbed to death on the Ides of March

On 15 March of 44 BC Roman calendar, Julius Caesar was heading to a session of the Senate as usual. He was quite unsuspecting of any plot going behind his back, as the recent title of  dictator perpetuo  presented to him by the Senate assured him of the people’s support. Little did he know that two of his quiet enemies, Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus have gathered an assassination party behind his back. As soon as Caesar came into the main hall of the Senate, he was stabbed to death 23 times by various Senate members involved in the plot. Brutus and his supporters then marched all the way to Capitol shouting: “People of Rome, we are once again free!” They might have been glad to get rid of the rival, but soon civil wars ensued and it took Rome some years become a concordant country again.

Ides of March

 

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