Julius Caesar – Greatest Conqueror Ever?


He was a man of the people, a populist who
helped military veterans and initiated land reform. He was a brilliant strategist on the battlefield,
an astute politician and an avid historian. This man would become the last dictator of
the Roman Republic, paving the way for the great Roman Empire. Julius Caesar was masterful, artful and above
all, powerful. He was adored by the man in the street for
all those things, but despised by those who were envious of the hold he had over the people. This is the story of his life. Gaius Julius Caesar was born on the 12th of
July, 100 BC, in Rome. His parents were named Gaius Julius Caesar
and Aurelia Cotta. This family of his was noble, claiming descent
from powerful ancestors. Where the name Caesar originated has been
debated. It might have been related to the procedure
of the Caesarean section; it could have been linked to the slaying of an elephant or it
might have been down to the first Caesar’s thick, curly locks of hair. Despite being noble, the family was not particularly
rich and didn’t hold much sway in Roman politics of the day. They were comfortable, though, with the father
holding the position of senator and the mother hailing from a wealthy family. Information is scant as to what happened in
the early childhood of Julius Caesar, but we do know that he had to grow up fast due
to his father passing away. At age 16, he was the man of the family. This was a time of division in Rome and there
was a bloody civil war. Caesar’s uncle Marius was in the middle
of that, a man who had granted Caesar the position of high priest of Jupiter. Caesar was also married to the daughter of
his uncle’s main ally, Lucius Cornelius Cinna. Then all came undone for the young man when
his uncle and his ally lost the civil war to the powerful Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Caesar was in a precarious position and his
life was in danger. He was soon stripped of his priesthood, robbed
of the inheritance he was set to receive, and for the sake of his survival he went into
hiding. But Caesar had a stroke of luck when his mother’s
family joined the support of Sulla. He was allowed to come out of hiding, but
he was stripped of his title of priest. As things went, this would make the man to
be, because priests were not allowed to become part of the military. Free of his title, Caesar looked to the army. This being a time of pervasive back-stabbing,
the literal kind, Caesar was well aware that being close to Sulla was perhaps not a prudent
thing to do. He got out of Rome as fast as he could and
joined military campaigns that stretched to Asia. He soon became a man of distinction and received
credit for his part in military victories. Caesar had found his footing and his bearing
in life. When he was 22-years old the great Sulla bit
the dust, and with him out of the way, Caesar knew he could likely return to Rome without
the fear of being killed by an enemy. That he did, and he acquired a house in the
“Subura”, a lower-class neighborhood ripe with crime where the streets always thronged
with people. Stripped of his inheritance, Caesar was not
a wealthy man by any means. His getting to know those streets would shape
his view of life. He would not forget the average man. It’s now that Caesar’s life took another
turn, because during his time in the subura he became an admired prosecutor who brought
down corrupt governors who had taken advantage of their positions. He was renowned for his gift of speech and
dazzled people with his fluid orations. He fought righteously and he won. He garnered even more praise in Rome after
people heard the story of him being kidnapped by pirates when he was travelling the seas. While held prisoner he showed no fear and
even demanded that the pirates raise the ransom they had asked for. He was worth more than the demand, he told
the pirates. The money was paid and Caesar was released,
but that wasn’t the end of it. He soon got a fleet together and went in search
of the pirates. He found them and brought them back to Rome
to face the music. He had them all crucified, just as he had
told them would happen when he was in captivity. But Caesar was lenient, too, and rather than
have them experience the full force of this brutal kind of execution, he first slit their
throats. After that, it was back to the army and more
campaigns in Asia. On his return to Rome the now esteemed man
was quickly made a public official and it is here where his life in politics began. It wasn’t all plain-sailing. He lost his wife, then married again, and
then divorced. But at age 37 he ran for the position of Pontifex
Maximus, which translates as chief priest of the Roman state religion. It was a messy affair, with his rivals for
that post accused of corruption. But Caesar won and it wasn’t even close. At the age of 41 he was elected senior Roman
consul, a position he gained with the help of some powerful friends. He and these two friends would form what is
called the First Triumvirate. This consisted of Caesar, Gnaeus Pompeius
Magnus (Pompey), and Marcus Licinius Crassus. Why would they do that? Well, the simple answer is the constitution
was in place to prevent any one person becoming too powerful and having too much control. But these men agreed to make a secret alliance
in which they would help each other. Together they were powerful, and each of them
would take advantage of that. Caesar had one thing in mind to start with,
a populist move which would involve redistributing public land to some of the poorer people in
Rome. If anyone was against this, he said force
might be used. The two men in his triumvirate agreed, and
so people became aware of the alliance. He was successful, but his number of enemies
were growing, especially within the ranks of the Roman aristocracy. Caesar was viewed as a populist upstart, a
possible danger to the wealthy elite, but he had the admiration of the people for his
social reform. He had the backing of his co-aligned, and
so his power just grew and grew. The thing was, he was still not a rich man
and he had debts to pay. He was aware that money could be made by winning
military campaigns, and he looked towards the region of Gaul which now covers parts
of western Europe. That land was inhabited by Germanic tribes
that might be a threat to Rome, and so Caesar defeated them with two legions. He wasn’t done by any means, and he defeated
more tribes. After which, he concentrated his efforts on
an invasion of Briton. On his way there he won more campaigns winning
battles against various European tribes, although his first invasion of Britain was unsuccessful. On his second attempt his troops made it further
inland and some alliances were made, but Caesar was forced to retreat once more due to revolts
in Gaul. But we shouldn’t underestimate what he had
achieved. Caesar and his legions had crossed Europe
and they had defeated everyone in their path. They had breached the borders of that island
of Briton. Caesar had gained great respect for these
campaigns, but he had his detractors in the people that thought he was gaining too much
power. In Rome there was trouble, and the triumvirate
was strained. One of the enduring strengths of this alliance
was the fact that Caesar’s daughter was married to Pompey, but she died while giving
birth. Caesar offered him another relative, albeit
a distant one this time, and that was turned down. Things went from bad to worse when the third
member of the triumvirate, Crassus, died in a military campaign. Pompey then married the daughter of one of
Caesar’s political enemies and that was the end of the triad. Caesar meanwhile was busy fighting insurrection
in Gaul, campaigns that at times may not have gone as he wanted, but he nonetheless came
out as victor. The many tribes had known if they fought each
other and the Romans they were done for, so they formed an alliance and did have some
success against Caesar’s armies. But in the end Caesar was victorious and he
marched through parts of Europe and defeated around 300 tribes while destroying 800 cities. Caesar is now 50 years old and he faces a
very big problem. Pompey is heading the senate and he’s just
demanded that Caesar disband his legions and return to Rome. Caesar is seen as a power unto himself and
a threat to those in the senate. He’s accused of insubordination and treason. He knows what will happen and he does not
meet the demand. Instead he takes a single legion, men who
are wholeheartedly behind him, to the border of Italy. He will not bow down. In Caesar’s own words he said, “the die
is cast” and he entered Italy ready to go against his opponents in the Senate. Caesar was vastly outnumbered with his one
legion, but those were hardened men who’d been fighting tribes for some time. The fight didn’t even happen and Pompey
fled to Spain with his tail between his legs. Caesar went in pursuit and left Rome in the
hands of the great Mark Anthony. Caesar had no ships since they had been taken
by Pompey, and so he marched into Spain, first subduing anyone that might align with Pompey
and his troops, and then going in search of Pompey himself. What ensued was the Battle of Dyrrhachium,
and at first Pompey had all the strategic advantages. Caesar’s army was in a bad position, unable
to attack and blocked in so they could not get provisions to feed themselves. Pompey on the other hand had the sea, and
he could wait as long as he wanted. But as time went by Pompey was finding it
more difficult to get supplies, while the harvest was on its way and Caesar would be
in good stead for battle. When the fighting finally commenced, Caesar
lost ground; he was simply outnumbered by Pompey’s forces. Both forces didn’t back down, but in the
end Caesar halted his attacks. Both armies retreated and went in search of
more men as well as supplies, and then what happened sometime after was the Battle of
Pharsalus in Greece. Pompey again was in a much stronger position
with double the troops that Caesar had and a lot more provisions. He knew if he just waited, Caesar’s army
would starve. But the senate demanded Pompey attack and
so he did. Caesar’s battle-hardened soldiers were commendable,
and his instructions were perfect. At the end of the battle when many men had
lost their lives all Pompey could do was watch his men running away. He had finally been defeated. Caesar was a proud man and it’s said he
remembered every officer, or centurion, by their name. Pompey fled to Egypt but there Ptolemy XIII
demanded that he be executed. He gave the head to Caesar to see. It backfired and Caesar was inflamed, because
he had been using his time granting amnesty to all those in the senate that had been against
him. Instead of killing his enemies and anyone
who had fought against him, Caesar showed mercy and allowed the men to live their lives
normally. Caesar then campaigned against the Egyptian
pharaoh and he won again. He made the great Cleopatra the ruler and
they became lovers, which is a story that has gone down in history. Although Caesar was married in Rome, what
happened in Egypt kind of stayed in Egypt. Now dictator of Rome, Caesar went off again
on more campaigns and this time he easily defeated armies in the Middle East. He moved on to Africa where there were Roman
enemies who had been aligned with Pompey, and while he didn’t win all the fights,
he did enough. The campaigns didn’t stop and Caesar went
away to Spain. At this time his name was being sung in the
streets and he was being praised for the great and merciful man he was. His enemies were not all slaughtered, but
they had not turned against him in Rome. But enmity towards him started to fester when
he was made dictator for another ten years and began a course of social reforms that
supported the lower and middle classes. This infuriated most of the wealthy people
of course. He wanted to reform tax; subsidize grain,
reduce government debt, support veterans of the military and give Roman citizenship to
people in territories far and wide. He made laws so that certain people couldn’t
buy extravagant luxury goods. He also brought in the Julian calendar, the
pre-cursor to the calendar we use today in the West. At the same time he held outrageous games
where 100s of wild animals were killed as well as over 2,000 war captives. This kind of thing was seen as over the top
by some people. ….
It was March 15 and Caesar was 55 years old. He had won over many of the people and had
become known as a mighty leader, but his power and his reforms had annoyed many of the Roman
elites. They wanted him dead, and so they plotted
to assassinate him. Mark Anthony had got wind of this plot, but
his own plan to inform Caesar was thwarted. Caesar was called to the Senate where he thought
he had some matters to deal with, but little did he know that when he arrived those waiting
for him had all conspired to kill him. Senators grabbed him and pulled him to the
ground and then proceeded to stab him. His body was punctured 23 times and 60 men
were involved. It was the politician named Marcus Junius
Brutus that led the plot, and some records state that Caesar’s last words were, “You
too, Brutus?” Brutus then marched through the streets announcing
to the people that once again Rome was free. The consequence of this was the lower and
middle classes were outraged that their champion had been brutally murdered by corrupt politicians. They became a mob, and a violent one at that. The story is a long one, but civil wars ensued. Mark Anthony aligned with Caesar’s old flame,
Cleopatra, and the two of them warred against Caesar’s grandnephew, Octavian. Octavian won, and he became the first emperor
of the Roman Empire. Caesar has gone down as perhaps the greatest
military leader in ancient Rome, and he had an expression he used to state how he quickly
dealt with other armies. That was, “Veni, vidi, vici” or “I came,
I saw, I conquered.” If liked this video and want to see more videos
that you’ll love then click on this video or check out this video over here. We know you’re going to want to watch both
but you have to start with one so click now!

Comments 100

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *